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Tennessee Cabin Trip

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Best tips for your first cabin trip.

For the last five years, a cousins' cabin trip has been a regular occurrence in our family. Each time is different - we choose a different location, do different activities, and have different scenery to enjoy. This year, we found the perfect rental vacation home in Tennessee, right outside Gatlinburg, via Vrbo.

Location: Sevierville, TN; Adventure 360 at the Summit

This year, we agreed to make it a family getaway to Tennessee and for the first time, bring along the kids!!!! Usually we keep it adults-only, because hey, we can use a mini-break too. To say the kids had a blast would be an understatement. They LOVED every minute of it!!! And what made me so happy, was that even though we kept the activities simple and it was a low-key, chill getaway, they still enjoyed it. Our family was first to arrive (more on that in a sec) and soon as our kids stepped foot, they wanted to run wild through the house. No need to stop them.

Now, for any of you that have never been on a cabin trip, I do have a few lessons and tips to share with you from our own experiences over the years.

First, you better know and trust whatever map/driving guide you use to help get you to your location. Most cabins are in remote locations, somewhat off the grid, because that's the whole point of the cabins - to get away. I would HIGHLY recommend using Waze. We did not. Waze will use the best recommended route, which tends to be the safe and/or popular route to take. The driving system we used (shall remain nameless) took us through "the death trap, Jasonville, turn left at your own risk, lose Wi-fi, ready to fall off the cliff at any second" route, which according to the system, was the fastest route to take to the cabin's address. Never will I ever. I was in the car on the verge of tears, but I tried not too for the sake of the kids. Hence, how we quickly learned and now advise to know and trust your mapping guide system. Promise I'm not trying to scare you.

However, I will say once we turned into the neighborhood of the cabin homes, I quickly forgot about the trauma that just unfolded and took in all the beauty and scenery around me - from the beautiful homes to the amazing mountaintop view.

In addition, recommend arriving before it gets dark. Again, oftentimes the roads, especially the higher up you go, become very narrow and there's no side railing, so for safety and comfort reasons, better to still be able to see the roads in daylight.

Check the weather. Be prepared to stay longer if severe storms (i.e. snow, ice) are expected to occur. We went when there was an anticipated snow/ice storm for Tennessee and Georgia. We had already booked prior to the change in the weather forecast. Thankfully, we were able to make it down the mountain in time, but we had to drive all the way back to Georgia in rain and snow showers. I packed extra so if we needed to stay at a hotel overnight, we were ready.

In the warmer seasons, rental properties will oftentimes advise you about their seasonal "friends" that come in or around the cabin during that time of year. One year on our trip, we experienced a cabin takeover of ladybugs everywhere.

So come prepared for the changes that occur in each season.

Book early. Especially if you're trying to go during holiday times or when most schools are on breaks, (1) prices are higher and (2) they may require a certain minimum number of nights you have to stay. We wanted a two night stay and most rentals were requiring three nights, so it took us awhile to find a great booking for two nights.

Read the fine print to your reservations. Some rentals don't allow refunds for cancellations. Know your cut-off timelines to cancel, if needed due to inclement weather or these days, Covid, and what, if any, percent of your payment can be refunded. Also, most cabin rentals have a list of instructions you have to do on check-out day. That can range from: setting the thermostat to a certain degree, specific location to put all towels and sheets, emptying all the trash, etc.

From the beginning of planning your trip, be transparent and set expectations to everyone invited about costs and deadlines. Some costs may include the rental fees to be split up among everyone, any food/drinks-related expenses, any shared activity expenses, etc. Most of those expenses have to be paid in advance to reserve, so just be sure to communicate and ensure things are fair across the group. It's always gone so smooth and seamless for us when we approach it this way.

Most importantly, go with the people that you can have fun with and can be yourself. You're in a remote and secluded environment. Oftentimes, we have open and deep conversations, but we also make it fun and let loose. We always throw some kind of in-house party. This year, we did a '90's Celebrity Couples' themed party. My husband and I dressed up as Dame Dash and Aaliyah. Even all the kids got into the fun as being the judges at the party, judging best dressed and best performance.

Cabin trips have always been a fav for us and our families. Sharing with you all below, some of the links we've used in the past, including most recent, to find and reserve our cabin bookings:

Hope you find some of these tips and information helpful for you. Drop any questions you have for me down below.

For those that have gone to the cabins before, what are some tips or lessons learned from those trips?


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