The Unplan – Life Changing Decisions – Part 10

For the last couple of years I’ve certainly had wanderlust. Since I first got back on a plane after surviving a plane crash in December 1997, I’ve gotten stronger and stronger and have wanted to explore further and further.

First, a trip to Bermuda to see if I would lose it completely on a plane. (2008)
I didn’t.

Then a trip to New York to celebrate turning 30 and that I didn’t lose it on a plane! (2008)

Then on to Costa Rica and Nicaragua – a whole new continent for me. Also the first time that I started thinking about studying Spanish.(2009)

Next thing I knew I was traveling to photograph destination weddings. (2010)

And then another new continent as I flew to Germany and Poland to photograph Coalition for Kids International, granting wishes to terminally ill children in Poland. (2011)

My little wings that had been weakened by 11 years of non-use, were getting stronger.

Why not take it further and create Photo Tours in far away places like Peru and Vietnam? (2012 – 2014)

With all of those great destinations under my belt, a lot of take offs and landings and no further plane crashes … I decided it was time to really take a leap and off to Southeast Asia I went with my longest flight being 12 hours and 50 minutes from Narita, Japan to Chicago, USA.

Looking back, it’s incredible to see that all of this (and much much more) has happened in the past seven years.

So, it really shouldn’t be any big surprise to anyone what I’m about to tell you …

I’m sure if you’ve been reading my series of Life Changing Decisions, you are starting to put it together.

1. Decision to get debt free.
2. Work at a job that can be done anywhere in the world (or confirm that your current job can)
3. Do renovations & put condo on the market
4. Dream of travel

What do you get when those things all come together?

You get the UNPLAN! (and a really happy Shari)

In my head, and to my close friends and family, my plan since the beginning of this was not really to have a plan at all, hence the UNPLAN.

What exactly does the UNPLAN look like?

Like a leaf in the wind (or a paper airplane), I can go wherever the wind takes me. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Well, it’s a semi-calculated type of crazy if that makes it any better!

I am setting my life up to be debt free and with fewer commitments. This will allow me to travel when and where I want and discover our amazing world. I don’t want to live my life waiting 12 months for my next vacation. I don’t want to be on vacation all the time, but I do want to live my life to the fullest and for me, a big part of that is seeing this amazing, vast, beautiful world we live in.

The UNPLAN has always been somewhat calculated. I’m not jumping off a cliff without checking for a soft landing. From the beginning, although extremely hard for other people to understand, I have made very few decisions about where / when / how long I would travel for. I would tell people I’m getting debt free so I can travel and they would of course ask ‘Where are you going to go?’ Although I had narrowed it down to a starting point of Central and South America, that’s as much as I was willing to commit to. When they asked me ‘How long are you going for?’ My answer has always been ‘I’m not sure. An undetermined amount of time. I’m not debt free yet.’

I have flitted back and forth between ideas such as a year-long around the world trip, a SWAP working holiday in New Zealand, settling in for a couple (or several) months somewhere in Central or South America, or simply living in Nova Scotia and traveling whenever I possibly can. These are big, amazing options. Don’t you dare say I’m ‘lucky’ to have these choices. This has nothing to do with luck folks, I am making these choices, they aren’t just magically happening.

You see, there are doers and dreamers in this world. I’m a doer. Yes, I have big dreams but I don’t sit and daydream unless I’m actually going to make something happen. So, being realistic about it all, I absolutely, flat out refuse to make any travel decisions until I become debt free. (with one exception – see below)

Although I still dream of where I want to visit, where I might like to stay for a little while and what great adventures are out there waiting for me, until I achieve my first, and most important goal of being debt free, I can’t move forward with achieving this undetermined amount of travel. This is a calculated UNPLAN!

I’m designing my own life. I’m making choices for me, based on my passions, what’s important in my life and how I can find happiness. Isn’t the true meaning of life to live it to it’s fullest?

