My Story

Hello, I’m Brittany! Welcome to my website.

Hello!

Hello! I’m Brittany. It’s nice to meet you.

My name is Brittany and I am a 25-year-old introvert, part-time independent traveler, healthy eater, and amateur photographer living simply near a small town in the Canadian prairie province of Manitoba. I love traveling to and exploring new places slower and in-depth, getting off the beaten path to discover hidden gems away from the main tourist areas and attractions, taking an absurd amount of photographs, eating and cooking healthy and simple plant-based and gluten-free foods and meals, having meaningful and unique experiences and authentic urban and outdoor adventures, and living my life to its fullest while making lots of memories along the way. Documenting my experiences, adventures and explorations through writing and photography bring me a lot of joy and fulfillment in life and I would love to share them with you on this blog! 

I travel, explore, eat, experience, wander and adventure while taking lots of photos and writing about it. This blog is a collection of stories, in-depth guides, reviews, tips/advice, plant-based & gluten-free recipes, and photography that I share from my travel adventures, local explorations & experiences, outdoor &  urban adventures, and life in general. Follow my adventures and journey through life! 

Admiring the view after climbing to the top of the Nohoch Mul pyramid at the Coba Ruins in Mexico!

Admiring the view after climbing to the top of the Nohoch Mul pyramid at the Coba Ruins in Mexico!

I enjoy taking photographs, learning about different cultures, languages and foreign cuisines, spending time in nature and engaging in outdoor activities (biking, hiking, camping), exploring my hometown of Winnipeg, MB, Canada and beyond, having unique adventures, and pursuing meaningful experiences wherever I go. I love traveling because it provides me with the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone in order to experience different cultures, explore new places, see new things, and try new foods and restaurants. 

When I travel and explore new places, I love doing so independently and responsibly; digging deeper into the culture and history while exploring a place in-depth; discovering off the beaten path places outside of the main tourist attractions; immersing myself in the local life and culture; and going on long photo walks as I wander and explore the streets.

Some other random things I love include: cats, street art, maps, fresh fruit smoothies, kombucha, tea, fresh produce, and local markets.

If you’re interested in reading the long version of my story, then please continue reading!

Sitting at the edge of the dock on a remote lake north of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

Sitting at the edge of the dock on a remote lake north of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

Educational and Employment Background

I graduated from high school in 2009 and began attending The University of Winnipeg. After four years of studying, papers and tests, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree (double major in Criminal Justice Studies and Psychology) in 2014. University was amazing and I loved learning new things every day!

Graduating from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Arts after 4 years!

Graduating from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Arts after 4 years!

Following university, I was hired into a full-time position as an administrative assistant within the federal criminal justice system, where I am currently still employed.

Even though I am working in the field that I studied at university, I still have no idea what I want to do with my life in terms of work that I would find purposeful, meaningful, fulfilling and challenging. I am hoping to eventually discover what direction I want to be heading in!

My Life in Manitoba

I reside near the same small town where I grew up and have lived my entire life – Stonewall, Manitoba – in the heart of the Canadian prairies.

Winter photoshoot in my yard.

Winter photoshoot in my yard.

Poncho photoshoot in my yard.

Poncho photoshoot in my yard.

I live on a three-acre property in the country with my family, just a few minutes away from the quickly growing town of Stonewall, which is situated about twenty minutes north of Manitoba’s capital city, Winnipeg. Our yard is surrounded by lots of trees, beautiful nature and wide-open fields. With such a flat landscape, I am able to witness some amazing sunsets and sunrises and even some incredible Northern Lights once and awhile!

We’re a hardy bunch of folks in Manitoba as we experience a wide range of weather, with extreme temperatures on both ends of the spectrum. For example, in the wintertime we frequently have days where the temperatures are -35 degrees Celsius or colder while our summers are warm (sometimes reaching +35 degrees Celsius or more) and beautiful.

A walk through the woods at Bird's Hill Provincial Park near Winnipeg.

A walk through the woods at Bird’s Hill Provincial Park near Winnipeg.

Winter photoshoot in my yard.

Winter photoshoot in my yard.

