How to avoid breaking the bank on your March Break getaway

How to avoid breaking the bank on your March Break getaway

Canadian staycations, European adventures and some American destinations round out the list of March Break vacations this year.

Even with the low Canadian dollar there are still many great places to visit. No matter where your holiday plans may take you, CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) recommends the following cost-saving travel tips:

  • Use an experienced and knowledgeable travel agent to help keep you on budget.
  • Prepay in Canadian dollars for accommodations, car rentals, attraction tickets and city tours.
  • Set a daily budget for incidentals to help keep the cost down.

“If you are thinking about staying close to home this year, it is the perfect time to discover your own country and explore everything from the great outdoors to big cities with old world charm,” said Silvana Aceto, Media Relations Consultant, CAA SCO.

Popular Canadian March Break destinations:

  • Whistler, British Columbia
  • Lake Louise, Alberta
  • Muskoka, Ontario
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Quebec City, Quebec

If travellers have their heart set on a stateside vacation, there are some special offers for Canadians including resort discounts and a free night stay for those heading south of the border to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Scottsdale, Arizona.

For those looking for a little more bang for their buck, European countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain offer a wide array of attractions, culture, entertainment and nightlife without having to break the bank.

Meanwhile, for expert travel advice and all your travel gear, visit a CAA Store near you.

For over a hundred years, CAA has been helping Canadians stay mobile, safe and protected. CAA South Central Ontario is one of nine auto clubs across Canada providing roadside assistance, travel, insurance services and member savings for our 2 million members.

SOURCE CAA South Central Ontario

Travel Checklist: What Canadians Never Leave Home Without

Travel Checklist: What Canadians Never Leave Home Without

Canadians look forward to their annual vacations, many returning to the same destinations year after year, while others plan for exciting new adventures. Regardless of the type of trip planned, there are some common items travellers always remember to bring with them on vacation. According to a recent RBC Insurance survey, the top item travellers would never leave home without is their passport (75 per cent), followed by electronics (53 per cent) and their medication (49 per cent).Alarmingly, more than half of travellers (55 per cent) would leave home without their travel insurance.

As travellers get older, they are more likely to bring travel insurance when leaving home; whereas only 26 per cent of young adults (age 18 – 34) list travel insurance as one of the items they’d definitely pack when travelling. Instead, young travellers are more likely to remember to bring items such as their electronic devices (69 per cent) and medication (38 per cent).

“This time of the year Canadians across the country are planning for that much-needed break from Canada’s weather,” explains Anita Mukherjee, head of Travel, RBC Insurance. “When deciding what to pack, it’s not surprising that our passport tops the list of items travellers would never leave home without. However, what’s alarming is that Canadians are more focused on their electronic devices, such as a cell phone and laptop, than travel insurance.”

What kind of travellers are Canadians?
Nearly half of Canadians like to play-it-by-ear while on vacation. The rest represent a wide variety of styles:

  • Play-it-by-Ear Pilgrims‘ (44 per cent) plan on where they’re going, but after that they see where the journey takes them.
  • ‘Timid Trekkers’ (18 per cent) don’t stray far from their comfort zone while on vacation.
  • ‘Scheduled Sightseers’ (13 per cent) plan every minute of vacation so it fits within a tightly-packed schedule.
  • ‘Armchair Adventurers’ (13 per cent) are happy to sit back and relax, and leave the adventures to others.
  • ‘Risk-Taking Rovers’ (11 per cent) fear being bored, so they seek adventure at every turn.

Cautious Canadians come prepared; ‘Armchair Adventurers’ sit it out
Leaving home without travel insurance is dependent on the type of traveller that you are. ‘Scheduled Sightseers’ (50 per cent) are most likely to never leave home without travel insurance, just ahead of ‘Timid Trekkers’ (49 per cent), ‘Play-it-by-Ear Pilgrims’ (47 per cent) and ‘Risk-Taking Rovers’ (42 per cent). ‘Armchair Adventurers’ (32 per cent) are least likely to pack travel insurance before leaving home.

Be prepared: Don’t be stuck in a sticky situation
Four in ten (43 per cent) Canadian travellers have experienced at least one unwanted travelling scenario while on vacation, with 16 per cent finding themselves in the lost luggage office and 15 per cent having to make a stop at a local hospital or doctor’s office.

“The results show that no matter what kind of traveller you are, certain situations cannot be avoided,” adds Mukherjee. “It’s often difficult to plan for unexpected circumstances while on vacation. Travel insurance is there to protect you against emergencies or unforeseen events; so it’s important for Canadians to realize the value in having travel insurance and purchase appropriate coverage before leaving home.”

