Environmentally Friendly Travel

Leaving behind footprints is okay as long as they aren't made of carbon.

There are sooooo many things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is made up of your habits and activities – energy usage, waste we leave behind & what and how we eat! Here’s some tips for every day life as well as during your travels:

  • Bring a reusable water bottle!! First of all, you save money by not having to buy jugs or bottles of water all of the time + it’s SO much better for the environment. Try out a Que bottle - perfect for travelling & every day use.

  • Pack light! The more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. Plus, your body will thank you or not having to lug around a ton of extra weight. Try to avoid checked baggage. You can often fit everything you need into a personal item bag & carry on bag. When I travel, I use a Mountaintop backpack which fits everything I need in it & is super comfy for me to carry around.

  • If you need to use transportation, public transportation is the best way to go. BUT!! When you’re able to, biking or walking is always the best option! It’s also the best way to see the place you are visiting.

  • Eat local produce and food. This reduces the rates of food being shipped in from elsewhere. It also helps support locals which allows them to keep doing what they do. If you’re going to drink, drink local products! Drink the beer that's made locally or nearby.  

  • Keep your showers short and only do laundry when necessary. Do this always, at home & while you are away. Money-saver + earth-saver.

  • Be mindful of the earth you are visiting. Stay on pathways to avoid damaging plant-life - much of it is protected or endangered. Leave things where they belong! Don’t tamper too much with the land you are visiting by taking something as a souvenir.

  • Choose airlines with higher occupancy and more efficient aircrafts.

  • Reusable bags. Bring them everywhere. Use them always. Try out BeeGreen’s set of 5 reusable bags that fold up into tiny pouches, so that they are easy to pack.

  • Unplug before you leave! If your house will be unoccupied while you are gone, unplug all of your electronics, appliances, lamps, etc. Even when they aren't on, they are using energy! It’ll also save you money!!

  • The only thing you should be leaving behind is your footprints. It’s always better to leave a place in better condition than you found it. If there is garbage laying around, pick it up & make sure you aren’t one of those people who left it there in the first place.

  • Take non-stop flights as often as you can. The takeoff and landing is the most damaging part of the flight as it consumes the most amount of fuel.

  • Choose to fly economy! Flying economy means that each passenger’s % of carbon emissions is much less because it is spread out over more people. There may be less room for you and your legs, but there is more room for more people.

There are so many things we can do to help reverse the damage done to the earth, and revive its healthy state; these are just the basics. Do the best you can! If we want to keep seeing this earth and exploring its beauty, we need to take care of it.

Stay mindful, stay grateful & enjoy your travels.

-K

My Next Trip

This coming fall is the first fall since I was 3 years old that I am not going back to school. Halleluuuuuujah. I truly never felt as though this day would come, but here I am and it feels wonderful & weird. You know when you look out at the ocean or lake and the colour of the water blends into the colour of the sky and you can’t tell where one ends and the next begins & it just feels like a never-ending space? That’s kinda how it feels to be done school. Open. As a way of celebrating, I am saving up to hopefully go away to Europe in the fall. Saving money is HARD when everything in life is so expensive, but we’ll see how it goes. (My backup plan is to go next spring).

I’ve been to France, Spain and Italy, so my goal is to hit a bunch of my other bucket list destinations. This is where I plan on going:

·      London, England

·      Amsterdam, Netherlands (*Side note: in grade 6 we were all given a country that we had to research and then create a presentation on and I got the Netherlands and I’ve wanted to go ever since. I brought in a cheese platter. It was a hit).

·      Berlin, Germany

·      Prague, Czech Republic (beyond excited for this one!!)

·      Vienna, Austria

·      Budapest, Hungary

·      Zagreb, Croatia

·      Basel, Switzerland

 I will be passing through other places along the way (France, Belgium, etc.), but these are the cities I will be staying in.

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I’m planning on doing this trip solo which is exciting because I’ve never done that before. Something super intriguing to me about travelling is meeting new people but only having them in your life for a short period of time. They can be so impactful and you’ll create extraordinary memories with them but then (usually) never see them again. Some of our fondest memories may be of people who we knew for a few days or a week. I think that’s part of why people fall so in love with travel. It’s a blank slate. I think it will be a good way to start off my post-school life.

I’ve been looking into doing a Contiki tour for part of this trip so that even though I am going solo, I will not be alone for the whole thing. I’ve heard amazing things about Contiki tours. They have hundreds of different tour options across the world, so there’s almost definitely a suitable one for everyone. Contiki has three different types of trips: In-Depth Explorer, Iconic Essentials & Discoverer. Each type of tour caters to a different crowd, different budget, and different experience. The one I’m looking into is an Iconic Essentials trip and it covers my trip from London to Vienna & then I would be on my own for Budapest, Zagreb & Basel. Iconic Essentials means that you cover the most ground in a tighter time frame & on a smaller budget. These trips are perfect for people that want to see a lot of different places and experience the highlights of each place, without completely breaking bank.

