Travel Bloggers of the Month: Sydney and Shelby Vogl from This Wild Romance

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Travel bloggers of the month
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The Travel Bloggers of the Month for July are sisters from This Wild Romance. They are Sydney and Shelby Vogl.

According to Sydney, she and her sister view traveling as a mix of love and adventure.

“We look at travel as a great romance, an epic adventure. It is a romance that we have both had our entire lives,” she said. “The site isn’t cut and paste ‘Top Ten’ lists. It is passion, it is full of what we find beautiful and wild about travel.”

Their writing style can be described as “talking with our best friend.”

“We want to make our readers feel comfortable and connected,” Sydney said. “Our blog is as personal as it gets. We try to keep it real.”

For the full interview with Sydney Vogl from This Wild Romance, continue reading below.

1. Tell us something about yourself not many people know about you?

When my sister and I were little, my Swedish step-grandmother’s relatives came to visit. They were two men, probably in their early twenties (Shelby and I were in our teens). We were absolutely smitten by them! We decided right then that we would move to Sweden and find Swedish husbands. It became a running joke in our family. Who would have guessed that Shelby would have actually succeeded in that plan?

 

 

2. What is your blog called and what sets it apart from other travel blogs?

Our blog is called This Wild Romance. What sets it apart is all in the name. We look at travel as a great romance, an epic adventure. It is a romance that we have both had our entire lives. The site isn’t cut and paste ’ top ten’ lists. Its passion, its full of what we find beautiful and wild about travel.  

 

 

3. Why should people check out your travel blog?

My sister and I try to write as if we were talking to our best friend. We want to make our readers feel comfortable and connected. Our blog is as personal as it gets, we try to keep it real. 

 

exploring stockholm just 40 minutes away from where shelby lives with her boyfriend Gustav
Sydney exploring Stockholm just 40 minutes away from where Shelby lives with her.

 

4. How long have you been blogging?

We are total newbies! We only just started blogging sixth months ago, but we have been writing our entire lives.

 

5. Why did you decide you want to be a travel blogger?

One night, I was lying in my bed in Copenhagen, Denmark and I couldn’t sleep. I got so overwhelmed with the idea of getting a job after graduation that would have me chained to a desk. I got out my notebook and the ideas just started flowing. This was right at the tail end of my year living in Denmark, and I just knew I wanted to tell my story. I immediately called my sister and begged her to take this adventure with me, and of course being the amazing woman she is, she said yes. 

 

 

6. What is the hardest part about being a travel blogger?

For me, I think the hardest part about travel blogging is to stay motivated without recognition. With our blog being fairly new, it can be a struggle to keep putting articles out there that you have poured your heart into, only to have a few hundred people reading it. I know that sounds like a lot but believe me, in the blogosphere, its a thimbles worth.

 

ATV ing throughout the beautiful island of Santorini
ATV-ing throughout the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece.

 

7. And what is the best part about being a travel blogger?

Having a space to share my stories. A hard thing about being an avid traveller is that by the time you get home, your friends have already seen all your Instagram pictures and twitter updates that they think they’ve heard it all already. It just feel pretentious to keep starting a story with, “When I was in (insert name of awesome country)…” The site gives my sister and I a place to share our story, and our hope is to inspire others to live the life of their dreams. 

 

 

8. What are the top three things you always bring with you in your travels?

1) Headphones! Music is my life, I can’t go anywhere without it. 2) Dry Shampoo (sometimes you just can’t handle those gross hostel showers, and you can’t be walking around with greasy hair. 3) My favorite sweater. Its old, its stretched out, and its got holes in it, but no plane ride is complete without it.

 

9. What is the craziest thing you’ve done while traveling?

My two friends and I got drunk off of tequila, and at 5 AM we decided to walk to the pier and watch the sunset (mind you it was March in Denmark, so it was freezing out). We got there having just finished the bottle, and thought it would be a good idea to jump in the water. In March. In Denmark. At 5 AM.

shelby and me on a night out in London
Shelby and Sydney on a night out in London, England.

