Much in the same way as I am sensible, I am also thrifty. My Amish heritage serves me well when I’m faced with decisions such as, “Should I buy a Lamborghini or an old Corolla for my next ride?” and thrift usually wins out.
So when my friend and I wanted to add a trip to Philly to our fall, but weren’t sure it was sensible, I was ready with my reasons. “Oh, we can do a budget trip,” I said. “It’ll be fun,” I said. “We’ll stay in a tiny Air BnB room, and eat the cheapest meals, and walk everywhere, and we won’t spend much at all.”
So that you can also visit places you don’t think you can fit in, let me give you five easy steps for doing budget trips as seamlessly and efficiently as I do.
One. On your first lovely and cold morning in Philly, wander out your door and find an Italian market nearby, overflowing with good fruits and veggies. You know you are simply visiting and don’t need to stock your fridge with groceries, but you can’t help buying several bags of luscious-looking fruits to eat later that day. Duck into a cheese shop, and the saleslady practically force feeds you tastes of various exotic cheeses. You swoon a little, and order a sliver of the nicest one without thinking to check the price. Turns out, it’s about $30 a pound. Well.
Two. Drive into the old city district, and find street parking impossible. You see a parking lot that looks cheap, and just as you’re pulling past the sign, you realize that it actually costs four times what you thought it said. Ah, well at this point, it’s too late to turn around, so you leave your car with the valet and shell out a hefty fee when you pick it back up.
Three. On the way to Philly, you discuss the fact that you’ll only be a few hours from NYC. Give each other a look, and both know that you’ll simply have to swing up there for part of your time. So on Sunday morning, get up at an ungodly hour, and make your way to the Upper West Side. Gulp a little at the ridiculous tolls (apparently New Yorkers don’t want extra cars in the city, who knew!), and again at the parking, which is cheap for NYC, but still as much as your valet parking from the previous day.
Four. Go grab a cup of coffee and a few croissants in the Upper West Side at a darling little French bakery. When the waitress asks if you want anything else, say, “No, just the coffee and the bread.” Midway through your flaky croissants, the waitress brings out a basket of a variety of bread slices. You look at your partner in crime, wondering if this is their version of chips and salsa, or what is happening. Of course, you can barely eat any of the fancy breads, because you’re full of croissants and cappuccino foam. When you pay, you see that you have been charged $10 for the bread basket you inadvertently seem to have ordered. Ok then. That was some pricey coffee.
Five. After the bread has worn off and church has been attended, after many miles have been walked and your stomachs are growling, opt for lunch at a lovely Italian place you find. You both order gnocchi off the menu, which sets you back $17- about what is to be expected for a sort of affordable Italian place. You are starving by the time the waiter appears with your plates, and when he sets them down in front of you, you glance at each other in astonished amusement. Tiny little pans, about eight inches in diameter, with a one-layer sprinkling of leetle gnocchi covering the bottom of the pans. Eat as slowly as possible, trying to make that $17 worth it, but all too soon the plates are scraped clean. Although you’re shockingly filled for the tiny amount of food it was, of course some Blue Bottle Coffee and bagels to-go from your very favorite spot are also necessary.
And that, my friends, is how to take the very budgety of the budgetest trips to Philly. I’m clearly very good at this, and am considering becoming a financial advisor as a side gig. By the end of the trip, as yet another incident would cause our wallets pain, we just had to laugh and hope for better luck next time.