RBC Insurance offers the following tips for Canadian travellers to consider:

  • Keep a photocopy of your passport, insurance policy and all other important documents in a safe place that is separate from the originals.
  • Provide family and friends with a copy of your itinerary. It will help reduce their worries and provide assistance if you get lost or delayed. You should also leave a contact number so they can get a hold of you in case of emergency.
  • Purchase travel insurance and ensure you understand what your policy does and does not cover.
  • Label luggage by putting your name and contact information on the inside and outside of the bag.

About the RBC Insurance Poll
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between December 15 and 20, 2015, on behalf of RBC Insurance. For this survey, a sample of 1,003 Canadians who claim they have traveled outside their home province within the last two years from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel was interviewed online. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian travellers who fit this sample universe been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About RBC Insurance
RBC Insurance®, through its operating entities, provides a wide range of travel, life, health, home, auto, wealth and reinsurance products and solutions, as well as creditor and business insurance services to individual, business and group clients. RBC Insurance has more than four million clients globally. We are one of the largest Canadian bank-owned group of insurance companies, and among the fastest growing insurance organizations in the country. RBC Insurance employs more than 3,000 employees, and is the brand name for the insurance operating entities of Royal Bank of Canada.

SOURCE RBC Insurance

Ready, set, pack your bags! The top 10 cities in Canada are waiting for you to check in

By Lara Vukelich

Canada—from sea to sea—is a land filled with fascinating places and amazing adventures. The only problem: Where to travel? Here are ten of the best, must-see spots for any Canadian determined to discover the true north strong and free.

The new year is here – If your resolution was to do more travelling in the Great White North, you’re in luck. There are loads of intriguing destinations awaiting your arrival, from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador. Whether you want to make use of your lucky skis or your super flattering snorkel mask, you can find the perfect spot to spend your vacation time in 2016. Here are the top 10 Canadian cities to visit this year (in no particular order).


Nanaimo, BC

This slice of harbourfront heaven is on Vancouver Island. Why do you need to pay it a visit? The reasons have a little something to do with the thriving arts district and bounty of heritage buildings, and a lot to do with the lively waterfront district. You may visit Nanaimo for the scuba diving and swimming lagoon, but you’re sure to stay for the loads of restaurants and bars along the shore and the short ferry ride to Canada’s only floating pub. The best time to visit is during the summer, when the climate is mild and you can make the most of the outdoor amenities. Book a room at Coast Bastion Hotel for a stay at an eco-friendly accommodation with stellar water views.

Halifax Maritime Museum

Halifax, NS

If “walkable city” is high on your priority list when you’re seeking a new travel destination: Welcome to Halifax. Of course, if you get a hankering for tobogganing (and who doesn’t, from time to time), the capital of Nova Scotia is still an excellent place to visit. You can also feast on ocean-to-table cuisine until the button pops off your jeans, then meander through the Halifax Public Gardens. Historians of all ages will also want to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, where one of the world’s most impressive Titanic collections is on display. Visit Halifax from May through October, when the weather is best and the number of events is truly impressive. Book a room at the Prince George Hotel for world-class amenities and service.

“Halifax’s rich history always fascinates visitors. The area’s history of European settlement goes back more than 250 years, and that’s reflected everywhere you look. Spots like the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 give visitors the chance to explore the fascinating personalities and stories that shaped this region.” – Trevor J. Adams, Senior Editor at Halifax Magazine

Jasper Winter

Jasper, AB

For a quiet retreat in 2016, head to the alpine town of Jasper. Set amid the towering trees and rugged mountain peaks of Jasper National Park, this unique destination will have you switching off your smartphone (Candy Crush will keep). There are any number of reasons to pay the town a visit: hiking, biking, canoeing, and skiing to name a few. If you keep your eyes peeled for Big Foot as you make your way to the turquoise lakes, we won’t judge. Any time is a good time to visit Jasper; canoe and hike by summer and snowshoe by winter. If you get chilly, forget about your slippers and head to Miette Hot Springs for a dip. Stay at Pyramid Lake Resort and you can write home about your personal, in-room fireplace and private trails.

Tofino surfing

Tofino, BC

Tofino is beloved because it’s quiet, funky, and the surfing is great. It’s a safe bet you’ll love it too. Grab your board when you head to this Vancouver Island destination – the North American surfing is at its peak here. Of course, you can also spend your time whale watching or investigating Hot Springs Cove. Storm watching is another favourite pastime here, so bring your camera and don’t tell your mom what you’re up to (she might get nervous). Go in the winter for storm watching, or pay a visit from May to October for drier weather and better whale watching. A stay at Cox Bay Beach Resort gives you direct access to the sand.

