Take the picture or enjoy

I always wonder if it is appropriate to take the picture.

I travel to explore, for an adventure. Sure taking pictures and uploading them to facebook is great, other people love to hear about your trips and sometimes the pictures help you remember all that you did. I love reminiscing on my trips when I am stuck at work or in a snowstorm and pictures are a great way to do that.

But..

Sometimes you see those people who hiked a huge mountain, or are watching fire works or a show and they insist on taking non stop pictures, and watching the view or performance through a screen. I wonder what those people have as motivation to even go? Can’t you just google a video or picture, do you really need to be there then? Maybe our generation is so enthralled with our phones or camera’s that we don’t even realize we are doing it… we see one thing that is cool and we automatically want to snapchat it.

Then you get to the places like war museums, Auschwitz, Pompeii, places where really horrible things have happened to people like genocide, or being sold as slaves, and you see people taking photos. I understand to a degree, you may want to go home and show people you know will never go what it looks like in Auschwitz. I myself have a photo of my friends and I in Pompeii where they sold the slaves.. I don’t think we planned it at the time “cool, they bought and sold people here.. let’s selfie” I think it was more like “finally we don’t have a crowd around us, let’s take a picture”. But looking back, was that really appropriate?

There was a man who wrote an article and attached photos he found online of young people posing, or taking “profile pictures” in these types of places. He then photo-shopped in the background pictures from history where the Jews were starving to death, skin and bones, with this girl in the front doing a yoga pose. It really surprised people I think. The overall reaction was “how could these kids take those kinds of pictures in a place like that”, but unless he put the historic pictures in the background would you have ever though twice before?

The tourists that pay money to the locals that have a monkey or a snake on their shoulders to hold that animal, take a quick photo then give it back drive me insane. A huge snake, a monkey, all these animals do not want to be held. They are not our photo props, they are wild animals. How do you think they are treated when they are used soley as a pay cheque? They are stolen from the wild, drugged, and forced to be passed around like stuffed animals so that tourists can have a profile picture of them holding a monkey. It’s not right. Again, most people would not even think these things, they would see an opportunity and take it.

Off topic: I am an animal lover, completely. I grew up with dogs and I want to cuddle and hold literally anything that has fur. The biggest lesson I learnt when it came to animals was when I bought a pet rabbit. Rabbits are prey animals that hate being cuddled and held. I had to learn that my rabbit shows me affection way differently than my dog does.. she just wants to be in the same room as me, maybe sit on my lap for a head pet, and that was good enough. We can’t just assume all animals are the same as our household pets. 

I have a love hate relationship with electronic devices and I am not sure where I stand all the time on it, I flip and I flop.. But I try to remind myself when I reach for my camera or phone… is this really necessary and appropriate?

Do we travel to take profile pictures ?

These views

Ping Pong shows – Travel mistake

Pets on holidays

Are we really travel savvy ?

Can you believe this beach

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How I plan my trips .

Here it is, detailed information on how I plan my backpacking trips !

Mine may be very different from how you would book a trip because of many factors. I keep my full time job and I travel the globe within my annual holiday leave… so I don’t really have the ability to travel for long periods of time (anymore… I did when I was younger), and getting lost, because to me that means missing my flight home, or missing out on something I really wanted to see while traveling.

Because I only have a few weeks holidays each year, I try to stick to one Country and completely travel that one place instead of jetting around trying to see everything.

I also like booking my holidays in advance because

  1. I am an organization freak… I love to know exactly when to show up, knowing someone will be there to pick me up, I like having all my bookings in order. I find that I spend tons of time before my trips booking and planning  (which is actually super fun) and then when I arrive on my vacation I just go with the flow and I don’t have to be booking hotels or travel trains while on the fly..
  2. It is cheaper. It’s true that if you just “go with the flow” on traveling around you will be paying more money. I book my rooms and flights and travel well in advance so that I get the best seat, or bed on the night train, and I am not paying an arm and a leg for it. When these companies like hotels or trains see that you are wanting to travel today, they may jack the price up on you, which means less money to spend while there.
  3. I can just enjoy myself knowing I get to go to all the places on my list and see all the amazing things I wanted to see.
  4. I can pay for the trip slowly while I book everything and then by the time I go I just need spending money. I can come home with no debt and start saving for my next adventure.. cause nothing makes you want to travel more than coming home from an awesome trip

Where to go ?

