|one of the rainless days. so beautiful.|
Soooo I pretty much had the best week ever. Jamaica was beeauuttiffull (despite record-breaking rainfall), our friends' wedding was a blast (despite being outdoors during record breaking rainfall), spending a week with friends in paradise is straight up good for the soul (despite record breaking rainfall), annndddd I got engaged! So I guess I'll start posting about planning a Broke but Bougie wedding soon? Anyway I don't like the sound of the word "fiance" but I do love the sound of "biance" (just say it out loud). And one note about the engagement: I think my biance may have a career as a jewelry designer- check out the sapphire ring at the bottom!
Anyway, in honor of an incredibly broke & bougie vacation, I want to spread the lessons I learned on planning a paradise vacation on a super tight budget.
Flights: Kayak Alerts are your best friend! Tell them where you're going and when, and they e-mail you a daily roundup of the best airline prices of the day (or week, or you can get push notifications on the phone). It's essentially extreme airline bargain shopping, but they do the work for you.
OH and don't forget to sign up for those frequent flier miles- they rack up fast (especially during wedding season) and you could end up with a free flight by the end of the year!
Lodging: The destination wedding was clutch when it came to lodging. We stayed at a resort that is usually $600/night for $175/night. I got a lot of recommendations for Riu as a more affordable all-inclusive option, and everyone and their mothers says Secrets and Sandals are the most amazing experiences for 24 hour room service, top shelf drinks, and 100% all inclusiveness.
Food and Booze: My brother used to sell timeshares in Cabo and I'm going to let you in on a little secret he once told me: you are almost never saving money doing all-inclusive. There are definitely times that all-inclusives are worth it and you are saving money, but we skipped that this time around, got a cab to the grocery store, loaded up on lunch meat, bagels (I know I fell off the clean wagon), bread, snack bars, beer and liquor. For $150 we had lunch, breakfast, snacks and a few suppers covered. We could also bop down the street to the famous Scotchies for jerk chicken, and eat at the hotel bar for $10. Again, the wedding was clutch as we had 3 meals paid for while we were there. All week we walked around with our own mixed drinks and beers at the beach and it was not a problem (and we weren't paying $10/drink either!)
Entertainment: This is where having a large group was crucial, and also traveling with a promoter didn't hurt either. We didn't need to go out that much as it was so fun to stay in and hang out with everyone and drink. We went out two nights to touristy dance clubs (Margaritaville and Pier 1) in shuttle buses coordinated by one of the guys in our group. We had a great time and drinks didn't cost that much at the clubs compared to DC. The bride also organized a catamaran tour for us one of the days which was great with such a big group. Couldn't recommend doing Jamaica with a group more for the entertainment factor.
Take advantage of deals: Some definitely seem too good to be true but Groupon Getaways and LivingSocial Escapes offer tons of awesome vacation deals. One of my friends just got back from a 7 day trip to Ireland where the $1200 Groupon she bought paid for round-trip airfare, activities, rental car, and 6 nights stay in the Ritz. And my mom did Jamaica last year on a Groupon Getaway. Just make sure to read on-line reviews of the companies offering the deals. Expedia and Priceline also offer last-minute deals for great prices. For cruises subscribe to cruiseline newsletters- Carnival sends weekly discount especially during off-season. Sidenote: we went on a ridiculously cheap carnival cruise last year because we booked two days after the infamous poop cruise incident. Timing is everything, people!
Annnnd for a look into our incredible vacay:
|gotta do the catamaran! rain or shine this is such a fun way to spend the day in Jamaica|
|I know. How beautiful is this? Almost want to have my own destination wedding!|
|I KNOW RIGHT?|