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Trips

Packing for Adventure

Back in the day when checking bags at the airport was not a luxury, travelers brought it all. Luggage was roomy! In fact, I have distinct memories of being able to climb into my parents’ suitcase, and fit my seven-year old self in there quite comfortably, along with my five-year old sister. These days, it would be hard to fit a pair of Chihuahuas into the typical rolling suitcase, and travelers need to get a whole lot pickier about what they pack.

For an urban visit, packing light is easy – good walking shoes plus a few versatile outfits that can go from museum to dinner, and you’re set. When your vacation involves one or more days of outdoor recreation and adventure, however, successful packing requires some serious thought and planning. Whether you are heading to the mountains, the woods, or the beach, having the right clothing and gear available can make or break your vacation.

Clothes

Lodging at a vacation rental makes the clothing part easier, because laundry facilities are usually available in the home, so you can pack fewer items. Sweaty, muddy, dusty clothing from one day’s hike or bike outing can be freshened up for the next day’s adventure—trust me, your friends and family will thank you. You’ll also appreciate having access to laundry when you re-pack for the trip home, without needing to bag up your grimy adventurewear!

Planning what clothes to pack means thinking about the climate. Even in the summer, mountain towns experience a huge range of temperatures from morning through evening. Several thinner layers – such as a long sleeve thermal, a fleece, and a shell – can be just as warm as one large jacket, but take up less space, and are more adaptable to conditions. Can your shell serve as a rain jacket? Choose clothing that can do double duty (pants that zip off into shorts are a great example.)

Gear

In most cases, it’s the gear that really eats up space when packing for an adventure-filled vacation. Helmets, boots, snorkel masks, skis, boards, paddles, neoprene, binoculars, waders, fly rods… this is where the rubber meets the road when packing for a well-equipped trip. The trick is to decide which pieces to rent at your destination, and which are critical enough that you really would like to bring your own. There are no hard and fast rules, just personal preferences based on how you’d answer a few questions:

How many times will you use the gear? On past trips to Cozumel, I packed all my own snorkel gear: fins, gloves, booties, mask and snorkel. We snorkeled every day, it was great to have everything fit and work well. Recently we traveled to Cabo, and I knew we’d have only one day of snorkeling. I still packed the mask, but rented the rest of the gear.

How picky are you about fit? Some items are one-size-fits-all (ski poles, for example). Sometimes the normal sizes just don’t fit! This seems to be especially true for ski boots, because unhappy feet can spoil the best bluebird day ever. It’s worth making room or paying the extra luggage fee to BYOB—bring your own boots. When size doesn’t matter, like with waders for fly-fishing, by all means renting is a great option.

Is it available to rent? A few calls to local gear shops can help identify what is available. If you’re planning to bike, be sure to specify whether you’ll just be cruising flat forest roads, or if you’ll be riding hard on singletrack—the bikes are very different for each of those scenarios! Reserve the right sizes as well, and find out if the shop has helmets available.

Dining

One final packing tip: any day of outdoor recreation is better with a little picnic action on the summit or the sand. Plan ahead and pack (not in your carry-on, of course) a corkscrew, a cheese knife, and a can opener, or a multi-purpose tool with all three. Then toast to your grand adventure and your excellent packing skills!

Destination Wedding Rental

Anyone who has planned or attended a wedding knows that there is one very important issue that must be addressed for out-of-town guests: where to stay. More often than not families or wedding planners will contact a local hotel to reserve room blocks at a special rate for wedding guests, taking the guesswork and worry out of what could be an unnecessarily stressful situation. This system works pretty well for the most part, but things get a little more complicated when the wedding in question is a destination wedding.

Why’s that? Well, in a destination wedding, not only do guests require out-of-town accommodation, the same goes for the bride and groom, their families and the wedding party. Expenses can be through the roof not only because of the extra bookings involved, but also because space considerations usually demand booking superior rooms and suites. Will the entire bridal party be comfortable getting ready in a tiny twin room? Not likely.

