In Honor of USA Sun Vacation Sale!

Flight Centre currently has an amazing offer for packages to USA Sun destinations, like California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Florida, AND Puerto Rico! We are offering $200 OFF PER ADULT for custom packages which include flights from Canada, accommodation (3 nights minimum), and an activity. You can email me any time for more information: cate.ciu@flightcentre.ca  . In honor of this sale, I wanted to include a couple of my own highlights from some of the places on the list!

  1. Dole Pineapple Plantation in Hawaii
    Oahu is breath taking. The Hawaiian culture just inspires the ultimate sense of CHILL. The pineapple…ahem CHERRY … on top of the trip, was the my visit to the Dole Planation, where I tried delicious pineapple ice cream and looked my very best in a bikini (haha get it? because I am a pineapple in the pic below)
  2. Grand Canyon just outside Las Vegas
    I did Grand Canyon independently the first time, and with a tour the second. I highly recommend the latter. There is so much to see, and it is pretty difficult not to get lost in the “awe” of it all during your visit. Also, the tour company packed an amazing snack box and provided comfy, festive blankies for when it gets nice and chilly at the Canyon.

  3. Disneyland in LA
    My first visit to Disney was as an adult, and I cried from accidental joy. Also, try the churros.
  4. Do everything in Phoenix!
    I love Phoenix, AZ. Like truly love it. The long highways and the tall palm trees are music to my soul. It’s home to the BEST BBQ joint in the universe (no exaggerations here) and huevos rancheros that will make your mouth taste like heaven. If you want to go to Phoenix, we need to CHAT.

PicMonkey Collage.jpg

Living out of your suitcase just got easier

about1

I am always trying to perfect the art of packing. I try not to bring too much stuff (emphasis on try), and usually just unpack my bag in a hotel room. But if you are visiting for a short while or are frequently moving from one place to another, that’s not feasible. Shelfpack may have found a solution (emphasis on may). It’s a portable closet, built into your suitcase. It helps make your belongings more visible, so you don’t have to blindly feel around your suitcase to find that shirt. Frequent flyers, would you try this?

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 9.19.08 PM

InvestiCATEon: What movies are playing on my flight?

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 8.01.24 PM

Flights may only make up a small portion of a trip, but they can certainly feel like a life time. My favorite plane pass time is catching up on movies. I still remember the movie that played on my very first plane ride…it was Rush Hour. Let’s face it, it’s a classic, and it totally distracted me enough to not be scared. See, in-flight entertainment matters!

I have a loooong flight coming up, and in anticipation of it, I have been debating whether I should re-download the Serial podcast (where is season 2?????), you know, in case there aren’t any good movies playing in the air. BUT as I am flying with Air Canada, in-flight entertainment is no longer a mystery. You can go on their website, and check out what movies are playing on your exact flight!

I am so excited some of my favorites are playing! Trainwreck, Slumdog Millionaire, and Darjeeling Limited.

Fun Fact: Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, JetBlue, and Virgin America were all named top in-flight entertainment airlines!

 

The Best Restaurant in Phoenix, AZ

My boyfriend’s dad is one of those fantastic people who are able to scope out the BEST places anywhere in the world. It is thanks to him, I know about Bobby-Q. Since then, life has NOT been the same.

o-2.jpg

First off, Bobby Q is just plain cute, and kind of home-y. When you sit down, they start you off with some warm corn bread and butter – heaven. The menu is miles long, but I have my favorites. The brisket is to die for, and goes exceptionally well with the signature beer they serve. And then….there’s the sides. Roasted corn, potatoes, mac’n’cheese…SO GOOD. And when you are done your amazing, heavenly sent, finger licking meal…..they send you home with some cinnamon/brown sugar mini doughnuts. BRB, booking my flights to Phoenix.

February Paradise: Azores

az_smiguel_vilafrancaislet_0

Azores is a cluster of islands west of continental Portugal, but there are really no words to describe the beauty of this destination. It combines nature landscapes that will leave you breathless, finger-licking Portuguese cuisine, and a unique cultural experience away from familiar chains and brands seen everywhere in bigger Europe cities (why is there an H&M on every corner?)

When one of my clients said she wanted to go to Azores, I’m not going to lie..I did not know where Azores were (travel agents are people too!). For us, North Americans, Azores is a bit of a hidden treasure. And Europe, in general, can seem inaccessible. But, if you go at the right time (off season) and stay at the right places, a Europe package can cost you less than an all-inclusive. For example, this is the package I put together for my client.

  • Toronto, ON – Azores flights (direct; 6 hr)
  • Airport-hotel transfer roundtrip
  • 9 nights at a centrally located 4* Talisman boutique hotel
  • $1,181.96 CAD per person (based on 2 people in 1 room)

Are you interested in a custom package? Email me at cate.ciu@flightcentre.ca

Why I left a promising academic career to be a travel agent. Part 2: Not all those who wander…

IMG_5656

First order of business, you can read Part 1 here.

Like Lewis Carrol once wrote,”If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” So, here I was.

I think the biggest problem is that we sometimes don’t ask ourselves what we want, and that’s what happened to me. When I started my Master’s degree, I knew I wanted to do a good job, but I had no clue what I wanted to do afterward. My life was a Chopped ingredient basket: aimless, and somewhat ghastly. [Sidenote: I am speaking to the Canadian version of Chopped, which is particularly merciless to its contestants. Turducken? Are you kidding me?]

Back on track.

It seemed as though I had no one to turn to. “My life has been about studying others for so long, it’s as though I have neglected myself. If only there was school for THAT,” I thought to myself. But there was…..OPRAH’S LIFECLASS. Only she could put me back together.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 1.15.38 PM

I knew I had to have a tough conversation with myself. I had to ask myself what I wanted. Not what other people want for me, not what I have been told I am good at, but what I am truly all about. Since the Hamburglar role was already taken, I had to think of a plan B (joke).

My truest, greatest passion in life is people. I wish nothing more for myself than to have a positive impact on people’s lives. This is why I have studied Psychology, Social work, and Education. But often, those disciplines just teach people to live in their own heads. And I can personally attest to the fact that when you open yourself up to the world, your life can be transformed. For example, experiencing Cuban culture showed me how much we over-rely on material things, and visiting the Alhambra taught me that present day architecture has nothing on the Nasrid dynasty. Traveling enriches our minds and our hearts by showing us how insignificant we really are…and it makes us kinder, braver, and wiser. And this is what I want to do for others…to open up the world for those who want to see (trademarked by Flight Centre, but I can relate to the sentiment).

Image courtesy of PBS
Havana. Image courtesy of PBS.

If I may with another quote: “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” I suppose, I’ve arrived now. From the ivory tower of academia to a simple desk at my travel shop, and I couldn’t be happier.

So, hey you, what do you really want? Whether you are day-dreaming of experiencing magic at Disneyland or are gathering the courage to take on the highest peak of Bolivia, I want to help you get there.

cate.ciu@flightcentre.ca