I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Each year, the first Monday after March Break is marked off on my calendar. I clear my schedule, drop my laptop in my handbag and make my way to my favourite local coffee shop. When the morning’s pressing emails are answered, a latte is in front of me and I’ve scanned the bakery case to decide on my afternoon treat, I dive into summer vacation planning.But it’s only March! you’re thinking. Friends, it’s the PERFECT time to plan – especially if you’re considering a family vacation to Europe, which has never been hotter (or more attainable) for family travels. Barcelona, London, and Lisbon have gained reputations for being flawlessly kid-friendly, and when you book with Air Canada Vacations, they’ll do the planning for you! Vacation packages feature a family-centric itinerary and include flights, accommodations and private airport transfers – in addition to excursions, some meals, and more! (Be sure to review the package inclusions as each package offers a unique customized experience and varies from country to country.) …
When the scent of pumpkin spice lattes and the allure of pretty blanket scarves grows old, Canadians are left with… cold weather. Time to start planning that vacation down south, eh?
For many of us, deciding where to go and what to do – and then having the entire family agree on the itinerary – can add stress to the planning process. But what if I told you that you the perfect vacation awaits? Start the car… no, really, START THE CAR!
Here are 10 reasons to Escape with Norwegian Cruise Line.
1. Proximity to the GTA. Norwegian Escape, voted 2017 Ship of the Year by Ocean & Cruise News, sails out of the Manhattan Cruise Terminal (only about an 8-hour drive from the Greater Toronto Area – very road trip friendly). Saving money on flights puts vacation dollars back in your wallet – which means you can splurge on excursions, on-board amenities or the ever-popular Ultimate Beverage Package! …
See what I did there? FALL? I know, I’m hilarious!
Now that the kids have returned to school, pumpkin spice is everywhere and temperatures will inevitably return to (gasp) single digits, there’s no better time to start planning your next family getaway. Whether it’s tacked onto a long weekend in the coming months or over the winter holidays, a little planning is key when it comes to picking the perfect resort. So grab a PSL, huddle under a shaggy throw and get ready to fall in love with Mexico!
But, why Mexico? Let me count the ways:
1. Take advantage of daily flights from Toronto (and twice daily from October 28 – April 23!) with Air Canada Vacations. That means you can customize your family vacay to suit your schedule, tastes and budget; pop down for an extended weekend getaway or take a classic 7-day all-inclusive vacation. Mexico is conveniently a 4-hour flight from Toronto, so the choice is yours – plus, save BIG when you package your hotel and flights. …
2013 – the year I was first dubbed a “Family Travel Expert” in the media. At the time, I blushed at the title, feeling undeserving of the accolades and self-conscious of my resume. Today, five years and 46 family trips later, I’m more than at peace with the designation.
There’s no doubt about it: we’re a family of travellers.
To be assured, family travel isn’t without its challenges. In addition to the obvious chores such as booking, planning, organizing, packing and managing the day-to-day responsibilities while away, vacationing with kids means that I’m also coordinating missed schoolwork, staying on top of in-flight entertainment, declining (several) requests to buy candy and accepting (several more) requests for snacks.
In short, my carry-on baggage are 8 and 10 years old – and don’t always stay where I’ve stowed them. …
It’s just about the midpoint of summer and I know some mamas are currently in the same boat:
1) The kids are bored. They’ve told us they’re bored. We know they’re bored.
2) The ratio of play time to screen time, previously planned to be about 75:25, has slowly crept up in favour of screen time. The ratio’s about 10:90 now, let’s just be honest.
3) You’d love to plan a family outing, but it’s not always easy (read: affordable) to do everything you want on a limited budget.
And to that I say… AIR MILES Summer Fun to the rescue!
Three cheers for the best time of year! There are tons of things you can see and do with the fam this summer using your Dream Miles. In fact, there’s more selection than ever for Dream Rewards under 1000 Miles, in addition to “show your card” perks where you’ll get instant savings on merchandise and experiences. This is in line with AIR MILES’ ongoing commitment to Canadians to offer new ways in which they bring Collectors closer to what matters to them! …
Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of EQ Bank. As always, all opinions are my own.
The probability you have some money set aside for a future vacation? Medium.
