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Snorkelling in Costa Rica

Snorkeling in Costa Rica

International, ROAM By January 12, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

I’m a certified scuba diver, have done a bit of free-diving and have had my fair share of aquarium visits. But apart from Belize, I’ve never seen the likes of snorkeling in Costa Rica. About an hour by boat from the Westin Playa Conchal, I dove off the catamaran only to encounter sea life I’ve only seen from afar.


Starfish Costa Rica 2



Jill and Octopus


And then I touched a few things… (AAAGH!!!) To be able to say that you’ve held and octopus and pried its’ suction grip off of your hand is a bucket-list kind of thing. And the puffer fish. And the moray eel who stared and stared.


Pufferfish Costa Rica


Very. Highly. Recommended. All photos were taken by Des Miller of Stress-Free Baby, who is a master with the underwater equipment!

I traveled to Playa Conchal in September for the ROAR Retreat, when the effervescence in the ocean was prevalent. In the darkness, moving the water back and forth with my arms made it sparkle with ten thousand lights. Lifting out of the water, our bodies glowed in the night. Pixies? Fairies? Magic? Next time I vist it will be with the entire family so I can share the wonders of snorkeling in Costa Rica with them!

Moray Eel Costa RicaStarfish Costa Rica Snorkling





5 tips for maximizing your air miles

Five Tips for Maximizing your AIR MILES

Canada, International, ROAM By November 30, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

The weather becomes crisp and you’ve finally finished filling out mounds of paperwork for kids’ activities and school. Photos are done, pumpkins composted and you sit down for a steaming cup of orange pekoe when it hits – you need a holiday. But with the bustle of December looming, a holiday will have to wait. Panic rises from somewhere in your belly that you haven’t exercised in a while and deep breaths don’t seem to impact a racing mind that is compiling to-do lists faster than a room full of monkeys can type.

Calm yourself. This year it will be different. You’ve got a secret weapon that constantly reminds you of travel to come. This holiday season my family is using our five tips for maximizing your AIR MILES so that we can get away together in 2015.

This year I plan to do my usual over-the-top holiday décor – three themed spruce trees, a minimum of 5 holiday squares and cookies at the ready and way too many vegetables at Christmas dinner. The light at the end of the tunnel for me is always travel, and the collection of AIR MILES for my family helps facilitate our trips – either by using our reward miles for flights, or helping the budget by getting cash redemptions at AIR MILES Cash Sponsors.

My mantra? More travel = more educational opportunities. More savings = less stress!

Maximize your AIR MILESWe have a few tricks for maximizing the AIR MILES we earn and I want to let our readers in on the secrets!

1. Check the fliers at your local grocery store that issues AIR MILES on purchases. Better yet? Get on their email list so that you always know when you can earn bonus miles on the items you have to buy.

2. Ensure your spouse and any other family member who wants to help the cause have a duplicate AIR MILES card in their wallet. Sponsors always ask if you are a Collector, so you won’t miss any chance to accumulate miles! Our whole family uses the same account for flexibility and ease.

3. Use an American Express AIR MILES Credit Card alongside your AIR MILES Collector Card at Sponsors to earn double the miles. Earning twice is always much more nice.

4. Use that same credit card to earn rewards miles on all of your everyday purchases. I use the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Card to earn one mile for every $10 I spend at AIR MILES Sponsors but I also earn one mile for every $10 spent at other eligible stand-alone grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores in Canada and one mile for every $15 spent everywhere else.

5. The AIR MILES website is full of special offers and promotions. When you need to rent a car, do the things that keep every family afloat on a weekly basis, be sure to check the bonus offers, as you can accumulate hundreds of bonus AIR MILES by being a savvy shopper.

American Express is currently hosting their #MoreAIRMILES contest to let AIR MILES members answer the question, “What would you do with more AIR MILES?”. Once answered, you’re entered into a draw for a weekly prize. Invite a friend and each one who participates in the contest lands you an additional entry.

Remember: AIR MILES + Amex = MoreAirMiles and You + Daily Entries + Your Friends = More chances to win! Check out the contest here.

Are you ready to dream? To save? To eliminate holiday stress? I’d love to hear about the holiday that your family is working toward throughout this holiday season! Bon voyage!

