If your schedule is like mine, you probably find it hard to take time away for yourself. In addition to the cost of taking time off, travelling can be very expensive. I don’t like overpaying for stuff but I also recognize the value of spending time and money on experiences while I’m young. If this sounds like you, I recently discovered a cost effective way to feed your inner travel monster, without breaking the bank.
I call it a “Mini Trip”. A Mini Trip is 24 hours spent in a city of your choice. Yes, 24 hours. I know it seems too short, but trust me; you can pack a lot of stuff into 24 hours.
There are only 3 rules to abide by in order to successfully pull off a Mini Trip.
For my first Mini Trip, I chose Los Angeles, California. I had never been but always wanted to see what all the hype was about.
As a reminder, I live in San Antonio, Texas. We have a relatively small airport with fewer direct flights than other major airports. Knowing this, I decided to check out other airlines besides what I call the big 3: Southwest, American, and United. I stumbled across a little airline called Frontier, whose tag line is… “low fares done right”. They certainly delivered on this promise.
A one-way ticket to L.A. was $19. The return flight the very next day was also $19. Both flights were direct, and with the time difference, I only lost about an hour of exploring time. Because I was going for a day, I was able to pack very light in a messenger bag that fit perfectly under the seat in front of me. This allowed me to avoid any excess baggage fees that the airline charged.
Total cost for roundtrip airfare from Texas to LA: $46.90
L.A. is notorious for its freeways and terrible traffic. I knew if I planned too many adventures that were far from each other, I wouldn’t get to see as much. I mapped out my planned destinations and obtained Uber and Lyft fare estimates for each trip. The cost was a little over $100 for all my desired trips and that seemed too steep. So I researched rental cars to gauge the cost difference.
I know what you might be saying, “rental car companies get you with their insurance and protection packages, blah…blah…blah.” I said the same thing, until I called my auto insurance provider to ask if my coverage would extend to cover the rental. The answer was yes!
Total cost for my rental: $24.79.
Obviously, one of the most expensive things about traveling is everything you want to do when you arrive at your destination. Theme parks, concerts, beaches, tours, etc. All of these things cost money and given my short visit, I didn’t want to get tied up with a single activity. I went to a nifty website called timeout.com, which compiles places to go and things to do that are free in different cities. Here were my destinations of choice:
Total cost for tours, exploration, and activities: FREE
One of the reasons for selecting L.A. for my first Mini Trip was connections to a couch that I could crash on. If you can’t find a place to stay for free, I would suggest looking at a private room or semi-private room through Airbnb. Remember, it’s just 24 hours. I might have slept a whopping 3 hours, so comfort should be the least of your concerns.
Total cost for lodging: FREE
My best friend, Yelp.com, provided me with all the places I needed for cheap meals and happy hour specials. By planning out when I wanted to eat, I was able to locate a few restaurants that were cheap, good, and super chill. Those are my three requirements for any restaurant.
Total cost for food and alcohol: $85
My total all-in costs were approximately $156.69, and I had the time of my life! As you can see, with careful planning, and $200, you can be “that person who travels a lot”. Where will I go next? Not sure, but these Mini Trips are a game changer.
Jake Rivas, CFP® is a financial advisor and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at i*financial located at 1901 NW Military Hwy Ste. 102, San Antonio, TX 78216. He offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. He can be reached at 210-342-4346 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.