For much of us, going on a beach vacation is what we wait all year for. I mean, come on, who doesn’t like to relax on the beach, soak up the sun and enjoy the endless views and amazing breeze?
Coming to the beach might be your dream all year long, but actually making it happen can really put a ding on the savings account. With real estate values rising and rental rates going up, it can seem like coming to the beach just costs more and more each year.
Since we are actually in the Beach Vacation Rental business, let me share with you how you can save BIG on your next beach vacation!
Start Early or Wait Until the Last Minute
The first easy way to save big on your next beach vacation is to start early. I know, I know, planning far in advance can be tricky with a small, medium or large family.
There are so many things to consider:
Future unplanned tournaments for the kids
Unpredictable work schedules
The anticipation of other life-events
But if you can buckle down and identify your target vacation dates, most companies will generously offer huge discounts to get your reservation locked in. Depending on the time of year, we sometimes offer up to 25% off on reservations made for the following year (excluding late June and all of July of course!).
For property managers and rental property owners, each reservation is a lot of work, and the more we can get booked now, the more we’re ahead for the next rental season when it comes!
And as an extra incentive, most companies have really flexible cancellation policies that help ease your mind when making the decision to book a rental property to the Fort Walton Beach – Navarre Beach area. For example, except for a small admin fee, we offer a full refund on all cancellations that are 21 days or more out from the arrival date. So you can book now, save now, and have the flexibility to change later if you should need to.
Examples of starting early/waiting until the last minute are:
Book 6 months or more in advance
Book for next summer, this summer or fall
Last minute is usually between 1 to 4 weeks out
Closer to the arrival date, the more flexible we are on price
Being flexible is another huge way to save big when planning a beach vacation. Even in the peak summer months, those that have rental properties on the Emerald Coast are looking to fill availability gaps. And those gaps we’re trying to fill can save you money when you come to the beach!
Some examples of gaps we’ve seen in which we’ve offered amazing discounts to guests are:
An owner blocks their property for use outside the conventional schedule (e.g. Saturday to Saturday)
We end up with an arrant 2-4 night gap in between two other reservations
A last minute cancellation comes up
The best way to save by being flexible is to tell the person you’re working with that your dates are flexible, you just want the best price on the best rental property. Tell them you would like to come in August or September, for example, and that you can stay anywhere from 5 to 7 nights, and you’re willing to fill in some gaps, etc.
Best ways to be flexible are:
Look on availability calendar for odd-date gaps (e.g. Monday – Saturday)
Bookmark a few properties you’re interested in and regularly check their calendar, watch for openings
Give your booking representative a date range, specifying that you’re just looking for the best deal
Ask your representative when they can give you the best deal on accommodations and go with that recommendation
Save Your Trip for the Fall or Another Shoulder Season
It should come as no surprise that rental rates are heavily dictated by school schedules. It’s economics 101.
Demand goes up, supply goes down, price goes up
Demand goes down, supply goes up, price goes down
This is why the first two weeks of June can usually be had at a better deal than the second two weeks of June. In the first two weeks, some schools are still getting out, but in the second two weeks, it’s likely all the schools are out and people are craving a beach vacation!
If you have flexible school schedules or perhaps you home-school, coming late April, early May, or late August (excluding Labor Day) or September is the best time of year to come to the beach in terms of saving money.
And if you want to really enjoy the beach, September and October are the best times of year in Northwest Florida because not only are the rates down, the weather is typically beautiful and the water pristine (and still warm).
November through the end of January is the absolute least expensive time of year to come to the Emerald Coast. However, all of the seasonal-only shops and attractions are closed and the weather is too chilly to bask in the sun or play in the water.
Most affordable times to visit the Emerald Coast are:
Late summer – August – the later in August, the cheaper
Fall – September, October – although, October stays pretty busy with fall breaks – September is by far the least in-demand for the fall
Winter, comprised of November through end of February – November-January is the least expensive time and most likely to work a deal
Late Spring – Late April and early May (after Easter and before Memorial Day)
This is just three of the best ways I know how you can save big on your next beach vacation. Please tell us in the comments below some of the ways you save when you come to the Emerald Coast.