The festive season is almost upon us. People from all the world are currently making travel plans for visiting friends and family to celebrate the holidays with those nearest and dearest to them.
All these extra travelers add a huge additional burden to transport infrastructure, and delays, traffic jams, and cancellations are all too common. It’s arguably the most stressful time of year to travel, but with a few hints and tips, you can make your trip as easy and as pleasant as possible.
Expect The Worst
Traveling around the holiday period is as much of a mental challenge as it is a logistical one. While you’ll make things easier on yourself by following the tips below, if you start your journey with the right mindset, any inevitable disruptions should be a little easier on your stress levels. Expect delays, expect traffic, and expect chaos – if these things don’t occur, it’s a bonus.
Fly Earlier Or Later
Arriving at the airport when you’re ready for bed (or should already be asleep) isn’t ideal. However, it can actually be a preferable option at this time of year as roads and airports are going to be quieter.
Missing out on a good night’s sleep can often be a much more palatable option than hours of sitting in traffic, navigating long lines at airports, and being around thousands of other people who are equally as stressed out by the situation as you are. If there’s a late flight to your destination that you usually wouldn’t consider, it’s worth considering that it might be the lesser of two evils during the festive period.
The weather at this time of year is often unpredictable in many parts of the world, which can often mean delays. Even if you’re flying between two areas that have reasonably mild weather, bad weather in other parts of the world can still affect you. Airlines have pre-planned routes, and if the plane you’re meant to be flying on gets delayed somewhere else due to bad weather earlier in the day – it means that you’re probably going to be delayed too.
There’s not much you can do to avoid this. However, by flying direct you’re limiting the number of planes you’re relying on being on time. Being stuck at a connecting airport because your initial flight was delayed (or your connecting flight is delayed) is the worst case travel scenario for many people. Flying direct might cost a little more, but it’s almost certainly going to cut down your stress levels significantly.
Carry On Only
If possible, you should do all you can to fly with carry on luggage only. Many airlines will allow you to check in online and obtain a mobile boarding pass, which enables you to skip the check-in desks entirely and simply head straight for security when you reach the airport.
Benefits can be found when arriving at your destination too, you’re not going to have to wait around in an inevitably busy and chaotic luggage reclaim hall at the end of your trip (which is going to feel like a real blessing after a potentially long flight).
Mail Your Gifts
There’s a good chance you’re going to be taking gifts to your destination, but as you may already know, flying with gifts is a real pain. They may get broken by heavy-handed baggage handlers, the wrapping paper may be opened by security for inspection, and they take up additional space – which means you might not be able to travel carry on only.
Mailing your gifts to your destination may sound like more hassle than it’s worth, and if you’re traveling internationally it’s probably not worth the risk (just in case they get held up at customs). But for domestic flights, the effort it takes to go to the post office is almost always going to be less than the hassle of having to pack your bags carefully and check luggage that could otherwise be carried on instead.
There’s no getting around the fact that at the moment, travel is pretty bad for the planet. While advancements are being made with electric vehicles, the vast majority of planes, trains, and automobiles use greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels.
It’s important for us all to do our bit to minimize our own individual environmental impact on the planet. Here are a few hints and tips that can help you make your next trip the cleanest and greenest yet.
Aircraft consume a huge amount of fuel, and like all other forms of non-electric transport they emit a sizable quantity of greenhouse gas emissions too. Quite honestly, your options are limited when it comes to reducing your aviation-related emissions on a personal level - but flying direct is a good start.
As you probably remember from high school physics, acceleration usually requires more energy than maintaining a steady speed. Due to this, aircraft consume much more fuel when they are taking off and landing than they do when they’re flying at cruising altitude. So, by flying direct, you’re reducing the amount of fuel required to haul you and your luggage to your final destination.
Bonus Tip:If you can fly on newer aircraft like the Dreamliner or the 737 MAX you’re going to further reduce your fuel consumption – they’re much more efficient aircraft.
With each passing year, airlines are becoming more and more responsible when it comes to acknowledging the impact the aviation industry has on the environment. Many of them are now taking significant steps towards minimizing the damage the industry causes – like carbon offsetting.
You’ll find carbon offset schemes at most good carriers, and they’re a great idea. Essentially you can pay an additional (usually small) fee that the airline will use to fund schemes that offset the damage your individual trip causes the environment. If you can’t fly direct, and you can’t fly on a fuel-efficient aircraft – then these schemes are more than worthy of your consideration.
