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    "Relax, it's Qualicum!"

    I heard this many times during my visit to this small Vancouver Island community, whose population of 8,900 swells to 16,000 in the summer. They boast the dubious honour of having the highest median age of any city in Canada. But if you think that means this is a sleepy, tea-room filled community, think again.

    "If you're bored in Qualicum Beach, it's your own fault!" one of the residents said to me as I attended one of many concerts held at the Old School House Arts Centre. I would return to the Arts Centre the next day to take a watercolour painting class (which confirmed my career as a writer), one of a virtual plethora of programs and exhibits offered on an ever-changing basis. The centre's grand piano was donated by longtime resident and hockey great Howie Meeker.

    Qualicum life is exemplified at the Courtyard Café. Meryl and Peter Tryon run this community minded restaurant, and their specialty crepes have both locals and visitors visiting often. Good luck finding a chain restaurant; they're not allowed in Qualicum Beach.

    After filling up on their famous Crepe Benny, I headed to the Farmers Market (Saturdays only) which sees 70 per cent of the market stalls occupied by farmers and local food makers who are required to be there themselves, a "meet your maker" approach which is extremely successful. The other booths are filled with local crafters.

    The market also serves another purpose, as active participants in the Food Nutrition Coupon program. Government-funded, 50 families are provided with $15 each week to spend at the market on fresh foods. Last year there was a 98 per cent redemption rate; clearly a much-needed and loved program. Families also have to enroll in at least one cooking class in order to learn how to prepare the foods they're buying.

    It's B.C., so seafood? Of course. The CView Restaurant in the Qualicum Beach Inn has an extensive menu, which is best enjoyed on their cozy fire-pit laden patio. Take a drive down the highway a bit to Parksville and visit the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa & Resort, as well-known for its spa as it is their changing local cuisine.

    While much of the full-time population may be in their retirement years, Qualicum Beach and its neighbour, Parksville, are full of visiting young families and couples from Victoria (just a two hour drive away) or from the Lower Mainland, via ferry. Families often opt to stay at the Beach Club Resort for its convenient suites, complete with full kitchens and well-traversed boardwalk on the ocean. Kite surfers and kite flyers fill the seascape.

    I finished my visit with a hike through the 50-acre old growth Heritage Forest (a forest which is over 250 years old), where 200-year-old douglas firs rise up to 700 feet in the air. "There are no mosquitoes, skunks, grizzly bears or moose on the island," said Gary Murdock of Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours. No wonder they're relaxed. You had me at mosquitoes.

    This article originally ran in The Metro News. Watch for Kathy's "Get Set, Go" travel segment on CHCH Morning Live Television, starting June 23, 2016.

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    Canadians may want to rethink any trips they planned to the U.S. for May Long Weekend.

    That is, unless they enjoy waiting in long lineups for hours at a time. And paying with a dollar that's worth less than it was last year.

    The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been pummeled online in the past week with images of lines stretching through terminals such as New York's LaGuardia and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

    Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago, Ill. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty)

    The lines are happening for a number of reasons. For one thing, it's the the summer travel season, and lines during that period are always going to be long, CNN quoted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson saying last week.

    But the number of passengers has also gone up by 12 per cent since 2011, while at the same time, TSA screeners have dropped by a similar proportion, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

    Add to that the fact that security was tightened after travelers managed to bypass screeners with weapons and fake bombs, and you have a recipe for waits as long as three hours.

    Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago, Ill. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty)

    Johnson said the Department of National Security would have more screeners on hand and increase overtime in an effort to cut the lines. The U.S. Congress has earmarked $34 million to bring on more staff.

    But for now, social media is lighting up with images of lengthy lines at airports throughout the United States.

    Some are keeping a sense of humour about it.

    And airports are finding ways to keep people entertained as they wait.

    Lineups are just one more factor that could deter Canadians from travelling south of the border — on top of a loonie that was valued at US$0.77 on Wednesday, down from about $0.82 around the same time last year.

    They come just ahead of May Long Weekend — and months after StatsCan observed Canadian trips to the U.S. dropping year over year.

    The statistical agency released a report in February showing that Canadians made 3.4 million trips to the States in December 2015, down 1.7 per cent from November and down 20.7 per cent from the year prior.

    Of course, back then the loonie was worth around $0.72.

    So perhaps, with a higher dollar, Canadians might be willing to brave the airport crowds.

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    Made up of Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera and numerous other islets, the Balearic archipelago lies southeast of Spain surrounded by the glistening waters of the Mediterranean.

    We recently visited Majorca (Mallorca) to enjoy the sun, sand and emerald waters that surround this gem of an island.


    The calm and pristine waters that surround the Islands.

    The capital city of Palma is charming and steeped in history, filled with cafés, bars, and great restaurants, and adorned with street music and horse-drawn carriages.

    From almost anywhere, there are panoramic views of assorted sea vessels, sailboats, speedboats and luxury cruise liners that flank the shores of this age old city.

    The beautiful Gothic Cathedral Le Seu stands high and mighty overlooking the entire city center, with a beautiful promenade at its feet. Le Seu seems to hold an air of dominance few other architectural structures can shadow.

    It's said that its largest rose window was designed by astronomers so that twice a year, a magnificent display of light occurs when the sun shines directly through the rose and its colours are projected on the opposite wall. Each year locals and tourists flock to Palma on February 2nd (Fiesta de la Candelaria) and November 11th (Sant Martí de Turs) to witness this marvel. Those who are on the outside can see the rose lit with a red halo.


    Gaudi's Can Rei in Placa Maraques del Palmer

    Shopping in Palma is relatively affordable and local goodies such as infamous Majorcan pearls are widely available. Palma also hosts a small museum about the history of pearls and the Majorcan pearl industry. There are countless shops selling every kind, size and shape of local pearls. Though, be sure to shop around for genuine products and ask for a certification of authenticity.

    The Balearics share their local dialect with main-land Spain's province of Catalunya; speaking Catalan and Spanish. The cuisine is greatly influenced by Catalan and Valencian flavours and ingredients that are reflected in the scrumptious meals served in the abundance of local restaurants.

    For a twist on traditional Spanish tapas visit Forno group's Ombu (must eat: lightly roasted mullet; grilled Iberian pork with ginger orange sauce) or KOA (must eat: Pizza Flama; Thai-style squid), where the service is impeccable and the food impressive. For more traditional Majorcan tapas, try out the many taverns lining the streets between the Cathedral and Place de Llojta.

    And though tapas are commonplace, there is also an Italian influence on the local streets; left behind by the Italian occupation of the island during the Spanish Civil War, pizzerias and gelatarias (heladarias) are abundant, with equally outstanding food and choice.

    Worth a mention is Palma's oldest treasure, C'an Joan de S'Aigo, a cafe hidden in a back street. Frequented mostly by locals, this city's secret isn't too keen on welcoming foreigners. Established in 1700, with original tables and chairs and tiled flooring, you feel like you're almost sitting still in time.

    The café is most famous for its ice-creams (gelat) and assorted ensaimadas -- a Majorcan speciality of rings of doughy pastry -- served plain, with whipped cream, jam, or topped with custard crème and sprinkled with cinnamon powder. My daughter seemed to prefer the equally famous cuarto, a small loaf shaped sponge cake-light as feather and sprinkled with icing sugar. And, of course, we couldn't leave without trying the ametlla gelat (almond ice-cream) served in a clear glass just as it was 300 years ago!

    Shops and eateries line the alleys and streets, coming up on to different squares or Placas. Probably the most visited is Placa Cort, situated in front of the Palma City Hall and home to a 600-year-old olive tree, standing tall and wide. According to some sources the tree came from the Pollensa area of the Sierra Tramuntana and was transplanted in Palma in 1999, as a symbol of peace and attachment to the island because of its age and representation of Majorca, which has thousands of olive groves. Amazingly, the tree continues to fruit twice a year!


    The old olive tree

    Aside from the charming port city of Palma, Majorca is known for its resort-towns where loyal tourists flock from Britain and Germany each year to get their dose of Spanish sun. We based ourselves in a small resort village of Cala de Calma- a rocky cove in Calvia, south-west on the island, with spectacular views and vibrant pristine blue crystal clear waters.


    Resort village of Cala de Calma

    The nearby town of Santa Ponca is home to family-run clay tennis courts available for rent and with tennis coaches (some of whom have played with Spaniard grand slam champion Rafa Nadal).

    Driving around the island is possibly the best way to explore the many little towns and quaint villages, some of which are UNESCO heritage sights. The mountain range of Sierra Tramuntana is home to many towns including Valledemossa, Soller, Fornalutx and Deia.


    The Sierra Tramuntana

    Soller is located high above sea, surrounded by wonderful orange and lemon groves. Below lies Port Soller, reachable by an old, wooden tram that runs between the two. The Placa Constitucion is shadowed by its ancient cathedral and lined with shops and cafés, restaurants, and ice cream parlours for all to enjoy.

    A winding 9-km drive will bring you to the picturesque village of Deia. Set high up in a valley, it is surrounded by mountains and overlooks the valley below. Once home to the famous English writer Robert Graves, with only 600 residents, it is fair to say it is tranquil yet almost surreal.


    Beautiful Deia

    Back at sea level, take a boat ride around the island, a great way to view the sun-dazzled coast. You can watch dolphins, take a swim with the fish, or simply enjoy the pristine waters of the wonderful Mediterranean Sea.

    We visited Camp de Mar, a fishing village in Peguera, with a pretty, sandy beach and crystal clear water, perfect to swim in. We stumbled upon the Island Restaurant or Restuarante Illeta, where we enjoyed a meal with various fresh seafood including guisado de mariscos (assorted seafood in a thick gravy), mixed paella, and a fresh grilled sea-bream. Unpretentious and casual, it's an ideal beach eatery.


