Don’t have the money?

It seems that when I get ready to go on holiday my friends, family, even colleagues assume that I make a generous amount of money to afford to go abroad.  The reality is, I do earn a decent living but not the amount that some may think.  IMG_9558-1I know what my priority is in life, it is to see as much of the world I can before life catches up with me.  In 2012 I received my first passport and I didn’t use it until I took a cruise in Mexico, however I received no stamp *womp womp*.  Two years later I end up in England and trekking across Europe to Paris, France and Bruges, Belgium.  I now have made a personal goal to make one international trip a year.  As you may have read in “Destino Costa Rica“, I ventured to Central America and enjoyed the laid back Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.  I haven’t quite decided the next destination for 2016.

So how do I do make it happen?  It’s not as hard as it may seem.  Set your mind on a goal, find your inner will power, and make it happen!  Here are some methods that I have used in the past to set money aside for my travels.  Maximize your saving potential: utilize more than one method simultaneously.  IMG_9559-1  First off, I always have $150 automatically deducted from my paycheck and deposited into a savings account.  My savings account does not come with a debit card and the credit union I bank with does not have many branches so it is literally impossible for me to withdraw money unless I make a point to do so.  The inaccessibility of my savings account works for me in this instance.

Next up, I have always liked using the 52 Week Savings Challenge.  Week 1 you will set aside $1.00 and then Week 2 you set aside $2.00 to deposit into your bank account.  This progresses throughout the year.  In theory (if you haven’t dipped into your savings), you should have $1,378.00 by the end of the calendar year!  There are many variances of this savings guide.  You can try A Penny at a Time or enjoy it BINGO! style.

There are many more ways you can take advantage and save even more, yes more, money after monthly bills are paid and the money you’ve set aside from the aforementioned savings plans.  You can even implement the Dave Ramsey Envelope System.  I haven’t tried Dave Ramsey’s plan yet, but that is my mini-goal for next month.  Please check out the below sites for more ideas on how to cut costs and save money:

  1. 10 Ways to Save $1k This Year by Refinery29
  2. 15 Ways to Save Money Everyday by Frugal Living Mom
  3. 41 Ways to Savy $1000 a Month by The Peaceful Mom

Do you or your children have any gently warn “in-style” clothes?  Gather the items that aren’t being worn anymore and you can sell them to places like Plato’s Closet. I bet you have some old books, records, etc.  You can also sell those to places like Half Price Books.  Side note:  please do not expect large amounts of money from this method, but every little bit helps.

I feel that if you truly want to travel you will find a way to make it happen, regardless of how meager or generous your income may be.  I hope I was able to help you with new ways to save money for your travel needs.

If you have any methods to saving money that aren’t mentioned here or in the links provided above please comment above and share!

love always, tiffani

a trip of a lifetime | part one

I saved an entire year for this trip.  I hadn’t seen my favorite cousin (not that I’m playing favorites or anything) in years.

whitney, uncle robert, me
whitney | uncle robert | me

August 2015: Upon arriving to Heathrow Airport in London, England I was anxious, excited, and a multitude of other emotions I cannot describe.  Quite frankly I couldn’t believe I left the United States.  The flight was relatively painless, but trying to find my find my car service was not.  After about one hour the driver realized he was at the wrong terminal, swiftly located me and got me on my way to Cambridge, England (about 90 minutes travel time).  The countryside was absolutely breathtaking and it wasn’t raining! Then I arrived on a quaint street filled with row houses…

Searle Street
searle street

After I got settled in we took a walk across The River Cam for my welcome lunch at Las Iguanas, a Latin American restaurant.  Side note: they have a fabulous happy hour.  On our walk back across The River Cam we had about a 20 minute downpour and then the sun came out again.  Later that night we met up with her beau and went to the neighborhood pub, The Carpenter’s Arms.  It was only about a 5 minute walk from her house.

The next morning we woke up and left Cambridge early for a 3 hour drive to Stonehenge.   As we made our way down Highway A303 and we began to approach the entrance to Stonehenge. You could see it from afar up on a hill.  It was breathtaking, magical, and many other adjectives that have escaped me.  There were hundreds of people there wanting to see “a bunch of rocks” as my cousin said.  Yet in the same breath she also expressed that you can’t come to England and not see Stonehenge!

stonehenge
stonehenge

With our self-guided tour we were able to utilize audio tapes with headphones as to guide us through the grounds and offer commentary of the structures and artifacts we saw.

