Vacation Rentals Vs Hotels

When you are planning a vacation, you may automatically think of taking along with your family (or just yourself) and checking into a comfortable hotel. With a wide range of flight, hotel, car rental packages out there, it’s difficult to make a sensible selection. And in the long run, you can often get the best vacation deals by going that way. Still, there are other lodging selections you might wish to explore.

Vacation rentals, for example, offer many amenities that majority of hotels do not. Usually owned by regular owners (renting a vacation home means helping a “mom and pop” business instead of a big corporate-owned hotel), vacation rentals tend to give you full kitchens and multiple bedrooms. They’re available everywhere you might wish to stay too. You can find condominiums or houses or apartments (with detached homes you get the ultimate in privacy for your vacation) in any part of the world.

If you prefer to be surrounded by the hubbub, you can find rentals in the middle of the action (perhaps a condo on the Las Vegas strip or a cabin with ski-in-ski-out convenience tickles your fancy), but you can also find rentals that cater to peace and quiet.

Many of these rental homes are set back from the busy streets and thoroughfares where hotels dominate (instead of a condo adjacent to Vegas casinos, maybe you’d prefer a house a few blocks away with a fenced yard and a private swimming pool).

What about families who would want to bring their pets along for a vacation? Should it be a hotel or a vacation rental more suitable to accommodate them? Well, there are minority pet-friendly hotels that will appreciate well-mannered pets waltzing through their lobbies (but must be leashed). On the other hand, vacation rentals are often the way to go for pet owners, because many will accept pets, such as dogs and cats (with an additional deposit). Do ensure that you check on the place’s pet policy beforehand, though, since each owner sets his or her own rules.

The final issue that I would want to mention is the overall ambiance of vacation rentals versus hotels. With hotels (especially big chains), you get… pretty much similar thing no matter which part of the world you are visiting. This can be good for those who do not like changes, but if you want to stay somewhere that embraces the culture of the local area, you’re more likely to find that in a vacation rental.

Many owners stay at their properties a few weeks a year themselves, so the homes often feel like, well, homes. They’re cozier and friendlier than the starkness of most hotel rooms. Lest you think I have an agenda for promoting rentals over hotels (alas, I own neither), I must admit that there are a few cons to vacation rentals. First of all, finding just the right place can involve more internet research than simply booking through a web site that offers travel package deals.

Secondly, due to vacation rentals are usually privately owned affairs, it can be hit or miss with service. Not all rental owners have their own web sites, and it may take a while for the proprietors to get back to you if they do not use a management company. Thirdly, most of the vacation rentals do not come with housekeeping. The premises will be cleaned when you arrive (in fact, you’ll often be charged a cleaning fee), but do not expect anyone to come in and provide you any room services every day. Finally, vacation rentals tend to be more expensive than hotels. You do usually get more square footage for your money (multiple bedrooms, full kitchen, separate living and dining rooms, etc.), but you pay for it. That’s why rentals are popular and worthwhile with families and friends who can share the costs.

As now you can have a clearer view, there are pros and cons for both hotels and vacation rentals. I would prefer vacation rentals myself (among the other reasons listed here, I really like supporting “mom and pop” businesses instead of faceless hotel chains), but each have their advantages depending on your preferences. Make sure you do your research before deciding where you want to spend your vacation.

The Benefits Of Family Travel Insurance

Going on vacation is one of the best things a family can do together. You can see the world, visit exciting attractions, relax on the beach, and spend quality time together. As airfares fall in price each year, it is becoming more and more affordable for families to travel together.

There is no shortage of family vacation deals. Just visit a few travel websites or a few travel agencies and you will discover that there are deals all over the place when it comes to family vacations. Also, there are so many interesting and educational places that you can take your family, and there are many options for paying for it all as well. Still, no matter how great family vacations get, the truth is that they can get expensive.

Budgeting and planning is crucial. You may find that once you have added up the costs of transport, dining, lodging, souvenirs, and admission fees, you end up with a pretty big number. With so many important things to budget for during your vacation, you may be tempted to skimp on travel insurance to save a little money which you can use for “more important” things. After all, it is not something that you ever plan on using.

