Mikki's Top Tips for the Winter Season in Canada

We caught up with Mikki after her winter season at the Four Seasons resort in Whistler on our Ultimate Canada programme to get the low-down on her top tips for those planning their Canadian adventure.

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Mikki, I’m from a small town called Stamford near Peterborough. I’m currently a first-year university student at Nottingham Trent University studding BA Criminology.

Why did you want to do a travel and work experience?

When I finished my A-levels I was always planning to go on a gap year to travel and experience all the countries I’ve always wanted to go to. I knew at the end of my gap year I wanted to do a ski season and I’ve always wanted to go to Canada to ski, so this was the perfect opportunity! I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to spend a whole ski season in Canada without working as it was expensive, so I decided the best way to do this was to get a job out there.

How did you decide where to go?

Like I said, I’ve always wanted to go to Canada to ski so it was a no brainer for me to go there. There were a few options in terms of ski resorts to go in Canada, so I did my research and Whistler looked amazing! BUNAC helped me with the rest and I was set to go.

Have you done ski and travel in other locations before going to Canada with BUNAC? If so, where?

I started skiing when I was 13 and previously only skied in France and Italy on school trips. Canada was always out of the question in terms of school trips as the school simply couldn’t afford it, so this was the perfect opportunity!

What’s one thing you remember from your first week ‘on the job’? I worked as a guest room attendant at Four Seasons in Whistler. I knew it would be a demanding job but totally worth it. One thing I remember was meeting the hotel dog, Maola, for the first time! Having a furry friend greet you every morning on shift was definitely a good reason to drag yourself out of bed

Tell us your favourite story from your trip

My favourite story from my trip was at the very end of the season when we all went to Alta Lake as a final goodbye. The entire lake was frozen over so we could walk right onto it. Myself and all my ski season friends – and apparently the rest of whistler - went to have on last celebration before we all went home. We got loads of photos all together which created great memories for us. We also had speakers playing music all over the top of the ice and a few drinks in hand, it was basically an outdoor party! A few of us brought some champagne (definitely a treat which wouldn’t normally fit our budget) and cakes from the bakery in whistler’s Olympic plaza (a firm favourite shop for many of us and I definitely recommend a visit there if you get the chance). Going to the lake was definitely my most favourite memory and story, we all got to say our final goodbyes before we set off back to whichever country we came from and is definitely my favourite memory.

Tell us about the most memorable person you met on your trip

There were so many amazing people I met on my trip to Canada so it’s hard to pick one person. However, it has to be one of my now bestfriends, Liv. I met Liv the first day I got to Canada as we were living in the same room. We both knew from day 1 we were going to get on well the minute we met each other. Even though Liv lives in Australia we still speak every day and we plan to travel Europe together next summer! Liv and I went skiing together almost every day and we worked together too; even through the toughest shifts she was able to make me laugh at something. Liv was my bestfriend through the whole season and she still is now. It’s hard to believe that you can meet such a lifelong friend on a ski season, but trust me you do meet some truly amazing people. I am so thankful to have someone like Liv in my life and all thanks to going on a ski season, who would’ve thought!?

Did you travel with someone or alone? Tell us a bit about what it was like.

For the entirety of my gap year I solo travelled. I must admit, as a fresh out of school 18-year-old this was pretty daunting! After I had finished the travelling section of my gap year I hopped on a plane to Canada and soon arrived at my accommodation where I met everyone who I was living with. This can be quite a nerve-racking experience, meeting people from all over the world and being put into a room of 8 girls you’ve never met before. But it only took me about half an hour to settle in and after that the rest was history. I spent the rest of my season with some of the loveliest girls I’ve ever met, and they truly are lifelong friends.

What’s your best insider tip?

Other than the obvious tips of save your money and always be safe! My best insider tip would definitely be nice to everyone you meet. It might seem obvious, but I’ve met plenty of people along the way which I’d describe as “not my type of person”. Being nice to everyone you meet can definitely get you a long way in terms of feeling comfortable when travelling. Also, not only do you make friends from all over the world, but it can also come with great benefits! One of the people I met on my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia lives in New Zealand and they told me I always have a place to stay if I ever visit New Zealand again.

Would you do it again? Why or why not?

Without a doubt I would 100% do another ski season! My ski season was my absolute favourite part of my gap year, not only because, of course, I love skiing, but because of the amazing things I was able to experience and the incredible people I met. Vancouver was not too far from Whistler and the coach to get there was pretty cheap so that allowed me to branch out to visit other places. I’m already planning on going back to Canada after I’ve finished university with Liv to do another season so that should say something! I’d love to do it again to visit other ski resorts in Canada other than just Whistler.

A huge thank you to Mikki for taking the time to chat to us - you can follow her on Instagram @mikki.cleaver - and if you are ready to get your Canada adventure underway you can check out our Working Holiday Canada programme here.