Top Ten Pics of 2018

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last year exploring some more amazing places. From new year to the start of spring Matt and I enjoyed the winter wonderland of Halifax, Nova Scotia, taking in the lighthouses, lobster pots and crashing waves. Moving on to a road trip to Calgary where we spent the summer months exploring the Rocky Mountains some more. Before embarking on a two week holiday with my parents from Toronto round to Boston, Massachusetts.

As we’ve visited some of theses beautiful places we’ve been able to capture some of them on camera to share with you. Throughout the year my favourite snaps have made it onto the Instagram account. If you are not following already you should! Follow this link! There are many more Canadian favourites to share and I’ll be hoping to share more from upcoming trips.

But for now enjoy the top ten from 2018!

10. Autumn Leaves at Mont Royal Park, Montreal

Autumn was a beautiful time of year to visit one of the biggest urban parks in Canada, Mont Royal. With quite a lot of steps to tackle it was wonderful to stop ever now and then and take in all the wonderful colours the park had to offer in October.

9. Ski Fence, Calgary

I came across this fence in a local neighbourhood while pet sitting in Calgary during the summer. It has to be THE most Canadian fence in the whole country! The sweet little neighbourhood also boasted a very welcome retro ice cream store.

8. Lake Louise Shoreline, Banff

One of the many photos from our early rise to tackle the tea rooms and beehive hikes from Lake Louise. By the time we returned to the lake the sun was shining just perfectly along the shore.

7. Stampede, Calgary

At Calgary’s famous Stampede festival I had the opportunity to go inside this gorgeous home. It was a fascinating insight into a part of Canadian culture that is often brushed over. The Indian Village also boasted some very tasty bannock and Saskatoon berry jam!

6. We Can Do It! Mural, Sydney, Nova Scotia

Sydney was a bit of a dull stop on the cruise ship as our excursion got cancelled and we were unable to sign up to another one that interested us. So we opted to have a stroll around the town. It started off on the boring side but ended with a cluster of street murals which really brightened up a grey day. This one was one of my favourites… and one of yours too!

5. Puddle Hunting at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Catching reflections is always fun and Peggy’s Cove is full of little crevices that get filled up as the waves and tides change. There was a gorgeous blue sky on the day which just made the lighthouse stand out even more in this shot.

4. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

The longest hike we did throughout the entire two years in Canada was at Waterton Lakes. Voted one of the most thrilling hikes in the world by National Geographic, the Crypt Lake trail did not disappoint. Check out the stories section on my account to see what its all about.

3. Lake Louise Trails, Banff

Another time where the sun shone at just the right time. As we climbed this trail the sun was rising behind so I’m very glad I turned around to capture this moment.

2. Petit Champlain, Quebec City

Like a scene straight out of Beauty and the Beast Petit Champlain had such charm. In fact it was one of my Mum’s favourite places. But I did expect someone to start singing about provincial life at any point!

1. Stiperstones Nature Reserve, Shropshire

I was so surprised that this was my most liked photo of 2018. It’s not that it’s not a beautiful place it really is very stunning but I did expect a Canadian view to top the list. I hope to explore a lot more of Shropshire and the UK over the next year so I hope you enjoy them as much as this one.

Thank you all for your support over 2018, every like and comment is appreciated!!

If you are not following me on Instagram already you can here. There will be plenty of flashbacks to Canada as well as new adventures in 2019.

What is your favourite?? Do you have any recommendations for adventures in 2019? Please let me know in the comments. Happy New Year Everyone!

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How to be a GOOD Tourist

You’re on holiday, you want to have a fantastic time, see everything and do everything possible. But this urge sometimes leads tourists to push the boundaries. Ignoring a sign, jumping a fence or carving your name in a tree may seem like a small moment that provides you with the perfect holiday snap or story, however, these actions are having massive consequences.

Being a thoughtful tourist is becoming more and more important. Recently, a beautiful Sunflower Farm in Ontario closed down forever due to inconsiderate visitors. The sheer volume of traffic to the quiet town in Millgrove caused huge problems for residents with the local police having to control cars through the site. Furthermore, visitors would simply trespass from every corner onto the farm to get the perfect picture, not only is this illegal, it often damaged the flowers.

This story highlights perfectly why we should all try to be good tourists. By thinking before doing, we can preserve beautiful locations for everyone to enjoy and enjoy safely. Here are a few ways to be a considerate traveller on your next vacation!

Obey Safety Signs

Safety police here! I may seem like a party pooper, but obeying safety signs is a simple step to be a good tourist. Every year there are stories of thrill seekers who have gotten themselves into danger and either severely injured themselves or died when disobeying multiple signs.

Those slippery rocks are not going to save you!

Whilst I hate seeing a natural beauty spot littered with bright yellow warning signs, I understand the importance. However, several times I have seen people inch themselves out onto slippery rock edges to get the perfect selfie.  It seems crazy to have to say it but obey the signs and stay safe!

