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GIFT CARDS, HOW TO: Play Your Gift Cards Right – Tips for your one-stop shop


A subtle stigma once surrounded the lowly gift card—some considered it a “lazy” gift, requiring little forethought. This attitude has been shifting consistently over the last decade as the popularity of online shopping continues to grow. Today, gift cards are one of Canadians’ most requested gifts, with anincreasing number of tech-savvy consumers even favouring the …Read More
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A subtle stigma once surrounded the lowly gift card—some considered it a “lazy” gift, requiring little forethought. This attitude has been shifting consistently over the last decade as the popularity of online shopping continues to grow. Today, gift cards are one of Canadians’ most requested gifts, with anincreasing number of tech-savvy consumers even favouring the purely digital forms. Here, we review some tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your purchase.

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Skip the Holiday Hustle

When it comes to gift cards, the benefits to the giver are obvious—just ask anyone who’s ever scoured through a hectic holiday shopping mall for hours, unable to find the perfect present for a hard-to-buy-for friend. But there are plenty of benefits for recipients, as well. Gift cards allow people to purchase exactly what they want, saving them the hassle of keeping gift receipts and returning duplicate or unwanted presents to the store. Research on shopping trends also indicates that many consumers who use gift cards spend up to double the value of the card at because it provides them an opportunity to splurge on something special that they would likely not have purchased otherwise. With more and more cards available for online use, there’s also the convenience of shopping from home; simply enter the card code at checkout, and wait for the goods to be delivered.

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Make It Personal

A little creativity can add a special personal touch to the standard gift card experience. Most established businesses offer some form of card, so instead of opting for the generalized, all-inclusive Visa, first consider your recipient. How do they spend their time? What might they want to learn? Foodies may love exploring new restaurants or participating in cooking classes. Give your creative friend with a card to a craft supply store or entry to an art museum. There are cards to suit bookworms and techies and sports enthusiasts. They can often be redeemed for classes or activities, like snowboarding lessons or tickets to the movies. Still not sure? Consider where they are in life. Are they a struggling university student? Give them a card to the local supermarket. Did they just buy their first house? Home outfitting stores are where it’s at. Do they have children? Buy them a card to use towards house-cleaning services, meal assembly and delivery programs, or a date night out (bonus points if you offer to babysit!). Then, think about delivery. Handmade envelopes and gift boxes, candy-filled Mason jars, stuffed animals, decorated picture frames…there are hundreds of unique ways to customize your gift.

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Discounted Dealings

Once a gift card is purchased, it cannot be returned to the business for cash. For this reason, people sometimes try to sell their unwanted gift cards at a lower price online. A fifty-dollar card might be sold for as low as thirty-five; the discount offers an incentive to buyers who would otherwise purchase the cards at full price from a certified source. This type of transaction can certainly help you save money, but it does require caution. To avoid getting scammed by unscrupulous sellers posing as innocent re-gifters, only buy discounted gift cards from verified sites. Dedicated websites like Cardpool.com and Giftcards.com offer more security than personal sales sites like Craigslist or Kijiji. Always check the companies’ policies—look for websites that guarantee their gift cards after purchase and provide refunds for unused cards. Read through customer feedback, and only use sellers with high approval ratings. Add an extra measure of security by purchasing all discounted gift cards with a credit card. The insurance will keep you covered in the case of a fraudulent transaction.

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Buyer Beware

When buying gift cards in person, it’s generally better to get them from customer service agents instead of public sales racks that are accessed by many shoppers. Examine cards for signs of tampering, making sure the hidden activation code on the back has not been exposed in any way. When buying cards online, purchase them directly from a store’s official website; it will usually offer increased security measures.

Before you buy, read the fine print. Some cards have activation fees that need to be paid upon purchase. In Alberta, gift cards with a specific monetary value are considered to be like cash; they cannot be taxed or given an expiry date. Gift certificates that are redeemed for a service without an established dollar amount (e.g. “good for one manicure”) are not subject to these regulations. Always determine if there is an expiry date or any additional conditions ahead of time. It’s also important to buy only from reputable, long-standing businesses—consumers who purchase gift cards from small companies that go out of business can do little to recover their losses. Lastly, never use random websites that claim to verify the balance leftover on your card. Call the number printed on the back and speak to an agent in person.

