Why you should travel more and buy less.

I wholeheartedly believe there is a distinct difference between travelling and being a tourist. Tourism is a commercial product. I liken it to that of holding a movie pass. You’re experiencing something different without ever actually leaving your comfort zone. It’s safe. It’s easy. Travelling, on the other hand, has a lot more to do with exploring and immersing yourself into a time, place and culture that you don’t understand. Travelling is a mindset that you want to be as much a part of your destination as it is a part of you.

Big cities might be filled with tourists, while travellers are those who follow the less beaten paths of this globe. The rewards might be great in either category, depending on what you’re looking for, but I happen to be a firm believer in travel over tourism. If you’re going to take the time and money to go somewhere – truly go there. Immerse yourself in the adventure.

  1. Step outside of your comfort zone. Travelling allows one to leave order and conformity and move towards the unknown. Pushing yourself out of that comfort zone can teach you just how far into the unknown you’re willing to go and just what potential you might be capable of.
  2. Escape your routines. Use travel as a tool to beak your behavioural patterns that keep you in the ‘daily grind’. Travel can provide that much needed escape from the world you hold so dear, but need a break from every now and again to avoid burnout. Scheduling your travels gives you something to look forward too and allows you to know when your next break is coming, when your next escape is waiting.
  3. It’s a free education. The last thing that you want to do is travel with the belief that you know everything. You’ll be shocked by your own ignorance. There’s too much to this world that you don’t know and haven’t learned yet. Travelling gives you an opportunity for that education that a classroom can’t teach and it also shows you just how much you don’t know.
  4. You’re exposed to new ideas and beliefs. While people often fear what they don’t know, or don’t understand, travelling puts you into situations where you’re forced to see these circumstances firsthand, witnessing that which can forever change you from there on out.
  5. The more you explore, the more you realize how complex human life is. And it’s hard to acknowledge that so few people will get to experience/know that within their lifetime.
  6. It increases your problem solving skills. It can be easy at home to go about your day in the same monotonous way as you’ve done over and over before. Drop yourself in a new location in a part of the world and you’ll be faced with a need to solve problems you’ve never faced in your daily grind. Reading a map in a foreign language is a problem that you’re going to have to learn to solve.
  7. Experiences come with expiration dates. This one is important. Who you are right here and now is not who you will be after you get married or have children or go through other changes in your life. The way that you experience a country/place/destination right now won’t always be the same. Someone who’s just out of highschool, backpacking through Europe will experience it in a completely different way than a retired couple. That’s not to say you won’t enjoy a trip when you’re a retired couple with your spouse, that’s just to say – are you really ready to give up on the experiences you could be having right now for the one day? For the some day?

Honestly, I’d take experiences over new shoes any day. I’m a firm believer in the statement ‘Collect Moments, not things’. Furthermore, moments and memories are the only form of wealth you can gain that give yourself that doesn’t diminish in time.

There’s so much more to travel than seeing a landmark or taking a selfie in front of a monument. Don’t get me wrong – those moments are pretty great too. Everyone needs a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower. But, for me, the importance of travel is about who you become when you go to a place, the person that you get to be and the person you transform into based on the situations you’re immersed in.

There’s really, genuinely important reasons for you to squander away your extra money. There’s a whole world out there to see. And yes, there are some material things in life that are important for you to purchase. But I guess, the point of this ramble from me is that there are so many important reasons to start putting that money aside and to be saving it for your next adventure.

Travel Diaries: Las Vegas in photos

These photos were taking during my trip to Las Vegas in November 2018, for my 30th birthday. It was technically “winter” in Las Vegas, so a lot of attractions were closed. But, it was still pretty epic for a first time in Vegas. And, it was fun watching so many people wander around in down jackets when us Canadian’s felt like it was summer.

We ended up with super cheap flights (I think due to it being off season), so it was a cheap, but epic, 30th birthday.

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend the New York New York Hotel and Casino to anyone looking to stay on the strip. It’s centrally located, really well priced and the hotel has a lot of amenities in it.

There’s nothing like 20 degree heat in the middle of winter. I was loving it. And honestly, having never been to Vegas before, the fact that this was all one hotel truly amazed me. I can’t even fathom which tower I was staying in. And that coaster, THE HOTEL HAS A FREAKING ROLLER COASTER.

