7 Tips to make travel more enjoyable

Most of what I write about on this blog has to do with travel. I have always LOVED traveling. In fact I took my first across the world flight (from Canada to South Africa) when I was just 1 (my parents are brave). Traveling is a great way to see the world and learn about different cultures. However, it can also be stressful if you are not prepared. Over my many years of traveling I have picked up a few tips and tricks that can make your experience more enjoyable. 

Do Your Research

Before you travel, it is important to do your research. I know that this can be a daunting task at the time – but it will make the actual travel part so much more enjoyable. What I mean by research is take the time to learn about the culture and customs of your destination. It is also a good idea to research the best time to visit, as well as any potential dangers. By doing your research, you will be able to avoid potential problems and have a more enjoyable trip.

 

Get Travel Insurance

Things happen that are out of our control – especially as the world starts to open up again so another important tip is to get travel insurance. This will protect you in case of any problems while you are away from home. It is a good idea to buy travel insurance that covers medical expenses, lost luggage, and cancellations. By getting travel insurance, you will be able to relax and enjoy your trip, knowing that you are covered in case of any problems.

 

Be Prepared for Jet Lag

One way to make your travels more enjoyable is by being prepared for jet lag. Jet lag can cause fatigue, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. To avoid jet lag, it is important to adjust your sleep schedule before your trip. You should also avoid alcohol and caffeine during your flight. By being prepared for jet lag, you can avoid some of the more unpleasant aspects of travel.

 

Pack Light

During my days as  a professional athlete I lived out of a suitcase and learned a very specific talent of packing light, this has come in very handy traveling today.  This will make it easier to move around and avoid lost luggage. It is also a good idea to pack versatile clothing that can be worn in different weather conditions. By packing light, you will be able to have a more enjoyable trip.

 

Stay Healthy

While it is easy to just sit by the swim up bar your entire trip, I have found it so important to try and stay healthy and in a bit of a routine while traveling.  This means eating healthy food, exercising, and getting enough rest. It is also a good idea to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. By staying healthy, you will be able to enjoy your trip more and not feel so rough when you get home. 

 

Take Care of Your Feet

I will never forget a day in Rome where I spent 10 yours on my feet exploring all the sites. Your feet can take a lot of abuse when you are traveling. To avoid problems, it is important to pack comfortable shoes and socks. If you know that you will have intensive travel where you will walk a lot, consider buying custom foot orthotics to help support your feet. You should also take care of your feet by washing them regularly and keeping them dry. By taking care of your feet, you will be able to avoid problems and have more enjoyable travels.

 

Be Mindful of Your Belongings

When you are traveling, it is important to be mindful of your belongings. This means keeping your passport and money in a safe place. It is also a good idea to make copies of important documents. By being mindful of your belongings, you will be able to avoid problems and have a more enjoyable trip.

These are just a few tips that can help make your travels more enjoyable. By following these tips, you can have a better experience when traveling.

The best (and most authentic) Luau in Maui and why you should book a ticket

When I first went to Hawaii over 10 years ago I remember how entraining it was to experience my first luau. I loved the dancing and drums and all the fire, but when I returned to the beautiful Islands of Hawaii more recently, I wanted to experience more of the cultural side of a lu’au. After searching online and speaking with other locals I learned that the most authentic Hawaiian Lu’au is the Old Lahaina Lu’au and so we booked in to see this traditional hula and dinner experience.

The history of a Luau

To understand why it is important to consider an authentic luau, it is first important to understand the history and cultural significance of the luau. For a long time men and women would eat separately. There were also certain foods women weren’t allowed to eat. All that started to change when King Kamehameha II  took over. They had large celebrations with feasts, hula, and music. These special events were all about food, fun, but most importantly family.

However, the celebration was changed drastically around 1820 when Christianity took over, and in 1830, hula was banned for more than 40 years. King Kalakaua restored hula in 1874, and at this time hula introduced women dancers.

But over the years, unfortunately the true authenticity of hula, and luaus in general changed. Hollywood created their own version of hula, using musical instruments instead of ancient gourds and drums. The dancing became more of a visual presentation instead of its origin – language.

