I’m 38 & This Is How Much My Fiancé & I Spent On A Trip To The French Riviera

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 38-year-old sales director goes to the French Riviera with her fiancé for some sun, shopping, and gambling.

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Age: 38
Occupation: Sales Director
Salary: $120,000 (£93,168)
Travel Companion: Fiancé, A.
Travel Companion's Salary: $110,000 (£85,404)

Hometown: Los Angeles
Trip Location: French Riviera (Cannes, Nice, Monaco)
Trip Length: 9 Days
Annual # Of Vacation Days: 23
Companion’s # of Vacation Days: Unlimited (works for himself) 

Transportation 
Costs: I booked my round-trip flight using my credit card travel site and used some rewards points. I used 41,437 rewards points and charged $1,187.06 (£921.59) for the flight. I flew from LAX to JFK, had a two-hour layover, then flew from JFK to Nice. I had the same connections and layover going back to LA. For our departure day, we booked a flat-rate private local car service through our hotel, to take us from our hotel in Monaco to Nice Airport, since Uber is not available in Monaco it cost $75 (£58.23) for my half.

Total: $1,262.06 (£979.86)

Accommodations:
We stayed at three different hotels during our stay: Two nights in Cannes at Hotel Barrière Le Majestic, booked through my credit card travel site, which included daily breakfast and an upgrade to a nicer room ($397.90 (£308.93) for my half). Two nights in Nice at Le Méridien, booked direct through the Marriott app—we were upgraded to a nicer room for being a Gold member ($331.34 (£257.25) for my half). Three nights in Monaco at Le Méridien Beach Plaza, booked direct through the Marriott app—also upgraded to a nicer room for being a Gold member ($605.15 (£469.84) for my half).

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Total: $1,334.39 (£1036.02)

Miscellaneous pre-vacation spending: 
Gel mani/pedi: $137.00 (£106.37)
Toms espadrilles (purchased so I could have cute and comfortable walking shoes other than sneakers): $54.70 (£42.47)
2 pairs of pants, 2 tops from Athleta, 2 cardigans from Banana Republic, and a pair of Allbirds: $530.64 (£411.99)

Total: $722.34 (£560.82)

Miscellaneous post-vacation spending: None

Day One

6:05 a.m. – Take an Uber to LAX.  Unfortunately, there is surge pricing, but luckily I’m Uber Platinum and get a flat rate between two destinations of my choice. I chose LAX because it’s ALWAYS surge pricing. $44.99 (£44.99)

7:00 a.m. – Check in and head to the Delta lounge to grab breakfast before my flight. I make a random bowl of home fries, scrambled eggs, avocado, and ketchup. I put in AirPods and start to watch an episode of Married at First Sight on my phone, until a stranger strikes up a conversation with me. Since I’m in vacation mode, I oblige and make small talk for a bit. Free (with credit card)

8:20 a.m. – Head to Starbucks because I am a complete addict and order my usual iced triple espresso ($4.40 (£3.43)). I also buy a sandwich ($8.03 (£6.23)), since I won’t land at JFK for my layover until 6:00 p.m. ET. $12.43 (£9.65)

8:30 a.m. – Stop by the gift shop to get a Smartwater for the flight. $4.69 (£3.64)

9:00 a.m. – Board my flight to JFK. Good news is that Delta flights to JFK now offer a meal. Too bad I already bought that Starbucks sandwich! I decide to take advantage of the veggie wrap on board but only eat the insides, since I know I’ll be eating tons of carbs over vacation. I order a sparkling wine with complete disregard that it’s 9 a.m., because #outofoffice. During the flight I start reading Beloved (chosen by the book club I just joined). I watch one episode of White Gold that I downloaded from Netflix, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which is much worse than I remembered. Somewhere in between, I doze off for a bit.  $9 (£6.99)

6:00 p.m. – I land at JFK and transfer to the international terminal. I stop to buy a book for A. since he finished his other book on the way to Nice (he arrived the night before). Buying a book for someone else is HARD, especially when I’m not sure what he has or hasn’t read already. Because he’s asleep, I take a chance on a David Sedaris book that, if nothing else, will be light beach reading. $19.59 (£15.21)

6:30 p.m. – I stop in the Delta lounge to get a drink, and it is completely mobbed. I’m finally able to order their drink special—a strawberry-watermelon sangria—but it’s way too sweet for me. I tip anyway ($3 (£2.33)) because the bartender is working his butt off. As usual, boarding is a total cluster and I can’t resist buying Dunkin' Donuts hash browns ($4.22 (£3.28)) while I wait. $7.22 (£5.61)

8:10 p.m. – Flight from JFK to Nice takes off. I meet a nice woman heading to French language school for her birthday. Turns out she’s reading Beloved, too. We chat for a bit before I settle in to watch The Other Woman and drink more sparkling wine (free). Luckily, I end up snoozing for most of the flight, since it lands in Nice on Saturday a.m. with the time difference.

