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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:04 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:57 am
Posts: 26
Location: New Jersey
I am going to write my trip report a bit differently this year just to change it up. Every year I write the same thing. Great flight, great room, we didn’t do anything but eat, drink and gamble. We love Aruba, etc. I am going to write how we get to vacation in Aruba on a budget!
First our background. This was my 21st trip and my boyfriend’s 4th. He is divorced, 2 kids and paying alimony and child support, works as a teacher and has a second job at a golf course. I am getting divorced, have two children (one is grown and gone), and am not getting any alimony/CS at the moment. I work in an office at a University and also bartend part time. We are on a very, very tight budget. This trip is what we look forward to and there are certain things we have to do in order to go.

First, we put as many purchases as possible on our Southwest card. We put utility bills, gas bills, food purchases, insurance payments, you name it- it’s on there. Even though we live in NJ, we always fly out of BWI (2 hour drive) because it’s less points to travel to Aruba. This year, we only had to pay for one part of the flight and that was for one way flight for one person. We used points for the rest. We stay overnight in a hotel the night before and leave our car in the lot using the website Park,sleep,fly. This enables us to get up early and take a shuttle to airport and our car stays parked in the hotel lot the entire time. I think we pay around $120-$130 for that. Also, after I book the flight and know how many point we used, I check EVERY DAY to see if the amount of points goes down and if it does we call and they adjust the flight and give us back points. This year our flight went down twice so I got points back as well as $100 credit towards another flight.

Southwest allows passengers 2 bags each free, plus a carry on. We bring as much food and liquor as possible since we eat 90% of our meals in the room and groceries are expensive to buy in Aruba. Plus, I am gluten free along with some other dietary restrictions. We were loaded down with chips, crackers, rice milk, almond milk, peanut butter, almond butter, tea, coffee, mayonnaise, ketchup, spices, etc. Anything not perishable we tried to bring. We mostly bought items we couldn’t bring with us at Superfoods. Chicken, Shrimp, cheese, hummus, etc. Our bill was $113. We also found out you can bring 5 liters of liquor with you and that does not include wine. We bought something called winesacks (bubblewrap packets for wine) online through ebay and brought 4 bottles of wine and a case of Spiked seltzer, 10 shot bottles of Fireball already shrink wrapped and a bottle of rum chata. We have hard case suitcases so everything arrived safely. Remember this is the one week out of a year we don’t have kids so we do go a bit crazy with the cocktails. We also bought a bottle of Tito’s from the duty free since it is same price as the US and that was one less bottle to carry. I swear we aren’t alcoholics. Just having a week to ourselves is heaven.

Every year we do a timeshare tour and get $175 in Marriott vouchers in $25 increments. There are plenty of restaurants and shops that are not on Marriott property that you can use them at. Since we have a drink at home before we leave and one while walking to the restaurant, we usually only have one drink with dinner which keeps the cost down. A tito’s and soda at some restaurants are $13! With our vouchers were we had dinner on the beach at the Marriott at Atardi, one breakfast at the Marriott and $25 towards a dinner at Gianni’s. We also used a 20% off coupon we received and split lunch from Champions. Our only treat we paid for was the frozen mudslides at happy hour- one per day. We did actually go out to dinner one night to Aqua Grill which we paid for. After dinner we went to casinos and actually did quite well this year and came home with $$. Free drinks in casino and we always tip.

We bring our own rafts and we get up early (well, my boyfriend does) and stand in line for a free palapa. He would go down at 6 and be back up at 7:10 and we were up front every day. I think because we rent from an owner they don’t charge us? Our Timeshare for the week was $1395.

We put money away every week towards this trip. Even if it’s $10 each, it goes in the vacation fund. I worked a lot this year during Christmas and made a little bit extra and he does the same thing during the summer. We shovel snow in our neighborhood to make extra money as well.
So…..our flights were great, our room was great. We love Aruba. As always, met a bunch of new and fun people. The water seemed much cleaner this year. We went Saturday to Saturday and we went through the airport pretty swiftly. I think the automated passport machines help a lot.

Now back to reality and start saving for next year. Hope this report helps someone with a tight budget who wants to see Aruba.

Here is a picture of us after our win at the Hyatt Casino.

Image20170804_220544 (2) by Tracy Merone, on Flickr

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