Here are 8 quick travel tips to make it a smooth and enjoyable trip that you'll remember long after you return home.
So you've planned your next trip and chosen a destination that calls to you!
Here are 8 quick travel tips to make it a smooth and enjoyable trip that you'll remember long after you return home.
Often, the best discoveries are those made when you least expect it (certainly not while you're rushing or stressed).
It's such a great feeling to skip a massive line!
Staying hydrated is important, and a reusable bottle avoids plastic waste. Just don't fill it up until you're past security at their airport to avoid delays or them confiscating it!
You'll learn more about local life if you shop and prepare your food rather than always eating out. You'll save some money too!
If you should ever lose your documents, having a copy can speed up replacing them, especially since we tend not to know our card numbers or other info by heart.
In case one pair gives your feet a hard time. Painful feet can be a real nuisance when traveling. Love your feet because they take you places!
If your battery dies and you don't have access to a charger on the go, these inexpensive packs can save you and get you to the end of your day.
Remember that a place is not your personal playground. Respect the locals, nature, architecture, language, culture and any rules of the place you're visiting.
Got a tip to share too? Leave a comment below!
Dive right in:
As you may know from following me here and on Instagram, I traveled to Nova Scotia, Canada for the first time this summer. I loved the experience and felt totally rejuvenated by the fresh air, scrumptious seafood, warm people and breathtaking landscapes. I launched my Nova Scotia collection upon my return and it has already made its way into many of your homes!
If you are planning a trip to Maritime Canada and need some helpful advice on what to see, here are 11 stops I recommend adding to your itinerary.
This one seems rather obvious, but walking the Halifax harbour end-to-end was one of the highlights of my trip. Eating on-site at one of the food shacks (fresh lobster rolls and other casual foods) is quite fun . If you enjoy handcrafted ales, I recommend the Gahan House Harbourfront brewery or the Stubborn Goat Beer Garden where you could sit outside and take in the beautiful view!
The Bay of Fundy coastline from Blomidon to Digby
The hilly drive toward Blomidon Provincial Park offers stunning views which make you feel tiny. At low tide, it all looks even more mystical, and I am fairly sure you will find yourself in awe of the scenery. Driving along the coast to Digby takes about two hours. You can reward yourself with the infamous Digby scallops upon arrival.
Once in a while, you stumble upon a small but significant place that just steals your heart. Halls Harbour is special and quite possibly underrated compared to places such as Peggy's Cove. The windy and rainy weather set the mood for our visit. The more we tried to approach the ocean, stumbling on the rocks and pebbles that filled the shore at low tide, the more we felt like we were on another planet. A quaint fishing village, the harbour is lovely to walk around. Then, you reach the main waterfront restaurant, the Halls Harbour Lobster Pound, where you could choose your own lobster and (unless you get attached to him) take him to the cookhouse.
Vineyards of the Annapolis Valley
If you're a wine lover, you'll LOVE the Annapolis valley. The valley is located between two mountain ranges and one of the first areas to grow and cultivate grapes in North America. You can get a passport booklet called "The Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail" which gives you a list of all the wineries and brewing companies, and allows you to collect stamps to win prizes in return. I loved the service we received at the Planters' Ridge Winery and the gorgeous views at the Luckett Vineyards. On my bucket list for next time: a hot air balloon ride over the valley which ends in a wine-tasting event. Yes, please.
What a lovely family-friendly place to spend a few hours. It's so peaceful to walk the shore and beachcomb during low-tide, visit the local shops filled with art and other mementos, and grab a fresh lunch. For a casual but delicious bite, try What's the Scoop takeout.
Rainbow Haven Beach
Only a ten-minute drive from Fisherman's Cove is Rainbow Haven Beach Provincial Park (Cole Harbour), a long, sandy beach (with some pebbles) with a long boardwalk over sand dunes.
Lawrencetown Beach is about a half-hour away from Fisherman's Cove and Halifax. A surfer's beach with strong waves and currents, it's a beautiful place to take in the dramatic scenery. The beach is composed both of sand and large pebbles.
World-famous Peggy's Cove! And, once you see it, you'll understand why. This place somehow pulls on the heartstrings.
Try to avoid crowds by getting an early start, and take your time walking around the harbour and around the lighthouse. It's worth exploring different vantage points and just feeling like a small dot against a vast ocean. The town has done a great job at putting up signs that explain the history of the place and how the houses have been built. We ate a delicious hot dog from "Peggy's Dogs", an awesome stand run by Claire who also owns an inn in Peggy's Cove.
