Meet Our Experts

Allison Silvaggio, CTC | Travel Consultant

Who is Allison:

Allison has been in the travel industry since 1997, and employed with Great Canadian Travel for the past 15 years. After graduating from the Travel Program at Success Compu-College she spent a year working & travelling abroad in Australia.  She was employed at SeaWorld, and was known as the ‘Canuck’ at the Italian Restaurant she worked at on the Gold Coast.

She has a passion for designing itineraries for Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.  And, specializes in expedition cruising in the Arctic, North Atlantic and Antarctica. Allison has travelled to some of the remote communities in Arctic Canada and has a love for selling travel within this amazing country, including the Yukon, NWT, and Nunavut.

Allison has just celebrated her 15 year anniversary with her husband Mark, and they share two very energetic and creative sons, Nicholas and Liam.

Together, they enjoy travelling, spending time at their cabin, along with activities such as tennis and golf.

What are Allison’s TOP 5 travel experiences:

  • Experiencing culture, history and wildlife during the Northwest Passage from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to Kugluktuk, Arctic Canada
  • Snowshoeing in Antarctica
  • Kayaking with the Beluga Whales in Churchill, MB
  • 8km hike from Tjornuvik to Saksun in the amazing Faroe Islands
  • Camping safari in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe

What is Allison’s closing comment?
Wherever your travels may take you, always remember to take that moment to pause, breathe and take it all in. Plus, try one of the local beers!

New from Allison Silvaggio, CTC

International Indigenous Travel Conference – One to Remember!

November 27, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

After attending 7 travel conferences over the past 10 years, the International Indigenous Travel Conference is one to remember.  All of the amazing people met, and amount of knowledge gained.  And mainly due to the cultural & emotional experiences that touched each of us.

It began with a very moving talk from the first Inuk to every play in the National Hockey League; Jordin Tootoo from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.  In 2011 Jordin established the Team Tootoo Fund, a non profit organization addressing suicide awareness and prevention.  Jordin shared his personal struggles with us, and spoke about the loss of his older brother Terence, who died at the age of 22.

I am looking forward to reading Jordin’s book; ‘All the Way, My Life on the Ice.’  Jordin continues to support the fund, and speak throughout Canada at different events expressing that there is help, and we need to accept it.

 

 

 

We also experienced a very powerful presentation from the beautiful Sarain Fox, dancer, choreographer, activist and television host.  Her talk helped open our eyes to just how proud we should be to share the amazing Indigenous culture and travel experiences that Canada has to offer.  We are very fortunate to have these experiences offered through every province and territory of this great country.

And when the audience seemed exhausted from information over-load, who better to get us all up on our feet, than ‘Double the Trouble.’  Identical 15-year old twin fiddlers along with their father on guitar, from Winnipeg, MB who delivered a fantastic musical performance.

Indigenous Tourism Canada made a very special announcement during the conference.  They have signed a contract and will now be using an Indigenous owned travel agency, Indigeno Travel,  for all of their leisure and corporate travel arrangements.  We are very excited to begin this new venture with them.

The message relayed during the 3-day conference was return to your land and take care of it for the generations to come.  This is a very strong message with everything going on in our world, and what we can do to protect it.

I am also very happy to report that the 2020 International Indigenous Travel Conference will be held in my home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Hope to see you there!

Allison’s Best Days Ever!

November 11, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

‘Arriving on my 7th Continent’

With so many fantastic travel experiences, its hard to choose just one.  However, I think of this day often.

After a two-day sailing across the Drake Passage, I have finally arrived; my 7th continent! The anticipation of stepping onto the Antarctic  Peninsula for the first time……solid ground is wonderful!

Not long after our arrival, we experienced the true Antarctic greeting, as some curious penguins waddled by along the shores.  We enjoyed a snowshoe with the most breathtaking scenery surrounding us.  The peacefulness was so serene, that we decided to stop and sit for a bit.  To take the time to absorb our surroundings and appreciate the silence.  The only sound was the waves against the shore and our penguin friends.  The weather was perfect, with a cool breeze on your face, and the sun trying to peak through the overcast clouds.  Light flurries were falling, which made the experience even better.

After returning to our expedition vessel, I enjoyed a warm beverage and some wonderful conversation with our fellow travellers.  Followed by an amazing dinner, paired with some fantastic wines from Argentina.

The solitude, serenity and scenery make this my best day ever!!

 

Yoga from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica

September 19, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

The serenity of standing on the bow of the small expedition ship, watching the Southern fulmars fly back and forth over the wake of the vessel. Enjoying a morning yoga class where the gentle rocking of the ship puts you deeper into the stretch, followed by the silence of meditation. Snowshoeing among hundreds of wandering penguins, as they examine us with curiosity. Standing on the sea ice at the Floe Edge and staring out at the open ocean, hoping for a glimpse of marine life. Just a few of my ‘best vacation days ever experiences.’