The first thing I decide is, well, where to go !? If you are just getting into the backpacking world you may want to start where everyone goes… Thailand. My moto is that I want to see the entire world so it doesn’t matter if I go to this Country this year, or next, I will still be going… Because I am a young adult starting out in the world on an entry level pay cheque I tend to stick to South East Asia as it is really cheap (and because I also am in love with it !). I will keep the other more expensive Countries for when I am making more money, or more settled in my life.

Destinations

Where to go within a Country is hard… What I do is I usually will look up travel companies online that go to that destination, so for example if I want to go to South Africa I would do tons of research on where to go, where to avoid, and then I will find a company that travels there and they usually have a brief itinerary of where they go on their website with a map. This is so I don’t just bounce North to South to back to the North and oh I missed that place in the South.. I go in a well thought out circle of places. These companies are also good beause they take you to places that you wouldn’t usually think about going, like a national park or a small town that has something amazing in it. I then decide how long I want to stay in each place depending on how much there is to do there, or how much other people in reviews said they liked it.

I will then create my itinerary with very basics:

When I am flying in.

Where I am going in order

How many days I want to stay in each place

different travel options between each place

Where I want to end up to fly back home

Paying for the trip

The thing that bothers me so much is when I invite someone to come traveling with me and they say “I can’t afford it”… I literally went to Thailand for 24 days, got veneers, blew my money away like I was Kylie Jenner and I ended up only spending 5000$ (that would be 2000$ if I didn’t get my teeth done, which you can read about HERE). YOU CAN AFFORD IT, you just don’t want to.

To make my life easier I don’t pay for the trip at once. Like I said above, I like to slowly book my holiday so that I can slowly pay for it so I don’t have debt. It is hard for most people to save up say 2000-3000$ without spending it, and then pay for the trip all at once.. why do you think that these travel companies let you make payments for their trips…

I will start planning like 6 months in advance (which is fun as well because that gives you something to look forward to), so this is most likely right after I return from a previous trip. I will give myself a budget per month, so I will say OK this month I will pay for my main flights, next month I will give myself 300$, and I will start booking until I hit my 300$ and then wait to continue booking till the next month. I also like paying for as much as I possibly can before arriving, so if a hostel tells me I only need to pay a deposit, or just for the first night, I will ask to pay the entire amount so that I don’t have to carry around as much cash when I arrive, and I know that all the cash I have is for me to spend freely… I don’t need to budget to pay for my next room.

I put everything I can on my master card because I get cashback. Also awesome if you get points or have a travel reward Credit Card because you can use your travel expenses to pay for your next trip! This also gives you a month to pay off this portion of your trip (so for me my MasterCard billing cycle ends on the 12th of the month, so I will spend my budget for that month up until the 11th, then I will continue with my next month budget on the 12th.. I do this because once you get into looking and finding cool places to stay you want to keep booking things, you don’t want to wait! )

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Finding Flights

After I have made my skeleton itinerary I will decide when I want to fly in. Flights are usually cheapest when you clear your computer history and cache cookies (no clue what that means but just clear your history) because once your computer catches onto you looking up flights the prices may go up… Booking flights during the week like a Tuesday afternoon are usually cheaper as well, who knows why. Flying days are also cheaper on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday as well because most people like to travel on the weekends.

I will google : Destination to Destination (ex: Calgary to Bangkok) and I will look through sites like cheapflights.com or kayak.com, while deleting my history every once in a while. I will keep a list of how long the flights are and how much they cost in a spreadsheet. I will keep watching these flights for quite some time before actually booking them. Flights are usually cheapest about 40 days before you want to depart but I have watched flights before and got killer prices like months in advance. When I see a really low price for a flight that has the least amount of fly time I will book it. No waiting when you want a good price !

