I love hotels. I really do. But when I have a big group and I can make it work, there’s nothing like staying in a vacation home. Any time we have more than two couples, I try to make it work to rent a house because there’s a feeling of luxuriousness to having an entire home to yourself, and at least relative to full-price hotels, you can often save money.
On our recent trip to Orlando, we stayed in an incredible home from All Star Vacation Homes, and from the moment we first entered the code and swung the front door open, we had a heaven all to ourselves.
In fact, we bagged our plans for an entire day of activities once we saw what a palace we were staying in. We felt like there was so much to do and discover there, that it didn’t make sense to run off and leave the place so soon.
It was so spacious, it could easily have accomodated three families. Between the pool, computer, billiards table, theater room, and the Pac-man arcade game, there was enough to keep the kids busy cycling from one activity to the next for hours. Nicole and I turned on the speakers by the pool and lounged in the sun. There was no place else in the world we would have rather been relaxing.
Having a vacation home where you can cook your own food equates to huge savings when it comes to meal expenses. We went shopping and basically covered all of our meals for four days (including bringing food into the theme parks) for under $100. Not bad for a family of six.
Gone was the constant worry of our rambunctious kids waking others in neighboring hotel rooms, and importantly, Nicole and I were able to actually have some space to ourselves. Normally we say that taking the kids on a trip is an “experience,” while traveling as a couple is a “vacation,” but there were moments while our kids were peacefully sleeping in the other rooms that we felt like we were all alone – and it’s hard to put a price on that when your days are filled with kid-catering.
We’ve rented vacation homes in Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Italy, Montana, Idaho, Florida, Nevada, California, and I’m sure in other places I’m not recalling. Our experience has always been fantastic, but I will say that when it comes to service and attention to detail, All Star Vacation Homes is in a class all by themselves. Within hours of checking in, we receieved a phone call welcoming us and inquiring if there was any way they could help accomodate us. The booking process was as smooth as I’ve ever seen, with perfect directions and recommendations on ways to make the trip better and more efficient.
They’ve widened their scope of vacation homes they manage to include San Diego, Captiva and Sanibel Islands in Florida, and just two hours from my house – Sun Valley, Idaho.
If you’re ever looking to take multiple families on vacation together, a vacation home is the way to do it. And if you’re going to Orlando or one of these other places, you need to see what kind of deals you could work with All Star Vacation Homes. They run promotions periodically, and right now you can get a free rental car from Enterprise when you book a home for 7 nights.
Now we’d hate to tempt you with an awesome idea like this and then leave you flightless, so we’ll end with some inspiration about how you might be able to get your family to a home like this for a fraction of what you might otherwise pay.
Generally you’d expect to pay at least $500/ticket to get to a destination like Orlando, so for a family of five, you might be looking at $2500 – not exactly a bargain and not something you could do every year. But slice that total down to less than $1000 by being smart about using frequent flyer miles and you’ll really be onto something.
Our favorite airline travel rewards credit card offering right now is the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®. It’s our favorite because it combines a bonus of 40k in US Airways miles after your first purchase (enough to fly two for free within the US), with a companion pass that will allow you to add up to two companions for $99 each (plus taxes) to a domestic flight. So book a flight for that $500 and add two more for around $150 each and you’re looking at less than $800 to book five people to Orlando.
This post gives greater detail on the offer and why we like it so much. The important part is that you make it a point to start traveling and do it the cheap but luxurious way. Stick with us and you’ll be doing exactly that.
Thanks for wanderlusting with us for more than three years now.