The Caddywonked Way With Which We Are Getting To Boston

(SORE THROAT UPDATE: I went to see the doctor on Wednesday, and she said it was just a virus that I had to wait out.  I kind of feel like an over-dramatic hypochondriac.  Indulging on WebMD is one thing…but actually going to the doctor when I have a relatively minor problem is a whole different level of crazy.  Oh well.)

With just two months to go until the marathon (!!!), we decided it was probably time to start making travel arrangements for Boston.

I won’t pretend that this trip hasn’t been stressing me and my little wallet out.  For one, since I was one of the last people to register for this race, all of the hotels through the marathon website were already booked.  After checking daily, a room finally opened up after about a month. I made our reservations even though the overall price was a bit out of our budget.  But, I guess maxing out my credit card is better than spending the night before a marathon sleeping on the streets.  I think.

I’ve continued to check a couple of times a week to see if a cheaper room would open up…until I realized after some research that our hotel was on the cheaper end.  Turns out The Boston Marathon is kind of a big deal and the city celebrates by making everything considerably more expensive just for that weekend.  So what might be a somewhat affordable vacation otherwise turns into quite the high-end ordeal.  I truthfully don’t remember Chicago being that hard to swallow, but we did have almost a year to plan for it.

And plane tickets from here to Boston weren’t easing my anxiety anymore.  Prices were looking to be $700 each to fly out!  I mean, I realize that Boston is pretty much across the country, but yet again, this wasn’t in our budget. I was waiting to purchase tickets, hoping for a miraculous Southwest sale, but getting worried as Marathon Monday crept closer and closer.  And then! Southwest announced a sale last week! I literally dropped everything, grabbed my credit card and was ready to pay just about anything cheaper than $700.  But then, this:

Southwest

Southwest blocked out Marathon Weekend for Boston, and the two other nearby airports (Providence and Manchester)! Thanks, Southwest for ruining my life.  But, after some calculations, the savings of flying out a day earlier/leaving a day later with extra hotel nights were greater than buying tickets at full price with less nights at the hotel.  So, we figured we could stay in Boston longer than anticipated.  BUT, that still meant more nights in a very un-cost effective hotel. And we still needed to figure in transportation, food (since eating at McDonald’s for the entire trip doesn’t sound too appetizing), and other various purchases.  

I started looking at alternate accommodations.  Months ago, Dominick recommended AirBnB.  I started there, but all of the options were to stay with someone in their house.  With them.  Sharing the couch.  Sharing the bathroom. One guy even established a curfew. Maybe some other time, but I wasn’t up for it during a marathon.  I googled “apartment vacation rentals Boston” and came up with all sorts of websites and listings.  For the most part, you can rent whole furnished apartments for about $185 a night! Maybe if I had tried booking a couple of month ago, it would have worked out, but most places were sold out, and the ones that weren’t were charging an extra $300-$1000 because of the Marathon, making the cost per night more expensive than the hotel.  (I have decided to check into this more for upcoming vacations.  Most require 6-7 day minimum stays).

I was pacing around our house, crunching numbers trying to figure out ways to not go broke in the process of getting to Boston while simultaneously realizing that the amount of money we’d be paying could fund a week long all-inclusive vacation in St. Lucia complete with our very own Butlers.

And then Aaron offered up a fresh prospective.  Why not fly into somewhere NOT Boston, Providence, or Manchester and take the leisurely scenic route into the city.

Suddenly, my anxiety started fading away.

We could fly into NYC (though, the likelihood of that being cheaper was about zilch), or we could fly into Albany, drive through upstate New York, into Vermont, then across to Boston in time to get my bib, run the race, recover, and then head back to Albany.  We’d get the freedom to fly whenever since Albany didn’t have the black out dates.  By staying in Vermont, we’re literally paying $150 less per night than we would be in Boston, and even the rental car will not push us over our budget.  Albany is less than 3 hours from Boston.

Plus, I’ve never done the East Coast thing.  I’ve been to The District and I’ve been to Manhattan (and all points in between on the New Jersey turnpike), but that’s it.  (Growing up, Aaron spent his summers in upstate New York since his Grandma lived in the Andes Mountains, but he hasn’t been in years). And we get to actually eat at decent restaurants without worrying that our cards would come back with insufficient funds!

So, our Boston Marathon vacation has turned into a New England vacation.  Plus, I will get to cross off my bucket list item of spending a weekend in a place I’ve never heard of since, aside from Montpelier, the state capitol that I memorized in elementary school, I don’t know any towns in Vermont.  And I hear they have some amazing microbreweries in the area! And if you’ve spent any time here at all, you know that I love a good carb-loading local microbrew (non-IPA of course) before my races!

I am obsessed with covered bridges, but I’ve never actually seen one!

