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travelbetterpodcasts.com Sugarbush 2015 - 01

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How I Did Sugarbush This Year: Staying Local vs. Staying in Barre VT

Posted on 26 May 2015 by Leslie Lello

travelbetterpodcasts.com Sugarbush 2015 - 01For the last couple years, I have made sure to get up to Sugarbush, which I feel has some of the best snow and varied terrain in Vermont.

My first time at the mountain was 2014 and it was great… 8 inches of fluffy snow every morning in March! It was awesome!

But there a few things that surprised me at this new-t0-me mountain.

First, leaving in the afternoon from New York after finishing work left me on the dark and windy back roads of Vermont at night, which I do not care for.

Second, I could not find reasonably priced lodging. My choice was to spend over $100 (pricy as a solo traveler) or stay at a hostel.

I chose the hostel, which was fine, but I didn’t get very good sleep any of the nights because of the noise in the shared room and my hostel mates who stumbled in drunk every night from the loud bar downstairs.

The hostel is only 5 minutes from Sugarbush, but I decided this year that I would have to come up with a different plan.

And that’s exactly what I did!

I decided to look for lodging in cities that are on the (few) major highways in Vermont.

This lead me to Barre, Vermont, which is about an hour from Sugarbush.

OMG! AN HOUR?

I can already hear you groan…

“AN HOUR?! THAT SUCKS? WHO WANTS TO GET UP EARLY TO DRIVE AN HOUR TO THE MOUNTAIN?”

Well, let’s break it down and you’ll understand what I think the advantages are:

1. Drive Time to Lodging in Vermont: Sugarbush vs. Barre

Google Maps says it is a 5.5 hour drive from New York City to Sugarbush Resort. Leaving late in the afternoon leaves you at Sugarbush at 9pm, the earliest. But the 5.5 hour drive time estimate is based on daytime hours. Even if there is no traffic, you will be driving slower (hopefully because safety matters to you) at night on the winding, unlit roads of Vermont at night.  For me, driving cautiously added another hour to the trip. It was March and the potholes were cavernous on Rt. 100 and other minor VT roads that year, so I drove slow to protect my car.

At the same, Google says the drive time to Barre, Vermont from New York City is only 5 hours. Again, this is daytime driving, so you have to add a bit of time on to that if you slow down at night, but you will be on well-lit superhighways most of the way, so there is much better visibility.

The first year, I made it to Sugarbush around 11pm. The second year I made it to Barre by 10pm. I left at approximately the same time.

2. Generic Quality Inn in Barre VT offers a Better Choice than the Hotels Near Sugarbush

I arrived at the Quality Inn in Barre around 10pm (getting a little bit of a late start), but my room was right next to my car, which was greatly appreciated on the frigid Vermont night. I brought my gear into the room, washed my face, and was in bed by 11pm.

Oh, and I got a full buffet breakfast in the morning which means I got on the road faster (which means I got on the mountain faster). I can just grab some coffee and a couple of hard boiled eggs and go.

Or I can just bring breakfast from home and leave it in the refrigerator in the room until I am ready to eat it.

When I get back to Barre from the mountain, I can swim in the pool or the hot tub.

This level of accommodations would have cost a bundle (probably at least 2-3 times the price I paid) in the Sugarbush Resort area.

Or you can go the budget route and skip the comfort.

Juxtapose my Quality Inn experience to the year before when stayed at the hostel near Sugarbush. After taking two trips to lug my bags to my dorm room (up a flight of stairs) and making sure I took off my shoes each time (no shoes upstairs in the dorms) and making sure there was not food in my bags (no food in the dorms), and then sorting out my belongings so that I could jump into my ski gear as easy as possible so as to not disturb the other hostelers (who did not have the same courtesy), I was finally able to carry all of my toiletries to the bathroom so that I may wash my face and go to bed around 1am (because I also arrived around 11pm and took 20 minutes to check in to the hostel).

I went to bed at 1am but didn’t fall asleep until 3am, if you can call being drowsy with my eyes closed sleeping. 3am is when all the snoring drunks in my room stumbled up from the bar downstairs after the loud band stopped playing and last call.

Of course I had to wake up early to go for breakfast at a cafe 8 miles down the road, because there was no kitchen in this hostel and the only offering the hostel had was an outrageously expensive full service meal (which takes too long, anyway).

One morning I just ate the frozen trail mix I left in my car in order to get on the mountain at a respectable time.

No hot tub or pool to relax in after a long ski day. A line for the co-ed shower. Bleh.

(Editing Note: Haha, but you don’t have to, ya know, shower with the other gender. You just share the facilities with the other gender.)

3. The Drive from Barre to Sugarbush is Usually Not That Bad

50 minutes from Barre to Sugarbush may seem like a lot, but it is daytime driving with minimal traffic. A super-fast ride on 89A to the well maintained Rt. 100.

I know what you are thinking.

“What if there is a storm?”

I can see that would make the drive much less pleasant and in some cases impossible. It is certainly something to consider.

There were a few storms last year in Vermont when not even the locals were skiing because even they could not make it to the mountain (In one case, I was staying on the mountain, so I basically had the whole mountain to myself because I didn’t have to drive.)

So, if there is a storm the Barre option might not work. Or might be rather treacherous and time consuming.

Most likely, though, you might just have to wait for them to clear the roads, which Vermont will likely do very quickly and early because these are major roads you would be taking.

In my comparison, I left Barre at 8am and arrived at Sugarbush at 9am, stopping for a coffee along the way.

