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The Boston Marathon will be held on April 20, 2015. Yes, I know that it is many months away, but it is not too soon to start planning travel for the Boston Marathon!
Planning Travel for the Boston Marathon
The date has been set for the registration process for the Boston Marathon and that date is Monday, September 8. The registration process will be the same as last year (you can read about that process here), so it will be a tiered registration.
With even the registration process still almost two months off, what kind of planning can you do now? This I can tell you for sure – if you wait to get your miles and points until after you confirm your registration, you will have waited too long. Not only that, but if you wait to book hotels until after you confirm your registration, you will also find yourself in a difficult situation.
Make no mistake – with tens of thousands of people descending on the already populous city of Boston, hotels become full and rooms scarce the closer the race gets. Obviously, you do not want to wait until that point. You want to be able to grab a prime hotel location as early as possible. With miles and points, it makes that incredibly easy!
Most award reservations with hotels have cancelation policies that allow you to cancel right up until the day before the scheduled arrival without facing any penalty! The same holds true for non-prepaid or advanced purchase reservations as well. With flexibility like that, there is no reason to now grab a hotel right away. The only reason you should not is if you do not have the points, and that is why it is a good time to start planning.
I wrote some comprehensive posts last year about some of the chains in the Boston area and what is available and what it takes to book. I will be updating these in the coming weeks, but for now, if you would like to check out that information, you can see them here – Boston Marathon SPG Edition, Boston Marathon Hyatt Edition, and other chain hotels.
There are a lot of excellent hotels very near the finish line so collecting the points early will give you the opportunity to grab those great hotels. Some of the hotels that come to mind are:
- Courtyard Boston Copley Square – 40,000 points per night
- Boston Marriott Copley Square – 40,000 points per night
- Westin Copley Place – 16,000 points per night
- Liberty Hotel – 14,000/16,000 points per night
- Fairmont Copley Plaza
I will say that some of these hotels are already showing no availability that night/weekend but that happens every year and will open up a bit as the registration time gets closer. The above hotels are just some of the great options near the finish line, which is a big plus after running a race!
Getting the Points
With almost two months, you should have just enough time to conservatively apply and meet the spend on the cards you need to cover hotels. Check the credit card page for all the cards associate with hotels and find the ones that best fit your hotel preference for the race.
Airfare can be a little trickier. The main reason is that, unless you have top-tier elite status with the airline or are flying Southwest, you cannot just cancel your award tickets if you do not get in. That can make it difficult to do too much pre-booking.
However, do not count out Southwest if they fly out from your airport! With the ease of being able to cancel bookings (paid or award) right up until 10 minutes before the flight leaves, they should be your go-to airline for speculative bookings. Since they are transfer partners with Ultimate Rewards, not to mention the potential 200,000 points available from their co-branded cards, it is very easy to get their points and you can transfer them in as needed. Note: their schedule is currently only open through January, so you will need to wait until later in the fall for it to open to April.
Another aspect of airfare is that, if purchasing the ticket, you really do not know if you got the best price and there is not really anything you can do to save money if it drops later. On the other hand, if you wait too long for that cheap price, you very well may miss out on seats at all! One option is to go ahead and book with Southwest but then wait for February when Southwest normally runs a short-duration fare sale. During that time, other airlines typically match Southwest airports and you can then pick up the deal with the airline of your choice (or refund the Southwest ticket and rebuy with no penalties).
Getting the Points
Just because it may not be the best move to speculatively book airplane tickets does not mean you cannot go ahead and get the points in place. For example, if your preferred airline would be Delta, get one of the Delta co-branded cards so that you have the miles when the time comes. In fact, get more than enough in case they do not have any award tickets available at the saver level. Do not just assume that 25,000 with any airline is enough. Even though it is never a preferred thing to pay more than the saver price on a domestic award, if the cash price is over $500 and you are going to go to Boston, it makes sense to use the miles you have. To get the cards you need, check out the credit card page for suggestions.
So, while the race is still several months off, it is definitely time to start looking ahead and getting your planning on. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to focus on the marathon and your training schedule having your travel already booked? Be sure to check back in the coming months for more profiles of hotels and the best way to get the points you need for this special day!