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travel &adventure guide


Display until December 2018

tips & resources for local and international family travel

Brought to you by Featuring must-know travel recommendations from of Travel Best Bets


travel & adventure guide


travel &adventure guide

“Travel: the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” Planning a big European trip a couple of years ago, someone asked why we would take such young kids travelling when they really wouldn’t remember most of it. My reply was that if I only did things they remembered in the early years, we’d hardly leave the house! Two years later, we still reminisce about so many special times, discoveries, and places that we saw and experienced on that trip - and on our other trips too. It isn’t just about the memories, but about the moments we created and how that has helped shape who they are today. They know there is a big world out there waiting to be discovered, and I love that. Not everyone can pick up and go on an airplane with their family, but travel and adventure can happen close to home too. Exploring nature and history is not only fascinating, but good for the soul too. Here on the West Coast we have so many opportunities to venture out with our kids to do just that, and some of the best places are close to home. This Family Travel & Adventure Guide is intended to inspire you to create those amazing moments, so start planning! Publisher & Managing Editor

Publisher & Managing Editor, Andrea Vance Assistant Editor, Bianca Bujan Contributing Editor, Jodi Iverson Art Director & Layout, Krysta Furioso Administration, Jennifer Bruyns Accounts Receivable & Payable, Jennifer Brule Advertising, Contributors, Claire Newell, Michele Kambolis, Bianca Bujan, Alyssa Bauman

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Travel Tips

Safety Travel Tips Money-Saving Travel Tips

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Family-Friendly Destinations

Los Cabos

Eating on the Go

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Cruising with kids

Kids Clubs Preparing for Summer Camp

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How To Avoid The Most Common Family Travel Mistakes

by Claire Newell of Travel Best Bets

Even the most carefully planned trip can be riddled with problems, but with a little insider know-how, you can avoid making these common mistakes. Here are some of the challenges that often arise when booking your fun family getaway.

Mistake #1: Waiting too long to apply for or renew your passport. Routine passport processing can take anywhere from 2 - 4 weeks, so I recommend that as soon as you start planning for your trip, check the dates on your passport, paying close attention to the expiry date. If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately. You can pay for a ‘rush passport’ if you are in a pinch, but it will cost you about $110 in addition to the regular processing fees to speed up the process. Also, some countries require that your passport have at least 3 - 6 months left before your passport expiry date, and this timeline is counted starting from the last day of your visit to the country - not the first. It is common for people to accidentally calculate the validity from the date of entry, so make sure that you calculate using the correct dates!

Mistake #2: Not checking to see if other travel documents will be required. Check if you require other travel documents or vaccines to travel before your departure date arrives, because sometimes, a passport may not be enough. You may need a visa, proof of vaccinations, an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), a notarized letter if only one parent is travelling with kids, and so on. Visit to find out all of the entry and exit requirements for the country you are visiting, and arrive at the airport fully prepared with your completed documents in hand.

Mistake #3: Not booking enough connection time between non-direct flights. Speaking of not allowing enough time, another mistake I see is not booking enough connection time between flights.


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Leaving a window of at least one and a half hours between connecting flights will significantly drop your chances of missing your flight or having your luggage lost. You don’t want a delayed flight to delay your vacation time too!

Mistake #4: Booking accommodations without researching first. Now one thing that I consistently tell travellers, is to do adequate research. I can’t emphasize this enough. When it comes to booking a hotel this is very important. One of the worst mistakes people make is underestimating the location of their hotel from the city center or where you want to spend the most time. This can cost you in unnecessary transfer costs or even a car rental if attractions are just too far. Even if the hotel is cheaper, you need to weigh in the hassle and added costs of having to travel back and forth to get where you want to go.

Mistake #5: Trying to cram too much into one trip. Another travel mistake is trying to do too much in one trip. This can cause a lot of stress and burnout, and defeats the purpose of booking a holiday! Make a list of “musts” and “maybes” and go from there. Allow for some scheduling flexibility, and book in some time for rest too. Mistake #6: Don’t get caught in the tourist traps. And finally, wherever you are travelling, I highly recommend venturing off the beaten path. Avoid the ‘tourist trap’ excursions - they are expensive and not the way to get an authentic experience of the destination. Do your research online before you go, or ask for recommendations from your travel agent or friends who have explored the destination.

