Q: With the economy in such a rotten state, do you have any tips for traveling on a budget?
A: The worldwide economy is a mess right now and thank heavens we have the media around to remind us every 3.2 seconds. In real life, the vast majority of Americans are still gainfully employed. If you're in that group of job-holders, there are a myriad of opportunities to take a fabulous trip for half the price. I could write volumes on the general state of the travel industry - it is my wheelhouse, as my boy Randy Jackson would say - but for now I'll just offer up a tried and true tip for traveling afar on a budget.
One of my favorite ways to save money is to stay in a vacation rental instead of a hotel. VRBO.com is a great place to start and I've used the site several times to find lodging in the Poconos, St. Thomas and even Hawaii. Renting a vacation home is mostly for a do-it-yourself type traveler - someone self-sufficient and capable of figuring things out without a concierge or front desk to pepper with questions. Vacation rentals are especially useful if you're planning to stay in one place for a week or more. then it feels like you have a "home" base.
You might remember Hodgie and I used VRBO.com to rent a condo in Kauai last year. Every hotel we checked into was crazy expensive plus there are very limited hotel options on the North Shore where we wanted to stay. Then we came across this gem nestled just a short walk from the Princeville Hotel. It was absolutely perfect! The owner, Kathy, worked with us and we set up an 8-night stay. We had beautiful mountain and ocean views, a balcony, our own kitchen, a washer/dryer - far more amenities than I have in my own schlubby apartment.
Vacation Rental Pros
You'll have the place to yourself.
You'll have more space and often multiple bedrooms and baths, perfect for bigger groups and family travel.
It feels much homier than a hotel room.
You may have access to laundry within the home.
There's nothing better than taking home a suitcase of clean clothes.
Some vacay rentals have their own Jacuzzis - In the Poconos, this was a clutch feature.
You can save extra cash by cooking some meals in the fully equipped kitchen. Alex and I did this in Hawaii and saved a bundle.
Vacation Rental Cons
No consistency from rental to rental. If you're used to the Westin's Heavenly Bed, you better stick with the Westin.
There are no concierges to book excursions or recommend dinner spots, so you must rely on guidebooks and friendly locals.
If you need daily maid service, a waterslide or full amenities, go to a hotel.
Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of VRBO.com and vacation rentals. If you'd like to visit Kauai in the future (and you should because flights and accommodations have never been cheaper!), let me know and I'll set you up with Kathy.
How about the gorgeous view from our balcony?