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blog travel insuranceAt The Travel Broker and Today’s Woman Traveller, we always encourage our passengers to sign up for insurance before they head out on a trip. No matter how healthy you are or how certain you are that you won’t need it, just get it!

We don’t like to think about it, but how do you know when a car will hit the taxi you’re riding in or when your mother will become very ill and you need to cancel your trip? Without medical insurance, the cost of treatment in other countries can be staggering. In 2015, the average cost per day for a hospital stay in the U.S. was $5220, in Switzerland $4781 and in New Zealand $2142 (in US $).  Insurance is a small price to pay for travel peace of mind.

There are five main types of travel insurance:

porto cork souvenirsYou know that phrase “we’re not getting older, we are getting better”? We jokingly echo this saying to our friends as the age odometer slowly creeps up. Yet it IS true, and what better way to prove it than to witness it firsthand in beautiful Portugal where ‘older is indeed better’.

In the year 1279, the Kingdom of Portugal was established. It is a lovely old country where ancient cork trees, aged historical properties, and even old gnarly vines have - for the most part - stood the test of time. The Portuguese people have made use of these local resources in the most wonderful ways for their income sources - and for our enjoyment. Let me explain:

iceland waterfall gulfoss300pxI was fortunate to travel to Iceland in June 2017 for a ten-day tour. Having lived in Canada’s Arctic for several years, I thought I knew exactly how to dress and what to pack for this adventure. I was on the right track but learned a valuable lesson on the differences between Canada’s Arctic and Iceland; namely, The Arctic has a dry cold with permafrost. Iceland has geothermal areas, hot springs, waterfalls, and geysers.

There are mists, sprays, and steam everywhere you go. During the 10-day trip, we only experienced one day of rain, and it wasn’t even the whole day. We did, however, visit many waterfalls starting with the Glanni waterfall, a suspected home of elves and trolls!

Time to refresh, recharge and relax…

yoga class costa ricaI went on my first yoga retreat two years ago. Eight ladies, all with different backgrounds with one common thread - yoga!

As a beginner with hardly any experience with yoga at all, I thought to myself - what am I going to do? I really wanted to go and experience all that the retreat had to offer, but thought the other ladies were, in my eyes, yogis. But I just bit the bullet and thought I will go and “wing-it”. To my surprise and delight, most of the other ladies were in the same boat as me - wanting to get away for something new with like-minded people, somewhere to relax, unwind and let go and who also had no prior experience with yoga at all. 

Beatrix potter300pxHelen Beatrix Potter was born in London on July 28, 1866 and died in Near Sawrey, in the Lake District of England December 22, 1943 at the age of 77. Over her lifetime Beatrix had many passions that included her pets, science, illustration and writing. In her later years, she became an astute businesswoman, farmer, sheep breeder and conservationist.

In her day, during Victorian England, girls were not given an education, however, being from a wealthy, upper-class family, she was educated by her governesses. Growing up, she had numerous pets and even kept mice under her bed which she trained to eat out of her hand. Holidays were spent in Scotland and the English Lake District where she developed her love for nature; drawing and painting the flora and fauna she found in woodlands and in the landscape. She began to study fungi and became adept at producing detailed watercolour illustrations.

 

Lake Bled Slovenia PixabayBack in 2001, I found myself looking at 2 full weeks with no pending obligations. So why not take a trip? At the best of times I require little justification to travel, and that time was no exception. So out came the maps to consider my options. While I adore Rome, Paris and London, I yearned for a more ‘off the beaten track’ European destination and for me, the ‘road less travelled’ is very appealing. Slovenia came to mind and it fit the bill perfectly. This being over 15 years ago I can assure you that Slovenia was definitely not on the radar for most travellers to Europe. In fact, when I told friends of my destination, they inquired ‘where is that’ or ‘why would you want to go there’? Well let me tell you...

247When my Mum was a little girl, kids made fun of her because of her Sicilian heritage and her inability to speak English. Consequently, I grew up in total ignorance of the beautiful and diverse island of Sicily, until one day, out of the blue, it hit me “I’ve got Italian blood running through my veins!” Since that day, ...

Azores sao miguel lagoa Sete cidadesIf you are unfamiliar with The Azores and you Google it, one of the most symbolic images you will see of these beautiful, volcanic islands will likely be a photograph of Lagoa das Sete Cidades on the Island of Sao Miguel. This “postcard” photograph of the twin lagoons represents just a fraction of the spectacular views you experience exploring The Azores.

Lagoa das Sete Cidades is the largest fresh-water lake in the Azores and is situated in the volcanic craters that form the Island of Sao Miguel. It is made up of two lagoons (the Green Lagoon and the Blue Lagoon) that form beautiful scenery of great natural beauty, classified as Protected Landscape.

Azores sao miguel sete cidades walking pathI remember asking this very question when I was first asked if I wanted to go to The Azores. I soon discovered that The Azores are one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal. This archipelago is composed of nine volcanic islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean about...

Greece RhodesTake a step back in time as you walk through one of the seven gates in the medieval walls surrounding the Old Town Rhodes, Greece.

Old Town Rhodes is one of the best-preserved, medieval towns in Europe, which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

The Town of Rhodes was formed in 408 BC and prospered for three centuries during its Golden Age. The town prospered with sea trade and skilled shipbuilders until Roman times. The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was built by the Lindian sculptor Chares between 304 and 293 BC. After twelve years, it was completed in 282 BC. The statue representing their sun god Helios stood at the harbour entrance.

ElephantFosteringIf you've known me for a while, you may remember I fostered a baby elephant, Dupoto, from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. Here's the blog I wrote about that amazing experience.

