Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fast 5 Travel Tips: HOT HOT Deals

Black Friday sales are abound. You can cash in on travel deals right now.

Here are the first 5 offerings:

1. - flights & vacations on sale. Hot deals include bargains like this one to San Diego California. Look at those flight overnight stop in Calgary and no driving to Winnipeg on icy roads!

2. Their sale includes destinations across Canada, to the USA, plus International and Sun destinations too. You can travel until April 30th 2016 if you book during this sale. Yes, Spring Break dates ARE included.  One really great deal I spied was to Fredericton, NB. $418! Unbelievable to fly to the Maritimes on Spring Break at that low of a fare. Definitely worth the drive to Winnipeg to board that flight. 

3. Sheraton Hotels are offering 25% off on hotel rooms booked before December 6th. Book now and travel into September, 2016.

4. is a bonus savings of $15-$100 per person if you book your travel package with them.
There are great deals to Mexico, including 5 star resorts at under $1200 with taxes included.

5. On November 30th there will be a Twitter Travel Auction presented by Air Transat. They are auctioning off vacation packages on twitter. This is the second Cyber Monday auction for them. Funds raised go to charity. Last year's packages were hot sellers, with some going for $1000 less than retail. The trips up for auction will be revealed on November 27th. 

Here's a sample of one of the winning bids from last year. 

My best advice to you in shopping for travel deals this week is to act quickly. The top bargains will sell out easily. And, if it's in your budget, book your Spring Break flights now. It will be the best opportunity for savings on those popular dates. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Westjet Black Friday Sales

I object to Black Friday sales starting on Monday night, but that's pretty hypocritical of me since that's exactly what I'm going to write about tonight.

You see, the horse has already left the gate and two travel operators and a  are already showcasing their sales. has sent out their Black Friday sales notice. It's basically Cuba, Mexico and Vegas being offered on sale.  Their sales pitch is 'five star vacations at three star prices.' is suggesting they have 500,000 seats on sale and you could save up to $1000 on a vacation. I followed their link and found a sweet Florida deal in January.

If you travel January 12th to 19th with your family of 2 adults and 2 minor children you can go for $2100. That includes return tickets, taxes and hotel for 7 nights. However, the hotel included doesn't meet with my holiday standards. So, rather I would suggest a hotel like the Nikolodian Suites which would be about $2700 for the same package.

The Disney hotels are also on sale. In fact it's cheaper to stay at a Disney "moderate" that a "budget level" hotel this week.  So while it would be $3200 for your family, I feel you are getting excellent value. The Disney transportation system (which is free to use if you are staying at one of their hotels) is such a huge perk.  This package price does NOT include park passes, which are extra.

If you spy any other great travel deals, please share them in the comments. It's an exciting week if you are hoping to nab a travel bargain. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fast 5 Travel Tips: Safer Travel

There is a worldwide travel alert. The US Government issued it today.

You might scoff at that news and blow it off as a written redundancy at this point. After all, we KNOW we face risks every time we travel. In fact we know we face risks everyday in our regular lives too. Anything could happen at anytime. Nothing is guaranteed.  No office, no highway, and no college campus is truly safe. There are wildcards and variables no one could ever predict.

I get that.

But there are absolutely things you can do. You can increase your odds of avoiding tragedy.

Can you stay safe in a hostage situation?  I did.

It's not something I talk about. It's in the past. I moved on and I live a very full and blessed life. Ever wonder why I travel so much? Hug you every chance I get? Because I'm grateful for every day.

My life could have ended in a shotgun blast, near closing time, in a bar in the 1990s. It's true what people say, "you don't even know what's going on until it's fully involved, until you're right in the middle of it." A crisis experience is truly surreal.

I was a cocktail waitress, cleaning tables, loud music blaring in the background, just two customers and a few staff left in the building after a very busy night. I heard yelling but didn't think anything of it. People were always shouting, staff joking, customers tussling, it was just the normal environment. When I turned around there was, a guy maybe 8 feet away, pointing a shotgun at me, screaming for me to get on the floor. So I did. And I crawled as far under a table as I could.

The staff were rounded up into one area and held at gunpoint, while our manager was unloading the safe with a gun to his head.

The whole thing lasted less than 15 minutes, but could have been hours. Every second, every breath was terrifying.  My boss said the worst part for him, was being thrown in to the area where the staff was being held. We were all on the floor, face down, as instructed. Motionless, he thought we were dead. Yes, there was a moment in time where he believed his staff and best friends were all dead on the floor. We weren't. No one was physically injured by the 4 or 5 gunmen. So yeah, we were lucky. They took the money and got out. Not a single shot fired.

I don't really want to talk about it. I feel sick even writing about it now.

What I really want YOU to take away from this post, are these 5 tips.

