Getting Away

Finding Sand and Sun this Winter

When winter descends on us and temperatures rarely go above zero, you may find visions of hot sandy beaches dancing through your head. While Canada is a great country to live, let’s face it: escaping the cold, harsh winter is a thought that crosses many of our minds. Well, except maybe for those that live in British Columbia. 

When it comes to planning a fun-in-the-sun vacation, there are so many options for winter escapes that it can be difficult to know where you should start. 

That’s where travel consultants come in. They can take the stress away from you by planning your vacation. It’s a travel consultant’s job to keep up-to-date on pricing, destinations, and the best times to travel.

Linda Landry, a certified travel consultant, has been booking vacations and travel for clients for the past 29 years with the Travel Store in Charlottetown, PEI. 

She notes if you are looking for a down south vacation, keep in mind that winter is the busiest time of year and sometimes it can be more expensive. Summer and fall seem to be a popular time of the year when Canadians travel overseas to European destinations or book river cruises. 

 For those looking to plan a trip this winter, Landry has the following tips to help you plan your trip. 

5 Tips To Prepare For a Vacation

1.    Start planning early, at least six months in advance
  •    Start narrowing down your top destinations
  •     Compare costs, where to fly out of, layovers and such.
  •    Compare amenities, activities, and other factors that may impact the decision of where to go.
2.    If children are old enough, have them help plan the trip
  •     Ask them what their interests are, and what they would want to do on vacation.
  •     Get them to help with packing, and if it’s a long ride to the airport, make sure they have enough activities for the drive and the plane ride.
3.    Budget appropriately.
4.    Make sure everyone has up to date identification such as passports, insurance, and visas if necessary.
  •     Before booking a trip, make sure all proper identification is up to date. Sometimes getting a new passport or renewal can take up to five weeks, according to Service Canada. 
  •     Check to make sure you don’t require any extra documents, like a tourist visa or vaccine documentation. A travel agent can let you know what you will need based on the country you are visiting.
5.    Arrive at the airports in plenty of time for all flights. 
  •   Most airports require travellers to arrive three hours in advance of their departure, especially international flights. Be sure to check your booking for up-to-date departure and arrival times.

Landry says it’s important to do research on potential vacation destinations and to remember that when travelling you should look into safety precautions and potential vaccines needed for the area you will be staying at.

“I think a really important message for people travelling is to keep in mind we are guests when we travel outside Canada, and that not every country is as rich as we are,” explains Landry. 

Currently, out of the Charlottetown office where Landry works, the most popular destinations for Canadians vary from all-inclusive packages down south to various destinations around Europe. The destinations include the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica, Orlando, California, London, Paris, Ireland, and Germany.

If you are interested in other destinations, Travel Agents are a great resource to help with where you want to go, helping to find the right resort or area to stay, and trying to find vacations within your budget.

“What the benefits are is the knowledge of the industry and country where the client is travelling too. We are a local company so clients can easily call or visit us with any questions or concerns,” notes Landry.

#1 Tip for Couples
  •     When looking for vacations look for Adult-Only resorts or hotels. This will ensure you won’t encounter screaming kids by the pool.
#1 Tip for Families
  •     Choose resorts or hotels with designated kids programs/areas. When researching amenities for your vacation, you can specifically look for these, as well as asking your Travel Agent to only look for resorts/accommodations with these available.
#1 Tip for First-Time Travellers 
  •     It depends on where first-time travellers are going, but I would recommend to respect each country’s practices and to do their research.    

See how to prepare for a trip for first-time travellers information above.

#1 Tip if you don’t want an all-inclusive vacation
  •     Go over each individual costs such as meals, drinks, attractions, extra hotel fees, etc., to better plan your budget, so there are no surprises. 

Non-inclusive trips often have additional fees that you may not be used to paying if you are used to all-inclusive trips. By doing your research on currency exchange and average spending to expect per day on essentials, you can ultimately save yourself the headache of running into financial stress while on vacation.

Websites for Vacation Planning

For anyone, whether you are a seasoned traveller or brand new, knowing where to start your vacation planning is important. Here are a few sites to help you plan your next vacation. 

The Travel Store  Air Canada Vacations Sunwing Vacations Transat Holiday Lonely Planet Booking.com Trip Hobo

 

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Paige LeClair

As a recent graduate from the St. Thomas University Journalism program, Paige has a passion for storytelling and investigative journalism. In 2016, she, along with her journalism team were awarded first place at the Emerge Media Awards in the multimedia category. The team was also a finalist at the Canadian Association of Journalist Awards. She is excited to work with other military spouses providing stories and information to the military community. Paige is newly married to Andrew, a Lineman, and moved to their first posting in Petawawa in May of this year. She is excited to begin this journey with Andrew, their dog Diablo, and cat, Linux

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