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Expense Report: August 2019 Chicago, Wisconsin, + Minnesota Trip

Sep 11, 2019 | USA | 0 comments

Until I’m caught up (for now), I’ll upload expense reports for my past few trips this year. Shortly after I got home from Europe, I was packing my little pink carry-on to be wheels up yet again. Except this time, I was on my own and on the way to visit some lovely people I hadn’t seen in far too long. My destinations were Chicago, two cities in Wisconsin, and Minneapolis. This expense report from August shows you just how much I spent for 9 days in the American Midwest, and just how much you can save by visiting friends!

the budget + prepaid expenses

RouteMode of TransportMiles TraveledCost per person
Nashville to
Chicago (ORD)
Chicago to
Milwaukee to
Madison to
Overnight Bus273.1$35.00
Minneapolis to
Total cost of
LocationType of
Number of
Cost per
ChicagoCheyenne’s apartment3$0
MilwaukeeNo overnight stay (just a layover)0$0
MadisonErika’s apartment2$0
MinneapolisErika’s grandparents’ house2$0
Total cost of

Because I was visiting Cheyenne in Chicago and Erika in Wisconsin and Minnesota, I was staying with them. I didn’t have to spend a penny on accommodations for this trip, all due to their generosity. And, of course, I’ll repay the favor whenever they come to Nashville.

Because my up-front costs for this trip were so low, I didn’t restrict myself very much on the ground. I didn’t want to spend in excess of $250 on activities and other spending, even though I knew I was going to Chicago. If you’ve never been, then let me tell you that Chi-town is an expensive city. At this point, it’s not much more expensive than Nashville. But, I knew I would need to give myself some wiggle room for the few days in Chicago. The rest would be more affordable, just by virtue of being less expensive destinations.

Keeping in mind my $250 budget, here are my real on-the-ground expenses for this August expense report:

on-the-ground expenses

LocationActivityCost per person
ChicagoThe Art Institute of Chicago$25
SouvenirsCaribou Coffee mug$12.89
Metro tickets$21
Activities, Food, +
Souvenir Total

Before I even left Nashville, I knew that I wanted to spend a few hours in a nice art museum once I got to Chicago. The Art Institute was lovely, and I paid standard museum fees to get in. Aside from this activity, nothing else I did cost an entry fee. When Erika showed me around Minneapolis, everything we did and saw was free aside from trying delicious foods. We even visited the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and it’s free for general entry.

Likewise, when I was with Cheyenne in Chicago, we walked around her neighborhood, spent time downtown, and just caught up. The main expense I had for entertainment was my museum ticket. The rest was walking, sightseeing, and doing so for free.

Souvenir-wise, I did decide to buy a coffee mug from Caribou, because it’s apparently a Midwest thing and I was very impressed with their drinks. Also, the mug was just too cute to pass up, and for a price I was willing to pay.

My personal rule of thumb for expanding my coffee mug collection is this: don’t pay more than $15 for a mug. I have only broken this rule for handmade mugs from places special to my heart, and my Princess Jasmine mug. All the others cost $15 or less. Besides, I only have so much space to pack them for my flight home…

grand total: $445.20

Sure, I spent some money. But, this was for 9 days on the road, and no one to shoulder the costs of travel with. I did very well for myself on this trip. I didn’t turn down the opportunity to try delicious new vegan food, and I bought myself a gift. However, I also didn’t splurge on every single Chicago tour that’s advertised, and I didn’t pay upwards of $20 to wait in hour-long lines for top attractions.

These 9 days were awesome. I enjoyed myself without worrying too much about money, got to see some great attractions, and didn’t even spend $500. This is the power of friends’ generosity, and returning the favor when they visit your city.

. . .

That’s it for my August 2019 expense report, from my trip to catch up with friends in the Midwest! I hope these help you plan as much as they help me analyze my own travel spending.

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Hi, I'm Sarah

Girl on boat with turquoise water in background

Welcome to my oasis! I am a writer and budding entrepreneur with a love for caffeine, capital gains, and seeing the world. If I'm not writing, you can find me reading a good book, trying out a new vegan recipe, or adding to my coffee mug collection. My goal in life? To see every country in the world. Come along for the ride!

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