In my spare time at home, I enjoy: reading books and online articles while learning about a variety of topics that interest me; cooking healthy and delicious meals and baking sweet treats; exploring new places, finding hidden gems and re-discovering my favourite spots in Winnipeg while photographing and admiring them; spending time with my family and friends; drinking matcha tea; watching the occasional television show (it’s usually either The Walking Dead or a game show); hiking in Manitoba; eating at new restaurants in Winnipeg; wandering and exploring residential neighbourhoods and parks in Winnipeg; spending time in nature and admiring the beauty around me; bicycling on the gravel roads near my house; editing my photos; browsing local farmers markets in the summer and purchasing fresh and local produce; playing board and card games; gardening; cuddling with my adorable cat, Bella; watching inspirational documentaries and TED Talks; listening to music; and attending local comedy shows to have some good laughs.

Spending a day at the lovely Pineridge Hollow near Winnipeg with my mom.

Exploring alleyways in Winnipeg's Exchange District.

Exploring alleyways in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

I love street art and discovered a colourful wall in Winnipeg's Exchange District!

I love street art and discovered a colourful wall in Winnipeg’s Exchange District!

Travel

Flying over the Gulf of Mexico before landing in the Yucatan Peninsula!

Flying over the Gulf of Mexico before landing in the Yucatan Peninsula!

It’s definitely no secret that I love traveling, exploring and adventuring in new places! Just the thought of experiencing a new place and having a new adventure excites me greatly and I am fascinated by culture, language and history. I love independent, in-depth, and responsible travel, exploring off the main tourist path, and seeking adventures both locally in Manitoba and Canada and abroad.

I am a part-time traveler and I usually travel between two and four times per year to places within Canada and the USA or further abroad (most likely to a Latin American country). I love exploring big cities and wandering small villages; browsing local produce and handicraft markets; traveling independently and responsibly; digging deeper to discover off the beaten path places outside of the main tourist attractions; immersing myself in the local life and culture of a place; taking the time to go on long photo walks in a new place while wandering the streets; having unique and authentic adventures and meaningful cultural experiences; and learning about different cultures, languages and foreign cuisines.

I am currently on a mission to explore and discover more hidden gems in my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I love going on self-guided photo walks while wandering and exploring various residential neighbourhoods; discovering colourful and beautiful street art and murals; trying new restaurants and sampling new ethnic cuisines; relaxing and having picnics in local parks; visiting museums; and more.

Standing in front of colourful street art in Winnipeg's West End.

Standing in front of colourful street art in Winnipeg’s West End.

What I love most about travel is: having the opportunity to step outside of and expand my comfort zone; challenge myself physically, mentally and emotionally; experience and learn about other cultures; sample authentic foreign cuisines; meet new people who I can learn from and who inspire me; see and experience the natural, ancient, modern and artistic beauty of our world with my own eyes; and have unique experiences and adventures. I love experiencing new things and exploring new places every day during my travels. I also love how things considered to be routine and ordinary in my life at home, become adventures when I am traveling – things like navigating the public transportation system, getting money from the bank, driving, going to the market or grocery store and more. Travel and exploring new places makes me feel alive and I love the feeling of not knowing what to expect from the next day – what adventures I will have or who I will meet. I am passionate about pursuing experiences and making incredible memories which I will cherish forever.

My love for travel and exploration started at a young age and I have been obsessed with studying maps for as long as I can remember. When I was a child and teenager, my family and I would spend the summers going camping on the weekends to parks in Manitoba and Northern Ontario. We would also take at least one longer summer road trip which sometimes involved camping. My favourite family adventures include: visiting South Dakota (exploring the Badlands, touring a cave, checking out the western town of Deadwood, and admiring Mount Rushmore) and camping and hiking in the mountains of Banff and Waterton National Parks in Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana (walking across snowy glaciers in the summer and hiking on a narrow path along the edge of a mountain). My family and I also went on weekend shopping trips to the nearby cities of Grand Forks and Fargo (North Dakota) and Minneapolis (Minnesota) as well as the occasional road trip to Thunder Bay (Ontario) to visit family.

I went on a plane for my first time in 2007 for a quick one hour flight to Thunder Bay. I took my first international trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico in late 2011 with my parents and brother while staying at an all-inclusive resort for one week. That trip was amazing and it sparked a desire in me to travel more. I traveled to the same all-inclusive resort twice more (once in 2013 and another time in early 2015) before I started experiencing a desire to travel solo.

A selfie I took immediately after stepping off the plane in Cancun, Mexico on my very first trip abroad in 2011!

A selfie I took immediately after stepping off the plane in Cancun, Mexico on my very first trip abroad in 2011!

I had an amazing time in Mexico at the all-inclusive resort and the food was incredible!

I had an amazing time in Mexico at the all-inclusive resort and the food was incredible!

