Friday, January 23, 2015

Fast Five: Reasons to dress well on vacation

Do you dress better at home or on the road? Is your vacation also time away from your suit and tie? Well there's still no reason to dress like a slob! Be your best self on the road too.

5 Reasons to dress well on vacation:

1. You take more photos on vacation. Don't look back at your Eiffel Tower photos and frown because you're wearing ugly old clothes.
2. Dress well and get the upgrade at the hotel front desk.
3. You never know who you will meet.
4. You will be less inclined to spend a bundle on new clothes in the tourist shops, if your suitcase already has some great looking garb.
5. Sweatpants are for Sundays at home.

I once got moved from the back of the concert, right to the front. The usher said 'I was too pretty to sit in the back row.'  Glad I wore the red dress that night!

My original seat

Moved right up to the front 

Rod Stewart concert at Caesar's Palace

Live well. Travel often. Share the journey.

If that moment should come, and your life flashes before your eyes.... make sure it's worth watching!

Do you live well?  That is not to say richly, but instead, authentically. Are you present in the moment? Are your eyes wide open to witness the miracles that surround you?

Travel often. To travel the same path over and over, is to lose sight of all perspective. To travel and push beyond your boundaries will show you your place in this world, and make you appreciate all that you have. Every journey you take leads to a broader wisdom and deeper understanding.

Open your eyes. To see the mountains yourself is lovely. To show the mountains to your children, is to leave a legacy.

To confidently go forth and show your children how to respectfully explore and navigate and surf the ocean is far better than to allow them to hide away in their bedroom and explore and navigate and surf the Internet. To let them isolate themselves and be disillusioned into thinking they can see the world by clicking a button or tapping a screen is ridiculous! Take them to navigate a city, explore a museum and click with human beings. And if they think you're a pretty great parent in the process, well then so be it. And if you've shared a laugh and enjoyed the ride, then it is indeed a life well lived.

Whistler, site of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games

Invited into the cockpit

Canadian Parliament


Red Rock, Colorado Springs

NASA, Houston Texas

A real space shuttle

The brave men & women of the space program

Crossing provinces on the railway

Deciding to tackle the roller coaster. Disneyland, California

His first NFL game 
Sitting sideline at the Houston Texan's game. 


Arcade in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Meeting Merlot, the hotel's resident parrot.

Delayed by a storm

Yes! You can do it! 

Kayaking for the first time
C'mon Mom! We'll do this together

Exploring the green grotto caves of Jamaica 
The sandy shores of Jamaica

Navigating a new city

Always learning. Always exploring. Living is learning. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Two for Tokyo

Here's a last minute bargain I spied out of Toronto.  But when you re-search using the YWG airport code, indeed you can grab the same deal from home, at a slightly better price.

The lesson in this is, if you are flying one of the major airlines and see a bargain leaving from a hub (major connecting airport) then, try the same search with your own city as origin. You may end up paying $100 more for that same vacation starting from home. Or, in cases such as this, you might even find a better bargain.

Air Canada from Toronto

Air Canada, from Winnipeg

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Comparing Curacao

A year later, I can write about a similar bargain. Isn't that fabulous? It means we're staring to see some patterns and add greater value to the posts that I continue to dutifully write. You should be able to predict now, with some level of accuracy what will go on sale and when.

Last year, in early February, I noted that Air Canada had a trip to Curacao that was of interest.  It was $1450 including taxes for a one week trip to the Hilton, March 14-21st, 2014.

2014 Air Canada Pricing

2015 Air Canada Pricing

Now, here in 2015 the same trip will cost $1443, or "the same" when taken March 6 to 13th, again at the Hilton Hotel. 

So if Curacao is on your travel bucket list, like it is on mine, you know approximately what you will have to budget for in order to make this a reality next year. 

In the mean time, start dreaming and start planning your trip to Curacao!

Blushing with pride.

So I sit down next to my son, as he is talking to a friend between games at their hockey tournament, and I overhear my son saying, "my mom plans the best trips. We went to Florida and didn't even go to Disney World and it was still the best time. She knows how to find all the coolest hotels (Hyatt Grand Cypress Orlando) and usually pretty cheap."

Turns out he was offering my services and singing my praises!

Wow! That was a pretty neat feeling to hear my son giving me such a good reference. It has been and continues to be, one of my life's ambitions to design exciting life experiences for my family, through travel.

Later, I pressed my 9 year old son for a little bit more information. He says that we do a lot of great things together that other people (that he knows) just don't seem to do. (Like touching a space shuttle at the NASA museum in Houston.) And he thought his friend might like to do something similar, and we moms should talk.

I knows he sees me at the computer and hastily writing things into a notebook. (Yes, I use good old fashioned pencil and paper when hunting for a deal. I make myself a list of searches & prices in a notebook.) And I know he understands it's a process, but he was recognizing my efforts and that made me feel like a gold medalist.

One of my favourite things to do is to travel separately with my kids. It gives me the chance to see them as individuals and focus on their interests and their pace rather than trying to negotiate between 2 or more strong willed travellers. For example, the Disney Cruise to the Caribbean was more enjoyable for my younger son because he didn't have his older sibling teasing him and criticizing his choice of activities. The younger son got to fully enjoy his Disney experience, and therefore I was more relaxed and more satisfied with the outcome and value of the vacation.

Whereas the next trip, with the older boy, was a planes and trains adventure where we raced across the country with just our backpacks. Since he is very capable at leading, I let him take the reins. He really showed me what a logical thinker and a mature person he is becoming. Two totally different vacations, but perfectly suited to each and enjoyable.

I look forward to the day when perhaps, one of the boys will invite me on a vacation that they've researched and designed.  Until then, I will continue on researching and reading and planning adventures, knowing that I am leaving a lasting impression, and making some pretty cool memories with my kids.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Planning Palm Springs

If you are looking for a quick getaway with your sweetie, that isn't Vegas, you might want to check out Palm Springs, California.  It's a city that boast as many as 350 sunny days a year!

If you are looking for an adult weekend, you may wish to check out resorts and inns such as:

The Sparrows Lodge (adult only, western theme)

The Triada of the Marriott chain's Autograph Collection. (Renovated in 2014) Said to be one of the Top 10 Luxury Hotels to watch this year.

The Riviera Resort, home of the Starlight Lounge. Renovated, iconic hotel.

The Palm Springs Hotel, a boutique property where you can reserve The Sinatra Suite or rent out the whole 23 room hotel for your private party.

There are a number of LGBT friendly hotels as well. There are even clothing optional hotels in Palm Springs.

As always, check out Trip Advisor for recent reviews and traveller's photos. Finding the hotel that suits your tastes and your budget, is always the best plan.

Why Canada to Vegas is the Best Bet

So, you're looking at going to Vegas again soon, and you're wondering if it's still worth heading down to Minot or Grand Forks to catch your flight.

My answer is no.

Considering the current exchange rate, you are better to book and pay in Canadian dollars. Save your (cheap) gas and just cruise over to the local airport rather than travel 3 hours to the North Dakota airport.

There is a Winnipeg package, with direct flights to and from Las Vegas. You can stay at a premium hotel, mid-strip for about $420. Converted to American funds, you would have to find a package at $350 or less US funds to be "equal."

If you prefer to go out of Brandon, you won't have a direct flight, and you will need to add an overnight in Calgary on the way home. But that might be fun.