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road trip checklist graphics
Jan15

Does your vehicle pass the road trip checklist? Keep reading to find out.

Road trips are a great alternative to traditional plane, train, or bus-based travel right now. If you want to avoid packed airports, and the germ-spreading potential of recycled plane air, driving yourself to your vacation destination is the way to go. It also ensures that you are only traveling with your “close-knit” crew, be it friends or family, and not exposing yourself outside of your social bubble.   

Before you through a weekend bag in your trunk and pick a travel playlist, we recommend doing a once-over inspection of your vehicle of choice. Here are 7 things you should always check on your car before setting out on the wide, open highway.  

1. Fluid Check & Oil Change   

If it’s been a while since your last oil change, you should get one done (or do it yourself) before any long trip. You should change your oil approximately every six months (depending on M/KM usage). While you are at it, check the status of your transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant, as well.  

2. Battery Voltage   

If you have your own test equipment, you can do this at home. Otherwise, take your vehicle to a trusted service provider and ask them to test the battery voltage. If the reading is too low, or it’s been over three years, you might consider a battery replacement. If your battery needs a charge, it can take anywhere from 4 to 24 hours to do so. So, leave enough time in your schedule to handle this before you go. Battery problems are one of the top reasons AAA listed for emergency intervention on the road, so make sure you are ready.  

3. Brake Check  

Typically, the brake warning light on the car console will come on if there is an issue; however, it’s always good to do a quick self-lead check. If you already did the fluid check (above) then you’re ahead of the game. When testing your brakes: listen for any abnormal noises (squealing, scarping), note if the vehicle is erroneously pulling to one side or the other, and make note of the pedal feel as you press it. If anything seems out of whack, take it to a shop to get checked.   

4. Turn Signal Lights & Headlights   

For this, you’ll need a partner. Have someone stand outside your vehicle as you flash each turn signal (have them check back and front lights), brake lights, headlights, and fog lights. Remember that a burned-out bulb can get you a very easy-to-avoid ticket! Be sure to change any light bulbs that are performing poorly.   

5. Tire Air Pressure (Including Spare)  

Tire trouble is not only very common on long trips, but it is so, so easily avoidable. Check the tire pressure before you leave and keep a portable tire pressure gauge in your vehicle for on-the-go inspections. Fill your tires with air according to the levels recommended in the vehicle’s manual. If you have a spare tire: fill that one up, too! After all, it won’t do you any good to lug around a spare tire if it’s flat.   

6. Insurance Paperwork, Registration, and License   

Sometimes the most obvious things get forgotten about. Do a quick check to ensure that the insurance paperwork is kept somewhere obvious and accessible. Check the expiration date on your license. And make sure your plates aren’t due to expire any time soon.   

7. First Aid Kit & Emergency Items   

This is one of the most important parts of any road trip checklist. Be sure to have a roadside assistance emergency kit in your vehicle at all times, particularly when you are about to embark on a long road trip. You can also cobble one together yourself. You’ll want to include bandages, alcohol pads, a flashlight, candles, matches, jumper cables, reflective devices, and maybe even an emergency blanket.

Planning a road trip this year? Check out Breakaway Vacations’ various rental properties in the Okanagan and Vancouver Island areas. Booking now for summer 2021. 

Group Trip Blog banner
Jan08

A group trip with friends seems like the ideal way to spend a long weekend or week away. Who doesn’t love seeing new sites with a close-knit pack of friends and family? Together, you can book group activities, split costs, and—most importantly—share memories.   

However, group trips can be daunting if not done right. Try these 5 tips to plan the perfect, hassle-free group trip.   

1. Pick a Leader and an “Accountant”   

You’ll want one person sending out all the group emails, making spreadsheets, researching activities, and planning carpools. Another person (or the same person) should be responsible for dividing costs and collecting payments from everyone in the group. Collecting money can be a bit of a drag—that’s why we suggest taking it off your Leader’s plate and having a dedicated team “accountant.”  

Bonus Tip: For payment splitting, try apps like Splitwise or Venmo.   

2. Use a Survey for Big Questions   

Getting everyone on the same page is tough. Where do you want to go? When do you want to leave? How much do you want to spend? What do you want to do while there? Planning a group trip relies on “majority rules”, otherwise we would never get anywhere. Try free survey apps like Google FormsSurveyMonkey, or Zoho Survey to gather feedback and share results as you go.   

Bonus Tip: Make sure you have an ongoing group chat to keep everyone up to date. Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts are free!   

