Category Archives: Travel & Adventure

How to Get Better Travel Photos from Total Strangers

Whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple, or in a group of friends, at some point or another, you’re going to need to ask a perfect stranger to take a photo of you. Oh dear. What will you do?

Now, some people might say, who cares? Just pick anyone who is willing. But not I. No, you see, I understand the importance of choosing the right person to capture your memories. For travellers whom genuinely seek quality photos of their once-in-a-lifetime adventures, who you pick matters.

Asking a stranger for a photo is like rolling the dice on your precious memories; there’s no way of knowing what the outcome will be. You’re taking a chance on their skill, commitment level, and eye for layout. So how can you guarantee a better picture? Well, you can start by better vetting your potential photographers. Not all strangers are made equal. Here’s what to look for:

Intense cameras 

No explanation necessary. You know these guys mean business. However, try not to interrupt them while they’re getting their own shots. They will take a rushed photo of you so they can get back to their own pictures. Let them do their thing.

Go pros

These people know how to take a mean action shot. In my experience, these guys are the most likely to give you a solid range of options. You can trust them.

Solo travellers

They need your help as much as you need theirs. Especially if they’re female travellers looking for that highly coveted insta worthy shot. You just can’t go wrong here.

400 photo takers

They may not take the best shots, but you know you’ll get lots of options to choose from. Chances are, at least one will be a winner.

People with your device 

Avoid confusion. Find someone who doesn’t need teaching. Especially if you’re shooting with a more advanced camera. iPhone, find iPhone, Nikon, find Nikon, etc. It just makes sense.

Additional tip:

Offer to take a picture of them first

You can subtly show them how you would frame the photo, and they will likely offer to return the favour.

Is this guide foolproof? No. Not at all. Not even a little. But, hope is not a strategy. This half-assed pseudo strategy may just be the one you need to help you get the photo you want.

If all else fails, get a selfie stick and call it a day.

Good luck, and happy shooting.

Travel photos of me taken by strangers: 

 

 

Travelling with Grief

Anyone who’s lived through the loss of a loved one knows how truly challenging it can be to live with grief. While everyone experiences loss differently, it can often be a roller coaster of confusing and complicated emotions. Especially if your loved one had a big impact on your day to day life. From sadness to anger to a desperation, keeping up with the emotional fallout can be completely exhausting. Especially while trying to keep up with the ever-changing world that continues to buzz on around you.

Unfortunately, life has a way of moving on from loss faster than you do. For a while, friends and family do their best to help you through your tough transition. But, naturally, there comes a time when friends return to their lives, jobs expect you back at the office, and even your dog requires your return to daily rituals. While the world keeps on chugging forward, you feel frozen in your grief – stuck mourning your loss and trying to figure out how to start living again. Losing a loved one can change your life forever, and at times, it can feel like the rest of the world just doesn’t give a crap.

A few months after my mother’s passing, the world had already moved on. My friends assumed I was getting back on track, my extended family returned to their own lives, and the pressures of the post-grad job search started closing in on me. While life continued to happen around me, inside, I was nowhere near ready to start living again. So, overwhelmed, scared, and eager to escape the pressure to move on, I decided to pack up and run away to Europe for my first backpacking adventure.

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Spain, 2012

Travelling is great for the soul no matter what state that soul is in. The experience of getting out of your comfort zone, trying something new, and challenging your status quo can be incredibly liberating and enlightening for just about anyone. But travel can be especially fulfilling – and even therapeutic – for people going through serious life changes. Whether it’s a breakup, a loss of direction, or the loss of a loved one, travel allows you to grow and find yourself in a compact, approachable way. And when you bring your grief along for the ride, truly great things can happen.

The first thing I learned while travelling with grief – and it didn’t take long to learn it – was that no matter how far you go, you can’t run from your pain. It will always be there waiting for you whenever you have a moment of downtime. At your hostel, on a train, even at the top of a mountain. There is no escaping your grief. Luckily, I also learned why I shouldn’t try. When you travel with grief…

1. You give yourself time to transition

One of the more challenging aspects of recovering from loss is living with the ghost of your loved one. When someone close to you passes, they can leave a massive hole in your life, reminding you of their absence over and over again. Attempting to live on like nothing has changed is near impossible with this constant reminder. Travelling can act as a sort of pallet cleanser after a loss, helping you transition from your old life with your loved one, to your new one without them. Think of it as an emotional buffer, allowing you to step out of your day-to-day just long enough to get some distance and clarity, then return to your new situation as a new person.

2.  You escape external pressures

After a loss, it can feel like your life has stopped, but the world continues whipping around you at high speed. The expectations, responsibilities, and pressures to move on can add anxiety and confusion to an already challenging time in your life. When you travel, you strip all of that away, allowing yourself some time and space to focus on your pain – free of all the other emotional noise. Travelling allows you a chance to feel a more purified, distilled version of grief that can be hugely beneficial to your overall healing process. Sometimes, you just need the space to truly feel.