Daily Total: $97.92 (£76.03)


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Day Two

10:30 a.m. – I land in Nice, and after a long and uneventful customs clearance, I meet my fiancé, A. He’s currently staying in Europe, and it was cheaper for him to fly in early and stay overnight near the airport. We split an Uber from the airport to the Hotel Barrière Le Majestic in Cannes for the first part of the trip. Although the main international airport is in Nice, we thought it made more sense to start in Cannes and work our way east to end in Monaco, instead of bouncing back and forth. $30 (£23.29) for my half of the Uber

11:30 a.m. – It takes about 40 minutes to Cannes. Because it’s early, our room isn’t ready yet, so we store our bags and decide to get food at the outdoor bar. I’m still in my travel clothes and dying for a shower. It’s so humid, which I’m no longer used to now, living in L.A. We split a chicken club, croques monsieur canapés, and petite waffle fries. I have an Aperol spritz (too heavy on the Aperol), and A. gets a non-alcoholic cocktail of some sort. $57.92 (£44.97) for my half

2:00 p.m. – Just when I think I can’t take anymore heat, we get the call that our room is ready. We unpack, and I take a nap to help offset the jet lag while A. takes a short walk to explore and check out the Gucci store. He bought a pair of shoes recently but isn’t sure he bought the right ones, so he wants to double-check. 

5:30 p.m. – While I’m still sleeping, A. heads back out to buy bottles of water at a nearby market, since the minibar water costs $11 (£8.54) each. He gets four bottles for $8 (£6.21).    

7:30 p.m. – We have dinner reservations at Le Jardin at the Martinez Hotel — they have live jazz on Saturday nights. It’s cooled off a bit so I’m not sweating to death, but I manage to break the buckle on my shoe. I make a mental note to get it repaired when I return to L.A. We split a specialty pizza topped with anchovies. (By split I mean A. eats most of it because it’s too pungent for me.) We also split risotto and a delicious burrata-and-tomato dish. I have three cocktails, A. drinks a ginger beer, and we split a bottle of Evian. Before we know it, it’s 11:30 p.m.! We FaceTime every day, but since we only see each other every few months, we’re making up for lots of missed date nights. We slowly stroll back to the hotel to crash. $100.65 (£78.14) for my half

Daily Total: $188.57 (£146.41)

Day Three

10:00 a.m. – Surprisingly, I slept through most of the night. We get up and get dressed for the beach and head down to the free continental breakfast that’s included with our room. There are so many people that we have to wait in line to be seated. After a while, we decide if we aren’t seated in 5 minutes that we’ll ask for two croissants to go and hit the beach. One minute later we’re seated and eat a light breakfast of eggs, croissants, fruit, etc. 

10:30 a.m. – We are set up with two loungers on our hotel’s private beach. We each pay ($71.71 (£55.68)) to reserve chairs for the day on the second row from the water. It’s quiet and peaceful, and we intend to stay here all day. The weather is gorgeous, and we split sushi and chicken Caesar salad for lunch, with a big bottle of Evian ($46.30 (£35.95) for my half). I read a bit more of my book, swim, and then A. gets my iPad from the room so we can watch the 2:00 p.m. Formula One race on the beach. I don’t want to overdo it by drinking in the sun, but I do have two glasses of rosé ($21.00 (£16.30)). I like to sip it with ice, and after I ask the waiter three times for more ice, he finally brings me a huge bucket. Score! We go back to the hotel for a pre-dinner nap. $139.01 (£107.93)

7:45 p.m. – We walk up a long, steep, winding road in 100% humidity (and me in heels!) to Table 22 for dinner. Our reservation is for 8 p.m., but they are able to seat us early. Thank God, because once the restaurant fills up, the service (and air conditioning) slows considerably. I start dinner with a glass of Louis Roederer Rosé Champagne. The restaurant offers a prix fixe menu, and I have zucchini flowers, risotto (again), a cheese plate, and chocolate cake. We also get a bottle of Badoit, since A. loves sparkling water. (I don’t find it refreshing at all.) After that we slowly stroll back to the hotel. $66.87 (£51.92) for my half

Daily Total: $205.88 (£159.85)

Day Four

10:00 a.m. – We take our time getting up and packing, since we’ll head back to Nice later today to stay for a few days. We decide to skip breakfast since we’re both still full from dinner. We check out, store our bags, and go off to explore a bit on foot. 

