Windber Medical Center

WIN 2014

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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A beach house getaway can be the perfect setting for footloose family fun and memories—as long as you do your homework before you hit the sand. The first thing you'll need to do, say travel experts, is decide whether you even want your beach house to be at the beach. "Location and proximity to the beach, boardwalk or town center should be your main consideration when selecting a beach rental," says Jodi Bettencourt, vice president, Digital Editorial, for TravelChannel.com. "Do you want to be beachfront, beach view or within blocks of the water? Size and price considerations usually go hand in hand, so you'll need to decide if a modern six-bedroom is worth the cost when a small and cozy cottage would suffice." On the other hand, if your group includes young children, you may find that beachfront is best so you don't have to shuttle everyone back and forth in the car every time you go to the beach. (And your car will stay cleaner too.) CHOICE AMENITIES It's the little extras that can make a beach house vacation extra special and hassle free. Parking for more than one car, outside space such as a deck or screened porch, access to a swimming pool or outdoor shower, a hot tub, barbecue grills, fire pits and fireplaces are typical family-friendly amenities that you might want to put on your must-have list. The rental listing will usually provide a roster of the house's amenities, but be sure to ask rather than assume about anything that's especially important to you, such as air conditioning or an on-site washer/dryer. Beach gear such as towels and chairs is typically included, "but each home is different, so this varies rental by rental," says Jon Gray, senior vice president of HomeAway, a vacation rental listing service. "That's why it's important to have a detailed conversation with the owner before traveling to make sure you'll have everything you need when you arrive." Thinking about treating Rover to some sun and surf with the family? Pets are a special amenity category, and about one in five HomeAway beach rentals allow them, according to Gray. "It's up to the individual owners regarding what kinds, size and number of pets will be allowed," he says. "It's also not uncommon to pay a pet fee if you bring animals with you." Beach gear basics Whether you bring your own gear or are lucky enough to rent a house that includes beach supplies, you'll want to have: • • • • Beach chairs Beach mats Beach towels Umbrellas or tents • • • • Cooler with wheels Beach toys Flotation devices Sunscreen DINING WITHOUT WHINING One of the best parts of staying at a beach house is that you don't have to go out for every meal, so you can accommodate a variety of eating styles and food preferences. "Forget about bringing a week's worth of groceries from home—it's much more fun to have everyone contribute to the meal plan, grocery list, shopping and preparation after you get to the beach," says Bettencourt. She recommends keeping breakfast, lunch and snacks simple, portable and self-serve, relying on tried-and-true options such as bagels, cereal, sandwiches and fruit. At dinnertime, "think about making a reservation, ordering in pizza, or building a meal around local seafood like crabs, clams or lobster," she says. RAINY DAY FUN Gray skies can drop in on even the sunniest beach locales, so don't count on the beach providing all of your entertainment every day. If bad weather hits, be prepared with your first line of defense—old-fashioned board games and new-fashioned video games that everyone can play together. And if your beach house is in a vacation area, there will likely be indoor activities nearby for all ages when cabin fever sets in. "Look for arcades, indoor putt-putt or go-carts, arts and crafts workshops at local stores or galleries, fun museums, aquariums, or live entertainment like puppet shows," says Bettencourt. "Adults without kids could check out the local shops or larger outlet malls, tour a nearby historic site, find a live music venue, take an exercise class or catch a movie." • SHUTTERSTOCK w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m W I N T E R 2 014 SPI RIT O F WOM EN 27

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