Home Archives 2011 September

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Myth #1: Vacation rentals are expensive

The truth: vacation rentals are actually pretty darn affordable. The per person cost per night is often much lower than you would pay for a cramped hotel room, with the added bonus of privacy, extra space, and often times many extra ammenities. Vacation rentals are actually an extremely affordable way of vacationing and offer many things a hotel can’t, like all the comforts of home.


Myth #2: Vacation rentals are hard to find and hard to book

The truth: A few years ago, this might have been true, but with the introduction and rapid expansion of sites like FlipKey.com, finding a vacation rental property has never been easier. Not only are homes easy to find and compare, but owners are accessible too. With just one simple call or email, you can be in touch with the individual who owns the home you’d like to rent, and together you can work out the terms of your agreement. Couldn’t be any easier than that!

Myth # 3: Vacation rentals don’t have all the amenities and activites available at hotels and resorts

The Truth: On the contrary, vacation rentals often offer more ammenities than hotels, at no added cost. Vacation rentals are typically priced as a package, so if you pick a place with an in-ground swimming pool, full-size pool table, game room, cinema space, chefs kitchen and acres of landscaped gardens and yard – you’re paying the same price as if you’d booked a single hotel room with a private bath and just enough space to stow your suitcase. Imagine all the fun you’ll have!

Myth #4: Vacation rentals aren’t well maintained

The Truth: Typically vacation rentals are second homes for families to enjoy when they’re not being rented, so they are often kept up better than hotels. Owners are invested in maintaining their property and keeping it clean and pristine, so that they can enjoy it as much as their guests. Additionally, many vacation rental owners or managers will offer cleaning services before, during and after your stay, to keep the accommodation in tip-top shape.

Myth #5: Vacation rentals don’t have on-site assistance should I need it

The Truth: Whether a vacation rental property is professionally managed or owner-operated, chances are you’ll always have access to assistance, whether it be an on-site management company, or the 24/7 cell phone number for the owner.

Whenever you’re planning a vacation and booking an accommodation, you want to make sure it’s set-up to be as perfect as it can be. There are naturally many questions associated with the process, but are also many pre-conceived notions, so make sure you do your own research and find out the best option for you. You just might find you’re destined for vacation rental living! And trust me, that’s a good thing.


Great road trips don’t always involve four-wheeled vehicles—sometimes two wheels are all you need. Traveling by bike has its own set of challenges: more planning is required, shorter distances are covered each day, and a strong headwind can really influence your plans. But in return, road bike travelers get a unique view of the countryside, the satisfaction of miles well-earned, and a great set of strong, defined legs!

The Oregon Coast offers everything needed to create a doable and memorable road biking excursion. The first essential ingredient? Good roads with a defined route. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has developed a coastal road biking map, laying out all bikers need to know for a safe, successful ride. Road descriptions, including shoulder width, alternate routes, and the locations of parks for rest breaks are all included.

Some bikers ride self-supported, meaning they pack all their gear and clothing in panniers, and haul it with them on their bikes. Other biking groups use a support vehicle, meaning that one rider drives ahead to a designated spot, while the bikers hit the road on two wheels. Either way, plenty of vacation rentals along the coast make planning the trip convenient. In September and October, temperatures usually stay in the sixties or down into the fifties, and smart packers will be ready for drizzly days.

The Oregon Coast has no shortage of the second essential ingredient for an excellent biking road trip—gorgeous scenery! After all, bikers spend hours at a time taking it in, and the Oregon Coast has much to offer, from the seals playing in the surf to the craggy, rugged shoreline. If you ride the coast from north to south (which ODOT recommends, to avoid riding into the wind) here are some must-see spots along the way:

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
Walk the hardpack sand beach for miles, under the watchful eyes of the seals drifting along in the surf. Haystack Rock is one of many geologic anomalies along the coast, and at sunset, you won’t find a more picturesque backdrop for photos.

Tidepools at Yaquina Head
The coast grows wild and rugged as you follow the route south, with flat sandy beaches giving way to rocky inlets shrouded in mist. The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is worth a visit, just to check out the enormous prism and candlepower. The real treat is at low tide, when the tidepools reveal the community of sea creatures within. Sea stars, urchins, anemonies, and sea grass are just a few of the species that make up this alien-like world. Tidepools are fragile, so take care to do no damage, and take nothing except photos.

