Tag Archives: travel
The way technology is changing vehicles is quite a thing to witness. The connected car is a thing of brilliance and beauty. As if our lives weren’t simple enough, now our cars are as useful as our smartphones.
Well, I didn’t think it could get much better – but the fact is – when it comes to audio, most cars have a decent system, but there is usually room for improvement.
Lucky for us, Ford figured out how to reach the pinnacle of car audio perfection by teaming up with Sony while they were designing their new 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum.
The new Premium Audio System by Sony includes 12 high-quality speakers in 10 areas throughout the car, including sub-woofers – meaning your car has a surround sound system – so everyone in the car gets the same epic sound quality experience (yes even way at the back).
I had a chance to test drive the car and it was almost comparable to concert quality sound – the Clear Phase and Live Acoustic technology ensures there is limited distortion (no matter how loud you blast it), which is key for those long highway drives when all you want to do is singalong at the top of your lungs to Springsteen to make the trip go by faster.
During the launch, myself and a group of bloggers were invited to the Sony Centre to check out the car while also experiencing the concert sound of the Sony Centre, to compare. It’s crazy to me how they were able to capture that live sound experience within the vehicle.
While I wouldn’t normally see the band Magic! out of my own volition, it was super fun to have a private show put on for the very small group of us, in a venue as large as the Sony Centre.
Sidenote – we also stopped for dinner at Pravda Vodka Bar for dinner – which, as a Vodka girl – I had always been meaning to try out. If you’re looking for a great date spot in Toronto, this is the place. Their drink menu is my dream drink menu.
Beyond the brilliant audio, the car itself is beautiful. It’s the largest vehicle I’ve ever driven, which normally would intimidate me, but with SYNC doing its job, and all the other perks it comes with, I was more than happy to drive this SUV around the city. The greatest perk of all might be the massaging seats. I’ve had heated seats before – but this takes it to another level. I get serious lower back pain from time to time and having this option was truly a blessing.
What can’t this car do? Seriously. If you want to impress your relatives this holiday, drive up in one of these. Everyone will want to take turns testing it out.
Today’s guest post comes just in time for the brutal Christmas holiday travels you are about to endure next week. Here are 6 key things to keep in mind before you get on that plane, train, bus, or in the car to visit your family – from Jennifer Scott:
Holiday traveling is the stuff that nightmares are made of…if you’re a pessimist, that is. If you’re an optimist, on the other hand, busy, chaotic holiday travel is a perfect opportunity to have a little fun and enjoy the ride – literally.
Whether you’re an eternal optimist looking for some fun ways to spice up a long journey this holiday season or a stressed-out parent riddled with anxiety over the potential tantrums your kids might have in a (very) public space in the next few weeks, these tips will help you create the most memorable (and enjoyable) holiday travel experience of your life.
Stock Up on Snacks. Lots of Snacks.
Yep, snacks are a must. Diet or no diet, there are plenty of appetizing, portable eats that can calm your nerves or at least give you something to do if you’re forced to spend a few idle hours waiting in an airport or riding in a car. And if you prefer a special kind of creamer or milk for your caffeine fix, make sure you bring an ample supply. Of course, if you’re traveling by air, your options are a bit more limited, but do what you can to keep yourself fueled to avoid any “hangriness” among your travel companions.
Download Some Useful Apps in Advance.
There are a variety of fun, entertaining, and even useful apps to help you find what you need and pass the time while you’re traveling over the holidays. But make sure to download them before you go – you know, while you’re on Wi-Fi and not burning up your precious data – so there’s no waiting for an app to download when you need an instant distraction during your journey.
Plan Some Quality Time…Apart.
The whole point of traveling together over the holidays is to spend tons of quality time with family and friends. But too many people who aren’t used to living under the same roof suddenly sparring over shower time can quickly lead to rising tensions. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan not only for quality time with your loved ones, but ample time for everyone to have their own space so your family members are slightly less inclined to have an impromptu fist fight over the turkey.
Skip Staying with Relatives and Make It a Mini-Vacation.
