Why You Should Rent a Condo on Your Next Family Vacation

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There are a multitude of benefits to rending a condo on your next family vacation, especially if you have more than two children.

Why You Should Rent a Condo on Your Next Family Vacation

Once upon a time you could squeeze a family with three or four children in a hotel room and it worked out great for a family vacation. I remember. Once upon a time we did just that. The hotel was fine with it since the room actually had enough square footage to legally accommodate us. The children were small. It was the off-season.

When our family member count reached eight, however, we realized that one hotel room would not work, no matter how what wide angle lens you used in your mind. Friends with three children tell me that they are hitting trouble spots with hotels more and more often. The four-person occupancy rules are getting stricter.

Whether this is because hotels have wisened up and know that they can increase their profits by requiring a second room rental or if that’s just the way it is regarding fire codes, I do not know.

Why You Should Rent a Condo on Your Next Family Vacation

I do know that I am loathe to stay in a hotel with our big family. We’ve tried to go the two rooms with a door in the middle route, but you’d be surprised how tricky this can be. The hotel won’t guarantee that you can get those two rooms. The hotel may confuse adjoining rooms (next door to each other) with connecting rooms (with a door that, well, connects).

We’ve found our family split in two: one parent plus some kids in one room; one parent plus the other kids in another room. Honestly, it doesn’t make the vacation very much fun.

What we’ve discovered is the beauty of the condo rental.

Why You Should Rent a Condo on Your Next Family Vacation

By renting a three-bedroom condo, we find ourselves with a lot of benefits for our family vacation.

1. It feels homey.

Typically, these condos have a kitchen, dining and living areas, as well as bedrooms and bathrooms. This means that our family can spread out and relax without feeling cramped in one or two rooms.

No one fights over the bathroom since there’s usually more than one. We’ve got easy access to laundry facilities. The kids have the novelty of choosing their own rooms.

2. We can cook.

We save a ton of money by cooking our own meals. Sure, you can do some clever hotel room cooking, but it gets cluttered and cumbersome without a real refrigerator.

By renting a condo, we insure that we can buy groceries at a good price and cook our own meals. I often bring freezer meals so I don’t really have to cook at all.

While we love to eat out, it’s a little difficult to do when you’re in a strange locale. You may pay a pretty penny for a meal that’s not all that great. If I cook our meals or bring them from home, I know that we can feast like kings for a fraction of the price we might spend eating out.

If you’ve got food allergies, then you’ll definitely love this perk. Read Anne’s post about how taking food on the road with them ensured good — and safe — eating for their family.

Why You Should Rent a Condo on Your Next Family Vacation

3. Parent time is easier to swing.

When we stay in a hotel, we’re all together — or hubs and I are completely separated while we chaperone children in separate rooms. This isn’t a “vacation” for us. We want to have down time alone.

By renting a condo, we make that a little easier to achieve. We have our own room. The kids have their own rooms. We can split ways for an evening with the kids watching a movie and the parents drinking wine on the balcony.

Short of paying a strange babysitter in a strange hotel, we can’t do the same thing at a hotel. A condo allows for us parents to connect in a special way which is a great bonus since we’re finally away from home and a bit off the grid.

4. The price is about the same!

One would think that a condo rental would an exorbitant amount of money. This hasn’t been the case for us. We’ve paid $100 to $200 per hotel room and $250 to $350 for a three-bedroom condo. Obviously, the locale and season matters, but we’ve found that going for the condo gets us a bigger bang for our buck.

Next year when we take the kids to England and France, we plan to rent apartments wherever we go. With a large family such as ours, we figure it’s probably the only way to travel.

Why You Should Rent a Condo on Your Next Family Vacation

Where to stay

Typically, we’ve found three-bedroom condos for rent at resorts. These establishments typically offer a time-share or full-share purchase. For members who don’t use all their “time” or owners who want to maximize their investment, they offer a service of renting out those units to the rest of us.