SOURCE

And we’ll still have plenty of time to explore Boston (and I’ll be spending a good 3.5+ hours running the streets).  We’ll do the Freedom Trail and we’ll throw around the word “wicked” like it is going out of style.  And I’m hoping to meet as many of you who will be in town that weekend as possible! (Incidentally, my bff’s at the Today Show were in Boston this morning which made me 10,000 times more excited!).

So, since I know NOTHING about this part of the world, I need suggestions! Stuff to do in Upstate New York, stuff to do in Vermont, stuff to do in Massachusetts  (though, maybe not Plymouth Rock since it looks pretty unimpressive) and stuff to do in Boston.  Breweries, restaurants, historical points of interest, whatever.  Since it seems like advance planning is required in order not to go broke for this marathon, I figure I need to start making arrangements for EVERYTHING since now.

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day, and I hope you all have a great (hopefully long) weekend!

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30 thoughts on “The Caddywonked Way With Which We Are Getting To Boston

  1. yes! when i ran boston we were SHOCKED how much money we blew on flights and hotels. i got a good deal on flights, but for the hotel we ended up staying waaaaaay outside of town (meaning i had to wake up at like 3 am for the race). it was sort of miserable — crazy how packed the city gets for the event! i know other runners who crashed at people’s places through craigslist and air b&b. new york sounds like a lovely option!

    • I know! The plane tickets I was expecting, but when I realized that 300+ a night was the going rate for hotels (when you factor in tax, fees, and parking), I definitely started to worry. I think now we’ve gotten everything under control, but I was pretty ready to forgo Boston and spend that money on a nicer vacation!

  2. Hi Amy! I don’t know too much about upstate New York or Vermont (except that the Ben and Jerry’s factory tour is a must!), but as a Bostonian, here are some of my touristy things to do:

    Walk around! Boston is tiny- it’s like a 1 mile walk from Quincy Market/ Fanueil Hall to the Boston Common/Public Garden to Newbury St./ Back Bay. You can get a city map at the Tourist Center in the Common which also has the Freedom Trail on it.

    If you want to give you feet a rest, I would definitely do a Duck Boat Tour! They’re not too expensive and it’s a great way to see the whole city and hear all about the awesome history!

    One of the best things to do in Boston- take the elevator in the Prudential Center to the Top of the Hub (one of the nicest restaurants in the city) for a drink at the bar. Amazing city views (especially at night) for the price of a cocktail. You can also do the skywalk which is about $15 dollars for the same view without the cocktail.

    There are two breweries in the city: HArpoon and Sam Adams. Both have tours that are either free or like $5. I like Harpoon better b/c you get more beer (but there’s a lot of IPA- so it may not be your choice). Sam Adams is a little bit more out of the way.

    Have fun planning your trip! Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with!

    • I love the duck tours! I always see them in San Francisco. Thanks for all of the suggestions! I just checked out Harpoon’s website…there are a lot of IPA’s! But they have plenty of other stuff too. I think my husband and I are the only people in the world who don’t like IPA, so we’re pretty used to drinking around it! Harpoon doesn’t distribute here, so that might be a better option than Sam Adams.

  3. Boston has a lot … the Harpoon Brewery, Faneuil Hall, running along the Charles, the Commons, All-Star Sandwich Bar, Ana’s Taqueria …

    Anyway, I read your entire entry but wanted to comment most on MY sore throat. I’ve had it since last weekend it’s not going away. I also have no cold symptoms and feel 100% as far as health / running goes. But my throat is annoying the hell out of me and I want it to go away. Guess it’s just “a thing” that’s going around?

    Oh well. Good luck figuring out your path to Boston!

    • That is exactly how my sore throat has been! I think today it finally started to subside, but I could just be getting used to it since I haven’t known any different since last Friday. Hope you feel better soon!

  4. Well, fortunately 2 Fat Nerds is based in the Buffalo, Albany and the Boston area! I personally am in Buffalo, grew up in Albany (where my parents live still) and all of my siblings (Dave, Mike, Adrienne) all live in Boston. If you land late in Albany and need to stay over, let me know because we can hook you up with free lodgings without a problem.

    The Drive from Albany to Boston is fast, 2.5 hours at the most. If you go through Vermont there are some beautiful locations, but it does lengthen the trip. Western Mass has a ton of state parks, as does Vermont.

    As far as Boston, I’ll be there the entire week leading up to the marathon (work conference happened to work out pretty well!), and the entire 2FNS crew is running the 5k race on Sunday. Ellie and I also felt the pain of flying out Marathon night, some direct flights home were 500 bucks… We are taking an indirect to NYC to make it cheaper.

    There is the obvious things in Boston in particular, like Sam Adams and my favorite, the Harpoon brewery, as well as a ton of amazing museums, including the Izabella Stuart Garderner museum http://www.gardnermuseum.org/ , MoMa, Faneuil Hall, tons of shopping, the north end for italian food and bocce and that kinda thing. If you are feeling adventurous you could head up to the north shore to check out the Ocean.

    Keep in touch if you need any help with the north east, we got ya covered!

