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About Us

Welcome to Off Track Travel! We are a French Canadian (Jean Robert) and British (Gemma) couple who love to explore beyond the beaten path. You’ll most likely find us driving our converted adventure van, exploring the backroads and wilderness of Canada.

We love to write about:

Outdoor adventure

Beyond the beaten path destinations

Anything Canada!

Our travel story

Since meeting in New Zealand in 2009, we have continued a travel focused lifestyle together. We think that the world is far too interesting to just stay in one place!

After living in the UK for just over a year, we headed out on a three-month road trip from Brighton to Istanbul via 18 countries. Looking for somewhere new to settle for a while, we then flew to British Columbia, Canada in November 2011.

Much to our surprise, we have been based in Canada ever since. There’s something very special about this country, especially for outdoor enthusiasts like us.

We first lived on Vancouver Island in British Columbia for 2.5 years before a five-month road trip around BC, Yukon, NWT and Alaska in a converted Astro Van.

With winter approaching, we relocated to Fort St John in North BC’s ‘almost sub-arctic’ region.

Our time in the north was short-lived and we moved again to the small southern Okanagan town of Penticton in June 2015.

After three sun-soaked summers by the lake and vineyards, we became location independent in November 2017.

Hanna, our converted GMC Savana van, became our home and the great outdoors our office.

After two amazing years of full time travel, an opportunity arose to live in Penticton again and we decided to go for it.

As full time adventure bloggers, we love being located in the middle of beautiful British Columbia! We will continue to travel but this time, with a base to come back to.

Years together: 10

Countries visited: 40+

Kilometres hiked: Over 800km in 2019

Van conversions: 3 together, 4 for JR

Canoe circuits paddled: Sayward Forest, Bowron Lakes, Powell Forest

Favourite road trips: Driving from the UK to Istanbul, reaching the Arctic on the Dempster Highway, crossing Canada (twice)

Coolest travel experience: Being invited to sleep in a vineyard in Montenegro by locals

Worst travel experience: That time we were robbed of almost all of our belongings in Italy

Longest time spent living one place together: 2.5 years

Meet Gemma

Gemma is from the South of England, most recently living in Brighton. Having visited an interesting variety of European countries on family holidays while growing up (Sweden or Slovakia anyone?), Gemma spent most of her post-school gap year living and working in New Zealand, as well as visiting the USA, Australia and China.

After finishing a Political Science degree, it was time to move across the pond to Canada for new adventures with JR!

Off Track Travel’s primary writer, Gemma also runs the site’s social media channels. She became a citizen of Canada in 2018.

Favourite mode of adventure: Hiking

Best wildlife encounter: Mountain goats on Gimli Ridge, Valhalla

Favourite country (besides Canada): New Zealand

Happy place: Kayak or canoe camping on island, just the two of us e.g. Wallace Island, Desolation Sound

Favourite trails: Mount Assiniboine, Gwillim Lakes, Maple Pass Loop, Cape Scott

Best adventure without JR: Walking the 100 mile (160km) South Downs Way in the UK

Scariest moment: Minke whale surfacing next to my kayak in Nova Scotia

Favourite time of year: Summer

Drink of choice: Depends on the weather, but usually prosecco

Fun fact: I’ve never lost a nail or had a blister on a hike in Canada!

Meet JR

Jean Robert (JR for short) is from the Acadian Peninsula, New Brunswick, Canada. He speaks French as a first language, becoming fluent in English in his early 20’s.

Australia was his first working holiday destination, where he ended up living on an island on the Great Barrier Reef.

Jean Robert is a trained chef but has also worked as a tour guide/bus driver in Canada, Dive Master in New Zealand, a barman in an English pub and, most recently, an outdoor retail store manager.

Off Track Travel’s main photographer, JR is also chief driver and all around handyman.

Favourite mode of adventure: Anything in or by water (paddling, diving, fishing)

Best wildlife encounter: Scuba diving with a whale shark in Thailand

Favourite country (besides Canada): Japan

Happy place: Camping on the coast – fishing, kayak and eating seafood

Favourite trails: Heather Trail, Mount Assiniboine, Tent Ridge, Burstall Pass

Scariest moment: Flipping the canoe on the Yukon River

Best adventure without Gemma: Assisting a musher friend at the Yukon Quest race

Favourite time of year: Autumn

Food of choice: Sushi

Fun fact: First pet was an iguana

Gemma and JR standing with back to camera looking at sunrise from mountain summit
Watching the sun rise on the summit of Tin Hat Mountain, British Columbia

Contact us

Got a question or want to know more? Get in touch – info[at]offtracktravel.ca

Check out our most recent posts

Joyce

Wednesday 8th of October 2014

Dear Gemma and Jean Robert,

My name is Joyce and I work for ExpatFinder.com. ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences! We quite enjoy your blog about living in Canada, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use? Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website. The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation. Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

Best regards, Joyce

Gemma

Monday 13th of October 2014

Hi Joyce, thanks for the message. I would definitely be interested in this - please send me an email to gemma[at]offtracktravel.ca with the questions!

Wendy

Monday 28th of April 2014

Hi you two, Sue gave me your card so I could track your travels. You are so lucky to be able to do this while you are young. I never had a gap year & I so want one now but of course it's not possible with an elderly parent so good on you for travelling while you can. Can't get enough of it! We just had fun in Yorkshire for Easter visiting the film locations for the TV shows & also doing the cultural stuff like Castle Howard & York Minister. So much world, so little time. Have fun & stay safe & fit. X