Suitcase and Heels - Solo female travel and style blog
Suitcase and Heels is a female travel & style blog featuring travel tips, deals, fashion, and photography from around the world. I want to inspire you to get out there and see the world whenever and however you can, push your own limits, and look good while doing it.
The snow is blowing sideways. Icy little pellets that would sting your face if you were to venture out into it. The roads are eerily quiet with only the odd foolhardy cab attempting to get around in the weather. My street hasn’t seen a plow yet and likely won’t for hours. I’m cozy in my house wearing fleecy pjs that make me feel like a giant teddy bear. I have a beer on the go that will help add to the warm feeling. But I’m missing one thing.
What are Storm Chips?
Storm chips are a weird Atlantic Canadian phenomenon. If there’s a storm in the forecast you best stock up on potato chips. Those are your storm chips. There’s something about a snowstorm that makes a person snacky here. Being housebound means normal rules don’t apply. Treat yo’self.
Milk, eggs, bread… these are staples that we know will see us through any kind of inclement weather but when the forecast is threatening to isolate us in our houses for who knows how long a kind of last-meal mentality takes hold and we find ourselves standing in the chip aisle, shopping like a teenage boy who’s taken one too many hits from a bong.
It’s become such a phenomenon here in St. John’s that store shelves routinely empty out of everything from BBQ to ketchup to sour cream ‘n onion. The lightly salted being the last chip to find a forever home. Oddly enough, Doritos don’t seem to count as #stormchips. They’re always left behind. Are nachos even #stormchips? Is a hot dog a sandwich? Discuss.
Winter storms on the east coast are no joke. With winds topping 100km/h and dumpings of more than a foot of snow not being uncommon, if we didn’t have a sense of humour about it I’m not sure how we’d get through the long winter months. What started as a bit of a throwaway tweet now brings us together. Talking about your storm chips brings a sense of belonging. We’re all weathering out the storm together. We’re all getting our storm chips.
How Did the #stormchips Hashtag Start?
It all started with Stephanie Domet in 2014, who hosted the Mainstreet Halifax program at CBC Radio One. She casually mentioned to a colleague on air about picking up chips and dip before an impending blizzard. A chat followed about how similar snack plans were being made in his household. She later tweeted a photo of her newly acquired storm snacks and the hashtag #stormchips was born. The Halifax twitterati latched onto the hashtag and it spread from there.
Storm Chips Become a Real Thing
In 2015, in a moment of life imitating art, New Brunswick snack company, Covered Bridge, doubled down on the social media trend and came out with a chip flavour called Storm Chips. Well, four flavours to be honest. They mixed together barbecue, ketchup, dill, and sea salt and vinegar chips in a winter themed bag and waited for the storms. As you can imagine, they were a big hit. I admit, I totally bought some just so that I could post a photo to social media. #forthegram Has there ever been a snack food before that started life off as a tweet?
Do you have any snowstorm traditions? Do you find that bad weather leads to you stockpiling snacks? I’d love to hear about it!
14 GIFT IDEAS FOR THE FEMALE TRAVELLER IN YOUR LIFE
It can be tricky to find the perfect gift for a well-traveled woman. Whether it’s your friend, sister, girlfriend, wife, mother, or other the goal is give her something she’ll be able to take with her to make her trip more enjoyable. But how do you separate the useful from the useless, the innovative from the overdone?
I’ve combed through tons of products and rounded up some of my own favourite items from the past year, as well as things that will be on my own Christmas list this year, to create my travel gift guide for well-travelled women.
This camera bag satchel is beautiful. It has essential organization features, 3 different carry options and looks ever so stylish with pink and white striped lining and gold details. Practical AND fabulous, just how it should be.
It looks a bit like a neck brace but the Trtl travel pillow is a real game changer. It’s lighter and takes up less space than a traditional pillow and let me sleep, even in an aisle seat when I’m normally a window leaner.
The Laundress’ eco-friendly fabric-care solutions are not only highly effective but biodegradable, too. This compact travel pack contains a miniature stain-remover, crease-remover and static-solver as well as a clothing freshener scented with essential oils.
The dry air of flights and hotel rooms can wreak havoc on a traveller’s skin so that’s why I love this portable humidifier. It converts a standard sized individual water bottle into a moisture-producing water tank that can be used anywhere.
I love products that do double duty and the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer is perfect for fine-haired girls like me. It takes the place of your hair dryer and round brush making styling a breeze.
