Moving on…….

Many of you know already, that I have ceased writing in this blog for a while now.  The reason is that my partner and I have rebranded and shifted our focus over to a new website called Artistic Voyages.

In creating that, I decided that I wasn’t going to add a blog to the website, but I have realized in the last while, that I really do miss having an outlet for my day to day musings.  Thus, I have finally decided to start it up again, but will be doing so in the new location.

We are currently in lockdown in Morocco, and to say that I have interesting things to say, would be an understatement.  Plus, I am writing a book about our experience!  If you are interested in hearing about that, please join us on Patreon and get up to date chapters as they are written!

If you have appreciated my writing, and would like to follow my new blog, please head to this link to check out my landing page!  Jill’s Blog (www.artisticvoyages.com/jills-blog)

Within the landing page, about half way down, you will see my first blog post, just click on that then sign up in the right hand column.

Alternatively, if you are having problems with this, just leave me a comment below and I will sign you up myself with your email address.

Thank you so much for your continued support and for following along on my journey.

I sincerely hope that you are staying safe and healthy during this global crisis!

Much Gratitude,

Jill

Life in Chefchaouen

I had seen the odd picture on Instagram of its famous blue walls, but of course, those pictures do not do this place justice!

We are currently living in Chefchaouen, Morocco and LOVE it!  Click ‘continue reading’ below to read about just why we love this place so much!

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To say that we have been delighted and amazed by pretty much everything in the Chefchaouen area, would still somehow be understating it.

We arrived here  (read about our first impressions) weary and jet lagged after travelling across the Atlantic Ocean from Canada.  We had no idea what to expect, we hadn’t researched this place online, and we didn’t even know how to pronounce the name (it’s CHEF-CHOW-AN for those interested) before we arrived.  Of course, I had seen the odd picture on Instagram of its famous blue walls, which has created the monicker “The Blue Pearl”, but, of course, those pictures do not do this place justice!  Continue Reading……..


This post is part of our website http://www.artisticvoyages.com.  Head there today to sign up for our newsletter and follow us along on our journey!  


 

The Mighty Sahara

IMG_0384 smallI’ve never been one to keep a bucket list. I have places in mind that I would like to visit, and things that I certainly want to see, but they have never been written down, only thought about and dreamt about. Sometimes, and unbeknownst to me, the Universe throws me into one of these magical places, and I manage to live out the most epic dream of that place, that I could possibly have ever conjured up.

I’m delighted to say that the Sahara Desert was one of those places. 

Click here to read the entire article on our website!

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PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS BLOG, JUST SOME WANDERING, WILL NOT BE WRITTEN IN MOVING FORWARD.

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Thanks for following along!

A New Year and A Brand New Adventure!

Before the Morocco idea was implanted in our brains, we had planned to fly to the Southern US to visit friends, then travel by land down into Mexico, travelling by bus and public transit.


In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over two years, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we want to do to create an income for ourselves, the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


Wow!  Who can believe that we are this far into 2020 already?  Time is zipping by, and I suppose that is okay because we are flying off to Morocco on the 15th of this month!

We have been back in Canada since the end of August.  We never meant to stay this long, but we kept getting more offers of housesits, and it somehow felt right to just stay put for a bit.

How Morocco came to be……..

In early September, we had a visit from a good friend of ours that lives in the town we moved away from in Canada, before heading on our nomad adventure, in 2017.  He was on his way to help his mom pack up her house, and decided to stay a night in Canmore while driving through.

He mentioned at dinner that he was trying to get a group of people together for a trip to Morocco in January.  He suggested that we should join him.  Morocco?  Hmmmmmmm, it had a nice ring to it.

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A chance visit by our friend John has sent us off in a whole new direction to Morocco!

Before the Morocco idea was implanted in our brains, we had planned to fly to the Southern US to visit friends, then travel by land down into Mexico, travelling by bus and public transit.  However, we also realized that that plan could potentially get us back to Guatemala and once again stuck in the jungle because we love it so much.  Or, we may have made it as far as our buddies property in Costa Rica, before the jungle grabbed a hold of us and held on tight.  The point is, we LOVE those places, and definitely want to go back, but the problem is that there is also so much more out there to see.

The temptation for familiarity, though, and for visiting our friends that we made that we hold near and dear to our hearts, is very great.  We see peoples faces on facebook, instagram, or whatever other digital means, sure.  But it doesn’t replace the in person contact that is so crucial for our connection to our community.

But I also realize that there are SO many more great people out there in the world, and we want to meet as many as we can!  We want to learn about how other people operate, we want to experience their culture and their language.  We may not understand many of their belief systems, but that part is none of our business.  We just want to know people for who they are as simple basic human beings.

And so, the more we thought about it, the more we realized that we were about to make a crucial mistake.  We don’t have the time required to see all the things we want to see on this planet already!  Let alone if we start spending 3 and 4 years in one corner of the world.  We need to keep moving, keep exploring and keep educating.

Are travellers the real peacekeepers?

I do believe that as travellers, we are responsible for helping others to understand the world.  For example, we are able to help people to realize that certain cultures do things certain ways because that is how THEY HAVE ALWAYS DONE IT!  I think it is important for us to send out photos of our experiences, and the things we see, so that others can understand what a spectacular world we live in.  I think it’s great to share local experiences such as festivals and fairs so that people can see how others celebrate.

Despite the bad news that has reign on social media, news paper outlets, television news……..any news, there are so many celebrations going on in the world, all the time!  There are cultures that are not bogged down by these issues that plague “first world” nations (I hate that term).  They take the time to celebrate the good in their lives, they spend time with families, and they may sit on a neighbours porch just to chat and hang out.  These are all moments of celebration, moments of human to human contact.  But don’t get me wrong, many cultures celebrate big large festivals on a regular basis.  To them it is important to get EVERYONE together celebrating as much as possible, something I think is sorely lacking in our North American society.

For more on this: Travelers, Are they the real Peacekeepers?

Checking in with friends and family

This time, visiting my hometown and area, for this long, has meant that I have had the time required to check in and see so many great friends from my childhood.  It has been a real treat to catch up with so many and to just see how good we are all doing.  I am so lucky to have had the chance to grow up in a town with such close connections.  I went to school with about 30 people from my high school graduation class, since kindergarten.  Now those are some strong and lasting bonds that get formed.

Chris was happy to hear all the fun stories that were regaled about my *ahem* slightly rebel teenage years.   Many stories long since forgotten, brought back to the surface to laugh about again.  I’m so thankful for the happy and fun childhood that I had.  I think it is the best gift that a child can get, and I am forever grateful for mine.

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My spectacular hometown of Canmore, Alberta, Canada!
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New Years Eve on the Pond in Canmore with Jill’s parents!

It’s also been nice to have some solid time to spend here with Chris, showing him around to all my old childhood haunts, like literally ALL of them.  In the past we would duck into town for 3-5 days, barely getting a chance to hug a handful of people, then jet out again.  This time we have had the time to spend exploring trails and pathways, and many places from my past.

I also realized through this process that I haven’t been around my parents for this length of time in about 20 years!  It has been an interesting and enlightening experience, really getting to know them again after so long.  I mean, we all KNOW our parents, but over time, they grow and change like we do, and if you aren’t around them everyday, you don’t notice the subtleties.  My parents are on their own change of life journey right now as they are downsizing their house so that they can sell it and move into a smaller place.  So I have been using my experience of selling all of our things, to help them to get rid of the excess stuff that they have and don’t need anymore.

I have really appreciated having the time and space to really visit them and connect again.  This is something that didn’t exist in my old life.  In my old life I didn’t have time for such extravagances, it was work work work, busy busy busy all the time.  So much running around…….. so much……… too much.

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A visit on the farm at Christmas with Chris’ Mom, Stepdad, and his youngest sister Sienna and her boyfriend Landon.
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GROUP HUG!

It may seem now like all we are doing is running around, but it’s different.  Yes, we move from place to place, and it seems to some like our life is upended all the time, but we spend good quality time in places.  We spend time doing what is important to us.  We try not to get caught up in the constant pressure from society to ‘get a job’ or ‘look busy’ or the common thought that we all have ‘you aren’t doing enough.’  We try as hard as we can to do only what we want to do, which usually means working on our online businesses and our various forms of artwork that we always have going on.   We try as hard as we can to set boundaries and make sure that others understand what mission we are on and what we are working on.

