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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    What's on your mind when you travel? Sure, you want to see the sights... but sometimes those sights are sitting right across the aisle from you in 16C. So what do you do? A.) Instantly regret your baggy sweatpants, compression socks-and-sandal combo and avoid direct eye contact. B.) Give him or her a coy look and settle in for a movie. OR C.) Send the sexy stranger a drink and start doing some rudimentary mental measurements of the airplane bathroom. More people may be choosing C.) than you might think. surveyed more than 1,000 Canadians on their love, lust and hooking up habits while on the road. Do you flirt more when you're in vacation mode? Would you hook up with someone you met during your travels? Are you up for joining the infamous Mile High Club? Or, have you already? Your secret's safe with us...

    Flying the (very) friendly skies

    We've seen the bathroom on most commercial flights, and there isn't a lot of room to err, stretch. But joining the Mile High Club (bragging rights for getting it on at 30,000 feet) remains an elusive box to check on the bucket lists of many Canadian fliers with 28 per cent interested in pursuing membership (41 per cent of men vs. 16 per cent of women). And, as for those who can say they've done it, 8 per cent of men and 2 per cent of women lay claim to the distinction.

    Respect your elders

    While 41 per cent of respondents aged 25-35 aspire to this high-flying feat, 8 per cent already have. But don't count out the older set just yet. Ten per cent of senior citizens surveyed also hope to get some on-board lovin', and 1.5 per cent of those over 65 have been there, done that.

    Not single, but still ready to mingle

    Would you believe 15 per cent of Canadians have pretended to be single while travelling? Better to believe us than that hottie by the pool with the ring tan: Men are more than twice as likely as women to fib about their relationship status on vacation (21 per cent vs. 9 per cent).

    True romance

    But don't let that discouraging stat deter you from using your vacay as your personal Tinder buffet. A vacation fling could be the real thing -- we have the proof. More than half of those surveyed (51 per cent) said they would be open to dating someone they met on a trip, and 13 per cent of Canadians have had a vacation fling turn into a real relationship (17 per cent of men vs. 8 per cent of women).

    Get away to get it on

    There's just something about a hotel room that makes you feel a little bit sexier. Maybe it's the anonymity or the fact that you aren't responsible for changing the sheets. Either way, 47 per cent of Canadians are more in the mood when they travel (54 per cent of men vs. 41 per cent of women). But why keep it only in the bedroom? You're there to fully experience a new place, after all. Whether it's a secluded strip of sandy beach or some other undisclosed location, 29 per cent of Canadians have made love somewhere unconventional while travelling (35 per cent of men vs. 24 per cent of women).

    What's in your carry-on?

    Like you were taught as a kid, it's best to always be prepared. At least 24 per cent of Canadians took that advice to heart (and libido) and admit to packing (or purchasing) something to spice up a vacation romance. That number climbs to 29 per cent among those under 25.


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    The Caribbean Princess at a port of call.

    What's this Wave Season I keep hearing about?

    No, wave season doesn't have anything to do with surfing or bad weather; it's much more exciting than that. Wave Season is the big annual sale for cruises, which starts in January and finishes in March.

    It gives you the opportunity to get a great deal and the first pick of cabins because you're booking early.

    Oasis ships by Royal Caribbean offer something for every type of traveller.

    What makes Wave Season more special than any other time of the year?

    You may be thinking that cruise sales happen all year around, and you'd be right. The point of Wave Season is the bonuses and extras that are added onto an already discounted price, meaning it's the sale where you'll get most value for your money.

    These can be anything from onboard credits (there are plenty of shops to traipse around on your days at sea), free upgrades or prepaid tips to shore excursions and unlimited alcoholic beverages. While all your meals are included on a standard cruise, drinks are usually extra and can add a hefty sum. So snagging a deal that includes free drink means you can sip that pina colada by the pool or raise that glass of bubbly to the sunset in your fancy evening wear without worry of cost.

    A toast on the Crown Princess by Princess Cruises

    Ok, so what should I know when booking a deal during Wave Season?

    Check the fine print

    There's nothing worse than thinking you've got a great deal and realizing that it's only valid if you do A, B or C. Make sure you read the terms and conditions; there may be a certain cabin category you have to book in order to get a welcome bottle of champagne, or it may be as simple as having to travel within a certain time period.

    Cruise lines may hide the specifics because they want to lure you in. Just know that it probably is still a good deal, but there could be a few catches.

    See the Alaskan Glaciers on the Oosterdam by Holland America

    Know the value

    To get the best deal you can, a bit of research goes a long way. Find out what the usual price is for the kind of cruise you're planning to book. The destination -- whether it's Europe, Alaska or the Caribbean -- and the length of time aboard the ship will change prices drastically.

    As upgrades are the big factor in Wave Season, it really helps to find out what the normal value of these components are so you really know when you're onto a winner. For example, research what an inside cabin usually costs in comparison to a balcony cabin.

    Time to unwind on the Oasis Royal Caribbean.

    Choose a cruise right for you

    There's a lot of variety in cruise itineraries and amenities, so it's important to consider who you're travelling with and what cruise line or destination may be best. Most cruises have a few sea days, which is when amenities become really important. It may come down to the perfect match of free extra and your vacation style that seals the deal.

    Princess Cruise ship headed for the Panama Canal

    If you're travelling with kids, look for a cruise line that organizes great activities or, like P&O and Princess Cruises, has a designated kids club. If you're a retired couple looking for a bit more peace and quiet, Holland America may suit best. For a multi-generational group or as someone who likes a bit of everything, Royal Caribbean is a good bet.

    Just one of the on-board activities on the Oasis Royal Caribbean.

    Wave Season nicely coincides with the end of the holidays and when we're all thinking about our travel plans for the year ahead. On top of that, it's designed for people planning future trips rather than looking for last-minute deals (although you'll see some of those too) so it's really worth taking advantage.

    Check out Travelzoo's cruise deals here.

    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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    Edmonton has always been home to some incredible live music venues.

    Sadly, it's lost a few over the years — R.I.P. Wunderbar, The Artery, Rebar, New City — but it's still an incredible destination for both local and touring artists, especially with new hotspots like The Chvrch Of John, The Aviary and The Needle opening in 2016.

