Sunday, December 20, 2015

Relationship Road Test: Cycling from Launceston to Hobart, Tasmania

Last December, Jules and I made an epic 500-kilometre "pushbike" journey across Tasmania. Although it was one of the most incredible trips that I've ever made, I never quite found the time to write about it here.

That's why I was thrilled when AWAY Magazine (a travel publication that's distributed at Toronto Pearson Airport) asked me to write about the adventure for their latest issue. Unfortunately, 1000 words wasn't quite enough room to write about all the disasters (broken chains, scorpion stings and other standard cycling fare), but you can read about the other highlights here. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Ask These Questions Before Buying Travel Insurance

Photo: Kyle Szegedi 
Planning a trip abroad is sometimes just as fun as the journey itself. After all, nothing beats that spark of initial excitement when you finally book your flights. However, there’s one purchase that travellers rarely get amped up about—buying travel insurance.

Often, the chore is almost an afterthought, the cost a dreaded one. However, Robin Ingle, founder and CEO of Ingle Insurance, doesn’t think that should be the case. His company specializes in adventure (they were one of the first companies to introduce “yak evacs” to help stranded climbers) and insurance for individuals who are working studying or volunteering abroad. Ingle says that travel insurance shouldn’t be obtained in haste and—as unexciting a purchase as it may be—it should be just as well researched as any other aspect of your trip.

Read more on Verge Magazine »

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Top 5 Things Organizations Wish Volunteers Knew

Photo: Lance Cheung
"I wish I had started to learn the language earlier.” “I wish I had packed more toilet paper.” “I wish that I had done more research about my destination country.” It's easy to find out what volunteers wish they knew before they went overseas. But did you ever wonder what the staff of volunteer-sending organizations wish you knew?

Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer, here’s the top five things that volunteer-sending organizations wish volunteers knew.

Read more on Verge Magazine »

Friday, November 06, 2015

31 is the Loneliest Number

Tasman National Park

“So, how do you like Sydney?”

This single question has plagued all my social interactions for the last three months. It’s intended as a social nicety—a way of propelling conversation between near-strangers forward. I appreciate it and I know what I’m supposed to respond—but it’s become an increasingly difficult question to answer. 

The truth is that I’m struggling.

I’m lonely and isolated. I’m frustrated. I cry a lot.

Monday, September 07, 2015

10 Differences Between Living in Canada and Australia

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been living in Sydney for a month now.

It’s flown by in a whirlwind of moving house, jetting off to Tasmania for a magazine assignment, and spending far too much time spouting off terms of endearment in Jules' direction.

But it also hasn’t been an easy month. There have been a lot of tears, which was only to be expected. Without the excitement of a new locale to explore—this is my seventh time in Sydney, after all—I skipped the “honeymoon” phase of acculturation altogether and was instead slapped hard by culture shock.

Despite the amount of time that I’ve spent in Australia over the last two years, I’m still learning. (“I’m new here,” has become my favourite catchphrase, usually prefaced by “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t know.”) Some differences are new to me, some I’ve long known, but all have taken me aback over the last month.

Here are 10 of the most surprising differences that I've found between Australia and Canada:

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Best Camping Adventures in Canada

Photo: Olivier George

Want to make Canada your next outdoor adventure destination? I don't blame you. Writing for usually leaves me aching for the homeland.

Here's some ideas to get you started:

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Travel for Good Interview Series

Between moving to Sydney, gearing up for Verge's annual Go Global Expos, and travelling to Tasmania to do research for an article, it's been a busy month. But I still found some time to chat with other travellers about how to travel "for good."

First up was my Q & A with Em at This Is Not a Guidebook. "Getting lost and stuck and being saved by the inherent kindness of strangers, time and time again, is my favourite part of travel," I told her.

Next, I was interviewed for Build Abroad's Ultimate Guide to Volunteering Abroad. You can also read the full interview on their blog here. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Top Jobs for Digital Nomads

Photo: Ed Gregory

Becoming a digital nomad is quickly becoming one of the easiest ways to work abroad. These careers may be your ticket to becoming location independent. Read more on Verge Magazine »

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Moving to Australia: A Pre-Departure Checklist for Freelancers

There's only six weeks left until I move to Australia. It seems crazy to write those words, but this move has been a long time coming. (In fact, it's been roughly two years in the making, if we're going to include the first time I floated the idea aloud.)

