Packing for a vacation can be a maddening experience. You spend hours digging through your closets, chests of drawers, and other storage spaces looking for all the right clothes. Then comes the fun part: Trying to pack it all into a suitcase while staying under the weight limit. You surely don’t want to get socked with a surcharge once you arrive at the airline ticket counter.
Throughout this mind-bending exercise, it’s easy to overlook some very important steps that can help make your Arizona vacation go smoother, especially if you suffer a loss. Here are some suggestions to consider before packing your luggage.
1. Buy a backpack. Talk about versatile baggage. Forget that small piece of luggage that comes snuggled inside your main suitcase. A backpack has multiple storage compartments that secure with a zipper, and it easily stores in the overhead bins. Best of all, you can sling it over your shoulder for easy transport.
2. Store your valuables in the backpack during the flight. This will keep them in sight, but also protects them. A 35mm SLR camera and a handheld transceiver (H-T, to you ham radio ops out there), bit the dust on separate trips because I stashed them in the suitcase. Even though I wrapped them in clothing, they still got jostled enough to break. A very costly learning experience.
3. Make photocopies of your passport. Leave one copy at home or with a trusted friend. The others are stashed in your room safe. (If you don’t have access to a safe, hide the paperwork in rolled up clothing.) If your passport is lost or stolen, the sooner you can provide the consulate or embassy with a photocopy, the faster you’ll get a new passport. You may even consider scanning the appropriate page, and leaving that file home. Your contact there can easily e-mail the file, should that become necessary.
Family Vacations - Texas Vacations That Strengthen the Family Ties
Owning a vacation rental can be a very rewarding and profitable venture. It can also be a very difficult, frustrating, and expensive experience if you don't avoid some very basic pitfalls. Some pitfalls to avoid may seem obvious, but are worth repeating. Others may be things you probably have not even considered.
I own five historic Key West vacation rentals, and I market and manage over 50 for other people. I have been in the vacation rental business since 1994, when I turned a property I owned in Key Largo, Florida into my first vacation home. Based on decades of experience, I offer below 8 of the most basic and common property pitfalls to avoid when owning a vacation home. In all the years I've been in this business, I continue to see people make the same mistakes over and over again that could be easily avoided with forethought, better planning, and some professional guidance.
While it's not pleasant to talk about the negative realities of owning vacation rentals, it is my hope that you can learn from the mishaps of others and be able to maximize the benefits of owning your vacation home. Think these through carefully before you 'take the plunge' into ownership of a vacation home.
Don't Buy the Wrong House:
Seem like an obvious statement? Well, the adage 'Hindsight is 20/20' is a good one to ponder ahead of time in this critical first step. I've seen many people 'fall in love' with a house or cottage they find while on vacation themselves, and decide it will make an ideal 2nd home and perfect rental. Be sure you 'knock the romance out of your head' and carefully consider how desirable a property will actually be perceived by potential guests and if you can afford it. First, find out what size and configuration of properties that are most in demand in the area you want to buy. For example, how many bedrooms and bathrooms do most renters seek? Do guests want historic homes, condos, cottages, studios or does it matter? Is a pool important, or a garden? Are you willing and able to make any needed renovations?
Don't forget to Make a Business Plan:
Make a basic business plan and determine if you can make enough money through your rentals to justify the purchase. Get the help of a rental professional and an accountant or financial advisor to create a preliminary plan. Learn how much you can expect to pay to operate your vacation property, and how much you can expect earn in income. Get actual or projected occupancy rates from an established local rental agency. Find out what time of year you can expect to rent your home. Is there a short tourist season, or is there a year around season? Some communities have a high demand for private vacation homes and they command excellent rental rates. But other areas have a glut of unsold homes now being offered as vacation properties, driving rental rates down too low to cover the cost of owning a 2nd home.
Don't Buy a Property in the Wrong Location or Neighborhood:
Carefully research the location, e.g., just because an extra 15 blocks from the center of town or the beach is no big deal to you, this could be too far away and a deal breaker for potential guests. In other words, make sure that the property you buy will be appealing to potential vacationers. And, what do the neighbors think about vacation rentals being operated next to where they live? This has been, and still is, a huge ongoing issue for many communities across the country. Many cities and towns are grappling about whether to allow or restrict short-term rentals. Some neighbors are vehemently opposed to the idea of a 'revolving door of tourists' coming in and out of their neighborhood. Other areas are thrilled to have tourists bringing money into their communities.
Don't Ignore Community Rules and Regulatory Agencies:
As vacation homes have become increasingly popular, many communities have created rules and regulations that restrict and govern property rentals. Contact the community licensing department where you are planning to purchase a vacation property. Find out if there are restrictions on the time and frequency you can rent your home. Find out if you need to purchase a business license or a special transient rental license. Ask if you need to have a health and safety inspection by the city, county, or state. Find out if you need to collect and pay a tourist bed tax and state sales tax. Don't ignore the rules and regulations. In some communities, code enforcement officers scan vacation rental websites in search of properties that are offered as illegal rentals. Getting caught breaking the law unknowingly can be expensive and embarrassing!
Don't Pretend You Can Avoid Renovation and Major Repairs:
Be prepared to accept the fact that owning a successful vacation home means that ongoing quality control becomes a way of life. Unless your property is located in an area where luxury and comfort are disregarded as superfluous, expect to renovate and keep your property to a high quality standard. If you want your rental to be competitive in the vacation market, expect to upgrade you kitchen, bathrooms, replace carpets, floors, decks, porches, windows, repaint, landscape, and put on a new roof when the time comes. In some locations you will need to add a swimming pool or at least a Jacuzzi. Make sure the local building department will allow you to make upgrades. Figure out a time to make needed repairs, and mark off time in your rental calendar to do the work.