This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.


Things to do in Montego Bay, Jamaica

International, ROAM By August 21, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 5 Comments

I was a virgin to Jamaica.  And with a crazy hectic schedule I hadn’t had the time for preliminary research.  (I actually prefer it this way.)  I go in blind, with no feedback or opinions and can allow my artistic personality to sense everything without bias.  At first I was taken aback by the similarities with West Africa: corrugated steel, cement blocks and a native economy that was more advanced than I had seen in Liberia but not quite New York. My best advice?  Go off the beaten track in Montego Bay, Jamaica. And watch your children flourish.


Sibarth Villa Rentals on St. Barth

International, ROAM By August 2, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

I’ve had the experience of traveling to the French leeward island of St. Barth, located 35 miles south of St. Martin in the Caribbean.  I’ve never been the same since.  The white sand on 22 beaches with shallow reefs coupled with the 2,500 acres of marine reserve make this a pretty special place.  For a family vacation, we’d advise looking into a villa.  At 2-4 bedrooms, sharing with extended family or a group of friends is a fabulous way to experience ‘les Anses’.

Sibarth represents the best villas on St. Barth and has created a collection of villas that are perfect for a family vacation. Despite its jetset reputation, St. Barth is a perfect family destination with calm beaches, casual beach-side restaurants, and water sports such as snorkeling and paddle boarding. But the jetset reputation also doesn’t hurt.  Nor do the Parisian influences.  Bon Voyage!

family trip to Belize

20 Tips for a Family Trip to Belize

International, ROAM By July 30, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

San Pedro, on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize (Madonna’s ‘Isla Bonita’) is stunningly gorgeous with epic snorkelling and perfectly spiced food.  No wonder this was where the Material Girl longed to be.  I travelled in March with my family and the kids were given a rare look at a country whose scenic beauty rivals it’s poverty.

The pride exuded by the islanders was life-altering.  I watched a woman and her son shovel seaweed into wheelbarrows on her day off.  The houses in the poor community of San Mateo are mostly nestled in water and the seaweed is dumped into the pools in hopes of eventually producing earth.  We watched men wrestle goats onto a golf cart as the animals wouldn’t cross a bridge on foot.  We saw unprotected ruins in the wilderness where there are still artifacts lying around.  Iguanas, crocodiles, BBQ to die for and several encounters with sea life made the two week jaunt the memory of a lifetime for the whole family.  The trip begins with a flight from the mainland on Tropic Air over turquoise water and islands that dot the ocean.  It’s almost as if someone has written calligraphy using tiny islands.

20 Tips for a Family Trip to Ambergris Caye, Belize.

1.  Wahoo’s is a must to witness the Tuesday night chicken drop.  You bet on a number and sprinkle lots of feed on the desired area of a square board covered in numbers.  If the chicken defecates on your number, you win.  Endless giggles from the kids.  You can also purchase T-Shirts that say ‘Chicken Security’.

2.  Check out Coco Locos on Monday for the cribbage tournament and every night for bocce on the beach overlooking the ocean.  Marlon became the most popular bartender on the island for the splash of grenadine he swirled on the kids’ pina coladas.

3.  Bring school supplies from home to the Holy Cross Anglican School.  There is a list of needed items on their website and the kids are eternally grateful.  The students will teach your kids some pretty cool games during recess.

4.  Buy wood carvings on the road and make sure they are wrapped well for the trip home. Fins of the beautifully carved sharks tend to break.

5.  As the only sports bar, Feliz is a hoot and has the most gorgeous candy-coloured stools.  Ask to play the dice game.

6.  Fidos has great burgers and if you’re lucky you will catch some local dancers practicing on the beach.

7.  Head to Wild Mangos early for lunch if you want a seat.  Save me some armadillo eggs.  I went back over 4 times to devour them.

8.  Brunch at Estel’s is fab, and the whole restaurant has sand on the floor for barefoot enjoyment.  The town playground is also next door so you can sip a Belkin while watching your kids play.

9.  If you’re a McDonald’s fan, the Road Kill Cafe has managed to duplicate the taste of the famous burgers – using mostly organic and free range beef I might add.  (As a McDonald’s All-Access Mom I saw the natural beef and burger processes with my own eyes and giggled to see the taste replicated with Belizian organic ingredients).  Karaoke on Thursdays is a blast.