We have also had a few nice visits with Chris’ mom, and his whole family, and even decided at the last minute that we were going to go and stay with his mom and her husband, plus see Chris’ youngest sister and her boyfriend for a good visit at Christmas time.  It turned out to be a beautiful drive and all the trees were covered in white frost as we passed the vast, flat and barren landscape.  Mother Nature was shimmering and sparkling as we drove along, and it was truly spectacular!

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Spectacular Prairie Sunsets!
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Winter Wonderland!

In getting in all of this visiting, we have realized that the most valuable part of this experience, and what has made us the RICHEST, is certainly NOT the money we make (believe me it is a pittance). Instead it is having the time to do the things that are important to us and sharing that time with the people we love.

Freedom of time, from my perspective, is the greatest and best kind of freedom a person could ever ask for.

New changes in 2020!

We are very thankful for this community that has been following us along on this journey.  We are uplifted and inspired by those that email us, chat with us on facebook, or pop us a whats app message or more.  As this blog is coming to the end of it’s life (who knew that blogs had memory and it’s almost full!), we have changed our direction slightly and have put our efforts into our new website and newsletter over at http://www.artisticvoyages.com.  This direction will have a more specific slant towards travel, creativity, and helping to make the world a better place.

 

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Subscribe at http://www.artisticvoyages.com

If you have the chance, please click on the link and sign up for our newsletter!  I will be sending out 1 or 2 newsletters per month just outlining what we have been up to, who we have met, what we have eaten, and what we are learning from each country that we visit.  Our aim is to live life with an open heart and open minds, to see and experience all that we can, and to share it, in hopes to inspire others to live their best life.

We are very excited about new opportunities in Morocco and beyond.  It doesn’t pass me by that the country sits on the north-western edge of the African continent, and gives us access to the rest of Africa itself, Europe AND Asia!  There are lifetimes of places for us to explore, and we can’t wait to see where following our noses will take us this time!

Wishing you all a wonderful 2020!  As my Dad says, it has a nice ring to it!  Surely this will be humanities best year yet!

This is me signing off on this blog!  Please join us over at http://www.artisticvoyages.com if you wish to continue to follow along with us on our journey! 


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Cochrane, Alberta Canada

Travelling Plans: Off to Morocco on January 15th!

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column. (Now under Artistic Voyages!)

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

 

 

On Being an Inspiration

I never set out to do this, to become an inspiration.  I had no idea that this would be on the other side of this grand adventure that we are on. 


In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over two years, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we really want to do with our lives,  the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


I have to say, I have goosebumps as I write this post.

I just read a facebook post from a friend that had a picture of her packed suitcase, with a caption “…..and that’s ALL I need…🙏❤”

My heart leapt with joy when I saw it because I knew what it meant.  It meant that she had accomplished what seems to be impossible to most, she too sold all of her possessions, and closed down her life, in order to start over and set herself free out into the world.

Natasha messaged me back in the spring, and told me that her and her husband were going to sell everything and head to Mexico, where their friend would have a van for them to travel around in and live out of.  Of course I was stoked for her, but talk is cheap.

It’s not that I didn’t believe her, it’s just that I now know the mental fortitude that it takes, to accomplish a monumental task such as this.  It really does feel like you should win a medal at the end of it all or something.  Like, “Where the hell are all the cheering fans? Don’t you know what I just went through?”

But no, it’s not like that at all.  You just silently slip off, and the life that you once new as your everyday norm, continues on without you. In your future lies a completely new plane, a new universe of opportunities, another chance to decide who it is you want to be.

So when I realized that she had actually done it, I was PUMPED for her!  I am mostly excited for her next transition, the part where she really realizes that she is absolutely free to go and live her life in any way that she chooses.  Every corner presents a new opportunity, and in this life we either take each opportunity, or we don’t, but you can be sure that there will always be more.

In this life you get to choose the direction you want to go.  In this life you decide to do what makes you happy.  In this life you have the time and space to really find yourself.

Of course, there are factors to take into consideration such as the money to do it, how to get healthcare, and other things that we may let ourselves hold ourselves back with.  But at the end of the day, all of those things are secondary to the realization that you have finally taken the first step to truly LIVING your life.  And let me tell you, it is exhilarating!

When you are out there in the world, you are slowly taking in the scenery around you, adjusting to new ways of life, most times to new cultures, and often new languages. Nobody is telling you how to live your life, there is no media screaming in your ear about the latest bit of tragedy.  You aren’t influenced by societies standards anymore.  In fact, there are no standards, at least no consistent ones.

Every culture offers its own set of ‘standards’ that they follow.  In Central America, for example, it is pretty standard across the board to greet people as you pass them by.  Whether it is on the sidewalk in passing, or when you walk into the bank and announce “buenas dias” to the entirety of the patrons, people take the time to greet each other in that way.  Of course, we adjusted to that and many others, and loved feeling we had somehow, in some small way, become a part of each culture that we visited, or at least fit in with it.

And, of course, this is different everywhere we go.  And, of course, we adapt and change and adjust and take it all in.  This is the most exciting part of travelling, just the simple chance to get out there to see how it is that others live their lives.

Because peoples lives are all so different, and so interesting.  It’s impossible to conjure up in your mind what sorts of experiences you will have while getting to know these lives of others.  They are like none you could ever expect or anticipate.

Natasha is on the way to writing a new chapter in her life.  She is heading off to see what the heck is out there!  She too felt that she just needed to get out there and live life, and I am so proud of her for doing it! Doing what she has done takes guts and determination.  It takes a strong mind that is willing to go against the status quo, and it takes strength and courage to fight through the fears that try to bring you back.  The ones that whisper in your ear that you can’t do it.

Today she thanked me for being such a great inspiration, and all I can say is, I am honoured.  I am honoured because by following my passion and by bravely stepping away from a life that wasn’t serving me anymore, I have inspired another.

I never set out to do this, to become an inspiration.  I had no idea that this would be on the other side of this grand adventure that we are on.  My partner and I were simply following our hearts and doing what we felt like we needed to do.  It is in this that I now see what so many before me have said “Just be yourself and do what you love, because you never know who is watching and how you are changing their life.”

And it is so true.

And now Natasha, it is your turn to inspire.  It is your turn to go out there and realize your dreams, and it is your turn to pass your wisdom and experience on to those that follow YOUR journey.  I am so excited to see what waits for you out there in the big ol’ world, and of course, I am cheering you on!

Bon Voyage and Best Wishes!!!

xo Jill


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way that I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Canmore, Alberta Canada 

Travelling Plans: We have exciting news today!  We JUST booked the first leg of our flights to Morocco in January!  More details coming soon! 

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

 

Memories of Banff

Being back in my hometown for this length of time, has meant that for the first time in my adult life, I have the time to really enjoy it.


In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over two years, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we want to do to create an income for ourselves, the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


Being back in my hometown for this length of time, has meant that for the first time in my adult life, I have the time to really enjoy it.  Chris and I have spent much time exploring around Canmore and checking things out.  I have taken him on walks to my old bush party sights and places that I played as a child, and we have spent lots of time down by the Bow River, even on the cold days.  We have meandered through many of the towns trails, old and new, and I have been really impressed with how well they are kept up.  There is obviously a focus here on public recreation, and the town has done a great job of providing that for its citizens.

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This was a warmer day down by the Bow River in Canmore, back when we arrived at the end of August.

We have also been to Banff a handful of times, and I have taken great joy in regaling my tales of youth to Chris, as we navigate the new, to him, landscape.  Last weekend we headed out on a bit of an adventure to Banff.  Banff Gondola was offering a free ride for locals on its trip up to the top of Sulphur Mountain, in exchange for a donation to a charity.  So we figured that we would head in, and also planned a soak in the nearby Banff Hot Springs as well.

