Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, January 2019 Issue
Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 877
Logan OH 43138
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright 2019
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff
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Happy 2019. May your travels in the coming year be safe, frequent and rewarding.
Kyuquot Sound in Tahsish-Kwois Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada
WOW air 'Big Seat' Sale
|Enjoy WOW premium amenities and more legroom on WOW air through March 2019.
WOW air offers discounted fares for its WOW Premium seat option, which includes the Big Seat from Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago and Newark to Europe and Iceland this winter. WOW air's Big Seat is extra wide and has at least 37 inches of legroom. You also have the amenities included in the WOW Premium ticket on select flights through March 2019.
One-way tickets from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, Paris , London , Frankfurt , Berlin , Copenhagen and Dublin are $599, and one-way tickets from Los Angeles to Iceland are $399. One-way tickets from Baltimore, Chicago and Newark to Amsterdam, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Copenhagen and Dublin are $499, and one-way tickets from Baltimore, Chicago and Newark to Iceland are $339.
Fares are based on the lowest one-way WOW premium fare booked on WOW air's web site and include taxes, fees and carrier charges. The offer applies to 1600 seats on selected flights, when booked on a return trip.
Additional WOW Premium amenities include: two checked bags, one carry-on, one personal item, cancellation protection, fast track security, priority boarding, an in-flight meal and no change fees.
Adventure Canada Savings on European Expeditions
|Celebrating two seasons of adventures and journeys, small-ship expedition operator Adventure Canada offers 15 percent off berth costs when booking any European expedition and 20 percent off berth costs when booking two or more European expeditions. Bookings must be made by Jan. 19, 2019.
Here are some of the expeditions that qualify for the discount.
Ireland Circumnavigation: June 9 to 20, 2019. From $5,995 per person. Explore rarely seen parts of the Emerald Isle: villages and coastline only accessible from Zodiacs. Sail along the Dingle Peninsula and meet friendly folks and charming villages.
Scotland Slowly: June 21 – July 1, 2019. From $5,495 per person. The 11-day expedition takes you among Neolithic ruins, sea caves, bird cliffs, and distilleries. Visit Glasgow, Pentland, the Western Isles, Firth, Orkney, the Shetland islands, and Aberdeen.
Iceland Circumnavigation: July 5–14, 2019. From $4,495 USD per person. See active volcanoes, emerging islands, lava fields, geysers, and glaciers. In fishing villages scattered around the coast, locals share songs and stories.
In the Wake of the Vikings: July 14–25, 2019. From $4,995 per person. In the Wake of the Vikings: Sail Reykjavík to Greenland’s east coast, a region of glaciers, fjords, icebergs, whales and seabirds. Visit villages in the southern region that are green and lush in the summer months. Highlights include basking in the Unartoq geothermal springs and exploring the ruins of Brattelid, a settlement founded by Erik the Red.
Adventure Canada or 800/363-7566.
$1000 Off Italy at Leisure
|Expat Explore Tours discounts its 10 day guided tour to Rome, Venice and the Tuscan region.
The June 9, 2019 departure is reduced to $1,345 from $2,390 while the Sep. 1, 2019 departure is reduced to $1,400 from $2,390. Very limited spaces are available on both departures.
The trip includes:
- 9 nights' accommodation in twin rooms with private en-suite facilities. Single travelers pay a single supplement for a private room.
- Expat tour leader
- 9 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
- All taxes and fees
- Any public transport used as part of the tour (excludes free days)
- Air conditioned coach with reclining seats, TV for DVDs, and toilet
- 9 experiences including guided walking tours, orientation walks and driving tours of cities.
The tour starts in Rome with the expected stops: the Colosseum, Circus Maximus and Castle d'Angelo. Traveling north stops include Siena, famous for the 'Palio' horse race, San Gimignano to sample local wines then to the leaning tower of Pisa. There’s a guided walking tour of Florence.
After a balsamic vinegar tasting in Modena, you drive to Verona and finally to Venice where the trip ends. Free days to explore on your own are scheduled in Rome, Tuscany, Verona and Venice.
Italy at Leisure or 855/980-6726.
Madagascar on Sale
|World Expeditions has a sale on several departures of its 21 day Madagascar Adventure.
