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Holiday sins: The 7 new rules of travel

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No one ever travelled to narrow their horizons. As Mark Twain famously wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness …”

But as we flit around the world in a frenzy, trying to tick off all the things, are we in danger of travel becoming just another commodity? Of taking it for granted?

Travel has so many touch points, so many decision-making moments and the choices we make – and the attitude we keep – can affect not only our own experience but those around us, the countries we visit, and the industry as a whole.

“A lot of us see travel now as a right … when, in fact, it’s a real privilege,” says Dayana Brooke, director of The Sustainable Traveller.

Dayana founded the Virtuoso agency six months ago after becoming disillusioned with the business travel world and walks the talk, supporting “green” hotels and experiences, and giving her travellers simple tips to be more mindful about what they pack, saying no to plastics and travelling paper free.

“To me, being a better traveller means knowing my actions can have a direct impact in either a positive or negative way to the people around me and to the environment,” she says.

Make your next holiday a more mindful one with these expert traveller tips.

It is possible to experience animal tourism experiences created to help preserve not exploit — you just have to do your research.

It is possible to experience animal tourism experiences created to help preserve not exploit — you just have to do your research.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Of course there’s the fun, surface level stuff to consider when planning a trip – where are we going? Where are we sleeping? What am I going to wear? But being a better traveller means thinking outside yourself to read up on the history and culture of your chosen destination before you go.

Can you dress the same as you do at home? Is it customary to tip while eating at a local restaurant? As Intrepid Travel‘s Brett Mitchell says, “The last thing you want to do is insult or exclude a local by a careless mistake that could have been avoided.”

Liz Glover, marketing director at Scenic, schools herself on the economic status of her destination before she takes off, to be aware of what to tip. “Too low can be offensive, too high can actually be dangerous,” she says.

Even knowing local quirks, like noodle slurping in China or a disdain for small talk, will stop you from misinterpreting certain behaviours and potentially making incorrect assumptions.

“If we are to breed good and harmonious relations between foreign communities and world travellers, having compassion, respect and cultural intelligence is critically important,” World Expeditions CEO Sue Badyari says.

Don’t be one of ‘those’ tourists in Bali, who are disrespectful to local customs.

Don’t be one of ‘those’ tourists in Bali, who are disrespectful to local customs.

MAKE SMART CHOICES

We’re living in a time flush with options – we can pretty much travel wherever we want using whatever method of transport suits our mood at the time, which means it’s also becoming easier to make a statement with our tourist dollar.

Research the operators you’re spending with – do they support the local economy and provide activities that are ethically aligned? If your aim is to give back on your travels, dig a little deeper to be certain you are actually supporting the vulnerable.

The Flight Centre Travel Group has established a Responsible Travel Charter to inform and educate customers on issues surrounding “voluntourism”, orphanage tourism and animal welfare.

You may think you’re helping but sometimes volunteers are brought in to perform duties that could be fulfilled by a qualified local, which denies much needed employment.

Travel Associates‘ marketing general manager Darren Wright suggests buying local and staying in local hotels versus big-name chains as one of the best ways to give back on your travels.

Consider staying in local hotels in lesser known areas (like Gokayama, Japan) in order to make sure your money is being fed back into the local economy.

Consider staying in local hotels in lesser known areas (like Gokayama, Japan) in order to make sure your money is being fed back into the local economy.

“I travel to Japan with my family a lot so we look for little villages and stay with families, which offers financial rewards to smaller communities,” he says.

Buying souvenirs created by local artisans rather than cheap, mass-produced imports is also a win-win and, in some developing countries, you can help give back by visiting social enterprise – Emma Prineas from Wendy Wu Tours is a big fan of the gorgeous silks woven by artisans in Ock Pop Tok in Laos.

And while the perils of animal tourism are well documented, some experiences are actually created to help preserve not exploit.

At Singita lodges in Africa, a significant amount of the tariff is not taken as profit but funnelled into conservation and sustainability practices. A new property opening in Rwanda in 2019 is the result of a partnership with the Rwandan government to bolster their gorilla conservation efforts in the Volcanoes National Park.

Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania, funnels part of their tariff into local conservation efforts.

Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania, funnels part of their tariff into local conservation efforts.

HAVE R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Being on holidays equals switching off but, for some, that switch can flip far enough to forget manners, too. A cancelled flight, stressful taxi ride, or struggling with a stuffed suitcase through Venice’s cobblestone streets can tip you over the edge and cause you to lash out.

Travel writer Craig Tansley is mindful that, “You’re on other people’s territory when you travel. How you handle that responsibility is a gauge of what sort of traveller you are – don’t tread on too many toes.”

If you consider every interaction in your travels as an energy transfer – from pressing the call button to your interactions with frontline staff at airports and hotels – it makes the “dramas” easier to shrug off. If you’re agitated, it can spark a domino effect whereas if you can level yourself with everyone you meet along the way it makes for a smoother ride.