1.  Have an exit strategy at all times. Whether you are in an airport waiting area, a hotel, a plane, a restaurant or a public event like a concert, know where your exits are. How do you get out in a hurry? You need to know this.

2. Choose off peak times to travel if possible and choose direct flights whenever you can. For example, a major hub like Denver or Atlanta is a greater target that Colorado Springs or Tampa Bay etc. So if you can avoid long stopovers at big hub airports, I believe you are safer.

3. Never go blindly into a situation. Research, research, research. Whether it's government travel advisories or hotel reviews, you need to know as much as you can about your destination. A fellow traveller might tell you to avoid the corner market or be wary of local transit. But they might also reassure you that you've made a great pick.

4. Leave an itinerary and check in regularly at home. If you use apps like TripCase, they give you the option to share the itinerary with a friend. I have a single friend who is a regular overseas traveller. He shares his trip plans in advance so his friends know where to "look for the body." We joke about it lightheartedly, but below the surface we all understand this is a legit and appropriate safety step we all need to take, regardless of how tough and independent we are.

5. Do what you're told. If security personnel tells you to get down, leave the area or to identify yourself, you need to ACT.  If you find yourself in a hostage situation, I would also urge you to do what you're told. If they are talking to you or shouting at you, they want to spare you. I have been told it is more likely to be shot without warning.

Be safe. Don't stop travelling. Make good choices. Live every day. Hug your family.

xo Cathie

PS. I also have emergency measures training. Just not a fact I throw around in every day conversation.

The uncomfortable topic of terror and travel

It's not a pleasing topic. But this is the new reality.

Since November 13th, 2015 and the terrorist attacks in Paris France, the world has been on high alert.

The US Government Twitter account is sending out tweets regularly, these cautioning citizens who might be in Belgium.

This isn't to say that you can't travel. But  it does mean that you need to be alert and be aware of the risks. A worldwide alert is not to be taken lightly.

On American soil they are preparing for the busiest Thanksgiving travel weekend since 2007. An estimated 48 million people will be travelling around the November 28th to 30th. Heightened airport security will result in delays and headaches for anyone who isn't prepared.

It's important to remember to give yourself plenty of time and make sure you have proper documentation with you. Have a printed travel itinerary. (Don't just rely on the info on your phone.) Keep any necessary medication with you in your carry-on luggage and make sure it is properly labelled and in its original packaging to avoid unnecessary delays.

If you are travelling by car, make sure you have an emergency road hazard kit, plus a personal first aid kit and blankets.

Stay alert and stay safe. Tune into your own government travel warnings, and be aware globally.

And even in this technology-centred world where news is an up to the minute thing,  you should still  listen to your mother's advice too.... let your family know where you're going, and call when you arrive.

Friday, November 20, 2015

You're up early Christmas morning anyway....

What about a getaway to La Paz, Mexico off the Baja peninsula?

Here's a link from theplanetD with their recent, and glowing review.

Westjet will fly you there direct, from Winnipeg Manitoba. Isn't that another bonus? No delays or connecting flights simply means more beach time. However, La Paz is a 2 hour drive from the airport in Los Cabos, Mexico.

There are two things to note about this package, as shown. These are not all inclusive packages, but the hotel does offer a free and fabulous breakfast daily.

The hotel is not a sprawling resort. It's a Hyatt Place, similar to those you would find in Minneapolis, Denver or the like.

Eco tourism activities, like whale watching, sea lion and turtle watching, hiking, paddle boarding and kayaking are some of the most popular recreation activities here.

The price is certainly a bargain. The reviews are outstanding. Will you be putting La Paz on your travel list for Santa?

This price is for 2 adults.

This price is for a family with 2 adults and 2 children. 

This is for comparison. This is the hotel price alone. (and in US $$) 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Anyone for Antigua?

Antigua is definitely on my to-do list!

Any time I get the chance to casually chat with flight crew, or other travel bloggers, I ask about their favourite beach vacations.

Antigua comes up over and over again. The British Airways flight attendants I met in Bermuda couldn't stop singing the praises of this Caribbean island. If I could have hopped aboard their flight to Antigua instead of mine, back to Toronto, I definitely would have.

Here, Air Canada is offering a week in Antigua for about $1500-$2000 per person in January. Of course the dates and resort you choose will affect the rate you pay. If I could choose any one of them, it would be Sugar Ridge!

Pre Christmas Curacao?

Do the snowflakes and icy roads have you yearning for a beach? No chance for Christmas vacation?

Well, could you go now?

Air Canada Vacations has some nice bargains to the Caribbean. This one in particular is to Curacao. Various dates carry various prices, starting at about $1100 taxes included, per person.

To start your research on the islands and what they have to offer, go directly to the source.

Curacao Tourist Board.