PHOTO: Panama City Beach, Florida. (photo via Flickr/dconvertini)
It should come as little surprise that a majority of the most popular summer vacation destinations in 2017 are Florida beaches.
But travelers may be taken aback by the median weekly rate for a two-bedroom vacation rental in the top 10 most popular summer getaway spots this coming July.
Based on research from TripAdvisor Rentals, Panama City Beach, Florida ranks as the most popular destination for summer vacation rentals in 2017. TravelPulse Managing Editor Michael Schottey and his family recently went visited Panama City Beach and he called it: A Perfect Pick for Families.
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Trailing Panama City Beach are Ocean City, Maryland; Destin, Florida; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Kissimmee, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Gulf Shores, Alabama; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Davenport, Florida and North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Travelers will find the best value in Davenport, Kissimmee and Orlando, where the median weekly rate for a two-bedroom vacation rental on TripAdvisor Rentals in July ranges from $693 to $1,086. While vacationers in Kissimmee and Orlando won't have beach access, they will be nearby to some of the world's premier theme parks and summer attractions.
On the flip side, Destin is the most expensive of the top 10 destinations with a median weekly rate in July of $2,390. But Ocean City ($1,939) and Panama City Beach ($1,835) aren't far behind.
Visitors to Gulf Shores ($1,583) and Virginia Beach ($1,483) can expect to pay a similar weekly rate in July, while South Carolina-bound travelers are likely to find a slightly better rate in Myrtle Beach ($1,250) compared to North Myrtle Beach ($1,380).
Once you've settled on a destination the question becomes when is the best time to book?
There isn't a correct answer but the longer you wait the more choices you surrender.
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According to a recent survey conducted by TripAdvisor Rentals, four out of 10 travelers reserve their stay six to 12 months in advance of their trip. But if you haven't started planning yet you're not alone. Thirty-four percent of travelers book their stay three to five months out, according to the survey, while one in five travelers wait one to three months ahead of their stay to book their rental.
As of Wednesday morning, a two-bedroom, two-bath rental in Panama City Beach was available between July 8-15, 2017 for under $1,500.
"Summer is peak travel season, and while last minute bookings aren't uncommon, travelers who book in May will have many more homes to choose from than those who wait until July," said TripAdvisor Rentals spokesperson Laurel Greatrix in a statement.
"If you’re traveling with a group, look for a home with spacious living rooms and plenty of outdoor space so you can spend time together comfortably," added Greatrix. "Couples or families heading to theme parks can find affordable condos near the parks to make the most of their trip."