Dawn Nicholson

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Canadian family of 5 writing about 🌎World Family Travel🌍 with our 3 kids. We focus on adventure and budget travel.

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Wishing you love, light and happiness today and always❤️. 2023 was a pretty awesome year for us with so many adventures as we travelled this beautiful world for six months together as a family. I love the process of writing my annual travel in review post and reflecting and savouring the experiences and places we visited. This year there were so many “bests” to choose from - the link is in my bio. Off to bed..tomorrow we have a very early flight..squeezing one last trip into 2023! #traveltheworld #travelingfamily #travelfamily

Back on the grid after a fabulous 6 day backpacking trip in the Canadian Rockies. I love the mountains and one day will find a way to be here full time! This was a mums trip to Assiniboine with a good friend of mine. We battled achy muscles, smoky skies, cold nights with frost and snow😬, but had the best time. We covered 86+ km, saw a Grizzly mama and cub, met lots of lovely people and made so many great memories❤️. #assiniboine #banffnationalpark #canadianrockies #backpackingtrip #mountainlife #mountainlover #banfflakelouise #explorecanada #natureisawesome #campinglife #travelcanada #canada🇨🇦

After 6 months away, we are back in Canada and we frequently get asked “what was your favourite place?”. Which is an impossible question 🤪. How can we choose between watching a volcano erupt in Guatemala, strolling the colourful streets of Colombia, experiencing the energy of a Moroccan Medina, dining outdoors in a Greek taverna, touring a Cold War era bunker in Albania, hut to hut hiking in Italy and countless other stand out highlights. Just thinking about each place we visited brings a huge smile to my face. Coming home after an extended absence is always interesting and at times I feel disoriented and experience reverse culture shock. I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to have this trip with my family, I feel so much love for Canada, and I feel reflective about what parts of this trip I want to keep with us as we orient back into our regular lives. Just don’t ask me to pick a favourite place🤣! #fulltimetravel #travelfamily #takeyourkidseverywhere

On Instagram I read another family posting that they didn’t like the Dolomites because they found it too busy. Normally we avoid busy destinations but we absolutely loved the Dolomites and didn’t find it too crowded in July. We did a couple of the most popular hikes but skipped some of the really popular places like Lago di Braies and Tre Cime - many you have to arrive super early for, pay expensive parking/toll roads and of course, put up with crowds. There are so many amazing places to visit in the Dolomites; you don’t need to visit the “top 10” to have a fantastic time. If you are choosing between July and August, choose July, since many Italians go on vacation in August. And if you can go in September, even better. June is dicey if you want to hike at elevation since there can still be snow. Like so many places in the world, the Dolomites’ popularity is a blessing and a curse to the region. We occasionally shared the trails with others (and a few times with too many) but for the most part it didn’t take away from our love for these amazing mountains. #dolomites #europeinsummer #travelitaly #mountainlovers

Do you have any questions about doing the Alta Via 2 in Italy? Put them in the comments and I will be happy k help! Day 3 and 4 were fantastic - we stayed in two great refugios, walked through breathtaking landscapes and managed to escape the rain! The highlight was a little detour from the AV2 to Piz Boe (summit) at 3100m and the small and cozy Refugio Capanna Fassa. #dolomites #altavia2 #hikinginitaly #hikingwithkids #hikingadventures #capannafassa #pizboè

The grand finale of our travels this year is 7 days of hut to hut hiking on the Alta Via 2 route in the Dolomites. Day 1 and 2 have been magical - arriving at the huts and having drinks and then delicious Italian multi-course meals feels so luxurious compared to the camping we are used to. The views are incredible and it has been very doable with the kids. Of course there have been bumps - yesterday we hid from a lightning storm, rain and hail in a not quite a cave (more like an overhang) and got soaked (memories of our cave lighting experience from last week), but we are building grit right!?! #altavia2 #hikingwithkids #epichikes #dolomites #outdoorkids

I cringe re-reading my post from yesterday which ended with me saying I hope I chose the right next via Ferrata for us. I planned two for the day and midway up the first the kids got scared and didn’t want to continue (they don’t like the heights and exposure). This was the opposite of how I was feeling - loving every minute. Paul and I continued on and then we had a nice lunch at the Refugio before Paul and I tackled via Ferrata #2 for the day. Which ended up being a very scary 2.5 hours and an important reminder that the weather in the mountains can turn on a dime. Halfway up, we started to hear thunder and it started sprinkling - we climbed faster. The storm came quickly and luckily we were able to duck into a sheltered cave with some other climbers. What proceeded was a super close and intense thunder and lightning storm, with hail for awhile and pouring rain - which we waited out in the cave. The kids were in the Refugio and were worried sick about us thinking we were on the wall. Once the rain stopped, we were able to get in touch with the kids and were told we had 30 min before the next band of storm came through. It was decision time: should we continue up (but we would be exposed if the storm came) or down climb to the start. The amazing travelers in the refugio that were comforting the kids, recommended down climbing. With shaking arms and everyone watching from the refugio we Down climbed on the slippy rocks as fast as we could. It was a scary and Adrenalin packed day. We realized how lucky we were to make it down safe as we saw a heli evacuation of climbers that got electrocuted in the storm on a via Ferrata on the ridge above us (thankfully they survived). Feeling super thankful🙏. #viaferrata #dolomites #mountains #keepingitreal #storm