12:00 p.m. – After walking around town for a while, we pop into a cute store called Sabon and I buy two tubes of scented hand cream for myself and one for my mom as a gift. The store’s register stops working, but it comes back online just as I am about to suggest we come back later. $57.53 (£44.67)

12:30 p.m. – We are getting hungry, so we stop for savoury ham-and-cheese crepes at a small place I read about, La Galette de Marie. They are simple and delicious and just enough to tide us over. I also have an espresso and A. has a hot chocolate. $13.50 (£10.48) for my half

1:30 p.m. – We walk into a pharmacy across the street, as A. had me bring a new pair of Vans to him and they’re giving him blisters. He buys blister pads, aloe vera for a bit of sunburn, and a tube of Marvis Jasmin Mint toothpaste as a treat for me. 

2:00 p.m. – As we peruse the streets, I see cool retro-style postcards at a souvenir shop. I buy a few ($3(£2.33)). I also get a trinket tray ($4 (£3.11)) for my sister. $7 (£5.43)

2:45 p.m. – Starbucks time! Usually when I travel overseas, I have to explain a few times that I don’t want water or milk added, but they make my drink perfectly ($5 (£3.88)). I also buy a Strawberry Donut Frappuccino for A. ($7(£5.43)). $12 (£9.32)

4:00 p.m. – After browsing a few more shops, we walk back to the hotel to get our bags and take an Uber from Cannes to Nice. We decide to take Uber Berline (the French version of Uber Black), since surge pricing has it as the same price as Uber X. We hop into a Mercedes sedan and hit the road. $51 (£39.60) for my half 

4:45 p.m. – We arrive at Le Méridien Nice and receive an upgrade as Marriott Bonvoy Gold members. Since Marriott & SPG merged and added more rewards tiers, the perks of being a Gold member aren’t as luxurious as they used to be, but it seems to be paying off in France so far. We had plans to go to a restaurant right on the water, but since neither of us wanted to get back into a car and it wasn’t within walking distance, we decide to find a local restaurant instead. That gives me time to unpack and prepare A.’s birthday presents for tomorrow while he naps. When he wakes up, we get ready and hit the streets to find dinner. 

8:15 p.m. – We are near Old Nice and there are rows and rows of restaurants, but most are full. We eventually settle on al fresco dining at an Italian place called Casa Leya. We split ham-and-cheese arancini, I order a pizza, and A. orders gnocchi. We both get full very quickly. I also order an Aperol spritz. The restaurants here go really heavy on the Aperol. I wish they had a little more “spritz.” A. eats most of his gnocchi, but I can barely finish half the pizza. $28.74 (£22.31) for my half 

10:00 p.m. – Not ready to go back to our hotel yet, we stop at Hotel Negresco for a nightcap. They make the most delicious Mediterranean spritz — I have three of them. A. also drinks two ginger beers while we discuss his writing ideas against the background of jazz Marvin Gaye covers. It is the perfect night, and we close the place down. I pay because A. doesn’t drink, so I usually pick up any bar tabs. $102.78 (£79.80)

Daily Total: $272.55 (£211.61)
Day Five

10:00 a.m. – Today is A.’s birthday. We decide to snooze, since we only have a pool day planned. Somehow we get on the topic of Missy Elliott at the VMAs. Since he grew up in England, he’s not super familiar with her, so I proceed to show him all of her videos on YouTube. We FaceTime with his parents, who wish him a happy birthday. Then he opens his cards and presents from family and friends.

12:00 p.m. – We head up to the rooftop pool. Because the beach is rocky in Nice, we thought a pool day might be better. The pool area is teeny, and they only have upright deck chairs to sit in. Bad decision on our part. Hunger kicks in, and we ask to be seated at the rooftop terrace restaurant. Although it’s completely empty, the hostess says all tables are booked. A. gets irritated, so we change clothes and head out in search of food.

