As thousands of Caribbean and Floridan residents struggle with deteriorating conditions and lack of food and clean water in Hurricane Irma ravaged areas, hotels and resorts have begin to assess the damage sustained by the historic storm.
All Canadian vacationers initially stranded have now returned home, aided by rescue flights by Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, Sunwing as well as other U.S. and European carriers.
Naturally, some of the hardest hit islands where the Category 5 hurricane (at the time) made its first landfall are the most affected, such as the tiny island of Barbuda in the Lesser Antille, who reported catastrophic damage and only an estimated 5% of its buildings remain.
Antigua, Sint Maarten/St. Martin, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Cuba and the Turks and Caicos all took a hits too, with extensive damage reported throughout. Airports were closed leading up to and in the wake of the storm, but have now re-opened.
With tourism being the key industry in most of the Caribbean, cleanup and rebuild efforts of the beaches, hotels, and resorts are now top of mind. The loss of communication had made it hard for hoteliers to report on the extent of the damage their hotels up until now, but Canadian tour operators (such as West Jet, Air Canada Vacations and Transat) have now been able to get their specialists on the ground. They made their assessments and have offered the following commitments:
TURKS AND CAICOS
The above information can change. For more information on a particular resort or destination that isn't detailed here, or if you have an upcoming trip to any of the affected areas, please contact your agent at Around the World Travel, 1-800-922-7221 or email@example.com
La vie est belle in Paris
Aaaah Paris, the “city of love”, fashion, and the arts. Its beauty and culture attract thousands of people (including myself), from all over the world every day. As the capital and largest city of northern central France it is the hub of this region. Paris is located in the Ile de France region with the river Seine running through the heart of it, and two forests (the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes) on either side of it.
Paris itself is relatively easy to navigate as it is divided into 20 areas called ”arrondissements” arranged in the form of a clockwise spiral starting from the centre of the city. Each arrondissement is known for certain tourist attractions, such as the Louvre in the 1st one and Notre Dame Cathedral located in the 4th. Paris has an intricate subway system called the ‘Metro’ which is widely used and lets citizens and visitors travel in ease. The city is also served by two major airports (Charles de Gaule and Orly) which provide tourists with many options for flights
The climate in Paris would be considered mild and wet with temperatures that hardly ever go to extremes, which makes it an ideal location to visit all year round. Paris to this day is still one of the top places for tourists to visit and in 2015 welcomed 20.2 million visitors. If you want to experience French culture, food, and customs then Paris will not disappoint with its abundance of restaurants, shows, and museums.
I was born in Paris and therefore must admit I’m a little biased when it comes to its charm. My last visit was in April of this year when I got the chance to visit family that I had not seen for many years. Having family show you around really is the best way to travel; they know all the secret ways to get in to attractions (did you know that there is an entrance to the Louvre through the metro with no lineups?) I was also able to take my husband who had never been to Europe and was very excited to experience everything. It was great to show off my homeland to my husband as it was his 1st trip to Europe.
We visited the major local attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame, but also took in a show at the Moulin Rouge (known for its burlesque dancers) and a cruise down the river Seine while enjoying a delicious meal and of course some wine. The French love their wine and yes, it does get poured freely and often (who needs water!). By the way, an average glass of wine will cost you around 7 euro or $11 CAD. As a huge history buff, my husband’s favourite attraction was Les Invalides: Musee de L’armee which featured exhibits from all the past wars. If you intend to visit though, make sure to schedule for an entire day, it’s massive! The military police were guarding all the major attractions, because of recent terrorist activity; this however made me feel much safer than if none were around.
My favourite part of being in Paris was simply walking around the old city streets such as Ile Saint Louis, and finding some of the little boutiques that offer fashion trends for a little less than on the main boulevard of Les Champs Elysees. Make sure you visit one of the many little coffee shops and partake of a café au lait and croissant, or one of the many patisseries. It might go straight to your hips, but is well worth indulging in
It really is nice in Nice
Next up on our France trip was 4 days in Nice with its stunning views that range from mountain ranges to miles of beaches. Nice is located on the Cote D’Azur on the Mediterranean Sea and includes other famous cities such as Cannes and Saint Tropez. The weather here was much warmer, and my hubby and I even managed to get a bit of a tan (okay, I tanned, he burned!).
