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Maui Vacations for Families

December 19, 2013

Hawaii is a great destination for family vacations. With 8 National Parks, 8 islands and nearly 800 miles of coastline there is no shortage of places to explore. Hawaii boasts some of the most luxurious accommodations in the world (e.g. the Four Seasons Resort Maui has a wide selection of spa offerings for children 12 and under!) but families traveling on a budget can also find great deals in the Aloha state.

The most family-friendly island is Maui. You can easily plan several activities a day during a week vacation. Choose from a long-list of family fun including:

  • Whale watching
  • Helicopter tours
  • Luxury catamaran cruises
  • Snorkeling and BBQ boat tours
  • Submarine tours
  • Swimming with dolphins
  • Ziplining
  • Downhill bike tours
  • Luaus
  • Road to Hana trip to 10,000 foot Haleakala summit
  • Explore botanical gardens in Kula
  • Family spa treatments
  • Maui flower plantation tours
  • Sport-fishing

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Contact a Destination Expert today to help plan your next family getaway.

Safe Travels,

The VacationRoost Team

15 Things About Ambassador Nikole

December 17, 2013

15 facts photo


Hey guys! For this month I wanted to post a list of “fun facts” about my travels, so here are 15 things you may not know!

1) A trip to England with two of my dear friends in October 2010 is what sparked my big interest in traveling.

2) I almost never pay for a place to sleep, instead I use couchsurfing and meet super awesome people. It’s a great site because you can save money, meet cool people, and locals are usually willing to show you around their city!

3) I have a goal to visit 50 countries by the time I turn 30.

4) That goal was originally 30 countries, but I surpassed that.

5) I would like to spend time living on every continent. So far I’ve lived on three.

6) My mom always jokes that my boyfriend is the best souvenir I’ve brought home (we met in Australia).

7) I lived on a ship for a bit over 3 months, which is how a fair chunk of my traveling was done.

8) There is NOTHING that makes me more angry than people who say “Ugh I wish I could travel.” Stop throwing your excuses at me because I am absolutely not buying them!

9) My parents do NOT pay for any of my travel. They’ve loaned me money when I was in a tight spot (like in Fiji when my hosts turned out to be lame), but I always pay them back.

10) My favorite country is Ghana. Someday I hope to return and work for CAN-DO land tours, a company I toured with in 2011, for at least one year.

11) Au pairing abroad is super easy to do and a great way to travel and make money. It’s not much money, but I lived off of less than $100 a week in Europe, including traveling for 4 weeks over the summer and several week-long trips — and I came out of my year there with about $400 more than when I went in.

12) Being back in the USA has made me feel pressure to go back to university, get a degree, and start my career. But that’s not my path. This country seems so obsessed with that mentality and it makes me mad.

13) I have slept in a park before with two of my friends in Italy. It was an awesome night.

14) I want to spend 3-6 months doing a bike tour of Vietnam.

15) The list of places I haven’t been to feel endless, but I’m excited to tick locations off my list and have more stories to tell.


Safe Travels!

VacationRoost Ambassador Nikole

The 12 Days of Christmas

December 12, 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas is the song that we sing,

And to you twelve presents we bring!

December the 12th is when the deals start-

Unwrap one each day, then add to your cart!

Booking your trip is a dream come true,

Merry Christmas from the VacationRoost Crew!

Our 12 Days of Christmas promotion offers 25% or more off your next vacation rental in our top mountain destinations. Each day we unveil the new deal, so be sure to mark your calendar for your favorite resort.

Safe travels,

The VacationRoost Team

Forget the tubing parks: where to sled in Lake Tahoe

December 2, 2013
Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe

Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe is a great activity for the whole family. (Photo credit Amy Whitley)

Sledding for my kids means charting their own course down powdery hills, making snow forts, and engaging in a snowball fight or two…most of which is not on offer at major ski resort tubing parks.  While we enjoy resort parks in Lake Tahoe for low-key thrills, we crave more adventure and flexibility. (I also crave lower prices.) If your kids agree that ski resort tubing parks are often too tame, check out Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe.

