Tag Archive: family travel

Being a #BigWorldExplorer: Our Orlando Story

April 13, 2017

Some people visit the family cottage every weekend. Others pack their backpacks for an outdoor camping adventure. My family? Well, friends like to joke that Orlando is our home away from home.
_DSC1615They’re not incorrect! Looking back, we’ve visited Orlando 12 times over the past three years – most recently, courtesy of my friends at Expedia.ca as part of their #BigWorldExplorer program. (Were you following my tweets?) And there’s a reason – actually several – we keep going back.

Proximity. If you’re flying from Toronto, did you know that Orlando is only 2.5 hours away? Too true! It’s a great short-haul option and several airlines offer a direct flight from YYZ (or BUF, if you’ve found a less expensive flight via JetBlue or Southwest). The proximity makes it perfect for families with young children – I like to say that the flight is one-and-a-half Disney movies away!  (more…)

Keep Reading

May All Your Travels be #HealthyTravels

January 30, 2017

FACT: It is estimated that 30% to 70% of travellers who go to a tropical or subtropical region will have at least one episode of diarrhea, which may last three to five days.

Well, hello to you too! I normally don’t start my posts with such an attention-grabbing headline, unless of course I’m trying to grab your attention. So let’s try that again –

FACT: 98% of travellers will make a dietary or beverage mistake within the FIRST THREE DAYS of their vacation, increasing their risk of contracting enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC).

(Be smart! You should be spending your vacation on the beach, not in bed.)

If you’re thinking, “Okay Lena, you have my attention. Tell me more!” – you’re in luck! On Tuesday, January 31st, join the #HealthyTravels Twitter Chat at 8PM EST. We’ll share smart tips and information to help ensure all your travels in 2017 are healthy.
Healthy Travels GraphicTo thank you for joining us, we’ll give away 5 x $75 Shoppers Drug Mart Gift Cards – perfect for stocking up on everything you need before you head down south!

To all those travelling this March Break, wishing you #HealthyTravels!

Keep Reading

A Case of the Mondays

September 12, 2016

You know those days when you just don’t want to crawl out of bed? Where you’d rather pull your covers over your face and pretend the world doesn’t exist?

I’m having one of those weeks.

I get the blues in September because I’m generally resistant to change. I’ve grown accustomed to the chill vibe of summer, and suddenly, when confronted with school routines, the re-commencement of sports leagues and lessons, and – gah! – chilly mornings and early sunsets, I curl up in a ball and attempt to block it all out.

And I’d probably be successful, if not for the little hand that pulls away the covers and says, “Good morning Mommy! Would you like to join me for breakfast?”

Alas, my day will begin – just like it always does – and soon enough, I’ll acclimate to the new routines, become a pro at chauffeuring kids, and bundle up with knit sweaters and a pumpkin spice latte.

Taking the sting out of this particular Monday? Knowing that we’ll be leaving for Orlando, Florida in just three short days.
20160714-_dsc8537-1024x683-1Photo Credit: Orlando Informer

There, we’ll experience the brand new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando, Florida. Reminiscent of a leisurely estate in the heart of the tropics, the Caribbean-inspired resort boasts cascading blue waterfalls across lush grounds with a luxuriously landscaped 16,000 square foot, resort-style pool. (more…)

Keep Reading

WIN with Road Trippin’!

August 5, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

This summer, we’ve enjoyed a more leisurely pace. Instead of our usual press trips and summer travels, we’ve opted to stick around and enjoy our local attractions instead. Trips to the beach, picnics in the park and lazy evenings on the patio have made it a summer to remember.
13715107_180638309017025_417377905_nHowever, staycationing in the city is less about packing lists and more about surviving road trips. Especially when travelling with young ones, I find that long car rides can generally be even more stressful than plane rides for the following reasons:

1) Children have way too much stimuli. “Look! We passed a McDonalds. Can we stop for fries and a drink?” This happens a lot. “Mom! He’s touching me!” (looking at me, hitting at me, humming in my direction, etc etc.) This happens more than the requests for McD’s. “Are we there yet?” Ugh. I don’t have to tell you how often this happens.  (more…)

Keep Reading

A Destination for Everyone: This is Mont Tremblant

July 20, 2016

My love affair with Mont Tremblant, Quebec during the summer months is well established, and well documented. (See here and here for further inspiration.)

