Monday, 30 July 2012


If you recall, in my post "A History and A Future" I talked about hope spurring me onward to fulfill my dream. It is hope that keeps me going. Though at times I falter a little (or a lot). It's at those times that positive reminders help me come back to where I need to be and remind me that I can do this. I CAN DO THIS!! I WILL DO THIS!!

Interestingly enough, I get some great reminders from a page on Facebook. Facebook is used for so many things (business, socializing, events, info, games, time wasted, staying in contact, etc). And one of those things is a page created by a fellow Couch Surfer and friend of mine. She created a page where she (and those who "like" it) can view and post positive affirmations and quotes. I enjoy reading them on my FB page and often, they are very timely. Please take a moment to look at this page: Let's BElieve in our Dreams. I also encourage you to "like" it and "share" it as well. We all can use more positivity in our lives!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sunday's Special Spot - Helsinki

This week's picture takes us to a special monument in Helsinki, Finland. For those of you who don't know, I am of Finnish ethnicity. I'm a first generation Canadian - yes, I am the daughter of immigrants. I am proud of my background almost as much as I am proud to be a Canadian. So here we go, a great photo of the Sibelius Monument in Helsinki:

Sibelius Monument, Helsinki, Finland (designed by Eila Hiltunen)

Born in 1865, Jean Sibelius was a talented and celebrated composer and musician and one of Finland's greatest talents. He is credited with affecting the National Identity of Finland and having a strong influence on symphony and sound. He lived to a ripe old age of 91. 

Photo courtesy of Photo is owned and copyrighted by them.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday's Special Spot:

This photo is from from website. I don't know who actually snapped the photo but it is of a place I'd like to visit: Bolivia's Salt Flats

Salar de Uyuni - Bolivia's Salt Flats

Located in the southwest of Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes Mountain Range lies the world's largest salt flats: Salar de Uyuni. It covers an area of over 10, 000 square kilometers and is exceptionally flat. When I first heard and saw pictures of Uyani I was mesmerized. When I learned that you can visit it, it immediately went on my RTW destination list.  

Sunday, 15 July 2012


"British Columbia: The Best Place On Earth"

I snapped this photo several years ago whilst driving from Terrace to Prince Rupert, BC in the spring. I have seen this view several times and it always amazes me. It looks like an asteroid fell here and all that remained was this spectacular crater.  Or perhaps a glacier carved this bowl into mountain over thousand of years. Regardless, I am in awe of it every time I lay my eyes upon it. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A History and the Future

The first time I thought it would be amazing to backpack around the world was back when I was 21. I had spent 7 weeks in the UK and Europe and thought it would be amazing to do that for a full year around the entire globe. Then I wondered how I could do that, ya know, afford to do it for a year. I could not fathom it so I put the idea on the back burner and just traveled to destinations that I received discounts on through the travel agency I worked at. It sufficed and once in awhile I would have the RTW dream filter in. I put it out of my head as quickly as it came, because in reality I could not do it. I had only heard of a few people, those wild adventurers, that could make it happen. Those people who, I thought, had a nice chunk of money and no commitments. Not me...someone who hasn't even been camping (which apparently is a sacrilege for a Canadian) let alone traverse the world alone and not too wise about saving money. It just wasn't going to happen. Though I still liked the idea and dreamed of it happening.

Years passed and I went on with my life, as it goes for everyone. Soon, especially with the Internet I began to learn that it is possible to travel around the world, be safe and do it on a shoestring budget. Others have done before me and many will continue after me. So I began to think that perhaps, one day, I could do this trip. But again, I wondered "how can I afford it?"  I wasn't the smartest with money and still spent my money on those discount tourist trips that were presented to me at work. "I guess that will do and maybe one day I can live my dream." It just wasn't practical now, I mean who leaves their job for a year?

Then something unexpected happened....I was laid off. Yep, laid off after 10 + years. It was a shock but something that, in the end, was what I needed. The Universe gave me a swift kick in the pants after I decided I wanted to move to Vancouver but did not want to move until I had a job (I like security). So off I went to Vancouver in hopes of finding a great travel job. Or an office assistant job. Or retail. Or a life of crime....wait, can't do that cause I'd have problems traveling. Needless to say I was an unemployed bum for about an year. Actually, an underemployed bum as I did have a part time job (15 hours/week) in the afternoons but nothing that could support me living in Vancouver. Moving back to Thunder Bay was not an option. I loved Vancouver too much (even though I was losing money and getting into debt). Travelling was now definitely out of the picture.