Located on Highway 50 near Echo Summit (three miles from Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort), Adventure Mountain is an old-school sledding hill with approximately a dozen blazed trails down the side of a large hill and room for you to create your own.  The snow at the base of the mountain has been groomed into berms to keep tubes and sleds from whizzing right into the parking lot, but we’ve still seen it happen. This is completely a do-it-yourself mountain, with few rules and regulations. Families can rent sleds and tubes if needed, and there’s a small day lodge with shelter and a snack bar, but we bring our own snacks or lunch and eat it picnic style on sunny Tahoe days.

The runs are divided into beginner and advanced, so yes, there is a place for small children and more cautious sledders, and kids love the ability to start small and get more daring as the day goes on. We visited on a December day during the holiday break, and while crowded, there were enough runs to keep waiting to a minimum. The sledding paths at Adventure Mountain are accessed by walking trails up the side (not rope tow or magic carpet here!) so you’ll earn your hot chocolate break! Adjacent to the sledding hills is the entrance to a network of cross-country and snowshoeing trails, so family members can certainly split up and participate in different winter sports.

The mountain is open 9 am or 10 am (depending on day) to 4:30 pm (no lights here!), and you can certainly stay all day. If you do, bring extra gloves and socks for the kids and stow them in the car, which is close enough to access any time. We spent as much time playing in the snow with other families as we did sledding, and those dry layers were welcome. There’s space for fires in marked fire pits, and on cold or stormy days, sanctuary can be had in the lodge. There are no helmet requirements at Adventure Mountain, but for what it’s worth, we highly recommend you require them of your kids. We had a few tumbles for which we were grateful for ours.

Best of all, the cost of Adventure Mountain is just $20 per car load. No individual entry fee whatsoever. Rentals vary, but if you come with your own sleds and a packed lunch, you’ve got yourself a fabulous $20 day in Tahoe!

VacationRoost Ambassador, 


5 Travel Songs For Booking Your Next Trip

November 28, 2013

Where to next? For leisure travelers, a huge part of the joy comes from planning the trip and looking forward to it. That explains the dose of endorphins you might feel as you giddily click “purchase” on the airfare you’ve been hovering over. It explains the stoke of booking hotels, vacation rentals, tickets of any kind, and while reading up on a destination.

When you’re online researching your next big trip, you need a soundtrack for the excitement. Here are a few travel tunes to rock as you pull the trigger on the trip purchase, complete with some lyrics to belt out as you book. Spontaneous dance parties encouraged.

The Black Keys – Have Love Will Travel

I took a boat and I took a plane

I might hitch-hike or jump a railroad-train

Your kind of love drive a man insane

So look for me walkin’ just any old way

Have love, will travel

Have love, will travel

If you need lovin, oh baby I travel

If you need lovin, oh baby I travel

Mos Def – Leaving on a Jet Plane

I’m leaving, on a jet plane

I don’t know if I’ll be back again

Kiss me and smile for me

Tell me that you’ll wait for me

Hold me, like you know I’ll never go

Even though you know I will

Daft Punk – Around the World


Around the world, around the world (x72)

Lenny Kravitz – Fly Away

I wish that I could fly

Into the sky

So very high

Just like a dragonfly


I’d fly above the trees

Over the seas in all degrees

To anywhere I please


Oh I want to get away

I want to fly away

Yeah yeah yeah

Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of This Country

Let’s get out of this country

I have been so unhappy

Smell the Jasmine my head will turn

I feel like getting confessional

We’ll find a cathedral city

You can convince me I am pretty

VacationRoost Ambassador,

Three reasons Banff and Lake Louise are four-season destinations

November 27, 2013
Banff hiking photo.

Enjoy hiking during the fall in Banff.

Summer’s over, and winter’s not quite yet here, but November is still a great time to visit the resort destinations of Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta. While this national park hot spot in the Canadian Rockies is certainly bustling in summer and a snow-lover’s paradise in winter, autumn provides some of the best hiking. Here’s where to go in the Banff and Lake Louise area in November:

1. Hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House

This iconic tea house perched on the edge of Lake Agnes above Lake Louise may be closed for the autumn season in November, but the views are open year round. Plus, the crowds of summer are gone! Access this 7 km round-trip trail from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and plan to spend the entire day if the weather cooperates. Hikers can access the stunning vistas from the ‘Beehive’ from the far side of Lake Agnes, which offers views of blue Lake Louise, the Fairmont, and the entire valley. Check the forecast first: if the region is covered in snow during your visit, grab snowshoes or skis from the Fairmont and try a snow hike.