Renting an apartment or house for a destination wedding is a great solution to the dilemmas of space and cost. If a large rental is available – perhaps a multi-room beach villa – most of the family can be accommodated together so that they can truly celebrate the occasion (don’t worry bride and groom, there surely is a private bungalow nearby to rent for some peace and quiet). A rental is a great staging area for the bridal party to get together. Instead of trekking out to a salon to do hair and makeup, the professionals can come to you. And depending on what kind of ceremony is planned, many rentals have their own private gardens or beaches, so everything can be done on site! Most catering companies have worked parties at private residences, so food should not be an issue.

Even if the wedding itself is held elsewhere, a rental will still come in handy. For the budget conscious, a rental is the perfect place to host brunch the day after the wedding. Many rentals in the Caribbean or as far away as Bali come with private chef perks. Or you can DIY! Renting an apartment or house saves the need to book venues for the welcome gathering, rehearsal dinner, brunches and more, thus cutting down considerably on expenses.

Before you leave for your big day, here’s a checklist to help with some common destination wedding issues:

  • Do you have your officiant in place? It’s easy to find registered officiants in the popular destination wedding locales – a quick google search should do it.
  • Do you need to bring birth certificates, divorce certificates or any other supporting documentation from your home country? What documents do you need after the ceremony to make sure the wedding is legal back home? Do you need them translated?
  • Does your bridal fashion pack well? Do you know a highly recommended local dry cleaner for last minute wedding dress/suit pressing?
  • Have you contacted a local florist for decor?
  • Which are the trusted caterers in the area? Do any local restaurants offer catering services?
  • If you plan on cooking your own meals at the rental, where are the closest supermarkets and food shops?
  • Have you booked beauty and grooming appointments? Can the stylists come to you?

Mary-Elizabeth O’Neill is a New York based event designer who has lived in Paris and London. She travels frequently, loves writing about her adventures and appreciates your comments! You can find Mary-Elizabeth on Twitter as @m_oneill_nyc.

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.

There are few spots in the world where an outdoor enthusiast can ski down a snowy glen, bike through forested singletrack, and play nine holes on a prime golf course, all in one day. Sunriver, Oregon is one of those spots.

Mount Bachelor offers skiing through May!

With the high desert stretching off to the east and the Cascade mountain peaks rising to the west, the Oregon landscape offers a plethora of adventure opportunities throughout the year. During the early spring months Mother Nature tends to go a little bi-polar – sixty and sunny one day, twenty and blowing snow the next – but those crazy weather swings allow winter sports to overlap with summer sports, setting the perfect stage for a Sunriver Spring Triathlon. Here’s how to plan your day, manage your gear, and make the most of your experience:

Stage 1: Ski

You’ll need an early start to accomplish the Sunriver Spring Triathlon. Pack up your ski gear and head out from your Sunriver vacation rental up to Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort, just twenty minutes up the Cascade Lakes Highway. The mountain features glacial fields that keep the chairlifts spinning until late May. Catch the first chair as it opens at nine o’clock and ride spring corn snow all morning. By the time the sunshine softens the snow into afternoon slush, no worries, because you are off to your next event!

Stage 2: Bike

It’s back to your cabin to grab a sandwich and swap skis and boots for bikes and sneakers. Over thirty miles of trails start right out of Sunriver, ranging from easy cruiser trails along the Deschutes River, to down-n-dirty technical singletrack mountain biking that winds through rolling Ponderosa forests and lava fields. It’s a very good idea to check in at the local bike shop to find rentals, and pick up a trail map. Don’t forget to ask the staff for recommendations on trails that fit your group’s skill level. Bring water, a warm extra layer, and of course a few snacks!

Stage 3: Golf

Got energy left after conquering the trails? Cruise back to your home base for a quick shower and change of clothing, and then wrap up the triathlon day with nine holes of golf. Central Oregon’s golf courses are just shaping up for the season right now and many offer early-season deals, especially in the late afternoon and twilight hours. For great golf value right down the road, check out Quail Run in Sunriver; serious golfers may want to make the twenty-minute drive to Tetherow, a semi-private golf destination designed by David McKay Kidd.

Putt out at the ninth hole, and mission accomplished! Your Sunriver Spring Triathlon is complete. Time to relax back at your home in Sunriver , swap stories from the day, and enjoy a good night’s sleep. You’ve earned it!

Suzanne Johnson lives, writes and plays in the Cascade mountains of Oregon with her family of adventure-prone boys. More of her writing can be found a SuzanneMyhreJohnson.com.

