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Friday, May 25

Recipe for a Frugal Getaway

Burnt out from all work and no play?  Don't want to bust the budget?  Yes, and yes.  We'll have to delve into why I don't find fulfillment in my line of work later.  For now, let's talk medicine.

Travel is my elixir.  It's the escape I need to come back refreshed and ready for more.  But I hate spending tons of money unnecessarily.  We needed a quick, CHEAP getaway.  We decided on Philadelphia.

The Process

For the most part I was location-agnostic.  My needs were straightforward:  fly non-stop on the cheap for a quick, inexpensive trip.  I looked over my emails for deals on the discount airlines, including Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant.  I compared a few cities, including Richmond, Chattanooga and Philadelphia.  For whatever reason, flights to Philly were super-cheap and abundant.  Then I checked the weather to be sure nothing crazy was going on.  Then, before booking, I pulled up Expedia and played around with dates and airports to be sure I got the best deal.  Good thing I did:  flying out of Orlando, 90 miles away, saved us even more.  I settled on Spirit because I've fallen in love with their Big Front Seat.  Sure, it costs extra.  For $47 extra, we will travel in a first-class seat (just on the way there,  on the way back we will sit at the back of the plane).  Total roundtrip for two, including upgrading our seats:  $218.  Can you believe that?  The roundtrip ticket was $50 each (not a typo!).  Upgrading our seats cost more than the flight, but still well worth it.

Free Hotel

I use hotel-branded credit cards, and never intended to pay for our room.  That was part of the game:  sleep for free.  Hotels in Philadelphia tend to be expensive, even on weekends.  I compared Hilton, IHG and Choice Hotels websites and found an incredible deal:  10,000 points/night for a newer Cambria Suites in the heart of Philadelphia.  

Next Steps

Now that we have a flight and hotel, the real fun of planning our trip begins.  Philadelphia is a walk-able city, no need to rent a car.  I'll look into public transportation and rideshare to get around.  Then I'll research activities.  Most of the sites are super inexpensive.  Booking them online in advance saves even more money.  For example, I booked a guided tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary.  Booking online saves $2, plus I googled for a promo code and received another $5 off, which nearly halved the cost of admission.  The only other expense will be our food.  Might look online for deals on that, too.

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