The Moose Travel Network is a Canadian tour company that buses young and “young-at-heart” backpackers to locales throughout Canada and the U.S. for adventures like sea kayaking in Cape Breton; luge-ing in Mont Tremblant; horseback riding in Banff; and bungee jumping in Whistler.
Brian Lihou has worked for Moose Travel East as a guide since 2007. He started guiding tours in Niagara Falls and Algonquin Provincial Park and graduated to larger tours through Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and the U.S. He’s on the road with Moose Network tours almost nonstop between May and October and often in his “off-season” as well.
How did you get started as a guide for Moose Travel Network?
After growing weary of my day job in construction, I decided to shake things up and head to Australia for some adventure. I joined a backpacker tour in Australia with a company called Groovy Grape. I had such a great time on that tour that I decided to do some research to see if there were any Canadian companies offering a similar concept. I found Moose Travel Network through a Google search, faxed off a resumé that day and have been happily employed by Moose ever since.
Did you have a background in travel before you started with the company?
My only background in travel before starting at Moose was my three-month backpacking trip in Australia and family vacations to Florida and northern Ontario.
What makes the Moose Travel Network different from other Canadian adventure tour companies?
Moose Travel Network is one of a kind in Canada. We are the only travel company that offers door-to-door transportation to so many destinations, stopping along the way to participate in tons of Canadian adventure activities. We’ve scouted out the best hostels in Canada, our guides are always enthusiastic and our groups are never too big that we can’t foster an amazing and intimate atmosphere. Lifelong friendships are made on the Moose bus!
In your experience, why do travellers choose Moose tours rather than just going it independently?
There are many reasons: cost (it’s very expensive to travel Canada by car), convenience (door-to-door drop-offs), safety (not everyone is comfortable with driving or hitchhiking). But above all, to meet people! As I mentioned before, the Moose bus is a great place to make new friends. We even know of a few happily married couples who found each other on one of our tours.
Would someone over the age of 35 feel out of place on a Moose tour?
Absolutely not! The majority of our clients are between 18 and 30 but we’ve had travelers of many different eras join our tours. I personally remember a 78-year-old man from France who had more energy than the entire group. He was keen to do everything! It’s about being young at heart and having an adventurous spirit—that’s all!
What have been a few of your most memorable moments on a Moose tour in Canada?
Here are a few:
- A couple years ago at the Wolf Den hostel near Algonquin Park, my group and I were lucky enough to get an impromptu performance by a South African band called Nomfusi & the Lucky Charms. They just happened to be staying at the hostel and while they were in the middle of cooking dinner, they found a few moments to perform for us. They were truly amazing!
- Last summer, we went for a beautiful midnight swim under shooting stars in the lake behind the Mt. Tremblant hostel and then we warmed up beside the fire with s’mores. What could be better?
- The sum of all the quiet moments I’ve gotten to share in observation of Canada’s landscapes and wild animals: black bears, deer, moose, beavers, seals, whales, foxes, coyotes, eagles, herons, turtles…just to name a few.
Is there anything you’ve learned about Canada that you didn’t know before you started with the Moose Travel Network?
I never knew there was such an abundance of marine life in the St. Lawrence river: beluga whales, minke whales and even blue whales come into the river near Tadoussac, Quebec.
I’ve learned a lot about Quebec’s heritage. I completed French immersion in 2002 but had little opportunity to practice until I became a Moose guide. Speaking with the Quebecois in their tongue has improved my language skills significantly and I have been rewarded with the discovery of a very rich and vibrant culture that exists in that province of Canada.
There’s an abundance of beautiful ocean beaches on the east coast, and they’re not that cold!
What are five things you always pack on an adventure or backpacking trip?
Swiss Army knife—always useful, usually for the corkscrew; mini flashlight for coming back to the dorm when everyone’s asleep; sketch pad/travel diary/notebook (you will surely be inspired to write something); shower flip-flops; enough clean underwear between washes!