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The other day, my reader Audrey emailed me letting me know about this new product from Sky Auction. Basically, it’s designed in a way that makes it very easy to see and compare various vacation rentals as well as availability and price. Check it out here You go to their main page and do a search by selecting your destination first:
I was quite excited, so started playing around with various destinations. I was mostly curious about pricing during high season because that’s when most families vacation. So, I put in the week starting December 24th 2016, and selected Disney area. Here are just a few options that popped up:
As you can see, one of the resorts doesn’t have any availability during Christmas week. In fact, only three places turned up anything around that time period. Orbit One Vacation Villas resort does have availability, but the price jumps to $905 for seven nights. Still, that’s not bad for a two-bedroom unit with three (!) bathrooms. It sure beats sharing one hotel room.
As always, the caveat is that rates are usually non-refundable, and you can only book the unit for 7 nights. Audrey did mention that you can sometimes book shorter stays by going to their bidding section, but prices are usually not as good. So, you need to be sure of your plans and consider buying travel insurance.
However, it could be worth it even if you are only planning on staying 5 nights because in all likelihood, you’ll come out ahead. This is especially true if you are traveling off-season. Take the kids out of school a bit early, arrive on the 18th of December, and the same unit can be yours for only $399 for 7 nights.
I was curious to see what kind of beachfront condos they have on the East coast of Florida. BTW, there is very little availability when it comes to West coast in the Sunshine state. I put in the dates for next March (Spring Break) and to my surprise, there were several places available. Here is one that caught my eye:
It’s located across the street from the beach, there are several pools and even a hot tub. Daytona Beach does get busy and unclassy in the spring, but this looks like a family resort, so you should be fine. Obviously, paying $1,200 for a week is not cheap, but could make sense if you have a large family. This one will fit up to 6 and has a full kitchen.
You don’t have to have Sky Auction account just to browse, but in order to book, you’ll have to register (for free) on this page The charge should be coded as “travel,” so you might be able to use your sign-up bonus from Barclaycard Arrival Plus or Capital One Venture Rewards cards (read about both here) You can always try calling the bank and see if they let you redeem your points for this charge, since it’s definitely travel-related.
There is no right or wrong answer
So, why would you ever use hotel points if you can do so much better by booking vacation rentals? I’ve written a post on this subject before which I recommend you read if you are new around here Paid vacation rentals vs. rooms bookable on points, plus opportunity cost My position has not changed since I wrote it. There are many factors that go into this decision. Those are: length of stay, size of your savings account, amount of hotel points you have on-hand, you preferences and your need for flexibility.
I’ve said before that I’m very much an opportunist when it comes to travel. I’m not loyal to any chain or one way of doing things. Sometimes I book vacation rentals through a site like VRBO or SkyAuction, other times I use my stash of hotel points if the rates are fairly reasonable. Recently, I even burned AAdvantage miles on a 2-bedroom condo in Florida Keys.
My goal is to conserve cash if at all possible because we have very little when it comes to savings. Plus, I can always get a new credit card that offers hotel points, but it’s not that easy for me to go and make a $1,000 since I’m a stay-at-home mom. For others, situation may be completely different. They might have hardly any hotel points but decent savings, and like to travel off-peak when they can take advantage of amazing deals offered by sites like Sky Auction.
Recently, I’ve written a post on using hotel points on two rooms for a beachfront Florida vacation. Do I think it’s the most cost-effective way of doing things? Heck no! You will almost always do better by getting a condo rather than burning points on two units each night. But for someone who has very little savings, good credit score and just wants to add a short beach getaway after Disney trip, this could be an option. To me, this hobby is all about choices.
Dia from TheDealMommy blog is currently vacationing in Gran Canaria, Spain. The cost for a 2-bedroom condo? Only $600 for 7 nights since it’s currently off-season in that part of Europe. AMAZING. Sure, they had to burn 160K AAdvantage miles+ award taxes on 4 roundtrip tickets. Still, they are spending their Spring Break in freakin Spain, y’all!
Think outside the box
What I hope to do with my blog is encourage you not to get hung up on only one way of doing things. Try to evaluate each trip individually, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to travel. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m very opinionated. It would be silly for me to deny it, so I’m not even going to pretend. The reason I started this blog was because I disagreed with the mainstream miles and points advice when it comes to regular family’s needs.
That said, it’s important not to cross the line of giving an opinion and imposing it on someone. In the past, I’ve made statements which I now regret. The last thing I want is to talk down to my readers and make them feel bad about their choices. And no, I don’t think other bloggers are idiots for giving a different advice. In the end, we all write from our own perspective. It’s not right or wrong, it’s simply one way of doing things. There are many paths to affordable travel, you don’t always have to stick to just one.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.