What a #YOLO Trip Looks Like for Inherently Frugal People: Stanley Cup Finals in Vegas

YOLO Trip For Frugal People

YOLO.  It’s millennial-speak for “You Only Live Once”.

What does a YOLO experience mean to you?

Here’s what it means to us.

Even with a baby in tow, we are still “cool” (right??!!!) and can try to #YOLO it up (in moderation).

My husband is more frugal than I am.  He is very frugal.  He only has one pair of navy shorts (non-workout and non-swimshorts) from Club Monaco he’s had for the past 10 years.  One pair of shorts.  Just recently a hole ripped in the buttock area and I tried to stitch it up with my novice sewing skills.  I was happy to have repaired it only to have him put them on at home and then another part ripped open (I resigned trying to repair it again because the fabric was actually wearing out and becoming too thin aka see-through).

He’s been a devout NHL Washington Capitals fan for the past 30 years.  He has always said that IF the Washington Capitals go to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Finals he would go to Washington DC and watch them play.  The last time the Washington Capitals made it to the Stanley Cup Finals was in 1998, or 20 years ago.  It has been one of his Bucket List life goals.

When we were dating I wanted to surprise him with hockey tickets and a flight (using my Aeroplan points, of course, because his expired) to Washington DC to watch the Capitals.  The timing was off and they never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, anyway (Pittsburg Penguins have beat them at least two years in a row).  Then we had a baby and I thought, okay we will probably never be able to watch them play.

Then, a great thing happened and the Washington Capitals beat Pittsburg Penguins (finally!) and then Tampa Bay and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals with Las Vegas Golden Knights!  My husband would not allow me to trip plan until they officially won the Tampa Bay series, he didn’t want to jinx it.  This meant that we had to pay a premium for the flights- which was painful as the flight tickets got more and more expensive.

Yolo Trip Stanley Cup Playoffs
even MGM was decked out for VGK

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Here’s the breakdown of our #YOLO trip to Las Vegas:

The #Yolo Trip Flights

Unfortunately, I used up most of my Aeroplan miles on our last trip to Hawaii.  Also, booking such a last minute flight is close to impossible with points.  We booked flights on FRIDAY to leave MONDAY.

I tried to research with Kayak and Flight Hub to find the lowest flight prices and continued to clear cookies (so that they don’t increase the price depending on how often you search for the flight tickets).  We had to have nonstop flights because of the baby (the PTSD from our LAST fight, from Los Angeles back to Vancouver where he cried for 45 minutes not stop before takeoff was fresh in my mind) and pick a good time.  We ended up finding some flights with Air Canada for $850 CAD a piece.  For a flight that NORMALLY would cost anywhere from $200 to $350, this was PAINFUL.  Especially for a travel hacker wannabe like me.

#YOLO Trip Flights: $1700 CAD

The Hockey Ticket

Note the singular form of the hockey ticket (not TICKETS) because you know, on a  YOLO trip in moderation, we can only justify one ticket.  Haha, that, and we thought it wouldn’t be a great idea if we brought baby GYM to the game.  We don’t like to mess up his sleep schedule and the game would be really loud.

How much was the ticket to the T-Mobile Arena Las Vegas Golden Knights vs Washington Capitals?  it was really expensive.

It was $1160 USD!! (THIS IS like TWO flights to Asia-if you can find a cheap flight- or a week in an all-inclusive resort!).

I asked Twitter how to save money on hockey tickets and Teacher on Fire @Teacherfire1 recommended Stubhub (through Ebates) or SeatGeek (through Swagbucks).

The ticket itself was around $900 and then there was another $200 service fee (Stubhub and SeatGeek must make a killing).

Twitter SeatGeek and Stubhub Cashback

With buying the ticket through Stubhub and Ebates we saved a total of $55.58 CAD (the cheque will be mailed in a few months, they mail it quarterly).  We saved up to 4.5%.  This is really good because the largest ‘cash back’ I’ve gotten from Ebates was $0.49.

Unfortunately when you spend upwards of $1000 on a ticket, DO NOT check the prices again because you will feel crappy about your #YOLO purchase.  We made the mistake of looking up the ticket prices on Stubhub the day OF the game and saw that the prices dropped by a few hundred dollars (oops #noregrets).

If you want to sign up for Ebates you can do so here and you will get $5 (if you are in Canada) and $10 (if you are in the US).  In Canada, if you just refer two friends (e.g. your spouse and a friend) you can get $50 added to your account.  You just need $5 in Ebates cashback to get paid out and they pay out quarterly.  I am looking forward to that $55 cheque in August!