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Give & Give Again

For a different take on the all-purpose present, consider a subscription. This latest trend is the gift that keeps on giving, and the possibilities for it go far beyond the standard monthly magazine. One option is the online membership, where recipients can access different types of classes, movie sites, or book and podcast libraries, often on an unlimited basis, for a specified time period. Also popular is the subscription box club, where members receive a unique gift delivered to their door once a month. There are sock clubs, fragrance clubs—even snack clubs. Some are for lovers of coffee, spices, bourbon or tea. There are specialized boxes to suit

any interest starting at just a handful of dollars per month. Just make sure to always double-check pricing; some luxury subscription box providers advertise a monthly price instead of a yearly one, and costs can add up quickly if you’re not paying attention.  t8n

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Simplified Shopping

Go online to get dozens of unique subscription box ideas for the loved ones in your life. http://www.mysubscriptionaddiction.com/category/subscription-box-gift-ideas categorizes subscriptions based on interests to simplify the selection process. Find great options for kids, parents, pet lovers, sports nuts, artists, foodies, beauty queens…just try to resist subscribing to them yourself!

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Did You Know?

An estimated 1 billion dollars in gift cards goes unused every year. You can donate full or partially used gift cards to charitable organizations that match them with individual needs. Even minute amounts add up enough to make a difference, and many charities will provide a tax receipt for the value of the card.

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River Valley Fun


Exploring our ribbon of green The nation’s largest expanse of urban parkland lies right here in Edmonton. The River Valley parks form an unbroken “ribbon of green,” stretching 48 km and covering 18,000 acres. The River Valley provides Edmontonians with an array of activities and events, especially during the summer months. Here’s what the River …Read More
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Exploring our ribbon of green

The nation’s largest expanse of urban parkland lies right here in Edmonton. The River Valley parks form an unbroken “ribbon of green,” stretching 48 km and covering 18,000 acres. The River Valley provides Edmontonians with an array of activities and events, especially during the summer months. Here’s what the River Valley has to offer you. .

 

Take in a Festival

Edmonton is a city with many titles: “Festival City” and “River City” to name a couple. It only seems natural to combine these two features when we can, giving Edmontonians the best of both worlds. Many of the River Valley festivals allow patrons to escape the city noise, enjoy the beauty of nature, and enjoy hours of music and culture. The Valley hosts a variety of music festivals to match just about any taste: The Edmonton Folk Music Festival comes to Gallagher Park every August; and the Edmonton Rock Music Festival, Interstellar Rodeo and Symphony Under the Sky can all be found in Hawrelak Park. During the summer, Harwelak Park also welcomes thespians and lovers of theatre as it hosts the Freewill Shakespeare Festival. You can enjoy (or critique) modern takes on the bard’s most famous plays. It’s also home to the popular Heritage Festival—a celebration of diversity and the cross-cultural bonds we share. . . . Hit the Trails and Rails An extensive network of trails criss-cross the River Valley, providing over 160 km of exploration for walkers, joggers and cyclists alike. They range from busy, paved routes to narrow, hard-packed trails that see little traffic. They form a nearly unbroken link across the city as you can travel from Hermitage Park in the northeast to the Fort Edmonton Footbridge in the southwest without ever leaving the River Valley. For those seeking something less intense, there are other transportation options. From May to October, the High Level Bridge Streetcar uses the former CPR tracks and a fleet of restored electric streetcars that ferry travellers from Jasper Plaza to Old Strathcona for $6 round-trip. Meanwhile, Edmonton’s new funicular whisks people (for free) from 100th Street down Grierson Hill and into Louise McKinney Riverfront Park—a great option for anyone daunted by the multitude of stairs leading from downtown to the river. High Level Bridge Streetcar: http://www.edmonton-radial-railway.ab.ca/highlevelbridge/ . .