    Whatever your taste, the city has something for everyone, from smooth jazz to electro-funk.

    Here are seven of the best live music venues Edmonton has to offer:

    The Almanac

    A photo posted by The Almanac (@thealmanacyeg) on

    Location: 10351 82 Ave. N.W., Edmonton, Alta.

    Capacity: 80

    The Almanac is a new addition to Edmonton's live music scene. The micro-venue French gastropub on Whyte Avenue hosts small rock, indie and punk shows in a back room on the weekends.

    The Mercury Room

    Location: 10575 114 St. N.W., Edmonton, Alta.

    Capacity: 120

    Delicious vegan restaurant by day, intimate music venue by night. The Mercury Room is the perfect place to get to know some of Edmonton's best local businesses, as the venue is a member of arts organization Blue Skys Arts Lofts.

    The Common

    Location: 9910 109 St. Edmonton, Alta.

    Capacity: 150

    The Common is a nightclub/gastro-lounge known for its great music — hip hop, soul, electronic, funk — but it's also worth a vist for the incredible eats. Chef Jesse Morrison-Gauthier’s umami burger is to die for.

    While you're there, head downstairs to check out 9910 — the room has a floating sound system and incredible acoustics.

    Starlite Room

    Location: 10030 102 St. N.W., Edmonton, Alta.


    Formerly The Bronx, The Rev, Lush, the Starlite Room has gone through a number of reinventions over the years, but it's always been a staple of Edmonton's music scene. The old Salvation Army Citadel building has been home to hundreds of incredible performers of all genres over the years.

    The venue's best feature? The sloping, wood dance floor that gives attendees at the back of the room just as good of a view as those at the front.

    Also worth visiting is Brixx downstairs, a pub that hosts plenty of local shows.

    Yardbird Suite

    If you weren't at the Yardbird Suite Saturday night, you missed an amazing concert performance by three jazz greats! Al...

    Posted by Yardbird Suite on Sunday, 24 January 2016

    Location: 10203 86 Ave. N.W., Edmonton, Alta.

    Capacity: 150

    Yardbird Suite is the only volunteer-run jazz lounge in Canada — fully operated by members of the Edmonton Jazz Society. Named after the Charlie Parker song, the lounge has been the home of Edmonton's jazz scene since 1957. Jazz musicians host jam sessions on Tuesdays.


    Location: 10217 97 St. N.W., Edmonton, Alta.

    Capacity: 84

    Bohemia is a chameleon-like venue. Host to everything from artsy, spoken word performances to noise groups, it's never a dull time.


    just kicking the night off here with Urban Jace #punk

    Posted by DV8 - The Hand That Cradles The Rock on Thursday, 10 December 2015

    Location: 8130 Gateway Blvd. N.W., Edmonton, Alta.

    Capacity: 150

    DV8 is a dive bar host to anything outside the mainstream. Punk, metal, hardcore, you name it.

    Unfortunately, DV8, like many of Edmonton's live music venues, is going through some hard times — the owners are currently hosting a GoFundMe to keep the venue open.

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    Before you hit the various (and fantastic) ski hills in Alberta, you should arm yourself with knowledge. From the ski hill that receives the highest snowfall each year to the hill with the most variety in terrain, we’ve got 10 fun facts (in infographic form) to help you formulate your Skiing To-Do List this spring.

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    License plates in Alberta have the phrase “Wild Rose Country” scrolled across them but after reading this list you might think “Adventure Capital of Canada” more accurate. Here’s a healthy dose of potential exploits to satiate any appetite for action.

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    A Donald Trump presidency in the United States is starting to look like a very real possibility.

    But those who fear that situation needn't worry — you have somewhere to run, and it's one of Canada's most beautiful hidden gems.

    A website called "Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins" was launched Monday, pitching the lovely Nova Scotian island as a place of refuge, should Trump take the White House.

    cape breton trump
    The "Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins" homepage. (Photo:

    The site shows gorgeous pictures of life on Cape Breton Island as it encourages Americans to move there.

    "Don't wait until Donald Trump is elected president to find somewhere else to live," it reads.

    "Start now, that way, on election day, you just hop on a bus to start your new life in Cape Breton, where women can get abortions, Muslim people can roam freely, and the only 'walls' are holding up the roofs of our extremely affordable houses."

    cape breton island
    Cape Breton Island. (Photo: Fotosearch/Getty Images)

    The site was created by DJ Rob Calabrese, who works at 101.9 The Giant in Sydney, N.S.

    Calabrese said it's just a personal project he created in anticipation of a mass American exodus.

    "I know after every election you always hear usually Democrats saying, 'Oh dear, that's it, I'm moving to Canada if a Republican wins,'" he told The Huffington Post Canada.

    "We're living on an island where the population is decreasing. As a joke, we thought of it to maybe get the word out there that, 'Hey, you should come here!'"

    cape breton island
    Cape Breton Island. (Photo: Cheryl Forbes/Getty Images)

    The Cape Breton Regional Municipality's (CBRM) population was just over 100,000 people in 2013, Metro News reported.

    But in years since, there's been a projected decline of one per cent or more.

    cape breton island
    Cape Breton Island. (Photo: Jon Brown/Getty Images)

    While the site carries a link to Destination Cape Breton, it's not affiliated with the travel body.

    It's simply a project by a Cape Bretoner who wants people to know what his home has to offer.

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    As Jack Frost throws the last of his winter tantrums, our thoughts turn to spring and the start of the camping season. While most of you fend off the winter blues with camping plans, we feel like it's time to recap some vital thoughts on campfire cooking.

    For starters, if you are cooking Kraft Dinner from a box (you know, the tangerine-coloured treat that forms the backbone of every Canadian camping trip?), then you're missing out. You should be eating like a king when you're playing in the dirt, and we're here to help.

    Humans have been cooking on fires since time immemorial; it's in your DNA and while I know you've got this, I thought I would go over a couple of pointers.

    1. Your shirt is not an oven glove. The very last thing you want out in the wild is a bad burn. On your hand. Which has to do stuff. Be smart - use your towel when taking hot pots and pans off the fire.

    2. Don't use gas to light a fire. You're better than that. Aside from the obvious risks to your eyebrows, gas residue can affect the taste of your food.

