COM0014 – Blog #2: I shoot people for a living, and I brag about it.

 

Following a VIP in Ma’Sum Ghar, Afghanistan, in 2010. Photo by a friend.

I bet the picture with me and a camera de-fused that violent image you initially had in your head. That is the power of images.

It is my job as a photojournalist to tell stories. My story is simple. My assignments as a photographer take me anywhere and everywhere, therefore allowing to share what I experience along the way. I also have other passions like trail running, martial arts and traveling. On my blog, I want to portray myself as an accessible person who likes to share his adventures and challenges, that’s why I write in first person. I try my best to remain positive and prefer experience to opinions.

Covering the RCMP Sunset ceremonies in Ottawa, 2015. Photo by Rick Millette.

Luckily photography is a medium that is easy to share. They tell a story or show something in a way that is a lot easier than having to explain it; hence the cliché quote: “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

My intent is not to teach nor speak about the science behind photography, or at least not really in depth. There are plenty of people that do that very well in YouTube already. I try to keep it simple, and just give a bit more details about the photographs. I tell my story, very much like a journal, or a conversation I would have with my friends. It also serves the purpose of building credibility to the people who might be interested in hiring me down the road, allowing them to get to know me better before they make that first contact.

Would you allow me to shoot you now?

 

Documenting the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, France. Photo by my boss.

 

COM0014- Blog 1: Vacation in a city where you have problem communicating

I am not much into travelling as I am more of a stay at home person, who enjoys comforts of home and tunes away from entire world during my vacation. However, two years ago I went to Shenyang in China for three weeks for a teaching assignment. It was an interesting experience to be in city where barely someone could speak English. Have you ever had that experience? How did you cope with that?

img_0327.jpgShenyang, is located in the central part of Liaoning Province, is a beautiful city with clear air and natural scenery. This city bordered by the Liaodong Peninsula on south side and Changbai Mountains on north side belongs to Bohai economic circle. It is a relatively small city in comparison with China with population of 8.29 million (https://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/liaoning/shenyang/)

I wouldn’t lie, for the first week, it was bit nerve wrecking to go out on own without fear of getting lost and unable to ask for directions as no one would understand. I was hesitant in going out as even hotel staff could barely speak English. The Shenyang city does not see many foreigners and every time I would approach someone with a smile gesture or hello, they would run away!  IMG_0318

Finally, I came with an idea of using a translator app and I had a screen shot of translating so I could show the taxi driver and locals of which hotel I was staying. Another interesting experience I had was that no social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram) or Google worked in china. Can you imagine your life without Google considering how much we depend on Google for information? 

 

IMG_0378Beside teaching, I had evenings and weekends to stroll around the city. While strolling, I was surprised to see how active the senior population of this city was. Every day and at every few blocks, they would do square dancing, and anyone could join. I joined two groups on two separate occasions, and it was a lot of fun. What a creative idea to get socially and physically stimulated.

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Have you ever crossed a road that is full of busses, cars and no one is letting you cross? How would you cross? Well, that is how roads are crossed in China. Group of people get together on one side of road and then they all start crossing the roads at same time forcing cars to stop. It was scary!

img_0391.jpgImagine ordering food from a menu that is all in their native language and you are unsure what to order. When I would walk to a restaurant to eat, I would look a menu and see if they had pictures as I am a picky eater and cannot try everything! Eating out is very popular in China as food was cheap and fresh at same time. My favorite place was a small noodle restaurant that was operated by a husband and wife and they would even make fresh noodles. At one restaurant, another patron even bought some beer for us as we were foreigners visiting his city and he decided to welcome us. Isn’t that sweet?

When I reflect my experience of being in a new country, it was bit scary but an interesting one and I would do this all over again.

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Social Media and The Insta-Traveller

Balcony view at Outrigger Reef
Waikiki Beach
Christine Harper / Flickr

Scrolling through Chris Burkard’s awe inspiring instagram feed has me ready to pack my bags in search of a pristine glacial lake, a rolling wave, or a sunrise over the peak of a mountaintop. With over 3 million followers on his Instagram, it’s clear that I’m not alone in my Burkard fandom. Instagram (and other social media sites) are changing the way people travel by being a source of inspiration, information, as well as a creative outlet to share their travelling experiences with others.

