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    2016-01-04-1451918405-8117439-115887250404_9dc1bcbd4f_z.jpg

    Photo credit: Patrick Nouhailler


    Once the holiday festivities have passed, winter starts to sound a lot less appealing. For many Canadians, that means it's time to start planning a warm winter getaway to the Caribbean. However, choosing a Caribbean destination, finding the perfect accommodations and planning what you'll do when you arrive can be overwhelming.

    These eight simple tips will help you plan an unforgettable Caribbean getaway, so you can get a taste of summer during winter's coldest months.

    1. Move Around or Stay Put?
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    Photo credit: mbarrison


    The Caribbean is an area that encourages travelers to visit more than one destination in each visit. Decide whether you want to island hop (cruises make this easy) or if you'd like to stay put and soak in the sun in one destination. Making this critical decision will also help you decide which destinations you'll visit.

    2. Choosing the Destination(s)

    Choosing a destination (or multiple destinations) in the Caribbean can seem like an impossible task. Options range from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Jamaica, and tiny island paradises like Aruba and Curacao. It helps to turn to guides, like Lonely Planet's Caribbean Islands travel guide, to choose a destination that suits your travel wants and needs. Friends and family who have traveled to Caribbean destinations can also offer helpful first-hand advice.

    3. Decide How Long You'll Stay

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    Photo credit: ruurmo


    A key part of understanding how much money you'll need for your getaway is knowing how long you will be traveling. Set your travel dates, so you can start determining your travel budget and shopping for affordable flights. Always make sure your anticipated travel dates don't interfere with work or other obligations.

    4. Book Your Flight

    Booking your flight is the most important part of planning your getaway. Once you have a ticket in hand, your Caribbean getaway is set in stone. Booking a flight can be stressful, but using online travel agencies, like FlightNetwork.com or Expedia.com, can help ensure that you're getting the best deal. Sites that offer price drop protection give travelers the peace of mind that if ticket prices drop, they'll be refunded the difference in fares.

    5. Read Plenty of Reviews

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    Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson


    Reading reviews is a relatively new step in the travel planning process, and it's also one of the most helpful. Reading hotel and resort reviews on sites like TripAdvisor can help you determine if the accommodations will be a good fit for you. Always read a wide selection of reviews to get a broad view of the hotel or resort. Many reviewers may not have the same expectations or standards as you.

    6. Book Your Accommodations

    After booking your flight, booking your accommodations is the next most important step. Once your accommodations are booked, you can really start anticipating your upcoming escape. Reserve your accommodations well ahead of time to guarantee you get the room and amenities you want.

    Keep in mind that there is no international standard in terms of hotel ratings, so what may be a four-star hotel in one part of the world may not be the same in another. Be sure you're confident in where you want to stay before you book, and thoroughly read the booking and cancellation policies before solidifying your plans.

    7. Pack Light

    2016-01-04-1451918654-3103705-118446326042_f8a96ba986_z.jpg
    Photo credit: Strange Luke


    Caribbean getaways don't require multiple suitcases. Leave plenty of space in your bags to return home with souvenirs without the worry of paying hefty overweight baggage fees. A Caribbean getaway means you'll be spending a lot of time in your bathing suit, shorts and other lightweight options, so don't pack for weather or events you're not likely to encounter.

    8. Let Your Expectations Go

    Many travelers expect their winter getaway to continue from start to finish without a glitch. However, mishaps are common while traveling. Delayed flights happen, reservations get mixed up, and rainy days occur. Don't let small, unfortunate circumstances ruin your time away from home. Enter the vacation without any expectations, and you'll be pleasantly surprised with an unforgettable Caribbean experience.

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    All-inclusive holidays have long been favoured by couples and groups of friends getting away and enjoying all they can eat and drink without worrying about blowing their budget on extra add-ons -- a surefire way to reduce post-vacation stress.

    But some of the most stressed holiday-bound folks are those travelling with children. Not only is there an added expense with each little person, but there is also the stress of organization, finding all the right activities for each age to enjoy and actually finding the time to relax. That's why all-inclusive holidays are perfect for families.

    No matter the age of your kids, getting the most out of your all-inclusive can be easier than you think. Do some pre-planning before you book:

    Check into kids' clubs, including what activities you do, the hours they keep and what ages are eligible. Some resorts will have an extra charge for children under the age of four, when the ratio of carer-to-child is higher.

    Investigate if there are adult-only areas and restrictions on-site. These can be either a good thing (peace and quiet when kids are at kids' camps) or a bad thing (eliminates certain restaurants and activities you would like to try with the kids).

    Try to make up a loose schedule of things you'd like to do and try with the kids. It helps to eliminate the inevitable "When are we going snorkeling? Why can't we take a boat ride?" questions over and over again if you know exactly when and where you're going on certain days. Kids like structure, even on holidays!

    And when you're at the resort:

    If you really want the kids to go to a kids' club, take them there the first day, before they have time to say "I'm bored!" while you're trying to read a book on the beach. You can tell them it's part of being at the resort, that kids have to attend this while the adults have their own "camp" to get to.

    It's great to throw some of the rules from home out of the window, but make sure that the kids, and hence you, are getting enough sleep to feel rested. If you know your child won't sleep in no matter how late they go to bed, don't put them to bed too far off their normal bedtimes. Many resorts offer in-room babysitting or kids' activities in the evening. If that's not the case, check into ordering room service on the balcony when the kids are sleeping.

    Most all-inclusive resorts have at least one buffet restaurant. This is so easy for parents as the kids can eat quickly (without waiting for an order to come), try new foods and serve themselves. Don't let them get away with wasting food. If they take too much at one meal, tell them there might not be dessert, or whatever works for you. Make a deal with them to try one new food at each meal, and help them load up on vegetables and fruit, not just hotdogs and fries. You're still the boss of their mealtime, even though the buffet is on offer to them.

    This post originally appeared on www.flightnetwork.com Visit their site for more vacation information.

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    Photo credit: Marina & Enrique


    The aftermath of Nepal's devastating April 2015 earthquake is easing, and there's no better time to visit than now. Sure, some of the country's most famed stupas and monuments will take years, or even decades, to be repaired, but the country's picturesque natural beauty, infectious culture, and welcoming people will always remain. It has now been deemed safe to head back to the earthquake-ravaged country, and it's likely that a visit to the Roof of the World will change your life.

    The following five reasons to visit Nepal prove that the country leaves a lasting impression on all who visit.

    1. You'll Make Cultural Discoveries in the Capital City

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    Photo credit: SarahTz


    It's easy to spend days, weeks, or even months wandering around Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu. This is where you'll travel back in time at Durbar Square, where the city's kings formerly ruled, and discover a Buddhist stupa named Boudhanath that dates back to the first century AD.

    The giant stupas, located throughout Kathmandu and the entire country, serve as reminders of Buddha's path to enlightenment, and you'll see locals practicing Buddhist rituals there at all times of day. You'll quickly discover that the 50-square-kilometre city of Kathmandu offers more culture than most cities 10 times its size.