It’s more than the picturesque pedestrian village. It’s more than the lush greenery and peaceful surroundings. It’s more than the feeling that you’ve entered another country entirely, even though you’re only a 1-hr flight from Toronto.

It’s because Tremblant truly offers something for everyone. And this summer, if you’re looking for a break from the ordinary, here’s a Canadian destination you’ll want to place on your “must visit” list.

The Family Fun Seekers. Of course if you’re vacationing with your family, especially young ones, you’ll want to know about how to keep busy (and keep the kids entertained). Maximize your value and purchase an Activity Card; you’ll have a choice of 14 summer-themed activities for all ages (save 10% when booked in advance).
13562034_252731145098793_1417017690_nFrom Eurobungy, Climbing TowerLe Petit Géant Mini-golfAquaclub La Source and more, there’s always something to do! Bonus: many of the activities are rain or shine, so you’ll never be at the mercy of the elements. The activity card is valid 7 days per week, from May 21 to October 16, 2016. You can purchase 3, 5, 7 or 10 accesses, to be used consecutively or not, at a great rate.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Be the Most Prepared Mom!

July 7, 2016

It’s here, friends! The hot, hazy days of summer!

And, if you’re lucky enough to take a weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle, you’ll want to pack up the kids, pack up your troubles, and be the most prepared mom! Today, I’ll show you how to ensure you’ve got the essentials you need for safe, summer fun.
13408849_296159470723601_1877003576_nEssential #1: Sunscreen. (I am totally NOT going to tell you to pack sunscreen. It’s 2016, folks! We know the negative effects of damage caused by harmful UVA and UVB rays. And if you don’t know, look it up! Trust me on this one.)  (more…)

Keep Reading

You Can (Totally) Leave Home Without It

June 13, 2016

Until now, all of my “Travel Tips” and “What to Pack” posts have focused on what to take on vacation. You know, the must-haves for mom, families and children alike. However, it occurred to me this morning that often, we needlessly complicate the process. Packing cubes! Reminder notes! To-do lists! We know how to keep on top of the things we need to take, but what can we leave at home?
12783999_1566234280334864_1614171988_nToday, I’m pleased to share tips for things you can absolutely, positively, totally leave home without.

(Sounds like your kind of list? Me too!)

1. Your Life Story. Take a peek at your wallet. If you’re travelling with your Social Insurance Card, every credit card and store card you own, your membership cards, frequent customer cards and more, you’re travelling with too much damned access to your entire life story. Edit, friends! In the unfortunate event that your wallet is misplaced (or stolen), you don’t want to add identity theft to your list of troubles.  (more…)

Keep Reading

(Almost) Picture Perfect

May 9, 2016

We took 18 family photos today at Hollywood Studios and this was the best one. Once in a while, I’m asked why I don’t put my kids in modelling. This would be why.Life isn’t picture perfect – not even when you’re on vacation. Kids will be silly, and throw tantrums, and push parents to their limits. They’ll fight and refuse to eat and splash water in each other’s faces even after the giggles have turned into tears.

You’ll ask yourself more than once why you even bothered to spend your hard-earned money. All you wanted to do was make memories with your children, but they’re behaving like a bunch of lunatics, not showing an ounce of gratitude for your generosity and sacrifices.

And then, just when you’ve reached your breaking point and you’re ready to head back to your hotel room, you’ll see wonder and delight etched across your child’s face as they discover something new, make a new friend or experience a moment of magic.

And just like that, you’ll decide that it’s worth it. It’s all worth it.

We have two more days left in our Walt Disney World vacation and we intend on making the most of our time here. I’ll be back later this week! In the meantime, have a wonderful day, friends!

Keep Reading

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Yeti?

April 25, 2016

Okay, so perhaps it’s not the Yeti that has me so freaked out.

Perhaps it’s the backwards portion of the roller coaster. Or the fact that a large part of it takes place in the dark. Now that I think about it, it’s probably the ascension to the top of the mountain, the 80-foot drop, or the basic reasoning that it’s labeled a “thrill ride”.

Whatever the reason, I’m scared of Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.
Walt Disney World Photo Gallery Disc“My 7-year old rode it!” one IG follower said in encouragement. Well, the thing is – so did mine. And that gives me cold comfort, because now I realize that I’m the biggest wimp ever.

