A view from the water of a town of colourful buildings are built along the steep incline of a cliff.

A look at the most popular places to travel from Canada

According to new research from First in Service Travel LTD (F1S), Italy, France and Greece are the top international destinations Canadian advisors are booking and recommending.

“With all the pent-up demand for travel, coupled with the Canadian dollar’s stronger performance against the euro over the past year, it’s no surprise that Europe is performing so well,” explained Fernando Gonzalez, chief executive officer for F1S, one of North America’s largest independent travel agencies. “Italy has once again claimed its place among the world’s premier destinations, thanks to its stunning scenery, exquisite culture and history, epicurean delights, and extraordinary people.”

Findings from the recent survey had F1S travel advisors name the top three international destination they were booking for 2022. Among international destinations, 72.7% of the advisors named Italy as one of their top destinations, followed by France (45.5%) and Greece (27.3).

“Italy is always a winner,” added F1S advisor Willa Griffin. Advisor Waldo Wohl concurred, offering a simple explanation that “Italy is always Italy.”

Gonzalez indicated that the biggest surprise internationally for the year is the popularity of Greece. “Whether it’s the culture of ancient cities like Athens or the allure of the islands, Greece has really taken off over the past couple years. It was able to take hold during the pandemic and has maintained its strong forward momentum this year,” he said.

F1S advisor Marisa Wise added that she is booking “lots of Santorini. Its views and food are amazing. Also, Greek island cruising is super popular.”

First in Service advisors in Canada were also asked which “under the radar” destinations they are booking most internationally. Colombia and Portugal were tied for first place, with 27.3% of advisors recommending each. 

“Travel to the United States and cruising have both been on the rebound,” Gonzalez added. “Additionally, we will soon issue the trends we are seeing specifically for domestic travel within Canada.”

F1S advisor George Alexandrou is among those recommending Colombia because “it has a great mix of culture, adventure and direct flights.” Meanwhile, Portugal is recommended by F1S advisor Christina Gula, who said, “Portugal is a beautiful country with lots to offer. Great scenery, food and culture.”

Most popular travel picks

Each surveyed advisor was also asked to name the single most popular international destination they are specifically booking for Canadian clients on each continent and other major regions globally.

The top picks were:

  • Africa: South Africa
  • Asia: Thailand
  • Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific: Australia
  • Caribbean: St. Barths
  • Central America: Costa Rica
  • Europe: Italy
  • Middle East: Israel
  • North America: United States
  • South America: Colombia

Willa Griffin, who helps lead the agency in Canada, pointed out that they’ve seen a major uptick in last minute bookings with borders reopening.

“I think it’s been a combination of pent up demand and the feeling that the world might close down again,” Griffin shared. “Personally, I feel like things will regulate themselves again very soon. This spring and summer were all about having the freedom to travel again. Moving forward, I think people will again start to plan ahead, maybe not like they used but will want to ensure that they get what they want from their travel dollars. I am already seeing very limited availability for festive which to me is a very good sign.”

 

Insights and tips from travel expert Mark Wolters of Wolters World

Where to travel this summer if you want to avoid the crowds

Avid traveller Mark Wolters — who has been to 70 countries to date and counting — shares his adventures and honest travel advice on his popular YouTube channel, Wolters World, to 893K subscribers.

The Illinois-based professor, who is on the road five to six months out of the year, caught up with OFFSHORE to share some advice on where travellers can go to beat the crowds in Europe.

“With revenge travel still in full effect, even with all of the airport and airline issues, it is hard to find a tourist destination that is not crowded this summer,” says Wolters, who is on team carry on only. “We have spent the entire summer traveling around Europe and there are a few things we have noticed that may help you get a respite from the tourist hordes.”

Tip #1: Secondary destinations

“First off, main tourist destinations like Paris, London, and the Amalfi Coast in Europe are completely packed, however the secondary destinations have not been as full,” he shares. “Instead of the Amalfi Coast in Italy, go to Puglia and Southern Italy and explore Bari, Matera, Alberobello, and Polignano a Mare.

