Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Find the Silver Lining

In my beautiful polka dotted planner, at the beginning of each month there’s a motivational quote waiting to greet me when I turn the page. In December, that quote was “find the silver lining.” With all that’s been going on in my life, this quote has fit me perfectly.

It makes me pause in my steps whenever I think about tomorrow being Christmas Day and going through all the motions knowing my grandmother isn’t with us anymore. But she is remembered, and she is loved, and she would want the family to be happy and together.

Christmas carousel decor

Today, though, today I get to look at the silver lining because in less than an hour I’m leaving to pick up my husband from the airport! We’ve been living apart for the past two and a half months due to immigration delays so it’s hard to wipe the smile off my face as our countdown is about to come to an end (well, not a permanent end, but I’ll take what I can get). He’s able to stay for the New Year too, so while I’m somber on one hand, on the other I am so grateful. 

As you take the time to celebrate the holidays, or simply enjoy a few days off from work, I hope you're happy and healthy and your heart is full. 

I hope the glow of soft lights is brightening up your face as you're surrounded by your closest friends and family. 

I hope you go to bed tonight feeling loved and at peace. 

Before the year comes to an end and I go into hibernation holiday mode, I need to say one more thing: thank you. Thank you for all of the support you've shown, engaging with me in the comments even when I wasn't the best at replying, listening to me when I needed to be heard, disagreeing with me yet continuing the conversation... Thank you for showing up every day that you did. I am so grateful.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year. See you in 2015 xo

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Should You Get Eyelash Extensions Before Going on Holidays?

I remember first hearing about eyelash extensions a few years ago and thinking, “So they’re like fake lashes but semi-permanent and I don’t have to wear mascara? I want them.”

I’ve always had eyelash envy. In university I used to wear fake lashes occasionally and have always loved the look of longer and thicker eyelashes. A few years ago in Korea I tested out some eyelash extensions before travelling to southern Taiwan. Since I was planning to spend a few days at the beach, I didn’t want to be thinking about makeup but I didn’t want to go completely bare either. Eyelash extensions are quite popular in Asia and they seemed like the perfect solution. 

At the time I paid $40 for a full set (they were very common in Korea) but in Canada these would cost about $100. 

Should you get eyelash extensions before going on a trip?

The pros and cons of eyelash extensions before travelling

PROS:


1. So pretty! It’s a look that’s enhanced yet natural.

2. Eyelash extensions add a bit of glam without having to put on (and take off! ugh) daily makeup. There’s no need for mascara at all.

3. They’re safe in saltwater and chlorine, even for contact wearers like me!

CONS:


1. It’s an awkward growing out period depending on the length of your natural lash cycle (how long it takes for your eyelashes to naturally fall out). Some salons say extensions will remain for up to 8 weeks, but in my experience, 3-4 weeks before needing a touch up/removal is a lot more realistic.

2. So about those touch ups… Lash extensions can be expensive to maintain if you keep getting them refilled regularly. We’re talking $75 every month!

3. What are the potential negative effects of regular use? I don’t think eyelash extensions have been on the market long enough for us to know. 

So, should you get eyelash extensions before going on a trip?


If it’s a short trip (four weeks or less) and you’d like to enjoy a low-maintenance beauty routine while you’re away, I say sure! Go get those eyelash extensions done if they’re something you’re interested in. Just be aware of how you wipe your eyes when you get out of the ocean, pool, etc. because rubbing your lashes can damage them and break the bond of the glue.

I had my eyelash extensions for two lash cycles and they were cool, but it’s not a service I’d do regularly. Extensions are a lot of maintenance and sometimes it just feels freaking amazing to rub your eyes after a long day. Since I don’t have an abundance of lashes to begin with, I’m also wary of damaging what little I do have. For everyday life, lash extensions aren’t for me, but they sure were pretty while they lasted.

Have you ever thought about getting eyelash extensions before going on a trip (or do you wear them in everyday life)? 

PS: Interested in more makeup posts? Check out Battle of the Mascaras and My Travel Makeup Essentials.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Buy Fake Watches

Thinking about buying a knockoff designer watch? Here are three reasons why you should think again.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Buy Fake Watches
Photo via Flickr
This is a sponsored post not written by The Lifestyle Project.

Sometimes a regular outfit can turn into the perfect one just by adding a stylish and beautiful watch. Even though nowadays watches have lost their functional use, mostly because we usually check the time by looking at our phones, watches still have an aesthetic charm. In particular, designer timepieces are still considered splurge-worthy pieces of jewellery, and numerous watch enthusiasts are simply fascinated by these luxury products which they love to collect. 