The most divine gluten free, dairy, free, allergy free sandwich from Greenberg’s Deli. Seriously, if you have any dietary restrictions, this place is such a good spot for eating.

The M&M Store had a wall that my OCD dreams were made of. Seriously, staring at this photo gives me as much joy as staring at this wall did when I was in store.

Freemont Street. Oh, what can I say about Freemont street? It’s true what they say. It really is unlike any other place on earth. The zipine was epic. The people were interesting and the sights were inspiring. I definitely recommend taking a trip off the strip to anyone who visits Vegas. Freemnt Street is a must see.

I can’t even tell you what this was (which I feel like happened a lot while I was in Vegas) but dang was it good. All the food in Vegas was amazing.

We actually had some friends show us around town and honestly, I think that Old Vegas attracted me as much as the Strip did. It fascinated me that people live and work in Vegas and it’s the kind of place that’s normal for them. I think it’d be really cool to live there.

And the Gondola. I didn’t actually ride on the Gondola, but I was pretty fascinated by it, and this hotel. This photo was taken at 2 am. And it looks like the middle of the day because the ceiling is so realistic. The shopping in this hotel was also splendid. It filled my spendy heart!

The BEST places to see in Canada.

Growing up in Canada you kind of, sort of, might start to believe that what you see all around you is what everyone gets to see. That everywhere is as beautiful as you have it and that the sights you’ve come to call home are sights that others get to call home as well. It’s a naive way of thinking, but some would say we’re pretty sheltered up here anyways.

I started travelling when I got to University and it was at that point that I realized that not everyone gets to see what I see.

And don’t get me wrong, every place has a beauty about it in its own way, but I happen to be a little bit biased in my belief that Canada is ‘next-level’ on the spectrum of beautiful places in this world.

Some of these photos were taken by me, some of them I’ve found online. About two years ago my house was broken into – stolen was all of my electronics including a laptop that contained pictures of all of my travels – so if a photo was taken by me then it’s been in the past two years that I’ve been. And if it’s credited to someone else, I wanted to show the beauty but no longer have my photos. Insert sad face for stolen computer.

Here are a few places I’ve been that I think everyone needs to see:

Photo: Taketours.com

NIAGARA FALLS

Niagara Falls is a popular tourist destination on both the Canadian and American sides of the border due to the falls being right on the border between the two countries. It’s famous for both it’s natural beauty and it’s unprecedented source of hydroelectric power.

Winter, spring, summer or fall, it really won’t matter what season you get here, it’s going to be breathtaking. Just make sure to get here early or you won’t even make it close to the edge (the tourists line up in droves for photos) to get your photo.

I remember being here when I was 19 and thinking that I was really small in comparison to the universe. When you see sights like that, it’s hard not to.

LAKE LOUISE

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Picture the most beautiful, pristine lake that you could possibly imagine, surround it by escalating mountains covered in snow, fields of green and one of the most expensive hotels in Canada to stay at, and that is the luxury that is Lake Louise.

Visit in the winter for walking, skating, skiing or snowshoeing on the lake itself. In late January each year they host the ‘Ice Magic Festival’ where artists create incredible sculptures of ice that stay until they melt.

Visit in the spring, summer or fall for some of the most turquoise blue waters you’ll ever see. There’s a trail around the lake for you to walk, if you so feel the desire for exercise, and if you’re really an outdoorsy person, you can hike up some trails on those mountains at the far side of the lake for some pretty exceptional views.

Any way that you look at it, Lake Louise is a must see.

Photo: British Columbia Magazine

VANCOUVER

I actually grew up in Vancouver, so this one has a strong bias for me. This multicultural maven of a city is just as beautiful as it looks. Situated almost perfectly between the Coast Mountains and Pacific Ocean, it really doesn’t matter which way you look in this city you will see a beautiful view.

If you prefer the city life you can wander down city streets staring up at skyscrapers from every angle, drinking some of the best coffee in the world and shopping in stores to suit any budget. There’s a cafe on every corner, a ‘sorry eh’ at every passing and not enough time in a day to see the multifaceted face that makes up its downtown.

