Summer time typically means vacation time for many families across the United States. Once you’ve decided that you’re going to hit the road or hop on a plane — and where — the next natural question is, where will I stay?
The question of lodging can be a little tricky. Does your family own part of a timeshare or have a vacation home? Do you have hotel points built up from business travel or credit card use? If the answer is “yes” to any of those questions, your choices are easy. If the answer is “no,” the choices can seem daunting. It can be tough to know whether you’re getting the best price on vacation packages with so many options available.
There is no right way to go; much of the time, it simply comes down to preference and which option is the easiest and most convenient for you and your family.
Timeshares and Property Ownership
The vacation business has grown in stature across the country and one avenue of that growth is the timeshare industry. Timeshares allow vacationers to purchase a furnished resort accommodation without actually owning a second home. Typical programs give the owners use of the resort they bought into for one week a year and allow owners to exchange their week at sister resorts around the country and the globe.
In addition to timeshares, families often purchase a vacation home outright. In recent years, more than 10 percent of all homes have been vacation homes.
There are a huge number of websites devoted to helping you plan your vacation, and to finding a place to stay. Websites such as Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity do much of the work for you by consolidating the decisions you have to make about hotel, airfare and car rental into complete vacation packages.
For less structured accommodations, you can try looking for a bed and breakfast where the property owners generally also live in the home and rent out rooms or suites. Try sites such as bedandbreakfast.com. These have the benefit of unique charm and a home-cooked breakfast.
Websites such Craigslist and Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) act as a huge online bulletin board where timeshare and vacation home owners post ads to rent their properties. If you want to visit Lake Tahoe, for example, you can search local ads in that area or see if someone in your hometown has posted an ad for their property in Tahoe. But be careful of online scams, and make sure you are actually getting the property pictured and paying the actual property owner before sending any deposit money. Airbnb is another rental option that is also designed to avoid scams by not releasing the deposit to home owners until the renters check in and receive the key.
Of course, the traditional ways of booking your vacation (such as AAA or your local travel agent) still exist. What you choose depends on your level of comfort with online access tools or whether you just like the personal touch of face to face advice.
Whatever you choose, here’s a piece of advice: don’t put it off! Vacation time is important for the health and well being of anyone who works hard.