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Spokane on a Budget
A quick search on http://www.travelocity.com for air tickets to Spokane turned up a list of increasingly-exorbitant prices. My suggestions:
1. Fly to Seattle. It's always cheaper to fly to a nearby big city than to try to make connections to a smaller, but closer location. Air Prices on Travelocity.com are almost 3 times as much to Spokane as they are to Seattle. If you have a slow web browser like I do call 1-800-CHEAP-AIR for the best prices. I prefer not to use Priceline.com because they won't let you narrow your preference to less than a 24-hour window. In other words, if you want to leave on a Saturday morning, you must first commit to that calendar date (Saturday), then it would be revealed (after you have made non-refundable payment) that the flight at that price departs at 11:00 PM on Saturday evening.
2. Fly over the weekend. Leave on Friday, don't leave on Saturday, to watch the Saturday game. Never fly on Sundays - prices are at least double if either end of your trip happens on a Sunday. Besides, the airport is too crowded and noisy, there are lines at check-in, to buy newspapers (I've always wondered why on earth someone going on a vacation would want to buy a newspaper - isn't the purpose of a vacation to get away from it all? Why continue to immerse yourself in those depressing and mundane daily reminders of man's inhumanity to man? Wouldn't you have a more pleasant time if you imagine, for a few days, that wars, crime, etc., were things of the past?), for the bathroom, even at MacDonalds. Everybody wants to travel on the weekends, so the airlines have cleverly made airfare more expensive on Saturdays and Sundays, than on weekdays. If you leave on Friday and come back Monday or if you wait until Tuesday to return (Lady Bears victorious on Saturday!), the air fare will be be about half what it would be if you tried to make the same connections on a Saturday or Sunday.
3. Rent a car at the Seattle airport and drive to Spokane. Okay, so it's 282 miles. Four hours if you push it, but why push it? Have you ever been to Washington? It's very scenic. Enjoy the drive. If you have extra time, visit the scenic locale around Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. There's only a small likelihood one of those dormant volcanoes might wake up while you're sightseeing in the area.
If the car-rental agencies at the Seattle airport are like most car-rental agencies, you can rent a car on weekends for twenty dollars or even less, per day. Renting thru Monday or Tuesday will increase the daily rate, but maybe you can get a deal. If you negotiate with them, maybe they will throw in Monday for only another $19, instead of $49
Look for a good deal on a rental car on Travelocity, but read the fine print, and don't take Travelocity's price calculations seriously, if you make the rental there. Travelocity is a fine place to search for an inexpensive rental, but they are not in total communication with Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, etc. After you make the reservation, call the car rental agency and verify that the price is what it says on your "contract" you made at Travelocity. If it says the daily rate is "$18.99" and you asked for the three days from Friday to Monday, don't be surprised when you get to the rental counter at the airport and they tell you it's $49 for the Monday. Call first and maybe they will give you a deal and add on Monday for just another $19. You *can* negotiate with these car-rental agencies. They don't do much business on the weekends and have a lot of extra cars they need to be renting.
4. Don't book hotels/motels over the internet. If you want to save money, wait until you arrive in town, ask at the car-rental agency and other places at the airport for their suggestions, or drive around town and look around. Many low-priced, but respectable motels don't have web pages yet. In Springfield, the best price on Travelocity is $45. However, a ride down Glenstone Avenue shows that there are plenty of nice motels offering $19 a night. At least this is the per-day weekly rate. But $133 for a week is better than 4 nights at $45 = $180. In Tampa, you can locate, on the internet, motels for $65 a night, and you might think you're getting a bargain. But travel around town and you can find plenty of nice places to spend 3-4 nights for $140 a week. You can negotiate with motels, too, even when they belong to a big national chain.
Hey, don't everybody do this! They would cleverly raise the price in the face of increased demand for weekend rentals and I won't be able get one!