I just got back from Ukraine. Though I still don’t feel like writing, I figured I could at least share some pictures with you all 🙂
Tag Archives: backpacking
When splurging is worth it
I’m traveling across Western Canada for work this summer – that post is slowly being written. In the meantime, I’m sitting having breakfast in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I’m going to chat about splurging!
While all of my summer travels are expensed as work trips, I work for a non profit and I really believe that it’s important to spend my budget reasonably. Also, the less I spend, the more I can travel throughout the year! Since this is summertime and the weather is beautiful, I decided to travel mostly by bus. I flew from Vancouver to Calgary, then bussed from Calgary to Edmonton, and Edmonton to Saskatoon. I’m getting a ride from Saskatoon to Regina, and finally will be bussing from Regina to Winnipeg, before flying from Winnipeg to Vancouver in August.
Everywhere I go, I am taking public transit, staying in hostels or university dorms, and eating at people’s houses or cooking for myself. I did, however, budget for the entire meal allowance that I’m allowed, which gives me a lot of wiggle room, and brings us to the point of this blog post!
Yesterday, I took the bus from Banff to Edmonton, which took about 5 hours. Then, I waited in Edmonton for 6 hours before boarding a 7 hour bus to Saskatoon. I arrived this morning at 6:30, much too early to check in to my university accommodation. I decided to head out and by to find breakfast, but that’s also a bit tricky at 6am. The first place I saw was the Holiday Inn – their breakfast buffet is $15, and includes fruit, yogurt, cereal, bacon, sausage, hash browns, eggs Benedict 3 ways, and a pot of coffee right at the table. The table has its own tv (royal baby news on all the channels this morning), and power outlets.
Who could ask for more? So, while I usually try to spend under $10 when I have to pay for breakfast, often spending just $4 at Tim Hortons, today I decided that I deserve the extra bit of luxury.
I might – might – also go for a massage (12km mountain hike + 12 hour bus ride), but that’ll be with my own money, of course 🙂
When do you decide to splurge, and when do you decide to save?
Which shoes to choose?
Lets face it. I have too many pairs of shoes. In fact, if you look at the very top of this page, you’ll see a page named ‘feet’ – this is because I like to take pictures of my feet in different places, but it has also shown me that I am always wearing different shoes. I may have a problem.
Today, however, I’ll make the most of the problem and run through a different variety of shoes and what they’re good for, when you’re travelling. Hopefully you can give me advice too, because I have yet to find the perfect shoe. (Christie over at ChristieThinks seems to be getting close!)
I want to start with an ode to my favourite shoes ever. I bought these at Old Navy, at the very last minute before leaving for my year abroad in Ecuador. If you are good friends with me in person, then I have told you about these shoes. They started to wear away at the sole after a year of wearing them everywhere around the world, and I gave them away. I still regret it. I have never stopped looking for their replacement, and still haven’t found their equivalent anywhere. Sigh.
Not really ideal for much walking, but they do look fun and take up no room at all in your suitcase. The high-tops allow space for an insole, which helps give them more support. I do love my converse shoes, but I don’t really travel with them anymore.
Kind of the same deal as converse – no real support, but they go with pretty much everything and are great to stuff into an already full bag, as they take up no space and weigh nothing. My man complaint is that they get VERY stinky, very quickly, and you can’t wear them extensively or they will wear out after a few weeks. I wore the light grey ones in the picture below for my entire week in San Francisco, and they were far from ideal – they killed my feet (although I did walk up to 10kms a day, so that’s my fault for not planning on better walking shoes), and they already smell too bad to wear anymore. From now on, I will keep them for shorter trips, and wear socks in them. I always bring the purple ones below when I travel for work, because they are great to wear inside at conferences and meetings.
Definitely one of my favourite types of footwear, but also completely impractical for travel. They make me feel invincible when I wear them, but they just take up so much room that unless you’re driving somewhere, you can’t really travel with them! Can someone invent roll-up, comfy rain boots with solid soles please?
Being from Quebec, I definitely know my way around winter boots. I went through the usual adolescent phase of refusing to wear them, but now I’m all about proper winter footwear. Problem is, they are also super annoying to carry around everywhere. I love my purple Sorels, but they live at my mum’s house because I don’t really need them in BC, nor do I want to take up valuable suitcase space for them! I also used to have a pair of Merrell boots which were beautiful, functional and warm, but the sole cracked after a few winters. Now, I make do with a pair of black Hush Puppy boots – they look good with pretty much everything, and while they are not very warm, they are exactly what I need for going to conferences in snowy places in the winter. The same problem remains though, that I have to wear them on the plane if I want to take them at all.
