Meet Our Experts

Contact

Lois Farley, CTC | Product Manager

Who is Lois:
Lois is currently Product Manager. She joined the Great Canadian Travel team in March 2000, starting out as an airfare specialist, then represented Icelandair in Canada, handled Sales & Marketing as well as specializing in Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctic.

She grew up on a farm near Forrest, MB and moved to Winnipeg to attend university pursuing a phys-ed degree, then obtained a travel diploma from Angus College. Since graduating she worked in the industry as a travel consultant, a reservations agent/fares specialist for Canadian Airlines and in the sales/ticketing office for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Lois married Yianni in 1993 in a tiny, country chapel in Greece and they have two daughters, Lea and Giorgia. They live in Winnipeg and travel frequently to Greece to visit family and friends there. She and her daughters are ardent Winnipeg Jets fans and cheer on the Toronto Blue Jays, Winnipeg Goldeyes, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Canada’s men’s and women’s volleyball teams and Canadian tennis players.  During Euro Cup 2016, Lois became a big fan of the Icelandic soccer team – Afram Island!

One of Lois’ favourite places to travel to is Ireland – even her profile picture is taken there, learning to pour a Guinness. Her maternal grandmother and other great-grandparents all emigrated from County Antrim, so this is a very special place for her. But, she loves the whole island and all of the incredible experiences it holds.

What are Lois’ TOP 5 travel experiences:

  • Climbing Ayers Rock (now called Uluru) at dawn, and looking out over the ancient lands of the Aboriginals of central Australia. Much to the disappointment of one of the people on our group, there was no Coke machine at the top.
  • Sailing into the fjords of Torngat National Park in northern Labrador. I had no idea there was anywhere like that in Canada – stunning!
  • Visiting the monasteries of Meteora in central Greece, the cliff-side villages of Santorini, the ancient sites of Knossos in Crete, Mycenae and Olympia in the Peloponnese, skiing on Mt. Parnassos in the morning and having lunch in the afternoon beside the sea.  Greece is amazing.
  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge in Crete and the Milford Track in New Zealand – completely different hikes, but both incredible experiences.
  • Backpacking through Europe for almost a year; from Greece in the south to the northern tip of Scotland, Bergen Norway to the beaches of the Algarve in Portugal. A better education than any classroom could ever give!

What is Lois’ closing comment:
“In the short term, it would make me happy to go play outside. In the long term, it would make me happier to do well at school and become successful. But, in the VERY long term, I know which will make better memories”.
– Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes: It’s a Magical World

So, go outside and play whenever you can! Life is too short to regret what you could have, would have, should have done!

New from Lois Farley, CTC

Doorways to Game of Thrones® Country

May 05, 2020 | Lois Farley

Anyone who is a Game of Thrones® fan will know that much of the filming of the blockbuster HBO series took place in Northern Ireland. You can visit many of the locations on excellent guided day tours out of Belfast or multi-day tours, for a more in-depth experience. And many of the guides were actually involved in the filming of the show, so have firsthand knowledge.

One of the filming locations is The Dark Hedges, in the northern part of County Antrim. To those in Westeros it is known as the Kingsroad.  The Dark Hedges was battered by gale force winds during Storm Gertrude in 2016. Unfortunately, a number of the trees whose branches formed the scenic arch over the road, were felled by the winds. Rather than just dispose of the wood the idea came up to use the wood from some of the trees that fell to create intricately carved, wooden doors, each door depicting a story from Game of Thones®, Season 6. Thus, the Journey of Doors was born!

Read More >

April Fool’s Day

April 01, 2020 | Lois Farley

April 1st, known as April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day, is here and if you’re like me, I’m kind of feeling like Mother Nature is playing a very nasty prank on humankind. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our world in many different ways and the seriousness of it makes it pretty hard to feel much like laughing. But, boy, if there was ever a time we needed to laugh, it’s now!

Read More >

Update on COVID-19

March 18, 2020 | Lois Farley

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect the communities where we live and work (and communities around the world where we love to travel), please know that we are working diligently to assist our clients. Those who are currently travelling we’re assisting to get home safely; those booked to travel over the next few days and weeks, to reschedule their travel plans for future travel; cancelling plans for clients when  future travel is not an option.

We must also do all we can to ensure the health and safety of both our staff and clients.

