Volunteering, Community and Connection in Tanzania

Giving back and supporting others – that’s what makes the world go round. In fact, I forgot just how much immersing myself in a different culture, giving back and working alongside the people sets my soul on fire. The sharing of energies in these situations amazing.

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While in Tanzania I took part in a volunteer project with UGO Travel For Change and we partnered with The Dare Women’s Foundation. It has been so many years since I partook in a group trip. Yet the values of UGO Travel For Change spoke to my core, so it was a no brainer to go on this adventure with them. Plus the group of women(and one guy) on this trip fit together like a perfect puzzle. It was amazing how much we all complimented each other as a group. I would for sure join UGO again.

The Dare Women’s Foundation does incredible work in Tanzania. It is an NGO working to empower Tanzanian women and girls, with a focus on rural areas, through poverty alleviation, social justice, economic empowerment, and gender equality.

The foundation had a piece of land donated to them, and with it, they plan on building a home where women who need shelter can live, heal and work on building a sustainable future. We came to help build them a fence to enclose their property.

I love hands-on work. There is something so satisfying about getting dirty and doing physical labour. Especially when you are doing it alongside an amazing community of locals. It was very hot, and that took to get used to, but the sweatiness just added to the whole experience. This is literally where the term ‘sweat hot mess’ is very fitting.

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Every day the mama’s would come and out of nowhere they would build fires on the ground and whip up the most incredible meals. I mean unbelievable meals. Makes me think I need to step up my game next time I am camping.

Song and dance accompanied all the tasks and even the bus rides. There was always singing going on. It always amazes me how the people in Africa truly know how to enjoy life. Making the most of every day and every moment.

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I would have to say the cement was the hardest part of the work. First, we had to mix it on the ground and then we had to carry it in buckets to the fence where we then poured into the ground to create the cement base. Most of the buckets didn’t have proper handles so that would be why I would say it was the hardest. It was more so just painful for the hands.

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The baby goats made my day – every day! The neighbours were kind enough to let us use their outhouse for the duration of the project and on their little property; they had cows, goats and chickens. I had no idea that playing with baby goats is one of my absolute favourite things to do in life. Now I know.

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Before we finished the project, we each planted a tree on the property. The significance being we leave a piece of us that will grow and be something beautiful when we return.

On our final day, we had a farewell party. All the mamas came as well as the construction guys for lunch and a little ceremony so we could thank them for all of their amazing hospitality. We all pitched in to prepare the food with as much love as they used to prepare all of our food.

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We sang we ate, we danced, and we said our heartfelt ‘see you again’ to each other.

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It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It encompassed so many of my passions all in one and it ignited this massive desire to incorporate more of this into my life once again. It is a good reminder we should always take the time to do something we love, whatever lights us up, even if it is just something brief, as that light we gain from it will overflow to all areas of our life.

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The more you give the more you get, and I am starting 2019 off full of gratitude. It is about more than just giving back. On the deeper side, it is about community and connection on a global scale.

Diaries Of A Road Trip From Alberta To Utah

Cruising down the open road of adventure with the tunes blasting is one of the most soul-soothing places to be.

I have done one road trip in the United States prior to this one, and it was from Texas to Arizona. I had such an incredible time that I knew right then I would be embarking on some more adventures on the USA highways. There is a lot to see, and I really dislike missing out on things in life. It is kind of a pet peeve.

This time around the trip began in Calgary, Alberta and finished in Salt Lake City, Utah. Aside from the smoke from the forest fires, the conditions were pretty amazing.

Before even departing from Canada the sights were pretty pristine. First stop was at Lundbreck Falls near to Pincher Creek in Southern Alberta. The Crownest river flows right over into the canyon below to create these small but mighty falls.

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It is a great opportunity to take a swim or simply kick your shoes off and dip your toes in for a nice refresher before hitting the highway again. There is also a campground in the area if you feel like sticking around for a while.

From there it is not a long drive before you reach the US/Canada border. Even though I am a world traveller, the excitement of crossing a border into a new country gets me every time. The appeal just never wears off.

So yes, I was excited! To say the least. It was as if I was off on my first adventure once again.

Hello Montana!

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Now let me tell you about our initial experience with Montana.

