How much does a hot vacation cost?

Here’s a handy, off the cuff guide to escaping Manitoba and going on a tropical, all inclusive, beach vacation.

In order of typical total cost. Least expensive destinations to most expensive: Cost on each island will vary by resort and room category.

  • Varadero, Cuba
  • Cayo Coco, Cuba
  • Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
  • Cancun, Mexico
  • Maya Riviera, Mexico
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • Los Cabos, Mexico
  • Mazatlan, Mexico
  • Ixtapa, Mexico
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • Huatulco, Mexico
  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • Curacao
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Maarten
  • Antigua
  • Aruba
  • Belize
  • Barbados
  • Costa Rica
  • Turks n Caicos

A rough number, for a 4 star vacation, at a non-peak holiday time starts at $2000 per adult.  $1700 for your Air/Hotel package, $200 insurance, $100 gratuities & incidentals like resort fees/tourist card etc.

Peak travel is:  American Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Spring Break, University Break (2nd week of Feb)  Plan for at least $2600 or more per adult for a 4 star vacation with insurance and incidentals.

Think of package vacation travel like buying a vehicle. There is everything from the Chevy Cruise to the Cadillac available. You just have to find the model, the style and the features that suit you.  Yes, they are all just “cars” but what comforts/conveniences do you need to be happy and satisfied? Travel is the very same.

My bottom line is this:  if the decision comes down to $300 and it’s the difference between being “satisfied” and “happy” choose HAPPY. (Cut out souvenirs or new clothes for the trip to cover the cost if you need to.)

When you feel like you are settling for a car/vacation because you like the price….you will start off on the wrong foot. When you find something you are EXCITED about, you also give yourself the gift of anticipation. Every day you know you have something to look forward to, even if it is 4 months away. Dare I say the hard winter days get easier, when I have something to look forward to and dream about.

Don’t do bad things!

Travel should be safe, happy and enrich your life. Don’t mess that up for yourself, or others.   Like these two:  Tourists facing jail time for graffiti

I’ll tell you a personal story, because I think it’s kind of sweet. When my son was almost 4 we were watching the Brandon Wheat Kings play and his favourite hockey player (Mark Stone) was sent to the penalty box. This was upsetting for my son. He absolutely hated seeing Mark in “hockey jail.” Later that night Calder (my son) got the chance to tell Mark exactly how he felt.

It was skate with the player night, and during the post-game event, Calder had Mark’s full attention. Mark, (all 6 foot 6 of him, on skates) was down on his knee to listen to Calder.

“Don’t do bad things!” Calder said. “Don’t do bad things.”  he repeated over and over. “No goals in hockey jail.” Which we as parents, interpreted for Mark … “you can’t score goals while sitting in the penalty box.”  Mark assured Calder that he understood the message “don’t do bad things” he repeated over and over. “Don’t do bad things.”  Satisfied that he had been heard, Calder was ready to skate. He and his hockey idol skated around. At the end of the the event Mark said goodbye to the little guy and assured him that he would “not  do bad things” and try his best to stay out of the penalty box. It was a nice moment. Very memorable.

So, that’s pretty much all I’m going to say, because the message certainly does apply to travel.  “Don’t do bad things.”  But honestly, I shouldn’t have to say this. It’s common sense.

1) Jail time isn’t a joke. Jail time isn’t two minutes in the penalty box.

2) Respect the culture and customs of the country you are in. You are a guest. Be on your best behaviour. Obey the laws.

3) If you have a conviction at home. Even if YOU THINK it’s minor, it could very well prevent you from getting a tourist visa, or being allowed entry into a foreign country. Assault, drug possession, DUI (Driving under the influence) are all potential barriers to you being free to travel. So before you buy a plane ticket, check with the embassy. Do your homework.

And most of all, the bottom line is that travel is a privilege. “Don’t do bad things!”

3 Tips to a lower price on the vacation you want.

You’ve found the vacation you want, but it’s just a little out of budget. Now what? Here’s a few tips that could potentially save you 10% or more.

  1. Change your dates. Even if it’s one day earlier, or later, it could save you hundreds of dollars. Pro tip: Choose “flexible dates” in your search whenever that’s an option.
  2. Take the long way. Rather than the direct flight, take a look at a flight with a connection. Think of this as talking the bus to work rather than driving yourself. The bus is less expensive, will take longer, and is less glamorous, but you’ll still get there. BUT if it eats up another half day of your vacation, is the lower price worth it?
  3. Look for re-sellers like “Sunquest Vacations.” They don’t operate their own flights, but rather purchase packages from other providers (like Air Canada) and re-sell them. Think of them as the Winners (discount clothes/housewares retailer) of travel packages. They are more likely to cut prices than to sit on inventory they’ve already paid for. They will not have the same wide selection of packages, but what if they actually have the one you want? Same as shopping at Winners…. always worth a look. And lastly, just like at Winners, if you see a deal, GRAB IT. Don’t hesitate. If you go back tomorrow, it’s very likely to be gone… sold to someone else.

