Travel

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…

Keep Track of Your Border Crossings

One of the most frequent questions Canadians who live close to the border shared with the United States ask is how often they can cross over to do some shopping, visit friends, play golf, have dinner, and watch a ball game. Really, it’s not complicated. But that doesn’t mean you can afford to be unprepared, or uninformed about what you are allowed to do and what your responsibilities are. You do have to keep track of your comings and goings. You need to keep your documentation (passport, travel insurance card, etc.) up to date and in order, and you want to keep in constant touch with your government’s border-crossing updates, especially now that the summer vacation season is near. . First be aware that border crossing data is shared by both governments so you must assume all of your crossings are being recorded. Keep your own record so you don’t…

Be Prepared While Borders Return to Europe

If you’re travelling to Europe this summer, be prepared for more border crossing restrictions than you may have been accustomed to in past years, ensure that your documentation is up to date, and make sure you have proof of private supplemental travel health insurance that meets EU standards (€30,000 to €40,000 in coverage). Because of the continuing threat of terrorist activity, many EU countries have reintroduced border inspections and so you need to be prepared to show passports, any relevant visas that apply, and whatever documents border agents ask for. For example, if travelling to Russia to visit family or relatives for more than 3 months you may have to show evidence of recent negative HIV or TB testing. The same is true of Egypt if you’re planning a stay of 30 days or more. If you’re travelling to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, or…

It Is Necessary to Protect your Visitors While They Are in Canada

If you’re expecting friends or family to be visiting you in Canada this summer, one of your top priorities should be to ensure they have appropriate travel insurance to cover them for any accident or illness they may encounter while in the country—and that means from the time they set foot on Canadian soil. Most Canadian travel insurance companies that cover you when you journey abroad or to the US have Visitor to Canada policies that can protect your visitors, but you need to understand how to assist them in applying for and choosing the policy that best meets their individual needs. The first thing they need to understand is that buying a plan before they exit their country is essential if they want to be covered from the moment they arrive in Canada.  If they purchase a policy after they arrive, there will be waiting period—usually 48 hours—before their…