Napa County is an Amazing Place to Vacation

With 5 million tourists visiting every year, the only larger travel destination in California than Napa County is Disneyland. These amazing numbers of people come here mainly to tour the vineyards, but there are many other reasons to spend time in this area. There are an incredible amount of attractions, festivals, restaurants, museums, entertainment, and outdoor activities to enjoy that make Napa County a top US vacation spot.
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As well, Napa County has many kinds of accommodations including world class resorts, rejuvenating spas, ranches, bed and breakfasts, and time shares for those who want to make Napa County a more frequent place to stay.

Probably the most therapeutic place to visit in Napa County is the City of Calistoga, where you can find various spas that feature hot spring pools and volcanic ash mud baths.
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Calistoga Spa Hot springs, which is located just off of Main Street, is open to the public and provides four naturally heated mineral pools, along with volcanic ash mud baths, mineral and steam baths, blanket wraps, and massage. Visitors have been coming to Calistoga for spa treatments since the early nineteen hundreds, and many swear that the therapeutic combination of volcanic ash, Canadian peat, and mineral spring submersion is an incredible healing experience.
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On a grander scale, Napa county also offers several world class resorts. Settled on a private estate, Meadowood is the center of social and veterinary life for both frequent visitors and residents alike. The luxury of this 250 acre resort is unparallel in the valley and features championship croquet lawns, seven tennis courts, a nine-hole walking golf course, hiking trails, swimming, a full-service health spa, a wine educator, and many more amenities along with wonderful wine county cuisine.
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The Silverado Resort, set among the rolling hills of Napa County, offers everything that you would expect from a first class resort including championship golf, spa, fine dining, and a conference center. While both resorts are private and secluded, they are only minutes away from all major attractions and many of the wineries.
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Since Napa is also famous for its agriculture, those who want to enjoy it close up will love the Mountain Home Ranch Resort. This is a bed and breakfast group retreat that offers a different kind of adventure. There are not any phones or televisions here at the ranch. What you will find is 300 acres of hiking trails, two swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, croquet, lake fishing, barbeque pit, and the peace and quiet of the Napa Valley.
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For visitors who prefer a more intimate setting when they vacation, Napa County has many high-end bed and breakfasts. The Bel Abri, a fifteen room French Country Inn located in the City of Napa, is designed to make you feel like you are staying in a real chateau. French tapestries, hand crafted furniture, slate floors, and sturdy wrought iron accents create an ambience that is both warm and luxurious.
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As you can imagine, Napa County has many accommodations for every type of traveler that are as diverse as the valley itself. Just remember to book ahead when you are traveling to the Napa Valley, because space is definitely at a premium.

Vacation in India

Vacation in India will surly add some life time memories in your memorabilia. The country never disappoints the vacationers, as it has something for every visitor. Visitors can enjoy several theme vacations in India as per their choice and taste.
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Types of Vacation in India

India is a paradise for the adventure lurks. The typical topography of the country offers an ample of opportunity for the visitors to indulge in some thrilling adventure activities. Lofty mountains of Himalayan regions like Ladakh, himachal Pradesh, Garwal, Nilgiris are best place to enjoy trekking.
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Enjoy skiing, snow boarding, ice skating in Kufri, Auli and Gulmarg. Indulge in aero sports in Rajasthan, Nilgiris, Maharashtra, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh during your vacation in India. Fasten your heartbeats by enjoying mountaineering in Sikkim, Ladakh, Manali and Garwal. Spotting exotic fauna species in wildlife sanctuaries of India is truly enchanting.
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Desert Safari
Thrill yourself during your vacation in India by enjoying camel safari. Exploring the golden deserts of Rajasthan and visiting the magnificent havelis, forts and palaces is truly exciting and pleasurable. Sitting on the back of the Ship of the desert is an exclusive experience that beckons every visitor.
In night, experience a comfortable stay at desert camps, while relishing at delicious Rajasthani cuisines and enjoying folk dance and music.

Tribal Tours
Interacting with Indian tribals is a wonderful experience you ever had in your lifetime. They live in dense forests of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkand and some parts of the North east India. Untouched by modernization, the tribals in India have their own customs and traditions. Their costumes are very attractive and colorful.
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Discover the diverse tribes in India, know their living style, food habits and occupation.

