5 Tips: Searching for a Vacation Condo

Living Room with TVNo matter what time of year you go on vacation, or if you’re a snowbird looking for that great place to spend your winter; there are a few things that every guest will look for.  So lets just dive right into the top five on the majorities list.


1.)   Location, Location, Location

When scoping out areas to stay in, just as the old saying says, ” you want what you want when you want it”. You want to see the beach as soon as you wake up?  Look for rentals that are directly on the beach and with a nice balcony view. There are condos with nice beach views but some of these places do not offer great beach access.  Great access is walking out your door, taking an elevator down, and when the doors open there’s the beach! Being just a walk or drive ( if you like) away from great coffee, donuts or an evening ice cream.  Great shopping, great restaurants, and fun amusements all within a 2-10 minute drive.


2.)  Cleanliness

When you walk into your “home away from home” for the week, you want to come to a clean place.  Condo owners who charge a cleaning fee, is due to them hiring a third party company to come in to clean and prepare the condo for guests.  That’s a pretty great sign that the place will be top notch, from clean sheets to clean floors.  Seeing a place sparkling clean also tells you that the owners take pride in offering you their place to enjoy.



3.)  Area Attractions and Amenities

Granted you came to the beach for some salt and sand fun-filled days, but what if it’s a rainy day or you just want to take a day to explore?  You want to find out what kind of attractions are in the area, if you have kids they would probably love a fun day riding water-slides, taking a boat to an island, exploring some wacky science knowledge at an area kids museum, or swimming with dolphins at a marina. If you want some evening relaxation off the beach make sure there are pools and hot tubs.  Panama City Beach has a lot to offer and it’ll take more than one vacation to enjoy all that’s here.



4.)  Family Oriented

You’re wanting to have a great family vacation, but not wanting to have your little ones awakened in the middle of the night from the loud life of the party guests.  Some condo’s have age restrictions, smoking bans, and security officers ( to keep the peace and enforce condo rules).  With age restrictions on guests that are allowed to rent, really cuts down on the college parties, teens without adult supervision and all around chaos that you can find in hotels or other condos.  It’s great to be in a place where other guests respect the rules and everyone has a wonderful family vacation.



5.)  Owner’s Who Care  

Finding the right condo for your needs is challenging enough. That is why it’s great when owners offer you a contact number to answer any questions that can not be answered through a website.  Owners want your business, they want you to come back again and again, they want to hear that your experience was a great one and if there is something amiss then let them know. Of course always remember that they are human too and can only do so much, so be careful with making unrealistic demands or dislikes that are out of their control.


So now you have a few tips to get you started on your search for that perfect place for your beach vacation.  Right now is the perfect time to start your search as a lot of times availability is open for the following season.


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Destination: Paradise

sandy beachWhen researching for your vacation, what do you look for? What are your top reasons of why you pick the destination that you do?  I know for many the number one reason is location.  Some people will say price is the first factor; others are looking more for what is available for surrounding attractions.  Any of these reasons are a great way to start the planning phase of your vacation, and Google can be your best friend when starting your search.


This week I decided to research the number one destination for Florida vacationer’s in the Panhandle, I already know that Panama City Beach is #1 in my book, but where exactly does PCB land on the Top 10 scales of Google?  It did not take long to find out, I typed in, “best vacation spots in the Florida Panhandle”, and there before me was my answer! Trip Advisor [the top trusted site by vacationer’s] had a numbered list, and PCB was #1 of 2017!  With 27 miles of white, sandy beaches and emerald waters it is a no-brainer that we’d be at the top of the food chain, but what makes us stand out you may ask?  The first thing I noticed was that Trip Advisor shows PCB with 2,846 vacation rentals, Destin with 2,454 and a bit farther down the list, Santa Rosa at 897 rentals.  All along the emerald coast are beautiful places to enjoy your vacation and not all are listed on Trip Advisor; but when first starting out looking for rentals, it is one of the first places people do look.  If you check out the VRBO website there are over 10,000 rentals alone in the PCB area.


Panama City Beach also has a lot more to offer than the surrounding areas when it comes to Gulf view rentals, easy beach access and area attractions.  Not long ago, I was talking with a couple who had been to PCB before and decided to try out Destin their following vacation.  It was beautiful of course, as it is along the whole emerald coast, but it wasn’t what they were hoping for.  The condo they rented was on an inlet to the bay, nothing wrong with inlets but when you want to hear crashing waves or feel the surf crashing against you then an inlet is not where you want to rent.  Since this vacation spot was on this man-made beach and they wanted a natural, wave crashing beach, they had to walk a mile and a half to the actual beach.


Not exactly a fun way to vacation but for some that is what they want. Along 30A there are many beautiful beaches, condos, and great restaurants; really it all comes down to what you want to get out of your own vacation.


Another reason Panama City Beach is at the top of the list, is because there is much more to do than just hanging out at the beach. Another couple that I spoke with, said that they choose PCB over other areas in the Panhandle because of the vast amenities available to them within a very short distance from where they stay. From a day out on the Seascreamer watching for dolphins to a waterpark called Shipwreck Island, where the thrill seeker can indulge those urges to test themselves in fear, are just to name a few activities. PCB offers amazing local restaurants that you can’t find anywhere else, pleasing the palate of food connoisseurs and tons of weekend events that the whole family can participate in.  PCB is no longer known as the place for Spring Break, it is known as the place for a great Vacation, but don’t just take my word for it, read the reviews across the internet, “I have fallen in love” is seen more times over than any other destination review read.  Can’t blame anyone for that, PCB overtakes you and there is no coming back from that.



