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Taking my Mom on Vacation + My Cruise Trip Budget

I’m not rich, and the money I spend, I make. I haven’t been handed any funds to satiate my thirst for traveling, or given a stipend to put towards my adventure plans. I have, however, been given knowledge and ideas about the world- which drive my passion to explore it. One of my biggest goals in life is to travel the whole world, following my ultimate goal which is to make my family proud. My parents have worked hard to provide for me, and I’m always striving to see them happy.

So this year, as my mom’s birthday approached and I was tasked with finding her a gift, I was really trying to think out of the box. I didn’t know which perfume scent she’d want, a gift card didn’t seem personal enough, and I’ve seen her tickets/vouchers/event plans expire through passing weeks and forgotten dates. I figured there was no item that I could buy for her, and I was trying to figure out a fun thing for us to do together. I thought back to our “Mommy-and-Me” days when I was younger, and pondered how I could bring that back, but better. Of course I wanted to do something cool and fun, but mainly I just wanted to do something that would make her happy.

Personally, I know that one surefire way to make me happy is to take me on an unexpected adventure. Whether it’s a weekend trip (an Airbnb in a cute nearby town can be relatively inexpensive), an extravagant vacay, or a cost-effective Carnival cruise-- going out of your way to give someone an experience they won’t forget is one of the greatest things you can do. Think about it- if someone told you that they were taking you on a getaway, whether it be 30 miles away or to freakin’ Florence, Italy, you’d be too thrilled at the gesture to really care about the location. That’s definitely the case for me. Because experiences are so valuable amidst the stress of life, I knew I wanted to give my mom the chance to feel special and to share a wonderful experience together. We hadn’t been on a trip together, just her and I, since Disney World when I was four. This is why I decided that, to celebrate her birthday this past August, we were going to go cruisin’!

If you live in SoCal, you’ve probably heard of the 3-4 day cruises to Mexico that leave just about every weekend via Carnival cruise. I, of course, had heard of them.. however I had never been to Mexico let alone on a cruise ship. In July of 2017, roughly 1 month prior to booking the trip, I left America for the first time and visited Ireland. The experience of leaving the country, meeting my Irish family members, and exploring a new country really inspired me to seize opportunities. I decided that I want to see towns, countries, beaches, cities, forests, whenever I could. Truly, every single place in the world has such unique history.

Anyways, I wanted to show my mom a good time because I knew the very last thing she’d expect would be for her college-student daughter to take her on vacation.

The idea was pretty ambitious but all it took was a little research for me to conceptualize it coming together- and become too excited to let the idea go. I checked out the carnival cruise prices and figured out the cheapest 4-day trip that I could: A mid-december weekday cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. The coolest part (IMO) about Carnival cruise is the fact that it allows you to make a deposit on the reservation and pay the rest later… So that’s exactly what I did. For $150.00 I was able to reserve a room on the 4-day cruise and send my mom the confirmation ticket as a birthday gift. As I predicted, she was in complete shock. (I didn’t, however, predict all the crying that would ensue! The fact that she was moved to tears by the gesture was the best part of the entire experience, for sure.) In the coming months I had to come up with $452.60 to cover the rest of the cruise payment for two people. Keep in mind, had this payment been split, I would be paying roughly $226.30 over the course of two months to enjoy an all-inclusive* 4-day cruise. SO, if you’re looking into splitting a room/cruise with someone- it may be more affordable than you think.

To give you a timeline- I paid $150.00 on August 15th as a down payment, and then the additional $452.60 by October 12th. From there it was smooth sailin’ ‘til December 11th, our cruise date! From October to December, I was able to save up money for spending and additional expenses!

In total, it cost $602.60 to take my mom on a cruise. (She paid for our room deposits and a majority of the onboard spending.) These payments were spread out over the course of 4 months which gave me the chance to comfortably make the trip happen. We had so much fun, and giving my mom this gift meant so much to me. It made her feel lucky, and happy, and spoiled in a way that she doesn’t always get to. Experiences are often the things that put life into perspective the most-- more so than any item you can buy. And the moments you share in special places with special people can not be purchased or sold, only cherished.

*Not including the $100 deposit upon boarding (which pays for onboard spending), alcoholic beverages purchased onboard, or whatever daily excess spending/gratuity charges you incur.


About the Author

Ila B is impassioned by writing, learning, and helping others. She is a full-time Marketing student, and she mentors high school students in Los Angeles once a week. Outside of school and mentoring, she works 2 part time jobs, with a main focus on Real Estate. Her exciting career keeps her motivated, but her passion for writing is a creative outlet amidst her busy schedule. Ila writes to encourage others that their journey is not comparable to anyone else’s, and their progress will come when it’s meant to. She wants people to celebrate themselves for everything they are now, despite where they want to be. And she wants to address social issues, because through social advocacy she believes this generation is changing the world.

Instagram: @ila.1

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