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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.

Healthy smoothies
Nov06

As the weather goes down, so does our body’s natural immunity. Wintertime tends to mean: being indoors more, where germs travel more easily; a lower body temperature, making you vulnerable; and germs get tougher as the weather gets chillier. That’s why you should try to incorporate vitamins and minerals into your diet that boost immunity and help keep you healthy! Smoothies are an easy way to do this. Here are a few nutrient-rich healthy smoothies to get you started:

  1. Citrus Immunity Boosting Smoothie Recipe

Citrus fruits have a ton of vitamin C so this recipe is a perfect, healthy smoothie choice. The vitamin C in citrus fruits are also proven to slow aging and prevent cancer. Oranges and mangoes are the primary ingredients, which is great because mandarin oranges are in season. Lime juice and coconut water finish this recipe off. With no yogurt or milk, it is also low calorie.

Full recipe here.

  1. C-Blast Smoothie

Pink grapefruit, pineapple, and strawberries are all packed with vitamin C. Because most fruit is out of season, feel free to sub in frozen or canned varieties where applicable. This blend included half-a-cup of non-fat Greek yogurt, too, which makes it more filling—perfect for breakfast or a midday snack to tide you over until dinner.

Full recipe here.

  1. Immune Boosting Winter Citrus Smoothie

Mangos, turmeric, ginger, a pinch of cayenne, oranges make the base of this rich, delicious wintertime favorite smoothie. Try swapping in blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, or mandarin oranges to change up the flavor a bit. You can even mix varieties in the same dish. This smoothie is perfect for winter blues, with plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants.

Full recipe here.

  1. Superfood Power-Up Smoothie Cups

This smoothie cup contains coconut milk, oatmeal, raw honey, chia seeds, vanilla, quinoa, as well as an assortment of spices that you can modify based on what you have on hand. We suggest using turmeric, which is known to help control blood pressure and boost your body’s natural restorative properties.

Full recipe here.

What are your favourite healthy smoothies for wintertime? Let us know in the comments. Want to tap into some sweet, sweet Okanagan produce for your healthy smoothie recipes? Book your summer vacation plans with us now at Breakaway Vacations. We book up fast!

Stay fed, stay healthy.

 

Halloween events
Oct23

If you are visiting Vancouver Island this October there are plenty of things to do as Halloween grows near. These events are compiled with our Breakaway Vacation properties in Parksville and Qualicum Beach in mind but don’t forget to explore what goes on in other areas like Victoria, as well!

  1. Halloween Party & Masquerade Ball

If you don’t mind a short drive to Nanaimo then be sure to buy tickets for the annual Halloween Part and Masquerade Ball, hosted by the Serauxmen Service Club. Enjoy dancing, live music, and a best costume prize (solo and group).

Location: Nanaimo Curling Club (106 Wall Street)

  1. Pumpkins on the Drive

Wander along Resort Drive to see an assortment of pumpkins carved and decorated for the season. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pick up some candy and hot chocolate along the way!

Location: Resort Drive in Parksville

  1. Friends of Foster Park Pumpkin Walk

More pumpkins, what a surprise! Tour through hundreds of pumpkins carved by community youth. This event takes place every year and is free to attend. The walk is family-friendly with enough rooms for strollers.

Location: Foster Park, Parksville

  1. Errington’s Pumpkin Trail and Fireworks

Visit Errington’s Community Park with the whole family in costume (child-friendly event) and check out the props hidden along the trails. Treats will be handed out at different milestone locations. There is also a market site at the end where you can stock up on treats and drinks. Plus: fireworks!

Location: Errington’s Community Park

  1. Coombs Candy Walk

This is a Halloween event held every year. Visitors can enjoy a circus-themed candy walk, concession stands, a “Little Ghouls” haunted house, and fireworks later in the night. The event is by donation, so chip in what you can.

Location: 1014 Ford Road, Coombs

  1. Halloween in the Village

Located in the heart of Qualicum Beach, Halloween in the Village includes a pumpkin trail, hotdogs and other treats, a bonfire, and some nighttime fireworks. Check online for more details, as they sometimes have a haunted house (OR a family-friendly version) set up, as well.

Location: Downtown Qualicum Beach

  1. Halloween Howl Swim

Want something totally unique? Try the Halloween Howl Swim at the Ravensong Aquatic Centre. The Centre is always decorated for the occasion. Also, there will be games and activities for kids. The event closed off with a piñata bash, so be sure to stick around.

Location: Ravensong Aquatic Centre, Qualicum Beach

Not sure what you want to do to celebrate this Halloween with your family? Ask us about our vacation rentals on Vancouver Island!

wine pairing
Oct16

Everyone knows that British Columbia is Canada’s wine region. BC wine is a must-try when you are visiting the area. Vineyards may not be open this late into the year but you can expect any local venues to be stocked up with wine from around the area. Here are just a few ideas of what types of wine and food pairings to try.

