Link Round-up! Cheap Hotel Rooms, Egg Sandwiches, Commutes

+ How do you get the cheapest good hotel room? Go through an exhaustive 7-step process that involves several different websites and Skype. (“It gets easier with practice!”) If you’re feeling more like satisfising rather than maximizing and you’re okay getting a pretty cheap, pretty good room, though, even following one or two of the steps will net useful results. Like this one:

If you’ve already booked a flight, or are going on a longer, more complicated trip, package deals won’t work. But this straightforward, in-and-out New York-to-Paris trip is exactly the sort where a package deal might be the trick. (Trips to sunny destinations in the winter also work pretty well.) I went to Kayak’s packages page and it led me to a promising deal on Priceline.com: a round-trip, nonstop flight for two from New York to Paris, plus four nights at the Crowne Plaza Paris-Republique, for $2,505. The cheapest nonstop fare on my dates was $2,503. In other words, four nights at the four-star Crowne Plaza would essentially cost 50 cents a night. I even contacted Priceline to make sure there were no hidden charges.

+ “How much should a bagel sandwich cost?” Step off, Gawker. This is our corner, and we’ve got bats.

FWIW, commenters’ answers range from about $5 — $11, which, sure, I guess, whatever. Why don’t more people object to putting bacon on a *bagel* sandwich? The good lord does not approve. If you must dig on swine, put it on regular bread, won’t you? Out of respect.

+ The ideal commute is not, it turns out, no commute. People like taking some time to get to work. They also prefer walking or biking, if they can.

A classic study from 2001, conducted by Lothlorien Redmond and Patricia Mokhtarian, asked roughly 1,300 workers in the San Francisco area to report both their “actual” and their “ideal” commute times. The researchers found that the average one-way ideal was actually 16 minutes. Nearly a third of the respondents reported an ideal one-way time of 20 minutes or more. Less than 2 percent reported an ideal under 4 minutes, and only 1.2 percent reported an ideal commute of zero commute. … maybe there really is something enjoyable, or at least psychologically beneficial, about the trip from work to home and back.

More recent attempts to understand commuter desires have uncovered plenty of nuance. Mode obviously matters. Some work suggests that drivers find their commute more stressful than others, on account of traffic, unexpected delays, and the existence of other drivers. Transit riders can feel some stress, too, especially when the train or bus is delayed, and they also have to worry more about boredom (though that’s quickly becoming obsolete). Walkers and cyclists report the most relaxing and exciting trips.

My friends who ride bikes to work do not report that it is a relaxing experience; they face death zooming at them at 55 mph, and jaywalking idiots they have to swerve to avoid, and other hazards. Yet some of them prefer cycling to taking the train. Trains are nice: you can read! Still, my perfect commute would be about a 15 minute walk along lightly trafficked, tree-lined streets. And everyone around me would be cheerful and singing and saying “Bonjour!” like in the opening of Beauty and the Beast.

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