One of the cornerstones of miles and points in my book is to stay connected to family.  Always has been, and I like to think it always will be.  That is especially true this time of the year with tons of people travel long distances to visit their family for the holidays.  That said, I’m not the type of person that thinks that a week of sleeping on the floor courtesy of a family member’s blow-up mattress, and sharing a bathroom with multiple other adults and children sounds fun.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it.  I’ve also hosted other family members who ultimately had to sleep on our floor when we ran out of available beds.  In my college and early working days this style of travel was the norm, and in it’s own way it was probably fun (though perhaps more with friends than family).

Before I go further I want to clarify that if the family you are visiting actually has some private space for you beyond crashing on the living room floor, the visit is extremely short (1-2 nights max), your family could care less about any details other than being together, or you are a solo traveler who can come and go a bit easier than a whole family, then this may not apply to you.  However, as a 30+ year old mom I no longer can get away with eating macaroni and cheese and beer for dinner on a regular basis the way I might have in my early 20′s, and I no longer think that crashing on a friend or family member’s couch or floor for days at a time is in the same encyclopedia set as fun.  Of course, if it is the only way to visit your family then I say take the good with the bad and make the most of it, but when there is another option available….aka a hotel, I say book it and don’t look back.

Babies

Love cousin chaos, but also love our own space

Here’s why getting a hotel room when you visit family might be a good idea:

  • In this day and age, many like their own personal space.  Maybe we are all now spoiled in this culture, but for better or worse people like their space (except perhaps in New York City).  Giving up having your own rooms, bathrooms, etc. every once in a while during a vacation can be good for you to a point, but past a certain threshold it is just uncomfortable and impractical.  This can lead to short tempers and grumpy people.
  • Not all families get along all the time.  I love family, but let’s be honest for a second and recognize that not every single family member (plus in-laws) gets along perfectly in the same space for extended periods of time.  We’ve all seen the commercials and the movies where eyes are rolled at the mere mention of visiting family or in-laws.  I think you can dramatically reduce the chances of some decades old brewing family battle re-emerging by simply allowing everyone to have a little more figurative and literal space during visits.
  • Regression.  For whatever reason, when you get a couple of generations of family together under the same roof, you will sometimes see some very interesting regression-type behaviors occur where normal fully functioning adults suddenly forget how to clean up after themselves because “mom” is there.  The idea of cleaning up after themselves (and their family), cooking, etc. sometimes just doesn’t register because of the old patterns they were used to from childhood, or simply because they are now in “vacation mode”.  The only problem is that there isn’t housekeeping and room service available in someone else’s house, and “mom” may now be in her 60′s or 70′s with no desire to clean up after her kid, their spouse, and multiple grandchildren.
  • Chaos.  I actually like an element of fun chaos when my daughter is visiting her cousins, but I don’t think I would like it as much or for as long if it was happening in my own home for an extended period of time.  I’m willing to bet that most others wouldn’t like it in their home either for more than a day or two.  Having a hotel to break to at night allows everyone to recharge and be ready for more fun the next day…after the toys are picked up.
  • I’d rather have less time that is more enjoyable with family, than too much time that was not enjoyable.  I’d rather look back on the family visit and wish we had just a little more time together, than look back at the visit and say ohmygodI’mneverdoingthatagain.  I can say I have experienced both types of visits, and having your own space to return to can really help with both giving an element of control to your schedule, and some much needed breathing room when needed.
  • If you collect miles and points, hotel rooms don’t have to be a big expense.  It may at first glance seem like a waste of miles and points to use them when there is a free futon available for your family at your relative’s house, but I assure you it might be the best use of points you have ever had.  Additionally, many of the family members who are visited around the country don’t live in big and expensive cities, they live in smaller and less expensive towns where your points and dollars might take you further than you think.  I’ve heard many success stories where people are even able to use IHG Rewards PointBreaks for 5,000 points per night when visiting family (or having family visit them).  Even if your family live somewhere expensive, consider breaking up a longer visit and spending part of the time in a nearby hotel.

Maybe I’m crazy.  Maybe I’m a bit more Grinch-ish than I would like to believe.  I don’t know, but I do know that not overloading a house with too many guests and instead “splurging” for our own space on some family vacations has only been a positive in our own traveling experience.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on how your family manages this issue!

Posted by mommypoints | 20 Comments

20 Responses to “Getting a Hotel When You Visit Family”

  1. NB says:

    All those points make some sense sometimes, but you have missed the big one. Whomever is hosting needs time off from hosting. It’s not only polite but essential for guests to remove themselves for a significant period of time pretty well every day – otherwise the hosts get no time off. So, by all means sleep at your family’s home, but make sure you get out of their hair and let them have time off.

  2. Denise L says:

    NB – great point. It is not always about “us”. Think about the host too. I am a fan of getting a hotel room for all the above reasons. And an indoor pool to help keep kids occupied if there is some down time.

  3. Santastico says:

    Agree 100%. Doing exactly the same between Christmas and New Year in Boston. Spend the day with family in their house and even get there early to have breakfast all together but sleep and rest with some privacy in a hotel room.

