When planning your next family trip, consider staying at a vacation rental for ease and affordability.
At the beginning of October, we went to the Smoky Mountains for a long weekend at the start of fall break. A few days later, Matthew left for a 10-day trip to Jordan, so we really wanted to get some quality family time together.
We were joined by our friend Alyson (her husband couldn't make it) and their three children (remember our trip to Destin with them last year?).
Though we have been to the Smoky Mountains before, this was the first time we stayed in Gatlinburg. After doing so, we will never stay anywhere else again. We loved the area, the convenience to the mountains and the nearby family activities.
We received a media rate to rent a cabin from Elk Springs Resort and couldn't have been happier with our cabin. It had three bedrooms + a pull-out couch, a pool table, a theater room (!!!), hot tub, sauna and two jacuzzi bath tubs. It was perfect for two families.
The cabin rental community had cabins of all sizes. We loved it so much that we plan to rent there again next time we visit the Smokies.
Since both families were driving in, we were able to bring a lot of comforts from home that made vacationing with six kids easier and the trip more affordable.
7 tips for saving money while staying at a vacation rental:
Split your rental with another family: I'm always shocked how affordable it is to book a vacation rental vs. a hotel. It's even better if you share the cost with another family. Having another family also makes it so much more enjoyable for the kids and adults. It's built-in fun!
Look for coupons/discounts ahead of your trip: Inquire with your rental company if there are any options for saving on your rental ahead of your trip. When you book through a company like Elk Springs Resort, they will often have a variety of specials and discounts available. Also search on Groupon, Living Social and other coupon sites for discounts in the area you are traveling to.
Bring home essentials: From dish soap to laundry detergent, bring the essentials you use to run your home so you don't have to buy the items while on vacation. Our rental included a starter pack, but certainly not enough for our entire visit. Also, don't forget about special kitchen tools or other items that you might need. For instance, we brought a waffle maker for special breakfasts for the kids and a high chair for the babies.
Bring groceries, seasonings and other extras: Alyson and I planned a menu in advance of our vacation so we could shop our pantries before the trip. This saved our families money by not having to by unnecessary items at the grocery store when we arrived in the Smokies.
Grocery shop to fill the gaps: Rather than eating out all the time, grocery shop for things you can't bring and eat at home. Because our cabin was conveniently located in Gatlinburg, we were able to enjoy the Smokies, yet go home for meals. This made it much cheaper than eating out with six kids (including a few picky eaters), and we were able to eat healthier.
Take advantage of the benefits of your vacation rental: Typically rentals offer perks that a hotel or regular home wouldn't have. Our kids loved the home theater in our cabin and we made full-use of it. After dinner, we let the kids enjoy a movie and the adults were able to have conversation, get things cleaned up and enjoy a little quiet from the kid chaos.
Enjoy free experiences near your vacation rental: Our favorite experiences in the Smoky Mountains were enjoying the national park, which didn't cost anything.
Matthew grew up vacationing in the mountains and encouraged us to do a little exploring one afternoon and I'm so glad we listened. It was magical. I'll never forget the splashes, curiosity and simple pleasure of enjoying nature.
Our children LOVED playing in the creek along one of the mountain paths. It truly was one of the highlights of our trip – and it was free!
We also loved visiting the art's community in Gatlinburg. It doesn't cost to browse. Our kids were exposed to many different types of creativity simply by visiting shops.
I hope this encourages you to plan an affordable vacation using a vacation rental. If you are looking for a mountain escape, definitely check out Elk Springs Resort in the Smoky Mountains.
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