• Alexa Renee

#Transparency: This is how much my trips cost.

Not to knock other travelers, but I find they rarely disclose how much they're spending to go on a trip. They'll say things like "Stop buying Jordan's and buy a flight instead", or my favorite "If you just stopped drinking coffee everyday, you could afford this trip". Not only do I find this rhetoric alienates the well traveled from the untraveled, I think it also serves to turn people away from traveling. Often times, people are just not well versed on how to travel, budget and plan for a trip!


Anyone else tired of seeing these posts on Instagram???

Now, I'm a bit hesitant to write this post because, to be completely honest, I'm that type of girl who refuses to look at her bank account. I will go days without checking my app, just praying to the good lord himself that my charges will go through. Financially irresponsible who? (Mom and Dad if you're reading this I'm still investing into my 401k).


This entire post is about transparency. I recognize I exist in a unique privilege to be able to afford to travel. Here's a couple things you need to know before we start:


- I pay very little in rent, which allows me to save a good chunk of my paycheck to travel.

- I can afford to save my money as I make enough income to cover my student loan debt, credit card, phone, and other bills and incidentals.

- I'm a government contractor. My contract requires me to take 4 weeks of unpaid leave, hence the reason I'm able to leave so often.


Additionally, here's how I save money:

- I use other people’s Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now subscriptions #citygirlsummer.

- On top of my government contractor job, I make additional income by selling baked goods and as a professional choreographer.

- I take the metro every day and use transportation benefits to pay for that.

- I try (EMPHASIS ON TRY) to limit eating out to three to four times a week.

Rumors I'd like to address:

- My parents do NOT pay for my travels. The last thing my parents paid for was my flight to Namibia in 2017, as it was my graduation present. I had to pay for everything else on that trip. Since Namibia I've traveled to 10 countries on my own dime. If my parents are giving me money on a trip, it's because they want me to bring them back alcohol.


- I do not have a sugar daddy. This is probably the funniest rumor. There is no 60 year old man sponsoring me to travel the world... (but if you're interested send me a quick email I'm trying to see something). I, again, finance all of my trips.


Let's get to it. In this post I'm going to outline EXACTLY how much I spent on my trips to Bali, Puerto Rico and Peru and I'm going to tell you how I could've saved even more money.



Trip #1: USA->China->Malaysia->Indonesia->Hong Kong->China->USA (14 days)


Flights:

DC-> Beijing 195 USD

Beijing->Malaysia-> Bali 134 USD

Bali->Hong Kong 134 USD

Hong Kong-> Beijing 127 USD

Beijing-> DC 195 USD


Total for flights: 785 USD


For reference, the average flight from DC-> Bali, Indonesia is close to 1000-1300 USD. I picked up 5 different countries for 785 USD.



Accommodations:

Beijing: first two nights 152 USD; last two nights 172 USD

Bali, Indonesia: 7 nights 400 USD

Hong Kong: 2 nights 237 USD


Total for 2 weeks accommodations: 961 usd or 480 USD per person


Food, Excursions,Transportation: 750 USD



Grand total: 2,015 USD


Yes y'all, that's a lot of money, but I visited 5 countries and had accommodations for 13 nights.


Let's compare! It's hard to find a tour similar to the one we took but here is an example of 2 week Asia trip:

15 days Bali, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong: 2,999 USD. https://smartours.com/asia/bangkok-singapore-bali-hong-kong-tour/


And remember that 2,999 only covers accommodation, flight and some tours. It does not cover all meals, activities and other travel fees.


My most expensive trip to date was my little world tour in Asia. Close second was my trip to the Bahamas (1400 USD). Can you believe that? It was my first time staying on a resort and my first and LAST ever trip with my ex (#Iwantmymoneyback).



How I could've saved money on this trip:


Hong Kong, right outside our Airbnb

Cheaper Accommodations:


The amount you spend on your accommodation directly depends on your comfort levels. I’m perfectly fine staying in a 4-person room in a hostel. I was traveling with my Aunt and was not going to subject her to #hostellife. Hostels in South East Asia are very inexpensive.


For us, Airbnb and hotels were the most practical options due to comfort and accessibility. I traveled to China on a 144-hour transit visa. One of the conditions of the visa is that if you’re staying in an Airbnb, you must report your location to the Chinese police once you arrive. I am a stickler for rules, so staying in a hotel seemed hassle free and the safest option.



Stop eating out, Alexa:

I'm a woman with expensive taste who loves eating out. We, on average, ate about 2 meals a day. We did frequent a couple of restaurants in Bali, which started to really add up. We also had a fancy Peking duck dinner in Beijing, which was worth it but rather pricey. We could’ve saved more money by eating street food and buying groceries.


Trip #2 Puerto Rico (5 days)


Flight:

DC->San Juan:250 USD roundtrip

I used some credit card points to pay for this trip which brought down the ticket cost from 388 USD to 250 USD.



Accommodation:

4 nights in Airbnb: 162 USD per person


Transportation:

4 days of car rental: 117 USD per person


Uber: 20 USD per person

Gas: 10 USD per person


Excursions/Food: estimated 100-150 USD per person


Total Cost: about 674 USD


How I could've saved money on this trip:


Purchase flight further in advance: My coworkers and I, on a whim, decided to book this trip. We traveled during Memorial weekend, making this flight a bit pricier. We booked this flight a month in advance. Had we booked a little further out, the flight would've been cheaper.

How could we say no to deep fried food?

Grocery shopping: The best part about staying in an Airbnb is access to a kitchen. In hindsight, we could've saved money by buying groceries. But- Puerto Rican food is delicious, so how could we not?


Car Rental: I think renting a car in Puerto Rico is a must do! Rachel, Kelly and I had an interesting time planning this trip. By interesting I mean we literally forgot to plan? We ended up booking our car rental 2-3 days before we left, meaning slim pickings and expensive options. Additionally, since I'm 23 years old, we paid an extra 22 usd per day for the rental.



Trip #3 Peru (9 Days)



Flights:

DC->Lima->Cusco->Lima->DC:

530 USD


Accommodation:

Hostels: 80 USD per person for 8 nights


Transportation:

44 USD


Excursions/Food: 150 USD

(Ticket to Machu Picchu was 84 USD)


Total Cost: 804 USD



How I could've saved money on this trip:


To be honest, I spent very little on this trip. The most expensive thing was my flight! Special shout out to my travel partners Ellie and Milena for sticking to a budget. Instead of taking the 150 USD train to Machu Picchu, we took a bus from Cusco and hiked over train tracks. We stayed at hostels, which saved us a lot of money. We also rarely ate out! We bought groceries from the market and ate pan con palta (bread and avocado) for a lot of meals. Peru is a very inexpensive country and their street food is to die for.

I hope you all appreciate the transparency! As I go on trips, I plan on continuously updating this post! I'm serious when I say you can make trips as cheap or as expensive as you want. If you want money saving tips, please read my other post on how I find cheap flights! And make sure to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss my tips and secrets to traveling cheaply.


Happy tripping to you all!













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