Wildlife Vacations
Plan for a wildlife vacations in India to encounter exotic fauna and avifauna species. Wildlife sancturaies in India provide shelter innumerable wildlife species like elephant, leopard, tigers, lion, gaur, hyena, jungle cat and many more.
Spend vacations by visiting popular wildlife sanctuaries like Kanha National, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kaziranga National Park, Ranthambore National Park, Sundarbans, Jim Corbett National Park, Bandipur National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Panna National Park and many more.

Apart from that also taste the delicious variety of Indian cuisines. Relish at exotic flavors of Indian cuisines which boasts of six different tastes – bitter, spicy, salty, sweet, astringent and sour. Traditional cuisines of every state has its own distinct flavor and the way of cooking.

Step One to Your Perfect Golf Vacation

It’s just like the hamburger commercial; Have it your own way! Your annual golf outing deserves to be the best possible vacation. Make it your own way. Forget “the package” and design your own special, personalized group get away.

In my last article, I gave an overview of how you can put together a terrific group golf vacation.
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In this article, I will go into much more detail concerning the organization and preparation. I have been setting up the ideal gathering for our group for 18 years. There are refinements every year and we think we have arrived at the optimum outing.

You will be driving this bus, so get the ball rolling. Do a little research and pick a location. This location should have plenty of vacation rental homes and a good selection of golf courses.
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You do not want to play the same course every day. You should be able to do most or all of your research online to find out about rental house and golf course specifics, including costs.

Get the word out to the troops. I like to send out a humorous email to introduce the event and then follow up with more emails and phone calls. I recommend you send out an email to everyone you think might be remotely interested about five months in advance.
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Some will not be able to make it due to family, work, interest, etc. You should hope to wind up with a group size around eight. Anywhere from six to twelve is great. Five people is the worst group size due to tee times. More than twelve is too hard to organize or find lodging in the same house.

Pick out a window of time.
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We usually grab the last week in February to get the northern gents out of the snow and still stay in the low rate season for the southern golf courses. As an example of an introductory email, you could send something like this:

“It has come to my attention via the minions who surround me and perform my every whim that there may be those among you desiring driving sleet, incomprehensible wind chill, unplayable lies, unreachable par 3’s, impossible odds, foot-wedging opponents, gross bending of the USGA rules, hairy greens, thick frost, lightening fast down-hillers, moguls, knee deep rough, more sand and water than water front property, Velcro removal during back swings, exploding coughs during precision chips, un-winnable stroke spreads complete with unyielding stroke givers and takers, 179-degree dog legs, and brutal rangers in leather and chains.

If this is the type of outing you’ve been dreaming about, keep dreaming. I can’t make it happen. But picture this:

-A luxurious house with a separate bed for everyone.

-18 to 36 holes of golf per day on pristine courses.

-A gourmet meal every night.

-All the comforts, food and drink of home.

-Evening entertainment.
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-Sensational camaraderie.

I am looking at an arrival date of (date) and departure date of (date). We will be gathering in (city, state). For a group of eight of us, and assuming we average 27 holes per day, your cost should be around $XXX for the housing, food, drink, golf and rental cars.

(Note: Our cost per man for food and drink for seven days was $160 in 2005.) Please reply before (date) by answering:

What is the percentage chance you can come for these dates? What is the percentage chance you could make other dates? What dates would you prefer? Other recommendations:”

You have now set the stage. For those you don’t hear back from, get on the phone and hash it out. Through all of your responses, you will come up with the consensus of length of vacation and dates through give and take.

Over the next four months you will be:

-Getting firm commitments from your group members

-Arriving at a firmer consensus on golf venue

-Receiving food and drink orders to allow you to make the shopping list

-Reserving the vacation house and rental cars

-Getting tee times

I like to periodically whet everyone’s appetite and keep the excitement level up. Setting up a website especially for your group is a great way to do this. It is just a little thing I whipped up using MS Publisher.

An easier way for you to do this would be to get a free Blog set up for this purpose. I recommend blogger dot com.

Over the years, we have realized two key things about lodging. The first is that it makes a huge difference in camaraderie when the whole group stays under the same roof. The second is the value in everyone having a separate bed (you know how guys are). The only way to achieve this is to pick a location where there are a bunch of rental homes in order for you to pick one that allows this. (Plug for Isle of Palms, SC: you can find what you need there.)

