Despite my birthday having been a whole six months ago, I’m just now getting to share what I did. So whatever you’re procrastinating on right now, you’re probably doing better than me. Take comfort in that at least.
It was a milestone birthday for me and after some of the most difficult periods of my life, I was beyond ready to really treat myself. I originally wanted to go much further away but as the date rapidly approached it was becoming less and less fiscally reasonable to leave the states. I’m a luxury superfan but I refuse to pay a premium for something just because I didn’t book “early enough”. So I narrowed my travel bucket list down to US cities and decided on Miami. It has my three minimum requirements for vacation: beaches, parties and local sights to see. And I’ve been there twice before but never on my own terms. I didn’t do anything majorly epic but I did have a memorable and rejuvenating time in a city normally known for drunken weekends you can’t remember. So if you’re interested to know how to have an adult, instagramable vacay in a “played out” location, keep reading to see how I had a bomb warm weather vacay, no passport required.
SAVE: Don’t be afraid of discount airlines. Yes, we know Southwest is just AirTran with better marketing and all those flying Spirit memes are based on a true story but if your flight is 5 hours our less, there’s nothing wrong with humbling yourself a little bit in order to save a lot. Cheaper airlines are able to sell discounted tickets because they don’t average in the cost of amenities not everyone uses such as storage for checked luggage, in-flight meals and assistance from personnel. So if you’re a no fuss kind of person with only a carry-on you can save without making any sacrifices. We flew Spirit which charges extra for the ability to check in at the airport. Sound crazy but we actually saved time and effort through checking in through the app so it was a blessing in disguise. We simply went through security and straight to our gate! Bonus tip: take a super early flight (like 6 AM or earlier) so you’re tired enough to sleep through the whole thing. Plus you’ll arrive at your destination early enough to have a full day of fun.
SAVE: Stay at a boutique hotel. Honestly this can be a save or a splurge depending on how hard you decide to go but staying a boutique hotel can often give you the luxury look for less. When you stay at a Four Seasons or a Grand Hilton, you’re paying mostly for the name. So if you want anything more than your standard Queen room with tub/shower combo and no view, you’ll be paying a major premium. Like I mentioned previously, this was a milestone birthday for me so I was looking for the works. Oceanfront views, grand bathroom with soaking tub, etc. We ended up staying at The Boulan in a 1 bedroom, 1.5 bath duplex suite with roofdeck and balcony for $350 a weeknight. While this is by no means cheap, it’s still a fraction of what would of have paid for the same elsewhere.
Miami, particularly, is a great place to look into boutique hotels because the city has such chic and artsy aesthetic that the hotels try (and succeed) to mimic. And because they’re trying to compete with the luxury chain hotels, their attention to detail and interior design is often impeccable. From art deco to ultra modern you can find the ultimate backdrop for your #goals outfit post without even leaving the premises.
SAVE: Use Groupon for excursions and local attractions. One of the great things about staying stateside is the fact that you can use your internet researching skills to your advantage. Using sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp, you can search real life reviews for deals you find on Groupon and plan accordingly. I really wanted to do relaxing things like a spa day and a dinner cruise, all of which I found for a discount online. When traveling abroad, you tend to ask your hotel for recommendations and what they offer may or may not be the most cost efficient or even the best option.
SAVE: Travel with a local. This is the biggest tip whether you’re traveling across state or across the globe; go somewhere where you know somebody! Only a local can tell you where to get the strongest but cheapest drinks, where to get the best views of their local attraction and what to avoid because it only exists for tourists who don’t know better. In my case it was my boyfriend’s cousin who took us the “real” Miami where we got see fantastic local art, try some of the best donuts, and drink at a speakeasy that fronts as a taco stand!
SPLURGE: One item of your choice. So this is my big secret, I save on everything possible so that I have the ability to splurge on one big ticket item, no matter the cost. For me it was a uber luxurious hotel suite. For you it may be a dinner with wine pairings at a Michelin star restaurant or great seats to your favorite team play. The point is, pick that one thing so when it comes down to it you don’t have to compromise to get what you really want.
For the most adult vacation possible, stay north of 15th Street to avoid the all day drunken crowds. (You can always uber downtown for a taste of the nightlife). Beach front and adjacent hotels are the best bang for your buck because the have towel service that is either included in your nightly rate or available for a small fee. There are plenty of free and low cost ways to experience art like the Wynwood Walls and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
Lastly, don’t sleep on a spending a good day in. You’re on vacation to rest after all. Sometimes all we need are a few days away from responsibility and a plush bed.
Until next time,