As someone who struggled with debt for many years, I can tell you that vacations didn’t come around quickly or very often. We just couldn’t afford them. Even when I was making more money, I had to put it all toward debt. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make at the time. During my four year debt repayment journey, I realized I could take little vacations, but they didn’t have to be to places which cost upwards of $1,000 for a weekend. Instead, we took little stay-cations around our city and little towns around. It’s a great way to “get away” from it all without breaking the bank.
I asked another blogger to fill you in on how to accomplish a luxury staycation, so please give a warm welcome to Sarah Li Cain from High Fiving Dollars. Take it away Sarah…
Just because you’re not making a lot of money, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a vacation every once in awhile. Despite what people think you don’t need to spring out for a fancy vacation to “get away”, relax or feel like you’ve done something fancy.
A luxury staycation can actually be the solution.
What is a luxury staycation? It’s actually vacationing in your own city, but you can do more five-star things. It’s really a win-win situation, because you get to save money, while getting to enjoy the finer material things in life. One of the biggest advantages I would also argue is it’s really stress free, because you save time traveling to and from places, at the airport (or bus depot). Not only that, but you can avoid dealing with large numbers of travelers who are frazzled, which can wreak havoc on you.
How Much Can You Save?
Of course, every situation is different, but for the sake of argument let’s say you want to fly to another country. You’re planning to go for five days.
In this situation, you’re looking at saving hundreds, if not thousands within those five days!
Even if you’re driving to another city or another state (or province, depending on where you’re from), you can potentially save hundreds of dollars.
So if you’re really hankering for a vacation, give a luxury vacation a try.
Let’s Look At Some Numbers First
Before we talk about some ways you can have a luxury staycation, let’s calculate the cost of a typical vacation for two people. Again, let’s make the assumption you’re flying to another country. I’m going to use a trip to Guam I went on last year with my husband:
- Airfare from Pittsburgh to Guam: $2000
- Hotel for five days: $500
- Transportation (getting around, airport transfers): $60
- Museum entrance fees: $50
- Beach related expenses (chair/umbrella rental): $120
- Food: $300
- Shopping (clothes, shoes, souvenirs): $120
Now that the numbers are there, let’s look at some ideas for a luxury vacation, and how much it will cost you.
Turn Your Home Into a Mansion
Of course you can’t add in a swimming pool, bowling alley or anything crazy like that, but there are definitely ways you can make your home feel luxurious.
What are some of the things you think of when looking at the lives of the rich and famous? They have lots of hired help, and surround themselves with beautiful things.
Here are some ideas to turn your home into a mansion:
-By high quality bedsheets (think Egyptian cotton, or something like that): Go to discount stores to save even more.
– Hire a personal chef: this person will come into your home, do grocery shopping and work around your dietary restrictions. Places like Hire a Chef and Kitchen Surfing make it so easy to search for one in your area.
– Hire a nanny/cleaner for the week
– Hire a home stager to rearrange existing furniture, or rent furniture for a few days
Take a few seconds and imagine not needing to travel anywhere and feeling like you’re in a whole new place, all your chores are taken care of and you can do as you please. Pretty awesome, right?
Don’t hold back thinking you need to only choose one. Go ahead and do all of the above!
Ok, let’s get down and dirty with the numbers (these are prices for five days, with the exception of the bed sheets):
-Hiring a personal chef: $250 – $350
-Hiring a nanny (8 hours a day) and cleaner: $450
-Hiring a home stager (with some furniture rental): $400
-Purchasing bed sheets (queen size): $150 – $400
TOTAL: $1250 – $1600
Difference between a typical vacation: $1550 – $1900
Keep in mind these are average numbers, and can vary depending on where you live. Prices can be higher or lower depending on local grocery bills, availability in discount stores, and how much you negotiate with hired help.
If you can’t afford to spend on all of the above, then don’t fret. Pick one that you think will really make you feel like you’re on vacation, and spend on that.
Stay in a Five Star Hotel Less Than Five Miles From Your House
If the thought of staying at home gives you the hives, consider staying at a five star hotel. In fact, stay there the whole time, take advantage of some of their spa services and still save money! Some hotels include breakfast, which means you don’t have to worry about paying for an extra meal.
To maximize your chances of feeling you’re in paradise, choose a hotel that you would never consider staying in because you think it’s too expensive. For example, I’ve always wanted to stay on a yacht, and searching on AirBnb showed me a ton of options for staying in sailboats instead of a hotel room. You should also look at the amenities the hotel provides, such as swimming pools, private beaches, gyms, or babysitting services. If you want to cook, some of these places may have kitchens.
Here’s what staying at a five star hotel for five days will typically cost you:
-Hotel: $1000 – $2000
-Spa Services (1 hour massage and facial): $250 – $300
-Food (depends on where you eat): $250
TOTAL: $1500 – $2550
Difference between typical vacation: $600 – $1650
Keep in mind if you stay at these places during peak travel dates it’ll cost you more. Also, some hotels offer spa packages, which can help you save money. You might save even more money on food, since you’re a local and know where the best deals are. Or better yet, hire a personal chef to come to your hotel room!
Still a bit freaked out a the price? Stay for less days, or opt out of the spa services if that isn’t your thing.
Groupon is Your Friend
Groupon and related sites are a bargain hunter’s dream. There are so many spa and other luxury services offered you’ll probably spend hours sifting through them. I’ve hired cleaners, gotten massages and facials and hotels at a steep discount from Groupon.
Here are some average costs on Groupon (differs from city to city):
-Manicure and pedicure: $15
-Massages: $20 – $30
-Cleaning services: $40
-Hotels: $80 – $100
A word of warning though: make sure you actually use what you purchase and read the fine print for the terms and conditions of use. It would be a shame to not be able to use your purchases and have it be a waste of money.
Hiring a Local Tour Guide
Have you really explored your own city? And even if you have, do you really think you’ve visited every place imaginable?
Take a backseat and be a tourist in our own area by hiring a tour guide. You get to tour your local area with a new set of eyes, you may be surprised at how much you didn’t know about your city. If you want to feel even more like a tourist, take public transportation if you can.
You can use services such as Tour by Locals or Showaround to help you find someone. They may even have unique packages you can choose from. Make sure to tell the tour guide where you’ve already visited, so they don’t take you to the places.
Tour guides cost anywhere from $15 – $40 an hour.
Here’s a breakdown of a tour that lasts 4 hours:
-Tour guide: $60 – $240
-Meal (one per person) $20 – $30
-Transportation (public) $5
TOTAL: $85 – $275
Difference between typical vacation: $2875 – $3065
Keep in mind that the typical spans five days, and this is technically only a day.
Will I Miss Out On Anything?
That really depends on why you’re going on vacation. If you’re looking to relax and spending time with family, a luxury staycation is a great option. However, if you’re really wanting to visit a certain landmark (like the Eiffel Tower), then obviously there’s no replacement for that.
Will you try out a luxury vacation? Let me know!
About the Author: Sarah Li Cain is the founder of High Fiving Dollars, a kickass blog showing you that loving your money is not only a priority, but a necessity. Download her free ecourse “High Fiving Your Dollars” so you can have a loving relationship with your money. Oh yeah, her son thinks she’s pretty neat too.
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