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If you live in an area where winter gets real, you know there’s nothing more satisfying than escaping the cold!

Although winter destinations are typically more expensive due to the holidays, avoiding tourist traps and peak season countries are the best way to live it up on a beach and soak in some sun for a few days. Here are a few of my favorite beach getaways for the end of the year that won’t break the bank!

Caribbean Mexico

Riviera Maya

Mexico is perhaps my favorite beach getaway destination. Mainly because the prices from Houston are so cheap around this time of the year! You can also expect to find flights less than $300 roundtrip from several cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. All-Inclusive resorts are always my go to in Mexico. In places like Riviera Maya, Tulum, and Isla Mujeres (all close to Cancun airport), an all-inclusive stay can help keep you under a $600 budget easily! Imagine traveling on a budget and coming back with money, umm hell yes!

Hawaii

Who cares if the volcanoes are erupting?! Just kidding…a little. Hawaii is truly a sight to see and winter might be one of the best times of the year to do that! Kauai is a beautiful archipelago in Hawaii and is best known for its lush rainforest and dramatic cliffs, just like the movies! Flights from Houston and other cities can be found for $350-$400, which is a pretty good deal compared to their peak season. Don’t worry about the weather either, November and December only get up to 17 days of rain a month…*Did you know that Hawaii’s nickname is the Rainbow state? I’ve experienced that first hand a few years ago visiting Honolulu. It rained so hard my first day, when the rain stopped I saw the brightest rainbow I’ve ever seen! That was also the only day of rain during my trip.

Dominican Republic

Who can deny the DR? The culture, the food, the beach! Punta Cana or Puerto Plato are still reasonably cheap in the winter from certain cities. Although you may pay into the $500s for a flight, this destination makes up for it in resort prices. Here you can find 4 star resorts for as low as $100 a night!

Ready to getaway? Schedule your travel quote here for only $20*. Packages as low as $481 per person, $200 deposit! (*Amount will be applied to travel if you choose to book a vacation package)

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How to get there: Fly United from Houston for under $200 roundtrip

Where to stay: Royal Decameron All-Inclusive Resort

Pros: All-inclusive, cost friendly, beachfront property, spa, extremely friendly staff, adult only area, nightly shows, daily activities

Cons: basic property features (boutique like resort), cannot swim in water, food is subpar

How to Book:

Directly on hotel website here

Book flight deals for end of April and May here

I turned 27 this month and spent it in the one and only place I could imagine bringing in a new year of life…the beach!

Since budget travel is my “thing” I set an amount that I would spend and came up with a birthday experience in Cabo San Lucas! I actually paid the most for my flight which was $375 when I booked but if you’re planning to go in March or April you can snag a flight for less than $200 (this is not a drill…book now here, but hurry back for the rest of the deets). My total trip to Cabo came out to less than $650 including the airport transportation…cheap right?!

I booked my stay at the Royal Decameron All-Inclusive Resort in Los Cabos for $80 a night! Yes you are reading this right. I couldn’t believe the price myself when I found it. I even called the hotel nearly every day to confirm my reservation because I just knew that was a mistake, but it wasn’t. The resort didn’t even hold any crazy high incidental fees on my card!

The place has a hipster vibe with strangely placed nude art pieces on each wall in main lobby. When I arrived I was greeted with a warm smile and a brightly colored, but strong welcome drink! Although I arrived a couple of hours before check in, I was able to have my luggage taken to my room immediately and raced to the beach…

The room was simple but extremely clean and the balcony view overlooked the courtyard where I had front seat views to the nightly shows. There are 2 restaurants on the resort, one is a buffet style spot that served a themed breakfast and dinner daily. The second restaurant is a cute beach front diner that served lunch and dinner. I opted for the beachfront restaurant first and had the chicken fajitas, ceviche, and nachos (why not right it’s free…ball out)! Washed that down with a rum punch and found the cutest papasan on the beach in the sun. After a lovely 2 hour power nap/sun bathing session I headed back to the room to shower and get ready for dinner at the buffet restaurant.

Dinner wasn’t bad at all. The theme this night was international and they were serving up fresh Paella as a choice which immediately took me back to Spain! Speaking of, if you haven’t checked out my recent article feature on the Flight Deal you can here…but hurry back!

After dinner I went back to the room to get situated in my seat on the balcony for the show. It was an interactive contest show that was so fun to watch. They put a group of women against a group of men to see who could score the most points in a music trivia game, beer drinking contest, and a pass the ball with your mouth game (imagine a group of strangers playing this one)!

The next day I woke up early for the birthday massage that I booked the previous day… $50 gets you an awesome massage right on the beach at this resort by the way. After my massage I sat on the beach for a few hours reflecting and expressing my gratitude to God for simply allowing me to grow and God replied to my gratitude with a beautiful bronze tan! All in all, spending my birthday on the Royal Decameron resort was amazing. I tried my two left feet at salsa lessons which I’m happy to say I’ll be looking for a dancing partner back home!

