Is it safe to travel?

Over the last few weeks there have been many questions and concerns with regards to the security affecting travel to Europe and other foreign countries. It is a major concern for many of my clients, so I thought that I would address it especially with the recent events in Germany and France.

25192079137604485_DO2EHYft_bIt is natural to question safety when traveling to a strange land and in times such as these I can see that the comfort of staying home would be someone’s first choice. As a travel advisor, I would never say to a client “yes, it is safe to travel” or “no, do not travel”. It is purely a personal choice whether to travel or not. All I can advise is to trust your judgement. You can always change your mind, right?

If you do choose to travel the best way to protect yourself is to prepare yourself. If you take precautions before you travel, you will be able to relax and enjoy your trip. Here are a few useful tips.

–    Always be aware of your surroundings and be observant.
–    Try to blend in like a ‘local’. Now is not the time to wear that Canadian flag t-shirt!
–    Never ever wander alone into alleys and side streets.
–    Don’t wave around large amounts of cash. And leave the expensive jewellery at home.
–    Use common sense! If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation.
–    Know where you are headed when you leave the airport or hotel. I like to pick up a business card from the hotel to have the address at the ready.
–    Book a tour with a reputable tour operator with travel guides.
–    Be aware of your health risks and safety before traveling. Know before you go! Visit Gov’t of Canada’s  website for up-to-date information.
–    Make a copy of your passport and keep it a separate place than your actual passport.      –   Be sure to register on the Government of Canada website by visiting  https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration.
–    Buy travel insurance to protect your travel investment.
–    For up to date information on travel alerts and advisories, please go to Gov’t of Canada website… https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories

I came across this blog from One Mile At A Time which I thought offered an honest opinion.

And lastly, the travel and tourism industry accounts for nearly 10% of the global gross domestic product, which makes it one of the most important in the world. David Scowsill, World Trade and Tourism Industry President, says that tourism can be a “driver for peace”. While the threat of terrorism may tempt some people to stay put, it’s a timely reminder that travel is a force for good.

Happy and safe travels!

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Our Trip to Iceland

IMG_4014Traveling to Iceland has always been on the top of my bucket list. I fulfilled that dream recently after spending a week in South Iceland with my daughter and 15 month old grandson. Many of us are intrigued with Iceland—this little island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It was a very unique experience and I’ve had a lot of questions…how, when, where and most of all, why? I hope this blog will answer some of those questions.

 Iceland is truly a remarkable country. Remarkable on many levels and offers visitors an extraordinary variety of experiences. Right now, it is a perfect time to visit Iceland as it is not overrun with tourists (yet). But don’t wait!

Airport: KEF Keflavik Airport
Capital:  Reykjavik, means “smoky bay”
Population: 330,000 (two thirds live in Reykjavik)
Language: Icelandic, but English is no problem
Landscape: Volcanic land but have many glaciers and natural wonders
Water: There is no need to buy bottled water when you’re here. Water out of the tap is pure, clean and tasty! Locals boast it’s the best in the world!
Electricity: 220 volts
Stay Connected: Internet hot spots can be found everywhere!

We travelled in late April, early May and flew direct (6 hour flight) from Edmonton with
Icelandair. We stayed 2 nights at the Icelandair Hotel Fludir and 4 nights at the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura. We opted for a self-drive program.Driving the South Island was very easy; the roads are mostly two lanes—some with finished shoulders, some with not. Our stay was based on visiting the South Island’s Golden Circle Route.

 IMG_3995Just a reminder that we were traveling with a toddler so we made frequent stops and our evening activities were cut short.  I have to say that our little traveler was ‘golden’ . Start them young I say. PS. We purchased him a seat on flight which enabled him to sleep comfortably. (Icelandair offers a 20% discount for children). Which was definitely worth it!

FYI! Icelandair has a stopover program from Canada allowing a stopover of up to 7 nights on your way to Europe. Icelandair flies to 28 European destinations.

HOTEL DESCRIPTIONS

ICELANDAIR HOTEL FLUDIR (3*)
One hour from Reykjavik and located 20 minutes from the Geysir and Gulfoss Waterfall. All rooms overlook a patio with garden access (odd, but door exits from the bathroom). The restaurant serves traditional Icelandic food made from organic produce. The lobby bar is a pleasant setting for a relaxing drink. The staff can help arrange activities like fishing and hiking trips. Free Wi-Fi internet access. Reykjavik city centre is a 1-hour drive away. Parking is free at the hotel.