We’ve stayed in three such resorts over the last few years and found the experience to be stellar. Housekeeping and resort amenities are included in our stay.

We’ve also done the house or cabin rental. One time, before kids, we found ourselves in a luxury vacation home in Cambria. It was a fun, amazing weekend with three other couples. Another time, we rented a cabin in Shaver Lake that turned out to be a giant Mouse Hole. The cabin was outdated and unkempt. And the mouse poison under the beds didn’t sit well with this mama of small children.

Your mileage may vary — obviously — when renting a smaller one-family dwelling. It can be great. Or not.

Plus, in a vacation rental, whether from a rental agency or the owner, you will have to pay a cleaning fee or do the cleaning yourselves. The latter can be a little stressful to pull off before checkout.

Certainly, there are pros and cons to both the resort and private home scenarios. At the resort you have access to a pool, vending machines, ice machines, and all the amenities of a hotel. You also have lots of other people. In a private home, you have privacy, but you may not have easy access to “fun stuff”. Additionally, you might not have a manager to complain to if something’s amiss.

What’s been YOUR experience on vacation?

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  1. As a family of five, the only way we travel is renting a house/condo. We just returned from the Outer Banks in a beautiful rented home. My reasons for renting a house/condo are:
    1. Space (kids get their room and parents get theirs). Its our vacation too and I am going to enjoy the privacy.
    2. Kitchen – we eat all breakfasts and lunches at the condo/house. When we have a house we normally grill out most nights so that we do not have to force the kids to get cleaned up and ready to go to dinner. They would much rather stay in the pool or at the beach.
    3. Laundry – sounds odd, but I LOVE a washer/dryer while on vacation. Nothing is better to me than packing clean clothes for home. A huge stack of laundry when I get home, does not excite me at all. I like to just put away all the clean clothes. Plus with small kids, you never know what accidents will happen!
    4. Bedtimes – we can keep separate bedtimes and not all have to go to bed at 8 because the baby is tired. We can enjoy a movie with our older ones while the baby sleeps.
    5. Bathrooms – more than one, enough said!
    We always use Homeaway.com or VRBO.com and have success year after year!

    1. Have you ever had a bad house through those sites? I’m kinda scared to have the Mouse House again.

  2. Renting a condo has been the only way we could go to Hawaii twice with little kids and grandparents. With the right location, it is less expensive in a few ways – most owners give one night free with every 7 days you stay and we were able to cook our own meals. The owners provided swim towels and beach toys, and a cooler for our own drinks, snacks and lunches. We have even had housekeeping services (included by the owners) for clean linens and cleaning sand off the floors and out of the showers. With laundry machines in the condo, we packed less clothing than we needed (and saved on the extra baggage fees). No, it’s not fun doing dishes and laundry, but it kept our meal budget intact allowing us to have vacation fun, and no one had to come home to do a mountain of dirty vacation laundry – it was clean and ready to be put away. The only downside for us was that it felt like home away from home, and it was super sad to return home. 🙂

  3. We’ve rented a house with a pool, and a house on the beach, and for our even-bigger family (11 of us) it works wonderful, even allowing us to splurge a bit on the food so I don’t have to be in the kitchen all the time, since that wouldn’t make it a ‘vacation’ for me.

    Biggest drawback I find is for those of us who don’t schedule a vacation in advance. We often took last-minute vacations so finding a house/condo on short-notice is more difficult than a hotel suite (we’ve been known to sneak peoples in).

  4. This is the only way we’re able to afford a vacation. We can usually find a really nice place (with pools, parks and libraries nearby) for around $100/night. Now that the baby has outgrown the crib, we don’t “fit” in a standard hotel room, and the cost of two is just too high.

    It also gives us a good “home base”, so the kids routines aren’t quite so rearranged…we can be home in the afternoon for a nap, decide to take a day and just hang out around the house, or go for a midnight swim.

