Travel During Hurricane Season; A Few Things to Consider

Travel during hurricane season is statistically, uneventful for most travellers. That being said, considering what we just witnessed in the Caribbean with Irma, Katia and Jose all wreaking havoc at the same time, there is no better time than the present to get everyone up to speed on what it means when you travel during hurricane season.

travel during hurricane season

We are witnessing climate change at an unprecedented rate; sadly this means hurricanes and super storms will become more and more prevalent. Side bar: If you are a climate change denier, please exit stage left. You don’t need any of this information. If you are horrified by what we just witnessed in the Caribbean, take a minute to listen to Waking Up With Sam Harris – What You Need To Know About Climate Change.  I promise you will immediately start to question how much damage you’re doing to the earth. 

Back to the topic at hand; hurricane season. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30th, which means unless you plan to limit travel from December to May, you need to be informed.

The most active month for hurricanes is September. With Harvey near the end of August, and Irma, Jose, and Katia in September of 2017, I think we can all agree with that one. Statistically speaking if you’re going to travel during hurricane season you’re best to book in June, July, and November. These are the three months with the lowest number of hurricanes. 

Typically, we don’t really hear about hurricanes in the media until they have developed into a major storm. It’s up to you to know if there is a potential for one while you travel. To keep an eye on active systems visit the National Hurricane Center website to see all active tropical depressions, storms, and hurricanes before you go. A lot of people are completely blindsided by a hurricane, when really a quick peek will give you a pretty good indication if it’s something you need to worry about on your holiday.

travel during hurricane season

The odds of being in a destination when a hurricane strikes are pretty low but there are things you can do to protect yourself prior to going and if you happen to get caught in the middle of one.

Protecting Yourself Before You Travel During Hurricane Season

The best thing you can do to protect yourself, whenever you travel is to purchase travel insurance. Make sure you have trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance; don’t skim over the fine print either. Best bet is make sure you have trip cancellation insurance that allows you to cancel for any reason prior to your trip, not just if your carrier cancels. Trip interruption insurance can help you if you lose a few days out of your one week holiday due to unforeseen circumstances. 

If you’re trying to get updates from your travel provider before you travel, be patient. Hurricane Irma was totally unprecedented, and while carriers were frantically trying to protect their passengers in destination, lines were being clogged up with people not in harm’s way. Follow your carrier’s social media accounts and website for the latest updates, and check your flight status before you leave the house. 

Before you travel, and this is actually just smart to do before you travel anywhere, is to write the number of the Canadian Consulate for the country you’re travelling to on a piece of paper.  Be sure to include any other pertinent information you may need: insurers, physicians, and family members. Keep this documentation in a waterproof bag, in your room safe, so that you have access to it should your phone battery die. 

When booking your trip, be sure to read the hurricane policy of your travel provider before you fly. Most charter airlines and regular airlines will have a hurricane policy listed on their site. 

Protecting Yourself When In Destination 

Always travel with a basic first-aid kit (not just during hurricane season) and keep it together with all your medications so you can grab it quickly if you need to. I would also recommend you pack a small waterproof backpack should you need to evacuate and can not bring your luggage with you. You’ll need to have something to carry the essentials. A small portable flashlight is always a good idea too.

Keep your devices charged & battery back ups charged. Don’t drain your battery playing Candy Crush; you’ll want as much battery life as you can save should power be cut off.  Make sure you also have  Ziploc or waterproof bags on hand to keep your important documents dry. Always travel with some cash, should ATMs go down as well. 

Listen to what local authorities are telling you and take shelter where they indicate and always stay away from windows.

Somewhere around 76% of all deaths in a hurricane are from the storm surge that follows, not from the wind, so stay away from the water and get above sea level as much as possible. 

Travel during hurricane season

A lot of deaths due to a hurricane happen after the hurricane has blown through and people venture outside to get a look. Remember that power lines will be down, buildings will be shaky, and there will be a lot of debris creating potential hazards. Shelter in place until you are given the all clear by local authorities.

If you just want to avoid hurricanes altogether, remember your ABC’s – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, are all below the hurricane belt, so they rarely experience hurricanes and storms. Aruba, only receives about 18 inches of rain over the whole year.

