Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Vacation when you're BROKE

Firstly, didja notice my lil' blog makeover?  Do you like it?  I think it's puuuuuurty.  My other layout wasn't nearly as purple.  I like purple. :) 

Anyhoodle, as some of you may know, I'm going to NYC again next month to visit my big sister!  I can't wait to see her and catch up and visit.  It's gonna rock.  

Something will be different this time though - I won't be using a credit card.  So I won't be able to buy nearly as much crap (or go ape-shit with buying frilly drinks, frilly food, and frilly uhm... other frilly stuff.  Whatever - you get me!). 

SO - how does one still enjoy their vacation without spending a big hunk o' dough?  Heck if I know!  I'm still trying to figure that out!  But I have some ideas I'd like to try out (and share with you while I'm at it)... 

1.) Plan ahead
I've been working hard at figuring out my plan of attack way ahead of time so that I don't go into this unprepared.  I emailed my sister and gave her a heads-up that I'll be on a budget this time around (which she was thrilled about since she's trying to save money too), I've been searching free stuff to do in NYC while I'm there (see #6), and figuring out how to mentally prepare resisting temptations.

2.) Set up an allowance
I know this sounds kind of lame, but I think it will help.  My fella, John, kind of inspired me with this one.  Whenever he goes gambling (which isn't all that often, mind you), he lets himself use a set amount of money, and when it's gone it's GONE.  I think it'll be a great way to keep myself in check.  I'm holding back on spending on things now so that I'll have more money for my trip - I might spend every dime of it while I'm there, but at least I'll know how much money I have and how much I can use!  And if I'm careful, I might even come back with a little leftover - which would be totally rad!

 Money don't grow on trees, ya know.  Although wouldn't it be kinda nice sometimes?

3.) Do a big fancy dinner... ONCE
I gotta do a nice dinner.  There's something so awesome getting everything you want - appetizers, wine, dessert - and having some nice person bring it all to you, then take all the dirty dishes away.  I think I can allow a little bit of moolah to allow for a nice little splurge... as long as we only do it once!  

4.) Sign up for Deal of the Day sights for the city you're heading to
You know what's great about Groupon / Living Social, and all of those other Deal of the Day websites?  You don't have to just sign up for your hometown - you can add any city you want, and get deals for those locations too!!  You gotta be careful with this one though.  You can't be tempted by every facial / massage / restaurant that they post.  Remember, you're only going to be there for a short amount of time, and what if you don't even get to those places?  Then you've just thrown away money!  If you definitely know you're going to want to hit up a certain restaurant or event then they're great.  But you don't NEED to get a facial.    

Love is greater than money.  Shit YEAH it is!!

5.) Bring lunch or a snack along with you wherever you go
Pretty self-explanatory.  Lunch at a restaurant can cost anywhere from $8 (if you're being cheap), and closer to $20 if you get a beer and/or appetizer, or an entree.  I'll be in NYC for 4 full days, so even if I'm going the cheap route, that'd be $32 saved - $80 if I do my usual "vacation splurge"!  I told my sis that we're going to hit up the grocery store first thing & make some sandwiches for lunches instead. 

6.) Look for free events
There is a ridiculous amount of free events going on in New York in the summertime.  But guess what - there are tons of free events happening EVERYWHERE!  You just have to look for 'em!  Do a Google search, go to the city's website.  You can find film festivals, street fairs, all kinds of events that are super fun at no cost to you.  

7.) Use cash
When John and I were watching "Romancing the Stone" the other night, Kathleen Turner says to Michael Douglas "I'll pay you in traveler's checks".  John turns to me and goes, "Do people still use traveler's checks?" to which I replied, "I have no idea!"

I know it probably sounds wrong for me to advise for you to carry a bunch of cash around with you when you're traveling.  But I think you're pretty safe in most places (as long as you're smart about it), and as long as you're not going to a place overseas that's notorious for pickpocketing.... and you're not staying in a hostel (I've heard way too many stories of people getting their things stolen from hostels)!  It's just another way for you to know how much money you're spending at a certain time.  And if you're following step #2, it might be a good idea to set up a Daily Allowance (ex: if you've saved $400 for your trip, bring $100 cash with you for each of the 4 days you're there).  I'm terrible about keeping track of credit card spending when I'm on vacation - and I always come home with a huge bill!

 I'd probably be better about hanging onto my cash if the bills looked like this.

Anyway, I'm no professional financial advisor, but that's my two cents (har har). ;)  And this is a good thing to remember at all times anyway.... 

All images from


Cecilia said...

That was a great post. I keep wanting to go somewhere and those are some things to keep in mind. Thanks! Oh, and I do like the purple too.

Beth B said...

Happy to help!! :) Thanks for reading!