Vacation rentals for a large family, 2011 edition

Last week we had the great fun of a trip to the beach. Years ago we discovered that the most affordable vacation lodging for our big crew was a house rental. OK, I admit, camping would be cheaper. But after a decade of camping with kids, I threw in the towel and begged for accommodations that would leave me feeling like I’d had a vacation too. My husband, who spoils me entirely more than I deserve, OK’d the rental of a house for our vacation ever since.  Most of the time we vacation ‘off-season’ to take advantage of lower rental rates.

Three years in a row, we stayed in a nice 5 bedroom, 2 bath, 4 level home just south of Newport, OR. It is currently renting for $900 a week, off season. It has a nice view of distant ocean, and is about a 10-minute walk to the beach. After staying there once, the next year we were graciously given permission to bring our dog there, outside only. The only down side of the house for us was the bathroom situation. One of the two bedrooms is completely open to the master bath, which meant anyone wanting privacy has to kick everyone out of the master bedroom to use the bathroom. For practical purposes, that meant all the kids in the house used the one public bathroom. There was a lot of waiting for bathroom space.

Last year we wanted to try a new locale, and stayed at Tillamook, OR in a newer 5 bedroom, 4 bath home. It was $1400/ week off season, and except for the excitement of the stove catching on fire one day, it served our needs beautifully. It had two complete master suites, and two other bathrooms that can be used by everyone else. Bathroom heaven! The kitchen is big and beautiful, and the great room area has nice ocean views. The down side of this house is that the walk to the beach was a good 20 minutes, down a steep trail and across a fairly busy road, but we really enjoyed the space.  We may opt to stay there again sometime in the future.

This time we visited Bandon, Oregon and went a totally different direction house-wise. We rented a 5 bedroom 2 bath home that is 100 years old and used to be a store. It was $1300 for the week in May, and is as low as $950 a week in the winter. The pictures of the house were lovely, and it had several good reviews. Counting Erika and her husband, there would be 12 of us in the house. I was concerned about down-sizing to two bathrooms again, esp since it looked like one of the bathrooms was attached to the master suite. But it was billed as a short walk to the beach, and was right across the bay from the Coquille Lighthouse. Hopefully it would be fun.

The drive to Bandon is quite a long trek from our house. We left home around 8 AM. Five stops, one 40-minute (wrong turn) back-track, 12.5 hours, and 600 miles later we arrived in Bandon. Our first impression of the outside of the building, not surprisingly, was that it was an OLD house.Walking in the door I was reminded of the smell of my grandma’s house, but more so. Not terrible, just old-smelling, and maybe a little damp. I tried not to be too worried. The living space was huge and surrounded by windows, with a lovely old scarred wood floor. The front of the house had store-front style windows, with airy panels of fabric to allow a bit of privacy in the house. There were two large bedrooms on the main floor, both big enough to have sitting areas, connected by a good-sized bathroom with a shower.

Upstairs I was surprised to discover that the ‘master’ bathroom was completely open to the staircase—no privacy there. The second (tiny) bedroom was accessed by walking through the master bedroom. To access the third bedroom, you had to walk through both the ‘master’ and the tiny bedroom. Yikes. Fortunately the very serviceable upstairs bathroom was right at the top of the stairs, which basically made it a public bathroom, and the downstairs bathroom was also easy to access, thanks to having two doors. But how to maximize bedroom privacy?

After a little thinking, John and I decided to claim one of the downstairs bedrooms, and gave the 4 youngest girls the other one. The ‘master’ bedroom upstairs would serve well as the 4 boys’ hangout. It was huge – big enough for a king size bed, a futon bed and a hide-a-bed and then some.  And the boys didn’t really mind people walking through their space to get to the other two bedrooms up there. The ‘end’ bedroom in the line of three made a good space for Erika and Israel. And with that arrangement we didn’t even need the tiny walk-through bedroom.

Once I figured out how to make the place sleep us all, I started liking it better.  The kitchen is large and really nicely equipped:  top quality pots and pans, etc.  The many windows make it a lovely light space.  And the views of water out many of the windows are great.  Probably thanks in part to the laid-back vacation lifestyle that week, our 6 year old declared partway through the week that she wanted to live there always.  I’ll share more pictures soon!


  1. Looks like such an awesome, old fashion house right out of a book or movie. I’m glad you all found a set up that worked well for you family and being right there on the beach sounds like heaven. I agree with you 6 yr old… I’d probably have wanted to live there forever too. 🙂

  2. so next time you visit Bandon, you might check out tintagel by the sea (looks promising) – I think we might try it late this summer – I’m all about the beach house now after reading your post from last year!

  3. Looks like fun! Places with history provide a little “scope for the imagination”, as Anne of Green Gables would say… though shiny and new is nice, too.
    That’s one thing I miss about having every kid at home for school… in order to take an off-season vacation, you have to take stacks of schoolwork assigned according to someone else’s priorities for each school kid (including a “penalty” assignment for an activity that could have just been missed when we did it last year) and endure the ire of some principals and teachers.

  4. We also enjoy the off-season vacation and have gone back to a couple of spots more than once.
    But Marian is right, you have to be prepared to advocate for that vacation and that time with the school because they will not appreciate it as much as you do– taking the kids out of school the first week in May (weather finally warm enough most years) or the middle of October (get away before winter sets in) and miss several days of school.
    The rates for off-season vacations are the best and over the years I think the principals and teachers have learned to expect that I will be pulling the kids. They sometimes have to write in a journal about their trip to read in class or draw pictures about their trip but either way it is a fair exchange for all of us.
    As far as the ‘penalty’ assignment, I was stunned to discover the teacher expected my daughter to do that because she was not going on the field trip with the rest of the class but on a different field trip with the family to a much closer and assessible location–I complained to the school and they have since done away with ‘penalty’ assignments when kids do not go on field trips for any reason.

  5. Sounds like a fun adventure! Can’t wait to see more pics!