One thing lead to the next and before we knew it, we were checking out Bow Falls, running around lost in the Banff Springs Hotel (now officially known as Fairmont Banff Springs, but I don’t call it that), and hitting up even the Candy Shop downtown.  I also firmly insisted that while there, we absolutely MUST visit the Christmas Store, despite Chris’ obvious disapproval.  (Spoiler, he actually liked it……a little bit at least:))

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The majestic Banff Springs Hotel
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It truly feels like a castle inside as well!
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A Candy wonderland and a MUST stop on Banff Avenue!

It was a great day of playing tour guide (one of my favourite things to do as a local), while also telling him the stories that each place inspired.  I have many incredible stories and memories of Banff and despite the fact that Canmore kids were adamant that Canmore was BETTER than Banff (“Banff Sucks!” we would say), the town played a huge part in my childhood.


I was born in Banff, Alberta, Canada in 1976.  I know that I am from a select few that have had this good fortune, and in fact, I have recently learned that people born in Banff or Canmore are dubbed “Unicorns” by those who aren’t from here.  Without confirming the reason for this, I can only imagine that people think that nobody could possibly be so lucky as to have been born in such a spectacular place.  It’s as if we are all mythical creatures or something.

I lived there until I was three, then my family moved 20km down the road to the much quieter town of Canmore.  I spent the rest of my childhood living in Canmore, but of course, Banff was also such a huge part of this time in my life.

As a small kid my mom would drive me into the Sally Borden Pool for swimming lessons, because, at the time, Canmore only had one public pool that was at a motel on the highway, and it was outdoors.  I remember feeling so cool swimming in that big pool, and that big building and I loved swimming lessons there.

My Dad worked at the Banff Centre, which also housed the Sally Borden Building so I inevitably spent much time up there. I took for granted the adorable little trails that surround the property, and the quaint little stairways that go from building to building.  My Dad is one of the founders of the Banff Mountain Film Festival that is housed at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and I spent many years with my parents at the festival watching films and mingling with climbing greats.  I had no idea, at that time, just how lucky I was to not only be living where I was, but to just be part of such a monumental film event that has now spanned the globe numerous times.  We were very grateful when my Dad offered us his tickets for this years festival.  We felt so fortunate  to attend the event, and it brought back many great memories of my childhood.

Jill and Chris at BMFF

Of course, I also learned to ski at Mount Norquay, Banff’s local ski hill.  My Dad took me up there from the age of 3 on, and it didn’t take many years before I was beating him to the bottom.  Many times, a day of skiing would conclude with a stop at McDonalds, then the closest McDonalds we had to Canmore.  It was the cutest little McDonalds ever, built with all wood and stone, complete with a rustic little fireplace.  (Unfortunately it has now been modernized, and looks, at least through the windows, to be as stark and uninteresting as any other McDonalds!) My favourite dish?  6 McNuggets and fries of course! (My adult self is disgusted!)

Every New Years Eve for quite a few years, many Banff and Canmore locals would flock to Lake Minnewanka to have a raucous party in one of the picnic shelters on the lake.  Somebody would bring heavy duty tarps to block the windows so that the harshness of the winter temperatures would stay outside, while they got the fires roaring on the inside.  The parents would shovel off a section of the lake so that we kids could skate on it, and I remember more than one painful time that I would have to come back in to get my dad to rub life back into my feet, as they had become frozen ice blocks.  The adults would become increasingly drunk, New Years would come and go, and everyone would simply drive home.  Clearly, NOT something that could or would happen now-a-days!

For a time, no childhood birthday party would be complete without a trip to the water slides in Banff.  The Douglas Fir Resort, one of the hotels on the outskirts of the town, was our go to place for this.  I recall numerous visits to these waterslides as kids, and though small in stature, they thrilled us to bits.  It didn’t take much to excite us small town kids!

I also remember trips to Banff to shop at The Hudson Bay Company (HBC), the only major department store that existed in the Bow Valley at the time.  Of course, these trips would be combined with a visit to the Candy Store and often an ice cream at Grizzly House, depending on the time of year.  When we had visitors come to town, we would take them down Banff Avenue and we always had to also make stops in the Christmas Store and The Body Shop.

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Inside the famed “The Spirit of Christmas” store.
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The perfect Canadian mascot!

My later memories start after I gained the freedom to drive a vehicle.  From the age of 16 on, trips to Banff were just part of my perspective.  If it wasn’t me driving there, it was one of my friends, and we would usually head in at least a couple times a week.  In one of my many acts of rebellion, however, I drove into Banff, driving my friends car, with only my learners license!  All I know is that there was a bunch of us girls, and we were bored,  and we REALLY wanted to go to Banff.  The next thing I knew, much to the humiliation and scared shitless-ness of my passengers, I was stalling the standard shift car repeatedly down the length of Banff Avenue.  I’m pretty sure Banff Avenue was the only thing we saw that day.  We were much too scared to actually get out of the car lest somebody actually figured out that we weren’t old enough to be driving by ourselves.  We somehow made it out in one piece, and not arrested, and arrived back in Canmore, vowing that we would never repeat that event again.  After all, the owner of the car was only a month or two from turning 16 and getting her own proper license!

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One of the views along the Bow River in Banff

 

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One of the many stunning views on Banff Avenue.

The freedom that comes with having a drivers license is palpable.  I remember driving with the window down on the highway, feeling the wind blow on my face and just feeling like I could do anything in the world now that I had my license. Quite often an afternoon of a few of us hanging out at Craigs drinking coffee, would end when one suggested that we should go to Banff, and off we went.  Many times we would head up to the Banff Springs Hotel and get lost in the expanse of corridors inside, and of course, we went bowling a time or two as well.  Canmore, of course, didn’t have a bowling alley.

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They call this “Christmas at the Castle” when the Banff Springs Hotel decorates for the holidays.

You might guess, by now, that Canmore also didn’t have a movie theatre (and still doesn’t!) . Tuesday was locals night at the Lux Cinema in Banff, so we would all pile into Banff to watch the latest and greatest release for only $5.  Usually there were 2 or 3 vehicles full of us, and of course we would run into other friends from school that had gone as well.  We would then roam the streets at night, just revelling in the glitz and glamour of Banff Avenue, sometimes stoping in at  Eddies Pool Hall where we would play pool and hang out, enjoying the care free life of a teenager.  On this current return trip home, Chris and I have made a few trips to the Lux, and it amazes me that it is exactly the same as I left it.

Summer time meant that we would drive in and check out Bow Falls, drive down to the Banff Springs Golf Course, explore around Tunnel Mountain, or drive up Mount Norquay to check out the view.  Of course many kids experienced floating, in some device or another, from Banff to Canmore along the surface of the Bow River.

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Looking down on Banff from Mount Norquay
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Bow Falls in the winter.  Located below the Banff Springs Hotel

The Banff Hot Springs was our big backyard hot tub that we frequented often.  We would go all times of the year to revel in the heat of the waters.  Winter was the most fun when it was minus 40C.  After braving the cold to get into the pool, we would set about creating whacky hairdos that would freeze solid in the frigid temperatures.  When Chris and I went there last weekend, I was thrilled that the price is still very reasonable at $8.30.  I assumed that like all other things in Banff, this price would have gone sky high, but it has remained an affordable treat for every sort of visitor to Banff.

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Banff Hot Springs is perched on the side of Sulphur Mountain offering splendid views of the mountains and valley below.

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Happy to be warm!

Our legal years (18+) (and maybe one or two before that;) ) would bring us into Banff to party in the clubs.  Canmore didn’t have venues that played wild and raucous club style music, so again, we would all pile into Banff to take part in this strange right of passage affair.  The Back Alley and Silver City (also dubbed Syphilis City for obvious reasons) were our favourites.  Many nights we would go to one or the other, or bounce around between the two trying to find the most fun possible.  We also sometimes found ourselves caught up in the wildness of Wild Bill’s Saloon!  As the name implies, it was always a good time!

Back in those days we were allowed to be carefree kids.  We didn’t have to worry about date rape drugs or any number of other things that teens have to deal with now-a-days.  I feel like we were part of the last generation that could go out and have a good time, completely worry free, and for that I am so thankful.  Most times we had a designated driver to take us home, but there was the odd night that a few of us would sleep in the car until early the next morning when one would drive, with one eye open, and we would slink back home smelling of booze and stale cigarette smoke.  (Yes, they still smoked inside back then!) Our parents were thrilled with us I’m sure!