Alma Coast

Alma, NB

Spend some time walking on the ocean floor in 2016 – just because you can! When you book a trip to Alma, located on the shores of Bay of Fundy, you can witness the famous 50-foot tides first hand. At low tide, you can walk out and wiggle your toes in the sands of the ocean floor. While you’re there, be sure to nosh on locally-caught lobster. The best time to visit Alma is summer, when you can witness the breathtaking tides from the docks in Alma Harbour. However, if you visit during the winter, winding snowmobile trails await. Stay at the New Horton Lake Inn: You can’t beat the private garden and spacious front porch.

Old Quebec

Quebec City, QB

Quebec City has maintained its European charm and French heritage, of that there is no doubt. Why should you visit in 2016? Tu vas l’adorer, of course. That’s “you’ll love it,” for our non-French speakers. The city’s Old Town district is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ll be impressed with the array of art, culture, and food. But some of Quebec City’s best assets are found in the quieter attractions: the faint cracks in its storied cobblestone streets and the fresh air wafting through public parks. If you want to avoid high season, keep Quebec off your calendar between the end of June and early September. Spring and fall are lovely times to visit, and you’ll have more of the city to yourself. It’s hard to beat a stay at the Auberge Saint-Antoine, which is known for its fine service and walls laden with French art.

Photo Credit: Suzy Lamont Photography

Photo Credit: Suzy Lamont Photography

Kingston, ON

Kingston’s title as capital was short-lived, but its reputation as a hub for culture is going strong today. Not only can you enjoy a Thousand Islands cruise out ofKingston, but you can put on your best elbow-patch jacket and explore the likes of Fort Henry National Historic Site and the Bellevue House. The best time to visit Kingston is the summer; winter months can be bone-chillingly cold, while summer temperatures hover at a much more temperate degree. Book a room in at the Secret Garden B&B Inn, where you’re treated to a boutique-style experience and plenty of character.

Brockville Park

Brockville, ON

We think a visit to the 1,000 islands area is always a good idea. In 2016, treat yourself to a vacation to historic Brockville, where the menu of indoor and outdoor attractions is extensive and exciting. Make sure to visit the notable Brockville Arts Centre, one of the best historic theatres in the whole country. Then walk the Brock Trail or paddle down the St. Lawrence River. Brockville is friendly and scenic – you’ll be taking postcard perfect pics from the moment you arrive (get your Instagram technique ready). Summer and winter are both good times to visit; when the landscape freezes over, snowshoeing and skiing become favourite pastimes. Stay at the Pine Street Inn B&B for charming accommodation – rooftop terrace included.

“People often ask me what they can expect from their visit in Downtown Brockville. With riverfront trails, cycling paths, shopping, dining, and history; there truly is something for everyone!” – Meg Plooy, Executive Director of the Brockville Downtown Business Improvement Area

St Johns

St. John’s, NL

The City of Legends (otherwise known as St. John’s) has the cosmopolitan nature of San Francisco, but it has never lost its small town charm. People love it for lots of reasons, from the character of historic Water Street to the stunning natural landscapes. You can visit St. John’s with action on the mind and go ziplining or kayaking, or show up with an empty stomach and snack your way down George Street. Temperatures in St. John’s will never be mistaken for Mediterranean, but July and August offer something close to temperate. Of course, if you love the chill, you can visit in winter for a cool weather hike along the East Coast Trail. Book a stay at the Murray Premises Hotel, in the heart of the city, and you’ll have brick walls and stone fireplaces to keep you cosy in your room.

Regina Wascana Center

Regina, SK

Regina is the sunniest capital in the country and the home of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, just to name a few of its bragging rights. It’s also a major city with tons of family-friendly bike trails, attractions, and the charm of hand-planted trees. You can visit Regina for many incentives, including vast Wascana Park and the Regina Globe Theatre. Go ahead, grub on food cart offerings in between visits to the Saskatchewan Science Centre and Government House. The best time to visit the sunny capital is between May and September, when you can linger around Wascana Lake without catching a chill. Stay at the Delta Regina, and you’ll be in the heart of the city with views to brag about!