3. Pick a Budget (and Keep to It)  

Choosing a budget for a group trip is often one of the most difficult things to do. You’ll want to tailor the budget to those with both small and large amounts of disposable income. One way to do this is to travel off-season or keep an eye out for flight deals using apps like Hopper. You can also have “optional” activity days where those who want to buy tickets to this or that can while others enjoy a cheap/free day at a pool, beach, or park.   

4. Book By-Owner Rentals Instead of Hotels   

Hotels are high cost and low personability. Not only that but they tend to be less environmentally friendly than their rental-by-owner counterparts (think AirBNB or Breakaway Vacations many rental properties). By-owner rentals have the same sense of professionalism and luxury but are more ingrained within the community in which they are established. They are also more likely to pair with local businesses for promotions and events!   

5. Pre-Plan an Activity or Two Per Day   

Group trips are the perfect opportunity to try new things abroad. You can book adventure activities like bungee jumping or scuba diving; you can focus on cheap activities like hiking or seeing local landmarks; or you can pick out some of the best food and drinks hangout spots to try. Daily activities are the key to getting the most out of your trip and your time together. However, for everyone’s sanity, make sure to leave room for free time, too!   

Conclusion   

Planning a group trip doesn’t have to be a burden. If done correctly, it can be a ton of fun for yourself and everyone else involved. If you need somewhere to stay in British Columbia, check out our vacation rental locations in Kelowna and on Vancouver Island.

Travel 2021
Jan01

COVID-19 put a damper on travel and recreational plans around the globe. Our wanderlust has to be put on hold while the word began to heal. Near the end of 2020 summer, we saw travel restrictions begin to ease. As the pandemic ebbs and flows, we must play the role of a knowledgeable and conscious global citizen. Now, it’s a new year. What will the 2021 travel landscape look like?   

We want all you travelers to stay safe and stay healthy, so we’ve compiled some things you need to know.   

1. Solitary Travel is IN—Consider Touring a National Park, Camping, Hiking, or Bird Watching.  

If you are still feeling iffy about being in groups, never fear. There are ways to explore the world while allotting yourself some much needed (2-meter!) space. Camping or touring remote wilderness areas in small groups are just some of the ways that people are keeping travel plans safe. Research what National Parks are close to you to get some ideas. You might also want to try searching for the best hikes in your state or province and seeking them out!   

2. Keep Abreast of Travel Restrictions and Requirements—Go Above and Beyond in Following Them.   

Before you make any plans, be sure to know the ins and outs of any COVID restrictions in the area. Even if the restrictions are weaker where you’re from, it’s important to respect the community you are visiting and go above and beyond to adhere to their guidelines. Practice good travel hygiene by wearing a mask, carrying hand sanitizer, washing your hands frequently, and keeping a safe distance between your group and others. Better safe than sorry—especially when you are just a visitor in someone else’s home!   

3. Consider a Vacation Close to Home—Travel Within Your Country, State, or Province.   

If you don’t want to risk international travel right now, try something closer to home. Consider a weekend trip somewhere nearby, maybe a city or camping spot that you have always been meaning to try. There are plenty of places within your own “backyard” that you most likely have yet to visit. Try searching some must-see spots in your province or state and make a plan to check them out this year.   

4. Remember That Big Hotels May Not Be as Safe as COVID-Safe as Private Rentals.  

When filled to capacity, hotels can be quite a virus hotspot. Not to mention those big corporations tend to cut corners when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting shared spaces. That’s why we recommend private vacation rentals for any 2021 travel plans you may have. All Breakaway Vacations locations adhere to the strictest cleanliness standards—and we are available to chat at the venue anytime if you have issues. Find us on Airbnb or on the Breakaway Vacations website for a list of available vacation rentals.  

Conclusion   

We won’t know for sure what 2021 travel will look like. We might see travel restrictions ease and tighten as things change. Plan to be a respectful and conscious traveler this year. It’s going to take all of us working together to keep our towns and cities happy and healthy.

dice games
Dec26

Whether you are traveling in December for holiday festivities or just some pre-New Years relaxation, you might be looking for things to do indoors when the temperature drops. Here are 3 easy dice games that you can do with minimal prep (super easy to pack, too).

1. Knock Out

This dice game only requires 2 dice and involves adding up to the number 10, making it great for younger kids to play, too. Each player first chooses their “knockout number” between either 6, 7, 8, or 9. Two players CAN pick the same number.

Decide who goes first by each rolling a die with the person who rolls the highest taking their turn first, second highest goes second, and so on. On their turn, a player must roll two dice. If they land on their chosen “knock out” number, then they are disqualified from rolling until everyone has been knocked out and the next round starts.

Every roll (EXCEPT the knock out number) contributes to the player’s overall score. Players race to a score of 100, or whatever goal your group decides on.

