I Backpack Canada » Travel Tips http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:26:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 16 Must See Canadian Destinationshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/16-must-see-canadian-destinations/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/16-must-see-canadian-destinations/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:26:51 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7073 I get hassled a lot by readers, asking what are the best Canadian destinations to see. I try my best to avoid naming names, but I’ll usually share a handful of what I deem to be the best. While I like to remind readers that the best is all subjective, I partnered up with Expedia […]

16 Must See Canadian Destinations is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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I get hassled a lot by readers, asking what are the best Canadian destinations to see. I try my best to avoid naming names, but I’ll usually share a handful of what I deem to be the best. While I like to remind readers that the best is all subjective, I partnered up with Expedia Canada and came up with my own little hit list to share some of my personal faves. Something a little more public & out there, something that I can just link people to and say “Give this a read“. I’m hoping some readers will comment and share some additional must see Canadian destinations, but I hope this gives you a start!

tombstone mountain yukon

The Yukon

The wild, rugged Yukon has lured people from all over the world for hundreds of years. Home of the Klondike gold rush, thousands of kilometres of dense bush, and some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Canada (I’m looking at you Tombstone Mountain Range). The Yukon is this mysterious territory where art meets manliness, where nature meets quirky towns and cities, where people don’t take anything too serious, except when it comes to making people laugh. SourToe Cocktails, gold miners trying to strike it rich, and 1:00am sunsets are sure to raise some eyebrows. The Yukon is too weird, too wild not to include in this list.

whale watching vancouver island

Vancouver Island, BC

Beautiful Vancouver Island is larger than it might sound. In fact, it’s the largest island on West Coast North America, and 43rd largest island in the world, measuring 32,134 km2 (12,407 sq mi). From the English inspired streets of Victoria, to the chill surfer vibe of Tofino & Ucluelet, there’s a large amount of must-sees on Vancouver Island, all within a relatively easy driving distance. While most of BC is already pretty laid back, you’ll quickly realize that Vancouver Island has it’s own pace. You see it in the arts, the culture, the sport, the food, and the people. I can’t name any one place in Vancouver Island as the only must-see, so I’m copping out and just saying “Go see it all“. It’s just a terrific island to cruise around and explore. A must see destination if you’re a die-hard hiker, a relaxed camper, an RVer, a luxury traveller, or just someone who likes to snap photos. Vancouver Island is truly a travellers paradise.

Kalamalka-Lake-Okanagan-Valley-British-Columbia

The Okanagan Valley, BC

Picture massive valleys, mild temperature, vineyards, warm lakes, wind & kite surfers, boaters, and cute beaches. The Okanagan Valley is often skipped by visitors in lieu of the nearby mountains. A weekend in the Okanagan is well worth the small detour, particularly in the summer. Rent a car, a bike, or a boat, and find yourself exploring this unique BC countryside. Panoramic views of this beautiful part of Canada will leave you with empty SD cards and countless warm memories. Or possibly a hangover, as the wine is delightful.

vancouver-bike-the-wall

Vancouver, BC

Vancouver, it’s often dreamed about by other Canadians due to its year round mild weather. While the weather may not be as extreme as other parts of Canada, the amount of activities you can squeeze in during a short stay in Vancouver is sure to make you think this area is anything but mild. Mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, kayaking, you name it, you can probably do it in or near by Vancouver. While Vancouver is one of Canada’s larger cities, it’s still fairly easy to get around with public transportation. Surrounded by mountains and pacific ocean, Vancouver is a must-see destination simply due to its beauty, and also due to the sheer number of exciting activities that you can enjoy. An outdoorsy, nature lovers paradise, with an extremely large amount of good restaurants, and a superb stop for any visitor to Canada.

jasper mountains

Jasper National Park, Alberta

Nothing compares to Jasper. A rocky Mountain mecca that truly lets you feel like you’re alone on this planet. While Banff continues to draw in more visitors per year, Jasper has kept its pristine look and feel. You never really feel like you’re too close to people. There’s room to breathe, and even more room to explore. Countless hiking trails await you, world class skiing and snowboarding, Jasper is a year round meccca of discovery. By day you’ll come across all sorts of wildlife, and by night Jasper’s Dark Sky Preserve allows for some of the starriest nights you’ll ever experience.

grasslands-national-park-sunset

Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan

The prairies we know in Canada are not same prairies that existed 300 years ago. Once upon a time, a large part of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba were covered in grasslands, feeding herds upon herds of wild bison. Before the fields of wheat, barley, canola and flax, there was grass, and lots of it. Visiting the Grasslands National Park lets you truly experience what that would have been like. It has become a refuge for wildlife, flora, and some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. If you want to really take it in, camping for a night or two in these parts is a must, just be on the guard for the wild bison, rattlesnakes, and the thousands of prairie dogs that live in these parts.

Winnipeg Legislative Golden Boy Hermes

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Winnipeg gets poked at across Canada, but spend a weekend there and you’ll quickly discover that Winnipeg is actually very awesome. I can’t help but wonder if the insults directed at Winnipeg for being too cold, too boring, are just tactics to keep the tourist masses out of this prairie city. With a wildly popular music scene, home to such great artists as Neil Young, The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and more, you can hop from bar to bar catching incredible indie bands and singer songwriters. Spend a day exploring the Forks, the historic & mysterious Legislative Building or any of the countless festivals that setup in downtown Winnipeg. Or simply explore the wildly different neighbours of the Exchange District, Osborne Village, or the french quarter, formally known as St. Boniface. Winnipeg’s got a lot to offer for those willing to look!

polar bear canada churchill mb

Churchill, Manitoba

I regularly receive emails asking where someone can spot polar bears. I’m always quick to educate people that the majority of us don’t live near polar bears, but there are some places in Canada where they’re regular visitors. The easiest place to see them without getting mauled to death, is hands down Churchill Manitoba. Located on the tip of the Hudsons Bay, known as the the home of the polar bear, beluga, and countless other wild animals. Churchill is a quirky town where industry meets rugged outdoors. This place is easily a must see Canadian destination. The VIA Rail trip from Winnipeg up to Churchill (2 days), is long and difficult, but very much worth it!