You can learn more here, but long story short there were several phases in completing Stonehenge over a 500 year period.  Construction began around 2900b.c. and ending in 2400b.c.  The fact that I enjoy history and learning about the past to understand where we are now, this truly was a blessing to experience.  On our way back to Cambridge we saw a brown sign with a directional arrow and the words “Windsor Castle”.

me + windsor castle
me + windsor castle
me + windsor castle
me + windsor castle

The next thing I knew the car abruptly exited the highway as we attempted to navigate the road signage and roundabouts to make our way to Windsor Castle.  As we drove into Windsor, England the castle was grandeur and the city was literally built around it.

There were shops and eateries surrounding the mass.  While I was there I found out that Windsor Castle is the Queen’s weekend home.  After we took pictures around the castle.  We found a food stand and ordered the classic fish and chips.  I still cannot get over eating mayonnaise with chips (french fries), although I did give it a honest try, I eventually opted for ketchup instead.  The malt vinegar was surprisingly delicious with the battered fish as well.

fish + chips
fish + chips

I’m a gal that likes ketchup mixed with hot sauce on her fried fish and french fries.  When I travel I like to stay away from American chain restaurants and eat at local restaurants to enjoy their fare; it’s always interesting and fun!  After lunch we continued our way back on Highway A303 towards Cambridge.  Traffic was not in our favor on our way back to town.  When we arrived we parked down the street from my cousin’s residence and then took the brief walk again across the River Cam for some drinks and food.  It was very lively as it was a Friday night so we stayed out a bit longer that evening.

walking along the river cam
walking along the river cam

On our way back to the house we stopped by a wine shop and purchased miniature bottles of champagne.  We sipped straight from the bottle on our little stroll.  Once we got back, it did not take me very long to fall asleep.  I needed all the rest I could get, because we were headed to London that following morning for the weekend.

destino costa rica

We’d been planning this trip for 6 months and finally the day had arrived. Our first official international girls’ trip. Destination Costa Rica! After much research and asking advice we decided to go in October. We knew it would be the low season for tourists and on the cusp of the wet season, so there would be great chance of showers. We were okay with that possibility. We were more excited about being one with nature and submerge ourselves with the culture.
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As we landed I had received a text message from United Airlines stating that my luggage would be arriving with a later flight only problem was we weren’t even staying in San Jose for 12 hours. San Jose was merely a pit stop to our ultimate destination of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (PV). My immediate thought was we were going to have to wait until my luggage arrived, when that may be. Then to make the situation even more interesting there was no one tending to the lugged claim desk as it was midnight when we landed and I wouldn’t be able to find out which flight it was on. As the passengers’ luggage was being rolled out on the conveyor belt I started to get disappointed and before I knew it my luggage appeared! I was elated! At that point my entire party had their luggage so we were off to check in our hotel for the night.

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Friday morning we woke up, went to breakfast, and walked around the city of San Jose.  Nothing very special about that city, in my opinion.  Heavy congestion of cars, people passed out on the side-walk, and being hissed and honked at by the men.  The hotel shuttle took us to the San Carlos Bus Terminal so we could make our way to PV.  Before we could even make it to the ticket a counter a taxi driver got my friends’ attention wanting to know where we are going.  As my friends and the driver were talking we gave us an elaborate story of the bus workers on strike and we wouldn’t be able to get a bus out of San Jose until tomorrow afternoon if tickets weren’t sold out.  He, Octavio, told us he would help us out and take us to another terminal.  Meanwhile Octavio already knew when he waved us down from across the street he was going to hustle us.  Octavio had us in his cab, our luggage strapped in and he was ready!

Octavio's cab
Octavio’s cab

He had an elaborate ruse with calling his “contacts” and showing us a Spanish website that shows laborers on strike adding to the big production he was presenting us.  One of my travel buddies kept answering what seemed like to her innocent questions, you know, creating small talk.  Meanwhile Octavio was using the information he was phishing for to his advantage.  Octavio made us feel like he was our only option to get out of the city.  So, $93 USD later (only $10 of that was for the bus ticket from Guapiles to PV), PER PERSON, a stop at a waterfall in Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo, and snacks from a pedestrian vendor, we finally made it to our bus terminal.  rainforest in national parkWe had originally planned to arrive in PV at around 3:30pm, but we really did not arrive until about 7:00pm that night.  An entire day was wasted behind a scam artist.  Along the way we met a few backpackers (an Australian couple and an Englishman) that helped us out towards the end, which I’ll forever be grateful.

