Getting virtually naked, separated from beloved hand-held devices and herded along in airport queues is not a relaxing way to start a vacation. Is the hassle giving more people pause about flying for pleasure, and making close to home holidays a top travel trend in 2010?
This year's travel trends highlight why we're lucky "close to home" offers unlimited possibilities, especially on central Vancouver Island. It is a destination worth considering this summer.
One Tank of Gas
If planes are not in your travel plans then how about automobiles? A trip to Parksville or Qualicum Beach from the Lower Mainland or Victoria can easily be made on one tank of gas. The region is located just a half-hour north of the Nanaimo ferry terminals, making Vancouver just three hours away. Parksville is just two hours away from Victoria by car.
Spending less time and money on transportation also means more for relaxation and pleasure, and a nearby destination like central Vancouver Island has so much to offer. For nature explorers, there are 20 provincial and regional parks, and for swingers there are seven golf courses here.
One of 2010 travel trends, according to MrandMrsSmith.com's Juliet Kinsman , is a destination that is sophisticated enough for adults but also embraces children.
This is Canada's beach playground as well, with 19 km of sandy beaches to stroll, the country's mildest climate and the island's lowest annual rainfall. Better Homes and Gardens Magazine readers voted Parksville's beach "the favourite family-friendly beach in Canada." It is a magnet for sun and fun loving families with water parks and picnic tables.
The beaches on Vancouver Island's east coast have a handful of ultra luxury resorts with spas and first class restaurants for chic getaways. Sunrise Ridge Resort offers luxurious suite accommodation. Culinary enthusiasts savour west coast cuisine at Beach Club Resort's Pacific Prime Steak and Chop Restaurant. And nothing beats relaxing like a soak in the mineral pool at Tigh Na Mara's Grotto Spa, the largest in Canada.
Other family attractions in the region include mini-golf courses, mountain bike parks and zip lining. Animal lovers will want to visit the World Parrot Refuge, Big Qualicum Fish Hatchery, North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, and Tiger Lily Farm.
Both Kinsman and Robin Esrock (www.travel.sympatico.ca) are toting train travel as a trend in 2010.
Vancouver Island has its own charming and unique rail experience. The Via Rail Day Liner leaves Victoria in the morning for its trip up island and stops in both Parksville and Qualicum Beach before noon. Relax to the sway of the train as you enjoy the gorgeous vistas of the island's eastern shore, the mossy rainforest, intricate railway trestles and quaint villages.
Never a Dull Moment
According to Simon Westcott, also of MrandMrsSmith.com , "Events and festivals are taking 2010 travellers to new or known places whether for family or friend's weddings; food, film or music festivals."
Over 140 festivals and events fill the calendars of central Vancouver Island's eclectic communities. In May, Qualicum Beach parties with Fire and Ice Street Festival and blooming lovely garden events. In July, the town explodes with Art & Photography in the Garden and St Marks Fair . August is busy with the month long Parksville Beach Festival which includes the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition. Also in August, people have been enjoying the Coombs Fair since 1913.
Fork on the Road
Another trend cited by Westcott is people traveling to enjoy gourmet food. Like a marching army, travelers move on their stomachs. Foodies take their traveling to the next level by following their nose and their palette.
Vancouver Island is on top of the culinary trend of fresh local produce with a burgeoning growth in local artisan food producers, cheese makers and wine producers. Farmers markets in Qualicum Beach, Errington and Parksville are local mainstays with over 70 farmers, and the International Food section of Coombs Country Market is a year round favourite. Local restaurants serve up fresh seafood, gourmet dishes and great take out to maximize your beach time.
So relax close to home. Hold on to your hand-helds and keep your exposure limited to fun and sun this summer.
IF YOU GO:
Oceanside Tourism Association
Phone: 1-888-799-3222 or 250-248-6300
Tourism British Columbia
Phone: 1-800-HELLO BC (435-5622)