EdgeWalk CN Tower

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto is a different beast. While still very much Canadian, you can’t help but feel fully immersed in countless different cultures when exploring this city. Each neighbourhood differs so much from the next. With countless museums, parks, sports arenas, architectural wonders, and commonly known as a foodie’s paradise, Toronto has something for everyone. Public transportation makes Toronto easy to get around, and in spite of its size, it’s still very affordable to visit this metropolitan city. Take it all in from the top of the CN Tower, or do something crazy-stupid like hang over the edge of the building on the EdgeWalk. I have clammy hands just seeing that photo again!

ottawa-canada-day-streets-people

Ottawa, Ontario

The national Capital, Ottawa has always struck me as a mix between Halifax and Toronto, with a dash of Montreal. Historical buildings, governmental grandiose buildings, and a growing number of clubs, pubs, and restaurants makes Ottawa a beautiful city to visit. Explore the canals by boat, or bike & hike the countless paths throughout the city. There’s a ton to see and do in Ottawa, making it a great place to add on anyones Canadian bucket list. Consider visiting the nations capital during Canada Day to truly experience the Canadian pride associated with this great city.

montreal-tam-tams-drum-circle

Montreal, Quebec

This city is awesome. There’s really no questioning a visit to Canada should include this hip, cultural centre of Quebec. An incredible mix of french and english, with a dash of european culture peppered throughout. Food, music, arts, and the outdoors are such integral parts of this city, that you can’t help but feel inspired, exploring the streets of Montreal, or using this city as base camp for your Quebecois journey. A summer visit to Montreal is a must, taking in the numerous food & music festivals, such as POP Montreal, or the always-free, always-fun Tam Tams in Mount Royal Park.

quebec-city-fairmont-w1024

Quebec City, Quebec

The great walled city of Canada, this historic french city centre has been at the forefront of some of Canada’s most famous historical events. A history buffs dream come true, from old gothic architecture, to battlegrounds from hundreds of years ago. This city has retained it’s elegance throughout the years, and is still widely regarded as one of the best places to really expose yourself to french immersion. While Montreal can be very french at times, it’s common for people to live in Montreal and not speak a lick of french. If you want to expose yourself to true french Canadian culture, from the delicious artisan foods, to the beautiful views of the Fleuve St Laurent, Quebec City is a safe bet.

hopewell-rocks-new-brunswick-flowerpot-3

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

Home to some of the largest tides in the world, this entire area was carved out by the rising tides of the Bay of Fundy. The flowerpot rocks are a stunning example of natures power. During low-tide, hike throughout the rocks and explore the caverns carved from water. During high tide, kayak around the flowerpot rocks on the Bay of Fundy. While Hopewell Rocks are a terrific day trip that really lets you experience the wild elements in these parts, the Bay of Fundy is also home to some amazing whale watching tours, along with some beautiful highway drives.

Barrington St Bike

Halifax, Nova Scotia

One of my favourite cities, Halifax is a superb combination of metropolitan fun mixed with maritime heritage. Easily one of the most walk-able cities in Canada, Halifax is a great place to visit, and an even better place to settle down for a bit. I found myself living there for nearly 5 years, and enjoyed nearly every minute of it. From historical pubs, delicious microbrews, countless colleges & universities, and the gateway to some terrific tours. A weekend in Halifax is sure to be met with a few hangovers, but before the drinks begin to flow, you’ll be immersed in some of Canada’s earliest history.

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St Johns, Newfoundland

Screech, beer, hard drinks, wild parties, all surrounded in a historical maritime harbour. St Johns, Newfoundland is definitely a must-see-must-experience Canadian destination. It’s funny what a stretch of water will do. While very much similar to Halifax, it’s easy to see that Newfoundlanders are their own breed of maritimers. With their celtic inspired tunes, cute but sometimes hard to understand accents, and their affinity for embarrassing CFA’s (come from away’s) by initiating them into Newfoundland culture by kissing a cod. The easy to walk (though be warned, they’re hilly) streets of Newfoundland make it a great city to stumble around, crawling from pub to pub and sampling their local beers, eats, and laughing with some of the friendliest people in Canada. If you can squeeze in George Street Fest on your visit, all the power to you. Just be sure your liver is up to it! Those east coasters can put ‘em back.

fogo head trail

Fogo Island, Newfoundland

This charming, mysterious island takes control of you in weird ways. You’ll find yourself staring out into the Atlantic Ocean, wondering “Why can’t I live here forever“. Fogo Island’s scenery is some of the most unique in Canada. Everywhere you look is rock, moss, trees, ocean, and stunning beauty. The Island residents have known this for a long time, in fact, artists from all over the world fight for the chance to become an artist in residence on this small little island. Some of the worlds freshest seafood, the most spectacular drives, and the friendliest people you’ll meet are all found on Fogo Island.

Am I missing any must-see destinations in Canada? I’d love to hear from you, comment below or throw a tweet my way @ibackpackcanada!

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Check out these Canadian Backpacker Tour Companieshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-backpacker-tour-companies/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-backpacker-tour-companies/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 03:47:20 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4480 There are many different types of travellers. From long term travellers, to weekend warriors, finding something that will suit you is crucial to getting the most bang for your buck. If you’re short on time, but want to pack in as much adventure, sights, and memories into a week or two, then these three Canadian […]

Check out these Canadian Backpacker Tour Companies is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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There are many different types of travellers. From long term travellers, to weekend warriors, finding something that will suit you is crucial to getting the most bang for your buck. If you’re short on time, but want to pack in as much adventure, sights, and memories into a week or two, then these three Canadian backpacker tour companies are definitely worth checking out.

Moose Travel Network Backpacker Tours

moose-travel-network backpacker toursI’m going to start with Moose Travel Network, because they’re the only one I’ve had a chance to experience. Their staff are incredibly helpful and knowledgable. When you book a tour with them, you can pick from several routes, allowing you to see a variety of regions throughout BC, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. You’ve got a ton of flexibility as well, as they allow you to setup hop on and hop off style itineraries. If you decide mid way through your trip that you want to explore Banff a little while longer, it’s just a matter of letting your driver know, and then you take care of your hostels and you’re set. When you’re ready to pick up where you left off, just inform Moose Travel Network and you can hop back on the tour.

Their drivers ensure that they break up the drives between destinations with fascinating stops at stunning panoramic views, random trips and excursions, and some of the best food and drink joints along the way. Good music, laughs, and company are easily found on their trips.

Check out my interview with a Moose Travel Network Guide.

Read my experiences in the Rocky Mountains with Moose Travel Network.

Salty Bear Adventure Travel Tours

Salty-Bear-tours canadaSalty Bear Adventure Travel was started by a local Nova Scotian backpacker who was keen on showing off the maritimes to people from across the world. Salty Bear hires local Canadian drivers with a passion for their locale, ensuring you’ll know that what you’re seeing and experiencing authentically Canadian. Salty Bear is similar to Moose Travel, as they do drop offs at hostels, but will accomodate anyone if you’re staying elsewhere. They also supply tours along the way, ensuring that you get to experience the best tours along the way.

West Trek Tours

West trek tours backpackerWest Trek provides high quality adventure tours to backpackers both young and old, interested in seeing and experiencing the best of Canada. Explore the Rocky Mountains, mountain bike in Whistler, Surf in Tofino, Explore Victoria, Vancouver, and even parts of USA. Their award winning tour company is rated highly by visitors across the world.

Am I missing any other awesome Canadian Backpacker Tour companies? Don’t hesitate to share below in the comments.