The Insta-Influence – Digital Research

The link to mobile use and travel starts well before the booking process even begins. Users are logging into social media sites like Instagram to get inspiration on where to go, and what to do when they get there. 1/3 of US travellers currently look to social media when considering a trip, and 40% of travellers in the UK take into consideration how “instagrammable” a potential getaway is. 80% of all instagram users are outside of the US, which highlights the global reach that the tourism industry has via the social media site.

The Insta-Vacation – Digital Postcards

Some vacations have users logging off of their mobile devices, but many are choosing to stay connected to share their experiences with others. Up to 90% of young travellers share their photos on social media while on vacation! 

The Insta-Recap – Digital Memories

When the vacation ends, the digital memories live on. The photos shared on Instagram are an endless stream of content that helps shape and influence future travel for not only themselves, but for the other 500 million daily instagram users.

How does social media inspire your travels?

When you travel, do you stay connected, or do you prefer to log off? I have definitely used Instagram and other social media sites for trip planning, and I enjoy a healthy balance of being both logged in/logged off. One thing I would never travel without is my camera, so my logged off memories can always be shared at a later time. 

Social Media Blog Promo Example (Facebook/Twitter)

References

Chris Burkard. Lake Moraine. Instagram, August 19, 2016, http://www.instagram.com/p/BJTVO1cApIM.

Gigante, Michael Del. “Vacationing the Social Media Way [Infographic].” MDG Advertising, 28 Sept. 2018, http://www.mdgadvertising.com/marketing-insights/infographics/vacationing-the-social-media-way-infographic/.

“How Instagram Has Taken Over Tourism Marketing.” The Pixlee Blog, 2 May 2017, http://www.pixlee.com/blog/how-instagram-has-taken-over-tourism-marketing/. 

Salman.aslam.mughal. “• Instagram by the Numbers (2019): Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts.” • Instagram by the Numbers (2019): Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts, 6 Jan. 2019, http://www.omnicoreagency.com/instagram-statistics/. 

Motorcycle Diaries

Motorcycle Diaries

They say you should do something every day that scares you… Well I don’t know about every day, but now and then it’s probably a good idea – especially as you get older, and getting out of your comfort zone is more difficult.

With kids out of the house and generally more time on my hands, I did something this summer I have been wanting to do for a while: I got my motorcycle license! It has been one of those kinda scary/kinda exciting things you do more easily as a young person, but here goes!

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My husband’s motorcycle has a new buddy!

 

So the idea is to take the bikes on a trip in the American South West – starting in Las Vegas. My husband has trailered them down already, so that we can fly down this winter and drive them back. Once I started researching the trip, I was excited to find out that this is one of the most beautiful areas to bike through, and that a whole lot of other people have already discovered this too. I found a website in the US called motorcycleroads.com  that is kind of a social media platform for people who LOVE to ride.

Members can log in and propose a route they found particularly beautiful or challenging, citing road conditions, things to see on the way and even restaurants and hotels. When I plan this trip, I simply indicate which state I will be travelling in, and then I click the route I’d like to take to get the details. Kind of like TripAdvisor for motorcyclists…

 

I have travelled a lot over the years, and I am always amazed at the things people create to create a community while they are on the road. Hikers have them, people who ride bicycles have them, they are everywhere!

So. If you’ve had a unique experience planning travel that you’d like to share? Or maybe you’ve travelled somewhere in a unique way? I want to hear about it, so go ahead and share!


