Budget, Travel

Case Study: Traveling for a Wedding

February 27, 2017

Weddings and travel? That’s an awesome combination if you ask me. If you have the ability to stay a couple days around the wedding you’re attending, I highly recommend taking advantage of exploring surrounding areas. If you haven’t had to travel to a wedding yet, don’t worry, your time will come. As someone who has gotten married and been to/in several weddings, destination weddings are my favorite. You can spend more time visiting with people and plan some activities before and after. Whereas if the wedding is local, people have to head home right after. Destination weddings tend to be on the pricier end, but if you save and plan accordingly, you can get by without going broke.

I have a friend, (we’ll call her “J”), who is going to be traveling to Cape Cod for a June wedding, and she wants to see Boston while she’s there. I jumped at the chance to help her and her boyfriend, (we’ll call him “O”), come up with some travel itinerary options. I’ll do a follow-up post if she decides to use any of the options.

I haven’t been to Boston or Cape Cod. I know I want to see Boston eventually, so perhaps I’m doing this a little selfishly… They want to travel for as cheap as possible, so I’m going to do my best to show them some reasonable price options.

Let’s jump in.

Preferred dates of travel: June 7th to June 13th.

She needs flights, additional hotel nights, and a rental car. Plus, what are some cool things they can do in Boston? “J” went to college in Boston, so I’m sure she already has some ideas, but maybe I can find her something new she hasn’t had a chance to check out.

Flights

Option 1

Her preferred dates are yielding great price results! She wanted to leave later on the 7th and return on a morning flight on the 13th. Delta did very nicely for these dates and with a non-stop flight on top of it!

Julia and Omar can travel to Boston and back for just a little over $600 for both of them!

J and O can travel to Boston and back for just a little over $650 for both of them!

Option 2

Alaska Airlines can match Delta if J wants to leave in the evening of the 13th instead of the morning. I’ve never flown Alaska, but I’d be interested to see what their planes were like. (I also judge airlines on their snacks and meals offered, so I’d need to go and be fed on a flight to fully form an opinion.)

Alaska matches Delta in pricing and is a better airline!

Alaska matches Delta in pricing and is a better airline!

Option 3

Virgin America is offering a later morning flight option for them to leave on the 13th for an extra $47. I’m partial to Virgin America (the snacks and comfy seats all the way), but Alaska now owns them so I’m sure the Alaska option would work just as well.

Virgin America is a little nicer, especially for a red eye.

Virgin America is a little nicer, especially for a red eye.

I like a couple options when I’m flight shopping, so hopefully, these are preferable options for them to choose from. We’ll see!

Helpful Tip: It really goes to show that starting to look for domestic flights around 90 days out give you very affordable options!

Hotels

J already had to book some hotel nights for the wedding at the Provincetown Inn. She hasn’t told me exactly what dates she booked yet, so I’m going to take a guess at what nights she can spend in Boston.

Using hotels.com and the dates of Sunday, June 11 to Tuesday, June 13, 2017:

1st attempt

Filters: $0-$100 to start off, guest rating of 3.5 to 5.

No available hotel options. 🙁

2nd attempt

Filters: $100-$150, guest rating of 3.5 to 5.

Found some options, but they’re all at least 10 miles outside of the city of Boston proper. Not sure if this is of interest to them, but I imagine if they want to enjoy Boston a little, they’d want to be a little closer.

3rd attempt

Filters: $155-200, guest rating of 3.5 to 5.

Ok. Boston is a pretty expensive city. They’re also already 43% booked up for J’s dates as of Sunday, February 26th, 2017. I’m also seeing that hotels within the above price range are also several miles outside of Boston proper. Luckily the “T”, Boston’s metro system, is pretty extensive so J and O can stay at a hotel that’s near a metro station and get into the city pretty easily. If they don’t want to go broke, then I’d recommend just that.

Starting over

Filters: $100-$150 to start off, guest rating of 3.5 to 5. (Now we’re looking for hotels near a metro station, I was previously just trying to get them into the city proper.)

