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Monthly Archives: April 2011

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Often times at FlipKey when we speak with new owners, the first thing they’ll ask is Why FlipKey? Owners come to us through various channels, but all of them share the common curiosity about what we do, and why we think we do it the best. So I’m here to tell you!

First and foremost, renting your vacation property can be extremely lucrative – in fact, studies have shown that owners of vacation rental properties can gross $20,000-$30,000 or more each year. The minimal cost of listing with a company like FlipKey can help you earn huge returns. And that’s just the beginning of the benefits you’ll receive.

One of the biggest advantages of listing with FlipKey is our association with TripAdvisor. When FlipKey and TripAdvisor combine our resources, we create the world’s largest online travel community. FlipKey is one of the fastest growing travel websites around today, and TripAdvisor currently stands as the most popular travel website in the world. Together, we bring you 25 million unique visitors a month! That’s 25 million different sets of eyes visiting our websites each month. Think about how huge that impact is – we’re pretty proud of that statistic! We also boast an average of 75 inquiries per listing per year, and that number is only growing.

When you create a property listing on FlipKey, you are automatically listed on eight websites. These include FlipKey and TripAdvisor of course, and then some of TripAdvisor’s international websites listed below:

The variety of international websites where your property will be listed offer the most diverse international exposure available.

In addition to that impressive reach, we’re lucky to have a fantastic staff of motivated and enthusiastic individuals. Since we love what we do, it shows in everything we touch. Our Customer Care team is friendly, knowledgeable and accessible, and can offer a wide variety of tips and tricks to owners on how to maximize their listings and get the most out of their FlipKey account. We have dedicated account representatives who can walk you through each individual listing, and offer feedback on ways to make it a complete success.

As if our far reach and outstanding customer service weren’t enough, we also offer a 60-day free trial to all new owners. After the trial, you’ll find our pricing to be extremely competitive when stacked up against the competition. We offer monthly and yearly billing options, as well as impressive discounts for owners with multiple properties. And we’ll never charge you for the “extras” – you pay one low fee, and get everything we’ve got to give! Photos are unlimited, and paying customers can feature Specials on their properties for no extra charge.

The moral of the story is, Why Not Flipkey? We offer all of the best at a competitive price, and continue to get better and better every single day.

Taryn Collins is a FlipKey owner services specialist and vacation rental marketing expert. Her bi-weekly blog, Ask FlipKey, aims to answer the difficult questions that vacation rental owners and managers ask every day. Submit your questions in the comments!

Wellfleet Oysters on the Half ShellRenowned for its quaint New England seaside charm, the icy Atlantic that rarely breaks 60 degrees, the spectacular sunsets at First Encounter Beach in Eastham and the rolling dunes of Provincetown, Cape Cod’s beauty and allure can also be found on a platter of Wellfleet Oysters.

Though I cringe every time I wade into the Atlantic, those bracing Cape Cod waters produce some of the freshest seafood in the Northeast, from palm-sized quahogs to chubby clams to those world famous oysters.

It’s the Wellfleet Oyster, the crassostrea virginica, that’s the Cape’s crown jewel, a bivalve gem whose salty liquor and creamy flavors make it one of the Cape’s most recognizable harvests. With their long bodies and hard shells, Wellfleet Oysters taste the best because they bed down in tidal flats from the time they are just tiny seeds until they mature. Fast moving tides, with their cold, salty cleansing waves, bring the growing seedlings unique nutrients, adding to their legendary clean taste.

Most Cape restaurants offer oysters on the half shell, deep-fried or baked. However, to appreciate their true exquisite flavor, try them raw with a classic mignonette, a vinegary, slightly sweet sauce that accentuates the oyster’s salinity. Don’t use a fork, but cradle the knobby shell in your hand and gently tip it back into your mouth. It’s Cape Cod in a shell.

Wellfleet Oysters are available throughout the Cape, from Sandwich to Provincetown, but I seem to enjoy them best when I’m actually in Wellfleet, a rural, but delightfully artsy village with its share of great seafood restaurants and markets.

Both the Pearl Restaurant and Mac’s Seafood are located in the harbor, a small but bustling pier where you can find and enjoy those Wellfleet Oysters while watching fishing and leisure boats head out to sea. Mac’s is strictly take-out, with a small eating area right on the beach, while Pearl offers a rooftop dining area with fantastic views of the harbor.