The year before I left from the hostel at 8:30am (reasons: wait for the bathroom and I was tired from lack of sleep and no coffee yet so moving a bit slower and, again, had to reorganize my dorm stuff to make sure I wasn’t leaving valuables), but had to go for breakfast down the road, so by the time I got to the mountain it was 9:30am.

So Barre Vermont wins again!

Here’s some bonus awesomeness about the drive from Sugarbush to Barre. You will go past Montpelier and stop for groceries at Hunger Mountain Co-Op, if you’re into healthy food and clean eating.

Conclusion

Milage-wise, it might seem like staying in Barre when planning to ski or ride at Sugarbush is like crossing the Canadian boarder in Alberta when you need to get to Toronto, but I strongly advise you to consider this not-so-obvious option as a value-added choice.

If your intention is to have a great day skiing and be well rested, well fed and comfortable, Barre Vermont is a good choice, especially if you are a solo traveler.

PS: I stayed at the Quality Inn in Barre, but there are a number of similar chain motels where the quality is moderate and predictable and will support you and your needs during your ski/ride vacation at Sugarbush.

 

 

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hostels now pet travel friendly in europe

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Pet Travel Made Easier with Hosteling International

Posted on 23 September 2013 by Leslie Lello

hostels now pet travel friendly in europe

When I created TBP 0004 “Enjoying a Hostel Environment” I mentioned that one should leave the dog home if planning to stay in a hostel. I didn’t think that any hostels existed that were open to pet travel because the logistic of a dorm room are not conducive to such amenities.

It can get too crowded with just a bunch of humans and their huge luggage, but can you imagine adding three barking chihuahuas and a giant St. Bernard to the mix?

That would be utter insanity!

But apparently hostels in Europe have figured out a work-around for the dog issue.

After I posted that podcast, I received an email from Hosteling International with a link to their blog post about a few of the hostels that DO allow dogs.

I was thrilled to read the article because even though I enjoy solo travel, it can get a bit lonely.

The dog obviously keeps me company, and many of the dog-related places that I visit (like dog parks) offer a great way for humans like me to socialize on the road, but there is nothing like finishing a day of sightseeing in a common room or in the kitchen and sharing my experiences while listening to others who also have advice and could guide my next day of touring.

I hope that the American hostels will follow suit and consider opening their doors to pet travel, too.  I love staying at hostels and have really missed the camaraderie and the social way to learn about the the destination.

 

 

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chelsea market New York City Travel

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TBP 0009 New York City – Travel Less Expensive

Posted on 28 July 2013 by Leslie Lello

chelsea market New York City Travel

This week I went into New York City (or “the city” is all you need to say if you’re coming from Northern New Jersey) to sell some of my vinyl records at Chelsea Market. I decided to walk the High Line (see link below for more info) and ended up meeting a German tourist who was in town to explore the city for a week.

After we talked for a bit, he lamented that he only had a week to experience New York.  He said that one week was not enough, but that the time that he had was a lot compared to his friends, who usually only schedule three days for exploring New York because it is so expensive.

As someone who grew up in New York, I know that it can be outrageously expensive, but there are ways to prepare for your trip that will allow you to get the most out of your money and still see everything (including Museums and monuments) and have a great time.

That’s what this week’s podcast is about! Below are the podcast notes to help you find more in depth information on the things that I mention, and if I can answer any additional questions for you, please let me know!

Happy Travels!

Leslie Lello

PS: If you like the podcast and/or my blog, please subscribe on iTunes and share it! Thank you!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/travelbetterpodcasts
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/travel-better/id677482755

PODCAST NOTES FOR TBP 0009 New York City – Make Your Trip Less Expensive

GIMME SHELTER:

HI Hostel in Harlem/Upper West Side:
http://hinewyork.org/contact/

Hostel (Chelsea):
http://www.chelseahostel.com/

Couchsurfing:
www.couchsurfing.com

Airbnb:
https://www.airbnb.com/

Home Away:
www.homeaway.com

EAT CHEAP:

I didn’t mention this in the podcast, but my favorite cheap (but yummy) meals in the city are at Dojos on 4th street, and for breakfast I have always loved the pushcarts that make egg sandwiches (if I can find one).  Also, check out MenuPages to find an inexpensive restaurant in the neighborhood.  You can also use Yelp and Where.
http://www.dojorestaurant.com/
http://www.menupages.com
www.Yelp.com
Where app on iTunes and Android

Food trucks are different than pushcarts, and often more expensive, but here is the link to find food trucks which is trendy right now:  http://nyctruckfood.com/

GET INFORMATION ABOUT ACTIVITIES THAT FIT YOUR BUDGET:

New York Press:
http://nypress.com/

Village Voice:
http://www.villagevoice.com/

Time Out New York:
http://www.timeout.com/newyork

Website with Information about Free Stuff to do in New York:
http://www.nycgo.com/free?cid=em_et__

New York Podcast that I refer to in my podcast: The Bowery Boys
http://theboweryboys.blogspot.com/
I couldn’t find a link to the podcast on their website so you should just do a search in iTunes if you want to find them.

OTHER THINGS I MENTIONED ABOUT NEW YORK IN THE PODCAST:

New York City High Line:
http://www.thehighline.org/

Cathedral of St. John the Divine:
www.stjohndivine.org/

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heashot_LeslieLello

Welcome and thanks for visiting!

My name is Leslie and I am the owner, publisher and media creator of Travel Better Podcasts.

A few years ago I started traveling... (Click Here For More)


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