Tips & Tricks – Maui

Maui tips – from us to YOU!

Updated April 2016: We just got back from our 2nd trip to Maui and discovered some more gems! 

Last year we went to Maui for the first time – and pretty much fell in love. It’s totally paradise, folks. <insert 75 million heart emojis here>.

Since then we’ve received a ton of questions from friends, family and random strangers about what we loved – and also, what we didn’t!

If you find yourself itching for a tropical vacation filled to the brim with sunshine and adventure, check out our recos below!

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Adventures in Sechelt

We decided to end the year (and kick off a new one!) at one of our favourite places on the Sunshine Coast… this gem!

We discovered Gary’s cabin on Airbnb a few years back – and we’ve been lucky to call it home twice! Two things you should know about Gary:

  • His blog tells the tale of how him & his wife transitioned from city-living to small-town living successfully. I liked this post on why we need to forgot about retirement and just start living the good life now! 3 cheers for that! If you ever dream of moving to a cabin in the woods, you’ll appreciate his journey.
  • He was interviewed by Fast Company on how to achieve Airbnb success last year. If your place is listed on Airbnb (or VRBO), it’s well worth the read!

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Tips & Tricks – Get the Best Travel Deal

11114256_10205635224513378_121849236596427335_oAll the time I get asked:

  1. “How do you travel so much?”
  2. “How do you find such great deals?”

The answer to both is: I care about travel, therefore I make it a priority. BOOM.

I’ve been very lucky to travel to some amazing places over the past 10 years. My highlights have definitely included exploring the Sahara Desert in Tunisia via 4×4, running a half marathon in Sweden and surfing in Costa Rica.

Wondering how I’ve been able to make it work?

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Next Stop: Pacific Northwest

MountainsI’m currently sitting on my floor staring at 2 bags. The first bag for a weekend away in Whistler, the second for a 14 day roadtrip through the Pacific Northwest. Washington, Oregon & California… we’re coming for you! Packing. It’s a pain in the ass. It’s tough to find that balance between not packing enough and overpacking. The last time we went camping, I ended up with just a little bit extra. I had a few layers that I didn’t need and realized that I was totally ok with just wearing a few of my wool pieces over and over again. :)

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Cool Kids Go Camping

I haven’t been camping in over 10 years. Maybe even 15. The last camping trip I actually remember was in like grade 6 when we went on a school trip somewhere up Vancouver Island. With that said, I was a Girl Guide for a hell of a long time and I did grow up on an island. I’m by no means scared of making a fire, sleeping in a tent or the adventure that is… camping.

Camping as an adult is way different than a kid. I don’t remember having to do anything as a kid. I just remember showing up and it being simple. Mom always took care of the food. Mmm marshmallows. There was always toilet paper for the outhouses and there was generally a beach to play at. What else do you need?

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10 Days to Celebrate 10 Years

When I came back from London, I threw up a quick post highlighting how the trip was everything I could have asked for and more.

The last time I went to London it was 2005. I was 21 and headed on Contiki {If you’ve never heard of Contiki, please google it. If you’re under 25, it’s an absolute must do!}… high level: 5 weeks, 10 countries, 50 youth — rowdy. It’s fair to say that I don’t recall a lot about the London, other than I loved it. We did a lot of touristy stuff back then, so it was super great that I didn’t have to add that crap to the list this time. :)

This time, I flew out on the red eye Christmas Eve, arriving into Gatwick on Christmas Day. Fun fact about the UK… they shut down on Christmas Day. Yep, like no transit, no trains, no nothing. Melissa had arranged for a car service to pick me up, so before you knew it I was en route to West Hampstead.

I don’t travel well, like… don’t. travel. well. I love to travel, but the thought of being on a plane for more than a couple of hours stresses me right out. On this flight, I lucked out. {Merry Christmas to me!}. The plane was probably half full and I scored 3 seats — woop!

I arrived at Melissa’s with a — holy shit, I can’t believe I’m actually here. It’s somewhat a bizarre feeling to sleep most of a flight and wake up in a different country. Anyways, it was officially Christmas Day and to celebrate we caught up and ate swordfish. Probably the most non-traditional Christmas I’ve ever had. And you know what? It was perfect. :)

I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t make a lot of ‘plans’ during this trip. I needed to go with the flow. I needed to relax. I needed to recharge. We took each day as it came, went with the flow and adapted as necessary.

On my first full day in the UK, we toured around Central London — 17,000 steps later, we had covered Oxford Street, Mayfair, Embankment, Southbank and Bermondsey. London was quite a bit more chilly than I was expecting, so the cold kept up our pace and it was lovely to have a local as a tour guide. We popped into a cafe for tea, then a pub for mulled wine and just enjoyed each other.

