Travel

Terror Attack in Spain: How to Stay Aware

Incidents of terrorism swept across Alcanar, Barcelona, and Cambrils taking the lives of 15 people. Residents and visitors experienced great trauma, and the President of Spain declared 3 days of mourning. We stand united with Spain and all countries in the fight against terrorism. And we strongly encourage the return to daily activities, and travels! Add preventative measures to your upcoming trip with the safety checklist below. Purchase travel medical insurance coverage that works for you. Do not be discouraged by a pre-existing conditions, there are options for everyone. And don’t forget to read the fine print. Be aware of the Emergency Assistance feature in your travel medical insurance coverage and how to use it. Register your trip with your government agency, it is free of charge. Ensure your emergency contact information is easily accessible by you, your travel companion, or a Good Samaritan who can help you in the…

Enhanced Electronic Device Screening at U.S. Airports

Travellers to U.S. airports will now be required to remove all electronic equipment bigger than their cell phone from carry-on luggage, and have it inspected when going through TSA security before proceeding to their departure gate. The new requirement will cover tablets, e-readers, handheld game consoles, and laptops, all of which will be put in a bin and passed through an X-ray scanner. Previously, only laptops were subject to these enhanced inspection techniques. The new rules will apply only in standard security lanes. They will not affect travellers in preclearance systems such as Nexus. TSA advises travellers to keep their electronics organized and have all devices ready for inspection so as to keep security lines moving. Acting administrator of the Transportation and Safety Administration Huban Gowadia says, “It is critical for TSA to constantly enhance and adjust security screening procedures to stay ahead of evolving threats and keep passengers safe.…

Canadian Travel to Mexico Breaks Records

Despite lingering concerns about drug cartel violence and occasional reports about Canadian expatriates being burglarized or worse, Mexico continues to be Canada’s most favoured travel leisure destination outside of the United States. According to data released by the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) and the Secretaría de Turismo de México (STP), Canadians made a record 1.6 million leisure trips to Mexico in 2016, and projections are that the trajectory will continue on the upswing. The data show that Canadians are also spending more of their travel dollars on trips to Latin America—particularly Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama, which together accounted for over 300,000 Canadian arrivals in 2016. Cuba slips At the same time, Canadian arrivals to Cuba slipped in 2016 to 1.25 million, down from a record 1.3 million in 2015. The reduction is attributed largely to hotel room price increases of 15 to 20 per cent, which…

Buying a Retirement Property in Florida

If you’ve been thinking of cashing in on your home in Toronto, Vancouver, or other Canadian real estate hot spots to buy a retirement property in Florida, now may be the time. Though prices for individual homes or condos in Florida have rebounded substantially since the real estate recession and are now selling briskly, there is still a big window of opportunity for closing a single home,  townhouse, or condo at prices close to what they were just before the housing recession hit in 2006. According to official Florida Realtor figures, the average sale price of a single family home this spring was $324,839 USD, 8.3 percent higher than last year.  And the average sale price of a townhouse or condo in this spring was up $261,635 USD, up 8 percent over the comparable month last year. That’s a statewide average, which includes high price areas such as Miami-Dade, Naples,…

Prepare for Storm Season, Snowbirds!

Canadian snowbirds with property in the southern states should heed the wake-up call left by Cindy, a tropical storm that flooded many parts of the Gulf of Mexico states from Texas to the Florida Panhandle. It’s hurricane season, and if you haven’t fully secured your property, you’d best do it now—whether you have a condo, individual family home, mobile or manufactured home. You need to make sure you’re protected against what weather experts predict may be an above-average storm-activity summer and fall. What do you need to do? Make sure you understand your homeowner’s insurance policy. Do not assume that you’re covered for wind, storm or flood damage under that policy. Most homeowner policies require additional supplements for damages caused by wind or floods—and not everything that looks like rising water is considered a flood. If you’re unsure about your coverage, call your agent and make adjustments while there…

US Returns Restrictions on Cuba Tourism. No Problem for Canadians

In a visit to Little Havana in Miami, US President Donald Trump announced a re-imposition of the ban on tourism by individual Americans, as well as tighter controls on commerce with the government of Raul Castro. The restrictions reverse many, but not all, of the embargo sanctions lifted by President Obama in early 2016. The restrictions on individual travel (which under the Obama deal allowed travel by individuals for educational or people-to-people pre-arrangements) will impact the surge of American tourism and US-based airline travel that in 2016 allowed more than 600,000 Americans to visit the island nation as visitors and tourists. Canadians still far outpace that number of visitors, making well over one million trips to Cuba each year. What will this mean for Canadians visiting Cuba? It should mean less congestion when looking for hotel and resort room space—which was getting cramped by increasing numbers of new tourists from…

