Jan 25 2008

Trip to Florida update: Lodging


I promised y’all I’d keep you updated on my travel plans to Florida for my husband’s sister’s wedding.

I do this to help myself remember what we did and how we paid, and possibly to help you get a bargain.

After searching through countless vacation home listings, calling several lovely options, only to find that they had just been rented…we finally found a vacation rental and put a deposit on it. Woo hoo!

Our criteria:

  • We wanted it to be on Fort Myers Beach, rather than further inland. Though inland rentals are cheaper, we’d have to drive to the beach daily–an additional expense and hassle.
  • It had to sleep at least 7 people. The place we chose happens to sleep 10 people.
  • We wanted a place with a private swimming pool. Those are pretty common down there, and it seems like a fun thing to have while on vacation. We probably paid a little more for this property because it has a pool–but we might be able to save a little on areas of paid entertainment.
  • It had to have at least two bathrooms and central air conditioning.
  • It had to have a full kitchen, so that we can prepare our meals there and not eat at restaurants the entire time.
  • We don’t want it to cost a fortune!

In my first post on the trip, I put together some estimates for how much things would cost so we could accurately budget. Well, I under-budgeted the vacation rental by about $100. Whoops.

The place we booked costs $1,100 for six nights. Add on 11 percent tax, cleaning fees, and another fee, we were looking at $1400 total for seven people–or $200 each. Yikes!

I asked the listing agent if they would be willing to pro-rate the price and only charge us for the five nights we’d be staying there. The owner agreed to give us a bargain (somehow, even better than a flat pro-rated deal)– we were only charged $850 for six days and five nights. Wow! Add on the tax and fees, and we’re looking at about $1,140.

Asking for a better rate saved our group $260 –or about $40 per person. Woo hoo!

If they weren’t willing to pro-rate the price, I was going to try another bargaining strategy: Paying in full right away, rather than making installment payments.  They’d get all of their money faster, so there might have been an incentive to give us a price break. Since they gave us the pro-rated deal, I decided to be grateful and accept the price.

Still, for my husband and I, that’s $326.57.  Or, for the two of us, that would be $65 per night. Find me a decent hotel along the beach at that price including tax (there aren’t any). So, we still got a great deal, even though I under budgeted.

Why did I under budget?

Well, for one, I forgot to include the 11 percent tax and cleaning fees in my estimates. Another, we weren’t sure if we’d have 10 people or 7. It’s looking like seven now, but possibly one more will join us.

Lesson learned: Budget for the entire price–including tax and fees. It’s a significant number! 

My budget for the whole trip isn’t blown, though.

I added a 10 percent “I forgot to budget for this” bubble–which was $100.

Our flights were a whopping $2 under budget (yay!).

My Entertainment Book for the area is sure to save us money on restaurants and other things during the trip. It even has a $5 off $50 purchase at the grocery, which we’ll likely use.

Finally, thanks to YOU LOVELY, WONDERFUL READERS, my Ebates account has racked up a whopping $97. I’ll get that in May.  $17 of that was from my own purchases/personal bonuses, and the rest of it is from those of you who listed me as a referral and bought something using the Ebates portal. Thank you so much for blessing me!

Posted under Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Trip to Florida update: Lodging”

  1. 11 percent tax? Wow! That’s a lot!

    I’m excited you were able to get something for the both of you at only $65 a night! I have stayed at a beach house twice in my life, and I must say I SOO much prefer it to day trips to the beach! For one, you can go inside during the heat of the day. :-) I also love swimming pools even if I’m at the beach, so that’s great that you will get to experience both. I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

  2. Hooray! Glad to help. It certainly didn’t cost me anything. :D

  3. Although you make more getting people signed up with ebates, you make more money using a site like http://www.savingswatch.com to make your online purchases as they have higher percentages. They also seem to offer better coupons.

  4. Its cool…. I saved 65% on my trip to Europe at Air France.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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