Karen Pearson | The Great Canadian Travel Co. - Part 2

STAFF PICKS

January 4, 2022 | Pearl McCallum

Coming to the end of 2021, another difficult year for travel, I think back over my time in the industry.  More than 20 years ago I went to college to become a travel agent because, well, I loved to travel.  The job was presented as hard work for little pay; …

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December 10, 2021 | Lois Farley

Republishing this blog from 2020 with the revision to include that 2021 was similar to 2020 but was more of a “Stink, Stank, Stuck” kind of year! It seemed like a lot of the year we were spinning our wheels, stuck in a rut of continuing restrictions, lifting of restrictions, …

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November 10, 2021 | Lois Farley

This Remembrance Day we’d like to honour members of our own families and friends who have served during war time and in regular military service.

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Captivating Cuba

March 28, 2018 | Karen Pearson

On my recent trip to Varadero I stayed at Meliá Marina Varadero. I really liked this resort. The nightly entertainment was professional quality, with a variety of styles of entertainment. There was live music in the lobby every evening, including high-quality opera singers one evening. There was often a preview of the nightly show in the lobby as well. The shows were either music and dancing or acrobatic-type shows and were all well done. And of course there was lots of Cuban music throughout the week. Read More >

Au Diable Vert – the Velovolant (flying bicycles)

March 13, 2018 | Karen Pearson

Imagine you are sitting in something that looks somewhat like the seat and roll cage from a race car, without the race car around it. Imagine you are hanging from a cable 15 feet above the ground. Imagine you begin to pedal, which propels you slowly through the trees, the ground falling away until you are 60 feet or more above the ground. Imagine that it is peaceful, the only sounds made by the breeze rustling the trees, some birds chirping, and the occasional squirrel squeaking. Imagine that all you can see are the treetops surrounding you and perhaps the next rider, depending on your location along the one-kilometre trail. Imagine that the only sensation is the gentle swaying of your pod and the occasional bump as it runs over a connection in the cable.

Now imagine you have vertigo or are scared of heights. That was me exactly. Read More >

A Game of Thrones Tour in Ireland

January 02, 2018 | Karen Pearson

During my recent trip to Ireland, our first activity was the Winterfell Game of Thrones Experience at Ward Castle and Demesne. I confess that I had my doubts about this situation. I have never watched even two minutes of Game of Thrones, and thought that part might be boring, although I was looking forward to the archery. The entire three hours from the airport to Strangford (including stops), I kept wondering, ‘Who came up with this terrible idea?!’ I thought that arming 20 sleep-deprived and jet-lagged people with bows and arrows was an utterly bad plan. However, I was completely wrong. It was a great ice-breaker for our group, who hadn’t met before we landed in Dublin. It was also a lot of fun. Our guide William was thoroughly entertaining and informative. He explained how it came about that Game of Thrones used Ward Castle and Demesne for shooting parts of the show, and took us around the grounds to point out areas that were used in the filming. He knows many details about the show and was able to tell us exactly which scenes were filmed there. Read More >

Northern Ireland and Hurricane Ophelia

December 11, 2017 | Karen Pearson

In October, I was part of a group of travel agents who went on tour jointly sponsored by Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland. We were so fortunate, as this was the first familiarization trip that combined both countries. It was a whirlwind trip, quite literally, and so much fun. I was lucky enough to travel with a fabulous group of people from all across Canada, from Vancouver to St. John’s. In no time, it was like we’d always known each other.

You can fly into Belfast, but Northern Ireland is just as easily accessible from Dublin airport. With WestJet, Aer Lingus, and Air Canada all flying into Dublin, there are so many options for flights. We flew WestJet via Toronto, and although the landing in St. John’s was bouncy due to the wind, I can’t complain about the extra stop. It broke the trip up so it didn’t seem quite so long. I experienced the same friendly service and on-time flights that I have come to expect from WestJet.

On arrival in Dublin, we were met by our guide, Lynn Corken, who was very welcoming and informative. Her Northern Irish accent is lovely, although it does take a bit of getting used to. For quite a while, we all wondered where this Kine-ty Dine (rhymes with ninety-nine) was located, then laughed at ourselves when we realized that’s where we currently were, County Down.

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Unexpected Scotland – A Double Double Take

July 20, 2017 | Karen Pearson

The unexpected sights began the first day when, for a moment, I wondered if WestJet had played a trick on the entire plane and returned to Halifax. Right in the centre of Glasgow is a brand-new Tim Horton’s. So if you’re considering a trip to Scotland but worried about how you’ll manage without your Timmie’s fix, have no fear. As of June 2nd, you can now get a double-double when you’re away.

