Travel

Spotlight City: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and is the second most populated city in the United Kingdom with about one million people living in the greater Edinburgh area. As part of the United Kingdom, Edinburgh is home to the monarchy, the Scottish Parliament, many historical and cultural attractions including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is the second-most popular tourist destination in the UK. Crime rates are among the lowest in the country.. Before embarking on your adventure through bonny Scotland, be sure to keep a few things in mind to have a safe and enjoyable trip! Threats and Risks to travellers in Edinburgh Edinburgh is considered a safe city by international standards. Its crime rates are comparable to that of any other large city in the world. While violent crime is rare, petty crime may present occasional issues for visitors to the city. Pickpocketing is the most prevalent form of…

Are Canada’s “Winter Texans” up Against Trump’s Wall?

With the construction of a wall between Mexico and the US attracting so much attention in the media, Canadian snowbirds who winter in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas might be concerned about the durability of their retirement lifestyle. According to a 2014 study by the University of Texas Pan American Business and Tourism Research Center, the numbers of snowbirds (from Canada as well as the northern US) who wintered in the Rio Grande Valley dropped from 144,000 to 100,000 in the previous 4 years. The principal author of the study, Dr. Penny Simpson, told the Rio Grande Guardian, those who are traveling to the Valley are older and staying for longer periods, but new people are not coming. She added that those who come seem to love it here. “They come for the climate, the friendly people, and the social activities.” She said she could only study the…

Though Obamacare Wanes: Insured Visitors Experiencing Medical Emergencies in the US Need Not Worry

The dismantling of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) by the Trump Administration is going to be attracting a lot of media attention in the coming months and some of the media coverage may stir up unease among Canadians planning long term visits to the U.S. According to most polls, the majority of Americans have been disappointed with the ACA because of its high premiums, deductibles, and loss of familiar provider networks. But for visitors to the US who need emergency hospital care and have supplemental private health insurance, it will remain business as usual—at least for the immediate future—with very little difference in the high quality of care or the unlimited availability of hospitals or doctors. Travel insurers in Canada all work through assistance companies that have arrangements with networks of health care providers (hospitals, doctors’ groups, urgent care clinics, etc.) that give them preferential rates, and…

Jaana and Jenn Are Going to Malta

Winter in Toronto has been easy so far. But the real test will be the month of February. In preparation, conversations between my colleague Jaana and me about faraway places have escalated. Striking sunsets at Għajn Tuffieħa Bay, bluer than blue waters in Kemmuna, and tasty Aljotta (or Imqaret for me because of my sweet tooth) are just a few items on our wish list. We are talking about Malta. My friend from Palermo frequents Malta and raved about last year’s Groovefest in St.Paul’s Bay. Ingle International’s CEO, Robin Ingle, attends Annual General Meetings at one of our offices based in Valetta, and has told us tales of touring temples and the like. Jaana and I have lived vicariously, but for how much longer? After great debate, we created a list of 5 things we would make the most time for given the opportunity to travel to Malta. In…

Even with Bad News, Florida Remains Strong Tourism Target

Despite predictions of a tourism drop-off to Florida in the wake of last year’s Orlando nightclub attack that killed 49 people, a highly publicized Zika virus threat, and the recent Fort Lauderdale airport shootings, there has been no tangible effect on tourism to South Florida so far, and travel companies are actually gearing up for record arrivals in 2017. According to a report in South Florida Business Journal, Stacy Ritter, CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau says: “We are not seeing any effect on tourism as a result of this senseless and random act (the airport shootings)….We are confident that the goodwill we have built with visitors will assure our continued tourism popularity and success.” As reported in the New York Times, any damage to Florida’s travel markets because of the random shooting and Zika appear to be minimal, and several indicators show that tourism to…

Canada Has Eased the Visa Requirements for Mexican Travellers

Planning to visit Canada from Mexico? Good news! The Canadian government has lifted some of the visa requirements that were previously in place, making it easier for Mexican travellers to take trips up north. Here’s what you need to know about the new rules: As of December 1, 2016, Mexican travellers no longer require a visa for visits to Canada of up to six months. That said, Mexicans planning to travel to or transit through Canada will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (or eTA). Fortunately, this process can be completed in just a few minutes online for a cost of $7 CAD. You can take care of your eTA right here. Coming to study in Canada? If your study program will be shorter than six months, you’re good to go. For programs longer than that, however, you will still need to apply for a student visa. Related: Check out our…

