RISMEDIA, Nov. 18, 2008-The holidays are just around the corner, and that means taking advantage of all of the highlights of the holiday season-delicious food, fun parties, fellowship with family and friends, and leaving the comfort of your own home to cram everyone into a couple of spare bedrooms in a relative’s house.
Wait…that last one isn’t exactly filling you with holiday joy! Going over the hills and through the woods to Grandma’s house (or Aunt Jane’s, or Mom and Dad’s) may have seemed fun when you were younger, but now that you’ve got your own family in tow it’s lost much of its appeal. But since staying at a hotel doesn’t sound too festive, you’re not sure what else to do. Christine Karpinski’s answer? There’s no place like home-a rental home, that is!
“Staying with relatives during the holidays can be a huge drag,” says Karpinski, author of How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner, 2nd Edition: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment (Kinney Pollack Press, 2007, ISBN: 0-9748249-9-2, $26.00).
“After you pack up all of your stuff-and there always seems to be more during the holidays-it goes downhill from there. You get to your relative’s house and instead of making a beeline for the restroom and a much-needed catnap, you must endure a protracted ‘greeting and catching up’ time. Then, you spend the next few days piled on top of everyone as you help prepare meals and try to keep the kids entertained and out of the way. Bedtime is dictated by when everyone else wants to retire, and let’s face it, you won’t get a good night’s sleep with insomniac Uncle Joe wandering through the house.”
Yes, Karpinski paints a bleak picture, indeed! And it’s true: no matter how much you love your extended family, they can be hard to take in huge doses. (And make no mistake: they probably feel the same way about yours.) The good news is that renting a vacation home will change your holiday experience completely. You’ll be able to appreciate that time with your family a thousand times more if you don’t have to stay with them.
Of course, stress reduction isn’t the only reason to stay in a vacation home during the holidays. Karpinski says there are many, many other reasons to choose vacation rentals over shacking up with relatives. Here are just a few:
Making a holiday trip feel like a mini-vacation is easier than you think. More and more people are realizing their dream of owning a second home-and renting it out when they’re not using it. That’s good news for holiday travelers like you. In fact, there’s a vacation home within a two-hour drive of most metropolitan areas in the U.S. So no matter where Grandma lives it’s likely that you can find a vacation rental home close by her house. And by visiting respectable websites-such as HomeAway.com or its affiliates VRBO.com, CyberRentals.com, GreatRentals.com, or Holiday-Rentals.co.uk-you can find the one that’s right for you.
“Many wonderful properties are listed on websites such as these,” says Karpinski. “And if the biggest benefit of staying with a relative is that it’s free for you, not to worry. You can find vacation rentals for as cheap as $400 a week. My point is this: you can find exactly what you need for your holiday trip no matter where you’re going. You’ll love having peace and quiet with your own family in your own space whenever you need some time away from the relatives.”
Rental homes have more space for you. Up until now, maybe you’ve been able to convince yourself that when you get to your relative’s house and start settling in there will be plenty of room for you, your spouse, the kids, and all of your stuff. But you know it never works out that way. Sure, it’s someone’s home, but that doesn’t mean there is going to be enough room for you and your family to spend the holiday comfortably.
Consider the difference between piling your family into two extra bedrooms and having a whole house to spread out in-where the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, living and dining areas are all yours.
“It’s one thing to stay at a relative’s house during a normal time of the year,” says Karpinski. “Throw in all of the activity that goes into preparing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, and after everything is said and done, you’re so exhausted you feel like you haven’t really been able to enjoy the holidays. Stay in a vacation rental and you’ll have a safe haven to go to when it all gets to be too much.”
They feel more like home than a hotel. If you tired of staying with family members during the holidays a while ago and have been opting to stay in a hotel, you’ll feel more at home and enjoy the holidays more in a vacation rental home. Aside from the fact that you’ll have more room, you’ll have the amenities you need to make your holiday special.
“Hotel rooms can seem sterile and devoid of holiday cheer even if you put up a few decorations to try to wrangle in some holiday spirit,” says Karpinski. “In a rental home, you can fill the house with the aroma of baking bread or pumpkin pie as you prepare your dish for the holiday meal. You can put up a few decorations from home. You can cozy up by the fireplace after a long day of family celebration, and you can avoid that conversation with the kids where you have to explain how exactly Santa Claus is going to find them on the ninth floor of the Holiday Inn.”
It’s better for your kids. If all of that holiday stimulation exhausts an adult, just think about the toll it takes on your kids. They might be able to handle running around with cousins, greeting relatives they see a couple of times a year, and getting smothered by Grandma’s hugs and kisses for a little while, but after a day or two, they will get tired and cranky. Or they’ll get bored and start asking you every ten minutes what they can do.
Neither brings any joy to the occasion-for you or for your hosts. In fact, typical kid behavior can be interpreted as “misbehavior” by relatives who’ve forgotten what children are like, leading to resentment and/or hurt feelings on both sides.
“At a vacation rental, your kids won’t have to be thrown into the hectic holiday activities from the minute they wake up until the minute they go to bed as they would be at a relative’s house,” says Karpinski. “They can get up, watch the holiday parade, and enjoy a peaceful breakfast. And then after the day’s celebrations are over, you can take them back to your vacation rental to let them-and you-unwind with a DVD, board game, card game, or other family-friendly diversion. Having the ability to take them out of that chaotic environment will be a holiday blessing you’ll cherish.”
You might even be able to bring Fido or Fluffy. Finding a kennel to take your pets over the holidays can be a huge hassle. If you don’t plan to do it weeks or even months ahead, you’re usually in big trouble.
“Many vacation property owners will accept pets, which saves you the kennel headache and ensures that the entire family (furry members and all!) can spend the holidays together,” says Karpinski. “You’ll also end up saving hundreds of dollars on boarding costs. Just make sure the person you’re renting from gives you the go-ahead.”
You can create a new holiday vacation for your entire family. Tired of doing the same old thing every holiday? This year, think about breaking away from your family’s lackluster traditions and starting a new one. Have your whole family relocate for the holidays to a vacation rental and make it a real vacation for everyone.
Because there will be a kitchen, Grandma can still cook up her world-famous turkey, the kids can spend their time running around on the beach or skiing the slopes (depending on where you end up!), and everyone can actually enjoy the time they are spending together without all of that holiday stress. “There are so many options available-you can take a risk and rent a huge home that will fit the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and all or you can rent a couple of homes so the families can split up,” says Karpinski. “Either way you’ll always remember the holiday the whole family spent a little quality vacation time together.”
“When you’re relaxing in a comfortable home during the holidays, rather than trying to stay out of everyone’s way at Aunt Bertha’s, you’ll be glad you made the choice to find a rental,” says Karpinski. “You’ll be less stressed, the kids will be happier, and chances are you won’t be the only ones glad to be out of your relatives’ hair. Your relatives will probably be happy not to have a house full of out-of-towners getting in the way of their holiday preparations as well. So, start looking for your perfect rental home now-the holidays are just around the corner!”
About Christine Karpinski:
Christine Karpinski is the author of How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment and Profit from Your Vacation Home Dream: The Complete Guide to a Savvy Financial and Emotional Investment. Her books, combined with her seminars, media appearances, and Web site (HowToRentByOwner.com), have helped thousands of people purchase and manage their vacation homes.