Until my trip, I will be doing lots of research on the places I’m going, so that I can make the most out of my time there. If anyone has any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

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Tips on Saving Money for a Trip

The main aspect of saving money is prioritizing. Since pretty much everything is expensive, you’re going to have to decide what is really worth spending the money on, and what you can pass up on. When I’m saving for a trip, I make sure I’m still having fun and doing the things I love – hanging out with friends, making art, concerts here and there, etc. But I cut down or completely cut out on eating out, shopping for material items, and other things that are wants instead of needs. There’s a difference between wants like hanging out with friends, creating, going to concerts, etc. and going out for dinner a few nights a week and buying new clothes and what not. The difference is simple. The first set impacts us long-term and adds to our character, our happiness and helps us create long-lasting memories. The latter are things that impact us short-term. Eating out, shopping, etc. when it is unnecessary, are things that may make us feel good in the moment or for a short period of time, but overall will not leave a big impact on our lives. Figuring out which aspects and things in your life will create long-term vs. short-term impacts, will help you decide what you can cut out for a while in order to save some money.

If you have steady income, you can also set aside a certain percentage of each paycheque to go towards your trip. If you think you’ll have a hard time sticking to this on your own, you can go into your bank and they can help you set it up so that a percentage of each cheque goes straight into your savings.

You can also save for trips by looking into what types of debit/credit cards your bank offers that help you earn points towards travel. I currently have the TD Platinum Travel Visa Card & it helps me earn points towards travel and also gives me discounts when booking through Expedia for TD.

There are so many options to help you save for a trip, the main trick is just setting your mind to it.  

Magazine Page from National Geographic

Magazine Page from National Geographic

The time to travel is now.

-K

When in Rome...

Italy was a place I had dreamed of going since I was a little kid, and let me tell you… It definitely lived up to my expectation. I am without a doubt going back one day to do a trip through the whole country. But for now, let’s begin with Rome.

First of all, the feeling of Rome was just different than everywhere else I had been. The air felt different and the colours looked different, and I honestly felt like I was in a dream. Pastel colours filled every space from the stones on the ground, to the buildings around me, to the sky up above. Golden hour seemed to last for half the day, as the sun sparkled off of statues and windows. The sky, the air, everything was clear.

Places to See

There is so much to cover, let’s get to it.

Colosseum

Big. Broken. Beautiful. The Colosseum is one of Rome’s big landmarks and most well-known attractions. If you want to go inside, I recommend booking a tour as this will grant you fast track entry and your tour guide will be able to fill you with information and history you otherwise would not obtain. Take your time to walk around the structure and to visit its different levels.

Vatican City

While technically it’s own country, it is surrounded by Rome, and definitely worth checking out. Beautiful buildings, flowing fountains, museums to explore & if you’re lucky you may get a visit from the Pope while you’re there.

Ancient Rome – Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is surrounded by the ruins of ancient government buildings, right in the city centre of Rome. You can book packages to visit both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum together, and the experience and information you get is definitely worth your penny. You’ll see some of the most beautiful and intricate architecture here in the Roman Forum, and get to experience what was once the most important area in Rome.

Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world. It has been featured in many films, but most importantly, the Lizzie McGuire Movie. Legend has it that if you stand with your back to the fountain and throw a coin over your left shoulder, it will guarantee that you’ll return to the Eternal City – Rome.

 

Pantheon

Once a Roman temple & now a church, the Pantheon is one of Italy’s most well known structures and the most well kept Ancient Roman monument.

Spanish Steps & Piazza di Spagna

A beautiful look-out point and place to relax on a sunny day. Roman urban regulations have declared the steps as a forbidden place to sit and eat lunch, yet they are always crowded with people. The 1953 film, Roman Holiday, made the Spanish Steps known to Americans. The Spanish Steps were also featured in the Lizzie McGuire Movie :)

Piazza del Popolo

Translating to “People’s Square” in modern Italian. Filled with people, fountains, and statues, it is a lovely place to take your time and walk around. An Egyptian obelisk is placed right in the centre of the Piazza.

Altar of the Fatherland

A monument built in honour of the first King of Italy. The structure is a beautiful sight to see, covered in flags and statues, with a beautiful garden out the front.

Along with sight seeing, there is so much more to do while in Italy. Amazing restaurants are around every corner. Stuff your face with pizza and pasta, finish off every meal with a lovely dessert and try out every flavour of gelato. Walk through the streets and stop in the little shops along the way. Relax in parks and enjoy the beautiful flowers and plant-life that climb up the sides of buildings.

Rome is overflowing with beauty and culture. Take your time, take it in.

Enjoy your trip.

