Every trip is unique but this one is truly like nothing else we've ever done.
If you've been following along on our social media channels, you'll know we have been stirring the travel pot and have a big trip to Europe in the works. And I mean BIG! This is officially the longest amount of time that we've been on the road together. Five weeks is nothing to sneeze at!
Long time readers might remember that we talked about doing this trip back in the fall of 2015 but for a number of reasons we just had to postpone things. They might also remember that the letter "S" figures prominently - Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland! We swear, this is just a coincidence (...... or is it......?)
As we make our way through an alphabet's worth of countries, we can't wait to have you all along for the ride. Here are five neat things you need to know about our five week trip.
Are hostel showers gross? No! Or, at the very least, usually not. This is what you need to know about showering in hostels. Updated 2023.
I dare any traveler to come up with a better spa treatment than what I experienced in Italy. The country's polished marbles had nothing on my skin after a beautiful, yet breezy day at the beach in Finale Ligure. The salt spray, the repetitive layers of sunscreen and blown sand, finished with a hearty dose of sweat from climbing the 300 plus stairs up the hillside to my hostel made for the world's most powerful exfoliate. The hostel showers may have been humble that day but my skin has never felt so good!
I get why the issue of bathrooms and showers is a sensitive one to so many travelers. It's not just about being hygienic. It's also about the ritual of refreshment and relaxation that helps start and conclude a day. It can wash away a horrible day or, like my case in Italy, make a good day even better. And it just feels darn nice.
And that's probably why so many of my readers who want to try staying in hostels or budget accommodations for the first time (or are interested in giving them another shot after a long hiatus) are sheepishly and nervously asking...."Um..... How do I shower in a hostel?"
In honor of Pancake Tuesday, we asked our travel blogging friends to tell us: where are the best pancakes around the world? Don't read on an empty stomach!
In the summer of 2010, we embarked on a 2 week road trip to Eastern Canada. I was determined spend less than $1,000, which meant a lot of camping. I came up with a plan to prep the majority of our food in advance, freezing it Ziploc bags and finalizing the cooking at the campground. Sounds like a great plan, right?
Everyday we had whole wheat caramelized banana pancakes for breakfast. I would take the frozen batter out of the cooler to thaw at night and, in the morning, I simply had to snip the edge of the bag and squeeze the pancake batter into the waiting hot pan. I thought (and still think!) they were delicious but the novelty soon wore off for Ryan who even today will shudder if they're on the menu more than once in a trip. Happily, his hesitation doesn't apply to other pancakes and their culinary brethren around the world!
Pancakes are a hot, hearty meal that's both comforting and familiar and yet curiously exotic no matter where you go. And they're always affordable! I asked my travelling friends to share their favourite pancake spots around the world and they didn't disappoint. Stay tuned for an amazing recipe at the end - and Happy Pancake Day!
Looking for a hotel in Athens? Or maybe you're looking to hostel, Athens style? We've got some great recommendations! And we asked top travel writers to weigh in with their picks too.
Athens is one of the world's great cities and you'll want to make the most of your time here. Finding the right accommodations is a big part of that. You'll want a comfortable, clean, centrally located property where you can enjoy a good rest - and maybe even a great view. And you'll probably want to get a great deal too! Maybe you're searching for one of Athens' affordable hotels. Or perhaps you're keep finding the best hostel Athens has to offer. Either way - we're here to help!
We were thrilled with the property we stayed at, the Athinais Hotel, and would highly recommend it to others. But we wanted to include plenty of options in this post, so no matter your travel style or budget, you can find accommodations that are perfect for you. Thank you to the talented travel writers who weighed in with their opinions! I think you'll enjoy their reviews as much we did.
Less than a week of vacation? Short trips can be just as fulfilling as long ones!
Who doesn't want to travel? Convincing people to talk about travel is easy –it’s finding the free time to go that’s often the problem! I know here in Canada that the majority of working professionals don’t use all their allotted vacation time each year and I for one would love to see that change. But when you have no choice but to use your vacation time in segments of week or less, it’s hard not to feel rushed and over-scheduled and tired the whole time.