2. Catch Up

This dice game is great for a larger group, as it requires between 4-8 players. You will need 2 dice as well as an assortment of counters, which can be anything from bits of paper to coins, etc. The first player to obtain 3 tokens wins.

Give the dice to the oldest and youngest players (or however else you want to divide it up). Both will roll their dice at the same time and anyone who lands on a 6 must pass their dice to the right. The goal is to be the one person holding both dice. Then, you earn a counter and the process starts again.

Between each dice roll, there is a chant (mainly to give those without the dice something to do), which you can customize to your group. Use an assortment of clapping or knee-slapping to emphasize every other word to make it more exciting. We like to use the “We Will Rock You” chant, changing up the second repetition to announce the dice roll, as such: We will, we will, rock you. We will, we will, ROLL NOW!

3. Run For It

You will need 6 dice to play this and any amount of players is fine, though it tends to work best with 4-5 for time’s sake. Players will take turns rolling all 6 dice and trying to make “straight”, that is: a series of numbers that progress in counting order. For example: 1, 2, 3, and 4 OR 5, 6, and 7.

A “straight” can encompass anywhere from 2 to 6 numbers and each dice in the sequence gives the player 10 points. So 1, 2, 3, 4 would be worth 40 points in total. You can only make ONE straight per roll, so players should pick the one that gives them the most points.

Whoever reaches 500 points wins. You can raise or lower that number depending on how long you want to play.

Bonus: Want something even simpler? Check out these dice games that require only a single die!

Have Fun and Roll Away

Whatever dice games you decide to play, be sure to enjoy the time spent with your loved ones this holiday season. Play games, enjoy the snow, and celebrate the holidays together.

If you need some help booking your next great vacation rental, be sure to reach out to us using our phone number or contact page!

blender soups
Dec18

We always recommend bringing a blender when you travel to one of our vacation properties. That’s because there are so many recipes that can be made with this one simple tool. It’s easy to pack and endlessly diverse, whether you want to make dessert smoothies, creamy blender-made soups, or blended cocktails. An immersion blender is particularly easy to pack and works great for soups of all kinds.

As the weather dips in December, you and your family are probably craving something warm and rich to eat. Blenders are great for whipping together easy soups. Here are a few of our favourites:

1. Easy Carrot Soup

This uber-filling soup makes for a perfect winter dinner. Cut up 2-pounds of carrots and boil them with the other ingredients in full-fat coconut milk and water. After about 10-15 minutes of simmering, the carrots should be tender enough to blend. Poke them with a fork and insure the prongs go through easily before introducing the blender.

Curry paste and onion make up the base of this flavourful dish. Additionally, you can add in some cilantro, toasted almonds, or chile oil.

Get the full recipe here.

2. Tomato Basil Soup with Asiago

This twist on traditional tomato soup is a welcome chilly weather meal. You can use canned tomatoes for the base or boil and peel 3-pounds of fresh tomatoes for an even richer flavour. Though the recipe calls for chicken broth, you may substitute vegetable broth in order to make the recipe suitable for vegetarians.

The grated asiago cheese gives this dish some zest. Save a bit to sprinkle on top of each bowl directly before serving. You can also garnish with croutons if you choose!

Get the full recipe here.

3. Butternut Squash Soup

The most challenging part of this recipe is peeling the squash, removing the seeds, and quartering it all. If you don’t have time for this, you can use frozen or canned squash as a substitute. But fresh always tastes best! You will need 3 cups of squash and 1 peeled, decored, and cubed apple to make up the bulk of the soup.

You will want to saute some onion in butter while the squash and apple are steaming. Then, blend it all up with the rest of the ingredients and voila!

Get the full recipe here.

Stay Warm and Fill Up!

Hot, fresh, and quick blender-made soups are the perfect winter recipe. They are easy to make and can be adjusted to accommodate what you have on hand if you are in a rental suite and away from your kitchen.

Ask us about spring vacation rental bookings now to secure your first choice of luxury cottages before they book up. Or, sign up to our newsletter to watch for special deals. 

christmas crafts
Dec11

Winter holiday travel will be filled with Christmas markets, building snowmen, and ice skating…but sometimes you just want to stay warm indoors! Whatever the reason for staying in, your family night together needn’t be uneventful. Here are some family-friendly Christmas crafts to keep everyone entertained.

  1. Paper Plate Santa Clause

This craft is great because minimal supplies are needed. Also, the resulting product is flat and easy to pack in a bag or suitcase to take home after your holiday trip. The main supplies are a paper plate, construction paper, googly eyes, and paint or markers. However, you can modify the list to customize the experience: try pipe cleaners, pom poms, stickers, or glitter (if you dare!).

