36 hours in New York: Without a definite plan

The trip plan

Flight: $180 roundtrip (SEA-JFK direct on Delta)
Hotel: $120(3 people,Holiday Inn, expensive because of the New York Marathon)
Car Rental: $24 (one day, required because I have to drive to East Orange and back at night)

Average cost per person: ~$250. Could have been cheaper if I didn’t have to rent a car. Continue reading


24 hours at Niagara Falls: Part 2- Braving Bad weather

Niagara by night by Angik Sarkar on 500px.com

Niagara by nightAngik Sarkar

Key Takeaways and Tips

a. If you can stay on the Canadian side, hotels are much cheaper.
b. If you have never been to the falls before, definitely budget more time than you think you might need. Staring at the power of the falls is an amazing experience. However, I think 24 hours is enough to visit Niagara Falls if you cannot go to the Canadian side.
c. Do not miss the Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds trip and a chance to see the lighting at Niagara by night is possible. There is a spot at Maid of the Mist docks where you can get close to the American Falls and feel its fury, similar to Cave of the Winds.
d. Parking at Cave of the Winds is $10 but free in the evenings and on Sunday. You can probably save that by parking on the street.
e. Niagara Pass Discovery Pass can be a good buy if you value your time. You definitely overpay compared to simply buying tickets for the Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist and Trolley ride. However, it saves you the hassle of buying tickets at every attraction.
f. Best view of the Horseshoe falls from the American side is from the viewing platform above Maid of the Mist. Continue reading

24 hours at Niagara Falls: Part 1-Planning

The trip plan


Airfare: Portland to Buffalo (~$750 roundtrip for 3 people)
Hotel: Swiss Cottage Inn~$100 (shared by 4)
Car Rental$20
Parking: $10

Trolley: $6

Average cost per person~$290 per person+ hotel. Can be cheaper if planned in advance. Continue reading

24 hours in Washington DC Part 2: A trip during government shutdown

Key Takeaways and Tips

a. You can see a lot of DC in 24 hours. However, DC has enough to keep you covered for at least a week. The approach that works best for me is to get a flavor of the major sites and then devote majority of my time to one or two sites. Experience has taught me that if I rush between sites, I remember nothing about the trip a year later.
b. Parking is extremely costly in DC. However street parking is free whole day on Sunday and Saturday after 6:30PM. I found a lot of empty free parking near the Capitol and at the intersection of 22nd St and Constitution Ave. Public transport or biking is the best way to go. However, it can take up a lot of your time in a short 24 hour trip. On empty traffic days, driving can save you significant time. Parking is also free at the Basilica and Franciscan Monastery.
c. You must do a DC by night tour. There are paid tours with Old Town Trolley or you can drive yourself for free by following the map here: http://www.trolleytours.com/washington-dc/map-google-location.asp. The DC monuments look amazing at night.
d. Philips museum and National Museum of women in Arts has free entrance on the first weekend of the month if you have any Bank of America card. Further you can get cheap tickets to the Newseum and Madame Tussaud’s from goldstar.com. Continue reading

24 hours in Washington DC: Part 1- Planning


(Click to see full size, Google link http://goo.gl/maps/Ntb7n)


Airfare: Portland to Baltimore (~$200 roundtrip)
Hotel: Willard Intercontinental. Free with Chase Priority Club Visa
Car Rental: $13
Parking $45 (ouch!)

Average cost per person~$230 per person+ hotel Continue reading