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Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort – What To Expect When You Arrive

One of the best things you can do before you go on vacation is to research where you are going and know what you are getting when you purchase your vacation. One of the worst things you can do is to know too much about where you are going before you go, set the expectation bar too high and then feel an overwhelming amount of disappointment in the end. Not like that could ever happen if you happen to be vacationing at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort though! However, I’m going to give you the low down on what to expect when you arrive at this gorgeous all inclusive resort in Turks and Caicos.

I am lucky enough to have been to Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort four times now. Four times at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort and one time at Beaches Negril Resort and Spa. At this point, I feel I am qualified to give you a very educated assessment of what you are walking into and it’s really hard to be disappointed!

Grounds of the French Village outside our room. What To Expect When You Arrive at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort #beachesresorts #beachesturksandcaicos #beachesresorts #turksandcaicos #allinclusiveturksandcaicos #pls #providenciales #beachesmoms #beachvacations #allinclusivebeachvacations #familyallinclusive #bestallinclusive #familytravelblogger #bestfamilytravleblogger #femaletravelblogger #torontomom

Our First Visit at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort –

We Didn’t Know What To Expect When You Arrive!

Our first visit to Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort was January of 2016. My family, along with another family with a daughter the same age as my daughter traveled together. We booked the trip 10 months in advance on a fabulous sale on the Beaches Resort website for 65% off and then flight on seat sale with Air Canada. All told, for my family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children ages 1 and 6), we paid just over $6,300 Canadian for 5 nights/6 days. We booked a Caribbean Village double room, which is one of the least expensive room categories. Worth noting, every year there is a price increase and therefore our package prices have gone up incrementally.

One of the keys to making your vacation at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort a success is to book well in advance. As you get closer to the travel dates, the price rises as the less expensive room categories typically sell out first.

Arrival at the airport was very much like any other Caribbean island airport. You get off plane in the heat, walk down the stairs from the plane to the tarmac, get ushered into airport, line up at customs to be admitted into the country, then carry on to get your baggage. Round trip airport transfers from PLS are included in your resort price, so you do not need to worry about booking a separate shuttle.

We exit the airport, hang a left out the door and then follow other families to the Beaches Resort desk and line. It felt like was a little disorganized and here didn’t seem to be any line up or structure, just check on with the gentleman with the clipboard and then he told you where to put your baggage. It seems the shuttles were packed in by number of people who would fit, a family of 4 would be sent with a family of 3 and a couple, etc. It’s not a big deal. If you are travelling with another family, let them know and they will hook you up together.

View from third floor, west wing room in Caribbean Village at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort

Let Me Tell You About The Rooms!

After dropping a couple off at the first stop, the French Village at Beaches Resort, we carried on to drop off at the Caribbean Village where our two families were staying. We were greeted with a “welcome punch”, with rum for the adults! Boom, that’s what I needed! That’s something you can expect when you arrive at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort! This is an an inclusive resort, so put your wallet in the safe in your room and don’t take it out again until you leave.

If you do not check in online in advance, you will have to take the time to check in with all of your personal information on the iPad they provide to you. I highly advise you to take care of that in advance so you can get to your room faster and then into the pool or on the beach faster.

During our first visit, our west wing, third floor room was ready for us and off we went to drop our bags. Walking in, we were happily surprised by our ocean view. I’ve been to other all inclusive Caribbean Resorts in the past and unless paying for the upgrade, an ocean view was not included. Not only could we see the ocean, but we also could see the Iguana pool and bar, a basketball court and a giant chess board.

Morning view of palm trees and pool in the French Village when having coffee. Grounds of the French Village outside our room. #beachesresorts #beachesturksandcaicos #beachesresorts #turksandcaicos #allinclusiveturksandcaicos #pls #providenciales #beachesmoms #beachvacations #allinclusivebeachvacations #familyallinclusive #bestallinclusive #familytravelblogger #bestfamilytravleblogger #femaletravelblogger #torontomom

For our subsequent trips, we have stayed in rooms in both the French and Italian Villages

Twice we had a luxury walk out room in the French Village. I really like that room category for a couple reasons. One, it’s easy access to the pool. Two, it’s easy access to walk to Cafe de Paris in the morning to get coffee and pastries. Three, I can have my morning coffee outside on the patio and it’s glorious!

If you would like a room tour of our double walk out room in the French Village, look no further! I have a video here for you.

Our stay in the Italian Village is one I would love to repeat if budget ever allows. I traveled with my son, my sister and her 2 boys. We had the pleasure of staying in an Italian Oceanfront Concierge Family Suite with Kid’s room while at Beaches Resort for Social Media On The Sand! It wasn’t the room we were originally booked into, it was a fluke upgrade.

Oceanview window in Italian Village

The room was PERFECT for us! This room features a king size mahogany, four poster bed, adorned with a plush duvet, lounge sleeping chair, 42′ flat screen TV plus a bar area with its own refrigerator and microwave. The kids enjoy mahogany bunk beds with a trundle; a 27′ flat screen TV; a multi-function game table; a built-in, nautical, mahogany storage wall unit; its own closet; and a vanity unit with basin and mirror. The bathroom hosts a two-basin mahogany vanity with a wall-mount makeup mirror and hair dryer; a whirlpool tub; a separate rain head shower; and a private water closet. It was nicer than our house. The ocean view was so calming! Our room number was 3205 in the Italian Village, Almalfi Building and it was beyond perfect! I’d book this room again in a heartbeat!

Room tour? Sure thing! It’s right here:

What Should You Do First?

