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We all wish we could just take a week off, or even a weekend, and get away from our adult responsibilities for a while. This sort of "how to guide" will help you find affordable places to stay wherever you go on vacation. Whether you're going away to the beach for the week with your significant other, or you're taking your family on a getaway, these few tips will help you out.
When I'm looking into booking a vacation for myself or a client, the first step is always to ask yourself, "Where am I going?" If you limit yourself to "What can I afford," then you'll never go anywhere. I'm not saying to spend every penny you have, I'm just saying to keep your options open.
Pick a Location
This is all depending on where you are in the world. Assuming you're in the United States, and for the sake of keeping with one example place, let's go over to the east coast. One of the most popular, affordable places people love to visit is the oh so famous Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Myrtle Beach is definitely a big tourist area, and it is very busy and can be pretty pricey for a family in the midst of summer.
What Kind of Room?
Let's say you've already chosen your destination, so now what do you do? The next step would be to decide whether you want a condo or a hotel room. Many establishments are just hotel efficiency rooms, which comes with a smaller kitchen, no washing machine in the room, no dishwasher, and normally no actual secluded bedroom. Keep in mind that some rooms may have been renovated recently and the kitchens could include a dishwasher. You can check that when looking at hotel rooms. These rooms are ideal for a family trying to save some cash, and most hotels have laundry facilities somewhere within the grounds. To keep with the example, you are a family of four and have now chosen to book a standard hotel room.
DON'T use booking sites.
Another tip you should go by is to always book through the actual hotel site whenever possible. I cannot tell you how many times I have booked through a travel site and there have been problems with losing money and almost not getting a room at all because the sites have messed up the booking. That's not to bash external booking sites, but it is best to stick with the hotel.
Myrtle Beach is great during the fall. The prices for booking have gone down, there aren't as many people crowding everything, and normally hotels will give you their fall discounts such as "stay four nights get one free." The weather in Myrtle Beach during the fall months, such as October, is still very warm and sunny during the day. Although, the weather is extremely unpredictable so it could be sunny and 85 one day and be cloudy and a cool 70 the next. The weather when on vacation is always hit or miss unless you're booking in the dead of summer. It is best to book a vacation during early spring or near the first to middle of fall. If you have children and they can't miss school then a good time would be on their fall break.
What to Search For
When you've found what hotel you're going to go with, you should consider your filters to use when searching. Fall prices, as I said, are much cheaper a night than in summer. You can book a room at a hotel that's very nice but expensive during the summer for less than $100 a night around October.
You've now chosen your hotel and you have picked a room for under $1,000. I know that number sounds scary, but let me put this into a little bit of perspective. This same room for the middle of summer is over $2,000. Don't forget to ground yourself when booking because prices can be more than intimidating. Your final booking price may be $1,000 but you have to keep in mind that the same room will be nearly $3,000 any other time.
Now you're at your hotel and you need to buy some food. The best thing I can tell you is to plan your meals ahead. Do not eat out if you need to save your money! Go shopping for easy to fix meals and snacks. Some examples would be spaghetti, chili, hot dogs, even hamburgers. You could also buy frozen dinners to save a bit more money. I very much recommend shopping at your nearest Piggly Wiggly if you're in the south. They are budget friendly and have various savings deals all the time just like Food City or Food Lion. You can do like my family and I do and set aside one night of our vacation before we leave to eat out at a local restaurant.
What to Do
If you're staying closer to the boardwalk, or whatever sort of pier or boardwalk you're closest to on your beach vacation, there are many shops and arcades to play at for kids. If you want to stay very budget friendly then you could visit local parks, play mini golf, or just hang out on the beach. If you have small children I would recommend bringing beach toys such as the classic shovel and pail.
Let's try to add some of these costs up.
- Hotel: $683
- Groceries: $100
- Mini Golf: $30
- Arcade: $30
- Beach Toys: $10
Give or take a couple more expenses, your total, minus buying gas would be around $900, and that's for a family of four! If you come to Myrtle Beach for real, I recommend stopping by Alligator Adventure. It's right by Barefoot Landing and it is a very interesting place to visit.
I hope I have helped you out even a little with these simple vacation tips that most people probably already know about, but here they are anyway.