Travel Advice

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Unique Hotels from Around the World

Pertussis - have you received your booster?

Sleeping Outside of the Box – Unique Hotels from Around the World

Every summer, my dad would get his green Ford Econoline Van ready for our family’s month-long road trip through the United States. Part of the fun of these trips was avoiding the freeways, and, instead, opting for the smaller highways and backroads. This was back in the early 80’s; a time before Walmart descended into small-town America and the corporate homogenization process began to transform and conform the landscape.

I have many indelible memories of stopping at the various motels and hotels after a long day’s drive. Each edifice was wonderfully unique, imaginative, whimsical and playful.

To be clear, we’re not talking about 5-star establishments, but what these places lacked in sophistication, they more than made up for in originality and non-conformity! I miss those days, and sadly, many of these mom and pop operations have long since shut their doors. However, there seems to be a resurgence of unique hotels and lodging, as many people are tiring of the standard issue hotels, which lack a sense of fun and adventure.


Some Unique Picks

Part of the fun of traveling is not only where you go, but where you stay! With this in mind, we’ve curated a list of amazing one-of-a-kind hotels that you’re sure to want to check off your travel bucket list! Some are high-end and some are budget-friendly, but all of them are worth visiting!


The Manta Resort, Pemba Island, Tanzania

Our first selection takes us the farthest from Vancouver! This resort has an Underwater Room! It’s a three-level floating structure. You can dive into the perfect azure water from the roof of the building, or relax in the below-sea-level bedroom, where you’ll encounter a wide array of sea-life, such as Trumpet Fish and octopus! Let’s just say, if you stay at the Manta Resort, you’ll always rememba’ Pemba!


Book and Bed, Tokyo, Japan

This hostel in Tokyo is about as different as you can get from The Manta Resort! It’s literally a book lover’s heaven! Instead of having your own private room, guests sleep in cozy little cubbies hidden behind bookshelves. While it may not be luxurious or upscale, lacking the comforts of a higher-end hotel, it is a great place to meet fellow bookworms and have a truly unique experience! Imagine sleeping overnight in a funky used bookstore! While staying at this hostel, you’ll have the chance to read many stories, and leave having a few of our own to tell! If you’re planning on visiting Tokyo and reading is your thing, you’ll want to “book” this hostel for sure!


Hotel Costa Verde, Costa Rica

Staying at this hotel will have you flying high! Guests of this wonderfully original hotel can stay the night in a refurbished and repurposed 1965 Boeing 727, that now serves as a luxury two-bedroom guesthouse. The converted 727 boasts both jungle and ocean views, and rests on  50-foot-tall supports, giving the impression that the plane is about to take off into the sky! You’ll be comfortable in the plane, as it’s air-conditioned and each room has its own bathroom! If you love aviation, or just love unique spaces, this should be on your list!


Skip the Generic

The next time you’re planning a trip, you may want to skip the generic chains, and opt, instead, for something a little more interesting! It’s a great way to create lasting memories and also up your Instagram game!

by Kristin Gagnon, RN Kristin Gagnon, RN No Comments

Measles and the International Traveller – latest from TravelSafe Immunization Clinic

Measles and the International Traveller - latest from TravelSafe Immunization ClinicMeasles and the International Traveller

Measles is a highly contagious disease spread by a virus easily transmitted through the air. It was once a common disease in Canada during childhood. Before the introduction of the measles vaccine the disease caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths worldwide, and was a significant cause of disability.

Measles is still common in many developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia. Outbreaks continue to occur worldwide. Current outbreaks include Mauritius, Mali, Uganda, Russia, Spain, New Zealand, Colombia, Czech Republic, Taiwan, Japan, Belarus, Liberia, Kosovo, Syria, Italy, Brazil, Ireland, Philippines, United Kingdom, and France to name a few. You don’t need to be traveling to a developing country to be at risk for measles!

Symptoms of measles begin 7-21 days after being exposed and can include high fever, rash, cold-like symptoms and red, inflamed eyes. Complications of measles can include diarrhea, ear infection, pneumonia, and encephalitis (swelling of the brain that can lead to seizures, deafness, or permanent brain damage). There is no cure for measles; treatment is only supportive. About 1 in 3000 people with measles will die from complications.


The efforts toward the elimination of measles in Canada

A single dose of the measles vaccine has been recommended in Canada for infants at 12 months of age since 1970. Between 1996-1998 a 2-dose vaccine program was implemented, and a second dose was then given to children and adolescents previously vaccinated under the 1-dose program. Receiving two doses of the measles vaccine is more than 99% effective to protect against measles, compared to 93% after one dose. However, some people missed out on this second dose of measles vaccine and as a result could still be susceptible to measles. In BC children currently receive their first dose of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine at 12 months of age, and a second dose between 4-6 years of age.

In 1992 Canada set a goal to eliminate measles by 2005. Although elimination usually implies a total absence of cases, this is not possible as importations can still occur from countries with less control over measles. Elimination of measles in Canada was therefore defined as the interruption of endemic measles transmission for at least 1 year, and failure to reestablish endemic transmission after importation (endemic refers to a disease that is regularly found among a particular population or certain area). The goal of measles elimination was achieved in Canada in 1998.

Despite Canada’s efforts to maintain elimination, there continues to be outbreaks of measles throughout the country. The 2011 outbreak of 725 reported cases in Quebec was the highest number of cases since 1995. There was also a large outbreak in 2014 in B.C.’s Fraser Valley with 433 reported cases. There have also been other outbreaks in various regions in Canada.


So why are there still measles outbreaks after it was eliminated in 1998?

There continues to be measles outbreaks in Canada mainly due to cases imported from international travellers who acquire the disease abroad which can then be spread to unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals. In recent years Canada has experienced falling vaccination rates due to a number of reasons including anti-vaccine views and incompletely immunized individuals. The vaccine coverage rate in Canada is close to 90% but it needs 93-95% to protect the population against measles.


International travel and the MMR vaccine

The measles vaccine is available only in combination with mumps and rubella (MMR vaccine). The best way to prevent the spread of measles and importing it to Canada is to ensure you are properly immunized before international travel, even to industrialized countries. Travellers should receive the vaccine according to the following guidelines:

  • Infants between the ages of 6-11 months should receive 1 dose of MMR. Infants who received the vaccine before 12 months of age must be revaccinated according to the routine schedule (dose #1 at 12 months of age; dose #2 at 4-6 years of age).
  • Children 12 months of age and older should receive 2 doses of MMR separated by at least 28 days.
  • Adults born after 1970 (1957 for health care workers) should receive 2 doses of MMR separated by at least 28 days (individuals born prior to 1957 are assumed immune to measles from natural infection). Those born between 1957 and 1970 are generally assumed to have acquired immunity from natural infection, however those without documentation of 2 doses of measles vaccine, or those who do not self-identify as having had the disease may be susceptible and should receive 1 dose of MMR.


Vaccine Safety

Common reactions to the MMR vaccine include redness, tenderness and swelling at the injection site. A mild fever, rash, or swelling of the glands in the cheeks or neck can occur about 7-12 days after receiving the vaccine. Temporary joint pain may also occur in teenage and adult women.

A published report linking the MMR vaccine to autism has never been replicated by any other study. The report has been widely discredited and has been retracted by the journal.

There are some people who should not get the MMR vaccine including individuals who:

  • Have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the MMR vaccine or any vaccine component
  • Are severely immunosupressed
  • Are pregnant or planning pregnancy (women should avoid pregnancy for 1 month after receiving the MMR vaccine)
  • Have had a blood transfusion or received other blood products in the last 12 months
  • Have had a drop in platelets after a previous dose of MMR

There is no need to delay the MMR vaccine if you have a cold or another mild illness.


Getting ready to travel?

There is an estimated 20 million people infected globally each year with measles, so travellers may be exposed to the virus in almost any country they visit. As an international traveler it is important to ensure your MMR vaccines are up to date. Protect yourself against measles and ensure you do not become an importer of the disease!

Don’t delay! If you are traveling soon make your appointment today!



Before you travel, protect your health.

Travel Safely with TravelSafe Immunization Clinic