Well, there’s a lot you could do first! My kids are normally really antsy by the time we have dropped our bags off in our room. They want to get dressed and get in the water. Honestly, I do too!

Pirate Island is a great first stop to get your feet wet. The kids all love it and they never, ever tire of it. The lazy river was a hit with the adults. Sometimes it does get busy there are we have been unable to find available loungers out of the sun, so we hop over to the next pool outside Bobby Dee’s where the kids can get their first taste of a swim up bar. The pool water in that one is a little colder than expected considering the heat, but it is refreshing!

toddler boy wearing teal coloured rash guard sits on the edge of the lazy river with a toy pirate ship in his hands at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort

At Bobby Dee’s, you can grab snack foods (onion rings, chicken fingers, fries, burgers) that will hold you over until dinner. Bobby Dee’s is open really late so if you want a cheeseburger at midnight, this is where you go.

The pool closest to your room is also a great choice to hang out in. There is a feature pool in each village with a swim up bar. You can’t go wrong, I swear!

While still on your first day, I suggest registering the kids in the children’s programming through Camp Sesame for later in the week. You will need their passports to do this, so don’t lock them in your safe yet. Oh and this is included – does not cost extra!

French Village feature pool, swim up bar and hot tub from above

Where Should You Eat First?

The answer to where you should eat first is EVERYWHERE. Spoiler alert, there’s not a bad meal to be had at this resort, or at least not one that we found. Service from staff everywhere was top notch.

There is a restaurant that requires reservations and that is Kimonos. Kimonos is a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant. You can make that booking through the concierge in your village’s “front desk”.

The sleeper hit restaurant for dinner that we found on our last trip was Bombay. It’s an Indian restaurant and the food was divine! It’s tucked into a back corner, but it’s worth finding. We loved it so much, we dined there twice.

Left overs from an amazing Indian meal at Bombay

If you like buffet breakfasts, I recommend Mario’s in the Italian Village or Guiseppe’s in the French Village. One of my favourite restaurants there is Barefoot By The Sea. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, it’s not a problem. Alert your server ahead of time and they can help you out.

If you’re looking for an adult evening out, the adult only restaurants are Le Petit Chateau and Sky. If you’re going to go to sky, get there in plenty of time to catch the sunset. Almost everyone else would have the same idea, so trust me when I say to get there in plenty of time. If the sun is going to be setting at 7:00pm, try to get there for 6:00pm.

 

What Are The Best Activities For Kids There?

Swimming, swimming and more swimming! You need to know that most things on the resort are included. Yep, it does not cost extra to hand out at the swim up bar. Tire those kids out at the feature pool, going down the water slides at Pirate Island (be aware of some height restrictions), playing chess on the giant chess boards, send them to the free tennis lessons first thing in the morning, take them to build a bear (this costs extra). Pick up snorkel masks and fins from the dive shop and get the kids out looking for fish.

Mother and daughter snorkeling at Grace Bay beach

If your kids are confident to go beyond snorkeling and venture underwater, SNUBA is an option to try out! It’s a hybrid of scuba diving and snorkeling. I was lucky enough to try it in October of 2018. Check out my SNUBA experience here.

Also, here’s a secret that not everyone knows – during the week there is a train that goes from village to village and also stops at the entrance to Pirate Island. You can ride it around and around. The kids go nuts for it.

Happy boy looking out side of train ride at Beaches Turks and Caicos

Best Time To Visit Turks and Caicos?

Turks and Caicos is in the Caribbean islands, so anytime that is not hurricane season is a good time to visit. Hurricane season is typically July to September.

I have been to Turks and Caicos once during October, the remainder of the times at the end of January. For me as a Canadian, escaping the cold is paramount, anytime I can get away from the snow, sleet and sub-zero temperatures in a good time. However, as there is a lot of demand to escape the cold from my fellow Canucks, the demand drives up the price. While weather wise, this is the best time period, price wise it is not.

It has been reported that the least expensive time of year to visit Turks and Caicos is April and May.

 

Beaches Resort is Environmentally Friendly

As of November 1st of 2018, plastic straws were eliminated from the resort. Sorry fruity, frozen cocktail straw-loving fans! In fact, the entire Sandals and Beaches brand is eliminating plastic straws. The company is performing a complete audit from front to back of house. They are looking to determine what other environmentally friendly changes can be made that leaves a better legacy for the next generation.

Back to our cocktail loving friends, eco-friendly paper straws are available at the bars upon request. However, maybe it’s time to invest in a reusable metal straw and carry it there with you for your Pina Coladas because the Sandals and Beaches company loves the ocean and the ocean and all of it’s inhabitants will love them back for it.

 

Rumours of Closure

There have been rumours of closure of this resort circulating on the internet. Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa will be closed from September 3rd to October 15th in 2019 and from September 7th to October 22, 2020. Then beginning January 2021 for an indefinite period. This is by no means a permanent closure nor is the resort in financial trouble. I still encourage you to vacation with your family there outside of these proposed closure times.

 

What To Expect When You Arrive at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort. Here's the low down on what you need to know #beachesresorts #beachesturksandcaicos #beachesresorts #turksandcaicos #allinclusiveturksandcaicos #pls #providenciales #beachesmoms #beachvacations #allinclusivebeachvacations #familyallinclusive #bestallinclusive #familytravelblogger #bestfamilytravleblogger #femaletravelblogger #torontomom

 

Looking For Exciting and Unique Places To Explore In Ontario? We Have You Covered!

For those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile, you will know that I made it my mission to explore and take in as much of my home province of Ontario as I could. And take my kids along of course! I was born and raised here and I had come to the realization that as of a couple years ago, I had explored less than 10% of it. Most of my travel had been confined to the 401 corridor.

