How to Travel More in University

University/college is a great time to travel, a time when you have fewer obligations and more time off than most jobs. However, if you’re still in university, it can be challenging to take advantage of all your breaks while living on a tight budget.

Take advantage of conferences and competitions.

I talked about this here, but conferences and competitions are an awesome way to travel during school, even for free. I wouldn’t be going to China this fall if it weren’t for an Enactus competition, and I’ve gone to several conferences across Canada for free. People ask how I find so many things to apply for, and my trick is reading all my emails! We get dozens of promotional emails a day at school, but if you read through them, you could land yourself a free international trip.

As well, professors will be much more receptive if you have to miss school for a case competition than for a beach vacation. Just a thought!

Make friends with diverse people.

Meeting friends from different countries, states or provinces can do two things. By hearing about a destination from a local, you might be inspired to visit a new place that wasn’t even on your radar before! In addition, your new friends might be kind enough to offer you a couch and a tour if you ever visit their hometown.

Plan your breaks in advance.

It can be easy to squander all your money on food and alcohol, then realize in January that you certainly can’t go anywhere for spring break. I recommend sitting down at the beginning of the year and mapping out any break you have that’s longer than four days (you’d be surprised where you can go with 5!). Planning ahead for your breaks lets you see where you could go this year, and motivates you to save your money for that upcoming week off.

Study abroad.

I really regret not applying to study abroad. I was about to start the process, then I decided I couldn’t afford it. If you still have time to apply, DO IT. At most schools you only pay fees to your school, and you would already be paying to live at your university. So really, the only additional costs are your airfare and travelling around the place you study. It might be a bit tough to manage, but it seems like everyone who studies abroad has an incredible experience.

Go to school across the country.

I started university at 16, so I stuck pretty close to home. If you’re bored of your province or state, go somewhere else! If you can afford it and it’s practical, you could even go to a foreign school. This tip and the next one are about more than travelling, they’re about relocating entirely!

Spend your summers elsewhere.

When it comes time to find summer jobs or internships, don’t just focus your search on your college town or your hometown. Au pair in Europe! Get an internship in New York City! Even going across the country for a job can get you out of your bubble. It’s much easier to temporarily relocate now than it will be later.

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How to Achieve Your Dreams

I am a firm believer in hard work and the power of perseverance. Some days I may moan about the ridiculous amount of work I have to get done and how stressed out I am, but in general I truly believe that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.

I have a lot of big dreams – and I’ve already accomplished some smaller ones. Paying for university all on my own, embarking on my first solo adventure, just to name a few – I’m also achieving my dreams every day when I post to this blog.

We are all the masters of our own lives, even in very small ways. Chris Guillebeau’s new book, The Happiness of Pursuit, showed me how taking control by pursuing a quest can add meaning to your life.

Reading Chris’ new book struck me dumb with its stories of the amazing things people are doing around the world. From walking across Turkey, to biking from Alaska to Argentina, to cooking a meal from every country in the world, I was inspired to pursue my own quest and felt reinvigorated to achieve my big, scary dreams.

If you’re a big dreamer like me, read on to find out how to achieve your dreams:

Do it for you.

If your big, scary dream is to be the President of the United States, that’s amazing. However, if your goal is to be the President to get back at that kid in elementary school who mocked you for saying that, you might struggle a little. The best dreams come from within. Chris Guillebeau didn’t visit 193 countries to impress anyone, he did it because he  felt it brought meaning to his life. If he had been doing it for money, maybe after a particularly arduous trip he would have given up – not worth the money. Chris finished his quest because it was personally fulfilling. Figure out what is motivating your dream – make sure it’s something internal.

Map it out.

I’m a big believer in the power of planning. Especially when you have a huge goal ahead of you, it’s so helpful to map out all the little steps that will lead to your goal. Once you have the smaller steps that lead into your quest, you can figure things out time-wise. It’s easy to let years and years slip by, putting your goals off because you’ll do it someday. If you know exactly what the next step is, you can hold yourself accountable. 

Make sacrifices.

Any good quest or goal comes with sacrifices. We can’t have it all. If your dream is to travel full-time (I hear ya), you may have to sacrifice spending time with your family or most of your material possessions. On a simpler level, if your goal is to get a 4.0 in university, you’re going to have to miss a few parties and spend a lot of time studying. Make sure you’re willing to give things up – that means your quest is really important to you. 