Share this:

Facebook: Share your travel stories: http://bit.ly/2AyNZwx

Twitter: Happy Trails – Unique travel stories http://bit.ly/2AyNZwx

 

COM0014: Blog #1 – West Coasting

I am, by nature, a homebody. I fought against my nature through most of my twenties; “Yeah, I’ll go to the bar with you on a Tuesday night!”… “Ultimate Frisbee three times a week? Why not!”… “I’ll sleep when I’m dead! Carpe Diem, amirite?” But now that I’m in my thirties I have embraced my spirit animal – the hermit crab. I’m really, really good at not leaving the house; as comedian John Mulaney said, “in terms of, like, instant relief, cancelling plans is like heroin”. It’s true, non?

That said, from time to time I do still get antsy to get out and see the world. So, back in April I flew out to British Columbia to see my brother for his birthday, and join him and a couple of his friends on what would be his farewell tour of the province, as he had decided to move back to Ontario.

Over the course of that five day trip, we covered quite a bit of ground: Vancouver, Protection Island, and Tofino. This was my third time in Vancouver, so I had a few favourite things I wanted to do while I was there: a walk along the seawall, sushi at The Eatery with its glow-in-the-dark décor, and karaoke night at Darby’s Pub. After ticking all three of these off my list in the first day, five of us and one big dog packed up in a Mercedes cargo van (a van that was outfitted with a bed and tiny, tiny kitchen, and was actually home to one of the friends and the dog), and headed off to Protection Island.

In the van

On the road in our tricked-out van.

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Waiting for the ferry to Nanaimo

Protection Island is a VERY small island located about a kilometre off of Nanaimo. To get there, we had to drive, ferry, leave the van in Nanaimo, and then ferry again.

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Welcome to Protection Island

And it was so worth it. The place looks like it was built by Peter Pan and the Lost Boys; most of the houses seemed to have incorporated salvaged material into their build, the streets all had names like “Treasure Trail” and “Captain Morgan Lane”, and it was populated by aging hippies driving around in golf carts (no cars allowed on the island). In other words, it was the best. That night we partook of a pint at the island’s one pub, and then stayed the in one of these magical houses.

The following day we continued our trek to Tofino for two days of camping and surfing. Or, rather, a futile attempt at surfing on my part. It turns out that when it’s cold…and pouring rain…and you’ve never had lessons…and you have zero core strength…staying on the surf board isn’t going to happen. But when you follow that humiliation with a stop at the Tofino Brewing Company, all is right with the world again. Oh yeah, and the scenery isn’t half bad, if snow-capped mountains and ancient, quiet, pine groves are your thing (they’re my thing).

Cathedral Grove

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Cox Beach

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Flights at the Tofino Brewing Company

It was an exhausting and exhilarating few days, and I’m so glad that I went and got to experience it all with my brother, whom I’d been missing so very much. And I was definitely happy to return to my little cocoon when I got back to Ottawa.

What do you think? If you had five days in BC, what would be on your must-do list?

COM0014: Blog #5 – Independent and proud of it.

I’m independent. My mother has been telling me that since I was 10 years old. It felt like a compliment then, although I wasn’t sure. Now I’m confident that it was. So today when people tell me that, I just smile and say, “I know.”

My independent streak has what’s allowed me to book a flight to Europe and head out on my own, just me and my backpack. It’s what’s allowed me to travel the way I want and see the things I’ve always wanted to. What’s allowed me to sit alone in a cafe and people-watch, or spend a whole day at the Louvre when most people are breezing past the most famous works. Or eat a whole box of Ladurée macrons on my own.

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Who would really want to share, anyway?

I love not being dependent on anyone to do the things I want to do. I’m happy that I don’t have to rely on anyone else’s schedule to travel the world.

Not that it hasn’t gotten me into trouble. Because independence often goes with pride, and pride leads to not asking for help when you need it. Like asking for directions. Or asking which train is headed to Antwerp and which is headed to Amsterdam.

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Don’t worry, I made it to Amsterdam.

But independence is freedom. People often think independence means wanting to be alone, but it doesn’t. It means being comfortable with yourself when you are. And I’ve learned how to do that…and how to do that on a different continent.

People all use different words to describe me: dry and witty, quiet and shy, smart and capable. But the common adjective is always “independent.” And I’m definitely proud of that.