So, let me give you the big announcement(s) …

1. Knock on wood, my condo has sold. Barring any complications with the condo financials, it is a done deal with a mid-June closing date. It was on the market for less than one month. I got reasonably close to asking price. I got slightly more than I needed in order to get completely debt free, set aside my down payment for my next home purchase and set aside a bit of money for travel. I think the universe is encouraging me to continue with the UNPLAN!

2. I confirmed a long time ago that I would be able to continue to be a travel agent, but work from anywhere in the world with my current employer, The Adventure Travel Company. Today, May 15th is my last day working in the office and as of tomorrow I will be working remotely. I’ll post a blog about this transition in a couple of days, but for now, all you need to know is that I am still a full service travel agent, specializing in adventure travel. I am affiliated with the amazing Adventure Travel Company and I hope you’ll support me by trusting me to help you plan YOUR next adventure. You can email me at stucker@atcadventure.com

3. I have been accepted on a travel agent familiarization tour with Intrepid Travel for one week in Chile and Argentina in November. This is the one concrete travel plan that I allowed myself to make before all of my other plans came together. I knew that once the condo sold, I would likely head to Central or South America, so this was a natural fit and gave me dates to work with when I would already be in that part of the world. This trip is free (except airfare) and gives me the opportunity to experience these two countries with a great supplier. I knew that even if my condo did not sell, that I would be able to either find the money for the flights or I have enough Aeroplan points to get me there. There were too many benefits for me to pass up. I had originally applied but it was full. A couple of months later, someone had to cancel and one little spot opened up. It had my name all over it! I applied within minutes of finding out a spot had opened up.

4. Having confirmed that I would be heading to South America in November, I shortly thereafter made the decision to launch a new Peru: Through the Lens Photo Tour. I’ve just released details to my photo email list and full details will go public next week. On my first day to announce the new tour, I already have the first person signed up! Tour dates are Oct 18 – 28, 2014. If you’d like more information, please contact me, or sign up for my photo tour newsletter.

There it is folks …

My condo has sold.
I start work as a home-based travel agent on May 16th, but remain under the umbrella of The Adventure Travel Company.
I have a tour booked to Chile and Argentina in November, so if nothing else, I know where I’m headed in late fall.
I am about to go full force promoting my next Peru: Through the Lens photo tour for October 2014.

My UNPLAN is starting to shape up.

Now, of course, in the spirit of an UNPLAN, I have not decided how long I am going for or what other countries I will visit. And, as with everything else, those decisions all depend on many variables. My condo sale still needs to finalize and all of my debts must be completely cleared. I need to find a place to live for the summer and early fall. I must find at least eight people to travel with me on the Peru: Through the Lens photo tour. And, let’s not forget that nice man who walked into my life back in February (see Part 8 of this series). I can’t leave him behind for a year while I go gallivanting around. And no, sadly he can’t come gallivant around with me for a year due to commitments here! It’s still new and early, but it wouldn’t be fair to him or me ignore him in all of this!

Like I said … it is still an UNPLAN with many choices and decisions yet to be made and too many variables still lurking around. Don’t worry, I’ll be blogging about it all along the way!

Now that the big news is out there … let the questions begin! Feel free to post questions and comments below on this post … share with your friends … send it to other people you know who are currently on extended travels or those who dream of doing so …

I’ll be posting updates about my struggles, preparations, decisions and triumphs until departure day (whenever that may be). After that, I’ll transition into sharing my travel adventures of whatever fantastic countries I visit. Some will be exciting, inspirational and likely funny. Others will be boring and simply there for me to keep track of my thought process. I invite you to sign up for my blog updates (top right of my blog) and follow along as often (or not) as you wish.

The first five months of 2014 have certainly been filled with amazing challenges, laughter, tears and some of the biggest decisions of my life so far … but wait … at least all of those things are my choice … so really, how bad can it be?

