Screensaver worthy!

I have to tell you,  the moment I saw this photo on my friend’s Facebook feed I was absolutely awestruck.

Naturally, I complimented her on this remarkable photo of what I easily recognized as Waikiki Beach at Oahu, Hawaii.

My friend told me that her 10 year old daughter, Livia, took the photo on an iPad. Pretty incredible eh?!!

I made Livia an offer and paid her for the use of her photo on my blog. I told her that I’d love to show her talent to the world. Aren’t you glad I did?

I asked Livia if she had a review of the hotel or anything to tell our readers about Waikiki Beach or Honolulu. She reported that her family really liked their hotel, the Outrigger Reef. It had a fantastic location, view of the ocean, crafts, activities and even a Starbucks! One more unique offering of the Outrigger Reef  is that twice a week, at sunrise, they do a complimentary vow renewal ceremony for couples.  (Wow!! That’s something I had never heard about before. Livia’s going  to make a brilliant travel writer AND professional photographer someday!)

Special sincere thanks to Livia & her family for sharing this brilliant photo & glimpse into their family holiday.



Restorative detour

You know how ‘they say’ that travel can change you?

You know how ‘they say’ that sometimes when you get lost you actually find yourself?

You know how ‘they say’ that it’s not the destination,  but the journey instead that’s most important?

I think ‘they’ might be right.

I’ve been on dozens of trips, some good, some great, and some I’ve probably even forgotten about. But, I have to say that Costa Rica 2019 was a pivotal moment in my personal journey.

My dear friend Christina won a trip & invited me along.  We had the privilege of going to the newly opened, five star, Planet Hollywood Resort in Costa Rica. (It’s amazing, by the way!)

We left the kids, our husbands and our worries behind us. For 7 days we simply rested, recharged and restored ourselves. We read books by the pool, swam, went on nature hikes, did yoga, sang karaoke and watched 90s movies. And we laughed a lot!  (Of course it certainly helped that it was all-inclusive and weren’t worried about the expense.)

It was probably day 5 when I started to feel energized and ready to tackle my 5 year plan. I started thinking about my career goals and where I wanted to be in 2020 & in 2024.  The trip itself, was critical in giving me the chance to let go of life’s stress and regroup.  By day 7 I couldn’t wait to go home, to  see my family and to start working on making changes.

Shortly thereafter I made a big career move. It was a calculated leap of faith. I consciously decided that starting over was going to be the best way forward.

6 months later, I’m thrilled with my decisions. And reflecting back, I see how much that restorative vacation put me back on track to happiness and self-fulfillment.

5 truths your travel agent wants you to know

5 Reasons your travel agent didn’t call you back right away.

1. He/she was on hold for hours with a supplier. Literally hours waiting on hold for Air Canada (Transat/WestJet etc etc) Travel Agent Support to solve 1 little problem that is impossible to fix on-line independently. (For example a name correction, like when a husband forgets that the daughter’s middle name has 2 “n” and it HAS to be corrected).

(In these cases most agents will try to send you a quick email when the phone is tied up.)

2. There’s a client at the desk. They have the agent’s full attention. The client is planning their dream vacation. Or, they might have just popped in to make a payment, but they still deserve undivided attention.

3. There’s an emergency with a client in active travel.  Take a hurricane in the Caribbean for example.  We may not notice it at home in Canada but absolutely positively it could be disrupting travel for Canadians that we work with. Agents regularly field calls from worried travellers who need re-routing or help with their insurance. These individual situations can take hours and command immediate action. These stressful situations occur more regularly than you’d imagine!  Though it can be very challenging & time consuming it is very satisfying to successfully solve problems for your clients & bring them home safely. It’s a good feeling when things work out and your expertise helps them out of a real jam.

4. Your contact information wasn’t complete. We can’t return your call if the voicemail doesn’t have a name or phone number. Or the number you said so quickly was impossible to understand.

5. This one is a harsh truth. If the client regularly uses the agent for information but never actually books a vacation with the agency, you won’t be the first person they rush to call back when there’s 6 more also waiting on the list. Agents dread the message “Oh sorry, I just booked it myself online. Thanks for all your help though.”  Especially in those agencies where they don’t charge any consulting fees.

