Cailin O’Neil has been away from her Nova Scotia home for 13 weeks so far this year—and she has about eight weeks of travel planned for the remaining months of 2012. That kind of schedule is just par for the course for the travel blogger, who has been sharing her adventures since 2009 through the writing at her three websites (The Taste of Travel, Travel Yourself, Cailin Travels) and through her web video series, Travel Yourself.
Her business is growing—she’s recently joined forces with Ocean Entertainment to bring her talents to television—so this was the perfect time to sit down with O’Neil and ask her about where she likes to go, how she got into video-making and what gear she recommends to take on the road.
When did you start producing travel videos and why?
I majored in film in university and started traveling a fair bit after that. I would film here and there, and one day I just decided that I wanted my own travel TV show. In August of 2009, I pulled $6,000 out of my own pocket and flew myself and a camera man to Spain for a week. We visited Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Bunol for the famous La Tomatina festival. I haven’t traveled with a cameraman since, but I still film on every trip. I’m a one-woman show, filming, hosting, editing and doing everything myself.
What was your last trip and where are you off to next?
My last trip was to Montreal for the Osheaga music festival and my next trip is to Spain for a travel blogging conference. Then I am spending October on a train going around to various countries in Europe.
How extensively have you travelled in Canada?
I have seen a fair bit of the Maritimes, Ontario and a small amount of Vancouver and St. John’s, but it wasn’t really until my cross-country road trip last summer that I felt like I really knew Canada. My friend Candice (from the blog Candice Does the World) joined me. We took the train from Halifax to Kingston, where we picked up a car from a vehicle delivery service and drove it to Vancouver. It was an epic 14-day trip that the two of us won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Not only did we get to visit every province in the country together (we’d previously been to Newfoundland and PEI), but we were able to do it for cheaper than the cost of plane tickets from Halifax to Vancouver.
What have been some of your most memorable experiences while travelling in Canada?
Tidal bore rafting the Bay of Funday tides on the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia (see the video here).Exploring Banff on my road trip across Canada—it quickly became one of my favourite places in Canada because of its pure beauty. And finally, getting screeched in in Newfoundland (see the video here).
You often travel solo. What tips do you have for eating alone while travelling?
Don’t be intimidated by it. Some people recommend bringing a book or sitting at the bar of a restaurant as most bartenders love to talk. I’ll often choose a restaurant for its wi-fi and check emails while I wait for my food and eat it. However, if you don’t want to eat alone, look for restaurants that offer communal tables. If you’re staying in a hostel, buy food and cook it in the hostel kitchen—you are sure to meet many other solo travellers that would love your company.
What about meeting people on the road? What are the best ways to do it as a solo traveller?
When I first get to a new city, I will often take a group or bus tour to get my bearings. These can be great places to meet other travellers. Also, if you are staying in a hostel, your roomates or people you meet in the lounge are often great. I have actually made some of my best friends this way.
What three things do you always travel with?
I always travel with my HD-SLR Nikon D5100 camera that I use to film all of my videos. I have a great light-weight tripod that I bought at the Canadian photo supply store Henry’s and my iPhone. Even though I might not have access to data downloads everywhere, the iPhone 4S is great for wi-fi, staying connected and even taking photographs.