 

In later years I had a job working at the Banff Springs Golf Course Pro Shop for one summer.  This again gave me a different perspective of Banff, and was my first introduction to truly working with tourists.  Only in recent years have I acknowledged that I actually grew up in one of the worlds TOP tourist destinations.  I mean I knew that lots of travellers came to Banff, when I was a kid the streets were lined with busloads of Japanese, all standing at attention, cameras poised and ready, but I definitely didn’t put it all together then.

I definitely didn’t understand the majestic beauty that existed all around me day and night.  I, for sure, didn’t understand what privilege I had as a child living in a place where I was free to ride my bike all over town, go hiking in the woods whenever I choose, and to just be wild and free.  And I don’t think I understood how nice it was to be part of a genuine small town community, to be surrounded by people who truly care for one another.

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A recent photo taken by the Bow River in Canmore.

It wasn’t until I moved away from Canmore and the Banff area permanently in 2002, that I started to realize just how beautiful it all is, and age has brought an appreciation for the community and the group of people who collectively raised me.  Of course, we appreciated the outdoors when we were kids, back then we spent our lives outside.  We would go on hikes and marvel at the views, and we would climb the mountains just for something to do.  But it was all just normal to us, it was our everyday reality.  In retrospect, I can see that I took it for granted, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

But now, I truly do realize just how lucky I was to grow up in this majestic place.  It’s not the tropical paradise that one conjures up when the word paradise is mentioned, but it is certainly a paradise of its own accord.  The clean water and clean air is marvelled at by people from far reaches of the world, who also come to enjoy the plethora of spectacular mountains, lakes, trees and rivers.  The names Banff and Canmore have become synonymous with mountains and outdoor recreation, fit people and world class athletes.

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Beautiful fall days in Canmore.

People flock to this valley to get but a taste of what it would be like to live here.  Many struggle greatly to keep afloat financially, with the ridiculous rates of inflation and costs of housing and living.  But Banff and Canmore are also both places that know unimaginable amounts of wealth and overabundance.  Above it all, and despite what class of person you are, my hope is that people who live here truly appreciate the stunning beauty that surrounds them.

I am thankful that I have chosen a life that has allowed me to spend this amount of time back in my hometown.  This visit has, again, solidified my foundation, it has reminded me that I am one of the fortunate ones, and it has helped me to recall parts of me that were long lost.  I guess you could say that I am one lucky little unicorn indeed!

And, you know, maybe, at the age of 43,  it’s finally time to admit that Banff doesn’t suck so bad after all!


Click here if you would like to read my article entitled Notes on my Hometown – Canmore, Alberta, Canada.


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Canmore, Alberta Canada 

Travelling Plans: Our plan is to stay in this area until Christmas or New Years.  Details of our next destination are yet to be confirmed.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

2 Years Nomadic – Finding Our Purpose

And it is in this realization, that we have found purpose.  It took us 2 years of the most diverse experiences we could muster, to find our direction, to figure out what it is that we REALLY want to do with our lives.  


In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over a year, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we want to do to create an income for ourselves, the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


The passing of October has made us realize that it was October 2017 when we got on a one way flight to Costa Rica to start our journey.  I have to say, that it’s truly hard to believe that it was 2 years ago already.  We have officially been nomads for 2 whole years.

On one hand, it seems like the time passed by so quickly, yet we literally fit, what could be called “a lifetime” of experiences, into that time.  The things we saw and did, are impossible to quantify.  It has literally been 2 years of new sights being seen, new places being discovered, new people being met, a new language being spoken.  It has been 2 FULL ON years.  Every day a new adventure, every day a new possibility.

We have mostly tried to float on the breeze, to have our schedule so open, that literally we can follow any opportunity that comes our way.  I would say, for the most part, this breeze has carried us to only good places.  However, there has been hurdles along the way, emotional barriers that we had to break through, things we had to deal with within ourselves.

Like the time we were seriously considering leaving a 6 month commitment that we were only half way through, because we were being driven crazy by many different things that I won’t get into here.  We REALLY wanted to leave, but we also realized that with this lifestyle, also comes a way to literally RUN AWAY from your problems.  You have no attachments to anything, no reason why you can’t just pick up and go at any moments notice.

However, it also made us realize that running away is never going to solve anything.  With running away, you don’t grow and learn.  PLUS running away from commitments is bad for your integrity.  At least that is what we believe.  I kept thinking, and actually speaking to Chris aloud, that “I feel like somehow, someway, we will be rewarded for finishing this commitment.”  My gut was telling me something, it was saying to stick with it.  It was saying that we needed to FINISH the job.

I really did feel like somehow we would be rewarded for sticking it out.  It wasn’t necessarily a monetary reward that I was expecting, it was just something. Some feeling that I had, was telling us to press on.  Chris felt it too.  We both agreed that we needed to keep going, which helped.  I can’t imagine how much more stressful a situation like that one we found ourselves in would be if we had opposing viewpoints on the matter.

And in the end, we were rewarded.  We were rewarded tangibly in ways as well, but most important, we were rewarded emotionally.  We came away from that experience KNOWING what we can deal with.  KNOWING how resistant we are.  KNOWING that we are stronger than we thought.  It is this last part that is the most important.

I’ve realized recently that so many of us avoid things and run away from them.  It’s human nature.  But until you actually push through that barrier, to hang in there a little longer, to stick it out that tiny bit more, you never really know what you are capable of.

This reminds me of a quote by James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson line of products, that I heard on a podcast last year.  His few words were really impactful to me, and they went something like this:

“When you are starting anything, you have to work twice as hard.  You inevitably will get tired, but then so will everyone else.  The trick is to push past the point where everyone else quits, just keep taking steps in the one direction.  If you do that, success is literally just around the corner.”

This resonated with me on a very deep level, and I have since applied it to a few different areas of my life.  The point, I believe is that as humans, we don’t tend to want to push ourselves.  Many of us have found ourselves in a ‘comfortable rut’.  We want to change our lives, but we are making good money, we are happy in our community, we are comfortable in our houses, we like our schedule, we like our bad habits.  The list goes on.  It seems, that the list of reasons to not change too much, far outweighs the list that does.  But does it?

Pushing through and finishing our commitment, made us realize what we are capable of.  In fact, this whole 2 year experience has reshaped our views of not only the world, but those of ourselves as well.  We now know what it is that we want to continue doing, how it is that we want to contribute to the planet.

For a while it felt like we literally were floating on a breeze.  Like, what good were we?  What were we doing that was benefiting humanity and the planet?  I felt a little bit useless to be honest.  I felt like I was a plague on the planet, always taking but never giving back.

But all that changed when we were given the opportunity to share our knowledge of permaculture techniques while working at a Botanical Garden on the island of Nevis.  We arrived at the garden being quite surprised that they didn’t have a composting system in place to feed and fertilize the garden.  They were using all synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and burning all of their deadfall and organic material.  The soil throughout was devoid of nutrients, and desperately needed an organic lift.

Of course, it didn’t take long before we were building that compost, to show the owner how beneficial it could be.  We taught her employees all about the process, and we opened their eyes up to a whole new world of possibilities.  By collecting seaweed and any other organic refuse that came off the land, we were able to create a rich dark soil, full of nutrients and beneficial properties for the soil.  We also worked very hard physically every day, which took some getting used to after a year and a half of relative laziness.  I mean we weren’t grossly out of shape, but we definitely had become stagnant.

This experience provided us with an opportunity to not only use our bodies, but also our minds.  We both felt better in so many ways.  Because of this experience, our eyes became open to the possibilities that exist around the world, just like this one.  We have realized that although WE know all of this stuff, composting, building soil, gardening in general, that many don’t. And we now realize that people are actually HUNGRY for this information.

While collecting seaweed at the beach, to put it in our compost, we were always approached by a local wanting to know what we were doing.  They had heard that seaweed was good for the garden, but didn’t know how to integrate it and put it to good use.  So we would take the time to explain to them how they could do it in their own yards.

