Vanessa of www.turnipseedtravel.com tells you all about her stay in Boston, doing everything her heart desires, while staying within an ambitious budget.
When I first conceived the $200 Challenge two years ago, the premise was fairly simple. Can two people travel for two days spending just $200, and can that travel actually be an enjoyable, quality experience? No dumpster diving, no sleeping on park benches - this had to be safe and fun!
Our first $200 Challenge took us to northern Vermont, where we enjoyed a beautiful campground, surrounded by the brilliant autumn foliage. Ever since, we’ve been challenging ourselves to make that $200 go even further. Campgrounds have given way to hostels and even hotels, while groceries and picnics rub shoulders with diners, bakeries, and cafes.
But are we ready for Boston - and can we really eat lobster?
Boston was a pricey location to pick for the $200 Challenge and adding fresh seafood wasn’t going to make things any easier! On this particular challenge, I was travelling solo and so I have calculated the costs as if it were for two people (fully understanding that sometimes two people will experience extra savings and sometimes they will spend more - let’s assume for the sake of my sanity that it all works out!).
Budget Boston Accommodations
Hosteling International Boston has a phenomenal new building (tremendously eco-friendly, with a heavy dose of style), a great new location (between Chinatown and the Theater District), and is offering the best budget beds in the city. If you book your spot in an 8 bed dorm on a week night, you’ll only pay $37. And you get a whole lot for that money.
Dorm rooms have built in privacy, with mini-closet lockers separating each bunk. Comfy mattresses, clean white linens and duvets, complimentary towels, and TWO pillows make for a very snug bed and a great sleep. And my favorite thing of all? Each bed has a private little nook in the headboard with 4 plugs and a reading light. I slept easy knowing all of my devices were being charged securely while I slept.
Not having to pay for a fresh towel is unique among hostels, but having fresh terry cloth bath mats was an utter rarity! Instead of one large communal bathroom, HI Boston has dozens private individual rooms, each with a large shower stall, sink, toilet, shower gel, hair dryer and, yes, a large stack of fresh, clean bath mats and a hamper to discard the used ones. Between the dorms and the bathrooms, it felt like I was close to being in my own private room.
It would be tempting to spend the entire day inside the hostel and forgo exploring the surrounding city. There’s a lounge and cafe, a library room, laundry, a pool table, a TV area, and a massive kitchen and dining room. The kitchen is host to a generous self serve breakfast every morning that includes bagels, toast, cream cheese, peanut butter, honey, jam, hard boiled eggs, two kinds of yogurt, porridge, cereal, fruit, cocoa, milk, juice, tea, and coffee. And on Sunday mornings there’s even waffles and whipped cream!!! For budget travellers, this is the place to really start your morning off right and load up on a hearty meal. But I might recommend a little more restraint than the guy I saw eating 6 hard boiled eggs and two bagels -though I do applaud him for getting his money’s worth!
The free treats don’t end with breakfast. Throughout the week there are daily free or low-cost activities including tours of the city or of the Harvard campus. There are also movie nights and special events like Sleep For Peace, where the hostel staff hosted a free community celebration dinner. As my plate was loaded down with salmon, chicken, and veggies, I was reminded once again why hostels represent such an amazing value- and such an amazingly good travel experience.
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