Minimalism at its best, the Matador Mini Pocket blanket packs up so small you can keep it in your purse. Water-repellent and puncture-resistant, it’s perfect for sitting without getting dirty, whether you’re hiking or going to a festival.
No need to worry about liquids here if you’re flying carry on. This multi-purpose cleansing stick provides gentle exfoliation with real green tea leaves while also effectively removing and cleansing dirt and makeup to leave skin moisturized.
Keep all your travel documents in one stylish place. This faux-leather streamlined travel wallet is equipped with a thoughtfully designed interior featuring labeled pockets and slots for passports, documents and cards.
Does the TSA consider toothpaste a liquid? It doesn’t matter when you’re packing Bite. How do they work? Just bite down on your Bit, wet your toothbrush and start brushing, and watch it foam up like minty-fresh magic.
Travel the world every time you check your watch with the map-print dial of this kate spade new york metro watch, accented with jeweled map markers and the reminder that you’re “going places.” a gold-tone case and vachetta leather strap complete the look.
Ah, Santorini. Honeymooners paradise. Cruisers playground. Jewel in the crown of the Cyclades. Land of fiery sunsets, white-washed cubic buildings, and blue domed churches. It seems like a paradise, no? Well, I just got back from my first visit to Greece and there were a few things that surprised me that I want to share with you.
There Aren’t As Many Blue Domes as You’d Think
Do a Google Image search of “Santorini” and you’ll be inundated with pictures of blue domed churches. The island must be filled with them! But look closer… the pictures you’re looking at are all of the same three domes. While Santorini does have more than 250 churches, only a handful of them have blue domes. In fact, the largest church on the island, the Orthodox Cathedral in Fira, is entirely painted white and the Catholic Cathedral’s main feature is a yellow and blue clock tower.
You Shouldn’t Drink the Water
Greece is a European country and so it never occurred to me to check on the water situation. Santorini has only one natural spring and the amount of drinkable water it produces is not nearly enough to sustain the population, let alone tourists. Up until the 1990s Santorini had most of their water shipped in on tankers from Crete. Now most homes and hotels have access to water from desalination plants but it’s still rather salty and it’s advised not to drink it so most people buy bottled water. Expect to pay between €0.50 and €1 for a 500ml bottle in shops.
Those Private Pools Aren’t That Private
I’m sure you’ve seen photos on Instagram of amazing private infinity pools with caldera views. What you don’t see is the walkways just on the other side of that infinity pool or the crowds of tourists higher up the cliffside with a clear view down into your pool. While I would still absolutely love to spend some time in one of these posh retreats, I know that any outdoor space at a caldera-side hotel in Oia or Thira isn’t that private.
You Can’t Flush Toilet Paper
Greek plumbing is shit. Pun intended. The pipes are old and can’t handle anything other than #1 or #2 so you have to discard any toilet paper into a trash can. I gotta say, tossing tp in the toilet bowl is a hard habit to break and putting it in a bin is kind of off putting, but you get used to it after a few days. One plus of staying in hotels or hostels over AirBnBs is that they’ll take out the trash for you every day.
Head’s up: I’m not sure how common they are across the island, but the public toilet near the bus terminal in Fira is a squatter, but at least it’s stocked with toilet paper.
Vineyards Look Nothing Like What You’d Expect
If you’ve ever been to a vineyard in North America or most other places in Europe there are certain things you’d expect to see. In Santorini, rather than neat rows of closely spaced vines, propped up on stakes and wires with a well shaped canopy, you’ll find coils of vines on the ground, planted far apart. They have been trained to grow in this way, with grapes growing inside the basket shape of the vines, in order to protect them from wind. Their main source of moisture? Morning dew. There’s no artificial irrigation here.
They Have a Microbrewery
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, Santorini is primarily a wine destination. Every empty plot of land seems to house coils of grape vines. But did you know that Santorini also has a microbrewery? If you visit you’ll see signs in restaurants and shops advertising Yellow Donkey and Red Donkey beer. These are just two of the styles brewed by the Santorini Brewing Company. If you want to try their full range you’ll need to visit the brewery itself. There you can sample Crazy Donkey – the first and only IPA to be brewed in Greece – as well as their other limited run beers. There’s a catch with the brewery though – they’re not licensed to serve beer in the building so you need to take your bottle to go, but since you can drink in public in Greece, you can just sit on their front steps to enjoy a brew or two.