All pictures are mine.

COM0014: Blog #3 – Traveling solo (+ your social media accounts)

Solo travel may seem like something that you do, well…solo. But that’s not really the case. Female solo travelers, in particular, are drawn to communities where they can share tips and gain insights from another woman’s experience. There’s no doubt that men travel alone too, but often nobody bats an eye at the guy travelling by himself. Women need the community to ensure there’s nothing “wrong” or “strange” about what they’re doing.

Female solo adventurers fall into two categories: those who have traveled by themselves and those who are working up their courage to start. Often young, but sometimes retired, they all share an incurable condition: wanderlust.

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The number of women who choose to travel solo is on the rise

Social media is also vital to them. When I travel I use it not only to document my journey but as a means of communication. When I add my location to a Facebook post and Instagram my latest photos, my mom – 9 time zones away – can see that I’m still alive and having fun.

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A phone and social media accounts can be a lifeline for a solo traveler

Communicating with people back home is important, but so is communicating with people who may be closer or who may have some advice to share. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs by female solo travelers that provide tips and advice to like-minded voyagers. These communities are invaluable, because they often address problems that regular travel sites may not.

Hotel reviews written by men, families, or couples may not acknowledge the specific questions that women consider when travelling alone: is the neighbourhood well-lit at night? Will I be safe walking by myself? Mainstream sites do not offer specialized information for this growing demographic. But those who devote a social media strategy to reaching them will surely reap the benefits. Because women seem increasingly intent on seeing the world – likely in preparation to take it over.

All photos courtesy of stocksnap.io

Using Social Media to Make the Most of Your Travels

You’ve been bitten by the travel bug and the need to travel has set in; you simply can’t satisfy the urge to see the world – every bit of it. Whether you’re travelling near or far; a seasoned traveller or setting off on your first trip outside the country, you can’t deny it: social media has become a huge part of everyday life, including when we travel. This is a great thing for savvy travellers who are looking to get off the beaten path and just enjoy what the world has to offer! It’s easier than ever to research and book amazing holidays all thanks to technology. In this post, I’m going to shed some light on a few of the ways in which you can use social media to take your travel to new heights (plane pun intended).

Aside from the obvious benefits of being able to document your travels by creating Facebook photo albums, instantly instagramming your favourite photos, and staying connected with friends and family, social media can act as your personal travel agent and tour guide!

Don’t be put off by the thought of being connected throughout your holiday if you are a traveller seeking an all-inclusive holiday where a break from your phone is part of the package deal, there are plenty of ways you can use social media BEFORE you travel that can be a huge advantage to planning the trip of a lifetime. Even if you are seeking a total break from technology on your holiday, sneaking a peak at social media doesn’t necessarily mean answering work emails, spoilers to your favourite TV shows you’re missing at home, or getting involved in the latest Facebook drama: it can mean hugely benefiting your travels!

Travel Inspiration

If you’re anything like me, even the smallest things can inspire you to get out there and see the world! Travel inspiration is everywhere and social media can be one of the best, fastest, and cheapest ways to find it!

Travel Blogs

One of my favourite ways to get ideas is to follow and interact with travel bloggers. Travel bloggers write tips and experiences from their own travels, accompanied by beautiful photos, to tell you the ins and outs of your dream destination.

Some of my favourite blogs to check out:

No Destinations – This blog is a luxury travel blog that can be great for garnering inspiration. The blog is run by nomadic couple, Chris and Danika, who quit their job and sold their belongings in March 2014 to pursue travelling full time. They have detailed posts with gorgeous pictures and are a totally swoon-inducing couple. This blog is great if you are looking to treat yo’ self and indulge in a luxury vacation… but for the backpacker or the diva on a dime, a few switches in accommodation can mean experiencing basically the same things for a fraction of the price. Check out their blog: http://www.nodestinations.com/

 

Nomadic Matt – At the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s Nomadic Matt. Matt is so passionate about saving money when travelling that he even wrote a book about it (How to Travel the World on $50 a day) so you KNOW he knows

