Is it possible for my boyfriend to go to his best friend's wedding?
March 22, 2011 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible for my boyfriend to go to his best friend's wedding?

It's in August (the 17th-21st 2011). We live in Traverse City, MI, his best friend's wedding is in Medford OR. The kicker is, there isn't any room to work with money-wise; if he can't get there and back spending $500 or less, he can't go. The $500 would be total: getting there and back, car rental, any food or fun he would want to have.

I've tried Kayak, and even from Detroit and Chicago anything in his price range is a 5 hour drive so he'd need a rental car, which is like $100/day and therefore too expensive.

He's given up all hope and is about to tell his buddy he can't come. I really wish he could be able to be there on his friend's big day. Please hope us?

C'mon crazy suggestions we'd never think of!!
posted by moons in june to Travel & Transportation (45 answers total)
 
August is a long time away. Could he save some money between now and then? Have a buddy drive him around so he doesn't have to rent a car?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:09 PM on March 22, 2011


Have you looked into taking a train? Does he have time constraints around the trip as well?
posted by kellyblah at 12:09 PM on March 22, 2011


If time spent getting there and back isn't an issue, it looks like he can take a Greyhound Bus. It's two days AND 21 hours each leg, but it looks like they have tickets for $122 each way.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:10 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


As Rob says. If it's important to him, it's time to ride the dog.
posted by kavasa at 12:12 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Forget Kayak, use Matrix.

The dirty dog (greyhound) says $122...but man that would be an awful bus ride.
posted by TomMelee at 12:12 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


You could try ride-sharing! Here, here and here - those are just from Google, I haven't tried those services myself.

I have known people to have some luck organizing carpools and ride shares on Craigslist as well.
posted by cranberrymonger at 12:12 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You might want to check out Craigslist rideshare. He might have to start his trip from Grand Forks and have someone pick him up in Portland but he might be able to cobble something together. I'd suggested doing this on the way back and maybe buying a one way ticket out there so he makes sure to get to the wedding.
posted by victoriab at 12:13 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, just to clarify, he's not above taking Greyhound or a train, but he's already fretting about taking an unpaid weekend off of work to go. The less time he has to take off of work, the better.
posted by moons in june at 12:13 PM on March 22, 2011


Is there a friend he can share some expenses with? Like, share car rental and hotel?

Also, now is not the time to buy airfare for August. Look up fares for 21-30 days from now, and with some give and take for gas prices that should be what you can expect, ballpark, for airfare.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:14 PM on March 22, 2011


Assuming he can afford a ticket to the nearest airport: Ask the bride & groom to hook him up with other guests who will also be traveling from out of state for the wedding. They may be willing to carpool with him from the airport—he could tell them what his absolute top budget is for splitting the cost of car rental, and a generous soul might even offer to give him a lift for free.
posted by Orinda at 12:16 PM on March 22, 2011


He should talk to his best friend. I am sure his best friend has other out of of town friends and relatives needing a hotel room who would share or local friends who would put up him up in their local digs. Was your boyfriend invited to be in the wedding party? If so, he may be able to talk to other members of the wedding party for some help with either of the above options.

We rented a car for an entire week through Enterprise for less than $300 at Christmas time. It might be a bit of a drive, but it might be the cheapest option. It was for us, over flying and taking the train, and believe it or not, the bus. And that was after calculating gas. It may be worth it to consider driving. And, yes, it's also worth double checking the train. And much as it sucks, the bus.

If he is under the age of 26, a teacher, or a student of some sort, he should also check out STA travel. He may qualify for further discounts through them.
posted by zizzle at 12:16 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


How old is he? I've rented cars for under $20 a day for a week, but you have to be over 25 or they pile on all sorts of fees. You'll need to factor in the cost of gas, though.
posted by Shusha at 12:20 PM on March 22, 2011


Greyhound and Amtrak are both around $250! Will take three days, but perhaps worth it for a best friend.