I toured the Mayan ruins of Tulum during my first trip abroad to Mexico with my family.

I toured the Mayan ruins of Tulum during my first trip abroad to Mexico with my family.

I loved bicycling around Playa del Carmen, Mexico with my mom during our third trip there!

I loved bicycling around Playa del Carmen, Mexico with my mom during our third trip there!

After doing lots of research and building up the courage, I made the scary decision and bought a plane ticket for my first solo trip about three months before I departed on May 21, 2015. I tearfully hugged my family good-bye before jetting off on an early-morning flight to Cancun, Mexico bringing only two backpacks with my belongings (my first attempt at packing light). That was the start of my solo adventures. I remember landing in Cancun and experiencing a mix of emotions – I was scared and excited, nervous and anxious for what was to come. Thankfully, after the first couple of days, I started to feel much more comfortable and confident solo traveling. I spent 12 days exploring the coastal towns of Playa del Carmen and Tulum and the colourful colonial city of Valladolid in the Yucatan Peninsula. I had so many incredible experiences and adventures like; swimming in seven gorgeous and unique cenotes (naturally formed underground sinkholes filled with crystal clear fresh water), exploring three ancient Mayan ruins sites, wandering the city streets, browsing local markets and visiting the attractions. I stayed in cheap backpacker hostels for my first time (and loved them!) and despite my introverted personality and the anxiety I had about meeting new people, it ended up being easier than I had expected to connect with other travelers and I made some great friends who joined me on day trips and explorations. I ate inexpensive and traditional Mexican food at local and family-owned hole-in-the-wall restaurants, I used the public transportation, and I especially enjoyed venturing off the beaten path to explore lesser-known places. But it wasn’t all perfect – there were times when I felt lonely and homesick (often while trying to fall asleep and while traveling on buses) and I wished that I could share my experiences and memories with a loved one. I got nervous when approaching people at hostels and initiating conversation and had some anxiety when I first arrived in a new city or town. But it was all worth it for the experiences that I had!

Trying out my backpack before my first solo travels to Mexico!

Trying out my backpack before my first solo travels to Mexico!

One of the many amazing experiences I had in Mexico - Climbing to the top of a Mayan pyramid at the Ek Balam ruins!

One of the many amazing experiences I had in Mexico – Climbing to the top of a Mayan pyramid at the Ek Balam ruins!

I returned home from Mexico feeling inspired and truly alive, and that trip sparked an even greater desire in me to continue exploring our beautiful world as often as I could.

I fell in love with Mexico and in general, traveling independently and off the beaten path. I was enthralled with everything from experiencing the vibrant culture, wandering the bustling and colourful street markets, eating a variety of delicious and unique cuisine, experiencing the warm, friendly and welcoming nature of the locals, learning about the fascinating history of places I visited, experiencing frequent Mexican celebrations of dancing and music, exploring ancient Mayan ruins while marveling at their impressive and detailed structures and architecture, and experiencing the magic and serenity of swimming in numerous cenotes, considered to be sacred places by the Mayans.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of negative perceptions and myths that exist about Mexico (and Latin America more widely), believed by a large chunk of the public and continually perpetuated by the media. I am fascinated by the vibrant culture, interesting history, warm people and natural beauty of Mexico and other Latin American countries and I strive to debunk some of the myths and shift some of the negative perceptions by showcasing the incredible beauty of these places as I plan to travel throughout and explore Latin America.

I traveled to San Francisco with my mother in July of 2015 and made some amazing memories while admiring and walking along the famous Golden Gate Bridge; exploring some unique, diverse and charming residential neighbourhoods (The Castro, Haight-Ashbury, Pacific Heights, Mission District, and Chinatown); climbing lots of hills and finding hidden staircases with incredible views from the top throughout the city; touring the fascinating Alcatraz Prison and Island; browsing the large and vibrant Ferry Plaza Farmers Market; wandering down many small alleyways covered in unique and colourful street art and murals in the Mission District; riding the historic cable cars throughout downtown; and photographing some of the many colourful Victorian houses with beautiful and detailed architecture.

Checking out the amazing Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco!

Admiring the pretty Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco!

Standing in one of the many amazing graffiti alleys in San Francisco!

Standing in one of the many random alleyways covered in colourful street art and murals in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Relaxing in Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco.

Relaxing in Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco.

I loved San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge!

I loved San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge!

Climbing the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps in San Francisco.

Climbing the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps in San Francisco.

