12 Travel Quotes That Will Inspire You To Buy That Ticket

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Is your camera roll filled with travel inspiration? Are you lusting over a European city you’ve never been to before? Have you been daydreaming of adventure?

It’s time to buy that plane ticket!

Sometimes, you just need a little inspiration to remind you that investing in travel (and yourself) is worth it! These 12 travel quotes are meant to inspire just that — so buy that ticket and get out there!

“All you need is a passport”

“Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

“I followed my heart and it led to the airport.”

“It is okay to live a life that others do not understand.”

“You weren’t born to just pay bills and die.”

“There’s no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this.”

“Go where you feel most alive.”

“If you never go, you will never know.”

“Travel is an investment in yourself.”

“Yeah, working is great. But have you tried traveling?”

“NOW is the right time for a new adventure.”

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Travel quotes that will inspire you to buy that plane ticket
Travel quotes that will inspire you to buy that plane ticket



5 Local Spots to Eat (+Drink) In Halifax

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Canada’s east coast is chock full of history, natural wonders, great music, and amazing food — Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia, is no exception! This vibrant city has a huge natural harbor, is home to several universities, has fantastic museums, lots of shops, and an incredible food scene that boasts unique, locally owned restaurants and cafes.

While most visitors to the city stick to those on the waterfront or downtown, there are many spots in Halifax’s hip North End that are local favorites. This area of the city is where you will find vibrantly painted townhomes, beautiful boutiques, great coffee, cute bakeries, and cocktail bars serving small seasonal menus based around what can be bought locally.

I recently visited a friend who lives in this part of Halifax (Hi Michelle!), who also happens to be a part of the food scene in the city. These five spots are some of her favorites (and, now, mine) based on three very important things — great ambiance, great food, and great drinks (cocktails or coffees)!

LF French Bakery

2063 Gottingen Street
Website

The last time I was in Paris, I was staying a block away from an incredible bakery and started every day with a cappuccino and a fresh croissant. As you can imagine, that set the bar pretty high for bakeries, but the LF (Laurent French — the owner who was raised by two French bakers in France) Bakery did not disappoint!

They bake all of their pastries like croissants, chocolatines, baguettes, brioche, and various tartelettes fresh EVERY DAY, and also have a full coffee bar and soups and sandwiches. There are spots to sit inside where it is warm, fragrant, and welcoming, as well as a small patio to the side to enjoy on sunny days. Or, grab a chocolatine (highly recommended) and an espresso to-go and wander around the colourful neighbourhood!

enVie

5775 Charles Street
Website

If you are looking for vegan food, or just REALLY GOOD FOOD, then this is your spot!

We had an incredible brunch at enVie, which also offers food and smoothies to-go if you are looking for something healthy and quick. The food was delicious, the space was bright and cozy, and the location — on a corner overlooking a bustling street — was perfect for people watching.

I had The Skillet, which was a tofu scramble with roasted vegetables, garlic aioli, green onion, and seitan bacon served on a bed of crispy home fries, and a Grapefruit Mimosa. The food was SO good I forgot that I wasn’t eating real bacon and eggs!

Bar Kismet

2733 Agricola Street
Website

This was my favourite cocktail bar that Michelle took me to. There was just something about the way that it was decorated that just really made me feel like I was on the East Coast. We sat at the bar which was perfect, as the place was packed (reservations suggested) so it was easier to chat that way.

The menu changes throughout the year based on the season, but oysters are a constant, as are small plates with some sort of fresh seafood. All of the dishes on the menu are perfect for sharing. I tried (aka devoured) the Ahi Tartar and Allumettes Fries, which was indescribably delicious, and indulged in a glass of bubbly.

This spot is also well known for its creative cocktails with names like Less Than Ideal Situation, No-Spresso Martini, The Gangster Of Love, and Famous Last Words.

The Nook Espresso Bar

2118 Gottingen St.
Website

This cafe is the perfect place to do a little work, read, or catch up with a friend over a locally-roasted cup of coffee. Nook uses North Mountain Coffee, which is roasted in Nova Scotia — they also sell it in bags if you like it enough to take some home with you!

The cafe also gives back to their community through the Nook Token Program. When you are ordering your coffee and/or snack, consider purchasing a token for $2 or $5 as well. The tokens can be used by those in need to get something to eat. A great program that cafes all over Canada are starting to adopt.

The Ostrich Club

5529 Young Street
Website

This modern and minimalist space is a bit of a surprise considering the building it is located in looks old and historic from the outside. The Ostrich Club serves lunch, dinner, and brunch and is another great spot to share small plates and cocktails with friends.