    2. You'll Meet Some of the World's Friendliest People

    The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that shook central Nepal on April 25, 2015, didn't ruin the spirit of its people. Everywhere you go, you'll be visited with a smile and a "namaste." You'll find that the Nepalese people are eager to show you their favorite cultural sites and scenery. You'll notice that the younger generation and many of the people living in larger cities and near tourist destinations speak English very well.

    3. You'll Notice Your Tourist Dollars Making a Difference

    2016-01-06-1452090027-3101309-10717134253_f2beebb66f_z.jpg
    Photo credit: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


    The recent earthquake affected Nepal in more ways than one. More than 9,000 lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of people's homes were destroyed. Visit Nepal now, and you'll notice the residents are extremely grateful for your tourist dollars. You'll quickly discover that many of the people from which you're buying souvenirs and food were affected in one way or another by the earthquake. Your money may even help them rebuild their home, restaurant or shop.

    4. You Won't Believe Your Eyes

    If there's one part of Nepal that will remain with you for the rest of your life, it's the postcard-worthy scenery you'll see. Nepal is known as the home of Mount Everest, but whether you're sightseeing on a hike or by plane, the images of the towering, snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas will forever be etched in your mind.

    You probably won't venture to the top of the highest mountain in the world, but you'll be blown away by Nepal's scenery whether you're snapping photos of the Gokyo Lakes of Sagarmatha National Park, exploring Bhaktapur, hiking in the Annapurna Mountain Range or boating along the Narayani River. The best advice when visiting Nepal is to come equipped with a quality camera.

    5. Your Tastebuds Will Awaken

    2016-01-06-1452090111-3983661-3521733205_532c5df26a_z.jpg
    Photo credit: they call me Lily


    Nepal is known more for its mountains than its cuisine, but you'll find yourself wanting to stop in every restaurant and momo shop you see. Momos, or Nepalese dumplings, can be purchased on just about every corner and are something that should be tried numerous times on your visit. They can be filled with a variety of vegetables or meats to suit a wide variety of pallets. Curries, homemade flatbreads, fresh fruits, spicy chutneys, dal and fine Nepali teas are just a small portion of the country's numerous cuisines, which vary with each geographic and cultural region.

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    A Vancouver man famous for his travel vlogs and epic selfies is showing some love for his home province.

    Christian LeBlanc posted a YouTube video of a good, old-fashioned (read: very Canadian) skate across a frozen pond in Surrey, B.C. on Sunday.

    The gorgeous drone footage shows dozens of bundled-up people, skating and playing hockey on a massive stretch of ice. (Watch above.)

    The pond is located in the Serpentine Fen nature area, and LeBlanc said people have been skating there when the water freezes "for as long as [he] can remember."




    In May, LeBlanc snapped a selfie with an elephant — dubbed the "elphie" — in Thailand. He also chronicled his journey through Asia on his YouTube channel.

    But as they say, there's no place like home.

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    No one likes shovelling snow. But Richard Laubonet and his students have figured out a way to make it enoyable.

    Put on a catchy African song, add dance moves and some smiles, et voilà! (Watch video above.)



    Laubonet, who owns and runs Djamboola Fitness in Montreal, told The Huffington Post Canada the fun took place Saturday after an impromptu lesson in Jarry Park.

    He had looked over to the children’s play area and noticed it was covered with snow. So he said to his students, “We will shovel this place.”

    They said, "‘OK, no problem! Let’s go!” Laubonet recalled.

    With “Aye” by Nigerian artist Davido in the background, Laubonet and his students got to work. He tasked a friend to take a video and later uploaded the clip to Facebook.

    “Shovelling is usually not happy to do. It’s very hard and people don’t like it,” Laubonet said in acknowledging a universal truth.

    He said he’s received “amazing” feedback over the video.


    “I don’t know why because it’s just shovelling and dancing, but people like it."


    “Thank you for your gift of happiness,” wrote Patricia Charland on Facebook. “Blessings upon you.”

    “I don’t know why because it’s just shovelling and dancing, but people like it,” he said. “They like our smiles, our dance moves — and they like to see three African people, because in our countries there’s like no snow.”

    Laubonet, who moved to Canada 14 years ago from Ivory Coast, teaches hip hop, salsa, and African dance. He created Djamboola Fitness three years ago where he fuses African dance moves with cardio exercises.

    Heartened by the support he’s received, Laubonet said he’s planning a follow-up video with more people, more dancing, and more smiles.

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    You're not Canadian until you've skated through a forest in the dead of winter.

    Luckily, Ontario has a place where you can do that.

    Arrowhead Provincial Park's Ice Skating Trail is a weather-dependent attraction that allows people to skate for 1.3 kilometres in a beautiful Muskoka forest setting.

    And it's approaching its 2016 opening, if recent social media posts are any indication.




    The skating trail opened in 2012, and Tourism Muskoka now says it's become "one of the province's most sought after winter 'bucket list' experiences." Thousands of people skated on it last year, The Toronto Star reported.

    It usually operates from January to March, depending on how cold it is. You can skate the trail during the day, or even at night by torchlight.

    The trail is reminiscent of the "Edmonton Freezeway," a pilot project skating track that opened in Alberta's capital city at the end of December.



    One tries to think of a more Canadian way to experience the country's wilderness.

    And one fails.

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    Written by Karen Kwan for AmongMen.com

    You're either a Las Vegas type or not -- that is, until now. With all of the lights, the non-stop party scene, the gambling, over-the-top restaurants and shows, Vegas is a flashy adult playground that resonates with certain personalities. But with more and more developing in downtown Las Vegas, there's now a more low-key way to enjoy this city that will appeal to Sin City naysayers and have you leaving Las Vegas loving it.

    Stay

    Check into the Downtown Grant. Since you're a good 20-minute drive away from the congested Vegas strip, you may even forget what city you're in. Located in the relatively quiet downtown area (also known as old Las Vegas), the Downtown Grand has spacious modern suites; The Commissary (an airy casual spot where you can grab complimentary coffee in the mornings); budget-friendly breakfasts and lunches; and drinks and snacks until 10 p.m. Our favourite hideaway here? The chic rooftop pool where you can enjoy some sunshine while kicking back on a chaise lounge far away from the din of the slot machines.

    Sweat

    The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series always puts on a good race, with music at every mile and performances from top notch headliners such as Macklemore and Hedley -- as you might expect, the race in Vegas takes it up another notch. Taking place at night under the bright lights of the Strip with plenty of runners dressed as Elvis, superheroes and just plain kooky costumes -- there's even a run-thru wedding ceremony -- the race has a feel-good party energy. Any runner who races knows you need to take in all of the good vibes that you can when you're pounding that pavement. If "serenity now" is more your modus operandi when it comes to fitness, practice yoga beside the soothing view of the dolphin sanctuary at the Mirage or, for an outdoor adventure, head to Red Rock Canyon to hike and take in the beauty of mother nature. Not up for hiking? Sign up for with Pink Jeep Tours that'll bring you in their signature rose-hued jeeps to several scenic stops in the canyon, including Calico Hills and Sandstone Quarry, ending at one spot where you'll get to view pictographs from the land's ancestors.

