The last time I tried snowboarding was in Korea in 2012 and I failed miserably. Having surfed prior for a few years, I thought that surfing and snowboarding were similar. And if I could excel at one, I could at least be decent in the other. But I ended up falling on my butt more than a few times.

When my husband said we were spending the holidays in the French Alps, I was thrilled and hesitant at the same time. I had a few things working against me. Of course, I was still a little traumatised from my last snowboarding experience, plus I had just given birth 4 months ago and didn’t feel like I was in the best shape.

There were also a few things working for me. My husband is an excellent snowboarder and he was willing to teach me. Second, we could stay for a few weeks so I had more time to learn. By the time we had our first snowfall for the winter season, I was ready.

Snowboarding French Alps10


I got geared up and the sight of fresh, pure snow got me very excited. The first lesson I learned was that you didn’t need to always pay just to get to a decent slope to start training. My husband brought me to some spots in the mountains where I could practice going downhill with no one to bother me. Of course these were not steep slopes and I had a lot of fun learning.

Then he took me to more difficult slopes and I really had to work on my balance. Snowboarding can be a very intimidating feat for those who are just starting out. I mean, you have to literally throw yourself off a mountain with just a flimsy board, hoping the ice would somehow soften your fall. And you have to do that over and over again.

Snowboarding French Alps9

Then there’s learning how to turn, stop and avoid obstacles like other snow machines and other people. Most of the time, I would stop just a few inches before an ice machine. And I would hope that other people would be much better than me so they can just avoid me.

But days later, I started to improve. I started to really have fun snowboarding and became less frustrated. I even managed to high five an 8 year old that I kept seeing at the slopes. I still fell on my butt many times but I was faster in getting up. And the best part was, after our holiday, I was still excited about the next snowboarding trip!

Snowboarding French Alps8

Are you planning a snowboarding trip? Here are a few tips for first-timers:

Snowboarding French Alps3

Get the right gear

If you have the budget and plan to snowboard for years to come, I suggest you buy yourself some good gear. It doesn’t have to be branded, ask the sales person at your sporting goods store to get you the in house brand just to get started. And make sure they give you the right size. Helmets and maybe knee pads are a must. If you’re not sure you’re going to be snowboarding again after the first attempt, renting your gear is the best option. Just make sure you get them in the right size. You can rent a helmet, mask (for the glare), jacket, pants, boots and snowboard. But buy your own thermal inner wear and socks for hygiene. Or you may want to borrow your gear first from someone who wears the same size.

Get a good instructor

If you want to learn fast and safely, get some recommendations for a good snowboarding instructor. Getting someone to teach you on a one on one basis may be pricey but you’ll probably be zipping in no time. Or you can join a group or a class and maybe even make a new friend or 2. If you happen to get someone who is not too encouraging or competent at teaching, just switch. You probably have only a few days to learn so it’s best to find someone who can help you.

Snowboarding French Alps5

Safety First

All of us want to be good at snowboarding as fast as possible. But safety should be the first thing to consider. Make sure you always wear your helmet. If you have bad knees, get some knee pads. I sure wish someone invented butt pads for this sort of thing. Also don’t try to venture off track on your own especially if you’re not with someone who is familiar with the place. And if you hurt yourself, or don’t feel well, stop right away.

Prepare to Sweat

One thing they don’t mention to you when you’re snowboarding for the first time is how much you’re going to sweat. And I mean that in the literal sense. Because you’re going to walk or hike up much more than going downhill, you will have to exert more effort. So yes, hopefully you will take my advice about the thermals and socks.

Snowboarding French Alps14

Cut yourself some slack

When I first learned to snowboard, I was very frustrated. I put so much pressure on myself to learn in just a matter of hours. And whenever I fell, I felt defeated. A lot of people told me they learned how to snowboard in less than a week. So I felt I had to do the same.

It’s important to remember to keep up with your own pace. If you have the luxury of time, give yourself some gaps when you’re not just snowboarding. Try it for a few days, pause, then try again. That way, your body can adapt and the transition isn’t too abrupt.

And snowboarding doesn’t have to be your sport. It’s great you even managed to put on the boots in the first place. If your first try wasn’t such a big success like mine, that’s okay. You can always try again next season. As long as you keep an open mind and a beginner’s spirit.

Snowboarding French Alps1

Lois has traveled extensively and has lived in Asia, the United States and Europe in various stages of her life. She recently got married and gave birth to a baby girl. She is currently based in Europe hoping to find a home base for her family. She is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of We Are Sole Sisters.


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It's a small digital nomadic world out there.

