Come with Me to Cuba!
Sep22

Come with Me to Cuba!

As some of you know, Jeff Bartlett and I are running a photography tour to Cuba this December. We’re almost nearing the deadline for participants to join, so this post is a bit of a reminder that if you’re interested, we need to hear from you soon. If you haven’t heard about our travel photography workshop in Cuba yet, be sure to head over to this page for information. Flights to Cuba The great news is that there are now direct flights coming from the United States to Cuba. You can fly into Santa Cruz and Camaguey from either New York or Miami now, which is fantastic. What’s even better is that the flights are extremely cheap. JetBlue, for example, has launched flights as cheap as $99. Though the tour starts in Havana, we can definitely arrange transport from either one of the cities in Cuba that the American flights come from. Can Americans Come to Cuba? Absolutely. When you leave the United States, you’ll be given a form asking for your reason for visiting Cuba. Since you’re not allowed, as an American, to be in Cuba as a tourist, you’ll need to fill one of the other categories. One of those categories is education, and since our workshop is of educational nature, you have every right to be there. Moreover, you might be asked if you will be having “peer-to-peer” activities with locals. And, you’ll be staying with locals, and even have a local photographer teaching you his skills one day. It should also be noted that since 2008, not a single American has been reprimanded for visiting Cuba in any capacity. Is the Trip Guarenteed Yes. As of right now, we’ve reached the minimum of what we need to run the workshop. Book Now If you’re interested in booking, please send us an email to brendanvanson (at) gmail (dot) com. I’m happy to discuss the next step and organize payment. For more information on the photography workshop, or others we’ll be running around the world visit here. Some Photo Teasers I thought I’d leave you with a couple photo teasers from Cuba. It’s such a wonderful place to photograph! Book Now We need to have a firm figure on the number of participants by mid-October, so if you’re interested, please get in touch as soon as...

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A Week in Saskatchewan
Sep21

A Week in Saskatchewan

Every Canadian has their ideas of what Saskatchewan is. We all have our own pre-developed views of what it looks like, and what it feels like. But, very few actually give it the time it deserves for you to move past the stereotypes and truly start figuring out what Saskatchewan is all about. I’ll be honest. I was one of those people who had not given the province a chance. I’d seen parts of it. I’d seen the prairies. And, the rumours are true: it’s very flat. But, thanks to a week-long photography trip with Tourism Saskatchewan and my buddy Jeff Bartlett, I got the chance to dig a bit deeper into the province most assume is just 99% covered in wheat, and the other 1% in grain elevators. Grasslands National Park East Block If I’m being quite honest with you, I’d never even heard of Grasslands National Park. Obviously, I didn’t know that there was also an east block to it. Jeff and I made the mistake in not doing our hard research, too. When we got near the park, we realized there was no restaurant, grocery store, or even fuel station in or near the park. We had to make a massive detour to find food, and stocked up for the 3 days we’d be in the park. After a night of pretty beautiful skies, we set out on a bit of an adventure in the park. We headed out on a hike into a place called The Valley of 1000 Devils. This part of the park is home to some beautiful wild badlands that are relatively untouched. It’s beautiful in there, and there’s even quick sand – yes, it’s a real thing. That night, we wild camped in the badlands. And, yes, it was wild. Just as the sun was about to set, we got hammered by one of those epic prairie storms. We were soaked, destroyed, and cold. But, we trooped through it, as the light following the storm was amazing enough to make you forget that all your clothes are so wet they weight 20 pounds. Grasslands National Park West Block After our couple nights in the east block, we headed over to the West Block of Grasslands National Park. This part of the park is older than the other, and the infrastructure is better. But, there still wasn’t showers, or a restaurant. So, we were out in the wild for a bit longer. For me, the highlight of this park was the prairie dogs. There were hundreds upon hundreds of them scattered all over the fields, popping up curiously and constantly. There are...

