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Thread: My vacation house epiphany

  1. #1
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    My vacation house epiphany

    We used to be on-site enthusiasts and would never consider staying anywhere but Disney-owned hotels, but then we had an opportunity to go for a month when we had four children ages 7 and under. Obviously, there was nothing on-site we could afford with enough space to stay sane for a month, so we got a condo at Windsor Hills and loved it. Since then, we've stayed in off-site pool homes and then on-site one more time and realized that we really prefer staying in a house off-site. We love vacation houses so much that we try to stay in them any time we vacation.

    People frequently ask my if I don't mind doing some cooking and a little bit of cleaning when we stay in a house, and I enthusiastically tell them that I don't mind it at all. The thing is that I could never figure out why it doesn't bother me. It seems like it should.

    But while staying at a vacation house at the beach a few weeks ago, it hit me. There is a big difference between doing work in a vacation house and doing work at home. When you're finished doing preparing a meal, cleaning up after the meal, and maybe doing a little laundry in a vacation home, you're DONE with your work. When you finish and sit down to relax, you don't have any chores nagging you in the back of your mind and keeping you from really relaxing. There's no closet you really should organize. There's no room that you should get up and repaint. There are no weeds in the garden that you should get up an pull.

    So if you're on the fence trying to decide if staying in a rental house or condo will really feel "vacation-y" enough, think about that part. Yes, if you want to save some money by cooking, you will have to cook (although there are all kinds of prepared foods at the grocery store to make that really easy yet still much cheaper than a restaurant). You will have to clean up after the meal. (Again, this can be made easier by disposable products, but there's still something you have to do.) But when you're done and are ready to relax by the pool or just watch a movie, you will be really, really relaxing without a care in the world. And if you're the personality type that would enjoy doing that relaxing by your very own pool instead of a hotel pool or stretched out on a couch in a big living room instead of on a hotel room bed, then a vacation house might be something you'd enjoy.

  2. #2
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    That is a really good point, thank you for sharing that. I struggle with the decision of where we will stay on our next trip now that we are a family of 6.

  3. #3
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    At WDW, there are three things one might want in vacation lodging:

    1: To be onsite.
    2: To have a reasonable amount of space.
    3: To spend a reasonable amount of money.

    For most people, and for most definitions of "reasonable," you can't have all three of these at the same time. So, you have to decide which one you are most willing to live without.

    We've never been a "hotel room" family. Ever. From our earliest days as a family, my daughter was a very light and somewhat cranky sleeper. So, we always at least went for suite-style places like a Residence Inn. Plus, we really like having a door that locks separating the adults from the kids, because this is our vacation too. Heck, even when it is just the two of us, a 1BR condo is about the smallest unit we are willing to think about, because one of us can go to bed later/get up earlier without worrying about disturbing the other. So, we are not willing to live without space.

    Our first several visits to WDW were in vacation homes. There is something very pleasant about having the pool right outside your sliding glass door, so I can mix drinks/get out the chips and salsa while my family is in the pool. We treat the kitchen more for "assembly" rather than "cooking" and it's really no trouble to throw your dishes in the dishwasher and turn it on on your way out the door to the parks. We eat breakfast in most every day just for the convenience of it all, but most other meals are out and about unless we are not up for it and want to spend the night in. Likewise, a washer/dryer in the unit is very useful. We don't have to worry about packing the right stuff, and can under-pack a bit. Like the dishes, it's no big deal to toss your clothes in the washer on the way out the door, and no one else will move them.

    After a few years, I bought a few timeshares on the secondary market at a very steep discount. Since then, we've been using those---either staying at Bonnet Creek or exchanging into DVC. The DVC exchange game has gotten a lot harder recently, but we still love Bonnet Creek as much or more than, say, OKW or SSR.

  4. #4
    Senior Member nolarookie's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of off-site vacation homes. In-unit laundry is clutch, as is a kitchen. Even though I'm on vacation, there are still things that have to happen. Clothes need to be cleaned and people need to be fed. These tasks are much easier to accomplish ina vacation home/condo.
    Brandi

  5. #5
    Senior Member kmc8826's Avatar
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    Great point! I love off site. Completely agree...I find the afternoon breaks are the same way as at night. The girls can swim in the pool and I can just sit there and read/relax (or swim too). When at home there is always SO MUCH that needs to be done.
    Kim


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    Maybe if I was forced to stay off-site, I might end up feeling the same way, but as a previous DC commuter, there's so much more to a vacation where you don't have to drive anywhere.

