Girl on a Dime with Limited Time

If you’re just checking in for the first time, you missed my explanation as to why Get Up and Go was created. You can check that story out here, but long story short, I was tired of thinking that I was going to have to wait to travel to my hearts content. I no longer wanted to read or hear about other people’s amazing adventures; I wanted my own and I was going to figure out how to make that happen with limited time and limited funds.

Having moved around the country several times in under three years, it’s hard to save money between switching jobs let alone plan a vacation. I’ve been fortunate to have been traveling since a young age and the idea of not traveling is rather depressing. Of course, the reality of doing so is a bit different when your parent’s aren’t paying your way. After viewing pictures of several friends and acquaintances who were going on three week expeditions all over the world, I decided it was time that I made a move. If these twenty somethings, who I was pretty certain weren’t well off by any means, could make it work why couldn’t I?

So, I did. I am very happy to tell you that my determination has and will continue to pay off. We have now gone on a handful of small trips as well as a ten day Caribbean vacation in the last year. I want others to realize they can too! Below is a list of money saving, time managing, unsolicited advice.

Accommodations.

  • Airbnb: Pricing depends heavily on where, when, and who you are going with, but I’ve been very happy with Airbnb. It is great because you are sure to find something that fits whatever your needs may be and gives you the opportunity to experience your destination like a local. Homeaway is also great if you are traveling with a group or if you want the entire house to yourself. Just be prepared to pay a little more!
  • Groupon: We have used Groupon to book several hotels all over ranging from Best Western to Omni Hotels and have loved it. Not only do you find great deals, but all the details are plainly stated and the reviews are extremely helpful in aiding with your decision.
  • Hostels: I’m going to be honest, I’ve yet to stay at one myself, but many of my friends have and it can go either way! We are currently planning a European tour and I’ve seen some that look clean and welcoming and others that are…not so much. Things to consider while researching: Do you want a private room? (Expect to pay more for it). Are you okay with sleeping in a dorm style with men and women? (There are hostels that provide solely male/female rooms). Are you willing to be outgoing? Chances are someone will start talking to you, but that is usually a good thing! You can swap advice and maybe even make a new friend!
  • Hotels: I refuse to pay full price for certain things and a hotel room is one of them. Use a discount whether it’s AAA, Military, or a discount traveling website. My usual sites of choice are Booking.com or Tripadvisor.com. Great pricing, pictures, and honest reviews.

Transportation.

  • Flights: My go-to when it comes to purchasing a flight is Google Flights. It is amazing. It gives the option of tracking the prices (they will give you email updates), allows you to see when the lowest prices will be, and doesn’t limit you to just a few airlines. Plus, once you’ve selected your flights, you can immediately book. I love it because it saves me money and time.
  • Ground Transportation: I am a fan of paying little money to get to where I need to go. This is why I use Uber and/or Lyft. This service allows you to have peace of mind when traveling in a place you’re not familiar and you pay far less than what you would if you used a taxi. Plus, you get perks if you refer a friend! I got $10 off my first ride with Lyft because my friend invited me to use the service.
  • Walk: What’s the point in exploring if you’re seeing it from a window? Pack a pair of reliable and comfortable sneakers! My beau and I have made great use of this tip on most of our vacations and not only has it saved us extra cash, but we discovered places we wouldn’t have and burned some cals while doing so.

Food.