Other impractical shoes
These include flip-flops, which I now only take on beach holidays, and slip-ons with absolutely no arch support, which I usually just wear around town when I’m at home. No sense bringing these travelling unless you’re not planning on doing much more than going to the beach.
Big ol’ leather boots
Man, I love these boots. They are definitely my favourite style, and I can’t wait till autumn so that I can wear them again. The ones on top are my original, completely beaten up ones, that I still wear when it’s raining, or muddy, or anywhere that my shoes might get wet. They feel like slippers. The onesbelow are my ‘nice’ ones, that I’m (trying) to take care of.
I’ve been on a lot of trips with these boots – the only drawback is that the sole is a bit hard so my feet do hurt at the end of the day, but otherwise, if my trip consists mainly of city walking and no demanding terrain, I will continue to bring these with me. They just make me feel good! (And the ones cause the shoe-cleaning staff in airports to run after me)
Actual, sensible walking shoes
That’s right, I actually do have some of these. Full on running shoes, that I never take anywhere unless I know that I’ll be out and about and running around, and unless I know that it’s a setting where I won’t care about how I look (Let’s be honest now. Style goes into almost every shoe decision that I make). The other shoes that I like for easy trails, and that are actually my favourite, are my Keen shoes – the blue ones below are a bit more city with less grip but tons of comfort and support (and the chickens approve), and my actual favourite, comfortable, tons of support, and grippy for easy to moderate trails, are my Keen Toyahs. Problem is? They are bulky and heavy, so not convenient to stuff in a backpack, and quite clunky, so they don’t go with everyday outfits.
So, what’s the verdict?
The verdict is that I’m still trying to find the all around best travel shoes, and sandals! For this trip, I’ve decided to go with black Birkenstocks that go with everything, because I know that they offer comfort and adequate support for days of city walking and standing around, and I’ve just bought a pair of barefoot runners from Merrel (Pace Glove), based on the fact that they are light, squishable, offer moderate arch support, good enough traction, and that they are SUPER cute. (Seriously. I’m sad to say that looks have such a big part in this.)
I just finished the first day of my 4 week trip, and the Merrells remained comfy after walking all day. I’ll let you know how they fare on Banff’s trails, and during my Mantracker run in the Prairies. Keep an eye out for pictures of my feet wearing them in different places across Canada 🙂
Turnipseed travel has just posted a link about Hilary Clinton, showing a picture of her in every country that she’s visited while in her role as secretary of state. Which got me thinking: if I can’t be travelling right now (Well, I went to Regina recently. But I don’t think that counts.), I can at least think about all the awesome adventures that I’ve had.
The other day, I was at dinner with friends, and there was a sort of name dropping happening, only they weren’t talking about people, they were talking about countries that they’ve been to. I don’t know if I’m the same – sometimes, I feel awkward mentioning that I’ve been places. I don’t want to sound braggy, or annoying. But not today! Today, I’m going to do exactly what Hillz did – I’m going to post a picture of myself in each country that I’ve visited. Because this is my blog, and if I can’t get braggy on here, where can I?!
**Note: to my past self, you, and your potential future children:
1. Smile more in your photos. Until I was about 17, I looked grumpy in most pictures. I want to reach back and slap my 11-year-old self.
2. Make sure you take pictures of yourself. Selfies, or ask a stranger (make a friend!) I’m usually the one taking pictures, which means that I’m rarely in them.
To pack or not to pack? Part 2 : Three weeks, one carry-on
Yesterday, I posted about travelling for 3 months with a 36 litre backpack.
Today, my situation is a bit different. I’m going away for 3 weeks, which will be spent partially in meetings, partially hanging out with family, and partially going out with friends.
Is it possible to pack for this trip without checking any luggage?
The answer is yes!
I (kind of) followed Vanessa’s advice. Her blog post is great because it details each part of packing. Since I’m still supposed to be packing right now (and doing dishes, and cleaning), I’m just going to post what I ended up deciding to bring. I actually ended up bringing more stuff than what Vanessa allows for.