Greyhound goes directly from Traverse City to Medford. For Amtrak, he'd go from Grand Rapids to Eugene, so he'd need a ride to Grand Rapids to catch the train out, then a ride from Eugene to Medford. I imagine other wedding guests will be driving from Eugene. If he buys his own food to make instead of eating out, he could do this for under $500.
posted by yarly at 12:25 PM on March 22, 2011


For rental cars - it's sometimes cheaper to rent a car for an entire week at the weekly rate than 5 days at the daily rate. Just make sure to compare the weekly rate to make sure you're getting the best deal. Also, don't rent at the airport if possible...I've seen the prices be almost double versus renting from a neighborhood location.
posted by victoriab at 12:25 PM on March 22, 2011


Is the groom aware of your boyfriends financial straits? If the groom himself is insistent that Boyfriend attend (and you don't indicate that he is) then Groom-Boy should help out with the cost of getting him there. Oregon's a loooong way from Traverse City.

Otherwise, I wouldn't feel bad about Boyfriend not going, if I were him. There's been damn few weddings when I didn't fervently wish I had that Saturday back.
posted by BostonTerrier at 12:25 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I misread the question as implying that the nearest airport to Medford would require a rental car. I see that you're asking about flying into a farther-away airport in order to get the ticket within an affordable price range. I still think you should contact the bride & groom and ask if they have any guests who will be coming to the wedding from the region(s) of the farther-away airport(s). Or look into a flight + bus combination instead of flight + rental car.
posted by Orinda at 12:25 PM on March 22, 2011


The short answer here is "No, there isn't."

Unless he flies, there's no way of getting from A to B in anything less than a day and a half. Car, bus, train, whatever, it's almost 2500 miles, and nothing that doesn't leave the ground is going to average anywhere north of 70mph. Do the math. And the thing of it is that gas prices being what they are, gas alone is going to cost almost $700. Throw in an oil change too.

Greyhound and Amtrak are cheaper on the face of it, but it's about a $450 round trip (it's $250 one way) and takes three days each way. So he'd be taking off far more than just the one weekend: this is an entire week, at minimum.

August is peak travel season too, so you're going to be hard-pressed to find a flight from Traverse City to Medford for anything less than $800. At least, that's what I'm getting on SkyScanner right now. That would be the only way of making it there and back in only two travel days.

Basically, there isn't really any way to go that far on that little. Even though the bus/train option does technically come in under $500, he's got to eat for a week, and even buying grocery store stuff ahead of time and never eats out he's still looking at $20-30 in food at an absolute minimum.
posted by valkyryn at 12:28 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Valkyryn, my boyfriend told me to mark yours as the best answer as many times as I could. I think you're both not thinking resourcefully enough! Neither am I, so no offense. I like Zizzle's answer the best so far.
posted by moons in june at 12:31 PM on March 22, 2011


Isn't this sort of thing just what Priceline is for? He may have to handle flying out of Detroit at some crazy stupid hour in the morning, but it might be worth it. And definitely give them a try for car rental too. You can get car rental for under $20/day usually.
posted by MsMolly at 12:36 PM on March 22, 2011


If you can get a decent price on the ticket from Detroit or Chicago than I'd start investigating the Craigslist Rideshare options to and from the airport. I'm sure that are many people from the area that do this to get better ticket prices.
posted by victoriab at 12:37 PM on March 22, 2011


Medford is one of the most expensive airports to fly into/out of in the country, so flying in to there is out of the question as others have stated.

Best bet would be to fly into Portland (lowest price that I could find that was "reasonably" close was from Milwaukee) and then catch a ride with another member of the wedding party down and back; almost everyone I know who lived in Southern Oregon in High School moved to Portland, so assuming that there are other folks coming to the wedding someone will be driving down from Portland. If he shares the cost of gas at $50 and Milwaukee isn't too far away ($350) he's getting there in <$500. If there's someone driving down from Seattle you can get from Milwaukee to Seattle for $280 (or Detroit from $370) and probably add another $25 to the shared cost of gas.
posted by togdon at 12:42 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I checked the Southwest Airlines website and found a fare from MDW to PDX for $480, so if the groom has Portland-area friends or family who might be able to give your boyfriend a lift from there to Medford, or if he can find a rideshare on Craigslist, he might just be able to squeak in under budget. (I'm not sure about the gas / ground transport from Traverse City to MDW.)