10. Do you have another travel blogger you get inspiration from? Who is it and what is the name of their blog? How does this person inspire you?

Absolutely! I am obsessed with finding new travel bloggers to aspire to, females especially. I’m obsessed with Brooke Saward, of World Of Wanderlust. Her blog is actually what inspired me to go after blogging.

11. Share to us your favourite travel hack?

Find a local. Always find a local! No matter how many different strings you pull, or people you have to get through. It is always so much better to get the locals perspective. They will show you way more than LonelyPlanet ever could.

12. Where was your last travel destination? Tell us all about it!

Santorini, Greece. It was absolutely incredible. So much sunshine, the most beautiful sunsets. I played in the ocean for HOURS and never got cold. I spent a whole day riding around on an ATV and enjoying the view.

13. Where are you going next? What are you most looking forward to on this trip?

In August, I plan to explore Asia. It’s always been a dream of mine to make it to Thailand, so I’m probably most excited for that. I also plan to make it to Indonesia, I hear the surfing there is incredible!

You can follow Sydney and Shelby’s adventures through their website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

All photos (except for the first one) were submitted by Sydney Vogl.

 

Yozakura, Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada

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With less than 40 days until my trip to Japan, I have been having Japanese food cravings so I decided to go to Yozakura, the only Japanese restaurant in Drayton Valley. Yozakura is also one of the newest restaurants in town being only a year old.

13819553_10154416797163217_1237952295_nI have been wanting to devour tempura and pork katsu so when I got to the restaurant, I knew what I had to order. I still looked at the menu when I sat down and their pork or shrimp gyoza did tempt me but I decided to stick to my plan and ordered shrimp tempura and pork katsu.

Food: The shrimp tempura was cooked to perfection. The coating was light, soft yet crispy, and super tasty. The shrimp was tender. A single order of shrimp tempura (six pieces) costs CAD$9.95. I usually don’t finish my food but this was so good I ate all of it with nothing left for take out!

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Shrimp tempura

Their pork katsu is also to die for. They serve you with two slices of huge pork katsu which also comes with rice and salad on the side. They have one of the best pork katsu I ever had in my life. Yozakura‘s pork katsu costs CAD$12.95.

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Pork katsu

I do not eat sushi nor sashimi so I am sorry I can’t say if they serve good sushi or sashimi.

Service: My friend, Sayuri, served me. All of the staff of Yozakura is friendly and I am not saying that because my friend works there. Everyone that works there actually makes their guests feel welcomed.

Ambience: The restaurant’s facade is not much but it looks pretty decent inside. They have fake cherry blossom and other Japanese ornaments as decor which makes you feel like you are transported from small town Drayton Valley to Japan.

13735364_10154416797213217_1049438428_nWould I recommend you to check out Yozakura? Absolutely! I would even say that Yozakura is the best restaurant in Drayton Valley. A lot of people would say White Bull Cafe is the best restaurant in Drayton Valley but for me it is Yozakura. That is just a personal choice and to be fair, we cannot really compare an American diner-type restaurant (White Bull Cafe) from a Japanese restaurant (Yozakura). I do like White Bull Cafe a lot, too! In fact, it is my second favourite restaurant in town.

Location: 5120 52 Avenue Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada T7A 1R6

Contact info: (780) 542-4641

Hours: M-Sat: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Euphoria Cafe, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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Euphoria Cafe in Calgary

One of my closest friends in Calgary invited me to go for brunch at Euphoria Cafe. We were actually supposed to go hiking that morning but there was a severe thunderstorm watch in Calgary and area so we decided to just chill at a cafe and catch up on some girl talk.

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Me and Riya

Riya, my friend, is a regular customer at Euphoria Cafe and loves it there. She usually goes there on her lunch break as it’s only a 10-minute drive away from her workplace. In addition to that, she said she loves supporting local businesses.

She ordered a matcha green tea latte and a caramel waffle. I ordered a cocoa banana waffle and a regular hot chocolate. I, unfortunately, cannot tell you how much our order was because Riya paid for everything. She said it was her birthday treat for me.

