Some of you may remember that for the past few years, my family has discussed the idea of renting a summer vacation home for a solid month. We could experience a different part of the country in-depth and really get to know a place.
Last summer, we put a deposit down on a rental. But until this week, we kept the location a secret from our kids. I wanted to wait until we returned from Hawaii so that they could be excited about one place at a time.
Unlike our Hawaii vacation reveal, I did not put any pomp and circumstance into telling our kids about our summer rental location. I simply showed them the rental’s vrbo photos.
So the Destination Is….
Daytona Beach Shores, Florida! My kids are THRILLED. We went to Daytona Beach Shores (just south of Daytona Beach proper) in the summer of 2015 after a short trip to Disney World. We only stayed for three nights, but even after three years my kids are still talking about that beach.
The waves are big enough to frolic in, but not big enough to knock the wind out of you. The sand is soft, fine and white, and it brushes right off! The beach stretches on and on for miles.
Although summer still seems like a long way off, we will be leaving in about 2 1/2 months!
The Vacation Rental
We rented a condo that is on the beach. The unit is almost 1900 square feet and has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen and a washer/dryer. Two of my kids will have to share a room, but they will all have their own bed, which is a HUGE plus!
The condo complex has two pools and two hot tubs. It is a block away from a grocery store and several restaurants. It has a bus stop on the corner.
Did I mention it’s right on the beach?!?!?! The condo is located on the 8th floor and has a large balcony directly facing the ocean. The master bedroom and living room both open to the balcony with ocean views.
Cost, and Slight Change of Plans
The Daytona Beach area has some of the most reasonable vacation rental prices around (check out Leana’s post on the subject). When I started looking for a month-long vacation rental, my target cost was about $3000 for the entire month. That’s about $100 a day, and it’s less expensive than most families spend during one week at Disney World!
I found many properties with great reviews for even less than that! The catch is that most of those properties were not directly on the beach. Some were just across the street. But I figured if we were going to relocate for a month, I wanted to be directly on the beach. I found several on the beach that met our needs and budget.
As I mentioned in my post last summer, we booked our condo through HomeAway/VRBO and paid the deposit. However, in the past few weeks we’ve had a slight change of plans. My husband is taking a new job, and he’s not going to have the time off and work-from-home schedule that we were counting on from his old job. He is likely now only going to travel there for one week, instead of two weeks (one week at the beginning of our month, one week at the end).
In light of that, we made the decision to reduce the length of our rental to just three weeks. That way, the kids and I will just have to miss my husband for two weeks as originally planned. I feel that three weeks apart is just too long, and definitely more than I wanted to take on by myself with the kids.
So the cost per day of our condo rental went up slightly, but overall we are still saving money from our original contract. With the money we are saving, I decided that the kids and I would arrive in Florida a few days early and do something fun before we head to Daytona Beach Shores (more on that in tomorrow’s post!)
For flights, we plan to use points we recently accumulated from the U.S. Bank Flexperks Visa pre-approved card (offer now expired) and some scraps of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
I realize this is very unorthodox, but for the first two weeks of our stay in Daytona Beach Shores we will not have a rental car. This is intentional, partly to save money, but partly just to slow down and simply enjoy the pools and beaches.
Instead of a rental car, we will buy weekly local bus passes (to the tune of $32.50 for my family each week). The bus routes in the area are very extensive. We can easily take the bus to the attractions in nearby Ponce Inlet, like the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse and the Marine Science Center, as well as most major malls and attractions within Daytona Beach.
My plan is to really slow things down and spend a lot of time outdoors. Read, relax, go boogie boarding. Repeat. Since we’ll be packing light, we won’t have a plethora of toys, video games or junk to keep us inside.
We may visit the local water park, check out a concert at the band shell and see fireworks every Saturday night at the pier. I’d like to shop at the weekly Farmer’s Market, ride the roller coaster over the ocean and see a movie at One Daytona. I might sign my boys up for surfing lessons or a week at surf camp.
But for the most part, we will enjoy the “free” stuff our new location has to offer, and just sprinkle in a few things that cost extra.
Day Trip Plans
When my husband joins us for the last week, we will rent a car to do some day trips. Some ideas:
St. Augustine: It’s the oldest city in the U.S. and only an hour north of Daytona Beach! See Leana’s trip report. In addition to the historical sites, it would also be fun to visit the Alligator Farm.
Silver Springs State Park: My family used to go to Silver Springs for a day off Disney when we went to Florida on vacation, and I have many fond memories on the glass bottom boats. The park is 90 minutes from Daytona Beach Shores.
Hontoon Island State Park: Less than an hour from Daytona Beach, this state park is on an island in the middle of the St. Johns River and is only accessible by ferry. The island has hiking trails, ruins, a museum and playground.
There are so many natural springs and state parks in this part of Florida. I’m sure we won’t run out of ideas for day trips!
What do you think of our plans? Do you think we will get bored staying in the same place for three weeks? Have you ever stayed in a vacation home for an extended period of time?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.