Photobucket

It feels like spring has finally arrived. Here in Boston we have definitely started to get our April showers, which bring with them high expectations for May flowers. Travelers with children in school may have a spring break coming up, but for most of us it’s time to start thinking about summer travel. Whether you’re planning a couple weekend getaways or one long summer vacation, now is a good time to start looking for deals and availability on FlipKey – it’s a great way to stay dry and optimistic on rainy April days!

Summer vacation rental bookings are heating up. According to a New York Times article, bookings in some popular vacation spots are “up twenty percent compared to last year.” If you want to have your choice of vacation rentals, then don’t hesitate to begin planning your summer getaway!

Do you travel with your best friend? The four-legged one, that is. If so, you might be interested in a useful new tool from pethotelsofamerica.com that helps you search for pet-friendly rental cars.

Today, the Key West City Commission will officially oppose a pair of Florida state senate bills that would “essentially remove the ability for municipal governments to regulate short-term vacation rentals,” reports KeysNet.com. The city commission wishes to retain the ability to control short term rentals through licenses and taxes.

Tell us about your summer travel plans! Will you be traveling with pets? Visiting Key West? Where do you dream of visiting when it’s raining at home?

Road Tripping

Steeped in history and filled with impressive attractions that have inspired awe in millions of visitors, Washington, DC is one of America’s most visited major cities. Yet, as someone from the MD/DC area, I had visited every historic site and every museum that you could think of by age 12. Road tripping became my solution to escaping the “same-olds” of the tri-state area. Here is a list of the top 10 road trip destinations that I have taken in the area. Some of these destinations make excellent day trips for visitors to the Capital, while others make great weekend destinations for locals looking to escape the city.

1. Annapolis, MD (40 mi, <1 hr)

Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, is only a short drive away and has a beautiful old town aesthetic. You can enjoy historic sites such as the Maryland State House or get into the thriving community theatre scene by catching a show performed by the Colonial Players. At night, check out the Annapolis Harbor and have dinner on the waterfront by candlelight!

2. Baltimore, MD (47 mi, 1hr)

An architectural masterpiece, Baltimore is filled with everything from 18th century structures to I.M. Pei’s modern masterpieces. My favorite area is the Harbor: home to the incredible Baltimore Aquarium and tons of fun places to grab a meal or a drink by the water. When it’s warm out, you should definitely go for a paddleboat ride for a sea-level experience!

3. Richmond, VA (100 mi, 2 hrs)

Discover history and adventure in nearby Richmond, VA. Here, more than 400 years of American history live on through magnificent architecture, monument-lined cobblestone streets, and world-class museums. Brave the gorgeous yet intense James River: the only urban setting with Class IV rapids. Rafting is just one of many outdoor activities close by. For more urban adventurers, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is constantly expanding its world-class offerings, and more than 900 restaurants make Richmond a foodie paradise.

4. Shenandoah Valley, VA (112 mi, 2.5 hrs)

Blanketed in shades of amber, gold, and green in the fall, Shenandoah is a mandatory road-trip destination for anyone looking for a slice of nature in the tri-state area. The Valley has many areas that are open for camping, as well as plenty of cabins for rent. Plan a visit to one of the pristine limestone caverns for sights that will truly take your breath away. The most famous underground adventures are the Luray Caverns, which also boast a mind-boggling hedge maze right outside the caves!

5. Bethany Beach & Rehoboth Beach, DE (134 mi, 3hrs)

South Bethany Beach is one of the best-kept secrets along the east coast. The friendly inhabitants of this tucked-away city will be happy to show you its picturesque boardwalk, miles of crystal clear waters along the beaches, great shopping and more. Most of the trendy boutiques and restaurants serving up fresh local seafood can be found along South Garfield Parkway, but there’s plenty to do across town as well.

A word to the wise: If you want to enjoy a relaxing beach vacation free of hordes of local teenagers, then steer clear of these destinations, as well as Ocean City, during the first half of June. When school lets out for the summer, High school students from the surrounding areas overrun the typically peaceful spot during “beach week.”