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The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is Back in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver!http://ibackpackcanada.com/outdoor-adventure-travel-show-is-back-in-toronto-calgary-and-vancouver/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/outdoor-adventure-travel-show-is-back-in-toronto-calgary-and-vancouver/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 16:15:59 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7032 Want to get caught up on the latest products and services in the Outdoor Adventure industry? Over the next few months, The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show will be arriving in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. The Outdoor Adventure show is one of the biggest consumer shows in Canada. This exhibit brings together buyers and sellers from […]

The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is Back in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Want to get caught up on the latest products and services in the Outdoor Adventure industry? Over the next few months, The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show will be arriving in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. The Outdoor Adventure show is one of the biggest consumer shows in Canada. This exhibit brings together buyers and sellers from across Canada to showcase the best upcoming products, and travel/tourism services that appeal to anyone looking for a bit of adventure.

Update: The folks at the Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show are giving away a few tickets to I Backpack Canada readers. Find out more below!

outdoor-adventure-travel-show

This multi-day event will provide some awesome learning about new destinations and products, with over 200 exhibitors set to show up. Exhibitors will be showcasing everything from camping, water sports, hiking, biking, climbing, outdoor gear and apparel, nutrition, education, destinations, clubs, associations and a whole bunch more!

I Backpack Canada has partnered up with The Outdoor Adventure show to encourage you to take part and check out what this whole event is all about. Adult tickets are already super affordable, but you can save a between $3.00 and $4.00 off your ticket (based on location of your choice) from that price by using the Promo Code: ibackpack when purchasing your ticket online.

Toronto Outdoor Adventure Travel Show 2015Toronto Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show 2015

Dates: February 20, 21 & 22, 2015
Location:  International Centre, Toronto, ON

Toronto Show Hours

Friday, February 20, 2015, 11am – 8pm
Saturday, February 21, 2015, 10am – 6pm
Sunday, February 22, 2015, 10am – 5pm

Vancouver Outdoor Adventure Travel Show 2015Vancouver Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show 2015

Dates: March 7 & 8, 2015
Location: Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, BC

Vancouver Show Hours

Saturday, March 7, 2015 ~ 10am – 6pm
Sunday, March 8, 2015 ~ 10am – 5pm

Calgary Outdoor Adventure Travel Show 2015Calgary Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show 2015

Dates: March 21 & 22, 2015
Location: Stampede Park, BMO Centre, Calgary, AB

Calgary Show Hours

Saturday, March 22, 2014 ~ 10am – 6pm
Sunday, March 23, 2014 ~ 10am – 5pm

Facebook

More info

Use promo code ibackpack & save on your tickets!

Win A Free Ticket to the Outdoor Adventure Travel Show

Let’s keep this easy. Comment below and you’ll be automatically entered to win. Please also indicate which city you’d like a pass to. Something along the lines of “Hey Corbin, I want in on that ticket to the place city here Outdoor Adventure Travel Show. Also you’re handsome.

Or Tweet: “@ibackpackcanada – Enter me in for a ticket to the @outdooradvshow #contest in #Toronto” (Please replace Toronto with Calgary or Vancouver if you’d rather attend those)

Contest closes: February 12th, 2015

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How to Survive 2 Day Train Trips Like a Champhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-survive-2-day-train-trips-like-a-champ/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-survive-2-day-train-trips-like-a-champ/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:50:46 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5372 One of the best ways to truly see Canada is by train. By traveling with VIA Rail you’re able to truly appreciate the vast distances of this massive country. While it is in my opinion the most romantic way to travel, after 24 hours on a train you can start to feel a little too […]

How to Survive 2 Day Train Trips Like a Champ is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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One of the best ways to truly see Canada is by train. By traveling with VIA Rail you’re able to truly appreciate the vast distances of this massive country. While it is in my opinion the most romantic way to travel, after 24 hours on a train you can start to feel a little too “seasoned”. Having recently taken several multi day train journeys across Canada with VIA Rail, I thought it would be great to share some of my tips.

dill-pickle-chips

1. Pack food

VIA Rail is famous for it’s incredible Dining Cars, their food is second to none! Unfortunately they aren’t located on every train; instead, a Snack/Lounge Car will take it’s place which does serve pre-made meals and offers snacks and beers; however, if you want something a little more healthy than pizza, beer, or a bags of chips, I would suggest making a stop at a grocery store and pick up some fruit or veggie trays. Or for those more adventurous, consider sampling some Canadian Junk Food.

On 2 day journeys this is particularly true. Stops are few and far between, and having something set aside to snack on can make all the difference in your comfort level.

macbook-pro-retina

2. Power can be a Commodity

VIA Rail’s cars are for the most part from the 1950’s. Despite their age they’re still comfortable and ride the rails as smooth as ever. But like anything built in that generation, certain things weren’t included off the assembly line that today many feel might be a necessity. For instance, the thought of each person requiring an outlet to power a laptop or charge your phone wasn’t at the front of engineers minds.

Fortunately VIA Rail has outfitted most of the lounge & snack cars with at least a couple outlets for passengers to share, as well as providing each economy seat with an outlet; however, if you travel in the berth section, you may find yourself confused as there are no outlets in this section. Working from the comfort of your berth or watching a movie in bed is pretty much out of the question unless your computer can hold a charge for more than a couple of hours.

Riding in Economy and working is surprisingly comfy so you might be better off going that route should you require to keep up with work. While I can’t say enough good things about VIA Rail, I feel if somebody is going to pay more for a lot of extra comfort, an outlet per bed just makes sense.

via rail train shower

3. A few Travel Items to bring

If you’re planning on riding in economy for more than a day, there are a few things I recommend bringing.

  1. Earplugs – drowning out the noise of children and the occasional loud train whistle can make for a better sleep.
  2. A good book or two – what better way to kill time on a multi day train ride.
  3. Baby Wet Naps – Feeling a bit gross in economy after going a day without a shower can make travel quite uncomfortable. Keep your face, hands, or body clean with the help of these trusty fellows.
  4. A pillow or Pillowcase stuffed with some clothes – Sleeping in economy can be difficult, having a neck pillow, or a pillowcase stuffed with some clothes can give your neck some extra support on these long train rides.
  5. Toiletries – such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc
  6. A Change of Clothes 
  7. Music 
  8. A camera
  9. A laptop – if you plan on working or watching movies on the train, a laptop is a must.

4. Stay Connected without Wifi

Many people are shocked to find out that VIA Rail doesn’t have Wifi on all trains. Given the remote areas that the train goes through, it’s fairly easy to understand why that is. While it would be nice if Wifi was as prominent on trains in the rest of Canada as it is in the Corridor (Windsor Ontario to Quebec), there is an alternative.

If you have a smartphone that allows tethering (iPhones, Androids, newer blackberries, etc) along with a plan that allows it, you should be able to stay connected and quickly grab your emails as you pass through a region with 3G. Sometimes these hot zones can be quite small, so play it smart. Grab what you need online and then leave the less important things (i.e. updating Facebook status) until you’ve got what you’re after.

