I need a vacation. It’s not because of work though. I want to get away from my general blah feeling and I really, really miss my Pug. We recently decided to take two vacations with a couple of our friends by the end of the summer. So, how do you afford a 5 day trip to New Orleans and a 7 day cruise within the same 3 weeks? By stretching your money AND by making more of it than originally intentioned…
New Orleans Deals
For New Orleans, I found a Best Western with great reviews by looking at Hotels.com and Expedia.com. The hotel is about 20 minutes out of downtown and has free parking, free breakfast, free wifi, etc. for $81 total a night thanks to a $10 per night discount through AAA, and we’re sharing the room for the 4 nights with the other couple. So, our accommodations will be $81 total per person for Monday-Friday. 🙂 Yeah, it’s not a French Quarter masterpiece, but it’s also not $175 a night with $30 per day parking.
As for what we plan to do while we are there, have you heard of the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium, Butterfly exhibit, and Imax theater? Mr. BFS and I had gone to the aquarium and zoo in 2004 and I really wanted to go back. Our friend had been to the Butterfly exhibit/Insectarium before and wanted to go back. I found out that you can buy a ticket to all 4 major things for $39.50 per person with the Audubon Experience Package! You get to visit everything once within a 30 day period. Best $40 ticket that I can think of for things we wanted to return to anyway!
We’re also planning on going to a couple of free farmer’s markets, and we’ll be paying about $30 a person to attend a cooking demonstration / comedy show / lunch sort of thing at the New Orleans School of Cooking. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Overall, it looks like our total costs with gasoline (taking the Prius), food, and everything will be around $500-$600 total for us as a couple. In my opinion, that’s a bargain for a 5 day getaway with fun friends.
Taking a cruise while school isn’t in session usually means paying about 50% more for tickets (like $1000 per ticket instead of $650). But the friends that we wanted to “drag” along are both teachers, so cruising during the peak periods was unavoidable. BUT, I was emailed a deal from Carnival Cruises that ended up working out really well for all of us. Each couple will have their own interior room on a 7 day cruise for $765 per person. The lowest we’ve ever paid for the same deal before was during school for $550 per person and we shared the room.
As for other expenses, we’ll be paying $95 for trip insurance, and probably will need to set aside $500-ish more for excursions, tips, and spending on board. So we are looking at about $2200-$2500 total for the two of us for the 7 days.
This was an unexpected expense and we have not planned for it. But the opportunity sounded too fun to pass up!
My Pet Sitting Schedule
That said, with our online business doing okay but not amazingly spectacular (slower year than normal and the summer is always slower anyway), we are looking at other ways to bring in some extra cash so we won’t be eating into any savings at all for fun. My main method is going to be pet sitting since I enjoy it. But to make money with a service business, you have to give up time. That said, my upcoming pet sitting schedule looks INSANE to any outsider.
- I’m working overnight at other people’s homes for 19 of the next 31 days. Yay for being able to work online from anywhere!
- I have 4 more days of jobs lined up too – that’s in addition to the 19 days mentioned above.
- It is possible (I’d put my chances at 60%) that I’ll be getting a 30-60 day gig that starts June 14 and they already know the dates that I’m not going to be available in July and August.
- Overall, that means that I will be bringing in about $1200 in the next 30 days, and another $1500-$2500 is possible in the 30-60 days after that.
And all of that is just what I have in the works as of right now. Calls come in randomly and usually in bunches. It helps that holidays like summer vacation are definitely when pet sitters get overwhelmed.
Not My Long Term Schedule
I know myself. Having a super busy schedule like this for a month or two will be fine. In fact, I will probably flourish in my online work and with relationships during the same time since I seem to operate better when I am busy in spurts. But I will also want to scale back significantly after August. Thankfully, pet sitting will die down naturally as kids go back to school and routines become normal again, so my crazy schedule will be auto-regulated. 🙂 This may end up being the perfect, ongoing hobby job for me. It would be the first time I keep a hobby job for more than a few months that I don’t try to turn into a full time job, LOL.
I am giving up significant time to get the padding that makes me comfortable with taking $3000 of vacations within the same 3 week period. It’s worth it to me. What sort of trade offs are worth it to you?
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 a year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, a rental home, and professional pet sitting. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. This all gives me the time to be with my aging family members, the flexibility to stay close with my friends and family, and it should help if we finally get pregnant too! Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!