It may not seem to you like time is of the essence, but work schedules, vacation allotments, spousal plans, ticket costs, and your preparation needs demand that you DO get this ball rolling. Once you have sent your introductory email and done your phone calling, several of your planned guests will have trouble pulling the trigger. Work with them as you can, but I have found that you will need your firm group established two months ahead of time (give or take one guy or so.) A fine point for you: Ask for a nominal deposit from each of the troops.

Over time, I know that the cost of our vacation, outside of airfare, will be around $900. In one of my follow up emails, I simply ask the players to send around half of that to me. It emphasizes commitment.

In selecting the location of your rental home, consider the driving time to the golf courses you will be playing. We have found that twenty minutes travel time is great, thirty minutes is OK, but forty minutes is too long. The longer drives are certainly bearable, but if you are planning a winter vacation, you will have to have a fairly early tee time in the morning to allow lunch and another 18 in the afternoon. After telling tales late into the evening, beating the sun to the course, heading home and preparing the feast, it gets to be a long day.

This takes us to the minus-two-months time frame.

In Part Three of this series, we will get into getting great golf rates, shopping lists, and easy administration.

Best Fire Pits For Vacation Rentals

Campfire TV; that’s what some people call campfires. Whether you are just watching the flames dance by yourself, enjoying roasting marshmallows over it or gathered around it with friends, campfires are always fun. The use of fire pits allows you to enjoy a campfire in almost any outdoor setting, especially when going on vacation. Here you will find tips to keep in mind when choosing the best fire pits for vacation rentals.
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Anytime you are burning a fire, the top priority is safety. This is true when you are at your home, and it’s true when you are renting a vacation home or condo. Many vacation rentals will have specific rules and policies regarding fire pits, all with the top concern of preventing the fire from spreading.
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Fire pits are designed to keep a fire contained, and yet enjoyable. When you are planning on enjoying a fire on your vacation, be sure to choose one that is fully portable. No two pits are equal, with some being substantially heavier than others.
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For the purposes of traveling, you will want yours to be a lighter weight, making it easier to move around. You may also want to choose one that offers some kind of lip around the burning area for additional safety. This lip can serve as a spot for your children to organize s’mores ingredients, as well as providing an additional buffer between the fire and any surrounding materials and people.
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You should also be sure to select one that has a wire covering over the fire itself. This mesh covering will prevent larger pieces of ash from drifting up the smoke and causing any damage. When you are burning your fire, whether it is at home or on vacation, be sure to have a container of water nearby just in case the fire gets out of hand.
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There are definite advantages to having the ability to burn a fire when you are on vacation. They are entertaining, and relaxing. There are many recipes for meals that can be cooked over campfires. The fire can light up the unfamiliar deck or yard, allowing everyone to enjoy the outdoors later into the evening.
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Wherever you are planning on going for your next vacation, consider how nice it would be to have an outdoor fire in the evenings. With this tips, you should be able to choose the best fire pit for your vacation rental.

Packing for a Ski Vacation

When going on a ski vacation, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to pack, but a bigger problem is that even if you know what to pack, it can be a tough problem figuring out to get everything from your home to your destination. Skis don’t fit into suitcases, and the limited about of baggage that you’re allowed, can be a huge problem if you’re flying to the ski resort.

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The simplest method to save on baggage space and weight is simply to take less. If there’s a rental shop at your destination, and the rental fees for skis, boots and poles are reasonable, then, then why not rent? Provided of course that you don’t mind skiing with rented equipment,

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Another option is to find out if there are any ski shops in the resort area, and whether they will buy used equipment. What you can then do is buy new equipment, use it, and then sell it when you’re finished with it. Before you embark on this strategy, you’ll want to get an estimate for how much you can sell the used equipment for, and by deducting this from the price of new equipment, you’ll know how much this option will cost.

Another thing to consider is that the clothing that you’ll wear on a ski vacation can be very bulky and tough to squeeze into a suitcase. Ski jackets, ski suits, Winter sweaters, etc., all take up a lot of space. There can be a way round this problem however: telephone the lodge or resort, and ask them whether they will hold a package that is going to be shipped to you, and hold it until you arrive. Most lodges and resorts will agree to this, and assuming they do, all you need to do is box up all your bulky ski clothes and ship them: you’ll probably find that this costs less than paying the airline to handle excess baggage.

