5 things to do in Osoyoos

Osoyoos is one of the hottest places in Canada, literally! Located just 4 hours from Vancouver, this desert-like region is well worth the visit. Check out my 5 things to do in the area below!

1) Visit the Nk’ Mip cultural centre – If you’re headed to Osoyoos, you’ll want to reserve a few hours for the Nk’ Mip cultural centre, located right near downtown Osoyoos. Run by the Osoyoos Indian Band, the cultural centre offers lots of great learning experiences via interactive presentations of song, dance, wildlife exhibits, etc. They have exhibits both inside and outside, sharing the history of their people, the land, the language, etc. You can also hike through some of their trails that start off right at the centre.

2) Eat at Dolci Deli – This trendy looking café is where you’ll want to go for homemade lunch and dinner. The Dolci Deli serves up tasty dishes using local ingredients and offer a variety of vegan as well as gluten-free options. They have a beautiful outdoor patio and vintage-inspired bar and dining room. The staff is also incredibly friendly and the food is reasonably priced.

3) Swim in Osoyoos Lake – Known for its warm water, the Osoyoos Lake is one of the main attractions in the region. Its sandy bottom and long beach area, offers beachgoers plenty of area to set up for a long day of lakeside fun. If you’re also into SUPing, kayaking or even wake boarding, there are lots of places to rent equipment from and where you can organize water adventures!

4) Go for breakfast at JoJo’s Café – This local hotspot is where you’ll want to go to start off your day. JoJo’s Café is a great place for coffee, breakfast and also to work as they have some free wifi and lots of seating options inside and out. They even have some yummy homemade vegan muesli!

5) Watch the sunset from a winery – The area is filled with a handful of wineries. With the hot arid climate in the area, the Osoyoos region is able to produce a lot of the heavier reds that other areas of the province or even country cannot. One of the best spots to watch the sunset, while sipping on some delicious wine is from the Nk’ Mip Cellars‘ outdoor lounge area. You can order a flight of wine as well as one of their boards and watch as the sun sets over the lake and valley.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

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After having spent a great week with the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid this winter, I was thrilled to have the possibility to try out the new Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro for the very first time on my recent travels to Oregon.

The Toyota Tacoma is one of the most coveted trucks on the market, especially out in British Columbia, as this has become the go-to truck for outdoor enthusiasts in the area. With 4×2 and 4×4 models to choose from plus the option of choosing your own engine and transmission combinations, cab and bed sizes, there’s definitely a model for everyone!

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What I was immediately surprised by is the vehicle’s ability to handle the road as well as its interior comfort. Not only do you have an incredible view point from the driver’s seat but you also have access to a wide variety of accessories, that makes your drive the most pleasant. Things like the Cruise Control, Navigation, 7″ Display Screen, Bluetooth Capability, AM/FM CD with MP3/WMA Player, Audio Auxiliary Input Jack, USB Audio Input, 6 Speakers and Advanced Voice Recognition, allow you to relax while enjoying the road. They’ve also added a GoPro mount right at the top of the windshield, thus being the first to include that in the market.

The Toyota Tacoma‘s versatility is also a key feature. All 2017 Tacoma models include an independent front suspension of double-wishbone design with stabilizer bars and multi-leaf spring rear suspension. TRD SPORT models feature sport-tuned suspensions, while TRD OFF-ROAD models are equipped with Bilstein shock absorbers, so that whichever terrain you wish to venture out on, you can have full confidence that the truck will be able to handle it.

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The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro edition comes equipped with a 3.5 Litre, 6 Cylinder Engine, 6-Speed, Automatic transmission, Super Electronically Controlled Transmission (Super ECT) and Lock Up Torque Converter. For those more mechanically inclined, the truck also features Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), 4-Wheel Crawl Control, Multi-Terrain Select, Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Trailer Sway Control, One-Touch 4WD, Vehicle Stability Control, thus making it the ideal vehicle if you want to pull an RV or trailer for your expeditions.

Toyota is also renown for its top of the line safety features. The truck provides a total of 8 Airbags, Seatbelt Anchor Height Adjusters, Front Seatbelt Pre-Tensioners and Force Limiters, Assist Grip, Front Tow Hook, Active Front Headrests with Whiplash Protection just to name a few significant items.

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The truck’s roomy and cozy interior as well as its bold and stylish exterior, will make truck enthusiasts and new passengers enviable.

In summary, the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro was the ideal companion for my adventures out in Oregon. Below is a short recap video of my adventures with the truck! For more info on the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, go here.