  • Meals: One of the best pieces of advice I could ever give you is this: research restaurants, bars, food stands, etc. before going on any trip. This will give you a better idea as to what typical food costs are in the area, what places are worth the $, and save you from paying too much for a meal simply because you chose the tourist trap. My husband loves Yelp because of the pictures and reviews. I usually start with Pinterest and then visit the main website to get exact pricing.
  • BYOB: And I don’t mean alcohol! Although that works, too. But in this case, I mean an actual water bottle. Whether you’re at an airport, hotel, theme park or sightseeing in Rome, it will save you money to bring your own. This may seem a bit much, but when you’re paying $3 or more for a bottle two times a day (not to forget the husband, friends, kids, etc.) that gets to be a bit much. I am super into these Vapur collapsable bottles! They are convenient,  inexpensive, BPA free and come in five different sizes with a clip attachment!
  • Pack Snacks: I know none of us go on vacation to live off of protein bars, but have a little something packed just in case! You never know when a delayed flight, long waiting times, midnight hunger or a little crankiness is going to happen.
  • Befriend a local: Learning where the locals go to enjoy delicious, authentic meals is sure to save you ridiculous wait times and marked up prices. You see, tourist traps aren’t depending on you to be a repeat customer which can lead to a costly and mediocre experience.

Sightseeing.

  • Excursions, tours, etc.: Whatever you choose to do, there is usually a less expensive way to do it. Once you’ve decided on your attractions, always check to see if prices change depending on time/day. Groupon is another good spot to check! With deals 30-70% off regular pricing, I’ve purchased tickets for museums, bus tours, and concerts from it! It is super easy to sign-up and use–trust me, you’ll be using it from now on. Additionally, If you’re a student, it never hurts to check if the excursion company offers a student discount!

Budgeting.

The truth of the matter is, no destination is out of reach–it just might take some time to get there. Don’t let your bank account sway you from an incredible adventure. Below are some changes we have made to help support our travel bug.

  • Whenever we are tempted to eat out, we either have to find an option that is $20 or less or make whatever we have at home work. Then we guesstimate what we saved and put that portion into our savings.
  • Track prices! I constantly research and pay attention to flight prices, overnight accommodations, cruising deals, and excursion discounts. For our Western Caribbean cruise, I checked out Royal Caribbean’s website for special deals weekly and signed up for newsletters. We ended up saving 60% on the cruise and 30% on excursions because of it.
  • 70/20/10 Rule. Each paycheck was divided between bills, savings, and vacation expenses. Within three months we had saved up half of the cost. (With cruising in particular, I highly recommend that you buy a few months in advanced so that it is paid off by the time you go and it gives you times to make payments instead of paying it all in one large installment.)
  • Pick up some extra shifts! When a co-worker calls in sick or the opportunity to work over time presents itself, be willing to do it! Then view that day as “one step closer” to paying for your dream vacation.
  • Give yourself a timeline! Set a date for when you want to go and stick with it the best you can. This will make reaching your goal seem less daunting and more exciting!

Taking Time Off.

  • Request in advanced: The more time you give, the more likely your supervisor will be happy to make it work. It will also give you time to get your affairs in order while you are away and request coverage if need be.
  • Take leave during low season: Generally, if you plan your vacation for the middle of summer or close to Christmas, not only are you going to have a harder time getting it approved, but you’ll be paying more, too. Rule of thumb: shoot for late winter to early spring (February-April) and early to late fall (September-November).
  • Don’t feel guilty: One of my biggest frustrations is that as Americans, we feel guilty for taking a vacation! Whereas in Europe, they’re required to have one (a long one) and it’s paid time off! I know we value hard work, but trust me, your work is not going anywhere. It will still be there when you come back and after a few days away from your desk, you’ll come back refreshed. If that’s not enough to convince you, picture this: Sitting in a bed, past your prime, unable to fly now because of health issues and the only memories you have revolve around work. Depressing, right?

Final Tips.

  • Stick to your budget, but plan on some wiggle room for unforeseen expenses that are bound to happen.
  • Carry mostly lower bills. Especially if you’re using a currency you’re not super familiar with. It makes it easier for purchasing souvenirs, tipping, and saving you the headache of constantly needing to get change. *Keep it in your front pocket*
  • Stay positive and focused. The only thing holding you back from going is yourself. Yes, life can throw crazy things are way, but it is also short. The time to live is now. So Get Up and Go.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” -Oscar Wilde

Xoxo

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