That's what I learned after meeting Aileen in Fort Bonifacio, Manila last year. She was moving out of a condo unit that we were moving into. We said our hasty goodbyes as she was off to the airport, not realizing that we would both end up in Europe months later.

A few months ago, Aileen emailed me to introduce herself and her website, without even realizing that we had already met! I asked her some questions about being a digital nomad, the freedom lifestyle and running her online business. Here's what she shared:

When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired you to take that big leap?

I started my travel lifestyle after I quit my job at an international investment bank. I was 21 at that time. I took the big leap because I was terribly uninspired—it was a job that I didn't love and much like everyone else, I was only clinging to it for the sense of security or stability.

Of course I had thoughts of quitting way before the 'big leap', but society always made me anxious for my future, and people also made me hesitate a lot. Fortunately, aside from stumbling into great self-help inspirational books, I also happened to meet a lot of folks from abroad—they were backpackers, nomads, or entrepreneurs who were traveling the world while doing the things that they love. Naturally, these people inspired me a LOT because they were doing exactly what I wanted to do.

They were even the first ones who encouraged me to quit my job, and that was very refreshing! Finally, I have met people who told me to embrace my fear, to be released from the concept of ‘security’, and to take the leap!

Sole Sister Spotlight: Digital Nomad Aileen13

And so I did.

I decided that I no longer wanted to be led by fear—what I wanted is to have the courage to live boldly and to live each day to the fullest. I didn't want to hate myself or my life anymore... I want to love and enjoy life! I also thought that it would be a waste of my 20s to be cooped up inside an office, doing work that I didn't enjoy.

Besides, I want to avoid looking back on my life with a bitter realization that I am filled with so many regrets, missed opportunities, and 'what ifs'. This a cliché statement, but I have met too many individuals who hold these sentiments and I don't want to end up like that.

Sole Sister Spotlight: Digital Nomad Aileen12

Is there any special work that allows you to fund your trips?

I manage to keep this traveling lifestyle with the help of my blog, freelance work, and online business.

I earn a bit from my travel + lifestyle blog due to advertisements and sponsorships. But the biggest perk from blogging—that helps me travel more—comes from my partnerships with tourism boards, brands, resorts, or hotels. They usually give me all-expenses-paid trips in exchange for added exposure online (accomplished through my written reviews and social media shares).

As for freelancing, I work as a digital nomad: "someone who makes full use of technology in order to work remotely and earn an income whenever and wherever they are."

I offer technical services online, work on them a few hours a day while I travel, and get paid in return. Through this way, I started earning for myself after I left my corporate job, and it was even through one of my online stints that ushered the idea for our online business now.

Sole Sister Spotlight: Digital Nomad Aileen5

What steps did you take to become a digital nomad and how long did it take you?

I actually just finished writing an article about the steps that I took to start this kind of lifestyle. But basically, for me to become the digital nomad that I am now, I first identified the things that I found interest in doing but never had the time to do so. They were: graphic design, web design, SEO management, and online marketing.

I already had prior basic knowledge of graphic and web design because I enjoyed doing these things (as a hobby) ever since I was 12; but, I knew that at that time, I still needed to learn more about these two topics. I also knew that I have to start doing an in-depth study on SEO and online marketing (which I didn't have much of an idea of, especially because they were new to me and they were not even taught in my college courses nor in the past corporate jobs that I had).

Therefore, I started reading articles and tutorials online. After I was confident enough of my skills, I built my digital profile and started doing technical work. In total, this took me 2 months to accomplish. When I was sure that I had a good start, I handed in my resignation.

(But certainly, the learning didn't stop after those 2 months, I still continue to read about these four areas because they are my interests after all.)

Sole Sister Spotlight: Digital Nomad Aileen2

What's the best part of being a digital nomad?

The best part is the freedom and happiness that comes with it!

Freedom + Happiness because: I can do jobs that I enjoy doing, I can bring my 'career' anywhere with me, I can make money while traveling the world, I can be my own boss, I can control my own time, I can do things that I have always wanted to do, I can meet different people from different cultures, I can experience more adventures than ever before...

...I can go on and on about this!

Sole Sister Spotlight: Digital Nomad Aileen1

Where do you think are the best cities to be a digital nomad and why?

I really can't say because there are too many cities that have its own charm or perks... and, it's not like I've been to every city in the world—I'm still working on that, haha! Now, I'm saying this because I don't feel comfortable giving out a 'top list' advice if I haven't tried a big sample yet. (If I may add too, it's also always so hard for me to play favorites!)

What I can say with confidence though, is that the cities in Southeast Asia are GREAT places for starting digital nomads because the cost of living is generally cheaper than the cities on the western part of the world. Besides, chances of meeting fellow nomads are also high in these locations, so networking or socializing will also be an adventure of its own!