Finally, if you’ve ever basked in the glow of a perfect Caribbean vacation, remember that a lot of the people in those countries are hurting right now. Take the time to make a donation to the Red Cross and to the David Suzuki Foundation and World Wildlife Fund.  

 

 

 

 

 

 




Planning Your First Trip to Amsterdam? The iAmsterdam Card is the Way to Go

I am often amused by how my expectation of a place I intend to visit and the reality once I get there are often in stark opposition to each other. Planning our first trip to Amsterdam is an excellent example of this.  In my head, from countless pictures I’d seen, I envisioned a calm, relaxed destination that we would enjoy at a leisurely pace. Wrong, so wrong, on so many levels. 

First Trip to Amsterdam

The Expectation – Ah, the sweet sound of silence.

Amsterdam, was not quite the calm place I played out in my head, and it was much bigger than I had anticipated. It is also a destination so rich in history and full of life, we found it impossible to see all we wanted to see in the two days we had set aside to visit it. Consisting of more than just the famous Canal Ring it’s known for, Amsterdam has ten neighbourhoods surrounding it worth exploring as well. It’s not hard to see why a tourist could be left feeling a little overwhelmed on arrival. 

First Trip to Amsterdam

The Reality – Just you and THOUSANDS of fellow travellers wandering around Amsterdam.

Left to our own devices, it’s easy to miss the most important spots of a destination. That’s why I’ve always been a big fan of guided and self-guided tours for travellers. I sought out the I amsterdam City Card upon our arrival in Amsterdam. Available in 24, 48, 72 and 96 hour increments, the I amsterdam card allows you to maximize your time in Amsterdam, no matter how long you have there. 

First trip to Amsterdam

Just outside the Red Light District.

We picked up our I amsterdam card in the IJ Hall at the Amsterdam Centraal Station. Cards are also available at Schipol Airport upon arrival. Unless you’re staying in Amsterdam though, odds are good that the start of your journey will begin at Amsterdam Centraal. Word to the wise: I would not recommend driving in Amsterdam unless you are a) an excellent parallel parker and b) a really confident driver.

Purchasing the I amsterdam City Card gives you access to museums, attractions and a free canal cruise. In addition, it also gives you free access to public transport around Amsterdam. If this is your first trip to Amsterdam, I would highly recommend taking advantage of the canal cruise first. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the city, and to highlight some places you may want to head back to on foot or by tram. There are four canal cruise companies available to choose from and embarkment is conveniently located directly across the street from Amsterdam Centraal.  Trips run roughly every 20 minutes throughout the summer. We went with Lovers Canal Cruises and loved the convenient audio available in English that explained what we were seeing at every spot along the way.

First trip to Amsterdam

Although there are 45 attractions and museums included with the I amsterdam City Card in the Canal Ring area alone, The Anne Frank House is not one of them. I can’t stress this enough, please buy your tickets online ahead of time. We bought ours a month before our trip and we’re so glad we did. The line up to enter the Anne Frank House stretched for two blocks. Thankfully we arrived at our scheduled time and were able to walk right in.

First trip to Amsterdam

This is the only picture I took in the orientation room where pictures were allowed. Don’t even get me started about the people taking pictures where they were asked not to.

If you only have 24 or 48 hours to explore Amsterdam, you’ll find no reason to leave the Canal Ring area during your stay.  Simply exploring the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum (conveniently located beside each other) can take hours out of a day. You’ll also not want to spend your time racing from attraction to attraction, or you’ll miss taking in the unique vibe of Amsterdam. Be sure to spend some time simply walking the streets along the canals, admiring the thousands of houseboats and the architecture of the buildings. Your I amsterdam card also includes discounts at a number of restaurants, so when you need to take a break you can take in your surroundings while enjoying a leisurely meal. 

Believe it or not, this seats four.

