Q: Is there a quick way to find details on family friendly ski resorts across Vermont? We're also wondering if there are any direct flights from Toronto?
-- R. Kazi, Brampton
A: The Vermont Ski Areas Association (SkiVermont.com) maintains a directory of more than 25 properties that provides details on the latest deals at member resorts. Many of these are geared to families.
Mt. Mansfield -- the state's highest point at 1,339 metres -- is home to several ski resorts, including Smuggler's Notch (smuggs.com), which is very popular with families. Other lofty peaks include Killington (1,293 metres), home to family favourite Pico Mountain resort (picomountain.com), which first opened its doors in 1937.
Smuggler's Notch has a long list of family friendly activities. Here's a quick list:
-- At the Sir Henry's Learning area, children can learn to snowboard in a new play area with fun terrain features. The main attraction is a "treehouse" -- really an elevated platform with ramps that kids can ride up and down. The treehouse also has a swinging lift chair to help kids practice getting on and off ski lifts.
-- Thrills can also be had on an ArborTrek canopy tour, a year-round zip-lining obstacle course where kids and parents criss-cross a suspension bridge and rappel in trees. The views are reportedly awesome!
-- Club Smugglers offers base packages from $89 per youth/$119 per adult per night for two-to-four-night stays. Packages include on-slope instruction, mountainside condo lodging, lift tickets, snow tubing, ice skating, use of the indoor pool and hot tub, Nordic and snowshoe terrain, an indoor FunZone and more.
-- Additional specials can be found at smuggs.com/vacation-values.
Local resorts also know the value of attracting first-time visitors and new skiers, so Ski Vermont offers "Learn-To" deals and other incentives all through January. These include a day-long program on either snowshoeing or Nordic skiing scheduled for Jan. 7.
Taking a winter holiday in Vermont is hassle-free since Porter Airlines started seasonal scheduled nonstop service between Toronto and Burlington, Vt., on Dec. 15. There are two flights a week, on Thursdays and Sundays (changing to Mondays on long weekends), through April 8 with one-way fares starting at $99, plus fees and taxes.
Q: When are the post holiday sales in Paris?
-- G. Nagy, Mississauga
A: Considered the capital of shopping, the city's annual winter sales (look for "soldes" signs in shop windows) will take place from Jan. 11 to Feb. 14. The France Tourism Development Agency, ATOUT France, says visitors can also enjoy a variety of discounts during this time -- up to 50% off at participating hotels, up to 20% off at restaurants, and a price break on the popular Paris Museum Pass. The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau has even designed shopping itineraries for different styles. This year's themes are Bobo Chic, Trendy, Select, Ethical Ethnic and Creative. See shoppingbyparis.com.
Q: I recently read about a woman who gave birth aboard an airplane. Are there rules for a pregnant woman flying near her due date?
-- N. Thai, Etobicoke
A: According to Foreign Affairs Canada's publication Her Own Way: A Woman's Safe Travel Guide, Canadian airlines allows pregnant women to fly until the 35th week of pregnancy, provided they are healthy and have no history of premature labour.
"Regulations vary abroad. You may need a letter from your doctor verifying the stage of your pregnancy," the publication says.
The World Health Organization's position is: "Pregnant women can normally travel safely by air, but most airlines restrict travel in late pregnancy."
Typical guidelines for a woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy are:
-- After the 28th week of pregnancy, a letter from a doctor or midwife should be carried, confirming the expected delivery date and that the pregnancy is normal.
-- For single fetuses, flying is permitted up to the end of the 36th week.
-- For multiple fetuses, flying is permitted up to the end of the 32nd week.
The case you cite involved a woman aboard an Air India flight. According to a report in the Times of India (TOI), the woman was in her 32nd week.
A free copy of Her Own Way is available for download at their website.
Q: I am flying to South Africa and wondering if the aircraft be sprayed?
-- A. McGregor, Newmarket
A: Many flights heading to South Africa make a refueling and passenger pick-up stop in Dakar, Senegal, where a disinfectant is used before the flight continues on.
I was on a flight recently that underwent this procedure, which is required by South African regulation. Usually this is done by either spraying the aircraft cabin with an aerosol insecticide while passengers are on board, or treating the aircraft interior surfaces with a residual insecticide while passengers are not on board.
In its "International Health 2010" study, the World Health Organization reports many countries require aircraft disinfection to prevent diseases spread by insects, such as malaria and yellow fever.
"There have been a number of cases of malaria affecting individuals who live or work in the vicinity of airports in countries where malaria is not present, which is thought to be due to the escape of malaria-carrying mosquitoes transported on aircraft ..."
Some people have reported feeling ill after spraying but WHO reports it "has found no evidence that the specified insecticide sprays are harmful to human health when used as recommended."
Transport Canada has compiled a list of countries where disinfection procedures are followed. For details on whether your flight will undergo disinfection, check with your travel agent or airline reservations agent when booking.
Q: Is it difficult to get to the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver?
-- H. Bradshaw, Toronto
A: It's easy to reach MOA, which is on the University of British Columbia campus. Some 10 Vancouver transit bus routes will take you to UBC, including No. 4, No. 9, No. 17 and No. 25. If travelling by Skytrain, get off at Broadway Station and transfer onto the No. 99 B-Line bus to UBC.
While there, check out the museum's most famous sculpture, Bill Reid's The Raven and the First Men. The fabulous piece is mounted atop an old gun emplacement, which was built during the Second World War. Museum staff say when the museum was designed, architect Arthur Erickson wanted to preserve the history and included this heritage piece in his plans.
MOA staff say the No. 1 question they get asked is how to get to Wreck Beach -- the nudist beach 1 km from the museum. For more on the museum, see moa.ubc.ca.
Q: Besides the winter carnival, what else is happening in Quebec City this winter?
-- J. Thakur, Brampton
A: The Quebec City Winter Pentathlon (Pentathlondesneiges.com) will take place Jan. 28 to Feb. 26. This multi-sport tournament has been rated "best new event in Canada" by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance. More than 3,000 participants will take place in relays and solo competitions. Races will be held near the Plains of Abraham, which has some fun tours such as a 1.5-hour Snowshoer's Walk highlighting the history of snowshoeing and the joys of the Belle Epoque era.
"Each tourist will wear traditional snowshoes made of moose skin, wear a traditional belt and finish the tour with some hot chocolate," Plains of Abraham spokesman Benoit Gilbert says. Price is $17 per person. For details, see ccbn-nbc.gc.ca.
Another huge event is the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship, which takes place March 15-17. This crazy ice-cross downhill event pits the best ice-cross skaters against each other to become the world champion. A relatively new sport (it's been around for 10 years) it combines speed skating, boarder-cross and downhill skiing. Athletes from more than 30 countries are expected to compete. Organizers say athletes will race four abreast down a 350 metre-long course at speeds of up to 70 kph so expect plenty of adrenaline, bumps and crashes. For details, see redbullcrashedice.com.