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Hilarious Travel Planning Memories with a side of Budget Travel Tips

13 Aug

A lot of people ask me how I afford such a pricey (MYTH!) travel endeavor. Listen folks, travel isn’t that expensive. Trust me! In fact, I definitely spend more money living in Canada for three months than traveling for the same amount of time in a faraway destination. You do need money upfront, which involves some saving, but it doesn’t have to stop you from doing fun things with friends or forcing you to live in a cardboard box. Long term travel is quite affordable. You just need to reflect on a few unnecessary items and lifestyle choices. For example, I decided to sell my car to fund my South East Asia trip. It might sound a little ridiculous to some people, but I was moving to the big city after traveling and I didn’t need a car anymore. Cars are luxury money holes. Reflecting on how to fund travel helps put life into perspective and your priorities in check.

Long term travel is a bit different. It requires you to cut a few strings. One way I can afford going on a 6 month adventure is by giving up my lovely studio apartment in Toronto. I’m moving out of my humble abode and moving back in with my family (cringe…..). But hey, every budget traveller needs to make sacrifices, even if they are a tad embarrassing. I could have found a subletter, but I wanted to be free from the shackles of my modern, cosmopolitan life. Sounds a little dramatic, eh? I simply didn’t want to worry about an apartment back home and a stranger doing unmentionable activities on my bed. You get the drift.

There’s a point to this little story….

While rummaging through my book shelf, I found an old notebook my travel partner/best friend and I used to jot down travel ideas and inspirations. Between the pages, I stumbled upon a hilarious doodle from over two years ago. Check it out! Continue reading

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Today

9 Jun

This week’s photo challenge is called TODAY. Now, the only rule about this week’s photo is that it had to be taken and published that same day. I’m a bit of a cheater, but all in due cause. I had an extremely late night dancing to old hip hop and r&b with some fabulous people at Levack Block, a Toronto bar located at Queen St. & Ossington Ave.

But all’s well, that ends well and here is my photo for this week’s TODAY theme… Continue reading

Internship blogging

23 Mar

Melissa To and Fro BloggingRyerson University‘s Master of Professional Communication requires all candidates to complete an industry internship. It’s one of the main components that persuaded me to apply for the program. I feel really lucky to have such a great internship position. Since early January, I’ve been interning with Siren Communications, public relations agency extraordinaire. Most of Siren’s clients fall into the ‘travel & tourism’ sector, which is ideal for yours truly. One of my many tasks is blogging and I thought I’d share two of my recent travel tips/advice posts:

Interested in learning the ‘highs and lows’ of Thailand’s crazy capital? Check out: Citified: Bangkok

Need travel advice about Peru’s Inca capital? Check out: Vacation Notes: Cuzco

Have any of your own tips about Bangkok or Cuzco? Leave a comment! =)

99 problems, but a blog ain’t one.

10 Jun

I have neglected this blog for quite some time. I’ve been a little busy, to say the least. Thankfully, there have been some major developments in my personal and travel life (i.e. lots of goodies to share!).

I’ve been slowly settling down in Canada. I must admit, it was difficult managing my ‘regular’ life after coming home from Southeast Asia. As time passed, I was feeling 10x more comfortable knowing that I’ll be settling Toronto – *was* being the key word. All of a sudden, a few challenges sprung up and I’ve spent the last month trying to reorganize my so-called ‘regular’ life. Continue reading

Booking flights… but not for myself (how depressing!)

5 May

I just want to cry when I log onto Orbitz or Expedia.

Lately, I’ve been back to my ol’ researching self, trying to find a decent flight from London(UK) to Toronto. Unfortunately, the flight is NOT for me – although I wouldn’t mind a Spring tour of England. The flight is for Stefanie. You may recall our final days in Bangkok when Stefanie’s passport and wallet were stolen, so as the rules of best friendship prescribe: I need to book Stef’s flight back to the homeland using my credit card. yay. Continue reading

Don’t rain on my parade

26 Apr

It’s my BIRTHDAY!! I’m sitting in a coffee shop (not the kind in Amsterdam, although that would be a story) and enjoying a delicious Americano while writing this overdue blog. Despite the dull, rainy weather, today is going to be a fantastic day! Last year, I was in Toronto for my birthday a mere week before backpacking Europe with my best friends. I’ve come full circle. My nomadic lifestyle has finally come to an end, for now. Continue reading

Sorting through it all

19 Apr

A few days ago, I walked to Ryerson University. It took me about an hour from my apartment, but I strolled leisurely through Chinatown. It reminded me of South East Asia. The men sitting on low stools eating out of styrofoam boxes, the duck carcasses hanging in the shop windows, the hole-in-the-wall bubble tea set-ups, the bins of spices and ginger… you can imagine the nostalgia I felt.

