People often ask how I save money on vacation and I give them a lengthy reply. So, I decided to write it all down and put it on the blog. I know, from experience, that it’s easy to blow your budget in areas you hadn’t even thought of.  So, here are my tried-and-true tips for saving money on vacation!

1. CREATE (AND STICK TO) A DAILY BUDGET

I cannot stress this point enough! It’s easy to blow your budget when you have no idea how much you can spend each day. For instance, if you have $2000 for a 4-day trip then you should determine how much you want to spend daily.

For example, with $500 per day for a family of 4 you have to think about 3 meals a day, transportation, shopping, and sightseeing. If you have a small budget then you’ll need to be creative to make it work but it can be done. *If you’re staying in a vacation rental be sure to budget for groceries. Just having a budget won’t do you any good if you don’t look at it, update it, and stick to it.

2. PICK A GOOD LOCATION

Saving $50/night on a hotel or vacation rental outside the city sounds great, right? Not when you factor in the cost of transportation to the city. You’ll probably go back to your apartment twice a day and if it’s far it could end up costing more than you saved on the location.

3. BOOK A VACATION RENTAL

I’ve written about this before and you can read it HERE. If you’re on a budget, the best thing you can do is rent an apartment through VRBO, Airbnb, Flipkey,  or Tripadvisor.  There are plenty of reputable companies to choose from.

4. PAY IN ADVANCE

It’s possible to save money on transportation and sightseeing when you buy your tickets in advance. We purchased train tickets from Venice to Rome 2 months before our trip and saved 25%! You can also buy tickets for museums and monuments early. Don’t forget to check with the local tourism board because they usually have tourist cards with big discounts. The biggest benefit for paying in advance is not having to factor those costs into your daily budget!!

5. PLAN AHEAD

You don’t have to make an itinerary that goes hour-by-hour but you should have one that goes neighborhood by neighborhood. What I mean is, make a list of all the things you want to do then categorize it by neighborhood so you don’t spend time/money going back and forth. Even if plan your activities over multiple days, it can still work by neighborhood.

6. USE THE ATM

I like using the ATM when I arrive instead of exchanging loads of cash – plus, you skip the hefty fees. If your bank does have fees, it’s still better than exchanging at a kiosk. However, most places (depending on the country) take credit cards with a chip. If you don’t have a credit card without international fees, consider getting one if you travel frequently.

7. GET INTERNATIONAL DATA SERVICE OR A LOCAL SIM CARD

Trust me, this will be worth every penny! The last thing you want to do on vacation is hunt for wifi. We have the T-mobile international plan and it gives us unlimited data and texts in over 140 countries. It’s the best thing ever!!! If you can’t get an international data plan, purchase a sim card in the airport when you land. They’re pretty cheap but your phone needs to be unlocked for it to work.

8. USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Don’t waste your money on taxi cabs and uber rides! Get familiar with the train, the bus, or use your feet to get around. Of course, if you’re going across town and you’re in a hurry then cab it. But, don’t spend extra money just because you’re afraid of public transportation. In most European and Asian countries, public transportation is clean and easy to navigate.  Also, not all but some cities in the U.S. have great public transportation.

san francisco street car

9. SPLURGE ON ONE MEAL A DAY

Don’t spend a ton on food! Don’t get me wrong, saving money is not more important than eating local fare. One of the main reasons my husband and I travel is to eat!! However, we usually stick to pastries, local bread with jam and coffee for breakfast. This can run you $5-7/pp depending on your location. For lunch, we try to spend less than $10/pp and eat portable, street food. Dinner is where we like to go all out. We order a bottle of wine, whatever main course we want and we even have dessert! We don’t have a budget for dinner.

This is where your vacation rental can save you money. We like to stock our place with wine, cheese, bread, various deli meats (which can work for any meal), snacks and coffee.

10. HAVE A POST-VACATION FUND

If you’re like me and spend every free penny on vacation only to get home to surprise/forgotten expenses, this is for you. If you have a budget, I’m guessing you’re not independently wealthy so be conscious of how much you need when we get home. You can easily work that into your overall vacation budget.


I hope my tips will save you money on your next vacation! I’m in the planning stages for my next trip and I’m taking my own advice. 🙂 Do you have any tips, tricks, or advice to save money? I’d love to hear about in the comments.

OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT LIKE:

5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Vacation

Funjet Vacations – Pay For Your Vacation Over Time

(Be sure to pin for later!)

I’ve been to Mexico plenty of times but this was my first time visiting Cabo San Lucas.  The hubby and I had been working hard for months without a break so we decided to take a short trip.  We flew from LAX to SJD on a Tuesday and returned on Friday.  I’m a flight attendant but for this trip we purchased a direct flight on Alaska Airlines and were able to upgrade to first class, for a small fee.

