All posts by Cathie

Travel enthusiast, writer, best selling author and former restaurant owner, Cathie is a creative force and loves a challenge. She specializes in off peak and bargain travel. Better stories start with travel!

Bucket list trip on budget.

Travel Tip:

Get closer to your dream trip in 2 easy steps.

  1. Get the Kayak APP on your smartphone
  2. Set an open price alert on your chosen route. Pick your dream budget price. Then let Kayak work its magic. If/when your flight comes into budget Kayak will send you an alert immediately.

Example:  Winnipeg to Maui (YWG to OGG);  open dates;   price alert $410

I know that $525 is an typical “good” price for the route. I have seen it as low as $408. I kick myself for not booking it then. I’ve seen $424 a few times too. So if Kayak alerts me to a deal of $410 or less, I’ll at least know that I have an option.

This is the perfect “set it and forget it” APP. Let Kayak do the leg work, while you focus on family and more important things.

Girls’ Trip: Kelowna $400

Westjet is offering some nearly unbelievable prices on the Winnipeg to Kelowna route. The return trip, taxes included is just $187.  We have the upstart airline, New Leaf, to thank for this price war.

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To take this deal to the next level, we turn to Expedia.ca to pair it with a hotel. Choosing a well rated hotel you can pair it up for just $385. This is a 3 night vacation with fabulous flight times. Both the hotels shown include breakfast, adding extra value.

The weather at the end of April should be lovely. You could enjoy a game of golf or take a winery tour. To plan your activities visit Tourism Kelowna.

Price wars are very volatile, meaning the prices could disappear without notice. It’s not like an advertised sale with dates. Act quickly and you could be bragging about the deal all year long.

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Not cold enough? $325 to Yellowknife

If you love winter and winter sports, you might want to take your ambitions north.

I’ve rarely seen such a deal on Yellowknife, NWT.

To my surprise, you can leave Brandon Manitoba at 6am and arrive just after lunch in Yellowknife. The Westjet service will cost you as little as $325 if you choose the right dates.  From Winnipeg, also $325.

If you’ve got a friend in Fort McMurray, Alberta do let them know of the sale on their destination as well. And ask them if it’s ever been as low as $313, taxes in, return flights.

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Planning the epic playoff trip.

The key to planning a playoff trip is to act quickly and decisively. There are three things that have to come together in order for this to happen.

  1. Know the date. Until you know the specific date when the games are being played, you’re in limbo.
  2. Transportation. Is this fly or drive?  And if it’s air fare you need, know that last minute prices can be steep. Are there alternate airports you can look at?
  3. Tickets. Do you have a reliable, trusted source for tickets?

When the Winnipeg Jets made the playoffs in April 2015, I knew I had to go. HAD TO! I bought tickets on-line (Stub Hub) within minutes of the games being confirmed. That was actually the easiest part

The biggest problem became acquiring a reasonably priced flight to Anaheim. Flights to the closest and most convenient airport, SNA, (John Wayne Airport) were already priced beyond my budget. LAX was the next one I considered, however the connections and times were going to fail me. At this point I considered re-selling my tickets. That’s when it occurred to me that I had enough airline points for a free flight to PSP. (Palm Springs) Though I normally wouldn’t have thought of Palm Springs, it was genius. It was a direct flight from YWG (Winnipeg). With no connections, that meant I could fly out the morning of the game.  I cashed in my points for the ticket, and arranged a rental car. Even in traffic, it would take 2 hours or less to drive to the arena.

The last piece of the puzzle was a hotel. Considering the trip was completely focused on the big game, I used Hotwire.com. Any well-rated area hotel would do.

It was mere days later that we were off and racing to Anaheim. The flight was on time and we arrived in plenty of time for the game. With the rental car safely parked at the hotel we grabbed a cab to the rink. We met up with dozens, maybe even a hundred like-minded fans at a nearby pub and then made our way to the game. While our team did not win, it certainly was a victory for the sports fan. What a memorable experience!

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From this event, I offer 2 tips.

  1. Check your loyalty clubs. You might just nab a free last minute flight. Huge savings over steep last minute cash prices.
  2. If you are going with a few people, consider renting a car/driver at the airport, rather than choosing your own rental car and fumbling with GPS and a stressed designated driver. We ran into a group of 8 that had hired a limo to/from Palm Springs. At a cost of about $100 per person, I thought they were genius.

 

When your team hits the playoffs for the first time in 20 years....
When your team hits the playoffs for the first time in 20 years….

 

Game 2 of the series.
Game 2 of the series.

That time on a paddleboard.

There was only really one thing that I wanted to do in Hawaii that trip, learn to paddleboard. And by learn, I mean do it successfully enough to get a good picture.  Isn’t that what it’s all about nowadays anyway, just getting that next great Instagram photo?

At my age, I should get a ribbon just for participating!  Isn’t that the thing though? You just want to be able to show your kids that you’ve still got it. Be one of the cool moms, one of the moms that gets the likes on Instagram, not the laughs on YouTube. One of the moms that doesn’t fall flat on her face and go stomping off the beach cursing.

There’s a lot of pressure on vacation. Pressure to enjoy yourself, get along with your family, source picture worthy food, get good value for what you’ve already spent and learn everything from the region’s history to the state flower so you can share it on your blog. (Haha. I never learn about the state flower. There’s wikipedia for that!)

Good thing I’m a rockstar under pressure. (As the mom to a hockey goaltender, it’s in my DNA.) I’m pretty sure that’s why the kids always volunteer me to go first, I’m good under pressure.  First to catch the wave during surf lessons, first to try that new sushi place, first to open the hotel closet door. Yeah, you could say I’m their leader (read… family guinea pig).

So when I rented the paddleboard that day, I signed the waiver form and listed my “next of kin” as the hotel bartender, not the kids waving and pointing my way. But it’s all good. Grab that camera, mom’s got this!

 

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