I sat at the bar, which gives you a full view of the kitchen and the chefs putting the finishing touches on simple dishes packed with flavour. They have a great cocktail menu (if you are craving an Aperol Spritz, this is your spot!) and wine list that includes some local offerings. The menu also changes frequently, but make sure you don’t pass by the vegetable dishes — the brussels sprouts I had were amazing.

Oh, and if you are searching for the floral floor (pictured above), you’ll find it in the bathrooms in the basement!

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5 Local Spots to Eat (+Drink) In Halifax
5 Local Spots to Eat (+Drink) In Halifax


Your Guide To Visiting The Skytram in Jasper National Park

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , , ,


Open from the end of March to the end of October (check the website for exact times, as this can change based on the weather) the Jasper Skytram offers breathtaking views of the town of Jasper, the surrounding park, turquoise glacial lakes, and six mountain ranges (yes, I said SIX!).

Located on Whistlers Mountain, a short 7 km from Jasper, the tram can hold 26 passengers and takes 7 1/2 minutes to travel from the lower station (1,258m above sea level) to the upper station (2,263m above sea level).

If you want to experience amazing rocky mountain views (without having to hike for hours), this is the way to get them.

Inside the tram there are three small seats in the corners, rails on the sides to hold onto, and had hold hanging from the ceiling. There are windows on all sides, offering a 360 degree view.

Planning Your Visit

Location

From the town of Jasper, follow the Icefields Parkway south for 2 km. Then turn right on Whistlers Road (it is clearly marked). Follow the road up the mountain (you will pass a hostel on your way up) until you get to the Skytram parking lot.

Hours of Operation

Hours vary based on the time of year you are visiting. Check the website for updated hours.

Ticket Prices

Adults (16+) $49.30, Youth (6-15) $26.30, Child (Under 6) Free
*Note: You can purchase a half price one-way ticket if you choose to hike to the top (there is a well-used hiking trail) and would like to ride the tram down.

The unloading area at the upper station once everyone has left the tram.

What To Bring

The weather can change quickly on the top of the mountain so you need to make sure you are prepared, especially if you are planning on hiking to the summit. Here’s a list of items you should bring with you and/or wear:

  • water

  • hiking boots or supportive runners if you are planning on trekking

  • sunscreen (even on a cold day you can get a sunburn at that elevation)

  • layers, including a wind or waterproof jacket

In the spring there is often still snow at the top of the mountain. The summit trail takes you to the top of the ridge in the photo, you can snowshoe it when it is still covered in snow. Just on the other side of the ridge are views of Marmot Basin.

When you get to the top, whether you have a clear view or are surrounded by clouds, you are in for an incredible experience.

On a clear day, you can see the shockingly blue Patricia Lake, Pyramid Lake, Lac Beauvert, Lake Annette, and Lake Edith. The Athabasca River winds through the valley, and you’ll also get incredible views of Pyramid Mountain, Old Man Mountain, the Colin Ridge, and the Victoria Cross Range.

This is the view from the tram just after leaving the top. You can see the second tram in the distance and the incredible views!

But being at the summit on a cloudy can be an incredible experience too, as it feels like you are suddenly in an alien landscape!

Jasper Skytram Whistlers Summit

There is a wooden boardwalk at the summit that is kept clear (unless it just snowed like in this photo) and nice and wide so it can be enjoyed by everyone.

There is restaurant and gift shop at the top, a accessible boardwalk near the tram, and a 1.4 km trail that will take you to the summit of Whistlers Mountain. In the spring, the trail is usually still covered in snow and can be hiked in snowshoes that you can rent at the top or in the town of Jasper before you make your way to the tram.

There is nothing better than feeling like you’re on top of the world!

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Guide to visiting the skytram in Jasper National Park
Guide to visiting the skytram in Jasper National Park



International Romance: Tips For Dating Someone From A Different Country

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Have you had a hostel hookup that you just can’t get out of your head? Did that conversation that you started at the hotel bar turn into a whirlwind romance?

They say opposites attract, and there is nothing more exciting than making a connection with someone who has lived a completely different life in a totally different country or culture than your own. Everything is new and intriguing, but this type of relationship also comes with its own unique set of challenges.

Here are some things to keep in mind when shifting from your meet-cute to a relationship.

Be open about your expectations

Are you just wanting a flirty connection? An international booty call? Something serious?

You need to make sure that you are both on the same page fairly early in your relationship so that one party doesn’t start making life-changing plans before you are both ready for it.

A commitment to each other might involve a lot of expensive flights or a huge move, and you want to make sure you're not leading anyone on — or being led on yourself.

Be prepared to ask serious questions sooner than you might in a relationship with someone at home

You have decided that there is a potential future with this person, and are ready to move to the next step. But the next step is a lot more complicated than if you were dating someone who lived a few blocks away. You need to know as much as possible about each other’s dreams and future goals before you start investing a lot of time and money into moving things forward.