Twenty-two years in travel has given me the opportunity to meet some fantastic people, and travel to some exciting and remote destinations. For fifteen years I have been specializing in polar destinations such as Arctic Canada and Antarctica, Iceland and Greenland.

    

From my first visit, my passion exploded and it’s exciting to plan a complicated itinerary for clients who are more invested in the culture and activities than how strong the WiFi signal will be.

I have been practicing Yoga for over thirteen years, which has tied in quite nicely with travel. From some of my early travels, I would return home with thousands of images, however, lacking the connection with the destination. I now return home with fewer photos but more satisfied with the experiences. Yoga has taught me to slow down, take a breath and absorb our surroundings.

I believe that the combination of travel and yoga have made me into the person I am today. Our world is extremely hectic and bombarded with technology. I find myself more at peace when I am traveling and try to bring this tranquility into everyday life.

Take a look at the piece I wrote for Wander Magazine about how I feel that yoga has enhanced my travel experiences from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic!

It’s the People You Meet!

September 19, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

Every time I am wandering through the airport, the world seems massive!  So many people; where are they going, and where have they been?

One of the highlights when travelling, is the people that you meet.

    

Whether it’s the person you chat with while waiting to board the plane, the couple you enjoy a cup of coffee with after your horse back riding tour or the person sitting next to you on a zodiac excursion; these are the relationships that are built while exploring and then sharing the memories afterwards.

I still keep in touch with people who I met in Australia 22 years ago, in the Arctic 7 years ago and in Antarctica 2 years ago.  This is definitely a positive when travelling alone.

One of my fellow travellers during an Antarctic expedition will be travelling from Australia to Canada next month. I’m very excited to spend a few days with her before she heads north to Churchill for a Polar Bear excursion.   And, you never know who you may meet again one day during your travels!

Transformative Travel

July 25, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

One of the best parts of my day is learning where clients want to travel, and what piqued their interest in a certain destination. It is becoming more popular for clients to choose a destination or experience that will inspire them in some way.

Experiential travel is where people focus on experiencing a country by actively engaging with its history, people, culture, and environment. Sailing the North West Passage and learning the history of the Franklin Expedition, or engaging in a culinary experience in Italy.

   

Transformative travel is when you travel with intention, openness and mindfulness.  Engaging in a challenging physical or cultural experience. Finding tranquility at a yoga retreat in India, or visiting with the Elders in Arctic Canada to learn their history.

Arctic Canada Inuit Elders

Whatever piques your interest, contact The Great Canadian Travel Group and let us plan “your best days ever!”

Attending the Spirit of the Arctic Tourism Summit

May 06, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

Attending the Spirit of the Arctic Tourism Summit in Nunavut’s capital of Iqaluit helped expand my knowledge on travelling to the North.

I have been lucky enough to visit 3 of the Arctic communities, including Pond Inlet, Cambridge Bay and Naujaat (which is located on the Arctic Circle). Read More >

The Famous Sourtoe Cocktail

April 16, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

Welcome to Dawson City!  Home to the ‘Sourtoe Cocktail!’ Since 1973, the Sourdough Saloon in Dawson City has been accepting members.  All you have to do is visit the Saloon and ask for Captain River Rat. Purchase a shot (I chose Yukon Jack), and pledge the oath;  ‘You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips have gotta touch the toe’. Watch as the (genuine) dehydrated toe is dropped in your drink, and enjoy your shot.

Read More >

Wellness Travel

January 21, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

Wellness Travel is becoming more and more popular.  Travellers want to enjoy activities, and have nutritious options while visiting a destination.

Everything from hiking & cycling holidays, to yoga retreats are offered in many destinations.  Snow shoeing and cross country skiing are also becoming more popular in the Northern destinations. Read More >

Which Yule Lad Are You?

December 12, 2018 | Allison Silvaggio

Iceland has a fantastic tradition of the 13 Yule Lads which lead up to Christmas Day.  The Yule Lad will come down from the mountains to bring children gifts and candy, and sometimes play pranks.  Take the quiz on the below link to find out which Yule Lad you are? Read More >

How Much Can You See & Do in 24 Hours?

November 22, 2018 | Allison Silvaggio

Normally when we travel for work, it can make for some long days in order to see and do as much as possible.  However, last month I experience one of the longest, busiest days yet!

It started with a departure from Winnipeg, and connection in Toronto.  I departed Toronto at 9pm, which would have been 1am in Iceland.  During my international flight, I watched a movie and napped for a few hours. Read More >

Travel to the Music City

August 31, 2018 | Allison Silvaggio

If you are a music lover, you should definitely visit Nashville, TN.  Especially now with our Winnipeg Jets playing there at least twice per season. 

It was my third time visiting a few weeks ago, and cannot wait to go back.  Read More >

Hiking in Sedona

July 24, 2018 | Allison Silvaggio

After visiting Sedona, AZ three times, I now confirm that this is one of my favorite places.  With everything from a wide range of accommodation, to amazing restaurants and fun souvenir shopping.