According to Riya, Euphoria Cafe makes the best matcha green tea latte.

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Matcha green tea latte <3

She also really loved Euphoria Cafe’s caramel waffle, too.

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Caramel waffle came with caramel syrup and whipped cream.

The cocoa banana waffle I got came with waffle (of course, haha), banana slices, caramel syrup, chocolate chips, and whipped cream. It was delicious! One of the best waffles in Calgary, I would say. However, if you ask me which waffle do I like best: Euphoria Cafe, Buttermilk on 17th, or Bro’Kin Yolk? I would have to choose Bro’Kin Yolk! But that’s just my personal opinion.

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Cocoa banana waffle!

The hot chocolate I ordered was alright. It was not as chocolate-y or sweet as I like my hot chocolate to be. I probably would not order it again. I really don’t drink coffee or lattes so I’m missing out on trying those. I did like that their hot drinks came with latte art on them.

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Hot chocolate :)

Euphoria Cafe also offers sandwiches, gelatos, and other baked goods.

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Inside the cafe, it felt cozy. It’s a pretty quiet cafe, a perfect place to study or get some work done. It would be nice to have comfier chairs, though. The cafe also has numerous artworks for sale.

Location: Crowchild Square Plaza, 5403 Crowchild Trail NW, Calgary, AB T3B 4Z1

Contact info: (403) 313-0503

Hours: M-Sat: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sun: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Top five spots to watch whales in Sydney

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The diverse natural environment of Australia boasts unique wildlife, spectacular landscapes, and iconic destinations that make it a perfect holiday spot for tourists all around the world. One of the primary attractions for tourists is the country’s coastline that hosts numerous vantage points to witness humpback migration that lasts from April to December.
Sydney’s high coastal cliffs are the perfect place to see the enormous marine creature breaching and blowing as they migrate to the north to breed. However, it is important that you select the perfect spot that offers you an opportunity to get up close to these magnificent mammals in order to make your whale watching voyage memorable.

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So, here are the top five spots to watch whales in Sydney this season. Plan a trip to any of these locations and you’re sure to have a great coastal adventure.
1. The Palm Beach Lighthouse on Barrenjoey Headland
Barrenjoey Headland is a spellbinding place that not only treats you to the sublime views of Sydney’s northern beach, but also offers you mesmerising views from the top of the lighthouse. So, if you want to enjoy the added benefit of a short bushwalk to the lighthouse with whale watching, you should consider picking Barrenjoey Headland as your next whale watching spot.
2. Cape Solander, Kurnell
This place is perhaps the most popular whale watching spot in Sydney. With its wide viewing platform and several friendly volunteers to guide you to the perfect spot on the platform, the place is sure to make your whale watching experience unforgettable. And when you’re done watching the whales, you may take a walk up to the cliff top while enjoying the stunning landscapes.
3. Sydney Harbour National Park
Sydney Harbour National Park is a historic whale watching spot; however, the place has been renovated and the new walkway to the top offers the most dramatic views of the humpback migration. When you have tried your luck spotting ways from this amazing place, you may soak up the natural beauty and calmness of the panoramic ocean and end your day on a perfect note with a scrumptious meal at The Gap.
4. Ben Buckler Point at Bondi Beach
The most famous tourist attraction of Sydney needs no introduction. Known for its clear waters and sandy beach, the place has a lot to offer when it comes to whale watching. To further enhance the convenience of tourists, the place has been renovated to become wheelchair and pram accessible. So, plan a whale watching trip to this gorgeous stretch of Sydney coastline to spend a memorable day with your family and friends.
5. Royal National Park
Royal National Park is one of the most spectacular land-based places in Sydney to watch whales safely from the coast. Despite being a popular tourist attraction, the place offers countless spots to stay for a while and look for the whales. So, visit this heritage-listed park today to witness the glorious beauty of its sandstone cliffs and watch whales travelling to the north.