He had absolute nosebleed seats but was sitting beside some Capitals fans so he didn’t get pummelled by Knights fans when the Capitals won that game.

Here’s a snapshot he took from his nosebleed seat that cost $1160 USD.

#Yolo Stanley Cup Playoffs

#YOLO Trip Hockey Ticket: $1160 USD (will save $56 CAD)

The Accommodation

We aren’t big fancy hotel type people (maybe I could be one day), so we stayed at the Tropicana.  It isn’t like the Aria or the Cosmopolitan, or even Caesar’s Palace.  It’s the Tropicana haha.  The Tropicana has actually cleaned up A LOT (from when I was last there) and it is owned by Doubletree Hilton now.  We used our Scotiabank American Express Gold points to save $160 for three nights of accommodation.  We still had to pay the resort fee which was about $35 a day.

One day the Internet cut out for a few hours and they omitted one day of the resort fee (the resort fee included the high-speed Internet).  Goes to show that it never hurts to ask!

#YOLO Accommodation:  $72 USD (saved $160 CAD and $35 USD)

The Food

For breakfast, we brought this oatmeal in a bowl from Quaker and just added cold water (yeah, it was pretty sad.  Not even hot water or a coffee maker in the room!) and had a banana.  Baby GYM had a banana (each banana was $0.99, ouch!) and his oat cereal for breakfast.  Bananas ($5).

On the first day, for lunch, we had fried chicken and popcorn shrimp at Popeye’s ($21.00) then for dinner we grabbed some salad at ABC Stores (they have ABC Stores just like Hawaii!  It was like we were back in Honolulu again) and some beer ($18).

Related: PC Travel Review

On the second day, we went all out and walked to Bellagio for The Buffet.  I wanted to go to this Buffett called “AYCE” (it had good Yelp reviews and was under $20 for lunch) but it was too far of a walk.  It was $28 per adult.  I ate so much that I was on the verge of feeling nauseated (when I go to a buffet I like to hit the sweet spot before feeling nauseated) and baby GYM ate his money’s worth too (he was free)- he had a few shrimp, cantaloupe, watermelon, some beef, rice, and banana.  We were so full that we didn’t even eat dinner that night and just had some fruit.  Baby GYM had his blended food pouch.

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On the third day, we went to downtown Vegas for lunch and had White Castle ($19) and baby GYM had another food pouch from home.  Ever since watching Harold and Kumar I have always wanted to try it to see what the hype was about.  On the first impression, I was surprised that the buns were so small.  I was also thinking that’s a lot of packaging for each burger.  The fries were really good and the burgers tasted good (the bun is so soft!) but I think In N Out is better (and fresher).  The burger patty looked a bit sad, greyish, and ‘spam-like’ but it tasted pretty good.

Apparently, when the White Castle Vegas restaurant opened in 2015, the sales on opening day were so off the chart that they had to close for 2 hours to restock!

For dinner, my husband went to the game and had a hot dog, fries, and an ice tea ($15) and refused to pay $15 for beer.  I had chicken pita from the ABC Store and got more beer for us ($12).

As you can see our #YOLO food spending was pretty low.  I would say this is many thanks to baby GYM.  No high-class dining for us when bedtime is 7pm!

#YOLO Food: $146 USD

Related: PC Travel Review

Yolo Gambling

I blew $20 on $5 blackjack within the timeframe of 4 minutes.  My husband wasn’t even there to witness it as he had to stroll baby GYM around since he wasn’t allowed near the blackjack tables.

My first thought after I blew $20 was- if I regularly spend $20 in 4 minutes I would have to make $300 after tax to keep up with this!

#YOLO Gambling: $20 USD

The Total #Yolo Trip Damage

Approximately $3020 USD (give or take for currency exchange).

For 3 Days.  That’s $1000 a day.

To put it in perspective, that’s about how much we paid for 5 weeks in Hawaii.

I got nothing to say, but #YOLO trip.  You Only Live One.

It was a lot of money, but as an inherently frugal person, I would say it was worth it (and my husband would say it was worth it even more).

This #YOLO trip is truly once in a lifetime event.

Tune in next week to read how we traversed Las Vegas with a baby!

Readers, have you spent an unreasonable amount of money on a bucket list experience that you really wanted?

