New Orleans Recap – Cost and Pictures!

We had a ton of fun on our vacation to New Orleans and managed to do New Orleans on a budget. It was much more relaxed than past vacations. We left on Tuesday at around midnight and drove through the night.  We arrived at around 10 or 11 am on Wednesday. I slept for probably…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 25, 2023

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We had a ton of fun on our vacation to New Orleans and managed to do New Orleans on a budget. It was much more relaxed than past vacations. We left on Tuesday at around midnight and drove through the night.  We arrived at around 10 or 11 am on Wednesday.

I slept for probably 12 to 15 hours each day. It was a sleep vacation for me…

Also, nothing in this post was sponsored, I only included links in order to be helpful to anyone who might be venturing to New Orleans.

New Orleans is a lot of fun.

There are tons of beautiful buildings, and interesting people are everywhere. There is good food, good drinks and great music everywhere. We went with two of our good friends, T and J.

We did a ton of walking. We walked from place to place and just went to whatever was in the area. We went to Cafe Du Monde twice and yes the beignets are to die for. One order is $2.42 and includes 3 doughnuts. Three should be enough! We made the mistake of each of us ordering our own plate and we definitely were not hungry enough for 12 doughnuts. Cafe Du Monde only takes cash just so you know. I have also heard of many people saying that there are always long lines, but we went twice and experienced no wait either time.

Even though St. Louis is full of casinos, we still went to the casino on Canal. W won $30 in a couple of minutes before I pried him away because I was nervous of losing haha!

One thing that I did on this trip that I NEVER do is that I did not bring my laptop. I tried to manage my side business while traveling from my iPad. I will be honest and say that it was VERY hard! I don’t think I will ever do that again.

Below is how I did New Orleans on a budget:


New Orleans Recap - Costs and Pictures!New Orleans Costs

I’m always looking to save money, and when I’m on vacation I am still trying to save. Saving money when you’re on vacation is still important. Of course I never want to ruin a vacation by thinking about money the entire time, but I also don’t want to go too crazy and way over budget.

The total cost for our vacation was around $1,300.

I think we did great for a 5 day vacation! I’m sure we could have spent less if we didn’t eat at expensive places (most of our dinners were around $30 to $40 per person). We also could have spent less if we would have pre-gamed in the hotel rooms before going out. However, we went to New Orleans for the good food and interesting drinks!

We all wanted to enjoy ourselves but not go too crazy. Yes, if we would have eaten at McDonald’s the entire time then we definitely would have been able to spend less than $1,000. However, who wants to do that when they are on vacation? Vacations are meant to experience your surroundings and try new things! We managed to stay at a 4 star hotel, eat at the best places, did some shopping and managed to stay under $1,300 for it all.


Hotel in New Orleans on a budget

We stayed at the Astor Crown Plaza Hotel in the French Quarter. It has a great location right on Bourbon street. It also has a nice rooftop pool. The pool was slightly small but no one else was ever there so that was fine.

The hotel even had a balcony (that we didn’t find out about until the last day) that was right on Bourbon street. It was perfect for people watching and on the last night we sat out there for hours just laughing at everything that was going on.

We were able to score a great deal on this hotel. I believe it’s a 4 star hotel that we scored for only $89 a night. They had a Summer Sizzling sale. We originally booked at a less nicer hotel (I think it was a 1 star hotel) for the same price when I noticed that the Astor had a huge sale going on. We could not say no to the price.  We were also placed with the Bourbon Street view but on the 10th floor so that we could still sleep at night.

We have no regrets about the hotel and loved everything about it! It was super nice, and we still can’t believe the low price that we paid.

Total for the hotel: $475 per couple, which includes taxes, parking fees, etc.


New Orleans on a budget for transportation

We drove to New Orleans. Some of you are probably wondering why we drove since we get free airfare (through my dad’s retirement benefits that I inherited when he passed). We drove because we wanted a little road-trip with our friends.

Also, I didn’t get carsick! WOOHOOO! There were times when I was a little afraid that we would be forced to stop, but I powered through it. Some of you will laugh at this but I cannot do long car rides.

