Meet Our Experts


Pearl McCallum, CTC, CTM | General Manager

Who is Pearl:

Pearl McCallum joined the travel industry in 1998 with a passion to discover new places and experiences, and to help others do the same.  Her travels have taken her to five continents, at times via cruise ships.  While embracing adventures such as zip-lining in the Mexican jungle, Pearl also appreciates the serenity of moonlight walks on the beach.  Favourite destinations include Southeast Asia, the Netherlands, and for winter getaways, the Mayan Riviera.  Her conclusion about the best way to travel?  With family and friends.  “Sharing experiences means enjoying them 100% more.”

What are Pearl’s TOP 5 travel experiences:

  • Climbing to the top of El Castillo at Chichen Itza in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula
  • Enjoying a glass of wine and watching the sun set over Mazatlan as the ship sailed away to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”
  • Linking arms in a crowd of strangers to sing English songs at the Nuremberg Christmas market
  • Flying Vancouver to Hong Kong in the bubble of a Cathay Pacific 747
  • Hiking across Kilauea crater in Hawaii

What is Pearl’s closing comment?
A ship in harbour is safe, but ships are not built to stay in harbour. Go and experience the adventure of the world around you!

New from Pearl McCallum, CTC, CTM

Canada’s East Coast: Full of Rich History

April 24, 2023 | Pearl McCallum


The history of Newfoundland and Canada’s East Coast is a fascinating and complex topic, with a rich and diverse cultural heritage that spans thousands of years.


The Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada, is the only confirmed Viking site in North America, discovered in 1960 by a Norwegian explorer named Helge Ingstad and his archaeologist wife, Anne Stine Ingstad. The site was occupied by Viking explorers for a short period around the year 1000 AD, and it is believed that they used the location as a base for exploring further into North America. The Vikings likely interacted with the Indigenous people of the region, as evidenced by the presence of butternuts, a native North American plant, at the site. The Vikings at L’Anse aux Meadows engaged in various activities such as boat repair, metalworking, and hunting, and evidence of these activities has been found at the site. The settlement was abandoned after only a few years, for reasons that are still unclear to historians and archaeologists.

It’s also very important to remember that the East Coast of Canada has been inhabited by Indigenous peoples for over 10,000 years. These include the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Innu, and Inuit peoples, among others, who play an important role in the cultural, social, and economic fabric of Canada’s East Coast. Many communities are actively working to reclaim their traditional languages, practices, and knowledge, and to promote greater awareness and understanding of their rich and diverse cultural heritage. The Town of Port au Choix is home to Port au Choix National Historic Site, where preserves and interprets four archaeological sites dating back over 3,500 years, including Maritime Archaic burial grounds (one of the largest hunter-gatherer burial sites in North America), Dorset Palaeoeskimo campsites, and Groswater Palaeoeskimo settlements.

The site also features a visitor center with exhibits and displays about the history and culture of the people who lived in the area over the centuries, as well as guided tours of the archaeological sites. Visitors can see artifacts such as tools, weapons, and pottery that were used by these early inhabitants, and learn about their daily lives and customs.


The arrival of European explorers and colonizers in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, most notably the Portuguese and later the French and British, forever altered the region’s history. The first recorded European contact with Newfoundland was by the Portuguese explorer João Fernandes Lavrador in 1498, while John Cabot famously claimed the land for England in 1497.

Throughout the following centuries, Newfoundland became an important hub for the fishing industry, with its cod stocks drawing fishermen from across Europe and beyond. The region was also at the center of many conflicts between the French and British, with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 finally ceding control of Newfoundland to the British.


In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the region experienced a significant economic boom thanks to the growth of industries such as mining, forestry, and shipbuilding. However, the collapse of the cod fishery in the late 20th century brought about a period of economic hardship and social upheaval, leading to significant changes in the region’s economy and culture.

Another important chapter in the history of Newfoundland and Canada’s East Coast is the role it played in both World Wars. During World War I, the region was an important base for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, with thousands of soldiers training in the harsh conditions of the Newfoundland wilderness before being sent overseas. In World War II, the East Coast of Canada became a crucial hub for the transportation of troops and supplies to Europe, with Halifax serving as a major naval base and convoy assembly point.


Today, Newfoundland and Canada’s East Coast continue to be known for their rugged natural beauty, unique cultural heritage, and incredibly rich history. From the vibrant cities of Halifax and St. John’s to the remote fishing communities that dot the coastline, this region offers visitors a glimpse into a world that is both ancient and modern, rugged and welcoming, and full of surprises at every turn. If you’re considering a visit to any of the amazing regions in this part of Canada, we would love to help you get there! We’re sure you won’t regret it.

Let’s Get Real!

March 14, 2023 | Pearl McCallum

We want to paint a picture for you.