Of course, the question I’ve been asked a lot since we returned, is did we visit the Red Light District. This is where expectation and reality were again wildly different. The reality is that during the day, the Red Light District is rather tame. In fact, you might walk through it and not even realize where you were. In the evening, it definitely becomes a little more lively, but it’s not quite as scandalous as you think it is. We took our teen daughters through it and while they had many questions about the girls in the windows, and some of the more, um, unique gift stores, it opened up some great topics of discussion for us. When travelling with kids, explore this area based on where you are with these conversations with your kids. If you’re not ready to explain what sex toys are, what marijuana is, and why women are standing in windows in lingerie, you may want to avoid it. And before you ask, no, the I amsterdam card does not offer any discounts in the Red Light District. 

 They say the I amsterdam card is the card that “offers you more than you can visit, but you can try”, and I believe that’s true. There’s simply no way you could fit in all this amazing City Card offers, but you will have a lot of fun trying. 




Madurodam is the World’s Most Joyful War Memorial

Of all the things we saw in The Hague this summer I didn’t expect that Madurodam Theme Park would be something I would recommend everyone go visit, but here we are; I’m telling you it’s a must see. I’ve thought about this little gem of a tourist attraction a lot since our return home.  On the surface it’s a fun theme park to spend a few hours at, but at it’s very core Madurodam is about love and the unbreakable bond we share with family. That’s why it makes me smile every time I think about it. 

Madurodam Theme Park, Royal Palace 'Het Loo'

Replica of The Royal Palace in Apeldoorn, also known as Palace Het Loo.

George Maduro fought for The Netherlands in World War II and died in the Dachau Concentration Camp of typhus in 1945. His parents wanted a living war memorial to their son, so they donated the start up capital to build Madurodam to show The Netherlands at it’s best. As Holland rebuilt after World War II, Madurodam grew as well, with Dutch companies like KLM and Unilever donating funds to keep it opened. In 1952, Madurodam opened to the world. 

Madurodam Theme Park, tiny buildings, replicas, Holland, Netherlands, The Hague

Peek inside the windows, the details are on the inside too!

The details in these replicas of Holland’s most famous buildings and destinations, are incredible. Take the time to look inside the windows, the details are meticulous inside as well! As tourists in Holland for the first time, it was a great way for us to get a sense of what we should go out of our way to see, like the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and The Binnenhof in The Hague. Sadly we didn’t get to Kinderdijk this time, but because of Madurodam, it’s on my list for our next visit. 

Madurodam Theme Park

If you go, plan to spend two to three hours exploring through each of the attractions. There is lots of interactive activities for kids (and kids at heart) to take part in, as well as a couple of short films to watch. 

Since we were visiting from Canada, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy Dutch Poffertjes while walking through the park. When in Rome and all, right? 

Madurodam Theme Park, food available

Madurodam Theme Park is open every day of the year, so there is always time to visit. It’s not far from the Gemeentemuseum or the beach at Scheveningen, so pairing an excursion to Madurodam with either one of these attractions would make for a perfect day in The Hague. 

Madurodam Theme Park

Catching our reflection in one of Madurodams many replicas.

Madurodam Theme Park is a place families have been visiting and finding joy in since 1952. I can’t help but get a little misty when I think about George Maduro’s parents, completely devastated at the loss of their precious son, doing something so wonderful to preserve his memory. Madurodam doesn’t only highlight Holland at it’s very best but also family love at it’s very best. 




The Ultimate #MemoryMaker Girls’ Getaway in Ontario’s Highlands

One of the best vacations I ever had happened less than an hour from my front door in Ontario’s Highlands. As someone who travels a lot and has seen some amazing destinations, I’ve thought a lot about how a trip so close home remains in my Top 5 travel experiences.

The company for sure helped; the weekend was spent with girlfriends who were up for an adventure as much as I was. The utter ease in getting there didn’t hurt either. We didn’t have to arrive at an airport hours early, or spend most of a day travelling to our destination; proving that you don’t have to go far to get away. Ultimately though, it was the people we met at each stop, like Ian & Jeanie at Perth Outfitters and Gordon & Linda at Perth Manor who made the trip so memorable.

This year, Ontario’s Highlands is inviting guests to Come Wander through the region, and in the process discover what type of wanderer they are by visiting FindYourInnerWanderer.Ca. Guests answer a simple quiz and are entered to win a travel package based on their wandering type.

