Chicago Part 2: How I planned & Kept A Budget

This was my first ever trip to Chicago. I was so excited when I was asked to tag along with a friend to a wedding so I could see this city everyone talks about.

Image may contain: skyscraper, sky, outdoor and water

But then I remembered I had to not only plan but budget what I wanted to spend while there (let’s not chat about the flight out there or the fact that we have a friend out there so a hotel wasn’t needed).

How I planned:

  • Pinterest, honestly that was the first place I went. I wanted to see what everyone else thought were the things to do and the places to eat
  • The Go Chicago card: especially because it was on Groupon so we got it for cheaper than usual. There were three of us so I asked for each to pick one thing (we did the 3 attraction pass) to do. We saved $30 by doing this.
  • Once we had our 3 things, I mapped them out, found some of the foodie places I wanted to go to and mapped those as well (luckily my boyfriend did the navigating once there)
  • I broke everything out by chunks in order for me to determine what days and times to do things but to also not cram too much into one day

How I stayed on a budget

Sometimes it’s really hard to stay on a budget when you’re on vacation, especially when it requires a lot of travel. There is only so much one can do to get cheap flights and hotels but after that, it should be a breeze to budget everything else.

One way I “save” is by taking cash I had left over from other adventures. I keep that stashed away for future use, that way when the time comes, I already have some money. We also use things such as Groupon or a card like the Go city card (In this case both). Another thing I tried NOT to do is use my credit or debit card, by doing that you aren’t really paying attention to how much you are spending. Cash helps you keep track and stay on a budget more, and that leads me into my next advice….

But the big thing I do is I don’t take all my money with me everyday. Instead I make a plan — okay, I’ll take $$ with me today and leave the rest at the house or hotel. This helps in a few ways:

  • I can’t spend everything at once
  • I don’t have to worry about losing any money while I’m out

This is something new I started doing ever since we went to Costa Rica and it has really helped me not splurge. Sure maybe I come home with a souvenir but only one AND one that fits into my budget. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized pictures are way more important than things.

Anyway, here’s how I did.

Total budget (excluding hotel/flight etc) : $300

Transportation (bus and/or train): $35.35

Food and drink: $89.50

Souvenirs: $36.00

Attractions: $109.00

Money left over: $30.15

It might not be a lot of savings, but it’s still a savings and it will be used toward my next adventure in October. How do you guys budget for trips? What about planning? Do you use Pinterest as well? Do you have other budgeting ideas to help?

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