Community Interviews

Interview with Deni Verklan of The Full Time Tourist

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After a brief hiatus, the interview series is back in action! If it’s your first time here, welcome! If you’re a returning reader, thank you for coming back. You’re awesome. I love doing these interviews to satisfy my own curiosity about other people and their creative habits, but I also love being able to share them with YOU. So thank you for taking the time to read. I know there are a million blog posts you could be reading, and you’re here. You rule.

This week’s creator is yet another gal I would love to grab coffee with. Deni Verklan is a young Canadian (just graduated from college this month!) who is both driven and creative. Her blog, The Full Time Tourist, is a unique window into her perspective as someone in school full-time who is dedicated to finding doable ways to travel and explore both locally and abroad. I could ramble on about her, but instead, I’ll just let her take over! Read on to learn more about Deni, her story, and the ways she has managed to successfully manage her blog and social media presence while being a student.

Who or what inspires you to travel?
To be honest, I’ve always been curious about the world. I don’t know if there’s a particular person or idea that inspires me to travel, it’s more or less been ingrained in my DNA. My first-ever flight was at two months old, when I flew with my mom across Canada to New Brunswick to visit her family. My first-ever long-haul road trip was just before my first birthday- a 20-hour trip from Edmonton, Canada to Hood River, Oregon. As it had such a huge role in my life growing up, adding ‘bucket list’ destinations like London, Paris and Italy in my pre-teens gradually led to my insatiable desire to travel the world and explore as much as I can.

What are you currently reading/watching?
As I just finished my undergraduate degree, I am so excited to get back to books! (And no, that’s not sarcasm.) I’m currently reading Ernest Hemingway On Writing, Wild by Cheryl Strayed and 1984 by George Orwell. My goal is to read at least one fun book and one literary novel every month this summer.

As for shows, I’m currently working my way through Scrubs right now. I’m really looking forward to Master of None season two. And as a guilty pleasure, the Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise are coming back soon, and I can’t wait to follow all the crazy drama with my mom and our neighbours back in Edmonton. We have a wine-and-texting viewing party, as I’m still in Toronto.

I’ve also become absolutely obsessed with podcasts. I tend to listen to them when I’m on my way to school, work, the grocery store, or running errands. My favourites are Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Del, which never fails to inspire me; Banging Book Club, which never fails to have me looking like a crazy person smirking and laughing on public transport; season one of Serial, which first introduced me to podcasts; and CBC’s Missing and Murdered: Who Killed Alberta Williams, which taught me a lot about Canada’s Indigenous people.

In case you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I have officially moved to London! I'm only living here until the beginning of April for an internship, but I am fully taking advantage of this beautiful city!! It's been a couple of days since getting back from Vienna now (a little trip before my internship), so expect those photos soon!! They would've been up sooner, but let's just say I had trouble with not one, not two, but three adapters. Anyways, PHOTOS! (It's been too long @Instagram, can you tell?) #thefulltimetourist * * * * * * * * #lpfanphoto #worldofwonderlust #mytinyatlas #globelletravels #dametraveller #beautifuldestinations #femaletravelbloggers #sheisnotlost #ladiesgoneglobal #gltlove #london #bigben #uk #england #igerslondon #igerscanada #igersengland #blueskies #urban #cityscapes #architecture #londonlife #ukcity #londoner #lovelondon #centrallondon #londontown #londoncity #london_only

A post shared by Deni Verklan (@thefulltimetourist) on

What equipment do you use for capturing your travels?
I always bring along my Nikon D3100 on my adventures. I mainly use the kit lens to take my photos, which is an 18-55mm lens. I also use a 55-300mm lens for certain activities, like my whale watching expedition last summer.

Are there any methods you use to stay organized as a busy student trying to also balance keeping an active blog and social media presence?
Day planners and lists are probably my favourite things in the world. At the beginning of each semester, I write out the times and locations for my classes on the appropriate day in my day timer. I also include important dates, and reminders for exams and assignment due dates the week and two weeks before. From there, I add my work schedule whenever it becomes available so I know what free time I have for the upcoming weeks. I then figure out what publications I’m writing for that week. (As a journalism student, I wrote for three publications.) I’d also factor in time for writing a blog post for Sunday. From there, I can make daily lists for what I need to accomplish for school, for my extracurricular activities, and my blog.

As for organizing my blog life, I am absolutely in love with CoSchedule. It’s an editorial calendar that allows you to plan upcoming blog posts in a monthly format and schedule your pins, tweets and Facebook posts. When I schedule in a blog post, I create reminders for myself to have photos done by such-and-such day, to have a draft done and to create a pin. This way I break down my blog posts into something I can do over several days instead of spending my only day off creating a blog post in its entirety. As for social media, I schedule my pins, tweets and Facebook posts for current blog posts in advance to keep them relevant. This is super helpful when I’m out of the house all day because I’m still promoting my blog without having to be at my laptop 24/7.

What is the soundtrack to your travels?
This is such a tough question, so I’ll break it down into categories here.

