What You Need To Know About Travel Insurance

Do you really need to buy travel insurance? Get the facts and find out.
Do you really need to buy travel insurance? Get the facts and find out.

Chances are great that you’ve been faced with the issue of whether or not to buy travel insurance before. If you’re like most people you probably didn’t buy it, and that may have been a wise choice. However, it’s important to understand what you need to know about travel insurance if you want to make a smart decision about whether or not to use it.

The Basics

There are four kinds of travel insurance generally, along with several add-ons and variations. The big four are: Trip Cancellation, Lost Personal Effects and Baggage, Emergency Medical, and Accidental Death. Variations and add-ons include 24 Hour Traveler Assistance, Dental, Emergency Evacuation, Rental Car Collision/Damage, and Travel Delay. How much travel insurance costs depends on your age, what kind of coverage you’re getting, and the total cost of the trip. According to the Insurance Information Institute, typical policies run about 5 to 7 percent of the cost of the trip. The majority of policies are sold by travel industry professionals who also earn commissions on sales. (more…)

Pros and Cons of Using a Travel Agent

Is it still wise to use a travel agent?
Is it still wise to use a travel agent?

Traveling is so different than it once was; to book much of anything you really needed to use a travel agent. However, now that almost everything is online, you probably book a lot of travel yourself. So is there are reason to use a travel agent anymore? In reality, there are the pros and cons of using a travel agent—and also to booking online on your own:

Advice and Insight into the Industry

Pro: Agents often know the best days and times to travel, how early you should book to save the most, and which attractions and resorts are the most inviting. They are also more adept with warning you about advisories and risks, not to mention obscure must-sees that you otherwise might miss.

Con: Travel websites put most of their resources into accessing many different deals and travel options. For this reason you may be able to find all kinds of choices yourself just by searching effectively. (more…)

Great Ways to Stay Cool With Your Kids

Make this summer the best one yet for you and your kids
Make this summer the best one yet for you and your kids

Already planning on ways to beat the heat this summer? There are so many awesome things you can do with your kids to stay busy and keep cool. Check out these fun ideas:

Join the Club

Check for kids’ clubs at your local library, community center, or college. You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities are out there, especially in urban and suburban areas. Why not stay cool with your kids while getting into fun new hobbies?

Get Away

If the summer equivalent of “cabin fever” has you down, improve your outlook and your kids’ dispositions by taking a quick weekend trip. You don’t have to break the bank or take time off of work to have a really special weekend together. Head out to camp for a night or two or take in the local culture in another town, exploring just for fun as you stay cool with your kids. (more…)

What’s all this Easter Bunny Business Anyway?

Photo of a bunny in a meadow of flowersGlorious spring has finally arrived, and despite the rather mild winter us BC-ershave enjoyed these past several months, (while the lucky ones ice-climb Niagra Falls and dig themselves out of their snow-trapped houses), we can’t help but smile at the induction of spring.  Easter, a hallmark of the season, is just around the corner.  When many of us think of Easter we either think: fabulous, scrumptious brunch buffet, quality family time conversing around the table, pastel colors and festive spring designs or hunting for those notorious chocolate eggs. Oh yeah.  And then there’s the part about the resurrection of Christ.  Yes, there’s something very juxtaposing about this rather peculiar holiday.  For many, Easteris a non secular holiday – an excuse to eat more chocolate (as if we didn’t have get our fair share at Christmas and Valentine’s).  However for others, Easter is one of the most important of all religious holidays.  So how do we, as a society, reconcile the paradoxical idea of a large bunny hoping around delivering chocolate eggs in a made-to-look-like-bird-nest-basket during the night for all the little boys and girls,with the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  While most of us follow and accept these peculiar customs without a second thought, (as they are so well ingrained in our commercial culture), if we were to actually take a moment to think about why, we would find that ironically, bunnies and eggs enjoy a close symbolic relationship with Eastertide. (more…)

