Here's How This Full-Time Engineering Student Fits In A Weekly Trip & Travel Blogging Into His Busy Schedule
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When John isn't busy doing engineering things, he’s probably planning for his next trip or working on his blog.
12th Jun | 7 min read

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    At GAFFL, we love to publish inspiring travel stories from adventurers around the world. You can connect with adventurers from 170+ countries on GAFFL, meet up, and explore destinations together. In this post, we are featuring John, a student at the University of Toronto, majoring in chemical engineering.

    When John isn't  busy doing engineering things, he’s probably planning for his next trip or working on his blog. You can learn more about John and follow along with his adventures at Your Destination is Everywhere. You can connect with John on GAFFL

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    Why I Started Traveling

    I was inspired to travel by a few different things. Do you know those calendars that have stunning photos of places around the world for each month? We always have those in our house. I used to collect all those calendars and stack them in my room, wishing that I could see those places in person.

    When I grew up a bit more, I came across this quote somewhere: “I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth, then I ask myself the same question” – Harun Yahya.

    That quote hits me because it’s so true. I have wondered the exact thing before.

    When I got my driver's license, I started to take day trips around my city. I was lucky to live near the beautiful Rockies, where waterfalls, hiking trails, and pristine lakes are abundant. This is when I fell in love with traveling and the freedom that I had. I wanted to see it all.

    To this day, I continue to travel because there’s nothing else I’d rather do. There is so much to see and so much to learn.

    I Travel As Much As I Can

    I am basically a full-time college student so I travel whenever I can. I travel to nearby towns and cities almost every weekend, neighboring provinces during winter breaks, and abroad in the summer. I have only been to 2 countries so far but that is ok. Canada is a large and beautiful country so I should prioritize exploring my own hometown before going abroad.

    When I travel, I walk a lot (usually upward of 15 km a day). I take lots of photos, visit the markets, coffee shops, and public parks. I also try to meet up with locals to experience that place from their points of view.

    How I Choose Where To Travel Next

    I’m very good at sticking to my budget so time is usually the main issue. I have to plan my trips around my schedule. I have a Canadian bucket list and a bucket list for everywhere else. Both are quite long so choosing my next destination is not easy. I usually just take a random pick from my list, do some research, and see if I like it.

    Since I mostly travel within my country right now, with the pandemic going on, I don’t need to prepare much. When I go abroad, I need to look at SIM cards, currency exchange rates, and credit card options. Blog posts and travel guides are usually very good resources for researching purposes.

    How I Pack For My Trips

    I have a 45 L backpack that I carry everywhere. I use it for multi-day hiking trips but also for traveling in general. I found that 45 L is spacious enough to hold all the essential items but small enough to carry on planes and allow me to walk long distances.

    Packing is easy for me because I have a very comprehensive checklist that I always use. I just go down the list a pack whatever I need, which will depend on the season and the place I’m going to. I always pack the bare minimum because I don’t need to look good or live like a king when traveling.

    One Of My Favourite Travel Connections

    I was visiting Banff by myself in the summer of 2019 when I happened to strike up a conversation with a nice lady at a coffee shop. She said that her grandson just passed away from cancer and that I reminded her of him. We ended up talking for hours about everything. She even offered to give me a tour of Banff. This was a memorable experience for me because it was so spontaneous. Although we just had a conversation, it seems that I made a large impact on her life.

    Why I Started My Blog

    People often say that they start a blog as a hobby (which is awesome), but I knew since the beginning that I want to turn my blog into my full-time income. I know that I want to travel the world and I know that I want nothing to do with the degree I’m working toward.

    The goal is to have a job that isn’t location-dependent so that I’m free to travel. On my blog, I write detailed travel guides on places that I have been to (mostly Canada for now), but I also write about tips for solo or budget travelers.

    How I Think GAFFL Can Help Travelers

    I think that is a great concept. I know that loneliness is a big issue for solo travelers, including myself. Nowadays, it can be very hard to find someone with the same passions as you do. Getting to make a new friend with the same interests is amazing enough on its own but getting to split travel costs too? That’s just the cherry on top.

    How I Manage My Travel Costs

    Yes, I pride myself on being a budget traveler. I hitchhike whenever I can and use Couchsurfing (a hospitality platform) to stay with the locals. While some may think that this kind of traveling is dangerous, I think it’s a great way to save money and make new friends at the same time. If I can save money on transportation and accommodation, then I can spend that money on more food and attractions.

    I don’t have a daily or even weekly budget but rather, a budget for the whole trip (I calculate this beforehand). I’m very proud to say that throughout my 2 years of traveling, I have never gone over budget.

    My Travels Around Canada

    I grew up in Calgary, Alberta so I have traveled through much of the Canadian Rockies (national parks, provincial parks, and small towns). I have also traveled through much of Southern Ontario, Eastern BC, Montreal, and Quebec City.

    My favorite memory is a recent one. In August 2021, I was planning to hitchhike to Canada’s East Coast from Toronto. Well, that didn’t happen. I managed to meet up with my mom’s best friend’s son in Montreal and became best friends with him. Traveling is hard because you have to say goodbye all the time, but he managed to convince me to stay in Montreal for almost the entire month. We had a blast. In my first 10 days, we walked 200km to explore the city together. That was an incredible feat for me. I love hiking and I do it all the time, but I never thought that I had it in me to walk 20 km a day for 10 days.

    How I Manage To Work & Travel

    I usually carry a small laptop with me so I can work wherever I am. I usually try to finish any schoolwork I have before leaving, so I only need to work on my blog while traveling. Most coffee shops have free wifi nowadays so I don’t find this to be a huge problem. I often work a lot more on weekends because everything is busier.

    Lessons I Wish I Had Learned Before I Started Traveling

    I wish I knew that traveling isn’t a race. It’s not about ticking off countries after countries from your bucket list. Traveling for me is about developing real connections with other human beings and growing as a person.

    Travel has taught me to be confident, independent, to talk to complete strangers, to eat alone in a restaurant, to work hard when my parents don’t even believe in me, but most importantly, travel has taught me to appreciate the little things in life. Those are the moments that I will remember 50 years down the road, and time really flies by when you’re having fun.

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