Today I’m introducing a new section to netZoo called Travel Hacks. I’ve traveled quite extensively (at times) over the past 15 years and in digging through my many notes and recollections, I realize there are quite a few tips, tricks, and secrets that I’ve come across. I’m hoping these posts are helpful to those who read the blog or stumble upon it and I know it will be helpful in digitally archiving the more incredible encounters and experiences of the past, present, and future.
This past weekend I met up with more than a dozen college friends for a long weekend retreat on the Pacific Coast (photos here). We chose Oregon because many of us have relocated to the West Coast since graduating from the University of Iowa in Iowa City between 1997 and 1998 and perhaps more notably, one of us needed to stay close to Portland with a seven-week old (these plans were made in early 2008) and two others were not far in western Washington State.
Accomodations: We rented 4 houses for the weekend in Pacific City, Oregon at Shorepine Village. These modern homes were fully decked out with washer/dryer, canoes, mountain bikes, books and oddly mementos and photos from the families who likely own the houses as second homes (or did until their kids went to college). Minimum stay was 3 nights — we went Friday thru Sunday (note that the trip to and from PDX can NOT be done in under 2 hours and may take more depending on weather/road/traffic conditions). Cost: Approx. $300 per person for 3 nights.
Car Rental: Rentals at PDX are more than double rentals from in-town locations. After poking around on the internet and testing out ALL possible frequent flyer discount and coupon options, I realized that the best deal was to forget about all that and go with Enterprise. Enterprise seems to have restructured their biz plan, especially in cities with reliable public transportation, to provide offices in key locations for residents who may not use a car very often or might want to rent one for better mileage and/or wear and tear on longer road trips. Portland’s MAX light rail goes from the airport to downtown and beyond — there are at least 3 Enterprise locations that are accessible from this route. We stayed at the Mark Spencer Thursday night (the junior suite is kinda like some grandma’s old apartment with a nice queen bed, a pull-out sofa and an old school kitchen for $140), spent the following day walking around Portland — one of the most enjoyably walkable cities I’ve been in — and down to Bite of Oregon, a taste of regional food and microbrews — down at the waterfront. Then we picked up a full-size car (a Malibu w/ 5,000 miles on it) at the downtown Enterprise on SW Pine St. The rental is usually about $47 a day but with the weekend half-off deal (available at most in-town Enterprise locations) it was $23 and change. Enterprise’s employees were very nice, I spoke to them several times to push back when we’d pick up the car and also discuss where we should pick it up and drop it off. We decided we would drop it off at 98th street, a location nearby the Gateway MAX stop — just 20 minutes or so from PDX and save the $75 airport drop fee and the Enterprise clerk waived that. So we could drive directly to PDX from Pacific City. All-in-all, the rental with tax was $78 for Friday – Monday. The Malibu was surprisingly efficient, costing only $40 to fill up after more than 250 miles driven (over 25 mpg). AND it had the all important Auxiliary stereo input so we could listen to the Cubs game on the drive out (an exciting extra inning win vs. the Cardinals) and the wildly shuffled mix of music on my Zune after that.
Still to come — the wineries and breweries along the way…