Regardless if you are a collector or a one-time buyer, you must understand one thing about designer watches: their value lies in the unique watchmaking craft of the brand that makes them.

To avoid getting tricked into buying a replica watch, we should know more about these products and understand why they are such a bad choice for us. As pretty and cheap as they may be, here are three reasons why you should stay away from “fake” watches:

1. THEY’RE CHEAP FOR A REASON


Most luxury watches have an automatic mechanism. This is a must for a high-end timepiece. It is also the most expensive and complicated part of the watch, the part that replica manufacturers cannot correctly clone. They will try, but because of their cheap choice of materials, poor craftsmanship, and lack of expertise in automatic mechanisms, fake watches are unable to maintain good quality, accurate movement. This is why most replica watches do not support essential functions such as the day, date, or chronograph. Furthermore, some fakes stop while you are wearing them or lose time. Not being able to rely on your watch is obviously a huge inconvenience and an easy way to tell that your watch is a fake.

2. REPLICA WATCHES AREN’T GOOD INVESTMENTS


At first, it might feel like you are saving a lot of money by paying a fraction of the price, but once your knockoff breaks after a few weeks or months of wearing it, you instantly change your mind about this. A replica isn’t made to last. It is manufactured using low quality materials and it completely lacks any quality control. The result is an inferior product that breaks very easily. Instead of throwing your money out the window like this, you should consider buying an affordable and stylish watch such as a Hamilton, Michael Kors, Guess, Longines or Tissot, or save up for an authentic Breitling or Omega. 

3. FAKE WATCHES ARE MADE WITH LOW QUALITY MATERIALS


Another thing you must know about replica watches is that these are made with very poor quality materials. The stainless steel is light and less durable than the one used on authentic timepieces. In some cases the links of the bracelet are hollow and this makes the watch feel light and cheap. When you are dealing with a gold color watch, the original model is made from real solid gold whereas the fake one is made from solid stainless steel with gold plating. This gold plating starts to wear off after a month or so and after this happens, there’s no doubt that you’ve got a cheap, knockoff watch sitting on your wrist. 

Fake watches are known for being made of cheap materials and breaking after a short time of use. Indeed, at first they might feel luxurious and similar to the designer classic, but in the long run these knockoff pieces simply aren’t worth it. 

Have you had a bad experience with fake pieces of jewellery before? Waking up to a green ring around your wrist is never fun. Share in the comments below! 

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Why I Decided to Get a Job After I Started Freelancing

Every week when Friday rolls around, I get much too ambitious about how much work I think I can accomplish that weekend. I’m going to clean the bathroom (including the tub!), go on a long walk, write a blog post or two, update my business plan, achieve inbox zero (yeah right) and watch only that one hip documentary that teaches me something so it’s practically educational instead of just bingeing on Netflix, right?

When I realize how easy it would be to check everything off my to do list if I actually just focused and made shit happen, I decide to bribe myself into my weekend of productivity by starting with an incentive of sorts. The documentary on Netflix, naturally.

So here we are emerging on Monday with this blog post being one of the few things I have to show for this weekend (unfortunately going down the TV rabbit hole and all those hours spent watching The Good Wife and analyzing whether Julianna Margulies gets botox don’t seem to count). 

Funny gif: The Good Wife
For the record, this is exceptional eyebrow/forehead movement
Anyway, I’m happy I made myself sit down at a proper desk and get back to blogging. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve last posted here and, if there’s anything I’ve learned as a writer, it’s that it’s much easier to produce content when you’re in the habit of writing daily instead of waiting for the perfect moment of inspiration to strike.   

Last month I mentioned that I started a new job. It’s a seasonal merchandising position that has me working up to 30 hours a week as I wait for my green card for the US to be processed (no update yet). It’s nice to have some guaranteed cash flow during the holiday season, the job isn’t stressful, and I figured it looks good on my immigration application that I was able to land a position so quickly after returning to Canada. It’s important to look employable, right?

I wrapped up my latest freelance project last week and I think that’s the last one I’ll take on for 2014. I want to spend the rest of the year looking introspectively at what I’ve accomplished as a solopreneur and planning where I need to adjust so I build my business in 2015.

At a certain point we can all acknowledge that work is work, but it makes a huge difference in perspective and motivation when I’m doing that work for myself. If I don’t hustle, nobody else will. I love being passionate about what I do, but I need to take some time and plan my next moves. My ultimate goal is to become entirely self-employed (which doesn’t sound as ludicrous in blog world as it seems to in “real life”), but I have a lot of work to do before that happens.

