How To Book a Last Minute Beach Vacation


by Jessie S.

how to book a last minute beach vacation

If you follow us on our social media platforms, you‘ve probably seen us sharing a lot of last-minute deals. You might be thinking, “How could anyone possibly book a beach house at the last minute?” Traditionally, people plan beach vacations months in advance. Requesting off work, carefully picking the perfect lodging, saving money and planning an itinerary can definitely take time so we understand that advance reservations are sometimes necessary. However, market trends have been shifting lately and we are seeing more and more last-minute rentals. Is this because people find it harder to take off work in advance and instead need to see what’s on their calendar on the immediate horizon? Is it because everyone is shopping for the best possible deal? Do we get so burnt out that one day we just decide, “THAT’S IT! WE’RE GETTING OUT OF HERE FOR A FEW DAYS!”

While the source behind last-minute travel probably pulls from all three reasons, the truth remains that taking a last-minute vacation can be rewarding, relaxing, and definitely a bit exciting. If you’ve been thinking about taking a trip or have some vacation days you need to use up, we know just the place. The Outer Banks is the perfect location for a spontaneous trip and Seaside Vacations makes it an easy, hassle-free process to find a rental. Here’s how to book a last-minute beach vacation in 5 simple steps:

Step 1. Pick Your Home

step 1 - pick your home
This might be one of the most fun parts of planning for a vacation! You can make your reservation online or you make it over the phone. We have hundreds of vacation homes in our rental program which means we’ll be able to find the right home for you and our online search option makes it easy to search for specific requirements! First, you’ll need make a few decisions:

  • Who is coming and how many bedrooms will you need?
  • What amenities might want to enjoy during your stay (private pool, hot tub, theater room, elevator, etc)? Keep in mind that amenities might raise the price.
  • What town do you want to stay in? If you have been to the Outer Banks before and have a town preference, it’s easy to search available homes in that town. However, if you are open to any town, you will have far more options.
  • What is your ideal location? Part of visiting the beach is enjoy the view. While some people want to be oceanfront or within walking distance of the ocean, others prefer the many benefits of staying soundfront or soundside. Keep in mind that waterfront locations often cost more. There are many homes that aren’t completely waterfront that still have a view and are within walking distance; read the description of a potential home for more information about distance to the water.

Shopping For Deals

Sometimes, taking a last-minute vacation is all about saving on lodging. If that’s the case, don’t apply any restrictions to your search and simply search for the best deal! We offer two ways to save money on your vacation rentals – HOT DEALS and PROPERTIES ON SALE.

  • Hot Deals: These are short-term specials and promotions that Seaside Vacations will run throughout the year. Deals include a discount promo code for certain weeks (usually 10%-20% off participating homes) and the popular “Pick Your Price” promotion in which guests can make a reasonable offer on an available week to get a reduced price. Click here to see the current hot deals!
  • Properties On Sale: These are individual homes that are offering reduced rates and discounts on certain weeks. Click here to learn how to search for properties on sale!

Still unsure about your property selection? Simply click the chat icon on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and speak to one of our guest services representatives. They are very familiar with our houses and ongoing specials so they can find the perfect rental for you and your family.

Step 2. Pay Your Balance

When you make any reservation that is within a month of arrival, full payment is due within 48 hours. We accept all major credit cards so it’s easy to make your payment and just like that—you’re going on vacation!

Reservation Add-Ons

When you are placing your reservation, you will be offered a few add-ons. These are completely optional but are designed to make your vacation a complete hassle-free experience so all you have to do is relax!

  • Early Check-In: Standard Check-in starts after 4:00 PM on your date of arrival. For an additional $125 fee (plus tax), guests may check-in at 1:00 PM as homes become available. This fee applies whether or not you arrive prior to regular check-in time.*
  • Late Check-Out: Standard Check-out is at 10:00 AM. on day of departure. Cleaning crews arrive at the home at 10:00 AM. For an additional $75 fee (plus tax), guests may check out by 12:00 PM. on the day of departure.*
  • Beach Towel Rental: Don’t own beach towels or don’t have the space to pack them? Simply rent them through us at $5.00 each!
  • Extra Towel Set: Your vacation rental comes equipped with one (1) towel set per person that the property sleeps. The extra towel sets are in addition to this and are available at $7.00 each.
  • Mid-Stay Linen Exchange: Want to replace all your provided linens midway through the week? We’re happy to provide a new set for an additional fee which varies per size of home.
  • Mid-Stay House Cleaning: With a lot of people coming in and out of the house (probably dragging in plenty of sand), you may want the house to get freshened up midway through the week. We’re happy to send a housekeeper out to clean for you! Cost varies based on size of the home.
  • Travel Insurance: Travel Insurance provides a wide array of protection including theft, baggage delay, medical costs and cancellation due to unforeseen illness or death, job loss, deployment, damage to your primary residence, and evacuation in the event that vacation time is lost due to any mandatory evacuations ordered by Dare or Currituck County Emergency Management. By purchasing travel insurance, you can insure the cost of your vacation. Cost for insurance varies based on the size of your home. Click here to learn more.
  • Pool Heat: Heated service for private pools requires one week’s notice prior to your date of arrival. There is an additional fee to heat the pool. Cost varies according to pool size and is only available on homes that offer pool heat as an amenity. Most pool heaters heat five to eight degrees above outside air temperatures.*

*Some add-ons are only available on certain homes and are subject to availability. For example of online add-on screen, click the above images which open in a new window.

