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Tag Archives: Travel

Weekend Getaway: Middle Beach Lodge, Tofino BC

You’ll find Middle Beach Lodge at the end of Mackenzie Beach Road in Tofino, BC on Vancouver Island. I headed here a few weeks ago with a group of girlfriends for a much needed weekend of beach walks, food, wine, and relaxation. Tofino is always a perfect weekend getaway destination for friends, a girls getaway or a romantic retreat.

Getting to Tofino

The Pacific Rim Highway to Tofino is twisty and windy and on this particular Friday afternoon, it was raining so hard that I literally drove through waterfalls cascading off the rock walls along the roadside. So depending what time of year you plan to travel to Tofino, be prepared for crazy road and weather conditions.

Coming from downtown Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, the trip took about 4.5 hours. My friends came over on the ferry from Vancouver (a 1.5 hour boat ride), the drive from Departure Bay in Nanaimo taking them approximately 3 hours.

Middle Beach Lodge in Tofino

When I arrived, my friends had already staked their claim to the two couches in the lounge in front of the giant fireplace of the Middle Beach Lodge public lounge. It was cozy and comfortable and when we weren’t out exploring the beach or the town of Tofino, this is where we spent the majority of our time catching up over tea or wine and relaxing. There were several couples at the Lodge, enjoying a romantic storm-watching weekend getaway.

Middle Beach Lodge Garden ViewThe View from Middle Beach Lodge TofinoMiddle Beach Lodge Lounge - Tofino Middle Beach Lodge Lounge View - TofinoDrinking Wine at Middle Beach Lodge

Our rooms at Middle Beach Lodge were small but comfortable. Our adjoining rooms both included a queen bed, in-room sink and vanity and a bathroom with toilet, tub and shower. Perfectly simple with everything we needed. But what really made the room was the view of the ocean and the sound of the crashing waves just outside the window!

A Room at Middle Beach Lodge Tofino

Hello Tofino! I’m so looking forward to spending the long weekend with you!

A photo posted by Mariska Richters (@mariskar) on

Our stay at the Lodge included a continental breakfast, including croissants, cinnamon buns, toast, meat and cheese plate, hard boiled eggs, cereals, yogurt, fruit and more. Plus, of course, your standard coffee and tea. My favourite food part about our stay was the fresh cookies they bake mid-afternoon each day. Deeeelicious! Breakfast at Middle Beach Lodge Breakfast at Middle Beach Lodge 2 We had a mix of weather conditions from stormy wind and rain to clear sunny skies. I highly recommend bringing your rain gear to Tofino any time of year, as it is on the edge of a rainforest on one side and the open ocean on the other. This combination makes the weather unpredictable and susceptible to quick change. If you plan to stay at Middle Beach Lodge, they have a healthy supply of bright yellow rain coats and rubber boots for guests to use during their stay. When we saw this, of course we HAD to wear them! So the four of us traipsed down to the beach in our yellows for a photoshoot!

Oh #Tofino! You impress me! A photo posted by Mariska Richters (@mariskar) on

Trail to Middle Beach TofinoGirls at Middle Beach Tofino 4 Girls at Middle Beach Tofino 1 Girls at Middle Beach Tofino 2 Girls at Middle Beach Tofino 3Girls at Middle Beach Tofino 5Beach Walk at Middle Beach Lodge Tofino

For more information or to make your reservation visit the Middle Beach Lodge website or contact them at 250 725 2900 or toll free 1 866 725 2900 or by email at info(at)middlebeach.com

See more photos of Middle Beach Lodge here and more Middle Beach Photoshoot pics here.

Welcome to Wits End Retreat in Victoria, BC

A while back, we were invited to stay at Wits End Retreat for our first bed and breakfast getaway together. Every aspect of our stay exceeded our expectations! From the location, to the grounds and accommodation to the food, our experience was outstanding!
WitsEndRetreat_FrontGate

The grounds of the B&B are absolutely stunning with perfectly manicured lawns, huge trees, beautiful flower gardens, herb gardens, an organic vegetable garden, fruit trees, a cozy gazebo, fountains and several several garden seating areas throughout the property.