New CIBC Air Canada Multicurrency Prepaid Card Perfect for Frequent Travellers

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Store up to 10 currencies and travel worry-free with the new CIBC Air Canada Conversion Prepaid Visa

If you’re a frequent flyer like myself, you know that one of the hassles of travelling to the United States or Europe on a recurring basis is having to exchange currencies every time you leave on a trip. I used to run around Toronto to try and get different currencies before my trips, or would get to the airport earlier just to ensure I have time to go to a currency exchange bureau before my flight. But I now no longer have to, thanks to my new CIBC Air Canada Conversion Prepaid Visa .

The new CIBC Air Canada Conversion Prepaid Visa , the first-of-its-kind in Canada, allows you to purchase foreign currency whenever you need and manage it simply via a mobile app on your smartphone 24/7 from anywhere around the world. This reloadable prepaid card allows you to store up to 10 currencies at once on just one card. What’s great is that your exchange rates will automatically be locked in so you won’t have to worry about fluctuating exchange rates and carrying large amounts of cash in multiple currencies on you all the time.

The card is equipped with chip and pin security as well as tap and pay for fast and easy payment. You also get one free ATM withdrawal per country each month, which is key when you travel from country to country frequently. The card also provides a payment method that is not linked directly to your primary bank account, providing a little extra peace of mind on the road.

As a cardholder, you are not charged any additional fees while using the card (excluding ATM fees), so you can keep track of your balance easily. The card can be used anywhere that Visa is accepted around the world, and it offers an Emergency Card Replacement Service and an Emergency Cash Service Protection, for worry-free travels.  

This fall has been filled with a lot of international back-to-back trips, starting in Hawaii, then France and Portugal followed by California before I head back up to Canada in the new year. The CIBC Air Canada Conversion Prepaid Visa , has been a game-changer for me, allowing me to travel in peace knowing that I am not carrying foreign cash in my wallet all the time. I have used it not only on-site but also to reserve some of my hotels and activities in advance online and over the phone.

The card is free of purchase and can currently be used in 45 countries, but CIBC will add more currencies in the future. Current currencies available are: US Dollars, Euros, British Pounds, Australian Dollars, Japanese Yen, Hong Kong Dollars, Turkish Lira, Swiss Franc, Mexican Pesos and Canadian Dollars. Each currency has a limit of $3,000 CAD per load with a total currency capacity for the card at $20,000 CAD, thus making it the go-to travel companion!  

For more information or to apply online for the card visit: acconversion.cibc.com.

This post was written in collaboration with CIBC but all opinions are my own.

5 Things to do in San Francisco

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San Francisco is a city that grows on me every time I go for a visit. Whether it’s the vibrant food scene, the beautiful beaches or even some of the cool fitness studios in the city, there is always something new to check out no matter how many times you make it to the area. Here are some of my recommendations for your next trip to San Fran.

1) Go for a walk at Baker Beach. This beautiful beach is located just a few minutes away from the Golden Gate Bridge. Though it tends to get crowded during the summer, it’s relatively empty during the winter time and just as stunning. The big majestic trees that are located on top of the bluffs overlooking the ocean make for stunning pictures. Plus the views of the bridge from afar, make it a prime walking destination.

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2) Eat at Tartine Manufactory. The newest addition to the Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt’s Tartine Bakery family in San Francisco is their ultra hype restaurant called Tartine Manufactory. Located in the Mission District, they serve a cafeteria-style lunch as well as a delectable sit down dinner. You can also obtain some of their infamous bread if you go early enough during the day. The dinner menu offers a wide range of meats, grains and veggie options as well as some of their delicious breads. Their desserts are also killer. Make sure you reserve in advance if you want to have a spot.

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3) Go for a spin class at SoulCycle. This incredibly popular spin studio recently opened 3 locations in downtown San Francisco, one at Castro, another at Union and finally in SoMa. The SoulCycle studios are a lot bigger than most in Southern California and the amenities are always topnotch. Their instructors are some of the best in the biz, ultra motivating and will get you sweating in no-time! I recommend taking a class with Andrew, he always has a rad playlist!

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4) Stop by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. Satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with a quick stop at this ultra popular joint. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse offers the most delicious assortment of pastries and donuts. Grab just one or an entire box, everything sweet and savoury on the menu is to-die for. A major guilty pleasure!

