From boats to balloons, Hawaii to hotels, these are ten of our most memorable travel experiences in ten years of blogging.
"But really... what's your favourite place?" "So where should I go next year?" "Well there must be some place you didn't like."
After ten years of blogging, I hear questions like this all the time. Alas, dear reader, I am horrible with these queries. If you need someone to weigh in on finding pizza in Bruges or the quality of food tours in Quebec City, I am your girl. But sweeping generalizations are not my strong point. I can tell you about some destinations I didn't like - but I'd also have to get into how I slept funny the night before and skipped breakfast and honestly, that's probably what made me dislike Istanbul on my first visit (for the record, I love it now). The reverse also holds true. I'm convinced that an unexpectedly stellar hotel and accompanying breakfast factor into my long standing enthusiasm for Athens as the spot everyone should visit next.
That leaves the biggest question of all, my favourite place. People seem to think it's a bit of a cop out if I try to explain about how sometimes the most memorable trips aren't the most fun in the moment, or that the things that made me love a trip had less to do with the particular destination and more with other factors in my life. So sometimes I just name Hawaii as my favourite destination but this is what feels like the real cop out to me. Like, a decade spent travelling and writing about the world and my best answer is the one place that has long been established as the most desirable destination? Surely I can do better than that?
And that is exactly what I'm going to attempt here. These are ten of my most memorable travel experiences and destinations after ten years of blogging. I'm not going to go so far as to rank them or even say that they're my definitive top ten travel moments. These are simply the stories that flood my heart with happy remembrances and what they all have in common is that I invariably thought at some point that I truly have the best job in the world. And I do!
After ten years of being a travel blogger, I've learned some important travel lessons - and I bet you can relate to all of them. From toilets to temperature control, these are the ten things I know for sure about travel.
I like to pretend that this photo represents me at my best as a travel blogger. I'm crumpled, dusty, and sunburned, clearly exhausted as I slump in the back of a Land Rover, a water purification bottle within easy reach. It's the kind of photo that suggests I could be fatigued from any number of glamorous, travel blogger-y tasks. Maybe I was up at dawn to interview a farmer or worked through the night to "research" local liqueurs. It definitely doesn't suggest that my stomach is churning from the bumpy, twisting road or that I'd sell my soul for a working toilet. And most travel images are like that. There can be a lot of irksome truths behind soothing composition.
After ten years of travel blogging, I've learned a thing or two about what a photo really says and a whole lot about what travel is truly like. I've picked up a lot of hard earned wisdom in this job and I'm here to share my biggest lessons. After a decade of jaunting and jetting, this is what I know for sure about travel.
Updated in 2023! These snug bookstores are well worth travelling to! Discover more than 30 of the world's cutest, coziest bookstores.
Is there anything that rivals a bookstore when it comes to that perfect combination of smooth paper, fragrant coffee, and superb people watching? I think not! Bookstores are such a snug, warm, homey way to settle into a new destination and learn what the locals are reading, drinking, and talking about. They're the perfect spot for when you want a quiet moment, yet also ideal when you want noise, hustle, and bustle. There's no other word for it: Bookstores are cozy.
Some of my best cozy travel memories are set in bookstores, like the rainy day I visited the now-closed Mainly Murder in Cork, Ireland, to get some recommendations for an on-the-road mystery. Or my frequent visits to the Maneno Bookshop in Lilongwe, Malawi, where I gorged on every available Jeffery Deaver thriller to help pass the time during quiet nights on the road. I'm not alone in my love of these cushy, intimate, cheerful spots either. Several of my travel blogging friends feel the exact same way about bookstores and they have kindly shared some of their personal recommendations for the best bookstores around the world.
So go turn on the kettle and get ready to settle in with a hot drink. Here are more than 30 cozy bookstores from around the world to inspire your next travel adventure.
Looking for affordable things to do in Portland, Maine? My list focuses on posh treats that are all under $20!
Some links within this blog post are affiliate links, which means we are paid a small commission should you make a purchase . I was in Portland for the Women in Travel Summit and some of these experiences were the result of tours which were included in my conference registration fees.
Portland, Maine, is the kind of budget-friendly small city that frugal travelers such as myself are thrilled to explore. With a gorgeous ocean front location, compact streets which are easy to explore, and plenty of low cost attractions, you get great bang for your buck here. And if you want to feel a bit spoiled, you don't have to break the bank. I've got five sumptuous, luxurious, feel-like-a-millionaire things to do in Portland, Maine, that all ring in under $20. In fact, some are even FREE! Get ready to indulge!
In Ellicottville, New York, one of the most popular ski destinations in the United States, I faced my own mountain challenge.
Participation in the press trip that brought me to Ellicottville was part of the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) conference. This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through said link, we'll be paid a small commission and we thank you for your support.
If you love watching CSI marathons as much as I do, you'll no doubt have picked up on a particular habit of shift supervisor Gil Grissom. When the introverted, cerebral, bookish Grissom needs to unwind, he heads to one of Las Vegas' spectacular roller coasters and lets the breakneck speeds and thrilling loops clear his head.
