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Aventura Travel Diaries - Wanderlust: the allure of travel
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Wanderlust: the allure of travel

Dominique Baker knows that the secret ingredient for every great travel adventure is her CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege Card. An Ottawa-based civil servant by day and a fashion and travel blogger by night, Baker makes sure the first thing she packs is the card with the most luxurious package of travel-oriented benefits and rewards.

An avid and experienced world traveller, Baker plans romantic getaways with her husband, Ryan, who is also a civil servant. Baker chronicles their adventures on her four-year-old blog, Style Domination, her Instagram feed @Dominique.Baker, and her YouTube channel.

Far from prescribing “what’s in and what’s out,” Baker says, “I write as though I’m speaking to a friend.” Readers seem to relate to her warm approachability. “I try to keep it real, and right from the heart,” says Baker, who is in her early 40s.

Based on the messages she gets from around the world, Baker says her readers tend to be much like her, in terms of loving style but not taking it – or themselves – too seriously.

A frequent presence on Baker’s social media is her puppy, Reece. “I’m in love with him. He looks like a peanut butter cup!”

Although he hasn’t yet accompanied Baker on her globetrotting adventures, he may in the future.

“I want to travel with my pup more, and I’m thrilled to see that more hotels are becoming pet-friendly,” she says, adding that on a recent trip to Chicago, she even spotted a couple of pet spas. Baker will also be sure to travel with her Visa Infinite Privilege Card, “something I’ve been waiting a long time for," she says, adding that she is happy to share her research on the card with her followers.

New York getaway

Baker and her husband arrived in New York City just in time to watch the tree in the Rockefeller Centre being decorated. “We took in the holiday-themed windows at Saks Fifth Avenue,” she says, “ and made our way over to the Oculus, which is a sight to behold, and then for a long walk through Central Park.” The park was a bucket-list item for Baker.

As a gift for their 15th wedding anniversary, Baker arranged to take Ryan to a basketball game. “It was a blast!” she says. “My heart was full seeing him have so much fun.” Afterwards, they headed to The Iridium, the renowned music venue at Times Square. “It has a warm and inviting atmosphere and awesome acoustics. No matter where you sat, you had a perfect view of the stage. The band was incredible. We left on a music high!”

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There was more serendipity to follow, later that night. “We walked by the New York Beer Company and heard a big soulful voice singing jazz covers of Christmas songs. My husband was really excited at the extensive beer menu! The lead singer was fantastic – so petite, but with a huge voice!”

Baker capped off her cultural explorations the next day with a fashion pilgrimage to the Costume Institute Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On her way out of town, she was able to unwind, pre-flight, at the airport business lounge, one of the perks of her Visa Infinite Privilege Card. “This is the first time I’ve had access to a lounge,” she says. “It’s definitely going to become a ritual. It is so luxurious to decompress before boarding.”

Itinerary flex

Planning ahead is Baker’s golden travel rule to set the stage for any fabulous trip, but tuck the itinerary away for a bit, she says, and just explore.

“Elevated travel to me doesn’t necessarily mean ‘all luxe, all the time,’” she says. “It’s more about travelling in comfort and travelling on my terms without a crammed itinerary.”

When it comes to researching where to go and what to do, the Visa Infinite Privilege Card offers a handy perk.

“The travel assistant is helpful,” she says, “with recommendations for places to go for any city you’re visiting. We enjoy dining out, so having the restaurant and bars recommendations was a nice, luxury touch.”

Leaving room for magic to happen is Baker’s top travel tip. “One of the best memories ever was deciding to go to the Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas for a margarita only to discover that Tedeschi Trucks Band was playing that night. We got tickets and it was the best concert ever…in the middle of the coolest bowling alley you’ve ever seen.”

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The art of packing

So how does a dedicated follower of fashion get her packing list down for a dreamy romantic NYC weekend? “Two birthdays ago,” says Baker, “I found a vintage Louis Vuitton bag that is the perfect carry-on size, and I treated myself. I also have a cashmere scarf that doubles as a blanket and a pair of cashmere socks that are super-cozy to wear in the hotel room when I’m reading and just relaxing.”

Baker’s mini suitcase for the plane carries the essentials that prepare her for anything: lip balm, hand cream, antibacterial gel, a phone charger, a mirrorless camera, a new magazine for the flight and noise-cancelling headphones “to drown out engine noise.”

Dressing up on the road is a big part of her experience, so she tries to not be restrictive with her wardrobe. Unlike many travel gurus, who are strict about a “carry-on only,” Baker always opts for a checked bag.

CIBC Aventura Visa
Infinite Privilege benefits

Use your earned Aventura points towards a business class flight.

Annual $200 credit on any travel booked with the Aventura Travel Centre.

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Double points on every dollar spent, and up to 50K welcome bonus points.

A new world view

Baker believes that learning about different cultures, meeting new people and immersing oneself in local practices informs a better understanding of the world. “It’s enriching; it makes you a well-rounded, happier individual.”

“After visiting Peru and seeing how little some of the locals had, but yet how happy they seemed, was completely uplifting and gave me a fresh perspective,” Baker recalls.

That realization had a lasting effect. “Upon returning, I started getting involved with local charities. It made me see the importance of giving back.”

Meaningful travel

“I embrace the move towards eco-conscious travel and visiting ‘second cities’ to try to reduce over-tourism. We plan our trips based on where we want to go and what we want to see, but I definitely keep my eye on what’s ‘hot’ though. For instance, I’m not a camper, but glamping turned out to be awesome!”

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Baker's wish list

The Maldives is top of Baker’s bucket list. “It looks like a true tropical paradise,” she says, “with excellent snorkeling and diving.” Her fantasy, she says, involves a splurge on spa time. “It also offers world-class pampering – especially at the Kuda Huraa Spa at The Four Seasons, which features transparent floor panels in the treatment rooms so that you can see the marine life in the ocean. I would also like to see the bioluminescent plankton in the Indian Ocean at night. It’s supposed to be magical!”

Adding up miles with the Visa Infinite Privilege Card also appeals to Baker’s personal sense of luxury. “Earning two times the amount of points per dollar spent at eligible places is very exciting. I racked up quite a few points on the New York trip. I also love that I can use points to pay off a balance or buy things I really want.” The points Baker earns on the card will go towards her bucket-list dreams and allow her to indulge in luxurious spa days.

Notable mementoes

“I bought a gold cartouche necklace in Cairo that I treasure and wear frequently,” Baker says. “On our way back from Machu Picchu, I bought a hand-knit alpaca sweater that I wear constantly in the winter. Our five-foot-long digeridoo from Cairns, Australia, is a real conversation starter too.”

CREDITS: Photography by BRODY WHITE; Editing by ELIZABETH HOLLAND; Creative direction by MELISSA MENDES; Design and development by JEANINE BRITO

This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's Globe Content Studio.
The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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