We parked the car at the hotel and didn’t touch it once until the day that we left. The parking fee was around $31 per night (included in the hotel fee above). They valet your car for this price. I believe they said that the parking garage was 3 blocks away, which is good that they valet it.

We stopped 4 or 5 times for gas. I think we did pretty good with gas considering it was 10 hours there and 10 hours back, and we were in a Jeep, which don’t get the best gas mileage.

We also bought a Jazzy Pass one day, which is a pass for unlimited rides on the streetcar for one day. This was only $3 per person.

Total for gas and transportation: $100 per couple.


Food/Miscellaneous in New Orleans

We spent a decent amount on food and random things that we bought.

Food was much higher than what we usually spend. We wanted to try EVERYTHING, which includes all of the awesome restaurants and fun drinks like the Shark Attack and Hand Grenades. There were tons of quirky little drinks and I recommend trying them all. Definitely order the Shark Attack because the way it is served to you is hilarious.

We spent around $125 each day on food and drinks. Some days were more, some days were less. We would have spent a ton on drinks but we were pretty good at happening to be at places that had a happy hour at the right time.  Good luck for us!

W also did a little bit of shopping. He bought two hats from a store called Goorin Bros. and I don’t think I will ever again be able to drag him away from there. He was in love. The hats were $82 and $53. I’m not a hat person so I don’t get it 🙂 , but it made him happy.

We also bought some souvenirs. I bought a couple of fun masks, voodoo dolls, food to bring home and so on.

Total for food and miscellaneous expenses: $700.


Have you ever been to New Orleans? What was your favorite thing/event/place? How do you do New Orleans on a budget?

How much do you typically spend on your vacations?


FYI – I didn’t bring my camera so all of these pictures are taken with my iPhone.


New Orleans Recap - Cost and Pictures!

This is a Shark Attack.

New Orleans Recap - Cost and Pictures!

View from our room.

New Orleans Recap - Cost and Pictures!

View from the balcony at our hotel.

New Orleans Recap - Cost and Pictures!


New Orleans on a budget


 New Orleans Recap - Cost and Pictures!

Another view from our room.

New Orleans Recap - Cost and Pictures!

New Orleans Recap - Cost and Pictures!

New Orleans Recap - Costs and Pictures!A Hand Grenade.

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Looks like an amazing holiday! Still having the ipad was better than just a phone, I wouldn’t go on holiday or anywhere without a laptop, I am just too slow with those touch keyboards.

    1. I am too slow with touch keyboards as well. I will never do that again!

  2. 15 hours of sleep, no laptop, $89 for a 4-star – that is one stellar vacation. Looks like you had fun. New Orleans is one placeI haven’t been too. But it’s on the short list!

    1. Haha it was a good time

  3. The Norwegian Girl

    New Orleans sounds amazing! And I think $1300 for all that is pretty damn good! IΒ΄m not sure how much money I spend on vacation, because it varies, depending on the destination and purpose. But what I often do is focus on one thing. Like when I was in Stockholm, I had no interest in shopping (because itΒ΄s too expensive), so I chose to focus on good food. I also tend to walk instead of taking the subway/metro/tram, because I love exploring new places and the best way of doing so is by walking.

  4. kelly @stayingonbudget

    Sounds like the perfect vacation! Thanks for sharing the pictures and, of course, the cost breakdown!

    1. You’re welcome Kelly πŸ™‚

  5. Looks like such an awesome trip! I spend less than you do on food and drinks while on trips, but I can tell you I don’t go hungry haha. I went to the fair yesterday and DIDN’T get the alligator but I still want to give it a try if given the chance.

    1. Haha well I eat a lot. I have a super fast metabolism and if I skip just one meal then I have a migraine for days!

  6. Marisa

    I’m si glad to hear that you had lots of fun and that you saved money sounds good to me , well I haven’t been on vacation about 5 years ago haven’t had the income enough to take my kids on vacation and that makes me sad because they get sad every time that I tell them that I don’t have enough money to take them on vacation but hopefully one day I will. Love the pictures that you took , but no I haven’t been in louisiana but I would live to go some day, have a great day.