    Paella at the beach

    East of Palma lies the infamous coastline of Es Trenc, a picture-perfect beach, likened to sand and sea of the Caribbean. Access to parts of this beach is located a bit off the beaten track so be prepared to drive through farmland and countryside to get there!


    Es Trenc

    Majorca is large and diverse, with something for everyone. Whether you come for a tranquil weekend, a week filled with activity, a month or more to bask in the sunshine, you'll be forever discovering what this island has to offer!

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    Photo credit: Rina V.

    After decades of travelling south in surf of warm water, perfect waves and palm trees, surf travellers are beginning to head north. Surfing is now one of the world's fastest growing sports, and that means it's becoming difficult to find a wave all to yourself. Instead of setting your sights on the overly-crowded lineups of Costa Rica or surfing with hundreds of wave-hungry teenagers in California, it's time to look toward the Great White North.

    Sure, you'll need a wetsuit, and you probably won't find as many perfectly-tanned, bikini wearing beach bunnies, but you'll enjoy surfing the way it used to be -- fun. Canada is one of few places left in the world where you can surf with a handful of others in the water or learn how to ride waves in a low-key setting, without worrying about pesky locals or hoards of groms stealing all of the waves.

    The following are four reasons why you should consider Canada for your next surf trip.

    It's Cheaper

    Photo credit: archer10

    Sure, Bali is an ultra-affordable destination once you arrive. But purchasing a plane ticket halfway around the world puts a huge dent in your wallet, and that's not including airline surfboard fees. Canada's surf destinations are just a short drive or flight away for many North Americans, which means you can be at your surf destination faster for a much more affordable price.

    Even more, the big bucks you're spending on surf camps and resorts in tropical destinations won't need to be spent when you're camping along the coast or enjoying an affordable boutique hotel in Nova Scotia, British Columbia or Ontario.

    The Surf Is Less Crowded

    It's easy for anyone to hop into the water with a surfboard in a tropical location, but it takes a lot more gusto to jump into Canada's frigid waters. The cool water temperatures are something that can easily be solved with a quality wetsuit, but they're also a great deterrent for keeping less motivated surfers out of the water. Unlike overcrowded destinations, like Hawaii, Costa Rica and Bali, Canada has yet to make its way onto the global surf scene, which means you and your friends can have all the waves to yourselves.

    The Scenery Is Insane

    Photo credit: colink.

    Paddle out while admiring miles of sandy beach backed by lush, green islands in Tofino, on Vancouver Island, surf among the picture-perfect serenity of Halifax's nearby Lawrencetown Beach or experience nature's wild side as you jump off the pier into the crystal clear waters of Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario. Canada may not offer towering coconut palms or palapas, but it is home to some of the most postcard-worthy stretches of wilderness in the world.

    It's One of the Best Places to Learn

    You don't have to be an advanced surfer to head to Canada. While the locals in other parts of the world will bully newbies out of the water, Canada's waters are welcoming with surf schools and board rental shops in favorite surf spots, like Tofino, Lawrencetown Beach and Calgary's famous Habitat 67 river surfing destination. It doesn't hurt that Canada is home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people in the world.

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    Move over Royal Tyrell, there's a new dino museum on the block.

    Grande Prairie, Alta.'s Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum was recognized last week as one of the top museum openings of 2015 by Conde Nast Traveler.

    Traveler writes:

    This new museum complex may not be in a major urban area, but its location was strategically chosen: it's the spot where the horned dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai once thrived. The futuristic-looking facility, designed by Toronto-based Teeple Architects, looks to the past as it showcases findings from the proximate Pipestone Creek bone-bed, one Earth’s largest accumulations of dinosaur bones, and details the intricacies of paleontology through its interactive “Fossil Lab.”

    The museum placed seventh on the list, alongside other prestigious institutions including London's new Tate Modern and Singapore's National Gallery.

    It was the only Canadian museum to make the cut on the magazine's list.

    philip j currie dinosaur museum
    The Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is located on a hotbed of dinosaur fossils in northern Alberta. (Photo: Louis Gabriel Kéroack/Flickr)

    It's the eighth award the$34-million museum has received since it opened in September.

    The museum, which sits on a 10-acre complex west of Grande Praire is named after Canadian paleontologist Dr. Philip Currie — one of the inspirations behind Sam Neill's character in the movie "Jurassic Park."

    philip j currie dinosaur museum
    The museum's design was inspired by a paleontology dig. (Photo: Philip J. Currie Museum)

    The Currie's opening created a second major destination for Alberta dino tourists. For years, Drumheller's Royal Tyrell Museum was the only place to learn about the region's 360-million-year-old paleontologic history.

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    I love travel and I love taking photos and shooting videos. But how to create photos and videos that people will really enjoy?

    Here are the top tips for taking amazing travel photos and videos:

    Top Travel Photo Tips

    Consider "people, places, things."

    This is a useful tip for fantastic vacation photos: the greatest travel photos will often include all three of these.

    Get close.

    There are a few ways to do this. First, you can use the telephoto feature found on your camera. Try to zoom in on the subject of your photo. The second is to move in closer to what you would like to photograph.

    Getting closer to your subject, allows you to get a more detailed meaningful photo.

    Know where the light is.

    The easiest way to get a fabulous shot is to put the subject in a good source of light. Think about the best time of day for light and where you can find good lighting for your photos.

    Change angles. Turn the camera on its side.

    Sometimes, turning your camera on its side can take a bland photo and turn it into something spectacular. Always think about the composition of your photo.

    Get On the Move.

    This is a great tip. Shoot the same photo but from different spots. Move around and try to take the photo from a higher location, then a lower step and from the side. By moving around, you will get a feel of where the sweet spot of the photo is.

    Top Travel Video Tips

    To find out all the hottest tips for shooting amazing travel videos, I spoke with Dan May, president of Blackmagic Design. Dan shared the best tips for travel videos.

    What features should you look for in a camera to create the best travel videos?

    These are the questions I think people need to ask themselves to help evaluate their camera choice.

    1) What quality am I hoping for this to be?
    2) How important is ease of use and transport going to be to me?
    3) How much time am I putting into the production of these shots, be it in setup or post production?

    Essentially this boils down to, am I trying to really transport the person to these amazing places, or am I more concerned about sacrificing quality to just get shots uploaded quickly.

    What are the differences between shooting with a cell phone camera or a camera?

    Cell phones are great because they are easy to transport, you can quickly get shots, and it is easy to get things uploaded to the web quickly. The thing you are sacrificing is the quality of the images you can get out of a professional camera.

    You can find professional cameras which are small and still brings the ease of use and the small form factor to the table, at a very affordable price, but adds the ability to capture cinema quality video that can really make a production look outstanding!

    Which is the best type of camera to start off with when first making travel videos?

    I do think this comes down to some personal preference as to what someone is trying to achieve. Ultimately, these are all great tools for the toolbox, and what someone is trying to achieve may dictate what tool will be best for them to use.

    What are the basic tips and how to's for amazing travel videos?

    I think the big thing for people starting out is understanding that great videos actually take time and planning! Just heading out with a camera to get some shots can work, but actually understanding what shots you want to get beforehand and how much work you can put in the post production to make an excellent video will be important to making a great looking video.

    It is when people develop that understanding that they actually can become more efficient at what they are doing, and it lets them spend more time getting what they want out of the process of making great videos!

    Any other tips?

    Being creative is a great start, but planning and practice are what allow people to really develop a great skill set and what make fantastic and enjoyable videos.

    Please let me know in the comments below, if you have your own travel photo or videos tips. I'd love to hear from you!

    Let's keep thriving and living our very best lives! Keep an eye on my blog, as I continue to travel to unique destinations and reveal all the best travel tips.

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    Sitting pretty just off the southeast Atlantic coast of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island boasts 19 km of scenic sand-dune-lined beaches, oyster-packed marshes and Spanish-moss-draped live oak trees. Regularly touted as one of the top resort islands in the U.S., Hilton Head provides the perfect semi-tropical platform to enjoy all that the South has to offer-- especially before the high-summer season hits. -- Emma Yardley

    stay: If your goal is to be as close as possible to those pristine sandy shores, then Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island is a good bet--it has private access to one of the most swim-friendly beaches on the island. The newly renovated hotel has a distinctly beachy vibe (think coral orange accents and sea-glass sculptures) and, since it's part of the larger Shipyard Plantation members-only community, you get access to the golf courses and pro-level tennis courts. 130 Shipyard Dr., Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. 1-800-766-3782.


    do: Getting out on the water is a great way to get to know the flora and fauna living in the "Low Country" (i.e. the intertidal area running along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia). Outside Hilton Head takes explorers on their 90-minute Dolphin Eco Tour (US $45 per person; $35 per child 12 and under; two and under ride free) through the grass-lined tidal rivers and creeks in search of the wild Atlantic bottlenose dolphins--and they never come back ashore without a sighting (or in our case, eight). 32 Shelter Cove Ln., Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. 1-800-686-6996.


    savour: Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks employs its own fishing fleet to catch local favourites--oysters, shrimp and soft-shell crabs--and unload them straight into the restaurant's kitchen on a daily basis. Eat outside on the dock right next to the very boats that brought your fresh seafood feast (with all the Southern fixings). Bonus: Hudson's has some of the best sunset watching seats on the whole island. 1 Hudson Rd., Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. 1-843-681-2772.


    shop: When Canadians cross the U.S. border, one of the first questions they ask themselves is, "Wonder where all the outlet malls are?" Luckily, Hilton Head has a couple of the finest within a 20-minute drive from any island resort. Tanger Outlet Malls 1 & 2 are about 1 km from each other and offer deals at Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, J. Crew, Kate Spade New York, New Balance and Brooks Brothers. 1414 Fording Island Rd., Bluffton, South Carolina. 1-336-292-3010.


    see: Hop across Hilton Head's Intercostal Waterway Bridge to the mainland and you'll find the charming historic town of Bluffton. Pick up a Honey Bee Latte to-go from local roasters The Corner Perk and spend the morning browsing the shiny baubles at local designer Spartina 449 or digging through designer dresses at Madhouse Vintage. Walk down to the banks of the meandering May River and visit The Church of the Cross, a stunning structure built by a wealthy plantation owner in 1857. Definitely worth a daytrip. South Carolina Highway 46, Bluffton, South Carolina.


