Otherwise known as YVR, this is one beautiful airport. As soon as you enter, there is a nature theme, even sounds like the trickling of streams… that’s because there are actual streams winding their way through the space.
There’s stunning Indigenous art, and another great feature is the aquarium. It’s so well designed that as you come upon it, it looks a part of nature & you’re drawn to its relaxing flow. To many viewers’ delight, 2 scuba divers suddenly appeared in the tank to clean & check the fish.
There are so many things to see as you wander through to pick up someone from Arrivals or while you await your own flight.
Cartier, Burberry, convenience shops with snacks & amenities to make your trip better & many other stores line the corridors, along with quite a good selection of food. There are a couple of sit down restaurants, if you’re looking for a more civilized meal that takes a little more time, or there are spots like A&W, Subway, Salmon & Bannock (with a delicious fresh beet salad & also candied salmon on a bed of fresh lettuce for those of us with dairy & gluten intolerances or who want to eat a little healthier). Of course there’s also Starbucks.
The washrooms are always clean, with plenty of soap & sanitizer. There are water stations so that you can bring your own bottle to refill. There’s a play area & plenty of seating to watch the planes come & go. The only thing that is still lacking is the complete shortage of outlets to recharge phones, laptops, etc.
Vancouver International Airport was fabulous this trip. It’s beautiful, yes, but it was also efficient & very clean. Our luggage went straight from YVR to RAK & back with no issues… thank goodness.
We managed to get quite a bit of work done at the tables near the manmade little creek that meanders through the food court prior to boarding. We’re always there AT LEAST 3.5 hours before our flight because if you’ve ever driven from Abbotsford to Vancouver – anything can happen. This relaxing spot makes for a really nice start to a holiday.
Always on the search for the perfect personal item & the best carry-on… I’m going to give these a try:
Found a Kenneth Cole carry-on branded ‘Reaction’ at my local Winners store. It’s got zippered covers on each side to hold your belongings firmly in place + extra pockets inside. I like the easy movement of the double spinner wheels & the telescoping handle works well. There are protective corner pieces & a few spots with grip handles to make it easy to pick up at any angle. This one was about $90
I won’t travel without compression bags (or socks!) now. They make it so much easier to fit everything you want to take into just a carry-on. These ones don’t need a vacuum to seal them, just roll them up by hand. They also protect your clothing etc from any moisture. They cost about $13 for 4 bags.
From experience, I know good shoes make all the difference between enjoying your walking tour & totally not. I knew just where to shop local to get them too – Payton & Buckle Shoes in Downtown Chilliwack. These comfy little slip-on runners are by Vionic & are from their Beach line, they actually have arch support. I’ll wear these for our flights as well – easy on, easy off. They can be worn with my capris, skirts or dresses. I love that they’re washable. It’s going to be hot in Morocco so sandals are a must, these gold ones will be cool but are nicely padded & adjustable across the top of the foot. They’re by Aetrex. Pricing varies. www.paytonandbuckle.com
This time I ordered my new anti-theft personal item bag from Amazon, a co-worker had gotten a similar one that she took to Mexico & it worked very well. I have to have something with lots of compartments, this one has 2 + 18 pockets! I also wanted an extra USB charger, and something that was easy to get into. This one opens like a doctor’s bag & has padding for my tech so putting in my laptop, iPad, eReader etc is simple & safe. This bag has a strong carry handle or can be used as a backpack. It has the strap to secure it to your carry-on handle as well. There were other colour options but I wanted to somewhat match my carry-on & also not get so dirty., so black with grey it is. The brand is Lovevook and was just over $50. Here’s the link for you: amzn.to/3NvHpL3
I wanted to downsize my toiletry bag but couldn’t seem to find what I wanted until I came across this cutie with some travel size Moroccanoil products inside (no that wasn’t planned – Morrocanoil products to Morocco… lol) – extra volume shampoo & conditioner, a light treatment & a clean, light body spray. I learned awhile ago to take much less makeup & skincare. I’m never away that long so a decent wash of my face using my favourite Dermalogica wash, my good quality moisturizing sunscreen, my powder foundation with SPF by Eminence, a toothbrush/paste & some excellent lash extensions by my girl Tracey from Voila Lash Lounge (Downtown Chilliwack & Downtown Abbotsford), deodorant & my tinted chapstick with SPF are really all I need. www.voilalashandbeauty.com
It’s always so much easier to pack for a warm weather holiday than it is a cold weather one… no bulky heavy clothing & footwear, so a carry-on is all you really need. Lessons learned: always take pjs, an extra change of clothes, any medications & your toiletries in your personal item… checked baggage gets lost. A lot. This way you can at least change into pjs & wash the clothes you’re wearing, letting them dry overnight & able to wear your spare outfit until you get your luggage back. I always pack a couple of sheets of Tru Earth laundry strips, they melt easily in the hotel sink & despite not having a strong scent, or major suds, they clean very well. You can also take less clothing if you’re washing in between. I’ll do an update once I’ve tried these bags out.
