Showing posts with label Transportation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Transportation. Show all posts

Disneyland Transportation

So you have decided to take a vacation to Disneyland.  Now the question is, how will you get there?  Living in Texas, driving to Disneyland was not a feasible option for us. It just takes too much time to drive nearly 3,000 miles round trip. 

Washington D.C. & Southern Virginia Getting There

Southwest Airlines departing Dallas Love Field 7:15 AM
Thank you for visiting my vacations on a budget blog.  Our family enjoys travelling, but a budget is necessary. I created my blog to help others plan their next vacation. Over the next several weeks I will post a travel tip from our vacation to Washington D.C. & Southern Virginia in October 2017.  Don't forget to subscribe to my blog so you do not miss any of my posts about our trip to a place a nation was born! This week the blog will provide tips on getting to Washington D.C. without "breaking the bank". 

Pacific Northwest Getting There!

Thank you for visiting my family vacations on a budget blog. My family loves to travel! However my husband & I are both teachers making a budget all the more important.  We have one child, our son is 13. I want to show him as much of this great world as I can before he is grown. This summer we visited the Pacific Northwest for our family vacation.  We traveled July 11th-20th throughout this beautiful area of the United States. In this blog post I will tell you how we traveled to the Pacific Northwest, while maintaining a budget. In the coming weeks I will feature a different destination or travel tip from our Pacific Northwest journey. Subscribe to my blog so you don't miss any of my posts from this fantastic family vacation (on a budget). 

We like to fly Southwest Airlines - 2 bags plus a carry on fly free!

Disney World on a Budget - Transportation

Disney World is massive in size at 40 square miles! How do you maneuver such a large area? Disney World has a wonderful transportation system that will move you around the area.  

Disney Resort Hotel Guests: If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel having a vehicle is not a priority.  Disney will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel using Disney Magical Express. Magical Express will also take you back to the airport at the end of your stay.  Each day Disney transportation will transport you from your hotel to Disney theme parks, water parks, and Downtown Disney at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE. Your transportation options range from bus, monorail, and/or boat depending on the resort you choose to stay in. Transportation usually starts 1-2 hours before theme parks open and continue throughout the day up until 1-2 hours after the park closes. Check with your hotel front desk for transportation schedules when you check in. Using this system you will not have to worry about traffic, parking, or remembering where you parked your car! To find out more about the Disney Transportation System click here.
If you choose to drive yourself to a Disney theme park you have FREE parking at any theme park throughout your stay.

Non-Disney Resort Hotel Guests: So you decided not to stay on Disney property? Did you know you can still use the transportation system? Did you know it's FREE? Yes! You can catch any bus, boat, or monorail from any theme park and ride it to a Disney hotel or theme park of your choice. If you are needing to get to Downtown Disney you will select a bus to a Disney hotel and then from the hotel you will catch a bus or boat from the hotel to that Downtown Disney.  This option sounds great right? Well, this trip I just explained will take you between 1 - 2 hours to complete ONE WAY depending on how fast you catch a bus, boat, or monorail. To find out more about the Disney Transportation System click here.
Most hotels in the Disney World area will transport you to a theme park at certain times of the day. You will need to check with that hotel about pick up and drop off times. If you drive your own vehicle, the cost to park at any Disney theme park is currently $17 per day good for all day at any of Disney's theme parks.

New England On A Budget - Getting There

I live in Texas. The driving distance from Dallas, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts is 1,768 miles.  Needless to say, we did not drive to New England. The eastern coast of the United States is the most densely populated part of the country. Driving in that kind of traffic does not sound like much fun! We flew from Dallas to Boston.

I started watching airline prices to Boston 8 months prior to purchasing my tickets so I would know prices and what was a good deal. A good site to keep up with fares is Google Flights. Another site I use when searching for airfare deals is Fare Compare . Everything I read said the best time to buy an airline ticket is 6 weeks before departure. The cheapest days of the week to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday, & Saturday. The first flight out for the day is typically the least expensive.  If you are early birds then this could save you hundreds of dollars.

I looked at several airports in New England including Logan (Boston), MHT (Manchester, NH), & PWM (Portland, Maine).  Manchester, NH is about one hour from Boston.  Portland, ME is about two hours from Boston. I checked several airline prices and reviews including: American, United, & Jet Blue. At the time I was planning my trip United & Jet Blue had the least expensive fares (around $190/person round trip).  I had not flown either airline prior to this trip. 