One can easily see where this picture was taken by noting the geotag on the top left. Clicking this tag will allow you to search more photos taken here.

what he’s talking about. This is a great blog to check out if you want to see amazing travel destinations that you know you will be able to afford, even on a shoestring budget. Check out Matt’s blog: https://www.nomadicmatt.com/

 

 

Using Geotags

My favourite social media platform of all time is Instagram and it can be a really helpful tool when planning a holiday, especially if you are a visual person. Maybe you’ve seen a friend, acquaintance, or even a celebrity post a photo on Instagram featuring the whitest sand you’ve ever seen, the coolest looking hotel, or the most mouth-watering spread of food you’ve ever laid eyes on. There’s a really easy way to find out where they were when they took the photo and that is geotagging. Geotagging means that a person can label a photo with the exact location of the restaurant, beach, shop, wherever it is that they may be! You can click the little blue link above the photo to find out where in the world they were when they snapped the photo and add it to your ever growing travel bucket list.

By searching the place in the explore feature, one can see lots of posts made by other Instagram users in that location.

You can also use geotags if you already know where you’re going on holiday. Pop over to the explore menu on the Instagram app and type in the location you are planning to go to (i.e. Disneyland or San Antonio, Texas). You’ll be able to scroll through thousands of photos tagged in that location to get the low down on the must do’s before setting off! You can also use geotags while on holiday to find cool places to check out and the best places to eat.

Pinterest for Travel


Using Pinterest for travel is basically a combination of reading blogs and using geotags with the added benefit of being able to keep it all organised in one location. Simply type your destination into the search bar and get pinning! You can even create secret boards that no one else can see unless you invite them to contribute. This can be really useful for friends travelling together because everyone can pin things that they are interested in and share them with the group without you having to receive 500 messages an hour from your group chat!

Using Pinterest for travel can also be great because you can compile the amazing things you find from many sites onto one convenient board by copying and pasting a link to a really useful blog post into Pinterest and creating the pin yourself.

Networking
One of the greatest ways to use social media before and during your travels is by connecting with fellow travellers and locals alike on Facebook groups that connect you by similar interests. This tip was super helpful to me when I moved abroad. A quick search on Facebook will uncover the perfect group for you. I joined Sydney Au pairs, Australia backpackers, and Backpackers in Sydney before making the move down under to get some tips. Once I arrived, I was able to use these groups to connect with other expats living in Sydney and made heaps of friends this way!

Some of my other favourite groups for networking:

Girls LOVE Travel (GLT) – This Facebook group is a “global community of active and aspiring female travellers providing resources and empowerment to one another through safety, socialising, and support” and, with over 300,000 members, is a great place to find inspiration and ask your most burning travel related questions. It’s also a good way to connect and perhaps meet up with other people travelling in the place you are in and even with locals. The group also boasts many subgroups for finding people with more specific shared interests!

Fat Girls Traveling – FGT is similar to GLT but catered to a more specific group of travellers. This group aims to “be a voice for the curvy, plus size, FAT female traveller leaving shame and stigma behind” and is a great place for travel tips as well as encouraging words.

Dating Apps- Hear me out: with proper safety and discretion in place, apps like Tinder and Bumble can be great places to get chatting with locals to get to know the city you’re in! Bumble has the added benefit of a “BFF” tool which allows you to bypass the awkward “soo… what are you looking for on here?” questions and find other people seeking out just friends. No one knows the city or country like a local does, so this is an ideal tool for people who want to take in the real culture of a place, not just the ramped up, sugar coated, tourist version!

There you have it, a few of my favourite ways to make the most of my travel by using social media. Social media and technology has been an awesome upgrade on old fashioned travel and I encourage you to try a few of these tips out to maximize your vacation!

Do you use social media when travelling? Let me know in the poll and comment down below how you use social media to make the most of your vacation!

Planning a vacation? Check out these ways that Social Media can make this your best holiday ever!

 Is Social Media the best tool to plan your vacation? Check out this post to find out!

