Independence Day Long Weekend Mini-Vacation Budget

I don’t usually post budgets from my trips, but I’m making an exception this time because I am really happy with how cheap this trip turned out to be and I traveled by myself. I traveled to a friend’s wedding over the Independence Day long weekend and spent time in three different cities over the course of four days. It was a pretty whirlwind trip, but I managed to see a lot of people and keep the costs down. In fact, this trip was cheaper than my half of a trip that my ex-boyfriend and I took which just involved driving.

Flights: $105.90

Yup, you’re reading this correctly. I booked my flights far enough in advance that I was able to use miles, despite the fact that it was a long weekend. My flight times weren’t even that bad. With this airline, you still have to pay the taxes and fees for the flights when you book with miles, but I’ll take a $105.90 flight any day over a $800 flight, which is what it probably would have otherwise cost me.

I also only took carry-on luggage with me, so I spent $0.00 on checked baggage fees. I decided it was cheaper to buy sunscreen there than to pay $25 each way to check a bag. I didn’t end up buying any sunscreen though – I just borrowed a friend’s the one time I needed some.

Ground transportation: $224.00

This was the most expensive portion of the trip. The airport I flew into was about 60 miles from the friends’ house who I was staying with for the wedding. The wedding was in another city, though under 10 miles away. I also wanted to visit friends who were in yet another city, almost 80 miles from the first friends’ house. Add in a 10 mile trek back to the airport and the fact that the city where I first stayed isn’t very walkable and I logged close to 200 miles over the course of the weekend.

I priced out two different ways of doing this: one with a rental car and one without. I would have had to take a combination of airport shuttles, cabs, and public transportation adding up to five different modes of transportation and around $200 (I couldn’t price out the cabs) if I didn’t rent a car. When I found a rental car for a shade under $200 plus gas, I booked it. It made things so much simpler and was totally worth the < $30 price difference. I ended up with a pretty sweet car for a rental (I’ve never seen a rental car before with all the bells and whistles!), which was pretty fun. I ended up only spending $26 on fuel, which isn’t bad.

I am very proud of myself for taking public transportation to the airport in my city. I have gotten out of the habit of doing that since I’ve been doing a fair amount of travel for work, where I can expense the cabs to the airport… It was quite a pleasant ride and I got some good reading in. I’ll definitely be doing this more often.

Lodging: free!

I stayed with friends the whole trip, which really helped to keep costs down and is way more fun than staying in a hotel. The wedding hotel wasn’t any closer to the wedding site than my friends’ house and there was no transportation provided from the wedding hotel to the venue, so this didn’t work out that badly. I took a small present for each of the friends I stayed with, which I counted in July’s Groceries spending. Had I stayed in a hotel for the wedding, it would have cost me almost $300 for lodging and I couldn’t find a better deal anywhere.

Cash & Food: $97.75

I track cash withdrawals somewhat while on vacation. Most of it was recategorized into food and I’m pretty sure what I didn’t get receipts for was also food…

For a four day trip covering three different cities, I think that this isn’t bad for food spending.

  • Wednesday night: $6.30 I bought a footlong at Subway to eat on the plane there.
  • Thursday breakfast: $7.67 I was a bit rushed and grabbed a hot chocolate, a muffin, and a scone at the airport. I ate the scone near the end of my flight there as a snack.
  • Friday breakfast: I found some cereal at my friends’ place.
  • Friday lunch: $13.29 Out with a friend!
  • Friday snack: ~$3 milkshake!
  • Friday dinner: at the wedding
  • Friday dessert: ~$4 ice cream!
  • Saturday breakfast: Cereal at my friends’ place again.
  • Saturday lunch: Out with a friend and paid for both of us, using up the last of my cash.
  • Saturday snack: $2.70 out with a friend
  • Saturday dinner: $24.12 out with a bunch of friends
  • Sunday breakfast/snacks: $8.57 super early flight, so I forgot to borrow some food from my friends’ place this time.

Tourism: none

Between all the friends I wanted to see, the wedding, and my incredibly short stay, I didn’t do much else than eat food. Next time I’ll maaaybe do something else than eat food!

TOTAL: $429.06

I still can’t believe I managed to keep this trip this cheap with how many miles I both flew and drove, but I did and I had a ton of fun! Unfortunately my next trip to this city won’t be this cheap since I’ll have to pay for my flights in full, but that’s life! My original budget for this trip before I realized I could use miles to pay for most of my flights and I could stay with friends the whole time was about $1,500 and I honestly wouldn’t have made the trip for this particular wedding at that cost.

Readers, how was your Independence Day long weekend?

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8 thoughts on “Independence Day Long Weekend Mini-Vacation Budget

  1. I had to work my butt off for the Fourth of July weekend. Much needed income since I had taken the previous 2 weeks off. Posts like this from you and other PF bloggers I follow are really hitting me hard. We have been hemorrhaging money like no one’s business. Between my huge concert weekend and my birthday and my wife’s birthday coming up soon, the costs have been probably 5 times what you spent on your vacation. I need to find a way back to the land of Frugality…

    • I hope you got paid overtime at least for working on the Fourth of July? You have to just start somewhere with frugality. I’ve been concentrating on expenses this year and it’s definitely paying off a bit.

  2. Sound like you got to quite a few destinations for just $400! Nice job. Its annoying when you have to rent a car, but its a necessity when you’re doing anything more complicated. It’s funny how public transit can be more expensive…

    • Well technically it was the expense of the airport shuttle to go the first 60 miles that really killed it… This was actually my first trip where I had to rent a car. I’ve avoided it all of the other times I’ve traveled so far! It was a reasonably seamless experience though and I would definitely do it again if it makes more financial sense than the alternative.

  3. Wow thats a lot of saving just on the cost of the ticket alone! But you sure put a lot of miles driving in that weekend, over 200 is a lot but seems like you enjoyed yourself and saved. Nothing like free lodging.

    • Yep, free lodging and almost free flights sure makes a far trip with flying about as expensive as a local trip with lodging!

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