6. Ocean City, MD (153 mi, 3hrs)

Ocean City is a fun, family-oriented beach destination with an incredible boardwalk, fun nightlife, delicious seafood and more mini-golf courses than you can shake a putter at! My family frequented this beach for years, and I still have not managed to try every mini-golf course (not from lack of trying!). Ocean City can be a good choice for frugal travelers who don’t need to spend extra to stay in more posh communities like Bethany.

7. Philadelphia, PA (142 mi, 3 hrs)

Famous as the birthplace of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Philadelphia offers much more than just cobblestone streets and historical landmarks. Cultural, culinary, artistic and ethnic treasures abound in this city and its surrounding countryside. What makes Philadelphia so memorable are the unique blend of experiences that you have to discover in person. By day, explore four centuries of history and architecture, beautiful neighborhoods, and remarkable museum collections. After the sun sets, the city heats up with acclaimed performing arts, amazing dining and vibrant nightlife. And don’t forget: it’s worth the trip just for the city’s signature cheese steak!

8. Atlantic City, NJ (197 mi, 3.5hrs)

From New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse to deep-sea fishing, and everything in between, you can always find excitement in Atlantic City. Relax at one of the Atlantic City casino spas, go all in on the excitement of 24/7 gaming, experience the thrill of a full house, feel the sand between your toes or visit one of the many attractions in this historic resort town. Atlantic City also offers an extensive boardwalk, pristine golf courses, and a variety of water sports to enjoy on your road tripping adventure.

9. Pittsburgh, PA (255 mi, 5hrs)

Previously known as a blue-collar city responsible for half of the steel production in the states, Pittsburgh has truly transformed itself into a unique and exciting travel destination.  Whether its catching a game of one of the city’s three professional teams or checking out the top notch museums and fine arts centers funded by the legacy of Andrew Carnegie, the city truly exhibits a unique flavor. Pittsburgh has many public green spaces, parks and riverside trails maintained throughout the city’s hilly landscape. From many of these areas, walkers, joggers and bikers are treated to spectacular views of a skyline that’s scene sleek, towering glass and steel architecture is a dramatic departure from the days when the grey cloud of industry loomed over the ‘Burgh.

10. Raleigh, NC (256 mi, 4.5 hrs)

When you’re looking for the excitement and attractions of a great city, combined with the affordability, approachability and appeal of a classic town with authentic southern hospitality, look no further than Raleigh. Best known for its world-class museums, best-of-Broadway shows, Capital area historic sites, professional sporting events and shopping mecca status (nine major retail areas!), Raleigh truly offers a variety of entertainment all in one park-like, scenic setting.

A View from the "Front" of the House which faces the Dock

Last week, I had the pleasure of spending spring break at my girlfriend’s family vacation rental in Darien, GA. I landed in Hilton Head International Airport late Tuesday night and we headed straight to Darien, a small coastal town with a booming commercial fishing industry. This was my first stay in a vacation rental, and after having such an amazing time, I may never look at commercial accommodations the same way again. Here are a few reasons why I fell in love with not only this home, but with vacation rentals in general.

A View from the "Back" of the House
1. The Beautiful Vintage Aesthetic of the Property

The vacation rental was perfectly tucked away at the bottom of a gravel road that is covered by a canopy of orange trees. The front porch faces the ocean and has four old white rocking chairs, making it an ideal place to relax and watch the sun set. The house is surrounded by pink azalea bushes and the back of the property has a dock leading down to Brighton Creek. At night, you can see the lighthouse glimmering in the distance on Sapelo Island.

View from the Porch of the House
2. A TON of Room and Privacy

The house sleeps upwards of 10 people and you are in the creek bed of coastal Georgia. How much more privacy can you get? Not to mention there was plenty of space around the house for my girlfriend’s dog Annie to chase after the nearest squirrel.

If your winter involved early mornings brushing snow off the car, running on a treadmill in the gym, finding the quickest route from the subway to the office, and lots of time in the house, then you know that a staycation is not an option this spring. You want to get out and go someplace different and you’re not alone: this week a TripAdvisor survey revealed that 83% of American respondents plan to travel with family this year. Good thing spring break is right around the corner!

people on a beach

The TripAdvisor survey also revealed this list of the Traveler’s Choice Family Award-winning U.S. destinations to discover:

  1. Williamsburg, Virginia
  2. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  3. Lake George, New York
  4. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
  5. Branson, Missouri
  6. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  7. Corpus Christi, Texas
  8. Port Aransas, Texas
  9. Daytona Beach, Florida
  10. Destin, Florida

To view more complete results of the survey, click here.