“There is a lot to love in Regina. From sporting events to cultural sites to entertainment, Regina has something for everyone and every season. With our unique attractions, Regina will capture your heart. Hang with the locals and enjoy some of Regina’s best restaurants and vibrant nightlife. You will find something to love all year round.” – Deborah Rush, Director of Tourism & Branding for Tourism Regina


20 Things You Want to Pack – But Shouldn’t!

20 Things You Want to Pack – But Shouldn’t!

Source: Wendy Perrin | Trip Advisor

What should you keep out of your bag?  Here are things that travel experts and savvy frequent travelers advise never to pack:

  1. More than one pair of shoes

“I have a strict two-pair limit per trip. I wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes onto the airplane, and I pack a nicer pair for dinners/nights out. Depending on the type of trip, I might substitute hiking boots or sandals in place of the dressy shoes. It’s a lot easier not to check luggage when your bag contains only one pair of shoes.”

—Sarah Schlichter, senior editor, Independent Traveler

  1. New shoes
  2. White sneakers

“Shoes need to be broken in before you commit to walking around in them day in and day out.  While sneakers may be comfy from the get-go, in foreign cities bright white sneakers are a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist.”

—Wendy Perrin, TripAdvisor’s Travel Advocate

  1. New underwear

“Take your oldest underwear with holes in them, and when they’re dirty, just throw them away!  Also, use compression bags or packing cubes to organize your clothes; use the compression bags to store your dirty clothes.”

—Nancy Quon

  1. Clothing with patterns

“Instead of clothes with patterns or colors I can wear only once, I pack multi-purpose clothes that won’t look dirty after one use or clash with other items.”

—Josh Roberts, managing editor, Smarter Travel

  1. Clothing with logos
  2. Expensive watches

“I’m always tempted to pack T-shirts or hats with my alma mater or favorite sports team labeled on them, but these clearly shout ‘tourist.’ I usually pack only clothing with no writing on it; it helps me blend in. I also never pack my expensive watch, since it’s another safety hazard.”

—Johnny Jet,

  1. Every medication you could ever need

“Pack your prescription meds, but don’t pack an arsenal of over-the-counter medications and things like throat lozenges. Buy yourself a purse-sized pill container and take what you need in that. Unless you are visiting remote places, most pharmacies abroad are fabulous to spend time in and it can be part of your overall travel experience. Some of my favorite over-the-counter lozenges and topical creams come from France!”

—Robyn Webb,

  1. Clothing that requires ironing or drycleaning

“Hotel laundry services are super-expensive, and there are plenty of great fabrics that can be washed and air-dried so you can bring fewer items and wear them more often.”

—Jeanne McGeehan Egan

  1. Hairdryer
  2. Curling iron
  3. Hairspray

“You just don’t need them. They will have a hairdryer and spray at your hotel—and, at a nice hotel, a curling iron too—all to borrow (says the woman who still packs all three. I blame my mother.)”

—Paula Froelich, editor at large, Yahoo! Travel  and A Broad Abroad

  1. Beach towels

“Hotels give out pool towels, and if you need beach towels, you can buy cheap ones locally and either leave them behind or, if you love them, send them home.”

—Julia Hauldren

  1. High heels
  2. Anything you can buy at your destination

“Unless you are traveling for a wedding or a special event, there are a multitude of modern shoe options that will keep you looking stylish during your travels and are practical enough to use more than once. I never find myself reaching for the heels I used to throw in my bag ‘just in case,’ most of the time because I’ve spent the day exploring the city and my feet are tired.  And anything you don’t pack gives you the perfect excuse to buy while there!”

—Tyler Govaars, The Weekend Edit

  1. Guidebooks
  2. Maps

“Once upon a time we needed to pack guidebooks, but today you can download maps and guidebooks as apps. They are more up-to-date than books and don’t weigh a thing or take up valuable space. And an app such as TripAdvisor for Mobile doesn’t require Internet service to use.”

—Lissa Poirot, editor in chief, Family Vacation Critic

  1. Books

“I know that holding a Kindle is not the same as holding a book, but traveling with one is much easier. Plus, most libraries offer e-books, so you don’t have to pay for great things to read on your trip. You can even download more books from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an Internet connection.”

—Jonathan Sacks, Everybody Hates a Tourist

  1. Laptop

“Unless you have heavy-duty work to do, leave your laptop at home and rely solely on your smartphone. I’ve even started leaving my tablet at home. My Android Note 5 can do just about anything I need to do while on leisure trips.”

—Linda Terrill, The Luxury Travel Group

  1. Luggage

“I do two-night trips with just my laptop bag. If you can avoid checking a bag, you avoid losing a bag, and you save precious moments of your life at baggage claim. If you can avoid even needing overhead bin space, you don’t have to board the plane as early, and you move around unfettered through the airport and through life.”

