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Plan Before Land

My name is Joanna, I started creating detailed travel itineraries in my early 20’s and realized I never wanted to stop. I want to help you travel prepared by creating itineraries for all over the world. Come and join me on my journey and continue reading to find out more about Plan Before Land!

Joanna Neander

Porto, Portugal photoshoot with Maksym

Let’s begin!

I am a born and raised Toronto girl, where I grew up a five minute drive from the airport. I spent warm days lying on the grass in my backyard, watching planes fly by, wondering where the people on board were going or who they’d be reunited with, the love and excitement they must feel. (This sounds like the beginning of a movie or book, wow). I obviously take my daydreaming seriously, OK? 

The early years…

My eyes were open to travel at a young age, growing up with parents from different backgrounds. My mom was Slovenian/Croatian and my dad is from Quebec. Our parents were big travellers and wanted us to go and see the world with them. I thank them everyday for instilling the values of travel in us at such a young age.

We spent summers visiting family all over Canada, from Alberta to Quebec. We visited our cousins in Slovenia every other summer, where we swam in the sea in Croatia, hiked mountains in Austria, and visited religious monuments in Bosnia. March breaks were mostly relaxing in Cuba or Dominican. Canada’s warmer months we spent visiting different states; i.e. Vermont to Florida.

High school…

My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was in high school. At this point, our family holidays abroad took a bit of a pause, however, we made the most of our summers by spending time together in Ontario cottage country. 

I went through many mental health challenges in those formative teenage years. I did not know who I was at 15 or 16 years old, resulting in no sense of control over my life or what was happening.

My family could tell I was struggling, therefore, encouraged me to go on a 4 month exchange program in Atri, a small mountain town in the middle of Italy.

It was a life changing experience. Truly a wild and amazing time, as wild as it can get for Grade 11 Catholic school students… That exchange is the keeper of one of my most cherished memories, my parents surprising me in Piazza Navona in Rome. This was my mom’s last trip to Europe.


My time in Italy opened my eyes to the world in a different lens. I adopted the mindset that no moment in this life is guaranteed and that we have to make every second on this beautiful Earth count.

Partying with my British girlfriends at Nottinghill Carnival
With my sister at the Eiffel Tower, Paris

My young adult years…

I studied a Bachelor of Nursing Science at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. The summer after my first year, I studied French in Nova Scotia, Canada. I don’t remember that much, I can probably only say, Est-ce que je peux aller au toilet? (Can I go to the toilet?).

The rest of the summer and the summer after, I spent as much quality time with my mom and family as I could.

My mom passed away at the start of my third year of nursing school. I can talk about her death or what we went through for paragraphs, but I won’t. Truth be told, I am still going through it eight years later. The impact she had on my life, and the lives of many others, show in all of us that loved her.

I began to avidly travel after my third year of university. Every holiday was spent somewhere other than Toronto. I completed my degree and began my nursing career, making sure any job I took gave me the ability to travel. It became my biggest passion. 

The years around the start of my career, I met two lifelong English girlfriends in Prague, dated and broke up with a guy (just as quickly as we met) in New York City, went to Spain (and accidentally ate a $200 squid), with someone I’d consider just a friend, who is now one of my closest. I visited family in Slovenia for weeks, took a sister trip to Paris, learnt about World War II in Berlin, and partied with my best friend in Cuba. Travel was (and still is), my happy place.

Selfie of me, Joanna Neander, on the Amsterdam Canal
Gorgeous cows & moutains on Velika Planina, Slovenia
Jasper National Park, Alberta

My travel today…

This takes me to the present. I met my husband Arujan (who is a guest writer on this blog), six years ago, when I was 23 years old.

I am so thankful that he shares my love of travel. Arujan and I have started to adventure the world together and I am so excited for what is to come.

Arujan was born in Sri Lanka, and has not been back since he left at 3 years old. We are looking forward to visiting the other side of the world and seeing where he is from. We have big plans for the next two years. 

We spent a lot of time in Europe before the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, we chose to explore our gorgeous country, Canada

We just got married in Douro Valley, outside of Porto in Portugal. 

I would consider myself a mid-range traveller. (This is subject to change over the upcoming years). I love looking for deals wherever I can and setting alerts for the cheapest flights… however, I also LOVE to eat at expensive restaurants and enjoy a luxurious spa day

This blog will showcase my travels, my guides, my food & drink recommendations, my packing lists but most importantly my detailed travel itineraries.

The type of person I am cannot be summed up into a couple of words or a hashtag. Thank you for coming along on this journey with me to travel the world and find out what I am all about. I promise to make it as entertaining as possible.

My fiance Arujan and I posing in front of Lake Louise, Alberta