BC Travellers warned after measles outbreak at Disney Land

CTV Vancouver

Unhappy news at the “Happiest Place on Earth” has sparked warnings for B.C. travellers.

Vancouver father-of-two Graham Barron planned to take his family to Disneyland in February, but a measles outbreak traced to the popular family destination has forced them to abandon their plans.

“Our daughter’s just too young to get vaccinated – you have to be a year old,” Barron said. “We just felt that it wasn’t worth the risk to go, so we cancelled our trip.”

Dozens of recent measles cases have been linked to Disneyland, and health officials in the U.S. and Canada warn anyone who’s not vaccinated to avoid the theme park, at least for now.

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall said the disease, which until recently was all but eradicated thanks to vaccines, is very contagious, and people can be infectious for days before symptoms appear.

“The measles still seems to be spreading,” Kendall said.

“We really want anybody who’s thinking about going to [Disneyland] with their children to be sure that their immunizations are up to date.”

Flight Centre said travellers who do decide to go need to understand that the situation could affect their ability to get insurance.

“Now that people know that there’s this measles outbreak, you’re not able to get insurance to cover you for that,” spokeswoman Allison Wallace said.

Barron was able to get a credit for their vacation package, and said his family will plan another Disneyland trip once the outbreak is over.

 

Canadians plan to spend more money on their vacations this holiday season

TORONTO | CNW

Fewer Canadians will be travelling for the holidays this year, with those who are taking vacations planning on spending more money, finds a new CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM) poll.

Just over one in five (22 per cent) Canadians are planning to travel on vacation during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, down slightly from 25 per cent last year. Those who are traveling – primarily to visit family or friends or bask in warmer temperatures – plan to spend an average of $1,509 on their trip, up 3 per cent from last year. As many as 40 per cent of vacationers will be travelling outside of Canada.

“Whether you’re travelling within Canada for the holidays or heading south for a vacation, it’s helpful to make a checklist of everything you need to do or take with you before you go,” says Steve Webster, Vice President, Travel Cards, CIBC. “There are some easy things that you can do before you travel to help make sure your vacation is worry free – like letting your credit card provider know you’ll be on vacation or making sure your credit card provides the travel medical coverage that’s appropriate for you.”

Key findings of the poll include:

22 per cent of Canadians are planning a holiday vacation in December, down from 25 per cent last yr.

Within this group:

  • They plan to spend on average of $1,509 on their trip, including transportation, accommodation, meals, and other activities, up from $1,462 last year
  • Half (53 per cent) of travellers this holiday season plan to stay within Canada; 34 per cent will say closer to home in their own province, 19 per cent will travel outside their province
  • Four in 10 (40 per cent) will vacation outside of Canada, including 20 per cent travelling to the US and 20 per cent heading to travel spots beyond Canada or the US
  • Visiting family or friends was the top reason for travelling for half (50 per cent) of the group; another 21 per cent indicated their primary reason to travel is to get warm

Top travel concerns

The top concerns cited by Canadians who plan to travel this holiday season include:

  • Getting sick or injured on their vacation (33 per cent)
  • Losing their money or credit cards (10 per cent)
  • Losing their luggage (8 per cent)

“Peace of mind while on vacation is important,” says Mr. Webster. “It’s always important for you to review the protection offered by your credit card before you leave for your vacation, in the event you need medical assistance while travelling, or if your card is lost or stolen while you are away.”

Vacation checklist to ensure peace of mind:

  • Make sure you understand and update your travel protection. Many credit cards offer insurance to protect you and your family, such as travel medical, trip cancellation or interruption, flight delay, lost baggage, or car rental collision/damage.
  • Keep your passport, cash and cards secure, and have a back up form of payment. Carrying a back up payment card or cash can help if you lose your primary method of payment. Be sure to keep them separate and in secure locations, and have important phone numbers written down separately in the event you lose a credit or debit card.
  • Provide Vacation Alerts to your credit card company before you go. Advance notice to your credit card company on your travel plans can help ensure your credit card charges go through and you have use of your credit card for your vacation.
  • Access benefits and rewards from your credit cards to stretch your vacation budget further. For example, your credit card may have features such as reward points to pay for flights, hotels and other travel-related expenses, and discounts on travel-related items such as car rentals.
  • Utilize free budgeting and tracking tools. For example, the CIBC Mobile Banking App lets you track purchases in real time and with the CIBC CreditSmart tool on most credit cards you can set and track your spending, and set up Alerts that remind you when you get close to your limits.

