Name: Lauren Yakiwchuk
Home Base: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Last Trip: 1000 Islands, Canada
Next Trip: Fort Lauderdale, Florida for TBEX and Negril, Jamaica
Website: Justin Plus Lauren – justinpluslauren.com
1. What are three things you take on every trip?
The most important thing has got to be the camera! And by camera, I mean multiple cameras. I never travel without my camera, whether it’s the DSLR, the GoPro, or the camera on my smartphone. It’s important to capture all of those special moments, particularly when you’re a travel blogger and a filmmaker, documenting all of your adventures!
I also bring snacks with me on every trip. I like to pack granola bars, trail mix, and vegan cookies from my favorite bakery. As Justin and I both follow a vegan diet, you never know when you might encounter a situation where there aren’t any vegan meals or snacks handy. For instance, if an airline forgets to bring a vegan meal, at least we’ll have our snacks as a back-up. And I always bring snacks while going hiking, kayaking, or doing any physical activities for the day.
Lastly, I always bring my sunglasses! I forgot my sunglasses once when traveling to a tropical island and it was annoying to have to replace them when I reached my destination.
2. What is your best remedy for jet lag?
I think the most common sense answer to this would be to get some rest! However, I usually want to see the place that I’m visiting right away not to waste any time. Generally, I drink a lot of coffee and power through the day, getting a good amount of rest overnight. By the next day, I’m pretty much good to go.
3. What is the first thing you do when you get to a new place?
After I locate my accommodations, I usually find a great place to have a meal. When we reached Venice, we put all of our belongings in our apartment and set out to have pizza at a place overlooking the canals. It was a really memorable way to start our trip in Italy!
4. What place has the best food? The worst food?
Even though it’s right at home, the most vegan-friendly place is Toronto! There are so many amazing vegan restaurants, veg-friendly places, and vegan bakeries popping up all the time. I feel so spoiled! However, we loved visiting Italy. It was easy to find vegan and vegetarian restaurants, especially in the major cities. And when we couldn’t find a vegan restaurant, we could easily order a veggie pizza from any place. We did have one bad food experience there – in Rome, Justin was hungry and we wandered into a random restaurant for a pizza. We carried it back to our apartment and when we opened the pizza box, our marinara pizza looked like someone had covered a pizza in ketchup! We vowed to never eat another “ketchup pizza” again by not leaving our food decisions to chance.
5. What is one place that changed your outlook on life?
Years ago, when I was still making the transition from being vegetarian to vegan, I visited Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. It was really the first time in my life that I interacted personally with farm animals like cows, pigs, and sheep. Looking into the eyes of those animals, I saw no difference between them and my pet cats and dogs back home. I learned a lot on the tour of the farm about how animals are treated in factory farms (particularly in the egg and dairy industries), in addition to what I already realized in my heart. It definitely solidified my reasons to go vegan and I never looked back! Justin and I visited Farm Sanctuary again last year where we were able to share the experience together.
6. What is your favorite travel quote?
I’m not quite sure who said it, but my favorite is: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” I would much rather travel the world and own very few possessions. I would rather live a life rich in experiences and create amazing memories all over the world.
7. Is there any music that inspires you to travel?
I definitely have some favorite bands and music that I love to bring on road trips! Some of my favorite artists right now include M83, The Raveonettes, Chrvches, and Death From Above 1979. I have an old favorite that I like to bring on road trips: Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” album. I have such fond memories listening to this when I was a kid on family road trips, and I can’t resist belting out a few songs on the drive.
8. What is your craziest true travel story?
There was the time that I ended up in the back of a police car in Ohio! It’s not as bad as it sounds. I was on a road trip to the States with some friends and my car broke down on our way home. We were stuck on a Saturday in a very small town and everything was closed! Thankfully, a police officer was driving by and spotted our car, and he arranged for a local mechanic to fix it that day so we could return home. He was so nice. At one point, the three of us girls were sitting in the back of the police car to stay cool on a hot day. We joked that at the start of the day, we definitely didn’t imagine that we would be sitting there!
9. How do you think that travel videos can be useful to travelers, even if they aren’t filmmakers themselves?
Travel videos offer a glimpse into a particular place or experience that can fully immerse you without actually being there. Photographs can only capture so much; videos much more realistically make you feel like you’re there. Travel videos can be really useful in helping to decide if you’d like to visit a certain place. I know that I’ve added many places to my bucket list based on amazing videos! Also, if you’re unable to travel at a certain time or participate in a particular activity, travel videos allow you to view that experience from your own home.
10. What is the goal/philosophy of your videos?
I like to tell a story in my videos. It will not only show you where I have visited, but it will guide you through my personal experiences. Even though many of my videos are set to music with minimal speaking on camera, I hope that you can sense the atmosphere and mood of a place.
11. What advice do you have for someone who wants to make travel videos?
Just go out there and practice! Practice using your camera, practice learning how to edit. The best way to make travel videos is to shoot lots of video—see what works, what doesn’t work. If you’re looking for a fairly foolproof camera, pick up a GoPro and head out into the world!
12. What is your best travel tip?
Definitely plan your trips ahead of time…but don’t overly-plan. Leave some free time in there as you’ll always stumble upon something new or you might want to rest and fully absorb a destination more slowly. I would also opt to spend more time in one place than hopping around to a whole bunch at once. Try to do as the locals do. And chat to some locals if you can. Those moments might end up being the most memorable ones!
Watch travel videos by Justin Plus Lauren here.