The Best Hidden Gems of the Greater Toronto Area
It’s no surprise – The Canadian dollar stinks. Gone are the at-par days with the U.S. greenback, making overall travel more expensive (did you know airlines purchase fuel in U.S. dollars?). But with Canada turning 150 this year, the timing is perfect to stay in your own backyard to celebrate what this great country has to offer. In the Toronto area alone, there’s plenty of hidden gems to last a lifetime. When was the last time you went ice-fishing or even took the time to learn about your region’s history (did I mention Canada’s turning 150?)?
So before you decide that things aren’t exotic enough for you in Toronto, think again. Below are some hidden gems of York Region (just north of Toronto) with all of it doable over the course of a couple days.
What’s a vacation without a little spa time? The spa at Briar’s Resort is one of the most luxurious of the region providing services ranging from massages, hydrotherapies, and hand/foot treatments. For a real treat, try the Mokkaccino Body Wrap!
…heck, just stay the night!
Gong to the Briar’s Resort only for the Spa is too much of a tease! Stay the night and enjoy one of the best resorts in Ontario with fine dining, luxury pool area, numerous fireplaces (too many to count!), and lots of historic items from around the world showcased throughout the grounds.
Air Canada Bid Upgrades Now Available
See some additional ‘hacks’ at the end of this post.
Want to fly premium economy or business class, but not pay the full price? Air Canada now allows economy ticket holders to place bids on empty premium economy and business class seats before their flight. Just like any auction, the highest bidder(s) will get the seat(s).
The process is quite simple. Bids are made online using a sliding scale with a set minimum and maximum amount. When passengers pick their price, a chart lets them know the strength of their offer. Travellers find out if they have the winning bid about 48 hours before departure.
According to Air Canada, the purposes of the Offer Strength chart is to be a rough indicator of how likely a bidder is to win the auction, although the algorithm used for this graph seems quite obscure. It is safe to assume that the chart is a marketing tool to get bidders to bid higher than they otherwise would have with the goal of making the overall top bids higher.
The Advantages of Using DJI’s Osmo as a Travel Blogger/Content Creator
As travel blogging and content creation becomes more competitive and highly geared towards video, gimbals like DJI’s Osmo can provide a big advantage. Gimbals provide on-the-go content creators the ability to create unbelievably smooth action videos that isn’t possible through exiting handheld devices such as smartphones and DSLRs. By combining anti-shake shock-absorbing technologies with electronic rotation axis points, gimbals are able to stabilize videos and keep the camera level and pointed at the intended target allowing the user to focus on the shot instead of trying to keep the video smooth.
See the with/without gimbal comparison video here.
Travel Startup? Founder Institute (FI.co) Review and Promotional Discount Code
Are you an aspiring Travel Startup? Think you can be the next Expedia? If so, be sure to check out Founder Institute’s Startup Accelerator Program. Fonder Institute is an idea stage accelerator program that helps founders turn ideas in to fully running businesses in 12 weeks. Over the course of the program, founders learn everything from startup legal, to user acquisition and of course how to pitch investors. Each week showcases different investors that Founders can pitch to and connect with.
Other benefits include:
- Quick idea validation – If you can’t survive Founder Institute, your idea probably won’t survive in the real world
- Great place to meet dozens of investors and startup industry professionals making it easy to “get in front of” investors
- Weekly milestones to keep you on track and build your company in a startup focused pace
- Shares in all the other founders/companies that are part of your program
If you’re interested and missed the early sign-up deadline, use this link to get access to the discount. Otherwise, go to FI.co to find a free info session near you. If you go to one of the info sessions, be sure to prepare a 60 second ‘pitch’ as you might have the opportunity to pitch investors there on the spot for some free feedback. A pitch should focus on Problem, Solutions and Why They Should Care (e.g. market size, traction, revenue, etc.).
Surf Bus Oahu North Shore Tour Review and Tips
If you’re in Honolulu or Waikiki beach area and are looking to do a day trip to the North Shore area, be sure to check out Surf Bus. They hit up all the main spots with a choice of activities and in the morning and the afternoon included in the price. Below is a general review and tips to get the most out of your day. If you can, be sure to ask for Mike as a drive as he’s quite the comedian and will entertain you during the drive.
8am – Hotel pickup.
9:30am – Macadamia shop stop for a washroom break and souvenir shopping (15 minutes)
10:30am – Arrive in the North Shore area.
11am – Beginning of your morning activity. Choices include:
– Hike + waterfall swim (see above video)
– Bike ride
1pm – Lunch time!
