By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

One of the best ways to experience travel is by indulging in the local cuisine.

In Portland, Maine, there are many dishes crafted with fresh, local food that every visitor must try. Here are the top 10 dishes that Portlanders love — and visitors will, too:

1. Pancakes With Maple Syrup

The most important meal of the day needs to be delicious and satisfy hearty appetites. Pairing buttery pancakes with fresh fruit and local syrup to make breakfast is classic. For Portlanders, the pancakes are great, but they aren’t necessarily the highlight. It’s the maple syrup — which is produced all over Maine — that makes the meal.

People from Maine love their maple syrup so much, they have a day called Maine Maple Sunday each year in March to celebrate the official state sweetener.

2. Potato Donuts

Typical donuts are made with yeast, salt, butter, sugar, buttermilk and flour — but then there are potato donuts. This Portland staple has those same ingredients as well, but there are also mashed potatoes thrown in, making them heartier than your typical glazed or iced breakfast treat.

People in Portland love that they can eat their savory spuds in a sweet way. The Holy Donut, made potato donuts a staple when they opened in 2011 and started cranking out 40 dozen a week — all made from scratch — before growing to 100 dozen and more. Now, they make over two million donuts a year.

3. Poutine Fries

Poutine is also popular among Portland potato enthusiasts, especially when it originated just next door. Originally from Canada, poutine is made with thick-cut french fries, locally sourced cheese curds and homemade gravy. The dish is typically offered as an appetizer or side and is gone within minutes.

4. Hot Dogs

Carnival and fair food have a place on the Portlander’s plate as well.

Jazzing up a hot dog is something Portland takes pride in, especially when creative renditions become popular. Made with local beef, restaurants like Blue Rooster Co. and El Corazon are crafting franks featuring flavors like kimchi, peanuts, beans and guacamole. Adding a bit more to the hot dog seems to give it a better spot on the menu.

5. Crab Salad

Crab salad is a customizable dish, which can be offered as an appetizer or main meal. Crabbers catch and harvest their crabs off Portland’s own shores, so the crab is always fresh. Top a bed of fresh greens with it or use it to dress up your pasta salad for some northern Atlantic flair.

6. Clambake

A traditional clambake you might find in New England is done over a fire-pit in the sand — but it can also be done without. It’s made of mussels, clams, lobster and any other kind of seafood you like, along with corn, potatoes, onions and other veggies. It’s completely customizable, so it’ll likely vary a bit depending on where it’s being served, but it’s perfect for those who want to indulge in a variety of seafood. Plus, it feeds multiple people at one time, so it’s ideal for sharing at parties and special occasions.

7. Haddock Chowder

Haddock and fish chowder is another delicacy Portlanders love. The dish was created by Helen and Larry Mugnai when they opened Helen’s Restaurant in 1950, and it’s been called a New England classic ever since.

8. Lobster Grilled Cheese

It wouldn’t be the best bites of Portland, Maine without mentioning lobster.

Lobster finds itself in many seafood dishes, but none are like the lobster grilled cheese. Seared between two thick slices of bread with melted butter and cheese, lobster grilled cheese is a classic made for Portlanders of all ages.

9. Lobster Pie

Besides adding lobster to their grilled cheese, Portlanders have found ways to incorporate lobster into other dishes, too.

Combining all the warm, comforting aspects of pot pie with Portland lobster, lobster pot pies are popping up on the food scene and delighting taste buds. It’s like chicken pot pie, but it uses lobster tails and crab combined with the chicken broth and fresh vegetables instead.

10. Lobster Rolls

Offered at many restaurants and food stands, lobster rolls are one of the best dishes when it comes to traditional Portland fare. Blanketed with butter that highlights the fresh catch and seeps into the soft bun, a lobster roll is something every Portland visitor should experience. It’s one of the must-eat items when you visit Maine.

The Way to Portland’s Heart

Any of the dishes above are bound to turn visitors into happy travelers. When stomachs are satisfied, so are hearts — and they’ll want to come back.


Kacey Mya Profile Picture

                                            ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter & Pinterest.


By Leila Dorari

The island nation of Japan might not seem as the ideal winter getaway but you’d be surprised to find out what it has to offer to prospective skiers and snowboarders. Of course, you don’t have to be a professional to ski in Japan, nor do you have to know how to ski at all, as there is always time to learn during Japan’s ski season while enjoying off-piste activities. After all, if you are traveling to The “Land of the Rising Sun”, there are many other things you can experience from food to architecture to culture.

The Best Skiing and Snowboarding Spots in Japan

While you can explore all Japan has to offer anywhere in the country, you’ll find most of Japan’s ski resorts are located on the north island of Hokkaido and on the main island of Honshu.

Niseko

Niseko is the winter pearl of Hokkaido and it’s famous around the world for its rich snow deposits in winter, as it can fall up to 17 meters of snow per season. This is especially alluring for tourists who prefer to stay in luxurious condominiums and apartments, as well as in five-star hotels that Niseko is known for. Besides the well-marked slopes, the area has a vibrant nightlife with a lot of nightclubs and restaurants that serve the local and national cuisine. This does not mean that families do not come here as well, as kids will plenty of things to do too and since it gets so many international visitors, you won’t have to worry about the language barrier as everyone speaks English well!

ski hill in japan with a view of mount Fuji

Tomamu

When it comes to family winter holidays, no place is better on Hokkaido Island than Tomamu. Located a 3 hours drive from the airport in Sapporo, the local capital, it has ease of access for guests flying in. The area welcomes all families with off-the-slope activities tailored for each member of the family from small children, who can learn their first ski moves here, all the way to adults who can turn semi-pro on Tomamau’s slopes. The accommodations available are more than solid and offers more relaxation as the whole place is a lot quieter than Niseko.

