One very pregnant lady, a convertible sports car and the Pacific Highway. Weeks before our little one joined us earthside, my husband and I took an epic babymoon. From San Francisco to Seattle, our West Coast road trip spanned ten days and 800 miles -- and only cost $2,500!
Let’s face it. Not everyone has the budget to go big on their babymoon. That’s okay. You don’t need to go to Bali to make incredible memories with your partner. You can have an amazing babymoon on the other side of the country or upstate, at a price point that works for you. What’s most important is that you do it, because trust me: once your tiny one is in your arms, it’ll be a while before date night -- or conversations that don’t center around the consistency of baby poop -- happens again.
To help get you hit the road, here are some of our tried and true tricks to help you save big, because after all: you have a baby on the way!
Saving on flights. If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, one of my favorite tricks for saving money is Google flights. Type in your dates and departure airport and Google will show you all the places you can go, by price. You can even set your maximum ticket fare, so you don’t get FOMO when you realize Tahiti is just out of budget.
Hotel alternatives. AirBnb, Homeaway and VRBO are great ways to feel like a local on your trip, and save some cash. Four star hotels in Portland are upward of $250. On our trip instead, we stayed in the most beautifully designed studio apartment for $92/night. The bathroom had heated floors and a large shower (perfect for big baby bellies), and the kitchenette helped us save even more by eating breakfast in. Plus, our hosts were kind enough to tell us where the best local latte was. Score!
Affordable five star hotels. If you’d rather feel glamorous in a five star hotel, I feel ya. When you’re in the mood for luxury on a budget, Priceline’s Name Your Own Price function is the way to go. A lot of people are nervous to try this because you don’t know what hotel you’re booking, but here’s the secret: Priceline will show you the area the hotel is in on the map and let you choose how many stars you want. Select five stars, then in another tab, Google “five star hotels in Palm Springs” and select map view. Compare the maps and you can narrow it down to two or three hotels that you might be bidding on.
Stay with a friend. Want a great getaway, but don’t want to shell out the cash for the Intercontinental Hotel or a fancy AirBnb? Think about friends or family members you have in great cities! A sister in Berkeley, a cousin in New Orleans. Maybe your college roommate has a guestroom at her place in Miami. You’ll have fun reconnecting and save major funds you can redirect to more important things, like that fancy chef’s tasting menu or a prenatal spa day.
Costco or Sam’s Club perks. These membership stores can save you major cash on vehicle rentals. We used the Costco website to book a Jeep Wrangler for an upcoming trip to Hawaii for, get this, less than $500 for 8 days! The cheapest we could find on other sites was than $800+. Who doesn’t want a Jeep in Hawaii?!
Credit card perks. Book with your credit card, not your debit! Many cards, like Amex or branded Visas, have mad perks like points that give you cash back or free checked bags (if you have the United Visa). I shop exclusively with my Wells Fargo credit card because of the cash back incentive. And if your credit card comes with concierge service, absolutely use it. You can ask the concierge to email you flight / hotel / rental vehicle quotes so you can compare cost of different locations.
All inclusive getaways. If you really want to be pampered, consider an all inclusive getaway. Resorts like Club Med keep it really simple by letting you know exactly how much you’re going to spend -- food included! Though you’d have to spring for your own ticket, you could stay in the Maldives for as little as $192/night.
Staying local. Maybe close to home is more your style, especially if you’re in the third trimester or just a little nervous to be away from your own physicians. You’ll save major by not renting a car or splurging on airfare, but you can save even more by booking your hotel last minute. If you can handle the uncertainty, Forbes suggests three new apps to help you book killer deals last minute: HotelTonight, HotelQuickly and One Night.
Cheap eats. A room or house with a kitchen lets you save by cooking in a few times. Most pregnant mamas need to eat the second they wake up in the morning, anyway -- might as well stock the fridge! Another way to save on food is by using the dollar sign filter on Yelp. If you know you need to watch your spending, select $$ before you hit search so you won’t be tempted by all those Michelin star dining experiences. And, this has nothing to do with money but I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my favorite travel tip: Reddit. Search best restaurants in whatever town you’re travelling to on Reddit and chances are your mind will be blown. In fact, search it for your own neighborhood right now and you just might find your new favorite hole-in-the-wall.
Being friendly. Okay, this might sound silly, but just be friendly to people! When we started our babymoon road trip in San Francisco, I mentioned to the woman at the rental car desk how excited I was to see the Redwood National Park. In addition to congratulating me on my growing bump, she upgraded us to a convertible for free because, “you have to see the redwoods with the top down!” Sometimes it totally pays to put your phone in your pocket and just chat with people.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration for a West Coast road trip of your own, here’s more about where we stayed and what we ate!
Photography by Hanna Nakano.