Travel Tips

Tips for Buying Trips at Auctions

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The place: Silent auctions

The drink: Whatever you want. In moderation. See #3.

We purchased a stay at this modern home on Lake Rabun, which came with the best-equipped kitchen I’ve ever seen in a second home (16 steak knives and a microplane!), loads of plush fluffy towels and even a coonskin hat.

The first trip I bought through an auction at a fundraiser was for a bed and breakfast in Toccoa, GA. Not exactly a hot spot destination, but I was a stay-at-home mom with young kids. I would have bid on a Motel Six in Donkey Bend, Kentucky.

Since then I’ve bought several getaways at silent auctions and have found them to be a rewarding and often more affordable way to travel. Another advantage is that you often get to stay in homes not normally available.

Just recently we stayed in a large elegant modern three-bedroom home at Lake Rabun, GA that we purchased at an auction for Actor’s Express last spring. Although our winning bid was for a two-night stay, the generous owner called us the week we were going and offered it to us for two nights more as no one was going to be using his home. We invited several friends up and had a wonderful weekend hiking, hanging out at the lake and eating wonderful meals on the screened-in porch.

This designer-built and decorated home is not rented out, and just touring the home felt like a prize in itself. The cost? Less than one night at a nearby inn for just one room.

Next weekend we’re spending three nights in a rustic mountain home in North Carolina, also purchased at the same auction. Again, the cost is less than the cost for one night for similar accommodations elsewhere.

Here are a few tips for purchasing trips at your next silent auction.

  1. Scout out auction items you are interested in and consider the timeframes they are available and the cost to get there. For example, a two-bedroom condo in Jackson Hole sounds idyllic. But if it expires in a few months and you know your schedule won’t allow you to get away or airfares are higher than you want to pay, pass on this one.
  2. Decide ahead of time how much you are willing to pay. Hey, we’ve all been caught up in the competitive fever fueled by the fun of auctions. I may or may not have been known to hover in front of the clipboard with a sharpened pencil raised in a threatening manner to anyone approaching my three-night stay in Highlands. Or increasing the bid because I was determined not to let the redhead in the high heels win it.
  3. Stay sober! We all know why drinks flow freely at silent auctions. I have a friend who got a call one day congratulating her on purchasing a week at a ski lodge in Utah. She doesn’t ski. She doesn’t like snow.

But remember, the money raised for these auctions goes to good causes and the trips have been donated by generous people. It’s not all about getting a great deal. It’s about enjoying a getaway to a new place and supporting a good cause. And fending off all those who dare to approach your intended getaway. Especially if she had been flirting with your husband at the dessert table.

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