Why I Travel
My dad did a lot of traveling when we were younger, and he and my mom always encouraged me to travel and take any opportunity to travel that came my way.
Although we did typical family vacations as kids, I think what really motivated me to travel more was when I did a student exchange in grade 10 to Spain for 3 weeks. From there, I really realized how much there is to see out there and how big this beautiful planet is.
I think there is so much to learn from traveling about different cultures, how people live, and such beautiful places to see. That's what motivates me. I don't want to stay in one place and not learn about everything there is out there.
Duration Of My Trips
Since I do have a full-time job in marketing, my trips are usually a maximum of 2 weeks. I also try and really stretch my vacation days by squeezing in long weekend trips where I can, and planning trips over Canadian holidays to make the most of the limited (3 weeks) vacation I get every year at my job.
How I Decide My Next Destination
I really pull inspiration from everywhere - online, social media, through friends and places they go, or sometimes places just appeal to me because I don't know much about them!
Once I pick a location, I really seek inspiration from recommendations I find online through other blogs and travelers.
Then from there build out a list of the places (cities) I want to hit, and see how I can fit them into the limited time I have.
Once I figure out an itinerary, that's where the booking comes in. I book my flights, and accommodations first ALWAYS. Then I move on to looking at inspiration on things to do, and things I want to fit in while I'm in each place.
Countries I Have Traveled To
I have traveled to almost 35 countries! Of the 35 countries I've gone to, there are so many favorites that it's hard to pick just a few.
Every place I've been to has something to offer and is so unique.
In terms of places on my bucket list - it is endless! However, a few places that I hope to go to in the next few years are Indonesia, Madagascar, Norway, and Turkey.
However, if I had to pick, some that have stood out are:
India: It was just so different and overwhelming (in a good way) when compared to anywhere else I've ever been
East Africa: This was a bucket list trip for my 30th birthday to hike to see the gorillas in Uganda
Jordan: I don't know what it was about Jordan but it was my favorite country I've ever been to - it had SO much to offer
Italy: My family is part Italian and I've been 3 times to different parts of Italy. I just LOVE the lifestyle, food, and drinks, it feels like home!
My Favorite Memory Of Exploring With New Friends
So many!!! But when I think about a specific story of meeting new people, one, in particular, comes to mind.
When I went to Morocco, I was waiting outside the airport for a shuttle to pick me up and got talking to a girl who came in from the same flight from Toronto and was also waiting for (coincidently) the same shuttle. We started chatting and turns out we were both from Toronto and lived really close to each other in the city. I had hired a private tour guide for the day because I was a bit uneasy traveling around by myself in Morocco and I invited her to come with me (because I'd always rather travel around with company than without).
We had a great day in Casablanca, then went our own ways for the rest of our trip. However, we reconnected when we were back in Toronto and actually stayed close friends to this day.
I find you meet so many new "friends" while on vacation but usually you never see or talk to each other again once you're home. So this was such a great memory and an example of how travel friends can become great friends!
Why I Blog
I started my blog originally back in 2009 as a way for my family to easily keep in the loop of what I was doing on a summer in Europe.
From there, eventually, I decided I really liked providing recommendations to people and helping them plan their trips.
What I noticed was so many bloggers travel full-time and have made their blogs a full-time business. This was never what I wanted to do. I always loved having a home base, and to be honest, was never brave enough to quit my full-time job either. Of course, MOST of the population that travels or wants to travel has at-home commitments and jobs and can't spend weeks, months, or years in a destination.
Therefore, with my blog, I really wanted to show them that you can still travel even with those at-home commitments and you don't have to wait for retirement.
How I Manage Work & Travel
There are a ton of ways I try to make use of my limited vacation days so I can have the best of both worlds. Here are some of my biggest tips:
Plan shorter trips that fall over long weekends or holidays
When booking your longer trips, look for departure dates over the weekends or on holidays to really limit how many vacation days you'll need to use/take off
Save a few of your paychecks (I do $100-$200) in a separate account that is specifically for travel only - your money will add up fast and you'll have money aside for booking trips
Don't be afraid to ask for time off - your workplace gives you vacation days for a reason!
NEVER let your vacation days expire - most workplaces have use-it or lose-it policies
Ask for additional vacation days from your manager unpaid if you need to - the worst thing they can say is no but from my experience, most of my managers have said yes and still gave me my regular pay too
Biggest Challenges While Traveling
Of course, one of my biggest challenges is that I only get 3 weeks of vacation a year which is NEVER enough. It's better than nothing, and I make it work (as you can tell from above) but everyone would always love more.
In terms of safety when traveling - for places that I felt a little uneasy about traveling alone, I've joined a small group tour through companies like Intrepid or G Adventures. Not only do these make your trip feel more like a "vacation" because you don't have to plan as much, but you also meet built-in friends, and you have the added safety of a local guide, and a group. I've done these in places like India, Morocco, and East Africa.
For other places when traveling solo, I think the biggest thing is just doing your research and feeling confident (even if you are faking it) about what you're doing and where you're going. When I feel prepared for a trip, I feel much less worried when traveling around alone. You can also read some of my other solo travel tips here.
How GAFFL Helps Travelers
I love to travel but I can't always find people to do it with. It's not everyone's priority! Even though I'll happily travel solo, I prefer to be with people, and I think a lot of people would. GAFFL helps connect you to like-minded people and allows you to have adventures and find adventures on your solo travels.
In terms of other apps I use - I always have XE for easy currency conversions, Google Translate comes in handy when a menu or something is not in English, and I use TripIt to keep track of all my travel plans and confirmations.
My Most Exciting Travel Experiences
How do I pick one! Every trip has its own! Some examples are:
Paragliding in the Himalayan mountains in Nepal
Oktoberfest in Munich
Skydiving with all my siblings in Vegas
Hiking to see the mountain gorillas in Uganda
Visiting an elephant sanctuary in Thailand
Floating in the Dead Sea in Jordan
Getting sand between my toes in the Sahara Desert
Things I Wish I’d Known When I First Started Traveling
I think the biggest lessons I've learned really go back to how big and unique the world truly is. I've learned so much about myself with each trip I've taken and really learned what truly matters in life.
Seeing the ways different cultures and people live really shows you how much we can get lost in the day-to-day grind of our own lives, and at the end of the day, we often lose sight of the things that truly matter.
Other cool stories worth checking out!