I Backpack Canada » Technology http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Mon, 25 May 2015 17:53:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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

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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

The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is Back in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver! 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!

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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!


Sign up to Hostgator Hosting

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

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Visit the Polar Bear Capital of the World With Google Mapshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/visit-the-polar-bear-capital-of-the-world-with-google-maps/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/visit-the-polar-bear-capital-of-the-world-with-google-maps/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 04:26:29 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6240 So the other day I found myself perusing some Canadian travel videos, and came across this little number. The folks at Google Maps visited Churchill, Manitoba, a favourite location of mine, and strapped their fancy camera’s to some of the rugged tundra explorer vehicles.  They captured some superb shots of the town, as well as some […]

Visit the Polar Bear Capital of the World With Google Maps is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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So the other day I found myself perusing some Canadian travel videos, and came across this little number. The folks at Google Maps visited Churchill, Manitoba, a favourite location of mine, and strapped their fancy camera’s to some of the rugged tundra explorer vehicles.  They captured some superb shots of the town, as well as some great video of polar bears. I was completely surprised that I hadn’t come across this yet. Perhaps I was on the road when this thing went out to the masses, or maybe I can blame it on me just living under a rock for the last couple of years hammering away at work. Either way, it’s worth showing to anyone keen on seeing polar bears in Canada.

Churchill is accessible by air or train (VIA Rail). I’d highly recommend the train ride from Winnipeg, through northern Saskatchewan and onwards to Churchill, Manitoba. It’s a 2 day trip, but a totally unique Canadian experience. Check out Frontiers North Adventures for tours in and around Churchill, and I can’t recommend Churchill Tundra House Hostel enough to keep costs down while you’re visiting.

Visit the Polar Bear Capital of the World With Google Maps is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Volunteer on Organic Farms in Canada with WWOOFhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/volunteer-organic-farms-canada-with-wwoof/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/volunteer-organic-farms-canada-with-wwoof/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 15:07:24 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5889 IWWOOF, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is another great online community, similar to HelpX, but concentrating specifically on organic farmers. Volunteers interested in working on Organic Farms are invited to stay with hosts, where they’ll receive free accommodations and meals. Volunteers that sign up with a host in Canada can expect anywhere from 3 – […]

Volunteer on Organic Farms in Canada with WWOOF is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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IWWOOF, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is another great online community, similar to HelpX, but concentrating specifically on organic farmers. Volunteers interested in working on Organic Farms are invited to stay with hosts, where they’ll receive free accommodations and meals. Volunteers that sign up with a host in Canada can expect anywhere from 3 – 6 hours of work, depending on the arrangement with the host.

Volunteer In Canada: Free Accommodation on Organic Farms with WWOOF

wwoof-volunteer-canada-logoHosts keen to take on Volunteers allow you to easily get access to information about them. Including Region, smoking tolerance, what type of meals they prepare, percentage of food that they eat that’s organic, which languages they speak, how many people they allow to volunteer at once, and what type of work you can expect. On top of the free acommodation that hosts provide, you’ll also receive free meals, you’ll learn all about sustainable living, organic growing, and will get a sneak peak behind life as a farmer.

While the website is a bit of out of the dawn of the 90’s, the information is regularly updated. The membership cost at WWOOF is $50, or $62 for joint 2 year membership. WWOOF Canada allows you to preview their hosts before signing up, which can let you know if WWOOF might be right for you.

Volunteer on Organic Farms in Canada with WWOOF is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Best Camera’s For Backpackinghttp://ibackpackcanada.com/best-cameras-for-backpacking/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/best-cameras-for-backpacking/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 16:50:01 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5916 You’re about to set out on a multi-week, multi-month, or multi-year backpacking adventure. That’s awesome! But you’re going to need a camera. Buying a quality camera is one of the most important things you’re likely going to want to pack along with you. Ther’es a ton of choices, from point and shoot cameras, to DSLRs, there’s […]

Best Camera’s For Backpacking is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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You’re about to set out on a multi-week, multi-month, or multi-year backpacking adventure. That’s awesome! But you’re going to need a camera. Buying a quality camera is one of the most important things you’re likely going to want to pack along with you. Ther’es a ton of choices, from point and shoot cameras, to DSLRs, there’s something for every skill level out there. Tracking down the right type for you, your skill level, and most importantly, your budget, is key to ensuring you have some memories you can look back on years down your road.