An Experiment in Punishment

An Experiment in Punishment

When a company does you wrong, do they deserve some form of punishment, or you, some form of retribution? Well, an apology at least?; we’re not expecting jail time. But a company recently ‘done me wrong.’ Now, I realize that this is probably one of the most privileged problems I have ever had to deal with, but, I essentially lost more than $500 (CAD) in one day because of an Icelandic bus company.

So, here’s the story.

I went to Iceland for a work conference last week; on the future of technology and education, the evolution of A.I., and possible dystopian outcomes. Interesting stuff! But I decided to stay an extra day after the conference because… Iceland. So the extra day was to be on my dime. When I arrived five days earlier, I got into the city, Reykjavik, by signing onto a round trip deal with a bus company at the airport, since the airport was roughly 45 minutes from the city. The bus would take you directly to your hotel, and then pick you up and take you back to the airport at the end of your trip; but, you must contact and schedule the pick-up a day in advance.

Seems fair enough. And, it was fairly expensive on its own: I spent roughly 4,000 Icelandic Krona (ISK), or, more than $50.00 CAD for the round-trip with the company, Reykjavik Excursions, and specifically their FLyBus (airport transport) network. Getting into the city was more or less fine, and Iceland was quite amazing, but, it was a fair bit colder than Toronto, and I was still in denial about Toronto weather, being June and everything. So, I wore a jacket, but didn’t even bring a toque (I likely should have, however).

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It was a beautiful country.

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And Reykjavik was a wonderful little city.

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With very clear street signs.

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And the sun, literally, never set.

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12:30 a.m.

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3:30 a.m.

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4:15 a.m.

But, as I said, it was also very expensive. This beer cost 1.100 Krona (ISK), or, converted to Canadian dollars: $14.56!

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But I still loved being there.

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I am very happy. You can tell by the muted expression of emotion through facial cues and social norms.

As I am sure you can tell, I was also utilizing social media for much of the journey. In particular, posting on Instagram and Facebook.

So I learned a lot, slept a little, made some friends, had some fun, explored a bit, and had a great experience with Iceland and its people.

But, as requested, the day before I was to leave, I ensured that the FlyBus return trip to the airport was booked. So at 9 a.m. the day before I left, I asked a hotel employee if he could book the trip for noon the following day, which he promptly did (the two employees at this ‘hotel’ – really, a little apartment complex, Rey Apartments – were great and always helpful).

Noon the next day seemed reasonable. My flight was to take off at 3:20 p.m. the following day. A noon pick up would have me at the airport roughly between 12:45 and 1 p.m., giving me over two hours to safely get to my plane.

But… it was 12:40 p.m., and the bus had yet to show, and I was a little more than tired and hungover. The hotel employee called the bus company for me, and ultimately found out that they simply ‘forgot’, or did not take note when he made the appointment the previous day. So he got me booked on the following bus, which would pick me up between 1 and 1:30 p.m. It showed up around 1:20, and I didn’t get to the airport for roughly an hour. It was packed. And by the time I got to the check-in, the employee told me that I had missed the check-in time, and that he was sorry, but all I could do was to book another flight. WoW Air, which provides cheap flights between Europe, Iceland and Canada (and vice versa), doesn’t have much in the way of compensation.

There wasn’t another flight to Toronto until the next day, at the same time. That put me back $425.00 (CAD), or 31,183.40 ISK. But because the flight was the next day, I had to find a place to sleep. So I looked up what was close to the airport. The cheapest place I could find was a hostel-like complex of 121 rooms, Base Hotel, housed in a former NATO base used by the US Navy and Air Force.

This put me back another $55 (CAN) or 4,035.50 ISK. Unfortunately, because I had to purchase another plane ticket, my credit card went over the limit and I had to struggle  to even pay for my hotel room. But I sorted the situation out, with a little help from my family 5,600 km away in Vancouver, Canada. I spent the night in anticipation of my flight the following day, and relaxed with what the hotel claims is “Iceland’s cheapest beer,” which, as far as my own experience went, was accurate.