Even though this seasonal position is taking up a solid chunk of my time, it’s also given me the proverbial kick in the pants to continue pursuing all the ideas I have buzzing around in my brain.

Inspirational quote: Don't downgrade your dream
via Rachel Gadiel

And since this blog is the telling of not only my projects but my life as well, I’d be remiss not to mention that from a personal perspective I’m still struggling with moments of grief after losing my grandmother in November. Just as I’m writing this post, The Prayer by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion, the same song that was played during her funeral, came on the radio. For some reason it was followed up by Puff Daddy’s I’ll Be Missing You, which I feel is a private cosmic joke because how can you still be sad when Puff Daddy pre-Diddy is rocking the mic. You can’t, that’s how. 

Sometimes you just have to smile. 
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Monday, November 10, 2014

A Month to Remember

Overlooking Rattlesnake Conservation Area, Ontario

Last week is one that I will always remember.

I accepted a job offer.
My husband and I got to see each other for two days.
And, the part I will never forget, my grandmother unexpectedly passed away.

It feels incredibly weird even writing that sentence.

My mom, sister, cousins, and I were holding my grandmother’s hands and with her right as it happened. The rest of the family arrived minutes later. 

Her death itself was much simpler and less dramatic than I thought it would be. Her passing was peaceful. And I’m so grateful that my sweet Granny didn’t have to be in all that pain anymore. 

I’m not a particularly religious person, but I can’t deny that I feel like her spirit is looking upon me from somewhere.  

Fall foliage in Ontario, Canada

You know what I’m especially thankful for? The fact that I was able to spend the last few weeks of my grandmother’s life with her and helping to care for her was such a privilege. She took care of all five of her grandchildren since the days we were born. I’ve grown up living next door to my Granny (she lived with my aunt, uncle, and cousins) so we’re a very close-knit family. From Monday night when we called 911 to her passing away on Friday afternoon, my grandmother had at least one family member at her side at all times.

Moving away to Ottawa or travelling wherever makes seeing family more difficult, and although I was disappointed about having to live apart from my husband, in retrospect I’m so blessed I was able to be here at home during everything. I can’t shake the notion that sometimes things really do happen for a reason. 

This afternoon it’s her funeral and tomorrow is when I start my new job. The blog is going to be a quiet for a bit longer but thank you for understanding and sticking with me through it all.

RIP my beautiful Granny. You are so loved and will always be in my heart. We miss you.

Bride and grandmother

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Is Oxblood Still a Thing?

Slouchy blazer and leather-trimmed tee from The-Lifestyle-Project.com

Lately it's been a bit difficult to feel inspired by my wardrobe. I'm paying the price for spending my summer in Tennessee indulging in deep-fried awesomeness, generously poured glasses of wine, and cheese that's described more specifically than queso amarillo (yellow cheese). It can be so hard to resist the good things in life, know what I mean? 

Not only are my clothes unfortunately fitting tighter but half of my things are still with my husband in Tennessee. My life feels so unorganized and it's hard to be creative in my closet when I'm missing a ton of my go-to pieces. I've been looking for a more professional purse/carry-all/laptop bag so over the weekend I popped into the mall to see if I could find any stylish options. 

For better or for worse it was one of those times where every store had a sale and I totally got bit by the shopping bug! With our travels, transitioning to freelancing, student loan repayments, and immigration costs for moving to the US, it's hard for me to justify spending a lot on new clothing and accessories right now.

Yet the stores kept calling my name... 

When I noticed this oxblood blazer on sale for only $25 I was immediately drawn to its slouch factor. Maroon, burgundy, oxblood... whatever you want to call it (though really, who likes picturing oxblood?), I've always been a fan of this purpley-red colour. The blazer appears quite purple in these photos but it's more reddish in real life. It wasn't until I got home that I realized how well the blazer, leather-trimmed shirt, and colour-blocked purse went with my printed pants that I wore earlier this summer. Does that happen to you too, when you accidentally buy pieces that are super matchy? 

Fall fashion: Slouchy blazer + printed ankle pants + cap toe flats


Fall fashion: Printed pants + cap toe flats + colour block tote bag

Ladies fashion: Oxblood blazer from The-Lifestyle-Project.com


I wore this outfit for a morning of errands and appointments and an afternoon spent working at a coffee shop. I can happily report that my new purse fits my planner, laptop, charger, etc. and looks a lot more polished than the canvas tote bag I was using in the summer. To dress this outfit up a notch I'd swap out the flats for cute black booties, add a deeper shade of lipstick, and amp up the jewellery.