Bring A Reusable Bottle
Staying hydrated is key to staying comfortable throughout a flight and it is also important for beating jet lag and feeling reasonably refreshed at your destination. Disposable plastic bottles take hundreds of years to decompose, and while efforts are made to recycle them where possible – huge numbers of them end up in landfill sites or scattered around the environment.
There’s no shortage of water fountains in airports and most modern cities, so refilling a reusable bottle should be no hassle at all (in parts of the world with potable water). Every time you refill your reusable bottle, that’s one less disposable plastic bottle the planet has to deal with (it feels great when you think about it like this) and it soon adds up.
Take Public Transportation
After a long flight, it can be very tempting to hail a cab and ride directly to your destination. Thinking about navigating an unfamiliar transportation network in a new city while dealing with jet lag isn’t exactly the most enjoyable start to a trip.
However, if you can manage it, you’re going to reduce your footprint even more.
Trains and subway systems are the most eco-friendly form of public transportation – but buses are good too. For maximum convenience, check out the possible public transportation routes from the airport to your accommodation before you leave home (Google maps is excellent for this).
This way you’re not standing around in the airport figuring out where to go, and you can quickly arrive at your destination with the minimum of hassle (without harming the planet).
It’s getting close to the time of year when the ghosts and ghouls come out to play and trick or treaters roam our streets in search of tasty treats. Torontonians love Halloween, and the city is blessed with a wide range of family-friendly spooky activities (that are fun for all ages) at this time of year.
Below we’re going to list a few of our favorite Halloween events that are more than worthy of your consideration if you’re in Toronto this time of year.
Let’s get started.
Boo At The ZooToronto Zoo - 2000 Meadowvale Rd
As you might have guessed from the name, Boo At The Zoo is a spooky Halloween event that takes place throughout the day at Toronto Zoo. It’s a costume party where you and the kids can get dressed up and have a fun and educational experience together marveling at the many wonderful animals that call the Zoo home. The event runs from October 20th through to October 28th and admission is free for children in costume when accompanied by a paying adult (one free child ticket per paying adult).
Howling HootenannyBlack Creek Pioneer Village - 1000 Murray Ross Pkwy
The Howling Hootenanny is located in the north west of Toronto at Black Creek Pioneer Village – and it’s everything you’d expect from a classic Canadian Halloween event. There are all kinds of spooky activities on offer here including apple slingshots, pumpkin decorating games, spooky (but not scary) live performances on stage, a creepy creature exhibit, and the star of the show - an incredibly fun haunted maze. The Howling Hootenanny runs from the 20th to the 28th of October and children under 5 receive free admission (paid tickets range from $11 to $15).
Haunted High ParkColborne Lodge – 11 Colborne Lodge Drive
This is one of the scarier events on this list, and as such, it shouldn’t be attended by children under the age of 13 (and teenagers need to be accompanied by an adult), but if you like life on the scary side – this is an event you should seriously consider attending.
Throughout the evening you’ll learn about funeral traditions from the 19th century in the spooky candlelit atmosphere of Toronto’s historic Colborne Lodge. The highlight of the event is undoubtedly the “real” Victorian séance that’s performed live in front of visitors by Eldritch Theatre’s Doc Wuthergloom – it’s not for the faint-hearted! Haunted High Park runs from the 20th of October through to the 28th, tickets cost $32.50 and are available online or at the door.
Legends Of HorrorCasa Loma - 1 Austin Terrace
Toronto’s historic castle Casa Loma is host to one of the most popular Canadian Halloween events of 2018. The majority of the building is transformed into one of the best haunted houses in the country that has an authenticity to it that’s hard to find elsewhere. The event involves you taking a self-guided stroll around the castle grounds and gardens while exploring tunnels and spooky dark rooms (many of which have never been open to the public before).
The walking trail takes around 1 hour and is best enjoyed in full costume (for both you and the kids) to get the full experience. Along the trail, you’ll be greeted (and scared) by several famous characters from horror movies played by enthusiastic actors and actresses that perfectly walk the line between scary and fun.
Legends Of Horror runs from October 29th through to October 31st and if possible, it’s a good idea to book your tickets in advance.