    Shop

    Fulfill your need for retail therapy at the Downtown Container Park, where independent business owners have the opportunity to open a brick-and-mortar (or, to be more accurate, shipping container) location with short leases and/or just the limited square footage they need to test the market. You can feel good about shopping local; as for what you'll find here, think quirky toys, gourmet chocolates and artsy jewelry your girlfriend will love, along with chilled-out dining spots where you can kick back with a beer on a patio. Should you seek sneakers or sporty apparel, you're better off heading to the The LINQ, where you'll find cool shops such as 12 a.m. Run and Pier 30 for your outfit-of-the-day needs..

    Savour

    Sweet, savoury, or sinful, you can find what you need walking in downtown Las Vegas. You can get the trendy noodle du jour, ramen, just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Downtown Grand at Itsy Bitsy. The satisfying warm and salty bowl of noodles and broth may be just the comfort food you want to soothe any homesick feelings, but you get to slurp them down in a casual modern space, and (even better) enjoy something on the rocks from their choice of Japanese and American whiskeys. If you're in more of a gastropub mood, step over to Park on Fremont where the design of the interior and back patio manages to successfully straddle the line between eclectic and quaint, and the kitchen serves up loads of tasty fried foods such as mac 'n' cheese balls and fried pickles. Then, balance all of the savoury with a hit of sweetness over at O Face Doughnuts (we have four words for you: Nutella and banana poptart). Finally, after a diet of excess, you may be feeling such as we were and wanting something cleaner to eat; head straight to Grass Roots Juice Bar where their ample smoothie bowls will make you quickly feel like you've virtually given your digestive system a good for you scrub down.

    See

    When you think of the views of Vegas, it's often the spectacle of the lights on the Strip that come to mind, but much of downtown Las Vegas is like a free, open-air gallery of fantastical murals, which are often either permanent or still-on-display works from the annual Life is Beautiful Festival. And while you may not be so keen on all of the lights of the Strip, visiting the Neon Museum offers a completely different perspective of classic retro signs piled into an outdoor space known appropriately at the Neon Boneyard. With a thorough tour from one of the museum's knowledgeable guides, you'll feel like you could be sitting next to the movers and shakers at the blackjack tables in Old Vegas's heyday.

    More Travel Content From AmongMen:

    The Cabana Scene In Las Vegas
    A Winter Getaway Guide To Nassau Paradise Island
    Walt Disney World For Adults

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    When it comes to travel, the majority of us are end-goal oriented -- focused on the experiences we're going to have once we arrive. We rate our trips based on destination variables like the weather, the value of our dollar, the people, the food and the activities. Me? I'm a big believer in the journey -- the magical in-between when your trip has yet to be realized and everything still exists in your imagination.

    Toronto Pearson recently welcomed its 40 millionth passenger -- a major milestone for a large airport -- and I got to thinking about all 40 million of the journeys we've helped along.

    Below are three things that make the journey as exciting as the destination itself.

    1. At-home technology:

    It's been said that journeys truly start at home. They begin with a desire or a need to travel: returning to our hometown, visiting friends, or going to a place we've never ventured before. Once it's time to put that plan into action, today's technology gives us the freedom to do it all from the comfort of our couch.

    Technology has closed the gap on booking travel, and redefined the trip planning experience. It's now easier to use your mobile devices to compare prices, hotels and excursions with online services like Expedia and Kayak, which allow us to curate our own idealistic visions without the help of agents or guides, piecing together itineraries based on high-res photos, virtual tours, online reviews and research on the area itself.

    With the world at your fingertips, there's endless opportunity to daydream about your trip well before it begins.

    2. Sophisticated transit:

    Gone are the days when driving yourself to the airport was your only option. Safer, more efficient, environmentally-friendly options without sky-high costs are emerging in cities across the globe:

    • Travel to Shanghai's Pudong International Airport via the Maglev Train, the first commercially high-speed magnetic levitation line in the world;

    • Japan's Shinkansen, otherwise known as the Bullet Train, is the fastest way of getting to and from the airport, reaching maximum operating speeds of 320 km/hour;

    • Take Vancouver's Skytrain for stunning views of the mountains and the city; or

    • Hop aboard Toronto's UP Express for a traffic free trip to Toronto Pearson that runs every 25 minutes.


    Among these more sophisticated transit systems are cabs, subways, streetcars and buses that will help you get to where you need to be. So leave your keys (and the traffic) at home, because we're moving away from car-centric models.

    3. Enhanced customer experience:

    Round the world, transit through an airport has never looked so good. Between security and your gate, you can look forward to a growing mecca of amenities including:

    • Airport entertainment like you've never seen before, like the skating rink in Seoul's Incheon Airport, or one of a dozen concerts that take place each week at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport


    • Health and wellness services, like the Elemis Travel Spa at London Heathrow that helps travellers relax before a long flight

    • Access to globally-recognized luxury brands like Michael Kors, Burberry, and Victoria's Secret.


    And, good news! -- significant investment in more efficient ways to travel -- think automated processing and screening machines, mobile passports, and online check-in -- means you've now got more time to enjoy what airports have to offer on your next layover. It's all about the customer experience, and making your journey an enjoyable one.

    With all of this ahead of you, why wait to get started on your next journey?

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    A California man is upset after airport officials frisked his daughter for nearly two minutes — all over a juice box.

    San Diego resident Kevin Payne and his daughter Vendela were going through security at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina when Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents found the drink in her carry-on, according to the San Diego Tribune. It was larger than the allowed 88-millilitre limit.

    Agents swabbed the bag, which gave them a false reading for explosives.

    The search that then followed was over-the-top, the dad told NBC San Diego.

    "Maybe they need retraining. Maybe they did everything by the book. I don't really know, but it was an uncomfortable situation."

    Vendela told the outlet she couldn't stand the search either. "My dad was making funny faces, silly faces in the mirror and I felt like screaming the whole time," she said.

    In a YouTube video posted by Payne, Vendela complies as a female TSA agent gives her a full-body pat-down.

    The family was kept for roughly an hour in total, Payne told NBC, because of the pat-down and additional screenings. Luckily, their plane was delayed and they made it onto the flight.

    In the end, a TSA spokesperson defended the agents for following proper procedure, reports Inside Edition. Despite this, Payne said he plans to file a complaint.

    According to the TSA's website, since the point of a search is to find any banned items hidden under clothing, enough pressure must be applied. However, the agency says it has different screening procedures for children 12 and under to reduce the likelihood that they'll need a pat-down.

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    Signs are piling up that the modern world has caught up to the future envisioned in "Blade Runner."

    First, there was this image from a smog-filled day in Beijing last year..




    Now, Chinese company Ehang has pioneered a passenger drone that looks very much like the film's flying cars.



    The Guangzhou-based firm used the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Wednesday to show off the Ehang 184.

