Away we go

Hopeless Wanderer Final CollageHello wanderers!

Thank you so much for following along on my travel blog journey – it’s been an incredible year and it’s been so much fun chatting with you about where I’ve been and where I’d like to go next. I have really enjoyed writing this blog and even though my school year (and therefore my school projects – including this blog) is at an end, this is more of a “see you soon” than a goodbye.

As I keep exploring new places, I’ll try to keep you posted. As you know, I’ll be backpacking my way through Europe over the summer and I’m sure I’ll have many stories to share with you. Make sure to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to follow along on my adventure. Now, it’s on to the next big adventure. Wishing you all the best on your journeys – keep on travelling!

Stay well,
Katrina

On the Road Again

2008-graduation-with-banner
Beckie, Kaeri, and I at our high school graduation! I used to have really curly hair!

Hello wanderers!

It would seem that about every two years, I get the itch to go on an adventure. Usually, these trips line up with a milestone in my life – a graduation, a major birthday, etc. And every time, I justify each trip by saying “it’s probably my last chance…”

I think it’s important to say yes to opportunities as they come along –  if you have the chance to do something you’ve always wanted to do, or go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, then why not say yes? But I’ve also come to realize that it’s never really your “last chance” to do something – so many of my trips in the past have been motivated by the “well, it’s probably my last chance” justification, but I’m beginning to think that if you want to do something, just make it happen (duh, right?).

Here’s a recap of my “last chance” trips over the years:

  • When I was in university, I had opportunities to do some extraordinary travel for school – real “once-in-a-lifetime” trips that I couldn’t pass up (I promise they were educational!). I got to go on a UN Study Tour to Ottawa and New York and sit in on incredible workshops from speakers around the world, as well as a real Security Council assembly (to this day, this was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had).
  • Following the UN Study Tour, I took a course in South Africa, came home for a month, and then hopped back on a plane to Africa – this time, to Zambia (remember that story about borrowed pants?! Yep, same trip). It was the craziest, busiest summer of my life, but I had the best time and all that travel just got me hooked on adventuring. To be honest, I thought going to South Africa would be my one and only chance to go to Africa – it’s funny how things work out, because I certainly didn’t expect to go to Africa twice in one summer!
  • When I was about to finish my degree, I thought my traveling days were coming to an end – my best friend and I planned our India/Spain/Germany extravaganza, thinking it was “our last chance to travel together”. I thought I’d return from our trip and jump right into a job and be an adult for real. However, post-grad life didn’t turn out quite like I thought it would…
  • Within a year of graduating, I knew I wanted to go back to school. I worked to save up for my studies and got my travel on!
    • I went to Osheaga in Montreal because it was “my last chance to see Mumford & Sons” (I hope that isn’t true!).
    • The following summer, right before I began my CreComm journey, I dragged my lovely mom and cousin Hayley across Europe because I thought it truly was “my last chance to travel”. I thought CreComm was it. Once done, it was adult time for real.

Well, dear ones, with another graduation on the horizon (only a few months to go!), this summer really does look like “my last summer to go on a major trip” (I can seriously justify anything!)…so I decided to take this summer off and go on another adventure!

I’m so excited to be traveling with two of my favourite people – my best friend and travel buddy Kaeri (who gets bitten by the travel bug as often as I do!), and our friend Beckie (this will be her first time across the pond!). We’re starting things off in London and then trekking it across Europe for 5 weeks, just 3 girls and some backpacks. I can’t wait!

beckie kaeri and katrina at rempel wedding
Beckie, Kaeri and I at Kaeri’s sister’s wedding a couple of years ago. I’m so incredibly excited to be traveling with these girls this summer!

As our travel plan starts to emerge and solidify, I’ll keep you all updated on where we’re going and how we plan on getting around – follow along for some great tips!

Thanks for following me on my planning journey – 2016 will be an exciting year.

Until next week, stay well!
Katrina

Walk your own walk…

walkyourownwalk


Hi all,

Each and every one of us has our own travel style. Some of us prefer luxurious all-inclusive vacations, while some of us like survivor-style wilderness adventures. I’m somewhere in the middle – some trips are made for backpacks, hiking boots, and bug spray, whereas other trips are all about the beach, margaritas at the swim-up bar, and unlimited chips + pico de gallo.

I happen to love the spectrum. I’ve done the seven-lake-portage canoe trips and I’ve also done the all-inclusive resort trips, and I couldn’t tell you which I liked better because both were amazing. That being said, though, the more I’ve travelled, the more I’ve been able to figure out my preferred style of travel. I like being active when I travel and I also like being comfortable…but I also like going out and dressing up – basically, I like balance.