*For Filipinos like me that might want to venture out of Asia, try going to South America first because there are several visa-free countries there that will save you the hassle and costs of visa applications.

Sole Sister Spotlight: Digital Nomad Aileen7

You just started a new company, how did you come up with the idea and how's the entrepreneurial journey so far?

Yes, I have, and it's called Adalid Gear! (Adalid is my last name and it means 'champion' in Spanish). It's an online Amazon business that my boyfriend, Jonas, and I have set up together.

*Note: Jonas is a digital nomad himself and he was one of those people that I have met before who inspired me to quit my job.

Now we came up with this company idea because of my online work. During the early months of my digital nomad life, I managed to get a contract with an online Swedish brand that paid really good for the services that I can do. As I worked with them for a year, I managed to learn more about their processes and I also learned how insane the return can be in this kind of business! At one point, I even found out how easy it can be to start a similar business! This surprised me (well of course, as long as you have the right knowledge and resources).

Sole Sister Spotlight: Digital Nomad Aileen14

I told Jonas about this and he too was inspired or encouraged to do the same. As a result: I ended my contract with the Swedish company, partnered up with Jonas, learned more about the business, got ourselves some mentors (such as the CEO of the Swedish company that I was working for), and come May 2014, we managed to get our shop up and running!

Right now, I can say that the business is going really good and the entrepreneurial journey has been very exciting and fulfilling! There were times that we feared that we might fail, but we believed in what we have done. (Up till now, we are still and always taken by surprise whenever we see our products taking off very well!)

I guess in a way, this tells me that going by my journey, taking bold + informed 'leaps' and having great sources of inspiration or support will ALWAYS be important factors in order to be successful in what you do.

Sole Sister Spotlight: Digital Nomad Aileen4

You've mentioned that you travel with your boyfriend, what are the highs and lows? 

Yes, we do travel together! But we also travel separately sometimes; once, he went to Japan and I went to Thailand and that was a nice plan because it made us miss each other a lot. I say this because being together all the time almost always leaves no room for missing one another, so it's good to have some space sometimes. (Though I have to admit that we actually agreed that a month away from each other is too much... I guess we're inseparable now.)

So yeah, I guess that's the 'lowest' it can get when traveling with your boyfriend (the 'no room for missing each other', etc.). Other than that, I can't think of anything at all... which makes me realize that Jonas and I are really good partners that we never had any significant 'lows' when we're together. We always joke about this because after more than 2 years together, we haven't had a serious argument yet. Of course we had serious discussions but never to a point that we fight, raise our voices, get angry, etc. This is why, sometimes, we make up arguments of our own playfully:

Jonas: "Is there mushroom in this?"
Me: "No... but I could! So we can finally have a serious argument now!"
Jonas: "Meh... maybe not today."

So for my top most tip: communication. It really just boils down to it and it's the definite 'key' in relationships. I'm not much of an emotional person so I stray away from the silent treatment or whatnot. If I don't like something, I tell him instantly—which he appreciates. We both value honesty and we hate wasting time. Other than that: compromising, setting roles, and sharing costs fairly are all good things to exercise as well especially when traveling.

Now the obvious 'highs' of traveling with your partner is that you grow together and you enjoy wonderful moments together—you go through things with your best friend. There is this quote from the movie Into the Wild: "Happiness is only real when shared."

Sole Sister Spotlight: Digital Nomad Aileen11

What advice can you share with those sitting at their desks right now thinking they can't do what you're doing?

Just do it.

Especially if you don't love what you're doing. It's never too late and it's a lot less scary than you might think. Remember this famous quote:"Making a big life change is pretty scary. But you know what’s even scarier? Regret."

Besides... "You will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do." So take the leap.

Now I know that some of you might think that it's not the 'right time' yet. Well, let me tell you this: There's NO right time. You just do it and make time for it. It's as simple as that. Besides, we are never ready for anything anyway... may it be love, studies, or moving to a new place.

It just happens if YOU let it happen.

Sole Sister Spotlight: Digital Nomad Aileen10

Aileen is a 20-something wild spirit from the Philippines who has an incurable case of wanderlust. She is the mastermind behind 'I am Aileen', a travel + lifestyle blog where she documents her travels, thoughts, and experiences as she aims to inspire other people to live life to the fullest. Follow her adventure updates around the globe on Facebook!

Want more? Read other features on Sole Sister Spotlight.

Do you know of travelers who conquer the world one country at a time? We would love to interview them for Sole Sister Spotlight. Please send us an email at solesisters .weare@gmail .com. We look forward to your suggestions!

