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Travel tips Archives - Air Canada Vacations

25 Apr

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The Best Greek Islands for Every Type of Traveller

April 25, 2018 | By |

So many islands, so little time!

We found pieces of paradise scattered across the Aegean Sea and we’re here to help you pick the perfect one (or ones! Island hopping, anyone?).  If you’re dreaming of a Greek island vacation, but aren’t sure where to start, keep calm and read on. Here’s our breakdown of our favourite Greek islands for every type of traveller!

Santorini

For Lovers & Sun Seekers: Santorini

If you’re looking up Greek islands, chances are you’ve stumbled on Instagram-worthy images of the island of Santorini, home to one of the most photographed, most spectacular sunsets in the world. If not, picture this: iconic, whitewashed houses overlooking volcanic cliffs, with the sun dipping into the horizon above cerulean waters, painting the sky in sumptuous shades. Shall we go on?

With its sweeping stairways and idyllic hillside villages, there’s no wonder stunning Santorini is a go-to spot for honeymooners and romantic revellers and one of the most popular islands to visit. If you’re not falling in love with the caldera views, then the colourful beaches and historic sites like the Museum of Prehistoric Thera might just seal the deal. Stop in Santorini with this Best of Greece tour!

For Party Animals: Mykonos

ME-470_GreeceImages_March20_Mykonos1_896x531

Oh, mythical Mykonos –the place to party in the Aegean since the 1960s! It’s where your sunset cocktails last till sunrise and stylish hotels spruce up a rugged and rocky landscape. Pose for dramatic pictures next to the island’s traditional windmills in Mykonos Town before jetting off to decadent dance clubs or all-night parties on Paradise Beach.

For less glitz and glam, stroll through Little Venice to take in the charming architecture of buildings built right on the waterfront. Occupying its narrow streets are chic shops where you can stock up on breezy island fashion before your next escapade. Alternately, you can opt to redeem yourself within the bright, white walls of the uniquely shaped Church of Panagia Paraportiani. Hop on the Mykonos and the Aegean tour to move it in Mykonos.

For Peace Pursuers: Patmos

Patmos

Here comes your moment of zen! Named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the gorgeous Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, perched atop the island’s central hill, brings a calming spirituality to Patmos, appropriately nicknamed the ‘Holy Island.’ This is where Saint John imagined the end of the world and hey, it might not be the worst spot to find yourself if it does come.

Start at the Cave of the Apocalypse, a strange sacred site hewn into the rock and guarded by a monk to ensure total tranquility. Of course, once you’ve soaked in the spiritual atmosphere, countless beaches welcome you for some much-needed serene swimming. Find peace in Patmos with the Classical Greece & Cruise option.

For History Buffs: Crete

Crete

Time travel? It exists! Or so it seems when you land on the shores of Crete, the cradle of Minoan civilization about 4,000 years ago.  Admire the remnants of one of the first major European societies at the archeological site of Knossos, the former capital of Minoan Crete. Highlights include the countless courtyards and chambers of the palace and the impressive frescoes colouring the ruins.

If you’re mad for mythology, venture to the alleged birthplace of Zeus, king of all Greek gods. Two caves make that claim, including the mysterious and gorgeous Dikteon Cave near the village of Psyhro and the Ideon Cave, located on Mount Psiloritis, the highest mountain on Crete.

We’d be lying if we said Crete is all about the past. Travellers seeking more modern indulgences can always happily convene on sun-soaked sands for happy hour. Our Island Delights tour allows you to take in the best parts, past and present, of Crete, largest of the Greek islands.

For Hikers & Beach Explorers: Naxos

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More beaches, please! With multitudes flocking to famous Santorini or Mykonos, many overlook the smaller, just-as-picturesque, Greek islands, like heavenly Naxos. The island’s mountainous lands and green valleys create all kinds of natural nooks and crannies for you to discover. Various hiking trails take you through this changing scenery, from the village of Filoti to the peak of Mount Zas. Naxos’ agriculture will please the most ardent foodie’s palate with local produce served up every which way in typical tavernas.