One day my sister send me an email saying she was coming to visit (YAY!!) and did I want to look online for a massage school, as she had heard that they offer discounted massages. WHAT?!?! Massage schools??? In Vancouver?? Why had nobody told me this?? Had I not said years before that if I was to switch professions that I wanted to become an RMT?! It was like the Universe dropped a gift right in my lap. So I did a search, found a school, booked us an appointment and also requested a student information packet. The wheels were turning in my brain and I seriously considered going back to school. After careful consideration, talking with my family and close friends and going to meet the school admins, I applied. And I was accepted!! Now this is where it gets a bit more relevant to my RTW dream.

So there I am, sitting in class, about two thirds through the program. We are learning more a bit about the business end of massage and types of clinics and jobs available. And here comes the best part: "If you'd like to take time off you can hire a locum that pays your rent, treats your patients and when you return it's right where you left off." WHAT?! I can take time off and not mess up my career? Yes you can. It happens all the time (mainly with maternity leaves) but it's possible. OMG!!!! My dream can come true!!! I can actually take a year off. WOOOOOOOOO!!

And that is about as far as I've come. I know it's a very real REAL possibility. I've been shown I can do this. So why haven't I?

Why haven't I? Well there are some practical, real reasons. Or are they excuses?

Well here comes the part that I don't like talking about: MONEY. Now, I am of the mind that my money and earnings are my business (and Revenue Canada's) just as your money and earnings are your business. I do not like to discuss what I earn/have etc with anyone. Yes, we all have money conversations and stuff. I get that. What I do not like is specifics. I had a fellow RMT once ask me what I earned a year and I flat out told her I was not comfortable telling her (or anyone) that. It's not her concern and vice versa. So that is why I am finding writing this part a bit difficult, even if I am not going too much into it. But it's plays into my future so I'm mentioning it. I also want to put any reasons/excuses out there and let them go so I can see how the Universe will help in achieving my dream.

Like most people, I have debt. And a fairly big amount of it. And not good debt. Yuck! Furthermore, I am not one who wants to incur further debt or get into trouble by avoiding payments while a I traipse around the world.  So I figure that I not only have to save enough money to go around the world but also have enough to make my debt payments. On top of that, I have to make mandatory tax installments even though I won't be working for a year (a requirement of me being self-employed). So, needless to say, I am daunted by how much money I need to save before I leave. I fear that I won't be able to do it or that by the time I do it I'll be an old fart.

Another reason/excuse is I'm freaked out by this lifelong dream. More precisely, what if I can't do it? What if all my talk is just that...just talk? Somehow I think that once I get close to saving enough, having the gear and cleared out the stuff I own that I will freeze and not do a thing. So perhaps I sabotage myself or make excuses because I don't have faith in myself. Think about it. I intend to leave work for a year, sell most of my possessions, bid goodbye to my family and friends and go off into the unknown. Every other trip I've ever taken I've always come back to everything: A job, a home, a routine, friends and family. Once this trip is done I will have to find a job, a home, furniture, a routine (at least family and friends will still be there). What about when I'm on the road. What if I have problems crossing a border? What if I get sick? Will I be too tired from it all to really enjoy myself? I hear so much about how so many others have had great times traveling but I think perhaps that won't happen to me. Again, not too much faith in myself. So I distract myself - with all the social invites and engagements. Things to do, people to see and money to spend. It's like I've created a cycle.

So that is the "negative" excuses side. Honestly, it has a huge effect on me. Otherwise I'd of gone and returned by now. There is another part that has a huge effect as well. One that I want to nuture and over take the fear and excuses. It's the one thing that I believe keeps people going: HOPE. The hope of fufilling my life's dream. The hope that I can save enough money. The hope of leaving work for a year, selling most of my possessions, bidding goodbye to my family and friends and going off into the unknown. The longing and desire to give up my life and "see the world" is there and has been for a long time. It gives ME hope. Perhaps it's this hope that now has me realizing that I have to set a date. I don't know why I am focusing on this now more than before but I am. I have been in the same spot for some time now and need to move ahead. Some events have happened recently that got me thinking. I do not want to regret NOT going. Maybe that is why I am focusing more now than previously.

So that brings me to my future, which has me tearing up as I write this. Probably because I am both afraid of failing and succeeding. I am probably tearing up to because I am hopeful that this will all come to fruition. I am going to do my part best I can and leave the rest up to the Universe. So, what is the future? It's picking the date. I have been told more than once in the last several months to "Pick a date because then it's a goal. If you don't, it just a dream."

