My Boston trip was planned for months - American Craft Beer Fest (ACBF) ticket bought, cheap airport hotel booked and even convinced my boyfriend to be my co-pilot so I could spend most of the drive in the passengers side asleep. With a long itinerary filled with restaurants and attractions I was sure I was going to see the best of Boston in three days ..but I didn't. ACBF was spectacular but the rest of my time in Boston felt rushed and I only saw a small fraction of what I wanted to.
After returning to Ottawa I thought about what went wrong and identified three big travel mistakes I made:
Don't stay at the airport hotel
I booked my trip to Boston knowing I was on a tight budget so being thrifty I ignored the higher priced hotels in touristy areas like the North End and Financial District in favour of the cheaper airport hotel with free parking and wifi. It looked like a good deal but I didn't do my research; most of the places I wanted to visit were in the North End or Seaport districts which required a lot of driving, tolls and expensive parking. I might have had to pay a premium to stay at a hotel close to the area I wanted to visit but we would have spent less time in the car and more time exploring.
Don't overload the itinerary
My excitement to visit Boston and explore a city rich with craft beer culture showed on the itinerary. On one day I planned brunch at Deep Ellum then wanted to visit two breweries on two different sides of the city before having lunch at Yankee Lobster and attending ACBF at 1:30pm. We did eat brunch and I did go to ACBF and eventually enjoyed clam chowder at Yankee Lobster but anything else was impossible. Make sure your itinerary is realistic; plot attractions on Google Maps to get the most efficient route and be flexible.
Don't depend on your car
I expected to be stuck in the car for the trip to Boston and the return trip to Ottawa but choosing to use the car to travel around the city was a mistake that not only cost us money but a lot of valuable time. Using Boston's subway and bus system would have given us freedom to explore the city and we probably would have discovered some local favourites along the way.
The most important thing whether everything is going according to plan or if you've tossed the itinerary in the garbage is to stay flexible and roll with the punches. I couldn't make it to the breweries I wanted to, luckily Boston is a craft beer loving city and I was able to try new beer at almost every restaurant we ate at not to mention the almost endless samples at ACBF.
What travel advice do you have from learning the hard way?