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How I Planned a Low-key, Cheap Trip to South Beach

For my 28th birthday, I decided to travel to South Beach or as it is formally called on any map, Miami Beach, Florida. I wanted a nice beachfront getaway many miles away from home that wouldn’t break my wallet. Most flights from Atlanta to Miami were around $250 or less so that basically solidified my choice. But then I remembered that I went there for spring break several years before and had a horrible experience. And how pretentious people tourists in South Beach are.

After a few weeks of contemplation, I thought that maybe I could give SoBe a go again and make it a good time. And I did. This is how:

I researched the area. TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, OpenTable, and Instagram became my best friends.

TripAdvisor gave me insight into prospective hotels, bars, and restaurants. I perused many reviews and traveler photos. After figuring out what hotel to visit, I watched it on Hotels.com for about a month before booking a room.

OpenTable gave me a rough estimate of menu prices, as many of the websites did not include those details.

Instagram showed me an authentic perspective of the environment. For an example, before looking up the details of certain touristy spots, I would look it up on Instagram to see what the food looked like or what type of clothes people wore there. This helped me pack appropriately because my friends and I intentionally wanted to go to a few places.

Because I didn’t want a stunt-ation, I left the heels at home. I treated this trip like an extended weekend at home. All I needed were shorts, tank tops, maxi skirts, and flat sandals. If a location required a fancier dress code, we weren’t going. This eliminated a lot of the Instagram-driven nightlife spots. But it also opened us up to fun, local spots like Purdy Lounge. It’s amazing how much money you save by not including bodycon dresses and stilettos.

Some places in South Beach capitalize off being in South Beach. This means pricier eateries off the strip. We found a few spots that had delicious, yet cheap foods so we went there several times. By not being afraid of eating at the same restaurant multiple times, like Front Porch Cafe, we avoided taking the risk of eating at a high-priced, average-quality place.

And I passed on bringing back souvenirs. My mom and boyfriend are probably better off without some Miami-branded tchotchke. I sent them photos the entire time we were there anyway. I’m sure sending the photos as they happened was more interesting than a shot glass or a license-plate magnet.

Overall, I treated South Beach as if I were a local. I didn’t let the flashiness of the location override my desire for a chill vacation. I mean, really, that’s it. That’s the key to a low-key, cheap trip anywhere, I’m sure. I enjoyed a more genuine experience that way also.

If anyone is reading this and uses any of these tips, let me know. I hope it works out as well for you as it did for me.

This post was originally posted on my old blog, socialeigh, in June 2015.

2 comments

  1. I have only been to Miami one time and it was to visit a friend who was living there over the summer doing a rotation for PT school. So we just stayed at her apartment of course. I did find out fast how expensive the restaurants are there! We went to South Beach one day and it was obvious how expensive the hotels and food were. I was grateful I was just staying at my friend’s place.

    1. It’s super ridiculous. Pretending to be a local makes it so much more affordable.

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