And if you much prefer a nature, Vancouver is filled with parks and natural landscapes that allow you to get out and roam, ride a bike, go to the beach, hike a mountain, walk through the forest… all in the same day. I recommend the Grouse Grind. But, there’s much to do in this city, and I strongly recommend you try it all.

Photo: ME

ANCIENT FOREST

In Northern British Columbia, about an hour’s drive from Prince George, you will find the entrance to the ‘Ancient Forest’. This several kilometer hike is through the largest Ancient Inland Rainforest in the world. Trees are much like those you would see in the Redwoods National forest in that they’re more massive than you could possible dream up, and they’ve likely been there for thousands upon thousands of years. The densely packed plant-life shelters you from weather (the trees are so thick you cannot feel rain) and the beauty is unimaginable.

Photo: Styleathome.com

OLD TOWN, QUEBEC CITY

If you want a true feel for French-Canadian culture, Quebec City is the place to find it. With a mixture of old-world charm, quaint city streets lined with history and the smells of amazing food pouring out of the shops and restaurants surrounding you, Quebec City feels a lot like a European destination in Canada.

While you’re here, try the poutine, it’s better than anything else on earth.

NORTH OF 60 (YUKON, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, NUNAVUT)

Photo: travelzoo.com

As someone who’s been lucky enough to visit the Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut territories, I’m leaving this one open and saying they’re all worth the time if you’ve got it. Honestly, north of the 60th parallel is a whole different world in Canada. In the summer the sun doesn’t set and in the winter the sun barely rises. It’s a way of life the locals are accustomed too and the tourists are fascinated with when they witness it.

For no other reason, I recommend the trip for the Northern Lights. Watching Aurora Borealis dance across the midnight sky is unlike any other experience you will ever have. You can rent some snowmobiles and take them out into the middle of nowhere (for fun) and for better views of the lights by night, or, in summer, you can go golfing at midnight.

I wish more people would make it farther north. It’s expensive, don’t get me wrong. But it’s well worth the experience if you ask me.

Photo: Wildlife Worldwide

PRINCESS ROYAL ISLAND – THE GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST

No, that’s not a polar bear you’re looking at. That’s the elusive kermode ‘Spirit Bear’ who calls the rainforests of British Columbia’s coastline home. Princess Royal Island as a unique little fishing destination nestled in the coastline islands of British Columbia.

Fun fact: Twelve of the 17 crew of U.S. Air Force 44-92075 were found alive here in 1950, during the first lost nuclear/Broken Arrow episode of the Cold War. 

The Island is a protected zone by the World Wildlife Fund for having one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Animals you’ll find in these forests: black bears, grizzly bears, deer, wolves and foxes, and nesting populations of golden eagles, bald eagles, and the endangered marbled murrelet. 

If you ever want to feel at one with nature, it’s a difficult place to get to, but once you’re there, it’s worth every second.

Photo: Bay of Fundy Tourism

HOPEWELL ROCKS – BAY OF FUNDY

You might have seen these rocks before in photos for weddings or engagements, or just plain instagram swoonworthy photographer shots. People largely flock to these rocks out of fascination, but stay for the peace, serenity and beauty that is the area when they get there.

A few years back I got to go to the Bay of Fundy for a work project and I’ve got to say, the way the tide rolls in and swallows up the beach, making those rocks look like they pop out of the ocean is pretty cool to see. Thinking back on it, I wish I could take a camera and take a time lapse of the tide rolling in. Something tells me it would make an incredibly satisfying video. Nevertheless, I am rambling.

If you’re ever on the East Coast, check out Hopewell rocks. Take some beautiful photos and take some lunch. As a girl who grew up next to the pacific can tell you, there’s a certain peace to the Atlantic Ocean air that will make your whole day melt away.

Photo: National Geographic

FOGO ISLAND, NEWFOUNDLAND

When I think of Fogo Island, I am most sad that I no longer have my old computer with all of my photos on it. (Important interruption: print your photos, boys and girls. Or, at the very least, save them to an external hard drive) Fogo Island is my definition of peace. You go there to escape the world, and when you’re there, you really do. It’s just you, some Newfies you can hardly understand because they talk so fast, and the ocean.