It started off really exciting. Not long into our time there we came across this very interesting historical spot. It was a stunning spot. Minus the smoke.

Then, we drove, and drove, and drove some more. We saw plenty of prairie land. As the day was turning into night and we had driven for hours, plus we were hungry, we pulled into a place called Great Falls. It was about 9 pm, and everything was closed. There was barely any people or vehicles, yet there were loads of police patrolling around. It was a bit eery, so we left. Perhaps it is actually very amazing and we just arrived there at a quiet time. Something I am not sure I will ever be back figure out.

From there we drove on to Helen the capital of Montana. We figured surely it is the capital city so there would be lots going on there…. Alas, it was also deadsville. There was nobody around, most things were shut, there were not even lights on in houses and it was only 11pm. All we could find open was a Mcdonalds, so that is what we settled for as our stomachs were gnawing away at us.

Just outside of Helen we found a roadside turnout which is where we decided to sleep for the night. Thank goodness for having a jeep with a back seat that folds down.

Would have been a little more comfortable if I had of remembered a foamy.

We hit the road bright an early at 6 am and let me tell you, we were not in prairie land anymore.

Lining the highways were rocky hills, looking totally majestic and awe-inspiring. It was pitch black the night before and all we could see was the fluorescent markers on the road.

What a pleasant surprise in the morning to see what we were amidst. The landscape changed from the rocky hills to tree blanketed mountains.

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Suddenly you could see people fly fishing in the river, and the magic of Montana was taking over. I was worried there for a bit.

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The fact that Yellowstone National Park was so close, and the opportunity to enter yet another state on this adventure, we clearly had no choice yet to take another detour. So off to Wyoming it was!

I had never researched Yellowstone National Park or seen photos, or even knew what to expect what-so-ever. I knew I had definitely heard of it and I was totally looking forward to the spontaneous adventure.

Once again, I was blown away.

The best part is, is when you go into something with no expectations, then there is no room for a letdown, and only room to be amazed.

From the minute we entered the park, it was a smorgasbord of the mother natures finest offerings. My jaw had to be picked up off of the floor a few times.

The Paint Pots are especially memorable. Throughout the whole park there are several dispersed collections of geothermal features which is an expression of Yellowstone’s volcanism, of which the paint pots are most popular. They are like nothing I have ever seen before. I actually didn’t even know things like this existed prior to this visit.

No two features are exactly alike, and they range from those that have a lot of water(hot springs and geysers), and those that have a limited amount of water(mud pots and fumaroles).

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There is a beautifully built path so you can walk along and take in all of the majestic power and incredible beauty of this amazing display.

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We arrived early in the day and the parking lot was already full! It is a popular spot, which is something to keep in mind.

From there you can take another short drive to Yellowstone Lake, which is the largest body of water in Yellowstone National Park. It is a perfect location to just sit and take in the sights, or dip your toes in the water for a little refresher.

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What a treat that little pit stop in Yellowstone National Park was!

From there it was a short cruise to Idaho, where you can take a moment to appreciate Idaho Falls.

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Another very unique destination where there are waterfalls that were created by a diversion dam for a hydroelectric power project.

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They are quite long and very different from any waterfalls I have ever seen.

The cherry on top of this spectacular road trip cake was cruising around Salt Lake City on scooters. Not only was I blown away at how clean and tranquil the city felt, but I was also super excited to see these little joy rides.

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This seriously rocked my world. I had no idea I would have so much fun burning around on these.

The coolest part was that you use an app to rent them, and you just pick them up and leave them anywhere and everywhere. There are no particular spots for them. So if you are walking along and suddenly realize you need to get somewhere, or you no longer feel like walking, you just sign on on your app and take off.

Road tripping in the United States just continually proves to be epic time and time again. It is hard not to anticipate the next one.

Say yes to adventure! You never know where it will lead you.

Takakkaw Waterfalls And The Whiskey Jack Wilderness Hostel

Solo adventures in pristine destinations. That is a win-win if you ask me. There is nothing like being disconnected from the world, and totally immersed and connected to nature. That is where ultimate recharging happens. High heeled in the city and barefoot in the bush.

Plus taking myself on the best ‘me time’ dates ever is just what I do.

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I have been ever so grateful to have experienced a few various wilderness hostels this summer. It has been on my bucket list for years and this year I made it happen.