So I have picked my date. When it rolls around and if I'm not quite where I need to be I will make a new date but only a few months ahead. Yeah I know. It sounds like I'm giving myself an out. It's not that. It is because part of me does believe things happen when they should (and for a reason). So should I not make it for my date then I will adjust and keep going. As Confucius says "It does not matter how slow you go, so long as you do not stop." 
So here it is:  I will start my RTW trip on July 1, 2013. That's just under a year. A year to plan for a year way. It's also my favourite holiday (Canada Day). A great day to start living my dream. I will do my part, the Universe will do its and you get to hold me to it.

Sunday, 8 July 2012



I was hoping to use one of my older photos for today's inspiration, however, they are in an old format - an actual photograph (as opposed to a digital one). Not generally a problem but my printer/copier/scanner has bit the biscuit. I will be investing in a new one but probably in the next few weeks. Until then, I will be using some photos that are for locales that you have read about on this blog. 

Marais district, Paris, France 2009

I took this picture at ??????? Sorry, I can't remember the exact building name but it was in the Marais district and possibly on Rue de Rosier. I liked the gardens.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Announcing the weekly photo!

It's coming!! A weekly photo of some place in the world. I was inspired from 2 travel blogs I follow that are/were doing this: Nomadic Matt and So Many Places. So I figured, so will I. I will use my photos and if I haven't used mine I will post where I got the photo from (eg Flickr).

It will be called "Sunday's Special Spot" and I'll post weekly on Sundays. The first one goes up tomorrow!


Friday, 6 July 2012

Packing List

When one travels 'round the world there are certain things that MUST be brought along -- at least this is what I have read. I have perused dozens of blogs and indie travel sites and have come across as many packing lists.  A few things appear to be standard requirements. Some make sense to me and others not so much. That is why it would be safe to assume it depends on which types of activities one intends to participate in during this time. Doing overnight treks and hiking snowpeaks would call for tents, cold weather gear and special climbing equipment. Spending days lazying on beaches, checking out museums and wandering city streets calls for swimwear, camera and good shoes. That is why, in my opinion, it is smart to see what the recommendations are and THEN tailor it to your particular needs and style of travel. No, I have not yet done this trip but to me, that is the common sense approach.

Another thing to consider is weather. So if you are up in Iceland during an frosty February then having thermal underclothes, toques and Northface or Columbia jackets is a consideration. Planning to be at your destination during summer months can avoid the toting of excess winter clothes. And remember to pack your hat and sunscreen. Regardless of winter or summer you do need to pack for....wait for it....RAIN!! Yes rain, something that I am all too familiar with (but don't really mind). BC is often know as the "wet coast" as opposed to the "west coast". Although some places do not get as much rain as BC, other places get more. Tropical climates have rainy seasons (often that is their winter). Spring in temperate climates may experience showers. Short of being in a dessert, expect rain at some point. So a rain cover for your backpack and one for yourself is a good idea.

So, what will I pack you ask? I do have a list. It is typed up in point form and as I acquire items I mark them "off" with the red strikethrough feature. I have posted it below. Now, keep in mind, that this is my list now, before I have even purchased an airline ticket or saved enough money to fufill my life's dream. As the time comes close it may change. Even as I travel it will change. I don't doubt that I will discover what I need more of and what I can toss/donate/swap. Of course, it is reassuring that in our modern world I can most likely buy anything that I do need while on the road.

When you see my list, it is very specific and quite long. I am wondering how I can manage it all into my 60L Asolo women's backpack. It has plenty of pockets and compartments but I still am having a hard time believing I will be able to fit my life into that bag!! My whole life for a year!! Mindboggling! That is why I am convinced that packing well and as lightly as possible needs the utmost of attention.

Here are the few things that I have deemed essential and that I must not leave without*:

  • Valid passport and any Visa requirements and accompanying (ugly) photos
  • Documents (travel tickets, insurance, etc)
  • Backpack
  • First-Aid kit including prescriptions and copies of prescriptions
  • Rain cover for self and pack
  • non-breakable water bottle
  • toothbrush and toothpaste (I CANNOT travel without these)
  • Immunizations and records (if required)
  • Silk sleeping bag liner - even if I don't bring a sleeping bag this will be good in a pinch, adds a bit of luxury and bugs can't get through the silk
  • my iPod and charger. Even if it's just my little iPod Shuffle....I need that iPod!!!
*If that changes I will update it

 (Items in red I now have)

