We all want to save money when we travel. Next to airfare, accommodations take up the next biggest chunk of the travel budget, particularly when traveling during peak season. Fortunately, there a number of options beyond hotels, including vacation rentals and home exchanges, both of which can save you a lot of money.
Last month, I took my older girls (ages 7 & 9) to Europe where we spent nearly a week in Vienna, then took the train to Prague for a few days. We visited museums and palaces, took in the festive Christmas Markets and tasted delicious pastries. It was a fantastic trip, and in both Vienna and Prague we stayed in city apartments we found on HomeAway.
I’d used HomeAway two other times – when we traveled to Orlando and Puerto Rico for family vacations – so I was familiar with the service and how easy it was to search for vacation rentals, confirm available dates and make contact with property managers. It was just as easy this go-round to find apartments in our preferred locations.
In Vienna, we stayed in a lovely one-bedroom apartment in the second district that easily slept four to six people. The rate was $120 per night (far less than a night at a nearby hotel), and the owner met us as we arrived, even at 10 pm at night. He also provided us with a Vienna guidebook to use during our stay, which was a nice touch.
The apartment had everything we needed – a kitchen, web access and a washer/dryer. I also liked that the apartment was only four blocks from the Schwedenplatz U-bahn station (subway), which made it very easy to get around Vienna. We loved the public transportations system in Vienna since we never had to wait more than five minutes, even on the weekend, for a subway or a tram to get where we wanted to go.
Just a few blocks further away from the apartment was St. Stephen’s Cathedral, one of the most beautiful and most popular sites in Vienna. A few more blocks up the road through the historic district was Hofburg Palace, Julius Meinl (a must-stop gourmet grocery) and Demel (one of the most amazing pastry shops). So the apartment really was in the perfect location.
When we left the apartment after six nights, we took the train to Prague for three nights in another one-bedroom apartment that was just $60 per night. This flat was just a two-minute walk from the Charles Bridge that connects to Old Town. It was also about a ten-minute walk to Prague Castle, so it really was in an ideal location. When we arrived, the property manager even picked us up at the train station and drove us to the apartment.
If you’re considering a vacation rental, you may want to check out a few other blog posts I’ve written to help you prepare for your experience:
If you’ve ever stayed in a vacation rental, or even done a home exchange, let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear about your tips and experiences.
Disclaimer: HomeAway arranged for us to stay in the Vienna apartment at no cost to us. We paid the full rental price for our apartment in Prague. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.