In the center of Wellfleet, there’s Mac’s Shack. Not your typical seafood shanty, Mac’s Shack has a larger, more upscale menu with a wonderful raw bar. They don’t take reservations – it’s first come, first served – and the wait can be long if you arrive during peak dinner hours.

If you prefer to knock back oysters in the comfort of your vacation rental, head over to the Catch of the Day, a small fish market and restaurant that has not only oysters, but plenty of native seafood. Opening oysters can be a bit tricky at first, so ask the folks behind the counter for a demonstration. Make sure to buy an oyster knife and wear a heavy glove.

Once you master the art of opening up a Wellfleet Oyster, you’ll be able to set up your own raw bar in your own home, wherever you travel.

Karen Ellery Jones is a Cape Cod travel writer. She has lived on the Cape for over 20 years with her husband, two teens and three cats. You can read more of her writing on Cape Cod for Couples.

New York Walk Light

One of the best ways to de-stress, get exercise, save money, and really enjoy your surroundings while on vacation is to simply ditch your car for the week. Here are some of the most pedestrian-friendly destinations in the U.S. – consider it our guide to skipping the gas stations in favor of a walking vacation!

1. New York, NY

Fast-walking pedestrians and jaywalkers rule this city, and most residents don’t even want to own cars – it’s not worth the hassle. When you visit Manhattan, you can join the crowds surging through Times Square, Wall Street, and other world-famous locales. Or, for more peaceful walks, try the Hudson River Greenway (which runs almost the entire length of Manhattan), Central Park (over 800 acres of carefully planned park land), or the High Line (an elevated train trestle that was recently converted into a public park).

2. Boston, MA

You might get lost trying to drive the curved and cobblestone streets of this historic city, but walking is a cinch. Pedestrians have easy access to the waterfront, shopping districts, green space, and residential neighborhoods. If you’re interested in our nation’s history, follow the Freedom Trail, a red line on the sidewalk that leads you to 17 historically significant spots. Nature lovers will appreciate the Emerald Necklace, a series of connected parks and waterways that provide ample opportunities for walking and feeding the ducks.

3. San Francisco, CA

Dense, scenic and culturally diverse, San Francisco earned the highest ranking in Walk Score’s 2008 list of the most pedestrian-friendly cities. It’s easy to find everything you need within walking distance, and there are always people out and about on the sidewalks. But the hills here are no joke, so be sure to get in shape before your trip, and wear comfortable, supportive sneakers; that way, you’ll be able to appreciate the stunning angles at sites like Coit Tower and Lombard Street. When your legs just can’t take it anymore, you can always hang onto a cable car and let it pull you up the steepest blocks.

4. Philadelphia, PA

Philly feels relatively small, friendly, and easy to get around on foot. You can wander residential neighborhoods to admire the quaint cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and patriotic décor, or join a walking tour to soak up some history. Another fun way to see the city is by following the colorful route of the Mural Mile, which offers a self-guided tour of some of Philly’s most creative and socially significant spots.

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Volume 2 – Atlanta, GA

Meet Big Tree, a quintet out of Brooklyn, New York with high hopes and empty pockets.  Three dashing young men and two friendly ladies make up this indie pop band.  We are the luckiest people on the planet.  Our job is to drive from one amazing place to the next, play a show, make new friends, and explore new cities. While we’re on the road, FlipKey invited us to share our experiences living like locals everywhere we go.

We love Georgia. Peaches, college students, grits, and beaches, all in one state! Whenever we’re invited to play in this fair region, we jump at the chance. This time we had two shows  in a row in Atlanta, which meant plenty of time to hang out in this awesome city!

Meet the Band

We were particularly excited to perform at the Spring Festival at Emory University, where we would be sharing the stage with the band OneRepublic. We’d heard their single “Too Late to Apologize” all over the radio, and now here we were on a giant stage setting up next to all of their gear! We played our set as the sun went down, looking out at all of the college students and the beautiful campus, and feeling lucky as ever.

After the roadies loaded all of our things back into our tour van, a local friend suggested that we celebrate in Five Points – a charming and fun part of town full of shops, bars, and restaurants. We set out to check out The Porter, with its, “brilliant beer bar, grub, and suds in the heart of Little Five Points.”

When it comes to indulging in a last-minute getaway, one of my favorite things to do is hop a red-eye flight to Fiji for a week of fjord hopping and relaxing on white sand beaches. At least I assume that would be one of my favorite things to do, seeing as I’ve never actually done it.