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And so the next day, I got to the airport five hours early, before the airline even had its check-in open. I was determined to not let any time constraints get in the way of me flying back to Toronto. I was already losing a work day due to the travel, and would have to make up that time throughout the rest of the week. But I got on the plane, and all seemed well. But then I looked at the seat in front of me…

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“Fast, frequent & on schedule!”?

Interesting interpretations of time and space.

However, “no rush”, I believe.

Still, I was nervous, seeing that in front of me; it was not a good omen for the chances of the plane reaching its destination with me on it. It made me question whether or not I was actually on the right plane, was it going to the right city, was I actually going to make it, or… do I even exist?

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But… I made it, and in fact, we landed in Toronto about 40 minutes ahead of schedule. I got home, and now I was angry with how much it cost me for that one extra day, due to the actions of a bus company that failed to live up to the promises of its paid services.

The day it happened, I was too tired and frustrated and angry to deal with human beings. And I thought to myself, now that I am learning and utilizing social media so much, and notably on this trip, why not attempt to use it to make a complaint. If I went up and complained one-on-one, perhaps they would reimburse me for my roundtrip ticket with their company, but that was less than 10% of the financial cost of their mistake.

I’ve been reading about how companies with strong and relevant social media presences deal with crises and customer complaints online. The first rule is to never delete a post or complaint (unless it violates certain posting rules, is bigoted, racist, etc). But successful companies will address the complaint, and quickly. They will do so publicly, and also  privately contact the customer seeking to alleviate and address the problem however they can. The hope would be to try to turn around a customer, and transform a potential PR issue into an advertising opportunity.

So I posted a negative review on their Facebook page:

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I also Tweeted to them (and provided a bit.ly link to my Facebook post, since Twitter doesn’t allow for a lengthy explanation):

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Two days later, have I heard anything?

Not. A. Peep.

Well, except from other customers who interacted with me and posted similar stories of their own.

And to be honest, it was a far more expensive ordeal for others than it was for me!

But one thing is clear, Reykjavik Excursions has a poor management strategy for social media. So, I can either accept that they will not address my complaint via social media, let alone apologize, try to contact them directly by phone or email, or, I can try to convince you people who read this to help me make them pay attention to their social media presence, or, at least try to!

Think of it as an experiment in social media… punishment? Retribution? Justice? Choose your term, it’s an experiment in social media power, or at least, an early attempt at exercising some prowess with it. A challenge, perhaps!

Consider engaging with my Facebook post on their page, or Tweet to them here. Because of Facebook’s algorithm, posts that are more engaging, with comments, likes, shares and other reactions, will be more likely to be seen by others, and then engaged further.

So, consider helping me with this experiment, and let’s see if it yields any results!

Thank you so much in advance!

And solidarity, fellow social media students.

 

Decorating on a Budget: 4 Tips and Tricks Pinterest Taught Me

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It’s a challenge we all face at some point in our lives: making our place of residence feel like home on a tight budget. For me, that reality hit during the fourth and final year of my degree. I was moving out of the three bedroom apartment I had lived in with roommates for two years and into a bachelor apartment alone with little funds to decorate or spruce it up. Needless to say, with beige walls, beige cabinets and parquet flooring the unit didn’t exactly scream personality or feel like home.

About a year prior to the move, I had discovered Pinterest; oh boy, did that get me into trouble. Upon entering the apartment, I began to fantasize about what furniture would look great, how artwork would complement the space and create great focal features. I knew I needed to do something or I would go crazy living there for the next 8 months. I turned to my blogger friends I had found on Pinterest in order to make my student living a personal space I could call home. Here are some of the tips and ideas I came up with.

