A week in Moncton, NB $660

Combining today’s flight sale, with a hotel, through Expedia.ca I’ve managed to find some coastal bargain holidays!

This is a week in Moncton, flight, hotel and taxes included! October 24-November 1st, 2016

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Or if you’d prefer a few days in Victoria? How about 5 days/4 nights at a beautiful coastal hotel, $555 tax and flight included?

 

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Sample prices and packages as of 2pm, September 1st. Prices subject to change and sell out without notice.

Air Canada’s Winnipeg Sale is on until midnight September 1st.

 

Turks and Caicos Getaway

Work has gotten a little chaotic this summer. And while I DID escape for a few days, I haven’t had a moment to write about it.

I want to do a great job on this series, (since it’s one of my favourite places on earth), but until I can sit down and do a proper job, I offer you these photos.

Each is unedited, taken by me, August 2016. On my Canon camera.

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Grace Bay Beach
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Pier on Grace Bay Beach, near the future site of the Four Seasons Resort
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Sunset on Grace Bay Beach
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Loungers and view at the Royal West Indies Resort
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Parasailing over calm waters

 

Tips for seeing Kelowna and the Okanagan

1) Rent a car.

There are lakes, resorts and towns; wineries, national parks and historic sites abound. There’s literally something worthwhile to visit every 20 minutes, so you’ll want to stay mobile and cover some ground. The highway 97 north from Kelowna is double lane to Vernon and then single lane (with passing lanes) to the Trans-Canada and Revelstoke. I found it beautiful driving in the sunshine. Though I’m sure it would be more challenging in the winter and poor weather.

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One lane bridge over the Columbia River
Waterfall outside just outside the town of Revelstoke, BC
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Rock monument at Centennial Park in Revelstoke

2) Stay flexible.

Don’t over-plan or over schedule yourself. There is something around every corner that you’ll want to stop and see. For example. We had no idea that we wanted to go to a Kangaroo Farm. But when one of the tourism kiosk volunteers told us about it, and it was only 10 minutes away we decided heck ya! And now we’re going to recommend it to everyone we meet. Kids and youth admission is just $5, adults $10, or if you arrive before 10AM, everyone is just $5. (Cash only and at the gate. No advance tickets)

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Kangaroo Farm. 10 minutes north of the airport. See my friend the albino wallaby.

3) BC… Bring Cash

Roadside stands, u-pick fruit, and places like the kangaroo farm were cash only. And things in BC tend to be a little bit more expensive than on the prairies. For example, gas. In Winnipeg it was 96.9 cents per litre. In Kelowna 1.14 and in Revelstoke 121.9 on the same day.

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4) Save room for fruit and wine in your baggage allowance.

You don’t have to worry about packaging, or even making a stop on your way to the airport, YLW has it all conveniently inside the departure lounge. Once you’re past security, you can pick up a couple bottles of regional wine. They’ll even pack it in a carry-on approved box. (Bottle packs for 2 or 4)

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New Farm to Flight program. Packed fresh fruit for sale in the boarding lounge. A “suitcase” of peaches was $12.95
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Wine store at Kelowna Airport, past security and in the boarding lounge.

Teens and travel: Posting from Revelstoke BC

I love to travel with my kids and take every chance I get.  You see, I feel like there’s a pending expiration date. I really feel like our time together is limited. Right now my son is 14, but I know it won’t be long before he’s 18 and an adult and travels exclusively with his friends, or (gasp) a girlfriend. So, I’m honestly making a conscious effort to spend time with him now.

This takes me out of my comfort zone. A lot. It’s a constant challenge to plan and search out things that would appeal to him and his teen sense of adventure. I know it’s a time in their lives where they push boundaries, but I can tell you, that as a parent, I feel like I’m the one constantly outside my comfort zone.

Like today. Where truthfully, I’d rather be sitting on a patio sipping a cocktail and reading, I found myself looking at bike rentals, white water rafting brochures and considering ziplines. Yikes.

I’m not telling you that I’m going to do all these things. And I have no interest in being the coolest mom on the planet. BUT, I do want to show my son how to travel and explore.

Here are 3 ways in which I achieve my goals without having to do it all.

  1. Enlist help. Do you have a cool uncle, a friend or somebody in your life who regularly does the activity you’re considering?  Have your teen hang with them for the day. This makes you the awesome mom who can hook them up. This gives your teen a taste of independence and another adult role model.
  2. Let your teen take the lead. Let them find, research and pay for the activity. When it’s their own money, they tend to consider their choices more carefully. It shows them that you can’t do EVERYTHING you see in a brochure.
  3. Look for hotels with added value or partnerships. Does your hotel offer a stay and play package? Ask at the front desk or concierge. The more you ask, the more you learn. You’d be surprised how many tour companies actually pick up at the hotel and offer door to door experiences. There’s so much more than “kids’ club” available. For example, we were staying at the Westin Kierland in Arizona and while a round of golf was well over $200, they offered golf lessons for kids and teens at $25. Or when we stayed in Revelstoke BC, the cabins didn’t have a pool. but they offered FREE passes to the city’s Aquatic Centre.
    The best advice I can give, is to admit to your teen that you don’t know everything and that you haven’t been everywhere. When you learn and travel and explore together you do more than just vacation, you make memories and you make them stronger and more capable in doing so.

