A Frugalwoods Vacation: What We Spent, What We Didn’t
Last weekend Mr. Frugalwoods and I attended a friend’s glorious wedding–held at a brewery no less (yes, we have awesome friends). Being us, we made the journey on the cheap. Still, I can’t help but wonder if we could’ve done it even cheaper…what do you think? Here’s the rundown:
Total Cost of Trip: $535.50
Estimated Savings: $1,509.96
The distance was such that driving wasn’t an option, so we bought our plane tickets far in advance and were flexible on departure and arrival times to take advantage of the cheapest flights. We left late in the evening, enabling us to go to work that day and not spend a vacation day.
- Cost: $413 (round-trip flights + taxes/fees for two people).
Aside from being a new term I’m coining, much of one’s travel expenses can stem from the airport itself. Travel to and fro, food, neck massages, luggage, shoe shines, etc. To combat this money trap we:
- Packed our own food.
- Definitely not worth spending funds on limp, tragic sandwiches and unneeded chips-n-sodas. We took servings from the bulk lunch Mr. Frugalwoods cooked for us that week (rice w/mushrooms, btw). I spooned rice into two ziplock bags (yes, I know it would be cheaper to take reusable containers, but ours are glass and I didn’t want to haul them or risk breaking). Also: scavenged plastic spoons from the airport food court; brought an empty waterbottle and filled it at an airport drinking fountain; toted two bananas and pears; and packed up the mini bags of pretzels and granola bars I’d gotten for free at a conference a few weeks prior (double frugal points). We were set!
- Estimated savings: $60 (meals, snacks, and drinks for two people for both flights)
- Brought our own books and magazines.
- Don’t buy media at the airport—you know you’re getting ripped off. You just know it.
- Estimated savings: $20
- Took public transit to the airport.
- I know this isn’t an option in all cities, but if it is, wow is it cheap! We had to cab it home as our flight landed too late to take the bus, but, one way is better than two! I was frugal-cringing over this for a week until I read Mr. Money Mustache’s apropos Give Yourself the Gift of Not Worrying About Money. He makes the sage point that those of us on track with savings shouldn’t sweat the occasional splurge.
- Cost of public transit tickets: $4 ($2 per person)
- Savings: $35 (one cab ride)
- Packed into two small carry-ons to avoid incurring the $25 per bag per flight cost of checked luggage.
- Savings: $100 (two bags, to + fro)
- Back at home, Frugal Hound bunked with fellow dog owner friends. We’ll swap and watch their pup next time they’re out of town.
- Savings: $360 (the kennel down the street charges $60/night per dog)
On the Ground
We were extremely fortunate to stay with my lovely in-laws, aka the parents of Mr. Frugalwoods, who live 2.5 hours from the wedding location. They generously picked us up at the airport and fed and lodged us for free (thank you frugal-in-laws!). We are tremendously grateful for this savings and glad we considered the surrounding region when making travel plans.
- In the wedding city, we stayed at a Sheraton for free using our Starwood Hotel points (gleaned from an American Express card we judiciously pay off every month).
- Savings: $380 ($190 per night, stayed two nights)
- My fabulous frugal-in-laws let us borrow their car to drive to the wedding city. We filled up the tank once.
- Cost of gas: $40
- Savings: $76.51 (for a rental car)
- OMG SNACKS!
- We took snacks and lunches from my frugal-in-laws for our drive so that we wouldn’t need to buy anything on the road.
- Estimated Savings: $25 (snacks, lunches, and drinks for two people, two ways)
- Fortunately for us, the wedding included a rehearsal dinner, a reception, and a brunch so we were off the hook for most meals. Weddings are the best! Especially this one. Did I mention it was at a brewery?!
- Beverage splurges!
- We bought a diet coke and a sprite (first time we’d had soda in months) from the hotel vending machine (very un-Frugalwoods of us!) and had two unusual, hard-to-find regional craft beers at an awesome local brewery (got the small size of each to save $$$).
- Cost of drink splurges: $11
- Brunch splurge!
- We ate exactly one meal out the entire six-day trip: a divine brunch with wonderful, old friends before the wedding. Even here, we thought carefully. Brunch = two meals in one (frugal score!). And, we selected a highly-rated restaurant with reasonable prices. We wanted to enjoy our meal—not spend a few dollars less for subpar grub. We strategized by not ordering liquor and avoiding the expensive entrées. A delicious and delightful time with friends was had because we’d saved on all other aspects of the journey. I’d much rather expend my food budget on a savory brunch than tepid airport fare.
- Cost of tasty brunch for two: $32.50
- Budget wedding clothes.
- I was honored to be in the wedding party and deeply grateful to the bride that I wasn’t required to buy a dress! Frugal happiness. I wore a charming periwinkle, taffeta J Crew bridesmaids dress, purchased for $20 at a thrift store with a $3 garage sale necklace and $14 Target flats. Best part: this is the third wedding I’ve worn this outfit to, which makes the price per event $12.33! I did my own hair, make-up, and nails. Mr. Frugalwoods wore the only suit he owns and his beard, which is well, always on his face. We looked good!
- Estimated Savings: $400 (new fancy outfits and shoes for two people. Ok I’m kind of guessing because I haven’t purchased new clothes in…a realllly long time.)
- Clever wedding gift.
- I used a gift card someone had given me, along with a coupon I found online, to buy the bride and groom a gift from their wedding registry. Horde gift cards and only use them when you need to buy someone else a gift!
- Savings: $53.45
Mr. Frugalwoods and I had a glorious time on this vacation and were able to enjoy quality time with family and friends. While we spent more money than we would at home, it was a worthwhile debit that facilitated meaningful experiences.
Ok, give us the hard truth–what did we miss? Where could we have saved more?
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