How to make it.

  1. Pinecone Christmas Tree

Turn a simple pinecone from your walks and hikes in the area into seasonal souvenirs! Use a bit of paint and whatever supplies you want to use for a star (construction paper, wood cut-outs, etc.). Kids will love exploring outdoors to find their “perfect pinecone.” Plus, the craft is minimalist if you need to buy supplies: just a few paint colours and brushes will do! You can leave them as stand-alone decorations or attach a hook or thread loop to them and turn them into tree hangings.

How to make it.

  1. Paper Snowflake Cut-Outs

Ah, a classic! The best part of this craft is that you can print out patterns at home and easily pack them along to have an easy, on-the-go craft ready for any occasion. Patterns range from ridiculously simple to quite challenging and precise. That means there is a design out there for any age range to enjoy. You can also fold the paper and “freestyle” a design to see what you can come up with from scratch.

How to make it.

  1. Popsicle Stick Ornaments

A simple pack of popsicle sticks and a few odds-and-ends to decorate with can go a long way. This can also be a multi-night craft, as there are plenty of patterns to make: reindeer, gingerbread, penguin, holiday tree, snowman, and anything else you can dare to imagine! Use buttons, markers, pipe cleaner, pom poms, felt, construction paper, and ribbon to decorate to your hearts’ content.

How to make it.

The best part about the above Christmas crafts is that many of them use similar materials so you can buy bulk supplies and mix and match projects on different nights of your winter vacation. Plus, you can have fun exploring the local shops to find supplies!

Need somewhere for your holiday parties or weekend ski trips? Check out Breakaway Vacations’ selection of luxury vacation rentals.

Winter activities
Dec04

You don’t need to be cooped up indoors during your stay at a Breakaway Vacation property in Parksville or Qualicum Beach from November through January. Vancouver Island, while renowned for its summertime affairs, has plenty to do even when the snow starts falling. Plus, you won’t have to fight the typical warm-weather crowds! Here are a few winter activities you can look forward to in the area.

  1. New Year’s Day Annual Polar Bear Splash

Don’t mind the chill? Want a challenge? Join the Parksville community on New Years Day as residents and visitors alike participate in the Polar Bear Splash. Dash into the winter-chilled ocean at Parkville Beach to brave the cold.

  1. Sports at Oceanside Place

Oceanside Place is a sports and ice area that is perfect for the whole family. They have an active skate schedule on their website if you want to pop by. You can also catch an Oceanside Generals game, if you want to watch the local hockey team.

  1. Winter Hiking

There are plenty of hiking areas that are open year-round, like Little Qualicum Falls, Top Bridge Park, Englishman River Falls, or Rathtrevor Beach. Most are empty during the winter months even though they are open, meaning you can have the trails and scenery all to yourselves!

  1. Take a Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tour

These are available year-round and offer trips suitable for families and seniors. You can pick the theme of your tour, ranging from nature tours to wine tours. The Salmon Spawning Tour is only available in October and November, making it a winter-exclusive activity!

  1. Horne Lake Caving, Winter Edition

We love caving year-round but winter caving tours tend to be less crowded and offer a different experience due to increased levels of moisture for the season. Horne Lake Caves offers October through January bookings with limited availability, so call ahead and save your spot.

  1. Visit Grotto Spa

The Tigh-Na-Mara Grotto Spa just outside of Parkville was named one of the top spas in Canada by Spas of America in 2018! Check out the large mineral pool, the relaxation lounge, various spa treatments, and finish your night with a meal from the attached Cedars Restaurant & Longue.

Vancouver Island has many, many things to do in the winter months. Want to hear more about where to stay to access these winter activities? Reach out to the Breakaway Vacation staff, we would be happy to help.

Snow activities
Nov27

Don’t have a ski hill in your backyard? No problem! There are plenty of things to do when your yard gets a fresh layer of snow. Your neighborhood is probably rich with parks and nature areas, too, which can work if you don’t have your own yard. Coming up with some fun snow activities can keep the wintertime blues at bay.

  1. Build a Snowman

If you have enough snow on the ground, this is an obvious go-to winter activity. Instead of a regular old snowman, add ears or a tail or a beak and build a snow animal of your choice. See what odds and ends you can collect up off the ground—sticks and twigs, small rocks, pinecones and pine needles, whatever is around!

  1. Build an Igloo

This activity is perfect for families with small children, as yard-built igloos will be a perfect wintertime fort for them. There are also plenty of jobs to do, so everyone can participate in building an igloo: gather snow, shape bricks, stack bricks, and pack together the snow. Make the first “brick” slanted on one side in order to get a proper dome shape as you pile them up.

