Journaling: Why bother?

So in every place I’ve traveled to in the past two years I’ve chosen to keep a journal. It is one of the greatest decisions I have ever made, and will continue to make as I continue to go abroad. Keeping a journal is fantastic in such a variety of ways. Personally, I like to use mine as a journal/planner. Thus when I go through it later on it’s kinda cool to see how my plans changed as I met people, experienced things, or encountered hardships. It’s also a really easy way of having all your notes/thoughts in one place and can refer back to them easily when necessary.

Keeping  a journal is also useful because five weeks, eight months, two years, down the road when someone asks you what that mountain you climbed, or that river you saw that one day you were in that one amazing country. You want to be able to tell them exactly how amazing it was, and how you got there, and how they should definitely not get there like that, but instead do it this much better way. And you’ll be able to tell them all this because you’ll have had it all written down in that little journal of yours.

Rereading my stories have made me laugh time and time and again, and looking back it’s also helped me see how I’ve changed so much. A wise friend once told me:  before you go on a journey write down your predictions on the first page. Predictions of what you think you’ll be good at, what you think you’ll suck at, things that will make you sad or happy, things you think you’ll love or hate, what you’re nervous, excited, apprehensive about… write all of it down, and at the very end of your trip reread it and see how you wrong you were. Humans are notoriously bad at making predictions. Therefore, by having made these concrete guesses at the beginning of your trip you will be able to see, almost in what will be a quantitative way in the ways travel has changed you later on. And being able to see how much you’ve grown and completely changed as a person, while somehow still being the same individual that left that first day is a crazy concept. One, which I like to document in a little book that has seen many scribbles in airports, buses, random cafes, and sandy beaches.

Paula Xx

Wanaka.

Wanaka, New Zealand.

That city will always hold a special place in my heart for indescribable reasons. It’s one of the places you go, never expecting anything from and you unexpectedly fall in love with its character and the people you meet there. If you’re ever in Wanaka take a stroll around for me.

Also, take a dip in the lake and swim to the dock in the middle of the night. It’ll be chilly but it’ll be worth it. The star gazing is unbelievable.

On another less cheesy note, there’s a number of hikes near there. We did the one leading to Rob Roy glacier which isn’t as popular as some other ones. However, we got to witness one of the most epic landscapes I have ever had the pleasure of taking in.  We were lucky enough to even witness an avalanche occur from our (very safe) spot at the base of the mountain.  Such an epic site.

Originally we’d only planned on staying one day here, but because we were essentially taking our travel plans day by day we were able to stay an extra night in this wonderful town.

Travel tip: Booking hostels daily is great for flexibility, just make sure you do it as soon as you know your plans otherwise you might get stuck without a hostel, or one a few km out of town!

Ps. Check out my travel video I made while road tripping around New Zealand

Paula Xx

Melbourne, AUS

So where else to begin, but of course Melbourne, Australia. My Home for a big part of 2016 and a place that will always hold a special place in my heart. So for those of you living under a rock and don’t know where good ol’ Melbs is on a map, it’s in the very most south eastern point of Aus. However, do not be fooled.

“Come to Australia” they said, “it’ll be hot” they said.

So many lies. I arrived on beautiful sunny day on July 11th 2016. The following four months were spent trying to layer the small amount of winter clothes with the abundant amount of summer clothes that I’d been expecting to be wearing a month in, and keeping my heater on at all times in my cement-walled dorm room, in an effort to keep my very cold blooded body warm. Nonetheless, I took every opportunity I could when it came to exploring as much of the city as I could, and wouldn’t change my experience for the world.

When I think of Melbourne I think of its incredible culture, its phenomenal coffee, and its crazy weather. The city’s full of cool graffiti lining allies and laneways, led of course by Hosier Lane the internationally renowned site. The architecture there is unlike elsewhere in the world, with lots of old European style buildings standing right beside very new modern – and to say the least, unique – architecture.  If you walk along the city you will also find loads of cute little cafes, where locals order ‘long blacks’ and ‘short whites’. Which if you’re foreign may cause some confusion at first. Especially if you’re a Canadian trying to get a double double

. Last but not least, oh man… the weather. Leaving Vancouver I thought I knew what unpredictable weather looked like, but it is NOTHING compared to what you might see on a typical day in Melbourne. To give you an idea, during one particularly unpredictable day it once was sunny, then cloudy, then sunny, then it hailed, back to sun and clouds, where it then rained, and finished off the day with some light clouds. Also, let’s talk about the wind. The kind which I was under the impression was an anomaly upon arrival but quickly realized was just the reg. By the way, don’t bother buying an umbrella there because it does not rain down. It rains sideways.

