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Wondering what to do in Dubai with kids? We have some great ideas to get you started.

We’ve travelled the world with our kiddos, and it’s always wonderful to find a city like Dubai that’s so accommodating for kids.

Dubai is a fantastic destination for kids, with attractions, theme parks, and pretty much almost anything you can imagine.

There are so many unique things to do in Dubai you’ll never be bored.

Dubai’s the kind of place where you can go hiking in the dessert before dawn and indoor snow skiing before lunch. Since it’s likely hot out, not much beats spending the afternoon at a water park and after a world class supper, you can visit one of the many gardens in the early evening with the kids.

The Best Things to do in Dubai with Kids

If you’re thinking of heading to Dubai with kids, definitely check these top things to do in Dubai as a family.

You can also opt to take a tour in Dubai to make things even easier. WithLocals has some cool experiences, including a street food tour of Dubai, a scenic tour on a private yacht, or even a private desert safari tour!

Dubai Miracle Garden

If you think a trip to a garden is boring, then you haven’t visited Dubai Miracle Garden. There are over 50 million blooming flowers here, all showcased in elaborate sculptures and designs.

Like the rest of Dubai, the Miracle Garden is over the top, colorful, and fun. Kids pretty much universally love it. You can find the Miracle Garden in the district of Dubailand. Tickets run around $11 USD for adults, and $8 USD for kids.

Ski Dubai

Have you ever wanted to ski in the desert? Well, Dubai has you covered.

Ski Dubai is a 22,500 square meter indoor ski resort. It runs year round, and it’s part of the Mall of the Emirates.

Tickets to the snow park, which includes the snow plough playground, ice caves, tubing run, bobsled, and climbing wall, run around $50 USD for adults and $45 USD for kids.

If you want to hit the slopes themselves, a 2 hour skiing pass is about $55 USD for adults and $50 for kids.

Want to hang with the Gentoo and King Penguins? That’ll set you back a cool $62 USD however know that kids under 14 aren’t allowed.

Check out what Will Smith has to say about Ski Dubai in the video below.

I Tried Skiing IN THE DESERT - YouTube
Adventure Zone in Dubai

Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ is a blast for kids. It’s an indoor adventure facility with a skate park, boulder wall, cable climb, zip line, and trampoline park.

It’s not cheap at $38 USD for a 90 minute session, but you can save with all day passes or group packages.

There are several locations around Dubai.

Dubai Fountains

The Dubai Fountain is a spectacular choreographed music, light, and water fountain show. If you’ve ever seen the fountains at the Bellagio in Vegas, well, this is a lot bigger.

The Fountain is set on the 30-acre man made Burj Khalifa Lake in downtown Dubai.

Tickets are about $18 USD per person.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa is a mind-bending 160 story tall skyscraper. It cost a whopping 1.5 billion USD to build.

There’s a spectacular water fountain show, a lot of shopping, and a must-see 360 degree view from the top.

The normal tourist tour only goes to the 124th and 125th floors, and it can be quite crowded. A more expensive option is to go all the way to the top.

Be prepared that lines to get in or out of the tower can be long at peak times.

Tickets for the 124th and 125th floors are $55 USD for adults, and $27 USD for kids. Kids under 4 are free. Prices are higher in peak hours.

Access to level 148 (plus the 124th and 125th floors) is an eye watering $100 USD for adults and kids alike. Prices are higher in peak hours.

IMG Worlds of Adventure

IMG Worlds of Adventure is an indoor amusement park. There are all the rides, eateries and shows you could ever want, with Marvel and Cartoon Network themes in abundance.

The facility is 28 football fields large and the attractions include rides with your kid’s favorite characters, such as the Powerpuff Girls and friends from Marvel’s unique universe.

This place is huge, so wear comfy shoes, and be prepared to walk.

Adult admission is about $78 USD, and kids (under 1.2m in height) are about $70 USD.

Creative Fun at OliOli

Designed for kids between the age of 2 and 11, OliOli’s divided into eight separate areas, each featuring a different theme. These include a hanging play area, an area where cannon balls are launched and a Creative Lab area where kids can do all sorts of fun things.

Tickets cost $32 USD for the first two hours, and $8 USD for every hour after.

Aquaventure Waterpark

The Dubai Aquaventure water park has something for everyone in the family. The bravest can try thrilling rides, such as the tube that takes riders through a shark lagoon, while the younger ones or those who prefer a milder sort of entertainment can splash around in the children’s play area.

The Aquaventure Waterpark is part of the Atlantis resorts, however you can luckily buy a day pass. However, if you stay at the all-inclusive Atlantis resorts your ticket should be included.

Day passes are about 78 USD if you’re over 1.2 metres tall, and $64 if you’re under 1.2 metres tall. Kids age 0 to 2 are free.

Atlantis Leap of Faith Water Slide - Gabe and Garrett Go To The Bahamas! - YouTube
A Desert Adventure

Dubai has everything that humans can make, but it also has a very special, natural feature that cannot be left unexplored: the desert.

The activities that you and your family can enjoy on the arid landscape include shorter or longer rides on camel back, henna-painting and sand-boarding. Longer trips can include a night spent under the star-studded desert sky, falcon shows, dune rides and much more.

Visit the Dubai Safari Park

IMPORTANT: The Dubai Safari Park is currently closed, but set to re-open in 2019! Check the Safari Park website for details.

When the Dubai Zoo closed in 2017, the animals were shifted to the Dubai Safari.

Today, the Dubai Safari occupies 100 hectares of diverse landscape.

There are pedestrian walkways lined with lush vegetation, driving tracks and desert plains, and they all make for an unforgettable experience. The park is home to over 3,000 individual animals, belonging to 250 species .

A visit to the park offers great opportunities to spot giraffes, hippos and zebras and the kids can play with the smaller, friendlier creatures in the petting zoo.

Tickets are about $14 USD for adults, and $6 USD for kids.

IMPORTANT: The Dubai Safari Park is currently closed, but set to re-open in 2019! Check the Safari Park website for details.

Explorations of Virtual Reality

Dubai is a world-renowned center for entertainment technology as well. So, if your kids are in for hi-tech adventures, a day at the VR Park in Dubai’s Mall is a must see and if you have the time, a must try.

VR Park Dubai is the world’s largest VR park.

It’s on level 2 of The Dubai Mall.

It costs $24 USD for one of seven of the VR experiences.

Looking for more Dubai help? Check out the best time to visit Dubai.

Visiting KL with kids, too

It’s hard to talk about Dubai without bringing up great memories of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for me. They’re both incredible cities, with so much to offer.

We still haven’t had the chance to visit Kuala Lumpur with kids, though it was our hub on our first year-long adventure together as a couple.

On our next visit to KL, we’re definitely going to visit with children.

We may even relax a little from our usual standard of independent travel and take a tour in Kuala Lumpur to get a better feel for the local culture and food. There are some fun options, including a family-specific kick-start tour (which sounds like a perfect option for us!), a tasting tour of KL, and even a layover tour if we’re short on time!

Have you visited Dubai with kids? Do you have anything to add to our list of kids activities in Dubai that you shouldn’t miss?

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Looking for Universal Orlando tips to make the budget last longer, save you time and reduce the stress load? Planning a major holiday with the family to Florida and suddenly overwhelmed by it all? We can help!

We visit the Universal Orlando theme parks every chance we get and each time compile notes and tips on the best way to maximize our time there for the next outing.

Like a lot of families visiting Orlando, some of our favorite family memories occurred during our time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m honestly not sure who enjoyed it more – us or our kids! Universal has done a stunning job of making the entire experience special and memorable!

While we’re huge fans, it’s no doubt a visit to Universal Orlando is expensive, so you’ll want to make the absolute most of your visit to the three Universal Parks, and come home with wonderful memories for yourselves!

Top Universal Orlando Tips

It’s no secret that you could spend weeks at Universal and still not see every show, enjoy every ride, and snack at every restaurant. We’ve got tips that can help save you money, and just as importantly, help save you time and hassle.

Now that Universal’s added the spectacular Volcano Bay water park, there are now three full sized parks here: Universal Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay.

Visit for at least three days, but four is better

Each of the three Universal Orlando parks is huge, and you’ll only get to sample a portion of the rides, food, and activities in a park in one day.

Three days will let you dedicate a day to each park, while four days will give you a chance to go back to your favorite rides and attractions, and catch anything you missed the first time around.

Fun at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll need two days to check out Hogsmeade (in Universal Islands of Adventure) and Diagon Alley (in Universal Florida). You can visit both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in a single day, but it would be a rushed affair, and you would miss a lot of the details that make each experience unique.

Save money by buying tickets online in advance

The last thing you want to do on your trip to Universal is spend a lot of time waiting in line buying tickets. You can save a lot of time, and even a fair bit of money, by buying tickets online in advance.

We’ve heard great things about buying passes in advance on Undercover Tourist. Unlike a lot of other sites, taxes are included up front (so no surprise fees at the end), AND shipping is free. Plus, you’ll save $42 over paying at the gate. See all of Undercover Tourist’s Orlando ticket deals here.

One of the best deals Universal currently offers is a buy a two day pass, get two days free deal.

You can get this deal in two variations: four days for the price of two with a 2 park ticket to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You can also get four days for the price of two with a three-park ticket for Universal’s Volcano Bay, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal Studios Florida.

See the two day, get two days free deal here!

If you’re only going for three days, you can still save with Universal’s special, where you get one extra day FREE if you buy a two day Park to Park pass. See prices for the two day Park-to-Park pass with one day FREE here.

Our Top Harry Potter Tip: Get a Park to Park Pass

Get a two day Park to Park Pass if you want to access all of the shows, rides, restaurants, and attractions at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split between the two Universal Florida parks (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios). Hogsmeade is in Universal Islands of Adventure, and Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios. Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Ally have unique shops, rides and experiences, so you’ll want to go to both. You’ll also need a Park to Park pass to ride the Hogwarts Express!

You could do both parks in one day, but you’d miss a lot, and you’d definitely be exhausted! On our last trip, we spent two days almost exclusively checking out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and we still didn’t see and do everything in both areas!

Check prices for a two day Park-To-Park pass, with two days FREE here. 

You can check out more of our specific tips for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter here.

Save time with the Official Universal Orlando® Resort App

The free Official Orlando Resort app is a must. We used it to help plan our itinerary for the parks, and to let the kids mark the attractions they didn’t want to miss. In the park, the app was indispensable! We used it to figure out where we were and to help decide where to go to next.

Even better, the app is instantly updated with wait and show times. It’s also great for finding rides, and sorting out which restaurants to visit. Since the restaurant menus are included in the app, it also makes it really easy to pick a spot everyone in the group will enjoy.

Another bonus for the app is that you can save your parking spot so you can remember where your car is located. (Which might not sound like a big deal but trust us it is. The parking lots are huge!)

Here’s an extra helpful, time saving app tip! You can set up alerts for when ride wait times drop, saving you a lot of time waiting in line.

FYI. If you don’t have a data plan, don’t worry, there’s free WiFi available throughout the Orlando Universal parks!