Take a Tour

Exploration can be its own reward, but for the uninitiated it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. Luckily, the River Valley boasts a number of tours as a starting point. For those looking to experience the River Valley’s natural beauty, try River Valley Adventure Co. They offer hour-long Segway tours that allow everyone from beginner to advanced, including those with limited mobility, to travel the trails. Revolution Cycle offers “pedelec” (electric bicycle) tours during the warmer months. These bikes use motors to assist with pedalling, which is handy for the uphill slogs. The two- and five-hour tours hit multiple points of interest in and around the River Valley. If history is more your niche, there’s a tour for that, too. Every day at the Legislature Building, you can join a guided tour to learn about Albertan history and politics. For those wanting to explore Edmonton’s settler history, make sure you take a tour of Fort Edmonton Park this summer, which is currently undergoing renovations, so many aspects of this tour will be unavailable. River Valley Adventure Co.: https://www.rivervalleyadventure.com/ Revolution Cycle: https://revolutioncycle.com/ .

Get Natural

Besides fresh air and great vistas, the River Valley is an obvious choice for viewing nature. The John Janzen Nature Centre is located by Fort Edmonton Park. It offers nature-themed programs and day camps for children. There are also two easy nature walks nearby that feature many native trees and shrubs. The Birch Tree Trail takes about 20 minutes, while the 3 km-long River Loop Trail encircles Fort Edmonton. For more of a wilderness feel, try the numerous ravines connected to the River Valley. Whitemud Creek Ravine is reported to have the highest diversity of plants and animals in the city, as there’s an old growth forest and over 150 species of birds. Mill Creek Ravine is easily accessible from Whyte Avenue; it’s a great place to birdwatch where you may just catch a glimpse of a boreal owl. .

Enjoy the Water

The North Saskatchewan River has always been an important feature of our city. For early settlers, it was the only mode of transportation for trade, making it Edmonton’s lifeline to the outside world. Now, you can rent a canoe or kayak and explore the Valley by water. And if you’re feeling ambitious, you can drive a watercraft of choice to the town of Devon and spend the day gently floating back home; just make sure you have a way to get back to your car afterwards. The river is also a great place for recreational fishing. With a valid licence, you can catch over eight species of fish in the river, though health advisories recommend against eating them. Want to catch your dinner? Head to Hermitage Park where you can cast your line into one of many stocked ponds. .

Head Down to the Beach

We’d be remiss not to mention that Edmonton now boasts its own beach—at least for the moment. The aptly, and popularly, named Accidental Beach took everyone by surprise in 2017, when it appeared near Cloverdale. Previously a sandbar, it emerged due to berms put in place for construction of the Tawatina LRT Bridge. Edmontonians quickly fell in love with it and hope it’ll become a permanent fixture. Admittedly though, its future is up in the air. Rising water levels, the removal of the berms in 2019/2020, and municipal regulations threaten its existence. In the meantime, if you choose to visit Accidental Beach this summer, consider taking public transit to cut down on the area’s traffic congestion. And always take out what you take in—including garbage. [post_title] => River Valley Fun [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => river-valley-fun [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-05-31 19:35:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-06-01 01:35:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.summercity.ca/?p=8986 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [_excerpt] => Exploring our ribbon of green The nation’s largest expanse of urban parkland lies right here in Edmonton. The River Valley parks form an unbroken “ribbon of green,” stretching 48 km and covering 18,000 acres. The River Valley provides Edmontonians with an array of activities and events, especially during the summer months. Here’s what the River … ) 1

TIPS FOR RENTING A VEHICLE


Vacations should be relaxing, but they can get pretty stressful when you’re spending too much of your holiday checking bus schedules or flagging down expensive cabs. The solution: renting your own set of wheels. But before you hop into any car on the lot, check out these tips for getting the most out of your …Read More
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Vacations should be relaxing, but they can get pretty stressful when you’re spending too much of your holiday checking bus schedules or flagging down expensive cabs. The solution: renting your own set of wheels. But before you hop into any car on the lot, check out these tips for getting the most out of your rental.