Just like a leaf in the wind … I’m about to go on a crazy ride.

I hope its a warm, southern wind not a Nor easter!

Another Life Changing Decision – Part 9

April 1, 2014

I’m sitting on a plane heading to Hong Kong and then on to Singapore. It is a very long 14 hours ahead of me, I figured I had time to catch up with my blogging seeing as I already slept through most of my first flight.

The last two weeks have been two of the craziest, most chaotic weeks of my life. I honestly have no idea how I’ve managed to get out of the house with (hopefully) everything I need for my Vietnam: Through the Lens Photo Tour and the house staged and ready for viewings.

Since my last renovation and Life Changing Decision post, the pressure has really been on.

About a week and a half before departure for Asia:

My kitchen is mostly back together and after about four times, the cupboards are done. They aren’t perfect, but I’ve given up that idea and replaced it with a goal of them being sufficient. My new backsplash in the kitchen is up and looks beautiful. It’s grouted, sealed and there’s no going back now. It sure does look pretty though! It feels good to have my kitchen close to working order. I was able to cook a few meals in the last couple of weeks before I left. That was after I cleaned all of the cutlery, pots and pans from the inch of dust that was over everything.

For a full three weeks, possibly longer, I had no suitable living space in my entire home. My living room was packed full of everything from everywhere in the house and all of the furniture was moved to the centre of the room in order for painting to take place. I literally had one chair set aside in the back corner of my living room that I could sit in to use my laptop. My desktop computer was unhooked and covered in plastic for several weeks. Getting from one side of the house to the other was a maze and there was never a clear path. Stepping over things, or dodging items that were losing their delicate balance and falling to the ground were definitely daily tasks.

My friend who had offered to do my flooring bailed on me, saying he just simply couldn’t finish it by the time I needed. He offered to leave his tools here in case I could get someone else to finish it. I was devastated. For the first time amongst all of the stress of renovations, I was about to lose my mind. And, I didn’t even have anywhere to sit! I called on a friend who was very capable of doing flooring, but hated it. He pulled me out of a jam and although I paid him, I probably still owe him for saving my sanity.

Another friend came to install all of the quarter round upstairs and replace all of my switches, plugs and thermostats. Definitely more work and more stress than he (or I) anticipated! Somehow it all got done though.

I’m sure you’ve heard people say that they can’t be productive when their office is messy. Sometimes people have to clean up their surroundings in order to concentrate on work. Well, I felt this way every day for weeks on end about my life, but it was impossible to clean up. There was nowhere to move anything. My only escape was going to a friend’s house to relax, then coming home and crawling in bed.

Finally, the week before I’m leaving for Asia, everything starts to come together. All of the walls are painted, the floors are nearing completion, the kitchen is back in order and the living room is messy, but livable again. Nothing is covered in plastic at this point and cleaning of the entire place has begun.

It is amazing how long it takes to do the little things … re-hanging hand rails, changing hardware on cabinets, painting closet and bedroom doors. All of these things were done in the last one to two weeks of the whole process.

Now, you’d think I’d be starting to relax a bit seeing things come together, but sadly, there were still a few big ticket items to be finished. Take for example my stairs which were still bare ply wood. After several trips to Kent, I finally decided on a carpet for the stairs that would compliment the wall colour, but not clash with the flooring and, despite the large assortment of beige choices, I was able to find something in a blue / grey tone instead.

Just when I thought things were coming together, we got a snow storm that backed up the installers. Then we got hit with a Wednesday snow storm … and then all of a sudden it’s only a few days before I’m leaving and the carpet isn’t installed yet! Oh my nerves. Finally, the installers were able to come on my last weekend and get the carpet in place. I even managed to convince him to redo the laminate in my 1/2 bathroom at a decent rate.

Two nights before leaving for Asia, all of the big items in the house were complete. Now it was just small things, cleaning, staging and packing … oh yes, did I mention that I didn’t pack for my trip until 2 or 3 days before I left?

