Hello again! Apologies for the radio silence over here- between having house guests all last week and a quick trip to Chicago over the weekend, I’m just starting to get my feet back under me.
So, since I missed last Friday’s frugal Friday post, I thought I’d do one today that’s vacation inspired from my trip to Chicago!
Frugal Vacation Wins
- Most of the activities I took part in in Chicago were completely free! One of my good friends and I visited the Lincoln Park Zoo, attended a free outdoor performance by the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, window-shopped the Chicago nightlife, and took a walk around Millennium Park. All very fun. All very free. Be still, my frugal heart!
- I walked everywhere- This didn’t exactly end up being free- I had to buy band-aids for an army of blisters, but it was fun to see some parts of Chicago I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Also, walking is not my natural inclination, but said friend prefers walking, so walk we did! I’m down to three band-aids on each foot, so the blisters are healing… I’m also down three pounds from the start of the weekend, so maybe said friend is on to something???
- Despite the abundance of expensive food in Chicago, I made more frugal food choices- Although, the ever-present Starbucks fix was of course happening, so…I guess it could have been better? Overall, I spent just under $100 on food for the weekend, which ends up at about $30 a day, which I am content with.
- I didn’t check any bags- Since I didn’t fly Southwest* (which was SUCH a poor choice, for so many reasons), I made sure not to bring more clothing than could fit in a carry-on bag. This is always hard, since I rarely know what I’ll be doing in advance of traveling. But I did it!
- I stayed at an older hotel- Since most of my friends were coming to Chicago for an academic conference (alt-ac over here!), I wanted to stay close to the conference hotel. But the conference hotel was very expensive. Using my (erm, Expedia’s) superpowers, I found a hotel that was a two minute walk from the conference hotel, but cost almost $100 less per night. And included free WiFi. Done and done. It was definitely older and lacked the glitz and polish of the conference hotel, but there was a bed and it was clean. I don’t feel the need to pay for glitz and polish when I can pay less for serviceable and clean.
Frugal Vacation Fails
- I had to buy a new pair of shoes- I failed to pack appropriate footwear for hiking miles around Chicago (literally, miles. My conservative estimate is that I walked between 10-15 miles this weekend, since the zoo itself was 2 miles away from the hotel). My flimsy little dress flats weren’t going to cut it. Of course, the new shoes also necessitated band-aids, but I pulled through! However, I hunted down a TJ Maxx, so I didn’t end up paying a lot for the shoes, and I like them enough that I’ll definitely keep wearing them.
- Airport transportation- I did not do my due diligence ahead of this trip and just assumed that I would be able to easily take public transit from the airport to the hotel. Only, turns out, the L line from O’Hare didn’t actually go anywhere near my downtown hotel! The nearest blue line stop was 2(!) miles away from my hotel. So getting there required train + bus+ walking. Um. No thank you. So I took a cab to and from the airport. If I had planned better, I could (and would have) reserved some type of shuttle, which would have easily been half the price.
What frugal things have you been up to lately?
*For those of you unfamiliar with Southwest, all of their pricing includes two “free” checked bags (i.e., the price is built into their ticket price, but you don’t have to pay extra for it).