Travel Philosophy – The Barefoot Nomad Travel. Tech. Family. Fun. Fri, 15 Jun 2018 22:40:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Keeping Your Travel Memories Alive Forever Wed, 09 Aug 2017 01:45:40 +0000 One of the biggest reasons we all travel is to experience new things.

Whether that’s to meet new people, eat new food, see new places, or to walk a few steps in another person’s shoes, the result is new memories to record and cherish.

Keeping Your Travel Memories Alive

So, how do you keep the memories alive long after your trip of a lifetime is over? If you loved roses, I would suggest getting something like an Eternity Rose as a premium gift for her in Canada, but how do you gold plate a travel memory?

Well, the trick to retaining memories is having something that triggers the memory.

Want some ideas? Here are some ways to keep your travel memories alive forever.

A picture lasts a lifetime

Probably the easiest way to relive a travel experience is to record it. That usually involves taking lots of pictures and a smattering of video which is something most of us do anyway.

Standing in front of some monument is classic but how do you remember the restaurant you ate in with the crazy waiter or the hour long lines at Disney World? Well, the secret is to take two kinds of pictures, what I call the public look at me pictures and the private remember this moment pictures.

Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them. – Bob Dylan

Most of the time we take pictures to impress the people that weren’t with us. Those are what I call the look at me pictures. They’re the kind of enviable photos you see on the best travel instagram accounts. As in, look at me in front of the Statue of Liberty. Look at me in front of the Taj Mahal. Look at me dangling off a cliff. Look at me swimming in the ocean.

Those look at me pictures are wonderful for sharing on social media and letting others know exactly where you are in the world. Years later those look at me pictures will still trigger memories, but the memories will include just the pretty highlights of your trip on the whole, and maybe not any particular, meaningful, moment.

Grinding argan oil in Morocco

Jordan grinding argan oil in Morocco

The private remember this moment pictures are usually the photos that don’t make it to social media. Those are the ones you only share with the people you know best or just keep for yourselves. They might include a picture of a flopped cake or a look of annoyance at something in the distance. These are the pictures that will bring you back to the moment the waiter tripped on his shoelaces and spilled dessert all over you or the time you waited 6 hours in customs due to having a major language misunderstanding.

The private remember this moment pictures and videos are the ones that really bring back the details and emotions of your trip.

If you want to really capture a memory, try to make sure your photo or video captures your feelings at the moment. It’s these little nuances that made your trip memorable that you’ll end up treasuring in your photo collection.

You can take it with you

Another great way to relive your travels and keep the memories forever is to purchase a souvenir from abroad. The thing is, the more authentic the souvenir, the more the memory will stay with you.

When Micki and I first traveled together many years ago, we picked up keepsakes from every country we visited. As a result, we have boxes full of memories. In truth, we overdid it in the beginning and could probably furnish a few houses with our knickknacks (which, to be honest, are still in boxes in our basement). Whenever we want to reminisce about our first trips, all we need to do is open one of the boxes and it all comes flooding back to us.

Paper umbrellas being made in Chiang Mai Thailand

Paper umbrellas being made in Chiang Mai Thailand

The cool part about mementos is that sometimes the search for the perfect one is a story in itself. Like the time we followed the advice of a few Danish fellows we met in Malaysia and decided to spend three weeks in Sumatra, where we met an expat who told us to go on a hike to a remote village. In this village, we chanced on a master goldsmith and his shop. It was there where I ended up buying Micki’s engagement ring. She still wears that ring today and it’s backstory is one of our favorites.

So don’t stock up on mass produced souvenirs from the first stand you stop at, grab something that’s personal from the farthest or the last. It will make the journey to find it that much sweeter.

The fabric of life

Clothes are also a great way to relive your travel memories and, as luck would have it, we all need to wear clothes anyway.

Whether you’re in love with that Indian silk blouse, that Scottish plaid kilt or that traditional Mexican Sombrero, nothing captures the hands on pure feel of a country better than local adornments.

If you can, try to buy articles that are made locally using locally made fabrics, but if you have to have that t-shirt with a cool looking Bob Marley image, then that’s fine too. The important part is making sure that whatever you buy has an emotional connection to the area you’re visiting, so that every time you don that clothing, you travel back to the land where you bought it.

Write it down

A travel journal is one of our favorite ways to preserve precious vacation memories.

We haven’t always put pen to paper, though. We’ve used a lot of ways to journal your travels, including email, notes on our smartphones, and even this blog! Emails to friends and family from way back in 2002 are still some of our favorite travel journals.

Sounds good

It doesn’t matter if it’s Reggae in the Caribbean, Latin beat in the Americas or Spanish guitar in Spain. Music can be heard on many street corners throughout the world and each one is as unique as the country it’s found in.

One of my earliest memories is of seeing my mother in her beach chair, reading a book under an umbrella by the water’s edge while my sisters and I played beside her. Of all the life lessons she taught me, that is one of my favorites: to take time at a place I love, restore my spirit with books and the beach. – Luanne Rice

If you’ve taken a lot of video, then you’ll notice at least a few of them have some music playing in the background. That’s because no matter the country or culture, music is universal. Now it might be chanting in a remote village in Africa, or a flavorful polka in Germany, but every land has its own beat. One of the quickest ways to relive your travels is to turn on the music and engulf yourself in memories.

If you’re more old school, feel free to grab a CD or vinyl record that highlights the countries brightest stars. If you want the money to stay local, purchase it from some street performer who’s selling her music one CD at a time.

The spice of life

We’ve covered sight, sound and touch, but how do you bring back the tastes from your travels? It’s actually easier than you probably think.

Istanbul's Spice Bazaar

Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar

The trick with recalling the tastes of your travels is to bring back a little piece of it with you. The easiest way to do so if you’re traveling in an exotic land is to bring back some of the spices that make the meals so special.

As any worldly traveler can tell you, most places in the world have their own flavor. Whether that’s cumin in India or oregano in the Mediterranean, if you love to cook, then you know that the right spice can make any dish go from ordinary to extraordinary.

If you love the food, talk to the waiter and see if they may just sell you a bag of the chef’s favorites, or hit a market.