Imagine you’re at a gathering with friends and acquaintances. It’s a fairly large group, let’s say around 15-20 people. Just as you begin to get hungry, someone brings out a large, layered cake. It’s smothered in rich, chocolate buttercream frosting – multiple ooh’s and ahh’s are uttered around the room! But, someone points out a big problem; the venue only has 2 forks, a few plates and no knife to cut the cake with. This cake is absolutely big enough to feed all of these hungry party-goers, but what good is that without the supplies needed to appropriately dispense this delicious dessert to everyone who wants it? 


If you haven’t already caught on, we’re not really talking about cake – although that does sound good right now, doesn’t it?


 It is widely known that the travel industry has been hugely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering more than most other sectors. The pandemic has forced airlines, hotels, and travel agencies to drastically reduce their services and lay off employees. As a result, the travel industry has suffered a significant financial and labour loss and is still dealing with significant hardships. Meanwhile, global tourism in 2023 is expected to reach approximately 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the tourism recovery outlook issued by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. While this is great news, it doesn’t mean it’s an easy journey getting there – and this is where our analogy with the large cake and finite number of utensils comes in. 


You have likely already experienced this yourself if you’ve travelled in the past year. “We’re seeing flights being cancelled because they’ve only filled about 50% of the seats onboard, and then merging those tickets with other flights with similar low occupancy” says Shauna Cook, one of our Travel Consultants, who specializes in travel to northern Canadian destinations, such as Churchill, MB and Scandinavian countries. “In some cases, my clients have been waiting over an hour to retrieve their baggage, which is understandable when airports and airlines are still dealing with staffing issues, but it can be incredibly frustrating for all travellers.” 


The aviation field is heavily regulated. Commercial planes must follow the guidelines of the Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP) established by the Transport Canada Civil Aviation Directorate (TCCA). This program requires that aircrafts complete inspections, commonly referred to as “checks,” regularly to ensure compliance. Because of these regulations and a lack of people to oversee these jobs, there is a significant backlog of planes still needing to be certified before they hit the air. All of these components make for limited and often more expensive fares.


And it’s not just the airline industry reeling from the uptick in demand and low staffing levels. Many hotels have been forced to cut back on their housekeeping services, some hotel restaurants have shortened business hours and limited menus, and in many cases the quality of service may be compromised because employees are working longer hours or taking on additional responsibilities beyond what they would have done before the pandemic. Currently, there are roughly one-third less travel agents globally than there were in 2019.


As a business, we have always valued openness and honesty. We’re thankful and thrilled to be receiving so much business – but the reality is we’re struggling to keep up with the workload. You may have seen the disclaimer on the homepage of our website: 

”Due to overwhelming demand, our travel agency is unable to process requests as usual. We are doing our best to accommodate everyone, but the volume of requests is simply too high for us to keep up with.”  


Globally, the number of travel agents has decreased by approximately one-third compared to 2019, but the good news is that it’s all uphill from here. Using a travel agency in a post (are we saying that yet?) pandemic world can have several benefits, including access to up-to-date information on travel restrictions and safety protocols, assistance with rebooking or cancelling trips if necessary, personalized travel planning and recommendations, and potentially better deals and discounts. Travel agents can also provide peace of mind and save time by handling all the details and logistics of a trip, allowing travelers to focus on enjoying their vacation. Starting a career in the travel industry is a lucrative opportunity, and this is common knowledge. 


Please be patient with us as we put in extra effort to ensure our valued customers reach their desired destinations. Let’s work together and make this industry thrive again – so everyone who wants a piece of cake, gets one!

Returning to Travel

January 04, 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; but the idea of learning about and perhaps experiencing the world outweighed the drawbacks.  I was enchanted by the excitement of discovering exotic destinations, tasting different foods, and experiencing traditions unlike my own.

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Travel Insurance Covid-19 Coverage

December 07, 2020 | Pearl McCallum

Many of us are eager to begin exploring the world once again, but may be hesitant because of uncertainties surrounding travel these days. The most frequent question asked by our clients is, “What happens if the unexpected happens?” Fortunately, Great Canadian Travel has the answer!  Our two insurance partners offer coverage that ensures you receive the care needed in case of illness, even Covid-19, while travelling.

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Travel Brings People Together

April 29, 2020 | Pearl McCallum

As the world continues to follow physical distancing and shelter in place orders and travel remains largely “on pause,” we are reminded of how important it is to connect with one another. Now, more than ever, it’s necessary to help each other overcome isolation through inspiration.

This awesome video from Ensemble, a consortium our agency is a member of, highlights the intrinsic value of travelling and using us, your travel consultants and advisors, to connect to our amazing world.

Travel truly does bring people together. We will travel again! But, in the meantime, we hope you enjoy this short video and that it inspires you to keep dreaming and keep planning your future trips. We’re sure there are lots of Best Days Ever! ahead for us all.

