Wander or Bust is an Elite Daily travel series that follows young women all over the globe to record their journeys as they experience the thrill of the far-flung and unknown.
They'll track their budgets, where they stay, where they eat and drink, and where they took that amazing Instagram that got them ~maximum exposure.~ The internet is full of travel advice, but none from women just like you. Read on for the tips no one else gives you, and when in doubt, get on the plane.
Here's Mackenzie Newcomb's Wander Or Bust guide to Miami.
My Name: Mackenzie Newcomb
What I Do: Influencer Relations and Strategic Partnerships, Petrossian Caviar
Where I Live: Astoria, New York
Where I Went: Miami, Florida
How Long I Stayed: 5 days, 4 nights
My Spending Style: Occasionally indulgent. I don't throw money around, but I will definitely splurge on more than a few expensive things on a vacation.
Where I Got My Recommendations:
For all my vacations I use Skyscanner, baby. It’s the best way to find flights.
Preferred Payment Method:
When traveling, I always use my credit card! I always offer to throw down my card and have people Venmo me. You get points from your credit card company, and bonus points from the server who doesn’t have to split your bill a million ways. Don’t forget to call your bank ahead of time, otherwise you’ll get your card declined (which is always awk!).
Phone Bill: Same
Mode of Transport: Airplane
Extra Costs: It was $14 from my apartment to the airport and $60 to our AirBnB from Ft. Lauderdale. (Not cheap!)
Transport Total: $304
I’m usually a hotel girl, but Airbnb is perfect when you need to work with everyone’s budget. Plus, we purposely booked an Airbnb that had an air mattress option incase someone got FOMO and wanted to join, which they did!
Location: Right in South Beach. The closest beach was attached to several fancy hotels. Dream location.
Price: $280/night, but split between a big group
Extra Costs: Airbnb usually has extra costs for cleaning and service.
Would I Recommend It To Someone Else:
I would highly recommend this location to someone else. There were two bathrooms, which were much needed. It was also clean and centrally located. I don’t think I’d suggest it for a huge group, but for five girls, it was perfect.
Accommodation Total: $1,120 — but because it was split between five of us, I only spent $224.
Breakfast-Lunch Cost: $35/day
Dinner Cost: $60/night — with drinks!
Average Total Cost: $95/day
Tip Situation: Like anywhere in America, it's customary to tip around 20 percent (unless your service was atrocious, but even then, leave a tip).
The South may have the reputation of being much less expensive than NYC, but Miami is far from cheap.
Favorite Restaurant: Lola Grill
This was an Argentinian restaurant that was absolutely amazing. The seafood pasta was a hit, the ceviche was top notch, the wine was excellent and fairly priced, and the amazing service took it over the top. It’s fine dining, but not stuffy and very affordable. I went with a group of seven girls, and everyone left very happy.
Location: Oceanside Plaza Condo, 5555 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140
Local House was flawlessly decorated, the food was delicious, and although it was expensive, it was totally worth it. The cocktails alone were soo delicious!
I love juices and smoothies, since I don’t drink coffee, so I made sure to find a cute place to do that. My favorite place was Juice & Java — so Instagrammable!
Mandolin Aegean Bistro is a little pricey as well as difficult to get a reservation for (do it in advance!), but the entire restaurant is outdoors, so don’t skip it — you’ll feel like you’re in Santorini.
Food Total: $380
Anyone that’s been to Miami knows that it’s all about “da club.” That said, at 25, my crew can only handle about one club night. If you’re a lady, there’s a strong chance you won’t have to pay admission and will drink for free at any club. It’s a lot like Las Vegas, and though it’s a bothersome for my ultra-feminist self, I don’t mind saving $20 on a vodka soda!
What People Wear Out:
Because of the weather, you can get away with being a little casual with your footwear. Platform sandals are totally fine. That said, you won’t be in jean shorts. I wore a two-piece gingham set from Sabo Skirt, and it was perfect. If you have a hot outfit you want to take out on the town, you won’t look out of place in Miami.
Average Cost Of A Pint: $10 (steep)
Extra Cost To Know About:
Drinks are not cheap, and admission is not cheap. Even though promoters may be a little annoying and kind of sketch, I’d recommend finding a cool one and at least entering the building with them. Either ask a friend or be receptive to some of the promoters that will approach you at the beach. It’ll save you upwards of $100 a night in drinks and you’ll probably drink from a bottle service table. Even if you don’t want to hang out with a promoter and his friends all night (fair), you’ll get a few free drinks and then hit the dance floor without them!
Last Call: 4 a.m.
Average Total Cost Of A Night Out: $40
If you play the game right, it doesn’t need to be an expensive night out in Miami! That said, if I were a guy, I would probably have spent more money. (Sorry guys, but you make 30 percent more than us, so I’ll take the free drinks!)
Cheapest Bar I'd Actually Go Back To: Bodega
Bodega is a super popular taco spot in South Beach that has a HUGE speakeasy bar attached. Pretty much everyone recommended it. That said, it doesn’t get poppin’ until midnight, so maybe save the tacos for a late-night snack?
Going Out Total: $150 — we only went out three nights, and $10 was spent on a bottle of water at the club.
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Worth It:
Something we all agreed to splurge on was salsa dancing classes at Mango’s! They were $50 a person, which wasn’t super expensive, but it was worth every penny. I would have paid twice. It was a two-hour class, and we all agreed it was the highlight of our trip.
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Not Worth It:
The SLS hotel pool party. It came highly recommended by several people, but it was awful. The SLS is a luxury hotel, so we were hoping for a crowd that would reflect that, but yikes — we were wrong. In its defense, we did go the first week of spring break. They charged $12 for a can of Corona extra and $25 for a Red Bull vodka. Overall, it was expensive and slightly traumatizing.
What I Spent Little Or No Money On That Was Awesome:
We visited the Wynwood art district. We went an hour before sunset (bless the weather app) and had amazing lighting, so we still had a full beach day. If you’re extra-extra, like I am, look at photos of the walls ahead of time to come up with your outfit.
Favorite Thing I Did, Regardless Of Cost:
Honestly, spending entire days at the beach. There was nothing I would rather have done. One of the best parts of traveling to a place like Miami is you don’t need to spend a fortune on excursions. All I needed was a beach towel, a water bottle, and a book.
Hidden Gem I Found:
Ritz Carlton beach area! We were lucky enough to stay on the section of the beach that was attached to the Ritz Carlton and The Loews hotel. Both areas of the beach were very well maintained, and they were also super cute.
The Photo I Took That Got The Most Attention:
Excursions/Extras Total: $50
General Shopping: $0
Because so much of my trip was spent on the sand, I didn't do any shopping at all.
Souvenirs/Shopping Total: $0
Best Miami Hack:
If a restaurant has someone outside trying to wave you in with drink deals, they probably have disgusting food. Don’t just walk in somewhere, because you only have so many vacation dinners.
Additionally, if you’re invited to a club, check the location on Instagram ahead of time! This allows you to view the stories that are being tagged from that location. You’ll be able to see if the club you’re on your way to is empty or poppin’.
Advice For Anyone Traveling Alone:
Stay in a hostel or bring books to keep you company! There is a hostel called Freehand in Miami that is super cute and has a great cocktail bar.
Total Trip Cost: $1,108
Worth It? Every penny.