Mahone Bay and Lunenburg
Mahone Bay was lovely and larger than expected, with wonderful shops (art, home decor, antiques, jewelry) to discover. From there, colorful Lunenburg is only a fifteen-minute drive away. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lunenburg charmed us with its architecture, shop-filled streets, bustling waterfront and, of course, the Bluenose II (a replica of the iconic racing boat you see on our Canadian dime).
The waterfront is a mix of old and new, with modern eateries sharing the space with the Museum of the Atlantic and an old warehouse.
If you love oysters, don't miss out on the mouth-watering food (and wine) at the Half Shell Oyster Bar. The view isn't half bad, either!
Martinique Beach Provincial Park has a vast (5km) white beach. It is the longest sandy beach in Nova Scotia. It tends to be colder and windier there because of its open area, so pack accordingly! It's a lovely place to fly a kite or have a picnic.
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island deserves a post of its own, as there are so many points of interest, especially if you enjoy hiking. You may know there is a whole discussion about whether to drive the Cabot Trail clockwise or counterclockwise. Truthfully, it's not the end of the world if you do it clockwise (even though you'll be on the opposite side of the road from the sweeping views), because there are so many easily accessible lookout points to pull off into along the dramatic coastline.
Personal highlights on the west coast of the Cabot Trail included Inverness, Chéticamp, the Highlands, Cap-Rouge, the Skytrail (hold onto your hat!) and Pleasant Bay. I can't wait to return to explore the East Coast! Cape Breton is a place you'll be making plans to return to before even having left.
Have you been to Nova Scotia? What are some of your favorite places?
Leave a comment, I would love to know!
From my heart to yours.
Kindly credit Veni Etiam Photography if reposting these photographs
A couple of weeks ago, I revealed my new collaboration with the Smitten Italy & Co shop and introduced you to Heather Carlson, a fellow Italophile who became my pal on Instagram. In case you missed it, Heather interviewed me about my love for Italy on her Merry Feast Travels blog.
For the second part of our Smitten Italy series, I interviewed Heather on her love for Italy and her advice to novice Italy-travelers.
"It’s based on our love of Italy and is for everyone who is #smittenwithitaly.
The shop officially launched in early 2017 with a small line of clothing for adults & kids. Now the shop has expanded with tote bags, mugs, art prints & digital art. We are thrilled to be adding our first collaboration with Veni Etiam Photography in 2018."
Heather describes how she fell head over heels with not only "vacation Italy" but also Italy's daily, authentic side that she discovered over time.
"The first time it was all the typically romantic things. The street musicians, the architecture and art. Each time I returned, I learned more and appreciated additional things like the language, the people, the light, the history, and always the food. Food is so different from region to region and also from village to village. It blows my mind
how many wonderful and unique things there are to eat in Italy that many people have never heard of!"
Read Heather's Ultimate Bucket list for Food Lovers
"While living there, I saw a completely different side to Italy - crazy and frustrating yet continuously beautiful. And while I still love “vacation Italy,” living there really enriched my love and passion for the people and the country."
Is there a part of Italy you feel is underrated?
"Definitely Milan. While living there for several years, I really grew to love it. And I always love returning and continue to discover new things each time. It’s an amazing spot to base yourself, just a short train ride away from many wonderful destinations like the Lake district, Parma, Modena, Bologna, the Dolomites, Torino..."
Read Heather's articles about Milan and daytrips to nearby towns
What's a place you'd return to, again and again?
"Rome and Umbria," it seems Heather couldn't pick just one!
"I love them both so much and instantly feel at home whenever I return. I now lead food and wine tours in Umbria with my Italian partner who owns a cooking school and Agriturismo near Assisi. I love helping food-loving travelers plan their own delicious Italy adventures."
What advice would you give to an "Italy beginner" when helping them plan their travels?
Heather offered 3 tips for first-time Italy travelers:
1. Slow Down. Less is more for your daily schedule and in your itinerary. Allow breathing time to really sink into a place and experience it. Don’t dash from one site to another, or one city to another. Try to imagine that you will be coming back and don’t try to pack everything in to one trip.
2. Make Dinner Reservations. Book your first night’s dinner reservations before
arriving. I started doing this early on in my travels and have never regretted it
(especially when traveling with my kids) I love the thrill of the hunt of a good place to
eat, but get very grumpy if there is no plan and everyone is tired and hungry from a
long day of travel. Having a plan before we arrive takes the pressure off, and helps us
enjoy easing into our new location.