Four Things to Know about Walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain

The Camino de Santiago is one of the most important Christian pilgrimages of medieval times. Legend has it that the bones of St. James, Jesus’s first disciple, are buried at the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. Today, pilgrims of all faiths come from around the world to walk The Way for religious, spiritual, health, or personal reasons. If you’re contemplating taking on this challenging pilgrimage here are a few things to keep in mind before you go. 1. Earning a compostela  Every pilgrim will carry a passport, or credencial—a document that identifies them as a pilgrim. If you plan to start your walk in the popular launching-off city of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port you will be given a passport when you register as a pilgrim at the pilgrim’s office. Otherwise, you can obtain a passport at almost any church or albergue (pilgrim’s hostel) in Spain. Each…

4 Home Security Tips for Holiday Travellers

You have enough to worry about over the holidays that you should not have to worry about leaving your home while you travel for vacation or a visit with friends and family. Yet, each year, homes fall prey to intruders who wait for homeowners to go away for the holidays. If you will be travelling over the holidays this year, give yourself some peace of mind. Our home security tips will help you protect your home and alleviate some of the stress associated with holiday travelling. Related: Survival tips for the holiday traveller 1. Give the Appearance That You Are Home Even though you’ve probably seen Home Alone, not all thieves plan or organize their home invasions that thoroughly. In most cases, intruders drive into a dark neighbourhood and look for homes that appear empty or unprotected. To prevent thieves from thinking your home is vulnerable, you need…

Seven Tips for Solo Travellers

Solo travel isn’t for everyone. In fact, I’m one of those people who isn’t especially fond of it. However, I also am one of those people who wouldn’t stop myself from going somewhere just because I couldn’t find a partner in crime to go with. It’s hard to find people who have the ability, flexibility and want to travel to the same places at the same time as you, so sometimes, solo travel is a must. However, solo travelling doesn’t need to be intimidating. Naturally, we like to be with people that we know, especially when we’re doing something brave like going to a new country, but travelling solo can bring all sorts of its own benefits. Here are some tips to ensure you have the best time while on your solo adventure. Stay in hostels One of the biggest fears of solo travellers is how they are going…

Lola Answer’s Questions about Her Summer Trip to Africa

1. Where did you go in Africa? I went to Morocco, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Tanzania. 2. Do I need to get inoculated before I go? Absolutely. Check out Do I Really Need to get Vaccinated? for more information. 3. How do you choose a good tour company? First, research what you want to see. I began with Trip Advisor, read reviews, then emailed my choices for quotes. I asked lots of questions and eventually narrowed it down to 3. 4. What type of clothing should I take on safari? Take clothes that are easy to wash and dry quickly. Choose earth tones; no whites or bright colours since they make you stand out. Don’t take camouflage clothing that can be confused for military uniforms or dark colours such as black or dark blue because they attract Tsetse flies. Think casual, comfortable and easy to layer; t-shirts,…

Last Minute Tips for Holiday Travel to the US

With snowbird season well underway—the number of Quebec cars in Fort Lauderdale seems higher than normal this year—a little catch-up on cross border rules might be in order. Even if you came across the border with little apparent attention from US border control officers, the tracking of inbound (and now outbound) visitors is getting tighter and you must assume your record of crossings is being kept—accurately. But with a total of 6 months out of 12 in your annual US travel allotment, you should have no problem enjoying your vacation in full. Still, here are some reminder tips. That 30-day rule again If, while in the US you leave the country on a side trip or a cruise (say to Mexico or the Caribbean), remember that if the trip is less than 15 days, it will count as part of your total 6-month (i.e. 180-day) B2 visa quota in the…

No Hospital Beds at Home For Canadians Travelling Abroad?

If ever you’re stuck in a foreign hospital waiting for your travel insurer to get you back to Canada for continuing medical care, don’t blame your insurer for putting you on hold. You can be darned sure your insurer would like to get you back home where your medicare picks up the tab. In a foreign hospital, it’s the insurer who pays. The problem with repatriation now, as in the past 35 years, lies in the inability of health care bureaucrats  to break the hospital bed logjam that bedevils doctors, nurses and floor staff working in most of Canada’s hospitals. How bad is it? On November 30, 2016, the Ontario Auditor General released its most recent report on lengthening waits for beds in the province’s community hospitals. I note that this is a provincial report and not all the findings translate exactly to other provinces. But the similarities are…