Erica Ehm Exposed!


Take Advantage of These Perks When You Travel This Spring

Planning ahead has its privileges

by: Erica Ehm
Free perks for family travel or a romantic getaway

For the first time in almost sixteen years, my husband and I are taking a vacation WITHOUT the kids. Can you believe it? When I was growing up, my parents used to take a vacation every year, gallivanting around the world, while a babysitter minded my sister and I. My husband and I have chosen to travel differently. We have always taken vacations with our kids, not because we had to, but because we wanted to. I believe that the experience of a family travelling the world together is an amazing bonding opportunity, not to mention a smart way for our kids to better understand the world. 

For example, we visited an old military fort in Puerto Rico as a day trip on a family cruise. The big lesson learned on this trip was for my husband and I: cruising isn't for us. We felt it was too claustrophobic and there was way too much lining up. However, the military fort was our favourite stop as it had some culture and history for all of us to take in.

We lived the island life in Barbados. Rather than staying at an all-inclusive, we found a small, out-of-the-way condo as our base. Shopping at the neighbourhood supermarket and taking local shuttle buses to hidden beaches gave us more of a sense of how people in Barbados live.

We learned everything you need to know about lobsters in Prince Edward Island. This particular boat trip was fantastic because the captain was also a working fisherman. He had my kids (and us) thoroughly entertained with tales of biology, ecology and oceanography. Plus, we chowed down on a meal of freshly caught lobster right on the boat.

We did Disney. Since there is so much to see and always so little time, we were forced to learn how to plan our days as a family. No matter what we did, the highlight for me was watching my kids' expressions of either wonderment or terror. Disney sure knows how to push your buttons.

We experienced the desert in Arizona. Arizona in general was one of our favourite family vacations. It was an adventure at every turn. We still talk about the day we took a jeep into the desert and climbed dunes, got covered in sand, and learned about Native American culture. 

We walked across the Ponte Vecchio in Italy. It was a scorching hot day for a walking tour but so worth it. We heard tales of secret tunnels, political intrigue, and architecture that connected with both my daughter and I. We even learned a few Italian gelato :)

Two  benefits have come from all this travel together. The first is raising kids who are veteran travellers. Vacationing with them is a breeze. The second is what I refer to as the art of racking up points and booking online with American Express Travel. Every time we pay for a family vacation, I've strategically used my Amex Card to earn reward points, and they really add up! If you play your cards right, you can finance a romantic getaway like the one my hubby and I are about to go on, using points!

While some of my fondest memories have been made on family vacations, it's time for me and my guy to reconnect without kids in tow. My husband and I will soon be heading to the gorgeous island of Curaçao for a week of guilt-free relaxation. We’ll be staying at an all–inclusive resort which is said to have the most gorgeous beaches!

Make It a Stress-Free Trip

Although our flight leaves at some ungodly time in the wee morning hours, our time at the airport will be a breeze because I always plan ahead. Here are some of my travel tips that you can use on your next airport visit:

  • Wear slip on shoes so they're easy to remove at the security check.
  • Put small carry on toiletries in a clear plastic bag.
  • Make sure your pockets aren't full of things you'll have to remove while in the security line (this will hold you and the line behind you up).
  • Leave lots of time to get through the airport so you aren't rushed (and stressed).

Because of my pre-planning, we'll also be flying in style. We always take advantage of Pearson Priority Security Lanes at Toronto Pearson International Airport by flashing our Amex. This is going to be such a stress-free trip! Have I mentioned there are no children travelling with us?

Stay Entertained at the Airport

I'm not sure if you know about this perk which is available at Toronto Pearson International Airport, through American Express. ALL travellers have access to complimentary wi-fi airport wide and downloadable ebooks and songs while at the airport through Amex’s Cloud 10 benefit <--(bookmark this). As much as I love my husband, I'll be spending a lot of time on the beach reading and sipping cocktails, so a few free ebooks are always welcome.

Explore Tastes and Sights off the Beaten Path

When you're trying to relax with kids in tow, all-inclusives are convenient. But this trip will be different with just my husband and I. Even though there are six restaurants on site, we're planning on leaving the resort to discover the Dutch culture which permeates the island. Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apparently, there are some awesome restaurants in the city, a very cool Jazz Bar called Miles, and the oldest synagogue in all of the Americas to check out. I'll be looking for hidden gems and other sights off the beaten path to make it a less-than-ordinary getaway.

Old Married Couple Confession: After 16 years of family vacations, what the heck are we going to talk about for seven days without the kids to distract us?