    -- Emma Yardley

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    There are 196 countries in the world, but most travellers will only see a small fraction of them in their lifetime. It doesn't have to be this way. While international travel can be more expensive than domestic travel, a bit of research, timing and luck can help lower the cost of trips abroad, meaning your suitcase doesn't have to collect dust this year. Keep your travel dreams alive with destinations from capital cities to off-the-beaten-path locales where the Canadian dollar is holding its own. highlights ten that won't break the bank.

    South Africa
    Image: Loren Kerns,V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Getting to South Africa from Canada might be a long journey, but the loonie has a pretty good edge over the South African rand making it a great time to book a surprisingly budget-conscious trip to an epic destination. Discover a revitalized Johannesburg (complete with thriving arts scene), head to laid back, yet cosmopolitan Cape Town and hike or cable car your way to the top of Table Mountain, or hit the beach in Durban and make time to spot the Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, leopard) on a safari.

    Image: Moyan Brenn, Kyoto via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Japan is another far-flung destination where your loonie can go far. You won't be paying backpacker prices, but, if you go this year, you can stretch your travel dollar a lot further as $1 gets you around 84 yen. Japan is a multifaceted destination with so much to see and do in terms of history, culture, food, fashion and nightlife. History buffs will want to head to Kyoto for the impressive 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as numerous temples and shrines. Foodies should take note that UNESCO added Japanese cuisine to its Intangible Cultural Heritage List, an honour shared only with French cuisine. And there are plenty of places to taste the unique food on the cheap. In addition, you can bar hop and shop your way through buzzing Tokyo, hike Mount Fuji and make a visit to the island of Naoshima with its many art galleries, sculptures and public installations.

    Image: Moyan Brenn, Iceland via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    With the Canadian dollar currently having a lead on the krona, plus discount carrier WOW air now offering some low- (and even a few extremely low) priced seats on flights to Reykjavik, a trip to Iceland won't break the bank this year. Spend some time getting to know the country's capital with its plethora of bars, shops, restaurants and cafes, take a dip in the famed Blue Lagoon (children ages 2 - 13 are free), witness the stunning scenery in one of Iceland's three national parks, go whale watching, or get up close and personal with a glacier (Iceland has some of the largest glaciers in Europe). If you go during the right time, you might get lucky and spot the northern lights, one of Mother Nature's stunning free gifts to the world.

    Image: Kevin Dooley, Buenos Aires street photography via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    With a current exchange rate of $1 to 11 Argentine pesos, the loonie can get you far in Argentina should you be craving a South American adventure. Start in Buenos Aires for a European vibe (minus the European prices) and take a tango lesson (or just be mesmerized by a tango show), zip to Mendoza to taste some amazing wines and snap some selfies by wondrous Iguazu Falls or explore the area further via a boat tour.

    Czech Republic
    Image: Thomas Cat, Prague Old Town via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    While the Czech Republic might be part of the EU, it doesn't use the euro. And your loonies will convert pretty favorably to the local currency, the Czech Koruna. Stick to mid-range hotels (there are plenty to choose from) or even opt to rent an affordable apartment on a site like Airbnb where you can also save money by preparing some of your meals in. Be sure to take advantage of cheap beer between checking out the awe-inspiring architecture of Prague's Old Town, castles in Moravia or laid back Plzeň, where you can sample some Pilsner Urquell beer.

    Image: Gabriela Fab, Warsaw via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    Like the Czech Republic, Poland still uses its own currency rather than the euro, and the loonie can take you farther here than in most European countries. If you've never thought about Poland as a vacation destination you might want to reconsider. Krakow and Warsaw offer a balance of rich history and a cosmopolitan pulse. Get outside these cities and you'll have your choice of mountains, lakes, beaches and forests. While it may seem like an unconventional choice, Poland has something to please almost anyone.

    Image: Lubo Jurik,Tonsai Beach, Krabi, Thailand via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    The Canadian dollar, no matter how low it dips, always seems to go the distance in Southeast Asia, especially once you're on the ground. Thailand, in particular, is a great destination for budget-friendly travel with your biggest expense being the plane ride over. Getting around is easy and affordable. Food and beer are exceptionally easy on the wallet and accommodations come in a varied range, from hostels and guest houses to larger hotels and resorts. Bask on a beach in the south of the country, shop and eat your way through bustling Bangkok or head north to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai for a more laid back pace and the chance to do some jungle trekking.

    To read about other international destinations where the Canadian dollar goes a little farther, go here.

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    I dread(ed) going to all-inclusive resorts.

    And before you send confused glances my way, I'll offer some context to explain why: I felt that the people who went to these places prioritized the free-flowing, tipsy-inducing beverages over the food -- but worse, that resorts themselves succumbed to the same idea.

    However, I'm always open to exploration and discovering diamonds in the rough -- call me an optimist -- but you never know, your next great meal could be had at an all-inclusive spot. And so long as people opt for an out-of-country bachelor or bachelorette party, you may soon find yourself at one of these resorts.

    With this rationale I decided to throw caution to the wind and test the waters with a (relatively) new resort in Mexico. The Hyatt Ziva Cancun opened in January of 2016, with a fancy makeover whose price tag was estimated at $85 million dollars. The hefty costs have come with some perks for hotel guests: for instance, the resort is situated on prime real estate, as Ziva is located on the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and offers 270-degree views of the Caribbean Sea.


    But as beautiful as the glimmering waters and pristine sandy beaches are, I cannot eat the view. A gal's gotta have some sustenance -- so bring on the food.

    The Lay of the Land:

    There are nine restaurants and seven bars that offer a spectrum of international cuisines and drinks. Although restaurants are part of the all-inclusive package, dinner reservations are essential. Hot spots like La Bastille, a French fine-dining spot (for adults 18+ only), fill up fast. However, with the exception of La Bastille, lunchtime is more casual and walk-ins are accepted at all locations, flip-flops and all.

    As your willing guinea pig, I sampled my way through as many eateries as possible. Sure you could try all the food yourself (it is all-inclusive, after all), but why waste room in your stomach on the inferior eats?

    Here are my top recommendations for what you should and should not devour:

    Eat this:
    Juana Margarita
    OK -- technically, it's all about the drinks here. But the Tequila connoisseur session is something not to be missed. It's not advertised -- but it is available -- just ask someone on duty there. It's a free, 30-minute seminar if it is less than four people, and a small charge if you have more than that in your group.


    You'll be greeted by a cheery fellow named Eduardo who is the resident tequila sommelier. While he may be youthful in age, he's wise in the ways of all things tequila. On your tasting journey, you learn about the art and craft involved in producing a fine tequila (and that it is not just a drink you take shots to get drunk in college with).

    Eduardo explains that although there are 1,068 varieties and counting. To be labelled a true Mexican tequila, it must use Agave Tequilana a.k.a. blue agave, the base ingredient required to make a quality, distilled beverage.


    In terms of tasting, you learn the procedure is akin to enjoying a fine wine: this involves inhaling aromas, noting colour, lustre and viscosity... and then finally taking a sip -- which you hold in your mouth for three seconds before swallowing to detect layers of flavours (e.g. butter, chocolate, vanilla).

    Bonus: Ask Eduardo to offer you each style to determine what you enjoy best.
    Blanco (white): Clear in colour and not aged.
    Reposado (gold colour): Aged between two months and one year in white oak barrels.
    Añejo (amber colour): Aged between one and three years in white oak barrels.

    Not that:
    I can't say what was incredible and what inferior simply because I was never attended to at this restaurant. I headed into Tradewinds for breakfast one morning and was promptly given a seat by the hostess as well as a menu. As I was perusing the list of dish specials, I also noted that it wasn't busy inside. However, no server ever came by.

    I waited 25 minutes and by that time, my tummy grumbled ferociously at me, so I got up and left. I informed the hostess what had happened. She was very apologetic and offered to rectify the situation but at that point, I was pretty much over this place -- so to speak -- and went to the buffet instead. This is an unfortunate situation; it would have been nice to have tasted the Chaya and paddle cactus scrambled eggs I was keen on.

    Eat this:
    I'm one of these rare birds that doesn't prefer to be seated out on a patio (*cue collective gasp*). This is partially due to my upbringing (my parents only ever chose to eat indoors at restaurants) and also -- there are just too many variables to be cognizant of -- cigarette butts, cigarette smoke, wind gusts, hot sun, sun burns, etc. But I pretty much didn't have a choice with Habaneros (it is an outdoor eatery). Fortunately, there was an ample amount of shade by the bar and a welcoming, mild breeze.


    The best bets to order are the Ceviche de Pulpo and Arrachera a las Brasas de Mesquite. The former arrives as stacked coils coated with chipotle tomato sauce. The octopus is so soft and meltingly tender, a knife isn't even required. The latter is a smoke-kissed, grilled flank steak that is as juicy as it is flavourful.


