Running as a hobby is not expensive. No, really, it’s not expensive. If I just ran 5 days a week for overall fitness and all that other crap that people say they run for, it wouldn’t cost me anything on a monthly basis except maybe in preventative chafing measures and occasionally updating my running shoes. But hey, where’s the fun in a hobby that doesn’t cost you a shit ton of money, am I right? Absolutely.
So here are the areas where I splurge and cut back to save money on racecations and that are helping to make my fall race dreams a reality.
Splurge: Extra Hotel Night
You can save a lot of money by not staying at a hotel, staying at a cheaper hotel, or just not staying the extra nights like the night after the race. I vacillated a lot on whether or not to check out right after Chicago and not pay for a hotel room on Sunday night. It would save me a little over $200, and it seemed like a really good idea. I mean, what was I really going to do after the marathon anyway?
After looking at what time I would probably finish by, I realized that even with late check out there was a limited possibility that I would be able to get back to the hotel and still have a room where I could shower and change before heading out to catch my flight. And sitting here now looking at the budget, that doesn’t seem like a big deal but I’m 99.9% sure that when the marathon is over I’m going to think it’s the biggest deal in the world.
For Disney races, specifically marathon weekend, the decision was whether to fly in Tuesday night before the expo opens on Wednesday or fly in Wednesday morning. All things being equal, and there being a flight out I can take after work so it doesn’t cost me extra vacation time, I ended up deciding to pay the extra and get a hotel room for Tuesday night. It’s not necessary, but with winter weather being as unreliable as it can be and with the Dopey Challenge meaning 4 early mornings already, I’m looking forward to at least 2 days in Disney where I can wake up at a reasonable hour. Like, say, 7am.
Pass: Rack Rate Rooms
I don’t pay full price for hotel rooms. Ever. Chicago marathon weekend, hotels basically are increasing their prices by almost double or more for rooms and guess who is having none of that shit? This girl.
While some people use sites like travelocity or expedia. the other part of my hotel booking policy is cancellation policies and different rates have different policies. 71% of what I’m spending on Chicago is on hotel, and worst case scenario if I can’t make it I’m not eating that cost. After reading the fine print, checking various rates, and doing some math, I found a place that gave me a great discounted rate when I called, cancellation before check in time means no charge, and on top of that it’s conveniently located! Awesome. Thanks, W hotel.
Pass: Unfriendly Airlines
I’m a JetBlue devotee. I love that airline and all the perks it offers its passengers. When given the choice between airlines, if it’s $10 more to fly JetBlue I’ll do it. Why?
Well, you know how unreliable airfare can be and that after you buy it sometimes it goes down. With JetBlue, I know the price fluctuations pretty well and can usually snag the fare at its lowest but let’s say I don’t. Not only can you check a bag for free on JetBlue, but if your airfare goes down and you call them to ask for the lower fare, they’ll put the difference your travel bank that you can use without restrictions on a future flight. That’s partially how I got $56 to use towards my flight for Wine & Dine weekend. On top of that, for the running traveler it’s nice to have the extra leg room to stretch out, the knowledge that because other people can check bags for free, you won’t have to gate check your carry on with your race essentials, free tv, and on top of that, all the snacks you can eat. Because JetBlue understands that you need to carbo load while watching Greg Kelly’s crazy shenanigans on Good Day New York.
All this is to say that United (RIP Continental) can kiss my fat ass good bye because hell will freeze over before I ever fly Satan’s airline again.
Splitting the Hotel
Bringing someone along for the fun saves you money. Although I’m in a room by myself for Chicago (so far), I’m sharing for Wine & Dine and the Dopey Challenge. Hey, cost savings, how nice to see you! I get to stay at the hotel I love for a lower price tag, I believe the kids call that awesome sauce.
So tell me, people, what are you willing to spend extra for and where do you cut corners?