LIVE IN THE MOMENT

On a recent backpacking trip around Europe I found myself in Slovenia and Croatia, two countries that will always have a special place in my heart. These two places were all about living in the moment and going on spontaneous adventures with strangers in some of the most breathtaking places. The hardest part was of course saying goodbye. It always is. 

Music: "Live in the Moment" by Portugal.The Man

HOW TO TRAVEL FOR LESS: GOING FROM INSPIRATION TO BOOKINGS

Traveling can be an expensive lifestyle or hobby but, it doesn't have to be. With a little planning and research on your destinations, you can save so much money. 

INSPIRATION AND RESEARCH: 

PINTEREST:  

When picking a destination and finding things to do, I always find myself on Pinterest. This is mainly because you can organize your travel destinations on digital boards. There are links to blog posts written by people from all over the world. There are tons of tips on travel, accommodation, and gorgeous photos leaving you utterly inspired.  

GOOGLE MAPS: 

Google Maps on google drive can allow you to create a visual for your itinerary. You can drag your destinations from place to place with the click of your mouse. Since it automatically saves your map on google drive when you are signed in, you can access it from anywhere around the world where there is wifi. Under the explore key, google has maps already created by people to inspire your next trip or destination. 

BOOKING FLIGHTS + TRANSPORTATION:

#1 RULE:

A huge tip for saving money when booking flights is to always make sure you are using an incognito browser. Your computer collects your browser history and cookies which will increase your prices for flights if you look at the same website multiple times. 

SKYSCANNER:    

Skyscanner is no doubt my favorite website for booking flights. Its extremely simple and you can choose your destination based on the cheapest prices from your place of origin. You can also look at the cheapest months and days within the months to travel to certain locations which is very helpful. 

If you are traveling a long distance where you know there will be multiple stopovers, why not choose your own stop overs? Yes, Skyscanner gives you the option to book MULTI-CITY flights where you choose multiple destinations and your stop overs. This tool is useful if you want to fly into one city and fly out of another one. 

MOMONDO:   

Momondo is another great flight price comparison website. It is very similar to skyscanner and I use both to compare each other's prices. 

ROME2RIO:  

Rome2Rio is great for not only finding flights but, finding the cheapest price for all the modes of transportation. That includes train, bus, flight, ferry, and ride shares. It is again, sort of the same idea like Skyscanner and Momondo but with a broader spectrum of transportation options. 

BOOKING ACCOMADATION: 

Booking accommodations can be an intimidating process. There are so many options to choose from and the possibilities are endless. I use three different booking options depending on my budget for the trip and what kind of environment I want to be in. 

HOSTEL WORLD:  

The hostel life is pretty much my default booking. I know I can always rely on hostel world to book a great hostel that meets my needs. Hostels range from country to country and city to city, price wise. But you will always find that staying in a mixed dorm of 8-12 people is always the cheapest and the most fun. 

Things to make sure your hostel has before booking it:

  • Free Breakfast: this will save you money on a meal or two a day! Always book a hostel with free breakfast
  • A kitchen: for guests to cook their own meals. Eating out every meal gets expensive, so cooking at your hostel will save you.
  • Free Wifi: I don't even think I have to explain this one
  • Storage Lockers: you have to bring your own locks but make sure your hostel has a locker area so you can store your valuable things when you are out so nothing gets stolen
  • Linens Provided: some hostels don't provide sheets or pillow cases on the bed, make sure your hostel gives them unless you plan to bring your own
  • Centralized Location: make sure your hostel is close to the city center and accessible by public transportation that way you aren't having to take an expensive taxi from the airport, bus, or train station.

COUCHSURFING:  

What is Couchsurfing? Couchsurfing is a website in which people host other travelers, usually on their couch or extra bed or air mattress. And yes, IT'S FREE. Or is it? Although it is technically "free" to stay with them, you should show your appreciation of their hosting by cooking them a meal, taking them out for a drink, or doing something nice for them. They are after all sharing their home and space with you and do it frequently so it adds up.

This is by far the cheapest option but, you as a traveler have to be the most flexible since you don't always have the freedom of doing what you want all the time. Couchsurfing is well worth it. All the hosts are also travelers so they understand the lifestyle and both the host and traveler can learn a lot from each other. 

Some things to consider while Couchsurfing: 

  • Always message the people with high response rates and "maybe accepting + accepting guests"
  • Read their reviews
  • Take the time to write a personalized message when asking someone to host you
  • If they decline you, don't take it personally 
  • Use more than one host 
  • Keep your host up to date with your travel plans because they do have a life too
  • Be mindful of the security of where you are staying 
  • Be respectful of their house rules 
  • Don't be messy and use up all their water and electricity 
  • Never bring people back

AIR B&B:   

Air B&B is the best kind of booking if you are traveling with 2 or more people and/or if you want a bit more privacy. If you are splitting the costs between two or more people it can be even cheaper than a hostel. You can rent apartments, houses, and even villas. You don't get the aspect of meeting a lot of people like in hostels or on Couchsurfing but, there is a lot more freedom to go and come as you please. 

If you are new to Air B&B and want to make an account, there is a special code link -------> Air B&B that gives you $40 off your first trip of $75 or more. All you have to do is sign up to claim your credit. 

