Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5 Budget Travel Tips for Expensive Destinations


You can enjoy everything an
expensive location has to offer
without spending a bundle.

London and Paris are fantastic places to visit. The sights are legendary, the entertainment is always exciting, but the prices are high. There's no reason that should stop you, however. There are lots of ways to save money when you travel to expensive places. Here are a few to help you get to where you want to go, for less.

1. Free Attractions. First, find all the free attractions where you're going. Major cities always have lots of free things to do. World-famous parks and museums, castles, public beaches and piers, lively entertainment districts. Many cities offer free guided walking tours (but you should plan on tipping the guide). If you do your research, you may not pay a dime for the most fun you'll ever have. If you're traveling to an expensive region, look for local festivals, fairs or other forms of entertainment that are free or low cost.

2. Eat Cheap. Once again, do your research before you travel. Find the ethnic enclaves and neighborhoods--you'll be amazed at the quality, variety, and affordability of the food in restaurants and cafes owned by immigrants.  When you arrive in the area, ask locals about cheap places to eat. Also, look online for coupons, or check out a restaurants website for daily specials. Many cities have street vendors offering delicious food. By staying in a vacation rental, you can take advantage of farmer's markets and cook truly local meals using fresh produce, meats and cheeses.

3. Stay in the Suburbs. Look for vacation rentals outside the city center or in the countryside, away from the main tourist attractions. Most popular areas have great public transportation or access to plenty of rental cars. Depending on how long you'll be in an area, you may want to buy local transportation passes. If you want to visit Zurich or Geneva, for example, consider making your trip more about seeing Switzerland. You'll open up your options, and you'll take in a greater variety of sights and experiences.

4. Avoid Taxis. They're expensive, and there's almost always a cheaper, and many times better, way to get around. Consider walking-- it's a great way to get a feel for a city. Plus, if it's a city like London or Paris, many attractions are going to be within walking distance. Subways and buses are usually a quick and easy way to get around a city.

5. Stay in Vacation Rentals. You'll get more value for the money you spend on lodging by staying in a vacation rental. Plus, you'll live like a local and really get to know the area. Here are some of the world's most expensive cities and areas, with links to vacation rentals.











Monday, February 27, 2012

Florida Vacation Rentals -- A Great Way to Take in Spring Training


After taking in a few ballgames, relax in
an ocean front vacation rental.



2013 update: Check out this link for schedules and tickets for both the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. 



Spring training's in full swing as teams get ready for the 2012 season, which opens April 4th with the World-Champion St. Louis Cardinals playing the newly renamed Miami Marlins in the Marlins' new stadium. Florida, home of the Grapefruit League for spring training, offers plenty of great games in March. 

The 2011 season finished with an exciting World Series in which the St. Louis Cardinals pulled out a memorable win in Game 6 versus the Texas Rangers, and went on to win the series in Game 7. The Cardinals lost one of their top players when Albert Pujols signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers, meanwhile, picked up Yu Darvish, spending over $100 million to land the Japanese ace pitcher. Given that they couldn't get one out in the bottom of the 9th in their heartbreaking Game 6 loss, it might just be the best investment they could have made.

Be sure to leave time for the beach!
Other teams with questions are the Philadephia Phillies, which will need to keep Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins healthy in order to have some offense to support a strong pitching staff. In the American League East, the New York Yankees landed pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda.

There are spring training games virtually every day, but here are some of the upcoming weekend games and links to Florida vacation rentals  to help you plan your spring training vacation.

March 2-4

Saturday, March 3
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Minnesota Twins, Fort Myers, 1:05 pm
New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies, Clearwater, 1:05 pm

Sunday, March 4
Atlanta Braves vs. Detroit Tigers, Lakeland, 1:05 pm
Minnesota Twins vs Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, 1:35 pm


March 9-11

Friday, March 9
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, 7:05 pm

Saturday, March 10
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Miami Marlins, Jupiter, 1:05 pm
Houston Astros vs. Toronto Blue Jays, Dunedin, 1:05 pm

Sunday, March 11
New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins, Fort Myers, 1:05pm


March 16 - 18

Friday, March 16
Detroit Tigers vs. New York Mets, Port St. Lucie, 1:05 pm
Tampa Bay Rays vs Toronto Blue Jays, Dunedin, 1:05 pm