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5) Visit Clarion Alley.  It’s easy to miss this little gem as it is tucked between Valencia and Mission Street in the Mission District. Grab a juice from next door at Happy Moose Juice and wander through Clarion Alley decorated with beautiful murals painted by members of the community. The Clarion Alley Mural Project, the American Indian Center are just some of the groups that have contributed artwork to this beautiful alley.

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Journey with Escape Campervans

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For the past month and a half, my husband and I have been living in an Escape Campervans. When came time to book our latest Californian adventure, we were on the lookout for a new low-cost experience that would allow us the flexibility to travel to different cities around the state while also providing us with some great accommodations. After doing a bit of research, I found a great van rental company called Escape Campervans based out in California. If you’ve traveled across the southern United States, you’ve probably seen some of their colorful vans on the road.

What I immediately loved about Escape Campervans was the two great campervan models they offer. We opted for the bigger model of the two, the Mavericks, seeing as we’d be living in it for quite some time and it turned out to be the perfect size. Their converted Ford E150 campervan was easy to drive, park, economical and also allowed us to travel to anywhere our hearts desired. The 17 ft truck was the perfect home on wheels with fully stocked bedding, 2-burner stove, sink with running water, refrigerator, cooking and eating utensils, tons of storage space, picnic chairs and everything we needed to be independent during our trip. I was particularly a fan of their solar-powered fridge and light, allowing us to make food even while off the grid.

Escape Campervans also offer a handful of different add-ons and options so that you can customize your experience exactly the way you want it. We opted for a roofbox to put all of our extra luggage, a GPS, a USB charger as well as one of their custom Insurance packages. The company also offers complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance.

The thing about #vanlife is that no matter what you end up doing with your campervan or where you end up going, it’ll always be an adventure and a unique learning experience. I’ve learned so much about camping, the roads, National Parks, etc. in the past month and a half, things I would have never learned if I hadn’t partaken in this great once-in-a-lifetime journey. The danger with vanlife is, once you get a taste of it, you’ll want to keep doing it. After living in a van for almost two months, we’ve grown so used to it that we are thinking of getting our own van after this portion of our travels ends. Our love for the #vanlife just keeps on growing every day!

You can find Escape Campervans in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas, New York, Denver and Seattle. For more info, go here.

Video shot with: Huawei Nova Plus and DJI Phantom.

5 Things to do in Porto

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Why Porto should be on your next European itinerary!

Portugal is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe yet we rarely hear much about it. I was lucky enough to be able to travel there earlier this month to find out more about this history-rich destination. One of my favorite cities during the trip was Porto, which is jaw-dropping city. Today, I share the 5 things you must do while in Porto.

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1) Visit the Sandeman Port cellars. Founded by the Scotsman George Sandeman in 1790, Sandeman Port is to this day, one of the most renown brands of Port wine around. You can visit their cellars on one of the many multi-language tours they offer. Furthermore, you can also learn about Sandeman via their little museum, go for a tasting or just simply enjoy a drink and snack on their outdoor patio bar.

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2) Take a tour of the Livraria Lello bookshop. If you’re a Harry Potter fan than you’ll definitely want to add this stop to your Porto itinerary. The Livraria Lello is the infamous bookshop that author JK Rowling frequented in the 1990s, when she taught English in Porto and that eventually inspired her series of novels. The architecture and design of this bookshop is unlike any other!

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3) Eat at Taberna D’avo. This restaurant located in the basement of a traditional Porto house offers rustic meals in a classic Portuguese setting. They serve some of the best local products in homemade recipes made from scratch. Yet, a table of 4 can eat a 4-course meal with wine for $60 Euros total!

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4) Take a walk on the Ponte de Dom Luís I. The Ponte Dom Luís I bears a lot of ressemblance to the Eiffel tower. The bridge’s top and lower deck allow for fantastic views of the Douro river as well as its two shores – downtown Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. It’s a great sightseeing spot as well as great way to get to and from the central area of the city. Finally, there is also a tram line that crosses the top portion of the bridge for those not wanting to walk.

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5) Cruise down the Douro River. Another great way to see some of Porto’s most beautiful architecture and sights is simply by hopping onto a “Rabela barcos”, one of their traditional boats, while enjoying some local Porto wine and learning about local traditions, history and so one. Most noteworthy is the fact that the cruises are available all day long and in several languages.

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Jane Goodall Collection by G Adventures

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Growing up, I spent countless hours reading National Geographic because my family had a subscription. I remember reading a really inspiring article on Jane Goodall and was immediately intrigued by the work she had been doing with chimps. Since, I have read countless articles about her work in Gombe and with the Jane Goodall Institute. Along with legends like marine biologist Sylvia Earle and environmental activist David Suzuki, Jane Goodall has always been on my dream interview bucket list. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to spend a day with Dr. Goodall.

