Also: I started planning and research about 10 months out.
So I have a big summer trip planned next month. It started as a simple trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame for the induction of Ken Griffey Jr. And if anyone knows me, they know how much I love Ken Griffey Jr. That could be a whole another post in itself!
As always, my mind starts turning and working, thinking, what else can I do on this trip? And my first thought is always sports! So I added in a game to Fenway Park, then I saw that the Mariners play in Pittsburgh on Tuesday? Um, ok add that in. As I was thinking more how much of a bucket list trip this was turning into, I thought what other ballpark could I go to that I have always dreamed of seeing. Wrigley Field it is, check.
Ok, that all sounds great, but how does one make this work without spending a small fortune? Well, I am The Saving Traveler. I feel like my resume is so small compared to the other big shots and bloggers, I feel that I know how to save some money while traveling and have done so on many trips.
Keep in mind for this trip I will also have my cousin going with me plus some of his friends that are great travel partners. My cousin has turned into a nice addition to my travel addiction and sports. Las Vegas for March Madness, two out of my three Super Bowls, plus many Seahawks and Mariner Games. Adding on travel partners is an instant savings as you can split rooms, transportation, meals, etc.
Hall of Fame:
The first thing I did was purchase two Baseball Hall of Fame memberships. I got one at $100 and the other at $75 (The latter was on special at Christmas time if you purchased as a gift). This will get us admission into the Hall of Fame for up to 4 people on each membership for both days, special entry line, various gifts included with the memberships and a discount on purchases at the hall of fame. Normal admission would run $23 pp, per day so we saved about $100.
I locked up a rental car quickly as well. These don’t charge at the time of booking which means you can keep looking for a lower rate. I almost always use Costco travel for cars, best rates around usually. $150 for 3 ½ days. We ended up getting two cars for 6 people with luggage. The second car they booked later and got in at $192. We are splitting evenly so $58 per person for the car. I will be using my Chase Sapphire to pay so I get the insurance coverage as well. The rates have doubled since I booked so locking in a rate was valuable.
Next I locked up a hotel for the Hall of Fame area. This was a must since this is a special weekend. To find a hotel sooner than later would save time and money. Nothing was available within an hour of Cooperstown and we were still 10 plus months out, wow! Lots of non-traditional lodging in the area as well. Its upstate New York so lots of B&B’s and motels. I ended up finding an area about an hour away (46 miles) with some regular hotels. I locked up a Microtel by Wyndham. It has free breakfast which it great on a trip like this with 6 people and it saves money! Nothing fancy but two rooms with 2 queen beds in each will be fine. I don’t mind crashing on the floor if needed. I have slept on floors to be able to attend Super Bowls so we will figure it out and the hotel has rollaway beds. Being unsure if everyone would really commit and not knowing what days we would exactly travel did cost me a little in savings, but overall I still saved a bunch. I originally booked two days, then later added on another night. I booked everything with a refundable rate which was about $10 more a night but worth it when planning a large trip like this and when I don’t have airfare yet. Overall for the three nights I paid $779 for two rooms, each with 2 queens. With a group of 6, that breaks down to about $130 per person or $43 a night.
Always start with a search engine. In this case I really like Kayak (Google flights is another great one). It gives you all the regular fares, you can set alerts, plus it produces what it calls, “Hacker Fares”. This shows you how to combine multiple airlines to save money. I monitored these rates and spent hours combining different ways to book including booking multiple one way trips, which is how we needed up booking.
Remember I needed to go from Seattle to Boston to Pittsburgh to Chicago and back to Seattle (SEA-BOS-PIT-CHI-SEA). So with plenty of research here is what I ended up booking. In addition, we booked all nonstop flights and flights that were more convenient for us. This makes the price a little more but worth it. That’s why if you ever notice the cheapest flights are usually red eyes or 6 AM flights. The airlines want to fill those first since they are less desirable times for the common person. Remember, we are doing 3 different cities in 3 days so good flight choices was a must.
- SEA-BOS on JetBlue for $173 per person, non-stop flight and a red eye.
- BOS-PIT on JetBlue for $102 per person. Could have had this as low as $65, but wanted non-stop and a later flight (instead of 6AM) so sacrificed.
- PIT-CHI on United for $128. Cheapest option and a non-stop.
- CHI-SEA on Alaska airlines for $254. This was not a cheapest option but we decided not to fly Frontier and I didn’t want a 6 am flight on Alaska so we took the higher amount and an afternoon flight. Honestly I always say if you are happy paying it, then go for it.
Technically I booked all our hotels before airfare just to lock in some refundable rates. This gives me the option to change them later had our group size change to switch to non-refundable rates for cheaper. It allowed me to have some time to play with hotels and rates which I did. I posted all our final bookings below.
We ended up getting this night for free with some Hilton points. We booked two rooms. Each room has a king bed plus a sofa bed creating a sharing situation again but its free so no complaints. We are staying outside of town near the airport. Remember, each night we are going to a game (for Mon-Wed) so only really need our room to sleep in. I had never researched Boston before but hotels in the city can range $300-400 a night easily. The hotel we originally booked would have been about $90 per person so a nice savings for us.
Was able to book a Marriott brand hotel for $522 for two rooms. Each room is a suite which has two queen beds and a sofa bed. $87 per person and it includes free breakfast. In addition, the hotel is right next to the stadium so that’s a plus.
I changed this hotel a few times. It was the city that gave me the greatest options which made me double think a few times. After having a smaller room booked that was a little cheaper, I went for more name brand (Marriott again) which was in a more central location downtown, nicer, and larger. We have a room with two queen beds per room plus a sofa bed and again free breakfast. At one point I had three different hotels booked until I decided. The rate was $511 total with tax for two rooms. $218 per room plus tax. The total per person was $85 for the night.
A 7 day, 6-night trip, flying into 3 different cities with airfare and hotel plus a car for 3 ½ days and we are at about $1005.00 per person. To compare I saw that there were packages just for the Hall of Fame weekend hotel only, with a few perks added in and a couple meals going for almost the exact same price or more.
Of course there will be spending money. However, for a trip of this magnitude which qualifies as a bucket list trip for us sports fans, I would consider the price a steal.
We were able to get our baseball tickets as well. The total price was about $190 per person total for three games. We have bleacher seats in Boston and Chicago and Box seats in Pittsburgh.
Let’s not forget the most important part air miles and points. It doesn’t always work out perfectly. I am flying two airlines I don’t have accounts for (JetBlue and United) but I still signed up for miles with them just in case. I’ll get miles on the Alaska segment plus I booked with rewards cards so I earned points that way. I also offered to book for some of the group so it worked out well. I used the Chase Sapphire preferred card to earn double points on all travel.
I have a friend that is big into the points thing with various credit cards. I have always been an air mile guy but am starting to explore point/mile cards. I am always looking for more points and miles.