I took the quiz and was not surprised to learn that I am a Memory Maker. Considering I still talk about our amazing time in Ontario’s Highlands, it’s clear I made lasting memories there. That’s why I’m sharing our exact itinerary with you so you can get out and make some memories of your own.

girls getaway Ontario

Day 1

Kick it Off on The Right Note

Most modern women are steeped in stress.  Let’s face it, that’s part of the reason you’re taking this journey. Why wait then until the end of your weekend to feel it start to slip away then? Start your girls’ getaway at Tay River Reflections in Perth and kick this trip off on the right note. Go ahead and out-Canadian yourself by getting a Maple Massage; this was the treatment I opted for and loved it.

girls getaway ontario

Enjoy Lunch With a View

Head over to Fiddlehead’s Bar & Grill and request a table on the patio for lunch. Located in a stunning limestone building dating back to the 1880s, this popular restaurant overlooks Stewart Park. Best bets for lunch include one of their thin crust pizzas or one of the delicious daily specials. After lunch, wander over to the gift shop and find the perfect souvenir to remember your trip.

Girls Getaway Ontario

Get In Touch With Your Inner Child

Part of the reason you’re getting away is to make memories, so start by getting in touch with your inner kid at Perth Outfitters. The joy the owners at Perth Outfitters exude is contagious, so you’ll be giggling in no time.  Rent a canoe or a stand-up paddleboard with your besties and get out on the water. Finish your time off there with a hard-core game of mini-golf. You may be feeling a little peckish after all your play, so stop in at The Sunflower Bake Shop for the best carrot cake you’ll ever have!

girls getaway ontario

Get Ready For a Night On The Town

By now, you’re stress-free, fed, and feeling light as a feather. Time to check in at the Perth Manor Boutique Hotel and get cleaned up for a night out on the town. Perth Manor is the perfect girly respite with its leaded windows, high-ceilings, antique furniture and stunning décor. Before you head out for your dinner reservation, enjoy a Manor Martini in the prettiest bar you’ll ever visit.

girls getaway ontario

Linger Awhile Over Dinner

Not only do you not have to cook on this little escape but you get to spend hours lingering over a meal served to you. Make reservations at The Stone Cellar, and then stroll through one of Canada’s prettiest little towns on the way over. Once there, savor every bite of your meal. Don’t forget dessert! Head back to the Perth Manor for a blissful sleep.

Day 2

Breakfast on The Terrace

Breakfast is included with your booking at Perth Manor, and you’ll be oh so happy it is as you start your second day. Weather permitting, I recommend enjoying your meal on the terrace outside and soaking in every last minute of your stay here over their amazing Eggs Benedict.

Learn Some History By Living It

The Matheson House is a fully restored period house built in 1840 that allows you to stroll through four period rooms and see how ladies like you used to get through the day. In the summer months, you can join members of the Classic Theatre Festival for Perth Through the Ages. This walking tour starts at Matheson House and takes you through the streets of Perth sharing entertaining stories about the town’s history.

Living History, Girls Getaway Ontario

Wander Through Ontario’s Highlands to Almonte

Bid adieu to Perth (although I’m sure you’ll make plans to return) and take in the scenery of Ontario’s Highlands as you head to Almonte. Part of what makes this area so unique is that the entire region is rural, so your view will never be obscured by high rises.

girls getaway ontario

Sustenance Before Shopping

Stop at the Mill Street Crepe Company to fuel up on sweet and/or savoury crepes before spending the afternoon strolling along the 19th century main street. Known as the “friendly town, Almonte more than lives up to the name with the people you meet as you explore. Don’t miss Hello Yellow, the Almonte Antique Market, and the Tin Barn Market.