Leave No Trace

Now this is primarily a hiking principal (check out leavenotrace.ca) However, it can be applied to all aspects of travelling. The idea is that you pack back into your bag exactly what you pack out, leaving no evidence you’ve ever even visited a spot. This is important when hiking so that the natural environment is protected, and animals are not attracted to human foods. However, I feel this principal can be applied to other situations. If you’re in the city and can’t find a bin, put it back in your bag too!

Don’t Approach or Feed Wildlife

As mentioned above leave no trace is key in protecting wildlife, once animals become accustomed to human food they actively seek it out. Not only does this endanger humans but the animals are less likely to survive on our crappy snacks. Plus, here in Canada there is a fine of up to $25,000 for feeding wildlife! Now that is an expensive holiday experience.

Both this bird and otter were waiting for food but don’t give in to the cuteness!

Matt and I have also witnessed tourists actively following a bear cub. Crazy behaviour like this can not only get yourself hurt but can often lead to the animal being putdown. All because someone wanted the perfect picture.  Recently in Alaska a gentleman jumped a fence from a viewing platform into a zone where several brown bears were feeding on salmon… all to get a selfie.  Given that there was a safe place to view these wonderful creatures from there is no excuse.  So, don’t become a bear snack… stay at least 100m away.

Keep off the Grass!

Another way to be a respectful tourist while on the trails is similar to the first one, stay on the trails! It maybe tempting to venture down to a river, waterfall or lookout when there isn’t a designated trail, however, you may be damaging valuable or endangered parts of the wilderness.  Surface vegetation, animal habitats and fragile soils can all be disrupted when we go off track.

Inukshuks left by tourists on the left and one left to mark a trail on the right… huge difference!

Even something as simple a picking up a rock can have an impact of the surrounding environment for many years. For example,  Park officials in Jasper have requested that hikers stop building inukshuks (balancing rocks on top of one another) on trails as it was causing major soil erosion.  However, if we all stick to the trails we can preserve these beautiful, natural resources for generations to come.

Try and Speak the Language

As a Brit I know we have a bit of a reputation for being rubbish with languages. It’s only partially our fault, we do get taught languages at school (shout out to my French teacher Miss Mariner) but we don’t start learning until we are eleven in most cases. Other countries learn from a much younger age and are therefore a bit better at us in terms of communication. But learning a few phrases show some willing when on your holiday. Nine times out of ten they will switch to English, but I do feel happy when I’m understood in a foreign language. Knowing a little about the language is also key when reading signs, using transit or in an emergency.

Use Public Transit

Using public transit may not seem like an obvious way of being a better tourist. However, by hopping on the bus, train or tram can ease congestion is busy areas, making it easier for residents to get on with their everyday lives. It can also be more environmentally friendly and cheaper than driving.

Go even further by travelling off peak and avoiding rush hours. Furthermore, many transit systems around the world are famous within their own right. The London Tube and red double decker buses, San Francisco’s trams or the subway in New York are well worth exploring.

Enjoy and Respect the Culture

A great part of travelling is seeing and experiencing new things. Witnessing different cultures is a beautiful thing but it is important to respect all aspects of a nations way of life. A simple example from my travels would be in America.  Their love for their flag and anthem is astounding, it is sung before pretty much every single sporting occasion unlike the UK where it is usually only done in the finals of a competition. However, whilst it is not my country’s national anthem (and I’m pretty impartial to that too!) I would always stand and remove my hat whilst it’s being sung. It’s a small gesture to show that you understand and respect the nuances of that particular country.

Consider Those Around You

This final one ties all these tips together, by considering those around you everyone can enjoy their vacation. Everyone is there to enjoy whatever sight it is you have gone to see so share the space. Maybe don’t take 20 minutes hogging the best photo spot, for example. Offer to take a group picture for someone struggling with a selfie and maybe don’t shove your selfie stick in other people’s views.

People in every shot at Peyto Lake and going off trail to get the ‘best’ shot!

By being aware and considerate of those around you can turn a good experience into an excellent one. Who knows that person who you take a quick picture for may know an excellent pub, doughnut shop or burger place!!

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Got There Eventually!!

Being a thoughtful tourist can make more of an impact than you think, so take the time to stop and think while on your next vacation. Not only will you enjoy your sightseeing even more, but you will help others enjoy them too! It’s a win-win!

How do you try to be a good tourist?? Let me know in the comments 😊

 

 

 

Top Tips for Cycling as a Tourist

Many major cities now have easy access to bikes. Self-serve rental schemes such as London’s ‘Boris Bikes’ can be found in countless metropolitan areas. The idea originally began in 2003 in Vienna, Austria and has been exported around the world.  These bikes are great for locals and tourists alike as they are easily accessible and can be rented on and off throughout the day, week or longer.

Cycling can be a fantastic way of exploring a city without breaking the bank. It can save on blisters and you can cover a lot more ground than if you were walking.  In addition to self-serve bikes many places have rental stores where you may even be able to rent a tandem … if you’re feeling brave! And wherever you are you’ll be sure to have amazing views such as these:

However, there are a few problems with cycling as a tourist. For one, you’re in an unfamiliar area, making it much harder to navigate. Secondly, you want to stop and take in the view all the time and can get in the way of busy commuters. Nobody wants to end up in a heap on the floor, so I’ve compiled a list of top tips for a smooth ride on your next holiday bike ride!