Wits-End-Retreat-grounds Wits-End-Retreat-grounds Wits-End-Retreat-grounds

 

The open concept, garden-view room has a cabin feel with a queen size bed and fireplace on one end and a living space with love seat, comfy chair and coffee table on the other.

WitsEndRetreat-Suite

Wits-End-Retreat-BathroomWits-End-Retreat-Suite

Included with the room was a bottle of wine and cheese plate with crackers, a mini fridge stocked with cold drinks, and the best part: pastries!

Wits-End-Retreat-wine & pastries

Not far from the B&B we discovered a gorgeous white sand beach at Witty’s Lagoon, which completed the vacation feel for us! We were so fortunate with the warm sunny weather during tour stay that it almost felt tropical on the beach.

Wits-End-Retreat-Witty's Lagoon

Our morning breakfast was insanely delicious! Prepared by the chefs of Wits End Catering, we enjoyed poached pears to start followed by eggs benny with incredible local Metchosin sausage. Oh my DELICIOUS!

Wits-End-Retreat-poached pears

Wits-End-Retreat-eggs bennedict

Even though this B&B is only about a twenty minute drive from our home, we felt like we were far far away on a beautiful romantic vacation getaway. It was absolutely perfect!

Thank you to Sandy and Heather for your kindness and generosity and for sharing your little piece of paradise with us! We will most definitely be back for another romantic escape in the future!

I had read some of the glowing TripAdvisor reviews prior to the weekend and our experience fully exceeded my expectations!

You’ll find Wits End Retreat at 517 Witty’s Beach Road, Victoria BC. Make your reservation online or contact them by phone (1 250.474.1066) or email ([email protected]).

 

Take a Ride on the Van Gogh Glowing Bicycle Path

I love night photography. I love to travel. And I LOVE how my fellow Dutch folk come up with so many super fun and inspiring ideas and projects! I’ll be adding the Van Gogh Glowing Bicycle Path my bucket list the next time I head to the Netherlands for a family visit.

The Van Gogh Glowing Bicycle Path

Dutch artist Daan Roosengaarde created the van Gogh glowing bicycle path inspired by Vincent Van Gogh‘s “The Starry Night” painting. The one-kilometre glowing bike path is located in the city of Eindhoven and opened to the public on November 13, 2014. The path forms part of the Van Gogh cycle route that connects the Vincent van Gogh heritage locations in the province of Brabant, where Van Gogh lived.

The path is illuminated by thousands of twinkling stones that feature glow-in-the-dark technology and solar-powered LED lights constructed by Heijmans.

“I wanted to create a place that people will experience in a special way, the technical combined with experience, that’s what techno-poetry means to me,” said Roosengaarde.

Van Gogh Roosengaarde Glowing Bike PathVan Gogh Roosengaarde Glowing Bike PathVan Gogh Roosengaarde Glowing Bike Path Van Gogh Roosengaarde Glowing Bike Path Van Gogh Roosengaarde Glowing Bike Path Van Gogh Roosengaarde Glowing Bike Path Van Gogh Roosengaarde Glowing Bike Path Van Gogh Roosengaarde Glowing Bike Path

Van Gogh 2015

The opening of the cycle path on 13 November marked the start of the Van Gogh 2015 international theme year. In 2015, the 125th anniversary of the death of Vincent van Gogh (Zundert, 30 March 1853 – Auvers-sur-Oise, 29 July 1890) will be commemorated with a comprehensive cultural programme on the theme 125 years of inspiration.

[Tweet “The #VanGogh-Roosengaarde Glowing #Bicycle Path! #BucketList”]

Photo credit: studioroosegaarde.net

I Just Booked My Ticket To Mars!

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m addicted to travel, adventure and photography. So when I saw the opportunity to book a ticket to Mars, I had to jump at it! And I’m taking my niece and nephew with me!

I just booked my ticket to Mars and you can come too!

Well, not exactly….

Every so often Nasa has fun interactive programs to name a star or to send your name to space, I’ve participated in a few over the years. The current campaign is sending names to Mars on the Orion Flight Test with a launching sometime in the December 4 – 6, 2014 launch window.

“NASA’s newest spacecraft, Orion, will be launching into space for the first time in December 2014, on a flight that will take it farther than any spacecraft built to carry humans has gone in more than 40 years and through temperatures twice as hot as molten lava to put its critical systems to the test.” Credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center

This NASA video explains the whole adventure far better than I ever could:

You and your kids can be part of this adventure too by visiting NASA’s website. But HURRY! The deadline is October 31st at midnight (ET).