Don't Under Estimate the Importance of Housekeeping and Property Maintenance:
Even after your vacation home is upgraded and operating, you must commit to ongoing housekeeping and on-call maintenance services. If you don't provide good housekeeping services and regular property maintenance to keep the property to a quality standard, you will most likely live with constant complaints. And you can expect unhappy guests who may be compelled to write bad reviews about your property on internet vacation travel logs and rental websites. A maintenance person must be on-call to fix the myriad of little things that happen in a house such as clogged toilets, mal-functioning a/c or heaters, swimming pool problems, mal-functioning internet connections, and TV remotes to name a few. The more your property is rented, the more maintenance and housekeeping you need o provide.
Don't Think Your House Can be Successful without Proper Furnishing and Staging:
A common scenario is for new owners of a 2nd home to think they can furnish their property with a hodge-podge of inexpensive garage sale items or discarded personal items. When people do this, they end up with a house that looks like a second-hand store or their own garage sale. If you have a knack for decorating, then go for it. Pick a décor style have fun. It is perfectly acceptable to have a mixture of old and new items, but in the end they all have to work together in a unified style. Buy comfortable furniture - a nice sofa and easy chairs. Choose an attractive micro-fiber fabric, its ideal for vacation homes. Make sure you provide good bed mattresses and the right bed sizes. Most travelers today want king or at least queen size beds. Buy a larger flat screen TV for the living room or den. Unless you have the know-how and the time to do these tasks, hire someone to do them for you. Many furniture stores have staff decorators who offer this service for free.
Don't Believe it is Simple to Successfully Market and Manage Your Vacation Rental:
If you've read this far, you know there is a lot more to owning and operating vacation properties than first meets the eye. With the proliferation of mega vacation rental websites, that make it easy for home owners to advertise their own property, it can seem simpler than it is. There is a lot more to this business than putting up a web page and answering email inquiries and phone calls and keeping an availability calendar. The task of writing rental contracts, collecting money, collecting and paying taxes, staying current with community licensing and rules and regulations, checking guests in and out, providing housekeeping and ongoing maintenance, dealing with complaints, dealing with property damage done by guests, and addressing unhappy neighbors can be daunting. And, I haven't even addressed the demands or creating a successful marketing campaign. In today's market it goes beyond writing good ad copy and providing quality property photos on a website. Be prepared to engage in social media such as Facebook and twitter to reach your potential rental guests.
After all is said and done, owning a vacation rental property can be a very profitable and enjoyable business if you know what you are doing. A sure way to avoid the most common pitfalls is to find and purchase a property that already has an established and successful history as a vacation rental, and hire an established locally operated agency to handle your property. http:/vacationhomesofkeywest.com
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4. Copy any pertinent medical records and prescription information as above.
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When it comes to family reunion vacation planning the sky is the limit. But planning one that's affordable yet fun may seem to be quite a challenge. Not to worry. There are many ways to cut down the expense of family reunion vacations. Here are a number of money saving tips that can reduce costs up to 75%.
1. Book as many attendees as possible for deep discounts based on group rates.
2. Consider using your senior discount privileges where applicable.
3. Google vacation destinations and concentrate of agencies that offer the best rate cuts
4. Use entertainment books that feature destination discount rates and coupons
5. Use travel agencies that are sponsored by the company a family member works for.
Don't Forget The Children
Often family reunions cater to adults. But for your family reunion to be a fun and exciting venture for all it's important to plan a child-friendly event. Children get discounts almost as often and seniors so take a head count. Consider the what activities the children will enjoy. The first step is getting the children involved in the family reunion planning process. Ask the children to create a long list of possible activities all would enjoy.
Family Vacation Resorts
Family vacation resorts are the ideal destination for family reunion events. Best of all there are great price reductions for groups or 10, 20 or more. Everything you need to enjoy a relaxing reunion vacation is just a few steps away. Families can enjoy exotic food, cool down with a flavorful variety of refreshing drinks by sunny pools.
Camping and Nature Trails
For families that love the outdoors nothing could be better than breathing in the cool mountain air at a camp site, taking long hikes along mountain trails and getting cozy in a log cabin warmed by a natural log fire. You'll find great discounts in the fall. Nature lovers are captivated by mysterious caverns, fishing, bird watching, rock climbing and more. Families can take a nature tour by horseback and visit lakes and streams along the way.
City Bus Tours
Luxury bus tours are one of the most inexpensive ways to travel while still enjoying a classy reunion event. What could be more exciting than taking a bus trip to a big city hotel with indoor malls and funky sidewalk shops awaiting your perusal. Visit trendy restaurants and try out a variety of cultural cuisine. Take in a Broadway show and top it all off with breakfast in bed the next morning before checkout.
At A Theme Park
What kid would not enjoy the amazing rides, games, contests and competitions had at one of the popular theme parks, formerly known as amusement parks or water parks. Theme parks feature discount coupons for groups. Theme parks includes all kinds of amusements from roller coasters to outdoor stunt shows with a variety of themes. Want to make sure your kids have a great time? Take them to a theme park and they will be eternally grateful.
Family Reunion Cruises
Now exotic vacations on luxury cruise lines are the in thing for groups determined to relax, be pampered, served while enjoying an unforgettable family reunion. Best of all group packages, last minute booking and off season cruise travel can save you up to 75% off standard costs. Family business meetings can be held in cruise conference rooms and ball rooms. Some of the more popular cruise ships are listed below.
So where to go? Where ever the ocean and seas can take you. Some of the more popular cruise destinations ideal for family reunions are listed below.
Family Reunion Cruise Destinations
South America South Pacific
There is ample space for everyone and it's a whole lot of fun for all ages. It's less work, less planning and a lot more time to enjoy the family. Well planned cruise vacations are economical with more fun and relaxation then ever before.
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