  • Wear a helmet

Safety tip number one is always were your helmet. In some places it is a legal requirement to wear one. So, don’t worry about your hair, you’re on holiday, no one cares! The rental places have a special spray to keep them clean, so you don’t need to worry about that either.

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  • Use the cycle lanes… correctly

The bike lanes have been put there for a reason, for you to use. It can be tempting to ride on the pavement/sidewalk in areas with a lot of vehicle traffic but it can be just as dangerous.

Hamilton Bike Lanes

  • Be aware

I’ve seen a few accidents where people have ended in a pile on the floor simply because they weren’t paying attention.  It is easy to get distracted but being switched on could prevent a trip to the emergency room!

  • Don’t play music

If you are wearing headphones while on your bike you might not be able to hear certain things such as sirens, people shouting or car horns. Miss hearing one of these and you could end up causing an accident. Also playing music from a speaker on your bike is just annoying! Not everyone is going to like your music choice… but this one is more a bug bear of mine!

  • Obey the signs

Pure and simple they are there for a reason and they are there for your safety and the safety of others. For example, when cycling around Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada, there are certain sections which require you to stop and dismount. It is clearly sign posted but hardly anyone does it even though it goes through a kids play area. No one wants to run a kid over… so obey the signs!

  • Lock up your bike

Being able to lock up your bike gives you freedom. If you find a cute bar or café and fancy stopping for a bite to eat, just lock your bike up. Most rental places will provide a lock so make sure you ask before setting off on your adventure. Plus, having a lock saves any hassle should your bike get stolen.

  • Move to the side for photos

Don’t stop in the middle of the cycle path just to take a photo. Same as when you are driving a car, if you stop suddenly in the road you’re going to cause a pile up. So, check around and pull to the side before taking that perfect snapshot.

  • Check your bike before leaving the rental store

My friend and I rented a tandem and happily rode off.  She was convinced I wasn’t pedalling the whole time… turns out we had a flat tire! We headed back to the rental store and switched out for individual bikes which were way more comfortable and had super bouncy tires!

  • Stay hydrated

You’re going to get hot so stay hydrated whilst out and about. Pop some frozen drinks in your backpack and they will soon defrost giving you a nice cool drink just as you need it.

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  • Take breaks

If you are not used to cycling on a regular basis, make sure to pace yourself. Take breaks every now and then, you are on holiday after all! Enjoy the views, spend some time people watching or grab a quick bite to eat.

Happy cycling!!!

I hope these tips will help you have a smooth journey. Other than walking, cycling is such a fun way to see a place without getting on transit. It’s a greener way to travel and you get fit at the same time… what more could you ask for? So, get out there and have fun!

Have you ever cycled while on holiday? What’s the best place you’ve cycled as a tourist?

If you’ve enjoyed my blog, then please leave me a little like or share. Happy Travels 😊

10 Reasons To Go Camping This Summer

  1. You get the chance to DISCONNECT

We are all far too connected to the internet, our phones, tablets, laptops etc. camping is the perfect excuse to have an electronic detox. Instead, go for a hike, read a book, play a game or simply sit and watch the clouds go by. But do keep a mobile handy for any emergency’s … and a quick selfie!

 

  1. You can RECONNECT with friends and family

Some of my best memories as a kid were of family holidays camping. It’s where I learnt to ride my bike, where I watched my Dad slide a river bank (more than once!) and was in fact Matt and I’s first holiday together.

 

Plus, there is nothing better than sitting around a campfire with a glass of wine in your hand just chilling with friends. It’s pure relaxation!

 

  1. It is super CHEAP

Nine times out of ten camping will be much cheaper than a hotel, air BNB or even a hostel.  For example, camping in Banff National Park during peak season can range from $15 CAD (approximately £8.75) to $33 CAD (approximately £19.20) where as hostels start from around $28 CAD for a shared dorm.

 

We saved loads on accommodation in Vancouver by camping just outside the city and travelling in by bus instead of staying downtown.

  1. You can take your DOG

Whilst we can’t take our house-sitting pets camping with us here in Canada as we are here to look after homes as well, my family dog (Billy the Whippet) loves to go camping. He is a bit of a fair-weather camper as he doesn’t like the rain, but he loves sitting in the front of my parent’s caravan watching the world go by and going on trips to the pub with my Dad.

 

 

  1. Being at one with NATURE

Depending on where you are camping you can totally embrace your inner flower child whilst camping. In Canada, sites are nestled amongst the trees which feels amazing when you wake up in the morning!

 

Back in the UK I find that sites are more ‘pruned’ but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel the grass between you toes or listen to the chirping birds.

  1. Good for your HEALTH

Getting outdoors can give you some much needed vitamin D after the grey winter months. You can also get some great exercise setting up you tent, fetching water and hiking.