Tip! The only problem with spices is that they don’t typically age that well. The best spices are the freshest ones and they’re one of the reasons certain countries use them in every other dish. As with anything in life, you work best with what you have so if you run out, hit up a local shop specializing in spices and ask for a certain countries typical mix.

You’ll be surprised how a handful of spices and herbs can bring back memories of lavish nights on the Mediterranean or backpacking in Asia.

Smells like heaven

As well as the food, everyone knows that a lot of countries have a certain odor to them. Experts say that smell is likely the strongest emotional memory inducer there is.

Though smells don’t have the same memory acuity of, say, an image, they do bring back the feelings of a certain place, which in turn bring back memories of days lounging on the beach or partying the night away in Rio.

Usually, a country’s aroma is of their most used spices, but it can also be anything from ocean salt spray to a certain clove cigarette that the locals enjoy. The trick here is that it doesn’t have to be the most pleasant of smell to trigger a memory.

We have items covered with a cheap preservative from Asia that never seems to dissipate that one whiff will take me back to the day we bought it. Likewise, we own objects from Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand and Morocco, where even the tiniest of sniffs brings us back to walking the street markets looking at local goods.

Wildflowers among the Agora ruins in Kos Greece

Scented wildflowers among the Agora ruins in Greece

If you’re so inclined, candles and incense can also remind you of your journeys. We don’t typically burn them since we don’t want to use them up, but one sniff can send us back in time and allow us to relive certain portions of our trip.

If nothing else, scents help us relive the feeling of the moment and isn’t that what we truly wish for the most? The freedom, excitement and wonder of visiting a new land and all the marvels that come with it.

Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you rekindle the memories of trips gone by. So throw on some music, grab that hula skirt and mai tai, pull up your pictures and indulge in a little mini vacation as you walk through memories of past trips.

Hopefully, it won’t be long until your next journey begins and your new memories get made.

If you have any more ideas for keeping your travel memories alive forever let us know in the comments below.

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Thinking about Long Term Travel as a Family? A Letter to get you Motivated Tue, 01 Mar 2016 18:00:49 +0000 Would you like to travel long term as a family? A letter to get you motivated
It’s no secret. Between this website and our social media channels, Micki and I get a lot of questions from people all around world. My favorites though, are the ones from aspiring nomads.

These are questions from readers who have seen a bit of the world or have never even left their home country. The ones who sit in front of their computer screens for hours each day poring over travel sites and travel blogs and wondering why they’re still doing the 9 to 5 thing. The ones who deep down know there’s more to life than what they’ve experienced, and are just trying to find a way out of the box that they call everyday life.

These messages get me stoked because deep down they further my belief that there are others who share our passion to explore the world. To live outside the norm of society. Who question the validity of what it means to follow their dream.

First off, I want to say that living a nomadic lifestyle isn’t for everyone. It’s not even always for us. However it’s always an option for those willing to make it a priority.

Yup, I said it. Nomadic lifestyles aren’t for everyone.

This brings me to the point of this post. You see, a few months back, I got an email from a fellow asking for a few tips on beginning a nomadic lifestyle with his wife and daughter. They had already gotten a glimpse of what’s behind the nomadic curtain and had decided that their current life wasn’t cutting it anymore.

They had come to a crossroad. They were about to sell their house and leave everything they knew behind to see what the world could offer them. The problem was they were starting to get a little nervous about their decision. You see, it still wasn’t too late to call off their nomadic dreams.

I think they just wanted confirmation that they weren’t about to make the biggest mistake of their lives.

Months later, after re-reading my reply to them, I feel that there are probably a few others that need that same encouragement.

That inspired me to share this letter with any other would be nomadic travelers who wonder if it’s the right choice to forgo a traditional 9 to 5 for a life on the road. In truth, this letter is geared more towards older nomads with kids, but most of it can apply to anyone tired of the daily 9 to 5 grind.

A message and a few tips to those dreaming of becoming a nomad.

Congrats on taking a big step towards changing how you view life. Bet you’re starting to get a little nervous right about now. Maybe even doubting your choice occasionally…

I only have one thing to say, don’t worry about it!

Being a nomad is awesome and rewarding and I’ll let you know a little known secret. Just don’t tell anyone else…. You can always settle down someplace new or go back to your old life any time you want. 😉

I can’t guarantee that  everything will always be sunshine and roses for you, but I can guarantee you 100% that you will never view life the same way again.

You’ll realize that you have options. That there are other ways to live your life contrary to what most of your friends and family think. That you don’t have to get on the pathway of bigger house, nicer car, more expensive toys and work, work, work until you’ve climbed that golden corporate ladder.

100% Guaranteed you will never view life the same way again.

You’ll realize that there are other paths. Other more rewarding pursuits. It will help broaden your mind and your soul to all the possibilities the world has to offer.

That’s not to say there won’t be pitfalls and hard times but at least you’re seeing the world while you’re doing it. 🙂

The best advice I can give you, especially when you have a child with you, is go slow.

A nomadic lifestyle is as much about the journey as it is the destination and not the speed in which you go about it.

Long stays

If you’re traveling as a family, then living out of a tiny backpack in an even tinier backbacker dorm probably won’t cut it for long as well. Things like couchsurfing also gets really hard when there’s a group of you.

You’ll want to look at Airbnb and long stays more. Housesitting is another cheap option if you can get into it. For shorter stays, there are even hostels that accommodate families.

If you can cook for yourselves most of the time you’ll save heaps. Stay away from expensive anything unless it’s something you’ve always dreamed of doing and you feel like splurging.

Saving money

Chances are you’ll have more time than money so seek out free museum or discount travel days. Check out the local papers for any deals or discounts and remember that parades and most outdoor festivals are free entertainment.

Walk and take the metro whenever you can! Search out discount airlines and get a train pass only if it totals less than airfare or includes an overnight stay to save money. It sounds simple but accommodation, getting from point a to b and food will be your biggest expenses.

If you can, always have your first night after a long travel day pre-booked. You can check out other places the next day once you have the energy and patience.

Read next: How to save money for travel.