Pearl’s Best Days Ever!

November 10, 2019 | Pearl McCallum

What comes to mind when you think of your Best Day Ever?  Achieving a lifelong goal?  Your wedding, or the birth of your children?  A once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity?

When it comes to travel, my list of best days ever includes my honeymoon.  Following a fabulous wedding with family and friends, my new husband and I flew off to spend a week at the romantic El Dorado Resort on stunning Maroma Beach.  This charming property caters to couples and was the perfect getaway for us after a busy time.  The best way to unwind?  A couple’s massage in a palapa on the beach, where the sound of the water heightens the sense of relaxation.


A favourite activity for us was enjoying the gourmet offerings at the resort.  From an outdoor feast of freshly-prepared paella to the delightful variety of international cuisine, there was no end to the culinary delights.  A highlight and our best evening ever included a private candlelight dinner on the beach.

A vacation on the Mayan Riviera offers a dizzying array of activities, from nature parks to ATV adventures; camel rides to shopping.  We chose to tour the magnificent Tulum ruins, perched atop a cliff on the Caribbean Sea.  Our guide wisely planned a morning visit to beat the full heat of the day, but we were still grateful our time ended with a refreshing dip in the cool waters of a cenote.

The Mayan Riviera, and specifically the El Dorado Maroma, holds a special place in my heart where I have spent some of my best days ever.

Museums of Glasgow

July 17, 2018 | Pearl McCallum

When considering a sophisticated, urbane destination, Glasgow does not immediately spring to mind.  The city’s rough-and-ready reputation has followed it through time, due partly to an industrial history of railways and shipbuilding.  Glasgow has sometimes been unfavourably compared to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, with its castle and cobbled wynds.  However, the Dear Green Place is surprisingly rich in culture.  Besides its magnificent 12th century cathedral and world-class School of Art, Glasgow boasts a myriad of museums. Read More >

Beyond Amsterdam – to Arnherm

February 20, 2018 | Pearl McCallum

windmills in the NetherlandsTravel to The Netherlands is always a treat for me, combining the fun of exploring more new places with an opportunity to visit friends in the northeast province of Drenthe.  My recent visit was no exception; this time we spent a day exploring the Open-Air Museum in Arnhem.  World War 2 history buffs will recognize the city’s name from a major battle, the largest airborne operation ever.  In September 1944 the Allied Forces failed in an attempt to break through German lines in and around the city.  The battle is chronicled in Cornelius Ryan’s A Bridge too FarRead More >

Five Things Travel Has Taught Me

December 04, 2017 | Pearl McCallum

I have been in the travel industry for many years and have travelled to many different places. And in all these years and all the different places, I have learned quite a lot. Here is my top five things that I have learned while travelling: Read More >

It’s a Small World, After All

November 23, 2017 | Pearl McCallum

Vietnam is a wonderfully diverse country offering experiences that are found nowhere else. Its storied history has resulted in a unique blend of language, tradition, even religion. My friends and I began our adventure in Ho Chi Minh City, with its bustling markets, underground maze of tunnels, and ever-present traffic. Our Canadian eyes were opened to an entirely unfamiliar way of life, and of course that is the reason we travel in the first place. Delicious pho is found at too many restaurants to count, and for those so inclined there is a high end shopping district. Read More >

Sandos Playacar All-Inclusive

November 09, 2017 | Pearl McCallum


Travelling during a destination’s off season has both benefits and drawbacks; prices are lower and attractions less crowded, but there can be risk of being swept away by a hurricane. We were fortunate that this year’s major storms missed us on the Yucatan Peninsula, although we did have three days of quite heavy rain.

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Nice, France in Two Days

September 22, 2017 | Pearl McCallum


Edmonton to France is a long way to go for two days, but fortunately KLM is lovely so the flights were actually a great part of the trip. The connection in Amsterdam was about five hours outbound, six hours on the return; long enough to run into the city. However, Amsterdam’s airport, Schipol, is almost a destination unto itself, offering many shops and restaurants to fill time between flights. Better yet, plan a stopover to spend some time enjoying the many highlights of Amsterdam. Read More >

To River Cruise, or Not To River Cruise…

September 14, 2017 | Pearl McCallum

The relaxed pace of river cruising is one of the major benefits of this type of travel. Picture yourself enjoying a European coffee while sailing serenely down a scenic river. As you are travelling with only 100 – 200 other guests, you may experience the comforts of a luxurious ship without feeling crowded. Take in the view from the outdoor sun deck, the comfortable lounge, or perhaps even your own stateroom’s panoramic window or balcony. Staterooms are well designed to maximize space. Motion discomfort is rarely an issue, as the ship’s movement is extremely smooth. Read More >