1. Make What’s Old New Again

I was no stranger to altering something to personalize it. However this was an idea reinforced by numerous Do It Youselfers.

chair-originalWalking down the street one day I came across a set of old patio chairs ready to go to the dump. The seat cushions were ripped and stained, the feet were missing half of their plastic covers, but I didn’t care. I saw potential. Potential for these chairs to become something one might see in a French café lining the streets of Paris. I knew that reupholstering these chairs would be far less expensive than going out and buying a new set, and I already had a table so I had nothing to lose. After selecting the fabric I wanted to use I got to work. Removing the old fabric, thoroughly cleaning the foam cushions, bleaching the wooden seat bases. I thought the tough part was over with… WRONG! Ladies, if you need a good arm workout, nothing works better than trying to use a staple gun to attach fabric to a piece of ply wood. I made it through the agonizing fight without any bloodshed (thankfully! few!) and am quite proud of the finished product. chair-reupholstered

I had a boring cabinet that was now the first thing you saw when you walked into the apartment, but was necessary because the apartment had limited storage. I turned to Pinterest to find a way to refinish the laminate brown woodgrain and wasn’t disappointed. I found a post by Terry M. of Forever Decorating who had a featured post on Home Talk, a house and home blog. She had refinished a dresser using book pages and mod podge. The idea of ripping up a book for decorating did seem appalling considering how much I love my books but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense for the space. I went to the Goodwill around the corner from my apartment in Toronto’s west end and picked up an old book that was falling apart and took to shredding the pages in order to make this ugly cabinet a one of a kind piece of art. A collaged the two doors to the cabinet with the paper books and painted the sides and interior in a glossy black.

To read about the inspiration, click here.

2. Find What You Can At Thrift Stores

I had an empty space in my apartment where I had a few chairs setup which I dubbed my reading nook, however it was missing something, either a side table or small bookcase to store my “to be read” books and place my cup of tea on while I read. All the articles I’d read about finding inexpensive furnishings were lost on me. I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to find anything but made my wreading-nookay to the Goodwill once again and came across a small bookcase that was priced at only $5. I couldn’t believe it. I also found a set of glass customizable coasters and a few picture frames.

I took all this home and the book case fit perfectly in between the two chairs. I filled the frames and coasters with pictures from a few of my trips and the reading nook was complete.

Thrift shopping is something I had read countless times on blogs but had never put into practice. I’m sure glad I decided to have a look at the thrift store. I think my little reading nook looked great!

3. Use The Souvenirs Cluttering Your Closet

I have quite the collection a travel souvenirs cluttering up my closet and drawers from the various trips I’ve taken; boarding passes, show tickets, museum tickets, postcards and keychains, miniature landmarks and themed picture frames. I turned to Pinterest to find something to do with my momentos.  I came across a post on Popsugar: 17 Ideas to Organize and Display Your Travel Souvenirs. I loved everything they had suggested but my favourite was by far the momento shadow boxes as pictured here: 

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Image source: Design Aglow via Popsugar.

I took to creating my own version of these shadow boxes. I purchased inexpensive frames from the dollar store and created the backgrounds with the city names using Photoshop and pictures I had taken in the featured city. I then gathered the souvenirs from each of the cities and laid them out esthetically within the frame.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Creative

paper-butterfliesAs every Pinterest addict knows, there are thousands of DIY blogs out there from home renos, to clothing, to decor and furniture. I had left over book pages from my mod podge cabinet collage and decided to get creative myself.

Paper flowers.jpgI got to work cutting out butterfly shapes in different sizes and glued them to a canvas I had painted black in order to create the fluttering butterfly piece pictured here.

With the remaining pages I created paper roses. It took a long time and was quite meticulous curling each petal and shaping it to replicate a blooming rose. Not only was the work tough but my fingers were constantly a victim to burns due to the hot glue gun, however I created the below finished product.

There they are, the tips and tricks I picked up from Pinterest on decorating on a budget. I have read hundreds, maybe even thousands of blog posts not only on decorating but for recipes, healthy habits and exercise and so much more. Pinterest opened up my world to so many sources of information out there I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. What inspiration will you find on the famous pinning site?

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Are you a student low on funds but want to decorate your temporary apartment? Here are 4 tips and tricks I learned from Pinterest about decorating on a budget. http://bit.ly/2kb3O0Dapartment-text