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.

Left turn at Livorno

I was thinking about road trips yesterday and thinking about planning a little something. Then, I was suddenly reminded of my last wrong detour.

Livorno, Italy.

See, I had this idea that, according to the map, we could just take the train (for about 3 Euros and twenty minutes) from Pisa to Livorno and see the coast. It appeared to me… that we were just “that close” to the sea, and coastal greatness.

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“Coastal greatness” was not immediately apparent when we stepped out of the train station. There were beautiful palm trees, but not much else that made a couple of Canadian gals wanted to hang around. The industrial area and a lack of tourist information or people willing/able to speak english to help us out, had me second guessing my “see the coast” plan.

Then, we saw this sign. Didn’t feel like a good sign.


However, it was daylight, and we were up for adventure, we decided to venture forth and take a quick glance around town, on foot.

We discovered casinos, and casino-like places where one could gamble among a few lovely palm trees. Thinking maybe this could turn out to be a lucky detour, I put a 2Euro coin in a slot machine. Nope… not a winner. That was enough of a sign. We bought our train tickets back to Florence and grabbed snacks for the road.

At the snack shack, I gambled on a little green jar of pear juice. An Italian specialty, it said. Loved it! That juice was amazing. Definitely memorable. Thank you Livorno.

There are no wrong turns. Just experiences.

Just a lovely bit of architecture on our walkabout

Better stories start with travel. 

Road trip ready

If your best friend dropped in today and said… “we leave tomorrow” could you do it? Would you do it?

What holds you back?

Work waits, I can assure you that. Haven’t you ever been knocked off your feet sick? The world stops for those two or three recovery days and believe me, when you get back, work will still be there. So, instead of being sick, couldn’t you just take a quick vacation?

Could you be the instigator? Could you grab the golf clubs or the bikes and your best friend and just hit the open road? All you need is music and a sense of adventure. Buy a clean t-shirt at the first souvenir stand and send a postcard home!

I tell you, better stories start with travel. Write yours, it’s a great adventure, I know it!

Wouldn’t you like to cruise, old school?

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.

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.

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





Coolest thing to do with your Valentine! Literally.



Vist Churchill Manitoba! Did you think I was going to say that?

You could go for Valentine’s Day weekend and (hopefully) see the northern lights. This trip could be surprisingly affordable. I just learnt that you can book a flight to Churchill, Manitoba from Winnipeg for 1400 Air Miles or less! (Flights Feb 13 – 15th, 2016 available at 1380 Air Miles.)

See, this is actually an amazing thing, because if you were to pay the cash price for the fare with Calm Air, it actually ranges between $688 and $1900 for a return ticket.

See the bargain? Staring to think it’s cool yet? The total taxes on the flight is $95. Not bad, eh?

There are just a few hotels in town, and they are not the Fort Garry, but, they will certainly do for an adventure weekend. At $139 (or less with a CAA discount) you can appreciate this opportunity for a bucket list experience. The Tundra Inn will pick you up from the airport too!

If the weather works, you could go dog sledding.  There are bed and sled packages available through Blue Sky Mush. ($400 for 3 nights accommodation PLUS a dog sled tour for 2 people!) Or, just a sled event is about $90 per person. www.blueskymush.com

But for everything Churchill, you need to check out the website.

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If you would like to go in July, or August which is peak tourist season, you might still be able to get your bargain flights off Air Miles (1400 Air Miles/1200 in low season), but hotels and tours will cost at least double. It’s simply supply and demand, and you are definitely wise to book early.

Via Rail also offers transportation between Winnipeg and Churchill. It is a 2 day ride and will cost between $400 (economy seat) and $1200 (cabin with meals) per person, round trip.

As a bucket list trip, I think it’s an amazing possibility. And it’s in our own backyard! At about $400-$500 per person, for 3 nights accommodation, air fare, meals and an activity, I think most Canadians would be envious. (Bargain price noted as with Air Miles redemption.)


Churchill in June. A field of fireweed highlights the landscape of Churchill in June. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)
Churchill in June. A field of fireweed highlights the landscape of Churchill in June. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)


Beluga whales, as seen in June on tour with The Churchill Experience. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)
Beluga whales, as seen in June on tour with The Churchill Experience. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)


Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling
Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling


Tundra Inn

Everything Churchill

Manitoba Tourism

The Churchill Experience

Blue Sky Mush

Assiniboine Zoo Polar Bear Conservancy 

Learn about polar bears

Via Rail to Churchill