Saturday, March 17
Boston Red Sox vs Baltimore Orioles, Sarasota, 1:05 pm

Sunday, March 18
New York Mets vs. Houston Astros, Kissimmee, 1:05 pm


March 23 - 25

Friday, March 23
Detroit Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, Bradenton, 1:05 pm

Saturday, March 24
Boston Red Sox vs Miami Marlins, Jupiter, 1:05 pm
St. Louis Cardinals vs New York Mets, Port St.Lucie, 1:10 pm

Sunday, March 25
New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals, Viera, 1:05 pm

March 30 - April 1

Friday, March 30
Philadelphia Phillies vs New York Yankees, Tampa, 7:05 pm

Saturday, March 31
Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays, Port Charlotte, 1:05 pm
St. Louis Cardinals vs Washington Nationals, Viera, 1:05 pm

Sunday, April 1
Philadelphia Phillies vs Atlanta Braves, LakeBuena Vista, 1:05 pm

Games continue through April 4. Get a full schedule at FloridaGrapefruitLeague.com. Whether it's for spring break or just a quick weekend trip, book a vacation rental and enjoy some great spring baseball in Florida.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Exciting Easter Vacation Destinations


This week saw the start of Lent, which means it's about 40 days to the Easter Sunday (April 8). The holiday offers a long weekend that many people use for vacation. Whether you're looking for a religious or secular experience, there are plenty of places around the world that you can go to enjoy your Easter weekend.


Tel-Aviv rental's beach. Click photo to see property.
The Holy Land, as Christians refer to it, is always a popular destination for Holy Week and Easter itself. While finding hotels and some rentals in Jerusalem may be difficult, there are other areas of the country you can use as a base. Tel-Aviv, for example, is about an hour away from Jerusalem. You could use it as a base. Plus, it has the advantage of being on the coast.


If Israel and the Holy Land aren’t for you, then consider Rome, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Also, tradition holds that St. Peter was crucified in Rome. During Holy Week, Christians commemorate the last week of Jesus' life, culminating with the celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The week starts off with lively and colorful celebrations on Palm Sunday, when St. Peter's Square comes alive with a sea of green palm fronds. If you plan on attending Saturday night services in St. Peter's Square, be sure to get their hours in advance. Similar to Jerusalem, if you have trouble finding accommodations in Rome itself, consider staying just outside the city and traveling in for festivities.
View of the Collosseum in Rome.
Click photo to see property.


Spain is another heavily Catholic country. If you stay in Madrid, you can see the resurrection drums procession. Drummers in white robes gather on the city's grand Plaza Mayor Square on Easter Sunday, beating their drums and announcing Christ's resurrection. There are also other celebrations during Semana Santa (Holy Week) that have a more reverent tone, including the Passion of Christ. An advantage to spending Easter in Spain is that temperatures are moderate to warm, meaning you'll likely have great weather for your visit.


Relaxing in the Netherlands.
Click photo to see property.
If you're looking for more secular celebrations, try the Netherlands. Spring blooms of tulips and daffodils grace the country with color and beauty every spring. You'll find displays of spring flowers throughout the country. Easter Monday is also a holiday in the Netherlands.


Vienna's Easter markets are a great place to find crafts and artistically decorated eggs, food, music and much more. The markets are active in March and April, and there's plenty of entertainment and activities for children. The most famous, and perhaps most romantic, is the Easter market at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna. There's also the Old Vienna Easter market at the Freyung, a lovely square in the old city.

One thing to be aware of--in many countries, Easter Sunday is a significant holiday. Some services, such as public transportation or public buildings, may be limited or not available.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Austria Alps--the Perfect Ski Vacation


Skiing in Austria is considered by many to be the best in the world. This alpine country has produced it share of Gold-medal Olympic skiers and is known for its natural beauty. Austrian ski schools are world-famous, and lessons in English and other languages are available. You'll find plenty of Austrian ski vacation rentals at PerfectPlaces.com and MountainSkiRentals.com.

A ski vacation in Austria more affordable than you might realize.  If you live on the east coast, a one-week ski trip to Austria is about the same as a trip to the Rockies. Certainly, if you're traveling from the central or western part of the United States airfare will be a bit more. But then again, how often will you ski Austria? It's a trip that will be well worth the relatively small extra cost.

Temperatures in Austria are very moderate. Daytime highs in the Alps are generally warmer than in the Rockies. The winds aren't as strong either. It's easy to check on ski conditions as you plan your trip by visiting sites such as OntheSnow.com.