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A Week in The Alberta Rockies
Sep14

A Week in The Alberta Rockies

I keep promising that I’m going to get caught up, but then I never do. So, I’m going to stop promising, and just roll out these posts as they come.  I’m trying to get back to the much more stress-free version of myself I was a couple years ago.  I don’t know when I became such a work-addict unable to step away from it.  But, I’ve been doing my best to do so more often lately. I really have started to feel like work has gotten in the way of my personal life. I also feel like the focus on “me” in these blogs has made me way too self-indulgent.  I don’t like that. So, it’s time to start working on me again, for real.  Travel used to be such a great tool for personal growth. But, since I left Africa I don’t think I’ve done much growth, and may have even regressed a bit. Hopefully, the realization of these things will start to put me back on the right path. But, it’s going to take time to regain the humble, positive, and thoughtless person I believe still sits within my skin somewhere. Anyways, 200 word intros are too long. Let’s get into the travel. Coming Home After our pretty incredible RV trip across Canada with GoRVing Canada, I got to show Erin (from The World Wanderer) a little bit of my home province.  I was so excited to be back. Being home has a way of grounding me.  I’m not sure if it’s the mountains, the open spaces, or the presence of friends and families, but it always seems to bring me back to earth.  I don’t think I’ll even come back to Alberta to live, my lifestyle would make it too hard to be based there, but my heart will always be there. My Favourite Places on the Planet Everyone is proud of where they’re from, I think.  I meet people in some of the most below average places on the planet, and they all rave about their home as if it’s the best place in the world.  So, I might be a bit biased to say it, but The Canadian Rockies really are home to my favourite places on the planet. We only had a short amount of time to explore them, so I really had to pick and choose the highlights to show Erin.  Obviously, I would have loved to get her off the beaten path and to some of the true gems in the mountains that so few people get to, but with only a week we stuck to the more classic locations.  One...

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Driving an RV Across Canada
Sep01

Driving an RV Across Canada

In my last post, I talked about how I was focusing on my vlog and as a result I’d be doing weekly round-up blog posts.  It turns out, though, that I’m quite terrible at keeping up on the weekly blogs too.  I think, to be honest, the more I let things slide, the more things get away from me. So, I’m sorry about the delay getting this article about driving an RV across Canada up.  I swear I’m going to try to be better at keeping you up to speed from now on. I was working on a project dubbed: #bringbackwildhood with GoRVing Canada.  The idea of this project was to try to recapture the excitement of a classic summer vacation camping trip – but, done with style.  I took part in the project alongside Erin from The World Wanderer (check out her post on the trip here).   Though we were suggested that we should take an RV on a bit of a local adventure in the Toronto area, we thought something a bit more epic was in order. It was there than an epic plan to drive an RV all the way across Canada was born. But, we hit a roadblock because it was actually August long weekend when we wanted to do the trip. There weren’t any RVs available. Thankfully, the amazing people at Leisure Vans came through.  They personally drove an RV out from Manitoba to us for our trip.  In fact, they gave us their 2017 model called “The Wonder” which was amazing.  It really became home on wheels. Crossing the Shield and Avoiding Murderers After departing from Toronto, and spending a night in Parry Sound, Ontario, we made the push across the Great Canadian Shield.  I’ve done this section before on the Via Rail train, but have never driven it. I was impressed by how beautiful it all was. It was far more hilly, and the roads far more enjoyable to drive than I expected. One thing I loved about having the RV was the lack of stress around where to spend the night.  For example, when crossing Ontario, we got into our destination extremely late, and just pulled into a parking area of a campsite and crashed for the night – all with the comfort of a bathroom and a luxury home.  Of course, I might have been the only one not feeling stressed about sleeping out in the forest.  Erin, from just outside the hard streets of NYC, was oddly worried about murderers. Check out her hilarious discussion in the vlog below. Oh, The Prairies If there was one part of the...

