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Hotel Vs. Vacation Rental

Charlie cutting a rug at the wedding. (Credit Bright Owl Studios)

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Summer of Love

Last summer, my brother-in-law and his beautiful bride got married. Charlie was only about a year old and was the ring bearer for their wedding. I can’t say I didn’t warn them, but Charlie apparently does not take well to public performance and cried the whole way down the aisle. I’m pretty sure this isn’t what my sweet sister-in-law was dreaming of when she planned her wedding. But being the good sport she is, she took his crying as comic relief. God bless her!

We live about three hours north of my brother and sister-in-law, so getting a place to stay was a must. As much as it would have been fun to stay with family, we by no means, wanted to impose with last minute details certainly getting finalized. I know, from personal experience, how stressful weddings can be and staying with the bride and groom was not even an option. Even if my kindhearted sister-in-law had suggested it.

Driving Down to Portland

Portland, as I mentioned above is about a 3-hour drive south of Seattle. So, knowing we were against the clock (7:00 PM bed time), we left earlier in the day to arrive on time for the rehearsal and following dinner. Charlie was fairly well behaved for a 1-year old en route to Portland. We played fun music and chatted as much as we could to keep him happy. Now, music as a little reassurance doesn’t have to be children’s nursery rhymes, but I firmly believe you should be able to enjoy your music as well. As a side, Charlie happens to love LL Cool J and mommy’s ‘rock and roll’ mix on Amazon Prime.

Anyway, for the first half of the trip, we did the above and stopped about halfway at a rest-stop to get some food and to change his diaper. We paused for maybe 30 minutes to stretch our legs and make sure Charlie didn’t feel cooped up for a long period of time (relevant to what he’s used to.)

Finally on the road again, we made our way into the Portland metropolitan area meeting up with my brother-in-law at our hotel. Yes, that’s right, I said hotel…

Charlie and I had a great time post ring bearer performance (Credit: Bright Owl Studios)

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn

Given we were in one of the more rural suburbs of Portland, there weren’t a lot of hotel choices, unless we wanted to travel an hour to get to the wedding location. We stayed in the Wilsonville Holiday Inn, which was less than 20 minutes from the venue. I cannot complain about the Holiday Inn; in fact it was quite comfortable. The staff were great and the room was clean. Not only that but the rate was really reasonable.

But herein lies the problem…with Charlie’s bed time at 7:00 PM on the dot, what where we going to to? Go to bed with him at 7 PM? It’s not like we’re not open to shifting the bedtime, but at the age of one, Charlie was like a Swiss clock. He would fall apart at 7:01 if he wasn’t asleep. Now he’s better, but still goes to bed rather early.

It was night one and we literally had no idea what we were going to do. Our options were 1) go to bed with him at 7 PM or 2) deal with a terror. I’ll take option one at that point. So my husband literally got another (adjoining) room. So for a family of three, we had two rooms. It wasn’t that it was expensive, I mean it wasn’t the most fiscally responsible thing to do, but it was just silly. It’s for this reason we now opt for a vacation rental…

Vacation Rental

Fast forward to any future vacation, with the exception of Prague where we had a 1-bedroom hotel room, we usually use TripAdvisorBooking.com or Airbnb. Here are the benefits of staying in a vacation rental with young ones.

Related: Prague, a City I Will Never Forget (Europe 2016 Part I)

Pros:
  1. The cost is usually very reasonable and even comparable to that of a hotel. Currently we are looking for properties in Destin, FL and nightly costs are coming in around the $250/night range.
  2. You can filter your property to your liking. I.e. I usually filter for 1-2 bedrooms, WiFi, Parking, Washer/Dryer and depending on the location/season Air Conditioning. TIP I absolutely LOVE having a washer/dryer and use it every time we’re away on vacation. I can do laundry before we get home and minimize post vacation chores. Also, when your toddler has made a mess of his/her outfit, a quick wash is super helpful!
  3. You can reduce your costs by eating in vs. spending money on breakfast, lunch and dinner. We usually buy groceries when we arrive to our vacation rental property and prep for breakfast at the condo/house as well as lunch. We tend to eat dinner out, but have opted to grill too.
  4. You get more space. Maybe this goes without saying, considering you’ve got additional bedroom space, but there is definitely room to run around and play in a living/family room. Also, some properties have great outdoor semiprivate or private spaces. Again, in reference to our upcoming trip to Destin, we’re looking at properties with a fenced yard to accommodate my parent’s dog and a safe outdoor place for Charlie to run around. What could be better?
  5. I find that vacation rentals are a bit quieter than hotels. This is great for naps and bedtime.
Things to consider:
  1. You don’t have the daily room service, but you can (sometimes) pay for a mid-stay cleaning service to spruce things up and change out towels.
  2. Depending on how much you like to cook, this may not feel as much as a relaxing option. That said, there’s nothing stopping you from eating out!
  3. You have to coordinate your check-in, in order to get the keys. I’ve never had an issue, and many places use a property management company. But many times I’ve been met at the vacation rental property by the owner/property manager. This is actually kind of great because you get a little tour and run-down of how things work on the property.
Mastering his duty as ring bearer. (Credit: Bright Owl Studios)

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a little less stress when traveling with your kiddos, then I would vote for the vacation rental. This gives parents/guardians a chance to have some alone time once the kiddo(s) are down. I know I’m not alone when I say, even though I love my son more than anything, the reprieve I get during naps and bedtime helps me reset and actually be a better parent. Especially during these terrible twos!

Happy planning!

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