    1. Thanks Marisa! I hope you can go on vacation soon. Maybe a little staycation where you explore your town? πŸ™‚

  7. Holy shit are the hand grenades dangerous! New Orleans is definitely a ton of fun. I completely agree with you that vacations are meant to be enjoyed and it’s absolutely worth your while to spend money on the things that drew you to the destination in the first place. I haven’t made it to Cafe du Monde yet, but it’s definitely on my list for the next time I go. Glad you guys had so much fun.

    1. Yes, you definitely need to go! We were lucky in that there was no line because we have heard that lines are usually down the block to get seated.

  8. I LOVE New Orleans and I am soooooooooooo jealous! So glad you had a good time. New Orleans really is a special place. I can’t wait to go back!

    1. Haha thanks Holly! It was fun!

  9. That’s a great price for five days, and it sounds like you stayed at a nice place and have some wonderful experiences. Thanks for the pics!

  10. Andy Hasdal | Income by Example

    Sounds like you had a great time. I agree about the McDonald’s comment though. I have friends who will eat there on vacation to save money. Totally ruins the whole point of going on vacation. Who wants to go somewhere new to not experience the food, or atmosphere by staying in a crappy hotel you can stay in anywhere? Apparently some people I know, but not this guy!

    1. Yeah I don’t get that either!

  11. Jill

    Looks like you had a great vacation without breaking the bank and still enjoying yourself. I always try to save as much as possible on the big stuff (flights, hotels) so that I don’t need to worry too much about spending a couple extra bucks here and there.

    1. I’m the same way!

  12. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction

    Oh wow, that looks like a great time! And $1300 is pretty awesome for 5 days of fun, relaxation, and great food.

    How was the deep-fried alligator? Taste like chicken?

    1. It was okay. I would rather have chicken!

  13. Tammy R

    What fun! I love the deal you got on the hotel. It sounds like you were right in the thick of it.

    We have been to NO a few times as it’s just “down the road” from Houston and all. We enjoyed Court of Two Sisters restaurant. While it was more expensive than our budget called for at the time, we ordered reasonably-priced entrees and had a great waiter who brought us several free items to try. We had to put our foot down at turtle soup, though. Turtles are just too cute to eat.

    One of my most memorable activities was touring the cemeteries and also the 9th Ward not too long after Hurricane Katrina. It was really affecting, and I have never forgotten it.

    Oh, and I did get asked to come on stage at Cat’s Meow and sing Eminem with three other girls. Too funny!

    1. Yeah, I can’t do turtle soup. I saw that on the menu somewhere and I wanted to cry!

  14. Josh from CNA

    Looks like you had a great time…I love the pics! Also, $1,300 bucks for a 5 day trip, way to keep the cost down!

  15. Kelsie

    Love NOLA! We just got back from a beach vacation. I tried to keep track of what we spent, but eventually I gave up. It made me a little sick…

    1. I need a beach vacation! NOLA was fun but I need something more relaxing πŸ™‚

  16. It sounds very fun. I have never been to New Orleans but would like to go. I feel like I am ready for an adults only vacation pretty soon!

    1. Haha yes you need one!

  17. Tami

    I love love LOVE new orleans! So jealous you stayed right on Bourbon– I’ve always wanted to but you’re right, usually the hotels there are ridiculously priced. You guys made off like bandits for a five day trip!

    1. Thanks! I think we did really good.

  18. My mom and I drove through it once during a road trip but we didn’t stop anywhere because it was storming out. Would love to be able to experience it some day!

    1. It was pretty rainy the whole time. That was a bummer!

  19. I’m glad you had a great time in New Orleans. The hand grenade is on of my favorite drinks to get when I’m down there.

    1. I loved them too!

  20. I want to go to New Orleans one of these days. Sounds like you had fun and didn’t spend too much money. How is alligator? I have never had the good fortune of trying it.