Source: http://www.ozwhalewatching.com.au

Travel Video Diary: Snorkeling in Silfra Fissure

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My brother and I snorkeled at the Þingvellir National Park where the Silfra Fissure is located! It was such a cool and unforgettable experience! How many people can say they’ve snorkeled in between two continents (Europe and North America)? I know I can! For more travel video diaries, subscribe to my Youtube channel. :) (This is a travel video diary for January 25, 2016)

Yahoo! has a new travel assistant app that customizes itself for you

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In an attempt to outshine its rivals in the ever-evolving web industry, Yahoo! has launched an app that makes it easier for travelers to plan their next trip. Called Yahoo Radar, the new app brings together the company’s proprietary search engine, communications software, and other newly developed functions to help people plan their itineraries.

Acting as a virtual travel assistant, Radar uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to bring travelers the best recommendations for restaurants, activities to participate in, and cool attractions nearby.

The app requires users to have a Yahoo! account but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as we all know, signing up is free. After signing up, the Radar app scans a user’s inbox for any upcoming trips. If users don’t currently have any trips planned, they can customize the app to send them notifications when a reservation pops up in their email account.

One of Radar’s functions is similar to sending and receiving a text message. Users can ask Radar to provide information on places, sights to see, discounted hotels, etc. within any U.S. state. For restaurants, Radar quickly pulls out content from TripAdvisor and Yelp so people don’t necessarily need to open up those two apps just to view information.

Unlike other travel apps, Radar doesn’t require a lot of text input. For the most part, it learns a user’s preferences over time, and makes suggestions based on the information it has. Radar’s concept is patterned after the style of most gaming companies today, which purvey the “Intelligent Game Technology.” According to Gaming Realms, who offered insights on their strategies, the Intelligent Game Technology is all about creating a platform that can take all kinds of content, and a personalized engine that creates efficient promotion and user satisfaction. Gaming Realms have utilized this technology on many of their games including the highly-successful title Starbust, which has paved the way for digitized classic games to become popular again. Radar, too, is all about that, which is why it has potential to be at the forefront of travel apps for years to come.

Radar is exclusively available for the iOS.

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Block 1912 Cafe and Bakery, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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My boyfriend and I were walking along Whyte Avenue in Edmonton and this modern-looking yet cozy coffee shop that we passed by caught our eye. We looked up to see what the coffee shop is named and found out that it is the Block 1912 Cafe and Bakery. My boyfriend quickly pulled out his phone to check reviews of the place and found good reviews online so we decided to check it out.

13516278_10154372736913217_1957477171015884317_nBlock 1912 Cafe and Bakery claims that they have been voted by Edmonton to have the best desserts, according to the cafe’s website.

13612198_10154372736538217_4138029807463467442_nFood:

I ordered their Ciabatta Grilled Cheese for CAD$7 and a large Ganache Hot Chocolate for CAD$5. The grilled cheese was not filling and there was nothing really special about it that makes it stand out from other grilled cheese sandwiches I have had in life. I also think it is overpriced for the quality of the grilled cheese.

I did like their hot chocolate as it was rich, creamy, and chocolatey as I want my hot chocolate to be.

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Does my sad-looking grilled cheese really need that big of a plate?
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Here, I’ll try and make it look pretty even if the quality of the food stays the same. :S

My boyfriend also ordered a Ganache Hot Chocolate and he said it was too rich for him. He also ordered a Raspberry Chocolate Cake which at first, he was so excited about because he found the chocolate cake filled with raspberries inside. However, the cake was hard as a rock and he started regretting his decision of ordering it. He did not even eat half of the cake and did not even bother taking the rest home.

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Looks great in photo (because as a photographer, that’s what I do, make things look better than they are) but no this cake was hard as a rock.

For a place that claims to have the best dessert in the city, that was a huge letdown. We actually were planning on getting gelato after eating our grilled cheese and raspberry chocolate cake but the disappointment we had from the food we already ordered, we decided it probably was not a good idea to even order their gelato.

Service: The person who took my order was rude and did not seem to be happy working there. She was not very pleasant at all. The guy who delivered my grilled cheese to my table was also not very friendly.