KEY POLL FINDINGS

Among Canadians surveyed, plans to travel on vacation during the December holiday season, by region:

National Average 22%
BC 26%
Alberta 25%
Man/Sask 21%
Ontario 21%
Quebec 21%
Atlantic Canada 17%

Among Canadians surveyed who are planning to take a vacation this December holiday season, average amount they plan to spend, by region:

National Average $1509
BC $1767
Alberta $1487
Man/Sask $1654
Ontario $1599
Quebec $1416
Atlantic Canada $490

Among Canadians surveyed who are planning to take a vacation this December holiday season, primary reason for travelling:

To visit family or friends 50%
To get warm 21%
To get away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays 11%
Timing works for my schedule – the kids are off school / I’m off work 9%
Other 9%

The results were gathered through a Web survey conducted by Leger from November 24 to 26, 2014 among a representative sample of 1,572 English- or French-speaking Canadians, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.47%, 19 times out of 20.  Using data from Statistics Canada, the results were weighted according to gender, age, region, language spoken at home, education and whether or not children are present in the household to ensure a sample representative of the entire population under review.

About CIBC

CIBC is a leading Canadian-based global financial institution with nearly 11 million personal banking and business clients. Through our three major business units – Retail and Business Banking, Wealth Management and Wholesale Banking – CIBC offers a full range of products and services through its comprehensive electronic banking network, branches and offices across Canada with offices in the United States and around the world. You can find other news releases and information about CIBC in our Media Centre on our corporate website at www.cibc.com.

Top 10 Winter Driving Tips To Share

Top 10 Winter Driving Tips To Share

Snow is in the forecast across the country, from a chance of snow in Vancouver, to snow on top of more snow in Alberta and the Maritimes. Winter driving is an important skill in our country, and with the holidays coming up the roads will be busier than ever. Share these winter driving tips with your insurance clients and help keep everyone safe on the road.

1. Avoid the winter slip ‘n’ slide: To ensure your vehicle is ready for Canada’s changing winter weather, switch your all-season tires to winter ones before the temperature drops below 7°C. Winter tires optimize the performance and safety of winter driving. Not convinced you need them? Consider that the braking distance of a winter tire could be up to two vehicle lengths shorter than the braking distance of an all-season tire rolling at 24 km/h.

2. Defrost your windows well: Neglecting to defrost your windows might get you to your destination faster, but it’s a dangerous habit. Plan for a few extra minutes to clean all your car’s windows well. And don’t forget to clear off the top of your vehicle—snow could slide down the windshield and obstruct your view while the vehicle is in motion.

3. Winterize your trunk: Keeping a roadside safety kit in your trunk year-round is a good idea, but winter driving conditions require extra safety equipment. Make sure you’re carrying a scraper for the windshield, a small shovel, a sandbag, candles, and warm clothing like gloves and a hat.

4. Replace worn tires:  It’s important to check your tires each winter season because worn or bald tires can be dangerous. Tires have tread wear indicator bars molded into them. A solid bar of rubber across the width of the tread means it’s time to replace the tire.

5. Don’t mix and match:  Mixing tires with different tread patterns, different internal constructions and/or different sizes compromises the stability of the vehicle. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with four identical winter tires.

6. Top up your fluids: Always keep your gas tank at least half full. On very cold days, the condensation in the tank can freeze and cause problems. Also, don’t forget about your windshield-washer fluid – this is also extremely important on those sunny day!

7. Pump up your tires: For every 5°C drop in temperature, tires lose one pound of air pressure. To ensure optimum fuel efficiency and prevent irregular or premature wear, tire inflation should be checked monthly.

8. See and be seen: It is critical for drivers to see and be seen in low light conditions, and when blowing snow impairs visibility. Always drive with your headlights on.

9. Take a cellphone: For long trips, don’t forget to take a cellphone in case you need to call for help. Pull over to the side of the road and stop your vehicle before making the call.

10. 
Drop your speed to match road conditions: The posted speed is the maximum speed under ideal conditions. In winter, it is safer to drive below the posted speed. No matter how much experience you have, the way your car will move on snow or ice always has an element of unpredictability.

Stay safe over the holiday season! Are you an insurance agent looking for a greater understanding of vehicle insurance in your province? ILScorp has online courses for ICBC Autoplan Agents in BC and an Ontario Auto Expert continuing education course. Visit ILScorp.com to learn more about our online continuing education courses for insurance agents.

10 Holiday Travel Tips to Keep Your Vacation Jolly!

Planning to visit Grandma’s or spending Christmas in Paris? Traveling over the holidays can be notoriously busy, expensive and stressful, but the news isn’t all bad. Check out these 10 holiday travel tips and find some joy this season.

