If you’ve had the opportunity to read about my trip to LA recently, you probably know that I like to travel cheap! Recently I took a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. Home of jazz music, great food, and lots of drinking, there is plenty to spend money on. Knowing it was my first time in the city, I figured I might spend a little more this time around but I was committed to spending less than $500. How did I do it? Let’s find out.
I shall confess, I did not stick to the “24 hour” time frame for this trip. From a transportation standpoint, it was actually more cost effective for a longer trip. I’ll explain later.
Remember the rules of the Mini Trip:
There are only 3 rules to abide by in order to successfully pull off a Mini Trip.
Remember my budget friendly travel partner Frontier Airlines? They knocked it out of the park with this trip. A good tip when considering a mini trip is to subscribe to the airline’s emails. Most airlines offer serious discounts if you’re flexible on travel dates. This particular sale was 90% off select one-way flights as long as they occurred within a certain time frame. I was able to secure a direct flight for $32 and my return flight was also $32. By flying out on a Wednesday and returning on a Saturday afternoon, I took advantage of less popular flight times, which means some serious savings!
Remember that this is a budget airline so they make their money on the “perks”. Checked bags, reserved seats, extra leg room all cost extra. My priority is always the destination and not the mode of transportation, so I am fine with being slightly uncomfortable for an inexpensive flight. If this is not the case for you, you might explore other airlines that include those perks in the ticket price.
Total cost for roundtrip airfare from Texas to NOLA: $66
NOLA is a fairly compact and walkable city. However, the airport is a decent drive from the places you’re likely to visit. This trip, I decided to forego renting a car and use rideshare and public transportation. This worked well with the exception of the $54 Uber fare to and from the airport. In hindsight, I would’ve rented a car for $25 just to make the drive to and from the airport.
I chose to buy a Jazzy Pass for New Orleans’ transportation system. I bought a 3-day pass right from my iPhone for $9 which allowed me unlimited rides on buses and street cars for the duration of the 3 days. My only Uber rides were to and from the airport. The transportation system was very easy to navigate and it made me feel like a local!
Total cost for my transportation: $63
One of the many reasons New Orleans was the perfect Mini Trip destination was the amount of free stuff there is to do and see. Without a car, I did a lot of walking, which allowed me to stumble across so many amazing gems. Here are the list of places I visited at little to no cost:
Total amount spent on activities: $5
This was definitely the biggest expense of the trip. Unlike LA, I had no connections to a free place to crash. I did some research and found a quaint Airbnb for $45 per night. Thanks to some confusion at check-in, I was comped one night’s stay so my grand total for lodging was $173.
Total cost for lodging: $173
Food and Booze
This is where the City of New Orleans outshines most places. Open container laws in the city permit you to literally drink alcohol wherever you want. While I saw most tourists walking through and paying $5 for a beer to go, I decided to jump into a local grocery store and buy a six-pack. For $8, I had plenty of beer to get me through a portion of the day. This turned out to be a huge savings in the long run.
New Orleans is a tourist hot spot, so food was a little pricey. I would suggest splitting meals and only eating twice a day while on the trip. These small savings really add up.
Total cost for food and alcohol: $79
My total all-in costs were approximately $380.08, and I never felt restricted by my budget. The key is establishing the amount you wish to spend before you leave and stick to it! Where will I go next? At this rate, I could go all over the country!
Jake Rivas, CFP® is a financial advisor and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at i*financial located at 1901 NW Military Hwy Ste. 102, San Antonio, TX 78216. He offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. He can be reached at 210-342-4346 or by email at email@example.com.