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hiding travel documentsWe recently received a very good question from a traveller, Joan. 

Joan was doing all the right things while on tour. She was making copies of important documents and 'safely' stashing copies in her hotel room while out. Her question was "but where is the safest place to hide important documents and valuables when they're not with you?"

First, it was great that Joan thought ahead and took photocopies of her passport and credit cards while she was travelling. And she was also right not to store the originals in the same place as the copies. She knew that if one set was lost or stolen, she'd have the second set as her back up. 

Here are a few ideas we suggested to Joan.

luggage tipsIf you are anything like me, you have read many blogs and posts about how and what to pack for a trip. Of course, it depends on the destination and the time of year you are travelling but I have a few personal favourite packing tips - three golden rules for packing:

1. Do you love this item?
2. Is it lightweight?
3. Does it do double duty?

quito Ecuador 1

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was founded in the 16th Century on the ruins of an Inca city and is located on a plateau at an altitude of 9,350 feet in the Andes along the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano and bordered by the hills of Panecillo and Ichimbia. Despite the 1917 earthquake, the city has the best-preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America. The historic district of Quito was the first place in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.

iceland blog4 500pxIceland is one of the most unique places in the world and over the last decade its popularity as a travel destination has been growing every year. It can be a stopover on the way to Europe from North America for 3 or 4 days or a place for your cruise ship to dock for a day but I recommend that you make Iceland a destination location to truly appreciate all it has to offer. Go there for the hot springs, volcanoes, and glaciers but you will want to stay for the exceptional food, the unique landscapes, and the fascinating folklore and people.

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:

Galapagos tortoise

The Galapagos Giant Tortoise is the world's largest tortoise species. The tortoise is typically found in the Indian Ocean and the Galapagos Islands. Giant Galapagos Tortoises are mainly recognized by their large brown, bony, hard upper shell.

During the nineteenth-century whaling period, whaling ships would regularly stop at the Galapagos Islands and capture as many tortoises as they could. The whalers had discovered that the tortoises could live for months without food and water so they could keep them in the hold of their ships as a source of fresh food. Tortoises were also exploited for their oil which was used to light lanterns in Quito, Ecuador.

The rose ecuadorWho doesn’t like roses! Although roses are not native to Ecuador, there are now over 500 varieties of Ecuadorian roses. Ecuador is the world’s third largest exporter of cut flowers with the majority being roses making up 75% of flower exports. Due to the advantage of the roses’ stem size, and larger rose buds and blooms, Ecuadorian roses are considered the best of the world.

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.

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