Wanderlust – Travel Blogging 101

I’m sorry to say, but that dog-eared copy of Frommer’s England ’91 on $50 a Day that your parents have gathering dust on the bookshelf just doesn’t cut it anymore. Lucky for you and thanks to the internet, a quick Google search of any destination will provide a plethora of options and itineraries to suit any travel appetite or budget.

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Image via Abe Books


Welcome to the world of travel blogging

The world is your oyster, so to speak. It is so easy, thanks to a few strokes of your keyboard, to find your real-life version of ‘choose your own adventure’. You can find tips, tricks and experiences you can only dream about. Ever want to swim with the dolphins while you snorkel in Costa Rica? There’s probably someone out there who has done it! Ride a camel in the Sahara desert as part of your month-long vacation in Morocco? There’s a custom tour for that!

In 2015 Garrett Gee, then a student and soccer player at university, sold his mobile scanning app to social media giant Snapchat for $54 million, leaving him and his partner Jessica wondering what to do next.

“A new house and cars didn’t feel right,” he told PEOPLE at the time. “We didn’t need that stuff. We were young, healthy and really didn’t need much of anything. So we started joking about putting our money in savings, selling everything and using those funds to travel the world. As we began to add more plans to our bucket list, it just became real.”

Though most people don’t make millions so early in their careers, Garrett and Jessica quickly turned their joy for travel into a business of their own.

Travel blogging 2.0 – ‘The Bucket List Family’

My father is from a small island in the Mediterranean, Malta. Not many people know it’s a country onto itself, let alone a region rich in history dating back to 4000 B.C. So when I was spending time on Instagram one day and I came across The Bucket List Family visits Malta, I was intrigued. That’s how I first learned of their little family, their trips and their many adventures still yet to come.

 

Video by The Bucket List Family via YouTube

Of all the travel blogs I’ve visited over the years, The Bucket List Family’s is certainly at the top of my favourites list.

They’ve mastered their social media accounts, particularly their YouTube channel and Instagram accounts. For Instagram specifically, each family member has their own account, in addition to the family one:

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Image via Instagram

 

 

 

 

Their own personal brand

They have become so successful in their niche that they have been able to establish themselves as their own brand.

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Image by Garrett Gee via Dribble

You can purchase products with The Bucket List Family branding on it, you can subscribe to become part of the Bucket List Friends (which gives you exclusive access to special travel deals, top secret tips and tricks to travel) and receive invitations to friends-only expeditions. They also use their reviews of locations, hotels, accommodations and tours to sponsor their trips.

What makes their blog stand out from the crowd

The Bucket List Family have an incredible catalogue of adventures. They’ve travelled the world and have visited 65 different countries before settling on their home base in Hawaii.

Through their many posts, video blogs, journals, Instagram pictures, videos, and interviews, are highlights from their trips with their family to push themselves outside of their comfort zones.

They make videos that are interesting and purposeful, and present their stories in a very personal light.

They tell you all about how they got started.  How much it cost them to start off on their first adventure. They explain how to grow a successful social media channel and even delve into the music they use in their videos. They also share personal details such as how they keep in shape while on a trip and what it’s like to travel with kids and babies!

You name it; they have probably talked about it.

They provide recommendations for a variety of things on their travels. This includes restaurants, airports, gyms, breakfasts, inspiring movies, desserts, and quotes.

They even show you how they pack for any length of travel, with dedicated sections on their Pinterest page.

Images by The Bucket List Family via Pinterest

 

Even though they’re seasoned travelers, they’ll be the first to tell you that things aren’t always rosy on the road. They keep it real and share some of the downsides of travel. Things like waiting around in airports, sleep deprivation, long layovers, unexpected delays, travelling with a young family, and so on. They also talk about real life experiences and mishaps while travelling, like that time Jessica got stung on the face by a Portuguese man o’ war on a trip in Tonga or when Dorothy ended up in the emergency room in Thailand.

Blogging in style

The Bucket List Family’s video and photography skills are excellent. Not only do they share breathtaking photos of their destinations, but they have amazing quality video with use of different equipment both above and below water. They use drones to support their filming and they’re committed to keeping their followers up-to-date with regular posts from all of their social media accounts.

The great thing about travel blogs like The Bucket List Family as well as travel blogs in general, they’re a platform that doesn’t go out of fashion – as long as they’re current. Unlike the Frommer’s 1991 print edition I mentioned earlier, following travel blogs with current information means you’ll still be able to eat at that top-rated restaurant in Paris, even when they move locations.

The Bucket List Family also encourages their audience to reach outside their comfort zones and create their own adventures, their own bucket lists. They show how they can travel, have fun and still help others along the way.