Melissa and I go way back to 2003. I had met her through friends when I was in first year at the University of Calgary. We had ridiculous times together. She was an English major {and brainiac} and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. When we weren’t attending classes, we were making a disgrace of ourselves at the university bar, going to costume parties and having an absolute blast. 

When I had arrived, I had given Melissa a card that she wasn’t allowed to open until Boxing Day evening. Once we got back to her flat, I told her it was time!! She opened the card to learn that we were headed away for the weekend {high five to me keeping a secret from her!}… destination: unknown! She was all stressed out about what to pack and I kept on playing mind games with her to make her think we were leaving the country. :)

The next morning we were up bright and early, en route to the train station. With this whole “no plans vacation,” normal day-to-day crap that would normally stress you out {i.e. tube construction, train delays, etc} didn’t phase me at all. A few hours later, we were on the train and moving at snail pace. When we got to our stop, I told her — we’re here! The mystery destination was — Bath, UK aka a beautiful town full of history, roman baths and a divine boutique hotel.

We spent the weekend seeing the local sights — Royal Crescent, The Circus, Pulteney Bridge and explored via the cobble stone streets. I had tweeted Alastair Coote {born in Bath, lived in Vancouver, now in NYC} for his recos, so make sure to keep them top of mind if you have Bath on your bucket list! Our hotel was perfect, the Thermae Bath Spa was the perfect cure for our hangover and the restaurants we ate at were incredible. Other than spraining my ankle {more to come on that later}, the weekend was absolutely perfect. That is until we left Bath to head back to London — and got on the wrong train… headed in the wrong direction…

Once we were back and sorted in London, Melissa and I had a quick chat about the next few days. We had plans for NYE — headed to a dinner party at her colleague’s house, but other than that… NO PLANS. Hurrah. I got on the Google and figured out a few places I wanted to check out.

On Sunday, we explored Camden and then headed to Leciester Square, Covent Garden, Chinatown and Picadilly Circus. The last time I was in London I remember having just awful food, so this time I went on a mission for good eats. Melissa and I had come up with a list of the places we wanted to fill our bellies with yum. Sagar in Covent Garden was on the list.

One thing I absolutely loved about this trip was that we took our mornings easy. We woke up, had tea, made breakfast, showered when we felt like it and got out of the house when we were ready. On Monday, Melissa headed into work for the day and I went exploring. I met up with a friend from Calgary in the afternoon and then Melissa and I headed to Soho for dinner. Melissa introduced me to Regent Street and Lexington Street — big shopping streets and they both kinda gave me anxiety. So. Many. People.

On New Years Eve, it POURED with rain. The only day I wish I had my Hunter boots with me. We headed down to Borough Market for local eats and a coffee, then made our way to Soho for lunch at Mildred’s aka the top vegetarian restaurant in the city. Divine.

I love fireworks, like, LOVE FIREWORKS. Part of me wanted to head down to the chaos in Central London with the kazillion of people and experience the show. The other part of me knew that was exactly the opposite of how I needed to end the the year and get started off on a great note. Instead, Melissa and I headed to Latifa’s house for incredible food, red wine, Cards of Humanity and a ton of laughs. We closed down the party around 3 and headed back to Melissa’s to drink another bottle of wine and went to bed just before the sun came up. We must have been channeling our inner 20 year old’s. :)

The next few days flew by… Melissa and I talked about what worked and didn’t work in  2013 and what changes we wanted to make as we entered the new year. Our last day together was spent in Westminster, Victoria Street and Pimlico. We met up for breakfast with our friend, Dan, and then ran over to Westminster Abbey to get one last photo. I had forgot about Westminster Abbey. It’s breathtaking and I’m so glad we squeezed it in before I ran to the train.

My flight home was awful. To my left was a girl throwing up the whole flight, to my right was a guy with “man cold.” I sat there for 10 hours assuming I would either arrive home with the plague or die mid-flight.

I’m still alive to tell this story — so, moving on…

If you head to London, these are my musts:

Sights

  • London Bridge. It’s gorgeous — especially at sunset.
  • Covent Garden. There are tons of cute stores in the Market, the performers outside are entertaining and all the patios are heated!!
  • Soho. Located in London’s West End, Soho is the mecca of fantastic food and drinks. 
  • Borough Market. Filled to the brim with fresh food, culture and good vibes. Check their hours before you pop over!
  • Primrose Hill. Best view of the whole city.