“It’s nothing – you hardly feel anything and then it’s over,” my husband assured me. However, I can’t help but remember that time I ate chips from his private stash, and he promised he’d get me back… and I can picture him saying “Ha! Ha! Gotcha!” as we barrel down the mountain. Shudder.

Alas, for all the times I’ve been to Walt Disney World, I do believe it’s time to conquer my fear. Wish me luck, friends. I’m ready for the Forbidden Mountain.

Keep Reading

Vacationing in Paradise? Watch Out for Unwanted Travel Companions.

February 22, 2016

The countdown is on! We’re just three weeks away from March Break, and for Canadians, that means a large percentage of us will be travelling down south to sunny destinations. If you’re one of the lucky ones who is getting away, have a fruity drink for me, mmmkay?
fruityNow, you know I want you to have the BEST vacation ever, which means that *of course* you should be prepared with the information you need for #HealthyTravels. If you missed our Twitter Party last week, fear not! I’m here to share some of the most important takeaways with you today.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Expect Something More: Disney Cruise Line

February 6, 2016

It’s been just about three weeks since we’ve returned from our Disney Cruise Line vacation… and I’ve only been *this close* to booking another Disney Cruise just about 20 times. It’s true! I’m officially hooked. From the stunning destinations to the superb and spacious accommodations; the unique fine dining to the live Broadway-caliber shows, I’ve found a new way to spend my vacation dollars.

And, I can’t think of a better investment.

Because that’s the crux of the matter, yes? The fact is, when planning a family vacation, your choice is bound to be based on interests, preferences and your total travel budget. And for the first two – interests and preferences – I can assure you that a Disney Cruise Line vacation will easily cover these points. There is authentically something for everyone! (No, seriously, take a look.)
overview-whats-includedBut it’s important for me to address the elephant (possibly Dumbo?) in the room: Why is a Disney Cruise worth your hard-earned vacation dollars? What makes a Disney Cruise different from another cruise line? Why should you consider paying a premium when there are so many last minute “deals” and “promos” offered by competitors?

It’s actually quite simple. With a Disney Cruise Line vacation, you can expect something more. In fact, what’s included in the price of your cruise may surprise you.  (more…)

Keep Reading

Let’s Get Away.

January 28, 2016

This year, I’ll write about travel. A lot.

I’ll review hotels and resorts and share food pics from restaurants. I’ll cover sun, sand and skiing and will even throw in a staycation to keep things interesting. I’ll RT the heck out of travel posts and photos, talk about Disney obsessively and will probably squeeze in a beach selfie (or ten).

And, I won’t apologize for it.
12523806_1059920337391805_1507124597_nI won’t be rubbed the wrong way when a well-meaning follower says, “Nice job you have!” I have a very nice job, thank you.

I won’t cringe when a family friend says, “Seriously? Didn’t you just take a vacation?” It was actually a work trip, but yes, I did bring my family along. And yes, we’re leaving again soon.

I won’t be embarrassed to share the news of our upcoming cruise, all-inclusive resort vacation, hotel stay or (insert fabulous travel opportunity here). It’s my job to cover family travel.

And I certainly won’t feel the need to a) stress how hard I’ve worked on my brand and reputation to earn the distinction of working with world-class clients. I won’t disclose b) the hours I’ve spent researching destinations and negotiating travel opportunities, many of which require out-of-pocket expenses. I won’t point out that when I’m travelling, c) I’m not making a paycheck – which means I’ve traded quantitative income in order to give my family experiences that are a direct benefit of a).

Oooh boy. Okay, I’ll stop being all crazy defensive and overly-sensitive starting… now.

My goal this year is to collect memories instead of things. And I never forget for a minute – not even a second – how fortunate I am to be able to choose between the two. My hope is that you’ll come along for the ride this year, following my adventures, social posts, media appearances, etc. – knowing that beyond the glitz and glamour, it’s really just work for me. And if my blog post convinces you to plan your own family vacation… then I’ve done my job well.

Happy travels, everyone!

Keep Reading

Multi-Generational Memories

January 24, 2016

It’s a moment I don’t want to forget.

The rain clouds began to dissipate, revealing a bright sunny day with a promise of the perfect weather Orlando is known for. As we made our way into Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Ryder, my sweet, sensitive 7-year old, beckoned me with his hand.

“I want to look at the castle,” he said.