Top 5 Family-Friendly Places to Visit in 2018 by Claire Newell of Travel Best Bets Maui: Hawaii has long been a top destination for West Coast families looking to escape winter thanks to its stunning beaches, sparkling blue water, and kidfriendly activities. The Valley Isle offers some amazing chances to enjoy nature, and the Seven Sacred Pools (Pools at ‘Ohe’o Gulch) feature cascading waterfalls and plunge pools. Hawaii’s Nature Center and the Maui Ocean Center are also great places for little ones to learn about the state’s natural environment. Book This: Maui, Hawaii: July 6 - August 20. Package includes air & 7 nights hotel in a 1 bedroom suite. Adults from $1069 + $249 tax and children aged 2-17 from $399 + $125 tax. Kelowna: Just a few hours drive, or under an hour flight away from Vancouver, Kelowna can get overlooked when brainstorming destinations. With its laid-back lifestyle and natural glories, it should definitely be added to your list of places to visit in 2018. This nearby lake city is perfect for families, and if you thought you couldn’t go on a vineyard tour with the family in tow, think again! Kids can join in on stomping the grapes, taste their very own “wine” (juice), and explore the castle-like structures of the wineries. Book This: Kelowna, BC: May 22 - June 13, Jul 4 - Aug 28. Package includes a 2 night hotel stay. Available from $399 + $78 tax for family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children under 18). Puerto Vallarta: At first glance, Puerto Vallarta may seem like any other big resort town, however there’s actually so much more, giving you the best of both worlds. Relax by the pool, stroll through the cobblestone Zona Romántica, or explore the lush jungle-covered mountains. With natural sights and activities as

well as all the benefits and conveniences of all-inclusive resorts, Puerto Vallarta is the perfect family destination. Book This: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: May 19 - June 23. Package includes air, 7 nights all-inclusive resort and transfers. Adults from $799 + $461 tax per adult and children 2 - 12: $499 + $431 tax per child. Ireland: Ireland is known as the “Emerald Isle” for its lush landscape that is lined with medieval castles, history, and breathtaking natural sites. Explore Dublin, stand over the Cliffs of Moher, or explore medieval castles - there are so many places to explore. Visit the 19th century town of Killarney, where your kids will feel like they’re living in a fairy tale, or walk along the natural steps of the Giants Causeway. They’ll never forget this trip! Book This: Ireland Self Drive - June 6 or 13. Package includes air, 7 nights accommodation, breakfast daily, and car rental. Adults from $1399 + $576 tax per adult and children aged 2 - 11 from $1339 + $546 tax per child. Anaheim: Home to Disneyland, Angel Stadium and year-round sun, Anaheim is bound to be a hit for every member of the family. Theme parks are a big draw to this area, but there are other things to do as well, such as the Flightdeck Flight Simulation Center, where you can experience what it’s like to be a pilot; Universal Studios, where you can get an inside peek at classic movie sets; and day trips to cities like Los Angeles and Orange County. Book This: Anaheim, California. June 5 - Aug 27. Package includes air, 4 nights hotel, breakfast daily and airport transfers. Adults from $649 + $215 tax and children aged 2-11 from $299 + $125 tax per child.

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All Aboard! Cruising with kids by Claire Newell of Travel Best Bets


espite what many may think, cruise lines these days are very family friendly. Although I have heard people say that they would never cruise with kids, it can actually be an enjoyable experience - if done right. I wouldn’t hesitate to take children on the right cruise, as long as it offers features that fit the needs of everyone involved. Here are a few items to help you pick the right cruise for your family, so you can enjoy a stress-free getaway on the sea.

Booking a room If your children are old enough to stay in their own room, book cabins across the hall from each other. You could book a more expensive outside cabin for the adults, and the kids could stay in an inside, cheaper cabin. The kids will love the freedom of having their own space, and you’ll love the privacy while still having the kids nearby. To stay in touch, consider taking two-way radios as you likely won’t have cell service and WIFI prices are extreme - especially for an entire family. Just remember to take extra batteries with you, and make sure to take a two-way radio model that has both channel and code selections. On some larger ships, you may run into someone using the same channel, so switch to a different channel. Older children who are used to having a phone on them at all times will feel more comfortable with even this “outdated” mode of communication.

Claire’s Tip: I recommend that families book two cabins, and take a baby monitor. You can leave the monitor on all the time to keep track of your kids. I find it helps mom and dad feel a whole lot better at night.

Tips for families of five or more I know from experience that finding a cruise line to accommodate a family of five can sometimes be tricky - especially when the kids are young and you all want to be in one cabin. There are several cruise lines that can comfortably hold larger families, including Carnival, Disney, Princess and Royal Caribbean. Typically, the cabin configuration includes two lower beds, two upper berths, and a rollaway cot. Most suites also accommodate up to five occupants, with a typical configuration of two lower beds, a sofa bed that accommodates two, and a rollaway cot. Some ships also offer connecting cabins - perfect for larger families!

Kids programs These days most major cruise lines offer year-round youth programs, with on-board counsellors and fun activities to entertain children of all ages - from morning until night. Youth programs start at different ages depending on the cruise line, usually allowing kids who are three years and older to participate in the programs. Most will only accept kids who are potty trained, however, some cruise lines have nurseries to take care of diaper-dependent infants too. Claire’s Tip: If you plan on taking a toddler on a cruise and are worried about them falling out of the bed, take a collapsible bed rail. Safety 1st makes one that can fit into a large suitcase. I have travelled with it many times!

