Back in January, I took a vacation for 9 nights to the beautiful, culturally rich Caribbean island country of Curaçao. Typically, a trip like this would cost at least $2,000 in hotel and airfare alone.
My trip cost me about $800 for everything. That included airfare, airbnb stay, car rental, trip insurance, car insurance, local SIM card, all food/meals, diving and snorkeling.
I made this happen through a combination of points, some careful budget planning, and a little luck. In this post, I share the breakdown of what I did to find these deals, including the breakdown of all the costs.
I am a lover of the sea. Between exploring the Namibian desert and touring the South African bush, I was feeling landlocked! Luckily, Simon's Town is a quiet, coastal neighborhood on the cape peninsula of South Africa. Famous for its views of False Bay, Simon's Town offers the "closest encounter with penguins in the world."
I flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town late in the evening of June 9th. I was coming directly off of a 5-day safari tour, ready for the final 4 days of my trip to Africa.
It was a rainy day my first day in Simon's Town. I was there to SCUBA dive but I had to wait for better conditions. Instead, I made the most of my first day there exploring this little seaside village.
I've seen some of the best sunrises around the world and climbed sand dunes, as well. But never have I experienced sunrise views like I did from the top of Dune 45 in the Namib Desert.
Dune 45 is located on the way to the Sossusvlei salt and clay pans in Namib-Naukluft National Park. Deadvlei is another famous highlight of this park that brings in hordes of tourists year round. But views from Dune 45 of the expansive, billowing sand of the Namib desert holds its own—especially at sunrise.
Before I could climb up Dune 45, I had to gain access to the park via the gateway town of Sesriem. In this post, I share my experience getting through Sesriem's gates, climbing Dune 45, and checking out other highlights of this breathtaking natural landscape.
One of the hardest parts of travel is deciding where to go in the first place. When the world is so enormous and the destinations so numerous, it feels like we'll never see it all. In truth, we most likely won't see it all. So we are left with picking and choosing what we can manage in one lifetime.
If you're like me, you like to be as informed as possible when making any decision. So for the thinkers, the planners, the people who used to be indecisive but now they are not so sure, this post is for you. This is your guide to the practical considerations for making the most informed decision possible about choosing your travel destination(s).
I know I've connected with a place when I want to return to it after I've left. I feel it in my soul. Similarly, there are places you will go in your travels that you know you won't be returning to. Candidasa is would be one of those places...if not for Crystal Beach. Crystal Beach Hotel was one of these chance encounters, a lucky draw, a diamond in the rough. I stumbled upon it when looking for inexpensive stays with beach property and good Wi-Fi. I was happy to find it surpassed my expectations.
Crystal beach is located in Candidasa—a location I had never heard of before—which only made it more intriguing. Going on the fact that I had never heard of Niue and my trip there turned out to top them all, I decided to take a chance on Candidasa. And I am so glad I did because Crystal Beach was exactly the respite I needed. The town, on the other hand, I could have done without!
I have an affinity for infinity pools. It's an obsession, really. This obsession started before I ever even left for my round-the-world trip. I have a Pinterest account to which I would pin photos from Bali every now and then. These usually consisted of luxury resorts with infinity pools. Now I was wandering around Nusa Lembongan and exploring Nusa Ceningan off the coast of Bali. I had made it my mission to find the best resorts with pools to crash. And I mean crash because I had no intentions of actually paying to stay at any of them!
I visited these resorts for the day and then, after I was through, I went back to my cheap-o accommodation to sleep! I call it: Winning at life. In this post, I share the awesome places I found to stay around the islands—without even staying there! Before long, you could be doing the same thing on a budget. Just like me, you'll feel like you've been transported into one of those Pinterest photos making everyone back home wonder how you could ever afford such luxury.
Never heard of Niue (pronounced “new-ay”)? I hadn’t heard of this island country either until about 2 months ago when I booked my trip there. Niue is a tiny little island in the South Pacific—and it’s so special you’re going to be longing to go by the end of this post.
People don’t come to Niue for its beaches and resorts—there’s only one sandy beach and one resort there! Instead, the few visitors to the “Rock of Polynesia” fly there for its exceptional diving and snorkeling, its unbelievable geography and coastal views, and its vibrant culture and friendly people. These and many other unique characteristics have easily made Niue my favorite travel destination yet! I wish I had known to put it on my bucket list sooner.
The world around me and the people who live in it. These are the two things I find myself constantly appreciating more and more as a travel. And the Central Otago region of New Zealand has the perfect example of both.
Carolina and I explored this gorgeous region from our campsite on Lake Dunstan.
Eventually, we got an offer from a connection I had made on the North Island to stay with a local for a couple of nights.
A bit of miscommunication about our arrival time led us to seeing even more stunning scenery en route to a new campsite and meeting some unexpected, hobbit-sized locals!