This is our tradition. Skirting over to the nearest curb to avoid the crowds, I let him drink in the sight of Cinderella’s castle. It didn’t matter that we were too far for an unobstructed view. It didn’t matter that we were pushed together as a steady throng of guests shuffled past us. My entire world was reduced to a little boy, staring in helpless wonder at a fairy tale come to life.
DSC_0064aWhat is he thinking? What does he see? I wondered. Was he imagining himself as the brave prince who fights for the maiden’s honour? Was he envisioning the colourful burst of fireworks that adorn the sky at night? Or did he simply see the castle for what it was – an iconic representation of a place where dreams come true? I had to know.  (more…)

Keep Reading

WDW: Dare You to Find a More Magical Sight.

January 9, 2016

No matter how old I am… no matter how many times I’ve visited Walt Disney World… there’s something truly, truly special about Cinderella’s castle.
12446017_856563911122838_550749723_nIt’s no secret that January is my favourite time to visit Walt Disney World. Perfect park weather, reduced wait times due to lighter crowds, and the piece de resistance: most parks are still outfitted in holiday decor, such as the stunning icicle lights on Cinderella’s castle at Magic Kingdom.

It’s not too late to plan an incredible Walt Disney World vacation! Have a magical day!

Keep Reading

Ten “Must Visit” Canadian Hidden Winter Gems

January 1, 2016

NOTE: The following giveaway is open to Canadians only.

Happy New Year! It’s the very first day of a brand new year, and as I look outside at the winter wonderland before me, I couldn’t be more excited! Snow! Beautiful snow.

Canadians are mostly familiar with the popular winter attractions and activities.  After all, our nation is a well-known destination for winter travel; from skating on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal to hitting the slopes at Mont Tremblant, our country is rich with opportunities for outdoor fun.
12317584_1790330217860828_1353648844_nHowever, beyond these well-known destinations are a number of places just waiting to be discovered. Celebrate the spirit of winter in Canada and explore your own backyard by planning a trip to one of these soon-to-be favourite hidden winter gems. Plus, read on for your chance to win 50,000 IHG Rewards Club Points! That’s enough for a one, two – or even three! – nights stay at one of their 4,900+ properties worldwide. (Or, redeem your points for gift cards or incredible swag! 50,000 IHG Reward Club Points = approximately $500!)  (more…)

Keep Reading

Imagine: The Freedom to Travel Anytime, Anywhere.

November 17, 2015

Sounds blissful, doesn’t it?

For most Canadians, travel is an affordable luxury. With so many destinations, budget options, package deals and ways to book a vacation, a holiday is within reach, even if it’s a staycation in your own city.

But for those struggling with their vacay fund, there’s one foolproof way to ensure well-deserved time off is within reach: reward yourself. With the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card, you can earn THREE (3) TD Points for every $1 you spend on purchases using your Card – that’s a return of up to 1.5% on your purchases!

And, if you apply by January 4, 2016 and are approved, you could get this special welcome offer:

– A Welcome Bonus of 20,000 TD Points when you make your first purchase with the Card – that’s worth $100 in travel savings through Expedia For TD

– A $150 credit from Expedia For TD when you make a travel purchase of $150 or more through Expedia For TD using your Card by June 15, 2016

Now that you know how to make travel a possibility, let’s inspire you with where to go and what to do! Join the @TD_Canada #TDInfiniteTravel Twitter Chat on November 19, 2015 at 8PM EST!
TDInfiniteTravel GraphicIn addition to a fun travel chat with a “Travel Anywhere, Anytime” theme, we’ll also be giving away 5 (five) Amazon.ca gift codes valued at $50 each. There’s no RSVP for this chat; simply tweet to win!

Keep Reading

Paradise Found: The Islands of The Bahamas Bucket List

November 9, 2015

3922_lg… and then they found their way to Paradise, where they abandoned their troubles, sipped the nectar of gods and swam with pigs. (That’s not a typo. More on the ‘Official Home of the Swimming Pigs’ below!)

For millions of Canadians, The Bahamas is on their travel bucket list.Set in the breathtaking turquoise and azure waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, The Islands of The Bahamas are a group of over 700 islands boasting some of the world’s most beautiful beaches – graced with perpetual sunshine and warm balmy breezes.

I’ve longed to visit The Bahamas. Interestingly, my husband and I had planned to honeymoon at one of their scenic, enchanting islands – only to cancel our vacation when I became violently ill from morning sickness just weeks after our wedding.