The Hampton Inn Boston (1.5 miles/4 min drive from Norwood Depot)

Hampton Inn Boston Price Breakdown

Hampton Inn Boston Price Breakdown

This is highest quality hotel available for their dates, nearest to a train station. It offers a breakfast buffet in the price which is nice. It also was 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor. Again, I’m all about the food, and this hotel boasts a hot breakfast, so that could mean waffles!

Option 2

Filters: $100-$150, guest rating of 3.5 to 5.

This hotel is a bit of a drive to anything, but the price is cheaper and it looks really cool from the photos. No breakfast buffet though. Boo.

Aloft Lexington Hotel (4.9 miles/11 min drive to Lincoln Train Station)

Aloft Lexington Hotel Breakdown

Aloft Lexington Hotel Breakdown

This hotel is out there. The price is pretty reasonable, but you may end up spending the savings on gas.

Option 3

Now, I didn’t sort these by price, but by what I might choose for myself. This next option is the cheapest I could find that had reviews for some clarity.

Howard Johnson Quincy (.4 mile/8 min drive to nearest Quincy Center train station)

Howard Johnson Quincy Hotel Breakdown

Howard Johnson Quincy Hotel

It offers a free continental breakfast, and it’s not too far from the train station. Per the reviews, it was recently remodeled, and could be better than your average Howard Johnson. It’s also bare bones, you’re going there to sleep and then spend the whole day outside of this room.

Rental Car

On rentalcars.com there is a high demand for cars in June. I’ve noticed this with the hotels, so surprise surprise that the cars are also expensive too!

I first started a search from Logan International Airport in Boston, but the cars are starting at $265. They’d save way more money if they avoided the crooks at the airport. -_-

Option 1

Enterprise Rental Car option through rentalcars.com

Enterprise Car Option

Enterprise Car Option

This is the cheapest option for their dates, and it’s approximately a 32 minutes bus/metro ride to the exact pickup location. This reminds me of when I learned about “opportunity costs” in college. They could save $130(ish) if they choose to take a bus and train to pick up their car and then do the same on the return or just bite the bullet and spend the $265 (ish) price for the convenience. They would save the money but lose time. That’s the beauty of budgeting I guess, and it’s good to know the train could get them there with little to no problem.

Option 2

Priceline / Budget Rental Car Option – through kayak.com

Budget Rental Car Option

Budget Rental Car Option

This rental car location would require a shuttle from the airport and then a quick trip on the metro. Surprisingly, it’s way closer but google estimates that it would take them 27 minutes still! Sheesh.

Things to do

Now I know they want to do some sightseeing and activities while they’re visiting. As I mentioned before, J went to school in Boston, so she may have some specific things in mind. I’m a foodie myself, so my food budget is always more than my activities budget, or I just go over because the food and activities are too good to pass up. Kind of defeats the point of a budget. Hm. Anyway, I’ll need to see what J wants to do and maybe I can help her research some things if she doesn’t already have an idea.

Budget Tally

Okay, so if I were to pick from the options listed, this is the trip I would book:

Flight: $668.80 (Alaska Airlines)

Hotel: $349.46 (Hampton Inn Boston)

Car Rental: $138 (Enterprise)

Gas: $100 (It’s a 230 mile round trip from Boston Logan to Cape Cod)

Charliecard 7-day pass: $21.25 or x2 $42.5 (First of all, omg, so cute that they call them Charliecards! Also, the single day tickets are $12 each, and they’re going to need a pass for at least 3 days of traveling around hence the 7-day pass)

So, without food/activities/gifts (for your travel agent here, J? ^_^) their total for flights, Boston hotel, car rental, and metro cards we have:

Total: $1298.76 (See… destination weddings are expensive. But super fuuuun!)

Granted, we can shave that down $100 by going with the cheapest hotel option, but this is what they’re looking at for their baseline trip costs.

I’d say they can budget out $60/day for food if they want to be conservative and allow for maybe a drink at dinner. Activities will also cost a bit, but maybe they can use their student IDs and get into a museum for cheap, or I’ll make a “50 things to do in Boston for free” list for them, eh?

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