Great family cruise options 7 NIGHT ALASKA CRUISE Cruise only, roundtrip from Vancouver Ship: Mercury with Celebrity Cruises Itinerary: Vancouver, at sea, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier, Ketchikan, at sea, Vancouver Departs: Aug 24 1st & 2nd passenger: $759 3rd & 4th passenger: $369 (plus $362 port and tax fees)

7 NIGHT ANAHEIM CRUISE & STAY Air (from Vancouver), 3 nights hotel in Anaheim, 4 nights cruise & transfers Itinerary: LA, San Diego, Catalina Island, Ensenada, LA Hotel: Clarion Anaheim Ship: Monarch of the Seas 1st & 2nd passenger: $899 3rd & 4th passenger: $499 (plus $262 port and tax fees)

3 NIGHT PACIFIC COASTAL THANKSGIVING CRUISE Cruise only Itinerary: Seattle, Victoria, Nanaimo, Seattle Ship: Mercury with Celebrity Cruises Departs: Oct 5 1st & 2nd passenger: $229 3rd & 4th passenger: $69 (plus $134 port and tax fees)

7 NIGHT HAWAII CRUISE Air (from Vancouver), 7 night cruise, and transfers Itinerary: Honolulu, Kauai(x2), Hilo, Kona, Maui(x2), Honolulu Ship: Pride of Aloha Departs: August 5 1st & 2nd passenger: $1699 3rd & 4th passenger: $999 (plus $406 port and tax fees)

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Keep Your Kids Safe Abroad Products & tips for packing, preparing and prevention by Claire Newell of Travel Best Bets


s parents, it is our natural instinct to fear for our children’s safety and overall well-being. In preparation for and while on vacation, safety precautions for young children can often be placed on the back burner while we anticipate fun and relaxation away from home. Here a few items you can pack with you for peace of mind, so that you can relax and enjoy the vacation!

Pre-Travel Preparation Although we would love to keep our kids in a helmet and a suit made of bubble wrap around the clock, we can’t. Luckily, there are great alternatives for keeping our precious cargo out of harm’s way. On any trip, ensure your child packs his day-to-day safety knowledge with him. Make sure he can answer the following questions: • Do you know what to do if you are lost? Stay put! It is easier to retrace steps. • Do you know who to ask for help? Ask another mommy or an employee. • Do you know what to eat or not eat? Never take food or drink from strangers. Your pre-travel preparations should always include the following: • Bring a current picture of your child. • Research weather and pack to dress accordingly (avoid hyper/ hypothermia). • Review insurance policies so that if you have to cancel or if you are in transit, you know your options. • Prepare for the “just in case” situations of altitude sickness or getting stuck in airports or on runaways. Pack your carry-on to accommodate your 24-hour needs (diapers, change of clothes, and instant oatmeal for an easy meal on-the-go). • Pack a safety kit with Band-Aids, Aspirin, Neosporin and even rubber bands (for hotel safety proofing). • Visit to find a great list of rental options around the world for the items you do not wish to bring. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children have their own seats on airplanes, and that they be strapped in with their car seat at all times. As parents, we wrestle with the cost of purchasing a separate seat. It is tempting to save money and let your baby or 2 year old sit in your lap, but turbulence happens, so safety should be top of mind. Preparation tips include: • Ensure your car seat is FAA approved. Many flight attendants will now ask to see the label as you board the plane. • Note that a car seat wider than 16 inches sometimes does not fit in a coach seat. • Be aware that it is a regulation that a child in a car seat must sit at the window and not in aisle or an exit row. • Inform the airline in advance that you will be travelling with a car seat. Seat belt extenders will be needed and are not always available. You do not want to miss your flight due to not having them aboard. You may want to purchase an in-flight harness or a seat belt protector (which prevents the child from unbuckling).

At the Pool or Beach For safety at the pool or on the beach, there are many options to pack or purchase.

Sun Burn Prevention Products Floating Cabanas come with leg holes to let your baby experience the swimming motion but will keep him or her safely above water. The lightweight plastic cabana shelter provides shade from harmful UV rays. UV Protection Sun Suits are one piece, zippered suits covering from elbow to calf, which means fewer places to apply sunscreen. They are intended to block 98% of the sun’s ultra violet rays. Sunscreen Stick is a genius invention. It is about the size of a glue stick with the same dispenser function - perfect for applying sunscreen to the face and ears of a wiggly toddler without getting it in their eyes, ears or mouth. Continuous Spray Sunscreen is perfect for the kid who despises standing still while you slather him with sunscreen. (Don’t they all?) The aerosol spray allows you to evenly disperse the protection. Kids Sunglasses are very important on vacations where kids will spend time in direct sunlight. Many experts believe our eyes get 80 percent of their total lifetime exposure to the sun’s UV rays by age 18. Let your kids pick their sunglasses style and colour and they will be more likely to wear them. Ensure they provide 100% UV protection.

Drowning Prevention Products Swim Training Float Suits are UV protected with an unsinkable foam pad insert to keep your little ones afloat. Pool Alarm Wristbands lock comfortably around your child’s wrist and the electronic is always ‘on’. When wristband hits the water an alarm is emitted by the base unit located inside your home or out by the pool. Pool Alarm devices clip easily on the ledge of any pool. An electronic sensor sets off a loud pulsating alarm when someone enters the water. A remote receiver also sounds the alarm in your home when it is activated at the pool. This is ideal for home use or private vacation pools, though not as appropriate for a shared pool.