Images by The Bucket List Family via Pinterest

 

What travel blogs do you frequent or recommend? Where are you headed on your next adventure? Please share in the comments!

 

unknown Like to travel & share your experiences? Check out the latest tips to make your blog standout https://bit.ly/2mkh6xj #wanderlust #travel #bucketlist #travelblogger #travelguide #passport

unknown-1 For the latest tips on how to start your own travel blog, check out @TheBucketListFamily & learn about how to become successful in doing (and seeing) what you love! https://bit.ly/2mkh6xj #wanderlust #travel #bucketlist #travelblogger #travelphotography #nature #photogoftheday #love #passport

 

 

8 ways to look out for false information during Canada’s 43rd election

As Canada’s 43rd election campaign gets underway and Canadians of voting eligibility age will fulfill their civic duty, I cannot help but think about how each of the main political parties will use social media as a platform to reach voters. Many of Canada’s main news organizations are already taking part in the coverage of the upcoming election on social media, in what they are calling, this ‘new battleground’.

RickMercerCdnpoli19

Fake news in 2019, Image and Tweet via Twitter Web App

The tipping point

Perhaps one of the most newsworthy election scandals in recent memory is the 2016 Presidential Election in which Donald J. Trump was elected to the topmost position in the United States. The role of the Russian government in the election interference scandal have permeated news stories since.

It has been confirmed that Russia did in fact use social media to spread misinformation and ‘fake news’, confirming certain details that favoured some candidates over the others. As outlined in a report by the Data & Society Research Institute ‘internet subcultures take advantage of the current media ecosystem to manipulate news frames, set agendas and propagate ideas’. The dark corners of the internet where hate groups and their ideologies lurk give fire to misleading and unrepresentative information to spread.

The 2016 election further cemented the notion that the impact that the media environment and social media, have to push and change the message to suit the various parties and differing agendas.

As the election campaign gets off to its start here in Canada, we cannot help but look to social media to see how much impact a similar situation could have on voters here.

Could it happen again?

A recent federal report on the results of the 2019 Alberta provincial election show that yes, it can – and probably will at some point again. This report by the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) team at Global Affairs Canada found that ‘suspicious online activity during the recent Alberta election seemed to be driven by United Conservative Party supporters, lobby groups, far-right figures and known hate groups’ – likely driven by trolls or bots.

The Guardian stated that the ‘manipulation of our media environment by foreign as well as domestic actors is now the new normal’.  Whether or not you are a traditional media user with newspapers, radio and television, or a millennial using all forms of social media, you need to take steps to be hyper-vigilant when getting information online about various political parties.

Unfortunately, telling the difference between real and fake news isn’t always fun and games.

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Fake News! A Game of Facts & Falsehoods, Image via Fake News

As we head to the polls on October 21st, make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Here are a few tips to help you get there:

  1. CBC News’ Disinformation Unit has released a new computer tool to help you distinguish fact from fiction. Learn more at this news segment on CBC Radio’s Up North with Waubgeshig Rice.
  2. Snopes is a great resource for fact-checking internet rumours.
  3. Does the domain name from the source look strange at all? Does it have any extra letters that do not normally belong? If so, it might be fake.
  4. Does the same story appear on multiple news sites? Are they reporting the same information? If so, it is probably ok.
  5. Meet with your local party representatives and ask them questions about their platforms.
  6. Can you verify from numerous reputable sources the claims that are being made about the party? Are the videos associated with specific groups or perhaps endorsed by reputable people? If they are posted or shared anonymously, then they can be spreading misinformation or even disinformation.
  7. Check yourself. Is it at all possible that your own personal biases are affecting your judgement?
  8. Visit https://www.politifact.com/ to verify political news stories – though this applies to US politics and is not so relative to the upcoming Canadian election.

It is not a stretch to think that something like this could happen in the upcoming Canadian federal election. For voters, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to determine factual from false claims as a viral videos can easily misrepresent false information. A viral video that appears on Facebook with hundreds of thousands of hits will encourage audiences to think that the information is true when it could in fact be false. Furthermore, if a post on Facebook or Twitter provokes strong emotional reactions, the sharing of that numerous times will only further cement its validity.

What about you? Have you ever proven false information that you have found online? Have you ever been swayed by something you have seen on social media? If so, please share below.