Why Discount Hotels May Be the Ticket to Your Dream Vacation

Everyone enjoys vacations. Vacations are an excuse to get away from work, school, and daily life. However, some people do not enjoy their vacations as much as others. One reason behind this is often the cost of the vacation itself. How can one enjoy a vacation when he or she is constantly worrying about paying for it? One can mitigate this problem by booking rooms at discount hotels. Hotel costs are a very large part of most vacations, and can sometimes be the single most expensive element of the vacation.

How does one find discount hotels? The process is not very complicated at all. Simply searching for hotels online is one way to find the best deals. If hotels are offering discounts, they will want everyone to know. It is important to also book hotels in advance. Sometimes, hotels can have higher prices when a specific vacation spot is having a very successful year. However, if you book your hotel in advance, this will not be a problem for you. You can also occasionally bargain with the hotel manager for accommodation prices. Communicating your desires and being firm can take you a long way when searching for a hotel. Always remember that in the end, the hotel wants your business, so you have the upper hand.

Going for a discount hotel is also a good idea for those who are not vacationing on a limited budget. Everyone loves to save money, and staying in a discount hotel does not necessarily mean that the hotel has to be crummy. Also, consider the fact that if you are vacationing, you will hopefully not be spending all of your time in the hotel. I know many people get the bare minimum in a hotel for sleeping because they want to spend their money doing things at their vacation spot. This philosophy is often very helpful for people wanting to enjoy their vacation as much as they can. We all know the story of a family getting a very expensive hotel room, and then one of the family members just staying inside all day. That is not the purpose of a vacation.

Another way to get discount hotels is through companies like AAA. AAA cards can sometimes give members savings of up to 10% on hotel costs. People who use credit cards that have point systems can also use reward points to apply towards a hotel stay. Some hotels that are offering discounts may even accept credit card points and AAA discounts. This means that you could be paying a significant discounted price for a hotel, which would free up large amounts of money to spend on enjoying the vacation itself.

Vacations are great for the whole family, or just a couple who wants to get away. However, sometimes hotel costs can put a damper on the fun. This can be avoided by looking for the hotels that are most discounted, using reward points from credit cards and discounts from AAA, and being smart. After all, you are not going on vacation to stay in the best hotel possible, you are vacationing to see the sites and do fun, unique things that you have not done before. Saving money on hotels is the sure way to accomplish this goal.

How to Take a Non-Eco-Vacation in Punta Cana

With all tourism talk congregating around green travel and eco-vacations, visiting foreign lands has traditionally evolved from novelty to a means of experiencing culture. Where 20 years ago, a trip to Europe was one taken by the strictly curious, business professionals, or those in their gap years, today's flights overseas is a way to scope out new living arrangements.

For those of us comfortable living in the country we've always considered home, but still curious about what lies beyond the border, Punta Cana is a city known for its obvious geographic differences, but also for its tropical flair. What Punta Cana is not known for is an intimate level of culture experienced in other exotic, les populated, locales. What its tourists will discover, instead, is a tranquil environment that focuses on the leisure of vacationers.

But finding a balance between the quintessential exotic vacation and unique culture is why the Dominican Republic is a premier destination for those just breaking into the international travel scene. Many of the luxury Punta Cana all inclusive resorts are located on virgin swaths of pale sand, seemingly uninhabited, secluded. It is this relaxing feeling of isolation that lends Punta Cana its iconic desert-island theme and keeps a wide stream of tourism coursing through.

What guests of the city take not of, in particular, is the European aura the city emits and, similar to many other somewhat popular Caribbean locations, Punta Cana is slowly becoming Americanized. What this means for those not searching for a long and adventurous vacations, one staged in extreme sports and treks through jungle underbrush, is travel in its original and intended form; one of strict relaxation.

Tips To Save Money On Cruise Vacations

Taking a cruise vacation can be a wonderful relaxing and rejuvenating experience. It proves beyond doubt that it is not only about the destination but also the journey itself. There are so many activities and entertainment options that you can enjoy and be waited on hand and foot. But these vacations can be a little heavy on the pocket. But you can get a number of discounts and make use of that offers that will put them in an affordable bracket for you.