-K

Hermosa Barcelona

When I travelled to Europe, Barcelona was the most beautiful surprise. I knew the least about Barcelona out of all the cities I was visiting, but it soon became one of my favourites. The beaches, the buildings, the parks and the food!! Everything was beyond anything I could have imagined.

What You Should Know About Barcelona

Barcelona is filled with amazing and friendly people, but just like many other big cities, pickpocketing is an issue here. When travelling, I always bring a fanny pack with me to keep my wallet and other important things in. Fanny packs are great because they can go on your front so that you are always able to see them & if you have one thin enough you can tuck it under your shirt or sweater so that it can’t be seen by anyone else. You shouldn’t walk the streets feeling scared or on edge, but when you’re somewhere unfamiliar you should always be aware and prepared. I recommend getting one that’s compact but will still fit all of your essentials.

MoKo RFID Travel Belt

MoKo RFID Travel Belt

Getting around Barcelona is quite easy. The metro is convenient and affordable (2.20 euro for a single ride), especially if you buy a pass (10.20 euro for 10 rides). The metro can get you pretty much anywhere and everywhere in the city. When I went to Barcelona, I walked everywhere. Walking or biking is – in my opinion – the best option while you’re here, as there’s so much to see and the weather is almost always perfect.  

In Barcelona, people speak Catalan and Spanish. It’s always appreciated by the people who live there if you try to learn a few words or phrases in their language before you go or while you are there. Do your best, but don’t worry, English is also widely known and understood in Barcelona.

There is so much good food in Barcelona. I definitely recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something you’ve never had before. There are so many amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurants that you’ll come across while walking through the streets. Try them!

 

What to Do and See in Barcelona

BEACHES!!! Go to any and all beaches that you can while you’re in Barcelona. They’re beautiful, warm, and filled with cool art and vendors. There’s always so much entertainment and activity going on around the beaches, making everyone’s experience unique. When I was there, I stood and watched as bubbles floated all around me & children jumped around trying to pop every last one. There’s something about bubbles and watching kids play with them, that makes you feel like a kid again too.

Parc de la Ciutadella was one of the most beautiful places I went while in Barcelona. Gold statues, fountains and palm trees. It felt like a different world. I think that’s why I loved Barcelona so much – it was unlike anywhere I had ever been before. Spend time walking through this park and you’ll see so much beauty. You’ll feel like royalty while you are here.

Park Güell is filled with beauty and excitement. The long hike up the hill to get there is definitely worth it. Wander the paths and the stairs throughout this beautiful park to see some of the most unique and interesting architecture in the city. Stop and listen to musicians as they fill the park with beautiful Spanish music. Park Güell has one of the best spots to stand and overlook the city. You’ll be able to see for miles & you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world.

Make seeing the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc one of your top priorities while you’re in Barcelona. Watch as the community and visitors come together to see the magical light show in the fountain. Feel yourself become mesmerized by the ever-changing colours and lights as they dance to the music. Seeing this show is absolutely free, which makes it even better!

Make time to explore the Ciutat Vello – the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. I recommend doing a Sandemans walking tour through this historically rich and beautiful area of Barcelona. There is so much to learn and see while you’re there, including some of the most detailed and inspiring architecture and art installations.

While you're in the Gothic Quarter, make sure you wander down Las Ramblas. It is a pedestrian street, lined with trees that stretches 1.2 kilometres. Filled with cafes, restaurants and souvenir vendors, you’ll be sure to find something you love while walking through.

Catalonia Square is a large city square, marking the centre of the city. From this point you can access some of the cities biggest and most important streets. If you’re lucky, and event may be held in the square while you are there. I was lucky enough to be there for Fiesta Nacional de España – National Day of Spain. People filled the square and lines the streets wearing red and yellow with flags on their backs like capes. Music filled the streets, parades marched through and people gathered around to watch dancing and live entertainment. It was a beautiful and exciting day to be in the city.

Sagrada Familia is a beautiful, unfinished Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi. It’s massive, beautiful and full of character. If you don’t have the time to go in, just seeing it from the outside is amazing.

Down every street and around every corner, you will find something beautiful and interesting to see or do in Barcelona. Take your time, soak it all in and remember these moments.

Once you go, you’ll never want to leave.

-K

Paris Essentials

Whenever you travel, it’s always a good idea to have a rough itinerary for all the things you want to do and see while you’re away. Whether you’re in Paris for awhile or just a few days, these are my top recommendations for a perfect Paris getaway.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is probably the most obvious attraction in Paris, but for good reason. The structure itself is beautiful, but all around it is equally as amazing. The streets are lined with carousels, lights and vendors that really make you feel as though you are somewhere special. I recommend coming here in the evening, just as the sun is setting. You can have a picnic in the park overlooking the tower, or you can enjoy the view from the Trocadero Steps. Stick around ‘til it gets dark and watch as the Eiffel Tower lights up and begins to sparkle, spreading a feeling of magic over everyone around.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most popular and iconic architectural structures in Paris. It is covered in the names of those who fought and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Usually surrounded by tourists and traffic (as it is a HUGE round-a-bout), the best time to go here is probably early in the morning or later at night. If you have the time, venture up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a view of the city. Full price to go up is 12 euros.

