When Diana Clingan's daughter, Brienne, expressed and interest in attending college in Boston, the Port Washington, New York, Mom would have had every reason to fret about such a trip. As the largest urban zone in New England, the Boston area is home to more than 50 colleges and universities. Deciding which ones to visit would be hard enough. But first there were the logistics.
Where would they stay? Could they afford meals and lodging near the campuses they wanted to visit? And what about the "Big Dig" -- the extensive overhaul of the city's streets and expressways that had turned Boston into an obstacle course of orange cones, "road closed" signs, and frustrated drivers?
Instead of worrying about the roadblocks, real and imagined, to their trip, Diana relied on the advice of experts and her common sense. With an auto club travel guide in hand, she booked a hotel "in a random town between Connecticut and Boston, which was much cheaper than anything in the city, and next to a restaurant. Since meals on the road can add up, I made sure it also had a microwave and a fridge, so we could pick up lunch or dinner from a local market," she says.
Diana employed other expert-tested strategies for making their itinerary manageable, but perhaps the most important thing she did was change her perception of the trip ever so slightly. This wasn't just going to be her daughter's college search. It was also going to be a mother-daughter road trip -- one that would build some treasured memories and, when it was over, leave more than a few dollars in Diana's wallet, too.
The Clingans succeeded, and so can any family planning their momentous college tour. It just takes a little front-end strategizing to make sure the trip meets everyone's needs.
Continued on page 2: Planning 101