Here's a run down on the rest of our trip to Chicago...and a picture of a bear at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Day 4 (Thursday): $29.46 spent
- I did have to do some work during the trip, so most of today was spent in conference sessions. Generally at these events, they load us up with food. Breakfast was free!
- A plate lunch was offered which would have been free but I wanted to eat lunch with hubby so we went across the river from our hotel to what looked like a hole in the wall restaurant and found what was actually a huge food court. I had some luscious Mediterranean food at the Olive Mediterranean Grill and hubby had Popeye's chicken. Cost for both of us was $11.45.
- I grabbed a bag of donut holes at Dunkin Donuts on the way back to the conference at a cost of $1.10 (the guy at the counter remembered me and he actually gave me double the amount that I was supposed to receive!).
- Our CTA pass was going to expire this afternoon so we hopped on the L and took a run over to the Chicago Public Library. This is a beautiful, huge library with interesting architecture and, of course, lots to read at a cost of FREE.
- Dinner was some amazingly heart-attack-on-a-plate delicious soul food at Ronny's Original Chicago Steak House which was a few blocks from our hotel. I had kind of given up getting any sort of soul food because I thought we would have to go to the South side of Chicago and we just didn't have time. Fortunately we looked into this cafeteria-style restaurant, saw that it was packed with people, and, following our cardinal rule of restaurant finding, decided to go in. The food was great! Cost for two was a mere $10.24 (including a T bone steak dinner for hubby!).
- After a very big meal, we decided to get some exercise by walking around the downtown area. They have just about every type of store you could ever want to find here! We did a lot of window shopping and I had to gush over the Jimmy Choo shoes and some beautiful Louboutin heels (Nordstrons has the most AMAZING shoe section) but at nearly $900 per pair...well I didn't actually buy anything because paying off our debt is way more important than a pair of shoes (the opposite of what I would have though just a few short years ago).
- We picked up some more steamed buns at WowBao for a late night snack for $6.67.
Day 5 (Friday): $38.20 spent
- On our final day in Chicago I had breakfast free at the conference then cut out early to make our flight back home.
- We picked up a six-pack of WowBaos to take with us to eat on the plane later at a cost of $9.65.
- Since our metro pass was expired, we paid the one way fare to O'Hare which cost $4.50 for both of us. We got to the airport and found that not only was the flight later than I thought (um, remind me to actually check the tickets instead of trying to remember a reservation I made months ago), and that the flight was out of a DIFFERENT AIRPORT! As panic set in I considered our options...changing our tickets to fly out of O'Hare instead of Midway would cost $500(!)...um, no. A taxi would cost about $45. We decided to race across town...well race as fast as the "L" would go...in order to get to the Midway Airport.
- So we paid another fare of $5 for both of us to ride the "L" back into the city then transfer to another train to take us Midway. Fortunately we arrived with time to spare.
- Our plane was delayed for over an hour and a half so we missed our connecting flight. Fortunately we were able to catch a flight that left a couple hours later.
- Hubby had a hot dog at the airport for $5...which seems like a lot for a hot dog. Which is why we almost always pack food with us when we travel on airplanes. But we didn't plan to be traveling for nearly 10 hours.
We made it back home and I am happy to report that the total we spent for the entire five day trip was $195.84!! Over one hundred dollars less than we planned to spend!!
Actually holding to a tight budget for a vacation was something I had never really considered (we usually just spend then sort out the bills later). Thanks to the idea inspired by Young Mogul, hubby said this was one of the best vacations he had been on because we were continually challenging ourselves to find interesting free things to do, decent food at rock bottom prices, and we were more open to random inspirations (like giving our leftovers that we might otherwise have thrown away to the homeless guy that sits on the Dearborn Street bridge every morning...like following groups of school kids around the zoo and being more amused by them than the animals...like looking at contemporary art when we don't even like contemporary art but it was free entertainment). We saved lots of money (hmm...the $355 per diem check will way more than cover our expenses), spent cash only, and were entertained in ways that were heavy on the "fun and adventure" and light on the spending. Most of the people that I knew at the conference must have spent well over $2000 each...they went shopping daily, went to a game at Wrigley Field, did a dinner cruise, and and hit all of the hot bars in the city. Hubby asked if I missed that sort of thing which is something we would have joined in with a few years ago, but I really didn't. Either did he.