1:00 p.m. – I remember another place I read about, La Femme du Boulanger, so we stop there for lunch. We both have delicious open-faced sandwiches. I have a Coca-Cola Light, and A. gets a lemonade. $25.50 (£19.80) for my half

2:00 p.m. – We’re undecided on exploring more or going back to the pool. We stop by one of the beach clubs but decide not to spend $50 on beach chairs for two hours, so back to the pool we go. I have two G&T’s while reading more of Beloved, and A. has a ginger beer and naps in the sun. $45.23 (£35.12)

5:45 p.m. – We get an Uber Black to dinner ($11.50 (£8.93) for my half). Tonight’s my special treat for A.’s birthday. We are dining at Jan. It’s my first true Michelin star experience, and although it’s not for A., he still thinks it’s one of the best he’s visited. The restaurant only does two seatings a night and a prix fixe menu. I add the wine pairing, and A. adds the nonalcoholic beverage pairing. The food and wine are both incredible, and the service was impeccable ($319.81 (£248.30)). At the end of our meal, they give us a special copy of the menu and a note signed by the restaurant staff. A. decides he liked Hotel Negresco so much he wants to go back, and I’m not going to object to more Mediterranean tonic cocktails, so we ride over in an Uber Black ($12.00 (£9.32) for my half).  I’m getting used to these Mercedes E Class rides. $343.31 (£266.55)

9:00 p.m. – I have two drinks, and A. has his usual ginger beer. We nestle into our same seat from the night before to chat and people watch before walking back to the hotel to crash. $64.84 (£50.34)

Daily Total: $478.88 (£371.80)
Day Six

11:00 a.m. – Wake up and see the results of my work Fantasy Football draft, which started while I was asleep — not too shabby. We check out of the hotel and store our bags, since we are heading to Monaco later. We had grand visions of being up and out at 9 a.m. Oh well. 

11:30 a.m. – Starbucks time! I order my usual ($5 (£3.88)) and hot chocolate for A. ($4 (£3.11)). (How he can drink a hot drink in this heat is beyond me.) $9.00 (£6.99)

12:30 p.m. – After a browse in Zara Home, we decide to grab food at Pain & Cie. I have a classic French baguette with butter, ham, and cheese — a throwback to my study abroad days in Paris. While there, we chat with a father and daughter from Hong Kong, who are in town for an Ironman competition. Before moving to L.A., I spent 1.5 years working in China near HK, so it’s interesting to hear their perspective on the recent protests. $14.12 (£10.96) for my half

1:30 p.m. – We walk up to Castle Hill to take scenic photos. There was an actual castle here until the 1700s, and now it’s a public park with gorgeous panoramic views of the coastline and Old Port. We take the elevator up but walk back down the stairs. I am really sweaty, but we march on because A. wants to go to St. James to get a heritage striped boatneck shirt.  

2:30 p.m. – Although we’re here for A., I somehow get roped into trying things on, too...mostly because the shopkeeper doesn’t speak much English, and after a few days my French is coming back to me. As I’m translating for A., she asks if I want to try anything on. I end up buying a cute navy sweater with silver buttons. I can’t even THINK about wearing a sweater right now, here or in L.A. $208.64 (£161.99)

3:45 p.m. – We head back to the hotel and stop in the downstairs bar for a drink to cool off before we get our Uber to Monaco. You know the deal — G&T for me, ginger beer for A. $33.18 (£25.76)

4:20 p.m. – We get our Uber to Monaco. The driver is a lovely and very talkative lady who speaks little English. She and I chat the entire drive, while A. tries to pick up on the conversation a little bit. She offers us her card and says she does airport transfers, since Monaco doesn’t have Uber. She’s cheaper than the car we’ve already booked, but I'm not sure our communication will be good enough for us to try and rearrange later. Plus, to be honest, I'd rather let the hotel deal with the logistics. I will keep her card for future trips. $25.00 (£19.41) for my half

5:00 p.m. – We check into Le Méridien Beach Plaza and are upgraded because of our Marriott Bonvoy Gold status. We get a really cool semicircular room with an ocean view. We unpack and walk around for an hour to get the lay of the land before dinner. I’d planned to wear a skirt and wedges, but I just can’t. I throw on jeans and flats and am so happy I did, since we get completely lost and walk for-ev-er to the restaurant. We underestimated how hilly Monaco is. So many stairs! 