We have no idea if any of them ever did.  But maybe.  It’s impossible to say how that information travelled, but we are grateful that we spread the knowledge.  Hoping, at any chance we got, to help others understand that it is us that can heal the soil and the earth.  In fact, it is up to us.

If this past two years has provided us with anything, it is the clarity that comes with taking time away from distractions.  By freeing our minds from the pressing concerns of everyday life that we had back in our old lives,  we were able to focus on what was important to us, and we now solely focus only on what IS important to us.

We created a space for ourselves to breathe.  We created a space for growth and expansion, a space to push back our barriers, to prove to ourselves what we were capable of.  For that, we are both very grateful.

Right now, we find ourselves back where we left from, our home country of Canada.  We have been here since the end of August.  We hadn’t “planned” to stay this long, but as opportunities kept arising, our leaving date has been pushed back.

Recently we signed up for an online platform called Workaway.  The reasonable yearly membership gives you access to a network of people around the world that both want to volunteer on projects in foreign countries, and foreign countries that are looking for volunteers.  This platform brings it all together into one tight little bundle.

After only glancing over the postings that are available, I became really excited about the fact that many people are looking for others to help them learn permaculture.  They need strong bodies and capable hands to help them heal the land so that they can build gardens and live more sustainably.  It has made me realize that our skills are valuable all over the world.

And it is in this realization, that we have found purpose.  It took us 2 years of the most diverse experiences we could muster, to find our direction, to figure out what it is that we REALLY want to do with our lives.

Through Workaway, we have found a platform that will incorporate all of our loves; travelling to foreign lands, living like locals, using our bodies, spreading our knowledge, working for the benefit of the earth.  Honestly, we can’t wait to get back out there into the world again and get started!  But for now, we will sit tight in Canada, accomplish what we need to accomplish here, then, when the time is right, we will head off again to find a new adventure!


Being a Digital Nomad! 

It’s been a while since I updated my readers on the status of our ‘Digital Nomad’ life.  We now have 3 Etsy shops where we are individually selling our different creations.

I have split my products into 2 different shops, one is mostly clothing, and the other is home decor.

Chris has started a shop that incorporates many of his cartoon drawings.  The drawings are then sold on stickers, downloadable clip art, posters, pillows, cutting boards and more.  Check his shop out here.

Chris also does custom pet portraits and any other commissioned artwork.  He is a very diverse artist and can draw in many different styles.

Our art continues to be a priority as we grow and build these online platforms.  Again, it is something that we have really created time for, as in our old life we didn’t have as much opportunity to find time for creativity.


Travel Plans

As is our norm now-a-days, we don’t have any specific travel plans, but our current plan is to go to Morocco in January.  There are many Workaway opporunities there and it offers us a new experience and a new culture.

The pull to head back down south, to our friends and familiar landscapes is very strong, but we both know that once we get there, we may disappear into the jungles of Costa Rica or Guatemala, and never come out.  Heading somewhere totally different will help to quench our thirst to experience new and different places as much as we can.

All the pieces are not in place to make this happen just yet, but we are in full manifestation mode, and know that things will fall into place as they should if we try not to control our future too much.


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Canmore, Alberta Canada 

Travelling Plans: Our plan is to stay in this area until Christmas or New Years.  Details of our next destination are yet to be confirmed.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

Friends and Family Heal the Soul

We have caught up with much of our families, seen a few friends, adjusted to the North American ways again, and are feeling better than ever about this life we have chosen.


In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over a year, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we want to do to create an income for ourselves, the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


SURPRISE!

Saturday, September 14th marked the completion of something that I have been working on for roughly 8 months now.  I held a successful SURPRISE 50th Wedding Anniversary party for my parents, in the mountain town that I grew up in, Canmore, Alberta, Canada.

When I first came up with this idea, I just felt that this was an important anniversary for them, and it deserved to be celebrated.  Because I knew that we had plans to be back in my hometown this summer,  I knew that I needed to make this happen.

My initial thoughts of a small and intimate celebration, amongst their usual friends in Canmore, somehow became something so large, that I was inviting friends and family members from across Canada.  At first I thought that I would just reach out to people,  just to let them know, at the very least, that they had this milestone anniversary coming.  I didn’t actually expect people to respond so positively, but over time, and as more and more people started saying yes, I could feel something really special building.

People were really excited about coming! I soon realized that, not only my parents, but, I was going to see so many faces that I hadn’t seen in YEARS (in some cases……17 years!!)  As more and more people got on board, I became not only excited about the surprise itself, I just became excited about the entire event and the simple thrill of getting people together.

Every existing and living person in my Dad’s family convened in one place for the first time in decades!  I don’t think we had ALL been in one place since I was 16!  There was always somebody away travelling, or simply just too busy to make a trip to see the rest for previous gatherings, but this time everybody made it!

So much happiness!

The amount of happiness and pure joy coming from the participants of this gathering was astounding and I realized that we ALL needed this party.  It was just SO GOOD to see everybody, for old and new friends to meet, for everyone to get together, to remember the good times, and to get caught up and reconnect.  It felt to me like a good ol’ fashioned happy gathering, of which I remember many from my childhood.  It felt to me like everybody just needed a reason to celebrate something, to revel in joy and happiness, to get away from all of the sad news for once.

This party turned out to be not only for my parents, but for all of us.  For those of us who need to remember how good it feels to be surrounded by people that are important to us.  For those of us who may always feel like we are just too busy to go to these sorts of gatherings.  For those of us who feel like it’s just been too long, and maybe we are almost too embarrassed to get in contact again.

I was able to do this because I had the time to do it!

When the excitement died down from the party, and after I had a couple of days to reflect on things, it dawned on me that the only reason that I was able to host this party, and pull it off so flawlessly, is because I had the time and energy to do it.  I wasn’t distracted by building a career, or by working to pay the large debt load that I was carrying back before I cut my ties to society in 2017.  I wasn’t distracted by trying to run businesses, deal with my household, or the fact that I was too far away to possibly be able to do something like this.  In the past, I only had time for short visits to Canmore, 5 days max normally.  My life was on the West Coast of Canada, a 14 hour (on a good day) drive to get home.  I had businesses, a garden, animals, and any other manner of reasons of why I was too busy to get away for longer.

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Found the time for a nice hike to Grassi Lakes with friends and family the day after the party. 

In my old life, I might have been too exhausted to organize something of this magnitude, I simply would not have had the time.  The pressures of life may have been too overwhelming to have even CONSIDERED attempting such a feat.

So many people congratulated me on my ability to put this party together, to seamlessly invite so many people, and take care of so many details.  I have now realized that I was able to organize this party as well as I did ONLY because I have radically changed my life.  BECAUSE I pulled myself away from the hamster wheel that I was on,  I am now able to focus on the things that make me happy, and bring joy and fulfillment to my life.  And of course, as it does, my joy and happiness, is now reverberating out to those that are around me, and they too can partake in those parts of my life that I am happy and passionate about.

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This is the view from my parents kitchen.  This was just as the snow started to fly.  

Family Time

After the party,  we drove home with Chris’ mom, staying both at her house and going to Saskatoon to visit Chris’ Grandma and Aunt, for about a week.  Along the way, we also saw another 2 sets of Aunt’s and Uncles of his, and it was so great to say hi and check in with them all again.  Chris’ mom lives outside of Daysland, a town in central Alberta with a population of 824 people.  It is just one of hundreds of small towns like it, that are scattered throughout the prairies of Canada.  There is usually one small main street with quaint shops lining its sides, plus just a handful of other streets surrounding it, where the main population lives.  Daysland is no different than the rest, as it also serves the farmers that live out in the countryside, away from town limits, and seemingly, the rest of society itself.

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Chris’ Aunt Denise has a pet steer named Simon!  He is a sweetie! 
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Typical flat landscape of Central Alberta and Saskatchewan.  Fields stretch on for miles in every direction! 