Download the app on iTunes here. Get the app on Google Play here.

Universal Tip: Go Early

There’s so much to do at Universal Florida, and tickets are pricey enough, that you’ll definitely want to maximize your time. Go as early as your ticket allows, and stay right until closing, and you can maximize your time at the parks.

We’re not early birds, but we make an effort to go as early as possible, because we always find crowds to be much lighter in the morning before noon. Try to be at the park at least half an hour before opening, or get early access. Parking opens well before the gates to the actual park does so don’t be afraid to come a few minutes earlier.

Also factor in the fairly long walk (around 10 minutes) from parking to the entrance, plus the time you’ll need to pass through the entrance line. Depending on which lot you’re coming from, there are motorized walkways from many of the parking areas that will speed your arrival.

There are also a few ways to get early access to the parks, including staying at onsite parks, or getting Unlimited Express passes, which we talk about a little later in this post.

Stay late at Universal Florida

We find that crowds at Universal really dropped off around 6 pm, in the three hours before closing, and stayed quieter until the park shuts down. This, or early morning, is the perfect time to take in the busier rides and attractions at Harry Potters Wizarding World. Since most people have experienced and left this area of the park by 6 the lines are way shorter.

If you really want to enjoy that time, I suggest you grab an early supper (Three Broomsticks is our favorite Harry Potter restaurant) at around 4:30 pm and start checking out the rides around 6 pm.

Make sure you check closing times! Closing times for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure were different when we visited.

Stay at an onsite Universal hotel

We actually stayed off property during our last visit, since we had plenty of time to visit. Ocean Florida offer a range of villas within Florida, including some nearby to Universal.

Many of the Universal Orlando hotels include Unlimited Express Passes and early park access to help you beat the morning rush. Since the hotels are on site, you’ll be able to use the free shuttle, saving money on parking and time driving to the parks.

All on site hotels offer Early Park admission (one hour before regular opening hours) and free transportation to the Parks and CityWalk. Other perks include complimentary delivery of merchandise from the Resort to your hotel, appearances by Universal Orlando characters, and priority restaurant seating (for Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort).

There are a few hotels onsite, including Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Leows Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel, and Leows Portofino Bay Hotel. The hotels include a Free Universal Express Unlimited, which is worth up to $89 per person, per day (not offered at at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort or Cabana Bay Beach Resort).

Check prices for hotels near Universal Studios Florida.

Get an Express Pass at Universal

An Express pass lets you skip the normal lines and jump in the express line.

We love the Express Passes, as they save us plenty of time in lines during the busier afternoon lineups. They’re not cheap (around $50 a person) however, when you factor in all it’s cost you to get to that point, that $50 could be the difference between getting to go on all the rides you wanted to and not.

I’d say the Express Pass is almost essential during times when the Parks are crowded like Spring Break or Christmas. That said, if you’re going during a particularly quiet time, you may want to save some money and skip the Express Pass altogether.

Important! You can’t use Express Passes at Fievel’s Playland, Pteranodon Flyers, Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides or Ko’okiri Body Plunge, but we found they were a lifesaver for other rides in the Universal Parks.

To save time in lines, use the alerts in the Official Universal Orlando® Resort App to let you know when a wait time has dropped (get it on iTunes here | Google Play).

Go during a quieter month

If you have the flexibility, try to avoid traditionally busy times like weekends, Christmas, Spring Break and summer holidays. Mid week during the off season could be your best bet.

Orlando Informer has a helpful Universal Crowd Calendar.

Use child swap at Universal Orlando

If you have kids, child swap is one of the best time savers around. You’ll need two adults for this, but it’s a fantastic perk.

With a child swap, the entire family stands in line together. At the last moment, one adult waits with the children at the front of the line, while the other adult rides. When the first adult is done, the adults swap, and the adult who waited with the child first now goes to the front of the line.

Just tell the greeter at the front that you want to use child swap. They do this all the time, so it’s a quick and efficient process. Our son also joined both of us when our daughter decided she didn’t want to go and got to ride twice with no lining up!

For example, we used child swap on Escape from Gringotts, when our eight year old decided at the last moment that she didn’t want to go. That ride actually had a designated area for parents with small children off to the side complete with activities and monitors playing Harry Potter movie snippets.

Since a lot of the Harry Potter themed rides have unique and entertaining happenings (like walking through Gringotts bank and having the goblins give you the evil eye), the designers at Universal have filled the lineup areas with plenty to see and do as you wait for your ride. If you don’t get in line, you might miss out on more than just the ride itself.

Take the single rider line

If you want to get onto the rides even quicker, and don’t mind riding without the rest of your group, use the single rider line.

This saves a lot of time waiting in line, especially on the busier rides like Escape from Gringotts and The Hidden Journey. Though it’s usually a different line than the normal one, you can still walk in with someone and hang out with them in line and then only do the ride on your own at the end. This is a great way to go if you already went on the ride together the first time and just want a quick second or third ride for yourself.

It can also turn an hour and half Hulk roller coaster ride into a 15 minute ride! Just make sure to ask the attendants if there is a single rider lane since not all rides have it.

Note: Due to it often being a different line, both the single rider lane and Express Pass lane might bypass some of the interactive areas the designers included for the regular line bound guests. If you want to see and experience everything pre-ride, you might want to stay in the regular lines the first go around.

Pay for Preferred Parking at Universal

We get prime parking whenever we visit. It’s a great perk to have a short walk to our car at the end of a tiring day and it gets us out of the parking lot before most others.

Preferred Parking also makes the walk to the gates entrance a lot faster and gets us into the park quicker. Preferred parking is currently an additional $10 a day more than regular at $30 (it’s $20 for regular parking).

The only time I’d consider skipping Prime Parking would be if the parks are especially quiet (which is almost never!) or if we stayed in a very nearby hotel and took a taxi or Uber over. Of course, if you stay at one of the on resort parks you not only get in earlier but you also get free transportation.

Buy a wand for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We debated getting the wands for our visit, but I’m so glad that we decided to buy one for each kid.

Wands bring shop displays to life, and really bring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to life! Our kids used their wands at both parks. You can also bring your..

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Have you ever watched a nature documentary show with thousands of brightly red colored salmon splashing and making their way up the river? Ever dreamed of seeing the event for yourself?

Well, we’re fortunate enough to live close to one of the best places in the world to see a sockeye salmon run, at the Adams River Salmon Run in the interior of British Columbia, Canada.

You can find this famous salmon migration event happening around four and a half hours east of Vancouver just off the TransCanada Highway 1, right before the small city of Salmon Arm in late September and October every year.

Still not sure? Well the Adams River not only has one of the largest sockeye salmon runs in North America, but if you show up in a dominant year, chances are you will see thousands of brightly colored salmon only a few feet from you.

Every fourth year is considered a dominant salmon run, which means that there are more salmon running in the river, and more people coming to watch. 2018 was the last dominant year and the next will be 2022.

Tsutswecw Provincial Park (formally Roderick Haig-Brown)

Every year we visit, we’re wowed by the beautiful surroundings the park, and the spectacle of watching millions of Sockeye Salmon return to their historical spawning beds in the Adams River.

Lucky for us, the Tsutswecw Provincial Park (where the Sockeye salmon Run takes place), is less than a two hour’s drive away from our home base in Kelowna. It makes a great day trip for us and a great excuse to be outdoors.

Formerly known as Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, this British Columbia park has now been renamed Tsutswecw Provincial Park (pronounced choo-chwek) in honor of the original aboriginal name the area was once known as.

Regardless of the name, it’s mind boggling to see the salmon struggling to make their way over 250 miles (400 kms) from the Pacific Ocean upstream, only to lay their eggs and die in the same river they were born in.

She doesn’t look impressed but she’s really just concentrating. Salute to the Sockeye Festival

During dominant years, the Tsútswecw Provincial Park runs a Salute to the Sockeye Festival that runs during peak salmon watching season, usually between late September and late October. You can get exact dates for best viewing times, current events and more directly from the Adams River Society.

The first year we saw the salmon run, back in 2010, it took a bit of research to find the park and even more to find information about what to expect once we arrived there. Back then, after pulling into the free small parking lot, there was only a lovely interpretive area, and a few paths to watch from, but we were largely on our own, even considering that it was a dominant year that year.

In the past few years, the event has grown and there are now many walking paths, including a few that are paved, as well as a huge paid parking area with helpers assigning spots, plenty of signs and information booths, as well as food trucks and even special events daily during the peak days.

When to visit the BC Salmon Run

Since 2018 was a dominant run, 2022 and 2026 will be dominant years as well and would be the best years to visit. 2019, 2020, 2023, 2024 and 2025 are considered sub-dominant years, meaning fewer fish, however plenty of salmon can still be found if you happen to be there then.

During a dominant year, it’s not uncommon for over two million Sockeye to return to the area. In the year after a dominant run, you may see 300,000 or more so it’s still not a bad time to visit.

During our last trip, we witnessed the Salute to the Sockeye Festival in full gear at Tsutswecw Provincial Park. The festival takes place every four years during a dominant run.

There’s a visitors centre, and on-path experts that will tell you all about the salmon you’re seeing in the river, artisans, music, events and even food vendors on site.

Trust us, we were thrilled to see a mini donut truck on site and, judging from the line ups, so was everyone else. Since it was later on a Canadian fall day, getting a warm cup of hot chocolate was also a nice bonus.

It can get pretty busy during dominant salmon years, and organizers have thought of pretty much everything, including an impressive row of port-a-potties to handle the crowds.

The best part is that entry to the festival and the park is free. There’s a small per car fee for parking that goes directly to maintaining the park and grounds, however you can park on the road and do the long hike in for free if you’re looking to save a few dollars. We enjoyed easy access to our vehicle and the fee goes towards a good cause so we opted to pay for parking.

Protect the spawning salmon!

Here’s what a lot of people don’t know: the salmon eggs stay in the gravel in the bottom of the river for 90 to 150 days and salmon actually hatch mid-winter. The alevin (larval salmon) stay in the gravel for several more weeks, and then emerge into the stream as fry in April or May.

This means that if you step in the river, or let your dog or children step in the river, you could be destroying thousands of salmon eggs and even face a fine, so please stay out of the water. Also remember not to throw rocks since that can disturb spawning rituals.

How many salmon will I see?

It varies year to year how many salmon come back to the same river to spawn. That said, we’ve never been disappointed. We were lucky enough to see a river teeming with salmon eight years ago, and were still thrilled to see plenty of salmon last year.

Check out our video below, of what the Salmon Run looked like back in 2010 at the Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, which was also during a dominant run, and happened to be one of the largest salmon runs in recent history.

Adams River Salmon Run - YouTube

Every year, the river can change course, and viewing angles can change. We took that video from a viewing platform that was no longer in place at the river in 2018.

Here’s a pretty raw video we took of the Salmon run on the Adams River in 2018. There are definitely less salmon than when we were there back in 2010, but there’s still plenty to see!

The Adams River Salmon Run in 2018 at Tsutswecw Provincial Park (Roderick Haig Brown) BC - YouTube
What’s the best place in the park to see salmon?

