When our twins were little we took a trip to the Maritimes — they had just turned one, and it was our first experience on a real family vacation. The first night, I remember my husband and I crouching in our hotel bathroom with some takeout and a bottle of wine I’d packed (wise advice from parent friends who’d been there, done that) while the twins slept. When they were babies, this was the only way to get a moment of privacy (or converse with the lights on) after 8 pm. And although traveling with our kids is fun, what’s not as fun now is that they are nine. That means it is four of us sharing one bathroom and trying to navigate the sleeping setup.

When my son and daughter have had to share a bed, he will “sleep on the porch”, meaning at the very bottom edge of the bed, since his sister is known for sprawling out. It’s also a challenge to have so much togetherness if the four of us are constantly in one room together. So when we were planning a trip to the Finger Lakes I discovered the Plum Point Lodge, a beautiful getaway on Lake Seneca. The property has standard motel rooms, as well as six yurts, circular tent-like structures set back from the main part of the lodge.

STAFF PHOTO/Family fun at Lake Seneca

I had heard of glamping before (read: glamorous camping experiences) but figured that was something you did on a romantic weekend getaway or a girls’ trip, not a family vacation. But as I explored a little more I began to see how a fancy tent could actually take our family trip to the next level.

The yurts here are furnished with a queen bed, a futon, and a private bathroom including a shower, toilet and vanity. And in case you think we were roughing it, the yurts also had ceiling fans, space heaters, cable tv and spotty WiFi. The campfires outside the yurts looked like the perfect place for a family gathering and the outdoor pool and amazing lake views sealed the deal. I booked two yurts for the length of our trip.

When I told the twins that we were staying in a yurt they were beyond excited that they were going to “have their own house.” Of course, I did worry about leaving them alone in their own structure overnight, but our yurt would be right next to theirs, I rationalized.

STAFF PHOTO/So close, what could possibly go wrong?

When we arrived for our visit, everyone was thrilled by the beautiful lake and the amazing yurts. My son opted to sleep on the futon in the kids’ yurt and my daughter got the bed. After a full day of exploring the beautiful parks in the area including Watkins Glen and having dinner at Grist Iron Brewing Company (a fun place with great craft beer, tons of family-friendly games and an epic view of Lake Seneca) our routine was to come back to our yurts, and when it was time for bed, tuck the twins in and bid adieu until the morning.

Staying in a yurt was a great way to have an experience that was close to nature without forgoing the comforts of a hotel room. But more than that, it was a way for my husband and I to get a little bit of alone time at the end of the day, and a way to foster a sense of independence in the kids.

STAFF PHOTO/Family travel can instill independence.

If we had stayed in a regular motel room I’m not sure the twins would remember it. This trip taught me that travel with kids can be fun and exciting and that it’s so worth it to try something a little out of the ordinary. Our first “glamping” experience was certainly one I’ll never forget.

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