What about the beaches, you ask? We’re getting there! The southwest coast of Naxos is basically one long beach leading you to wilder sandy shores that range from secluded havens like Plaka to windy spots ideal for windsurfing like Mikri Vigla. Discover them all during our Cycladic Discovery tour!

What’s next

Map of Greek Islands

Set your watch to island time! Hot travel tip: Air Canada Vacations offers a variety of island hopping tours to take you from Athens to every island we’ve mentioned here and more. These usually last between 10 and 14 days to give you plenty of time to discover Greece’s capital, as well as several of the best Greek islands.  All of these tours stop in the two must-see islands, Mykonos and Santorini, and take place between May and October.

Plan your tour of Greek islands now!

16 Mar

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Sun, Sand & Solo Travel

March 16, 2018 | By |

It may take two to tango, but solo is the way to go! You might usually picture honeymooning couples and smiling families jetting off on dreamy all-inclusive vacations, but the tides are turning in favour of solo vacationers looking for sunny escapes of their own making. Aside from being the only star in your envy-inducing beach pictures, here’s what we love about going solo in the sun.

Beach? Pool? Wherever!

Forget lengthy arguments about where you should spend the day– you’re the boss of this vacay. Whether you prefer lounging by the pool or catching waves on the beach, your main dilemma will be choosing which book or magazine to bring with you. The best part? No one will be checking their watch and taking you away from your towel to eat or sleep. This trip’s ticking away on your time!

We love the ocean-front option at Dreams Delight Playa Bonita Panama, a great pick for a singles vacation. Surrounded by lush greenery, its idyllic beach even welcomes baby sea turtles from July to December, so you might not always be totally solo! Of course, they also have a gorgeous infinity pool if that’s more your vibe.

Choose your own adventure

Although we’re just fine with lying about in the sun all day, one of the joys of solo travel is being able to get up and go when you choose to. Many all-inclusive resorts offer tons of activities to keep you busy from sun-up to sun-down.

At Secrets Aura Cozumel in Mexico, you can discover the wonders waiting for you under the sea. The resort houses a fully-equipped dive centre where professionals teach you the essentials before you dive off their private pier. With the second largest barrier reef in the world located near Cozumel’s shores, you’re bound to spot colourful coral and unique marine life. If you’re more comfortable on land, the resort can help you plan trips to nearby attractions – from Chichen Itza to Tulum!

Pamper yourself!

Sometimes, a solo trip is the best way to completely unwind. It pulls you away from your day-to-day and lets you focus on you. Why not take this time to really treat yourself?  We’re thinking total spa treatment in a tropical location. Yes, please!

From seaweed wraps to Swedish massages, the Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa in Dominican Republic knows how to pamper you. You can pick from spa packages that include facials, full-body treatments and so much more.  The serene setting and complimentary fresh juices will keep bringing you back until you need to fly home, completely rejuvenated.

What’s next

If you’ve set your sights on a solo vacation, make sure to keep an eye out for all-inclusive resorts that don’t charge a single supplement. What’s a single supplement, you ask? It’s a fee charged by many hotels to solo travellers booking a room alone. The resorts mentioned here usually waive this fee for travel between August and December, but make sure to double-check before you book!

Go your own way! 

24 Mar

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Where to stay in Barbados

March 24, 2017 | By |

Barbados offers accommodations for all tastes, from family-friendly hotels to fun all-inclusive resorts to secluded luxury retreats. Check out our top 3 hotel recommendations.

Accra Beach Hotel & Spa
A perfect choice for families, Accra Beach Hotel & Spa features an adults-only pool and kids’ pool, an ideal beachfront location and the only Polynesian restaurant on the island. With a mile-long boardwalk and a relaxing spa, guests of all ages will find what they are looking for and much more.

