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Suitcase and Heels Suitcase and Heels

My Story

Melissa Hogan in Jeju, South Korea

Photo: Pierre Trowbridge

Hi! I’m Melissa! I may have a career in web design & development and a home base in St. John’s, NL Canada, but I’ve been bitten by the travel bug and have fallen completely under its spell. Since 2011 I’ve traveled to 21 countries on 4 continents but I’m only getting started. There’s so much left to see and do. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

Why I Travel

Growing up in New Brunswick, Canada, I’d always travelled with my family. Summer vacations in Newfoundland, the odd trip to Toronto, and the semi-regular visits to the States to buy cheap shoes and turkeys. Our first big trip was to Disney World followed 10 years later by a visit to Texas. That was the extent of my international travel until I visited England in 2004 with my English then-roomate. My first real taste of culture shock. It was fantastic! “I want to do that more,” I thought. “When I have more money I’ll travel more.” But it’s so easy to put things off. There’d been a few trips to New York City and a few more visits to Toronto over the next 6 years but I wasn’t doing the kind of travel I thought I would. Then my mom got sick.

Mother Daughter Selfie in Vancouver

She’d had a heart condition most of her life but it started getting a lot worse. There were surgeries and medication changes but, in the end, they didn’t work. My mom passed away in 2010 and in one fell swoop I lost my mother, my best friend, my confidant, and counsellor. I miss her more than words can say. I quickly realized that there are no guarantees in life. You may never get that next year or next month so if you have the chance to do something, do it now.

My mom always wanted to go to Las Vegas, but never got the chance. So I went to Vegas. My dad long talked about wanting to visit Ireland. So I took him to Ireland. A crazy deal to Costa Rica came up but I had no travel buddy. I booked first, planned later. I still sock away 10% of my paycheque into an RSP but I probably spend twice that on travel each year. I’m cool with that.

There are so many amazing things to see, people to meet, and food to eat in this world that to only stay in my own little (admittedly cool) part of the world would be a shame.

How I Travel

I joke that I come from a long line of clothes horses. My closets and dresser often overflow so it’s no surprise  that my suitcase used to always be full to bursting on a trip. I’ve been working on packing lighter but I love my shoes and am a believer that it’s not a sin to check a bag. You don’t have to change your personal style just because you’re hitting the road. The key is knowing that style and how to condense it. I love checking out local fashion and beauty products when I travel and often leave some room for the inevitable shopping trip. South Korea and Japan are a dream in that regard (except for shoes… my size 9 feet are too big for Asia, alas).

Another trait that runs in my family is deal hunting. Paying full price is for suckers. I collect travel miles and always search for coupons, promo codes and sales before I book anything. I once got a return flight from my home base in St. John’s, Newfoundland to Costa Rica for $450. Trust me, that’s a big deal when it costs more to fly across the province and back. Flying in Canada is expensive, yo.

Yoga at El Morro |

While I like a deal, that doesn’t mean that I always choose cheap things. I’m a stereotypical Taurus and we like the finer things in life. Like so many things, it’s all about balance. It might be street meat for supper one night and 5* gourmet the next. I will shell out on a really cool experience like the CN Tower’s EdgeWalk but then shop at Forever 21 for $1.80 rings and bracelets. I once walked out of Tiffany’s clutching their iconic blue bag and went straight back to my NYC shoebox hotel room with bunk beds and a shared bath. That’s how I roll.

I often travel solo because my Taurean stubborn streak won’t let me pass up a cool opportunity. Sure, it’d be nice to have a travel buddy but I won’t let that stop me. I’m an independent woman after all. Some people think I’m crazy or uber brave or something but I don’t think I’m that extraordinary. It’s all about baby steps. My first solo trip was to a city that I was already familiar with. It grew from there. I’m also a trip planning nerd. I’m never happier than when I have a plane ticket booked and a spreadsheet and Google Maps opened up on my laptop, planning my next escape.

I want to inspire you to get out there and see the world whenever and however you can, push your own limits, and look good while doing it.