I have a conference in San Diego just after the semester ends. Especially since the university will not pay for the trip, I want to combine it with a vacation in California – I am not sure how long a vacation. Now I am trying to decide how to plan just the conference part of the trip. I need to keep expenses down, but I do not want to make false economies.
1. Should I fly or drive?
Flying: saves time, wear and tear, and money which would be spent on the road.
Driving: means I can take camping equipment, bring things back from Arizona and New Mexico, have adventures, not have a set moment in which I have to come back, not have to come back the exact way I came, and while at the conference, save on taxis and rental cars.
In and of itself flying is cheaper, but even at the conference it could cause one to run into some expenses: cabs in San Diego are $2.50 a mile, and it is 5 miles each way from the conference hotel to the conference … for instance. Also, the longer I stay away, the more sense it makes to have my own car with me.
2. Should I stay in the conference hotel or in the apartment I found on Craigslist? Both cost the same. Which is best, if one does not have a car and there are no buses?
The least expensive conference hotel. 5 miles from the conference, or $12.50 each way by cab. Advantages: colleagues will be there to share rides, and you can walk to the beach. Disadvantage: eating in restaurants will add up.
A studio apartment from Craigslist, nice. 2 miles from the conference, or $5 each way. Advantages: has kitchen, is much nicer than a hotel room. Disadvantages: not on the beach, so how would one get there, and will one really have time to shop and cook?
3. Should I fly and rent a car?
On the face of it, this is the most extravagant of the options, but I wonder if that is actually true. It eliminates over 4,000 miles of driving, and the costs associated with this. It also eliminates the cost of cabs at the conference, which will be about as high per day as the cost of a rental car. It makes cheaper eating options more accessible. And if, for instance, I should decide I want to go to San Francisco on a commuter flight and live by public transportation up there, I can simply give the car back and do that.
I have not considered costs of parking, it is true, and flight + hotel + rental car seems so much to commit to at this point. I need to make lodging reservations soon, and flight reservations in the medium term if I am going to have them. My desire is to drive, as it means I do not have to commit to so many corporate reservations now, and it feels cheapest / easiest – although in reality I fear it is the most expensive and also the hardest. What do you think?