Greyhound tickets from Portland to Medford look like they're running about $84 round trip.
posted by Orinda at 12:44 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really hate to break it to you, but gas from Traverse City to MDW is going to be at least $40 one way. If he leaves his car there he has to pay for parking, which is going to be another $80 or so. If he doesn't, you or someone else has to drive him (or he takes a bus) for additional time and expense. Either way, we're looking at a total round trip just to get to Portland in the $600-700 range.

Check eRideShare to see if he can split the cost of at least some part of this trip with someone. There are people looking for long-distance rides, and even getting them to pay for their share of half of one leg is going to be a couple of hundred bucks.
posted by valkyryn at 12:49 PM on March 22, 2011


Greyhound and Amtrak are cheaper on the face of it, but it's about a $450 round trip (it's $250 one way) and takes three days each way. So he'd be taking off far more than just the one weekend: this is an entire week, at minimum.

Oops, you're right, Amtrak is $250 each way. But Greyhound is $250 round trip straight from Traverse City to Medford.
posted by yarly at 12:57 PM on March 22, 2011


If he can afford to take a week off unpaid and spend $500, he should be able to take less than a week off and spend $500 plus whatever he can make in that week or partial week that he's no longer taking off.

While it might be nice to spend a whole week visiting, even in this day and age with all the attendent frippery and extra events, the actual wedding doesn't last 4 days. If the wedding is the important part, he can probably fly in the morning of (time zones work in his favor) and out the next day.

Find someone else who is going to share the hotel room with for one night to keep costs down. See if anyone else is flying in and or out on his same schedule to car pool with to/from the airport.

Check, as well, for airport shuttle services to get him from the airport to the town in question, that might be cheaper than renting a car if he can then hook up with other wedding guests for local transportation.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:01 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


gas from Traverse City to MDW is going to be at least $40 one way

Oops, I posted the Southwest fare tip without researching the geography of Michigan.

If $500 is a really hard limit, then valkyryn may be right. If you and your boyfriend can find a way to squeeze an extra $100-$200 into the budget, then he may have a better chance of making this trip happen.
posted by Orinda at 1:20 PM on March 22, 2011


One thing that needs to be pointed out in this thread: Amtrak runs late. The farther you're going, the later you'll probably be. I don't know if you could even count on getting there in time. I haven't taken Greyhound to know how late they run, but freight trains get priority on Amtrak and god only knows when you're going to show up on longer trips.

I agree with valkyryn, really. (I say this as someone else who can't go to a wedding she got invited to for fun logistical reasons.) The only way your boyfriend can go is if (a) he flies and is only paying for the flight, and (b) someone else is paying for EVERYTHING for him. He flies out with someone else or meets them at the airport, they've already paid for the rental car and will give him a ride, he can stay at someone's house, someone else will feed him.

I think at this point your boyfriend needs to beg his best friend to find someone else to take care of him in these needs, or best friend needs to fund the trip for him. Sorry.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:25 PM on March 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


One thing that needs to be pointed out in this thread: Amtrak runs late. The farther you're going, the later you'll probably be. I don't know if you could even count on getting there in time. I haven't taken Greyhound to know how late they run, but freight trains get priority on Amtrak and god only knows when you're going to show up on longer trips.

This bears repeating! Amtrak is not to be relied upon for long trips where there's a hard time you need to be somewhere.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:26 PM on March 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


OK, thinking even more creatively . . . I'm not vouching for this approach as I've never tried it, but could your boyfriend do something like sign up for an airline-affiliated credit card, use the first-purchase bonus to get a free flight, then cancel the card? READ THE FINE PRINT and BEWARE OF BLACKOUT DATES / LIMITED SEATING. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK. ETC. ETC.
posted by Orinda at 1:29 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I have no idea what the scheme I just proposed would do to your boyfriend's credit rating, but you asked for crazy ideas.
posted by Orinda at 1:36 PM on March 22, 2011


semi-echoing Orinda, I think the most resourceful way to use the available money is to try to get a free flight. This can be done independently, by accumulating miles (especially through a new credit card, if prudent), or by having some magnanimous friend-of-the-couple-who-flies-a-lot give the miles. Someone is undoubtedly traveling to/from airports on each end, so coordination on land is likely possible. There is quite a bit of time to strategize on the best way to do this.
posted by zachxman at 2:23 PM on March 22, 2011


How long have you been watching prices on Kayak? I've been watching prices for three weeks for a trip at the end of April and have seen prices plummet by $200. Not sure why, given the general trend in gas prices, but if you've only been looking for a week or so, I think it's too early to write that off.