If you’re ever wanting a dream get away for inner peace and calm, Fogo Island is the place to go. I would love to wander those rocks again. To just take some time for me.

Travel Diaries: Ice Magic Festival of Lake Louise

When you grow up in Canada, one of the things you hear about every year is the Ice Magic Festival of Lake Louise. That and also that Niagara Falls is a must see in your lifetime. For me, though I’d lived within driving distance of Lake Louise for almost my entire life, I’d never actually been to the festival.

I love Lake Louise, and try to visit several times a year, but I’d never managed to make it in late January/early February when the Ice Magic Festival is taking place.

Fast forward to 2019 and the year that I’m making things happen. Knight and I decided to take the weekend to see the Festival. It was supposed to be bitterly cold, but I convinced him to come anyways, knowing that the colder it was, the less tourists there would be out.

We began at a little bakery in Lake Louise called Laggan’s Mountain Bakery. This place had a line up that was almost out the door. The Baked Goods were delectable. As someone who eats strictly gluten free (Celiac Disease) finding gluten-free baked goods in a tiny little town in the mountains was quite a score. I ended up picking up a few, eating one then and saving the rest for home.

To the lake we went.

Despite my best hopes, there were still quite a few tourists out to bare the blistery -31 degree weather. I guess they, like me, decided it was still worth it, no matter how cold.

It had snowed quite a bit since the sculptures were made, but I still made my way around the lake to try and make out what each of the sculptures were. Some of them were difficult to tell due to the sun being behind the mountains and the snow having fallen. Even still, it really amazes the talent people have to create such intricate statues and sculptures out of ice.

Though it was tempting, we decided to not stop at the Ice Bar and opted to wander into the hotel to shop and warm up. There’s so much history in the Fairmont Lake Louise, wandering the halls just makes you feel as though it could be filled with ghosts of guests past.

There’s a gorgeous restaurant inside the hotel that overlooks the lake, the festival and the mountains in the background. It might be a little too rich for my blood, though. So, after checking out the sights of inside, we made our way back out to the lake. My desire was to walk far enough onto the lake that I could get a photo without anyone in the background.

Saying that you’re walking out to the middle of the lake is a weird thing to speak. But when you get there the view is so, so, so very much worthwhile.

About a third of the lake was plowed from what I could see. A portion was arranged for public skating (I wish I had brought my skates) a portion was arranged for playing hockey (it is as picture perfect as the photos showcase) and a portion was arranged for cross country skiing. Basically, it’s an outdoor lover’s dream.


To me, Lake Louise is the prettiest place on earth. It really is. Of all the places that I’ve ever been, my heart always comes back to Lake Louise and those incredible mountains shadowing over the picturesque lake, the forests, the animals, the majestic world that is the Rocky Mountains.

It was a perfect day… a picture perfect day wandering the festival, eating incredible food, watching the tourists in awe of how much snow there was.

There’s something I used to tell my friends a lot, that still stands true to this day. If ever I lose my way, that’s where you’ll find me – the tiny little town in the mountains. The place where everything’s good and everyone knows everyone. To me, that will always be Lake Louise.

Day 37: Ugh

As the fifth day in a row of temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius continues, cabin fever is real and hitting hard.

I don’t own a car. The idea of taking on that much debt terrifies me. As someone who has been on their own since they were 17, I don’t want to accumulate more than I can pay off. So, when it gets this cold, there’s not much more to do than stay in side, look for jobs online and watch a lot of Netflix.

Not owning a vehicle definitely makes getting around an interesting task when you’re 30 miles from the nearest town.

There’s a dog in this house named Bruiser, who quite literally leaves bruises on your body if you piss him off. And he’s a temperamental little bugger too, so it’s quite easy to piss him off. Never have I met a more aptly named pet in my life. Also, he snores. He’s on the couch across from me, four legs in the air, snoring like a full-fledged human man right now. Oh, Bruiser.

I long for the days when life is figured out. When I have a plan, a job and can effectively turn this passion project of mine into a full-fledged reality. The days when I can wander the world, taking beautiful photos and meeting beautiful strangers… and eating food even before I learn what it is. I long for the sunsets on new coasts and sunrises in new cities.