After reading reviews for each carrier I selected Jet Blue departing from DFW Airport and flying into Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts. That was a GREAT decision on my part! Jet Blue has direct flights from Dallas to Boston. I takes about 3 1/2 - 4 hours to fly to Boston. They have plenty of leg room for a coach seat which helps with that long of a flight. There is a choice of 10+ TV stations and Sirius XM radio in every seat. Oh and did I mention that your first bag flies FREE? Finally, I was most pleased with the on-time service both going and coming back home. I highly recommend flying Jet Blue! 

Note: Jet Blue is known to offer great sales.  A sale in mid July 2014 had a great sale for the first week in August 2014 with non-stop round trip fares from Dallas to Boston for $120 per person.  Yes I meant to type ROUND TRIP.  It was an incredible sale that I would have jumped on but I had just gotten back from my trip and did not see a point in going back that soon...

New England On A Budget - Getting Around Maine, Massachusetts, & New Hampshire

We spent 11 days in June 2014 in beautiful New England.  During our vacation we traveled by planes, trains, automobiles, and boats. I did a lot of research on methods of transportation in New England. Listed below is what I found:

  • Cruises - Several cruise companies offer cruises that depart from Boston and go to Canada making stops along the coast of New England.  After doing research, I decided this would not be a good option for my family to stay within a budget.

  • Amtrak - Amtrak leaves the Boston North station  and will take you to several stations between Boston and Brunswick, Maine. I opted not to take the train because I wanted to be able to see more of the area than the train would have allowed.  You can visit the Amtrak website to see fares but they were comparable to renting a car for a week. If you opt to take the train instead of renting a car, from Logan Airport you will take the Blue Line to the Orange Line and then to the North Station.  

  • Ferries - There are over 3,000 islands off the coast of Maine. With so many islands, a ferry service is offered by the State of Maine. The Explore Maine by Ferry website gives information about service to some of the islands of Maine. We chose to travel to a lobster village on the island of Vinalhaven. During the winter months this island has less than 100 residents who stay through the brutal winter. The cost to ride the ferry was reasonable at $17.50 for adults and $9.50 for children. The ferry also transports cars but it is my understanding you have to book that months in advance. The ferry ride took 1 hour and 15 minutes each way.  We traveled past 2 lighthouses on our journey and tried to spot whales. In June the temperature was a bit cold for this Texas girl but I stayed on the outside dock of the ferry for the entire trip.  My husband and son went inside for a while during our trip due to the cold wind. Once we arrived in Vinalhaven we walked around town.  We then walked a short distance out of town to a reserve.  However, it was about to rain so we had to walk back but there were trails to explore.  We ate at the Harbor Gawker (see my blog on the food of New England) and then caught the ferry back to Rockland.  It was a great day full of adventure!

    My Rental Car
  • Renting a car - A good rule to remember when you rent a car is that it costs more money to rent from an airport rental agency than an agency outside of the airport. This rule works for any airport, not just Boston.  With that in mind I set out to find a car to rent for our 11 days in New England but NOT at the airport. I researched the car rental agencies and tried to find the best reviewed agency.  Car rental agencies are known to be a bit... crooked. I decided I would go with Enterprise after reading the reviews. Now the next task was to find one outside the airport yet still close enough that I don't spend too much money on subway, cab, or Uber fare. There are several Enterprise agencies in the Boston area.  I looked at the cost and logistics of renting a car for each one. I settled on the Enterprise near the Wonderland Station in Revere, Massachusetts. 
Note: When driving up the Maine Turnpike (I-95) you will encounter toll roads. Pay with cash instead of electronic payment so that you are not charged a fee by the rental car company on top of the toll amount. The tolls were about $6 each way. 