Toronto is a vibrant metropolis that has over 2.8 million people calling it home – and there’s something for everyone to enjoy here, regardless of your tastes. While the big tourist attractions get the most attention and visitation, there’s a whole world of little-known things to do and places to see that you can easily miss if you don’t know about them.
With that in mind, today we’re going to share a little bit of local knowledge and tell you about a few of the most interesting and unusual things you can do on your next visit to Toronto. Let’s get started.
The Monkey’s Paw(1229 Dundas St. W)
The Monkey’s Paw is a bookstore like no other, it was named after a horror story written by W.W Jacobs and focuses on the unique, the unusual, and the downright bizarre.
There are 4 sections to the store, the beautiful, the macabre, the absurd, and the arcane – in each of which you’ll find books that will leave you with more questions than answers.
The star of the show here is the Bibliomat, which will dispense a random book when you insert a token (which can be purchased for $3 at the counter). The books inside are as strange as the books on the shelves, and they’re great conversation starters to place on your coffee table – if you get lucky.
The Half House (54 1/2 St. Patrick St)
As the name suggests, The Half House is literally half of a terraced house that has been cut right down the middle. Apparently, the owners of The Half House were reluctant to sell their property, at the same time the owners of the connected property next door needed to demolish the house they owned to create space for an adjacent lot.
It was discovered that an interior wall that separated these two properties was load bearing, which meant partial demolition with possible. With almost surgical precision, one half of the house was demolished while leaving the remaining half intact.
It’s only going to pique your interest for a few minutes, but if you’re nearby – it’s well worth checking out.
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (120 St George St)
This library contains a treasure trove of old, historical, and notable books that are mainly part of the University of Toronto’s collection. Any visitor can request to see and even handle the books – some of which are quite special.
You can take a look at things like Shakespeare’s first folio, genuine annotations made by Charles Darwin from his research on the Galapagos islands, and there are even a few Egyptian manuscripts that date back almost 2300 years here too.
Winter Garden Theatre(189 Yonge St)
This is probably the most well-known attraction, but it’s also one of the most unique. The Winter Garden Theatre is the world’s last functioning Edwardian double-decker theatre.
Most people find the upper theatre to be the most impressive, and it has been decorated in a way that tries to bring the great outdoors inside the theatre. It’s predominantly white and has countless stunning murals painted on the walls of trees, plants, animals, and other fantasy wonderland style depictions.
The star of the show is undoubtedly the otherworldly ceiling that has been intertwined with over 5000 beech branches. The sight of the leaves that hang down from these branches is something that has to be experienced in person to be fully appreciated.
There are tours available here on Saturdays and Thursdays, but we recommend you go and see a show here instead if you want to get the full experience.
Canadian Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. It shares a name with the American version of the holiday and there are several similarities between how the two events are celebrated – but there are quite a few differences too.
Today we are going to take a look at a few of the most notable differences you’ll find between the two holidays (that will make for great conversation over your next Thanksgiving dinner).
Let’s get started.
The Dates Are Different
The most obvious difference between the two Thanksgivings is that they are celebrated at different times of the year. Canadian Thanksgiving occurs first and falls on the second Monday in October (which is October 8th in 2018). Coincidentally this is the same day as Columbus day in the USA, but there is no connection between the two holidays. American Thanksgiving falls over a month later on the 4th Thursday of November – this year it’s on November 22nd.
They Celebrate Different Events
The reason the dates are so different between these two holidays is that they started off by celebrating entirely different events. There’s a little bit of a debate surrounding the origins of Canadian Thanksgiving, but historians are generally agreed on the fact that the first Thanksgiving in North America was a Canadian one.
Sir Martin Frobisher (an English explorer) and the crew of his ship are often credited with being the first people to celebrate Thanksgiving in an event that happened in Newfoundland in 1578 (but there are several historians who will argue against this). The sailors were trying to find the northwest passage through to Asia, but instead, they found North America. They celebrated their arrival (and the survival of the perilous journey) and thus Thanksgiving was born.
The American version of Thanksgiving in Plymouth, MA didn’t make an appearance until over 40 years later in 1621.
It Has Only “Recently” Been Made Official
Part of the disagreement surrounding the time and location of the first Canadian Thanksgiving is not helped along by the ever-changing date of the holiday.
