traveling on a budget

Big Sur Guide, on a budget (as per usual)

This week we took a super last minute trip to Big Sur. Stephan has been wanting to photograph the Milky Way there and last time we tried it was a fail. The fog was thick every single day we were there and we saw no sunrise, sunset or night sky. But Sunday night he looked up the weather and this week it was gonna be perfect conditions for seeing the Milky Way, so at midnight we booked a hotel and left the next day after work.

  • Accommodation

Since any hotel in Big Sur is very expensive and even camping isn’t too much on budget, both times we decided to stay in Monterey, at a hotel called Pacific Inn and I super recommend it! It’s not fancy, of course, but it’s super clean and the room is very nice. It had a microwave, coffee machine and a fridge, which for us was a must. Because it’s not located right in the water or downtown Monterey it’s cheaper than other hotels and still so close to everything.

  • Food

Stephan and I have traveled quite a bit, and we figured that the easiest way of saving money is not eating out so frequently (unless you’re in South East Asia). In Eastern Europe, we would only book Airbnb’s with kitchens so we could cook. Here in California, we try to plan our meals ahead of time, go to the grocery store before a trip and pack our food along with us. For this Big Sur trip, we got yogurt, granola, bananas, and blueberries for breakfast, had peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch and for dinner we would eat Trader Joe’s salads or wraps. I spent a total of $41 on all of our food for 3 and a half days. We ran out of food the last day and decided to eat lunch in Carmel, at the most affordable and chill place I found. On that one meal, we spent $30. It’s fine to do it once in a while and to have an experience at a certain restaurant, but if you eat out for every single meal, do the math. It adds up.

  • Things to Do

Good news here, most of the activities in this area are free! You basically will only be spending money in gas for all the driving. Here’s a list of my favorite spots for hiking and taking pictures!

  1. Garrapata Beach

    The parking lot that leads to this trail is just a bigpull out on the side of the main road. The trail goes along the water and it’s huge! We didn’t even do the whole thing and had amazing views, photo opportunities and tired legs from all the walking!

2. Bixby Bridge

It’s famous for a reason. Watching sunset there is magical. It can be pretty crowded during the day, but it isn’t so bad closer to sunset, especially during summer, when the sunset is at 8:15 PM, lots of people don’t stay that late.

Photo by Stephan Alvin, available for print   HERE

Photo by Stephan Alvin, available for print HERE

3. Mcway Falls

My very favorite spot of all! The path that begins at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is still partially closed, but don’t worry! This view is actually from a pullout on the side of the road, just before you get to the actual entrance of the park, and it’s beautiful and most importantly: empty!

4. Point Lobos State Park

Not free, but worth it! Such a beautiful place to wander around, hike, take pictures and breath some fresh air! These photos are from earlier this year, February to be exact. And because it was winter it was pretty empty, we had no problem parking inside the park whatsoever. But since then we’ve been to Big Sur twice and every time we drive by the entrance it says the parking lot is full and there are loads of cars trying to park on the side of the road. So my tip is, go during winter or go really early, like as soon as they open!

5. Pfeiffer Beach

The entrance is a little tricky to find and there are no signs leading to it, and since the signal at Big Sur is pretty spotty I would download the offline map before you go! It’s a 5 to 10 minute drive down this super windy and tight road that leads you to one of the most photogenic beaches in Big Sur! You can’t miss this spot!

There is so much to do and see in Big Sur, and if you haven’t been you should plan a trip there ASAP, it’s gorgeous!

Not convinced yet? Check out more landscape photos from this amazing place at Stephan Alvin Photography!

Honeymoon Destination Ideas, on a budget!

Stephan and I have been a lot of places, and 98% of the times we managed to see a lot and still stay on a budget. You really don’t have to be rich to travel, and once you learn that, it changes your life. We have a few favorite places to share and a few tips on how to go to these places without spending a huge amount of money.

 

1.       Thailand

Certainly one of our favorite countries, Thailand is an amazing place. You can either make yourself exhausted each day with things to do, or you can simply relax on beautiful beaches. We kind of alternated in between those two options! We spent most of our time there getting scuba diving certified in this island called Koh Tao, and you really can’t find a cheaper place in the world to do that. With plenty of affordable hotels and delicious local restaurants everywhere, we had the most amazing 12 days in that little island. We had a 3 star hotel, super clean, walking distance to the beach and restaurants, and it only costed us about $20 a night. Not joking. We ate at local restaurants everyday and spent about $3 or $4 on our meals, which were either different types of Curry or Pad Thai and no, we did not get sick of eating the same thing all the time!

2.       Vietnam

With culture exploding in every corner and so many things to do, I wouldn’t say Vietnam is a good option if all you want to do is relax. If you want to explore and get to know a new place and experience somewhere completely outside of your comfort zone... go for it! We had a total of two weeks in the country and we wish we had more time! We managed to go to Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minn City and had a blast. Even more inexpensive than Thailand, you get to stay in really nice hotels and experience the local cuisine all the time for hardly any money.

3.       Croatia

If you’re feeling that Europe is a better choice for your honeymoon destination but you’re worried about the cost, head over to the Eastern side of Europe! We spent 3 and half weeks backpacking through Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania and Cyprus and couldn’t have been happier with our choice. We managed to fit all of those countries in our schedule, but if we could only pick one I would have picked Croatia! There was so much to do and, again, you can alternate in between sightseeing through the streets of Dubrovink or relaxing on beautiful islands and beaches. We stayed in apartments (booked through booking.com), had amazing hosts, and I swear we didn’t spend more than 50 euros a night!

4.       New Zealand

Okay. This one isn’t so much on budget when you compared to the other ones. But is so worth it! If you go during the winter, June till August, all the prices are way lower because that’s their off season. Get yourself a nice camper van (we recommend Britz) and just drive around. We spent 10 days driving through the South Island and again, we didn’t wanna leave. There’s beauty absolutely everywhere, it’s like being in a movie. We cooked all of our meals, either inside our van or in the campsite kitchens (they were amazing), so that saved us a lot of money that we could have spent eating out!

 

Fun fact: we got married November 2018 and have not done a honeymoon yet. But we will. And we’re planning to explore Central America! It’s hard to pick a place when your husband has been to 71 countries and we want to see somewhere new! But both of us haven’t been to Honduras, Costa Rica or Belize, and they are all on the top of our list!

PS. I’m aware that for most of our travels we were already working in the continent or even in the country, so we never really had to factor the flight cost. But if you make sure to fly from a major city to another major city and check everyday for good deals, you can find round trip flights from LA to Bangkok for example for like $480. Let’s be honest, you can barely go anywhere inside the United States for that price, so.. choose wisely ;)