In order to promote true blog transparency, today I’m going to share how my wife and I somewhat failed to vacation in a financially responsible way last week. Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes- I sure hope we do!
We spent about 10 days road tripping from our humble abode in Illinois to South Carolina, then to North Carolina, then to Indiana, and then back to Illinois. We spent some great time with family, reconnected with old friends, and nearly had our brains sucked out by parasitic amoeba (okay, more on that later).
The main purpose of the vacation was to (1) spend time with The Drunk Millionaire’s immediate family at Myrtle Beach (2) attend his cousin’s funeral wedding in the beautiful Asheville, NC and (3) spending some quality hubby-wifey time. While the title of this article implies regret, I want to stress that we had a great time. However, here are the money mistakes we made on our vacation (look for the brain-eating amoeba at the end).
Staying at hotels for 10 days can really add up! I’m not sure when this happened, but hotel/travel aggregator website really aren’t that handy any more. I remember the good ‘ol days when I could type in Charlotte, NC into Expedia/Orbitz/etc. and find some really great deals. Last week we found that almost every hotel website will price match any price savings found on an aggregator site. We rarely found greater than a 2% discount from these type of sites anyways- far less than I had remembered.
I also operated the booking part of our journey in a “wait until the last minute to get a cheaper price” mindset. While this may work in some places, I failed miserably with this strategy on this vacation. My mindset was rooted in the idea that these hotels likely had some remaining vacancy, and thus would be willing to negotiate on price late at night in order to make something rather than nothing.
Makes sense right? Not one hotel from IL to the Carolinas had any interest in bartering at all, and insisted on charging us the full rate. Perhaps part of this was due to the “tourist-trap” areas we were in like Asheville, but we ran into this all along our route! The few times we booked in advanced, we actually got a cheaper price than we would have waiting to book until the night of.
Setting a Vacation-budget.
Work has been extremely busy for both of us lately. Because of that, we didn’t have the time to sit down and make a travel budget prior to leaving.
The lack of planning led to only a loose idea of what the state our various accounts were in, and we often had to play a guessing game between the credit and debit card. Since we are both hyper conscious of fiscal responsibility and organization, the lack of planning increased the level of stress when a one hour budget meeting prior to leaving would have let us avoid this added headache.
Swimming with Brain-eating Amoeba.
Did you hear on the news last week that a 14-year old girl died of a brain-eating amoeba?
She was whitewater rafting at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC. The crazy thing is that we went rafting at the same place and at the same time! Apparently the single-celled organism enters a person’s body through the nose and from there infects and destroys the brain with nearly a 99% mortality rate. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lauren and her family.
While we did make a few financial missteps this vacation, this terrible tragedy served as a reminder that life is precious and very short and you can’t put a price on that.
Do you have any travel-hack recommendations? Share in the comments below!
*Update: after the majority of test samples came back positive for Naegleria fowleri, the Whitewater Center closed their doors yesterday 6/26.