The trick to never getting lost again lies in some very old travel wisdom.
It's not everyday that you get to use a piece of travel advice that's been rolling around the back of your head, well, for a few decades at least. However, on my recent trip to Honolulu, a very old travel tip popped in my head at exactly the right time and I'm glad it did.
The old advice goes something like this: When you check into a new hotel or guesthouse, pop its business card or a box of branded matches in your pocket. (This is how you know it is old advice - what inns have personalized matchbooks these days?) When you inevitably get lost on the winding streets of Barcelona or in the medina of Rabat, you don’t have to rely on your sense of direction or ability to describe a featureless property in a language that isn’t your own. You can just show said address to a taxi driver and you’ll be on your way.
This advice is repeated in Marybeth Bond's book, Gutsy Women (which is still a superb resource for female travellers, even if a few passages are now a bit out of date). In her entry, she also emphasizes that having a hotel business card is invaluable in countries like Thailand or China where you are unlikely to read the language and your English-language notes aren't going to help the local residents when you ask for assistance.
Well, I FINALLY used this advice, albeit in a modern, updated way. Here's the story.
I've been obsessed with cozy airport sleeping pods for years. I finally got my chance to try one when I stayed at YOTEL Paris. Here's what I wish I had known in before my trip.
For as long as I can remember, I've had one very specific, very peculiar thing on my travel bucket list: To sleep in airport sleeping pods. I bet you've heard about them before. They're teeny-tiny hotel rooms designed to offer airport based travellers a place to sleep - if only for an hour or two. Some are so tiny they really do resemble a pod, or perhaps a bunk bed-turned-bunker. They're not unlike the berths you find on overnight trains, albeit with solid walls, a door you can lock, and an external ladder that leads you to your perch. Other airport sleeping pods are a bit more generous. They're like micro-rooms, offering ensuite washrooms and a few feet of floor space. In every case, they're adorably, maddeningly tiny and cute and I'm just obsessed with the concept. They're cozy, in every sense of the word.
Maybe it has something to do with all those bargain basement overnight flights I've taken throughout the years which have been me walking around terminals like a little zombie. I've just always wanted to stay in a pod and, on a recent trip to France, I finally got my opportunity. After flying overnight into Paris, I had a suitably long layover before I had to board my plane to Bordeaux. My moment had come!
Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport is home to a branch of YOTEL, a UK based hotel chain that has airport sleeping pods around the world, as well as micro-hotels in cities like New York. After so many years of anticipation, I finally had my moment - and I learned a whole lot during the process. This post is a little bit of a review of the Paris YOTEL, but more generally it's about what I wish I had known before booking any airport accommodations. I hope it helps you have sweet dreams!
In New York State, a tiny boat museum holds a century's worth of travel memories. This is the Lawson Center Boat Museum.
In a workaday village in western New York state, a tiny boat museum holds a century's worth of summer memories - memories that changed the face of travel for Canadians and Americans alike.
100 plus years ago, motorboats on Chautauqua Lake were fancy. VERY fancy. If you wanted to see and be seen along this vacation destination that's about halfway between Cleveland and Toronto, you'd cruise the lake on your very large, very expensive motorboat which, in actuality, was more like a mini-yacht than anything else. These boats were great for invoking a sense of old-school glamour but weren't exactly the most accessible of vehicles. That all changed with the Lawson Boat and Engine Company (a precursor of the better known L.S. Aero Marine organization), the driving force behind family-friendly motorboats that would revolutionize the area.
It doesn't sound like much at first. How much can a destination change simply by making pleasure boats a little bit smaller and a little bit more affordable? There's more to it than meets the eye, as I learned firsthand on my visit to the Lawson Center Boat Museum in Bemus Point, New York, situated in L.S. Aero Marine's former boat chandlery.
Is your Canadian flight delayed or cancelled? You might be entitled to compensation under the new Canadian Transportation Agency flight delay compensation rules. We breakdown your rights as a passenger.
Fasten your seat belts, dear readers. You're in for one heck of a post. In 2019, a whole new set of rules and regulations about flight delays came down in Canada. And boy, were they new. For the first time ever, delayed passengers on flights in, out, and around Canada are entitled to some actual serious compensation.
But - and this may utterly surprise you - airline regulations are DULL. And confusing! And not exactly designed to be user friendly and easy to understand for the average passenger. Thus, I've tried to break things down into real terms that a jet lagged frequent flyer can easily understand.
The Véloroute des Bleuets is my favourite of all cycling Quebec adventures - even in the off season!
With sunny blue skies and a bracing wind, I bravely mounted my bike to go searching for blueberries in the Quebec countryside. But if you're looking at my jacket and scarf in the photo above and thinking it looks far too cold for blueberry season, you'd be partially right. You see, I wasn't in search of blueberries to eat! I was searching for Quebec's famous blueberry bike route, known as the "véloroute des bleuets".