American Thanksgiving has always celebrated the same event (the pilgrims being thankful for a bountiful harvest) but the Canadian version has had different meanings throughout the years. These days we’re usually celebrating a bountiful harvest, but in the past, we’ve held different Thanksgiving celebrations, at different times of the year, for different reasons.
Here are 3 of the most interesting ones:
In recent years Canadians have been celebrating Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October (which has been happening since 1931) and this date was made official by parliament in 1957.
We Don’t Have Black Friday
While Black Friday has started to become more commonplace in Canada over the years, it’s still nowhere near on the scale of how it takes place in the USA.
The biggest shopping day of the year in Canada is boxing day (the day after Christmas day) when the stores are full of people trying to take advantage of the traditionally generous discounts and deals that are on offer. It’s an action-packed event where long lines of people waiting to return unwanted gifts mingle with shoppers who are competing with one another to find the best deals.
Despite all this excitement, it’s a tame and calm event compared to the chaotic American black Friday scenes that regularly make the rounds on the News channels every year - but it can certainly put the famous Canadian politeness to the test.
Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting countless business travellers from all corners of the globe. Along the way, we’ve picked up a few excellent travel tips that can make a good business trip great. Here are 5 ways you can ensure that your next business trip is the smoothest one yet.
Fly Non-StopSpending half a day waiting around in the airport for a connecting flight is a massive waste of time and energy. Flying non-stop is almost always worth any extra expense or arrangements that need to be made. Ideally, you need to arrive at your destination as fresh as possible ready to get down to business.
Bonus Tip:Ensure your flight is non-stop and not just direct. Direct flights can have a stop where the plane lands, refuels, and takes on passengers without you leaving the aircraft – this is better than a layover, but it’s still less than ideal.
Join Loyalty ProgramsIf you’re making several trips a year, it pays to be loyal – both in the air and on the ground.
Many airlines have frequent flyer schemes that can provide you with a range of benefits including lounge access, free upgrades, and priority boarding. Not all airlines are going to fly to every destination you want to go to - so try and pick one or two major ones and stick with them whenever possible.
Similarly, most hotel chains will have loyalty programs that provide you with rewards to thank you for sending your repeat business their way – and they can be extremely generous.
For example:Here at Monte Carlo Inns we have our Diamond Rewardsprogram with which you can earn free upgrades, complimentary rooms, and enjoy a whole host of other gifts and benefits too.
Try And Avoid Checking BagsFor longer trips and in certain situations this tip isn’t going to be applicable - but if you can avoid checking in your bags, everything about flying becomes quicker and easier.
The most obvious benefit is that you don’t have to wait 30 minutes after you land to collect your baggage, but there’s much more to it than that…
• You don’t run the risk of missing an important meeting or turning up in your traveling clothes because the airline has lost your bag
• Getting to and from the airport is much easier as you only have to carry one bag
• If you only have carry on luggage in some airports you can skip the check-in desk completely. Simply print out your boarding pass at home and head straight for security when you arrive instead
Get Your Charging Routine SortedThere’s nothing worse than leaving for a long haul flight only to find that you haven’t remembered to charge your phone / laptop / headphones. Leave all your essential electronics on charge overnight before you leave and place them next to your wallet or purse so you have no chance of forgetting them.
Order A Vegetarian MealOn the vast majority of flights, special meals get distributed among the passengers first – which includes vegetarian options.
Even if you’re not a vegetarian, if you’re willing to skip meat for just one meal while you’re on the plane it’s possibly a good idea to order the veggie option when you’re booking your ticket - especially on night flights.
By doing this, you’ll almost certainly get your food before everyone else - which means you don’t have to wait for the entire plane to be fed and for dinner service to finish before you can relax and go to sleep.
Summer is here in Toronto!
We’re currently enjoying glorious days of cloud-free skies, pristine sunshine, and soaring temperatures. Torontonians love it when the sun is out, the city comes alive and the atmosphere of happiness in the air brings a smile to the faces of tourists and locals alike.
But, despite how much fun we have with the sun, sometimes you just need to cool off a bit.
With that in mind today we’re going to share with you 4 ways you can beat the heat in Toronto this summer.
Let’s get started
Eat Some Ice Cream
We’re blessed in Toronto to have some of the most delicious ice cream parlors in the entire country – and nothing cools you down on a summer’s day like an ice cold cone. Wherever you are in the city you’re not going to have to walk far to find a great ice cream, most neighborhoods have their own local legendary parlor.
