Travel expert, Pauline Frommer of Frommers.com stopped by recently to share tips on planning the perfect smartcation, that's right SMARTcation. Staycations which gained popularity over the last few years are now a thing of the past; families are looking to start traveling again and what better time than summer? If you've ever thought about taking a trip to British Columbia, Pauline has all the ins and outs to make sure your summer vacation is the greatest adventure on record!
Candace Rose: What is a smartcation? And why is it gaining popularity among travelers?
Pauline Frommer: "Well, the key word the last couple of years was not smartcation, it was actually staycation. Everybody was getting their laundry done for a week and cleaning their houses and pretending it was a vacation because of the recession, but now there's this pent up desire to travel. We took a survey of over 2,000 North Americans, we found several things – we found that people want to take vacations though they're still nervous about money, so they're taking shorter ones. They're taking four days or less vacations. They want places of great natural beauty, they want good value for the dollar and most importantly they want places that have great variety. So, even though they're only taking a four day vacation, it feels like they've been gone a week because they've had so many adventures and we're calling those four things together the smartcation."
CR: Can you tell us about your recent trip to British Columbia and why you believe it'll emerge as one of the top travel destinations?
PF: "Well, I think it's the ideal smartcation, it's right across the border in Canada and it has such variety. You go there and you can have a very sophisticated urban experience in either Victoria or Vancouver and it really feels like you've gone to a different country when you go to British Columbia, particularly in Vancouver. This has to do oddly enough with their immigration policy, because they have a more liberal immigration policy in Canada than we do here in the U.S. You go to Vancouver and 35% of the residents are Chinese and up to 60% are Asian, so the restaurants are different and the shops are different, it's kind of like a little slice of Asia, here in the U.S.
So that's the urban experience and then just outside of the city, (well really inside of the city itself) because they have an extraordinary park called Stanley Park, which is bigger than Central Park, (but outside of the city as well) you have untouched wilderness. British Columbia is a state the size roughly of New Mexico and Texas put together, yet you look at New Mexico and Texas and they're much more crowded because there are 27 million people in those states where there's just 4.5 million in British Columbia. You gaze over landscapes that look the same as they probably did 100 or 200 years ago and you have such incredible adventures – you can go kayaking, you can canoe, you can fish. I went on the second largest Zipline in North America; I could've gone wine tasting, I did a bear safari where I watched bears who had just woken up from their hibernation. It really is an extraordinarily diverse place to visit."
CR: Can people on a budget travel to British Columbia and be able to partake in these types of adventures?
PF: "Oh absolutely. I would say that the prices are pretty much equal to what you'd find here in the U.S. – no more expensive and there are some deals. If you go to say Whistler.com there are some very good packages that bundle together activities with hotel stays and there's also an amazing deal that will get you a free vacation at SmartVacation.com, which is a site which is giving away $20,000 vacation in British Columbia, so can't do better than that!"
CR: Do you have any additional information or tips you'd like to share?
PF: "I guess the most important thing is if when you're looking at a smartcation is take into account your transportation time and cost when you're only traveling for 4 days – you want to get there quickly. You can obviously do that to Canada and to many parts of the U.S."
CR: Where can we go for more information?