Tsutswecw Provincial Park is a big place, and the river takes a long, circuitous path through the park, making for a lot of potential area to view the salmon spawning.

Depending on a lot of factors, including river volume or past flooding damage, the Adam River path can change year to year. That means it can be a bit tricky to find the best place to see the salmon.

We got the best views of salmon by walking along the river bank, rather than on a viewing platform.

There are 26 km of trails in the park, but we stuck to the 3 or 4 km of trails closer to the parking lot.

Tip! There aren’t a lot of daylight hours in October in Canada for salmon viewing. Sunrise is usually around 7:50 am, with sunset around 4:30 pm. We arrived at around 3:00 pm, and it was already getting cooler. We’d suggest arriving earlier in the day for peak sunshine and warmth!

The easiest access to viewing salmon close up is to take the Lower Trails to the right of the parking lot. Look for the sign for the Island Loop trail to the left at about 200 meters (give or take). The Island Loop trail takes you right along the Adams River, on somewhat flat ground. You will however, need to walk over some loose river rock to access the river so wear good shoes.

Towards the end of the Island Loop trail is a small, shallow creek with hundreds of salmon half out of the water. This was one of the busiest areas, but also one of the best to get a clear view of the salmon themselves.

You should be able to find the most up to date trail map here on the BC Parks website.

If you’re looking to see salmon jump through a waterfall, there’s an area of the park where the Adams River squeezes through a canyon on Bear Creek. You can see the waterfall from the Flume Trail system, though we’ve never visited it. Your best bet would be to chat with park staff to find out more details.

CAUTION: Some portions of the river bank can be dangerous and unstable! Use caution and observe any warning signage!

For 2019 and later, there are a few viewing platforms that should remain stationary. At the east end of the main viewing area, taking the Lower Trails to the left of the parking lot, there’s a large platform that looks down on the river.

Since it’s pretty high up, you won’t get to see salmon up close from here, but it is a really pretty view of the river.

While salmon are the main draw, there is plenty of other wildlife in the park, including beavers, river otters, mink, black bears, and deer. You may even get lucky and see eagles feasting on salmon in the river!

While most of the trails lead to the river, with few amenities, there is a trail that leads from the left of the parking lot, where you can relax at picnic tables near the river. The kids are enjoying they’re hot chocolate from the mini donut food truck!

Wheelchair access

The main parking area is on flat land, with dirt and gravel cover, with access to the main Salmon Society log cabin.

There’s also a fully accessible trail that’s a little over 30 meters long that winds through the forest and ends at the viewing platform over the river. When we visited, it was a flat trail with gravel (not paved).

That said, we saw the most salmon by walking along the rivers edge, which is a dirt track covered with loose river rock, and quite narrow in parts. We had to walk slowly to get along, so wheelchair access would be impossible right next to the river here.

Where to stay near the Adams River Salmon Run

Since the park is in the wilderness, there are no hotels (or camping, even) on site.

You can camp at Niskonlith Lake Provincial Park and Shuswap Lake Provincial Park, which are both within a 20 minute drive. In mid-October it can get well below freezing at night in the Canadian mountains so we wouldn’t recommend tenting unless you’re an experienced camper who has winter camped in below freezing temperatures before.

One of the closest hotels is the independent (and well rated) Jade Mountain Motel. It’s..

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I could feel tension drain from my shoulders as I looked at the crystal clear, aquamarine ocean. I was already imagining floating in that beautiful water, basking in the sun, and wiggling my toes in the white sand.

10 seconds ago, I was tired from a long flight, worn down by my endless to do list, and I just wanted to collapse in a pile.

This is exactly what I need.

The Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun is perched on what’s likely the best location in Cancun. Beachfront, with stunning views and easy access to the water, it’s also in the heart of the Hotel Zone, with easy walking access to great restaurants, attractions, and more.

Despite the close location to some of the most happening places in Cancun (including Coco Bongo’s, Senor Frog’s, the Hard Rock Cafe and Carlos’n Charlies), the resort is remarkably quiet and contained.

Grand Fiesta Americana Cancun Review

There are 602 ocean view suites at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, each with a private terrace, and all of them facing the turquoise water of the Caribbean.

Here’s a little peek of the view from our fifth floor room. Heaven!

The Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun has a few plans to choose from: all-inclusive, a hotel only plan, plus a Grand Club access plan.

For this trip we wanted to sample some of the nearby restaurants so we opted for the hotel only plan. 

The Beach at Grand Fiesta Americana Cancun

We think that the beach at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach is one of the best in Cancun. Due to the resort’s north facing position in the Hotel Zone, the beach is well protected. Especially compared to the majority of the east facing hotels that adorn the rest of the hotel zone.

As a result, the waves are generally much smaller and, even when the red flags were out for the rest of the hotels, we could still swim in front of our hotel without problems. We also saw plenty of small children playing in the sand, which is rare on Cancun’s beaches that see bigger waves.

There are tropical palapas along the sand, and we found there was plenty of chair lounge access on the beach. There’s also a large floating dock not too far off from shore and, for those without kids, there’s even an adults only beach section.

Such nice white sand! Looking along the beach to the east Pier on the western end of the beach. The Pools at Grand Fiesta Americana Cancun

We love hanging out poolside, and the ocean side pools at the resort were a huge part of the reason we decided to visit.

We weren’t disappointed! There are three expansive swimming pools onsite at the Grand Fiesta American Coral Beach Cancun, all with gorgeous ocean views.

We spent most of our time in the main pool, which has the benefit of the most sun exposure (we visited in December, so we wanted a lot of sun), and also houses the poolside snack bar. There’s also a few fountains and water massage jets in the main pool that the kids loved playing with as well as a giant waterfall leading down to the other two pools.

The main swimming pool is also a multi-level pool, with different water depths. There’s a lovely shallow section that runs around most of the edge that’s perfect for kids or just to relax on, a deeper section that’s a bit quieter, and a pretty bubbly Jacuzzi opposite the snack bar. Like almost all Jacuzzis in Mexico, it isn’t heated, but the shallow water and bubbles are a lot of fun anyway.

One thing I really loved about the pools here is that we had absolutely no trouble finding poolside loungers for the four of us at any time of the day.

There are two other swimming pools onsite, both of which were a little quieter and cooler, and got a little more shade during the day than the main pool. I think these would be fantastic in slightly warmer months, where you’d want a break from the sun and heat. The other big pool also features another swim up bar but was quieter while we were there.

The Gem Spa at Grand Fiesta Americana

With a 40,000 square foot spa on site, complete with a custom 10 step hydrotherapy ritual, how could we resist sampling the waters?

We left the kids happily playing video games in the room one evening while we headed downstairs to enjoy a couples massage. What a fantastic decision!

Our 45 minute relaxation massages were fantastic and, truth be told, some of the best we’ve had.

The entire spa at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach in Cancun is beautifully designed and spacious.

Since we both love water, we took an hour (or two) to enjoy the Gem Spa’s
10-step hydrotherapy ritual. The hydrotherapy treatment takes you through ten treatments, ranging from hot, bubbling hot tubs, to steam rooms, to ice cold plunges. (Note: We didn’t take photos in the main hydrotherapy area to preserve the privacy of other guests).

The unique hydrotherapy experience ends in the main pool, where there are waterfall plunges (you can see them in the center), and bubbling loungers.

As you’d expect, there are light snacks, tea, and fruit infused water throughout the Gem Spa for the customers to enjoy.

The Kids Club at Coral Beach Cancun

Like everything else here, the Coral KidZ Club is top notch. It’s open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, with lots of activities to amuse the kids, including beachfront sand castle building, sea shell hunts, crafts and other fun games.

Our kids deemed they were “too big” for the kids club, but we took a tour (during their closed hours) to check it out. It’s bright, and looks like a lot of fun (so much so that the kids were a little sad they didn’t check it out for themselves).

Just check out all the gaming stations (great for keeping kids occupied on rainy days) as you walk into the Kids Club.

There’s also an outdoor play area (check out that awesome dinosaur theme), plus an indoor stage.

There’s also a fun play area inside for the little ones.

Our Room at the Grand Fiesta Americana Cancun

Our room was on the fifth floor, making for an amazing view over the ocean.

The two queen beds were fantastic for the four of us (mom, dad, and two kids), with a large sectional couch for relaxing and enjoying that view, and a little sitting area.

One of the nice perks was the mini bar, which was loaded with pop, juice, and beer, and a nice selection of snacks, as well as some mini bottles of hard alcohol. Since we had a room only plan, no snacks or meals were included. The mini bar prices were about in line with what you’d expect for a nice resort in Mexico, for example, pop was a couple of dollars a can.

Since the hotel’s in the middle of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, there are plenty of Oxxo convenience stores a five or ten minute walk away. Just grab some snacks and drinks from there to save on mini bar charges.

There were a lot of lovely touches in the room, including fresh cut flowers in the bathroom.

Housecleaning was fantastic. The room was spotless when we arrived, and they kept it that way. They respected our do not disturb signs, and came in and whisked away our mess when we were downstairs enjoying the pools and beach in the afternoon.

One small downside was that our air conditioning was a bit loud. When the a/c fan blew through the ducts, there was a bit of rattling above the bathroom ducts. We solved that pretty easily by closing the bathroom door though.

Exercise Room at Grand Fiesta Americana

The exercise room here is spacious and clean, with plenty of equipment ranging from free weights to good quality exercise machines to spots for yoga and stretching. (They also had some amazing views overlooking the beach and pools.)

There’s even a snack bar, which is enough motivation to get me to the gym.

Food and Drink at Coral Beach Cancun

Since our rate included our room only, we mostly ate out at restaurants in the Hotel Zone. There’s a huge selection of nearby restaurants that’s all easily walkable!

Since one of our very favorite things at a resort is room service, we decided to check it out on our first night there. Exhausted from our late flight into Cancun, and really not wanting to deal with a restaurant with two tired and hungry kids, it was a nice perk for a travel fatigued family.

I was pretty happy to see that the room service prices were almost identical to the restaurant prices downstairs, plus a small service fee. There was a large menu and we even ordered in English with no trouble. To top it off, the food was really good (we tried a vegetarian pizza, cheese quesadilla, and a sandwich with fries), and it all came with a free mini dessert, and plenty of condiments, cutlery and real silverware and cloth napkins. Lovely!

The hotel has several in house restaurants, including an upper end Five Diamond Le Basilic restaurant, the fresh seafood restaurant Isla Contoy, and the cafe style La Joya. There’s also a poolside snack bar, with some very tasty choices, and a lovely hotel lobby bar with snacks.

The main floor of the hotel is given over to the restaurants, as well as a wide walkway filled with beautiful flowers, and plenty of art.

More Amenities and Activities

There’s a lot to see and do at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach resort hotel in Cancun. Our kids enjoyed themselves on the ocean view swings on the outside playground and the small children’s wading pool in front of it would be a great place for families with small children to hang out.

There’s also a daily teens & adults activities program, with lots of fun things to do if you want to try out a few new things.

