Home Archives 2013 April

Monthly Archives: April 2013

With warm weather finally approaching and two big upcoming May holidays (Mother’s Day and Memorial Day weekend), the bookings are flying in here at FlipKey and everyone is talking about their future vacation plans. In fact, two of our very own FlipKey travelers were in sunny Puerto Rico just last week. You can check out some of their beautiful beach photos on our new Instagram account – be sure to follow @FlipKey_Vacation for updates!

Because of the surge in travel, April was buzzing with traveler surveys as well as celebrity news thanks to Jay-Z and Beyonce’s recent trip to Havana and Tom Cruise’s astronaut ambitions.  We’re especially excited to start traveling again, so we have to ask: Did you book a rental in April? Where are you headed for the summer? We’d love to hear about your vacation plans!

Vacation Rentals of the Month

Vacation Rentals of the Month(From left to right:  Luminous Gerogia Home,  Lisbon Apartment with Stunning ViewsCasa Ladera)

Travel Trends

Chinese Tourists Now Biggest Source of Travel Spending
With a 40% increase from last year, Chinese tourists are officially the biggest spenders when it comes to travel. According to the UN World Tourism Organization, the total tourism income from China is $102 billion.

TripAdvisor Reveals Results of Fourth Annual Vacation Rental Survey 
What’s most likely to sway you to book a rental over a hotel? According to TripAdvisor’s newest survey, savings, last-minute deals, and more living space are just a few of the reasons why rentals are an excellent accommodation alternative.

Beyonce and Jay-Z’s Cuba Trip Part of Growing Cultural Travel Trend
Jay-Z and Queen B headed to Cuba to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary in style. But, like any high-profile celebrity couple, they caused quite a stir with their visit and prompted both an investigation and a brand new song by Jay himself.

Travel Gadgets

New Apps Let You Take Vacations Shots Like a Pro
Instagram isn’t the only option for amateur photographers – check out USA Today’s list of photo apps that will make those vacation shots especially memorable.

Travel Stories

Tom Cruise Wants to Travel to Space and Meet Aliens Cruise’s love for sci-fi is no secret, but who knew he was so serious about traveling to space and chatting with a few aliens?

Tandem Pedals Power World Adventure
Instead of buying a house or having children, this couple took their tandem bike, named “Willie”, and rode across Europe, China, and the Middle East for a total of 25,000 kilometers.

Boston Marathon Explosions Attract an Outpouring of Help from City’s Residents
Following the tragic events of the Boston Marathon, thousands rallied to support those affected by offering a place to stay. The extensive list included e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and messages – some wrote that they would cook dinner or pay for a cab rides, but all offered a piece of home, rest, and comfort.

Travel Destinations

Travel Tips: Stay in a Converted Tobacco Factory in Tuscany or Try Camping the Old Fashioned Way
A tobacco factory in Tuscany? We think this estate would make for a wonderful, luxurious vacation (or honeymoon!).

What Are the Best Cities for Runners?
If you’re traveling to any urban environment, chances are you won’t have time to map out a run. That’s why these cities offer the best and most convenient trails for tourists.

9 “Roll & Go’ New Hampshire RV Adventures
A beautiful and unique New Hampshire family vacation. Check out Kathy Tully’s landmarks and favorite spots from her RV trip.

Family vacations are great opportunities to create memories that last a lifetime, but painful travel experiences can generate unpleasant memories that never fade. Neverending car rides and missed flights can ruin otherwise fun trips. In my own travels, I have always avoided layovers in Denver because I still remember playing on the moving sidewalks until I was bored and irritable during two extended layovers in Denver International Airport. I’m sure my dad wished we were anyplace but a large, busy terminal for those seemingly endless delays. These days, even a routine flight can involve long delays at the airport thanks to increased security and reduced staff at check-in. So how do you keep the kids happy on the fly?

While you can never guarantee a trip free of delays and mishaps, you can nevertheless plan the best way to handle those situations when they arise. To help ensure good travel memories and smooth vacations, we’ve put together a list of the best kid-friendly airports for long layovers. These airports provide more than just moving sidewalks to keep the kids busy. Kid-friendly amenities include everything from aviation-themed play areas and educational exhibits to private family rooms and rocking chairs for mothers with infants.

We judged these airports based on their kid-friendly amenities, convenience as a stopping point, and proximity to great family vacation spots. Next time your family takes to the sky, plan for the unexpected by connecting through these family-conscious hubs.