Searching for other sisters who make travel happen,
Sole Sister Lois



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Dear Sole Sisters,

I'm planning a trip to Southeast Asia for mid-2015 and it's been overwhelming. I don't know where to start and which countries are worth visiting. I know you've traveled this route for 6 months a few years back and that's why I thought of emailing you. I only have 2 months on a limited budget, so please help me decide which countries I should visit and how long I should stay there.

Patricia

Dear Patricia,

Thanks for your email. I can imagine myself in the same chair, looking at a map and thinking how small I was, and how huge the region was and how is it possible to navigate it all in 6 months?

But I was able to do it, and so will you. 

I won't be able to plan your itinerary for you. But I can try to help you out by ranking all the Southeast Asian countries I've visited and giving you an idea of what to expect in those places. Then maybe it can help you make a decision. Here are a few things I had in mind prior to the trip:

-I wanted to spend a maximum of 30 days in most countries (depending on visa restrictions).
-My budget was very tight so I chose to spend more time in less developed countries and I tried to avoid cities as much as possible.
-My travel style was slow backpacking in order to explore more on less money and meet a lot of people.

Southeast Asia - Singapore
Photo Credit: Eustaquio Santimano

9 Singapore (Estimated Budget: 40 USD/day)

I knew Singapore would be an expensive country so I mainly used it as a hub for connecting flights as well as a respite from extreme backpacking conditions. Imagine spending many nights at train stations, bus stops and airports and showering in dirty public bathrooms. Then, just one flight later, being able to take a long, hot shower then crashing on a clean, comfortable bed with an actual mattress. You get the picture?

But Singapore surprised me because I did enjoy the few days that I spent there. There's shops, hawker food, museums and nightlife, of course. Here are 5 Things You Thought You Knew About Singapore.

Southeast Asia - Malaysia

8 Malaysia (Estimated Budget: 35 USD/day)

I had booked a lot of flights via Kuala Lumpur so I had a lot of time to explore the city as well as Penang which is only 5 hours away by bus. West Malaysia would be a great place to start your Southeast Asian adventure because of its low cost airport hub and location. Plus, you can still enjoy most of the comforts that you have back home but in a totally unique setting. It has a great combination of night life, nature, cultural experiences and food.

Southeast Asia - Cambodia

Cambodia (Estimated Budget: 20 USD/day)

The main motivation behind my trip to Cambodia was certainly Angkor Wat. I'd been dreaming of exploring the ancient ruins for so long. But I ended up a little disappointed. I didn't exactly achieve the spiritual epiphany I was hoping for. I ended up missing the sunset at Bantay Srei after a series of flat tires. I would recommend hiring a tuktuk instead of riding a bike around this enormous temple complex.  And if you want to know more, here's 5 Things They Don't Tell You About Angkor Wat.


Southeast Asia - Vietnam

6 Vietnam (Estimated Budget: 15 USD/day)

My postcard idea of Vietnam is probably the same as yours: junk ships with delicate red masts against the bluegreen background of the bay and karsts. But my Halong Bay fantasy didn't live up to the experience because I found it to be very touristy. It was an important lesson because the country has so much more to offer than just one overrated tourist attraction. In fact, my favorite town in Vietnam was Hoi An, a destination that's not in our original route. I loved it for its beaches, colorful town and ancient ruins.

Southeast Asia - Thailand

5 Thailand (Estimated Budget: 20 USD/day)

When I think of Southeast Asia, Thailand always brings back great memories. I think about Khao San Road, the Songkran water festival and full moon parties. It's a backpacker haven mainly because of its central location. From here, it's easy to travel by land to other neighboring countries and still keep some kind of base. I always find myself coming back for the flavourful food, the friendly locals and the scenery. I also love it for its diversity- temples and mountains in the north and warm beaches in the south. 

Southeast Asia - Laos

4 Laos (Estimated Budget: 15 USD/day)

I think I slept all my days away in hammock in Laos. It's a wonderful break from the hustle and bustle of Southeast Asian cities. Everything in this country is sloooow- in a wonderful way. You can take a slow boat on the Mekong river, sip a cup of coffee at a roadside cafe and simply disconnect from the modern world. Laos's charm is felt in its golden temples, waterfalls, the smile of its locals.

Southeast Asia - Indonesia

3 Indonesia (Estimated Budget: 25 USD/day)

I think I spent more time in the water than on land in Indonesia. Bali boasts of some of the world's best surf spots and I was not disappointed. When the surf breaks in Bali got too crowded, I took a quick flight to Lombok where it's more quiet and laid back. While on land, I explored Ubud's rice paddies, vegetarian cafes and yoga shalas. And of course, who can resist the local markets where they sold bracelets, bags and sarongs to bring back home.