3. Eat dinner late with the locals. After your first night, adjust your dining times. Italians eat late compared to what we are used to in America. We struggled with that our first trip to Italy, and learned quickly that if you make a reservation for 7:30 when many restaurants open for dinner, you will be the only person there! What fun is that? To truly experience a bustling trattoria, adjust your time. By showing up at 8:30-9 (or later) you will soon be surrounded by the locals, enjoying your delicious homemade tagliatelle complete with delicious Italian ambiance!
Do YOU have an Italy travel tip to share? Leave a comment below. Heather and I would love to hear from you.
Visit the Smitten Italy shop for lots of fun Italy-related gift items, clothes and of course the Veni Etiam collection of Italy prints!
To learn more from Heather, be sure to follow Merry Feast and Smitten Italy over on Instagram. She's always adding new goodies to the blog and the shop!
From my heart to yours.
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I LOVE to pack. I confess.
It's such a fun feeling to be preparing to leave on a trip. The best part is when all the errands are done, the laundry is done, and the empty suitcase is sitting on the bed next to the packing list while music is blaring.
Like anything else in life, packing skills improve with practice, patience and experience.
Here are 7 packing strategies that I have honed over the years.
1. Invest in a lightweight suitcase
I love hardshell suitcases, but they tend to be heavy even when empty. Softshell suitcases made from lightweight materials not only help keep the weight down, but they are also more malleable and flexible while packing, and there are no parts that could crack in transport.
2. Scrutinize your selection
Have your clothes and accessories audition for you before they make the final cut! This seems like a trivial tip, but even as a seasoned packer, I find this bit of “telling the future” hard to do, especially when I am travelling to multiple destinations with different climates or for different occasions. I usually lay my initial selection out on the bed and then cut dramatically through a careful thought-process.
Think in terms of the contexts in which you’ll use what you’re packing. If you have the mildest doubt, eliminate it. Plan outfits – not one for every day or even twice a day, but think instead in terms of mixable and interchangeable combinations and layers. Plan to handwash just a few items if you won’t have access to laundry facilities (in fact: you could pack a travel clothesline, which is super convenient!) Opt for versatile footwear over multiple pairs.
Cut down heavily on the toiletries; if you end up needing something, chances are you will be able to get it there, or you may be able to live without it! Also, keep toiletries travel-sized even if you are checking your bag in.
3. Maximize your space
Don’t fold your clothes as you would in your closet or drawers – lay them flat or roll them. To avoid creases in cotton or more finicky fabrics, roll the item in tissue paper. Be sure to make use of the corners and in-between spaces of your luggage, as well as spaces in purses, boots or shoes. Items like belts can be snaked around the inside perimeter of your suitcase. Store flat items in the zippered pockets and mesh divider of your suitcase. If you’re travelling with gifts, pre-wrapping them will cause you to lose space. You could slip them in a gift bag once you arrive, or take them in your carry-on. To save space in your luggage, wear bulker items (like a hoodie or jacket) while you travel.
4. Squeeze the air out!
Use Ziploc bags or packing cubes to organize your clothes into batches and compress them as much as possible. This strategy also allows you to keep your clothes clean and dry. It can be annoying to repeat this process every time you take something from your suitcase while travelling, so be sure to thoughtfully group what you will need first, and keep those items near the top of your suitcase.
5. Ward off stains and spills
Pack your liquids in Ziploc bags to prevent leaks. Be sure to carry extra Ziploc bags of various sizes and a garbage bag in case the need arises. Before closing your suitcase, layer the top with a plastic bag or a clean garment bag, to give your stuff an extra layer of protection.
6. Keep all your electronic gadgets in one place
Keep all your gadgets in a Ziploc bag or pouch so that you're not digging around in your suitcase for a charger, adapter, extra SD card or whatever else! I used to stick chargers in the corners and bare spaces of my luggage but stopped doing that because I would never remember which corner I shoved them into. Having everything in one pouch or Ziploc bag is very helpful, but consider keeping it in your carry-on in the (not rare enough) case that the airline loses your luggage.
7. Keep it fresh
Pack a lavender sachet or fabric softener sheets and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how freshly scented your suitcase and its contents will remain during your trip.
8. Don't forget the duct tape
You'll never know when you might need it. I have, more than once, bought a ridiculously pricey roll of duct tape in foreign currencies in order to salvage (most often) a broken suitcase. Duct tape may be a bit bulky, but it's definitely handy. Add it to your packing list!
I hope you find these tips helpful!
Leave a comment and tell me a tip of your own that I missed. I'd love to know!
From my heart to yours.
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There is nothing more thrilling for my restless soul than to discover a new place as often as life will allow it. There were years where I traveled to several new cities each month; admittedly, it's way easier to have that kind of travel rhythm when you live in Europe. There were other years where my scientific schedule allowed me to fly overseas three or four times in a given year. Although I was not escaping my daily life by any means, I became addicted to the feeling of collecting places in my passport, my photos and my life story.
Wanderlust is at once insatiable as it is exhausting. It's also deeply ingrained and quite possibly genetic, or at the very least highly contagious. I have welcomed "quieter years" with open arms, and I have learned to explore my own daily surroundings with the same sense of discovery and joy without the limited wardrobe, Ziploc bags, foreign currency and nauseating waves of jet-lag. But even during quieter times, I try to see at least ONE new place a year. If a conference or friendly visit is on the agenda, I try to combine it with someplace I have not yet been.
In choosing a travel destination, there are 5 types of places I am intrinsically lured to.
1. Port cities
Aside from the fact that Montreal itself is a port city, one of the earliest experiences that shaped my love for port towns was my time in Ancona on Italy's Adriatic coast. I love the raw, rough, busy feel of port cities - that characteristic curve of harbourfront roads, colorful cranes and containers stacked high against the backdrop of water, and the way a port looks from above, with the sea spilling into the urban space and large ships making smaller boats and buildings look tiny in comparison. Aside from Ancona and Venice which have their own special status with me, port cities that hold a key place in my heart are Bari, Barcelona, Lisboa, Corfu, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
2. Rustic old towns
I love old towns. I love their façades -- with beautiful textures, colors and architectural details - their narrow lanes, their broken steps and missing cobblestones, their churchbells, their market days, the sounds of someone sweeping their doorstep or opening their rustic shutters, the sounds of cutlery clinking at dusk. I love the way that residents' voices echo between balconies or rise up from the street to the windows - that same way that tourists' suitcase-wheels disrupt the gentle morning silence. The smaller the town, the more I get turned around, but I have learned to love that too.
3. Riverfront meets urban
Water is my element. If I can't have the sea or the ocean, at the very least I need a river. I remember how down I used to feel when returning home to Florence after a weekend in Liguria - the Arno would definitely not lift my spirits or make me feel any less landlocked. Canals will also do, but only if there are several of them (the 3 canals in my beloved Milan barely get a 'pass'). I especially love it when a river cuts through a city with a strong urban feel, like Chicago, Berlin or London, and the way the architecture and city culture have a dialogue with the water. Rome and Paris have their own unique feel, and I adore both in a way that can't be summarized in these few lines. I also have wonderful memories of Prague, Dresden, Zurich, Verona and Budapest. Cities with a river coursing through also make very nice maps.
4. Fishing villages and coastal towns
I am drawn to coastal towns and tiny fishing villages to such an extent that it is exceedingly difficult to choose which towns to stop in along a coast - if it were up to me, I would spend time in every single one (and never make it back home). Coastal towns are magical - the way they are built in relation to the sea is a wonderful sight. Some towns are a jumble of pastel-colored houses, stacked one atop the other with no visible spaces between them, on a precarious cliff overlooking the vast sea. Others are sprawled flat and low, as though to keep the sea close and allow everyone the same spectacular view. Fishing villages are among my favorite places to stop for lunch, always eager to spend some time among colorful boats, kind locals and the generous offerings of the sea.
5. East meets West
I have a fascination for cities that mark a junction - either historically or geographically - between East and West. I once went on a mission to analyze the eastern influences on the urban fabric of Venice and its architecture. Istanbul is also still at the top of my dream travel destinations, as is Morocco.
What are your favorite kinds of travel destinations - the types of places you gravitate towards? Tell me in a comment, I'd love to know.
This concludes the 7-part Birthday Blog Series. Veni Etiam Photography is celebrating its two-year birthday this month. Don’t miss out on the special PAIRDEAL birthday promotion that ends TODAY! Visit the main shop or my Etsy shop to choose a piece of the world for your home.
