What’s up y’alllll. Yeah that’s been my reality for the last four days. You hear it on TV but I didn’t think southern people would actually say y’all as much as they do. Anyway, I’m back with another spending diary of our 5-stop America trip, this time covering our three night stay in New Orleans, Louisiana.
A little bit of info around the budget we chose and why is at the intro to my Chicago spending diary, so for context on why we’re spending the way we are, read here.
Where we stayed: Troubadour by Hilton, New Orleans
What we paid: $392USD for 3 nights
Prepaid items: 1 day car hire $85USD, swamp boat tour $50USD, $50 historical ghost tour, $450 2 x New Orleans Saints NFL tickets
On Saturday morning we landed in New Orleans about 9.30am after a half empty flight from Washington DC. The spare seat between us was exactly the breather I needed after 4 hectic days at the conference!
Once we’d collected our bags we headed for the car rental pick up where we’d pre-booked a car for a day, to drive out to a few things we wanted to see around Louisiana that weren’t in the New Orleans city area.
En route to our first location we made a customary stop at a Wendy’s so I could relive every American movie and tv show of my youth. Here we shared a burger meal and spent $8.68.
Then off we went to the swamp tour – I know, very Shrek. The sound of this swamp tour didn’t delight me too much but I did know it would be a good experience and it’s touted as one of Louisiana’s must-dos, so a few too many grimaces later, I stopped protesting and off we went. We’d prepaid here (see above), and didn’t spend anything extra.
I’ll admit it was worth doing. It’s about more than just pointing at alligators and racoons. Our tour guide was a local man who lived on land himself, so he had tons of stories about what it was like to live there through the years.
Post-swamp, we got back in the car and drove to Oak Alley, an old sugar cane plantation. It has beautiful grounds and an historic house and land – which in itself is an Instagram hotspot. Instagram sell out poses aside, the stories here are honestly incredible. Once you’ve paid your $25pp entry, there are free talks and tours on throughout the day at different spots. Definitely tour the main house, and try and catch one of the talks at the slave quarters too. You’ll learn about the painful American history of enslavement in the lead up to the civil war and what happened after the emancipation proclamation.
In Louisiana you can also drink in public spaces, so I was all too pleased to sip on a local speciality cocktail as we explored – these cost $11. All profits go to maintaining the land.
After a busy day of walking and sweating more than I believed possible (Louisana is particularly humid in September), we drove to our hotel in the city of New Orleans, and parked overnight for $25 before returning the car in the morning.
That night we walked into the main city and headed to Coop’s Place, which is known for local Creolé specialities like Jambalaya and cajun fried chicken. Be prepared to line up, but it is worth the wait even in 40 degree humidity!
Being able to drink in the street means almost every bar can give you a to-go cup for alcohol or soft drinks, so I guzzled a fruit punch in the queue for $3. At Coops Place we spent $55 incl tax and tip on a few local dishes. We had fried chicken, Jambalaya, red beans and rice, and two local Amber beers filled our hungry tourist tummies.
New Orleans is very seafood focused, but I’m allergic so we had to stick to meat or vegetable options – if you’re a fish eater, definitely give some of their crawfish options a try.
You’d think we were full after the Creolé feast, but lol, it’s me, so never. Off we went to Café Du Monde, which is famous for it’s limited menu of Creolé coffee and traditional beignets. The speciality coffee is made with chicory, and beignets are french style doughnuts tossed in powdered sugar.
There are no bookings at Café Du Monde, but they’re open 24/7, so it’s ideal for a sweet fix for breakfast, snacks or dessert. We spent $15 here on coffee, hot chocolate and a serve of 3 beignets to share.
Exhausted from our 5am wake up call for the airport, we headed back to our hotel via a Walgreens where we spent $6 on water. A quick stop at our hotel’s rooftop bar for a drink overlooking the city at $14, and it was time for bed.
Total for the day: $135.95
After a much-needed slow morning, we walked into the city and straight back to Café Du Monde for more beignet goodness. This time we slammed down a serving of 3 beignets each, and had the frozen chicory coffee each, too. This cost $25 incl. tax and tips.
Then we downloaded a self-guided walking tour of the French Quarter for $2.99, and listened with our airpods as we strolled around at our own pace. We found these an amazing, cheap alternative to in-person tours, and in the heat it was nice to be able to take things at our own pace.
I have a really hot internal temperature and start to feel unwell in heat really fast, so I was basically stopping every hour for more fluids.
Half way through that tour we stopped for iced teas for $4 in total, before walking around the French Market, and then heading to Johnny’s for lunch. Johnny’s is famous for New Orleans speciality – Po Boys. It’s basically a huge bread roll with various fillings, but it was actually delicious. We shared one for $15, including a drink. Parkway is also a recommended Po Boy spot, especially if you’re wanting to try crawfish or shrimp, but again, still allergic.