 

 

Another bonus is that you can reset your body clock. If you are in a tent there isn’t anything stopping the sun from seeping through in the morning. This means you can rise with the sun each day and settle at sunset!

  1. Get to see the STARS

Once you’ve watched the sunset the stars will start to appear. The more rural the location there is less chance of light pollution and more chance of seeing a sky full of stars.  I remember camping on night in California and my breath was quite literally taken away as every inch of the night sky was packed with constellations! I’d never seen anything like it!

Top tip : pack your telescope and even better, a map of the night sky.

  1. Learn new SKILLS

You don’t become a skilled camper overnight. The first time you set up your tent there will more than likely be an argument. You will always forget something, just a few years ago I sat eating my cereal out of a saucepan as I’d not packed bowls! This year I learnt how to make my own fire starters… and a fire!

 

Skills you can learn while camping:

How to build a campfire How to cook on an open fire
Map skills Animal tracking
How to pitch a tent How to choose a tent site
Different knots Navigating with a compass
  1. S’MORES

Need I say anymore… this is one piece of North American culture I am quite happy has infiltrated Britain! Perfect for all the family, its cheap, easy and fun activity.

For the perfect simple s’more:

You’ll need some biscuits (cookies), I like to use half coated chocolate digestive for an extra bit of sweetness, marshmallows and roasting sticks

Pop your marshmallow on the end of you stick and hold it over the fire. You’ll want a little bit of browning across the ‘mallow. Just don’t catch them on the flames as they won’t cook on the inside!

Have your biscuit of choice ready and waiting.

When it’s nicely toasted, pop it in between two cookies and slide your stick out.

Now enjoy, be careful it will be hot!

 

  1. You can do it ANYWHERE

You don’t need to go to the other side of the world to enjoy a great camping adventure. If you don’t have much time, head to a local campsite. One of my favourite things to do on a long weekend is head just an hour down the road from my hometown Shrewsbury to Little Hereford with the family and Billy, of course!

Alternative: set up camp in your garden. My sister and I used to love backyard camping when we were younger…usually Dad was just trying to dry the tent out though!

 

What’s your favourite thing about camping? Where is your favourite place to sleep outdoors? Drop me a comment below.

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Is Google Maps Making Me Less Adventurous?

I love my technology as much as the next girl, whether it be my phone, mp3 or camera it’s in my pocket ready to use each day.  It helps us to wake up in the morning, make memories and communicate, what’s not to love? When travelling, technology can become even more useful.  For instance, checking my bank balance online, skyping friends and family and most importantly, Google Maps!

Out on the road Google Maps has been my best friend. In a completely new country, navigating unknown streets whilst driving on the opposite side of the road is hard. So, having maps at the touch of a button is incredibly convenient. When driving by myself having the GPS voice guide me has been hugely beneficial. You’ll never be lost with a GPS signal and a phone in your pocket. Take a wrong turn and the computer will easily redirect you without having to turn a map in ten different directions.

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Despite my love for paper maps that I frequently pick up from tourist’s offices (mostly for crafting!), they are becoming obsolete thanks to online versions. Paper maps are difficult to read and orientate quickly and heaven knows they are impossible to fold back into their original neat packet! Furthermore, they are an additional thing to carry. My high school geography teacher would be outraged at these comments, he once spent an entire lesson ranting about how young people don’t appreciate maps and how he himself ‘Loved reading maps!’ and this was before Google Maps were mainstream.

While there are hundreds of reasons to use digital maps over paper versions, this week I have been wondering, is Google Maps making me less adventurous? However convenient online maps can be I can’t help but think they may be hindering my exploring. You pick a destination, type it in and press go. Easy-peasy! What more could you want? It will tell you the quickest and most convenient way to go. It will tell you that there are tolls roads, construction blocking the way and even whether there will be heavy traffic.   They have the most up-to-date information at the touch of a button.

What is won’t tell you is that there is a great diner just 2 minutes off the highway or a fantastic hike to a waterfall if you take the back road. I would love to see a ‘most scenic’ or ‘most interesting’ route button next to the ‘fastest’ route button.  I know we are all eager to get from A to B as quickly as possible but sometimes it would be nice to take my time and enjoy what the world has to offer.

This week I have been on the road with Matt and his parents, driving around Nova Scotia for two weeks. They like to travel without a definite destination and going where the wind takes them. As a planner I was a little apprehensive about travelling like this. I like to research before we go so I don’t miss anything. More than likely, I won’t be in this part of the world again so I’m going to make sure I see and do everything I possibly can.  Instead, these past two weeks I’ve explored a little differently. We booked accommodation, so we knew where we would be sleeping each night, but other than that I didn’t have too much planned.

Nova Scotia this time of year can be a little tricky to navigate as a tourist. Spring brings changeable weather (we had snow, torrential rain, 70mph winds and sunshine), for the most part attractions are still closed for the season and many hiking trails are still buried under 2-3ft of snow.  I began to wonder what on earth we were going to do for the fortnight. They had travelled all this way to see us and I wanted to show them all the beauty Canada has to offer.

