Photo by MamaOfTwins777
Looking for a great-value summer vacation? Want to get away to a beautiful destination and still enjoy the conveniences of home.
Today we're talking to Christine Karpinski, author and vacation rental expert, about how to save money on your family vacation by renting a vacation home instead of a hotel room.
So Christine, what do vacation rentals have that hotel rooms don't and how can that save money on a family summer vacation?
Vacation rentals offer much more value than a single hotel room.
The kitchen seems to be one of the biggest values. When you don’t have to eat out every meal, it can be a huge money saver as well as time saver. In popular destinations, you can wait an hour or more for a table at a restaurant. That’s no fun for the kids who are already tired from sightseeing or frolicking in the water all day. And for parents of small children, dining in is far less stressful than choking down meals while praying that the next table doesn't have to endure a toddler tantrum!
Vacation rentals also have a living room for gathering, watching TV or DVDs, playing games, etc. Some have private swimming pools, hot tubs, game rooms, beach access, etc. This means built-in entertainment in many cases, which will save you money and the stress of constant outings.
The children can have their own bedrooms so they can keep closer to their normal sleep schedules. For the little ones, they can go off to bed early and parents can have some down time. For the teenagers who stay up until 2am texting or playing computer games, they can stay up without disturbing the rest of the family. Oh, and when they want to sleep until noon, they can do that too. Let’s face it—kids of all ages out of their “normal routine” tend to be cranky.
And let's not forget about the washer and dryer factor—also great for parents with small children. Plus, being able to bring fewer clothes is not only a sanity saver during packing, it's a space saver for those long car rides.
What are some other ways that families can save on their summer vacation?
Travel closer to home. Stay within a six-hour drive. That’s a big savings on airfare.
Plan your daily activities around free or low-priced local attractions:
- Many museums have a free day (often Mondays but can vary)
- Many towns offer free concerts in the park and festivals
- Hiking and biking are a free and fun things for families to do
- Look for activities at local community centers
I've found that people who stay in private homes don't feel so compelled to wear themselves out cramming in every touristy activity in town. They don't mind just hanging out in the living room and relaxing more, which after all, is what a vacation is supposed to be!
What can a family of four expect to pay for a week in a vacation rental?
This depends, of course, on the location. The average two-bedroom, two-bath vacation rental costs around $200-$250/night. But there are vacation rentals in all price ranges—from $100/night all the way up to $2,500/night. Consider sharing with another family or two to save even more.
And remember, with the money you save on eating out and paying for entertainment and with the sleep you'll get when all the kids' sleep schedules stay on track, you can have an easier, more relaxing vacation in an all-inclusive vacation rental.
How do you find a good, clean, and affordable vacation rental?
There are two websites where you can go: HomeAway.com and VRBO.com. VRBO.com alone has vacation rentals in over 15,000 locations. That means you can likely find a place within a couple of hours of where you live.
About Christine Karpinski:
Christine Karpinski is the author of How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner and Profit from Your Vacation Home Dream, and she loves telling families about the cost-effective benefits of vacation rentals. Her books, combined with her seminars, media appearances, and website help thousands of people purchase and manage their vacation homes. Today she serves as director of Owner Community for HomeAway, Inc.