Best Point & Shoots Cameras for Backpackers

best-point-shoot-backpackersLet’s start off nice and easy, and easy on the wallet. The point and shoot cameras. Wildly popular in the early 2000’s, they’ve been replaced by many people by iPhones, Androids, and DSLRs. But they’re not worth totally discounting. Point & Shoot Cameras have grown into their own. If you’re planning on anything beyond selfies, a quality point and shoot can capture shots that you might not have been able to at the risk of ruining your phone. Waterproof, dustproof, crushproof, and iceproof point and shoot cameras allow you to capture moments while participating in anything more exciting than walking from A to B.

Best DSLR Cameras for Backpackers

Point and shoots a bit too grandma for you? While you can get some great prints using point & shoots, if you really want to label yourself as a backpacker-photographer, you’re likely going to need a DSLR (or Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera, if you’re an über camera nerd). Just be warned, they can be a pain to haul around, but in my opinion traveling with a quality camera is worth the extra few pounds.

The two big hitters in the DSLR game are Nikon, and Canon. There’s a few stragglers in the mix, but thse two are those most common brands you’ll see. Personally, I use a Canon, but just Canon, Nikon, same diff in my opinion. Though I’m sure some die-hard photographer would rip me a new one for saying that. Covering the best DSLR cameras here is going to be tough. Totally depends on your budget, and skill level.

best-entry-level-dslr-backpackerEntry Level DSLR Cameras for Backpackers

If you’re new to DSLR’s and interested in learning photography but don’t have as large of a budget as you might like, these are some great starter DSLRs, perfect for your own travel photography.

best-entry-level-dslr-backpackersIntermediate Level DSLR Cameras for Backpackers

If you’ve got a bit more money kicking around, and know that you’re going to be take this whole photography thing serious, jumping right to the intermediate level DSLR’s might be a great idea for you.

best-expert-dslr-backpackerExpert Level DSLR Cameras for Backpackers

I wish I could say I know something about expert level DSLR’s, but I’ve only ever held them and shook my head in disbelief at the cost and the sheer weight of them. I have, however, asked some of my photographer backpacker friends and asked what they recommend. I can’t imagine pro-level DSLRs are that easy to travel with, but some do it day in and day out. Here’s a list of the best pro / expert level DSLR cameras.

Disclaimer: I like transparency. In order to be transparent I just want to let you know that the links found within this Best Cameras for Backpackers post are affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase an item within 24 hours of clicking one of these links, Amazon will share 4% of the purchase price with me, which will immediately go into paying back my Federal Student Loans. Not the most exciting place to spend my money, I know, but you do what you gotta do!

Best Camera’s For Backpacking is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Volunteer in Canada with HelpX and Trade Your Time for Accommodation & Mealshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/volunteer-in-canada-helpx-trade-time-for-accommodation-meals/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/volunteer-in-canada-helpx-trade-time-for-accommodation-meals/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 03:17:13 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5878 I’ve had a few people write to me lately, asking about ways to bring the costs of traveling in Canada down by volunteering. I also noticed that my Volunteer section was looking pretty flimsy. So let’s fix both those problems. If you’re on a gap year, or just doing some extended in travel within Canada, […]

Volunteer in Canada with HelpX and Trade Your Time for Accommodation & Meals is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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I’ve had a few people write to me lately, asking about ways to bring the costs of traveling in Canada down by volunteering. I also noticed that my Volunteer section was looking pretty flimsy. So let’s fix both those problems. If you’re on a gap year, or just doing some extended in travel within Canada, or North America, consider checking out HelpX. Their online community allows helpers / volunteers to match up with Hosts in a wide variety of areas. Hosts includes farms, hostels, hotels, homestays, orchards, ranches, and more. You can expect to work about 4 hours per day, which usually covers your accomodations and a meal.

helpx volunteer in canadaVolunteer in Canada with HelpX

Users have the ability to sing up for a free or premier account. Premier members at HelpX cost 20 euros (~$27.00 CAD), which allows you to be registered within their worldwide volunteer network for 2 years. Premier users have a few more options, as they’ll be provided with more detailed descriptions of hosts, as well as reviews of the hosts. This allows you to weed out hosts with a poor reputation. HelpX also features a Companion section, allowing long-term travellers to meet people online with similar interests, keen on volunteering and/or travelling together.