2pm – Beach hangout
3pm – Beginning of your afternoon activity. Choices include:
– SUP (see above video)
5pm – Turtle viewing at the beach
5:15pm – Head back to hotel
6:30pm – Arrive back at hotel.
– Make use of the cooler. Bring your own snacks and water to tide you over for the whole day (and save money).
– Bring your own towel (a quick dry one if you can) and a change of clothes as it can get cool at times. Wear your swimsuit from the start to save time.
– Try the garlic shrimp hut during your lunch stop (delicious, but very garlicky!) for around $16USD.
– Don’t forget to tip your driver (approx. $10USD).
2017 Travel Hacks and Technology Trends
Happy New Year everyone! It’s going to be an exciting year for travel. To stay on top of it all, be sure to exploit the below hacks and technology trends to get the most out of your travel, money and memories.
Quadruple Dip on Cash Back/Points
Are you a points junky? Then you’ll love this hack! When booking a flight, it’s possible to get quadruple the cash back/points depending on your credit cards and how you book.
Step 1: Sign up for eBates
When you go through eBates for your online purchases (not just flights), you get cash back on your purchases (more here) directly from eBates. Sites like Expedia and FlightHub are part of this site so if go through eBates to one of these booking sites, you will get cash back. FlightHub offers $7.50 – $22.50 on almost all flight bookings.
Dip #1: Cash back
Step 2: Book Your Flight
Booking your flight will get you the usual airlines points, whether it’s Aeroplan, Sky Team, or others, regardless of who you book through.
Dip #2: Airline points
Step 3: Book With a Rewards Credit Card
Make sure you book with a rewards credit card like the American Express Gold Rewards card to get points on your card.
Dip #3: Credit card points/cash back
Step 4: Site Specific Points
Sites like Expedia offer their own rewards program. Be sure to sign-up for these reward programs (usually free anyways) to get even more points back!
Dip #4: Website specific points or cash back
So in one purchase, you can get a trove of cash and points by getting a little creative with how you do it!
2017 is the year of the drone! Companies like DJI are revolutionizing the type of footage you can take during your travels. Nothing gets you retweets and Instagram likes like a beautiful aerial shot. But be careful! Regulations and insurance requirements are getting more strict around the world making drone affordability harder. Companies like DroneTec Solutions are coming up with hourly on-demand insurance solutions to make drone insurance more affordable, but a lot of consideration should go into any and all drone purchases. The drone that is likely to be most versatile around regulations is the DJI Mavic. Weighing less than 1kg, the Mavic may be able to skirt some drone laws around the world, including Ireland.
Gimbals and Camera Stabilizers
Similar to drones, Gimbals and Stabilizers are changing the way videos are shot. If you have ever moved around while filming, you know how hard it is to keep your camera stable. These handheld devices allow even the most novice of users to shoot smooth, sharp cinematic videos with little effort.
International SIM Cards
All travellers know how expensive cellular roaming can be. Thankfully, there are some new startups that are addressing this issues that are making roaming more affordable, including Toronto based KnowRoaming. Unlimited daily data plans start at $7.99USD. Use promo code RAITA81 to save 30% on your SIM sticker/card and get $5USD free.
How To Turn 20 Days Of Annual Leave Into 47 Days Of Travel in 2017.
If you’re in Australia, you’ll love this! Awol/Contiki has put together a chart that shows how to turn 20 days of annual leave into 47 days of travel. By strategically planning your leave days (book them before your colleagues!), you can enjoy up to 47 days of travel if you combine weekends, holidays and your annual leave days.
So what are you waiting for? To see the latest deals from Contiki go here. #NoRegrets
Montreal BARBEGAZI Winter Action Sports Festival
Although the thought of Montreal in January can bring memories of cold weather, the first two weekends of 2017 are going to be a hot commodity with the the introduction of BARBEGAZI. Îlot Clark, in the Quartier des spectacles, will be transformed into a huge free playground, featuring all kinds of physical activity to encourage Montréalers to have fun instead of hibernating… and the opportunity to plunge into urban culture. The main attraction of the event is a playful, oversized and high‐tech obstacle course where the top 10 performers get to share $5,000 in prize money. The general public can also participate in this mad obstacle course… and then discover other extreme sports, such as snowskate, lumberjack, arm wrestling, Christmas Tree throwing, and more!
For more information visit the BARBEGAZI website.
Update! DJI Mavic vs. GoPro Karma – Karma Recalled!
A quick update to my previous post on DJI Mavic and GoPro Karma. The Karma has been recalled! More details here. So that really makes the DJI Mavic the industry leader for those looking for a powerful yet compact drone.