Once we arrived in Cabo, we walked out to meet our shuttle driver (we booked a one way trip online with the hotel’s recommendation for transportation).  I read a few reviews of Cabo and knew to keep walking past the people at the airport who try to sell you timeshares and excursion but one guy looked very official and said he was with airport tourism board. Looking back, that sounds pretty suspect and it was.  He said to talk the man at the desk to coordinate the shuttle pick up.  Unfortunately, they were trying to sell us an excursion and as soon as we realized it we took off. Moral of the story: DON’T stop on your way out of the airport in Cabo.

All the shuttle drivers are outside and have nothing to do with anyone inside.  Finally, we stepped outside, had a drink at the bar and boarded our shuttle to the RIU Palace (about 45 minutes from the airport). After the long drive, we arrived at our hotel, checked in and unpacked.

Our first order of business was to take a look around the resort and plan our attack for the next morning.  So, we hit the bar (I mean, it is all-inclusive) and took a short walk along the beach. Later that evening, we had dinner and watched the Michael Jackson tribute show.  This show, unlike the one on the Carnival cruise, was great!  The dancers looked like they were having a great time, the music was upbeat and the impersonator was pretty spot on. After the show, we went to bed so we could wake up early for breakfast and stake our claim on a chair at the pool!

Day 2: Most of our day was spent drinking at the swim-up pool bar, eating at the seaside grill and napping in between! At first we were worried about not knowing anyone at the resort but it didn’t take us long to make friends. We met 3 great couples who we laughed, lounged and took shots with.

After spending the day soaking in the sun and the stunning view of the Sea of Cortez, we all decided to escape the compound and check out Cabo Wabo! What a fantastic night!  Cabo Wabo is one of the most popular spots in Cabo San Lucas for live music and a good time and it didn’t disappoint. The band was amazing, the energy was great and the company was even better. Normally, it could be awkward when going out with a group of people you don’t know but this was not one of those times. We knocked back tons of cervezas and a few shots and danced to a mix of live music and a Dj playing old and new music! I highly recommend a trip to Cabo Wabo if you haven’t been.  Back at the hotel, we had a few more drinks and finally went to bed around 3 am!

Day 3: This one was a bit of a blur!  All the drinking and dancing at Cabo Wabo definitely left us a little worse for wear but not too much because we all went back again!  Even though our hotel was all-inclusive, it was nice to get out and see what the city had to offer.  However, I spent many, many hours looking at this view!

Day 4: Our last day – We woke up around 8am, had breakfast, and booked a water taxi to take us to the Arch, Lover’s Beach and Lands End.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get on the boat from our hotel and we had to take a 20 minute trek along the beach to get to the the water taxi.  Let me be honest, about 20 pounds ago this would have been a cake walk but I was huffing and puffing like crazy.  Plus, I’m sure all the food and booze I had in the previous days didn’t help my physical state. However, I’m glad we decided to do it and I’m glad we did it on the last day because it gave us something to focus on besides going home.  Seeing the Arch, Lover’s Beach and Lands End up close were definitely highlights of this trip.

After the tour, we had lunch overlooking the beach and hung out with our friends one last time. We had the most amazing time with this group and I’m convinced we made lifelong friends. We’re already planning our next group vacation! Next time you’re on vacation, be sure to meet new people and have new experiences because they last a lifetime!


Do you have any vacation friends that have become like family?  Tell me about it in the comments below

 

As you can see, I’ve been away from my blog for a little while and that’s mostly because I’ve made some major changes in my life and career.  Most of you know that I’m a flight attendant but I recently changed companies and I’m now working for mainline instead of a regional airline.  This change took me away from home, my husband and my dog for weeks on end but I could not be happier with the change.   However, if I’m being completely honest, I have to admit that it’s taking a little while to get used to because I’m commuting between Los Angeles and my new work base.  So, I feel like I’m always on the go and that led to me getting sick with the flu and not being able to shake it for a few weeks. I’m still feeling a bit sick but I’m trying to make the most of it and get some writing done in my down time.  Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who is super supportive and he’s all for me following my dream and looking at the bigger picture.

I’m still getting used to the new job and living the life of a commuter but things are starting to calm down and I can finally start thinking about my next big adventure.  My poor hubby has been working like crazy on his latest project and he’s itching for a holiday as well.

Some of the places we’ve thrown around are Costa Rica, Cabo San Lucas, Aruba, and Thailand (top of our list but there’s no way I’ll have that much time off as it takes a full day to get there and back – not to mention the two weeks we’d like to stay!).  We’ve also talked about taking a 5-7 day Mexican Riviera cruise out of Los Angeles.  It’s hard to choose just one because we’d like to just run away for a month and do nothing but rest and relax and any of these destinations would fit that bill.

As we plan, I have a feeling we’ll be more budget minded on this trip so we can take multiple trips this year.  I love traveling the world but I also like being debt free and you really can’t do both if you don’t plan, save and keep an eye on your budget… and stick to it.  We could  spend thousands on this week-long vacation or we could find an affordable option that allows us to pay it off not long after we return thus freeing up money for our next trip later this summer (and if I have my way, another trip late fall).

