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Karen Pearson, CTC | Travel Consultant

Who is Karen:
Karen often refers to herself as the Accidental Travel Agent. While in University studying education she was at a crossroads in her life, questioning what she really wanted to pursue. It reminded her of how some clients look to us to suggest what kind of trip they should plan or where they should go. So she has always been able to relate. She decided that pursuing Travel and Tourism was the route for her and, as they say, the rest is history. She has worked in the travel industry now for almost 20 years, and has been at Great Canadian Travel since 2014. Karen’s favourite part of her job is experiencing trips through the excitement of her clients. Being a part of their experience and their holiday is so rewarding.

Top 5 Travel Experiences:

  • Six weeks exploring Bolivia and Peru
  • Soaking in the French-inspired atmosphere in Quebec City
  • Seeing the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
  • The stunning scenery around Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies
  • Escaping the Winnipeg winter to scuba dive in Cuba

What is Karen’s closing comment:
Our team here at Great Canadian Travel has been to so many places and has experienced so many adventures and challenges, you will truly be in good hands with us. Not every trip is about the adventure of a lifetime, sometimes you just want to get away and need someone to help you book your hotel and airfare. We take the time to give you the personal, hands-on service you need to make it easy for you. After all, isn’t that what a trip should be about? I look forward to talking to you!

New from Karen Pearson, CTC

Karen’s Best Days Ever! Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

December 09, 2019 | Karen Pearson

My partner Chris had told me so much about Salar de Uyuni. The photos from his previous trips were stunning. I was so excited to see the salt flats that I didn’t even mind waking up around 4:00am. The drive from our accommodations to Incahuasi Island took about an hour. In the dark, the salt seemed so much like snow on a gravel road that I felt like I could have still been on the prairies. That feeling was reinforced when the sun came up and everything I could see for miles was white and flat. It was like being on Lake Winnipeg in January, and I felt completely at home. Even some areas where the salt was shallow looked like when the lake starts to melt in the spring and there is a layer of water and slushy snow on top of the ice. The only indication that it was not snow was in one area where the water was bubbling up like a geyser, and around it the salt looked like sand. Read More >

Peru – A Foodie Destination

September 13, 2018 | Karen Pearson

My Spanish teacher Renato, who is originally from Peru, has been telling me for four years how great the food is in his home country. After my recent trip, I can confirm that’s true.

There are some dishes specific to certain regions but many that are widely available in most restaurants throughout Peru. Each time I encountered a dish that Renato had mentioned, I was excited to try it. Read More >

Best Bites

July 06, 2018 | Karen Pearson

For me, travelling is not just about seeing things. It’s about new experiences, trying different food, and interacting with the locals. On my recent trip to Peru with G Adventures, I opted to take Best Bite’s culinary tour, which accomplished all three of those things.  Read More >

O Canada – Our Home

June 28, 2018 | Karen Pearson

Having just returned from nearly six weeks in South America, I have a renewed appreciation for Our Home and Native Land. Here are some of the many things we take for granted that I missed while I was away:  Read More >

Salar de Uyuni – Bolivia Salt Flats

June 21, 2018 | Karen Pearson

Driving through Salar de Uyuni in the dark, I felt like I was at home on the prairies, driving down a gravel road in the middle of January. The salt looked exactly like snow in the glow of the headlights.

We climbed to the top of Isla Incahuasi to watch the sunrise, and as the sky began to brighten, it truly felt like we were on an island. In the dim pre-dawn light, the salt seemed like a lake surrounding us.  Read More >

Farm Visit in Peru

June 01, 2018 | Karen Pearson

One of the many activities offered by Tambopata Eco Lodge is a visit to the nearby farm that supplies most of the produce served to guests and staff.

As our boat neared the dock, we were greeted by the farm’s friendly dogs. The first task was to feed the numerous free-range chickens. After that, our guides displayed most of the fruits grown on the farm and explained what each one was. Sampling many of the fruits was the best part of the tour. We tried papaya, plantains, lady-finger bananas, carambola, lemon, orange, grapefruit, and fish-eye peppers. Noni, a super-fruit related to the acąi which looks a bit like a spotted potato, was the least favourite; the consensus was that it smells and tastes like stinky feet or blue cheese.  Read More >

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

April 17, 2018 | 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 >

Havana Good Time

April 13, 2018 | Karen Pearson

On Thursday of our trip to Cuba, we opted to visit Havana. We didn’t want to take a tour with a group, so we spoke to Michel, the concierge at our hotel, and he arranged a taxi for us. We got to ride in one of the old cars from the 1950s. Read More >

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.

Read More >

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!

Read More >

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.

             

Read More >

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 >