  4. Geoff says:

    Unless the house is HUGE(like 6 or 7 br’s) it’s always a hotel for us.
    Need our space and the host needs us out so they can clean up and not feel obligated to make sure we are 100% spoken for.

  5. Lynn says:

    We went to a family reunion this summer, and had the chance to stay with an uncle and aunt (along with several other relatives). My son and I opted for a hotel for many reasons – he needed downtime away from folks and stories he didn’t know, I needed downtime from some of the same, and we felt that the house was plenty crowded with those staying there already and we’d be underfoot. We helped out with chores while we were at the house, but really appreciated being able to go relax some at night.

  6. DBest says:

    I couldn’t disagree more. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of visiting family all across the country and the world. It may indeed suck for the grownups, but a half-dozen kids camped out on the living room floor is some of the best bonding time they could ever get with their cousins.

  7. mommypoints says:

    NB, so true. Also don’t expect them to be your cruise director at all times. Plan your own stuff and get your whole family out of their hair a bit. Then come back with dinner for everyone (and paper plates)!
    Denise, love the indoor pool at hotels as well! Perfect to get some kid energy blown off!
    Santastico, sounds great to me! Enjoy!
    Geoff, exactly!
    Lynn, sounds like you were great guests and did what you needed to make the trip enjoyable for yourselves, too!
    DBest, I love the idea of cousins together, so you do have to find that balance. We do cousin time too, but that would go downhill in a hurry after days of C not getting to bed ontime if she didn’t have her own space, etc. I also think letting the kids all do a slumber party even if the adults aren’t all there can be fun, but just be sure to not pile too much onto the host adults. I agree kids are the most important, but if the adults all go home grumpy and miserable, the get-togethers are less likely to happen as frequently.

  8. Santastico says:

    @DBest: I guess it depends of each person style. In my case I like my privacy and don’t like having family camping in my living room and have a fraternity style bathroom in my own house. That being said, i don’t want to do the same on other people’s house. Thus, we can have all the bonding time we want but shower and sleep in a hotel room.

  9. mommypoints says:

    Agree that much of this will ultimately come down to personalities as much as anything, but it is asking a lot of everyone to have an over-stuffed house with people without their own space for more than a day or two. Sounds like a ticking time bomb to me, but then again, that’s my personality. ;)

  10. Nathan says:

    It is very appropriate, I am in the same situation as you. After the first time you get your own hotel, everyone realizes that it is a good idea.

  11. Baqa says:

    I wish the rest of my family felt the same way! My wife and I prefer our own space, but when we visit family it is considered an offense to get a hotel rather than staying at the hosts house. We would do it in an instant if it wouldn’t cause more drama than it is worth…

  12. mommypoints says:

    Baqa, agree creating more drama to avoid drama might be a losing proposition. On the other hand, if it is like a bandaid and some temporary side-eyes result in decades of happy travels then it may be worth it. I’m sure people in my family thought this was crazy at first, but no one seems to complain (to my face) now. ;)

  13. J says:

    I have done all of the above. They all have their perks. I have to say that when we go to my in laws we never want to stay cause the place isn’t as clean and nice as we expect, but we stay cause if we left to a hotel room then we’d miss out on a lot of the fun of late night chats, etc… The families are big so my kids get to know their cousins from all over the country by the camping set up. We eat good food too. Otherwise, UUGHH! This only works cause it is never over 2 days long. :)

  14. mommypoints says:

    J, two days is the magic dividing line between potentially fun and probably going to drive someone to drink in the corner and start muttering obscenities Bad Santa style. Or again, maybe that’s just my family. ;)

  15. Lively says:

    I agree with you 100%, MP….now if I could only get my husband to agree. ;)

  16. DrewBird says:

    In addition to IHG PointsBreaks at 5,000 points, I was able to book a ChoiceHotels Clarion for a Saturday night stay at 6,000 points.

    For exactly the reasons MP lists, this is a great use of points.

  17. Krista says:

    As Benjamin Franklin said “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days”.

    I travel to see my family 2-3 X a year, always staying at the same hotel. I last stayed with them 15 years ago, and staying in a hotel is the only way for me to enjoy the trip. I tell them I have irregular sleep habits due to pain, but really, I just need ME time.

    When my sis, 11 yr old nephew, 18 yr old niece and Ma came to stay at my house for 4 days this year, we all quickly realized that my 3 bedroom house wasn’t big enough. It was fun, but pretty sure they won’t do it again.

  18. Jman says:

    Amen to this post. You’ve described our habits and personality to a T ! :)

  19. Name (required) says:

    Summer – love, love, love the blog…. but…. it’s “couldn’t care less”… otherwise another great piece.

  20. Rachel says:

    Our local Hyatt (Northern Virginia) is offering a holiday neighborhood rate. It’s the first time I’ve seen something like this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other locations are offering something similar since it’s a low business travel season.

    Here’s what they said in their promotion, valid 11/25/2013 – 01/05/2014 :

    At Hyatt Regency we understand the holidays bring families and friends together. We realize you may not have space for everyone, which is why we would like to extend a special Holiday Neighborhood rate to you and your holiday guests.

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