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Cottage and Cabin Vacations!

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for July, 2000, Vol. 4, No. 3

Plan a Successful Cottage or Cabin Vacation

If you like resort areas, investigate cottages and cabins. Often, you get more space and kitchen privileges for a much lower price than hotels, motels, and B&Bs. A few times, we've rented cottages and shared them with another family.

An enjoyable cottage vacation takes a bit more planning, but gives you more control over your trip. Here are a few ideas to make yours a success

1) Know what is or isn't included
Every rental is different. Ask if your fee includes...
mattresses and pillows
blankets
sheets and pillowcases
towels
pots and pans, cutting board, cooking knives, etc. (how many and what kinds?)
dishes, cutlery, corkscrew, can opener
parking--not only at your cabin, but also if the local beaches require a resident sticker (we just came back from a cottage on Cape Cod, where a one-week resident beach sticker cost $30!)

Is there heat? air conditioning? a fan for every bedroom? How is trash removal handled? A portable space heater isn't a bad idea to take the morning chill off for a few minutes.

Are the outlets two-prong or three? (if the latter, you may need to bring an adapter plug)

What's nearby? Swimming and boating? tennis? nature trails? bike paths?

2) Shop ahead
Supermarkets in resort areas often have very high prices. Stock up on non-perishables before you leave. Find a suburban shopping center well away from the resort area (and close to a major city) for perishables--or consider a roadside farm stand; bring a cooler with freeze-packs to keep them cold while you travel.

If you like to bicycle, it may actually be cheaper to buy a bike rack for your car and bring your own than to rent bikes for a family of four for a week--and that purchase will last a long time. Of course, you miss the fun of riding the latest and greatest, like the wonderful cross-training bikes we rented last year on Martha's Vineyard (it was real hard to go back to my ancient 10-speed!).

3) Plan for bad weather
Particularly if you're traveling with kids, have a lot of activities available: board games, books, puzzles, art supplies, musical instruments--and keep a store of no-props-needed activities in your head (we do a lot of theater games--I'll do a future column outlining some of those). Know ahead of time about museums and other indoor attractions. Boredom is the kiss of death in a cramped, damp cabin when its pouring. Of course, you hope for perfect weather--but we had two different vacations where it rained nearly every day.
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