As I recover from my four-day soujourn on Pender Island (which I’ll write about soon!), it’s time to think ahead to the rest of this spanking new year.

Finances will be tight this year as I enter student loan repayment. While I’ll be doing a big Mexico/Peru trip in April, I’m going to have to get realistic and creative with my travels.

1. Complete the five-day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

Photo: South America Backpacker

This is the true test of my physical fitness and ability to forsake the comforts of modern plumbing. While the Salkantay Trek is frequently marketed as an alternative to the crowded Inca Trail, it is an incredible hike in its own right. Mt. Salkantay (Quechua for “savage mountain”) rises to a lofty 6271 metres above sea level (20574 ft). What this trail lacks in Inca ruins, it makes up for with affordability (can be less than half the cost of the Inca Trail) and stunning views.

2. Get out into nature, in my own backyard.

Parkhurst Ghost Town in Whistler — spooky! Photo: Duncan Sadava

Peru is going to be awesome, but there’s no reason that I can’t find similar satisfaction close to home. There is no shortage of breathtaking hikes in Vancouver and the surrounding regions (the North Shore, Squamish, Whistler, Vancouver Island and more). Just to challenge myself even further, I’m starting an Instagram hashtag, #52weeksofhikes to document these adventures. I’ve already kicked off snowshoe season, and summer brings the promise of kayak camping trips!

3. Take advantage of American budget airlines. 

If Ryanair set up operations in North America, I’d give them all my (non-existent) money.

A seasoned pro of the European budget airline circuit, I’ve now set up email notifications with American budget airlines which fly out of Seattle. Even though the USD-CAD exchange rate continues to break my heart, there are still some good bargains to be found. Still unconvinced? Check out my tips for flying with budget airlines like a champ.

4. Finally visit Portland, Oregon!

Photo: Sowas142

At this point, it’s frankly just bizarre that I haven’t made it down to Portland yet.