Last night I was up until 1am finishing final touches and still not everything got done. In the end I decided that sleep was a necessity and anything else would just have to wait or be done by my real estate agent. I still had two closet doors not working properly and missing hardware, a couple of light bulbs that needed to be replaced and who knows what else!

I’ve never been so excited to get on a plane so I could sleep! I left for the airport in the middle of another miserable snow / sleet / hail / freezing rain storm by cab and it took a good 45 minutes to get there (normally less than 30). I thought for sure that flights would be delayed, but magically, somehow they were still running on time.

So, I’m up up and away on my way to Singapore for a few days to get over jet lag before continuing on to Vietnam for my Vietnam: Through the Lens photo tour. Here’s hoping I can catch up on at least some of the lost sleep in the next few days.

BIG THANK YOUS:

Thank you Emily for your love of painting things and willingness to help clean. Not to mention our girl talks which took the pain of renovating away a little … at least in the moment. I cooked a lovely brunch one day when Emily was here helping me and then we promptly sat on the floor to eat because there was no where else to sit. Classy right?

Thank you Anita for doing everything that could be done to help, until you needed to focus on your own renovations! Doing dishes, writing kijiji ads, cleaning windows, stomping floors back in place, laughing at me for multiple ridiculous efforts in renos, shopping for supplies, moving furniture over and over and generally keeping me moving forward … Oh yes and making decisions for me when I couldn’t get my brain to function.

Thank you Jennie for helping stage and decorate, measure things, hang art and shimmy face plates into place when I had all but given up hope that it could be done!

Thanks to the men in my life (David, Paul, Rick) who (with only a little begging) came to my rescue in flooring, tiling, electrical, installing lights, fixing doors, installing fan covers, drilling holes, texting me instructions on what materials to buy, watching me get zapped and then teaching me how not to do that again, teaching me how to do caulking … for the hugs and the support. I won’t likely ever be rich, but I will soon be debt-free and for that, I thank you.

Vietnam: Through the Lens

The 2014 Photo Tour will be taking place in Vietnam from April 6th – 19th, 2014 and I couldn’t be more excited. We have an absolutely fantastic itinerary in place combining workshops, hands on photo experience, the main cities and sights with loads of free time to explore at your own pace.

In planning the itinerary, I spent great time and effort on making sure that activities would coincide with the best times of day, and special events. It is no accident that we will be in Hoi An for Full Moon Festival and I can’t wait for the night photography workshop and to explore the pedestrian-only streets at night with camera in hand to capture the colourful display of lanterns, the folklore and festivities.

This photo tour is for you if:

You love to travel.
You have an interest in photography at any level – beginners with a digital SLR camera are welcome.
You would like to stop using automatic and learn the full potential of manual.
You want to learn to take better photos and look at the world from a different perspective.
You want to explore a new country with a group and take beautiful photos, but don’t want to feel like you are holding anyone up or that you don’t have enough time to get the photo you want!

Vietnam: Through the Lens – Full Itinerary Details

Feel free to contact me to answer any of your questions or concerns.
info@sharitucker.com
stucker@atcadventure.com
902.482.8000 ext 2306 (Monday – Friday – day time hours)
902.402.7646 (evenings & weekends)

38 Days of Peruvian Photos

Appreciate the work of a photo enthusiast. Buy a print and decorate your home or office. Make a difference to under privileged kids in Peru.

It’s just that simple to make a difference.

Leading up to the Peru Through the Lens Art Show & Fundraiser on May 25th (and continuing after), I will be posting one or two photos each day from the art show.

The show is on display from May 25 – June 25th (now extended until July 10th). Prints are available for purchase for $30 (cash). If you see a photo you would like to purchase, drop by The Adventure Travel Company to purchase (or order) your copy between May 25th and July 10th.