Granted, land mass wise, Ontario is huge! Bigger than almost all European countries! Parts of Ontario are even uninhabited, so it’s not likely we will be hanging at a winery in Polar Beer Provincial Park anytime soon! One because it doesn’t exist and two because that provincial park is so far remote that the website warns you to pack an extra week’s worth of provisions incase the plane can’t come back and get you. However, there are a lot of towns with charm, beautiful trails, an abundant outdoor lifestyle and exciting places to explore in Ontario that are full of adventure and won’t leave you stranded.

If someone was travelling to Ontario for the first time to explore and take in an unusual or unique (only to) Ontario experience, I have a list of places to send them that I have been to. I’d tell them to head up the Bruce Peninsula to Tobermory to stay for a couple days and to hike the the Grotto! Send them yurt camping at any time of the year at either Algonquin Provincial Park or MacGregor Point Provincial Park. If they were looking to go glamping right across the street from a winery, they’d be going direct to Long Point Eco Adventures in Norfolk County. If they were looking for some epic scenery while hiking, the Barron Canyon Trail, Dundas Peak and Skinner’s Bluff is where it’s at.

My Personal Favourite Places To Explore In Ontario

One of my favourite places to see a sunset? It would be the Scarborough Bluffs pictured above and right below. Especially in autumn.

View from Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto Ontario. Unique places to explore in Ontario #autumncolours #fallfoliage #curiocitytoronto #visualizetoronto #scarboroughbluffs #scarborough #scarboroughontario #torontoviews #canadiancreatives #imagesofcanada #viewsfordays #cliffside #exploreontario #kathrynanywhere

Some of my favourite hiking trails fall within the jurisdiction of Ontario Parks. Check out Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and Lake Superior Provincial Park.

Favourite Beaches? Sandbanks in Prince Edward County is top of everyone’s mind when you think of Ontario beaches, but consider Coburg Beach in Coburg or Pancake Bay Beach, just outside Batchawana Bay as well.

I know for a fact that I am not the be all and end of of Ontario knowledge. And I’m on the hunt for new places to explore in Ontario for this year and next. I thought it would be smart to hit up some of my fellow Torontonians, travel bloggers for their favourite places in Ontario to explore and why.

Here are their secrets they have let me in on!

SAINTS AND SINNERS TRAIL

Just a few hours north of Toronto lies the province’s biggest secret. Grey County is a foodie haven, with gorgeous views, reasonable prices and none of the traffic you’ll see if you travel east or west of the city.

It’s home to the Saints and Sinners Trail, which features local beer, wine and cider. This region is family friendly so don’t feel like you need to leave the kiddos at home. Accommodations range from traditional to quirky, you can stay in a treehouse or a yurt!

It’s called this because of the region’s fascinating history. Owen Sound was Canada’s last dry city. Well technically, prohibition lasted here much longer than the rest of Canada and so there’s a history of bootlegging and all the salacious stories that go along with it.

Today you can tour the Saints and Sinners Trail independently or take the Corkscrew Town tour, which partners with the Beer Bus. Local historian (and city council member) shows you the city’s sights and shares hilarious local stories of bootlegging in the time of prohibition.

Contributed by Ayngelina Brogan – Bacon Is Magic

DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL

The fact that Hamilton, a city more commonly known for steel and Tim Horton’s, has also been dubbed “The Waterfall Capital Of The World”, may come as a surprise to you. Of the more than 100 waterfalls located in the city’s limits, the one with the most unusual story is found in the Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area.

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a huge, horseshoe- shaped gorge. There is a larger, upper falls and a smaller, lower falls in it. With numerous trails around the area, it’s a perfect for hiking and scenic photo opportunities, especially if you are nimble enough to make it to the bottom near the waterfalls.

Beneath the beauty of the Punchbowl, though, lies a history shrouded in mystery. Where exactly did the name come from? Urban legends (unverified ghost and paranormal activity stories), and even tragedies (numerous deaths have happened there).  Adding to the unusual factor is the 10 metre high metal cross on the observational platform.  It was made to “bring light to the community”, but the idea of a giant cross planted in an area named after the devil is bizarre, to say the least. However, the views from the platform are admittedly spectacular (dare I say, heavenly), as you can see the waterfalls, Stoney Creek, Hamilton, and on clear days, even Toronto.

The Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area is definitely unique, but also a place that you won’t soon forget!

Contributed by Mike Armstrong – Daddy Realness

devils punchbowl, contributed by Mike Armstrong #daddyrealness #yourstodiscover #exploreontario #devilspunchbowl #hamiltonontario #hamont

PORT HOPE SALMON RUN

Watching the salmon run is often something associated with rural travel in remote destinations such as like Alaska. But Ontario actually has some pretty incredible salmon runs of its own. And surprisingly, one of the best places to see the Salmon run in Ontario is in the small town of Port Hope off the shores of Lake Ontario.

Port Hope, which is just an hour east of Toronto, is a quaint town with a vibrant history. But in the fall, it becomes home to one of the coolest wildlife spectacles in Central Ontario. Between late August and early October, thousands of Chinook salmon, some weighing up to 40 lbs make their way up the Ganaraska River.

The best place to view this spectacle is Corbett’s Dam, otherwise known as the Port Hope Fish Ladder. Just head to Jocelyn St. Turn right and continue on till you meet the river. There is a rocky shore that is easy to walk up and down. Just don’t step in the fish. Not all of them make it to the spawning grounds. The Port Hope Fish Ladder was put in place to help the struggling salmon make it up the river once the dam was put in place. Without it, these bright fish would have no way to continue up the “Ganny” to their spawning grounds.