Ambience: The cafe was a bit dark inside so we chose a spot closer to the patio to give us a bit of light while eating. There were a lot of comfortable couches to sit on inside the cafe, though. I also like that they have a Take a Book, Leave a Book bookshelf.

13590438_10154372736578217_8223348781893838743_nWhat we did not like: As mentioned already, the food were a disappointment, and the service was the worst. Another thing is that, the condiment stand is dirty and their washroom? Don’t even bother using their washroom. It was a disaster in there. I went in there and first thing I saw was a garbage can overflowing with used toilet paper. Like it was literally a mountain of toilet paper covering a garbage can. Why would they neglect cleaning their washroom?

Do we recommend this place? Absolutely not. But to give you a different perspective, check out reviews given by other people in Tripadvisor.

Location: 10361 Whyte Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB, T6E 1Z9

Contact info: 780 433 6575

Hours: M-T: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., F-Sat: 9 a.m. to midnight, Sun: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Re:Grub Burger Bar in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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Re:Grub Burger Bar prides itself with using fresh ingredients that are sourced locally and building everything in their menu from scratch. Prices for their burgers range from CAD$7 to $15. These do not include any sides or drinks.

I ordered a Dude Ranch Burger made with house-baked fresh brioche buns, 6 oz Alberta grassfed beef, sunny side up egg, thick cut bacon, aged cheddar cheese, butter lettuce, tomato, and creamy bacon ranch for CAD$14. I would say the burger was alright. I feel it needs more sauce and the patty was not juicy enough for me. The sunny-side up egg was cooked to perfection, though!

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My brother ordered a Bison Bison for CAD$15 and is made with house-baked brioche buns, 6 oz Alberta bison, sauteed mushroom, torched asiago, caramelized onion, butter lettuce and creamy bacon ranch. According to my brother, he did not really like his burger and finds it bland. As for the bison, he said it tastes just like beef.

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My brother also ordered a large side of Dante’s Peak Fries for CAD$9. The fries are seasoned with hickory spice and topped with spicy dirty ketchup, parsley, and sunny-side egg.

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The main selling point for me to check out Re:Grub is their Instagram-worthy milkshakes. I ordered Camp Ranger which is a milkshake topped with a s’more and it costs CAD$7.

IMG_5971My brother ordered The Bomb, a milkshake topped with a donut, for CAD$6.

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To be honest, their milkshakes taste nothing out of the ordinary. It is a run of the mill milkshake and my favourite milkshake is still the ones from Peter’s Drive In. Yes, the presentation of Re:Grub’s milkshake makes it picture-perfect but at the end of the day, one would like to have a milkshake that hits the spot.

IMG_5969I would recommend to go to Re:Grub Burger Bar if only to go there to take pictures of their milkshakes and make your family and friends envy you because your Instagram account is so cool but do not go there if you are looking for a place to have a tasty burger that actually fills you up and a milkshake that is so thick and creamy.

IMG_5981How to order: When you get to Re:Grub Burger Bar, you place your order at the counter and then they will give you a table number. A server will then find a table for you and place your table number on it. After ordering, you will look for your table number, sit down, and wait for your order to be served.

IMG_5966Location: 625 11 Avenue South West, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Hours of Operation: M-T: 11-9, F:11-10, Sat:12-10, Sun:12-8

 

 

Travel Blogger of the Month: Jessica Shetler from Thrifty Traveler Tips

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JuneJusz Travel‘s Travel Blogger of the Month for June is Jessica Shetler from Thrifty Traveler Tips!

Shetler started her blog in November of 2015 and is geared more towards budget travelers.

“My blog is Thrifty Traveler Tips and my goal is to encourage people to travel even on a tight budget. I share money saving tips, traveling tips, and how I manage to travel while being budget conscious,” she said. “There’s a little bit for every traveler on my blog such as road trips, group trips, packing tips, and products/companies I recommend. This gives you an awesome opportunity to find exactly what you are looking for and how to make it happen.”

Through her blog, Shetler was able to help others who may need help figuring out not only on the financial side of traveling but as well as planning the trip itself.