Also, $100 a day for a rental car? Nonsense. Priceline it; the most I've ever paid is $15 a day.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:57 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crazy suggestions? Get a second job for the next five months, sell some stuff on ebay, donate plasma for money, borrow from a relative, eat ramen till he pukes. Five months is a whole lotta time to get some money, so are you certain $500 is the absolutely most possible he could have?

(And make sure he isn't just fine with not going and slightly irritated you keep bringing this up- it seems to be more your goal than his)
posted by jenlovesponies at 3:21 PM on March 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


FYI, I'm also getting flight results around $480 to Portland... using Grand Rapids (GRR) rather than Chicago. Since that's closer, maybe getting someone to drop him off for free at the airport would be more likely.

Also, he can get from GRR to Sacramento, CA for $380. Sacramento is just as far south of Medford as Portland is north of it. That flight has more wiggle room for car rental.
posted by xo at 6:23 PM on March 22, 2011


And there are two overnight Greyhound bus options for the Sacramento - Medford route ($65), so that could work out with exactly the right flight.
posted by xo at 6:30 PM on March 22, 2011


Try Allegiant Air - they have flights out of Grand Rapids and Detroit, and into Medford. They also fly to Vegas, in case he could get a secondary cheap flight out of there.

Does the groom have friends coming from Seattle?
posted by barnone at 7:07 PM on March 22, 2011


If he can get to Detroit, and get a ride from Portland, Aug. 17-Aug 22 is $468 on Southwest. It's $534 to come back on August 21.

I assume someone will be driving from Portland, so check to see if he could fly in the night before and stay with them, or if they can pick him up on the way to the wedding.
posted by barnone at 7:15 PM on March 22, 2011


And Detroit-Sacramento is about the same as Detroit-Portland, if that's a better direction for a ride.
posted by barnone at 7:17 PM on March 22, 2011


Valkryn is correct: this answer is no. Have you looked at a map? Even if he could drive the entire way there with no breaks/traffic, it'd take four full days to drive there and back. Ride the dog or Amtrak and double that at minimum.

Valkyryn, my boyfriend told me to mark yours as the best answer as many times as I could. I think you're both not thinking resourcefully enough! Neither am I, so no offense. I like Zizzle's answer the best so far"

I find this interesting. Sometimes, things aren't possible. Also, if your boyfriend is "already fretting about taking an unpaid weekend off of work to go", why are you advocating proposals to drive for 5 days? Actually, why are you pushing this at all? It sounds like he knows he can't afford it.
posted by sfkiddo at 7:37 PM on March 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is it possible for my boyfriend to go to his best friend's wedding?

No, he seems almost destitute. He should go out and visit in the future when he has a decent job.
posted by ovvl at 9:05 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


He can't go to the wedding, but he can get out there in the fall when fares are lower and his best friend won't be busy getting married, and they'll be able to have a good catching-up visit.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:14 PM on March 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've done Greyhound from Salem, OR to Flint, MI. My fiancé has done that trip and its reverse (Flint->Portland, actually). It was absolutely affordable for us, because we got $100 round-trip tickets - maybe it was some kind of sale - but the trip took 3 days and that was on time. My fiancé's trip the other way was delayed due to some Greyhound mixups and it took five days.

It's hard to beat Greyhound for a frugal cross-country trip, but you can't count on not being stranded in Billings, Montana for 18 hours.
posted by asciident at 11:50 AM on March 23, 2011


Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. It looks like there's no miraculous way of getting across the country for super cheap. He's going to talk to the groom about any other wedding guests that are headed that way and he's going to check airline prices in a month or so.
posted by moons in june at 4:03 PM on March 23, 2011


um, the 17th - 21st? I know you guys go big on weddings out in the States but four days - really? Surely he can just go for the, y'know, wedding...
As an aside - what happens on the other 3 days?
posted by cmarie at 3:03 PM on March 28, 2011


As an aside - what happens on the other 3 days?

The rehearsal and/or bachelor party is generally the day before the wedding. Add a day for travel on either end, which you need to plan on when you're going that far, and you're at four days.
posted by valkyryn at 8:52 AM on April 1, 2011


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