When two families, longtime friends, decided to vacation together one summer, there was only one destination which had everything to offer all their interests — Orlando.
Sam and Tracy Hull*, of Texas, and their preteen daughter Sarah*, started planning the vacation of a lifetime with another couple, Mark and Cammie Varden*, of North Dakota. The Vardens had two pre-teen daughters, Amy* and Kendra*, and the three girls were eager to catch up on each other’s lives since the Vardens had relocated to North Dakota from Texas years ago.
“We knew we wanted to meet in Orlando and stay a week, but we really didn’t want to stay in a hotel,” explained Tracy Hull. “We didn’t want to deal with noisy neighbors, the stress of parking or a crowded swimming pool. We wanted a more home-like environment. A place where, at the end of the day, we could all kick back and relax together. The girls wanted to hang out poolside, and we adults wanted to catch up with one another without having to traipse down to a public pool to keep an eye on our girls.”
The Hulls and Vardens believe they made the right decision in choosing to stay in a rental home instead of a hotel while on their trip of a lifetime in Orlando.
“Renting a home just made more sense to us,” explained Sam Hull. “There, we could all relax together in the family room or watch a movie with the girls. The place we rented had a screened-in back patio with a private pool where, each night, our girls enjoyed swimming and spending time with each other while we adults could watch them from the family room. It was the perfect set up for us.”
The two families rented a home near all the major attractions of Orlando such as Disney World®, Universal Studios®, NASA, Sea World® and Busch Gardens®. It was also only a short drive to the beach on Florida’s Atlantic side where Tracy celebrated her 44th birthday.
“I’ll never forget that birthday, for sure,” Tracy said with a laugh. “It was wonderful to spend the day at the beach, enjoying the company of our friends and our girls along with the natural beauty of the ocean and the uncrowded beach. But, the best part about that day was coming back to our rental home instead of a hotel room. Our friends cooked dinner for us that evening, and even surprised me with a birthday cake! We certainly couldn’t have done that in a hotel room.
“It was so much like going to visit them in their home, rather than in an impersonal hotel room,” Tracy added. “Each family took turns planning and cooking our meals in the full kitchen, and there were plenty of bedrooms and baths to make things so comfortable for all of us. Plus, we loved having our own laundry room!”
While each family was on a limited budget, the cost of sharing the rental home wasn’t much more than staying in a hotel would have cost them for the week. For the Hulls and the Vardens, the little extra they paid for the rental home was well worth it.
“It truly was the vacation of a lifetime for us, and I can honestly say that staying in a rental home instead of a hotel was the best decision for all of us,” Tracy added. “We even tossed around the idea of our families going in together to buy a home in Orlando and rent it out on a short-term basis for other families looking to vacation like we did. Who knows? We might just do that one day!”
*The story is real, but names have been changed.
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