Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fast 5 Travel Tips: Mom, get in that photo!

5 Reasons to let go of your anxiety and jump in that photo.

1. Do it for your kids.  Let them have photos of their mother. They love you whether your hair is 'done' or not.

2. Stop feeling like a caretaker and more like a participant! It's your vacation too. Being included in the photo helps you feel included in the fun. Anything else is alienating.

3. Drop the excuses and be authentic. You wouldn't tell your best friend that she's too fat to get in a photo.... so why would you do this to yourself?

4. You will never be younger than you are today. (Even if you feel tired, ugly or grumpy, you will still never ever be younger!) Just smile!

5. Do it for your kids. Yes, I know this was the #1 reason, but honestly, it bears repeating. If you constantly tell your kids that they should go without you or that you don't NEED to be in the photo, or you don't want to JOIN the family, they might start automatically excluding you, or worse yet, they grow up and model the same behaviour thinking they, themselves, are not WORTHY of inclusion.

5 Fun Travel Sites

Can't sleep? Why not take a peek at these fun travel sites.

1.  : Exposing the photo fakeouts of travel sites and brochures. Eye opening for sure.

2.  : Great giggles from their photo fails.

3.  : For bucket list travel ideas. Great multi media site. You could literally surf this site for hours. Do check out their list of 10 best value destinations.

4. for quotes, inspiration & stunning photos.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

5. for insider tips on places like Disney World and everything travel related.

Monday, June 22, 2015

$497 tax in for The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

Nice deal on a swanky hotel. Two dates to choose from at this price. Monday July 6th, or Monday July 13th. Departing out of Winnipeg, with direct flights in both directions.

Book with or your favourite agency.

Fast 5 Travel Tips: Don't jump off a bridge

5 Reasons why it's better to plan a vacation rather than jump off a bridge.

1. There are no cool souvenirs to collect if you jump off a bridge. But there are lots of postcards, cheesy t-shirts, shot glasses and keychains to collect on vacations.

2. You can only jump off a bridge once. You can plan several vacations. Go on vacations as often as you need to.

3. People try to talk you out of jumping off a bridge. No one ever tries to talk you out of going to Disneyland or the Caribbean.

4. Jumping off a bridge is a very public and messy thing. Vacations can be as beautiful and discreet as you want them to be.

5. Your family will hate it if you jump off a bridge whereas, your family will cheer and overwhelm you with hugs when you tell them you're taking them on vacation.

Bridge 0.....Vacation 5

#Vacation for the win!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Old School Road Trip: Great Memories

"Remember that time we stayed in East Coulee, Alberta?"

It's a line guaranteed to bring laughter and a smile to my face. It's a moment shared with my dad and brother, of a childhood road trip gone bad.

I spent several July trips on the road with my brother and dad. It was our thing. As soon as school was out, dad would get his "week". (Divorced family)  Literally, the school bell rang, and the three of us would pile into his vehicle (the 80s Citation, the mid-life crisis Audi, or the 'we're-doing-this-in-style-and-comfort 80s Dodge van') and head out.

Dad gave us each a roll of quarters as our own gas station/hotel vending machine money. We could buy Pepsi or play pinball any time we wanted. We had a map, a couple pillows, a 2-man tent, an electric fry pan and some sort of mascot. I remember one year's mascot as a plastic Gremlin, from that movie we all loved.

There was always a theme tape too. You know, cassettes. Like an old school car radio,  Anyone born after 1990.... just never mind, or google it if you're really interested. Huey Lewis & the news provided the soundtrack for a few vacations. If you want to make my dad smile... and bring a happy tear to his eye, play "Heart of Rock n Roll." Gets him every time.

Some years we'd head south (like to the Black Hills, South Dakota), other times west. I don't really remember an eastern vacation. Though we did go to Flin Flon, MB together, so I know we did north.

Anyways, this one time we were heading west. We had heard about this dinosaur place in Alberta that had just opened. Our plan was simple.... go home when Keith gets sick. LOL Each trip had the very same formula! No pre-booked hotels, no agenda.... just some quarters, some bologna, a map, some ball gloves and as many rest stops as necessary.  There were a couple years when we lived large. We had a screened dining tent that dad would put over the picnic table to keep the bugs away. I always thought we were rich... a dining tent for our campsite... rich. That's just how I felt in the moment. Sweet eh?

So after a few days on the road we hit the land of dinosaurs, Drumheller Alberta.  Problem is, we weren't the only ones who had travelled to see this place. There were no hotels with vacancies in the small town experiencing a tourist boom. (If you build it they will come.) So there I was, probably 14 years old, with my map and my CAA tour book trying to find us a campground. When that didn't work, we thought we'd splurge on a hotel but every place we stopped was sold out. Imagine our surprise and frustration. This was our first time ever hitting a big bunch of "no." My dad was tired of driving. It was getting dark, and late, and we still didn't have a place to stay. So we were looking for the next small town of possibilities and that's how we ended up at a sketchy (repeat SKETCHY) motel in East Coulee.