The Hakuba Valley

When it comes to the main island of Honshu, the hotspot for Japan’s ski season and winter sports is by far the Hacuba Valley. It is large in size and boasts 11 resorts which all have picturesque slopes. Much like Niseko, the nightlife is vibrant here and especially welcome are English-speaking skiers who at times feel like they never left home in linguistic terms. The staff is friendly and they will assist you with any problem you might have, proving that the Japanese people really are as hospitable as people say they are. The ski tracks are maintained regularly and ski lifts operate flawlessly, so you will not spend much time waiting in lines. Both beginners and seasoned skiers will find the trails interesting because there are both long and steep runs.

snowboarding down a Japanese mountain

Myoko Kogen

This area probably gets the most annual snowfall than any other place in Japan, making it perfect for snow sports. Myoko Kogen is easily accessible by the bullet train from Tokyo, just a two hour ride, so it is accessible to foreigners flying into the country’s capital. The main village of Akakura Onsen is where most of the accommodation facilities are located and from there you can access any of the four major resorts that are connected to one another through ski lifts. The best feature is that one ski pass is valid at all four locations! For those who are thinking of skiing in Japan on a budget, Myoko Kogen is perfect because most of its hotels are mid-range in terms of prices.

Appi Kogen

The last ski area in Japan on the list might not be as famous as the other four but it is slowly becoming a favorite among Western guests. This is because its snow is powdery, making it ideal not only for skiing and snowboarding but for simply playing in the snow or long walks through the forest. Located in the Tohoku prefecture, this area offers a lot of side activities, such as traditional restaurants and hot springs to relax in. Large hotels, like the Appi Grand Hotel include all of these amenities in the price, so you will have a variety of activities to choose from. A day trip to Morioka city, the cultural hub of the region, is highly recommended as you can experience Japan as it once was.

The winter tourism in Japan is quite developed and when you consider this destination’s other benefits such as culture and transport, it makes Japan the perfect place for a ski holiday. Tanoshinde [enjoy] as the Japanese would say!

About The Author

Leila Dorari is an entrepreneur and freelance writer from Sydney. She is passionate about exploring different places across the globe and believes that first you need to get lost before you can get found. In her free time you can usually find her hiking with her furry four-legged friend.

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Whether you live around Toronto or are just visiting, you know there is so much to do and see right in the city, but sometimes it’s nice to take a bit of a detour and explore outside the main core, especially when you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a couple’s staycation.

Ontario has so much to offer for couple’s looking for an escape together with many places that provide an intimate and relaxing atmosphere. We sometimes like to feel like we’ve travelled somewhere far away to have some time together without actually having to do so and so and we absolutely love to find hotels and other styles of accommodation that offer that experience whether we find it contained within the property or by exploring destination surrounding it. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite of those romantic places you can find within driving distance of Toronto.

5 Romantic Getaways Within Driving Distance From Toronto

Here are 5 of the best romantic hotel destinations that we believe heave some amazing things to offer for couples looking for a getaway close to Toronto. Whether it’s a hotel or a resort, an outdoor adventure experience or a bed and breakfast, these 5 destinations offer something different for every type of couple!

romantic getaway at riverbend inn Niagara-on-the-lake
View over Riverbend Inn Vineyard

Riverbend Inn, Niagara-on-the-Lake

We’ve already written a full review of Riverbend Inn, the room and property, and liked it so much we just had to include it on this list. About an hour and a half drive from the downtown core of Toronto, Riverbend Inn is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a picturesque area full of wineries, small town charm and gorgeous landscapes.

The Inn itself is situated on a vineyard which lends itself to some pretty romantic views no matter the season. We absolutely loved the historic inn and the beautiful decor of our room with a cozy fireplace for the winter, creating an even more romantic atmosphere.

Though you wouldn’t need to leave very often, as they have a restaurant and just walking around the grounds is a pleasant activity, the area boasts tons of activities year-round including wine festivals and local markets. It’s also close in proximity to Niagara Falls if you’re planning a longer stay and want to see one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world.

No matter how long you stay or what you choose to do while there, Riverbend Inn is one of our top romantic getaway choices for couple’s looking to get some time together away from crowds and spend some time focused on each other.

Romantic Getaway at Long Point Eco Adventure
Glamping Cabins at Long Point Eco Adventure

Long Point Eco Adventure, Norfolk County

Though it’ll take you almost 2 hours to get to Long Point Eco Adventure from downtown Toronto, it is well worth the drive if you’re looking for a unique couple’s getaway that offers both romance and outdoor activity.

Their accommodations range from more rustic cabins to total glamping and no matter which one you choose, the intimate nature of the cabins and suites, as well as the quiet, peaceful surroundings of the area, make it a romantic escape.

We loved that there were lots of things to do as well and found ourselves having tons of fun axe-throwing and even challenging ourselves with their zip-lining course. They’ve also got a cool nighttime zip-lining experience (though we did ours during the day) and offer boat tours, mountain biking, kayaking, apiary and fishing tours and so much more straight through the main reception building.

Whether you want to get out and meet a few people as you go on the tours and participate in the activities, walk the property and sit by the nighttime campfire or stick to spending time with just each other, you’ll find you’ll be able to spend your time together however you please – especially with a vineyard and restaurant right across the street. The Burning Kiln has winery tours and some great wines, as well as one phenomenal restaurant where you can switch your food options up and go for a romantic meal.

It’s a pretty great place overall to spend time with the one you love and have some fun while you’re at it!

Burlington Ontario Waterfront Hotel Burlington
View From Waterfront Hotel Burlington

Waterfront Hotel Burlington, Burlington

Less than an hour’s drive from downtown Toronto, you’ll find Burlington, a suburb that has boomed with it’s own activity and city life. We’ve lived near Burlington for so long but it was only recently that we actually managed to take a weekend to stay there and explore. When we did, we stayed at the Waterfront Hotel Burlington and we found that the hotel, and the surrounding area, has much to offer any type of traveller but it is also a fantastic destination for a romantic getaway.