[Tweet “I just booked my ticket to Mars! You can come too! #NASA #Travel”]

10 Must-Have Travel Apps For iPhone

I like to be organized when I travel to ensure I have a stress-free experience. Thankfully, there are some great travel apps for iPhone to help with this from planning a trip, to being on the ground at the destination, to connectivity with friends and family back home.

So without further ado, here are my 10 Must-Have Travel Apps for iPhone:

      • Must-Have Travel Apps for iPhoneSkyScanner SkyScanner aggregates fares from airlines and the big travel sites to find you the best deal. For the budget traveler, there’s also an option to pin your search to your start screen and keep an eye on price fluctuations.
      • XE Currency Use this free app for all your currency exchange needs while you’re on the road. XE Currency allows you to track multiple currencies at once and uses live currency rates so it’s always accurate.
      • Dropbox I use Dropbox to save all my flight, hotel and insurance information as well as any other travel related documents that I may need to access while on the road. I find this much more convenient and secure than carrying all that paper around with me. I also have my iPhone set up to back up my photos to Dropbox as soon as I connect to wi-fi. This allows for easy organizing, filtering and sharing photos from my laptop later.
      • Google Maps This is one of the most used apps on my iPhone both at home and when I travel to know where I am and where I’m going. If I know I won’t have wi-fi or mobile reception where I’m going, I simply take a screen shot of the map before I head out, just in case.
      • Trip Advisor Use Trip Advisor to check out brutally honest reviews from real people for accommodations, restaurants, activities and attractions. I’ve found this to be extremely useful in finding places that suit my wants and needs, and for avoiding places that are less than adequate. I also leave my own reviews on TripAdvisor from time to time, view my profile here.
        A secondary Trip Advisor app is the Offline City Guide, which pairs suggestions for where to visit, shop, and eat at your destination. Avoid the stress of finding a wi-fi connection by downloading offline maps for your destination. 
      • Google Translate This app was my saviour when traveling in Russia where I didn’t speak the language, nor could I read the alphabet. Simply type in what you want to say and the app will translate it to your language of choice both in text and sound through your iPhone’s speaker.
      • Kindle Don’t weigh down your luggage with books! Download your reading list for Kindle and read them on the iPhone or iPad.
      • YouTube Capture If you like instant upload gratification, use the YouTube Capture to get your travel videos uploaded to YouTube right away. You can record your video directly through the app, or upload videos from your library, edit, add music, a title and video description and then hit upload. Quick and easy! –> Subscribe to my YouTube channel!
      • Instagram If you’re like me, you take a ton of photos when you travel. Use Instagram to share your favourite photos with family, friends and followers. Customize your images using custom filter effects to create beautiful shareable photos. Instagram allows you to share your photos publicly, privately or send your pics directly to a specific user. –> Follow me on Instagram!
      • WhatsApp Messenger This cross-platform messaging app allows you to send messages, photos and video to your friends and family across the globe using wi-fi or your phones data package without any additional international texting charges.

What are some of your favourite travel apps? Please share below.

[Tweet “Simplify your travels with these 10 Must-Have Travel Apps For iPhone – #TravelTips #Apps”]

 

