Sunday, September 30, 2007

Planning my October trip back east

I had been attending a meeting back in Washington, D.C. each year and I was expecting to build a trip around it to visit NJ and NY as well, but I just heard this past week that there are no plans for this meeting this year, so my plans for a trip in October are now all up in the air. I had even budgeted for this trip and the cash is actually sitting in my account.

I had budgeted what I thought would be generous for a one-week (six days plus two travel days) trip, but I checked hotel rates in NY and DC and was blown away. Although I am sure I can find some bargains, the "going rate" for a semi-decent hotel in NYC is in the $275 to $425 range and the $200 to $300 range in DC. Airfare is still fairly decent, on the order of $358 from Seattle to Newark. Even if I trim the trip down to four days with one night in Atlantic City, I would still be 30% over my original budget. Unbelievable. Sure, I can do some work and find some better deals, but travel should not be this much work.

Since I don't have that meeting in DC, I will probably only go to New York City, with a side trip to New Jersey. OTOH, this month will be very busy at work, so I have good excuses to skip the trip altogether.

Greyhound is offering $99 one-way anwhere in the U.S. with 14-day advance purchase. Plus $4 to get the ticket by mail. It is only a 3-day trip, each way, from Seattle to New York City, but it does eliminate the hassles at the airport.

I may punt on this east coast trip and simply do a San Francisco trip in November. That trip is only 20 hours each way and $112 round-trip on Greyhound. Of course, hotels in San Francisco are quite expensive.

I may bite the bullet and try Priceline for air travel, but I hesitate since you simply cannot control or predict what kind of odd travel times or conections you might get stuck with. I used to swear by Priceline for hotels, but they seem to have tightened up so that the benefit is not as great. But given prices these days, I may just have to live with it.

-- Jack Krupansky

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