San Francisco

SFO AquariumWhile San Francisco is a common endpoint to a journey, it can also serve as a great connection to Asia-Pacific destinations like Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo. Before stepping onto a long trans-Pacific flight, there are few airports better suited to entertaining kids than SFO.

The airport includes nurseries in Terminals 1, 2, and 3; Kids’ Spot play areas in three locations, and three different aquariums in Terminal 1 before security. Dedicated family lanes also help families get through security at their own pace. The convenient security lanes can be helpful on very long layovers, as SFO’s location makes it relatively easy to escape the airport and explore San Francisco for an hour or two between flights.

A-List Mom Travel ranked SFO the second best airport terminal for kids (after O’Hare). They point out that the airport has great options for older kids and parents in addition to the play areas, including the Commission Aviation Library and the 11,500 square foot Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum. The museum, “conjures up a feeling of a bygone era when traveling was a sophisticated pastime for only the rarefied few.”

SFO is so dedicated to keeping your family happy and engaged between flights that they have put together self-guided tours of the airport terminals. The tours will lead you and your kids to the various exhibits, play areas, and airport features that make SFO unique. They also include questions and challenges to occupy the little ones. There’s no better way to spend a long layover than taking the family on a treasure hunt.

Boston Logan

Logan KidportIf you are taking the kids out of the country, then Boston’s Logan International Airport is a great place to catch your flight. The domestic and international terminals are connected by walkways, so transfers are quick and easy. The most popular international flights from Boston connect with European hubs London, Frankfurt, and Paris, though you can also fly direct to Tokyo and Beijing.

Families facing a layover in Boston will find the airport well-equipped to keep your kids entertained. Two Kid Port play areas, created with the Boston Children’s Museum, are located in Terminals A and C. Like O’Hare, Logan’s indoor playgrounds feature plane and tower shaped climbing structures. These play spaces also include seating for parents, as well as an area for watching TV. Atlanta-based blog, My Busy Children, advises, “I would definitely recommend waiting for the airplane there with kids instead of the gate area.”

Keeping the youngest jet setters in mind, Logan also features rocking chairs, family restrooms, and rooms for nursing mothers who want some space and privacy.

In addition to major domestic and international flights, Logan is also a hub for transportation to regional vacation destinations like Cape Cod, Vermont, and Maine.

 

Phoenix

Read more about Phoenix airport here.

Atlanta

YangchuanosaurusAtlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport is the busiest airport in the world, and also one of the coolest airports for kids to visit (it came in first for amenities and third for families on a recent Travel Leaders Group poll cited on Gadling). Why? Dinosaurs. In addition to its two play areas, the Atlanta airport features a fully assembled skeleton of Yangchuanosaurus—a dinosaur that lived in China during the Jurassic period. This particular dinosaur now lives in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atrium, to the amazement of children and parents passing through.

Hartsfield-Jackson also features an Airport Art program that includes artworks and rotating exhibits that delight passengers of all ages. The Youth Art Galleries on concourses D, E, and T display art projects by Georgia students.

Atlanta is a major hub for Delta, and the most popular domestic flights connect with many cities in Florida, New York City, and Dallas, along with international hotspots like Cancun, Jamaica, and Nassau.

Keep in mind that Hartfield-Jackson is an enormous airport, and more than a few travelers have gotten lost in its concourses. While it’s one of the better airports for keeping the kids busy, you should also make sure your children don’t stray far, and remember to leave plenty of time to get from play areas and exhibits to your gate before your flight leaves.

 by Wan Phing Lim of AsiaRooms.com

Southeast Asia has always been a major destination on the backpacker trail, but as we all get a little older, I for one would like to share these adventures with my family. Now it’s possible thanks to the advent of cheaper flights and with the rise of budget airlines within the region. The whole of Asia has opened up and the resorts and activities aimed at families have skyrocketed. Here is a taster of the possibilities.

1. Singapore
The city-state of Singapore on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula offers everything you would expect from a wealthy, modern metropolis. A major international airport makes it a doddle to get to and there are a huge number of world class hotels and resorts, gourmet restaurants and luxury shops. The amazing Sentosa resort is a world in itself with luxury hotels, theme park attractions including Universal Studios, beaches, nature walks and two world-class golf courses. If you do manage to take yourself away from Sentosa, a personal favourite is the Singapore Zoo, which boasts more than 2,800 animals and a Night Safari that’s like nothing else you’ll find in the country.

