Affordable Mini-Vacations


 

Raise your hand if you like taking vacations. 

Raise your hand if taking vacations can get kind of expensive. 

Raise your hand if you would take more vacations if they were affordable.

Raise your hand if you like saving money. 

Raise your hand if you would go somewhere this weekend if it was a good price.

Do you fit any of the above categories? :) I hope you do, because if so, you're totally going to love what I'm about to share with you. 

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I know it seems like T and I travel a lot, and we do. Not gonna lie-- we are blessed. But, know that we teachers have not been going in debt up to our ears to afford such vacations. We work deals like nobody's business, and have had amazing cost-cutting experiences each time. I wanted to share with you some of our secrets, so that you can afford staycations and vacations and get out of your house this summer! (Even if it seems impossible). 

#1: Use Priceline.com to book an overnight stay this weekend at the last minute in your local major city. (In our case, Portland) using the "Name your own price" feature. We have shaved over $100 off of hotel room prices at deluxe, 4-star hotels in Portland using "Name your own price" the day before we decide to have a staycation. Here are some of the recent prices we've paid for hotels downtown:

  • $80 for a king corner room at The Benson
  • $90 for a King Pioneer Place view at The Nines
  • $85 for a King Deluxe at Hotel DeLuxe
  • $80 for a King room at The Governor Hotel (twice)
  • $90 on New Year's Eve for a King corner room at Hotel Monaco
...and these are just the downtown Portland rooms. We've stayed in a 4-star Marriott in San Diego for $85, 3-star hotels in Coeur d'Alene, Denver and Utah for $50, and 3-stars in Bend for $65. For Portland, $85 is usually our price point and we have never, ever been disappointed. We have probably used "Name your own price" over 10 times overall and had great rooms/hotels each time. 
The caveat to "Name your own price" is that you do not get to choose the hotel, only the minimum star requirement. (i.e., if you choose $80 for a 4-star hotel in Portland, you don't know which 4-star you will end up with, but it absolutely will not be anything beneath a 4-star. Sometimes they actually give you 5-stars! 

"Name your own price" is also much better if you are booking the week of. I wouldn't necessarily say it's risky to wait so long, but they usually are looking to get rid of open rooms during the week-of, and are much more willing to negotiate on cheaper prices than say if you tried booking a month out. 

"Name your own price" also works on flights, but we haven't tried that before. (We've heard good things about it though from people who have.) You tell them where you're traveling to, what date you want to leave and what price you want to pay, and in exchange you get a flight with 1 layover or less on an airline you don't get a choice of. We had friends who flew to Hawaii for $150 each with only one layover in Los Angeles. Not bad!

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Another affordable option we've used is Costco.com. We booked our cruise through Costco and were upgraded to a balcony room and received $50 each in onboard ship credit. Plus, we paid only $650 per person for the entire week-long spring break cruise! Costco typically has better savings and more perks if you book through them-- especially for their rental cars. Costco is also a great option for all-inclusive resorts, as they will typically upgrade your room or give you spending credit if you book through them. Can't hurt to save a few dollars that way!


My advice: Look for deals everywhere, but don't compromise. Hotel staff members are almost always willing to upgrade your room if you ask (nicely), and you can typically even get a better seat on the airplane if you simply ask. Don't pay more for things when you don't need to, and don't pay less for something that you'll regret in the end (paying for a 2-star hotel when you can Priceline a 4-star for the same price). 


What money-saving travel tips do you have for me? What kinds of stories do you have to share on great deals you've scored traveling?

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