Weighing In: The New GMO Non-Browning Apple

gmo-appleIn this emerging world of Food Inc.-enthused, health-conscious pundits, (where magazine articles have made experts of us all in one way or another), the demand for more fresh, organic, locally-sourced and naturally-derived products has given birth not just to the hipster movement, (yes, love it or hate it) but to a whole new breed of thinkers and doers.  For the first time in decades, we, the consumer, have regained some kind of control over our food source by choosing to buy or not to buy certain products. In doing so, we bear witness to the vast social, environmental, political and fiscal implications of such power projected on a global scale.  It’s taken a little bit of time, but slowly we’re learning and growing, building our houses out of much stronger materials.  First hay, then sticks, now bricks.  For better or worse, the Information Age, has opened our hearts and minds to the endowment of knowledge, making three very healthy, nut-raised, antibiotic-free porkers out of our three little piggies and one, terrible big bad wolf from the GMO food industry. (more…)

Traveling Solo: Why You Need To Travel Alone At Least Once

Traveling alone is good for the soul.
Traveling alone is good for the soul.

Traveling is wonderful no matter how you do it, but there’s something really special about traveling solo. The first time I did it I was much younger, and although I was excited I was nervous, too. I didn’t need to be, and you don’t either; in fact, I can assure you without reservation that everyone needs to travel alone, regularly if possible, but at least once. Here’s why.

It’s All About You

We should all be ourselves all of the time, but most of us fail at this at least some of the time when surrounded by other people who want or need things from us. Traveling solo, especially far from home, you can be yourself, and you don’t care who knows it. Being able to act, eat, dress, and say whatever you feel like replenishes your reserves. (more…)

Casino Chic 2015: Best Casinos Worldwide

Some of our best casino picks for 2015
Some of our best casino picks for 2015

If nothing sounds more exciting to you than the constant, adrenaline-fueled night life of the casino, then this is your ultimate guide. Casino Chic is in full force for millions around the world, and these are the absolute best destinations worldwide for lovers of the lifestyle. Check out our list of best casinos worldwide.

Macau: City of Dreams

For the adults-only, high-end experience, spend some time at the City of Dreams on the Cotai Strip, certainly one of the best casinos worldwide. Its chief competitor, the Venetian, provides the family-friendly experience, which might detract from the whole if you’re a real aficionado. The City of Dreams boasts 420,000 square feet of space filled with lush décor and around 400 gaming tables and 1,300 gaming machines. Play baccarat, big wheel, blackjack, sic bo, fan tan, craps, whatever you like. See the hot TABOO cabaret show and watch the Red Dragon, the biggest poker tournament in Asia, which takes place every month. (more…)

Best Spring Break Trips Right Now

If you can't be here with us, do the next best thing.
If you can’t be here with us, do the next best thing.

Although most of us aren’t in school anymore, Spring Break is still a fantastic time to travel. By traveling during Spring Break you take advantage of the beautiful, temperate weather in most places, and avoid the summer travel crush. Check out our list of best Spring Break trips right now–aside from the obvious, Penticton Lakeside Resort!–for different ways to spend your week.

Best Spring Break Trips On A Shoestring

Who doesn’t need to save a buck here and there? You can enjoy a fabulous Spring Break trip without blowing your budget. Our pick? Sanibel Island, Florida. Spring Break falls within the high season for the area, but you can save money by avoiding the resorts and instead renting a condo for the week or finding a basic hotel. And one of the best ways to enjoy the island is also the cheapest: on a rented bike. (more…)

A One Way Ticket To Mars. Would you go?