I’m thrilled that G Adventures, a Toronto-based adventure travel company, the biggest for small group travels recently announced a partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute to help promote the importance of wildlife-friendly travel.

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Called the Jane Goodall Collection, this program of 20 curated wildlife trips has as a goal to raise awareness of the importance of wildlife-friendly tourism. These trips are a great way to learn about the natural world as well as our relationship with it. They also hope to raise awareness for the Jane Goodall Institute, which supports research into the behaviour of wild chimpanzees, and community-based conservation programs that protect chimpanzees and their forest environment.

The Jane Goodall Collection trip destinations include Borneo, Madagascar, the Galapagos Islands, Kenya and more. I can only imagine how awesome and inspiring it can be to potentially walk in the footsteps of Jane Goodall during one of these trips!

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For more information on the Jane Goodall Collection by G Adventures please visit www.gadventures.com.

5 Things to do in Kauai

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1) Go surfing. This may seem obvious but surfing is Kauai is TOPNOTCH. Prior to visiting Kauai, I had never surfed in such clear and warm water. Mexico pales in comparison to Kauai. You can find all sorts of surf breaks around the entire island that will suit any level of surfer. Newbies will love Hanalei Bay and the local favorite Anini Beach or Keālia Beach (Andy Irons’ favorite surf spot) while more advanced surfers will love Poipu Beach and Tunnels. The summer is great if you’re looking for chill waves with not a lot of force. That said, the current can get quite strong around the island, so it’s always better to go in the water with a buddy or somewhere where there’s a lifeguard. Since I was new to the island, it also took me a little bit of time to get familiarized with the swell and different breaks. There are lots of sharp corals in the water so little boots or water shoes can be helpful.

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2) Fly over the island with Blue Hawaiian. I’m not a huge fan of helicopters but flying over Kauai is a must if you can swing it. It is one the pricer excursions you can do while in Kauai but well worth the money. It’s really the best way to see the island inside and out, as a lot of the island is wild and only accessible via boat or helicopter. Not only is the scenery unreal but you will learn a tremendous amount about the island’s history, evolution, etc. The 80-minute tour left me speechless. We got the chance to fly over the breathtaking Waimea Canyon, Mana Waiapuna also known as the “Jurassic Park Falls’, got up close and personal with the Na Pali Coast and the Bali Hai Cliffs, which made me pinch myself a couple of times, what a sight! We also got a full tour of the different little towns and regions of the island. The Blue Hawaiian team were excellent tour guides and gave us a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Flying over the island just makes you appreciate nature that much more and makes you want to do anything in your power to conserve such beauty.

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3) Get food at Java Kai. Located on the east side of Kauai, in the historic Kapaa town, this local hotspot is the perfect place for breakfast, lunch or a mid-day snack. All of their food is homemade from scratch. Their menu is filled with local specialties, healthy and vegetarian treats and colorful bites. There’s also a great community vibe at the shop making you want to come back again and again. I’m secretly hoping they’ll open up other locations in the US or Canada in the near future.

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4) Go horseback riding at Silver Falls Ranch. One of the best ways to explore the garden island is by horse. The Silver Falls Ranch offers unique horseback riding excursions that allow you to explore the pristine scenery of the island. Led by informative and professional guides, these half-day excursions allow you to fully explore local nature, wildlife while also making a stop at a beautiful waterfall for a swim and a Hawaiian lunch. The groups are small and the horses are all exceptionally well trained. My horse “Ohia”, named after a beautiful local tree was such a joy to ride with. It’s a great way to venture off into areas of the island you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

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5) Visit the Koloa Rum Company. If you’re looking to do something a little out of the ordinary while in Kauai, head over to the Koloa Rum Company in Lihue. The rum company is located on the former Kilohana Plantation. In addition to being able to visit the plantation via train and by foot, you can also go for complimentary tastings that are offered every half-hour starting at 10 am daily. Koloa Rum produces single-batch Hawaiian rum with locally sourced ingredients at their distillery located near the town of Kalaheo. The rum is distilled twice using their vintage 1,210-gallon copper-pot still with a copper column and condenser. Their goal is to produce quality products while using sustainable practices and while also preserving the open agricultural space of the island. They first started producing rum in 2009 and have since won many international competitions and awards for the delicious rum they produce. From coffee to coconut, pineapple and sugar, the different flavoured rums are sure to please everyone.

