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Travelling through my phone makes me ponder the time I accidentally travelled without my phone

This was taken a few minutes after climbing the bell tower of a ancient church in Pommevic, France. Those sandals have seen some things.

I wrote this piece when I returned from Europe in the fall. But I never published it.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately because it’s almost the exact opposite of COVID-19 quarantine, when the only access we have to the world is through our devices. Plus, like many of you, travel has been on my mind a lot lately. I hope you’re healthy and enjoying some virtual travel until you can once again enjoy some actual travel.

During a three-week trip to Europe this summer, I climbed the bell tower of a Roman-arched church, stepping over several dead pigeons and one calcified rat. In sandals. I found a bird turd on my pillow. After I’d already slept on it. And I brought my Paw Patrol-aged kids to Michelin-starred restaurants. (Sorry, fellow patrons.)

Yet when I tell people about our travels, the experience that horrifies them more than any other is: I lost my phone on the flight to Munich, the very first leg of our trip.

The pool house, as seen from our room at the Chateau Goudourville, a restored castle in Southwest France.

Yes, I spent three weeks with my family in some of the most photogenic locales on the planet – the French countryside! The beaches of San Sebastian! The McDonald’s PlayPlace! – sans iPhone.

And you know what? I highly recommend it.

The experience of phonelessness is a bit like time travel. Specifically to 2004, when I left my (flip?) phone at home to backpack my way from junior to senior year of college.

We used internet cafes back then. We scheduled calls with our families and then marched down the block to payphone cubicles to make them. Sorry: phone booths. It’s been so long since I used one I forgot what they’re called. We used real, printed maps, held aloft like, well…tourists. We referenced Lonely Planet guides and researched where we were going. In advance!

Super jealous of that guy photographing the sunset with his phone in Saint Jean de Luz, France.

It was entirely unlike the way we travel now, where we rely heavily on Google maps and user reviews of restaurants, eking out the day’s plans in real time.

Unless you ditch your phone, that is.

If you do – and hear me out, I think you should at least consider it – you’ll find a freedom you haven’t known in years.

Your out-of-office autoresponder will actually mean something. You’ll see the beach of St Jean de Luz as the expanse of pristine sand it is, not as potential content. You won’t have text messages pinging you while you sample local honey at an open-air market in Valence d’Agen. You’ll finally understand what Oprah means when she talks about being fully present.

Granted it’s not easy. In that open-air market you won’t be able to Google whether you should get the truffle-infused grape-seed or olive oil.

And you’ll want to consider how this will impact your friends and family because, believe me, the stress will wear on them. Your husband’s boss will offer to Fedex a phone to you across a continent and an ocean. Your soon-to-be brother-in-law will offer to procure a phone from his father, who is no less than the mayor of his town in Southwest France. Your friends back home with tell their friends back home nothing about your trip except your phone status.

The first exhibit I saw at the San Telmo Museum in San Sebastian was by Douglas Coupland, who, like me, lives in Vancouver. But that’s beside the point.

When doing a Destination Digital Detox with others, logistics become paramount, especially while towing kids.

If your husband wants to take your little guppies to the San Sebastian Aquarium and you want to see the “Hello, Robot” exhibit at the San Telmo Museoa on the other side of the old town, you can’t rely on “where you at?” texts. Instead, you’ll have to pre-arrange a meeting point and – now this is where things get really quaint – a time to meet up. Pro tip: pack a watch.

When you want to read on the beach in Gros, the neighborhood where you’re staying in San Sebastian, you can’t just scroll to your Books app. You need to haul in your beach bag the 468-page Stephen King tome you found in the English-language section of the bookstore around the corner.

This photo probably wouldn’t have turned out as well on my iPhone anyway. It’s my kid on the beach in St. Jean de Luz, France.

When you want to take photos of the murals in the Toulouse Capitol, you’ll need to use the Nikon D5100 hanging around your neck, the same camera that will later inspire a saleswoman in a sunglasses shop to ask you questions in a French that far exceeds your 12th grade fluency. Can’t help you there.

When you do a Destination Digital Detox, you’ll experience the lost art of being off the grid. In the middle of a city, no less. Nobody will know where you are. Heck, you might not even know where you are. Consider bringing a map with you, because you certainly won’t be able to Google where to buy one.