ICELANDAIR HOTEL REYKJAVIK NATURA HOTEL (4*)
IMG_4043The hotel upgraded us to a family room upon check-in. Rooms appointed, comfy beds and all the expected amenities.

This eco-friendly hotel is next to Icelandair offices and at the Reykjavik Airport. Very closed to Öskjuhlíd Hill’s quiet woods and a short walk to the Perlan, as well as a very short walk to the Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. WiFi and gym access are free. Natura Spa on site. There is a fee to use the pool and spa (30Kr).

A fridge, tea/coffee facilities and satellite TV are standard in Icelandair Natura’s modern, soundproofed rooms. Some rooms include access to the spa. The in-house Satt Restaurant serves a breakfast buffet and Icelandic daily specials. The stylish Satt Bar is a nice place to relax and chat with others. The hotel is also home to the Icelandic Modern Art Exhibition. Other facilities include a tourist desk and bike rental in the summer time. The Icelandair Natura received the “2014 Environmental Award from the Icelandic Tourist Board” 

Free bus passes are available to all guests. The pick-up and drop-off point is in front of hotel and is an easy walk to the city. Very handy!

FYI!   There is also the Icelandair Hotel Marina in Reykjavik—right now there is lots of construction in the marina area, but I would consider staying at this hotel in the future. Great location—walking distance to everything! We also visited  the Icelandair Hotel in Vik—very nice! Great place to stay when visiting the black beaches and making your way around the Ring Road.

ATTRACTIONS AND PLACES WE VISITED (in no particular order):

Fludir: We visited the Secret Lagoon (Gamia Laugin) at Hveraholmi, the geothermal area near Fludir. We were able to visit this particular lagoon as there were no age limit compared to the Blue Lagoon. It was made in 1891 and is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. Plenty of locals were amongst the tourists, which is always a good sign. Towel rentals available. Geysir and Gulfoss a short drive away.

Laugarvatn: Smaller, but as equally as nice is a visit to the Fontana (www.fontana.is) Geothermal Baths and Natural Steam Baths (30Kr, bathing and towel rentals available). There is also a local kitchen that offers a lunch and dinner buffet daily. Three times a day, experience the Geothermal Bakery–staff explain how and show how they bake their famous Iceland bread in a geothermal ‘oven’. You can also sample the warm bread with butter (15Kr).

IMG_3931   IMG_4027   IMG_3961IMG_3775.JPG   IMG_4147

Skogafoss Waterfall, Skogar: Folk Museum and Skogafoss, a dramatic 180 foot waterfall. Hike up to the top as it’s worth the view!

Eyjafallajokull Volcano: The centerpiece of Iceland which also includes the Solheimajokull Glacier, Reynisdrangar Cliffs and Reynifjara for the black sand beach.

Thingvellir National Park: A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the geological wonders of the world where you can see the effects of the tectonic plate movements are visible (there are scuba diving experiences available here). Also was the site of Iceland’s Viking Parliament. Lots of hiking trails to enjoy the unique landscape of Thingvellir.

Gulfoss: Huge and powerful two tier waterfall on the River Hvita. It was saved during the 1920s from a dam project by the first environmental activist in Iceland. There a new coffee shop/deli and souvenir shop located here. Just a 5 minute drive is Hotel Gulfoss, recently renovated. We enjoyed a buffet breakfast here after viewing the waterfalls.

Geysir Hot Springs: Set on a hillside, we viewed violently bubbling pools and watched erupting 60 foot water spouts of Strokkur Geyser. Hiking trails here as well as souvenir shop and café.

Fridheimar: (www.fridheimar.is) is a unique food experience just outside of Reykholt. It is a vegetable farm where its main product is tomatoes. They recently opened up their greenhouses to visitors and now offer yummy lunches every day from 12-4:00 pm—and of course, tomatoes are the star. Tomato soup is always on the menu along with a variety of homemade bread and fresh cucumber salsa. As well, you may want to try their famous Bloody Mary. This was a perfect lunch stop if you’re doing the Golden Circle. There is a corral of Icelandic horses on the property.

Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa: On our last day, Amy took a bus from the hotel to the Blue Lagoon. Age limit is 2 years old. Amy purchased the Premium Package which included entrance free, silica mud mask, algae mask, use of towel, bathrobe and slippers, 1st drink of your choice. Yes! There is a swim up bar at the Lagoon. Cost was 70, the price goes up to 80 during the summer months—June to August). Reservations are highly recommended for both visiting the Blue Lagoon and bus transportation. Luggage storage available at 4 per bag.  TIP! Do not get your hair wet! The water sucks all the moisture out of it.

I Heart Reykjavik Tour: We found this tour through Audur’s Iceland blog. We met at Hallgrims Lutheran Church for a 2 hour walking tour of Reykjavik. She explained the history, culture, some of her favorite restaurants and cafes, gave us lots of hints of worthy things to see and do in Reykjavik. Well worth it….check out her blog at http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/

Reykjavik:

  • Saga Museum
  • Perlan – great view of Reykjavik from here
  •  We checked out the Kolaportio flea market near the Harpa and harbour.
  • Harpa Building, an iconic landmark in Reykjavik
  • Leif Erikson Statue and Hallgrims Lutheran Church
  • There are lots of short half day tours in and around Reykjavik
  • Hop On Hop Off City Sightseeing Bus with 15 stops

IMG_4211Puffin Tour
See puffins up close! 10,000 pairs of puffins arrive to the island of Akurey, an island known for its puffin population, just off the coast of Reykjavik between early May to August. Akurey is covered with small hills and slopes with rocky shores with is a natural habitat for these small birds. The puffin-watching boat is specially designed to get you as close to the shoreline as possible and get a close-up look at the puffins.  This tour was booked through Viator and offered pick up and drop off at our hotel.

FOOD EXPERIENCES
There are lots of great places to eat! Here is a few of our favorites. 
IMG_3987 Barjarins Beztu Pylsur (open since 1939)-an Icelandic hot dog with all the toppingsketchup, sweet mustard, remoulade, crisp fried onion and raw onions. I like mine with mustard and remoulade. You choose!
   Frodheimar grows their own tomatoes in a geothermally-heated greenhouse and produce delicious courses using the tomato has the main ingredient.
   Hotel Gulfoss – great buffet breakfast after viewing the falls. They also have a buffet at lunch and dinner a la carte. Reservations recommended.
   Halldorskaffi – Great soup and sandwich options.
   Svarta Fjaran in Vik – Great soup, both vegetarian and seafood, homemade bread and smoked salmon.
Pizza With No Name – The best pizza around! Hidden Gem! You will have to ask where to find it!

PACKING LIST
We used a packing list found on Emily Winfield’s Pinterest Board. It was designed for a 11-day stay so we cut down some of the clothing category.

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT:
Jacket – while you may not need a wool or down coat in the spring, you will want a lighter coat for the cool mornings and a waterproof warmer jacket for cold and wet days.
Puffer vest – this was great for layering and warm enough for an unseasonably cold day.
Shoes – We were comfortable in our hiking boots and sneakers but we saw some people with rain wellies. On warmer days in Reyjkavik we wore our Birkenstocks.
 

 

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One Day In Kelowna- Best Travel Tips from Best Health

kelowna

One Day in Kelowna – Best Travel Tips from Best Health

The following article is from Best Health.   Photo from Tourism Kelowna.

Only have a day to explore a great Canadian city?  Relax:  We’re mapping the highlights for you.  Here’s how to spend one day in Kelowna, BC

Fun Facts

Kelowna gets its name from the indigenous people’s word for “grizzly bear.” Located in the southern interior of British Columbia, Kelowna is nestled in the Okanagan Valley on the shores of Lake Okanagan. It’s the third-largest metropolis in the province.

Accommodations

The Delta Grand Okanagan Resort & Conference Center is situated in the heart of downtown Kelowna, making walking to dinner and shopping a breeze. Though it’s loaded with the typical amenities (think pools, fitness room, sauna, shops and restaurants), what you’ll long remember is the show-stopping view. The resort sits on the lake and offers up mountain vistas of blue and grey that will take your breath away. Make sure to book a lakeside room.

Dining Options

For an authentic taste of the Okanagan, head over to the Sunset Organic Bistro at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Here, you’ll find fresh ingredients plucked from the winery’s own biodynamic gardens and nearby organic farms. Start with the Tomato Salad, but save room for the Steak and Frites, a 10-ounce rib-eye with blue cheese butter and bone marrow.