Thira, Thera, Fira…It’s All the Same…Sort Of
While visiting Santorini you’ll probably see and hear different things referring to the same town. Technically, Thera is the ancient name of both the island of Santorini and the volcano that shaped it, while Thira (Θήρα) is the official name of the region, and Fira (Φηρά) is the capital of the island. But in reality you’ll see road signs pointing to Thira, “Fira!” being announced over bus loudspeakers, and people talking about Thera…and they’re all referring to the same place. Just keep the context in mind and you’ll figure it out.
On that note… Oía (Οία) is pronounced EE-ah, not Oy-yah. So if you’re hanging around the bus terminal in Fira hoping to get there in time for a glass of wine at sunset, you’ll be waiting a long time if you’re waiting to hear “oy-yah”.
Are you planning a trip to Santorini? Have you been before? What other little known facts did you discover?
I sat at the kitchen table, staring at a small paper bag, filled with dried purple seaweed. This time I would try it. The briny smell of the ocean floor wafted from the bag. You could smell it from six feet away, easy. “It’s good for you. C’mon…” I goaded myself on. I pulled a piece from the bag, separating the sheets until I had a few thin square inches. I held it up the light examining it from every angle, looking for isopods clinging to it, stalling really. But it was time. No more excuses. At the age of 39, it was high time that I tried dulse for the first time…especially since this snack is intertwined with the culture and heritage of my hometown. How could I be a “real” New Brunswicker if I’d never tried dulse.
What is dulse?
Dulse is a deep burgundy sea vegetable found along the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It’s harvested at low tide and dried to produce a salty snack that’s full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Think of it like nature’s ocean chips. As long as I can remember there have been bags of dulse for sale in the grocery stores and markets of New Brunswick. The Bay of Fundy has the largest tides in the world so it makes for prime dulse harvesting. Despite the fact that you can also find people eating it in Iceland, Ireland, and beyond I always equated it to a New Brunswick snack.
As a kid, I refused to even consider the idea of trying dulse. It was unfamiliar with a strong color and scent and I was a picky eater. I meant, who eats seaweed? That was the stuff buzzing with flies that you jumped over at the beach when you wanted to go for a swim. You didn’t eat that. And well, it’s true, the stuff on the beach is dead and decaying seaweed, while the leaves that are dried to produce dulse are picked from healthy living plants.
It was time
As I got older I started to feel a bit embarrassed that I’d gone that long without trying one of the foods that, in my mind, was so intertwined with New Brunswick culture and heritage. “What do you mean you haven’t tried dulse?” was the shocked replied when I did let my negligence slip. Every time I would walk through the Saint John City Market and see the barrels and bags overflowing with salty seaweed I would feel a twinge of guilt that I was born and raised here but turned my nose up at such a local food.
By then I had built it up in my head to be a major thing. I would periodically buy a bag and then stare at it, willing myself to just go ahead and nibble on a piece. Inevitably it would sit in the cupboard, ignored until I threw it out, despite the fact that dulse never goes bad. This time though, I promised myself would be different. I marched into the local market, grabbed a paper bag and plucked a few clumps from the barrel. I paid for my treasure vowing to try it as soon as I got home.
Well… that didn’t happen.
A friend of mine gave me a few tips for my first time with dulse. First, get the stuff in the paper bag, not the plastic bag. The plastic bag will make it sweat and he swears that the drier and crispier the better. Second, dulse likes to clump together so separate the leaves to get a thin sheet. It seems that if you bite into a thick clump you don’t get the satisfying crunch.
I decided I would pop it in the oven to try to crisp it up. After a minute on broil it sort of smelled like ocean popcorn. It legit looked like dried leaves. Ok… do or die. I popped a small piece into my mouth. First chew was ok… reminds me of something I ate in Korea that I can’t quite pin down. Fishy but not like salmon or cod. Maybe more like what I would expect caplin to taste like. Maybe a sardine?
Then…whoa! The saltiness really hit with wallop. I did my best but my face contorted in response to the new and intense taste and texture. I wasn’t expecting it to stick to my teeth that much either.
I tried a second piece. And a third. I see how it could grow on you. Actually, I bet it would be good toasted and crumbled into rice with a teriyaki broiled tuna steak. I got brave and tried a piece of untoasted dulse. The flavour and salt don’t seem as strong but it definitely takes more chew before you can swallow. I prefered the toasted version despite it being an unappetizing brown colour, but I was still making faces.
