Berlin Beaches – Strandbad Wannsee Beach Area

Berlin, although a landlocked city, has a great beach area on the outskirts of the city.  The Strandbad Wannsee area is very family friendly with full washrooms and change rooms.  It also neighbours a marina with plenty of boating options, including sailing.  From central Berlin, it is about 30 minutes by train and another 15 minutes of walking (from the station to the beach area).  Access to the beach area is roughly €5.50 depending on your age and student status.

KnowRoaming International SIM & Data Plan Review

knowroaming-international-roaming-data-plan

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I recently teamed up with KnowRoaming to review its international unlimited roaming sim card/data plan throughout Europe (Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic and France). KnowRoaming has various plans, including its unlimited $7.99USD/day data plan. For context, the big cellular providers can cost $5+/MB when you’re overseas.

As anticipated, it worked well. At first, it was nice to be able to check email, tweet, and post like I was at home without the worry of overages or additional costs. But as I started to travel and move about Europe, it dawned on me that it was more than that. It’s not just about being able to check your email all the time, but more about piece-of-mind, safety, and being as efficient as possible while you travel.

That said, I decided to compile a list of not-so-obvious reason why a KnowRoaming international roaming sim is important for all travellers.

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River Surfing in Prague, Czech Republic

Although a land-locked country, it is in fact possible to surf in Prague, Czech Republic.  Thanks to the efforts of Jan Maršík and his team, river surfing has become a reality.

Born from a dream of wanting to have a local spot to ride a wave and hangout with like-minded people, Maršík set out to make this happen in 2013 when he started construction on the Elbe River in Brandy’s Nad Labem.  Today, it’s a favourite among locals and tourist alike.  See here for the full story.

Not only is it great for beginner and intermediate surfers, the surrounding history makes the area a great place to just walk around.  Before hitting the waves, be sure to check out the Brandy’s Nad Labem Castle.  Also the third oldest bridge in the Czech Republic is just down the stream from the surf spot.

Interested?  See Maršík’s website (Czech only) or sign-up for the tour at Biko Adventures.

Contiki Greek Island Tour Review

Are you considering doing a Contiki Greek island tour?  You may have heard of Mykonos and Santorini, but Ios?  Although not as popular as the other islands, Ios is a pleasant surprise for those who have the privilege of visiting it and there’s a reason why it’s the last island of the tour.

Ios is a smaller greek island only accessible by boat.  Since it doesn’t have an airport, you’ll notice a big different in how quiet the island is.  Also, being less popular, Ios has many untouched beaches and lots of nature.

contiki greek island

Overall, the island offers the perfect balance of relaxation and parties, while maintaining environmental balance and sustainability.

During your stay, one must-do is a visit to Pathos Lounge.  During the day it is an amazing pool hangout, while at night it is an unreal party spot with world-class DJs.

Contiki Greek Island Ios

So what are you waiting for?  YOLO! #NoRegrets

Toronto Airport (YYZ) Showers

If you arrive early or have a stopover at Toronto’s Pearson Airport (YYZ) and feel the need for a shower, there are some available in the international departure Plaza Premium Lounges in Terminal 1 and 3.

Although there is a fee to get in, the price includes food and drinks (alcohol too!) and a relaxing place to wait for your plane.

For a full review of the Plaza Premium Lounge in terminal 3, see this post or video above.

Zip Lining in Toronto and Around Ontario – Tree Top Trekking Review

Think you need to go south in order to experience the thrills of zip lining?  Luckily, it’s not the case.  Treetop Trekking has various locations around Ontario where you can experience both zip lining and treetop obstacles, all while safely strapped in to a harness.

This review is based on the Brampton, Ontario location.  For their other locations, please see their website. Reservations are required for all locations and you should arrive 30 minutes early to fill in all the required paperwork.

 

The Overall Experience

The day will start with an orientation session where you will learn the safety skills required to navigate the obstacles and ride the zip lines.  After a short hands-on test of the safety skills, you are off on your own to navigate the numerous courses.  Each course get progressively harder, ending with the longest/hardest (assuming the guides feel that you are ready for it and time permitting).  In general, be prepared to be out on the courses for about 3 hours.

Tip: Go to the washroom beforehand!  Having to go while you’re out makes for a lot of work (i.e. removing your harness) and lost time.

Tip: Bring snacks and water with you in a small bag that you can hang for a branch.  Leave valuables in your car.

Tip: Bring fingerless gloves to prevent your hands from chaffing.

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Using Mistake Airfares to Increase Tourism.

Mistake Airfares and Flight Discount Websites

How Tourism Boards and Airlines Should Work Together to Increase Demand by Leveraging Airfare Tracking Websites (ATWs).

An Introductory Report by Rain Digital Inc. and RainTravels.com. PDF available here.

With the rise of Google Flights, ITA Software and other similar tools, it is now significantly easier to search and compare airline pricing. This has lead to the rise of Airfare Tracking Websites (ATWs), which originally shot to popularity for publicizing mistake airfares. Some are listed below:

Canada:
http://www.yyzdeals.com
http://www.nextdepature.ca

U.S.:
http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/
https://flightfox.com/
http://www.secretflying.com/

These sites crawl the web for airfares that fall below its moving averages. For example, if a flight from New York to Tokyo averages $900 during off-peak season, but one becomes available for $650 or less, this would trigger an alert to the above ATWs who would then post it to their sites as a flight deal. This in turn gets seen by thousands of the sites’ followers through email and social media.

Mistake Airfare Websites
An example from NextDeparture.ca

 

Getting Posted

It goes without saying that in order to get posted on these sites, the airlines simply need to reduce their airfares enough to get noticed; a tactic already employed by airlines (hey, at the end of the day it’s free advertising).

 

The Other Player

Taking a step back, let’s take a look at the role of Tourism Boards. Most countries or regions have one that are usually funded by its respective Tourism Ministry or government body. The Board’s goal? To increase awareness and ultimately increase tourism to the country/region. This ‘awareness creation’ can take the form of advertising, PR, sponsored events, and conventions to name a few. The problem with most of these tactics is that it’s hard to measure its effectiveness and to track back the results to a specific campaign.

 

The Board Math

Although not a perfect science, the effectiveness of a Tourist Board can be measured by the below.

X = Total visitors for the period (usually yearly)

Y = Number of estimated visitors that would come regardless of the Board’s efforts

$ = Total board budget

Therefore, the average cost of ‘acquiring’ a new visitor = $/(X-Y)

Once this figure is known, it must be compared against the estimated economic benefit of an additional tourist to determine the return-on-investment (ROI) generated from the respective Board’s efforts.

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Brexit and Travel – Is Now a Good Time to Visit the UK?

With the United Kingdom voting to leave (Brexit) the European Union it has left the region in a chaotic state with lots of unknowns.  Within the next couple years, the UK must, among other things, negotiate its departure through new trade agreements and treaties.  So how does this play into the travel world?  Is now a good time to visit the UK?  Some thoughts below.

Firstly, there won’t be any dramatic changes before the UK’s official departure from the EU.  Like all agreements and laws, changes will only take affect once it is officially launched.  For people outside the EU, there likely won’t be much change after the fact either.  As it stands, the UK still requires passport checks at its border crossings.

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