There are many different ways to save money on vacation while visiting Boston. Although Boston is ranked as one of the most expensive U.S. cities to visit, there are many insanely good ways to cut costs and make a Boston vacation affordable.
1. Ditch the Car: Boston is known as "the walking city," so a car isn't really needed to get around. Save on a car rental, gas, and parking by walking or taking the "T" instead. The MBTA, commonly known as the "T" is Boston's subway system. Fares are $2.50 per ride, but if you grab a free plastic Charlie Card (available at major stations), fares are $2.00 per ride. (Note that fares may increase by 5% in July 2014.) However, Boston is a compact city, so walking everywhere is manageable, especially on beautiful days.
2. Eat during "Happy Hours": Although technically happy hours are illegal in Massachusetts, many restaurants still have happy hour specials that involve food specials to lure diners in. $1 oysters, $2 burger, $1 pizzas and more are common, especially on weekdays after work. Also, restaurants near colleges and Faneuil Hall tend to offer more specials and deals; you just need to know where to look. Also, if you are on the go and looking for a deal instantly, consider downloading theMassNightly app, which has different deals currently happening.
3. Skip some meals out: Eating out can take a huge chunk of the budget, so skipping a few meals out can save some serious money. Try eating breakfast later and doing an early dinner instead of have three traditional meals. (And thanks to tip #2, you know there are a lot of good deals early in the evening.) Also, some hotels may offer free breakfast and/or a fridge, and rental units may come with a kitchen. Try to eat a meal (or three) at home or throw some fruit and granola in your bag to eat on the go to hold you over until the next meal.
4. Know where to stay: If you are visiting Boston during the week, try staying at a boutique hotel; however, if you are visiting during a weekend, try staying at a conference hotel to get the cheapest rate possible. If you have a large family or group, consider renting an apartment (with a kitchen) to help cut down on hotel (and food) costs.
5. There's an app for that: Boston has a lot of great startups and tech companies as well as many apps that can help you save money. Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and Hailo are all present in Boston and are a great way to save on transportation if you do need a ride. Taxis in Boston are more expensive than New York City, so taxi alternatives like UberX and Lyft are great ways to save on money. Even better, a quick Google search will land you free credit if you haven't downloaded the app yet.
6. Travel during off-season: Boston is typically quiet (and cold) in the winter for travel but can make for some great deals and offers since there are fewer visitors and better rates in the off-season.
7. Take advantage of free attractions and events: Boston is full of history as well as free events and attractions. Boston is also home to the Freedom Trail, a red brick path that leads to 16 historic sites in Boston for 2.5 miles. Many of the attractions are free or have a small fee on the Freedom Trail. A self-guided tour of the Freedom Trail on a beautiful day is a great way to see the city and stay on budget.
8. Take advantage of discounts: Are you a college student? How about a senior citizen? Do you have an AAA membership? Did you pick up a plastic Charlie Card at the beginning of your trip? There are a lot of discounts to many different Boston attractions by being a member and more.
9. Plan ahead: If you are planning a trip to Boston, plan ahead. Check out daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial and other coupon and saving sites for deals. Whale watching and duck tour daily deals tend to go live at the beginning of the season and are only available to purchase for a limited time; however, vouchers can be typically used in the summer months as well. Also, researching budget-friendly restaurants and attractions in advance is a great way to save money during your trip. Planning ahead and finding discounts in advance is an easy and smart way to save money on your Boston vacation.
Do you have any tips for saving money in Boston on your next vacation?
Kate is the founder and blogger of Boston On Budget, which shares fun things to do and eat in Boston, money saving tips and more. Kate grew up and currently lives in the Greater Boston area, where she likes to attend free local events in her spare time.