I am bound and determined to believe that December 31, 2018 will become the best thing that ever happened to me. That it will have been the day this all started. It was the day that all of the negativity in my life was cut out and the new, proper chapter began. What I need right now is to get through this literal and metaphorical cold snap confining my existence to this unemployment.

Life will get figured out. Hopefully it doesn’t come to robbing banks to get me to the sandy beaches of the Seychelles. (Small joke, I would never rob a bank) And hopefully that’ll just be my beginning.

Until then, still counting the days.

Travel Diaries: Copenhagen is calling

Something inexplicable happens when I step off the plane in a foreign land. Overcome with the possibilities of the unknown, I can’t help but want more.

It’s been two years since I stood at the edge of Nyhavn. Two years since I wandered the cobblestone streets and felt the gracious charm that is Copenhagen.

When I look back on my travels there is always one memory that stands out in each country I’ve visited. One moment in time that I remember above the rest. Something that stands out as a just a little bit brighter and a little bit better in my mind than all the rest. In Copenhagen it was Thai Food.

I know how that sounds. Trust me, I do. Who goes to Scandinavia to find Thai Food? Shouldn’t the best Thai food be found in Thailand?

“I can get Thai food at home!” I remember yelling at my brother as I followed him down Strøget after watching the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace.

“Trust me, sister. You haven’t ever had Thai like this before.”

Though I didn’t believe him, I reluctantly chose to follow him and my sister-in-law anyways… daydreaming of lunch at any of the Danish cafes and restaurants we passed along the way.

Very few times in my life have I had to admit that I was wrong. And oh boy, was I ever wrong about this.

Scurry Hub, an unassuming hole-in-wall restaurant with fewer than 15 seats inside, dubs itself as “Street Food” that can be eaten in or taken out. And, if you intend to eat in, good luck finding a seat. Truthfully.

From what I gathered during the hour we spent there, people in Copenhagen are also aware of just how phenomenal Scurry Hub’s food is. People continued in and out the doors the entire time we ate lunch… hoping to find a seat, realizing there weren’t seats and having to take their food with them to ensure they didn’t miss out.

We sat, we laughed, we talked and we planned the rest of our day and we ate some of the most incredible food that I’ve ever had.

‘Did we magically get the only table with four chairs?’ I asked my brother.

‘I guess so’, he laughed as he took another bite of food.

That day, that food, that restaurant will forever stand out in my mind. It was a shining reminder to myself that you cannot judge a book by it’s cover.

As we got up to continue on with our day, a group of locals was already scooping our table before my jacket was on. I remember thinking that I couldn’t blame them for doing that. I also remember thinking that I’d be back there one day.

Copenhagen is a magical city. The old-world charm I witnessed as I wandered cobblestone streets, ate incredible food, shopped in one-of-a-kind stores with salespeople who LOVED learning of my Canadian’ness made it feel like home. And, though I didn’t speak the language, know the culture or even how to read the street signs, I felt as though I belonged.

The wanderlust has hit hard in 2019. I will be back, Copenhagen. I can promise that with certainty.


RECOMMENDATIONS FOR VISITING COPENHAGEN:

  1. Eat at Scurry Hub – It is THE BEST Thai food that you will ever have.
  2. Climb the Rundetårn – The top of this tower has 360 degree views of the Copenhagen skyline. And, on clear days, you can see across to Sweden.
  3. Visit the Nyhavn Canal – Quite possibly one of the most synonymous sights of Copenhagen, this is one instagram opportunity you won’t want to miss.
  4. Walk. Walk everywhere – There are so many unique stores, cafes and restaurants all over the city. If you’ve got a good pair of walking shoes then I strongly encourage you to walk so that you don’t miss any hole-in-the-wall along the way.
  5. Amalienborg Palace – Amalienborg is the winter home of the Danish Royal Family. Tourists flock to the Palace Courtyard each day to watch the changing of the guards. It’s a very ‘touristy’ thing to do. But it’s definitely a cool thing to witness if you’re up for it.
  6. Shopping in Strøget – If you want to shop in Copenhagen visit Strøget. It’s the shopping district in the centre of the city that is one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe. There’s something for everyone, no matter your tastes.

-V