Am I a real New Brunswicker now?
Dulse is both repulsive and addictive. The smell and taste push me away from the salt and crunch bring me back. It reminds me of my favourite junk tv show. Part of me doesn’t like it while the other part can’t stop watching. I recently learned that there’s actually a word for this: hathos. The compulsion of revulsion. I think that accurately sums up my first experience with dulse. It’s not a truly enjoyable taste but I can’t stop eating it. At least it’s good for me, right?
So, I’m now a person who’s eaten dulse. I look and sound and feel the same, just with more salt and vitamins in me and some purple flecks stuck to my teeth. Am I real New Brunswicker now?
When I heard that Nomadic Matt was organizing a travel conference I was curious. Attending TBEX in Toronto back in 2013 was one of the best things I’d ever done for this little blog. When I saw the line-up of speakers Matt had put together, I knew I had to go. Pretty much every blogger that I’d like to meet was going to be speaking. So that was settled, my next adventure is going to take me to Austin, Texas to rub elbows with travel blogging elite, learn some new things, and hopefully make some new travel blogging friends. And eat tacos. I legit plan to live on 90% tacos while in Austin.
I’ll actually be in Austin a week before TravelCon gets rolling to spend a few days with my best friends in the whole wide world at our annual girls getaway that we dub The Summit. We’ve been friends for 25 years but have been separated by geography for at least 15 of those. Nine years ago we decided to make it a priority to see each other at least once a year, hence the birth of the Summit. It’s honestly my favourite event of the year.
I’ll have a few days in between events where I’ll most likely scope out the best “coffices” to log some hours for my (awesome, flexible) day job punctuated with a day of river tubing with The Blonde Abroad and 40 other fine folks. What’s the best adult beverage for tubing anyway?
But…that can’t be it…
I knew that I didn’t want to come straight home after TravelCon. I didn’t want a conference to be my “big fall trip” so I started looking at places that were cheap to get to from Austin. My criteria: warm, ocean, somewhere I hadn’t been before.
I was waffling between Cuba and Mexico but kept debating because I’d be there during hurricane season and it wouldn’t be uncommon to get crap weather. Then… I made a discovery. Norwegian Airlines flies direct from Austin to London for less than half of what other airlines do. For $300 CAN I got myself a seat on a 9h red-eye to Gatwick. Cashed in some travel credit with WestJet and booked myself a flight home from London. But what to do in between…
Again…warm, ocean, somewhere new. I narrowed it down this time to Portugal, Greece, and Turkey. They all have their merits but Greece won out this time. Those white washed buildings and blue domes of Santorini just get to me but always felt a bit out of reach. One thing I’ve learned over the past few years of travel is that there are many ways to vacation somewhere. While some will splash out big bucks for hotels with caldera view infinity pools, I’ll be bunking down in a cave hostel for 1/10th of the price. But we both get to witness the same sunsets.
I’ll be spending 2 days in Mykonos, 4.5 days in Santorini, and 3 days in Athens. My only real plans are:
Watch a Santorini sunset with a glass of wine
Do the hike from Fira to Oia
Visit the Acropolis
Swim in the Aegean Sea
Visit the microbrewery in Santorini
Take too many photos
Eat ALL the Greek food and see if I can’t learn to like olives
I’ll spend two days in London on my way home, mainly so that I can refresh my fall wardrobe from the likes of Primark, M&S, Tezenis, and Uniqlo. I do love London in the fall.
Here’s where you guys come in. I want all your tips, tricks, and must-dos for Austin, Mykonos, Santorini, and Athens. Heck, if you’ve got some wicked London tips I’d love to hear those too. Have YOU been to any of these places? Where should I eat? What do I need to photograph? Are there any hidden gems I shouldn’t miss? How about overrated tourist traps? I want to hear it all. Leave me a comment or fire me off an email. And be sure to follow along on Instagram Stories and Twitter for real time updates once I hit the road.
If you only have limited time in Newfoundland but still want to experience as much as you can, then head to Twillingate. The communities spread out over the New World Islands are like Newfoundland condensed. They have breathtaking coastal landscapes, icebergs, whales, fishing, theatre, hiking, good food, and even a new craft brewery. Really, what more could you want?