“The best part about being a travel blogger is helping others realize that traveling is easy to do if you plan correctly. I love helping people realize their dreams are attainable and encourage them to make them a reality,” said Shetler.

For the full interview with Jessica Shetler from Thrifty Traveler TipsThrifty Traveler Tips, continue reading below.

1. Tell us something about yourself not many people know about you?

I am someone who likes consistency and who is afraid of doing new things. Traveling is none of these things for me which used to make it hard for me to enjoy traveling and take risks. I’ve gotten so much better at being a yes man and it has granted me so many awesome opportunities and memories.

2. What is your blog called and what sets it apart from other travel blogs?

My blog is Thrifty Traveler Tips and my goal is to encourage people to travel even on a tight budget. I share money saving tips, traveling tips, and how I manage to travel while being budget conscious.

3. Why should people check out your travel blog?

There’s a little bit for every traveler on my blog such as road trips, group trips, packing tips, and products/companies I recommend. This gives you an awesome opportunity to find exactly what you are looking for and how to make it happen.

4. How long have you been blogging?

My blog has been up and running since mid November 2015.

a huge fish I caught in Austria
Jessica Shetler shows off a fish she caught in Austria.

5. Why did you decide you want to be a travel blogger?

I have always loved to write but never knew how to channel this passion. I also have had an obsession with traveling and expanding my horizons so being a travel blogger enabled me to do three things I love: write, travel, and help people achieve their dreams.

6. What is the hardest part about being a travel blogger?

The hardest part about being a travel blogger is deciding what to write about. I have so many topics that I want to tell people about but not enough time in the day to write them all.

7. And what is the best part about being a travel blogger?

The best part about being a travel blogger is helping others realize that traveling is easy to do if you plan correctly. I love helping people realize their dreams are attainable and encourage them to make them a reality.

8. What are the top three things you always bring with you in your travels?

I always bring my waterproof camera, an eye mask, and my favorite deodorant. I can take my camera anywhere to get awesome pictures, my eye mask lets me sleep or nap pretty much anywhere, and it’s hard and expensive to get deodorant on the road, especially one that you know will be reliable.

my first trip to the grand canyon
Shetler at the Grand Canyon.

9. What is the craziest thing you’ve done while traveling?

The craziest thing I’ve ever done while traveling is whitewater rafting in the Austrian Tyrol. They made us practice saving each other by jumping off the side into the freezing water. We also braved swells 5 foot tall in our raft and got pummeled by water so hard we all had to get down into the boat. It was an amazing experience and I was so glad I did it!

10. Do you have another travel blogger you get inspiration from? Who is it and what is the name of their blog? How does this person inspire you?

My inspiration for travel blogging is Big World Small Pockets. They have a similar message to my own and I found them shortly after I started writing my own blog. I love that she has so many different places she has visited and that she is also budget conscious.

11. Share to us your best travel advice?

My favorite travel hack is getting wrinkles out of your clothes on the road. You need to hang your item of clothing over a bar in/near the shower, turn the shower on the hottest it will go, close all doors and windows in the bathroom and wait 3-5 minutes. Your shirt may be slightly damp at first but it will be completely wrinkle free!

12. Where was your last travel destination?

My last travel destination was a 28 day Contiki trip across Europe. My boyfriend and I visited 13 countries in this time with my favorites being Spain, Greece, Switzerland, and Austria. We also got to gamble in the Monte Carlo Casino, go to the top of Mount Titlis, eat lunch in Liechtenstein, and so many more adventures. It was adventure after adventure and I got to see awesome landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum. It was an unbelievable experience and I can’t wait to go on another one soon.

13. Where are you going next? What are you most looking forward to on this trip?

My next destination I hope to go on is to either Australia or Alaska. If I go to Australia, I want to see Kangaroos, snorkel, and see all of my friends from my Contiki trip. If I go to Alaska, I am so excited to see the Northern Lights, fish, and stay in an ice hotel if I can find one.

You can find Jessica Shetler on Facebook and Pinterest.

