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:
Beyond the beaten path destinations
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
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!
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
Got a question or want to know more? Get in touch – info[at]offtracktravel.ca