Austria also features big vertical drops. A vertical drop is the difference in altitude between the highest lift-served point and the end of the run. A big vertical drop number will mean long runs and less crowded lifts. 

Austria ski resorts have runs for skiers of all skill levels, so whether you're a beginner or expert, you'll find a slope perfect for you.

The Austrian Alps are filled with quaint villages and cozy ski chateaus tucked in perfect mountain scenery. Austrian ski resorts offer family-friendly activities, snow-clad chalets, a variety of outstanding restaurants and an exciting nightlife.  Whether you're going for the skiing, snowboarding or apres ski, you're sure to have a great time during ski season in Austria. 







Friday, February 17, 2012

Tips for a Destination Wedding; Vacation Rental Options


Your destination wedding guests will appreciate
a relaxing vacation rental to call home.


Destination weddings are becoming more and more popular as brides and grooms seek out nuptials in exotic locations. Their reasons are varied, but many are looking for a unique way to have smaller, more intimate weddings. Vacation rentals are a great way to offer guests lodging at a destination wedding. Vacation rentals for weddings will help family members enjoy their time together. The bride and groom can arrange for their own accommodations either with their family or in separate rentals. Plus, vacation rentals help build on the togetherness and intimacy of a destination wedding. Here are tips for planning a destination wedding, as well as some of the most popular locations.

Imagine getting married on a Hawaiian beach
next to the beautiful, blue Pacific Ocean.
Choose Your Location Carefully. Start with determining your tentative guest list. Consider how many people will really be able to make the trek. If you want grandparents to attend and they're in their 80s and not able to travel a great distance, you may need to opt for a location closer to home. Or, if you select a destination that requires multiple airline connections, you may find that not everyone has the time or money to make the trip. Conversely, it you select too small of a venue and your whole guest list decides to attend, you might have a seating problem. That romantic isolated beach won't be quite as romantic when it’s packed to capacity with guests.

Be sure to consider the weather in the location you select. Check sunset times, rainy and dry seasons, find out what the wind is like. This applies even if your wedding is going to be indoors. You don't want to plan your wedding during a monsoon season!

The location you select, if it's out of the United States, will have its own legal requirements for marriage. So be sure you and your fiancé have all the necessary documents.

Plan Far Ahead. Guests will need time to get passports, get time off work, find sitters for the kids and more. Remember, you're asking people to make travel plans. If your destination location is domestic, you'll have a little more leeway.

Verify Your Vendors. Thoroughly research all the caterers, florists, artists, wedding cake bakers, musicians, DJs and any other vendors you'll be hiring for your wedding. Get references and check them out. If the vendor is trustworthy, they'll be proud to share their references with you.

Detailed Directions. Don't assume you guests will know how to get to your destination wedding. Provide as detailed information as possible, down to the best airlines to use. For experienced travelers on your guest list, your detailed instructions will be a reassurance. For the less experienced, they could make the difference between getting to your wedding or not coming at all.

Gifts. It's common practice for couples holding destination weddings to insist on "no gifts." The presence of the guests is considered to be enough of a present.

Here are some popular locations for destination weddings that also have an ample number of vacation rentals available:







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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Benefits of Vacation Rentals

Escape with your family and friends to your own
private beach house near Rum Point & Stingray City in the
 Cayman Islands. Click the photo to see more.
More and more people are staying in vacation rentals when traveling, and with good reason. Vacation rentals offer a better value than other types of lodging. No matter how many travelers in your group, you'll get more "bang for your buck." Here are just some of the benefits.

Live like a local. When you go on vacation to a beautiful paradise, you've probably asked the question, "I wonder what it would be like to live here." With a vacation rental, you can get an answer to that question. And you can experience an area at any price range you desire. Whether it's wonderfully upscale neighborhood or quaint home tucked away on a charming street, you can live like a local no matter where you visit. If you're the least bit interested in buying property in the areas you vacation, then vacation rentals are definitely the way to get to know an area.

Luxury all to yourself in Telluride.
Click photo to see more.
Group travel. If you're traveling with a large group of people (and that generally means groups of more than just two adults), then vacation rentals will be the better way to go. Everyone can share the costs. Or, if that's not an issue, then at least everyone can have their own room and enjoy a lot more privacy. Plus, your group will be able to stay up as late as you want, enjoying the amenities that come with your vacation rental. With a hotel, the more guests in your party, the more you'll pay. Vacation rentals will have a maximum number of guests allowed, but as long as you don't exceed that number, you won't be charged more. And if you have fewer, then everybody gets more space!