Lost Child Prevention Losing Your Child on vacation is a parent’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, there are identification and locator products available. Temporary Tattoos are hypoallergenic tattoos on which you can write (with waterproof pen) medical conditions, allergies and “if lost” instructions. Velcro Waterproof ID Bracelets provide vital information if your child wanders off and gets lost. Child Locator Device is attached to your child’s clothing. The parent retains a small keychain transmitter that when pressed, sets off a high-decibel chirping alarm on the locator, drawing instant attention to your child. Note: it only works when within 150 feet. Find My Friends is an app that allows you to share your location with your family and see theirs in real time. If your children are old enough to have phones, set up this feature all together before you leave so that everyone will always know where the rest of the family is. The best bet for travelling safely with your children is to pack and prepare in order to prevent any obstacles that may get in the way of achieving your fun-filled family vacation. travel & adventure guide



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Photo courtesy of Hilton Los Cabos

Los Cabos, Mexico 10 things to do in Los Cabos with kids by Bianca Bujan As I strolled through the sun-drenched streets of San Jose del Cabo, I nearly tripped over a cherub-faced, chocolate-skinned toddler. She flashed her chicklet teeth my way - her eyes sparkling wildly as she tried to spread her contagious smile to my relaxed lips, and as she gripped her fist tightly around her mother’s two-fingered grasp, she attempted a step towards me, giggling wildly as she reached her right arm out - as if reaching for my hand. In that moment I realized that it wasn’t me that she was reaching for - instead, her attention was focused on a cart strung with over a dozen rainbowcoloured balloons, positioned directly behind me. I smiled at her beaming mother as she rushed past me, hunched over her hurried toddler - a quick nod, warm smile, and friendly “Hola!” shared as our paths crossed. For the mother-daughter duo, this was a typical Thursday afternoon, enjoying the family-friendly festivities of the weekly Art Walk - dancing to the live music, cooling down with ice pops, and revelling in the colourful artwork that lined the streets. For me, this was just a taste of all that San Jose del Cabo had to offer. As a parent I find it just as challenging to select a destination for family travel as it is to book our stay. While I love the classic getaway choices for travel with kids, I’m also intrigued by those lesser-known spots, where our family can enjoy a laid-back, warm-weather stay, dabbled with a few fully-immersive cultural experiences to give my kids a taste of the world that exists away from home. Los Cabos is a destination that offers the perfect balance of downtime and upbeat happenings. Here are 10 ways to explore the best of Los Cabos with kids in tow. 1) Swim and splash in the Sea of Cortez. For a more laid-back beach day, head to the strip of beach located directly in front of the Hilton Los Cabos,


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offering an expansive, swimmable white-sand beach, and the cool blue water of the Sea of Cortez. This is one of the only swimmable beaches in Los Cabos, and a great spot to see whales during whale-watching season. For a livelier beach scene, head to Medano beach, which runs parallel to the popular harbour strip in Cabo San Lucas. This bustling beach is the hot spot for watersports, and the departing destination for many whale-watching tours and dinner cruises. 2) Take in turtle hatching. From July to November, the Olive Ridley sea turtles climb onto the stretch of beach located in front of the Hilton Los Cabos, where sea turtles dig their nests, and lay their eggs. Dedicated to the protection of this turtle species, a team at Hilton Los Cabos patrols a 10-mile stretch of beachfront from El Dorado to El Tule every day to ensure the safety of these turtles during their hatching period. The team monitors the number of nests, moves eggs to a corral, and coordinates the safe release of the newly-hatched sea turtles. Guests can watch the magic of the new baby turtles working their way towards the sea - as long as they keep their distance! 3) Peruse and play at the Organic Farmers Market. The Los Cabos Organic Market at Pedregal is the perfect place to spend the morning with family. Open Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year, the market is a great way to get a taste of the culture and cuisine of Los Cabos. Sample the fresh fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers, lunch on freshlybaked goods, smell the flowers and herbs grown locally, and listen to live music as you peruse the grounds. Kids can play on bouncy castles, enjoy arts and crafts, and sample sweets as you shop the handmade keepsakes made by local artisans.