Devil’s Churn at Cape Perpetua
The most impressive spot to witness the power of the Pacific. Cape Perpetua is the highest point on the coast, and offers a spectacular view, but the real drama takes place along a fissure in the rock along the Trail of Restless Water, where crash waves explode up through the rock, leaving visitors with a whole new respect for what tidal forces can do.

Get into the “spirit” of the season

Victorian Cape May is a hotbed for paranormal activity any time of the year, but aren’t the spirits usually more active during the Halloween season? They must be, for there is a bevy of activities during Happenings, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), from Friday, Oct. 14 through Monday, Oct. 31. Seaside spirits take up residence in their favorite historic haunts, spooky sights and sounds surround the town, and things go bump in the night for more than two weeks. Embrace the “other side” of Cape May and get in the “spirit” of the season with Halloween-themed tours and events including ghost trolley tours, spooky tours of Cape May’s original haunted house — the1879 Emlen Physick Estate — psychic teas, murder mystery dinners and much more.

The grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate will be taken over by dozens of spooky, scary and just plain silly characters for Scarecrow Alley. These age-old signs of Halloween are especially appropriate as a welcoming committee to the haunted Physick House. Starting Oct. 14, you can walk the grounds and vote for your favorite scarecrow creations contributed by members of the community, local organizations and MAC staff. Voting ballots are available in the Carriage House Gallery on the grounds of the Estate. Free admission to the grounds.

The popular Murder at the Physick Estate returns with “Doorway to Darkness,” a new play by John K. Alvarez. Is there life after death? Do spirits wander on an ethereal plane? Are there ghosts roaming Cape May? During these performances, with the Physick Estate as a backdrop, a psychic and a scientist plan to address these questions once and for all. Afterwards, meet your evening’s performers over coffee and dessert in the Carriage House Tearoom & Café. View performance schedule

Tour Cape May’s original haunted house during a Phantoms of the Physick Estate Tour. For young children, there is a special kid-friendly, self-guided version of the tour during the daytime featuring spooky sounds, special effects and scary stuff. An evening self-guided tour of terror that gets a little spookier is geared toward adults and older children, with special effects, ghosts and ghouls, scary characters and sounds. Schedule and more information

  • Cape May’s Victorian gems display the “spirit” of the season on the Phantoms of Cape May tours on Saturdays
  • Psychic medium, ghost investigator and author, Craig McManus comes to the Emlen Physick Estatefor Midnight at the Physick Estate
  • Join Craig McManus, psychic medium and ghost writer for A Lighthouse Ride with the Ghost Writer on Saturday, Oct. 22
  • Board the MAC trolley for a spooky ride through the flickering gas-lit streets of Cape May during A Ride with The Ghost Writer
Many more spooky events are in store during Halloween Happenings in Cape May. Halloween Happenings in Victorian Cape May is sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), a multifaceted not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. MAC membership is open to all.

 

For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events or to purchase tickets to Halloween Happenings events call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at www.capemaymac.org.

One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with a new a culture is to get acquainted with the native food and eat like a local. These incredible vacation rentals provide the opportunity to become an expert in Indonesian, French, Mexican, or New Zealand Cooking with awesome deals!

In-house Dinner with Balinese Chef!

Bali Poolside Villa

50% Off French Cooking Classes!

Paris

It’s a quick stroll from Villa Salju to Brawa beach to enjoy stunning sunsets and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Have the in-house chef whip up authentic Indonsian while you relax on the back patio by the pool. A private driver can get you anywhere you need for more exploring.In the heart of Montmartre, this apartment boasts an incredible view of rue Lepin from the balcony. Try your hand at Coq Au Vin at your French cooking class and finish the night by visiting the nearby Moulin Rouge or take in the majestic view of the city from the Sacre Coeur.

Stay 10 Days, Pay for 7 with a Personal Chef!

Yucatan

NZ$250 for Wakitipu Bar and Grill!

New Zealand

The Casa Mariposa is a luxurious waterfront villa on the Mayan Riviera.  You will eat like a king with the in-house private chef to prepare your Mexican favorites. Puerto Aventuras is a quiet town perfect for relaxing by the pool or exploring the area on bikes or kayaks.The Stewart Lodge overlooks crystal clear Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by a picturesque mountain range in a four-season resort town. Try traditional Polynesian or Mauri fare with your food voucher to the Wakatipu Bar & Grill.

