Baseball Fan Resources
Posted by Kurt Smith
I first discovered Hotwire when booking hotel rooms on a ballpark trip way back in 2003, and I have been using them so much ever since that paying $100 for a hotel room is something I don’t even consider anymore.
I’m sure you’ve noticed how expensive hotel stays are these days. If you book directly through a hotel website, you’re looking at triple digits to stay anyplace decent, and that’s not even counting the additional markup to stay in an expensive city like Boston. Years ago, before I became independently middle class, I would often stay in a Motel 6 or whatever place accepted AAA coupons.
Have you ever stayed in a Motel 6? You’re kind of happy just to see a bar of soap in the shower. But there’s a reason Motel 6 and Super 8 and Days Inn are so popular. Price.
Now, I don’t mind paying more for a nice room. I’ve stayed in Doubletrees and thought they were well worth the few extra bucks. But if I can get that room for $60 instead of $120, I’m going for it.
Hotwire makes that possible.
Hotwire lists rooms that hotels have trouble occupying and are willing to offer for a discounted price. You can sort hotels in your search by star rating, by a high level of positive reviews, by geographical area and by amenities. If you want a three star place with free breakfast and a pool near the O’Hare airport, and at least 80% of the people who review it liked it, Hotwire can find it for you.
There’s one catch: Hotwire won’t give you the name or address of the hotel until you book it, and there’s no canceling unless you pay a few extra bucks for a cancellation policy.
I have no problem with this. How many times are we familiar with the area we’re staying in anyway? I’ve had less than stellar experiences staying in popular name brand hotels. There can be a world of difference between two Best Westerns (I like Best Western, just using them as an example). If 90% of the customers liked the place, I figure I’ll be fine.
I have gotten some absolute steals on hotel rooms through Hotwire, and it’s still my favorite site for lodging.
By the way, you can also get inexpensive rental cars and flights through Hotwire, and I’ve done very well using Hotwire for that too.
Full disclosure: Hotwire is an affiliate of Ballpark E-Guides. Even if they weren’t I’d happily recommend them anyway. So tell them I sent you and use this link to try it on your next baseball trip.
(Hotwire ad courtesy of Hotwire.)
Posted by Kurt Smith
Whenever I am going to drive and park at the game, especially in a ballpark that’s in the heart of a city, I always check ParkWhiz first. You should look at this great website too, for two very good reasons.
The first is the cost of parking, of course. At Fenway Park in Boston, for example, most lots within a half mile of the ballpark cost upwards of $50 or more. At Yankee Stadium in New York, the team lots next to the stadium are $35 as of this writing. I can only imagine what they’ll cost at Wrigley Field this year.
In the heart of the city especially, people want to be close to the ballpark, especially at night. You probably don’t want to be in an unfamiliar place with your kids searching for the garage five blocks away where you parked. So many times, people will pay that exorbitant parking fee.
The second reason is traffic. If you’ve ever been stuck in downtown Baltimore on a Friday night looking for an affordable garage, as I have, you know how utterly exasperating that can be. You just want to get to start enjoying your crab dip fries at the Yard, but you’re sitting…and sitting…and sitting at that red light that seems to be green just long enough to empty the gridlock and let one car through.
It’s far, far better to know exactly where you’re going and have your spot reserved. I have never had a problem in Baltimore since that miserable experience, thanks to ParkWhiz.
ParkWhiz is something like StubHub for parking. The website and app enable you to search from a decent selection of available spots, and you can sort them by price, popularity or proximity to the venue. You select a spot, print the reservation and take it with you, plug the address into your GPS and get there practically hassle-free. You may still deal with traffic, but at least you know where you’re going and it’s already paid for. If you want, you can Google the address and see what people say about it.
Take it from me, there is a world of difference between searching for a garage at 2 MPH and paying $50 for it and just having your reservation and going and paying half that or even less. Finding a decent parking spot at many ballparks is a hassle I rarely deal with anymore. ParkWhiz saves me money every time I use it, and it’s a GREAT relief to know that my spot will be there.
You should always book your parking beforehand if you’re driving to the game, unless you already know a great inexpensive spot. And I have found ParkWhiz to be the best resource for that.
So tell them I sent you (full disclosure: ParkWhiz is an affiliate of Ballpark E-Guides). Whenever you’re parking at a ballpark in the city, try checking ParkWhiz first.
(ParkWhiz logo courtesy of ParkWhiz.)
Posted by Kurt Smith
So you have no problem taking a 4-5 hour trip to see your favorite team in another ballpark, right?
For fans whose home ballparks are outrageously expensive to visit, like Cubs and Red Sox fans, it’s a popular thing. Much of downtown Baltimore’s hospitality industry is dependent on Red Sox and Yankees fans that visit Camden Yards 21 times a year.
If you want to save a boatload of money on such trips, try a Megabus.
Megabus is a luxury bus service available now in about 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada (and in the U.K. even, but anywhere they don’t play baseball doesn’t matter). They have single and double decker buses, all of which have Wi-Fi and free plug-ins. And they do it all for a ridiculous price, sometimes as low as $1. You have to book such deals well ahead of time, but that’s worth the trouble.
Megabus operates from popular transportation hubs in large cities, so your only part of it is getting to the transportation center. In my home town of Philadelphia, that would be the 30th Street Amtrak station. With most ballparks in downtown areas these days and easily reachable by public transit, you should be able to leave the car at home and save a ton.
I’ve used Megabus a few times with great results, but my favorite example is when I used one from NYC to Boston…for just $2.50 round trip. I found a couple of $1 fares and the fee was just 50 cents.
Between gas and tolls, driving that distance would cost at least $50—assuming you are using your own car. And that’s not figuring in the aggravation of the traffic, which is always bad in Connecticut and usually bad near New York and Philadelphia. Not dealing with that is certainly worth a few extra bucks. Did I mention the price of parking in Boston?
Four hours is a long time to ride on a bus, but Megabuses are clean, air-conditioned and comfortable, with free Wi-Fi to keep you busy. You can take care of all that other business you are too busy driving to do, or you can go onto the upper level and enjoy the panoramic view. You’re allowed one piece of luggage and a carry-on bag, which for a weekend trip should be plenty.
Megabus covers most major cities in the U.S. and Canada. In most cities (not all, but most) they’ll drop you off near a public transportation hub that will get you anywhere else in the city in short order, certainly to the local ballpark.
It isn’t perfect, according to some reviews I’ve read…sometimes buses are late (honestly…is there a bus service that’s always on time?), and a few people have complained that the Wi-Fi doesn’t always work.
But I personally have never had a problem with them, and to get from New York to Boston and back for practically nothing? I’ll take it.