10 Holiday Travel Tips to Keep Your Vacation Jolly!

1. Avoid peak travel dates.
Travel off-peak whenever possible. Fortunately, Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Wednesdays this year, so travel will likely be more spread out than normal, with no obvious peak days.

2. Book early.
Fares are only rising, so those who hold out in hopes of a late-breaking sale are likely to get left out in the cold or pay a very steep price for their procrastination. Be prepared to be flexible with dates and flight times.

3. Shop around.
Comparison shopping has never been easier. During peak travel season, casting the net as wide as possible will help you understand all of your options. For many travellers, price isn’t the only or even the most important factor, especially during the holidays. Thoughtful, deliberate use of the “search adjacent days or airports” features found on many websites may also surrender greatly improved fares and travel times.

4. Know your airports.
Checking alternate airports is a pretty standard tactic, but at this time of year it can really make a difference. You can score on almost every front – parking, rental cars, traffic to and from, nearby hotels – and save both time and money. Smaller airports see fewer flights and therefore, typically, fewer delays.

5. Plot connections carefully.
When booking flights, check your search results carefully for sufficient time during layovers, and build in some time for flight delays and weather woes. Avoiding really tight connections may save you a sprint through the terminal or a missed flight.

6. Leave early.
During peak travel times, many of the delays you’ll face lie on this side of security, from traffic jams and full parking lots to absent shuttles and long lines. Rather than striving to “arrive at the airport early,” you may want to try to “leave for the airport early” to anticipate the peripheral delays you may encounter.

7. Pack wisely.
In the past, you may have been able to fit everything into your carry-on without having to check any baggage – a strategy we still recommend. However, the TSA rules about liquids and gels make this a trickier proposition. When packing, keep in mind that most airlines are now charging travellers a fee for checking any bags on domestic flights (and even some international ones).

8. Use the Web for more than just booking.
The latest self-service developments in online travel can be tremendous time-savers during peak travel times. Whenever possible, print your boarding passes at home, use check-in kiosks or even pull up your boarding pass on your smartphone. Consider doing your holiday shopping online and having your gifts shipped to your destination.

9. Travel early or late in the day.
As a rule, airports are least congested at times when most people would rather be at home or asleep. Delays are far less likely for morning flights, and airports usually unclog as the afternoon and evening peak passes. Caveat: Staffing can be spotty for really early flights, so although your flight is highly likely to be ready to leave on time, check-in may take a while, along with other personnel-dependent steps like riding shuttle buses.

10. Consider package deals.
Peak travel periods can be the best time to buy package deals, even for folks who would never buy one, as the bundled pricing offered by packages can be very competitive, even (or especially) at times of high demand.

A Few Bonus Tips:

  • Be prepared for more than the usual slowdowns at security. Even though the TSA’s liquid and gel rules have been around for many years now, folks who fly very rarely may not be familiar with all the ins and outs, and the newer full body scanners could catch even frequent travellers off guard.
  • Gas up the night before you travel; no one leaves enough time for buying gas on the way to the airport.
  • Investigate your frequent flier options to get better (and better guaranteed) seats.
  • Keep your cool. Airline employees have considerable power over your well-being. Unfortunately, many enjoy wielding it against you, and few respond well to anger.
  • Have phone numbers for everything: your hotel, your car rental agency, your airline, friends at your destination.
  • Choose non-stop flights. The worst, most brutal delays occur in connecting airports, where you have no home, friends or family to retreat to.
  • With airlines continuing to cut back on service, it’s more important than ever to confirm your flight several days before you leave – that way you’ll have a little leeway to make alternate plans if necessary.
  • Don’t overpack even checked luggage; overstuffed bags that must be opened for a security check are much harder to repack.
  • Do not wrap gifts, especially if you intend to carry them on the plane. Even in checked baggage, there is a strong chance they will be unwrapped for inspection by security personnel. Consider gift bags instead of wrapping paper this holiday season – you can easily remove the items from their bags if required and you don’t have to do a last-minute wrapping job at your destination.
  • Give your cell phone a full charge, and write down or program the phone number of your airline so you can call easily as your flight time approaches.

Excerpted from the Independent Traveler 

Want to ensure that your clients are properly protected over the holidays? Review their vehicle coverages as well as travel medical insurance policies with them before they head off on their trip. Not sure what they’ll need? ILScorp has hundreds of hours of online, accredited continuing education classes for insurance agents, to get you up to speed.

