Active & Adventure

Photos :: Best of 2015

best of 2105 trip styler

[trip style = all]

"Hah-llo from the other side" {2016 being other side} - Adele

Every new year I take an inventory of the prior year's travel triumphs. What inspired me. The places that gave me butterflies. Hotels I'd visit again {and again}.

Thinking back to 2015, I traveled a lot with the fam-jamsans sacrificing stylevisiting nearby locales and far-flung islands. Because I'm quite choosy with my travel, I'd do many of these trips again. Here are the best.     

January 2015 // Tofino + Ucluelet
When I made the 5-hour ferry + car trip from Vancouver to Tofino {a.k.a. Canada's wildest version of its West Coast}, I was reminded what a 24/7 immersion in nature does for the soul. Hint: It soothes it. Couple this with a year-round surf scene and some of the world's most consistent waves plus a sandy bottom, and Tofino is a town one must taste at least once in their lifetime {or more often}!

Hanging at Ucluth beach with the entire Trip Styler clan {including Dog Styler} in Ucluelet, BC. 

Hanging at Ucluth beach with the entire Trip Styler clan {including Dog Styler} in Ucluelet, BC. 

About to enjoy some locally roasted morning coffee in Ucluelet at  Wya Point Resort .

About to enjoy some locally roasted morning coffee in Ucluelet at Wya Point Resort.

Watching surfers about to brave the waves at Cox Bay in Tofino, BC. 

Watching surfers about to brave the waves at Cox Bay in Tofino, BC. 

Learning to surf with Roxy-sponsored surfer Catherine Bruhwiler of Tofino Paddle Surf. Read more about it in my article,  Surfing the Canadian Coast , in the Expedia Viewfinder.

Learning to surf with Roxy-sponsored surfer Catherine Bruhwiler of Tofino Paddle Surf. Read more about it in my article, Surfing the Canadian Coast, in the Expedia Viewfinder.

Dog Styler, hanging with his surf buddies. 

Dog Styler, hanging with his surf buddies. 

The perfect perch to take in the sand and surf view: The master bedroom in a Beach House at  Pacific Sands Beach Resort . 

The perfect perch to take in the sand and surf view: The master bedroom in a Beach House at Pacific Sands Beach Resort

March 2015 // Santa Barbara
I'm not sure how it took me so long to visit Santa Barbara, the coastal town 90 minutes from LA. Now, all I know is I'd like to winter there. 

Sunsets like this almost every night. Swoon.

Sunsets like this almost every night. Swoon.

The lobby of  The Goodland , a So-Cal stay that channels the Pacific Coast's easy-breezy beach vibes in every space.     

The lobby of The Goodland, a So-Cal stay that channels the Pacific Coast's easy-breezy beach vibes in every space.  

 

Halibut with Israeli couscous at Outpost, a farm-to-table eatery in The Goodland.

Halibut with Israeli couscous at Outpost, a farm-to-table eatery in The Goodland.

Chilling with Baby Styler by the pool at The Goodland.

Chilling with Baby Styler by the pool at The Goodland.

La familia in Santa Barbara. Read about Santa Barbara's new wave of trendsetters in my article,  Santa Barbara Beyond the Break , in the Expedia Viewfinder.

La familia in Santa Barbara. Read about Santa Barbara's new wave of trendsetters in my article, Santa Barbara Beyond the Break, in the Expedia Viewfinder.

April 2016 // Maui + Lanai
What started as a week-long work trip to Maui morphed into a three-week tour of the Valley Isle, plus a two-night jaunt over to Lanai. Because, the tropics.  

Maui: Introducing Baby Styler to the joys of the Pacific Isles. 

Maui: Introducing Baby Styler to the joys of the Pacific Isles. 

Maui: Enjoying the cabana life, included in your room rate, at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, where we stayed for five nights. Read about the  joys of traveling with a baby  at a hotel that specializes in {cool} family travel and has more baby gadgets than even Will + Kate would need! 

Maui: Enjoying the cabana life, included in your room rate, at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, where we stayed for five nights. Read about the joys of traveling with a baby at a hotel that specializes in {cool} family travel and has more baby gadgets than even Will + Kate would need! 

Maui: I never thought doing the Road to Hana was in my wheelhouse due to my very delicate motion sickness. However, I lived to tell the tale with Mr. Trip Styler's oh-so-careful caressing of the steering wheel and brakes. Here's how  I conquered my car sickness  on one of the most breathtaking journeys in the world. 

Maui: I never thought doing the Road to Hana was in my wheelhouse due to my very delicate motion sickness. However, I lived to tell the tale with Mr. Trip Styler's oh-so-careful caressing of the steering wheel and brakes. Here's how I conquered my car sickness on one of the most breathtaking journeys in the world. 