The via ferratas of the Dolomites was a huge part of the appeal of this trip. In North America we are used to guided ferratas, but in the Dolomites there are over 700 ferratas that you can do independently. Many of them were used during WW1. They are totally doable with older kids and you can rent Ferrata gear throughout the Dolomites. After doing a guided via Ferrata in Kosovo, we felt confident to take on some of the iron paths of the Dolomites. We had an incredible day on Gran Cir that left me eager to do more and try some of the more challenging ferratas. I love the combination of hiking and climbing: it feels like the ultimate adventure. But different members of the family have different preferences and comfort with exposure and heights so finding the right route for the whole family takes a lot of planning. Hopefully I found the right one for today🤞. #viaferrataitaly #dolomites #viaferrata #ilovemountains #myhappyplace #hikingwithkids

North Macedonia was the 4th country we visited in the Balkans. Did you know they changed the name of their country in 2018, adding “North” as a compromise with the Greeks? The capital, Skopje, is quirky and the free walking tour was the perfect way to learn about the history of the country and city. But Lake Ohrid was our favourite part - peaceful and quiet and with beautiful Ottoman architecture. We don’t travel to count countries, but the Balkans do allow you to rack up countries quickly! #northmacedonia #macedonia #ohrid #skopje

Kosovo is the 2nd youngest country in the world, declaring its independence in 2008. It is recognized as an independent country by over half of the UN member states but often sees an * besides its name. We spent just over 24 hours in the country - in Peja and Prizren, which was just long enough to realize we should have planned to stay longer. Why? It has gorgeous Ottoman cities, amazing outdoor adventure activities, mountains (you know we love mountains!) and best of all - the cheapest prices in the Balkans. We will have to come back to properly do the country justice. You can start the Peaks of the Balkans hiking route from Kosovo, which is in our 5 year plan. What’s in your 5 year plan??? #kosovo #balkanstravel #balkans #prizrencity #prizren

We love mountains, but as budget travelers, visiting the mountains in Western Europe during the summer is a no-no. That is until we discovered the mountains of the Balkans. There are so many incredible peaks and National Parks to discover with way less people and way cheaper. Durmitor in Montenegro was the latest National park we fell in love. The unique rock formations, lush green alpine, and awesome trails were epic. We only wish we had more time there! You don’t have to go to Switzerland for a European mountain holiday - Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo all have incredible mountains to discover! #durmitor #durmitornationalpark #travelmontenegro

I made the mistake of thinking Kotor was all about the old town, but there is so much more to love about the Bay of Kotor. We loved driving along the waterfront roads and seeing the vacationers sitting out by the water, swimming and enjoying everything summer has to offer. The picture of the older man in his swim trunks with his newspaper sitting in a chair in the late afternoon, children jumping off the jetties, families dining out at waterfront restaurants..real, regular life. Sure, the Old Town was beautiful, but I love seeing the places where regular real life happens. #kotor #montenegro #bayofkotor

These last few days we have all learned so much about the Balkans region and Albania specifically. The kids are surprised how little they have learned about the Cold War in school in Canada. Ella really only learned about it when she was studying abroad in France in her classes there. And even Paul and I felt like we didn’t learn about the Cold War in school. Luckily, we are on a field trip where they can learn first hand. We found the capital of Albania, Tirana fascinating. The free walking tour was an excellent intro to the region, the communist era, and Albanian culture. At the bunkers that have been turned into museums we learned even more about the history, the Cold War and life in Albania during this time. You definitely don’t have to be in a school to learn!

CRETE - it won’t be surprising to hear that we found so many beautiful beaches and gorgeous turquoise water on this island. If you visit Crete, make sure you rent a car so you can explore the beaches. It wasn’t the most popular ones that we loved the most, but the quiet, sleepy and unique ones. . . . . . #crete #greekislands #greekbeaches #beachlife #beachvibes #beachfinds #greecestagram #greeceislands #greece🇬🇷 #greece_is_awesome #cretegreece #crete🇬🇷 #visitcrete #cretebeaches

2020 Year in Review

We spent two glorious months exploring Alberta and BC, spending lots of time with my brother and his family and lost count of all of the amazing hiking and biking adventures we had. This Western Canadian road trip was meant to be the beginning of our year-long road trip to Central America and while we were sad that our year-long trip was postponed, we felt so lucky to be able to do this portion. When planning our summer road trip we knew we wanted to spend time relaxing on one of Vancouver Island’s Gulf Islands. We absolutely loved our time out there in the summer and we loved being able to spend so much time with my brother’s family.

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