Get the Look
Get the Look
Vacations should relieve stress, not add to it, but paying for pricey flights and expensive hotels can seem more burdensome than the rat race that you’re trying to escape. Don’t let costs dissuade you from taking a much-needed break and going on an adventure. By taking a few easy steps, you can have a sunny getaway without burning through your bank account.
1. Stalk deals.
The same strategy that you use to hunt down a pair of new pumps applies to vacation shopping — relentlessly pursue sales. I have a bevy of travel apps downloaded to my phone that alert me to deals. Travelzoo, Airfarewatchdog, and Kayak are some of my faves. I also check Living Social Escapes and Groupon Getaways often. In addition to deep discounts, apps and sites like these can give you ideas for travel destinations that you may not have thought of otherwise.
2. Plan early.
While there a plenty of last-minute deals on hotels and even some on airfare, I’m too much of a scaredy-cat to leave my accommodations to chance. I may have an adventurous spirit, but I can’t take the anxiety of last-minute travel. I look for deals with long lead times to minimize blackout dates. Planning early also means that I have time to open and contribute to a dedicated vacation bank account to stash spending money for the trip. Months ahead of boarding my flight, I create a budget and start cutting down on superfluous spending. Skipping happy hours, packing brown bag lunches, and turning my bathroom into a salon means extra cash for fun in the sun.
3. Be flexible.
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. I got the idea to visit Negril, Jamaica on a random winter day scrolling through vacation deals. I was determined to find something, anything. I found an unbelievable deal at the Negril Treehouse Resort that I could not pass up. I did not set out to go to Jamaica. I set out to go to a beach — any beach — and it just so happens that the beach in Negril stretches across seven glorious miles. Don’t be discouraged if your trip dream trip to Saint-Tropez seems out of reach, check out Toronto in the meantime. Having an open mind gives you more options when it comes to traveling on a budget.
4. Give yourself an allowance.
I didn’t get an allowance as a child, I washed the dishes for free and cleaned my room because I was supposed to. As an adult, I now see the value in setting aside small amounts of money. Before you go on vacation, do some research and find out what you’ll need to spend daily. My latest vacation package included breakfast. I only needed to allot money for frozen cocktails and dinner each day (I usually don’t have time for lunch with all the napping I do on the sand). Because I planned early, I was able to research tours and activities and plan accordingly. Sticking to my daily budget was actually a liberating experience because I did not have to worry about running out of money or using my credit card. Give yourself some emergency money, though. You never know what may happen.
5. Just Say ‘No’ to souvenirs.
You don’t need any souvenirs, nor do your family members, coworkers, or friends. Take pictures and savor the moment. Screen-print tees, shot glasses, and Wish-You-Were-Here picture frames usually end up as White Elephant gifts during the holidays (sorry, but it’s true). The best gift you can give anyone, including yourself, after a getaway is your vibrant, relaxed energy — it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
My voice is gone. My legs are killing me. And, I have a pounding headache. No, I am not recovering from some warehouse rave, it’s the morning after my Rihanna’s Diamond’s World Tour experience at the Verizon Center in downtown DC. It was more than just a concert, it was the best party ever. The sold-out arena felt like a night out on the town with your BFF club hopping through set changes from the reggae hall to the rock spot. [Thanks for the tickets, Santa! ]
Check out my Rihanna round-up:
Pretty in Pink
Some of the world’s most acclaimed talents have been discovered in church. Stephanie Kiah’s skills, however, were to be seen, not heard. Armed with paper and a pencil, the young artist accompanied her mother to Sunday services, capturing fellow churchgoers in detailed drawings in her notebook. Unlike the forgotten doodles in discarded marble composition notebooks the world over, Stephanie’s childhood drawings were just sketches of what was to come.
When did you first become interested art?
After my mother discovered my drawings in church, my elementary school teachers recognized my talent, and I enrolled in the Gifted and Talented Art program. I took part in advanced art classes all growing up.
Art came as a natural choice for a college major, and I attended Norfolk State University where I graduated with a BA in Fine Art in 2009. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until after college that I grew truly passionate about my art.
When did you make the decision to turn your passion into a gig?
Discouraged after not being accepted into the grad program I wanted, working a string of dead-end jobs, and being unsuccessful at landing even a simple “good job,” I decided to relocate to a place where I could try to find myself again. For me, that place was Washington, D.C. Luckily I was able to stay with my cousin in the city for a while as I gained my footing. Once I moved out on my own, my art became a necessary source of income along with my other part-time jobs in order for me to continue living in the city.
What advice would you give other young professionals who feel stuck at a 9-5?