    Not that:
    Dessert at Habaneros is forgettable and offers inaccurate descriptions on the menu. I tried a custard-like cake with a bit of lime flavouring which tasted like sadness and regret. Save your stomach and instead order a half piña colada and half strawberry daiquiri, a.k.a. Miami Vice.

    Eat this:
    Très Cervezas
    I should preface this recommendation by saying that I don't drink beer. I'll always choose wine over suds. So, why should non-beer drinkers and beer lovers come here? The brews are remarkably delicious.


    The credit goes to Juan Jose Garcia who is setting a precedent in the world of beer. The first of its kind, Très Cervezas is a microbrewery on Ziva's resort property that makes their own craft beers on site. Using barley from Mexico and hops from the United States, they always offer three unique brews on tap. Head Brewmaster Juan, who has 10 years of experience in the art of the brew, is creating renditions of styles he admires, for instance, witbier (wheat ales) that are popular in Belgium and Porters from England.

    However, there's a big issue that's yet to be addressed: Since Garcia rotates brews so often, none of his creations have names, none of them are bottled -- and none of them are sold anywhere on or off the property. This is a downer because it's unlikely you'll have an opportunity to taste the exact same brew again.

    Also -- you can't buy any to take home as souvenirs for friends and families. Currently, Garcia says their focus is on crafting great beer. But as popularity gains traction, hopefully they'll consider bottling and selling their beer in the future. In the meantime, it would be helpful if they simply gave each brew a name.


    The featured wheat ale I tried was mild and contained pleasant notes of orange peel and coriander. And then I moved on to a rich porter, which Garcia uses toasted barley for. He infused the brew with local pepper, vanilla beans and chamomile; it tasted like a deep, dark chocolate cake.

    Not that:
    This Italian restaurant prides itself on trattoria-style dishes including freshly made pizzas that come out of their wood burning oven, fresh pasta, seafood, and grilled meats.

    But there were numerous inconsistencies with regards to cooking: one of my friend's barolo risotto with mushrooms arrived creamy and heavenly. Meanwhile, my other dining companion had ordered the other rice dish: pesto risotto with asparagus tips and blistered cherry tomatoes. It was obvious that the rice was undercooked; there was a hard, unpleasant crunch when each of us tried a spoonful.

    The mains also lacked finesse. My pork bistecca with sauteed mushrooms, onions and bacon was severely overcooked. The meat was devoid of any juices, dry and leathery in texture. Fortunately, service from the outset was gracious; the server noticed something was amiss and offered to exchange the dish for something else.

    Eat this:
    They've recreated Candyland inside Pastele with colours of the rainbow including goblets filled with sugary treats, dainty tea cakes and a chocolate waterfall to top it all off. But if you get carried away with all the sugar, you may just end up in a diabetic coma like I almost did. As tempting as gummies and candies are, they're pretty run-of-the mill. It's best to save your stomach for the housemade gelato (new flavours on rotation, daily -- my personal favourites were Nutella and coffee) and piping hot, made-to-order waffles.


    Overall thoughts: Certain eateries excel over others; however, I do appreciate the diversity of cuisine offered on site. Even though I didn't take advantage of the bottomless cocktails, I definitely drank my weight in cappuccinos and lattes at Casa Cafe -- in my humble opinion, their drinks were far superior to those overpriced big-box coffee shops in North America (and best of all, it was part of the all-inclusive resort feature).

    But it is apparent that some of the chefs just aren't as well-versed with certain styles of cooking. If I returned to this resort, I'd definitely fill up at Habaneros and eat the entire menu; this dining spot offers fresh seafood, authentic Mexican flavours and great views of the sea.

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    Photo credit: Mike Behnken

    It's easy to plant yourself in Bangkok for your entire trip to Thailand. It's true, you'll never run out of things to do, flavors to taste or Singhas to sip. However, spending your entire Thailand visit in Bangkok means you're missing out on some of the country's greatest destinations. These five Thai towns and cities are just as impressive as Bangkok, if you can peel yourself away from the capital city.


    The name Sukhothai means "Rising of Happiness," and this former capital of Thailand is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The picturesque city in Lower Northern Thailand is now the capital of the Sukhothai province, welcoming visitors with its Sukhothai Historical Park ruins, Sangkhalok Museum and ancient Buddhist temples. Visitors are encouraged to take the 1-hour-long drive north of the city center to the Si Satchanalai Historical Park to explore the fairytale-like ancient grounds on bicycle.

    Photo credit: Jeremy Foster

    Most travelers who do venture outside of the capital city find themselves in Chiang Mai. However, it pays to keep traveling north, roughly 85 winding-mountain-road miles, to the small hippie town of Pai. You'll need more than a day to explore the quirky shops, soak in the nearby hot springs, dine on healthy Thai and international eats, snap photos of the Pai Canyon and take a yoga class among some of the world's most picturesque natural scenery. The dizzying 3- to 5-hour drive from Chiang Mai is well worth the journey to this small village full of character.


    Krabi is no stranger to tourists. The town's location -- steps from the turquoise Andaman Sea, just a short boat ride to more than 100 offshore islands, and nestled among limestone cliffs and mangrove forests -- makes it a hotspot for anyone who loves the outdoors. In addition to postcard-worthy beaches, waterfall hikes and seaside rock climbing cliffs, Krabi offers an abundance of traditional eateries and accommodations for all budgets. Hop aboard a boat to Railay Beach, and you'll find yourself on a stretch of sand and sea that's so dreamy you'll have to pinch yourself.

    Nong Kai

    Photo credit: snotch

    The Mekong River is the 12th-longest river in the world, and the unassuming town of Nong Kai rests along its banks. However, this town's more low-key atmosphere doesn't mean it lacks charm or historical importance. Visitors who venture off the beaten path to Nong Kai are welcomed by the mystical rock formations of Phu Phra Bat Historical Park and the powerful Wat Pho Chai and Wat Khaek temples. Nong Khai is located in the northern province of Isaan, which is known for its unique cultural identity and unforgettable people.


    Few travelers make the 5 hour drive northwest of Bangkok to Sangkhlaburi, and those who don't are missing out. This small town in Thailand's Kanchanaburi province is one of the best places in the country to dine, unwind and explore numerous cultures at once. The Karen, Mon, Lao and Burmese ethnicities actually outnumber the Thai in this melting pot of a town, which means you enjoy some of the country's most vibrant street markets and restaurants alongside ancient architecture and cultural sights. Don't forget to pay a visit to Wat Wang Wiwekaram, a temple that is known as the country's spiritual center for the Mon people.

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    Photo credit: Ken Lund

    It's time to cancel your summer beach vacation and head to Colorado instead. Sure, Colorado shines in the winter months when its world-class ski resorts are covered in snow, but those who are in the know head to the Centennial State in summer too.

    Colorado is overflowing with summer festivals, must-visit national parks and more outdoor adventure than you can cram into one vacation. These four not-so-obvious reasons why you should visit colorful Colorado when the weather's warm will make you want to rethink your summer vacation entirely.

    You Can Explore Ancient Ruins

    You don't have to travel to Peru's Machu Picchu or Rome's Colosseum to explore archaeological sites. Mesa Verde National Park offers visitors an unforgettable look into the lives and architecture of the Anasazi or Ancestral Pueblo people who inhabited this area of Colorado for 700 years. The park is home to roughly 5,000 archaeological sites and more than 600 ancient dwellings that span more than 80 square miles giving visitors a time-travel experience that can't be found anywhere else in the country.

    You Can Leave Everything Behind

    Photo credit: mypubliclands

    If you're looking for a summer getaway that will truly encourage you to unwind, there's no better place to wander than into the Colorado wilderness. The Centennial State is home to 42 campground-equipped state parks, hundreds of private campgrounds and 22 million acres of grasslands and national forest that invite you to leave all of your stresses behind. Wilderness backpacking excursions are some of the most adventurous ways to unplug, and you'll find a number wilderness campsites in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, the Weminuche Wilderness Area, Roosevelt National Forest and other areas across the state.

    You Can Cool Down in a Cave

    Colorado is home to the unexpected, and the state's many caverns and caves are some of its most underrated natural wonders. Travelers can take a scenic gondola ride to Glenwood Springs' Glenwood Caverns to admire wide open caves with National Geographic-worthy rock formations.

    More experienced cavers, equipped with the proper equipment and know-how, can explore the undeveloped caves at Rifle Falls State Park, White River National Forest and Dinosaur National Monument. Mountain peaks may draw thrill-seeking visitors to Colorado in winter, but it's the underground adventures that make summertime experiences just as memorable.

    You Can Still Get in the Water

    Photo credit: inkknife_2000

    You don't have to head to the ocean to enjoy summertime fun on the water. Colorado is home to thousands of acres of water that welcome you to bring your swimsuit, paddleboard, kayak or even your boat. The lakes and reservoirs of Navajo State Park, the Blue Mesa Reservoir, and Jackson Lake State Park welcome boaters, tubers, waterskiers and all watersport enthusiasts.

    Other bodies of water, like Lake Granby and the Colorado River are ideal for kayaks, canoes and whitewater rafting. Whether you're into fishing, sailing, swimming, wakeboarding or simply admiring the tranquility of a deep blue oasis in the heat of summer, Colorado is the place for your water-based adventures.

    Those who have visited Colorado in the summer months know the Centennial State offers far more than winter fun. In addition to outdoor adventures, Colorado offers an abundance of summer food, beer, music and cultural festivals as well as nonstop action in its favorite cities and small towns.

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    Ideal hiking weather, warmer water temperatures, and longer days make summer the best time of year to visit Canada's favourite national parks. However, the Great White North is home to more than 40 national parks, which makes it seem impossible to choose just a handful for your summer adventures.

