Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Time to start thinking about a winter trip

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Booking patterns are changing rapidly.

With the Labour Day weekend upon us, it is that time of year when you must start considering winter vacation destinations.

As a result, readers' questions take a different direction.

Question: In addition to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., someone said a new non-stop option to Mexico is opening up for Winnipeggers.

Where is it?

Answer: Over the years, other tour operators have offered Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa as a non-stop destination from Winnipeg, and then chose to drop the service for any number of reasons.

Sunwing Vacations has seen fit to reintroduce flights to this destination. I am convinced it will be very successful.

Ixtapa receives positive reviews from those who vacation there. It is too small to be big and too big to be small, which makes it a perfect choice for many who want the mix of quiet with some attractive activity options.

I will write more about the destination in future columns.

Question: We are in the planning process for our trip to Machu Picchu in Peru. I understand altitude sickness is common for people visiting the region.

Is there anything we can do to help prevent this?

Answer: For those of us who reside close to sea level, once we travel 2,500 metres or higher, altitude sickness can occur easily.

The most noticeable symptoms are fatigue, headache and nausea.

Those with heart or lung disease will be more susceptible to the effects of the change in air at the higher levels.

When I made my visit to Machu Picchu several years ago, with the usual stop in Cusco, I really felt the effects. I had to rest frequently during any walk, and it took some time to get used to this.

That is why it is often recommended travellers stay two or three days in Cusco before beginning the journey to Machu Picchu.

Sanofi Pasteur, the company that supplies so many of the travel vaccinations to travel health clinics, encourages travellers to take it easy for a day or two after you land in your destination.

They suggest you stay warm and to drink extra fluids than you would normally consume. Interestingly, even though headaches are one of the symptoms, they recommend remedies such as aspirin be avoided.

They also don't encourage the use of sedatives, codeine or alcohol.

When I was there the hotels and restaurants offered coco tea, which was supposed to help. It is drawn from the leaves of the coca plant, commonly found in most of South America. Because the plant contains alkaloids, which are the source for the drug cocaine when chemically extracted, the tea is illegal in North America.

I can't say for certain whether it helped, but I was ready to do anything to ease the fatigue and weakness.

Despite that, the visit to Machu Picchu was one of my most memorable of all the places I have visited.

I strongly recommend the destination, and by adopting some of these precautions, your trip should be worry-free. And you too will return almost transformed by the experience of sitting on a mountain with an ancient city below you and nothing but mountain peaks surrounding you.

Forward your travel questions to Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on or read Ron's travel blog at

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 21, 2014 E3

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