8:20 p.m. – We make it to Il Terrazzino for dinner. We had a reservation for 8 p.m., but it’s a very laid-back atmosphere, so it’s no big deal. We split meatballs and ravioli, chocolate cake, and chocolate-covered profiteroles. A. has sparkling water, and I have a Coke Zero. $31.50 (£24.46) for my half

10:30 p.m. – After dinner we walk back to the hotel in half the time. Isn’t that the worst?! We decide to get a nightcap in the hotel bar and play on our phones. G&T for me, ginger beer for A. $20.58 (£15.98)

Daily Total: $342.02 (£265.54)
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Day Seven

7:00 a.m. – Wake up early because we want to get breakfast at Café de Paris. They don’t take reservations for breakfast, and we aren’t sure if it will be crowded. I answer a few work emails, then we’re off. 

9:30 a.m. – We have a delicious prix fixe breakfast of fruit, eggs, breads, juice, and espresso. It’s completely quiet, but as we’re leaving, the tour groups start to roll in. $35.00 (£27.17) for my half

10:00 a.m. – We each purchase a pass to tour the Casino de Monte-Carlo. With the entry fee, we get free admission later tonight when gambling starts, but since no photos are allowed then, we take advantage of the photo ops now. The rooms are magnificent, but it’s much smaller than expected, with only a handful of gaming tables. $19 (£14.75)

11:00 a.m. – We stop in the gift shop next door. I get a keychain for myself ($7.50 (£5.82)), a hat for my dad ($30.23(£23.47)), and another retro postcard ($2 (£1.55)). $39.73 (£30.85)

12:00 p.m. – We peruse the shops, and I spend quite a bit of time in Alexander McQueen. I’ve wanted an AM bag for a while, and they pull one out of storage that is perfect. I’m ready to pull the trigger, but A. is the more levelheaded one and suggests we walk and think about it (and also compare prices online to see what the exchange-rate difference is). 

1:00 p.m. – Head to Starbucks, but (gasp!) they have no syrups, no sugar of any kind. Choices are pre-bottled drinks, water, or tea. I’m totally defeated and going through caffeine withdrawals, but A. buys himself a bottle of water and we get on the spotty Wi-Fi. I can’t find the bag online, but similar versions are more expensive in the U.S., so between the cheaper price and VAT refund, it’s probably worth it. I can’t subsist on water alone, so I get a Venti iced tea. $4.50 (£5.80)

1:30 p.m. – Not totally ready to pull the trigger yet, we keep walking over to the port to look at the humongous yachts and grab lunch. We end up at a café called Le Pattaya. I get a ham and cheese crepe and a G&T. A. orders a bacon club sandwich and a Coke. $32 (£24.84) for my half

3:00 p.m. – I decide the bag is worth it, so back to Alexander McQueen we go. $2,747.72 (£2133.33)

4:30 p.m. – After walking back to the hotel, we grab our usual drinks from the bar (G&T for me, ginger beer for A.) but take them up to the room to chill. I think A. will like the White Gold show, since it’s based in England, so we watch an episode before dinner. $20.58 (£15.98)

6:45 p.m. – We grab a taxi to dinner at Yoshi in the Hotel Metropole. $8.50 (£6.60) for my half

7:00 p.m. – Our reservation isn’t until 7:30 p.m., so we head to the hotel bar for a pre-dinner drink. G&T for me, ginger beer for A.  Sounds so boring, but I guess we like what we like. $41.93 (£32.55)

7:30 p.m. – We sit for dinner, and the entire experience is very weird. We aren’t thrilled by the tasting menus, so we decide to order à la carte. The waiter is pretty pushy, trying to get us to do the tasting at $243 (£188.67) each. What a turnoff. We proceed to order veal gyoza, salmon sashimi, and a sushi platter. We’re still a little hungry, so we order wagyu and foie gras rolls. Feeling satisfied, we ask for the check, at which point the waiter informs us that one of A.’s good friends called ahead to the restaurant and wanted us to have something special. The restaurant brings out an extra dish of perfectly cooked wagyu, which is a nice treat. We order two desserts and then ask for the check, at which point the waiter informs us that A.’s friend is picking up the entire tab as a birthday present! He wanted us to have the tasting but didn’t want us to know he was paying, so it explains why the waiter kept pushing us. Our final dish is a special dessert with mochi ice cream and a note from A.’s friend. We are speechless. 