    3. Campfires should be made with ; u wood. Using wet or green wood will only result in smoky fires and ineffectual coals. If it's too wet, rely on your camp stove instead.

    4. Want to be the mac daddy of campfire tips? Of course you do. Make your central fire pit, then make a channel off to one side with stones. This way you can cook on the side channel and use the fire pit to create coals so you never run out of fire before your dinner is done.

    5. Cooking kebabs or corn on the cob? Soak the skewers and the corn for about 20 minutes before tossing them on the fire so that they don't burn.

    6. Sort out your trash. Avoid burning plastic, polystyrene or other items that are likely to produce toxic gases.

    7. Done with the cooking? Fill one of the pots with water and place on the fire to heat while you are eating. This will make washing the dishes a breeze.

    8. Raining? Snowy? Use a knife to whittle down to the dry wood to start a small fire with kindling. You can also use chips or candles to start your fire in adverse conditions.

    9. Get yourself a quality campfire cookbook to broaden your repertoire. Being a great campfire cook will help you to make friends and influence people when you're out in the wild.

    Don't be afraid to experiment, make fresh bread, stew up some hearty meals and make some memories this summer as you share your campfire with your favourite people.

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    Travel Alberta has found a creative way to capture what it feels like to visit the province. And it is breathtaking.

    The provincial government partnered with Critical Mass, a Calgary-based advertising agency, and Flixel, a tool that allows photographers to create "living photos" or cinemagraphs, for Alberta's latest tourism campaign.

    Last year, a similar campaign won an Online Marketing Media and Advertising award for its innovative way of showcasing Alberta's landscapes.

    This year, the team focused on Alberta experiences.

    "This is the first time we've done 360 cinemagraphs," Phil Klassen, Travel Alberta's vice president of consumer marketing, told The Huffington Post Alberta.

    An Alberta snowboarder, frozen in a 360 degree cinemagraph.

    "When 360 cinemagraphs were relatively new, we thought it was a great opportunity to position some of Alberta's unique experiences — whether that be skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing — in a new medium."

    It really allows us to feature Alberta athletics staged in a climactic moment, frozen in time and space, and then overlay that with the natural wonderful landscapes we have to showcase Alberta."

    The images show Albertans camping, snowshoeing, skiing and even enjoying a helicopter tour of the Rockies.

    Take a look at some of the images from last year's Travel Alberta campaign below:

    Crescent Falls, near Nordegg, Alta.

    Northern Lights over Dinosaur Provincial Park.

    Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump.

    Crimson Lake Provincial Park.

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    Northern Alberta is not exactly a hotbed for outdoor movie theatres, but one film-lover used the chilly weather to his advantage.

    Graham Whatmough, an adventure photographer in Fort McMurray built his own outdoor theatre to showcase his work and that of other local filmmakers.

    "I really love being outdoors, so any excuse to play in the snow is great," Whatmough told The Huffington Post Alberta.

    He built the screen over a week by creating a large pile of snow, compacting it, and cutting it into blocks.

    fort mcmurray outdoor theatre

    (Photo: Graham Whatmough/Where The Highway Ends)

    Whatmough then stacked and staggered the blocks and filled in the cracks.

    The amphitheatre measured six metres wide and almost three metres high when it was finished, plus three booths for the audience. There was also space for people to sit on the ground or on lawn chairs.

    snow theatre graham whatmough
    Graham Whatmough stands in front of his snow theatre in Fort McMurray, Alta.(Photo: Graham Whatmough/Where The Highway Ends)

    Warm weather and rain in late January caused the theatre to melt, but Whatmough says he's building a bigger and better version.

    It will be in a larger public space, and a snow removal company has dropped off a bunch of snow for him to use.

    "I will have a radio transmitter set up, so it will be a drive-in made of snow. They'll be able to watch and listen from the warmth of their vehicles."

    Inspired? Whatmough has written up instructions for anyone interested in trying it themselves.

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    The Canadian dollar is at an all-time low and that can mean a lot of re-planning or at least careful planning for Canadians looking to get away during March break.

    So where can you go to get away while not having to plan a getaway from a bank just to pay for it? Here's an easy way: stay in Canada. Time to either embrace winter and book a March break ski trip or find a place to sit by a cozy fire and get some pampering. It's not too late to book one of these All-Canadian locations:

    Upper Hot Springs, Banff, Alberta: The Hot Springs are the perfect way to combat the cold Canadian winters, and to get the whole family outside...and maybe a bit cleaner. There's a kids' area as well, and snowshoeing and hiking are a great prelude to a spring(s) warm up. The Rimrock Resort Hotel is an ideal family escape hotel.

    Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario: Just a 90 minute drive from Toronto, Niagara-on-the-Lake is becoming just as popular in winter and spring as in the summer and fall harvest months. Long famous for its hundreds of award winning wineries, the village also has a playground, shopping, dining, and Fort George for the whole family to get historical. The Prince of Wales Hotel is ideally situated in the middle of town - just look for the horse drawn carriages.

    Quebec City, Quebec: A taste of Europe without the foreign exchange and dipping dollar affecting your joie de vivre in this cobblestoned yet busy and dynamic city. Stroll the streets of Old Quebec - no kid no matter what age can resist riding the Funiculaire. Quebec cuisine at its best and fun shops for the kids to explore. The Auberge Saint-Antoine is conveniently located across from the Musee de la Civilisation, which has terrific family programming.

    Sooke Harbour, Vancouver: Renowned for its sunsets and solitude by the Pacific Ocean, this is contrasted by a range activity choices the whole family can enjoy, including zip lines, hiking, touring, and museums before heading back to stay at picturesque Sooke Harbour House.

    Lake Louise, Alberta: As beautiful in the winter and spring as it is in the summer, a frozen Lake Louise provides a beautiful backdrop to exciting family activities such as dogsledding, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing or a more relaxing horse-drawn sleigh ride all the "kids" will love. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the jewel in this emerald green and white wonderland.

    Want to avoid big or small cities altogether? Take yourself away to Ste Anne's Spa in Grafton, Ontario. Pick the "Train Package" and travel in style from Union Station in Toronto, and be picked up by the spa for first class treatment right at the start. Enjoy their spa and wellness facilities, as well as their world class cuisine. Stay in the main building, or choose from one of their cozy cottages. Great for a mother/daughter spring break getaway.