4) Dine and delight at Acre Baja. Opened by partners Cam Watt (owner of the popular Keefer Bar in Vancouver’s thriving Chinatown neighbourhood), and fellow Vancouverite Stuart McPherson, this lush 25-acre sanctuary is a must-visit hidden gem, tucked in the foothills of Los Cabos. Not only is the farm-totable fare an absolute treat for the taste buds, but the property boasts its own organic farm, complete with friendly farm animals (look for “Burrito” the baby donkey and a gaggle of goats housed on the property). Sample mezcal in the swanky on-site tasting room, take a peek at the elegant treehouses, and sit by the modern pool surrounded by lush greenery. This is the perfect spot to enjoy upscale dining in a unique, laid-back atmosphere, and best of all, kids are welcome. 5) Take a hands-on, farm-to-table culinary excursion and cooking class. Hilton Los Cabos has created the ultimate farm-to-table foraging and cooking class for those guests who want to fully immerse themselves in the local culinary scene. During this unique excursion, guests visit an off-property farm and are given a basket to pick seasonal fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs to gather from the crops in the fields framed by mountains. The group then returns to the hotel for a four-course instructional cooking class with the chef, incorporating their freshly hand-picked local ingredients to create local dishes. 6) Cycle through the Wirikuta Cactus Garden. Hop on a bike and take a spin through this beautiful botanical garden located in San Jose del Cabo, featuring over 1,500 different kinds of cacti from Africa, South America, and Mexico. Stop and snap photos of the 3 on-site rock pyramids, and enjoy the calm amongst a sea of cacti. 7) Explore the Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo. Between the months of November and June, locals and visitors can gather in the Gallery District of San Jose del Cabo for a weekly celebration of the arts. Each Thursday night from 5-9pm, enjoy

live music while strolling through the decorated streets, sipping on cold cervesas and admiring the work of local artists in the galleries and on the bustling streets. You’ll love the artsy atmosphere, and your kids will love the candy carts, street performances, and eye-catching shops.

mingle with locals while gazing at the colourful sky, and then feast on dinner at Zipper’s or Dante’s restaurants, located steps from the beach.

8) Watch for whales in Cabo San Lucas. A visit to Los Cabos wouldn’t be complete without an up-close viewing of the humpback and gray whales that migrate to the region between the months of December and April. Whales head to the Baja Coast of Mexico to calve during this season, so you can spot the spray from their spouts regularly from the shores of the beach, but for an incredibly magical view of these beautiful baleen whales, a boat-side viewing is best.

The infinity pool alone is reason enough to stay at the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort, but the property boasts so much more, including unique experiential guest programming that infuses culture with cuisine for an unforgettable Mexican experience.

9) Shop, sip, and stroll at the Marina Cabo San Lucas. This upbeat waterfront hotspot is home to dozens of hotels, restaurants and shops, the perfect place to enjoy a seaside stroll and pick up some souvenirs before you head home from your Los Cabos vacation. 10) Watch the sunset with local families at Playa Costa Azul. Best known as the top spot for sophisticated surfers (world famous Zippers and La Roca surf breaks can be found here), Playa Costa Azul (Blue Coast Beach) is also a local favourite for hanging with family while taking in the most beautiful Mexican sunsets on the coast of Baja California Sur. Pack up your kids and

Where to Stay

Direct access to one of the only swimmable beaches in Los Cabos, and on and off site fullyimmersive cultural and culinary excursions fit for the whole family (interactive pinata classes, Miraflores farm-to-table foraging and cooking excursion, and turtle hatching) are only some of the property’s highlights. Relax poolside at one of two deluxe pools, sip on a carefully-prepared cocktail at one of the swim-up bars, and watch as your kids play on the pool-adjacent playground or participate in fun and games at the Cabo Kids club. Add to that a bevy of world-class, award-winning restaurants, and the friendliest staff you’ll ever meet, and you’ll find yourself at the perfect oasis by the sea. Learn more about this laid-back luxury property by visiting

Where in the world is Los Cabos? Located at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, Los Cabos is a region sandwiched between two seas - the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Comprised of Cabo San Lucas, and San Jose del Cabo, Los Cabos is the perfect marriage of desert land and beachfront beauty, with accommodations and amenities fit for every lifestyle.

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Join the Club A guide to the best kids clubs by Claire Newell of Travel Best Bets


love going to all-inclusive resorts with my family. Not only is there peace of mind knowing that food and beverages will be included in our stay, but there are endless amenities that are fun for the whole family!

Most resorts offer kids club programs to keep the youngest travellers entertained throughout their stay. When my kids were young, I usually had to drag them away from the kid clubs when we were on vacation - they loved them! Not only did they offer tons of fun activities, but they’re great for parents too. Knowing your child is safe and having fun allows you to relax and enjoy your vacation. Children are kept busy with an array of creative activities, like sports, and arts & crafts. Many resorts will even take your children for meals at the on-site restaurant, and play with them in the pool. Most programming is designed for children ages four to twelve, but parents of younger kids can arrange for an on-site babysitter or book a resort that has a nursery offering ‘baby duty’ programs. Kids clubs can be great for parents and kids alike, and the good news is that reports of incompetence at hotel kids clubs are extremely rare. Even better news is that there are a number of criteria you can check out in advance to ensure that you and your kids have the best possible experience. A lot of information will be on the resort’s website, but if you want more information, you can phone the resort prior to booking and speak to the director of the kids’ club program, who should be able to answer any questions you may have. First, ask about the child-to-staff ratios. For every three toddlers and infants, there should be one staff member. For older children, there can be as many as twelve per staff member. Staff members should be qualified in first aid and CPR, and, where appropriate, should be trained as lifeguards. In a foreign setting, someone on the staff should speak English well enough so that your child can communicate his or her needs. There should also be security measures that include a system to limit access to authorized people only, and to ensure that kids are handed over only to approved parents and caregivers. Safeguards such as secured doors should prevent children from leaving on their own. However, parents should also be able to visit whenever they want, with all areas open to them. All staff should also be thoroughly screened – at minimum a criminal records report, a reference check, and an in-depth interview. Ideally, at least one staff member - usually the director, should be formally trained in early childhood education/development. Bathrooms should be designed specifically for children, including having stall doors that allow youngsters to be monitored yet still have privacy. At the absolute minimum, children should not be allowed to enter public restrooms without staff supervision, and areas should be as open as possible or, where practical, should have windows to avoid any spaces where the supervisors can’t see the kids. Children should also be properly supervised during naps, when the two-adult rule is especially important.

