All fun, all the time

Minicards collageHello wanderers!

I’m starting something new to get the word out about Hopeless Wanderer and I’m being totally sneaky about it (it’s fun!). I’ve gone around the city and placed cute little mini cards at various spots travel enthusiasts (you!) frequent (think, the travel section in bookstores, etc.). I encourage you to go forth and find these mini cards (examples of what they look like are in the image above!), snap a picture, and then tell me about the travel destinations on your bucket list on Twitter and Instagram (follow me @KatrinaSklepo). I want to hear from you! Life is more fun that way. Get your scavenger hunting on – I can’t wait to hear about where you want to go next. You never know, maybe I’ll work your suggestions into my summer travel plans.

There’s also a contest coming your way soon (#WanderlustWednesdays! Get excited!) so make sure to keep up with the blog for opportunities to enter to win a prize. All fun, all the time.

Here are some of the destinations on my European bucket list right now – are any of these spots on your list?

  1. Split, Croatia. Waterfalls, beaches, Game of Thrones…enough said.
  2. Ljubljana, Slovenia. City of Dragons – yes please!
  3. Bled, Slovenia. This might just be the most picturesque lake in the world.
  4. Cinque Terre. Five gorgeous villages on the Italian coast.
  5. Santorini, Greece. I have yet to visit Greece and I’ve always wanted to go!

Where to next? Okay, go.

Until next time, stay well!
Katrina

What not to do: on a long flight

What Not to Do on a Long Flight title page

Hi wanderers!

Continuing on with the Wanderlust + Heart and Hopeless Wanderer blog collab, this week I’m going to run through what not to do on a long flight. I’ve had a lot of experience with airplanes, airlines, and flights of all kinds (some provide the cutest mini wine bottles, it’s adorable), so I’ve got a lot of advice for you!

Winter has finally hit Winnipeg (comedian Kevin Hart landed in the middle of a blizzard!), and a lot of us are already dreaming of summer (if you’re really aching for some sunshine and beach time, check out this list of tropical vacation destinations!). If you’re thinking ahead to warmer days and flights to exotic destinations, these tips on what not to do on a long flight will be a big help.

  1. Do not forget to sleep
    • I’m not a nervous flier but I tend to get a little wired when I travel – it’s hard not to get excited when you know you’re embarking on an adventure! My best advice for flying, though, is to make sure that you rest. If you’re flying internationally, you may have several  flights, long layovers, and stressful connections, and you’ll want to be well rested to tackle those situations. Flying can also mess with your natural sleeping rhythm (jet lag is definitely a thing), so it’s important to rest up and use those flying hours as sleeping hours.
  2. Do not wear uncomfortable clothing
    • This is key. Not everyone can step off a plane à la Miranda Kerr – her off-duty style tops even my best days. If you’ve got a long flight ahead of you (or several!), I recommend going full comfort. Airport security isn’t high heel-friendly, and cold airplane air isn’t summer dress-friendly, so make sure you dress for the flight, not the destination. You can always change into a different outfit upon arrival (just pack it in your carry on!). Opt for a more cozy outfit (like Kendall Jenner) – you won’t regret it.
  3. Do not just sit there!
    • I learned this lesson the hard way. I had one 16-hour continuous flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Atlanta, Georgia, and I really didn’t anything but sleep and watch movies – really, what else is there to do but sit? I know airplanes are confined spaces and there isn’t much room to move around, but I highly recommend getting up at least once an hour – walk to the washroom, walk up and down the aisles, do a little stretch break between cabins. Just do something, no matter how silly you feel! Your legs will thank you – my legs were so swollen after that 16-hour flight that they were sore for almost two weeks.
  4. Do not be mean to the flight attendants
    • Flight attendants are your friends. Be friendly and kind, and they will return the favour! If you’re an easy passenger, they’ll make your experience much better.
  5. Do not be a crappy seat mate
    • Don’t be a grump. Don’t take up more space than you need to. Don’t make a mess with your food. Don’t turn your music up super loud. Basically, be a nice human. I have met such nice people while flying! If your seat mates are willing, chat with them and get to know them. You don’t have to become best friends, but you’ll want to be comfortable with them for 6+ hours you’re on a flight with them.
  6. Do not forget to drink water
    • Remember when my legs got really swollen on that 16-hour flight? Well, part of the reason for that was because I wasn’t moving around or stretching my legs – but the other part of that was not drinking enough water. Flying is extremely dehydrating – common side-effects of flying are dry skin, sore throat, and chapped lips for me! All signs of not consuming enough water. Airplane food is also notoriously salty – that salt, combined with dry/stale airplane air, makes for an unhappy body. Take care of yourself and drink water throughout the flight.
  7. Do not ignore your body clock
    • Similar to my advice about getting rest while you fly, make sure you also pay attention to your body clock and give it time to adjust to new time zones. A great way to prep for a new time zone and avoid jet lag is by taking along some melatonin – melatonin is a natural hormone that helps control sleep and wake cycles and can help fend off bad sleeping habits while travelling.
  8. Do not binge watch
    • Give your brain and your eyes a break! Bring alternative forms of entertainment when flying – I always pack a book, an iPod (great for music and games), a magazine, and a puzzle book (sudoku or crosswords are my go-to). If you’re travelling with a friend, chat with them! Play a game with them – no shame bringing a pack of cards. This will help prevent zombie-ism.
  9. Do not leave your headphones at home
    • And by headphones, I mean those of the noise-cancelling variety. You don’t realize how loud airplanes can be until you try a pair of these – they’ll save you some ear- and headaches (and save your hearing in the long run). These also come in handy when flying with crying babies (no offence, babies! I know you’re tired and yes, you’re very cute, but your screams are shattering my ear drums!). Trust me, get a pair of these and you won’t regret it!
  10. Do not be nervous!
    • Flying isn’t for everyone and that’s okay! You’re surrounded by strangers in a confined space, travelling at extremely high altitude at supersonic speed – it’s not natural and can be hard on your body. That being said, it can also be exciting. Relax and get comfy – your adventure is about to begin!