Amenities at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach include beach loungers, a large health club and fitness center, yoga classes, free internet in your room, local phone calls, in room coffee and bottled water, concierge service and more.

Like a lot of major hotels in Cancun, the hotel also caters to weddings and celebrations. We watched for hours from the comfort of our loungers as they set up a huge dancing and party area off to the side of the complex in preparations for a wedding later that afternoon. It looked awesome and the people seemed really happy!

On the east side of the resort, there’s a beach side palapa that offers free kayaks plus free stand up paddle boards to the guests at Coral Beach, as well as Sea-Doos for a fee. We found it’s usually best to go in the early mornings if you want to take the kayaks or paddle boards out since the water gets rougher in the afternoon.

Right next to the water activities desk is a PADI certified dive shack with free pool lessons and paid daily dives to the local reefs including around nearby Isla Mujeres as well as trips out to the underwater museum.

We didn’t grab a Sea-Doo ourselves, but they sure looked like a blast!

Prices at the Coral Beach Resort

When we stayed at the beginning of high season, the rate was around $310 USD for a room only rate with two queen beds and ocean view.

There are a few different plans available at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach. We had the room only option.

There’s also a Grand Club access,..

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This post is sponsored by the great folks at Leatherman.

Over the last 15 plus years of travel together, we’ve found a few favorites we don’t want to travel without.

For years, my little Leatherman multi-tool was one of my favorites, and guaranteed to be tucked away in my carry-on.

Unfortunately, my first, beloved Leatherman multi-tool (with it’s small knife) was confiscated by border agents when carry-on security requirements got stricter after 9-11. 7 years later, I still miss it!

Today, since we travel with carry-ons only most of the time, I need a multi-tool that is TSA-compliant.

So, when Leatherman reached out to us to try a few of their TSA compliant multi-tools, we jumped at the chance.

What does TSA compliant carry-on mean? This means that the TSA will allow you to bring a specific item on board the plane in your carry-on baggage.

Leatherman has a nice lineup of multi-tools that are TSA-compliant, and incredibly practical, so we thought we’d share them here with you.

TSA Approved Multi Tools For Your Carry-on from Leatherman

I’ve been a Leatherman fan for years, ever since I got my first little Leatherman Wave years ago. I’ve tried a lot of multi-tools, but I find that the Leatherman tools seem to last and last. They’re also backed with a great guarantee.

Can you take a multi-tool in your carry-on? Yes, you can carry a multi-tool without a blade in your carry-on luggage. If your multi-tool has a blade, you’ll need to stash it in your checked baggage. See the rules direct from the TSA here. The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint. Here’s a handy and detailed list direct from the TSA on specific items you can bring on a plane.

About Leatherman, an American company: The idea for the company came from Tim Leatherman (an Oregon native) back in 1975, when he developed the first Leatherman pocket tool, the Pocket Survival Tool. Today, the Leatherman brand is still 100% manufactured under one roof in Portland, Oregon.

Here are our favorite TSA approved multi-tools for your carry-on.

Leatherman Style PS

If you’re looking for a TSA travel-friendly multi-tool, this my top pick: the Leatherman Style PS.

The Style PS is keychain size, and comes with spring loaded needle nose pliers/regular pliers, scissors, a Phillips screwdriver, a nail file, tweezers and a bottle opener/carabiner. Because it’s a TSA compliant multi-tool, there’s no knife blade in the Style PS, so you can pop it in your carry-on without a worry.

I personally like it because it’s so small – only 2.9 inches (7.5 cm) when it’s closed. That’s plenty small to slide into my pocket when I’m out and about.

When it’s opened, the pliers are long and agile enough to be a real help.

Using my Style PS on the road!

What’s really cool is that you can access most of the tools (except the pliers), while the Style is closed for easy access.

And at 1.58 ounces (44.7 g) it’s lightweight enough that I hardly even notice it.

Tip: Because not every TSA agent may be familiar with the Style PS, it’s a good idea to mention that you’re carrying it to the TSA agent, and mention that it’s TSA compliant.

You can get the Style PS in black, red or blue. Here’s a look at the Style PS and all of its tools.

Learn more about the Style PS here.

Leatherman Tread Tempo

The Leatherman Tread Tempo watch is one of the most interesting items in the Leatherman TSA approved multi-tool arsenal.

Leatherman says the Tread Tempo is the world’s first multi-tool timepiece made with customizable Tread links and a premium, Swiss-made watch.

At first glance, it’s a substantial, solid Swiss-made watch.

Now, take a little closer look at the previous picture and pay attention to the watch band. There are 30 tools hidden in this watch band.

Tools include plenty of screwdrivers (with indispensable flat and Phillips screwdriver heads), box wrenches, a file, strap cutter, bottle opener and carbide glass breaker. Like the style PS, it’s also bladeless.

For divers and snorkelers, the Leatherman Tread Tempo is also water resistant to 200 meters, and has a 25-year warranty on the bracelet.

It would make a great gift for a business traveler who wants a stylish, functional watch.

Make no mistake about it. This is a sturdy, hefty timepiece that feels like it will last forever. It weighs in at 9.6 oz (272 g). That’s over half a pound.

As a woman with a smaller wrist, I found it a too heavy and large for my taste. Here’s a look at what it looks like on my wrist to give you an idea.

It’s definitely a better fit on a larger wrist, I think.

Charles has an average to smaller wrist size, and to make it fit properly he needed to remove a couple of the links.

Get the Tread Tempo here at Leatherman.

Tread

If you really love the look and functionality of the Tread Tempo, but you don’t want a watch, check out the Tread.

The Tread is the world’s first wearable multi-tool, with 29 tools and links that you can customize to whatever you want. You can get it in stainless steel (below) or black.

There’s even a metric version of the Tread – the Tread Metric and the black version’s shown below. It also comes in stainless steel as well.

Leatherman Tread Metric in black

This is kind of cool – if you ever decide you want to upgrade your Tread wearable to the Tread Tempo watch, you can get a Tread Tempo conversion kit that adds the Tread Tempo watch to your existing Tread band.

Tread LT

If you’re looking for a less bulky version of the Tread multi-tool, they make a slimmer version called the Tread LT.

The LT is a great option for teens, women, or really anyone who wants a less bulky version.

It still has the 29 tools of the original Tread, but it’s more lightweight and the band is thinner.

The Tread LT weighs 5.5 oz and the width of the band is .71 inches (the original weighs 5.9 oz with a band width of 1.2 inches).

Brewzer

The Brewzer is the ultimate in minimalism if you’re looking for a bottle opener tool for travel. Brewzer is a stainless steel key chain bottle opener, with flat tip that acts like a mini pry tool.

You slide it on your key chain through the bottle shaped hole.

We don’t have the Brewzer yet, but I’ve added it to my holiday wish list.

Other TSA-compliant tools for your carry-on

If you’re into skateboarding, surfing or other sports, check out specialized tools like the Thruster (surfing), Jam (skaters) or Hail + Style PS (snowboarding).

Hail + Style PS

We really like the Hail + Style PS, as it includes both our Style PS that we talked about above, and a Hail tool.

To create it, Leatherman teamed up with Signal Snowboards. This tool combo can open a beer, tune a snowboard, stash your ear buds, and even help crank on a binding.

Thruster

The Thruster is a cute little beast. Its plastic edge is designed to be a surfboard wax comb, and it also comes with a fin key, easy-out and lanyard hole/spring hook. It’s about 4 and a half inches long.

Jam

The Jam is designed for skateboarders. Leatherman worked with pro skaters to create this pocket tool that can trip grip tape, stash ear buds, or wrench on your trucks (I have absolutely no idea what that one means, but if you’re a skater, I’m sure you do).

Here’s a full list of Leatherman products that comply with current TSA regulations for carry-on items:

See the full lineup of Leatherman..

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Looking for a no foreign transaction fee credit card in Canada? We can help!

We use our credit cards for almost everything when we travel. Carrying cash puts us at risk for theft, and traveler’s checks are pretty much a thing of the past. So what does a non cash carrying traveler to do? Well, that leaves us using a Canadian credit card while we travel.

Now that’s all fine and good, but here’s a harsh travel fact that a shocking number of Canadians don’t know:

Most Canadian credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of around 2.5% to 3% every time you pay in a foreign currency (including in USD)!

No foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada 2018

We’ve done the leg work and sorted through a long list of Canadian credit cards, and found a few great choices that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee.

What is a foreign transaction fee?

A foreign transaction fee is an additional fee of 2.5% that you’re charged when making a purchase in a foreign currency.

This foreign transaction fee is 2.5% to 3% on top of any exchange rate! So, if you buy something for $1,000 USD out of Canada, a fee of 2.5% (or $25) is added to your purchase on top of the daily VISA or Mastercard exchange rate. The tricky thing is that this foreign transaction fee isn’t listed separately on your credit card statement – it’s just hidden in the purchase amount on your credit card statement.

Most Canadian travelers likely don’t even know that they’re being charged a foreign transaction fee. Sure, your credit card’s fine print may mention the fee, but honestly, who reads that?

Canadian No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards Comparison Table
Card Annual FeeRewards/Perks/NotesInterest RateApply Now
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite139.00 Scotia Rewards points
signup bonus of 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points
six free airport lounge visits
19.99% purchases, 22.99% cash advances
CIBC Air Canada® AC conversion Visa Prepaid Cardn/an/a Prepaid card.n/a
Scotiabank® U.S. Dollar VISA Card35must be paid off in USD only19.99% purchases, 22.99% cash advances

Home Trust Preferred Visa0Reports that Home Trust's email and phone service could use improvement19.99% purchases, 19.99%cash advances
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard$149 31-day insurance coverage, $100 annual travel enhancement credit, 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases, 1.5 % in travel rewards on other eligible purchases17.9%
Who can save by getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fee?

Canadian travelers like us can definitely save on foreign transaction fees, but Canadians who shop in US dollars at sites like Amazon.com, snowbirds who spend a good part of the year down south in the USA or Mexico, and even businesses that buy from U.S. vendors can also be hit hard by these fees. In these cases, a credit card with no foreign transaction fee could save them a bundle.

Travelers

If you travel anywhere outside of Canada and pay using your credit card in a foreign currency, you’re likely paying the 2.5% foreign transaction fee for the privilege of using your credit card.

This can really add up, when you figure in food, accommodation, ticket prices and transportation.

Tip! Thinking of just using your debit card at an ATM out of country to escape the foreign transaction fees charged by credit cards? Unfortunately, that’s not a lot better. Debit transaction and out-of-country debit card ATM cash withdrawals often charge an extra foreign currency exchange of around 2.5% as well, plus an often stiff fee per ATM withdrawal. (Of course, using a debit card is still better than using a credit card to get cash at an ATM overseas, which will get you dinged steep cash advance interest fees, plus an ATM transaction fee of $3 or more).

Shoppers

Whether you cross the border into the USA to shop, or you buy online from the comfort of your home in USD (or another foreign currency), you’re still charged the extra 2.5 % if you pay with your Canadian credit card.