Like Grissom, I too love bees and books (dead bodies, not so much...) Could I possibly love roller coasters as well?
The answer is a resounding NO! If you follow my Facebook page, you'll know that roller coasters are one of the many "nope" activities for me. Bungee jumping, hang gliding, mountain climbing, roller coasters - they're all "nopes". They terrify me!
But what about a mountain coaster?
I should have been on vacation but I couldn't stop thinking about the next big thing to share with you. If you've dreamed about a travel scarf with pockets, you're going to love this post!
What does summer vacation look like for a travel blogger? Probably a lot like it looks for everyone else! First, there are plenty of indulgent snack foods (hello there, poutine, ice cream, and popsicles). Next, there's a lot of laziness and lounging about in the sun, enjoying the breeze and watching the leaves ripple on the trees. There's even a good amount of time hanging out by the shore, collecting feathers and shells, and generally being thrilled to put social media on snooze.
Of course, there's also the unexpected rain - but we'll get to that in a moment!
This year, our summer vacation brought us to Craigleith Provincial Park for four nights of southern Ontario camping. Ryan and I stuffed our car with camping gear, beer, extra beach towels (but no pillows.... not our finest moment), a backpack brimming with books, magazines, and board games - and, of course, our dog, Oliver! Aside from the pillows, just one thing was missing and this one was intentional. My laptop was left at home and I couldn't have been happier!
But while I had officially banished work, I couldn't turn off the blogging side of my brain. Case in point: while camping, I was able to try out an incredible travel scarf with pockets, something I've been enamored with ever since I first heard about it. And I couldn't wait to tell you all about it! An infinity scarf with pocket features has been on my travel wish list for a while now. Originally I had visions of cuddling around the campfire in a chic scarf, looking glamorous while keeping my phone and keys safe, but Mother Nature delivered a heck of a rain storm that really let me put things to the test.
Check out our video showing just how gorgeous Ontario camping at Craigleith Provincial Park really is - on clear days and stormy ones alike! Then read on to learn more about my new favourite travel scarf (and enter to win one for yourself....)
What's the secret to minimalist packing? Maximizing the space in your bag by using straps and paracord, the stealthy workhorses of the travel world.
Five shirts - never four, never six - some brightly colored packing cubes, a couple of hot chocolate sachets... You probably know my minimalist packing list as well as I do! But there are a few items among my otherwise discerning selection of gear that may just catch you by surprise. One of them is a stick of menthol body glide. It keeps blisters and chaffed skin at bay. Another random addition is the handful of colorful pens I always toss in my purse at the very last minute. After all, you can't have ill-coordinated lists, even when traveling! And the most unexpected item of all? Rope.
Yes, this light packing, anti-adventurist gal carries rope in her backpack. Well, not rope exactly, but, depending on the trip, webbing, straps, and paracord might come along! No, I haven't secretly taken up mountain climbing or hang-gliding or even off the grid camping. Can you imagine? Yet this unusual gear is one of the unsung heroes of my packing success. And with our incredible round-the-world trip looming on the horizon, it is going to be more important than ever before.
In 2013, we created the most incredible reward trip with Aeroplan, circling the globe with Star Alliance. And in 2018 we're doing it again!
TurnipseedTravel debuted nearly six years ago (and does anyone else remember our very first green and grey template?). Nearly 18 months later, that debut became a fully fledged launch when Ryan and I took our readers along for the journey of a lifetime.
We cashed in all our points for what was technically a trip to Australia but instead embarked on an amazing round-the-world trip fueled entirely by Aeroplan. See, we had learned about all the reward flight loopholes needed to "hack" our travel plans and create a mini round the world trip with Star Alliance partners. With stops in Europe, Asia, North America (and, of course, Australia), we had 9 flight segments on Star Alliance flights (and visited about 15 different locations) and paid about $300 each for taxes and fees. As you can tell from our nostalgic photos, thanks to Aeroplan, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Or so we thought....
Do you have the world's shortest London layover- but cling to big travel dreams? Here's how you can see London in three hours or less. Update in 2023.
Have you ever dreamed of being transported to another country for even just a few hours? How amazing would it be to wake up to breakfast in Paris or close the day with a nightcap in Rio? I love long trips, but there's also an intoxicating allure to the whirlwind visit, getting just a tantalizing taste of what a city has to offer. And lately, I've been thinking about the flavors of London. Specifically an ultra-short London layover.
I have a good friend who we'll refer to as Graeme (because that is in fact his name!) who recently did just that. He had a super short London stopover while on route to another European city. A layover so short that we even pondered if it was worth his time to leave the airport at all! In general, I rarely recommend layovers where you have less than 4 hours of leisure time but such sensible practicalities are lost on a wild soul like Graeme, who was determined to see London for the very first time.
And now Graeme isn't the only traveler I know who's embracing a lickety-split layover in London - my friend Valerie is considering it too! So if Graeme and Val sounds just like you and you have a devil-may-care approach to layovers - or if you simply have extremely limited free time to see the city on a business trip - here's what you can do in London when you have just three hours, plus a few options to extend your day if you have five to six hours.
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