Not planning on flying anywhere anytime soon? No problem – Winnipeg was just named one of National Geographic Traveler’s top 20 travel destinations in 2016, the only Canadian city to make the cut!! If that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is. It may be snowy here, but we have good people and lots of great things to do. I ❤ Winnipeg.

Make sure to check out Elizabeth’s post next week on Wanderlust + Heart as she explores what not to do when travelling with a buddy. I’ll be back with more fun tips, too!

Until then, stay well!
Katrina

Everyday I’m Journalin’

journals

Hi all,

Journaling is this neat little therapeutic exercise some people partake in on a regular basis – it helps them process complicated situations and complex feelings, solve problems, interpret dreams, and probably most often, encapsulate memories.

I am a terrible diary-keeper. If anyone wants to know my secrets, they’ll have to ask me directly, because I’ve never been able to keep a steady journal going. I’ve gotten through a day or two of consecutive writing, but I always end up losing discipline and my journal inevitably falls by the wayside.

The reason I bring up journaling is because it is a super handy practice to have while traveling! It’s also a practice I don’t have – but wish I did! Don’t get me wrong, I always bring a little pocket notebook along when I travel because it’s useful to have, but I rarely keep an actual travelogue.

You might be wondering, then, how I know journaling to be useful. Well, I had the pleasure of keeping a journal as part of a school assignment while in South Africa – and now, friends, I know what I’m missing when I don’t keep one. There’s no better way to preserve memories and thoughts than by writing down your reflections as they happen. Now, I’m not saying that journaling trumps photography – I know photos can do a lot to capture where you’ve been (I love my travel pics!) – but it’s an entirely different experience to go back and read your travel journal than to flip through a photo album (both equally fun!).

I’ll be honest, I kind of forgot about my South Africa journal until I was cleaning out my room this summer. I am quite obsessed with stationary and have a collection of pretty journals that are rather untouched – but one was more used and worn than its fellows. I remembered this journal as the one I had along with me in South Africa and began to skim – in no time, an hour had gone by. Wow, what an experience to relive a trip from four years ago – the journal brought back so many memories and experiences I had forgotten.

I went to South Africa with a group of graduate and undergraduate students, and at the end of our trip, one member of the group decided to combine photos and quotes from our journals to create a photo book. Honestly, I have never had  a more precious keepsake from a trip!

If you’re planning a trip in the near future, I highly recommend keeping a journal or travel blog – trust me, you won’t ever regret having a record of what you’ve done and where you’ve been.

What else can your journal do for you?
So, you aren’t as in to keeping a diary when you travel? That’s okay! Travel journals come in handy regardless of how you use them. I always bring along a little journal when I travel because that’s where I keep a list of emergency contacts, passport info, embassy info, flight itineraries, useful websites, and a list of expenses (handy for Customs at the end of the trip!). I’ve also met people who glue city maps into their journals so that if technology fails them, they have a back-up at the ready (brilliant!).

Where can you get one of these fancy journals?
You don’t have to go far to find a good journal to bring along. Chapters and McNally Robinson each have an excellent selection (the journals in the pic above are all from Chapters). I’m also #obsessed with Tiny Feast and Rifle Paper Co.

Tiny Feast's gift guide for travellers. Amazing.
Tiny Feast’s gift guide for travellers. Amazing.
My amazing colleagues at Career Trek gifted me with this lovely set of Rifle Paper Co. notebooks from Tiny Feast before I went back to school this past September. They know me well.
My amazing colleagues at Career Trek gifted me with this lovely set of Rifle Paper Co. notebooks from Tiny Feast before I went back to school this past September. They know me well.

Have you ever kept a journal on your travels? Hit me up on social or write a comment below. I love when you share your travel stories with me!

Until next week, stay well!
Katrina

The Essentials

Travel Essentials

Hey travellers!

Over the past two weeks, I’ve covered some packing tips and tricks of mine – we’ve gone over how to pack a backpack for extended travel, and what to bring in your carry on. Today, we’re looking at what my “must-haves” are – those essentials I can’t leave home without.