Are you planning to visit Cabo, need help finding a specific date? Visit travelgirlmagic.com/services to start your vacation planning today!

Sending good vibes,

Chels

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Times are changing rapidly! I remember when international travel was strange and unheard of where I’m from, now it’s become a movement…a beautiful movement. I have such a deep passion for travel that one of my true goals in life is to inspire as many people as I can to see the world. I’ve listed a few reasons why:

 

  1. Prices are going up: Starting April 2018, the cost to apply for your first American passport will increase by $10. Although this may not be much to some, the thought of an increase should be a telling sign that things are about to change…so get to it!
  2. You may need a passport to fly domestically: Yep…no more Miami beach trips pretty soon without the little blue book!
  3. The world is waiting for you: Of the 3 reasons listed in this post, this last one has to be the best reason to apply for a passport today. I was talking to my friend the other day about how beautiful the world is! It’s very interesting to me that some people live their entire lives in one place. Some people never even get to see the ocean in their lifetime. Don’t let fear, money, or another person stop you from seeing the world to the best of your ability.

What are you waiting for? If you’re ready to get the ball rolling on your passport application today I can help, just drop me a line in the comments or send me an email info@travelgirlmagic.com to schedule a passport consultation for free!

 

Sending good vibes,

 

Chels

 

 

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  1. Read time: 2.5 minutes
  • Destination: Madrid, Malaga, Marbella, Mijas, and Torremolinos, Spain
  • Budget: $1500 per person
  • Actual Amount Spent: $978 per person

A good friend of mines from London wanted to take a trip somewhere in Europe before moving to America in December, so in August I planned for us to take a trip to Spain. I found a super cheap last minute flight that I just couldn’t pass up, $450 round trip to be exact! Flexible trips are the best to plan in my opinion because you get the best deal and there’s an element of surprise not knowing where you’ll end up after your search. Although it took me 3 flights (I flew American domestically and Iberia Airlines internationally), and a long layover to get there it was well worth it! My outbound journey was IAH >MIA>MAD>AUD, but returning was much easier and more fun! My friend snagged us last minute tickets in first class on a high speed train, a first for both of us! So we took the train from Malaga after 4 days to spend our last day in Madrid, making my inbound journey MAD>MIA>IAH…much better!

I set off for Spain on a Sunday and arrived that Monday. My friend’s flight was booked perfectly and we met at the airport in Malaga, Spain at the same time!

We stayed in the semi all-inclusive beach front hotel Sol House 4 days for $180 per person, in a small town called Torremolinos. I really made that up but when I say semi all-inclusive it just means the hotel included free breakfast and dinner, no lunch or free alcohol. It worked out great because we were always out on the town for lunch and the alcohol was always cheap (like $3 for a glass of wine cheap)! I must say for all my American readers, a lot of hotels in Europe regardless of the country serves British cuisine. I’ll just say this, their breakfast staple is beans, eggs, and sausage (you have been warned). However, the best part about this hotel you ask…Coronado beach! One of the best beaches in Spain was our backyard for the next 5 days! *Bonus: So I met one of my cousins for the first time in Spain! It was amazing and not a coincidence that we happened to be in the same country at the same time. I learned so much from her and really got further confirmation during this trip that I am literally walking in my purpose.

During our time in Torremolinos we were able to visit the beautiful cities of Malaga, Mijas, and Marbella. Each city was a scenic $3 bus ride away!

In Malaga we ate Asian fusion and drunk tea at the foot of a beautiful cathedral, and caught a breathtaking traditional Flamenco show. I have to say this form of dance is one of my favorites, it’s so full of passion!

Mijas was a quaint little white town off the coast of Spain, we took a €10 horseback ride around the town and walked down a few of the streets to get these beautiful pics!

Marbella was another cute white town in the mountains. There was an old castle there that the locals have seemed to build through to adjust to modern times.

On our last day in Madrid we caught a great deal walking down through Torremolinos Marina. There were many companies offering boat rides (all for pretty cheap), but this particular one in the middle of the marina caught our attention with the cutest little catamaran. So for €10 a piece my friend and I got to take a beautiful ride around the sea!

We spent our last evening at the hotel pool and finished off a bottle of Baileys before packing to hit the road again. The next morning we were off on our first class adventure to the Malaga High Speed Train Station!

This was my first, first class seat on anything! I could definitely get used to the service you get in first class. I also prefer the train over the plane now for many reasons, but most of all because of the extra space (I’m a little leggy).