Maui: Run, don't walk to the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui for the oishi sushi (a deep-fried spicy tuna roll) in Ko restaurant, and a  space-age escape to Willow Stream Spa , where I highly recommend the K-Lift, a NASA-developed anti-aging treatment. 

Maui: Run, don't walk to the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui for the oishi sushi (a deep-fried spicy tuna roll) in Ko restaurant, and a space-age escape to Willow Stream Spa, where I highly recommend the K-Lift, a NASA-developed anti-aging treatment. 

Lanai: The beach at the Four Seasons Lanai, one of my favorite hotels on PLANET EARTH {which just went through an extensive top-to-bottom reno} and is one of the most picture-perfect properties I've ever visited {photo via resort}.

Lanai: The beach at the Four Seasons Lanai, one of my favorite hotels on PLANET EARTH {which just went through an extensive top-to-bottom reno} and is one of the most picture-perfect properties I've ever visited {photo via resort}.

Lanai: If you think this pool at the Four Seasons Lanai is incredible, just imagine the new free-form version debuting Feb. 1st, 2016. 

Lanai: If you think this pool at the Four Seasons Lanai is incredible, just imagine the new free-form version debuting Feb. 1st, 2016. 

Lanai: Sweetheart Rock. One of the most incredible places in the world to see the sunset.

Lanai: Sweetheart Rock. One of the most incredible places in the world to see the sunset.

Lanai: The sunset from Sweetheart Rock.

Lanai: The sunset from Sweetheart Rock.

Lanai: Dining at NOBU Lanai, the only NOBU in the world to source greens from its own onsite garden.

Lanai: Dining at NOBU Lanai, the only NOBU in the world to source greens from its own onsite garden.

Lanai: A glimpse of the new rooms at the Four Seasons Lanai {photo via resort}.

Lanai: A glimpse of the new rooms at the Four Seasons Lanai {photo via resort}.

July 2016 // Italy
Discovering a land where the wine flows like water. Life is enchanting when you drink it in from a beach club carved into a cliff beside the Tyrrhenian Sea. 

Rome: But first, coffee. Learn how to make Italian espresso in  this video .

Rome: But first, coffee. Learn how to make Italian espresso in this video.

Rome: Seeing the Colosseum, built from 72AD-80AD.

Rome: Seeing the Colosseum, built from 72AD-80AD.

Rome: While this photo is not best-in-class, the experience is: A  Walks of Italy  pasta-making class in a chef's studio towering over the Eternal City. Bottomless Prosecco included!  See the video here . 

Rome: While this photo is not best-in-class, the experience is: A Walks of Italy pasta-making class in a chef's studio towering over the Eternal City. Bottomless Prosecco included! See the video here

Rome: The wonder of St. Peter's Basilica

Rome: The wonder of St. Peter's Basilica

Amalfi: Picturesque gelato...

Amalfi: Picturesque gelato...

Capri: and cappuccino...

Capri: and cappuccino...

Capri: and snacks, a.k.a.  aperitivos...

Capri: and snacks, a.k.a. aperitivos...

and bars... 

and bars... 

Serving this...

Serving this...

Capri : and beach clubs...

Capri: and beach clubs...

Ischia: and beaches...

Ischia: and beaches...

Ischia: and beach boys, aka Mr. and Baby Styler...

Ischia: and beach boys, aka Mr. and Baby Styler...

Ischia: and spring-fed pools { Terme Manzi }...

Ischia: and spring-fed pools {Terme Manzi}...

Amalfi: and my FAVE Trip Styler family pic complete with Baby Styler's tongue sticking out!

Amalfi: and my FAVE Trip Styler family pic complete with Baby Styler's tongue sticking out!

September 2016 // Sonora Resort
Only an hour by float plane from Vancouver, Sonora Resort is a Relais & Chateaux slice of Canadian paradise where wilderness commingles with award-winning cuisine and curated comforts {more on this coming soon}.

Canada: Where even the float planes are called beavers.

Canada: Where even the float planes are called beavers.

Spending some solo time in the spa's alfresco hydrotherapy circuit, included in every stay. 

Spending some solo time in the spa's alfresco hydrotherapy circuit, included in every stay. 

Meet my new BFF {who I loved from afar}: A baby grizzly bear!

Meet my new BFF {who I loved from afar}: A baby grizzly bear!

A coho salmon I caught {and got to bring home}!

A coho salmon I caught {and got to bring home}!

Weighing my salmon on the scale in front of the resort. 