Recently I made my way to Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park. These falls are some of the highest in Canada, and their remote and lush location simply adds to their magical majestic splendor.

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They are only a summer destination as the road to visit them is closed in the winter.

Located in perfect view and a short hiking distance to the waterfalls is The Whiskey Jack Hostel.

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It is a wilderness hostel where you get basic and very comfortable accommodations.

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There is no cell phone reception, triple decker bunk beds, a kitchen with a propane stove and refrigeration, and there are even toilets and showers in the rooms, which is a big luxury as the other wilderness hostels I stayed at only had outhouses on offer.

 

I absolutely love the tranquility of being in nature, and being totally in the moment doing nothing other then recharging with natures endless abundance of energy.

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The beds were actually super comfy, and truly nothing could beat that view. I sat there in the evening with me tea, and in the morning with my coffee.

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Of course I also did spend a lot of time barefoot connecting with the earth. Yet there were also a lot of slugs.

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It was like a little slug mine field, which means watching my step while I was running around barefoot took some careful placement. I wasn’t really interested in experiencing what it would feel like to squish a slug with my barefoot. Not only that, they seemed so happy doing there little missions, I would have not wanted to abruptly end that for one of them.

Right from The Whiskey Jack hostel there are plenty of trails to hike, there are also plenty of wilderness campsites located in various spots throughout the forest in the area. Another activity I want to return to enjoy.

Hiking up to the Takakkaw Falls is so amazing and so easy from the hostel.

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You can feel the power and energy pulsating all around you. There is the Yoho glacier very near by.

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To the left in the distance behind the trees is the Yoho Glacier

From that the glacier river that flows past the waterfalls.

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As you walk the path just over the bridge towards the waterfalls the surroundings turn so lush. It is impossible to not feast your eyes on the beautiful shades of green. Within moments on that path you will begin to feel the mist from the falls. Refreshing and cold, it is a spectacular feeling.

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Getting up close and personal is extremely accessible. No matter what your fitness level it, the hike is so easy, and you literally just walk right up to the base of the falls.

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That right there is where the ultimate surge of energy comes. Just when you thought the energy could not be any higher, you feel the pure boundless energy right at the base.

This whole experience left me feeling on top of the world, and full of over flowing recharged energy. My vibrations have been soaring ever since.

If you have not already been, I highly suggest getting yourself to Takakkaw falls, booking into the wilderness hostel or pitching a tent, turning off your cell phone as it ain’t going to work anyway, and recharging your awesome energy in one of the most energetically abundant places I have ever had the privilege to experience.

Top 5 Free Sights To See On The Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is labelled one of the most scenic drives in the world, and for a very good reason. While cruising along it you will be immersed in dazzling scenery the entire way. From beginning to end, you will never in your life forget the feast that your eyes indulged in.

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From all the various lakes, rivers, streams and waterfalls, to the exquisite mountain ranges and majestic glacier, you will be in total awe for the whole trip.

Every single visit I make to the Icefields Parkway, I never cease to be totally amazed. It supplies you with an energy surge like none other. You literally feel on top of the world.

Throughout the Icefields Parkway, there are plenty of lodges, hostels, and even the glacier experience.

Yet if you want to do things on the cheap, there are so many amazing and free things to see. Some of the best experiences you will ever have will be those that cost you nothing, other than a little time in nature and tank of gas.

So without further adieu, here are my top 5 free sights to see on the Icefields Parkway.

     1. Valley Of The Five Lakes

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A beautiful, very comfortable and easily navigated 4.5km hike where you will be amazed at the stunning beauty of the 5 lakes.

Each lake has pristine turquoise blue water, yet also boasting their own unique beauty and shape. It seems around every corner you are wowed with mother natures splendour.

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The paths are extremely well maintained with sign postings throughout for easy navigation. You will be ridiculously happy that you made the decision to embark on this little journey.

          2. Athabasca Falls

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The green glacier water from the Athabasca Valley Glacier that flows over this cliff is sure to get your appreciation for nature peaking.

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Surrounded by the incredible mountain range, it brings the magical energy of this spot up to an all-time high.

The falls may be small, yet you can feel the power of the water when you are right beside them. Flowing straight through a gorge only adds to its majestic beauty.