Where to eat Almonte, Girls Getaway Ontario

Admire the Architecture

One of the most wonderful things about Almonte is its small town charm and old architecture. The Old Town Hall is the perfect place to admire both of those qualities. If you plan this trip in the fall, plan to be in Almonte on September 15th when The Festivals of Small Halls is in town. In fact, you could completely ignore this itinerary and plan your getaway around The Festivals of Small Halls which will be traveling from town to town this fall. This unique music festival will see some of Canada’s best musical acts move from the big stage to the intimate venues of town halls across Eastern Ontario.

girls getaway ontario

Debrief and Plan Your Next Trip

You’ve done a lot in a short time in Ontario’s Highlands, so it’s time to throw your feet up and reflect a little. The Almonte Riverside Inn sits on the banks of the Mississippi River and is the ideal place to end your perfect weekend on a high note. This charming boutique inn is located in a heritage estate that will leave you swooning. Enjoy a drink on the rooftop patio as you plan your next trip to Ontario’s Highlands. I guarantee, you’ll want to come back.

girls getaway Ontario

Not sure this #MemoryMaker itinerary is for you? Maybe you’d like to head out with your family or spouse instead. Here’s a few alternative Memory Maker Experiences you can find in Ontario’s Highlands:

Train buffs will love the Trainfest Festival at the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario in Smiths Falls. For the ultimate experience with your kids, make plans to spend the night in one. Best parent status is practically guaranteed.

Did you know Wilberforce and Bancroft in Ontario are the Mineral Capital of Canada. If you fancy yourself a bit of a gemologist then make plans to spend some time looking for precious stones in this area. You can even plan to take part in the Rockhound Gemboree which happens August 3-6 in Bancroft.  

Calling all Cowboys and Cowgirls! Horse lovers will have the time of their life at the Horse Country Campground in Forester’s Falls which offers a Life on the Ranch Program. Guests take care of their own horse for the whole weekend and experience what it’s like to live on a remote ranch.

This post was sponsored by Ontario’s Highlands. All opinions and images are mine.



Muskoka on The Cheap: Delawana Resort

If you’re looking for an affordable Muskoka getaway look no further than the Delawana Resort located on Honey Harbour just a mere 2 ½ drive from Toronto. 

Sunset at Delawana Inn

The History

The Delawana Inn first opened in 1897 as a hotel called the Victoria House. Since then it’s gone through many changes, including two fires, one in 1952 and one in 1973.

If you have visited Delawana in the past, you’ll remember it as an all-inclusive resort with day camps for the kids, breakfasts and lunches included, plus lots of family activities and evening shows.

Sadly, this type of model was difficult to maintain and in 2013, the Delawana Inn went into receivership. It was purchased shortly thereafter and reopened in 2014 as a self-catered resort. Think of it like being able to enjoy a cottage vacation without the hassle of owning a cottage.

West Beach at Delawana Resort

Accommodations at Delawana

There are different types of accommodations for every pocketbook and family. From large, fully-furnished cottages with full-sized kitchens that sleep eight, to smaller cottages for a family of five (no kitchen), and resort suites and rooms.

The prices range from $500/night for the large, furnished cottages to $100/night for resort rooms. We personally like the Trilliums Suites which are spacious and have a huge deck for enjoying the outdoors which runs $150/night.

Activities at Delawana

There are two beaches at Delawana. The North Beach is where most of the swimming is done. The water is quite shallow for the first ten to twenty feet making it perfect for families with little kids. The West Beach is where you can sign out canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats.

If you’re not feeling like getting sandy there is a large (unheated) pool that’s incredibly refreshing on a hot summer day.

With lots of field space, you can play a wide variety of outdoor games that can be signed out at the centrally located reception building including bocce, croquet, shuffleboard, horseshoes, and tennis. You can also sign out bikes to explore the area or simply hang out with your kids at the large playground area. 

At night there are three fire pits for roasting marshmallows. Last but not least, when it’s raining you can borrow from the free library of DVDs and board games, or sign out a book.

Swimming Pool at Delawana Resort Playground at Delawana Resort

Where To Eat

Whether you choose a cottage, resort room or regular room each accommodation comes with a charcoal barbecue. In the Delawana reception building are also three community kitchens where you can cook meals and wash dishes.

Off-site, within a few hundred feet of the resort is an LCBO, local grocery store, the Thrive Foods Café & Marketplace, and The Hive where you can purchase baked goods and freshly prepared foods. The Hive also offers yoga on the dock every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8am.