Hey there! I’m Jen, a 29-year-old Canadian dreamer, backpacker and self-proclaimed gypsy. And welcome to my humble little corner of the internet. For as long as I can remember travel has played a huge role it my life. I was extremely lucky to grow up with parents who took me all over the world and supported my love of adventure from a young age. Through the years I have collected stamps in my passport from all different corners of the globe. And with each trip, a piece of my soul revealed itself until it became undeniable that travel was part of who I am. I have set foot in 6 of the 7 continents, crossed the borders of 41 countries and called 8 cities around the world home. My passion for travel is overwhelming and it has shaped me into the woman I am today.
For the love of travel writing
I started chronicling my adventures abroad in the pages of journals and scrap books. I sketched the ancient ruins of the acropolis in Athens and iconic renaissance sculptures in Florence during a grade 11 art history trip to Europe. During my time in Kumasi, Ghana I wrote daily about the highs and lows of volunteering at an orphanage at 19 in my travel journal. During my first big backpacking trip abroad in 2012, I shared my adventures with friends and family back home by writing a blog about my travels. Writing and photography has always been a way for me to immortalize my adventures abroad. What started as a hobby has grown into a fierce passion for story telling.
Lost and found
Heartbreak has always freed me from the confines of someone else’s reality. When the dust settled, I would find myself longing for adventure. And free from restraints, finally able to do something for myself, I headed abroad. Time and time again the story would go, meet a boy, fall in love, fit into his life, lose myself. Depression, heartbreak, I became a stranger. Freedom, travel, find myself. It was the only cure for me, and after each episode my feet seemed to hit the ground with even more determination than before.
For too long I lost myself in someone else’s story, and in heartbreak I found myself in the pages of my passport. When my 3.5-year relationship ended back in March of 2016, the realization that I would finally get my life back was overwhelming. I had a one-way flight booked out of Canada, and decided to start This Way for Locals. My passion for travel and writing collided and the dream of creating an inspiring little corner of the internet was born. I had lost myself in a life I never truly wanted for far too long and this would be the last time.
50 Countries by 30
It was the summer of 2015 and I had crossed the border of my 30th country. With my 27th birthday quickly approaching I decided to set myself a goal, I was going to spend the last few years of my 20s doing what I love. I was going to travel, as far and for as long as possible. Working my way around the world until I reached my 50th country on my 30th birthday. I had spent too many years in my 20s putting other people’s goals and passions before my own, and now it was time to do something for myself. I wanted to live in Australia, travel around the nearby countries and then spend a year in South America. And finally, I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday in the best, most Jennie way possible. Crossing the border of my 50th country.
A girl with a dream of living life on the road, as a local of the world.
This is a place of inspiration, community and undying passion for travel. This is the ups, downs, good, bad and ugly of travel. It’s the incredible unbelievable moments that inspire us to see the world. The reality of travelling alone. It is the lessons learned the hard way. The stumbles, failures and unbelievable triumphs. So let’s start an adventure, let’s dream outside the lines, let’s trade good for great and great for extraordinary. Let’s find ourselves in the pages of our passports, meet incredible people and share the stories that made us who we are.
Read about my full journey to starting This Way for Locals, here!
Follow my adventure on Instagram: @thiswayforlocals
Follow my adventure on Facebook: @thiswayforlocals
Frequently Asked Questions
Why “This Way for Locals”?
I was living in Whistler at the time and there was this constant battle about what constituted a whistler local. It caused a divide between the new season-aires who had been in whistler for less than a year, the multi-season residents of 2-5 years and the self-proclaimed long-term locals of 5+ years. It caused a lot of animosity between a large group of people who were all there for the same reason, to ski and enjoy all that mountain life has to offer.
People quickly forgot that at one time they were also fresh faced, and instead turned into an arrogant elite that was quick to blame the newbies for the changes happening around town. I had been living in whistler for 3 years and had been calling myself a local since I arrived. I never understood why people thought they could create these cliques and decide what defines a local based on an arbitrary number rather than a person’s involvement in the community.
When I started thinking about naming my blog I drew inspiration from this. So many long-term backpackers and travellers start to get this same arrogant elitist attitude. Travel is becoming more accessible to more people. The barriers to entry have dropped away and the saturation of social media with picture perfect images it has begun to divide travellers. I decided to call it this way for locals for 3 main reasons.
- The best experiences on the road happen when you take the time to connect with locals and travellers. It’s the human experience that connects us all and one of the main reasons I chose to make my career around travel.
- This is a platform to inspire travel at all levels. Whether it’s a week-long holiday, an adventure specific trip or a long-term exploration of the globe, everyone is going abroad for the same reason regardless of length and experience.
- With the line between home and abroad blurring, we start to think of ourselves less attached to one place and more as a citizen of the world. We in turn become locals of the earth. This Way For Locals is an invitation to all those who dream of travel, adventure and exploration in any capacity. Its for free-spirits, dreamers, travel addicts and adventurers.
What was your favourite country?
While it is impossible to pick just one, but the country that left the biggest impact on me is India. It was a country I had dreamed of travelling to for years and when I finally headed there in September 2013 it did not disappoint. It pushed me so far beyond my comfort zone in the most incredible way. India is incredibly chaotic, intoxicating and wild. It is what every true traveller craves. A completely out of this world experience and it changed me from a backpacker to a traveller. I hope to head back there soon in the next few years, intending to stay for a few months. It still to this day captures my mind and heart, and I know I am nowhere near done with the incredible subcontinent of India.
Will you ever stop travelling?
No. Travel has been a part of my life since I was 3 and I have no plans on slowing down. There are too many places to go and adventures to be had to spend life in one place. I’m sure the time will come where the long 6-12 month trips slowdown in favour of shorter trips abroad. But travel is part of who I am and I intend on spending my life exploring every corner of the world!
If you could give someone one piece of advice about travel what would it be?
Take all travel advice with a grain of salt. Everyone is going to tell you how you should travel, where you should travel and what you should do. But don’t feel like you need to do exactly what they say. Travel is a very personal thing and you should do it for yourself. Ask as many questions as you can, read about the country, browse social media but at the end of the day follow your instincts and do only what is true to yourself. You’re are the one travelling after all! Make your trip yours. No one will ever experience it the way you do and that’s pretty fucking cool.
“The adrenaline and stress of an adventure is better than a thousand peaceful days” – Pablo Coelho
“An expectation is the beginning of disappointment” – don’t know who said this first but my dear friend Renzo Kaasoek of Mellow Nomadic said this to me once and I loved it
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s ok. The journey changes you – it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you… hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain
Where in the world have I been…
Hover over to see which country number it was on my quest to hit 50, and click to read stories from that country!