My Personal Finance Journey

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The Good and the Bad from My Trip

Contributed by mm | August 2, 2005 12:56 PM PST

I just returned from a week-long east coast trip. Our group of five (my wife and I, our kid and my in-laws) had an amazing time in New York and DC -- this is our first visit to the New England area and I certainly have lots of observations to share:

Hotel Booking

The Good: TripAdvisor is the hidden gem for online hotel booking. For all major hotels, TripAdvisor keeps a series of comments from people who lived in the premises before. You can still use other sites for booking, but TripAdvisor helps you to know the places you will stay much better than the rating systems at Expedia and Travelocity.

The Good: Homewood Suites by Hilton is a great place to stay, especially for a large group like us. The DC Homewood Suites exceeded all our expectations: the suite is roomy for five; free breakfast and dinner (a.k.a "evening manager reception") saved us at least $50 a day; two TVs and complimentary broadband Internet provide great pastime during our free time. It only costs us $129/night + tax.

The Bad: My usually practice when it comes to hotel booking is to search Expedia and TripAdvisor for the best deal, then go to the website of the hotel operators (like hilton.com) trying to get a better deal. Unfortunately, in both occasions, hotel operators refused to give me a better rate so I have to go with Expedia. (The good of the bad: by clicking through Upromise.com, I saved 1% for all Expedia bookings.)

Ground Transportation:

The Good: Calling a taxi in NYC is so easy, and the fare is reasonable -- almost anywhere in Manhatten is between $5-$10. Actually it is cheaper than taking the Metro when you have five people travelling together.

The Bad: Lots of traffic jams! The 5th and 6th Ave at Manhatten is crowded even during non-peak hours.

The Bad: Too many toll roads between NYC and DC. Almost every state and every bridge ask for more money. Sometimes a $2 toll causes a two-mile congestion. Driving in the Pacific Northwest is much more pleasant.

Air Transportation

The Good: Flying with JetBlue is a great experience. The 30+ channel DirectTV programming fills most of our time for the five-hour coast-to-coast flight. Free wireless hotspot at the NYC terminal is a plus too.

The Bad: Delta Air Lines' customer service sucks. I have to stay on the phone for two hours to change a flight. Honestly, I don't want to fly with Delta again.

More to come for sightseeing and shopping post mortems...

This Post Has Received 5 Comments. Share Your Opinions Too.


sixpack Commented on August 2, 2005

You can try bidding for hotels & car rentals thru priceline. Even better, go to www.biddingtravel.com and see what the going bid is for whatever location you want a hotel or car. You can get some good rates at NYC hotels and car rentals in general.

If that doesn't get a good rate, I usually book through hotwire.com


Mark Commented on August 3, 2005

Regarding sixpack's comments, the website he is referring to is www.biddingfortravel.com. I have used them and priceline extensively and am truly spoiled. God help me if I ever have to pay a rack rate anywhere again.


Joe Baduba Commented on August 3, 2005

Amen to Tripadvisor. I've been using it for a couple of years. Especially when travelling to a place I've never been or not familiar with. The reviews are interesting. I usually take the most excited ones with a grain of salt and then also throw out the worst of the worst - unless there is something valid to them like a room that wasn't cleaned. You can tell which reviewers are just cranky and wouldn't be happy with a place no matter how good it is.
Surprising thing I've discovered from tripadvisor is some very good Holiday Inns around the country. They usually have very good rates and some of them are actually very nice.


andrewyu Commented on August 13, 2005

I use www.betterbidding.com to estimate the bottom line price for priceline. I link to priceline through fatwallet's cashback to get 2% additional cash rebate for all priceline purchase.


andrewyu Commented on August 13, 2005

besides priceline hotel, the only other hotel deal that can beat that price is starwood's points through Amex. sometimes it only takes 3000-4000 points to get a night in a 3-star hotel. Considering this Amex starwood may be the best credit card for some frequent out-of-pocket travelers.


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