Family of Four Taking Flight to Financial Independence

First Early Retirement Trip: Introducing La Herradura, Spain

After a short visit in Madrid (when we moved abroad), we’ve been in our (new!) hometown of Granada, Spain ever since (April 2021).  The week before last we set off on our first trip in ER (early retirement) to the beautiful beach town of La Herradura.  This trip included a lot of firsts for us ... from our first venture out of Granada, to using the ALSA bus system, to the kids swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, and to meeting some great new friends for the first time in person (and more!).

As we’ve mentioned previously, one reason we chose Granada was because of the close proximity to the mountains and the beach (within an hour of each).  (Yes, some people ski and hit up the beach all within the same day).  Why did we choose La Herradura for our first beach trip? Tara had a few expat friends there she wanted to meet, it was close by to Granada, and it looked beautiful.  So why not?

La Herradura, Spain

La Herradura, Spain

From Tara: I met our expat friends through one of the Facebook Groups for expats, and we went through the same Non-Lucrative Visa process.  She’s been so helpful throughout the entire process, and we were definitely looking forward to meeting her and her husband in person in Spain (They arrived about a month or so prior to us from the US).  Not only did we get to meet them, but they were incredible hosts in La Herradura.  They showed us great spots on the beach, joined us for lunch, drove us to an incredible white washed town nearby (Frigiliana, Spain), drove us to the beach for sunset, took us on a hike, and had us over for lunch and swimming for the kids.  We definitely look forward to seeing them in Granada and maybe meeting up elsewhere in Spain!

In this post, I’m going to go over how much the trip cost for 3 nights and 2 (full) days.  We arrived on a Sunday and left on a Wednesday.

Before setting off on this adventure, my favorite quote came from my son, “Daddy, we are taking a vacation from our vacation.”  I love the fact that the kids view our daily lives in Granada as a vacation.

Spending for the trip included booking our Airbnb for 3 nights, booking round trip ALSA bus tickets, taking a taxi to and from the bus station in Granada, and spending on some great food and drinks (and entertainment was free!).

Photo taken by our friends on our hike to a lookout point in La Herradura, Spain.

Our Airbnb in La Herradura, Spain

View from our large Airbnb balcony in La Herradura, Spain.

Our Airbnb was a great experience overall.  It was a 2 bedroom apartment (1 and 1/2 Bath) that was one block from the beach.  It had a large balcony that the kids loved, and it included of all the modern amenities of home (dishwasher, washing machine, AC, updated kitchen and bathroom, etc).  

One issue we had came at check in, and I am taking the blame for this one.  We are still new to the Airbnb world, and I totally forgot to check in with the host the day before arriving to get the low down on how to receive the keys.  This made the check in process slightly more complicated than it otherwise would have been.  (After trying to communicate with the Airbnb host in the pouring down rain (with a language barrier), we ended up having to ask for the keys from a lady down the street at a casual coffee shop / restaurant type place.  In retrospect it was a slightly humorous situation.).  But lesson learned for us (and maybe you can also take note), be sure to know the check in process prior.  Also have easy access for how to contact the host.  And finally, don’t assume you will have great Internet connection where ever you go.

Other than the check in process (which again was mostly my fault), the only other issue I had was that there were no Bathroom / Kitchen essentials such as TP, hand soap, dish soap, etc.  This is an issue that would cost the host literally €3.00 to fix for future guests, and that is a recommendation I will make when reviewing on Airbnb.  We learned two lessons with this issue.  1) Read reviews closely.  2) Do not travel or arrive at a new destination on a Sunday in Spain (or maybe other places in Europe?).  Almost everything except for restaurants are closed on Sundays.  Luckily we found a small mini market (our host pointed us in the right direction) to pick up a few items.  That said, the host was very quick and responsive to any and all inquiries we had during our stay, and the place was very clean when we arrived (well, as it should be).

From Tara: I didn’t do a great job of taking pics of all of the rooms (I need to get in the habit of doing that when we arrive), but their Airbnb listing photos were fairly accurate (with the exception of some of the bedding might have been different).  I did take some photos of the common spaces the morning before we left.  If you are interested in seeing more complete photos of this listing, be sure to check out their link.