When it comes to a real last-minute getaway, nothing beats the great American road trip. Unlike a trip to Fiji, all it takes is hopping in your car and choosing a direction. At least that’s the theory… One thing I’ve learned in the past decade of road tripping is that it helps to have an awesome destination to look forward to—and the perfect FlipKey rental to relax at. So whether you’re a permanent resident of the Emerald City, like myself, or only visiting for a short while, I think you’ll find that a visit to the following list of destinations Is worth the price of gas.

Click on the destinations and images below to see all available FlipKey rentals in that location. Staying in a rental means extra living space, a full kitchen, and amenities like laundry or outdoor barbecue area.

Rearview shot of a couple reading a map while sitting in a car

Day Trips

Tacoma, WA (35mi, <1hr)

One of the top reasons to make the drive to Tacoma is to admire its world-renowned glass art. The Museum of Glass showcases hand-blown glass pieces from around the world and includes a glassblowing studio. The Museum District is connected by the Bridge of Glass and pays homage to the craft with more art, glass, and history, including installations by the native Dale Chihuly. Other cultural attractions worth stopping for are the Tacoma Art Museum, the Le May-America’s Car Museum and the Washington State History Museum. Although, Tacoma is rooted in the arts, it is ideally situated on the banks of Puget Sound and offers a vibrant, urban pit stop for road trippers. Shop in the historic Proctor and Stadium districts or stroll through the city’s parks and gardens. Explore the shores by kayak or boat to see the abundance of wildlife that inhabit Tacoma. If you’re looking for a nature wonderland where hiking boots aren’t required, then Tacoma is the destination for you.

See all rentals in Tacoma!

Fall City, WA (30mi, <1hr)

Fall City is situated within the scenic Snoqualmie Valley, an area just east of Seattle, criss-crossed with quiet back roads that carve paths through forests, mountains, and a network of streams feeding into the Snoqualmie River. On your drive in to town, you’ll notice totem poles scattered about Fall City, evidence that the town was originally home to the Snoqualmie Indian tribe, as well as the 130-year old Hop Shed where farmers brought hops to be transported to the Puget Sound. The massive Snoqualmie Falls is arguably one of the biggest attractions for visitors to Fall City. The 270-foot falls boasts magnificent views from the top and bottom and is an impressive site to see. Snoqualmie Falls isn’t the only attraction, though. Odds are you’ll find yourself sticking around to tour the wineries, hike the trails, and maybe even do some antique shopping.

See all rentals in Fall City!

The majestic Snoqualmie Falls in Washington plunges into the water below.

The majestic Snoqualmie Falls in Washington plunges into the water below.

Ashford, WA (80mi, <2hrs)

Hidden amongst towering fir and cedar trees at the foothills of Mt. Rainier National Park, Ashford is a popular “base camp” location for those venturing deep into the Cascade Mountain Region of Central Washington. However, this enchanting area has plenty of natural wonders to offer the day tripper as well, including the nearby Alder and Mineral Lakes, over 300 miles of hiking trails, plus snowshoeing and sledding in the winter. Adjacent to Ashford you’ll find the small town of Elbe, where you can board the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad, which is by far one of most relaxed ways to take in the secluded back country of Mt. Rainier National Park.

See all rentals in Ashford!

Leavenworth, WA (120 mi, 2hrs)

Leavenworth is unique in that the town offers visitors an authentic German experience, right in the heart of Washington State. Boasting a Bavarian village main street, replete with Tudor revival architecture, this mountain town plays host to monthly festivals, one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in the United States, and an annual month-long Christmas extravaganza that has to be seen to be believed. While you might expect the hiking, biking, and skiing adventures waiting to be had in the surrounding Cascade Mountains, what you might not expect from this Pacific Northwest landmark is the 300 days of sunshine they receive every year!

See all rentals in Leavenworth!

A couple drives down the road on a road trip in their red convertible.

Weekend Trips

Vancouver, BC (140mi, 2.5 hours)

Canada’s third-largest city, and one routinely featured on lists of the world’s greatest places to live, has been thrust into the global spotlight thanks in part to its young metropolis vibe, overall quirky appeal, and role as the host city for the 2010 winter Olympics. A melting pot of cultures nestled between city beaches and lush waterfront forests, this British Commonwealth is still very much forming its identity: something reflected in its eclectic art scene, diverse shopping districts, and laid-back hipster hangouts, all topped off with the myriad of outdoor activities right outside their door. Make Vancouver your destination if you want to experience both bustling city life with attractions like the Vancouver Aquarium and the Orpheum Theatre as well as a quiet, oceanfront setting that is home to a variety of wildlife, including fish, birds, and whales.