Dad had to go into the town saloon, through those crazy western shutter doors, to look for the innkeeper. Keith and I stayed in the locked car. Me... with a screwdriver in hand.  After way too much time had passed, I decided I was going in to rescue my dad. 11-year-old Keith, wasn't going to let me go alone. I put the screwdriver in my little purse and we were nervously heading to the saloon. That's when dad appeared on the sidewalk with the hotel room key on the plastic tag. (Remember those? Then you too, are old!) We were saved!

I remember that night. We got up to the room and we could still hear the bar music pounding. Dad decreed that there would be no baths. (Spiders in the bathtub made that an easy call). Everyone would sleep in their clothes, the chair would go up against the door, and we would be on the road at sun up.

Good news is that it didn't look that sketchy in the morning. Just more like a sad, abandoned town where businesses had closed and residents had chosen low taxes rather than town improvements.

But that was our night in East Coulee. We look back and laugh. I think that's also the time we started using gas station payphones to call ahead for reservations, though that might have been just a co-incidence. (Again those quarters came in handy!)

Those were good times. Very simple trips, but we sure had a lot of laughs and a lot of chipmunks as temporary campsite pets. It was a time when a hotel pool was a big deal, and we ate our campfire hot dogs with just plain mustard. I wish I had more pictures, but it was also a time when my little square camera had a manual wind, a flashbulb, and it was a splurge to get a roll of film with 24 exposures.

Those trips sure taught me life skills though. And even though I take my own kids on pretty fancy trips, I always make sure to include a sketchy detour.... for old times sake. Kidding. My sketchy detours are a result of well meaning plans gone bad too. It sure adds colour and makes for better stories.  And it is why I always say... laugh and keep going. There is no such thing as a perfect vacation. Don't let a wrong turn ruin the trip. Sometimes the wrong turns make for the best stories, and memories.

XOXOXO to my dad, for giving us his time and his best road trips, and those quarters!
Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fast 5 Travel Tips: Leave the Stress at Home

5 Tips for enjoying ANY vacation more:

1. Pack your sense of humour and curiosity. A perfect vacation does not exist. Laugh at the hiccups and keep going. Don't let one wrong turn spoil the day.

2. Leave your schedule and work at home.  Work will wait for you....this is your VACATION.  Don't skip the museum or eat in the car just so you 'can stay on schedule.' Relax and stay up a little later. Sleep in. Have brunch at 11am rather than trying to squeeze in breakfast and lunch at your usual time, or between activities.

3.  Wear bright colours and take more pictures. This moment only happens once, but your memories can last through photos.

4. Ask more questions. Ask a clerk where SHE would go for lunch. Ask a fellow traveller if he has discovered any must-do activities in the neighbourhood. Smile, and don't be shy.

5. Buy the local newspaper. Read it over coffee while you relax. You'll be surprised with what you learn, and you may even see a coupon or a local offer that catches your eye.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Say Aloha this Summer

Hawaii is blessed with nearly perfect weather year round. And lucky for us, there is year round air service to the islands.

The beauty of going to Hawaii, or any other tropical destination, in the summer is that you will pay about 40% less than in the winter and you will have smaller crowds to contend with.

I personally have travelled to the Bahamas, and the Turks 'n Caicos in July and definitely recommend it. It's been my way of guaranteeing good weather on my hard earned days off. I am frightened by the prospect of having cold, mosquito infested camping trips on my only week of holidays.

Here's a great bargain for a family of 4, with Westjet.  It's from Winnipeg to Kona, Hawaii for 7 nights.

If you're from Brandon, you can save a few more dollars and leave your car at home. The only difference is an overnight in Calgary on the way home. But, it should still net you savings over the gas and parking fees to drive to Winnipeg and fly from there. 

If you'd rather stay at the Sheraton Resort, it will just come in at about $300 more per family of 4. 

As always, I suggest reading up on Trip Advisor. Recent reviews are worth their weight in gold. They give you an accurate, real time description on what's going on NOW, and not 2 years ago and in December. 

Here's the Trip Advisor link to the island in general. See if it's the destination for you. 

If you're more interested in big city Hawaii, and lots of glamorous shopping, you would likely prefer Honolulu. If you're more relaxed and chill, you might prefer tacos on the beach in Maui.  Best head over to to see what suits you best. 

The price is sure fabulous on this trip! Flights alone are often $800 per person. Imagine getting a whole week's hotel included for just $130 more, and in Canadian funds? BARGAIN!