In this picture is everything that I’m bringing.
Clothes : 2 pairs of pants, 3 dresses, 5 nice tops, 3 pairs of leggings. 12 pairs of socks and underwear (re: I don’t want to have to do laundry over and over), 6 tank tops (I wear them under everything, and then to sleep each night), two bras, and one pair of yoga pants to sleep in. Also, one pair of indoor shoes.
Toiletries : The pink stripy thing contains bits and pieces – toothbrush, deodorant, jewellery and makeup. My 3-1-1 bag contains shampoo, soap, etc. – anything liquid.
This is the final product. It actually contains what I’m going to wear on the flight, so I actually have some free space.
Others : I’m going on this trip for work, so I need my laptop, cellphones, etc. (sadface) Along with my rolling suitcase, I am bringing a ‘personal item’, which is my laptop bag. It contains (obviously) my laptop, some paperwork, my phones, my kindle and a tuque that I’m currently knitting. I’m actually not sure if I’m allowed to bring needles on the plane, but we’ll see!
So, all in all, this is everything that I’m bringing for my 3 week trip.
Not too bad! I feel like when I take off for my RTW trip, I’ll be able to do it with my good ol’ 36er!
To pack or not to pack? Part 1 : A trip down memory lane
Seven years ago (Seven! Where has the time gone!) I spent 3 months backpacking around Peru, Bolivia, Coast Rica, and Nicaragua. Everything I owned, I carried in my 36 litre backpack.
The goal of this was twofold – obviously, I needed to be able to carry everything around with me from hostel to hostel. But the main thing, which I never would have thought about before being there, was to avoid having to put my backpack under the bus when going from city to city. This way, I didn’t have to worry about getting my bag stolen at any of the stops (scheduled and unscheduled – being stopped by the army, who wants to see all of your belongings, is not uncommon). I also didn’t have to worry about having my bag peed on by animals also kept under the bus (Trust me. This happened to a friend of mine.) Every time we took the bus, my bag came along with me. I would put it on the floor in front of my seat, and curl up with my feet on top of it
So, how was this possible? Here’s what was in my bag :
1. I had no ‘beauty’ supplies. In my backpack, I carried a plastic bag that contained a toothbrush and toothpaste, a bar of soap which I used on my hair and body, one stick of deodorant, one bottle of sunscreen, a disposable razor, and my contact lens solution and a couple of pairs of contacts. I could replace all of these things (except for the contacts), in any village. I had dreads back then, so I didn’t use any hair products, and I never wore makeup.
2. Clothing wise, I had one pair of jeans, one skirt, three tank tops, three t-shirts, one pair of hiking shoes, one pair of converse, one pair of flip-flops, one zippy sweater, and one long-sleeved t-shirt. I had a bikini and a sarong, which I used both as a beach cover-up, a skirt and a towel. Accessories? Not really – I had two scarves, which I wore on my head when it got really sunny. The one luxury that I afforded myself was two weeks worth of underwear and socks. I’m no stranger to washing clothes in the sink, but I prefer to avoid it.
3. I also always carried, in the top zippy bit of my backpack, juggling and poi balls. It was always the best way to meet people.
And that’s it.
As well as my backpack, I carried a large cross-body purse, that I could wear while wearing the backpack. (Which you can see in this photo. This trip happened with my buddy Marina, on my right. See her small backpack, and purse? That’s all she travelled with, for three months.)
This bag contained my journal, my point and shoot camera, my wallet, a book and my passport. I think that this was made easier because I feel like this trip happened before technology really did. There was no facebook, no smart phones. Now, when I pack, I have one or two laptops, two cellphones, my kindle, charging cables for all of those, and my DSLR. Ugh.
This post happened because I’m in the middle of packing for a business trip, and blogging is more fun than packing. I’m also trying to figure out if I can fit everything I need for a three week business trip in my carry-on. Obviously, the setting is a bit different – I’m going to be having meetings, and I’m travelling in Canada in the middle of winter. Still, I’m up for the challenge, which I’ll document in the next post. My buddy Vanessa at turnipseedtravel has a great post about this (and so many other great posts!), and I’m going to try and follow her advice.
This post also reminds me that it was easy, and much less stressful, to travel for so little. I’m hoping to go on holiday in September, and to put that backpack back to work. And to go back to no technology.