Boston Third Most Expensive U.S. City to Visit + Tips to Lower Travel Costs

Boston Picture

I returned from vacation last week and while I was away I read an interesting article that Boston is among the most expensive U.S. cities to visit… third to be exact, losing only to Honolulu and New York City.

This insight is thanks to Trip Advisor and their 2013 TripIndex report which compares prices from each city from four categories to determine which destinations where the most and least expensive to visit. They compared prices for between cities for a one-night hotel stay, taxi cab ride, 2-course dinner with wine, and cocktails between each city.

Here is the breakdown for Boston:

  • One-Night Hotel Stay for Two at a Four-Star Hotel: $351.79
  • Roundtrip Taxi: $18.80
  • Two-Course Dinner with wine: $76.33
  • Cocktails for Two: $26.67
  • Total: $473.59

Ouch. I spent less than that for 6 days for two people within the United States on my very recent vacation. (Granted I did use my air miles to fly and stayed with family), but still… $473.59 can be a lot of money, especially for one night of vacation, which doesn’t include a flight or Boston parking.

I wanted to share a few tips to bring down travel costs to help those who are visiting Boston in the near future or live in Boston and want a staycation and/or are trying to convince friends and family to come visit at a reasonable price.

Here are some tips to make a one-night visit to Boston much more budget-friendly:

Tips to Save Money on Hotel Costs

  • Be flexible with your dates to find the best hotel rates. Hotel rates in Boston can vary a lot depending on season and what conferences or events are happening in the city.
  • Book a conference hotel on a weekend or a luxury resort during the week to receive the best hotel rates
  • Figure out what’s included or not included in the desired hotel and what makes sense for your individual (or family) needs (Do you need to pay for parking; how much a night? What are your means of transportation around the city; walking, public transit, etc.? Is breakfast or kitchenette included to help save on food costs? How about wi-fi?)
  • Daily deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and more have dipped into the travel deals, and sometimes you can score great deals through a daily deal voucher. Travel deals through these sites often change mid-week and last 7-10 days and have certain restrictions. (But read this USA Today article first and be careful since not all deals are good deals).
  • Priceline: If you are looking for any special hotel accommodations and are just looking to sleep at a great price, priceline may be a good fit. You do need to place a credit card down before you book, and are stuck with what you get. However, websites like betterbidding.com can help you bid better and smarter.
  • Shop around. Prices can change as well as hotel availability. Try a few different booking sites or use a travel aggregator to help narrow down the options to find the best rate. Some booking sites may show no availability for an affordable hotel whereas another site may have it available at a rate in your budget.
  • Find a hotel alternative. Hotels aren’t for everyone or in everyone’s price range. Couchsurfing, Hostels or renting out a room through Airbnb may be a better option for you as well as a vacation rentals through HomeAway.com or VRBO.
  • Don’t forget… If you book your travel online, book your hotel (and more) through cashback sites like Ebates and Shop At Home where you can get a percentage back from your sale! (For example, if you bid $150 for 2 nights for $300+ total on Priceline and Ebates offer 5% cashback from Priceline, you would receive a $15 check afterwards from Ebates for just taking the 5 seconds beforehand to be redirected from their site!) Every penny counts, right!?

Tips to save on Roundtrip Taxi:

  • Take Advantage of Boston’s Innovation and try a car-sharing or driver service, which can be requested with a touch of your smartphone and often is cheaper than a taxi. Below are some taxi alternatives, and discounts, when possible.
    • Uber: Use promo code uberBudget to score a free $10 credit, or try UBERx which is Uber’s cheaper alternative. (Update: LivingSocial has a UberX daily deal available: $2 for $20 credit for new customers only)
    • Lyft: Use promo code BOSBUDGET at sign-up to score a free $20 credit (expires at the end of June)

Using one of these taxi alternatives is a great way to save on (and avoid) taking a taxi during your trip. Heck, you may even score free transportation, which is much better than $18.80 for a taxi ride any day.

Tips to Save on Dinner for Two (with 2-courses and Wine):

  • Eat or have a snack before heading out to dinner to crave and order less, which helps keep the bill at a minimum
  • Eat appetizer specials at the bar before going out to main dinner or eat a few appetizer deals instead of having a full dinner
  • Dine early to take advantage of early bird specials or dine at the bar to grab a bar only deal
  • Check out Boston On Budget’s Cheap Eats page to help navigate the best deals for every day of the week in Boston and Cambridge
  • Enjoy Boston Restaurant Week which is the last two weeks in August (excluding Saturdays) and two weeks in March. Two-course lunches are $15.13, three-course lunches are $20.13 and three-course dinners are $38.13 for Boston Restaurant Week 2013.
  • Buy a daily deal voucher from Groupon, LivingSocial, Travelzoo and more to help reduce, often in half!
  • Restaurant.com is a great way to save at local restaurants and work similar to daily deals, but they don’t have expiration dates. New vouchers also update at the beginning of each month if inventory is low.
  • Check out the GoPapaya smartphone app which lets you save up to 30% at local restaurants when they have open tables they want to fill

Cocktails for Two:

Okay, is $1 Bud Light Drafts at Coogans comparable to sipping cocktails at a Five Star bar with a tab of $26.67? No? Darn. I hate to be the barrier of bad news but Boston doesn’t have a proper Happy Hour because discounting liquor is illegal in Massachusetts. (We do use the word happy hour for discounted food though). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get affordable… Bud Light at bars.