This is where Chris’ mom lives, about a 15 minute drive outside of town, amongst a small grouping of trees that block out the winds that sweep the perfectly flat prairies.  She spoiled us rotten with incredible produce from her garden, and her continuous baking and cooking.  We had some lovely moments on the back deck, just sitting together in the bright, warm, prairie sun.  The 9 or so kittens that she currently has, didn’t hurt our stay either, and neither did the fact that because it was way out in the prairies, it was vast and oh so quiet.

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The lovely view from Chris’ Moms back deck!  A truly quiet and tranquil spot.  

Finding old friends.

Chris and I found ourselves in Old’s, Alberta this past week where we were housesitting for a few days.  We were taking care of a dog for two high school friends of mine that, after 15+ years of not seeing each other, found a romantic connection, and are now getting married.

Although I had seen Jess a few times in recent years, usually only for quick interactions, I hadn’t seen Paul since shortly after high school.  We spent a whole day and night with them before they left on their trip, and in no time at all,  the three of us were sharing memories from those days gone by, unlocking times and events that had occurred, pulling them deep from our memories.  It was almost like a time machine, the more time we spent together, the more we remembered, and the more we connected with our shared histories.  Somehow we were all being re-introduced to each other, our discussions fell into easy rhythm, and we realized that although we hadn’t seen each other in years, we all still enjoyed each others company, and it was clear why we were all friends in high school to begin with.

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Good friends reunite!  (Photo courtesy of Jessica Lee)

We took care of their lovely dog Zita and their rabbit Bun Bun.  Jess had left us her vehicle, so we were able to get around more than we usually would be able to, so we took advantage of it and drove to other communities to visit my cousin in Sylvan Lake one day, and Chris’ sister in Rocky Mountain House, on another.  It was such a beautiful time of year to drive around as the leaves on the trees here have now mostly turned an incredible bright yellow, but you can also catch glimpses of bushes with bold oranges and drastic reds scattered amongst them.  As we drove through the landscape, the wash of colours passing our windows was sometimes breathtaking.  I had forgotten just how amazing that fall and its drastic seasonal shift is, and it’s been wonderful to again witness such a stunning time of year.

On what was supposed to be our second last night housesitting and taking care of the animals for Jess and Paul, disaster struck.  Every house sitters worst nightmare played out in front of us and their dog became suddenly very ill.  After seeming fine in the morning, going on a long walk and eating her regular meal, by 7:00 that night she was definitely not fine.  It started with throwing up blood, then diarrhea, and things went from bad to worse really quickly.

I won’t fill in all the details of the roughly 4 hours from then, only to say that sadly, just as the Emergency Veterinarian arrived, Zita took her last breath and her heart stopped.

Words can’t describe our feelings of such an event happening on our watch.  I didn’t truly believe that she was as sick as she was until the inevitable happened. I just kept thinking that the Vet was going to arrive, and everything would be sorted out.  I replay the day over and over in my head, wondering if she ate something she shouldn’t have on the walk, wondering if I let her stick her nose in a bush just a little too long for her to find poison, or something like that. But these are all questions that will never be answered, and I gently remind myself that she was also an old dog.  She likely died simply of old age, and we just happened to be the ones there to witness the passing.

I am sad for my friends who have lost their family member, without getting to say goodbye.   I can’t imagine how it feels to leave your house in one way, then returning to find it has changed beyond what you could have ever imagined.  The fact that they are dear friends to me, makes it much harder as well.  I feel their sadness, and wish that I could somehow rewind the clock, to pick a different ending for their holiday.

In this life that we have chosen, we have learned that it’s not just physical possessions that we let go of, it’s also feelings and emotions that we attach to places, people and animals that we are introduced to along the way.  Through our housesitting, we have now become friends with quite a few different animals that we have cared for, and each time we leave them, we have to say goodbye and let them go.  Sometimes it’s easier than other times, but it is generally just sad.  We emotionally prepare ourselves for these events though, as we always know that we will be leaving at some point, and can ration our sadness out over time.  But with Zita, it didn’t work that way.  We’ve also had to let Zita go, of course, but with her it was oh so different.  Letting go of our emotions attached to this event will take longer than usual, but in time we will all heal from this tragedy.

Zita was such a kind and gentle soul, and such a good girl.  We are both very thankful to have had the chance to meet her and spend the precious time that we did have with her.  My thoughts go out to Paul and Jess as they navigate their new world without such an amazing dog in their lives.

Rest in Peace Zita.

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RIP Zita

Despite our sadness for what transpired recently, our first month back in Canada has been really wonderful.  We have caught up with much of our families, seen a few friends, adjusted to the North American ways again, and are feeling better than ever about this life we have chosen.  If nothing else, it has provided us with time.  Past visits were harried and exhausting affairs, trying to see all and do all in only a few days.  But now we feel like we really do have the energy to spend the time doing only what is important to us, like visiting friends and family, and that is the most freeing feeling in the world .


Where Are We Now?

We returned back to Canmore, Alberta, my hometown, just a couple days ago, and have started a new housesitting job.  We are taking care of an adorable little dog that looks to have part Weiner, Daschund and Doberman in him.  His name is Napolean, and the name just suits him great!  He loves to snuggle and, I have to say, is keeping me nice and toasty in the evenings when we are sitting on the couch.  The SNOW has started to fly here, and we find ourselves pretty much cold ALL THE TIME. 2 years in the tropics has softened us up much more than we could have imagined!

Originally we had thought that we would only stay here until the end of October, but Chris is starting a guest tattoo spot in a very busy tattoo shop in Banff on October 1st, so we have decided that it may make sense to stay for a while.  Which can only mean that it will get MUCH colder than this before we fly out of here again!

 

In the News!

Click this link to check out an article that was written about us in Canmore’s local paper!

New Milestone!

September 20th marked the 2 year anniversary of the day that we left the town where we were living on the West Coast of Canada.  (Read that post here.) While these last couple years have flown by in some respects, it has also felt like we have both lived a lifetime in them.  When we left Powell River, it was impossible to predict where we would go and how it would all play out.  And knowing what we know now, we could have never guessed any of it.  It has been a journey of literally just putting one foot in front of the other, and living each day as it comes.  We have done very little planning in advance, and we have really enjoyed watching the chips fall where ever they may.  I know it is cliché, but we feel that the universe is guiding us, and the more we can let go of what we think we should be doing next, and resist the urge to plan, the more things fall into place perfectly all around us.


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Canmore, Alberta Canada 

Travelling Plans: Our plan is to stay here until Christmas or New Years.  Details of our next destination are yet to be confirmed.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

 

 

Adios Guatemala, Hello Canada!

In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over a year, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we want to do to create an income for ourselves, the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


The time came to say farewell to our beloved Guatemala last week.  We originally arrived there in July 2018, on a whim (read that post here), and instantly fell in love with the country.  Since then, we had been in and out of the country, sometimes staying for our allotted visa time of 3 months, sometimes spending a couple weeks at a time.  But each and every time we have been there, we have found more and more reasons to love it.

On August 8th of this year, we touched down again in Guatemala and were instantly overcome with how much we missed and loved the country.

In an essence, we felt like we had returned home.

We had left some stuff there before we headed off to the Caribbean. Originally, we were going to meet my parents in the Virgin Islands for two weeks of fun to celebrate my Mom’s 70th birthday. We flew there on a one way ticket, intent on finding a new opportunity once we got there.

We had grand plans of finding work on a sail boat, or of getting a housesitting job somewhere in the Caribbean. It was the ultimate leap of faith. With no plans what so ever, we opened ourselves up to a wealth of possibilities. Little did we know what was waiting for us on the other side.

Three days into arriving to the Virgin Islands, a housesitting notification came up through our housesitting platform, to sit on an island just to the south east of us. (Read about that here.). It was a no brainer, so we applied, and it turned out to be a much bigger commitment than we had envisioned, but one that we eagerly accepted with vigour.  We ended up working at a Botanical Garden, and the experience is definitely one for the books, though I have yet to formulate the words that will fittingly describe it.

Knowing that we wanted to head back to Canada once our gig at the garden was over, meant that we first had to return to Guatemala to collect our belongings that we had left almost 7 months earlier.  On one hand, the lesson learned was to never leave our things behind, because collecting them means a lot of time and money spent getting to them, but on the other hand, we are so happy to have had the excuse to go back there again, and we really didn’t realize just how much we genuinely loved the country, until we made that return trip.