Our hostess was very gracious and over accommodating, is that even such a thing? Adriana and her family were absolutely wonderfully.  She has two beautiful children, her husband, and mother that live with her the property.  If you ever go to PV in Costa Rica, make sure you stay at Saravaplace.  These quaint bungalows are perfectly priced and equipped with a sitting area, hammocks, dining table with chairs, kitchen, two bedrooms with 3 beds, and a bathroom.  Adriana even helped get my friend migraine medicine as she was too ill to go into town on a bike and retrieve it herself.  Adriana also made herself available to schedule excursions and cab drivers as we did not speak enough Spanish in order to do that on our own.

saravaplace
saravaplace
side view of our bungalow
side view of our bungalow
side view of our bungalow (2)
side view of our bungalow (2)
relaxing hammocks
relaxing hammocks
kitchen
kitchen
master bedroom
master bedroom

During our stay we used bicycles as our main mode of transportation as did many locals.  We were able to rent the bicycles from Adriana and her family.  We ventured to Playa Cocles (closest beach to us), Playa Punta Uva, the main strip of PV, and  north of Playa Negra to a rainforest for our Zip Lining/Canopy tour. We would walk the beaches in the morning, go into town for lunch, then let the day get away with us while in town shopping, getting our hair wrapped, or getting to know the locals.

main mode of transportation
playa cocles
playa cocles
me + playa cocles
me + playa cocles
canopy tour with Terraventuras
canopy tour Terraventuras
Jaguar Rescue Center
pacho + little surfer girl

My favorite place to eat was a family owned restaurant called Soda Johanna’s.  The food there is prepared to order and the family/staff were very pleasant, warm, and gracious.  They even put up with our less than mediocre Spanish skills with patience.

shirmp in a garlic sauce at Soda Johanna's
shrimp in a garlic sauce at Soda Johanna’s
dessert at Soda Johanna's
dessert at Soda Johanna’s

I enjoyed being able to indulge in the local fare, people watch, and admire the ocean view.  The colors were so vibrant it was unreal.  The lush and green foliage, crystal blue waters, rolling mountains, and the soulful tunes of reggae.  I definitely plan on going back to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.  I will spend a minimum of 4 days there and try to relax more next time.  I was on the GO! GO! GO! this time and I want to slow down, relax, and bask in the sunlight.

view of San Jose from Radisson Hotel
view of San Jose from Radisson Hotel
playa cocles
playa cocles
playa punta uva
playa punta uva
coconuts + playa cocles
coconuts + playa cocles
view of playa cocles from hot rocks
view of playa cocles from hot rocks

During this trip the girls and I shed tears of laughter and blood; I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.  Thanks for coming along on this little adventure of mine.  I hope you stay tuned for more of my travels in the future.

love always, tiffani

the struggle is real…

Here is the back story to the image above. A friend of mine tagged me to an image on Instagram; it was a picture promoting the upcoming sale of tickets to a George Strait concert in Las Vegas for next year.  As you can see from the dialogue the struggle is real when I plan my vacations & extended weekends as I only have limited amount of vacations days with my employer.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the company & the people I work with, but it would be nice to have more than 2 weeks vacation a year.  Especially, after I’ve been there for 5 years.

Side note: Did you know that by law every country in the European Union requires employers to give their employees 4 weeks vacation!  I’m just salivating at the thought of where I would go with that amount of paid time off.  Americans work years & years before earning 4 weeks paid vacation.

On average, Americans get 14-15 days paid vacation.  Can you imagine not taking your earned time off?  Some of us (Americans) don’t because they can roll it over to the next year.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that privilege & I use up every last minute of my vacation.

I’m very grateful for where I am today.  Where I was employed before is a non-profit organization that did not give their hourly employees medical insurance or paid time off.  If I was sick or wanted to have a day off, I did not get paid.

I like to say that I’ve “paid my dues” & I take my vacation with no guilt but but with a little “I wish I had more time off” attitude.

#FirstWorldProblems

love always, tiffani