So you’ve contacted me for a cheap vacation to wherever right? You want to save as much money on getting there and sleeping there right? You realize you may not be able to afford the 5-star hotel or resort on your budget, but you still feel like you SHOULD experience the finer things in life right?
Well I’m here to put you on for a travel hack I’ve been using since forever.
The Day Pass Travel Hack.
Last week on my Twitter page I had happened to mention I was planning for my upcoming trip to Antalya, Turkey. I’m there for nine days and tried to find a nice cheap place to stay for that duration, even though this specific city has a plethora of beautiful all-inclusive beachfront hotels/resorts as options. I didn’t go that route because 1) I’m not paying that much - 2) The purpose of me being there is to get my teeth done - 3) What’s the point of an all-inclusive when there might be days I may not be able to chew? Etc etc. But only because I can’t afford to be in one of those/don’t want to be in one for whole time, doesn’t mean I don’t want to hang out there for ONE of my days. So I began sending e-mails to some of the nicest places I could see to inquire if they offered day pass options. (Hopefully they respond and say yes.)
This is how a whole thread on the usage of day passes came about. I realized with the interactions I got that not everyone has necessarily tapped into this simple travel hack. So here we are. Let me put mans on.
First of all, there are plenty of apps and sites nowadays for day pass options. I personally have never used one because I like dealing with the place directly via e-mail or in person, but just to name some:
So if you don’t want to take the leap and contact places directly, I guess try one of those. Again, I personally haven’t tried any of them myself so I have no feedback to give. Just here to provide information and options.
I will give you four examples of how this has worked out VERY WELL for my personal travel experiences and for the awesome fancy pants pictures you’ve seen on the blog.
Santiago de Cuba:
I’ve been going to this city since about 2012. It is my favourite place in all of Cuba, but it lacks something the rest of Cuba has an abundance of. Beach. There are some beaches nearby, but they aren’t the picturesque white sand images you usually see in Cuba and they’re kind of far via taxi. So how do you cool off in a busy city with no beach? Well your only option is either standing naked in front of your air conditioner or going to a pool. (I don’t judge either way, FYI)
For the three times I went to Santiago de Cuba, I would always stay in the same casa particular. This was basically a guest house a wonderful couple would rent out to me for $25 a night which had a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and they would also make me a fresh breakfast every morning. Unbeatable price. Down the street from where I’d stay was the Melia Santiago de Cuba. This hotel is impossible to miss with its tall frame and red paint. The cost of staying there for two nights would run you about $200. So to show you the math of that, $25 x 7 = $175.00…. what I’d pay for a week in my casa particular would be less than what the cost of two nights at the Melia were.
Now, the one thing the Melia had that was of use to me was a very nice pool to cool off in. There was a bar there, kitchen, numerous lounge chairs and a really attentive staff. For $10 CUC ($13.47 Canadian today) you would pick up a day pass at the front desk to be by that pool THE WHOLE DAY, aaaand it would include a whole pizza and two drinks!! Seriously. Is that not an amazing deal or what?
I capitalized on that deal at least 3/7 days I’d be in Santiago. I hope they still have it.
When I went to Bali back in 2016 I tried to do it on a pretty small-mediumish budget. My hotel for a whole week had come to about $215 and I loved being there because it was located in the center of Kuta where all the action was. Unfortunately, if you have ever seen the beach in Kuta it was somewhat lackluster and didn’t look as inviting to go swim at. Totally awesome place to hang out by and people watch, yes. Definitely do that if you are ever in Kuta, but when you’re in Bali you want some nice beach time as well you know?
The person at the front desk of the hotel I was staying in had mentioned he previously worked at this hotel/resort that had a really nice beach and that they offered day passes. I believe it use to be named something completely different, but when I was there this hotel was called The Hilton Bali, in Nusa Dua. The cost of staying there for two nights will cost you about $400. So again, the math, $215 for seven days at hotel I was staying at vs $1400 for a week at the Hilton. I refuse to spend that much money on an island that is as thrifty as Bali. But I did want that beach life.
I took a taxi down to Nusa Dua and spoke to the front desk. If my memory serves me right, the day pass was about $20 USD. ($26.94 Canadian today) Although their day pass didn’t include the food and drinks like the spot in Cuba did, it was worth the peace and quiet. The resort is beautiful, the staff is really nice and the beach was secluded. My favourite kind of beach. There was at least four different sized pools, numerous lounge chairs by the beach and you could help yourself to as many towels as you needed. Along with that, you could order food to your lounge chair!! So I had a burger and french fries served to me on the beach and just paid with cash.
The day pass was totally worth the chill day on a beautiful beach.
This is where the SUPER DUPER pricey stuff usually is. We all think of getting to the Maldives and getting one of those sexy overwater villas we see on fantasy IG travel pages.
