I just came back from traveling Monday. I hope you all did not miss me too much! I decided to take a trip to DC. Visiting the many museums has been on my bucket list since high school. I am a true nerd! So, for this birthday, I decided to go ahead and cross it off! But, booking this trip and being able to reflect by myself, brought out some good financial prospectives. Enough with the backstory, let's begin!
Travel to DC
I have a rule. Any trip 600 miles or less, I will drive. This has two purposes. One, the trip is short enough that I can stomach being in the car for that amount of time. Two, it saves me valuable money that I can put towards spending at my destination. So, for this trip to DC, I mapped it from my home. It was only going to be a 314 mile trip (equivalent to a 5 hour drive +/-) so it passed my "drivable rule". I also figured I can use my vehicle to get around while in the city but more on that later. I ended up spending only $60 in gas the whole trip. That sure beats the cheapest non-stop flight of $389 that I could find!
Booking the Hotel
I decided to go a different route to book my hotel. I listen to the Clark Howard podcast and he is always talking about how he uses the Priceline "Name Your Own Price" or "Express Deals" to book his hotel. I wanted to give it a try! I figured since I am riding solo for this trip, it would be a good time to try it out. If it fails, I would be the only one disappointed. I was pleasantly surprised. I was able to book a hotel for about 30% off the regular price within walking distance to a few of the museums. It was a steal! The hotel was gorgeous with free breakfast, a gorgeous view, 24-hour restaurant with (alcoholic) drinks, gym, and valet parking. I was living it up on a budget! If you have ever been to DC, you know how expensive it is to be in the middle of the action. Not with Priceline! I highly recommend it next time you are wanting to book travel.
As I stated earlier, when I booked the trip, I planned on using my car to get around. But, once I got there and saw how bad the traffic was I decided to try out Uber and Lyft. I always drive but I never ride. Best decision ever! In DC, they have Lyft Line and Uber Express Pool. With these options, you can ride extremely cheap (about $3.00 a ride for me). The only caveat is you have to share your ride with other passengers. Being an extrovert and loving to meet new people, this did not bother me at all! As a matter of fact, I feel like it made it more enjoyable. If a museum was within walking distance, I walked. If not, I hopped in an Uber or Lyft. Being that parking is about $10 a day if I were to drive my car, I saved about 50% of the cost doing it this way. Not to mention, the road rage I would have experienced with the traffic! I definitely hit the easy button!
Of course, most of the museums were free so I didn't spend much on keeping myself entertained. I skipped the museums that charged. There were plenty that were free!
I tried to use as many coupons as possible while I was there. But, this was probably my biggest expenditure while I was there because I wanted to try new things. I ended up eating at the museums most days because they had different types of food that I had never tried. I ate Jewish food from the Holocaust museum, Native American food from the Native American museum, and African-American food from the African-American museum. Have food, will travel and spend! I thoroughly enjoyed trying the different cuisines so the money spent was well worth it.
Those were my key takeaways from this trip. Just because you are budgeting doesn't mean you can't travel. Work it into your budget! That way you can always make sure you have funds available when a deal comes up. More on that later! Do you have any frugal travel tips? I would love to hear them!