2. Hong Kong
Many have stopped off in Hong Kong en-route to other destinations, but for an unforgettable family holiday, you really needn’t go any further. The unbelievable skyline is the first thing you’ll recognize, so a trip to The Peak is a must. The highest point on Hong Kong Island, The Peak offers views that will stay with you and your family for a lifetime. The Star Ferry Cruise gives great views of the metropolis from the harbour, and it provides a relaxing way to explore Hong Kong. You may be surprised by possibilities of outdoor activities away from the city, and with Disneyland and Ocean Park theme parks you’re truly spoilt for choice. One last thing: at night the city is transformed into a neon wonderland, so make sure to go out in the evening and enjoy the lights.

Wong Tai Sin

Hong Kong is an extremely colourful and vibrant city, with lively markets, temples and theme parks like Disneyland and Ocean Park for all the family.

3. Phuket, Thailand
When you first hear Phuket, you might think beach party, but this tropical paradise has really developed since its backpacker heydays, and is now a major family destination. Phuket hotels are world class and for the ultimate beach side family break, you can’t do much better than this resort. Thailand’s excellent value for money still applies, and elephant rides for the kids and parents alike will be an activity you’ll never forget. There are tons of other great activities too, like diving, windsurfing, island hopping and even and go-karting. That is, if you can drag yourselves away from the beach first!

FOTO Hotel Phuket

Phuket is home to beautiful beaches and many luxury hotels located along Patong, Kata and Karon beach.

4. Nha Trang, Vietnam
Nha Trang is considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Friendly locals, a fascinating history, stunning beaches with crystal clear waters, and warm sunny weather all year round make this part of Vietnam a tourist hotspot. A number of large family oriented resorts have sprung up along the shore, including Vinpearl Island, which is home to its own theme park. The resort is connected to the mainland by the world’s longest over water cable car, and is an attraction in itself.

beach umbrella sunshade

Nha Trang is an upcoming resort destination located on the central coast of central Vietnam

5. Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
In the heart of Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands sit high above sea level. Surrounded by endless valleys of stunning green, made up of tea plantations and forests, any family with a passion for nature and rural life will relish the Cameron Highlands. The nature reserves make for perfect trekking and 4WD tours that are ideal for families. The area is rich in colonial history and with fertile soils ideal for farming, a trip to some of the farms is a must. The tea plantations are some of the world’s finest, and this ancient process is fascinating to experience firsthand. You also won’t want to miss out on the strawberry picking either – delicious!

Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands is a favourite family holiday destination thanks to its picturesque hills and activities like strawberry picking

Wan Phing is the online editor at AsiaRooms.com. Born and raised in Penang, Malaysia, she has lvied in Beijing, London, Benevento, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester and currently resides in Singapore. She loves travel, photography and discovering new trends.

With just over a month to go before Mother’s Day, it’s time to think about showing your mom how much you love her. Flowers, scented candles, and gift baskets may make a utilitarian top 10 list of Mother’s Day gifts, but your mother doesn’t want you to order a token of your appreciation from Amazon… She wants to see you and spend time with you. Remember those family vacations you used to go on when you were a kid? Your parents actually loved dragging you to beautiful places to relax as a family. This year, it’s time to turn the tables and let your mom know you were paying attention back then. Take her on a vacation for a couple of days this May and you’ll definitely be Mom’s favorite. Best of all, many properties offer special deals for the special day, so with the money you save, Dad can come too.

ThePAChaletThe PA Chalet Get $50 off your Stay

This comfortable home in the Poconos is the perfect place to hang out with the family. Located on Lake Wallenpaupack, the Chalet is close to water activities, hiking, horseback riding and local shopping. The home sleeps 10, so you can bring the whole family.

 

FishingGulf Bay Paradise Mother’s Day Special

A paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, this Port Mansfield home is perfectly situated for fishing and bird watching. If your mom likes to go after the catch of the day, then she will love the proximity to “the big ones: Sailfish, Marlin, Tarpon, Ling, Mackerel and Snapper.” If she’s not an angler, then she’ll love the mild weather, outdoor pool, and BBQ area for family meals.

BethlehemCottage in the White Mountains $50 Gas Card

For families in the Northeast, an escape to New Hampshire’s White Mountains is just the ticket for Mother’s Day. Bethlehem is the type of quiet New England town that combines nature, nostalgia, and a bit of funkiness in one place. Enjoy amazing views, access to golf and hiking, and a fun Main Street with quality restaurants and shops.