I spent some time in Twillingate the other year and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I even had some semi-serious real estate thoughts when I found a cute little affordable house in Crow Head with a view of the ocean. The scenery, the people, and the relaxed way of life certainly have an appeal that you can see after just a few days. I think Twillingate should be on your Newfoundland bucket list so I’ve put together a guide to help you plan your next trip.
Keep in mind that many businesses are seasonal and will only be open between May and October so it’s best to check with them directly if you’re visiting outside of those months.
Where is Twillingate?
Twillingate is a town of 2200 people located on a series of islands in Notre Dame Bay on the North Western coast of the province. You may recognize the name from the lyrics of the popular folk song, I’se the B’y as part of the Fogo-Twilling-Morton’s Harbour circle of towns.
How to get to Twillingate?
Twillingate is an approximate 5 hour drive from the capital of St. John’s or a 4.5 hour drive from Gros Morne National Park. In order to visit Twillingate you’ll ultimately want your own vehicle. While it’s possible to get there from Gander with the Central Express shuttle (1-709-422-2647) you won’t be able to fully explore the area without private transportation.
Be sure to book your rental early if visiting in the summer as supply is limited and gets booked early.
Where to Stay in Twillingate
There is a grand total of one hotel, one motel, and one hostel in Twillingate. But there are over 20 B&Bs and over 20 cottages available. During the high season it’s not uncommon for things to get booked up so be sure to plan your trip early.
Many of the 22 spacious rooms at this 4-star hotel offer great ocean views and all are tastefully decorated with full hotel amenities. Also, between Georgie’s Restaurant and Blue Barrel Cafe on site you’ll be well fed.
North 99 Motel has 4 brand new rooms to accommodate you. They make the most out of a small space by including a queen size murphy bed, which tucks away during the day when you may want more floor space. They also have a bar and pub on site.
This is one of the few hostels in Newfoundland and is a cute, budget-friendly, relaxing option. Housed in a traditional Saltbox home, Hi Tides has one 4-bed dorm and 3 private rooms. They have a communal kitchen, beachfront fire pit, instruments to borrow, along with free wifi.
If you’re looking for a B&B, there’s an embarrassment of riches in Twillingate and the Sunshine Inn is one of the stars. There are 5 rooms with ensuites, each with Newfoundland made spa products and crowned with a colourful traditional Newfoundland quilt.
Open for breakfast and evening meals, Georgie’s is a great casual dining option known for their seafood and traditional Newfoundland dishes with a modern twist. It’s the perfect end of day meal location if you’re staying at the Anchor Inn.
If you’re looking for fresh, upscale dining in Twillingate, look no further than Canvas Cove Bistro. Their menu includes local fresh catch seafood dishes, vegetarian options, soups, salads, sandwiches, and daily house-baked desserts you can enjoy on their ocean-view panoramic deck.
If coffee and the most delicious chocolate chip cookies are what you’re craving, head north to Crow Head and the Crow’s Nest Cafe. It’s tiny but cozy with stunning views. If the weather is nice, enjoy your coffee on their deck.
Twillingate is a town with views that just won’t quit and Annie’s is another restaurant that takes full advantage of this with large windows. If you’re looking for a lobster dinner, or any other manner of seafood, this is the spot.
Things to Do in Twillingate
Beer Tasting at Split Rock Brewing Co.
Split Rock Brewing has just celebrated their first anniversary of pouring up craft pints in Twillingate. Come for Beers & Bingo on Tuesday nights and get a flight to sample and meet your new favourite brew.
Wine Tasting at Auk Island
Newfoundland is loving beer lately but before all that we enjoyed a tipple of berry wine. Auk Island Winery provides wine tours between May and September where you can sample the many different kinds of wines they produce. I personally recommend Fifty Shades of Bay.
Whale & Iceberg Watching
Twillingate is arguably the iceberg capital of Newfoundland so it behooves you to get yourself on a boat with a company like Iceberg Quest to get a closer look at the ice beauties if they’re in season. If you’ve missed the icebergs, whales hang out in the area right up until the fall. Even if you see nothing, a day on the water is a classic Newfoundland experience you should have.
Dinner and a Show
If you’re in town between the end of May and mid-September, then put the Twillingate-New World Island dinner theatre on your To Do list. What more can you ask for than a delicious meal follow by an entertaining evening of songs and skits? It’s a classic for a reason.