Micki and kids as nomads on a white beach

Taking your time

The best advice I can give is to go slow and don’t push you or your family to their breaking point. With children, you’ll always need to have a little extra energy in reserve in case they need to lean on you. If you manage your time right, travel with kids can be amazing.

Remember if your family isn’t happy, you won’t be either so spend a little extra time in the pool or the park and a little less checking out another once-in-a-lifetime, can’t believe I’m actually seeing it with my own eyes, monument/temple/church/waterfall/peak/sunrise/sunset/view, etc.

Remember if your family isn’t happy, you won’t be either.

Also remember that you have nothing to prove. How long, how far you go and what you see is up to you. You can stop any time, whether it’s a few months or a few decades. By leaving it all behind you’ve already proven that you can pack up your life and make your dreams of a better one a reality.

Don’t trash your friends’ lifestyle

At first, it’s hard to break away from traditional living, and your family and friends might even resent you a little for it, but don’t trash their way of living unless you want to alienate them. Make sure they know that your choices are what you feel are right for you, not necessarily what’s good for them.

Chances are that they’ll eventually realize that they have more options as well and you might be surprised who you see on your doorstep in the middle of wherever one day.

Lastly, being a nomad isn’t about just packing up your things and constantly moving. New destinations are exciting and thrilling but the most important aspect is just enjoying where you are and what you’re doing while you’re doing it.

Hope this message finds you well. Good luck on your new life and take it one day at a time.

Like most nomads, one day you might wake up in the city you want to call home for a while and when that happens, don’t fight it, just realize that you can always move on again if the mood strikes.

To me, being a nomad is about choices, not necessarily destinations and becoming one is the first step to choosing how and where you want to live your life.

Congrats on making that choice and enjoy the freedoms that come with it!

Safe travels,


Read next: 31 Tips for Better Family Travel.

Thinking about becoming a nomad and seeing the world? Here's a letter to a reader that just might help you get motivated.
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Traveling As A Solo Female Traveler Fri, 29 Jan 2016 18:00:00 +0000 Today we welcome Athena Sternklar from Language of Travel. She’s got a unique, interesting take on solo female travel, and we’re thrilled to share her story.

Athena camping in Malaga Spain

Athena camping in Malaga Spain

I’ve wanted to travel for a very long time. When I finally had the resources to begin my first trip, I heard a lot of different opinions. First of all, I was only 18 when I started, I’m 5’0”, and a girl. People were worried about my safety.

On staying safe as a solo female traveler

Safety is very important when traveling alone as a female, but if you take the right precautions, you’ll be far from danger. It’s essential to research the place you’ll be visiting before you arrive. This will give you background knowledge on the area, current issues you may need to keep in mind, and the people you’ll be around. Your background knowledge will assist you in staying aware, another vital part of safety.

Things won’t always go as planned and that’s okay, learn to go with the flow.

Not everyone has practice in this so you may have to consciously focus on paying attention to your surroundings. Pay attention to the area you’re in, time of day, what kind of people are around you, and how far you are from where you’re staying. Don’t be afraid of asking for help if you’re lost, but trust your gut in who you decide to ask.

Two children in an alleyway in Tsfat Israel

Two children in an alleyway in Tsfat Israel

What does it take to travel solo?

Deciding to travel alone requires strength and ambition. I say this because, like I mentioned, many people will give you negative opinions about traveling alone as a female. It not only takes ambition to do it, but it takes strength to not let people’s opinions control you.

Traveling alone requires the strength to simply be alone, as some people may not be used to it. Through solitude you will come to know yourself better and become more confident.

It also requires physical strength to carry a pack while traveling and being able to push your limits. You don’t only learn to push your limits physically, but also emotionally. Not only by being alone, but by being away from loved ones and forcing yourself to meet new and different kinds of people.

On trusting in the universe

While traveling you learn to trust yourself, others, and the universe. You will surprise yourself, be surprised by friendly locals who are willing to help you, and you will be surprised in the way things will fall into place. You might start worrying about money, or time, etc., but eventually you will learn to trust that these things will work out on their own.

Things won’t always go as planned and that’s okay, learn to go with the flow.

As a girl it can be hard to balance judgement for safety while also being open to people. Over time you will find this balance and learn from people by opening up and trusting your gut.

Houses on a cliffside in Cinque Terre Italy

Houses on a cliff side in Cinque Terre Italy

After about five months of travel so far on my own, I can say that traveling alone was the best decision for me. I’ve learned countless things about myself and the world. I’ve made great friends in several different continents who have all taught me something. If you are willing to push your limits, grow in ways you didn’t even know you needed to, meet new kinds of people, and expand your mind, you too should travel alone.

Don’t be afraid of all the things that could go wrong; be smart, be strong, be open, and be trusting, and your expectations will be exceeded greatly.

Most importantly, you will gain a true understanding of humanity itself, and it is a truly spectacular thing.

About Athena

Athena Sternklar, a 19 year old American, is a solo female traveler. She has now been traveling for about five months and has been to nine countries so far. Throughout her travels she has been documenting her experiences through photography and blog posts. Her photography can be found on her Instagram page, and her blog posts on her website Language of Travel. She hopes to inspire people to follow their dreams, believe in themselves, and of course, travel.

Want to learn more? Check out Athena’s posts on traveling on a budget, or what traveling has taught her about happiness.

The Solo Traveler’s Handbook 2nd Edition

Traveling As A Solo Female Traveler

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What Will the Future of Travel Look Like? Tue, 13 Oct 2015 16:00:00 +0000 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase. All opinions are 100% mine.

Things change. Travel changes.

Back when we first started traveling together in 2002, iPhones were just a germ of an idea in Steve Job’s brain. They didn’t debut until 2007 and most smart phones came well after that.

We didn’t even carry a cell phone; instead, we called home at special booths in Internet cafes.

Since Kindles and Kobos weren’t even invented, we lugged around paper copies of guidebooks and books to read, making our backpacks pretty full and very heavy.

Micki in hammock 2003 with books Ko Lanta Thailand

Check out the stack of books on the table at the back, #throwback2003.

