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Canadians prefer sun and sand on vacation

- May 16th, 2012

Canadians prefer beach vacations, according to a new survey. (Shutterstock)

Vacation time means beach time for Canadians.

In a global survey by online travel agent Expedia.ca and Harris Interactive, Canadians revealed they prefer a beach vacation over sightseeing at national landmarks, hiking in nature or visiting family and friends.

With 45% of Canadian respondents saying their dream trip includes sun and sand, we prefer beach vacations more than any other country in the world and were well above the global average of 33%.

The Caribbean was the top choice for beachgoers, with 18% of Canadians choosing the sunny islands as their top beach destinations. Hawaii was second with 14% and Australia third with 10% of votes.

On average, Expedia.ca found the Canadian beach vacation lasts 7.8 days. The international average for a beach vacation is 7.7, while Americans spend about 5.6 days beachside. 

Relaxation is the top beach “activity” for the 72% of Canadians who prefer to zone out seaside in a beach chair. Our other favourite beach activities include swimming (68%), snorkelling (34%) and nude sunbathing (5%).

Expedia.ca and Harris Interactive surveyed more than 8,000 people from North America, Asia, Europe, South America and Australia for the survey.

Product review: Summer is time for sandals

- May 10th, 2012

To me, summer is synonymous with sandals. Whether lounging on the beach, heading to a campsite or just relaxing in your backyard, warm weather just begs for this easy, breezy, sock-free footwear option.

When I received an invitation from U.S.-based footwear company OKA b. to test a pair of what they call one of the “most durable beach accessories,” I kicked aside my winter footwear and quickly accepted.

OKA.b sandals are made from recyclable Microplast and are water, odour and bacteria resistant. Clean-up after a day at a campsite or on the beach is easy: they can be washed by hand or in a dishwasher.

OKA.b’s Daisy sandal in Cherry – $30. (Courtesy OKA.b)

OKA.b's Alexandra sandal in Pearl - $40. (Courtesy OKA.b)

The sandals are made from a single piece of material for comfort and come in a wide array of colours, with different designs, embellishments and uses – including sandals for brides and men. The company also sells wedges and ballet flats.

All OKA.b footwear incorporates massage beads into the design.

OKA.b's Sandy sandal in Pearl - $35. (Courtesy OKA.b)

TEST DRIVE

I slipped on my pair of Sandy Pearl thong sandals – a shimmering white sandal with a sand dollar medallion on the strap – and hit the streets of Toronto to really test how the sandal would hold up against dirt and pavement.

What did I like? The sand dollar design was super cute and these sandals are definately durable. I have the feeling I could wear them all summer and they’d still be in great shape for use next year. With prices at $45 or less, OKA.b sandals are a great deal.

I also liked how dirt washed off easily in the sink with just some water, though it took some effort to clear all the dirt away from between the massage beads.

What didn’t I like? I initially found the built-in massage beads soothing, but they hurt the bottoms of my feet after a few blocks pounding the pavement. It just wasn’t for me.

And, though the sandals were a size large and meant for my foot size, I found them to be a bit snug and a tad too tight width-wise. Customers should check their size before purchasing on the OKA.b website.

EMANCIPATE YOUR FEET

This summer, OKA.b is offering customers the chance to save 40% on their orders when they donate to Souls4Shoes with the “Emancipate Your Feet” promotion.

Souls4Shoes collects gently used shoes to donate to people who are in need or affected by disaster around the world. The organization accepts all international donations through mail and Canadians can claim their discount with the code provided after they make their donation.

OKA.b ships to Canada at a cost of $15 per order. Browse styles and purchase OKA.b sandals online at their website, oka-b.com.

Toronto Pearson named worst airport in Canada

- May 7th, 2012

Toronto's Pearson International Airport has been named worst in Canada. Ernest Doroszuk/QMI AGENCY

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport has been named the worst airport in Canada, according to a new survey from online travel agent FlightNetwork.com.

Of Canadians surveyed in FlightNetwork’s online poll, 37% of respondents said Pearson was the worst airport in Canada. This is up from 28% of votes received during FlightNetwork’s 2010 version of the survey.

Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport was named second worst by 18% of Canadians, while Edmonton International placed third with 10% of votes.

Fifty-seven per cent of Canadians said slow security was what made Pearson worst in their eyes. The airport also received poor marks from Canadian travellers for bad service and a lack of good dining options. 

Vancouver International was named the best airport in Canada, with 35% of votes.

Internationally, London Heathrow was named worst in the world with 26% of travellers’ votes. Toronto Pearson ranked third in the international rankings with 13% of global votes, while Paris’ Charles de Gaulle was second.

Canadians choose to travel with tax refund

- May 3rd, 2012

 

If you had no other monetary obligations, would you spend your tax return on your dream trip? (Shutterstock)

 

If Canadians had the luxury to choose between using their tax return to pay down debt or blowing the whole thing on a vacation, they’d be hopping on the next plane out of town.

This is according to a new survey from travel provider Expedia.ca that asked 1,004 Canadians what they would do with money from their tax return in an ideal world where RRSP contributions and debt just don’t exist.

Fifty-one per cent of Canadians surveyed said they would book a vacation over buying clothing, fancy dinners or other big-ticket items.

Of those respondents, 25% said a beach in Mexico or the Caribbean would be their top destination, while 22% said you could find them travelling Europe with their refund. Seventeen per cent of respondents said they’d travel more of Canada, while another 16% said they’d head Stateside.

Canadians from B.C. and Alberta were most likely to say they’d travel with their tax refund if they had no other responsibilities, with 63% and 55% of respondents in each respective province looking for sun and sand. Quebeckers were the least likely to use their tax return for travel at 39%.

In 2011, the Canada Revenue Agency said the average tax refund for Canadians was $1,506.

Calgary Stampede celebrates 100 years

- May 1st, 2012

The Calgary Stampede is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year — and you could win the opportunity to join the more than one million people expected to attend this year’s edition of the ”Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine arrive on a stage coach at the Calgary Stampede at the BMO Centre in Calgary, Alberta July 7 2011. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)

Garth Brooks.

Following last year’s exciting visit from Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, the Stampede will outdo itself for its centennial anniversary by staging a concert by the King of Country – and one of my favourite performers of all time – Garth Brooks.

The usual mix of rodeos, chuckwagon races, exhibits, midway rides and games, and strange food options – from bacon sundae funnel cake to cotton candy cupcakes – will also be available on site.

Here’s how you could be on your way to the Calgary Stampede for free.

On May 9, drop by Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, the Art Gallery Public Square in Vancouver, or Stephen Avenue in Calgary and discover the red envelope in a pile of traditional Stampede white hats to win.

This red envelope contains a prize pack full of amazing Stampede fun, including airfare to and from Calgary, two nights hotel accommodation, tickets to the sold-out Brooks concert, food, event passes, a gift card for Western clothing and passes to local Calgary attractions like the Calgary Zoo.

Members of the public must arrive at each event by 11:30 a.m. local time to secure a wristband in order to participate in the white hat drop. Only the first 200 people to stop by will be able to search through the pile of hats for their chance to discover the prize envelope and win.

The Calgary Stampede takes place from July 6 to 15, 2012. Visit calgarystampede.com for more information on this year’s Stampede centennial.