Traveling to Providence on a budget? Here's how to save.
"Um...... Does that include lodgings?" Skepticism and doubt are the hallmark of any good $200 Travel Challenge and when we told people we were planning to go to Providence, Rhode Island, for two days and spend just $200, they were skeptical. VERY skeptical.
And I was more than a little skeptical myself. This challenge was a last minute addition to a pre-existing trip. I had only a few days to plan, research, and build lists, a sharp contrast to my usual long planning marathons. And while Providence isn't an outrageously expensive city, I worried that true budget travel opportunities would be few and far between. I was sure the trip would be fun, but I didn't know if it would be easy.
So how did we do and, more importantly, did we stay on budget? Here's how our weekend went down.
(A word about pricing: Past $200 Challenges have been in Canadian funds. Given the fluctuation in currency rates, it seemed easiest to work with US funds for this particular challenge.)
The premise of a$200 Travel Challenge is simple. Can two people travel for two days and spend just $200? This figure excludes transportation to the destination but includes all other costs: meals, entertainment, souvenirs, and accommodations. And with all past challenges, accommodations proved once again to be our biggest hurdle.
In order to find a hotel that fit within our budget, we had to look outside the city and towards the suburb of Warwick. Staying in Warwick turned out to be an excellent decision. Welcome to the nicest hotel we've ever had on a $200 Challenge!
Everything about the Extended Stay America went above and beyond our expectations and it was such a treat from our usual budget lodgings. We're no strangers to campgrounds and hostels and rather unremarkable 2 star hotels so this was definitely a step up.
Our room included a spacious, modern bathroom, two desks, plenty of storage, and a comfy arm chair that Ryan took a liking to right away, as you can see above. And best of all - there was a kitchen! It was a real kitchen, with a full sized fridge and sink, a microwave, a two burner stove top, and free access to plenty of kitchen gear from the front desk.
We had excellent intentions of making the most of our kitchen, from storing and reheating pizza (find out why that didn't work below) to preparing a full evening meal. But truth be told, we got lazy. Using the kitchen was a great idea in theory but it just didn't work out in practice for this particular trip.
While we failed when it came to creating hotel dinners, we did much better with breakfast. The Extended Stay had a 'grab and go' breakfast station with instant oatmeal, granola bars, muffins, apples, coffee, and hot chocolate. Admittedly, it wasn't the most exciting breakfast - especially by day 2 - but we we've had far worse "free" meals and it was one less expense to worry about.
It was hard to find much fault with our room, especially considering the price point, but if I had to nitpick I would point out that the bed's quilt drove us to distraction. The slippery material (cue our hysterical late night jokes about "slip" covers) was likely designed to repel dirt but was in fact so slippery it didn't really stay in place once you were under the covers. It kinda.... slipped right off the bed. It was annoying and it made for a disjointed sleep on our first night. By the second night, we formulated a plan which involved sourcing extra blankets from housekeeping and we were much happier.
A second annoyance was the toilet paper. I think this is officially the first time I've ever reported on toilet paper but it was just..... wait for it.... crappy. Pun intended! It was ultra thin and unpleasant and could very well be the worst toilet paper I've ever used. But for an inexpensive budget hotel, I consider myself lucky that these were my only two concerns.
We found the commute between Warwick and Providence easy enough but I did have one moment of wistfulness the day I made Ryan pull into a grocery store parking lot so I could nap in the car for 40 minutes. Hey, traveling wears a girl out! At that moment, I wished we were staying downtown. But for the price we paid, I was happy to accept a little bit of inconvenience.
Our room cost about $65 a night - a significant portion of our budget but a price point that represented great value. It's worth noting that Extended Stay Hotels charge extra for daily housekeeping services, an option we declined. There's a good selection of similarly ranked and hotels around Warwick and it's reasonable to assume you could find accommodations in a similar price range. In fact, we could have saved an extra $12 a night by staying at a nearby Knight's Inn (which would undoubtedly have more basic rooms), so those on the tightest of budgets will have options.
Accommodation costs (total) $130.00
BTW...... Want to know more about what we look for in our accommodations?Read on here!