Contributed by Kevin Wagar – Wandering Wagars

BATHTUB ISLAND

Located about 10 hours north of Toronto you can find Lake Superior Provincial Park. At over 1550 square kilometers it’s one of the biggest provincial parks in Ontario. The park is known for very unique things like the pictographs at Agawa Rock, the Burnt Rock Pool, Old Woman Bay and of course the most unique of them all, Bathtub Island.

Bathtub Island is located about a 15 minute walk from Katherine Cove and just like the name suggests, it’s a natural forming bathtub! The bathtub is refilled by the waves crashing over the rocks and because of the shallow rocks the water gets heated up really quickly so you can splash around and enjoy yourselves! It can be slightly challenging to get into the island because of the rocks and the water so do take care to walk carefully but as long as you’re paying attention to the walk you’ll be fine!

While there may be other natural bathtubs around, the one in Lake Superior Provincial Park is the only one I’m aware of in Ontario and it makes it such a unique place to explore! It doesn’t hurt that it’s located in such a stunning piece of nature. It’s a great reason to head further north than most visitors to Ontario do and you get to enjoy something super cool that nature itself formed!

Contributed by Liliane Fawzy – My Toronto, My World

ENJOY MUSKOKA DURING THE WINTER SEASON

In just four years, the Ice Skating Trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park has become one of Muskoka Tourism ‘s most popular winter attractions, as thousands of winter-loving Ontarians flock north to glide along this breathtaking skate through the forest. Named one of 19 Stunning Natural Ice Skating Rinks Around the World by Travel + Leisure, the deep-woods ice path is nightly lit with torches as skaters slide through the dark winter woods to an icy, fiery glow. The Trail’s season-opening is always subject to weather but typically the trail opens the beginning of January until roughly the second week in March. The best ice conditions tend to be during the week, so if you can arrive midweek, you will be rewarded with no crazy line-ups as you visit one of the province’s most popular winter ‘bucket list’ items.

Bonus night activity? While in Muskoka, take the kids to look up at the night sky to experience the vastness of space, view the universe and marvel at the icy air viewing at the Torrance Barren’s Dark-Sky Preserve.

Contributed by Gregory George – followsummer

Skating Trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park #ONTARIOPARKS #exploreontario #followsummer

VOYAGEUR CANOE TO TORONTO ISLANDS

Have you ever seen Toronto from the water?  One of the most unique experiences that I’ve ever had in Toronto was to paddle across the harbour in a Voyageur Canoe to the Toronto Islands.  You can do this as a group or rent a kayak.  The view is spectacular and being on the other side of the islands take you from urban setting to natural oasis in the time it takes you to paddle across.  There is no shortage of interesting things to see from the flights taking off and landing from Billy Bishop Airport to the spectacular skyline.

Contributed by Margarita Ibbott – DownshiftingPRO

EXPLORE ONTARIO

NIAGARA JET BOAT

In June 2017, Hubs and I splashed out for a Whirlpool Jet Tour from Niagara-on-the-Lake. The tour took us up the Niagara River to the Niagara Devil’s Hole Rapids – which boasts up 4.5-6m waves and currents with speeds approaching 32 kph. Operating since 1992, the company’s Niagara fleet has 8 custom-built vessels operating from three locations on both sides of the border – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Lewiston and Niagara Falls. There are two types of boats, an open boat, for fast and wet, and a closed boat, which will keep you (mostly) dry.

Our youngest was three (almost four) when we took our tour, but still a little under the height requirement for the uncovered boat (safety first!!) We rode one of the covered boats – which kept us dry, but was still quite thrilling. The windows on the boat open for the parts of the tour that aren’t wet.

The expert navigation of our boat’s team had us feeling very safe despite tackling Class 5 rapids which “approach the limits of navigability” and “should only be attempted by white-water experts.”

The best part of the approximately one-hour trip – we learned about the history of the gorge, the falls, and various sites we passed along the way including historic Fort George, the hydro-electric plants on both sides of the border. The tour guides were very engaging, and more than willing to answer any questions we had.

As far as family fun goes, you can’t miss the thrills, chills (and the education) of a Niagara Whirlpool Jet Tour. In fact, our youngest is big enough for the outside boat – and we have plans to make another trip this year!

Contributed by Amanda Knapper – SillyMummyFT

Niagara Jet Boat, Amanda Knapper, SillyMummyFT

 

SOARING OVER NIAGARA FALLS IN A HELICOPTER

Visiting the majestic Niagara Falls is on everyone’s bucket list but not many have thought about flying over the falls. If you’re looking for unusual and breathtaking things to do in Ontario, soaring above Niagara Falls in a helicopter should be on your list!

This bird’s eye view will bring on all of the feels and while the ride is only about 12 minutes long, you’ll see it all. Our pilot did a great job of showing us the various angles of both, the American and Canadian Falls and we also saw the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture, followed the Niagara River from the Whirlpool area and rounded up near the Rainbow Bridge. It was like getting the best and fastest tour of the area. We had our infant and toddler with us for this Niagara helicopter ride and the kids were mesmerized from the moment we took off. Kids were given noise cancelling headsets and the adults ones had the option to listen to an audio tour that informed us about the history of the area.

This splurge worthy Ontario attraction is definitely worth every dollar and should be on your list of things to do in Niagara Falls Canada with kids or without!

