Monday, 26 August 2013

Surviving the Wait

That may sound like a ridiculous title since I have been waiting to see my life's goal materialize for years and years. I will be waiting (and working towards it) some more too. Good thing is that I know it will happen soon enough. Still, the wait can appear soooo long. That is why I like small "mini-trips" (I would call them weekend getaways but this one is during the week). A few days here or there seems to break up the seemingly long days of saving, planning and waiting. A small high on this journey. 

As of RIGHT NOW I am on transit heading to one of my best friend's home where five of us will pile into a car, cruise to the BC Ferries terminal and board a ferry to cross the Straight of Georgia. We will alight on Vancouver Island to continue on a scenic drive to Tofino!!! Tofino is Vancouver Island's gem. Although  a surfing mecca it offers visitors so much more: beaches, nature, relaxation and occasionally incredible thunder storms. It is my first visit there. I have yet to hear a negative comment about Tofino. 

I am so very excited for this getaway. A chance to wander through new-to-me spaces and celebrate a dear friend's birthday (all without breaking the bank) is the perfect remedy to break up the monotony of the wait. 

Sunday, 25 August 2013


The Caribbean Sea is peppered with lush green islands beckoning you to step foot on their pristine beaches and feel the water lapping your toes. So many to choose from! How about Saint Lucia? One of the Lesser Antilles islands of the Caribbean, this gem is recognized by its famous Pitons mountains.

Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa, Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia offers crisp beaches, lush mountain hikes, fun water adventures, stunning views and food that will set your taste buds dancing. A Caribbean getaway dream.

Photo Credit: Caribbean Travel

Monday, 19 August 2013

On Aging

Today is one month until my birthday. Yeah I know, I am a bit overzealous but I love my birthday. And when I say I love my birthday, I mean I LOVE my birthday. Planning events, hearing well wishes, fun festivities and the occasional gift is enough to make a girl giddy. And the attention. I relish the attention. The one day of the year I can claim as my own (despite the fact that I share that day with several people I know, including my oldest friend and her twin brother). According to my mom, even as a kid I looked forward to my day.  Yes, I LOVE MY BIRTHDAY. 

Many of you are the opposite - you dread your birthday and the idea of becoming yet another year older. That very idea boggles my mind. I do not understand it. A few times in my history I have dreaded a milestone birthday. Soon, however I realized it was for naught. For starters it does not change a thing. You can not get younger so why stress over it. Go have fun and celebrate yourself! I do so unabashedly - actually I tame it in sometimes because if I really showed how excited I was those around me would think I was nuts. Secondly, somewhere we started believing that all the great stuff happens when we are young. HA! Sure you have some great stuff happen when young but not everything. Many of the goals and desires we crave take time to come to fruition. Others, the joy is in the journey. Career advancement, paying off your mortgage, building your marriage, seeing children, grandchildren grow are things many desire and they are the journey. Why lament your youth when many wonders are in your future?  You could not pay me enough money to go back to my early - mid 20s, let alone my teen years. It was not until my late 20s that I started to come into my own. Before that things were a mess for me. No going back. Finally, the older you grow the more you learn, the more you experience. An interesting thing happens as you age - you begin to see. You learn what really matters. No, things do not become easy and without concern but you know yourself more and can see what is truly important. I can not really explain it but your mindset changes. It understand perhaps. I personally am intrigued as to what my future holds. I do know that big RTW trip is around the corner. After that? Who knows but just imagine the experiences I will have when I am old and gray, to have seen much and done so much more. A future worth looking forward to. 

On a side note, I do wish for my former young size 6 physique I once had...but that is it.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


Nature is the greatest beauty. In Ethiopia, 225 km from the capital Addis Ababa, is the Blue Nile Falls (a.k.a. Tisisat Falls), a stunning waterfall comprised of four streams when it is in full force.  Feeding into Blue Nile River, Africa's longest river, the falls can be reached easily from the closest town, Bahir Dar.

Blue Nile Falls, Ethiopia

Best time to see the falls in the rainy season when there is more water. Keep in mind that the hydro dam also contributes to the flow (or lack of). Still, the reviews I have read say the trek is doable and worth it despite the water flow.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, owned by Peter Jeschofnig

Sunday, 11 August 2013


It has been said things happen in three's...that is how today's special spot was chosen. On my sister's recent visit she mentioned that next year she will be visiting Drumheller, AB (Canada) to see the Alberta Badlands. Shortly thereafter we watched an episode of The Amazing Race Canada where the teams were in that exact place. Finally, while scoping out Facebook I saw pictures from a friend's trip to see the hoodoos found across the Badlands.

