Every job has its perks. These perks range from employee discounts to overtime/bonus pay to “borrowing” office supplies. It’s important to become familiar with those perks and take advantage of them, because they will save you money. I travel occasionally for work, and one of the perks of my job is that I can tack on personal vacation to these trips, have the travel department change my flight schedule, and only be responsible for the difference in cost. My company has a active recruiting presence on most major college campuses, so another perk is that I can volunteer to man our booth at career fairs all over the US. I graduated from Syracuse University, so when I discovered they were having such an event in February I naturally volunteered. I still have some friends in grad school there, and also saw an opportunity for me to add on some vacation days to visit a friend in Boston and a relative in Portsmouth. I had never been to either of these cities before and looked forward to spending a good portion of my time off exploring them.
I told the travel department that my inbound flight was fine, but could they please extend my rental car and change my return flight to be out of Logan airport in Boston 8 days later? Logan is more connected than the Syracuse airport (Hancock) so those tickets turned out to be cheaper, and I only had to pay about $400 for the rental car for the extra days. This sounds expensive, and it is, but after completely researching all of my options including buses and/or Amtrak I decided that the cost was still comparable and the extra freedom of the rental car was desirable. With local connections in each of my destinations, I managed to avoid hotel fees completely and limited my parking expenses to under $50 which includes parking in downtown Boston and an overnight stay in a Portsmouth garage during Winter Storm Nemo (3 feet of snow in 36 hours!). I gifted each of my hosts with a gourmet mustard to show my appreciation for their hospitality.
Boston is a really cool city! You can walk along the entire Freedom Trail in just one day. Following this double-wide red brick line inlaid in the sidewalks will take you to all of the important landmarks you might wish you see. I also had fun wandering around the Boston Commons and Beacon Hill areas. As I explored Boston, I kept encountering opportunities to save money! I slipped into a tour group at the public library (not sure if the tour was free or not), took advantage of free chowdah samples in Quincy Market, and soaked in the history of one of America’s oldest cities without needing to buy overpriced admission tickets or souvenirs. There was one free model ship exhibit near the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) where I chatted for a while with a member of the Boston Model Ship-Building Guild.
Portsmouth, NH was fun too. I got to see tugboats and tankers loading and unloading, and the Naval shipyard on the Maine side of the river. I saw old churches and crypts right up against one of the main streets. The beauty of this vacation was that I was having the time of my life just walking around looking at things.
I haven’t gotten my travel reimbursement back yet (it usually takes a couple of weeks) but I estimate that I spent under $600 of my own money on the whole 8-day trip. Not the cheapest vacation but not bad either, and I had a blast!