For us, it really is the complete package.  The scenery is to die for and there is an unbelievable amount of diversity in the landscape. From huge active billowing volcanoes, meandering rivers, spectacular lakes, mountains, valleys, waterfalls, mayan ruins, beachside towns to Caribbean ports……..the list goes on and on.  For such a small country, it is pretty astounding!

The food is also wonderful.  The Guatemalans have flavours all their own, not too spicy, but super flavourful!  We have never been disappointed by anything that we have tried.  The markets teem with produce that is both HUGE and delicious, and just being here, you can feel the connection that the people still have to the land.  They are excellent gardeners and farmers, planting crops on every square inch of arable space, from the flat to the vertical, if they can plant it, they will!   We have seen yards that are right next to the streets, with stalks of corn planted right to the sidewalk.  There are rarely manicured lawns, the spaces are much too valuable, and used for much better reasons than to just look good.  But in the end, they look amazing!  The greenery throughout the country is awe-inspiring, and no town or city is left without trees and parks and places for people to get away from it all.

The mayan culture is something to behold!  We are constantly in awe of the Mayan women in particular, who walk the streets in their traditional garb.  There is no specific fashion sense really, and nobody could really care less what another person is wearing.  There is just an overall sense that everyone is doing the best that they can, and that is just good enough.  There are still many active Mayan dialects, and we have been witness to them being spoken, realizing that what we are hearing was certainly NOT Spanish.

But at the end of it all, it is the people of Guatemala that make this country as special as it is.  For a country that is (what the ‘first world’ would call) poor, the people are just so happy and down to earth and you feel just amazing being amongst them.  Even the ones way back in the jungles, with hardly pennies, rather quetzales, to rub together, they are found laughing and joking, always smiling, non judging and mostly just curious.  They welcome you with huge smiles and eyes that sparkle.  They announce ‘buenas dias’ when they see you, and you can rarely pass even one on a sidewalk without at least a good day, or a ‘hola’ as you pass.  They sit on their stoops in the evening, saying hello to all who pass, local or foreigner, it does not matter to them.  We are all people, and we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.  This is the Guatemalan way, and for this, we are so grateful.

But now, here we sit, almost one week back in Canada.  Coming back to my home town of Canmore, Alberta, Canada, to help my parents downsize so that they can sell their house, plus renew our driver’s licenses, has meant a significant upset in our nice and neat routine.  All of a sudden we are COLD!  What the hell?  Isn’t it supposed to be SUMMER up here!?  We have hardly bared our skin all week, and for that we definitely miss the tropics!

We are surrounded by ridiculous and excessive wealth everywhere we look.  A whole society of people that have everything they could ever want in the world.  People who can afford most luxuries, not many wanting for much.  With such excess, one would think that everyone would be happy, that life would be perfect, that they would be over the moon to say hello to everyone that they pass.  With such excess, I would expect more happiness and laughter from people on the streets.  I would expect smiling and happy people everywhere I turn.

But, unfortunately, this is not the case.  Since being back I have said hello to numerous people that I have walked by, and they don’t even so much look at me, let alone say hello back.  People walk the streets with serious looks on their faces, seemingly rushing from one place to the next, barely a moment to sit back and enjoy the moment. This is a very different reality to the one that we have experienced for the last couple years.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be back, but I have to say that the location of where I get to come back to, largely contributes to my happiness in doing so.  You see, I grew up in another sort of paradise.  Not really a tropical paradise, but a paradise none the less.

Massive Rocky Mountains jut up into the startling blue sky.  The air is cool and crisp, but oh so clean and fresh.  A beautiful turquoise river meanders down past my parents house, and we get the privilege of sitting next to it whenever we choose. I am always grateful that I had the chance to grow up in such a beautiful place.

We get to stay in a house that doesn’t need many things to be repaired, plumbing that is usually guaranteed to work, lights that work really well, and electricity that rarely get’s shut off, and only if there is a major reason for doing so.  We get to have long hot showers again, and sleep in a super comfy bed.  We are eating some awesome food, drinking tap water, and working out in a gym.  Life up here is different, for sure, but there are many pluses that we also appreciate as well.

We will be here for the next couple months, continuing to adjust to this very different world that we now find ourselves in.  It’s strange, yet familiar, and as usual, we will make the best of it and do what we can while we are here.  We will do some hiking and fun stuff in the area, of course,  helping my parents to downsize, and doing a few odd jobs that we promised some friends.  The time will go quickly, as it does, and soon we will be heading south again, back to the warmth of Central America.


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Canmore, Alberta Canada 

Travelling Plans: Our plan is to stay here for 2 months, then head south again.  Details of where and when are yet to be confirmed.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

Our Nomadic Kitchen

I can’t say enough about how much we have enjoyed having Our Nomadic Kitchen! 


In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over a year, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we want to do to create an income for ourselves, the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


Back when we were getting rid of all of our stuff, selling our house, and closing down our previous lives, we were given an amazing piece of advice by a friend of mine.  She had seen an article, somewhere on facebook, and she shared the article with me.  It was a post suggesting that if you want to be a full time traveller, you should consider taking a kitchen kit along with you.

It was not something that we had considered at that point, but it made so much sense!  How often do you get to an Air BnB or Hostel and the utensils are inadequate.  You can’t find something to take hot items out of the oven, the knives are ridiculously dull, the carrot peeler is piece of garbage.  It’s so true!  It literally happens ALL OF THE TIME!

Are you a foodie?

Well, if you are a foodie like us, and you love to cook your own food, I encourage you to consider creating a small kitchen kit that you can take around with you.  We use EVERY item in our kit on a regular basis, and we have even gone so far as to saying that, besides our electronics, it is our most valued possession!

Although, in the article, there were suggestions of what she would bring in her kitchen kit, we have tailored her list to our needs, PLUS we have also found unique items to add to it along the way.

I can’t say enough about how much we have enjoyed having Our Nomadic Kitchen!  It has saved our bacon so many times, and it’s just nice to know that we have what we need, and can really prepare a meal anywhere and have the right tools for the job.

I know this isn’t everyones cup of tea.  Many travellers like to travel with only the maximum amount to fill carryon bags, but it’s safe to say that we all travel differently, and we all have our own priorities.  My partner and I travel really slow!  We prefer to stay in most places that we go for long terms, 1 month minimum, if possible, and because we aren’t moving around too much, more luggage works for us.  We find that Our Nomadic Kitchen is a necessary and important trade off for our comfort on the road.

Check out what is in Our Nomadic Kitchen!

Our Daily Adventure Kit:

This sub-kit travels around with us in our day pack once we reach our destination.  This part of our kit gives us the tools we need to reduce waste in the world when we are eating out.

Kitchen Kit #2

Included in this is:

3 Pieces of Bee’s Wrap – These pieces of fabric are coated in beeswax, which means you can fold them around food, and they will stick to themselves, keeping your food contained.  We use these for non-liquid leftovers, to wrap breads and other snacks for picnics etc.

Cheese Bag – The brown bag you see is actually designed for cheese making, which it also has been used for, however, we use it more for getting items from the market, washing vegetables, and using it as a giant tea bag for making large batches of teas.

Metal Straws – Of course we are now all familiar with the destruction that straws cause in our world.  Many places we travel already don’t serve straws with drinks, which is great, but we are also happy to tell them ‘no straw’ when we order a drink, so we can instead us our metal straws.  Every little bit helps!  These are easily cleanable by simply pouring water down them immediately after use.

Recycled Plastic Cutlery – This cutlery is stored with the straws in the fabric pouch that you see.  Of course, these too are used in place of single use plastic forks, knives and spoons whenever we can.  A cute story about the pouch; We had been hauling around our cutlery and straws in our backpack with just an elastic holding them in place.  As you can imagine, we were concerned about the bacteria in our backpacks with pulling these out and using them all the time, so we decided to look for a little bag that could hold our items for us.  A day later we were in a restaurant in Guatemala when I saw a sign that they were selling locally grown and roasted coffee.  We decided to buy a pound, only afterwards realizing that the beautiful hand woven bag that it came in, would be PERFECT for our utensils!

