Get outta here... while you can

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - TRAVEL -

THERE is noth­ing like a pro­longed cold snap to mo­ti­vate peo­ple to seek out re­main­ing op­tions to sunny des­ti­na­tions.

With near record daily ex­treme cold warn­ings, those who have not cho­sen to pack up their be­long­ings and leave the prov­ince per­ma­nently have tied up the phone lines of travel agents through­out the prov­ince.

Luck­ily, a warm fall slowed book­ings in the early stages or there would likely not be much left to choose from now.

As it hap­pened, there still are a num­ber of ex­cel­lent prop­er­ties still avail­able at many of the most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions we travel to non-stop from Winnipeg. But this is a year when the su­per bar­gains we have seen in past years may not ma­te­ri­al­ize at all, and those who wish to wait for the price to go down may end up wait­ing for the weather to warm up in May right here at home.

With the sim­i­lar weather pat­terns that have af­fected most of East­ern Canada as well, even those des­ti­na­tions we seek through other gate­ways are also fill­ing up fast.

Like­wise, vast parts of the United States have ex­pe­ri­enced cold pe­ri­ods such as they never have be­fore. They may be get­ting a taste of the medi- cine we have an­nu­ally, and they too are look­ing for the near­est exit to hot weather from their home bases.

The mes­sage is if you re­ally want to go, don’t wait.

On a sep­a­rate is­sue, the col­umn I wrote on Jan. 4 re­lat­ing to travel insurance has gar­nered a slew of fol­lowup emails and com­ments.

Some agree with my rec­om­men­da­tions for sup­ple­men­tal insurance over credit card or cor­po­rate cov­er­age, while oth­ers do not.

Some pointed out all insurance com­pa­nies have state­ments that would cause any­one to blanch that they ac­tu­ally ex­ist. For ex­am­ple, one writer pointed out it doesn’t seem fair to have a clause that states “You must con­tact us be­fore seek­ing med­i­cal at­ten­tion and a fail­ure to call will re­sult in your be­ing re­spon­si­ble for 30 per cent of any el­i­gi­ble ex­penses in­curred.”

As the writer con­cluded, “Great! My hus­band gets run over by a truck and I’m sup­posed to call the insurance com­pany be­fore call­ing an am­bu­lance?”

But the rea­son this is done is to en­sure clients work with rep­utable health providers the insurance com­pany has had ex­pe­ri­ence with and are con­fi­dent in the care they will pro­vide.

At the same time, I was pleased to hear how many peo­ple had achieved sat­is­fac­tory con­clu­sions with al­most any form of cov­er­age they had. There were some real horror sto­ries I heard about, but for the most part, most peo­ple were treated well by their insurance providers.

I still stand by my first state­ment on the is­sue. Not­with­stand­ing the peo­ple who did re­ceive ex­cel­lent ser­vice from their insurance com­pa­nies when they had ac­ci­dents or ill­ness when they trav­elled, there is small print to be con­cerned about on ev­ery pol­icy and fore­warned is fore­armed.

And there were more ques­tions:

Ques­tion: I was told that if I bought al­co­hol at a duty free in the United States, and had to con­nect through Winnipeg that they would take my bot­tles away from me.

I worry about break­age in suit­cases so I don’t like to take the chance of any al­co­hol spilling all over my be­long­ings and re­ally cre­at­ing a stink, so to speak.

Is it true that my liquor pur­chases would be taken from me? And if so why?

An­swer: At most gate­ways, once you clear cus­toms you are back into the main air­port ter­mi­nal and are re­quired to clear se­cu­rity again to get on to your con­nect­ing flight.

There­fore, you will be car­ry­ing liq­uids that are clearly much more than the 100 ml amount you are al­lowed. In th­ese in­stances, your al­co­hol will def­i­nitely be con­fis­cated.

Since you have to pass through cus­toms with your claimed lug­gage, you the­o­ret­i­cally could put the bot­tles into your lug­gage be­fore it is placed on the con­nect­ing carousel.