Read More >

Saint Patrick’s Ireland

March 11, 2020 | Lois Farley

With Saint Patrick’s Day coming up a lot of people’s minds turn to Ireland and all things Irish. And, those of us lucky enough to be Irish or are of Irish descent, particularly so!

My ancestors on both sides of my family emigrated to Canada from Ireland back in the mid to late 1800s. My maternal Grandmother’s family home in County Antrim is a special place to me from a genealogical standpoint, nestled as it is at the foot of nearby Mt. Slemish. It’s where my Grandma Hannah was born and raised, and is the land she left behind when she left for Canada. But, I discovered, it was also a very significant place for Saint Patrick. Read More >

On the Silver Screen

February 29, 2020 | Lois Farley

When I’m sitting in a theatre, or on my couch, watching a movie, I often wonder where in the world they filmed the shot of the roaring waterfall, or the glass-like lake, or, for example, the Cliffs of Insanity… I’ve watched The Princess Bride more times than I can count… I’m not ashamed, it’s a great movie.

So I researched some of the filming locations of some of my favourite movies, and lo and behold, I found out that Great Canadian Travel has tours that go to some of these locations. So, here is my definitely non-exhaustive list of tours for movie/TV show buffs and those who like to travel to neat places: Read More >

Made in Canada – What’s the Deal with our Pricing?

February 13, 2020 | Lois Farley

The Great Canadian Travel Group has been in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada since November 21, 1980. It grew to incorporate an office in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada September 1, 2016. All our staff are Canadian and we all love Canada. Our clients span the globe as do our tour suppliers. We love travel and love to help our clients see as much of the world as we can. We are passionate about our jobs. Read More >

Lois’ Best Days Ever!

November 12, 2019 | Lois Farley

Over my many years of travelling, both for work and on vacation, there have been lots of Best Days Ever. But, this is definitely one of the best!

My two daughters and I recently took a trip to Ireland. We started out in Dublin, and had a couple of days in that fun city, where’s there’s so much to see and do. Then, we picked up a rental car and off we went, road warriors! The self-drive trip itself was great, although I admit to being a bit too ambitious in my planning. Trying to fit in everything that all three of us wanted to see was just not possible. We did manage to see a lot of awesome places, though (and even some we didn’t intend to, thanks Google maps!) But, I always say, when you’re on holiday you never get lost, you just take scenic detours. And sometimes those detours work out great. Note to self, just because a road in Ireland looks straight on the map (there are one or two, but that’s probably it) does not mean it’s flat (as our Prairie brains automatically equated it to be). There was one in particular that was a real roller coaster! Read More >

Travel With a Purpose

November 08, 2019 | Lois Farley

Travel With a Purpose is the new trend in travel that is changing the industry and bringing people together. Besides a holiday or a well-deserved rest, when was the last time you traveled and asked yourself why? Why that destination, why that route, why those activities on the road?

Traveling is representative of life. If you listen to your inner voice and follow your heart, you will find the places that speak out to you, that reach out and touch you, and which make you feel like you’re “home”. Find something meaningful to you that can motivate you to book a ticket and take that trip. There are so many ways you can travel with a purpose. The important thing is that it has purpose for YOU. If it’s enjoyable or brings meaning to you, it will be a good motivation to travel. Read More >

Take a Closer Look – Iceland

August 01, 2019 | Lois Farley

Iceland, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace, is the most peaceful country in the world. It is home to just under 350,000 people and is also the most sparsely populated country in Europe. For an island with an area of 103,000 sq. km (40,000 sq. mi), this country has everything from volcanoes to geysers to fields of green moss that takes hundreds of years to grow to majestic waterfalls.

Geologically, Iceland is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This ridge marks the boundary between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. What is especially amazing about this area is that you can scuba dive (or as a day tour) in between these plates to see some fascinating marine life, be in the spot that Iceland was created and, in some places, actually touch both continents at the same time. This rift, called the Silfra rift, has visibility that exceeds 100m, making it the some of the clearest water in the world.

Iceland is a world leader in renewable energy. Almost all electricity in Iceland is produced using renewable energy sources. According to Inspired by Iceland (the country’s tourism website), 90% of Icelandic households are heated with geothermal water. About 73% of electricity is provided by hydro power plants and 26% from geothermal energy, accounting for over 99% of all electricity consumption in Iceland. And although modes of transportation in Iceland still use conventional fuel, there is a growing number of electric vehicles in the country.

