A Couple's $1,000 Weekend In A Santa Barbara Airstream

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Welcome to Away Game, a Refinery29 series where we tag along as real millennial 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 30-year-old email marketing associate stays in an Airstream with her boyfriend and her dog.
Open to tracking your travel expenses during an upcoming trip? Fill out the template, here. For questions or feedback, email us at traveldiary@refinery29.com.
Age: 30
Occupation: Email Marketing Associate
Salary: $65,000
My Boyfriend's Salary: $35,000 (excluding tips)
Hometown: Los Angeles
Trip Location: Santa Barbara
Annual # Of Vacation Days: 6 weeks
My Boyfriend's Annual # Of Vacation Days: No set number
Trip Length: 3 days
Travel Companions: Boyfriend, dog
Transportation Type: Car
Transportation Costs: $0
(We didn't end up needing to stop for gas.)
Airbnb: 2 nights in Carpinteria, CA Airstream = $290 + $50 cash for pet deposit.
Total: $340

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and decide it’s too early to be awake on a day that I don’t have to work, so I stay in bed for another hour before getting up and doing my morning routine. I like to start the day with a gratitude journal entry to remind myself of the many amazing things I have to be grateful for. Next up, I take my meds and vitamins: Wellbutrin (thank the deities for antidepressants!), a probiotic, a women’s multivitamin, and two vitamin C capsules, along with a cup of jasmine green tea. I pack a few pieces of clothing for the trip and take a soothing hot shower before struggling with my super thick, curly hair. It looks good today!
11:30 a.m. — My boyfriend and I plan to leave the house around 10:30, but he runs into some...bathroom issues. So I hang out in the living room with the dog and apply for an internship I’ve been eyeing. We stop off at Target to pick up a few things: flip flops, NYX eyeliner, Olly sleep supplements, and ibuprofen. After a brief skirmish in the parking lot and subsequent road rage on my boyfriend’s part (welcome to California), we’re off! $31.81
1:30 p.m. — Somehow, Santa Barbara is far closer than I imagined and we get into town after a few podcast episodes of Ear Hustle and Bodega Boys. We’re both super hungry, so we stop at a busy Mexican spot and get two asada tacos, a plate of rajas con queso, and an agua fresca de sandia. It’s sublime. After stuffing our faces, we head toward the AirBnB in Carpinteria. True story: One of my favorite novels had a character who lived in Carpinteria, so that factored heavily into the decision to stay there. That and the fact that it’s an airstream with a hot tub and outdoor shower, and me and my boo geek out over all of those things. $24.99
2:30 p.m. — We settle into the airstream and let the pup sniff it out. He seems pleased. Afterward, we look up dog-friendly beaches and find a spot nearby that looks fun. My dog, Charlie, is a bit anxious and I try to find opportunities to socialize him with other buddies, and this place does not disappoint. There’s a path overlooking the ocean with lots of dogs that come up and say hi, and Charlie is digging the attention and does super well. We bask in the sun and ocean sounds for a while before heading out.
4:30 p.m. — My boyfriend suggests that we veg out tonight and enjoy the hot tub. Yes, please! We stop by a local pizzeria and grab a large pie with sausage and meatballs, and a caesar salad to share. We jump across the street to pick up a bottle of wine, canned dog food (pet owner fail leaving Charlie’s food on the counter at home), water bottles, potato chips and knock-off Hostess CupCakes. I throw in a thing of hand soap because I noticed there wasn’t any at the airstream, and hand washing is everything. $66.94
6 p.m. — We head back to the spot to fire up the hot tub and open the wine. My dog happily eats up his food while we tear into pizza and discover that there’s a fire pit. Luckily, my boyfriend grew up in suburbia and knows how to safely build a fire. We watch the flames grow for a while and sip on wine, enjoying the autumn weather vibes.
8:30 p.m. — The hot tub is laughably hot, which works for me but is a comedic struggle for my boyfriend. He adjusts the temperature and we languish and philosophize about life before knocking out for the night.
Daily Total: $123.74

