Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to spend five nights and six sunny days in Riviera Maya, Mexico with my sister.
And less than four weeks before that, we booked the trip on a whim.
Winter had us feeling down and in need of a getaway. My bank account clearly indicated that I probably shouldn’t, given we’re trying to save for a house and all. But when my sister told me she was itching for a beach vacation and had no one to go with, I saw the perfect opportunity to make some unforgettable sister memories.
We got a deal because we flew in on a Thursday, and out on a Tuesday. Returning to work mid-week on Wednesday is tough, but worth it when you’re sporting an awesome tan (errr sunburn).
I’ve been to all-inclusives in Mexico before and was skeptical. Cheap Apple vacations had me feeling pretty sick (and clinging to the toilet — TMI) during previous Mexico getaways. But we had SUCH a good experience this time around — everything was clean, the food was great, and the place was absolutely beautiful.
We stayed at the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya. We loved that this was one of four connected hotels, and we totally picked the right one! Our hotel was smaller and more intimate,and had more of an adult crowd. The other bigger hotels had more kids/family offerings, which definitely wasn’t what we were looking for (though I’m sure it’d be lovely if that is what you’re seeking out.) We just wanted to read our books on the beach with a margarita in-hand.
It was so stressful prepping for this vacation. It always is, but it felt even worse for me this time around since it was last minute and we’re in a busy season for one of my clients. But even though I was working until 11:30 pm the night before I left, it was so worth it the moment we stepped into that Mexican sunshine.
I’m such a planner, so this was really spontaneous for me. But it taught me something — sometimes, the wrong decision on paper may really be the right decision for you. I didn’t realize how much I needed a break until I actually had one! I’m lucky to have a husband that’s super supportive, but I can imagine that other significant others might not be if you were trying to save to buy a house this coming fall. I know that can be tough.
As much as we’re a prepare-in-advance society, there’s something to be said for doing what you want, making memories and living in the moment.
Here are my tips for planning a last-minute vacation:
Don’t rule anything out. You never know what kind of deals you can score for destinations you might’ve thought would be out of your budget. Choose 3-5 target destinations to start, and keep an open mind!
Timing is everything. You might get a better deal if you take a redeye out on a Tuesday night than if you pick your ideal Sunday morning flight. Be flexible, and know that a few groggy hours will be all worth it when you get there.
A little bit can go a long way. Even if an affordable Mexico vacation isn’t in your budget, there’s still a lot to be said for a quick weekend away. This is not a go big or go home scenario — a few days can do a lot to help you relax and recharge.
Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger. We researched and we researched, and used a family friend who’s a travel agent to help us. After going back and forth for almost a month, we were still undecided. Finally, a one-day only flash sale for the airfare got us to give the green light. It was scary at the time, but so worth it in the end.
Here’s to taking more vacations in 2016!