Southeast Asia - Myanmar

2 Myanmar (Estimated Budget: 30 USD/day)

My trip to Myanmar came as a beautiful surprise. It was not on the original itinerary as the country was not yet fully open to tourists in 2011. But I met some Indonesian and German backpackers in Thailand who were headed there and I jumped at the opportunity to travel with a group.

It was just a mind-blowing, colorful, dream like experience. We traveled overland for about a month and saw golden temples, river villages, a parade of red robed monks, mountain villages and just raw, untouched landscapes. What I loved about Myanmar was its authenticity because at that time, it was still quite isolated from the outside world.

Southeast Asia - Philippines

1 Philippines (Estimated Budget: 25 USD/day)

Call me biased but there really is no place like home. And that's why I consider my country as the best for travel in Southeast Asia.

What makes the Philippines stand out are the variety of activities that you can do against the backdrop of magnificent, natural landscapes. You can go spelunking in Sagada, surfing in Siargao or Baler, ziplining in Lake Sebudiving in Anilao, cliff jumping in Cebu, snorkeling in Palawan, biking in Batanes, and kiteboarding in Boracay, just to name a few.

Considering the diversity of the culture and landscape that it has to offer, it's surprising that it's still off the beaten path. A lot of travelers tend to avoid the Philippines because they feel that it's isolated and too intimidating with its 7,107 islands. But that's exactly why the Philippines should be your first stop in Asia.

If you want be far from home, yet still feel at home, this is where you should go.

Not convinced? Check out Sab's 10 Reasons Why Your Should Travel to the Philippines and Nathan's What I REALLY Think of the Philippines.

Last Minute Advice

So there you go Patricia, those are my top Southeast Asian Countries for Travel. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide. But I've shared most of my experiences and preferences to help you decide where to go and how long you should stay. I did the Southeast Asian trip in 2011 but I've revisited Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines from 2013-2014. I wish I was able to visit East Timor and Brunei to add them to the list but I'll have to save those places for another time.

Timeline and Route

Since you only have 2 months to travel, I would suggest you choose only 4-6 countries and stay about 1-2 weeks in each. This works best especially if you plan to travel overland through Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Another option is to just choose 2-3 countries like the Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia and spend 2-3 weeks in each country.

Budget

The estimated budget I've given is just the bare minimum so you should still give yourself a buffer for some unexpected expenses. I've had to survive on 10-25 USD per day but I wouldn't say I traveled comfortably. If you want a cost breakdown, check out Kristin's post on What 6 Months of Traveling in Southeast Asia Cost Me.

And You're Off!

I'm very excited for you as you go on this life-changing adventure. You may be feeling overwhelmed and maybe even a little intimidated, but I know that you will be okay. You may be worrying about the small details and wondering what can go wrong.

And yes, things may go wrong. You can get lost, get dirty, lose some money, maybe even some of your dignity and sanity. You will lose a few more things along the way- your inhibitions, misconceptions, irrational fears.

In the end, you will lose yourself as you leave a part of you in every place.

And you will gain so much more. You will gain numerous friends along the way. You will gain a perspective of yourself that you have never seen before. You will gain many snapshots and memories that you will look back at years from now and ask yourself "Did I really do that?!"


Throwing yourself into the unknown will allow you to experience the most lucid form of living.

Southeast Asian dreamin',
Sole Sister Lois


Southeast Asia Ebook

Book in Progress

When I first wrote this article in late 2014, I literally wanted to hold Patricia's hand and walk her through the places we had seen and the things we had experienced. I knew exactly how she felt. I was her back in 2011! So I decided to keep writing this article until I realized I had so much information that it would fit a book! 

But I'm not writing a guidebook. 

That's what Lonely Planet is for, isn't it? I want to create a box of sorts. I wanted to fill it with my most treasured memories, the best places we've been, the people we've met, all those well loved details and corners. And I thought of taking you all on that journey with me. And for that, I needed the help of artist extraordinaire, Abbey Sy of Le Rêveur to help me share the experience through her dreamlike typography and sketches. 

Together, we are taking you on a soleful adventure across Southeast Asia through words, hand drawn maps, sketches, and images.

The book will be ready in February in ebook format and in March in print format. If you want to receive updates on when it will be available, please subscribe to our mailing list below. The first 100 subscribers will get an ebook copy straight to their inbox when it comes out next month.

Southeast Asia - Boracay

Are you traveling around Southeast Asia soon? What questions do you have that were not covered in the blog? Share them in the comments below.