However, by getting in the car with just a final destination has proven to be extremely fruitful. Each day we would set off knowing only our end point and maybe a hike or two in between point A and B. This left plenty of time for adventurous detours. For example, when we arrived at a trail head that was too buried in snow for us to tackle we would simply get back in the car and pick a spot on the map to hit next. On our way from Cheticamp (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) to Ingonish Beach (also Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) we were driving through snow, on roads that were badly damaged by the cold winter weather (potholes are deep and plentiful in Nova Scotia!), we initially thought about heading to Meat Cove at the most northern tip of the island, but due to the conditions we had to change route.

But where to go? Matt’s Mum whipped out her road map and selected Dingwall. We had no idea what would be there, if anything at all. I had my tablet with Google Maps in my lap and was apprehensive about what we were heading towards, it looked like a fishing harbour with a few residential streets… nothing too exciting. But I wasn’t going to argue with the future mother-in-law too much! And whilst a harbour was exactly what we found it was extremely quaint and beautiful. The water was full of ice that was flowing and moving with the waves. The harbour was scattered with lobster pots, brightly coloured buoys and ropes, it was the quintessential maritime scene that was made even more beautiful by falling fluffy snow and a baby sea otter.

Had it been just Matt and I, I’m 99% sure we wouldn’t have ventured here. I would have been deterred by the lack of amenities and dead-end road that Google Maps presented. I would have carried on searching for a place on the digital map that would have showed me something more, at the very least a Tim Hortons!  For all its uses Google maps can’t show us everything. It can’t show me what places are going to look like beyond street view, which is just one snap shot of a neighbourhood. It can’t show me ice flows or wildlife. It can’t show me beauty.

As Matt and I head back across to Alberta over the next month or so, I am going to try and develop my free-wheeling travel skills. I won’t give up researching or Google Maps completely, but I will endeavour to be less rigid in our plans. Sometimes the best moments are the unexpected ones, so I must give myself the opportunity have these surprising experiences.  Getting lost every now and again may be just the adventure you need!

Do you think Google maps makes you less adventurous? Have you found any hidden gems after detouring from your planned route? Drop me a comment about your adventure… Happy Travels!

How to Prepare for a Long-Term Trip

Yay you’ve decided to take the plunge and do some long term travelling! But what next? Planning a long-term trip takes more than time than your average holiday. When planning our two-year working holiday to Canada I found each week that there was a new thing I’d forgotten to sort out. Everything from where my goldfish were going to live (thanks Matt’s parents!) to contacting the student loans company (boooo!) needed to be considered. In fact, by the time I’d finished all the boring paperwork and logistics I was well and truly ready for the adventure!

So, I thought I’d share a few tips to help the run up to your next holiday go smoothly. At this point you’ve chosen your destination/s, here’s what to do next:

Save, Save, Save

You will always need and will never have enough to do everything so save as much as you possibly can. You don’t want to be heading out in debt so tackle that first. Matt and I would put a certain amount into our savings on payday and would never touch it. There are many ways you can save before you go and whilst it may be difficult the rewards will be beyond worth it!

Check the validity of your passport

No one wants a last-minute dash to the passport office to get a new passport. It not only costs money but also wastes time you could be spending with friends and family. Some countries require your passport to run for a certain amount of time past the validity of your visa so check before you leave.

Get rid of stuff

I found that coming on a longer-term trip has taught me that we all have too much stuff. There are many things that are packed away in boxes back in the UK that I haven’t even thought about over the past 15 months. So, start getting rid of stuff you haven’t used, its pretty cathartic. My sister came around and raided my wardrobe and DVD collection and I have a feeling she’ll be keeping most of it. But after not even thinking about most of it, I think I’ll be ok with less things.

Donate or sell

Now this one ties in with getting rid of stuff and saving money. If you have things that are worth anything it might be worth selling them to put money in the savings pot. Matt sold some of his childhood collectables and whilst he didn’t make millions, he did get rid of some old plastic toys in exchange for something we actually needed. So, head over to ebay, schpock, or facebook buy and sell groups to make some extra pennies. Even better go to a car boot sale.

Secure your home

What to do with your existing home before the big trip is usually the hardest decision. Do you leave it empty and get a friend or relative to check in? Do you rent it out? Do you get house-sitters? Take the time to consider you options and figure out what is best for you. If you have pets a house-sitter is a great option as you can save on pet care. Don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time to complete this step.

Notify your bank

This is a must do and I cannot stress this enough. You do NOT want to be left with no cash supply. So take the time to pop into your local bank and mark your account with the countries you intend to visit. If you are visiting more than one country tell them this. Any unusual activity on your account can cause it to be frozen and calling home from a foreign country to sort it out can cost £££. It’s happened to me so it’s a mistake I won’t be making again!

