Author Topic: Long weekend trip (post factum critique)  (Read 2041 times)

FiguringItOut

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Long weekend trip (post factum critique)
« on: September 29, 2014, 09:23:03 AM »
Hello all,

I just came back from a 4-day trip (from NYC area to Philadelphia) with my two tween kids.  I spend a total of $653.  I know I spend too much money on food while we were away, but otherwise it seems ok.  I want to know what you think and how I can improve in the future.

The breakdown of costs:

Hotel: booked Days Inn through price line outside the city for $186 total for 3 nights.  Hotel was fine, the town we stayed at was fine.  But overall, it was a bit too far from Philadelphia.  It was taking me on average almost an hour to go between hotel and the center of Philly.  It was made worse that there didnít seem to be a good way to get into the city and we were taking mostly local roads and streets.  On the other hand, it was the cheapest hotel rate I could find. 

Activities: $87 - includes two museum admission for three people (my older kid is charged adult admission price)

Parking: $28 - parked twice in garages in Philadelphia (one time was able to get early bird special rate).  Did not see street parking that would be for more than couple hours at a time.

Gas/Tolls: Total of $112.  This includes $40 charged to my credit card for EZ Pass refill (not sure how much I actually spend on tolls, probably around $50).  And I came back with practically full tank of gas in the car (filled up in NJ just before entering NY to get cheaper gas prices - $2.95 in NJ vs $3.50 in NY). 

Food, water, medicine, misc.: This came to $240.  During the trip one of my kids wasn't feeling well and I ended up getting medicine at the drug store.  Also bought a lot of bottled water at the drug store.  The water at the hotel was not drinkable (it reeked of chlorine, I couldn't even brush my teeth with it).  We all were getting dehydrated as the weather was a lot warmer this past weekend then we were used to in the last few weeks and we generally drink a lot of water, but at home it's not a problem, but on the trip we needed bottled. As for food, we had breakfast provided by the hotel.  Usually had lunch out, and then had snacks etc. in the hotel room for dinner, except one expensive dinner out at our favorite place.  This one dinner was $68 (tips included).  I also bought kids some treats of a more expensive variety to try (like gourmet chocolate truffles and marzipan which they haven't had before). 

This is it.  I have to say, I'm not sure if the expensive dinner was worth it.  We like the place, but their prices went a up a bit lately and overall, I am just not sure on the whole thing.  I'm very much on the fence about this particular charge. 

What do you think overall?  What would you do different for a trip like this? 

I am planning to do more long weekend trips with my kids within 3-6 hour drive from NYC and may be a trip to Canada (Niagara Falls, Quebec, etc) sometime in the spring or early summer. 

Please note we are not campers and never will be.  I have no interest to even try it, so please donít go that route in your suggestions.  However, I donít mind cheap or very cheap accommodations in hotels/motels/etc.   Not looking for luxury here, just not going to change who we are. 

lakemom

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Re: Long weekend trip (post factum critique)
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2014, 10:48:04 AM »
Could you have stayed in city center for another 100 total (about 35 per night)?  Because that is what staying further out of town seems to have cost.  But as you didn't break out the costs of gas to/from and gas during the stay I may be over estimating. 

In the future bring gallon jugs of water from home along with reusable water bottles on the off chance the nasty water happens again.  This is easier if you are staying close in and can visit the hotel room during the day to replenish BUT water doesn't need refrigeration so leaving it in the car works too.  If you just bring a reusable water bottle you can buy gallons of water at your destination which is vastly cheaper than individual size bottles.

Having travelled frequently with kids, I think you did a great job containing expenses.  Another piece of advice is to check the museum sites, local chamber of commerce, local tourism sites, and the deal sites to see if there are any types of coupons out there for free admissions and meal deals.


chemgeek

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Re: Long weekend trip (post factum critique)
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2014, 10:58:51 AM »
Bank of America has a museums on us program, where certain days, museums are free for card holders ( debit or credit). Some cities have a lot more options than others, but something to consider. Some museums also have free admission days periodically, so planning trips to align with these could help too.