Lois has traveled extensively and have lived in Asia, the United States, and Europe. She just recently got married and now has a baby girl. She is currently based in Europe trying to find a home base for her family. She is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of We Are Sole Sisters.

Get a FREE copy of the Sole Sister Guide to Planning an Epic Trip by subscribing to our newsletter. You can also hang out with us online on TwitterFacebook & Instagram.
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Winter Drive

During the chilly winter months, a lot of people head for warmer climates. They flock to the nearest beaches, or they fly to the Caribbean or to the Pacific Islands. Yet, other people skip the beach, embrace the snow, and head someplace even colder. They head for a resort, strap on a pair of skis, and hit the slopes.

Fortunately, you don’t have to own a pair of skis to enjoy the cold outdoors. These five off-the-beaten-path Canadian winter vacation destinations will leave you out in the cold — right where you want to be.

Hiking Auyuittuq National Park
Photo Credit: Peter Morgan

1. Auyuittuq National Park — Baffin Island

In the high Arctic reaches of Nunavut’s Baffin Island, you’ll find the Auyuittuq National Park. Auyuittuq, which means “the land that never melts,” features vast expanses of uninhabited tundra and traditional Inuit villages. In the darkest winter months, the extreme weather makes Auyuittuq a tough visit. However, from March to May, you can ride skis, dogsleds, and snowmobiles over the fjords.

A trip through Auyuittuq and its sister park, Sirmilik, isn’t advisable without a local guide unless you have extensive Arctic experience. Most people camp, although you can stay at a couple of hotels, the Black Point Lodge and the Inns North Sauniq Hotel. A few expedition cruises offer heated camps with hot meals and cabins, but you can also arrange to stay with the locals. While you’re there, make sure to dine on char, which is a trout-like local fish.

Northern Lights, Yukon, Canada
Photo Credit: Pete Lytwyniuk

2. Whitehorse — Yukon Territory

Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon Territory, stands up the Yukon River from the historic gold rush town, Dawson City. Book your flight to Whitehorse in February through Flights.com or tripcentral.ca so you can catch multiple festivals and the Yukon Quest, which is a thousand-mile dogsled race. If you visit Whitehorse around the spring equinox, you’ll see the northern lights at their finest. Stay at Bombay Peggy’s in Dawson City. It’s a former brothel transformed into a respectable hotel.

While you’re near Whitehorse, be sure to see the glaciers at Kluane National Park. You can camp outdoors at Kathleen Lake where — fortunately for you — the government campground features bearproof lockers. Check out the local cuisine including elk and bison steaks, and catch a quick drink at Airport Chalet in Whitehorse. To put yourself in the mood, read Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” before you leave home.

The Citadel Peaks behind a Hillside of Trees (HDR)
Photo Credit: Mark Stevens

3. Waterton Lakes National Park — Alberta

Waterton Lakes is connected to Glacier National Park in Montana, making it the northern half of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. It’s an excellent spot for observing grizzlies in the warmer seasons, and it’s known as the wildflower capital of Canada. If you’re looking for luxurious accommodations, stay at the picturesque Prince of Wales Hotel. For more primitive accommodations, stay at a Parks Canada campground or rent a tepee at Crandell Mountain.

During the winter months, you won’t have as many options for accommodations, but you’ll meet plenty of Albertans who venture down to get away from the Chinook winds. You can snowshoe near Cameron Lake or go ice climbing up of one of Waterton Lakes’ frozen waterfalls.

Mt Burgess - In the snows
Photo Credit: Nonac_Digi

4. Yellowknife — Northwest Territories

If you’ve always wanted to try ice fishing, then head to Yellowknife this winter. The capital of the Northwest Territories rests on the shores of the expansive Great Slave Lake, and the Long John Jamboree in March celebrates all things ice fishing along with offering helicopter rides, kids activities, and local crafts. You can also catch March’s month-long Snowking festival, which features theater performances, film screenings, and story slams all set in a real snow castle on the frozen Great Slave Lake. Also, March is peak season for the Northern Lights, so stay at the Bayside Bed and Breakfast right on the waterfront for a fantastic aurora view.

Seattle to Anchorage: Liard Hot Springs, BC

5. Liard River Hot Springs — British Columbia

Picture yourself bathing in a hot spring, soaking under the Northern Lights and surrounded by a frozen landscape. Many people venture out to Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park in the summer, but in the winter, you enjoy a soak under the stars without all of the other tourists. You can either camp, book a room at the Liard Hotsprings Lodge, or you can park your RV at one of the 20 pull-through sites. Just bring plenty of snacks because only a few of the local restaurants, including the Coal River Lodge and the Northern Rockies Lodge, are open year-round.