Champs-Élysées

If you love shopping and cute café’s, then you’ll definitely want to wander down the Champs-Élysées. Enjoy browsing massive stores and the smell of noisette as you walk one of the most iconic avenues in the world. It runs between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, which is where you will find the Arc de Triomphe.

Musée du Louvre

If you are a lover of art or architecture, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to go to Musée du Louvre, or The Louvre. It is the central landmark of the city, and it is where you can find the Mona Lisa. Admission to the Louvre is 15 euros for adults. If you don’t have the time to go inside, there is still plenty to look at outside including the famous glass pyramids. These were possibly one of my favourite things in Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral

After spending time at the Louvre, take a 15-minute walk along the canal and you’ll reach the site of Notre Dame Cathedral. On April 15th, 2019 the cathedral went up in flames. By the time the fire was put out, the spire and most of the roof had collapsed and been destroyed. Plans to restore the cathedral are underway but could require twenty years or more to complete.

Notre Dame Cathredal, October 2018

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Attention all music fans and lovers of the Doors. Jim Morrison was buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery. When you arrive there, you will see a large map which clearly indicates where his grave is. It is lovely to see the flowers and memorial pieces that have been placed around his grave. The cemetery itself is also very beautiful, with statues and plant life decorating the grounds.

*I also recommend doing a free walking tour while in Paris (or anywhere for that matter), as you will learn so much of the cities rich history and receive insider tips from the guide. I recommend doing walking tours with Sandemans. I have had great experiences with their guides and have received so much valuable information that I would otherwise have gone without. When the tour is over, it’s always nice to give your tour guide a tip, as they are doing this job on a volunteer basis (your tips are their main income!)

Where to stay:

St Christopher’s Inn – Hostel in the Paris Canal

This hostel was beautiful, clean affordable and right along the canal. It had a delicious and affordable restaurant and bar downstairs which was a great place to meet other travelers and hear their stories.

Getting Around:

Metro!! Using transit in Paris is quite straight forward. I recommend getting the metro day pass which is 7.50 at the station. This way you can hop on and off as much as you please throughout the day, without having to pay each time.

Walking :) When you’re going to places close by & there’s good weather, walking is always the best option! You’ll see and experience so much more of the city and it’s culture just by wandering through the streets.

Paris is known as the city of love and lights. After being there, this saying means something much different to me. I used to think of it in a very literal sense, but now I think of it as what Paris fills you with, how it makes you feel and how it leaves you. You’ll fall in love with the history, with the architecture and art, with the food, with the parks. It will leave you feeling full of love. Paris will wake you up like the morning light. It will make you feel alive through it’s busy streets. It will fill you with magic as the twinkling lights overwhelm the night. Paris will fill you with love and light. It will leave you warm and glowing.

I hope you get the chance to go!

Safe travels

-K

Give the Gift of Experiences

A few years ago I decided that for birthdays, Christmas and other special events, I wanted to give people the gift of an experience, instead of a material item. To me, the importance of creating memories, living through something and feeling passionate, beats out a material item any day. I’ve been getting my friends and family tickets to sporting events, concerts, festivals and mini trips, and these gifts are always a big hit. This year for mother’s day I wanted to do something extra special for my mum.

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My mum is the most selfless person I know & is always doing things for other people. We always talk about our dream trips, but lately for my mum, travelling has been more of a hypothetical concept than a reality. I decided that since my mum is always putting others first and would most likely never save up the money to go on one of her dream trips, I would help do it for her.

I told my brother the idea and asked if he wanted to join in on it & he thought it was a great idea. Going on a trip can be quite expensive and we knew we wouldn't be able to pay for the full thing right now, so we decided that we would give my mum portions of money until she has enough for a fun, stress-free trip.

I went out and got my mum a passport holder with space for credit cards, change & other travel documents. I created vouchers for her and tucked them into the different pockets throughout it. I wrote her a card explaining what the plan was and that we want to send her on her dream trip. I also explained that the real money is hidden away somewhere and that she’s just getting vouchers for now so that she doesn’t end up using the money on something else.

Today we gave my mum her present and her reaction was priceless. It was a good feeling to know we had given her something meaningful that she really appreciated. Seeing the people you love be full of happiness and excitement is an unbeatable feeling.

Giving a gift of experience is especially nice because the feelings that come along with it last a long time. When you give them the gift, they now have something to look forward to until it happens. While they are there, they are soaking in the moment and (hopefully) having the time of their lives. Then, once it's over, it’s not really over. They have memories that they can hold onto and relive forever. I think that the gift of experience is the definition of a gift that keeps on giving.

