Welcome to Travel Diaries, a Refinery29 series where we tag along as real women embark on trips around the world and track their travel expenses down to the last cent. Here, we offer a detailed, intimate account of when, where, and how our peers spend their vacation days and disposable income: all the meals, adventures, indulgences, setbacks, and surprises.
This week's travel diary: A 26-year-old entrepreneur from Colombia and her husband spend an extravagant week in Miami.
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Occupation: Entrepreneur; I have a small concierge services company
Salary: around $50,000 USD per year
Travel Companion: Husband
Travel Companion's Salary: $200,000 USD per year (he owns boutique hotels and restaurants)
Hometown: Cartagena, Colombia
Trip Location: Miami, Florida, USA
Trip Length: 6 days
Annual # Of Vacation Days: Unlimited
Companion’s # of Vacation Days: Unlimited
Costs: We took a direct flight from Cartagena (CTG) to Miami (MIA). It was almost three hours long and it was $120 per person. We also rented a luxury car to move around Miami for $250 for the whole time we will be there. Hubby paid for everything.
When did you book? Do you think you got a good deal?
We booked a month ago, my husband always finds the BEST deals. We usually spend around $200 to go to Florida from Colombia so $120 was definitely a good deal.
Cost: We are staying at the SLS Hotel South Beach, we paid $260 per night.
Miscellaneous pre-vacation spending:
– I went for my usual laser hair removal session: $80
– Nails: $30
– I bought two new swims for my vacation: $120
12:00 p.m. – We are super excited for our trip and leave our apartment around noon to go to the airport, which is only 15 minutes away. We take a taxi. We get to the airport and have plenty of time as we are not checking bags, however, we go directly through security and inside the boarding area where they have a VIP lounge, we snack there while we wait for our flight. We don’t have to pay for anything as we have Priority Pass. We start boarding around 1:30 pm. $3.
5:00 p.m. – We land at Miami International Airport and go through passport control. It sucks that my husband has an American passport and I don’t. I always take forever to go through customs and he has to wait for me outside, especially today as we need to look for our car rental and run some errands before going to the hotel. We get our rental which was already paid for, and get a free upgrade! Brand new Mercedes! Yay!
7:30 p.m. – We are finally able to check in at the hotel. As we drove, we have to pay for the valet ($46). We have a dinner reservation at Jaya at The Setai, which is a couple of blocks away and it’s supposed to be super nice. We run upstairs and start getting ready. $46
8:30 p.m. – We are ready and go down to the lobby to meet our friends, a couple who also travelled from Colombia to spend some days in Miami with us, we don’t see each other that often as they live in a different city, so we are very excited to see them!! We decide to walk to The Setai, when we get there we realized it’s even nicer and more beautiful than expected, we sit and order cocktails and food to share. Everything is AMAZING! It’s Asian Fusion, and included some Indian dishes, which is my favorite food. I can’t explain how delicious everything was. We split the check with our friends, pay for our part and head home as we are exhausted. $280
Daily Total: $329
11:00 a.m. – We sleep in! We were exhausted and this always happens when we go on vacation. It seems like our friends also were very tired and decided to sleep until late as well. We get ready, meet our friends again in the lobby, and drive to the Design District. We park our car and pay for parking ($3). We start walking around and found ourselves in front of Dior, and of course I made everyone go in. I saw a Dior choker a couple of weeks ago and loved it, so I wanted to try it on. My friend fell in love with the new Book Tote Bag, which I convince her to get, as we have a vacation planned for Italy at the end of the summer and it will look amazing there. I try on the choker and decide to get it ($567). We then head to a food court and get green juices and coffees ($14). $584
1:00 p.m. – We head to the Mandolin, a trendy Mediterranean restaurant, also in the Design District. I made our reservation a couple of weeks ago, and it was worth it. Food was amazing, we shared different dishes, and a bottle of white wine. We split the bill with our friends ($100). After dinner we move towards Wynwood and walk the streets while seeing some art. We stop by a coffee shop and drink some kombucha ($28). We go back to the hotel for a nap before dinnertime. $128
9:00 p.m. – We get ready and take an Uber to Brickell ($18) where we have a reservation at a Mexican place called Cantina y Veinte. We are very excited as we don’t really have good Mexican food back home, so we get excited and pretty much order the whole menu. We also get flavored margaritas and tequila shots. The check comes and again we split it ($175). We decide to go for more drinks, but everything seems to be dead as it’s only Tuesday, we take an Uber and go back to the hotel, our friends pay for the Uber. $193
Daily Total: $905
9:00 a.m. – My friend and I decide to go for a run while the hubbies rest, so we run and feel amazing about it. We treat ourselves to green juices, she gets the check.