    It's an aerial vehicle that can transport passengers for a maximum of 23 minutes at sea level, travelling at an average speed of 100 kilometres per hour.

    ces passenger drone

    The drone can only carry a maximum of 220 pounds at one time, and there's enough room inside to carry one person and a 16-inch bag in a luggage trunk.

    It uses four arms and eight propellers, and trips are pre-determined using a tablet that sits in the vehicle, The Guardian reported.

    When the propellers fold away, the whole vehicle can fit in a single parking space.

    One can't help being reminded of "Blade Runner's" Spinner vehicles.



    Ehang hopes to sell the drone for as much as $300,000 later this year, The Guardian said.

    It claims to have taken strong safety precautions: the vehicle will land in the closest safe area if even a single propeller breaks down.

    The Ehang 184 can also fly in thunderstorms, but it's pre-programmed to stay grounded during extreme weather events.

    ces passenger drone

    Ehang's drone isn't the first that the company has designed. It has also built the Ghostdrone 2.0, which users can control using their phones.

    The passenger drone comes as authorities in Canada and the U.S. are looking into new regulations around aerial vehicles.

    Transport Canada said Tuesday that it is looking into stronger laws around such aircraft, CBC News reported.

    "We want to make sure that we encourage aviation, and this is a neat new sector," the department's director of civil aviation, Aaron McCrorie, told CBC's Power and Politics. "We don't want to unduly clamp down on that, but take a balanced approach."

    ces passenger drone

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last month introduced new rules saying that drone operators have to register their toys in a database, The Guardian reported.

    The rules apply to drones weighing over 0.55 pounds.

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    A mental health assessment has been ordered for an Ontario man charged with making threats against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's family as well as female MPs.

    James Martin Platts, 57, of Chatham-Kent was charged with uttering threats to kill after VIA Rail passengers allegedly overheard him on his cellphone, CTV News reported.

    The man reportedly threatened to kidnap Trudeau's children and kill 10 female MPs, according to the Northumberland News.

    A fellow passenger on the Toronto-bound train Tuesday alerted train staff. At a bail hearing in Cobourg, Ont. Wednesday, the court heard that a VIA Rail employee notified police after the man allegedly said, "What about the bomb and anthrax?"

    At the hearing, Platts reportedly claimed he was in charge of Canada's secret service agency, and that he was an agent for U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

    The court heard that Platts, who has a violent history, also visited the prime minister's residence at 24 Sussex Dr. on Christmas Eve before taking a train to Ottawa some days later.

    The Prime Minister's Office told CTV News that it has "complete faith in the police authorities and the RCMP Protective Policing Service when it comes to the security of the Prime Minister and his family."

    Platts has been ordered to undergo a physical and mental health assessment, and told not to make contact with the prime minister or his family, nor with former prime minister Stephen Harper, or any female MPs.

    He is expected in court on Jan. 13.

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    Airbnb has just given Canadians 16 great reasons to ignore the low value of the dollar and go travelling this year.

    The rental service has released a list of the 16 most popular neighbourhoods that travellers flocked to in 2015.

    And they provide lots of great ideas for places to check out right now.



    Topping the list was Chūō-ku, a neighbourhood in Osaka, Japan, which saw 7,000 per cent more Airbnb guests last year, compared to the previous one. The area is home to the ancient Osaka Castle, as well as lots of great street food.

    Also on the list was Bangkok's Banglampoo area, whose most famous feature is Khaosan Road (a.k.a. the backpackers' mecca). But Airbnb will tell you there's plenty more to discover there.

    There are cities that you might not expect. Areas in Atlanta and Dallas are proving very popular, as is a Buenos Aires neighbourhood not normally known for attracting tourists.

    What are you still reading for? Pack your bags!

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    2016-01-08-1452287590-8117692-8446326042_f8a96ba986_z1.jpg

    Photo credit: Strange Luke


    The holiday season has passed and it's time to start planning for your upcoming escape from the cold. However, choosing exactly what to pack for a warm destination, when summer is in the distant past, can be tricky for many travelers. Afterall, you don't want to leave Toronto in your flip flops, but you don't want to arrive in Cuba in your down jacket. These seven simple tips will help you pack strategically for your warm winter getaway without worrying about excess baggage fees.

    1. Wear Your Warm Clothes
    Departing from and arriving back in a cold destination means you'll need at least a couple of layers to get to and from the airport. If possible, leave your heavy winter jacket behind and opt for a sweatshirt or light jacket as your outer layer. You probably won't be spending much time outside between leaving your home and checking-in for your flight, so it's best to leave the bulkiest items behind. Wear a t-shirt underneath your outer layer, so you're not forced to sweat in transit to your hotel upon arrival.

    A comfortable pair of pants and light sneakers are items you'll probably want to use at your destination. Wearing them onboard the plane will also lighten the load in your luggage.

    2. Choose Three Bathing Suits
    2016-01-08-1452287635-3193488-65631063_9d6dfb3523_o.jpg
    Photo credit: Rodrigo Suriani


    Three bathing suits may seem like overkill to some, but you'll probably be spending a lot of time in the ocean or pool, and you don't want to wear a soggy suit everywhere you go. You'll probably find that bathing suits are some of your most used items when in a warm-weather destination.


    3. Don't Forget a Beach Coverup

    Beach coverups are some of the most convenient items to have when you'll be spending a lot of time by the pool or ocean. It doesn't hurt to bring a couple, but if you're short on space, you'll likely find one that you "have to have" at your destination. Coverups are easy to throw on for trips to the snack bar or bathroom, and they can prevent sunburn when you're not ready to go back inside.

    4. Pack Lightweight Clothing
    2016-01-08-1452287680-382856-4132507899_d856e102cc_z.jpg
    Photo credit: Jason Pratt


    Comfortable, lightweight clothing is essential for every warm-weather getaway. You don't have to sport button-down, Hawaiian-style shirts or baggy pants to remain comfortable in hot climates. A number of popular sportswear companies, like Nike and Under Armour, create stylish clothing that wicks moisture away from your body to keep you cool. Stock up on a few essential pieces of moisture-wicking clothing for hot, humid weather, and you'll quickly discover that you can be comfortable and stylish in warm climates.

    5. Remember Sunscreen (and Shades)
    Sunscreen isn't as affordable in many destinations as it is in the U.S. and Canada. Stock up on the sunscreen you need before you go, and you won't waste time searching for an affordable bottle upon arrival. Remember to pack your sunscreen inside a plastic bag or secure case when placing it in your checked baggage before flight.

    Your favorite pair of sunglasses should make it on every warm-weather getaway too. You can pick up a pair for a few dollars at the drugstore or spend a little extra on a pair with polarized lenses that will block glare and increase visual performance.

    6. Choose Your Shoes Wisely
    2016-01-08-1452287735-9773748-1946459342_9f8ce5988f_z.jpg
    Photo credit: Philip Choi


    Shoes require a lot of space in your luggage, so it's important to choose only the pairs you will need. Wear your bulkiest pair of shoes, commonly sneakers, onto the plane, and leave your sandals easily accessible in your bag for when you arrive. Boat shoes are another lightweight and breathable shoe option for travelers who don't prefer flip flops or other sandals. Limit yourself to two or three pairs of shoes if you're hoping to keep your luggage light.

