5 Steps to Reclaiming Your Stress-Free Family Vacation

It’s no secret vacations are important to families – or that they can be stressful. What is shocking, however, is 40 percent of U.S. travelers admitted to not being able to fully enjoy their vacation because of stress, according to a new survey from HomeAway.

On the other hand, according to the same survey, 78 percent of travelers wouldn’t give up their family vacation for anything – not even permanent weight loss of 20 pounds, housekeeping services for a year or dinner with their favorite celebrity.

So what’s a family to do?

Here are five ways vacation rentals can help travelers RECLAIM their family vacation, ensuring they return from their next trip more relaxed and reconnected than ever before!

- Reclaim your destination. According to research from HomeAway, choosing where to go on vacation is the number one cause of family squabbles.

In order to avoid the arguments, consider including your kids in the destination discussion early on and use sites like HomeAway.com for vacation inspiration. By browsing through the inventory, families can get new ideas for places off the beaten path, which they may not have previously considered.

Here’s a list of the most popular family vacation destinations we’re seeing on HomeAway.com for summer 2013:

  1. Ocean City, Md.
  2. Gulf Shores, Ala.
  3. Destin, Fla.
  4. Virginia Beach, Va.
  5. Bethany Beach, Del.

- Reclaim where to stay. Where you stay is just as important as where you go.

Most families automatically default to a hotel when planning their vacation. However, 80 percent of travelers agree that staying in a vacation rental helps reduce their vacation stress. That’s not surprising when you consider the amenities and features of a vacation home, which can make life easier and save you money (e.g., kitchen, washer/dryer, private pool, pet-friendly). Eating out three times per day is expensive, especially for larger families, and having the option to do laundry along the way will spare you the headache of facing a zillion loads when you get home. And, because no two rentals are alike, there’s sure to be a perfect match for every family’s styles, preferences and needs.

- Reclaim your budget. It’s always about getting more bang for your buck.

According to the HomeAway survey, the average summer family vacation costs $3,382, with $1,603 (almost 50%) spent solely on accommodations. For that much, you better be getting more than just a bed, a bathroom and a mini bar! Vacation rentals are inherently a great value, typically costing half as much as a hotel, but including twice the space. Thanks to the extra bedrooms and living areas, there’s also more flexibility to invite friends and/or other family members along and split costs. Plus, amenities like kitchens and washer/dryers, as well as free parking and Internet, spare your wallet by saving on the additional fees that tend to add up quickly at a hotel.

- Reclaim your space. While we love our families, everyone knows that too much togetherness is not always a great thing.

The best vacations strike the right balance between time and space – time together as well as time apart. Vacation rentals are ideal for this because they offer both communal areas for spending time together – playing board games in the living room or recounting the day’s adventures around the kitchen table – as well as the benefit of having your own room, and in return, the freedom to stay up and enjoy some adult time after the kids are in bed. The experience just can’t be beat, especially when you consider the alternative – cramming your family of four into one room for a week. Eeek!

- Reclaim your schedule. When staying in a hotel, you’re often forced to vacation on someone else’s schedule.

From having to wait an hour for room service when you’re starving, to just missing the pool or gym hours, to wasting time waiting for the entire family to get ready (with only one bathroom!), it’s not fun having to operate on someone else’s timeline, especially on vacation. In fact, HomeAway’s new family travel survey found that “wasting time” was one of the top causes of stress while on vacation. With vacation rentals, families have the freedom to determine their own schedules (a major plus for families with young children). Go ahead, choose for yourself when and what you’d like to eat, and hit the pool when you’re ready to swim…just maybe not one right after the other!

If you’re one of the 73 percent of travelers planning to get away with your family this summer, consider vacationing outside of the (hotel) box. With only a few vacation days per year, family trips are too precious to waste a single minute stressing over factors that can easily be eliminated by staying (in a) home!

Go on…RECLAIM your family vacation!