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 Post subject: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:43 am 
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As I read the great Trip Reports and Restaurant Reviews you all post it gets me to wonder if you set budgets for time in Aruba. I can't say that we do but I guess in some ways with all the years going we kind of know what it will cost.

Airfare. Yes the endless "game" of waiting for fares to be issued and then when to pull the trigger. Out of NY is JetBlue (not the less expensive anymore), Delta, United. So I watch and wait and eventually lock a fare in when I see it close to the year before.

We stay at the Phoenix so we have maintenance which is paid in advance and only other expense is the endless array of taxes when we check out. We don't charge food or drinks to the room so we know what that cost is before we checkin.

In the past many many years we have rented a car. I have rented from any number of companies and have to say that I have always had a good experience. I do shop price. Once I know when we are going I email a few companies or go to their websites and get rate comparisons. I now like to rent direct at the airport. I have found that yes it's not the end of the world to go off site but prices are often better onsite. Do I use the car everyday? Usually but I like that it is there.

We are in no way foodies. Here at home or away. We plan and sometimes actually do go out for 2-3 nice dinners. Even with that in mind I can't tell you the last time we spent over $100. for a dinner. We stock up when for breakfast and lunch in the room and maybe will go out one/two days for a breakfast or lunch. I used to pack some specific food items and take with us but now I see that prices in Aruba are such that for what we eat I save the space and weight in my luggage.

Not gamblers so we set no amount. Maybe between the two of us we will invest $50-100. I find watching people gamble great entertainment.

Once we get home we do a quick vacation cost.

That's me. What about you?

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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:48 am 
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We've never budgeted. We get the Jet Blue tickets using points - can't recall the last time we actually paid for the flights. We usually book as soon as the schedule for September is released.

Bring cash to pay for the limo's to JFK and from JFK when we return, tips, and other misc. expenses.

We go out for dinner just about every night - have found it a hassle to cook dinner in the room even though we have a full kitchen at CLBR - don't have all the condiments & all the utensils like we have at home. We do have breakfast and lunch on our balcony.

We use credit cards (that don't charge foreign exchange fees) for dinners, supermarkets, souvenirs, room charges & taxes when we check out, and car rental. I think we've had a credit card compromised 2 or 3 times while we were in Aruba. It would be nice if all restaurants started using those portable charge card terminals like the Jet Blue flight attendants use; I think restaurants are the most likely culprit.

We've been very comfortable renting from Tropic for many years & don't mind having to take the van to pick up & drop off the car.

I also do a rough tally when we get back home to check the grand total spent for the trip.

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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:14 am 
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We're at Costa Linda for 17 nights usually. We own 14 and rent an additional 3. Lodging costs us the annual timeshare maintenance fees plus the rentals plus all the taxes and surcharges.

We split our dinners to about 8 or 9 dine in and the rest we dine out at restaurants we know and like. We're not going to try Aruban food nor are we going to 'local' restaurants. We're not foodies. Three of our dine out dinners are at the Water's Edge. We probably have 4 or 5 breakfasts out and maybe 2 or three lunches out, mostly at the Water's Edge. Every dine out includes a drink or two depending on whether it's a 'drive-to' (off campus) or a 'walk-to' (Water's Edge at CLBR".

We rent a car from Tropic mainly because his cars are in great condition and their price is competitive. Is it a bargain? No. But we like that is there whenever we want it to go wherever we like. I always purchase the AMEX car rental insurance as it provides a comfy peace of mind.

No more casinos for us as the BRUTAL second hand smoke is a proven health risk.

We always use Jet Blue since we have a bunch of True Blue points so we fly for free except for the add-on taxes that are not payable with the points, and most importantly it's non-stop from Boston with arrival time on Aruba in the noon to 1pm range. Even if we didn't have all the points we would use JB. Wonderful!

I always purchase a litre of scotch and a litre of Drambuie at the airport Dufry (duty free) kiosk near the baggage carousel. So far they've always had the Drambuie but if they don't then I'll buy it at Ling's. And I cannot overlook the couple of six-packs of Balashi or Hopi Bon beer.

We do our grocery shopping at Ling's and that is usually three visits with the first one being a large order and the others simply to replace what we've run out of.

We do not do tours, water sports, boat rides, shows or any other add-ons. We're beach people all day long and perhaps some evenings as well. Nights sometimes we'll sit outside by the pool. We have a huge patio right outside our kitchen door and it is a wonderful place to barbeque and eat and, of course, drink. Sunset views as well as night sky views each accompanied by some soft piano music are our usual night's entertainment.

We use a 'fee-free' Master Card for all purchases, car rental (AMEX), dine-out and resort charges. And we use cash for tipping at the bar, on the beach, to the housekeepers, and for the bell men.

So, to the original question: do we budget? No. We pay for what we want without doing any price comparisons. We're not rich at all but this is our annual "Treat" so we take it with no stress worrying about cost.

Are we seeing changes on Aruba? You bet. But since we don't really roam around too much as in days past we don't really experience those changes.

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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:56 pm 
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We don't budget. We fly JetBlue out of Boston and book as soon as our dates in May are available. We own 2 weeks at a timeshare so the majority of that cost is paid up-front through the maintenance fees (plus the added fees & taxes). We never charge to the room. We don't gamble at all (with the exception of a few years where we each might have thrown $20 in a slot machine). We typically rent a car for only 1 week, though some years only a few days or we don't rent one at all. We always eat breakfast in the room, most lunches, and probably about 35% of our dinners. But that's not planned it's just whatever we feel like doing.