Take a Hike
Twillingate has so many dreamy coastal landscapes so you know it also has great hiking trails to help you take in those views. Whether it’s the Lower Head trail that leaves from the Long Point Lighthouse or one of the two trails through Spiller’s Cove or one of the countless other trails and walking paths in the area your little hiking heart will be happy.
Each fall Twillingate hosts Unscripted, a digital arts festival where you can learn all about photography, podcasting, filmmaking, and more as well as taking part in culinary and cultural activities. It’s the perfect reason to visit in the shoulder season.
If you want a boat tour that’s a bit more active than whale and iceberg watching, a fishing tour might be what you’re looking for. Companies like Captain Dave’s will take you out on the water where you can try your hand at catching the king of all Newfoundland fish, cod.
Count the Root Cellars
Before refrigeration was common in homes, people would keep their food chilled in root cellars and store their root vegetables over the winter. They’re small rooms typically built partially underground. You may think the little doors in the hillside remind you of Hobbit holes. While Elliston claims to be the root cellar capital, Twillingate has more than it’s fair share and it can make for a fun day of exploring trying to find them all.
Learn about the Beothuks
Prior to Europeans landing in Newfoundland, the Beothuks lived and loved here. The story of this now extinct indigenous group isn’t an easy one but you should take some time, visit the Beothuk Interpretation Centre in Boyd’s Cove and learn about their culture and traditions.
Tea and Toutons with the Split Peas
If you want to heard from trad tunes, have a little singalong and a few laughs, check out the Split Peas between mid-June and the end of August. Thee seven women have performed across Newfoundland and beyond over the past 25 years. Be sure to get yourself a cup of tea and a touton with molasses during the set break. The perfect nighttime snack.
While you could theoretically visit Twillingate in a single day, to get the most from your trip I really recommend setting aside at last two or three days to give yourself time to get out and explore and relax.
Will Twillingate be part of your next Newfoundland road trip?
Growing up, I would’ve said that we travelled as a family. Every summer we packed up and drove from New Brunswick to Newfoundland for three weeks. There were infrequent trips to Toronto to visit family and the more frequent long weekends to Bangor, Maine to cross-border shop for cheap turkeys and shoes.
One year, we decided to do a Big Trip. My mom and her co-worker planned a dual family vacation to Orlando, Florida. Travel agents were called in. Plane tickets were mailed to us. It was the early 90s after all and the Internet was still in its public infancy.
I remember, in my early 20s, hearing about Skywalk – an adventure activity similar to EdgeWalk at the CN Tower in Toronto. I thought it looked exciting and though I didn’t consider myself adventurous, I wanted to try it. When I found out it was in Macau though, I thought, “Well, guess I won’t get to do that. I’ll never be able to go to China.”
Things shifted after that. I took baby steps towards walking on the edge of that tower in China. I tagged along on my British friend’s visit home. We spent a week in NYC. I travelled to Toronto on my own, but with plans with friends in hand. Bit by bit that travel bug took hold.
Now there’s no stopping me.
My 30’s have surprised me. As I’m well into this decade now, and careening headfirst into the next, I’ve found that I’m more adventurous than ever, pushing myself beyond what I thought I would (and could) do.
The idea of becoming more adventurous as you get older doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. You’re meant to be wild and carefree in your 20s, then settle down, get a career, get married, buy a house, have kids, and then ride it out until retirement, right?
I’m doing the career thing. I bought the house. The rest though? Not in the cards right now. The fine lines and grey hairs I’ve been finding more of are telling me that I’m getting older but my mind doesn’t fully believe it. It thinks we’re still in our late 20s.
I still want to stay out until the sun rises, dancing the night away at a super club in Ibiza. I’ve only recently started staying in hostels. As I check one thing off a bucket list, two more get added.
Age won’t stop me from travelling.
As an only child I’ve always been comfortable with my own company. I learned how to be alone with my thoughts and how to entertain myself from a young age. No doubt this has made it easier for me to travel even when I don’t have a travel buddy.
People often ask me if I mind travelling alone. Honestly, I would often prefer to have a friend or two with me to share the adventure but that’s not always possible. So rather than not go at all, I go solo.
One upside is that I’ve found it can be easier to meet people while you’re travelling when you’re not already in a group. You become more open to talking to strangers and, in turn, people seem more open to talking to you.
Being solo won’t stop me from travelling.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things to be afraid of in the world. It seems you can’t log into Facebook or turn on the news without being presented with some new scam or terror. It’s enough to make you want to never leave your house.