However, my favourite thing to do in Sedona is to hike and enjoy the breathtaking scenery all around.  Read More >

24-Hours in Halifax

June 05, 2018 | Allison Silvaggio

When attending travel seminars, there is never enough time to explore the destination in which you are visiting.  However, I always try and give myself at least one full day to explore the sites, pick up some souvenirs, and try the local cuisine.

This time it was Halifax, Nova Scotia and one day was definitely not enough.  I started my day with a Starbucks coffee, which was hard to find (definitely more pubs in Halifax than coffee shops).  Then boarded my half day tour to Peggy’s Cove. Read More >

Northwest Passage Expedition Cruise

May 01, 2018 | Allison Silvaggio

During my time spent in the travel industry, I have been extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to visit some amazing and very remote destinations.  One of the best experiences would be travelling aboard the Akademik Ioffe for 16 days, cruising through the famous Northwest Passage.

Read More >

Beautiful Buenos Aires

January 29, 2018 | Allison Silvaggio

En route to Ushuaia and Antarctica, I was lucky enough to spend a full day in Buenos Aires taking in as many sites as possible in 24 hours. Which was definitely, not long enough!

The capital, and most populous city of Argentina, with a population of about 2,891,000 in 2016, was bigger than I thought.

Read More >

Allison’s Top 5 Reasons to Take an Expedition Cruise

January 05, 2018 | Allison Silvaggio

According to the Travel Industry Dictionary, an expedition cruise is defined as a cruise, typically aboard a smaller vessel, with an emphasis on the natural habitat of exotic destinations and responsible tourism. It also implies a cruise with on board experts in the ecology of the destination and a certain level of rigor, such as in Antarctic cruises. Read More >

Glaciers and Ice

December 20, 2017 | Allison Silvaggio

Did you know that about 10% of land area on Earth is covered by glacial ice? Antarctica is the world’s largest ice sheet, and is so large that it even covers mountain ranges and a bunch of volcanoes. Yes, volcanoes… underneath the ice. So as the world’s fifth largest continent, and on average, the highest AND coldest out of the seven, Antarctica and its glaciers are a sight to see. Just don’t forget your long underwear! Read More >

Sailing the Drake

December 15, 2017 | Allison Silvaggio

No, this is not a reference to Drake, the Canadian-born rapper, with song titles that are actually quite fitting for a post about Antarctica. I’m pretty sure this isn’t what he meant, but I’m going to go with it anyway. Read More >

The Wildlife of Antarctica

November 30, 2017 | Allison Silvaggio

Most travellers head to Antarctica to complete their 7th Continent, for the amazing scenery and ice, and for the wildlife. Just having returned 4 days ago, I remember all of the amazing wildlife.

With just under 2 days from Ushuaia to cross the Drake Passage, much of this time was spent on board enjoying the bird life which included; Wandering Albatross (which just happens to have the longest wingspan of any bird on the planet, reaching up to 3.5 metres across!), Southern Giant Petrel and Southern Fulmar. Read More >

Going With the Floe – Edge

July 05, 2017 | Allison Silvaggio

After a few visits to Arctic communities in my past travels, I finally got to experience the floe edge.  And, what an experience it was!

Approximately 25 miles, just under 2 hours riding in a kamotiq pulled behind a snow machine, we arrived at the edge of the ice.  It was almost surreal… the beauty, remoteness and peacefulness. The only sounds were the gulls overhead and the sound of the water.  Where the ice stops and the open water begins. Read More >

Northwest Passage Expedition Cruise

February 13, 2017 | Allison Silvaggio

During my time spent in the travel industry, I have been extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to visit some amazing and very remote destinations.  One of the best experiences would be travelling aboard the Akademik Ioffe for 16 days, cruising through the famous Northwest Passage.

Read More >

Dress for Winter (Think Like an Onion!)

August 19, 2016 | Allison Silvaggio

If you’re thinking of a winter holiday in the Arctic dressing for the winter weather is a must!

My advice to clients is “Think Like an Onion”!  When you peel an onion you can pull it apart layer by layer, so the same goes for dressing for cold weather.

Close up of sliced red onion

Read More >

Essentials for Every Adventurer…

March 31, 2016 | Allison Silvaggio

Have you ever heard veteran travellers talk in hushed whispers of their so-called ‘everything bag’?  Ever wondered what this little, underappreciated, totally essential item might be?  If so, I have written this article especially for you!  I’d like to tell you about the items in my ‘everything bag’, because every single one of them has come in useful for me on numerous occasions during my 12 years of extensive travel. Read More >

“There’s Bears Out There!” – Travel Talk about Polar Bear Adventures in Churchill

January 15, 2016 | Allison Silvaggio

Allison Silvaggio is one of our adventurous Travel Consultants at Great Canadian Travel and, like you, she loves the Polar Bears. She’s been to Churchill, Manitoba to see the polar bears and is an expert in having the best polar bear adventure experience. Allison just returned from Churchill and has some great tips to pass along to anyone planning to travel to see the polar bears. Read More >