As the 4th of July approaches and it officially feels like summer, it’s easy to start wondering if you've planned enough “fun” to make it special for your family. Rest assured, you probably have. But if you’re up for something spontaneous, our editor Katie has compiled some tips from our friends at HomeAway to plan a last-minute vacation adventure!
“Nothing. My mom had a baby.”
As my kids were heading back to school last September, this conversation with their new teachers was one of my biggest fears.
And while they had camp (hated it!) and spent the weekends at the pool, the only thing memorable was their new baby brother. And he wasn’t as much fun as they thought he’d be.
So Tuesday before Labor Day, I had an idea: a last minute 3-day weekend on the beach. I found the house, convinced my husband to take our chaos on the road (the mere thought of packing for 5 gave him hives), and I started negotiating with the home owner.
But I was ill-prepared and sleep deprived. I ended up getting out-bid when I took a nap before signing the contract (rookie mistake). So this year, Care.com has actually partnered with HomeAway to help families find sitters (kid and pet!) on vacation, and they’ve shared these tips to planning something your kid talks about come September, um, I mean amazing family-memories.
Here are their 5 tips for finding a great last-minute vacation house.
- Book 1-2 weeks ahead. Usually, vacation rentals have a booking window of about 30-90 days. However, due to last minute cancellations or just a change in plans, owners will offer a discounted rate. You can use the filter “Special Deals and Offers” to see what may be available. But don’t wait until the very last minute. Aim for a week or two before you plan to travel.
- Try to negotiate. Each discounted rate or free night is at the owner’s discretion. Discounts and deals can range from specific dates being discounted to buy one night, get one free. But it never hurts to ask for a special rate, especially when you’re only one week away.
- Contact the owner with special requests. Email might be fast, but getting on the phone with someone always helps put a nice voice to a big request. Plus, owners typically want to accommodate a potential guest any way they can.
- Stay off the beaten path. Look for vacation rentals farther away from popular attractions. The farther you are from tourist attractions, the less you can expect to pay. Same goes for lesser known destinations. They can still be great vacation spots and may cost less because there’s less demand.
- Look for “Better-than-Home” amenities. Ever gone on vacation and all your kids can talk about is the ping pong table in the basement of the house you stayed in? Sometimes kids are the easiest to please, and don’t need beach access or walkability. So look for some home details that make things special: bunk beds, Foosball, a sand box, and then just focus on letting the fun happen.
No matter if you go someplace amazing, shack up at Grandmas or stay home this summer, it’s really all about the approach you take to making the season special. Have one-on-one dates with the kids, plan a luau (with grass skirts and coconut cups), eat ice cream for dinner. Because let’s face it, the best thing about summer vacation is breaking some of the day-to-day rules and routines.