  • Backpack w/ day pack (I have a women's Asolo Travel Pack that my awesome sister gave me for christmas!!!) 
  • Compression sack
    • 15L sack
    • 12L sack
  • Documents
    • passport (with extra pages cause I'm traveling to plenty of places)
    • Visa's, if required (*some you must apply for before leaving, others you can get at border)
    • Certificate of Immunizations
    • Extra passport pictures (for Visa applicatons)
    • ATM card and credit card - check with banks re: foreign usage fees
    • Hostel Membership Card
      • Hostelling International
    • Travel Insurance (I hope I never have to use these)
      • Out of country medical and trip cancellation/interuption
      • check for backpacker specific insurance
      • check for evacuation insurance (for medical reasons)
    • List of (emergency) contact
      • Canadian Embassies
      • Family and friends
      • Addresses and phone numbers of friends in different countries
      • Travel Agent contact
      • Flight Itineraries (if pre-booked)
      • copies for family member contact at home
  • First Aid Kit
    • First Aid pouch (soft sided w/ compartments)
      • Tensor
      • Gauze roll
      • Sterile gauze pads
      • Band-Aids and triangular banadge
      • Rubbing alchohol or hydrogen peroxide (small bottle)
      • Polysporin
      • pair of vinyl or latex gloves
      • adhesive tap
      • cotton pads and Q-tips
      • small folding scissors
      • sling
      • tweezers
      • water purification tablets - update: my sister gave me a handy gadget for purifying water, just like the one she uses camping)
      • oral re-hydration salts
      • bug repellent w/ DEET
      • Aspirin
      • Malaria pills
      • Allergy pills
      • Solarcaine (for sunburns)
  • Toiletries (have some with me but can buy more as needed)
    • Contact lenses and solution
      • include a travel size for carry-on flights
    • eye glasses and hard-sided case
      • copy of eye glass prescription
    • eye glass cleaner (good for camera lens too)
    • Toothpaste, toothbrush and floss
    • deodorant
    • Nail clippers w/ file
    • Disposable razor(s)
    • soap & travel soap dish
    • shampoo and conditioner (mid-size bottles)
    • moisturizer (same for face and body)
    • sunscreen
    • hair elastics, clips, brush/comb
    • feminine products or invest in a Diva Cup
    • Mininal makeup (for those days I want to feel pretty)
        • pressed powder
        • chapstick and a lipgloss
        • tinted moisturizer
        • small mascara
        • neutral eyeshadow
    • Ultra absorbent towel
      • full size
      • hand towel
  • Clothing (to buy closer to departure date)
    • Undies
      • 2 travel undies (quick drying, wicks away moisture, odor repelling)
      • 2 regular undies
    • Socks x 4
      • at least 1 pair Merino wool socks
    • Bra and sports bra
    • Shorts x 2
    • T-shirts x 3
      • 1 by Icebreaker - keeps cool and warm
    • Tank tops x 2
    • Pants x 3
      • 1 pair of yoga pants/leggings
    • Sweater/sweatshirt (Merino wool)
    • PJ's
    • Light jacket - water resistant
    • swimsuit
    • Hiking boots or running shoes (not sure yet)
    • flip flops or Keen's sandals for use in hostel showers and beach
    • Pashmina (in case I'm in a country where head/shoulders need to be covered)
    • Sunglasses
    • Hat with brim or one of those multiuse bandana things (can't remember the name)
  • Electronics
    • iPod or iPod shuffle and charger
    • camera, charger and memory cards (lots)
    • Voltage converter and adaptor
    • Tablet and USB stick - not sure on these yet
    • Cell phone (unlocked and buy SIM cards as needed)
  • Rain/Cold Weather Gear
    • Rain cover for backpack    (my pack came with one!)
    • Long underwear (Merino wool)
    • Rain cover for me
    • winter gloves, hat
  • Miscelleaneous
    • Mosquito netting
    • sleep sheets in silk (keeps out bed bugs)
    • Canada patch(es) for backpack
    • Utility knife
    • Deck of cards
    • Some duct tape
    • Carabineers
    • Luggage lock
    • Small notepad/journal and pen
    • Small sewing kit
    • Small flashlight and batteries
    • Ziploc bags - various sizes
    • Some twine and small bungee cords
    • Water bottle
    • Backpack lock - for the entire backpack
    • Superglue
So that is my list. What's that saying? Ah yes: "Pack twice as much money and half the clothes." I just may need to do that. How I will fit all that in my pack seems daunting. And this will be a lesson in living with less. Exciting though! I will continue to buy my supplies and if anyone is so inclined to point me in the direction fo great sales for these remaining items I would appreciate it. As well I'm open to donations too! seriously. Just kiddin'. But really....