Tourism is Iceland’s largest export sector as it accounted for more than 10% of the country’s GDP in 2017. It is among the countries in the world who are most dependent on tourism. Read More >

Out on the Tundra in Churchill

November 06, 2018 | Lois Farley

“Sssshhhh, turn around quietly and look out the window.” Those were the words said in hushed tones by our tour host as we were happily sitting in the lounge car of the Tundra Buggy Lodge™, having a wee drink before dinner. We turned and looked in awe, as right outside the windows, casually strolling by in the tell-tale pigeon-toed gait, was a big, beautiful polar bear. You could hear the intake of breath as we all marvelled at the incredible wonder of nature walking right by us. “That’s a young male, about 3 years old” our guide informed us. His powerful muscles rippled underneath his fur telling us that he is a force of nature, a natural hunter and predator. But the round, black eyes and black nose set in that white face offered all of us that unmistakable sense of “Oh, you look cute enough to cuddle”. A feeling best kept as thought and not action! These are not cute and cuddly toys! Read More >

Sleep Like Royalty in an Irish Castle

March 15, 2018 | Lois Farley

With World Sleep Day and St. Patrick’s Day falling consecutively on Friday, March 16th and Saturday, March 17th, I thought it’d be only fitting to look into the idea of sleeping in an Irish castle. I mean, who hasn’t dreamed of spending at least one night like a prince or princess from a fairy tale?

Ireland offers up a lot of great choices for a castle stay. Here are three choices, but there are many others.

  Ashford Castle, County Mayo
The original castle construction began back in 1228, so some of the castle’s stonework is approaching 800 years of age. The famed Guinness brewing family purchased the castle in the mid-1800’s and put about $75 million into the massive renovation to upgrade the interior. With additional modern renovations the castle now features its historic façade and “bones” along with stunningly restored interiors and a state-of-the-art spa. Not just a place to lay your head, it’s an experience, the chance to live a dream of staying in a genuine castle, but still having all the creature comforts we’ve come to expect.

Dromoland Castle, County Clare
Built in the 16th century, the limestone, medieval castle with its statuesque turret sits on 450 acres of lush green grass and verdant gardens. Since the 10th century Dromoland has been the ancestral home of the O’Briens, Barons of Inchiquin and descendants of Brian Boru High King of Ireland during the 11th century. For the next 900 years a branch of the O’Briens lived and ruled from this castle. Retaining all the grandness of bygone eras the castle has been upgraded to a very comfortable standard, offering everything the modern day, discerning “royalty for a day” is looking for.

  Ballygally Castle, County Antrim
In real estate it’s said that location is everything, and Ballygally Castle has that in spades! This turreted treasure has been standing guard over the spellbinding Causeway Coastal Route since the 17th century. Rumoured to be one of the most haunted buildings on the entire island, Ballygally boasts more than one spectre, including former residents Lady Isobel Shaw and Madame Nixon. If you’re brave enough you can visit the Ghost Room in one of the turrets!

Read about more Irish castles where you can sleep like royalty:
Irish Times, Ireland’s Top 10 Castles to Stay In
Ireland.com, 6 Luxury Castle Stays

Ireland Speaks to Me Like No Other Place on Earth

January 19, 2018 | Lois Farley

My maternal Grandma, Hannah Muirhead, emigrated to Canada from County Antrim, Ireland (now part of Northern Ireland) back in the late 1800’s.  Two of her brothers and a sister had sailed to Canada a few years earlier.  Sadly, her sister died of black fever on the crossing and was buried at sea, but her brothers arrived safely and made their way west to homestead at the Derry Corner, near Douglas, Manitoba. They then invited Hannah to come and join them. I can’t imagine leaving my family and everything that was familiar to me and sailing across the Atlantic to an unknown place, all at the age of 19. The courage to do that seems unimaginable.  Read More >

10 Reasons Why You Still Need a Travel Agent Consultant

September 08, 2017 | Lois Farley

 

In the age of online booking sites, using a travel consultant may feel like going the way of the dinosaur. But, consultants are more useful than simply selling airline tickets, trips to Disney World and cruises. Many consultants provide services or have knowledge that you just can’t get online – and sometimes, especially in times of crisis, working with a real live person is just plain superior. Read More >

Guinness™ Part 3 – Beer and Books

August 09, 2017 | Lois Farley

Being at the Guinness™ brewery in Dublin got me to thinking about the Guinness™ Book of World Records. Was it related to the famous Guinness™ stout I’d learned so much about at the Guinness™ Storehouse?