Pro Tip

Consider phoning your cell phone provider to temporarily upgrade your data usage for the month that you’ll be traveling with VIA Rail. I had my plan temporarily upgraded to include 6gb of Data, unlimited long distance, and all the other bells and whistles you could really need, all for under 90 dollars a month. As soon as the travels were done, I called them up and went back to my regular cell phone plan.

5. Get Comfy and Meet your fellow passengers

Two days is a long time, and while you may plan on finishing a book, don’t be afraid to wander to the snack car to grab a beer and converse with some fellow travellers. I’m always surprised by how easy it is on the train. Socializing while being transported from one place to another isn’t typically done; however, VIA Rail doesn’t just break the mould, it completely shatters it. Where on planes you’re encouraged to stay seated at all times, and bus’s tend to be rather quiet, VIA Rail is fine with people walking around. Stretching your legs and meeting new people is half of the experience. You’ll find that you’ll meet some interesting people from all walks of life that may end up being a new friend by the time you get to the next station.

7. Ask Questions

The staff on VIA Rail are known for being some of the friendliest people, if you find yourself starring out a window, asking yourself “What am I looking at?” – stop an employee and ask them. They ride these routes countless times, and most have a superb understanding of the routes the train takes.

rocky mountains trains via rail

8. Relax

Part of the beauty of train travel, is that your brain isn’t required to be “on” at all times. There will be times when you’ll think “Well, I dont have to worry about the next stop, as my stop isn’t in another 20 odd hours”. Once you’ve come to terms with the speed of trains, you’ll soon realize that it’s okay to shut off for a few hours. Catch up on sleep. Catch up on a book. Travel doesn’t always have to be “Go! Go! Go!”. With the gentle rocking of the train, the rhythmic clicks caused by sections of rail, the distant sound of a train whistle, you can’t be held to blame for nodding off, so enjoy it!

Special thanks to the folks at VIA Rail for having me aboard their train and giving me access to shoot photos & video. 

How to Survive 2 Day Train Trips Like a Champ is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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These 15 Balaclavas Will Make You Laugh and Keep You Warmhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/15-balaclavas-will-make-you-laugh-keep-you-warm/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/15-balaclavas-will-make-you-laugh-keep-you-warm/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 00:55:40 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6924 Whether you’re keeping warm on the slopes, shovelling the driveway, or hiding your face from your upcoming bank heist. A balaclava is a must-own item for anyone dealing with cold weather. While you can always find a plain jane face-warmer at just about any outdoor store, sometimes you want something more. Something quirkey, weird, fightening, […]

These 15 Balaclavas Will Make You Laugh and Keep You Warm is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Whether you’re keeping warm on the slopes, shovelling the driveway, or hiding your face from your upcoming bank heist. A balaclava is a must-own item for anyone dealing with cold weather. While you can always find a plain jane face-warmer at just about any outdoor store, sometimes you want something more. Something quirkey, weird, fightening, or just downright weird. Make yourself and those who see you laugh with these 20 awesome balaclavas.

The Beardski Prospector Ski Mask Balaclava

Inspired by the gold-prospectors of the Klondike gold rush. The Beardski Prospector Ski Mask is water resistant and washable ski mask that will keep you looking stylishly hilarious and incredibly warm. Made with thermal fleece to keep you warm. This balaclava has adjustable attachment flaps, meaning one size fits all. This realistic beard face warmer is going to rock you socks.

The Free Fisher Knit Beard Face warmer

Find the realistic beard balaclava too creepy? Go quirkey with this knitted beard variety. Perfect for skiers, snowboarders, or cold people that can’t grow their own beard. Your face will thank you. The Free Fisher Knit Beard comes with both the tuque (or knit cap for you non-Canadians) along with the facewarmer portion.

Call of Duty Balaclava

COD players and winter-haters will rejoice with this awesome balaclava. Scare children, or just look like a total badass with this silk screened Call of Duty “Ghosts” Balaclava. I would like to add that this would be the perfect face warmer to pwn some n00bs on the slopes.

Cold Avenger Expedition Balaclava

I recently read that workers in Antarica that have to be outside for long periods of time have to breath in air from inside their jackets using a funky tube system. The ColdAvenger Expedition Balavlaca is sort of a consumer-take on that. Avoid breathing in cold air by breathing in air that’s been warmed up by your body. This type of funky / freaky balaclava is supposed to keep your core temperature up in the coldest weather. While more normal than the others, it’s included just because it makes me think of Darth Vader or something out of Battlestar Galactica (great show btw).

Creepy Clown Neoprene Face Mask / Balaclava

Keep your face warm and your friends thoroughly freaked out with this creepy clown neoprene balaclava. Fully reversible, this face mask stops extreme cold and wind. Comfortable openings for eyes, nose, and mouth.

America Face mask

Whether you’re American or not, wearing this red white & blue flag-styled balaclava can make just about anyone want to say ‘MURICA. This American Flag Balaclava could be a great mask to take along with you if you ever find yourself snowboarding abroad. Show a little American pride and don’t forget to sing the Star Spangled Banner if you find a crowd staring at you.

Santa beard balaclava

Ho ho ho! This Santa Beard Balaclava is a festive variation of the above bearded balaclavas. Great for that special time of year, or simply to show you kids that santa can compete with the rest of the snowboarders on the mountain. Match this with a red winter suit and you’ll be ready to take all the milk & cookies.

Venom Face mask

While this Venom Balaclava doesn’t technically use the official Marvel branding of “Venom”. It’s clear to any 90’s era Spiderman cartoon watcher that this is Venom, Spiderman’s nemesis. Show some teeth on the snowboard, psych out competitors, or just embrace the evil that is Venoms alien-goo lineage.

Bloody face mask

Nothing gets attention from passer-by’s like a bloody face. Save yourself a nasty face-plant and wear this Bloody Face Balaclava. From afar it does a surprisingly good job at convincing people that you just took a beating. As you get closer, you’ll be sure to crack a few smiles.

Monkey Face Mask / Balaclava

Embrace one of our closest cousins in the animal kingdom with this incredibly awesome Monkey Face Balaclava. Extra points goes to anyone who can pull this one off while imitating monkey sounds. You’ll either be the funniest looking fellow on the slopes, or the most annoying.

Yellow smiley moustache face mask

Support Movember all winter long with this oddly creepy and somewhat amusing Moustache Face Mask. The bright yellow face will ensure you’re easily recognized from afar. Nothing says “gentleman” quite like this moustache. Clearly a balaclava for the sophisticated skier or snowboarder.

Cthulhu / Zoidberg / Octopus Balaclava

I’m not completely sure what this weird looking Octopus Balaclava is all about, but all I know is that I like it. Inspired either by the elder-god Cthulhu, or perhaps Futurama’s Zoidberg, this tentacle face balaclava is sure to turn some heads.

