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30
Apr

Top 8 Ways to Travel Securely

Traveling is always great. You get to create great memories and experiences. But it's very easy to have these replaced with unwanted problems and pressure, the very things you want wanted to get away from in the first place. Here are the top eight precautions anyone should take to avoid problems and travel securely while out on an adventure.

1. Passport Management:

This is the most important document while you're traveling and having some sort of contingency plan for if it gets lost will ensure peace of mind. Before traveling, have 3 copies of your passport information made. Leave one copy with a close acquaintance and take the rest with you. If you happen to lose your passport, you still have access to the information which embassies require.

2. Travel Insurance:

Another item that offers the peace of mind, having insurance will ensure that in the event something goes wrong (especially with your health), you're covered and don't have to pay extra fees and suffer long waiting periods.

3. Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket:

How easy it is to be able to access all that you need in one simple place. Yet this convenience has its risks. Be sure to keep your carry-on items categorized according to importance. Have the more important cards (credit, debit, health insurance etc.) separated from the less risky ones like your driver's license. Even if you lose the latter, you may still have your scanned copies with the information. Keep cash separated as well. Have small bills in easily accessible areas while the large bills reside in more secure places.

4. Call A Friend:

Leaving for vacation can put your home at risk of break-ins. There are several precautions you can take. Some include expensive sensory and alarm systems. However, some may cost little to nothing. These include things like informing a trusted neighbor and asking them to keep an eye out, canceling your mail temporarily (if on an extended trip) or even buying a “Beware of Dog” sign even if you don't have a dog.

5. Update Your Information:

Wherever you decide to go, be sure to stock up on information on the place you're visiting. Recent news events, local etiquette, environmental conditions and medical checkups etc are all good areas to be knowledgeable about.

6. Keep valuables hidden:

Whenever traveling abroad, there's always a real possibility of a 'slash-and-snatch' thief to strike. Do not have your phone or cameras hanging out. Such actions can attract thieves like a magnet. While it may be inconvenient to have to take them out all the time, its certainly better than the inconvenience of having them stolen. This is generally applicable when traveling out on streets and roadsides but may apply to some indoor areas as well.

7. Beware Public Wi-Fi:

Its always a great convenience to have access to public Internet in cafes. It can be tempting sometimes to make credit card transactions with the convenience offered but keep in mind that you have no knowledge of how secure these terminals are. They may have viruses and key-logs that can record your data and allow unauthorized access to it. For emails, do not use your primary ones. Use one that is specifically intended for travel instead.

8. Backing Up Photos:

Make it a point to backup your photos on a daily basis each day you take pictures. If you don't and your phone or camera gets damaged or stolen, you'll lose all those great moments. Carrying a small hard drive for this purpose can help greatly.

28
Apr

Top Six Tips To Packing Light

When traveling, one of the hardest things to do is to pack—and pack light to be exact! Here are our Top Six Tips to help you pack lighter for your next trip:

 

1) Make a List and Check it Twice

Do your research before you travel. Always check the weather at your destination as well as your itinerary for your trip. Make a list of ONLY the necessary items that you will need to bring. This will limit you from packing things that you do not need.

 

2) Mix and Match

Plan your outfits and items ahead of time. Only pack items that will have more than one use for your trip, for example a dress that can dressed up or dressed down, a pair of jeans can be worn with multiple different shirts/blouses.

 

3) Pack a Little Detergent

If you are away for a longer period of time, either get your clothes washed using the hotel's services or bring a little detergent with you so you can wash them during your stopovers.

 

4) Low Maintenance Wardrobe

It would make the previous tip easier for you, if your clothes are both wrinkle resistant and also made of quick dry materials. This will save you time during your trip and space in your luggage.

 

5) Pre-Packing

Before packing your items into your bag, lay them all out on your bed or floor first so that you can physically see what you are taking. You will not only know if you have too much or missing anything, it will most importantly limit you from adding other items that you may not need.

 

6) Buy Stuff There

Last but not the least, ask yourself if you can buy any items that you have in front of you at your destination. More often than not, you will find that some items that you have are unnecessary or can be bought along the way.

 

Happy travels!

21
Apr

Top 5 Ways To De-Stress After Exams

A couple of weeks ago we posted a blog about the different ways to avoid stress before the exam season begins! Since most students have finished or are about to finish this semester, here are few ways we recommend you relax after the weeks of hitting the books!

 

1. A Day At The Spa

When was the last time you treated yourself to a nice change? Let Aveda take care of you for one day and give you the royal treatment you deserve. With the amazing spa and salon services they offer, you will come out with a fresh new look and a great new feeling. Who knows, you may even love the new you!