Contributed by Yashy Murphy – Baby And Life

Soaring over Niagara Falls in a Helicopter with Yashy Murphy, Baby And Life

DINING IN THE DARK AT O NOIR

If you want a unique place to go to in Toronto that is indoors and involves food, you have come to the right spot to find out exactly where to go. The award for the coolest restaurant in downtown Toronto has to go to O Noir. You’re not just paying for food, but an experience of a lifetime!

The concept of the very well known restaurant, O Noir, is for people to try and understand what life is like for the visually impaired for a short amount of time.

When you entire O Noir, you are presented with the menu before you go into the darkness. There is even a “surprise” option to make your time there more exciting! The waiters you will be interacting with are blind, just as you will be when you enter the dining area.  When it is your turn to go inside, you will be asked to make a train with several other guests and your party while someone will lead you to a seat (a seat that you cannot see AT ALL). There, they will explain where your fork, knife, and napkins are before returning shortly with your ordered food.

This is where things get really tricky; try coordinating with a table full of people who cannot see ANYTHING. Your other senses are heightened to the max as you try to communicate with your company, guess the food in front of you, or simply eat without making a mess! Your imagination runs wild as you try and figure out which part of the restaurant you are seated in, how big the place might be, where the waiters are coming in/ out from and predicting how much of your food is left!

This experience will give you a feel of what it is like for the blind to do simple tasks every day. It is amazing to see the discipline that the staff have, working quickly and efficiently to ensure great customer service, which can require a lot of patience when you are dealing with people who are experiencing something for the first time.

Lucky for everyone, the paying process happens outside of the darkness, or that would be a whole other level of challenging. This is something I believe everyone should try at least once in their lives! Imagine being able to say that you have had the experience to dine in the complete dark.

Contributed by Akanksha Pandya – Akanksha.ca

 

PORT DOVER, EVERY FRIDAY THE 13TH

In 1981, a strange tradition was born in the relatively sleepy Ontario town of Port Dover. It was decided that every Friday the 13th a motorcycle rally would happen, and that riders from all across North America should come. Seems reasonable enough, right?

What started as a pipe dream turned into a reality, and nowadays any Friday the 13th in Port Dover can fetch as many as 100,000 riders from around North America and the world. It is, however, somewhat weather dependent as when the Friday the 13th falls in the winter it, sadly, attracts many fewer riders. However, the opposite phenomena is also true, with some summer events reportedly attractions 150 to 200,000 riders.

When I spoke to townspeople there, I expected people to scold the behaviour of the different motorcycle groups, but the response was quite the opposite. Many said that groups like the Hell’s Angels had even sold clothing and the like and donated some of the proceeds back to the community. Naturally, there was some mild trouble here and there but they said, for the most part, it was a really welcomed event in the community at large.

It doesn’t get much more unusual than that, and tourists and Ontarians come from far and wide to take it all in. Take note of the next Friday the 13th, and head to Port Dover!

Contributed by Chris Mitchell – travelingmitch

port dover, every friday the 13th

I hope this list from some of my favourite Toronto based travel bloggers has helped to inspire you on your next trip to Ontario! And if you already live or work in Ontario, hopefully you have some inspiration to go looking for exciting and unique places in Ontario to explore!

Looking for exciting and unique places to explore in Ontario? I asked a bunch of local travel bloggers and here is where they recommend #greycounty #salmonrun #porthope #portdover #devilspunchbowl #exploreontario #discoverontario #bathtubisland #niagarafalls #jetboat #helicopter #onoir #Kathrynanywhere #torontobloggersco #Torontotravelbloggers

Dining with a Disney Imagineer at Hollywood Brown Derby

On February 28, 2011 I got to dine with a real life Disney Imagineer at the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Wyatt Winter. Dining With A Disney Imagineer is a separate, special event you can reserve through Disney Dining for two locations at the Walt Disney World Resort.

 

Why Choose Dining with a Disney Imagineer?

It was no secret to anyone who knew me back in my 20’s and early 30’s, what a fan I was of the whole concept of Imagineering. And I was kind of a Disneyphile. That’s a person truly obsessed with Disney. It’s true, I have always loved vacationing at the Walt Disney World Resort and I was and still am into the creation of water parks and thinking up the ultimate escapisms.

The Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant is open for lunch and dinner in Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. It’s an upscale atmosphere that harkens back to the Golden Age of Hollywood. True story – The Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort is an authentic replica of the famous Brown Derby – the Hollywood landmark and hangout for Tinseltown’s biggest and brightest personalities.

Dine with an Imagineer offers engaging conversation with a Disney Imagineer, a 4-course meal and a special souvenir with a large group of people. The meal is pricey – it was $60.99 USD + tax and gratuity at the time of my experience. I believe the cost of this experience is now $89.00 per adult plus tax and gratuity. Our souvenir was an autographed plate which I indeed put up on display in my office at the time.

 

Should I Bring My Children To This Event?

Right on the website when you make your reservation, it specifically says “This experience is designed for Guests ages 14 and older and may not appeal to younger children.” Bold as I was I thought – hey man, no way. I’m on a family vacation, my toddler is coming too.

I’m not the only person who thought that way and as cute as I thought I was bringing her along with my fiance and I, there was probably only one other person in the group who thought she was cute, the others found her to be an annoyance. Likewise, there were 3 adolescents across the table from me dragged along by their father. The daughter paid no attention whatsoever and was drawing her name loves Justin Bieber in hearts the whole times and sighing how bored she was. The 2 boys indulged their father for about an hour, then started to get VERY restless.

Folks, unless your child has engineering in on their minds and project management and can discuss it for hours on end, DO NOT BRING YOUR ADOLESCENTS, CHILDREN OR TODDLERS TO THIS DINING EVENT. This is a three hour meal and even the most well behaved 10 year old will act out at some point.