Colony Club by Elegant Hotels
This luxurious retreat on the island’s west coast offers gourmet dining, motorized and non-motorized water sports and spacious, comfortable accommodations. A great spot for guests looking to disconnect and reconnect with the incredible natural environment of Barbados.

Sandals Barbados
This all-new Luxury Included® adults-only resort is only 15 minutes from the airport and is situated in the lively St. Lawrence Gap area, with great shopping and nightlife. The resort offers three unique villages, gourmet cuisine and an excellent beach and zero-entry pool. It’s the perfect spot for romance, fun and relaxation.

17 Feb

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4 Tips for Planning the Ultimate Group Vacation

February 17, 2015 | By |

Nothing beats a holiday with your friends and family. Affordable, easy to organize, and memorable – group travel can be all these things with a bit of smart planning. Don’t believe us? Check out these 4 expert tips for making your next group vacation a reality!

1. Involve everyone in the planning process

You’ve proposed an awesome group vacation to your best mates, now what? It’s time to make some important decisions and remember, everyone’s opinion counts. Obviously, you’ll need to agree on the travel dates and destination. A truly successful group trip, though, will balance the interests of each traveller. Start by asking everyone to describe their ideal getaway and note down common traits. If you’re all beach bums wanting to stay at a top-rated resort, great! If there are strong differences, try to reach a compromise. In the end, make decisions as a team and everyone will be a happy camper.

Group travel

2. Discuss a budget

Money can be a sensitive issue, but it’s important to know how much everyone is willing to spend upfront. This will help narrow down the hotel choices, dining options and possible trip activities. It will also help avoid any unexpected surprises later on. Case in point: you don’t want to suggest a spur-of-the-moment scuba diving trip only to find out that no one can afford it. Or worse, you don’t want to be the one who’s sneaking glances at their wallet. Set a budget and minimize the awkwardness.

3. Take advantage of group deals

There are tons of benefits to travelling with your buds and we’re not just talking about taking poolside photos together. We’re talking about serious savings to be had. Do the research correctly and you’ll be able to score free flights, free rooms and free upgrades. Book by a certain date and you’ll find yourself rewarded with a discount. Just be sure to pay attention to what qualifies as a group. Usually, the magic number for perks to be applicable is 10 passengers, and this can include kids. We know what you’re thinking: “the more the merrier” has never rung so true.

4. Outline a trip itinerary

Once your group has chosen the must-dos and must-haves (Tip 1) within the set budget (Tip 2), it’s best to draft a potential itinerary. This especially helps if you foresee an action-packed trip or if you need to accommodate different interests. Keep in mind, you don’t have to spend every minute of every day together. Feel free to split into smaller groups or even venture off independently. You want to return home with wonderful memories, not the regret that you didn’t get to cycle along the coast because of poor planning.

Vacation activities

Need more help in planning your perfect group getaway? Don’t hesitate to contact our team of Group experts.

10 Feb

By

5 Tips for Planning the Perfect Romantic Getaway

February 10, 2015 | By |

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, why not surprise your other half with a vacation, something that will allow you to truly connect and rekindle the romance in your relationship? Not a bad idea, right? However, it’s not always easy to plan a vacation that meets both of your romantic needs. That’s why we’ve made a list of the 5 key ingredients that make for the perfect romantic getaway.

1) Head somewhere sunny

Sunny Vacation

As you are probably aware, Canadian winters can feel particularly long. The best tip we can give you is to escape the cold, snowy weather and head somewhere sunny with your partner. Some of the best sunny destinations are in Mexico and the Caribbean due to their postcard-perfect landscapes –turquoise water and white sand beaches– and the fact that you’ll leave with a sun-kissed glow. What can we say, love is even brighter in the sun.

