Do you have family summer traditions? I have never been big on traditions mainly because I forget to do them and then deal with the #momfailure guilt. Traditions aside, we love vacations and make them somewhat of a priority for our family. There are many things I would rather give up than a vacation. I think it's super important to spend a week together, completely unplugged from all jobs and life drama. A few years ago, we decided for our family vacation, we would rent a lake house. I'm not really sure why I decided to rent a lake house or why I was brave enough to find a house online. Ha! Luckily, it worked out.
We loved that first summer so much that when it came time to plan a vacation for the next summer, everyone wanted to go to a lake house. Now, my kids are not the outdoorsy type. It's like pulling teeth sometimes to get them out in the fresh air and unplugged from the time suck known as technology. I LOVE the fact that they love going to a lake house. They ask if I have planned where we are going to go, want to see pictures and put it on their calendars to count down. I find this very exciting considering my three teenagers want to spend time with their parents in an environment that is peaceful and slow paced. There is a HUGE opportunity for quality family time. This makes my mama heart so happy!
Each summer, our family of five goes to a different lake house in a different town on a different lake. We have yet to go back to the same lake twice. It's kinda cool to find the next new gem. I book our vacation rentals through VRBO and HOMEAWAY. I make sure I read all of the reviews and email the renters with several questions to make sure they are available and knowledgeable about their rental.
When we stay near a “Big City”, we may spend one day visiting an amusement park, aquarium or museum. Other than that, each day is spent reading, watching movies, floating or kayaking, roasting marshmallows and making smores and just laughing at each other. Nick and I have decided that even after our kids have left for college or have families of their own, this is a tradition that they will continue to participate in, just adding their families to the mix.
Really, now that my kids are 15, 17, and 19 there is no more sharing one hotel room for a week. Not. Going. To. Happen. We will end up on the news for making them sleep on the balcony for fighting or something. Ha! For the price of renting two hotel rooms for a week, I can rent a great house on the lake. This is a no-brainer to me.
Here are our a few pics from previous years.
Ready to book your lake house vaca? Here are a few tips!
- BOOK EARLY!! There are some GREAT deals out there but they go fast. Sometimes a year in advance.
- When searching one of the websites, make sure you are use the filters. Do you want four bedrooms, sleeping arrangements for ten, two bathrooms (Once I booked a rental with ONE bathroom…I thought my husband would never forgive me. Ha! Never. Again.)?
- Narrow down your location. They usually have maps on the website so you can search more specifically.
- Decide if you want to be on the waterfront or near the water. I always want to be on the waterfront. I have teenagers though and they are good swimmers. If I had small children, this may make me nervous.
- Being flexible with dates will give you more options.
- Renting for an entire week instead of three days usually gives you a much better deal. It's income security for the rental place so they often give special week pricing.
- READ the fine print. Know what the check in and out times are. They need time to clean the place before and after you so don't just assume.
- Bring only what you need. Often rentals have all the towels (including swimming), dish/laundry soap, etc.
- Scout out the location of the nearest grocery store and restaurants. You will definitely be cooking so make sure you know where you can buy your food and if you need to bring anything from home. Check out the local places to eat. Let's be honest. You are on vacation. You are going to eat out. Don't buy too many groceries because I promise, you won't use them all.
- Start a lake house collection. This may sound crazy, but if you a have family hot spot tradition, keep a bag of whatever you use each year and make sure you put it away when you return home. We have two bags in our storage closet with lake shoes for everyone, floats, fishing poles and gear, special hot dog roasters and marshmallow skewers for smores. Stuff like that!
- Bring board games and a deck of cards! It amazing me how many people don't play board games with their kids or cards. You can play traditional games such as War or shake it up and play SPOONS. So. Much. Fun.
I realize that vacations can be expensive and that many people chose not to do them because of that. With these rental sites, most rentals allow you to make payments. I have made payments on every rental we have ever picked. Plan ahead so you can make payments that work for your family. These experiences and memories made are really priceless. I think anytime your kids look forward to spending a week with just you is worth any amount. Nick and I can totally envision heading to a lake house ten years from now with our kids, their spouses and possibly grandkids. What a cool tradition to uphold and really this “tradition” is the gift of time with each other.