Viking Balaclava

Nothing says badass of the mountains like a Viking Balaclava. Conquer and pillage the slopes all while looking like a very odd, very warm Viking. The perfect gift for anyone with family roots from Denmark, Norway or Sweden.

Creepy Bear Face Balaclava

Ever wanted to give a child nightmares? This Creepy Bear Face Balaclava is the perfect gift for that. Or… I guess… maybe fans of Care Bears? I’m not even sure – all I know is this balaclava creeps me out and makes me chuckle.

Sideburns Moustache Face Mask

Fan of sideburns? What about moustaches? Hate the idea of being without your facial works of art? Then this very weird sideburns-moustache face mask is perfect for you. Stay warm and grab some attention on the slopes, or just while you’re out shovelling your driveway.

Have you come across any other awesomely weird / freaky / funny balaclavas or face masks? Share them in the comments below!

These 15 Balaclavas Will Make You Laugh and Keep You Warm is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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5 Snowboarding Tips That’ll Keep You From Dyinghttp://ibackpackcanada.com/5-snowboarding-tips-keep-you-from-dying/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/5-snowboarding-tips-keep-you-from-dying/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 20:03:43 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6999 We’re going to talk about snowboard safety here – no, wait just there. Don’t go clicking away. Safety isn’t the most exciting topic to write about – I know, but if you’re new to the sport, or just a smart ass know-it-all who’s too cool for helmets, let’s get things straight. This sport is a […]

5 Snowboarding Tips That’ll Keep You From Dying is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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We’re going to talk about snowboard safety here – no, wait just there. Don’t go clicking away. Safety isn’t the most exciting topic to write about – I know, but if you’re new to the sport, or just a smart ass know-it-all who’s too cool for helmets, let’s get things straight. This sport is a somewhat riskier sport than most with a high rate of injury. Adrenaline causes people to make some questionable decisions, and even before that kicks in, we can all sometimes get a bit cocky. So in an effort to keep you from dying on the mountains this season, I wanted to share 5 snowboarding tips that’ll keep you from dying.

snowboarding-safety-tips

Hey cool helmet. You like safety or something?

Gear Up with Quality Snowboard Equipment

You’ve got your snowboard, bindings, boots, what else do you need? First and foremost – grab a helmet. Don’t be a dummy. If they’re cool enough for the pros, they’re cool enough for you. Now I’m the first to admit, I used to never wear a helmet. My reasoning was that since I didn’t plan on doing backflips, or anything more crazy than a 180 here and there, that it just wasn’t needed.

For 13 years of snowboarding I got on fine. I’m not sure if it was my growing maturity, or the one face-plant where I knocked my head on the ground heard enough to freak me out. But I decided then, that not wearing a helmet was just stupid. I remember thinking to myself “What if I broke my skull! I’d be screwed”. I didn’t want to get carried off the mountain. That would be far more embarrassing than wearing a helmet.

Get properly fitted for all the gear you need. Talk to a local snowboard shop or take your things in and get their opinion. If you’re new, you might want to consider investing in some wrist-guards, knee-guards, and if you might even want the hip-guard/butt-guard combos that I’ve been tempted to get. If you’ve ever hurt on your tailbone, you’ll know that these aren’t as silly as they look.

crabbe-mountain-snowboard-newbrunswick-6

Couple of Buddy’s

Use the Buddy System

If you’re unfortunate enough to injure yourself seriously, or do something as goofy as losing your snowboard because you forgot to wear a snowboard leash, the buddy system is going to be your lifeline. Don’t snowboard alone. Stay within shouting distance of a friend at all times, and regularly check to be sure you’re still snowboarding with the guy or girl you rode up with. It’s an easy system, but it works.

Don’t be a Dick

This is just a good philosophy in general, but in terms of snowboarding. Avoid dickish behaviour. Dickish behaviour can not only get yourself injured, it can also hurt others. Plus it’s just super irritating. What might you ask is dickish behaviour?

  • If you’re chatting with a friend in front of the off-ramp of the chairlift, you’re being a dick.
  • If you’re skiing or snowboarding in a wall-like fashion, preventing people from easily being able to get by, you’re being a dick.
  • If you’re cutting people off going downhill, yes, you’re being a dick.
  • If you’re riding within a couple arms reach of someone else, you’re not just being a dick, you’re being a stupid dick.

It’s fairly simple, just be courteous and watch your surroundings. Oh, and if you can avoid all of the above, that would be great.

snowboard-trails

Stay on the trails

Each year we hear about some poor soul that ended up out of bounds. Most times the story ends on a sad not. Either they get turned around and lost, or hurt themselves bad enough that they couldn’t get back to the trail to be found. People go missing for days, some are never heard from again. Groomed trails keep people safe. No, they might not always have the freshest pow (that’s a cool-guy-snowboarder term for “powder”), but they’re maintained, and are regularly watched out over by Snow Patrol. Break an arm on a trail, you’re going to get help. Break one out of bounds, and you might be there a while.

Just note, as soon as you cross that line into the out of bounds, you’re signing your life away. I personally advise you to stick within the mountains trail system. Safety first!

ski-resort-fire

Respect Your Limits

As adrenaline courses through your veins, it’s sometimes possible to think you’re invincible. New snowboarders on their 2nd day of snowboarding find themselves biting off more than they can chew on a black diamond. Avoid taking on something you’re just not ready for. You’re more likely to hurt yourself, and you’re really not going to enjoy sliding on your butt all the way down.

This rule doesn’t only apply for trail colours. If you’re new to snowboarding, or it’s your first weekend trip back. You’re going to be sore. Expect it. Sometimes you have to listen to your body instead of your brain. You’re brain is going to urge you to get the most bang for buck, hit as many runs, keep up with your friend that gets out every other weekend. There is no shame in calling it quits a run or two early if it means you’re going to be able to get back on your board the next day.

You can read all of the snowboarding safety tips you can find on the internet, but at the end of the day, common sense goes a long way. Use your brain, trust your gut, but enjoy yourself!

This post was published in collaboration with SecuriGlobe Travel Insurance. Check them out if you’re in the market for some quality travel insurance.

5 Snowboarding Tips That’ll Keep You From Dying is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Newlywed 101: Planning a Trip Without Hasslehttp://ibackpackcanada.com/newlywed-101-planning-a-trip-without-hassle/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/newlywed-101-planning-a-trip-without-hassle/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 17:54:44 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6967 Newlywed 101: Planning a Trip Without Hassle is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Long-wedded couples make marriage look easy, but every pair of spouses will tell you that what they know they learned while they were newlyweds. It may be called the honeymoon period, but the first few years after marriage are supposedly the most difficult to survive. While you may continue to spend lazy weekend afternoons simply gazing into other’s eyes, it’s likely your fights will be explosive — drastically more intense than you’ve ever experienced.

wedding-couple

Still, each make-up is another milestone on your road to a happy marriage, and there is no more exciting milestone than your first big vacation as a married couple. Any trip could be a major source of conflict for the unprepared, but armed with your newlywed spirit (and a few tips and tricks) you can survive and start planning your travels for years to come.