Best winter destinations for Canadians

There are lots of ways Canadians like to spend the winter. Some of us like to soak up the sun on a faraway beach, and others are just as happy playing in the snow. Picking one of the best winter destinations for this year’s getaway will depend entirely on the kind of thrills you’re longing for.

Enjoy winter fun

Are you a hardy Canadian who holds no grudges against winter? For you, winter is a chance to do the sports you love and then cozy up to a warm drink near the fireplace? You don’t even mind the inconveniences, like shoveling the driveway or (trying to) defrost the car windows? If you love winter sports, fly to France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain or Austria to ski the snowy Alps or the Pyrenees slopes. Scandinavia is also a paradise for winter lovers; why not visit Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark or Iceland? If you’ve always dreamed of seeing penguins in their natural environment, you would enjoy an Antarctic summer in January; it’s the perfect time to visit these funny little birds.

Soak up the sun

If you’ll do just about anything to escape the cold weather, the Caribbean is certainly among the best winter destinations. The Dominican Republic, Barbados, Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas and Guadeloupe are just a few of the options if you’re hungry for sunny beaches and pina coladas. Surfers may dream of Hawaii, but there’s also the California coast and Mexico, Costa Rica or Brazil. The best time to visit Brazil? In February, of course, during Rio’s famous Carnival. Winter is also a great time to discover Senegal, the magnificent beaches of South Africa, the white sand of the Maldives or the flora and fauna of southern Australia.

Something for everyone  

Winter is a fine time to visit the Sahara desert, go on safari in Kenya or do some trekking in Morocco. Among the best winter destinations abroad, there is also Egypt, India, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the Philippines. In all these places the temperatures are pleasant, and the tourists not too plentiful. If you go to China, choose the southern part where it will be warm during the Canadian winter season.

Do Christmas un-done  

Perhaps you’d like to change the way you do Christmas. If you decide to spend the holiday season abroad, consider Finland with all its colourful Christmas traditions. You could also visit the many Christmas markets in Europe, including those of Strasbourg, Munich and Brussels—unless you prefer to spend Christmas under a palm tree, that is.

Source: Yellow Pages

Top 20 Worst Mistakes To Make in an Airport

By Yuki Hayashi for readersdigest.ca

Mistake #1: Leaving your bag(s) behind: “My husband and I were taking a family vacation to Orlando with our three sons, and one of us left one of our bags on the ground, right by the door of our minivan, in the airport parking lot in Buffalo. We left it behind as we rushed to catch the airport shuttle bus, and didn’t realize the bag was missing until we were checking our baggage,” says Sonja Babic, of Toronto.

Fortunately, this didn’t ruin their vacation – but it could have been worse, had medication or valuables had been in the bag.

Upshot: Note how many bags your party has and conduct regular bag counts before you leave the parking lot, check-in counter, airport Tim Horton’s, baggage claim, etc.

Mistake #2: Being stuck barefoot: Wear socks with your shoes, or pack ankle socks in your carry-on and slip into them in the security line, so you don’t have to hobble across dirty floors barefoot.

Mistake #3: Not packing snacks: Always pack snacks in your carry-on. If you’re stuck in a long security line and run out of time to buy food in the departure lounge, or if your plane doesn’t sell anything you actually want to eat, you’re covered.

Mistake #4: Not scouting the arrival airport: If you’ve got a connecting flight, plan your route to the second gate, before you get off your first flight. If your stopover is under an hour, it could make the difference between making or missing your next flight. Refer to a map of the arrival airport on your mobile device, or rip out the map page of the in-flight magazine.

Mistake #5: Arriving late: True story: a few years ago, my family drove nine hours from Toronto to Newark, NJ – after wasting three hours in a futile attempt to fly standby – because we missed the first leg of a three-plane journey to the volcano island of Montserrat, West Indies. We desperately needed not to miss the second leg of this trip, a twice-weekly fight from Newark to Antigua. If we missed that flight the following morning, it would effectively cancel a bucket-list trip we’d spent over one year orchestrating and pre-paying for.

We made it to our destination – a day late – and with $700 in additional fees, all because we got to the airport with under an hour to spare on a CDA-US flight during peak-travel March Break.

Lesson learned: on busy travel days, arrive at the airport 3 ½ hours before an international flight, 3 hours before a US flight, and 2 hours before a domestic flight. Paranoid? Maybe. Better that than the alternative!

Mistake #6: Parking in the most-expensive lot: You’ll pay a premium to park in the lot closest to the airport terminal. Discount lots save you big-time, but they require a short shuttle drive. Savvy park-and-flyers arrive early so they can be choosy about parking.