Steps leading up to our Airbnb in La Herradura, Spain.

Our Airbnb in La Herradura, Spain.  I snapped a few photos before we left so you can see some of our items out as we are packing up.

Our Airbnb in La Herradura, Spain (Kitchen / Common Space).

Our Airbnb in La Herradura, Spain.

Our Airbnb in La Herradura, Spain.

Total Airbnb Cost: $240 (Arrived Sunday and left Wednesday AM).

The Bus: ALSA

Ride on the ALSA Bus from Granada to La Herradura, Spain.

We booked our tickets online, and the entire process at the bus station could not have been easier.  (Note, we initially booked online through Omio.  Something went wrong with our tickets which was probably user error so we ended up booking again through Busbud.  Busbud seemed to have higher service fees so we plan to use Omio in the future.).  

The Granada bus station (Estación De Autobuses) is at AVENIDA JUAN PABLO II, 33.  It looked like about a 30 min walk from us so we took a Taxi.  Plus when we left it was actually chilly and raining, and we were carrying bags.  See below more info on Taxis.  We arrived to the bus station 45 minutes early which in retrospect was completely unnecessary.  Our bus was clearly listed on the departures screen in the bus station and was right on time for our departure.

Our tickets were on our iPad, and we weren’t sure if the driver would need to scan them or look at our Passports to enter the bus.  It turned out he didn’t do either one.  Tara did show him the tickets, but he already had our names on a printed out list and seemed to know who we were right away (this process was just as easy on our return trip).  The bus was pretty empty for our trip to La Herradura (with two other beach town stops prior), and it was more packed when we returned to Granada (with two or three beach town stops prior).  We didn’t have an issue with getting seating on the second bus.

The bus rides from and back to Granada were both very comfortable and relaxing (they are like large charter busses).  They provided a great time to watch a movie, read a book, take a nap, or stare out the window as the beautiful landscape of southern Spain passed us by.

The bus station in La Herradura seemed to be just a bus stop, but this is a much smaller town.  And our Airbnb was only a few blocks away, so it was an easy walk.  The bus stop in La Herradura is listed as MARQUESINA - ROTONDA CASCO URBANO CARRETERA DE ALMERIA, s/n on our bus tickets, and I found the address to be Calle Casa Fuerte, 11, 18697, Almuñécar.

If you are new to the area or completely unfamiliar with the busses, I would definitely recommend looking up your exact stops prior.  I had the address ready beforehand, and I was tracking the bus on my phone via GPS so I knew which stop to get off at.  It is not clear at every stop where you are (maybe they say it in Spanish, and it is lost on us).

Overall we found traveling by bus to be safe and efficient, which is great because we plan to use the ALSA bus system for travel quite a bit (we just used it again this week for our trip to Málaga.  Stay tuned for that post!)

Total Cost for 4 Round Trip Bus Tickets: $115

Pide Táxi in Granada 

Plaza Nueva in Granada, Spain

One of the great things about living in Granada is that you can get pretty much anywhere on foot.  That said, the bus station would be about a 30 minute walk for us and while we often do walks much longer than that, sometimes it’s worth splurging on a taxi (and it was raining / chilly, and we were carrying bags).  Luckily, the taxis here are SUPER cheap, and we have easy access to them by walking less than 10 minutes to Plaza Nueva.  Note, we can always depend on taxis in Plaza Nueva since there is a taxi stand.  We also had quick and easy access to a taxi on our return trip as there was a line of them right outside the bus station.  

Note, we didn’t need to use a taxi in La Herradura.

Total Taxi Cost: $20

Food and Drinks

Since we arrived on a Sunday, we did bring a few food items to hold us over until we could get to a market.

We then bought some essentials from the local market which was a 5 minute walk away (such as potatoes, cereal, chips, TP, soap, shampoo, etc).  The rest of our food came from eating out.  

Pizzaria Venezia in La Herradura

Our first day there, we came upon a great little Italian restaurant (Pizzaria Venezia) and ordered a couple of pizzas and some garlic bread.  Needless to say, this place was a hit, and we went back for pizza for lunch and/or dinner two more times (the kids also tried the pizza at the restaurant next door, Pizzeria Realanjo).  The cost of a pizza was €5 - 6, and one was typically enough for two people.