Simply put, we check it all over, then clean. If you think the airlines have time between one flight & another to do a thorough clean, then think again. There is no way they can clean up everyone’s mess they seem to leave all over the floor(that’s a rant I’ve already posted grr), reload the plane & get everything perfectly clean & sanitized in often less than 20 minutes.
I put our bags under our seats, my husband places anything that needs to go in the overhead there while I get out the disinfectant wipes. I’ve seen how gross people can be (adults are almost worse than kids!) nose picking, bare feet placed on tray tables… I shudder at some things I’ve seen. We wipe down the window, the seats including belts, the TV monitor, the seat pocket, tray tables… once a woman was giving me the side eye as I cleaned, so I flipped over the cloth to show her how BLACK it was, she gagged & asked me if I had an extra wipe… I keep empty sandwich bags with us, the dirty wipes go into them in the seat pocket until the flight attendant comes around collecting garbage, then we use hand wipes on our hands & those also go in the sandwich bag.
Once we get off the plane, we head straight for the nearest washroom, wash our hands & use damp paper towels to wipe the outside of our carry ons since they’ve been on the floor of the aircraft the whole flight.
At the hotel we drop our bags just inside the door, then check that the room is what we paid for, that the bathroom & main room is clean, and most important… the bedding. is. spotless. This sounds like it should be a given. It is NOT. We’ve found, unfortunately more than once, hair or even blood on the bedding. Nope. Absolutely not acceptable.
If something like that happens, one of us stays in the room & the other goes to speak to a manager at reception. Sometimes they come to check, but mostly they’re mortified so just give you another room immediately.
A couple of places we’ve been, that’s the way it is… the standards of cleanliness are not as high as other places, so you keep your shoes and socks on & use some clothing to cover the pillow you’re going to sleep on, or better yet, roll your clothing and sleep on that. Our hotel in India was like that. Also, our hotel in Whitehorse, Yukon.
It may seem like overkill, but now that you’ve read this, you’ll really notice people’s behaviour on long flights, it’s like they lose their perception of what’s appropriate in the company of hundreds of other people. We witnessed a guy walk barefoot into the plane’s washroom, then saunter out, and place his feet on the seat back & his TV monitor! Especially in the wake of Covid & Norwalk… why wouldn’t you take some simple precautions to ensure your hard earned holiday doesn’t get cut short due to illness or worse… staph infection.
PS Do NOT put anything but trash in the pocket in the airplane seat back… we’ve been told by former air crews that most people blow their nose & put the used Kleenex right into the pocket…
I have these comfy, colourful world map slip ons in white & also black. They’re part of my capsule wardrobe that makes it possible to only take carry on luggage on our travels.
My sister got me into these great little shoes by Bucketfeet. They’re super comfortable, slim for packing & easy on & off when going through security at airports.
There are lots of funky designs that are creations of actual artists, making these cuties available by limited edition only. These are perfect for me because the map (hellooooo travel!) & each continent actually looks like different fabrics (my other hobby – sewing!)
Bucketfeet let you to express your personality & individuality + you’re wearing art on your feet, making YOU a patron of the arts.
Going into this trip has been a little stressful, what with worrying about the luggage situation the world over, Covid, heatwaves, hardly any car rentals available (+ $$$?!)…
We originally booked awhile ago, prior to the luggage situation, so prepaid for two checked bags with our flights. Once we saw what was happening with the piles & stacks of luggage not getting through, not to mention lost luggage, we decided to try to pack three weeks worth of things into carry-ons instead. We called Air Canada to get a refund on the checked bags ($100) but they wouldn’t do it stating it isn’t their fault the luggage situation is what it is but it’s Heathrow Airport’s… that may be, we said, but we had paid you for a service that now you won’t have to be providing… nope, too bad, they said.