Take a Scenic Tour with Harbour Air

Harbour Air held business card draw at Social Media Camp‘s networking bash this past weekend where winners would win a scenic tour with Harbour Air around Victoria for themselves and a guest. Although I didn’t win the draw, I was invited by two of the winners to join them for this wonderful lunch-hour adventure! Having never been on a float plan before, I was very excited! Led by Turbo the Sea Otter, the winning group traipsed from the Victoria Conference Centre, through the Fairmont Empress Hotel and down to the Harbour Air flight docks in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Turbo made a few new friends along the way. Harbour Air Scenic Flights Harbour Air Scenic Flights Harbour Air Scenic Flights Harbour Air Scenic Flights After some quick photos with Turbo (I kind of have a thing for mascots – I love them!), the pilot led us down to the plane for priority boarding. After watching the safety video for the flight, we were off! Woohoo! Harbour Air Scenic Flights Harbour Air Scenic Flights Harbour Air Scenic Flights Harbour Air Scenic Flight Harbour Air Scenic Flight The flight was incredible! Victoria looked very different from the sky than I imagined it in my mind from driving around the city. We toured the Victoria area for about 30 minutes and enjoyed so many beautiful views, before returning to the Inner Harbour. Harbour Air Scenic Flight Harbour Air Scenic Flight Harbour Air Scenic Flight Harbour Air Scenic Flight Harbour Air Scenic Flight Harbour Air Scenic Flight Harbour Air Scenic Flight Harbour Air Scenic Flight Harbour Air Scenic Flight After taking a closer look at their website, I’ve concluded that Harbour Air is a very convenient way to travel around the West Coast of British Columbia. They fly from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria, to BC’s Gulf Islands and even to up Comox and Whistler. If you’re not interested in the long travel times of ferries and stresses of the road, this is the way to go. With docks at YVR, the Vancouver Harbour and Victoria’s Inner Harbour, it’s the most convenient island hopper I’ve seen, especially for business commuters.

Harbour Air also provides private charters and parcel service. Other scenic tours include flights around Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler, Nanaimo and Seachelt. Learn more at the Harbour Air website.

Sending a huge thank you to @HarbourAirLtd for the lunch-hour adventure, and to @Vancouverscape and @Bars_Bartending for inviting me to join them! It was an awesome way to take my first ever seaplane flight! I highly recommend Harbour Air’s scenic tours to anyone wanting a bird’s eye view of this beautiful place we live in. Yay!

13 Ways To Use A Sarong – An Essential Travel Item

When It comes to packing for a trip, multi-functional items are key to keeping your luggage small and compact for convenient travel. With this in mind, a sarong is an essential item to pack for any trip. It doesn’t matter where I’m going, warm climate or cold, I always pack at least one sarong and it is always well used.

What is a Sarong?

A sarong is a rectangular piece of fabric longer than it is wide, usually found in a variety of colourful prints. Its versatility is what makes it so essential for any trip as well as for day to day use.

Depending where you are in the world, sarongs have many different names. The name “sarong” comes from Indonesia. In Hawaii, they’re called pareos; in Fiji and Tahiti they’re known as lava-lava or sulu; in parts of Africa they’re called kente or kikoy; in Brazil they’re known as canga, and  they have many other names, depending where in the world you are.

Multi-Functional Uses For a Sarong

I’ve used sarongs for many different purposes while traveling, some that I would have never thought of when I first started using them in the 1990’s.

  1. Wear It
    The most common use is to wear it as clothing. There are countless different ways to wear a sarong, from a skirt or dress to a shirt or shorts or even a belt.

    How to wear a sarong

    image source: harpersbazaar.com

  2. Beach or Bath Towel
    Avoid bringing a heavy towel to the beach and bring a sarong instead. If you need to pack a towel when you travel, a sarong is a much lighter option and is far easier to pack, lighter to carry, doesn’t get heavy when it’s wet and it dries quickly.  It’s also a great way to protect yourself from the sun.
  3. Blanket
    Lay it out on the ground for a picnic or wrap it around your shoulders if you get a little chilly. I also use it as a blanket when traveling on air-conditioned planes and busses.
  4. Scarf / Shawl
    For cooler nights or windy/rainy days, use a sarong as a scarf or shawl to keep you warm or to cover your hair if it rains. It is also an easy way to dress up any outfit when you have a limited travel wardrobe.
  5. Cover up
    When visiting temples or places of worship (in Southeast Asia for example), it is required to cover your legs before entering (for both men and women). I always carry a sarong with me, just in case. I’ve ended up spontaneously visiting a temple more than once, and although most temples will have sarongs available for sale or to borrow for a donation, I prefer to use my own.
    Buddhist Temple in Thailand
  6. Bed sheets
    Although most hostels are generally clean, I have used a sarong in sleeping situations where the cleanliness may have been a bit sketchy. If you have two with you, put one on the bottom and one on top, if you only have one, wrap it around yourself before getting into bed.
  7. Pillow
    If your hotel/hostel pillow isn’t puffy enough, or you simply don’t have one, use your sarong. You can wrap some clothes in it to make it extra puffy. I like to use one as a pillow on planes, busses and trains.
  8. Purse – If you find yourself shopping and you don’t have a bag to carry all your purchases home in, tie the corners together into a purse.
  9. Curtain or Divider
    If you’re staying in hostels with shared rooms, use your sarong to create privacy. I’ve also used it to block the windows on buses, trains or cars while in transit.
  10. Packing Separator
    Use it to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes in your backpack or luggage by wrapping your clothes inside it.
  11. Padding
    Wrap your valuables in it while in transit. I’ve used it for my laptop and my camera equipment both to conceal and protect it while moving from one location to the next. It’s also a great way to hide valuables while in public places or hostels.
  1. Emergencies
    No one wants to end up in emergency situations while traveling, but if it happens a sarong can be used as a bandage, sling, tourniquet, or to tie a splint until you can get proper medical attention.
  2. Gifts
    When it’s time to go home, sarongs make great (and inexpensive) gifts to bring back for your friends and family. It is a practical souvenir that will always have a use.