I went to the Maldives in December of 2017 with my best friend Sherry. We opted to stay on a ‘local’ island called Maafushi because we wanted to get a full experience of being around people from the Maldives just as much as relishing in the incredible beaches and views. Not to mention, have you seen the goddamn prices for those villas and for staying on the private islands? To hell with that. I don’t need liquor that much. The cost of our beautiful (beachfront) hotel on Maafushi was $495 per person (so $990 total) for six nights. Definitely a steal.
Naturally though, we did want to at least visit one of the super fancy resorts on a private island so we could fulfill the Maldives dream, if only for a day.
Our hotel (and many, if not most hotels on the local islands) offered various excursion packages/day passes to these private islands. After Sherry and I discussed it, we decided to go with The Olhuveli Beach & Spa resort. If you guys had seen this place? Oh my goodness.
It took about 30 minutes to get from Maafushi to Olhuveli via our hotels speed boat and from seeing the place as we arrived to exploring the island - complete paradise. Perfect white sand, places to drink, a beautiful infinity pool and just an overall idyllic setting.
Again, time for the math. For 6-nights at THIS place the cost for the cheapest room was $3004 total vs the $990 that Sherry and I had paid. This is for the CHEAPEST room, if you wanted like a fancy room or maybe the all-inclusive option it would be north of $5000.
Sherry and I each paid $125USD ($168.35 Canadian today) which included the roundtrip boat transfer and getting to be on this amazing island for about 7hrs.
Well worth the money to indulge for a day in a place that looks so perfect. I should also note, this day trip reaffirmed that we made the right decision to NOT stay for a week on a private island because it was all couples and families. Yawn.
If you’re ever in the mood for feeling broke - go to St. Moritz in Switzerland.
In December of 2018 I had made it to one of the places I had dreamed about for a long time. I took a day trip from Zurich (6hrs roundtrip) to get to St. Moritz. This is the place you think about when you’re young and wonder if you’ll ever be wealthy enough to finally see in person. I definitely was NOT wealthy enough to fully immerse myself to the depths that others may, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t take advantage of experiencing some part of it.
Prior to traveling to Switzerland I did my research on things to do in St. Moritz and this one spa kept coming up. The name of the hotel it is located in is Badrutt’s Palace and the name of the spa is Palace Wellness.
I will give you a second to go peruse the website to see the luxury of this place.
Okay, you good? Yeaah, you see what I mean right? So fancy pants.
The hotel I was staying in for the four nights I was in Zurich I believe came to about $300 total, which is a STEAL for Switzerland’s insane pricing and exchange rate compared to the Canadian dollar. So now, the math for this? ONE night in the cheapest room at Badrutt’s is $467 CHF which is $619.89 in Canadian. So very VERY simple math was that four nights in my hotel cost me 1/2 of ONE day at the hotel in St. Moritz. Remember what I said about being in the mood for feeling broke?
I got very lucky though. While doing my earlier research I found out the spa inside Badrutt’s offered day passes for $100 CHF ($132.74 Canadian today). I e-mailed the spa directly and asked if there was availability for the day I intended on coming and they got back to me the next day saying that they didn’t have many spa bookings so I would be more than welcome to use the day pass. YAY.
The pictures don’t even do the spa any justice. I realize they are pretty, but absolutely nothing can compare to exiting out of a pool indoors to go directly into an outdoor hot tub where you’re surrounded by the snow-covered Swiss Alps. Nothing. You get to use the pool the whole day, the hot tub, mingle with the actual super wealthy who are staying at the hotel and you can pay with your card and have food brought to the lounger you’re relaxing at with the touch of a button.
Spend the time to come here and get this day pass if you’re ever in Zurich or in any other part of Switzerland. You will not regret spending the $132.74 for a memory like this.
So there it is. Don’t pay lavish prices to stay somewhere that you could totally just go visit for a day at like 1/5th of the price of the stay. Before you go on any vacation, look up somewhere that might look like a fairy tale or dream you’ve once had and go make it a reality for a couple of hours or a day.
Although we may not be wealthy yet, doesn’t mean we can’t also enjoy the finer things sometimes. I’m super happy when I can find a cheap (safe + clean + well located) place to sleep for the duration of my trip. This leaves more money to eat all the yummy local food and get to experience places like I mentioned above. Maybe one day I’ll be able to afford actually staying at places like this, but let’s be serious, I’d probably still want a cheap spot to stay and just go visit 2-3 of these places for a day.
Do your research. Reach out to resorts/spas/hotels and find out if they offer day passes to whatever it is you’d like to see. Even super popular family places like Atlantis in the Bahamas and/or the naughty Hedonism in Jamaica offer day passes. Go live lavish on a budget, even if it’s for a day!