Taking your kids anywhere on vacation is a lot of work; thus, you need to take the precautions and make the preparations that will keep the entire trip, from departure to return, safe, sane, and fun for all, especially when renting a beach house.
1. Double-Check The Proximity To The Beach
If you're lugging a cooler, picnic basket, a few surfboards and towels, and other items, you want to make sure you don't have to travel too far. Even though some beach houses advertise a great view and "quick" trip to the water, make sure it's not a major hike. If it turns out the house you're interested in is a distance from the beach, you can at least plan for it, by having a wheeled tote on hand.
2. Find Out If The Sleep Capacity Means Someone's On A Sofa
Ads may indicate a certain house "sleeps" a certain amount of people; however, that doesn't necessarily mean all sleepers will have their own rooms. While some members of your family may be okay snoozing on a sofa, others may not. It may also be a good idea to keep certain children who tend to wander to the fridge or other fun places behind closed doors or in a room with someone who can keep an eye on them. Additionally, for grownups with back or other health issues that mandate comfortable sleep arrangements, a sofa may not be suitable.
3. Know Where You Can Do Laundry
Depending on the length of your stay, doing laundry may be a matter of necessity; thus, you'll need to know if there are facilities on-site or where the closest laundromat is. Plan for this by having your family's favorite detergent on hand to avoid possible sensitive skin issues, especially since you'll all likely be smothered in sunscreen most of the time.
4. Inquire About Stairs And Other Safety Issues
If your children are young, ask the agent about any stairs, lofts, high seawalls, and other possible hazards. Find out, too, if your swimming area will have lifeguards and/or life-jackets for your family's safety. You may need to bring a baby gate, baby-proof cabinet locks, and maybe even your home baby monitor if your tots are prone to getting into everything. Some rentals boast of having everything a family could possibly require for a great stay, which would be wonderful, but it's best to know for certain rather than to be unprepared.
5. Ask Your Rental Agent For Directions, Not Your GPS
Beach house rentals are often tucked away along winding, unmarked roads that even Google doesn't know about. Therefore, it's in your best interest to obtain specific driving instructions from someone who knows the area well. Your rental agent can let you know if a dirt road doesn't have a street sign or construction has an entrance blocked — things a GPS may not tell you.
6. Know The Area, Including Weather
Some places are more geared toward grownups than children and since this is an important fact for you, the area you vacation in should reflect it. Crime, too, may influence the fun you'll all have, making it essential that you know the neighborhood. While different locations all have a lot to offer beach lovers, the weather, local nuances, and other factors all affect the enjoyment of a family vacation. Know when and where hurricanes are likely and respect the fact that Mother Nature can ruin anyone's vacation in an instant.
7. Inspect The Beach House On Arrival And Document Anything You May Be Held Responsible For
During the busy season, a beach house can see many guests come and go and some may not be as neat, tidy, and respectful as you. Since you'll be paying some sort of cleaning fee and/or deposit, it's a good idea to inspect the home as soon as you arrive, checking as many things as you can think of, such as cracks in windows, burn marks on carpets, missing remote-controls and lawn or garden damage. Take a few pictures, if you don't like the condition of anything, then shoot your agent a quick and friendly text regarding your concerns. In all likelihood, a big deal won't be made about anything; however, if some damage did escape inspection from the last visitors, at least you won't be liable.
8. Read Your Rental Contract
Rental agents may be knowledgeable and friendly, though that doesn't mean they can answer every hypothetical question, especially if it's never asked. What happens if inclement weather cancels your vacation? Under what circumstances is your deposit forfeited? Can you tack on a few days to your rental agreement if your family just can't bear to leave the beautiful beach house just yet? Read your contract, as well as making a list of questions for your rental agent.
Renting a beach house is a fabulous getaway for all, but when you're bringing the kids, you have to plan everything in advance and take the steps needed to avoid the mishaps that can make the vacation all work and no play for you.