Fall is really here. I had to wear my peacoat this week. The fall is a good time to travel. Flights and hotels tend to be cheaper now that everyone’s finished their summer vacations.

This summer, I look a 4-day trip to New Orleans. At that time, I had just gotten laid off. I didn’t want to cancel my trip because I wanted to just have some fun. I wasn’t completely broke, so I knew I could afford it. As mentioned in a previous post, I bought tickets from Jet Blue which offered a special mystery discount. A round trip ticket ended costing me about $160. But be careful about what time your flights leave. If you leave early in the morning, you would have to take a taxi. If you left in the mid-afternoon, you could take the bus or train to the airport instead. You may think you’re saving money, but you’d be basically putting your money into another mode of transportation getting to and from the airport.

The next biggest expense is lodging. I allotted $200 for 4 nights (my half of a room split between myself and a friend). I checked Hotwire, Priceline, and Hotels.com for deals daily for a week. These sites tend to have deals where they have deeply discounted hotel rooms, but don’t tell you the name of the hotel until after purchase. My friend and I decided to go for an unnamed four star hotel on Hotwire. It ended up being Le Pavilion which was elegant and not too far from the French Quarter. With taxes, it ended up being about $225.

On every trip I take, I allow myself one big splurge. What’s the point of going to some place new if I can’t indulge a bit? For NOLA, it was my friend’s birthday dinner. We ended up going to Commander’s Palace. Each of us had the 3-course prix fixe and 3 drinks between us. The bill with tax and tip came up to $160.

a trio of soups at Commander’s Palace

shrimp and grits at Commander’s Palace

Now onto the saving money part of this adventure. Le Pavilion puts out a peanut butter and jelly sandwiches spread every night at 10 PM. I would make myself a sandwich, grab a piece of fruit, and a bottle of milk, and save these for breakfast the next morning. Not every meal needs to eaten out. My friend and I bought salads at a cafe and brought them back to eat on the hotel’s rooftop. With a bottle of wine, it was the perfect relaxing evening. I’m not a big fan of museums during vacations, so I didn’t spend money on entrance fees. I spent them on beignets instead!

beignets at Cafe DuMonde

Know what you want out of your vacation. What things are most important to you when you’re on a trip? Pick a few to indulge in, and forget the rest.

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I love Fashion Night Out, held on the eve of New York Fashion Week. I saw a drag queen almost trip on 10 inch platforms, hot male models posing for a photo shoot, and all the fashionistas of the city strutting their stuff. But my favorite thing is the freebies. I got some Beautybar.com loot from Scoop NYC and some Pantene shampoo from some girls on the street. That’s in addition to the free champagne, wine, popcorn, pretzels, and Wafels and Dinges. Thanks for dinner!

For those not in the know, NYC Summer Streets is a program in which the streets are closed to cars on Lafayette St./Park Ave. from downtown to midtown a few Saturdays during the summer. Bikers, joggers, and pedestrians take over. It’s basically a zoo. You wonder how it can be so crowded when it stretches over 50 blocks. New Yorkers — well everybody — love anything free.

Last Saturday, I attempted to try the zip line. I arrived at 10:30AM to find all the slots already booked. All 360 slots were filled by 7:45AM according to a sign. There is no pre-booking, so you have to get there at 7AM if you want a spot. I am going to miss out because I am not waking up at 6AM to go into Manhattan for it. The zip line wasn’t that impressive either. There was basically a very tall ladder and you zipped to the ground in 2 seconds. Maybe I was expecting too much. This is Spiderman’s hometown after all. Can’t a girl swing from tall building to tall building?

Then, I saw the line for the free bike rentals. Thirty people long and 2 bikes left. Tomorrow’s the last day. Get there early. People like free shit!

I confess. I am Spiderman.

The new beer hall, Die Koelner Bierhalle, in Park Slope is celebrating their grand opening tomorrow by giving everyone free beer. Guzzle up!

I haven’t posted much lately frankly because I’m lazy, it’s hot, etc. Excuses, excuses. It’s difficult having so much time on my hands. I should split time into 30 minute units like Hugh Grant’s character in About a Boy. Shower – 1 unit. Buying groceries – 2 units. Watching The Bachlorette finale – 6 units (seriously, it was 3 hours).

In today’s post, Chris from the Art of Non-Conformity writes about how to get started on doing big things in our lives and how to define it. Find his article here. The last two big things I did were travel Europe on my own for a month and produce my first short film.

On this blog, I write a lot about eating/cooking cheap food, sneaking into movies, and visiting museums on the cheap. These are fun things (hence the title of this blog), but how do I (and we) build upon our fun and turn it into a significant point in our lives?

I’m writing this on the heels of the Olympics which is only a few days away. Going to the Olympics is a BIG THING. How did those athletes get there? First, there was identification of the goal, and then there were the little things that got them there — waking up at 5 AM to swim laps at the pool before school begins, giving up junk food to fuel the body better, shoot free throws 100 times after practice is over. Now, it’s time to decide on my next big thing.

Ryan Lochte — Olympic swimmer and just because.

No, I’m not talking about McLovin and his drinking-age ID. I’m talking about the more important student ID. See, when we graduate from high school and college, we’re supposed to have money and afford to pay for things full price. This is the new economy where people with PhDs are filling orders at MickeyDs. With a student ID, I can go see Mamma Mia! for $31.50, get a $5 discount to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and catch Moonrise Kingdom at BAM for $9. Oh, to be young again!

Luckily, I kept my college ID and I still resemble that puny, nerd girl that I was. For those still in school, keep those IDs. You’ll never know when they come in handy. For those who burned them after graduation or actually resemble a grown-up and no longer a 21 year old punk, that student ID may be elusive. Find a young friend that you resemble and buy their card off of them. (They can get a new one from school.) If you have the skills, you might be able make your own fake student ID. I don’t know if this is technically illegal, so don’t tell the feds I told you to do this. There should be a black market for this…

…tomorrow that is. And it’s going to be a scorcher here on the East coast with highs in the 90s but feeling like 107. And lucky me, I have no air conditioning in my apartment. Last year, I was able to go to work and stay in a cool office for the hottest parts of the day, but this summer, I’ll have to figure out something else.

Like most older Brooklyn homes, there is no central AC. I am still too cheap to buy an AC unit. That means I save money on the electricity bill, but I will be dying of heat exhaustion. So tomorrow and Thursday, I will need to hit up coffee shops. I can’t stay there for 8 hours because that’s weird (unless it is Starbucks). I’ll  also be doing a combination of sitting on my bottom steps (which is the coolest part of my house) and going to the library (where the AC is free). Because it’ll be so hot, I usually don’t have much of an appetite. So, at least I save money on food! I usually have a diet of popcorn and ice cream. Popcorn has fiber which keeps me full. The ice cream keeps me cool. If ice cream is too costly (and fattening), suck on ice cubes instead. Happy summer!