For a road trip, I only listen to songs that I can sing and dance to- preferably very dramatic songs. On my driving playlist, I have: Beyonce, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Queen, Janelle Monae, Mumford & Sons, the La La Land soundtrack, Easy A soundtrack and Tangled soundtrack. (There’s nothing like blasting Disney music down the highway!)

For a plane or train ride, I listen to my favourite artists like Mumford & Sons, Zella Day, Vampire Weekend, Telekinesis and Ed Sheeran.

And if I’m walking anywhere (or seeking alternative entertainment on the train), I’ll opt for one of the above podcasts.

Who are your favourite Instagrammers at the moment?
My favourite Instagrammer of all time is not your traditional Instagram girl. @CarolineCalloway uses her Instagram as a kind of blog/journal to perfectly chronicle her ridiculous and hilarious life, as she travels Europe and her home in New York City. If you’re looking for a fantastic afternoon read, start at the beginning of her Instagram and work your way through her Italian escapades and festival trips. Her stories are so funny that she actually landed a book deal from her Instagram.

Another favourite of mine is @SophieAnneNadeau, who runs the blog Solo Sophie. She posts a lot of photos of her adventures living in Paris and in London, as well as plenty of photos of the French countryside. She has so many photos of flowers cascading over buildings and beautiful castles, that it’s basically a modern day fairytale.

Finally, @TrashIsForTossers is a hugely motivational Instagram account for anyone wanting to cut back on the amount of waste they produce. As a zero-waste blogger, Lauren Singer has produced only a mason jar’s worth of garbage in the past four years. So for me, her Instagram is a huge reminder and source of inspiration for me to use reusable bags and containers to cut back on the amount of plastic I bring home, and to introduce more natural products into my hair and skincare.

I honestly forgot how hilarious Notting Hill (the 1999 film starring Hugh Grant & Julia Roberts) was until Netflix reminded me of its existence. It was so strange watching it after living a couple of streets over from Portobello Road, where much of the film took place. Needless to say, im ready for London to take me back!! 🏠🏠 Also… NEW BLOG POST // 21 TIPS FOR FIRST-TIME VISITORS IN LONDON ✨✨Link In bio✨✨ #thefulltimetourist * * * * * * * * * #london #uk #england #igerslondon #igersengland #londonlife #londoner #lovelondon #londontown #londoncity #london_only #greatbritain #britain #europe #traveldiary #iamatraveler #addictedtotravel #openmyworld #picoftheday #travelblogger #travelblog #exploremore #neverstopexploring #getlost #adventuregram #travelgram #wonderlustlondon #wonderlust #exploretheworld

A post shared by Deni Verklan (@thefulltimetourist) on

What are a few of your ultimate bucket list cities or countries?
This is a tough question! I honestly just want to go everywhere and see everything, so I guess you could say that my bucket list is 196 countries deep!

You mention on your blog how you’re hoping to do travel blogging full-time after graduation (congrats on your upcoming graduation, by the way!) What would your dream scenario be?
Thanks so much! I’d love to be able to run my travel blog full-time, but at this stage I’m still working on fully monetizing my blog, pitching to tourism boards and brands, and trying my hand at freelance writing. So until I can truly be a full-time tourist, my plan is to make some money over the summer and continue to build my blog so I can possibly travel in the fall!

Looking out into eternity… ✨ #thefulltimetourist

A post shared by Deni Verklan (@thefulltimetourist) on

Can you name one place you’ve traveled that surprised you the most, and tell us why?
Halifax is probably the most surprising city I’ve visited. The main reason why I went to the Eastern Canadian city was because my cousin was getting in the neighbouring province, so I figured I might as well explore more of the Maritimes while I was there. Despite not having much written about it online, there was so much music, culture and life in the city. I also loved the day trips I took to Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg during my week in Halifax. Plus, my trip to Cape Breton at the end of my Nova Scotia adventures is my top recommendation to anyone who wants to see Canada’s true beauty.

NEW POST: The small town tales of Peggy's Cove captured my heart. From legends of naming their town after a lone shipwreck survivor to paying tribute to lost fishermen at sea to devastating plane crashes, this community of about 35 permanent residents are more noteworthy than their lighthouse. #ontheblog: Peggy's Cove Is More Than The Most Photographed Lighthouse In The World ⚓️🚨 *** Link in Bio *** #thefulltimetourist * * * * * * * * * * #travel #ig_travel #travelphotography #travelpics #instapassport #passportready #instatravel #travelblog #femaletravelbloggers #solotravel #globalnomad #traveltheworld #globetrotter #traveladdict #goexplore #globelletravels #travelbug #girlswhotravel #ladiesgoneglobal #traveldeeper #wanderlust #beautifuldestinations #wonderlust #sheisnotlost #explore #travelphotographer #travelgram #getoutside

A post shared by Deni Verklan (@thefulltimetourist) on

What is one thing your followers might be surprised to learn about you?
Something not many people in my adult life know about me is that I’m a classically trained pianist. I started playing piano at five years old and have trained with the Royal Conservatory of Music, earning my Grade 9 in piano. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a piano in Toronto. But I can’t wait until I find a more permanent home where I can invest in either a weighted keyboard or an upright piano.

