I recently traveled to Portland, OR for a conference.
It was my first time there, so I was excited to see what the city had to offer.
But I also wanted to keep my travel expenses low due to the summit ticket prices being pretty high.
Here’s a quick recap of how I did.
Booking My Hotel in Portland
Unfortunately I waited till two weeks prior to the event to book my room. I first checked out what was left of the conference hotels. Only one place was left and it was in the range of $150, so I kept looking.
Next, I tried Airbnb.com. They had several options in the $100 range, but I didn’t think that was a good deal given the fact that I’d be sharing the place with someone. Besides, many of the available properties were miles from the summit venue. It didn’t make sense to me to pay that much and still pay for a taxi.
Finally, I checked my hotel rewards points and discovered I had enough points for two nights hotel at a cheap Marriott property. I know it’s not free money, but it feels that way. Luckily, Portland has some decent hotel options on the north side of the city, not too far from the airport.
I settled on the Fairfield Inn & Suites Portland North Harbour. It had free breakfast and wifi. It also had the best points-to-ratings ratio. I check my ratings at TripAdvisor.com. The only problem with the hotel was how far it was from the city center (30 min light rail train ride).
Finding a Deal on Airfare from DFW to PDX
Something I should have booked a lot earlier than I did was airfare. You can save a lot by booking your airfare earlier and using the Bing.com airfare predictor. I got lucky again here and stumbled upon Spirit Airlines, who has a new direct red eye flight from DFW to PDX. At three weeks out it was listed at $250.
I’ll do a full review of Spirit later, but they are a very interesting airline. They don’t have first class, but they have mega-awesome bigger seats at the front of the plane that only cost me $18 each way to upgrade to. So my total airfare for the trip was just shy of $300 after taxes and all fees.
Speaking of fees, Spirit Airlines charges for a carry-on, so I was able to bring everything I needed for the weekend in my “personal item”, my backpack. I loved traveling so light.
Getting Around Town in Portland
When I arrived in Portland (at midnight) I called the hotel and they offered a free shuttle. It only cost me a 20 min wait and a $2 tip. The driver was a friendly local who explained the light rail system to me so I wouldn’t waste time in the morning.
Portland has a great light rail system they call the Max. Luckily, the last stop on one of the lines was a five minute walk from my hotel in North Harbour. An all day pass on the rail system was $5. Each day of the conference (Sat, Sun) I purchased a pass and was able to use it to get to the heart of the city, and directly back out to the airport on Sunday night.
Feasting on Portland Food
I wasn’t there for a long time but I did get to sample a little bit of local food. Saturday morning I hit up the free continental breakfast in the hotel. Hard to pass up free. For lunch that day I visited the Portland food trucks and found some cuban food at a place called El Cubo de Cuba. It was so good! There portions are very big (easy for two to split) and cost me around $10.
That evening I went to the movie premier of I’m Fine, Thanks at the Mission Theater & Pub and had their “highly theatrical hamburger”. It was free because I was VIP that night. Woot!
The next day wasn’t very exciting food-wise. I mostly took advantage of the free conference food and hit up a local deli for a pre-made sandwich. Not very tasty. I did manage to sample another local brew, the Copper Moon pale ale (another McMenamins Brew) from Zeus Cafe. This is quickly turning into a food/beer/travel blog post, I better shut it down.
Total Spent on My Portlandian Adventure
Airfare – $300
Hotel – 40,000 Marriott Rewards Points
Trains – $10
Food and Drink – Approx. $40
Total – $350
Not too bad for my first time in Portland. Next time, Portland, please order up some cooler weather for me though. What’s a Texas boy got to do to get some relief from the heat?