    7. Don't Worry About What You Forgot

    Packing for a warm weather getaway will probably make you feel like you're forgetting something. However, packing light means packing the items you need and leaving the extras behind. More important than what you wear on vacation is that you enjoy a relaxing and adventurous time away from the frigid winter temperatures of the north. Stop worrying about the items you may have left behind, and remember that you now have plenty of room in your suitcase to purchase a few new items while you're away.

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    You don't have to travel far and wide to enjoy a winter getaway you'll never forget. The United States is loaded with epic vacation spots ranging from the white sand beaches of the Florida Keys to the bright lights of New York City and the world-class ski resorts of the Rocky Mountains.

    Wherever you travel in America, there's a place worth seeing nearby. However, these eight winter vacation destinations are ones every traveler should visit at least once.

    1. Lake Tahoe, California
    Whether you're into skiing, snowboarding, nightlife, shopping or sightseeing, Lake Tahoe is guaranteed to be the shining star of your winter. North Lake Tahoe is a haven for nature lovers seeking a more low-key getaway while the South Shore offers countless bars, shops and touristy offerings. Heavenly Mountain Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, Mount Rose Ski Tahoe, and Kirkwood Mountain Resort are just a handful of the area's long list of ski resorts, many of which are world class.

    2. Key Largo, Florida
    2016-01-12-1452618732-8215348-1111004006635_93f9e3179c_z.jpg
    Photo credit: Wilfred Hdez

    Key Largo is the northernmost island of the Florida Keys, and it's a bit more laid-back than its bustling brother farther south. Key Largo is just an hour's drive south of two major South Florida airports, but you'll feel like you've traveled thousands of miles away when you see the turquoise waters, cartoon-like palm trees and postcard-worthy sunsets. Spend days kayaking the mangrove trails, snorkeling, diving or kicking back at one of the island's many seaside restaurants and bars.

    3. Boone, North Carolina
    Boone, a college town in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, is a sleepier version of nearby Asheville. It's a place where you can enjoy a budget-friendly ski or snowboard vacation with a selection of North Carolina's best resorts within reach. Cabin rentals are plentiful near Boone, and the happening downtown area is ideal for apres-ski eating, drinking and shopping.

    4. Tybee Island, Georgia
    2016-01-12-1452618801-9451819-113565297670_ea5c9f9c17_z.jpg
    Photo credit: Melissa Johnson

    Not all warm-weather winter getaways involve a long drive to Florida. Pull off the road earlier on Georgia's gorgeous Tybee Island. Known as Savannah's beach, Tybee Island is a place where you can enjoy uncrowded sands moments from world-class golf courses, deep sea fishing excursions, mouthwatering seafood restaurants, historic beach homes and bustling downtown Savannah. Tybee Island is where rustic natural beauty and southern charm combine to make an ideal place to escape the cold.

    5. Boulder, Colorado
    A couple of strolls up and down downtown Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, and you'll never want to go home. This historic Colorado city, nestled in the Flatiron Mountains, is one of Colorado's most unique cities. Downtown Boulder remains 85 per cent locally owned and operated, which means you'll find some of the state's most unique restaurants, shops, bars and other establishments.

    It's hard not to relax when you're walking the snow-covered streets surrounded by so many people who are more than proud to call this city home. Don't forget to leave downtown every once in awhile to explore the Eldorado and Boulder canyons, which are just as alluring in winter as they are in the warmer months.

    6. New York City, New York
    2016-01-12-1452618839-1554813-1116395996585_a2c1db18e8_z.jpg
    Photo credit: Anthony Quintano

    Whether you make it to New York City in time for the iconic holiday window displays or not, you're guaranteed to feel the magic of the Big Apple in winter. Stay warm by popping into the city's countless cozy museums, theaters, restaurants, shops and nightspots. And don't forget to spend some time exploring New York City's many ice skating rinks, including Rockefeller Center and Central park's Wollman Rink, which remain open until the ice starts to thaw in March.


    7. Las Vegas, Nevada
    There's no bad time to visit Las Vegas. In fact, you'll probably find lighter casino crowds if you visit after the big New Year's Eve rush. You won't miss the usual Vegas days by the pool when you're ice skating on rooftops, dining at restaurants owned by master chefs, celebrating the Chinese New Year or enjoying elaborate winter-themed shows.

    8. Stratton, Vermont
    2016-01-12-1452618908-3014170-1112826740963_774c71438a_z.jpg
    Photo credit: stillwellmike

    It's no wonder Vermont is constantly praised as one of the coolest states in America. Stratton Mountain, in Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest, is one of the many places visitors swoon over, especially in the winter months.

    Stratton Mountain Ski Resort is one of the top ski and snowboard resorts on the East Coast, luring people in for its diverse terrain, endless winter events, concerts, exquisite dining options and mountain village that supplies everything you need for the perfect winter getaway. Stratton is also known for offering some of the most reasonably-priced lift tickets in the country, so you won't have to break the bank for this winter's family ski vacation.

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    2016-01-13-1452715046-2872374-Poland.Poznan.jpg

    The declining loonie has hit Canadian travellers hard but that doesn't mean you have to put your vacation plans on hold. Travelzoo has released its annual list of Wow Deal Destinations for Canadians, showcasing where you can get the best bang for your buck in 2016.

    While you may see other "top vacations" lists circulating in the media, our list is unique. It's geared to Canadians: factoring in our economic situation, currency exchanges and travel trends specific to this year. We've done extensive research, held copious team debates and came up with five destinations for which we think Canadians will see fantastic deals in 2016. Consider this your budget bucket list.

    2016-01-13-1452715102-8485824-IcelandNorthernLights2.jpg

    Iceland

    Why 2016 is the year to go: Icelandair services Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Halifax and will introduce Montreal later this year while WOW Air plans to launch service this spring with prices for as low as $99 each way. The new flights and increased competition will likely push down fares. Reykjavik is also a great layover option and gateway to the rest of Europe.

    2016-01-13-1452715229-9313058-ChinaShanghai2.jpg

    China

    Why 2016 is the year to go: Fares from Canada to China have been on the decline in 2014 and 2015 and Travelzoo Deal Experts predict fares to hit an all-time low in 2016. Additionally, tour operators purchased bulk vacation package inventory in advance due to the declining loonie, which will result in more deals. Vacation packages to China, including flights, hotels, meals, tours and taxes can be found for less than $1000 per person. Travellers should book early, however, as deals will diminish once the inventory runs low.

    2016-01-13-1452715175-8353115-PolandWarsaw.jpg

    Poland

    Why 2016 is the year to go: Poland is one of the only European countries that is still a good deal for Canadians due to the low cost of living. You can find return flights from Toronto to Warsaw for as low as $700 including taxes. Once you're there, you'll pay on average $60 per night for a 4-star Kraków hotel and can dine at the top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor - Restauracja Starka - for $32 per person including drinks.