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Finally, the kids club staff should be able to reach parents at all times, either by cell phone or via a pager provided by the program. Don’t forget to leave all necessary information with them so they can reach you if needed. I usually have to drag my kids away from the kids clubs when it’s time to go because they always have a blast, and I’m sure your kids will too!

My picks for the resorts with the best kids clubs There are tons of resorts with outstanding kids clubs, but these ones in particular stand out for me. I definitely recommend looking at TripAdvisor to read reviews from past guests with children for more insight as well. Crown Paradise Club, Cancun: This resort has a mini club for ages 4-12, a baby club for ages 18 months to 3 years, and a teen area, with activities and water slides for ages 13 to 17. There is also an on-site water park with pirate ship, and eight water slides. Each evening from 9 to 10pm, kids of all ages can enjoy nightly themed shows, which include favourites like Barney, The Little Mermaid, Shrek and more. Melia Puerto Vallarta: This kids program features a baby club for ages 4 months to 4 years, a group for 5 to 8 year olds, and the cool club for up to 14 years old. There is a wide array of fun for all ages, including educational activities, a climbing wall, kids shows, and a teen disco. This resort even offers kid-friendly hotel rooms that are specifically designed for families. Beaches (various locations): Beaches offers something for everyone - from babies to grandparents. For babies and toddlers under 4, there’s a pirate themed mini waterpark, a choo choo train that tours around the tropical property, and your child’s favourite cartoon characters. Kids 4 and up will love the waterparks, Xbox play lounge, and scuba program. Tweens and teens who want to feel a little more grown up can hang out and meet new friends in Club Liquid, or try out every arcade game or water sport they can imagine. Club Med Punta Cana: Club Med is a chain famed for its outstanding kid programs, with dedicated sub groups for kids of all ages. They also have programs for infants from 4 months to 2 years old. Most of the time, kids 4 and up are out and about doing fun activities, enjoying the large playground and kiddie pool. Older kids can try out their trapeze skills, or perform in the weekly mini club show, and teens can enjoy designated high tech equipment and activities in the “password” area.

Money-Saving Travel Tips For families on a budget by Claire Newell of Travel Best Bets


pring break, summer vacation, and winter break are by far the most popular times for family vacations, and judging by the peak season prices in the marketplace that I have seen year after year, the travel providers always gear up to take advantage of the increased demand during these time periods. No matter what your plans are for your family vacation – whether it be camping in a provincial park, or visiting Southern California for a week – there are strategies to help you stay on budget. ‘Budgeting’ is the most important part of the puzzle, but you need to have one in place, in order to stick to it.

Avoid high-cost hotels. Compare prices between mega search sites and the hotel’s online booking site. Booking through third party sites downgrades your status which can leave you without many of the amenities and perks that direct bookings receive, as well as the better rooms and views. Ask about lower-rate packages (AAA, senior, family, weekend), and check out sites like Pruvo for last-minute price drops.

Start by figuring out how long you want to go away, and how much you have available to spend. Then, use some of the following strategies to help you stay on track for your next trip. Plan your budget before you book. A flight may be cheaper to one destination over another, but that doesn’t mean the entire trip will end up being cheaper overall. Compare the cost of living in each destination (an easy way to do this is through the ‘cost of living’ tab on Take into account how much you’ll need to spend on activities, food, and transportation as well. Find low-fare flights. Canadian charter airlines (Air Transat, Air Canada Vacations, WestJet Vacations, Sunwing) often offer the most competitive rates on flights and packages. You can also check out low-cost carriers (Ryanair, EasyJet, Frontier, Air Asia) which fly to the most popular destinations, although sometimes to airports located just outside of the city, and their prices are very competitive. Be flexible. When looking into any flight, remember that flexibility is key. If you can stay an extra day or two, or leave a day or two earlier, it may bring down the price substantially. You can also potentially save hundreds of dollars by booking a connecting flight - some layovers can be short and sweet. Also, if you are flexible, make sure you check a range of dates. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually cheaper to fly, while Fridays and Sundays are often most expensive. Book your tours before you go. Buy tour tickets in advance to save on unwanted costs and avoid long line-ups. If you decide to book last minute, check online first to see if they offer same-day e-tickets.