Plan, Plan, Plan

For some travelers, mapping out destinations and making preparations is half the fun of a vacation, while for others, the adventure and excitement of spontaneity is what makes a trip worthwhile. In this case, the planners have it. Couples who hop on a flight without an itinerary will encounter conflict quicker and more frequently, which dramatically increases the chances of a big blowout.
Take time with your new spouse to brainstorm ideal destinations and sketch out a schedule. For impulsive travelers, the itinerary can be rough and flexible, but it is crucial that a list of activities and accommodations be assembled beforehand. You might join together to peruse a list of typical newlywed destinations or discuss locations each of you have always wanted to visit. No matter how it gets done, you cannot neglect this crucial step in a stress-free first vacation.

Coordinate Luggage

This doesn’t mean your suitcases should be the same color; rather, you should be packing comparable items so your luggage weighs roughly the same. Some guys have a habit of throwing a toothbrush in with a bag of socks and being ready for six months of travel, while some ladies worry about lacking the perfect outfit and end up bringing eight pairs of shoes. When she has to provide him with backup sundries and he has to carry her one-ton bag across a continent, there are bound to be hostilities.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling for a weekend or three months — you both should do your best to pack light. Make sure you have similar styles of clothing so one of you won’t be out-of-place in any joint social activity, and besides the essentials (including all hygiene products) you should have enough to last you a trip of any duration.

montreal-smoked-meat-sandwich-schwartz's

Eat in Moderation

A major part of travel, alone or with a partner, is experiencing another culture’s culinary style. Unfortunately, food can be a significant point of tension for many individuals, and the frequency and quantity of meals can spark disagreements during even the most romantic and serene of vacations.
The fact is that the act of eating can be both bonding and alienating, depending on the circumstances. Whenever one of you develops a hankering for a snack, the other should never feel pressured to indulge as well. Still, be open and sharing with food so you can make dining a community affair.

Understand the Budget

Newlyweds are known for lacking excess funds, which can make travel much more difficult. When every little penny has been allocated to meals, lodgings, and activities, there is little room for one partner to experiment with money on an unplanned expense. If one spouse is using more than his or her fair share of the budget, tempers will surely flare.

Before you leave, talk about your financial situation, and make a list of priorities for your expenses during your trip. By having expectations about how the two of you are going to spend funds, you shouldn’t have any surprises from your bank account when you get back home.

canoe-wife

Be Patient and Compromise

If you’ve survived your relationship long enough to make it to marriage, you know that a successful coupling is all about the give and take. One spouse simply cannot overrule the other’s thoughts and opinions, in anything, but especially during travel, without creating resentment and sparking dispute. As long as you remember your mutual love and respect even through the challenging times, you should have the best vacation of your lives — until the next one, that is.

Newlywed 101: Planning a Trip Without Hassle is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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How to Start a Wildly Successful Travel Bloghttp://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-start-successful-travel-blog/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-start-successful-travel-blog/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 12:47:44 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6733 Someone recently emailed me asking how to start a travel blog. They wanted to know, can you make money travel blogging? Is blogging a hobby or a career? What steps do I take to become successful? Which companies should I trust? I sometimes take for granted my years of experience in the blogging industry. While […]

How to Start a Wildly Successful Travel Blog is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Someone recently emailed me asking how to start a travel blog. They wanted to know, can you make money travel blogging? Is blogging a hobby or a career? What steps do I take to become successful? Which companies should I trust? I sometimes take for granted my years of experience in the blogging industry. While I might not be the most famous blogger around, I’ve made enough mistakes to know what works, and what doesn’t. I can tell you that travel blogging isn’t for the feint of heart. It’s hard work. But the memories and experiences you gain drumming up your next post is worth every ounce of stress. Let’s get to work!

travel-blog-name

Choose a Blog Name. Research it. Buy the Domain

Once upon a time it was recommended to choose a name with a relevant keyword in it. If your travel blog is going to be solely about Canada, it was recommended to include Canada in there (Hence why my blog’s name is what it is). Nowadays, search engines are smart enough not to rely on something so arbitrary. Think of how many popular blogs / websites are out there with non-relevant keywords in the domain. Smashing Magazine isn’t about Smashing things, it’s about design, development, and web. Yet they’re wildly popular in that industry. Come up with a domain name that’s catchy. Something that rolls of the tongue, and is easily recognizable and memorable.

Then, most importantly, research the ever loving crap out of it. Is there somebody blogging under that name already? Is it too close to another name that could cause people confusion? Are there other sites that appear to be much more established that might make ranking high when users search “Your Cute Blog Name“? If so, that may slow down the speed at which Google starts recognizing you. Don’t just check Google, consider checking out alternative Search Engines too. When you’ve done that. Check out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Can you use that name to create a consistent branding experience.

Lastly, assuming you’ve done your homework, hop onto a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap and check to see if the .com is available. While .ca or .net’s and even the new .travel TLD’s (Top Level Domains) are available, Search Engine Optimization best practices says to aim for .com if available. Though really any will do given you publish good content and market it right.

Purchase Hosting for your Travel Blog

Every website needs hosting. While you can setup a blog on something like blogger or live journal, if you want to take blogging serious, you’re going to want to use a self-hosted install of WordPress. Trust me, it’s easier than that just sounded. Buying hosting from a reputable company is key here and will make your life easier in the long run.

What is hosting?

When you type in “www.yourfriendstravelblog.com”, the domain name is being directed to an IP address. This unique identifier is tied to a hosting server somewhere at a large datacenter. Think of it like a computer, because that’s what they really are. When you load that website, there are files that make up that site. HTML CSS, images, perhaps some javascript. All those files are stored on this “computer” and are served to you when you access them via that domain name.

Pricing can vary, but most entry level hosting companies will charge about $4.00 per month up to $30.00 per month. If you enter the big leagues in blogging, you’ll eventually want to go with a VPS (Virtual Private Server) or a Dedicated Server. But you really need to be able to justify it, as they are not cheap.

trusted-hosting-company

Trusted Travel Blog Hosting Companies

There are countless web hosts out there. You can shop around, but in my experience as a travel blogger and web developer, my best experiences have been with these three companies:

  • HostgatorStarts at $3.95 per month

    This company is decent. Not great, but passable. It’s who I’m currently using with I Backpack Canada. Just be warned, their customer service speed has really gone downhill since being bought out by EIG. Nasty wait times if you need a hand.

  • SitegroundStarts at $3.95 per month

    Astounding customer service. Super fast, super friendly. My new favourite hosting company that I’ve been recommending to everyone lately.

  • WP Engine – Starts at $29.00 per month

    More expensive, but you truly get what you pay for here. I’ve seen semi-slow sites turn into blazing fast sites when migrated onto their server.