 

unknown Finding #truth in the social media election battleground can be tricky. Here are 7 tips to help you along as Canada heads to the polls. https://bit.ly/2lTsUGQ #CDNPoli #CanadaVotes #Cyberspace

unknown-1 Do you feel like you are bombarded with so much information that you can’t tell the difference between the truth and #FakeNews? You’re not alone. Cyberspace can be a wealth of information and it can lead you down the rabbit hole. Here are 7 tips to help you determine what is true and what isn’t as Canada heads to the polls this October. https://bit.ly/2lTsUGQ #CDNPoli #CanadaVotes #Cyberspace #DownTheRabbitHole

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Further reading:

https://globalnews.ca/news/5879364/social-media-bots-alberta-federal-election/

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6456/858

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/alberta-election-inauthentic-global-affairs-1.5273349

https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/fake-news-misinformation-online-1.5196865

 

Socializing in a social media world

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Meme via Meme

What is the first thing you do in the morning when your alarm goes off? What’s the last thing you do before you close your eyes each night? I would bet that it has something to do with social media. 

Whether it’s checking Twitter or Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram, you might find yourself as one of the people who check social media more than you’d like to admit. Social media has become such a large part of our lives that I would argue for many of us, it’s the first thing we look at before our feet touch the floor in the morning or we have our first coffee of the day. 

Why do we love it?

Social media is a distraction. It doesn’t take a lot of concentration and in a world where we’re bombarded with information and we’re on the go all the time, it’s an escape from our everyday reality. We can scroll mindlessly through our news feeds and keep up with acquaintances and friends we’ve acquired over our lifetime. We can find out that our best friend from elementary school just got a super rare new puppy and it’s eaten through six pairs of shoes already. Or perhaps we’ll learn that the person who sat beside you in your second-year university psychology class just started up her own doTerra essential oil business. This information is all available at our fingertips, and available with minimal effort. We feel like we’re in touch with each other, even if it is superficial.

Interacting with one another is how we learn the unwritten rules of the world. Manners, social standards, social norms. interacting in the outside world provides us feedback on how we maneuver ourselves in the social landscape.

We are more connected to each other than ever thanks to social media but we are also more disconnected from each other. I might be dating myself, but I can remember the first time someone had talked about Facebook and I was so excited to create a profile of my own and join in on one of the most popular social media platforms to-date. Our connections to these platforms mean that we can probably tell you what so-and-so ate the other day because they posted a picture of it on Instagram. On the flip side whoever, we couldn’t tell you the last time we spoke to this person on the phone, let alone face-to-face. 

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Meme via Someecards

How is the next generation learning to socialize? 

What will growing up with social media for the next generation look like? What will they learn about forming friendships, creating relationships and nurturing human interactions? 

Many of these skills are developed and reinforced in early life and in childhood. We get our social cues from others. But what happens when the interpersonal social interactions, with real life people are not there? When it’s more common to post for clicks, comments and likes than it is to have meaningful conversations about things that matter?

The popularity of social media platforms has been steadily increasing since Facebook was introduced in the public sphere in 2004. “According to experts, almost 20% of people with social media accounts cannot go more than three hours without checking them”. Are you one of them? 

For me, that’s a frightening statistic. Though I didn’t grow up with these tools so easily accessible, I still find myself having difficulty distancing myself from checking them on a regular basis. 

Finding a balance

This past summer, I took a break from social media. My Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts went dormant and I lived my life, without checking in online. It was great. I took pictures, but I didn’t post them for others to see. I wasn’t waiting by my phone to see how many likes or comments I got when I posted a photo of my son doing something cute on Instagram or Facebook. I didn’t share the video of my daughter doing a dance routine on the trampoline. 

I wasn’t obsessing, over-analyzing and comparing my life with my friends accounts, or my friends of friends accounts. Admittedly, it is difficult for me to completely eliminate social media from my life. For one thing, I work in communications and being online at work is necessary. But I can certainly develop boundaries between me on social media at work, and me on social media at home.

Though I don’t have all the answers, I think the most important thing we can do for ourselves is to be aware of our thoughts and feelings as well as with our relationships with others while using social media. We can ask ourselves the basic question – is social media adding happiness to my life? Like a lot of things in life, finding a balance between the world online and the one in real-life is key.

 

unknown Social media has changed how we communicate. What tips do you have for finding balance between being online and living life? https://bit.ly/2kp6P2s #socialmedia #TurnOffMyPhone #socialmediabreak

unknown-1 Do you feel like you need to break up with your social media accounts? We can all use a break here and there. How do you find balance between being online and living your life? Check out this latest blog post and comment below to share tips on how you disconnect https://bit.ly/2kp6P2s #socialmedia #TurnOffMyPhone #socialmediabreak

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Further reading:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314395153_Socialization_as_Media_Effect

https://adaa.org/social-media-obsession

 

Blog #1: 5 simple ways to save a few bucks this fall [COM0011]

Blog #1: 5 simple ways to save a few bucks this fall [COM0011]

When you think of resolutions, do you only think about those that we implement as we usher in another year? I’m not one for the usual hype around New Year’s resolutions since more often than not, they’re dropped off the list of priorities by the time the calendar rolls around to January 4th. Because, you know, life.

