Meet Katrina Mitchell, the one woman tour de force behind the Ottawa Alternative Travel Guide. Katrina tells us what drives her passion for all things travel - and Ottawa!
I’m originally from Scotland and moved to Canada at the start of November, 2013, to begin a one year working holiday visa. Back home, I was working in a bank for 2 years as a customer insight analyst but quit my job to follow my dream of working in the travel industry and one day owning my own hostel. I've done a lot of backpacking in my time and love the idea of being able to provide someone with an outstanding experience in a city.
I started off my adventure in Ottawa, specifically working at Ottawa Backpackers Inn (one of the three hostels in the city). I struggled to adapt to the city mainly due to the cold (it rains a lot in Scotland but doesn't get to minus thirty!) and the fact I had no idea where to go to! I moved from Glasgow where you are spoiled for choice in terms of drinking establishments and music venues (both of which I frequent often) and at first glance Ottawa did not appear to do either well. I like more alternative things rather than the usual mainstream British pub so Ottawa didn't exactly seem set up to fit my personality.
But I’m a driven person so I asked locals to recommend me some places – I was determined to have a good time in Ottawa despite the cold! Lo and behold, there were more alternative things to do in the city; you just had to know where to look. This annoyed me. If I am travelling in a city then I do not have time to discover these places. Current travel resources did not allow people to quickly find these more alternative experiences. That’s when I realised that there was a definite need for a backpacker map in Ottawa. This is a map which shows young travellers the cool places that locals love.
It took 4 months to make but I am pleased to say that we recently launched the Alternative Travel Guide - Ottawa. This backpacker's map/mini guide provides recommendations from locals about what they like to do in their city. We've had some great feedback so far from locals, this is something exciting for them as it goes against current perceptions of their city being boring. It also signifies the start of an improvement in the travel industry for young tourists in Ottawa. We want to provide them with the tools to make the most of their time in the city – from meeting other travellers, going to the best places or researching their trip before they come. There will be a range of things happening in the current months to help them.
The Alternative Travel Guide - Ottawa has arrived! OnlyHostels.com has sponsored an initial printing of 1,500 map guides, which are available free of charge to backpackers staying at hostels, and an additional 30,000 will soon be produced.
Half Scottish/half Kiwi, I’m all fun! I try to enjoy myself as much as possible as I think it is very important to be positive in life. I left the UK (Scotland specifically) 6 months ago and at this stage I have no intention of returning. My main love in life is travel and that’s why I do what I do. (Oh and cake. Never forget cake). I set up a backpacker map in Glasgow before I left and I’m doing the same thing in Ottawa. I currently work in a hostel as well as the Backpackers Hostels Canada network.
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