Tip #2: Heritage towns

“Puglia is a popular summer destination for Italian tourists. In Bari you can see the grandmothers making pasta in the street, visit St. Nicholas’ Basilica, yes that St. Nicholas, and party the night away with the locals. Even though there are still a lot of tourists visiting Puglia in the summer, you will notice significantly more elbow room wandering the UNESCO World Heritage towns of Alberobello with their Trulli homes that look like a colony on Mars and Matera (which is in Basilicata) with their sassi or caves carved out of the rocks, than you will on the Amalfi Coast.”

5 must-have fashion accessories for spring travel

Spring is one of the best times to travel, whether in Canada or abroad. Milder temperatures are perfect for a range of active travel, including hiking, camping, luxury glamping, and more. From now until summer, stay dry (and fashionable) with these top five accessory picks!

Rain Boots

Make a splash this spring with Cougar’s new ankle-high Firenze glossy rain boots. Available in six colours including cute pastels like the Butter Yellow and Cucumber Green, these boots mimic the classic design of a timeless Chelsea boot. Stylish enough for everyday wear, these pull-on rubber-like boots are fully waterproof, and also have a removable moulded foam footbed which allows for extra comfort for more adventurous days. 

$80, cougarshoes.com

Carry-on Luggage

Available in three gorgeous pastel colours (lilac, sea foam green, and blush pink), the Mecca Collection by Bugatti includes three pieces of luggage, each of which is equipped with a zipper-release expansion system to store all you need. The carry-on luggage (H : 18.5 x W : 13.75 x D : 9 + 2 in. ) weighs just 6.2 pounds and features a hard outer shell made of lightweight and resistant ABS and single 360-degree spinner wheels for effortless, smooth and quiet travel.

$149.99, bugatticollections.com 

Crossbody

Made from water-resistant vegan leather, the Edition22 Flap Crossbody is a perfect ally to explore any new city. Designed to be carried over the shoulder or as a crossbody, it offers multiple organizational pockets to store all of your everyday essentials in the right places. Available in black or charcoal grey.

$100, bugatticollections.com

Dry Bag

Adventure travellers will love K&B Sport’s new collection of adventure bags. The Canadian outdoor brand specializes in gear for active travellers. Available in four different styles (5, 10, 15, or 30L), the Bolet (pictured), is made of a lightweight, water-repellant fabric that keeps your belongings dry, weather you’re paddling down the river, hiking through the mountains, or simply exploring on a rainy day. A hook on the bag lets you easily attach the bag to a kayak, canoe or paddle board, while a roll-top closure allows for quick access to contents.

$19.99, www.k-bsport.com 

Socks 

Easily overlooked, a good pair of socks is a must for any frequent outdoor traveller. Darn Tough socks are a brand of socks designed specifically for active travellers. They’re made from a naturally antimicrobial merino wool blend that stands up to multi-day backpacking trips. The lightly cushioned sole provides extra comfort for long walks, without contributing to blisters or swelling. Choose from a variety of fun outdoor-themed prints and colours!

$29.95, www.mec.ca 

The pandemic has caused private jet bookings to soar. Here’s why.

Once reserved for the rich and famous, private jets have become an increasingly popular method of travel due to the exclusivity, convenience, and privacy they offer. As a result, several Canadian companies have expanded their fleets, noting an influx of passenger demand that can be attributed to several factors.

“Private jets have always been quite in demand even pre-pandemic, but there is no denying that we have seen that demand almost double in the industry throughout and as a result of the pandemic,” says CEO of FlyGTA Airlines, Chris Nowrouzi. Founded in 2015 at Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, the charter airline has expanded to six locations in Ontario and Quebec. The company currently operates seven private aircraft, and intends to expand its fleet throughout the year. “We fly to any destination in North America, and have fixed destinations in the South such as Miami, Fort Myers, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, and areas within that region,” Nowrouzi says.

Photo supplied by FlyGTA.

Earlier this year, private aviation services company Chartright Air Group added a Citation Ultra aircraft to the Chartright West Coast fleet. The current Calgary-based fleet has several strong performers under its brand in the luxury private jet space, including the Falcon 2000LX (a large jet) and the Challenger 300 (a super midsize jet). The new Citation Ultra is smaller and classified as a light jet, making it the ideal choice for more intimate groups and leisurely activities.