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Eating on the Go How to stay well nourished on vacation by Alyssa Bauman of


ravelling is a huge part of our lives - it seems as if we’re always planning and dreaming up our next adventure. Since the kids were little, feeling jet-lagged and zonked, sleeping in different spots, being out of sorts, and living outside of our comfort zones and completely off our daily routines has just been a part of our lives. The fact is, travel is the best form of personal growth - even if that means sometimes sacrificing what makes us feel our best: eating as healthy as possible and getting regular sleep. But with a little ingenuity and know-how, you won’t stray too far off track while exploring the unbeaten path. Here are some tips to help you stay on track during your next trip.

Eat locally. Prepare before you leave. Spend a few minutes researching healthy restaurants and farmers markets that can be found in and around your destination. Eating out can be expensive, so make sure to look for supermarkets, local shops, and the restaurants where locals eat. These are sometimes the best ways to experience the city’s pulse, the local culture, and the freshest produce. Look for clean foods like fresh indigenous fruits and veggies, avocados, nuts and seeds. During our travels to Thailand, jackfruit, mangoes, mangosteen, coconuts and crazy spices were part of our everyday eating. Trying the foods from the trees was actually one of the best parts of the experience. We have never tasted mangoes so sweet, and mangosteen - the all-mighty cancerpreventing superfood, was omnipresent and probably the best thing we have ever tasted, not to mention it made the perfect little travel companion. Eat locally, and you will not only experience some of the best foods, but also get a true sense of another culture.

Take a food tour. If you are going somewhere completely foreign to you, take a food tour and learn about the indigenous foods from the area. One tour we did as a family was with Asia Transpacific Journeys. We biked along the streets of Chiang Mai, through different neighbourhoods, and ate where the locals eat. On our bike route, our tour guide pointed out all of the exotic fruits growing in the region—jackfruit, durian, rambutan, langsat, longan, and we stopped and tasted them all - right there on the spot! Afterwards, we were led through the markets sampling the fruits again while learning about their health benefits. In the markets we also tasted, saw, and touched Thai rice, learned about the coconut grinding process, and discovered the curry culture. I had never seen children so engaged in their foods and willing to taste new things - although no one braved the fried crickets!

Enjoy a hands-on cooking class. Cooking classes are also a fun way to get a feel for a region. At the heart of every culture is their labour of the land. Don’t be shy, ask them to to focus on their local fruits and vegetables. Knowing about healthy eating and shopping options can ease stress and provide amazing opportunities to try something new. Here are a few resources to help guide you:

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Claire and family in China For vegans and vegetarians: For local farm enthusiasts:

Bring your tools. Every adventure requires the right tools, and it’s no different for healthy eating. The world is not built to provide you with the best food for your health, so a little creativity is needed. These tools can help you feel prepared in almost any situation: Water Bottle: Arm yourself with a stainless steel or glass water battle. Make sure to keep refilling it if you are going somewhere where drinking water from the tap is safe. If not, make sure to always buy bottled water and have it on hand. Staying hydrated is a huge key to staying healthy and keeping the crank at bay! If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Cutlery: Bring your own - I love bamboo cutlery. Going to farmers markets is the best way to discover local cuisine and culture and if you have your own cutlery, it makes trying new foods that much easier.

Get your snacks. Arming yourself with some smart snacks and supplements can create a sense of comfort and regularity while venturing out. I suggest travelling with small bags of chia and hemp seeds. These little seeds pack in a nutrient punch, can be added to almost anything, and provide extra protein, omega and fiber. I load up on single servings of green powder. It’s my fresh green juice substitute providing boosts of energy, protein, and phytonutrients that might not be easily available otherwise. I seriously drink 2-3 of these while I fly. Depending on how long we are away, I pre-pack bags of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. These are easy to pack, compact and don’t perish. Don’t skimp on the snacks, whole fruits and healthier packaged foods. When you find a good place to purchase them, stock up on more than you think you will need. You will be happy you did when you’re exploring a museum or walking a new city with no food in sight.

Here are more of my favourite tips to help keep you on the healthy track during your travels: Supplements. It can be annoying to carry a lot of supplements while travelling and I personally believe our bodies need a break from them. But these are my essentials to pack along: a) a high-quality multi is useful to make sure your bases are covered because you may not be eating as well as you do when you’re home, and b) probiotics - these are a serious life saver. I take them every day, but while travelling I double up and have my children take them too. As a result, we seriously never have any stomach issues, no matter what we experiment eating. Take Care. Self care is a essential when travelling. It’s very easy to get out of our routine and our health can quickly suffer. If you’re changing time zones, your internal clock will need a little help to get you back on track.

Sleep. Make sure to get it. Lavender essential oil truly helps with the calm and the kids enjoy it on their pillows. Of course, remember to bring their favourite stuffy or other attachment item from home which will really help to get them settled into bed. Get Your Sweat On. Exercise seriously helps jet lag. When you arrive at your destination, do some light cardio or weights. I bring a jump rope - it’s the perfect ultra light exercise tool and my girls and I have so much fun with it. We often eat more when we travel, so we try doing a workout before we have a big meal. This helps to increase insulin sensitivity, encourages healthier eating, and keeps you from packing on the pounds. Do Your Best. Sometimes we may try to eat really clean while travelling and then we end up not eating enough. The added stress of travel can result in hangry binge episodes. To keep this from happening, make sure to eat enough nourishing foods each day.