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41 thoughts on “What a #YOLO Trip Looks Like for Inherently Frugal People: Stanley Cup Finals in Vegas”

  1. I don’t know if there is anything I love enough to pay $1,160 US to watch! That is a LOT of money. But as long as you both feel it was worth it then it’s all that matters:)
    I have a few trips I would like to do in the near future where I may be willing to splurge ! #YOLO.

    • @Caroline- Yeah, it is a LOT of money haha! You’re so lucky you got $2K worth of activities for free in Australia!!

    • @Tom- Just like Harold and Kumar? My husband is beyond 40 and he still enjoyed it. I don’t think there was much nutritional value though, there was no ‘veggie’ between the steamed buns except for sauteed onions and a pickle I think. I wonder how fresh the sauteed onions were, they didn’t look very fresh!

  2. I love this. To me, this is what being frugal is all about–so you can save for the epic experiences. To me an equivalent experience might be something like going to the Olympics one year and trying to sneak into the Olympic Village or something. I guess if you think about it $1k per day seems outrageous, but it’s really a one-time thing. Also, this makes me feel wayyyyy less guilty about my watch purchase which I plan on wearing until I go down in my casket 🙂

    • @The Luxe Strategist- I’m excited to see what your watch looks like on Instagram! If you wear it every day, you can calculate the cost/day and that will really reduce the ‘price’ of the watch! I remember the Olympics (but didn’t sneak into the village) in Vancouver in 2010, it was a once in a lifetime experience too but I only watched one thing but I already forgot what it was!

  3. You don’t even know how badly my husband and I want to go to Vegas. I am having withdrawals. I am so glad that you went! And when it’s not a last-minute YOLO trip, Vegas is shocking affordable (if you lives in the States at least). I think the casinos want you to enter the city with money 😉 SO glad you went!

    • @Penny- HP Would have a good time!! I have a post next week in Vegas with a baby. It wasn’t the most baby friendly but it wasn’t bad either. Yes, free drinks at the casino (my regret is that I didn’t stay long enough to get a free drink).

  4. As a sports fan myself I understand your husband’s passion for a particular team. Experiences like going to the Stanley Cup Finals in-person is something that you may never go through again. And being frugal to save up for the trip and experience like you guys did is well worth it. Going through all that supersedes the overpriced trip because it was like you said, a once in a lifetime experience.

  5. I remember you planning the trip on Twitter, I’m glad you were able to make it happen! Bananas that cost more than 39 cents each always get our goats. Also I love ABC stores. I shouldn’t, they bring out the impulsive buyer in me, but I do.

    You’ve got me tempted to take a YOLO type of trip now, just like you inspired our Hawaii trip 🙂

    • @Revanche- Me too! I was getting antsy about not going anywhere haha. Sorry to make you want to YOLO too! PS I had to explain what YOLO is to my husband (and FOMO), does your husband know what FOMO/YOLO is? (Just asking because we have similar age discrepancies between us)

  6. Sometimes you just have to do it, and you know I get this. Although, that one ticket makes my Oilers tickets look cheap 😉 I’ll be eating my words when we finally get off the season to let wait list though.

    I’m glad you guys went for it and had a good time. And now look, Washington is totally going to win! You’re good luck.

  7. Great that you did the trip. Gotta live up a bit here and there right? I spent a ton of money for 2010 winter Olympics and bought a bunch of tickets. One of them was men’s hockey semi final. Tickets were expensive but it was worth it seeing Canada playing. I could have sold the tickets for a large profit but choose experience over money.

    • @Tawcan- Oh man men’s hockey semifinal!! I remember the men’s hockey final and remember where I was watching it. It was GRIPPING. Such a good game. Good for you to choose the experience over money- Olympics in Vancouver, once in a lifetime event! It has totally changed our city after the 2010 games…!

  8. NIce. That is awesome! Good on ya for doing something on your husbands bucketlist. Id love for ovi to win the cup this year. The flight was definately pretty expensive and the hockey ticket was insane, but this is what living is all about. Its great to be frugal but sometimes its nice to spend a bit too.

    When we go away, we tend to go to more expensive places ie Atlantis Bahamas. When we are there my cheapness comes out a bit but on vacation I don’t mind spending money. Just got to be a little smart about it (like you were)

    Sounds like a great time, still haven’t been to Vegas. Wife has a couple times and would love to go with me. Ill go if we’re kid free only. haha


    • @PassiveCanadianIncome- He has followed me on my bucket lists too so its only fair (like going to Iceland to see Northern Lights last year). And besides, I love traveling it’s like twisting my rubber arm. Ooh Atlantis Bahamas, I would love to go to the Bahamas, sounds very nice. I think the all inclusives are great because you can just pay one price up front and not worry about it when you’re there. Haha, Vegas with kids isn’t THAT bad. It was still fun!