The Waterfront Hotel Burlington is located exactly as its name suggests: along the waterfront in downtown Burlington. The Waterfront Trail is perfect for a romantic stroll and there is usually a lot of activity downtown any time of the year, but especially in the summertime.

The rooms are spacious, clean and stylish and the hotel also has a pool, hot tub, fitness centre and restaurant so your time within the hotel is comfortable and amenity-full. We loved that complimentary breakfast is included and it is a short walk from amazing restaurants if you do decide to venture out for a meal. If you do choose to find an alternate breakfast spot or an after-breakfast coffee and doughnut, we’d highly recommend The Sunshine Doughnut Co. within walking distance.

Nearby, you’ll find the Art Gallery of Burlington, various festivals, a food tour with Burlington Food Tours and various bars, restaurants and cafes. If you’re making it a weekend getaway and want to venture outside the downtown area, you’ll find the Royal Botanical Gardens and Nickel Brook Brewing Co. are great additions to your itinerary.

While we spent a weekend in Burlington exploring, we only scratched the surface as this is one place you could spend a lot of time exploring together, especially the culinary scene!

Casino Rama Hotel Room
Casino Rama Resort Deluxe Suite

Casino Rama Resort, Orillia

An hour and a half north of the city you’ll find a resort that promises a complete escape from the city. The hotel itself offers only luxury suites which means you’ll have a little home-away-from-home and since there is delicious food, a wonderful spa and great entertainment right within the resort itself (you don’t need to step outside) you can hibernate inside and immerse yourself in each other and still wander away from the hotel room to find fun things to do together. While it is known for its casino, there’s a lot more to the resort than just gambling and we’ve actually already written about some of the things to do at Casino Rama beyond gambling!

Another great thing about Casino Rama Resort is that it is located in a beautiful area with a lot of outdoor activities as well as museums and a really wonderful food scene. If you do decide to step outside the resort property, you’ll find amazing places to eat in Orillia and lots to do too! Wintertime is especially romantic with the fireplace in your suite and still offers a ton of things to do in Orillia.

Downtown Toronto

Hotel X, Toronto

While all the other romantic getaway destinations are outside of Toronto, there is one place located downtown that allows you to feel like you’ve escaped the city even while sticking to the heart of it.

Hotel X is one of Toronto’s newest hotels right on the waterfront and offers its guests a complete escape from the bustling city around it. It’s the ultimate staycation if you’re from around the city and one fantastic romantic weekend getaway destination if you’re travelling into Toronto, with its many restaurant and cafe options, athletic facility, rooftop pool, cinema, gallery and archaeological exhibit along with tons of complimentary amenities.

If you’re looking for a way to spend some time exclusively focused on each other and avoid the distractions of the outside world, Hotel X is where you’ll want to go.

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Romantic Getaways near Toronto

The more languages we know, the more doors around the globe are opened for us. Learning a language can never be a negative thing because by knowing a foreign language you basically get to know a new universe – the culture, the people, the places, the food. The list is endless. The question is, where, how and which language to learn? Well, you can try to learn as many as you physically and mentally can, but the best way to do so is to go to some of these places in order to get the best linguistic experience possible.

4 of the Best Countries to Learn Another Language

Quebec City, Canada learning french

Study French In Canada

When you travel to a different country, you certainly don’t want to be “lost in translation”. As you get to learn a new language, you get to learn the people and their traditions and customs. Being in Canada, one of the multicultural countries, is the most thrilling way to learn even two languages. French is the mother tongue of more than six million people, but English is the official language as well. If you happen to be an English speaker or you know English better and want to learn French, then choosing any of the schools in Quebec might be the win-win option. People might be speaking French in slightly different intonation than in France, but you will be able to learn all the grammatical and linguistic terms and characteristics.

Study Spanish in Costa Rica

The Spanish language is one of the most spoken languages in the world, next to English, French, and German. Due to its popularity, and the ability for the learners to acquire it more easily, people opt to learn it because they will also have an opportunity to go to sunny places. People are misled when they think that you have to go to Spain to learn Spanish. To get the best experience abroad, low-cost but effective schooling and beautiful weather you should go to Costa Rica. As one of the many countries where Spanish is spoken, Costa Rica is not so over-crowded with tourists. There are many language experts that can transfer knowledge equally professionally as if you were in Spain, but for less money and a more hands-on approach. You will not have much comfort in speaking English, so you will only succumb to speaking Spanish thus, learning it is inevitable. Sydney, Australia learning English

Study English in Australia

London is too jam-packed with tourists and people around the globe who go there to find work. You will actually get the best experience possible by studying English in Sydney, Australia. Known for beautiful weather, dazzling beaches, friendly people, and bustling architect, Sydney is undoubtedly the best place there is. By enrolling in Sydney College of English, to study this number one world language, you will have the opportunity to become more fluent, meet people from all around the globe, get an official certificate and even learn about their culture, history, and pick up the Aussie slang. The enchanting blue sea hasn’t left any visitor disappointed so, after the lessons, you can head out to the beach for a quick surf with the locals and immerse yourself into learning the language even more.

Study German in Switzerland

A country where there are more official languages, four in this case, Switzerland is perfectly tucked in central Europe, making it ideal to learn more that one language. You can even learn to speak French or Italian, but learning to speak German might be the most effective. Zürich is the ideal place to explore everything. You can easily hop in on a train and explore the whole central Europe and that way enhances your ability to acquire the German language. Many schools in Zürich allow you to practice German as you do other fun activities that locals do like skiing in the Alps, visiting various museums, participating in the walking tours around the old town, and so on. The interesting thing is that you will have a chance to take in a lot of things connected to the German language in this small but perfectly formed country. The best way to learn a foreign language is to pick it up on the go. Whether you are rock climbing, surfing or mingling with the locals while you are preparing a delicious dish, language is definitely best learned when you don’t have the choice to speak your mother tongue.


