Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lessons from a Long Ago Vacation

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Remember how I went on vacation to NYC and DC last May and never blogged about it?  Well, you're in luck because I'm not going to go back and blog all about it but I did want to share some fun lessons I learned while on our trip...

1.  Save Money Where You Can - In DC Nate and I only bought dinner out.  We had leftovers, sandwiches, fruit, etc for lunches and yogurt and bagels for breakfast.  This kept our costs down quite a bit!  It wasn't as easy to do this in NYC but we still were careful about how much money we spent on at least two of the meals every day.

2.  Sometimes It's Fun to be in a "Sketchy" Neighborhood - The house we stayed at (via AirBandB) in New York was out in far Brooklyn (yet another way we saved TONS of money).  It was pretty much exactly the environment I think of when I think of Brooklyn.  Many of the neighbors were former or current gang members, the Subway station about a block away was pretty gross, and the streets were lined with garbage.  That being said, Nate and I both felt completely safe the whole time we stayed there.  I played double dutch with some gang members' daughters as their dads joined in on the fun and heckled us for not being very good, Nate got to know the employees at the corner store since he stopped there every morning for coffee and bagels for the two of us (letting his exhausted pregnant wife sleep in) and they were bummed when he told them we were heading home, we had conversations with all sorts of people - Jamaican immigrants, a former gang member, New York housewives, etc as we walked up and down the street every day.  Some of those interactions were some of my favorite parts of our trip.

3.  Know When It's Worth it to Splurge - I hate spending money.  I'm thrifty, love finding bargains, and DON'T LIKE SPENDING MONEY!  On the other side of things, though, I LOVE the theater.  Nate and I had decided on a budget per day for our trip and we stayed well under it the whole time we travelled.  We knew we wanted to see some shows while in New York so went down to Times Square to get half off tickets.  Even with the half off tickets, most of the shows were expensive!  The first go-round we go off Broadway tickets to Avenue Q.  Since that was off Broadway, we decided to go later that week to see The Phantom of the Opera.  I figured we'd be done seeing plays at that point but Nate insisted we splurge and see Les Miserables the last weekend of our trip.  It was SO hard for me to be willing to spend that money, even knowing how much I LOVE Les Mis and how much of our budget hadn't been spent yet.  I'm thankful my hubby is a little more willing to spend and it was TOTALLY worth it to see the show.

4.  Talk to Strangers - I'm a fan of Glee so I knew I needed to track down the diner that inspired the diner the characters worked at.  I mean, really, a diner where the waiters get up on the tables and sing???  Count me in!  We got to The Stardust and, of course, there was a line down the street.  Every so often someone would come out and say what size party they could seat.  Most people in line were parties of two, like us, so we knew we were in for a long wait.  We had been chatting with the couple behind us for a while and realized that we would be next in line for a party of four if we all decided to sit with one another.  Party of four we became.  It was so fun to enjoy dinner with this random couple from Alberta, Canada who were in NYC celebrating the wife's 40th birthday.  Really, it made my night!

5.  Sometimes the Experience is Worth it even if it's Slightly Miserable - Another way that Nate and I found to save money was to buy New York City passes.  For however many days you buy, it allows you to go to 80 different landmarks, tours, sights, etc.  As many as you can fit into the days you purchase is what you can do.  These passes freed us up to go see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, a tour of the Rockefeller Center, a tour of Broadway, the Empire State building, a tour of Carnegie Hall, and SO MUCH MORE!  Even though it was wonderful to be able to do that, some of the circumstances surrounding the sights were less than pleasant.  The ferry ride out to The Statue of Liberty made my 10 week pregnant belly extremely nauseous.  The day we took the tour of Broadway it POURED and the whole tour was outside (it ended up being our favorite thing that we did with our passes even though we were DRENCHED by the time it was done).  We waited in line for two hours to finally get up to the Empire State Building and once we were at the top it was so crowded we really couldn't enjoy it.  Even with all those negatives we were so thankful we had the experiences we had and got to see and do so much!

I learned so many other lessons on our trip and will remember it forever!  I wish everyday was vacation!

Have you ever been to NYC or DC?
What are some lessons you've learned on vacation?

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