Step 3. Pack Your Bags

step 3 - pack your bags
You’re all paid up… now what? Time to pack of course! Packing can easily stress people out but with a little organization and a solid packing list, it does not have to be a source of pre-vacation tension. We have compiled a great list so all you have to do is check off what you need (or use these suggestions to make your own list)!

  • For the Kitchen: Condiments, salt and pepper or other spices**, paper towels, napkins, Ziploc bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, dishwashing detergent, coffee (+filters, sugar and creamer), hand soap, trash bags, and groceries.*
  • For the Bathroom: Bath soap, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, tissues, toilet paper, and other toiletries.
  • For the Beach: Bathing suit with cover-up, beach equipment (toys, chairs, umbrellas, beach blankets, coolers, boogie board, etc.), beach bag, books/magazines, sunscreen, sunglasses, beach towels, and flip flops/water shoes.
  • For your Dog: Food and water bowls, food, bottled water, towel, leash, pick-up bags, treats, toys, safety beach gear (reflective collar, life jacket, sunscreen, etc)., identification papers and vaccination information in case of an emergency, and first-aid/medications.
  • General Items: Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, all-purpose cleaner, cell phone & charger, first aid kit, prescriptions/medications, eye glasses, activities (games, toys, CDs/DVDs, writing material, books/tablet, bicycles, etc)., fishing equipment, camera/video recorder & batteries, baby equipment (baby gate, high chair, portable crib), clothing, and purse/wallet.

*The more you bring, the less you will need to buy while you’re here so try to pack cooking supplies and non-perishables if you have space in your car. For supplies you do need to get here, there are plenty of grocery stores nearby ranging from Harris Teeter and Publix to WalMart and Food Lion depending on where your house is located.

Of course, every family’s need is different depending on who is taking the trip, where you are staying, and what you plan to do so this is just a brief list of supplies you might need! Click here for more tips on packing for a family beach vacation.

Seaside Vacations Starter Bag

**When you rent through Seaside Vacations, we provide a "starter bag" in every home that includes a few essential items. These will get you started on your vacation and may help keep your packing to a minimum!

  • Couple rolls of toilet paper
  • A roll of paper towels
  • Packet of dishwashing detergent
  • A spice jar containing salt, pepper and other common spices
  • A dish rag
  • A pot holder
  • A kitchen trash bag

Step 4. Make The Trip

step 4 - make the trip
Even though you’re making a last-minute reservation, you should not leave your travel plans up to chance. Be sure to map out your route ahead of time making sure everyone in your party knows where to go, where to check-in, and is prepared for toll roads, draw bridges, potential traffic, etc. During the summer or on a weekend, we recommend you arrive to town as early as possible to avoid delays caused by traffic back-ups. When you arrive early, there is usually a gap between your arrival time and your check-in time. In that case, simply stop by a local restaurant for a nice sit-down lunch in the AC—you’ll probably enjoy the break from driving! Click here to learn how to avoid Outer Banks Traffic and click here for directions to our office.

Step 5. Check-In & Unwind

step 5 - check in and unwind
Check-In begins at 4:00 PM on your date of arrival. We have a dedicated team of housekeepers, inspectors and property coordinators who will make the best effort possible to be sure your home is ready by 4:00 PM but in some cases, additional cleaning and maintenance is required at the home to make sure it is in top-notch condition for your arrival. If you don’t want to wait that long, some houses have the option for early check-in (at 1:00 PM) which can be purchased for an additional fee of $125.00. Availability varies by home and if early check-in is available, it will be an option during your check-out process online (or our guest services will offer it to you over the phone). Click here to learn about our rental policies

Most of our homes are keyless entry which means you don’t even need to stop by our rental office. Instead, go straight to your rental, use the key code that is provided to you by e-mail, and start your vacation! Once you check in, the rest of the vacation is up to you. Step outside, soak in the ocean breeze, and just let your worries float away. Celebrate the fact that you successfully (and easily) booked a last-minute getaway and rejoice in the fact that you are on the Outer Banks!

For help planning out your vacation, check out our blog! It’s updated weekly with fun suggestions on where to eat, what to do, and what new adventure to try.

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Jessie has been coming to the Outer Banks since she was just 5 years old. She loved it here so much that she finally relocated in 2018. Now her mission is to show the world that the Outer Banks is an incredible place that everyone should experience. When she isn't working, you can find Jessie hanging out with her friends, chilling at home with her awesome cat, Yoji, or discovering a new Outer Banks adventure. 

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