 

We made it to Madrid just in time to catch the sunset! We toured pretty much the entire central parts of Madrid on the rail system (€8 for 10 trips). We took a cab twice, once to get to the shisha aka hookah spot (where we got free shisha with the purchase of 2 cheap drinks like under €10)…that number seems to be a trend but that’s pretty much how our spending went! 

All in all Spain was an amazing trip. I got to relax on one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen thus far, met my new favorite cousin, toured the cutest white towns that would make you want to stay, had some great wine (every night), saw a traditional flamenco show that stole my heart, took my first high speed train ride in first class, and did it all with a friend! Couldn’t have asked for a better trip.

Signing off and sending good vibes,

Chels

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I got the idea to write this post from an article I read in the December issue of Money Magazine. The catch to this list was that many of the tips were actually encouraging you save money instead of make it, which takes me to my next point! 2018 is the year of “learning to love saving money”! Sounds strange, but the concept is a no-brainer! This year I made a conscious effort to start aggressively saving and when I say aggressively I mean just that. My biggest personal tip from my lessons learned are to save as much cash as possible (all 1s, 5s, and 10s) and if you absolutely have to “borrow” from your savings, pay your self back immediately! This year my goal is to “learn to love saving money” and I encourage you to reach for this goal too…

Here are some additional tips to make/save $1,000 by the end of 2018 to take a trip (yes you can go to an international destination with $1,000 trust me):

Tip 1: Boost your credit score-You may be tired of hearing how important credit is, but it’s true! Make an effort to pay all of your bills on time and keep your credit utilization under 10%. These small but powerful changes can be the difference in being a home owner vs renter for the rest of your life!

Tip 2: Skip the gym-Unless you have a home gym or a gym in your apartment complex, eliminating a gym membership could easily save you around $600 a year! Instead try using your body weight, resistance bands, and other exercise accessories that will give you the same results. Find a group of like minded friends and start a fitness club! Ever been to a group boot camp? These are much more fun than silently reaching muscle failure in the gym.

Tip 3: Get a roommate-This may seem like a no go, but if you’re single and don’t have any kids I would definitely suggest saving on rental expenses and getting a roommate. A savings of $300 a month could leave over $3,000 in your bank account at the end of the year! (Did you say Bali?)

Tip 4: Run errands-Here’s a way to actually make some money, and not just pennies either! Apps like Postmates, Instacart, and Task Rabbit pay up to $35 an hour to run errands and deliver good in your area. You do the math!

Tip 5: Use Groupon for wellness- If you’re a freelancer, small business owner, or anything in between, you know health care is not on the cheap side at all! Try Groupon for your routine check ups and exams. I’ve seen anything from a women’s annual exam to braces on Groupon!

Tip 6: Freelance- Have a specific skill? Sell it! Sites like Upwork and Fiver are great ways to sell your skills on your own terms.

Tip 7: Cut out meat (go Vegan!)- More and more we are exposed to the hard truth about the foods we consume. These days it’s either the meat is fake or processed in the most horrifying way. A plant based diet is not only beneficial health wise, but it saves you money contrary to popular belief. The average Vegan saves around $750 a year on groceries including the pricey items like olive oil! If you’re interested in learning more Nicole with Vegan Mom Lifestyle is a great starting place! She doesn’t force you into being a Vegan and has a great transition program!

Tip 8: Control your spending- This is by far the most important tip. If you have bad money management habits, all the money hacking and saving in the world will still leave you in the same place. Budget, Invest, Save, Repeat (all 2018)! To budget I like to use the Mint app, it is extremely detailed and uses a color coded system to show you where your money is going. It also gives you the option to set up allocated categories to stay on track, I seriously love this app! To save currently I’m doing it the old-fashioned way, but previously I used an app called Digit. Before I left the app I managed to save about $500 and left because they started to charge (just $2.99, but it was the principle). I’m strongly considering going back to using it because it was truly a good saving tool. Want to check it out with me? Sign up here! To invest I would suggest the Robinhood app, its great for beginners and you can pretty much put it on autopilot all while investing in brands you use all the time like Nike!

Tip 9: Maximize reward programs- When you start to travel and fall in love (of course you will), start to make your money make you money by using credit cards (Must follow step 1)! There are several cards like the Chase Sapphire Card that will help you rack up travel points in no time! The easiest way to do this is to use your credit cards for necessary expenses. Going grocery shopping? Charge that card! Need gas? Charge that card! But the catch is to absolutely pay that money back either immediately or at the end of the month.

Tip 10: Use all of your beauty products- Am I the only one that rushes to stock up on products when the bottle is near empty? Studies show that we are far less likely to finish using those products if we replace them before they’re empty, which in essence is a waste of both the product and your money. Makes a lot of sense!

 

“Small challenges lead to small wins, and it’s super empowering to see that you’ve actually saved some cash”

…Amen to that!

 

Sending good vibes,

 

Chelsea

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