Highlights of this trip to the world’s fourth largest island and its rich ecology include hiking sandstone canyons and swimming in natural pools in Isalo National Park, traversing the limestone pinnacles of Tsingy de Bemaraha, searching for lemurs in Ranomafana Nature Reserve and Kirindy Forest, walking among the granite peaks and valleys of Andringitra National Park, watching the sunset at the Baobabs Alley and canoeing and beach camping along the Manambolo River.
Activities include four days canoeing, five days of trekking, a wildlife safari where you spend 11 nights camping in a permanent safari camps and nine nights in hotels.
- 20 breakfasts, 18 lunches and 18 dinners
- Airport transfers (day 1 and 21 only)
- 9 nights in 2 star hotels on a twinshare basis
- 11 nights fully supported camping on a twinshare tent basis
- Group camping equipment including tent and sleeping mat (sleeping bag and pillow not included)
- English speaking local guide
- Porters and cook/camp crew for trek in Bongalava
- Canoe assistants and cook/camp crew on Manambolo River
- Permits and entry fees as listed in itinerary
- Local guide in Isalo, Tsingy, Andringitra, Ranomafana National Parks
- Private vehicle transport throughout
- Flight Toliara to Antananarivo
- Tourist taxes.
Not included are international flights and airport taxes, arrival and departure transfers if you are not arriving or departing on day 1 and 21, sleeping bag, bottled water, alcoholic drinks, tips, travel insurance which is compulsory and cost of a Visa. Additionally, items of a personal nature such as phone calls and laundry are not included.
Discounted trips, where the price drops to $3,704 from $3,899, are scheduled on June 22, July 27 and Aug. 24, 2019.
Companions Sail Free on Star Clippers
|Exploring Indonesia on board a clipper ship makes the most of the country’s diverse landscapes and culture. Now it’s even easier with Star Clipper’s Buy One Get One offer on select seven-night sailings roundtrip out of Bali.
Book select eastbound and westbound Bali departures in June, July and August 2019 and you get a free companion fare. The starting fare for an inside stateroom drops by half to $715 per person after accounting for the free fare, while the per-person cost for the Owners Cabin, is $1,685 with this deal. Prices are based on double occupancy.
East- and westbound seven-night Indonesian sailings call on multiple islands such as tiny, uninhabited Satonda, believed by locals to be sacred. On Komodo Island, visit the national park for an opportunity to spot a seven- to nine-foot long Komodo dragon in its natural environment. Lovina Beach is known for its black sand and calm seas. Pink Beach, or Pantai Merah, is one of seven pink sand beaches on the planet.
Indonesian sailings are on board the 170-passenger Star Clipper, one of three clipper ships in the Star Clippers fleet. The cruise ship has teak decks, two swimming pools, informal dining, nautical décor and brass accents. Star Clippers itineraries are created using wind charts to ensure the ship can sail under wind power as much as possible.
Star Clippers or 800/442-0551.
$2199 Savings on Goway East Africa Safari
|Goway Travel offers savings of up to $2,199 per couple on select 14-day East Africa departures.
It’s a combination of Kenya and Tanzania and it covers all the must-see highlights. The number of guests per vehicle are capped at six so everyone has a window seat. 4×4 vehicles are used throughout and all accommodations are at first class lodges.
Starting in Nairobi, the itinerary includes Mt. Kenya National Park, Samburu, Lake Nakuru, and the Masai Mara in Kenya. In Tanzania, visit the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara, finishing in Arusha. You can combine the bush with the beach with add-ons to Zanzibar and Mombasa.
Goway offers significant savings and flexibility for two couples, or a family of four, travelling together on any of their scheduled East Africa safaris. Four passengers traveling together can depart on any day on a private basis at no extra cost.
Goway's 14-day East Africa Odyssey safari is priced from $5,256 and includes accommodation in superior lodges and camps, most meals, all transport and game drives in a 4x4 vehicle, transfers, guided walks, and the services of a professional driver/guide throughout.
Ecela or 800/387-8850.
Taking Its Toll
|In early U.S. history, individual citizens would maintain stretches of road and collect a fee from people who used that road. Eventually, companies built, improved, and maintained roadways. Tolls were collected from users to finance the enterprise.
The first major toll road in the U.S. was the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike within Pennsylvania. Built in the 1790s, it connected Philadelphia and Lancaster.