The probability you’ll spend that money before you book your vacation? High.
It happens much too often, I’m afraid: you’ve saved for a hard-earned, long-awaited family vacation, but before you can book the getaway you deserve… the money is spent.
Look, I’m not pointing fingers here. Usually, it’s due to an emergency financial situation, like a leaky roof, car repair, etc. And I understand – life happens. But the thing about withdrawing money from your vacation fund to pay for the unexpected means that you’ve effectively prioritized everything else over your family time together. While, in the short term, it can address an immediate concern and perhaps keep you out of debt, in the long term, forgoing time to rest, relax and recharge can be even more taxing to your health and happiness.
The bottom line: make sure your vacation funds are spent on your family vacation. …
This post was sponsored by BMO Insurance. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.
Be an adult, Susan.
Look, most of us have made some pretty sketchy travel decisions in our youth. Whether it’s staying at a 1.5-star motel or taking that red-eye flight to Vegas (bonus points if you stayed at a sketchy motel in Vegas), there’s no doubt about it: we’ve likely taken a gamble or two. (Pun intended!)
But here’s the thing: we grow up, we become accustomed to daytime flights and smoke-free hotel rooms, and we begin travelling with the most precious cargo of all: our children.
Still willing to take those vacation risks? Me neither. Here’s how I do my best adulting. …
Note: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.
Sure, I know a thing or two about travelling with kids. We travel as a family, on average, eight times per year! And with four trips already taken or booked right up ’til end of June, we’re well on our way to maintaining our nomadic lifestyle in 2018.
I’m often interviewed or asked to provide tips for my favourite family travel essentials. Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection of “must haves”. Today, I’m sharing my top picks with you! …
You’ve heard it all before.
“Last minute vacations are the best way to go! You can save a ton of money!”
“Don’t ever book in advance! There are so many deals if you wait until the 11th hour.”
“Hotels will practically give away their rooms if you wait long enough.”
One word: MAYBE.
Look, I’m not here to dispute the fact that you may score a better deal if you book a last minute vacation. However, I’m here to share all the reasons you may want to book early – which, in many cases, outweigh the potential savings!
1. Half the fun is in the planning. From the moment you think it’s time for a vacation until the day you pack your bags, something subtle is happening on the inside. It goes by many names: anticipation, wanderlust, contentment, excitement, hope. It’s a feeling of expectant joy, knowing you’ve initiated a countdown and at the end of the journey: a well-deserved rest. The farther out you plan your vacation, the greater the feeling of elation you’ll experience. Plus, think of all the teaser Instagram photos!
2. You work too hard to accept your second (or third, or fifth) choice. The single most convincing reason to book early is to secure the vacation you’re dreaming of – not one that’s been slashed to sell because no one else wanted it. (Kind of crazy when you think about it in those terms, huh?) Especially during peak travel times for families, such as summer months and winter holidays, the best destinations and resorts tend to fill quickly. Don’t leave your well-earned vacation to chance. …
I am a reformed over-packer.
In fact, phrases like “emergency outfit”, “extra jeans just in case” and “after dinner shoes” were once in my vocabulary! However, a combination of checked baggage fees, managing two energetic little boys and – okay, it’s really all about the checked baggage fees – made me rethink my packing technique. Now, more often than not, we do carry on luggage only! Since we travel so often, after just one year I was able to purchase four airline tickets from Toronto to Orlando with the money I saved on checked baggage fees alone. Crazy, huh?
Today, I’m sharing a few of my fave tips for travelling with carry on luggage only!
1. Edit your wardrobe. Here are two things I want you to remind yourself of when packing for any vacation: 1) plan whole outfits, not items of clothing, and 2) people RARELY (if ever) notice or care what you’re wearing. Seriously. …
My family loves to cruise. In fact, we are so into taking cruise vacations that it’s often the first thing I recommend to friends and family – especially if they’re looking to unwind at a more leisurely pace. However, as much as I adore exploring the high seas while indulging in all-you-can-eat ice cream, cruising can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never cruised before and don’t know what to expect. Here are 10 tips to ensure a most memorable cruise vacation.