Just Because You Don’t Plan on Needing It

You may not plan on needing travel insurance, but that does not mean that you can forget about it. Travel insurance is something that is very important if something goes wrong, you will be glad that you have it.

Imagine if you miss your return flight you have just spent most of your holiday budget having fun, and now you are stranded in a foreign country, with hardly any money left. How will you get home? If you are incredibly rich, or have a large reserve of funds hidden away in the bank to cover this, or other disasters such as medical fees, then there is no need to worry. But for the rest of us, travel insurance is very important to have.

Selecting a Policy

There are several family travel insurance policies to choose from. You can buy family travel insurance that you have all of the time, which you will pay for on a yearly basis. This is a great idea for families that travel a lot, because it will cover everything from airline ticket replacements to lost and stolen property, and it will cover you no matter where you are traveling.

Travel insurance on an annual basis is very useful if you take several trips each year, but for families that do not travel very often, a cheaper policy which only covers one trip can be a better option. The important thing is to make sure that when you go on vacation you are covered, and that the policy suits the type of vacation. Hopefully you will not need to use the policy, but the peace of mind you gain by having one is well worth the small cost.

Ecuador: Perhaps The Perfect Family Destination

Quito, the second highest Capital city in the world, is connected by daily direct flights to America’s gateway cities of Miami, Houston and Atlanta.

The city of Quito has not only been designated as a United Nations World Heritage Site, but it lies at the foot of South America’s most spectacular–and easy accessible—active volcano. Share practical natural history and physical science with your children just a few miles from Quito!

Less active or physically challenged travelers can ride a Cable car up to Cruz Loma, enjoying a stunning panorama and beautiful views of the city from an altitude of 13451 ft (4100 m). You can either enjoy the views, or–if you are the more adventurous type–the more active traveler or family can hike up to Rucu Pichincha at 15338 ft (4574 m) above sea level.

Another option for visiting this spectacular volcano is with a day tour from Quito. Although not well known, day tours can present one of the more interesting tours from Quito, taken with children in tow.

There is something for everyone.

Plan on starting early in the morning by car from Quito to Lloa and leave the car near the Mountain Refuge; walk up to Guagua Pichina (Baby Pichincha) at 15338 ft (4675 m) above sea level. This volcano erupted recently-the last time in 1999. Taking a look inside the crater and smelling the gases oozing out gives children-and adults-an unmistakable impression of vulcanism and how the Earth developed. One will never forget the smell of sulphur. You can see, smell, and learn–and only 10km from Quito.

While in Ecuador, families-especially city dwellers with children who have never been around animals– should enjoy a practical animal experience in the beautiful colonial haciendas La Alegria and Hato Verde, just south of Quito. Both Haciendas are real working farms and both offer beautiful accommodations to the traveler.

Imagine your children learning that milk doesn’t come from the grocery-but that it comes from cows! Children love to try milking cows, and you will be able to capture video that will help make memories for years to come. Let them spend time around the horses or watch the cowboys simply doing their daily work at the farm. Both haciendas offer horseback riding tours both for beginners and for the very experienced rider.

Children are very welcome on both haciendas and even small children enjoy the farm-life. If feeding sugar cubes and carrots to a horse, milking a cow, or riding a horse seems too adventurous for some, why not take one of the cooking classes at the hacienda? Discover spectacular new recipes for cookies… these haciendas are an excellent place to spend quality time with your family.

One tour option is for the technically astute. Boys and girls always love trains, and in Ecuador, they are in luck, for Ecuador has one of the most spectacular and chaotic railway systems in the world. The tracks and most of the infrastructure is in dire need of repair, but despite that, traveling by train is an excellent and safe opportunity to discover some uniquely beautiful parts of the country.

Some of the railroad lines are spectacularly technical masterpieces, with tunnels, switchbacks, and climbs in elevation that will take your breath away. Unfortunately, as in many areas of the world, the trains of Ecuador have completely lost most of their economic importance enjoyed in previous times.