Royal Mauian BeachRoyal Mauian $25 off per night

If you haven’t given your Mom a Mother’s Day gift in years, then you can make up for lost time with a trip to Hawaii. A trip to Maui is a vacation in paradise, and this condo at the Royal Mauian Resort has everything you need to make Mom happy. Walk a short way to the beach or the pool, or head up to the roofdeck to take in the views of Mt. Haleakala and the neighboring islands.

Linda's ResortLinda’s Resort 5% Off

Take advantage of a condo stocked with all the necessary toys for a fun day at the beach. Linda’s resort comes with kayaks, cruiser bikes, beach chairs, and a great location on Manasota Key. Both the beach and the town are within walking distance of the condo, which features a fully equipped kitchen and excellent outdoor areas for relaxing, dining, and enjoying one another’s company.

March was a big month in travel..and can you believe it? We almost missed it! The FlipKey Blog was out of commission for the month due to technical issues — we apologize if this caused any inconveniences and we’re happy to report that we’re ready to start blogging again.

For our first comeback post, we wanted to do a quick recap of all the travel stories we missed in the past four weeks. Hot topics this month included: Spring Break, Easter weekend, and National Passport Day. And, if you were anywhere near snow, rain, or a combination of both (we call it snain), travel plans for many were, unfortunately, delayed. Take a look at our top posts, stories, and photos of the month and let us know if we missed anything. Enjoy!

 

Vacation Rentals of the Month

rentals of the month March

(From top left to bottom right 1. Bourbon Ridge Lodge 2. SandCastle Pointe 3. Hideaways in the Hay 4. Disney Home with Private Pool and Sundeck)

 

Travel Trends

Spring Break Travel Trends: Beaches are No. 1

 

Travel Gadgets

Tote this Gear, and You’ll Be Traveling with Ease

 Best Travel Gear for Business Travelers (PHOTOS)

 

Travel Stories

Golden Age of Air Travel

Rodman: I’m Going on Vacation with Kim in August

National Passport Day is March 9th 

Extreme Weather Photos of the Week

 

Travel Destinations

20 China Travel Tips

Arctic Man: Travel Channel Sets Sights on Wild, Wacky Snowmachine Race

The 2013 Travel Awards (Outside Magazine)

7 Crazy Destinations for Cat Lovers (PHOTOS)

by Anis Salvesen of Tripping.com

Spring is here, and the world is ready to celebrate.  From festivals featuring massive fires to festivals involving countless liters of water, here are some favorite spring celebrations around the world.

Las Fallas

Every year, the people of the Spanish city of Valencia celebrate Las Fallas, a five day festival which features parades, fireworks, paella contests, and bullfights.  Giant papier mache figures known as ninots are displayed around the city.  The festival culminates in the burning of the figures, which are filled with fireworks and put on quite the captivating ending to a week of celebration.  The main celebration takes place from March 15th to March 19th.

Nowruz

Nowruz is often referred to as the “Persian New Year.”  The name means “New Day” and marks both the first day of spring and the commencement of the new year in the Iranian calendar.  It has a long, rich 3,000 year history and is also celebrated in parts of South Asia, Central Asia, Northwestern China, the Crimea, Caucasus and parts of the Balkans.   It is typically celebrated on March 21st every year.

St. Patrick’s Day

Though it’s only been an official public holiday in Ireland since 1903, St. Patrick’s Day is now celebrated  in most corners of the globe. A celebration of Irish culture, it’s typically marked by parades, parties and the wearing of the color green.

Holi

Holi

Photo credit:   AP Photo/Kevin Frayer

Holi is the Hindu spring festival of colors.  In most areas it lasts two days. On the eve of the festival, bonfires are lit and prayers are uttered.  The main day is celebrated with street parties and people throw pigment powder and water.  Holi is celebrated on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna. In 2013, Holi will be on Wednesday, March 27th.

Songkran Water Festival

Celebrated throughout Thailand (and other parts of Southeast Asia), the Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai is the most famous.  Songkran runs from April 12th to April 15th.  First everyone tosses old items out of their homes and burns them to avoid bad fortune.  Then offerings are made to Buddha statues, which are washed with perfumed water and paraded through the streets.  Everyone who ventures out is soaked by fellow revelers who use everything from buckets to water guns to soak anyone they encounter.

Which spring festival is your favorite?

Anis Salvesen is an avid traveler, polyglot and editor of the Tripping blog.  She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys outdoor activities, trying new restaurants and exploring the city.  If you’re headed to San Francisco, you can connect with her and other locals via Tripping’s worldwide community of travelers and locals.