Frequent Flyers may not have spent the winter cooped up at home, but the world of waiting in airport terminals, packing in carry-ons, and earning miles/awards/perks has its own challenges. For those jet-setters looking to register their opinions, voting is now open for the Frequent Traveler Education Foundation’s Frequent Traveler Awards. You can vote online here through March 31.

Carolina Beach in Wilmington, North Carolina is announcing a spring lineup of April events for spring break vacationers. Carolina beach is the perfect spot for a getaway from Raleigh, Charlotte, and Fayetteville.

Finally, if you’ve been looking for your spring break accommodations or adding reviews on FlipKey, then you may have noticed the addition of Facebook ‘like’ buttons on property pages. Click on these buttons to show that you are a fan of a great rental. Also, don’t forget to ‘like’ FlipKey’s Facebook page to get news and updates on great vacation rentals and travel ideas.

When I was growing up, Presidents Day was part of ski week. My parents would pack three kids and two dogs into an overstuffed Ford Explorer and head up to New Hampshire’s White Mountains. If we took two cars, then my folks would argue over who had to drive with my sister because she would sing along to every song on the radio (even when she didn’t know the words).

My Presidents Day vacations have gotten shorter as I’ve gotten older, but I’ve held onto the tradition of piling into a full car and heading for the hills. Looking over FlipKey guest reviews, it appears I’m not alone: the most-reviewed Presidents Day weekends are not grand overseas tours, but road trips to local hideaways. Here are some last minute ideas from locals who know where to go to get away…

If you live in the Northwest… Head for the North Cascades

Becky L, from Bothell, WA took the whole family to Cle Elum last year and had a great time:

The cabin was exactly what we were looking for ! …..witht he exception of no snow (which we know you have no control over 🙂 It was great for the kids, dog & adults. It was well stocked, very clean & well stocked with basics. We instantly felt right at home!

Cle Elum is only an hour and a half from Seattle, right in the middle of the Snoqualmie National Forest.

If you live in California… Head for the Sierras

Hebro M, from Castro, CA can’t stay away from Sierra village:

The one reason why we keep on coming back to this place is because of the private sledding area. There is simply nothing that could come close to it, since it is long, smooth, safe, free, and not very crowded. The house is nice as well. Pretty spacious, kids friendly, and has everything we need.

Sierra village is about 2 hours from Sacramento, 3 hours from San Fransisco, and 6 hours from Los Angeles.

If you live in the Mid Atlantic… Head to Snowshoe, WV

J Stephens, from OH, went to Snowshoe last Presidents day and had a blast:

Our group stayed at Loggers Run 1 over Presidents day weekend. The condo is very comfortable and nicely furnished. It is situated close to the high speed Soaring Eagle lift… It was a wonderful trip with great snow and skiing.

Snowshoe is 4-5 hours from Washington D.C. and Baltimore, 4 hours from Pittsburgh, and about 6 hours from Cincinnati.

President’s Day weekend is just around the corner – February 19-21. It’s the perfect weekend for a winter retreat, and there’s still time to make last minute travel plans! From the Berkshires in Western MA to Taos, NM, there’s a local hideaway waiting for you to find it.

Where are you headed next weekend?

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but this year’s biggest celebration of love may very well be April 29. For those of you who haven’t made your travel plans yet, that’s the date of the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. According to Huffington Post, London’s hotel rooms are all but booked solid and apartment rentals are going fast. As of writing this post, FlipKey still has over 200 London vacation rentals available the week of the wedding, so royalty buffs still have the chance to bask in the atmosphere of the big event. Beyond the wedding itself, the city expects to play host to street parties and other unofficial celebrations – love will literally be in the air.

In other vacation rental news, the booking season is warming up. It’s time to start thinking about spring and summer vacations. Here are some items to help you prepare:

I’m not going to make it to Paris this weekend, but I have been thinking that a trip to Quebec for winter carnival would make a pretty awesome Valentine’s Day retreat. I could practice my French and possibly even catch a glimpse of royalty!