We carried a then top-of-the line 3.0 megapixel Minolta digital camera in a time when most people still used film. We could only take a handful of pictures at a time because our memory card was so small and they were super expensive to buy.

The Internet was far too slow and most remote areas were still on dial-up. We couldn’t upload our digital photo backups to the cloud (not that anyone had even heard of the cloud back then), so we would stop in Internet cafes and physically burn the images onto a CD for safekeeping. USB thumbdrives weren’t even invented back then and external hard drives were still in their infancy.

To get on a plane, we needed a physical, paper ticket, printed specially by our travel agent. On our first trip together, we had to carry our return tickets through New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Taiwan for 365 days in advance of our return. If we lost the tickets, it would have meant time-intensive trips to a central Malaysia Airlines office in each country.

While a few progressive hotels were booking online, we made a good chunk of our hotel bookings by phone or by walking into a hostel directly. Even companies that did allow online booking, asked you to submit all your information and wait for them to get back to you if they had a room.

Today, we take many of our photos for this blog on our smart phone and upload them to the cloud instantly. We book everything from our hotels and planes to our taxis online, and never need to print a ticket or hotel reservation.

Now, 2002 was only 13 years ago.

It makes you wonder how travel is going to change in another few years.

A new survey from Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase asked Americans to imagine the near future and predict what the travel experience could look like by the year 2030. The top predictions have a few interesting surprises, from unique travel experiences to putting the real in virtual reality.

So what do people think travel is going to look like by 2030?

It turns out that 35% of people surveyed think it’ll be possible to travel to space. Interestingly, 40% of men vs 29% of women thought space travel would be a reality. With the development of private spaceflights by companies like Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace, they may be onto something.

Even more people surveyed (58%) think that passports may be available for digital devices. 50% of people think that human face recognition technology could replace passports altogether.

Over half (58%) think that smart watches and other mobile payment options will rise in popularity for travelers.

We love that 40% of people think underwater hotels would be a big thing. I mean, how cool would that be to look out your window directly into the ocean?


Our thoughts on the future of travel

We have a few thoughts about the future of travel as well.

Digital will definitely rule and paper will be all but obsolete. Few people will carry paper books or even have a paper passport any more.

Our smart phones, smart watches  or even an implantable chip will be ultra powerful and contain every piece of information about us from our passports to our medical records. This will also become our way of paying for anything with digital payments becoming the standard payment platform worldwide.

One-click trips will also become a reality, and you’ll be able to purchase them directly from companies like Amazon just like you buy electronics or books today. You’ll also never need to input all of your credentials anywhere again, because there will be a global database with all your information, and all it will take is a swipe of your finger or tap of your smartphone to verify your identity.

We’re not sure hover cars or transatlantic trains will be the norm by then, but everyone will be driving electric or super-efficient hybrid vehicles with batteries lasting for days before needing to be charged. You’ll also see an explosion of electric bikes and electric personal transportation devices like monowheels and scooters everywhere. If you don’t own one, you’ll be able to easily rent everything from cars to bikes via quick kiosks all around major cities.

Have any predictions about the future of travel? If so we’d love to hear about it.

This post was sponsored by Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase, which lets you earn Marriott Rewards points on all purchases, accumulate free night stays and more to help you get the most out of your travel.

Like earning points to put towards your next trip? Visit Marriott Rewards Credit Card to learn more.

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Why Every Reason To Travel Is A Good Reason Wed, 24 Jun 2015 17:00:00 +0000 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase. All opinions are 100% mine.

People travel for a lot of different reasons.

One could say almost as many reasons as there are stars in the sky. Whether it’s a vacation to get away and relax, to visit family, to volunteer, to sample foreign cuisine and culture or to have an adventure and experience the world.

You see, travel is an intensely personal thing and honestly, I think that how you travel and why you go isn’t as important as the fact that you’re willing to just put yourself out there.

Whether you’re snapping photos at the Grand Canyon with the family or on a week-long trek in the jungles of  Borneo, I’m just glad you’re out experiencing the world.

We’ve been traveling a long time together (since 2002), and in that time we’ve traveled for almost every reason possible.

Our very first trip together was a week-long vacation from a job I didn’t particularly love and to escape a cold, Canadian winter. Hello all inclusive umbrella drinks by the pool and quick dips in the ocean!

White Sand Beaches in Punta Cana Dominican Republic

White sand and clear skies

Sooner than we anticipated, our first year long extended trip together was a journey of discovery. We set out together to explore the world, and set foot in Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Australia and New Zealand.

Chuck and Micki Ellery Creek Big Hole West MacDonnell Park Australia

A dozen years ago, we traveled to the South Island of New Zealand and decided to get married while we were there.

Wedding Luggage

Ah, the days of just one backpack…

A few years later, the kiddos came along and our travels became about them as much as us.

You see, travel has been a way to introduce our kids to a bigger world. We want them to know firsthand that people are essentially the same, no matter where they live, what god they pray to, the color of their skin, and what language they speak.

Grinding argan oil in Morocco

These days, it seems we travel a lot to visit our family in Canada. That means a lot of time in the car. It’s a 26 hour, 2,450 km drive from visiting my brother on Vancouver Island to Winnipeg, where Charles’ family lives.

That makes for a lot of long road trips.

Port Alberni pier

Visiting family on Vancouver Island

We also travel for experiences that will stretch us as people, and help us grow. Sometimes, we challenge our fears, and get pushed outside of our comfort zones.

Today, I was chatting with the kids about traveling to help volunteer with sea turtle conservation. Their eyes lit up more at that idea than at any birthday present I’ve ever seen them open.

Hands on at the Isla Mujeres Turtle Farm

So it’s interesting to see how other people approach travel.

As a matter of fact, Marriott Rewards Credit Card just conducted a US nationwide survey to take a peek at the global travel mindset of traveler’s age 18-67 who stay in a hotel at least five nights per year for business, pleasure or both.

I expected to see a few differences in why people travel based on age, but I was really struck with how different the approach to travel was between millennials (aged 18-34) and older travelers.

Plus, I’m a numbers geek, so it was really interesting to see the differences broken down.