Annalise Wall is a tour guide with a passion for adventure sports. Her favourite sport is skiing, but when the summer comes she loves to go paragliding.

Main Photo Credit: Wayne Stadler



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Last year, Kach, the Filipina half of Two Monkeys Travel emailed me to introduce herself and share a blog she had just started. Today, she is traveling and working in South America, has been featured in several well-known blogs and has even been nominated for a blog award- talk about a rising star! 

Now I'm learning from her as she shares her freedom story:

What's your version of freedom?

Freedom is doing whatever- whenever and wherever you want. When you don’t conform to what society or the cultural expectations say. Freedom is inner happiness, where what you say and how you act is the same as what you feel inside.

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Share your back story.

After graduating from university in 2009, I worked in Kuwait, the Middle East, for 4 years where I worked up to the position of Quality Assurance Supervisor.

I had a good job, my own car, a rented apartment and an expensive gym membership. I went on holidays to 15 different countries and even bought property in the Philippines.

People who knew me saw me as successful and my parents were happy. I was winning…or at least I thought I was.

It wasn't until I moved to Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, for a new job that I began to question things. I had a higher salary, more benefits and most importantly, great friends. But there was something missing inside that couldn't be filled by any of those things.

I began to realize that what I really wanted was to travel, to be completely free of work and schedules. To know that I could go anywhere in the world and not just survive, but thrive.

What steps did you take to achieve freedom?

I’ve started living frugally in Kuwait around 2012. I travelled to 15 different countries while I was based in the Middle East by limiting my shopping, eating out and other stuff that felt like a waste of money. I was cooking my own food and decided to send money to my bank account in the Philippines (10% of it every month) to build up a backpacking fund.

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How long did it take for you to live free?

I was travelling for 3 months on my own before I met Jonathan, and we’ve been travelling together for 15 months now. Just this year, we took certifications so we could work while travelling – so we are now certified TEFL teachers, certified Tantra Yoga teachers and Ayurveda Massage Therapists- we work wherever and whenever we like. We are financially free from any commercial debts and are earning enough money from what we are doing to live well and save too. 

Last May, we published our first article in our old blog account and finally this November we decided to take blogging to the next level. Luckily, Rappler picked up our articles and they’ve gone viral: 

Now we have more readers and are hoping to start generating passive income, but for now our main focus is to inspire people with our sustainable travelling lifestyle.

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What was the biggest challenge you've faced?

Biggest challenge? Maybe the time I decided to move to Kurdistan, Iraq, as I thought starting a new career in Oil and Gas would make me happier. I didn’t know anyone there and I arrived without a job- just a leap of faith! I was able to land a good paying job, but then after 5 months it made me finally realize that money is not the only source of happiness. 

I quit and started my backpacking journey in South East Asia.

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What advice can you give others who want to have the freedom to live life in their own terms?

I just grabbed this from one of my favorite quotes I’ve seen online: “Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be”.

The most common question I get from people is, ‘What is the right time for me to travel? Should I wait until I finish this stage in my life, or achieve this goal before I travel?’ I always say the same thing – There will never be one perfect time. Life does not happen in stages, it flows continuously. Stop thinking about all reasons not to go and write down all the reasons to go instead. The only thing stopping you is you.

How to earn money while travelling? Invest in skills and read this article about 10 Practical Travel Jobs that we wrote a while back. 

Thirsty for freedom? More Freedom Stories here

Want to share your freedom story? Send it to solesisters.weare [at] gmail.com or leave a comment below.


Kach is originally from the stunning Philippines but been backpacking around the world for 18 months now. She grew up in Manila and proud to be Iskolar ng Bayan, before moving to Kuwait for work and eventually scoring a job in Kurdistan. Yep, that’s right. Iraq! After a while though, even this wasn’t exciting enough for her, so she quit everything for a life of travel, new experiences and adventure. She loves beautiful beaches, electronic music, yoga, mayonnaise, Nutella, 5 star hotels and haggling! Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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“Why aren’t there more Indonesians who travel around Asia?”

After travelling for almost 3 months, I was intrigued by the fact that I never met any other Indonesian backpackers. You don’t know how jealous I am when I see people from the same country traveling together. They always look so happy and cheerful and they can even speak to each other in their own language.

As a solo female Asian traveler from a country that most people have never heard of, they would see me as one-of-a-kind. Locals in Southeast Asia usually think that I’m one of them and start talking to me in their native tongue. Sometimes they looked at me strangely because I reply to them in English. Many travelers I've met along the way could never guess where I'm from. And when I tell them that I am Indonesian, they always say the same thing, “I never met any Indonesian traveler before!”.

