Got miles but no plans?

Aeroplan miles can add up nicely if you use one of their points collecting credit cards. But what if you can’t travel right now?

You can definitely redeem your points for other valuable perks, like Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 11.06.27 PM gift cards. Here are just a few samples of what Aeroplan has available you right now.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 11.08.27 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 11.05.19 PM

3 Tips to more travel

Want to travel more, but it never seems to be in the budget? Here are 3 quick tips that can help you get on track to becoming a frequent flyer.

  1. Make a list of all the places you’d like to go. Dream big and list them all! Rather than getting your heart set on one destination, open your heart to a full range of destinations and then take them in whatever bargain order they present themselves.
  2. Enrol in a rewards program and start using it! Collect points whether they be Air Miles, Avion, Aeroplan, or Marriott Rewards. Use points to start subsidizing travel.
  3. Use technology.  APPs like Kayak and Sky Scanner to automate your searches. Each will alert you to price changes and can let you know which are the best dates to travel. Also, participate in travel forums and keep watching local travel blogs.
    IMG_1793-2
    A view of the City of Florence skyline.

    I really wasn’t thinking about a trip to Italy, but when a bargain flight of $583 popped up, I decided to go for it! I spent 8 days in Florence earlier this year and it was an absolutely fantastic time! Being open to new destinations really helps stretch the budget. I want to see the world (affordably) and it really doesn’t matter in what order I do it. 

But my town has nothing to offer

Have you ever said this? “My town has nothing to offer.”

Travel can help.

IMG_3766
Nothing but blue sky, open road and red rocks.

Here’s the thing. When YOU travel, you see and experience new things. Perhaps you come home with a business idea or a fabulous way to plan events or promote your own industries.  Or perhaps, in your travels you meet a friend and invite them to visit your community at some time.  That helps your town. You help your own town by travelling and returning with new ideas and renewed energy.

The other side of the coin is when you INVITE tourists to your community, you stimulate the economy. You see, when tourists come to visit, they stay in your hotels and eat at your restaurants and buy souvenirs in your shops.

Staff that work in the tourism and hospitality industries are often students, and when you put money in the hands of students (through employment), they SPEND it. That’s a good thing…. no, it’s a great thing! When your part time worker is not burdened by a mortgage or a heavy debt load, they spend money on dining and clothes and car repairs and social events etc.  Their disposable income is much more than the burdened family, so these part time employees are injecting new money into the economy rapidly.

It’s the circle of LOCAL. When a student shops locally, with their paycheque, they help shop owners provide additional jobs, which in turn pays for groceries, and car sales, which pays for taxes and health care, which pays for music lessons and birthday parties and so on and so on.

But what if  you’re back to the stumbling block of “our town has nothing to offer?” That’s impossible! I offer you Pisa, Italy as an example. Simply a small community with a bell tower built on swampland, that started to lean and a builder who never took credit for the error. Hundreds of years later, tourists are still gawking at the sight and also paying $35 a person to climb the legendary example of construction gone wrong.

So, I believe every town absolutely has something to offer! You just have to look at things a little differently. See things from a new angle! And invite the tourists to come.

IMG_1831

 

Should I take a camera?

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 3.56.45 PM

Should I take a real camera on my vacation? Is it worth the hassle, the effort and the expense of having a second device when my iPhone is always in my hand?

In my opinion, yes. For three reasons:

1) if it’s a once in a lifetime vacation, photos of your kids or your parents, you need quality prints of these treasures.

2) iPhone cameras, even the latest generation, do not take a photo that can print greater than 4×6.

3) Have you ever known anyone who lost their phone? And it wasn’t backed up. Yeah, that.

 

 

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?

 

Cash Back from North Dakota

When was the last time you were in North Dakota? Do you still have your receipts?

Did you know that Canadians are eligible to claim their sales tax back on purchases made in North Dakota? You can even file your paperwork on-line.

Simply go to the North Dakota government page and select the “Canadian Refund Online Application.”

Purchases of food, lodging and gas are not eligible for a tax refund, however take-home goods like electronics, clothing and toys are.

You have up to 3 years to submit receipts and claim your refund.

Links:

North Dakota Government

Eligibility