Hotel Room Too Small? Just Rent a Whole House!

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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.


20131104-151036.jpgThe 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!

20131104-151122.jpgWe 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!

20131104-151150.jpgThis particular rental had three bedrooms and two bathrooms in the main house, and then had two additional bedrooms and an additional bedroom over the garage.


This tub was perfect for dunking all the kids in for bath/swim time!


20131104-151413.jpgWe loved that there was a kid’s room!  Though of course my little munchkin refused to sleep in the kid’s room!  Maybe next year…

20131104-151442.jpgThis 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.


20131104-151635.jpgThe highlight of the house had to be the back porch that was perfect for sitting in a rocking chair with a glass of wine, or just letting the kids go crazy and play!

20131104-151720.jpgIt was also a great spot for meals – can you imagine the chaos this group would cause if we tried to eat every meal in a restaurant?

20131104-151813.jpgWhat 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),

20131104-161003.jpgthe Western North Carolina Nature Center,

20131104-161040.jpgand enjoying a scenic drive, picnic, and look at waterfalls!


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!

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  1. We’ve done just the same – we rented a house in Colorado for Ski Season. The rates you see online are definitely negotiable, but I strongly recommend ensuring that the company you’re securing the rental agreement through is licensed and bonded so you have a better assurance that nothing goes wrong. We all took turns cooking dinner and lunch was pretty much sandwiches (cheap, easy, customizable), keeping food costs down. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

  2. Starting next year, Homeaway is partnering with expedia so there may be a double dip opportunity there.

    Also, Upromise has an 8% return on Homeaway purchases. Never booked through them yet, but it may work.

  3. I don’t yet have a family but I find a house is almost always better than a hotel with more than 6+ people. I value having a nice living room to hang out in more than a fancy bedroom in a Grand Hyatt/Ritz/IC when traveling with a group. Especially in expensive cities, the cost savings of making one or two meals in per weekend can often cover the difference between a “free” hotel stay and paying cash for a rental house.

  4. Mike, I hope to do this with our family during ski season soon!
    Nathan, interesting to know!
    Dan, I agree it is great when traveling with larger groups, whether they are family or friends.

  5. This summer we rented a house in Carlsbad CA, two blocks from the beach and 5 minutes away from Legoland. We shared the home with my brother in law and sister in law and their daughter. It was a perfect getaway for the 7 of us. The house was on the smaller side, but the backyard was double the size of the house complete with a pool and waterfall/grotto/hot tub, fire pit, ping pong. It was perfect fit for our family. There was no way spending a week in a hotel near the beach would have given us the same value or the same experience.

  6. Looks like you had a great time. Multiple family getaways like this have been part of our group for years. Should be exciting in the next few years because we’ll all be coming from different parts of the country.

    Have a great week. Nice to see positive vibes emanating from the blogger space.

    What’s next?

    Breaking news. Miley Cyrus unveils for the first time her direct relationship to Albert Einstein and enrolls at Cal Tech.

  7. I have no idea why anyone would stay in a hotel in Florida, even when the rooms are free, when traveling with a group. Worth it for the savings on food alone, plus both houses had private backyard pools that the kids could be in during downtimes. I don’t know how we would have entertained kids in hotel rooms during those times — they’ll only watch so much TV!

  8. Yes! We stayed at a rental house near Colorado Springs this past summer. It was a cute cabin with two great decks. We had my family over for two nights and just hung out. We saved so much money on food since we cooked two meals a day at the house, and the kids had more room to spread out.

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