Travel

Canadians in the Caribbean. Staying Safe.

The fatal stabbing of a Toronto school teacher on a beach in Costa Rica has again raised the question: just how dangerous are those fabled tropical vacation spots that continue to attract Canadians throughout the year? Though we continue to hear that there might be occasional reports of violence in almost any location frequented by tourists—tropical or otherwise—most visitors remain safe, happy, unharmed and completely satisfied with their escape to paradise for a week, a month, or a half-year sabbatical. However, if you’re the family of a victim of violence, safety statistics aren’t much consolation. And given the evident rise of break-ins, muggings, rape and murders in what were once benign islands in the sun, it’s clear you need to practice a heightened state of vigilance wherever tourism is a mainstream activity. According to the most current advisories from Global Canada, the majority of Caribbean countries are relatively safe so…

Europe Tightens Border Rules: Prepare, But Still Enjoy

With the onset of spring and milder weather, many countries in the European Union are once again preparing for visitors testing border security. In response, the EU has adopted new rules to tighten checks on all persons entering its member countries. According to a report from The Associated Press, the rules oblige EU countries to check everyone (including EU nationals) leaving or arriving in the 28 member-country bloc against customs, crime and visa databases. Though the rules are intended to address potential risks posed by terrorism, they can’t help but further affect border crossing procedures and scrutiny of all travelers, including summer vacationers touring historic sights or visiting families and friends. Consequently, it is essential that if Europe is in your plans this summer, you build in extra time to get from one location to another, you carry (or have access to) extra cash in case of travel interruption or…

Loonie Weighed Heavily on Travel to Caribbean in 2016

If you need assurance that the weak loonie is hurting Canadian leisure travel, consider the recent statistics tracking arrivals in the Caribbean and Mexico (from the Conference Board of Canada). Though Canadians made 4.27 million trips to that region in the first 11 months of 2016 (admittedly, not bad for a population of only 33 million) it was 1.4 percent fewer than the same period (January to November 2015), and the reductions were distributed pretty well across the board. Of 20 countries in the region, only six saw positive arrivals from Canada: Anguilla, 3.7 percent (just over 3,000); St. Vincent, 1.6 percent (just over 6,200); Barbados, 1.1 percent (almost 67,000); Costa Rica, 4.6 percent (just under 160,000); Dominican Republic, 2.4 percent (just under 682,000); and Mexico, 0.8 percent (1.54 million). All 14 other countries saw reductions, among them Cuba (-3.2 percent); Bahamas (-11.6 percent), Aruba (-6.2 percent); Jamaica (-5.9 percent);…

A Destination Wedding Guide for the Traveller at Heart

After exploring various corners of the earth with your partner in crime turned fiancé, you have decided on a destination wedding. First off, congratulations! Secondly, let`s get to work. Planning a wedding in your locale requires a lot of organization. Cut to a location five hours away by plane, combined with your closest family and friends, and your to-do list may appear overwhelming. But a challenge of the travelling kind has never stopped you before. Follow the six step guide below to ensure your nuptial’s go off without a hitch. Early Bird …catches the worm. Despite 365+ days to plan your special day, it is always good to start on the good foot. Island time can begin after the ceremony. To start, narrow down your resort preference of sun or rustic, indoors versus outdoors, and 5-course barbeque over a late night buffet. Once booked, extend the early bird sentiment…

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…

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 no…

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. As well, work permits…

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. 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 to give the appearance that you are home.…