We packed, repacked & weighed our bags about 10 times because not only are we doing England but also 6 days in Portugal. The Air Canada carry-on doesn’t have a weight limit but must fit in the metal rack they have for sizing. Seems easy enough, yeah? Portugal, however, will only allow a 17.5 lb carry-on aboard. Now, our carry-on bags are the lightest we could find at 5 lbs… this means you can only put 12.5 lbs of items in… that’s not very much in the way of clothing & personal items. There’s an allowed personal item as well but that is only 4.5 lbs too so pack carefully…
We arrived at Vancouver International Airport about 1:30 pm for our 8:15 pm flight as we had heard & seen horror stories about lineups through Customs. It was surprising how few people were actually at the airport in general on this lovely Saturday in July.
We decided to try to go through security right away and couldn’t believe that we were really only about 20 minutes, start to finish. It would have been closer to 10 minutes but one of us carries a medication kit that needs to be kept cold & it seemed to draw attention. It was drug tested on the way through, with zero issue & the pleasant staff were efficient.
We wanted to have a bite to eat in case we weren’t happy with the inflight meal, so landed at Lift cafe where we had excellent service & fresh, delicious salads & a tea & coffee. There were only two wait staff but they did an excellent job.
We found a spot at our gate (Gate 55) to relax & charge our phones etc for awhile. We did a lot of stretching & walking about to get ready for the 8-9 hour flight. It’s always interesting to wander around & see any art installations in the airports around the world. YVR had a dress made of paper, a papier-mâché sculpture, wood carvings & some well done paintings. The decor of YVR is beautiful with its Indigenous flavour & natural decor including indoor streams, carvings & aquariums.
We boarded the plane (Boeing 777) with no trouble & were pleased to see we did get plenty of legroom as we’d upgraded slightly in Economy Class. It was the usual tricky situation with trying to fit everyone’s carry-ons in the overhead, eventually but we were off.
Very pleasant air crew, and luckily not one issue with passengers remaining masked for the entire flight. The meal was alright, chicken with gnocchi, celeriac salad, and a bun with a brownie for dessert. Everyone settled in quietly for our overnight flight. Breakfast was a small croissant & yogourt. The seats were pretty squishy as far as width, we noted just how much more room there was in the class ahead of us … wider, further reclining seats with more space between each seat, and a proper foot rest.
Our flight was on time, in fact we had been 6 minutes early, but we had to wait on the tarmac for about 15 or 20 minutes as another plane was in our spot. Once we deplaned, we were relieved at how easy it was to march off, and avoid waiting at the luggage carousels. There was a literal WALL of baggage in the baggage claim area so we were glad to have made the extra effort to avoid checking bags. (A relative of ours just returned from a Scotland/Iceland trip where they had taken strictly carry-ons but had been forced to check their bags due to storage issues… two of the four travellers have still never seen that checked baggage since… they were without it their entire trip & have come back home… it’s been over a month… terrible).
Overall, a satisfactory first leg of our holiday. We’ll chat about our car rental nightmare later…
PS Want some comfy AND cute footwear for your holiday? These leather sneakers by www.rieker.ca have the sweetest ribbons for laces & were good for walking yet cute with summer dresses too! I also had some gorgeous Josep Seibel sandals. Try this family run, fantastic shoe store – Payton & Buckle. I only took 2 pairs of shoes on this trip & both were from P & B! They have 3 locations: Chilliwack, Abbotsford & Pitt Meadows. www.paytonandbuckle.com You’re welcome!
Follow along with us the next few weeks as we take our first international trip since December 2018.
We’re heading to England via Heathrow Airport then on to Portugal via Faro Airport.
We’ve decided not to take any checked baggage because of the shortage of staff to deal with it at Heathrow… it’s a hard shell carry-on suitcase all the way for us this vacation. Remember your carry-on luggage with say, Air Canada, doesn’t have a weight limit but it MUST fit in the overhead compartment. You may also take one personal item but it MUST fit under your seat. Here are some suitable hand luggage suggestions https://shop.samsonite.com/ Don’t be that person with more than your allowance as it’s not fair to other travellers who have done as asked.
We’ll be arriving for our evening departure at least 5 hours ahead of time to avoid any delays due to traffic or lineups while going through security. Expert Traveller Tips: Have your allowable liquids in ONE separate, clear plastic 1 litre bag ready to place in an examination tray. If you have any over 100 mls or more than the one 1 litre bag, you will be expected to get rid of them. Also, have your medications & their paperwork together in a separate bag so it’s easily checked.
We need to get to our first destination (London, Heathrow) to get our rental car on time (the only vehicle available!). It’s at least 2.5 hours to the City of Bath where we’re headed. There are strikes going on regarding the trains & possibly other transit so it’s imperative that we get this rental.
After our holiday with family in Bath & Bradford on Avon, we head back to London for one day to be ready for the next leg of our trip… Portugal.