2. Take a Road Trip

You could stay local and go to Niagara Falls or even Montreal. If you’re looking to go abroad, or even explore the West and/or East Coasts of Canada, SQM has great deals on travel all over the world! It’s a great opportunity to take your mind off of things, visit family/friends, go shopping, enjoy a new atmosphere, meet new people, and to just have a great time.

3. Shop 'til You Drop

Retail therapy is a great way to get rid of stress! Hit the mall with some friends, or even by yourself! Short on cash? Why not try mystery shopping? We have great assignments that will leave you with more money in your pocket, so sign up today and see what we have near you!

4. Dine Out

When was the last time you went out on a lunch or dinner date just to treat yourself to quality food? Now that exams are done, it is the perfect time for you to invite a couple of people, or one special someone out for a meal! There are tons of great restaurants out there, and we love hearing about your experiences!

5. Canada's Wonderland

For all you thrill seekers, purchase your Wonderland pass now so you can enjoy a day, or a season, full of roller coasters, water parks, fireworks, special performances, and delicious funnel cakes. Not a fan of long lines? Fast Lane passes are also available now for you to bypass the regular lines for just $35 in addition to your admission fare!

07
Apr

How To Save Up For Your Dream Vacation

Through the eyes of Zainab...

Saving up for that dream vacation may not seem as easy as it sounds. Many people save for weeks, months and some for even years, to get that week or two away from their daily routines and just relax. Whether it be that sunny trip to Cuba, or that visit back home to Greece or even that long awaited honeymoon to Paris, you should start saving today!

Here are some simple ways to how you can save money for that dream vacation you've always wanted.

1. Create A Savings Account

Set aside a reasonable amount of every paycheck to deposit into this account. When deciding on how to to save, consider the approximate cost of your trip and how soon you would like to go. Aim to deposit at least $100 to $150 from each paycheck. That being said, as long as you are depositing something and DO NOT withdraw your money, you can deposit as little as $20 or $50.

2. Stop Eating Out

A lot of us have the habit of eating out every single day! Whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner or sometimes even all three. Try cooking a meal at home, and if you find that you don't have the time, pre-plan your meals on the weekends. Make larger portion sizes so that you can have leftovers for lunch the next day.

3. Budget Weekly Expenses

Little things like those daily coffee runs, weekly movie outings, or even just casual shopping trips can save you from spending a lot. Now I'm not saying to stop having fun, just limit the activities that will make you spend money. Set a weekly budget for spending on night outs with your friends and family, food, etc.

Cutting down little by little will help you save up for your dream vacation and it will also help you carry out good money saving habits.

 

17
Mar

Top 5 Ways To De-Stress Before Exams

All high school, college, and university students are aware that final exams are creeping up!  Although it may not seem too stressful at first, it can become overwhelming as the exam day gets closer. Here are ways to de-stress before and after exams!

1. Stay Ahead of The Game

It is never too early to start organizing your notes. If you want to be creative and make it a fun task, go to a local dollar store and buy some colourful tabs to separate your information. This will make an upcoming studying session easy to follow, help you find the information you need faster, and you might enjoy studying off of a presentable binder.

2. Study Sessions

Create a study group with a couple of classmates or friends where you each can help each other stay focused and explain sections you may be confused about. Before you commit to the group, make sure the people in this group will work hard during their time together.

3. Snacks

Make sure you have a lot of healthy snacks around you to keep you energized while you are studying. Although most students prefer sugary snacks, it’s important to keep in mind that these types of snacks are not going to maintain a stable energy boost. You can even reward yourself with some comfort food for when you are done studying to keep you motivated.

4. Take a Walk

Get up and take a walk after you complete reading/writing a significant portion of your notes. Staying active and being exposed to fresh air always relieves the extra tension. Take your dog, sibling, friend, or iPod with you on your walk so you can enjoy some company or music.

5. Sweet Dreams

In the midst of exam preparation, you may forget about the most important thing...YOURSELF! Not eating or sleeping right can disturb your ability to do well during exams, even with all the successful studying you may have done. Get all the sleep you can so your body does not shut down on you when you need it to be fully awake. Take care of your body and make sure to get a good night's rest after every study session and before every exam.

 

12
Mar

Top 5 Ways to Eat on a Budget

Dining out at restaurants can become quite expensive, and someone who enjoys the finer foods in life may have a higher grocery bill than most. How do you avoid the costly goods? We've compiled our top ten ways to eat on a budget:

1. Check Store Flyers

Most large supermarkets put their weekly flyers on their website. Be sure to check the deals on-line and compare it with your grocery list, and map out which stores have the items you need that are on sale before heading out to get the best deal for your money. There is also an app called Flipp, which notifies you when your favorite grocery store flyer is out and which local store has the best deals.