  7. #7
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    Having driven in both places, driving in Lake Buena Vista is nothing at all like driving in DC. It's not even the same sport.

  8. #8
    Senior Member nolarookie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnoble View Post
    Having driven in both places, driving in Lake Buena Vista is nothing at all like driving in DC. It's not even the same sport.
    It's more like driving from your house to the closest Walgreens, with an enormous parking lot.
    Brandi

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    Quote Originally Posted by ptlohmysoul View Post
    Maybe if I was forced to stay off-site, I might end up feeling the same way, but as a previous DC commuter, there's so much more to a vacation where you don't have to drive anywhere.
    I'm kind of in the same boat. I know offsite works fabulously for a lot of families, but I just don't think it would work for us right now and we're not even willing to try at this point. I've been out of the paid workforce for 20 years now. With 5 kids my days are filled with laundry, cleaning, cooking, and driving kids from one activity/event to another. It's what I do day in and day out. I love my job, but I have no desire to do those things on vacation...or staycation. My husband is very adamant that when we're on vacation I do absolutely no cooking, cleaning, or laundry. And I'm perfectly fine with that. We did a staycation last week and I made sure the laundry and cleaning for the week were finished on Friday (staycation started Saturday). I did not cook one meal or do any laundry the entire week. I did have to do some minor "cleaning up" throughout the week, but nothing major. It was wonderful. Vacations at Disney are the same for me -- no cooking, cleaning, or laundry. And always onsite because most of the kids are old enough to come and go on their own and we like the convenience of Disney transportation for that.

    Once my husband retires, he and I will be taking extended vacations to Disney. That's when we will probably consider an off site stay since it will be the most economical way to be there for 2-3 weeks. And we won't be running back and forth to the parks every day (or at least not multiple times every day). And I won't have 5 kids to cook for or clean up after. :) Until it's just the 2 of us, we'll stay onsite. And we'll probably stay onsite with just the two of us for trips under 10 days. But I'm very glad there are other options for when we have different priorities. And I realize that we all have different priorities for our vacations.

  10. #10
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    My husband is very adamant that when we're on vacation I do absolutely no cooking, cleaning, or laundry.
    You don't have to do any of those things. You could just enjoy the space and amenities of a pool villa.

  11. #11
    selling josh for fastpasses Jenny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnoble View Post
    You don't have to do any of those things. You could just enjoy the space and amenities of a pool villa.
    Or let him do it!!

    Seriously, though, I love the washer and dryer on vacation. To me, the worst thing about coming home is the mountain of laundry. Keeping up with it on vacation means it is done already, and it really is no effort to throw a load in occasionally.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Shazamm's Avatar
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    We prefer offsite as well. We like the full kitchen but that doesn't mean we cook all day long. We typically cook breakfast and that's it, we eat lunch and dinner in the parks or Disney Springs. I love the convenience of the washer and dryer but I don't do laundry every day, just when needed.
    AZ

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    If we weren't DVC members we'd probably look into staying offsite. As it is, we already have the benefits I'd be most interested in (more space, full kitchen, washer/dryer) plus the onsite benefits. For us that definitely includes not driving - we quite like being able to have a cocktail or a glass of wine with a meal if we fancy, without having to worry about a designated driver... I do agree though, that staying in a villa or apartment when you're on vacation is nothing like being at home (we rarely do standard hotel rooms for more than one night).


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    Quote Originally Posted by allgiggles View Post
    Once my husband retires, he and I will be taking extended vacations to Disney. That's when we will probably consider an off site stay since it will be the most economical way to be there for 2-3 weeks.
    The length of your vacation is an important aspect to consider. We don't like to go for less than 2 weeks. As the parents of 6 boys, we'd have to spend A LOT of money on restaurants if we were staying onsite for that long, so we'd likely be crammed into 2 rooms at an All Star. I'm sure it would be a perfectly fine vacation for about 5 days, but I think I'd go crazy on about the 6th day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bnoble View Post
    You don't have to do any of those things. You could just enjoy the space and amenities of a pool villa.
    i know...but we don't really spend that much time in the room, so space isn't really an issue at this point. And I'm not really a sit-by-the-pool kinda gal. :D I'd rather be spending my time in the parks. Plus, we're not ready to give up the convenient (to us) Disney transportation while we're there. I'm much more comfortable with our kids coming and going on their own at Disney if we're using Disney transportation. We'll give up space for convenience. I have plenty of space at home -- I don't need it on vacation. If we're staying for a longer vacation (2 weeks or more) I'm sure we'll end up off property and then I'll appreciate the kitchen, laundry room, and extra space. But for now, staying in a house/apartment (and we've done that on vacation) doesn't really feel like a vacation to me. I will say that on my very first visit to Disney in 1979, we stayed in a townhouse at Lake Buena Vista Village (now the area around Disney Springs/SSR, I believe) and I really enjoyed that. Granted, I was a teenager and wasn't going to be the one doing laundry or cooking, but there was Disney transportation and my parents were comfortable with us "kids" (teens) coming and going on our own while they hung out with friends at the "house". I don't remember my mom doing any cooking or laundry, though.

    It's all good. We're happy with staying on property...it works in our Disney vacation budget and offers us what we want in a Disney vacation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    Or let him do it!!

    Seriously, though, I love the washer and dryer on vacation. To me, the worst thing about coming home is the mountain of laundry. Keeping up with it on vacation means it is done already, and it really is no effort to throw a load in occasionally.
    I'll start by saying I might feel differently if I worked outside of the home and knew I had to go back to work the day after returning from a vacation.

    I've done laundry on vacation, I'm just not a fan of it even when there's a washer/dryer in the room/house. As long as we have the space to pack all the clothing we need, I won't be doing laundry. I sort the dirty clothes while still at the resort so when we get home, the sorted bags get dropped in the laundry room and I throw the first load in the washer before we've even finished unpacking everything from the car. I like that 3 or 4 suitcases are filled with bags of dirty laundry so they only have to be taken to the laundry room on the first floor of the house and then the empty bags can immediately go to storage room. Only 1 bag with the remaining clean clothing needs to go upstairs to the bedrooms. It's really not a big deal to me to do all of the laundry when I get home and it's not significantly more laundry than I usually do on a typical clothing laundry day at home. I have a laundry routine that works for us -- clothing (with the exception of sports or work uniforms) gets washed once a week. I prefer to spend one day washing all of the clothing for the week and then throw in a load of towels or sheets most other days. So when we get home from vacation, I'll have about 10 days worth of clothing to wash as opposed to 7 days worth. Really not a big deal. I find it much more convenient to do it at home and I enjoy the break while on vacation. But if someone else wants to do our laundry for free while we're on vacation, I'm ok with that! :D

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    Even though it's only me and my two kids, we usually don't stay in a typical hotel room when traveling unless it's only for a few nights. Actually, not at all now that they are 17 and 19, and one is a boy and one is a girl. We go to bed at different times, I don't like to disturb them when they are sleeping and I am awake early, etc. All of our WDW trips we've stayed offsite in a multi-bedroom timeshare condo. Oh, the glories of extra space! I could stay up and watch TV after they'd gone to bed when they were younger. Now, it's me going to bed while my son stays up late playing video games on his laptop. Oh, the joys of a washer/dryer! We can go for a week-long vacation with only a carry-on each, and this only because my overpacking daughter can do laundry in the unit. Oh, the joys of a nice hot cup of tea, made from actual water boiled on the stove top! Is there anything worse than making a cup of tea using a hotel room coffee maker? It's just not the same. So while I understand some folks loving staying onsite, and I think we certainly would've loved some of the resorts, to me it's not a vacation when we're all crammed together. Maybe the kids would be ok with it, but I'm on vacation, too, and I need my space after being in the parks all day. And unfortunately the WDW resorts with enough extra space are expensive.

    And I agree with the original poster, when we are staying in a house during our annual beach week or at an airbnb when traveling out of town, doing a little clean-up here and there is not at all like being at home. At home the work is endless. On vacation, it's a totally different feeling.

    But it does stink now that the kids are big and we really struggle with the three of us sharing a hotel room. It's expensive to have to get something bigger than the typical room, meals are more expensive since we all eat/drink like adults, so it does cut into our out of town outings. It's a shame, really, as we won't have many more of them. The youngest will be graduating high school this coming year, and then they both will be off on their own adventures. Now I'm sad.

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