Weighing my salmon on the scale in front of the resort. 

September 2016 // Disney Cruise
Think Disney, then think luxury edition. Of all my forays into Mickey-themed getaways, the voyage at sea is the most elegant. Think: A ton of fun activities for families plus a nursery for tots {or kids' clubs for 5-and-up} and adult-only areas {spa, bars, restaurants}.

Baby Styler having a blast in the bath-warm water at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas. See the whole experience in video here . 

Baby Styler having a blast in the bath-warm water at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas.See the whole experience in video here

The adult-only spa. Parents: If you have tykes old enough to do the kids programs, get a spa pass for the whole cruise!

The adult-only spa. Parents: If you have tykes old enough to do the kids programs, get a spa pass for the whole cruise!

Drinks on Deck 13 while Baby Styler sleeps in the nursery.

Drinks on Deck 13 while Baby Styler sleeps in the nursery.

October 2015 // Hawaii
On Hawaii Island, cascading waterfalls, rainbow-hued botanical gardens, roadside coconut stands and lava landscapes come standard with every stay. And you don’t need to travel far to find them—at any time, every one of these otherworldly sights is less than an hour away. Add in a fish- and farm-to-fork scene made possible by the sea-to-summit topography, and it’s plain to see why life in the Pacific is so palatable.

For the snorkeling in crystal clear water

For the snorkeling in crystal clear water

For the pools {Fairmont Orchid}

For the pools {Fairmont Orchid}

For the nature encounters à la paddleboard

For the nature encounters à la paddleboard

For the Baby Styler kisses

For the Baby Styler kisses

For the sunsets

For the sunsets

For the beach-perfect selfies { find out how to take a great family selfie here }!

For the beach-perfect selfies {find out how to take a great family selfie here}!

November 2015 // Mexico
We visited the Riviera Maya {I can reveal why soon} and fell in love with Grand Velas, our posh all-inclusive stay. From there, we crossed the country to the Pacific side to spend time with family in Punta Mita. 

The zen pool, aptly situated in the Mayan jungle, at Grand Velas Riviera Maya { read about Grand Velas here }.

The zen pool, aptly situated in the Mayan jungle, at Grand Velas Riviera Maya {read about Grand Velas here}.

The chic {and included} room service at Grand Velas Riviera Maya.

The chic {and included} room service at Grand Velas Riviera Maya.

Walking on water...kinda...at Grand Velas.

Walking on water...kinda...at Grand Velas.

Baby Styler learning how to walk and play soccer {at the same time} on the beach in Punta Mita.

Baby Styler learning how to walk and play soccer {at the same time} on the beach in Punta Mita.

Sunset in Punta Mita.

Sunset in Punta Mita.

[All photos by @TripStyler unless otherwise specified]

Lights, Lights Baby: Christmas in Vancouver

Vancouver holiday cheer

[trip style = food + wine + urban + active]

This year, Baby Styler's obsession with all things bright has me "kid excited" for Christmas, harkening back to a time when I was so smitten with the season, I'd watch the clock, minute-by-minute, waiting for the 25th. 

Armed with a little more patience in my adulthood, I've realized Christmas isn't just one day, but rather ALL of advent from the parties that happen every year, to the family traditions I still hold dear, to the festive events all over the City of Glass. 

If you're in need an extra dose of Christmas cheer, cozy up to these heart-warming Vancouver holiday traditions.

Haute Christmas Vacation-Style Sipping
To me, the Four Seasons Vancouver is the ultimate Noël hotel. Hosting the 28th annual Festival of Trees benefitting the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, the lower and upper lobbies transform into a festive forest decorated in bobbles and garlands galore. Couple this with its perfect location in the center of holiday shopping-ville, as well as YEW Bar's merry band of sippers, including an organic nog and vanilla-, all spice-, and cinnamon-spiced bourbon bev that comes in a Christmas Vacation moose mug, and visiting the posh address is a holiday must.   

