Travel

Partner with Your Doctor when Applying for Travel Insurance

Among the most frequent stories I hear from Canadians who have had their travel insurance claim denied are: “My doctor never told me I had a heart murmur” or “he didn’t say that heart pill was for atrial fibrillation” or “my CT scan didn’t show anything abnormal”—so why would they have reported any of this on their application? Why? Because it’s up to you to know what’s in your medical record when filling out an insurance application—and if your claim is denied for non-disclosure or because you had a pre-existing condition that wasn’t “stable,” you are the one who will have to pay the bill. And no matter how strongly your family doctor protests your denial in a letter after the fact, you are still responsible for providing accurate and up-to-date information to the insurer. The decision to pay your claim or deny it will be made on the basis…

Visitors to Canada Travel Protection: Know Your Options (Part 2)

In the Part 1 of this series, I discussed the importance of Visitors to Canada plans. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the details your visitors will need to consider when purchasing their insurance. Visitors to Canada travel protection plans come in various shapes and sizes. These are not “one size fits all” products. The first rule is to buy travel insurance before your visitors leave home—to become effective when they first set foot in Canada. If you or your visitors buy insurance after they arrive, they will be subject to a waiting period—two, three, or even five days—before coverage for any sickness becomes effective. (Coverage for accidents is effective immediately.) In most cases, if you’re buying or ordering a plan for a parent or relative who will be staying with you for a short time, a single-trip policy is best. But be careful if…

Expecting Visitors to Canada? Protect Them and Yourselves with Health Insurance (Part 1)

One of the most baffling myths passed on about Canadian health care is that it’s free. Far from it: you pay for it very handsomely in your taxes every time you buy gas, a pair of shoes, or a case of beer. In fact, you pay some of the highest costs for health care in the industrialized world, even though you pay nothing when you visit your doctor or a hospital for routine or emergency care. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that same “generosity” will be extended to a friend or relative from another country visiting you over the coming holidays. Let’s face it: hospitals are not the charitable institutions they once were. They may be funded by their provincial governments, but only for care of their residents.  All others pay cash—or, if they’re from another province, by funds transferred out of their own provincial treasuries. A…

Is Virtual Reality the Future of Cruising?

It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of taking a cruise was linked in one’s mind with leisure: “getting away from it all,” sipping cool drinks in deck chairs, and watching tropical sunsets. No longer. As cruise vessels get bigger and bigger (5,000 passengers is now routine) and the focus of activities turn ever inward—to what the ship has to offer rather than what the itinerary and ports of call provide—you’re going to need a lot of experience with technology to get the most out of your cruise. I’m talking about smartphones, apps, virtual reality headsets, and so on. Better bring your grandkids along. Recently, Royal Caribbean Cruises previewed some of the super-high-tech plans it has for “enhancing” the cruise experience of the future, and it’s about as far away as you can get from the “romance” of the old tramp steamer sailing on the high tide for Trinidad…

More on the Wretched 30-Day US Cross-Border Rule

Of all questions that come across my desk from confused readers, the one most difficult to explain, or justify, concerns the US immigration rule that requires vacationing Canadians to count side trips of 30 days or less, be they back home or to Mexico, as part of their allotted 180-day stay in the US. If those trips are over 30 days, they are not added to the 180-day tally, and the return to the US is counted as a separate trip. This becomes more confusing if our Canadian visitors  become entangled in the seemingly contradictory rules governing the B2 visa (which allows most Canadians to stay in the US for up to 180 days per 12 months), and their obligation to file IRS forms (8840) if they spend large chunks of time in the US each year. Different purposes. Different rules. Let’s sort it out—The easiest first Under the…

2018 Travel Tips for Cuba and Mexico—What Happens Now?

Cuba and Mexico, hit by severe natural disasters this fall, would ordinarily welcome more than 2.5 million Canadians between them this coming year, most during the first four months of 2018. But tourism services in both countries—Cuba battered by Hurricane Irma, and Mexico by two massive earthquakes—are on edge, wondering if the anticipated flow of foreign visitors will dry up given the images of mass destruction that were transmitted out of their countries in September. Let’s take them one at a time. Cuba Despite the dramatic pictures of gigantic surf breaking over Havana’s Malecón (the iconic waterfront esplanade), and the flooding along the entire north shore of this tourism-dependent country, most hotels, restaurants, rum and cigar factories, and historic sites are expected to be fully operational and ready for the winter season beginning in December. Though news of Irma forced a spate of hotel cancellations for early 2018, the…

Can an American Hospital Sue a Canadian Patient?