(disclaimer: the hosting links above are affiliate links, allowing me to make a small percentage off any sales I send to them. If you don’t want to support me, that’s okay. But you’re going to have to google their names on your own.)

dns-settings

Point your Domain to Your Hosting Account

When you purchased a hosting account, you’ll be given your hosting setup details, including two important unique addresses, called your “NameServers”. You’re going to have to login to your domain registrar account (i.e. GoDaddy or Namecheap) and edit your DNS settings on your-domain-name.com. In that screen you’re going to find two input fields where you can paste each of the unique name server addresses. This instructs your new domain to point all DNS settings, including A records (the record that points your-domain-name.com to the hosting account), MX Records (these control your email for x@your-domain-name.com) and a few other unneeded DNS settings that you shouldn’t ever need as a blogger.

Once those are saved, it can take upwards of 24 – 48 hours for your domain name to start being directed to your hosting account. Though in my experience it’s rarely over 8 hours, but maybe I’m lucky. Until your domain propagates (i.e. the settings are finished doing their thing) you won’t be able to touch your website without the help of a hosts editor like Gas Mask. I’m not even going to go there, but if you’re advanced enough to edit your hosts file, you probably don’t need this how-to. So it’s better to just wait till your domain is ready.

Setup & Install WordPress

Your Travel blog is going to need a Content Management System (CMS). Something that lets you login and edit posts, and schedule them or publish them. Your posts, images, and content are all stored in a database that is accessible from a fancy screen that looks a bit like Microsoft Word meets… something way sexier than that. There are other blog CMS’s out there, but WordPress is king, as it has the highest adoption rate, largest group of community developers, and a fairly low barrier of entry to it. WP engine comes with WordPress pre-installed, but both Siteground and Hostgator and nearly all other web hosts will require some setup. Don’t worry though, it’s super easy!

Get Help

What many people don’t realize is that Tech Support staff at hosting companies will happily perform this setup for you. So hop on their live chat, ask them to install WordPress on the domain name your-domain-name.com and sit back.

Do it yourself

If you’re more hands on and want to learn how to do this yourself. Just open Cpanel, look for “WordPress” (or Fantastico if your host is ancient), and follow the installation instructions. Login to your-domain-name.com/wp-admin and get blogging

Install a WordPress Theme

Okay so when you go to your-domain-name.com you can now see the ugly black/white/green default wordpress theme. Out of the box, WordPress comes with a couple of basic themes. They aren’t fun. So you’re going to want to change those. WordPress has a free theme repository that allows you to search, test, and install themes, direct from your WordPress Dashboard. While you can easily hire a Web Designer to do this part for you, if you’re on a budget, consider looking for a blog theme that suits you at:

If you’re going to go this route, just be prepared. You’re going to have to be ready to read the theme documentation in order to get your theme setup the way they have it in the demo.

time-to-blog

Time to blog, but what do I write about?

This is the million dollar question. Trust me, I ask that question to myself all the time. If you want to be an SEO whiz, sure you can do research at BuzzSumo and discover which content is hitting the mark with people. But take it from me. If you’re not writing about something you care about. It will be like pulling teeth. Find something you’re passionate about. Camping, culture, food, a destination. Then build post ideas around those topics. You might not win a pulitzer prize with a list style post, but they can really help speed things along. Some post ideas include:

  1. List Style Posts (i.e. 10 best Foods to Try when Visiting X)
  2. Essay Style Posts
  3. 1st Person Stories & Anecdotes
  4. Share a Youtube Video
  5. Photo Essays
  6. How to posts
  7. Advice Posts
  8. Weekly Posts (i.e. Foodie Friday, Photo Wednesday, Video Sunday)

Your first dozen blogs aren’t going to be that incredible. Not the end of the world. I look back on my older posts and cringe so very hard. But if I hadn’t learned from those, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Just get some words out on paper. Have a friend or loved one proof things over, and just hit publish! The beautiful thing about blogs, is if you don’t like it, you can remove it later, edit it, revamp it, or correct yourself – as I often find myself scrambling to do when readers comment on me confusing “traveller” vs “traveler”. C’est la vie!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It’s going to be tough to summarize SEO, as it’s so very huge and so very complicated if you don’t have a basic understanding. Before we get started, lets learn some terminology.

Organic Traffic: Traffic that comes naturally via search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. 

Direct Traffic: Users that manually type in your-website-name.com

Referral Traffic: Traffic that comes to your site via Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Email Marketing, etc

Backlink: A hyperlink from one site that points “back” to your website. 

analytics-google

Setup Google Analytics

When you create your blog, you’re going to want to setup Google Analytics right away to monitor your traffic. Google Analytics will give you valuable insights into which posts on your blog are performing best, how your site is performing month-to-month, whether you have a “busy season” or not, and can provide clues about what type of content your readers really crave.

For instance, some of my most popular blog posts include my post on Canadian Junk Food, Bungee Jumping in Canada, My Ultimate List of Summer Music Festivals, My 13 Reasons to Ditch Airlines for VIA Rail, and my Westjet VS Air Canada VS Porter Airline Comparison. By seeing that I can see that readers like unique, quirky, curious, informative, and adventurous posts. Which makes me more inclined to seek out posts that might fit those post styles. That isn’t to say I’m not going to blog about other things. I once wrote a post on How to Make a Poutine, which for some reason took off and is not far behind those posts. Live & learn and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.

What’s really cool is that by looking at Google Analytics, I can see that certain types of posts draw in more organic traffic, some draw in more referral traffic from social media. The biggest thing you should do is just write. Write as much as you can about a certain topic. Use those keywords you’re trying to rank for in a natural way. Share your content on social media. Email family to share it. Encourage readers to share with fancy social sharing plugins.

seo-travel-blog

But how can I get more readers to my blog?

So you’ve written 50+ posts and just aren’t seeing your organic traffic numbers increase on Google Analytics. How can you please the search engines more and find more readers? It’s all about the back links! This is where you need to be creative.

Do:

  1. Request to guest blog on other blogs in similar fields
  2. Share your blogs URL in your social media, Facebook, linked in profile
  3. Submit your blog to blog directories (just avoid the spammy looking ones)
  4. Ask to be included on readers blogrolls
  5. Reach out to other bloggers and ask to be interviewed or to guest post

Don’t:

  1. Don’t buy backlinks, if you get caught Google can and will delist you
  2. Don’t Spam people / bloggers with copy & paste emails, it’s annoying.
  3. Don’t just share only your own posts on social media. Share others as well, and in turn they may repay the favour

If you want to learn more about SEO, check out the Beginners Guide to SEO by Moz. 

Reader Engagement

Writing posts that are easily shared, and easy to digest is key. Try to break up your posts with headers, images, and block quotes. People are more likely to share your content if its not only informative, but visually pleasing and easy to skim. You’re going to want to build a following. Give people the ability to follow you and your posts.

