About Us

We’re Dean Johnston and Laynni Locke, a Canadian couple that hit the road in 2008 and now can’t imagine doing anything different. Having visited 76 different countries, all 7 continents and more varieties of outhouse than we ever cared to experience, we hope you enjoy our collection of trip stories, destination guides, hiking recaps and travel advice from around the world.

It all started with a Banks beer. Well, more specifically, my passion for travel all started with a three-week jaunt to Barbados right after I graduated from the U of S (where I drank a lot of Banks beer). Sure, I’d been to the States a few times as a kid (isn’t Disneyland a rite of passage for any lucky Canadian child?), as well as Mexico (and what teenage kid hasn’t spent time browsing leather jackets on the streets of Tijuana?) but it was that June in Barbados with three university friends that really ignited my somewhat surprising new loves of both travel (which endured) and calypso music (which didn’t).

After that the trips became more frequent, eventually leading to a seven-month “honeymoon” in Southeast Asia that introduced Laynni and I to both culture shock and traveller’s diarrhea. Upon returning home we rejoined the Saskatoon workforce and set our minds toward the ten-year plan of giving it all up to travel once again. Since much of my job as a financial planner involved retirement planning, it wasn’t long before we had meticulously mapped out our own version of “retirement”, albeit one that would start at 35 instead of the more customary 55+. Fast forward to 2008 and thanks to some good fortune – a position with one of the more successful financial advisors in the city, Laynni’s practical frugality, some profitable returns in the real estate market – and our ten-year plan had been whittled down to seven. For the second time in our short careers we were leaving behind jobs that seemed too good to quit for destinations unknown and even more uncertain futures.

Being a financial planner and certifiable numbers guy, embracing transience and unpredictability doesn’t come naturally. However, over time we’ve learned to be as financially responsible as possible in the way we structure our annual travel schedule, while still allowing us to do things such as gaze at the world’s tallest mountain after spending an entire morning vomiting in a frigid Nepalese guesthouse, or learn just how heavy a Kazakh hunting eagle is when perched on my arm, or enjoy the view of a Balinese rice harvest from the comfort of our bed. Now, over 13 years later, we are still spending most of each year travelling (summer in Saskatchewan is still too much fun to pass up, and missing Christmas at home is obviously unthinkable), thanks in varying parts to careful planning, cooperative financial markets, trips favouring good value destinations and steadfastly resisting any urge to invest in foreign vacation property. Recently we have also been saving money by spending two to three months of each year ensconced in an apartment on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala (same great rental apartment, same morning swim routine, but at least one new fly-swatter annually). Plus, we have taken these twin opportunities of time and topic to spend more time writing travel books, articles and blogs, both documenting our travels and providing some supplementary income.

Maybe the clearest lesson we’ve learned over these years of wandering is that travel bucket lists are impossible to complete, as we can’t seem to stop adding new destinations. Plus, these days we spend much of our time returning to places we’ve already been, but enjoy so much we can’t help but keep going back. Bangkok isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but can be terrific in short doses between long stretches on one or another of Thailand’s sublime islands. Our devotion to hiking can be traced in large part to three separate trekking visits to the breathtaking Nepal Himalaya. Incomparable, and one of the cheapest destinations on earth. Morocco offers all the exotic splendour of the Middle East without the inconveniently deadly conflicts. The list is long and constantly changing. A languid afternoon spent sipping Pacífico beer on an endless Mexican beach. Patagonia. Bruges. One specific hammock on one specific lake in Guatemala.

Some people love travel as much as we do, while others will question either our sanity or our sobriety. Ultimately that is the true beauty of travel, however, the fact that it is such a personal experience. Every journey is coloured by the circumstances and experiences of the moment, from a new friend who completely changes your perspective to weather luck to chance encounters with a naked man offering free massages and tarot readings. The important thing is to pack your bags, hit the road and find out for yourself.

4 Comments

  1. Fiona again.
    Funny, but I picked you as a writer, before I read the biog stuff at the top of your website!
    Caustic description and wit, coupled with an imaginative way of covering a travel story was evident in your Galapagos blogs.
    Have seen your books for sale in the travel section of Readings in Lygon St, Carlton, Australia.
    Let us know if you guys are headed to Australia, more specifically Ballarat. Can meet for dinner and show you the local hangouts. Know Melbourne inside out too!
    Also visit my fionaludbrook.com website and have a look at my “traveller profile series”!
    It seems you have an excellent sense of humour and may well recognise some of the stereotyped travellers I profile.
    My own website is much broader than yours. Head to the travel entries if you are not interested in feminist analysis or how to market your house and achieve the best price. or what gifts to buy, should you ever get stuck!
    I must say, I found the David Attenborough narrative that kept playing in my head as I journeyed around the Galapagos as annoying as it was useful.
    Have vowed to give up documentaries and reading forthwith!
    I dont want to find even one more place to add to my bucket list!
    I don’t want to find one more species I really must see in the wild….
    My problem is, not only am I now writing up my own experiences in the hope that someone else find them informative, or entertaining or both, I am now equally addicted to wildlife photography.
    My carry on luggage is filled with heavy camera lenses and other photographic equipment.
    I am truly addicted to travel!
    More specifically to wildlife photography and wild places, then again I can be happy hanging out in Europe or Vancouver a while!
    Thanks for a refreshingly entertaining website Dean!
    At least I know where to visit when I cant afford a plane ticket….and need some inspiration for my own “work”; your website!
    Cheers
    Fiona

  2. Thanks for the kind words, it is always great to hear from fellow writers. Checked out your website and you weren’t kidding, you cover a really wide variety of topics! Only scratched the surface so far but I see a lot of interesting stuff, and was really impressed by some of the photos. Looking forward to checking out more…

  3. Thanks Dean,
    I have discovered a few typos and spelling slips when reading over some of my blogs.
    I do edit, but some manage to slip through!
    Do forgive and thanks for your reply!
    Happy writing and travels!
    Fiona

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