Custom travel experts Jennifer Deacon and Mercedeh Sanati in Venice
Jennifer Deacon and Mercedeh Sanati are rare creatures in the travel world: trip planners that have lived the experiences they sell. Through their Toronto company, Quench Trip Design, the pair creates custom travel packages for clients based on their own journeys. After over 30 combined years in the travel industry—and after taking four or five major trips per year—they know the destinations they recommend and are uniquely positioned to satisfy the desires and requirements of their clients. We caught up with them before they left Canada for trips to Tuscany and Morocco to ask them about their favourite spots in Canada, how to create a custom trip and what travel trends are hot right now.
Lucy Izon knows Canadian travel. She started writing about it in 1978, when she had a youth travel column in the Toronto Star. Now, having banked 35 years and thousands of kilometres, she is one of the most respected travel media figures in the country. Izon has done everything from conduct travel writing contests to write books (Izon’s Backpacker Journal, Canadian Traveller’s Trip Planner) to design staterooms on cruise ships. These days, she devotes herself to informing the world about what makes her country interesting via her popular travel website, Canadacool.com.
We chatted with her to get a taste of the fun advice and facts that have attracted more than 48,000 followers to her Twitter feed.
Cailin O’Neil has been away from her Nova Scotia home for 13 weeks so far this year—and she has about eight weeks of travel planned for the remaining months of 2012. That kind of schedule is just par for the course for the travel blogger, who has been sharing her adventures since 2009 through the writing at her three websites (The Taste of Travel, Travel Yourself, Cailin Travels) and through her web video series, Travel Yourself.
Her business is growing—she’s recently joined forces with Ocean Entertainment to bring her talents to television—so this was the perfect time to sit down with O’Neil and ask her about where she likes to go, how she got into video-making and what gear she recommends to take on the road. (more…)
Shel Zolkewich squealed with delight when she opened an envelope from the Manitoba government a few weeks ago. Inside was confirmation that she was one of the people to win the draw for elk hunting licenses this season. It meant that she and her dad could take the hunting trip they had been planning.
For Shel Zolkewich, a Manitoba travel writer who splits her time between Winnipeg and Gimli, there is no separation between her work and her personal life. She lives what she writes, and all her trips yield content for her next travel story. Her specialty is the outdoors, and for one week every month she is on the road, fishing, hunting and taking photos. Her preferred place is the north, she says, “where there are small airplanes, muddy roads and feisty northern pike.”
We caught up with Shel Zolkewich between a stint of caribou stalking and a trip to Alaska. (more…)
Toronto-based travel blogger and actress Kristen Sarah started her blog, Hopscotch the Globe, two years ago, after she already had quite a bit of global travel under her belt. She’s added more than a dozen countries to her list since then, has logged more than a year of combined travel time and spent 10 months travelling the world non-stop in 2011.
Her videos may be what most differentiates Kristen’s blog from other travel diaries. As an actress, she’s a natural performer and posts comedic, informational travel videos every week. In her So You Want to Travel the World video series she shares tips on round-the-world travel, like how to budget for a round-the-world trip (while still eating five meals a day) and what to pack—in which she amazingly fits everything into a single carry-on. (more…)
In the 1990s, few wine writers were focusing on Canadian wine. Rick VanSickle, then the executive Sunday editor for the Calgary Sun, was a frequent visitor to Okanagan Valley wine region from his then home in Calgary and when the wine writer position at his paper became available in 1999, he snatched it up himself (it helps to be the boss!) and started peppering his wine coverage with stories about homegrown wine varieties. He later branched out, writing wine columns in Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg, and eventually moved to his current home in St. Catharines, Ontario (he’s a Toronto native), to focus on the Niagara wine region. (more…)
Tim Pawsey likes to say that he’s been writing about food and wine for 25 kilos. That badge of honour wasn’t achieved overnight: he has worked as a wine, food and travel writer for 25 years to get there. A longtime resident of Vancouver’s West End, he specializes in B.C. cuisine, but has been known to dip into other areas of Canada and—in terms of wine, especially—around the globe.
Tim’s food-and-wine-writing career started with a bang: a three-month race around the world with Charles Heidsieck Champagne. Today, Tim frequently judges wine competitions (such as the Okanagan Wine Festival) and is a frequent contributor to Where Vancouver magazine. (more…)
The Moose Travel Network is a Canadian tour company that buses young and “young-at-heart” backpackers to locales throughout Canada and the U.S. for adventures like sea kayaking in Cape Breton; luge-ing in Mont Tremblant; horseback riding in Banff; and bungee jumping in Whistler.
Brian Lihou has worked for Moose Travel East as a guide since 2007. He started guiding tours in Niagara Falls and Algonquin Provincial Park and graduated to larger tours through Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and the U.S. He’s on the road with Moose Network tours almost nonstop between May and October and often in his “off-season” as well. (more…)
Cinda Chavich knows food, and Canadian food in particular. She has 30 years of journalism experience—20 of them as a food and wine writer—under her belt and is a regular contributor to Avenue magazine (Calgary), West magazine and the Canadian Tourism Commission Web site. She is the cooking columnist for Alberta’s CBC radio and has written five cookbooks, including bestsellers High Plains: The Joy of Alberta Cuisine, The Girl Can’t Cook and The Guy Can’t Cook.
A product of the Prairies, Cinda was born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, and has lived in Lethbridge, Saskatoon and Calgary. As we speak, she’s pulling up her deep Prairie roots to set up shop in Victoria, B.C. (more…)
Meghan near Everest Base Camp in Nepal (Photo: Paul Zizka)
Adventure travel specialist Meghan J. Ward lives in one of the best locations on the planet for outdoors enthusiasts: Banff National Park. The content specialist for Banff Lake Louise Tourism, editor of Canadian Rockies culture publication Highline Magazine, and freelance writer for Parks Canada, Travel Alberta and numerous outdoors publications, Meghan is someone you want to listen to if you’re planning a trip to Canada’s adventure capital. You can also read her musings on everything from waterproof sneakers to climbing Mt. Everest at her blog, The Campsite.
Born in Calgary and raised in Ottawa, Meghan headed back west for summer jobs in Banff during university and relocated to Banff for good in 2008. She travels extensively throughout Canada (to six provinces and Nunavut in the past two years alone!) and recently spent nine weeks in Nepal, where she hiked to Everest Base Camp and through Upper Mustang, among other adventures. (more…)
Carolyn B. Heller is one of those veteran travel writers you want to talk to, whether you need advice about travelling in Ontario or China. In her more than 15 years as a professional travel writer she’s authored or contributed to more than 50 guidebooks for Avalon Travel, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s and Zagat and covered destinations in more than 40 countries across six continents. (more…)
Read a bit of Mariellen Ward’s blog BreatheDreamGo and you quickly realize this is not your average travel blog. She specializes in the transformational and meaningful aspects of travel. Her own travel awakening came with the fulfillment of a lifelong dream in 2005: six months travelling in India, which she says completely changed her life, and she now refers to India as her “soul culture”. One of those life changes was the evolution of her career from corporate writing and editing to travel writing and editing. (more…)