All photos (except for the first one) in this post are provided by Shetler.

Why we decided to get a Japan Rail Pass and why you should, too!

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With only four full days in Japan, we originally planned to just explore Tokyo for two days, spend one day in Tokyo Disney Sea, and then go on a day trip to Kyoto.

With that travel itinerary in mind, we set out to do our research to find out how much a return train ticket would cost from Tokyo to Kyoto. We found out that a one-way ticket Tokyo to Kyoto costs about 13,080 yen or CAD$161.05 (as of June 20, 2016). If we buy two one-way tickets to make it a return trip, it would cost 26,160 yen or CAD$322.10 per person. This price is for a non-reserved seat on any of the shinkansen or bullet trains: Hikari, Kodama, or Nozomi. Of course, the prices go up for reserved seats. For reserved seats on either the Hikari or Kodama, it costs about 13,500 yen or CAD$166.23 one way so about 27,000 yen or CAD$332.46 both ways. As for a reserved seat on the fastest shinkansen which is the Nozomi train, the price is around 14,000 yen or CAD$172.38 one way and 28,000 yen or CAD$344.76 both ways.

We were taken aback with the prices so we did a little bit more research. Buying a Japan Rail (JR) Pass was never an option for us, at least in the beginning, because most people we’ve asked who’s been to Japan said it is not worth it to buy a JR Pass if we don’t really plan on taking the trains as much and since we are only going to be there for four days. They said we won’t get the bang for our buck. But after finding out how much a Tokyo-Kyoto return ticket costs, we looked into how much a JR Pass costs and actually considered it.

Our research brought us to a website and found out that an ordinary seven-day unlimited JR Pass costs CAD$346 and a green or first class JR Pass for seven days costs CAD$455. The ordinary seven day JR Pass is only CAD$23.90 more than the Tokyo-Kyoto return ticket on a non-reserved seat. To us, it made more sense to get a JR Pass especially since one can use a JR Pass in local trains in Tokyo and Kyoto as well as long as the trains are within the JR company. We will also be able to use the JR Pass for a train ride from Narita Airport to Tokyo and vice-versa using the Narita Express which saves us money. According to a friend, a train ride from Narita Airport to Tokyo using the Narita Express costs about CAD$20 to CAD$30. In short, having the JR Pass is actually the cheapest option for us and we would no longer need to buy individual train tickets which will also make our lives easier when travelling.

In the end, we opted for the ordinary JR Pass as we really could not afford to shell out another CAD$100 for the green or first class JR Pass. Based on our research, buying a green JR Pass gives a passenger more comfort, an oshibori or hot towel on board, as well as free drinks on some routes. Those do sound good but we can do without it. 🙂

We ordered two ordinary JR Passes online on a Thursday night and we received it on Friday before noon. It was sent to us via FedEx from France. Our order also came with a free Japan Railway map and timetables as well as a Japan by Train Travel Guide.

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Since we decided to get a JR Pass, we have made changes to our travel itinerary to make the most out of our JR Pass. Instead of spending two days in Tokyo, one day in Tokyo Disney Sea, and one day in Kyoto, we have decided to spend one day in Tokyo, one day in Kyoto, one day in Osaka, and one day in Tokyo Disney Sea. I know that means we will be rushing to see as much as we can in those four days but we thought it would be best for us to see a little bit of everything. This only means we need to go back to Japan to see more of the things we may miss on our trip in August.

Things you should know about the JR Pass:

  1. The JR Pass can only be used by foreigners who are visiting Japan as tourists and are staying for less than 90 days
  2. If you are thinking of getting a JR Pass make sure to buy it before you leave for Japan as you cannot buy it when you land in Japan
  3. Do not order a JR Pass more than three months away from your trip as you need to validate your JR Pass within three months of ordering it. You can validate your JR Pass at the airport when you land
  4. The JR Pass is not exclusive to trains as it can also be used on the JR Miyajima ferry

Expenses:

CAD$697 which includes two ordinary seven-day JR Pass, Japan by Train Travel Guide, and Japan Railway map and timetables.

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