HelpX is limited to people 18 years and older. While under 18’s can join, they’ll need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Hosts also have the ability to vet helpers based on skill level, personality, and work ethic.

What to expect when Volunteering with a HelpX Host

HelpX is a bit like the Couchsurfing of Volunteering. There’s countless perks to volunteering with a reputable host. Many hosts provide not only some extraordinary conversations, but they will happily show you around their part of Canada. I’ve also heard of some that allow you to use their Quads, Boats, Canoes, etc, as they know you’ll likely want to experience what their province is all about while helping them out. Some will ask you to work longer hours, some won’t ask you to work much at all. It really just depends on the type of host you end up settling on. Read reviews on the host, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions. As with couchsurfing, just ensure that somebody you trust knows where you are at all times. But in my opinion, you don’t have much to worry about with HelpX. It’s mostly a lot of easy-going salt of the earth types of people that want to help travellers and get a bit of a hand with the day to day operations of whatever it is they run, be it ranch, farm, orchard, or hostel.

For more information on HelpX check out their Frequently asked questions and List of Volunteer Destinations in Canada.

Volunteer in Canada with HelpX and Trade Your Time for Accommodation & Meals is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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27 Backpacker Gift Ideas Under $50http://ibackpackcanada.com/27-backpacker-gift-ideas-under-50/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/27-backpacker-gift-ideas-under-50/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:49:13 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5783 It’s time to start thinking about Gift Ideas. Yes, Christmas season is almost upon us. If you or someone you know is a backpacker, gifts are inevitably going to cause you some headaches. I imagine most people are like me. You’re always looking for a deal. Something to keep the costs of this expensive season down, but […]

27 Backpacker Gift Ideas Under $50 is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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It’s time to start thinking about Gift Ideas. Yes, Christmas season is almost upon us. If you or someone you know is a backpacker, gifts are inevitably going to cause you some headaches. I imagine most people are like me. You’re always looking for a deal. Something to keep the costs of this expensive season down, but ensure smiles are still had by all. Here are some of the best gift ideas for backpackers under $50 that I was able to find this year!

Outdoors Lover Gift Ideas

Microfiber Travel Towel

A travel towel is a bit of a boring gift, unless you’re Douglas Adams. But everyone washes, or at least they should, and if they don’t, maybe this will be the subtle reminder that it’s time to hit the showers, ’cause you got some serious stank. Compression Towels are a great space saver for backpackers. The best compression towels are anti-microbial, fast drying, large enough to wear out of a shower or use on a beach, and don’t feel like you’re drying yourself with a piece of scratchy cardboard. While Compression Towels are never going to outshine a bouncy 100% cotton towel, if you’re a backpacker it’s a convenient sacrifice!

J.R.R Tolkien Compass

J.R.R Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, once famously wrote “Not all those who wander are lost“. But if you’ve ever been lost, you’ll know that wandering isn’t exactly the best way to be found. You need to be smart, tactful, and if you’re going to attempt a self-rescue, you’re going to need to make sure you’re heading in the right direction, which means you need a compass. Why not get a classy pewter compass that highlights this famous quote and inspires you to travel. Lord of the Rings fan or not, you can’t tell me that this gift isn’t the bee’s knees.

BlizeTec 5-in-1 Survival Knife

Whether you’re backpacking, camping, or trekking through jungles or woods, a knife can be the most convenient and valuable survival tool. This high tech 5-in-1 folding knife includes an LED Flashlight, Seatbelt Cutter, Glass Breaker, Magnesium Firestarter, and a nylon belt clip. Just be sure to remind the gift receive to stow this away in their luggage. Last thing you’d want is to forget this in your carry-on.

Zipka Retractable Headlamp


I still backpack with one of these, and have had it for over 5 years. It is hands down one of the most used items in my backpack. Whether you’re camping and digging for something in your tent, or you come back to your hostel late but need something from your backpack and all your dorm-mates are asleep. Pop this fellow on and be in and out, just be sure not to point this thing at anyone, as these little headlamps are surprisingly be bright. It’s a one size fits all retractable strap, so no matter how big your dome is, it’ll fit. Other headlamps have bulky elastic straps, which take up a lot of room in your pack.  There are brighter more heavy duty versions out there, but unless the receiver of this gift is a spelunker, this will do just fine.