  • Sign up for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (down the road you can sign up to more, but start small)
  • Meet other bloggers online and in person
  • Talk to your readers. Thank them for RT’ing. Stalk them a bit and ask them about a photo. Be you.
  • Create a mailing list on Mailchimp or Aweber – this is key! Email marketing campaigns, while very much not the sexiest part of the marketing world, are still highly effective. Share your latest posts via RSS, encourage active members to enter a contest, share content, or just say hi to your most loyal readers!
  • Reply to comments & accept constructive feedback.
  • Avoid fighting fire with fire in comment flame wars, no matter how bad your day is going. Take it from me, you never feel like a winner after stooping to their level.

Join a travel blogging community

Consider checking out the Professional Travel Blogging Association. I was a part of the initial 50 bloggers that founded this organization. It aims to put bloggers in touch with media and industry and is a great way to make contacts in the travel blogging industry. I’m not nearly as active in “the community” as I used to be. But I think that just comes with the territory when you’re a lean towards the intrinsic side of the spectrum and don’t drink like a fish as many other bloggers do.

Monetization – Make Money Travel Blogging

Can you make money travel blogging? Absolutely! Will you be stinkin’ rich? Highly unlikely. Blogging isn’t a lucrative business to get into. Until you’re getting at least 10,000 – 15,000 unique visits per month, I wouldn’t even bother trying to monetize your site. It’s a lot of work, and you’d be better off just looking for paid writing gigs.

Google Adsense

Google Adsense gives website owners, bloggers, and publishers an easy way to place relevant, targeted ads on their website. They pay out based on impressions and clicks. I’ve read that on average most people receive a 0.1 – 4% CTR (Click-thru rate) on most ads. Meaning it takes a very large amount of visitors to make those ads pay out anything worth writing home about. Don’t expect big money from them unless you’re really bringing in the traffic.

Affiliate Links

Bloggers (including myself) regularly share affiliate link URL’s to tell companies “hey, dibs on a cut of that sale because I sent them to your site and they purchased that product because I sent them there”. It’s considered an incentive to publishers to share their products or services. I recently added an entire Affiliate Store on my blog, showcasing travel products I use, love, and/or trust that link up to Amazon. Any click throughs that turn into sales, Amazon cuts me in at 4% of the sale(though I can work my way up to 6% if I make enough sales per month). You might think “Wow, cool idea, he must be oprah rich“. Again, nope. I don’t want to go into too many details as I believe its against their TOS, but let’s just say they’re I’ve never made more than a six pack of beer off of them in a month. If you catch my drift.

Advertorials

The somewhat shadier side of publishing. Brands line up with bloggers, and say something along the lines of “We’d love to publish a piece on your site, and we’ll pay you to let us, all that we ask is you let us link back to our site”. The content they provide can be anywhere from mediocre to terrible, depending on the advertiser. I equate these pieces to “full page spreads” in magazines. They help pay the bills, but aren’t the publishers most proudest way to make money.

Text links & Banner Ads

Some companies are willing to pay for text links or banner ads that link back to their website. Aligning with relevant industries is key. When your blog gets popular, you’ll be surprised how many weird requests you get. I’d advise avoiding them unless you really need the money, and always vet the link. Ensure if you’re going to be sending readers somewhere, that the product / service they’re linking to isn’t something you wouldn’t use yourself.

Free or Comped Travel

I wasn’t sure if I was going to touch this. Because its awkward to say the least. I’ve ranted about it to friends and co-bloggers in the past over beer. Free travel is awesome. But does it skew your writing? Are you more likely to give a positive review of the tour, trip, experience, is free? Will you even say anything bad if it’s free? What if the hand that feeds stops feeding based on a bad review? What then? Can you travel without the help of freebies? Where do your own personal ethics lie?

I’ve taken free travel in the past. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I feel that I earned my reputation as a successful Canadian travel blogger, and was regularly invited to join trips and cover events, and destinations. I’m always sure to share on my blog which pieces were covered by thanking the organization. Does it skew my writing? I try not to let it. But it’s certainly the grey side of the travel industry.

Many, in fact, most bloggers will take some free tours, or free travel in some capacity. Does it effect their writing? Maybe not. But I know first hand that there were times where I felt obligated and encouraged at some points to not include bad reviews. So I encourage you to decide upon a stance before you find yourself in this dilemma.

Interested in more of this grey area? Consider reading Smile When You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer by Chuck Thompson. (Disclaimer: Yep, that’s an affiliate link)

Ebooks / Travel Guidebooks

Many travel bloggers expand outside of the travel blogging circuit and begin releasing their own eBooks. Sometimes they’re expanded versions of blog posts, other times they’re unique stories, how-to’s, or advice-style articles compiled into one thought out PDF. Prices vary from $10 – $40 depending on the quality and amount of content. Ebooks were rare to see for travel bloggers a few years back, but lately it seems like every other blogger has an ebook they’re selling. I’ve bought a few of them in the past, but having never launched an eBook myself I can’t speak much on sales. But I suspect that they require a larger readership in order to make them worthwhile.

How much money do travel bloggers make?

That depends who you talk to. I heard a couple years back at a blogger/writer conference that the average travel blogger makes approximately $3,000 per year. No, I’m not missing a 0 there. Three-thousand. That’s it. While yes, there are some very famous bloggers out there that have millions of followers, making butt-loads of money (by butt-loads I just mean a living wage), the majority of bloggers won’t make more than a few extra per year. The majority of travel bloggers have other jobs that allow them to travel. I’m a web developer by day, blogger by night. I have friends that provide content writing for businesses, others that teach english, some that bartend, pickup odd jobs, or have jobs that allow them to work remotely.

Travel blogging is not a lifestyle of riches. It has it’s perks though! You get to see the world, report on your experiences, share photos, meet new people, and explore when you might not otherwise have done so. You earn some tremendous memories from becoming a travel blogger. If you’re in it to make money, I’d advise you to re-adjust your expectations and treat this as a side-gig first. Give it a trial. Set a goal to go hard for 1 year. See if it’s for you. Most travel blogs don’t make it past the 6 month mark, or fizzle out when the writer goes domestic. I myself have nearly quit on several occasions. Am I rolling in it? No. Does it help pay bills? Ahhh, barely. Most goes towards student loans, but I can say without a doubt that I’m 3 long years away from paying those off, that’s in addition to having a full time job that pays well.

Start a Blog – Video Tutorial

This video tutorial on how to start a travel blog covers off just about all the bases. While he may be using bluehost, Hostgator or Siteground has a near identical setup.

Let’s Recap on Resources to Check Out

Just a reminder that this post has a few affiliate links peppered throughout. Any sales I send to these companies that I use often, they provide a finders fee in the form of a small percentage of the sale. If you’d rather not support I Backpack Canada, just google those business names and proceed as usual.

Questions about starting your own blog? Leave me a comment below or drop me an email!


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How to Start a Wildly Successful Travel Blog is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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