Prior to the American Revolution, smaller toll roads organized by local governments existed, such as the Little River Turnpike which connected Alexandria, Virginia with the farmland of Western Virginia.
By the turn of the 20th century most toll roads were taken over by state highway departments or quasi-governmental authorities that issued toll revenue bonds to raise funds for construction and/or operation of the road.
The nation's first fully controlled-access expressway, the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, opened between 1938 and 1940. The Merritt Parkway, along with the adjoining Hutchinson River Parkway to the west and Wilbur Cross Parkway to the east, provided an uninterrupted expressway link between New York City and Hartford. The Merritt Parkway used a barrier system: one toll plaza was at the New York/Connecticut state line and the other was at the Merritt's east end. Controlled-access roads were the perfect way to make motorists pay tolls.
Toll collecting evolved and the first automatic toll collection station went into service in 1954. It was at the Union Toll Plaza on New Jersey's Garden State Parkway. Motorists dropped coins into a wire mesh hopper, triggering a green light that told them to go ahead. The idea soon caught on at toll roads around the country, reducing the number of booth attendants and propelling cars and trucks on their way.
There are some 3,300 miles of toll roads in the U.S. interstate system of some 47,000 miles. Other U.S. routes and state roads have tolls, but the 5,500-mile total is still a tiny fraction of the more than 4 million miles of roads in the nation. Toll collections add about $13 billion annually to state and local government revenues.
Free Hike and Bike Tours
|The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy in Scottsdale, AZ offers about 90 guided hike and bike tours through its bike program. Held at Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve until Apr. 15, 2019, themes for these tours are Discovery (educational), Wellness, Family and Mountain Bike (which include beginner clinics).
These tours are offered free of charge. The Conservancy is a non-profit organization but does accept donations.
Hikes and Bikes include the story of Brown’s Ranch, a 3.5 mile leisurely hike to one of Scottsdale’s earliest cattle operations, the Bowtie Hike, a moderate 7.5 mile hike along Barb’s Trail and Bootlegger Trail and Bike the North and the Park, an intermediate 12 to 15 mile bike ride into McDowell Mountain Park and out into the Preserve and up the Gooseneck trail.
McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Guided Hike and Bike Tours.
Dine Out Vancouver Festival
|Dine Out Vancouver Festival, Canada’s largest annual celebration of food and drink, takes place Jan. 18 to Feb. 3, 2019, returning for its 17th consecutive year.
Attracting more than 100,000 attendees, the 17-day celebration features food-themed events where more than 300 restaurants offer fixed-price meals at $15, $35, $25 or $45 per person, many complemented by Wines of British Columbia, craft beer and cocktails.
“Dine and Stay” packages with special hotel rates start at $89.
A number of events are back in 2019, including the Grand Tasting which kicks off the festival. The tasting includes an array of restaurant tasting tables, beverages from craft breweries and cideries, plus products from more than 20 B.C. wineries.
The Secret Supper Soiree is a culinary road trip where you hop aboard a 1930s trolley for a speakeasy-themed tour of the city’s dining events. 1930's attire is encouraged.
At Street Food City at the Vancouver Art Gallery, you can sample offerings from some of the city’s favorite food trucks while enjoying live entertainment.
Dine Out celebrates local talent. The Vancouver World Chef Exchange brings together five chefs from London, Sydney, Düsseldorf, Montreal, and San Diego, for a series of collaborations with Vancouver’s finest.
New events for 2019 include Bauhaus Stammtisch, a German-style family dinner and the Painted Rock Estate Winemakers Dinner serving a four-course Pacific Northwest dinner, paired with some of B.C.’s best wines.
Dine Out Vancouver Festival.
Disgusting Food Museum in Los Angeles
|The Disgusting Food Museum opened its doors and features provocative foods from around the world, to see, smell, and taste (if you dare) international foods. The museum celebrates food from around the world highlighting how different cultures may or may not view certain things as disgusting.
Exhibited at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in the downtown Los Angeles Arts District, the culinary journey only lasts through Feb. 17, 2019.
The Disgusting Food Museum will introduce worldwide delicacies from 80 countries that include:
- Frog smoothies from Peru
- Maggot cheese from Sardinia
- The notoriously smelly fruit, the Durian, from Thailand
- Surströmming, putrid sea herring dish from Sweden
- Mouse Wine, drowned baby mice in rice wine from China.
