Have you ever experienced one of those long-anticipated family vacations where after day 4, you’re counting the days till you leave? Have you ever opened the door to your carefully chosen, week-long refuge and been assaulted with the smell of cleaning agents mixed with the musty hotel room aroma? Want to avoid the beach vacation from hell? With a little planning and a well-balanced vacation mindset, you and your family can bring back fabulous and fun-filled memories. Consider renting a single family home for a true home-away-from-home experience.

On the web you can easily locate homeowners who rent their beach cottages and vacation homes by the week. You can find any style or size of home to suit your needs in just about any location around the world. In fact, just dream about your dream vacation home and you can probably find it for rent. Use these tips to help you avoid some common pitfalls when researching possible beach home rentals.

Choose all the basics first. Narrow down your preferred beach location. Figure out how many bedrooms and bathrooms will give you enough space to feel comfortable and give you a little privacy. How many beds will you need; who can sleep together; who needs his/her own space? Will you bring your own linens or can you do just fine using “local” linens? Figure out how many TV’s are important. Is there a large enough room for a designated “kids” room?

Calculate your budget. Keep in mind the daily rate you’re willing to spend. Many times, you can rent a whole house for less than you would spend on multiple hotel rooms. If you can split the costs with another family, you’ll save even more.

Photos always lie. Ok, maybe that’s too strong. But photos may give you lots of clues if you carefully examine them before choosing your beach paradise. While photos usually show the best features of a home, they could conveniently eliminate the worst features.

Ask lots of questions.

  1. Does the furniture look like cast offs from grandma’s house?
  2. Are the bed linens fresh looking and up to date?
  3. Are there at least a few (but not too many) decorative accessories?
  4. How old are the bathrooms?
  5. What are the views like from each floor?
  6. Are there decks for lounging?
  7. Is there enough parking for our cars?
  8. Can our whole crew sit down to eat in one central place?
  9. How far is the beach?
  10. Do I have to cross a superhighway to get there?
  11. Can I hear the waves from my bedroom?
  12. Does the beach photo show the closest beach to the home or a beach that’s miles away?

The old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover” is important here. While curb appeal is nice for your own home, it’s less important in a vacation home. What counts for your family’s comfort is on the inside.

Eating in or eating out? With a beach home rental, you have the choice. You might decide to eat breakfast and lunch at home and eat dinner out. A little planning ahead can at least give you an idea of what your grocery list should be when you arrive.

Who is the local contact? Whatever home you choose, be sure there is a local contact responsible for the home. Some homeowners live hundreds of miles from their vacation homes. A local contact knows a plumber to unstop a toilet or how that quirky door lock works. Vacation homes can have issues too.

Plan your activities ahead. Will you rent bikes, kayaks, or fishing gear? Can you bring your own boat and is there room to store it nearby, or on site? What are the possibilities for day trips and what kind of evening activities are most likely? Does the home come equipped with DVD’s, music CD’s, games, and a book library? Do you need high speed internet access or can you use a local web cafe?

What is the beach like –white sand, brown sand, pebbles, rocks? Is there shelling or surf fishing? Are there strong undercurrents, large waves or is it a calm beach? Every beach has its own unique personality. Are there jellyfish, coral beds or other natural wonders that might just require an impromptu doctor’s visit? Check out the local tide charts to be sure you’ll still have some beach left at high tide. On many beaches you have to plan your sun time based on tidal time.

Planning ahead and asking the right questions will help avoid the beach vacation from hell. Bringing an added dose of flexibility will help too. Not every beach home will measure up to your exact standards, so remember, you’re only living there for a week or two. But, if you’ve done your planning well, it’ll be a vacation to remember. And, you’ll be hooked on houses versus hotels for your next trip.

By Harriet

Leave a Reply