We’ve had the pleasure of asking ten questions to Brittany Thiessen. Her blog is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in visiting the natural marvels of Canada, she is an authority on all things Manitoba and writes inspiring articles for solo female travellers and for those interested in travelling off the beaten path. She is also a firm believer in sustainable travel and supporting local communities, something that is dear to our hearts too. So without further ado, here are her answers to our questions. Enjoy!
- You are from Manitoba, Canada. It looks beautiful there! What are the 3 things not to miss for a visiting traveller?
Thank you! Manitoba is really a beautiful province in Canada and I love living there (although I don’t always feel the same way when it’s bitterly cold in the winters)! Manitoba tends to get skipped by many travellers visiting Canada as many head straight for the mountainous areas of British Columbia and Alberta. But Manitoba offers a lot of great things to see and do and is definitely a great addition to peoples’ bucket lists. Three must-see places for a visiting traveller would be:
- Riding Mountain National Park – The nature and scenery are absolutely gorgeous and there are so many great hikes to embark on!
- Winnipeg – Our capital city offers a lot of wonderful things to do, like visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, checking out the shops and activities at The Forks, and enjoying a relaxing time at Assiniboine Park.
- Pinawa – This town is a hidden gem in Manitoba that not many travellers would know about. The area has stunning nature and landscapes and you can explore the ruins of an old hydroelectric dam or walk across a swinging suspension bridge!
- You look like an expert of the Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba. What is its hidden treasure that you can share with us?
Riding Mountain National Park is my ultimate favourite place in Manitoba because it’s just so beautiful and I love being among nature. A hidden treasure in the park would be the Gorge Creek Trail. It is one of the more challenging hikes in the park but the views along the way are so rewarding, as you hike along the escarpment! Located on the eastern edge of the park, the trail is 13 kilometres in length and winds its way through valleys and hills. It’s definitely a must-see!
- What sort of animals can you expect to see whilst camping or hiking in Canada? Have you had any close encounters?!
You can see all kinds of animals when hiking or camping in Canada! Anything from deer to elk, lynxes, coyotes, wolves, moose, black bears or even grizzly bears to smaller animals like squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and more. While hiking in Banff National Park in Alberta, I encountered a male moose along the trail which was so amazing, as they are very rarely seen. I have also seen black bears and a grizzly bear, but I was in the car so it wasn’t as scary as it would have been encountering them on a trail! I love seeing animals in the wild in their natural habitat.
- Canada rates as one of the best places to live in the world. What would you say to someone thinking about moving to Canada?
I can definitely understand why Canada is rated as one of the best places in the world to live. It’s just such a wonderful country and I am very thankful to have been born in this country. To someone thinking about moving to Canada, I would say that I think it’s a great choice to come here! But be prepared to experience all four seasons, sometimes in their extremes, depending on where you choose to live. In Manitoba, we have very cold winters and get lots of snow but the summers are hot and beautiful.
- You are a female solo traveller, what have the biggest challenges been, particularly when travelling abroad?
I love travelling alone as a solo traveller, but it does have its challenges. Navigating an entirely new country or city can be overwhelming and difficult sometimes when you are on your own and have no-one to help you out or rely upon. Another challenge is knowing which areas are safe to explore as a solo female and which are not. Although I am an introvert, travelling alone can be lonely too and sometimes I wish that I could share my amazing experiences with close family or friends. But overall, solo travel is truly incredible and the benefits outweigh the challenges for me.
- Why is sustainable travel so important to you? How would you advise someone who wants to become a more sustainable traveller?
Sustainable travel is about doing your part to protect the earth, respect local cultures and support local businesses, products and activities. I think that it’s so important to be conscious of how our actions affect the local people and places that we travel to because I believe that we need to care about protecting the environment and communities, if we want them to continue to last and thrive for future generations to explore them as well. Some tips I would give to those wishing to be more sustainable travellers would be: purchasing local products which in turn support the local people so that you are actively contributing to their livelihoods; respecting local cultures and traditions of the places you visit and taking the time to learn and understand the culture and language before arriving to your destination; and choose locally owned accommodations like staying in bed and breakfasts or guesthouses to support the community.
- You seem to prefer travelling to more remote areas with natural beauty rather than cities. What does off the beaten path mean to you?
Yes, I definitely do prefer that. For me, off the beaten path means venturing outside of the popular tourist areas and discovering locally known places and getting into nature. Some of my best and most rewarding travel experiences have been when I did something off the beaten path, like when I cycled to a couple of small traditional villages and cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula by myself and exploring lesser-known Mayan ruins along the Ruta Puuc in Mexico. Getting off the beaten path often opens up opportunities to interact with the locals and learn something about them, their culture and the places you are visiting, which I love.
- Having visited most of Latin America, Guatemala is definitely in the top 3 countries for us. What did you choose Guatemala over more popular, and tourist friendly countries like Costa Rica?
That’s so awesome to hear that you loved Guatemala as well! I chose Guatemala because it had everything I was looking for – beautiful nature, a variety of landscapes from volcanoes to mountains to jungles and lakes, a rich and vibrant culture, impressive Mayan ruins, and traditional villages plus colourful colonial cities to explore. Guatemala is not as popular as countries like Belize and Costa Rica, and I was really desiring a unique experience and different type of adventure from what many tourists have, which is ultimately why I ended up choosing Guatemala. It was an amazing country to explore and I am so glad that I decided to go there!
- Creating a website can be daunting for a new travel blogger. Yours looks very professional and organised. Do you have any tips?
Thank you very much! Creating a blog definitely takes a lot of work to set up and get everything going before you even begin writing articles and uploading photos. I still find myself feeling overwhelmed at times, trying to balance my full-time day job and keeping up with blogging on the side. Tips that I would give to new bloggers, would be to take it slow when setting everything up and take the time to research and learn about different aspects of blogging before getting started. Other travel blogs are great resources for finding articles and also inspiration for how you want your own blog to look.
- What is your next destination and why?
The next trip I am taking is to Vancouver, Canada in May! Even though I have grown up and lived in Canada my entire life, there are still many areas of the country that I have yet to visit and explore and I really want to start seeing more of what my home country has to offer, which is why I chose to go to Vancouver for my first time this spring. I can’t wait to explore this beautiful coastal city!
Again, thank you for answering our questions Brittany, we can see that we share with you a love for Guatemala but we blame you for forcing us to add yet another country (Canada) to our already packed bucket list! We hope our readers enjoyed Brittany’s answers as much as we did – don’t forget to visit her blog here and join her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to stay up to date with her adventures.