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Round Up: Albert, My Jersey Girl, and The Cutest Human Beings in the World
Jul19

Round Up: Albert, My Jersey Girl, and The Cutest Human Beings in the World

This is the first installment of the new format on my blog.  Last week, when I announced that there would be a change in the format, the response on social media was very positive  I think people really like having a space where I share, as personally as possible, what’s going on in my life.  And well, yeah, you can always go to my vlog to watch the videos, it’s nice to have a space where things can be rounded up on a weekly basis. I think it gives people who might not have time to check out the vlog every single day a place to come and pick and choose through my previous week’s adventures.  Thus, this is essentially the first week of the round-up style travel blog.  And, of course, if you want, you can always follow me on social media like instagram and snapchat (both brendanvanson) to really stay in touch. That New York City Skyline and Albert I got a new tripod sent to me a couple days ago from my friends at 3 Legged Thing.  Albert, which is their new premier tripod is my latest set of sticks.  To test Albert a bit, I decided to take him out to Jersey City and photograph the skyline of New York City. The quick review on Albert is that it is the best tripod I’ve ever used.  I have used two other 3 Legged Thing tripods in the past, and both were good. But, both were also only nearly perfect for me – Albert is perfect.  It’s so incredibly versatile, as well as being sturdy and lightweight. That’s a combination hard to achieve in a tripod. Oh, and that Manhattan Skyline?  It did look alright, didn’t it? The Best Spot on The Jersey Shore Back on my birthday, Erin took me up The Jersey Shore.  I wanted to see the cheesy/strange parts of The Shore.  We went to places like Seaside Heights, but also got to Long Branch and Point Pleasant, I learned that The Jersey Shore isn’t all bad. So, when Erin told me that she had some friends in another part of The Jersey Shore – a place called Long Beach Island – I jumped at the chance to go and explore it a bit. Long Beach Island, it turns out, is fantastic.  It feels nothing like the other places on The Shore that we visited. In fact, I think it feels more like what I’ve heard The Hamptons to be – without the mega-mansions, though.  We spent some time visiting Erin’s friends, did some beach lounging, and went out for cotton candy ice...

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Life/Blog/Travel Changes
Jul09

Life/Blog/Travel Changes

My vlog is consuming my life! A couple months ago, I decided that I wanted to put a heavy amount of effort into building a vlog.  I didn’t want to dip my toes into the video-making world, I wanted to dive in head first. And, that’s what I’ve done.  I’ve been vlogging 6-7 times a week for 3 months now. The good news is that it has been extremely popular.  My channel has grown by about 50% in subscribers and has doubled the monthly views since I started. The bad news is, however, that I haven’t had any time to devote to this blog, as a result. The truth of the matter is, in this industry, we need to focus on where the money is. And, sure, for a while this blog was generating decent income. However, over the past 2 years my income has come from sources outside the blog – such as the videos on YouTube.  Moreover, I love being on camera, and with this blog I kind of find that I’m hiding behind my computer screen describing the world and my work, whereas with the videos, I am out there in the world taking you through the world and showing it to you through my eyes. Thus, it’s time for some changes to take place on this blog. No, the blog is not ending. I’ve had this website for almost 7 years now, and there’s no way that I would ever consider shutting it down. However, I do want to keep the focus on the video production, as that’s what I’m really loving.  For that reason, rather than publishing articles on every destination, I am going to be using the blog sort of as a round-up for my recent travels. The goal, for now, is that there will be vlogs every day of the week aside from Tuesday. On those Tuesdays when there’s no vlog, there will be a blog post rounding up the videos from the past week.  That way, if you missed anything, you can just come here and see the round-up.  That round-up will be a combination of videos and photos from the week. Cool? Everyone ok with that? Doesn’t matter, it’s happening anyways. Let’s face it, my blog is still in Croatia. In the meantime, I’ve been in Italy, France, Portugal, and the US as well.  It’s time for a change that keeps things more current and exciting. So, let’s start by summing up – as quickly as I can – the past month. A Week in Rovinj, Croatia I loved my week in Rovinj. The town reminded me a bit more of...

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