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Packing for a year of backpacking

April 18, 2014
Packing Tips

Packing Tips

Two months ago, I left home to spend the year living in Poland. For a few reasons, that is not how life decided to go. I am now getting ready for a flight to Australis, where I will be living for the foreseeable future. In all of the moving I have done in the past two months, I thought I would share with you some tips for packing to spend an entire year away from home!

1) Get a good, sturdy suitcase

I failed at this one. the suitcase I bought was the cheapest rolling duffle I could find, and less than one year later I need to buy a new one. the wheel broke, the handle ripped off, and the seams have split. My boyfriend, on the other hand, bought a hard sided suitcase that has proven to be awesome. You’re better off spending a bit more and having a reliable suitcase to carry around.

2) Only bring one big suitcase

If you want to also bring a carry on or backpack, go for it, but you do not need more than one large suitcase for your items. You won’t use most of what you bring, and you’ll curse yourself for having so much crap.

3) Pay attention to what you wear

I have way too many articles of clothing, especially when I look at what I actually wear. If I had thought ahead I would have packed about half of what I actually brought. as you’re packing, don’t bother bringing “just in case” or “this shirt only looks good with these pants” items. they waste space if you won’t wear them often

4) Leave decorations at home

I learned this after my first full year away. All those neat trinkets that are going to look awesome on your shelf? Half of them will break. They will look cool, but they’ll also take up the space of NEW trinkets to bring home. I have everything in a bag at my parents house, and I will leave it until I have a more permanent home.

5) Check the average temperatures of your destination

Will you be mostly needing warm clothes or cold clothes? If you’re going somewhere generally warm year round, you probably don’t need more than one jacket. If you’re going somewhere usually cold, you can probably pack one bathing suit instead of two or three.

Have you gone on a long term trip and have other suggestions for packing? Let me know!

VacationRoost Ambassador Nikole

Planning a Summer Vacation

March 30, 2014
crested butte hiking

Relax and explore during your next summer vacation.

Summer is all about having fun, relaxing with friends and family and spending time in nature. Summertime means the kids are out of school, its wedding season, road trips are a must and a family reunion is bound to pop up on your calendar. It can be overwhelming to think of all of the things you want and need to do during summer. One way to avoid a feeling of panic when you look at your summer to-do list is to plan ahead. When you start planning your summer vacation in April you can reduce your stress and save money on all of your travel expenses. You are also more likely to find your number one choice for lodging whether that’s a beachfront home or a mountainside condo.  Read through our summer planning tips below and start planning your vacation today.

Hassle-free Summer Vacations

People driving on a road trip.

Road trips are a great way to see more of America and save money.

Drive or fly?

Depending on where you live a road trip could be a fun and affordable option for your summer travel. For example, for California residents a road trip to Lake Tahoe, Mammoth and Yosemite would be a wonderful way to explore three scenic mountain destinations during a week or two-week trip. The West is famous for wide open spaces and stunning vistas and you can see all of the wild country of the West from a car. If you book your rental car in advance you are also more likely to find 10 or 15% off discounts.

Choose the beach that fits your needs whether that's sunbathing or surfing.

Not all beaches are the same. Some are great for sunbathing and some are perfect for surfing. Plan ahead to make sure your beach meets your needs.

Choose your beach wisely

Not all beaches are created equally. Some beaches are great for surfing with big waves year-round — which might not be great for families with small children or beginner swimmers. For example, on the Hawaii islands the best surfing beaches are Pipeline, Waikiki, Shipwrecks Beach in Poipu, Hanalei Bay and Hookipa. If your number one goal is to see sea turtles on the beach then you should go to Laniakea Beach in Oahu or Akumal Bay on the Riviera Maya. Many beaches accommodate both surfers, swimmers and kayakers in different sections of the beach. Other beaches are great for sun bathing but might not be great for snorkeling, or vice versa. One last thing to consider is activities. If you want to rent scuba gear, kayaks or snorkeling equipment, you might want to stay at a beach that has access to a rental shop (not all beaches do).


Turning a summer wedding into a family vacation

Turn a summer wedding into a family vacation.

