I just got back from a week long “vacation” with one of my best friends, Tracy Keeton! Tracy texted me and told me she had found a $150 round trip plane ticket to New Orleans, Louisiana, and wanted someone to go with her. So I packed my bags drove 5+ hours to NOLA. It was a much needed break from the mundane.
Now this was not your ordinary trip with a hotel in the French Quarter where you pay a small fortune for turn down service and chocolate mints on your pillows. Tracy and I did the unthinkable! We stayed in a Hostel! This was way out of my comfort zone.
At this point in this post I think I should tell you a little bit about my friend Tracy. She is crazy. Like so crazy even crazy people think she is crazy. After college she moved to South Africa for 4 months, backpacked through Europe, and then went to Central America for a month. She truly lives on the wild side and I look up to her for that! She is getting ready to move to Australia for a few years, and then back pack through Asia for a few more. You can follow along with her blog/vlog here.
Tracy has been all over the place so of course she has stayed in many hostels. For the record I wasn’t afraid of staying in a hostel, I had just never done it before and I assumed the worst would happen. My fears were anything from getting robbed to being peed on in the middle of the night. None of that happened and we met a lot of really awesome people. We met a fish farmer from Italy, a brilliant scientist from Vietnam/California who had just left her full time job to bike Central America and then Spain and France, we also met a man from Japan and several other people. Our stay was fabulous. I highly recommend the NOLA Jazz House for your cheap stay in New Orleans.
So sleeping arrangements aside, we had a blast exploring the streets and swamps of New Orleans. You can honestly do everything in New Orleans in less than a week, but we had fun taking our time through the city.
Here are some tips I have for your trip to New Orleans:
1. Look for free stuff.
We went to a Red Bull DJ competition! It was the semi finals and I know nothing about DJing, but it was super cool to be there. We also found an open mic night at a bar called the Hi Ho. Some of the acts stunk, and some had a political agenda, but most of them were really great. There are also plenty of bands and jazz artists everywhere that are looking for exposure. You never know what you will find.
2. Eat the food.
All of the food! New Orleans has so many crazy tastes and smells and you have to indulge in all of them! Tracy and I put all of our eggs into one basket hoping it would pay off on the food front. We went to a cooking demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Our chef, Big Kevin, made us Jambalaya, Gumbo, and Pralines, then gave us the recipe to take home with us. (Jambalaya will be our Thawed out Thursday this week just FYI.) It was fabulous and only $25. You also have to try some Beingets, oysters, crawfish, king cake, charbroiled oysters, Po Boys and anything else you can possibly think of. Everything taste amazing!
I am not a heavy drinker. I will enjoy a beer every once and a while, but drinking is not my thing anymore. That aside we still went and did Bourbon Street. We got a frozen drink and bounced from bar to bar listening to the music. It was fun. We ended up in the best karaoke bar I have ever been to, called The Cat’s Meow, and had a blast! Here are some tips though: watch yourself you don’t want to be pick pocketed. Limit yourself to one frozen drink, they are full of sugar and alcohol and will make you incredibly sick. Just try your friends drinks instead. Take cash, there is a $10 minimum on all debit card transactions and then a service fee on top of that. Also, everything on Bourbon is more expensive, Frenchman Street is half the price.
4. Get outside the city.
If you brought a car, get out and explore at least one day. Tracy and I went to Jean Lafitte National Park and got to be up close and personal with some big alligators. It was beautiful. We also paid $25 to do a swamp tour with Cajun Encounters, which even though it was cold was still amazing. The swamp is beautiful and since I love that kind of stuff it was worth the 30min ride to get there. Plus, we had free parking at the hostel so I didn’t mind moving my car.
5. Ride the Streetcar
It is so much fun and one of two moving monuments in the United States. I’m a big fan of public transportation. Get a Day Pass for $3 and you can hope on and off when ever you want. Make sure you check the schedule, because they only run about every 20 mins so missing a streetcar can be a big set back. We also rode it one day to see the entire city. It was a great break from walking around.
6. Go to the World War II Museum
This was simply amazing. It is pretty much brand new and for a history buff like me it was amazing. I could have easily spent a whole day there, and the next time I go I probably will. This is the 11th ranked museum in the world. The layout really puts you in the middle of WWII and I loved every minute of it. Worth the time to explore it.
This trip was a lot of fun and I will be going back to New Orleans eventually. I really got outside of my comfort zone in New Orleans. Thanks for letting me tag along Tracy I can’t wait to see what adventure we decide to go on next. I can only imagine they will get bigger and better in the years to come!
What is your favorite travel memory? What is your favorite part of New Orleans?
I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.