Find the Rental Deals

There are dozens of rental agencies littered all around most airports of the world. But the first agency you come across will rarely offer the best deals, and what you gain in convenience is often reflected in the price. If you’re looking to save some money, consider taking a shuttle bus or a taxi to the city’s core, and do some shopping around.

Once you’ve found a suitable price, do a quick Internet search for the rental company in question. Pair this search with words like “promotion,” “offer code” or “coupon.” You’ll be surprised how many additional discounts are available through online promotions.

Get to Know Your Vehicle

A lot of rental cars will come with bumps and scratches from previous excursions. To avoid being accountable for these damages, make sure to perform your own inspection of the car before you drive it off the lot. Take note of any dents, scratches, engine trouble or anything else that just seems off. Then mention it. Document any discrepancies with your camera, and alert the agent who is carrying out your transaction. Whether it’s an honest oversight or a blatant scam, a quick survey of your vehicle will prevent a lot of unwanted rental headaches.

Be Insurance Savvy

You’re not obligated to buy insurance from the rental company, but most will offer you car insurance, and some will even pressure you to buy it. So do your research before you agree to any additional fees. If you’re already paying insurance for your own vehicle, it’s likely that your coverage extends to rentals of a similar vehicle type. If you’re unsure, call your insurance company to find out exactly what coverage you’re already paying for, and ask if it might be a good idea to agree to the additional fees.

Understand Your Contract

Are you allowed to take your rental car onto unpaved roads? Do you have a maximum kilometre limit? Is your rental one-way, or do you have to return it to the same agency from which you borrowed it? These are all important details that will be outlined in the fine print of your contract, so make sure to read it fully before you sign. Don’t hesitate to ask the rental agent for clarification on any confusing points.

Investigate the World of Car Sharing

If you’re planning on spending your trip in one city, you might want to consider a short-time subscription to a car-sharing service. Each service differs slightly, but standard practice has you paying based on your total distance travelled. Car shares can often be more convenient, cheaper and use subscriptions rather than contracts, so you’ll pay for only as much time as you use. The only major downside is that car shares restrict their users to travel within specific cities, so if you’re planning a road trip, it’s often better to stick to traditional rental models.  t8n

Did You Know?

In Canada, we’re familiar with minimum age requirements when it comes to car rentals. But in many countries, rental agencies impose maximum age limits, meaning that seniors and teens find themselves in the same boat when trying to rent a car.

Fun Fact

A 2014 survey found that car-share services in Canada own a total of 5000 vehicles and serve over 289,000 users. That number has only grown.

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THE MODERN VACATION SLIDE SHOW


8 tips for sharing your adventures online Remember the seemingly endless slide shows your grandparents shared with family whenever they returned from their vacations? Thankfully, those days are gone. These days, it’s a lot easier and more entertaining to share your vacation adventures with friends, family—and even strangers—online. With a few simple tools and rules, …Read More
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8 tips for sharing your adventures online

Remember the seemingly endless slide shows your grandparents shared with family whenever they returned from their vacations? Thankfully, those days are gone. These days, it’s a lot easier and more entertaining to share your vacation adventures with friends, family—and even strangers—online. With a few simple tools and rules, you’ll be on your way to choosing the right platform and sharing the world as you see it. Here are 8 tips to get you started.

1. Decide Why You’re Sharing

Grandpa never intended to put everyone to sleep with his slides, but he did want to share his joy with you. Why do you want to share? Deciding will help determine what things to share (images, text, video), how often (daily, weekly) and how much (word count, video length, etc.). If medieval architecture is your passion, sharing pictures of old churches is probably appropriate. If your travel goal, however, is to share your perceptions of

Central American life, you’ll probably be better off writing about the people. Make a plan, and stick to it.

2. Know Your Audience

Who are you intending to share with? Family? Friends? Complete strangers? The Internet makes sharing with everyone easy, but you decide on your audience. If you’re posting just for friends, you can be more relaxed with your writing and editing. If, however, you want to appeal to a wider audience, consider a bit more care, and be aware of the dangers of oversharing. Remember, it’s almost impossible to delete anything once it’s online, and nothing is truly private. Always be circumspect about which details you put out there.

3. Choose a Platform

There are so many ways to share online (see sidebar). Some travellers like to blog during their trips, posting daily summaries so readers can follow along. Others prefer to share their special moments instantly on social media (Facebook, etc.) and let the audience knit together their own narrative. Video blogging (vlogging) is also popular and a great way to share “home movies.” Thanks to technology, creating a good-looking video is quite easy.

4. Know Your Timeline

Consider when you intend to post. Grandpa’s slideshow happened after the trip was over, but with social media, people can enjoy real-time updates. But that means you will likely just be sharing a short note or posting a quick picture. If you choose to write a more detailed blog or want to focus on vlogging, there will be a time gap before your audience enjoys it. Mixing real-time updates with a blog that is days or weeks behind can become quite confusing. Consistency is the key here.

5. Choose Your Tools

Travelling with a laptop can make some things easier, but isn’t the point of a vacation to get away from it all? However, with a little discipline, smartphones or tablets can be easy to use with the data functions turned off. And the cameras on newer phones are amazing at making it easy to post images. Of course, if photographs are your thing, a traditional camera is a must; just be aware that downloading and sharing those images will require more of your energy and your computer’s.

6. Make Notes

Even people with great memories need reminders. If you have a particularly poignant moment or learn something new and interesting, take a moment to jot it down. With the advent of smartphones, you can do this electronically, but also consider keeping an old-fashioned pen and notepad handy. Use the ubiquitous pile of brochures and tour maps to recall your day, too. Snapping a quick picture of a sign or location that you can erase later can also help keep your information organized.

7. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

If you are writing a blog, rely on pictures to show the things that defy description. Don’t post multiple images that might look alike to your viewers; try taking images of interesting things that also have family or fellow travellers in them. That way you get the best of both worlds. Remember, too, that some pictures need captions; don’t assume people will know what they’re looking at.

8. Stay Connected

Figuring out how you’ll get online is worth a bit of forethought. Smartphones generally have some sort of worldwide data roaming, but often with hefty cost. Thankfully, if you avoid uploading lots of pictures, updates shouldn’t use much of your allotment. To avoid using precious data, keep on the lookout for Internet cafés. For smaller updates, free Wi-Fi can often be found in restaurants, hotels and shops. Remember, it’s worth being extra cautious when using someone else’s Internet; take care not to leave any logons or passwords on the system.  t8n

Be Yourself!

Your voice is important. People will enjoy your adventure much more if you inject your personality into your shares. Make it about your unique perspective and you might meet people out there who like to see the world the way you do.

Platforms, Platforms, Everywhere Platforms

Looking for ways to share your adventure? You’ll find plenty.

Here are a few to get you started:

Blogs—generally more text based; open to everyone; will give you a domain like mytrip.blogspot.com or holidayinfrance.wordpress.org to share

blogspot.com, wordpress.com, tumblr.com

Vlogs—video-hosting sites; can be public or private

Check out Youtube.com, Vimeo.com

Social Media—generally require you to invite followers; can be public or private; simple image sharing, automatically resizes images for quick uploading

Check out facebook.com, twitter.com, instagram.com

Specialized Travel Sites—generally offer things like notifications, auto-mapping, help in planning your trip and sharing with like-minded travellers; free and paid versions

Check out travelpod.com, mytripjournal.com, travellerspoint.com, tripatlas.com

[post_title] => THE MODERN VACATION SLIDE SHOW [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-modern-vacation-slide-show [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-05-31 18:17:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-06-01 00:17:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.summercity.ca/?p=9289 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [_excerpt] => 8 tips for sharing your adventures online Remember the seemingly endless slide shows your grandparents shared with family whenever they returned from their vacations? Thankfully, those days are gone. These days, it’s a lot easier and more entertaining to share your vacation adventures with friends, family—and even strangers—online. With a few simple tools and rules, … ) 1