We were travelling with two young kids so we didn’t join these Toulousains for a drink on the riverbank.

Over the course of your lo-fi voyage, it’s possible you’ll have one friend email you — you’ll check it on your laptop back in your Airbnb in the evening because you’re not a complete luddite — asking you to post Insta stories from your trip. Here’s what you do: tell her you don’t have your phone with you and she will be so horrified at the prospect she’ll leave you alone.

Three weeks without a phone in a foreign land is a real trip. When you get home, you’ll reacclimatize to the pace of North American life with fresh eyes, now that you’ve experienced slow jet-setting. Your perspective will have shifted because you were forced to live very, very differently than you normally do.

You may find you don’t even install Instagram on your new phone until a month after you return.

And by that point you can finally answer the age-old question: if you go on vacation, but don’t post your vacation photos, did you really go on vacation?

[Photos by Kelsey Dundon, except for the first one, which my husband took.]

P.S. I usually *do* have my phone with me so follow @KelseyDundon on Instagram.

On the bright Side

You’d never know it to look at me (I’m as pale now as when I left), but when I was in Turkey I spent ten days on the Mediterranean.



A few of those were spent in Side where we’d walk through the ruins on the way to the beach, on the way to dinner, on the way to go shopping, on the way to wherever.



I bought my flowy pants at a small shop in a nearby town — they tie up twice (quite complicated), but they’re quite pretty with subtle embroidery at the waist and hem. I never really wear white (except, of course, for my wedding dress) but I love white pants. Would love a pair in linen too.

Beautiful nuisances

I love travelling. Love everything about it. Even the things that, when you’re jetlagged, can turn you into a cranky beast. (Or is that just me?) I’ve compiled a list of some of the beautiful nuisances that I love to hate because it means I’m somewhere incredible. Like Antalya, Turkey.

1.The blotch burn. My husband’s slap happy method of sunscreen application means I always end up with the blotchiest sunburn. But you can’t get one of those at the office.

2.Tripping over cobblestone streets. I learned to walk on the smooth sidewalks of Vancouver. Nothing makes me feel clumsier than stubbing my toes all over these beautiful, ancient streets.

3.Learning to type on föreıgn keyböardş.

4.Dual pricing. One price for locals and one for those with a blotch burn.

5.Risking your life in a cab. So far, we’ve taken two cab rides. Fifty percent of them have resulted in an accident. (It was minor, ma, don’t worry.)

What would you add? Mild food poisoning?

A guest post from the birthday girl

Today’s my sister’s birthday and I’m in Istanbul while she’s at home celebrating in Vancouver. She’s been to 29 countries (if you include Vatican City) and she was kind enough to write this guest post about one of her favourite places.


A UNESCO World Heritage Site covering over 400 square kilmetres, Angkor Wat lies 5.5 km North of the Cambodian city Siem Reap. Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century.

History aside, it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my travels.
Our first, and unfortunately only, day at the temples started with a 4:45 am wake up call allowing us enough time to bike there for sunrise. Well worth it.
After being heckled by coffee and breakfast hawkers, part and parcel with the adventure, we wandered the temples and were in complete awe.
The intricate artwork covered every inch of the temples, I was most amazed at the amount of time it must have taken to cover every inch of these temples.
I suppose the absence of internet and tv frees up some time for beautiful art.
Take a look at some other posts about Rissa’s travels (and the goodies she returned with) here and here and here. Want to write a guest post? (Oh good!) Send me a note at
Thanks Rissa! Happy birthday!

Come into my (Haute) World

Haute Shopper, who writes the must-read blog Haute World, is from Paris (France!) where she sometimes window shops and sometimes shop shops. She was kind enough to contribute this guest post about a Canadian in Paris (oh how I wish that were me.)