Turn a wedding into a vacation

Your refrigerator is probably already full of “Save the Date” cards for summer weddings. It’s time to sift through the cute photos and decide which weddings you will attend and which third cousin might just get a wedding gift this year. If you decide to attend your friend’s out-of-state wedding you can turn your wedding trip into a full vacation. Try traveling from a Wednesday to a Wednesday rather than just a weekend. This way you’ll be able to take advantage of mid-week travel discounts and enjoy some down time before and after the festivities. The week can be a romantic trip for two or a family vacation. One benefit to weddings with your entire family is childcare! There’s always a cousin or friend that can help watch your children while you enjoy some adult time with your friends and family.


White water rafting is something you can book in advance.

Plan family activities like white water rafting and horseback rides before you go.

Plan children activities in advance

If you are traveling with young children you will want to make sure you plan their activities in advance. There is nothing worse than showing up to a hotel and finding out that the pool is closed (or even worse, they don’t have one!) and the day camp is full. Most ski resort towns have day camps for children where they can ride zip lines, go horseback riding and go hiking. You’ll want to book these type of activities in advance to ensure that your children have plenty to do while on vacation. It’s also possible to plan family activities like white water rafting and mountain biking before you travel.



Our Destination Experts will help you plan your entire summer vacation.

Our Destination Experts will help you plan your entire summer vacation.


Book with a Destination Expert

One of the worst things that can happen on a vacation are hidden fees. You book your rental care or home online and then when you arrive you find out there are “additional taxes” or “traveler fees” added to your bill. When you work with our Destination Experts to book your travel you can avoid those hidden fees. Not only will they help plan everything from airport pickup to childcare but you will also know about the total price of your vacation before you travel.


Safe Travels,

The VacationRoost Team


What to do outdoors in Palms Springs, CA

March 18, 2014
aerial tram

aerial tram

Spring is one of the best times of year to visit famously sunny Palm Springs, California. Think this desert oasis is just for golfers and retirees? Think again! We love Palm Springs with kids, because of its interesting geological features, fun activities, and great recreation.

Stay in a Palm Springs vacation home to have a pool to yourself (and avoid the weekend party crowds that flock to hotels in the region). From this home base, plan morning excursions and afternoons by the pool and in the shade.

Hike in Joshua Tree National Park:

Joshua Tree National Park is a rock climber’s dream. However, you don’t have to be an expert to have fun here (and stay safe). Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that does not involve ropes, and while the experts take it to the limit, kids can have fun scrambling on any one of the many boulders and rock formations in the park. Hike the three miles from 49 Palms to an oasis, or head to the stamp mill at Lost Horse Mine.

Spend a day at Wet ‘n Wild:

If the day turns out to be a scorcher, head to Wet ‘n Wild, where kids have their pick of slides, tubes, wave pools, and rivers to float in. Pack a lunch for the shaded picnic area, or grab burgers and other ‘theme park fare’ inside the park. Arrive early to ensure a shady spot to rest and regroup throughout the day, or reserve your own cabana.

Try the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway:

Want a whole new perspective on Palm Springs? Head up the world’s largest rotating tram car up Chino Canyon. At the top, you may even need a winter coat! Plan to eat a nice meal at the restaurant at the mountain station, or do some hiking around the peak. In season, there’s even guided nature walks hosted by California State Parks.

Take a desert jeep ride:

See the Mecca Hills, Indian Desert Canyon, or San Andreas Fault from the back of a jeep as you get a tour across the desert floor with one of several jeep tour operations in Palm Springs. Sightseeing tours also depart for Joshua Tree National Park, if you’d rather see the park with an expert along for the ride. Bring sunscreen, water, and a hat or sunglasses for any trip into the open desert.

VacationRoost Ambassador Amy

Top 3 Reasons to Book a Vacation Rental

March 12, 2014

Vacation rentals are a convenient and affordable alternative to a standard hotel room. They have a lower cost/person, more space to relax, private hot tubs and many other amenities that typical hotel rooms do not offer. You can read more about all of the advantages of vacation rentals on our website.

Reason #1: More Space

Vacation rentals have more square feet than hotel rooms.

The average vacation rental has 5X the square footage of a standard hotel room.

Reason #2: Full Kitchens

Vacation Rentals have full kicthens.

Full kitchens mean healthier meals and more space to relax.

Reason #3: Multiple Room

Vacation rental bonus: multiple bedrooms.

More rooms means more privacy.