    2016-01-13-1452715332-5942682-RioChristtheRedeemer.jpg

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Why 2016 is the year to go: Two factors make Rio de Janeiro more accessible and affordable for Canadians in 2016: the declining Brazilian real and a hotel room surplus as a result of the Olympic Games. Rio is one of the few destinations that offers a favourable exchange rate for Canadians as 1CAD = 2.86 BRL. More than 70 new hotels have also been built in anticipation of the Olympic Games, increasing occupancy from 31,000 beds to 51,000 beds. Travellers will find the best deals post-games as the hotels look to fill the increased inventory. Flights are also expected to be reasonable, with return fares for as low as $640 including taxes in the low season.

    2016-01-13-1452715134-688064-DominicanPuntaCana.jpg

    Dominican Republic

    Why 2016 is the year to go: Low fuel costs and expanded flight capacity have helped cut the price of all-inclusive vacations to the Dominican Republic to as low as $815 including taxes. Deals for travel in 2016 are discounted by almost 40% from Toronto and 55% from Winnipeg, when compared to similar packages in 2015. Additionally, Air Canada and Sunwing increased their weekly flights to Puerto Plata. And West Jet is expected to double capacity this June.

    To book your 2016 vacation, visit www.travelzoo.ca.

    Andrea Chrysanthou is the editor of the Travelzoo Canada blog and is based in Toronto, Ontario. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.

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    WINNIPEG — An air passenger advocate is raising licensing concerns with Canada's new ultra-low-cost air travel company, NewLeaf.

    Halifax-based Gabor Lukacs says people should be alarmed that it's an unlicensed company, saying that leaves passengers with a financial risk.

    Recently-launched NewLeaf is partnering with Flair Airlines, based in Kelowna, B.C., to offer cheap flights out of seven smaller airports in five provinces.

    NewLeaf, which is based in Winnipeg, agrees the company does not have its own operating licence from the Canadian Transportation Agency.

    newleaf travel
    The company's CEO says customers have no reason to be concerned. (Photo: NewLeaf Travel)

    But NewLeaf president and CEO Jim Young says the company does not need a licence because its operating partner, Flair Airlines, already has a licence from the agency.

    Young says Flair aircraft and staff will be used for NewLeaf flights.

    "All the same terms and conditions and contracts of carriage exist with Flair as they would exist with NewLeaf," Young tells CTV News. "We're selling seats on Flair Airlines as a result of the NewLeaf brand, so customers should have no concerns at all."

    While Lukacs supports more competition in the aviation industry, he says the licensing arrangement between NewLeaf and Flair could leave passengers in financial limbo if baggage gets damaged or lost during a flight sold through NewLeaf, or if the company cancels or delays a flight.

    "It's a question of who has commercial control, who sets the schedules, who decides what the terms and conditions are and there are some very practical problems with what we see here, which are quite obvious," he says.


    "They have two separate statements about baggage and liability... Now which of them is going to apply? Whichever is best for the airline?


    One of the problems stems from confusion around baggage liability within NewLeaf's General Conditions of Carriage, says Lukacs.

    "They have two separate statements about baggage and liability. One says $750, the other says $1,500. Then go to the bottom of the page and lookup Flair Airlines terms and conditions; they say $250," says Lukacs. "Now which of them is going to apply? Whichever is best for the airline?"

    Chris Lapointe, Flair Airlines' vice-president of commercial operations, says his company is currently working with lawyers and the Canadian Transportation Agency to review Flair's tariff document, including baggage liabilities.

    Lapointe says once the NewLeaf service begins, Flair's tariff document will be applied.

    NewLeaf not required to have license in Canada

    Jack Branswell with the CTA confirms NewLeaf is not required to have its own licence during a review of the Canada Transportation Act, but says that could change.

    "While this review is underway, the agency will not require companies such as NewLeaf, who bulk purchase all seats on planes and then resell those seats to the public, to apply for a licence,'' Branswell writes in email to CTV News.

    "The agency will continue to carefully monitor this issue. Should NewLeaf's business model evolve into that of an air carrier, the agency will require NewLeaf to hold the appropriate licence."

    NewLeaf Travel is promising non-stop trips beginning on Feb. 12, with flights running out of airports in Nova Scotia, Ontario, B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Flights will cost between $89 and $149, which includes all airline fees and additional taxes.

    (CTV Winnipeg)

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    2016-01-15-1452876966-6256309-3947603405_ff09d19ed8_z.jpg

    Photo credit: Roman Königshofer


    Panama should be on your list of places to visit in 2016, and it should probably be the place you visit first. This Central American country, loaded with history, tropical beaches, Latin culture, and outdoor adventures, packs a lot of vacation-worthy punch for its small size.

    The country's use of the U.S. dollar, convenient distance from the U.S. and Canada and affordable accommodation, food and transportation prices set it above other Central American countries. Panama's tourist hotspots don't attract the attention that other Latin American tourist destinations do (think Costa Rica, Belize, Cancun and Cabo San Lucas), so you can experience true Panamanian culture without camera flashes and selfie sticks.

    These six reasons to visit Panama are guaranteed to set your sights on the country known as the "Bridge of the World" for your spring break destination.

    1. Domestic Travel Is Easy
    2016-01-15-1452877007-8213700-19566778240_c5d90df084_z1.jpg
    Photo credit: Ravi Sarma


    You probably won't want to stay in one place for your entire visit to Panama, and you definitely won't have to. It's easy to travel to many of the country's top highlights in just a couple of weeks. Visit Pacific Ocean beaches, the Caribbean beauty of Bocas del Toro, the Panama Canal, the green mountain highlands of Boquete and the towering skyscrapers of Panama City all in one short break from winter.

    2. The Weather Is Perfect

    When you're escaping the cold of the Great White North, you want to return home with a suntan. Panama's dry season spans from mid-December to mid-April, which means you'll enjoy minimal rain with temperatures around 30-degrees Celsius in the daytime and 21-degrees Celsius at night. Travelers who don't prefer the heat will find refuge in Panama's cooler mountain regions.

    3. You Won't Stop Adventuring

    2016-01-15-1452877084-1529443-3896036874_ab1eef5a81_z1.jpg
    Photo credit: Roman Königshofer


    There are plenty of places in Panama to lounge under a palm tree and sip a tropical drink, but the country is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, jungle hiking, ziplining and kiteboarding are just a few of the countless adventures you can engage in when visiting this diverse Central American oasis.

    4. The Money Is Easy

    Panama's currency is the U.S. dollar, which is extremely easy for Americans and nearly as easy for Canadians. You won't have to carry a calculator in your back pocket everywhere you go. Be sure to stick to small bills, less than $20, to ensure the person from which you're buying is equipped with the proper change.

    5. It's Affordable

    2016-01-15-1452877113-4434422-4735101217_ea19f0c092_z.jpg
    Photo credit: Geoff Stearns


    Whether you're searching for a budget-friendly destination or not, Panama's affordability will probably encourage you to experience more. Panama's tourist infrastructure is not as advanced as its neighbor to the north (Costa Rica), and visitors benefit through lower accommodation prices, cheaper tours, $1 beers and countless other ways. Panama's lack of tourist infrastructure also means you enjoy uncrowded beaches and tourist sites.