10:30 p.m. – We walk over to Casino de Monte-Carlo. Although we abided by the dress code (I am wearing a long black dress, and A. has on a jacket), there are quite a few people in jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers. Because there are only a few tables, it is difficult to get in and play. After a while A. uses some birthday cash from my parents ($60 (£46.58)) to play roulette, but at $20 a bet, it goes pretty quickly. We decide to take a break, have a few drinks ($52.97 (£41.13)), and sit and people watch. The entire room is very low energy. I spend and lose $11 (£8.54) in a James Bond slot machine. When the roulette tables open up a bit, we decide to play more. I drop $100 (£77.64) on the table and am almost down and out, but then somehow I manage to win back all of my $100 and some of A.’s. $63.97 (£49.67), including the lost slot money 

2:00 a.m. – We take a taxi back to the hotel — I can’t believe how late we stayed up. $8.50 for my half (£6.60)

Daily Total: $3,021.43 (£2345.84)
Day Eight

11:00 a.m. – We sleep in after our late night, and the only plans for our last day are the beach and dinner. Luckily, we don’t have to pay for beach access as hotel guests. A. orders a fruit smoothie cocktail, and I order rosé on ice while reading more of Beloved. We go for a dip in the water and then split a club sandwich and Caesar salad for lunch. I start to doze off in the lounge chair with the perfect breeze when it begins to rain. $57.37 (£44.54) for my half 

2:00 p.m. – We pack up and go back to the room to watch more White Gold and nap. Eventually we have to get up to get ready for our last dinner. 

7:00 p.m. – We go down to the lobby to get pre-dinner drinks and are going to take a taxi to the restaurant, but the concierge informs us that the restaurant offers a free car-shuttle service and would come at 8 p.m. to pick us up. $18.72 (£14.53)

8:20 p.m. – We arrive at Beefbar, and I order a G&T and a steak. A. orders a burger and we split fries, onion rings, and mashed potatoes. I want dessert, but A. doesn’t (and points out that I always eat two bites, then leave him having to finish the rest, so we shouldn’t order any). He’s not wrong. $101.45 (£78.77) for my half 

10:00 p.m. – After dinner, we take the free shuttle to Le Bar Américain for a nightcap. There’s a jazz trio playing, but they stop for a break just as we sit down to order. It doesn’t matter much, since it is primo people watching. I order a glass of rosé, and A. has a ginger beer ($38.71 (£30.05)). We consider going back to the casino, but since we have to get up early tomorrow, we decide against it and just take a taxi back to the hotel ($8.50 (£6.60) for my half). $47.21 (£36.65)

Daily Total: $224.75 (£174.50)
Day Nine

6:40 a.m. – Up early as our pre-booked car service will take us to the airport at 8 a.m. So sad that the trip is over, since it also means we go our separate ways again, without knowing when we’ll next see each other. 

8:40 a.m. – We arrive at Nice Airport to check in for our separate flights. Unfortunately, my check-in doesn’t open until 9:00 a.m., but A. reminds me I have VAT to collect back, so we go do that to pass the time. One bonus benefit of buying merchandise abroad is being able to collect the sales tax back as a refund when returning to the U.S.

9:00 a.m. – Total disaster. Alexander McQueen gave me the wrong paperwork, so the customs agent won’t process my sales tax refund. It’s nearly $300 (£232.92) I should be getting back, and of course the store doesn’t open until 10:30 a.m., which will be too late. I try calling at 9:30 a.m., but no one answers. I’m completely bummed out, but there’s nothing more to do now except check in for the flight and contact them later.

9:45 a.m. – Stop in at duty free to get a few gifts for coworkers ($47.75 £37.07)) and a gigantic Toblerone bar for A. ($5 (£3.88)). $52.75 (£40.96)

10:00 a.m. – Settle in at the airport lounge. There are two lounges, but since A. can’t access the international terminal, we go to the lounge near his gate. The lounge agent can’t understand why I don’t want to go to the one near my own gate, so we explain that we want to be in the same one. Eventually she acquiesces and we sit. I’m too disappointed to eat, but A. has toast with Nutella and brings me candy. I get a piece of bread and what I think is butter, but it’s honey. I go back to get butter and get what’s actually creamer. No butter. This really isn’t my day. (The cost of the lounge is free with Priority Pass, which is free if you're an Amex Platinum member.)

