Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fancy Schmancy the Frugal Way: How a 3 Day/Two Night Trip cost us $240.00 vs $475.47 Including Gas!!

My husband and I just got back from a 3 day/2 night vacation. We had a blast! But instead of this vacation costing us $475.47, it instead cost us $240.00 including gas to get us there and back. Since this is a blog about frugality, I would like to say here that if you are living next to the edge where you are only making minimum payments on your credit cards, taking a trip like this may not be in your best interests. A trip camping or something more frugal should be in the works. However, if your finances are in relatively good order and you are looking for a way to have a frugal but fantastic vacation, you could do something like this:

Here is my travel folder that I prepare before every trip. It has every coupon, every map to and from every destination we plan to go to plus a few extra coupons just in case they are needed.

First, hotel. I did a bid on a Priceline Hotel. Priceline has two ways to get hotels. You can go to their website and pick or you can make a bid on a hotel. I have historically always bid because you can get much better prices that way. The main drawback to the name your own price feature is that you cannot pick your own hotel. This means if you want certain features like breakfast or a pool you can't be certain of getting them. The only thing you can choose is how many stars and in what area. My first bid was $40.00 per night. This was rejected by Priceline and they told me I needed to bid at least $47.00. So I left. I went back later and bid $41.00 and they took it! Yay! I got a hotel with pool AND breakfast, so I was very excited. This was a La Quinta hotel. This would have been $75.00 per night otherwise. so $82.00 vs $150.00.

We have birthdays this time of year which is one reason we go for a fall vacation every year. There are many restaurants that if you sign up for their newsletter etc, they will give you a freebie on your birthday. For this, you just have to search for different places you might be interested in and sign up. I had a few coupons for different restaurants.

Then, I saw an event I wanted to do and did a search for a coupon online, which a person can often find. I didn't find one, however, I found out that the twin cities has a coupon book that you can buy. The coupon book was more than I wanted to spend however and so I looked on Craigslist and found someone who was wanting to trade some of the coupons from this book. I wrote to this person and asked her if she would be willing to sell me some certain coupons. She was. Cha-Ching! I offered her $8.00 for four coupons and received them in the mail. These coupons saved me a total of $58.90. (I wasn't able to use one because the place was closed for the season.)

So the trip went as follows:

Buy one get one free for Birthday. Total cost $4.10 vs $8.20.

Next was a really expensive dinner. I mean really. My frugal bones just about couldn't stand it, but I did anyway. We went to Red Lobster where I got the Seaport Lobster and Shrimp and my husband got Yellowfin Tuna in Garlic Butter. We always order water in restaurants so there was no charge for drinks. Total bill $57.37 plus tips! Woah! But, my Mom and Dad (thanks Mom and Dad!) had given us a $25.00 gift certificate earlier in the year for our anniversary and I saved it for this trip. So total cost was $32.37 plus tips. Hey, we could have easily tried to stick closer to that $25.00 and done much better cost-wise, but we both ordered what we wanted and it was soooo good. :)

Next morning, free breakfast vs $20.00 somewhere else X 2 days = free vs $40.00.

I knew before we left that one coupon I had purchased was not going to pan out so I found a deal for a shooting range on Groupon. I knew my husband would enjoy that. It cost us $18.00 vs $40.00.

We ate lunch at Fuddruckers. (Were all the good names taken when they named that place??). I had a birthday coupon for a free burger $11.03 vs $18.12. My husband had the burger and I, the salad.

Then we went to a play at a theater. This would have cost $64.00 but cost $32.00 with my buy one get one coupon.

After the play we went to Woolley's.  This is a super good restaurant. Real tablecloths and napkins, excellent service and the best food ever! I forgot to take pics of the food here but here is a link to the restaurant. My husband had the Panko Walleye and I had a burger (the best burger ever!). My husband and I split both meals and traded half and half. We do that quite often. I had a buy one get one free entree coupon. So what would have cost us $40.60 cost $23.55.

The next day, after free breakfast and a swim, we went to Mill City Museum. This is where they used to make Gold Medal Flour. It was very interesting. I had a buy one get one coupon. Regular would have been $22.00 but we were there for $11.00.

We had one more Dairy Queen coupon so it was back to dairy Queen for one last blizzard before we headed home $4.10 vs $8.20.

I still have some freebie coupons for birthdays. I hope to use one next weekend. These expire quickly and it seems impossible to use them all every year. 

So, this trip cost $240.00 vs $475.47 for a difference of $235.47. I spent about an hour and a half looking for these deals and putting them together. That's about $156.98/hour. Or if you wanted to give yourself a raise for the year, about .11/hour. 


  1. What a FUN trip! I think your next career might be a frugal travel agent! You are amazing!!!!

  2. And.... all those food pictures just made me hungry looking at them!!!!!!! I want me some Red Lobster now!!!! lol

  3. ~simply frugalynne~October 14, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    LOL! I want me MORE Red Lobster too! Thanks for the comments!