In July, we made the drive to San Diego for Bryan’s cousin’s wedding. San Diego is the perfect summer destination for its temperate climate and nice beaches. However, hotel prices spike in the summer since everyone else wants to be there, too. There is a joke about how many Arizonans go to San Diego for the summer, but I can’t remember it how it goes. I had my doubts about how we could make this an affordable and fun trip to a city in the middle of its high tourist season.
As soon as Bryan’s cousin sent out her Save the Date, we got busy contacting his extensive extended family to find roommates to share a house for the week. Two other families committed, and I started scouring the listings on Airbnb and VRBO. We needed an affordable house in a good location for our group of 11.
Now, sharing a house with two other families (plus a single) might seem like a budget move, but rental houses in the San Diego area, while plentiful, are quite pricey! The house we settled on for our group, with fees and taxes, was around $530 per night. However, after pricing out the week at a hotel for just our family (around $200 per night), I realized that we were just going to be paying a lot for lodging on this trip. The time with the cousins? Priceless!
The house was perfect for our group since it had three bedrooms and each family could have their own space, plus a giant backyard for the kids to play. We even hosted an impromptu barbeque for other family members later in the week. We couldn’t have done that at a hotel!
Food and Entertainment
It really worked out well because, while we were paying a premium for lodging, our entertainment and food budgets were next to nothing. Since we were in town for a wedding, we had a couple of meals and entertainment for two days already built into the agenda. We cooked most of our other meals at the house, packing a lunch one day for a trip to the beach. The rest of the time was spent enjoying each other’s company and catching up on our lives. We did stop to eat both ways on our drive, as well as one day when we hadn’t thought to pack a lunch for meeting up with another family at a park.
Extending a trip around an event like this can really help stretch those dollars, especially getting to and from the host city. We drove there since San Diego is only a five and a half hour drive from Phoenix, so gas to get there and back, with a stop in Yuma to fill up on cheaper AZ gas each way, and a bit more to get around town was the extent of our transportation budget. GasBuddy was very helpful in finding the best priced gas both in Yuma and in San Diego, and an emergency stop in Goodyear to compensate for my temporarily poor math skills.
The Bottom Line
So we didn’t do too bad. We could have saved some here and there, especially with eating out after playing at the park and on the drive, or choosing and booking the house earlier, but that is where a little forethought comes in handy. The tradeoff of springing for a rental house for a few extra days, instead of just getting a hotel for the weekend, was creating memories and spending quality time with our extended family.
Click here (or see below) to check out our trip budget.