In the case of most travel options it is always advisable to book your tickets in advance so that you can take advantage of the slashed prices but this is not necessary for cruises. In this case you should try to book your passes very close to the departure dates. The reason for this is quite simple – the ship does not want to set sail with empty rooms and cabins. So, a few days before the departure dates the prices are heavily reduced to encourage travelers to book with them.

The rates of the rooms are usually based on their size and their view. The upper level and larger rooms are very expensive but the inside cabins on the lower levels are quite cheap. Booking these rooms can save you a lot of money. Another foolproof method to get cheaper rates is to book during off-season periods. Also, you can get a lot of discounts and offers from the official websites or from travel agents. There are also discount travel websites that are specifically for this use!

The Perfect Getaway: Maui Vacations

Experience the perfect island getaway in Maui, Hawaii

Visiting a tropical island paradise is not as far-fetched as it may sound. Hawaii has been one of the top vacation destinations in the United States for decades. The island state is made up of more than one island, and Maui is a great hotspot for vacation goers. Whether you are the adventurous type who loves excitement or you simply wish to relax and recharge, Maui vacations are perfect for you.

One very popular experience that visitors shouldn’t miss is a luau. Luaus are outdoor celebrations complete with traditional dances, food, and music. Dancers typically perform in grass skirts, bikini tops (for the women), and flower necklaces known as leis. The feast typically features a Kalua pig that has been roasted for several hours in an imu (earth oven). Another traditional Hawaiian dish is called poi and is made from taro root. Salmon, poke, tropical fruits, and other native Hawaiian dishes can all be found at luau celebrations. Guests usually eat with their hands while sitting on the floor or ground.

Luaus can be found all over Maui. Most hotel resorts host luau feasts throughout the week. There are also other locations that may seem more traditional for guests looking for a real Hawaiian experience. Most luaus also serve alcoholic beverages, and some even have kid’s menus. Fire dancers are also a common sight at festive luau parties.

Maui vacations are well known for pristine beaches and wonderful water sports. Visitors can bask in the sun all day while enjoying a mai tai, or they can jump into the crystal blue waters for fun and excitement. Guests can experience the magnificent marine wildlife with snorkeling adventures in multiple locations.

Molokini crater is famous for its resident sea turtles. This volcanic crater is shaped like a crescent moon and is great for beginners to underwater activities. Another wonderful snorkeling location is Lanai, which is known for its friendly dolphin population. Lanai hosts a beautiful coral reef that attracts a multitude of marine wildlife for snorkelers to view.

For vacationers who wish to dive deeper, Lahaina Harbor just off the coast of Maui offers an amazing underwater submarine adventure. This trip into the deep blue sea dives down to approximately 100 feet. Guests have the opportunity to see underwater sites that not many others have viewed.

Maui vacations also offers great excursions for visitors who wish to stay above the water. Guests can enjoy delicious dinners on nighttime cruises or even go parasailing during the day. Lahaina Harbor has so many activities, everyone can find what they are looking for.

Haleakala National Park is another wonderful location to explore. Visitors can enjoy a pleasant bike ride to see the volcano at sunrise. It’s a magnificent sight to see. Haleakala is the world’s largest dormant volcano, standing at a whopping 10,023 feet high. The park is home to a vast array of plants and wildlife that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Hiking tours will take guests to visit Haleakala’s rainforest and waterfalls. The guided tour takes visitors 2.5 miles to the trailhead. Guests may take the time to go for a swim in the famous pools before heading back. For those who prefer to see the rainforest and volcano from above, helicopter tours of Haleakala are also available.

Hana Town, or Heavenly Town, also has much to offer. Visitors can enjoy a 68-mile tour of the “Magic Isle” region of Maui. The coastal roads give the most spectacular views of the beaches. Guests can also visit the Seven Sacred Pools in the town of Paia. This small, quiet town is home to the Ho’okipa Beach and was once a sugar plantation. Nowadays, tourists flock to Paia for some of the world’s best windsurfing.

The Kaumahina State Park is also near Paia and hosts beautiful eucalyptus groves, roadside fruit stands, and bamboo jungles to explore. Visitors can take a look at Keane Valley by stopping at Keanae Lookout. This location is famous for its phenomenal views of the valley.