    1. It was okay. I’d rather have something else to eat πŸ™‚

  21. Connie @ Savvy With Saving

    Sounds like you had a great time! I would definitely love to visit New Orleans someday. And $1,300 for a 5 -day trip is awesome!

  22. I’ve been waiting for this post. Love it~ I so want to go to New Orleans. It’s on my to do list. Thanks for the recap.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this post! I like doing full cost recaps because hopefully it can help people when they go.

  23. I love it when nice hotels have great sales! Also, those beignets look AMAZING! I’m drooling!!! Glad you had fun, Michelle!

  24. Looks like a great holiday. No, I have not been to NO and it’s on my list of places to visit when I stop working in five years time πŸ™‚ – it has been a dream since I fell in love with classical jazz.

    1. Yes, you should definitely go πŸ™‚

  25. It looks like you had a lot of fun and you spent some money , it’s about time LOL. You finally let go and stopped worrying about every penny. I can see if you had a lot of debt but your blog is going fine and you have a job, so you should splurge sometimes. Life is too short to hoard money.

    1. Haha thanks πŸ™‚

  26. Glad you had fun and caught up on some sleep! I try to do blogging related things on my ipad when I don’t feel like sitting at my computer, but it can be annoying. I’ve been thinking of getting a cheap keyboard for it to make it a bit easier. Those doughnuts and drinks look good! Those were some nice views of the street you had from the hotel.

    1. I think a keyboard would have made it easier, but I much prefer my laptop as well.

  27. Squirrelers

    It’s been MANY years since I was last in New Orleans, but I had a great time when I was there. It was with a small group of friends and their girlfriends back then (mine couldn’t make it then, nor could another’s). Great time, really good food.

    A few things that jump out in particular:

    1) The Beignets at Cafe Du Monde were outstanding!
    2) It was disarming to see that the river was higher than ground level where I was, due to the levees. This was well before Katrina, so I had no idea about this aspect of the city. But it always stuck with me.
    3) We were chased by a group of thugs, including one wearing a super tall red white and blue top hat. Weird, but scary with a huge adrenaline rush.
    4) Bourbon street was a whole lot of fun
    5) I learned about Zydeco music for the first time…unique and interesting!

    1. Yes, it was so much fun!

  28. LOVE THIS! So excited to see some pics of my hometown! lol So glad y’all had some good food and drink! And I could have told you it was going to be a relaxing vacation, lol. We don’t move too fast down there. πŸ™‚

    1. Haha yes it was super relaxing.

  29. Looks like you had a great time! I’d love to visit New Orleans one day. I think visiting the French Quarter and Bourbon Street would be an architect-loving person’s dream. Though, I think I’d skip the alligator. πŸ˜‰

    1. Yes, everything is so pretty!

  30. how fun! we are dying to get to new orleans…looks like you did it so smart! XO

    1. You should definitely go πŸ™‚

  31. That sounds like a fun trip, and you all did well on the costs. A 4 star hotel for $89 is pretty awesome. I was in New Orleans once and just loved the po-boy sandwiches. I’d never had one before and I think I ate nothing but that and etoufee the whole week.

    1. W ate a ton of sandwiches there also as he’s allergic to some seafood.

  32. Faith

    Y’all did great! Way to have a great vacation and spend under $1500!

    Love the pictures! I hope to visit New Orleans one day!

  33. So glad you had so much fun!! Were you able to eat at Dragos?

    1. No I don’t think we did. We ate pretty much everywhere else though haha

  34. I love a room with a view! It seems that you had an amazing trip and enjoyed yourself, good for you!

  35. Thanks! And yes the price was so low! I still can’t believe it.

    Alligator was okay, but I felt horrible eating it!

  36. They were soooooo yummy.

  37. I wish we would have met up!

  38. $400 is awesome!

  39. It sure looks like a great holiday! You indeed managed to get a great deal with the 4 star hotel and I am sure that the “sleepcation” did wonders to your spirit more than the hand grenade :))

  40. Idol ever to hear about some of the places that you ate. We’re headed to New Orleans in the fall and looking for suggestions.