As a chronic over-scheduler, I am my own worst enemy with this. There’s only so much you can do in a few days – but that’s never stopped me from trying to double down on our schedule. But experience has taught me time and time again that exhaustion and crankiness aren’t worth it to see just one more thing. That’s why I’m changing my tune a little when it comes to short trip. It’s time to get creative and get packing!
How much time do you need to make your connection? It's hard to say...
I have an 18 year old bone to pick with a certain travel agent in Kingston, Ontario. As a naive (some might say angelic) first year university student with virtually no travel experience, I eagerly put my blind faith in the itinerary given to me when I presented myself in their office to book my holiday flight home. With just a 45 minute layover in Toronto's Pearson airport, I thought I had won the lottery. Who would ever want more time? Ha! I learned the hard way that the 45 minute layover is synonymous with disaster. Let's just say I got my cardio that day -and I vowed to be master of my own travel game.
Readers often ask me if they can make a connecting flight within a certain time frame. Unfortunately, it's an impossible question to conclusively answer. There are so many variables for every traveler and airport. But I can share my best strategies and advice for making the most of a tight connection and improving the odds of catching your next flight. So tighten your shoelaces and prepare to abandon all moral principles! This is how you make it through an airport in record time!
A blizzard and a busted battery left us in a bad situation that was rapidly getting worse. We learned (almost) the hard way just how dangerous winter road trip travel can be.
Winter driving is a fact of life for those living in cold weather locations, like us here in Ottawa. We mark the start of the season by installing new snow tires and celebrate its end by driving around in flip flops as soon as the temperature climbs above the freezing mark. Every winter is a delicate dance between a deep seated desire to leave the house and a prosaic prudence that warns caution and urges us to stay home.
Fortunately, we've had mostly good luck on our winter road trips - and so far this year we're having a wonderfully mild season - but one bad past experience proved to be a timely reminder on the importance of relying on preparation, and not just good fortune.
We broke some basic travel rules and learned our lesson the expensive way. Here's what we wish we had known about booking Calgary Airport hotels with shuttles. Don't worry - there's a happy ending!
Say hello to the Four Points by Sheraton hotel by the Calgary airport! This was our home for less than seven hours when we were cobbling together a series of inexpensive flights to make our way across Canada and eventually to Hawaii. Without enough time to visit friends or see the city, we nevertheless embraced our short stopover as an opportunity to get some much needed sleep on what was a very long voyage.
A quick look at a map told us that were many Calgary Airport hotel with shuttles that were so close to the airport, they were practically touching it and, even better, there were dozens of properties to chose from. That gave us an advantage when it came to online booking. We knew we were spoiled for choice and the Four Points won thanks to a combination of its price (under $100!) and its star rating (it was less expensive than some adjacent three star properties.) This was a chance for us to treat ourselves to some sweet stop-over sleep and we were very smug for being such savvy spenders.
Little did we realize we were about to make a big, BIG mistake!
Worried about toilet travel trauma? We look at what travel toilets are really like around the world.
There's nothing like a little potty humor to make you crack a smile. ("Crack"! Get it?!) But in many parts of the world, bathrooms are a most serious business. According to the CDC, 25% of the world's population does not have access to adequate sanitation. Inadequate waste disposal systems are a contributing factor for everything from cholera to trachoma. These illnesses are no laughing matter.
I can certainly appreciate why some travelers hesitate to go anywhere without a modern flush toilet. Serious illnesses bear serious concerns. And, let's face it, 'crappy' toilets can be really unpleasant and uncomfortable. What kind of vacation involves toilet trauma? But if you want an ironclad guarantee of particular standards and services when you travel, well, you won't go very far.
Nearly all of our favourite destinations brought a bit of toilet culture shock. And sometimes it took a while to adjust. But we haven't let a throne, commode, or outhouse cast a stench over our travel dreams and neither should you! This is our take on travel toilets around the world.
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