Contact Student Loans Company

This one you only need to do if you’ve taken out a student loan and still have to pay it off. If you don’t drop them a line they charge your account a default amount, which can be much more than you would usually pay. To avoid this, you can nominate someone to be in charge of your account before you leave. Now unfortunately this does not mean that they pay, it just means that they can be your point of contact, so saves expensive phone calls. After being abroad for 3 months you must fill out an Overseas Assessment Form and return it to SLC.

This information was correct at my time of travelling I am by no means an expert on the subject so please seek the correct advice before leaving.

Cancel any memberships

If you are going somewhere with no internet connection you’re not going to need your Netflix account so, get rid of it. Same goes for the gym membership you never use! Give plenty of notice when cancelling things such as car and home insurance. By doing so all paperwork will be completed and returned to you before you leave. I know it can be boring but it is necessary.

Make time to say goodbye

When you’re leaving for a long time you’ll want to say goodbye to your nearest and dearest and this can take time. Ensure you make room for everyone and schedule your diary accordingly. It can get pretty busy and expensive so also make sure you budget for this too. This is a hard part of travelling, but if you don’t leave you can’t return. I found it particularly difficult to leave without saying ‘see you soon’ after every meeting!

Hopefully these pointers will help you prepare for your journey of a lifetime. What steps did you take before leaving? Or are you off on a new adventure soon?

Should I Feel Guilty for Missing Out on Major Events Whilst Travelling?

Anyone who has travelled at some point has had to miss a major event for family or friends. Whether it be a birth, death, or marriage, life continues when you move away from home. It can be frustrating to miss out on seeing your best friend walk down the aisle or seeing a new niece come into the world, but it is an inevitability. However, I know deep down that the people involved are ok with us not being there and know that when we return we will fully celebrate their new lives with a drink or two!

It’s not just happy occasions either, you feel guilty for not being there in times of need. Not being able pop around the corner and comfort a loved one is a down side to being away from home.

Things change over time, some only slightly and some beyond recognition, I’d thought I’d share my experiences with you:

  • When we left the UK, my beautiful nephew was only 7 months old. He had just mastered the art of rolling over (although he was reluctant to show me this!) and was getting to the fun stage. I was going to miss out on seeing him develop over the next two years and for that I felt quite guilty. I missed his first Christmas and birthday, missed him walking and talking for the first time. But the wonders of technology have come to my rescue. Kids these days are amazing with technology and me and the little man love playing with different filters and talking gibberish to each other over facetime. I can’t wait to get back and introduce him to my fave Disney films whilst we do arts and crafts!
    EJ 1st birthday

    Sneaking into the celebrations

  • There has also been an addition to the family as my sister had another baby in December. Not only did I miss her entire pregnancy, but I also missed the birth of my new niece. This was the most emotional time on our trip. I am very close with my sister and would loved to have helped her more during this time (not that she needed it, she is amazing!). The news of baby’s arrival came through just as I was getting to work so I frantically got to the nearest coffee shop with WIFI to try and get hold of someone, a few teary messages were left on various social media platforms, but everyone was occupied! I had to wait until the next day to get a glimpse of my wonderful new niece. I’ll have to wait even longer to get to hold her as we won’t be returning to the UK until November when she’ll be nearly one year old.pexels-photo-266011.jpeg
  • Relationships change massively in a two-year span. When we left the UK quite a few of our close friends were in relationships, but now they are engaged or married. Unfortunately, we have had to miss not one but two weddings already. The first being just six months into our trip and for one of Matt’s oldest friends. The other more recently and again for a close friend of Matt. He deals with the missing out well (sorry guys he’s not a huge fan of weddings!) and knows that we can celebrate soon with the new Mr and Mrs. I however, love a good wedding and a boogie on the dance floor!pexels-photo-256737.jpeg
  • I am also in fact missing my own graduation. Having completed my Master’s degree last summer I am due to graduate in July. It would have been great to be able to complete the process with a picture of me in my cap and gown but logistically its just not possible. I confirmed my graduation by absentia a few weeks ago and my certificate will be arriving un-ceremonially at my parent’s house soon.
    BA Graduation

    One graduation is enough right?!?!

Luckily, we haven’t had to deal with any family deaths and I don’t know what I’d do if it did happen. The grieving process affects us all in differently ways and coping with such an event thousands of miles from home would be difficult to say the least. All I can say is keep safe and healthy guys!

Missing out on these events does teach you a few things. It makes you let go of the ‘fear of missing out’, sometimes its just not meant to be. Moreover, it makes you appreciate the moments in life you do have. Matt and I will never forget this trip and all the amazing things we’ve done along the way. I look forward to returning home and seeing all the changes. Its going to be a whole new adventure.

Have you ever had to miss a major event due to travelling? How do you cope in these situations?

8 Ways to Get Involved in Community Whilst Travelling

Travelling for a longer period of time can become a little isolating. You no longer see the same places or people each day as you are not in your own community and are often moving from place to place. Not having grown up in Shrewsbury I never thought that this would be an issue for me when I travelled. I hadn’t felt I’d become particularly attached to Shrewsbury as I didn’t have any youthful ties to the town. But, wandering away from the everyday norms of the Shire has highlighted to me how much I enjoyed the place and community there.