12:00 p.m. – We take the car and go to Bal Harbour where we have a reservation for lunch and want to do some shopping. The reservation is at an Asian restaurant called Makoto. AMAZING! Every plate we ordered was outstanding. ($100) With full bellies and after some Japanese beers and sake we start to walk around the beautiful mall. My husband and I are not as shopaholic as our friends, so we are mostly just keeping them company as they shop. However, we stop at YSL and I fall in love with a bag, which to my surprise is on sale! And my husband encourages me to buy it. It’s BEAUTIFUL ($1,490). After spending our lifetime’s savings we decide to go back to the hotel as we are supposed to meet another friend for drinks at a rooftop soon. $1,590
8:00 p.m. – We head to Brickell in an Uber again ($18), as we have a dinner reservation at this new place called Marion. It is a dinner party-style kind of place. However we meet my friend L at Sugar rooftop for drinks before dinner. Everyone is excited and we order a bunch of cocktails, we pay ($180). $198
10:30 p.m. – We order a bunch of small dishes to share and a bottle of Don Julio 70, our new favorite tequila. Bottles are super expensive, so every time you order one they do a small show for the table with dancers and sparkles, it’s pretty fun! We dance all night and order a second bottle of tequila around 1:00 a.m. I drunk-text my best friend and tell her to stay away from boys. What a night! We split the check with our friends and pay for our part ($850) we then take a Uber back to the hotel (our friends pay). Before heading to bed we decide to go for pizza ($10). $860.
Daily Total: $2,648
11:00 a.m. – The hangover is real!!! We are dying!! I text my friend to cancel our morning plans, they are also not feeling well. We sleep for an hour more and then start getting ready, as we have things to do. My friend and I are running our first half marathon this year, so we need to get running shoes. But first, breakfast! Or I should say lunch. We are all pretty hungover so we decide to stop at Dunkin’ for egg sandwiches ($12). Then, we head to a running specialty store called Irun, if you are a runner and are in Miami you HAVE to go. It’s amazing! The owner is there and can do a running test to determine what type of runner you are, then he recommends different running shoes. We were so happy! We spend around two hours there and I buy everything I need ($380). $392.
1:30 p.m. – Back in the Design District, we grab a quick lunch at a casual restaurant ($75). We are all pretty tired but still have some shopping to do. As we live abroad there are things that are hard to find back home, for example we don’t have Sephora!!!! Can you imagine life without Sephora? We stop by Sephora while the boys go for a beer, and I go hard and get every possible thing I need, including a bunch of Dr. Jart’s masks, which are my favorite, Caudalie Vinoperfect Serum, and I also try Living Proof’s Restore Instant Protection Spray ($480). We drive back to the hotel and decide to stay in tonight. $555.
Daily Total: $947
9:00 a.m. – Last day in Miami!!! We are going home tomorrow morning. I go for a morning run to try out my new running shoes, and LOVE them. Today we are seeing a friend of ours that lives here in Miami on Fisher Island, so he invited us to a beach club also located on the island.
11:00 a.m. – We meet our friends at the lobby and head to the ferry that will take us to the island. We get there and realize how nice and beautiful this is; our friend meets us and guides us to the beach club, where his wife and daughter are waiting for us. We order food and drinks and enjoy of a lovely afternoon by the beach. They don’t let us pay for anything.
8:00 p.m. – Our friends recommended an Italian place called Call Me Gaby, so we head there for dinner. It’s a charming little restaurant, and the pizza is amazing. We eat and drink and get the check, we split it with our friends ($100). After dinner we go buy a couple other things at Whole Foods and Publix: It’s hard to get some stuff in Colombia, so we always go grocery shopping while we are here. Believe it or not, we always bring back butter… I know, weird. Also superfoods and healthy foodstuff are hard to find in Colombia, or very overpriced so we always get some of that stuff when we are abroad, like spirulina, coconut aminos, goji berries, almond flour, spices, and sauces. We pay and head home ($480). $580
Daily Total: $580
7:00 a.m. – We get up early to finish packing, especially the things that we bought yesterday at the supermarket and are in the mini fridge. After we finish we drive to the airport, where we give back the car and head to check in our bags. So sad to leave! But also kind of relieved to go home. Another amazing trip for the books!
10:00 a.m. – We leave the VIP lounge and head to the gate to board our plane. On our way there I stop to buy water and Harper’s Bazaar. $15
12:45 a.m. – We land in Cartagena! Finally. We take a taxi back to our apartment. $3
Daily Total: $18
How did you prepare for this trip?
As I own a concierge services company back home, I am used to doing my own research and I do not use any travel agencies. I am always on Instagram so that’s how I keep with new places in each location, also I love the Condé Nast Traveler website, and I use it a lot for traveling.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
Definitely our night out at Marion. It was amazing. We don’t party that much when we are home and going out when we are traveling is always a lot of fun.
What was the best meal or food you ate while you were there?
Best meal was Jaya at the Setai, everything we ordered was outstanding.
What advice would you give someone who is traveling to the same location?
I would have liked to stay in Brickell instead of Miami Beach, to be honest we spent most of our time in Brickell.
Is there anything about your trip you would do differently in retrospect?
Just to stay in the Four Seasons in Brickell. SLS was cool but room was tiny and we didn’t even go to the beach.
Is there anything you wished you had time to do, but didn’t?
Perez Museum. I would have liked to do less shopping and more touristy stuff.
Do you feel like you were there for the right length of time?
Even though I feel we didn’t do enough, I feel like it was enough time, I am not a fan of long trips.
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