Net proceeds from the art show are being donated to The Planeterra Foundation and the House of the People of the Sun where we spent a day photographing under privileged youth while in Cuzco, Peru. Your support will help them have a better education, a warm meal each day and learn new skills to work and help support their families.

Peru in Video

While we were in Peru, our G Adventures leader, Elard Aranibar captured some of our adventure on video. Although all of the moments in this video won’t mean something to the general public, it is still a really interesting look at the people and the culture and some fun memories for participants from the trip.

Check it out here:



Peru Through the Lens 2013 Art Show

Join us for a Saturday afternoon Art Show opening in celebration of travel, photography & giving back!

While in Peru the group spent a day photographing street children at The House of the People of the Sun in Cuzco, a project supported by The Planeterra Foundation.

“House of the People of the Sun” acts as a haven for 80 children and adolescents who live in extreme poverty. The home is open during the day, and is run by a staff of teachers and social workers. Children are given the opportunity to drop-in to receive help with homework, a warm meal, and participate in classes and workshops that teach them valuable skills, including jewelry making, leather working, sewing, cooking, music and English.”

Last year we raised over $900 for the Planeterra Foundation and we look forward to giving back again this year, with money earmarked directly for the House of the People of the Sun project.

Join us Saturday, May 25th to view & buy photos from Peru Through the Lens participants and help support street kids in Cuzco, Peru and maybe win yourself a little something from Peru or a voucher for your next trip with G Adventures!

There is no fee to attend the opening, but donations for Planeterra Foundation are appreciated and will be accepted at the door.

Opening Remarks will be from approximately 1:30 – 2:00pm.

Drop in anytime between 1pm and 4pm.

Show will continue to be displayed until June 25th, 2013.

Presented in Partnership with:

Shari Tucker Photography

The Adventure Travel Company

Henry’s

PTL 2013 Art Show
PTL 2013 Art Show

2014 Photo Tour Possibilities

The results are in from lots of people who are interested in joining me for photo tours in 2014 & 2015. Thanks to everyone who responded to my quick survey.

As I am only 19 days away from Peru Through the Lens 2013 photo tour, you can imagine I’m very excited! I hope you will follow along with my adventures as I will be blogging regularly while on the photo tour! Sign up for blogs to come direct to your email on the right hand side of the screen where it says ‘Get my blog posts direct to your email’.

I am also in a place where I am starting to make plans for my 2014 adventure.

A LOT of people have expressed interest in a photo tour to Asia or Eastern Europe. Although not at all finalized, I am looking for a little bit more feedback from anyone who has a serious interest in joining me on one of my photo tours. I’d like to know how you feel about the following destinations and if you would be interested in visiting either of these destinations with me in 2014.

CROATIA

A country that is gaining popularity quickly, but is not yet main stream. Beautiful architecture, a Unesco World Heritage site (Old city of Dubrovnik) and stunning vistas, right on the Adriatic Sea. Lots of nature, possibility for visiting various islands and a home stay. Best to visit between May and October. I would likely look at May/June or September/October. If I decide on this option, it would likely be a 7-10 day photo tour, with the option, on an individual basis, to stay in Croatia or visit more of Europe on your own, or on another type of tour for additional time. Tour price is likely to be in the $2000 – $3000 range, depending on length of tour. Plus flights which will be in the $1600 – $2100 range, or you can fly on Avion / aeroplan etc to off set that cost. (and you have a year to save the money & build the points!)

I might also consider adding The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro and Sarajevo / Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovnia. Or, I may simply arrange this as an add on tour that you can opt-in to for after the end of the photo tour.

VIETNAM

Well known for it’s beauty and history. Many a photographer has dreamed of visiting Vietnam to take photos of the rice fields, the friendly people, the food, the Mekong Delta and the floating markets. Not to mention OH SO BEAUTIFUL Halong Bay. And the vibrant Ho Chi Minh City. I would be looking at a 10 – 14 day tour here because it is further to go and so much area to cover. Price is likely to be close to the $3000 mark because several internal flights would be needed to ensure we could see everything (but hopefully not above $3000) + international flights which range from $1800 – $2300. Of course, we would certainly make a strong effort to get them as cheap as possible, or you can off set flights with Avion or Aeroplan points.