Foam Camping Mat

Prevent loss of body heat and get your body off the cold hard ground with this easy to roll up foam camping matt. While there are a bunch of inflatable versions out there, some that even compress smaller than this, they can be a hit and a miss, and unless you get into the +$100 range they’re not worth the risk. Bang for buck, this mat should suit most.

Photography Gift Ideas

SD Cards

Not much to be said here. Every camera carrying traveller needs SD cards. The more the merrier. Just ensure you remind the gift receiver to backup often. Just because you have 32gb doesn’t mean you have to wait until its full to backup. Learn from me, I lost an entire trip to Fiji after some salt water wrecked an SD card with all of my images on it. Always make sure you buy class 10 SD cards if you’re using a DSLR or plan on recording video.

Shutter Trigger

Shutter Trigger’s are great for taking long exposure shots, or just snapping from a distance. They’re super small in size, and are very easy to sneak into the tiny pockets you never use in your backpack. Brush up on astral photography and long exposures for some amazon sky photos.

Camera Lens Cleaner


Keep those lens clean. There’s nothing more time consuming than trying to fix spots in Lightroom or Photoshop. This portable lens cleaner removes dust and spots from the lens. I use this one regularly before going out to do any extended amount of shooting.

Magnetic Viewfinder Magnifier

If you plan on shooting video with your DSLR, this magnetic viewfinder magnifier is the perfect way to really hone in on what you’re camera is seeing by monitoring the LCD. I used this exact model on my semi-viral video about Halifax, Nova Scotia. It really helps block out light, great for recording video during the day.

Lenshood

A lens hood can help immensely with glare, and on top of that, they make your camera look way cool. Make sure you get the right size for the lens most used by your photographer-gift-receiver. There’s countless types and variations on these fellows, and you can get them for very cheap.

Digital Light Meter

A good photographer knows that mastering light is the most important aspect of the art of photography. This digital light meter makes that science a big easier. Ensuring your white balance is set to capture the precise colours that your eye is seeing is something many people struggle with. These digital light meters make that process a heckuva lot easier.

Portable 2-in-1 Light Reflectors

For those who take a lot of portraits, light reflectors can be a great way to bounce light and fill in shadows, making for more clear and professional photos. They also make a terrific warning signal if you’re ever stranded on a tropical island.

Techie Traveller Gift Ideas

Detachable Magnetic iPhone Lens’

The travelling instagrammers out there will love these detachable magnetic iphone lens’. They include a fisheye lens, a macro lens, a wide angle lens, and a telephone lens. These suckers take some surprisingly unique and interesting photos. I used the wide angle lens quite a bit a year ago, but unfortunately after putting a case on my phone, I couldn’t use it anymore and managed to lose the lens amongst my clutter.

Phone / USB Solar Charger

A superb way of keeping your devices charged. Use the awesome power of the sun to charge your phone, mp3 player (do people still use mp3 players?), or any other USB powered device. Great for getting a bit of extra juice while you’re out camping or doing any extended amount of backpacking.

External Power Pack

Need something that can hold a little more juice and doesn’t rely on the power of the sun. This external power pack can provide you with a second charge for your phone or USB powered devices. Great for full day trips where you know you’re not going to be near an outlet for a while. There’s nothing worse than making the trek out to see something new and unique, only to have your battery die. #instafail

Wifi Detector Keychain

Quickly check if there’s a Wifi signal nearby with this handy little keychain that can easily strap onto a backpack. There’s a few apps out there that do something similar, and likely provide more details (such as whether the signal is open or locked). But in a pinch, something like this can be handy if you’re just walking about town and looking for internet access.

Portal Combination Computer Lock

There’s nothing worse than being at a busy cafe, catching up with family or friends online, when it hits you. Natures call. But your coffee is only half done, and you’re not done with being online. Don’t bother packing up only to unpack after you do your thang. Setup your computer lock, and strap it to the table. Of course you could always ask your cafe neighbour if they can watch something for you, but if you’re paranoid they might be the computer thief in the cafe, you better play it safe. Photos, personal information, and a lifeline to your family… best to just lock up.