About The Author

Leila Dorari is an entrepreneur and freelance writer from Sydney. She is passionate about exploring different places across the globe and believes that first you need to get lost before you can get found. In her free time you can usually find her hiking with her furry four-legged friend.

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Best Countries to learn a second language

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

From the bustling boardwalk to the smiling faces, there are plenty of things I enjoy about Ocean City, though I must admit my favorite part of visiting this pleasant beach town is the food. Ocean City has a broad range of fresh, unique savory options that make my mouth water just remembering them. I’m excited to share some of my favorites with you.

7 of the Top Places To Eat in Ocean City

Best in Brunch – OC Surf Café

This little café might be known for their beachy décor, but I know them for their sweet potato burrito. Each burrito comes with the perfect combination of black beans, guacamole, grilled sweet potatoes and cheese all wrapped together in a whole wheat tortilla for less than ten dollars. Make sure to roll out of bed before two in the afternoon, or you’ll miss the deliciousness. The café is open Thursday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 
 
 
 
 
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Sweet Treats –Hobby Horse Ice Cream Parlor

I never make a trip to the beach without stopping by the local ice cream parlor for a sweet treat. Located on Ocean Ave, this family owned shop is hard to miss with the carousel horse out front. I have a tough time deciding between the 47 different flavor offerings, which range from maple walnut to rum raisin to traditional vanilla bean. The owners use real ingredients for all of their ice cream – it’s easy to taste the difference. The parlor is open seasonally from May to October.

Peaceful Surfing – 4th Street Café

Going wrong with art, coffee and free Wi-Fi is hard. I like to stop in 4th Street Café before heading down to the beach to soak up some sun. The cafe offers free Wi-Fi for guests and a frequently changing assortment of food and artwork available at affordable prices. I find it impossible to get bored with the selections here. Though hours vary in the winter and summer, the café is open year-round.

Fresh Seafood – Spadafora’s Restaurant and Clam Bar

When dining alone, I prefer to head to casual, low-key restaurants with the best food I can find. Spadafora’s Restaurant and Clam Bar doesn’t disappoint. My favorite selections here are the Cape May Sea Scallops and the Blackened Tuna Taco. It’s no surprise Spadafora’s is known as one of the best restaurants on the Jersey Shore. Make sure to stop by during the summer months as they are only open seasonally.

Guilty Pleasure – Cathy’s 14th Street Bakery

After a morning workout, I savor nothing more than biting into one of Cathy’s 14th Street Bakery’s famous white cream donuts sans guilt. Located on the corner of Asbury Avenue and 14th Street close to downtown, Cathy’s is easily accessible. While it’s hard to pick a favorite bakery in Ocean City – there are at least three others throughout town – the fresh ingredients and warm service are, to me, what set Cathy’s apart. Before visiting, call ahead or check their Facebook page, hours can vary.

Traditional Fare – Manco & Manco

More times than I like to admit, I don’t have a chance to sit down for a meal. Other times I prefer to grab a quick bite on the go rather than take a break from what I’m doing. Regardless, Manco & Manco offers the perfect solution with their single slice pizza options. The price tag is a bit higher compared to some of the other local fare, but it is well worth it for the quality. My personal favorites are the spinach or the plain. Manco & Manco is open year-round from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

 
 
 
 
 
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Change of Pace – Yianni’s Cafe

Yes, it is possible to continue eating healthily while visiting the Jersey Shore even though I don’t always like to. Yianni’s Café makes it easy to stick to any diet. Stop in and try the Greek Island Ahi Tuna with lentils and grilled zucchini, it’s divine. Not a fan of fish or seafood? The portabella mushroom sandwich, topped with sautéed spinach and red peppers is packed with flavor. Yianni’s is open year-round.

Ocean City, New Jersey has many eating options which will please the palates of even the pickiest eaters. Excuse me while I order a pizza, I worked up an appetite recalling all those mouth-watering choices.


 Kacey Mya Profile Picture                                           ABOUT THE AUTHOR                                                           

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter & Pinterest.


 

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Where to Eat in Ocean City New Jersey

For many, winter means travelling to warmer destinations and escaping the cold, but what if we told you there was a place you could go that would make you fall in love with the season, snow and all? That may be hard to believe for some but it’s exactly what happened to us when we visited Quebec City in the winter. We fell in love with pretty much everything about it and it has become one of our favourite destinations, no matter the season. It’s a place that has something to do throughout the year and with so much to offer when the temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall, Quebec City in the winter is an experience you’ll definitely want to have.

Top Things To Do When You Visit Quebec City In The Winter

If you do get a chance to explore Quebec City in the winter months, we’ve put together a list of some of the best things to do while there that will have you experiencing the city indoors and out!

Spend The Night In An Ice Hotel

Perhaps one of the most unique things to do in Quebec City involves ice… and a lot of it. The Ice Hotel, or Hotel de Glace, is the only ice hotel in North America and one of the most unique experiences we’ve ever had.  The hotel is located on the property of the Village Vacances Valcartier and is made of solid ice, sculpted each year to fit a different theme with multiple rooms and suites, a bar area and an ice slide. Guests can choose to stay in a regular room, a themed suite or one of the fireplace suites as well. They’ll provide everything you need, and walk you through the process, to stay warm and comfortable through the night. You’ll also get a room at the Hotel Valcartier on the grounds to keep your luggage, charge your phones, shower or use after you wake up in the ice hotel or if you should choose to leave your ice room earlier in the morning. 