Again, luckily for us, we had the perfect tour guides in my cousins, who live on a mountain top which you can access by driving the Corniche roads. This in itself was the experience of a lifetime as I held on for dear life while my very speedy cousin swerved on narrow, winding roads high above the city. We ended up in the charming town of Eze located on the Moyenne Corniche and the scenery and views were well worth the dramatic drive up.
Of course, you can’t go to Nice without taking a walk along the Promenade des Anglais located along the beach that runs for 7 km from the airport. On a warm day the beach will be crowded with locals and tourists alike enjoying the warm water and soaking up the rays. If you plan on spending the day at the beach, be prepared to bring a chair or mat; the beaches in Nice are not sandy but made up of galets or smooth pebbles, which can be hard to lie on.
Make sure to stop at one of the many cafes along La Quai des Americains and try a plate of mild cheeses and cured meats. This place also happens to have the best mojitos! (I know great wine and mojitos, crazy huh?).
The four days went very fast but we did manage to visit La Place Massena, known for its farmers markets selling everything from flowers to souvenirs and of course enjoyed one last glass of wine before our flight home. It was an amazing trip!
Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in France. We are passionate about travel and love to share our experiences!
Graduation season is upon us, and many new graduates will be heading abroad to seek new experiences before starting new careers. There are a few important things to know about money before heading off that will reduce your stress as a parent/guardian, and increase their confidence as they head out on their own for the first time.
Our 10 Best Packing Tips
Our agency is filled with women – women who travel a lot! We like to think we have gotten packing down to an art based on where and how you are travelling. Here are 10 of our all-time best packing tips:
10 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent
Agents provide services or have knowledge that you just can’t get online – and sometimes, especially in times of crisis, working with a real live person is just plain superior.
15 Best Travel Hacks for Flying
In a time where the world is becoming more accessible, short and long-haul flights are becoming a normal part of our lives – whether it is for work, to visit family, to go on a relaxing vacation, or to explore new and unusual places. Here are some of our BEST travel hacks for flying:
1. Bring noise cancelling headphones
They are a lifesaver when you are seated next to a group of friends, young children, or want to sleep through the barrage of pilot announcements.
2. Check-in 24 hours prior and select your seats
Most airlines allow you to check-in online for your flight(s) 24 hours prior. You will be able to look at the seat map and select the seats you want free of charge! You know you want a window seat, but if there is a row where the aisle seat is selected but the middle and window are free the chances of someone choosing the middle seat are lower.
3. Bring snacks or buy food from food court before boarding.
Airlines are providing less complimentary meals all the time, and healthy snacks can keep your blood sugar from dipping too low on a long flight. Consider carrot or celery sticks, granola, nuts and dried fruit, or whole-wheat crackers.
4. Stay hydrated!
Bring an empty water bottle and fill it once you have gone through security – extra points if it is collapsible!
5. Wear comfortable clothes
Choose something that is comfortable, and that you feel good in. Travel days can leave us feeling grubby already – a presentable, comfortable outfit and some oil blotters go a long way when you have someone waiting for you in the arrival bay!
6. Bring a neck pillow and eye mask
I have long avoided packing the neck pillow in an attempt to keep my “cool factor.” After trying it and experiencing the great nap I say coolness is overrated! There are a plethora to choose from based on style and functionality and you will arrive feeling much more rested and without that sore neck!
7. Check if your airline has a downloadable entertainment app
More airlines are adopting an app-based entertainment system versus the seat-back screen. You may not be able to watch the on-board entertainment without the app on your device or tablet. Plus, you won’t be able to download it once you have boarded because you will need an internet/wifi connection to download it. Check before you leave home or at the very least once you are in the departure lounge at the airport.
8. Bring an extra top or large shawl on-board in case you get cold.
Flights are infamous for blasting the air, and it can get quite cool to be wearing that t-shirt. An extra top or large shawl work great when the temperature drops and you want to curl up and nap.
