Category Archives: TEDActive Projects 2011

WHISTLER-BOUND FOR TEDACTIVE! Travel hacking tips from 2015 Host Leigh Rowan

In little under a month, we’re all gathering for one of the best weeks of our lives: TEDActive! In advance of that, I thought I’d share some travel hacking tips and tricks to making your arrival into Whistler a fun, inexpensive and engaging journey.

Flights to Vancouver (YVR) cost a lot – save money by flying to Bellingham or Seattle!

That’s right – due to some pesky international taxes, flights into the closest major international airport to Whistler (which is YVR) can sometimes be $140-$250 more than comparable flights to Seattle (SEA) or Bellingham (BLI). Using one of my favorite travel search engines, Google Flights, I was able to find flights from LAX-BLI for $224 roundtrip for TEDActive dates. The cheapest flights I saw for those same dates into Vancouver were nearly $120 more!

Takeaway: before booking flights into Vancouver, check alternate (close by) airports to see if you can save some dough.

Global Entry and Nexus: Your key to an easy border experience

A lot of hassle can be saved with these two handy travel tools. Though you may not be able to get it in time for TEDActive, if you’re a US Citizen and a frequent international traveler, read up on Global Entry (and its associated TSA Pre-Check benefit) and how to cut the line at Customs and Immigration on the way back into the United States — it’s an incredible time saving tool. Bonus perk: a lot of credit cards offer waived Global Entry application fees, so check with your card issuer to see if that applies to you!

Nexus is just like Global Entry, but it’s for folks heading into Canada. If you love our TED host country as much as I do, you’ll think about getting this to avoid the long Canadian Immigration lines, as well!

Takeaways: save time at the border with these five-year border fast passes!

You’re in Canada….but still two hours from Whistler

Though they make it look close on a map, your first port of entry into Canada through the Great White North and Whistler are not actually that close. Whistler is two hours from Vancouver by a scenic mountain road. There are a few creative ways of getting there with or without your own wheels, including:

Takeaways: however you choose to arrive, be sure to book in advance and bring a credit card with no foreign transaction fee (see below) to pay for it!

Paying in loonies, toonies, and plastic

Unless you’re one of the approximately 30 million folks lucky enough to call themselves Canadians, you’re going to be paying for the few things you buy in British Columbia in Canadian dollars. As of today, the one Canadian dollar is about $0.80 US cents, meaning that you can purchase a $10 CAD pint of Okanagan Spring Pale Ale for $8 USD. Not too terrible. Here’s the kicker: unless you’re paying in cash, your credit card company may be charging you a nasty two to five percent foreign transaction fee, which can quickly add up. Take a few minutes to learn about credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees as well as how to avoid ATM withdrawal fees overseas.

Takeaways: cash is always king (and easiest to use — it’s accepted everywhere), but your cards will work well too. Just make sure you’re not paying too many fees when paying with plastic!

Hotels abound in bountiful Whistler

Be sure to get the best possible perks out of your hotel stay at TEDActive. If you booked at the Hilton or Westin, two of the official TEDActive properties, be sure to add your HiltonHHonors or Starwood Preferred Guest, respectively, loyalty number to your reservation. That’ll ensure that you get the maximum points towards things like status and free future stays!  And, if you have elite status with either hotel, you could be getting extra perks like more points, free breakfast, or even room upgrades.

For hotels that don’t have a loyalty program attached (I’m looking at you, Aava, Crystal and Pinnacle), you can sometimes get better rates by booking via online portals like or Orbitz (plus, you can earn valuable rewards credits through both).

Takeaways: be sure that you’re getting return on the money you’re spending to sleep at night. Whether hotel points or credits for future stays, remember to claim those available perks!

Leigh Rowan is a long-time TEDActive Veteran (he’s been to every TEDActive but one!) and COO of, a website dedicated to maximizing travel experiences. He’s a self-fashioned travel hacker, and today he’s offered to share some handy TEDActive travel tips to make your trip to Whistler an amazing one!

Public HeART felt

We brought our hearts together at TEDActive and publically peaced our lost with found.

Some pinned their heart to red felt, remembering lost loved ones.

Charlotte’s hand made stencils of Amy’s hands, and hands on hearts on tees…

quickly made new friends, and found their way to the TEDActive stage;

where our public heART throb, miss amy kr, lifted our hearts with this sweet farewell:

TEDActive 2011 farewell video: March Forth! from Amy Krouse Rosenthal on Vimeo.

Photo credit: Michael Brands for TED

Social Up: First efforts

Public (not social) transport

Two weeks after our goodbye at TEDActive and our plans to social up our mobility, I wanted to share my efforts so far:

As I was leaving Palm Springs towards LAX I posted an update on Facebook to offer a ride to anybody going my way. Gerardo Betancourt was on his way to LA with a bus, but we missed each other by just a few minutes. Learning: next time I should post my moves earlier.

On my way to London, I managed to sleep for 9 hours straight… the joys of a very intense week! As the plane was landing, I started chatting with a film director from New Zealand next to me, and we ended up sharing a cab to east London. Good one.

On my way to Paris in the Eurostar, I met a chatty Italian lawyer working in the city. Enjoyed a great football chat and ended up exchanging cards. You never know when you need a lawyer I guess. Good one, again!

Finally, as I was going to the airport to pick up my girlfriend last Saturday, I suffered all sorts of delays typical of public transport during weekends in London. For the next airport pickup, I checked Whipcar, the neighbour-to-neighbour car sharing site and there’s a lady close to home who owns a Peugeot 207 that I can borrow 4 hours for £20… Cheaper and more reliable. Good learning.

Still, I haven’t managed to have a chat with my neighbours (after 6 months, it feels a bit wierd to knock the door with a tortilla de patatas to say hello), nor succeeded to chat with anybody in the Tube, or the Bus (Londoners enter in trance when they walk in public transport..). Those will be my challenges for the next two weeks.

best wishes, Luis