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With well maintained and easily accessible paths surrounding the falls, you will be delighted at all of the pristine photo opportunities of all angles that are on offer.

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     3. Sunwapta Falls

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These tiny falls are the perfect spot to stop and have a little sample of when things are small in size, yet big in beauty.

With that glacier water and unforgettable views, you will once again be amazed at the landscape.

     4. The Athabasca Glacier

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Awe-inspiring. That is exactly what it is. Getting up close and personal with a glacier is an incredibly powerful feeling. It is an easy hike up a path to the base of the glacier, and totally free to do also.

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Prior to this experience I never imagined that a glacier would feel this incredible. The power of nature is all over it.

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The sad part is, is that the glacier is melting at an accelerated rate, which means in the next 100 years it may very well be pretty much gone. So now is the time to get a good look at it.

     5. The Iconic Peyto Lake

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Where dreams are made of. A short uphill hike will take you to this dreamy spot, where you will see that mother nature did not hold back in creating this canvas to be one of mind-blowing proportions.

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The colour of the water is so vibrant it will create waves of inspirational emotion in your mind.

It is so easy to sit and get lost in the splendour of it all. Taking your imagination to new heights. It will make you wish you could stay forever.

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These 5 places will set your soul on fire and re-charge your energy like none other. Let’s not forget – one of the main reasons to visit the Icefields Parkway is to simply enjoy the endless array of beauty that you will not even believe. Seeing is believing, yet when it is that good, it is still hard to believe.

A feast for the eyes, and a treat for the soul.

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What can I say? The best things in life truly are free!

How To Maintain Your Gut Health While You Travel

It is no secret that keeping a healthy gut while you travel can be quite the feat. From airplane food to the uncertainty of food quality abroad and all the foreign germs in between. Our micro domes in our guts can sometimes become very unhappy with us. Introduce something that doesn’t belong and a serious revolt can happen faster than a blink of the eye.

With digestive issues and illnesses looming around every corner when travelling, it is important to not only be ready to treat it should it so arise, but to also take preventative measures, as to avoid it at all costs if possible. Plus, you will have a much more enjoyable travel experience without any gut setbacks.

Our bodies are introduced to so many different foods and germs while travelling, and our immune systems tend to also be compromised which makes it easier to have issues.

Here are a few tips to help keep your gut in tip-top shape and happy while exploring the world.

Always have probiotics on hand.

Preferably probiotics that made for on the go. I love this one from Usana. They come in convenient individual packs that you can put in your bag or pocket, add to water, juice, or simply open the pack and pop it in your mouth and then wash it down with a sip of your beverage of choice.

Many places offer probiotic kombucha drinks, and in virtually every country you can find yogurt or sauerkraut, which are also full of live healthy bacteria for your gut flora. Our gut is what regulates our immune system, so implementing as many probiotics as possible is a great way to prevent anything dodgy from causing you problems.

Carry a bottle of therapeutic grade Oregano Oil with 80% or more carvacrol when you travel. 

Oregano is a powerhouse against viruses and bacteria, among a whole host of other incredible benefits. Which includes tummy bugs, foreign bacteria, and food poisoning. The main ways we have gut issues when we travel.

When ingesting it, be sure to only add a few drops to a carrier oil such as coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, or whichever oil you can get your hands on. Oregano oil is very strong, so a few drops in a carrier oil held under your tongue for a couple minutes, repeated a few times a day, will rid you of any pesky bacteria that is causing mayhem in your gut.

Have a bottle of Olive Leaf Extract Capsules made with 25% Oleuropein Extract on hand.

Not only does olive leaf extract lower high blood pressure and preserve cognitive function, but it also is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic. Which means if you end up with a not so friendly bacteria or parasite, olive leaf extract will save the day. combined with oregano oil and there is no bacteria, virus or parasite that will get by unscathed.

Ingest gut health promoting superfoods daily. 

I always travel with chlorella on hand, and I always eat things such as chia seeds and drink hot lemon water. Lemons are available worldwide, and chia seeds also are often not hard to find. Both will keep things moving swiftly in the gut region. Chlorella cleans the blood, filters out heavy metals and greatly improves your overall digestion while also providing very important digestive enzymes.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Often the importance of hydration is overlooked or forgotten. Hydration keeps things flowing in your gut, and helps to prevent bacteria and viruses from latching on. Plus if you do catch something, it will flush it out. When your illness strikes your gut, it can easily get dehydrated, so it is best to always have water or tea on hand and on the go. Coconut water is another great option for hydrating and getting in those electrolytes.