Worldwide Travel Power Adapter

As you may know, power here isn’t always the same as power there. Take the confusion away with this simple to use and compact Worldwide Travel Power Adapter. When you’re dealing with expensive electronics, it makes sense to spend a bit extra on converters. The last thing you want is for this piece to short out and cause you grief on the road.

Hippie Traveller Gift Ideas

Yoga Mat Travel


Get your namaste’s on with this unique item any yoga practicer will love. Portable, lightweight, compact and very grippy travel yoga mat.

Baoding Chinese Stress Balls

Relax and calm your nerves with these unique baoding chinese stress balls. Are they useful to travel? Probably not. Are they good for stress? I like to think so.

Multi Purpose Buff / Scarf / Headband

Dusty desert? Freezing cold climate? Humid environment. These multi purpose buffs not only look cool, but are functional as well. I keep mine in my backpack at all times, and you’ll always see it on my face while I’m out snowboarding, or spending any extended amount of time outside in the -30 degree weather.

Laughing Buddhas Set

Whether you’re buddhist, or just like looking at the chubby little guy, this set of laughing buddhas are easy to pack, and a great set to place near your bed stand, on your fireplace, or to give as gifts on the road to remind your newfound friends to smile, be happy, and live & let live.

Wooden Incense Gift Box

Class up incense stick burning with this wooden incense gift box. Fill it up with some incense sticks for a cheap, yet cute gift. A compartment to hold your sticks slides out below. “You can also put your weed in there…”

Canadian Gift Ideas

2 Cans of North Hatley Maple Syrup

This gourmet pure Canadian maple syrup is the real deal. Not all maple syrups are created equal, but these cans are sure to delight just about anyone with a sweet tooth. Share these with Quebecois Expats and watch them melt into a puddle of “OMG’s”.

Canadian Junk Food

Dill pickle chips, all dressed chips, hawkins cheezies, kinder surprises, hickory sticks, big turks, coffee crisps, the list goes on. Surprise your loved ones with the gift of unhealthy eating. Check out my list of Canada’s Favourite Junk Food Items for more inspiration.

Bulk Box of KD

Nothing says I care about you like a bulk box of Kraft Dinner. Canada’s favourite budget friendly meal. I once read that Canadians consume the most KD per capita than any country in the world. Do I see that as a problem? Heck no!

Maple Syrup Candle

Relive the memories of your last batch of pancakes or waffles with this Maple Syrup scented Candle. While Candle’s aren’t exactly the most travel-friendly item to give to someone about to hit the road. It can be the perfect gift to share to someone leaving Canada to live and work outside of the country.

Suggest an idea for a Gift Below

I’m sure that some of these gifts are out there. But what-the-hey! They all seem like things I wouldn’t be upset to receive. If you have suggestions for other gifts under $50 please leave a comment below!

Disclaimer: Just a heads up! The links found within this Gift Ideas post are affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase an item within 24 hours of clicking one of these links, Amazon will share 4% of the purchase price with me, which will immediately go into paying back my Federal Student Loans. Not the most exciting place to spend my money, I know, but you do what you gotta do.

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7 Must-Have FREE Canadian iPhone and iPad Appshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/7-must-have-free-canadian-iphone-and-ipad-apps/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/7-must-have-free-canadian-iphone-and-ipad-apps/#comments Fri, 03 Feb 2012 15:52:19 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=3793 There are over 500,000 apps available in the iOS App Store, with downloads numbering over 18,000,000,000 to date! That’s a lot of zeros fellow Apple Fanboys & Fangirls. While I’m sure that 80% of the Apps on the App Store are completely useless, I’ve come across 7 apps in the remaining 20% that are perfect for anyone […]

7 Must-Have FREE Canadian iPhone and iPad Apps is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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There are over 500,000 apps available in the iOS App Store, with downloads numbering over 18,000,000,000 to date! That’s a lot of zeros fellow Apple Fanboys & Fangirls. While I’m sure that 80% of the Apps on the App Store are completely useless, I’ve come across 7 apps in the remaining 20% that are perfect for anyone spending any amount of time in Canada. So without further ado, I give to you 7 must-have Canadian Apps.

1. NFB Films for iPhone & iPad (National Film Board of Canada)

The National Film Board of Canada (or the Office Nationale du Filme du Canada if you’re French) is an Academy Award winning public film producer and distributor funded by the Canadian Government. They’ve produced over 13,000 productions in their long history, and have won over 5,000 awards. Being a Canadian organization, they have both French & English divisions, which means a LOT of multi-lingual content to consume.