And overtime the actual lu’au’s in Hawaii changed as they welcomed visitors to the show. Many started to combine the Polynesian and Hawaiian culture, promoting fire dancing, and feasts that didn’t even touch on true Hawaiian food. But that is what sets the Old Lahaina Lu’ua apart. It’s goal is to teach visitors about the Hawaiian culture, by creating an authentic atmosphere touching on all the senses. I will share more on that in the experience.

The experience

The setting

One of the main reasons visitors flock to Hawaii each year is the beautiful setting. Mountains located right beside the stunning waters of the Pacific Ocean. The backdrop of the Old Lahaina Lu’ua captures the beauty of Hawaii. When you first arrive you are automatically drawn to the beautiful ocean scene. Along the waterfront there are different local artists showing off their work. Here you will find one of a kind wood carvings and a band playing live music. The seating is set up to form a semi circle around a stage and in the middle of the stage is an authentic Hokule’a, the famous voyager canoes, that would be part of the story we were going to learn tonight.

The performance

What I loved about the show is they really want to teach you. Before anything starts, hula dancers take the stage and show you a few moves. Since the dance really is a language, they also tell you the meaning behind each move. On top of that, they introduce you to some authentic Hawaiian instruments, lots of shows focus on the drums, but this show also created sound with instruments that have been used for hundreds of years, like the ka’eke’eke (hallow bamboo used to create sounds like drums), an ipu, a pu (or conch), and Ili’ili (stones that create a clacking sound). I found it fascinating that so much of the music was created by natural items.

After a brief introduction, the dancing started. Both men and women took the stage in tradition costumes and headdresses dancing to traditional music and through each movement telling a story. It was truly beautiful.

The food

One of the main reasons people come to a Lu’au is for the food right? I mean the history of the Lu’au is celebrating with a giant feast. While over the years a lot of Lu’au’s have become more “americanized”, the Old Lahaina Lu’ua prides itself on serving authentic Hawaiian foods. Yes, they serve pork that has been roasted underground for 18 hours, but they also serve other traditional foods like poi, laulau, lomilomi salmon, and the freshest tuna poke I have ever tasted. Oh and if you aren’t full after your five courses they send you home with a little treat, fresh banana bread (as we found out an island favourite).

The history lesson

While I feel many lu’uas just focus on the show, what I loved about the Old Lahaina Lu’au is that it also focused on the history of the islands and the people that call Hawaii home. We were taken back in time through dance, music, and language, to learn about how these Islands came to be and how the luau was started. Learning about the history helped created a deeper connection to Maui and the beautiful traditions and culture.

If you are visiting Maui and thinking of going to a lu’au, I highly suggest learning more about the Old Lahaina Lu’ua. 

Mahalo as they say,

and happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

15 Photos that will inspire you to hike Bryce Canyon

When I found out that one of my husband’s recent work trips was going to take him to Salt Lake City, Utah I was ecstatic. I have always dreamed of hiking more of the U.S. National Parks as they are all so unique and stunning, and Bryce Canyon had long been on number one on my to do list. 

Bryce Canyon was one place I have always wanted to go because of the stunning hoodoos. Here you will find the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world. 

Since we were going to Salt Lake City for my husband’s work, we flew into that airport and rented a care ( we could only add a weekend onto the trip) and while two days was definitely not enough (since we decided to explore both Bryce Canyon and Zion) it at least allowed us an opportunity to capture the beauty. 

From Salt Lake, you will have to rent a car and it is about a six hour drive. Once you get out of the city it is quite a beautiful drive with plenty of mountain views along the way. 

Since we had such a short time at Bryce Canyon, we did a ton of research to figure out which hike would provide us the most view points (especially of the hoodoos).

We ended up deciding on the Queens Garden to Nevajo Loop Trail because you got to experience two different viewpoints in the 5km loop. On this hike you really got a little bit of everything, impressive views of the unbelievable hoodoos ( they literally took my breathe away when I saw them) to the stunning rock formations, to some of the greenery. One of my favourite pictures was of Thor’s Hamer below. 

I was astounded at the breathtaking views. It honestly felt like we were on a different planet. The contrast of the colours made the rocks look surreal, the rare green plants nestled between the deep ready made the whole park pop with colour. 