I’ve collected many sarongs over the years and I’m still coming up with new creative uses all the time. I don’t only use them when I travel, but around the house as well. They are not only are they useful for us ladies, but they are equally practical for the men out there too. Don’t be shy boys, wear a sarong!

How do you use your sarong? Please share in the comments below.

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I’m Going to Tobago!

Well… not just yet… but with your help, we can make it happen!

The first step is complete: Application for #60Days in Paradise submitted!!

#TobaGOtime

The Job

If (when!!) I get hired, my job will be to go to the island of Tobago, stay in beautiful hotels, eat fancy food (and sample tasty drinks), do all kinds of awesome activities, learn about the culture, meet the locals, take LOTS of photos and videos of all of it, and then tell you guys (and the rest of Canada) all about it! Oh, and did I mention it would be all expenses paid PLUS salary?! (Whaaaaat?!!!)

I fully agree with my wonderful friend Dave who said I’m “tailor made for this gig!”

So please peruse my application and add your recommendation at the bottom if you think I have what it takes to get this job done!

Where is Tobago?

Tobago is one of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It is located in the southern Caribbean Sea just outside the hurricane belt. The island lies northeast of Trinidad and southeast of Granada, off the southern coast of Venezuela.

Tobago on Google Maps

What Will I do in Tobago?

With a rich history and a ton of activities and eco-tourism options, there is something for everyone on this beautiful tropical paradise and I want to do it ALL!

  • Scuba Diving, Sailing, Surfing, Wake Boarding, Fishing
  • Hiking, Bird Watching, & Eco-Tourism including one of the Oldest Protected Rainforests in the world
  • Golf, Beaches, Pools & Spas
  • Great Food and Tasty Cocktails (mmm!)
  • Local Art and Music, Jazz Festivals and Local Art

And much much more!  

Tobago Beach

I’ll need your vote between April 21st and May 16th

The application process closes April 4th. A group of travel professionals will then choose the top 10 applicants and then the voting process happens between April 21st and May 16th. Please keep your clicketty/tappetty finger ready to submit your vote! (It’s still unclear if it will be a one-time or daily voting process, but either way I will need YOUR HELP to spread the word.)

So stay tuned and please share with everyone you know (!!) cuz I know we are all imagining ourselves on a tropical beach as we wait for our (short) Canadian summer to arrive. I have selflessly volunteered because one of us should really go do it so that the rest can live vicariously… Hehehe! ; )

Follow Me so you don’t miss a moment of the action:

Facebook – http://facebook.com/mariskarichtersphotography
Twitter – http://twitter.com/mariskar
Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/mariskar
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Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/mariskarichters
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Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/mariskar/
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariskarichters
Vine – https://vine.co/mariskar

Thank you!

Sending big love and gratitude to you all in advance for your vote and support!

With your help I can get to Tobago and share the adventure with Canada and the world! It all starts when you leave your recommendation here!

It’s #TobaGOtime!

 

9 Things I’ve Learned From Solo Travel

My first solo travel adventure was a 3-month backpacking trip around Europe when I was 21. I set my budget goal and worked hard to meet it, and within 6 months I was on a plane. It was the craziest (and scariest) thing I had ever done and it felt invigorating!