I might also consider adding Angkor Wat, Cambodia for 3 or 4 days as an optional add on at the end of the photo tour.

With either option, I will be looking into a home stay experience as well as some kind of volunteer photo project. I feel that these are two strong features that make my photo tours exceptional and unique instead of average and they are two parts that are close to my heart.

If you could kindly leave a comment below express your thoughts on if you would be interested in either of these locations for 2014, I would greatly appreciate it. Or, you can send an email to info@sharitucker.com.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest photo tour news, as well as photo tips and tricks and destination information, you can sign up for the photo tour newsletter which comes out approximately once a month. Click here to sign up.

OTHER DESTINATIONS
For those who are curious, quite a few people expressed interest in other areas for photo tours. Below is an overview of what you can expect (or not expect) from my photo tours in the next few years.

AFRICA
People expressed interest in various areas of Africa, or African Safaris. At this time, I do not intend to do any photo tours for African Safaris. There are MANY companies who offer this and I don’t feel I need to reinvent the wheel. If you have your heart set on this, please contact me and I would be happy to help you find the right tour for you with a reputable company. Or, if you don’t want to travel alone, get 4 or 5 friends together and I can put together a custom group itinerary for you with local African companies and guides who will take you to the absolute best spots for wildlife viewing. Just because I am not planning to break into this market doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go! I would love to help you get there!

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Also high on the interest list is the fabulous Galapagos Islands, which I visited in February 2012. I DO plan to do a photo tour to the Galapagos, however, it will not be in 2014. I am looking at 2015 or 2016 for this destination, but likely won’t decide until sometime in 2014. I can tell you now, that the Galapagos tour will be more in the $4500 – 5000 range + flights which range in the $1500+ range. It will be well worth it for any animal lovers, bird lovers and budding nature photographers. It is an amazing destination!

AUSTRALIA & ANTARCTICA
Australia and Antarctica each came up several times. I’m not likely to organize a photo tour to either of these locations, but would be happy to help you get there or find another photo tour to join. Both of these would be fairly expensive. Australia isn’t really a place you visit for only 7 – 14 days and both are pricey to get to. The bulk of people who responded to my survey are looking for tours in the $2000 – $5000 price range. Antarctica trips start more in the $8000 – $10 000 range. If you are interested, I can certainly help you get there and will be completely jealous of all the amazing photo opportunities that you have!

IRELAND
Ireland was also highly requested. It is not on my immediate list, but I may consider this as an option at a later time.

In my ‘other’ life (not as a photographer, but as an Adventure Travel Specialist), I can help you find the perfect trip anywhere in the world … solo, in a group, a family … for photography or not. Or, if you are part of a photo club that would like to organize a photo tour for your members, I’d be happy to help you with any of this. If you have specific travel requests you can contact me at stucker@atcadventure.com.

I look forward to everyone’s feedback on the possibilities of Croatia or Vietnam for 2014! Both of which are destinations on my list of travels for the near future.

Highlights from Participants for Peru Through the Lens 2012

After a successful 2012 Peru Through the Lens tour, I asked participants to provide me with feedback about the trip so that I could continue to improve it for the 2013 year. Today, as I reviewed that feedback to see what I haven’t yet done, that I need to do, I reminisced while reading through each respondent’s highlights.

Here are participants responses to the question:
What were your top five favourite experiences or places of the Peru Through the Lens Photo Tour?