Hello, Hollywood – Dine like a celebrity in the Golden Age of Hollywood at The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This gourmet American cuisine restaurant is an authentic replica of the original Brown Derby that was a longstanding Hollywood landmark. The menu features world-famous Cobb salad, steaks, seafood, pasta specialties and fine international wines. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Scott Miller, photographer)

What Is On The Menu?

Believe it or not, there was once a time where I did not document everything I did with pictures. I do not possess a picture of my meal, I have instead substituted with a stock picture from Disney’s media site below.

As far as restaurants go, the menu does change frequently. For our meal, we were served our choice of:

Soup – Asparagus Soup with Blue Lump Crab Crostini and a drizzle of Sherry Gastrique

Salad – Individual Classic Cobb Salad with Finely Chopped Greens, Turkey Breast, Bacon, Egg, Tomatoes, Crumbled Bleu Cheese, Avocado and Cobb Salad Dressing

Entrées

Choice of one:

Char-grilled Filet of Beef with Herb-roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Cremini Mushrooms, Cippolini Onions, and Cabernet Wine Syrup

or

Noodle Bowl with a Grilled Breast of Chicken, Soy Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Bok Choy, and Shiitake Mushrooms in a Red Curry Broth

or

Spice-rubbed Black Grouper with Sautéed Haricots Verts and Sunchokes,

Rainbow Carrot Slaw, and Citrus Butter

Desserts

Choice of one:

Grapefruit Cake – Light Layers of Yellow Cake with

fresh Grapefruit Cream Cheese Icing

or

Double Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée with
Dark Chocolate dipped Biscotti

Coffee, Tea, and Non-alcoholic Beverage

The food in bolded letters is what I ate and loved.

FROM DISNEY PARKS BLOG Inspired by the historic Hollywood locale, this signature dining location features three items from the original menu: the famous cobb salad, grapefruit cake and the Shirley Temple cocktail. https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2018/05/celebrate-the-29th-anniversary-of-disneys-hollywood-studios-with-these-fun-facts/
Cobb Salad at Hollywood Brown Derby. Picture from Disney Parks Blog

Tell Us About Wyatt!

Okay, onto the exciting part – meeting and chatting with Wyatt Winter. At the time of our experience, Wyatt was an Associate Project Manager with Walt Disney Imagineering based in Florida. His responsibilities include coordinating, planning and overseeing the day to day aspects and execution of various projects across the Walt Disney World Resort. So while Wyatt surely has some creative bones in his body – he presented as a businessman first and foremost. I do not want to burst the bubble of those thinking you’re going to sit with an animator or set designer. It could happen as there are a few who rotate the dining gig.

Wyatt’s Walt Disney Imagineering projects include Spaceship Earth, National Treasures at the American Adventure, Tomb Warriors in Epcot, the AFI Showcase in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Epcot 25th Anniversary Gallery. At the time of our experience, he was working on the newly announced Disney Children’s Hospital at Florida Hospital.

Wyatt got into Imagineering by starting out in the parks as a cast member. Yep – his first job was sending guests into the wilderness on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom and later was a skipper on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland Park while in university. So he already had an in with the folks there!

There were obviously some things that Wyatt couldn’t talk about or give much details about – upcoming secret projects for instance. He was happy to talk about the Fantasyland expansion. If my memory serves correctly, it was about to start at that time. Disclaimer – he was not a project manager on the Fantasyland expansion at that moment. He was keen to speak about his completed projects.

Hey Disney! I Want To Be An Imagineer!

I was extraordinarily interested in the process of becoming an Imagineer. As a permanent daydreamer, I have developed my own alternative universe on many occasions. That makes me practically qualified, right? For now, I’m just going to keep dreaming and one day apply for jobs at pop up on Disney Careers. If you manifest it, it can happen.

Dining with an Imagineer in Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney's Hollywood Studios
My toddler daughter and I outside Hollywood Brown Derby

Want to know where we stayed on that trip? Check out my post on Disney’s All Star Movies Resort here!

*** DISCLAIMER – I booked my Walt Disney World Resort Vacation through Fairytale Dreams and Destinations. This post is not sponsored by them or by Disney. I received no compensation for my expressed opinions***

This post was originally written for an old blog on March 5, 2011. It has been updated to reflect new costs and information on February 25, 2019.

Want To Dine With An Imagineer at Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney's Hollywood Studios in the Walt Disney World Resort? Check out our experience! #dinewithanimagineers #disneyshollywoodstudios #disneyphiles #disneyobsessed #wyattwinter #fantasylandexpansion #holllywoodbrownderby #cobbsalad

20 Photos That Will Inspire you To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park With Your Kids

Snowshoeing is one of those Canadian winter past times that we all, as Canadians need to experience. Why? Because it snows in this country for at least 3 months of the year in southern Ontario. Longer periods of time in other parts of the country and it’s no fun to be inside all winter. We all need fresh air! Where better than a winter wonderland in February like MacGregor Point Provincial Park to snowshoe at?

Here are 20 Photos To Inspire You to Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park With Your Kids This Winter:

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MacGregor Point Provincial Park is located on the eastern shores of Lake Huron in Western Ontario. The closest towns are Port Elgin to the north and Kincardine to the south. The drive from Toronto was approximately 3.5 hours including a quick stop for fuel and food.

PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019 20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

Snowshoeing is essentially hiking in deep snow. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Snowshoeing is a great cardio workout that helps you burn more calories than walking.

PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019 20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

I remember being on snowshoes as a child in Waupoos in Prince Edward County. Good memories of my time with the Girl Guides and Pathfinder units I was a part of. As with all of my fun childhood memories, I do my best to introduce my own children to the activity as well.

PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019 20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

It might have been my little man’s first time winter camping and being on his snowshoes, but he took it on like an old pro.

PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019 20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019 20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

MacGregor Point Provincial Park is open year round, but not all campsites are open. The campsites and yurts in the Algonquin campground are open through the winter. We were staying in Yurt #60 in the Algonquin campground.

PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019 20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

The sites in the Nipissing campground are closed, making that area perfect for snowshoeing because it’s not being used at all.

PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019 20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

Due to the snowstorm that we had for a couple days straight while we were there, there were some high snow drifts and a few unplowed roads that were awesome to take advantage of! The only competition my son and I had for breaking in the fresh snow was with cross-country ski enthusiasts.

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PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019 20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

The Old Fringe Trail is also good for snowshoeing if you can get over there.

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If you do get to Old Fringe Trail, stay off the ice of Lake Huron! Stay off of all ice.

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20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

Spending a couple days with my son on snowshoes (and him being pulled around intermittently in his sled), at MacGregor Point Provincial Park was a great bonding experience for us. I was able to introduce him to winter camping in Ontario, which is something is had not done yet! He got to try out sleeping in a yurt, which was different than the cabin and glamping tents he slept in last summer. He visited another great Ontario Provincial Park and got to know the Canadian past time of snowshoeing.

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20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

Little Man, being a city kid, doesn’t always get a lot of space to run and play.

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20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

At MacGregor Point Provincial Park, we had all the space in the world for him to play to his heart’s content. Everywhere was his playground! I loved watching him play so freely.

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20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

If ever you are given the chance to spend a couple days in a winter wonderland with time to snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park, take it. The yurts in the campground are comfortable, warm and toasty, there are heated comfort stations and also there is a skating oval and rink to enjoy!

Hope these 20 photos have inspired you to snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park with your kids this winter!

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Disclaimer: We were guests of Ontario Parks during our visit in MacGregor Point Provincial Park. Our views remain our own.

And a mega thank you to my friend, photographer and pseudo-uncle to my kids, Brian Tao for coming along!

What Are Post Vacation Blues And How Do You Cure Them?

Have you ever felt a lingering sadness after returning home from a vacation? Maybe it feels like a lack of purpose? It’s an odd feeling because you should be refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to tackle the world, but you aren’t able to and feel like you lack the motivation to do anything. This is called post vacation blues and they are feel.

I am feeling the post vacation blues right now. Just over a week ago, I returned with my family from Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos and it was one of the best family vacations we have ever had. Without that sun, sand, water and Pina colada in hand, it’s hard to be motivated to do anything. I’m unfocused and scattered. And while this isn’t the first time I have had this feeling, I think this is the worst I’ve ever gone through. I got home and had to dive back into a full work plate.

When our plane was taking off on the runway to come home, there were tears streaming down my son’s cheeks because he didn’t want to leave. It was a sweet moment to know what an amazing vacation we had put together for him to be feeling that way when we left. He kept saying before we left for the airport that he didn’t want to leave and asked if we could stay just one more day.

I felt what my son did too, I did not want to leave. I could have used another week away from work and my computer. It took me a couple days after being home, but I was soon into this thick fog of being fairly dissatisfied with my life.

We don't want to leave Beaches turks and Caicos! Do you have post vacation blues? #pdb #depression #vacation #neverwanttoleave #dontwanttogohome #postvacationblues

How Do I Know If I Have

Post Vacation Blues?

If you are recently back from a trip or a vacation and you are feeling anxious or depressed, that’s likely the cause. You could also be irritable, feeling tired, have a headache or want to be left alone. It is honestly difficult to acclimatize back into regular, daily life of work and responsibility after getting used to lying on the beach or not having a set agenda every day or falling in love with a new place that you did not want to leave.

Sometimes we are also dealing with two other factors – reverse culture shock, which is getting used to being at home again after being used to “living” another way. The other is financial shock. That’s the shock of checking your credit card statements and balances once you’re home and realizing how much you have spent if you were buying extra experiences, food, drink, accommodations and all.

My son is now happily running around with his friends at school. I, on the other card do not even have enough focus to plan my next vacation with my daughter.

How Do You Cope With

Post Vacation Blues?

Book Another Trip!

One of the first things I typically do to beat the depression after vacation is to book another trip. If I don’t have the financial means to book it immediately, and let’s be honest, the vast majority of us save our money for a year before we can take that vacation, I at least start to plan it. I look at where I want to go next, what experiences can I have, who will I travel with?

Look On the Bright Side

I’ll try to turn the post vacation blues into a benefit to think about how fortunate I am to have had this experience. I’ll frame it to myself as how amazing it was to have shown this to my kids, not what a bummer it is to be home.

Give Yourself Time To Adjust

If you can give yourself a day or two buffer between your arrival home and having to re-enter the workforce, do it. Organize your photos, do your laundry, get back into your time zone if you have jet lag.

Book Social Events

Don’t sit around at home. Make plans to see friends or colleague socially so you’re not siting at home and work all the time.

Get Back Into Routine

Get back into the gym on a regular basis if that is something you do. If it’s not something you do regularly, consider doing so. The good endorphins that emerge after physical activity are mood stimulators.I’ve never heard anyone regret a workout. And you’ll be healthier.

Decorate Your Work Space and/or Home With A Souvenir

Whether you frame a picture (or two), or have brought back a memento, display it. It’s inspiration for the next trip!