Every day, someone asks me if I'm "excited" to go. And while I am, unfortunately any excitement at this point is being overshadowed by the stress and the sadness associated with moving. I've lived in Toronto for 11 years. Every single year I've threatened to move, but now that I'm finally doing it, the reality that I'm leaving behind my friends, my dog and my community is finally sinking in.

That, and there's the administrative burden associated with moving. Everyone knows that moving is a pain in the ass—but moving to another country, for an indefinite period of time, as a self-employed individual? Yeah, it's just a little overwhelming.

To give you an idea of the process, here are just some of the departure tasks necessary before you move to Australia:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The 3 Most Dangerous Things in Australia

“I will come to Australia if you can promise me that I won’t see any huntsman spiders,” said Craig, his voice edging on earnest.

“I don’t know if we can promise that, but they’re harmless,” insisted Jules.

Craig’s wife, Monique, laughed. “Really, Craig? You’re that afraid of spiders?”

“Monique, have you seen a huntsman?" asked Craig, shaking his head. "They’re the size of dinnerplates!”

And thus, without much fanfare, began the Come Visit Us in Australia Diplomacy Tour of 2015.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Galapagos: Paradise on the Brink

At just past 8 a.m., the harsh morning sun is beating down on our group. Like obedient schoolchildren, we form a semi-circle around our tour guide, Wilo, rapt and hanging on his every word. Nothing can distract us—not even the calls of frigate birds mating in the surrounding incense trees, their wings outstretched and their trademark red gular sacks inflated. Already the novelty of wildlife within our grasp has faded.

It’s a sharp contrast to the day before, when we had first touched down on this five-million-year-old archipelago.

“I don’t know if this is what I was expecting,” said my seatmate, Jill, as the plane taxied down Baltra Island. The airstrip blended seamlessly into the volcanic landscape, which was empty save for low-lying shrubs. “There’s really nothing here.”

Read more on Verge Magazine »

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

In Defence of Short-Term Volunteer Abroad Projects

Last fall, as a speaker on a panel discussion, I unexpectedly found myself to be the subject of intense scrutiny. There I was, sharing advice for gaining international work experience, when I confessed to what the audience decided was a heinous crime. My offense? Volunteering abroad on a short-term construction project nearly 10 years ago.

Read more on Verge Magazine »

Saturday, February 21, 2015

How to Save Money for Travel—and Fast

In the past, I’ve written about how I travel for cheap or for free, but I’ve never written about how I actually save money for travel.

Here’s a full (but not entirely shocking) disclosure; as a freelance journalist, I don’t exactly make a lot of money. And yet I always seem to have enough money to travel. So how do I do it?

I know a lot of digital nomads advocate for selling your stuff and giving up a home base in order to explore the globe. But I kind of like my bed and my dog and my apartment, so I’ve figured out that there’s another way.

While I'm far from a financial guru, here are my six foolproof steps for saving enough money to make travel—or any other financial goal, really—a reality:

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Top 5 Tips for Visiting the Galapagos

When my cousin and I booked a holiday for our respective birthdays to the Galapagos last year, I knew that the trip would be somewhat outside of my comfort zone—but not for the obvious reasons. As the longest tour I’d ever taken, it would mean being on someone else’s schedule for 10 days straight, all while stuck on a boat with a dozen strangers. 

I can’t say it was my ideal mode of travel, but it was definitely the trip of a lifetime. However, there were a couple of things that I was totally unprepared for.

Here are five things Katherine and I wish we had known before leaving for the Galapagos:

Friday, February 06, 2015

My International Long-Distance Relationship

This Valentine’s Day, for the first time in years, I’m in a relationship. It should be cause for celebration, I suppose, but there’s just one problem—he lives in Sydney, Australia.

I didn’t mean for this to happen. I wasn’t looking for a relationship, much less an international long-distance relationship. (Or, as I like to think of it, a “longest distance” relationship.)

We met on a press trip in South Australia during the Best Jobs in the World competition. Although he initially dismissed me as “another loud Canadian” (fair enough), we quickly became friends, bonding over our mutual interest in travel and working abroad. Okay, and we may have also bonded over our mutual interest in whisky.

Read more on Verge Magazine »
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