    The following are six Canadian national parks that stand out as the best of the best for summer adventures and family fun.

    Thousand Islands National Park -- Ontario

    Thousand Islands National Park reminds visitors more of Fiji or Indonesia than it does Canada. That's because the park's picture-perfect granite islands have a tree-covered tropical feel that makes it easy to leave your worries and stresses behind. Visitors can spend long days kayaking, canoeing, boating and playing in the fresh waters of the secluded bays or choose their very own granite island to basque in the sun. Even better, visitors can sleep steps from hiking trails, wildlife, and crystal clear waters at the park's family-friendly oTENTik camping cabins.

    Banff National Park -- Alberta

    Photo credit: docoverachiever

    Banff is arguably the most picturesque park in all of Canada, and it's certainly one of the most famous. Many travelers visit Banff for skiing and snowboarding in the winter months, but summer is when you'll get to spend time on the turquoise lakes, hiking trails, and picturesque pieces of shoreline. The park sees heavy crowds in the summer months, but it's difficult to feel cramped when hiking, camping, and soaking in the scenery among towering glaciers and snow-capped mountain peaks.

    Pacific Rim National Park Reserve -- British Columbia

    There's nothing quite like a family trip to the ocean in the summer months, and British Columbia's Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers the ultimate ocean escape. The park spans more than 50 kilometers along the western shoreline of Vancouver Island, offering rugged scenery, fun waves (Long Beach is one of Canada's favourite surf spots), hundreds of islands, old-growth rainforest, and hiking trails throughout it all. The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers a new and exciting twist on the traditional summer beach vacation.

    Prince Edward Island National Park -- Prince Edward Island

    Photo credit: TourismPEI

    If you're searching for good, old-fashioned family fun this summer, there's no better place to go than Prince Edward Island National Park. This beachfront park with rolling sand dunes, trails, and the famous Green Gables farm (from the bestselling novel Anne of Green Gables) invites you to get outside and explore. The park is home to more than 200 campsite and a picturesque white sand beach that are guaranteed to help you make lasting memories.

    Jasper National Park -- Alberta

    True adventurers can't get enough of Jasper National Park, especially in the cozy summer months. The park offers roughly 11,000 square kilometres of protected wilderness with a trail network to rival any other park in the world. Spend days hiking, mountain biking, climbing, snapping photos, and wildlife in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, then head into the quaint mountain town of Jasper for unrivaled hospitality and delicious eats.

    Gros Morne National Park -- Newfoundland and Labrador

    Photo credit: natalielucier

    Gros Morne National Park may not be as famous as Jasper or Banff, but it's just as magical. To many, Gros Morne's towering fjords, dense forests, jagged cliffs, and sandy beaches offer an even more wild experience than Canada's more well known parks. More than 100 kilometres of trails wind from mountain peaks to seaside campsites, and visitors can even hop aboard a boat tour to experience the fjords from within.

    Gros Morne's rock landscape dates back millions of years and is just one of many reasons why it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travelers seeking less crowded summer adventures, without having to sacrifice the beach or the mountains, can find them in this special part of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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    When I looked at my itinerary for California it made me a little anxious. While we would be visiting Yosemite National Park and enjoying all it had to offer, we were staying in a series of remote cabins. Cabins that didn't include a fitness centre, and outdoor terrain which didn't include a running track. As someone who runs or works out six days a week, I was unnaturally concerned. How on earth was I going to get my gym fitness fix in a setting like this? I needn't have worried. I got active, in the most natural way.

    Hiking: Hiking through Yosemite is not for the faint of heart. We chose a "moderate" trail which was one of the most challenging I've ever been on. However, climbing to an elevation of 8,200 feet and gazing out over Sentinel Dome onto Yosemite Falls, makes it more than worthwhile for the five miles of hiking a trail which alternates between muddy branch filled trails, and spring snow. Over four million visitors to Yosemite National Park can't be wrong. The toughest stair climber I've been on. Even without my morning 5k run, I hit 32,000 steps on my Fitbit.

    Biking: Spin class has nothing on taking a bike through Yosemite down 12 miles of paved trails. There are hills to cycle, waterfalls to ride by, and heart stopping glimpses of climbers on the sheer rock face of El Capitan. The bike trails lead to the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, settled in the heart of the park. Built in 1927 this truly majestic hotel captures both grand resort charm and forest elegance.

    Fly Fishing: Fly fishing appears to be a Zen and relaxing experience. This might be true if you are an experienced fisherman. But for me, hauling on hip waders and stepping into the Stanislaus River with its strong current, I found some new muscles. The ones that stopped my boots from slipping on the river rocks, triceps and forearm as I repeatedly flicked the line into the water, and the quick dodging while trying to avoid shooting my (actual) fly and its associated hook into my face. I'm just as stressed out at yoga, myself.

    Hill Running: At a 4,000 foot elevation, my breath was not only taken away by the gorgeous scenery at Evergreen Lodge but going for a hill run down and around the paths had me gasping for air long before I'd have felt it on the treadmill in my climate controlled gym. Fortunately the lodge features an outdoor swimming pool. Unfortunately it also features a gourmet restaurant and s'mores basically on-tap.

    Kayaking: A real life rowing machine. We paddled out from Pier 40 and kayaked under the Bay Bridge, and then back around AT&T Park in San Francisco Bay. Arm work out? My muscles say yes.

    It was with some relief that I finished off at the Westin St Francis in San Francisco, where I welcomed the relative ease of a 5k treadmill run. Fit it all, in.

    Kathy visited Tuolumne County, Mariposa County and San Francisco.

    An excerpt of this article originally ran in the Metro News.

    Watch for Kathy's "Get Set, Go" travel segment on CHCH TV Morning Live on June 23rd, featuring Yosemite National Park, and all you need to take to have a successful trip.

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    Airfare prices are at the lowest they have been in years. With more "low-budget" carriers entering the airspace, bigger airlines are lowering their prices to compete for consumers. The winners are you and me ... sometimes.

    Airlines have been able to lower their fares in a couple of ways. One is a direct result of lowered costs. As fuel prices decrease, the cost of flying a plane also goes down and the savings result in lower ticket prices. The second way is a little sneakier. Many carriers are lowering costs by charging for amenities that were once free and built into the ticket price. These amenities are now part of so-called "additional fees" and they can add up. So while your fare may be cheaper at first glance, once you have factored in the hidden fees, you may be surprised at your final bill.


    Not to worry. Knowledge is power. Once you know how to look for the hidden fees and how to avoid them, you can actually benefit from the hidden fee structure.

    We've tracked the recent costs of additional fees at some of Canada's biggest carriers and "Wow Air," the new low-cost carrier on the scene, so you know what you're up against.

    Phone Booking Fees


    While booking flights is generally easy online, sometimes you want to speak to an agent about routing and flight options. While you can call the airlines for free, if you book while on the phone, you may be charged a fee.


    Avoid this charge by calling the airline, making notes on the agent's suggestions and then booking on their website. The agent may also be able to waive fees if you have a loyalty card with them or are a frequent flyer.

    Carry-On Luggage Fees


    This is one of the newest fees being introduced at airlines, especially low-cost carriers. Some airlines charge for a second carry-on bag, while others are charging for even one bag.

    Avoid this fee by redistributing your luggage so you won't need to bring a carry on. Women can also get away with carrying a bigger purse. Put away your mini bag and grab the largest tote or shopper that you have. Just make sure it zips up so you're not spilling all the contents when it shifts in the overhead bin.
    If you absolutely need to take a second piece of carry-on luggage, pre-purchase the option at home. Pre-purchasing can save you up to $65 compared to paying at the gate.

    Heavy / Oversized Luggage Fees


    Most flights have a 50 lb limit on luggage. They also typically have restrictions on the size of the luggage. Anything with a linear size over 62 inches can be subject to the charge.


    Weigh and measure your luggage before you leave the house. To calculate the linear size, add the height, width and length of your luggage (including the handle).

    Wear your heaviest clothes and shoes to the airport - layer if you have to. Keep lighter items in your carry on. Once you have passed through security, you can put the extra clothing and change shoes to be more comfortable.

    Seat Selection Fees


    Many airlines charge you to select your seat before your flight. To pre-book your seat so you can sit by the window, or even to sit with your family, you can be charged anywhere from $10 to $60 in the main cabin. If you really want to sit with your family or want to avoid the dreaded middle seat, this is your only option.


    If you want to avoid this fee, get to the airport early. You may be able to kindly ask your agent to change your seat for free but you really are at their mercy.

    Change Fees


    These fees are similar to cancellation fees. While the dollar amount is usually less, the same rules apply. Make changes within 24-hours of booking or you'll be charged.

    In-Flight Food and Beverage Fees


    Gone are the good old days when you could rely on a free, albeit bland, airport meal with your flight. While meals are pretty much standard on long-haul flights, you'll likely pay for shorter flights.


    When you can, bring your snacks with you. If your bags are too full to bring snacks from home, pre-purchase snacks in the terminal. These will still be cheaper than on the flight itself.

    Also bring an empty water bottle with you. After you've gone through customs, you can fill it in the terminal and take it on the flight with you.

    In-Flight Amenities: Pillows and Blankets


    You may also have to pay for those tiny pillows and thin blankets that you've become accustomed to on your flight.


    Buy the inflatable neck rests at your local dollar store before your flight and carry an extra-large scarf with you that can double as a blanket in a pinch.

    Cancellation Fees

    In most cases, economy tickets are not refundable so, whenever possible, don't book until you're sure you can go. There are some exemptions, however. Federal laws allow you to cancel a reservation for free within 24 hours of booking, as long as the flight is more than seven days away.


