Officially known as the “Sunshine State,” Florida boasts over 663 miles of beaches and 11,000 miles of rivers, streams and waterways. The sun shines more than 300 days per year and the weather is nearly perfect year round; although temperatures have been known to drop into the low 30s during winter months. Often referred to as “Paradise”, it’s easy to see why Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States. www.travelrows.com
One of the best ways to explore Florida’s beaches is to rent a beach house. With all the comforts of home, renting a beach house allows you the comfort of home living and eliminates the hassles and frustrations oftentimes associated with hotel accommodations. However, there are some things you need to know before you rent a beach house.
Tip #1: When planning your Florida vacation, take time to do your homework. Decide what area(s) you will visiting and become familiar with the different beaches. Not all beach house rentals are the same, so it is critical to know where desirable locations are. You want to choose a beach house rental that is safe and well maintained.
Tip #2: When looking for a beach house rental in Florida it’s important to realize that the term “beach” means different things in different locations. For instance, beaches can be on bays rather than oceans. It’s important to clarify exactly where the property is located when responding to ads that use terms such as “ocean view”, “steps to the beach”, or “beach accessibility”. Scrutinize these terms and obtain clarity before acceptance of any rental agreement. Google Earth is a great resource to obtain satellite views of beach house rental locations.
Tip #3: Vacation with friends and share expenses. Many Florida beach house rentals accommodate up to 10 or more people. These larger homes oftentimes provide extra amenities such as swimming pools, Jacuzzis, spas, golf courses, and community clubhouses. Most beach house rentals are attractively furnished and include basic amenities such as cooking appliances and cookware, linens and towels, televisions, stereos, telephones, and Internet access.
Tip #4: Most Florida beach house rentals are offered by private individuals or property management organizations and can be rented daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or for an entire season. Most beach house rentals can be found by searching the Internet or through advertisements in local newspapers and travel magazines. To locate local newspapers type in “US Newspaper List” at your favorite search engine. Additionally, people frequently turn to “Craig’s List” as a source for beach house rentals all across the U.S.
Tip #5: When renting a beach house from a private individual, plan on spending time conversing with the individual and ask a lot of questions. Obtain a list of references and contact them. Find out if pets or smoking are allowed. If you are a smoker, find out if indoor smoking is allowed, as some property owners will retain your security deposit if you smoke inside. If you are not a smoker, be certain to obtain a guarantee that the house is smoke-free. Many non-smokers have allergies to cigar and cigarette smoke and you don’t want to rent a house that has allowed indoor smoking. The same holds true for pets. If you are allergic to animals, make certain that no animals have been allowed in the rental home.
Tip #6: Once you decide upon your beach house rental, obtain a written contract that clearly states the terms. Generally, a security deposit is required within 10 days from the date you make the reservation and final payment is due two weeks prior to arrival. Many beach house rental properties require a deposit equal to or greater than the weekly rental. Although this deposit is generally refundable, there are a few renters who do not refund it. Additionally, some renters charge a higher deposit and rental rate for individuals with pets, children and smokers.
Tip #7: Make certain your contract includes a written confirmation of your travel dates, the amount of the beach rental, time of arrival and check-out, cancellation fee, and exactly what is covered. For example, does the beach rental include a boat dock or marina or will that be a separate expense? Will you receive a refund if a hurricane or other natural disaster occurs before you plan to arrive? Are house cleaning expenses covered or do you need to clean the house prior to departure?
Tip #8: Be aware of local laws. Depending on where you plan to stay during your visit to Florida, it’s a good idea to research the area and familiarize yourself with local laws. Some beaches allow pets, while others do not. Some beaches allow people to smoke, while others charge a hefty fine if you light up. Regardless of where you stay; if you plan to engage in fishing, you’ll need a fishing license.
Tip #9: Be aware of environmental laws. Different locations throughout Florida are home to various species of protected wildlife. These include manatees, panthers, and multiple species of frogs, turtles, corals, crustaceans, and fish. There are also laws which apply to fishing. Certain fish are off-limits, while others must be a certain length or caught only during specific months. If you catch and keep these fish, you can be charged with fines of up to $500 or more.
Tip #10: Be aware of your environment. Florida is full of plants and wildlife that can literally kill you or cause you to become seriously ill. Saltwater catfish and jellyfish inject neurotoxins which can quickly send a person into anaphylactic shock. Sharks frequently visit shorelines and tend to congregate in reef areas and areas where surfers like to catch waves. Florida is home to numerous venomous snakes including rattlesnakes, copperhead, cottonmouth and coral snakes. Last but not least, Florida experiences outbreaks of aquatic toxins including Red Tide and Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). These aquatic toxins can be extremely harmful to individuals with respiratory problems.
Tip #11: Rent during the off-season. Many people enjoy renting a beach house when visiting Florida; particularly during the winter months. However, you can save a considerable amount of money if you wait until the off-season to rent. Florida’s off-season falls between May and October, while the peak season falls between November and April.
Tip #12: Invest in travel insurance. Let’s face it… things can go wrong when vacation time rolls around. Even the most carefully laid plans can be interrupted by unexpected illness, travel delay, emergency evacuation, or lost luggage. Trip insurance policies are designed for travelers going on a single trip. They can be used for cruises, tours, flights, house rentals, medical emergencies and more.