I don’t think it matters how many times one tells you that time flies, you really never believe it until it happens to you. It doesn’t seem possible that all of our children have grown up and are no longer under our care, or living in our home.
When that day came for us, and each of our three children it was harder than I thought, it left with a gaping hole in my heart.
Time continued to fly, and before we knew it, more years passed since we had last all been together for any length of time. When Trent, one of our twins, signed up for a second tour in Okinawa Japan, I knew it was time to plan a family vacation.
Logistics were complicated everyone was scattered, with different jobs, and financial and time constraints. I was so excited but there was a lot of planning to do.
There were a lot of components to consider to make this a vacation that everyone would be able to enjoy. Winter in our area can be cold and drag on for what seems like forever, so we decided that January would be a good time to escape the cold and snow.
Next component: location, location, location.
Our first choice, was to go to Okinawa, Japan. After all that is where our youngest, Trent was stationed, and I would have loved to see and smell the cherry blossoms but cost was a factor, language barrier, lodgings…
We went through a number of different ideas for location, but in the end the solution just sort of fell in our lap and worked for everyone. Our daughter in law mentioned that she would actually be in the Florida Keys for her work the week prior to the scheduled vacation dates! I had never been to Florida, it is warm, affordable, and would work for everyone.
The next biggest decision lodging. I didn’t want to go with a cheap motel, so that left hotels, which not only can get very pricey per night, and that would be x 3 since most hotels have rules about how many people can be in a room.
I researched a lot about rentals and initially was really nervous about them. I had a lot of questions, so I did some research and was surprised to see that per night costs were comparable to a hotel room. Sites like Airbnb and Booking.com provided pictures and descriptions of the number of rooms, beds and how many a house could sleep.
Our vacation was not just about getting out and doing things, but we also wanted to be able to relax and not be on any type of schedule so we needed to be able to relax in our space, just like we would at home.
Hotel: A decent hotel room offers you one large room with beds, a very small sitting area, restroom, and maybe a bar type area.
House: The house that we chose offered a large spacious living area, dining room, kitchen, laundry room, 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms. In addition to the house, there was a small two bedroom cottage that boasted a small living room, eat-in kitchen, two bedrooms with queen beds, and a bathroom. Outside was a patio area for barbecuing with a large patio table and chairs.
Hotel: I’ve never been in a hotel room with two bathrooms, so one bathroom per room. That is actually sufficient if you are paying for three rooms, but then you take into consideration the cost per bedroom.
House: The house we chose had two bathrooms in the large house, and another bathroom in the cottage.
This was probably the biggest and most complex of the assessments that I considered. First, I want to point out that there are A LOT of homes to choose from, with a variety of price ranges, so while I feel that ours was on the high end, for our budget, we could have still gone with a nice house for less.
Hotel: As I mentioned earlier this was not a frugal vacation, so if we were going to go with a hotel I wanted it to be a nice one, so the prices that I researched were going to range from $100-$150 a night for three rooms. Most hotels have a limit on how many people can be in a room. In the old days, families would squeeze as many people as they could into one room, but that is no longer allowed, and that is not something that I wanted to do anyway.
House: The house + cottage that we rented cost us approximately $446.00 a night. The house could have easily slept 12 people with a sleeper in the couch, a bedroom with a full bed + pull out trunk bed, the second bedroom another full bed, and the master bedroom a king size bed. The cottage boasted two queen size beds and another couch where someone could have slept.
Hotel: If you’re lucky you may get a hotel that offers breakfast, but you are often limited to the times you can go down for breakfast, so no sleeping in if you want a free breakfast. In the room, you may have a small fridge and microwave, but the selection of food will be limited.
House: The house came with a kitchen, that was stocked with basic seasonings for cooking, a large refrigerator, cooking utensils, plates, silverware cups etc…. We bought breakfast items, so we could eat breakfast at our leisure. The house allowed us to bring dinner home, to store and eat leftovers for later another savings.