Flexible Travel Days + Technology = Cheaper Family Mountain Resort Vacations

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Family trips use to mean you only vacationed during the Flexible Travel Days. Yet the key to saving on California flexible travel days is your family having a flexible travel schedule and knowing the California school vacation calendar to avoid the holiday rush when everything is more expensive and crowded. Fortunately, this is now possible for you since most schools have Websites, Facebook pages and teachers’ emails. This lets your kids stay on top of their school work with assignments from teachers, and notes and projects from fellow classmates, even when away on vacation. Technology also allows you to work remotely, if needed. So, your family can now travel during “off days” when it is cheaper to vacation with better deals and rates, with more lodging available.

Today, the tourism trend is for everyone to take their resort vacations during the same holidays.  For example, you can use your smart vacation dollar savings by reserving your Mammoth Sierra lodging choices for your family early or around the schedules  to avoid these periods of higher demands and prices. Some of the more expensive times are the Christmas, New Years, Martin Luther King and Presidents Holidays. Also, there are usually three-to-four-day required lodging stays during these periods. So, be sure to plan your lodging reservation dates well in advance to beat these larger crowds and higher prices.

Some of the best times for you to think about booking California mountain resort vacation rentals are just after the peak season has ended, or just before peak season begins. With your flexible family vacation schedule, certain holiday breaks and off-season times are in less demand and less expensive. Getaways during these periods will result in more affordable vacations, with more money left in your bank or available for your other family fun during the vacation. The winter holiday periods are Ski Week beginning the week after President’s Day Monday through Friday, and the Spring Break week. Spring Break and Easter often coincide. And many businesses let employees have extended time off for religious holidays because of cuts in the schedule or mandatory vacation times – maybe you can take advantage of this, too. For winter resorts, regular season ends just after Easter when prices on lodging plummet. And after the summer rush, anytime in September, after Labor Day, up till Thanksgiving is also not high season and rates will be remarkably less.

If your family can take advantage of flexible vacation schedules and days, you can benefit from some real savings on vacation rental homes and cabins. Many resorts are 50% empty during these off-season times so they will offer bargains to entice you to plan your trip for when everyone else isn’t. Coming before Christmas vacation is one way to get the best rates. Likewise, for New Years, many companies offer their employees extended time off, so coming after the holidays is another good option. This may be perfect for your family if you want to save, as rates at many resorts will drop after New Years, meaning a 20-40% savings.

Another great way for you to save on flexible vacations is by having your kids use technology so your family doesn’t become trapped by the school holiday schedule. Most vacation rentals have access to the Internet, and there is always the local Starbucks. If your children are not involved in sports, then you can comfortably take them out of school and let them use technology to stay up with the class while traveling as a family during non-prime-time season. Many classrooms create their own specific Facebook page where students can help each other by uploading and sharing homework notes and problem solving. They can also use Skype and Facebook Instant Messaging features to communicate their “status” individually and as a group so that they build a community around the page. This is clearly beneficial for your kids “grabbing the notes” and working on joint projects when they go on vacation.

Additionally, parents can work remotely on their job projects through the Internet and conference calling if needed. You can use “Go To My PC”, a program that allows you to connect to your own home PC, or “Go To My Office” (same company business edition) and connect to your business computer. These kinds of telecommuting tools used on your own traveling laptop let you do everything you would if you were in the office. This flexibility allows for a vacation schedule that will save you a bundle.

For example, at many of the bigger ski resorts, such as Mammoth Mountain , a lift ticket can go as low as $65 for an adult during these times, which is a huge savings off the regular $120 lift tickets during holiday times. And even better savings come from taking advantage of mid-week deals and rates, any days Sunday through Friday. The key here to saving on your Mammoth vacation rentals is to avoid staying Saturday night.

With the many technology choices available for both your students, as well as you, the parents, the freedom of a flexible family vacation schedule is a real possibility. Planning your trip to maximize the value of vacation dollars and minimize the limitations of travel periods is simply smart math. These kinds of calculations equal more family vacation savings, better choices and fewer crowds. The numbers are in your favor.

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Don’t Get Scammed On Your Next Resort Vacation

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The simple and convenient use of online vacation rental Web sites is on the rise and has become the new norm for many people planning a trip. Vacation lodging is being reserved through computers and smart phones, on commuter rails and lunch breaks, and while watching the kid’s soccer game. Unfortunately, vacation-rental-scams are also on the rise. Sadly, the scams are proliferating and horror stories are surfacing from consumers who were unaware. The last thing anyone wants to worry about is being scammed on vacation.

Also, more and more vacationers are choosing the ease and comfort of staying in a vacation rental home rather than in a hotel when they travel to a resort. The hustles and bustles of a hotel aren’t always the most relaxing, the cost can be quite a bit higher and the creature comforts are missing. The advantages to vacation home and cabin rentals over individual hotel rooms are many, with the larger space, improved privacy and shared living areas making this choice preferred by numerous travelers. However, booking these homes online through a private party can be risky for the renter.

According to an August 2010 leading travel industry article by Tnooz, “Industry studies show that the overwhelming majority of travelers (up to 80%) select their accommodation through the Internet, and over 50% end up booking online.”

