The Cost of My Trip to Portland, Oregon

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.

I recently traveled to Portland, OR for a conference. I wanted to keep my travel expenses low due. 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 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 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 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!

Beers I sampled that night were McMenamins Brewery's fruit beer call Purple Haze (not Abita) and Deschutes Brewery's Twilight Summer Ale. Both were great!

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?

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  1. Mac Hildebrand says:

    I love traveling light and cheap and looking for local hot spots in a new town. With the idea of finding local food in mind, some people go straight for the best the city has to offer in upscale dining. I far prefer sampling local legendary burgers and well-known pubs, and it’s so much cheaper! Sounds like a great trip!

  2. GlenCraig says:

    So jealous.  I wish I could have made WDS but it just didn’t work with my schedule this year.  We’re actually heading to Portland in a couple of weeks.  I’m hoping to hit up a couple of the beers you listed!

    • Philip Taylor says:

       @GlenCraig I’ll see you there next year. I’ve already purchased my ticket. Have fun on your trip next week.

  3. What are the chances you had McMenamins’ Ruby (I don’t think they have a Purple Haze…)

    • Philip Taylor says:

       @Adaptu It is apparently an “alternative version” of Ruby: Definitely called Purple Haze though. Me being a Louisiana native that stuck out to me. Tasty beer. Would love one right now in fact.

  4. Pennyroll says:

    Seems like you did well with the budget. We don’t live too far from Portland probably an 8 hour drive. I planned a road trip their this spring but ended up cancelling due to the weather. Tons of rain. We drove through once but only spend a few hours and liked it enough to want to go back, hopefully some time this summer.

  5. Carrie Smith says:

    Sounds like you still made out really well for booking your travel plans later. I haven’t been to Portland yet, but it’s definitely on my list of travels. Plus next year I definitely plan to be at WDS – I won’t miss it again!

  6. Thanks for the article PT – I enjoy seeing how people save on their trips and travel – and so the break-down was very helpful.

  7. HoodyHoo says:

    dude, no salmon ???  easily the best food in portland. there is this place on the river … salmon taste totally different there since it is so fresh.  maybe it isn’t season, though …

    • Philip Taylor says:

      Yep, missed out. Should have had it the second night there but I was scheming for some free food at the party that never came. Next time. And I agree. Had some Salmon in Seattle and about flipped my lid.

  8. Money Life and More says:

    Not bad at all. Sounds like you had a good time for relatively cheap considering you flew!