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I wake up and lounge with my boyfriend and dog for a bit before getting out of bed and taking Charlie for a walk. We get back to my boyfriend making coffee and I treat myself to a glorious outdoor shower before putting on some makeup and doing my morning gratitude entry and meds routine. We try to make it to breakfast, but leftover pizza is calling us so we hang out and grub before starting our day.
11 a.m. — We’re driving into town, listening to Bob Marley with the pup in tow. My boyfriend points out a high-pitch squeaking noise that tells us that the car needs new brakes. Surprise! I’m momentarily bummed out thinking about the unexpected cost, especially since we recently got back from a two-week trip to Asia and have been hustling to save money again. But, I’m trying to stay present and grateful because I know that it could be way worse and I’m fortunate to be in a place financially where I can afford to take awesome trips and still pay for the repair. Mr. Marley knows what’s up, every little thing gonna be alright.
12 p.m. — We walk around The Funk Zone and check out art and some shops with clothes and home goods. I find a few greeting cards for friends and family I’ve been meaning to write to, a pair of sunglasses made locally for my babe (as his just broke while walking), and a pretty-smelling room spray. We like to get a little something unique for our home whenever we visit some place new, even a few matchbooks. I love looking around the apartment and seeing memories. $46.66
1 p.m. — There are a ton of wineries, so we don’t know where to start. We’re walking and hear reggae coming from one of the places and take it as a sign to head in. Oreana is awesome! The aesthetic is rustic and industrial just how I like it, and the tasting is laid back and fun. We chat with the bartender and learn that the winery’s name comes from the Spanish concept of an unexpected blessing, which makes the experience that much more dope. I’m so glad we stopped by. We buy two bottles of wine to cover the price of one tasting and skip out feeling tipsy and full of life. $66.51
2:30 p.m. — We’re pretty hungry after the wine, so we stumble across the way to a bustling spot and grab a small pizza with potatoes and chorizo, a Caprese salad, and two frozen slushy cocktails. Normally, I’m not a huge pizza person, but this trip may be converting me! My boyfriend and I share the plates and give a few scraps of crust to the pup. $54.10
3:30 p.m. — We walk off the pizza and Burrata and come across really cool street art and a surf shop before heading back to the Airstream for some chill time. It’s warm enough to lay out in my swimsuit, so I park it and read Tiffany Haddish’s book while my dog and boyfriend take a nap.
6 p.m. — We head back into town sans pup as he’s older and made it clear that he needed a nap. Boyfriend and I choose a somewhat fancy spot for a shared dinner of oysters, saffron scallops, and steak with shishito peppers. Even though it’s on the pricier side, we fully commit because we’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while and want to have one fancy and fabulous meal. My boyfriend is a musician and does freelance and hospitality work while I work regular business hours, so our opposite schedules mean that we rarely have full weekends together. Whenever we do, we try to take advantage and spend time with each other and Charlie. We really love our little family, it’s mushy and gross and totally amazing. $187.09
8 p.m. — We finish dinner and find an extraterrestrial-themed bar next door and decide to pop in for a drink. We get a glass of red wine each before they kick us out after 20 minutes for closing. Oops! $22
8:30 p.m. — We amble over to another tiki-themed bar that was recommended to us and discover they have good and strong cocktails. Boyfriend and I get pleasantly intoxicated, and start talking about our future plans to get married and have a baby or two. We’ve been together going on three years now and looking forward to all the next steps that life holds for us. Not exactly right now, but in a few years. $24
9:30 p.m. — I feel very sozzled and ready to go back home and enjoy some more hot tub action. We jump into a Lyft with a really funny driver, and we drunk-chat him up all the way back. $13.91
10 p.m. — After walking the dog, the hot tub feels like a warm hug for my whole body. We listen to Young Bull and polish off the bottle of wine we bought yesterday because we want to keep the party going before joyfully collapsing into bed.
Daily Total: $414.27

Day Three

9 a.m. — My boyfriend and I are predictably hungover, but not as bad as we thought we would be. We lay in bed for a good long while as Charlie stares as us with an amused expression on his face. Then it’s ibuprofen and a glug of water before a walk and the last outdoor shower of the trip. We straighten up and take out the garbage before loading up the car and heading out. Goodbye, lovely Airstream!
12 p.m. — We tour a few State street shops before deciding on a seafood spot on Stearns Wharf for lunch. On the way, my boyfriend smokes a cigarette and we get approached by a man who brusquely informs us that he’ll need to put it out as Santa Barbara is a smoke-free city. My boyfriend complies and graciously says thank you, even though the guy had major ‘tude. As a non-smoker and someone who used to work in public health, I think it’s great that cities are going smoke-free. But I can’t help but think about the stigma against smokers and the clear lack of compassion a lot of folks have toward smokers as people struggling with addiction. I really hope that we can all make the shift from judgment to focus on prevention and cessation programs that address the issue holistically, and with more affordable resources.
1:30 p.m. — We walk the pier and eat at a table outside, where Charlie can happily stare at the pigeons that are flying around. I order a platter of fried scallops, calamari, oysters, and shrimp with onion rings and my boyfriend opts for the lobster roll with fries, and a cup of clam chowder that I share with him. He adds on a bloody mary, so I join him and get a beer. Hair of the dog and fried food are just made for hangovers, I tell ya. $66.56
3 p.m. — We watch the waves crash before heading back to the car and making a stop at the Old Mission to see the gorgeous architecture and garden, and then an impromptu driving tour of the Presidio neighborhood. We meander for a bit in the car and drive past a white slipcover sofa with a sign on it that says it’s free for the taking. It still breaks my heart that we can’t fit it into my mid-size car, but my boyfriend tries to console me by saying that it might have bed bugs or other unseen critters living in it. After having bed bugs while living in three different countries, that does the trick for me. We turn on some tunes and make our way back home. It’s been real, Santa Barbara!
Daily Total: $66.56
How did you prepare for this trip?
Scouring homeshare sites (AirBnB, Innclusive, HomeStay), googling dog-friendly wineries, TripAdvisor, and suggestions from friends.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
The Funk Zone! Great wineries and shops with local good and art, and the restaurants were tasty.
What was the best meal or food you ate while you were there?
Each restaurant was great, but I’m partial to the made-to-order food and chill vibes at La Super-Rica Taqueria.
Is there a tourist trap you wish you had avoided?
Everything I read said to avoid Stearns Wharf later in the afternoon because it gets super packed. But hitting it up earlier in the morning should be good to avoid the rush.
What advice would you give someone who is traveling to the same location?
Be prepared to spend money as things are pricey, but you can also do it on a more shoestring budget if you choose. It’s also predominantly white and Latinx, so that can be noticeable for Black people like me.
Is there anything about your trip you would do differently in retrospect?
I enjoyed everything we did and where we stayed.
Where were you located, specifically, and would you recommend staying in that part of town?
We were in Carpinteria which is an adjacent city. It worked for us since we were driving most of the time, but it would be tricky for someone who didn’t have a car or who wanted to be in Santa Barbara proper.
Is there anything you wished you had time to do, but didn’t?
If we had more time and weren’t as hungover, I would have liked to visit the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.
Do you feel like you were there for the right length of time? Would you have come home sooner or stayed longer given the chance?
For us, the trip was just right. It’s also comforting to think that we can always go back and explore more since we live nearby. I think 2-3 days is a good amount of time for someone wanting to have a nice getaway and enjoy what S.B. has to offer.
Away Game 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 behavior.

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