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Deal Alert: Toronto $185

Nope, $185 isn’t for a one night stay in a Toronto hotel. It’s for a round trip Westjet flight. Taxes and airport fees included!

It’s an unadvertised deal. A price match to New Leaf’s bid for Canada’s business. You won’t find this deal on Westjet’s twitter feed or on a fancy rotating banner on their website. Heck, it doesn’t even register on their ‘best price calendar.’ But it’s there!

Prices subject to change without notice. Grab a deal while you can. Maybe take in a Blue Jay’s game in late April? Or jet away with your girlfriend for a romantic February weekend in the big city.

You’re welcome!

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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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Better stories start with travel.

There was this time in the Bahamas….  And just saying that, you know I’m going to start reminiscing about beaches and sharks and start telling you of the adventures we had. In turn, it’s going to remind you of a beach you enjoyed and you’ll share with me too. And we’ll both smile and get a little break from our day to day routine. It’s a wonderful thing.

And that’s why I’m convinced that “better stories start with travel.”

There’s really no point in me trying to start at the beginning or give you my history of travel. It’s better that we just jump right in. Travel is a fluid, ever changing thing. And it’s something very different and very personal to each individual. So that’s why I’ll never try to tell you the whole history, or the whole (boring) story of a trip. I’ll hit the highlights, give you the background to the amazing photo or tell you a funny tale of what went wrong.

I’m not a perfect traveller. There are no perfect trips. I do have some pretty amazing photos though. And I intend to show you a whole lot of them! If anything catches your eye, do ask about it. I’ll be happy to share the details.

In the last year or so, I’ve been to Quebec, California, Nevada, Colorado, British Columbia, Alberta, Hawaii, North Dakota and Jamaica. Each at my own expense. Sometimes there are bargains I just can’t pass up. Sometimes there’s a big game I just can’t miss. I can be pretty spontaneous. But more often than not, I just need a quick break from work so I can re-charge my batteries.

You can count on regular updates to the blog. If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to for the last three years, you can check out my blogger site Escape the 204. “204” is the area code for Manitoba Canada. It’s a great place to live, but you really have to travel and escape once in a while to truly live. That’s where the name comes from. It was also well read for the bargains I posted. I seem to have an eye for that kind of thing.

I can’t wait to get to know you, the reader too. I look forward to your comments and your travel suggestions too!

Cheers,

Cathie