I have a lot of friends who’ve gone on amazing trips for months on end, where they’ve trekked through several countries, climbed numerous mountains, ridden on the backs of elephants and camels, and flown by the seats of their pants. I know people who are comfortable camping their way through Europe and couch surfing their way through the Middle East. I’m a little less adventurous – and that’s okay.

I also know people who pack their suitcases to the brim and shop so much they have to purchase another bag while travelling just to bring souvenirs home (I won’t name names, but you know who you are – no shame!). I know people who dress to the nines, shop ’til they drop, and go to shows every night while on the road. I’m a little less ambitious and a lot more laid back – and that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping (every year, my mom and I go on a trip purely to shop – it’s so bad but so good!) – but I like to break up what I do when I travel with different activities. Variety is a good thing!

You may know your travel style right away. You may need  to take a few trips before figuring out what you like best. And what you like now may not be what you like ten years from now (incentive to keep travelling!). But that’s okay! One of the best things about travelling is self-discovery – getting to know more about who you are, what you want, and what you want out of life. Whether you travel as a lone wolf or as a part of a big group, you will learn a lot about yourself. The more you travel, the more you’ll learn. And the best way to do this is to walk your own walk.

“Walk your own walk” is a mantra inspired by backpacker and adventurer Francis Tapon’s book, Hike Your Own Hike. A lot of people I know have hiked or biked El Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage from France to Spain, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Over the past month and a half, my family and I have followed the journey of a friend as he traversed the Camino, and I’ve loved reading about his experiences.

Inspired by his friend’s adventure, my dad started doing some of his own research of the Camino. He came across a post online that alarmed him somewhat – written by Tapon, it’s called “10 Reasons Why El Camino Santiago Sucks”. Tapon argues that the Camino really isn’t this amazing walk everyone says it is and goes through a list of why it isn’t worth it. The article could have been a very discouraging read if Tapon hadn’t also included the caveat that what he may have found sucky on his walk may not be something you or I won’t really enjoy or prefer.

Toward the end of the article, Tapon reminds his readers that, at the end of the day, the most important thing on your travels is to hike your own hike – something I recommend every traveller does on every trip. Travelling is something you should do for you! As much as possible, try to walk your own walk and truly savour every moment of your travels (and of life! Aw!). The more you walk your own walk, the more you’ll get out of your experiences, and that, my friends, makes it all worth it.

Stay well,
Katrina

To pack, or not to pack…

Hi all!

This week, I got to do a demonstration of how to pack luggage for a typical backpacking trip – which is, surprisingly, my preferred way to travel. I had no idea just how badly I wanted to go on a trip until I had my trusty MEC Supercontinent backpack (the BEST bag ever, trust me) all packed and ready to go – I had everything I needed and could have gone straight to the airport and on an adventure. It was mighty tempting, I’m telling you.

Today, I’m going to share some of my favourite general packing tips – over the years, I’ve developed my own style of packing and I’ve picked up on a few tricks that I hope you’ll find useful!


 

Packing Guide Part 1: Checked Luggage

With some considerable international and local travel under my belt, I’ve had to pack a lot of backpacks and suitcases for a variety of trips. I have packed for canoe trips in the bush, business trips to the United Nations (fancy!), and typical backpacker trips to a few exotic locations, and the tips I’m going to go through on the blog today are tips I use every time I pack for a trip, no matter where I’m going or what I’m doing.

Step 1: Do Research
– Keep location, duration, and purpose in mind before you start packing.
– It’s integral to know where you’re going, how long you’re going for, and why you’re going before you start packing so that you pack the appropriate amount of clothing, the appropriate type of clothing, and the most useful items for your trip
– doing a little bit of research can tell you a lot about the climate/weather, and cultural considerations you’ll need to keep in mind when packing

Step 2: Make a List
– Go ahead and write down everything you think you’ll need. It’s actually so useful to make a list before you start packing, even though that may sound like a lot of work. But in all seriousness, it’s worth it to put in the work – having everything you need on your travels will come in handy. That being said, you can always buy anything you need once you arrive.
– Not sure where to start with packing? Check out Pinterest for some amazing packing guides!

Pinterest packing guides provide some great inspiration! I've picked up some awesome ideas from these posts.
Pinterest packing guides provide great inspiration! I’ve picked up some awesome ideas from these posts.

Step 3: Take everything out of your closet that you think you’ll need
– I like to physically take out everything on my list that I think I want and need for my trip (from clothing to toiletries to shoes, take it all out).
– This is how you find out if you’re about to overpack! I overpack every time. It’s all trial and error, so no worries.
My recommendation: once you’ve gathered everything you want to pack, take away 5 items, because you likely have things you won’t wear or use that will just take up unnecessary space. Save that space for bringing new things home!

