Finding budget accommodations
By Patrick Robertson
Half of your day is spent inside your accommodation. It is the most important part of a trip.
Vacation rental prices have gone sky high with HGTV shows promoting vacation rental prices of $500 and $600 a night, Airbnb hosts asking $200 to $1,500 a night and VRBO asking $500 to $5,000 a night or more. Four-star hotels are $350 a night. Three-star hotels are $200 a night. At those prices a two-week vacation rental is going to cost between $5000 to $10,,000. Way out of the price range for a budget traveller.
Travellers go places for a variety of reasons. In November, I like to leave the mountains as it is a month of wind, rain, sleet, snow, storms and grey skies. This November is the first since the pandemic started in 2020. In my mind it is still a time of staying away from large groups and breathing the shared air of others. A time of caution which makes it more difficult to plan our travel.
In addition to expensive accommodations, plane travel is more expensive than before the pandemic. A flight to Mexico is $1,200 return. So when flights of under $300 came up for Maui, Hawaii for flights in November, I took notice. Maui is not my favourite island but it is Hawaii and we love Hawaii.
Cheap flights but Hawaii has become uber expensive during the pandemic. Nightly accommodations skyrocketed from $150-300 a night to $650-800 a night for the same place. The demand has outstripped the supply.
Now that I had a deal to work with, I thought I would check out the timeshare resellers to look at the availability and prices of a week in Maui and maybe I could find something reasonable. I was able to find three seven-day timeshare rentals back-to-back in three different resorts for $1,500 per week. Not bad; $1,500 a week is our new budget price for a week rental, up from $750 a week 10 years ago.
Next, I thought I would check Craigslist for Hawaii vacation rentals. There were a number for various times of the year. I contacted two ads. They looked legitimate. Both replied the same day and said that they had availability at reasonable prices of $150 USD a night or $200 CDN.
The trouble with Craigslist is that there are many scammers and one has to be very careful. In this case, one of the landlords supplied the complex number to verify that he owned the condo. I called and he owned the property and rents it out with a state license.
The other landlord gave his business number which I ran through Hawaii State government to verify that he was a legitimate property manager. There was a company registered under that name, but the website was amateurish. A Google search brought up a different phone number than what he gave me. I called both numbers but they were not working. It did not feel right so I bailed on that contact.
You should always ask if they take credit cards. A legitimate property management company will take credit cards. Never wire money. If the advertiser is asking you to wire money or use some unfamiliar money platform, walk away from the deal. It is trouble with a capital, T.
The next place to check for rental accommodation is Facebook. There are a number of groups for owners and renters for the various islands. You can post a request and someone will contact you with the availability and rates. These are often new people to the rental market or ones that want to maximize their rent. There are no bargains here. If you find one, grab it.
After all the searching, I decided it was not worth going to Maui for a month. Cheap flights but the accommodation is too high for a budget traveller and the private transportation costs on the island are the highest they have ever been.
I ended up deciding to go to the Okanagan and visit my family instead. I am going to try to find time to bike The Okanagan Rail Trail. If I do, I will write about it in my column.
Those of you who are still dreaming about Hawaii, prices to Kauai over the next few months have just gone down to about $600 return. Kauai is my favourite Hawaiian island. Check out my Kauai destination guide on my blog.
Lead image: A recent accommodation hosting Patrick – the Kleemann House in Custer, SD. Photo submitted
– Patrick Robertson is a travel writer and long-time resident of Fernie. He is an expert in planning independent travel and finding budget travel deals. Go to his website for more information and pictures of this trip to Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta (pictured above).