Savory Squash + Pinot Gris

Squash is in season so you will probably be able to find it on many-a-menu these days. Any savory squash meal should pair well with Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris is rich and spicy and quite popular in B.C. so you’ll find it everywhere. It pairs well with the rich creaminess of squash-based meals (think: pasta, warm salad, or soups).

Meat and Potatoes + Rioja

Steak and potatoes. Sausage and potatoes. Red meat stew. These are perfect cold-weather meals because they fill you up and make you feel warm and cozy as the nights get chilly. Try pairing these meals with a Rioja, which is a deep, leathery red with hints of cherry. Want it sweeter? Open a newer bottle. For more savory, pick a Rioja that has been aged.

Apple Cinnamon + Riesling

Cinnamon will be making a grand appearance in a big way in many desserts and even breakfast/bunches. You might find it with apple or pumpkin, which are in season. But what wine goes best with apple cinnamon tarts after a long day? Try Riesling, which is equal parts sweet and acidic—a perfect counterpart.

Turkey Leftovers + Grenache Rosé

If you’ve already celebrated (Canadian) Thanksgiving, you most likely have a fridge packed full of delicious turkey leftovers. You might be finding yourself adding it to everything: soups, salads, sandwiches. How about accenting the inevitable turkey overdose with some nice Grenache Rosé? The ruby rose colour and heightened acidity make it a great fall pairing.

Vegetable Stew + Pinot Noir

Vegetable stew is great to make in bulk and freeze or refrigerate for easy fall meals. Pack it full of lentils, mushrooms, carrots, potato, corn, and anything else you desire. Vegetarian stew lasts longer in the fridge than meat-based counterparts so you don’t have to worry about rushing through it. Pinot Noir is so food-friendly it goes with nearly anything but it will keep this particular meal company with it’s rich fruity character.

Lamb + Zinfandel

Thinking about ordering rack of lamb for a luscious, fall meal? Try pairing lamb-based recipes with Zinfandel, which is a perfect fall wine that also goes great with sweet potatoes. Zinfandel has hints of dark fruit and a smoky zest but you can also find earthier varieties.

No matter what you are eating, you will be able to find a BC wine to match. That’s because there are so many varieties to play with. Wine lovers rejoice.

Looking for a fantastic Fall getaway? Contact us and ask about our vacation properties here in beautiful British Columbia.

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.

BC Wine
Aug26

If you are travelling B.C. this summer, you will undoubtedly be drawn to the expansive vineyards. Not only are they stunning to behold but they produce delicious wines of every flavor and variety. Any vacation trip to B.C. would do well with some samples of the local wineries. Many visitors arrange wine tours during their stay. (Ask us if you are staying with us and in need of recommendations!)

In honour of all the great B.C. wineries and orchards, here are just a few of our favorite B.C. wines:

1. Family Reserve Chardonnay

From: Quails’ Gate Stewart in Okanagan Valley, BC

This tropical and balanced wine pairs well with any pork-centric meal. It won a bronze medal in the 2019 San Francisco International Wine Competition, among other notable achievements. This Chardonnay is refreshing, golden, and smooth with a fruity essence.

2. Red Icon, Bordeaux Blend

From: Painted Rock Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

A red Bordeaux blend usually has Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc in it. Bold and structured, this wine pairs well with beef and/or venison meals. Darkly colored and rich in flavor, many red Bordeaux are likened to dark fruits like plum and blackcurrant.

3. Syrah

From: Painted Rock Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

Syrah is a dark-skinned red wine grape known for floral flavors in its youth and more peppery flavors as it ages. It pairs well with BBQ (think: spareribs and grilled veggies), braised beef, and aged hard cheeses. Fun fact: It’s only called “Shiraz” if it’s from Australia.

4.  ‘Portfolio’ Red, Bordeaux Blend

From: Laughing Stock Vineyards in Okanagan Valley, BC

Laughing Stock Vineyards is located in the beachy city of Penticton, B.C. This red pairs well with heavy, fatty, and spicier steaks and lamb. We’re sensing a theme here. Routinely wins top accolades from wine competitions and wine critics alike: a proven chart-topper.

5. Reserve Riesling Icewine

From: Mission Hill Family Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

An ultra-sweet icewine with tons of tropical fruit flavours, like citrus and apricot. Don’t worry, citrus-infused acidity keeps it balanced. It will pair perfectly with berry-centric desserts so be sure to stick around for an after-dinner snack.

We hope this guide will help you sample the best wine of B.C.

If you in the area visiting and need a cozy vacation rental, be sure to contact us. Our staff would be happy to help you find the right fit.

