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Best of the chat: Parks Canada answers your camping questions

- August 11th, 2014


With summer well underway, we know many of our readers are looking forward to a camping or cottage trip. To prepare for that summer escape, we held a live chat with Michael Beaudet, Operations Advisor for Parks Canada’s National Information Service to answer all our readers’ questions on everything from setting up a campsite to avoiding unwanted wildlife to visiting the nation’s parks.

Find the top five questions and answers below. For a full chat transcript, see

Q: Can you touch on what options there are for Canadians who want to stay at one of our national parks (camping, yurts, etc.)? – Nicole

Q: What is the best method to prevent bear intrusions when tent camping? I’m motorcycle-camping around the north shore of Lake Superior/Lake Huron so there is no option of keeping the food in the trunk of the vehicle. – DaveM

Q: Although I have quite a bit of family camping experience, rigging a tarp to protect from rain is still a headache. Any secrets? – Dee Hat

Q: We recently had our first camping trip and didn’t have much success with our campfire. We had put some sweet potatoes (in foil) into the fire very early but nothing really happened to them. When we took out, it was still hard and not edible. Any tips on getting a good one going for cooking? – Chris

Q: What best practices do your recommend to introduce camping to young children? (I have 3 under age 6). – Jeff

Beat the polar vortex: What to pack in case of airport delays

- January 24th, 2014

With the weather outside truly frightful and the polar vortex having made a wicked return to the northeast U.S. and Canada, flight delays have been a nasty reality for many travellers this month.

Beat the weather: Check your flight status

And as the minus-double digit temperatures continue and threats of snow this weekend make even more airport delays a real possibility, you’ll want to be prepared by checking your flight status before leaving home and packing essentials to keep you occupied and comfortable at the airport.

Wondering what to pack? has compiled a list of the best gear to bring along in case of delays, whether travelling alone or as a family.


Taiwanese Animators’ tips for how (not) to fly this holiday season

- November 28th, 2013
(Courtesy NMA Animation)

(Courtesy NMA Animation)

Air travel can be stressful no matter what time of year you’re flying. Factor in large crowds, weather delays and heavy suitcases full of presents, and it’s no wonder flying during the holidays can be an especially daunting task.

NMA Taiwanese Animators, the company behind funny viral videos depicting celebrity scandals like Tiger Woods’ cheating saga, Charlie Sheen’s “tiger blood” meltdown and the woes of Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford, has a few helpful — and some not so helpful — tips for mastering travel at this time of year.

Their latest animated video on flying during the holidays includes tips like packing only the essentials and arriving early at the airport, and also offers some very sarcastic ideas for things you can do if you want to make the flight as terrible as possible for those around you: think taking up all the space in the overhead luggage compartment, talking loudly during the flight and hogging the airplane bathroom. You probably shouldn’t throw babies down the emergency evacuation slide, either, no matter how hard they’re crying.

Watch the video below. Warning: Some of the animation gets pretty gory, especially when one guy’s lap is cut off by a reclining airplane seat.

Have your own secrets for stress-free holiday travel? Share them in our reader #SUNtraveltips of the month feature below. Just click comment now to submit yours.

Tips for travelling as a couple this holiday season

- November 26th, 2013


Travelling over the holidays — with those long lines at airports, busy roads, ever-changing weather conditions and numerous family get-togethers — can be a lot to handle, without the added stress of travelling together as a couple for the first time or, for the 80% of Transat Holidays‘ Travel Index respondents who prefer to travel with their partner, yet another year.

Travelling together can be a good gauge of your compatibility as a pair and by following a few tips from Transat Holidays‘ relationship expert Kimberly Moffit, your holiday trip as a twosome will be as smooth as a sleigh ride over freshly fallen snow.

Find Kimberly’s tips below, as well as an infographic showing more of what Canadians like and don’t like when travelling from the Transat Holidays’ 2013 Travel Index.

Tips for travelling as a couple – from Kimberly Moffit, Transat Holidays relationship expert

Q: Is there an ideal timing for a couples’ vacation?

Kimberly Moffit: It’s not really about length of time (i.e.: 3 months, 6 months, etc) but more about your level of certainty about the relationship. If you’re sure you’d like it to continue, and want to take things to the next level, a vacation is ideal. It’s very similar to meeting the parents – it can be amazing yet stressful, and is only worth the risk if you’re invested in the relationship. There’s definitely a risk for going too soon. Even if it’s ‘the one’ you’re going on vacation with, if things are too early it could eliminate some of the early, blissful experiences that you have in the early stages of getting to know each other.

Q: What is the good, bad and the ugly of travelling in a pair?

KM: Travel with a partner is extremely revealing. It gives us new information about their habits, travel preferences and we get cozy and intimate with them in a happy, relaxed environment. It can be blissful and exciting, but it can also be awkward, exhausting, and horrifying if we uncover a side of our partner that we’ve never seen before. Going on vacation presents challenges in new ways. How does your partner act when their luggage gets lost – do they tough it out, or complain so much that it ruins their entire vacation (and yours!)?

Q: What are the destination choices for a vacation with your partner?

KM: Sunny destinations that are also adventure-packed. Keep in mind each person might have a different experiences they want out of the trip. Maybe one person is a beach bum and the other wants adventure? Transat Holidays offers Duo packages which include two destinations in one to accommodate the needs of everyone.

Q: What are the top items to pack on a vacation with your partner?

KM: Pack what you’d usually pack on a vacation. A camera to make all kinds of new memories, suntan lotion for when you trek outdoors – and be sure to spice it up with some lingerie and some sexy outfits.

Q: What are the top items not to pack?

KM: Try not to bring too much work on vacation (romance-killer), good books or magazines are great but will prevent you from getting to know each other and an iPod is an instant communication blocker.

Hotel chains that charge for WiFi and ones that don’t

- November 6th, 2013


In a February 2013 survey from, it was revealed that the one thing Canadians want most in their hotel rooms is free WiFi. In today’s wired world, web access at hotels has become paramount for both business and leisure travellers who want to stay connected with work, family and friends or look up local restaurants and hot spots on the go.

It’s easy to see why Canadians would be bothered. WiFi is available free of charge at fast food chains like McDonald’s and Tim Hortons, but at some $200-a-night hotels, guests can pay up to $15 for 24 hours of WiFi or wired Internet access.

Not all hotels nickel and dime their guests for web access, though. Check out the 20 popular hotel chains below to see which ones are charging for WiFi or Internet and which are offering it to guests for free.

Trump Chicago. (Nicole Feenstra photo)

Trump Chicago


- Delta Hotels
- Fairmont Hotels (with free President’s Club membership)
- Best Western Hotels
- Trump Hotels
- Ace Hotels
- Kimpton Hotels
- Days Inn
- Holiday Inn Hotels
- Andaz Hotels
- Four Seasons Hotels

Embassy Suites Myrtle Beach. (Nicole Feenstra photo)

Embassy Suites Myrtle Beach


- Westin Hotels
- J.W. Marriott Hotels
- Embassy Suites Hotels
- Hyatt Hotels
- St. Regis Hotels
- Sheraton Hotels
- Mandarin Oriental Hotels
- Ritz-Carlton Hotels
- Waldorf Astoria Hotels
- InterContinental Hotels

For even more, check out this in-depth report from HotelChatter on hotels offering free WiFi and the ones around the world that don’t.

What kind of experiences have you had when accessing WiFi and Internet at hotels? Have you stayed at a hotel in one of the above chains that has started offering free WiFi? Sound off in the comments section below.