Traveling is something that I really love to do. I mean, who doesn’t?
But, let me be really real with y’all…I AM NOT A BIG BALLER OR SHOT CALLER (yet).
We got bills over here, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!
So, I have to make sure to thoroughly enjoy the adventures I am able to go on when I can. #Baecations (Vacation with Bae) are a MUST for me. Seeing things that I have never seen before with the one I love is mandatory. Therefore, we have to find ways to make it happen that fits into our current financial situation.
I want to take you through some of the details of planning this trip as a means to help you plan your own vacations. Planning trips can be hard, especially if you did not grow up traveling a whole lot, or just don’t know where to start.
Please read the fine print.
I am BY NO MEANS presenting this info as a travel expert (or agent), because I am NOT. But, I do think it can help someone else get started. I’m aware that there are more efficient methods out there, but I’m still learning too y’all. So, just take my experiences/advice and build on it. If it doesn’t work for you, no problem. If it does, GREAT! Glad I could help.
So, let’s get started…
How much TIME do you need to plan a good trip?
PLAN EARLY! For me, planning a trip as far in advance as possible is a sure way to make sure it won’t cause much financial stress. Early for me is about 4-6 months in advance. Even a YEAR in advance is cool sometimes. Trust me, I get it. You have to be able to still handle your regular life expenses. Setting aside extra money for a trip can be overwhelming. That is why you take the time YOU NEED. Make smart decisions! Cut back on eating out and other leisure activities if it will help you save up for a trip.
I decided that I wanted to take my husband on a birthday trip to Puerto Rico, for his Bday in February. I started planning for Puerto Rico around the end of September/Beginning of October 2016. This gave me at least 4 months to get things in line.
Puerto Rico is not apart of the United States, but it is US territory. Meaning, US citizens can travel there with no passports. This made the destination an easy choice, because we do not have passports yet. This cut out the expense of getting a passport right away. We decided to take this trip now, and get passports later. So, all I needed to focus on FIRST was booking flights.
I booked our flights at the end of October. After a month of comparing round trip fares with different airlines, and seeing flights fluctuating from $350/person on up, I finally settled on a Southwest Airlines Wanna Get Away deal.
We were able to get round trip (for the both of us) for $650 plus tax.
After taxes it was a total of $772.60 for economy class flights. Again, stay within the means of what you can AFFORD. If flying FIRST CLASS is not in your budget, do not waste money on that. There is nothing wrong with flying economy (or coach).
There are many resources you can use to watch flights and compare prices, KAYAK is a good one. I also follow Escape Houston on Facebook. They are always dropping gems on good flights to places all over the world.
Keep in mind flights vary based on the time of year/month that you are traveling. The more flexible you are with your travel dates, the better deals you can find.
*You can also use a professional travel agent that may help you find better deals on flights. There are also packages that may include flight and hotel. I have done this option before too.
Where to stay?
I decided to go with AirBnB for this trip. “Airbnb is an online community marketplace that connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations. Airbnb users include hosts and travelers: hosts list and rent out their unused spaces, and travelers search for and book accommodations in 192 countries worldwide.” – Investopia.com
AirBnB is one of the most affordable ways to date on finding lodging for your trip. You can search based on your specific desires. My desires were that we rent out an entire house/apartment (not just a room, which is also an option you could choose).
I also wanted to stay in a range of $60-$80/night for our Saturday-Thursday stay. Basically, I was searching for places that were HALF the cost per night of a traditional luxury hotel stay.
I ended up finding a cute apartment (with a 5 minute walk to the beach) for $72/night. That came out to $363 total!
Compare that to staying in a luxury hotel for $100+/night. Big savings! So, I was successful at cutting lodging expenses in half, and we got a FULL APARTMENT that even included chairs for the beach (saved on having to rent beach chairs).
Should you rent a car?
To rent a car or not? That was the BIG question! I had talked to other people who had been to Puerto Rico. Most of them rented a car to get around.
They all said, “Yes! Rent a car!”
Even with the suggestion to rent one, I went back and forth for months about it…literally up until the week before we left. I’ll be honest, I was working with a really, really, REALLY tight (YOLO) budget. I wanted to cut expenses in any way possible. Looking at rates with different companies, I was seeing that renting a car would have cost us about $300+. I honestly wasn’t trying to spend that if we wouldn’t REALLY need a car.
So, I decided to not get a car and just wing it with Uber.
How much did Uber end up costing?
We were staying in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan. The area we were in is called Condado, and it is a great location if you want to be within walking distance of the beach, food, and cool sights to see. However, I had seen so many beautiful pictures of different cities around the Island (shoutout to searching hashtags on Instagram). I knew for a FACT I did not want to be confined to Condado alone.
We decided to EXPLORE and ended up taking about 6-8 different round trips using Uber.
The grand total of all of our car transportation came out to $210.13. This total includes the $17 for a taxi to pick us up from the airport and take us to our AirBnB (Uber can’t pick up from airport, only drop off).
Important sidenote: We were blessed to meet a really nice Uber driver that gave us her phone number so we could contact her directly to come and give us rides. She took us to places that were outside of the Uber network, like the El Yunque rainforest. We just paid her directly for this. Uber does not work out there near the rainforest, because there is no signal! Therefore, if you know you want to go to places that Uber does not operate, you need to make those plans in advance so that you are not stuck out. My suggestion is to SIMPLY ASK! That is what we did and it worked for us.
Overall, we saved at least $90-$100 by NOT renting a car. I think that since we were traveling on a strict budget, not renting a car was best for this trip. We still got to explore outside of the city.
However, I would more than likely rent a car if we go back, because there were so many more places that I would have liked to see.
So how much total for airfare, lodging, and transportation?
We came out to a grand total of $1,348. That is about $675/person.
In my opinion, for a 5 day trip to paradise for two, that’s pretty good!
In part two, I will be sharing with you about the places we ate and the activities that we did during our stay. I will also be letting you ladies know where my swimsuit came from!
I hope that this little break down can help you if you are thinking of taking a vacation soon. I highly recommend Puerto Rico! This trip was so rich in culture, food, and beauty! It’s an investment that we definitely do not regret.
Spending money on memories that will last a lifetime is money well spent.