A Break to Remember: Rent A House This Winter

Budget-Friendly and Loads of Fun; Some Tips on How to Snag the Perfect Vacation House This Year


Renting a house with friends over winter break is an affordable option for college students with the desire to get away and enjoy the outdoors. (Doug Baum/The Observer)

Published: November 19, 2009

Do you really want to spend winter break holed up in your apartment with your cat or stuck back home with grandma, trying to force some home cooking down your throat? Probably not. So here’s an easy solution: save up some cash, grab some friends (preferably one with a car) and follow these tips. Before you know it, your typical winter break will be transformed into a snowy adventure to remember.

Choose a destination

What’s the best part of winter? Snow, of course. And there are plenty of places perfect for a winter getaway in the Northeast. So head over to the Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania or the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York (or just about anywhere in Vermont) and you’ll be sure to see a blanket of snow calling your name. Plus, all of these locations are known for their easy-access skiing and snowboarding, and for those slightly less athletic, they have tubing and sledding.

Start looking early

You knew you had to be 18 to vote and 21 to drink, but what you probably didn’t know is that most places require you to be 25 to rent. So starting earlier ensures there are more homes available whose owners don’t mind renting to young adults.

Find a place to stay

Once you’re set on the location, say your thanks to the Internet, because within seconds you’ll have access to listings of hundreds of homes available to rent in the location of your choice.  Sites like homeaway.com, vacationrentals.com and vrbo.com are recommended because they’re easy to use and reliable. Be cautious when choosing a hotel; not only are they more expensive, but they are also a lot less fun. Hotels will tie you down with noise constraints and specific meal times, while a house will give you the freedom to blast the music all night and cook a meal whenever the mood strikes.

Find some friends

As the old saying goes, the more the merrier, and in this case it’s definitely a lot cheaper. Most homes will cost anywhere from $1500 to $2500 for a week; find nine friends and you’ll each only be paying around $150 to $250, which means you’ll be getting a week’s stay for the cost of one night in a hotel. Plus, with so many people, there will never be a dull moment.

Check out attractions

While snowboarding and skiing are tons of fun, after a couple of days you will be cold and sore, so check out what else the area has to offer. Get adventurous and head to a shooting range where you can shoot at targets and test your aim. If you’d rather shoot at people, check out paintballing; you can get decked out in camouflage, grab a gun and run trough the forest “attacking” your opponents. If you’re looking for some low-key adventure, check out the closest stable and try out horseback riding. When you’ve had enough of the outdoors, head over to the nearest movie theater or bowling alley.

Plan Ahead

It’s a good idea to find a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club on your way to stock up on food. These stores have great variety and since you’re buying in bulk, you’re sure to save. Also make sure to pack some board games. It may seem cheesy, but they are a great way to pass the time. You can turn to the classics such as Monopoly or Clue, or spice things up with one of the many games geared towards adults such as Fact or Crap. And if all else fails, grab some Solo cups and do what we college kids do best.

So get online, find a house and pack your bags, because this spring semester you’ll be the one bragging about an amazing winter break.