I think that doing something like this for someone in your life who wants to travel is a really good idea. So many people have the dream of travelling but thinks it’s impractical due to the costs, or they start saving up but life gets in the way and they have to use the money for something else. If you help them save the money and have a specific purpose for that money, it’s almost guaranteed that it will be kept and used for that purpose.

Travel may not be for everyone, but I think it’s important for everyone to at least try it out. The things we gain from travel are hard to gain from other experiences. Travel isn’t just about going away for a week to relax and lay on a beach (although it can be about that). Travel is about learning, teaching, growing, feeling, seeing and so much more.

 It will feel so good to help your loved ones live out their dreams.

 -K

By the way!! Travel doesn’t always have to be crazy expensive! Stay tuned for a post with my tips & tricks for travelling on a budget.

Preparing for a Flight

Flying can be uncomfortable, stressful or scary for some people, but super fun and exhilarating for others. Doesn’t matter the type of person you are, there are some things you absolutely MUST bring with you on a flight. I’ve made a list of things I do or bring with me on flights in order to pass the time and make myself more comfortable.

First off, WEAR COMFY CLOTHES. People that dress nicely on flights absolutely blow my mind. I love clothes, but boy oh boy do I love comfort. Planes are uncomfortable enough to begin with; sitting next to a random stranger, not being able to lay down or rest your head in a comfy position, barely any leg room & having to remain seated for hours on end. So, it’s up to you to make yourself as comfortable as possible – wear sweatpants.

Going off of that, bring a neck pillow!! This is one thing you really don’t want to forget. It comes in handy on all types of transportation – planes, trains and buses. You can get neck pillows online, at drug stores and at the airport. There are so many to choose from, but I recommend one that you can inflate and deflate so that it doesn’t take up much space when you’re not using it! The Metene Travel Pillow is inflatable, with a washable cover & it comes with a carrying bag for storage.

Metene Travel Pillow

Metene Travel Pillow

Headphones! Listening to music, podcasts, etc. will help the time go by. Make sure you download some playlists, podcasts, episodes before you leave. Listening to your favourite music or the sound of someone’s voice often helps soothe and calm people if they are feeling nervous. Keep this in mind if you are someone who feels a little uneasy about flying. Bringing headphones and having something to listen to will also come in handy when you want to drown out the noise of someone snoring or the baby crying three rows up from you on the plane. Check out my Spotify travel playlist!

Snacks :) You probably don’t want to buy overpriced food while on your flight, so it’s usually a good idea to bring some food with you. A lot of airlines offer a complimentary snack or meal with the purchase of your ticket, but not all of them so make sure to double check. If you are bringing your own food, try not to bring things that contain common allergens (like peanuts) just in case someone on your flight has an allergy.

To reduce the chance of your ears popping, bring gum or candy to have while you are taking off and landing. Nothing is worse than having a blocked ear for the first few days of your trip.

One of the most important things you can bring for your flight and for your trip in general is a reusable water bottle! Que water bottles are perfect for travel because they fold up into mini bottles when they’re not full. Que water bottles are BPA and plastic-free & the company has partnered with non-profit organizations & donate a portion of their sales to help fund their projects. Their goal is to impact and protect our planet & preserve our natural resources…… buy a que bottle.

Que bottles

Que bottles

It’s also a good idea to have a personal item bag with you on your flight. In here you can keep your snacks, water bottle, maybe a book to read & anything else you can’t go a few hours without. You know those awful stories where people’s checked bags get misplaced, don’t arrive on time or someone else takes your bag by accident? Well, if you have a checked bag, you might wanna stick your toiletries, any medication & a change of clothes in your personal item bag just to be on the safe side. Also!! Make sure your wallet is in your personal item bag. Your passport, boarding pass, health card, debit/credit & maybe some cash. My favourite one to use is the Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack by Zomake. It’s perfect for your flight and to use as a day bag while you are travelling around. When you’re not using it, it folds up into a teeny tiny pouch that is east to take anywhere!

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

Bring you phone charger with you on your flight! You definitely don’t want to arrive in a new country with a dead phone, especially since we often rely on our phones for navigation and for booking info for accommodations. Most planes will have outlets for each person to use.

You might also want to bring a sleeping mask to block out any of the light on the plane if you are hoping to sleep.

Now, you can pick and choose from this list as you wish, but I truly consider each of these items a necessity. You do not want to be stuck on a plane for hours feeling uncomfortable, with nothing to do & a growling stomach. You want to start your trip on a good note and end it on one too.

 Safe travels!

 -K

Well Travelled - Iceland Inspired

Last year after my road trip around Iceland, it took me a long time to get over everything I had just seen and experienced (let’s be honest, I’m still nowhere near over it).