A happy gut makes a happy traveller. It sucks when you get stricken with gut issues when on the road. Nobody wants to hug the toilet if they don’t have too. With a few prevention methods and a good natural emergency kit, you will be happy, healthy, radiant and ready for life’s endless adventures.

 

 

 

Spring At Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake, in Yoho National Park, is a classic beauty. Discovered accidentally over 100 years ago by a famous European mountain guide named Tom Wilson, while he was searching for his horses who went astray.

It is a destination that will never cease to impress you with its natural splendours. With spring having arrived, things are beginning to melt and seemingly come to life again. It is always amazing to watch the transformation of nature every year. Especially if you make sure to always take the time to stop and appreciate it all.

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In the summer Emerald lake is so magical, with the sun glistening over the aquamarine water, creating a vibrant iridescent colour that can drop your jaw and ignite your soul.

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The snow and ice-covered lake and mountain peaks, of winter and spring, are equally as picturesque as they come and also known to be some of the most impressive in the Rocky Mountains. With the lakes claim to fame being the stunning emerald colour of the water, one might think that it would be quiet during the off-season months.

However, that is not the case what so ever. As you stroll the paths, taking in the sunshine and spectacular views, there are plenty of other nature enthusiasts paying a visit to this unforgettable spot all throughout the various seasons.

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On this fine spring day, the birds were chirping, and the flies were buzzing around. Two clear indications that summer is on its way. As opposed to what mother nature is making people think when winter seems to be lingering well into spring. Don’t you worry, I am certain, summer is right around the corner.

I do love all of the seasons, I think the only thing that gets a bit hard is the lingering when seasons are supposed to change.

The Emerald Lake Lodge which is situated right beside the lake is actually open all year round, and there are plenty of activities to enjoy in the area during every season. In the winter it is known for its cross-country skiing, and in the summer for its canoeing and hiking.

Let me just say, the thought of a nice cabin style room, with a warm fire blazing in the corner on a chilly spring night, truly seems so appealing.

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Emerald Lake is a breathtaking place, with endless beauty to be appreciated, rain, shine or snow. An absolute must see if you find yourself in the area on a beautiful spring day.

10 Truths About Solo Travel

Discovering new destinations and far-off lands. Immersing yourself in a totally new culture and language. Living every day as the new adventure that it is. All while on your own terms, on your own journey of discovery, which doesn’t only mean places, but it also means of ‘Self’. That is what solo travel is all about.

I personally love solo travel more than anything else. For me, it’s where I connect with myself and the world on the deepest level. It’s a time where you will be pushed so far out of your element, that you have no choice but to grow and transform.

My solo travels have taken me around Central and South America, across the Amazon, throughout Africa from South Africa to Egypt, all around Europe and on my own home soil of Canada.

Through it all, you do tend to learn a few things, and a bit more.

Here are 10 truths that I have learned from my life experiences of solo travel.

1. Booking The Flight Is The Hardest Part – yes you read that right. The majority of the time we can think too much about that solo trip that we yearn to take. The new destination that we want to discover. All while doing exactly that. Just thinking about it. Once you take that step of booking your ticket, you suddenly just solidified the trip. The rest is just details now. You’re doing it! You’re going on your solo adventure.

2. You Will Be Challenged – let’s be real here. If you are taking yourself completely out of your comfort zone, away from everyone and everything that you know, you will absolutely be challenged. It’s a whole new ballpark out there. Challenge is amazing though and is best received when welcomed. If you remind yourself that through a challenge is where you become a better version of yourself, then there is nowhere to go but up. To live boldly is to accept a challenge, and use it as a catapult to the next amazing step of your life.  With or without solo travel, life will be challenging. Plus, you can pick easier destinations for your solo trip. Ease your way into it. I chose the most difficult because I am always looking for a new challenge.

