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Save Money on Vacation Accommodation!

Aug 04, 2012 12:00 am

Looking to take a vacation that doesn't break the budget? You can save money by getting a hotel room with a kitchen, or using one of the increasingly popular home rental websites. It's even possible to do a home exchange; I have all the info here!


Extended Stay Hotels: As Bitsy mentioned in her quick tip this week, booking a hotel room with a kitchen is a great way to save while on vacation. The Modus Hotel Collection has boutique hotels in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago. All locations feature suites with kitchens, and there are washers and dryers on every floor. My husband and I, along with our then 15 month old son, took a weekend trip to Philadelphia about a year ago, and stayed at their hotel called The Windsor Suites. Situated in the Museum district, it was convenient to walk to many popular tourist destinations. Our suite seemed huge, especially when compared to our tiny New York apartment! (You can see the floor plan pictured above.) With our son Gus going to bed at 7:30pm, we weren't exactly hitting the town at night, so it was nice to have a separate bedroom to put him to bed in, while my husband and I relaxed in the living  room. There was a Trader Joe's and a Whole Foods within walking distance, and we saved a bundle on food by cooking and eating in. The staff were friendly, and they were able to provide a crib at not extra charge. Apart from Modus Hotels, another resource is Extended Stay Hotels, which has listings nation-wide.


Vacation Rentals: An increasingly popular way to find a place to stay is book via a home rental website, such as airbnb or vrbo, where owners list their home, or a room in their home, for short stay vacation rentals. As long as you take necessary safety precautions, such as emailing and speaking with the owner before sending payment, doing a google search on the address and owner's name, and using a credit card to pay, you can pretty well safeguard yourself against any unpleasant experiences.  And if you have family or friends in the area, ask whether they can drop by to check out the property before making a booking. We did this once, and the owners of two different properties were very happy to let us come by. Both sites seem pretty similar in what they offer. After a widely reported incident in 2011 of a host returning to find her apartment trashed, airbnb has instituted what they call their Host Guarantee, to the tune of up to $1 000 000 reimbursement for property damage.  They also put a 24/7 customer service hotline in place. It's possible to  search by neighborhood or zip code on airbnb, which is very useful if you are trying to find accommodation near family or friends. I wasn't able to do that on vrbo, which seemed strange. For example, I could only search for Brooklyn, NY, not any particular area in Brooklyn.



Home Exchange: Did you ever see that movie The Holiday, where Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslett, playing two women crossed in love, swap homes for a vacation?  Well, this is like that, but hopefully without the romantic angst. Intervac has been around since the 1950's, and was started by a group of teachers in Europe who were looking for an economic way to travel internationally. It currently has 30,000 members in over 140 countries, and a number of ways to do a home exchange. The two most common types of exchange are home exchange and hospitality exchange. A home exchange, as you would expect, is when you exchange homes with another person or family. A hospitality exchange is when you host each other in your home. This has more of a social aspect, you get to show off your city, and you have a built in tour guide for your own vacation! They also offer house sitting, bed and breakfast, long term exchanges, usually between retirees, or university staff, and youth exchanges. You can try a free trial membership for 14 days, or an annual membership is $99.99, which comes to $8.33 a month. You aren't able to contact members with the trial membership, it's more to get a taste of the website and how it works. I would love to try this one day, but I doubt anyone would want to swap with our one bedroom apartment overrun with toys!

What are your favorite ways to save on vacation accommodation? Have a story to tell? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!

vacation, accommodation, Modus hotels, Windsor Suites, airbnb, vrbo, home exchange, holiday, hotels, hotel with kitchen

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