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Have you ever looked up at the planets and stars littering our night skies and wondered what it would be like to travel among them?  To abscond from the familiars of our Mother’s green and blue cradle, and retrace an interplanetary narrative that began 4.5 billion years ago?  Imagine your life, a rogue earthling, funneling through the starry abyss in an ambit of alien landscapes and bottomless pockets of unknown.  How would you feel, leaving everything behind, without the gravity of correlation or context?  Life, redefined by a whole new set of doctrines and languages would work to redefine you.  The daily, leaping in a weightless state from one exotic to the next, fast becoming a series of inexplicable exploits.  Perhaps you are consumed with a fearful sort of pride.  After all, you were one among a few chosen to participate in a revolutionary, unprecedented human experiment, setting you on a one-way trajectory through space.   Blazing trail for the rest of your species, you are a kind of martyr.  You gave up a lot to be here.  Walks in the rain, breeze on your face, sounds of birds, cars, airplanes – now the echoes of a past life that haunt an endless horizon of undulating rubble.  Prints left in red dust by your space suit mark the successions of your own relativism.  Nothing in space is absolute.  It is the final frontier and the great leveler.  Out here, humanity is not what it used to be.  Instead, it is pared down to a thickening reduction.  The flavour, always on the tip of your tongue, no matter how much hot water you add to the freeze fried mush you’ve been consuming for the past year.  You don’t belong here, and yet, here you are – defying all odds in Total Recall tribute, living outside intuition and common sense by the paradox that gave birth to the dream of the red planet.  The red planet.  Mars.  Your new home.  Named after the Roman god of war, you get the sense he’s never too far away.  Your eyes scan the combat zone of your new life.   From the moment you landed, Mars has challenged you unlike you’ve ever been challenged before.  Perhaps this place may just be your redeemer.  Or maybe your destroyer.  You think about the ones you left behind. (more…)

When Broadcast News Journalism Lies: The System That Created The Myth Of Brian Williams

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.00.14 AMDistrust in the news media is not simply an extrinsic phenomenon.  Recent shock and awe over false claims of deposed MSNBC news anchor, Brian Williams, is a powerful reflection of a much greater, systemic issue.  Misplaced trust in corporate news journalism and our inherent need to openly credit any powerful institution, (mistaking power for legitimacy) proves symptomatic of a deeper social discord.  The cultural degradation we’ve been experiencing over the last several decades comes with the rising tide of an Information Revolution.  Economic, social and technological trends have propelled globalization into new, freak-show heights.  The internet, microtechnology, mobile technology and reality TV, have altogether successfully blurred the lines between authenticity and delusion, sucking news media and journalism into its black hole.  Personal opinion has made pundits of us all, dominating the news in a need for aggrandizement and melodrama.  Even Hollywood, has poked fun at the political underbelly of this social discord, treating Dan Gilroy’s neo-noir crime thriller, Nightcrawler, as a sort of, inflated exposé behind the dismal reality of news broadcasting.  Dogged by the relentless self-interest of oligarchical media giants, who control 90% of what we read, watch and listen to,  (GE, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS) profit over news serves as sensationalism in an all-out ratings war.  Feeding an addiction to drama by a public jacked up on sports and pop culture, news media distracts from the real, effecting issues of our time, disengaging an otherwise uninformed and ignorant public.  While religion controlled the populous through doctrine, language and institution in antiquity, news media labours to controls the majority through distraction and sensationalism in the 21st century. Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.00.48 AM   

No longer a safe house for receiving instructional, illuminating information about local and global current affairs, news broadcasting has become a petrie dish of the latest silver screen gossip, crime, and the kind of personal anecdotes one would associate with Reader’s Digest.  Instead of galvanizing the public with facts, news broadcasting has turned everything into a hyperbolic human interest story, falling victim to our current cultural shift from realism to surrealism.  Where do point the finger in this cat and mouse game?  Is it Brian Williams’ fault?  MSNBC?  Microsoft?  Time Warner?  Mark Zuckerberg?  Or is it us?  In this funnel of supply and demand, we are all siphoned into caricatures of our selves; our lives simulated by social media platforms, endless data streaming and the constant uploading of information.  Within this divide between dream and reality, there arrives a frightening conclusion: We are no longer able to reconnect.  Politics, current global affairs, education, the environment, food, friendships, relationships, ourselves – the world of senses and intellect is fast becoming lost upon the breakwater of our cheap information addiction.  We don’t care how we get it, or what we’re getting, so long as it stimulates our central nervous system into a feel-good frenzy.  Animated gifs of hamsters playing on pianos, blogs about the latest smoothie diets, viral Youtube videos of men dancing in women’s underwear- this is what we want.  After all, what could be more of a downer than hearing about the details of federal election platforms, the global warming crisis, foreign policy, and the war in the middle east?  News networks have their work cut out for them. (more…)