The Hoodoos of Alberta's Badlands

Badlands are basically eroded (soft) rocks and clay leaving incredible hoodoos, canyons and crevasses. Alberta's badlands cover an expanse of over 90,000 square km and is riddled with fossils. From trails to dinosaurs to stunning hoodoos, the Alberta Badlands are a sight to see.

Photo credit: Grant Black, Calgary Herald

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


Canadian $2 Coin
In my efforts to save money I have come to realize something: I like to see money grow in various ways. For me, it is not entirely about just putting money aside in the bank. That is the biggest part, budgeting and planning being the stronghold of that area. However, there is a flip side to the coin, so to speak, in that I like to see what I can do in small ways. The Cold Hard Cash has been proving itself well. I have purchased two major items on my RTW Packing List and am saving for some other needs. I have tangible results. Those results spur me onward. 

Onward with the jingle of toonies. For those of you not familiar with the Canadian monetary system "toonie" is a nickname for the $2 coin. To explain this I will give you some history. In 1987 The Royal Canadian Mint and the Canadian Government introduced into circulation the $1 coin, which would replace the $1 bill. These gold coloured coins were minted on the reverse with the image of the loon, a prevalent bird in Canada. As a result, the name "Loonie" came to mean a $1 coin. In 1996 the $2 coin was introduced and the nickname "Toonie" (or "Twoonie") fell into place. And yes, it is part of the Canadian-English vernacular. That is where my Toonie Trust comes in to play. 

Not long ago, I was making a small purchase and paid for it, in its entirety, with toonies. The cost was approximately $8 yet I handed over $10 worth of the coins and received my change. That made me realize how much toonies are used AND how easily they add up. Adding up so easily that I could have a jar of change worth more than the quickly forgotten penny (which is no longer used in Canada). My TOONIE TRUST has begun. Since I try to pay for many purchases with cash I can use toonies to my advantage. When I am given toonies as change I will attempt to not use them throughout the day. I will not make a point of using them and at the end of the day I will transfer them to a jar to watch the sum grow. As it grows I will deposit them into my RTW account and see my balance rise. I know some may see this a silly way to save but for me, money not seen is money saved. A toonie here and a toonie there does add up. Five toonies equals ten dollars and twenty-five equals fifty. That is $50 in my bank account and can be one day on the road (as proposed by Matt Kepnes in How to Travel the World on $50 a Day). You do the math. 

Here's to the small steps resulting in big ones!

Photo credit: Wikipedia (Photo owned by The Royal Canadian Mint)

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Need to Know - Accommodation

You've received your passport and have considered how you are going to get to where you are going. Now you ask yourself "Where am I staying?". Unless you have family or friends with a comfy room and warm bed for you, the default answer tends to be "a hotel".  Nothing wrong with hotels, actually I quite like them, however they are not the only choice.  There is something for just about everyone and every budget. I have listed these alphabetically.

Apartment/Condo Rentals: The comforts of home while you are away is a great way to relax and often save money. Since they come with the amenities of home (stocked kitchen, furnishings, and perhaps even WiFi) apartment rentals (also called Vacation Rentals) are becoming a popular way to stay around the world. Safe and secure sites like AirBnb and Wimdu have thousands upon thousands of listing and safe and secure setups so you know what you are getting. These apartments are owned by individuals who rent them out to travelers via the rental service. Rates per night fall into a large range, depending on location and size.

Camping: Often people go camping as a holiday or vacation in and of itself. However, it is also one way to stay somewhere that is popular, especially if you are on a road trip. Many countries allow for camping for a small fee at national and provincial parks. Often you have to book these spots in advance and they do offer amenities like showers and toilets nearby. Other places (and it is more common than you would think) allow you to pitch your tent for free, however you will more than likely be without a shower and have to use nature when it calls. Canada has numerous areas like this. You just have to provide your own tents and sleeping gear.

Motels: Motels often get bad raps. They are associated with the lower end of the accommodation scale, only one up from hostels. Think dark, dank rooms with old stained wallpaper that is peeling from the corners to bathrooms with stains and unreliable plumbing. Throw in a lumpy mattress and you have motel hell.  Truth is that motels these days are not so bad. They are cleaner, more modern (in some cases) and easily located on major roads and highways. Some even come with minor kitchen supplies like a refrigerator, sink, microwave and coffee maker.  Throw in a pool and you are all set. The great thing about motels is that you do not necessarily need an advance reservation. Prices will vary and do note that in some popular tourist areas the price may be inflated. When I stayed in Penticton, BC motel the cost was equal to a moderate hotel. 