Because there are fewer business travelers, it might be possible to book a posh hotel on the cheap over the holidays. So if staying with your Aunt Susan and her obnoxious teenagers isn’t the most fun-filled way to spend a holiday, turn it into a mini-adventure and stay in a hotel, B&B, or vacation rental home instead of with family. Probably a good idea to pick a lodging option within a reasonable distance of your family so you can still make an appearance at family gatherings, unless of course you’re going for the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder effect.
Don’t Sweat Layovers.
If you’re flying to your destination this holiday season and your journey involves a connecting flight or two, a lengthy layover could be in your future. Typically, layovers – especially unexpected layovers – are a source of massive frustration for travelers. But here’s the good news: Airports can be a whole lot of fun these days, with fancy restaurants, classy shops, and even day spa services. Make the most of whatever time you end up hanging around an airport by making it part of your adventure.
Don’t be a stick in the mud when it comes to holiday travel. It’s all part of the fun, with every misstep an opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime. Planning only goes so far. With a go-with-the-flow attitude and a willingness to think outside the normal holiday rules (that you likely impose on yourself), holiday travel can be something to look forward to each year.
If You’re Travelling with Kids, Keep them Entertained.
Traveling with kids is a challenge all on its own, but with a lighthearted attitude you can make it fun for everyone. Silly games, such as scavenger hunts or license-plate “I Spy” games, sing-a-longs, and story time sessions can pass the time and distract antsy passengers from the fact that you won’t be “there yet” for at least six more hours.
If you’re flying, be sure to bring plenty of distractions. Books, a tablet loaded with kid games and apps, and DVDs all serve as great ways to keep little ones entertained on long flights. You might also bring along their favorite blanket and a pillow so that they can take a nap when they’re ready for a rest. Just be sure the carry-on you pack all these distractions in meets the luggage size requirements set by your airline.
Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression. She created her website, SpiritFinder.org, as a platform for advocacy on opening up about mental health. Through the site, she hopes to share the steps and success stories that can help others realize their own power. When she isn’t working on her website, she enjoys traveling, working with animals, and seeking out new friendships and adventures.
As summer 2015 came to an end, the people at Ford decided to create an epic event to showcase their latest development, Ford’s Sync 3.
The new touch screen technology in their Escape allows you to easily navigate the city, call anyone in your contacts, change radio stations (or play your music from Spotify), hear text messages, and so much more – hands free.
The event began with a group of influencers coming together at Rock Lobster for a private, delicious lobster roll lunch, where we were paired up with another blog team to take on #TheHunt – a challenge a la The Amazing Race – where we jumped into the new Ford Escapes and, with a list of tasks in hand to complete in just 2 hours, we raced to complete as many challenges as possible.
Being the introvert that I am, at first I didn’t love the idea of being paired with strangers for the race, but it turned out it was a match made in heaven as they were just as competitive as we were, and they’re also super smart, sweet girls attending Ryerson, with a killer sense of style, so it was a fun day.
Our competitive spirit led to earning 3rd place out of maybe 10 teams (?) which we thought was pretty great, considering we never once cheated by splitting up to complete tasks.
After the challenge was over we drove to the Big Crow for a fabulous BBQ dinner, and then it was time to drink. There’s nothing like an open bar after a day of adrenaline pumping competition.
While the point of the challenges was to get us familiar with Sync and how many great features it has to help out in just about any situation, it was the creativity of this event that really stuck with me. Too often, bloggers get invited to events with the intent to promote a new product and yes there might be food or an open bar, but that’s about it. I applaud the incredible PR team at National for coming up with something this unique, while also giving us a chance to experience the product features in action.
As for the car itself, I chose to let Tiffany do the driving during the race as we figured it would save time if only one person drove (competitive, right?) but I took it home this past Thanksgiving weekend, and I can’t rave about it enough.
I’ll admit I am known for my bad habit of radio channel flipping (ask anyone who’s ever been in a car with me while I’m driving, or sitting passenger). It’s one of the only stupid things I do when driving, because I can’t bear to listen to a bad song when I know there are all those other stations out there that might be playing a better one.
Being able to just say the name of the channel I want to listen to and have it change to that station is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, car wise. My eyes stayed on the road at all times, and I got to switch songs as much as I pleased.
