About Us

Hello, Welcome!  I am so happy you are joining us on this adventure.

I am Donna, and I’d like to take you on a little journey of how we got here, to this blog, to this time. Don’t worry it’s the Coles Notes version, so pack your bag and let’s go!


At Packed for Life I will be sharing our experiences in family travel and family life, as well as planning, budgeting and travel tips and resources to help you and your family make the most of your time, whether in your own home town, or to places around the globe.

Based on everything I’ve learned travelling by plane, road, train, sea and foot, over the last 40+ years.


My mission is to inspire other families to explore the world around them at home and abroad, one extra-ordinary family travel adventure at a time.

WHO? Our Cast of Characters

I’d like to introduce the cast of characters you will be sharing your time with on my family travel blog.

ME aka Donna, aka Mama

Donna is a 40 something west coast girl at heart, transplanted in the north. She is a nature lover, intrepid explorer (in her own mind) and the family vacation logistical planner. You will find her researching the best places to stay for a more authentic experience, where the closest market is and do you really need to bring your own TP.  TIP – The answer is YES, and always bring wet wipes! It never hurts to be prepared.

Donna is mama to one little and a step mom to two amazing human beans who are heading into adulthood and off on adventures of their own. She is most in her bliss exploring nature, hugging trees, connecting with people through food & language, while spending time adventuring in Canada and around the world with her family.

Her mottos are “Always be Prepared” (see above) and “Safety First”, much to the dismay of her other family members.

DEREK, aka Dad

Derek is the techy of the bunch. He can be seen viewing the latest YouTube video researching gadgets and gizmos a plenty to make our lives easier at home and abroad. Derek is lead researcher for the best places to eat; city addition. He can be found taking food photos and good-naturedly carrying all the items Donna insists are needed, “just in case.”

Miss S, aka our Littlest Mermaid

Miss S is the youngest of the bunch. She is our sanity check, and helps us stay in the moment and take time to have FUN! You can find her trying on multiple outfits, playing in the sand and getting away with watching endless movies on plane rides. She is also most likely to be voted for the “Can we have ice cream now?…..How about now?” award.

How it all began (aka Why should I listen to your travel advice?)

Travelling has been a life long adventure and path of mine. From the time I was 9, I spent many hours of my youth backpacking, camping and travelling around Vancouver Island & the West Coast of Canada and the USA with my best friends family.

At nine years old I fearlessly hopped a zodiac with my best friends family and hiked the West Coast Trail. A 75 kilometre (47 mile) wilderness hike through mud, 100 ladders, river crossings and sleeping in a tent in all weather.

I jumped on opportunities to travel to Hawaii, and Disneyland with my school band, and a trip to an International Girl Guide Camp in Saskatchewan as a teenager. I was to content to leave my family behind and explore the world.

I’ve travelled to over 20 countries on 5 continents, and many many towns and cities in between. Including a back packing trip through Europe, Israel and India and spending months in Costa Rica & Ecuador learning Spanish, and exploring the country.

Family travels through Cuba, the USA and across Canada from north to south, east coast to west coast, have been a highlight over the last few years.

One of my favourite parts of travel is the dreaming and researching, so each article is extensively researched and/or based on personal experience. Finding hidden gems, that are accessible to families is my goal.

The seed that planted the idea to travel

I’ve had an insatiable curiosity about the world around me, and an adventurous spirit from a young age.

I have a vivid memory of being around twelve years old, sitting on the floor of my bedroom, flipping through a box of old National Geographic magazines someone had donated to our family.

The magazine pictures, colours, shapes, animals, people and articles, while often problematic to today’s standards, drew me in and opened my eyes to the possibility of worlds outside my own west coast Canadian window.

I wanted to study gorillas in the mist, like Dian Fossey. I wanted to traipse barefoot and by canoe through rain forests and Amazonian jungles, avoiding leeches and giant snakes preferably.

I wanted to explore ancient Mayan ruins and discover lost civilizations. I wanted to swim with sea turtles and dolphins in clear tropical water. I wanted to meet and befriend people who lived differently than I did and learn 5 new languages.

I wanted to be an intrepid explorer.

Then life happens.

I tried university, but it wasn’t right for me at the time. My insatiable curiosity to move, see, grab hold of new things took hold. I spent my 20’s and early 30’s travelling a few places for a month or two or three at a time. Europe, India, Central America, South America, Africa, Israel.

I spent time living in various communities in Canada and tried my hand at a mix of career choices. I have been a grocery clerk, tree planter, organic herb farmer, trail builder, landscaper, massage therapist, a government worker, and now a family travel blogger.

I reconnected with a childhood friend; we fell in love and created a blended family. In my late 30’s we had a child. Travel outside my home town slowed down as other priorities and financial worries took over.  So I made the best of things and embraced adventuring in our own home town and places close by.  Family road trips and family camping trips were a treat.

Then we moved to a small town in northern Canada (400km, or 250 miles to the Arctic Circle as the raven flies) for work, and slowly more ideas, dreams and travel plans started filtering into our daily lives. As a family we are now in a place to embrace a lifestyle that includes more travel, and I am excited to be able to share how you can do this too!


Thanks so much for stopping by. Any questions, feel free to reach out:


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