The day that we went, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and so the blue also made the red rocks even more vibrant and bright. 

I loved sneaking through the little tunnels formed by the rocks 

I must warn you though, there were a few steep areas to the hike. We did the hike in November and it was the perfect temperature, but I can imagine the valley would get quite hot in the summer making the steeper parts of the hike quite difficult so I would highly suggest a spring or fall hike. 

 

Fun Fact: Bryce Canyon is not a single canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters or bowls, carved into the edge of a high plateau. If you are not into hiking you can still take in the beautiful views from the four main viewpoints, which are all in the first few miles of the park. 

Fun Fact: The rocks are formed by erosion and the hoodoos are formed by frost wedging 

Every year the park gets over 2.7 million visitors and so I would suggest trying to visit in the off season like we  did. It was so peaceful to be surrounded by the beauty of nature and just the two of us to take it all in. 

Aside from hiking, Bryce Canyon also offers rock climbing and in the winter cross country skiing ( and there is something so magical about the pictures I have seen with the snow capped rocks) 

And at last, picture #15, I just had to add another of the beautiful wide shot of the hoodoos down below 

Bryce Canyon exceeded my expectations and I hope I get a chance to go back and explore even more of the park. Have you experienced Bryce? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Also as I mentioned we also explored Zion National Park, and so I will be putting together a photo journal on that one soon as well!

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

What it is like to see a grizzly up close and personal with Adventure Quest

One of the things I love most about BC is the natural beauty and endless wildlife. From the mountains to the ocean you can find whales, seals, elk, black bears, and grizzlies to name a few. While we have some neighbourhood black bears, I have always been a little afraid of grizzlies and never really wanted to get close to them.

That was until my dad (who happens to be a National Geographic photographer) told me about the Grizzly Bear Adventure with Adventure Quest Canada and Homalco Adventure and Wildlife Tours. He described it as a bucket list experience and so I definitely wanted to find out more.

I found out that not only do you get up close and (safely) personal with the bears, you also get to learn about these amazing animals in their natural habitat and learn about the first nation reserve that they live on, and to say the least it is a bucket list experience that I want to share more with you.

 

Getting here

The tour starts in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. I am not going to lie, it is a bit of a treck to get here from Vancouver. You can either fly or take a BC ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and then drive about two hours. I decided to do the later because I always have a great experience with the ferry. It is a  comfortable journey and I can take my car with me so I don’t have to worry about transportation on the other side. Another bonus is they have great food on board, and you never know what you might see. I have spotted whales several times from the ferry deck.

Where to stay

Campbell River is a small town and I absolutely love exploring some of the local spots when visiting a quaint area. I decided to stay at one of the local spots, Painters Lodge. The beautiful lodge is located right on the ocean and I was lucky enough to have a room overlooking the water. The room had a large balcony so I could sit outside with my morning coffee and keep my eye peeled for orcas in the distance (staff told me it is pretty magical when they swim by). I also loved the downstairs restaurant. The food and drinks were delicious, the staff was so friendly, and there were beautiful ocean views. I loved the lodge because it had a very comfortable vibe.

The tour 

The tour started at Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River. The tour starts with a two hour boat ride from the Island to the mainland, Bute Inlet. Along the way we saw two humpbacks eating and another three sleeping. It was pretty neat since I have never seen whales sleeping before. We also spotted some stellar sea lions and seals out for a morning swimming.

 

Once we arrived at Bute Inlet and Hamalco First Nations land we met with our guides Tony and Koji from the Homalco First Nations. They greeted us with a traditional welcome and went over some safety tips. Then we were off on our adventure.

There were several different viewing towers that wrapped around two different rivers. The reason this is such a popular spot for the grizzlies is because of the annual salmon run and a lot of the bears are trying to eat as much salmon as possible before they go into hibernation in November.

It didn’t take long for us to spot our first bear. At the first tower we stopped at we came across a big male relaxing in the distance. I was already in awe of these amazing animals.