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As the year winds to a close, you may have travel plans on the horizon or you are already dreaming up a destination for 2017.
This week, I was giving some travel advice to a friend of mine who never really yearned to travel and has now caught an insatiable travel bug. This unexpectedly led me to reflect on the way I travel and on some of my own favorite tips that developed over the course of my travels. I try to consciously apply these, no matter the trip – near or far, long or short, solo or with others.
Here are 9 travel tips from me to you:
1. Don’t do too much research.
If you’re a planner like me, you’ll want to make the most out of your trip, especially if it’s a big one. While there’s something to be said about reading up on a place, its sights, its history and its culture, procrastinating some of the education until you’re standing on the land does have its benefits. Let yourself be surprised! Your eyes don’t want to take what is in front of them for granted as though you’re standing in a YouTube video or in a Google image.
2. Leave some breathing room.
If you’re planning an itinerary yourself, it’s always difficult to make decisions in advance. How long should you spend in a town? Where do you choose to stop along the way? What excursions do you commit to in advance? It is one of the most annoying and beautiful aspects of planned travel – annoying because each decision made in advance can feel like a shot in the dark, but beautiful because of the opportunity for overturned expectations. Leave yourself enough wiggle room in your itinerary, as you may unexpectedly fall in love with a place or spontaneously stumble upon something you would be sad to leave too soon.
3. Untether yourself from the world you left behind.
Easier said than done, but quite possibly THE game-changer for your peace of mind. If you can’t completely disconnect from email or social media, then make an honest effort to set limits. Check it once a day. Unsubscribe from a whole bunch of “noise” before you go. Disable notifications. Set an auto-responder that buys you some time. Refrain from keeping completely up to date with your news feeds and inboxes. Think about it: do you want all those people on vacation with you? Your mental space is precious – be selective with it!
4. Speak to locals.
Don’t be shy to speak to the people whose country you are a guest in. Make time in your itinerary for conversations and connections. Everyone sees the sights you will see, but chance encounters can make you see things in a new light. Locals are also the best people to ask for recommendations on where to eat. Sometimes, they may even walk you to a bar or a restaurant to make sure that you find it!
5. Tend to your needs.
Know yourself and do what is best for you. When I travel, I make time for seeing and enjoying, but I also know I need to make time for photographing and documenting. I am a slow photographer. I hate the feeling of someone waiting for me while I compose a shot, while I wait for a wave to hit a cliff, an S-bahn to pass, people to clear the scene, or while I shift angles trying to catch a reflection in a puddle or a window. I am also a sentimental writer, which means that for the direct line to flow from my heart to my pen, I often have to be alone. I make sure that my travel companion(s) know that I need some time to tend to these needs, otherwise I’ll feel constrained. Get to know your own style of travel and shamelessly tend to your needs.
6. Venture outside of your comfort zone at least once.
Doing something that you wouldn’t normally do has a strangely exhilarating, confident-boosting effect. You are capable, multi-faceted and alive – don’t deny yourself anything simply to play it safe. Life is too short for that.
7. Be in the moment – let your senses take over.
Mindfulness is a challenge in an era of hyperconnectivity. I would believe it if you told me the Earth has been spinning faster on its axis. Letting go of the rush and being present is a feat – an exercise worth practicing in an unfamiliar environment. Shutting your analytical mind off will let your senses take over. It will also shut down the complaint department, making you quieter and much less tense. Take time to notice things – really, truly notice things. What you see at the market, how the language sounds, how the light is, how the sea feels. When I was little, my Mom used to urge me to “make a memory” – take a picture with my mind.
8. Keep a bullet point journal of observations, anecdotes and feelings.
It can feel like a daunting task to write in a travel journal, to feel like you have to narrate your journey. Even for a writer like me. I actually prefer to write in bullet points most of the time – observations with no particular order, snippets of conversations, words that have a nice ring to them, funny experiences that make good travel anecdotes to tell, names of places and wines to remember. Often, the bullet points become full paragraphs. That’s when I know the pressure is off.
9. Bring something home.
Start your own collection of “imports” from your travels. Make a point to find something beautiful and local to bring home, to remind you of that piece of you that felt so alive and happy there.
Let me know
Which one of these 9 tips resonates with you? Got a tip that’s not mentioned here?
Thanks for stopping by! #OnTheBlog are the stories behind my prints, posts about my travels, glimpses into my daily life, news about my shop, events in the Montreal community and tips on travel, home and photography.
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