Home Exchanges: Did you see the 2006  movie "The Holiday"?  In the film Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz swap homes via a home exchange service as the backdrop and then the story ensues. Using a home exchange service allows you the comforts of home and possibly a great neighbourhood to stay in and get to know an area like a local. There are numerous sites out there so do your homework and find out all the details. A popular one is Home Exchange.

Hospitality Stays: These are organizations made up of members (you must sign up to take advantage of them) that offer travelers a place to stay for free either in a spare bed, couch or the floor. It is a fabulous way to save money and get to know the locals in the area you are visiting. Now many think that this is unsafe as you do not know who you are staying with or who will be staying with you if you host. That is why membership is mandatory and completing your profile is recommended. Members leave references for other members that remain on your profile. These give an indication of what type of experience was had by both and the type of host and guest they are. Often these hospitality exchange also have active memberships in larger area where social events are organized such as hikes, city tours, potlucks, beaches days etc. I myself am a member of the largest of these organizations, Couchsurfing. Others include The Hospitality Club, Be Welcome and Global Freeloaders. A slight variation on the hospitality stays is Staydu, where you can stay with someone for free or in exchange for help or just plain money.

Hostels: As I mentioned under motels, hostels have received a bad rap. Many view them as the seedy places that rough and dirty backpackers stay and party. I am here to tell you that is not true. While it is possible to still find less than clean hostels or have a bad experience with a drunken dorm mate that does not mean they are all bad or that that is even the norm. Hostels these days are usually clean, safe yet modest. I have stayed in a number of hostels and will stay in them in the future. Even though most hostels rooms are dormitory style most of them also offer private rooms. You will find you have a locker to store your stuff and clean sheets are provided. Showers and toilets are usually in its own room in your dorm. Many hostels also provide kitchens, laundry service and provide tours and information. Since most hostels are part of a larger network you can find them in most every city and town around the world. The two largest networks are Hostelling International and Hostel World. The other bonus that comes with hostels it the incredible opportunities to make new friends!

Hotels and Resorts: Ah, the most familiar lodging available to travelers. This what comes to mind when most think of accommodations when away from home. Often conveniently located with room selections for everyone. Hotels come in varying styles and price points. It can be a headache to try to choose. That is why you need to know what you want from a hotel. Family friendly? Business oriented? Relaxing? Or simply a place to lay your head in comfort? Answering those questions along with your budget and location needs will help narrow down your search. Additionally, booking sites and online travel agencies can make the choice easier. If you are going on a package vacation there is usually a choice of resorts to choose from as well. and Expedia are two ways to make hotels choices around the world. Reservations are usually required and a major credit card is needed upon check-in. Price points will vary. Hotels are usually moderate to expensive. Though, sometimes a good deal can be found. Also be careful if rooms rates are offered per person or per room. It's all in the details.

House-sitting: Care to do a bit of work in exchange for staying in someone's home? Perhaps house-sitting is for you. With sites like House Carers and Mind My House you can learn how it's done and what is expected. Many places will ask you to watch their pets and gardens and collect the mail. In return you get to stay in their home and get to know the area. - Sounds like a win - win situation to me.

So there you have it. Some great options for lodging. We are all different so it's natural that we have different choices in how we travel and where we stay. I hope this has helped some of you!

Clipart credit here.

Disclaimer: The information provided on "Eeva's Wanderings" is meant only as tips and suggestions. I, the author, am not responsible for any harm, injury, lost of life or property or any other misfortune that may occur should anyone act on or re-use the information or their interpretation of the information provided. I will try to provide up-to-date information but I am not responsible for any information that is out of date or incorrect. All opinions are my own and in no way are meant to mislead, defame, harm, humiliate or injure anyone.


The world's tallest free standing mountain is found in the east African country of Tanzania. There  Mount Kilimanjaro rises to astonishing 5895m (19,341ft) at it highest peak. A dormant volcano made up of three peaks (Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira), this mountain beckons for visitors to make passage to her apex. Despite her sheer size Mt Kilimanjaro is one of the world's more accessible mountains with its numerous trails in Mt Kilimanjaro National Park

Kilimanjaro, last snow!!!

Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest peak in Africa. It is found in Tanzania but is clearly viewed from Kenya as well.

Photo credit: Flickr - Nicola Matthews (citrineblue)