Going for Cocktails

A trip to Kelowna would be incomplete without a stop at RauDZ Regional Table – pronounced “rods” – for a sip (or three) from their cocktail menu. Try the Lavender Bees Knees, made with Okanagan Spirits Gin, lavender honey, lemon, grapefruit and hops bitters, or the popular At The Drive-In, a mix of buttered-popcorn-washed Bacardi Superior, Old Sam rum, lapin cherry and cola reduction, orgeat (like liquid marzipan) and lime.

Best Wine Tours

If you’ve come to Kelowna for the wine, you won’t be disappointed by the tastings available. From crisp young Chardonnays to old-vine Pinot Noirs, there’s a varietal or blend for every bias. Where to start? Tourism Kelowna has created several trails, including Lake Country’s Scenic Sip Trail, Westside Wine Trail, Lakeshore Wine Route and the Kelowna FabFive. Some will take you into the barrel room, some will let you explore the vineyards and others offer lunch opportunities. Start planning your oenophile experience here.

Best Adventure Tour

Burn a few calories – and give your liver a break – with a bike ride along the Kettle Valley Steam Railway line, where you can travel over the old train trestles of Myra Canyon. Sign up for guided tours created for various fitness levels at Monashee Adventure Tours. Bike rentals are included, but don’t forget to bring your camera.

Getting There

Both WestJet and Air Canada offer direct flights to Kelowna International Airport. From there, it’s a short cab ride into the heart of the city.

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5 MUST HAVES WHEN TRAVELING INTERNATIONAL WITH A TODDLER

Toddlers can be a handful at the best of times but that shouldn’t stop you from traveling. Here’s are my 5 ‘must haves’ that made our more recent adventure to Iceland much more enjoyable.

Child’s age – 14 months
Destination – Iceland (Reykjavik & Fludir)
Duration – 6 nights (+ 1 overnight on airplane)
Season – Spring

1.Tide Packs – As we all know, toddlers can get a bit messy at times. Laundry can be expensive when requested at the hotels and some may think it’s a waste of precious time visiting a laundromat, so tucking in a few Tide packs in your luggage can be useful for washing up a few items in the bathroom sink when needed. (FYI!  Bring along a portable clothesline for drying clothes).

IMG_40432. iPad – Ideal entertainment on the airplane as well as in the hotel room. There are many child friendly apps that don’t require an internet connection, thank goodness! (Kids Doodle, Sesame Street on the Go, Laugh & Learn) I also used the app as a sound machine, as my son uses a Sleep Sheep in his crib. Hotels can be noisy and some familiar noises helps!3. Snacks! – Great way to entertain and keep a little one happy. No one likes to travel with a hungry baby! It’s worth packing a few extras before you can get familiarized with your surroundings and the nearest grocery store and markets. Organic squeezable purees are always a good option.  Especially when you don’t know when you and where your next meal will be!.

4. Sanitizing wipes – Wipes, wipes and more wipes will never go to waste (even if baby is out of diapers). Let’s face it, toddlers touch everything! Wipes can take care of sticky faces and fingers and are great to have on hand to clean up spills (on you too!) and to use to wipe down tables, eating surfaces and play surfaces.

5. Stroller – We used our stroller a lot! Some people travel with a umbrella stroller as it’s “easy to pack”.  I love my Bugaboo Cameleon for a number of reasons. There’s lots of storage space  in the undercarriage which allows the ability to bring extra essentials. It also has great all-terrain style wheels, so easy to hit the trails or the cobblestones! The Cameleon can be positioned in multiple positions as it reclines fully. This allows you to hit the road and not have to go back to your home base for nap time! IMG_4238I will mention the one downside to the stroller is that the 2-piece design is not as ideal for gate checking. We also had the detachable bunting bag which is much more convenient than carrying around a bunch of blankets. Ideal for Iceland’s spring weather.

FYI!   Upon arrival in KEF, don’t expect to see your stroller at plane door. You will have to retrieve it at the oversized baggage. However, there are strollers for complimentary use once you enter the terminal until you arrive a baggage area.

 

Happy Travels!

Amy

 

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Why a Hotel Is Better Than Airbnb

The debate over which is better-hotels or short-term rentals (online or otherwise)-continues to be a hot topic among travelers and industry experts. Here are some benefits that hotels–tried and true–offer that can’t be found in an Airbnb.

