Growing up, my family used to stay in motel rooms on our two day driving trips to see my grandparents. The rooms always smelled faintly of smoke and seemed perpetually smudged around the edges. Before we even got to the door, my mother would issue warnings to not touch anything. She’d immediately whip out the cleaning kit and set to work wiping down surfaces until she saw them fit enough to touch (even then we’d still wear shower flip flops in the bathroom). It wasn’t like we were staying in a roach motel, but her frequent cautioning meant that I grew up viewing hotel rooms with a deep suspicion. So it’s no surprise that when I think about staying in a hotel for two weeks a shiver of disgust runs down my spine. I imagine the bedbugs, the germs, the stray hairs and it makes my gross meter explode. 😯
My hubby is the opposite. He can settle right into a space just fine without worrying about what might be lurking on the doorknob. While I’m tiptoeing around to minimize feet to carpet contact, he’s right at home with shoes kicked off. (I used to ask him about shower shoes, but the quirked eyebrow had me packing only one pair. I don’t ask him anymore.) I’m envious of his nonchalance, his carefree nature because if I could settle more easily into a room like he can, then I’d probably be less wound up.
Let’s just say that our two week vacation to Seattle was causing me no little amount of stress. Hubby never gets excited about vacation planning, so I knew I was on my own. I wanted to pick out a nice, clean place with great reviews. Just like with my car rental, I started at the most obvious – Expedia.
My best friend lives smack dab in the middle of Seattle. Convenient, yes, cheap, no. Double occupancy hotel room prices ranged from $200 – $500 a night, and we’re not talking the Ritz here. Seeing as how we were going to be meeting up with hubby’s mother and her partner, we didn’t relish spending at least $2800 on lodging per couple. I wanted somewhere clean and nice, but I also didn’t want to spend our entire savings just to save my hubby the frustration of seeing me grimace any time he touched a faucet.
So, I started thinking. Whenever we visited our relatives in England and went traveling with them, they’d rent a house. A whole house. We’d all have rooms, a shower and a kitchen to sit and chat and drink tea. So I googled vacation houses to see if there were houses to rent just for vacations.
And found Homeaway.com.
It’s a website that lists the homes owners rent to travelers, usually with the caveat that you’ll be staying at least a few days. Unlike hotels or motels, you get the entire place, the yard (if it has one) and conveniences like a kitchen and laundry. (There are other sites out there, too, like VRBO and Flipkey. Some houses actually still have the owners living in them, so double check to make sure in case rooming isn’t your thing.)
There were cute bungalows, townhouses and even beach studio pads! Every entry came with a list of amenities and pictures, and I spent weeks looking at house after house making a list of all the possibilities. We wanted something cheap (definitely under $200), would sleep four adults, have WiFi (there’s no way we’d be having a good time without it) and air conditioning. Not too demanding, right? 😉 When I asked my friend about the air conditioning, her husband laughed out loud. Apparently people in Seattle don’t do air conditioning, but with our luck, it’ll be the hottest summer on record so I wasn’t taking any chances!
Even though I was beginning to go spare with all of my searching, it finally paid off! We nabbed a very cute house located in West Seattle, within 2 miles of Alki beach, and it has everything we want: 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a laundry room, WiFi, parking and air conditioning. The pictures of the house looked both cute, comfortable but above all CLEAN. I could imagine staying here and not worrying about whose feet touched the floor. In fact, I could imagine myself living here.
The price was also right. For our two week stay, our party of four adults will cost us $1600! That’s $800 a couple for two weeks! I can’t exclamation point enough!! Even if we were going by ourselves, we still would have saved at least half the cost of a regular hotel room. Another perk? You could pay the owners with PayPal so your credit information stays safe.
If you’re going on vacation, just like with rental cars, take another look at your options. Instead of paying for a hotel (whose prices include the room cleaning and desk operator costs), see if a house is in your future. Surprisingly, you have a lot of choices when it comes to accommodations and it pays to look around.
I’ll post a review of the property once our vacation is over. Until then, I’ll make sure to only pack one pack of cleaning wipes. 😉