Budget summer vacations: Manhattan Beach, California using Homeaway.com

When my husband called me on my cell to tell me we had to move out of our house for a week while the hardwood floors were being refinished, I just stood in the middle of the food court at New York’s John F. Kennedy international airport and sighed. It’d been a long two days of flying the unfriendly skies. Not to mention, the last thing I wanted to do on a day off was spend my valuable time confined in a cramped hotel room near the Los Angeles airport with my husband, three year-old son, and crazy cat, a twenty pound Maine coon.

“Are you serious?” I asked, falling into a plastic chair in front of a dirty table near McDonald’s.

“It won’t be that bad,” my husband reassured me from all the way across the country where he sat, I imagined, feet propped up on his desk. “I’ll get us a suite at the Residence Inn.”

“Oh. Okay,” I said, even though it was not okay, as I racked my overworked brain for other places to stay that might be okay, and that’s when it hit me. “Wait! Don’t book anything just yet. I’ve got an idea.”

“This idea better not cost more than the Residence Inn,” my husband said before we said goodbye and hung up the phone.

For the record, there’s nothing wrong with the Residence Inn, but why stay in a hotel when there are other places to stay, better places to stay, like vacation rental homes right near the beach.

The first thing I did when I got back to my crashpad was change out of my navy blue polyester monkey suit and log onto the computer. I typed MANHATTAN BEACH VACATION HOMES into the search engine and soon found myself on the web site Homeaway.com. I scanned through hundreds of beautiful photos of amazing homes in Manhattan and Hermosa Beach, which is just a short twenty minute drive from the Los Angeles airport. I just knew there had to be something we could afford. On the beach. Under $1000/per week.

I was wrong.

Well, not entirely wrong, because all the places we could afford on the beach were either too small or already booked. Undeterred, I pressed on and found myself touring homes that were way out of our price range. I couldn’t help myself. And then I did something crazy. I emailed the owner of a $5,000/a day Italian villa.

I wrote, “Okay fine, I’ll take it off your hands for $2,000 a week.”


Not that I had $2,000 for the week, I just figured I’d…well…figure it out later.

As I’m sure you may have guessed, I didn’t have to figure it out later. The Italian Villa owner wrote back, “That’s funny.”

I decided to try funny again. And again. And again. I must have emailed about twenty different vacation home owners. Finally, while impatiently waiting for my bags at LAX, Jay, the owner of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, ocean front property in Manhattan Beach, California, called to inform me that the dates I had inquired about were open.

“Tell him!” my husband snarled when I told him we were in luck.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. “There’s a bit of a problem, Jay. It’s just…well…$1,900 for seven days is too much money for us spend, so we’re going to have to stay at the Residence Inn.” And then I added, “Sorry,” because I was, in fact, oh so sorry, sorry I wouldn’t be enjoying a beautiful view of the beach.

“How much is that place going to cost you?” Jay asked matter of fact.

I told him.

“Fine. I’ll take it,” said Jay. “Plus $100 for a cat deposit.”

And that’s how I scored an amazing deal on Homeaway.com! The cat has never been more relaxed.