3. You Will Develop Your Intuition – it’s true, you and that little voice that you often ignore in your day to day life, will suddenly become best friends. As the way, it should be. Your intuition knows what’s going on, and it will never steer you wrong. When you are navigating through new and foreign lands, you will learn very fast that you best be listening to your inner voice. It is your built-in compass. Developing your intuition will continue to be a tool that strengthens the rest of your life. This is a massive gift you will receive from solo travel.

4. You Will Get To Know Yourself Very Well – when it is just you and the open road of adventure, you have no one to lean on but yourself. At times things will be amazing, other times tough, and regardless of what situation presents itself, you will only have YOU to get on with it. Celebrating the highs and lows. You will come to know yourself very deeply. How you feel, how you react, what you truly like and dislike. It’s incredible. It is also a gift you will receive from solo travel. The gift that will keep on giving.

5. You Will Not Be Lonely – as opposed to what a lot of people think, travelling solo is not lonely at all. In fact, when you are alone, you are so open to everything, that you easily meet people. So much easier then when you are travelling with others, as when you are with others, you tend to get in your bubble and meet a lot fewer people. When I am alone, I meet not just other travellers, but so many more locals. They always invite me places, show me off the beaten track things, and I find I get the real cultural experience of the country in this way. I have so many more opportunities that present themselves when I am alone. Funny enough, you meet so many people when you are solo, it can be hard to get time to be SOLO.

6. Hostels Are A Great Place To Stay – let’s just say if you ever do find yourself actually feeling a tad lonely, then just go check into a hostel. You will make new friends immediately in any hostel. There are dorm rooms for the tight budget or private rooms if you prefer your privacy. I have stayed in plenty of stunningly beautiful and immaculately clean hostels in my time. Travel books and websites will always rate hostels, just as they do hotels, so you will have a good idea of what you will be arriving at. Many times over I have met amazing travel buddies at hostels, who are going in the same direction as me, so we team up to travel together for a bit. I have actually met some of my lifelong best friends in hostels.

7. When You Are Alone, People Will Go Out Of Their Way To Help You – that is after they question you if you are crazy for travelling alone. I have had that questions posed to me SO many times, particularly in third world countries where even the locals feel unsafe a lot of the time. Always, you will have people looking out for you when you are solo, making sure you are safe, that you get to your destination, that you are not getting ripped off. It’s truly amazing the beauty you will see in humanity when you are on a solo trip.

8. Single Supplement Costs Are Higher – yes, yes they are. If you are travelling with people you then are able to split costs of taxi’s, rooms, and get group costs on excursions. However, if I am craving ‘me time’ and just wanting to bask in my own company, then that is priceless and worth every extra penny so my vibes get recharged and remain high as heck.

9. If You Are A Solo Female, You Will Receive A lot Of Extra Male Attention – this is also depending on what continent you are on. Europe and North America are generally fine, but the catcalls in Central and South America can be a bit much, and the attention in Africa, will for sure become mentally exhausting. If you just take it all with a grain of salt, keep alert and level-headed, with a positive demeanour, and just remember it is truly just all part of the experience, then you will be just fine.

10. It Will Be The Most Freeing Experience Of Your Life – it’s like spread your wings and fly baby! Seriously, solo travel is a whole new realm. It’s all about you and what you want. Where you want to go, what you want to see, and what you want to eat. Sometimes in life, if only for a brief moment, it is so important to just DO YOU. That is what you get when you travel solo. A nice chunk of time where nothing else matters but you and spreading your awesome high vibes everywhere you go. You will get a taste of freedom like none other, and your eyes will be opened to the importance of finding and creating a bit of freedom in your everyday life. Soul food.

If you have never taken a solo trip in your life, then I highly recommend doing so.  Potentially you will find solo travel isn’t your thing, and you will decide that in the future you will only do group trips. Or perhaps like me, you will be feeling like ‘this is your jam’. Either way, I can guarantee you will come back from it with a stronger mindset, a deeper connection within yourself, a friendship with your intuition and some darn good stories.

The truth is, no matter how solo our trip may be, we are never truly alone.

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A scenic helicopter flight over Montserrat Island and the active Soufriere Hills Volcano

If you are looking for a must see unique experience, you, one that will leave an imprint on your mind – then a stunning and very scenic helicopter ride over Montserrat island to see an aerial view of the active Soufriere Hills volcano, and the now desolate city of Plymouth that was destroyed in its furry wake, should be on your travel bucket list.