One of the most popular aircraft for leisure and corporate travel, the aircraft can easily reach several popular U.S. sun destinations, including Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Scottsdale, and Las Vegas, as well as sought-after Canadian escapes like Kelowna, Vancouver or Fort McMurray from a Calgary gateway, as of Feb. 1, 2022. “Since the Ultra is a private jet, we can depart from over 5,000 airports,” says Svitlana Gaidamachenko, marketing manager, Chartright Air Group. “The same can be applied to our private jet, the Challenger 300 located in Regina, Saskatchewan. One of Saskatchewan’s most premier aircraft can fly directly from Regina across North America.”

Welcome aboard

Although airlines have reinvented their cabins over the years to appeal to their clientele of luxury travellers, offering a suite of upgrades and amenities, the onboard experience aboard a private jet is simply unparalleled, Nowrouzi says. “It’s very private, and it’s over too quickly! Generally once we take off, the cockpit door is closed, and you have the aircraft to yourself. You have the option to enjoy yourself with a movie, or browse on WiFi, or enjoy the premium bar on the aircraft. The best part in my opinion, is the arrival experience. Customs meets the aircraft on the tarmac, and you’re off within five to ten minutes.”

Photo supplied by TCS World Travel.

FlyGTA can also supply custom catering and exclusive branding for its guests. FlyGTA currently allows passengers to request a tailor made private jet rental, or use the instant book feature via the company’s website. The tailor made option is created by means of a custom quote, whereas the instant book feature is commonly reserved for more common destinations, like between Toronto and Montreal to Florida and the Caribbean. This year, airplane tours aboard the company’s private jets begin March 2022.

Custom experiences

The Four Seasons Private Jet, which offers travellers a choice of group jet expeditions or custom private travel, provides a fully all-inclusive luxury experience. “There are completely bespoke and personalised trips for individuals, families or friends for anywhere they want to go, using either private or commercial flights,” says Becky Youman, Communications Director, TCS World Travel. “These trips are all encompassing—from first-class commercial or chartered transportation and world-class accommodations to savvy local guides, curated dining experiences, transfers and end-to-end service.”  

TCS World Travel is the exclusive operator for the Four Seasons Private Jet experience, working very closely with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. TCS World Travel has been operating private jet journeys for Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts since 2012. Booking on the Four Seasons Private Jet also provides complimentary luggage handling, ground transportation, and a veteran expedition team who handles all of the logistics of the trip. 

Photo supplied by Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.

What’s the cost?

As far as pricing is concerned, the cost of booking a private jet typically depends on the aircraft and destination, as opposed to individual ticketing. “The cost to fly private is generally for the whole aircraft,” says Nowrouzi. “Prices [for FlyGTA passengers] can range from $6,000 for Toronto to New York, $25,000 to the Caribbean, and upwards of $50,000 to $150,000 for flights to Europe or South America. In general, I would say the prices compare to a first-class ticket for each person in your group, if you were to fill the plane.”  The price of a private jet experience also depends on what is offered onboard, as well as the overall trip at hand. Adult pricing for 2022 Four Seasons Private Jet itineraries, for example, begins at USD $173,000. The trip cost does not include airfare to and from travellers’ home city; passport and visa fees; personal expenses such as laundry or telephone charges, optional additional activities, such as golf fees or spa services not covered by resort credits, private cars and drivers; and food and beverage consumed outside of the private jet and regular daily meals.

New this year, TCS World Travel launched a small group jet expedition to Canada with a set itinerary. Running Aug. 13 to Aug. 27, 2022, Unchartered Canada is a 15-day journey that transports 12 guests to six Canadian cities including Vancouver, Clayoquot, Churchill, Halifax, Fogo Island, and Montreal. Along the way, guests will stay in luxury five-star accommodations, discover Canada’s breathtaking wildlife, and enjoy the comforts of an all-inclusive journey from beginning to end. As Canadians continue to seek out new experiences, jetting off on a private aircraft is a trend that will likely remain. 

