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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.

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.

Packing tips
Oct03

Who doesn’t love a peaceful winter weekend vacation away from home? Or, you probably have plans to travel for holidays coming up: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and so on. If you are traveling to the Kelowna area or Vancouver Island, be sure to check out our vacation homes.

Pack More Socks than you Think You Need.

It’s cold out…but not always. Fall tends to flip-flop between balmy sunny days and chilly winter storms. That means a lot of moisture and mush on the streets, sidewalks, and in the parks. That means you might have to swap out soggy socks mid-day for a fresh pair. Not to mention that on the chilliest of days, you might want to wear two pairs in your boots, particularly if you like autumn hiking.

Pack Waterproof Footwear.

To prevent the above scenario, you could also just make sure to pack shoes or boots that prevent slush and moisture from leaking in. They should be something you can see yourself wearing on a warm day as well as a cooler one, as fall tends to flip-flop. One of the best packing tips is to bring appropriate footwear for your destination.

Pack a Portable Battery Charger.

Autumn can be warm at times but don’t let that deceive you. Getting stuck somewhere when the sun goes down will be unpleasant, even on the warmest days. You should always have a charged phone in case you need to call a friend or a cab if you get stranded or need a ride. That’s why packing a portable charger is a good idea, especially if you are on your phone a lot or it has an older battery that is prone to dying.

Pack a Neutral Scarf.

Scarves take up a lot of room in a bag and can be uncomfortable to wear if you are too warm. You probably won’t want to haul around more than one so make sure you pick one in a neutral colour like black, brown, beige, or grey that goes with everything and anything you might be wearing.

Pack a Tablet or Smart Reader.

Fall weather can be unpredictable. You might get anything from rain or hail or sun or snow. If there are days that you can’t go outside, you’ll want enough entertainment to get you by. A smart reader is a great way to pack every book you’ve been meaning to read without taking up much space in an overnight bag.

Pack Sunscreen.

You may be bundled from head-to-toe on a chilly day but that doesn’t mean the sun can’t reach delicate areas like your face, neck, and hands. Even on overcast days, the UV rays can get through, and sometimes clouds even amplify their strength. This is important if you’re skiing or snowboarding, too, to avoid picking up a goggle tan.

Bonus tip: Are you struggling to get your packing list together? Try a packing app! There are plenty of travel-based apps meant o simplify your vacation for you.

Haven’t picked a fall trip for yourself yet? Consider staying at one of our beautiful vacation rental properties in B.C. Contact us for more details.