    6. The Panama Canal

    The Panama Canal is something you may underestimate until you see it for yourself. You may even wonder if it's worth seeing, and the answer is an emphatic, "Yes!" It takes just 20 minutes in a taxi to arrive at the Panama Canal's Miraflores Locks from downtown Panama City. The on-site museum will occupy your time while you await a container ship's arrival at the locks. Watching the massive (and many smaller) ships rise and lower by the power of what is known as one of man's greatest engineering feats is something most visitors never forget.

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    Turkey in the ... wha?!

    Delta Airlines is being mercilessly mocked on social media after a passenger brought a turkey on a flight as an "emotional support animal."

    The strange passenger began trending after Reddit user biggestlittlepickle posted this photo of a turkey sitting in the Comfort Plus section on Sunday:

    View post on imgur.com


    Reddit user unclelimpy, who claims to have known the pilot on that flight, posted this picture, apparently showing the same turkey in a wheelchair:

    View post on imgur.com


    Delta spokesperson Ashton Morrow confirmed to USA Today that the airline had accommodated the turkey under the U.S.'s Air Carrier Access Act.

    The act allows emotional support animals to accompany passengers with disabilities, so long as they have approval from a mental health professional.

    "While we can't always accommodate all pets, Delta employees made a judgment call based in part on extensive documentation from the customer," she said.

    "We review each case and make every effort to accommodate our customers' travel needs while also taking into consideration the health and safety of other passengers."

    delta airlines

    There are some restrictions on animals that passengers can bring aboard.

    Delta doesn't allow travelers to bring creatures including hedgehogs, insects, ferrets, snakes, rodents spiders or farm poultry — although it appears this turkey trotted around that rule.

    This isn't the first time an unusual animal has made its way on to a flight.

    In 2014, New Yorker writer Patricia Marx wrote a lengthy article about therapy animals in which she was permitted to fly with a pig from Newark to Boston.

    Not only did the flight allow the pig aboard, but Marx also had an easier time going through security than she had without it.

    But pigs don't always fly.

    A woman was told to leave a US Airways flight in 2014 after she brought a pot-bellied pig aboard as an emotional support animal, ABC News reported.

    The pig was reportedly being disruptive and causing a smell in the cabin.

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    Canada has no shortage of beautiful places to photograph and in the era of social sharing, many of those photos end up on Instagram. In fact, there are over 15.4 million posts with the hashtag #Canada and another 1 million posts tagged with #ExploreCanada.

    But which places are the most worthy of an Instagram post? Busbud.com, an online bus ticket booking site, crunched the numbers and found the top instragrammed places in each of the provinces and territories. Some are obvious but others will have you scratching your head.


    British Columbia: Grouse Mountain











    Alberta: Lake Louise



    Someone please come to Canada with me!! #workingholiday #canada #2016 #lakelouise

    A photo posted by Jess Fripp (@jess_fripp) on





    That glacier water really knows how to put on a reflection!

    A photo posted by Callum Snape (@calsnape) on





    Saskatchewan: University of Saskatchewan






    Tell me if this is not one of the best #christmas decorations you have seen. I love @usask #YXE #Saskatoon #Usask

    A photo posted by Ankur Jamwal (@jamwalankur) on





    Manitoba: Lake Winnipeg



    Bye bye, Lake Winnipeg. See you next time. #2016 #lakewinnipeg #frozen #snow #ice #dusk #winter

    A photo posted by Ang-job (@angjob) on









    Ontario: Niagara Falls



    Ahh Niagara Falls #LastSummer #Tbt #Nature #canada #beatiful #photographer #ICantwaittogoback #niagarafalls

    A photo posted by Luke Fitzgerald (@fitz_fotos) on





    Ahh Niagara Falls #LastSummer #Tbt #Nature #canada #beatiful #photographer #ICantwaittogoback #niagarafalls

    A photo posted by Luke Fitzgerald (@fitz_fotos) on





    Quebec: Bell Centre







    Montreal all the way #hockey #canadiens #montreal #bellcenter #gopro #fun #family

    A photo posted by DAVE | MTL (@davebng) on





    Newfoundland and Labrador: Marble Mountain







    Amazing colours @newfoundlandlabrador @explorecanada #drone #phantom3 #autumn #ExploreNL

    A photo posted by Jared Jones (@jaredmjones) on





    Nova Scotia: Cabot Trail











    New Brunswick: Chocolate Cove











    Prince Edward Island: Cavendish Beach











    Northwest Territories: Aurora Village



    #breathtaking #Ceciliatraveldiaries #yelloknife #auroravillage

    A photo posted by @cecilia_chan923 on









    Yukon: Yukon Wildlife Preserve



    Bison #yukonwildlifepreserve

    A photo posted by Leah Buchan (@leahbuchan) on









    Nunavut: Baffin Island








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    The phenomena of the aurora borealis (northern lights) and aurora australis (southern lights) have mesmerized humanity since the first sightings hundreds of years ago. The aurora borealis and aurora australis are the result of electrons colliding roughly 80 to 480 kilometres above the Earth's surface, guided by Earth's magnetic field to form two ovals roughly centred at the globe's magnetic poles.

    Named after Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn, and Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind, the dazzling green, pink, purple and white rays of lights are most often viewed between the north and south polar latitudes between 60 degrees and 75 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center. However, the aurora borealis can be less frequently spotted in even more southern areas of places like the United States, Europe and Asia.

    Solar activity hit a peak in 2012, increasing the number of aurora borealis sightings since then. This frequency will continue through 2017.

    No matter how much planning you do, there is no way to predict when the northern lights will appear. But there are several ways to increase the odds of a sighting. While it is possible to see the northern lights from many locales around the world, it's rare to spot them in cities like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and New York.

    Here are Cheapflights.ca's tips for viewing the northern lights, along with 10 places that offer the best chance to see this phenomenon of light and beauty in 2016.

    Tips for seeing the northern lights

    • Location, location, location. Your chances of seeing the northern lights depend primarily on geomagnetic activity and location, but weather, full moon and light pollution from city lights also factor in. The closer to the North Pole you travel, the better your chances for a viewing. Stay away from cities where light pollution interferes with viewing and find places with an unobstructed view of the northern horizon. See our recommendations below.

    • Timing is everything. It's impossible to know exactly when and where the northern lights will appear. However, they are most visible in autumn, winter and early spring (approximately September to March). Don't set your heart on seeing them from April through August in most of the places on our list below, as many are lit by the midnight sun at that time.

    • Check the weather and activity. The aurora borealis are best seen on cold, clear nights when there isn't a full moon. But just standing outside on a cold, clear night in the middle of winter in the middle of nowhere won't guarantee a sighting. Before heading out, check the auroral forecast. The NOAA Space Prediction Center measures the level of geomagnetic activity as measured by the Estimated Planetary K Index (measured in Kp on a scale of 0 to 9). NOAA's Space Weather Enthusiasts Dashboard is also a great resource. If the "geophysical activity forecast" is for "storm" levels, then the chances of seeing the northern lights are greater. A more simplified way to determine auroral activity is to check NOAA's Aurora - 30 Minute Forecast.