We’ve been reading that there are forest fires, a heat wave, the worst Covid Ba.4 & Ba.5 numbers in the world, also pilot & air crew strikes happening right now in Portugal… we’re completely vaccinated & have all of the sanitizers & masks we could possibly need but we have no control over fires & strike action. As professional traveller, travel writer & television personality, Rick Steves wisely always says, be prepared for everything. https://www.ricksteves.com/
1. What is your name, where were you born & where do you live now?
Guest – Kelsey Forsyth:
My name is Kelsey Forsyth. I was born in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada and I currently live in London, United Kingdom.
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2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?
I would like to think of myself as some sort of backpacker. Impulsive, yet methodical. Someone who goes and explores places because of my curiosity from seeing it in text books in school or seeing pictures and thinking, I would love to see that in real life.
The last few trips I’ve taken, I have only taken a ruck sack because I don’t want to have to pay any airline additional fees, but my first trip overseas alone, I did take a full backpackers style backpack which I do love, I just don’t love the cost of paying for it. I try to travel as often as I can and as long as I can. When I lived in Canada I had a contract job which allowed me to have large chunks of time off during the Spring, so I usually made the most of that. I moved to the UK officially on April 14th, 2020, but there were no flights out of Canada during that time due to Covid, so I left the country on March 21st which ended up being the last flight to the UK because the flights before and after mine were all cancelled. Impulsive, to say the least.
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3. How do you fund your travelling?
I have always worked. I’m pretty decent at saving money and I would work several jobs at a time, often far away from home allowing me to squirrel money away for adventures.
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4. How long have you been interested in travelling & give us a quick, bullet point list of some of the places you’ve been.
I think I have always been interested in travelling. I just enjoy experiencing, exploring and seeing things instead of having things explained to me. I like the opportunity to walk around a place, eat the food and try out activities in different areas with different cultures. It’s amazing what this world is made of and it would be an absolute shame to not have the opportunity or to create the opportunity for myself to see it all first hand. I have driven across Canada twice with the exception of New Foundland and Labrador or any of the territories (although I was 20 minutes away from the Yukon Territory once). I have been to every corner of British Columbia, Seattle Washington, New York & Portland, Oregon. I have been to:
• Houston, Texas
• Cayman Islands
• The Netherlands
• New Zealand
and most recently,
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5. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
The best place I have ever been is a very subjective question. I think the best beach I have ever been to has been in the Cayman Islands. The water was stunning and the people were so nice. But I could never live there.
I loved London from the moment I first arrived and knew it could be a place I could easily move to. I had left London for less than a week and booked a trip to return again to continue to explore the area I had read so much about from history books in High School.
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6. Where is the worst place you have been and why?
The worst place I have probably been was New York. I was there on a class trip when I was in grade 11 and I enjoyed it to see the things that I got to see, but I really didn’t like the food. American food is just not good. It is so far from real and just made me sick the whole time.
Also, the people were horrible. I watched one of our special education teachers get knocked over and her glasses flew off and stepped on trying to cross the street because people give no care about anyone other than themselves.
It’s an overwhelming and tragic feeling in the United States of that kind of mentality and one that is truly unique to America.
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7. Do you have a Bucket List? Give us the top 5 on that list.
I sort of do and I sort of don’t have a bucket list. The world is evolving and so am I in that time. Some places I used to have absolutely no interest in, I now would love to go see and explore them as I grow and learn more about my comfort zones and stepping outside them.
Currently, the next few places I would love to visit and explore would be
Again, that is a short list and there are many beautiful countries missing from that list that I would love to visit.
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8. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
Recently, I have only been traveling with essentials because it saves a lot on cost, but I do sneak in some items that are for vanity. I always take my mascara, a book and my own bar of soap.
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9. What was NOT a good travel experience & why?
I really enjoy traveling by myself. I didn’t realize that until I had done it on my own and then met up with a best friend after. I had already become accustomed to enjoying walking and checking out different places and seeing things one way, while my friend enjoyed the glamorous side of traveling, which I also did, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoyed other aspects as well and it, at times, was met with resistance or hesitation so it made me feel like we both weren’t able to enjoy our experiences because we were both looking out for that the other would enjoy more than we were enjoying the experiences for ourselves.
It’s important to find the right person to do this with, and we had lived together and worked together so I didn’t expect our wires to cross the way they did, so it was a bit of a shock and made for a bit of an awkward travel experience.
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10. Where was your most recent trip? Tell us a little about it. Also please share some photos!
