Now that Mardi Gras has come and gone, and I’ve tallied up the credit card charges, I can fully reflect on my southern vacation. The entire vacation spanned eight nights, and it was an excellent break. No housework, no pets to feed, no freelance work to do. Just what I needed.
We left our apartment on a Thursday afternoon. Our flight was due to depart the Halifax airport at 5:30 on Friday morning and my husband came up with the idea to stay at the airport hotel overnight. As it turns out, you can park your car for up to two weeks at the airport hotel, provided you stay overnight. The cost to stay at the hotel was only about $20 more than the cost to park our car at the park n fly, so we decided to splurge and enjoy a good night’s sleep without worrying about making the 20-minute drive to the airport in the wee hours of the morning. Instead, we caught the hotel shuttle. Staying at a hotel the night before our flight cost about $100.
Flying to Mardi Gras
The flights were uneventful. We flew out of Halifax and had a connection in Toronto. There we met my husband’s sister and her husband, who were coming from Moncton. We traveled together to New Orleans and arrived around noon. We had booked our flights almost a year before for about $1,200. From there we shared a cab to our accommodations.
Staying Outside of the French Quarter to Save Money
I might not have mentioned it, but I went to Mardi Gras with all of my husband’s siblings and his father and stepmother. That made us a group of 10. Finding accommodations for a group of ten was challenging. We didn’t want a hotel, because those were extremely expensive during Mardi Gras week, compounded by the fact that most of them are in the expensive French Quarter. We ended up renting an enormous old home in the Faubourg Marigny neighbourhood for about $1,080 per couple. The minimum rental period was seven days, but only my husband and I and one other couple stayed the whole seven days.
The house and the neighbourhood were both good choices. There are always tradeoffs related to noise when saying with a group that big, and the house was 200 years old and had all of the problems old houses do. But the architecture was beautiful, the kitchen was big and perfect for cooking at home, and the neighbourhood, while just a ten-minute walk to the edge of the French Quarter, was quiet enough to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
We spent the first few days in New Orleans walking, eating, listening to music and drinking. We visited Jackson Square, the waterfront, spent time on Royal Street and, of course, Bourbon. My husband and I rode the cable car to the World War II museum, which was very impressive, but not cheap.
Of course, the reason we were there was to attend Mardi Gras, and when that day arrived the excitement was palpable. My husband and I both bought full costumes for the occasion, which set us back about $85. Fortunately, we’ll both be able to wear them again for Halloween!
Mardi Gras on a Budget
Besides our hotel and flights, we also budgeted for daily spending money for this trip. We knew it was going to be the type of trip where the money would fly out of our wallets (the food, the drinks, the music!) so we budgeted generously. We brought about $700 USD with us on this trip and put most of our more expensive meals on our credit card.
After all was said and done we spent about $4,500 on this little trip of ours. It wasn’t cheap, but it was entirely worth it. To attend Mardi Gras was a bucket list item, and to attend it with my favourite people was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I don’t regret it!
That said, this was our only major trip for 2015 and 2016, so there will be lots of time to build up our travel fund, which is sadly very depleted at this point. We won’t be going anywhere for awhile, which is fine by me because I still feel like I need a vacation from my vacation.
When was your last “big” vacation? How much did you spend? I want to know!