Even if you are the most wonderful client and friend, there will be times that answers and phone calls aren’t instant. Please don’t take it personally. I bet that 99 times out of 100 something significant has literally derailed your agent’s day & they’re tied up “putting out fires.” We’re all just people trying to help people!



$100 insurance solution

I’ll make this quick and snappy because you don’t need a speech about travel insurance.

You can Google the horror stories.  We have all seen & heard the hard luck stories of people who skipped the insurance because “I’m going no matter what” or “my credit card covers it” or “it was too expensive.”

Don’t be like them. Buy the insurance! When purchased at the same time that you are making your deposit on a trip, you’ll be getting the lowest price and the most value on a package of insurance.

Whether it costs you $100 or $200 it’s worth it.  I always tell my clients there is NO problem you can solve at your destination with $100. (There is NO medical bill of $100 and there’s NO one-way flight home for $100!)  However, if you spend that $100 at home, in the planning stages on insurance, it can literally save you thousands of dollars and solve your problems should an emergency situation come up.

It might just be the best $100 you spend on vacation. Bottom line, if you can’t afford the $100 for insurance, you can’t actually afford to go.

(Actual cost of insurance will vary.  Coverage plans and premiums will be based on your personal,  situation.)

4 Reasons you’ll need more pesos this year

Your vacation to Mexico is in high demand. If you haven’t booked yet, you should act quickly before the coveted dates and rooms are sold out.

Here’s 4 reasons that Mexico is trending so hot right now.

1) Demand for snowbird trips to Arizona, California & Florida are down.

2) Cuba is in a fuel crisis. The struggle to move people & goods without gasoline in a genuine threat to this tourist season. So, demand for Cuba is down.

3) Flights have been cut from some markets, and are less frequent in other markets. For example, Air Transat no longer flies out of Regina. Sunwing has the only direct flights to PVR before Christmas. Therefore Sunwing is more likely to sell out flights, than to discount seats.

4) The same number of your friends and neighbours want a winter vacation, but there are fewer flights and fewer ideal destinations. Therefore, it’s just like the child’s game of musical chairs. If you go around & around, when the music stops and you hesitate, you could be left without a chair.

Travelling puts years into your life.

I know what you’re thinking… Cathie has that saying backwards.

“ Travel doesn’t put years into your life!  It’s travel that puts life in your years!”

I’m actually going to argue that here for a moment. Indulge me, if you will.

I was listening to a travel podcast while I was crafting a pottery vase on the wheel . I find it very therapeutic to listen to an audio book or podcast. If I can focus on a topic or listen to someone’s voice then I tend not to overthink the pottery and thus I’m a better artist for it.

The podcast I was listening to was talking about the virtues of having different chapters in your life. If you think about certain years as individual pieces you can definitely see successful chapters and be proud, rather than trying to look back at a whole lifetime and giving it one grade of “pass or fail.”

For example I can look back at the decade I owned a restaurant and feel very successful for two of the personal things I accomplished. One was  absolutely proving myself as an entrepreneur. (I always knew that skill and drive lay within me.) The second thing was being proud of the positive influence I had on dozens of employees.  I genuinely cared to see the teenagers graduate high school and go on to shape their own career goals.  The fact that so many of them are still in touch and in my life, makes me feel really really good.

But now to focus on this blog’s headline. How do you put more years in your life? It goes like this….  if you do the same thing over and over and over it becomes a blur. Just the same as if you drive by the same billboard on the street day after day after day. At some point it becomes part of the landscape and you no longer read the sign.

The theory is if you do the same thing for work or for pleasure over and over it creates only one track in your brain. One essential memory of doing the same repetitive task, however,  if you travel and see and experience different things you are literally creating new memories in your brain.  You are using new data to write a new path in your memory. So if you take five different trips you are creating  five different memories in your brain. So now when you look back and reflect on your life,  you remember one episode of work and five episodes of travel.  Now your brain actually remembers your life as being six chapters in total not just one chapter.  Thus, six diverse chapters appears longer, than just one book of one continuous chapter.

If someone were to ask you to reflect on your life and the one thing you talked about was work, it would be a short conversation. However if you started talking about a camping trip you enjoyed, you would likely  remember other trips and start talking about them as well. Suddenly you’ve talked a lot longer about your life and your life seems more “full.”

Therefore the more variety of things you do in life, I believe the longer and more full your life will appear in recollection.

So, travel! Make memories!