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Old 03-19-2006, 11:01 PM   #1
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Domestic travel doesn't seem to be much of a topic on these boards, but it's the logistics of travelling here in the States that's giving me a headache. Excuse my long explanation, but I could really use some help!

So a while back I was invited by a recently relocated friend (read: ex-boyfriend) to stay with him (read: him and "female roommate") in his spacious New York apartment (read: shared studio) while I traipsed up and down the Eastern Seaboard looking at law schools. Not being very good at reading between the lines--and needing to stay somewhere while I looked at said law schools--I booked a flight and will be arriving at the end of this month for just under three weeks, which in retrospect seems like a very, very long time. I've already looked into changing my ticket to shorten my visit, but it would 1.) cost $150 plus taxes and 2.) would shorten my visit, and I won't say no to travelling.

I'll be spending a few days in each of several places looking at schools (probably including New Haven, Boston, and DC) and was planning on hanging out in New York for the rest of my trip, but given recent developments, my present accomodations might be less than ideal. Then again, I could be misreading things and everything might work out dandily--so, I don't really want to book anything before I know how things will work out. But most likely, even if the living situation is fine, I'll want to have a little more on my itinerary than previously thought.

I've done the requisite 8th Grade History trip to New York and DC and bits of Virginia, so I've seen the monuments and etcetera--though if they're free, what the hell. I'm also interested in spending as little money as possible, since I'll be using what I don't spend to travel in Europe this summer (I leave May 1st).

So my first question is (finally): Given three weeks in New York City and the cities listed above, living on practically nothing past travel expenses, what would you do? As for interests, I'm a history geek and a hiker; I'm also a big fan of just wandering around and taking it all in--I'm fairly easy to amuse.

And my second question: Worst case scenario, I get thrown out by the New Girl or leave due to awkwardness and need to stay somewhere. Any (ultra-cheap, but safe for a 20-year-old single gal) accommodation options anywhere in the cities I've mentioned, or somewhere in between? I'm totally fine with staying in hostels, Motel-8s, on sofas . . . anywhere, really.

Thanks guys! I am forever grateful.

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Old 03-20-2006, 12:39 AM   #2
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Hmmm, I don't have any accommodations suggestions, besides maybe the YWCA? But as for cheap/free things to do, for a history buff in DC, one word: Smithsonian.

I know you went in Gr. 8, but probably you'd appreciate things a bit differently now, and with a bunch of different museums and galleries, you could easily spend the three weeks there, just checking out the amazing collections. And of course, they're all free.

Another great freebie in DC is the nightly performance (6 pm when we were there, double check) at the Millenium Stage in the Kennedy Centre. Get there a bit early - 15 mins is good for getting a seat - and enjoy whatever's on stage that night. They have something every night, and if you don't like the show, you can always leave...though we were always amazed.

Getting around DC is cheap by metro/bus - you can buy a metro pass but they didn't have short term bus passes when we lived there (3 yrs ago). If you want to stay somewhere cheap, look at things outside the city itself, but on one of the metro lines - it's really easy to get around DC that way. And you can spend time wandering around some of the little communities, like Alexandria, Takoma Park etc. as well as browsing Georgetown (though that can be $$$$ if you want to buy anything!)

Good luck with your trip, sorry I couldn't help with other places, I'm sure someone else will have loads of suggestions.

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Old 03-20-2006, 12:51 AM   #3
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Well, if you've got several weeks in NYC, that's plenty of time to soak stuff up without having to be in the thick of it. So you could probably score a cheap hotel/hostel/motel whatever in Brooklyn or Jersey (I know, I know...) and use public transport to get in/out of Manhattan, etc.

As far as stuff to do, I could get lost and enjoy wandering around NY by foot for days on end. The Metropolitan museum alone could probably keep me occupied for a solid day or two.

And having seen all the monuments, etc. I'd still revisit them first off because they're free, but secondly, as a shutterbug. Get all sorts of interesting angles, etc. at different times of the day. Make the most of the situation on as little $$$ as possible!
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Old 03-20-2006, 11:32 AM   #4
 
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Well, you'll have plenty of hostels in Boston, DC, and NYC. Just do a search on the main page of www.travelpunk.com. There's no hostel in New Haven, so you may want to try www.couchsurfing.com or look at cheaper hotel/motel rooms there. The cheapest that I know of is the Duncan Hotel, but it has gotten mixed reviews. I haven't stayed there myself.

There's countless things to do in NYC, so just do a little Googling and read up! I'm sure people will also be able to offer plenty of suggestions.

As for travel between each place...
To get to New Haven, Metro North trains run from Grand Central Station. A one way ticket is $14 off-peak, $18.50 peak if you buy from the vending machines in the station(s).
To get to Boston, Philadelphia, or DC, I recommend the Chinatown bus lines. Sometimes it can be a little tricky to find where the busses depart from, so give yourself plenty of time to do so - don't try to get there 5 minutes before the bus leaves.
For travel to Boston, there is Fung Wah Bus. It's $15 each way. It leaves from Chinatown in NYC, but thankfully, the return trip leaves from Boston's South Station.
For travel to DC (and Philadelphia), I recommend Apex Bus. They charge $20 one way to DC ($35 R/T) and $12 one way ($20 R/T) to Philadelphia.

For these trips, you can also use Greyhound eSaver Tickets. It's a bit easier to use Greyhound since the busses leave from the Port Authority station, but it's also more expensive.

Most of all...I'd clarify things with the ex-boyfriend. Give him a call and flat out ask if his roommate is his girlfriend. Given the price of accomodations in NYC, it may very well be that she's NOT, even in a shared studio. There could be two beds, or he or she is sleeping on a futon or something of that like. My suggestion would be to just ask and that'll save you the headache and uncertainty of waiting until you arrive.

