Our dream trip literally formed overnight as five women, from all over North America, chatted about traveling together on a once in a lifetime trip. But then something completely unforeseen and magical happened. We thought, "Hey, why does this have to be once a lifetime?"
Why can't we have these experiences with each other as often as we like?
How can we inspire other women to travel often with each other also?
So we schemed up a plan to encourage women to get out there and decide to travel. Of course we had to pick a destination so we could have a grand experience together and have some real practical tips to share.
Half of us love the ocean while the other half love the wilderness. Tofino in British Columbia had the perfect blend of both. Rain forests, hot springs, and whale watching OH MY!
For us in the States, we opted to drive to Vancouver instead of flying and taking a ferry across just for fun and to enjoy a road trip together. We rented an adorable Airbnb in Ucluelet, BC, about 40-minutes from Tofino, and stayed just about five days.
There is so much to see not only in Tofino and Ucluelet, but also on the road to those places. We made two stops on the drive up: first was in Coombs for lunch at The Old Country Restaurant where there were goats on the roof (yes, you read that right). The second stop was at the Kennedy River; we got out of the car after driving through an old growth forest on a super windy road and seriously considered cliff jumping while fully clothed. There was also a significant amount of laughing at the Kennedy River stop - like tummy hurting, tears streaming down your cheeks laughing.
This area of BC is famous for its beaches (they are stunning) so our first night was spent on the beach, watching the sunset.
The next day began with a float plane trip to Pretty Girl Lake. Atleo Air has a wilderness outpost on the lake and when we say it’s remote, we aren’t kidding. My cell service disappeared the moment we landed and we realized we really were cut off from everyone.
We quickly settled into camp life. Ashley set up the speakers and was in charge of the playlist, while Melissa and I went looking for the restroom. It was…rustic. Let’s call it an open-air experience and leave it at that.
After lunch we decided to hike to a creek the pilot told us about. It took us a little time and several direction changes to find the overgrown trail entrance. But our effort paid off. The trail wound through and around some stunning trees; we climbed over and under fallen trees while marvelling at the size of the giant fungi growing on their trunks. It was a great way for the girls to see the natural beauty of the west coast.
If you do nothing else in Tofino, do this: Remote Passages Kayak Excursion - 2.5 hr. Island paddle. The excursion was incredible as we paddled through the islands just before sunset. We learned about the different animals in the area, tried kelp (yes, we ate kelp) and literally paddled into the sunset. It was the perfect way to end our day.
We stayed in Ucluelet our last day, and while we didn’t spend as much time there as Tofino, we loved it. Before driving home, we treated ourselves to a nice brunch at Zoe’s Bakery and Cafe and much-needed massages at Nurture Day Spa.
Our time at Pretty Girl Lake ended with us learning two important lessons when it comes to traveling, and we would like to leave them with you. It has to do with communication and lack thereof.
We took a seaplane to spend a night at Pretty Girl Lake, a remote wilderness camp, next to the Strathcona Park. When we say remote, we mean remote. Zero service and no way to communicate with civilization except for our SOS device.
While at Pretty Girl Lake, we had a slightly traumatic experience while waiting for our early morning pick up where we thought there was a chance that the seaplane had either forgotten us, or couldn’t make it in through the heavy fog to get us. We sat on that dock waiting for nine and a half hours until the seaplane finally got us.
It was dramatic and harrowing at the time, however I’m glad it happened. It allowed us to really get to know each other so much better. We were all friends before this trip but after this trip, I felt like I was saying goodbye to sisters at the airport.
So the two lessons we learned after this situation are:
Lesson #1: Safe isn’t sexy, until it is. Get yourself a device that would allow you to communicate in emergency situations.
Lesson #2: Be flexible. Things do not go as planned when you travel. Find the fun in the unexpected and make the most of it all.
We’d like to leave you with one last tip. This is the key to being able to travel and go on amazing adventures: prioritizing.
Every person on the planet has spending habits that reflect the things that are most important to them and the things that are least important to them. For us, travel is a huge priority for us. And so our spending (and saving) reflects that. We would rather drive older cars and have less stuff so that we can do more of what matters to us - experiencing the world and all of the beauty that it offers.
Sometimes, that looks like big amazing trips to far-off places - and sometimes that looks like taking a road trip across the country with a car full of reusable water bottles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The coolest thing about adventure is that it’s accessible to everyone.
Travel doesn’t have to be luxurious to be meaningful. In fact, I would argue that some of the most incredible travel experiences we’ve had have been the rough-and-tumble, learn-as-you-go kind. Adventure doesn’t require a giant budget; it just requires and open heart and a willingness to take some risks.
If you would like to see more from our trip, we’d love for you to check out the video from our time in Tofino.
The Girlfriends Guide to Adventure (GGA) is a group of like minded women, who all share a love for travelling, inspiring girlfriends to take adventures together. GGA is a travel blog committed to providing the best tips on traveling and adventure.