You have been counting down the days to Destin since even before you booked your accommodations. All you have been thinking about is that big, beautiful sun, warm Gulf water, the breezy salty air, and that cool powdery sand between your toes. Amazon has been making daily trips to your house delivering the perfect outfits for you and your family to wear for your sunset beach photo session with your chosen professional Destin photographer. Swimsuits are packed. Menus have been made. You have written your to-do lists that included even more lists. No matter how well you prepare, sometimes things just get overlooked. So we have made you a list to help with your lists in case you forgot to list something. And btw, you’re welcome!
- Make sure to read all condo or hotel correspondence as it comes in. Mark important dates on your calendar. Also, read the fine print. That’s where they’ll get ya.
- Beach Service – Find out if your hotel or condo requires you to call 2 weeks (sometimes more) ahead to make your beach set-up reservations. Some hotels/condos have another company that does their beach service and you may have to contact them directly. This should all be in your correspondence. If not, you will be glad you asked early!
- Reconfirm your condo/hotel booking. You can never be too careful especially around busy dates. It’s not unheard of to be bumped even a couple of days before check-in. It’s scary, but it does happen.
- Know your check-in time. A lot of people will drive all night to arrive in Destin in the early AM to maximize their beach time only to find out that they can’t check-in or use the amenities until that specified time. So, for example, if you arrive at 8 am but can’t check-in until 4 pm…. that’s a long day if your plans get walloped. So if you need to check in earlier than specified, call ahead and ask if it’s possible (there may be a fee associated with this request).
- If you are flying in and your flight arrival time is before the check-in time – Call ahead to your condo/hotel and ask if it has luggage storage that you can use until your check-in time. This way, at least, you will be able to Uber/Lift around town until it’s time to check-in without having to lug it all over the island with you.
- Speaking of flying and Uber/Lyft, if you are flying into the Destin-Ft. Walton Beach Airport (VPS) you might find it beneficial to book your car service ahead of time. Summertime is crazy busy in Destin, and if you don’t book ahead, you may just find yourself waiting in excess of an hour for an Uber or Lyft.
- If you are flying, one of the first things you need to ask is if your hotel offers an airport shuttle service and if they do, book your spot(s). That could be a saving grace for you if they do.
- We are hearing that car rental companies in Destin are out of cars and if one does come up, they are astronomical. If flying into VPS, book a rental car well ahead of time. We can speak from experience about how hectic it is to try to get a rental car when you touch down. Look at your AAA or AARP to see if you can find a discount that will help with the cost, as well. Book well ahead and even reconfirm. Make sure you keep all correspondence with the company.
- If you find that you are unable to acquire a car from the traditional rental car company (Enterprise, Hertz, etc), there is a new kid on the block called Turo. Turo is kind of like an Airbnb but for cars. You go on the site and type in the city. A list of available cars from “hosts” will pop up. Read all of the fine print but there are some pretty cool cars to choose from. One of our faves is this 1992 Land Rover 90 Defender. Definitely a fun ride!
- If you are driving, download an app, like Waze to map out your trip. Waze is great because it uses real-time driver data information that gives you turn by turn as well as heads up on traffic alerts, crashes reported, and even if there is might be a policeman up ahead just making sure everyone is doing their part to make the highways safe. (Thank you Mr. Policeman!) Also, Waze will guide you around those dreaded traffic jams on 98 (lifesaver!) If Waze isn’t for you, there’s a Traffic Spotter or just a good ole old-school Mapquest. There are several more good map apps. Just pick one that you feel comfortable with.
- Refill your meds. This is probably on the top of your to-do list, but it is worth repeating. Oh, and don’t leave them sitting on the counter at home in the Ziploc that you packed them in… Not that that has happened to any of us, of course, *ahem!*.
- Dinner reservations. If you are looking to hit up any of the nicer/dressier restaurants on your trip, make sure you have reservations. This is essential. It would be sad to get all gussied up in your prettiest Lilly only to be turned away. If worse comes to worst, make sure you wear the Lilly dress with some orange in it, as Whataburger will always be an option and at least you’ll match!
- Are you planning on renting a pontoon or Waverunner? Maybe you’d like to take a snorkeling trip or rent a paddleboard. Do your research ahead of time. There are lots of options but you will want to check ratings, prices, and availability. If you can make reservations ahead of time, that might give you some peace of mind when that day comes.
- Coupons. If you get lucky and come across any coupons you can use while in Destin, print those babies out or load them to your phone. You know this trip is going to cost dear, so why not try to save where you can?
- Stop your mail. If you don’t have a neighbor or family member who will be bringing in your mail and newspaper every day, go to the post office and fill out a form to have it stopped while you are out of town. You don’t want your mail piling up at your door – that is a big flashing neon sign that you are not home.
- Tell your neighbors that you will be gone but also let your local police department know you will not be home. If you have someone coming to feed the cat or walk the dog, you’ll just need to tell them what cars will be at your house. The PD usually makes extra passes by. It does help relax your worries while you are away.
- Notify your bank and credit cards that you will be traveling to Florida. Did you know that Florida is the number one state for credit card fraud to happen? Yep, according to WalletHub, Florida ranks first with the most identity theft and fraud. So make sure you call them because you would hate to find yourself with cards that have been shut off because it will happen (True Story!). And this could take a big bite out of your beachy bliss.
- Last but not least, meal menus. Eating out every meal is not only expensive but having to fight traffic and crowds on a daily basis is not so much fun. So, if you are staying in a condo, we highly recommend spending some meals at home. You won’t get a better view nor will it be any easier to get a great table. Totes worth it!
We hope you found this list a good addition to your own lists of lists. Safe travels and have a great time and just remember, with all the planning, you’re going to forget something — and that’s what stores are for:)