A little bit goes a long way (international edition)

Back by popular demand, we’re going to plan a fake trip.  This time, we’re going on an International excursion.

From Central Ohio, the cheapest international destinations are going to be ones in Central America, the Caribbean, or Mexico.  You can take an inexpensive cruise to any of these destinations, but you know me… I gotta bump it up one step.

Let’s say we don’t want to go on a cruise, but would like to spend a week exploring another country.  I’ve decided to do this trip as a couple, so let’s see how far $2,400 can get.  I have chosen $2,400 because I know that the median household income in Ohio is $46,093, and I’m sure that’s based on the fact that many families in Ohio have two incomes.  So let’s say that you have $46,093 per year.  After taking out 25 percent for taxes, that’s $34,569 a year.  That equates to $2,880 a month.  Experts say that you should be spending about 1/3 of your income on housing so that would be $865.  I would estimate about $300 for utilities.  Let’s say you have two $200 car payments, you spend $150 a week on groceries and fuel, you have a $120 a month cell bill.  That still leaves $595 for whatever other bills you have to pay.  I am guessing there’s at least $200 in there you could save towards travel.  

I know I talk a lot about money, but I am a practical person.  What good is planning a trip if you can’t ever go on one?  I should also mention that maybe you can’t afford to save $200 a month.  But if you can afford to save $100 a month, and you can use your tax return for the other half, this is also a good option for you.

So we’re going to go on a little trip.  I’ve started again with our Kayak explore options.  I found that I can get a flight to Cozumel for $393 a person in May for two people.  That’s a pretty good deal!

After airfare, we’re left with $1,614 for a week.  I found a place on airbnb, it’s in a great location and looks clean and comfortable.  For a week, it costs $521.  It’s a 20 minute walk to the beach or downtown, it’s close to two grocery stores (one right around the corner) and a 5-10 minute walk from the airport. Although we don’t necessarily need a car, if we want to visit any of the Mayan ruins, it would be a lot easier and give us more flexibility for sightseeing.

I found a car rental for $152 for a week, and I would estimate about $40 for fuel, so that’s $192.

After flights, a place to stay and a rental car, we have $901 left for sightseeing and food.  I’ve taken a look at some of the prices in one of their grocery stores, and prices seem very reasonable (even on the inexpensive side.)  Restaurants don’t look over the top either, so I think we can budget $30 for food per day, per person.  That is $420.  After food, flights, a rental car, and a place to stay, we still have $481.

Cozumel to Playa del Carmen ferry costs about $23 a person.  Playa del Carmen has lots of activities that seem very reasonably priced.  From here, you can book a tour of the Chichen Itza.  I found one tour for $95 a person.  Other options include Ek Balam Mayan RuinsYal ku Lagoon, and Cenote Canaak Tun.

You can use your $481 however you want, you can book a few snorkeling tours, visit some ruins, have a nice fancy dinner, or even stop by a market and get some loot to take home with you.  You probably wouldn’t even need to spend all that.  After looking at fees and tour costs, I would estimate that $300 should be sufficient for two people to enjoy some good activities.  (For example, snorkeling in Yal ku Lagoon is only $10 a person for snorkel gear, and entrance to Ek Balam is only $10 a person.)

It seems that Mexico is a great get-away for a good price.

Seven-day trip to Cozumel, for a couple:
Two flights $786
Lodging $521
Car rental and fuel: $192
Food $420
Sightseeing: $300

Total $2,219

For an international trip, this is pretty good.  We even came in under budget! 

How about a non-beach destination for you mountain junkies?  Let’s see how far we can get in Canada for $2,400.  Tickets to Vancouver are $423, for June 2-9.  (7 days!)  Canada is going to be more expensive than Mexico, for sure, but I think we can still pull something off.

Plane tickets are $846, leaving us $1,554 for everything else. 

Since we have an entire week, I think two nights in the city would be good to start, and then we’ll see if we can venture off to somewhere with more nature.

I found a place on airbnb with a private balcony off the bedroom, which I think is wonderful.  (It’s only $58 a night, and is a close walk to public transportation.)

There are a lot of free things to do in Vancouver, check out this National Geographic Guide for a list of ideas.  Includes lots of outdoor places like Granville Island, Canada Place and Stanley park, as well as a cathedral and an observatory.

Vancouver Island nearby boasts great seascapes and parks and through word-of-mouth I’ve heard Tofino is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  I think this might be a good place to spend a few days relaxing.

We can pick up a rental car for this excursion and have it from Thursday through Monday.  The rental car is $100, and I’m estimating $100 for fuel.  (Since Tofino is 350 miles roundtrip.)

I found a gorgeous home on Airbnb that is perched on a hill with water views for $97 a night.  We’ll stay here four nights which equates to $387.

There is so much to do near Tofino, and with a rental car we have the ability to travel around and see it.  There’s kayaking, wind-surfing, many parks including Pacific Rim National Park.

Food looks a little on the pricey side in Canada, so for two people, I would estimate $40/day per person.  

I would also give yourself about $150 for sightseeing adventures, maybe a Kayak rental and park fees, if they apply.


Seven-day trip to Vancouver, for a couple:
Two flights: $846
Three nights in Vancouver: $174
Four nights in Tofino: $387
Car rental and fuel: $200
Food $560
Sightseeing and park entrances: $150
Transportation within the city, and miscellaneous: $75
Total $2,392

I hope you enjoyed these fake international trips, and I hope they inspire you to plan your own real trip somewhere wonderful.

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