Yes. I rambled on FOREVER… sorry about that. What hotel, taxi/transportation, dining, and cocktail tips (or questions) do you have?!?

Do you think Trip Advisor is on par with the $473.59 for a night out in Boston??

*Disclaimer: A few links in the above post are affiliate links. Please see my disclaimer policy here.

 

Weekend Fun in Greater Boston for May 18-19, 2013

Here’s the weekly round-up of fun and budget-friendly events and activities happening this lovely spring weekend!

EarthFest 2013 Hatch Shell

Radio 92.9′s EarthFest: Saturday, May 18, 2013; gates will open at 10am at the Hatch Shell. Enjoy Radio 92.9′s Annual EarthFest concert on the Hatch Shell with musical guests Vertical Horizon, Fastball, Cracker, Gentlemen Hall, Camper Van Beethoven, and Kids Planet musicians too. Free.

PorchFest in Somerville: Saturday, May 18, 2013 from 12-6pm. Musicans and bands will be performing on their front porches in Somerville to serenade and entertain you. Free.

Japan Festival Boston: Sunday, May 19, 2013 from 10am-6pm at City Hall Plaza. Enjoy food, activities, and music at this traditional Japanese-style festival! Free admission.

East Boston Open Studios: Saturday & Sunday, May 18-19, 2013. Enjoy artwork directly from East Boston residents through their homes and workshops.

ASSEMBLED: Saturday, May 18, 2013 from 11am-4pm at Assembly Row in Somerville. Enjoy handmade arts and crafts from local artists with live music and food trucks. Admission is free with free parking.

SoWa Plant Swap: Sunday, May 19th at 500 Harrison Avenue, Boston. The SoWa Open Market is open for the season and on Sunday their will be a plant swap as well. Bring whatever you have to swap with others. Free.

Jennifer Phelan Bootcamp: Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 9:15am at Faneuil Hall Upper Rotunda. Join bootcamp instructor Jennifer Phelan for the last free Saturday morning workout of the season. Please bring your own mat.

Harvard Art Museums: Saturday, May 18, 2013. Celebrate Art Museum day with free admission for all visitors.

Harvard Museum of Natural History and Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology: Sunday, May 19, 2013. Mass residents can visit the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology for free on Sundays from 9am-12pm with proof of residency.

Cape Cod Restaurant Week: Ending Sunday, May 19, 2013. If you are looking for an excuse to head to Cape Cod this weekend, check out Cape Cod’s Restaurant Week. Three and four-course menus are $25, $30, and $35 per person.

Although it will be beautiful walking weather this weekend, if you need to catch a ride Side Car is still free through this weekend and Uber is offering free/discounted rides to and from the Back Bay!

Hope you all have a great weekend! And Congratulations if you are graduating this weekend!

 

Weekend Fun in Greater Boston for May 11-12, 2013

Happy Weekend and Happy Mother’s Day Weekend to all the Moms out there! Here’s the round-up of all things fun and affordable this second weekend in May:

Fort Point Spring Open Studios Art Walk: May 10-12, 2013 in the Fort Point Neighborhood. Explore over 10 buildings of art and creative design. Free and free parking.

Cambridge Open Studios: Saturday & Sunday, May 11-12, 2013 in North/West Cambridge. Artists in Cambridge are opening their door and art to share this weekend and next.

Harvard Art Museum: Saturday, May 11, 2013. From 10am-12pm on Saturdays, Massachusetts residents can explore the museum for free with proper Mass ID.

Harvard Museum of Natural History and Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology: Sunday, May 12, 2013. Mass residents can visit the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology for free on Sundays from 9am-12pm with proof of residency.

Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum: Sunday, May 12, 2013 from 10-4pm. Celebrate the Lilac all day at the Arnold Arboretum with music, family activities, food vendors, and more. Free.

MAJE Jazz Showcase at the Hatch Shell: Sunday, May 12, 2013 from 12-4pm at the Hatch Shell. Enjoy a day of jazz from various local jazz ensembles.

Enjoy a Movie (First Responders): First Responders (and one guest) can enjoy a movie free on May 11-12, 2013 at Showcase Cinemas in Dedham, Revere, and Woburn.

There are also casting calls this weekend for the Biggest Loser at the Planet Fitness in Revere (must need to lose 80 pounds or more) and Best Ink is looking for talented tattoo artists on Saturday for the Oxygen Reality Show.

