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.

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Advice to an anxious traveller

I am about to take off for a trip, and in spite of being a travel agent, I have pre-travel jitters. Have I packed everything? Are my pets going to be okay? What if my bag gets lost? What if I get lost?

Well, in times like this, I just have to remember Mr Roger’s advice (below). Flight Centre has a 24/7 customer care line, and I have a great travel insurance policy, but the bottom line is – with all my heart I believe that people are kind, whether it’s a local giving you directions in spite of a language barrier or a British Airways stewardess that sneaks you extra snacks on the plane..and this thought gives me immense comfort.

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February Paradise: Azores

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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…

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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.

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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

DreamCATEon: Japan

The Great Buddha of Kamakura
The Great Buddha of Kamakura

To be clear, I would love to go anywhere on Alex Spatari’s Instagram (which is my source for today’s dreamcateon), but this week, let’s focus on the beautiful Japan. Japan has it all: GREAT food, busy cities, rich history, and BABY DEER!!!!!

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One of the most photographed places on Earth! Fushimi Inari-taisha
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The busy Shinjuku Kabuki-cho

Continue reading “DreamCATEon: Japan”