    The only way to ensure you won't lose your money is to purchase an upgraded (more expensive) ticket. These sometimes come with a full or partial refund option. The other option is to buy cancellation insurance.

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    The slumping loonie is making it a little tougher for Canadians to travel outside the country this year.

    A survey by Canadian bank Tangerine found that only nine per cent of Canadians plan to vacation in the United States this year, and only eight per cent plan to travel to another country. And the loonie was largely to blame, with two-thirds saying it has affected their travel plans.

    But a sinking dollar alone shouldn't stop Canadians from travelling this year. For one thing, the falling cost of jet fuel means that flights this summer will be cheaper than they've been in seven years.

    Another is that has come up with a list of the cheapest average places to travel out of six Canadian cities.

    air canada westjet

    The website that offers cheap flight options from Canada has published a report and infographic advising travelers on where they can find affordable trips out of Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. came up with its list by analyzing 663,500 hours worth of searches, then crunched the numbers to see average flight costs to various destinations.

    The website also devised reports for each of those six Canadian cities, showing the cheapest flights out of each one.

    new york skyline

    New York showed up as a particularly affordable destination from most Canadian cities, though it was decidedly cheaper from airports in eastern Canada than in the West.

    Flights to Orlando also proved to be on the cheaper side.

    Trip prices weren't simply influenced by the distance between two points. For example, it was cheaper, on average, to fly to Orlando out of Vancouver ($506) than it was to travel there out of Winnipeg ($539).

    maui hawaii
    Maui, Hawaii. (Photo: 7Michael/Getty Images)

    In some cases, it was just as cheap for Canadians to fly to top vacation destinations abroad as it was to stay in their own country. The average price of a flight to Maui ($613), for example, was about the same as a flight to Vancouver ($612).

    A flight to L.A. ($458) was also, on average, cheaper than going to Montreal ($481).

    Here's the infographic listing the most affordable destinations from six Canadian cities, according to

    cheap flights infographic

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    A two and a half hour ferry and car trip from Vancouver (or a 20 minute seaplane ride and short drive) will bring you to Parksville, where we escaped for a weekend of calm, serenity and clean fresh air. -- Lise Boullard

    Stay: If you're coming from the big city, there is nothing more detoxifying than taking in the aroma of Arbutus and Douglas fir trees as you meander the grounds of Tigh-Na-Mara Resort and Spa ("House By the Sea" in Gallic). Established by a Scottish family in the 1950s on 22 acres of forested land, the collection of log cabin-style bungalows is rustic luxury at its best.

    Features like beach access, activities (think sandcastle competitions and tie dye courses in summer) and friendly-staff are why generations of families have made this their annual vacation spot, but the world-renowned spa, rooms with fireplaces and jacuzzis make it the perfect couples' or girls' getaway. (The eucalyptus products and spa shower head in our room had us blissed out even before our massage). 1155 Resort Dr., Parksville. +1 800-663-7373,


    Do: Vancouver Island is home to some of the world's most stunning aquatic beauty and the collection of 12 communities dotting the sheltered Straight of Georgia are begging to be explored. On our two-hour kayak tour with Adventuress Sea Kayaking we made friends with sea lions, deer and even bald eagles (and drooled over some stellar waterfront properties) as we explored the Nanoose Bay shoreline with a group of women from Calgary.

    Post-workout we headed to quiet Rathtrevor Beach, known for its warm waters and white sand, for a peaceful picnic lunch. For your wildlife fix on a rainy day head to the Butterfly World to take in the beauty of aquatic and amphibious specimens (and a stunning orchid garden), or stop at The World Parrot Refuge to say hello to 800 previously owned pet parrots. 889 Little Mountain Rd., Parksville. (250) 755-6702,


    Spa: With 20,000 square feet, 19 treatment rooms and three floors of blissful spa experiences, it's no wonder the Grotto Spa was named #1 Spa in Canada by Spas of America. In our Signature Grotto Package (new for 2016) we were spoiled with a 60-minute aromatherapy massage (the cedar essential oils put us into a peaceful sleep) and a detoxifying soak in the Grotto mineral pool, surrounded by natural rock formations.

    Next, we were swept up to the Tree Top Grill lounge where we nibbled on fresh fruit and sipped pineapple water before heading into the dining room for a 15-course tapas experience featuring local organic and antioxidant-rich creations (our faves were the oysters and kale salad). All of this while sitting in driftwood chairs and taking in views of the forest canopy, in our robes and slippers (don't worry, it's the mandatory dresscode). If this isn't on your bucket list already, it should be.. 1155 Resort Dr., Parksville. 1 800-663-7373,


    Savour: The Parksville Qualicum area has no shortage of talented local chefs experimenting with organic local produce, fish, meats and cheeses. For a waterfront dining experience head to Qualicum Inn where you can feel the sea breeze wash over you while dining on local seafood specialties. On Saturday night try Realm Food Co. for a farm-to-table gastronomic experience featuring light but hearty fare (think Albacore Tuna Wraps and Surfside Sushi rolls served with marinated kale salad) sourced from local farmers and fishers.

    The Tigh-Na-Mara's Cedar's Restaurant and Lounge's brunch comes highly recommended: we went halvsies on the sweet potato and onion frittata and strawberry waffles. 180 Craig St. #2, Parksville.


    Shop: We could have spent hours shopping at the well-stocked Coombs Old Country Market (where you may be lucky to spot a few goats grazing on the grass-covered roof). Originally established by a Norwegian family inspired by their homeland's sod roof structures, the expansive space features a bakery, café and rows and rows of worldly (mostly European) delicacies, kitchenware and toys. With shelves full of every variety of condiment (have you ever tried Sriracha mustard?), pasta and sausage you could imagine, plan to do your grocery shopping here before you head home.

    For wine and cheese to take back to your room (or enjoy beachside) head to Moo Berry Winery (do try the cranberry wine) and Little Qualicum Cheese Works where cheeses are made daily using local dairy. 2326 Alberni Highway, Coombs. (250) 248-6272,


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    You're already familiar with Abba, Swedish meatballs and Scandinavian design...Turns out Sweden has a lot more to offer and is particularly appealing to families or those who crave the unusual!


    If you're travelling to Sweden make sure to try out WOW air. It is a low-cost carrier that just launched recently here in North America and offers direct flights to Reykjavik, Iceland. With its brand new fleet of aircraft and charming staff, you're bound to experience a comfortable & pleasant flight. WOW airline operates services to a total of 23 destinations in Europe, the USA, and Canada and is quickly expanding.


    Are you in the mood for a walk in the dark, 155 meters below ground? Then your itinerary must include a visit to Sala, a silver mine. Dress warm, even if you visit in the summertime, as the average temperature is only 2 C. Armed with nothing but an oil lamp, a construction hat and a flashlight, you'll make sure to ask the "Lady of the Cave" for protection and to avoid swearing & whistling at all costs! For the really fearless: why don't you spend the night in the suite located at the bottom of the cave? With nothing else but a bed, two leather chairs, a chandelier and a small round dining table set, this promises to make for a memorable experience! Dating back to 1690, the best-preserved mine is dark but incredibly beautiful and will impress you with its narrow passageways. Adults: SEK 225, Children SEK 115

    Mushroom picking around Västerås: Take full advantage of Sweden's lush forests and go mushroom picking in the countryside. This word should get your attention: chaga. That's right, "God's Gift", the widely renown superfood grows on birch trees in the peaceful Swedish forests. You should also look out for chanterelles, black trumpets, and many other varieties - unless a nearby elf has eaten them already!

    Fika: make sure that you make time for "fika", a Swedish & sacred tradition consisting of coffee and cake or pastries. It's closely akin to the English afternoon tea tradition. It's all about the cinnamon buns!

    Go boating on Lake Mälaren: Sweden counts an incredibly vast amount of lakes... For example, did you know that the City of Stockholm is situated on no less than 14 islands and on the banks to the archipelago where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea? Also, make sure to check out Engsö Castle, also located on an island & renowned all over the world for its ghosts... Visitors can book a guided candelabra tour when the castle is shown in candlelight... Fee: Adults SEK 65

    Relish in the local gastronomy and try out one of the several Michelin-starred restaurants the Scandinavian country has to offer. No less than 5 of them are located in Stockholm!


    Lodge in one of the lovely timber cottages at Ulvsbomuren Wildlife Safari & Lodging. The owner uses locally produced ingredients and prepares the most succulent 3-course wild game dinners, ever. The eco-friendly B&B is located on a sheep farm and sells beautiful sheepskins as well. While you're there: why don't you enjoy a picnic with the sheep in the lush pastures nearby? Those adorable creatures are highly sociable and love to cuddle! Price: picnic + 2hr guided walk, Adult SEK 175, children up to 12 years old 50% discount. 3-course dinner and lodging, breakfast included: Adult SEK 850, children SEK 415

    The Swedes mostly lead a green lifestyle: most hotels offer a range of organic toiletries. The milk carton in your room for your cup of Joe? Most likely organic as well. Expect eco-labeled adventures, green city tours and of course, green accommodations. The Kolarbyn Eco Lodge draws visitors from over 65 countries and with good reason: it offers an experience like nowhere else. Dubbed the most primitive hotel in the world, it might as well be the most romantic one, too. No electricity, 12 huts, no showers but a nearby lake and total peacefulness. Think fireplace, candles and animal skins. Primal yet so cool.

    Hotell Hackspett:

    Nested atop an oak tree in the city of Västerås, this quaint bright red tree house is super famous all over the world! Book in advance. Enjoy a meal on the veranda and the great view of the park. A unique adventure as guests get to and from the hotel in a harness! No electricity.

