A weekend trip to Boston, for two (for “only” $328.79)

This past weekend, Ian and I took a trip to Boston to visit our friend Alice. We tried to be as frugal as possible but spent over $300 on what was essentially a day trip. Yikes! While the trip itself was a blast, cost-wise things could’ve been better.

Here’s the cost breakdown:

Transportation: $123.59
Food: $140.20
Other: $65
Total: $328.79 (or roughly $165 per person)

Is the food in Boston really so expensive?

Yes. No. Boston may be one of the most expensive places to live in within the US, but because Ian and I are used to NYC prices, everything feels cheaper. Of the $140 we spent, $28 was on bus food (Burger King and McDonald’s, wooooo) and some cookie dough for house chillin’. The rest? Breakfast, lunch part 1, and lunch part 2. We were so full from those meals that we completely skipped dinner.

The Oat Shop has converted me to savory oats. (Click image for Insta link)

On Saturday, we started off our day at Oat Shop in Somerville. Ian and I went to grad school with the founder, so this was the one place we knew we had to try this weekend. The menu is split into savory and sweet; if you’re used to sweet oatmeal, I highly recommend trying something savory. The prices are super affordable, which is exactly what I like to see at a restaurant.

Okay, Ian was mid-blink here, but his face is also saying ‘these rolls better be really good’.

For lunch (part 1), we hit up James Hook & Co to try a lobster and crab roll. When in Boston, am I right? $40 for two rolls is a lot, in my opinion, but we split the rolls between three people. I’ve realized that I’m really not into lobster rolls. Maybe it’s because I haven’t eaten lobster enough to like it, but I thought the crab roll was much better. I don’t regret trying this, but if I could cut back spending on any part of this weekend, it would’ve been these rolls.

I don’t even like BBQ all that much, but this shit was goooooood.

Lunch part 2 was much more satisfying. On our way back to Somerville from Downtown Boston, our Lyft driver recommended a place called Redbones. Why did we bother paying attention? Turns out our driver was a chef who was recovering from wrist surgery. He started his own meal delivery service called Prepped Gainz, which caters to athletes and anyone who wants to eat healthier. After dropping off some purchases, we called another Lyft so we could go straight there. It did not disappoint.

The host who seated us couldn’t have been more than 16. When we asked him what ‘under bones’ is, his response was ‘more restaurant, just darker’. 😂

Okay, what made transportation so expensive?

Ian and I paid $18.50, each way, to Boston and back. As bus tickets go, that’s extremely cheap. Total, bus tickets made up 60% of our total transportation costs. When we were evaluating our transportation options, it was a toss-up between bus and driving. We went with the bus. Specifically, the Chinatown bus. People, I’m telling you now, don’t take the Chinatown bus. It wasn’t worth it.

On Friday night, our bus was one hour late getting in, for no apparent reason (other than some minor traffic). Buses can get delayed, so that’s not a huge deal. Because the tickets were so cheap, I wasn’t expecting power outlets or wifi. What I did expect to have was A/C. The bus circulated air, but it sure wasn’t cool, let alone cold. At our mid-way bus stop, I ran into the Burger King and paid money for a large fountain cup that I promptly filled up with ice, then water. That kept us alive for the rest of the ride, but it was rough.

On the way back to NYC, things were a little better. We filled our water bottle with ice water. It also helped that it was cooler on Sunday than it had been on Friday. Nevertheless, we were two hours delayed getting back into the city, which was frustrating. For this, I can’t blame the driver. A car accident happened one lane over from us on the highway, and a car in front of us started freaking out. The driver had to slam the brakes to not rear end the guy, and effed up one of our tires. We ended up stopping twice to check the tire’s status and also drove at a slower pace for the duration of the ride.

Trying to get back home on Sunday was exhausting. We left our friend’s place at 9 in the morning but didn’t get back to NYC until 4. By the time we got home, it was 5:20 (the bus dropped us off in Chinatown, so it was a good opportunity to do a little grocery shopping). That’s a whole day of travel for a trip that should be much shorter, in theory.

Once we got to Boston we relied heavily on Lyft. A few days before setting out, I got a notification that I had $50 in Lyft credit to use. This is something I get notified of every few months. It’s because I downloaded the app and never used it, so I kept getting higher and higher incentives. It was perfect timing, and I finally took advantage of it in Boston. Over the course of the weekend, we took 6 rides and got a $5 credit on each. We ended up taking public transportation just once; each time we needed to get somewhere, I would pull up the app to see if a Lyft would be cheaper. It was a very fortunate thing to have. Overall transportation costs were reduced, and convenience went up.

Sooooo, was it worth it?

Boston is a great city to live in and to visit. Ian and I had a great time there. We walked half of the Freedom trail (it rained a large portion of Saturday morning) and saw lots of cool things. The important things about trips like this are who you spend your time with. After the rain dampened our Saturday morning plans, we decided to take things homeward. We went grocery shopping, made lemon sorbet (at least, attempted to), and had a blast cutting hair (my first home haircut post middle school). Walking around in the city was fun, but hanging out with friends is what matters most.

The Rorschach inkblot test of art sculptures. I said they looked like beach chairs. Ian said a laptop. Alice said books.

I’ve never seen a fountain that mists before… the kids were loving it.

This was probably the biggest farmers market I’ve ever seen. It was a maze of tents that wrapped around most of a city block. Fresh produce everywhere!

How could I resist such a great photo op? 😀

I loved the residential architecture. So many beautiful houses with bright colors.

A few were a little too colorful, in my opinion.

10/10, will be back again.

Has anyone else taken a similar trip, but at a significantly lower cost? How did you do so?

Comments

  1. Woot! Boston is pretty fun to visit, and yes it can be expensive (I’m reminded everyday :p ). I loved reading a visitors take on the city – thanks for sharing!

    1. Author

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂
      When I go back I’m definitely going to finish walking the Freedom Trail, and spend more time at the harbor – it sucks to have stormy weather ruin water views.

  2. My trips to Boston are pretty cheap. Usually spend less than $100 on transportation, stay with my friend, walk around the mall (but don’t buy anything), and eat at the Cheesecake Factory. But yeah, whenever I go to the Northeast I always want seafood, too!

    Where stuff gets expensive is little trips upstate. Example, we didn’t even rent a car, and renting a cute Airbnb for a long weekend lost $450…So, if we have rented a car that small trip would have cost like, $700, for two.

    1. Author

      Ian and I have taken weekend trips to Vermont a few times. Luckily I think those managed to stay below $500, but that’s only because we have access to car. Anything that isn’t Boston/NYC/DC is just outrageous for transportation.
      I really want to take more trips upstate! There are so many beautiful places to explore.

  3. Jane, I love your blog about your trip to Boston. When I first read your title, I thought $328 for a weekend in Boston for two was a steal! I immediately thought that Ron and I should plan a weekend too. Then I looked at the breakdown of your cost and noticed that accommodations were not included, bumber. I still enjoyed the story and will seek out future blogs. I hope you’re still dancing.

    1. Author

      Thanks for stopping by, Thora! I’m sure you and Ron could easily plan a trip with accommodations for under $500- it’s definitely doable.

  4. The food looks so yummy. Boston is a great town to visit. I’ve always thought the food there was inexpensive. But I live in San Francisco, where a decent sandwich costs $15 dollars.

    1. Author

      Haha so true. San Fran and NYC; the most expensive places to be in on the coasts.

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