Take an Adventure Vacation to the Amazon

One of the most exciting travel destinations is a visit to the Amazon jungle of South America. It doesn’t matter which end you choose, it will be an experience of a lifetime. You can find many different packages available for fun and adventure, and here are just a couple of different ways you can visit this exotic and remarkable place.

Starting on the Eastern side, the 8 day 7 night Rio de Janeiro and Amazon Jungle tour offers tourists a once in a lifetime adventure. They offer this package for $1925, per person, double occupancy, and here is all the highlights that are included with this deal. First of all, you get to stay in three exciting hotels, including the Amazon Eco Park, a Treehouse resort at the top of the Amazon Rainforest. You get to stay here for three full nights and while there you get to experience piranha fishing, jungle walks, a visit to a real Amazon village, including the Caboclo family. You will get to experience an Amazon sunrise, even visit the Christ the Redeemer statue, Corcovado, just to name a few.

On the Western end of this exciting jungle, you can combine an Amazon Riverboat Cruise, with a trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu in one package. Lodging on the river boat, as well as in Cuzco is included. You ca also pick from 4-7 day packages, and either pick from one of the cruise companies many different itinerary plans, or even customize your own. These packages start at around $1,500 depending on the length of your tour.

Find The Very Best Vacation Deals

Getting good vacation deals is way easier than you ever thought possible. For those lucky enough to be able to afford a holiday, the market is heavily skewed in favor of travelers thanks to the recession and current economic woes across the world. Those willing to take a gamble and wait with their holiday dealers until as near as possible to their desired departure date can capitalize even more on last minute vacation deals which see them jetting off for fun in the sun at an incredible price.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to getting affordable, fantastic holidays: get in early to take advantage of early bird offers, or leave it to the last minute to snap up unwanted seats and hotel beds. Getting the very best deals can be done either way way with similarly effective results.

Travel companies know that they will sell at least a certain amount of seats on planes and will fill a certain number of rooms in hotels. Barring natural disasters, they can be sure of that fact. There is a specific base limit below which they're almost certainly never to fall.

However they need to make sure that the ball gets rolling early and well when it comes to selling vacation packages, and so they price competitively when first opening up deals, allowing those customers who can commit a deposit early to snap up a super cheap vacation to some of the most exotic destinations. Traditionally, that has been the main source of good value holiday deals for tourists.

Recently, though, the tables have turned. With the catastrophic failure of the economy in 2009 came a severe loss of confidence in money as a whole and a reticence to spend cash on frippersies like vacations. Seats that tour operators once thought were dead certificates to sell out suddenly found themselves unpopular and with many spaces to fill.

Last minute bargains entered the travel industry, and have reshaped it beyond all belief. Today, it is often better to try and hold on until the very final moments before committing to the holiday you want to have to ensure the best bargain.

As travel companies panic that they will be left with empty rooms, they try their best to claw back any form of profit, no matter how small, drastically discounting their offers to a tiny percentage of their actual market worth, leaving travelers with the opportunity to get a cut price, bona fide bargain on their getaways.

Vacation deals have become obscene as these companies try to fill spaces on tours, including trips to far away places. Cuba vacations, for example, have seen some of the most drastic price cuts as travel agents panic at the concept of having hotels empty in the busy summer periods. Five star holidays can be had for two or three star prices by the savvy traveller willing to bide their time. It is most definitely a buyers market out there, so get thinking where you want to go next.

Should You Purchase A Vacation Home?

Summer has arrived, and for many families, that means getting away for a few weeks. While enjoying beautiful surroundings, warm sun or cultural enrichment, it's easy to imagine how nice it would be to own a home that would let you do so whenever you wanted.

But do not let your imagination run away with you. Before you snap up a beach house or a mountain cabin, give the same thought to the purchase as you would to buying your primary home.

The first question is whether you can afford a vacation home. Have you covered educational expenses for your children? Is your retirement secure? Is your emergency fund solid? Do not rob yourself of essentials to cover a second home, no matter how great its potential as an asset. Even if you buy the property outright, you may not be able to access the equity for some time.

A second home lasts more expensive than you might imagine. Beyond the purchase price, you will need to consider maintenance, security or a caretaker, utilities, property taxes, furnishings, travel costs and other items. You may also need to pay association or assessment fees. And if you intend to rent your property, you will most likely need to pay for advertising, and possibly for a property manager.

