The prospect of taking a vacation is so exciting that it can be tough to focus on the planning process. However, it is vital that you have a firm grasp on what will be expected of you at each step, and having an overview of how the procedure normally runs can be a big help. 

How to look

You can get started planning your beach vacation after reading a few tips about the process of organizing a getaway.To begin searching for a rental property, simply select the dates of travel you are interested in or the type of accommodation and area you would like to stay in. The beauty of the search is that you can adapt to a rigid or flexible schedule by searching for a variety of factors, which enables you to zero in on the right house or condo for your needs. You can even search by location, whether it is by town or proximity to the water. 

You may want to search for rentals in different areas depending on the type of vacation you are seeking. For example, the Gulf Shores area is very close to many of the top attractions along the coast, such as the Gulf State Adventure Center or the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. Similarly, nearby regions like Orange Beach also offer a prime location just a short distance from beaches, restaurants and family-friendly activities. 

On the other hand, regions like Fort Morgan or Perdido Key houses are well suited for people looking for a quiet, secluded getaway. There are still a few historic sites and attractions within driving distance that can be easily added to your itinerary if you want a break from the beach. 

Finalizing the booking

After selecting your dates of travel and exact accommodation, you can complete the reservation process online. Simply double check the dates and length of stay to make sure everything is what you want, note the prices and click the "book it" link. Then you will be asked to provide personal contact information and payment details. Look over the terms and conditions of the rental, and pay special attention to the method of payment. 

If you're booking a last-minute stay, you may be better served calling the office. Occasionally there are cancellations that change the availability of certain houses - however, these changes will not show up online. By making one quick phone call, you can check if anything has opened up. 

Checking in

Once all of the planning is out of the way, you can start gearing up for an exciting stay at the rental property. You'll have to plan your road trip or travel arrangements to the area so you can get the timing right. The standard check-in time for most Gulf Shores vacation rentals is 3 p.m. and must be done at the rental office. 

Some travelers download an app to stay ahead of the game when it comes to checking in. The mobile program offers special, accommodation-specific information regarding key codes, driving directions and the like, and it can help speed up the check-in process. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the parking policy at some accommodations. Guests staying in Gulf Shores condos will receive two parking passes, as per the rule of the condo association. If you are taking a vacation with your extended family and will have more than two cars in your party, you may be better served by renting a house with more room for vehicles.