My most recent travel experience was to Portugal. I happened to have a four day weekend allowing me to jump on a plane and travel 2.5 hours south to Lisbon. It was such a great experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go.
Everything was hard for a lot of people because of Covid and the continuous lockdown that the UK had seen since Christmas 2020. It was a long winter and opening back up again in the summer was slow and delayed.
Countries were being added to an amber list which meant you could travel with particular cautions and luckily being double vaccinated allowed me the luxury to start living life as close to normal as we can get, post pandemic.
We arrived in Portugal and went through security. We needed to prove our vaccine status and prove a recent Covid Test which was negative. It didn’t take too long to get through and we went to check into our Airbnb.
It was a great location, about a 20 minute walk into the old town, which was stunning and beautiful. We took a ride on the tram to go up one of the massive hills and then walked it the rest of the time.
We found an amazing restaurant with fresh seafood and pitchers of Sangria for 10 Euros! We visited it twice in our 4 day stay and did walking tours and climbed mountains to see castles in Sintra.
We relaxed on the beach after that in Cascais. It was such a nice experience to travel the world again and continue to be able to appreciate the things we could lose when things like Global Warming and Pandemics take over. The world is much smaller than we all think.
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Thanks so much, Kelsey, for giving us a glimpse into your adventures & we’ve noted a few of the same Bucket List destinations on your mind are also on our own – maybe we’ll see you somewhere around the world! Safe travels!
Wow. I mean just W.O.W… so we had been in San Diego & Los Angeles for about 6 days & were heading home. We were to leave from LAX. A pretty big, busy place, right? First of all, the bus driver nearly drove past our terminal. She caught herself just in time & off we leapt with our luggage. We got inside departures, the check in went well & the polite staff member said to us “Just head back to your left to Gate G. Have a safe flight” He even pointed in that direction. We about face-d, walked back toward where he gestured to & came upon… a wall. We looked around. Nowhere to go but outdoors. Literally everything else was blocked off. I discovered a small sign that kinnnnnnnd of points in the direction of where we had just been dropped off… do we actually go outside? Sure enough, as we ventured out, we saw a sidewalk & more construction barricades so we cautiously walked that way… behind us were other travellers doing the same thing. There really was only two choices: we go back to where we checked in and say “Ummm where do we go again?” or we continue on. We continued on. Sure enough, a ways down the sidewalk, we spotted some more somewhat useful signage that pointed to the gates.
That’s when we could not believe our eyes. Now, don’t get us wrong, we understand that as more people travel & airports etc are being used way more often by tons more people – improvements must be made, renovations have to be done & there will be a little confusion. We’ve been in airports during renos before. (London, Heathrow… the long, painful night of the ongoing clanging security alarms & jack hammers…) There really is no good time to do construction in such a busy place. The thing is: signage would clear up the majority of issues. As would strategically placed staff. We found ourselves being herded like confused cattle into what can only be described as a holding pen. There were about 80 chairs & eleventy-billion people. Ok so not quite that many, but you get the point. We decided to eat something, since we had arrived three hours ahead of our flight (as you’re supposed to do) & you’re never sure if there’s food served on board or not. We hauled ourselves into the Starbucks lineup. That was about 45 minutes. Now they were hustling & getting orders in but with only two machines – you can only make what you can make… Having ranted about that I will also say that I was thrilled to see more healthy food options & also some for dairy free, gluten free, vegan diners. There was a Shake Shack nearby as well, but not as healthy and just as packed full. We managed to score two seats as someone left to line up to board their flight. I needed to wash my hands & go to the loo so spent an hour in that lineup too. We thought we’d wander about & see some shops. There were kiosks. With bug spray, ear plugs, Tylenol & water. That’s. It. No windows or stores to peruse. Not even one. I swear I saw a fist fight brewing over an outlet with a USB port since quite a few that were in the seats weren’t working.
It would have been good to have some signs or staff to let you know, once you’re through security – There. Is. NOTHING. Nothing to see. Nothing to do. Nowhere to sit. Travellers can then make the choice to spend maybe just one more hour wandering & looking around prior to checking in. Upon reflection, there seemed to be a shortage of staff in general… garbage containers were overflowing everywhere, there was no one to ask for directions or advice. There was one very determined woman who worked in the loo, making sure everything was clean & kept in order, so kudos to her.
We’ve learned that you have to expect just about anything when travelling. You have to roll with it. (Speaking of roll with it: For the love of God, get a good suitcase with decent spinner wheels… just spend the money, get the warranty & for a few years – travel much easier.) Always, always have something to read with you. Also, enjoying who you are travelling with is a major plus 😉