    This post originally ran on Listen to Kathy's regular travel segment "How She Travels" on Sirius/XM Canada Talks, Channel 167.

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    Many Canadians think sticking around the Great White North is the last thing they'd want to do on spring vacation. However, Canada is home to a slew of spring break destinations that will make you forget about palm trees and strawberry daiquiris in a matter of seconds. These five underrated Canadian spring break hot spots are ones that will make you brag about staying above the border this year.

    Hotel de Glace -- Quebec City
    Forego a sweaty and crowded trip to Disney World for an unforgettable visit to the Hotel de Glace in Quebec City. The iconic ice hotel offers spring break fun for the entire family with a dose of education on Canada's aboriginal groups too. The annual ice hotel features a skating rink, an ice slide, ice carvings, hot cocoa for the kids and those much-needed spring break cocktails served in ice glasses for the adults. Opt for an overnight stay while the hotel is open between Jan. 4 and March 28, or pay a visit for a small admission fee.

    Lake Superior -- Nipigon

    Nipigon, Ontario, is the closest town to the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area -- a conservation area on Lake Superior's northern shore. The lake is known for its frigid temperatures even in the summer months, but the frozen water turns into a playground for outdoor enthusiasts in winter. Visitors can winter camp in the Pukaskwa National Park of Canada and enjoy immediate access to some of the nation's most scenic snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding, ice fishing, winter hiking and more.

    Downtown -- Winnipeg

    Winnipeg is a Canadian city that draws outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, hockey lovers, shoppers and so many more. The downtown Red and Assiniboine Rivers freeze in the winter months to form the world's longest naturally frozen skating trail, known as the Red River Mutual Trail. Visitors can spend days cruising along the expanse of frozen water, joining in on games of hockey, broomball and more. You can even dine outdoors along the river at RAW:almond, a restaurant at the fork of the rivers that's only open in winter.

    George Street -- St. John's

    Have some party lovers in your spring break crowd? Forego a trip to Cancun for one to George Street in downtown St. John's. Newfoundland doesn't scream "spring break destination," but those who have visited know that it's the perfect place for those seeking a hip urban feel with a dose of history and some of the world's most stunning winter scenery. George Street's happening bar scene comes even more alive when the college students are on break, which means you can enjoy your share of spring break cocktails too.

    Hankin-Evelyn Backcountry Ski Area -- Smithers

    Backcountry skiers and snowboarders will find the little-known Hankin-Evelyn Backcountry Ski Area in Smithers, British Columbia, far more fun (and less crowded) than B.C.'s famed resorts. The tiny town of Smithers, with a population of 5,400, is home to one of the most unique backcountry ski experiences on the planet. The Hankin-Evelyn Backcountry Ski Area features a warming hut, cut runs and zero ski lifts. Backcountry beginners can stick to the winding lower runs while experts head to the steeps and open bowls of Hankin Mountain. For those who aren't ready for the backcountry, nearby Hudson Bay Mountain offers lift-served slopes that don't involve dodging hordes of spring break tourists.

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    Alberta has always been home to a number of great music venues — ranging from the rock and jazz clubs and elegant soft-seat concert halls of the bigger cities to small town gems in the form of dive bars and quaint theatres, you don’t have to dig too deep to find a place to hear live music in the province.

    Calgary has even declared 2016 “The Year of Music” in honour of the National Music Centre, scheduled to open in Studio Bell this March, the 60th anniversary of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the 50th anniversary of the Alberta ballet, and the 10th anniversary of beloved indie rock festival Sled Island. Oh, and the 45th Juno Awards are also coming to Cow Town.

    Needless to say, there are too many great venues across the province to list in a single article, but here are five to get you started if you’re looking for a night of music while roaming around Alberta.

    Jubilee Auditoriums North and South (Edmonton and Calgary)
    Built in the 1950s to celebrate Alberta’s Jubilee (i.e. 50th) anniversary, these twin concert halls in Edmonton and Calgary offer superior acoustics, comfortable seating, and remarkably diverse programming to suit music fans of all stripes. Both venues host performances by the Alberta Ballet and various symphony orchestras, but also hold concerts by popular artists ranging from Blue Rodeo to Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, depending on what acts happen to be touring through the province.

    bangg centre

    Banff Centre (Banff)
    In addition to being an educational institution that offers musicians bucket list-worthy artists residencies, the Banff Centre is a magical place to catch some live music. The campus is located just outside of the town of Banff, giving it a cozy mountain retreat feel. The Banff Centre hosts the annual Banff International String Quartet Competition, as well as performances throughout the year from musicians in ever genre imaginable, with the likes of alt-country hero Corb Lund, powerhouse blues singer Matt Anderson, and jazz-pop crooner Jill Barber showing up on the concert calendar.

    Blues on Whyte (Edmonton)
    Located on the ground floor of the historic Commercial Hotel in Edmonton’s vibrant Old Strathcona neighbourhood, with 50 years under its belt, Blues on Whyte is an Alberta institution. This place is as authentic as it gets, with heartfelt lives blues pouring off the stage seven nights a week. For a sure-fire winner, drop in on Saturday afternoon for the club’s famed Blues Jams, which promise to bring the house down week after week.

    Wine-Ohs (Calgary)
    With a chic Bistro upstairs and a stylish speakeasy-style music club in the basement (or as they like to call it, The Cellar), Wine-Ohs offers a complete package for a night out on the town. While the Wine-Ohs Cellar is best known as a jazz venue, the live programming is actually quite eclectic, with live music being offered nearly every night, ranging from country and roots regulars T. Buckley and Tom Phillips to an array of local singer-songwriters and jazz combos.

    Palomino Smokehouse (Calgary)
    Known to locals as “The Pal,” The Palomino brings together authentic Southern-style barbeque (the official food of rock ‘n’ roll) and a well-curated slate of local and touring indie rock bands. Over the years everyone from Garth Brooks (who used the venue for a private show) to local luminaries like Samantha Savage Smith have hit the stage in the downstairs Showroom. With shows taking place at least once a week it’s worth checking out even if you don’t recognize the names of the bands playing: you may discover a new favourite, or at the very least you’ll end up with a great plate of brisket and a bird’s eye view on Calgary’s local music scene.