Our friend took this photo of our daughter at Bambú.  She was being silly with her hair and towel (the Matador Travel Towels were perfect to travel with to the beach)..

Tara also had lunch at a great little place on the beach (Chiringuito El Bambú) with our expat friends.  Our friends recommended the burger (and some other dishes), and Tara went with the burger.  She said it was delicious!  While she had lunch (and after the kids finished their pizza), I took the kids for gelato.  I grabbed some lunch later at home since I prefer that / am vegan.

Sangria in Frigiliana, Spain.

Enjoying some drinks in Frigiliana, Spain.

That same evening our friends (they were so awesome to host us throughout our trip) drove us to a magical little town, Frigiliana (the Chrome web browser will often translate into English, if needed).  While exploring we stopped for some sangria, beer, and tea (the kids).

Back in La Herradura, we also got some tasty pastry treats for breakfast one morning from a bakery that was a couple of blocks away from our Airbnb (pastries were from El Rincón del Pan Gourmet).

Total for Food and Drinks: $120


Since our entertainment was the beach and exploring ...entertainment was free!  Our new expat friends definitely went above and beyond though making sure we had a wonderful experience in La Herradura so that was definitely an added huge bonus.

La Herradura, Spain

What was our entertainment?  The beach, more beach, and some more beach!  We also were able to see the magical white washed town with friends, Frigiliana.  We enjoyed the sunset guessed it, on the beach.  We went for a hike to several look out points.  We enjoyed lunch and pool time with friends.  Not too much description is needed.  I think Tara’s photos tell the story of our experiences!

Tara also recently wrote a post on how to fit Field Trips / adventures into your budget (FI With Kids: How Do You Afford Field Trips and Adventures?), and one of her tips was to incorporate exploring nature.  It is often (but not always) free or low cost.

La Herradura, Spain

Exploring Frigiliana, Spain.  Everywhere you turn in this town is perfect for a photo.

Frigiliana, Spain

Frigiliana, Spain

Colorful doors in Frigiliana, Spain.

Friligiana, Spain

Frigiliana, Spain

Frigiliana, Spain

Our friends also drove us to a great spot to check out the sunset in La Herradura, Spain.

Watching the sunset in La Herradura, Spain.

Skipping rocks in La Herradura, Spain.

Here are some more photos on our hike up to a few different look out points in La Herradura, Spain.

La Herradura, Spain

La Herradura, Spain

La Herradura, Spain

Beautiful little church we walked by on our hike up to the look out points in La Herradura, Spain.

More beach time in La Herradura, Spain.

La Herradura, Spain

Enjoying the pool with friends.

Photo taken by our friend.  We had lovely time at their pool (La Herradura, Spain).

Fun with new friends in La Herradura, Spain (photo taken by another friend).

Memories of the kids playing in the Mediterranean, meeting amazing new friends, and experiencing new places = priceless.

Total for Entertainment: $0

Total Cost For Our First Vacation In ER (Early Retirement):

Airbnb: $240

Roundtrip bus: $115

Taxis: $20

Food and drinks: $120

Total: $495

La Herradura, Spain

How are we working out our travel spending in our budget?  We are budgeting approximately $500 a month for travel.  Obviously some trips could be a lot more depending on the length of the trip and destination (going home to the US for the holidays), and some trips could be less (a day trip to the beach instead of several days).  And some months we may just stay in Granada.  This also can be evened out by our extra spending budget coming in lower some months.  We can also tap into our cash cushion if needed for bigger trips.  Yes, the cash cushion is there for emergencies (one of our safety margins), but we can also use it for other things like travel, if needed.

There you have it.  Our first trip outside of Granada, Spain.  What do you think?  How do you factor in your travel budget?  Any travel tips or travel hacking?  Comment below, or email us.

Check out Tara’s latest post here, FI With Kids: How Do You Afford Field Trips And Adventures?  Looking to also become FI (financially independent)?  Reach out to me here, and let’s see how I can help.


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