2) Stay at an adults-only hotel

Adults-only vacation

For a romantic retreat, there’s nothing better than being in a kid-free environment (as much as we appreciate their high energy). To do this, choose an adults-only hotel, so that you can enjoy a relaxing vacation at your own pace. Imagine sitting poolside, without any major noise or distractions, or having just the intimate setting you need to lounge side by side with your partner by the sea.

3) Choose a hotel with a spa

Spa Vacation

For couples-only vacations, one of the sweetest things is to go to a hotel with a spa. Book a massage for two to unwind and take advantage of a special moment with your special someone. Several resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean also offer massages on the beach, as well as thermal baths. Let a professional take care of you and your loved one, while you experience a sensorial journey. It’s the best way to awaken your senses and leave the excess baggage you may have brought with you behind!

4) Opt for luxury services

Luxury Vacation

Is there nothing too good for your sweetheart? Try a luxury vacation, frills and all. When was the last time you treated yourselves to a lavish retreat, anyway? Take some time to spoil yourselves. In sun destinations, there is no shortage of luxury hotels that offer personalized service. Dive head first into a world where hotel staff will be at your service to meet any of your needs. To fully maximize each moment of your luxurious romantic getaway, opt for a room with direct pool access, butler service, a hot tub and room service.

5) Treat yourself to a romantic dinner for two

Romantic dinner for two

Hedonism is an integral part of a romantic getaway, and what better way to seek pleasure than to wine and dine with your honey? No romantic escape would be complete without the quintessential dinner for two. Make sure to choose a hotel with restaurants that your partner will enjoy – most all-inclusives in Mexico and the Caribbean offer a variety of à la carte restaurants that range from French fare to classic Italian. You'll also want to make reservations in advance. To up the ante, dine al fresco on a terrace at sunset. There’s a reason why they say food is the key to the heart…

 

To plan your perfect romantic getaway, start browsing our destinations and hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean today. And one last piece of advice: Valentine’s Day may seem like the ideal occasion for a couples-only getaway, but really you can plan this kind of vacation any day 😉

27 Oct

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How to Get the Christmas or New Year’s Vacation You Want

October 27, 2014 | By |

Seeking refuge in the hot Caribbean or Mexican sun this holiday season? If you’re thinking of trading in your winter boots to celebrate the holidays in your bathing suit, better get a head start and plan smart. Here’s how to get exactly the vacation you want, at the price you want, and ensure your travel goes as smoothly as possible:

Book early to get your destination and resort of choice

The period between mid-December to early January is a peak travel period, which means vacation packages during this time sell out very quickly. If you want to get the best choice of destinations, as well as resorts (including those with Privileges – things like preferred room location, free Wi-Fi and guaranteed à la carte reservations), you’ll want to get on that fast.

Book early to save

There is a misconception that the longer you wait to book your travel, the better a discount you will get. Truth is, if you wait until the last minute, not only might you not get what you want, but you’ll miss out on very appealing deals like these. There’s a reason why they say the early bird catches the worm…

Be extra sure you’ve gotten the absolute best price

Air Canada Vacations offers a Best Price Guarantee on all our destinations. That means that if you book a package with us and you find a lower price elsewhere within 24 hours of your initial reservation, we'll refund you the difference, up to $400 per booking.

Save time at the airport by checking in online

Winter weather is sometimes unpredictable. If driving conditions are less than ideal on your departure date, this may mean more time in getting to the airport. If you do not plan to check a bag and want to save time at the airport, then check into your flight online. You can check in as early as 24 hours before your flight and can either print your boarding pass at home, print it at a self-service check-in kiosk at the airport, or opt to receive an electronic boarding pass.

Ready to start planning your holiday travel? Get the vacation you want now!

 

02 Jul

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Jamaican Slang You Should Know Before Travelling

July 2, 2014 | By |

Before visiting a destination where the people speak a language different from your native tongue, it is a good idea to learn a few words and phrases from the language that they speak. Doing this can help you navigate, do simple tasks like ordering food or thanking a person. It is also a common courtesy to the people you are interacting with. You might not be able to speak their language fluently, but that small amount of effort and being polite could really help you out and go a long way in regards to them being willing to help you out in return.