As we have been bouncing from place to place it has become difficult to feel a part of the communities you are visiting. However, along the way we’ve come up with a few different ways to enjoy new places and become part of the community no matter how long you are visiting for.

  1. Participate in local events

This is great if you are only visiting for a short amount of time as it can often take just a few hours. If you are away when there is a national holiday participating in holiday traditions are a great way of learning about different cultures. Other times events are unique to a particular location. Along our way we’ve enjoyed Halifax Burger Week,  outdoor movies and street hockey tournaments, to name a few. Each one is celebrated by locals and tourists alike and show you a different part of the community and culture you are visiting.

  1. Join or visit the library

I’m a book lover so in places where we’ve stayed for longer periods I’ve become a member of my local library. Not only do you get to enjoy a vast number of books but they often hold amazing events too. I got to flex my trivia knowledge at the library’s Friends trivia nights. Managing 93.5 out of 100 you’d think I would have won but competition was fierce, and I missed out on the trophy. Another bonus is being able to borrow DVD’s. Matt and I have devoured six seasons of Game of Thrones borrowing from the library. However, now I am person 335 in the line for season seven. Noooo!

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering across Canada has given us some great experiences. Using the website www.workaway.info/ Matt and I have helped out at a BnB, a boarding kennel, vineyard and rhubarb farm. By doing so we have been able not only to live within the community but be shown around by the people who live there.  Our hosts have all been extremely welcoming and willing to show us their beautiful towns and cities.

  1. Visit markets

Not only does this one tackle your hunger but is a great way of enjoying local produce. By visiting markets across Canada I’ve been able to appreciate some great treats, bannock being one of my favourites (read about what bannock is here!). In Nanaimo I picked up some red pepper chutney that was great with cheese from a little old lady who goes to market every week selling, pickles, jams and chutney. Yum!

  1. Join a club

Again, another one if you are staying in one place for a little longer but a fantastic way of making friends in the local area. Matt has joined a football (soccer!) team during both of our long-term house-sitting assignments in both Calgary and Halifax.  By doing so, not only has he kept fit, but we’ve had some great team nights out too!

 

  1. Visit your local community centre

Canada is great at recreation and the community centre is usually at the heart of this. They bring together people both old and new for a range of activities. Currently my local community centre holds a meal every Friday night which is always absolutely booming. They also have teams for basketball, pickleball, hockey, soccer and baseball. I have enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of the gym there.

  1. Use independent stores and restaurants

We can sometimes rely on going into stores and buying brands we feel comfortable with. But supporting local businesses is far more than a boost for the tourism industry. They are often completely unique in products, recipes and atmosphere. My favourites have been Red Dog Art Studio in Cherryville on Vancouver Island which showcased many local artists in a colourful store. Restaurant wise there are many that stand out, Vandal Doughnuts, Hali Deli, Black Sheep and Hilltop Diner have been great eats and treats on our journey.

  1. Chat with the locals

At the end of the day the inhabitants of towns are the soul of the community, they are the ones that create the unique environments which we enjoy visiting. Being a tourist people are always willing to share their personal top tips for the area. By chatting with the locals, you can learn and experience far more than what google can ever tell you and maybe even make a few friends along the way.

Vernon (1)

How do you get involved with the community whilst travelling? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

5 AMAZING Women Explorers

With it being International Women’s Day I couldn’t resist writing a post about my favourite women explorers. On 8 March each year we celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across the globe. It’s crazy to think there was a time when, as women, we were restricted in our travels for one reason or another.  I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to explore but, for many women,  this hasn’t always been the case. However, the following women have all excelled in their travels, breaking boundaries, records and glass-ceilings!

Here are my top five female explorers who are thoroughly inspirational:

  1. Amelia Earhart

No list of female travellers would be complete without Amelia Earhart. Not only is she one of the most famous explorers but she is also one the most mysterious after she disappeared on a flight over the Pacific. She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as well as the first person to navigate the Atlantic and Pacific.  In addition to setting many records and writing several books, Earhart also championed women’s rights.  She was a key player in forming an organisation for female pilots as well as being a member of the National Woman’s Party. She was a strong, confident and completely ground-breaking. A true inspiration.

To learn more about Amelia Earhart head over to https://www.ameliaearhart.com/

  1. Cassie DePecol

More recently, Cassis DePecol became not only the first woman to visit all 196 countries in the world but she also the fastest person to do so. In essence, she holds the title of being the most travelled woman in the world. Whilst travelling from country to country she also promoted Peace through Tourism talking to students and dignitaries on how tourism can be a mediator between peace and conflict and a way to build friendships and relationships amongst nations. DePecol is a traveller with a message to us all to be kind and peaceful on our journeys.