    Fancy posh surroundings? The Steam Hotel is set to open sometime in 2017. The majestic hotel will boast 230 rooms, a sky bar, a first class restaurant, prime views of Lake Mälaren, is 18 stories high and is located in a stunning historical building. Parts the old brick facade will remain visible from inside the hotel. How so? Get this: the inner walls will be made of glass. Enough said!

    Wanna live it up like a Royal? Thren Färna Herrgård & Spa it is! This drop dead gorgeous luxurious manor draws royals, barons & countesses alike. The Victorian mansion is located in the countryside and is famous for its spa. Stroll along the river at night, bask in the view of the gardens & magnificent surroundings. Delectable fares and a huge Swedish buffet breakfast is available, with many gluten-free options and of course, smoked herring. Old-money vibe. Oh, and please, fellow Canadians! Do not wear jogging pants and running shoes there, as Swedes are rather sharp dressers- even during the weekend. Average price: SEK 750 per person per day for a double room.


    photo credit: Carolina Romare


    photo credit: Clifford Shirley


    photo credit: John Van Helvert


    photo credit: Jonas Overödder


    photo credit: Lars Modin


    photo credit: Muu Foto


    photo credit: Pappilabild


    photo credit: WOW air


    photo credit: Yanan Li


    photo credit: The Steam Hotel


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    Brunch is always on my brain.

    I will boldly go on and declare that it is the best meal of the day. And I'm confident that I'm not the only one who feels this way. After all, when else can you have alcohol in the morning without getting side-eyed glances from dining companions and/or strangers. When else can you order dessert as the first meal of the day without anyone judging your life choices? I rest my case. So, the only thing to do when another restaurant in Toronto offers brunch is to rejoice, and hope the spot takes reservations-- or if failing that, has little to no line-ups.


    *CFO Caesar with freshly shucked oyster topped with bacon jam*

    The Chase Fish & Oyster, the more relaxed sister of the upscale Chase fine dining spot, is the latest restaurant to throw their Sunday brunch hat in the proverbial ring. Having just debuted their menu at the end of April, I had a chance to taste a few of the menu items.


    How the space looks and feels:
    Various nautical elements from the east and west coast have docked here; however, it's done tastefully so as not to make the restaurant feel too kitschy. Ocean photography line the walls, anchors, lighthouses rejigged as ceiling fans, bevelled chairs, boat knots, and sailing banners hang overhead in a regalia style. Exposed brick with linen drapes add textural dimension. It feels like a mixture of the Hamptons and New England with a splash of the O.C.

    The Ingredients:
    Chef Michael Steh oversees the culinary department of The Chase Fish & Oyster. He proudly notes that their supplier is 100 km Foods. "They are an amazing company which sources only the best products from great farms and artisan purveyors from within 100km of our city."


    *Brunch dessert bar*

    Brunch can be competitive in a city like Toronto. Places like Mildred's Temple Kitchen and Saving Grace spring to mind-- they have a legion of fans who are willing to wait nearly two hours for a table on weekends. So how does CFO plan on edging out such talent? Steh offers this, "We knew we had to have something more interesting than your average brunch place to stand-out from the competition-- the aim is to get people out on a weekend. We needed dishes that spoke to our philosophies regarding sustainability, seasonality, and providing a great overall dining experience". To reinforce the idea of seasonality, Steh adds "Brunch is still very new for us, but we plan to change it as often as our other menus."

    Furthermore, Steh hopes that his headliner dish will draw in crowds: Eggs Benedict, with a coastal twist. "It seems to be a right of passage for brunch in Toronto. So we decided to do one, but knew it needed to be unique and a bit over the top. Our dish is a Crab Cake Eggs Benedict. We make crab cakes using Alaskan king crab meat, sweet potato and other vegetables; they replace the English muffins. We top the crab cakes with coleslaw, poached eggs (from a collective of Mennonite farmers located in Ontario), hollandaise, locally produced smoked paprika, and fresh watercress."


    *King Crab Cake Benedict*

    Food is one part of the equation for brunch success and the other is the drinks. I asked Chef about the importance of having a great brunch cocktail/drink program. "Brunch has a tendency to become booze heavy, and you never want someone to feel left out about not drinking, so our bar team crafted a great list of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails that also rotate with the seasons."
    Chef offers the Cold Comfort Cocktail as his favourite brunch drink. "It's a perfect balance of cold pressed coffee and alcohol. A bit of hair of the dog and coffee to wake you back up."

    And what would be an ideal dish pairing? "I would order it with our Bananas Foster's pancakes and a side of bacon, sourced from Cumbrae's. Ours is a riff on the classic dessert made with three buttermilk pancakes; we make it with great organic flour from K2 milling in Beeton, ON. We top them with a sauce made from caramelized bananas, brown sugar, Gosling's Black Seal Rum and my Sous-Chef Jordan's secret ingredient, angostura bitters. It's garnished with candied pecans, whipped butter and icing sugar. Our house bacon is thick cut and pan roasted to order and glazed with local maple syrup from Ennis Maple Products. The combination of bananas, rum and bacon give it an Elvis feel."


    *Banana's Foster Pancakes*

    The Taste:
    With thoughts and recommendations from the chef in mind, we order the benny, the pancakes with a side of bacon, and salmon platter with cheddar biscuits as a 'starter'. The first two dishes certainly meet the 'uniqueness' criteria but lack restraint for certain elements.

    For instance, while the cakes contain an ample amount of crab meat that is sweet and tender, it is also very delicate. So when it's coated with a runny egg yolk, thick tarragon hollandaise, and mayonnaise-based coleslaw, the ratio of fat to everything else has tipped the scales. It's overwhelming on the taste buds; the richness coats your tongue and each flavour profile gets lost in the melange of creamy sauces pooling onto the plate.

    It is the same situation for with the pancakes. The organic flour yields squat, but soft and cushion-y cakes. However, when it is drenched in a pool of mahogany, supercharged-sweet sauce, it's becomes a challenge to taste the pancakes themselves. The side of bacon that was supposed to temper the sugar content in the pancake stack tastes like a salt-lick; it is as salty as the dead sea. Although it has a beautiful sheen and lacquered appearance from the maple syrup, you can only detect those flavour notes with the burnished ends.

    And what about those biscuits? They arrive as squat cylinders with a deep, bronze hue. The cheddar used (sourced from The Cheese Boutique) is very prominent. As a result, a savoury umami taste comes to the fore with floral undertones from the wildflower honey, and a hint of bitterness. It's definitely not the same kind of towering, fluffy biscuits you would find in other places because the organic flour used here has less gluten structure. But appearances aside, they still have a welcoming tenderness to them.


    *Warm Cheddar Biscuits*

    As for the salmon pastrami platter, it is offered to us as a game of choose your own (eating) adventure. Items are nestled beside one another, encouraging you to mix and match ingredients. The salmon itself is not as supple and slippery as the ones you would find in Jewish delis -- and the hot smoking process is the reason for this. It gives the salmon a firmer and drier texture. This isn't a bad thing (even though I prefer the deli style more), it is really a matter of personal preference. It's still offers a hearty flavour and faint smokiness.
    Along with soft scrambled eggs, the salmon comes from PEI, bagels from Thuet, and salmon caviar from Nova Scotia.


    *Salmon Pastrami Platter*

    With the exception of the King Crab Cake Benedict ($29), everything is in the mid-priced range (mains are from $13-18) and portions are generous. You could dine here once a month without breaking the bank.
    Is this place worth coming back to? If they exercised more balance and restraint with certain dish components, then I definitely would make a return trip here. CFO is offering beloved classics with a welcome twist.

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    Women travel alone for all kinds of reasons -- and why not? Travelling has never been easier and never before have so many possibilities for exploring the world been accessible to so many. Still, women traveling alone can be vulnerable if they don't take some common sense precautions. This is not to imply that women can't do anything or go anywhere -- it is simply the truth. File these ten tips from seasoned world travellers before your next adventure.


    1. Trust yourself. If something does not seem right to you -- leave. Don't worry about being polite. Don't worry about looking foolish. Women who have found themselves in harrowing situations often say later that they wish they had listened to that queasy feeling/hair-up-on-the-back-of-their-neck sensations.

    2. Keep in touch. Let people back home know your itinerary and keep in touch via text or email on a regular basis. If you are travelling outside the country, look into the best phone plan that fits your budget. Also leave copies of your passport, id, credit cards and other important documents with someone at home as well as placing them in a secure cloud

    3. Appearances matter. There is no need for your to try and dress like a native. However, as a woman traveling alone there is no need to draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Stick to neutral colors. Avoid wearing any clothing that screams 'tourist'.

    4. Make friends. Make friends with the people at the front desk when you check in. If you have a map with you, pull it out and ask which places are safe and which areas should be avoided. Ask if they have other tips for people new to the city. People at the front desk should also be able to help you learn the best and safest means of travel around your location.

    5. Leave a paper trail. This may sound a bit melodramatic but, my mom always made me promise to do this when I travelled. Can't hurt. Whenever you're leaving your hotel (or other lodging) leave a note in your room stating your destination and expected time of return. If nothing else, if you keep all of the notes from your trip, you'll end up with a nifty little travel journal and it will make your mom happy when you get home.

    6. A little white lie never hurt anyone. If you're travelling on your own and are not interested in finding romance, stick a simple ring on your left finger. This doesn't always work, particularly if you are very young or your suitor is determined. However, in most situations it sends a clear, silent signal that most people will respect.