This would not solve your orig­i­nal fear the con­tain­ers could break and cause a sig­nif­i­cant clean­ing chal­lenge.

For that, there are a num­ber of prod­ucts on the mar­ket that help pro­tect bot­tles and other frag­ile items from break­ing in packed lug­gage by sur­round­ing them with blown air or foam-like pack­ag­ing.

You may want to ex­plore th­ese op­tions on sub­se­quent jour­neys.

Ques­tion: I read some­where that even Cana­di­ans need to pur­chase a Cuban visa be­fore they can en­ter the coun­try? How do I get one?

An­swer: If you are fly­ing into Cuba on any Cana­dian air­line, your visa, or Cuban Vis­i­tor Card as it is called, is in­cluded in the cost of your ticket or va­ca­tion pack­age.

It will be handed out to you on board be­fore you get off, for you present to the Cuban im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials with your pass­port.

This is im­por­tant. They will take half and re­turn the other half to you. Do not lose it or it will re­sult in ex­tra costs and a po­ten­tial de­lay, in­clud­ing pre­vent­ing you from board­ing your air­craft. Keep it safe with your pass­port. If you are not fly­ing with a Cana­dian car­rier, the visas are usu­ally for sale near the check-in desk of the air­line you will be trav­el­ling with.

For­ward your travel ques­tions to askjour­neys@jour­neystravel.com. Ron Prad­inuk is pres­i­dent of Jour­neys Travel & Leisure Su­per­Centre and can be heard

Sun­days at noon on CJOB. Pre­vi­ous col­umns and tips can be found on www. jour­neystrav­el­gear.com or read Ron’s travel blog at www.that­trav­el­guy.ca

Cruise Va­ca­tions will hold a pre­sen­ta­tion show­cas­ing the dif­fer­ent river cruises in Europe. Cruise line op­er­a­tions in Europe inl­cud­ing Scenic, Vik­ing, AMA, Avalon, and Uni­world will be com­pared. Join us Thurs­day, Jan­uary 23 at 7 p.m. at the Cruise Va­ca­tions of­fice at 1941 Portage Ave. Please RSVP to 204-954-2095 or email, jim@cruise-va­ca­tions.ca. Space is lim­ited.

Join Chris­tine Ward from Ix­tapa Travel and Con­nie Szczerba from Globus Fam­ily of Brands for an in­for­ma­tion evening on the Leg­endary Danube River Cruise. This ex­cit­ing itin­er­ary com­bines scenic high­lights from Prague to Bu­dapest.. Pre­sen­ta­tion: 2:30 p.m. Tues., Jan­uary 21st at McNally Robin­sons in the Com­mu­nity Class­room. Please RSVP to Chris­tine Ward, 204-885-7261, or Chris­tine@ Ix­ta­paTravel.ca. Space is lim­ited.

Rid­ing the rails

Cel­e­brate the 100th an­niver­sary of the com­ple­tion of the Grand Trunk Pa­cific Rail­way with a trip to North­ern Bri­tish Columbia by rail, April 3 – 13, 2014. Ex­pe­ri­ence two of Canada’s most scenic rail rides, first aboard Via Rail’s Cana­dian, fol­lowed by a scenic moun­tain run aboard the Jasper –Prince Ru­pert train. High­lights will in­clude pass­ing over the fi­nal spike driven in the his­toric rail line ex­actly 100 years ago to the day. Ho­tel stays in­clude Jasper, Prince Ru­pert and Prince Ge­orge. Tour price in­cludes ad­mis­sion to at­trac­tions, scenic tours, train travel, ho­tels, most meals and more. Prices start at $2,585.00 Rail Travel Tours will of­fer fur­ther de­tails re­gard­ing the tour Tues­day, Jan­uary 21, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Winnipeg Rail­way Mu­seum, lo­cated at Via Rail’s Winnipeg Union Sta­tion, 123 Main St. For more in­for­ma­tion and to make reser­va­tions call 204-897-9551 or toll free 1-866-704-3528. Space is lim­ited.

RON PRAD­INUK ASK JOUR­NEYS

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