Bourgie on a Budget: How My Boo and I Slayed the Mediterranean for $2k (each)
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Traveling the world. What are some of your biggest dreams? To travel the world. If money wasn't a thing, what would you be doing right now? Traveling the world. Though I know a lot of people who don't like to fly, I have yet to meet anyone that doesn't love to travel.
Our friend and NEW CONTRIBUTOR to Loyal Nana, Claudia Mendoza went on a 10-day trip all over the Mediterranean Basin with her bae for a total of $2K each and she's telling us how...
By: Claudia Mendoza
I am a self-proclaimed planner-extraordinaire and my boo, Beezy, is the king of budgeting; and together, we are the definition of "extra." So when planning our first international vacation together, and Beezy's first big trip abroad, I scouted the most over-the-top destinations while Beezy made sure that we stayed on budget and were getting the most bang for our buck. We were determined to treat ourselves to the most lavish experiences our money could buy and we weren't letting our 20-something-year-old bank accounts limit us. The challenge was simple: see and do the most while spending the least. And that, we did.
We planned a 10-day trip around the Mediterranean, hit up 3 countries in 2 different continents, and each spent a total of $2,000 (yes boo, flights, hotels, food, and spending money included). We slayed the most Instagrammable spots, wore the dopest threads, ate delicious foods, and experienced everything from having lunch at the Dior Mansion in St.Tropez to spending an entire day getting pampered at La Mamounia, the oldest (and most expensive) hotel in Morocco. Oh, did I also mention that we saw a world-renown Flamenco show in Barcelona?
We want to show you that if you do your homework, you don’t need to be rolling in dough to see the most bourgie parts of the world. So here goes our blueprint for slaying the Mediterranean (or any other bourgie destination) responsibly:
1. Track Your Flights
We started looking at our flights about 3 months before booking our trip. This gave us ample time to do research and test different combinations -- and in the long run, saved us so much money. When booking yours, try switching up the order of your flights and play around with different options. For example, we found that flights from NYC to Nice were around $300; whereas, flights from NYC to Marrakesh were around $800. Find your way around the system and beat that $hit.
These were the flights we went with:
NYC to Nice, France: Norwegian Airlines, $335
Nice, France to Marrakech, Morocco: EasyJet, $107
Marrakesh, Morocco to Barcelona, Spain: Ryan Air, $120 *this airline is a disaster and their fees are crazy. We recommend taking another airline if you will be traveling with more than a carry-on*
Barcelona, Spain to NYC: Norwegian Airlines, $312
Also, familiarize yourself with the hidden airline fees. Flights in Europe are dirt cheap but you might find that if you are a heavy packer, you can wind up paying more on the back-end for these cheaper flights. We lovedEasyJet because they allowed you to check in our bags for free. RyanAir on the other hand… well, I guess in this case, you get what you pay for.
Flight Total: $874 per person
*brushes dirt off shoulders*
2. Scout Your Stay
What is worth the extra coins and what can you skimp out on?
After this trip, Beezy and I should be honorary AirBnB ambassadors. AirBnB is a great service to use to find comfortable and affordable temporary homes in just about any city around the world. I don't know about y'all (and no shade to anyone who is down for the wave) but I am not down for staying at hostels; however, you should definitely do your research and scout the best deal for your budget. You might find that in some cities-- like Marrakech-- staying in a hotel is almost the same price as staying at an AirBnB.
We stayed in a beautiful seaside apartment in Cagnes-Sur-Mer (10-minute train ride to the center of Nice). This place was nothing short of a dream and such a bargain.
4 nights, $190 total/per person
Our Riad was beautiful and allowed us the opportunity to experience a more authentic Moroccan stay but in retrospect, we would have bitten the bullet and paid a little extra to stay at a hotel in this city…and honestly, after visiting that bourgie ass hotel for the day, we did not want to leave.
3 nights, $90 total/per person
We stayed in a super cute apartment near la Sagrada Familia. Since accommodations in Barcelona were a little more expensive than in the other cities we visited, our biggest concern was being in a central location so that we could save money on transportation. This spot did the job.
2 nights, $110 total/per person
Accommodations Total: $390 per person!
Major Slay Tips:
Insta-search your Destinations
When going abroad, it is absolutely essential that you do your fair share of research whether it be to familiarize yourself with local customs (so that you don't look like so much of a touristy fool) or simply to find the must-see spots. My major tip for this is researching your destination is searching the cities on Instagram. IG is a goldmine for finding the most photo-worthy destinations in each city. If you want to make sure that your vacation breaks the internet, you must hit up the most Instagrammable spots. Plus, you might find that you can stop by these spots to snap a poppin’ IG picture-- for free!
Plan out transportation
Ask your AirBnB host/concierge about public transportation! DO NOT. I repeat, DO NOT take a cab in Europe unless you absolutely have to. Public transportation is so accessible and so goddamn cheap. Save your coins. Take the bus or train. We each spent a total of $35 for transportation for our entire trip. (note: most airports are accessible by public transportation)
Make an itinerary and write down a budget
I cannot stress enough the importance of planning and staying organized when putting together a big trip. Do your homework. Knowing what you need to spend ahead of time will limit excess spending-- you should always leave some wiggle room for impromptu spending or emergencies but planning ahead is key (and really not that difficult).
And the moment you’ve all been waiting for… our itinerary!
note: it includes some things that we didn’t get to do but that still would have fit in our budget
Day 1: Nice/Cagnes-Sur-Mer
Start your day with breakfast on the beach
Take the train to central Nice
Pick up pastries at Deli Bo (amazing!)
Explore Nice (there is so much to see for free!)
Dinner at Keisuke Matsushima (a classy 3-course dinner for $30/pp)
We set our budget for this day at $60 each which was PLENTY for a day of exploration.
Day 2: St. Tropez
This place was a dream and I cannot wait to go back.
Breakfast from local bakery (grab a yummy chocolate croissant and a cafe-au-lait)
Board Cruise to St. Tropez ($70, this is a great way to see the French Riviera for the low-low)
Tour the Chanel boutique in St. Tropez (free)
Tour and explore the area… so many hidden gems. Let yourself get sucked into the opulence!
Have lunch at Dior Des Lices the highlight of our trip (3-course lunch + drinks, $50 each)
Day 3: Monaco
Monaco, aka Money-co, is expensive but we found our way around it and did the damn thing.
Day 4: Marrakech
Day 5: Marrakech
We hit the Souks early and were determined to haggle as many souvenirs as we could for $50 (set a budget before going into the market… and always, always haggle)
Camel ride ($5, ask a cab driver to take you to where the camels are and tell them that you just want a picture… save yourself a 2-hour trip… and $40)
Jardin Majorelle ($12, probably the most Instagrammable spot in all of the city!)
Day 6: Marrakech
Tombeaux Saadiens ($6)
Spa Day at La Mamounia ($50/person, this was probably the biggest deal of the entire trip. We had access to all of the amenities of the oldest and most expensive hotel in Morocco)
Market at Night (taste the food, listen to the sounds, and get charmed by the snakes)
Day 7: Madrid
Paella class (we didn't get to take the class because I forgot to RSVP but you definitely should! It's only $30 for the class and sangria)
Walk around the beach, shop, and explore!
Day 9: Madrid
And with that, I hope to leave you all inspired to go out and see the world. We slayed our baecation but best of all, we stayed within our budget and came home with priceless memories!
Stay tuned for more posts on organizing an itinerary, budgeting, packing smart, and researching!