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    Whoever said "Getting there is half the fun" wasn't facing an eight hour plane ride with little kids. The key to having the least stress free travel with kids (for you and your fellow passengers) is to plan ahead. These nine tips, from the second you book your trip to the time you're ready to head back home, will help you survive and thrive on a trip with rambunctious little ones.

    1) Check plane departure and arrival times, taking time changes into account. Particularly with younger children, it can be advantageous to have them on the plane when they are likely to take a nap. Throwing them too far off their regular sleep schedule with an extra early departure or a too-late arrival can make everyone feel a little out of sorts on the plane.

    2) When possible, pre-book seats and confirm them on-line so that you don't have the stress of negotiating on the flight just to sit next to your own three year old. Some airlines charge for this, but it can be well worth the cost.

    3) Don't necessarily jump up to pre-board the plane if the airline allows "those traveling with young children" to do so. If you're not worried about finding overhead space, keep them in the terminal as long as you can. It can easily be a half hour wait on the plane from first boarding to take-off, even without delays.

    4) Take food. Airline food is not only pricey and of limited selection, it can be hours into a flight before the service is offered to you. Bring easy finger food snacks for the kids, as well as for yourself.

    5) Take a water bottle. Liquids are of course not allowed through security, but once past you can fill up an empty bottle of your own, or purchase a bottle of water for the flight. Juice boxes are usually also available for purchase. Again, the service can be slow to come around on the plane.

    6) Establish rules on the plane before you get on the plane. Talk to the kids about not kicking the seat, grabbing the seat in front of them, and using their inside voices. Make sure to compliment them on their good plane manners as the flight goes on.

    7) Bring tablets and handheld electronics for distractions, but please also have your kids used to wearing earbuds or headphones before you board the flight. It is extremely annoying to have them play a game or listen to cartoons for hours on end, out loud.

    8) Let the kids walk up and down the aisle to stretch their legs, but go with them, and never let them run in the aisles, or enter the aisle if the flight attendants are doing food or drink services. Accidents can happen with hot water and metal carts.

    9) Have a back-up plan if your plane doesn't have in-seat entertainment or if it's just not working. Hit the Dollar Store for some cards, games, colouring, and crafts that aren't too messy. Don't give them to them in the first hour; space them out to keep them entertained throughout the flight.

    It's hard to achieve a perfect flight with any travel companions, let alone little ones. Set your expectations at a reasonable level and remember that anyone offering advice on the flight is simply doing that; don't ground them for trying to help.

    This post originally ran on The Flight Network.

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    Story by Deanne Wong, writer.

    Big and boundless British Columbia is your gateway to outdoor adventure. While the province boasts adventure hubs like Vancouver, Whistler and Victoria, there are plenty of adventures awaiting you across the entire province. We've revealed BC's greatest adventure spots from coast to coast below.

    1. Skydive, Vernon
    Image Source: Fotolia
    Okanagan has a diverse natural landscape with mountains, valleys and deserts. When you skydive in Okanagan you'll be overlooking the historic Okanagan Lake and the turquoise waters of Kalamalka Lake. You might also see the snow-capped Monashee Mountain and the Okanagan floating bridge.

    2. White Water Raft, Golden
    Kicking Horse River in Golden BC is one of Canada's premier white water rafting destinations. The breathtaking scenery of the Canadian Rockies accompanies the intense and wild ride through the rapid waters.

    3. Surf, Tofino
    Image Source: Fotolia
    With stunning beaches and ecological diversity, Tofino is a favourite city escape. The laidback city is recognized as the surfing capital of Canada and as a top surf town in North America. Surfing is a year-round activity in Tofino, with waves rolling in across 35 km.

    4. Bungee Jump, Whistler
    Whistler is home to BC's highest year-round bungee jump. Whistler Bungee is set up on a pedestrian bridge over the glacial-fed Cheakamus River. Adrenaline junkies will enjoy the thrilling rush from the 160 feet drop.

    5. Zipline, North Vancouver
    Image Source: Fotolia
    The mountain zipline tour at Grouse Mountain overlooks the peaks and canyons of Grouse and Dam mountains. This adventure features five lines with soaring speeds at up to 80 km an hour.

    6. Heli-Ski, Bella Coola
    Heli-skiing in BC is an outdoor adventure like no other. Heli-skiers have access to 2.64 acres of prime powder at Bella Coola Heli Sports. That's more than 300 times the size of Whistler Blackcomb. Skiers brave enough for this adventure will feel the most surreal vertical drop.

    7. Kayak, Haida Gwaii
    Haida Gwaii is as far removed from flashing billboards, traffic jams and street lights as possible, making it a prime place to paddle. Cruise the shallows and explore the islands up close by kayak. Keep an eye open for the fantastic wildlife as you paddle. Haida Gwaii has more than 30 distinct subspecies of animals and plants that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

    8. Hike, Valemount
    Image Source: Fotolia
    Located inside Valemount is Mount Robson Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for hiking. With the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and the largest concentration of waterfalls in Canada, Mount Robson is paradise for avid hikers.

    9. Snowmobile, Revelstoke
    Revelstoke has a strong reputation for winter activities, especially snowmobiling. The city gets a whopping 16m to 20m of snowfall each year. Revelstoke has plenty of snowmobile trails including Boulder Mountain, Frisby Ridge and Mount Hall.

    10. Spelunk Caves, Qualicum Beach
    Vancouver Island has the largest concentration of caves in North America. There are more than 1,000 caves! The caves at Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park are a local favourite. Discover ancient fossils and crystal formations while exploring the underground world at Horne Lake in Qualicum Beach.

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    With millennials expected to take over 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025, they bring with them new ideas and principles replacing the workhorse mentality that marked the professional generation before them. One of the biggest motivators for this "experiential generation" is travel. No longer seen as an exclusive domain of the C-suite, travel has become a regular fixture in job descriptions and perks catered towards this younger cohort of executives.

    So what are the priorities for this generation of tech-consumed, highly educated and even higher opinionated go-getters? At Vision Travel, we've narrowed it down to a few key recommendations for using travel as a way to attract, and retain top fresh young talent.

