Jennifer Allen, a special needs mom and disability travel blogger, shares how she's usually a fan of earning bonus guest points on her home when staying with family, but she recently discovered how much sweeter family time can be when she uses HomeExchange for her visit.

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Family get-togethers with my in-laws are a big to-do. My husband is one of five children and all but one are married. We’re the most seasoned parents, with three of our own, but his brothers are working to catch up.

Our last holiday together, we did something new and stayed in a home just around the corner from my husband’s parents - an easy walking distance. It ended up being one of our best family holidays! Here’s what we loved -

Well Rested Kids (and Grown-Ups)

There’s a certain coziness to having everyone in the same house, but there’s also a certain relief in the college kids being able to stay up late without worrying about waking little ones, and in little ones being able to wake up early without waking big ones!

When it was time for bed for our littles, I took them back to our house to settle down with stories and bedtime routines. They were able to sleep better away from the excitement of everything going on, and family game night for the adults was able to continue at full volume.

Eleven hours later, when my kids rolled out of bed at full energy and full volume, we didn’t have to worry about waking Nana. We had breakfast on our own, and joined everyone at the house once they were awake.

Down Time and Regulation

Depending on personalities, of both kids and grown-ups, before bed isn’t the only time a little downtime can be good. Many children need moments to escape overstimulation, which can be hard to do when you’re in a loving home filled with action. When our kids were tired or overstimulated, it was easy to step away and take a little break. Similarly, this introverted momma appreciated the quiet moments reading after she put the kids to bed!

Maintaining Diets

Let’s face it, there’s a wide variety of diets and needs in a family! My oldest son has Nephrotic syndrome and has to stay away from salt. My mother-in-law doesn’t do sugar. At one point, we were on the Whole30 diet and had a detailed list of all we could and couldn’t eat.

Staying in a separate home not only enabled us to eat breakfast before everyone was up, it also enabled us to eat what was best for our family. There were a few times when we brought separate foods with us to the main house. On Thanksgiving, we also had a bonus kitchen for preparing extra food.


Vacation Within a Vacation

One of the joys of HomeExchange is staying somewhere new and different. While we were only around the corner from the grandparents, we had a new space to explore. The community we were in had its own playground and tennis courts. We had our own screened porch overlooking the bay and a new backyard to explore. We had different games, books, and things to do. There’s a fun vacation vibe that comes from experiencing a new space

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While we weren’t able to find an accessible home that was available for this trip, this would be another benefit for our family. My middle son is a wheelchair user and it would be such a relief to be able to head back before bed and get ready independently in an accessible bathroom.

You may also stay in a home that has a crib, changing table, stools for the sink, or other baby equipment that’s hard to travel with. A home that meets your needs while staying with family is a rare gift.

It’s such a sweet thing to be able to connect with family without any of the stressors of being away from home!

Join our community and start organizing your next vacation with HomeExchange.