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Home > New England - Part 4 Details and  Costs

New England - Part 4 Details and Costs

Travel Arrangements
We planned this trip well in advance and booked the flights 11 months before our travel date at the end of September. We didn't check to see if the air fares changed much as the departure date approached but at the time of booking we got fares comparable with other airlines.
We decided to fly with Aer Lingus from Manchester the nearest airport to our home. Unfortunately direct flights to Boston had ceased in the previous year but we had found out that by flying via Ireland we were able to clear US Immigration at Shannon before boarding the transatlantic leg. It is also possible now to do this at Dublin airport.
We had about a two hour stopover at Shannon and the US Immigration desk and security opened about one hour before the flight departure and there were only a dozen or so passengers waiting so clearance took about ten minutes. Our luggage was booked through from Manchester to Boston. Travelling from Shannon also reduced the transatlantic flight time to less than seven hours so we arrived in the late afternoon and were able to exit directly from the domestic arrivals terminal in a very short time.

The return flight was overnight via Dublin with a one hour stopover. Luckily the flights were on time so we arrived back at Manchester at about 7am.

We stayed the night before the flight at the Radisson Blu airport hotel which was a short undercover walk from the train station and we had purchased cheap advance fares from Sheffield. On arrival at Boston we found a cheapish hotel (by USA standards!) fairly near the airport but had to phone for the free courtesy bus. This was the Hampton at Revere which was fine inside but in an industrial area of airport freight yards and an oil depot. However the room was large and comfortable and a very reasonable self service breakfast was included. We booked both the hotels through at reasonable discount rates also with a 10% cashback through Quidco. On reflection we maybe should have booked for a final night in Boston before our journey home and then had time to visit the city centre.

Our two cabins and the condo were booked through the VRBO online agency we had used previously and we booked them about ten months in advance as we were visiting at peak "leaf peeping" time.

We had good communications with the owners and got our security deposits back without problems. The first cabin was situated about three miles from Woodstock in Vermont about 120 miles easy drive mostly on the Interstates 93 and 89. The access road was along a dirt road for the last mile. This was a very well furnished traditional log cabin set in a magnificent location in woodlands. A possible drawback would be access to the upper floor and basement which was via steep staircases so not really suitable for the disabled. We met the friendly and helpful owner who lived in an adjacent property and we enjoyed our four night stay.

The second property was about 80 miles north situated by the picturesque Mirror Lake in the tiny hamlet of North Calais 15 miles north east of the state capitol of Montpelier, the last five miles on dirt roads. This was more basic although adequate and the bed was comfortable although down stairs in the basement so again disabled access could be difficult. The owner lived in Georgia and the housekeeping and attention to the facilities especially in the kitchen could have been better. There was a log burning stove in the living room that I eventually got to stay alight on our final night having purchased some firelighter kindling in a local supermarket. We stayed there for five nights.

We drove about 100 miles south east to our final accomodation in Campton near the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Again this was situated about three miles from the town but on mostly metalled roads. This was the end of a small terrace of condos set next to a river and waterfall. It was modern and well furnished. We stayed there for seven nights. Although in the White Mountains region it was about twenty miles south of Lincoln although there was easy access via the interstate highway and the Lakes region was quite near.

All three places had fast broadband and the first and last had cable television which was mostly dire although the continuous music channels of various genres was useful for the background. They all had adequate heating and cooking facilities.

We were able to pay the deposits and balances using Paypal money transfer for one and by credit card over the phone without problems.

We originally booked an intermediate sized rental car through an online agency which turned out to be with Thrifty but we cancelled that as their conditions stated no driving on unmetalled roads (Vermont has thousands of miles of "dirt" roads which are mostly well compacted and smooth gravel) so we rebooked through Hertz who we had used before at a similar price. There are many horror stories about collecting and returning rental cars on the review websites but we didn't have any problems with our Toyota Corolla Matrix which was a small estate, except there was no cover across the trunk area to hide our luggage or belongings. It was fairly well used with33,000 miles on the clock and I took photos of the minor scuffs on the bumpers before leaving. Once I got used to the automatic it was fine and drove well although I decided I didn't like the cruise control after trying it a couple of times on empty interstates.

Leaving the Hertz rental plot at Boston Airport takes you straight onto the toll ($3.50) interstate and into long tunnels under the estuary and city with underground turn-offs so not a relaxing start but ok once clear of the city when the I93 Interstate wasn't too busy with a general speed limit of 65mph. There was an additional short distance of toll road (only $1) at Hooksett between Manchester and Concord. There are hardly any services on the interstates and returning to Boston we had to loop back as theservice area was only on the northbound carriageway. We found drivers generally to be well behaved although as we approached Boston on our last day we found large artic trucks passing us above the posted speed limit rather disconcerting. One thing worth noting that if someone was stopped on the hard shoulder you have to move to the outer lane until clear.

We discovered after returning home that the car was fitted with a Plate Pass on the windshield behind the mirror for electronic toll collection although I thought it had to have the cover removed to be operational, so although we used the cash booths we had $16.50 taken from our credit card which including a $11 usage fee. I e-mailed and complained but no refund was given. Our car had a Florida registration plate (only on the rear) so maybe that was used for identification at the toll booths as different systems are used in the various states.
We took our own Garmin 1340 satnav which worked ok. I bought the USA maps from Pentagon GPS for about 45. The daily rental charge for inbuilt satnavs is very expensive

Fuel costs were just under $4 per US gallon which worked out at about 65 pence/litre! We paid for a full tank of fuel at a not too exhorbitant rate and it saved having to worry about topping up on return otherwise a large refuelling fee is charged, and as the return route was on interstates we didn't see a filling station near the rental depot.

Holiday Costs

Train Sheffield to Manchester Airport and return: 4 x 832
Flights Aer Lingus Manchester - Shannon - Boston                                        Boston - Dublin - Manchester  1014 including taxes
Hotel Radisson Blu Manchester Airport 1 night  61
Hotel Hampton Boston Revere 1 night 112
Accommodation  14 nights 3 locations via VRBO1101
Car rental Hertz Boston 17 days 313
Petrol including initial fill (1277 miles) 103
Food shopping 120
Miscellaneous treats meals out etc  135
ESTA renewals 2 x $1418

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