“From 2012-2020, 10 per cent of all Four Seasons Private Jet guests were Canadian,” says a media spokesperson for Four Seasons. “The benefits of travelling by private jet have become more desirable in the current state of the world,” adds Youman. “Fewer people per plane, a more controlled environment, smaller airports, private or expedited customs and immigration, and the ability to make changes and pivot up to the last minute are all hallmarks of travelling by private jet that guests are prioritizing.”




Five post-pandemic travel trends you’ll see more of this year

 As we navigate our “new normal”, it’s obvious that so much has changed, including travel.

Here are five travel trends to watch in 2022.

Romantic travel

Hugely popular prior to the pandemic, destination weddings are expected to make a significant comeback, as countries around the world continue their trajectory towards a high vaccination rate. Many couples were forced to postpone their big day when countries closed their borders and cracked down on visitor arrivals, and as a result, some of these weddings are more than two years in the making! While destination weddings tended to be on the smaller side, now, most international wedding venues can accommodate anywhere from 50 to 250 guests and provide a selection of both indoor and outdoor venue options.

Revenge travel

After two years of staying home, travellers are now likely willing to pay more for the experience they want. Frequent travellers who were unable to travel as a result of COVID-19 related travel restrictions may be eager to splurge on luxurious experiences that include everything from boutique hotels, gourmet dining, and one-of-a-kind experiences. Richard Villeneuve, president of travel agency Voyages en Direct, says that price is no longer the most important factor driving bookings and his clients have a budget that’s 25-35 per cent more than they would have invested in holidays prior to the pandemic. After not travelling for such a lengthy period of time, those who can finally hop on a plane are eager to make the trip count!

Bubble travel

While group travel was often a popular choice, “bubble travel” is predicted to be the new way to travel with friends and family. Group travel could mean you are travelling with strangers from all over the world, but bubble travel ensures you’re with people you know, and who were likely in your social circles throughout the course of the pandemic.

Workation travel

In most workplaces, what started as a work-from-home model has evolved into a “work from anywhere” model. So long as an employee has the tools required to do their job appropriately, like a laptop, cell phone, and reliable internet connection, it really doesn’t matter if you’re working from your house in North America, or from a resort down in the Caribbean. Workation-style travel also allows employees to enjoy a destination without using up all of their vacation days, which are typically 10-15 per year. 

Wellness travel

Prioritizing one’s mental health and practicing self-care has become increasingly important during the pandemic, especially in countries who continue to practice tough restrictions, lockdowns, and other COVID-19 health and safety protocols. In 2022, expect to see more vacations centred around personal wellbeing— think yoga retreats, solo travel, spa retreats, and even silent retreats.

Planning the perfect Girls Getaway

It’s been literally forever since you’ve caught up with your besties over Mai Tais or manicures, hasn’t it? Well, now’s the time to start planning your reunion tour! Whether your girl group is into chilling, shopping, adventuring, eating, drinking, or a little bit of everything – let this list of luxurious locales inspire your next long weekend away with the ladies. 

 

PALM SPRINGS  

Pools and palm trees, what more does a girl need? Palm Springs is an oasis of quirk, kitsch, and cool in the California desert. Take a self-guided tour of some of PS’s most photogenic and colourful front doors. Sip on a famous date milkshake from the State Fare Bar + Kitchen at the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage. And don’t forget to pack a fun floaty for that perfect pool pic. 

Photo by Visitgreaterpalmsprings.com

PORTO 

Calling all food and wine lovers! Perched  on the Douro River, Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city and the world’s most famous  producer of Port wine. Become a connoisseur with endless options for Port tastings and tours. Explore the labyrinthine cobbled streets of the Ribeira District, revel in the vibrant nightlife, and eat to your heart’s content with local dishes like Bacalhau, cod prepared every which way; Francesinha, a baked sandwich; and Queijo da Serra da Estrela, a regional cheese. 