It really is a once in a lifetime experience and we were surprised at how warm we were the whole evening! We also loved that the ice hotel is located on the same property as one great resort and winter playground, which is a whole other experience to have while in Quebec City in the winter!

Embrace The Season At Village Vacances Valcartier

Village Vacances Valcartier

As we had mentioned, the Ice Hotel is located at the Village Vacances Valcartier, a resort that includes the Hotel Valcartier, restaurants and an indoor waterpark. Whether you spend the night at the Ice Hotel or not, this is definitely a place to check out as you can enjoy the entire property AND visit the Ice Hotel for a tour to see the amazing sculptures and works of art throughout.

Since the outdoor waterpark is obviously not functional in the winter time, the grounds become a winter playground which is, according to them, the largest winter playground in North America. Here you’ll find 35 snow slides, a skateway that is illuminated in the evening, a snow fort and mini-slides for younger kids.

Tip: Village Vacances Valcartier is located a bit outside old Quebec. If you’re not planning on spending the evening at either the Ice Hotel or the Hotel Valcartier, we would recommend you get there earlier in the day in order to experience as much of the grounds, including touring the Ice Hotel, as you can.

Enjoy The Festivities At Winter Carnival/Carnaval de Quebec

Carnaval in Quebec City Winter Carnival

The first major winter carnival took place in 1894 and though it was interrupted for a period of time, it was brought back and has evolved into the huge winter celebration it has become today. If you are able to travel to Quebec City during Carnaval de Quebec (typically the end of January into the beginning of February) we would highly recommend taking time to explore the various activities throughout the city. From a parade, to an ice castle, outdoor games, drinks and food and even an ice canoe race, the Winter Carnival in the city highlights the camaraderie of the people, the fun of the culture and the joy that can be found even in the dead of winter. They’ll have a full schedule of events online and be sure to see if you can track down Bonhomme! He’s a national celebrity! 

Tip: Though it is cold out during this time, there are many ways to keep warm that will allow you to stay out for longer periods of time. Layers of breathable material, winter jacket, hat, globes scarf, snow pants and warm boots. Our MUST HAVE for winter excursions are the warm packs (like HotHands) for feet and hands. Just bring a bunch with you, take them out of the package when you are ready to head out and slip one in each of your boots and gloves (bring extra just in case). They’ll keep warm for hours and really make a difference.

Warm Up While Enjoying Amazing Cuisine

La Buche Quebec City

There is no shortage of good food to be found in Quebec City and stepping indoors to grab a tasty meal makes for the perfect excuse for escaping the cold. 

One of our favourite sit-down restaurants, offering traditional Quebecois cuisine is La Buche in Old Quebec. It is in a perfect location if you’re exploring the city and we always make a point of visiting when we can. Their food is ridiculously good and offers locally inspired dishes like foie gras, poutine, rabbit wings, meat pies and smoked salmon. We haven’t been disappointed with any dish we’ve tried and we are always impressed with the overall experience.

Tip: Check out their bathroom. It’s pretty much an art installation.

If you’re not looking to stop for long because, and trust us, the streets of Quebec even in the winter will have you enthralled, we’d recommend making a quick stop at one of the locations of the chain restaurant Chez AshTon. We hear it’s a late-night stop for many locals but we found it enjoyable no matter the time of day. Though their poutine is the main attraction, their burgers, hotdogs and sandwiches are quite good as well.

Tip: We loved La Galvaude poutine – with fries, chicken, green peas and gravy – though if you want to make it a real poutine, you’ll need to ask them to add cheese curds to your order!

Take Part in Unique Experiences on The River

Ice Fishing in Quebec City

One of the coolest (excuse the pun) areas of Quebec City for winter fun is the St. Lawrence River.  In fact, there are some incredibly unique activities that happen pretty much ON the river. At the Village Nordik du port de Quebec you’ll find another kind of winter playground. Here you can participate in ice fishing, whether in an igloo or open air, and even purchase a package which includes a chef preparing food for you after your ice fishing experience OR preparing your catch as a meal if you do end up catching something. They also have an outdoor skating area if you’re looking to spend more active time on the river and because the Village Nordik is located at the Market Old Port of Quebec (or the Marche du Vieux-Port de Quebec, you’ll also be able to head inside to warm up with some shopping, food and hot beverages. 

Another neat winter activity in Quebec City that happens on the river is the Quebec City-Levis Ferry. The ferry operates year round and offers stunning views of Quebec City from the water and from the Levis side of the river. You’ll also get the opportunity to see the ice breaking as the ferry moves through the water which is a unique experience in itself.

Tip: While on the Levis side, you should take the opportunity to explore a bit and grab a bite to eat or a hot beverage before heading back across. 

Participate in Incredible Winter Outdoor Activities With A View

Just taking a walk around the city will have you running into some stunning views and cool city sights no matter what time of the year you visit Quebec City but there are a few outdoor activities you can participate in, that we haven’t already mentioned, that will offer a special view in the winter.

One of our favourite streets to walk is Rue Saint-Jean and in the winter time, Place D’Youville located on it, has an outdoor skating rink (with skate rentals) open both in the day and night that will have you gliding in the midst of a winter wonderland. It’s a beautiful location to be outdoors and skating around and we particularly enjoy it at night when the street is lit up.

If you visit Quebec City you’ll definitely be seeing the iconic Chateau Frontenac and the Plains of Abraham and in the winter these two areas become host to gorgeous views. The plains of Abraham are a perfect spot for snowshoeing (we often see rentals in the area but it would be a good idea to plan ahead) and the views are amazing especially if you can make your way to Terrasse Pierre-Dugua-de Mons and look out over the St. Lawrence river and the Chateau Frontenac. At the Dufferin Terrace by the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac, you’ll find a toboggan slide that was built in 1884. Of course there’s no better time to toboggan then in the winter and the views going down are great, that is if you can keep your eyes open while reaching speeds of up to 70km/hr!