Bali 2

Here’s a great photo from Bali, submitted by Martin Duson via Facebook. Thanks Martin!


So you have a hankering for beer, waffles, and chocolate. Look no further! Bruges, a small city in the Flemish part of Belguim, conjures up images of beautiful stone buildings and delicious treats.  Just a quick train ride away from other popular destinations like Amsterdam, it’s a wonderful addition to any itinerary, and one not to be missed.

1. First things first: lose your map and get lost in the maze of winding cobblestone streets.  Bruges is small, so even if you try to get lost, you’ll still find your way back to the main square.  Without a guidebook, you’ll be able to actually enjoy the beautiful surroundings and find some local establishments off the beaten path.

2. Have lunch at Brasserie Medard.  They serve heaping bowls of delicious spaghetti for 3 Euro, and have local Belgian beer on tap.  They also serve coffee and waffles for cheap, and have games for little ones to play.

3. Take a tour of the local brewery, De Halve Maan.  The guides speak English and a few other languages, and give you an in-depth history of the brewery and the way the beer is created.  All that learning makes you thirsty, so at the end of the tour you can enjoy a complimentary beer out in the courtyard.

4. Walk the parks.  There are several beautiful parks within Bruges, each one different and charming.  Some are known for football and picnics, while others are for kissing and hand-holding.  At the top of the town, you can walk by several old windmills hidden amongst the trees – perfect to visit on an afternoon with a blanket and some snacks.

5. Hang out at the Bauhaus Hostel.  There are lots of young travelers here from all over, not to mention a big TV playing sports matches and free wifi.  The inside is cozy and comfortable, and the sidewalks outside the hostel are full of conversation and new friends.

6. Choose one of the many cafes overlooking one of the many canals and watch the sunset.  The early evening is a very romantic time in Bruges, and you’ll find many couples of all ages enjoying a quiet moment at dusk.  The tourists posing for backlit pictures of themselves by the water are also very entertaining.

7. Eat a waffle covered in chocolate and strawberries.  Or at least try.  I could hardly finish mine.  These incredibly decadent snacks are available around the city.  I got mine on the sidewalk out of a window, where a small crowd was trying to figure out which toppings they’d like.  Caramel, bananas, and sugar, oh my!

8. Find the sheep of Bruges.  According to the map our hotel provided, there is a park near the northern part of the city where flocks of sheep hang out and eat grass.  Supposedly not many locals know about this phenomenon, but how could they miss it?

9. Have dinner at Passage Restaurant.  This is the place to get mussels and french fries!  The dimly lit interior is cozy, and makes you feel like you’ve been transported back to a different century.

10. Before you leave, climb the Belfry Tower in the Market Square. 366 steps up a spirals staircase, and you can see all the winding streets you’ve been exploring.  It’s a breathtaking view, so bring your camera.

Bar Harbor Dogs

Our dogs have a sixth sense for when travel plans are in the air. Bust out the duffle bags and they go on high alert, watching carefully to see what gets packed, as a signal for what sort of fun is being planned: Swim suits? Oh joy—they love to chase sticks through the waves! Hiking boots? Yahoo! Evening clothes? Sigh… not so fun.

It’s true, there are plenty of ways to safely leave your dog behind when you travel. We’ve used kennels, dog-sitters, neighbor kids, and even doggie resorts. For many trips, it just makes sense. But what dog doesn’t love a road trip? Most hop right in, ready to be a loyal travel companion wherever you might be headed. Nose out the window, beard flattened by the breeze, catching all the smells that the backroads of America have to offer.

The tricky part of travel with dogs is finding the right destination, with recreation, dining, and vacation rental opportunities that don’t discriminate against the four-legged among us. Bar Harbor, Maine, is such a place, and autumn is absolutely the time to go.

Tiny Bar Harbor (population under 3,000) sits nestled on Mount Desert Island on the Maine coast, about a six-hour drive from Boston. Most of the island is protected, as part of Acadia National Park, and in fact the town of Bar Harbor is completely surrounded by the park. After arriving on the island, one of your first activities should be a drive up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the New England coastline (1530 feet). Take in the lay of the land and work out the kinks from the drive with a short hike in any direction.