Are you still a fan of last fall's trendy oxblood?


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Dream Vacation + $200 Cash Giveaway

The question of where I'd go on a dream vacation has always been surprisingly difficult for me to answer. I think that's what happens when your eyes are filled with wanderlust and everywhere in the world seems like an adventure waiting to happen. (Seriously, check out my wanderlist on Pinterest  it includes a little bit of everything!)

Choosing to travel to Central America earlier this year was something that happened mostly because of costs and timing. Considering that I'm based in North America, travelling south isn't too expensive. 

But there is one country I've always wanted to see. In high school I took a world religions class that started with Greek mythology. Around the same time the movie Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants came out and BAM  just like that, Greece made it to the top of my travel bucket list. (Sidenote: Out of all the girls in the movie, didn't you think Alexis Bledel would've been the one to make it big? I totally thought her Gilmore Girls star power would've taken her further.)

Cliffs of Santorini

Mykonos Sunset
images via Paper Planes
The white-washed buildings, iconic blue roofs, gorgeous scenery and amazing history make me want to visit asap. Can you imagine the snorkelling and diving to be had? It would definitely give Belize a run for its money. Alana from Paper Planes is currently travelling through Greece so I'm living vicariously through her blog posts until I save up enough money to get there myself.

Speaking of money, you know what would be really nice right now? Winning $200 cash. And that's what's going on today! I've gotten together with some awesome ladies to give you a chance to win $200 through PayPal. Enter in the rafflecopter below!

(If you follow me through Bloglovin, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or Instagram you've already got entries waiting for you!) 



Jackie ~ Our Nashville Life // Kelly ~ Six One Six
Shelly ~ Behind Blue Eyes // Cat ~ Oddly Lovely // Melany ~ Melany's GuyDlines
Desiee ~ Love Desiree // Danielle ~ The Lifestyle Project // Dee~ A Deecoded Life
Kimberly ~ p.s. remember this....// Brainne ~ Being Bracco // Helene ~ Helene in Between


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Monday, October 20, 2014

You Know You're Back in Canada When...

You Know You're Back in Canada When...

You know you're back in Canada when...
  • your friends say, "Let's go to Timmy's!" and nobody is referring to a person named Timothy
  • somebody bumps into you and both of you immediately say sorry
  • nobody makes fun of you for the way you say sorry
  • you put on your snow tires by the beginning of November
Fall in South Eastern Ontario
  • it's after 10 pm and there's nowhere to buy alcohol except for overpriced bars
  • speaking of bars, you order a glass of wine and your bill comes to $8.50 + 13% tax + 15% tip
  • there isn't a dollar menu at any of the fast food restaurants
  • you buy a book and inexplicably have to pay at least $5 more than the price that's listed on the back cover
  • really, you can just sum it up and say pretty much everything is more expensive in Canada (don't even get me started on gas prices...)
Autumn in Ontario #travel #exploreontario
Smiling because of the scenery, not for the inflated prices
  • the leaves on the trees are fiery red and orange but you know it won't be too much longer until they're all on the ground and covered by a layer of frost
  • you have to figure out how to wear a winter coat under your Halloween costume
  • you follow style bloggers in Texas who are only now starting to wear scarves and boots and you think WTF
  • when those same bloggers start talking about spring at the beginning of March and wearing dresses with bare legs you seriously consider moving to Texas
  • the highest rating you ever see in a movie theatre is 14A
  • as you're stuck in traffic on the 401 you remember the joke that there are only two seasons in Canada  winter and construction
  • your friends start planning winter getaways to Cuba before it's even Christmas
  • somebody refers to Aunt Jemima and you scoff, "Ugh, that's not even real maple syrup!"
  • you're reminded how beautiful it is to be in an area with colours like these:
Fall scenery in Ontario, Canada #photography

What are the funny quirks that remind you when you're back in your home country?


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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Don't Worry, I'm an Expert...