Step 4: Roll 95% of your clothing.
– If you’ve never heard this tip before, I’m telling you now: this is the best space-saving tip ever. Roll your clothing instead of folding! And, as an added bonus, if you’re really good at this method, you’ll also reduce wrinkling and creasing. Easy tip for creased clothes: hang your wrinkled clothing up in a washroom, turn on a hot shower, and let steam do it’s thing – this is easier than tracking down an iron when you’re on the go.
– This rule applies to the majority of your clothes. I don’t roll my pants because they pack better flat. The same goes for hoodies and heavier jackets – these are typically too bulky when you roll them.
– If you’re really concerned about space, wear your bulkiest clothing on days you are flying. Not only will this take away the packing conundrum, but this will also save you on cold flights and train rides – I always wear pants, a sweater, a scarf (which doubles as a blanket), and runners. You can always take off layers, but at least you’re ultra-prepared.

Step 5: Pack everything up.
– I like to put items into groups (ex. electronics, toiletries, hair accessories, socks + underwear, etc.) and then put smaller items into separate compartments and baggies. This makes things easy to find.
– I also pack in the shape of my bag. It’s a little bit like Tetris and you may have to pack and unpack a couple of times to get it right, but once you find a good fit, stick with that for your entire trip. You’ll keep things tidy and always be able to find what you need.
– Once you’ve got everything in place, you’ll be all set for your adventure!

Remember, lovely readers, if at first you don’t succeed, pack and pack again. Packing is a little bit like riding a bike: practice makes perfect and once you get it, you get it.

Next week, I’ll be going over what to put in your carry-on (my favourite bag to pack!!) and my must-haves (a.k.a lifesavers).

Until then, stay well!
Katrina

I wonder, I wander

Hello, all!

I just finished watching this week’s episode of Amazing Race Canada (hilarious, amazing, I’m in love) and I’m suffering from a major case of the travel bug. There’s nothing like a good backpacking trip with a friend or family member – I’m honestly considering signing up to compete next season. Anyone want to partner up?

There are so many reasons to travel – I can’t name all the virtues of traveling in one post but I hope to cover as many as possible throughout the year. You find out so much about the world and about yourself, and you get to encounter so many new things. I’m not very spontaneous or adventurous by nature, but the more I travel, the more open I am trying new things. I’ve been out of my comfort zone in quite a few situations (you can look forward to future blog posts on this) and it’s so incredibly true that those situations make for the best stories. My advice: get out there and go on an adventure!

Travel Snapshots
From top, left to right: Chobe National Park (Botswana), Taj Mahal (Agra, India), Victoria Falls (Zambia), Neuschwanstein Castle (Bavaria, Germany), Colosseum (Rome), Arc de Triomphe (Paris, France), the Golden Temple (Amritsar, India), Metropol Parasol (Seville, Spain), the Grand Canal (Venice, Italy). All photos my own.

How did I get bitten by the travel bug in the first place? My parents are big travellers – we did a lot of family road tripping, summer camping, and winter vacationing to tropical places when I was a kid. Later, I went on trips through school, including a 9-week exchange to Germany when I was in eleventh grade. Living in Germany was a game-changer for me – after exchange, all I wanted to do was travel!

I continued to travel throughout university, going to Ottawa, New York, South Africa, and Zambia on school-related trips. But what I really wanted was to go on a trip with my best friend – something we’d been talking about for years but had never acted on. Both of us had done some significant travelling since our German Exchange experience, but we hadn’t gone on any trips together. It wasn’t until my last year of university that we finally committed – we went on an amazing trip to India, Spain, and Germany right after I graduated (best grad gift ever!). My obsession has started to rub off on my family members, too, so last summer I took my mom and younger cousin, Hayley, backpacking through Europe. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.

Now, it’s safe to say, I’m addicted. I can’t stop. All I want to do is go on another adventure! I’ve made it a habit to visit one new place each year, whether local or international (because it’s also fun to be a tourist in your own city, province, and country!). I don’t know where I’m heading next, but I have a growing list of destinations I’d like to visit.

If you’re looking to plan a trip in the near future, the best way to get started is to set goals. Trust me, setting goals doesn’t take the fun out of anything! Write down all the places you’d like to visit (write it all down – landmarks, cities, countries, etc.), and then set some budget goals. Set aside some funds, look into flight discounts and deals, and dream a little dream. The more you consider where you want to go and what you want to do, the more serious you’ll get about heading out into the great wide yonder. Soon, you’ll be packing that backpack (tips coming soon!) and hopping on a plane.

Where do you want to go next? Send me a tweet @KatrinaSklepo or comment below.

Stay well,
Katrina