1. Consistency – There are so many variables on the road-but travelers can take comfort in knowing exactly what to expect when they walk into a hotel room. From cleanliness to room size to service to quality, there are no surprises, whether you’re in New York or Copenhagen.
2. Safety – Security measures vary widely among online rentals, and there have been horror stories of guests being harassed by hosts with hidden agendas-or even with hidden cameras in the bookcase. Hotels, on the other hand, have trained staff, surveillance systems, security guards, emergency response plans, and connections with local law enforcement to help keep you safe.
3. Amenities – Amenities vary from hotel to hotel, but typically they include housekeeping, WiFi, pools and fitness centers, restaurants and room service, laundry service and in-room toiletries.
4. Service – TV not working? Forgot your hair dryer or the plug for your iPhone? Did you lose your key or lock yourself out of the room? When you’re staying in a hotel, any issue can be solved with a call to the concierge-who can also book your transportation, dinner, concert, or theater reservations.
5. Expertise – Concierges are also experts of their destination. They know the ins and outs of the city, and can offer advice on where to eat and what to see in keeping with your interests and your budget.
6. Loyalty programs – Major hoteliers offer loyalty programs, where points can be redeemed for free nights, upgrades, or other gifts.
7. Meals – From complimentary breakfast to room service to fine dining, having access to food can make life on the road a lot easier. While vacation rentals generally have kitchens, you’ll have to shop for and cook your own food.
8. Meeting spaces – Hotels are designed to be good locations to host events and conferences, or to just talk business or make new friends in a safe and central location. They offer meeting spaces, lobbies, bars, and ballrooms where guests can connect and network.
9. Reliability – Airbnb hosts can cancel at the last minute, leaving renters scrambling for a new place to stay. Hotels will find a way to accommodate every reservation, even if it means a free upgrade to the Presidential Suite.
10. Location – Hotels generally are found in the center of cities, where the action and the business meetings take place, while 74% of Airbnb properties are outside of the main hotel districts, often in neighborhoods far from public transportation and major tourist attractions.
As reported by E-talktravel News Desk, February 23, 2016.
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When in Vegas Get Your Art On!

Picasso Exhibit Opening at the Bellagio!

Recognized for bringing world-class art exhibitions to the Las Vegas Strip, Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (BGFA) will debut “Picasso – Creatures and Creativity” on July 3, 2015, featuring 43 works from one of the 20th century’s most influential artists. The exhibit will focus will be on Pablo Picasso’s favorite theme, the human figure. The new exhibit will showcase 19 lithographics, 13 linocuts, 8 paintings and three rare plates, each telling a different story.

Las VEgas Picasso“Picasso  – Creatures and Creativity” is a unique exhibit offering visitors the opportunity to dive into the mind and life of Picasso, “said Tarissa Tiberti, executive director of the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.

Similar to most artists, Picasso drew inspiration from his life experiences. The women around him had a tremendous influence on his art, which changed whenever a new muse entered his life. The various mediums he used to share his sentiments and influences spanned multiple periods. The exhibit will showcase Picasso’s modern work from 1938 to 1971.

The new exhibit will be on view July 3, 2015 through to January 10, 2016. Admission is $19 US per person, $16 US for seniors 65 and older and $14 for students and teachers with valid ID. For additional information visit www.bellagio.com/bgfa. BGFA is open daily 10 AM to 8 PM. Last admissions are sold 30 minutes prior to closing. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary daily docent tour at 2 pm.

Source: Virtuoso Artilcle #45112, published May 13, 2015.

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IMPORTANT TIPS FOR FLYING WITH BABIES

Starting at four weeks old, I’ve flown with my own children at every age and stage. They weren’t always easy or worry-free, but I have never regretted any of them. And I speak from experience when I say that it does get easier as they get older. And since the recent addition of a new grandchild to our family and because we do not live in the same city, we expect many visits from our own grandson.

Here are some helpful tips that I hope will help your own flying experience with your baby most enjoyable.

Flying with a baby or young child does not need to be stressful. With careful planning and organization, your flight – short or long – can be a pleasant experience for everyone–including the passengers surrounding you.

Tip 1:    Stay Calm
The most important thing can possibly be said is that it’s your anxiety, not the baby’s anxiety, that’s going to really impact how the trip goes.

Tip 2:    Book Your Baby
When booking for your flights, be sure to book your baby as well. You don’t want to be hassled at the airport when checking in because you neglected to notify the airline that an infant was traveling with you. Babies under two years old fly free on a parent’s lap. If money is no object, an extra seat would obviously make life easier. However, an infant for whom a seat is purchased must be properly secured in an approved child restraint device. Be sure to check out the airline’s ‘child restraint policy’.