Good luck with the law schools, and let me know if I can help in any other ways.
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Old 03-20-2006, 02:25 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone The transport options are especially helpful . . . I've been looking into train tickets and they're so expensive! Greyhound isn't necessarily cheap either, so the bussing alternatives are great. Thanks Xanthous.

Any areas that are good for hiking over there and accessible by public transportation? They don't have to be too remote; a little scenery and a little uphill is all I ask for. I'm ok with cold, crappy weather

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Old 03-20-2006, 02:53 PM   #6
 
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When you say you were looking into train tickets and they were expensive, are you talking about Amtrak tickets?
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Old 03-20-2006, 05:13 PM   #7
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Re: Amtrak

I think so. Are there different (cheaper) options as far as inter-city railways go?
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Old 03-20-2006, 06:23 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by uninspired@Mar 20 2006, 08:13 PM
Re: Amtrak

I think so. Are there different (cheaper) options as far as inter-city railways go?
[snapback]107714[/snapback]
Not typically...it depends on where, exactly, you wanted to go. From where to where.
For example, from NYC to Boston, the bus is almost always going to be cheaper. From NYC to New Haven, though, as I talked about in the previous post, the commuter rail (Metro North) is cheaper than Amtrak.
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Old 03-21-2006, 01:10 AM   #9
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I've heard about, but never ridden, the Chinatown buses, which apparently are at night, crowded but cheap, cheap ways to get between the big cities on the eastern seaboard (for sure Boston-New York City). My brother-in-law rode on from Boston-NYC to get to a gig, it had to have been the cheapest option. Trains on the east coast are typically horrendously expensive between the big cities. Buses are a cheaper option.



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Old 03-21-2006, 05:33 AM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by tumblezweedz@Mar 21 2006, 04:10 AM
I've heard about, but never ridden, the Chinatown buses, which apparently are at night, crowded but cheap, cheap ways to get between the big cities on the eastern seaboard (for sure Boston-New York City).* My brother-in-law rode on from Boston-NYC to get to a gig, it had to have been the cheapest option.* Trains on the east coast are typically horrendously expensive between the* big cities.* Buses are a cheaper option.


[snapback]107788[/snapback]
The Chinatown busses actually run at all hours. Between NY and Philly, for example, I believe there is a bus every hour. If you ride them overnight, yes, they can be full...when I've ridden them in the middle of the day, though, there has been anywhere from 3 or 4 other people to 20 other people...not exactly packed by Greyhound standards!
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by xanthuos@Mar 20 2006, 01:32 PM

To get to Boston, Philadelphia, or DC, I recommend the Chinatown bus lines.* Sometimes it can be a little tricky to find where the busses depart from, so give yourself plenty of time to do so - don't try to get there 5 minutes before the bus leaves.
[snapback]107636[/snapback]

Definitely worth checking out. I've had nothing but good experiences. And, super cheap. Oh....and include NYC in there too. I've taken it from DC to NYC....
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:38 AM   #12
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Oh wow, that's a great option then, the one I heard about left at something crazy like 3 a.m.

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Old 03-21-2006, 12:09 PM   #13
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The do run at all hours.

It is definitely advisable to show up with plenty of time......they don't mess around.

I love cheap alternatives.
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Old 03-25-2006, 06:51 PM   #14
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Thanks guys . . . sounds like everything is going to turn out a-ok (finally talked to the party in question), but I'm glad to have an emergency back-up plan or three, just in case.
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Old 03-28-2006, 08:39 AM   #15
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Why not just stay in Hostels in NYC? I'm going there next week and am staying in Hostels the whole time. I have friends in the city, but I'd rather not have to go through the mess of staying with them, keeping track of their schedules so I can get a shower, etc...

With a hostel/hotel you are free and don't have to socialize if you don't want to, and don't have to feel you are in the way, etc... (read: the girl may not really want you there and is just going along with it)

Plus in places like HI, you get free breakfast everyday and some hostels have free pizza nights. Plus you can stay up all night watching tv, etc..without bothering others.

I guess i'm just anti-social, but I like the freedom and privacy of staying at a hostel/hotel, and just going out partying with my friends.
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Old 03-28-2006, 08:42 AM   #16
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I meant to add:

You're staying with an ex and his new gal pal?

Ick!... I wouldn't. Too uncomfortable, awkward, etc...

But again, I'm kinda antisocial, and at 27 if my fiance asked me if an old ex of his could stay with us for a couple weeks he might end up on the streets with her!
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Old 03-28-2006, 09:02 AM   #17
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If you are getting around town, there are a few other options, too. The MARC train Camden line runs right into Baltimore from Union Station in DC, and 9 times outta 10 its a cheaper Greyhound or Amtrak fare for some reason from Penn Station in Bmore to Philly and points north. Greyhound operates about 4-6 blocks from the Marc train stop in downtown Baltimore (its a LONG 6 blocks, due south) though I believe they still do taxi connections.

Also, there is an Amtrak station near BWI airport that connects with a MARC line. Again, all in saving cash.

http://www.mtamaryland.com/services/marc/s...ulesSystemMaps/


That's really the only major commuter rail outside of Amtrak in the southern part of your trip. There are also commuter buses available linked off of that site.

Southwest uses BWI as a hub, and flies to Islip and Providence RI (about an hour from Boston), and Airtrain flies out of Dulles in suburban VA. Check into booking some cheap one-ways's.

As for accomodations, I can't really help too much there, but good luck on it!
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