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your summer planning guide
week two: lodging options

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welcome back to the second week of the summer travel blogging series with cailin over at a white picket fence & myself! :)

last week we talked about planning your trips and traveling on a budget and how to have a successful + relaxing staycation. we have more goodies in store for you this week and over the next month (including a $50 visa gift card giveaway at the end of the month!) so keep checking back for lots of info on planning a great summer trip!!

this week we are going to hash out some options for lodging other than a hotel. don't get me wrong - hotels are great! i love that i don't have to make the bed or clean the bathroom (what can i say - vacations make me laaaazy) but sometimes to get the best out of a travel destination you need to fully immerse yourself in the locale and staying at the howard johnson by the airport really isn't going to cut it.

one option is to rent a house. using a vacation rental is especially handy when you will be staying somewhere an extended period of time or when you really need a home to be at. if you are touring a city and really just need a place to crash at night a hotel will certainly do. but if you really need access to laundry appliances, a place to prepare your own meals, and a place for family to gather and hang out a vacation rental is really the way to go. think about what your vacation goals are and cater your lodging to those needs.

there are two really great resources for vacation rental homes: homeaway and vrbo. they are both very similar in operation and features. some homes even seem to be listed on both sites. you can use either of these sites, or both, to search for homes to rent based on price range, capacity, proximity to a landmark, or availability.

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to get the most out of these websites, i would recommend creating an account. you can "favorite" homes to go back to and compare later. having an account also allows you to contact the owners of the homes directly if you have any specific questions.

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we were planning a reunion in galveston earlier this year so both of these homes are in galveston. but you can see that you can click links at the top of the page and see features, rate details, maps of where the home is located, photos of the homes and traveler reviews. i highly recommend reading the reviews. most of them were positive but look for a negative review and make sure the homeowner responded to it saying whatever problem had been corrected. you want to rent a home from an owner who is actively involved and concerned with their renters' happiness.

another bonus to having a rental home is they often end up much cheaper than a hotel, especially if you are planning a vacation with another group of people or some family. splitting the cost of the rental home is usually much more cost effective than paying a per/night rate at a hotel! plus you can save some dough by preparing simple breakfasts and lunches to feed everyone instead of dropping the dough at a local restaurant. :)

edit to add: my friend kasey at buttonwood cottage suggested this really great website ((airbnb.com)) where you can rent a room in a home! fantastic!!

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another option to explore is renting an RV. this clearly won't do if you are vacationing in new york city but if the mountains are where you are headed, an RV is a fun way to explore the wooded areas! plus, when you get ready to try another spot, you just pick everything up and move your lodging to the next location!

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granted - this one isn't that easy - there are local guidelines to be followed and it takes a little extra skill to maneuver one of those behemoth rv buses but if you are up for the challenge it makes for great lodging in the right places!

cruise america is a great place to start if you are interested in renting an rv. they rent out everything from compact (similar to the size of driving a large truck) all the way to a full size motorbus (if you are looking for a big challenge). they rent rvs in many states and are priced according to the estimated mileage you think you will put on them while they are gone. so in this instance, planning your vacation will be essential so that you can accurately estimate the mileage for your rental.

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cabins + cottages are another great place to stay! they have come quite a long way from the wobbly, sparsely furnished, lakeside log cabins of yore. now days cabins cater to families who need a little bit of space, a place to cook, and a comfy place to sleep at night. when you get ready to book your lodging, google around for "cabins in {insert your city name here}" and see what pops up.

for our family reunion this year, we are staying in a sweet cabin on lake travis in austin, texas that is part of the la hacienda community.

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our cottage, the frio, is a two bedroom + 1 bathroom cabin that sleeps 6 with a full kitchen and a gorgeous porch and deck area. they allow pets and are part of a community that has a swimming pool and playground for kiddos. and we are staying here for $165/night which is much cheaper than a night in a nice hotel. you can also rent it monthly or weekly for a pretty great rate as well. cost wise - this works out great for our family! it is the perfect amount of space and amenities for what we need.

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lastly, consider searching for a bed and breakfast in the area. bedandbreakfast.com is a great resource for searching and booking a bed and breakfast at your travel destination.

personally, i love staying at a bed and breakfast. there is something really special about getting to meet the people who own the home and breaking bread with them. having a meal with someone you have just met is such an intimate way to get to know them and usually you will also be having breakfast with other patrons of the business. this is a great way to meet new people plus get a little more knowledge about what you can do in the town you are staying in!

we always ask what the others are traveling for (it is a no-brainer conversation starter) and then i'm notorious for asking what they have done while they are there. "what attractions did you visit?", "tell me about a store you shopped in!", and most importantly, "where have you eaten that you'd recommend??" clearly, eating is the most important part of any vacation for me. ;)

if you want to get more specific about location, just google "bed and breakfast __________" and insert the town you are visiting in that blank. chances are there is a bed & breakfast in the town or maybe just outside of town!

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it really does pay to do some homework before you make travel plans. there are so many more options than just getting a hotel room for your vacation and you might be missing out on some really great amenities by not looking around first for other lodging options! you can also check with the office to see if they have partnerships with local attractions or restaurants that offer discounts to their patrons. many times restaurants reach out to local hotels and other lodging places to gain business during busy travel months. (there is an extra freebie tip for you!)

so tell us - where is the best place you have ever stayed? was it a hotel in NYC or a quaint cottage on the lake in michigan?

5 comments:

  1. I've got another option to suggest: airbnb.com. Basically it's like homeaway orVRBO except you can rent rooms in a home. It's really cost effective if you don't need a full house. Some homes even rent out in law suites!

    We like that you can see reviews and contact the homeowner before booking. And what better guide to local sites than a host who lives in town!

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    1. that is fantastic!! I love that idea - what a great website! I'm editing the post to add this!!

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  2. well my favorite place I've ever stayed was Hotel Manaco in Portland, OR. Very swanky and quite pricy. These days (now that the family has grown) I love renting cabins or houses. It is more cost effective because you don't have to spend as much on eating out and/or entertainment!

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    1. Oh I've never been to Oregon but I'd love to visit there one day. I agree with renting cabins and houses - it is so much cheaper that way! :)

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  3. That's great! You are well training the folks how to make best planning for the nest tour. With these tips they can save money and enjoy what they want.

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