A few months ago I wrote about how to make your monthly expenses work towards future travel, which has quickly become one of our most popular posts. For the past few years we have been utilizing our Travel Rewards Credit Card for our monthly expenses, then paying it off each month. We sat down earlier this summer to plan a two week Fun Family Vacation to St. Croix USVI, and realized we had enough airline miles to purchase two of our four round trip tickets for free.
I wondered, since two of our tickets are free, how much would it cost us to rent a condo for a little longer? I began to search the various vacation rental sites and had difficulty finding rentals with a monthly rate option. I sent private messages to several properties asking the owners if they offered a monthly “off season” rate. I heard back from almost every property manager/owner with a wide variety of discount rate options. A few offered smaller discounts, while several offered a monthly rate that was almost 1/2 of peak season rates. Because we are vacationing during “off season”, many properties offered a reduced monthly rate equal to what we would have paid for two weeks. For us, it didn’t make sense not to take the opportunity to stay for an extended time for about the same cost.
In the end, we decided on a little more expensive property due to it’s secure WiFi (so we can work online), close proximity to the beach, and family friendly pool area. The monthly rate quotes we received ranged from $1600 – $4800 for a family of four.
Our Travel Costs to the USVI:
2 FREE plane tickets (Miles + Taxes) $32.40
2 Paid Plane tickets, Tax & Fees ($694.92 ea) $1389.84
30 Days Condo Rental (includes all tax & fees) $3800.00
Travel & Medical Insurance for 4 people $288.00 Due to our son’s allergy concerns we always purchase additional travel insurance. This will also cover any weather related interruptions.
Additional Expense: Car Rental $880 (will be erased with our credit card travel points eraser feature.)
Had we chosen the least expensive rental we could have dropped the monthly cost down to $3310. We also could have used our excess airline miles to further decrease the cost of the two paid tickets. We decided to save those miles towards future travel.
By traveling during off season using airline miles and travel reward points, a family of four CAN vacation in the US Virgin Islands (airfare & lodging) for about $827 per person for an entire month!
This is our second trip to St. Croix and we have a good idea of which grocery stores offer the best prices and where to get local farm produce and the best fresh fish. We also returned to St Croix due to the food allergy friendly grocery options on the Island. I have budgeted about $250 per week for food which includes 1-2 restaurant visits each week. We will pack some dried goods, (spaghetti noodles/macaroni & cheese), along with essential seasonings and condiments so we do not have to purchase them on the island.
Hopefully this is conservative and we will be well under our grocery budget at the end of the month.
TIPS to saving money on long term travel:
- Travel to your destination during off season.
- If using a credit card is right for your family, research and get the best travel rewards card for your spending habits. Use airline miles/travel rewards points to decrease the cost of your tickets.
- Contact property owners/managers directly and ask for long term discounts. Always contact owners/managers directly for off season pricing options for any length vacation.
- Ask locals where to purchase fresh produce and find the best priced groceries.
- Pack a few meal time essentials (dried seasonings, dried goods, zip lock bags, aluminum foil etc.) that tend to be pricey in tourist areas. If traveling internationally, make sure your destination will allow these items to be brought in through customs.
YES we will have to work due to the extended vacation, but when we aren’t working we can’t wait to be doing THIS…
We will be blogging frequently from the Virgin Islands during our Fun Family Vacation – Please follow us here. Check out our recent blog post to learn how we Prepared for our long term vacation and download a FREE printable checklist.