10.  Crazy Canucks is the place to be on Sunday, if only to witness the weekly horseshoe tournament.  You’ll want the boneless wings.  Locals will scamper up trees for you and bring you fresh coconuts.  They will also make you a helmet out of a coconut shell.  Crazy Canucks is right.

11.  The Hol Chan Marine Reserve and shark/ray alley are must-dos.  You pay a fee as you enter the reserve by boat and the reef is so shallow that the fish life is the best I have ever seen.  My son saw sharks, turtles and a 7-foot moray eel in the first 4 minutes of his first foray into snorkelling!

12.  Rent a golf cart – it’s so fun!

13.  Have your kids play with locals in the park at the town square.  You’ll be shocked at how language and economics make no difference in the games.

14.  Belize Zoo/Western Belize: This trip usually begins with a flight on Tropic Air to the municipal airport, where you connect with a shuttle bus which takes you on the Western Highway for a visit to the wonderful Belize Zoo, maybe a quick peep at Belmopan, Belize’s mini-capital, lunch and perhaps a tour of Xunantunich, a Classic Period Maya site.

15.  Altun Ha Ruins: You go by boat across to the mangrove cut, where you transfer to a van to visit this Maya site, which dates back some 2,000 years, on the Old Northern Highway. There is an abundance of wildlife, such as monkeys… for the more leisurely who would rather see the jungle, cool off, enjoy swinging like Jane and Tarzan, and perhaps get mood mud treatments and lunch at Maruba Spa.

16.  Caye Caulker: A day trip to Ambergris Caye’s “little brother” island can be done by air or boat. If the latter, the trip is usually packaged with a snorkeling tour. One of the best trips to Caulker is on the Winnie Estelle, a classic island trader. Several catamarans also do this trip.

17.  Lazy Croc BBQ is a north of the bridge must.  Eat your BBQ as you watch the crocodiles swim in the lagoon.  The cuisine is authentic and the atmosphere totally relaxed.  Just keep your feet out of the water..

18.  The Palapa Bar is a two floor palapa attached to the mainland by a long dock.  Tied-up innertubes are serviced by a bucket that is sent to you filled with Belkin, and kids are able to draw all over the furniture, floors and walls with sharpies.

19.  The sand is extraordinary for castle building.  But beware – the tide will rise and you may have some disappointed kids the next day.

20.  Finally?  Hop on a catamaran and ask the crew to jump in and make you fresh conch cevice straight from the ocean.


Jacada Travel Gourmet Tours

International, ROAM By April 11, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

If you’re a gourmet-loving Mom, you have a great excuse to expand your repertoire.  Jacada Travel gourmet tours take you to the tastiest corners of the earth. The Gourmet Series offers luxurious, private guided food-focused adventures featuring exciting itineraries to Peru, Argentina, South Africa, and Chile. Either as a girl’s trip or a family bonding experience (where everyone else learns to cook!) you will see and experience spectacular tastes and sights. And with summer’s line up for exciting festivals to bring forth the finest cuisine, it’s a great time to indulge in a trip created to appeal to all of your senses.  You deserve it – take our word for it.  JacadaTravel.

top 10 travel destinations for kids

Top 10 Travel Destinations for Kids

Disney, International, ROAM, USA By May 16, 2011 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Once you have kids, the days of stolen mini-breaks with your honey are pretty much gone, unless you have a great nanny or very forbearing parents nearby! Traveling with a family can be tricky and expensive, but it is possible to enjoy a vacation with the kids; in fact, sometimes it’s even more fun than vacationing alone with your partner…although it is a different kind of “fun!” Here are the top 10 travel destinations for kids.


Louis Vuitton City Guides

books, Canada, GEAR, International, ROAM, USA By January 24, 2011 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Every fall, luxury brand Louis Vuitton publishes gorgeous and super-helpful guides for some of the greatest cities in the world.  We tried the European editions (surprise surprise), and were able to discover off-the-beaten track lounges in Paris and family-friendly, hip gems in Rome.  Note to self: they also look great on your bookshelf, and they’re nice and light to pack.

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