Vacation on a Budget – Part 2 – Where to Stay

In part 1, I went over our budget for our 2013 Family Vacation. Our total budget was $2,400 cash. We had saved up that amount in a savings account, and had no more than that to spend. Our rough breakdown was:

  • $1,200 for lodging (50%)
  • $300 for gas (12.5%)
  • $400 for food, groceries, supplies (16.7%)
  • $500 for activities (20.8%)

Location, Location, Location

Our family enjoys going to see the ocean. We also like working in a trip to a town with some history. Last year we went to Charleston, SC. This year we wanted to go somewhere different, so we decided to go to the Savannah, GA area. We wanted to stay a little bit closer to the ocean than we would have if we had stayed in Savannah, so we looked for places to stay in Tybee Island, GA. There aren’t too many hotels on the island, but there are a lot of vacation rentals – we turned to Vacation Rentals By Owner to find a rental house.

This process was a little more involved than goin to, say, Expedia or We had to contact the owners or property managers to see if their units were truly available on the dates we wanted to travel (some didn’t even have calendars showing open days). We wanted a place with at least two rooms – one for us, one for the kids. We chose “A Lovelly Place”, a two bedroom cottage just two blocks from the ocean. For a 5 night stay, the rental was $800, plus $104 in taxes, plus a $95 cleaning fee, for a total of $999. This was more than the much smaller hotel rooms on the island, but the added space gave us some privacy and quiet away from our two toddlers.

On our trip back to Nashville, we chose to stay two nights in Atlanta and see some sights. For the shorter stay, it was easier to book a hotel through We started to book a hotel for about $140 for the two nights, but they ran out of rooms (this was over the Memorial Day weekend). We ended up staying at a Homewood Suites in North Atlanta for $189.84 for the two nights.

One common complaint that we have heard from friends about not having a credit card is that it makes it very difficult to travel. We were able to book all seven nights of our trip without the use of a credit card. We booked the hotel in Atlanta on using our debit card. If there was a hold put on the card, I was never aware of it. I did have to present the card to the front desk to cover damages, but we left the room clean and were not charged anything. For the vacation rental, we actually mailed a check for $999 directly to the owners several weeks before our trip.

Total for 7 nights : $1,188.84 (out of $1,200 budgeted)

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