People over places

I work pretty ridiculous hours 9 months a year, and then I have some free time for 3 months. My first assignment each time I get to my break is to re-connect with my youngest child.

We have made a habit of taking off together, just the two of us, for a “him-cation.” It’s all about him. He can choose the destination (within reason), choose the activities and even choose where we eat. He says “please” and I say, “yes sir!”IMG_0637

When he was little, he chose a Disney cruise. That was great fun! Though the ship had dozens of activities and excursions, all he really wanted to do was play soccer on the upper deck. If I wasn’t out there playing with him, I was sitting on a lounge chair watching, and reading a book.

As I became a fixture on the deck, watching my son, Cast Members generously brought me new books. Even other passengers offered magazines. It was sweet. Everyone aboard was very thoughtful. I enjoyed their enquiries and visits.

In the evenings we’d sit on the pool deck and watch the movies and eat pizza. Every night he went to bed happy and feeling loved. While we didn’t maximize our Disney activities, we sure had fun. Neither of us will ever forget it.

Fast forward to this year’s “him-cation” and he chose Carli. What’s Carli? Actually, it’s a who. She, is a fabulous person that I used to work with and son remembers oh so fondly from his childhood.

Carli moved halfway across the county to attend university. He missed seeing her around town. We all did. So when he asked if this year’s trip could be to see Carli, I gave her a call and then bought the plane tickets.

IMG_0658-2
Exploring the shores and looking for wildlife

She showed us the university, where she worked, and where she liked to hike. We had a blast! She remembered him as a little boy and catered to little boy things… like finding blue crabs to “race” on the beach, logs to walk on and waterfalls to admire.

My take away message here is that it’s not always about the destination, it’s about the people you share your time with and the memories you make. The best vacation ever… can happen absolutely anywhere.

IMG_0662-2
Choose your own path to adventure! It’s YOUR vacation.

 

 

 

 

Travel light, but travel right!

Though I was never actually at risk of packing Crocs, a fanny pack or tube top, I do think it’s important to review your packing list for trends, local customs and potentially embarrassing faux pas for every single trip.

For example, you will not be permitted in churches, for service or tourism, if you have bare knees or shoScreen Shot 2016-02-15 at 10.25.07 PMulders in Italy. Similarly modest attire is expected in Dubai, and extends beyond mosques to include public spaces such as shopping malls.

Pinterest is a great resource for visual packing lists. Perfect for pulling together whole outfits and seeing the latest fashions. And travel blogs for notes on the local customs and real-life experiences.

Of course, make sure you have seasonally appropriate clothing in your luggage. You don’t want to get caught without a raincoat if it’s rainy season on the coast.

Regardless of destination, I won’t leave home without a hat, slippers and good walking shoes.

The hat for hair emergencies, weather issues, and a chic look.

The slippers for my tired tourist feet when I get back to the hotel. Even soft little ballet slippers do the trick and take up no luggage space. Oh, and because…hotel carpet.

Walking shoes. I walk and walk and walk on vacation. I feel that it’s one of the most effective ways to explore a destination and really see things. No one likes blisters from silly trendy shoes that look good but are not practical.

What’s the one thing I tend to forget? Believe it or not…. sunglasses! This is my blind spot, my forgotten amenity. I typically leave them in the car when I reach the airport. And as a result, I’ve had to buy replacements on the road a few times.  I have the funny yellow ones from Bermuda, the glitter crusted ones from Vegas and the cheap ones that broke after an hour in California.

And when it comes to volume, pack less than you think you need. Infact, just pack half, if your hotel has a guest laundry room on site. Truly, I’d much rather spend 1 hour doing laundry while on vacation, than drag around twice the wardrobe and pay a checked bag fee.

Do you overpack? What are your tips for travelling light and travelling right?

 

Disney Cruise Twitter Party

If you’d like to learn more about a Disney Cruise, their home ports and destinations, there’s a Twitter Party taking place February 3rd, 8pm Eastern/7pm Central.

What’s a Twitter Party? It’s an on-line event hosted by a moderator(s) and focuses on one company or activity. It is an audience participation event. You can follow along on Twitter using the designated hashtag and following the moderators’ accounts. Typically there are prizes to win for participation. The event lasts just one hour, so mark the date and time on your calendar.

The hashtag for this party, which is open to Canadians only, is #Disneyfamilytravel.

The host is @listentolena

The Disney Cruise Line official account is @disneycruise

There are $1200 in prizes available to be won!

Did you know that the Disney Wonder sails a Vancouver to Alaska route each summer? They have been since 2011. If you’d like to know more about that specific route, do ask me. I quite enjoyed that cruise and so did my kids.

See you at the #disneyfamilytravel Twitter party this Wednesday!

 

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!

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.31.27 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 11.56.41 PM