Adventure, nature and science enthusiasts alike come to explore and view this natural phenomenon. The best way to see this exclusion zone and the only way to get an up close and view of the active volcano are by helicopter.

It is possible to visit the exclusion zone by ground, but you must have special permission from the police and be escorted by the company of an authorized tour guide. This is to ensure safe and rapid evacuation if need be. There is actually an alarm system installed around the island, in case there is volcano activity that could affect the rest of the island.

The Soufriere Hills volcano is the most studied volcano in the world. It is located in the southern part of the island and was thought to be dormant for 400 years prior to its awakening in 1995. Between 1995 and 1997, the eruptions and pyroclastic flow from the eruptions destroyed the once lush capital of Plymouth. Two-thirds of the island’s population was forced to flee, leaving less than 1200 residents by 1997. As of 2016, the population rose once again to approximately 5000 inhabitants, all residing in the North of the island. That is what information I learned.

This excursion is as unique as they come.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy this helicopter excursion is from Montserrat’s closest neighbouring island of Antigua. There are a few operators to choose from that are based in Antigua, I booked through Caribbean Helicopter tours, who offer plenty of tours a day and provide great customer service. If you book online with them, you will save $10.

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My first helicopter experience, I was pretty excited, and I can confirm, it won’t be my last.

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A short 15-minute flight from St. Johns Antigua to Montserrat, which boasts views of pristine blue waters, and lush mountainous islands, will leave you in complete awe and amazement from the beginning of your excursion.

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Upon arrival to the island of Montserrat, you will immediately fly right beside the 3000-foot-high active Soufriere Hills volcano. You can feel its majestic power, and see smoke, ash and steam being emitted from it. There is usually always a cloud cover over the very top.

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From there you get taken straight into the destruction zone.

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Plymouth has an eerie ghost town feel and look, with absolutely zero vegetation or animal life. The whole abandoned city is under a blanket of ash, some parts up to 40 feet deep. The helicopter gets nice and low so you feel as though you are right among it all. I can’t imagine being there and experiencing a heart breaking situation such as this.

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It’s amazing to see the landscape difference from where the pyroclastic flow from the eruption touched in comparison the lush landscape that was untouched. There is a clear line down the middle.

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After the tour of Plymouth, they take you one last time past the volcano, for the last look at one of natures biggest wonders.

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There is no denying that the scenic 50-minute helicopter flight over the island of Montserrat and the Soufriere Hills volcano is absolutely awe-inspiring, heart-wrenching, and will be a travel experience that will not be forgotten.

A day of rain forest and suspension bridge adventures in Vancouver

It’s so funny how you can visit a place numerous times in your life and always miss out on one of the coolest places to visit while your there. Seriously I wonder how on earth it took me so long to go and check out the Capilano suspension bridge park?!

I was in Vancouver and craving an escape from the city life. The Capilano suspension bridge park had caught my eye, so it was a done deal.

Upon entering the park you are immediately surrounded by totem poles. Appreciating this traditional art is something I always welcome.

The area is lush, green and smells amazing! It’s those intoxicating smells of nature. Also very cool that it is in a rainforest. I have spent a lot of time in the rainforests in Central and South America, but never in Canada. So this was a treat!

The Park itself is beautiful and sprawled out perfectly.

First stop was the cliff walk.

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To my surprise it definitely provided a bit of an adrenaline rush! Even my legs were shaking a bit. Which was fine by me. I am always up for a healthy dose of adrenaline.

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As you walk along the one bridge that stretches out over the edge, you can totally feel it moving, and that combined with looking down is was brings on that surge of adrenaline.

The views are amazing!! Seriously beautiful. My soul was drinking it right up.

There was lots of peek-a-boo beauty to be appreciated along the way.

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And the landscaping was speaking straight to my heart.

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The main suspension bridge didn’t provide as much of an adrenaline rush, as opposed to what I had expected, but the views were spectacular.

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Once you get across it you really get into the deep forest feel, and the intoxicating smells get even more intense. The walkways are smooth, super easy to navigate, and the landscape is once again on point.

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The tree top adventures brought me straight back to my childhood.

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It had me reminiscing about that time when I was 10 and built myself a tree house.