—Gary Leff, View From The Wing

Top 10 Places to Live or Retire in the World!

Top 10 Places to Live or Retire in the World!

Panama Earns the No.1 Spot in This Year’s Index

“We’re healthier and living a better lifestyle here than we ever did in the U.S.,” says expat Mitzi Martain, who has lived on her farm near Santa Fe, Panama for nearly nine years now. “And our Social Security income covers all our monthly expenses.”

Mitzi and her husband Bill are two of the approximately 50,000 U.S. expats who have found their piece of paradise in this year’s winner—Panama.

“We are so blessed to live where we do,” say Connie and Mikkel Moller, who have called Pedasí, Panama, home since 2012. “Our stress level is 10% of what it used to be.”

Panama has long been a favorite of retirees. You’ll find them along both Caribbean and Pacific coasts, on white-sand islands, living contentedly nestled in mountain valleys, and along the glittering promenade of Panama City. Panama has hands down the best package of retirement benefits in the world. Pick your climate—tropical or temperate. And it’s close to home, just a three-hour flight from Miami.

“It is definitely cheaper than the U.S.,” says Maureen LoBue, who enjoys a beach life in San Carlos. “Water is included in my rent, so I just pay electricity, which last month was $16. My satellite internet service is just $15 a month. And when I buy produce at the local market down the street, I can fill a bag with fresh veggies for less than $5.”

“A couple can manage on as little as $750 a month here, if they own their home,” says expat Carl Conway who (like the Martains) has also found his ideal retirement in the mountain town of Santa Fe.

“Utilities are very low, at around $100 a month for electricity, water, trash pickup, internet, and even cellphone cards. Keep in mind you don’t need heating or air conditioning up here, and that makes a big difference. So even if you rent, a monthly budget of $1,500 is more than plenty.”

In Panama, you can live whatever lifestyle you desire. You can hike green hillsides, explore rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife, or just laze on a Caribbean beach and watch the world go by. And if you’re an urbanite, you can savor the incredible dining and culture of places like Panama City.

“In Panama’s capital I have the best of both worlds,” says IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch. “There’s a growing cultural and arts scene. I collect flyers of all the fabulous activities there are to do here. Opera showcases, art exhibit openings, and handicraft festivals…[and] there are so many new restaurants every week, I stopped trying to keep track.”

The World’s Best Places To Retire In 2016

1. Panama has long been a favorite for retirees and this year it has taken the top spot in our retirement index.

2. Another long-time favorite with expats, Ecuador has taken second place this year.

3. Mexico, which this year scored highly across the board, has once again taken the bronze medal

4. Costa Rica, another firm favorite with IL readers, has notched up an impressive score in one of our new categories; healthy lifestyle.

5. Malaysia is bursting with things to do, see, and experience. From a rich culture to the tantalizing food, you’ll never be short of something to do, hence the country’s high score in entertainment and amenities.

6. This year Colombia has risen two places in the index. Its high scores in healthcare, healthy living, and entertainment and amenities has ensured a spot in the top 10.

7. Puerto Vallarta is undoubtedly one of the best choices in the world.

8. Nicaragua is an immensely affordable place to live and this is where it shines in the index.

9. Sunny Spain has come out on top in the category of infrastructure. This European retirement haven has modern roads, extensive public transportation, and excellent internet coverage.

10. Finishing up our top 10 list, Portugal, like its neighbor Spain, has excellent European infrastructure. Announces 2016’s Best Places to Visit in Canada Announces 2016’s Best Places to Visit in Canada

Sea-to-Sky Country in BC is number one

TORONTO, Jan. 4, 2016 /CNW/ – A low Canadian dollar and cheap gas prices will impact tourism as road trips are expected to dominate travel in the country this year, experts say.

Sea-to-Sky Country, Cabot Trail and Tofino will benefit the most. The full list:

1. Sea-to-Sky Country, BC
2. Cabot Trail, NS
3. Tofino, BC
4. Ivvavik National Park, YT
5. Toronto, ON
6. Irish Loop, NL
7. Calgary, AB
8. Gjoa Haven, NU
9. Montreal, QC
10. Canmore/Banff, AB
11. Halifax, NS
12. Dempster Highway, YT
13. Saguenay, QC
14. Ottawa, ON
15. Okanagan Valley, BC
16. Quebec City, QC
17. Fogo & Change Islands, NL
18. Saskatoon, SK
19. St. Andrews By-the-Sea, NB
20. Muskoka, ON

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