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Each year my cousins and I have been trying to do a big family trip each summer in order for our children to stay connected to each other (as well as just all have fun as adults). As I’m sure you can imagine, it isn’t always easy coordinating schedules, budgets, and desires for multiple busy families, but we have succeeded for a couple years running now and hope to do it more in the future. While I am a hotel points girl by nature as I can leverage promotions and credit cards to get almost free nights, but when taking big family trips hotel rooms are really not the ideal housing situation. Not only will you have limited space, but the ability to just relax and hang out with each other informally is very greatly diminished when you are all in your own rooms with no common area. So, we have found that renting a whole house to be a more economical and enjoyable option for these kind of trips.
I have written about our previous experiences using renting houses here and here, but I wanted to share our most recent experience that happened over the summer in the hills of North Carolina about 30 minutes out of Asheville (here is a link to the house in case you are interested). We often do some searches on sites like Vacation Rental by Owner, but sometimes we end up finding a house that isn’t listed on that site.
In this case, we were able to rent a five bedroom house for a full week in the summer for a total of about $2,200. This was being split by multiple families, so came in at a little less than $100 per night per family for not just a standard hotel room, but a beautiful whole house! It always pays to try and negotiate with the owners to see if there is wiggle room on the rates, especially if you are renting in an off-season or are making a last-minute rental when the house may otherwise go unused.
The key to having a whole house with young children is having common areas to just hang out without having to only see each other out on excursions. Additionally, it allows the adults to hang out together after the little ones go to bed. These relaxing times in the house are often where the best part of the vacation typically happen, so we were thrilled that this house had not only a good living room, but also a kitchen and gorgeous back porch!
We all took turns buying groceries and preparing meals, so we were spending much less on food than if we were eating out every meal. It was also obviously so much simpler with lots of little kids to eat at home rather than try to keep everyone happy in a restaurant!
This tub was perfect for dunking all the kids in for bath/swim time!
This was the living area and small kitchen over the garage. IT worked very well to have a little extra space for some of the families to spread out and have some quiet time away from the craziness of the main house.
What I have found from doing a few of these type of trips with both sides of my family is that the destination is really secondary. It just about doesn’t matter where you go, because that is not what it is about. It is about just hanging out and playing together (bonus points if that is done in a pretty nice house). You can pretty much count on a few hiccups as putting that many people in close quarters for several days is always going to reveal some differences and quirks, but seeing the kids play together makes any little hiccup more than worth it in my view.
While we were in the Asheville area, we made sure to get out of the house and do a few things such as the Friday night drum circle in downtown Asheville (so fun),
Because of geographic distance, these little ones would not ever get to interact like this if it wasn’t for the families putting the time and effort into making it happen. Trips exploring the world can be amazing, but trips that allow you to be with friends or family can be even more memorable and important.
If you are renting a house via a company that rents out multiple houses it may charge as a travel expense, but otherwise just use a credit card that earns you the points you value the most since it likely won’t charge as travel. In my experience some don’t charge extra for using a credit card, but some either only take a check, or charge extra if you pay via credit card or PayPal, so just keep that in mind. Ahem, BlueBird….
Either way, we have found renting houses to be the way to go when traveling with larger numbers of people. Does your family have a similar strategy on big trips? I’d love to hear your experiences renting whole houses instead of a hotel room!