DUBLIN 

Of course, when visiting the Irish capital you have to hit the highlights like Temple Bar, Trinity College, and the Guinness Storehouse. But Dublin has a glamorous side too! Stroll Henry Street with its chic boutiques, shops, and Arnotts department store. Spend the day luxuriating at The Shelbourne Hotel’s spa before meeting for a lavish afternoon tea at The Merrion, or climb aboard the Vintage Tea Tour for a sweet ride that combines a guided tour of the city with high tea. At night, you can’t miss the live music and pub culture that Dublin is known for – Sláinte!

Story by Ashley Rochefort

WORKING from HOME

Almost 40% of Canada’s workforce is currently working from home, that means no commuting, no mind-numbing meetings, and no stuffy business suits. The only thing that could make working from home more dreamy? Working from a sunny, sandy beach in the Caribbean. But before you pack your bags, each country has different entry requirements, quarantine protocols, health and safety regulations, application processes, fees, and length of stay maximums, so it’s important to do your research in order to choose the right country to suit your WFH style. Here are a few of our favourites…
 

ANGUILLA

Trade in your humdrum home office and work from one of Anguilla’s 33 white-sand beaches this winter. Visit IvisitAnguilla.com for details on local telecom companies, schooling, banking, shipping of personal effects, and a list of resorts providing access to conference rooms, business centres, and state of the art technology. The Anguilla Tourist Board will also connect you with a dedicated concierge to guide you through the application process and fees.

Anguilla

BARBADOS

BAHAMAS

The one who started it all. Launched in July, Barbados was the first Caribbean nation to offer special visas for remote workers, encouraging people to move their home office to paradise by relocating to Barbados for up to a year. Want to be Bajan for a year? Take the first step by visiting Barbadoswelcomestamp.bb.

Work from one of Bahamas’ prettiest pool decks at Nassau’s famous Graycliff Hotel & Restaurant. Enjoy Graycliff’s elegant suites, daily continental breakfast, nightly turn down service, and high-speed internet throughout the property. Stay a minimum of 14 nights to qualify for savings of 50%. For details on Graycliff’s Workation Special and links to government protocols, visit Graycliff.com/seasonal-specials.
 
 
 
 
 
Visit Barbados

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA

Antigua and Barbuda’s Nomad Digital Residence (NDR) Program allows you to work safely from the twin-island paradise for as long as two years with the new NDR visa. Those choosing Antigua and Barbuda can also benefit from its no personal income tax status. Find out more at antiguanomadresidence.com.
If you’re looking for the finest in luxury hotels, check out Curtain Bluff’s (curtainbluff.com) extended stay packages developed to complement the NDR Program.
 
Antigua English Harbour
 
 
ST. BARTHS
Take quarantine to the next level at one of WIMCO’s (wimco.com) private villas in St. Barths. WIMCO also has properties in the Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos, and more. Stay up to 90 days and get used to jumping in the sea to celebrate the end of a conference call.
 
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Casa de Campo (casadecampo.com.do), a private gated community in the Dominican Republic, is the perfect spot to work from home this winter. After work, hit the beach, get in a round of golf, or savour the world-class cuisine. All long-term guests will enjoy a four-passenger golf cart, complimentary wifi and access to the business centre, housekeeping twice per week, and15% discount on food, spa, and laundry services.  
 
 

Story by ASHLEY ROCHEFORT

The World’s 17 Best Beaches

From remote stretches of sand in far-flung locales to the ever-popular Caribbean getaways, there is a bounty of spectacular places for travellers to soak up the sun, whether they seek white, pink or even black  sand. So, where should you plan your beach escape for next winter? Why not try one of the top 17 beaches in the world as voted by the experts, Canadian travel agents.