Once we decide where we’re going I promise to tell you all about it!  In the meantime, I still have tons of stories to tell you about the trips we took last year including Italy Part III: Rome, Thailand (Bangkok & Koh Samui) and China. Please stay tuned for more Travel with Mia.

Where do you think we should go for our next adventure?  Are you planning any big trips this year?  I’d love to hear your travel plans, suggestions for my travel plans and/or details on your favorite destinations.  Leave your comments below!

Everyone knows, Paris is the city of love and sometimes it’s referred to as the city of lights!  What you may not know is that it’s also the “city most likely to pick your pocket.” Now, let me clarify, I don’t mean the seedy criminals who prey on unsuspecting tourists at every popular location.  I mean the city will, literally, pick your pocket.  Expensive meals, transportation and sightseeing will drain your budget faster than you can down a bottle of French wine and if you’re anything like me, that’s pretty fast.

Here are my top 3 tips to keep your travel budget in check so you can enjoy your vacation and not feel like you’re pinching pennies.

TRANSPORTATION

Most people think taking a taxi is the quickest way to get around Paris and that’s absolutely not true.  The Metro (subway) is the best way to get from one end of the city to the other and it’s quick and cheap.  However, you have to be careful how you purchase Metro tickets because they can add up.

Tip #1: Buy a day pass/2 day pass/weekly pass for the Metro depending on the length of your stay.  Not only is the cost less expensive per ride but you’ll save yourself some frustration when you enter a station that doesn’t have a ticket machine or booth.  I found out the hard way and had to walk around looking for another entrance where I could purchase a ticket.  Save time and money, buy a Metro pass!

 

SIGHTSEEING

So, you’re in Paris and you want to do all the cool things you see people doing on Facebook and Instagram.  That’s cool but be warned that $h!t isn’t cheap. Visiting the Louvre will set you back 12 euro, Eiffel Tower (summit access) 15 euro, the catacombs 10 euro, and a boat tour/dinner cruise along the Seine River anywhere from 40-100 euro.  I think you get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should skip the cool sights and experiences.  I’m just saying you should be prepared by knowing how much things cost and how to minimize those costs.

Tip #2: purchase a Museum pass (2-day 42 euro; 4-day 56 euro; etc…) and it will give you access to many of the sights on your list.  For example, the 2-day pass allows you to visit the following (click to enlarge) :

(Disclaimer: this photo was borrowed from the website below)

As you can see, if you were to purchase each ticket separately it would run you ~ 103 euro instead of 42 euro!  Check out this website for more information on museum passes.  http://en.parismuseumpass.com/

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD

Let’s be honest, we all want to go to Paris and drink fabulous wine and champagne, eat fresh baguettes, sumptuous cheeses and macarons by the truck load.

Well, let me be the bearer of bad news, that costs money too.  Luckily, there are a few ways to save money on certain meals so you can splurge on the good stuff at least once or twice a day.

Tip #3; If you’re renting an apartment or staying in a hotel, hit the market and buy fresh croissants, baguettes, meats ( if you have a fridge) and delicious jams for your morning snack.

It’s much less expensive to people watch from a sidewalk cafe if you just order coffee. Breakfast, like every other meal, can add up quickly so have a bite at your place then head out for a coffee or two.  (Side note: at some cafes a can of coca-cola costs 5 euro, that’s close to $6.50)  Also, grab a few bottles of wine at the market because they’re good and super cheap… don’t forget the corkscrew!

(Left) 5 euro (Right) 3.5 euro

(Left) 5 euro (Right) 3.5 euro

Tip #3 – Part two: For lunch, skip the sit down, fancy restaurant and grab a panini or a savory/sweet crepe from of the many street stands.  To be honest, when I lived in Paris, my favorite meal was a caprese (tomato, basil and mozzarella) panini and it only cost 3 euro!  Or, if you’ve been on your feet all day, find a small cafe off the main street (these are usually less expensive) and have a croque monsieur or croque madame (super yummy grilled cheese sammy  – the madame come with an egg).  These sandwiches tend to be more affordable as they’re considered snacks.

Tip #3 – Part three: Happy Hour!  Yes, happy hour is always a good idea!  In Paris, happy hour tends to have more drink specials and less food.  (Side note: at one happy hour we ordered two divine 5 euro cocktails and a 6 piece order of microscopic samosas that cost 15 euro – no joke, but damn good.)  So, go for a drink or two before you splurge on a fancy dinner since you saved all that money on breakfast and lunch!

If you’re smart with your money and you have an idea of what you want to do during your stay it’s easy to stay on budget.  I hope these tips will help you enjoy your next trip to Paris, or anywhere for that matter.

Happy travels!

Mia