Other amazing features include a camera for backing up, a beeping notification if you’re getting too close to an object (talk about avoiding bumps and scratches), heated seats, hands free (!!) parallel parking, and for an SUV – it only cost me $39 to fill up – which means it is incredibly fuel efficient.
If you’re in search of an inspired connected car, this is one worth taking out for a test drive.
This past weekend, I headed out to Mohawk Racetrack for the final time this season. If you missed my behind the scenes post last month, it’s worth checking out.
I had such a blast learning about everything that goes into horse-racing this summer at the track, and look forward to using my new-found betting skills to win big next year (or you know, bet a few dollars and have some more fun with friends).
If you have any questions about placing a bet, or how it all works, I’m now a pro and can fill you in on everything (okay not really, but I have a pretty decent grasp on it).
Before this summer, I had no idea how much fun a day at the races could be. I had no idea how to properly bet. I had no idea about the work that goes into maintaining these horses, and all the people required to make these races happen. I thought it was a sport for old men with gambling problems.
Turns out it is actually quite the affordable family event – especially at Mohawk – where I noticed many families at the larger events. Kids may not understand the dynamics of betting, but they can certainly appreciate eating BBQ on a warm summer night while watching some gorgeous horses run the track at full speed. And the free entry doesn’t hurt, either.
Horse racing is an exciting sport, and it makes for a fun group activity – one that us city kids wouldn’t normally think to do. Next time you’re looking for night out that’s a little different, suggest to your pals a quick trip out to Milton to have some fun betting at Mohawk. While you’re there, you can hit up the slots too. It’s kind of the perfect bachelor/bachelorette party idea.
And don’t forget – the season doesn’t close until the end of September so you still have a chance to win that $1000 gift card! #OffToTheRaces
As I mentioned earlier, I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Mohawk Racetrack last Thursday. Here’s a little rundown of how it all went down.
We started the evening at the Terrace Dining Room, which, after passing by last time, I was excited to check out.
After ordering a round of drinks and some apps, we watched the races begin and decided to try our hand at placing a bet on the horse with the name we liked best (great strategy, I know). Unfortunately, Deep Impact didn’t win, but our luck (and strategy) improved as the night went on.
For dinner we ordered the salmon tortellini and a pepperoni pizza, and despite being stuffed we had to follow it up with dessert because the brownie martini looked amazing (and the apple crumble was even better). The food was delicious – we were so full we could barely move once it was time to take the tour.
The dining room patio provides a perfect view of the track along with quick access to the betting machine, and the servers were all friendly and very attentive. If you head to Mohawk, I highly recommend staking your spot up there. But be warned – if you choose to sit on the patio, the mosquitoes get bad once the sun starts to set – my feet were covered in bites, so dress appropriately or bring bug spray.
After the meal and a little success betting on a couple horses with good odds, Mark, the communications coordinator at Mohawk, took us over to the Paddock to get a behind the scenes look at how it all goes down at the racetrack.
The horses arrive from all over Ontario in their trailers, then they’re moved inside and grouped together based on the race they’re running in.
At the back of the paddock there’s a special area where they test the urine of the horse that wins each race, along with a random horse from each race, to ensure they haven’t been given any performance enhancing drugs.
Each horse has their own caretaker who carefully bathes them and takes care of them before and after the race. These guys are the true unsung heroes of the sport, who unlike the drivers and coaches, get no glory and have to deal with literal horse shit – but have deep love for the animals.
At Mohawk, the horses are all Standardbred – which I learned means they are more durable horses than Thoroughbreds (who can only run once a month because of their daintier bone structure). Standardbreds are able to run once a week without causing too much stress to their bones.
By far the most exciting part of the evening was that, after the tour, we were able to get on the track in the car that drives in front of the horses to get them together in line as the race starts. Hearing their hooves clop along the pavement and being right beside them as they ran was an incredible once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. The power of the horses on the track is especially impactful when you get to be there right in the action of the race.
FYI Just a reminder that you still have time to make the quick trip to Mohawk this summer to take a selfie in front of the track and win $1000 gift certificate! Just post it to twitter and use the #OffToTheRaces hashtag and you’re all set. Remember, admission to the races is always free, and they’re open from 6pm to 11pm five days a week.