Here’s the thing: You don’t need to be outside of Canada to be charged the extra 2.5%. The foreign transaction fee is also charged when you pay in USD or other foreign currency using your credit card from within Canada.

Here’s what’s worse. If you make a purchase in a foreign currency, and then return it, you’ll be charged the 2.5% foreign currency fee on both the return and purchase. That means the item you just returned cost you 5% on top of the exchange rate differences. Ouch.

Business that buy from U.S. vendors

If you’re a business that buys from vendors in the USA in USD on your credit card, you’re probably paying that pesky foreign transaction fee, and costing your business $$$ in the process.

Snowbirds who winter in the south

Because snowbirds often spend months out of Canada in the winter, it’s easy to spend upwards of $20,000 in credit card charges, especially if you’re paying for all accommodation, food, travel and activities on your card.

With a 2.5% foreign transaction fee, you’re unnecessarily paying $500 in foreign exchange fees (on $20,000 in purchases) to the credit card company. I don’t know about you, but I can easily think of plenty of other ways to spend that $500.00.

No foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada 2018

When our trusty no foreign transaction fee Chase Amazon Visa card was discontinued last year, we were in the market for a new card.

After searching for hours, we could only find five current Canadian credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.

Wanting to save some money? Here are the only Canadian credit cards that we could find that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee at this time.

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

There’s no FX markup on the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card, whether you make foreign currency purchases online or outside of Canada.

The annual fee is $139.00, but you also get some interesting perks.

If you travel a lot, there’s also comprehensive travel protection included, which includes emergency travel medical insurance for multiple trips (25 days coverage if you’re under 65, and up to 10 days if you’re over 65). There’s also trip cancellation and interruption insurance, flight delay insurance, coverage for delayed and lost baggage, and travel accident insurance. Perks also includes rental car collision loss/damage insurance.

It also comes with a free Priority Pass airport lounge membership, plus six free visits per year from your date of enrollment.

This card comes with complimentary Avis® Preferred Plus membership, plus Visa Infinite Benefits, which include Visa Infinite Concierge and the Luxury Hotel Collection.

You can earn Scotia Rewards points with purchases. Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points on every $1 you spend on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis and more). Earn 1 Scotia Rewards point on every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.

Right now, there’s a signup bonus of 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points with the first $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months. 100 Scotia Rewards points = $1 in redeemable travel, so that’s $250 equivalent in redeemable travel.

There’s 19.99% interest on purchases, and 22.99% interest on cash advances.

Apply for the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite now.

CIBC Air Canada® AC conversion Visa Prepaid Card

We’re going to start with the CIBC Air Canada® AC Conversion Card.

The first thing to know is that this is a prepaid card, so you add funds up front.

What’s interesting is that this is a multi-currency card. That means you can hold several currencies at once on this prepaid foreign currency card, so you can pay in the local currency, and you don’t pay the 2.5% to 3% foreign currency conversion fee.

You manage the card, including adding funds, and checking your balance, with an app that’s available on Google Play and iTunes.

Apply for the CIBC Air Canada® AC Conversion Card here.

There’s no 2.5% to 3% foreign transaction fee on the 10 supported currencies below (if a currency isn’t on this list of 10 currencies, you pay a 2.5% foreign transaction fee).

  1. Canadian Dollars – CAD
  2. United States Dollars – USD
  3. Euros – EUR
  4. Great British Pounds (UK) – GBP
  5. Mexican Peso – MXN
  6. Hong Kong Dollars – HKD
  7. Australian Dollars – AUD
  8. Japanese Yen –  JPY
  9. Turkish Lira – TRY
  10. Swiss Franc (Switzerland) – CHF

How it works:

  1. Order the card online.
  2. When you get the card, convert your Canadian dollars to one (or more) of the 10 supported currencies. You can see the exchange rate before you do the conversion.
  3. The card is shipped to you, and you activate it.
  4. Use the card like a regular prepaid credit card when you travel. There’s no fee to use the card the first time, or to activate the card.

You can add more money to the card anytime via the app as you travel, in Canadian dollars, as long as you have an internet connection for the app. Reloading is free.

The minimum amount you can load is $100 CAD equivalent at a time. The maximum balance is $20,000 CAD equivalent.

Funds on this multi-currency credit card never expire.

Can I withdraw from an ATM? 

Yes. There’s one free international withdrawal monthly

For foreign withdrawals, there’s no fee for the first ATM withdrawal outside Canada, but there is a fee for subsequent withdrawals after that.

ATM withdrawals within Canada at CIBC ATMs are free.

Where can I use the card? Is it like a regular Visa?

You can use the card anywhere you would use a non-prepaid Visa, including 36 million Visa retailers worldwide, or at any ATM where Visa is accepted.

Advantages

  • No credit score check
  • No worries about overspending
  • No 2.5% foreign transaction fee on the 10 supported currencies
  • You can lock in a good exchange rate when you load the card. This is great if you think rates are going to change.
  • There’s no annual fee, and it’s free to get.

Disadvantages

  • Since this is a prepaid card, you can’t charge a balance like on a regular card.

Apply for the CIBC Air Canada® AC Conversion Card here.

Scotiabank ® U.S. Dollar VISA* Card

If you’re paid in USD, and you make only USD credit card purchases, the Scotiabank ® U.S. Dollar VISA* card may work for you.

There’s no U.S dollar foreign currency conversion fee on this card. However, transactions in any currency other than USD are charged a 2.5% foreign currency transaction fee.

However, and this is probably a deal breaker for most people, you need to make payments in U.S. dollars. That means that if you don’t already have US dollars to pay with, you’ll need to convert your Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars at the bank – where they’ll charge you their foreign exchange surcharge, usually between 1 and 3%. So you won’t get charged a foreign transaction fee when using the card for USD, but you’ll get charged an equivalent fee when converting Canadian dollars to US dollars.

The only way to avoid this is to get paid in US dollars and use that USD to pay off your credit card.

The annual fee is $35.00.

Interest is charged at 19.99% on purchases, and 22.99% on cash advances.

Find out more here.

Home Trust Preferred Visa

The Home Trust Preferred Visa has a 0% foreign currency conversion fee, meaning that there’s no foreign currency fee on either purchases or cash advances.

The annual interest rate for both purchases and cash advances for the Home Trust Preferred Visa is 19.99%.

There’s no annual fee.

There is a 1% ATM charge of 1.50% (with a minimum fee of $4.50 and a maximum fee of $45.00) if the ATM is located in the United States, and a 1.50% ATM charge (with a minimum fee of $5.50 and maximum fee of $15.00) if the ATM is located outside Canada and the United States. If you’re in Canada, the ATM charge is 1.00% of amount withdrawn (with a minimum fee of $2.50 and a maximum fee of $10.00).

This card does have a $10 inactive account fee if the credit balance hasn’t changed in 360 consecutive days.

Unfortunately, we’ve read reports that Home Trust’s email and phone service could use some improvement, and that there are significant delays with applications.

Find out more here.

HSBC Premier World Elite® Mastercard®

The HSBC Premier World Elite® Mastercard® has no foreign transaction fees.

There’s an annual fee of $149, and the interest rate is 17.9%.

In the past, they’ve waived the annual fee for the first year, and also offered a 30,000 points bonus.

There are a few perks included with this card, including 31-day insurance coverage, a $100 annual travel enhancement credit, 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases, and 1.5 % in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases.

Find out more here.

Brim Financial Credit Cards

You may see the new Brim Financial Credit cards on a few lists of Canadian credit cards that don’t have foreign transaction fees.

We’ve decided not to include them on this list, because of less than favorable reports from Yahoo Finance and from Redditors here.

Discontinued cards or cards that now charge a foreign transaction fee

In our research for this article, we came across at least four cards that had no foreign transaction fee in the past, but that are now charging a fee, or that are now discontinued.

Unfortunately, a lot of other, less up-to-date, lists still mention a couple of these cards as having a 0% fee, but that’s changed. Two of these cards have been discontinued (the Chase Visas), and the other two now charge a foreign exchange fee (the Rogers Mastercards).

Chase Amazon Visa and Chase Marriott Visa

We really loved our Chase Amazon Visa, but sadly they discontinued the Chase Amazon.ca Visa and Chase Marriott Visa in early 2018.

There’s no word if these cards will be replaced.

Rogers Platinum Mastercard

The Rogers Platinum MasterCard used to have no foreign currency conversion, but that’s changed as of March 2018, and it now charges a 2.5% foreign transaction fee.

Instead, the card offers 3% cash back rewards on all purchases made in a foreign currency.

You can redeem the awards using the Mastercard® Pay with Rewards app on your smartphone. However, the cashback rewards can only be redeemed towards “anything Rogers”, including your Rogers or Fido bill, Toronto Blue Jays tickets, Chatr mobile, or shopping online on Rogers owned Today’s Shopping Choice website.

There’s no annual fee (from March 13, 2018 onward, however there used to be an annual fee of $29, but this was dropped).

Interest on purchases is 19.99%, and interest on cash advances is 21.50%.

There’s no account maintenance fee.

Rogers World Elite Mastercard

The Rogers World Elite Mastercard used to have a 0% foreign transaction fee. Now the fee’s 2.5%.

That said, you’ll get 4% cash back rewards on all eligible purchases made in a foreign currency, 2% unlimited cash back rewards on Rogers products and services charged to your card, and 1.75% cash back rewards on all other eligible purchases.

You can redeem the awards using the Mastercard® Pay with Rewards app on your smartphone. However, the cashback rewards can only be redeemed towards “anything Rogers”, including your Rogers or Fido bill, Toronto Blue Jays tickets, Chatr mobile, or shopping online on Rogers-owned Today’s Shopping Choice website.

Interest on purchases is 19.99%, and interest on cash advances is 21.50%.

There’s no annual fee.

Canadian American Express Card with no foreign transaction fees

We haven’t been able to find an American Express credit card in Canada that waives foreign exchange fees.

From what we can tell, you’ll be paying the approx. additional 2.5% fee if you use a Canadian Amex cards for foreign currencies.

While you’re here, check out our thoughts on the best travel insurance for Canadians, and tips on how to get travel insurance if you’re already abroad.

Have you found a different Canadian credit card with no foreign transaction fees?

Have you tried one of these no foreign transaction fee credit cards for Canadians?

Let us know below in the comments, and we’ll add it to our list!

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Looking for the best gifts for business travelers? We’ve got you covered!

As veteran road warriors, we’ve logged our share of miles over the years. From planes, trains and automobiles to cabs, buses and ferries we’ve done it all numerous times across every continent.

Since we work as we go, we also spend a lot of that travel time on our laptops, working when time permits. While we originally started traveling solely for pleasure, over the years we’ve begun traveling more and more for business as well.

What does that mean to you? Over that time we’ve also learned a lot about the best gear and best gadgets for business travelers.

The best gifts for business travelers

There are a lot of great choices here, from the best business travel backpack, to great travel jackets and to electronics gear that any business person will love.