You’ll also find you’ll run into some unique treasures in the winter by just taking a walk outdoors around Quebec City. Throughout Carnaval, ice sculptures are placed across the city and statues of Bonhomme are scattered around. 

While not technically outdoors, we absolutely love going to the Observatoire de la Capitale, an observatory that allows you near panoramic views of the city. In the winter, when the white snow coats the city and the winter weather makes it seem almost still and silent, it’s an extra beautiful view. 

Tip: The last time we went to the observatory we got there before sunset and before it closed and were able to catch the city in the daylight and watch as night fell and the lights of the city turned on.

 

There was a period of time when one of us had some serious health issues that required some dietary restrictions for almost a year. During that time, we stocked up on recipes and ingredient knowledge in order to accommodate the various foods and food groups that were no longer allowed as part of that diet.

What that lead to was a multitude of clean-eating recipes that were acceptable for a wide range of dietary restrictions and, because of the sheer amount of time cooking can take when you’re limited with your options, a whole lot that were quick and easy!

It was when we were looking for quick, energy-packed snacks that we stumbled upon a vegan, gluten-free multi-seed cracker recipe that was not only easy and fast to make, but also super healthy and good for multiple things – from snacks on the go, to energy boosters before and after workouts, to dippable or spreadable crackers.

These are super simple to make and are delicious as well as healthy and we love to eat these crackers on their own or with great tasting dips like Sabra hummus. We’ll often add these crackers to one of our party platters with several Sabra hummus flavours like in our Super Bowl Pop-Up Platter! It creates a snack or platter that anyone can enjoy.

Healthy Multi-Seed Cracker Recipe

This makes approximately 25 larger crackers and can be stored in an air tight container for a couple weeks.

healthy multi-seed crackers

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup of any of the following seeds: raw sunflower, raw pumpkin, raw sesame, raw hemp, raw, whole flax (We prefer 1/2 cup each of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds).
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, finely grated (optional)
  • Seasoning of choice: pepper, chilli flakes, onion powder, oregano, rosemary, thyme (optional)

Steps:

In a bowl, combine seeds, seasoning (if desired), grated garlic and 1/4 tsp of salt and stir

  1. Add water and stir until well combined
  2. Let mixture sit for a few minutes until mixture becomes almost gelatinous (what results when chia seeds absorb the water)
  3. Preheat oven to 300F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  4. Spread mixture out onto sheet in 2-3 rectangles, spreading out until 1/4″ or thinner
  5. Sprinkle some more salt on top
  6. Bake for 35 minutes
  7. Flip rectangles and bake for another 35 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges
  8. Let cool for 10 minutes before breaking into smaller crackers and let cool completely
  9. Crackers are ready to be dipped! These can also be stored in an airtight container  or frozen for later use

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easy multi-seed cracker recipe

 

We had been thinking of making the switch to more natural products for a while. Learning about harmful chemicals and environmental toxins that seem to have infiltrated every bottle and jar of bath and beauty products we owned was certainly terrifying, but with the amount of travel we do it just never seemed to make sense nor did it appear to be feasible.

It wasn’t until a friend of ours came for a visit during while we were back at home and told us about the DIY deodorant and skincare workshop she went to. After telling us what she had made, she promptly pulled out her deodorant stick and showed us her own homemade deodorant. From that conversation we learned that not only was it simple to make, it was also travel-friendly. Thus began our foray into homemade products and our efforts to find ways to take all of them with us wherever we go.

Why Homemade Deodorant?

So why make homemade deodorant? This question gets a bit tricky when you delve into the scientific community and the hotly debated topic of cancer-causing agents. Deodorants and antiperspirants usually contain compounds such as parabens, aluminum chloralhydrate, aluminum zirconium, triclosan, talc, propylene glycol, and fragrances (just to name a few). While research results have been contradictory, there is a prevailing belief that many of these are irritants and toxic at best and cancer-causing at worst.

For us, the thought of simplifying the chemicals our bodies come into contact with, especially our skin which is our body’s largest organ, just makes sense. Whether those chemicals have been proven to be carcinogens or not. For the female half, it’s incredibly hard to find deodorant without antiperspirant and the idea of not letting your body sweat also seems strange. Isn’t that a part of the body’s natural functions? Add to that the environmental benefit of reducing the processing, use and disposal of those chemicals and we thought it was a no-brainer.

What we later learned was that homemade deodorant doesn’t just make sense because of the above, it is also cheaper costing only a fraction of what we would pay for deodorant, cleaner on our skin as well as our clothes, and works so much better. We actually found we needed to apply less and less frequently the longer we used our natural deodorant.

Our DIY Deodorant Recipe

Our go-to homemade deodorant recipe involves 3 ingredients. That’s it! Well, there are 4 ingredients if you also want to add a pretty smell, but either way it’s minimal time, effort and cost.

For the two of us, we use the following recipe and it lasts us a good month. During the summertime, we may go through it a bit faster.

  • 1/2 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 12 Tbsp coconut oil
  • Essential oil (optional and any scent preferred)

Steps:

  1. Blend baking soda and arrowroot powder thoroughly in a bowl
  2. Mix in coconut oil and blend completely
  3. Add drops of an essential oil of your choice until the desired strength is reached. (We often use lemongrass as it is a pretty neutral smell for the both of us to use and will add drops until a mild smell is reached)
  4. Transfer to an old deodorant container or a small container with a lid for use.

Note: We find that the deodorant will be a bit more watery for the first day or so until it sets at room temperature. After that, it should be more creamy than solid but should not be liquid unless stored or transported in warm temperatures.