This is when you ask about if moving is a real possibility for either of you. How do they feel about marriage? Kids? If you had kids, where would you spend the holidays? What are some traditions or values that they are not willing to give up? What are the things that you both absolutely need to be happy?

Trust me, these are things you need to know before committing to upheaving your life, or someone else’s.

Recognize and acknowledge the ways that you are different

Remember that you come from different political, religious, and historical backgrounds. There may be a history of war in your recent past, or a history of persecution in theirs. Your backgrounds are what make you unique and fascinating individuals, and the way you both handle good times and bad are the result of experiences in your past.

Make sure to ask questions. If you don’t understand something, don’t pretend to. This will not only bring you closer but will help you to relate more to the background of their country and culture. Who knows, their country might be yours one day!   

Avoid buying into a stereotype

Every person is an individual, and it is important to remember that.

Keep an open mind, and don’t try to understand the person you are with, or their culture, by using a cultural stereotype to fit them into your world view.  

Remember that what it means to be “romantic” differs from culture to culture

Things that you might find cheesy could be incredibly romantic gestures in a different country. On the other hand, something that you find romantic could be an insult to the person you are dating.

Be sensitive to each other and make sure you let each other know if something is making either of you feel uncomfortable.

Be patient

An international relationship will never work unless you are patient with each other.

Cultural blunders and misunderstandings are inevitable, but it’s how you deal with them that will define your relationship and determine whether your future lies together or apart!

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international travel dating tips
International romance dating tips



How to Take The Perfect Travel Selfie

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


First of all, it’s important to clarify that in this post a selfie is only considered a selfie if you take the photo yourself.

I know that this may seem obvious to most of you, but you’d be surprised how many photos I’ve come across on social media that are labeled #selfie but are clearly taken by someone else.

Even the English Oxford Dictionary agrees:

SELFIE noun A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.

Now that we’ve got the definition of a selfie settled, here’s what you need to do to make sure you look amazing every single time you take one.

How to take the perfect travel selfie
How to take the perfect travel selfie

Find your best light

Nothing ages you more than dark shadows under your eyes because of harsh lighting. But how do you know what light makes you look your best?

JLo to the rescue!

Jennifer Lopez recently shared her secret to taking flawless selfies, “Turn in a circle with your phone held high in front-facing camera mode until you find the best light before taking the photo.”

Is there anything she can’t do?!  

Take off your hat

Do you know what a hat does? It shades your face. And like we mentioned above, nothing ages you more than unsightly shadows cast on your face. Plus, the point of a selfie is so that people can see you, not your hat!

If you must keep it on to complete your look or hide unsightly hair try tilting it back slightly to let the light hit your face, or tilt your chin to reduce shadows.

It’s all in how you hold it

Hold your phone or camera slightly above eye level and angle your face, so you are not facing the camera straight on, for the most flattering look.

Whatever you do, don’t tilt your face up to the camera. This will make you look strained. Keep your chin down and never take your shot from below.

Don’t just stand there

Show your personality in your photo!

Stick out your tongue, vogue, give your best intense look, blow a kiss, wave, give a sassy smile… this isn’t a professional portrait!

Show some context

The point of a travel selfie is to show that you are in a different place!

Make sure what is behind you or around you showcases the place that you are in, whether it is an ancient ruin, a beautiful beach, or a quirky shop.

Consider the crop

Wait! Before you post that selfie, take a minute to consider if cropping the photo would make for a better composition.

Is there something cluttering up the background? Would zooming in a bit highlight your surroundings better?

The original photo taken while kayaking in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada.

The original photo taken while kayaking in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada.

For the edited photo ( using FaceTune) I changed the lighting and smoothed the skin under my eyes.

For the edited photo ( using FaceTune) I changed the lighting and smoothed the skin under my eyes.

Edit if you must, but don’t overdo it

There are so many photo editing apps out there and it can be tempting to get rid of every line, blemish, and wrinkle in every photo you take. But before you turn your selfie into an airbrushed picture of perfection, remember that no one’s skin is that smooth, your teeth are not that white in real life, and that halo of light does not really exist.

You’re not fooling anyone — we can all tell when your photo has been edited too much.

So, edit if you must, but just remember that the best part about you is that you are unique and that there is no one else out there who looks just like you! Embrace your own unique look, (perceived) flaws and all!

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Your guide to taking the perfect travel selfie
Your guide to taking the perfect travel selfie



Planning a Romantic Getaway? Here's What You Need To Know

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Even if you are a seasoned traveler or used to traveling with other people, taking a trip with a significant other is an entirely different scenario. Both you, and your person, are sure to have expectations on each other, and on the experiences that you are hoping to have, and that can create a lot of pressure.