Since I started traveling around the world in September 2014, a lot of people have asked me how I’m financially able to travel for so long and whether or not I get tired of constantly traveling. In addition to saving tons of money on airfare by travel hacking my way to earning thousands of frequent flier miles, I also spend a fraction of the money other tourists do on accommodation.
I don’t get tired of traveling because housesitting and couchsurfing have allowed me to deviate the norm from my travel routine—and at little to no cost. The only thing I end up spending is time; time doing the things I do at home, like watching movies, cooking food, and hanging out with friends. The difference is I’m hanging out in a totally new place with new friends—and sometimes their pets!
We were desperate for a shower, food, and a bed. Two days of hiking the Tongariro Northern Circuit meant it was time to take it easy for a few days around the North Island of New Zealand. The hour was late, but we managed to find the last restaurant open in the National Park town and sneak into a backpackers for a shower before setting up camp for another night. The next day we would check into a hostel and wash 2 days of sweaty hiking clothes in the adorable town of Turangi.
Then we’d be on our way to the West coast for a short stay before driving North toward the Corromandel, a peninsula with beautiful beaches and native bush off the north shore. Harald the German, Marek the Czech guy and I relaxed a lot, discovered the Forgotten World Highway, and made smores at our camp near Mt. Taranaki.
Five months into my travels and I am on road trip #5 in New Zealand! I road tripped the North Island three times, did some house-sitting in Wellington over the holidays, and then traveled to the south island for a second house-sit. I planned road trip #4 with a German woman around the northern part of the south island. Now I am heading further south, road-tripping with Carolina who I met 5 months ago in Iceland! I’ve mainly been camping as a means to experience the countryside first-hand and save money on accommodation.
After traveling here for over 2 months, I can honestly say I never imagined so much beautiful and diverse landscape in such a condensed space. New Zealand truly has it all: rolling green pastures, monumental glaciers, native tropical forests, pristine sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, snow-covered mountains, active volcanoes, hot springs and pools—the list could go on and on. This is what I came here for. It’s a hiker’s, camper’s, roadtripper’s dream come true. Good thing I’m all three!
After 2 months road-tripping and camping around New Zealand, I’ve become a bit of an expert at both.
Many people who come to New Zealand quickly learn they must hit the road with a car and tent or campervan in order to see the native forests, craggy volcanoes, rolling farmlands and gorgeous beaches.
Making this happen in the most economically sound way possible can be a bit daunting. To help out the next traveler, I’ve decided to provide some tips and information about the best ways to obtain a car and camp around New Zealand. Basically, I’m sharing what worked best for me!
At long last, I was at customs about to leave Bangkok headed for New Zealand. I was in a strange place in my head, sad to leave Thailand behind after only one month there, but excited to be headed to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city.
My arrival to New Zealand happened to coincide with the premiere of the final Hobbit film. I chose Wellington as my destination city because it had been home to the film’s studio and workshop as well as the previous two film premieres. But just a few weeks before my scheduled flight, I learned the final premiere would be held in London instead. At first I was disappointed, but then I remembered why I had planned to visit New Zealand in the first place: to see the gorgeous countryside. So my plan was to get out of the city as soon as possible. Easier said than done.
Throughout my first two weeks in Thailand, I kept hearing people tell me about a place called Pai (pronounced pie). “Have you been to Pai yet?” “Are you going to Pai?” “Oh, you have to go to Pai!” I learned it’s a small, hippie town with a feeling not unlike the Thai islands. The only difference is it’s located in the Northern mountains surrounded by rice farms. I’m not always one to do what everyone else is doing, but I loved the life on Ko Tao so much I was craving more of the island feel.
I booked a van for the equivalent of $4.50 along the insanely windy 3 hour route between Chiang Mai and Pai. I had no plans once I got there. I figured I’d spend 2 or 3 days just to feel the place out. I'd find out what to do and where to go after I arrived. Being completely open to seeing and doing anything, I ended up staying 7 nights and having an awesome time! In fact, I want to go back. So this is my list of reasons to visit Pai, or go again!.
Before coming to Thailand, I had done an exorbitant amount of research on what to expect, what to avoid, and what to absolutely see and do. But as a rule in life, and also when I travel, I try not to have hard and fast expectations about things—I like to let my first-hand experience influence my impression and direct my path. This is how I create my own personal norm, tailored to me.
Pretty much every person and blog said something along the lines of “avoid the tourist trap of Khao San Road” or “go to Khao San Road just to experience it, but don’t stay there.” I decided to go against this advice completely by, instead, booking my first night of accommodation in the center of it all. I had researched some good, reasonably priced hotels in Bangkok and the one which stuck out to me was called the Rikka Inn. It was calling my name—literally!—and so I didn’t care about its location or its higher-than-usual price compared to the guesthouses in the area. I just knew I’d need a good night of sleep after the 11-hour flight from Munich.