Lori’s Highlights
1. Meeting and making new friends
2. Tombs at Sillustani (optional excursion during free time near Puno)
3. Machu Picchu – for the personal physical accomplishment & the view
4. Lake Titicaca – specifically Taquile Island
5. Pisac ruins

Pachamama Beams Down by Lori Cammerota
Pachamama Beams Down by Lori Cammerota

Kristie’s Highlights
1. Puno
2. Home stay at Ccaccaccollo and community of Taray
3. Machu Picchu
4. Hot springs at Aguas Calientes (optional during free afternoon)
5. Markets (Cuzco, Puno, Ollantaytambo, Pisac)

Machu Picchu by Kristie McDougall
Machu Picchu by Kristie McDougall

Monika’s Highlights
1. The time Shari took to teach me about photographing using manual and using the histogram on the back of my camera
2. Seeing the ruins at Pisac
3. Lake Titicaca – including Taquile Island, the homestay at Luquina Chico, and the floating islands
4. Having the time to see the Ollantaytambo ruins the second day in the morning (optional during free time)
5. Ruins at Machu Picchu early in the morning
6. The sense of community that was established with our tour group early in the trip

Pisac Terraces by Monika Bigelow
Pisac Terraces by Monika Bigelow

Diane’s Highlights
1. Machu Picchu
2. Cusco
3. Puno
4. Uros Floating Islands
5. The Flat topped island at the Chulpa Tomb ruins in Sillustani (optional tour during free time, near Puno)

Sillustani by Diane Slaunwhite
Sillustani by Diane Slaunwhite

Andrea’s Highlights
1. Homestay at Ccaccaccollo
2. Machu Picchu
3. Uros Islands
4. Luquina Chico Homestay
5. Taray Dance Festival

Ccaccaccollo Family Photo by Andrea Robinson
Ccaccaccollo Family Photo by Andrea Robinson

Ed’s Highlights
1. Seeing Machu Picchu at the end of the trip. It was the icing on the cake for this Peruvian adventure.
2. Home stays…both of them – Ccaccaccollo & Luquina Chico. This truly gave me an insight into the Peru culture and gave me a perspective on life that I would not have gained from looking out of a bus window or simply sitting in coffee shops.
3. Visiting the Uros floating islands and meeting the community who live there.
4. The photo project of taking family portraits. It was touching to see how many of these families were so excited to have us take pictures of them. When I showed my “Mami” and “Papi” the pictures I took of their community they both began to weep with joy. It was quite an emotional experience for me.
5. Making new friends with the group that I got to travel with. They were all fun and I learned more about photography from interacting with each and every one of them.

Ccaccaccollo Family Photo by Ed Robinson
Ccaccaccollo Family Photo by Ed Robinson

Sarah’s Highlights
1. Uros floating islands
2. Machu Picchu – It was great getting there early to sit and take in the vast beauty.
3. Taquile Island – tough active day but lunch with the million dollar view made the struggle worth it.
4. Pisac – so much beauty and history
5. Cusco architecture

Uros Islands by Sarah L. Hill
Uros Islands by Sarah L. Hill

As for myself, my highlights were:
1. Machu Picchu – Please read blog post Lost City, Found Self and you will understand.
2. Puno – The impromptu carnival street parade some of us saw during our free time and visiting the market to buy vegetables for our home stay families.
3. Luquina Chico Homestay – The parade of welcome music by the local men, dancing with the locals, helping make fried dough, photographing the locals at work (fishing & sorting fish), my little home stay sister Deanna, who cried when I left.
4. Uros floating Islands – The history of these islands fascinates me!
5. Homestay at Ccaccaccollo – challenging to communicate with our families because they speak Quechua, but feeling warmly welcomed. Enjoyed the volunteer family photos & meeting so many people of the community.
6. (I couldn’t just have 5!) Taray Dance Festival – A complete authentic travel experience. It was not a tour, nothing planned, just going about a day the same way that the locals do. Except this particular day was a local dance festival.

Ccaccaccollo weaving by Shari Tucker
Ccaccaccollo weaving by Shari Tucker

Interested in joining in the fun and discovering your own highlights? Join me for Peru Through the Lens 2013!

