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07 March 2008

How to Travel with Style on a Budget

Here is an oldy, but a goody from my now defunct (and usurped by some evil ad machine) former blog...I am republishing because at the time I first published this I had a readership of 5.

1. The friends and family plan: Combine vacation with a visit to a long lost friend or favorite family member. Excellent reasons to opt for staying with known, instead of the cheap and sketchy unknown: a sparkling clean bathroom and a bed with a much less questionable history than the one you would be crashing on in a Motel Six. You can use the money you save to buy your hostess a fabulous gift, such as a lovely diptyque candle. Treat yourself to a night or two alone in a posh boutique hotel, which you can only afford for that long anyway, to completely unwind just before returning home.

2. Stay a little closer to home: So, you don’t want to spend your hard earned vacation with anyone else, except perhaps your sweetie. You could opt to stay a little closer to home (drivable or train accessible). Often we never experience the wonders in our own backyard. One my good friends lives in Idaho, yet she rarely visits Yellowstone National Park. A few days in one of the fabulous ranches near the Park, or at one of the quaint and affordable lodges in the park would be a great little weekend retreat for her. As a resident of New England, there are many adorable costal towns and bed and breakfasts with in an hour or two of Boston. I have always wanted to go to Maine

3. Short and sweet: You could shorten your stay away from home, without actually shortening your vacation. I would rather spend three days in the lap of luxury than a week in a room that smells of stale smoke and rocks all night long from the club next door. That is, unless you plan to party the night away in the club next door, in which case, in many parts of the world, you will also reek of smoke and will be too tired to even notice the room (perhaps you found cheap tickets to Ibiza). In any case, if only taking a short break, you can finally take off the time you need to “recover” from vacation before going back to work. But first, take off one day before departure. Pack, shave, get a mani and pedi at your favorite guaranteed fabulous local spot and arrive at your destination already looking like a goddess and feeling relaxed. After your short, extremely indulgent break (because, the entire point of the short break is to really live it up during those three days) take a day or two before returning to work. Unpack your shopping spoils, make yourself decadent four course dinners, go shopping at you local spots in the middle of the week and marvel at their emptiness and improved service. Pretend to be a lady who lunches. Take the time to relax all over again.

4. Kitsch, baby, kitsch: Road trip! Embrace the grossness. Stay at cheap motels. Eat in road side dinners, love those waffle house hashbrowns…I’ll take mine scattered, smothered, covered and diced. Make a rocking road mix. Pick a scenic route. Visit “South of the Border,” the tacky roadside tourist trap that has cheesy billboards for 100 miles in every direction imploring you to stop. Then, book a full day in a spa to degrunge when you get home. Hello, full body scrub. Especially fun to do with the girls.

5.Traveling light is for ugly people: When, in your entire life, other than you own wedding, will you be most photographed? On vacation!! So, it is important to bring along your full beauty kit. Finally, you have the time to accomplish the perfect blowout! False lashes? Wear then with abandon! Nothing does more for a girl in photos than thick dark lashes. If they fall off, who cares…the only person that will ever see you again already loves you unconditionally.

6. To elaborate on point five: you should never vacation with someone who does not love you unconditionally, you will probably regret it. I don’t mean the person has to be your husband or family relation, but if you are going to travel with anyone else you should make sure in advance that you are travel soul mates, because nothing brings out the quirky and the crazy like schlepping through a foreign city. For example, there are very few people who can indulge my needs: to stop and look at EVERY stationary shop and/or shop with something sparkly in the window, to spend twice as long in the museum gift shop as in the actual museum, to find and eat the local deep fried delicacy (fish in London, pizza in Scotland, rice in Rome, Snickers in the south), and to take 50 pictures of a single perfect cherry blossom. I’ve driven many a travel companion crazy, I’m too much of a lady to tell you about all the travel companions that have driven me crazy.

7. Bring along your room d├ęcor: Pink scarves draped over harsh hotel lights do wonders for a girl’s complexion (or the appearance of it anyway)—check out goodwill. Candles! Hotel rooms STINK, the hotel rooms you will be able to afford (unless you are on plans 1-3) will definitely stink. Go to a fabulous bar on your first night and pick up a matchbook gratis-fire doesn’t fly the friendly skies. Invest in a little travel picture frame and a chic travel alarm clock, buy quality because these things will be with you the rest of your life. I love this travel frame from Smythson. Perhaps, bring along your own 600 thread count pillowcase and silk PJ’s, so at least your body is enveloped in luxury as you sleep. Target sells both. You can stuff your dirty laundry in the pillowcase for the trip home, just make sure the maid doesn’t make off with it accidentally when she changes your sheets.

8. The little luxuries: I love-love-love pamper packs from Boots in London. Individual servings of hair mask, face mask, moisturizing foot lotion, etc. Everything you need for a little spa evening after a hard day of touring the city on your feet. Stateside, stock up on free samples from CO Bigelow or Sephora and go to town!

9. Don’t wear ugly clothes in transit: How did velour tracksuits ever become fashionable? Just the term “velour tracksuit” conjures the worst possibly images in my head. Stereotypes like the dowdy middle aged woman from New Jersey with bottle blond hair and dark roots or vapid trailer-trash popstars jump through my mind, decked out in full on pink with elastic waistbands. Respect yourself, wear something chic. I have no idea why people think they have a license to dress like slobs on an airplane. Comfortable and classy are not mutually exclusive. Miss Collegiate USA wearing that cami sans-bra and those sweat pants with UC on one cheek and LA on the other: I am talking to you. Yes, you have lots more time to spend at the gym than me, and you are too exhausted from exams and frat parties to make an effort, but literally catching a glimpse of your T&A when you bend over to retrieve your ticket breaks the laws of common decency. Who knows? If you dress up, maybe the stewardess with decide you look way too first class to be sitting back with the cattle and give you an upgrade. A girl can dream, can’t she?

10. Last, but not least: Don’t waste your money on glamorous luggage unless it is your carry on, and then defend your right to carry it on the plane with your life, because they will try to gate check your precious package. Luggage gets lost, it gets damaged, and it goes missing for days at time. If you spend your hard earned dollars on luggage, you will be that much more heartbroken and annoyed when something happens. Buy glam luggage only if you are rich enough to painlessly replace it or if you find it at TJ Maxx. I have seen Tumi at the local Marshalls, sadly still beyond my budget L.

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1 comment:

The Budget Babe said...

everyone has to see south of the border at least once. preferably once! haha :)