My husband will be the first to tell you that I'm the brains & braun behind our family vacations.
My family grew up taking trips every summer and I knew I wanted the same for my kids -- getting out to explore the world and seeing some amazing things together!
But I'm also not the most laid-back person when it comes to family travel. I like to be uber prepared and have a good 'home base' on our trips.
When we first started traveling with kids, I knew staying in a hotel room wasn't going to work for us. Our oldest was not a heavy sleeper and would wake up (and stay up!) with the littlest noises. And my husband never got a good night's sleep when the baby was in the room.
So on our first big family trip, we decided to rent a vacation home -- and we've never looked back!
The Best Places to Stay on Vacation
If we are vacationing for 3 or more nights, we always rent a vacation home!
We've stayed in vacation homes for 7 of our last 8 vacations which have included places for just our family of four up to the big family reunion we did a few years ago with 17 family members in one very large home.
It's awesome to have more than just a one room like you would at a hotel -- vacation homes usually have multiple bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen where I can easily make meals when we don't want to eat out. Plus, it's great to have some outdoor space for the kids (hotel rooms can be pretty confining for young children).
Renting a vacation home is also less expensive than staying in a hotel. The average price per bedroom per night for a vacationrental is $72.40 compared to $120.98 for hotels (Sources: Wyndham Vacation Rentals data; Smith Travel Research U.S. data).
And since July is National Vacation Rental Month, the time of year when the more travelers enjoy vacation homes, I thought I would share our tips for finding a place to fit your family's next trip.
Here are a few things to look for in a vacation home:
A Well-Stocked Kitchen!
I love to cook when we travel! We do eat out for a few meals but our idea of vacation is not always running. So I like to know that there's a well-stocked kitchen. This is a great way to save money on your trip too -- we love to make meals at home so we have more money to spend on the fun stuff.
A few things I check on: Do they have a grill so my husband can cook out? Are there a variety of pots & pans because we love to have pasta dinners and pancakes for breakfast. And always check for the big things you use daily -- a coffee maker and toaster are MUST HAVE items on our list!
And we have been known to make-do when there's not an item available -- the importance of a well-stocked kitchen is that you are able to find a substitute item -- like our famous 'salad in a wok' which we used every night since the last home we rented had a large wok but a small salad bowl ;)
Location, Location, Privacy!
Just like buying a house, renting a vacation home is all about location! You definately don't want to be driving 30 minutes to all the sites you'd like to see.
The trick I like to use before we decide where we'll stay is to make a list of what we'd like to do in the area, tag those attractions on a map and then look for a rental home that's centrally located.
And we really love the extra privacy that vacation homes provide -- unlike staying in a hotel which can get crowded and busy, it's great to have your own 'home away from home' with just your family! Many of the vacation homes we find have amenities that you won't see at hotels -- outdoor firepits, playground areas, outdoor games to enjoy in the backyard. And best of all -- wildlife! We have enjoyed owls, deer and other animals roaming through the yard.
Enough Beds for Everyone
I know this may seem obvious but on our first vacation home rental, we didn't have enough bed space for everyone. The rental gave us details about how many people could sleep at the house but they weren't specific about where the beds were located or what type of beds (twin, queen, pull-out sleeper, etc) were in each of the rooms. So my husband & I ended up sleeping on a blow up mattress in the living room that week -- lesson learned! Now we always make sure to check that everyone will have their own bed :)
Things that Make Life Enjoyable
The key is to be sure the home you rent allows you to feel like you're on vacation!
It's the small things like having enough towels for your stay and knowing there's a dishwasher (because who wants to be doing dishes on vacation!) And I also love to have a washer/dryer available so I can do the laundry before we leave (then we only have to unpack once we're home).
At a home we rented in Colorado, we knew that we wanted lots of outdoor space so we could enjoy the wildlife and great weather -- this home with two back decks was perfect for us!
With Wyndham Vacation Rentals, you can get the added bonus of hotel-like amenities at many of its properties such as shuttle service, a concierge desk and housekeeping. It’s the best of both worlds!
Great (detailed) Reviews!
I can't tell you how priceless these are - you'll learn more about the home from reviewers who leave details about their stay. I always read the comments on rental listings to see how many people stayed at the home, their ages, what they did during their stay and if there were any issues they had at the house.
The photo I have above is a perfect example of what you can learn from reviews -- previous guests at this rental home clued us into the fact that there were two tables and eight chairs on a very long front porch where we could see the planes doing maneuvers at the Air Base each morning -- suffice it to say, we had breakfast on the front porch most days ;)
Good Communication from the Renting Company
We always have questions so it's great to have a rental company with good lines of communication. Questions like "Is there a pack 'n play and highchair available?" or "How far is the nearest grocery store?" always come up. I depend on the renting agency to provide us with the details we need so I don't overpack.
It's also important to book with a professionally managed vacation rental home company and ask if they have local maintenance/support teams available during your stay. Nothing ruins a vacation more than a broken shower that can't be fixed when you need it.
With Wyndham Vacation Rentals, you can book knowing your vacation is backed by the Vacation Rental Bill of Rights, an industry-first service pledge that lets you know they are there for you before, during and after your stay.
Wyndham Vacation Rentals is celebrating the vacation rental journey all month long with its Road to Happiness Sweepstakes! Enter now and learn how to play at Road2HappySweeps.com!
To enjoy your own vacation rental experience, visit WyndhamVacationRentals.com.
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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.