Since then, thanks to that experience, I’ve traveled solo all over the world and I’ve learned so much about myself and life through my experiences, and I wanted to share some that with you.

1. Take the Leap!

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao-tsu

The first step is always the hardest. Waiting for the perfect timing, or the perfect circumstances, or the perfect travel companion will have you waiting a VERY long time! In the end the initial leap is up to you. Choose your moment and jump! Your choice and the actions that follow will bring all the right things into your life. Once you make the commitment, the rest will fall into place.

Costa Rican Sunset 2013

2. Always trust your gut. Always.

Your intuition is your best friend in life, especially when you’re on the road in unfamiliar territory. It will tell you when something isn’t quite right. When you’re traveling and you don’t speak the language, and you don’t know anybody, your intuition is your best friend. It will keep you out of uncomfortable situations, away from shady characters and hopefully tip you off when someone is trying to rip you off. Trust it! 

When I took that first solo trip to Europe I took a detour to Morocco. When I dismbarked from the ferry I was approached by an 17-year-old kid who offered to tour me around the Tangiers. Despite my insistence that I didn’t need (or want) a guide, he followed me around for two hours while I waited for my bus out of town. I had this uncomfortable feeling and as I went to board the bus he pulled a knife, saying that I owed him money for the “tour.” Whaaaaaat?!! I wasn’t going to pay someone for creepily following me around for 2 hours! Thank goodness the bus driver was nearby! He instructed me to board the bus and he handled my “tour guide.” I’ve trusted that uncomfortable feeling ever since.

Follow your gut instincts

3. You Can Only Truly Count on Yourself.

Everyone is on their own path, and you cannot expect others to understand or follow yours. There are always reasons (excuses?) that stop people from taking that initial leap. If I had waited for others I would have missed out on so many experiences. I’ve learned that I can’t rely on others to fulfill my own dreams. All I can do is believe in myself to create the life that I envision and live it.

4. Fear Is Part of the Deal.

Traveling alone is scary! But my theory is that if you’re not scared you’re doing it wrong. If you’re not scared then you’re not playing a big enough game. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone and go somewhere you’ve never been. It takes a brave person to be able to venture into the unknown, especially on your own. These are the opportunities where you will learn the most about yourself and grow. Don’t let your fears stop you from having an incredible life! Get out of your own way and FACE those fears. You will surprise yourself when you realize there was actually nothing to be afraid of, and you will feel a sense of pride for what you’ve accomplished.

Diving in Thailand

5. I’m Not Running Away!

I always let myself believe that travel was my way of running away from real life. I’ve come to realize that I was never running away from anything, but instead I’ve been running TOWARD a dream! I’m creating an incredible life with every step, every flight and every new place I explore, and new person I meet. I’m seeing the world and experiencing new things and photographing it all! I’m living a life that so many only dream of and I’m so grateful for the choices I’ve made to make it all possible.

6. Roll With It.

Travel always comes with frustrations and mishaps.  No trip or adventure is ever perfect. The unexpected happens and things will not always go as planned. There’s no point in getting upset when it happens though. Getting upset isn’t going to make it go away, it will only frustrate you and affect your experience and your memories of it.

I’ve had my share of travel mishaps including lost luggage in Russia, food poisoning in Indonesia, and floods delaying trains in Thailand. These things used to stress me out, but I’ve learned to roll with it. Getting upset isn’t going to get my luggage to me any faster, get the food poisoning through my system any quicker, or make the floods clear the tracks any sooner. I’ve learned to adjust my plans and make the best of unexpected situations over which I have no control. And, surprisingly, I’ve found that these adjusted plans tend to make for some amazing adventures and the best travel stories! 

7. You Will Get Lonely, but You’re Never Alone.

Traveling solo isn’t always sunshine and lollipops, and can be lonely at times. Sure, I’ve met some wonderful people along the way, but at the end of the day everyone goes their own way. It can get lonely when you have no one to share the experiences with, no one to have those “remember when” conversations with, and no one to share your meals or a cocktail with. But loneliness comes and goes. When this feeling hits, I remind myself that I’ve chosen to be where I am, to live a dream that inspires and excites me. How many people can honestly say that?