NFB Films is available for iPhone and iPad, and has built in support for Airplay. The app has over 1000 movies available, including documentaries, animations, and full length feature films. If you know you’re going to be out of wifi range, you can even save the movies to your device for up to 48 hours for offline viewing.

Highlights include How to Build an Igloo, The Award Winning animation “Cat Came Back”, and William Shatner Sings O Canada.

2. Air Canada for iPhone

Hate keeping track of tickets but love flying? Air Canada for iPhone can give you a leg up over other travelers. This app gives you the ability to Check-In to your flight through you phone. If you’re still an old fashioned checker-inner no harm. There’s still plenty that you can get out of this app. From Finding & Tracking Flights, booking flights, upgrading to executive class, interactive shopping, to even selecting your seat on the flight.

If you fly Air Canada often, or have family who does, this is a great tool to keep in your pocket and help stay up to date on all relevant travel information.

3. Explore Canada Like A Local for iPhone

Need inspiration on where to go, what do to, and when to see it on your next travels through Canada. The explore Canada app is the perfect companion for exactly that. Browse by location, theme, user-submitted travel lists, or use their live map, which allows you to find what’s near you. The Explore Canada App integrates with Foursquare very nicely. This allows you to check in to hotels, hostels, tourist destinations, and scenic views extremely easily.

I’ve used this with great success in the past when visiting a new city. Big thanks to the Canadian Tourism Commission for building this app. It’s been a great inspiration for finding new things to see and do.

4. World Nomads French Language for iPhone

While this app is no replacement for taking actual french lessons, there’s enough in here to help you out in a pinch, should you be hanging out in the French parts of Canada. The World Nomads French Language App provides some basic phrases for everything from Food, Transportation, Introductions, and Safety. My personal favourite phrase World Nomads decided to include is “Ces drogues ne sont pas a moi!” – which translates to “Those drugs aren’t mine!”

5. CBC Radio App for iPhone

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has been a part of Canadian culture since 1936. The CBC Radio App is the perfect addition for any traveling audiophile or news fanatic. This app grabs live feeds from CBC Radio 1, CBC Radio 2, and CBC Radio 3. You can browse by musical genre, or by city. The app also allows you to listen on demand to Arts, News, and Regional programming. While all this streaming content is great, my favourite feature of this app is that it lets you find out the CBC Frequency for any city across Canada. One of my biggest beefs with CBC is finding their station in cities I’ve never been to. It jumps all over the place, so having an app tell me exactly where to turn my dial is awesome!

6. CBC Hockey iPhone App

If you’re a hockey fan that wants to be kept in the loop this app could be your new best friend. The CBC Hockey Night in Canada app lets you track upcoming games, scores, hockey news, schedules, and even watch video. You can even find out player stats throughout their career. This app is perfect for the regular hockey watcher or the die-hard GP measuring hockey fan.

7. TimmyMe iPhone App

Tim Hortons is a Canadian addiction. If you are amongst those affected by it’s meth-like qualities, this app should help you get your next caffein fix quick. TimmyMe grabs your current GPS locations and lets you know where the closest Tim Hortons is to you. This app works in both Canada and the United States. There’s a few other features, but in all honesty they’re pretty boring, like Nurtitional Info and your Tim Card Balance Check. This app really has one purpose in my mind – Find coffee near me, now!

Bonus! Whaddaya App – A Newfoundland Translator App / Soundboard

Hands down my new favourite app. While its not technically free, at $0.99 it’s just about. Simple, quick, and funny! Whaddaya App allows us mainlanders the opportunity to understand what the heck it is those Newfoundlanders are saying. For those who are unaware, Newfoundlanders tend to have a thick and unique accent. A must have app if you plan on setting foot on the rocky shores of Newfoundland & Labrador.

My favourite phrase I’ve picked up from this app is “Stay where ya’at ’til I comes where ya to!”, which roughly translates to “Stay There, I’ll be there shortly”.

Price: $0.99

This app is available for Android too!
Download Whaddaya App from the App Store

Have you come across any awesome free Canadian iPhone Apps? Share in the comments below!

 

7 Must-Have FREE Canadian iPhone and iPad Apps is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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