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TURO

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I recently had the opportunity to try out a great new app called TURO. For those who are not familiar with TURO already, it’s a great car rental app that can be used when traveling. Think of Airbnb but for cars.

This easy to use app allows you to rent a unique and locally owned car (here!) in the destination of your choice (you can also list your own car in your city if you want!). TURO allows you to rent any car of your dreams, from that fast sports car to a pick up truck where you can throw your surfboard in or even a super small compact car that will be great for fuel economy. You have so many more options to choose from than any conventional car rental dealer. I had always dreamed of trying out a SCION so I went ahead and booked a classic SCION car for my recent trip to Southern California.

Once you have found the car of your dreams, the owner of the car will either confirm or decline your trip within 8 hours. Certain cars can also be booked instantly when the listings have the “Book Instantly” badge.

I received my confirmation almost immediately and was able to chat with the owner about arranging a pick up location. A lot of owners also offer delivery so you can have it brought to you directly. For this particular trip, I needed the car at the airport so the owner dropped off the car right by the arrivals terminal at the San Diego Interional Airport. The owner even offered a LYFT and UBER code so that I was able to get to the car with my suitcases for free.

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Once at the car, depending on the owner, you will either meet them to get the keys and show them your license, or in this case, I had sent my license in advance and was able to key in a code on a lockbox on the car to obtain the car keys. After a quick walk around the car and a few photos (it’s always a good idea to take photos of the car to protect yourself!), I was able to take off with it.

Another advantage with renting a car with TURO is that you can choose your protection package for physical damage and liability protection. Additionally, they provide a 24-hour emergency line that is available to all TURO customers and each car they provide must meet their rigorous eligibility standards for safety, condition and operations.

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All the registration and car info is in the car when you rent it so it is easily accessible. Returning the car at the end of the trip is also very easy. All I had to do was replace the gas I used and drop off the car at the same location I had picked it up. Some owners will also meet up with you so that you can hand off the keys directly to them. All of that is simply arranged via the app messaging system.

The SCION I rented was the perfect car for my trip to Palm Springs and also in the San Diego area. The car was big enough for me to put my surfboard in as well as carry our suitcases around. The car allowed me to discover new areas around Palm Springs such as the Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain. The SCION was in great condition and perfect for my travel needs.

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The app was fabulously simple to use, my account was easy to access throughout my trip. All the rental information was also added to my Apple Wallet so that I could access it even without an internet connection. With its convenience, the options that are available to you and for the price, I would highly recommend downloading the TURO app and renting a local car for your next trip.

V Palm Springs

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Palm Springs is one of my favorite destinations to travel to in California. There are many things I love about the city: the architecture, the food, the surrounding scenery, etc.

I first started paying attention to Palm Springs thanks to social media. A lot of the people that I follow visit Palm Springs either for Coachella or for a quick weekend getaway. Staying in a unique place like Palm Springs will make people want to photograph it. Apparently, Canadians in particular, love showing off while traveling. A recent study published by Hotels.com shows that 36% of Canadian travellers admit to uploading photos to social media (Hello Instagram!) just to show off and 20% admit to checking into places on social media just to make friends jealous. I can personally admit getting serious FOMO when seeing people post about Palm Springs.

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Another thing I love about staying in Palm Springs is the incredibly food selection. The city being a major foodie destination, I am always on the lookout for hot new restaurants to try while in the area. According to the Hotels.com study, 60% of Canadians look for tasty food before searching for attractions and beaches when traveling. We’re a generation of foodie travellers so we are always on our phone looking for where to have our next delicious meal.

Using my mobile device also allows me to feel like a local when I travel. Almost 50% of Canadians will use mobile maps to get around and will rely on mobiles to learn the local lingo. There’s nothing I hate more than walking around looking at a big old paper map.

Another must when traveling for me is free wi-fi. In 2016, if a hotel doesn’t offer free wi-fi, I usually don’t even look at the property. 28% of Canadians also do the same, only selecting hotels that offer this service because being connected is key for today’s modern traveller.

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to stay at a brand new hotel that has only been open for a few months. The V hotel, located adjacent to downtown Palm Springs, is a sleek and modern hotel that offers top of the line accommodations with a cool boutique feel. There is nothing quite like being one of the first to try out a hotel. I did a little Unrooming video for Hotels.com on my first impressions of the room at the V in Palm Springs.

For more Unrooming videos, check out Hotels.com.