1. Do your research. Are you travelling with young ones – in which a family-friendly ship would be more your speed – or are you vacationing with older children, who would prefer a more sophisticated experience? On-board entertainment, ports of call, cabin size and options such as dining and shopping vary from ship to ship, so you’ll want to narrow down the type of cruising experience you’re looking for and then select a cruise line that can fulfill your travel desires. …
Travelling with kids is a challenge.
Let me just put that out there, lest you believe my Instagram reel is real life. (Hint: it’s not always sunshine and smiling faces.) Now don’t get me wrong; I didn’t say it was impossible, or even difficult. I simply stated the obvious: travelling with kids can (and will) throw a wrench into your best laid plans. That’s why when it comes to Mexico or Caribbean travel, I always recommend booking a quality all-inclusive resort with a reputable vacation provider, such as Air Canada Vacations. They take a lot of the guesswork out of arranging a perfect family vacation, leaving you with more time to enjoy your family and less time spent pouring over the details.
But why should you book an all-inclusive resort? Let me count the ways!
1. Convenience. Beach time, pool time, tours and excursions, restaurants – you name it – you can find it all in the same place, and often, with on-site support to assist you with your in-the-moment vacation dreams. All-inclusive vacations are packaged to maximize fun with limited planning on your end; simply decide when you want to travel, where you want to go and select from a variety of resorts that cater to families, big and small! …
Food diaries are my very favourite posts to write, like, ever. (I try not to write them on an empty stomach.) In my last post, I chatted about the benefits of breaking up long distance travel with an overnight stay. And, I may have teased you with the following photo –
One word: Om nom nom.
The in-room dining menu at Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel features fresh coastal cuisine from Harold’s Bistro, a casual dining restaurant located in the hotel lobby. Named after a customer who lunched in the restaurant every day for over 35 years (no kidding!), the Richmond hotspot welcomes guests with a warm, modern ambiance. …
It was the end of August, just before the boys returned to school. I had a million things on my mind; I needed to shop, schedule and manage… well, life. The very last thing I was expecting was a most thrilling (and humbling) invitation to paradise on earth.
You are invited to experience Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa…
At first, I was shocked. A press trip to Hawaii? Does this even happen? Is this real life?
When I calmed down, I realized that 1) I really, really wanted to go, and 2) Hawaii is really, really far away. Okay, so it’s not other-side-of-the-world far, but a good 12 hours by plane. And when you’re travelling with kids, any long distance commute requires careful planning and execution.
Here’s what I did.
1. Don’t try to do it all in one day. When I realized that Toronto (YYZ) to Honolulu (HNL) would necessitate one stop in either Vancouver or Los Angeles, I decided that I didn’t want to spend my entire day on airplanes and in airports. My boys’ threshold is about six hours before they start to go stir-crazy on flights (or, as I like to say, three and a half Disney movies), so the last thing I wanted to do was put them through 12 hours in a moving cage at one go. …
Confession: I have a dog-eared, out-of-focus photo of me dancing on a speaker at a club. It was taken on December 31, 1999 and I was partying up with my friends in Montreal. Known for its bar, lounge and restaurant scene, the vibrant city was the perfect place to ring in the new millennium.
“I love this city!” I shouted in between the second and third shot of Goldschläger. “Let’s do this again next year!” I held my sparkly flip phone up to the crowd, trying to grab a picture of the pulsing lights.
In fact, we weren’t able to get organized the following year, or the year after that. And all of a sudden, 17 years passed before I returned to la belle province. This time around, I didn’t have my sparkly flip phone with me, but I did bring along two of my favourite things.
Of course Montreal is perfect for family getaways! In fact, for those living in Ontario, I daresay it’s one of the best weekend trips you’ll take with your loved ones this fall or winter. There’s no shortage of things to do and with the city celebrating its 375th Anniversary, there’s no better time to visit!
Here’s how to make it happen. …
Last month, I travelled to Calgary to hang with a conspiracy of lemurs. (What? You’ve never done that?) I watched them forage and frolic while being directly immersed in their habitat. Frankly, it was incredible.
I know a fair amount of my readers have spent the year discovering more of our beautiful country. With Canada 150 celebrations happening from coast to coast, it’s the perfect time to explore our home and native land. And if you have plans to visit Calgary this fall or next summer, I want you to include the Calgary Zoo in your plans. Here’s why. …
I went west (for the first time ever)… and I liked it!
