If you are like most Ontarians, you work hard and love to play even harder. When it’s time to look for your next cottage destination check out the more than 850 kilometers of beach front and hundreds of beautiful lake front properties Grey/Bruce has to offer.

When it’s time to plan get everyone involved and start early. Some, if not most, cottages are booked a year in advance and you would not like to miss out on your dream cottage destination. Part of the planning should include the number of people staying at the cottage, what you plan to do when you get there and who will be responsible for what. Get your children involved in the plan too, remember it’s your vacation as well theirs, and they will have fun in participating in the decision making. Listed below are some helpful suggestions to help you get started.

If you are going to sign a contract ensure to read it over very carefully and thoroughly. Make sure you are aware of check-in date and time as well as the check-out date and time. If you arrive earlier than the specified time you may be waiting to gain access to the cottage. Cottage owners will need to clean and perhaps complete some basic maintenance or repairs between renters. When you arrive you will want to unload and get right into vacationing, not wait or be asked to leave and return at the check-in time.

Do you have a pet? More and more cottage destinations are open to allowing pets on site, please remember it is a privilege and not a right to bring your pets along. Some destinations will not permit pets due to family allergies, a child’s phobia or simply because they just do not like cats and dogs. If you respect the owner’s decision to allow your pets, you should remember to keep your pet under control and not put the owner in an embarrassing situation that could result in you and your family being asked to leave.

Pet

As part of the planning for your vacation I suggest you purchase a map of the area. Map out your destination in advance including an alternative route. When you arrive ensure you get specific directions to and from the cottage from the cottage owner. You should also consider that if the cottage is in a populated area by the beach, roads can become very congested and you do not want to spend a lot of time sitting in your car and waiting on traffic. If you can find alternate routes to save time you are already ahead of the game. Are you planning to GPS the routes? Remember that summer months are the main months for construction and most GPS’s do not display construction alternative routes. Ensure you have a good map and make sure it is one of the first items put in your car.

Making a list of the items you want to pack is a good idea as well. Getting the kids involved in this list, by adding their items will help in getting ready in a timely manner. This will also help when you arrive at the cottage, if the cottage does not supply toiletries for example, you will realize you did not forget something basic but essential. Are linens included? If not put them on the list. A good packing list is critical when planning for your vacation; it will help you remember all the little things needed to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

Teddy in Luggage

When you book your cottage make sure you are aware of all the sleeping arrangements - the number of bedrooms in the cottage for example, and the size of each bed. You do not want to show up and find out there is a twin bed in all the rooms and you were expecting a queen or double. If part of the sleeping arrangement includes a sofa bed make sure you ask if pillows are supplied. Knowing this in advance will help with your list as well, plan to bring the proper sheets, pillows and blankets if required.

When you make your plan decide what day trips your family will enjoy. Knowing dates, times and costs are an important part of the planning. Googling the time a store opens or what days an exhibit is showing could save a lot of time and energy later. If you simply show up for an outing and find it is closed for repairs or sold out, your family will be disappointed and valuable time lost. Plan ahead and avoid any disappoint.

Do you plan to be on the water? Of course you do! Whether you are going to fish or get in for a swim, you need to remember a couple of items – a fishing license for all adults and a good pair of swimming shoes. The lakes and beaches are very inviting and you will want to avoid any cuts that can result from sharp rocks and even mussel shells. Small children especially will tend to live in the water during your vacation, so remember safety first. If you own a boat or if you are planning to rent one, be sure you have life jackets. Ensure life jackets are included with the boat rental. Whether you choose to wear the life jacket or not will determine whether you receive the substantial fine or not.

Girl in life jacket

Will you be vacationing with friends or extended family members? Set some ground rules, before the trip plan to meet and talk over everyone’s responsibility. What are the expectations for all involved? Who will be doing what? Who will be bring what? Be truthful and honest, you cannot be prepared for the unseen but you can make sure your kids to be on time and the dog follows his routine as well. If you plan ahead and everyone is on the same page you may avoid problems later. If your friends or extended family plan to meet you at the cottage consider the parking and whether or not additional vehicles are permitted.

Making a plan and asking all the rights questions will save you time and the frustration of disappointment later. So start planning early, book the cottage early and then enjoy!