Hubby Decided Not To Be Cheap – Our $1,400 YOLO Trip

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In early November, I published a post asking you all whether Mr. FAF, my hubby, was being cheap or frugal in wanting to drive almost 22 hours over 4 days to save money.

Some of you mentioned that he might have been too frugal.

And some of you were just straightforward in pointing out that Mr. FAF was being cheap.

Before writing the post, I was leaning towards the second opinion but didn’t want to sound judgmental.

After having my belief somewhat supported, I had a light-hearted chat with Mr. FAF.

He then had a change of heart and decided to buy four plane tickets for my mother-in-law (MIL), Baby FAF, and us.

My wish finally came true (partly thanks to you guys)! We flew to another city on a family vacation.

To complete our travel story, today I will share with you the highlights of our trip.

There were a lot of ups and downs. But overall, it was a great experience for all of us.

The plan

Mr. FAF was in charge of planning for the trip. He purchased the tickets, booked the hotels, and decided where we would have lunch and dinner.

I packed our clothes and other necessities.

I asked Mr. FAF what our budget was for the trip. Mr. FAF said there was no budget.

Instead of always worrying about saving money, this time our motto was YOLO (aka buying whatever we wanted and no cooking).

I initially wanted to rent an AirBnB, but Mr. FAF didn’t find any good one in the area. We also didn’t plan to cook.

He ended up booking a room with double beds for three nights at a three-star hotel through Hotwire. We did’t know what the hotel was until after we had paid. He got a good deal for $63/night.

It was a step up in accommodation for us since we used to stay at Motel 6, Super 8, and some cheap sketchy motels.

We drove our car to the airport in DC and rented a car in the other city to get around.

We had no specific plan for the trip. We would just go with the flow and try to relax instead of squeezing a series of events onto our agenda.

The only thing we knew we didn’t want to miss was Mr. FAF’s graduation ceremony since it was the reason why we traveled in the first place.

The final expenses

The night after the trip, I told Mr. FAF to give me all of the receipts and emailed me all the electronic confirmations, which he did.

To my surprise, Mr. FAF got super excited about tallying up all the expenses. Both of us then sat comfortably on our bed each with our own laptops to compare and add up the numbers.

On our way home from the DC airport, Mr. FAF estimated that we had spent $1,400 on the trip while my guess was $2,000. We were curious which one of us was correct.

And the verdict is out: We ended up spending $1,427.86 on the trip. Mr. FAF was so close with his guess.

Below is a breakdown of our expenses:


The trip helped us create so many great memories and brought us a lot of fun. Below are some of the highlights:

1. A break from routines

Prior to the trip, sometimes I felt like my mind and body were going numb from all the routines I went through every day.

Don’t get me wrong. I love stability, but sometimes doing the same things day in and day out can be so mind-numbing.

I was anxiously waiting for the trip to start. At least I could get a breath of fresh air and take a much needed break from work.

When the day came, I was happily sitting at the airport waiting to be boarded. I said good-bye to DC in excitement.

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2. Bring our family together

It was our first time traveling for days with our son. The trip was special to us since our son had spent a year away from us.

We got to take Baby FAF to tourist attractions in the city and took a lot of pictures with him.

Mr. FAF and I also took him and my MIL to the places where we first met (a grocery store), where Mr. FAF and I used to go to school, the apartment complexes where we used to live, and where Mr. FAF said those three words (*wink*). It was like a tour to our family’s “historical” sites.

The trip was also my MIL’s first time traveling in the US.

Birthday cake for my MIL’s 63rd birthday

She got to go sightseeing, take lots of pictures, and spend more time with us before going back to China early next year.

We threw a 63th birthday party for my MIL at the hotel. We got a $20 cake and spent about $4 on number candles and a lighter.

We plan to use the 3 and 6 candles again for Mr. FAF’s 36th birthday party (if he has one) and the 3 candle for Baby FAF’s 3rd birthday.

It’d be such a waste to throw away those beautiful candles that barely burned before being blown out.

3. Connecting with old friends

Mr. FAF just came to DC to live permanently in August, so he still has a lot of (or some) friends in his old city. They were happy for Mr. FAF’s new job and our family reunion.

We treated four of Mr. FAF’s friends to dinner and spent $110. It was also a parting gift from us. We probably won’t see them again for a very long time.


Some of the dishes at our dinner with friends: seafood soup and fried chicken

It is also a tradition in China and Vietnam that whenever you have good news (i.e. new jobs, weddings, graduation), you are expected to throw a party to celebrate, so that’s exactly what we did. We are in America, but we still follow many Asian cultural traditions we deem to be positive.

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4. Feeling grateful for our current life

Visiting the city where I used to live before DC brought back a lot of memories. That’s the place where Mr. FAF and I first met, decided to enter into a long-distance relationship, and got our marriage license. That’s the city with a special place in our hearts.

Washington DC: our new home

However, it’s also where I went through the most tumultuous period of my life before dropping out of a PhD program to come to DC.

The city saw some of the darkest moments of my life which I don’t want to think about but will never forget.

I saw fragments of my life in almost every single place that we went to.

Overall, the trip made me feel so grateful that we now have established a new life in DC. Mr. FAF also mentioned wanting to move back in the future.