Further, insurance can be a major expense. Property insurance for a second home often costs more than for a primary residence, and may be more difficult to obtain. The more the house will be vacant, the higher you can generally expect premiums to be. Insurers may also want you to pay more if you plan to rent the property. In areas where floods or hurricanes are possible, flood insurance generally must be added separately.

When considering how you will finance the home, remember that second mortgages are usually more expensive than primary mortgages, as banks tend to believe that they are assuming more risk. Lenders may look at an applicant's income, rather than general assets, which can make approval harder for retirees or those approaching retirement. Some buyers consider taking home equity loans on their primary residences to fund second homes, but this puts your primary home at risk.

When deciding whether a vacation home is a practical purchase, estimate all these expenses to get an idea of ​​the carrying costs for the property. If you plan to maintain the property primarily for your personal use, divide the costs by the number of days you plan to visit, so you can see whether renting a home or stay in financially.

Some people do consider a vacation home a moneymaking vehicle, or choose to use it for both personal pleasure and to generate income. However, counting on rental income to net a profit after expenses may not always be realistic. In a high-demand locale, such as a ski resort or a desirable beach, your chances are slightly better, especially if your property is within a three-hour drive or so of a major metropolitan center. But the fact remains that, while 25 percent of vacation homeowners say they intend to rent their second homes, only 15 percent do so. Those who do so profitably form an even smaller group.

Perhaps the most important financial consideration is the tax implications of a second home. The primary factor affecting your personal tax situation for a vacation home is the property's anticipated use. Will your second home be used only by you, your friends and your family? Is it practical to rent it to others seeking a vacation site? Specific tax rules for renting out your vacation home may help guide this decision.

You must first determine whether your vacation home is considered a residence or a rental property. The Internal Revenue Service tenants your second home a residence if you personally use it for either 14 days a year or more than 10 percent of the number of days the home is rented out, which is more. Your use, a relative's use or use by an unofficial party leasing at less than fair price all count as "personal use" in determining the nature of the property.

If your vacation home is considered a residence, certain deductible rental expenses may be limited. Renting a property that the IRS considers a residence does not qualify as a "passive activity" for the purpose of income taxes. This matters because a loss incurred from one passive activity can be used to offset the income gained by another. Since renting a second residence is not a passive activity, you can not use any rental expenses in excess of your rental income to offset income from other sources.

If the IRS considers your vacation home a residence and you rent the home out at least 15 days in a given year, you must characterize the division between rental use and private use. You must report all rental income in your gross income in addition to accurately dividing your expenses between personal use and rental use. Certain expenses, such as mortgage interest and property taxes, are usually fully deductible no matter how they are designated, but are reported in different ways – to offset rental income if they are rental expenses or as itemized deductions if they are personal.

Other expenses, including maintenance fees, insurance, depreciation and other costs involved with renting out your vacation home are only used to offset rental income when they can be classified as rental expenses. (A complete list of deductible expenses can be found in IRS Publication 527, "Residential Rental Property.") The allocation to rental use determines the amount of your expenses used to offset rental income. If you rent the home for half of the year, then half of your expenses may be deducted against your rental income. Given the complications of this division, it is probably wise to involve a tax professional if you intend to use your property for both personal and substantive rental activity.

If you do not want the burdens of allocating expenses and continuously seeking renters, consider taking advantage of the preferential tax treatment the IRS offers for short-term rentals. The IRS permits you to rent your vacation home for fewer than 15 days annually without reporting any rental income in your total income, so tax-free. Understandably, you may not deduct any expenses related to renting the home, as there is no reported rental income to offset. In this scenario, you would itemize all of your mortgage interest and property tax deductions on Schedule A.

If your second home will be primarily for personal use, be aware of jurisdiction rules in the states where both of your homes are located if they are not the same. Reestablishing your residency can be useful, but is sometimes challenging. New York, for example, is notorious for finding ways to keep its former residents on the tax rolls. A former New Yorker may want to take advantage of Florida's preferential tax climate, but it is not simply a matter of deciding it's a good idea.

While a timeshare may seem like a better idea on paper than buying a vacation home, the reality makes it unappealing for most people. In a timeshare, you pay a lump sum up front and maintenance fees thereafter. Atraditional timeshare then guarantees you the use of a specific unit at the same time every year (typically for a week, though it varies). Some newer timeshares operate on a points system, which gives users more flexibility in when and where they vacation, but also leads to competition for the best units at the most desirable times.