You can explore unfamiliar food creations, smell new and face-cringing aromas and try select samples at the grand finale tasting bar. Amazing and bizarre Instagramable moments are endless at the
Disgusting Food Museum.
Stay, Play & Ride Package
|The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District in Fort Lauderdale, FL combines activities and a hotel stay in their "Stay, Play & Ride" package, available until Sep. 30, 2019.
With rates from $199 per room, per night, the package includes a stay at the Riverside Hotel, admission to some of the District's cultural attractions, free passes for the Sun Trolley, an option to ride the Brightline train and see a performance at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts or Parker Playhouse, shopping and dining.
The "Stay, Play & Ride" package includes:
- Two nights' accommodations at the Riverside Hotel. Automatic upgrade to next room category based on projected availability.
- Daily breakfast for two at Indigo restaurant
- Free glass of wine or cocktail with entrée at Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grill
- Choice of Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District venues: two choices for a two night stay, three venues for a three night stay and four venues for a four night or longer stay.
- Free passes to ride the Sun Trolley
- A voucher for a savings book with more than 40 offers, from The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale mall
- Free valet parking for one vehicle per room
- Add a day trip to ride the Brightline train to West Palm Beach or Miami.
- Add a performance at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts or Parker Playhouse.
Riverwalk A&E District cultural venues include: NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, Historic Stranahan House Museum, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, and History Fort Lauderdale.
Rate is per room, per night, exclusive of taxes, gratuities and other charges. Does not apply to groups and it cannot be combined with any other offer. Advance reservations are required. No refund or credit for unused portion. Breakfast credit will apply to the number of occupants registered in the room.
Stay, Play & Ride package.
Park with GasBuddy Savings
|For more than 18 years, GasBuddy has helped millions of drivers save money when they fuel up their cars. Now GasBuddy extends saving with a parking option and helps find, reserve and pay for discounted parking at thousands of facilities across the United States.
As an added benefit, GasBuddy will give participating drivers GasBack rebates in the form of free gasoline when they Park with GasBuddy. It's part of GasBuddy's GasBack program with free rewards gasoline.
Motorists spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for parking spots, which adds up to about $345 per driver in wasted time, fuel, and emissions. Now open the GasBuddy app and locate available discounted garage parking while earning credit for free gas.
This feature is the latest example of how GasBuddy is evolving to let consumers earn GasBack. To start earning, sign up for the Pay with GasBuddy card, that gives you a discount on gas. Pay with GasBuddy works at thousands of stations nationwide and can be used at the pump like any other form of payment.
GasBuddy is a company that connects drivers through their GasBuddy app and website. It’s the leading source for real-time fuel prices at more than 150,000 gas station convenience stores in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Cunard 'Upgrades on Us' Offer
|Cunard offers its Upgrades on Us promotion on select 2019 and 2020 voyages on the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. To take advantage of the offer, which is only good for new booking, book by Feb. 28, 2019.
Upgrades on Us promotion is available on transatlantic crossings including the Third Annual Transatlantic Fashion Week Crossing in July 2019 and the New England & Canada voyages, on Queen Mary 2. The offer is also available on Caribbean, Europe, South America, Australia and Asia voyages on all ships, sailing May 2019 through November 2020.
The Upgrades on Us promotion features:
- Free upgrade from inside to balcony stateroom
- Free upgrade from club balcony to Princess Grill
- Upgrade within Queens Grill categories
- Grill Suite bookings receive free gratuities and free drinks package
- Past guests receive free gratuities (in all categories)
- All guests receive 50 percent reduced deposit.
The listed offers are not available to third/fourth berth guests.
The Free Double Upgrade offer is based on reserving a balcony stateroom for the price of an inside stateroom.
The Free Upgrade to and within the Grill Suite is based on reserving a Queens Grill Suite (category Q5 on Queen Mary 2 or Q4 on Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth), for the price of a Queens Grill Suite category Q7 on Queen Mary 2; Q6 on Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth. A Princess Grill upgrade is based on reserving a Princess Grill Suite for the price of a Club Balcony stateroom.
The Free Drinks package is for a Princess Grill Suite or Queens Grill Suite on voyages seven nights or longer in this promotion. It applies to drinks $12 and under purchased on board during the cruise. Drinks priced above $12 must be purchased at full price. The 15 percent service charge applied against all bar orders will be included under this promotion for all drinks ordered under $12. This promotion does not apply to drinks ordered as room service or in-room mini-bar.