But since the school systems there aren’t so great, we believe that we might very likely settle down in the DC area where the public school system is among the best in the country.

YOLO or not YOLO?

Our motto before the trip was YOLO: You only live once. We rarely go on trips and wanted to fully enjoy ourselves without worrying about money.

However, we found the opposite to be true. We took money into account whenever we made a decision.

Instead of dining at steak houses and fancy restaurants, we went to a food court at a Chinese grocery store where we enjoyed our meals next to the raw veggies and meat displayed for sale.

Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for expensive city tours, we paid $3 for three $1 round-trip tickets for our family to see the city on a shuttle.

And instead of buying a brand-new fancy camera for the occasion, Mr. FAF borrowed a professional from his friend to take photos at his graduation ceremony.

Of course, the trip wasn’t perfect, and I will write about the reasons why in the next post. Overall, however, we had a great time, and I’m not sure if we would be much happier if we had gone for more expensive options.


The Pros & Cons Of Living With In-laws

Why I Was Mad About My Husband’s $300 Gift

Interview With Mr. FAF – Husband Of A Personal Finance Blogger

How To Save On Food While Traveling

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27 thoughts on “Hubby Decided Not To Be Cheap – Our $1,400 YOLO Trip”

  • While it can be great to find frugal ways to do things, I think it is also important to make sure frugality is aiding life… not detracting from it. It sounds like you found a really good balance for this trip! Sure, it wasn’t the MOST frugal… but it still was not crazy expensive and you truly enjoyed your time together as a family. That’s a “win” in my book! 🙂

  • Ewww sooo sappy! ?

    I’m glad that you enjoyed your trip! When it comes to spending it’s all about maintaining a balance, just like Mrs. AR rightly put.

    Now your husband can hopefully realise that you can have a high quality trip without paying through the nose for it too!

  • Sounds like a good trip! It’s important to “splurge” a little every once in a while.

    Plus Mr. FAF found some nice deals – $400 airfare for 4 people round-trip is incredible. Sometimes you pay that much for one person. Assuming you were going to drive somewhere for 22 hours, that’s probably a 2-4 flight depending on your speed and how how many stops you make, etc.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you, Mike! I was surprised at the price too! $80 for a round trip ticket is not bad at all. We flew Spirit, and the flight wasn’t delayed or anything, so it all worked out 😀

    • I know! It’s so expensive I was speechless for a couple of seconds. Sigh. We tried to find cheaper ways to make it work, but it was our only option besides not walking at all @_@

  • $80 flights?!! WHAT!! That’s cray. I need Mr. FAF to find all of my flights. As someone who is not above a long road trip to avoid high airfare, I have to say that 22 hours is a whole nother level. At that point after gas, tolls, and general wear and tear on the car it might actually be cheaper to fly.

    Congrats to Mr. FAF on graduation. That is a great accomplishment. And I’m tickled imagining your meet cute with Mr. FAF in a grocery store. So it’s true that love can be found in the produce section.

    • Thank you! We flew Spirit, and their plane tickets are definitely much cheaper than other airlines’. The grocery store can be a cupid hehe. 😉

  • Great job on flying instead of driving. That’s a lot of time on the road.
    I think it’s okay to spend money on vacation. You only go on vacation once or twice per year and everyone needs a little down time. Anyway, your vacation wasn’t too expensive at all.

    • I’m glad you think that our vacation wasn’t expensive. 😀 I was a bit worried we might have overspent hehe.

    • Thank you, Luxe! 😀 The cap and gown were definitely more expensive than what we were willing to pay. Good thing we won’t have to do it again 😀

  • Although I’m more of a “You live every day and only die once” gal myself (YLEDAODO isn’t that catchy though…) I’m glad to see you had a great trip and didn’t break the bank while doing so. I’d say an $80 flight is a pretty good return on investment considering the time it would have taken you to drive there!

  • Sounds like you got a lot of value for your dollar on this trip! I did my own YOLO trip this summer and crossed America by train. I had never been west of Wisconsin or seen a desert and it was something I really wanted- so I splurged! YOLO is a great motto to have for a single day, or a single week… it’s only when people start YOLOing financially every day of the year that it becomes a problem. I’m glad you enjoyed the trip!

    • I’m glad you had a great YOLO trip this summer. I feel like we all need one at least once in our life hehe.

  • I love this idea and as another personal finance blogger, I can attest to the fact that sometimes a YOLO trip is worth it and needed. We took a trip to Banff, Canada and spent around 3K. While that’s a lot of money, we made so many amazing memories. I think a big trip every 2 or three years is a good mix. Totally up to your financial goals at the time. Great article!

  • Love this post and your blog! So happy to have discovered you! While I am not “new” to blogging, I AM new to the personal finance realm of blogging to which I have just started to incorporate on my own personal blog ( SO incredibly amazing to not just meet other female bloggers but Asian ones as well! I love learning from this community. Thank you for sharing!

  • Love this! You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have an incredible trip. I always hear people saying how they wish they could afford to travel more, but they never want to change their mindset on travel. It’s always has to be an exotic location with a lot of tours and dinners. But if you would just try to live like a local, traveling is completely doable.

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