In My Frugal Journey

It’s no secret that I love to travel, I mean LOVE.  I enjoy it even more when I can save a few bucks; I mean who doesn’t love a deal?!  

So, when my honey mentioned making a move next year to a warmer climate and that Texas was number one on his list; I got to searching for a deal.  The locations of our choice:  Houston, Austin and Dallas; the end result: 

5 days, 3 states and 1 tank of gas with this little compact car for $795

Isn’t it cute?!  I thought about upgrading it but it was only the 2 of us and considering the amount of gas I thought we’d be spending visiting 3 states I decided to stick with it; and boy did we make a great decision!  

Our first stop…. HOUSTON!  And can I tell you that from the moment we landed to the moment we drove out of there it smelled like food!  Not just any food; GOOD FOOD!  It was about 2pm, and I knew the perfect place to stop for lunch:  Frenchy’s Chicken!  And man was it delish!  We spent the rest of the day perusing The Woodlands, Downtown, Pearland, League City, Richmond and Sugarland where our hotel was located; would you believe that we were only at a half tank of gas?!  #winning!  We did wrap the day up at Razoo’s and it was definitely another winner, yummy :).  

We woke up; had our Dunkin, filled up to make a full tank ($11!!!) and made our way to Austin, TX.  Believe it or not, Austin was not originally on the list, but I had a friend of mine speak so highly of it that I decided to take the 2 1/2 hour drive out there.  I do not regret it.  Austin is BEAUTIFUL!  A nice mix of my favorite cities – Chicago, Minneapolis, Baltimore – mixed with a lil’ southern charm. LOVED IT!!!  After we spent a significant amount of time enjoying Lake Lady Bird’s trails, taking pics, enjoying some live music and chatting with the locals, we grabbed some bbq (which was surprisingly horrible!) and made our way to North Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park and Leander. Although I loved Austin more than the other 2 Texan cities, I did not like the traffic.  I just cannot understand how a city that has grown so much has not taken the time to expand their expressways.  I mean 2 lanes?!!!!  Unbelievable. 

Our next stop was Dallas.  There was a really bad storm we ran into along the way, never in my life have I had to drive through 6-12 inches of rain on the expressway.  On a side note, I met the old lady living inside of my husband.  This man was driving less than 20 miles an hour when everyone else was driving at least 50.  COME ON MAN!!!! Ha Ha  The “Turnaround Don’t Drown” signs did it; he was shaking like a leaf!  I know flooding happens in Waco, but considering the small amount of water along the expressway I figured we were okay (and we were).

We got to Dallas around 8:30p in the evening, checked into our Aloft hotel and chilled for the night. That morning, we got our Dunkin again and spent the next couple of days exploring the Dallas area – literally from Desoto to McKinney – and loved every minute of it.  I must admit Dallas lacks some of the southern charm I enjoyed in Austin and has a bit of a ‘corporate’ feel to it but the food is really good (can you tell I’m a foodie?).  I loved Hattie’s, Iron Cactus, and a couple other places we went to spontaneously and I didn’t catch the name; Houston and Dallas got 2 thumbs up for food!  I also like how clean Dallas is; from downtown to the northern ‘burbs with companies lined up everywhere!

So… here’s my Fab Frugal Texan Vaca expense breakdown:

Flight:  Spirit had a $34.10 each way special so we flew into Houston for $34.10 and flew back home to Chicago from Dallas for $34.10 per person; cool right?  I’ll admit they’re not my favorite airline but you can’t beat that price.  In addition, they charge for everything, so I left the purse at home, packed light airy clothes that didn’t take up too much space so that it fit in my 16x13x12 carry on (another requirement of theirs if you don’t want to be charged for a carry on), and hit up the local CVS for the other items I needed for the trip. 

Car:  EXPENSIVE!  Since I was dropping off at another airport they charge over $100 for this so we ended up paying $297, still significantly under the $400+ quotes we were getting everywhere else.  We went directly through Thrifty and stuck with the compact car, this included the unlimited tollway pass, pre-paid gas and basic insurance.  I still feel this was a heck of a deal!

Hotels:  I did Priceline’s negotiator for a 3+ star hotel and got Drury Suites, Radisson and Aloft. In total we paid a little under $225 in hotel expenses.  Not bad, right?!  The rest of the money was spent eating out; we kept breakfast cheap since we deny our Dunkin fix while at home, lunch was spent running around so quick fixes there as well, and we splurged on dinner.  All together $108.60 for eating out and $23 for gas!

Another fab frugal friend of mines said I could have gotten this bill even cheaper by going with 2 star hotels and I literally almost vomited in my mouth at the thought of it.  I’m frugal, but I have my limitations honey! lol 

At the end of the day, considering the ‘old’ Netiva could have easily dropped over $1500 during this trip, I was quite proud of myself.  Wanna hear something even better?  None of this money came from a credit card, nor did I have to pull from my current expenses to make this happen.  I simply tapped into my Vacation Fund.  A fund I contribute regularly to on a monthly basis in order to travel when a deal arises; gotta get you one if traveling is your passion!

Next on our list is Atlanta and Raleigh!  Will keep you posted on the deals we find; thinking about Atlanta in July and Raleigh in October, but if you have suggestions, by all means pass them on!

~ Netiva

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