If you're traveling with children old enough to have their own rooms, you won't worry about them being in a hotel room all by themselves. A vacation rental will be more like your own home, where you can monitor their activities more closely.

You won't find a restaurant with a better
view or easier access to the beach.
Click on photo to see more.
Full kitchens. One of the biggest expenses and hassles you face when traveling is eating out. Let's not confuse this with a nice dinner at a 5-star restaurant. Breakfast, lunch, or quick dinner after a long day of activities not only adds up cost-wise, but they can stress you out. Ever try to get large group to agree on a place to eat (actually, we've all probably seen a family of three or four disagree on the best place to grab lunch). 

With a vacation rental, you can stock up on groceries everybody likes at the start of your trip, eat out when it's convenient for you, and still save money on your food bill. Plus, buying local produce and groceries gives you an authentic feel for the area you’re in, even down to the neighborhood. Many people who stay in vacation rentals plan on eating breakfast and lunch in their rental and dinner at a restaurant. Some like to eat lunch out, as that's a more affordable meal. The advantage a vacation rental gives you is choice--you're not always forced to eat hotel or restaurant food.

When it comes to beach vacation rentals,
it's hard to beat the Florida Panhandle.

Privacy. In a hotel, you're really a part of a community of strangers. You've got to put up with noisy guests, room service trays in the hall, sharing pools, hot tubs or game rooms and, of course, the dreaded mad dash to the ice machine in your pajamas. With a vacation rental, you have a lot more privacy. In a private vacation rental, the game rooms and entertainment centers are yours and yours alone. You can relax by your own private pool, take a dip in the hot tub at 2 am, and sleep in without worrying about a knock on your door from housekeeping. Even when you rent a condo, you have much more privacy than you would in a more public type of accommodation. Since a property consisting of condos is smaller than a hotel, the management and staff are attentive to your individual needs.

Choice. That brings us to our final benefit for this installment--choice. Whether you're looking for a lake rental, something in a neighborhood or town center, or one on the beach, you get exactly the type of accommodations you want. Hotels are built to make everybody happy and comfortable. A vacation rental is much more personal. You can select a rental with the kind of amenities you want. Perhaps no one in your group is a swimmer. Then you can forego the pool in favor of a larger game room or more space. With many vacation rentals, you can even have it all and use it at your discretion. The point is, you are in more control of your environment when you stay in a vacation rental.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

91% Increase in January Vacation Rental Bookings


Bookings at PerfectPlaces.com for vacation rentals increased 91% in January, versus last year during the same month. Perfect Places President Rick Haggart said the increase was most likely due to more people being comfortable with booking vacation rentals and improvements to the site's online booking process.

Haggart said that since vacation rentals have gained a loyal following of savvy travelers seeking the value and amenities only a vacation rental can provide. He said vacation rentals are becoming the preferred lodging choice for many travelers.

PerfectPlaces.com also improved its online booking process in 2011, which means these travelers had an easier time booking the vacation rentals they wanted.

Haggart said the improving travel market should continue to bode well for vacation rentals. He said that the 91% increase in bookings included a significant increase in the average booking amount and in the number of international destinations. However, most of the growth came from bookings made within the United States.

Read the rest of the press release here

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

100 New Vacation Rentals in Pacific Beach, WA


Beach front! Relax on your porch and enjoy
spectacular ocean view.

We're excited to announce the addition of 100 new vacation rentals from Seabrook Cottage Rentals in Pacific Beach,Washington. These are immaculate and beautiful cottages located in a new coastal neighborhood. Pacific Beach is a beautiful community conveniently tucked between Olympic Rain Forest and the Pacific Ocean.

There's plenty to do and see whenever you visit. Enjoy long walks on the incredible two-mile long, wide-open beach, go clam digging, collect seashells and build a sandcastle. No matter what the season, you're sure to find plenty to do on the beach.

You can also hike on the Seabrook trails and enjoy the local natural beauty. There are soaring 200-foot tall cliffs nearby, as well as crystal clear Northwest rivers.