Options:

  • If you are unable to find arrowroot powder, you can substitute with cornstarch. We find this mix to be a bit more clumpy and can leave debris on clothing.
  • You can also adjust baking soda levels to suit your needs. If you find the mixture too abrasive, reduce the amount of baking soda or if you find it is just not doing the trick after a week or so of using it, add a little more baking soda for extra odour eating strength.

Best Ways To Travel With Homemade Deodorant

Especially when it is warm, we will keep the old deodorant containers in the fridge so that the deodorant remains solid. Otherwise, we can store the containers of homemade deodorant wherever we choose.

We’ll be honest. Travelling with homemade deodorant isn’t always as simple as buying a stick of antiperspirant at the drugstore and throwing it in your suitcase but we’re pretty sure that once you start making and using it, you’ll find it’s worth the little extra thought it takes to pack and carry it around.

For one, coconut oil melts easily so if you’re travelling to warmer climates, you’ll need a sealed container that will hold it well if it should turn to liquid for a time. We usually use a small tupperware container with a tight-sealed lid and keep it in our toiletry bag in our checked luggage. Since it doesn’t have the ease of use of an old deodorant container, we’ll just use our fingers to apply.

You’ll also want to make sure you’ve made enough for the duration of your trip. If you’re like us and travel for long periods of time, you may sometimes underestimate and end up running out. Because it takes your body some time to adjust to the natural deodorant, and thus reverting back to store-bought for a short time will restart this process, we have found ourselves buying the ingredients we need and making more deodorant.

This can get tricky when you’re in a hotel room with no mixing bowls, measuring cups or utensils but we’ve managed to use the tumbler we carry for water and a hotel coffee cup. Since the powders are 1:1 ratio, we can fairly accurately measure those out and then we add the coconut oil to an approximate consistency. If it’s too harsh on the skin, we’ll add more coconut oil later and if it doesn’t absorb odours enough we do the same but with baking soda. It’s really not as difficult as it sounds and is a great way to customize it to your own needs while keeping your body and skin healthy.

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If you’re planning to travel to Australia and stay for a while whether it be for a working holiday, a gap year, an extended vacation, a temporary relocation or just looking to be location independent, there’s one thing that you’ll probably notice pretty fast: the cost of travel in Australia isn’t cheap, especially if you plan to be there for a while.

Accommodation, transportation and food can be incredibly pricey and when you’re looking to explore and see different places across the country/continent, you’ll be racking up those bills pretty quickly as you hop around to different hotels or Airbnbs, take buses or trains, and dine from restaurant to restaurant. You could, of course, minimize your costs by staying in one place for the duration but that may not be the best option if you’re looking to see and experience as much as you can.

There’s another option though, if you want to get around more easily and economically. It has a larger initial investment but is likely to save you some significant money as you go. It’s also a way that’s guaranteed to make you feel at home no matter where in Australia you choose to go.

All you have to do is buy a campervan or caravan and Australia is yours to explore!

Travel Australia in a Campervan or Caravan

travel by campervan in australia

Anyone who knows us, knows that we love to travel by car but not only does travelling Australia by campervan excite that part of us that loves road trips it also interests that part of us that loves to find the best and most efficient way to explore a country during long-term travel.

The obvious benefits are that you have your accommodation, dining and transportation all in one but these aren’t the only reasons why this is probably one of the best ways to travel the country/continent.

Here are 10 reasons why you should buy, and travel in, a campervan or caravan in Australia:

1.  It’s an easy process to find and buy a campervan or caravan – just use Gumtree

There’s one site that will make the process of finding and buying a campervan or caravan super easy – Gumtree. While you can use the site to find a whole host of previously owned items in many countries, it is a prime choice for searching for the best priced pre-owned vehicles and purchase is super easy through PayPal and an escrow-style platform that allows you and the seller to make an easy transaction, pick up your campervan and start your travels!

One thing to note is that if you choose to buy a caravan or campervan that requires towing, you may also need to purchase or rent a car along with it. These can also be purchased on Gumtree as well and can make it easy if you want to park yourself in one location, unhitch and drive around until you’re ready to move on again.

2. Save on the cost of accommodations

Since your accommodation travels with you, you won’t need to bother with the extra expense of hotels, airbnbs or the like. What you will be paying in addition to the cost of the campervan/vehicle itself, are campsite costs but they are a fraction of what you would otherwise be paying.

4. Gas is your only transportation cost

While gas can be expensive in Australia, you won’t have to worry about the prices of trains, buses or planes or the restrictions they pose on travel and extra expenses that invariably occur. Instead, you can budget and plan your routes and make your way around on your own terms.

5. Save on dining by making your own food

Dining out can be expensive regardless of where you are and even though tipping isn’t a thing in Australia, the price of eating out is high. With a caravan or campervan you can save on those pricey meals and shop at supermarkets or farmers markets and prepare your own meals. You can also buy your own alcoholic beverages and save on that cost as well. Even if you do decide to go out, finding a BYOB restaurant and pulling out your bottle of choice from your caravan to bring with you can also save you lots.

6. See so much of Australia while easily travelling the open expanses and carrying your stuff

There’s a lot of open space to traverse when getting from one place to another. As you move from place to place you’re able to enjoy the open road all the while exploring smaller towns and larger cities. You’ll also be able to reach a vast area and large number of places while carrying all of your stuff with you, easily.

caravan travel in australia

7. It’s one long road trip and those can be amazing!

We’ve already mentioned how much we love road trips so spending months on the road is an amazing concept for us. A campervan allows you to remain stationary when you want a break from being on the move but also allows you to set off on a new road trip whenever the urge strikes or whenever a new destination calls to you. And even though there is more involved when you are driving your home around with you, you can also apply many road trip hacks to your caravan travels as well!