We don't budget for any of our other travel either, as we are (finally) at a place in our lives where budgeting just isn't much of a concern. I know how to and do save money where it's worth it to me to do so - usually on lodging. Ironically, the type of lodging we prefer (condos, homes, etc. either through HomeAway, Airbnb, etc.) is usually much cheaper. I pay more for a view or great location ALWAYS. I won't buy plane tickets if I think they are too outrageous. We love a good meal and will splurge here and there but our tastes aren't really expensive and we don't need to eat too much (I couldn't possibly imagine managing to choke down an appetizer, meal and desert in one sitting).

We always add everything up when we come home and it's surprising to see that no matter where we go we tend to spend about the same for a 2 week trip anywhere.

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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:55 pm 
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Location: New Jersey
Have you seen my trip reports the last 3-4 years? ha ha. We bring 2 suitcases filled with food and liquor, we use points out of BWI which means we have to travel 2 1/2 hours away from NJ, We always rent from Red Week and this year we both worked a 3rd job so that we could be "fancy" and upgrade to an oceanfront at the Ocean club. After we book, I go online every day and see if the points drop on airfare, and if they do I call SW and get points given back. This year we got almost 20K points back to use towards next year. We also do the timeshare tour every year and get $175 which we use towards a nice dinner on the beach. We know how much we can spend each night in the casino (where you get free drinks) and we always tip generously. We have also come out ahead when gambling which helps.

This is the only way we can go every year and we wouldn't do it any other way. People are shocked and amazed when they hear our strategy. Works for us.

3 more days until we are back :D


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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:42 pm 
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We never budget, being $500 and get it all on #4 at craps. We win BIG and then live off our winnings for two weeks.

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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:31 pm 
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muggsymoo wrote:
We also do the timeshare tour every year and get $175 which we use towards a nice dinner on the beach. :D


What place gives you cash of $175.

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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:16 pm 
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A few years ago we went to the original Marriott for their Sunday breakfast buffet.
I forget the details but got the word from another couple we knew about a timeshare tour up there. It took about 90 minutes and we got a voucher for $110 (in "Marriott Money") which we used at Ruth's Criss a day or two later for dinner. I seem to remember we had to add about $80 to the voucher.
It was surprisingly easy and complication free. No pressure. When they learned we owned at Costa Linda they ushered us and a few other folks into a separate room and asked us a bunch of questions. Again, no pressure.

Bottom line: The meal wasn't that good. My opinion of these 'big money' restaurants is they are just not worth the risk. But for $80 bucks and a 90 minute time investment it was worth it, I guess, for the experience.

We're done with that kind of stuff. I'm too old and cranky to bother wasting my precious Aruba time on a whim.

It's all good, now.

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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:19 pm 
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This is a good thread! Everyone has their own way to vacation. I respect that!

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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:18 pm 
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Let me see.....
About $2200 for 12 nights and airfare for two. R/T from Boston. Delta this year. Booked on Expedia, trip is paid for already. No additional fees/taxes.
Not sure what Hans and crew quoted for the car, but the reservation is in...…
I usually count on dropping about $100 or so a day for meals, expenses etc. We take extra cash to spend more if we want to on activities if we want. We typically use credit cards or opt to use cash. No expensive meals every night. A couple six packs of Balashi do me fine for the time there.
No gambling-not a fan.
Typically end up with $300 or so in a CC bill for the trip, not counting the car rental. Offsets the cash we always return with. Cards are just easier sometimes.
No structure to the trip either. The only thing written in stone is being back to the airport 3 hours before the departure time. Everything else is day by day.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:04 am 
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I keep a spreadsheet year to year of what we spend in each category and adjust what I think we will need for the current trip. I calculate the per person cost too. Airfare is typically paid for with points. We use our no international fee airline cards and rack up a decent amount of points while in Aruba. :shock: If any of our adult kids come, the cost is higher.

I tell my husband we are on a budget but I don’t think he listens. :lol: I can confidently say if it was just me, the per person food and beverage costs would be way down. :wink: I do buy a few souvenirs (calendar, magnet for desk at work, Christmas ornament for tropical tree, Verkade candy bars to give out at home, something now for grandchild and a few pieces of jewelry from Aruba Hands as gifts to others and to me. :D )

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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:41 am 
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We bring cash and pay for dinners with it. The only cc Bill is used at ours at the Links. Eat lunch and breakfast in the room most days. This is usually our big vacation so we don’t witty about costs. Buy liquor at duty free and have a nappy hour grind on the balcony before going out. Always come home with cash and usually spend about the same each year. Every time we leave we always if we will ever come back since at our age there are no guarantees. Too old to worry about costs.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:57 am 
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I always bring cash. Don't want a big credit card balance when we get back. This last visit we ate out at 5 really nice restaurants that had an average check of around $200 because we had our granddaughter with us. I had taken about $2800 in cash and with the food, the drinks, excursions and other expenses we returned home after 10 days with about $40. Paid my $80 parking at the airport with my debit card.
I have no problem spending money on vacation. That's what I work for!


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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:54 am 
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arubajoey wrote:
muggsymoo wrote:
We also do the timeshare tour every year and get $175 which we use towards a nice dinner on the beach. :D


What place gives you cash of $175.


It's not cash, but vouchers. If I remember correctly there were other restaurants other than Marriott restaurants. We do the timeshare at the Ocean Club. They know us by now and know we won't buy but still invite us every year to do it.


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 Post subject: Re: Do you Budget
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:59 am 
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No budget per se, just common sense when we deem something to be "too high" like airfare and will play the waiting game a bit.

We know what items we like to "splurge" on/pay extra for and we know what we like to be "cheap" about as far as what is important (or not important) to us. It all seems to even out.

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37th trip to Aruba: New Year's Eve 2018/2019
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38th trip to Aruba: April/May 2019
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Paris: Sept/Oct 2019
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