See all rentals in Vancouver!

Portland, OR (175mi, 3 hrs)

If you’ve never been there, you might be inclined to assume that Portland and Seattle are interchangeable from a destination standpoint, especially given the similarities in their cultural and natural landscape. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Where Seattle offers more of an urban flavor, Portland has a quaint, almost small town feel relative to its size. Although replete with museums, fine dining, and a vibrant night life, Portland provides a level of hospitality and accessibility to these attractions unparalleled anyplace else in the Northwest. While in the area, popular things to do in Portland include touring the Portland Japanese Garden, exploring the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and browsing at one of the many Portland farmers markets. With so much to do and its laid-back, friendly atmosphere, Portland is a must-visit place along the Pacific Northwest.

See all rentals in Portland!

Sunrise view overlooking the city of Portland, Oregon

Sunrise view overlooking the city of Portland, Oregon

Friday Harbor, WA (100mi, 3hrs including ferry travel)

One of the main hot spots in the San Juan Islands, Friday Harbor has long been recognized as a top travel destination in Washington. Although relatively small, the island offers a dynamic landscape ranging from pebble-lined beaches, to lush valleys and mountain meadows. Since it rests in Seattle’s rain shadow and is often sunny when nowhere else in the Puget Sound region is, it is routinely referred to as “nature’s playground.” One of the top attractions here is orca whale watching in autumn, although many animals such as harbor seals, porpoises, and sea otters are year-round residents. To really get into the casual spirit of island living, enjoy an art tour, or of course, find your own little corner of paradise on one of the many pristine local beaches.

See all rentals in Friday Harbor!

Seaside, OR (195mi, 3.5hrs)

The North Oregon Coast is a place of great history, entertainment, and natural beauty. While scenic vistas and amazing day hikes can be found throughout the region, Seaside has really become the place to go for a wide variety of traditional “coastal” activities, such as bike tours, festivals, and fresh, local cuisine. Wander along the Tillamook Head Traverse Hike for impeccable views of the landscape and dine by the ocean to start your day. When you’re ready to hang on the beach, you’ll be delighted with how wide they are here, leaving plenty of room for sand castle building, cookouts, or even a round of beach volleyball. Make sure you also swing by Funland Arcade, the largest on the Oregon Coast, to take a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl and feel like a kid again! Whether you’re on a romantic road trip or embarking on some family fun, Seaside has something for everyone in your car.

See all rentals in Seaside!

Victoria, BC (185mi, 4.5hrs including ferry travel)

Green and beautiful year-round, Victoria offers an enchanting place for visitors to escape every day life. It is the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest, and here, new world experiences complement old world charm. Snap photos of the spectacular parliament building  and tour the opulent rooms inside. Nearby churches and castles showcase impressive architectural designs and interesting historical significance. Take a walk through the historic James Bay neighborhood or head to the boutiques on Johnson Street and Trounce Alley to purchase wares from local designers. The island has a mild climate throughout the year making it an ideal place for outdoor exploration. Whether you drive through the city, cycle one of the many trails or swim in the ocean, Victoria’s lush landscape can be enjoyed by all. Before getting back on the road, enjoy the time-honored tradition of high tea at the Empress Hotel National Historic Site of Canada.

See all rentals in Victoria!

A young man sits down with coffee to plan his US road trip on a map.

Week Trips

West Glacier, MT (550mi, 9.5 hrs)

West Glacier is really more of a gateway destination, as it anchors the western entrance to Glacier National Park, offering an ideal location for lodging while exploring the surrounding area. A trip to Glacier National Park is without a doubt more rooted in natural beauty than it is commercial obligations. The views as seen from the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road are breathtaking as you cross the Continental Divide at 6,646-foot-high Logan Pass, and will undoubtedly stay with you forever. The town of West Glacier and the surrounding National Park play host to a huge assortment of activities for the outdoor enthusiast, including whitewater rafting, golfing, hiking, and horseback riding.

See all rentals in West Glacier!

San Francisco, CA (800mi, 13hrs)

If I was going to recommend travel to any major city in California, or the entire West Coast for that matter, it would have to be San Francisco. Most endearing about this city is that even when you partake in one of the more cliched tourist activities like exploring Pier 39 or climbing one of the 40+ hills, you still never know what to expect. Take a drive down the city’s well-known Lombard Street, one of America’s crookedest streets, before ditching your car to cling to the side of a vintage cable car. Explore the neighborhoods like the Upper Haight or the Mission to see the different parts of the city that make it so unique. From the Marina district, enjoy picture-perfect views of the majestic Golden Gate Bridge before people watching at one of the hip bistros nearby. San Francisco is a city teeming with outlandish free thinkers and lovable weirdos, yet it manages to quickly find a place in the heart of your average Joe.