In November of 2015, I embarked on my second solo adventure to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula (yes, again!) in order to explore the natural and ancient beauty, culture and history more in-depth. This time, I spent seventeen days traveling around the region while visiting Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Valladolid, Merida, and Campeche. I loved exploring further off the beaten path and checking out small towns and traditional villages, exploring lesser-known Mayan ruins while being completely alone in the jungle, and swimming in some hidden local cenotes. Although I still experienced some anxiety and nervousness, I felt much more confident before heading out on this trip. Unfortunately, I ended up getting a minor stomach bug from the food or water in Mexico which resulted in lots of trips to the washroom for three days! But I didn’t let that stop me from experiencing everything that I could during my short time in the Yucatan.

Traveling to new places exhilarates, empowers, and inspires me and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. My travel plans for the present and future involve: continuing to explore my hometown of Winnipeg and province of Manitoba during the evenings and weekends while discovering hidden local gems and re-visiting my favourite places; taking short weekend or week-long trips to visit new cities and places in Canada or the United States; and traveling abroad to Latin American countries for longer periods of time in order to immerse myself in and learn about the culture, history and language, have unique adventures and meaningful experiences, meet new people, explore off the beaten path and sample the authentic cuisine.

In addition to traveling to a new city or country, I also enjoy local explorations in my hometown of Winnipeg and province of Manitoba. I love wandering the streets of interesting and charming residential neighbourhoods, enjoying the great outdoors and wilderness while hiking in provincial and national parks, going street art and graffiti hunting, visiting local attractions, taking day trips to places around the province, going for bicycle rides in my country neighbourhood, browsing various outdoor food and produce markets in the summer, discovering hidden gems in my hometown and re-visiting my favourite places, and going on photo walks to capture the architecture, colourful murals, urban street scenes, nature, and beautiful landscapes in Winnipeg and Manitoba.

I am a natural organizer and am always researching and planning my future travel adventures and local explorations in huge amounts of detail. I study maps, read lots of reviews, check out my destination on Google Street View, and scour Google, travel forums and blogs for information. Gaining knowledge and learning about a city or country’s culture, food, people, history, attractions and various other places to explore is one of my favourite parts about travel and is *almost* as satisfying as experiencing the destination for myself. At any given time, I am usually planning at least one upcoming or future trip. Having extensive knowledge about a place before I travel there, helps me to feel prepared and confident. I don’t think I could handle taking a spontaneous trip somewhere without researching and planning it first!

My Favourite Adventures

Some of my favourite adventures that I have experienced so far, include:

  • Hiking on a narrow path along the edge of a mountain with stunning panoramic views of a deep, wide and lush green valley called The Continental Divide and snow-peaked mountains at Logan’s Pass in Glacier National Park, Montana.
  • Renting a car and driving to off the beaten path Mayan ruins, beautiful cenotes and tiny traditional Mayan villages in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
  • Bicycling over 30 km in one day (solo) from Valladolid, Mexico to a couple of nearby authentic Mayan villages and two beautiful and hidden local cenotes, while getting completely drenched in a torrential rainstorm while biking back to Valladolid!
  • Swimming in a total of eighteen gorgeous and unique cenotes (naturally formed sinkholes filled with crystal clear freshwater, unique to the Yucatan Peninsula) in Mexico.
  • Exploring and climbing a total of 13 ancient Mayan ruins and archeological sites in Mexico’s Yucatan.
  • Staying overnight in a traditional Mayan hut with mud walls and a thatched palapa-leaf roof (but it did include a modern washroom and furniture) at a charming and friendly B&B in the small and traditional Mayan village of Santa Elena (along the Yucatan’s Ruta Puuc region).
  • Exploring the famous prison and island of Alcatraz in San Francisco.
  • Wandering around a variety of unique and charming neighbourhoods in San Francisco (The Mission District, The Castro, Haight-Ashbury, Pacific Heights, Chinatown and more).
  • Exploring the unique and diverse neighbourhoods of Toronto, especially Kensington Market, Little Italy, Chinatown, and Queen Street West.
  • Admiring the beautiful panoramic views from the top of the CN Tower in Toronto

Some of my not-so favourite adventures include:

  • Witnessing a large cockroach scurry across the floor in my private room at a hostel in Merida, Mexico.
  • Getting stuck at a local restaurant in Tulum during a torrential downpour of rain and then making the decision to wade barefoot through knee-deep water that was flowing through the streets in order to get back to my hostel.
  • Being stranded along the side of highway in Mexico’s Yucatan – two times – while having no idea when the next bus or colectivo would show up. Thankfully, I made it back to my destination(s) safely!