Marina Utami - Travel as Indonesian9

Indonesian people do like to travel, we like to shop, we like to take pictures with amazing background, and we do like to try new food. But we are not always that courageous to do it backpacker style. We're mostly scared to travel to unknown places. So we usually choose the common and easy destination to travel, or just do the quickest way by booking tours. Most Indonesians look at the term “travelling” as a vacation to relax and enjoy their quality time.

Solo backpacking rarely comes up in Indonesian society’s mind. Most especially women who dare enough to quit their job and travel around by themselves. In many big cities, Indonesian women tend to focus more on their career. I live in a country where traditions say that women need to be ruled, need to follow society, need to be in a secure position for their future, need to please their families and neighbors.

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“Women are sentenced to be a housewife in the end”, that’s what the tradition passed along by the elders to the new generation. As I watched all of my friends in a race of who gets married first or who has the cutest kid, I was daydreaming of something else. I made plans, scribbled about traveling, going to somewhere exotic and meet strangers. I pictured myself exploring temples, getting lost in some old china town or swimming in the sea off an island in the middle of nowhere.

I never thought the decision to live by myself in Bali would turn out to be the first step of my journey. Surprisingly, I met so many people who have the same passion as me. Ubud is a small town where everybody knows everyone, and it felt like I had another family from many different countries and ages. Whenever they tell stories about their adventures in many different countries, I felt so envious of their courage, especially those of solo female travelers.

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I kept thinking, "Why can’t I do that too?"

There are some things that are meant to be for us. I have faith that everything happens for a reason; the time when my dad passed away, the time when I moved to Bali, the time when I met amazing women who thought like me, and the time when I decided to end my bad relationship that has been going nowhere. I know that I need to do this trip to find my own path. I am no longer where I have been. I’m still on my way to where I am going. I would rather try and jump, risking everything at this moment, than wonder “What if?” for the rest of my life. So I packed my bags, left the world where I grew up, used all of my savings, quit my full time job and said goodbye to the comfortable life that I had.

I am not going to lie. I have never been this scared of being on my own. I am still running away from something, but I don’t even know what it is. I believe in the possibility of something better waiting out there for me. The same old routine life that people do, maybe it is good life indeed, maybe they are really happy about it, and maybe I would even like it if I try. I am open to anything.

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But before that happens, I need to know there are no other options that could be right for me.

I always thought that my own country, Indonesia is an amazing place to travel. I love my hometown so much that I felt that there's no better place on earth. But after 3 months of travelling to several countries, I learned that each place has its own charm. Every country has its natural diversity, unique traditions, amazing variety of food and what interests me more is the history that connects all of us. I see a much bigger world than I could ever imagine.

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Traveling on my own taught me to be more patient, to get to know myself, to see how far I would go to survive, to be disciplined in time and to learn to organize my own schedule. Moreover, it taught me to say “No” to people and to understand that it is okay not to follow what others expect. It gives me some space away from my family and friends, to be free to choose what I want, to speak my own opinion, and to find out who I really am without anyone's influence. Travel saved me from becoming what everyone wants me to be. Instead, it made me trust my own instincts and realize what I really want to do. I rely on myself on every aspect of my travel plans.

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Being alone sometimes also forces me to trust strangers and interact more with people. I am braver and have more confident about myself than before. I stumbled upon people who open their doors for me and welcome me to their family and their inner circle. I befriended so many travelers around the world from many different cultures and languages.

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I feel like I am never alone during this trip, because every place that I go to feels like home.

Editor's note: Marina became a solo traveler at 23 years old and she first traveled to Karimun Jawa island in Indonesia. After the trip, she became addicted to travel. So she went on short trips to small islands in Indonesia where she could dive and snorkel. It was then that she decided to explore other countries indefinitely. Southeast Asia was her first choice. She started in Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. She traveled for more than 4 months and the experience changed her life perspective.

It made her miss Indonesia and changed the way she looked at her own country. She began to appreciate it more, respect it more. She grew to love Indonesia more.

She decided to come back home and see what she had been missing. She realised that Indonesia is a country with hundreds of islands, traditions and cultures that are waiting to be explored. This time, Indonesia is her destination.

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Marina is half Chinese and half Sundanesse, 100% pledge in love being Indonesian. Art and design has always been her passion since she was a kid. She is still chasing her dream to be a great graphic designer and a traveler at the same time. Her goal is to inspire more Indonesian women to travel and see the world. Join her adventures on Jejak Marina and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @utamimarina.


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