3.  You find yourself

If you were close to your loved on, their disappearance from your life can have you questioning who you are without them. Redefining yourself and rediscovering your certainty after loss is no small task. While it may take a long time to settle into the new you, travel can help you kick-start the process. You can learn a lot about yourself when you hit the road for distant lands. Experiencing new things and encountering new challenges can help you discover your likes and dislikes while diving deeper into what drives you and helps you feel alive.

4. You rediscover your self-confidence

Overcoming the challenges of navigating a foreign country can help you find the confidence you need to believe you can live on without your loved one. You will find the proof you need in your capabilities and self-reliance while you explore incredible new worlds.

5. Finally, you learn to embrace your grief

When my mother died, I literally fled to another continent in an attempt to escape my pain. I never expected that the resulting adventure would change the direction of my entire life. From that trip on, I learned that instead of fighting my grief, I could use it to fuel my adventurous spirit, letting it take me to places I never thought I’d go. I would never have gotten on that plane had it not been for my grief. Now, I have a long and exciting bucket list that I’m slowly chipping away at, taking the memory of my mother with me everywhere I go. A lot of good can come from loss when you learn to embrace it and let it lead you to new adventures.

You may never truly move on from your loss. But it doesn’t need to be a burden on your back. On my most recent hike of the Tour Du Mont Blanc, four and a half years after my first grief vacation to Europe, I found myself at the Grand Col Ferret, 2,537 feet above sea level, struggling to get to the peak. I had sprained my ankle and was exhausted from carrying my 40-pound backpack up the steep incline to the border between Italy and Switzerland. It was an incredible view, and the crisp mountain air helped push me forward. But that day, I was not on top of my game. The night before, I’d had a dream about my late mother, and while I always enjoy a surprise appearance from my mom in my dreams, the emotional distraction made my climb that day much more challenging. Nearing the end of my emotional rope, my resolve broken, I started to cry. So I stopped and took a few deep breaths. For just a moment, I stared out at the mountain, and I shared a moment with my mom. I showed her the view, shared a few anecdotes from my adventure so far, and asked her if she was proud of me. Though I knew I wouldn’t receive any kind of real response, I knew that she was. And with her support in my heart, I was able to pick myself up again and finish the trek to the top of the Col – an accomplishment I will always cherish.

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Grand Col Ferret

There will never be a time when I don’t miss my mom, but I know that she will always be with me, cheering me on from the sidelines.

Loss is something that is personal to everyone, and there are many ways to cope with it in your life. But if you have a few weeks and some cash to spare, my advice is to pack up your emotional baggage and hit the road. You will not regret it. I promise.

Throwback to Europe, 2012 – the trip that changed my life

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G Adventures Presents World Tourism Day & Sustainable Travel

Last week, I was lucky enough to join some of Canada’s most forward-thinking travellers in celebrating World Tourism Day. In an event hosted by G Adventures, we celebrated the amazing world of travel and the work, effort, and ethics that go into building a better travel industry.

G Adventures has long been a company built on sustainability and ethical travel. But this year, they’ve decided to take their philosophy even father.

Around 7:30 pm, after exploring some fascinating exhibits, enjoying their signature cranberry cucumber cocktail, and enjoying a few delectable appetizers, G Adventures’ CEO Bruce Poon Tip took the stage. He began by explaining the saddening reality of how little money spent on tours in impoverished countries actually stays in those countries. While many travel agencies make a profit off of our desire to see the world, the countries that rely on tourism for economic growth rarely see any of it. The percentage of the world’s population living in poverty has decreased within the last several years, but there is still a lot more that can be done to help bring that number down to zero.

With great passion and excitement, Bruce unveiled his 2017 plans to help do just that.

His first unveiling of the night was a series of trips under the Travel Better name. These trips are specifically meant to fund local communities, shops, and individuals in countries in need. Everything from cooking classes to bike tours to festivals will be offered, with proceeds going where they are needed the most. With a simple shift in mindset, Bruce and the G Adventures team are able to spread the wealth to those in need while inspiring us all to see every corner of the world.

His second announcement is the coming together of G Adventures with animal activist legend Jane Goodall. Together, they have created the new Jane Goodall collection. This is a collection of wildlife-focused tours allows travellers to get up close and personal with some amazing animals, while still respecting their freedom and safety. In the world of tourism, it’s easy to fall for the tourist traps that have foundations in animal cruelty. From camel tours to elephant rides and even tiger sanctuaries, many of these operations rely on the harming of animals to make a profit. These tours give travellers the assurance that they will be gaining unforgettable experiences without harming any of the animals involved. And I think that is something we can all get behind.

As tourists and guests in other countries, it’s important that we’re always aware of our impact on the places we visit. If we can leave a country even slightly better off than when we got there, then it’s worth doing what we can.

Congrats to Bruce and the team for their new tours. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for all of us.

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