I suppose that’s one of the greatest things about living in Toronto – the ethnic diversity. For example, the other day I had a delicious bowl of pho from a Vietnamese restaurant. I loved staring into that steaming bowl of noodles and then squishing in a bunch of lime juice and hot sauce to make it my own original creation. The experience brought me back to those shady food stalls on the street. The only difference is that I paid 5x the price here! Continue reading

I want SUMMER

16 Apr

I want a backpack strapped to me
and a plane ticket in my back pocket.

April showers… more like snow.

5 Apr

Melissa Medeiros To and Fro

Happy April folks. My favourite month of the year. Why? Because it’s my birthday month, of course. This month is action-packed. I’ll be watching loads of streamed TV shows, working part-time, buying new clothes and apartment decor and wearing my party dress (maybe a few nights in a row). It sucks to be me this month…

It’s not that I don’t have a million things to do, but I’d rather take a break. I can’t believe I even have that option. Hurray for being stuck in student/career purgatory! I am slowly going through my Asia photos – rotating, deleting, enhancing, rotating, enhancing, deleting, deleting, crop, crop, crop!! It’s so tedious. I also recently made a Europe scrapbook/photobook project online. God, I love Groupon! Continue reading

Ryerson….what!?

28 Mar

Great news!! I’m accepted to Ryerson University for the Master of Professional Communication program. I thought I would have my package by now, but I couldn’t wait to share the news. I received a phone call last week from the program director confirming my acceptance.

It’s so intense. Two weeks ago, I had no idea where my life would lead. I didn’t know where I would be living, if I would be traveling more, whether to get a second job or another internship, or just lay low….. and then all of sudden one phone call changes everything. It’s certainly an offer I can’t refuse. The program is new, but highly competitive. There are two (kind of) similar Masters programs in Canada, one in BC and one in Nova Scotia – so you can imagine the demand. The University also offered me two generous scholarships and a guaranteed Graduate Assistant job. Insane…. Continue reading

Toronto

21 Mar

It’s been 11 days since I arrived in Toronto and I am finally getting a hold on things.

I started work this week – maybe that’s why. I needed time to readjust myself and find my old indentations on Toronto life. I missed my bed. There was a lot going through my head… Stefanie’s recent situation being one thing. She arrived safely and last I heard, she was out gallivanting with some lions. Good for her!!

I was able to see my family on Sunday – aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandma. It was amazing. I love them so much and it really put me at ease being surrounded by them, eating delicious food and sharing stories. Oh the food…. I haven’t gorged myself like that in months. It was the kind you could NOT get in Asia, too. Well, you could but it would taste awful. Continue reading

Back in my hometown

30 Aug

As I predicted, leaving Toronto was awful. It could have been much worse, if Sarah and Todd hadn’t offered to give me a ride back to Windsor. Our chit chat helped take my mind of the cutest pup and man I left behind.

I still cried, of course – but it was different. When I left for Europe, I think I cried more because of Oli. I was nervous he would not remember me or maybe resent me for leaving. I couldn’t explain to him that I would be back soon and not to worry. This time, I cried because it would be the longest Kyle and I have ever been apart – but I also teared up for Oli during his final tummy scratch. I’m a sucker for good-byes.

Now, I’m in Windsor and I’m trying to gather my things, do laundry, pack and spend time with friends and family – I also watched the Emmys (did anyone else think Dexter should have won?).

Our flight takes off Wednesday morning at 10:30am, which is actually pretty convenient considering I’m used to those dreadful 6:00 am departures. We’re flying Spirit. I know, I know – you are probably thinking, WHY!? But, we didn’t feel like paying an extra $100 for a flight with food. Screw it, we’ll bring our own snacks.

Tomorrow, I’ll pack and go out for dinner with the girls. I have been splurging a bit on food/drinks that I love because I know I won’t be indulging in them for some time. Double tall lattes and green tea frapps from Starbucks AND ribs and med bread from Moxie’s tomorrow. Yes, I already know what I’m ordering! I’m weird like that.

The next post will be from Lima, Peru! Farewell friends.