2. Try Smaller Grocery Stores

Sometimes the big-named grocery stores do not have the prices we are looking for. If your neighbourhood has smaller, family-owned grocery stores, check them out! From my experience, I've found that they tend to have lower prices while having the same level of quality of food and cleanness as a big-named store.

3. Minimize Eating Out

There is no denying the fact that restaurant food is more expensive than food made at home. Avoid eating out unless its a special occasion. If you do decide to eat out, look for items that offer greater value for your dollar as opposed to quality and quantity.

4. Consider Replacements

While keeping to a list is essential, be on the look out for substitutes. If the price of oranges in your list have gone up but apples are on sale, you can opt for the apples instead.

5. Reduce Sugar Consumption

If your most of your snacks consist of sugary sweets, it's time to make a change. Not only are these snacks not good for you, they are costing you more money and will end up making you crave more food. Try eating fruits, trail mix, granola bars for your snacks; they're cheaper and will keep you full for a longer period of time.

If you find that you are consuming soda to quench your thirst, consider carrying a bottle and fill it frequently with water from the tap or filter. This will help you save money and reduce your calorie intake.

10
Mar

Tastes From Around The World

Through the eyes of an intern...

We all know that Toronto, Ontario is a tremendously multicultural city. This means that we have the opportunity to taste dishes from all across the globe. Below, we have covered five restaurants that we consider fantastic restaurants ranging from casual to upscale:

1. Salad King

This Thai restaurant that is located in the heart of downtown. This is a place to try out with a friend if you are in the Dundas Square area, or simply shopping along Queen Street or the Toronto Eaton Centre. Despite the name, they offer a variety of Thai food including Pad Thai, Thai Isalic Noodles, and Bangkok Stir fry. It is recommended to make a reservation as the restaurant tends to get busy throughout the night.

2. Messini Authentic Gyros

If you are ever looking for a Greek restaurant that is very affordable with great customer service, Greek Town is the place for you. They have a large variety of pasta and entrée options available that are very filling. Be sure to order fries as your side option – it is one of their specialties. They have the take-out option if you are on-the-go.

3. Vivoli

This is an Italian restaurant that you can take your family to for a comfortable dinner outing. If you missed the opportunity to eat at this restaurant during Winterlicious, They offer a variety of tasty Italian dishes. Aside from the menu, the ambiance and decor of this restaurant is very cozy, and the staff are very friendly, and are attentive to every customers needs to ensure an exceptional dining experience.

4. Gandhi Indian Cuisine

This restaurant is known for its iconic rotis. If you enjoy eating Indian food, this restaurant is worth checking. Although they are known for their iconic rotis, the restaurant offers a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, such as their rice dishes, samosas, and pakoras.

5. Harbour Sixty Steakhouse

This is a great place to bring your date for the first time, or to simply experience a luxurious dine-in experience. When you walk in, you will notice the restaurant has three dining areas and the decor has a more of an old-school ambiance. Depending on your taste, you have the option of ordering from one of their many seafood or steak entrées. You can expect great value in terms of the quality and portion size.

Bon Appetite!

 

 

05
Mar

The Sound of A Better Seat

Through the eyes of an intern....

I love looking for great deals on the internet when I hear about a theatre offering a deal. If it was to see a musical or play that I have been dying to see, whether it's one of my favorites or freshly off Broadway, I find it really hard to turn the deal down.

A couple of months ago, my friend and I were lucky enough to go see the multi-award winning musical Jersey Boys. The show was great and so were our seats (and better yet was the price we paid for them). We got two tickets for the price of one! How? By signing up to receive notifications about deals from the Mirvish website. It's free to do so and can end up saving you lots of money.

 Nowadays our inboxes are filled with e-mail, a lot of them coming from companies that are trying to make a sale. That being said, if you're a theatre nerd like me, you're not going to be marking these deals as spam. Of course, there isn't a guarantee that the play you want to see will be having a ticket sale. A positive about getting these “spam” emails is that it make it's easier to see which shows are currently playing at different theatres and it's a great way to discover plays that you may not have considered watching before.

 If you're on the fence about signing up, here is why I signed up.

 One of the more popular plays, The Book of Mormon, was playing in Toronto last year. I've been wanting to see it for a while, but something always came up. By the time I found out about the discounted tickets for the show, there were only a handful of seats remaining. Unfortunately, I missed the show again. After this, I searched the internet and found out that the easiest way to get deals for plays was to sign up at Mirvish.com. 