One of The Sustainable Traveller’s clients was in Peru, about to board the luxury Belmond Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu, with only three days to see the sacred sights and then fly out. Her 89-year-old father flew in from the US to meet her as one of the last experiences of his lifetime. And there was a train strike.

“He was like, you know what, it wasn’t meant to be. Even he was OK with it. But so many people would have been just like, ‘where’s the train, I’ve paid for all this, and it’s a very high-end price!’ Thankfully my clients saw it from the point-of-view of, ‘why is there a strike, what does this mean for the locals, what’s the purpose?'” Dayana says.

Open your mind and the truly good times that make travel so rewarding and worthwhile will follow.

Despite not getting to Machu Picchu, or its picturesque surrounds such as the Sacred Valley of the Incas or Urubamba Valley, the traveller kept their cool.

Despite not getting to Machu Picchu, or its picturesque surrounds such as the Sacred Valley of the Incas or Urubamba Valley, the traveller kept their cool.

TRACK YOUR IMPACT

Overtourism and exploitation are the darker sides of travel that no one wants to unwittingly support, which is why tour operator G Adventures has introduced its new “Ripple Score” – an evaluation score which indicates what percentage of a tour’s local expenditure remains in the local economy.

The average Ripple Score across its 640 scored trips is 93, meaning that 93 per cent of the money spent in-destination across these tours is spent with locally owned businesses, benefiting local people.

“As I travel now I need to understand what impact my presence in a particular place has on that community (positive or negative),” says Lonely Planet‘s Chris Zeiher.

“Being aware is being empowered. It may mean I change my mind on visiting a particular country, city or region, or it may even influence what attractions I visit while I’m in a destination.”

Rather than following the pack, Brett Mitchell from Intrepid Travel suggests travelling to less-frequented destinations, such as Komodo and Flores (in Indonesia) instead of Seminyak, to increase tourism dispersal and support local communities with your tourist dollar.

Don’t follow the pack: when next in Indonesia, try Flores instead of Seminyak.

Don’t follow the pack: when next in Indonesia, try Flores instead of Seminyak.

RESPECT FEES, RESTRICTIONS

Before you bemoan entry fees to wilderness areas or restrictions on visitor numbers, such as in Machu Picchu, think about why they’ve been implemented.

Land grabs to transform wild spaces into farms, or giant luxury resorts and golf courses are a big problem in areas such as Patagonia. South American travel experts, Viva Expeditions, reminds guests that entrance fees can help local people generate an income from their land, prevent tourist overcrowding and also stop the land being ravaged for commercial gain by speculators and big business.

CHANNEL CAPTAIN PLANET

The environmental impact of our travelling ways is impossible to ignore but with a few simple habits and mindshifts, it’s easy to be a force for change.

Start with a BYO water bottle and coffee cup, say no to single-use plastics, don’t use straws and you’ll find the more you refuse, the most respect you’ll gain.

You can even be a better traveller by using the right sunscreen. The Banyan Tree hospitality group has a new skincare range that includes oxybenzone-free sunscreen, helping to highlight the plight of our reefs.

The chemical, which is the ingredient that blocks the effects of the sun, has been found to contribute to coral reef bleaching and was recently banned by the state of Hawaii.

Making more considered choices inspires resorts to step up to the environmental plate, too. Can you join a local beach clean-up? Help to replant mangrove forests, such as the program at Nanuku Resort in Fiji? Take part in coral regeneration projects? Or consider your food wastage.

After removing plastic straws across their eight resorts in Asia, Club Med has pledged to ditch plastic straws from its 68 resorts worldwide by 2019. Since implementing a “Straw on Request” policy, replacing plastic straws with paper straws (and then only on request), Club Med Phuket alone has seen an approximate 76 per cent decrease in the use of straws, reducing the daily use by an estimated 1000 straws.

Even if you can’t stay somewhere with eco credentials, Dayana from The Sustainable Traveller suggests you can still practise sustainable travel. “Knowing that you’re going to reuse your towels or you’ve brought your own water bottle, you’re going to say no to the plastics, that’s just as important,” she says.

Also consider your impact through air miles and fuel consumption – do you need two suitcases or could you share one between two? Every piece, or lack of it helps.

A reusable water bottle is an easy way to lower your impact. Picture: Averie Woodard

A reusable water bottle is an easy way to lower your impact. Picture: Averie Woodard

BE A GOOD HUMAN

Luckily, it’s a rare person who doesn’t translate their travels into a deeper respect and understanding for humanity and the land upon which we tread.

Being mindful of your behaviour and thinking about what you can give as well as receive may form the basis of being a better traveller but travel writer Craig Tansley suggests you can also do better by just not being like everyone else.

“If you’re in, say Bali, and you notice a bunch of Aussies treating locals like they’re below them, then you make a point of being the one who respects every local,” he says.

“Even being respectful to one person can totally change the way they see tourists and it can also make that person’s day.

“Be nice – it’s super simple.”

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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