Laughter, eating pizza, playing charades, taking a hike, or even floating down a river can create incredible vacation memories that will be talked about for years. However, creating those wonderful memories shouldn’t be filled with stress or break the bank.
The best vacations start by keeping things as close to the normal routine as possible. Let’s face it, changing one’s routine can cause stress, and a family experiencing stress is not having fun. So, let the kids each have their own room, and allow the adults a little privacy. Rather than trying to stuff an entire family into one hotel room how about renting a home (house or condo) at your destination?
A home rental is a great way to keep similar routines even while on vacation, and it can be easy on the budget. Breakfast is always less expensive and easier in a home setting. Maybe eating lunch out is your daily splurge. (Restaurant lunches are usually less expensive than dinners.) Keep the evening meal simple; salads, hot dogs and hamburgers cooked on the grill, sandwiches or pizza. Clean-up will be a breeze and evenings can be spent having family fun rather than in the kitchen.
Many home rentals include such amenities as washers and driers, cable television, Internet, phone service, and private or community pools. A full kitchen is almost always included. About the only hotel amenity you will be giving up is daily maid service. The reality is, with a stay of only one or two weeks, it shouldn’t take too much time to tidy up each day. The typical requirements are that you strip the beds, put all of the linens in a designated place, and start the dishwasher on the day of your departure. The rental agency will take care of the major cleaning after you leave. (A cleaning fee is usually part of the rental agreement.)
Finding a rental
Finding home or condo rentals is much easier than you think. There are numerous sites on the Internet with information on rentals as well as reviews. A simple search for ‘vacation rentals’ should do the trick. You can also try sites such as Vacation Rentals by Owner, or HomeAway. Ask friends and family members if they have tried house or condo rentals before; a personal recommendation is always good to have. Read the reviews of the homes you are looking at on the rental sites as well as Trip Advisor. If you see the same complaint over and over, look for another home. If you see a lot of good comments with a couple of minor issues here and there, you are probably on the right track. Always try to pay using a credit (not debit) card. This will provide you with some protection in the rare instance the home you reserve turns out not to be as promised.
Where to go
Determining where to go may be the most difficult part of your planning. Your choice of destination depends on what the family wants to do during your getaway. Are theme parks your family’s idea of fun? Then Orlando might be the right place to go. If your family loves the ocean, a beach house or condo along the coast might fill the bill. Broaden your thoughts and you can expand your options. Perhaps your family enjoys theme parks, but likes to hike and bike as well. With Dollywood and the Great Smoky Mountains, you might find the Gatlinburg area to be a good fit. If your family members love the outdoors, and they want to add whitewater rafting to the hiking and biking, consider a destination such as Jackson Hole.
As a bonus, you might find that the destination you choose is within driving distance of your home. That means you don’t have to deal with the cost or hassles of air travel. Instead, that money can be used toward another memorable family activity. And really, when it’s all said and done, isn’t creating great memories what vacations are all about?