Kelly Dunning and Lee Carter set out from their respective homes (she from Canada and he from the UK) to see other parts of the world in 2009, met in New Zealand and eventually decided to make a nomadic life together, working on the road and living “with no other possessions than the ones that we carry in our backpacks”.
Now, these self-described romantic partners, business partners and travel partners run a freelance writing business and their blog Global Goose Travel, where they share travel tips and stories, most recently from what they’ve coined their Cross Canada Adventure, a backpacking trip from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland.
Kelly, a native of rural northern Alberta who moved to Vancouver Island as a teenager, spoke to Where.ca from Virginia where the couple is cooling their heels for a few months while visiting family. In June they’ll be on the road again, heading to Southeast Asia.
When, exactly, did you launch Global Goose?
Global Goose was launched at around 3 am after a night of wild brainstorming about a year ago, in the spring of 2011, while we were living in England.
Why did you decide to create Global Goose?
We wanted a place to chronicle our travels so that we would have a record of all of our experiences during this nomadic part of our lives and so that friends and family could keep up with us. We also wanted to be a resource for other travellers out there by providing information, tips and inspiration.
The Web site is called Global Goose because of the way that geese fly in a V formation, the lead goose cutting through the wind resistance making it easier for the other geese to follow behind it. When a traveler visits a destination and then shares their tips with others, they are doing the job of that lead goose in the V by making it easier for all of the other travellers who follow them.
When and how did travel for leisure become travel for a living for you?
While we were living in England, Lee and I set up a business that took my passion and talent for writing and turned it into a way to make money while we are on the road. Combined with picking up the odd job working abroad, we created a lifestyle that allowed us to be able to travel permanently while still bringing in money. Read about our first steps into this lifestyle as we travelled in Portugal.
What did you miss most about Canada on your trips abroad?
I miss my family and friends most of all. Also, I pine for Tim Hortons, Kraft Dinner and the Rocky Mountains. I listen to CBC radio podcasts no matter where I am in the world when I want feel at home.
Tell us about the Cross Canada Adventure.
Before we set off from Victoria my parents asked, “So what is your plan for getting across Canada?” and we said, “We are going to take the ferry tomorrow to Vancouver.” They said, “And then what?” and we said, “We have no idea!” All we knew is that we would think about that next step after we got to Vancouver.
We had no overall plan for the trip and no deadline for getting across the country. We look each leg of the journey as it came, figuring out how to get from point A to point B and then from point B to point C until we eventually made it across the entire country. We stayed in some places for a few days and other places for two weeks. In a lot of ways, this flexibility made our trip even better. If we had rigid plans, we couldn’t have stayed a few extra days with our CouchSurfing hosts in Corner Brook, Newfoundland so they could take us up to Gros Morne National Park on the weekend. If we found cheap last-minute bus or train fares we had the freedom to leave the next day.
All the while I kept up my freelance writing; working on trains and buses and in hostel rooms, coffee shops and libraries. It took us three months to get across the country, but I feel like there were at least a year’s worth of adventures crammed into that time.
Did you discover anything about your home country that you didn’t know? (Or did you learn anything by travelling with someone new to Canada?)
It was really interesting traveling across Canada with Lee, because I got to see my home country through new eyes. Things that are normal to me, like having deer walk through your backyard, winter power outages, or jumping into a snowdrift, were all first-time experiences for Lee.
Also, before this trip I had seen some of Canada but never visited Saskatchewan, Manitoba, or any of the Maritime provinces so I was seeing a lot of the country for the first time. I discovered that I have a deep love for the friendly culture, lively music and art scene and beautiful scenery of eastern Canada.
What was one of the best things you ate on your cross-Canada trip?
I think Lee would say that the hot dogs at 7Eleven were a highlight of his travels in Canada. Convenience stores like 7Eleven don’t really exist in the UK and Lee thought it was fantastic to be able to buy a juicy hot dog and load it up with cheese, chili, olives, pickles, onions and much more for only a few dollars.
(In Moncton, New Brunswick, Lee decided to take on an eating challenge at the local sports bar. Four jumbo ballpark hotdogs, a pile of French fries and onion rings, and way too much pulled pork later, he admitted defeat. It remains one of the most random things we did on our trip.)
Other culinary highlights of the trip were massive BBQ Alberta beef steaks, poutine and Montreal smoked meat in Quebec and a traditional Jiggs dinner in Newfoundland on Christmas Day. Lee also tried moose for the first time in St. John’s, fried up by the lovely Candice Walsh of Candice Does the World.
Of course, we can’t forget the hundreds of donuts, bagels, cups of chilli and mugs of coffee and tea we ate at Tim Hortons all across the country!
What was one of your most memorable experiences on that trip?
So many things happened on our odyssey across Canada that it is hard to choose just one! There are a few moments that stick out in our memories:
• When we went canoeing on the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta, and Lee and my Uncle Denny decided to tackle the rapids and went for an unexpected swim in the icy water.
• The night that we saw the Northern Lights from the observation car of our Via Rail train from Winnipeg to Toronto.
• The day that we ended up in Truro, Nova Scotia, where the locals obviously don’t see very many young people backpacking because everyone we encountered assumed we were homeless!
• The morning that we woke up at sunrise just as the train was pulling through Campbellton, New Brunswick. The sun was coming up over the water, the autumn leaves were in full bloom and it was the first time we had seen the New England–style cottages of the Maritimes. We both gazed out the window in bleary-eyed awe at this lovely part of Canada, so different than anything else we had seen so far.
• The day that we celebrated my birthday by going to Niagara Falls, only to return to Toronto that evening and party all night long at the all-night Nuit Blanche arts festival!
These are just a few of the many memorable moments of our trip, as there are too many to list!
What’s in the works for your next trip?
In late June we will be flying to Bangkok, Thailand, to embark on our next big travel adventure. We plan to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and several other countries in Southeast Asia. Our travel plans are flexible so we are not sure how long we will spend in each destination or where we will end up, which is part of the fun!