The plan was to get our luggage from the airport and ride the Blue Line subway up to the Wonderland Station.  Enterprise would pick us up and we would rent the car from that location that is approximately 1.5 miles from Wonderland Station. We would then drive back to Wonderland Station and leave our car and luggage and head into Boston for the day.  (Note: Driving and parking in Boston is crazy! We were going to try to avoid that if at all possible.) I booked on Enterprise website for the days I needed about 6 months prior to my arrival in Boston saving about $300 over renting at the airport.  (Note: If you rent a car for a week or more you get a MUCH better rate than just renting it for a couple of days.)  When you decide to rent a car check to see what insurance you have on your policy, it probably covers rental too.  My credit card I used even had insurance for rental cars. You do not have to purchase the insurance the rental car agency tries to sell you. Just remember to have the agent who is helping you make note of every dent and scratch BEFORE you leave the lot. I used my camera and took pictures and video of every dent and scratch. Remember how I said rental companies are known to be crooks? 

The good thing about renting a car from Enterprise is that you can cancel relatively easily without paying a penalty.  This worked to my advantage. After researching rental cars I discovered that prices change frequently based on the number of cars rented out.  Car rental companies do not like to have cars not rented - they lose money. With that knowledge I frequently checked to see if prices would drop at a different rental company in the Boston area or maybe I could get a luxury car for the price of an economy. This just required me to check the website every couple of weeks. Did you know that within 30 days of your scheduled rental, the company looks at upcoming reservations and determines what they have a surplus of and adjusts prices accordingly?  It's true! 29 days before I was scheduled to pick up my rental car, the price dropped at the airport location for Enterprise. I was able to get a higher grade car for the same price I was going to pay for an economy car in Revere, MA. I no longer had to worry about carrying all of my luggage on the subway and then waiting for some random Enterprise guy to come pick me up.  I could just take the airport shuttle to the rental agency and get my car! I was glad I kept checking prices because it turned out this was a great time saver. However, now I had a new problem...

Remember how I said parking and driving in Boston was crazy? See my blog on getting around Boston for the details.

Washington D.C. on a Budget - Getting There

So you are thinking about visiting Washington D.C. but have heard how expensive it is to visit? The rumors are true, however, with a little forethought and this blog you can visit Washington D.C. and NOT break the bank. I travelled with my family in June of 2011 for 8 days, which is not the cheapest time to visit but because of school schedules we were stuck. In this blog I hope to help you travel to DC affordably. Getting to Washington D.C.

If you plan to fly to Washington D.C. you have 3 airports from which to choose:

  1. Washington Dulles International Airport located in Chantilly, VA which is about 26 miles from downtown DC.

  2. Reagan National Airport located in Arlington, VA just across the Potomac River from DC. This airport is the closest to Old Town Alexandria, VA, it is only 2 stops south of the airport on the Metro. (See my other posts with information about hotels in Old Town Alexandria.)

  3. Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) located Baltimore, MD which is about 40 miles from DC.

I used Baltimore International Airport because Air Tran flies into that airport. I chose Air Tran because it was the least expensive option and I had a previous positive experience flying Air Tran. When I say less expensive I mean about $200 less expensive (for the entire family) than any other airline I could find using Fare Compare, Expedia, etc. I paid $726 for 3 round trip nonstop tickets on Air Tran. When I started planning the trip we planned to drive 22 hours to get to DC until I determined it cost the same to fly and my vehicle would not have all the mileage placed on it. I am glad we did not drive as parking and driving in the DC area is a nightmare.

If you choose to fly into Baltimore Airport you will have to travel to DC. You can get to DC by:

  1. Rent a car and drive. When I checked rates the cost to rent a car was about $45 per weekday for an economy car. If you rent a car you will most likely have to pay for parking at your hotel and destinations in and around DC which could cost a fortune. We opted NOT to rent a car because of the expense.

  2. Hiring a taxi. The day our plane landed we could have taken a cab to DC for $20 per person with a minimum of 3 people. The cab driver said it would take 30 minutes to get to DC. We opted NOT to hire a taxi because of the cost.

  3. Take Amtrak or MARC (Maryland Area Rail Commuter) train service. You can catch a FREE shuttle bus from the airport to the BWI train station. You can purchase tickets for Amtrak or MARC at this station to DC. However Amtrak was almost twice as expensive as using the MARC train. We took the MARC on the Penn Line to Union Station in DC. The train was very nice and clean and we did not regret choosing it. It took about 25 minutes to get to Union Station. NOTE: At the time of my travel the last MARC train left BWI train station for DC at 9:20 PM so if you are arriving later than that you might consider taking a taxi. Once you arrive at Union Station you can then catch the Metro to the area where your hotel is located.