To learn more about Cassie DePecol head over to http://cassiedepecol.com/

  1. Ellen Macarthur

Ellen Macarthur is someone who I remember seeing on the news when I was younger. Coming into prominence in 2001 for placing second in the Vendee Globe solo around-the-world race at just 24.  Macarthur also broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005. During her successful career she has attempted and broken several records which makes her truly inspiring. She is a reminder that if at first you don’t succeed, try again.

To learn more about Ellen Macarthur head over to http://www.ellenmacarthur.com/

  1. Nellie Bly

Originally from Pennsylvania, Bly started out as an investigative journalist. Not content with writing about gardening and fashion she penned hard-hitting articles on poverty, police corruption and women’s rights. After moving to New York, she became the first female war correspondent during the First World War. However, it was her trip around the world for which she became the most famous. Bly completed her trip in 72 days beating the record of Phileas Fogg.  She even had her adventure turned into a board game!

To learn more about Nellie Bly head over to https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/nellie-bly-the-intrepid-journalist

  1. Jade Hameister

One of my favourites on the list is Jade Hameister who aged just 12 she trekked to Everest Base Camp. This is not her only achievement, in 2016 she became the youngest person in history to ski to the North Pole from anywhere outside the Last Degree. The following year she traversed the Greenland icecap unsupported and unassisted- the youngest woman to do so.  She completed her polar quest in 2017 when she set a new route to the South Pole. Hamesiter is an example to any young adventurer, proving that being young is no barrier.

To learn more about Jade Hameister head over to http://www.jadehameister.com/

 

I hope you have been inspired. Remember it doesn’t matter how big or small, it’s all adventure!

 

Who is your travel inspiration? Who would be on your list of top female explorers?

How to Save Money on a Road Trip

Road tripping is always fun and in countries such as Canada and the United States, cars can be the best way of getting to the most beautiful spots that are inaccessible by public transit or tour buses.  But if you’re not careful on your trip the cost can creep up without you even realising. Having covered Canada from coast to coast (as detailed in my last blog post in A-Z Travels) we’ve picked up a few penny-saving tips that I’d like to share.

Brandywine Falls (16)

Our beautiful dodge caravan

  1. Plan ahead

I know for some people this takes the adventure out of road-tripping, but if you’re on a budget planning can be your best friend (there are a few planning tips here). Knowing where you want to be and when means you can save on accommodation by booking in advance. It also gives you time to look for discounts on attractions, restaurants and any other activities you may want to consider.

Planning with maps and books

  1. Use your points/discount cards

This one works more when you are exploring your own country or are somewhere for an extended period. We picked up a Petro-Canada points card at the start of our journey and have been saving ever since. Eventually we will be able to save 5p per gallon on 200 gallons. It all adds up and every penny counts along the way.

IMG_6175

We often forget about discount cards on holiday, but they are worth considering.  For example, I have been able to save using my student discount card. It has enabled me to save money on entrance to many places such as museums, aquariums and even on Megabus trips.  Another example, was my parents in Vancouver, they were able to save on the entrance fee into the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park as they were  AA (Automobile Association) members and happened to have their card with them.

Capilano Suspension Park (37)

We saved on our entry to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

  1. Don’t speed

This one is two- fold. First, as your speed increases your fuel efficiency decreases. Therefore, if you maintain a safe speed can actually save you money on gas. You’ve hoarded all those points along the way, so don’t waste them by speeding! Secondly, you could pick up a speeding fine. How annoying would it be to have to pay just because you wanted to get somewhere a little bit faster? Not only can it be dangerous, but you can end up was hundreds of dollars and have nothing but points on your licence to show for it. Plus, if you go too fast you miss all the beautiful views such as these:

  1. Pack snacks in advance

Food is an important part of road-tripping. I noted in my blog on travelling as a couple that being hangry is a dangerous zone to be in whilst on the road.  Gas station food is always ridiculously priced, so bulk buying drinks and food beforehand saves so much money.  Remember to freeze your ice packs in advance to keep everything cool during the summer.

  1. Tell your bank

Not necessarily a money saving tip in terms of gaining money, but it saves you from being without money altogether.  When unexpected charges pop up on your account the bank can panic and put a block on your card leaving you without any funds. It happened to Matt and I one week into our America trip. Even though we’d notified both of our banks, Matt’s card was blocked and his had all the money on it! After a few frantic and expensive calls to the UK we were no better off. They said that they would send a new card to our home address, which was no good as we were away for 87 days. They provided no alternatives. Luckily, we were able to transfer the money to my account and we continued with no further problems. Upon leaving for Canada we triple checked that our banks knew of our extended trip!

  1. Find cheap gas

The cost of gas can vary massively dependent on your location. We were paying 89 cents a gallon in Calgary (although that didn’t last for too long) however by the time we were in Vancouver we were paying up to 143 cents a gallon! A massive swing. We started googling the cheapest gas prices in our area and found that sometimes going just a little further could save a few cents a gallon. Whilst it doesn’t sound like a lot, it could save quite a bit when putting in a full tank.

For example gasbuddy.com

gas buddy

 

Where are you planning on road-tripping to next? What tips do you have to saving along the way?