Restaurants

  • Wahaca in Soho. Try the plantain tacos, black bean tostadas and sweet potato & feta taquitos. Off the hook.
  • Mildred’s in Soho. Organic, vegetarian and ah-maz-ing. Try it all.
  • The Orange in Pimlico. We hit it up for brunch. You can’t go wrong with an omelette and mint tea.
  • Green Rocket Cafe in Bath. Again, vegetarian. Cute cafe that does breakfast, lunch or dinner. Small town feel with an unreal menu.
  • Yak Yeti Yak in Bath. The most fantastic meal I’ve had in ages. We had the cauli pakora, yak yeti yak chicken, aloo channa, bhuteko bhat, a couple of Nepalese beer and ended our night with the chiyaa ice cream. To die for.

What did I learn while away?

  1. It’s a waste of energy to stress about things that are not in your control. Take a deep breath, re-evaluate and remove yourself from the stress.
  2. Going with the flow isn’t a bad thing. Forget this YOLO/FOMO crap, it is hugely empowering to do just do whatever you want.
  3. It’s crazy important to take time for YOU. Maybe it’s a trip away, maybe it’s time with your best friend, maybe it’s time on your own. Figure out what your soul needs — and do just that.

I recently discovered a new iPhone app called Replay. It helped me turn a whole pile of photos into this cute video! My heart is beaming. 10 days in London was an absolutely wonderful break from reality:

Melissa, thank you for 10 years of life, laughter and love. Blessed to call you my friend. xo

Kicking Off 2014

Last night I returned back to Vancouver after spending the last 10 days in London with my best friend, Melissa.

We’ve both had a tough year and the one thing we both knew was that the best possible way to move forward into 2014… was with each other. The trip was everything I could of asked for — and more. We celebrated our friendship {we meet 10 years ago at the University of Calgary!}, honoured our past and got giddy over the future.

Cheers to laughter, friendship and creating new memories.

MJreunion

January 2nd – Westminster Abbey

3 Weeks, 3 Plane Tickets

Buying a plane ticket on a whim? Over and over again, that’s what I do. Hell, it’s how I ended up in Belize, Costa Rica, New York and Hawaii.

In the last 3 weeks, I’ve bought 3 plane tickets. Oh me, oh my.

London, UK – December 2013

Hyde-Park-Winter-Wonderland

I spent about 24 hours debating if I should go to London for Christmas. My bestest of best friends, Melissa, lives there and it’s been about 6 years since we have spent more than a few days in the same city. She wasn’t going home for Christmas this year — and I was in need of a vacation, so… there you go, flight booked. The plan? We don’t have one — and I’m stoked for that. As long as the trip includes wine and each other, I’ll be a happy little girl.

Sydney, Australia – February 2014

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Australia has been on my bucket list since the beginning of time. I’ve struggled with it because I have always thought I would never go for less than a month. I was always expected that on my first trip to Australia, I would tackle the whole beast – yep, all 7,692,024 km. :/ Last weekend, a Norwegian airline, Wideroe, published mistake fares and I hopped on the deal. Vancouver to Australia for $800. Boom. Done. The plan? No idea, other than I will likely spend a week in Sydney and a week in Melbourne. I’ve made a promise to myself that I won’t get stressed out over ‘seeing’ everything. Through my Contiki trip in 2005, working with Team Australia at WorldSkills 2009 and getting to know JCI Australia over the past few years, I’ve met a ton of amazing people down under. Can’t wait to see their friendly faces and soak up the beauty that is Australia.

Stockholm, Sweden – May 2014

stockholmpanorama
A few years back I met a fab young woman named Cecilia. We met while attending a conference with 7,000 young global leaders in Osaka, Japan. She’s a dynamo and someone I clicked with instantly. We’ve stayed in touch and been following each other’s running {and life} journeys. Last year Cecilia completed the GotesborgsVaret Half Marathon and she sent me a note saying that one day I should come and run it with her. Wideroe’s mistake fares, included Europe, and I just knew I had to book it. :) The only thing I didn’t think through? The race is already sold out ha ha. ;) Need to negotiate my way in through a charity race bib… more to come on that note! The plan? A couple days in Stockholm, the half marathon in Gothenburg and some time with my soul sister soaking up Sweden.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Last year I started to think about how I wanted to celebrate turning 30 {next June by the way}. I knew I wanted to travel… I thought about taking 3 months off to just roam the world and see where I ended up. Back then, I was consulting and hyper-flexible. My plan was to compress 1 year of work into 9 months and then walk away from work with no worries. Sounds easy eh? ;) Now, I’m working for fast-paced company with an exciting role and I can’t imagine walking away for 3 months — at least not in the next few years. These individual trips will be my gift to myself. An opportunity to relax and recharge. An opportunity to get comfortable with the unfamiliar. An opportunity to put down the map and get wonderfully lost.

Do you have travel tips or must see’s for the UK, Australia or Sweden? Holla at me. I’m keen to live like a local and have the time of my life. xx