See all rentals in San Francisco!

View of the Golden Gate Bridge giving drivers access to San Francisco

View of the Golden Gate Bridge giving drivers access to San Francisco

Lake Tahoe, CA (750mi, 12hrs)

Lake Tahoe is a haven for outdoor adventures year-round. In the summer, visitors can enjoy swimming, windsurfing, and boating on the picturesque lake, while the surrounding parks and trails beckon to hikers. Mt. Tallac Trail and Emerald Bay State Park offer magnificent views of the lake area while the Gondola at Heavenly provides a peaceful ride with incredible panoramic views. During the winter, strap yours skis or snowboard onto your car and enjoy the epic amounts of snowfall that transform Lake Tahoe into a winter wonderland. Hit the slopes at Northstar or Squaw Valley for a fun day in the snow. Other things to do in Lake Tahoe include making a visit to the Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum or placing some bets at one of the 24-hour casinos in the area. Because Lake Tahoe straddles the border between California and Nevada, the area does also has a flashy nightlife scene and vibrant atmosphere. The area is perfect for a girls’ week away or a family getaway – it’s up to you!

See all rentals in Lake Tahoe!

Las Vegas, NV (1,150mi, 19hrs)

Ah, Las Vegas. Some would say that no matter where you reside in this country, a rubber-meets-road sojourn to Sin City constitutes the ultimate road trip – a statement I’m very much inclined to agree with. Even if you’re not into the well-lit, nonstop party element Vegas is so famous for, you’ll find yourself easily charmed by its rugged beauty and frontier-inspired sightseeing opportunities. One thing is for sure though: going from Seattle to Las Vegas by car is a must-have experience. Cutting through the southern half of Central Washington, skirting the northeast corner of Oregon and the northwest corner of Idaho, then dropping straight down the eastern half of Nevada is an amazing journey that is nearly impossible to match. The ever-changing landscapes and classic roadside attractions encountered along the way make this trip completely worthwhile, even if all you do in Las Vegas is fill up your gas tank and turn right back around.

See all rentals in Las Vegas!

Original post was written by Jay Ferris, a Seattle-based writer, husband, and father of three, whose penchant for outdoors-based travel is rivaled only by his dependence on a steady internet connection and spider-free existence. Follow him on Twitter at @jayferris.

Geronimo!Is it possible to fill your booking calendar and contribute to your favorite charity at the same time? Have you ever asked yourself how you could take a vacation and make a difference in society?

These are the questions that Mike Last and Michael McFadden have started to answer with Geronimo.com, a website that asks vacation rental owners and property managers to contribute “one spare week” to charity. I caught up with Michael the other day and had the chance to discuss Geronimo, how the service works, and where it’s going.

FlipKey: Let’s start with the basics – what is Geronimo and how does it work?

Michael McFadden: Geronimo is a service that allows vacation rental owners and property managers to donate a portion of a rental income to the non-profit of their choice without dealing with the hassle of non-profit bureaucracy. Essentially, you list a property at a discounted rate (we recommend a 20% discount) for a set period of time on Geronimo.com. The owners can get half of the rental income, and the other half is for the net donation.

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Volume 1 – Austin, TX

Meet Big Tree, a quintet out of Brooklyn, New York with high hopes and empty pockets.  Three dashing young men and two friendly ladies make up this indie pop band.  We are the luckiest people on the planet.  Our job is to drive from one amazing place to the next, play a show, make new friends, and explore new cities. While we’re on the road, FlipKey invited us to share our experiences living like locals everywhere we go.

Leaving Cali

After two years of playing shows all over the U.S.A, Big Tree was invited to play a showcase at the prestigious and epic South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas. We packed our bags, loaded the tour van, filtered some grease (our van runs on waste vegetable oil to recycle used fuel and save money!), and set out from the San Francisco Bay Area.

The beginning of March had been pretty in Northern California, but it was full-fledged spring in Austin, Texas, the hub of upcoming music.  The flowers were blooming, beautiful women were wearing cut-offs and sandals, and the sun was out and smiling.  Every street echoed with the sounds of indie bands and guitar effect pedals, and the sidewalks were crowded with excited festival go-ers.