The most important part of this dynamic city of course, is the people. Travelling on my own I never felt anything but welcomed by the locals. I had the pleasure of meeting a number of people from the Melbourne area and in my classes I got to know a lot of these brilliant individuals. Overall, I felt the city’s vibe to be very similar to Vancouver’s in people’s hospitality helping me feel right at home. In fact, I’d say a part of my heart will always reside in this vibrate city.

I’ll be back Melbs,

Paula Xx

Special places

Hi friends,

As promised by my blog title, not only will I be writing about different experiences and travel tips I’ve learnt while abroad, I will also be talking about some of the places I’ve visited. The places I will spotlight will not necessarily be the big attractions everyone talks about, but the places that hit home for me. Usually because when I think of these cities or areas, a smile creeps onto my face as I reminisce about memories made, and people met, and the adventures had. Often without the slightest clue upon arrival to these areas what it would mean to me weeks later. Because that’s the thing about the best moments of your life, you don’t realize how special they are to you until later when you look back and laugh at the ridiculousness of whatever moment you were living at the time.

Any who, stay tuned for some random anecdotes from some rad cities I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.

Paula Xx

Solo travel

Last year I got the opportunity to do a semester abroad in another country. During the trip I did a fair bit of solo travel as result of travelling there on my own. In my 6 months away, I did a semester in Melbourne, Australia where I met some incredible people and made life-long friends, two weeks in New Zealand road tripping around South Island, one week in Indonesia exploring the beautiful islands the country has to offer, and one month travelling down the east coast of Australia where I went on my own and had the time of my life.

Before travelling to Australia on my own, the longest I’d been away from my family travelling by myself had been for 2 weeks in a group excursion to Guatemala the year before. Leaving Canada, all I could feel was this really exciting, yet scary feeling of the uncertainty of what I was getting myself into! Going in I never imagined I’d be able to backpack on my own, let alone doing it freehand without booking things in advance and taking everything that came at me in strides.

However looking back, the month of solo travel I did along the coast of eastern Australia has probably been one of the greatest months of my life. And no I didn’t ‘find myself’ while away, but I did learn a lot about myself and my abilities along my journey. I also met some of the coolest individuals from all over the world, and made some unforgettable moments with them. Which honestly, would likely not have happened had I not been on my own.

The best and worst thing about solo travel is that you make every decision for your whole journey. There’s no one there to argue otherwise. So whether you’re feeling energetic that day and decide to get up at 6am to catch the ferry to another island, or decide to sleep in and lay in the beach all morning, ultimately it’s whatever you decide to do.

Going into this trip, I was worried about spending a lot of time on my own, and I know a lot of other people were very curious about this as well asking me about it once I was back. I get a lot of questions asking if I felt lonely going by myself. And the answer is no. Not at all. Along the 4 weeks I spent on solo travel, I only spent 2 evenings on my own, and those were because I chose to. I spent my days in a steady rhythm of alternating between being on my own or surrounded with people I could now call my friends. Doing the study abroad on my own, only let me immerse myself further in the Aussie way of life where I had ‘no worries, mate’, and had daily adventures with my international group of friends.

Ultimately, solo travel is something I couldn’t recommend enough to everyone. If you can, get some backpacking experience travelling with friends first, and then go on your own. But not having travel buddies is not something you should let hold you back if you have a desire to be elsewhere. When you travel you decide how you want your trip to be, and it’s just a matter of being open to new people and adventures.

Paula Xx

Introductions

Hello universe,

So in an effort to keep myself immersed in the travel world (while I eagerly plan my next trip here at home), I thought I might start a little blog to share some wisdom that I’ve learned while travelling on and off over the past few years, and to see what others might recommend for my next crazy adventures. While here I’ll also share some pictures, and the stories and events that surrounded those laid back days off my life. (Although as I sit here writing this – in what feels like the first sunny day Vancouver’s had in months – home feels very good right now.)

More to come

Paula Xx