YEW Cogg Nog

Bright Nights Christmas Train 
Before you could pre-buy your train tickets in ultra-efficient half-hour time slots, my family used to lineup every year bundled up in what seemed like 100 layers to ride the Stanley Park Christmas Train. At the time, it was one of the highlights of my holidays, second only to Christmas morning. Thirty some-odd years later the 50-year-old miniature train is still magical, still whimsical and still retro {I swear, I recognized some of the same decorations}! I just took Baby Styler, and based on his jolly reaction, I think he was hoping we'd take him every night. On until January 2nd, 2016. 

stanley park christmas train

Walking in a Winter Wonderland
If you can't shake the song "Walking in a winter wonderland" head to the frosted Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain where you'll find a holiday scene akin to a just-shaken a snow globe. Blanketed in the white stuff, warmed by a crackling fire and adorned in trees lit up with holiday lights, Grouse is Vancouver's version of the North Pole complete with an Elf Headquarters, where kids can create their own Rudolf or write a letter to Santa; an 8,000-square-foot outdoor skating pond; and Light Walk, the mountain's newest addition with holiday light installations strung between the fir and spruce trees.

grouse mountain chritmas

[photos, in order of appearance, via Seattle Mag, Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, and Trip Styler]

Ciao :: Roma with Expedia

rome activities booked via expedia local

[trip style = urban + adventure + food + wine]

Buongiorno. In Ciao!, my intro to Italy dispatch, I hinted at the reason I'm in the land of la dolce vita: An Expedia video project in Rome.

Amore. 

Now that all the stones are set for my road to Rome, I wanted to share the details. This weekend, starting Friday, I'll be showcasing four activities I handpicked from a list of a bazillion tours and small-group activities you can book in the Eternal City via Expedia Local Expert. Here's a rundown: 

Open-air bus tour   {$12 usd} Goal: Get a lay of the land to connect the historical dots.

Open-air bus tour {$12 usd}
Goal: Get a lay of the land to connect the historical dots.

VIP Caesar’s Palace and Colosseum tour   {$87 usd} Goal: "When in Rome" is fitting for this one...

VIP Caesar’s Palace and Colosseum tour {$87 usd}
Goal: "When in Rome" is fitting for this one...

Small-group pasta-making class   {$71 usd} Goal: Learn the art of  al dente , and collect totally-worth-it calories instead of tchotchkes, complete with prosecco.

Small-group pasta-making class {$71 usd}
Goal: Learn the art of al dente, and collect totally-worth-it calories instead of tchotchkes, complete with prosecco.

St. Peter’s Basilica tour   {$36 usd} Goal: In which I get picked up at  my hotel , skip the line-up and learn local insights on Italy's largest church.

St. Peter’s Basilica tour {$36 usd}
Goal: In which I get picked up at my hotel, skip the line-up and learn local insights on Italy's largest church.

Follow all my on-the-go updates via the TS Instagram, as well as via the #ExpediaThingsToDo hashtag on all social media platforms. For a bird's eye view of my entire three-week trip, check out #TSRomanHoliday.

[photos via Expedia Local Expert]

Croatia Calling :: Plitvice Lakes

[trip style = active + adventure]

For the final installment of our Croatia series, we're pulling back from the coast and heading inland. Scroll to the bottom of the post for more on Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Islands and Rovinj.

Plitvice Lakes National Park might be the most beautiful natural wonder in Europe you've never heard of. Croatia's stunning coast receives most of the attention—and crowds—but away from the coast lies a gorgeous and unforgettable park made up of 16 crystal-clear lakes laced together by countless waterfalls. At Plitvice, the colors of the lakes are so vibrant you might think you're in Bora Bora or the Rockies. My Croatia guru Rick Steves compares Plitvice Lakes to a European Niagara Falls sliced, diced and sprinkled over a heavily forested Grand Canyon. With its lush landscape rich in deep blues and bright greens, I'd compare it to the Blue Lagoon meets the Shire. Whatever your comparison, you'll realize it's uniquely Plitvice and well worth a day or two on your Croatian itinerary.

Plan to spend three to four hours in the park if you stick to the main paths, or longer if you take the paths less traveled.

Plan to spend three to four hours in the park if you stick to the main paths, or longer if you take the paths less traveled.

A path along the Lower Lakes and the biggest waterfall in the park—Big Waterfall {seriously, that's the name}—a short walk from the main path.

A path along the Lower Lakes and the biggest waterfall in the park—Big Waterfall {seriously, that's the name}—a short walk from the main path.

Waters flowing over limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams, which in turn have created lakes, caves and waterfalls.

Waters flowing over limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams, which in turn have created lakes, caves and waterfalls.

The no-swimming and no-fishing rules guarantee a serene surrounding, but if it's warm, you'll really, really want to jump in.

The no-swimming and no-fishing rules guarantee a serene surrounding, but if it's warm, you'll really, really want to jump in.

Electric boats shuttle visitors across the park's largest lake.

Electric boats shuttle visitors across the park's largest lake.

During the 1960s, several "spaghetti westerns" were filmed in Plitvice because Germans and Italians believed certain sections of the park looked like the American West.

During the 1960s, several "spaghetti westerns" were filmed in Plitvice because Germans and Italians believed certain sections of the park looked like the American West.