Friends and followers are normally surprised to learn that I have yet to fully discover Canada’s west coast. A jet setter at heart, I’ve preferred to stick to more tropical destinations, always using a sandy beach as my go-to escape. However, if there’s a time to roam our beautiful land, this is the year to do it!
Canada’s 150th birthday has inspired me to see more of our country. Last month, I received an invitation to visit the Land of Lemurs at the Calgary Zoo. Knowing it would be an excellent learning opportunity for my boys, and, selfishly, a chance to visit Alberta for the first time, I enthusiastically accepted. I made a list of things I wanted to see and do, and four hours later, we were in the heart of cow town!
I feel like we accomplished so much in three days, mainly because Calgary seems to have everything in super close proximity. We rented a vehicle for a chance to do a little sightseeing in Banff and Lake Louise, but if you cabbed it straight from the airport to downtown Calgary, you’d also have easy access to a huge assortment of activities. Here’s what our itinerary looked like. …
California, you have my heart.
On our drive home from our recent family vacation, I listened as my husband whistled to the tune of California Girls by The Beach Boys. Smiling, I realized there was only one thing wrong with the song; “girls” needed to be substituted with “vacations”.
I wish they all could be California vacations.
This is usually the part where I gush about my amazing getaway. However, if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you already know that we had an incredible time – especially the boys, who took the lead in helping us decide where to go and what to do. In fact, including them in the planning process for a trip to Southern California – an authentically kid-friendly destination – made it a vacation we won’t soon forget. And today, I’m here to show you how you can duplicate our efforts with a play-by-play of our entire itinerary.
Welcome to Kidifornia.
First, let’s go over the logistics of the trip: time of year to travel, flight options and length of stay. The great news is that there’s no bad time to visit California, but there are better times to plan your trip depending on your vacation “must haves”. If hitting the beach is high on your priority list, you’ll want to visit from May to October when the waters are more favourable for swimming. If your kids are set on visiting amusement parks like Disneyland, Legoland and/or Universal Studios Hollywood, September to November and January to May (aside from holiday weekends and spring break) are your best bets as crowds will thin with children in school. And for those who love to pound the pavement and spend the day sightseeing, January through March is an ideal time to indulge in a little shopping and take in a film festival or two; the weather is pleasant and it’s a great way to escape our Canadian winter. …
Some people visit the family cottage every weekend. Others pack their backpacks for an outdoor camping adventure. My family? Well, friends like to joke that Orlando is our home away from home.
They’re not incorrect! Looking back, we’ve visited Orlando 12 times over the past three years – most recently, courtesy of my friends at Expedia.ca as part of their #BigWorldExplorer program. (Were you following my tweets?) And there’s a reason – actually several – we keep going back.
Proximity. If you’re flying from Toronto, did you know that Orlando is only 2.5 hours away? Too true! It’s a great short-haul option and several airlines offer a direct flight from YYZ (or BUF, if you’ve found a less expensive flight via JetBlue or Southwest). The proximity makes it perfect for families with young children – I like to say that the flight is one-and-a-half Disney movies away! …
FACT: It is estimated that 30% to 70% of travellers who go to a tropical or subtropical region will have at least one episode of diarrhea, which may last three to five days.
Well, hello to you too! I normally don’t start my posts with such an attention-grabbing headline, unless of course I’m trying to grab your attention. So let’s try that again –
FACT: 98% of travellers will make a dietary or beverage mistake within the FIRST THREE DAYS of their vacation, increasing their risk of contracting enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC).
(Be smart! You should be spending your vacation on the beach, not in bed.)
If you’re thinking, “Okay Lena, you have my attention. Tell me more!” – you’re in luck! On Tuesday, January 31st, join the #HealthyTravels Twitter Chat at 8PM EST. We’ll share smart tips and information to help ensure all your travels in 2017 are healthy.
To thank you for joining us, we’ll give away 5 x $75 Shoppers Drug Mart Gift Cards – perfect for stocking up on everything you need before you head down south!
To all those travelling this March Break, wishing you #HealthyTravels!