Leatherman TSA compliant tools

We all have a few favorite travel items that we just don’t want to go without. For years, my favorite travel gadget was my little Leatherman multi-tool. I took it everywhere with me!

Unfortunately, my beautiful little Leatherman multi-tool was the first thing confiscated from my carry-on luggage when security requirements got stricter after 9-11. I still miss it!

Since we travel almost exclusively with carry-on only, I need a multi-tool that is TSA-compliant. Luckily, Leatherman has some amazing TSA compliant products that can be carried onto a plane.

Leatherman Style PS

If you’re looking for a TSA travel-friendly multi-tool, this is your gadget.

The Style PS is keychain size, and comes with needle nose pliers, spring action regular pliers, scissors, a Phillips screwdriver, a nail file, tweezers and a bottle opener/carabiner. What’s really cool is that you can access the tools while the Style is closed for easy access.

It’s uber lightweight at 1.58 ounces, and you can get it in black, red or blue.

Learn more about the Style PS here.

Leatherman Tread Tempo

I think the Leatherman Tread Tempo watch is as gorgeous as it is functional. At first glance, it just looks like a stylish, Swiss-made watch, but look closer. See all of those links in the watch band? There are 30 tools hidden in this watch band, including an abundance of screwdrivers (with indispensable flat and Phillips screwdriver heads), box wrenches, a file, strap cutter, bottle opener, carbide glass breaker. Plus, it’s water resistant to 200 meters, and has a 25-year warranty on the bracelet.

Get the Tread Tempo here at Leatherman.

See the full lineup of Leatherman TSA-compliant products here, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

International WiFi hotspot

Reliable WiFi is an absolute essential for any business traveler. We’ve used a WiFi hotspot for a few years now, and absolutely love having reliable WiFi almost anywhere in the world.

Right now, we’re using the Skyroam Solis WiFi hotspot, which gives us unlimited WiFi wherever we travel. See our review of the Solis here.

We used the similar Tep WiFi hotspot previously, and liked it as well (see our review of the Tep here).

You can rent the Solis for about $9 USD a day, or do like us and buy a device and get either a monthly, no contract Go Data plan or buy access one daypass at a time.

Find out more about the Skyroam Solis here.

Laptop

Sure, it’s on the pricey side, but if you really want to make a business traveler happy, get them a powerful, lightweight laptop as a gift.

There are some great choices on the market right now, including the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. The Surface Pro 6 comes with the latest 8th Gen Intel® Core i5 processor, and 8 GB RAM.

See prices and more for the Microsoft Surface Pro 6.

The Lenova Yoga 720 is a good value choice, with an i5 Intel core, and 8 GB RAM. It’s also a touchscreen that can flip between tablet and laptop.

We have an older version of the Yoga that we got a few years ago, and still use it regularly as we travel, because it’s so lightweight and handy to use on the go.

See the Lenova Yoga 720 on Amazon.

If your business traveler is a Mac fan, you can’t go too wrong with a 13″ Macbook Pro with retina display or even the new iPad Pro tablet.Portable Power Charger

I’ve had my little, lipstick sized Anker portable charger for over four years now, and it’s still going strong. I take it wherever we travel, as it fits neatly in a pocket. There’s enough charge in this little gadget to recharge a new smartphone a couple of times.

The newest version continues to get great feedback, and it’s a more powerful 3,350mAh.

See the new version of the Anker lipstick charger here.

If you’re looking for a larger power charger, we use an older version of the Anker Powercore 10,000mAh.

Ours has served us well the last four years, and the current version gets great reviews as well. See the Anker Powercore 10,000mAh on Amazon here.

For even more power, check out the Jackery PowerBar. This thing is a beast at 20,800mAh, and it has the huge advantage that it lets you charge our laptop as well with a AC Outlet Portable Charger. It weighs 1.5 pounds.

See prices and more here.

Accessories case for cable and other electronics

We travel with a lot of electronics, and honestly, our carry on backpack often looks like someone dumped out their electronics junk drawer. There are cables, chargers, headphones, eReaders, iPods, iPads, cameras and more in ours every time we go anywhere and sometimes it gets hard to organize.

We’re looking at getting a cable and gadget organizer to get it under control, and this Bagsmart accessories case is at the top of the wish list.

See prices and details here.

If you’re looking for something a little bigger, Bagsmart has a two layer accessories case that will hold a tablet as well.

See more now.

Universal power adapter

Heading out of country? Chances are you’re going to need a travel power adapter so your electronics continue to work while you’re on the road.

We’ve used this little Insten universal worldwide travel charger adapter for years now, but it’s getting a little out-of-date (especially since it doesn’t have USB ports).

We’re looking to upgrade to something like this highly rated SublimeWare international travel adapter, with four USB charging points.

Get it on Amazon here.

Confused about adapters and voltage converters? Learn how not to fry your electronics overseas here.

Bluetooth keyboard

If your business traveler likes to work on a tablet or phone, a Bluetooth keyboard can help them be a lot more productive.

This folding iClever Bluetooth Keyboard is great for travel, since it’s compatible with IOS, Windows, and Android and doesn’t take up much room.

Get prices and details here now.

Travel pillow

We’re big fans of travel pillows that are comfortable, breathable, and easily malleable into almost any shape.

This BCOZZY Chin Supporting Pillow is designed to keep your head from falling forward as you sleep on a plane. It’s filled with polyester fiber (not memory foam!), and comes in dozens of colors.

Tip! While memory foam travel pillows are hugely popular right now, we find they’re too bulky, and tend to push our heads forward uncomfortably. Plus, they freeze into solid lumps in cold weather! On a recent flight out of Canada in the winter, we stored our memory foam travel pillows in the car overnight, and pulled them out just before boarding our plane. They were hard, frozen lumps! It took over an hour for the pillows to thaw completely. I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to nap on a frozen memory foam travel pillow!

See the BCOZZY on Amazon here.

Rolling luggage set

We’re big fans of carry-ons with spinner wheels. We find that four wheels make it incredibly easy to navigate through airports.

We’re a little divided as to whether we prefer hard sided luggage, because it’s so durable and handles water better, or soft sided luggage, which expands more as we pack and have convenient outer pockets.

This hard sided American Tourister 21″ spinner comes in a lot of great colors (which is perfect for picking out your luggage in busy airports).

See prices and more here.

For soft sided carry-on fans, this classic Samsonite Silhouette Xv Softside Spinner 21 is a top pick.

Just don’t overload the front compartments, or it will want to tip forward.

See prices and more now.

Priority pass airport lounge pass

What weary business traveler wouldn’t love to relax in a comfy airport lounge? You’ll earn big points with your business traveler if you pick them up a membership to a airport lounge network.

The big player in the airport lounge space is Priority Pass, which gives access to 120 airport lounges worldwide.

Annual fees range from $99 to $499.

Sleep mask

Truthfully, I’ve never liked sleeping with a mask, but they can be indispensable for business travelers who are light sensitive.

The best of the best and the one our daughter swears by is the Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask.

See it on Amazon here.

Travel hair dryer

Hair dryers are big and bulky, so a compact version with a folding handle is always welcome for travelers.

This Conair Vagabond Compact 1600 hair dryer has a handle that folds away neatly, and it weighs less than a pound.

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Thinking about taking your kids to a live theatre show in London’s West End? You should.

It’s no secret that London’s West End has some of the best children’s theatre on the planet, with dozens of family shows available year round.

The problem is, with so many amazing performances, how do you decide which one is right for you and your little (or big) ones?

We’re planning a London visit this Spring and definitely plan on taking advantage of the huge selection of live theatre for children, so we thought we’d share with you some live action family shows and musicals that you definitely don’t want to miss.

There are even some cool Harry Potter themed attractions and shows on the site, like the Breakfast at Hogwarts experience (which you know we’re going to have to check out for ourselves).

The best part is that every show on this list can be bought ahead of time. To check out a long list of great choices for family shows with kids in London’s West End, check out family theatre with Encore Tickets. Encore Tickets has helped over 29 million people enjoy the best of London’s theater, attractions and live events since they started back in 2000.

While every show on this list is amazing in its own right, we’ve included a suggested minimum age. Of course, every child is different so take that as you will.

Best London shows for kids of all ages School of Rock (ages 5+)

Based on the Jack Black character, Dewey Finn, from the movie of the same name, the musical School of Rock is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face. As the 13 gifted musical students come into their own right on stage in front of you playing their own instruments, Dewey Finn realizes that all it takes is a little practice and a whole lot of love to be the rock god he’s always wanted to be.

Matilda the Musical (ages 6+)

When things aren’t sunny for young Matilda, she decides to take control of her own destiny. Based on Roald Dahl’s acclaimed book Matilda, we learn that sometimes kids have to be a little creative to achieve their dreams. With some amazing staging and an empowering story, little ones and kids of all ages will love Matilda.

Wicked (ages 7+)

The winner of hundreds of awards and always a crowd favorite, Wicked puts on a spin of the Wizard of Oz story, with the lines between good and evil not as clear as we always see in the movies. This amazing play featuring the good witch, Glinda the Good, and Elphaba, the evil Wicked Witch of the West, will have you and your kids talking for days about the lavish costumes, amazing sets and awesome special effects.

The Mousetrap (ages 6+)

A classic whodunit murder mystery will have you guessing who murdered who in The Mousetrap. The worlds longest running play, 65 years and still going strong, continues to entertain even today’s youth and, with over 10 million people having seen the production, you know it’s a classic for a reason.

Disney’s The Lion King (ages 6+)

Based on Disney’s acclaimed film, join Simba, Timon and Pumba as they return to the pride lands of the African Serengeti in one of the largest theatre productions to date. With over 200 puppets and famed songs such as the Circle of Life and Hakuna Matata, this live action odyssey will change how you view live theatre.

Disney on Ice (ages 3+)

Classics never disappoint and Disney on Ice has existed in some form or another since I was a child. With dozens of today’s famous characters from Moana and Maui to all the Disney Princesses, past to present, if you love figure skating or just creative storytelling on a cool medium, you might want to check out Disney’s latest incarnation of Disney on Ice while you’re in London.

Disney’s Aladdin (ages 6+)

Magic carpets, genies, evil sorcerers, princesses in peril as well as a rags to riches story, what’s not to love? Disney brings the beloved Princess Jasmine and Aladdin, the boy who found the magical lamp, to life in this huge unforgettable tale. With songs from the movie and some amazing special effects, Disney’s Aladdin is sure to bring a smile to everyone in the family.

Best live theatre in London for middle school aged children and older The Wider Earth (ages 10+)

Join a young Charles Darwin as he sets out across the sea in the HMS Beagle and discovers new lands and more importantly, new animals and species in this great blend of storytelling and science. We’ve heard that the intricate sets and amazing puppets do a great job of bringing to life this award winning play and the debate between faith and science will leave your kids asking questions for years to come.

The Comedy about a Bank Robbery (ages 11+)

With laugh out loud gags, some hilarious back and forth banter and a stolen diamond gone missing, this comedy caper will leave you and your kids in stitches.

