This past weekend I took one last trip to get away before the end of summer. Traveling up the California coast was gorgeous and reminded me of why I love California so much; the extreme contrasts of hilly terrain set against crystal blue ocean makes for a stunning vista.
Yet, it also reiterated just how expensive sunny California is, especially in towns nearer the coast. Our first night was a planned stay in Paso Robles, a city we’re thinking about possibly moving to in the future (however, moving to a new city definitely means visiting that city multiple times during different seasons – it was HOT!). The hotel was affordable and comfortable; exactly what we expected.
Our second night wasn’t planned. We decided to be spontaneous and drive further south after visiting the Hearst Castle in San Simeon to find a room. Our poor planning for a Saturday night stay led to our frugal mistake. We ended up in San Luis Obispo (SLO), a quaint college town with lots of walkable areas. I loved the feel of the city, the 25-cent trolley, and how close all the restaurants were in the downtown area. However, our first stop at a Comfort Inn reminded me that SLO is NOT very affordable. We were quoted $300 for that Saturday night; a price that wasn’t a comfortable fit within our budget.
Since the street we were on was full of hotels, Mr. LH hoofed it further up the road and was quoted a more affordable $125 for a mom and pop style motel. Let me just say that the quote, “You get what you pay for,” couldn’t have been any more true. For our $120 after AAA discount and taxes, our room was bordering on slummy at best.
The room was filthy; the furniture had sticky goop all over it and blackened finger prints. The walls looked like they hadn’t been repainted in over 10 years. Half the lights were broken or missing light bulbs. Since we were only spending one night and the sheets looked clean, we sucked it up and stayed. We were also traveling with another couple and their room was quite a bit more acceptable, which was another reason we didn’t want to cause a scene and find another place.
Mr. LH and I realized that in our haste due to poor planning and our frugal tendencies we ended up choosing a dud of a hotel. Had we traveled a bit further up the street, and maybe spent an additional $20-$40 bucks more, we could have had a more pleasant stay.
I’d love to spend more time in San Luis Obispo in the future, but I won’t make the same mistake again. Next time, I’m booking my hotel rooms ahead of time and will find coupons!
Have you ever made a frugal mistake that was uncomfortable?