The holidays may seem far away but they're actually closer than you think. So we asked our resident globetrotter Alicia Taggio to help us get a head start planning our winter getaways!
Do: Embrace Mother Nature
A lot of families like to pack their bags and head down south, but there are tons of places in North America that offer some of the best snow conditions in the world! Alicia's personal favourites are the ski resorts in beautiful B.C. She recommends renting a chalet or condo for a week (or even a long weekend). You can save money by cooking your own meals and making your own drinks, and most places come with a hot tub which is her favourite part.
But aside from skiing or snowboarding, most ski resorts also offer other activities like snow shoeing, dog sledding, and more. Alicia actually went dog sledding herself and it was such a neat experience to interact with the dogs, learn their names, and then help feed them after the ride.
Don't: Forget Travel Insurance!
Although this applies to any vacation you take, it's especially important when taking a family vacation. Even if your credit card covers you for travel insurance, make sure you know exactly what is covers, and up to how much they are actually willing to cover. Alicia can't begin to tell you how many unfortunate stories she's heard of people getting sick or injured on vacation, or even suffering from simple things like lost luggage. More than 29 million items of luggage were delayed, damaged or lost at the world's airports last year, which is up 18 per cent from the previous year. And while the statistics show that most misplaced luggage is located within two days, even relatively short delays can create headaches for travellers.
If you're travelling over the Christmas holidays, don't wrap your gifts or security will make you unwrap them at the airport.
Do: Think Outside the Box
Consider completing a bucket list item together: maybe it's seeing Machu Picchu, or taking an eco-holiday in Costa Rica where you get to enjoy paradise, but also learn about the eco-system and volunteer a bit of time to help the local community or environment.Travelling is romantic in its very nature! Even if you're not in one of the most romantic cities in the world like Paris, you are likely to be somewhere that isn't home! That is what makes it special. If you're staying at a resort, choose one that specializes in catering to adults.
Don't: Bring Your Work With You
Even if it means pulling a few late nights to get things done before your vacation, use this trip as a way to unplug from your life at home. Stay off your smartphone/computer and enjoy a week without technology. A lot of us have forgotten how to live without our phones, and even when we travel, we sometimes live behind the camera lens too much trying to capture every little moment. Take a picture or two, but enjoy the experience in front of you too. If you're doing an activity, see if the company offers to take photos or videos of your experience so you can still have the memory, but also fully enjoy the moment.
Surprise your partner with a gift on the trip that they aren't expecting. Maybe it's a day at the spa or reserving a table to have dinner on the beach.
Do: Start the Planning Process Early
Start a private Facebook group where everyone can contribute cool things they find online, or share what activities they would like to do on the trip. Chances are one or two people are putting charges on their credit card, so it's a great spot to share details of what people owe, etc. The great thing about this is that you can also share photos and videos after the trip is over and keep the group alive by sharing ideas on what you want the next girls' trip to be. Alicia knows tons of women that do annual girls' trips now and when you're having a bad day, all it takes is a simple notification from that group to brighten your day about the next one.
Don't: Pack too Much into your Trip
Leave space in your itinerary to wander, get lost, and just enjoy the company of your girlfriends! In most cases, a girls' trip is to catch up and have girls time. Let each girl pick one activity for the day so that everyone gets a turn to experience something different. Even if it's not something you're into, at least you can look forward to doing your activity the next day.
If there's a group of girls on this trip, have a buddy system in place before the trip. Chances are the group will separate at some points, and if there's drinking involved you'll be thanking us for this tip.
Do: Book Early
The days of last minute deals are over. Now it's all about price-drop protection which is essentially booking your trip early, and if the price of your vacation drops before you leave (typically up to 21 days before departure), you can get the difference in price (either cash back or a future travel credit). If you have flexibility, the best deals are usually found in what's called 'shoulder season' which is late November through mid-December, mid-January, and late March through early April.
Don't: Rely on Star Ratings
What many people don't realize is that there is no international standard for hotel star ratings. What you may deem as a three or four star property in Canada or the U.S. may not necessarily translate to that in Mexico or the Caribbean. Alicia's advice is to always book at least one star higher than you think you should so you're not disappointed.
There are no all-inclusive resorts in Hawaii, so if you're planning a trip there keep in mind you'll need to pay for food and drinks.