Where Have I Been?

I haven’t traveled that extensively because I prefer to travel deeper and re-visit my favourite places while exploring them more in-depth as opposed to visiting a lot of places in a short amount of time while checking them off a bucket list. There’s nothing wrong with traveling in this way, but it’s just not my preferred style.

These are the places I have traveled to and explored:

CanadaManitoba (Winnipeg and more – I live here); Saskatchewan (Regina & Moose Jaw); Ontario (Thunder Bay, Kenora, & Toronto); Alberta (Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Pincher Creek and Waterton National Park).

United States – Minnesota (Minneapolis); North Dakota (Fargo & Grand Forks); South Dakota (Rapid City, The Badlands, Pierre, & Deadwood); Montana (Glacier National Park); California (San Francisco).

MexicoYucatan (Valladolid, Merida, Ruta Puuc); Campeche (Campeche City); Quintana Roo (Playa del Carmen, Tulum).

Some places that are high on my list of destinations to explore in the future, include: Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Nicaragua, Seattle (USA), Vancouver (Canada), Portland (USA), New York City (USA), Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yoho/Kootenay/Jasper National Parks (Canada) and so much more. 

How Often Do I Travel and How Do I Afford Travel?

Despite being employed with a full-time job, I have chosen to prioritize travel and experiences and I explore new places at every opportunity I can find, by maximizing my annual leave from work and taking full advantage of statutory holidays and weekends.

I am a part-time traveler and generally travel between two and four times per year. Travel provides me with so much satisfaction and fulfillment and it’s something that I can’t imagine myself not doing.

I enjoy taking short weekend or week-long trips to explore places in Canada or the United States in addition to traveling independently abroad for a longer trip to explore a new place in-depth, experience and immerse myself in the culture and language, meet and connect with other travelers and locals, and have unique, meaningful and authentic adventures while also venturing off the beaten path. I am fascinated by the culture of Mexico and other Latin American countries and when I travel abroad, it is/will be likely to a place in that region of the world.

Although I am passionate about exploring new places and having adventures, I do not have a desire to be a full-time traveler. I enjoy spending lots of time with my family and I love the comforts of home like sleeping in my own bed, cuddling with my cat, not living out of a backpack and having the physical space to store my belongings.

I also love exploring locally in my home province of Manitoba and city of Winnipeg, including re-visiting my favourite places, wandering the streets of interesting and charming local neighbourhoods, relaxing in local parks, going on self-guided photo walks, and discovering new off the beaten path hidden gems.

In order to afford and save money for travel, I live a relatively simple and minimalist lifestyle while spending my money mindfully and consciously questioning every purchase that I make. I have also created a separate bank account where I deposit and save a portion of my bi-weekly paycheck towards travel. I am also able to save money because I am a single female who lives at home with my parents (while paying them some rent) and who has no children, hardly any bills, and no debt or financial obligations.

Whether local or abroad, I am passionate about pursuing experiences, exploring often and deeper, and seeking adventures in new places.

How I Like to Travel/My Travel Style

I love to travel and explore independently, deeper and responsibly while researching and planning my own travels in extensive detail; venturing off the beaten tourist path to discover hidden local treasures not found in guidebooks; using public transport; sampling the traditional cuisine; learning about the local culture and history through deep travel and connecting with the locals; supporting the local communities and economy; staying in unique, alternative and budget-friendly accommodations either with locals or in neighbourhoods away from the main tourist areas; and seeking meaningful, authentic and unique cultural experiences and adventures. I enjoy traveling solo and also with my immediate family.

I spend A LOT of time extensively researching and planning my own future travel adventures and studying maps of places I want to go. As satisfying as this is, it doesn’t match the feeling of actually exploring a new place, seeing things with my own eyes and experiencing it for myself.

This is how I like to travel and my travel interests:

Culture and History – I am fascinated by foreign cultures and I enjoy experiencing, learning about and immersing myself in the local culture of the places that I visit. I also enjoy researching and reading about the history, traditions, customs and culture at my destination. I enjoy exploring ancient archeological sites and ruins, museums, and attractions/places with interesting historical backgrounds.

Street Art – Colourful street art is one of my favourite photography subjects when I explore locally in my hometown and during my travels. I love going on a hunt for and discovering often hidden, colourful and vibrant street art and murals.