Miles of plank walks connect the 16 lakes.

Miles of plank walks connect the 16 lakes.

Most park visitors focus on the Lower Lakes; hike all the way to the end of the Upper Lakes for a more peaceful experience.

Most park visitors focus on the Lower Lakes; hike all the way to the end of the Upper Lakes for a more peaceful experience.

It's hard to believe that in 1991, the first shots of the Croatia-Yugoslavia war were fired in Plitvice. The Serbs controlled the park until 1995, which allowed the ecosystem to recover from years of visitors prior to the war.

It's hard to believe that in 1991, the first shots of the Croatia-Yugoslavia war were fired in Plitvice. The Serbs controlled the park until 1995, which allowed the ecosystem to recover from years of visitors prior to the war.

Plitvice is one of Croatia's seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Plitvice is one of Croatia's seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

For a Euro-Disney-meets-Jurassic-Park experience, take a "train" {which the park calls its shuttle buses} from the top of the Upper Lakes back to the park entrance. 

For a Euro-Disney-meets-Jurassic-Park experience, take a "train" {which the park calls its shuttle buses} from the top of the Upper Lakes back to the park entrance. 

Things to know

  • With over a million visitors a year—up to 10,000 a day—Plitvice {Pleet-veet-seh} is a packed park. Visit during the shoulder or low seasons for fewer crowds, or before 10am or after 3pm to avoid the bus tours. 
  • Stop at a nearby grocery store to stock up on snacks and enjoy a picnic on the shores of the largest lake.
  • Adult cost: ~$10-33/day depending on the season
  • The park is located two hours from Zagreb, or three hours from Rovinj. It has three hotels, but we chose to stay in an apartment nearby.

This post is written by Trip Styler's Assistant Wayfarer/Editor Heather.

Related
Croatia Calling: Dalmatian Islands
Croatia Calling: Dubrovnik
Roam+Board: Hotel Lone

[images by @heatherlovesit]

Conquering the Road to Hana

Road to hana - how to for car sickness

[trip style = adventure]

Dear car sickness sufferers: If you're under the impression you'll never experience the Road to Hana's curvy coastline, you're sorely mistaken. You just have do it the RIGHT WAY {tips below}. 

Because anything in motion is my nemesis—I even get chairlift sick—I was under the FALSE notion that a trip to Maui’s modern-day Eden was a no-go for me, in addition to the route otherworldly sights: cascading waterfalls, bamboo groves, botanical gardens, and red-sand beaches.

I thought my only options were a} experience it virtually through other people's photos, or b} become BFFs with a heli pilot, and get myself there by air.

Koki red-sand beach

Koki red-sand beach

Annoyed with my constant need to manage my motion sickness, a few weeks ago I changed my tune. After 15 or so trips to Maui, I decided it was time to overcome my fear of "ralphing roadside" halfway between the six-hour trip's 600 some-odd turns.

road to hana turns

At first, I set the bar low. If I only made it five miles, I would consider it a win. Then, with Mr. Trip Styler at the wheel, we made it to the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees at Mile Marker No. 6. At Mile Marker No. 9, I was so ecstatic with our progress, I started high-fiving bamboo branches draping over the road. At Mile Marker No. 25, I started getting used to the mist from waterfalls gushing over the cliffs just paces from our car. 

Waterfall by the roadside

Waterfall by the roadside

At Mile Marker No. 31, I spotted the sign officially welcoming us to Hana. Now I get it. In the midst of blind corners and close to 50 one-lane bridges, the scenery is spiritual: Trees grow out of trees, fuchsia flower petals dust the road, palms erupt like fireworks.

We came to this idyllic seascape a few miles beyond Hana in search of Uncle Troy's BBQ; we found this! 

We came to this idyllic seascape a few miles beyond Hana in search of Uncle Troy's BBQ; we found this! 

It's funny that it took me a third of a century to make it to one of Maui’s most celebrated stretches of coastline, and yet Baby Styler came along for the ride in his first six months of life.  

How to handle the Road to Hana (without getting sick)
1. Drive at a tortoise pace. To put this in perspective, we averaged 15 mph. Really, it’s hard to go much faster given the road’s hairpin turns, blind corners and one-lane bridges.

2. Coast through each turn. Pressing on the gas in a turn jolts the stomach, and is one of the main reasons passengers start to feel queasy when this motion is repeated more than 600 times in a row.

For tips 3-7, see my latest article in the Expedia Viewfinder. 

Walking in feilds of green beside the Rainbow Eucapyptus grove

Walking in feilds of green beside the Rainbow Eucapyptus grove

[photos by @tripstyler]