The official language of Jamaica is English and you should be able to travel throughout the country without having any problems communicating. However, if you really want to impress and get to know the locals, then it might be a good idea to learn a bit of their other language known as Jamaican Patois.

What to know about Patois

Patois (pronounced like Patwah), is known by linguists as Jamaican Creole. It is mainly based on the English language with different uses of grammar, mixed with various African languages, native words and even a bit of Irish English.

Jamaican Patois is more often spoken than written and one of the hardest parts about learning the language is that it isn’t legally recognized. Because of that, the language isn’t standardized either. This means that there are many variations of different sayings and many variations as to how things are spelled as well, with no one way being wrong.

Key phrases travellers to Jamaica should know

Often times you will find that the Patois word compared to the English word is an altered direct translation like “Thank You” being “Tank yuh”. Other times the Patios version might be more of an explanation of what you are trying to say in English. An example of this is “Goodbye” being “Walk good” which is like saying, “take care” or “travel safe”. If you think about it too much it might be harder for you to learn. This is the type of language that just kind of flows out of your mouth.

To begin, here are a few Jamaican slang expressions you should know before travelling. Some of these are very basic words that you would want to know or at least get an understanding of before visiting Jamaica.

Hello = “Yes sah” or a more casual greeting would be “whaa gwaan” which is the equivalent to “What’s up?”. There are numerous variations for greeting someone, which also include: “Whap’am” and “How yuh stay?” which means “How are you?”.

An appropriate response to one of these greetings might be “irie” which means “alright” or “fine”.

Good Bye = “Walk Good” or “lata”

Thank You = “Tank yuh”

Yes = “Yah man”

No = “Nuh” or “No sah”

Drink = “drinkz”

Water = “watta”

Eat = “nyam”

How much is this? = “Ow much is dis?”

Examples of more advanced expressions for the adventurous linguists

If you think you have an ear for languages and you want to be able to communicate a bit more with the locals, then these few expressions and phrases might help you out.

Perhaps you are looking for directions?

Show me where this is located = “Mek I know weh dis deh”

Where is the bus stop? = “Weh di bus tap deh?”

Or maybe you want to make some small talk?

Who sings this song? = “A who sing da sang ya?”

Where is the party? – “Wich paaat di paaty deh?”

What are you doing? = “Wha yuh a do?”

Tips for meeting the locals and practicing the language

Now that you have a handle on the lingo, it is time to meet some locals, try out what you have learned and perhaps learn more from first-hand conversations. Jamaica Local Rastafarian

If you are staying at a resort during your vacation, the best place to start is at the bar. Pick a time of day where the hotel bar is not overwhelmed, take a seat at the bar, grab a drink and strike up a conversation with the bartender, preferably a local. Hotels are all about customer service and most bartenders love to chat, so this is the best way to test out your new skills without going too far outside your comfort zone.

If you feel more comfortable like you have a handle on things, ask the bartender, the concierge or your tour guide where they would suggest you can go to hang out with some locals. Hopefully they will recommend a great local watering hole where you can not only strike up a conversation with some real locals, but you might also get the chance to try some great local fare.

A few key phrases to know for customer service interactions

Aside from common pleasantries and small talk, it is also a good idea to figure out a few phrases of Patois that relate to customer service. From shopping at a market, to getting service at a restaurant or bar, here are some prime examples.

How much is this? = “Ow much is dis?”

What is that? = “A wah dat?”

Can I have… = “Cyan I ave…”

Can I order? = “Cyan I orda?”

What is the best? = “Wah is di bess?”

I like this. = “Mi like dis.”

Funny expressions

Learning a new language can be a fun experience and is a great way to expand your mind. As with learning any language, it is always fun to not only learn the most common words to help you get by, but also to learn a few funny words and phrases as well. Here are a few you might enjoy.

