Best Places to Go Along Australia’s Gold Coast

For many, the land “Down Unda” is a country of koalas, kangaroos, Crocodile Dundees and sexy male actors…ahem Chris Hemsworth (swoon). While all those elements might certainly make up part of the Aussie cultural landscape, this vast country (roughly the same size as continental USA), is far more diverse and complex than the cinematic stereotypes. On a recent trip to Oz, I saw a side of coastal Australia that included a rich culinary scene, trendy new hotels, cutting edge wellness retreats and the friendliest locals you’ll ever meet.

I was invited as a guest of Tourism Australia and Air New Zealand, sent over to experience the best of the country’s offerings in the Queensland, New South Wales area – aboard one of the best ways to get to Australia.

Eager to experience Australia’s Gold Coast, I packed my bags and set out on an epic 10-day adventure hitting such hot spots as Byron Bay and Sydney.

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Travel to Suzhou China – The “Venice of the East”

If you’re planning a trip to China, chances are you’ll be hitting Beijing for the Great Wall, Shaghai for the futuristic architecture and Xi’an for a little panda and Terracotta warrior action, but an emmerging destination making a big play for US tourist attention is the city of Suzhou. Located about 60 miles west of Shanghai, the vibrant city of Suzhou (pronounced Sue-Joe) has a long and rich history dating back some 2500 years.

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Canyoneering in Los Angeles – Urban Adventures in LA

Adventure travel writer and solo female travel expert reports on canyoneering in Los Angeles for Outside Television network. Just 20 minutes outside of downtown LA you’ll find Rubio Canyon where there are a series of waterfalls that cascade through the San Gabriel mountains. It’s a great spot for an urban adventure.

Live Like a Local in LA: Exploring Abbot Kinney Ave in Venice

 

GQ Magazine called it the “coolest block in America.” Abbot Kinney, a street in Venice lined with hip boutiques, Vegan restaurants and eco-conscious coffee shops lives up to its reputation.  The street draws the artsy and the affluent. Locals mostly, but the in-the-know Canadian traveller will certainly want to make time for an afternoon stroll along this hip strip on their visit to LA

As part of my blog series “Live Like a Local in LA” which highlights cool neighborhoods on the West Side of Los Angeles, I’d like to share some of my fave spots along Abbot Kinney.

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Live Like a Local in LA: Exploring Montana Ave. in Santa Monica

As the 1982, Missing Persons’ song goes: “Walkin’ in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.” This catchy tune perpetrated the pervasive myth that Los Angeles is all about car culture and no self respecting person would dare….walk (gasp!) A city of urban sprawl and notorious traffic, navigating the City of Angeles sure is easier with your own car. That said, Canadian travellers fear not, there are many neighborhoods across the city that are very foot friendly.  If you stay right in this neighborhood you may not need a rental so you’ll save on that and the car insurance. Don’t forget to protect yourself with travel insurance though – unless you’re a local!

One of my favorite places is on the West Side found in the Northern part of Santa Monica on a street called Montana Ave. I send all of my visiting friends (Canadians and otherwise!) here. This upmarket strip is lined with high-end clothing boutiques, jewelry shops and quaint restaurants, pedestrians can find refuge.

Just off Santa Monica’s coastline, Montana Avenue is a charming 10-block, open-air retail destination with more than 150 storefronts. As part of my “Live Like a Local” blog series, I recently hit these residential tree-lined streets to explore and highlight the hidden, local gems of Montana Ave.

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Live Like a Local in LA: Exploring Main St. in Santa Monica

Los Angeles has long been a popular destination for Canadian travellers. This California cultural centre is a hub for all things glitz and glam. The sun, the surf, the sand, the celebrity…you can’t beat it. That said, for the first time traveler, Los Angeles can be a tough city to crack. Many of the city’s finest finds are spread out and hidden to the uninitiated. There are also so many neighborhoods in LA, it’s hard to know where to start your visit. There are the hipster hangouts of Silverlake, the converted lofts turned artsy gastropubs of Downtown and the high-end shops of Beverly Hills 90210 fame., just to name a few. Here are a few of the best local hangouts to put on your radar for your next trip to Los Angeles.

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Tips on Packing Like A Pro – Part 2

Up in the Air (Whooooooosh!) by Gil Elvgren, 1965

With baggage fees and all that bulls@#$, travelers are incentivized to try pack light and pack smart. In my second installment of packing like a pro…yes, you guessed it…MORE packing tips! Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding what to take with you on your next big trip.

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Tips on Packing Like a Pro – Part I

Mascot Suitcase - obverse

If MacGyver (the fictional ex-secret agent of the 1980s hit TV series of the same name) could make a bomb with bubblegum, tin foil and a toothpick, surely we common folk can pack properly for a weekend getaway. There’s nothing worse than lugging around heavy bags half- filled with unnecessary items. You pay more baggage fees, the luggage is cumbersome, you have little room for souvenirs, and you look like a novice. Here are a few Travel Junkie tips on how to pack smart.

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