And I was really looking forward to this trip, too!
October 31, 2012 8:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm supposed to be at a B&B in Philadelphia tomorrow evening, and right now I'm in Brooklyn. I don't have a car, rail isn't running, busses leave from parts of the city that are extremely difficult to access and I'm not even sure I could get a ticket. Suggestions? Am I not thinking of something?

I have a reservation at a Bed & Breakfast in downtown Philly this weekend, for both Thursday and Friday night. They have a 72 hour cancellation policy, but by the time I realized how bad things were going to get that deadline had already passed.

Originally, we were going to take NJT rail down to Trenton and pick up the SEPTA regional rail for the rest of the trip down to Philly -- as such, we hadn't bought any tickets ahead of time.

I live in southern Brooklyn, about a three hour walk from midtown. Having poked around, the situation seems to be:

- No NJT or subway service, and no word on when it will resume
- NYC busses are running and there are cabs, but both systems are overtaxed and the traffic is incredibly bad.
- Bolt bus and Megabus are not running until tomorrow, which means two days of stranded travelers will be overloading that system
- Peter Pan isn't running at all, with no word on when service will resume (and you couldn't pay me to go to Port Authority right now anyway)
- SEPTA regional rail has restarted, but with delays
- As far as I can tell, SEPTA is still connecting with the Trenton Transit Center, but I have no idea what the situation is at that station
- The only car rentals within walking distance are zipcars.

Given all of this, my options seem to be:
- Call the B&B and beg them to let me reschedule my trip, given the circumstances (if they refuse, I would be out ~$100 if I don't show)
- Rent a zipcar and drive down to Philly, adding ~$300 to the cost of the trip and possibly signing up for horrific traffic
- Find some way to get into Manhattan and fight my way onto a bus

Complicating factor: I have a companion for this trip who does not handle travel stress very well.

At this moment, Option 1 seems like the only reasonable choice, but I have a tendency to be skittish about these things and worry I'm giving up too easily.

Metafilter, I could really use some perspective! Particularly from those of you in southern NJ and Philly who know more than I do what the situation is down there!
posted by Narrative Priorities to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (16 answers total)
Best answer: Option 1 is the only reasonable option at this point. People in the NYC area really shouldn't be traveling now if they don't have to, both for their own sanity and for making it easier for those who do have to travel. Unless the B&B people are total asshats, I bet they'll waive the fee. If not, I think $100 is a more than reasonable price to pay for not having to deal with the current travel mess. I mean, there are probably people stranded in Philly that would love to have a spot at the B&B.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:40 AM on October 31, 2012 [6 favorites]

I would pick Option 1 to avert the very real chance that this fun, relaxing trip could turn into a stressful debacle. Regional rail doesn't always behave dependably even under the best of circumstances, and it's a fair-length trip on NJT even without delays. So why not reschedule for another date in the near future when getting down there will be less filled with question marks?
posted by anonnymoose at 8:42 AM on October 31, 2012

Also, I agree with Betelgeuse.
posted by anonnymoose at 8:43 AM on October 31, 2012

Option 1. And if you can't reschedule, consider giving a couple you know in the Philadelphia area a surprise gift.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:45 AM on October 31, 2012

Yes, ask them to reschedule. Things were shut down here in Philly too, so I'm sure they've been swamped with stranded travellers and have someone to take the room.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:46 AM on October 31, 2012

Best answer: I'm in DC, so take this for what it's worth, but: the money is already gone, whether you go or not, unless they give you a refund. I agree that the B&B would have to really be awful to deny you a rescheduling, but even if they did, I think your sense that Option 1 makes the most sense is very sane. You don't get your money back by making the trip.

I share the feeling that if you try to go, there's every chance that what's supposed to be a relaxing trip will become stressful, dangerous, and/or even more expensive. Like I said, it's only a DC opinion, but as far as giving up too easily, I don't think you are at all. This decision is about how much risk you want to take of running into how much hassle and problems for how much reward. At best, you have an incredibly taxing trip to and probably an incredibly taxing trip back from a brief getaway. At worst ... it's worse.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:46 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Complicating factor: I have a companion for this trip who does not handle travel stress very well.

This is already (current, not future, tense) a stressful trip, with rather a lot of unknowns.

Option 1. As they have a cancellation policy, they may still decline, or agree that you still pay but get "room credit" for another time e.g. off-season. With customer review services such as Trip Advisor, it's becoming less and less likely that smaller, non-chain accommodation get really mean and nasty, as they're increasingly aware of negative reviews this may cause.

The hundred bucks you lose may be a lot less less than other unexpected costs if you make this trip.
posted by Wordshore at 8:51 AM on October 31, 2012

Cancel, cancel, cancel.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:52 AM on October 31, 2012

I'm pretty sure that they would be willing to make an exception to their cancellation policy in this instance. In fact, they may be secretly relieved because they can focus on recovery themselves (they're probably just as clobbered too).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:53 AM on October 31, 2012

Best answer: I was going to suggest finding other people who also need to get to Philadelphia and splitting a cab, but given this:

Complicating factor: I have a companion for this trip who does not handle travel stress very well.

It sounds like $100 is a worthwhile price to pay to keep your companion stress-free by not foisting this trip on him/her right now. And possibly the B&B will be understanding of the extenuating circumstances and allow you to reschedule.
posted by deanc at 8:55 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, see if they will cancel. I cancelled a room yesterday, after I was supposed to have checked in. I just mentioned transport snafus. This particular hotel was fine about it.
posted by carter at 8:56 AM on October 31, 2012

Best answer: SEPTA is running from Trenton, but with substantial delays. Any option that involves getting to Trenton though is likely to be expensive (renting a car, catching a cab) with substantial delays. Traffic is really unpleasant in Philly right now, and New Jersey is even worse. If your companion does not like stress, this is really not the time to test that; my should-have-been 35 minute commute was 2 + hours near Philadelphia today, and our area didn't even get hit that badly.

(That said, I hope you can reschedule and visit Philly soon! Good luck!)
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:56 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dude, call the B&B, I'm SURE they'll be happy to reschedule given the circumstances.

I'm surprised they haven't called YOU to cancel.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:14 AM on October 31, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for helping me get perspective on this. I knew intellectually it would be stupid to try and go, but I still felt incredibly guilty about it, and you've all very rightly pointed out that feeling bad about hurricane transportation problems is pretty silly.

I managed to get my phone to connect long enough to call the B&B, and as you all predicted, they were very nice and rescheduled without a problem.

(Personal) disaster averted!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:20 AM on October 31, 2012 [8 favorites]

Yay! I hope you enjoy your (rescheduled) trip.
posted by anonnymoose at 9:29 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Story time! When a Big Famous Storm wrecked my travel plans and the B&B wouldn't let me reschedule, I asked them if I could gift the room night to someone else from the area as a special treat: yes. So then I informed them that I planned to call up the local homeless shelter and donate the room to provide to one of their guests and that I would be back in touch with the name of the recipient... sudden change of heart. I would have done it too.
posted by carmicha at 9:39 AM on October 31, 2012 [26 favorites]

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