  9. Hi GYM, that’s what saving is for, so you can spend on something that really matters. It’s wonderful you folks had a great time there.

    I never tried White Castle. One time, a friend was hospitalized. He missed White Castle burgers so much, and asked us to smuggle some in. That’s the first time I smelled that onion flavor, very strong.

    • @Helen- I trust your wise advise Helen! I think we executed it well. Saving on things we don’t care about (like his 10-year-old pants) for things we do (like watching the Stanley Cup finals and spending family time together). Hah, awe you’re such a good friend! Geez, the White Castle craving seems to be very strong.

  10. Loved reading this trip report, from the perspective of a frugalist. I live in the land of BMWs and Audis. Everyone travels to 5-star resorts and hotels that cost $350+/night. (I really don’t belong here!)

    We’re the wacky frugals living in a pricey neighborhood! I love that I can feel normal amongst people like you!

    • @esbFI- Awe thanks!! Wow, $350+/night! The only time we have done that was on our wedding night and it was just for one night hahaha. I think Vancouver is getting more and more populated with Joneses and it’s hard to avoid trying to keep up with them.

  11. This sounds like a great trip for your husband. 🙂
    You guys deserve it. You live frugally so you can splurge once in a while.
    I don’t think we’ve spent that much for 3 days. The flight and game ticket are expensive!

  12. It must’ve been an experience of a lifetime to watch your team play in the Stanley CupFinals. To me PF is all about spending money on what brings you joy and cut down on other expenses. I love musical theatre, so if I’m ever in New York or London, I will spend lots of money going to shows. My Dear Evan Hansen tickets were $300 and I don’t regret the splurging at all.

    • @Jeannie- Nice, NY or London musicals! Yes, you have summed up my 1000+ word post very nicely into one sentence! “To me PF is all about spending money on what brings you joy and cut down on other expenses.” Thank you!

  13. This is my favourite post of yours so far! I agree with others, this is what being frugal is about. Spend on what makes you happy! I brought our son to a Flames vs. Canucks game in Calgary when he was a week old! He is going to be studying Sports Business at university in the Fall. That first game stuck with him 😉

    • @Kare- Awe thank you!! That means a lot for a reader to say that!! A week old!! That’s amazing, I could barely walk and stand up or function, 1 week postpartum hahahaha. Wow, Sports Business that’s a very unique program, congratulations to your son- he had an early start and was primed for this career! 😉

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  15. Hey GYM!

    I think I am still giggling over your hubby’s collection of shorts…it was Mr. DS’s amount too until I made him buy a pair at least for every day of the week when we were going someplace tropical on our YOLO trip (he went to Walmart and is very proud of his purchases lol).

    Exactly – YOLO experiences are the reason why we live a frugal AF lifestyle…to do the things we really want to do in life!

    Sneak these trips in when your kiddo doesn’t cost an airline ticket yet! But we are looking forward to living our second childhood when our kiddo will be old enough to travel and remember the places we take him too!

    Looking forward to next week’s post!

    • @Mrs. DS- Haha, that’s good that Mr. DS listened to you! Yes, that’s exactly why I’m trying to maximize trips before he turns 2! I should aim for a long haul flight before he turns two…… 🙂

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  17. This is awesome, and I am so happy you guys got to go! A lot of the “frugal” people may cringe, but you are doing it right. Life is short, and you need to pay up for the things you are passionate about! In the end, all you have are your memories, so make great ones.

    I did something similar a few years ago – it was a lifelong dream to go the World Cup with my Dad and watch the Netherlands play…so in 2014 we did just that! I wrote a similar piece as well:


    Also – I posted my interview with GenY Money today on the site as well if anyone is interested check it out below:

    • @Jordan- Awe yes, in the end all you have are your memories *unless one gets dementia, unfortunately* and that’s why we spend on our ‘memory’ category instead of buying a fancy car or whatnot. Nice that you went with your dad, I’m sure your dad has some great memories of spending time with his son! Going to check out your post now, and thanks again for interviewing me! I’ll mention it in my blog round up in a few weeks.


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