Although a timeshare is cheaper at the outside than buying a vacation home, it does not offer the same equity or appreciation potential. In effect, you are simply paying for years of vacations in advance, not investing. Additionally, maintenance fees can increase, and most timeshares do not have a built-in expiration date. Because timeshare property is notoriously hard to sell, this can leave you (and potentially your heirs) indefinitely paying fees on a property you no longer wish to use. You would probably do better to earmark a portion of your portfolio for an annual vacation rather than to purchase a timeshare. This would allow your assets to appreciate, and would avoid the risk of locking yourself into an agreement with no simple exit.

If you decide to purchase a vacation home, several considerations remain. Location is critical. Choose a region where you will want to be often – once a year or more – and possibly to the exclusion of other travel, depending on your time and resources. Rural areas can sometimes increase expenses; for example, insurance may be more cost if you are far from the nearest fire station. In addition, many desirable vacation properties are at increased risk for floods or earthquakes, further driving potential insurance costs up. If your desired property is abroad, review that country's ownership laws and its history of honoring ownership claims from noncitizens.

Finally, think ahead to the possibility of selling your vacation home one day. As soon as your use of the property Declines, it is probably better to sell it to eliminate the carrying costs and free the capital for other purposes. You may use the house less than you expected, or you may have used it a great deal when your children were younger but less now that they have become adults. Regardless, getting the process under way as soon as you know you want to sell is important. The housing market is still reliably weak, so it may take longer to sell the property than you expect.

If you rent your vacation home enough for it to be characterized as a rental property, you will want to recover the cost of the home through depreciation. Recovery of the cost for residential rental property under the General Depreciation System (GDS) spans 27.5 years. This capitalized expense can be used to offset rental income, thus lowering your tax bill. Deducting depreciation may cause a net loss on your rental property; however, since your second home qualifies as rental property and not as a residence, you can reduce other income from passive activities with the loss. Remember, if you visit the home on vacation, you may only deduct depreciation allocated to rental days.

When the time comes to sell your vacation home, note that the IRS will treat the sale differently from that of your primary home. Your vacation home does not benefit from the $ 250,000 capital gains exclusion ($ 500,000 if married filing jointly) that your primary residence does. If you have owned the property at least 12 months, any profit from the sale will be taxed at the long-term capital gains rate.

In addition, if you claimed depreciation on the home due to rental use, you will need to refine your cost basis to determine the gain. Even if you did not claim the depreciation deduction, you must still reduce the cost basis of the home by the amount of depreciation you could have taken. The portion of gain on the sale due to depreciation lower your basis is considered depreciation recapture and will be taxed at 25 percent.

A lose-lose scenario comes when selling a vacation home; you do not receive any of the capital gains exclusion mentioned above, nor do you receive any tax benefit if you realize a loss on the sale. For this reason, consider converting your vacation home to a primary residence before selling. If you make your second home your primary residence for two of the five years prior to selling, you will qualify for the maximum capital gains exclusion.

If you want to keep the vacation home in the family rather than selling, it can cause some estate-planning complications. No matter how well your children get along, co-owning a property can lead to disparities and hurt feelings, as can giving one child the home and another child an asset with less sentimental value. Even if your children share without issue, they may leave it to their children, resulting in a property split between eight or 12 cousins ​​who may or may not know or like one another very well. Those who wish to keep the property may not be able to buy out those who wish to sell. All in all, it can create drama you may not foresee.

In the case where selling the home is too painful or impractical during your lifetime, you can direct your estate to sell it and divide the proceeds along your heirs. Alternately, you can set up a trust for the property's operating expenses, then grant your heirs use of it under certain circumstances. Whatever you do, make your desires explicit, both in your will and by discussing them with your children or heirs. Ideally, involve a financial planner or an estate-planning attorney. Put everything in writing.

A vacation home can be a wonderful luxury, providing a place to get away from your day-to-day life and to build treasured memories with friends and family. As long as you think of it as a purchase rather than as an investment, you can make an informed decision about what's right for you. Then, if you do buy a vacation home, you can approach it with realistic expectations and a good chance of enjoying it for years to come.