Most vacation rental Web sites are trustworthy. As one California resort reservation booking company pointed out, “working with a local and professional vacation rental Web-based business helps avoid the rip-off and the enticing to-good-to-be-true advertisements that are found on Craigslist, Backpages.com, larger national sites, or other Web sites where fraudulent perpetrators lie.”

So how can the public tell the good guys from the bad guys? Not all rental scams are that obvious. Here are several important characteristics to look for when deciding on which online vacation rental business to use and choosing the right property:

  • Is the vacation rental Web site locally or regionally-based? Real businesses have real local or regional addresses. Google their address. The vacation property itself should have an address for Google Maps verification. If it doesn’t ask a telephone agent for it. Then Google it.
  • Does the Web site business have a working phone number? Call them and talk to them, or notice how soon they return any messages left. Real businesses have real professional and knowledgeable employees who provide quality information. They also use a consistent email address in their correspondence. The email address should be the same as the domain name, not a “free” email box from Yahoo, MSN, AOL or Gmail.
  • Do they have a high quality and currently dated Web site? Real businesses have their name the same as their Web site address (the URL). When they have good, original content on their site, such as “local activities to do”, this helps to prove their credibility.
  • When was the business started? Do they have a trademark and a business license? If they don’t provide this, do not do business with them. This is public information; you can find it easily with a search.
  • Are the photos of the vacation rentals really theirs? If the photo has a watermark on it that is NOT the same as their URL, these guys might be bogus. Fake sites steal photos from legitimate Web sites.
  • What is their payment system? Credit cards are the absolutely safest way to go, offering protection through disputed charges if something goes astray. If they want, cash, wire transfers, money orders or a personal check written to their first name, run the other way.
  • 24-hour service is important. Does this company/person have a local representative that is within an hour of any service call? What happens if the heat goes out in a snow storm? Often when renting direct with an owner there is no 24/7 service which is how they compete to keep the price down. Why ruin your vacation?

We found a couple of good ones that are inter-related in Mammoth Lakes.  Mammoth Lakes Reservations and Guest Services seems to is creditable. There is a small site called Mammoth Luxury Rentals that has gorgeous vacation rentals. Any online business is potentially susceptible to being a fraud when money and “products” are exchanged through a virtual format. Dealing with a fraudulent vacation rental “business” is like going to a car dealer that sells you a lemon – it looks really good at the dealer but turns into a nightmare on the road. A “buyer” should use the same smart due diligence with an online vacation rental Web site. This way they will get what they paid for and be spared a vacation disaster. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

EASTERN SIERRA EARNS LONELY PLANET’S 2013 TOP TEN US VACATIONS – Explore and Experience “California’s Secret Dream”

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Described as “California’s Secret Dream” by Lonely Planet travel author, Robert Reid, the Eastern Sierra made the cut for the 2013 top ten US travel destinations. Vacationers who have already experienced this unique, breathtaking part of California fully know that there is no other place like it on the planet, and why it won this coveted distinction. Those yet to explore the Eastern Sierra can trust the well-known Lonely Planet’s recommendation to deliver a travel destination guaranteed to delight with lifetime memories.

Reid writes in his recent December Lonely Planet article that the Highway 395 National Scenic Byway, running along the Eastern Sierra escarpment, is “the overlooked flank of the Sierra Nevada range, with other-worldly natural attractions and surprises (Basque culture?), not to mention far fewer visitors.”

The Lonely Planet, world-known travel experts, editors and publishers of hundreds of articles and guidebooks, annually review US travel destinations and then select that year’s top-ten winners for “travelers to add to their wish lists.” This year, the number six spot deservedly belongs to the quieter and wilder side of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. Just a few of the reasons why are:

−        Over 200 miles of scenic byway threading through one-of-a-kind geological wonders

−        Towering 14,000’ granite peaks

−        Unbroken wilderness vistas with azure cloud-accented skies

−        Unique flora, fauna and landscapes – a photographer’s dream

−        Natural hot springs, cascading waterfalls, pristine fishing lakes and crystal-clear streams

−        A world-renowned ski resort with year-round activities and adventures for all ages

−        Rich cultural heritage: Gold Rush ghost towns, Native American, Basque and Japanese

−        Infinite camping, hiking, and biking opportunities, as well as famous Pacific Crest Trails

−        Great restaurants, relaxed and friendly mountain towns and even friendlier locals

Fortunately, for everyone chomping at the bit to add the Eastern Sierra to their travel itinerary, there is a vast amount of quality lodging available in Mammoth Lakes and especially the Eastern Sierra, one of the more popular year-round destinations with ample day-trip options. Campgrounds, hotels, condos, cabins and even luxury vacation homes are in abundance. Although, the Eastern Sierra still has fewer visitors than some California destinations, lodging can fill up during holidays and school vacations.

Local Mammoth Lakes lodging reservation and concierge company, City Concierge, states that “spur-of-the-moment vacation reservations are often possible in the Mammoth Sierra; however, planning and booking in advance are the best ways to ensure more and better lodging choices and available dates. That way you get to truly experience the marvels of the Eastern Sierra when and how you want to.”

The Lonely Planet is right – 2013 is the year to begin a first-hand exploration of “California’s Secret Dream.” It’s a vacation destination that draws many return visits, always offering something new to experience. No matter what the varied tastes of each traveler and with more generous choices of sights to see and activities to do than is possible in a single visit, boredom will never be an issue on the “wilder side of California.”