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September 27, 2010


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We do this all the time. Most recently we spent Christmas in New York City (Brooklyn). This cost us nothing because we swapped houses with our neighbor's daughter so she spent the week with her parents on Cape Cod but not in their house.

We have also rented houses at the Outer Banks (multiple times), the Catskills (mountain top home), New Hampshire (Waterville Valley), South Carolina (Lake Murray), and Pittsburgh (farm vacation). The cost savings are amazing when you factor in food and the ability to relax away from everything.

We have also traveled with other families to help reduce the costs even more. A house split three ways becomes very inexpensive. We also try to go off-season which reduces costs even more. An ocean front five bedroom house that rents for $5,000 a week in the summer at OBX rents for $1,800 over April vacation. The weather is amazing and everything is just opening back up so they are glad to see you and there are no crowds.

We have never had a bad experience with this and we have dealt with management companies and directly with the owners. It does take a leap of faith sometimes but our experience has been great.

We have rented a condo in Winter Park, CO, a condo in Sanibel Island, FL and many times we have rented houses at the Outer Banks, NC. We like the additional space and the ability to cook some meals. I think it's healthier, as well as cheaper, to do some of your own cooking, even if it's very basic because you're on vacation. We have had positive experiences. Even when things were not perfect they were perfectly acceptable.

Each year we rent a condo for a few weeks during the Christmas holidays at a SC beach. This has been a family tradition for the last 10 years and our kids love it ! It's only a 4 hr drive for us and it give us a chance to enjoy a bit nicer weather than at home. We are taking it a step further this year.

After some research we discovered that many owners will provide great snowbird rates for those willing to rent winter months during their off season. This year we had a Nov trip planned in addition to our normal Dec trip so we shopped around and found several owners willing to give us a great rate for 1.5 months at the same price quoted for a long weekend in November and 2 weeks in Dec.

We know we won't get to use the entire time ourselves so we are offering the extra weeks to family members who have more flexibility than us.

This also allows us more flexibility in arrival / departure days since most rentals require a Sat - Sat rental.

For those new to home/condo rentals check out the many VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) type websites. Be sure to verify feedback from previous renters (cross check multiple sites) so you can ensure that you get what you paid for. In our area A lot of commercial rental companies also provide a similar service & rate if you feel better dealing with a company.

dd --

Is it warm enough then to get into the water? What sort of temps do you have?

No, we don't go for swimming. We go because the temps are moderate enough to allow us to enjoy being outside. Walks on the beach, bike rides over miles of HHI pathways, tennis, putt-putt, etc.

The crowds are non-existent this time of year as well so it makes the whole trip even more relaxing.

You can often save money going for private rentals, and it's often a better experience.

Check out to see listings of rentals ranging from single rooms to whole houses.

For those of you that like hotel amenities when travelling:

It is becoming more popular for hotel developers to sell each individual hotel room to investors (allows them to take on smaller construction loans and recoup costs earlier). Then they set up a rental program and allow the investors to op in - hotel makes money while owners take the risk!

Why does this matter? each hotel will have some investors who "opt out" of the rental pool and try to rent it on their own. They will give you better prices in exchange for not having daily cleanings etc. Great way to cut on costs but still stay in a hotel!

PS - I'm actually sitting in a private rental right now in Park City! $35/night for 40 nights in a hotel that would normally cost $150/night and up!

Sounds a little scary, especially with kids. If I was single and wanting to hop around the country, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

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