Use a travel agent. While there is a service fee attached to using a travel agent, he/she has has access to superior search engines, travel consolidators and the inside scoop on promotions. Using an expert (and paying $40+ service fee)  could genuinely save you hundreds of dollars over booking a standard vacation package yourself.  Think of a travel agent as a coupon…if you have one, you should use it and save yourself some money.

Please, Take the Wheel

As you know my eyes have been opened to more and more travel opportunities through my new job as a travel consultant. I have been reading and learning about tour companies and things you can experience through guided vacations. I was definitely surprised to learn that it is very affordable to participate in a guided tour rather than trying to do everything on your own.

6 months ago, I did not have any idea you could easily find like minded people and join their well planned excursions, rather than trying to “re-invent the wheel yourself.” I think this would have really benefitted me when I toured Ireland in 2017. Though I had a decent time and saw many things,  I felt like I was missing out and not really experiencing Ireland. I was a casual tourist, and certainly did not  have the full, and the enriching Irish experience I had hoped for.

So this next time, I’m looking at an award winning tour company in Europe called Back Roads Touring as my way to show my son Switzerland.  Rather than putting all the pressure on myself to do months of research and then try to coordinate everything,  I will enlist the experts. It already feels like a relief. I’d love for someone to take the lead so my son & I can both enjoy the adventure to the fullest rather than us both wondering when I’ll make the next wrong turn.

Here are three tour companies, of many, that my travel agency recommends. (I bet these will get you started on thinking about your next adventure!)

G Adventures  A Canadian company well known around the globe.

Back Roads Touring  A Specialist in Europe. Small groups of 18 or fewer.

On The Go Tours  Specializing in 4 & 5 Star Luxury Guided Tours. Often with incredible deals on last minute adventures.

Consider the math if you think that $2000 is too much to pay for a 7 day guided tour.  As an individual you might pay:  7 nights hotel ($1400), plus taxis/uber/shuttles ($300), plus admission tickets to museums/activities/monuments ($250) plus select meals ($300) for a total of $2250 or more. While you could share the hotel and taxi expense with your spouse, that’s true,  the meals and tickets are individually priced regardless. Also consider the value of NOT stressing about planning and research and driving routes. Would that make your vacation more enjoyable?

If you’re interested in any of these tours, track me down at McPhail Travel in Brandon and let’s talk! (Cathie@mcphailtravel.net)

 

On The Go Birthday Celebration Deals October 2018

 

 

 

 

Honeymoon Holiday Bargain

Have you dreamt of a second honeymoon,  or even the first honeymoon that you postponed because life got too busy?

I’ve spied a BARGAIN this coming December. Direct flights from Winnipeg to Cancun, and a week at Secrets The Vine Cancun. In a honeymoon, or master suite, under $5000 per couple.

**Other dates available. Rates will be higher. **

The Master suite is over 1200 square feet with a private balcony overlooking the ocean. Teak furnishings and glorious views.

All taxes, gratuities included. Top shelf spirits, room service & more.

Video tour of the hotel

If you’re interested in booking, please call me at (204) 726-8468, 9-5pm Monday to Friday.  (My direct line at McPhail Travel in Brandon.) You can also email me anytime at Cathie@mcphailtravel.net  I’d love to help you plan your romantic getaway.

 

Date:  September 26th, 2018

Rates quoted are current at time of publication. Rates subject to change or sell out without notice.

Casino Art

One of of my favourite activities in Vegas….. yes, THAT Las Vegas is to consciously take in the public art. I think it’s one of the most enriching non-gambling experiences you can have there.

Exceptional art is everywhere. You’ll find it in the halls and lobbies of every MGM hotel, in the shops and even in the casinos.

I LOVE the art experience at Aria Hotel & Casino. From the minute you arrive in the valet drive, to the minute you head up to the buffet, there’s creative and poignant art to dazzle the senses.

If you choose to explore your desire to see fine art, head over to Bellagio to their dedicated gallery. Admission is $14/person but is well worth it.

We’ve seen an Andy Warhol exhibit there, and most recently (Summer ‘18) a Water Exhibit.

 

Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art

 

Bellagio Gallery of fine art.

 

Felt art in the halls of Park MGM
Felt art in the halls of Park MGM

 

Ceramic art at Aria

 

Design and functional art everywhere you look.