Since I don’t make resolutions that stick, I have found myself over the years, taking an inventory of my life and habits. For instance, when the seasons change or when I have another birthday, I will take a long hard look at my lifestyle and myself and balance it against my goals, or what I deem important priorities for the next few months.

Live simpler and live slower.

It’s simple. Spend less money while spending more time together. These elements are all top of mind when I think about subtle shifts I can make to my life to make it that much easier.

Over the last year, my family and I have been testing a few little money-saving hacks that I want to share with you. They are simple and pain-free and do help you keep a few extra bucks in the bank at the end of each month.

1. Rakuten [formerly EBates]:

I’ve been seeing the EBates commercial on TV for years now, and perhaps you have too. It features testimonials from real-life users claiming that you can “get money back on stuff you’re buying anyway”. I’ve seen and heard the commercial so many times in fact, I cannot recall exactly where I heard of it that first time. My interest in exploring this option was piqued when it came time to do Christmas shopping. I dislike crowds immensely and since I can get super anxious about going out of the house some days, using E-Bates from the comfort of my home allows me to find good deals, use promo codes and have everything delivered right to my door. It sounds too good to be true, but it honestly works. Quarterly, you are sent a cheque in the mail for amounts based on the cash back promotion at the time of purchase. More and more stores are being added to their platform and you can access it on your mobile, so it’s really easy.

The one downside of the app is that it sometimes takes a while for Ebates to be notified that you made a purchase, but their “where’s my cash back?” help option lets you fill in any gaps and get your earned money into your account.

Here’s my my referral link if you’d like to learn more!

2. Checkout 51:

A coworker at mine told me about this couponing app that allows you to earn money back on groceries. Every time you hit $20, the app lets you ‘cash out’ and you can put that money right back in the bank. I found that for the most part, it works well, though we do grocery shop for a family of four. Every Thursday, new discounts are added to the app, so you can go in and look for deals for things you are in need of. Shop at your usual grocery store that week, scan your receipt which shows the qualifying item and voilà! Money is added to your account. Checkout 51 works well for items like Finish, Gain, Tide, etcetera. It also provides coupons for very specific products that you might want to try that are being introduced to the market. The main thing is, if it’s on the offer list that week and you bought it, then you’re in luck.

3. Cancelling your mobile data plan:

I will start right off and say that absolutely, this may not be for everyone. I am not sure about your cell phone bill each month, but I’d wager I would be hard pressed to find anyone who spends less than $100 a month. That is, unless you cancel your data plan. Though somewhat of an adjustment at first, most places you go now have free Wifi for their patrons, so so it’s become a simple way to reduce my bill, by at least $60 a month. For me, that is.

4. A 0% annual fee credit card with bonus:

My family and I have an American Express credit card and it is used for pretty much everything –  gas, groceries, even for daycare costs. I put everything on that card on purpose, to earn Air Miles. If I shop at stores that take Air Miles and show them my Air Miles card and pay for it with my Air Miles AMEX, I get extra points! These points add up to cash, that will in turn buy things at the grocery store or the pharmacy. So why not? With no annual fee, it costs nothing to use it – unless of course you miss your bill deadline. The point is, figure out what’s important to you and find the card that fits the end goal. 

5. Auction sites:

For those of you who use Facebook regularly, you will recognize this hack. Facebook is a great space to join groups or communities for the sole purpose of purging items you no longer use, for a small profit.  Marketplace is Facebook’s very own selling portal that includes regionally-relevant things for sale, at no cost to either the buyer or seller. Kijiji, local classified and just a plain ‘ole garage sales are a great way to get rid of things you no longer use and ’Konmari’ your way to clutter-free happiness.

So, what about you? Do you know of any other money saving strategies out there? Things that are making your life a little easier? I would love to hear all about them – what you love and what you dislike about them. Please feel free to share in the comments (even with your referral link!).

 

unknown Saving money this fall is easy. Click here for some tips and tricks to get you started & you’re your money in the bank https://bit.ly/2lS5W2T #fallintosavings #lifehacks #yourewelcome

unknown-1 #ICYMI: Sure, everyone likes to save money. We’ve come up with 5 easy things you can start today to keep more of your money in the bank this fall. Let us know what you think in the comments and if you have any other tips and tricks up your sleeve!  https://bit.ly/2lS5W2T #fallintosavings #hacks #yourewelcome

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Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash