Weekend Reading: Vancouver Island Break Edition

Our kids’ activities wrapped up this weekend and now we’re inching ever so closer to summer vacation. Soon we’ll be heading out to Vancouver Island for 10 days of rejuvenation and exploration along the Pacific coast at the end (or the start) of the breathtaking West Coast Trail.

The trip will be a first for our family as our kids have never been on a plane. We thought we’d prepare them for our big trip to Ireland next year by taking a short flight from Calgary to Victoria (then renting a car for the 90-minute drive around to Port San Juan bay). They’re unbelievably excited, which of course adds to the overall enjoyment of the holiday. It should be a good one, and much needed after a long winter and busy spring.

I redeemed 60,000 Aeroplan miles to book the flights, forking over $600+ in fees and taxes for our flight reward. Booking the flights directly would have cost $1,780 for the four of us. That meant a return of about 1.9 cents per mile. Not the best value, but definitely worth it for our little family travel experiment. In comparison, I’m now looking at business class flights to Dublin and the return on those reward tickets is closer to 8 cents per mile.

While on Vancouver Island we’ll explore ancient forests, take some epic hikes, discover what lives inside of tide pools, eat fresh seafood, and simply relax and enjoy everything nature has to offer along the west coast. We can’t wait for summer break!

Fairy Lake Vancouver Island

This Week’s Recap:

This week I wrote about my disappointment with the Canadian Securities Administrators’ decision not to ban embedded commissions on mutual funds. While they did make some modest concessions to help protect investors, it was a missed opportunity for more substantial reform.

Over on the Toronto Star website I shared how to make your own financial plan in eight easy steps.

This past week I tried out two boutique fitness studios and I’ll breakdown the cost, experience, and sweat factor in my Toronto Star comparison column next week.

Promo of the Week:

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I’ve been a member since 2010 and have earned cash back rebates every month since January 2012.

Check out my review here.

Weekend Reading:

Rob Carrick on the CSA’s decision: It just became clear we’ll never see an investment industry where clients must come first.

General Electric was just booted from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, marking the first time in 110 years that the prestigious 30-stock index won’t include the iconic maker of light bulbs and engines.

Ben Carlson explains why the next bear market could be even more painful for many investors, even if it’s not of the same order of magnitude as the last crash.

Two surprising lessons from legendary short-seller Robert W. Wilson:

  1. The greatest short sellers barely break even.
  2. The primary goal of short selling should be to provide cash in a sell-off and let you “back up the truck” on your longs.

Here’s Morgan Housel on why long tail events drive everything:

“Losers keep losing because no one wants to be associated with losers, and winners keep winning because winning opens doors, and open doors beget more open doors.”

People are too nervous to pull the trigger and retire, but dying at your desk is not a retirement plan.

Jonathan Clements shares five uncomfortable realities about retirement. Because you will retire one day—and, if you want to spend your final decades in even moderate comfort, it won’t be cheap.

Mortgage expert Rob McLister says that as bond yields trend lower, variable rate mortgages are looking all the more attractive.

I love this video by Ben Felix in which he explains why housing is the best investment in history, but only on paper:

Rob Carrick asks whether your loved ones could figure out your finances if you died suddenly.

Michael James explains how governments and businesses take advantage of those who can’t or won’t do basic math.

How many ETFs are enough to make up a diversified portfolio? Mark Seed tackles a few reader questions on this subject.

Barry Choi talks about his accidental intentional lifestyle inflation during and after a trip overseas.

Aeroplan promises a transformed rewards program in 2020 (post Air Canada breakup), but experts are sceptical it will fly in an increasingly crowded market.

Finally, this Super Elite flyer claims Air Canada revoked his Altitude status after he refused to explain a last minute cancellation.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!

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  1. Andrew P on June 24, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Hello Robb….now retired in Ontario, snowbird to Mexico, however was born outside of Victoria, grew up on ‘the Island’.

    A couple of must ‘sees’ on your forthcoming exciting trip to Van. Isl.

    1. Must visit the Provincial Museum opposite the Parliament Buildings in Victoria…a one of a kind museum of BC history etc.

    2. Must visit Butchart Gardens…..busy tourist attraction, and almost an entire day visit, AGAIN one-of-a-kind

    3. As you head out of Victoria, up the Malahat Drive heading north to Nanaimo, and onwards to the West Coast (Tofino)….stop for the kids @ Coombs….the ‘goats on the roof’ tourist stop, the after that, Cathedral Grove where you must stop to visit the GIANT Douglas Fir trees….it’s a busy stop (every tourist bus stops as well)

    4. When in Tofino…best thing to do is ‘whale watching’…..some days are better that others, but the high-speed pontoon boat is worth the trip in itself !

    Well, there are LOTS to see and DO, and remember, on the West Coast it can be DAMP and WET….dress accordingly, extra shoes/socks etc. and SMILE 🙂

    • Robb Engen on June 24, 2018 at 11:48 am

      Hi Andrew, many thanks for the sight-seeing tips! My oldest daughter loves museums and she’ll be excited to hear about the provincial museum in Victoria.

      As for the wet, damp climate: noted! We’ll pack accordingly 🙂

  2. Lori on June 24, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Robb
    I live in Victoria so can answer any questions you may have. I second the Royal BC Museum – it is a great museum and they have a special exhibition on Egypt right now that I have heard is great.

    Port Refrew is about 2 hours from Victoria and very tiny. If you are doing an AirBnb I would suggest you do your grocery shopping in Victoria before you drive out to the coast. You will drive past lots of shopping on your way to Hwy 14.

    Need info? Just ask.

    • Robb Engen on June 26, 2018 at 9:17 pm

      Hi Lori, great info – thanks! Yes, we plan on doing a big grocery shop in Victoria before we head out to Port Renfrew. Appreciate it!

  3. Carly on June 24, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Robb! I actually just returned from Ireland yesterday (it rained the entire time on and off but was still amazing). I actually flew business class on the way there, Calgary to Toronto was economy and Toronto to Dublin was business class. It was amazing and so worth it, the flight leaves at 2300 so I was able to sleep for 4 hours and take on most of the day when I arrived. My mum flew to Heathrow instead and even though you do think it would be terrible to go through Heathrow she said it was incredibly smooth and easy, you don’t have to change terminals and it worked out well, you would get a chance to sleep for longer if you chose this route. On the way back we flew premium economy which I would highly recommend. In a lot of ways business class on the way back is not quite worth it because you leave early in the morning and travel during the day so actually for the best turn around to minimize jet lag it is best if you don’t sleep on the plane. You also don’t feel inclined to because you are traveling during the day. I would also recommend you check out the site seat guru which will help you choose the best seats on the plane (for example don’t choose the seats at the very front, the flight attendants hang out there and it can be very noisy and there is no seat in front of you to store any belongings). Just thought I would give you my two cents, you will absolutely have a blast!

    • Robb Engen on June 26, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      Hi Carly, amazing – thanks! I appreciate the tips on flying overseas and back. It’s a first for us, and travelling with the kids will be stressful enough so we’re looking forward to taking business class. Good point on the return flight and trying to minimize jet lag!

  4. Deborah S. on June 24, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    Be sure to pack layers for our “June-uary” weather, cool & damp! We’re in Nanaimo and stayed in Ucuelet last fall. Tofino is quite touristy and expensive, to our taste, but the Wild Pacific Trail and Ucuelet were great! See Long Beach at low tide and the old-growth forest of Cathedral Grove in Macmillan Provincial Park. Most of all, have fun!

    • Robb Engen on June 26, 2018 at 9:26 pm

      Hi Deborah, we’re crossing our fingers that it won’t be too rainy. So many Provincial Parks nearby – we’re excited to explore the area!

  5. Keith C. Cowan on June 24, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Go see Rathtrevor Beach at low tide. We are going again on Tuesday. So many places, so little time. The goats on the roof by Cathedral Grove. Fabulous Italian cuisine too.

    • Robb Engen on June 26, 2018 at 9:28 pm

      Hi Keith, we’ll be on the other side of the island (Port Renfrew) so we might not make it that way. You’re right, so many places to see in our short 10 night stay.

      • Keith C. Cowan on June 27, 2018 at 10:45 am

        We went to Qualicum Beach to have lunch with old friends yesterday. Oceanfront patio in the sun!

  6. fbgcai on June 25, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Robb,
    Like Carly above I was in Ireland recently – a wonderful place with one caveat – the car rental agencies are big time scammers – bummer way to start a trip if you are renting a car. Make sure you have made you reservations on the Irish website otherwise you may be forced to buy all the insurance from them at the counter (painfully expensive) especially be wary of using CDW coverage on your credit card (which I intended to use) because the security holdback can be obscene – they wanted 5000 Euro deposit! that would have blown my credit limit on the card I was using.
    Also most rental cars are manual- automatics are available but at a premium.
    Driving can also be a challenge in that anything that isn’t a motorway (divided highway) can be very narrow and twisty with crazy speed limits – I remember one road which was about 15 feet wide for 2 lanes (ie. each lane was 7.5 feet wide) with stone walls either side (no shoulder) and zoned at 100 kph(!) with tour bus and lorry (semi-truck) traffic). And they drive on the left so car controls are on the right hand side of the car.
    All that said our trip was excellent if pricey – things cost approximately the same in euros/pounds as things cost here in CAD eg. gas (petrol) was 1.40 euro/litre vs 1.35/liter in Ontario – budget accordingly 🙂
    Enjoy the trip – contact me if you have any specific questions.

    • Robb Engen on June 26, 2018 at 9:34 pm

      Hi fbgcai – Ahh, yes, I’m a bit nervous about driving over there for all the reasons you mentioned. We were thinking about flying into Dublin and then taking the train to Kilkenny. We can rent a car there and get out of the big city.

      Pricey trip but it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Plus, by flying on points we’ll be saving a few thousand dollars right there and can up the budget in other areas.

      Many thanks for sharing your experience!

      • fbgcai on June 27, 2018 at 9:10 pm

        Hi Robb,
        Actually getting out of Dublin airport is some of the easiest driving in Ireland since it is access approaches are all motorways and very well signed – you can completely avoid any ‘big city traffic’ using the ring road around Dublin. I would think the hassle of getting a family of four to the train station from the airport would be greater than driving out of the airport – just my .02 🙂
        You may also want to download google maps for offline use or stop in a Tesco supermarket and pick up a 15 euro SIM card (make sure your phone is unlocked) which will give you 10 Gb of data and unlimited calls/text for 30 days – not a bad deal .

  7. Eric Bowlin on June 25, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Really interesting break down about short selling. I really like how he said that short selling is just to provide cash to back up your long positions. Gonna have to read that!

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