Wednesday, May 21, 2014

5 Things to Do in Calgary That Aren't Stampede

Every so often, even the nearest and dearest of friends will accidentally introduce me as being from Calgary. It’s not entirely inaccurate—despite living in Toronto for nearly a third of my life, I stubbornly insist on calling myself Albertan.

But being from Alberta and being from Calgary are far from synonymous. In fact, as any good northern Albertan knows, this isn’t just a minor mistake—it borderlines on a grievous error. Northern and Southern Alberta are two worlds apart (or in the case of my hometown and Calgary, 600 kilometres apart). They’re not in the same biome and as a result, they don’t look geographically similar and have distinct climates. Northern and Southern Alberta even cheer for different hockey teams. When someone introduces me as being from Calgary, it’s like introducing someone who is from Timmins as being from Toronto.

In fact, apart from some hazy roadtrips in my early 20s (thankfully, the memories of Stampede-inspired pseudo cowgirl outfits, fake bachelorette parties and early-noughties screamo concerts have been pleasantly blurred by the alcohol I consumed during that period of time), I’ve actually spent very little time in Cowtown. (I’ve also never willingly referred to it as Cowtown before this moment. There’s a first for everything, I suppose.)

That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to visit when Tourism Calgary invited me to join a press trip in March. I hadn’t been in nearly 10 years and it turns out that in that period of time, I’m not the only one who grew up. Calgary is a lot more mature than I remember. It has a heck of a lot more to offer than just 17th Avenue and Stampede. 

Here are my top five suggestions for how to get to know a grown-up Calgary:  

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Cheap Travel Insurance for Young Canadians

Greetings from Ecuador! Nothing exciting to write about Quito yet (I just flew in today) but I wanted to write a quick post, since I've been asked for this information a lot over the past month:

Travel Insurance: Regardless of where I'm going outside of Canada, I always purchase travel insurance. Even if you have coverage through your workplace benefits or credit card, I suggest purchasing additional coverage to make sure you're protected for the unexpected, including theft and baggage loss.

My go-to travel insurance provider is TIPS Travel Insurance. If you're under 30, their Youth Premier Non-USA Package will cover you for a really reasonable cost. (I don't think I've ever paid more than $40.) The one time I had to make a claim, they were efficient at processing it. I'm turning 30 this month, so will report back after I'm no longer eligible for the youth package.

Travel Agent: If you're looking for a great flight or vacation package, my go-to travel agent is Jane Hart from Medallion Travel.

Travel Doctors: If you have a good relationship with your family physician, don't need any special immunizations (ie-Yellow Fever) and can do a bit of legwork yourself (DFAIT's Travel Advice is the best place to start), in my opinion there's no need to go to a special travel doctor.
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