During the last week in June my husband Jarrett and I, plus my mum and our two corgis, travelled to the Îles de la Madeleine, a chain of seven very small, very windy, very sandy, and very beautiful islands in Quebec. The five-hour ferry ride from Prince Edward Island gave me a lot of time to think about how lucky we both are to be able to take our work on the road, and rent our home while we are away.
This has been our vision since the early days of 2015 when I bailed out of my final corporate consulting gig and decided to find a new way to work and a new way to live, a way working and living were in harmony with one another. It has been an adventure in seeking out the elusive ‘work-life balance’ that I was craving, and as I’ve learned, even being self-employed does not guarantee freedom and flexibility.
We’ve had to really hone our patience, in terms of how fast we could actually build a life that was even partially remote. There were and still are plenty of rocks in our way, including a house under renovation which requires most of our disposable income and paying down a tax bill from last year.
Needless to say, there was something rather magical about being able to spend a week on this quiet, sandy, and beautiful island chain. This trip was one of those proof of concept moments that sounded something like this:
We CAN rent our home out and have it pay us to travel, and we CAN travel and take our work on the road. Proof of concept, indeed.
This post will be the first of a series of Location Profiles that I write as Jarrett and I delve further into the location independent lifestyle we are building. I hope to feature some of the subtle perks of working in locations such as this one, identifying why it was inspiring, and, finally, sharing resources and recommendations for making the most of YOUR time in such locations.
LOCATION SUMMARY: Îles de la Madeleine
The Îles de la Madeleine are located a 5-hour ferry ride from Souris, PEI. For us, this meant taking a 1-hour ferry ride from Nova Scotia to PEI, overnighting in PEI, and hopping on another ferry for the final leg of our journey on the following day. In total, it took us about 12 hours total to get from Halifax to the Îles de la Madeleine.
We stayed on the southernmost island in the chain, Havre-Aubert, which turned out to be our favourite spot to hang out of all the five islands. It’s somewhat of a hub for artisans and had a small walkable ‘downtown’ area, La Grave, that was full of shops and our favourite cafe, Cafe La Grave.
We stayed at this adorable cottage right on the beach in Portage-du-cap, which is a 5-minute drive (or 15-minute bike ride) to La Grave. In general, this whole island had a lovely small town, summer tourism vibe that was neither too overbearing people-wise or too crazy hot weather-wise.
Travelling on the cusp of July meant that the weather was windy, sunny, rainy, overcast, hot and cold all within a span of the 8 days that we were there. Word on the street is that August is the absolute best time to travel there, because of the relatively consistent warm and sunny weather.
For all of you bikers, the entire island was a pretty amazing location for biking. Gentle hills and flat causeways made the biking interesting and fun, and as long as you avoid the crazy wind, you’re going to love it.
WHY IT WAS GREAT FOR WORKING REMOTELY
The Îles de la Madeleine are, in short, a perfect location for a work-cation, a sabbatical, and a great location to get a LOT of writing done. The location is beautiful and inspiring and is the perfect place to unplug a bit, spend some time on the beach, and get some of those projects you’ve been procrastinating on, done (after you are beached out, of course).
In addition to this, the weather is somewhat unpredictable, being on an island in the middle of the ocean and all. This means on the serious rain days that do happen (we had two crazy storms out of the 8 total days we were there), it’s the perfect opportunity to hunker down and get a LOT done. I seriously couldn’t believe how productive I was with the howling wind and rain pounding on the glass windows of our teeny cottage.
Bonus points for this whole chain of islands because the internet is STELLAR and there are a good number of fun coffee shops that don’t seem to mind you setting up shop to do a few hours of work here and there.
HOW WE SPENT OUR TIME
We spent 3 full days working on our various client projects and 4 days of adventuring around the various islands, exploring their beaches, artisans of the food and craft variety, and checking out some of the hidden cafes and eateries that dot the various coastlines. We made it to all seven of of the islands, checked out as many beaches as we could, and did repeat visits to our two favourite coffee shops, and a checked out a favourite potter or two.
We went out to dinner one night during our stay and ate in the rest of the time. Usually, we love eating out, so staying in for meals was mainly due to sheer laziness and not wanting to drive more than ten minutes in any one direction. We also stayed within our budget by eating in and taking advantage of the cute kitchen area in the cottage.
On our 3 work days, we each put in close to 8-hour days. Because we had seen a lot of what was happening on the islands already, and knew we had ample time to see anything that was still on the trip bucket list, we didn’t experience any FOMO and we were content to focus and get ‘er done.
I have to repeat myself here. These islands were a seriously inspiring location. I came home refreshed and rejuvenated and really felt like we kind of have this work-life thing down. At least, we have it figured out in the way that we had envisioned nearly three years ago.
FAVOURITES PLACES & SPACES
- The Cottage we stayed at was awesome, allowed pets, and had lovely hosts who left us banana chocolate chip bread in the fridge for when we arrived! It was right on the beach and was a short drive to La Grave where our favourite Cafe and Restaurant (and Bar) was located.
- Cafe La Grave was great for an afternoon drink, a super work spot, and a fantastic dinner location. My favourite part was the piano that seemed to be playing at all times. Oh, and the dessert. Don’t forget the dessert.
- For all of your outdoor enthusiasts, Le Pédalier is a great shop for outdoorsy type things like all thing bike related, clothing, and water bottles (I seem to always forget mine).
- Bistro Café d’chez-nous was our second favourite coffee shop. It had a killer breakfast sandwich and served these massive bowl sized cups of coffee. Needless to say, I was impressed.
- On our one night stay in PEI, we stayed about halfway between the ferry from NS and the ferry to Îles de la Madeleine, at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort. It had sweet rates, a beautiful location, and everyone who worked there was in love with the corgis. Total win and because of the corgi-love, we will definitely be going back for a long weekend.
- Our favourite beach by far was about a 10-minute bike ride from our cottage: Du Havre-Aubert Beach or Sandy Hook. The dunes were absolutely stunning and I easily could have spent my days dozing, reading, and listening to the waves. See gorgeous dune picture below!
Have you travelled to any locations that were absolutely perfect for working remotely? If yes I’d to hear your favourite spots (and why!) and the comments below!
Until next time,