Two and half years ago, I went to New Orleans for my wife's pharmacy conference. One result of that (other than a hangover or two) was this article about visiting New Orleans on a budget. Last week we had the opportunity to go back... this time for my personal finance blogger conference.
Since I was busy learning new blog stuff, my wife went out and explored New Orleans on her own. Thus, for the fourth time in eight years, she's doing a majority of the work for a blog post on Lazy Man and Money. (For years I called her Energi Gal, but giving that statistic, maybe our roles should be reversed.) She's self-conscious about her writing (she shouldn't be) so I'll be putting her notes into my words.
New Orleans Specific Tips
When I got out of the taxi from the airport, I wanted to give the city a big hug. Coming from New England, the culture is so different and unique to me. I just love it.
Part of that is the food. New Orleans has fantastic food, so you can skip the expensive restaurants. However, if you do want to have an upper-class dining experience, I highly suggest SoBou at 310 Chartres St. in the French Quarter. It is the same food as the Commander's Palace which is a top New Orleans restaurant. Monday through Friday, if you purchase a lunch, you can get 3 martini's for $0.25 each. For the price of one martini at some places ($15), you can get lunch and three slightly smaller martinis. I'll leave it up to you to debate the merits of drinking three martinis at lunch on a weekday.
If you aren't into martinis, you can instead go to Mena's Palace at 200 Chartres Street. The daily special of fried chicken, salad, and red beans and rice for $9.50 can feed two.
Looking to make your drink last? My wife went to Spirits on Bourbon, which was featured on the show Bar Rescue. Their signature drink is The Resurrection. (Is it just me or does the mention of "Resurrection" remind you of the song in Office Space?) This 24 ounces drink is in a souvenir skull-shaped plastic mug that lights up on the bottom. My wife asked for a separate cup of ice and ended up drinking it for 2 hours... that's how potent the drink was. At $15 it isn't the cheapest drink in New Orleans, but refills are cheaper at $9. The mug will be what we use to give out candy on Halloween.
New Orleans is known for its beignets, a tasty treat that is similar to fried dough (or funnel cakes). The place that made them famous is Cafe du Monde. However, the ones from Cafe Beignet are just as good (in my humble opinion) and coupons abound for a coffee and 3 beignets for $4. I made the mistake of asking my wife to bring me back some as I was at the conference. The order was so large it took me three days to finish them.
Our babysitter back home had requested a t-shirt from our visit. Every place you went to had a deal that allowed you to save a few bucks if you buy two... a classic bulk deal. Since my wife and I had all the T-shirt we can ever shake a stick at, the bulk savings was something that we passed on. (By the way, does it strike anyone else as being weird to request a T-shirt from a place that you didn't go to? I feel like getting the shirt is a memento of going to that place... "been there, done that, got the t-shirt", right?)
More General Tips
Like any party town (and New Orleans certainly qualifies), prices are cheaper during the week. There are more specials, because the supply of disposable income (also known as people) is greatly reduced. The competition is fierce. If you get a chance to choose, the weekday is definitely the cheaper way to go.
This won't come as a shock, but sharing is a great way to save. My friend from Stop Buying Crap went last minute. He was able to get a discount ticket from an attendee who couldn't go. He split a hotel room with a friend. He even split a cab from the airport to the hotel.
My wife reminded me that the last time I was in New Orleans I wanted to buy an apartment there. I can't say for sure whether that opinion came before or after a trip to Bourbon St., but I feel it must have been involved in some way. I love the city, and thought that it would be cheap, but upon doing a little Zillowing in the French Quarter, it is certainly not in my budget for an impulse buy. Nonetheless, if you ever get the chance to go to New Orleans take it, you won't be sorry.
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