Coolest thing to do with your Valentine! Literally.

 

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Vist Churchill Manitoba! Did you think I was going to say that?

You could go for Valentine’s Day weekend and (hopefully) see the northern lights. This trip could be surprisingly affordable. I just learnt that you can book a flight to Churchill, Manitoba from Winnipeg for 1400 Air Miles or less! (Flights Feb 13 – 15th, 2016 available at 1380 Air Miles.)

See, this is actually an amazing thing, because if you were to pay the cash price for the fare with Calm Air, it actually ranges between $688 and $1900 for a return ticket.

See the bargain? Staring to think it’s cool yet? The total taxes on the flight is $95. Not bad, eh?

There are just a few hotels in town, and they are not the Fort Garry, but, they will certainly do for an adventure weekend. At $139 (or less with a CAA discount) you can appreciate this opportunity for a bucket list experience. The Tundra Inn will pick you up from the airport too!

If the weather works, you could go dog sledding.  There are bed and sled packages available through Blue Sky Mush. ($400 for 3 nights accommodation PLUS a dog sled tour for 2 people!) Or, just a sled event is about $90 per person. www.blueskymush.com

But for everything Churchill, you need to check out the website.

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If you would like to go in July, or August which is peak tourist season, you might still be able to get your bargain flights off Air Miles (1400 Air Miles/1200 in low season), but hotels and tours will cost at least double. It’s simply supply and demand, and you are definitely wise to book early.

Via Rail also offers transportation between Winnipeg and Churchill. It is a 2 day ride and will cost between $400 (economy seat) and $1200 (cabin with meals) per person, round trip.

As a bucket list trip, I think it’s an amazing possibility. And it’s in our own backyard! At about $400-$500 per person, for 3 nights accommodation, air fare, meals and an activity, I think most Canadians would be envious. (Bargain price noted as with Air Miles redemption.)

 

Churchill in June. A field of fireweed highlights the landscape of Churchill in June. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)
Churchill in June. A field of fireweed highlights the landscape of Churchill in June. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)

 

Beluga whales, as seen in June on tour with The Churchill Experience. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)
Beluga whales, as seen in June on tour with The Churchill Experience. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)

 

Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling
Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling

Links:

Tundra Inn

Everything Churchill

Manitoba Tourism

The Churchill Experience

Blue Sky Mush

Assiniboine Zoo Polar Bear Conservancy 

Learn about polar bears

Via Rail to Churchill

 

Deal Alert: Regina to Kelowna $172

Westjet has a few sly deals on flights from YQR to YLW. If you have a little time in February, you can really grab a bargain.

Would you like to ski Big White? What about Silver Star? You can even grab a bargain on ski lift tickets if you are an Onyx Air Miles collector. Day passes as low as 475 miles.

Big White Ski Resort has accommodation deals and much more on their site, including a daily powder report! 10 fresh centimetres of snow today!

 

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Oh Canada… that exchange rate!

I could write this article in two emojis and you would know what I meant. The dollar sign and the emoji with clenched teeth, they pretty much sum it up.

So, what can we do as travelling Canadians with a 70 cent dollar? What if it gets worse?

What will we do with a 59 cent dollar? Forecasters are saying by the end of 2016, our dollar could hit an all time low.

Here are our best options as I see it:

  1. Stay home! Let’s explore and celebrate our own country. Let this be the year you see the coast, see the mountains and most importantly re-connect with your own family. Let this be, the year that we revive the family road trip.
  2. Be the best hosts! Let us, as a community and as individuals, invite our American friends and neighbours to come and visit Canada. An injection of funds will stimulate our economy. Let’s use tourism so as to build our own jobs and showcase our great nation.

Start exploring with these links:

Travel Manitoba

Keep Exploring Canada

 

Best of 2015

The ultimate resource for the people by the people, Trip Advisor, has posted their comprehensive ‘Best of 2015‘ lists.

Curious as to the best all inclusive resorts? What about the best beaches? It’s all there! Defintely check it out.

One of my all time favourite beach holidays has earned the number two spot on the world’s best beaches list. Congratulations once again to the Turks and Caicos islands! We stayed at the Ocean Club Resort, located right on Grace Bay beaches. It was glorious!

If you’d like to go to the Turks and Caicos islands, both Westjet and Air Canada will take you there. A round trip flight from Winnipeg will cost about $550 at an average sale price.

Since the Turks and Caicos main tourist island of Providenciales is a developed island with services and standards similar to North America and Europe,  you will not see all-incluvice packages offered as the norm. Here, except for the Beaches Resort and Club Med which ARE all inclusive, you will pay as a european style vacation, sourcing your own food and beverages.

Did your favourite beach make it to the list? Where would you recommend? Please do tell us in the comments. Have a question about the Turks and Caicos… just ask! I’ll do my best to answer or find you resource that can.

The signature pink umbrellas of the Ocean Club Resort on Grace Bay beach, Turks and Caicos
The signature pink umbrellas of the Ocean Club Resort on Grace Bay beach, Turks and Caicos.

Let’s talk chowder!

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Nearly 30 below zero at home tonight and my thoughts return time and again to this fabulous chowder. It was a meal to remember from Durty Nelly’s Pub in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia.

At the corner of Sackville and Argyle Streets, it was an easy walk from the harbour and perhaps 10 minutes from the Scotiabank Centre, home of the QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads hockey team.

Chowder is a regional specialty and each pub and diner boasts their own recipe. You really can’t go three blocks in Halifax without another chowder option.

This one at Durty Nelly’s was a hot and hearty blend of savoury seafood. The scallops were huge and delicious. Two thumbs up!

I could go for a bowl right now. But, I think I said that already!

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Travel Tip: Border Run

Are you feeling the pinch of our weak Canadian dollar?  You’re not alone. Thousands of Canadian snowbirds are cutting their trips short, or staying home. With an exchange rate near $1.45 per $1 US it has made travel to the United States far less attractive or affordable.

Don’t despair, you may still be able to afford a border run for your Cherry Coke and your Powerball ticket. The key is to do your homework. With a drop in Canadian tourists, many of our neighbouring American cities, like Grand Forks and Minot are sweetening the deals. When was the last time you were offered a room at a brand new hotel for $70?

The key is to do your homework and think frugally.

  1. Research before you go. Don’t assume you will find deals when you get there. Go to sites like EzMarketing.ca and print your hotel coupons first.
  2. Call and deal locally. The 1-800 numbers for booking hotels are not routinely updated with the local specials. Look for the franchise Facebook pages and check there for current deals.
  3. Look for hotels with added value, like free breakfast, manager’s reception or in-room kitchenettes. Many hotels will also offer area coupons (for restaurants and shopping) at their front desk.
  4. Time to order pizza. Grab a large pizza to share, rather than going out for a sit down meal for 4.
  5. Speak up. Ask for Canadian specials by e-mailing the tourism sites and getting on their mailing list.

www.visitgrandforks.com

https://www.facebook.com/visitgrandforks/

www.visitminot.org

In this situation, it is to your benefit to think and act locally. Southern states, like Texas and California are less likely to offer Canadian deals. However, if you have your heart set on a sunshine trip, the same tips will apply. Research and get connected to find the deals that fit your budget.

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