New York business travel, on the cheap.
Recently, people have asked how I travel so I decided I want to document it. I finally got to it on this return flight from New York, via Boston.
I spent about 36 hours in New York City and Boston this week to visit a client, YPO, and interview three amazing individuals; Carol Bellamy – former UNICEF Director, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch and Ben Zander – Conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, Author and Leadership Coach. This post is primarily about how I sometimes travel on the cheap, with details about where I stay and how I travel when visiting New York.
First off, the flight from SFO>JFK, JFK>BOS and BOS>SFO were all included in my JetBlue all you can jet pass. I did a total of 7 legs over the 30-day period, booking all flights within 7 days of travel, so it was definitely worth the $500 or so for the pass. I looked into rooms and couldn’t find anything decent for under $300 so spent 10 minutes on Priceline. I couldn’t find anything decent for $180 on Priceline so decided to invest about 1 hour on AirBnB. Prior to this trip, I had I really bad experience on AirBnB and one pretty good experience. The bad experience was because the “seller” did a bait and switch on which room I had – he gave me a mattress on the floor in a loud room rather than the quiet room with a real bed. It was too late to change so I had to suck it up and stay at the place. AirBnB didn’t initially have my back on the bait and switch but agreed to give me $100 credit (of $200 spent) after expressing my real dissatisfaction.
On this trip, my options for lodging options were limited and I’ve become smarter about AirBnB so I figured I would give it another shot. I found an excellent place in Gramercy at 23rd and 7th. The small 1 bedroom was recently completely remodeled, super clean, conveniently located, had a great shower, TV and cable internet (no wireless). It’s on the 4th floor of a 5-floor walkup and it’s an old building but I’ll stay there again. It was $120 per night and the “seller” of the space was super receptive and really nice. Here’s the listing – I recommend it.
I bought a $20 subway/Airtrain pass because I either walk or train throughout New York – I hardly ever cab it. It took me 80 minutes to get from baggage claim (though I didn’t have bags checked) to the apartment. To me, it’s sometimes worth an extra few minutes on the train to save $60. I also spend the entire time replying to email so it’s 90% efficient. The 10% of time walking though gates and climbing stairs is spent listening to music, which is time well spent, in my book.
I walked or trained to my meetings, which I held at the Charity Water HQ at Varick and Houston and at a Synagogue on 68th Street. I didn’t take any cabs in NYC – my total transportation costs were about $18. I didn’t eat at any remarkable places so won’t bother to list. I did however, drink at an establishment that I highly recommend. The speakeasy is called Raines Law Room, located at 17th/Irving. You might call ahead to make a reservation though my party just showed up, rang the buzzer and went to the “bar”. The best thing about the “bar” is that it’s a remodeled kitchen and the drinks our made around a central countertop – it’s a very communal setting and I loved it. The décor is tin ceilings, cool vintage furniture, and dark wood. Check this place out whether you’re a local or visitor.
I headed to Boston on JetBlue. Normally, I would take Accela for South Station in Boston but I decided to fly because the flight was free, given the sunk costs related to my AYCJ pass from JetBlue. I flew to Boston to interview Ben Zander at his home in Cambridge. I spent $2 to take a train to Harvard Square where I spent a couple hours at the Harvard Coop, preparing for my interview and having bowl of Chowdah, which was excellent. I cabbed it to Ben’s house and had one of the most interesting conversations of my adult like. Look for a future post for the details and the video of the interview. You might want to subscribe to receive email alerts as I’ll blog the video interview in a week or so – trust me, Ben is worth it. I spent 90 minutes with Ben and one of his students. I recorded about half of the conversation as my battery died. I’ll cover the details later but the critical takeaway is that Ben is the happiest person I know and understands how to make others happy and meet their highest levels of productivity. He will help you become a better leader and a better person – he’s awesome.
I left Ben’s and walked a few blocks in the pouring rain, until I was able to flag a cab. I tipped my guy $6 on a $30 cab ride and changed my flight to fly into San Jose instead of SFO. They were supposed to charge me $100 for the change but I asked nicely and they obliged.
It was an awesome trip – I hope some of this is useful.
Here’s the breakdown
Flights: three flights: free with $500 AYCJ from JetBlue
Ground Transportation including all airport transportation: $120-125 (keep in mind that this includes 6 one-way airport trips)
Lodging: $240+14% booking fee for AirBnB minus $100 AirBnB credit
Food, including plane food: $45
Coffee and Cocktails: $150
You may be able to see where my priorities are.
I would love to hear about your trips and tricks.