Ideas to save money for a Photo Tour

So many people say they are interested in taking a photo tour, but don’t have the money. Now, now … that’s not true. You can find money to travel if you prioritize it! Most people think it is just a pipe dream. Something that would be nice, but they will never do. They wonder how come others can afford it or wish that they could go. Well, why not change that attitude and make it happen?

I’ve compiled a few easy ideas that you can implement immediately to help save money for one of my Through the Lens photo tours.

1. Find an empty jar or container in your house and cover it with the Itinerary of your dreams … or random photos of the destination. Then, every time you have spare change, no matter how small, pop it in this container. It is amazing how much spare change we have around. And, you won’t miss that quarter or loonie out of your pocket or purse. It’ll add up fast!

2. Christmas is coming. Why not make a calendar ($15 – $25), or frame prints of your favourite images to give as Christmas gifts. Every year as Christmas becomes more and more commercial, I enjoy homemade and from the heart gifts much more than store bought! And, 5×7 or 8×10 prints are less than $5 each! Save yourself a bit of money this Christmas and give from the heart!

3. Do you have a few really great photos that people are always saying they’d like a copy of? Don’t give it away for free! Your friends and family should be happy to pay you a reasonable price for a piece of art that they can hang in their home. In fact, why not post those photos ‘for sale’ on Facebook, your blog or website … or around the office and take orders for prints!

4. Run a family or pet photography special for your friends and family. This is a great way to practice your photography skills, make a little money and reconnect with friends & family. You reconnect when you send the email out to let them know about your fundraising efforts, then you get to see them in person! And don’t forget, you can provide photos on DVD, or for downloading online. There is relatively no cost to this for you, just your precious time. But, what’s a few hours of doing something you love to save some money to travel to your dream destination?

5. Take photos for your co-workers, friends or family who are participating in Movember. Donate half of the money to their Movember campaign and keep the other half for your travel fund!

6. Cancel your cable. I haven’t had cable for almost four years. I don’t watch a lot of television shows, so I keep up to date with them on my own time, online. Cable can be $50 – $100 / month. Give it up from now until after you return from your trip. Make sure you take the money you are saving and stash it in your travel fund though so you see it piling up! Six months could equal $600 or more. And, I bet after six months without it, you won’t even want it back!

7. Do you like to bake? Sell baked goods to your friends & family. I don’t like baking. If you offer me a dozen cookies, I would pay you for them! Spend all day one Sunday baking and have people pick up their orders from you that night. Make sure you remember to price accordingly for all of your supplies including however you are packaging them!

8. Take part in a local flea market by renting a table (usually $20-$50) and do Spring or Fall cleaning. Get rid of all of the items in your house that you don’t need. Or, sell them on kijiji! Put the money toward new camera gear for your trip, or trip costs themselves!

9. I can’t remember where I heard this idea, but I won’t take credit for it … Take orders from family & friends for photos that you WILL take while you are in destination. That’s right, you make a commitment to them to take a special photo for them … it can either be something specific that they request, or it can be a random photo of something that reminds you of them while you are in destination. It’s a great fun, inspiring challenge for while you are traveling!

10. Check your Air miles, Aeroplan or Avion points. Maybe you have a free flight waiting for you! If not, maybe with a some strategic planning of where you grocery shop or buy gas you can get enough points in the next few months!

11. Get your deposit in to The Adventure Travel Company right away and then make regular deposits until you are all paid up! Or, pay it all in advance on your line of credit and let the pressure of having debt encourage you to pay it off even quicker!

Need help with any of the ideas above? Just ask!

There are a million ways to save money for anything that you put your mind to. These are just a few that I think would be relatively easy and quick to implement.

Don’t forget to get your deposit in to The Adventure Travel Company right away to hold your spot and you can start saving money to tick a new destination off your bucket list! (2014 – Vietnam)