Canadian Road Trip 2017

 

As soon as I heard in January that Canada’s National Parks would be free to enter this year, I immediately knew where I would be headed for Spring Break. Banff National Park had always been on my bucket list of places to go and what better way to spend spring break than in this breathtaking place.

I got my one of my friends to go with me and we decided to take a road trip from Portland, stopping in Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver BC, Glacier National Park of Canada and Banff. 

Here are some of the wonderful adventures we had! 

Seattle/Tacoma:

Tacoma Museum of Glass- $12 for students. We got to see a live show of glass being made as well as a tour of the museum. 

Couchsurfing on Capitol Hill - This was my first time Couchsurfing in the USA. We stayed with a really chill guy named Kyle. He had an adorable pup named Precious. After a long day of exploring Seattle, we just ordered a pizza, watched some Bob Ross painting tutorials and crashed on Kyles couch.  

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Seattle Public LIbrary

Seattle Public LIbrary

 

Food In Seattle: 

Seattle has similar food contents to Portland. We ended up getting two of my classic go-to meals. These places were both within a five-minute walking distance of our CouchSurfing place. 

Jai Thai

Americana Restaurant

Vancouver BC

After only spending a night in Seattle, we made our way to Vancouver, BC. There, we stayed at Samesun Backpackers Hostel

It is located on Granville St. in downtown Vancouver, close to many amazing pubs, food, and activities. That first night we met up with a friend of mine who I met at a party hostel in Bolivia. He took us bar hopping and gave us a little mini walking tour of the city. 

Bar Hopping Itinerary:  

Mahony & Sons

Steamworks Gastown

The Cambie

The Library Square Public House

Samesun Backpackers Hostel Bar

The next day we were very hungover, which was fine because it was pouring rain and not ideal exploring weather. We did, however, treat ourselves to a delicious and inexpensive meal at the Basil Pasta Bar. All the plates of pasta are $9 CAD which is really affordable. I devoured a Mediterranian Penne which was a penne pasta with pesto sauce, artichokes, asparagus, tomatoes, spinach, and topped with a generous portion of goat cheese. For all those goat cheese sluts out there, this pasta dish is for you. 

Vancouver BC ----------------> Banff, Alberta

The road trip to Banff was extremely long, it took us nearly 10 hours of driving to get there but boy was it beautiful. 

Lake Shuswap, BC 

Lake Shuswap, BC 

Glacier National Park of Canada, BC

Glacier National Park of Canada, BC

BANFF NATIONAL PARK:

Johnston Canyon: Lower and Upper Falls

Johnston Canyon Lower Falls

Johnston Canyon Lower Falls

Johnston Canyon Upper Falls

Johnston Canyon Upper Falls

Located in Banff National Park, Johnston Canyon is a beautiful hike up an icy pathway to gorgeous turquoise waterfalls. As I went at the end of March, the snow was still there and it was very icy. It's a good thing I came prepared with my snowshoes. For the people who didn't have any sort of traction, it was very dangerous with lots of slipping and sliding. 

Bow River

Tunnel Mountain, which doesn't actually have a tunnel is a breathtaking hike around the Banff area. It is a combination of switchbacks and flat grounds but is mostly uphill. Just like Johnston Canyon, snowshoes were needed as it was extremely icy. 

The view from the top of Tunnel Mountain. 

The view from the top of Tunnel Mountain. 

View of the Bow River from Tunnel Mountain

View of the Bow River from Tunnel Mountain

Maple, the adventures bear enjoying the fresh air on top of Tunnel Mountain

Maple, the adventures bear enjoying the fresh air on top of Tunnel Mountain

Lake Louise is the most iconic lake in Banff National Park. The night before going to Lake Louise, I had gone bar hopping with a Kiwi and a German, we ended up decided to all go to the lake together along with my travel buddy. We walked across the entire lake and climbed to the base of a giant frozen waterfall. All of them except me stripped down to their boxer-briefs and dove into the small thawed out part of Lake Louise. 

Lake Louise was by far my favorite part of the trip. 

Spotted: A Kiwi jumping into Lake Louise 

Spotted: A Kiwi jumping into Lake Louise 

Patrick (Kiwi), Lucas (German), Grant (American)

Patrick (Kiwi), Lucas (German), Grant (American)

Frozen Waterfall on Lake Louise

Frozen Waterfall on Lake Louise

Food: 

Old Spaghetti Factory: Originally from Portland, the Old Spaghetti Factory in the town of Banff is basically run by Australians. This place never disappoints with it's exceptional pasta and three course meal. 

Indian Curry House: This hidden gem located on Banff Ave. is by far the best Indian food I have ever had in my life. We ended up eating there a couple of nights because it was so delicious. Everything from their Garlic Naan to their PaIak Paneer was a masterpiece of flavor and spices in the mouth. I still have cravings for it. Enough said. 

Eating out every night can be expensive, especially in the town of Banff which is why we ended up cooking a lot of our meals. There are a couple of grocery stores near by and the kitchen in Samesun Backpackers is excellent for cooking meals while also meeting new people.  

Tip: Many hostels have free breakfast, which usually includes some bread and toppings like peanut butter and jam or cream cheese. We ended up making PB&J sandwiches from leftover breakfast to take on hikes that way we didn't have to buy extra things to make lunch or eat out.