I had just completed a really hard semester at school and I was feeling very discouraged about my practice. I wasn’t doing any design work apart from school and I felt no emotion for what I was creating. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go back to school in the fall. *Side note: School can do this to you!! Especially when you go to school to study your passion - the excitement and emotion can often get sucked out of you and your work due to the demands of school. We find ourselves so over worked and being given assignments that don’t mean anything to us. Do your best to take a break from school and go off and do something for yourself. Go have fun, relax, take care of yourself, be present & inspiration will more often than not find you.

I went to Iceland in May 2018, after completing my soul sucking semester, and I felt SO much better when I came back. I spent a lot of the summer writing about my trip and creating drawings and paintings to reflect my memories of Iceland. Doing this work for myself felt therapeutic and helped me decide on my thesis for my final year at OCAD. I felt like this one trip had provided me with years’ worth of content to create.

Iceland inspired piece from Summer 2018,  Bedroom Window

Iceland inspired piece from Summer 2018, Bedroom Window

At OCAD, our fourth year basically revolves around our thesis. It is our top priority & we are pretty much working on it non-stop. I knew that if I was spending 8 months of my life working on something, it had to be something I loved & cared about. I juggled around a bunch of ideas with my instructor – all relating to travel – until I landed on something I was really excited to tackle. This is where I landed: In the format of travel keepsakes, life altering events are translated into common travel experiences to show that without physically travelling, our emotional, psychological and physical responses to these events are often similar to those we experience when we do travel.

I was extra excited (but super overwhelmed), because I had a trip to Europe (France, Spain & Italy) planned for my fall reading week, which lands on the week of Canadian Thanksgiving. I knew this trip would bring me so much more inspiration, memories, and happiness, but I was worried about the amount of work I had coming up for my thesis. With a lot of planning and late nights leading up to my trip, I managed to get all of my work done before I left so that when I came back from my trip I had everything ready to hand in the next day.

For the first month/month and a half of the school year, our main focus is writing, research, exploration and finalizing our pitch in order to make a 10-piece body of work. After that, every 3-4 weeks (not including holidays), we must have 2 illustrations completed that are based off of our thesis. Each time we hand in these pairs of illustrations, we are critiqued on them by our instructors and peers & are given advice on what works and what doesn’t work about each piece. *For artists and designers, it is important for us to learn to detach from our work when it is being critiqued! Even if you are working on something very personal, the criticism being given to you is NOT personal. It is not about your capabilities as an artist or your overall talent. Don’t take everything to heart! It is important to listen to what is being said about your work, but remember that you don’t always have to follow through with the changes that others are suggesting. No one knows your work better than you! That being said, you also want it to be understood by others. Finding the balance between creating work that you love and that means something to you, vs creating work that is readable and relatable to others is something that you will develop over time (if you want to).

One of my thesis illustrations,  From: Here, To: There

One of my thesis illustrations, From: Here, To: There

My final piece from my thesis,  Lifelong

My final piece from my thesis, Lifelong

By the end of March/beginning of April, we have all 10 pieces complete. We then start to prepare for our final grad show, OCADU’s GradEx. For GradEx, each student sets up a display with all of their thesis work and whatever else they choose to add to their display – title, name, legend, business cards, etc.  Preparing for the show takes a lot of work and is usually quite chaotic (at least it was for me). There’s so much to consider. You need everything ready for your final display & you have to set your display up yourself. There is also the option to put merch in the OCAD shop & if you decide to do that, you have to prepare all the merch and the packaging, labels, etc.

GradEx 104 happened last week, May 1st-5th 2019 at OCAD University. All the hard work paid off as it was a big success and almost 50,000 people came to the show. I received a lot of compliments on my thesis and people admired that I chose to focus on something I am so passionate about. Looking back, I don’t think there’s anything I would really do differently. I think this was the first time I created work that I really felt connected to and felt truly excited to make. I look forward to more adventures and feeling the spark as inspiration hits once again.

To see my entire thesis, go to the “illustration” section of my website!

-K

7 Day Icelandic Road Trip

Covering the whole of Iceland in a week is easy to accomplish if you have a plan in place. It’s actually possible to drive the entire ring road (which goes all the way around Iceland), in 1 day! But why would you do that when there’s so much to stop! and! see!

Me at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Me at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

I highly recommend renting a vehicle so that you are able to go where you want, when you want. Transit in Iceland is limited especially once you leave the southwest & renting a car will end up being the more affordable option if you are wanting to cover a lot of ground. I recommend using an Icelandic car rental company (such as Lagoon Car Rentals), as their prices are more reasonable than international companies. They will pick you up from the airport and bring you to their office to pick up your vehicle. In order to rent a vehicle in Iceland you must have at least your g2 drivers license & be 20 years of age (that's it!!). It is important that you are a confident driver, because weather conditions are unpredictable in Iceland and one minute you will be driving under clear, sunny skies and twenty minutes later you’ll be driving through a snow storm, unable to see 3 feet ahead. Always, always, always, be safe and responsible when driving.