Packing Guide Part 3: The Essential “Must-Haves”

An over-prepared (and often overpacked!) traveller is a happy traveller – I know I suggested taking away five items (or more, if you’re like me) when packing your luggage, but I will say that being over-prepared isn’t necessarily a bad thing! I may take away a few luxury clothing items (I’m certainly a culprit of bringing along clothes I only wear once, or not at all – I’ve gotten better, I promise!), but some items are non-negotiable.

Here’s what I recommend bringing every time you travel – you never know when these items may come in handy!

  • International travel adapter for electronics – even if you’re just road-trippin’ through your province or state, it’s handy to have one along. Adapters often have extra USB outlets, allowing you to plug in multiple iThings, even if you’ve forgotten the correct adapters. If you’re travelling internationally, you’ll need one of these so that you don’t fry your electronic devices. Make sure you check that you have the correct converters along before you head out (for example, my adapter doesn’t have the correct outlet for South Africa, so I had to take a separate adapter along). That being said, you can always pick up additional adapters in airports or electronics stores once you arrive at your destination.
  • A fast-drying towel – my favourite brand is PackTowel but Norwex also has a similar product that works super well. It’s so worth it to have one of these along! They pack flat, don’t take up a lot of space, and dry quickly so that you don’t have to worry about damp and musty yuckiness.
  • A raincoat – again, worth it! Even if the forecast is predicting sunny skies and balmy temps, things can change on a dime. I always have one rolled up at the bottom of my bag, just in case – I have a model from MEC that rolls up into its hood for a nice, compact fit and it’s been a lifesaver.
  • A small cross-body/clutch purse –  I always pack a little purse for those days that I don’t want to lug around my backpack or giant purse. I like a bag that can be converted from clutch/wristlet to cross-body because they’re super versatile and great for going out.
  • Comfortable walking shoes – so necessary. Whether you’re on business travel or a casual getaway, it’s important to have shoes you can last in for an extended amount of time. My advice: don’t travel with brand new shoes – allow for time to wear shoes in advance to swear off blisters and ensure that the shoes you’re bringing along are, in fact, comfortable. Otherwise, you’re wasting valuable space in your bag AND hurting your feet – no fun!
  • Laundry detergent and stain remover – I always have travel-sized laundry soap (I’m obsessed with CampSuds – biodegradable, gentle, super concentrated, and environmentally friendly, you can use this stuff anywhere and it lasts forever) and stain-remover (Tide to go is perfect) along to wash delicates and anything that may need immediate cleaning. All you need is a sink, water, and some soap to keep your clothing clean and fresh.
  • Pouches – I like to separate groups of items by packing them in different  pouches. This ensures that I can find things quickly when I’m in a rush and it keeps things neat and tidy in my bag. I also pack along Ziploc bags to separate my liquids (keeps messes to a minimum if there are accidental spills) and garbage bags for dirty shoes, laundry, and wet items.
  • A first-aid kit – You never know when a blister might pop up or when clumsy feet might cause a tumble – when it comes to your health, you can’t be over prepared. I always pack a little travel-sized first-aid kit in my bag. Pro tip: stick a few safety pins in one of these babies and you’ll be prepared for anything.
  • Disinfectant – I typically pack a travel-sized Lysol spray (AMAZING for dirty public toilets that freak you out – so reassuring to know you’ve sanitized!) and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
  • Makeup Remover Wipes – these are made for travelling and being on the go. They’re great for flying and for camping – Wet Ones are a great substitute and I also have friends who rely on baby wipes.
  • Toilet Paper and Tissues – at the minimum, never leave home without some tissue!!!! I can’t stress this enough – you never know when some toilet paper may come in handy. You will NOT regret being prepared. I came across travel-sized toilet paper rolls from Charmin and I always pack a roll.
  • A journal – Not only can you store important info like medical numbers, international consulates, maps, hotel/train/flight info, a photocopy of your passport, and emergency contact numbers in your journal to have with you at all times (especially if something gets lost or technology fails you), but you can also write down your memories! I am not the journaling type – the only time I actually “journaled” on a trip was for a class assignment when I was in South Africa (more on this in a future post!) but I can’t tell you how much I value having those experiences and memories written down. I recommend that everyone take a journal along and jot things down!
  • Multipurpose makeup – save space and take all you need in a compact travel palette! So many brands have come out with amazing travel-sized palettes (many available at Sephora). One of the most versatile value sets on the market right now is Urban Decay’s Naked On The Run set – it includes mascara, eyeliner, bronzer, blush, highlighter, lipgloss, and eye shadow – everything you need for day-to-night looks in a super tiny package. Convenient and pretty!

These items are necessities in my books – some of you may have more items on your list and some of you may have less, but it’s a good idea to write down your must-haves and make sure you have them on hand for you next big adventure. What’s on your must-have list? Post a comment, send me a tweet, or hit me up on Facebook – I love hearing from you!

Until next week, 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