    7. Let's talk about your purse. Like your wardrobe, your purse tells people a lot about you. A trip to a new city is not the place for your obviously expensive handbag or backpack. Choose something utilitarian that can be worn close to your body and does not scream "I'm full of electronics and a juicy wallet." Some women like to stop first thing in a new town, stop in a shop and buy something small. They then carry their belongings in the bag from the local shop rather than in a purse. If you're not willing to sacrifice "the pretty" look into bags designed especially for travellers -- bags with cut-proof straps, secure fasteners as well as some style.

    8. Pay attention. Women multitask. We can't help it. Ask a police officer and they'll tell you that women unintentionally set themselves up as targets by trying to do too many things while moving. Get to know your destination before you go. Once there, locate train stations, hospitals, police stations in relation to your lodgings. Walk with a purpose. If you need to look at a map, stop into a cafe or shop rather than standing in the middle of the street. Lose the headphones. And, if a phone call or a text is that important, stop somewhere and handle it where you can safely focus on the call/text.

    9. Know your limits. By all means enjoy a drink or two while you're travelling. But, if you are alone, stay in control. If you meet some friendly travellers, it is fine to meet up for drinks but remember, you do not know these people. And never, ever, leave your drink unattended.

    10. Learn to say "No." Many women find it hard to say "No." It's an important life skill across the board. Learn it early and practice it often. Saying "No." with meaning and sincerity is incredibly helpful when you are travelling alone. Often, people are just trying to be helpful or feel protective of a woman traveling alone. Trust your instincts! If someone gives you a creepy or uncomfortable feeling a definitive "No. Thank you." said in a voice loud enough for others around you to hear should be sufficient. If it's not, repeat it again in a louder voice and start moving toward other people.

    There's no reason not to travel on your own, I do it all the time and love it. It's exciting and it offers an experience entirely different than travelling with a partner or travelling with a group. Use common sense, trust yourself and have fun!

    Originally published on

    Laura Berg
    Travelful Life
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    Meticulously searching for the perfect burger restaurant in each Canadian province and territory was no small feat, but the Deal Experts at Travelzoo have done it. The restaurants on this list elicit pride in their province or territory, uniting their patrons through their different takes on the hamburger and their dedication to great food and great service. Whether they offer a classic burger, an innovative burger, or an "I can't believe someone came up with this recipe" burger, most of these places are award-winning, and have even garnered international media attention.

    In honour of Hamburger Day 2016, here is a list of some amazing burger joints from coast to coast, and our top picks from each menu.

    Warning: These images may cause mouth-watering or sudden cravings for burgers.

    Alberta - Naina's Kitchen, Calgary

    Since 2013, Naina's mouth-watering burgers have been winners or runners-up at the Alberta Burger Fest (formerly known as YYC Burger Week). This burger joint was also mentioned on "The Social," and was featured on the popular show "You Gotta Eat Here!" Every week, Naina's Kitchen features a "Stuffed Burger of the week" including the Pancake Breakfast Stuffed Burger, Donair Stuffed Burger, and Spaghetti Stuffed Burger.

    And if their burgers aren't enough to make your mouth water, you should check out their poutines...

    Our pick: Badass Berry Burger
    A ½ lb of lean beef stuffed with local Saskatoon berries, cayenne candied bacon, creamy Havarti cheese and then topped with more candied bacon. Dressed with lemon-minted mayo and a house made berry quark.

    British Columbia - Romer's Burger Bar

    Romer's prides itself on its local cuisine, sourcing its organic meat and most of its other ingredients locally. All their draft beers come from the best Vancouver micro-breweries. With four popular locations in BC, Romer's was featured on "You Gotta Eat Here!"

    Our pick: Jimmy's All Day Breakfast Burger
    Housemade pork sausage patty, maple-smoked bacon, fried egg, crisp iceberg, sweet onion, vine-ripened tomatoes, bacon and chipotle aioli.

    Manitoba - Nuburger, Winnipeg

    Trying #Nuburger for the first time! This is the #ShangAwesome #burger! #food #foodporn

    A photo posted by Belinda Grift (@belindagrift) on

    Nuburger (Formerly Unburger) is a burger joint on the quest to eliminate the "Burger Hangover" (the guilt and the gut that ensue after eating a greasy burger). Nuburger focuses on balance and nutrition. They created their own tasty sauces with less oil, salt and sugar, while still piling on fresh, wholesome toppings and using locally raised grass-fed cattle. Clearly their formula has been a hit, as they now have two locations open in Winnipeg. There were also featured on "You Gotta Eat Here!," AND won the Le Burger Week competition in 2013, 2014 and 2015!

    Our Pick: Shang-Awesome Burger (2013 Le Burger Week Winner)
    Homemade Asian slaw, goat cheese, "hot damn!" mushrooms and low fat sweet chili mayo.

    Yukon - The Gr8ful Spud, Whitehorse


    The Gr8ful Spud is known for its wholesome comfort food, particularly their specialized poutines, but the quality of their burger is not up for debate either. The atmosphere is welcoming and alternative, and the place is known for the servers' friendliness. Check it out and try some of their poutine too!

    Our pick: JR's Juicy Burger

    Juicy six-ounce house-made burger topped with mayo, burger sauce, oyster sauce, pickles, tomato and onions.

    Newfoundland and Labrador - Relish Gourmet Burgers, St. John's

    Can't beat the classics. Say hello to The Simpleton! #burgers

    A photo posted by Relish Gourmet Burgers (@werelishlife) on

    This gourmet burger brand prides itself in giving its customers the "burger experience," while being innovative and using French culinary techniques to offer great flavours. Each Relish location has a featured burger on the menu that is unique to that community.
    Not in New Brunswick, but want to relish these delicious burgers? There are also locations in Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax and St. John's.

    Our pick: The Bullet™
    Fried bologna, pickle chips, sauteed onions and mustard.

    New Brunswick - Tide and Boar, Moncton

    #tideandboar #burgertime

    A photo posted by Chad Steeves (@tideandboar) on

    This Moncton gastropub, named one of Canada's Top 50 restaurants by Maclean's Magazine, and featured on "You Gotta Eat Here!", offers a lot more than just burgers, but The Burger is a big hit.

    Our Pick: The Burger

    House-ground brisket and bacon, brioche bun, dijonaise, tomato, pickle, old cheddar and caramelized onion.

    Nova Scotia - Darrell's Restaurant, Halifax

    Peanut butter burger meets vanilla-peanut-butter milkshake #hfxburgerweek #darrells #peanutbutter #killercombo

    A photo posted by Amanda Nahas (Mina) (@amandanoellemina) on

    Plain and simple, Darrell's is a family run restaurant with a strong presence in the Halifax community, serving everyone including students, professionals and families. Since 1992 Darrell's has been a Halifax staple for excellent food, service and atmosphere. It is no wonder that the restaurant and its food have won so many awards!

    While you're there, treat yourself and order one of their award winning milkshakes.

    Our pick: The Peanut Butter Burger (The Coast "Best of Food" Award Winner)

    A traditional BLTCM burger with that "stick to the roof of your mouth" difference.

    Ontario - Burger's Priest

    The Great Wall of China is no longer the only man-made structure visible from space. #TheBurgersPriest

    A photo posted by The Burgers Priest (@theburgerspriest) on

    The Burger's Priest calls itself a classic American cheeseburger joint "redeeming the burger one at a time." They believe in keeping it simple and fresh, and griddling their burgers to perfection. Their menu offers the tasty, good-quality basics, but if you're looking for something that goes above and beyond, make sure to check out their Secret Menu... You won't be disappointed.

    Our pick: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (from the Secret Menu)
    Rather than being sandwiched between two regular buns, this four-patty burger is held together by two grilled cheese sandwiches. Enough said.

    Prince Edward Island - Brickhouse Kitchen and Bar, Charlottetown

    It's perfectly OK if you want this #BrickMac in and around your mouth... It wants you, too. #PEIBurgerLove ♥️

    A photo posted by The Brickhouse Kitchen & Bar (@brickhousepei) on

    Brickhouse Kitchen and Bar created PEI Burger Love's Most Loved Burger 2016! Brickhouse aims to support local while ensuring the sustainability of the island and its surrounding waters. The architecture of the Brickhouse is also worth checking out, built in the mid-1800s by Daniel Brenan, one of PEI's best-known citizens at the time.

    Our pick: Brick Mac Burger

    PEI beef patty, Glasgow Glen gouda, double-smoked bacon, mac and cheese patty, and Jalapeno remoulade

    Quebec - Jukebox Burgers, Montreal

    Jukebox Burgers prides itself on exceeding the expectations of a typical burger joint, with daily in-house, freshly ground beef, fresh buns baked daily and hand-cut potatoes. Their hard work has earned accolades and features from Today's Parent, Epic Meal Time, Global news and more. The restaurant's fun, vintage decor makes you feel like you're in a classic burger shack, but the service and quality of food are far from ordinary.

    Our pick: Poutine Brgr
    Mayonnaise, lettuce, fries, homemade gravy, cheese curds. How could we feature Montreal without mentioning poutine?

    Saskatchewan - Harvest Eatery and Fresh Market, Shaunavon

    Going to have the best burger in Saskatchewan

    A photo posted by Colin Powers (@colinpowers1) on

    With 24 per cent of the votes, the Harvest Eatery and Fresh Market won CBC Saskatchewan's poll for the best burger in Saskatchewan. Harvest Eatery is known for its friendly owners and unique twists on some classic dishes.

    Our pick: The Harvest Burger (No. 1 burger in Saskatchewan)
    Ranch-house, all-beef burger, Harvest Sauce, aged white cheddar, vine-ripened tomato, butter lettuce, pickled red onions, maple bacon, sesame brioche bun.

    Krista Pereira is a Travelzoo Deal Expert based in Toronto. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.

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