Read More >

Guinness™ Part 2 – The Storehouse

July 31, 2017 | Lois Farley

When I was in Dublin in March I visited the Guinness™ Storehouse at St. James’s Gate. A seven-story, converted warehouse where you learn all about the Guinness™ story, it is Ireland’s #1 tourist attraction according to TripAdvisor®. The centre court is built in the shape of a monstrous Guinness™ glass, reaching from the ground floor all the way up to the 6th story. They’ll even tell you how many pints of Guinness™ it would take to fill that gigantic glass! Read More >

Guinness™ – it’s a food group!

July 19, 2017 | Lois Farley

OK, well maybe not technically, but ask any true-blooded Irish person and they’ll tell you that “Yes, it makes a nice snack or small meal!”. And why wouldn’t it? It’s made of really good natural food stuff, all locally sourced.

Read More >

Tracing Your Family Tree Just One Reason to Visit Halifax

July 13, 2017 | Lois Farley

Halifax, Nova Scotia is an appealing city with the friendliness of a small town but all the amenities you would expect to find in a modern, urban centre. Its city centre is compact and very walkable with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants, attractions, the harbour-front and loads of accommodation options, all easily accessible. Destination Halifax says this about Halifax – “An urban centre wrapped in seacoast and history – you’ll want to see for yourself!”. I think this is a pretty accurate description!

Read More >

A Bunch of Random Facts About Canada on her Sesquicentennial

June 26, 2017 | Lois Farley

It’s not everyday a lady celebrates her Sesquicentennial.  And it’s not everyday you can find someone who actually a) knows what that means and b) can say it properly!

OK, so what it means is “the 150th anniversary of” and is pronounced “ses kwi sen tenial”.  It comes from “sesqui”, meaning one and a half and “centennial” meaning a hundred. Read More >

Where are the best places on earth to see the Northern Lights?

March 17, 2017 | Lois Farley

There’s a huge amount of information about Northern Lights viewing available online today.  Several different countries claim to provide the best viewing (and I must admit I’m a bit biased in Canada’s favour), and even after you’ve decided on a country, there’s normally a number of different towns within that country, all vying for your attention and your visit.

  

Read More >

Top 10 Tips for Keeping Valuables Safe When Travelling

February 06, 2017 | Lois Farley

When you travel do you take lots of jewellery and other valuables with you?  How do you keep your valuables safe when you’re travelling?  Every hotel tells you to not leave valuables in plain sight in your room and to use the room safe.  But what if the safe isn’t safe?  You can always use the hotel’s safe, which is usually secured inside an office behind the front desk.  Ensure you get a receipt for the items you deposited.  Most hotels are liable for items that go missing from their safe, but not for items in a room safe.

Here are 10 of our top ideas for keeping valuables safe when travelling. Read More >

Entry requirements for Canadian passport holders

January 10, 2017 | Lois Farley

With recent news stories reporting Canadian travellers being denied boarding at airports across the country, it’s important for you to know what the entry requirements for a Canadian passport holder are for the country or countries you plan to visit.  Your professional travel consultant will advise you of passport and visa requirements when you are booking a trip.  But, it’s good to know the general rule regarding passports and their validity.

Let’s say your passport expires the 30 June, 2017.  You would think that you could travel anywhere with this passport right up until that date, right?  Not necessarily.  Many countries require your passport be valid 3 or 6 months beyond your intended stay in that country.  Always double check with your travel consultant as to the requirements for your specific journey, as well as checking for any connecting countries along the way.

You can check out the countries you plan to visit at the Government of Canada travel website at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories

Most countries require 3 months but some require 6 months, such as Nicaragua, which was one of the countries highlighted on a recent news story. However, her neighbour Costa Rica, only requires a 1 month validity beyond your stay.

Other countries may require a visa in addition to your valid passport.  It’s always best to check and double check so you don’t face a nasty surprise at the airport when you’re checking in!

Beautiful Belize

November 21, 2016 | Lois Farley

As a former British colony, the Central American country of Belize has a unique history.  Although having gained independence in 1981, English remains the official language, easing navigation for North American tourists.

