Between seven and eight each weekday morning is the time in my house I have long referred to as the Witching Hour.
Five of us – two adults, two teen girls, and a 9-year-old boy – jockeying for privacy in a two-bedroom, one bathroom apartment.
If it weren’t an hour that brought out the worst in all of us, we might find it comical.
The alarm goes off at 7 a.m. Nobody moves.
“Get in the bathroom,” I yell. “It’s empty.” I yell this as a courtesy, knowing full well that still, nobody will move. So I go into the bathroom and lock the door. Some 25 seconds later there’s an irritating tap-tap-tap on the door. It’s either the boy or Teen One needing to use the toilet.
If it’s the boy I jump in the shower while he does his business. If it’s Teen One, I vacate the bathroom while she does whatever she does in there with her phone. “Are you on your phone?” I yell through the door. No answer. “Teen One!” I yell. Eventually she exits.
A few minutes later after putting bowls of cereal on the table I head to the smaller bedroom where my wife and I sleep, but I’m cut off by Teen One, clothes in hand. She does have her own “room,” a curtain-partitioned portion of the living room, but she won’t change in there. Not enough privacy. She goes into my room and locks the door.
Meanwhile, Teen Two, who stays in bed until she has no choice, is banging on the bathroom door, telling the boy to get out. He does, eventually. But then five minutes later he’s banging on the locked door of the master bedroom, which he and Teen Two share, telling her to open up so he can get his clothes. She rips the door open, yelling “Hurry up!” He gets his clothes, purposely taking his time, and she slams the door, literally letting it hit him on the way out.
Because he wants privacy too, the boy tries to get access to either the bathroom or smaller bedroom, but my wife and I are using them. “Change in the living room,” I say, “nobody is in there.” He refuses. He’s modest. So he waits.
There’s more yelling. Doors are slammed some more and almost immediately ripped open in disgust some more. Everyone is running a little bit late but inevitably we all have to go. Because it’s 8 a.m. The Witching Hour is over.
An outsider witnessing these theatrics might find them comical, as I hope you did.
But if the Witching Hour is all-too-familiar to you, if you live in an apartment or house that is in many ways perfectly nice but has more people than it does rooms, then you already understand the main reason why your family should really, really try to stay somewhere with lockable doors when you travel:
Your family getaway should also get you away from your home living arrangements.
Cost is a factor, of course. If you’re heading to a popular destination during high season, and add to that such variables as booking at the last minute, you and your family may have no choice but to replicate your living arrangements at home and cram into a single hotel room… often more cramped than you are at home.
Or you may end up booking a “suite” that is in reality a large room with an “L” shape or a living room whose “separate” bedroom is partitioned by a flimsy, unlockable decorative door or slider… or is just a doorframe with no door (!). I have stayed in every configuration of these faux suites with my family and of course the privacy in those situations is no better than it is at home.
What I’m building up to is this: In many popular destinations there are condos you can rent at family resorts that would cost the same or less per night than a hotel room or a suite that’s not a suite because it has no lockable door.
Through Vacatia, you can book a multi-bedroom, multi-bathroom condo in a popular destination like Orlando/Disney without having to belong to the Disney Vacation Club, with the option of booking Orlando hotel suites, Orlando two-bedroom suites, or Orlando three-bedroom suites.
Hypothetically, if I wanted to book a three-bedroom, two-bathroom suite in Orlando during the third week in August, as of this writing I’m finding availability through Vacatia at 21 resorts, with a dozen of those averaging less than $200 per night.
So for the sake of argument, if my aforementioned Witching Hour unfolded in a three-bedroom, 2-bathroom suite – and in some cases you can get 2.5 or 3 bathrooms, the thought of which almost makes me weep longingly – you really don’t need me to re-imagine the scene for you.
The hour still wouldn’t bring out the best in us, and my family would figure out new reasons to yell and slam doors.
But we’d have our own lockable doors to slam. And really, isn’t that what a family vacation is supposed to be about?
This post was sponsored by Vacatia but, as always, all opinions in my posts are my own and certainly that whole Witching Hour thing is real.
For more travel advice, head over to Traveling Mom, where among other things you can read about free things to do with kids.