Cities, Towns and Villages – When I travel, I enjoy a balance between exploring big cities, towns and venturing off the beaten path into the countryside to visit small traditional villages. I love observing and learning about how people live in other parts of the world and contrasting the local life in cities versus villages.

Off the Beaten Path – I enjoy getting off the beaten path and exploring destinations and hidden local gems that are away from the main tourist areas, lesser-known and beyond the popular tourist attractions. I find that the act of getting off the beaten path lends itself more often to unique experiences and authentic adventures.

Deeper Travel – I am not the type of person who enjoys simply checking places and experiences off of a bucket list of items. I love getting to a know the places I visit more in-depth through exploring deeper while re-visiting my favourite destinations. The list of countries that I desire to travel to is relatively small because of my desire to engage in deep travel.

Tasting Traditional Food and Browsing Local Markets – I love sampling some of the authentic cuisine and specialties while traveling in new places. My favourite types of restaurants to eat at are generally the local, family-owned, hole-in-the-wall eateries although I do enjoy treating myself to a nice meal at a more upscale restaurant every once and awhile as well. I also love wandering the aisles of local produce markets and grocery stores. I find that this is a fantastic way to connect with the locals, observe the local culture and everyday life, and learn about the different foods available at your destination. During my future travels, I have a desire to go on food tours and participate in a local cooking lesson/class.

Nature and Outdoors – I love spending time outdoors in nature whether that involves biking, hiking, relaxing in local parks, exploring places with lots of natural beauty, or unique natural phenomenons and wonders (like Mexico’s “cenotes,” and naturally formed caves). I love exploring places with diverse natural landscapes, from mountains to jungles.

Alternative Accommodations – I enjoy staying in budget-friendly and unique accommodations with a relaxed, peaceful, welcoming, friendly and charming atmosphere. My favourite types of accommodations are local or family-owned hostels and B&Bs, but I also have a desire to try other alternative accommodations like homestays, housesitting, and guesthouses. I love the idea of supporting locally owned accommodations as this benefits the individuals who own and run them and the community as a whole. I love staying in accommodations that are located in local residential neighbourhoods that are away area from the main tourist areas and find it to be a great way to experience the everyday life, learn about and observe the culture, taste authentic local cuisine and discover hidden gems and secret local places that you won’t find in most guidebooks.

Wandering the Streets and Neighbourhoods – One of my favourite things to do when I travel to a new place, is to spend a good chunk of time wandering the streets and exploring various local neighbourhoods. I just love observing and photographing the everyday life in a place, the houses, street scenes, modern and historic architecture, colourful murals and street art, beautiful landscapes, and the little details, while discovering some local treasures and hidden gems along the way.

Public Transportation – I enjoy using the local public transportation at my destination when I travel and I find it challenging but fun to successfully navigate the transport system in a new place. It’s usually the most inexpensive method of getting around and I enjoy the opportunities to mingle with the locals, and it’s a fantastic way to see the local neighbourhoods and the rural countryside, which not many tourists have the opportunity to experience.

My Travel Values

I love immersive, socially conscious, responsible, intentional and independent travel where I have the opportunity to explore off the beaten tourist path, support the local community, stay in unique and alternative accommodations outside of the main tourist areas, learn about the local culture, language, food and history, and have unique, authentic and meaningful adventures and experiences.

Traveling mindfully, intentionally and responsibly provides me with a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment and it benefits and positively impacts the local communities and places that I visit. It’s a win-win situation. For me, responsible travel is about being aware of how your actions affect local communities, supporting the local economy wherever possible, doing lots of pre-travel research to gain knowledge and delve deeper into learning about your destination’s culture, language and history, and seeking meaningful and authentic experiences.

This is what responsible, deep and intentional travel means to me:

Supporting the local economy and communities – In order to support the local economy of the place I am visiting, I like to purchase goods and handicrafts that have been locally made and produced; shop at independent local stores; and browse the local produce and handicraft markets.

Traveling Deeper – When it is possible for me to do so, I enjoy traveling slower and spending more time (as much time as possible) in one place. Slower travel allows for the opportunity to get to know a place and gain an understanding of the culture, history and social/political issues through connecting with the local people. I prefer to re-visit and continue exploring my favourite destinations further in-depth as opposed to checking destinations and experiences off of a bucket list. I seek a deeper connection to the destinations that I choose to visit and I have a desire to travel to fewer places, while taking the time to truly get to know those places.