Even before I moved to Paris, previous travels to this fine city revealed one thing: the Champs-Elysées, as famous and grand as it may be, is a huge tourist trap and not really the best place for shopping – unless you’re a Louis Vuitton fan or feel like visiting yet another GAP store.
There is one big exception though: France’s favorite Canadian designer Tara Jarmon has a two-storey flagship here. It’s not flashy from the outside, but once inside, you’re greeted by a clean decor which shows off her wonderful range of colorful clothes and accessories.
Even though Tara Jarmon is very much a Parisian label, I thought this would be the perfect store to profile for Kelsey’s blog, considering the designer is a Vancouver native who still has fond memories of the cherry blossoms on Marine Drive.
Her clothes are classic, chic, colorful and sexy, but according to Tara herself, never provocative, allowing every piece to become a timeless item in your wardrobe.
You might have a hard time finding a local Parisian on Champs-Elysées, but once inside the store I quickly realized that almost all shoppers were local… always a good sign.
The ground floor is full of cute summery dresses, breezy casual tops and tailored classics such as blazers and trench coats. There was also a nice range of bright flowery totes, as well as sandals and scarves.
The lower level had more such items but also an entire corner dedicated to more formal and glamorous evening gowns and dresses. Whether you’re looking for something in strong jewel tones (my personal favorite), soft pastels or muted neutrals, you’re sure to find something to suit any taste.
The items are never boring… most pieces are embroidered, beaded or feature wonderful details in tailoring or draping.
If you’re not going to Paris anytime soon, Tara’s clothes are also available via But if you’re ever in town, I’d recommend paying a visit to 73 Avenue des Champs-Elysées or any of the other Tara Jarmon flagships. You might just end up with the perfect Paris souvenir.

Want to write a guest post? (Yes! I’ve been waiting for you to say that!) Send me a note at Thanks again Haute Shopper

In one short week

I will be in the middle of a 21-hour journey to Istanbul. But I firmly believe the pain of a five-hour flight followed by a five-hour layover followed by an 11-hour flight will fade as soon as we arrive.




I love Turkey already.

Had we not already booked a hotel in Istanbul, we may very well have rented an apartment, which is such a great way to see a city because you have a living room and a kitchen and you can fool yourself into thinking you’re local-like. (Thanks Mike for sending me the link.)

The first photo is by Fatih Guner. The photo of the mosaic museum in Istanbul is by shioshvili. The third photo from this site. I hope the photos I take are half as gorgeous as they are.

Two weeks

Until a little of this:


And a whole lot of this:


I could not be more excited for Turkey — all the beautiful mosques, mosaics and magnificent hotels (that are way out of my price range). Have you been?

The second photo is from this site. I’m unsure of the source of the first one.

I waited four months

For my baby sister Larissa to come back from her travels in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Silk dress custom Vietnam

And what did she come back with? A suitcase full of vintage clothes (more on that later), custom clothes and magnets (love souvenirs).


She had this dress custom made in Hoi An, Vietnam. The bottom part is made of Vietnamese silk in a colour I once heard described as Indian teal.

custom boots Vietnam

She also had her boots custom made in the same city. Leather and lovely.

Kiev bangles

Her red bangle is from an entirely different part of the world. She got it in Kyiv, Ukraine (this gal has been to 28 countries — 29 if you count Vatican City).

A custom-made silk dress and piles of bangles are beautiful. But when they remind you of your adventures? Doesn’t get any better than that.

Wouldn’t you agree?

What’s even better than a guest post?

A guest post about a city I’m desperate to visit. Before her jet lag had even worn off, Liv from It’s a Beautiful Life contributed this post about Hong Kong (with a bit of Shanghai to make me extra envious).

I was much honored to be asked by The Anthology to write a guest post; it’s been so much fun watching this blog grow and I look forward to the updates in my RSS reader every day. I recently went on a whirlwind of a trip to Asia to two very happening cities: Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Liv HK

I was born in Hong Kong so going back is like slipping on a pair of well-worn jeans — the comfort of familiarity sinks in as I drive past the dazzling city lights and formidable skyscrapers.

As for Shanghai, well I was a Shanghai virgin.  It is fascinating city which not only shows the best of East meets West but is also a great example of China’s economic progress.  Construction is everywhere, and the well-heeled Shanghainese strut their stuff on the great catwalks of Shanghai.

I’ve put together my hot list for Hong Kong – a composite of places and things I love. I hope you get to visit them soon.
Continue Reading

Two tickets to Turkey please

I’m going in June and the wait is killing me (patience isn’t one of my virtues).


My friend Mike sent me a note about wittistanbul (thanks Mike), which, as Apartment Therapy points out, is done up in loads of patterns but few colours.


With a rather stunning mix of modern and midcentury modern inspiration.


Have you been to Turkey? Where should I go? What should I do?