Although, I still cannot fathom spending $1200 in a 5-day period. This was the first time that I had an “adult” vacation. I have taken two trips to Europe and several short, 3-5 day trips to visit friends. However, this was the first time I actually had to sleep in a hotel (as opposed to couches or hostels) and pay for my flight and transportation (as opposed to having it paid for to chaperone high schoolers). I had to pay for it all, though I still tried to keep frugal along the way.
Despite the shock of the final price tag, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It might have literally been the time of my life. All my best college friends met up in Denver and we celebrated in grand style. Four nights in Denver and a night in Utah can be a little expensive, but I think I found ways to keep costs down.
Running down the expenses:
Flight – $207.78
This was the first expense for my trip to Denver. I purchased my flight way back in February through Spirit. Not bad at all for a two-way trip! This was my first experience with Spirit since I was a kid and it got the job done.
Suit – $215.00 + $65.72 (alterations)
This one speaks for itself. I was in the wedding and we went with a buy-one-get-one deal at Men’s Warehouse instead of renting tuxes. The suit was something like $450 regular price. The shirt is something like $80 regularly, and the tie is probably pretty expensive too. So, while it was a tough pill to swallow at the time, I’m pretty happy that I was able to get that whole ensemble for less than $300.
Hotel, Downtown Denver – $136.11
Perhaps my biggest savings, for the first two nights I split a hotel room with a friend of a friend also looking to split a room. The third night of the trip I was able to snag a room for free! Someone had a bed in their room not being used and offered to let me stay. What was going to be a $122 cost got suddenly dropped to $0.
Hotel, Denver Outskirts – $94.80
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to luck into another free night. I grabbed a hotel outside of downtown to save a little bit of money, but unfortunately not as much as I hoped.
Wedding Gift – $50
Food and Boozin’ – $298.74
Sigh. Higher than I had hoped. There turned out to be a few dinner get-togethers that I had anticipated finding more budget-oriented meal locations for, which didn’t help. Really, it was two nights that hit me hard. First, following the wedding reception we hit up Coyote Ugly. Classy, right?! It was fun (not nearly as fun as the reception) and not at all the image you probably think of when Coyote Ugly is mentioned. I made an amateur mistake when I bought a round of shots – I didn’t specify the grade of the booze. I may not have been in the most stable state of mind. Or I may have been used to spending $3 a shot, living in a college town. Either way, the bill for 7 shots came to $56. Ugh. The next morning I found a receipt for 7 Grey Goose shots in my pocket. Ah. I guess it helped prevent a dirty-liquor hangover?!
The following night was another big night out on the town and even though some friends picked up a round for me after I grabbed them an $8 shot the night before, I still wound up dropping $55+ on dinner and drinks for the night. Otherwise, it was minor fast food and snacks in Denver and on my road trip to Utah.
Perhaps the best part of this section is that since I was in the wedding, I got free dinner and drinks at the rehearsal. Which was in the Denver Bronco’s Mile High Stadium. Too cool.
Road Trip to Utah – $67.55 (car rental) + $84.81 (gasoline)
I extended my trip a day longer than all of my friends were in town. Ah, the luxuries of not having to get back to work on Monday. I decided I would rent a car and visit one of the many national parks close to Denver. Arches National Park it was. The former cost above was the price tag on a Chevy Cruze from Avis while the latter cost was the gasoline. Arches is about a 6 hour drive from Denver. I made the round trip and visited Arches in just under 24 hours. “How?” you say. I drove the night, arriving at the park at about 2am. I slept for a restless 3 hours before waking up to see the sunrise.
This is the kind of thing, to me, that is totally worth driving 12 hours and sleeping just 3 hours in a 24-hour span. I was lucky that nothing went wrong with the car and I ran into no major traffic issues, allowing me to keep the rental under 1 day. Arches National Park was amazing. I was only there for about 4 hours, unfortunately, and saw just half of the park. But what I saw was worth it all.
There you have it. Vacation 2013. More expensive than I had hoped, but it is not often that one of your best friends gets married and all your college friends meet up in a city like Denver to celebrate for 3 or 4 days. As for the hit on the budget? I don’t care. These are the kind of expenses I will never look back on and say “why did you throw that money away.” I ran down how I paid for the miscellaneous food and drinks, but the rest came out of my summer additional income pot. While I won’t be able to put that money towards my loans as additional payments, I also won’t be missing any loan payments, so the plan goes on unhindered!