Nourishing yourself while travelling is all about continuing the good habits that you have instilled in yourself at home. Use your vacation time not only to explore the world around you, but to discover and dive into a healthy selfcare practice. A little prep and planning can turn the challenge of healthy travelling into an adventure of a lifetime.

Certified holistic nutritionist and health consultant, Alyssa Bauman, founded Nourished {a health consulting firm} six years ago when she was constantly being asked for healthy living advice. It’s not as difficult as it seems, that’s where Alyssa comes in and guides you through whatever your nutritional needs may be. When she isn’t upgrading food choices, she will be playing in the park with with her most treasured muses—her three daughters.

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Preparing for Summer Camp Is your child ready? by Michele Kambolis


ummer camp season is just around the corner, and for many, it’s a natural solution to occupy children with enriching and new experiences during the summer months. Some children adapt to the challenge seamlessly, while others are filled with apprehension - or even full-blown anxiety. How you prepare your child for this milestone can make all the difference. With these tips you’ll be sending your child off, knapsack in tow, feeling confident and ready for new adventures. Have a practice run. Having a sleepover at a friend or family member’s house can help increase your child’s confidence. Not only does it provide the practice to master sleepover success, it gives them a new sense of capability and independence. Larger group sleepovers can help children learn how to manage group living, including keeping their belongings organized, and falling asleep in a room filled with chatty peers. Going camping as a family can be a great way to help children understand what camping entails, including how to handle flashlights, bugs, sleeping in cabins, and exploring the great outdoors. Let them know what to expect. Practical information, like where they’ll be sleeping and what kinds of activities they’ll be doing, can front load your child with a greater awareness of what to expect. Share pictures of the camp itself by looking online together. Your child will almost always want to know how they can reach you. Keep in mind, camps have various communication policies. Make sure you and your child are comfortable with the communication guidelines that are in place. If you’re not able to speak over the phone, decide on an alternate way to connect. Email contact, or going old school and letter writing can do the trick, but make sure your child knows how often to expect communication to ensure they aren’t left wondering why you haven’t reached out. Include your child in the planning. Sleepover summer camps are supposed to be exciting, but there are a lot of unknowns. When a child is included in packing their own bag, they can feel a greater sense of control, which can greatly reduce potential stress. Follow the camp’s packing list guidelines and teach your child how to manage toiletries and wet and dirty clothes. Children often want to bring stuffies and other soothing objects. If they do bring one along, make sure it’s one your child can tolerate getting dirty or even lost. Enlist another supportive adult. Ask the camp administrator if you can speak to your child’s camp counsellors in advance, so you can share a little about your child and ways to best meet their needs if a struggle arises. Find out an interesting tidbit of information about your child’s designated counsellors to bridge the attachment gap. Knowing that the adult who will be looking after them has a pet, a child of their own, or a shared interest, can be reassuring for a nervous child. Make time to talk about fears. Children can have a whole host of feelings when it comes to overnight events. Excitement about the adventure, fears of being away from mom or dad, or anxiety about fitting in can all come up. Be ready to support whatever emotions they express, and to soothe your child with both reassurance and potential solutions.

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Find out what your child’s internal voice is saying about camp. Ask what worries they might have, and help them harness their strengths or coping mechanisms to combat those fears. Draw on situations in the last year that demonstrate their resilience and problem-solving ability. Help your child explore and integrate what went well during those experiences. From there, help them to create an empowering and positive internal story about their overnight adventure by writing it down or creating a picture. Share your own experience of summer camp. If you went to summer camp during your childhood, share your stories, touching on any feelings of apprehension you may have had at the time. When your child hears you normalize your own fears, it can give them permission to be open about their emotions, and eventually move through it. Don’t forget to also share your summer camp successes, re-focusing on the feelings of confidence and pride that come with facing a new challenge. Parents can also feel emotionally stressed by this separation. Keep in mind, focusing too much on how much you will miss them will likely amplify their sadness about the separation. Instead, let them know that you’ll miss them, but you’re excited to hear about all the new things they’ll discover. If all the coping tools and preparation do not leave your child emotionally ready for overnight camp, be willing to change plans. Any new experience is meant to empower, and pushing a child to take a step they aren’t ready for simply isn’t worth it. Michele Kambolis is a 20-year veteran child and family therapist, acclaimed author, and parenting expert. A MA/PhD (Cand.) in mind-body medicine, Michele combines her knowledge and passion for integrative healing to support parents and children through their challenges.

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Family Travel & Adventure Guide, by WestCoast Families  
Family Travel & Adventure Guide, by WestCoast Families  

2018 Family Travel & Adventure Guide, published by WestCoast Families magazine. Featuring tips and resource for local and international fami...