Beach Baby!

When the lazy days of summer turn into the hectic days of autumn, taking a winter vacation may be the last thing on your mind. However, once the snow flies and your mind turns to sand, sun and fun, it may be too late to book that winter beach holiday you desire. Before you start scouring the Internet looking for the best deals, take a moment to figure out what you and your family are looking for in a vacation.

Do you want to be right on the beach? Are you looking to relax or is an adventure getaway more your style? Do you love a good buffet? Or are you looking for a more upscale dining experience? Or do you prefer to cook your own food while away? Is a kid’s club a priority for your family? Is a small intimate resort your idea of bliss or do you prefer the hustle and bustle of a giant mega resort?

Luckily, there is easy access from Calgary to a wide variety of beach destinations with some of the most popular being Mexico, Hawaii and other parts of the United States, Cuba, Jamaica and Dominican Republic. Some carriers only fly to tropical destinations on certain days, so make sure to make flight arrangements in conjunction with your hotel reservations or risk a “you can’t get there from here today” situation.

All-inclusive resorts – Family resorts are plentiful and perfect for the sun-loving, looking to relax, with a bit of adventure thrown in, family. Make sure to check reviews of the resort you are considering before you book and realize that star ratings in the tropics are not the same as at home. A 3-star resort may leave you with a less than desired experience - even if that is the type of hotel you are used to at home. Flexibility is key to getting a great deal on an all-inclusive holiday. Crosscheck offers across Internet sites such as www.itravel2000.com, www.expedia.ca and www.orbitz.com with vacations offered by airlines and travel agents. Depending on criteria and travel dates, any one of the options could be less expensive. A bit of extra leg work and flexibility can save hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars. If travel on specific dates is a must, a certain resort is required or you are traveling with a large family, make sure to book as early as possible since options may be limited.

Condo and house rentals – Perfect for larger families and those who want or need to cook for themselves, condo and house rentals are especially popular at destinations in Hawaii and other parts of the United States. While a condo or house rental vacation can be very enjoyable, a frank family discussion about how the vacation will work including food preparation, cleanup and activities will ensure everyone gets to enjoy the holiday. Not all rentals are created equal, so have a clear idea of the location of the condo or house including its proximity to the beach and grocery shopping, whether you have access to a pool, what amenities are included and cleaning fees. www.VRBO.com is full of vacation rentals that you can rent directly from the owner complete with reviews.

Once you have your vacation booked, don’t forget to purchase items you will need on vacation before they become impossible to find. Pick up swimsuits, sunscreen and beach toys at after-summer clearance sales. Then relax and look forward to your wonderful winter beach vacation.

Merry chronicles her favorite Calgary finds, travel adventures and family-friendly recipes on her blog, www.merrywithchildren.com.

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