Spending the Summer in Canada? Get Moving with These Activities

Canada is a beautiful, vast country with a wealth of natural wonders—and an abundance of fun activities through which to discover them. And, contrary to the stereotypical image of Canadians constantly being buried in 10 feet of snow, summer in Canada is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy the sun! If this is the first summer you will be passing in Canada—or even if you’ve just got some well-earned vacation time to spend inside our country’s borders—here are some of the best ways to take advantage of the summer weather, Canadian-style. Camping With so many scenic forests and sprawling national parks stretching across the country, camping is one of the quintessential ways to enjoy a Canadian summer. Grab a tent and some sleeping bags, locate your ideal campsite, and get your journey started! Best of all, spending your days directly in nature will put you in easy…

Regulators Weigh-in on Travel Insurance Transparency

If applying for travel insurance sometimes leaves you confused and has you reaching for a medical dictionary, you’re not alone.  Providers of insurance policies, at the urging of provincial and federal regulators, are working to make their products more user-friendly. Just last week, the Canadian Council of Insurance regulators released its latest in a series of study papers outlining what needs to be done to ensure fair treatment of travel insurance consumers when purchasing protection for out-of-country and interprovincial travel. The release noted that travel insurers have been cooperating with the council to educate consumers about the limitations and exclusions, as well as the benefits, of their products. But it noted that they would be monitoring their progress in making the purchase of travel insurance fairer and more transparent for the customer. That’s a positive move because travel insurance is an important purchase, and it should not be handled casually…

We the North: Exploring Canada’s National Parks

Akami-Uapishku-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains, Aulavik, Auyuittuq, Banff, Bruce Peninsula, Cape Breton Highlands, Elk Island, Forillon, Fundy, Georgian Bay Islands, Glacier, Grasslands, Gros Morne, Gulf Islands, Gwaii Haanas , Ivvavik, Jasper, Kejimkujik, Kluane, Kootenay, Kouchibouguac, La Mauricie, Mingan Archiepelago, Mount Revelstoke, Nááts’ihch’oh, Nahanni, Pacific Rim, Point Pelee, Prince Albert, Prince Edward Island, Pukaskwa, Qausuittuq, Quttinirpaaq, Riding Mountain, Rouge, Sable Island, Sirmilik, Terra Nova, Thousand Islands, Torngat Mountains, Tuktat Nogait, Ukkusiksalik, Vuntut, Wapusk, Waterton Lakes, Wood Buffalo, and Yoho. Phew. What a list. That totals 46 National Parks across Canada. (You can find out more about each park here.) For over 100 years, these natural spaces have been federally protected for environmental conservation and public enjoyment. And in honour of Canada 150, you have unrestricted access until the end of the year. Order your free Canada Discovery Park Pass today. This also includes boat and canal travel in National Marine Conservation Areas like Fathom…

Tips for Hurricane Season

June marks the beginning of hurricane season in Florida and the Southeast and Gulf States, so if you’re planning a vacation in any of these areas over the summer or fall, take a few simple steps to protect your investment. First, let’s establish that hurricanes touch down in the US rarely, appearing only once or twice a year. But the biggest threat is their unpredictability: how powerful will they be, when and where will they land?  They may give us three weeks’ notice, or only two days. And as anyone who has ever been through a real hurricane knows, they are frightening, life-threatening, and should not to be taken lightly. So what must you do?  Though June through November is traditionally known as hurricane season, the peak months of storm activity are August, September and October—with Labour Day weekend being the expected finale. Generally, that coincides with high ocean…

Should You Forego Foreign Travel This Summer?

With summer vacation season here, and more Canadians and Americans choosing Europe as their destination, it’s important to re-calibrate your strategies for foreign travel and establish fallback plans in case something does go wrong while you’re thousands of miles from home. First, register with your government foreign service for up-to-date information and advisories as you travel, and for emergency help in case you’re caught up in a serious disruption, civil disturbance, terrorist event or even a naturally occurring event such as earthquake or fire. You can easily register online. Americans traveling abroad can register with their State Department, while Canadians can register here. By registering your trip and itinerary, government embassies can use their resources to assist you, identify where you are, if you’re safe or in need of help, keep your family at home informed of your status, and guide you to a safe place if needed. Registration is…

Cuba Loves Canadians

Though US airlines are cutting back flights to Cuba due to weaker-than-expected demand, hotel and resort facilities remain jammed, prices are soaring, and government tourism authorities are claiming record numbers of visitors (close to 4 million in 2016)—Canadians leading the pack by far, accounting for more than 1 million visitors last year. Less than a year ago, almost a dozen US airlines filed for US government permission to fly to 10 Cuban locations on a daily basis, hoping to open up the entire island to a broader-based tourism. Their enthusiasm was pumped up by an agreement between the Obama administration and the Cuban government to ease trade relations between the two countries following a 50-year embargo placed by the US. But demand to most locations—other than Havana—did not keep up with expectations and within six months after launching the new airlift in August, the airlines realized their hopes in the…