    Business Trips
    While generations before them have approached business travel from a purely utilitarian perspective, millennials see travelling for work as an opportunity to expand their horizons and keep them connected with the global community. As the first generation to grow up with the internet, their world is unencumbered by geographical boundaries, and travelling for work opens up the possibility of learning about new cultures, meeting new people, on top of scoring a new client or contract. Bleisure travel is a rapidly growing trend amongst millennials, who extend their business trips to experience their destination and all it has to offer.

    Overseas Assignments
    Millennials more often than not will seek out positions allowing them to travel. According to PwC's report, 'Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace,' approximately 71 per cent of millennials expect and want to do an overseas assignment during their career. Offering the opportunity to conduct business overseas allows for this demographic to learn new skills and develop a global approach for the company. Global mobility truly is a win-win for everyone.

    Catering to Digital Natives
    Millennials grew up during a period of time where technology and new media completely transformed the world. These individuals were at the forefront of the conception of social media and app-centric networking as well as technological advances allowing for work to be done remotely. By supplying this demographic with the latest tech devices such as a cutting-edge cell phone or a high-tech laptop, you are opening up the doors beyond the 9-5 standard office. No longer are these employees tethered to their office PCs and cubicles. Working remotely is a trend that has been growing rapidly over the last few years. In some cases, employees are even encouraged to bring in their own device (BYOD) allowing individuals to use their personal mobile devices to access company data, programs and systems. This approach is especially advantageous for those who travel often for business.

    Travel Incentives
    Millennials are known for being more motivated by experiences than money and there's no better way to experience life than through the essence of travel. Companies are now starting to offer new prospective employees pre-cations. Rather than a monetary sign on bonus, new employees will receive a luxury vacation instead. This type of travel incentive can also be offered as a performance reward. With much success, some companies are now starting to gamify their performance reviews by offering travel-based rewards based on completing certain tasks or hitting performance milestones. This tactic effectively caters to the work hard, play hard generation.

    Corporate Responsibility
    Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is something that attracts and appeals to millennials when looking for a job. We launched our not-for-profit Vision Travel Foundation back in 2014 as a way to give back to our community. The Vision Travel Foundation allows us to support various social, educational and charitable activities across Canada. Millennials are known for donating their time when looking to give back. According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, Millennials prefer to use their personal skills when giving to charity. Having a CSR program in place gives this demographic a chance to feel good about the work that they're doing for both their employer and their community. Giving employees the opportunity to travel to a location to lend a helping hand not only pleases their inner desire to travel but also makes them feel good about helping the greater good. Some of Vision Travel Foundation's initiatives have included overseas efforts including last year's devastating earthquake that hit Nepal.

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    Photo credit: Alejandro Cabrera

    The Baja California Peninsula is the ultimate snowbird (or any time of year) destination. Hot daytime temperatures cool in the evenings, white sand beaches are splashed by turquoise waters, and many of the peninsula's wonders often go undiscovered.

    Baja is one of the few remaining places in the world where travelers can camp on a postcard-worthy beach or bathe under a waterfall without another soul in sight. Historic cities line world-famous surf spots, and whales splash off the coastline for those escaping the cold in their native countries. There are more must-visit places in Baja than can be counted on one hand, but the following are five you simply don't want to miss.

    Todos Santos

    Whale watchers, foodies, surfers, art enthusiasts and beach lovers will all find that Todos Santos immediately feels like home. This small town is one of the most vibrant in the Mexican state of Baja Sur, with art festivals, famed restaurants, historic buildings and plenty of affordable places to rent for short or extended stays. Whale watching, beachcombing, surfing, fishing and horseback riding are just a few of the many outdoor activities you can enjoy seconds from Todos Santos' happening and historic downtown area.

    Bahia Concepcion
    Photo credit: Comefilm

    You don't have to travel to the Caribbean for beaches that will blow your mind, and you'll find even less crowded ones in Baja. The famous Bahia Concepcion starts south of the expat town of Mulege and spans roughly 20 miles. It's one of the most scenic places in Baja for camping, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking or taking in the beauty of sugar-sand beaches backed by the varying blues of the Sea of Cortez.


    Santiago is a small Baja Sur pueblo, offering an ideal stopping place for those exploring the peninsula by vehicle. The town is just minutes from Aguas Calientes (hot springs), the Canon de la Zorra (Fox Canyon) and the picturesque Rancho Ecologico Sol de Mayo, which features a moderately difficult trail to a freshwater pool fed by a 30-foot-tall waterfall. Santiago is also only about a 1 hour drive from anywhere in the Los Cabos area, offering an adventurous and refreshing retreat from popular tourist hotspots.


    Photo credit: Kirt Edblom

    Loreto is one of Baja's oldest settlements, and the small town along the Sea of Cortez offers a much more authentic feel than some of Baja's more popular tourist destinations. This mountain town, sitting among the stunning Sierra de la Giganta, offers access to uninhabited islands, picturesque beaches, cliffs, and bays that seem as though they were created specifically for lounging, swimming and snorkeling.

    Loreto is a pristine Mexican town with colorful traditions and rich heritage. Spend days dining in authentic restaurants, enjoying local music, shopping and experiencing the many traditions of this centuries-old area.

    San Jose del Cabo

    Cabo San Lucas is known around the world as a top party destination, but its sleepy sister San Jose del Cabo often goes unnoticed. This artsy town with cobblestone streets, a traditional town square and some of the top dining destinations in Baja is the perfect place for travelers who prefer earlier nights and a more quaint town. However, there's no shortage of places to shop, dine and drink, so be sure to bring your wallet.

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    On a recent family trip, Giovanni Alvarado had to be removed from a plane after experiencing a severe allergic reaction. Instead of sympathy, though, fellow passengers reportedly started clapping as the seven year old boy and his parents exited the aircraft.

    The family was on a "bucket list" trip to Bellingham, Washington. Giovanni's father, George, has terminal throat cancer and they aren't sure how much time he has left to live.

    They were ready to fly home to Phoenix with Allegiant Air Monday when Giovanni started having an allergic reaction, KING-TV reported.