I recently travelled to Scotland and was quite surprised by many of the things I discovered. I expected the rich history, countless castles, rolling hills, and plenty of sheep. But what I didn’t expect was a landscape nearly as varied as Canada; delicious, high-quality food; impeccable service everywhere; and the wonderfully friendly, helpful, and polite people I met everywhere.

Another great and unexpected thing about Glasgow, and many other parts of Scotland, is that almost all historical sites, art galleries, and museums offer free admission. That was certainly a pleasant surprise for me, coming from Winnipeg, where we all love a bargain!

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Why Buy Travel Insurance

May 02, 2017 | Karen Pearson

“If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel”.

Let’s face it, you don’t hesitate on purchasing car insurance when you buy or rent a car, or house and contents insurance when you buy a home. So why not travel insurance?

Honestly, buying travel insurance can be so inexpensive that it’s a no-brainer. Peace of mind is priceless!

Wouldn’t you rather spend an extra $100 or so for your trip and most likely never use the insurance than wipe out your bank account if something did happen?

Call it what you like – vacation insurance, trip insurance or holiday insurance, going without  insurance is not worth the risk. Anything can, will, and sometimes goes wrong. If it does and you are not insured, you can be up for a lot of money AND inconvenience.

Why you should buy travel insurance?

Imagine this.

The excitement of your travel departure date is just around the corner, you’ve saved up all your hard earned money, paid for your flights and accommodation, tours are booked, clothes are packed, and your spending money is just waiting to be spent.

What happens if:

  • You need to cancel your trip unexpectedly
  • You get sick or injured on your trip
  • Your luggage is lost or stolen
  • You lose your passport
  • A hurricane damages your destination

Anything can happen, so why take the risk?

If you are a traveling American, or someone visiting the US, you should definitely NOT skimp on travel medical insurance. Health care costs in the U.S. are ridiculous. So large that people go bankrupt. Better to be safe than sorry, as they say!

Antigua Winter Getaway

November 22, 2016 | Karen Pearson

In March of this year, I went to Antigua for the first time and I absolutely loved it.

I first spent three nights at Verandah Resort and Spa. It was a wonderful resort with many activities that are all part of the all-inclusive package. I was able to try many activities I normally would not have the opportunity to try here in the prairies, such as wind-surfing, stand-up paddle boards, and sailing a catamaran. I was terrible at all of these but that was certainly not the fault of Andrew, the extremely patient and capable instructor. The service from the rest of the staff was excellent, and the food was very good. I loved that the accommodations are mainly duplexes, because it feels more like private residences or cabins than a hotel complex. Read More >

Travelling and the Zika Virus

July 20, 2016 | Karen Pearson

It seems that there’s always a health “curve ball” being thrown at travellers and the latest is the Zika Virus.  The World Health Organization (WHO) is predicting that up to four million people could become infected by the end of 2016, especially with the Olympics coming up in August in Rio, an area already heavily infected.

South and Central America, the Caribbean and parts of the southern US are in the early stages of this rapidly developing health crisis that may eventually post a dire threat to people all over the world.  Well, other than some high altitude, colder climate regions in Chile and Canada, that won’t support breeding of the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito species, the same ones that transmit dengue and chikungunya.  So there are some benefits of living in cold climates!  However, that’s not to say that cases of Zika won’t be reported in these areas, as testing has now confirmed Zika can be transmitted through blood and sexual activity.  However, it is not an airborne disease which is good news for flying, and it is relatively easy to protect oneself against contracting it.  Read More >

First Aid Kit for Hiking Tours

June 02, 2016 | Karen Pearson

A first aid kit is a travel essential, especially when you are going on a multi-day hiking tour with limited (or no) access to stores for supplies.  Each traveller will have specific needs such as medical conditions, but some items are commonly used by nearly everyone.

             

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What to do if you lose your passport – 5 easy steps to get back on track

March 26, 2016 | Karen Pearson

It’s almost midnight, you’re somewhere you don’t know from Timbuktu, and all you want to do is check in to this comfortable-looking hotel and get some sleep, before embarking on some adventures tomorrow.  But as you reach into your pocket for your passport you feel a sickening drop of your heart as your fingers close around nothing but empty space…… Read More >

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