Well now there is very good news: ‘my’ Dupoto (at 4 years old)

23SEP16 Sheldrick350pxThis past weekend I enjoyed the fulfillment of a dream. In my past visits to Kenya I had never visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. This is an elephant orphanage begun by Dame Daphne Sheldrick in 1977 in memory of her husband David who even today stands out as one of Africa’s most famous and proficient pioneer and natural park wardens of all time.

I knew about it and while I was setting this tour up about a year ago I spent some time looking into the organization. I was so taken by the rescue program and the care given to juvenile and infant orphaned elephants that I made a point to take on the minimum fostering commitment of a 2 year-old orphan named Dupoto.

This ties up only $50.00 USD a year and has given me thousands in satisfaction to do just a little toward the conservation of these majestic animals.

TheFurryDanceHelston in Cornwall is a quiet town, pretty, lots of interesting local shops and a couple of great bakeries.

However, the quiet, quaint town changes during one day of the year - on the first Saturday in May when the Furry Dance takes place. The Furry Dance is a celebration of the passing of Winter and the arrival of Spring. You'll have heard the tune - the Floral Dance (Paul Robeson had a great recording) - it's one of those tunes that gets stuck in your head and won't leave.

Debbie

Yes, it’s a niche travel market...a market that continues to gain momentum! More and more women are coming together, going on tour to see and experience beautiful worldwide locations. According to the Boston Globe, women make up 54% of affluent travellers – that number is up 42% from 2010 statistics.

One of the pioneers of women’s specialty tours is Debbie Lloyd. Debbie has a long and fulfilling career in the travel business. Her passion and first love is people and travel. So how natural is it that she was one of the first in her industry to offer tours specifically for women. This year, Debbie celebrates 15 years offering women-only group tours. In 2002, she created a division of her travel company and called it Canadian Woman Traveller. Then two years ago re-branded that division to Today’s Woman Traveller. 

At Today’s Woman Traveller, we’re often asked ‘what’s the difference between a converter and an adapter’. It’s a great question and well worth an explanation!

adaptersTravel Adapters
Travel adapters or plug adapters do not convert electricity. They ‘adapt’ by allowing a dual-voltage item to be plugged into the wall outlet of another country. For instance, the 2 or 3 prong North American plug needs an adapter to fit into a two prong European electrical outlet.

Elephant on road300pxBeing on Safari is a little surreal. It is the ultimate field trip.

All safaris begin with a briefing at your start point typically in Nairobi. You meet your drivers who will be with you throughout the safari. The drivers go over the daily procedures and get to know passengers. The passengers can also go over any concerns and unanswered questions.

The vehicles are then loaded and off you go to your first lodge or camp. Each vehicle accommodates up to 7 passengers plus their luggage.

You can arrange your safari to visit as few or as many game reserves as time and money allow.
Each location features it’s own environment and sometimes specific species. The Grevy Zebra and the Reticulated Giraffe for example are only found in Samburu, north of Mount Kenya. Lake Nakuru in Kenya and Ngorongoro Crater are home to the brilliant pink flamingoes.

Deb with Boys500pxAny idea of the size of Africa? – We all know it’s big.  A quick check with Wikipedia let’s us know that the continent covers 30.3 million sq. kms (11.7 million sq. miles).  To put that into perspective it is larger than the combination of: China, the continental United States, all of Western Europe, Argentina, India, the British Isles and 3 Scandinavian countries.

Within that size are 53 independent countries.

A great part of Africa is covered by desert.  Africa is home to 3 deserts which together make up more than a quarter of the continent’s area.  The Sahara, covering much of Africa north of the equator, is the largest desert in the world.  The Namib in Namibia has been around for at least 80 million years, making it the oldest desert.  The Kalahari in southern Africa is relatively well vegetated thanks to occasional rainfall.

So much for Africa 101 – it is a project that could keep anyone occupied for a very long time.

As travellers who want to discover and learn for themselves, Africa has many specific countries and regions and is well worth making the journey.

flowers on grey houseThe English Lakes area is an absolutely beautiful region. My first tour of the area happened soon after an artist friend of mine contacted me to let me know that she had just seen the movie "Miss Potter" illustrating the life of Beatrix Potter in England's Lake District. She quite glibly asked if I would build a painting tour for her to lead in this lovely corner of England. She didn't realize that I was thinking of looking into this very region to build a walking tour for Today’s Woman Traveller.

Crystal Endeavor Rendering Polar300pxFollowing closely on the heels of Regent Seven Seas lux cruise ship announcement, now Crystal is expanding with a new luxury mega-yacht in its fleet. AND, they are also jumping into another growing trend – polar travel.

Yes, it’s exciting news for travel! There are so many high end options and so many new locations. All this rivalry makes for wonderful amenities, competing pricing and endless variety for travellers. What a great time to hop on a cruise and go in-style to places you’ve never been before.

italy cinqueTerre view three ladies‘Travelling on my own makes me very nervous - I’ve never done it before.”

Oh, if I had a dollar for every woman who has told me that, I’d be a rich woman.

And I understand! If you are widowed or single, it’s unsettling to have to get your flights booked, sort through insurance options, choose comfortable, safe and reasonably priced hotels, arrange local transportation and arrange your transfers to/from the airport. Then once you are there and enjoying yourself, you experience the feeling of wishing you could share your experiences with someone else. Yes, it IS scary and can be lonely too!

I have been travelling for a living for over 38 years and I know what it’s like to travel alone and I know what it's like to have a travel companion. Sometimes it makes a world of difference to the enjoyment of a travel experience...

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