    "He began to get very itchy and he was scratching all over," the boy's mother, Christina Fabian, told the network. "He started to get hives, so we informed the flight attendant who informed us that there's dogs on every flight and just smirked, which minimized his experience for me."

    Giovanni's reaction delayed the plane's departure and the airline decided that the family should disembark. As they grabbed their personal items, people sitting at the back of the plane started clapping.

    And now Allegiant is apologizing to the family, who flew home on Wednesday instead.

    "We are truly sorry for the unfortunate circumstances surrounding their previously ticketed itinerary and for the inconvenience they have experienced as a result," it said in a statement quoted by the New York Daily News.

    allegiant air

    Like a number of airlines, Allegiant allows passengers to travel with pets in the cabin. It only allows people to bring domestic cats and dogs, and all of them must be taken in carriers that fit under the plane's seats.

    The airline provides no guarantee of an allergen-free flight.

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  • 02/25/16--14:35: Colorado Is Calling

  • Ski bunnies in the know will tell you that the best powder and grooming in the U.S. is in Colorado. Plan on a few trips to this mountain state to shred the slopes and you're best off getting your mittens on an Epic Pass from Vail Resorts, which gives you unlimited access to five resorts in Colorado (not to mention seven others worldwide). Pack those boots, base layers and goggles pronto and conquer Breckenridge and Vail in one trip (the two resorts are just a half-hour drive apart).


    stay: Literally across the street from Breckenridge Ski Resort, the alpine-style Doubletree by Hilton hotel is so close to one of the gondolas you almost feel sheepish for using the ski valet. Small things like the warm chocolate chip cookies at check-in, the requisite cosy fireplace in the lobby and a recently renovated hot-tub terrace that gives you a gorgeous mountain view all add up to making it just-the-right comfy spot to crash.


    sip: More of a "I ski so I can après-ski" type? The carrot at the end of your Women's Ultimate 4 custom ski lesson with three GFs at Vail is a reserved table in a cosy lounge and a glass of vino (plus the lesson's conveniently scheduled from 12:45 to 3:15 in case you have a kid in ski school you need to pick up). Should you be in Breckenridge mid-January during Ullr Fest (the town's annual festival in honour of the Norse god of winter), register to take part in the Ullr ShotSki so you can (1) have a blast with more than 700 locals lined up and down the city's main street and (2) get bragging rights for taking part in the world's longest shotski.


    savour: If you're loving the Denver Broncos' win of Super Bowl 2016, then make reservations at the NFL Hall of Famer and former Bronco quarterback John Elway's restaurant--although the food itself scores a gourmet touchdown. What more indulgent way to enjoy some flavourful Colorado lamb than at Elway's Vail where it's served as lollipops you dip into a rich green chile cheese fondue. In Breckenridge, at Relish the vibe is friendly and casual, much like the historic town, but the seasonally inspired menu, which includes lusciously tender port-wine braised short ribs and perfectly cooked Rocky Mountain trout, is upscale.


    spa: It's easy to forget from one winter to the next how taxing a long day of skiing can be on the body. To recover from all of the runs you've done, and help make sure you're ready to hit the slopes again during your trip, book an apres-sports massage at the RockResorts Spa at the Lodge at Vail. It's designed to help stretch and soothe tired muscles as you breathe in your choice of calming, active or balancing aromatherapy. Post-treatment, put your feet up in the lounge as you savour a refreshing complimentary sorbet.


    strike: Tie on some chic bowling shoes and get set to knock all of the 10 pins down at Vail's Bol. This super modern bowling alley boasts 10 lanes and there's music keeping the place hopping while you wait your turn to bowl. And forget run of the mill pop and beer most alleys serve. At Bol you can enjoy craft cocktails (so many different ones, the menu fills a binder) and wine (choose from 400 different bottles) and delicious gourmet bites such as crisp organic tofu and scrumptious duck with hoisin bbq sauce and slaw tucked into in pillowy steamed bao.


    --Karen Kwan

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    Arriving in the Azores, it feels like reaching an ethereal outer world.

    Legend says that these nine lonely islands, 1300 km off the coast of Portugal, are leftovers from Atlantis. In reality, the archipelago was born out of volcanic activity, and first settled by Europeans starting in the 1400s. Since then, the Azores have flown under the radar for many travellers, partly due to their distance.


    But it's well worth the trek: the "Hawaii of the Atlantic" is teeming with wildlife, outdoor adventure, spa offerings, and incredible gastronomy. It's easy to explore one island, or hop between several, enjoying a plethora of activities and sights. Before you go, here are a few weird and wonderful experiences to be had in the Azores.

    1. You can eat lunch cooked by a volcano


    Every morning at dawn, locals drive to the Furnas Valley with cast-iron cauldrons filled with a hearty stew. Gently, the pot is lowered into a hole in the earth using a rope. Then, the pit is sealed with a wooden cover.

    This is how lunch is cooked on Sao Miguel Island. Because here in the town of Furnas (Portuguese for "fire"), locals use volcanic heat to slow cook their stews in the ground.


    Over six to seven hours, the stew slowly simmers in its own juices at 80 degrees Celsius or higher, until it's roasted and ready at noontime. After the pots are unearthed, the stew is transported to nearby restaurants, where hungry bellies await.


    At the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, stick a fork into the stew and feast on tender meats and vegetables.

    2. Venture inside the chimney of a volcano


    On Terceira Island, the Algar do Carvão is the world's only extinct volcano where you can enter the cone. Descending a steep staircase, you enter a chamber embossed with ancient stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a shimmering lake at the bottom.


    The hot magma drained from the chimney thousands of years ago, but left behind magnificent geological artwork. Performances are held in the cave on special occasions, showcasing the amazing acoustics of this natural concert hall.

    3. Feast on barnacles, sea snails, and other ocean critters

    (Above: A platter of barnacles at Restaurant Beira Mar)

    It's an "under the sea" buffet on any Azorean island, with chefs featuring endless marine delicacies -- some of which you've likely never tried.

    On Terceira Island, barnacles aren't just for pirates. The Restaurant Beira Mar serves a giant platter of these green crustaceans filled with tender, sweet meat.