Mistake #7: Over-packing: Overweight baggage results in steep penalties. Cumbersome carry-on bags make travelling uncomfortable, particularly if you have young children with you. Solution: edit, edit, edit! Pack less and you’ll stress less.

Mistake #8: Waiting in the loooooooong security lineups: If you travel to the US more than once a year, apply for the joint US-Canada NEXUS program. Cardholders sail through dedicated border clearance lines, making the $50 program fee (free for kids) a bargain in time and aggravation saved.

Mistake #9: Bearing an about-to-expire passport: Some countries won’t let you in if your passport expires within three or even six months of your planned date of entry. Check the entry requirements for the country you plan to visit, and renew your passport in advance, so you don’t get turned back at the airport.

Mistake #10: Not bringing a “permission slip” for your daughter or son: Travel consent letters aren’t just for divorced parents, as Toronto mom Ceri Marsh discovered a couple years back when she tried to fly from Toronto to New York City with her then 2-1/2-year-old.

“We were meeting my husband in New York. I had been told by the Canadian passport office and the airline that I didn’t require a notarized letter from my husband to fly with her on my own. They both said since we’re not divorced, it wasn’t necessary. Of course, in retrospect that’s ridiculous: you can’t tell someone’s marital status from a passport or airline ticket,” says Marsh.

Upshot: Marsh and her daughter were detained by US Customs agents, missed their flight, and had to wait hours for the next available flight. Airline and customs agents are trained to spot possible child abductions, so if there’s a second custodial parent, always carry a notarized permission letter on cross-border, solo-parent trips. “This was about the least pleasant travel experience of my life. Throwing a 2 year old off her schedule is never a good idea,” says Marsh.

Mistake #11: Losing your cool with airport personnel: From callous gate agents to creep-tastic transportation security personnel, everyone has a complaint about airport personnel. But, the fact remains, there are more good apples than bad, so chill.

Also: venting is more likely to get you delayed or arrested than en route to your vacation.

Mistake #12: Not gate-checking your bags: Why pay to check your bags, when you can gate-check them for free? (Provided they are carry-on size, of course).

Mistake #13: Slowing down the security line: Do your bit to keep the security checkpoint moving. Wear easy-on, easy-off shoes. Take your jacket off in line so it’s ready for the bin. Empty your pockets and get that laptop out of your briefcase. Done and done.

Mistake #14: Crowding the baggage claim carousel: Unless you have catlike reflexes and are in great shape, don’t join the scrum right where the bags first drop onto the carousel. Ditto if you have a common-looking bag: a black nylon soft case, for instance:

“Ooops. That wasn’t mine. Can I just squeeze past you to put it back…Oh, sorry for hitting you with that. Hey: is that my bag—excuse me, I need to squeeze past again…”

If you need to use both hands and some swinging action to get the bag off the carousel, pick a spot where you’re less likely to have a neighbour within hitting distance.

Mistake #15: Not IDing your bag properly: For your personal security, check bags with a discrete tag marked with your name, cell phone, and email address – or your business card – never your home address.

Mistake #16: Not IDing your bag flamboyantly: To quickly identify your bag on a luggage carousel and prevent baggage theft, tie a ribbon, use a decorative luggage strap, or decorate the bag with stickers or colourful duct tape.

Mistake #17: Packing valuables into your checked baggage: Just one word: don’t.

Mistake #18: Sketchy airport transportation: Planning ahead saves you money and headaches when it comes to transportation from your destination airport to your accommodations, so don’t even get on your flight without having done your advance recogiscence. In big cities, grab a marked taxi from the official lineup (don’t try to save money on a “gypsy cab”), but if you’re headed to a resort destination in an unfamiliar country, pre-book transportation with your resort.

Mistake #19: Not knowing when to cut your losses: Sometimes you’ll slip up and pack a liquid that’s over 100mL, or forget your Swiss Army keychain is, technically speaking, a knife. Upon being faced with confiscation, you may want to rush back and check the item within a bag. But if it’s a particularly busy travel day, doing so may cause you to lose your flight. Smart travellers know when to cut their losses.

Mistake #20: Not spending when necessary: Yes, the noise-cancelling headphones at the gift shop cost nearly double what they did at Best Buy. But… if you forgot to pack yours, consider that you’ll be spending the next six hours packed like a sardine next to potentially snoring/humming/crying/muttering/mouth-breathing strangers… Sometimes, paying that airport-retail premium may just salvage one airport mistake, preventing it from morphing into something worse: a plane ride from hell

 

 

 

 

 

 

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