84% of millennials say they would travel abroad to participate in volunteer activities, while only 68 % of Gen Xers (age 35-49) and 51% of Boomers (age 50-67) say the same.

That’s a huge difference.

On top of that, 78% of millennials are far more interested in thrilling vacations than lazy trips (32%). 67% of millennials are interested in water sports (compared to 55% of Gen Xers and 46% of boomers). 63% of millennials are interested in interacting with wild animals through activities like safaris or swimming with sharks.

It’s an interesting shift, especially the 84 % of millennials who would travel to volunteer. I love that.

No matter what, in the end, it’s about respecting our differences.

We all travel for different reasons. And our reasons for travel change, depending on our circumstances.

Those millennials who travel today to experience adventure and culture may someday travel on a family vacation or just to enjoy a week of relaxing on a beach.

It’s all good. No matter your reason, just get out there and see our gorgeous world!

The Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase lets travelers earn accelerated Marriott Rewards points on all purchases to help you get the most out of your travel.

So if you like earning points to put towards your next trip, visit Marriott Rewards Credit Card to learn more.

What would life be if we had no courage

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What are the Top Winter Travel Trends for 2015? Tue, 13 Jan 2015 18:00:00 +0000 It seems that everyone we talk to lately is planning their next trip, or at least dreaming of where they’d like to visit next.

It’s been interesting to follow along and see what travel trends are emerging.

Micki and Charles in Sydney Australia

Beautiful Sydney, Australia

So when American Express Canada approached us to share their top trending destinations for winter 2015, we were excited to share the results with you.

2015 Winter Travel Trends

The folks at American Express Canada have surveyed more than 200 American Express Travel Counsellors throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico, to come up with a list of the top 10 trending travel destinations for 2015.

What do you think the next hot spots are for winter travel?

Like a lot of our fellow Canadians, we’ve been dreaming of an escape from the Canadian winter so all this talk of winter travel really has us dreaming of a getaway.

For Canadians, a winter getaway traditionally means fun in the sun. As such, we love the sound of the great warm weather destinations on the list like the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos, Puerto Vallarta down in Mexico and Buenos Aires in Argentina.

It seems like city breaks are hugely popular this year as will, with great cities like London, Paris, Sydney, New York and San Francisco making the cut.

Photo by Omarukai

Photo by Omarukai

There were even a few surprises for us on the American Express 2015 Winter Travel Trends Survey, like Mumbai, India and Santiago, Chile.

Have you been to any of the trending 2014 travel hotspots?

It was also interesting to learn that among the 200 experts surveyed; 86 per cent indicate travellers are spending the same or more on travel as they did in 2014.

We travel with our two little ones, and it seems that there are a lot of other family travelers out there too. About one in four travel counsellors indicated travellers are planning to travel with their immediate family this year, and 19 per cent cent are seeing a rise in multi-generational family vacations.

Abbey Road by Jamie Frith

Abbey Road by Jamie Frith

So what do Canadians want from a travel counsellor?

As busy parents, we know that we’re really starting to appreciate help with our travel plans. We never used to take tours, but we’re finding now that a well-designed tour can be a great way to simplify travel planning. It seems that our Canadians agree with us, as over 57 per cent of travel counsellors say that enriched experiences such as tours are the most important activity where customers look for help.

There also seems to be a real demand for customized itineraries, as 67 per cent of counsellors spent the most of their time helping travellers by creating customized itineraries by helping identify the best flight and hotel options based on schedules and fares for each individual. Counsellors also found that 38 per cent of vacationers are taking longer trips despite the fact that 40 per cent found an increase in airfare and 39 per cent found an increase in hotel accommodation costs.

American Express Travel Perks and Benefits

Years ago, when we first started traveling, Charles and I were definitely budget backpackers. Over the years, our travel style has changed, and we’re loving a little more comfort and luxury.

It may be the fact that we now have two kiddos along for the ride, or that we’ve just slept on too many airport benches, but luxuries like airport lounge access are now worth their weight in gold.

So we love perks like the cloud 10  benefits at Toronto Pearson airport, including lounge access to airport lounges at over 600 airports worldwide.

Saving Time on Travel

We’re also started to really appreciate ways to make planning our travels faster and with less stress. It can be easy to be overwhelmed with the hundreds (thousands?) of travel planning sites on the internet, and it can be hard to know who to trust with precious travel dollars.

American Express is a trusted company that’s there to help planning, during your trip, and even after you’re back. The American Express online travel booking tool  lets all Cardmembers book flights, cars, hotels, cruise and travel experiences at competitive prices. You can use membership rewards to pay for travel, and have customer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information on the American Express Platinum Card and the online booking tool, visit

Join the chat!

One of our favorite things to do even when not traveling ourselves is to chat about travel.

If you’d like to ask some questions and learn from some real travel experts, join the #TravelChat hosted by The Planet D (@ThePlanetD) and Amex Canada (@AmexCanada).

All you need to do is join in on Twitter on Tuesday, January 13 th at 1 p.m. EST. The hashtag is #TravelChat.

Hope to see you there!

If you go on any travel adventures in the near future, you can share your pictures with Amex by tagging them #AmexLife on Twitter.

This post was sponsored by Amex Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely our own.

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Planning To Travel When You Retire? Here Are 10 Good Reasons Not To Wait Tue, 20 May 2014 18:20:00 +0000  10 good reasons why you shouldn't wait until you retire to travel.]]> 10 Good Reasons You Shouldn't Wait to Travel Until You Retire

Travel is a dream that many people put off (along with a whole laundry list of other things) until they retire from the workplace, and they’re free to pursue their own interests.

But is it realistic? Will it really be easier to travel when you stop working?

Here’s the thing. I’m all for delayed gratification. I have a retirement savings account, and in fact, think that the ability to plan for the future is one of the markers of true maturity.

So why am I telling you that putting off travel until you retire just might be a bad idea?

This isn’t about hedonism, or abandoning your responsibilities, or throwing away your future security. This is about taking a good, hard look at the realities that life can throw at you, and making a choice about how you want to live.