We don't want to leave Beaches turks and Caicos! Do you have post vacation blues? #pdb #depression #vacation #neverwanttoleave #dontwanttogohome #postvacationblues #oceanblues #shadesofblue

 

The depression after travel helps us all to look at what we are happy with in our life and what we are not happy with. Really hits home when you want to change the direction of your sails. We are all responsible for our own happiness, right?

Do Not Do The Following:

That said, when you are in post vacation depression, do not make massive life changes. Do not sell your house, ask for a divorce or liquidate assets. Really think about what you are doing and why. This is not the time to make rash changes.

I do want to add, as an ending note, if you find yourself feeling the post vacation blues for longer than a couple weeks and you find yourself in a severe depression or having thoughts of harming yourself, please seek help immediately. There are something that jumping back on a plane cannot cure.

Have you ever suffered post vacation blues? How long did they last? What did you do to shake them? Comment with your suggestions below.

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Flying With Kids From Canada? What You Need To Know!

Unless you live under a rock up there in the Great White North, you’ve noticed that it is winter around these parts. Sub-zero temperatures, snow, slush, ice, lack of sunshine, people suffering from seasonal affected disorder (SAD), it’s all quite awful to many Canadians. Some families can only endure so much and book themselves on a trip south to the warmth and sunshine. YAY! But wait, they arrive at the airport and find out… GULP – that their family is seated all over the airplane, the kids ALONE, seated beside a stranger. Here’s what you need to know about flying with kids from a Canadian airport to the sunny south!

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Flying With Kids From Canada?

 

1.) At this point in time, airlines are not obligated to seat your children with you UNLESS you have pre-purchased your seats on the airplane. Yes, as in pay money for your seat on top of the fare you already paid. Many airlines, including Air Canada and Sunwing have published tariffs on their website that state a parent will be seated with a child under 12 at no cost. It’s not an option that comes up when you book your flights online. You will need to call in after booking to select seats. If you opt to select your seats through their online system, you will have to pay.

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Please ensure you check the airline’s policy before you book the tickets. It’s best to be prepared rather than surprised when you arrive at the airport. In the future, there will (hopefully) be a passenger’s bill of rights in Canada that will state across the board that airlines will not be allowed to charge passengers to be seated with their children. This bill of rights is long overdue and is currently in the consultation process.

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2.) Weather delays happen. One of the most unfortunate realities of departing from a Canadian city is that there could be a major snowstorm. And that could mean that you and your children will be hanging at the airport for a few hours. Or you’re in the plane, but seated on the tarmac for awhile. Or the flight is cancelled and you have to rebook. You can check in for your flight 24 hours in advance on most airlines, but at that time, the flight coming and going on time is not guaranteed. Check your flight status before you leave your house.

Having insurance on your vacation is the best gift you can give yourself. Being out hundreds or even thousands of dollars due to a weather delay is a terrible situation to be in. It’s one of those things where sure, you could spend a couple extra dollars to upgrade your room view at the resort, or you could spend that couple hundred dollars on insurance. Personally, I buy the insurance and could care less about my room view as I’ll be at the swim up bar or on the beach.

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3.) A lot of kids do not sit still very well for very long. Shocking bit of information right there! You will have to devote some of your carry on baggage space to small games and activities. As a side bit of information – not all airplanes have TV’s on the seat back. It’s acceptable to walk with your children up and down the airplane aisle as long as you don’t do it during the food and drink service times.

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4.) Speaking of carry on baggage, on most Canadian airlines, passengers are allowed on small carry on bag and a personal item such as a purse or laptop. Check each airline’s website for size restrictions on carry on as it varies. This means that you cannot have bag upon bag of kid’s toys in your hand when you come to board. If your little one can bring their own backpack, make sure whatever they are bringing fits into that backpack.

I recommend that you do be sure to pack extra underwear, a t-shirt and a pair of shorts in there. Bathing suit is a bonus and doesn’t take up much room.

I cannot stress to you how fast the overhead compartments fill up when boarding. The space under the seat in front of you to tuck in bags is small too, so don’t overpack.

5.) You cannot bring bottles of water and drink boxes from home in your purse. Due to security measures, all fluids have to either be packed in checked baggage or purchased after you go through security. If your child is insisting to bring it on the way to the airport, have them finish it either in the car, when in line to drop baggage off or in line to go through security. Once they hit the check point though, they have to discard it. Security does not care about your child’s wants.

Same goes for sunscreen by the way! Pack that in checked baggage or purchase it at a much higher price once through security or at your destination.

Exception to the rule: If you are travelling with a baby under two years of age (0-24 months), you can bring baby food, formula, medications, milk, water and juice, in reasonable amounts that will be required during your flight(s) and any connections. These are exempted from the liquids, aerosols and gels restrictions only if you are travelling with a baby under two years of age (0-24 months), however they must be presented to a screening officer for separate inspection.

6.) Travelling as a single parent or without your spouse? Get a letter signed by the other parent stating you are allowed to travel across international boundaries with the children. I’ve personally never been asked for the letter at customs, but I would rather have it and have it signed by a lawyer or notary public than be stopped at the border and have the trip ruined. You can get a sample one from the Government of Canada here: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/children/consent-letter

7.) Passport! Don’t forget your passports. Yes, children require a passport. And many countries stipulate that the passport has to be valid for 6 months after travel, just in case you get stuck, stranded, whatever in their country. A parent’s valid passport is not good enough for children to fly on.

I do a flight south to the Caribbean with my children every year. Often once or twice during the year to other destinations. My kids are now 9 and 4, so that means I’ve been flying with kids from Canada for almost ten years. I’ve been there and done that! Maybe even seen it too, so if you ever have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask!

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