International travel. You might want to move it closer to the top of your bucket list. Why? Not only is travel a fantastic way to expand your perspective and learn more about the world…it can also be a lot more budget friendly than you might think.
Mr. P and I were planning a trip to celebrate our first anniversary*. Neither of us has seen much of either coastline, so we started there. I
pursued studied stalked the usual sites: Kayak, Expedia, Travelocity, United Vacations, Southwest Vacations, Groupon, the whole shebang. Not only was I hard pressed to find air and a week’s worth of lodging** for $3,000 for both of us, but that price did not include food, drinks, sightseeing, transportation, nada. I resigned myself to the fact that if I couldn’t even get myself to California or Massachusetts for under those prices, there was no way I could afford to dust off my passport. Right?
Then, one night around 1 am, I found myself back on the website for Southwest Vacations. Out of
curiosity sheer frustration delirium, I hovered my mouse over the international vacation packages icon as I had done many times before. The only difference? This time I clicked. And I fell into the world of international travel.
Here’s what I learned very quickly:
- All inclusive resorts really are all inclusive: breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, room service, fancy drinks, non-motorized water sports, really fancy drinks hand-delivered by a butler. Did I mention drinks?***
- The Caribbean and Mexico are really affordable in the off-season.
- The off-season is summer, exactly when we were able to travel.
- A vacation package for a four-star (4.5 stars on TripAdvisor, thankyouverymuch) resort, airfare (plus Rapids Rewards points), and roundtrip airport transfers for eight days would cost less than $2800 for both of us.
- We were going to Punta Cana.
Not only did we have a wonderful time relaxing on the beach and taking advantage of all the wonderful amenities of the resort, we also booked a day trip that took us to a mango grove, a sugarcane plantation (also used to make rum, in case you wondered), and a coffee and cocoa bean farm. Plus, we were just a stone’s throw away from the markets and shops in the nearby town. It was the perfect combination of relaxation and culture.
So the next time you’re contemplating your bucket list, don’t rule out international travel. Instead, research the peak and off-peak times. Look for ways to score miles or points through a rewards program. Consider the fact that in many regions of the world, food and lodging cost just dollars a day. And remember that, above all else, travel is good for the soul.
*We are also both teachers. Once we got married, we made a promise to forgo presents and put the money towards the cost of a summer vacation.
**Much to the chagrin of Mr. P and frugal friends everywhere, I.Don’t.Camp. But I will do motels. And even those were crazy costly.
***Tips are theoretically included, but I would suggest tipping anyway. If you want to break the internet and keep your clothes on at the same time, start a post about tipping at all-inclusives on TripAdvisor.
So Tell Me…What’s on your bucket list? Would you consider cashing in some of your savings to travel? Do you have any favorite domestic or international destinations?