Tip 3:   Choose 90 Minutes
When booking plane tickets, if you have a choice between a 30-minute or 90-minute layover, choose 90.  Remember that you will need more time now to change diapers, stock up on snacks, and play. Even a young baby can benefit from stretching out on a blanket in between flights. Get to the gate early and let baby or infant blow off some steam. Wakeful time at the gate can optimize their nap-time on the plane.

Tip 4: Pick Your Seats Wisely
If two parents are flying, book the window and the aisle of one row. Best case scenario is that the middle seat doesn’t get purchased and you have the extra room. Worst case scenario is the person who bought the middle seat shows up and you offer him/her the aisle. They will gladly oblige! As well, particularly for nursing moms, the window offers more privacy and there will be less risk of the baby getting bumped by other passengers.

travelTip 5:    Bring Identification For Your Baby
Most airlines require parents to check-in their babies at the ticketing desk, so be sure to check the rules and allow extra time for line ups. You will need a copy of baby’s certificate and/or passport. As well, be sure to check to see if your baby will need his or her own boarding pass for the flights.

Tip 6:    Get Ready to Glide Through Security
Believe it or not it’s still possible to glide through security with the addition of a baby, car seat and even a stroller. Designate one person to carry the baby and the other person to prepare items to put through the scanner. Team work!

Tip 7:    Take Advantage of Pre-Boarding
Just a FYI!  Many airlines do not offer family boarding anymore. (Elite, Super-elite, premium business class,etc. come first!)   When the boarding agent issues a call for pre-boarding, take advantage of it!

Tip 8:    Gate Check Your Car Seat and Stroller
Car seats and strollers can be gate checked at no additional cost, however be sure to check the airline’s rules about this option.  Get a tag for it from the gate staff, and drop it off just before you step through the door of the plane, where it will be returned to you at your destination, hopefully in time for you to make your next connection. With this being said, be sure that you allow yourself enough connection time between flights.

Tip 9:    Feed on Take off and Landing
Nurse or give your baby a bottle on take off and landing. This will help his or her ears adjust to the altitude and air pressure. Hey, who knows, baby may even have a good long nap after. Also have a pacifier handy as the sucking motion may help as well.

Tip 10:  Pack Extra Supplies
Be prepared! Of course this is highly dependent on your itinerary, but you must be prepared for any event. Such as those nasty delays at the airport, or even those times that you end up sitting on the runway for two hours before takeoff, or what if you have to spend an unplanned night in a connecting city and the airline refuses to release your baggage.  Believe me it is best to be prepared then unprepared. I read that some paremts carry a two-days’ supply of everything; just in case.

Tip 11:   Dress Your Baby For Quick and Easy Diaper Changes
There’s lots of cute outfits to choose from but a onesie with leggings is a good choice because it gives you quick access to the diaper without removing socks, shoes, pants.

Image result for germ wipesTip 12:  Germs While Traveling
You simply can’t protect a baby, especially a mobile one, from germs while traveling. If it makes you feel better, wipe down your tray table and arm rests with a baby wipe. You will drive yourself and your child crazy trying to keep her from touching potentially germy surfaces, which is every surface on planes and in airports. Wash your hands and your child’s hands when possible and frequently.

Tip 13:  Pack a Bag of Tricks and Be Prepared to Pace
If your baby is at an age that he or she needs to be entertained, be sure to stock up on some stuff in your carry-on bag. Bring  a few of your baby’s favourite toys, plus a couple of new ones. And you might just have to brush up on ‘This Little Piggy’.

Tip 14:  Be Polite
Infants can’t apologize for their actions, but you can apologize for them. The biggest complaint about infants on airplanes is not their crying or their delight in hoisting themselves up on the seat in front of them, but the seeming indifference of their parents toward the discomfort any of this may cause other passengers.

If your child is feeling out of sorts and expresses it by ripping the headset off the seat in front of her, you have to apologize — and you have to mean it. You may not placate the man, but you are likely to gain a few sympathetic nods. And you may even discover that the man was tired of watching TV or listening to music anyway and would rather play peekaboo with the cute little baby behind him.

Tip 15:  Stay Calm
See Tip #1.

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Foodie Etiquette Around the World

ThinkStock Eating WorldFood is prepared deliciously all over the world, but before you can sink your teeth into your next dish, you may want to know about various eating customs that exist throughout each of the following destinations.