Free Gratuities for Past Guests and Grill Suite Guests is based on pre-payment by Cunard of suggested gratuities in the amount of $13.50 per person, per day for Grill Suites and $11.50 per person, per day for Britannia staterooms.
50% Reduced Deposit: Pay 12.5 percent deposit per person instead of the standard 25 percent required deposit which is required within three days of reservation. Bookings are subject to cancellation if deposit amount is not received within the option period.
Cunard or 800/728-6273.
Choice Privileges Winter Travel Promotions
|Choice Privileges, the loyalty program from Choice Hotels, brings back its Double Points promotion. Through Feb. 15, 2019, loyalty program members who book at participating Choice Hotels can earn 20 points per dollar spent at hotels, up to 30,000 bonus points. Book on Choice Hotels' mobile app and earn more points with the Book. Spin. Win. promotion, which awards you with up to 3,000 additional bonus points.
To qualify for the Double Points promotion, members must complete the following steps:
- Register at the double points web site ChoiceHotels.com/doublepoints
- Book on ChoiceHotels.com, the Choice Mobile app, or by calling 800.4CHOICE
- Check-in for qualifying stays through Feb. 15, 2019.
To participate in the Book. Spin. Win. promotion, reserve a qualifying stay using the Choice Hotels mobile app. Upon booking, you will be prompted to register for the promotion and "spin" for a chance to win bonus points. You must check-in within the promotion period to receive bonus points.
Choice Privileges rewards program.
2019 Alaska TourSaver Travel Discounts
|Hardy adventurers and average sightseers can save money on an Alaska vacation with the Alaska TourSaver book.
Each year, the Alaska TourSaver's publishers scour the state for travel options to put on sale in the guide, now available as a free smartphone app.
There are more than 100 offers. Visitors and residents purchase the book for the best discounts on top-rated activities and adventures, including:
- The Alaska Railroad two-for-one savings (up to $430).
- Save $50 per person on a cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park.
- Save $76 per person on a Denali flightseeing with glacier landing tour.
New adventures include:
Money-saving coupons include:
Save $100 at Kennicott Glacier Lodge, in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Plus discounts for glacier hikes and flightseeing tours.
Save $50 per person flightseeing in Misty Fjords National Monument.
Two-for one savings for deep-sea fishing charters in Seward and Homer.
Two-for-one savings on whale-watching in Juneau.
- Tour of St. Paul Island, one of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea.
- Helicopter tour of Denali with lunch on top of a ridge near the Ruth Glacier. Save $100 per person.
- Zipline tours in Seward. Save $37 per person.
Alaska TourSaver can be purchased online and at Carrs and Safeway grocery stores throughout Alaska. You can go to the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) to download the free smartphone app. Alaska TourSaver App Site.
Discounts in California
|Hotels across the Golden State offer deals this winter for visitors to explore California’s best offerings:
Palm Springs, CA: The Westin Mission Hills Visitas offers 20 percent off on room bookings through Jan. 31, 2019.
Monterey, CA: Monterey Bay wants to reward you for booking in advance with discounts on rooms at hotels. Ranging from 10 to 25 percent off, these limited-time deals are available at Portola Hotel, Centrella Inn, Wave Street Inn, Monterey Bay Inn, and more. For a full list of participating hotels click here.
Sonoma Valley, CA: Visit California’s wine country at a discount. The Sonoma Fairmont Mission Inn offers 30 percent off rates if you stay three nights or more. This offer is available year-round, subject to availability.
San Diego, CA: Receive up to 30 percent off at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa as part of the “Fall in Love with Fall” promotion. Fall stays last until Mar. 31, 2019 and can be booked through Jan. 31, 2019.
Yosemite-Madera County, CA: Save oup to 40 percent on a winter getaway to Yosemite National Park with the “Stay More, Save More” promotion when staying at the Yosemite Valley Lodge or the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. At the Majestic Yosemite Hotel the offer is good until Apr. 15, 2019 and at Yosemite Valley Lodge the offer is good until Mar. 31, 2019.