However, if you’re looking for something extra special, try out Ed’s Real Scoop. They’ve got an almost cult-like following among some locals, and it’s an ice cream you’re never going to forget. The original parlor is the one in the Beaches, but you’ll find them in Roncesvalles, Leslieville, or Roncey too.
Be sure to ask about the ice cream pie, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.
Stand Up Paddle-boarding
While the aim of stand up paddleboarding is to stay out of the water and paddle around on the surface – if you’ve never tried it before, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get wet.
There are numerous SUP rental places around the lake and the islands that will be able to get you started. Classes are optional but will speed up the learning curve – however, most people just grab a board and give it a go on their own.
Note:Remember to wear lots of sunscreen and cover up if you rent a SUP - you’re going to be in direct sunlight. Whenever you feel like cooling down, just jump in!
Who needs the sea when you’ve got a lake like this? Woodbine beach has a happy, electric, and alive feel to it on a hot summer’s day when Torontonians flock to its sandy shores to escape the heat of the concrete jungle.
It’s one of Toronto’s swimmable beaches, and there are lifeguards present at certain points, so it’s great to take a dip on a warm day(it’sa blue flag beach). The beach is pretty large, so you’ll be able to take a soccer ball or some tennis rackets for a spot of beach sports if that’s your thing(andthere are volleyball courts there too).
Note:There can very occasionally be undercurrents in the water here, so be sure to only swim in the areas designated as safe for swimming by the lifeguards.
Chill Ice House
Chill Ice House is the countries largest ice bar, and it’s the coldest place you can be in Toronto on a hot summer’s day(probably).The entire place is constantly kept at-5cand you’ll be drinking out of ice glasses and sitting on ice chairs while being served top quality beers, wines, and soft drinks.
When you arrive you’ll be handed a warm parker coat and a pair of woolly gloves to keep you comfortable while you’re inside(whichis quite a surreal feeling after coming in from the heat). During the day it’s a family friendly place and kids absolutely love the experience, after about 8 pm it turns into a club that’s for adults only where you can dance the night away.
It has been about a month now since our 19th Annual Charity Golf Tournament and the buzz around the office and our 8 properties continues. This year Monte Carlo Inns, along with the amazing support of all the volunteers, sponsors, donors and golfers, was able to raise a whopping $45,000 in support of the Darling Home for Kids. For those of you who have not heard of the Darling Home for Kids, it is a home that provides high quality respite and palliative care services for children who are medically fragile and technology dependent, many of whom suffer from progressive illness. This has been Monte Carlo Inns charity of choice for 19 years and it will continue to be for years to come.
For more information on the Darling Home for Kids, visit their website here. To get involved next year, either by means or donation, volunteering or golfing, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our event sold out fast this year and we are expecting the same for 2019!
For those of you who don't know, Barrie is city about one hour north of Toronto that sits on the shore of beautiful Lake Simcoe. It has been knows for its beautiful scenic views in the summer and its proximity to many ski hills in the winter. For this reason, Monte Carlo Inns loved the idea of being one of the few hotels in Barrie.
Sit along the picturesque waterfront and grab a Kawartha Lakes Ice-cream and dine at one of the many restaurants, including our very own Scarpaccio Ristorante to complete a great day outside of the bustling city of Toronto. And, if you visit between July 6 and July 23, you can take advantage of the Barrielicious food menu, which is a food festival celebrating local restaurants and chefs. Our on site restaurant, Scarpaccio Ristorante, is taking part in this culinary feature, and their feature menu can be found here.
For more information about hotels in Barrie, or visiting Barrie, please visit our website or call our toll free number at
Are you visiting Toronto this summer? Summer Activities and Events that you shouldn’t miss in Toronto
The New York Times touts Toronto as one of the top-10 places to visit… worldwide! And it’s no surprise—with all the summer events and activities the GTA has to propose, there are few places in the world that offer more!
Plus the GTA offers world-class accommodations at reasonable prices! Hotels in or near Brampton, Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan Mills, Oakville and elsewhere in Ontario offer great deals to overnight visitors.
Let’s take a look at four of the no-miss summer events and activities you should take in while in Toronto:
Contact us at Monte Carlo Inns and let us be your home-away-from-home! With great hotel deals in or near Brampton, Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan Mills, Oakville and elsewhere in Ontario, Monte Carlo Inns are there for you!