Information obtained from: TripAdvisor LLC


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Tips for Vacationing on a Budget

FullSizeRenderHere we are with crisp mornings, leaves changing their colors, pumpkin spice everything, sweaters and hoodies! With many of you plugging away at work, school, and fall sports, the last thing you’re thinking about is any type of get away; but honestly this is the best time to begin planning your 2018 vacation.  There are a few tips that I am about to share to help get you started; whether you are living comfortable or money is tight, these tips can be applied to any budget for a vacation.


Picking a Destination

Are you wanting to go to the beach or the mountains? Knowing your destination is key.  Where do you want to stay? Close to area attractions, or away from it all? Do you want to be driving all around on your vacation or able to park your car for most of the time? These are important questions to answer for reasons of cost.  The closer you are to major attractions (i.e. Disney World) the more expensive your condo or hotel will be. Pick a place where you can enjoy a nice walk to a few places if you want; this can save you on gas, as we all know the driving here and there to different places can suck up your gas in no time.


When Do You Want to Be on Vacation?

The majority of families can only go on vacation when school is out, this means from May-August places are booked up and are on the higher end of the price scale.  Have you thought about the fall, spring, or winter breaks?  This is the time when vacation rentals and hotels drop their prices or offer great deals; as it is not a very busy time of the year, and availability is a little more open.


Save a Little Each Payday

So, you have a destination and have rented a condo for that week, now what?  Now it’s time to save those dollars. The best piece of advice given to me was to take a portion of your weekly or bi-weekly paycheck and set that money in an envelope, and DON’T TOUCH IT!Saving from each paycheck builds your vacation funds faster than you think and before you know it you’ve reached your goal.  Maybe take a break from Starbucks and the money you save from that put it in your vacation envelope.  Anytime you have a few extra dollars add it to your envelope, remember every dollar counts.


Set a Daily Spending Limit

A great tip that was given to me was, when first arriving, take the money that will be needed for the drive home (gas, food, any little extras) and set that aside for the week. Next figure out how much money you need on a daily basis for food.  Also, eat out only once a day (for example dinner), figure out what that cost would be (depending on your family size), then buy groceries for eating breakfast and lunch in your place and any snacks to munch on. Food is a big cost on vacation, but one of the easiest ways to save on spending is by limiting how much you eat out.  Pick a few cool activities or places that you would like visit while on vacation; you don’t have to try and do everything, sometimes less is more.


Tourist Traps

One of the biggest money suckers are the tourist traps, roadside attractions, or whatever you may call them.  They are the ones with the biggest advertised deals on souvenirs and t-shirts, and flashy bright signs.  I LOVE THOSE PLACES! We all do, but the reality is your money will be gone! Instead, why not look for some discount tickets for well-known shopping or attractions, ask the locals what are some good places to visit or eat.  They usually have a pretty good idea of what is worth your money and what is not.  Take it from me, who spent $60 on admission to a place because it said NASCAR Race complex and thought how cool! Only for the place to be closing at 8pm, and our two-year-old son could only enjoy about 3 rides (that is,once I found a staff member to run the ride). In hindsight, that place was only worth about $20.  I decided to go on Google to look this place up and yes, many people had commented that it was a tourist trap.  So, if you see a place check it out first on google, and read the comments of previous visitors, because it just might save you a few dollars.


These are just a few small tips to help get you started in the right direction; but the savings from these tips, can also give you a few more dollars in your pocket.  Money is important on vacation, but so is having a memorable time with your family. So, save, spend wisely, and pick just a few things to do each day and enjoy the memories you’re making.



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A Snowbird’s Paradise

FullSizeRender (1)If you have heard the term “snowbird”, then you know this endearing term is applied to our retired friends that travel from the cold, northern states (and Canada) to our nice, warm, beachy climate.  You know, when the skies are grey and cold up north, while down here in Panama City Beach, the skies are crystal blue with the sun shining bright.  As you may know, cold winter months can be very depressing and the best way to help with that, is by heading to the warm sunny beaches; especially for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, the Florida sun can help improve these symptoms.


The snowbird season officially kicks off in January and ends the beginning of March.  Temperatures in PCB are usually within the high to mid-sixties and nightly lows in the mid to upper forties; to the locals this is pretty chilly but for the snowbirds this is paradise.  There isn’t a lot of swimming in the gulf during this time of year as water temps are chilly; but walking along the beach is still just as therapeutic as it is any other time of the year. Many condo resorts offer heated pools and hot tubs for those that love to swim or just relax, some also offer tennis courts and everyone’s favorite…. shuffleboard.  For the avid golfer there are three major golf courses, and from what I hear… very nice (four to five stars) and well maintained.  It’s hard to beat a birdie shot with a view of the beach, am I right or what?


PCB loves their snowbirds and when arriving you will see welcoming billboard signs as you drive in, and the red carpet rolling out with the Homecoming Dance on January 23, 2018.  This event will be held at the Laketown Wharf Resort located at 9902 S. Thomas Dr. in PCB from 4-9pm.  On February 13, 2018 Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort will hold its annual Senior Prom from 4-9pm.  So, ladies, while your men are out golfing, you can be out with the gals shopping for this fancy event (not like us ladies really need a reason to shop) in Pier Park or the Outlet Mall in Destin.


January and February are filled with so many different activities; with clubs to join, craft shows to participate in or attend, and parties in the evenings that you won’t have time for those winter blues.  For information on snowbird events and activities you can visit www.visitpanamacitybeach.com and start enjoying your winter at the Real. Fun. Beach.


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Information obtained from:

Visit Panama City Beach



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