Made up of over 20 different short to medium length rides through the blueberry-producing countryside, the véloroute des bleuets circles around Lac St Jean, not far from the northern Quebec city of Saguenay. The route includes towns such as Alma (my personal favourite), Saint-Felicien, Roberval, and Sainte-Monique, as well as Pointe-Taillon National Park, and includes terrain suitable for all riders.
We hiked the Victoria Falls Bridge on foot FOUR times in order to cross the Zimbabwe Zambia border. Here's everything you need to know so you can do it too.
At 128 meters high, the Victoria Falls Bridge is a graceful, lacy arch, a throwback to the dreams of a Cape-to-Cairo rail link and what was once one of the most ambitious engineering feats in the world. Today, the beauty is still there, albeit faded and battered around the edges as commerce and trade push bygone nostalgia aside. Connecting Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Livingstone, Zambia, the bridge is a busy border post for commercial trade, as well as for travelers eager to explore both sides of Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River, and the Batoka Gorge.
It wasn't long into our trip to southern Africa before the Victoria Falls Bridge border crossing felt like our old stomping grounds. All told, we crossed the bridge four times! We entered Zimbabwe via Victoria Falls Airport and after three days, we walked across the bridge into Zambia to spend four days in Livingstone. Crossing number one!
We then walked back to Zimbabwe (number two!) for breakfast and to meet up with our Botswanan safari guide. After a week in Botswana, we returned to Zimbabwe. We had lunch post-safari in Victoria Falls before leaving Zimbabwe and walking across the bridge (number three!) for an extra three days in Livingstone.
Finally, we crossed back to Zimbabwe a final time (number four!) for breakfast, some last minute shopping, and to catch our outbound flight. Whew!
Believe it or not, all travelers really need to explore the Victoria Falls Bridge and cross the Zimbabwe Zambia border is their passport and their own two feet. Having the right visa helps as well. For us, that was the Kaza Univisa, a relatively new option that allows unlimited crossings between Zambia and Zimbabwe (as well as day trips into Botswana via Kazungula Borders) for 30 days. We purchased the visa twice as we departed the visa zone during our extended time in Botswana. This proved to be an economical and convenient choice for us, but other options - including single entry and multiple entry visas - might be better suited to your bridge adventures.
Speaking of bridge adventures, here's all you need to know for your crossing, regardless of which country you start in.
I'm so excited to be telling CTV Ottawa Morning Live viewers (and all of you!) about our amazing upcoming Aeroplan round the world points trip.
I'm so proud and excited to have presented travel information (and hopefully a little inspiration too!) with my friends at CTV Ottawa Morning Live. I've had the pleasure to visit them before to talk social media in my role as the owner of Sculpt Social - on my last segment, we chatted about the best designed apps for organization.
This visit however was extra special as I got to talk about the first love of my life - TRAVEL! Specifically, crafty travel that allows regular folks (like you and me) to maximize their frequent flyer miles. In case you didn't get to see the entire segment - or if you loved it so much you want a recap - this mini post is for you!
In 2013, we created the most incredible reward trip with Aeroplan, circling the globe with Star Alliance. And in 2018 we're doing it again!
TurnipseedTravel debuted nearly six years ago (and does anyone else remember our very first green and grey template?). Nearly 18 months later, that debut became a fully fledged launch when Ryan and I took our readers along for the journey of a lifetime.
We cashed in all our points for what was technically a trip to Australia but instead embarked on an amazing round-the-world trip fueled entirely by Aeroplan. See, we had learned about all the reward flight loopholes needed to "hack" our travel plans and create a mini round the world trip with Star Alliance partners. With stops in Europe, Asia, North America (and, of course, Australia), we had 9 flight segments on Star Alliance flights (and visited about 15 different locations) and paid about $300 each for taxes and fees. As you can tell from our nostalgic photos, thanks to Aeroplan, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Or so we thought....
UPDATED in 2022! This is our airport delay playbook... just in case! If your flight is delayed, we hope this will help.
Delays are an inevitable part of the travel experience and, believe it or not, not all delays are bad. After all, they're often caused by safety concerns or are the result of an earlier accident - both circumstances that will make you grateful you're only aggravated, not injured. But an optimistic attitude can only go so far, especially when you're in an airport and your flight is delayed.
Airport delays are the frustration of all frustrations. Maybe it's the pressure and panic of how a delayed departure will influence the rest of your travel plans. Or perhaps it's being surrounded by the general anxiety and grumpiness of hundreds of other passengers. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that airports and airlines still have a ways to go when it comes to customer service. Or maybe it's a little bit of everything, rolled in with jet lag, bad coffee, and scratchy toilet paper. No matter the cause, a little planning, preparation, and research can go a long way to help with delays.
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