I spent weeks, day in and day out, cutting and hammering away. I only had help putting the floor and support beams up, and the rest I did myself. I had a hinged door, carpeting, the whole works.

So now, I have decided I would like to add a classy tiny home tree house with suspension walkways from tree to tree to my book of desires. I would be in my total happy place.

Another great addition is the posts all around the park sharing information about the workings of nature and all that is around us.

 

Knowledge is power, you can never do too much learning.

Don’t forget to hug a tree while you are there. It provides a healing surcharge like none other. Yes, those know me, know that I am what one would call – a tree hugger!

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This was hands down one of the best days ever! An ideal way to recharge and connect with nature, and a highlight of 2018 for me for sure.

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What a fantastic way to spend an afternoon if you find yourself in the Vancouver area and need an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life.

Winter hiking around Johnston’s Canyon in Banff National Park

So it’s no secret that I am always up for an adventure. Rain or shine, snow or ice, if adventure is the name then partaking is my game.

More often then not, I end up on a spontaneous adventure when I am not really prepared at all.

Finally this time around, I knew I would be doing something awesome, so I made sure to pack all the stuff I thought I would need. Not going to lie, I felt pretty proud of myself for being so prepared.

Being in Banff for a couple days, it was certain that some of the area needed to be explored, and particularly area that was yet undiscovered by Moi.

Johnston’s Canyon is a place that I had heard about many times. It is a hop skip and a jump from Banff, and so it tends to be a popular destination for an easy and very enjoyable hike.

I actually didn’t even know what to expect really, and of course, when you go into something with no expectations, it always ends up being awesome!

Upon embarking on this leisurely little hike, I felt like a boss. I was totally prepared and ready to just have a seamless afternoon adventure. The weather was ideal, the energies high, and I was ready to rock this.

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The paths are well laid out, and the scenery is spectacular!

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I learned very quickly though, that with the number of people that do this hike, the paths become pretty icy, and if you are not wearing the right shoes(which I wasn’t) you are in for a bit of a challenge.

Of course, when I thought I had it all together, some minor yet not so minor detail had to come and knock me off of my high horse.

My shoes were crap.

There is no other way to put it really. Let’s just be honest here. Luckily this isn’t a fashion blog, because if it was, this time around would be a major fail.

I hadn’t even made it to the first lookout point at the Lower falls and I was already struggling. I was actually not just struggling, I was worried about what the way down was going to be like.

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I was thinking right then, that cleats for my shoes would have been a winning idea.

I did manage to make it to the lower falls lookout point, barely, but still with enthusiasm.

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Stunning! Seriously stunning.

From there I made my way to the upper falls.

The frozen falls are so majestic on the cliff side. It’s as though mother nature is singing a song that only your soul can hear.

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Obviously, I couldn’t just stop there, I had to get myself to the higher Upper Falls lookout point to get another angle. Like the upper – upper falls.

The struggle was real!! I was questioning it on my way up as it was even more difficult than getting to the lower falls. Not in an extreme hike sort of way, simply in an extreme icy uphill sort of way.

My inadequate shoes just weren’t cutting it. I will say, that I wasn’t the only one with this problem. I did see others in the exact same situation.

Once the upper -upper viewpoint, it made it all worth it. Another incredible scene to bask in. I love the recharging you energy you get in nature, and it’s truly amazing when you compare and enjoy the contrast of winter to summer.

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I was pretty certain I was going to ride down on my butt. Just when I was on the verge of doing just that, this lovely couple who had asked me to take a photo of them at the lower falls and send it to them as their phones and camera died, came gracefully trotting along in their cleated shoes.

As their cleats were tie on ones and they were so grateful to me for taking their photos for them, they offered to lend me a pair to hike down with.

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LIFESAVERS!! Seriously, it was one of those moments when angels appear.

I was suddenly able to run up and down all the hills. Almost like walking on water.

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Talk about what goes around comes around. Paying it forward is a truly a beautiful thing.

It gave me the opportunity to really take in all of my surroundings on the way down. What a gift.

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Johnston’s Canyon truly is an absolutely wonderful place. A place in which I look forward to returning in the summer to enjoy the contrast.

However that being said, if you decided to visit in the winter, I have one word for you…… CLEATS!

Happy hiking!