From slurping to eating with a spoon, it’s best to forget every polite table manner you have come accustomed to. So if you want to be a polite guest just be sure to follow some of these rules, where inappropriateness is quite the opposite if you want to be invited over for dinner again.

Japan

Have you ever been scolded for eating your food loudly? Do you find drinking soup with a spoon absolutely useless?  Not everyone considers slurping food bad table manners. Just ask the Japanese, who believe the louder foods like ramen, soba and noodles are slurped the better they taste. Just don’t think you’re in a room full of greedy pigs when the sounds of gulping are met with eaters burying their heads into bowls of soup or rice. This is because they are usually devoured by lifting the bowl to the head, which allows hotter foods to be eaten faster. However, before you take that last gulp remember to leave a bit of food left over to indicate you’re ready for another helping.Blog chopstikc

China – Did you know that there are rules to using chopsticks? For one, placing chopsticks on a table at an angle that appears to be pointing at someone is quite the offensive gesture. If you’re finished eating, chopsticks should be set at the top of the bowl because placing them at the side signifies you’re giving your palate a momentary break, and most importantly, never place your chopsticks upright unless you want the entire table to be horrified by the image of death while eating their bowl of rice.

Mexico – Don’t be tempted to reach for a knife and fork when eating a taco in Mexico. They mornally eat them with their hands.

France – Don’t cut your salad with a knife and fork in France–it’s seen as bad etiquette. What?

Portugal –  When in Portugal, never ask for salt and pepper if they’re not already on the table. Asking for any kind of seasoning or condiment is to an insult to the chef. The Portuguese are very proud of their cooking.

Blog fork and knifeIndia – When in India do as the Indians do, and that includes their style of eating as well.  Although you might be inclined to ditch the knife and fork for most of its foods, you’ll also have to forget about using your left hand if you don’t want a table full of disgusted gourmets giving you the evil eye.  In India the left hand is seen as unsanitary, since it is commonly used to clean unhygienic areas of the body. Therefore, when shaking hands as well as eating, using the right hand is not only sanitary but necessary if you want to be a repeated dinner guest.

Italy – Do you enjoy the taste of grated cheese over your shrimp scampi or lobster ravioli? Well think again.  In Italy not only will you have broken one of the oldest gastronomic rules of all time, you may be asked to leave the table altogether. This may seem a bit extreme to all the cheese lovers of the world, especially since many Italian traditions have evolved over time.  But if your host still embraces Italy’s oldest customs, then you’ll want to hold off on the cheese.

Ukraine – In Ukraine, cleaning your plate indicates that you’re still hungry. Always leave a little food on your plate at the end of a meal to avoid insulting your host.

Thailand –The spoon is a utensil that isn’t only used for mixing or slurping soup in Blog noodlesThailand.  It is valued as highly as the fork is in Canada, so you better keep the fork far away from your mouth when adhering to Thai culinary customs.

Instead, the fork is used to assist the spoon in the same way a knife is used to push food onto a fork.  Just place the spoon in your right and with the fork in your left to separate piecess of meat or starch before eating with the spoon. In no time you’ll be using the spoon like a true Thai.

Saudi Arabia – Don’t be surprised if you’re directed to sit on the floor at a dinner party in Saudi Arabia.  This is a tradition that has existed for centuries, and it is still a revered style that continues to be a great part of the Arabian culture. However, there is a way to be tactful while sitting on the floor.

Your legs should be crossed unless you prefer to kneel on one knee. Like India, the right hand is used to eat because the left hand is viewed as unclean. And if you want to make your host feel like a proud chef, sample every culinary treat available to show you’re truly enjoying your meal.

Blog burpAnd finally,
Taiwain – Don’t stay silent after finishing a meal in Taiwan, belching is complimentary to the chef!

Source:  Travel Pulse FEATURES & ADVICE | CHERESE WEEKES |AUGUST 05, 2014.  HuffPost Infographic. Pic courtesy of ThinkStock. 

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Best Trips for 2015

National Geographic Traveler recently presented this year’s must-see places. These twenty go-now destinations will definitely want to send you packing.

FaroeBlog Corsica

This year for the first time, National Geographic Traveler invited online readers and followers to participate in creating their 2015 Best Trips List. They were asked via Twitter, Facebook and Travel Blog to nominate one place using the same criteria that they use–sustainable, culturally minded, authentic, superlative and timely.