(Yes, we had a ‘honeymoon baby”… we just never made it to the actual honeymoon!)

So, you could say that I’ve been drafting my Bahama Islands Bucket List ever since; we hope to turn those plans into reality in the near future. And today, I’m happy to share what’s at the top of my list!  (more…)

Keep Reading

A Plane SO Cool… It’s Frozen!

October 20, 2015

When I buckled the boys into their car seats on Sunday morning, I had a vague idea about our final destination.

Where are we going, mommy?
Is it a party? A Sunday morning party?
Will there be kids? Will there be kids? Is it far? 
Are we there yet? (Asked at 2 minute intervals, of course)

Thankfully, our rendezvous was less than a half hour away. And as we pulled up to the WestJet hangar, my intuition spiked into overdrive.

This is going to be amazing, I whispered to my husband.

Inside, the excitement was palpable. Adults and children alike buzzed with anticipation, constantly checking the time and willing it to inch forward to the 10:00AM event start. A large curtain, ominously descending from the ceiling, veiled our eyes from what was surely the star attraction, hidden for the time being. And finally, as Bob Cummings, WestJet Executive Vice-President, took the stage, the audience surged together and leaned forward.

“Two years ago, we launched the #MagicPlane, our first Disney-themed aircraft, and no matter where it flies throughout our network, it is the most-anticipated and most-photographed aircraft in WestJet history. Today, we are proud to team up with our great friends at Disney to create a sequel like no other.”

Introducing the Disney Frozen Themed Plane.
FrozenPlane_Reveal_I won’t hesitate to admit that the hairs on the back of my neck stood up straight with excitement. The plane, so painstakingly detailed, brings Disney’s Frozen to life by marrying art and aviation in a way that speaks to the child in all of us. From Olaf’s adorable invitation to join him on the beach to Elsa and Anna’s celebration of sisterhood and snow (I truly believe Elsa’s spell adds tailwind to speed the aircraft along), the plane promises to be yet another star in WestJet’s already magical fleet.

Let’s get a little closer, shall we? (Click here to view my live tweets from the event.(more…)

Keep Reading

Your Best Disney Vacation: How to Stretch a Weak Dollar

October 12, 2015

It’s the most magical glow.

It’s a particular warmth you feel after returning from a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation, led by the intense desire to do it all over again. In fact, immediately upon returning from a visit to the most magical place on earth, I begin planning our next vacation! And since we returned from Disneyland Resort just two weeks ago, you can guess what’s currently taking up my time – yep, consulting calendars for 2016’s epic adventure.
FullSizeRender 6Addicted? I like to think I’m converted. Because now, I prefer to only vacation at world class resorts with world class theme parks. What’s wrong with that? You only live once!

Of course, one of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked since I announced our getaway is:

“How can I afford a Disney vacation with the falling Canadian dollar?”

To all those who’ve emailed or messaged me, thanks for your interest! The truth is, my Visa statement was indeed impacted by the weaker dollar; I’m not going to sugarcoat it. You need to plan ahead for increased prices. However, has that stopped me from wanting to do it all over again? NEVER! Because I have a great handle on how to stretch a weak dollar for an incredible Disney vacation. And today, I’m happy to share my best tips with you!  (more…)

Keep Reading

Dining Out: Mont Tremblant Edition

September 20, 2015

I’ve been holding out on you guys.

You see, for the past little while, I’ve had these gorgeous food photos on my phone, just waiting to be shared. But life is hectic, and this summer has been one for the books. So, they’ve just been sitting here, buried in a folder, begging to see the light of day.

And no one puts Poutine in a folder.
IMG_3100The sinfully delicious concoction above – a must-do when in Quebec – can be found at La Forge Bistro-Bar Mont Tremblant, THE place to have an après-ski drink or a delicious seasonal meal on the terrace overlooking Place St-Bernard. I opted for the Classique (cheese and gravy) because I’m a traditionalist at heart, but you can just as easily indulge in Saucisse fumée tout bœuf C.A.B. (smoked C.A.B. all-beef sausage), Viande hachée et oignons caramélisés (ground beef and caramelized onions) or Bœuf effiloché (house smoked beef brisket, pepper sauce, onion rings and fried pickles). (more…)

Keep Reading