“Blabba mout” = Someone who talks too much.

“De olda de moon, de brigher it shines” = The older a person is, the wiser.

“Wanti wanti can’t get it, getti getti no want it.” = The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

These few words and phrases should get you started talking like a Jamaican local or at least help you attempt to communicate with them. Don’t forget that being polite, saying “please” and “thank you” can really go a long way. Hopefully they will inspire you to learn more and feel more comfortable speaking with the locals.

Remember that English is the native language of Jamaica, so you don’t need to learn Jamaican Patois to travel there. These suggestions are just for fun and they might help you understand some of the reggae music that you are sure to hear.

 

References:

www.ackee.com

www.speakJamaican.com

www.talk8tive.com

http://jamaicanize.com/translate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica#Language

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaican_Patois

http://www.reference.com/motif/reference/how-do-you-say-hi-in-patois

http://jamaicanpatwah.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klvvBLqvecg

http://shoery.com

http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Travel-g147309-s604/Jamaica:Caribbean:Important.Phrases.html

http://www.visitjamaica.com/feel-the-vibe/patois/a-few-good-words-to-know

http://growingupjamaican.com/jamaican-english-phrases/

03 Jun

By

6 Slices of Heaven: Jamaica for the First Time Traveller

June 3, 2014 | By |

Jamaica’s vibrant culture, magnificent beaches, thriving reefs and jungles, and bustling cities make this island the perfect destination for anyone who needs to get away, relax, and live it up for a while. This Caribbean island is well known for being a stopping place for many cruises and honeymooners, so resorts, water sports, and other services catering to tourists are in abundance. Why does Jamaica have so much appeal to Canadians? Perhaps it’s the mouthwatering Caribbean cuisine. It could be the natural beauty of the island. Or that Jamaican culture varies so widely from the cultures of other countries Canadians might have visited, such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, or Mexico. If this is your first time travelling to Jamaica, choose the part of the island which best suits your needs and consider your options for what you definitely don’t want to miss and the many possibilities you haven’t thought about yet as you determine what to do in Jamaica.

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18 Nov

By

Tips to stay connected while you’re away!

November 18, 2013 | By |

Travelling in the digital age is an amazing thing, but before you pack those charger cables, here are some crucial tips you need to know.

Buy an international plan before you go

Most travellers make the mistake of calling their providers at destination, usually after receiving an urgent message from accounts! When buying a plan, be realistic about how much data, calling and text messaging you expect to do. Find out if your plan offers preferential roaming rates and/or if the plan includes a limited amount of data and airtime. Also, don’t forget to ask about charges if you go over the limit.

Shut off data roaming

Even if you have purchased an international plan, turn off your data roaming when possible — or even better, switch into airplane mode when you’re not using the device. In doing so, you are reducing the risk of accidentally incurring additional charges. This means getting to know the settings of your device before you leave!

Turn off notifications and alerts

Although you may love the alerts that pop up on your screen, letting you know that an email has come in or that you’ve been retweeted, every alert represents a data transfer. And that could mean extra charges. Perhaps use airport waiting  time to deactivate those alerts!

Regularly check usage to make sure that you’re not going over

If you’ve purchased a plan, it’s crucial to track your data transfers, text messages and phone calls while on your trip. The easiest way? Log in to your profile on the website of your service provider and check your numbers on a regular basis. That way, if you need more, you can contact your provider for an additional package.

Use WiFito make calls and send texts

In addition to Skype and Facetime, there are a number of other apps that will let you make phone calls and send texts — free of charge or for a nominal fee — over an Internet connection. This will not only save you money, but it’s also a worry- free way to stay in touch with loved ones.

01 May

By

Cuba, from tip to tip

May 1, 2013 | By |

From tip to tip, every part of this great island offers a unique mix of history, music, art, passion and beauty – as unique and warm as the sun in the sky.

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