Hotwire: Saskatoon

Roadtrip is not my first choice for travel adventure, but this time, I have personal reasons for making the trek.

Our first stop would be Saskatoon Saskatchewan. It’s my first time in the city and I won’t have time to explore. It’s simply a bed, breakfast and gas stop.

I was very surprised to learn that on a Tuesday night, the going rate for hotels was $170. Whether I checked Expedia.ca, Trivago.ca or the hotel sites themselves…. nothing for under $170. Best Western, Mainstay, 4Points, Courtyard, Holiday Inn… I checked them all.

So, we waited to the last minute to book something. And went with Hotwire.ca

We chose a 2.5star hotel, in the north side of Saskatoon, at $106 per night. Included free parking, free breakfast, WIFI and had guest laundry. As per Hotwire, it had a 95% approval rating. So, that was good enough for me.

We got the Country Inn and Suites. It’s right next to the Sandman Hotel and has a Denny’s restaurant adjacent.

Check-in was smooth, free coffee in the lobby. Rooms were big, the bedroom was separate from the sitting room which boasted a pullout couch, wet bar and microwave. Though the decor was dated, and the room bothered my allergies (probably the carpet) it was absolutely fine. Actually, for $106, it was great!

We went next door to Denny’s for dinner. It was as anticipated, mediocre. Factory prepared food, assembled and microwaved on location. But, I will say that the server, Jenn, was really great. She did her job well and we left her a large grat.

The breakfast at the Country Inn & Suites was actually fabulous! Cereal, 4 types of juice, bagels, muffins, waffles, Canadian bacon, omelettes and more. I was surprised and very impressed with the actual fruit (looked like thawed frozen berry mix) and the actual dairy whipped cream for the waffles. I’m really fussy and won’t ever eat cool-whip or the like. Two thumbs up for the top quality food and selection at the breakfast room.

So, a good day. Decent pit stop. My son would give the hotel/Denny’s a slightly higher rating though… as he found 4 different Pokemon characters in the parking lots here and two more in the lobby of the Country Inn.  That made him very happy.

Pokemon Go: Good for tourism?

From New York’s Central Park to the little Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, North Dakota, the phenomenon that is Pokemon Go, is taking over.

Since its release, less than a week ago, the on-line gaming APP has become the best seller on iTunes, has rocketed Nintendo’s stock up in value by 25% and has everyone talking.

Where I noticed it, was on a Monday morning, in a small US city. We were visiting from Canada (where Pokemon Go is yet unreleased) and as tourists we were deliberately in the park to learn and explore. But we couldn’t help but to be distracted by the incredible number of young adults wandering around the park and all engrossed in their phones. They were stumbling about, even some bumping into each other. What was going on? Could the Scandinavian Heritage Park really be such a draw on a Monday morning?

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Nope, it was the game! My teen son alertly recognized this and filled me in. To be certain, I bravely asked a group of guys if they were playing the Pokemon game and they enthusiastically explained it to me and showed me their phones. Apparently, there’s 134 characters to catch and battles that take place in “gyms.” You basically wander about chasing these on-line characters in a hybrid-reality. You can set “lures” to attract character and also other players.

25 foot tall Swedish Dala Horse. A character in the park, NOT the Pokeman game
25 foot tall Swedish Dala Horse. A character in the park, NOT the Pokemon game

But what does it all mean to tourism? Most of these meeting places in the game are public spots…tourist centres, churches, parks and the like. And when you are at a location, little info bubbles pop up on your screen, so as a player if you wanted to learn about where you were located, you certainly could. Of course, you could also actually look up from your phone and see the buildings and sites around you as well.

I chatted with a tourism host at the Scandinavian Heritage Park. She said it was ‘absolutely packed’ on Sunday with Pokemon Go players. She’d never seen so many people. Was that good for business though? Maybe. It was in fact putting this park on the radar of a younger audience. And it was certainly causing a buzz around town, getting the gamers out of their homes and into city streets and public places. But were there increased sales, revenue or even signatures in the guest book? No. Not yet anyways.

What do you think? Is this a new breed of gamer-tourism? Is this going to change the way people travel and interact or are we cluttering public places and creating new obstacles?  Is this the new selfie…being seen in a hybrid on-line/reality game?

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The Gol Stave Church Museum over my shoulder. A Norwegian wood building, made without nails.

Link to a CBC News’ piece on the phenomenon.