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I have made a habit when I'm traveling of seeking out really unusual accommodations. This little practice has given my family the opportunity of sleeping in an authentic covered wagon, in a hotel room with a loft, campsites with trees the kids can crawl under, and more.
And that is how we found ourselves sleeping in this real-life tipi! Let me share with you 2 things I've learned about tipis and then tips on finding your own unique lodging...
Tipi Teaching #1
Connecting With the World
It wasn't until all the kids were in bed and I myself laid down that I discovered this one. Laying on my back, looking out the small oval shaped opening at the top of the tipi, the dark night sky seemed to come to life with white stars filling it up with their glow. I was mesmerized. I couldn't look away. Suddenly I felt myself transported back two centuries to a time when Native Americans without shopping malls and video games and soccer games spent all their day surviving on what the out-of-doors provided them, and then laying down at night to reflect on the Almighty Spirit that provided it for them. Looking out that small opening into that large sky put in perspective my small speck on the eternities and a new emphasis on what I am to accomplish here.
Tipi Teaching #2
Check the Weather Forecast
Our trip last week to the tipi was completely spur of the moment. So when it started drizzling at 6am on our first night of sleeping, we had an unexpected problem. I played brave mom to go out in the rain and close the opening as much as I could, but the poles still had to stick out and so a small amount of water could still get in. I thought the water would be coming straight down so if we moved everything to the perimeter of the tipi, we'd be safe and dry to wait out the rain. Wrong! Instead, the water droplets hit the wood poles and then traveled down them until gravity decided it was her turn to take hold of the little stream. Our perimeter became narrower and narrower as the water started dripping in a wider and wider circle.
Want to find a tipi (or some other cool place) for your family to stay in? Here are a few tips to get you on your way...
~Be Willing to Go A Little Out of the Way
Most of the time the restored 1950's AirStream or lighthouse bed and breakfast are not going to be on the main drag or in the middle of tourist mecca. This tipi was about an hour from our main destination. Expand the perimeter of your search and be willing to go there when you come across that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
~Don't Let the Price Scare You Away
The truth is that unusual accommodations are usually going to be a little more expensive than a cookie cutter chain hotel. When you weigh the pros and cons against your holiday budget, make sure you consider the value of your kids bragging to their friends about the treehouse they stayed in over the summer and the grin from your spouse when he realizes you've struck gold once again. Think of it this way, as well...the higher price usually comes with the added benefit of not needing to sanitize everything before you touch it.
~Make it a Surprise
This is my favorite part. If the family thinks you're going camping and then you pull up to a rustic cabin or a yurt or a glamping tent, the expression on their faces will be priceless. If you've been staying in resort hotels for days and then pull up to 2-story bed and breakfast shaped like a dog, you'll love hearing shrieks of , "We're going to stay in that!?!" coming from the backseat. These are the moments that become family vacation memories. I promise you'll never regret the work it takes to make them!
Where is the most unusual place you have stayed?
This tipi is at the Lena, IL, KOA and rents for approx. $40/night.
There are websites dedicated to unique lodging,
but some of our favorite odd finds have come
from simply google searching unique lodging
in the area we are visiting.
All of the examples used in this post are real places you can stay.
Use your imagination when you're looking!