    And while I’m not a fan of dishes and laundry on vacation, I’ve found that coming home to put away totes of clean clothes is much nicer than staring down a mountain of dirty stuff!

  5. Great post! We do the same! Since you cannot have more than for we always get a condo! Unless it is for military work, then we stuff into a little motel! We went out to Washington state and stayed on an island, we were on the water and we cooked for ourselves and the place we were in could sleep 9 people. Lots of room for ask and great food too! We only paid $350 for for days it was great! Motels are not for us!

  6. I have to say, we had a rental house kicking and screaming this last vacation, and although there were perks due to food allergies, I think it stinks unless a large family like yours mandates it! Because anytime I have to look at a kitchen, do dishes, etc. it ruins the vacation feeling 🙁 Just wanted to offer an alternate point of view if you don’t need the space and aren’t trying to be SUPER frugal (with food costs, I understand CAN be lower if you eat many meals in the kitchen)

    1. I think that if money was no object, I’d go for a hotel suite with meals all included. I suppose that would be a “vacation”, but that’s not my life. As it is, the housekeeping service would have loaded and unloaded the dishwasher if we didn’t, so I certainly could have gone that route. Every situation is different, though.

      1. Oh well housekeeping service would help. This one required us to take out our trash daily, didn’t make the beds or do dishes or anything! 🙁 It did have a private pool…but still. Yes, to each their own. A cruise can be cheap with meals included if you don’t do any shore excursions…maybe you’ll try that sometime?

    2. Hey, Amanda, I can relate to what you’re saying. My daughter has had multiple food allergies her whole life, 14 years. I have to say, though, that it stresses me out more to take her to unknown restaurants and chance her getting sick while we are on vacation. That would really ruin it! We rent a cabin every year, and I try to make things ahead that I know she’ll like so that I don’t have to really cook like I do at home. I do some make-ahead things for all of us, actually. Then I don’t have to do much when we are there. We went to Florida over the holidays last year, and I just really didn’t have cooking facilities at the condo where we stayed, so we kept things very basic and just made do with what we had. It wasn’t a very well-stocked kitchen at all. That just happens sometimes. We really like to make big pasta salads (both regular and gluten-free) to eat at the cabin and when we went to Florida.

  7. We have a family of six, so I’m paying attention! My kids are a little younger so we’re not as tight on space in a hotel room right now, but that’s definitely in our future. I hate to hear that hotels are so tricky, but it’s nice to know there are alternatives. So far, we’ve stayed in condos at the beach and in a few cities, but I had no idea that would be an option at a resort.

    I have a resource to share: SixSuitcaseTravel.com. It’s a website that helps you find single hotel rooms that can accomodate families of 6, 7, or 8, so that you only have to book one hotel room, not two. We’ve only used it once or twice but I have friends who swear by it!

    (Thanks for the mention!)

    1. I’ve not had a ton of luck with SST, but I will give it another try.

  8. We rent a condo at the beach once or twice a year. I love the extra room to spread out. We too bring most of our food but eat out one meal. The condo has a fireplace and a balcony and an indoor pool so everyone is happy.

    1. We actually rented a condo on the beach for our honeymoon. We paid for our own wedding, The wedding was all DIY or should I say DIM (done it myself) and we didn’t have a whole lot to put towards a honeymoon. So we went the condo route, it was nice, right on the beach and actually the same amount as a hotel. We settled in and the first stop was the grocery store. We bought bagels, lunchy type stuff and a few dinner items as well. We ended up only eating out a couple of times and it was amazing!!

      A few years and a few kids later we’ve repeated the experience by renting a house, it was only 100.00 more than a condo and it was even more roomier and even had a grill so again we chose to eat most of our meals at the rental house than out saving a bunch. I packed a bunch of foods to bring with us and we bought a few while we were out and I even brought my coupons with me. lol But it worked for us and we would definitely do it again!!