Kitcen Kit #5

In the following photos you will see a variety of items. Let me explain them to you below:

Collapsible Funnel – The blue thing in the top left corner above is a funnel that collapses almost flat.  This is a very light weight item, that takes up barely any room!  We use it to transfer liquids into bottles, and sometimes to filter out liquids from solids.  Plus it is silicone, so it is heat resistant! There are many uses for funnels in the kitchen!

Silicone Pot Holders – How many times has your cooking been in the oven and you are scrambling around trying to find something to take your oven tray out with?  The red items at the top are silicone pot holders.  You simply put your thumb in one side, and your other fingers in the other (like you would a puppet), and their heat resistance means that you can grab any hot item from the oven, or use them to take hot lids off pots etc.

Leatherman Multi-Tool – This tool has many different things on it.  We use it as a small knife to take with us to picnics, and it has many different little tools on it that have come in handy for numerous little projects both in the kitchen and around the house.  If you were to have one item from this whole kit, the Leatherman would likely be the most bang for your buck, and should be every travellers companion.  This also travels with us in our day pack when we arrive to our destinations.

Mini Mortar and Pestle – We found this beautiful little mortar and pestle at an artisan market in Palenque, Mexico.  When Chris saw it, he knew that we needed to have it!  In Central America the spices are sold whole in the markets.  You can shop in the grocery stores for bottles of spices, but the ones in the markets are local and fresh!  This little mortar and pestle allows us to crush the delicious fresh spices that we come across, which add so much delicious flavour to our food.

Silicone Tongs – These are great for so many reasons as well!  Because they are silicone, they are again heat resistant, and can be used to remove hot items from the oven, mix up salads, transfer food from pan to plate and so much more!

Knife Sharpener – The red item at the bottom is a portable knife sharpener.  It not only keeps our knife sharp, but we sometimes sharpen the knives where we are staying as well!

Muddler – Of course, there are so many fresh herbs and spices growing all over the world.  It is wonderful to pick fresh mint and then muddle it into a lovely drink……like a Mojito! We actually bought this at the Bacardi Distillery while we were in Puerto Rico!

Small Shred Grater – This grater is fantastic and is used for so many things.  It actually stands up into a pyramid, and you can use it to grate cheese, spices, vegetables and so much more!  The reason it is dyed orange right now is because Chris has been grating fresh tumeric on it!  It also works fabulously for fresh ginger!

Costa Rican Coffee Sock – These socks are how Costa Ricans traditionally make their coffee.  They simply place the ground coffee in the sock, hold it over a mug, and pour boiling water through it.  We have 3 of these and we use them for both coffee and teas.  They are a fantastic item and can be used over and over and over again!  Plus, we NEVER have to look for a coffee maker, or be frustrated when we don’t have one that works!  All we need is boiling water, and we are golden!

Cork Screw/Bottle Opener – This item is actually excessive as we have a wine bottle opener on our Leatherman.  Plus Chris can open bottle tops with his ring!  So, one day this will likely be purged or passed on to a fellow traveller.

Kitchen Kit #3
Not pictured:  1 good quality vegetable peeler!

Folding Serving Spoon – The spoon at the top actually folds in half, making it marginally smaller.  It’s uses are obvious and it is surprising how few places have soup ladles or large serving spoons.

Silicon Pastry Brush –  Again the silicone means that we can use this in high heat situations.  This is a glamorous item in our kit, but we use it a lot to mostly brush sauces onto things in the oven.

Can Opener – I will admit that this item is not used a lot, since we primarily try and cook foods from scratch, and don’t buy much in the way of canned food. However, we still do once in a while, and this makes opening them a dream.  Again, can openers, like vegetable peelers are often in poor working order in most kitchens on the road.

Spatulas – It is probably redundant to have 2 spatulas, but one is great for large bowls and pots, and one is great for taking with us on a picnic to get sauces and dips out of their containers.  For the size and weight of having 2, we really aren’t that worried about it.

Global Chef Knife – I can’t express enough how nice it is to have a knife that really cuts, and that we can rely on!  Every traveller knows of the crap knives that are in many kitchens around the world.  It’s like the managers keep them dull on purpose so nobody cuts themselves!  Many people have asked how we are able to travel with it, but all of these items go in our checked bags, and we haven’t had any trouble yet!  (Knocking on wood here!!!)

First Aid Scissors – Thankfully we haven’t had to use these for first aid just yet! (More knocking….) But they can cut through pennies, so they have come in handy for many different things both in the kitchen and around the house, like cutting rope, wires and who knows what else!

Stove Lighter – We found this handy lighter holder in Costa Rica, and have only seen one other one since!  Check out the pic below to see how awesome this device is!  You put one regular large lighter into it (remove the child safety if there is one), then you push from the bottom and it provides an easy way to light stoves (kind of like our Bar B Que lighters in North America, but reusable forever!) This has been invaluable in so many kitchens where we have been travelling.  Most stoves are gas, and they are normally flanked by a tiny box of wooden matches.  These are a pain in the butt to use compared to this beauty!  We LOVE our lighter!

Not pictured:

Vegetable Peeler: We have a really great vegetable peeler that we can always rely on to do the job.  Again, this is an item in most kitchens that barely works and is frustrating to use at best!  Knowing that we have a good one makes our cooking experience so much better!

Kitchen Kit #4
Just so easy!  When you close it, you push up on the part where the spring is, and viola, you have flame!

Kitchen Kit #9

Food Storage Bag Clips– These clips come in handy for so many things.  We used to have more of the plastic ones on the left, but when we started losing them, we resorted to buying just standard binder clips from the office supply store.  These keep your bags fresh and your food good, especially in damp and humid climates!

Not Pictured

Zip Loc Bags – When we left Canada, we left with about 6 large zip loc bags. We always wash our bags and dry them out to re-use them, but over time, even they disintegrate.  When we had family visiting us in January, we had them bring a few more for us.  Although we don’t like using plastic, they are necessary for storing liquid food if there are no containers, plus they protect any bottles of liquid that we happen to be travelling with.  They are great for storing food for picnics, and come in handy for storing things like coffee, rice, lentils and other dry goods.

Kitchen kit #8

Whenever possible, we try and build a small clothes line for hanging our coffee socks and ziploc bags so that they can dry properly.  These small clothes pin clips are available in most stores where you travel, or you can bring a small selection of them with you, plus a small piece of string, to make one where ever you go!

All of these items fit with ample room into one of our packing cubes.  The cube pictured measures 14″x10″x3″ and weighs 3-4 pounds.

 

There is still lots of room in it to add items as we see them, but as minimalists, we try really hard to make sure that each item we buy is necessary in our lives, before purchasing it.

What kitchen tools are we missing from our kit?

Although we are pretty happy with our kit, there are a couple items that we would love to add to it, just to make our lives that much easier. We have been on the hunt for a small cutting board that will fit right into the kit.  We are looking for something small and light weight, for those times where we need to cut something while we are away from the kitchen.  Cutting boards, however, are usually found in most kitchens and hostels as a bare minimum, so this would be a luxury item for sure.

We also are regretful that we didn’t keep our flat potato and veggie masher that we had in Canada.  It functions as both a masher and a whisk, and when we head back to Canada this summer, it is definitely on our list to buy!

Are you ready to put together YOUR nomadic kitchen?

As stated above, I can’t say enough how important this kit is to us, and how much we use these items.  We LOVE to cook and are constantly trying new foods and coming up with new ideas of what to cook.  Making your life easier in the kitchen means that you will eat out less, and eat fresher, healthier and more invigorating food.  So what are you waiting for?  Get started on putting your Nomadic Kitchen together today!

PS. I would LOVE to hear stories about your Nomadic Kitchen! Comment below if you, or someone you know does this as well! Or tell me all about the one that you make after reading this post!

Nomadic Kitchen


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Nevis Island, St. Kitts & Nevis

Travelling Plans: On August 5th we will start our long journey back to Canada to visit family and friends for a couple months.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)