Checking off my to-do list

23 Aug

I leave for Lima, Peru in just over a week, but I’m leaving Toronto in just a few short days. It feels strange to have two distinct departure dates. My Toronto life has consumed me. Work, the city, friends, Kyle, Oli – leaving it all behind and going back to Windsor for a few days will be hard. Saying my goodbyes twice is no fun. I wish it was possible to leave for Lima directly from Toronto and have my family here to say goodbye.

I hate saying goodbye – and it shows. I become super antsy, anxious, and stressed just days before leaving. Sometimes, I even take it out on the people I love most, which makes no sense at all because they’re the ones I’ll miss when I’m gone. I don’t think I’ve really talked about this on my blog before, but actually leaving blows. Sure, once I arrive at my destination, all the excitement and sensory overload usually keeps my mind at bay – but traveling becomes all the more difficult when you have someone/something/some dog waiting for you back home. It can be a struggle. Continue reading

13 days before South America

19 Aug

I am one day past the two week mark. I am becoming more excited, but nervousness keeps creeping in. It’s not like I am completely new to this whole travel thing (as I’m sure you can tell), but every destination is different – every situation is novel. So, I guess I’ll have to embrace this feeling with an open heart and get a move on things.

I am trying to upload my Europe photos to Flickr, but for some reason, it doesn’t want to play nice and keeps shutting down my iPhoto. If there is anyone who can help out, it would be MUCH appreciated!

Stefanie has been in Toronto all week and we’ve been going over possible itineraries for our backpacking stint in South America. It took some blood, sweat and tears – well, maybe not tears but DEFINITELY sweat (from no A/C) and blood (due to a bike accident) to get a super duper awesome destination list going. I’m sure you’re all excited to read it! This isn’t in order, but is listed by country to make things a little bit easier. I linked some fun photos as well.

PERU
Lima / Miraflores,
Cuzco & Sacred Valley
Arequipa
Puno & Lake Titicaca
La Huacachina
BOLIVIA
La Paz
Rurrenabaque (Amazon Basin)
Sucre
Potosi (Highest city in the world)
Uyuni (salt flats)
CHILE
San Pedro de Atacama (driest desert in the world)
Santiago
Arica
ARGENTINA
Salta
Puerto Iguazu
Buenos Aires
Bariloche

I’m also thinking about traveling through Patagonia in Argentina to see some marine life, but I’m not entirely sure where to go between Buenos Aires and Santiago. I have about two weeks to get from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Lima, Peru, so there is room to take some interesting side trips and wander. I’ll be updating a few more times before leaving – so stay tuned!!!

The Countdown Begins

5 Aug

I’ve let this blog sit for a while now, but it’s time to rev her back up again. In just 3 1/2 weeks, Stefanie and I are jet setting (once again!) to a faraway destination. As you may have read from my previous blogs, we will be taking 20 hour bus rides, spying on alpacas, canoeing the Amazon River, sipping wine in Chile, eating steaks in Argentina and hiking pristine landscapes in South America all in 10 1/2 weeks. At least, that’s the plan and there is definitely more to it than that – which is the very challenge I’m dealing with as of late.

You think after a few gos, one would coast through planning their next backpacking trip. Well, not for me. I find it so much more difficult! Maybe it’s the type of trip I’m dealing with or maybe it’s the length of time I have – either way, planning my South America adventure has been more stressful than fun. The continent is massive. Look on a map. Now, take the distance from Windsor to Toronto (3 1/2 hours?) and compare that very distance between two cities in Peru. The only difference is that in Peru, it will take you 3X as long to drive. The roads are awful and there are lakes, mountains, desert and everything in between. The distances are so vast. From what I have figured out so far, I’ll be taking a few flights. I don’t know how many 23hr bus rides I can handle, especially if they are anything like the ones in Costa Rica!

When planning, I like to hash out ideas with people – get a second opinion, you know? With Stefanie on a road trip to the east coast of Canada, it’s hard to ask for her input. Thankfully, Stefanie is visiting Toronto for a week after her road trip. I hope we can get some things organized – at least a general route and a rough itinerary. The rest I can figure out on the road/in the plane.

I’ll update on how the planning goes. This week, my main concern is paying our volunteering fees (room and board, administration, etc.). I’ve decided to stay with a family one week and the volunteer house another. I’m super excited to try this out, but insanely nervous. I have ZERO experience teaching English, unless you count helping my little brother read. I need to think of some fun activities. Stefanie and I both agreed that we want to teach little kids! Mostly because we feel they won’t judge us. HA! Any suggestions of fun children’s games will be much appreciated!

The South American countdown begins folks. 27 days!!!

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