The annual show of blazing colors begins in early September as the leaves turn red and yellow, and peaks by early October. I’ve never found a more stunning backdrop for hiking, and there is no shortage of hikes to tackle. Over 100 miles of hiking trails meander through the forested hills of the park, and dogs (on leashes!) are welcome on all but the most steep. For dogs that need to blow off steam before hiking on-leash, head over to the off-leash area at Little Long Pond, a privately-owned tract of land near Seal Harbor, on the southern end of the island.

After September 15th, dogs are also welcome on the public swimming beaches at Sand Beach and Echo Lake. Beyond the swimming beaches, there are miles of rocky shores for walking, retrieving sticks, and chasing waves. The town of Bar Harbor is extremely dog-friendly, and locals seem to bring their dogs everywhere: on buses, into shops, along the harbor, and on the decks of pubs and restaurants as they dine—try the tree-studded deck of the Dog and Pony Tavern for a perfect post-hike spot to linger over some local seafood and wind up the day.

Find more information about traveling with your pets in Acadia on Maine Vacations.

Taking an urban vacation is often a nice change of pace from the typical beach or resort backdrop of tourism.  An inner-city setting allows for countless activities, and gives you a chance to live like the locals.  From your urban vacation home, you’ll find a wide range of restaurants within walking distance, and live theaters, bars, and parks that can all be easily accessed and enjoyed.  The question remains, however, which big cities have the best vacation rentals?  Here’s a list of the top world’s 10 urban rental areas to help you decide where to visit!

10.) San Francisco Bay

San Francisco is a great place not only to enjoy some valued vacation time, but also to take part in the local culture.  Head to the famous Golden Gate Bridge, check out the local entertainment, or sample the freshest catch from the fish market at the pier.  You’re sure to have an urban retreat to remember in this lively corner of California.

9.) Berlin

The center of Germany’s culture since the fall of the Berlin Wall, this former Soviet stronghold offers no shortage of historical landmarks, activities, and tourist attractions.  For those who aren’t history buffs, there is plenty of German culture to take in as well.  Try a local bakery’s fresh baked breads, cakes, and other unique concoctions and confections for a taste you won’t soon forget.

8.) Rio de Janerio

As Brazil’s country’s second-largest city, you’ll find yourself in the heart of the country’s culture, with a skyline that offers countless picturesque photo opportunities.  The city is composed of five separate districts, all of which can be explored on your exciting urban getaway.

7.) Los Angeles

Only in the city of stars can you experience the glitz and glam that Hollywood has to offer. Whether you’re stolling down the Walk of Fame, taking a guided tour, or snapping photos of the notable landmarks (and celebrities), L.A. will provide a destination experience like no other urban spot can.

6.) Las Vegas

When it comes to urban cityscapes, Sin City has virtually every skyline beat.  Casinos, hotels, and all types of businesses spread out as far as your camera lens can see.  And with activities from gambling and shopping to hanging out by the pool and relaxing, every visitor is sure to find their pastime of choice in America’s playground.

5.) Washington, D.C.

Who says the nation’s capital is just for politics?  Washington, D.C. has plenty of museums, monuments, and educational stops that all add up to create a distinctly unique urban vacation experience.  Not to mention, many of these historical monuments and activities are offered free of charge.

4.) Rome

Take a tour of the Coliseum and other Roman ruins in this historic ancient city, or visit the Vatican City and the famous Sistine Chapel to see historical landmarks in action. Once you’ve finished touring the sites, take in the flavors of Roma.  No matter your cup of tea (or plate of pasta), the Italian Capital provides its guests with an incredible selections of food and wine, not to mention seemingly endless gelato flavors.

3.) Barcelona

Expand your urban horizons by traveling to Barcelona, Spain’s center of art and culture. The locals speak Catalan, a romance language that is a mixture between Spanish and French.  Decipher a local map and visit Gaudi’s famous “Sagrada Familia” cathedral and take a stroll by the Nou Camp – the largest soccer stadium in the world.

2.) Paris

No urban vacation list would be complete without one of the world’s most beloved cities: Paris.  This heavily-populated town is home to some of the most famous markets in the world, ranging from high-end couture to mom-and-pop shops.  Take advantage of the city of lights by living like a local and enjoying more off-the-beaten-path parts of town. You may find a hidden gem among the city’s many jewels.