Getting out of my comfort zone – As an introvert and someone who is also somewhat reserved and quiet, getting out of my comfort zone is difficult and challenging. But I have gained the courage to travel solo while overcoming my fears and I plan to continue traveling solo into the future. I hope that my story inspires and encourages other introverts to travel solo and independently as well.

Getting off the beaten tourist path to discover hidden local places – Aside from visiting some of the popular tourist attractions and main sites, I generally prefer to get off the beaten track while at my destination as I find these experiences to be more rewarding. I enjoy exploring and discovering local hidden gems; wandering through the streets of local neighbourhoods; relaxing in parks and observing the everyday lives of the locals (I am fascinated and intrigued by learning about how people live in other places); visiting independent, unique and locally owned shops and supporting these places; browsing and wandering through the aisles of local produce and handicraft markets; staying in unique and alternative accommodations situated away from the main tourist areas; and asking the locals about their favourite lesser-known places to visit.

Learning about and immersing myself in the local culture and language of my destination – Prior to departing on my travels, I enjoy doing a lot of research in order to gain knowledge about and better understand the culture, local cuisine, present-day situation, safety for solo female travelers, language, history, social and political issues, traditions, and customs of the place(s) I will be visiting. I find it so fulfilling to dig deeper and get to know my destination more intimately. I am always seeking to know more and I absolutely love observing the everyday life of the locals – how people interact with one another, the type of clothing they wear and any other cultural differences than I notice. While traveling in my destination, I also choose to be respectful of the local culture, customs and religious practices by wearing appropriate clothing. I enjoy connecting with the local people and attempting to communicate in their language; and experiencing and observing the local culture.

Learning about and sampling the local cuisine – I enjoy tasting the traditional and authentic cuisine at family-owned and hole-in-the-wall restaurants at my destination while also sampling the local street food. I love learning about the local cuisine through my pre-travel research and through my experiences while traveling.

Having unique and authentic adventures and seeking meaningful experiences – I love seeing a new place from a different perspective than most people and in order to do so, I seek unique and authentic adventures and meaningful experiences. This could be anything from taking a local walking or food tour, a cooking class, browsing the local produce and handicraft markets, scoping out unique and colourful street art and murals, wandering the streets of local neighbourhoods, volunteering or supporting a local organization or charity whose values and beliefs align with mine, and getting off the beaten path and discovering secret places that only the locals know about.

Shifting perceptions – Through delving deeper in my pre-travel research to learn about my destination and through sharing my stories and personal experiences from my travels, I hope to be able to shift the negative perceptions of places I visit and explore and debunk some of the myths and common misconceptions, which are often held by the public and perpetuated by the media. I enjoy exploring off the beaten path and showcasing a destination’s natural beauty, people, culture, and it’s “real side,” that not many people know about or have the opportunity to experience.

Independent and solo female travel – I love traveling independently and often as a solo female (although I also enjoy traveling with my immediate family).

Packing light with a carry-on backpack only – As a minimalist, I enjoy the challenge of packing light and I try to bring only what is necessary and useful for my travels. I carry a 48-litre backpack for my clothing and toiletries and a 12-litre daypack for my valuable belongings, as well as a small cross-body purse.

In general, I enjoy traveling mindfully and intentionally. I strive to be aware of my choices and actions and what kind of impact (short or long term) they leave on local communities.

In the future, I have a desire to travel slower while spending more time in fewer places so that I can truly immerse myself in the local culture, language and everyday life. I believe that slow travel is one of the best ways to really get to know a place while providing the opportunities to explore deeper.

Photography

Photography is a creative outlet for me, and since I began pursuing it more seriously, learning about various compositions and techniques and practicing in order to improve my skills, I have started to view the world around me differently.

I am passionate about capturing photos of my travels, explorations & experiences, food, street art, architecture, landscapes and everyday things in my life and surroundings. 

Photography has changed the way I see things. I notice small details in my surroundings, I see the beauty in imperfection, and I am more fully present and aware of the environment around me. Whether I am traveling, exploring a new place or spending time with family, photos are very important to me and they are my most treasured and precious souvenirs which capture my memories. I love browsing through old photos and re-living my experiences while feeling the emotions during the time the photo was taken.

I have always enjoyed taking photos of the things and people in my life and my explorations, but only recently have I decided to pursue photography more seriously and delve deeper into learning about light, composition, photo editing, and other technical terms, techniques and skills. Up until recently, I had only ever used point and shoot cameras and my smartphone for taking photos, but I have since upgraded my equipment and am using an entry-level DSLR camera. Within a week, I had learned how to shoot in manual mode, with lots of help from my mother. I love the freedom of being able to control the ISO, aperture, exposure and shutter speed to fit my needs and the context of my photos.