  1. Make Snow Angels

Everyone in the family can make an angel from eldest to youngest lined up in the snow. You can use twigs and rocks to draw on faces and even make crowns or halos using pine needles. Don’t forget to take pictures once you’re done!

  1. Go Sledding

Find a safe hill nearby and bring along a plastic sled or sled alternative (some people even just use plastic garbage bags, etc.). You’ll get some exercise carrying the sleds back up the hill each time, too. This is a great way to generate some body-warmth on chilly days.

  1. Paint with (non-toxic) Food Coloring

Add food coloring to cold water in spray bottles jars and use them to decorate the snow in the yard. Snow activities don’t get any easier than this (best done when there is freshly fallen powder). You can build models of flowers or animals and then use the “paint” to color them in.

Dreaming about summer already? Book your summer vacation rentals with us on Vancouver Island or the mainland NOW before they fill up. 

Picture spots kelowna
Nov20

Are you visiting Vancouver Island’s Parksville and/or Qualicum Beach this holiday season? Then this is the perfect time for the best Vancouver Island photo for your Instagram. Don’t forget to snag some photos for Instagram and Facebook—not to mention for yourself when you want to look back on these memories. Here are a few perfect photo-op spots in the area.

Both spots are side-by-side, so if you are visiting one, it’s easy to site-see in the other. If you don’t mind a short drive, you can travel here from Nanaimo, too.

Parksville spots:

  • Springwood Park

This community park is a bit on the outskirts of town but well worth the trip. You’ll have plenty of frosty grasslands to pose to your heart’s content.

  • The waterfront by Paradise Fun Park

Any waterfront view is fine but this one is particularly accessible. Here, you’ll see sandy beaches and choppy winter waters—bad for swimming but great for a quick social media photoshoot!

  • Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

Not only will you have plenty of space to stage a scene, but you can also snap some cool photos of wildlife in the area. Several species of wildlife can be seen in the park depending on the season, including deer, raccoons, squirrels, otters, mink, eagles, osprey, hawks, vultures, and owls.

  • Our Parksville Vacation Homes

If you’re staying with us during your time on the island, you’ll have your very own cozy, modern space to use to snag a couple of Instagram-worthy pics.

Qualicum Beach spots:

  • Horne Lake Caves

Want some jaw-dropping photos? Try the Horne Lake Caves. Book a winter tour for a full walkthrough, where you’ll be able to take unbelievable photos of rock formations, waterways and falls, and low-light flora and fauna.

  • Beachfront Park

What makes for a better picture than romantic wooden benches along an ocean-facing path? Parking available near the boardwalk makes this a quick stop if you’re looking for that perfect shot.

  • Our Qualicum Vacation Homes

If you are staying with us during your trip to Vancouver Island, you’ll have waterfront views and cozy kitchen nooks with which to stage the perfect photo.

Contact us to snag a picture-perfect spot for the perfect holiday getaway. Book for summer now; we fill up fast! 

 

 

Winter books
Nov13

Thank goodness for e-readers. It’s become a lot easier to pack every book, magazine, or graphic novel that you might want to read. For travel, this is perfect. It’s getting colder out. We thought we would make some reading recommendations in the theme of “winter holidays.” Bonus: If you have Kindle Unlimited, all of these holiday books are free!*

  1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Since its publication in 1843, A Christmas Carol has become a cultural touchstone. It imparts a message as relevant to our world today as it was in Dickens’ own Victorian age. It tells the story of the miserable Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve, and reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas.

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding is one of Agatha Christie’s short stories. Poirot attends a Christmas celebration in order to apprehend a jewel-thief who has taken advantage of an unwary eastern prince.

  1. Gone Before Christmas by Charles Finch

Gone Before Christmas is a delightfully absorbing short Christmas story in the bestselling Charles Lenox mystery series. Lenox must find a soldier who ran into a cloakroom for his hat—and never returned.

  1. Six Tales of Christmas by Jenny Twist

From family drama to science fiction, this holiday collection has something for everybody. Six heart-warming Christmas stories. And what would Christmas be without a ghost story?

  1. Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor

Still grieving the loss of her wandering, free-spirited mother, Lucy Kincaid leaves Nashville for the faded town of Cape Hudson, Virginia. A legacy of secrets starts to unravel when she visits her new inheritance in the Winter Cottage.

Do you have any favourite holiday books this season? Let us know!

Need an event space or ski group lodging this winter? Reach out to us and we can help you book the perfect spot.

*free on Kindle Unlimited Canada at the time of writing this.