    • Stay up late. The aurora borealis is a night owl; it's often best seen between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.

    • Stay for a while. For the best chance of seeing the northern lights, it's best to book a trip that is between three and seven days long in a destination at a high latitude, allowing the best chance for weather conditions and auroral activity to line up with your trip.

    • Patience is key. You will need lots of patience as auroras start out faintly. Look to the north for bands of green-white light that run in an east-west direction. As the light show intensifies over a period that can last seconds, minutes or hours, the lights streak, dance, ripple, arc or spiral southward, creating a dramatic, colourful light show. Many hotels in the destinations below offer wake up calls for northern lights viewings and tour operators are experts for pinpointing sightings.

    • Bring your camera and gear. You will need a wide-angle lens and a sturdy tripod that can withstand strong wind and extended exposure to cold weather. Set the focus to infinity and wait (but be ready! Sightings can come and go in seconds. You don't want to miss that brag-worthy shot!).



    Best places to see the northern lights

    Fairbanks, Alaska, United States
    2016-01-15-1452882086-6232761-Alaska.jpg
    Image: Beverly & Pack, Aurora Borealis, the colored lights seen in the skies around the North Pole, the northern lights, from Bear Lake, Alaska, Beautiful Christmas Scene, Winter Star Filled Skies, Scenic Nature via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Beginning in early September and peaking in the cold, dark nights of winter, the northern lights are most reliably viewed in Fairbanks, Alaska. Fairbanks is geographically under the "aurora oval," and tour operators like Northern Alaska Tour Company and Salmon Berry Tours offer northern lights tours. The best times for viewing are between 12:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. in September and March and between 11:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. during the winter. Consult the University of Alaska Fairbanks Aurora Forecast to determine the best days and times to view the northern lights.

    Alberta and Yukon
    2016-01-15-1452882120-9163062-albertaandyukon.jpg
    Image: Larry Lamsa, Northern Lights via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    There are many places to spot the northern lights in Canada. In the western province of Alberta, the sky becomes ablaze with pulsating colour from September to April. Head to Jasper National Park or Wood Buffalo National Park for a chance to see the northern lights, as well as the Milky Way. A spectacular show also takes place in Yukon, Canada's westernmost territory, each fall. From August to April, it is possible to see the neon green aurora borealis on clear nights.

    Lapland, Finland
    2016-01-15-1452882153-1263510-finland.jpg
    Image: Timo Newton-Syms, Northern Lights via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    One of the most likely spots to view the northern lights is in Lapland, Finland's northernmost region, where the surreal spectacle is visible roughly 200 nights each year (the peak is August to April). The farther north you go, the better your chances. From inside glass igloos at Kakslauttanen Resort near Urho Kekkonen National Park to the comfort of glass-ceiling luxury in the Eagle's View Suite at Hotel Iso-Syöte to the great outdoors snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or dog sledding, there are many options for viewing the light show.

    Cook County, Minnesota, United States
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    Image: USFWSmidwest, Headquarters Overlook via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    On clear nights when there is little or no moonlight, it is possible to see the northern lights in Cook County, Minnesota, four-and-a-half hours north of the Twin Cities. The best time to view the streaky, colourful lights is between 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. It's possible to see the northern lights any time of year on the north shore of Lake Superior, but they are more often seen in winter due to the long nights. Heading outdoors to a location away from the light pollution of the city is all visitors need to see the northern lights, as well as shooting stars and meteor showers, like the Perseid meteor shower from mid-July to mid-August and the Leonid meteor shower in November.

    Browning, Montana, United States
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    Image: Bureau of Land Management, February #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover: Top 15 Places on National Conservation Lands for Night Sky Viewing via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana is one of the best spots in the U.S. for viewing the northern lights. After a day of hiking the park's 1,126 kilometres of trails and enjoying views of the Rocky Mountains, head to St. Mary in the summertime to sneak a peek at the phenomenal light show, which tends to appear most often in the early morning hours.

    Outside Reykjavik, Iceland
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    Image: Moyan Brenn, Northern lights via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Between September and April, locals and visitors alike are treated to heavenly northern lights sightings. Check The Icelandic Met Service for the northern lights forecast and head outside the capital, Reykjavik, to improve your chances of spotting the unforgettable beauty. Reykjavik Excursions offers a variety of northern lights tours August to April including tours by bus or boat and a combo geothermal bath trip paired with a northern lights viewing.

    Lofoten Islands and Trøndelag, Norway
    2016-01-15-1452882236-1620444-Norway.jpg
    Image: L.E Daniel Larsson, Aurora Borealis via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    It's hard to predict when the green, pink and violet dancing lights will appear, but head to northern Norway for your best chance to view them. Options include the Lofoten Islands, Trøndelag and along Norway's coast up to the North Cape. Plan your trip from late September to late March, when the nights are long (between 6:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. is the peak time for sightings). Download the free VisitNorway.com Norway Lights App (for Apple, for Android and for Windows) to find out when and where you can see the northern lights.

    Northern Scotland
    2016-01-15-1452882258-5761430-Scotland.jpg
    Image: Jonathan Combe, Ayton Aurora via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Spotting the magical, dancing northern lights in the U.K. is best done from northern Scotland, especially along the Caithness coast and the Orkney Isles. Other options include Shetland and The Outer Hebrides. While Scotland offers the best chance to see the northern lights, particularly in January, they have been seen as far south as East Anglia, England. Aurora Watch UK provides text message alerts via Twitter @aurorawatchuk when auroral activity is likely to occur.

    Lapland, Sweden
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    Image: Ignacio García, Under the Northern Lights via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    Lapland, in the far northwest corner of Sweden, is a remote area of Arctic plains, mountains and glaciers that is a prime spot for viewing pale pink and light green aurora borealis. From the beginning of September until the end of March, visitors to the two northernmost populated cities of Kiruna and Luleå have a good chance of spotting the northern lights, but one of the best chances is at the Aurora Sky Station at Abisko National Park in Abisko, a village in northern Sweden known for its clear skies, cold nights, and surrounding mountains, which block out any light pollution. A chairlift takes visitors to the Aurora Sky Station observation tower, as well as to an informative exhibit on the northern lights.

    On a cruise along the Norwegian coast
    2016-01-15-1452882306-7442856-Norwegiancoast.jpg
    Image: Gunnar Hildonen, Northern Lights, Tromso via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    While it's not possible to guarantee a sighting of the northern lights, Nurtigruten cruise line is so certain of the odds you will see them on its cruises along the Norwegian coast that the cruise liner promises if the northern lights don't appear, passengers get a free voyage. Options include the 12-day Classic Round Voyage from Bergen, Norway to Kirkenes, Norway and back to Bergen and the 12-day Astronomy Voyage, which follows a similar route.

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