But I’m a logical person. For every story you hear about someone being robbed in a foreign city, there were probably thousands who visited without incident. If my chance of winning a prize was 1 in 10,000 I would be shocked if my name were drawn. So if the chances of something bad happening were the same, why would I expect to be the unfortunate one?
To combat fear, I educate myself. I read as much as I can and reach out to those who’ve been where I’m thinking of going. I look at the stats.
I truly believe that most people are good at heart, ambivalent at worst. The vast majority of the people whose paths I’ll cross in my travels don’t want to hurt me or steal from me. I refuse to let fear win.
When it comes to activities, I try to push against my comfort zone at least a few times during a trip. Whether it’s jumping over a waterfall into a canyon, running off a cliff strapped to nothing more than a large thin piece of fabric, or hanging on to a piece of board hurtling down the side of an active volcano, I’m here for it. The feeling of accomplishment and pride at having tackled something intimidating is worth it.
Peopled ask if I get scared. Sometimes I do. It’s ok to be scared. But I do the thing anyway.
Fear won’t stop me from travelling.
Now, it’s entirely possible for money, or lack thereof, to bring a halt to my travelling, but I’m doing my best to not let it become a reason to stop me from seeing the world. Exploring new places and trying new things makes me happy and so I make it a priority in my budget. I get more joy from travel than from a bigger house or a newer car. So I have a modest house and drive an 8 year old car. I put away money for the future but I’m also living for today.
I collect points in order to make flying more affordable. I look for seat sales and string together itineraries to get from A to B in the most cost efficient manner. My dad once joked that if they’d let me fly cargo for cheaper, I’d probably do it. I search for discounts and promo codes before I book anything online. You’d be surprised how often there’s a code floating around.
One of the best travel discoveries I’ve made in recent years is the fact that I can stay in a hostel and not hate it. When I’m only paying $30/night to sleep instead of $100+, I know I can book an extra excursion or eat in a nicer restaurant and still stay on budget. I look for nicely designed hostels with small female dorms and ensuites preferably. If there’s a curtain on the bed like St. Christopher’s in Barcelona or Native Hostels in Austin, even better.
I’m doing my best to not let money stop me from travelling.
I absolutely love being able to get out and see things with my own eyes. Meet new people. Sample new foods. Try new activities, and revisit those I just can’t do at home (hello ocean swimming). The world is wide and I want to make some memories. I won’t stop traveling until I’ve seen the sun set on every coast.
What’s holding you back? What barriers to travel do you face?
Without a doubt, one of the other staples of any St. Johns’ summer is the annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival. It typically follows on the heels of the George Street Festival, but it couldn’t be more different. The folk festival takes place in Bannerman Park over the first full weekend in August and features workshops, panel talks, and lots of and lots of folk music.
While the George Street Festival is a loud, beer-fueled party, the Folk Festival is a quieter music appreciator’s event. There’s dancing but no mosh pit. You don’t have to worry about your toes here. Most people bring their own camp chair, arrive early, and enjoy all of the main stage acts each night. It’s definitely a more relaxed and casual vibe than other festivals. And unlike the George Street Festival most of the grounds are all-ages so you’ll see a lot of families taking part.
Of course, if you want an adult beverage, there’s always the beer tent where, this year, Quidi Vidi released a special Folk Festival pale ale. My next-door neighbour even designed the seagull on the cans.
If you want to fit in with the local St. John’s crowd, then the perfect shoe for the Folk Festival is a Blundstone boot. They sell so many of them in this small market that Blundstone HQ actually had to double check sales numbers to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. People who own them swear by them as the perfect all-season boot and you’ll find them on more than a few feet at Bannerman Park.
There’s something about the folk festival that seems to attract a bit of rain most years but that typically doesn’t stop anyone so a water resistant jacket with a hood is your best bet. Newfoundland nights, even in the middle of summer, tend to be cool so you’ll be happy for that extra layer.
Overall, the general rule of thumb for planning the perfect Folk Festival outfit is to keep it comfy and casual. For the evening sessions I recommend long pants over dresses or shorts since people aren’t packed in, you don’t get that body heat factor to mitigate the cooler temps.
I’ve always said that the last part of July and the first part of August is the best time to visit Newfoundland and Labrador and the Folk Festival is a big reason why. You should definitely put it on your Newfoundland bucket list.
Have you ever been to the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival?