If you’re like most of the rest of the country, your life is super hectic and your entertainment budget is shrinking. With the national economy stressing our personal economies, with soaring gas costs, multiplying food prices and an overall higher cost of living that hasn’t been matched by our incomes, I think most families have had to step back and rethink what “vacation” means. A recent study, by Embassy Suites with Parents magazine, groups families into four categories: Dabblers, Extenders, Maximizers and Accumulators. It was no surprise, to me, to find that a majority of the families who responded, (56%) consider themselves to be Vacation Dabblers.
- Dabblers: take vacation days here and there throughout the year
- Extenders: stack vacation days onto holidays when they already get time off from work/school
- Maximizers : bank up vacation days for one long trip
- Accumulators: hold onto vacation days until the very end of the year, when they have to “use ‘em” or “lose ‘em”
Our family has always been in that Dabbler category. We like to spread the fun around! Plus, it’s difficult for my husband to get extended periods of time off from work, without coming home to a HUGE mess; which sort of makes a long vacation more of a punishment, in the long run. Also, with five kids, an extended stay, far from home, was simply too costly to fit our budget. David has worked for the same company for more than 20 years, now, and so receives four weeks (20 days) of paid vacation time, each year. Since he isn’t allotted sick days, however, a day or two of that is always set aside, in case of illness; with the rest taken a day or two at a time throughout the year. Usually, there is a need or commitment that is fulfilled with the extra time, but sometimes, he takes a day, “just because” and we do something special – a sort of “stay-cation”.
As a family, we have taken ONE planned vacation, in 29 years, that wasn’t attached to another event (By that, I mean we would never have made the trip on our own, if it hadn’t been part of some other organized event.) or us “staying over somewhere” when we were picking someone up from their stay in another state. There’s been only one trip that we planned and saved for. That trip was four days and three nights, when we drove to Minnesota, to the Mall of America. It was fun because we were all together, but it’s not a trip we would ever make again.
It really does work well, and can save money, to plan a little extra time around a journey you need to make anyway and fit in a fun family vacation. Picking up our daughter and her friend from church camp in Colorado, was an example of that. We added one day to the drive and turned it into a family weekend get-away. All five of our kids were there, as well as our future son-in-law and our daughter’s best friend. It was money we had planned to spend anyway, making the drive, so budgeting in one night’s stay at a hotel and the cost of food and activities for one day, made it a memorable trip for everyone. It was so much fun!
We also took a week-long trip, once, when our older three were very small, as part of a church event. We went to Rapid City, South Dakota. I loved that trip. It was a blast and created so many irreplaceable memories; but it also ate a huge chunk of our annual budget and created some debt we would never consider burdening ourselves with, again, now that we’re older and wiser.
If you can’t pay cash for your vacation, you create a huge source of stress and problems that no amount of time off will be able to resolve. For us, it’s so much more fun to vacation on a smaller scale and really make it special. That way we can relax and enjoy the time, and our family, knowing that the money for our trip is budgeted and our celebration won’t create any kind of financial hardship. Planning ahead – knowing what we can spend for activities, a place to stay, and food – means we can simply enjoy and relax. Plus, getting the kids involved in planning for your trip builds enthusiasm and anticipation, which will only serve to make the trip that much more fun! When you make your plans, seek out hotels and restaurants that offer the best value for every dollar you spend and create an atmosphere that makes your family feel welcomed, at home and just a little pampered. Look for unique, one-of-a-kind experiences. Remember that the best value, isn’t always the least expensive, but the one that provides the highest quality and quantity of amenities and fun per dollar that you spend. You don’t even have to travel far from home to do it, which means your vacation cash will go even further. When you have a plan in place, you can just cut loose and have a blast!
It would definitely be fun to have the disposable income to take our kids on a really great extended trip, but since they have never really experienced that, and I can’t remember a time when income was “disposable” -lol-, they, and we, have come to think of “vacations” as a long weekend at home renting movies, inviting friends and eating “junk” food, renting a boat at the lake, or going out to a movie or even “camping” in the back yard. Long weekend vacations have also included driving a couple of hours to visit relatives and visit a theme park for a day. When it’s a REALLY special “stay-cation”, a night at a hotel is the ultimate treat and always a great surprise. As a matter of fact, some of our most fun vacations, have been “stay-cations”, where we make the 30-40 mile trip into the city, spend the night at a hotel, swim in the pool, eat out someplace nice, go to the zoo or go-cart riding or maybe catch a movie. Occasionally, we have just gone to the hotel, swam and had a family movie marathon, right in our suite. We’ve been blessed to have children who get excited about, and are genuinely appreciative of, those small opportunities and make the most of those fun family moments.
Since staying in a hotel is such a treat and not something that happens more than one or two times a year, we make every effort to get the most for our money and have an awesome experience at a really nice place when we plan a “trip”. With our large family, we always look for a hotel with suites, to give us the needed space and it definitely has to have an indoor pool. This summer, we’re excited to take a short “stay-cation” and we get to stay at a hotel that we’ve never been to before. It’s exciting because, not only does it meet our two requirements (suites and pool), it also offers some fantastic amenities for families that were not available in hotels where we have stayed, previously. After visiting their website and seeing these great pictures of the facility, we are looking forward to our stay at Embassy Suites with even more great anticipation and excitement!
Embassy Suites is part of the Hilton Worldwide brand and a full-service, upscale chain that offers two-room suites, which means plenty of room for our family to spread out. Free cooked-to-order breakfast is a standard amenity, at Embassy Suites, as is a nightly Manager’s Reception with free appetizers and beverages. Everything I have checked, so far, for two-room suites at our Lincoln Embassy Suites is only $149 for the night! I don’t know if you’ve priced a really nice hotel for a large family, recently, but to us, that’s an exceptional price! Plus, they offer some phenomenal package deals and book your room early rates, where I noted our suite was available for as low as $101 a night on particular dates. Excellent! That makes extraordinary stay-cation budget-sense and we couldn’t be more excited to experience the homey, comfort of the suites we’ve seen pictured online. You won’t believe all they have to offer! Visit the Embassy Suites webpage to get more information or to make a reservation; and you’ll definitely want to follow them on Facebook and Twitter to stay on top of their latest deals and promotions.
Embassy Suites is so committed to helping families “more-imize” their vacations and have the best experience possible, (regardless of the length of their stay), that they have pledged to give guests 366 Days of More. They’ve taken it even further, with their new “Get MORE Vacation” contest on Facebook, where the 5 lucky winners will receive SEVEN Nights at Embassy Suites Hotels, plus $10,000 cash to use for spending cash and airfare! Now, THAT is an extended vacation!!! If our family had that kind of opportunity, we would be headed to California for a long overdue visit with our daughter and son-in-law and a trip to Disneyland. What would your family do? Can you just imagine? You’ll need to round up your family for a “Show Us Your Vacation Face” picture and then submit it with your entry. So, be sure to read about it and enter for your chance to win.
Whether you travel across country, or have a special weekend get-away right at home, Embassy Suites can help make your vacation a comfortable, high-quality experience without unraveling your family’s budget. The extra attention to details and amenities convinced us that it would be a great place for our family to “get away”. I encourage you to enter the giveaway and check out all Embassy Suites has to offer. Be sure to check back, in a couple of weeks, for an update on our own summer “stay-cation” at Embassy Suites!
I wrote this review while participating in an Ambassador Program by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Embassy Suites Hotels and received a one-night complimentary stay at an Embassy Suites Hotel to facilitate and research this review, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. A positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the company and products.