Yep – I am one of those Canucks who traveled south of the border last weekend to go March on Washington. Visiting DC for the Women’s March weekend paired two of my favourite things in the world – protests and good friends.
Despite the nagging frugal half of my brain telling me how expensive the trip would be, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity – you know, cause my favourite things.
Also, what an important weekend. It was important to be one of many speaking out against atrocious policies and blatant hate speech. It will continue to be important to be one of those people moving forward – this weekend was just the beginning.
When an American friend messaged to say she would be taking a long layover in DC for the inauguration weekend to visit our mutual friend, I was on FlightHub a split second later. I had a number in my head – what I knew I could swing without wrecking my budget – and promised myself if I could stay inside that number, I would book on the spot. If it was over, I’d try again later or ultimately just have to take a pass on the weekend. My magic number was 300 CAD – and my flight came in at 297. Yes!
One of the potentially more expensive parts of the trip, accommodation, was not an issue thanks to the kind hospitality of my friend housing three of us in her one-bedroom in DC. Seriously, she’s the best.
For someone who was traveled extensively, I have to make a somewhat embarrassing confession: this is the first time ever tracking all of my expenses on a holiday. So I really have no frame of reference to know how bad the damage was, but here goes. The grand total for all expenses to March on Washington was 575 USD.
Here’s more of a breakdown
Flight: 226 USD
I think I snagged an inauguration discount on this one! The lovely American guy I sat next to on the plane said he flew that route every week for work and it was often priced above 400-500 USD.
Ground Transportation: 90 USD
Traffic. And road closures. And more traffic. Enough said.
Restaurants and Drinks: 209 USD
More than half of this was treating my friends to dinner one night. Annnddd we might have had a lot of cocktails. Totally worth it.
Thank-You Gift & Groceries: 50 USD
Grand Total: 575 USD
Ouch – I was definitely wearing my pussy hat, not my frugal hat, this weekend. On a more uplifting note, I ballparked some of the money I managed to save on the trip and it came to 441.50 USD!
Estimated savings on my trip to Washington DC
Accommodation: 238.50 USD
I assumed a 3-night stay at the median priced AirBnB over inauguration weekend and splitting the cost with a friend (https://www.cnet.com/news/airbnb-packs-in-washington-dc-guests-for-trump-inauguration-weekend/)
Meals at home: 30 USD
Flight: 173 USD
Google tells me American seatmate was totally correct and the average flight from Ottawa to DC is 524 CAD. Seriously, some kind of inauguration discount?! I’ll take it!
Total Estimated Savings: 441.50 USD
This number gives me all the warm and fuzzies – as in I might only ever travel based on protests of interest where I have a free place to crash from now on.
Although I could have been super frugal on this trip, it wasn’t the most important thing to me. Over one third of my income already went to debt repayment and savings this month. The March was positive and inspiring. I felt so proud to stand there alongside half a million people, and for a brief moment, it made me really hopeful. That feeling has faded a lot over the last week, but it has not been erased. If anything, it has only become more clear with each passing day how much work we all have to do in the weeks, months, and years to come.
All in all, this weekend could not have been more worth it.
And while I did track every penny of the trip and put it into my regular monthly budget, most of the spending money for the trip came from a stash of US dollars I had left over from some freelance work last year. So it’s almost like it doesn’t count, right? Yusss exactly.
Did anyone else partake in the Marches around the world last weekend? What have you been doing in the days since the inauguration to make your voices heard?