What is your favourite quote about traveling?
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

Do you have any trip planning tools or packing tips?
I’m actually planning to write a post about what I use to plan trips, so you’ll have to check my blog at the end of summer to see what I use. (It’ll also probably be when I announce my big upcoming trip that I’m planning with my boyfriend!) But a couple of my go-tos for trip planning are Pinterest and finding travel bloggers that have clearly done their research.

As for packing tips, I am a huge advocate for carry-on only travel. My longest trip that I’ve done carry-on only was actually a two-week trip where I went hiking, visited family and was the maid of honour at my cousin’s wedding. I recommend packing by outfit, with each clothing item easily pairing with the others. This makes finding something to wear every morning easy. I also strongly recommend packing cubes to keep everything organized. To see how I packed carry-on only for my recent trip to Vienna, you can find my video here.

NEW POST: Packing carry-on only doesn't have to be a challenge. I teamed up with @CabinZero to show you how I packed for my four-day weekend in Vienna! If you'd like to get the packing squares or 44L backpack in Karma Blue for yourself, take an extra 10% off with the discount code CZFULLTIMETOURIST (up until May 23, 2017). ✨LINK IN BIO✨ #thefulltimetourist #mycabinzero #cabinzero #ad * * * * * * * * #worldofwonderlust #mytinyatlas #globelletravels #femaletravelbloggers #sheisnotlost #ladiesgoneglobal #gltlove #picoftheday #travelblogger #travelblog #exploremore #neverstopexploring #getlost #adventuregram #travelgram #Igerscanada #ontheblog #instablogger #newpost #bloglife #toronto #the6ix #torontobloggers #torontoigers #packing #carryononly

A post shared by Deni Verklan (@thefulltimetourist) on

On your blog, you talk about traveling as a person with food sensitivities and how that can be challenging. What is one place you’ve traveled where you’ve been surprised by the available choices?
I was shocked at the amount of food options I had in Vienna. As someone who is gluten and dairy intolerant and vegetarian, I wasn’t expecting to eat half as much as I did in the Austrian capitol. Although there were a number of gluten-free and vegan restaurants that had some of the most flavourful and innovative food pairings, it was easy to find food to eat at regular restaurants thanks to comprehensive allergy guides found at the back of every menu.

"A gluten- and dairy- intolerant vegetarian and her vegan boyfriend go to Vienna" sounds like the intro to a bad joke. But despite Austria's well-known love of everything meat, dairy and bread, I had some of the most delicious gluten-free, vegan food I've ever had!! Check out my latest blog post to see what all I ate whilst in Vienna for four days!! ✨✨Link In bio✨✨ #thefulltimetourist * * * * * * * * #lpfanphoto #worldofwonderlust #mytinyatlas #globelletravels #beautifuldestinations #femaletravelbloggers #gltlove #visitvienna #vienna #wien #austria #discovervienna #viennascene #igersvienna #igersaustria #viennafood #glutenfree #vegan #plantbased #plantpowered #celiac #instafood #veganfoodshare #europe #visiteurope #viennacity #vienna_austria #viennalove #europetravel

A post shared by Deni Verklan (@thefulltimetourist) on

What is your favourite place in the whole wide world?
Hands down Cesky Krumlov. This small Czech town makes you feel like you’re walking around in a fairy tale. There are so many cute shops and the town is just so magical. I can’t even put into words how beautiful this town is.

Where to next?
Who knows?! I have a few quick getaways planned this summer: Montreal, to visit my brother, and Ottawa, to visit my cousin who’s moving there in June. I’m also hoping to visit my family in Edmonton and possibly go to Vancouver and Victoria to see my relatives on the West Coast. Apart from more Canadian adventures, and a potential trip to New York City, my boyfriend and I are planning a big trip toward the end of the year. Our plans aren’t set in stone quite yet, so I’m excited to plan our itinerary throughout the summer!

Big thanks to Deni for sharing with us, be sure to check out her blog and the links below!

Follow Deni’s adventures!
Blog | Instagram | Facebook
Pinterest | Twitter | YouTube

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Jessica
    June 6, 2017 at 9:44 AM

    Love the series! It’s so great to be able to have a great group of creative people to surround yourself with! Your blog is super-fun, and I look forward to reading more 🙂 I recently launched my blog as well, so I can definitely appreciate the work you put in to yours, it looks great! Cheers!

    • Reply
      Sierra
      June 7, 2017 at 11:24 PM

      So glad you enjoyed it Jessica! Doing this series has been so fun (and enlightening!) for me, and it makes me so happy to know others are enjoying it too. Your blog looks fantastic! Makes me want to step my game up even more! Thanks so much for taking the time to read 🙂

  • Reply
    Kasia
    May 31, 2017 at 9:07 AM

    What a cool series to have on a blog. And what a cool interview. It’s definitely inspiring to see people do what they love and aspire to do in the future. Thanks for sharing this great story. I’m going to have to check out her blog.

    • Reply
      Sierra
      June 4, 2017 at 8:58 PM

      Thanks so much Kasia! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed it. Definitely check out Deni’s blog for more, she’s wonderful!

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