A few years ago my dad went to our local pub to support a charity auction. He came back with a limo rental for the night (don’t ask) and a vacation in the south of France. I don’t remember how much he paid for his vacation, but I do remember thinking he was a bargain. His flights were not included, I booked them separately through a budget airline. I did the same with the rental car. What he did win at the auction was two weeks in a fantastic villa in a remote part of southern France. It had a pool, it was close to the beach and it was very well kept because it was someone’s vacation home.
Fast forward a few years and Christmas auctions are becoming more common. I haven’t seen one at a charity auction since then (and trust me, I’ve looked everywhere), but there are quite a few websites online where people auction off a vacation home stay or timeshare. Just like my dad’s bargain, these types of auctions don’t usually include his flights. That being said though, with budget airlines springing up everywhere, flights don’t tend to cost you too much. It is also worth renting a car if you are going to stay in someone’s private apartment. They are usually a bit far from the main tourist areas.
Other websites allow you to bid on a hotel stay. Again, flights are often not included. You should be sure to read the fine print if you are going to bid on these types of auctions. Often you have to pay to place a bid, and the highest bid over a certain (undisclosed) amount will win. Before you bid, you must be absolutely sure that you want to win the auction or make sure that you are not required to pay if you win your bid. The most reputable sites will never force you to pay if you later decide you don’t want the vacation.
More recently, it has become possible to win a vacation through an auction with the lowest single bid. These are similar to regular auctions, but instead of the highest bid, the lowest bid that only one person has placed will win the auction. The reputable companies with the lowest unique offers will pay for your travel and accommodation. Again, there is a fee to enter these auctions. The fee can range from £1 to £10 and up. Be sure to set a budget if you’re going to try to win your vacation in a lowest single bid auction. Winning becomes easier the more bids you place, because the status of each bid will be reported to you so you can determine the lowest single bid. However, if you go with a company that charges £10 per bid, the cost of participation may soon increase.
If you’re thinking about going on vacation, it’s certainly worth shopping around and considering some of these more unusual ways to buy (or earn) your vacation.