11:30 a.m. – I kiss A. goodbye and go to my gate, which has a Starbucks (yes!!). I order my drink and a water ($6 (£4.66)) and get a sandwich for my flight from another kiosk ($4.37 (£3.39)) because I can’t resist one last baguette with butter, ham, and cheese. $10.37 (£8.05)
 

12:15 p.m. – Time to depart for JFK. I’m wide awake, so I watch The Hustle — sadly not very good. I start the new Aladdin but fall asleep before he meets the Genie. After a nap, I decide to watch Late Night — great movie — and a few episodes of The Neighbourhood, which is hilarious. 

3:30 p.m. – Arrive in JFK and have a long layover, which is good because I have to clear customs (a quick process, thanks to Global Entry), pick up my bag (not quick), recheck my bag for the domestic portion of the flight, walk to a new terminal, go through security again (quick thanks to Clear and TSA Pre), and then head to the Delta lounge.

4:30 p.m. – I finish watching that episode of Married at First Sight while eating a snack of olives and cheese and drinking sparkling rosé. Trying to hang on to that last little glimmer of vacation.

6:00 p.m. – Finally depart for LAX. I put on Sex and the City 2 and immediately fall asleep until we arrive in L.A. I know it’s not good and will make it harder to sleep at night, but I’m exhausted. 

9:00 p.m. – Arrive at LAX. Pick up my bag and get a Starbucks ($3.12 (£2.42)) and an Uber home ($35.99 (£27.94)). $39.11 (£30.37)

Daily Total: $102.23 (£79.37)

Trip Total: $4,934.23 (£3,830.94)
How did you save up for this trip?  
I didn't save any money specifically for this trip. I do have a separate savings and checking account, but typically I will use my credit card for as much of the trip as I can to accumulate points. Once it's time to pay the bill, I will either use existing money in my checking account or dip into my savings to pay for any extra purchases (like the Alexander McQueen bag).

How do you budget for vacations in general?
I just go for it. You only live once, and I keep enough of a cushion saved that I'm not putting my regular bills and rent at risk when taking any trips. 

How did you prepare for this trip?
I did most of my research on sites like Culture Trip, Thrillist, Eater, Instagram, Michelin Guide, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure

Did you use credit card points/miles to pay for parts of this trip?
Only for my flight. I booked my round-trip flight using my credit card travel site and used some rewards points to reduce the total price. I used 41,437 rewards points + charged $1,187.06 (£921.63) for the flight to my card. 

Do you have credit card debt as a result of booking this vacation?
I either paid cash, used a debit card, or used a credit card, which I pay off in full every month.

What was your favourite part of the trip? The best part of the trip was the dinner at Jan. By far the most inventive food and five-star service I’ve ever experienced. There’s a reason why certain restaurants are granted Michelin stars. You are treated impeccably, as I can only imagine any celebrity would be treated, and the creativity of the chef’s food preparation, pairing, and styling is unlike anything else.

What was the best meal or food you ate while you were there?
After Jan, the second best was the wagyu at Yoshi in Monaco.

Is there a tourist trap you wish you had avoided?
Not a tourist trap as such, but the Monte Carlo casino was not as glamorous as expected. It’s worth visiting during the day to see the opulent Old World decor and because entrance is free at night with the ticket price. It could be fun to experience the gambling for an hour or so, but I wouldn’t recommend planning to spend an entire evening there.

What advice would you give someone who is traveling to the same location?
Research and book reservations in advance for meals, beach clubs, etc.

Is there anything about your trip you would do differently in retrospect?
Plan for Monaco over a weekend, since it seemed to come alive on Friday and Saturday. If possible, stay longer to explore the smaller towns in between. We originally considered towns like Èze, Antibes, and Villefranche, to name a few, to see if they felt less touristy and more authentically French, but with such limited time it just wasn’t possible. 

Would you stay at your hotel/Airbnb again? 
Hotel Barrière Le Majestic in Cannes — I would absolutely stay there again. It was elegant and tasteful but understated. Definitely a chic crowd, but not in an over-the-top flashy way. The location was right on La Croisette, with all of the best shops, and the private beach was beautiful and right next to the Palais des Festivals, where the Cannes Film Festival is held each year. Le Méridien Nice — the location was great across from the water and a few blocks from Old Nice, so probably, but the pool left a lot to be desired, and at the end of the day it’s still a Marriott property full of tourists of all ages. Le Méridien Beach Plaza — I would probably not stay here again. The hotel is nice, as is the private beach, but I’d prefer to stay at a hotel a little closer to the shops, casino, port.

Travel Diaries is meant to reflect individual women's experiences and does not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behaviour.
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