The Olympic Rain Forest is just 30 minutes away, but be sure to remember your camera so you can capture the breathtaking views. A little further away is Ruby Beach in Kalaloch, Washington. It's about 90 minutes away but is one of only six beaches where you can find sea stakes, tide pools and driftwood. It's well worth the trip. Roosevelt Beach is closer, and can accommodate vehicles (make sure you can drive yours in the sand).

If you're looking at vacationing in Ocean Shores, Westport or Long Beach, you'll find these vacation rentals conveniently located nearby. 

Marlowe Manor features a stunning ocean view.
Each Seabrook cottage is fully furnished with bedding, linens, towels, dishes, cookware, everything you need to make your stay enjoyable and convenient. You'll have your choice of oceanfront and ocean view rentals as well as cottages near parks. Many are pet friendly, and all are perfect for weekend getaways for two, whole-family vacations, reunions, business meetings, retreats and more. 

Seabrook's vacation rentals received a great honor recently when it was voted the Evening Magazine's Best Northwest Cabin Escape--just one more reason to make Seabrook your destination of choice for fun on the Northwest coast. There's so much to see and do at Seabrook.

Monday, February 6, 2012

13 New February 2012 Winter Deals


Big White, British Columbia

Skiing in Colorado, British Columbia and Oregon … fun in the sun in Key West and Destin … relaxing getaways to the Ozarks, Carolinas and Smokey Mountains … you'll find 13 ways to save and enjoy you next vacation with our February Deals of the month.

Enjoy the Mountains

Save 10% on a ski chalet at Big White in British Columbia, coated North America's No. 1 family ski resort. Or stay in the heart of Beaver Creek, Colorado, in a luxurious five bedroom private residence for five nights and get an additional night free.

Carolinas and Pigeon Forge

There are some fantastic deals in the North Carolina high country--save up to $70 and get free nights. Or, head over to Pigeon Forge and the Great Smokies and save 15%, or get up to two free nights.

If warm weather is more your thing, then head to sunny Florida. We've got special deals in Key West and Destin that are sure to make your winter a lot more pleasant.
  
Click here to check out all the deals now.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tips for Saving Money When You Travel

Would you rather spend your budget on
airfare, airport food and baggage fees, or would you rather
spend it on a vacation rental on the beach?
Saving money on travel's a priority for just about everybody, whether it's for business or pleasure. People who book vacation rentals understand the concept of getting the most value for their money--after all, vacation rentals are a much better deal than hotels, especially for families or large groups. Here are a few tips that can help you save.

Air Travel

Travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays. There's generally more availability for less cost. You'll find the most airline deals during the middle of the week, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Seek out alternative airports and be willing to drive a few hours. This doesn't necessarily mean going to a big city airport, thought that's the most common way to save. You might discover a deal by going through a smaller airport as well.

The key with air travel is to do your research and plan. While it's relatively easy to find an affordable vacation rental, finding affordable airfare is a bit harder. Be sure you sign up for deal alerts for a variety of airlines. And try to collect frequent flyer miles whenever possible through special credit card offers. Every dollar you spend to fill your tank to get to work might be earning you miles for your next vacation.

Traveling light has become much more important these days. If there's something you absolutely have to take and you don't want to take it on the plane, consider shipping it to your vacation rental. It might be cheaper or at least cost the same. With shipping, you'll have the advantage of being able to track it, versus risking lost luggage.

Get Social Online

Become active on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. More and more companies are using these tools to announce their offers. In fact, many companies use Facebook and Twitter to announce special "Friends and Followers only" specials.

Rental Cars

If you're renting a car at your destination, check with your insurance agent. You may be able to decline all of the added insurance coverage the rental company will try to steer you towards. Without a doubt, decline the gas fill they offer. They'll charge you for a full tank, even if the tank isn't all the way empty. Instead, leave an extra 10 minutes to fill up on the way to the airport.

Meal Planning

Airport food's expensive. So is road food you buy at the convenience store or truck stop. Pack lunches and snacks that keep well, such as peanut butter sandwiches (try honey or brown sugar instead of jelly for less mess), pretzels, prepackaged energy bars bought in bulk, etc. Why spend your food budget on airport or road food that's really no better than what you can bring on your own?

Be sure to go online and find the best grocery stores in the area you're traveling to. Many publicize their weekly specials online, so you can go to the store with coupons in hand. Then, stock your vacation rental with the food you'll eat while you're there. Use the money you save to treat yourself to a special dinner out.