Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MYTH: I'm too broke to go on vacation!

My husband and I both love to travel, and who doesn't love to go on vacation? When I have time to search for deals and use sites like http://www.vrbo.com/ and http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/ I can score quite a deal! But this is a rough economy, and what do you do if it's just not in the budget?

Been there. During my husband's layoff we were obviously stressed out in financial ways we had never been before, but we finally had the time to take a trip together--my husband hadn't taken any vacation time at his previous job. How do you go on vacation without any money at all??? My husband thought I was crazy, he thought it would never happen--but where there's a will, there's a way! I hopped on vrbo.com and emailed a bunch of house owners explaining our situation and asking if we could trade a week at their house/condo for something in return. That summer not only did we get to go to the beach, we spent THREE WEEKS at the beach! We painted the interior of one condo in exchange for staying there, we painted the deck and outside stairs as well as did a little landscaping for a house on Harbor Island in exchange for staying there (the owner liked it so much she asked us to come back and do more work sometime!) and my personal favorite-we traded a guided turkey hunt with my husband for a week long stay at the owner's condo, also on Harbor Island. This last family was very excited to do something like this that was new to them, my husband got to go hunting for three days and we got a free week vacation-how is that for win-win-win?? All of the rentals had full kitchens so we were able to shop ahead (with coupons of course) and cook for ourselves. Since there is so much do at the beach, we didn't spend any money and we still had some great memories and got some great pictures. They all had internet access as well, so he was able to apply for jobs and continue the search remotely.

Then there is the time we wanted to do a women's retreat at church. I emailed some houses on Fraser Island (super nice but very expensive) and just explained who we were and what we were looking to do and asked what their rates were. Most people gave us the standard rate or a small discount, but one very generous couple offered us their gorgeous 5 bedroom house that rents for $5,000/week for free as long as we paid the island fee that's required (it was extremely small, I can't remember how much). Then the sweet owners sent us flowers while we were there, and this year invited us back again for free!

As many of you know, my husband and I just went to the Dominican Republic to celebrate our 5th anniversary. We've been planning on going on this trip since I found I was pregnant with our first child four years ago, and so we started saving our sky miles, which we used to get the flights. We bought a pop-up camper last spring in the hopes of taking camping trips with the kids but they just didn't sleep well in it. Since we got such a great deal on it, we were able to resell it for $900 more than we paid! We used that to pay for our hotel which was all-inclusive. Then we used our birthday money (both of our birthdays were the week before our trip) to pay for our activities while we were there. And just like that...not a "free" trip, but also not effecting our budget at all!

Now we want to take the kids to the beach next spring, but I will admit I'm a total snob when it comes to beach trips. I will pay more to not have to deal with Myrtle Beach or Florida. The crowds, noise, dirtiness, craziness, it's just not for me. But our favorite beach (Harbor Island) is still quite expensive, so what did I do? I emailed the owners of course! This time I asked if we could get a lower rate if we book an entire month and share the three other weeks with other families. Of course some people still had rates of $3,000/week, I just ignored those. But, I did get several decent offers and the one we decided to go with is just the sweetest family in GA that is letting us rent a 3 bedroom house for only $700/week! That's less than the 1 bedroom condos rent for! (By the way, let me know if you're interested the weeks are first come first served)

It can be done, I encourage you to be creative and see what you can do! I've had several owners tell me that they'd never had anyone make an offer like that before, they thought it was so unique! Maybe you can trade houses with another family or rent out one of your cars for a few weeks to pay for it, you'll think of something if you really want a vacation!

Don't forget to share your creative ideas with me, I could always use some more...

No comments:

Post a Comment