Silly selfies from The-Lifestyle-Project.com
The face of an expert
I'm an expert at...
  • being late to the party. This post for #Blogtember14 for example was meant to go up yesterday. Oops! The Trini blood in me runs strong
  • stuffing wine and cheese into my face
  • driving faster than the speed limit 
  • taking six freaking years to write a blog post
  • losing hair ties and bobby pins all over the world
  • reading an email, getting distracted halfway, thinking I replied, then coming back days later to realize it's sitting in my drafts
  • unpacking as soon as I get to a new vacation spot (however I'm terrible at unpacking as soon as I get home)
What does home mean to you?
Case in point: I've been in Toronto for a week and still have suitcases in my bedroom. It ain't pretty.
  • eating chocolate
  • smudging my nail polish five minutes after applying it
  • always choosing the slowest line. Whether it's at the grocery store, airport, train station... doesn't matter. If you see me waiting in line, do yourself a favour and don't stand behind me
  • thinking I'm a Mario kart champ (until the wine wears off)
  • taking a thousand pictures yet not editing any of them
  • losing said photos one way or another 
Now I know not everyone can be an expert like me (hah!) but I'd love to hear one little thing at which you'd consider yourself a pro. Share it with me in the comments! 
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I'm Wearing: This Season's Biggest Trend

Everywhere I turn I'm seeing this season's biggest trend. Can you guess what it is?

Fall fashion: Leather and leopard from The-Lifestyle-Project.com

This season's biggest trend: The Leather Slip On Sneaker from The-Lifestyle-Project.com

Leather Slip On Sneakers from The-Lifestyle-Project.com

Chambray: The ultimate transition piece for summer/fall

Target quilted leather slip on sneakers / Madewell chambray shirt / J. Crew leopard print scarf (original sold out but similar here) / Everlane tshirt / Express scuba leggings (original sold out but similar here)H&M cuff bracelet (similar here) / The It camera bag

Slip on sneakers are no longer just for the punks and hipsters. They've been all over the place this fall, so when my trusty black flats literally fell apart on me last month, I pulled into the nearest store with the intention of picking up a simple replacement ballet flat to get me through the rest of the day. 

As I turned the corner in Target these quilted leather babies caught my eye. Le Chateau and Steve Madden have some beautiful (albeit pricier) options as well but since I'm on a hard core budget right now, the $25 Target option looked pretty good to me!

I've been hesitant to try out this trend because I have big feet (size 10) so I thought they would look ginormous in slip on sneakers. Once I put them on though, and especially once I photographed them, my self-consciousness went away. They look totally proportional (to my eye at least!) and they're super comfortable. I didn't have any blisters breaking in these slip on sneakers which is awesome because I think we can all agree blisters and flats are the absolute worst! Heels I expect, but flats? Ain't nobody got time for that. 

This season's biggest trend: Leather slip on sneakers via The-Lifestyle-Project.com

I wouldn't recommend packing these slip on sneakers for long-term travel or hot days filled with walking/sight seeing because they're not particularly breathable. I imagine them getting pretty stinky with daily use in warm weather, but for casual wear they get two thumbs up from me.

PS: Remember when I talked about my trusty chambray shirt as the perfect transition piece? Don't be surprised if you see me wearing this a lot  I'm all about remixable clothing!

Linking up today's fall fashion with The Daily Tay / Helene in Between / The Pleated Poppy / Style Elixir.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Does Home Mean to You?

Last week it was finally time for me to make the 14 hour drive up to Canada. M and I have said many goodbyes throughout our periods of being in a long distance relationship but (if I'm being totally honest) I still cry like a baby every time.

As we’ve had delay after delay with our immigration case, I knew my husband and I would be facing a period of separation. We’d already spent a month apart earlier this year as I was travelling through Central America but it’s different when it’s voluntary. This time the government is forcing us to go our separate ways as my tourist visa to the States has expired. I was trying to be optimistic last month but you know what? Let’s be frank about it  having to live in a different country from your husband just sucks.  

It’s hard when there are so many answers that are unknown. When am I going to see M again? Is my immigration visa going to face another delay? Are we making enough money for it to be approved? Will we be together for Christmas?

In the soft light of day break, we hugged and kissed a tearful “see you soon”. I got in the car and watched my husband’s figure shrink in the distance as I continued to drive farther away from my love. His reflection in the rear view mirror became blurrier as my tears refused to subside. 

Rainy day in Tennessee
It probably wasn't too safe for me to be driving when my vision looked like this
Why am I being so dramatic? I chided myself. I'm going back to Canada. I'm going to be with my family and friends. I'm going home. 

The last sentence gave me a lot to think about though as I continued to drive north. What does home even mean to me?


When I'm travelling I use the word very lightly. I'm so sweaty after this hike, I can't wait to go home and shower, I say, referring to my guesthouse.