We have so many tools at our fingertips (eg. Skype, Facetime and Facebook) that staying connected while on the road is super easy. I travel with a laptop and an iPhone and most hostels and hotels have free wifi, so when loneliness hits I hit up the internet and the next thing I know I’m enjoying a glass of wine and a laugh with a friend.

Elephant Nature Park, Thailand

8. Follow Your Heart.

If you have a sudden inspiration to do something, DO IT! Don’t wait! Set the wheels in motion! Don’t allow yourself to come up with all sorts of reasons (excuses?) not to do it. I’ve had many regrets as a result of those internal conversations talking me out of doing something, usually leading to a lot of “what-ifs” and missed opportunities.

The way I look at it now is that if I’m in an amazing place with a chance to do something that I will likely not have again (like zip-lining through the Costa Rican rainforest, or diving the Blue Hole in Belize, or playing in the river with elephants in Thailand, or hiking a waterfall barefoot in Bali), then I’m going to do it! Who knows if I’ll ever be back in these places for a second chance? If I have the inspiration and opportunity to do something, I do it! It reduces regrets, leaves me with a lot less “what-ifs,” and a lot more wonderful memories and stories.

9. “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can conceive.” ~ Napoleon Hill

My recent trip to Russia proved this to me when I was successful in raising the funds for the trip through a Kickstarter campaign for the Olympic Spirit Project. I raised $7300 in 25 days! It took a lot of work , cold calling and self promotion, but it was all worth it because it got me to Russia for the 2014 Olympics! I have proven to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. All it takes is the decision and commitment to do it and then put in the effort to make it happen. 

If you have a dream, chase it! You will come up with all sorts of reasons why it won’t work, but you need to focus on the reasons that it WILL work. If you can come up with the idea, and envision yourself making it real, then you can. It’s really that simple. Then you set the wheels in motion and the universe will deliver what you need.

It’s not going to be easy, but I promise you it will be worth it! 

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What lessons have you learned from your travels?

The Sochi Flu Smacked Me With a Sidewalk

I had heard from a few people about the Sochi Flu when I arrived, and when I woke up on Day 3 I was not impressed to feel a bit of a tickle in my throat. I was relieved when it went away in the first few hours of the day, but then on the ride back to the Coastal Cluster after my first day in the mountains I started to feel my head stuff up and the sore throat returned. Noooooo!!!!

I still hadn’t received my luggage, so didn’t have any preventative meds, and when I returned from the mountain it became clear that I was going to get full blown sick. The mountain bus dropped me at the Olympic Park and it would take about a half hour to get back to my hotel from there. With every step I took I could feel the flu taking over my body. (I hadn’t been sick in several years, so it figures that it would happen now, of all times, while I was in Russia! Grrr!)

After a train ride and another bus ride I had a 15 minute walk ahead of me, during which I stopped at a corner store to pick up some bottled water and snacks. It started to rain, and of course I didn’t have my umbrella with me (it was in my luggage), so I proceeded to get soaked.

Bruised KneesWhen I was about 5 minutes away from my hotel, I tripped and fell HARD on both knees on the now mucky sidewalk. The stuff I had just bought flew all over the place, my only pair of pants were now covered in mud and the white maple leaf on the palms of my Canada mittens were now covered in mud.

That was it. I had held it back until that moment. Tripping was the last straw. I collapsed on the ground and felt my eyes fill with tears of frustration. This was not how I pictured my awesome day ending!

I sat there for about half a minute in disbelief that this had just happened when a lovely Russian man ran up and started to pick up my strewn “groceries” and despite my insisting that it wasn’t necessary, he carried it back my hotel for me in the pouring rain. I thanked him saying “spasibo“, and gave him a Canadian Olympic pin, a hug and an appreciative (but disheartened) smile before going inside.

When I got to my room I changed out of my wet muddy clothes into one of my borrowed t-shirts and searched my stuff for a bandaid. I found a few in my carry-on luggage (thank goodness!) and applied one to my bleeding knee before collapsing into bed with hopes that some sleep would encourage the Sochi Flu to pass me by.

Every travel adventure comes with its share of frustrations and mishaps, and I was happy to leave the past couple of hours behind me. I closed my eyes and went to sleep looking forward to waking up to a new day of new possibilities.

 What mishaps have you experienced while traveling? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.