Joining Forces on Vacation
By Eileen Ogintz
Popular Options for Families Sharing Vacations
"We just play indoor games in the cabins," says
Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's the need to reconnect with friends and family. At beach houses and on sailboats, city condos and mountain cabins, families and friends are joining forces on vacation.
According to a new survey from TripAdvisor of people with children, nearly a third report they will vacation with another family this year to save money -- a significant jump from 2008.
"We get calls daily from family and friends who want to get together in our cabins," says
More visitors to
You do the math. Whether you are at rustic cabins or a luxurious beachfront condo house, you'll spend less when splitting costs with another family. Especially this year with rental owners -- 66 percent -- offering special deals to encourage business, according to a survey from www.homeaway.com, the leading online vacation rental website. They're throwing in everything from a free night to free cleaning service, discounts, even tickets to a local attraction or food.
No wonder families are joining forces on everything from city apartment rentals (lots cheaper than a hotel!) to road trips to tours of
When the kids were small, we met up ever summer in
But these trips are about much more than saving money. "I love that our group can get together once a year or every other year and feel like we haven't missed a beat," says
"It helps with your sanity for sure, kids seem to play better when they have other kids to play with -- the more children, the busier they keep each other," says
There are some rules to be sure. Never discipline anyone else's child, for one. That's a parent's prerogative.
"Just remember that where you are isn't as important as the place you rent."
Rates for some three-bedroom vacation homes start at just
Be clear how you are dividing the costs. In her case, each family takes a day of the week and gets groceries, cooks dinner and cleans up. Other families simply split costs. Some divide the rent based on the number of bedrooms they are using or split the cost straight down the middle. However you do it, suggests
The beauty of a vacation like this is allowing the kids to entertain themselves. A pool or the beach may be all they need. And once the kids are in bed, says Bilinsky, the grown-ups can enjoy some "adult" time. They're not stuck staring at the wall in a hotel room watching the children sleep.
There's no corralling kids in restaurants, no getting dressed to feed the hungry preschoolers in an (overpriced) hotel dining room, no worrying about a tired toddler melting down in a hotel lobby.
There's no worrying about the rain either. "With a 30-person family, we make up our own entertainment," says
That's the best kind.
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(c) 2009 EILEEN OGINTZ Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.
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