There are DIY instructions for most anything you can imagine on the internet (love some of those Pinterest fails, by the way). This blog is a source of Do NOT traps that tend to snare visitors to our area. With a little forethought your family will not be one of them.
1. Not actually going into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park-Yes, it is possible to get such a panoramic view from your cabin balcony that you may not think you need to physically drive into the National Park, but please don’t make this grievous mistake. “Look, don’t touch” does NOT apply here. Unless the weather is absolutely pouring rain or icy and snowing, the slight inconvenience of leaving behind modern facilities and getting into nature is worth the effort. Yes, even with children or physically challenged family members. You came to the mountains, didn’t you? Don’t squeeze them out of your schedule and regret it later.
Idea: At the very least, choose a motor nature trail like Cades Cove or Roaring Fork. Better yet, discuss an easy hike with one of the friendly park rangers at the Sugarlands Visitors Center near the main park entrance. They are experts at fitting the proper outdoor event to the needs of your family.
2. Eating all meals at chain restaurants in town-Safe and predictable, yes. Memorable, no. I’m not suggesting avoiding familiar chain establishments completely, but can’t you go there while at home? There are many locally owned dining options throughout our area that are delicious places to try a new experience. Step out and make a memory.
Idea: Eat local. Ask any of us at the office our favorite places around town or to suggest a location to fit your desired cuisine. You just may discover a gem that you will return to every time you visit. Eat in. Both diet and budget friendly, don’t just use the full kitchen for storing bottles of water and soda. Plan for a special breakfast, movie treats, or a midnight snack if you must eat full meals when out and about. Just make it something different than your normal home routine.
3. Playing too hard-Because your vacation hours are precious, many tend to schedule every moment for maximum impact! Certainly you want to make a plan that best fits your family’s lifestyle, whether that’s excessive outdoor adventures or a repetitive shop-eat-sleep cycle. Please also plan to avoid arriving home with less energy than when you left! For most, doing nothing and recharging is becoming more of a challenge.
Idea: Plan for some specific, no-electronics downtime. Soak in the hot tub; rock on the deck; sink into the couch; read a book; listen to the quiet. Don’t miss your opportunity to REST in the Smokies!
4. Paying too much-Often economy cabins can be enjoyed for the price of a hotel room, with many more amenities. These same features can also cut expenses for food and entertainment, since full kitchens and game rooms are included in your nightly rate.
Idea: Volunteer Cabin Rentals has great promotions throughout the calendar year: just consult the website or ask our customer service representatives for our current best promotion discount available. When visiting area attractions, don’t forget to search in advance for coupon booklets, found in literature racks throughout the cities. Discount books are even available from the local outlet centers to save on shopping. You could pay more, but why?
5. Not spending time together-Though alone time is a rare commodity, don’t miss the opportunity to create family memories. Vacation, like any holiday, is a fleeting chance to enjoy each other, without everyday stress and distractions. Children can always make this a challenge, regardless of age. Be different this trip. Make the effort.
Idea: Get down on the floor and actually play a game with a little one. Look into their eyes, while they are still young enough to not be rolling them at you. Let your teen choose and plan a specific activity for the family to enjoy together. Don’t immediately veto their attempt: they may surprise you. Overcome the selfie habit, and make sure everyone is in the picture. Take pictures. Lots of them. You will never be in the same spot at the same time ever again.
Good luck and good planning for avoiding the mistakes made (and lessons learned) by others who have come before you. Call us at VCR for assistance in choosing your perfect Smoky Mountain cabin today.