Sunday, November 10, 2013

Girls Weekend Trip

Where did October go?  My apologies for falling off the blogging train (I have at least two readers, since that's how many friends mentioned to me that they missed my posts - thanks friends!).  October was a great month, but a busy one with two travel weekends, a close friend's wedding, and a birthday celebration.

Through all of these trips and events, I didn't deprive myself, but I made deliberate decisions to make sure my finances didn't take a huge hit.  The point of this blog is to explain how I'm able to live comfortably and happily within my means on a not huge salary and how everyone can do the same.

My best friend from growing up is super woman.  She works full time, is an amazing mom to three, keeps her house spotless, and managed to get in great shape on top of all of this.  Needless to say, there's some stress that comes with that schedule.  Both of us were feeling this summer like we could really use a mini life break, and we live across the country from each other now and don't get to see each other as much as we would like, so we booked a weekend trip to Columbus, Ohio on somewhat of a whim. 

Since we've both gotten into running these past few years (hilarious because we were the ones in gym class who thought running the mile was cruel and unusual punishment), and decided to do the Run Like a Girl 10k in Columbus.  Other than that, we pretty much had no plans.

We had such a great weekend, and it was exactly what we needed.  We stayed up late Friday night after getting in just talking sleepover style instead of forcing ourselves to go to sleep like responsible adults.  Saturday we ran the race (and my friend had a 10k PR!), did a little shopping, and then ended up hanging out in the hotel room eating pizza (we discovered Donatos, which was amazing) and having a few drinks.  It was seriously one of the best weekends ever.

Run Like a Girl 10k - Great, well run new race with a sparkly medal and other great giveaways.

How did we keep this trip reasonable from a cost perspective?
1. Used hotel points for the room
Tip - register for the rewards program any time you stay in a hotel or fly on an airplane.  They add up.  Consider getting a credit or debit card that gives you hotel points or miles (my credit card is linked to my favorite hotel chain).
2. Saved a little with a promo code for a discount on the race registration fee.
Tip - when there is a promo code box, take a minute to search for a code.  Usually, it pays off, and it feels like such a win when it does.
3. Remembered what was important to us.  Our goal was just to spend time together, just us, relaxing so that was the focus.  The first night when we got in, we ate at Wendy's, and basically closed out the place.  That was all that was right by our hotel, but we enjoyed the experience as much as if we would have found a real restaurant (no offense, Wendy's - we love you!).  We took time to see Columbus, and listened to friend recommendations and hit up Jeni's for ice cream on our last day - totally worth the trip, and totally had ice cream for lunch:)
Tip - just because you're traveling doesn't have to mean going out to expensive meals all of the time.  Make a big expense deliberate, even when you're traveling. 
4. Always had deals handy. We ended up having lunch at TGI Fridays for lunch on Saturday, and I realized I had credit through their Give me More Stripes Rewards Program which I joined in college, and rarely use.  We saved $8 on our lunch!
Tip - when possible keep your deals loaded through apps on your phone so they're always available.
5. Timing is everything. We considered going to the casino there on Saturday night, but because a round trip cab was going to be very pricey we decided to just stop by to see it on Sunday, when we could drive ourselves because we wouldn't be drinking at the casino.
Tip - keep in mind that you can adjust your schedule to do everything you want, and a few adjustments can mean big savings.

The icing on the cake?  When I checked in at the airport for my return flight, it was overbooked.  I immediately went to the gate agent once I got through security to see if they needed volunteers and what the new itinerary would be, and I was routed on different flights, getting me in earlier than my original flight schedule, and a $150 flight voucher richer:)  It's always worth asking what the option for volunteers is when a flight is overbooked.  I did get especially lucky on that one though.

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