Get unbelievable accommodations at a budget price
By Patrick Robertson
The biggest cost of travel today is accommodation.
You can spend $10,000 a month for a condo in Hawaii or you can rent an estate for $25,000 a day in Palm Springs. There is no limit to what you can spend on accommodations. The trick is to get unbelievable accommodations at a budget price. It is doable with research, perseverance, timing and a bit of luck.
I was able to rent an amazing house named Blue Hawaii on the southeast tip of Oahu that has been the setting of many movies and episodes of Hawaii-5-0 and normally rents for $20,000 a week.
I paid $3,500 for a week in this stunning house. The views were unbelievable. The retractable windows remained open the entire week. The house captured the ocean breezes with no air conditioning or heat required. It had an infinity pool, ocean access, multiple entertainment areas, a large gourmet kitchen and outdoor kitchen. It was one of those houses that you did not want to leave, it had so much to offer.
I rented the Dalmore House in northern Scotland for just $3,500 for the week. There were 10 of us celebrating my birthday and it cost just $350 per person for seven nights. The baronial manor is so large that I got lost inside a couple of times.
The estate was 40 acres with about 10 acres in gardens. Alongside the estate runs the Alness Creek that is a top rated trout fishing creek. The village of Alness is a lovely 20-minute walk along the creek or through horse pasteurs. We had a wonderful time walking the trails and playing English garden games along with wonderful dinner parties and parlour games each night.
Not all great stays have to be large places. One of our nicest stays was a week in a small sugar shack on a coffee plantation on the Island of Hawaii for $400. These shacks were new and had all the modern conveniences including granite counter tops, all new appliances and a large spa type tiled shower.
With resources, know-how and planning, accommodations can be inexpensive and they can even be free.
We have done 20 free home exchanges all over the world; London, Paris, Miami and Ottawa to name a few. All for free. We have been home exchanging since 2005. There are a number of home exchange websites on the Internet. Prices vary from free to $1,000 a year. As I am writing this, I signed up to a new home exchange site run by a couple from England, for free.
They are offering the first 1,000 members, free lifetime memberships. I thought, what the heck?
Home exchange is not for everyone. There is the trust issue. People’s fear that they will come home to a damaged house or that something will be stolen. When we first looked at doing home exchanges we had those concerns. We have never had a problem. Our home has always been left spotless.
It takes a lot of searching especially if you are looking for synchronous exchanges when you are in their home the same time you are in their home. We have been able to do non-synchronous exchanges where you go to each other’s homes at different times. For example, this might occur if they want to come skiing in the winter and we want their place in the fall.
Do you like pets? You can get free accommodations for pet sitting. One website I follow has 3,670 active sits right now. One place I looked at in San Diego had a fenced backyard that is a doggy water park complete with slides, waterfalls, climbing rocks, a river and a deep pool for their three active dogs. Websites looking for volunteer labour offer free room and board for a few hours work a day. There are literally thousands of positions available at any time.
The last tip for free accommodations is to rent your place out. We generally go away for two months at a time. Our insurance requires the house to be checked every three days. We travel too much and too long to ask our friends and neighbours to look after the house.
We have no problem renting our place during high and shoulder seasons. We use this money to offset our accommodation costs when we are travelling. We generally rent our house below market price to people who have been recommended by friends. Someone who needs a place for a few months. It works out well for both of us.
In the last three articles, I have covered budget and free plane travel, car rental and accommodations. Next month I will cover travel insurance and staying healthy and safe on your travels. Visit my website for links to some of the websites mentioned in this article.
– 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. Visit his Tool page for powerful planning tools to book your whole trip. Like him on Facebook for weekly tips.
Photo by Patrick Robertson