Timing The Perfect Family Vacation Can Be Tricky
Juggling multiple schedules, considering the household budget and analyzing seasonal weather conditions all have to be taken into account. In our first piece for this series, we discussed creating a vacation budget. A large portion of that budget relies on the timing of your actual vacation. Let’s look at the timing of a family beach vacation in our area by pointing out specifics, as well as generalizations to consider no matter where you plan your stay.
Your budget is set and there’s enough saved to make your deposit or pay for your accommodations in full. You decide on taking the kids to the beach but you can’t decide when to book your stay. Oceanfront vacation rentals usually start booking in January and February for Prime Season (typically between Memorial Day and Labor Day) stays. However, many repeat renters book as far out as a year in advance so it’s never too early to get that dream house on the books.
Flexibility with dates (and flexibility in your rental) can be essential to some vacationers. If your family can travel outside of Prime Season dates, you can often score significantly discounted rates with smaller crowds and lower traffic counts while the weather and water is still warm. If your rental allows nightly rentals, your family can take a modified vacation from Thursday to Sunday to save on time missed from school/work as well as money. If you possess some flexibility, it may be worth a bit of research or a call into your rental agent to find out (1) when Prime Season is and (2) if there are any flexible rental options with specific homes.
While on the phone with your agent, ask questions about local events. They should alert you to any large festivals or annual celebrations which could significantly impact your vacation (both monetarily- and comfort-speaking). For example, Southport is home to the NC 4th of July Festival. With the celebration, the area sees an influx of an additional 50,000 people – most of which are renters. The excitement and crowds may be right up your alley; however, your family may decide to steer clear of the traffic and limited availability.
Items to Consider When Booking Your Beach Rental
1. When do you want to take your vacation? Are you restricted to taking your vacation when the kids are out of school or when your work is slower?
2. Do you have any flexibility in the timing/dates of your vacation? How many nights can you stay?
3. Are any events or festivities going on in the area during your stay?
4. Are there stipulations on booking? Does the home rent nightly or weekly?
5. Do you have time to save for your vacation by the time you plan to take the actual vacation?
1. Research the area. Visit travel sites like TripAdvisor, review sites like Yelp and Google, and browse social media sites like Facebook for suggestions or reviews during certain time frames (Prime Season versus Off-Season).
2. Contact your rental agent. Ask for suggestions on timing, if there are any events going on when you plan to travel and how to accommodate traveling at that time.
3. Find out if the rental you choose does nightly or weekly rentals. Staying nightly could save money and time for your family. Staying for a shorter time period may allow your family to take multiple mini-vacations.
4. Book early, or as soon as your budget allows. You may benefit from an early booking discount.
5. Sign up for email communications from your local rental agent. You’ll receive area news, current specials and discounts, as well as other pertinent local information.
6. Book direct and save money!
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When does your family usually vacation? What are some things that restrict your timing, i.e., school or work schedules? Do you take multiple mini-vacations or one longer trip? Let us know in the comments.