BC nature scenery by water
Aug19

Thinking about visiting B.C.? We don’t blame you! Here are just a few of the things that we love about beautiful British Columbia.

1. The Hiking Trails

From the Okanagan to the Island, B.C. has hiking trails for all ages and skill levels. Take a family-friendly meander through a wooden grove or challenge yourself with a steep uphill climb! Check out our blog for suggestions of some hikes nearest you. On the blog homepage, search: “Hikes.”

2. National Parks

B.C. is home to some of the most gorgeous national parks in all of Canada. You can birdwatch, picnic, or site-see to your heart’s content. Don’t forget to call or email ahead to ensure that they are open to the public during your day/hour of choice. Make a day trip to the nearest one—you won’t regret it!

3. Budget Travel

B.C. has a perfect blend of flashy cities and small, community-centric towns. That means that no matter what your budget is, you can find somewhere to stay. Also: B.C. has a moderate climate year-round, meaning that you can fill your days with cost-free outdoor activities.

4. The Beaches

B.C. borders the Pacific Ocean and has many lakes and ponds that are safe for a dip. No matter where you stay, you’ll be able to find a waterside spot to soak up some sun. Okanagan Lake is a must-see if you are vacationing in the Kelowna and Vernon area.

5. Tourist Friendly

Not only is B.C. very multicultural but they have a thriving tourism industry. That means everywhere you go you will feel welcomed and taken care of. Our doors are always open to newcomers.

6. Wine County

B.C. wineries have a long history in the province, where the warm weather allows orchards of all sorts to flourish in the summer and autumn months. Book a wine tour to learn more or ask around for the best local picks.

7. Farmers’ Markets

Wine grapes aren’t the only produce that grows across B.C. You’ll find plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables available at any local farmers’ market and even many varieties in common grocery stores, too.

Have we convinced you to try a B.C. vacation? Contact us for details on the best B.C. vacation rentals in the Okanagan Valley and on Vancouver Island. We welcome the opportunity to set you up in a modern, personable cottage or abode of your choosing.

As always: travel safe!

Summer cocktails using fresh fruit ingredients
Aug12

What can take any summer vacation up a notch? Some amazing cocktails (or mocktails if you want)! If you are staying somewhere away from home, like one of our vacation rentals, you will probably want something easy that you can throw together with minimal supplies and prep. So here are 5 of our favourite easy summer cocktail recipes. Mix, stir, blend, and shake away!

1. Jam Cocktails

By Dessert for Two

Pick your favourite jam—and if you are vacationing in B.C., you can probably find something homemade at one of the farmer’s markets. Place a few tablespoons of jam in a jar and add 1-2 shots of vodka and some lemon juice. Shake well before straining and serving over ice. Garnish with fruits and mint according to what type of jam you picked.

2. Easy Pimm’s Cocktails

By Taste.com

Add sliced oranges, lemon pieces, and cucumber to a significant portion of Pimm’s and then leave the whole thing in the fridge to chill for a few hours. Serve the mixture with tonic water, sparkling water, ginger ale, or lemonade, depending on your preference. Add some more fruit for garnish and voila—super easy fruity cocktail. Pimm’s can also be replaced by gin, vermouth, and an orange-based liqueur.

3. Malibu Sunset Cocktail

By The Cookin Chicks

This is a super easy three-ingredient recipe, requiring only Malibu Rum, pineapple juice, and a bit of grenadine. You can add cherries or pineapples as a garnish, but this is wholly optional. Fill a glass with ice and add in the rum and the pineapple juice. For a “sunset” look, pour the grenadine in slowly and watch the colours set.

4. Summer Solstice Wine Cocktail

By Boulderlocavore

What better to drink in Wine Country than a wine-based cocktail? First, combine cherries, peaches, and a Pinot Noir and muddle all the ingredients together. Then, add a few ice cubes and shake. Strain this mixture into glasses filled with fresh ice and top with Italian Soda (recommended: Blood Orange flavor). Try selecting a wine from a local vineyard for a location-specific twist.

5. Strawberry Basil Vodka Cocktail

By Garnish with Lemon

This is the most ingredient-intensive cocktail on this list so save it for a night you are feeling adventurous. You’ll need strawberries, basil leaves, lemon juice, simple syrup, vodka, elderflower liqueur, and prosecco. Muddle the strawberries, basil, lemon juice and simple syrup. Then, add ice, vodka, and elderflower liqueur and shake it. Strain everything into an ice-filled glass and add in the prosecco.

These summer cocktail ideas are sure to add a little spice to your vacation plans.

Don’t have any plans yet? Contact us about our vacation cottages and rentals across B.C. and we’ll help you find the perfect fit.