Could you buy a brita and keep it for traveling purposes?

We've recently converted to using air bnb when doing trips like this. It's generally the same or less than a hotel, and having access to a full kitchen really cuts down on food costs if you're not into eating out.

FiguringItOut

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Re: Long weekend trip (post factum critique)
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2014, 11:02:44 AM »
Could you have stayed in city center for another 100 total (about 35 per night)?  Because that is what staying further out of town seems to have cost.  But as you didn't break out the costs of gas to/from and gas during the stay I may be over estimating. 

In the future bring gallon jugs of water from home along with reusable water bottles on the off chance the nasty water happens again.  This is easier if you are staying close in and can visit the hotel room during the day to replenish BUT water doesn't need refrigeration so leaving it in the car works too.  If you just bring a reusable water bottle you can buy gallons of water at your destination which is vastly cheaper than individual size bottles.

Having travelled frequently with kids, I think you did a great job containing expenses.  Another piece of advice is to check the museum sites, local chamber of commerce, local tourism sites, and the deal sites to see if there are any types of coupons out there for free admissions and meal deals.

Hi lakemom,

I did look for hotels in the city, but the cheapest I could find was around $140 per night.  It was not worth it in my opinion. 

The travel between hotel and city - I can't really figure out the break down, but I don't think it would be usefull anyway, considering hotel prices I saw in the city itself.  In the future, I will certaintly make sure I get somewith with easier access via main roads and highways. 

As for water, I did not think of bringing gallon jugs from home and somehow we ended up not having our refillable bottles with us.  It was an oversight on my part.  This is good suggestion and I will definitely use it in the future.  I know my kid filled one of her empty water bottles with apple juice from the free breakfast at the hotel, so that was good also.

Interestingly, we did leave some water in the car and went back to the car parked in the garage and got more while we were in the city. 

As for museums and attractions - I'll be honest, I completely forgot to check local chamber of commerce or AAA sites for discounts.  I do know that museums we went to did not have free admission days, I checked for that. 

It seems that I also need to make sure I travel with a medicine bag in the future.  This was a fairly spontaneous trip in the sense that I booked hotel 3 weeks ago and then completely forgot about all planning and such due to work/home obligations.  Packed the night before, tossed kids in the car the morning off and we went. 

Again, thanks for the water jug suggestion. 

FiguringItOut

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Re: Long weekend trip (post factum critique)
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2014, 11:13:52 AM »
Bank of America has a museums on us program, where certain days, museums are free for card holders ( debit or credit). Some cities have a lot more options than others, but something to consider. Some museums also have free admission days periodically, so planning trips to align with these could help too.

Could you buy a brita and keep it for traveling purposes?

We've recently converted to using air bnb when doing trips like this. It's generally the same or less than a hotel, and having access to a full kitchen really cuts down on food costs if you're not into eating out.

Hi chemgeek,

I did not know about BoA program and I do have their credit card.  I will check it out for future trips.  Thank you for pointing it out. 

The places we went to did not have free admission days, unfortunately.  I checked for that.

I need to look into airbnb.  I never really took a good look at that.  I am fine, even happy to have kitchenettes, as long as there will be at least some meals out for kids.  I am personally not an eating out type, but my kids consider it part of the entertainment.  I am slowly trying to change that, but I also believe that sampling local cuisine is important (with in reasons). 

In the hotel we stayed at, we had mini fridge and microwave in the room.  Ended up making popcorn in the microwave for a stay in snack dinner while we watched a movie after a long day and indulged in our truffles and other treats I got for the kids.  They loved it.  It was a lot cheaper than going out.  ($10 for chocolates, $3 for popcorn (will bring from home next time), other snacks we already had - $13 dinner for 3 people). 

I will need to look into Brita.  Though to be honest, the way this particular water smelled, I don't know if Brita would've helped.