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



Hit The Beach! Your Guide to the Best Beaches in the USA

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Winters are long and cold, and I find myself dreaming of the beach for most of the year (who am I kidding, ALL of the year).

There are so many incredible tropical locations to explore in the world, but when the warm weather hits, the beaches in the US are well worth a visit.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the total length of the US shoreline (which includes outer coast, offshore islands, sounds, bays, rivers, and creeks), is a staggering 95,471 miles (153,646 km)!

That’s a lot of beach to explore!

What’s interesting about the beaches in the States is that they are so varied. Some do feel like a topical paradise, others are stormy and rocky, while others are deserted and isolated. Because of the sheer size of the country, there is no way you could visit all of the beaches in a single visit, but there are some more famous and popular ones that are definitely worth planning your trip around.

Surf Spots

Is catching a wave your idea of the perfect day at the beach? There are some amazing surf spots in the States. Here are two of the most famous:

Huntington Beach

Orange County, California
Also known as “Surf City,” this beach attracts serious crowds. There are actually four different surf spots in the area that cater to all levels — from the novice to the expert.

According to Gear Patrol, “longboarders should head to the northwest beaches, while shortboards are best in the south, by Huntington Beach Pier.”

Pipeline

North Shore, Oahu
I couldn't talk about surf spots and not mention a beach in Hawaii!

Considered to have the some of the world’s biggest and best waves, this spot is for serious surfers only. The currents are strong and the reef is sharp and cavernous, but that’s the reason for the incredible 30-foot waves and the large, hollow tubes of water that surfers are often photographed on. If you aren’t experienced enough to ride the waves yourself, it’s the perfect spot to take some amazing photos of world-class surfers!

Suntanning + People Watching

Located on opposite sides of the country, these two spots are the best beaches to see and be seen in America.

Miami Beach

Miami, Florida
This famous beach has more than 13 million visitors each year (!) making it the ideal spot to people watch.

The southern portion, or South Beach, is known for being the spot where models, celebrities, and other millionaires hang out (get ready for some celebrity spotting!), and this is where you will find the famous Ocean Drive with its stunning Art Deco architecture.

Venice Beach

Los Angeles, California
More than 16 million people visit the quirky and charter-filled Venice Beach every year to experience the sights and sounds of this one-of-a-kind spot.

Stroll down the boardwalk, purchase some unique souvenirs from a street vendor, get your fortune told, play some basketball, go dancing, relax in the sand, or get a little surfing in — there is so much to do here!  

Sunsets + Romance

Walk barefoot in the sand and catch the sunset at one of these locations that seem made for romance.

Your guide to the best beaches in America

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach, North Carolina
This gorgeous spot in the Brunswick Islands has a mile-long beach that is south facing, which means that you can watch the sun both rise and set over the water.  

Located at one end of the beach is the Kindred Spirits Mailbox, where lovers can pen notes to each other, or leave behind wishes for the future.

Montauk Point State Park

Montauk, New York
A favorite escape for New Yorkers, couples love this destination for its peace and serenity.

Go for a romantic horseback ride, take in the stunning views from the majestic rocky shore, or explore the beautiful 200-year-old lighthouse that sits on the cliffs in the park.

Get Your Party On

It’s 5 o’clock all day at these destinations that are always ready to party!

Your guide to the best beaches in America

Wildwood Beach

Wildwood, New Jersey
The famous Jersey Shore is known for its boardwalk and amusement park with more than 100 rides!

There are a variety of clubs and bars that turn up the heat when the sun goes down, and are where you can enjoy great food, indulge in some cocktails, or spend the night tearing up the dance floor.

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, Virginia
The beach’s boardwalk is home to a strip of bars that is perfect for those that are looking to bar hop the night away. There are also some pretty incredible happy hour prices along the strip — some starting as early as 11 am!

LGBTQ-Friendly Destinations

Sun, sand, and all-inclusive fun await you at these LGBTQ-friendly destinations!

Race Point Beach

Provincetown, Massachusetts
Dubbed “P-town,” this free-spirited beach town has been a must-visit destination for LGBTQ travelers for years.

You’ll find a thriving art scene, whale-watching, incredible seafood, and lots of romantic and secluded spots to stroll.

Will Rogers State Beach (aka Ginger Rogers Beach)

Santa Monica, California
Located right off the Pacific Coast Highway, this is the closest (unofficial) gay beach to Los Angeles, so you may have a chance to do some movie star spotting here!

This is also the beach where the movie Creature From The Black Lagoon was filmed, as well as the TV series Baywatch!

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Your guide to the best beaches in America
Your guide to the best beaches in America



12 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit Nova Scotia in Canada

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


Though Canada’s east coast has been occupied and built up longer than most of Canada by outsiders who brought farming, building, and industry to the “New World”, there is still something raw, wild, and just beautiful about this part of the country.

Yes, a lot of that beauty is a result of human occupation, but there seems to be a symbiosis between the land and the people who live in it, and a respect for the roaring ocean that is always close by.

These 12 photos show some of my favourite parts of this stunning province, and showcase why it is worth the visit.

The boardwalks that take you from a gravel parking lot on the side of the road, through the sand dunes, and out onto the beach that is stunning if it is shrouded on fog or glowing under the blue sky!

The happy, multi-coloured buildings found everywhere you look — in cities, villages, and on farms!

Sleepy fishing villages with moss covered roofs in quiet coves.

Fishing nets, boats, traps, colourfully painted floats, and the fishermen themselves are full of character.

The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove — it doesn’t matter how touristy it is, this will always be one of my favourite spots!

Short ferry rides that give you views of small villages along the water and shorten your drive time.

Stunning parks are found throughout the province, like this one in Halifax.

Weathered, historic buildings that have held their own through winter storms and bright sunshiny days.

It’s just so ridiculously beautiful — I mean, look at those colors!!

Everywhere you turn, you seem to be at the beach, which is almost more beautiful in the fog than it is in the sunshine.

I could stare at the rough and wild Atlantic Ocean that crashes against the shoreline for days.

The colourful buildings in the North End of Halifax that have so much character!

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Visit Nova Scotia in Canada
Visit Nova Scotia in Canada