Here are 10 good reasons why you shouldn’t wait until you retire to travel.

It’ll probably cost more to travel when you’re older

It’s a simple fact that travel insurance is more expensive for older travelers. And that’s if you’re lucky. Many older travelers can’t even get travel insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions. Plus, if you’re like most people (me included), you’ll crave (or need) more creature comforts as you get older, adding to your travel bill. It’s one of the reasons you don’t see a lot of 70 year olds sleeping in hostel dorm beds.

You could die first

I’m not going to mince words with this one. Actuarial tables say that roughly 17% of men will die between age 25 and 65. Will you be one of them? It’s a gamble you take. For women, the odds are better, but there’s still roughly a 10% chance you’ll die from the age of 25 to 65.

Here’s how we got those numbers. If you look at the US Government’s Social Security actuarial table, if you start with 100,000 people, on average at age 25, 98,043 men will still be alive (98,447 of women), but at age 65 only 80,308 men will still be alive (87,769 for women).

Life has a habit of getting in the way

Life has a way of getting more complicated as you get older. You could marry someone who doesn’t want to travel or your current partner may decide they don’t want to. If you become a grandparent, your kids could need you to help take care of their little ones. Even more commonly, you could end up having to take care of your parents as they age. In short, a thousand things could change, making it harder for you to get on the road.

Will you be healthy enough to travel?

It’s a sad fact, but our health can often start to take a turn for the worse just as we approach the age of retirement. Your health could decline to the point that travel is difficult or near impossible.

Anxious to go on a walkabout through the Australian Outback or want to climb the stairs of the Eiffel Tower? Make sure you’re healthy enough when you retire to still be able to do it.

Here’s a scary fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that almost 23% of Americans 65 or over are in poor to fair health (Table 52, Health United States, 2013). Couple that with mortality rates and your odds of enjoying your golden years abroad are diminishing all the time.

The world, she is a changin’

If there’s someplace you want to go now, keep in mind that the world may change a lot before you retire. Whether you want to hit the open road, hidden gems are getting harder to find and more and more people are traveling all the time. The world is getting to be a smaller place every year and a lot of time, our dream destination is often more than just a destination, it’s a frame of mind.

Ten years ago, seeing the pyramids in Egypt was on every round the world trip itinerary. Today, political unrest has made Egypt a much more dangerous place to visit. The same thing can be said for Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine. Of course, places can change for the better as well (just look at Sarajevo, which was a bombed out shell in the 1990’s), but you never know.

Just realize that if there’s someplace you’ve always dreamed of visiting, by the time you retire it might no longer resemble that same dream anymore.

What if you lose your nerve?

Adventure is like a muscle; if you never use it, it tends to atrophy. If you don’t travel at all when you’re younger, will you have the nerve to start after retirement? Will you have gotten so used to your routine that you can’t imagine finally breaking free from it?

Your kids are only young once

If you have little ones, think of the gift you could give them by letting them see the world while they’re young. Sure, traveling with little ones can be hard, but it can be an amazing experience as well. If you’re planning to travel with your older kids when you retire, consider this: by then, your kids could be well established in their own life, and have no time to wander around the world with you.

What if you’re short of money?

A lot of things can put a wrench in your financial plans for retirement. Divorce, losing a job later in life, rising house costs, increased health care costs, or just an increase in the cost of living can all push your retirement date later, or mean that you have to retire earlier on less money. What makes you so sure that all of a sudden you’ll have more money to spend on travel if you can’t afford it now?

That nest’s not empty

If you’re putting off traveling until you retire and your kids are out of the house, here’s something to consider: What if they don’t leave? A whopping 56% of young Americans aged 18 to 24 still live at home with 36%  of them 18 to 31. Will you still be paying for a place for them to stay, and their meals? And don’t forget, university is expensive.

Carpe the diem, baby

Seize the day. Life is short and sweet and you only have one chance to make this one count. If you truly want to travel, find a way to make it happen, today.

Of course, the other part of this equation is figuring out how to make travel a reality when you’re younger. You can find some help here:


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A Dream Worth Striving For Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:36:34 +0000 Paradise

My future awaits

My dream

I have a dream. It doesn’t involve world peace or solving the hunger crisis. It’s a personal vision. In truth, the only thing remarkable about it is its simplicity.

Imagine this…

A hammock, an endless ocean and powdery white sand. Me, a cool drink in one hand and my favorite book in the other. The gentle breeze and surf mixing together to create a perfect harmony of sound while the warm glow of sunshine paints the world in hues of red and yellow.

It’s a simple dream, though as vivid in my mind as the computer screen I’m currently staring into. I’ve had it ever since I can remember.

I believe most people have a similar dream, though few take the time to shape it into anything more than a fuzzy idea of where they hope their future takes them. Most of us wake up with a purpose, however have no greater plan than to make it through another day hoping that we’re working towards a better future.

I believe the lucky ones in life have a clear vision of where they’re going. For some of them, their dreams are so focused that they’re like arrows pointing them exactly where they believe they need to be.

I’m a little jealous of those with such a clear focus on what they need to do to make their own dream a reality. I also applaud them for having the strength and patience to see their dreams come true.

An unusual dream

That said, I believe my dream is a little different from most. It’s clear as day, however it doesn’t push me in any direction. Mine is just constantly playing in the background of my mind.

At times, I believe it gives me the energy to keep going. Other times it gives me perspective on the road I’ve already traveled. Sometimes, it cheers me up on days that I’m feeling blue and occasionally, it even gives me focus on days where my choices seem cloudy.

The funny part is, it’s such a simple dream yet it has no urgency. In it, I’m content to spend the entire day just lounging and there’s absolutely no rush to get anything accomplished except maybe finish reading the chapter I’m on or the cool drink in my hand.

Realizing my dream

In terms of dreams, it’s also fairly obtainable and a dozen years ago, I thought I achieved it.

A few months into our first year long round the world trip together as a couple I found myself in almost exactly that place. It was everything I ever dreamed and more since I had someone I loved beside me. The problem was that after a few days on the beach, there was a restlessness growing inside me.