The hospital bill for an emergency appendectomy in St. Petersburg, Florida, arrives at your home in Canada shortly after you return from your vacation: four days, $80,000 USD. Please Pay Now. What do you do? If you had travel insurance, that likely would not happen—although there are exceptions. But if you had no travel insurance, you have to deal with it. This is not a situation you can ignore. You don’t want the hospital to bounce the bill over to an international collection agency—that happens a lot, and it can make your life anywhere from uncomfortable to miserable. Increasingly, U.S. hospitals are diverting all bills for non-US residents to a growing throng of international companies who specialize in cross-border collections so they—the hospitals—don’t have to deal with the complexities of foreign collections, or travel to your province to sue you. But you are not defenseless. Hospitals don’t like to sue…

Florida’s Keys Invite Visitors Back in the Wake of Hurricane Irma

Hardly had the uprooted palms, shattered roofs, overturned mobile homes, and even stranded fishing boats been cleared off the Overseas Highway connecting the Florida Keys to each other and the mainland, and tourism officials were already planning their strategy to bring visitors, foreign and domestic, back to this southern part of Florida—battered by the vicious winds of hurricane Irma in September. For an area where 60 percent of all spending and 54 percent of all jobs are dependent on tourism (a $2.7 billion industry in these parts), bringing visitors back for the 2018 winter season is a challenge that can’t afford to be leisurely or timid. And for Florida’s Canadian visitors, enjoying an 80 cent loonie, this combination of events might mean some truly meaningful bargains for snowbird, Christmas, or spring break visits. Don’t settle for rack rates—they need you back to show they’re still in business. So how do…

Travel Insurance for Snowbird Season, Part 2: What Should You Look For When Shopping For Travel Insurance?

Early bird specials These are plans sold at cheaper summer rates prior to new price increases going into effect. They can allow you some substantial savings, but remember that if your health changes in any way after you buy your plan and before your leave on your trip (e.g., new symptoms, changes in medications, referrals for tests or consultations), you must tell your insurer so your conditions of coverage and/or premium rates can be adjusted. Your coverage contract is based on your health status on the date your coverage comes into effect –not the date you purchased it. Failure to report such changes can invalidate your coverage.   Multi-trip annual plans If your travel plans call for frequent, short-term trips rather than a single extended six-month sojourn, consider an annual multi-trip plan, the fastest growing travel insurance varietal in the marketplace. Multi-trip plans are convenient in that you apply only…

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…

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…

Though Legal in Canada, Marijuana Remains Banned in the US

Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s efforts to legalize marijuana, Canadian travellers must be warned that carrying it into the US is hazardous business. The US border is a federal jurisdiction, controlled by the State Department, and the importation of marijuana—whether commercially or in small amounts for personal use—is illegal and can get you turned back at the border. Moreover, if, under questioning by the customs and border protection agent, you admit or even give the suspicion that you have ever used pot, even for medical purposes, you can be barred from entering the US forever. If that sounds extreme, understand that it has happened. Leave your “legalize marijuana” t-shirts at home as wearing them would be quite enough for an agent to turn you away. He or she doesn’t need to justify the action. Border agents have the authority to bar your entry for a multitude of reasons they don’t…

South Florida Prepares for Zika 2017

Thanks to a particularly dry winter season, the Aedes aegypti mosquito species has been relatively dormant in South Florida and no new cases of locally acquired Zika virus have been reported by the Florida Department of Health as of the end of March 2017. The last of the warnings for active ongoing transmission of Zika in Miami Dade County were lifted in early December 2016. But with the return of temperatures to the mid to upper 80s, and the impending approach of the rainy season, the threat of mosquito regeneration and risk of Zika transmission returns. To date, the FDOH reports 25 cases of travel-related Zika infection being monitored in South Florida; these are cases involving travelers who have returned from areas where the virus is being transmitted. In addition, 2 cases of locally acquired virus are being monitored, but they are thought to be in residents who were infected…

Can US Border Agents Look at My Phone?

Would you hand your cellphone over to a friend and let them scroll through your messages, photos, and social media accounts? If that doesn’t sound ideal—then what about handing it over to a stranger at the US border? Recent reports of travellers being asked to unlock their phones for inspection when crossing into the US are raising fears about invasions of privacy at the border—and bringing up questions for Canadians who are planning to travel south. If there’s a trip to America in your future, what do you need to know about the potential for your phone or your laptop to be examined by border agents? And if you are asked to hand over your devices and your passwords, do you have to comply? Is it actually legal for border agents to search my phone? The short answer is yes. US border agents are legally allowed to request access…

Should Canadians Be Concerned about Crossing the US Border?

Recent media reports focusing on incidents in which US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have turned back seemingly innocent Canadians—some legal permanent residents, others fully documented citizens—tend to stroke a growing unease about heading south for leisure and business travel. These reports include Canadian school groups forfeiting field trips in the US for fear they might run into visa problems. And there was also a recent report in the US trade journal Travelmarket Report citing the case of a Montreal woman born in Canada who was stopped by CBP officials at a border-crossing point in Vermont and told she would need a visa to enter the US—even though she was a Canadian citizen. Now if this sounds unfair, dictatorial or authoritarian, please remember that this is not new, it has been standard procedure at international borders forever. Entry is a privilege, not a right You can be armed…

Travel to Canada

I have lived half my life in Canada, half in the US, and it has always amazed me that most Canadians I know personally, know more about travel in the US and abroad, than they do about Canada. It’s time to remedy that. But as with travel anywhere else, travel throughout Canada needs some foreknowledge—especially in respect to management of a medical emergency while out of your province. According to several recent surveys, about three quarters of Canadian frequent travelers buy some form of travel insurance when journeying out of the country. They know the financial risks they run by traveling uninsured. But they’re not so sure about the need for travel insurance to cover medical emergencies when traveling to other provinces even though all insurers strongly advise purchase of insurance for coverage within Canada. Do you need it? Portability of medical and hospital services for interprovincial travelers has…

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…