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.
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.
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.
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.
Related: When Money Matters In A Relationship
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.
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.