2. Check out the art vibe in Banff

Banff isn’t just about the outdoors. It’s also a vibrant artist colony, with a long history of talented painters and sketchers. If the weather cooperates, check out the view that has inspired countless artists at Surprise Corner (with views of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and the Bow Valley), then head indoors to admire art from the past century at Whyte Museum, located in town. Whyte is run by donation-only, and offers a wonderful gallery as well as historical exhibits detailing Banff’s past.

3. Soak in hot springs:

At any time of year, the Banff Upper Hot Springs are a treat, but in the late autumn, they’re especially welcome. For a low entry fee, visitors can soak all day if they’d like (though it’s not recommended, given the 104 temperature of the water!). Once your fingers are prune-y, drive the short distance to Cave and Basin, the site of the original springs that put Banff on the map (and began the Parks Canada movement). You can’t soak in these springs, but can see the source within a deep cave and the original bathhouse that drew the first tourists to Banff.

Enjoy Banff and Lake Louise without the crowds in the autumn, and while you’re there, note the preparations for the winter ski season and plan your return!

Safe travels, 

VacationRoost Ambassador,

How to stay in love (and connected) while abroad

November 25, 2013
Photo of couple on Halloween.

The happy couple celebrate Halloween as Juno MacGuff and Paulie Bleeker.

I would like to start this article by saying that I am, in no way, a relationship expert. I’ve had two “serious” relationships in my life, and one of them was a high school sweetheart who I swore I would marry some day. Clearly I was wrong about that one. The point is, I have experience with keeping a relationship going while traveling, but I am absolutely not the authority on the matter.

I met my boyfriend while I was living in Australia. We started dating shortly after meeting, and a few months later we were working together at a camp in Michigan. I was lucky enough to find someone interested in traveling (almost) as much as I am, but not everyone is like that. Here are a few tips on how to keep your relationship going while you travel:

1)  Communication is key

Okay, obviously this is a huge part of dating in general, but when you’re traveling it is extra important. Talk about boundaries to keep you both comfortable and happy. If you want to go out to a night club but your significant other is feeling nervous about that, come up with a compromise. Maybe go for two hours instead of the planned entire night. Maybe only have two drinks. Do what works for you.

2)  Skype!

I am a huge fan of Skype. I think it is potentially the greatest thing technology has given us. I use it all the time, to chat with my sister in Florida or my friends in other countries. Skype is great for checking in with your significant other while you are traveling, whether you decide to do that daily or weekly — it’s up to you! Skype is a great way to stay connected and see that face you like so much.

3)  Send postcards

Email is fun, Facebook wall posts are cute, and Skype is awesome, but can anything really beat getting something via snail mail? If you are going to be on your excursion for an extended period of time, why not send your love a care package with goodies from the place you are staying? If you are there for a shorter period of time, why not send a cute postcard? Even if it gets to them after you do, they will appreciate knowing that you were thinking about them.

4)  Do not give into temptation

We have all had a few too many drinks. We have all felt the temptation to maybe get a bit too flirty with a stranger. I am telling you right now, kissing a random person at the bar is not going to be worth ending your relationship over. A good way to combat getting into that situation is mentioning that you have a boyfriend/girlfriend fairly early on in the evening to whoever you are talking to. A lot of the time, that will deter them from trying anything with you. Also, ALWAYS make sure to keep your wits about you. Don’t drink too much, and make sure to pay close attention to your drinks. If you are out with a group of friends, designate someone before the night begins who is willing to stay sober and keep an eye on everyone…just make sure it’s not the same friend every time you go out.

5)  Take them with you!

One of the best moments of my current relationship was when my boyfriend got home from work and I said to him “Flights to Fiji are on sale for $350! That’s so cheap!” and he said “Okay, if you want to go to Fiji then let’s go”. It was the moment that I thought to myself “Yep, this guy.” If your significant other is adventurous and is interested in going somewhere with you, go together! Traveling together is a great bonding experience, and a good test run for living together (now you know how long they take getting ready in the morning!). If you find yourself wanting to get away from them after a week together, maybe it is just not meant to be. After all, do you want to stop traveling? If you are like me and you plan on traveling forever, and your current person is not a good travel companion, the odds are good that they will not be a good life companion.

VacationRoost Ambassador,


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