The Lights Fest: Ottawa, ON

Many months ago I decided to buy an early bird ticket to this Lights Festival I saw advertised online. It looked incredible in the photos and I saw it as an opportunity to have an inexpensive (only cost me $25.00 CAD per ticket), different and romantic night out. It was an incredible experience.

Getting There
The Lights Festival in Ottawa was expecting over 5,000 participants (wow!), so as you can imagine there was quite a bit of traffic build up. We were supposed to arrive before 6:00pm, but due to the traffic we did not get into the festival until nearly 7pm! Regardless, we were able to find a great parking spot and still had time to find a great spot on the grass to sit and listen to some live music.

The Festival
The atmosphere was incredible. There were so many people of all ages sitting either on blankets on the grass or in their chairs. There were tiki torches all over the place to light the place up even in the dark. Everyone was given one lantern each and you were given a little marker too so you could decorate it or write something sentimental on it. Some people dedicated the lantern to their lost loved ones while others decided to write a wish or simply draw a picture.

While everyone was decorating their lanterns there were some live local talents playing on the stage. The music was really good and occasionally they would have some small contests for prizes like t-shirts.

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Lighting The Lanterns
It takes two people to light a lantern due to their size, so basically Marco was on one side and I was on the other. We brought the lantern over to the tiki torch to light it up. You need to hold the lantern close to the ground for a few seconds so the hot air gets trapped inside, and then you let it go! It’s quite a quick process, actually, and we didn’t get the photos we were 100% expecting to get but we still made some great memories!

It was quite magical to see 5,000+ lanterns float up into the night sky. They played music as this happened and just so happened to be one of my favourite songs – Hallelujah – I cried a little bit (tears of joy!). It was absolutely breathtaking, words cannot even describe it.

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They actually do these festivals all over the place (primarily Canada and the US I believe). You can check them out here: https://thelightsfest.com/ and see if they are coming to a town near you. I would highly recommend it. Have you been to a Lights Festival before? What were your thoughts? Drop us a comment below – we would love to hear from you!

 

Do’s and Don’ts: Speaking With Locals

Like all human beings, you have good ones and bad ones. Locals at your tourist destination are the same. Some people can be super nice and helpful and you may even make a friend. Others can try to scam you for money, lure you into a dangerous situation or just being plain annoying.

DO – Use your judgement to determine the intentions of the person you will be speaking with. Social cues like body language and tone can be common indicators if someone will be a pleasure to speak with or leave you irritated.

DONT – Follow them or pay them anything without asking some questions first. You always want to make sure you are receiving services or products from a trusted source and you don’t want to end up with cheap or fake products or follow them somewhere and get lost. Always ask some verifying questions to make sure you’re on the right path.

DO – Try to use their native language (ex. If in Mexico try to speak Spanish). This will show them that you are genuinely trying to communicate with them – that little bit of effort goes a long way! Think of the last time a tourist asked you for directions in your home town and they made an effort to speak to you in your language?

DONT – Talk down to them or belittle them. Local people at your travel destination are people just like you. They may not speak your language or share the same culture or values as you, but you need to respect that. Treat everyone with respect.

DO – Ask for local hot spots that may not be well-known. You could potentially find some cheaper deals or explore a new place you’ve never even heard of! Again, always use your discretion when deciding to take advice or hangout with the locals.

No matter where you go you will most likely encounter vendors on the streets trying to sell their goods or ill-intended people involved in gangs or other dangerous entities. Don’t become paranoid by these stories you hear on the news, but definitely stay attentive and always use your best possible discretion to make the best decision. Conversing with local residents of the place you are traveling to is always an incredible experience. You can learn lots about their culture and language.

Have you had any positive or negative local interactions while on vacay? Share your stories with us below! We would love to hear from you.

Traveling With A 9-5 Job

No – we are not full-time bloggers or influencers (although that would be ideal!). We have very real, corporate jobs that keep us afloat and offer us enough cushion to save our money for some travels throughout the year. But how can we afford to travel so often and how do we get the time off?

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Saving Money
It’s hard to travel without money – actually, it’s hard to do anything without money. We aren’t millionaires and we are not earning six figures per year, but we are diligent with our spending and saving and are able to comfortably live and travel all at the same time. They key is to not spend on un-important items or habits and to always set a budget and stick with it!

Small Trips are Trips Too!
We may not be able to go abroad any day we want to, but we always make an effort to go on a little getaway not too far from home every once in a while. So far this year we have been to Kingston, Gananoque, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Winchester and Toronto. These are usually little weekend or day trips to get us out of the city and exploring a new area! A trip is a trip!

Plan Ahead
I personally am allotted two weeks of paid vacation every calendar year with my current job. Some employers offer more, some less. Know what you are eligible for and plan from there. You want to make sure your time off coordinates with your friends, partners or family’s schedules as well. I typically take my holidays one week at a time and usually spread out (one at the beginning of the year and one towards the end). If you take all your holidays at once you won’t have time to take off later on and could risk getting burnt out.

PRO TIP: If you can, try to plan your holidays over a weekend to take advantage of the days you won’t need to claim as vacation days! (ex. if you holiday Monday – Friday you will need to take 5 vacation days. If you holiday Wednesday – Sunday you only need to take 3 vacation days).

Budget, Budget, Budget
Create a budget that works for you. We have a whiteboard at home that we create of a thermometer for our savings goals for a particular trip we want to go on. It’s helpful to have a constant visual of your goals and to see your progress as well. Working within timelines and setting a budget goal also helps to make the total cost of a trip less intimidating or overwhelming.

Do you work full-time and travel often? Are you a digital nomad and travel for work? Drop us a comment below – we would love to hear from you!