Up until reality smacked me in the face that beach and that hammock was my lifelong dream. Don’t think that the absurdity of that statement isn’t wasted on me. I know it’s not much however guess what, it’s still my life dream. Except now when I close my eyes, the dream isn’t only a vision but also a memory I continue to cherish.

You might ask yourself why after every country I’ve explored, every natural wonder I’ve seen, every “once in a lifetime event” I’ve had the good fortune to participate in that my dream hasn’t changed. You’re not the only one. I ask myself that same question every day.


I think the answer lies in the definition of a dream. For me, swaying in the breeze that day the truth hit me. It wasn’t an abrupt realization but a slow understanding of myself and the world around me.

You see, I never realized the dream didn’t start with me laying on a hammock, it ended with it. The sense of peace, completeness and happiness I felt in it wasn’t from finally getting there, it was from having completed everything I wanted to do before I got there.

That hammock was my reward for having lived a full life. It was the icing to my proverbial cake and though that hammock still sits there waiting for me, I know in my heart that I’ll never by truly content until I’ve eaten as much lifecake as my body can stand.

Every person has their own dreams. Some are vague, others are more defined however what they each have in common is a goal we all hope to one day reach. It sits there waiting for each of us. Whether it’s finding Shangri-La, owning that mansion on the hill or achieving the unthinkable, never let anyone or anything stop you from pursuing your dreams. They’re part of who we are and give us the strength, endurance and perseverance to reach for the unobtainable.

My future awaits

For me, that hammock is still swinging near that sparkling clear ocean just waiting for me to finish whatever life decides to throw my way. For now, I can concentrate on the tasks at hand like raising my kids and making sure that their own dreams are forged. That they too have the tools necessary to reach whatever heights they dream of.

For now, the hammock can wait. I have other dreams that need tending. I’m fine with that. Regardless of what I do, it’s one step closer to my dream anyway and isn’t that worth striving for?


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Road Trip Time Machine – Mackintosh Toffee Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:22:47 +0000 There’s an old saying that states you can never go home again.

While that may be true, there are definitely certain tastes and smells that can transport you back in time and let you briefly relive moments from your past.

For me, nothing transports me back as fast as a certain smells. I mean, who doesn’t smell bacon and think of Saturday breakfast or Sunday brunch? Similarly, smelling freshly cut grass for me signifies summers of pushing lawnmowers and the smell of rain always reminds me of crazy Prairie storms.

For travelers, who can smell the ocean and not remember the first time they got their toes wet or the smell of certain foods they ate contentedly for days on end during their travels?

Last weekend I set out to relive a memory of my youth that will always signify the family road trip. For me, that’s the taste of Mackintosh’s Creamy Toffee. Those of you not from Canada or the Northern US States may have never tasted it.

Mackintosh's Toffee

The Original Mackintosh’s Bar

A cross between hard English butterscotch toffee and soft American caramel, Mackintosh’s toffee starts off hard (nearly brittle) and softens as you eat it. The first few bites can be murder on teeth and I know more than one friend who lost a baby tooth to it’s goodness.

As a kid, it came in a distinct thin, red tartan plaid cardboard box surrounded by wax paper in one solid piece of toffee. It was unlike any other candy bar wrapper and that was a good thing.

Seeing that the toffee starts off so hard, there were only two ways to eat it. The first way was to heat it up in the sun or next to your body and slowly rip off chunks with your teeth. Frankly, that took too long, was really messy and definitely wasn’t great for sharing.

The most common way to share it was to break it or to “Smack the Mack” as they say. This was our preferred method of enjoying it since this way, everyone got to enjoy a piece of it. To “Smack the Mack” you held the closed package in your palm and hit something hard to break it into small pieces. You only had one chance to do it because once the package was open, smacking it again left a mess.

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” Babs Hoffman

You were also never guaranteed what size your pieces would be since it was completely random, but part of the bar’s allure was hoping you got the biggest piece first. Being the youngest in the family, having an equal chance to get the biggest piece was always a thrill.

Growing up in a small town, one of the only places I could recall ever seeing those flat boxes of Mackintosh’s was at the duty free shop when we crossed the border into the US. My family loved deals almost as much as the road trip so crossing the border just over an hour from our house was a semi annual affair.

My mother, not known for her sweet tooth, loved Mack’s just as much as us kids and always bought a Mack’s bar when we crossed the border into the US. To this day, the only time I ever eat Mackintosh’s toffee is when I’m crossing the US border in a vehicle. That’s why for me, nothing signifies a family roadtrip to the States as much as a Mack’s toffee bar.

On that note, last weekend we took the kids down to Osoyoos, a sleepy resort town in BC, Canada, just across from the US border during Spring Break. Even before we left our house I knew it was a given that we’d cross over into the US.

To be honest, I knew that we’d be passing a Duty Free Shop and my mouth was watering at the prospect of getting my hands on a Mackintosh. I even explained my love of the toffee bar and explained our long standing tradition to my kids as we approached the border. They were excited by my eagerness (and to be honest, the prospect of getting some candy), so I knew they’d share my love for this toffee bar I grew up with.

“Until you’ve learned to drive, you’ve never really learned how to swear.”  Robert Paul

I’m not exactly sure what happened, but we somehow missed the Duty Free store turn off. Before I knew it, we were in the customs line waiting for our turn to hand in our passports. To say I was mortified was an understatement. I was so saddened I was tempted to do an illegal U-turn right then and there. Micki convinced me that it wasn’t in our best interest if we ever wanted to enter the States again so I reluctantly remained in line.

Even as we crossed back into Canada later that day I was still upset about not getting my Mack fix. If there hadn’t been an hour long lineup through customs I would have even circled around and gone through again.

As we returned to our hotel, Micki and the kids took the elevator up to our room as I wandered over to the vending machine for a quick dessert.

Low and behold, to my amazement, in slot #17 was a Mackintosh’s Toffee bar.

I was ecstatic. It was as though fate had smiled down at me. I couldn’t have been happier if I had conquered the desert and found both the holy grail and Shangri-La waiting for me. Of course, I bought the last two in the machine and ran up the stairs to quasi-heroic fanfare.