Here’s what you need to know to make sure your trip together is memorable for the right reasons (and not because you had a huge fight in the middle of the Roman Forum).

Live in the moment

It can be hard to disengage from work, to-do lists, and everyday demands, but this is your opportunity to really escape from all the chaos of your everyday life and focus on where you are in the moment.

Remember that nothing kills the mood more than ignoring the person you are with by answering emails or scrolling through social feeds.

Sure, take a few selfies and post them on Instagram (#BestTripEver) if you must, but make sure to tuck your phones away (or even turn them off if you can bear it) so you can really be in the moment and focus on each other.

Don’t try and see everything

If you are heading to a destination that neither of you has been to before, it might be tempting to try and cram in as many popular tourist sights as you can. But, unless standing in line and fighting through crowds is how you want to spend your time together, consider cutting your must-see list down a bit.

Prioritize down time, and don’t just rush from one place to another. Sleep in. Have breakfast in bed. Take an extra long shower together. Trust me, you’ll remember those slower, leisurely moments more than seeing a famous Monet painting with 100 other people in the Musee d’Orsay.

Take turns planning your days

Does this sound familiar?

“Where do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know, you pick.”

“Well, how about that Italian place down the street?”

“Hmm, I don’t really feel like Italian…”

“Well, where do you want to go?”

“It doesn’t matter. You pick… ”

Before your trip, agree to take turns being in charge of planning an afternoon, a day, or a special date night during your getaway. The other person will be treated to a lovely surprise and with one person in charge of the plans, there will be no frustrating decision making moments!  

Keep an open mind and be flexible

Opening hours change, restaurants close unexpectedly, and cars break down. Things will inevitably go wrong, or plans will need to change, and that’s okay!

The key is to not let it ruin your trip.

Try and put yourself in go-with-the-flow mode and focus on being happy no matter what you are doing. You are with the person you love after all!

Remember that romance doesn’t have to be expensive

Worried about your budget? No problem!

You don’t have to buy the most expensive champagne, have a reservation at a Michelin star restaurant, or go to an opening night at the symphony in order to have a romantic evening.

Shop for food at a local grocery store and have a moonlit picnic dinner in front of a historic monument, take a sunset stroll through the city, or cozy up in the corner of a dive bar with live music.

Check in with each other

No matter how experienced you are, traveling can be disconcerting — especially if you are somewhere completely foreign.

Make sure to check in with each other to make sure you are both comfortable and having fun. If not, adjust! There will be no romance if one of you is feeling scared, jet lagged, or displaced.

Throw these three items in your bag

  1. Candles — A few candles in your hotel room (no matter how small) are sure to set the mood.

  2. Bubble Bath — Perfect for when your apartment rental has a bathtub built for two.

  3. Wine Opener — A must have while enjoying a romantic picnic in the park!

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Tips for planning a romantic getaway
Tips for planning a romantic getaway



25 Questions To Ask Your Travel Buddy On Long Travel Days

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


There is A LOT of down time when you are traveling long distances — waiting for your flight, driving to your next destination, or relaxing on a train.

You could sit with your nose in a book or scroll through Instagram to pass the hours, but why not take the opportunity to ask your travel buddy (or the random person sitting across from you if they look interesting) some fun questions and get to know each other better instead?

You never know where the conversation might go…

1. Describe what you looked like in your most awkward childhood phase.

2. What is the weirdest thing that you’ve ever eaten?

3. Describe your perfect meal.

4. Have you ever done something illegal and never gotten caught?

5. You can have one superpower — what would it be and why?

6. Is there a country or city in the world that you never want to visit?

7. What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?

8. If you could stay this age forever, would you?

9. What is your favorite smell?

10. If you needed a new identity what would your name be, where would you go, and what would you do?  

11. If you had to compete in a food eating contest, what type of food would you pick?

12. Have you ever gone skinny dipping? Where and when?

13. Would you rather give up coffee forever or alcohol forever?

14. If you could be a fictional character who would you be?

15. If you could join a mission to colonize Mars, would you?

16. Tell me something that nobody knows about you.

17. What would your personal theme song be if you were a character in a sitcom?

18. If you could change one thing about the way you look, what would you change?

19. If you could time travel, what year or event would you go back to?

20. What’s your go-to karaoke song?

21. Tell me about the last thing you read.

22. Do you believe in ghosts?

23. What is your favorite Olympic sport?

24. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Why?

25. Describe yourself in five words.

Click here to download a pdf of the questions to take with you on your next trip!

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Questions to ask your buddy on long travel days
Questions to ask your buddy on long travel days