For those who want to travel by rail, Ecuador has given rise to a new type of rail travel, a unique vehicle, which always seems to be pictured in travelogues. Next to the real trains, consisting of a locomotive and cars, a kind of “truck on railroad wheels” called an “Autoferro” has developed. On most Autoferros, passengers travel comfortably on the roof. During the last year, because of their popularity and the history of travelers in Ecuador in this way, comfortable “autoferros” have been introduced where you can travel comfortably on the roof, or inside the “autoferro”.

A two day journey from Quito to Guayaquil can be particularly interesting for a family. It’s exciting, it’s different, and it’s something that will be long remembered as a family adventure.

First, plan your travel by autoferro from Quito – Cotopaxi National Park, then transfer and plan to travel by bus to Riobamba where you stay overnight. Enjoy Riobamba, but get to bed early because you catch the early morning train to Alausi, through the spectacular Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) to Huigra and Bucay.

From Bucay, take a bus to Guayaquil– where you will arrive in the late afternoon. During the whole journey you’re in close contact with the local, mostly Indian population who live in the Andes Mountains. Find a rider who speaks English and strike up a conversation about the country. Ecuadorians are justifiably proud of their country, and your family will make a memory that will last forever-and just may make a new friend!

Between Huigra and Bucay you will leave the Andes Mountains and enter the tropical Pacific plain with its Banana plantations and tropical fruits. This journey from Quito to Guayaquil takes 2 days and it offers an unforgettable family experience.

At your destination, Guayaquil, this beautiful tropical city offers a lot for families. It is truly the most interesting tropical city in South America.

Take a one hour cruise on the “Pirate Ship” on the Guayas River and visit the Historical Park where you can view the local tropical flora and fauna. You can visit an old cacao farm, and realize the contrast to the simple farm houses you observed by the hundreds only the day before from the train. Stay in a hotel in Guayaquil itself, and not near the Airport.

Try the Hotel Unipark (4*) just opposite of the Parque Seminario or “Parque de las Iguanas” as it called by the locals. On this plaza, Iguanas walk freely, similar to cats and dogs in many neighborhoods in America. We’d suggest you not try to pet them, however!

Another wonderful option for overnight accommodation is the Grand Hotel de Guayaquil (3*) which has a small open-air swimming pool in the courtyard of the hotel.

It’s time for you to discover Ecuador. Ecuador is a marvelous destination location-just off the “beaten path.” There is much to discover, and once you’ve visited, you’ll want to return.

How To Improve Your Group Travel Experience

I took my first group tour this summer. That was a learning experience. Don’t get me wrong. I had lots of fun, but for someone who has always traveled alone, I had some learning” to do.

First things first! Getting to know my co-travellers! This was easy and fun, cause our group leader organized several get-togethers way in advance, so we could get to know each other, and get all or questions answered. And there were many questions, like, where would we stay, where can we buy travel insurance, what should we bring, what will immigration and customs documents will be need! And more.

Then roommates had to be assigned, because it would be cheaper to share a room than to have your own room. So unless you were a family , you got a roommate. I got two roommates, and we really hit it off. One roommate was a die hard shopper, and the other was an eternal organizer. So between the three of us, we had a ball.

But I did have to learn to be patient. Our group was very diverse. We had kids, teenagers, and some older persons. So things did not always move as quickly ( or as efficiently) as when I travel alone. We usually had to wait and make sure that everyone was accounted for before our tour bus could leave for the next stop. Hotel check-ins did not always go smoothly, but once we got settled the rooms were comfortable.

The key to enjoying group travel is to be patient and to be considerate. Be flexible and tolerant in order to accommodate others in the group, and do your best to stick to the itinerary schedule. Don’t show up at 7:30 when the Bus was scheduled to leave at 7AM. Take your sense of humor with you, and you will definitely have a good time.

Group travel is an excellent way to make new friends and to foster old friendships. If you want to spend quality time with your friends, family members, or business colleagues and enjoy a wonderful vacation experience at the same time, then I highly recommend a group travel tour!