Part 3: 11 nights of bliss for less than $3000

A few weeks ago I started this blog series because I get questions all the time on how we can afford to travel so much, and what we do to save money while we're on a trip. I'm really open about how much we spend and what we get on our vacations without having to cut corners, sleep on park benches, not bathe, and eat three meals a day because I want my friends and family to know that taking glamorous, gorgeous, and relaxing vacations to tropical places can be affordable-- it just takes some planning and budgeting to make it happen. :)

I was particularly proud of the fact that for 11 nights this past March, we were able to fly to Florida from Portland, stay for four of those nights at a Hilton Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, rent a car, drive to Miami and Key West, take a cruise on Celebrity's gorgeous ship the Silhouette {staying in Aqua Class!} with a balcony room, free drinks, $150 on board credit and free gratuities, eat as much food as we wanted, and visit Grand Caymans, Cozumel, Jamaica and Haiti... all for $2700-- roughly $122 per person, per day. 

My previous post included some of the websites we used to plan and save money on the cruise-- including booking only two months in advance when many of the deals can be found. We could have saved even more money I imagine by going with a cheaper cruise company like Carnival, or even downgrading our room to an interior room. We probably could have knocked off $700 from our total price and still got to see some amazing places, but the type of room we had in our cruise made it all worth it because it was as close to the lap of luxury as I've ever had before... :)

Here is a day-by-day breakdown of what our costs were each day:

Flights: $500 ($250 per person)
Two nights of a hotel at the Hilton Hotel Fort Lauderdale via Priceline: $85 x 2= $200 (with tax)

Day 1: Pick up rental car ($11 a day through Priceline); check into hotel and grab some appetizers at Seasons 52 {an amazing Florida restaurant by the way!!}

Day 2: Explore Fort Lauderdale-- drive to the beach, share a burger for lunch, lay out, share happy hour for dinner. Total cost: $45 (food, gas)

Day 3: Turn rental car in, pay $8 for a taxi to the Fort Lauderdale cruise terminal; check into the ship and find our gorgeous room. Lay out, read, listen to music and get our vacation party started!

Day 4: At sea day. No money spent-- we had free drinks, free food and just read, relaxed and napped in the sun all day. 

Day 5: At sea day. Repeat day four all over again. :)

Day 6: Arrived in Cozumel. It was rainy this day, so we did not do anything except walk around downtown Cozumel. T bought some knock off Ray-Bans for $10 and we went back to the ship and relaxed. 

Day 7: Grand Cayman. Hired a private taxi driver to take us on a three hour tour of the island-- rum cake samples included. :) $20 per person ($60 total with tip)

Day 8: Jamaica: Went to a beach excursion which was so bad, Celebrity refunded our money. Walked around downtown Falmouth and then hung out on our ship again. Nap, eat, read, drink, repeat. $0 spent. 

Day 9: Haiti: Zero cost day again. We walked around the beach but didn't spend any money. Repeat day 8 as well. :)

Day 10: At sea day... no money spent... you get the picture. ;)

Day 11: Arrive back in Fort Lauderdale, check into Hilton hotel again for $85 a night, rent our car again for $11/day, drive to Miami and walk on the beach and grab apps again at Seasons 52 for dinner. $25 spent on dinner. 

Day 12: Drive to Key West (gas bill was around $35 because we had a Fiat), dinner at an amazing BBQ joint coupled with Key Lime Pie. Total cost for the day-- $75. 

Day 13: Turn in rental car, free shuttle to the hotel, free breakfast at hotel, fly home. 

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13 days in paradise, and our total cost for the entire adventure was $2700-- food, gas, cruise, hotel, tips, sightseeing, drinks, flights, etc. We saw new countries, met a lot of new people and rested more than we knew we needed. So worth it!

You CAN make your vacation dreams happen! You just need to look for deals, set a budget and work hard to make it happen. You don't need to skimp just because your budget might be small. You also need to hit that big button that says "book" at the end of your reservation planning page... ;) 











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