    • Yeah, Amy, seriously — Brooks and I have a guest room (and a driveway — free parking!) in Belmont, MA just outside of Boston in case you need to crash for a night (most importantly, the night before the marathon). Anything we can do to make your trip easier, just let us know — we know all about marathon weekend and the impacts on traffic patterns, local attractions and all that. It’s a great weekend to be in town but it does take some extra coordination and thought.

      Dave (from 2FNS!)

      • Hi Dave! Thanks so much for the offer! We definitely won’t ask you to host marathon running (potential axe-murders) from the internet in your home! We hope to meet up with you guys while we’re out there!

    • I was actually going to email you because I know that this is your area! Thanks for all of your suggestions and hospitality! Right now the plan is just fly into Albany and stay in Burlington, VT for a couple of days. We’ll try to make it to Boston in time to cheer everyone on during the 5-K! I actually like Sam Adams, but I can have that just about any day, so I’m excited to check out Harpoon! (I think Sam Adams will be at the race anyway), and we love exploring museums! Regardless, we would love to meet up with you guys!

      • Burlington is a pretty awesome place too, I’ve been there a couple of times when I was younger. As your plans develop let me know, I think it would be a ton of fun to grab a drink or something!

        P.S – I despise IPA too. So unnecessary!

    • Thanks! I was impressed with our travel planning skills! And, also I’m jealous that everything on the East Coast seems to be within a couple of hours of each other. The nearest city to here is Phoenix…more than 6 hours away!

  5. I’m so jealous. I’ve never really spent much time on the East coast either — but I did take a trip to Boston last year and immediately fell in love. Everyone has pretty much recommended the same things I’d recommend but I’ll second the duck tour suggestion (not normally my thing, but it was really interesting, plus our tour guide totally hit a parked car and then got into a major screaming fight with a dude with a thick Boston accent and all of the tourists on our duck tour were taking pictures.) I also really liked both brewery tours (I liked the Harpoon UFO beer) and Top of the Hub/running along the Charles River, Fanueil Hall and eating a ton of seafood, canolis (at Mike’s Pastry) and Italian food in the North End! (I’d recommend Lucia Ristorante and Panza.)

    • Thanks for the restaurant recommendations! Our hotel is right next to the Charles River, so that’ll probably be the perfect place to do a shake-out run after all the driving!

  6. That is a great plan! I’m stressing about the expense of my Boston trip especially since I am injured and know I won’t be running a great race. At this point I just hope to be able to run it. Which makes me wonder if I should go at all…

    • Oh no! Hopefully you’ll be able to run it. I know you haven’t had the best of luck with marathons this year, but hopefully Boston will be one that you get to run! I always thought for a marathon like Boston, it would be worth it to hobble through if you had the chance to run it, but after looking at expenses, I was even considering just dropping it until next year so we’d have more time to save up and make hotel arrangements.

  7. OMG, Boston during Marathon Weekend is insane. My sister wouldn’t even leave her apartment when the Marathon was in town because it was madness. When I lived back there, I wasn’t a runner but I did get caught in the city one day of the marathon weekend and I just remember the electricity in the air. You are going to have an amazing time!!! Did you guys look in to running the 5K Freedom Trail? I think they do it every Saturday and I think it’s free. Do not forget to go in to the North End and have some pasta – but maybe not the the night before the marathon!!

  8. If you have time, try to go to Salem. It’s not very far outside of the city. Also if you have time, see if you can go to Rockport. It’s a very cute little touristy fishing village. Cape Ann Brewing Co. in Gloucester is…AMAZING beer!! It won’t be in season now but their pumpkin beer is awesome. BTW, what’s wrong with an IPA?!

    • Salem is on the list of place to go! Probably as we’re heading back to Albany. I’ll definitely look into Cape Ann Brewing. And I just really don’t like the taste of IPA at all! Like, if it was absolutely the only option, I might consider it, but I would rather drink just about anything else. Aaron and I are in a VERY small minority of people though.

  9. It sounds like you found a great solution to the jacked up prices during marathon weekend! I don’t have any specific advice about the Northwest/Boston, but it sounds like a lot of other bloggers have great tips. Hope that your throat starts feeling better and that your training is going great!

  10. Brilliant! That makes so much sense. I’m taking notes for next year. 🙂 We’re hoping to be in driving distance by then, which will help a lot. Enjoy checking out upstate NY and Vermont! I don’t have specific suggestions, but it’s a beautiful area.

  11. It is SOOOO expensive. I couldn’t believe how much more Boston will cost me than NYC cost me last November (I guess if you consider that I didn’t actually get to run the marathon it probably did cost more, but whatever). We have quite a big group going, so we were able to get suites in the back bay for less than what we would pay to stay in individual rooms. We are also adding a rollaway bed to our room so we can avoid adding in another room at $400/night.

    You will love your east coast adventure. If you make it to Rhode Island (which I strongly suggest), you should go to Newport. It is my favorite place in the US.

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