The Readers’ Choice this year belongs to Faroe Islands! which captures the thrill of discovering a remote destination.

1. Corsica
2. Medellin, Colombia
3. Koyosan, Japan
4. Maramures, Romania
5. Haida Gwaii, Canada
6. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
7. Tunis, Tunisia
8. Choquequirao, Peru
9. Sark, Channel Islands
10. Hyderabad, India
11. Port Antonio, Jamaica
12. Taiwan
13. Zermatt, Switzerland
14. The Presidio, San Francisco
15. Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
16. Sea Islanda, South Carolina
17. Mont St. Michel, France
18. Esteros del Ibera, Argentia
19. National Mall, Washington
20. Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, a few new exciting destinations pop up for us to discover! I’ve highlighted 3 on the top of my list. Where do you want to go?

Visit the following link for more information and helpful travel tips when visiting these destinations. Best Trips 2015 — National Geographic Traveler

Source: Amy Alipo, http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/best-trips-2015/(Facebook). 

Photograph by Adam Burton, Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis

 

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TIPS ON A HEALTHY TRIP ABROAD

Canadians love to travel, but are you aware that traveling abroad with limited or no travel insurance can lead to high and unexpected costs?

Buying travel insurance is even more important than booking a hotel or getting a visa. The cost of insurance is minimal when compared to fees for hospitalization or medical treatment, and a single accident could result to high unexpeCanada Passport todd-falkowskycted costs. Here are some travel health tips before you leave Canada, for a safe and hassle-free trip.

1.  Schedule a health assesment from a health care provider or a travel health clinic at least six weeks before departure. Certain destinations require vaccines and preventive prescriptions, such as anti-malarial medication. Travellers should bring to the health assessment a copy of their personal immunization record, if available. A list of travel health clinics across Canada can be found on the Public Health Agency of Canada website. Travellers should consult their health care provider if they’re not feeling well before their trip to discuss postponing their departure and to help prevent a health emergency abroad.

2.  Purchase travel health insurance that covers illness, injury and medical evacuation. Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada. Canadian travellers should not rely on their provincial  health plan to cover costs if they get sick or are injured while abroad. Provincial health plans may cover only part, if any, of the bill and will not pay up front. Medical evacuations from abroad are costly.

If you plan to go abroad – even a day trip to the United States, purchase the best supplementary travel health insurance you can afford – health, life, disability, driving, vehicle and trip cancellation -to avoid expensive medical bills. Purchasing travel insurance will help you avoid large expenses such as the cost of hospitalizaton or medical treatment outside Canada. Foreign hospitals and clinics have been known to refuse treatment to patients who lack adequate insurance or the financial resources to pay their bills. A single accident could result in years of debt for anyone who is not prepared.

It is also a good idea for travellers to always carry proof of their insurance coverage when travelling and leave a copy of their insurer’s contact information with relatives or friends in Canada.

Luggage3.  Canadian travellers should carry proof of their need for any prescription drugs. Requirements vary from country to country (e.g. a copy of the prescription, an original drug container with a pharmacy label).  It is always recommended that you carry your essential medication in your hand luggage and to bring more than enough for the duration of their trip. Travellers should also contact an embassy or consulate of their destination country before leaving Canada to make sure the prescription and over-the-counter medications they intend to bring into the country are legal.  If you travel with syringes and needles, it is recommended that you carry a medical certificate or an explanation from their health care provider.

4.  Read up on health conditions in their destination country. We recommend that you  review the country’s Travel Advice and Travel Health Notices on travel.gc.ca before their departure. You should also prepare yourself to acclimatizing to jet lag, altitude sickness and the effects of heat. Keeping hydrated, using sunblock and taking precautions when handling food and water is essential to ensure a healthy stay abroad. Also be aware to take extra precautions against insect- and tick-borne diseases by wearing bright, long-sleeved clothes and using repellent, especially in countries where malaria is present.

5.  If you experience illness when returning to Canada, you should seek immediate medical attention. Inform your health care provider that they’ve been abroad, where you’ve been and what, if any, medical treatment you’ve received. Canadians who travel to malaria-affected areas and develop fever within a year of returning home should visit their health care provider immediately.

For more information, see travel.gc.ca/health. The booklet Well on Your Way  (electronic copy is available online) offers valuable health and drug-related advice.

Source:  travel.gc.ca/health, TravelHotNews 29Jan2014

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