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Earlier this month, I took a short girl’s trip to New Orleans! Four of us hopped on a quick flight from Charlotte to NOLA on a Thursday morning and big easy-ed our way through the weekend until our flight home on Sunday afternoon. It was a fantastic time, jam-packed with all the New Orleans’ sights, that was surprisingly affordable.
The most expensive portion of the trip was the flight. We used American Airlines because one of us had some rewards to use up, and we found what we thought was a good price on the tickets. However, after our return, we heard about a smaller airline that flies out of the Concord airport called Allegiant Air that offers round-trip tickets for less than $100! Hmph. Next time we will definitely be checking them out first.
We may have missed out on the cheapo airfare, but we definitely won with our choice of lodging! I found an adorable house on Airbnb that was perfect for our stay. It had two bedrooms, two bathrooms (one with a claw foot tub), two sitting rooms, a full kitchen, and a little backyard with a patio. The house was located just three blocks from the St Charles streetcar, and around the corner, there was a great little grocery with a deli counter that served po’boy sandwiches.
Seriously, the place was perfection. The bathroom was stocked with shampoo and body wash, the wifi was super speedy, and it wasn’t even haunted (as far as we could tell). The only issue we had was a faint scent of cigarette smoke when we arrived, a previous tenant must have been a rule-breaker and smoked indoors because the listing definitely says no smoking. You might be wondering just what an establishment like this would set you back…how about a grand total of $690 for a 3-night stay! Seriously. We were beyond ecstatic splitting that price four ways.
Finding affordable New Orleans accommodations is entirely possible! You just gotta know where to look.
Upon arrival at the airport on Thursday morning, we took an Uber to our Airbnb, the ride only cost us $13 due to a new user credit. Oh, yeah! Our driver was amazing and gave us all kinds of tips on where to visit and what to eat. He took the scenic route down Magazine so we could see all of the amazing restaurants that line the street. If you are hungry, this street definitely has whatever you are looking for!
After getting settled and feasting on sandwiches from the grocery, we hopped on the streetcar and headed to the French Quarter. The streetcar is awesome sauce. A day pass was only $3 and it is good for a full 24 hours. We bought our first passes at 2:30 in the afternoon on Thursday and were able to use them on Friday morning as well. Plus, you can use those passes to ride the bus if you need to get somewhere off the streetcar line.NOLA travel tip: Streetcar day passes are good for a full 24 hours. Don't toss those tickets! Click To Tweet
Our first stop in the French Quarter was Bourbon street, obviously. Bourbon is a little seedy, a lot dirty, and smells like a lovely combination of urine and vomit. It isn’t my favorite place in the French Quarter (I preferred hanging out on Royal), but it is iconic New Orleans and a must-see for basically everyone.
We stopped by a bar with a three for one special running (most bars had some sort of special running) and ordered a hurricane each with the exception of our pregnant travel mate, she had water. The three for one special resulted in us getting giant plastic cups full of rather strong cocktail (think a McDonald’s large-sized beverage). Drinking earlier in the day so you can catch the happy hour specials is another way to keep things affordable!
If you have never been to New Orleans, you may not know that you can drink EVERYWHERE. As long as you have a plastic cup, you are good to go. It feels oh so wicked to walk around the city streets getting buzzed in broad daylight (It was before 4 o’clock actually because they are on central time). We had a fantastic time wandering the quarter, drinking, eating pralines, drinking, eating beignets, drinking and drinking. Hey, it was a really big cup! We also managed to visit a voodoo shop, have our cards read, ride in a pedicab, and watch a guy make gas lanterns by hand.
The next day we had a super packed itinerary because Hurricane Nate was supposed to roll through on Saturday, and we wanted to make sure we got in as much as possible! The morning started with a hop on the streetcar to probably my favorite bakery ever, Gracious. The prices are reasonable, the iced coffee is amazing, and the almond croissant is the stuff dreams are made of, trust me.
Next up was a one hour-ish van ride to the Honey Island Swamp tour. This is probably one of the highlights of the trip for me. For real. I wasn’t even very excited about the swamp tour because I thought it would be cheesy or lame, but this tour was so great. The guide was personable and informative. He told us a lot about the bayou and the swamp, and he had the keenest alligator spotting eyes on the planet.
This guy could see an alligator from like a mile away, and he would pull the boat up as close as he could so we could get a good view. Also, for some reason, alligators love marshmallows, and he lured so many right up to the boat for a very close and personal view. We also saw a heron, a raccoon, and a wild pig. Even, if we would not have seen any wildlife at all, it still would have been a very pleasant trip.
After our return from the swamp, we grabbed a late creole lunch (um…we actually ate fried alligator…I know, we are the worst!) and did some more French Quarter wandering while we waited for sundown and our ghost tour!!! We managed to entertain ourselves with pastries and street performers until it was time to get spooky.
We even stumbled upon a marching band playing When the Saints Go Marching In.
The ghost tour was more of a morbid history tour. It was fun, but I probably wouldn’t pay to do something like that again. It wasn’t at all scary, and I definitely didn’t see anything even remotely ghostly. We actually just walked around the streets and stood outside various buildings listening to stories. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t what we got. I did get to drink an absinthe cocktail while I walked so there is that…
Saturday morning we went out early to get in some sight-seeing before the rain hit. Our main objective for the day was Lafayette Cemetery, and since Gracious just happened to be nearby, it was almond croissants for breakfast again! Unfortunately, the cemetery was closed for the day, but I was able to snag a couple of pics through the gate.
Since we didn’t get to hang out with the dead, we decided to make our way back to the quarter and check out Cafe du Monde. It is probably a crime or something if you don’t stop in while you’re in New Orleans, right? Plus, they have these amazing diner-style coffee cups for sale that keep your coffee piping hot. I definitely bought one to bring back to my husband, and he definitely gets to use it on days when I’m not home 😉
Shortly after making our coffee cup purchases, the sky opened up. It looked a little scary like it really was gonna be a hurricane for about 10 minutes, but then it just turned into regular plain old rain. There was a curfew in effect though, so we just went back to our comfy house and told ghost stories and ate candy. Sometimes it is okay to just chill while on vacation!
The next morning, we were a little sad to leave that beautiful city, but we were ready to go home. There is just something about sleeping in your own bed that is so alluring, right?
It was a beautiful day none-the-less, and walking down the sidewalk in the garden district is so different from walking the streets in Charlotte. It’s like being in some sort of tropical paradise with the most gorgeous old houses you’ve ever seen.
I can’t wait to go back. Especially now that I know I can fly there for less than a hundred bucks and stay in a comfy Airbnb! Do these affordable New Orleans tips make you want to book your next trip?