In Which I Need ‘Input’

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?


11 thoughts on “In Which I Need ‘Input’

  1. A car is agency, your own or a rental, especially in a town with horrible transportation. However, San Diego does have that trolley, which is far more reliable than the bus, but the Trolley is only good if your Point A and Point B are on the Trolley Line.

  2. How much time will you have to make the drive out to California? If you have to rush, I’d fly and rent. If you have a chance to enjoy the trip, I’d drive.

  3. I’ll have time to enjoy the way back. The problem with driving is the large state of Texas. On the way I’ll be in conference mode and the point will be to get there, it is about 2100 miles and I usually do it in 3 days. I’d have time to mosey on the way back, if I came on I-10 I could go to Big Bend, if I came on I-40 I could go to Santa Fe, and if I came on 80 I could go through Yosemite and Yellowstone and down through Arkansas, which I’d like. Or: Big Bend on the way, 80 on the way back. After all: why do I drive a Subaru hatchback if not to take it on Western trips?

  4. So how do you vote on the hotels? Apartment or conference hotel? Considering that at the conference hotel you can walk to the beach, but the apartment is more civilized?

  5. I like to drive, so I’d say drive. It’s more relaxing, and you’d get to have some vacation along the way. You could also see Canyon de Chelles.

    My vote would be the hotel: since it’s rare to be within walking distance of a beach (for me, at least), I’d want to make the most of it while I could.


  6. If you have a car, take the apartment unless you’re looking forward to hotel social life and the ability to walk to the beach – at least I would. I like my coffee by myself in the morning.

  7. Thank you so much for helping me think, y’all!

    One more driving vote, very interesting. Canyon de Chelles, good idea, I haven’t been. Or to Mesa Verde, or to Casa Grande, for that matter.

    With the car, walking to the beach isn’t as big a deal as it would be if I were carless. Hmmm.

    I have the impression I am being very ambitious. I already want to drive up the CA coast, to SF, which is already 10 hours from SD on 101. There are *so* many places to go, so many options, on the way to CA and back and then also while there.

  8. OK: how about: drive over on the far southern route (Big Bend). Up the coast to SF, then back down to pick up the 40 on the Eastern side of the Sierra. Back over the 40 through AZ and NM to Arkansas, and down through Arkansas. ?

  9. Depends on the amount of time and your focus, I would say. Is the convention the most important thing to you or the trip?
    If it’s the convention, I would say fly & stay in a hotel & eat out.
    If not, drive, stay in an apartment, and make a real vacation out of it.

  10. Half and half. The conference will be good but still not worth the money it will cost, which is why I am also turning it into vacation.

    Counting up the things I want to do in California, though, it’s convention plus 10 days or so, which adds up to two weeks without driving back and forth from here.

    I need to cut the trip down in some way, there are so many possibilities.

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