BY MARYANN AKINBOYEWA
Summer is just around the corner and my friends and I are planning our annual girls’ vacay. I believe every AlphaBabe needs time away from the office and her busy life to relax and unwind with her best girls. But before you get to the bottomless mimosas, brunch and beach Snaps, you have to think practically about your finances.
It’s not the sexiest thing in the world, but you’ll thank yourself later when your budget still exists at the end of your trip.
Taking the time to budget a vacation will eliminate that awkward spending guilt that pops up when you know you burned through your savings in Miami with your girls. Don’t worry—I’m here with tips to help you plan a budget-friendly getaway.
Repeat after me: “I will not purchase a flight I cannot afford!”
Now say it again, just for good measure.
You and your girlfriends have to decide: will you travel domestically or internationally? Both can become expensive, but with the following travel hacks, you’ll be able to find something decent.
- If you’re traveling domestically, consider low-budget airlines like Southwest, Spirit, or Wow air. I often take Southwest when I’m traveling from Florida to my hometown of Washington, D.C. It’s a short flight and Southwest gives cheap deals and two free checked bags.
- If you’re traveling internationally, make sure travel planning takes place 3-5 months before your actual trip! Don’t try to book a flight from Los Angeles to Paris for June during June. Prices will be outrageously expensive.
- Understand that there are peak times for travel. Tickets tend to be a bit higher in June, July and August because it’s summer and lots of people are traveling. If you and your girls are wanting to plan a budget-friendly trip, consider booking it during months such as September, February, March or April.
- Sign up for alerts from cheap flight aggregators such as Airfarewatchdog. Each day, I get emails from sites like this that alert me about cheap outgoing flights from my city. Score!
- Use a site like Skyscanner where you can quickly search domestic and international flights. You’ll see options from all airlines so you can compare prices.
I would advise creating a budget before your trip. You want to try to price out every expense. This could include:
- Plane Ticket
Before going on the trip, have a conversation with your friends about what your budget looks like. The worst feeling is being dragged along to expensive attractions and restaurants and coming to the realization that you can’t afford it. To avoid this potentially embarrassing moment, talk to your friends before the trip.
More people are beginning to opt out of hotel stays because no one is ready to drop $200 a night. There are so many other affordable housing options:
- AirBnB: With AirBnB, you can rent an entire apartment or home. I’ve found this to be a cheap option particularly when you’re sharing with friends. Be sure to chat with the host beforehand to make sure your selected housing is exactly what you want.
- Hostels: Before you turn your nose up, recognize that not all hostels are created equal. There are beautiful hostels located within the United States and abroad. Do your research and make sure you’re getting what you pay for.
- Stay with a friend: Do you have a friend in the area who would be willing to house you and your friends? Ask! I love when my friends come stay with me in Florida. It’s a win-win. They get to save money and I get to see my friend every day!
Remember that budget I suggested you create in Tip #2? Here’s where you can’t break it. When you’re on vacation, you may feel tempted to splurge on fine wines and $100 dinners; but it’s really important that you know how much you can afford for each meal. You must stick to your numbers!
I love a good night out on the town with my best girls, but before I go out, I always glance over my budget and decide on what amount I can spend that night. Once decided, I do not go over. I order items within my budget.
Before any trip, my friends and I usually create a shared Google Doc where we place ideas for our destination. We include everything from restaurants, bars, attractions to “must-do’s.” This way, we’re not only able to plan our trip, but everyone can gauge what they want to do and create their budget accordingly.
Pro Tip: Eat like a local! A lot of money can be spent on food that isn’t that great. I prefer to stay away from the pricey tourist spots and scour out what the locals are eating instead.
Other Tips for the Traveling AlphaBabe:
- Don’t buy the first flight you see! Wait and check the prices every couple of days. Search around all possible airlines. Pro tip from my financially-savvy BFF, Danielle: “Just make sure to clear your cookie history because they raise prices when they see you’ve been searching for flights a lot.”
- Try to go places where you don’t have to rent a car. With Uber and public transportation, there is really no reason for the extra cost of renting!
- If you can avoid it, don’t check a bag! Often times, checked bags means additional fees. Avoid this by bringing a small chic carry-on suitcase instead.
Happy vacay, ladies!
Maryann Akinboyewa is an AlphaBabe in the making. She’s passionate about helping women succeed in work, life and business. Say hello @himaryann.
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