And don’t forget Sunday is Mother’s Day!! Go here to discover where Mom can eat, visit, and explore for free this Sunday! Have a great weekend everyone!

 

$1 Burgers at The Place on Thursdays This Spring!

ThePlace

This spring head to The Place on Thursdays between 4-8pm to grab an Angus Burger for just a buck, which starts tonight!

For more information, please visit their twitter page here. For more nightly cheap eats in the Boston area, please see my complete round-up here.

Day of Prayer and Healing

Boston Strong

Wow, what a crazy and emotional week it has been; and it hasn’t even been a full week yet since Monday’s tragedy. I saw this note on my twitter feed this morning from Mayor Menino’s office and wanted to share it. The title of the letter is: Day of Prayer and Healing, which inspired the title of my blog post. Let’s take care of ourselves, reflect on this crazy week, and never forget those we lost & hurt, and those who kept us safe this week.

For those needing a little extra support this week, the staff from the Public Health Commission will be able today from 10-2pm at 617-534-5050 for counseling as well as Monday-Friday 9-5pm. The Red Cross also has a disaster hotline at 1-800-985-5990.

Hope everyone has a better week, and take care of yourselves.

.25 Wings Tonight + More Cheap Eats in Boston

.25wings

Olde Magoun’s Saloon in Somerville hosts .25 wings for the final NCAA championship game tonight.

Also, there are many restaurants and bars that host cheap wings and cheap eats daily. You can find the whole big list here.

If anyone knows any specials for the basketball game tonight or opening day at Fenway (!!) please feel free to leave ‘em in the comments :)

 

3rd Annual Ice Cream Battle Today, 4/5/13 in Harvard Square!

IceCreamTruckBattle

Are you going to be in Harvard Square this afternoon? If so, the 3rd Annual Ice Cream Battle between Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and B.Good’s Milkshakes is taking place tonight!

Stop by Harvard Square at 24 Dunster Street to visit these two food trucks from 4-6pm. Here is what their facebook page says about the event:

“We’re blending free shakes. Ben & Jerry’s dishing out free scoops. Whoever raises most money wins title of the ‘greatest ice cream truck in Cambridge’. All to raise money for our foundation to help good people with great ideas in our community”.

Stop by, taste, and vote for your favorite sweet truck and maybe donate a little to the cause!

If you can’t make it tonight, don’t worry, Ben & Jerry’s is giving away free scoops next Tuesday, April 9th!

Hat Tip to BostonTweet!

 

Weekend Fun in the Greater Boston Area for April 6-7, 2013

Happy April! Here are some ideas to spend the weekend without spending much (or any) money for the first weekend of April!

Boston National Poetry Month Festival: April 5-7, 2013 at the Boston Public Library, Copley Square. Enjoy this 13th Annual festival with poetry readings and celebrations! Free.

Jennifer Phelan Bootcamp: Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 9:15am at Faneuil Hall Upper Rotunda. Join bootcamp instructor Jennifer Phelan for a free Saturday morning workout. Free, but please bring your own mat.

Harvard Art Museum: Saturday, April 6, 2013. From 10am-12pm on Saturdays, Massachusetts residents can explore the museum for free with proper Mass ID.

Harvard Museum of Natural History and Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology: Sunday, April 7, 2013. Mass residents can visit the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology for free on Sundays from 9am-12pm with proof of residency.

Kid Price Saturday at Franklin Zoo: Saturday, April 6, 2013. Pay and feel like a kid the first Saturday of every month at Franklin Park Zoo between 10 a.m. & noon for just $11. Head to Stoneham, MA to the Stone Zoo between 10am-12pm and pay $10 for admission.

Bank of America’s Museum on Us Weekend: Saturday, April 6, 2013 & Sunday, April 7, 2013. Bank of America & Merrill Lynch cardholders can get into select museums the first weekend of every month for free by showing their bank card (per person, not family). Museum of Fine Arts, MIT Museum and other museums across the state participate.

Pasta for Pasta Food Drive at Panera Bread: Saturday & Sunday, April 6-7, 2013 from 11-2am. Stop by your participating Panera Bread and donate a box of Pasta to benefit the Greater Boston Food Bank. Better yet, be one of the first 25 people to do so, and grab a mystery gift card (could win $2-$50) for your next Panera pasta purchase!  

Also, don’t forget to check out Goldstar Boston as they have two events with free tickets (just pay service fee) for this weekend: Rossini’s Comic Opera La Gazzetta From New England Conservatory and New Comedy Thinking of You from Boston Actors Theater (Free tickets selling out fast).

Also, Creed Bratton (Creed from The Office) is performing at the Wilbur on Saturday, April 6th for an evening of story and song. Tickets are $6 through Goldstar (plus service fee) compared to the $22.50 ticket price. Not too bad.

Have a great weekend whatever you decide to do!

(Please note that I am an affiliate with Goldstar, meaning I get thanked when you make a purchase through my link. Please read my disclosure policy here).