8. Choose your own itinerary – go when and where for how long you want

You’re completely on your own time. There are no check in or checkout times, no deadlines or itineraries to follow. You can go when and where you want for however long you want. If you find a place you love, you can stay for as long as you want. If you want to take a beautiful sunset road trip, you can do that too. Australia is your playground and your caravan is the vehicle to experiencing everything you want.

9. Free entertainment is at your disposal

Because you can go anywhere at anytime, you’re able to choose any of the free events and festivals, walks and hikes, parks and beaches and other amazing sights as your entertainment and recreation while you travel. There are a whole host of festivals and celebrations in Australia and you’ll find a great number that are free.

Then of course, there’s the exploration of new cities and towns as well as the natural beauty of Australia, like the gorgeous beaches that the country is known for. You’ll definitely be able to stop by some of the more secluded secret beaches in Sydney for some time alone or as a romantic outing if you’re travelling as as couple.

The many secret beaches in Australia are also home to some amazing free entertainment. If there’s an area that does have an entrance fee, you can always see if there is a caravan site and pay for both your site for the evening with an added bonus of hiking and discovering the park or reserve as well.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your time while you’re there, the ultimate entertainment will be watching the scenery pass by through the windows as you drive.

10. Sell it and recoup some costs

Perhaps the best benefit of buying a caravan or campervan while travelling Australia is that when you are ready to leave, you can post an ad on Gumtree and resell for a good portion of what you paid (taking into account how many kilometres or how much wear you add) before you leave.

Although you will have that initial investment to consider, knowing that you’ll be able to get back a good portion of that money while having saved money during your travels should put your mind at ease.

 

However long you end up travelling in Australia, if you’re there for a longer chunk of time and are looking to really get a chance to explore the country and not break the bank, buying a caravan or campervan is definitely something you should seriously be considering. Just think of the views that await you outside your window all day, everyday!

 

 

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travel in australia in campervan

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Maintaining a healthy diet while traveling challenges the most avid adventurers. You must graze upon what’s readily available, and if you’re between flights or own a plane, the challenge makes you feel like you’re on an episode of “Survivor.” For those with dietary restrictions, it can risk your life.

Suddenly, a bag of baked chips costs the price of a fancy latte. You order a “dollar” menu burger for breakfast — sure, it’ll do, and you tell yourself you’ll make up for it by eating healthier later. Don’t wait for whenever that’ll be and prepare in advance with these airplane snacks and packing tips for every eater.

Fig and Fruit Bars

Bring fig and fruit bars along with you on the plane. What’s not love about a part-cookie, part-cake snack? There’s fruit in there, so it’s healthy.

You can find the prepacked fig and fruit bars in the granola bar area of the grocery store. You can also make your own and seal them in sandwich bags.

String Cheese

Want something the whole family will eat? Try string cheese as a simple peel-and-eat treat without any fuss or mess. You and your child can enjoy peeling apart each string, and this motion benefits developing motor skills in youngsters.

Purchase them individually-sealed to maintain optimal freshness, or vacuum seal each individually. If on a long flight, choose a hardier cheese to endure the hours. Keep this dairy item fresh in an insulating and cooling travel snack bag with other fruits and cold items.

Dried Fruits and Vegetable Slices

Dried fruit and vegetable chips satisfy cravings for crunchy snacks. Fruit and vegetables turn brown when plant tissue is exposed to oxygen —  enzymes inside the chloroplasts quickly oxidize compounds in the fruit tissues. Dry fruits and vegetables slowly in a dehydrator or the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until crisp.

Purchase small containers with airtight lids perfect for dipping sauces. Pack peanut butter, honey or whatever else you like.

vegetable tray an airplane snack ideas

Sliced Vegetable Straws for Dipping

Prefer dipping “fries” over chips? Instead of dehydrating chips, simply slice up hardy vegetables into straws perfect for dipping, such as carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower. Don’t forget the sauces.

Go Nuts with Trail Mix

Choose nuts for their simplicity and protein count to tide your appetite over until the plane lands. Many campers and hikers use dried fruits and nuts to make their trail mix because these ingredients travel well and satiate various cravings while meeting nutritional needs. You can mix bananas, raisins and other nuts for an energy boost, or if you want big flavor, opt for Cajun spices the mix. Add dark chocolate nibs for sweetness.

Purchase ready-made trail mix at the store or online or make your own trail mix. A compostable bag with a zip lock makes this snack eco-friendly and fuss-free.

Squeezable Applesauce + Other Ideas

Squeezable applesauce is fantastic for traveling toddlers and families, but they’re also great for the professional with a strong inner child. You know what they say — an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
It’s all in the perspective you take. You’re less likely to get your business suit messy when you squeeze an applesauce pouch as versus eating out of a plastic cup with a spoon.

With trial and error, make your own homemade and refillable pouches for applesauce and other ingredients, such as guacamole to squeeze on your chips. You can also seal peanut butter and other items this way. Open your airplane snack options with squeezable pouches, even if you feel a bit like a childish mad genius.

Jerky

Jerky is a protein-rich, travel-friendly classic for meat lovers. It’s not only for the trail — jerky is a nutritional snack on the plane, too. From smoky to spicy, it comes in many flavors and endures in individual packaging or together in its original packaging.

Tips For Packing Your Airplane Snacks

From fruit bars to jerky, these simple snacks will fit in a food-friendly, temperature-controlled bag that you can easily slip underneath your chair for a treat as you get hungry. You can satisfy your cravings and meet your dietary needs.

Place heavier items at the bottom of the bag and lighter, squeezable items on the top. It doesn’t take much to fill you up when you pack the right mix of healthy fats, sweets, carbs and protein. Bon voyage!

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she frequently writes for sites like US Travel News, Thought Catalog, Porch.com, Tripping.com and more!

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!


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Airplane snacks and packing tips