Want to have a wonderful 30A beach vacation?

Here’s a step-by-step plan for 1st time visitors.

After being a happy, repeat guest at several of their rental homes, Grayt 30A Beach Vacations asked us to share our steps to having an excellent beach vacation. South Walton has spectacular beaches and plenty to do, but instead of listing activities, it seemed to me like vacation success starts with a plan. So here’s a good one that starts well before you get there. 

IMHO, the management company is your first consideration, because while you can go through any booking process online, by booking with an established, local company, you are dealing with real humans who know the area and you can actually speak to them. Grayt 30A Beach Vacations have very helpful people. Through the years, they have also become friends. And booking direct saves money!  

Next, which beach town suits you? Some are private, resort-type communities like Watercolor or Seaside with amenities like a beach club, community pools, etc. Some are more organically grown neighborhoods, like Grayton and Seagrove, which are a bit less structured. Need details on the unique beach neighborhoods, check out SoWal.com. They also list a very useful calendar of events. 

Another consideration is how far the house is to the beach.  You will definitely want to be able to walk or take a bike to the beach. But what else? Is there a pool close by or a place to walk or bike, have a good meal, buy groceries, shop? If you can walk or bike to the beach, chances are good you will have all of the above. Most cottages have either a private pool or a community pool. Some can be heated for an extra charge.

The configuration of the house is also important. You know what they say about momma being happy? Well, if the family is happy, there’s a good chance momma will be happy. Think about things like who will end up sharing a room. Is there a place for the baby's crib, or a CPAP; is the dining room table big enough for family meals? Is there a quiet place to read? What about parking? If you have several cars, plan ahead. Don’t waste vacation time trying to find more parking. 

Once you are ready to book, consider rental insurance and be clear on cancellation policies. It might not seem like it will make your vacation happier, but it might should something come up. Clearly, stuff happens. 

Once you book, there’s a bit more due diligence to move you toward a successful vacation.

Think ahead about any reservations you may need. Some homes come with beach gear credits. Make arrangements for gear like bikes, chairs, SUP boards, fish charters, diving excursions, beach bonfires, and beach chair set-ups before you get there. 

What amenities are at the house? Grayt 30A Beach Vacations provides a comprehensive description. Do you need to bring beach towels (probably yes), toiletries (probably no)? You might want to eat before you check-in or bring in dinner as well as breakfast items for the 1st morning. The grocery store is close but can get very busy on check-in day. Mid-day, the following day, is better. 

Read the pre-check-in correspondence that will come to you periodically via email. Watch for the check-in instructions and entry codes emailed to you just before your arrival date. Have everyone take a photo of the codes and passwords. Do plan to check-in at 4pm and check-out at 10am. Housekeepers have a whole house to clean and need all of that time to get it clean for you and for the family after you.

Finally, to ensure your vacation is as good as it possibly can be, and this is really important: Don’t try to do everything or force anything. Something unexpected will likely happen. Roll with it, relax, enjoy. It’s the beach. You are going to have a great time.

Read about what it was like at Off the Bucket List, the cottage we were delighted to stay at in Seaside.

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