1.) New York City

Finally, we reach our number one urban rental destination: NYC.  Not only is New York the biggest city in the U.S., but the Big Apple is also home to five separate boroughs … meaning five distinct downtown cultures.  Catch an acclaimed Broadway play and walk to Central Park when you visit Manhattan, or explore the city’s subway to head out to Queens or Brooklyn. You can spend a lifetime of vacations in New York without seeing it all. Next time, try renting a vacation home in a new boroughs and exploring your surroundings. You’ll be surprised at how much there is to discover!

Sometimes the inconvenience of transportation to and from the airport can be a deterrent from taking a chance and visiting a more exotic part of the world.  Car rentals are  a viable transportation alternative but can be impractical with little need for usage after arriving at your rental home.  To reduce unwanted transportation expenses, some rental owners have decided to offer special pick up and drop of services for guests!

Vanuatu!

Vanuatu

Marrakesh!

Marrakesh

Located in the warm waters of the South Pacific, this Vanuatu home is perfect for a family vacation. Take a short walk on the beach to Hideaway Island to go snorkeling, or hit the links for a round of golf. Relax at the pool after being dropped off from the airport and enjoy the surrounding mango trees.Book a four night stay in this Marrakesh riad and enjoy free airport transportation as well as a high quality dinner upon arrival. Explore the nearby Jemaa el-Fnaa Square to witness snake charmers in action while sampling the local flavor from one of the many food stalls.

Jamaica!

Jamaica

Nairobi!

Nairobi

Set between Moboay Bay and Negril in the quiet town of Hanover, this Jamaican gem is just the place for a peaceful and relaxing getaway. Free airport transportation will relieve stress upon arrival, and the ocean view from the balcony and backyard pool will take it from there.Easy access to the United Nations complex and group safari options make this secure country house in Nairobi ideal for travelers of any ilk. A residential chef will satisfy your culinary whims, and cars are available for visits to the village market and shopping malls.

Of all of the vacation prospects available, for many dedicated consumers, none seem quite as thrilling as an entire trip devoted to shopping. People from all across the globe enjoy purchasing goods with their hard earned dollars, and what better way to join them by taking a shopping vacation? Although the idea of this kind of trip may sound pricey, remember that you’re saving on activities, and you only have to spend as much as you choose. Plus, spending the day window shopping or people watching can be an entirely free day of entertainment. But for those who are all about the merchandise, try on this list of excellent shopping vacations before planning your big spree.

Shopping in Paris

Mall of America

Known as the biggest mall in the USA (and the second in the continent; Canada holds the top honors), the Mall of America is home to more than 520 stores, more than enough to keep you busy for several days. The Mall’s main attractions also include dining and amusement park rides. With all of these options you’re sure to be kept busy even after you’re all shopped out.

New York City

The Big Apple holds several notable shopping districts within the city limits. Head down to Madison Avenue, do some upscale shopping on Fifth Avenue, and then take the train down to SoHo for an array of shopping possibilities. With such a large city to browse, you’re sure to have plenty of stores to choose from throughout your spending spree of a vacation.

Paris

The world capital of haute couture has more clothing stores than you’ll have time to even consider shopping at. Home to thousands of designers and boutiques with a unique style of their own, Paris has the style for you. And who says shopping is strictly for clothes? Take advantage of Paris’s reputation for delicious cuisine: stroll the streets in search of bistro fare, cheeses, breads, and wines and don’t head home until you’re full.

Beverly Hills

No list of shopping destinations would be complete without including the famous Rodeo drive, located in the heart of Beverly Hills. The street is known world-wide for its prestigious list of shops and the glamorous people who frequent them. Join the hype of fashion week, or take part in one of the street’s many annual events such as Snow 90210 Rodeo. This destination will offer plenty of shopping opportunities as well as entertainment for all ages.

Bangkok, Thailand

For those who are looking to shy away from your average shopping experience, Bangkok is anything but ordinary. On weekends, the city holds the Chatuchak Weekend Market, a flea market of sorts that covers more than 35 acres with all kinds of goods. The market, which receives approximately 200,000 visitors per day, offers many homemade products and items for sale. The city also hosts a large number of stores from upscale shops, to street stalls, to farmer’s markets.

Taking a shopping vacation can introduce you to new cultures and offer experiences like no other trip can. So keep these destinations in mind for your next one-stop shop-till-you-drop vacation.