If you’ve been following my Single Lady Grocery Hauls, you know that my husband Ty has been working in Maine for the past month. Before he left, we were up in the air about whether or not I would visit. We weren’t sure what his schedule would be like and our finances didn’t have a lot of wiggle room. But then I found a plane ticket for dirt cheap and two weeks later, I was flying high!
In my post about visiting New York City on a budget, I mentioned that I love using Kayak.com for finding plane tickets. It’s my go-to. I’ve used Google Flights and Matrix ITA Software, but nothing compares to Kayak. It’s so simple, searches across hundreds of sites, and my favorite features are the Flexible Dates (+/- 3 days or only weekends) and the Hacker Fare (multiple airlines), which both ensure I get the best deals.
When I was first checking for flights from Chicago to Portland, ME, I was seeing numbers like $400. This was not going to fly (get it?!). I even tried bidding on Priceline to no avail. But then I got a little creative and started checking nearby airports and discovered that I could fly into Boston for WAY cheaper and could even catch a bus from the airport directly to Portland. For a split second I thought I was crazy, but when I found a plane ticket for only $137, I knew I had to do it.
And that’s how I discovered the Kayak of ground transportation, Wanderu.com. It literally works the same way as Kayak, searching across tons of different sites, finding you the best deals on buses and trains. I was in heaven! I’m so excited to use this from now on.
For my 5 day trip to Maine, I spent about $220 total, most of which was for transportation. Had I booked my tickets earlier, I likely would have gotten lower prices (Ty got his roundtrip ticket directly to Portland for $203.20 when he booked 6 weeks in advance.)
- $137.20. Roundtrip Flight from Chicago to Boston.
- Found using Kayak. Booked via United.
- $29. Bus Ticket from Boston Logan Airport to Portland, ME.
- Found using Wanderu. Booked via Concord Coach Lines.
- $2.50. Bus Ticket from Portland, ME to Boston South Station.
- Found using Wanderu. Booked via MegaBus. (But it was run by the same Concord Coach Lines I took from the airport.)
- $2.65. Subway Ticket from Boston South Station to Logan Airport.
- Ticket bought at subway station. (Super easy. I just hopped on the Silver Line and was at the airport in under 20 minutes.)
Total Transportation Cost: $171.35
This may seem complicated, and I was afraid it might be, but it wasn’t at all! Had I booked a flight from Chicago to Portland, I would have had a layover. My flight left Chicago at 6am CT, arrived in Boston at 9am ET. I was on the bus by 9:30am and in Portland by 11:45am. Total travel time? 4 hours 45 minutes. This was actually quicker than flying! The bus was clearly marked right outside of the baggage claim and I was pleasantly surprised by the free Wi-Fi, snacks, and water. I’d definitely do this route again!
Tip: Did you know most airlines have a 24 hour cancellation policy? I actually booked my original ticket for $162.20, checked the next day to see it was only $137.20, cancelled right on United.com (no hassle!), and re-booked for cheaper. That $25 savings was worth the 5 minutes it took me to check, cancel, and buy again!
Ty has been provided housing and a car while in Maine, so I was able to stay with him at his place. This was obviously a huge benefit and cost reducer! Not only did I not have to pay for lodging, we were also able to cook at the apartment which saved money.
We ate a lot of the food Ty already had at his apartment, so that was a huge budget savings. Buuuuuut, what’s the fun of vacation if you don’t eat at new places? In Portland, we tried out Bard Coffee (lattes are my weakness), The Holy Donut (sweet potato and ginger glazed donut? AMAZING), and had lunch at Duckfat (duckfat fries, duckfat brussels sprouts, duckfat milkshakes, duckfat everything).
P.S. When I fly, I always bring my own food through security. So much cheaper!
Obviously when your husband is in Maine working at The Public Theatre, you go to a play for fun! I went to the show twice and got free tickets (#wifeperks). We also explored Lewiston where he’s been living, Portland, and Freeport (hello shopping and light houses!). One night we went out for drinks and another we went to a movie. Overall, I probably spent about 20 bucks on stuff to do. Luckily, the beauty of Maine is entertainment enough!
On my way home, I spent the afternoon in Boston. I purposely planned my bus and flight to work out this way. Even though it was drizzling, I walked the Public Garden and Boston Common, grabbed myself some lunch, and explored the downtown. I had been to Boston before, so this was a super casual extra thing I added in, because why not?!
My advice: When your spouse is traveling for work, join them! Last fall I had a conference in San Francisco and Ty came for literally 36 hours. All he had to pay for was his flight and food! The same went for me on my trip to Maine. I may not have seen everything there is to see, but I definitely got to experience a lot of Maine for a lot cheaper than if we would have planned a separate trip there.
What’s the cheapest trip you’ve ever taken?