The only remaining evidence

The only remaining evidence

My kids thought I was nuts when I showed them how to crack the Mack but they enjoyed it as much as I did and fought for the biggest piece just as I did as a kid. We all had our fill and with the last piece of the quest complete, proclaimed the day a success.

The best part? It was just as good as I remembered.

Tossing it in my mouth I was immediately brought back to days before air conditioning was common and getting a window seat was a treat. Of being plopped in the back with my brother and sister patiently waiting for another piece of the quickly disappearing toffee while dad made a beeline for whatever town we were headed for, and thankful that, at least for a few minutes, we were behaving ourselves and he could have a moment of quiet bliss.

Sadly, the memories faded away as the last of the toffee melted in my mouth. The good news is that I knew the memory would come back again as soon as I opened the other package of Mackintosh toffee that I bought.

You know, the one I forgot to mention to my kids. 😉

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20 Things You Didn’t Know About Us Thu, 14 Nov 2013 18:00:00 +0000 We’ve been writing this blog for a few years now and thought it was time you got to know us a bit more.

So, without further ado, here are ten things you probably don’t know about us and 10 you might even be glad you didn’t.


I grew up on a farm in the middle of the Canadian prairies. I can milk a cow, clean a chicken coop and grow vegetables. Sadly, these are not useful skills in the world of travel blogging. But I am well set up for the zombie apocalypse.

Micki and the Polynesian Pig

My new buddy…

I have a pig call that’s completely irresistible to Polynesian pigs. I discovered and perfected it while touring New Zealand for a few months a dozen years back. When I start a-calling, pigs come a-running.

I really, really despise black licorice. One word. Ewww…

I once ate a live meal worm. For a vegetarian that’s especially hard. It was a challenge in the Mitsubishi City Race (like a small scale Amazing Race) and I just had to do it. Even considering I’m a vegetarian, I’d take the meal worm over licorice any day.

I used to be a neuroscientist. I have the degree and everything to prove it. If you get me drunk enough, I’ll even tell you the title of my dissertation (though you’d probably need to be even more drunk to care).

Charles and I were once chased by the military police in Taiwan. We were only looking for an Italian restaurant. I swear.

I’m a closet martial arts nerd. I’ve taken classes in both styles of Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Taejitsu, Jujitsu and a lot of other itsus :).

Micki and Bruce Lee

Sadly, that’s not really Bruce Lee. I had to settle for a wax copy. He looks happy to see me 😉

I only speak one language fluently, despite traveling so much. I just seem to lack the gene for learning languages naturally. I am working on learning Spanish though, and I’m improving a bit every week. Being Canadian, I can also read a sizable amount of French. I think it has to do with all our grocery labels being bilingual.

A guy once pulled a Crocodile Dundee knife on Charles and me in the middle of the Australian Outback. Luckily, we can both talk our way into, or out of, almost anything so we’re still here. It was a pretty crazy evening though and we were quite happy to survive until morning.

I don’t wear jewelry. I started taking it off during Tae Kwon Do class, never remembered to put it back on, and then decided I just didn’t care about it. That said, I do still wear the engagement ring we bought from a guy in a hut in the jungles of Indonesia.


I’m a great baker. I have a definite sweet tooth for baked goods so when I can’t buy what I’m craving, I make it myself. Cookies and brownies are my favorites but I make everything from cupcakes and pies to homemade ice cream if the mood strikes me.

Charles Baking Goodies

Some of Charles’ homemade goodies

I’m embarrassed that I can’t juggle yet. Among my friends I’m known as a tinkerer. I’m the king of trivial things and there’s not much I don’t master before moving on to something new. That being said, I’ve started juggling a dozen times in my life and just when it seems I’m rounding a corner I lose ambition and do something else. When I eventually go back to it I have to start all over again. It’s working itself towards the top of my to do list once again.

We were once chased through a jungle in Indonesia by a water buffalo. They’re bigger than you’d think and when the local guy you’re following starts to run you don’t ask questions. You just hoof it out of there as fast as you can and hope for the best.

Scary Water Buffalo

I swear, they looked more vicious when they were chasing us

Potatoes are the base of almost all of my favorite meals. If it wasn’t for Mexican, Thai and pasta I would have potatoes of some sort every meal. And yes, I crave starch.

I hate social media. There, I said it. Sorry if that sounds bad, but if it wasn’t for Micki and the realities of blogging I would never update Facebook or throw a Tweet out. You can probably guess who handles the vast majority of social media for our site. Sorry, Micki.

I’m a super taster. I find most foods over spiced and over seasoned. Probably why I have an affinity for simple starchy foods and can’t stand eating fish. Even the best that the ocean has to offer is still too fishy for me. Trust me, I keep trying and hoping my taste buds die off. As far a super powers go, it’s more a pain than a blessing.

Barefoot Nomads at Waterfall

Not a sock in sight

I can’t stand wearing socks and shoes. I don’t mind sandals when we’re out and about but I’m always happiest barefoot around the house or yard. Put me on sand or grass and my feet almost dance with happiness.

I don’t like wine. However, I can pick out any scent or flavor in a glass of it, from blackberry to grass to oak. That being said, I do enjoy checking out vineyards from around the world, however it’s more for the ambiance than the wine. Micki’s barely forgiven me for throwing away a promising career as a professional wine taster.

I used to have a fear of the telephone. Don’t laugh, I’m serious. I never had a problem calling friends or family, but cold calling or calling to order a pizza nearly gave me a panic attack. I’m sure it had to do with a telephone prank gone bad as a kid, however after no end of teasing from Micki I finally pushed past it. I’m happy to say that now I’m telephonophobia free.

I love searching online. It doesn’t matter what the topic is or how small the need to find out, I love the hunt for answers. My dream job might be as a professional Googler. I have no idea if it’s thrill of the chase or just the fact that I know someone, somewhere, at some point, wrote about something I need the answer to. If I could do that successfully from the comfort of a hammock or a deck a few feet from a gorgeous ocean beach I would consider my pursuit of happiness complete. That is, until I got bored and went looking for something else to do…

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