1. VARADERO BEACH, CUBA Overwhelmingly popular, Cuba’s Varadero Beach is ranked one of the absolute best. With its icing sugar sand, Varadero Beach is often described as the softest, whitest, cleanest beach.
2. GRACE BAY BEACH, TURKS AND CAICOS Photo Courtesy of Turks & Caicos Tourist Board
3. SEVEN MILE BEACH, NEGRIL, JAMAICA While it may actually only measure 6.3 miles, Negril's Seven Mile Beach still measures up as one of the top beaches in the world. With world-class sunsets, white sands, and warm waters, it's no wonder this stretch of beach is nicknamed “seven miles of heaven.” Photo Courtesy of Couples Resorts Jamaica
4. BLACK SAND BEACH (PA’ILOA), WAI’ANAPANAPA STATE PARK AND KAANAPALI BEACH, HAWAII
5. PUNTA MAROMA, MEXICO
6. Bavaro Beach DOMINICAN Courtesy of Barcelo Hotel & Resorts
7. CABLE BEACH, BAHAMAS Photo Courtesy of Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Located in Nassau, Bahamas, travellers love the Cable Beach area for its beautiful beaches and snorkelling. Many resorts and intimate hideaways are beachfront or just a short stroll away, but no matter where you’re staying in Nassau Paradise Island, you're mere minutes from wiggling your toes in the sand and frolicking in warm, multi-hued azure waters stretching as far as the eye can see.
8. MATIRA BEACH, BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA Photo by Marc Gérard
9. SIESTA KEY AND ST. PETE BEACH
10. PATONG BEACH, PHUKET AND RAILAY BEACH, KRABI, THAILAND Photo Courtesy of Tourism Authority of Thailand
11. SEVEN MILE BEACH, GRAND CAYMAN The Cayman Islands, a peaceful British Overseas Territory, is packed with endless activities, the ultimate culinary scene, and, of course, the renowned Seven Mile Beach. It's the perfect spot to stroll miles of warm powdery white sand, relax under a swaying palm tree, or dive into calm crystal-clear waters. This is paradise.
12. EAGLE BEACH, ARUBA Photo Courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority
13. WHITEHAVEN BEACH, AUSTRALIA Photo Courtesy of Day Dream Island
14. MAGENS BAY AND TRUNK BAY, USVI
15. THE BEACHES OF AITUTAKI AND RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS
Photo Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises
15. THE BEACHES OF AITUTAKI AND RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS Photo Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises
16. CRANE BEACH, BARBADOS A perennial favourite of “best beaches” lists, Crane Beach, Barbados feels secluded, with towering cliffs to one side, and protected by natural coral reef. Picture-perfect pink sand, close proximity to the airport, and amenities of the nearby The Crane Resort, make this beach a stand-out.
17. HORSESHOE BAY, BERMUDA

Have Family, Will Travel

Behind the scenes with Workin’ Moms Star Catherine Reitman

Catherine Reitman is both literally and figuratively a workin’ mom. Known on-screen for her starring role as Kate Foster, the real life mother of two sons is also the creator, executive producer and writer of the acclaimed original comedy series Workin’ Moms, which is filmed in Toronto. As season three of the International Emmy–nominated show gears up to hit the air Tuesday nights on CBC starting Jan. 8, the Toronto transplant shares some memorable family travel experiences, like hiking New Zealand with her husband, producing partner and Workin’ Moms co-star, Philip Sternberg, and getting covered in vomit
while touching down in Costa Rica.

What do you never leave home without?
My phone and my kindle.

Carry-on or checked bag?
Anything under 10 days, I attempt a carry-on.

Favourite city or country to travel to?
Tokyo, Japan.

What’s still on your bucket list?
I’m very curious about exploring more of Asia. That’s next on my to-do list.

Where did you go for your honeymoon?
The Amalfi Coast. My digestive tract is still healing.

Best tip for surviving family travel?
Don’t bring them.

Best meal you’ve had on the road?
I ate pizza in a basement in Rome that I still fantasize about.

Do you have a travel ritual?
I never over-caffeinate before a flight.

What’s a memorable thing that’s happened to you while travelling?
My son managed to vomit on every private part I have while we were landing in Costa Rica. Silver lining,
they felt so sorry for me, they allowed me to skip the line at customs.

What’s your most adventurous/challenging travel experience to date?
My husband and I travelled to New Zealand and hiked mountains we were sure would kill us.

How often do you travel? Has that changed with kids and a busy work schedule?
We’re fortunate enough to still be able to travel frequently, both with and without children. However,
with has been more memorable.

By Ann Ruppenstein