    Or go to the jam-packed Petisca Tidbit House on Pico Island. The waiter delivers a sumptuous plate of erva-patinha (seaweed) and grilled limpets (a sea snail) sautéed in garlic, onion, butter, and spices (below).


    For something more vanilla, order a "Fish on a Stick" - skewered shrimps and white fish dangling from a hook - at the Restaurante Marisqueira Ancoradouroorde on Pico Island (below). You'll want to spend the entire lunch hour playing with your food.


    Or take your pick of grilled seafood at

    Restaurante Genuíno
    , considered by many the best restaurant on Faial Island. The dishes are incredible and inspired by the Portuguese chef's multiple sailing expeditions around the world.

    4. The cheese is a world champion


    There's one dining tradition that no one balks at: meals always begin with Azorean cheese. Slices of Sao Jorge Island cheddar with little honey pots are served at tables in restaurants. Savour each slice now: this yellow, semi-hard cheese is coveted worldwide for its creamy texture and buttery flavour. It's believed that the cheese-making tradition dates back to the 1400s, when Flemish settlers first inhabited the islands and got their cheese on. When in the Azores, do like the locals and drizzle honey on each piece -- it adds a dash of sweet to the salty.

    5. It's an awesome spa-cation destination

    (Above: Ponta da Ferraria)

    No matter which island you visit, getting Zen is guaranteed. The Azores have been a popular spa destination since the sixteenth century, renowned for their geothermal springs, waterfalls, and iron water pools.

    For starters, how about unwinding in a hot spring adjacent to the Atlantic? Surrounded by ocean and black boulders, Ponta da Ferraria is a natural swimming hole fed by a hot spring. Cool and steamy waters ebb and flow with the tide, and you may even catch a glimpse of (harmless) sea critters in the waves.


    For a less rustic experience, book a treatment at luxurious Furnas Boutique Hotel Thermal and Spa, and then float in one of the geothermal pools (above).

    6. Their wine has been trending since the 1400s, a favourite among Russian Tsars

    No one in the world makes wine like the Azoreans. Arriving on Pico Island, it may not look like wine country: a 2,350-metre volcano rises from the centre, usurping the landscape. The rocky, volcanic terrain is coal black, and a salty breeze gusts over the isle. Seemingly poor conditions for grape-growing.

    Remarkably, locals have learned how to grow grapes in lava rock, producing sensational red and white wines. The grapevines are planted along the coastline and protected by walls of black stone laid out in plots. The walls trap in warmth and shield the plants from wind and salt spray, creating a microclimate ideal for ripening.


    Today, these black walls represent the biggest stone networks built by humans, and the wine-growing practice is so unique that it's now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get a taste by taking a wine and biking tour with A Abegoaria.

    7. Take a crater walk


    Forget scaling Everest. How about hiking the outer rim of a volcano? On Faial Island, bring a picnic lunch and trek the 7 km lush trail skirting the crater that's 2 km wide and 400 metres deep. Along the way, you'll see the villages on the north coast, rare flora blooming, and if it's clear, the volcano's chimney poking out of the crater.

    (Above: Hiking on Sao Miguel Island)

    For more travel inspiration and advice, mosey on over to Eat Drink Travel Magazine. Get more ideas for planning your trip at Visit Azores.

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    The anticipation of a long-haul flight can quickly turn your travel excitement into dread. After all, no one likes sitting in a cramped chair and eating sub-par microwaved food for roughly 14 hours. However, you don't just have to endure your upcoming long-haul flight -- you can actually enjoy it too.

    These five simple yet effective tips will help you make the most of every long-haul flight, so your travel anticipation can be nothing but excitement.

    Choose the Perfect Seat
    Photo credit: abdallahh

    It's often underestimated how important your seat on a flight can be, and you probably have a lot more choices than you expect. If you tend to frequent the bathroom during flight, or leave your seat often to stretch your legs, you'll see an advantage to choosing an aisle seat in the middle section of the plane. This gives you easy access to the aisle and gives the people seated next to you a different option for exit.

    Travellers who prefer window seats should ask if there is a two-seat configuration in the rear of the plane, which is common in the economy class of international long-haul carriers. This configuration means you can enjoy the aisle or window seat with just one person beside you. If you're travelling as a pair, it's a huge advantage as well.

    The best way to get the seat you prefer is to be friendly when checking-in for your flight. Ask the person at the check-in counter if there are any window seats (if that's your preference) available, and continue further to ask which seats they consider to be the most comfortable. You may find yourself in the less crowded upstairs area of the plane, in a more spacious exit row, or simply in the window or aisle seat you prefer.

    Download Plenty of Apps

    If your smartphone isn't equipped with your favourite offline games (think Candy Crush Saga), you may find yourself disappointed in flight. Other useful or fun apps, like Card Games, SpellTower, National Geographic World Atlas, and iFiles can help you work or play in-flight without paying for costly internet.

    Another important asset to enjoying your smartphone's entertainment in flight is having a spare power bank on hand. Many economy seats do not include power outlets, so you'll probably find yourself wishing you brought a battery pack after an hour or two.

    Bring Your Own Snacks
    Photo credit: m01229

    Depending on where you're travelling and which airline you're travelling with, the quality of the airline food you eat may vary. It's best to come prepared with snacks and drinks you know you love, so you don't go hungry or feel obligated to eat a meal you don't enjoy. Airline meals also tend to be in smaller portions, so you may want to pack some healthy treats for snacking.

    Come Equipped with Entertainment

    If you're flying on a budget, your airline's in-flight entertainment options may not be as extensive as expected, and your smartphone's apps probably won't be enough to keep you entertained for hours. That's when it's time to resort to more "old-school" forms of entertainment, such as a favourite book or several magazines. Books of crossword puzzles, sudoku, word searches and other mind-bending games can also pass the hours without requiring powered electronics or internet access.

    Stay Hydrated
    Photo credit: Steven Depolo

    Staying hydrated may not be a form of entertainment, but it can be the difference between comfort and discomfort on a plane. Experts from Taipei's St. John's University suggest that travellers drink at least one liter of water every five hours while flying. In-flight dehydration often occurs because travellers drink too many alcoholic beverages. The climate of the cabin also causes travellers to dehydrate more quickly, which is another reason to drink up and stay comfortable.

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