9. Look behind you before leaving your airport seat
Make sure you haven’t forgotten a bag, snack, water bottle, or phone. Even more importantly, remember that boarding pass that you placed on your lap to check your gate and then forgot about? Yeah, it fell under your seat when you stood up – make sure you have all your boarding passes with you!
10. Set your watch to the local time where you will be arriving as soon as you board the plane
It will help you get in sync with the new time zone quicker. Try sleeping during the evening hours based on the local time where you are travelling to. This allegedly helps to reduce your jet-lag.
11. Check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules for going through security
You will know where all of your liquids and gels are, and have them in an easily accessible, clear plastic bag. All you will have to do is unzip your luggage, place your bag of liquids in the bin, place your laptop in the bin, and get ready to walk through the scanner.
12. Bring hand sanitizer or anti-bacterial wipes
There are lots of surfaces in an airplane that everyone touches – having hand sanitizer is a life-saver when your meal arrives and you are stuck in a window seat with a grumbling stomach.
13. If you are traveling with kids a portable DVD player with a couple of their favorite movies can be a life-saver! Remember a pair of headphones for them too.
14. Don’t carry on too much stuff
If you are going on a long-haul flight you may get stuck putting your carry-on bags under the seat in front of you, which inevitably takes away from your legroom.
15. Keep your valuables with you or in your carry-on bag under the seat in front of you.
No one wants to get off of the airplane and then realize that their wallet is no longer in their carry-on luggage where they left it. If it is valuable, keep it with you!
6 Ways to Experience Cuba in 2016!
World-class beaches, vintage cars, architecture, cigars, and rum – these are a few of the things that make Cuba such a unique destination. Recent changes to Cuba tourism have put Cuba at the top of the travel news headlines for 2016 – it is one of the hottest destinations for Canadians who want to see it’s unique charm.
We are looking at 6 different ways you can experience Cuba in 2016, and there is something for everyone!
1. All-Inclusive Getaway
Hop on a flight here, get off there, get whisked away to your resort, and leave your wallet locked up for the week! For the ultimate convenience and relaxation look to an all-inclusive getaway with direct flights from Vancouver!
2. Cuba Cruise
Combine the convenience of direct flights from Vancouver with a 7 day, all-inclusive cruise aboard the Celestyal Crystal. Experience the Cuban culture firsthand while you circumnavigate Cuba with 2 days in Havana and stops in Maria la Gorda, Cienfuegos, Santiago, and Montego Bay! You can also extend your holiday and enjoy a 1-week all inclusive resort stay in Varadero before or after your cruise!
3. Sailing by Catamaran
Take a journey through the Canarreos Archipelago islands on a sailing catamaran with G Adventures. Your skipper and guide will help you navigate the bustling streets of Havana, search for an untouched beach, and truly experience the Cuban Culture. The 79 ft catamaran accommodates 14 passengers and a crew of 3, and still allows plenty of interior and exterior space to lounge around when you are not out exploring!
See full trip details here!
4. Sailing by Yacht & Explore by Land
Sail on a two-masted yacht that accommodates just 44 guests, and explore by land on a comprehensive 11 day tour with Lindblad Expeditions. Be immersed in the Cuban architecture, culture, landscape, and wildlife! Stops include Havana, Cienfuegos, Bay of Pigs, Cayo Largo, Trinidad, and the Gardens of the Queen.
5. Land Tour
Travel with a group – small or large – for an in-depth Cuban experience! Discover a place filled with friendly people, distinct culture, art & architecture, and world-class beaches. Visit villages, farms, lush mountain coffee plantations, and snorkel the colorful coral. Stops can include Havana, the Vinales Valley, Maria la Gorda, Soroa, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa, Bay of Pigs, and more!
A cycling trip with G Adventures is sure to get your blood pumping! Explore the hills of the Guaniguanico and El Rosario mountain range, tour a tobacco plantation, and see a side of this island that few get to know. Stops include Havana, Las Terrazas, La Palma, Cayo Jutias, Vinales, and Soroa.