After a little more walking, we stopped for yet another drink to cool off, use the bathrooms and watch a bit of the NFL. This set us back $15. By this point we’re dripping in sweat, so we headed back to the hotel for a shower and some chill time before heading back out.
En route we went to CVS to get some washing powder, more water and a few essentials like deodorant, which cost $18. We had planned to use our hotel’s laundry service, but given we’d gone back to the hotel for a couple of hours, we decided to save some cash and hand wash a few items each! It was so hot and humid we knew we’d have no trouble drying them ourselves, too.
Post hand washing laundry fiesta, we headed back out for dinner for yet another Creolé speciality – Gumbo. One of the most recommended spots was appropriately named Gumbo Shop, which also gets busy with queues so we arrived early to get ahead. Here we shared one Gumbo and one Chicken Espagnole, and gave alligator sausage a try as an appetizer (surprisingly nice). Washed down with two local Amber beers and a sparkling water, our total incl tax and tip was $57.
Being totally honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of Gumbo. It’s sort of a stew with rice, and while it was nice to try something traditional, it wasn’t my favourite thing. We had booked a historical haunted tour with New Orleans Secrets Tours at 7.30, so we grabbed a to-go drink to keep us going during the 2 hours of walking in extreme humidity. I went for the locally famous cocktail, the Hurricane, and Mr TBG just had a soft drink. We spent $17 here.
We’d prepaid for the tour at $25 per person, but tipped an additional $10 on top afterwards. Nobody else had booked onto our tour, so it was just us and our guide, Ty.
The tour was incredible, taking you round residential neighbourhoods at night and stopping at various famous buildings and unpacking the unimaginable horrors that had happened there. Paranormal activity and voodoo are a big part of the city’s culture and history, so even if you’re a skeptic, it’s still worth doing. New Orleans Secrets keep their tours to a max of 10 people so you get a much more personal experience, too.
Our guide was also very factual and didn’t make a show of anything or try to capitalise on ‘scary’ stuff. It was very historical and based on real events, so whether you believed in the ghostly side or not, it was still based on fact in terms of the killings or violent deaths. Promise I’m not a psychopath. Two hours of walking later, we were dehydrated to the max, so we slammed down two gatorades for $4, and went back to the hotel.
Total for the day: $152.99
There’s a chain of cafés in Louisiana called Ruby Slipper Café, renowned for amazing brunch. There were a few around us, but we hopped in a $10 Uber to the one on Magazine Street, to tie it in with visiting the Garden District.
At brunch we spent $48 – Mr TBG had one of their famous benedicts, and I had the Migas bowl (a Mexican style brunch with tortillas, scramble and chipotle).
After this we had a browse around Funky Monkey vintage, where I tried on an adorable two-piece set, but sadly it was too big. $0 spent here! Then we did another $2.99 self-guided tour of the Garden District, which is an area with some of the oldest, most expensive houses in the city. It has a very different feel to the main CBD, so it’s well worth a visit.
Then we hopped in a $9 Uber back to our hotel area, and called into the NFL New Orleans Saints shop for Mr TBG to indulge his birthday spending money on merchandise. He’d pre-budgeted for this, as going to one of their games is one of his life long dreams. Cutie.
I’d resisted buying any souvenir t-shirts at the French Market the day before, so decided to buy one of the unofficial Saints tops to go all-in at the game that night. All up including tax, we spent $313.50, though aside from my $49 top, we’d pre-planned everything else.
Back to the hotel for yet another shower and outfit change before heading to the Mercedes Benz Superdome for the New Orleans Saints v Houston Texans football game.
We arrived at the game 3 hours early to soak up the atmosphere, and had 3 beers each throughout. Two beers outside the game at Champions Square cost $14, but inside they cost $18, so guzzle up before you enter! Our total beer spend there was $46. Then we had nachos at $23, and hot dogs with soft drinks in the final quarter, as all that cheering was hungry work, costing $27. After a killer win for the Saints in the final TWO SECONDS OF THE GAME, we went to a rooftop bar for celebratory beers, which cost just $6 thanks to a game day special.
Total for the day: $482.50
We woke to a 7.30am alarm to head back to the airport to head onto New York. We spent $42 on an Uber to the airport, as New Orleans isn’t well serviced by public transport at all. We then spent $20 on one final beignets indulgence at the French Market Café at New Orleans airport, $3 on some water, and got on the plane.
Total for final day: $65
Total for the trip: $836.44 (excludes prepaid items)