Sometimes, saving money has a price. Like the time I decided a roadside motel outside Sedona, Arizona would be OK for me and my 4- and 2-year-olds. Or the time I decided $300 was too expensive for two handmade wooden chairs in Belize, only to spend the next 10 years thinking about how great they would have looked on my back porch.

I should have learned my you-get-what-you-pay-for lesson in Jamaica. Two girlfriends and I went, and since we were all single at the time, we decided to cheap-out and stay at a two-star hotel, reasoning, “we’re not going to be in the room much anyway.”

Bad idea.

Because cabs were expensive and hard to come by. The hotel’s beach, its restaurant, and its bar were two-star as well (one star for the free-flowing rum, one star for the fact that it had electricity). We also learned, at least in Jamaica, you don’t just walk into the five-star resorts and think you can hang out at their pool and beach all day.

Had we looked on a Web site like, we’d have found a place that was only slightly more expensive (especially when you’re dividing by 3) and had things we wanted.

For example, we wouldn’t have been harassed every 10 seconds to buy a silver ring or a wooden figurine if we’d have stayed at the Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay for only $205 night, which has a private beach. Plus, we could have swam with the dolphins in the hotel’s private dolphin cove, or rode horses from their stable along the beach.

And we wouldn’t have had to take a cheesy sunset cruise where they practically forced us to drink disgusting rum punch if we’d gone to a mega-resort like the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach, where, for $229 a night, we could have had premium liquor available to us. Not to mention any other thing our heart desired.

For a few extra bucks, we could have avoided sandy bedding and floors and crashed in a super-clean room, like at the Round Hill Hotel & Villas.

Of course, a place like the Ritz Carlton Spa and Golf Resort, for only $169 a night, would have offered a relaxing massage to help stop ringing reggae music in our ears, from the night before. Yah mahn!

Yes, next time … it’ll be different. We’re going to do Jamaica the right way.

This is a TravelingMom dedicated post.