Best live theatre in London for older children and adults

A Short Guide to London's Theatreland - YouTube

Heathers The Musical (ages 14+)

The Heathers are feared, hated and envied by everyone in their high school. When the three most popular girls in school (all named Heather) befriend Veronica, she soon learns that leaving the Heather trio isn’t as easy as it was getting in. Based on the 80’s classic featuring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, Heathers is a dark and comedic coming of age tale that will make you question just how important being popular really is.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (ages 14+)

Inspired by the BBC documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, this theatrical tale of Jamie choosing to wear a dress to grad is both thought provoking and taken right out of the headlines. As gender becomes more fluid, choosing your own path isn’t always the easiest road to take. This thought provoking and entertaining musical play will leave you with more questions than answers. In this case, that’s a good thing.

London’s West End Matinee Shows

While seeing a show in London’s West End is high on our list of the best things to do in London with the family, we’ve discovered that the secret for affordable family theatre in London is to book the matinee shows. Not only are the shows cheaper, which helps when you have a family with you, but you’ll find better seat selection, smaller audiences and easier parking.

You’ll find most of the shows on the above list have a matinee a few times a week (namely Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday) and with show choices for almost any age, from toddler friendly shows like Disney on Ice and Aladdin, to primary age shows like Matilda the Musical and School of Rock, to older family shows like Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Heathers, there’s something in London’s West End for everyone.

Think we missed any great London shows for the family? Reply in the comments below and we’ll share it with everyone.

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Thinking of visiting London with the family and wondering about the best things to do in London with kids?  The good news is that there’s a lot of things that are fun, educational and just downright cool in London with the family, but the bad news is that there’s so much to do that it’s easy to be overwhelmed!

We’ve done the leg work for you, and found some of the most fun, entertaining, and even educational things to do with your kids, whether they’re teens, tweens, or younger. Our kids, at 10 and 13, are a great age for almost all of these London attractions for kids, but we even included some fun picks here for visiting London with toddlers and preschoolers!

Things to do in London with Kids

While a lot of cities aren’t great for kids, London’s definitely an option for a family friendly visit. There are a lot of London activities and attractions that are specially geared to the under 18 set, with everything from museums to a fun nighttime show to playgrounds and restaurants as well as many indoor play structures. Getting around is easy as well: while the Tube can be a bit pricey, it’s definitely child friendly.

See a show in London’s West End!

Seeing a show is one of our favorite things to do in London with children. London is a wonderful place to catch a show with the kids, as they have choices for almost any age, from toddler friendly shows like Disney on Ice, to primary age shows like Matilda the Musical, and School of Rock, to other family friendly shows like Merlin’s Magical London.

No matter which show you check out, there’s something unique and special about catching a live show with the kids in London’s West End!

Set off on a Harry Potter Tour

Our entire family are huge potterheads (if you’re a muggle who’s never heard the term, a potterhead is a Harry Potter fan, who’s read all the books, and seen all the movies). In our case, we’ve even made the trek and written some Wizarding World of Harry Potter tips.

If your kids are Harry Potter fans (most kids over a certain age are), and you’d like to check out the world of wizards yourself, a guided tour that takes the participants to the most important and magical venues where the movies were filmed, is a great way to spend a day in London. Warner Brothers Studio (where the Harry Potter movies were filmed) is a great choice. The Muggle’s Guide to London walking tour is a great place to start, and a special, 2.5-hour journey around the city, where you’re guided to the venues where the movies were shot, provides exciting insight into the magical tricks of film making. See some options for Harry Potter tours in London here.

Visit the British Big 4 – The London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London

It’s not really a visit to London if you haven’t seen the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London, is it? Arguably, these are the most iconic answers to the question of what to do in London with kids.

The good news is that London is a fairly compact city, at least as far as seeing these iconic sights.

One of the easiest ways to see all of these great attractions in a day or so is to take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. You may even be able to fit in Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and even more. Sure, by the end of that day you’ll be exhausted, but it’s nice to see all of the big attractions in one fell swoop and then leave you time to check out the lesser known areas of London the folowing days.

Visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich

A great opportunity to have fun together while still learning something cool, a visit to the Royal Observatory is recommended for families with older kids and an interest in the natural sciences. Our kids, at 10 and 13, definitely fit that description, and are first in line for any cool, science themed attraction.

There’s a lot to see here, from standing on Earth’s most renowned Meridian Line, taking a journey back in time to learn how astronomy has developed and how the seas were first mapped, and then seeing the Great Equatorial Telescope, which changed how the world perceives the universe.

Go to an outdoor playground

London is full of areas where kids of all ages can take part in exciting adventures, while having fun and being suitably challenged.

Most of the bigger parks in London, and the city is famous for having lots of them, have at least one large outdoor play area for kids, with climbing frames, tunnels, mazes and lots of other opportunities for fun. There’s a great list of London playgrounds here.

While you’re there, be sure to check out the local wildlife. There are a surprising number of grey squirrels wandering around London parks, and they’re endlessly entertaining for little ones.

Visit a zoo

London has some spectacular, world-famous zoos as well. Any family visiting the city should spend at least one day exploring London’s zoo and farm areas.

The Zoological Society of London Zoo, the London Wetland Centre, the Sea Life Centre and Richmond Park all have areas where the entire family can see exotic and more common animals, including creatures of the savanna, the seas, and the mountains alike.

Meerkats photo by Adrian Betteridge

Grab a bite in a family friendly restaurant

London has plenty of restaurants that combine great food and fun. The Rainforest Café looks, well, like a rainforest, with tropical animals and lots of green and the meals also transport the guests to a lush, exotic place in an instant. On top of that, there are lots of other restaurants around London designed for keeping kids well-fed and entertained as well.

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A post shared by Rainforest Cafe London (@rainforestcafelondon) on Oct 13, 2018 at 7:48am PDT

Visit one of London’s parks

While most visitors to London likely think of the city as a bustling, busy place (and it can be), London is also home to plenty of lovely, quiet, green areas. There’s a great list of parks here from the city of London, with information on feature gardens, skateboard parks, playgrounds and much more.

One of London’s most accessible urban parks is Bishops Park, which is a great space for toddlers, teens and adults alike. The park has an urban beach that is like nowhere else and the skate bowl, the trails and the manicured garden areas are unique as well. Picnics are also allowed, so if the weather is nice, you can spend an entire day there together.

If you’re up for one of London’s quirky or unusual things to do, and are up for a swim, check out the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. A lido is an outdoor pool, and there are plenty in the city. However, unlike the majority of heated, chlorinated lidos with defined swimming lanes, the Serpentine is a non chlorinated, open lake in Hyde Park in the heart of London. If you’re in London over Christmas, take time to check out the Serpentine Swimming Club’s semi-famous Christmas Race, where brave souls battle the elements to become the champion.

Serpentine Lido London by Lasse Socker

Go Ape at Battersea Park

Battersea Park is right next to the river, with plenty of paths for walking, plus it has a zoo, playground and the Go Ape climbing experience. It’s always one of the most favorite family things to do in west London.

The Go Ape Park is an excellent opportunity to explore nature, get physically active and have loads of fun in the heart of one of the world’s largest and busiest cities. The Battersea Park is open from February through November and has plenty of variety in its courses and is suitable for anyone from the age of 4 and up. At Go Ape, everyone, even the fittest, most athletic adult can find challenging obstacles.

The canopy adventure takes visitors to the top of some of the tallest trees in the city and the Fisherman’s Net will make you climb on rope ladders, zip wires and wire crossings, to mention just two of the Park’s many attractions.

Go Ape - Battersea London HD - YouTube

Things to Do in West London with Kids

For whatever reason, West London often gets neglected when talking about children’s activities in London. We’ve included a special section with our top picks for things to do in this fun area of the city.

We’ve already talked about checking out a show in West London, but it’s worth mentioning here quickly again. There’s just so much variety in terms of kids shows here, which is honestly quite rare, and it’s a unique family experience the kids will definitely remember!

Holland Park Adventure Playground

The largest park in the Royal Borough, Holland Park occupies over 22 acres of land, and is packed full of fun attractions.

Kids, younger and older, can enjoy all sorts of physical activities. They can run around or have fun with the swings on the playground, they can test themselves on the climbing wall and they can explore nature in the wildlife area. There’s even a pretty Japanese garden that kids will love.

Photo by donald judge

Kidtropolis

Great for kids from newborns to age 12, Kidtropolis has plenty of surprising inventive and perfectly safe toys and play areas. Children around the age of three will enjoy the artsy fun at Messy Play, while kids over the age of three can test their abilities driving around in Bumper Cars. Kids over the age of four can let off steam jumping on the Inflatable Assault Course – the name might sound aggressive, but it’s designed for little ones and a lot of fun.

Bay Sixty 6

Do your kids love to skateboard or BMX? Bay Sixty 6 is a great choice for families with older kids, aged from nine and up. Bay Sixty 6 is a skateboard and BMX facility with special design solutions. Some of the areas are challenging for advanced skaters and bikers, while others are used for beginners’ courses.

Paul Rodriguez, Nick Tucker and Carlos Ribeiro, London Demo at BaySixty6 - YouTube

Pottery Café in Fulham

When the weather gets foul and you are looking for some creative fun, this pottery studio will keep everyone busy, including young kids and teenagers, parents and grandparents alike. This may be a little quirky and low key, but people swear it’s one of the best family experiences in London.

What’s especially cool for families visiting London is that you don’t need to have any tools or supplies. Everything you need for creating your own art is available at the venue and the place organizes lots of thematic events and programs that the entire family can take part in together.

Kensington Memorial Park

Kensington Memorial Park is another park where the entire family can have fun together, with tennis and football courts, a field where kids can play cricket and a great playground. The Park has a new water play facility as well, which is perfect for having fun not only on hot days, but in cloudy weather as well.

Do you have anything to add to these best things to do in London with kids? Let us know!

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Looking for a first hand Skyroam Solis review? We’ve used our Skyroam Solis for over four months now, and share our thoughts: the good, the bad and the orange.

What is Skyroam Solis?

The Skyroam Solis is a portable WiFi hotspot. It works in over 130 countries, using the same technology that cell phone carriers use to get you data.

Want 10% off the Skyroam Solis? Use code BAREFOOTNOMAD here.

The Solis lets connect up to five devices over WiFi at the same time. It has a built in battery that can also charge your devices on the go.

Best of all, it’s easy to use. Even the most gadget-adverse traveler should have no trouble getting it up and running in minutes.

Why portable WiFi?

Getting reliable WiFi wherever we go is a huge hassle. Hotel WiFi isn’t always stable, and scrounging free WiFi from a local McDonald’s gets old pretty quickly.

Other options are buying a local sim card, or using our home cell roaming plan, but they both have major downsides.

We’ve bought local sim cards for our unlocked phones, but we tend to hit data limits quickly, and sharing our cell data with our laptops and the rest of the family can be a huge pain. Plus, it’s often a hassle to figure out which plan and provider to choose overseas. Even then, a lot of countries don’t legally allow visitors to purchase a local sim and, though there are ways around this, researching them is a huge hassle.