You can get free lift tickets when you stay at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel or Yosemite Valley Lodge through Mar. 28, 2019 as part of the Stay 2 Ski Free Special.
|If you’re planning a Disneyland Resort vacation in early 2019, now is your chance to save. Disneyland Resort hotels offer up to 25 percent off on-property stays during Winter and Spring 2019.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offers 20 percent savings on standard rooms and 25 percent savings on premium rooms. Disneyland Hotel offers 20 percent savings on standard rooms and 25 percent savings on premium rooms. Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel offers 10 percent savings on standard and premium rooms. The savings are based on the non-discounted price for the same room and same hotel for most Sunday through Thursday nights from Jan. 6 through Apr. 11, 2019.
Early 2019 is a good time to visit Disneyland Resort. You can see Disneyland when crowds are lighter and Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will be decked out in their birthday attire in celebration of their 90th birthday. Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival returns in Spring 2019.
To take advantage of this Disneyland Resort hotels offer book by Mar. 16, 2019. Your travel must be completed by April 12, 2019.
Disneyland Resort hotel deals
Seabourn Signature Savings
|Seabourn cruise line provides savings and value-added amenities on select 2019-2020 voyages across the five-ship fleet, including Seabourn Ovation.
The 'Signature Savings Event' applies to select worldwide cruises throughout Europe, Antarctica and Patagonia, Alaska, India, Asia, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Cuba, the Panama Canal, Australia and New Zealand, trans-Atlantic crossings and holiday cruises.
Book by Feb. 19, 2019 and depending on the voyage special offers may include:
- Free 300-minute internet package per person
- Free two or three veranda suite upgrade
- Up to $500 shipboard credit per suite
- Up to $500 air credit per person
- 50 percent reduced deposit
- Up to 15 percent savings on combination (back-to-back) cruises.
Book a penthouse or premium suite and receive up to $1,000 shipboard credit per suite and an unlimited internet package per suite.
Seabourn Signature Savings Event or 800/442-4.448
What the Heck is Forest Bathing? By Carolyn Ali
|5 Things You Didn't Know About Shinrin-Yoku in BC
Forest bathing is the latest health trend—but what exactly is it, anyways? Translated from the Japanese term shinrin-yoku, forest bathing is also known as forest therapy. It’s kind of like hiking through the forest. It’s kind of like meditating amongst the trees. Yet it’s not exactly either.
“I’ve been doing forest therapy all my life, and I didn’t know there was a term for it,” says Haida Bolton. From British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, Bolton describes how she grew up in BC and has always felt uplifted by taking contemplative walks through the rainforest. When she first heard of shinrin-yoku, she found the science behind it intriguing.
Based in Pender Harbour, Bolton runs nature day camps for children and offers both indoor and outdoor reflexology. In 2016, she was certified by the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy as BC’s first Forest Therapy Guide. The organization, based in California, promotes the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku, or taking a slow walk in the woods and absorbing the surroundings with all your senses. Here’s how Bolton explains the practice.
Forest Bathing is Not Hiking - While hiking involves moving purposefully across terrain, forest bathing isn’t about following a defined route. Bolton’s forest therapy walks, which last about 2-1/2 hours, may span only about one kilometre. “This experience is much slower,” she says. “The guide will really slow down the participants and get them to interact with the forest with all their senses.” Rather than the destination, the point is to focus on the details of the journey.
But unlike an interpretive nature walk, the guide’s role isn’t to explain the flora and fauna. Rather, the guide facilitates the contemplative experience, offering participants “invitations” to interact with the forest in a meaningful and healing way.
For example, participants will be invited to use their eyes, paying attention to what’s in motion. “Sometimes there are lots of birds flying, and that’s easy to see. Sometimes it’s the wind blowing—the slightest breeze is making one little leaf twirl in circles,” she explains.
Other times participants will focus on sound or touch. “How many of us really slow down and feel the different textures in the forest?” she asks. Even the sense of taste is stimulated. At the end of the session, there’s a tea ceremony that highlights the edible plants of the forest such as lemon balm, licorice root, or a hemlock tree’s citrusy new spring growth.
Forest Bathing is Both a Personal and a Shard Experience - While some people liken forest bathing to meditation, it’s not necessarily a solitary experience. It is, however, a mindful one, with a similar experience of slowing down and really being in the moment.