The country is known for diving; the Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts over 100 000 tourists each year.  Additional attractions include Mayan ruins, eco adventures such as ziplining and cave tubing, and of course tropical beaches.  The capital, Belize City, is home to museums and cultural events, including the annual Street Art Festival.  Belize is a popular stop for cruise ships, which is how my family came to visit.

Read More >

Arctic Sea Ice Day

July 15, 2016 | Lois Farley

Arctic Sea Ice Day is Friday, July 15th, 2016.

Founded by Polar Bears International, this day was created to draw attention to sea ice loss in the Arctic, why it matters, and how we can help.

Why should we care about sea ice? Here are a few facts from Polar Bears International about this remarkable part of the Arctic ecosystem:

  1. Sea ice is as important to the Arctic ecosystem as soil is to a forest. The food chain begins with algae and other tiny organisms that live on and within the sea ice. Arctic cod feed on them. Seals eat Arctic cod. And polar bears prey on seals.
  2. Polar bears rely on sea ice to efficiently catch their seal prey. The polar bear’s main prey, the ringed seal, relies on sea ice, too—for giving birth to and raising their pups.
  3. Arctic sea ice is important to people living in the North and to our global climate. In fact, the Arctic is sometimes called the earth’s air conditioner because the sea ice helps cool the planet by reflecting some of the sun’s light and heat back into space.
  4. Arctic sea ice is declining in both extent and thickness due to human-caused climate change. Just as a warm summer’s day melts the ice in a glass of water, a warming planet causes Arctic sea ice to melt.
  5. Declines in the amount of sea ice means less heat is reflected away from the earth. Instead, more exposed ocean absorbs additional heat, further warming the planet and disrupting the climate.
  6. Despite year-to-year variation, satellite data show that the September sea ice extent has declined more than 13.4% per decade since the satellite record began in 1979. That’s a loss four times the size of Texas!
  7. Scientists say we have entered a new era with sea ice. Today there is more thinner, seasonal ice in some parts of the Arctic rather than thicker, multi-year ice. This young ice is much more vulnerable to rapid melting.
  8. Without action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the probability of ice-free summers in the Arctic increases significantly from the middle to the end of this century. This will greatly reduce the polar bear’s ability to hunt during the summer months, reduce ice seal abundance, and impact people and wildlife around the world.
  9. It’s not too late to save Arctic sea ice! You can help by asking your government representatives for a fair price on carbon. This will level the playing field for renewable energy and speed up our transition from fossil fuels.
  10. Another sector where we can work together to #saveourseaice is to encourage sustainable food production and consumption and reduced food waste in our communities. Visit Polar Bears International Arctic Sea Ice Day page to learn about the Greenhouse Grocery List Challenge.

 

Is a Small-Ship Expedition Cruise Right for You?

June 27, 2016 | Lois Farley

Say the word “cruise” and, to most people what comes to mind is a large, gleaming ship with 10, 15, 20 decks; thousands of passengers (the current largest cruise ship can accommodate 6,410 passengers at maximum capacity); large and lavish meals six times a day; multiple pool, spas, gyms and sporting activities on-board; Las Vegas-style entertainment.  But, an increasing number of travellers know that, when it comes to soft adventure cruising, bigger isn’t better!

monastra_130810_3143   barry_nelson    Michelle_Valberg _D4S5800 Greenland_Labrador 2013    Michelle_Valberg _D4S5917 Greenland_Labrador 2013     Read More >

How to Choose the Right Hiking Boots

June 02, 2016 | Lois Farley

Not everyone or every hike needs the same kind of hiking boot.  In fact, some hikes don’t even require a boot, just a good walking shoe.

The key is thinking through the type of hike you are planning to do, getting good advice from a reputable store and trying on lots of styles until you find the perfect fit!

         

Read More >

Solo Self-Drive in the Faroe Islands

April 22, 2016 | Lois Farley

The atmosphere onboard our Atlantic Airways flight became more excited as we approached Vagar Airport on the island of Vagar in the Faroe Islands. Most of the people on board were tourists or native Faroese returning home for a visit and we were all looking forward to getting to the islands. We started our descent from the bright, clear-blue skies, through the clouds and into…fog. Thick, enveloping fog that made it impossible to see anything below. The pilot announced that we would try to land but, if the visibility wasn’t good enough, we would go back up and circle around to try again.

Read More >