Safe Travels

The VacationRoost Team

Why Leave Reviews

March 11, 2014
Hitch Hiking in Poland

Hitch Hiking in Poland

Do me a favor, and think back to the last time you tried a new product without first reading the reviews online. For me, I almost never buy anything before at least seeing what the reviews are like on Amazon. Leaving references and reviews are a huge influence on what we purchase, as well as what we do. Whenever I am getting ready to go to a new location, I Google things to do there. If I read that something is “not worth the trip” or “overpriced”, I am thankful that I saved myself that time or money, sometimes both. Leaving HONEST references are even more important.

In July 2012, I took a month long backpacking tour of Europe. One of the stops I was taking was in Rome, to meet up with some friends who were on the summer voyage of Semester at Sea.  After staying one night at a hostel, a friend and I decided to couch-surf, because we were frankly running out of money and generally prefer couch-surfing. I jumped on the emergency couch section and found a place to stay with someone who had a lot of positive references. We went to his and spent the night, and had a less than positive experience. I won’t go into details, but we got out of there as soon as possible the next morning. I left him a negative reference. After dealing with him attempting to harass me into changing it to positive and threatening to harm me, I reported him and he was banned from contacting me again. Shortly after, I received three messages from different people saying they were glad I left a negative reference and that they had similar issues. Um, what? I was very annoyed, because if THEY had said something negative, it would have spared me from having a negative experience. I was less than pleased.

I recently took a nanny job in Poland. I contacted the two previous nannies for references, and they both said they enjoyed it. Very shortly after arriving in Poland, I hated it. The family took advantage of my time, paid less than they said, and gave me more hours than agreed. I messaged one of their previous nannies again, and she told me she had hated it as well but didn’t want to be overreacting. If she had told me it was a negative experience and told me some of the things that went on, (they had done the same things to her) I would have been able to save myself a lot of money and frustrations.

If you have booked with VacationRoost in the past we would appreciate you taking the time to review the service you received through one of our Destination Experts or through our website. Click here to review VacationRoost.

VacationRoost Ambassador Nikole

17,000 Vertical Feet on EpicMix

March 5, 2014


My girlfriend and I had family in town from back East and wanted to show them the very best Colorado has to offer.  So we planned a trip to Vail, CO.  The drive up the I70 mountain corridor took about 2 hrs from Denver Int Airport.  The roads were fairly dry so it was hassle free but keep in mind you do traverse over two separate mountain passes before landing in Vail Valley so all-wheel  drive is highly recommended.  Upon arriving in Vail, we were greeted by a lovely host, Sandy; at Sun Vail condominiums located just across the highway from Lionshead Village.  The check in office was directly in front of the Sun Vail complex which made our check-in very easy and convenient.   The 3bd unit was updated and spacious.  It had two separate balconies with a bbq and great views of Vail Resort right across the road.  We made a nice dinner in the updated kitchen and quickly went out back for some fun sledding in the deep snow.  Once we were just about frozen solid, we decided it would be nice to warm up in the outdoor heated pool and hot tubs.  What a nice treat to have access to after spending time outdoors in the mountains during the winter months.  We were completely relaxed after our hour long soak so we decided to call it a night as we were gearing up for a long day on the slopes!

We woke up to a Ski Butlers delivery at 7am sharp.  What a great service they provide!  They had a snowboard gear my girlfriend’s brother in law ready to go.  It took maybe 15 min to get him all set up.   We crossed the highway via the footbridge and gathered the rest of our gear from our own ski locker, which is included with the Sun Vail lodging unit.

We ended up having a great day on the mountain and logged in over 17,000 vertical feet…which  was provided to us by Vail Resorts and their application entitled EpicMix…which is a free service for every pass holder on the mountain.

Click here to view property video.

Safe Travels,
Josh Dodd

Group Ski Vacations on a Budget

February 27, 2014

Group vacations can be stressful to organize. When traveling with 10 or more people, it can be overwhelming to coordinate all of the travel logistics. Fortunately, there are many ways to make your next group ski vacation hassle-free. The number one way to take the stress out of vacation planning is to talk with our local Destination Experts. It’s free to call and they can give you tips about your entire trip as well as deals on equipment rental and lift tickets. Our Destination Experts live, work and play in our destinations so they can answer any questions you might have – like which babysitting outfitter is the best and where to go for the finest local beer.  For the uber planner, our Destination Experts can plan every last detail of your trip from airport pickup to activity itineraries. For groups that like to fly by the seat of their pants, our Destination Experts can simply provide advice and discounted lift tickets. To learn about other ways to smoothly plan your group ski vacation visit our travel advice page or call one of our Destination Experts today!

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Safe Travels,

The VacationRoost Team


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