I’ve mentioned many times that I’m cheap. It’s a trait of mine I don’t particularly care for, and have to constantly fight. I’ve gotten better over the years, but it’s still a struggle.
To be clear, I’m not “tip-stiffing” kind of cheap, but more like “let’s burn points on this hotel by the highway instead of a beach resort” cheap. And indeed, I have done it!
That’s the bathroom at our vacation “resort.” See how one of the tiles is missing? I think a part of my brain was missing when I used points on this hotel. I also once couldn’t resist booking a Holiday Inn Express (that was on IHG PointBreaks list) for our wedding anniversary getaway.
I do strategic splurges now and again, but those have to be thoroughly analyzed and approved by my OCD brain. We are on a tight budget, so a lot of it is perfectly justified. However, I have enough hotel points that I DON’T have to choose between a hotel by the highway and one on the beach. I can have either one. So, why be so cheap? The short answer: I can’t help myself.
I grew up poor, and the first time I even stayed in a hotel was when I was an exchange student visiting United States. I never had much: several pairs of pants, two pairs of shoes, all of it usually worn out. When I was growing up, our furniture was several decades old and barely holding up. The goal was always to squeeze as much value as possible out of everything, because we had to.
And I’ve kept this mentality ever since. Many years ago, I was responsible for booking a hotel in San Francisco. My in-laws were coming with us. I was a casual participant in this hobby and didn’t have any hotel points at the time. So, I started my search for the best property (a.k.a the cheapest).
It came down to two choices: a recently remodeled hotel that was $70 per night (a special that included continental breakfast) or more sketchy property for $55 (with full breakfast). If you are familiar with San Francisco, you know that both are incredibly cheap. We were staying only one night, and could afford either one. So, it came down to reviews.
The first property had positive feedback across the board, the second …not so much. But I figured, how bad could it be? Plus, the rate included full breakfast: eggs, bacon and more!!! And I love value. So, of course, we got the hotel for $55 per night and dragged my in-laws with us. Well, the price should have been an indication that the deal was too good to be true.
Even though the hotel was central (my main requirement), it was located across a massage parlor. Let’s just say I would not let my husband go there for his massage needs. The property was super dingy. When we were walking through the hallway, we passed a room where the door was wide open. There was a guy cooking on a hot plate. It looked like he was living there. And for $55 per night in expensive San Francisco, why not?
You could feel every spring in the mattress, it had to be older than the one we had in my house while growing up. On to breakfast. Yes, there were eggs but… They looked like something you first fried, then dumped on the ground and rolled in dirt before serving it to hotel guests. The look of bacon at that place almost made me a permanent vegetarian. Almost.
In short, we got what we paid for. When I told my mother-in-law that I probably should have gone with the hotel that was $70 per night, she flipped out: “You mean for $15 more we could have stayed in a decent place?” I dropped the ball, big time. So, I have resolved from then on that if we only spend one night in a new city, we get a decent place to stay. After all, who knows when we’ll be back.
But I really should apply it to all of my getaways, even local ones. My husband works like a dog and deserves a nice treat, pun intended. Time is the most valuable and scarce commodity. If we pack and go through the trouble of driving somewhere, why not make our time count? Of course, it doesn’t mean that we have to spend a fortune on every trip. I’m certain we’ll enjoy staying in a suite at Wyndham Garden in Fort Myers that I recently booked. It has decent reviews and seems perfect for small kids.
But I also would like to do more trips like the one Nancy just wrote about. Even without Diamond status it seems like a terrific deal for 20,000 Hyatt points per night. So, I declare: no more basic hotels by the highway during family vacations! If I have the points, I’m burning them on a decent resort-type place.
I’m worth it. My family is worth it.
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.