Car for the week from Lagoon Car Rentals

Car for the week from Lagoon Car Rentals

On to the adventure:

 

Day 1 – Spend your morning in Reykjavik, wandering the streets and taking in the colours of all of the buildings and landscapes that surround you. Check out local shops and flea markets as you pass by to get a taste of Icelandic treats and culture.

Reykjavik

Reykjavik

Head South in the afternoon for a visit to the Blue Lagoon. It is best to book this excursion ahead of time in order to ensure your time-slot and space. Spend the next hour or so soaking in one of Iceland’s main attractions, while enjoying a complimentary drink and face mask.

After relaxing in the Blue Lagoon, it’s time for some sightseeing to begin. Drive on up to Iceland’s famous Geysir and watch in awe as this natural phenomenon occurs. Beware that visiting the Great Geysir does not smell good… at all, but it is definitely worth it.

The Great Geysir

The Great Geysir

Depending on how tired you are from your flight & jet lag, you may want to head towards your accommodation for the night. Check in and get your stuff settled inside before walking into the town to explore local foods. I recommend staying in Selfoss for the night.

Day 2 – Today, we conquer the waterfalls. The waterfalls of Iceland are unlike anything you will ever experience. Take the time to fully soak them in and appreciate their beauty. We’ll begin by heading to Seljalandsfoss. As you drive towards it, you’ll feel your heart flutter in disbelief that something this big and this beautiful exists. Seljalandsfoss is extra special because you can follow a path that leads behind the waterfall. Make sure you dress in warm and waterproof layers today as you will most likely get soaked.

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

Behind the waterfall

Behind the waterfall

After spending time at Seljalandsfoss, make sure you walk north up the path. There is a hidden treasure at the end that you don’t want to miss out on, but unfortunately most people do! Gljúfrafoss waterfall and pool are located at the north end of this path, but most people visiting Iceland are unaware of it’s location. Step along rocks peeking out through the stream and enter into the canyon waterfall. This experience is like no other.

Gljúfrafoss waterfall

Gljúfrafoss waterfall

Once you’re done here, head east to Skógafoss waterfall. Skógafoss is massive. Climb up the equally massive set of steps next to it to reach the top and enjoy an incredible view. Take the trail to enjoy a mountain top hike and feel like you are on top of the world.

Skógafoss Waterfall

Skógafoss Waterfall

Soaked at Skógafoss

Soaked at Skógafoss

The top of Skógafoss

The top of Skógafoss

You’re close to Vik now, so you may want to head into town to stay the night or to find somewhere to eat. If you want to leave discovering Vik until tomorrow, stay at Welcome Edinborg, just 10 minutes back west from Skogafoss waterfall. This guesthouse is beautiful. A quaint, white house filled with other travellers. Nothing will beat this feeling of looking out the windows and being surrounded by beautiful mountains.

Bedroom view at Welcome Edinborg

Bedroom view at Welcome Edinborg

Tip: In order to save money on your trip, go grocery shopping! In the mornings before you head out on your adventure for the day, head into a grocery store or market and find healthy and affordable snacks and meals that will keep you energized throughout the day. Stopping to eat out for every meal is impractical on an Icelandic road trip, as there will be times when you don’t pass by a restaurant for a few hours. It will also greatly reduce your overall spending for your trip!

Day 3 – There is so much to cover for today. Whether you stayed in Vik overnight or at the Welcome Edinborg, you are close to one of Iceland’s most interesting sites. The Solheimasandur Plane Wreck. In 1973, a DC-3 plane crashed here and has remained on the beach for people to explore. The plane ran out of fuel and crashed onto the beach, but fortunately everyone aboard the plane survived the crash. Make sure you are dressed for the weather as you will be outside and far from the car as you walk for approximately one hour (one way) to the plane wreck.

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

Next, head to Reynisfjara, the black sand beach. The black sand beach was one of my favourite places in Iceland. The sand is created from the ice cold water meeting the boiling lava from a volcano. Be careful while you are here, as the waves are unpredictable and you do not want to get caught in them. You will be able to take in the beautiful rock formations just off the shore, known as Reynisdrangar. The Icelandic folklore belief is that these rock formations were once trolls trying to pull in ships from the ocean. They were caught in the sun one morning, which turned them to stone.

Reynisfjara, the black sand beach

Reynisfjara, the black sand beach

Continue northeast towards Vatnajökull National Park. Here you can choose from the multiple hiking paths to different destinations including an array of waterfalls, glaciers and lagoons.

Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull National Park

After a day full of sightseeing and hiking, you may want to stay somewhere close by. Höfn isn’t too far away and driving there at night prevents you from having to make the journey the next morning. Höfn is a sweet little town with all the necessities you will need for the night and the next morning. Grab some groceries and fill your tank up with gas before heading off the next day.