But sharing is also part of the experience. Bolton guides people both one-on-one and in groups of up to 12. “You want a small enough group that there’s that feeling of intimacy,” she says. Participants have time to contemplate the forest on their own and with others. “It makes it a much richer experience,” she says. “You’re hearing and seeing things through what they share that you didn’t notice yourself. There’s a lot of connection and pleasure in sharing forest therapy with other people.”
Forest Bathing Can Be Guided or Independent - Bolton acknowledges that you don’t need a guide to practice forest therapy; some people are quite effective in practicing solo. But a guide can help to facilitate the process by controlling the pace and offering invitations to experience the forest in new ways. “People say that they are grateful that they had a guide to slow them down, because they never would have slowed themselves down enough to experience the detail.”
Some people benefit from a guide in the same way they might benefit from a personal trainer at the gym. “Sometimes we have to make a commitment to other people in order to make a commitment to ourselves,” she explains. “Sometimes when we have a coach or guide meeting us at a certain time, we are more likely to go out and do this thing we know is beneficial for us.”
Bolton emphasizes, however, that a forest therapy guide is not a therapist. “The forest itself is the therapist,” she says. “The forest does all the work. The guide simply opens the door to the forest to help connect the forest with the person.”
Forest Bathing Can Spark Creativity and Problem Solving - One of the benefits of paying close attention to your surroundings is you see new things that can inspire other areas of your life. “Whether you’re an architect or a painter or a writer, so much creative inspiration comes from slowing down in the forest and noticing the details with all our senses,” she says. For example, noticing an insect you’ve never seen before could inspire a new idea: “There’s this awe effect, this great joy and wonder and curiosity and excitement.”
Forest Bathing Promotes Well-Being - The calming benefits of spending time in nature are well documented. A blog by Vancouver’s David Suzuki Foundation sums them up, including decreased anxiety and a strengthened immune system. Japanese studies have shown that people who spend time in the forest inhale beneficial bacteria, plant-based essential oils, and negatively charged ions. The Association of Nature & Forest Therapy lists myriad benefits including reduced blood pressure, increased energy, and increased ability to focus.
As the association acknowledges on its website, forest therapy isn’t a new concept, and “approaches such as Shinrin-yoku have roots in many cultures throughout history.” Like Bolton, many people know the benefits from their own experience. “I look at the forest and somehow it just calms me. It brings out the joy in me,” she reflects. ”I don’t know how it works, it just does.” Laughing, she adds, “I don’t know how a computer works, but it does, so I use it.”
Where to Practise Forest Bathing (Shinrin-Yoku) in BC - Haida Bolton offers guided forest therapy walks on the Sunshine Coast. She also travels to Coombs on Vancouver Island to lead walks there; see Nature With Haida.
From their base in Parksville on Vancouver Island, Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours take guests on a gentle walk through an off-the-beaten-track forest with old-growth trees and native plants. In conjunction with Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours, Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre offers a Reconnect Package that includes accommodation and a forest bathing tour, plus mineral pool access at the resort’s Grotto Spa.
For those who lean towards hiking, the Sunshine Coast Trail was designed to be hiked in a contemplative manner. The 180-kilometre (112-mile) backcountry trail, which stretches from Sarah Point in Desolation Sound to Saltery Bay, is Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hiking experience.
According to Eagle Walz, one of the founders of the trail, the route was designed, marked, and signposted primarily in a north-south direction to provide a greater solitude than if people started from both ends and crossed paths. “Even though people are out there, you don’t necessarily see them,” he notes. “Seeing markers frequently makes it easy to stay on the trail so you can relax in the forest and enjoy breathing in the atmosphere amongst the plants.”
With close to 25 percent of the world’s temperate rainforest in British Columbia, there are plenty of places to be one with the trees. For more ideas on where to go, see Top 5 Places to Experience the Rainforest in BC.
Destination British Columbia
Holland America Choose Your Cruise Sweepstakes
|Holland America cruise line is offering the chance to win a seven-day in their Choose Your Cruise sweepstakes.
You can enter for a chance to win a cruise a cruise to Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, New England and Canada. The prize is worth more than $3,500.
To be eligibile you must be a U.S. or Canadian resident 21 years or older. You can enter until Mar. 31, 2019. And you can enter once a day with your personal email.
The grand prize is a seven-day Holland America Line Cruise for two to Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, or Canada and New England departing in 2019. The prize includes ocean-view stateroom accommodations and most shipboard meals.
Click here to enter.
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