When I arrived in Tennessee earlier this summer and walked into a Starbucks with a sign on the door that said No Guns Allowed, I immediately took pause and thought, Well this isn’t like the Starbucks at home. 

When I lived in Ottawa and visited my family in Toronto, at the end of the weekend it was time to go back home ie: the apartment that M and I shared as he was finishing his university degree. It might’ve been small but it was our own.

Handmade Guatemalan ponchos
We're total nerds for buying matching sweaters in Guatemala, far less wearing them at the same time. Trust me, I was embarassed for us! haha
And now here I am sitting in my childhood bedroom. This house is familiar and comforting and home in a sense, but it’s not my home any more. My parents are getting ready to sell it next spring so when I pack up my things and leave this house, I’m leaving it forever.

2014 has been such a year of transition for me. Half of my clothes, my life, and my heart are split between Ontario and Tennessee.

The only notion of home that I keep coming back to is the one that we shared in our wedding vows: “My arms will be your shelter and my heart will be your home.”

As you grow older into adulthood, what does home mean to you? Do you use the term as interchangeably as I do?

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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Travel Route Through Central America Part II

Travel Route through Central America // The-Lifestyle-Project.com

In case you missed Part I, catch up here!

As an independent traveller, the most daunting part of planning a trip for me always starts at the very beginning: narrowing down which countries I want to visit (spoiler alert: my wanderlist includes pretty much everywhere) and then figuring out which route I’m going to take. 

I’ve been asked a lot why I chose to backpack through Central America specifically when I could’ve travelled to anywhere else. My husband was open to going everywhere but Africa (he’s deployed to several countries there and doesn’t want to revisit right now). A safari is high on my list but maybe that’s something I’ll do on my own  Africa was off the list. I’ve been to Asia before and Europe can get really pricey. What about going down south? We were planning to drive from Canada to the States anyway to see family so it’d be a perfect base point. 

When we considered budget, timing, and proximity, travelling for a few months through Central America came out on top. Last week I talked about the first half of our backpacking route that started in Honduras then continued to Belize and Guatemala. Today I’m sharing part two which includes El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. I’m looking back on the route I planned vs. the route I actually took and sharing some advice I learned along the way.

El Salvador ~ 4 days


I left off writing about my final day in Antigua, Guatemala before heading to El Salvador. Originally I’d hoped to make my way right across the country but the timing was too tight. I chose to skip Parque Nacional Los Volcanes and San Salvador in order to relax for a bit at a turtle sanctuary in El Cuco that I'd heard a lot of great things about. The beach there was amazingly empty during the week and great for beginner surfers (but not so great for paddleboarding).

Wanderlust on El Cuco Beach in El Salvador // The-Lifestyle-Project.com

Instead of taking public transportation to cross borders for the 12+ hour trip, through a ton of TripAdvisor research I found a shuttle service going from Antigua to El Cuco. Conveniently they'd partnered with the sanctuary where I was planning to stay and my $50 bus ticket also included one free night's accommodation. Score!

When I was ready to leave El Cuco, I couldn't find a boat going onward to Potosi, Nicaragua, so I decided to take a simpler route with the shuttle company and go right into Leon, Nicaragua.

Nicaragua ~ 10 days


Don't be like me and arrive in a new city at night without having accommodations booked in advance! I arrived in Leon at 10 pm with a bus full of other backpackers who hadn't secured reservations yet. On one hand, at least I had a few new friends who were in the same position as me. On the other hand, there weren't enough beds for everyone.

We pulled up on a street that had four hostels in view and I raced into one to grab their last private room with a private bathroom. The next couple of days were spent making new friends, volcano boarding, exploring the strangest museum I've ever seen, and catching gorgeous views of the largest cathedral in Central America. 

Travel route through Central America // The-Lifestyle-Project.com

From Leon I caught a ride to the airport in Managua and flew to Big Corn Island. Ferries were entirely unreliable when I was backpacking through so I splurged on a round-trip air ticket to get across Nicaragua to the Caribbean coast. Little Corn Island, where I ended up celebrating my birthday, is even farther from the mainland and thus harder to get to. 

On LCI, walking and wheelbarrows are the most common forms of transportation (yes, seriously  there aren’t any roads, far less cars). The boat ride out was absolutely terrifying and I legitimately thought we were going to capsize several times but by the grace of God I managed to make it alive. 

For the record, LCI was totally worth the trek. The water was crystal clear, diving was incredible, the beaches were quiet, and even the cockroaches didn't scare me away!

09 10