After driving around for a little longer we came across another fully grown female sleeping by a tree. She was honestly no more than 20 meters from us. She sniffed around (smell is their best sense) and once she realized we were no threat, she continued with her nap. It was amazing to see that the bears weren’t the killers a lot of people make them out to be, and while they are more aggressive than black bears, they will only really attack if they feel threatened.

At the next viewing tower we didn’t come across any bears but we did get to see the bears favourite lunch meal, salmon. Just below our viewing deck were about 10 giant salmon swimming upstream getting ready to spawn. I have honestly never seen such large fish in my life.

Our last stop of the day was the most spectacular. We weren’t in a tower but out in the open and the only thing separating us from the grizzlies was the river. First we saw a female bear eating a salmon. Moments later, she went back into the water and we had a chance to watch her fish for a salmon and take it back to the shore for lunch. You could hear the crunch sounds of the bear chowing down on the fish. It was incredible.

Moments later we noticed another bear heading over, closely followed by an adorable nine month old cub. I couldn’t believe how adorable the fluffy baby was and it was amazing to see how protective the mother was of her cub. She crossed the river to check us out and got really close before going back to her cub and trying to find food for the both of them. I still cannot believe the beauty of the bears and seeing them in their natural habitat was so special.

After two hours with the bears, it was time to head back to the boat and make our way back to Campbell River. Along the way we were lucky enough to be treated to a show from a lone male orca. He breached twice and was doing some flips along the water. I have never seen an orca act like that before.

Alas it was time for the tour to come to an end but I still cannot get over how lucky we were. From spotting humpbacks, to orcas, and then having a chance to get so close to he bears and learning more about them and their habitat was a really amazing and unforgettable experience. You can find out more about the tour and experience here.

I also wanted to share some more pictures with you. All of them were shot on my new Nikon Z.

Happy exploring my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

5 ways to make travel planning less stressful

Photo by Fezbot2000 on Unsplash

Do you also experience those pre-travel nerves? No matter how much time we've left to
prepare for our holiday or trip abroad, all of us at some point fall victim to the angst that
surrounds the trip. Luckily for you, we’ve come up with 5 helpful tips to make your travel planning less stressful.

1. Write a list

The last thing we want when on holiday or travelling abroad is the realization  that we have
forgotten that all-too-important item we can’t be without. Be it our phone charger, adaptor or
favourite pair of sunglasses – we will no doubt kick ourselves on discovering we haven’t
packed them. For that reason, we swear by writing lists. List each item you want to take with
you and simply tick it off once packed. You can even add items to the list at a later date and
refer back to it so that nothing is forgotten, giving you that added reassurance.

2. Plan ahead 

We all have those special items we want to take on holiday, whether it be an item of clothing,
camera, or book. Prepping these things can often take time and therefore require planning
ahead. This might mean washing clothes in advance so that they are fresh to wear or charging a camera so that the battery will last for the first few days of your trip. Whatever it is, make a note of it on your list so you won’t forget it.

3. Have an itinerary 

For many of us, one of the biggest parts of going away is the anticipation that precedes the
trip. More often than not we have places and activities in mind that we want to see and do,
so making an itinerary is never a bad idea, even if it serves as a reminder of that
recommended restaurant or route to that hidden beach. Whatever it is, making a note of top
tips and planning your days can be a helpful tool and will ensure you make the most of your
time.

4. Travel documents 

Never, ever forget those trusty travel documents. The last thing you want to do is arrive at
your destination ready to hire a car or need an emergency trip to the hospital and not have
your travel insurance or driver’s licence. These small (and often paperless!)
but vital documents are the difference between making or breaking your time away, so always
double-check or even triple-check you’ve got these in a safe place.

5. Be on time 

One of the biggest bug-bears and panic-inducers amongst us travellers is the fear of being
late. Avoid that worry by making sure you plan ahead of schedule at all times. Always give
yourself a 90-minute leeway to get to the airport on time, get your luggage checked in and
have enough time for a toilet break, a snack and time to relax before boarding your flight.
As pre-travel stress is more often than not down to a lack of planning and organization, we
reckon if you can nail these five handy tips, you’ll be enjoying stress-free travel planning
hereafter.

Happy traveling my friends!

xo

This is a contributed post written by Dale White