I love taking photos of the places I explore, the little details around me, the beauty in my surroundings, the things I experience, the foods I prepare and eat, the people I love, and various other subjects. My favourite photography subjects include beautiful landscapes, nature, modern and historic architecture, colourful and vibrant street art and murals, fresh vegetables and fruits, meals that I prepare and eat, my cat and family, urban street scenes, and other details and small objects in my environment and surroundings.

Photography is fun!

Photography is fun!

Healthy Living and Eating

Taking care of my body while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, are both very important to me.

I love eating minimally processed and real foods and preparing healthy, simple, plant-based and gluten-free meals consisting of primarily organic/non-GMO, fresh, locally-sourced/home-grown, and whole ingredients. Eating healthy helps me to feel energized and alive and it brings me a lot of satisfaction to know that I am fueling my body with natural ingredients derived from the earth.

In the summers at home in Manitoba, I enjoy watching our family’s garden grow and produce delicious and fresh vegetables and fruit; and shopping for fresh and local produce and other homemade food items at local farmers markets while meeting the farmers and producers and learning about where my food comes from. I also love spending time outdoors in the summer, while walking, bicycling or hiking in new places and admiring the natural beauty around me. I also enjoy eating at and trying out new restaurants that serve plant-based and vegetarian foods in Winnipeg and while I am traveling.

In my attempt to live as naturally as possible, I enjoy using locally made and natural (if possible) body products – shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, facial moisturizer and more – with organic ingredients that are real, that I can pronounce, and not just a bunch of chemicals. I also don’t take chemical-laden medications (unless it is absolutely necessary) as I believe that the body is capable of healing itself. Instead of medications, I use natural essential oils, various home remedies and eat whole and nutrient-dense foods.

Minimalism

I discovered the concepts of minimalism and simple living in early 2014 and was intrigued. Over the course of a year, I researched these topics in great detail while reading many online articles and books and slowly applying various simplicity practices into my life. I am definitely not perfect, and I continue to find new ways of living simpler and am always learning about various topics related to minimalism.

For me, minimalism is about removing the physical, mental and emotional clutter in my life (excess possessions, distractions, time commitments, toxic relationships, etc.) while creating more space and time to focus on the most important things in life, the things which matter most to me and prioritize those which add value to my life – like relationships (with family & friends), exploration and travel, learning, personal growth and development, photography, writing, and health (exercising and staying fit, preparing and eating healthy plant-based meals and foods, spending time in nature, and living naturally). Embracing a minimalist lifestyle is about living intentionally, mindfully, and purposefully while making conscious choices about how I spend my money and time.

I value and choose to prioritize having experiences over owning and accumulating more material possessions, and as a result, I tend to spend my money intentionally and consciously while asking myself a series of questions before every material purchase (Is it necessary? Will I use it often?). Living simply has allowed me to spend more time and money on creating memories through having meaningful experiences and unique adventures with family, friends, and on my own.

Personality

I love competing online personality tests and reading books and online articles about the subject of personality. My personality type is abbreviated by the initials, INFJ which means Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging.

As an introvert, I enjoy spending time alone in order to “recharge” my internal batteries as chatting with and being around other people for too long completely drains my energy. I am also a perfectionist about everything in my life and I research absolutely everything before I make even the smallest decision (which can be exhausting at times). I am also a Highly Sensitive Person which basically means that I get easily overwhelmed, am bothered by and sensitive to strong smells, loud noises, bright lights, pain, and chaotic situations.

My Blog

I am excited to share my life experiences, travel adventures, stories, challenges, observations, local wanderings and explorations, photography, reviews, tips and advice and travel guides with you on my blog and I hope that you find my content to be helpful and informative and that you feel inspired to plan your next adventure, explore more often (both locally and abroad) and live healthily and naturally.

Do you want to learn more about my blog and the topics I will be featuring? Click here to read more.

Connect With Me

Do you have any questions, comments, suggestions or feedback for me? Or do you just want to say hello and chat? I would love to hear from you!

You can contact me via email at brittanymariathiessen [at] gmail [dot] com or visit my Contact page here.

You can also find me on social media – follow my adventures and explorations, connect with me and get in touch:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Linked In | BlogLovin

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back again soon!