 If you’re looking forward to seeing a classic or want to check a new play, I highly recommend signing up to get these notification in order to save money and you may even get some of the best seats in the house.

03
Mar

Putting The “U” in Success

Through the eyes of Zainab...

There are many ways to achieve success in life. It all depends on your definition of success. Success can mean a lot of things, for some it can be getting that perfect job, that dream house or it may even be giving that life changing presentation to your boss. In order to achieve success it will take a good amount of time, effort and patience. You just have to follow your dreams and not give up! You will also face many obstacles and will have to overcome them. Here are some helpful tips to achieving success in life. Follow them and you will see success come to you in no time!

1. Start NOW!

If success means getting that dream job you have always wanted, then wait no more! Begin now, do what it takes to get to it. Whether it means going back to school or gaining relevant work experience through a CO-OP program, internship, or a new job! Think about what your goals are and then begin to start achieving them. Make your goals attainable and give yourself a reasonable time span to achieve them. Remember to start small and work your way up.

2. Face the Hurdles!

For every step you take in life, you will face obstacles. There will be some hurdles that will compel you to quit and give up your dreams. That being said, the best way to overcome them is to be ready to face them. We've all heard of the saying 'hope for the best, but prepare for the worst', so have a backup plan if you're initial attempt isn't successful. Keep in mind that there is more than one way to achieve your dreams. Face the obstacles and conquer them!

3. Don't be a quitter!

Don't give up halfway! Your journey will not be short (sometimes it can take months, and even years), and it will not be easy; whatever the time span, just stick to it. Like they say: “quitters often don't taste success,” so have patience and keep working hard, success will come to you! Take my word for it!

 

24
Feb

Top Ten Getaway Destinations for the March Break

Tired of the cold weather and snowstorms? Want to getaway for the March Break? Here are our top ten getaway destinations:

1. Honolulu, Hawaii

You can never go wrong with Hawaii. Stay at one of Wakiki's beachfront hotels, and enjoy some quality time on the white sand beaches where the surf is always up. You can also hike around the Koolau Mountains, and visit the Polynesian Cultural Centre to get in touch with the local culture.

2. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is the perfect getaway for those looking for a dose of entertainment over the break. You can hit the slot machines, grab last minute concerts or Cirque du Soleil show tickets, or enjoy a scrumptious meal at the many magnificent restaurants along the strip. The possibilities are endless.

3. Austin, Texas

Are you a music lover? Visit the “Live Music Capital of the World” to check out the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival to watch more than 2,000 performers at over 100 venues.

4. Sunshine Village: Banff, Alberta

If you love the snow and would much rather spend your break on the slopes, this is just the place for you! Sunshine Village houses many on-hill accommodations and lodges to allow you to enjoy every second out of your slope time. Other activities available include soaking in hot springs, shopping, and dining as well as many other options in nearby Banff.

5. Nassau, Bahamas

Visit this Caribbean gem where you can spend time in upscale boutiques and restaurants along Bay Street, relax on the powdery white sands of Cable Beach, and stay in impeccable resorts. Make some long lasting memories with your friends!

6. Barbados

There are a ton of things to do in beautiful Barbados! Whether you go surfing the powerful waves of the Atlantic, snorkeling at Folkestone Marine Park, or check out magnificent caves and waterfalls, your days will be unforgettable.

7. Tulum, Mexico

Home of the Mayan ruins, this city is a must-see for everyone. Around the city, you will find small cabanas and B&Bs, which provide a more relaxed environment than the bigger, bolder cities of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. A peaceful getaway destination with many restaurants and nightspots to try.

8. Negril, Jamaica

Ever wanted to try cliff diving? Be sure to visit Rick's Cafe where you can even see locals jump from cliff tops while you sip specialty drinks. Yes, this is a real thing. The unobstructed view of the sunset will take your breath away.

9. Walt Disney World, Florida

There is no better to spend at “the most magical place on earth.” The amusement park offers something for the whole family to enjoy including the famous Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Centre, world-renowned restaurants, and of course, all Disney characters that your kids can meet. If you chose to stay for more than one night, you have the option of to stay at one of the 27 themed resort hotels.

10. San Diego, California

Love to surf but can't go all the way to Hawaii? You must visit San Diego! Just like in the Aloha state, the Surf is always up here with the sun shining bright to keep you warm. If you're not much of a surfer, visit La Jolla Cove to go kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. When you need a break from the beach you can't miss checking out Balboa Park.

No matter where you go for the break, take the time to relax, spend time with the ones you love, and always remember to have fun!