Day 4 – Today we tackle the east of Iceland. Driving through some of the most gorgeous landscapes. Today is all about spontaneity. There will be so many opportunities for you to pull over on the side of the road and take in the view or to walk down a trail to hidden away waterfalls. You’ll be driving up mountains and through snowy roads so make sure you are focused and full of energy. Today will be full of sights you will never want to forget.

Eastern Region, Iceland

Eastern Region, Iceland

Spend the night in Egilsstaðir – one of Iceland’s sweetest towns. I recommend staying in Tehusid Hostel – a modern and friendly hostel that has amazing views around it. Speak with the owners and they will give you information about the town. Just behind the hostel is a little cliff that you can hike up and on top of it sits tables where you can have a few drinks while looking out over the town. For dinner I recommend checking out Skálinn Diner, an old fashioned diner with amazing food and service.

Egilsstaðir

Egilsstaðir

Skálinn Diner

Skálinn Diner

Day 5 – Today we travel from Egilsstaðir to Akureyri – Iceland’s capital of the north. There is plenty to check out along the way. Today you can visit Mars on Earth. Mývatn region is one of Iceland’s most well kept secrets.

Hverir is a landscape within Mývatn, of boiling mud pits, fumaroles and red sand. You can also visit lake Mývatn, with beautiful blue waters.

Hverir

Hverir

While you’re in Mývatn, be sure to check out the Krafla lava fields. Views like this can only exist in Iceland.

Keep heading west towards Akureyri and you’ll come across the Mývatn Nature Baths. Similar to the Blue Lagoon, but less expensive & it will feel great after almost a full week of road tripping.

After soaking in the lagoon and relaxing in the sauna, continue your journey & you’ll end up at Goðafoss waterfall (trust me, you can’t miss it). This waterfall looks like a mini Niagara Falls, and you can walk all around the top of it.

Goðafoss Waterfall

Goðafoss Waterfall

Tonight, I recommend staying at Akureyri Backpackers. They are a restaurant, bar, café and hostel all in one.

Day 6 – Once again, today is full of driving and spontaneity. Spend the morning exploring the town of Akureyri, as it has a lot of personality.

On the trek back to Reykjavik, there are plenty of landscapes and views to pull over for. You’ll also pass a lot of wild horses (and maybe some sheep) and you’ll definitely want to pull over to give them a visit.

Northern Region, Iceland

Northern Region, Iceland

When you end up in Reykjavik, there are so many places to stay and so many places to eat! Try to have a new and exciting Icelandic meal on your last night. If you’re feeling confident and spontaneous, head into one of Reykjavik’s many tattoo parlours to bring home a permanent memory from your trip!

Irezumi Ink Iceland

Irezumi Ink Iceland

Day 7 – You’re in Reykjavik and if you have time to go out and wander the stores and streets, I recommend doing that. If not, bring your car back into the rental office and they’ll give you a lift to the airport where you can relax and grab some food before your flight back home. A week goes by so quickly when you’re doing so much every day & you may feel sad to be heading back home, but you’ve just covered a full country (and you’re probably really tired)! Plus, you can always come back :)

Check back soon to see how this trip shaped my thesis year & for a list of everything you’ll need for a week in Iceland.

-K

Welcome!

Hey everyone!

I’ve decided to start a blog “The Art of Adventure”, combining my love of art and my love of travel. A lot of my posts will be about travelling on a budget, highlights from my trips, and the inspiration and influences I’ve gained from travelling. My main goal in life is to pursue the things that bring me happiness and fill me with excitement. At this point in my life, there are so many things that do this for me, so I thought, why not (try to) pursue them all.

One of the best parts about both art and travelling is being able to share it with other people. Being a storyteller of the things you’ve experienced and the things that shape you. Sharing these moments with people you love or even with people you don’t know but who will take something from it. That’s what I hope to do with my blog – inspire and inform people about travel, about art, or even just about finding something that makes them feel good. We all deserve to take up space in this world. Find what makes you feel good, what makes you feel big and confident, and use that to create the life you want.

A little bit about me: I just wrapped up my final year studying illustration at OCAD University in Toronto. It was a long four years, but I learned a lot… not necessarily from the curriculum, but from the overall experience, my peers & the people who have supported me along the way. This summer I am beginning a tattoo apprenticeship, under a tattoo artist & friend who I idolize and admire. I’ve been looking forward to this for months and can’t wait to see where this takes me. As I begin my tattoo career, I will continue my illustration work on the side. I’ve been focusing most of my illustration work over the last year on travel, as it has been a big part of my life. A year ago this past week, I went to Iceland & since then travel has been the one constant thing on my mind. Being an artist and designer, I am always seeking inspiration, and I’ve found that travel is the most rewarding and influential form of inspiration for me.

Anyway, let’s get started! I hope you find what you’re looking for while you're here.

-K