Inner flights or other travel

Once I have my main flights booked I am good to start booking the rest of my trip ! I will go back to my skeleton itinerary and fill in my new flight information, I will then start booking my trip in the order I will be traveling. I do this so that if a train doesn’t go on a certain day of the week that I need to travel to the next place, I can just adjust my itinerary and not have to cancel or extend previous rooms.

When traveling larger or more spread out Countries like Thailand or Vietnam I like to look at trains, buses and flights. With such a short period of time for me to be traveling around I might pay the extra few dollars (literally like 5$ difference sometimes in Asia) to take a flight instead of sitting on a train for 18 hours. The inner flights in these Countries range from 40-150$ CAD which is super cheap ! The only thing with this is you need to be prepared with your luggage on what to check under the plane and what to bring on, you have to keep your bag flight ready during your holiday.

I do enjoy taking the night train in these places as well, they range from 50-100$ CAD and are a lot of fun. I enjoy these because you travel while you sleep instead of losing an entire day you could be enjoying sitting on a train. They are also very luxurious trains if you buy the beds instead of the chairs and its a great way to see a ton of the Country instead of just flying everywhere. I also really like the trains because if I want to travel to one destination to go Scuba Diving but I only want to be there for 1-2 days, I might fly in and then take the train out (to avoid the decompression chamber!)

The local buses are also a good way to get around. They are super cheap sometimes less than 1$ to get from one end of town to the other. The locals on the trains are also very helpful if you are not sure what bus to get on or when to get off. I tend to carry around a card of my hotel or hostel with me so I can easily ask anyone while pointing to the address, in case they don’t speak English.

When to go

I always book my vacations around the same time every year because that’s when school is done (for my traveling partners) and that’s when there is a lull in my job. But I would check where you want to go and what the weather is there before booking a trip. You may end up traveling in typhoon season, or rainy season which might put a damper in your plans.

Booking rooms

Once I have my main flights booked, and most of my inner travel like my trains, buses, and flights, I will start going through the places I want to stay. In areas like Asia where the cabs or getting around is cheap I don’t really care where I stay. In other Countries where the cabs might be expensive I would either stay close to the train station or airport, or I would find a place in the heart of the action so I could explore around without paying for expensive cabs.

I google “Ho chi Minh hotel or hostel” and just start looking at prices, reviews, and what is included (breakfast, free shuttle pickup). I also ask the people I am traveling with to look as well and usually we book the places they choose.

Things to do

In my itinerary I will also leave a section for “things to do”.When I am researching I may find this museum is amazing, or this is the best beach in this town, I can then write this down in that City spot and when we arrive there we are not looking for things to do, we already have a list of possible adventures to go on. I also write down the hours of operation for some things such as “Asia Park” in Vietnam is only open from 3 pm – 10 pm, so we don’t plan to wake up early on day to go and find out it is closed. I also put down how much something costs so we can budget our money, or know how much to take out at the ATM.

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Visa

Visa are different for every Country so I would just google whether the Country you live in needs a visa for the Country you want to visit. Most of the time you can just buy the visa online or upon arrival. This is something I would absolutely look into for every Country you go to as you might be denied entry if you didn’t get an approval letter or a stamp in your passport. The prices for each visa are different so again, just google it or read other people’s online threads.

Thailand night train- 1st and 2nd class

Are we really travel savvy ?

How do you not move ?

Booking vacations for yourself is actually super fun, I don’t see it as work. I get the joy of booking places and flights and putting together my itinerary for months prior to my trip and then I get to go and enjoy myself.

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Back-PACKING list

My biggest question before any and EVERY trip is WHAT DO I PACK!!???

Here are my little tips and trick to the perfect backpacking pack.

