These past 6 weeks have been crazy busy. Three work trips and a 10 day vacation totaling $5883 (over five months rent!!).
The work trips were actually pretty great in their own rights. I was able to get in some sightseeing, meet up with family I haven’t seen since I was literally a baby, and grow friendships. I’ve always been fairly friendly with work colleagues, but now I’m building more honest-to-goodness friendships – the kind where we would actually keep in touch if I quit work tomorrow. It’s pretty awesome.
And that vacation? Best ever, hands down. Me and Fergus, my 80-year-old grandparents, and two of their “retired” friends spent 10 days in the Cayman Islands full of sting rays, sunscreen slathering, and scuba diving. Yes, scuba diving.
They may have multiple joint replacements under their belts, one of them may or may not need to use a walker to get around, and they definitely need a little help zipping into their wetsuits, but damn it, my grandparents scuba dive and they will continue diving for as long as physically possible (Which, with amazing organizations like Dive Pirates, is likely a very long time).
Earlier this year when I heard they were planning a trip (the first in two years, due to surgeries & recovery time), I was determined to tag along. There is simply a limited supply of grandparents, let alone grandparents who scuba dive. Going on this trip would mean zero regrets.
Oofdah. One of my grandparents’ friends was organizing the trip. At an all-expense-paid resort. In the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman is currently listed as the 3rd most expensive place to live, ahead of London, NYC, San Fransisco, and Singapore, for reference). Throw in the usual expense of scuba diving, plus the increased costs for valet diving (somewhat necessary for my grandparents), and it’s a lot of money.
Since 7/10 days were on an all-inclusive resort, we had little choice in the matter of how much we spent. We were, however, on our own for three days on Grand Cayman.
1 Week at Fancy Dive Resort: $3,425
Tips and Incidentals $421
2 Nights on Grand Cayman (one night paid, one reward night): $136
Rental Car + Gas (3 days) $110
$275 Restaurants and Grocery (Very expensive, and on the whole not worth the money. We did have an absolutely fantastic farewell lunch at Vivo that was phenomenal, but there wasn’t any other restaurant where we weren’t even a little bitter about the cost.)
Jet Skis $60
Snorkeling at Stingray City $90
Flights: $1,088 (right around as cheap as you can get them)
Uber to Airport: $8.43 (got $20 off with sign up promotion. Use our code “ymkoe” for $20 off your first ride with Uber)
Taxi from Airport: $62.50 (Uber would have been over $80)
Hotel Layover (flight diverted/delayed): $92.42
Cash Food and Misc (gifts, souvenirs): $115
Total: $5,883 (Ouch!)
Priceless? It’s so cheesy, but it’s true.
We will never forget this trip, and we were able to be a part of something magical. That moment when you turn around underwater and see a turtle swimming towards you, two feet away from your grandfather and grandmother? Or when you make friends with a grouper? Or when you have your ear talked off for forty five minutes by a local celebrity jeweler and just make it back in time for the crab race? Even with the insane price tag, it was all very much worth it, and we’re incredibly lucky to be able to afford a trip like this.
For our week at the resort, food and drinks were already paid for, meaning we didn’t have to have a heart attack at every meal. One principle of Happy Money is to pay for things first – to separate the pain of payment from the joy of experience. It worked – we were noticeably more relaxed at the resort vs. our days on Grand Cayman.
It was weird to turn off the “worry switch.” Not that we’re constantly stressing about money – but we do think about it a lot. When a large iced coffee is calling my name at work, I can’t help but think about the huge markup and how easily I can make the same at home for a tenth of the price. It was nice to just relax and spend time with my grandparents and new friends.
We’re huge fans of optimizing experiences/memories vs. expenses, especially with the expensive hobby of scuba diving. Two diving destinations I know to be cheaper and still awesome are Cozumel, Mexico and Honduras. You can have basically the same vacation for right around half the price. Thankfully my grandparents are also frugally-minded and we should be able to go with them again in the future to a more wallet-friendly dive resort.
Millennial Money recently posted about their 10 day vacation to Hawaii for far less than half the cost of our Grand Cayman trip. They also had a fantastic experience in a tropical destination, but for just under $2500 for two. You could throw some diving into a trip like that and still come in under $3000 for a couple.
Heck, if we get enough friends together that scuba dive, we could rent a house somewhere and get some real cost-savings going on…excuse me while I AirBnB…