Add inspiration to your life.

Every morning, the first thing I do is open Instagram and see what I missed overnight. I follow a ton of travellers and various people around the world, so my feed is being updated all night. Seeing the amazing things that others are doing motivates me to get out of bed and start my day by working towards my goals. There are so many other ways to add inspiration to your life – let me know if you want a post with my ideas! I absolutely love popping some inspiration into the busy parts of my day.

 Having a big, scary goal, or a quest, is one of the best ways to make your life feel more meaningful. I hope you found these tips on how to achieve your dreams helpful – I’d love to hear about your goals!

I received a copy of The Happiness of Pursuit for review purposes, but was in no way compensated for this review.

Tips for Long Distance Best Friends

A lot of travelers have long distance best friends all across the world, and it can be hard to make sure you stay in touch and maintain your relationship with these people. One of my best friends lives across the country in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and we think we’ve gotten pretty good at being long-distance best friends – even on a budget! We’ve seen each other seven times since we met, and we only paid for two of those trips.

Sunjita and I met in May 2012, in Toronto when we both won the same scholarship and were flown there to speak at a gala. It was a crazy experience, and we bonded within minutes!

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This is us right before our big moment at the gala! We evidently stayed in touch and promised  to meet up again.

Here are our five tips for how to stay in touch as long distance best friends:

1. Use conferences and competitions to your advantage

We have been really successful with this strategy! The summer after we met, Sunjita and I were both selected to attend a conference (all expenses paid) in Halifax, my hometown. We realized that Sunjita could just ask to be flown in earlier, so we got to spend 3 or 4 extra days together at no extra cost to either of us. We also got to see each other quite a bit at the conference!

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Since that plan worked out so well for us, we’ve done this a few more times. We were both selected for another conference in Muskoka, Ontario last summer and we made sure to spend time together a lot before and during this event.

Finally, this summer, I had to fly to Calgary for a competition. Since Saskatoon is on my way, I flew there first before leaving for Calgary a few days later. I was able to do this at little extra cost. This trip was already great enough, and then we got to see each other a few days later! We had worked on a case competition together a few weeks earlier, which was very cool since we had to create a video across the country from eachother. Two finalists were flown to Calgary to compete for the top prize, and we were chosen as one of these teams! This meant that I could just stay in Calgary a bit longer and Sunjita would be flown out to where I was.

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Especially if you’re both in the same industry or educational program, this is an amazing strategy to see your long distance best friends without breaking the bank!

2. Get the same job

This one probably won’t work for most people, but it has for us! Remember that conference in Muskoka that I mentioned? That was a recruitment conference for Deloitte, a huge accounting firm. We both secured jobs at the firm this summer, although in different fields. Our work has an internal communication system, so we can chat easily while we’re at work! It’s great to talk about what’s going on in our separate offices and help eachother with more complicated jobs. We’ve even been assigned to work on the same project, so we have weekly calls.

3. Save money for trips to see each other

This one is pretty obvious, but we do have an even better way to make it work! Exactly a year after we met, we both flew to Toronto to attend the same gala as the previous year, but this time we both had to pay.
This was great, but turned out to be pretty expensive with hotels and food. The next time, I flew to Saskatoon for a week and my only real expenses were flights! I stayed at Sunjita’s house (and ate her parents’ food) and we even got to go to Banff with her family.

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We also planned an incredible trip to New York City for my 19th birthday, which was wonderful!

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Even though it might be more exciting to fly somewhere together, we recommend visiting eachother’s hometowns! One of you can play tour guide, and it’s so much cheaper.

4. Set specific times to Skype

At the beginning of our friendship, we’d say we were going to Skype or Facetime and never actually follow through. Especially during the school year, we were both so busy that we’d always put it off! This year, we decided to treat Skyping just like a class or meeting – something that goes in our planners and that we have to follow through on. It worked like a charm – we video-chatted  almost every week!

5. Study dates

Since we’re both studying business, in our first two years we had a lot of similar classes, like economics, intro to accounting, etc. Some of our classes even had the same textbooks! During our weekly Skype sessions, we often studied together, or quizzed each other for upcoming tests. This worked really well since we were being productive while ‘hanging out’!

Do you have long distance best friends? How do you stay in touch?