Ok.. So I do have a fairly large backpack... OK, its Quite large… at I believe 85 Liters! The thing is larger than me at some points! But I do have a reason for this! I LOOOVVEEE shopping on my vacations, especially in Asia where everything is super duper cheap ! I have also found such beautiful things in Europe and they also have really cute things for cheap at markets in the middle of no where. I never know what I am going to find, or fall in love with, so I always come prepared anyways.

On route to my Vacation

  1. I pack literally any clothes (weather approving for where I am going- of course!) that I no longer want! I wear these clothes and then instead of washing them I will pass them along to a local who will love them just as much as I did in the beginning. I found the ladies in Thailand that clean your room just love getting handy-me-downs (because uh who doesn’t!?)
  2. I also make sure that I go to the dollar store or anywhere that sells small little empty bottles and I fill them with my face wash, my shampoo, conditioner, etc. so that I can use them up and throw them out and they won’t take up room in my pack. Now, you CAN buy shampoo and conditioner and lotion, and everything all over the world. I have blonde hair and use purple shampoo, I am also picky on what I use so this is why I BRING mine instead of buying it there. That being said, things like lotion and sunscreen in Asia I am very weary about buying because I don’t read the local language and I have to be careful not to buy anything with whitener in it… that’s right, we try to tan while they try to get white.

Here is my Holy Grail backpacking list:

Day pack (smaller backpack that I use on day trips, or to go to the beach, also my carry on for the airplane) :

  • Airplane pillow (I will ONLY use the ones that you can blow up and deflate as they are way easier to carry around)
  • Sarong- I use this on the ghetto flights that may not give you a blanket
  • Headphone, I pod, Phone (some people will bring), camera, all charges, converter (some places, such as Thailand have the same plugs as us so just double check)
  • Travel journal/ pen, book (again, one that I don’t care about that I can read and leave behind or possibly trade another traveler for their book)
  • All documents (passport, travel insurance, Student ID (some places give discounts to students! Who knew), credit card, debit card, cash, birth certificate, all itineraries, extra passport photos as you might need for visa’s)
  • Some warmer clothes for those cold airplanes (1 sweater, 1 pair of long leggings)
  • Sunglasses
  • Deodorant (cause I sweat on the plane… HA!)
  • small purse (I use one that goes across my body and then I also use a carabiner clip to attach my inner wallet to my purse so I can tell if someone if trying to pick pocket me)

Big backpack:

  • Walking shoes (I usually find an old pair I don’t care about anymore, wear them and then ditch them before coming home)
  • Flip Flops (or you can buy a new pair there !)
  • Rain jacket (again I just bring a cheap one that I can leave if I find I am not using it)
  • Also a rain cover for your backpack is a life saver when you have to walk to your hostel in the pouring down rain!
  • tooth brush, tooth paste (can buy there)
  • Hair ties, Bobby pins, brush
  • shampoo, conditioner, lotion, sunscreen, aloe Vera, (again all smaller bottles) hair products ( I like to bring stuff like coconut oil that I can leave in my hair a day I am going to the beach so it doesn’t dry out)
  • a hat/ bandanna
  • razors
  • lip chap
  • face-wash/body soap
  • Diva cup/tampons
  • any medications/pills, aspirin, gravol, band-aids, tweezers
  • 1 pair long leggings (in my day pack for the plane)
  • 1 sweater ( In my day pack for the plane)
  • 2 reg t-shirts
  • 1 sarong (or you could buy one there as they are all very pretty and cheap !)
  • 3 bathing suits
  • 2 pair of shorts
  • 1 dress
  • 1 skirt
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 bra (sport bra type for me)
  • 5 pair underwear (bathing suits work as underwear as well)

By the end of my trip, or sometimes even half way through, I will have worn and used most of these things and will either throw them away or leave them for someone else to have. I will then go shopping and fill my then empty bag up to the brim (sometimes even buying a second bag… GUILTY)

its like Christmas coming home and seeing all that you bought ! I will be doing a blog strictly on all the things I have bought in different places one day, so stay tuned ! (So worth it! )

Read my Shopping Blog Here