Becoming a Financially Conscious Traveler
I recently traveled to Cancun for a summer vacation; and boy, did I need that vacation! As I was there I literally felt all the stress from my everyday life melt away from me. I would like to share with you all how attainable this vacation was for me, and how it can be attainable for you as well! My goal for this blog post is to be as transparent as I can in order to prove my argument of the positives of going on a vacation. Yes, that will include the juicy details like, the exact cost of the vacation, and how much I actually spent. So, stick around!
The decision to go to Cancun was for a few reasons, and selling points. First off, we needed a getaway and wanted to make sure the getaway was budget friendly. We decided to do an “All-Inclusive” vacation. We were saving up for a vacation, just unsure of where to go but we knew we wanted something that would fit into what we had already saved. We were looking at very specific price points. We looked through other vacations, like cruises (I love cruises!!) and a few other local vacation spots.
I like to do a search on all those discounted travel websites like Expedia and Groupon, and then I do some price comparisons and research with Airbnb. For the amount of money that we would spend, over the course of a week, it just made sense to do an all-inclusive trip with CheapCaribbean.com. We knew that if we did go with an all-inclusive resort we would have the opportunity to do a timeshare presentation, and if we declined signing up for a timeshare, we would get a *free* gift. Whatever that gift would be and however long it took us to get, we were up for it! The gift turned out to be a complimentary massage!
A note about all-inclusive resorts: mostly everything is included! Starting with the airfare, cost of the hotel, cost of the meals, and sometimes the alcohol. Yes, you read that right! Additionally, the resort we stayed at has amazing WiFi all over! Even when we were on the beach, the WiFi still worked great! Our resort stocked our mini-fridge on the daily! It had things like soda, water bottles, juice, and beer. We did not have to buy any water bottles while we were there! We also were able to order room service at our leisure at no additional charge!
Now, my only drawback with all-inclusive resorts is that the food is not specialty food. I enjoy eating delicious made-for-me meals (and I usually default to a vegetarian-ish type of eating), and all-inclusive resorts usually have buffets as their main dining experience. Thankfully, the resort we opted for did include a dinner at a Teppan Grill -- which was fabulous! There was also a couple other restaurants there and that had delicious dinners! A steak restaurant and Italian restaurant.
However, when it comes to the activities outside of the resort, those will cost a pretty penny! So, be very careful when scheduling your excursions because those will add up very quickly. Pro-tip: Schedule an excursion that goes to more than one place, to get the most bang for your buck!
Importance of Traveling
I know that there are some people out there that would love to go on a vacation, but feel like they are hindered by outside circumstances. Perhaps you feel the cost of the vacation is too much to bear. Perhaps you feel like your work will not let you take a full week vacation off, OR that no one at your workplace should be filling in for you. Perhaps you think it will be challenging to leave your home and pets for the week. My guess is that because of any one of these reasons you have talked yourself out of going on a vacation!
Believe me, the pets will be fine with a family member or close friend watching over your home. It does not hurt to ask, and I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised when they do agree to watch over your home and pets. I would also like to mention how necessary it is for employers to allow you to take your vacation time that you have accrued throughout the year. It is in the best interest of the company as it is for yourself. Read this article if I still have not convinced you.
I've linked some of my favorite travel products, check them out on Amazon!
As you can see I am an advocate of taking vacations. There is nothing better than getting away with your loved ones to reset. You can even use it as a time to come together and set or create goals for the upcoming year or season. Here are a few health benefits that I have found to be true for myself when taking a vacation:
Taking a break from staring at a computer all the time is great for your eyes. I think the eye doctor even recommends to look away from your screen every twenty minutes. “Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.”
Your brain needs a break too! Give your brain the opportunity and space to think of other things aside from the everyday work/life decisions. While these decisions are necessary, it is also necessary to give space to other thoughts. When you take a vacation you are forced into situations where your brain gets to have different thoughts. What time is the plane leaving? Do I have all my belongings with me? Take a look outside in new surroundings and learn about nature from a different perspective.
Your body needs a break from sitting all the time at a desk. Your body needs to move! It's great to take your vacation on an adventure. Go skydiving, or ziplining, walking miles upon miles of new-to-you lands! Be adventurous!
In fact, when I returned back from vacation, my boss (from my day job) literally told me he was glad that I had gone and taken the vacation. I know that is not the case with many employers! I even had a former manager (years ago) tell me that the reason it is good to take vacations was for the employee to take a break from the employer. And then, he added, but the employer also needs a break from the employee!
“Let’s Do the Numbers” (said in a very Kay Rissdal way)
Traveling may feel like it can be expensive, but if you save up and plan for it in time by setting small goals for yourself you will find that it is attainable. Since the All-Inclusive resort pretty much included anything we wanted at the hotel, we were very mindful about tipping our servers. (Please be mindful and tip!) So, here’s our detail breakdown of our costs.
So, given our total cost of the trip was about $1,565 each person, if you were to save up for this in one year (with 26 pay periods), that is only about $60 per paycheck! If you have other priorities right now, like paying off debt, that is great! Once you get to a point where you are in charge of your debt, start saving for that much-needed vacation of yours! I also wanted to point out that the highlighted items are frivolous spending. We spent it because we had brought cash with us for that very reason. But, you do not have to opt in to spending this money. In fact, if you take those items away you would only need to save about $50 per paycheck for a year.
Always be on your guard. Especially if you are traveling into a foreign country, you can never be too careful about safeguarding your possessions.
Do check the government’s website for Travel Advisories here. It has a legend that shows you what the different levels of advisories represent. There are even some countries out there that are at level four!
For example, we went to Mexico, and the Travel Advisory was level 2! We did exercise increased caution, always locking things, double-checking our belongings, and the like. But, overall we felt very safe there, especially because most everything we did was very structured. The only time we ventured out into the city was on Sunday, and that turned out to be fine for us as well!
Tips For Booking Your Travel
Book during Black Friday weekend - Travel costs fluctuate all the time. Booking over the Black Friday weekend helps to ensure you will get the best cost available to you for future vacations.
Book an All-Inclusive vacation - This has the most cost savings benefits. They also vary from cruises..... Sometimes these all inclusive vacations include airfare, hotel, food, and alcohol.
Book an Airbnb - If you're headed to an area that does not have an all-inclusive vacation around then try your hand at booking an Airbnb. I went to Boston a few months ago for a quick turn-around trip (my cousin was graduating college!). I searched and searched and searched for the cheapest hotel, and could not find one under my price range ($100 per night). So, I went looking at Airbnb. I found this great place that had plenty of room for me (and another cousin of mine). I messaged the owner and the rooms were available! It was fairly easy to get around town from that location as well. I have had nothing but great experiences using Airbnb. I know that others have had questionable experiences. But, I think it is worth the minor risk, especially if it keeps you within your budget! If you have never used an Airbnb before use my code you will get a $40 travel credit, and I will get a $20 travel credit once you complete your first trip! #winwin
Left: Our itinerary // Right: At Tulum on one of the excursions