We’ve also thought about using a worldwide roaming plan with our home cell company while we travel, but honestly, roaming charges can be huge and the data caps are often ridiculously low on roaming plans. We usually don’t need data every day we’re gone, but most roaming plans charge you every day you turn your phone on.

We were looking for a WiFi solution that was affordable for the four of us, and that worked almost anywhere in the world.

Enter the Skyroam Solis. It’s a 4G LTE mobile WiFi gadget that automatically works off local cell towers, with no SIM needed. Up to five devices can share WiFi on one Skyroam Solis, making it a great choice for our family of four.

Skyroam Solis Review First impressions of the Skyroam Solis

Honestly, our first impression was that the Skyroam Solis is a pretty stylish unit. The bright orange case definitely stands out, and it fits easily in the palm of my hand, or my jacket pocket. Now, the orange look may not be your thing, but it definitely has the advantage that it’s hard to misplace, and is easy to find in the bottom of a backpack.

The included zipper case and charging cable helps keep everything together and also helps protect that awesome orange color from getting scratched up as it gets tossed around in our backpack.

How fast is Skyroam Solis?

For us, the most important thing about a portable WiFi solution is speed and reliability. Sure, the Skyroam works in over 130 countries, but that’s no good if it’s slow.

Happily, we were consistently getting speeds of around 31-32 Mbps on our first tests in Canada and at multiple times throughout our extended road trip.

A speed of around 30 Mbps is plenty fast to run email, watch Netflix or Youtube in HD, interact with social media (including watching Instagram or Facebook videos) and browsing the net.

Even with all four of us connected, with me on email, the kids streaming YouTube videos, and hubby Charles playing video games, the speed was instantaneous, with no seeming lag for anyone.

We tested the Solis throughout Canada and the USA, where cellular data speeds can often be lower than Europe and elsewhere in the world. You’ll probably get speeds in the 40 Mbps range in Europe and Asia. We’re taking our Solis down to Mexico and the southern USA this winter and we’ll report how well it works there as soon as we can!

Our lowest speed in our tests was around 4.75 Mbps, but that was when we were in the car, traveling in the middle of the Rocky Mountains without 4G service, so the only cell service the Skyroam could pick up was old school EDGE technology. Canada gets pretty remote in places, so you may find speeds like this in more remote areas, but the same could be said of any cell data plan or any other WiFi hotspot.

We’re testing our little Solis portable WiFi in the middle of the Canadian prairies in this picture. We still had a connection speed of over 30 Mbps.

How much data do you get with Skyroam?

Technically, Skyroam gives you unlimited data.

We used our little Skyroam Solis pretty extensively with the four of us, burning through at least 800 MB a day for several days in a row. We didn’t notice any throttling at all, and speeds stayed consistently fast.

Does Skyroam throttle data?

That said, the terms and conditions say they do have a fair use policy. They say here “If there is high usage (over 500MB) within 24-hours, the connection with (sic) go to a lighter 2G speed, which is great for e-mail, web surfing, social media, apps, messaging, and WiFi calling. Data always resets with the next global daypass.”

To me, that sounds like you can be throttled if you’re on a busy network, and you’re using a whole lot of data over 500MB. We’ve read other reviews that mention that they started to get throttled after the 1 GB mark, so I’m guessing that they don’t have a hard limit and it depends on which carriers they’re currently operating on.

To avoid throttling, Skyroam suggests closing any apps that consume data in the background, like auto backups, cloud syncing, app updates, and so on. We keep those for when we have free WiFi and haven’t had any problems using up a ton of data.

The good news is that Skyroam data resets every 24 hours, so even if you manage to overuse the fair use amount and got throttled, your data will reset to higher speeds at the end of the day.

How long does the Skyroam Solis battery last?

Skyroam says the built in batteries on the Skyroam Solis lasts 14 to 20 hours, and our tests found that to be pretty close.

We tested the Skyroam for the first time on a road trip in the interior of British Columbia in Canada. The battery lasted a full 14 hours for me, from the time we hit the road at 8 am, to when we went to sleep around 10 pm, with about 15% battery left.

A cool feature about the Skyroam Solis is that you can also connect your phone or device to it, and recharge your phone while on the go. The Skyroam Solis comes with a built in 6000 mAh power bank and comes with a USB-C connection to charge all the latest devices.

Note: The Skyroam Solis uses the same battery as the built in charger, so if you’re charging your phone as you go, you’re also reducing the total time the Skyroam will last.

If you find you need additional power, you can either purchase a power bank to help top up the Solis or even buy extra batteries for it, since you can open the Solis and switch out batteries anytime. That said, from our experience and unless you’re severely going off grid, the batteries in the Skyroam Solis should easily last you the day.

Want some extra spare batteries for the Skyroam Solis? Skyroam suggests these and these.

Testing our Skyroam Solis WiFi hotspot on a ferry in Needles BC

How much does Skyroam cost?

There are a couple of ways to use Skyroam: a daily pass, their new monthly data subscription, or the new 1 GB GoData plan. The best part is there are no contracts, and you pay only for the days or months that you use the Skyroam.

The Skyroam daily pass and monthly data subscription (in USD)

The daily pass (which lasts a full 24 hours from the moment you begin) costs $9 if you own your own Skyroam device. You can buy a Skyroam Solis for around $149.99, and that includes one free daypass. If you decide to just rent a Skyroam Solis for the length of your journey, the daily cost also starts at $9 per day.

Skyroam Solis in Canada

What I really liked about the Skyroam rental is that they only quoted me a $9.99 shipping charge to Canada. If you’re Canadian, you’ll understand why this is so huge – we usually pay a small fortune to have anything shipped into Canada. In fact, we checked out a competitor, and they were charging over $30 to ship to Canada.

If you’re in the USA or Europe, your shipping will likely be even less.

See how much a Skyroam rental costs.

You can also get unlimited Skyroam service for $99 per 30 days.

Because we travel so much, we own our own Skyroam Solis, rather than renting. That means that we don’t need to wait for a rental to be delivered if we take off at the last minute! It also means we pay a bit less for a daily pass and even if we get stuck someplace local without internet and don’t want to use up all our cell data, we can just opt to enable the Skyroam for the day. This has been fantastic when we visit my Mom in the middle of Alberta Canada and here shaky WiFi services goes down again, and our Solis comes to the rescue with WiFi for all!

Buy a Skyroam now.

The Skyroam GoData plan

To use the Skyroam GoData monthly plan, you’ll need to own the Skyroam hotspot. Rentals aren’t available with the plan.

The GoData plan gives you 1GB of data (at 4G LTE data speed) for $9 a month. You can buy more data, on the go, at $9/GB. Plus, there’s no contract. Like the daily plan, you can connect up to five devices. Every month you get another 1 GB of data. However, any unused data you didn’t use doesn’t roll forward.

Tip! Lots of people use the Skyroam GoData plan to extend their monthly cell phone plan. Depending on where you are in the world, it can be cheaper than your home cell phone company charges for data and you can boost your amount at any time if you need more.

Since we sometimes go a month or two without traveling, we’re sticking with our the 24 hour daily passes. That said, we may switch to the GoData plan the next time we head out for an extended trip just so we’re not limited to daily time limits.

Find out more about Skyroam GoData.

Where does the Skyroam work?

The Skyroam Solis coverage map says you can get coverage 130+ countries, including Canada, the USA, Mexico, most of Europe, and South America as well as Asia and the Middle East.

To test it, I entered the last 10 countries we’ve visited: Canada, the USA, Mexico, Belize, Ecuador, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Anguilla, and the Dominican Republic. There’s Skyroam service everywhere but in Belize. Nine out of 10 is pretty good, I think.

See countries where Skyroam’s available.

How does Skyroam work?

Skyroam uses Skyroam’s patented virtual SIM technology to connect you to the nearest cell network, and will connect with over 300 carriers at 4G LTE speeds (where available).

Does Skyroam work on planes or on a cruise?

Because Skyroam works off cell networks, it won’t work where you can’t get a cell signal, like while you’re in the air on a flight, on cruise ships (unless you’re near a cell signal in port), or somewhere very remote.

How do you use Skyroam Solis?

The Skyroam Solis is honestly super easy to get up and running.

When you first get the unit, you’ll need to pull a little plastic tab to connect the battery.

Then, connect it to your cell charger via the provided USB cable to charge. Ours came pre-charged.

  1. To get WiFi, press and hold Power On (the side button).
  2. Connect your Skyroam Solis to the hotspot’s WiFi signal. You’ll need the unique SSID and password on the bottom of the Solis.
  3. On your phone or connected device, visit the Skyroam account portal at a.skyroam.com. You’ll have 20 free minutes to register using your email, phone # or Facebook.
  4. Press the WiFi button on the top of the unit to start using WiFi. Each day pass is good for 24 hours from the time you start using it.

How do I load Skyroam?

If you want to add more day passes, or see how many passes you have left, switch to a $99 30-day plan, or start a GoData subscription, go to a.skyroam.com on a connected device.

Update! Skyroam’s just introduced a new app in late 2018. The app lets you activate your Solis, load the Skyroam with more WiFi service, troubleshoot problems, get help and more. We love it because it lets us see battery life, signal strength, the number of devices connected, WiFi status and more on the status screen.

Grab the app on iTunes or Google Play.

Who is Skyroam good for:
  • Anyone who’s afraid of being charged outrageously high data roaming charges. Tip: Don’t forget to turn off roaming on your cell phone before leaving your home country, so you aren’t accidentally charged in case you get a phone call, text or some app decides to run in the background before hooking up to the Solis!
  • Vacationers who don’t want to hassle with buying a local SIM card and data plan on every trip.
  • Travelers who don’t have an unlocked phone. If you have a locked phone, you won’t be able to switch out your SIM and buy a local SIM and data plan.
  • Travelers who are tired of bad hotel WiFi, and sick of searching for a nearby McDonald’s or cafe for free WiFi.
  • Anyone who wants to keep in touch with friends and family anywhere in the world.
  • Groups and families who want to share a WiFi connection. The Skyroam works beautifully for our family of four. We’re heavy WiFi users, and we get an especially good deal because we all can share the same Skyroam. Up to five devices can connect at any one time.
  • Business travelers or digital nomads like us who need WiFi to work, since the Solis gives us WiFi wherever we are around the globe.
  • Solo travelers. I really love having my Solis when I travel alone, as it gives me the ability to reach out to let friends and family to know I’m OK.
  • Family day outs. We’ve used our portable WiFi units to have Pokemon Go adventures with the kids and their friends on their iPods and tablets during hikes and walks. With the slew of new enhanced VR games out there that require an internet connection to work, purchasing a daily pass is a great excuse to get the kids out of the house and walking outdoors while still allowing them game time.
  • Data toppers whose cell plans have only a limited amount of data. The Skyroam GoData allows people to buy what they need, when they need it, regardless if they’re traveling or at home.
Where to buy Skyroam Solis

You can buy Skyroam Solis on the Skyroam website here.

Skyroam Solis discount

Want to get a Skyroam for yourself?

Want 10% off? Use code BAREFOOTNOMAD here.

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