My experience vacationing in Puerto Rico, and how to travel on a budget!
One of my goals for 2017 was to start vacationing more. I do believe that when you speak things Into existence, they will happen! So here’s how I made this trip a reality….. 

One of my girlfriends from work came to me and asked if I would join her in Puerto Rico for her 30th birthday & my first response was “girl I have bills to pay. I can’t afford that” fast forward a month later & I was twerking in Puerto Rico ! Haha. My friend travels a lot, I’m talking 3-5 times a year. So it only took her a couple of minutes to convince me to go, and I was all in. 

From the time we arrived in San Juan, until our very last hour being there, I absolutely loved it! The hospitality was amazing! Everyone treated us with respect no matter who they were. The temperature was in the mid 80s. It did rain a little bit, but not enough to ruin our vacay. The area we stayed in was San Juan, Puerto Rico on the Condado Beach. One thing I do love about this place is that there are no suburbs vs projects like in most cities. On one side of the street you will see a Hilton resort. On the other side of the street there will be an abandoned building. Now don’t get me wrong, there are lower income neighborhoods but even then it’s nothing I’m not already used to. It shows just how authentic the place really is. From the trees, to the mountains, to the beaches, everything is just beautiful!!! 

Me personally, I’ve been on 3 vacations with friends. From Panama City Beach, Florida to Las Vegas, Nevada. I can honestly say, this trip to Puerto Rico was absolutely the BEST one yet. There were 5 of us in total, and surprisingly there was no drama at all haha! As for saving and budgeting for vacations, I’ve always been terrible at that. In the past I’d usually be the first one to run out of money while on vacation. I would be so embarrassed because I’d either have to act completely cheap or swallow my pride and ask one of my friends for a loan. 

Now, I haven’t mastered the art of budgeting and saving just yet. However, this was the first vacation I went on and actually stayed on budget and saved an adequate amount of money! So here are a couple of tips for vacationing if you’re like me and find it hard to travel smart! 

1. Use 3rd party apps such as Priceline, Trip Advisor, Booking.Com, AirBNB etc. when finding cheap hotel rooms, rental cars, and/or flights! Trust me, it may seem a little skeptical at first, but the sites are trusted and it will save you a ton!

2. Plan out your events ahead of time. Having a daily itinerary of events saves time and money on your vacation. Plus, having daily itineraries decreases boredom on vacation. Without prior planning your vacation will be very unorganized and that causes everyone to get frustrated.

3. You don’t need a ton of money to enjoy your vacation! The total cost of my Puerto Rico trip came out to $1,400 at the most. When planning a vacation keep in mind you are paying for experiences, so there is no need to be materialistic. Unless you really can afford to be!! For example, when choosing a hotel, if you can’t afford a $300/night room, then don’t cash out on one. Hotels are meant for sleeping and showering, keep that in mind!

4. Budget out each day before you go on vacation. For example, maybe you want to spend $75 on Friday then $150 on Saturday. Those are things you should already have planned out BEFORE you get there. That way, you are not over spending & it forces you to be smart about your purchases.

5. Always, always, always, keep an emergency stash! Unexpected fees and charges are very common during vacation. So having that extra emergency stash will help you out a ton, trust me! 

6. BE OPEN MINDED. Keep in mind, while vacationing you will see a lot of true colors. You will be asked to join in on events that you wouldn’t regularly do. So in these cases, try your hardest to refrain from being the Negative-Nancy or Debbie-Downer! Try to remain positive and be open to trying new things, after all, you are on VACATION!!!! Vacations are meant to experience NEW things!

7. Do not over dress or spend a ton of money on new clothes and shoes. Trust me, you won’t even wear everything you pack! And if you are one of those travelers that has to change wardrobe every hour, you’ll probably be ruining the trip for Everyone else! Be considerate! If you have clothes and shoes that you haven’t worn before, don’t be afraid to pack those with you. This will save you a ton of money on shopping for new items. Trust me, trust me, trust me, vacations are NOT fashion shows. Lol

8. Eat cheap! (If you can) ideally on vacations you and your crew will eat at least 2-3 times a day. So every meal doesn’t need to cost $30-$40. Now if you happen to stumble into a 5-star fancy restaurant, then yes, cash out. But if you’re just going to the local diner or sandwich shop, try to only spend $20 or less, including the tip!!!!

9. Invest in quality portable chargers! Cellphones are so unpredictable. One minute your battery will be on 99% then after taking 5 pictures your battery will drop down to 60%. It happens. Always have your charger with you or invest in a good portable charger! You never know what could happen or what site you may see. Regardless, You need to be able to access your phone so keep that in mind!

10. Be smart. Be considerate. Be savvy. While vacationing think about the petty purchases you’ll be making. Taxis and Uber’s can be a little expensive. In one weekend you can spend up to $200 alone. My advice to you is not to be afraid to WALK! If your destination calls for a 10 minute walk, then gather up your squad and make it the best walk ever. But there is no need to always pay for transportation. Ask your hotel if there is a shuttle that’ll transport you to & from the airport. If you’re doing activities, always make sure the host site will pick you up from your hotel, many tourist places do this. Buy small snacks and drinks from the local convenience stores. Many places try to get over on tourists. They will charge you $5 for one bottle of water if you let them. Be smart. Buying small snacks, bottled watered, and alcohol from the local stores will save you SOOOO much more money in the end! Also, keep in mind, you may be balling out of control, but there is someone in your crew who is not. Make sure to do things everyone can afford to do that’ll still guarantee a great vacation! 

At the end of the day, I encourage any and everyone to leave their hometowns and travel!! Always remember, you are a GLOBAL CITIZEN and the world is literally yours. For me, traveling has humbled me in many ways. I know for a fact I am truly blessed to have visited the places that I have. Many people will never have the opportunity to travel, so when I do, I take in every little opportunity and thank God! 

I know convincing family and friends to travel with you can seem like you’re begging or pulling teeth. If that is the case, find yourself a trustworthy group of friends who do love to travel! For me, I am blessed to work with a great group of people who love to work, get money, and travel. Even if I can’t convince family and close friends, I know I can always depend on my work group to be down! If all else fails, travel alone! It’s 2017, people are traveling alone. You don’t have to feel weird about it. Trust me, it’s way less stressful to travel alone then trying to plan a trip for 3-5 people! 

In the end, the world is yours! You don’t need a million dollars to explore it. Live life to the fullest. Finally, don’t ever let bills & responsibilities keep you from traveling and enjoying life!! Those bills are going to still be there regardless! Hey, my motto is: it’s better to be poor from traveling, but rich in experiences! Haha.

XoXo,

Derrae Davis!

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