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 started planning my trip to Africa when I was 6 years old. Okay, not exactly! I was 6 years old when I saw The Lion King. Since then, I’ve lusted after the country, eagerly awaiting the day I could go.
A great, low-cost trip does not always need advance planning. I planned this trip starting in late January of this year with the majority of the details worked out in March and April.
I don't make a ton of money working in higher education and I live in a high cost-of-living area. So I had to plan this out carefully according to a strict budget. I also had limited time off—about 18 days—to create an itinerary that would hit the highlights. In the end, I managed to cover flights, activities, accommodation, food, and more while keeping the cost under $3000.
You know how people say to "keep your money in different places" when you travel? You know, they say you should split it between your suitcase, your carry on, and even stuff some in your sock.
Well, turns out it's a DAMN GOOD IDEA! Even better, keep an entire wallet (with IDs and credit cards and money) separate from your other wallet. I did this and it saved me a huge hassle while traveling my second time to NOLA.
I also learned what happens when you don't have an ID to show the TSA at the airport. Apparently, this happens all the time and they have a simple procedure in place. Who knew?!
Following from Part 1, this part of the guide to deciding where to travel goes a bit deeper. Actually, it turns the conversation from the outer, external components to your decision and focuses your attention inward.
This post is more specifically for the worriers. The people who have a bit of fear about travel will benefit from this post whether they are worried about getting lost in an unfamiliar place or about not enjoying themselves as much as they thought they would.
This is your guide to the personal considerations when deciding on your travel destination(s).
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 have an update: I started a new job this week—yay! And there's even more to celebrate: This week marks 6 months that I have been back in the United States! In all of my blogging and reading other people’s travel blogs, I rarely hear people write about the adaptation back into the job market after an extended period of travel. So I've decided to write about it in this post.
I will in no way sugar coat this: Job hunting post-travel is not easy. To give yourself the best possible chance of returning to a job, I will share in this post the tricks I used before, during, and after nearly 2 years of travel without official employment. These tricks include thinking carefully about your reasons for traveling, staying connected to your contacts along the way, and having a "product" to show for your absence.
I had to book two round-trip domestic flights recently. One was from New York to San Francisco, California to visit my friend Erin. Erin recently gave birth to her first baby (I'm an Auntie!). The other flight I booked is from New York to Nashville, Tennessee. I'm heading to the famous "Music City" in 2 weeks to celebrate the 30th birthday of my friend Dasha of Dancin' Down Them Dirty, Dusty Trails.
Both Erin and Dasha are my closest friends from the USA and we all love to travel and go on adventures. I jumped on the chance to book flights to spend quality time with each of them. Of course, I did not spend more money than I had to because I used a combination of miles/points to pay for them. In this post, I give a brief overview of how I earn tons of miles and points to cover the cost of airfare. I also explain the exact process I went through to find available award flights and the best value for redeeming miles and points for these flights.
The best way to avoid roaming charges and other heightened fees for talk, text, and data overseas is to use a local SIM card at your destination. SIM cards give you access to a local phone number and the plans are usually pretty cheap, e.g. $10-$30 for 30 days.
Many people opt to use Wi-Fi while they are abroad. This is certainly an option to consider—especially if you're only going to be at your destination for a few days. But even for those few days, you may want to consider a local SIM card for some of the benefits it offers.
I used local SIM cards in most of the countries to which I traveled during my 15 month trip around the world. Along the way, I learned a lot about when it is and is not a good idea to get one and what to do to make life easier when setting up and using a SIM card abroad.
I'm an out and proud tech nerd. I love when all of my devices sync up perfectly, run smoothly, and produce quality results—and I go mad when they don't! So you better believe I had one of the most seamless tech setups I could muster for my travels.
In this post, I finally share with you exactly what my tech setup entailed for my 15 months of travel around the world.* You'll get to find out how I took a photograph on my digital camera and made it jump to my phone, to my cloud storage, and then onto my laptop in one fell swoop.
Of course, I include pros and cons for the big stuff and you'll also learn about all the little accessories, apps, and additional pro-tips and tricks I applied to make this tech work to my great advantage. My secret? Move out of the way Macbooks, it all starts with the Windows Surface!
First of all, hiiii!! I'm back in the USA! And Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends and family who celebrate! Since I am back in New York, I've decided to do an update on my packing list after 14+ months of traveling around the world. I first posted about the contents of my one bag over a year ago. Looking back, it's actually amazing how little the contents changed. I suppose this speaks to how well I did my research before I left! *Patting self on back*
The items that did change are quite interesting. Well, I think they're interesting. Anyway, bear with me as I describe the contents of my bag. What's been added. What's been removed. Then I'll give you a downloadable finalized packing list for long-term world travel. It's in checklist format so you can easily use it to help you prepare for your own trip! Yay!
For a whole year I kept up with posting personal updates on my long-term travel experience at the start of every month. These anticipated check-in posts held me accountable to sharing my most personal thoughts as I embarked on my first continuous travel adventure around the world.
I’m glad I did these check-ins for my "year of deviation." But now that I’m in the 13th month of my travels, it’s time for a new focus. As part of my new monthly updates I will be reviewing a different travel hack of my choice—or yours!
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!
"Wow. So what do you pack for a year of travel?"
I get this question usually about 5 minutes into telling people about my upcoming trip. For me, part of travel hacking, especially for a long-term trip like the Year of Deviation, involves figuring out how to be as free and flexible as possible. This means unburdening myself from having to carry around lots of heavy luggage.
I laugh at myself looking back at how I used to travel. On a 5-week trip to England a few years ago, I checked an enormous suitcase, had a carry-on suitcase, and a backpack. I thought this was traveling light. But then I recall the checked bag was incredibly cumbersome at about 8lbs over the weight limit when I arrived at the airport. I almost got charged a hefty fee for that monstrosity if it hadn't been for some last minute adjustments.
In my last post, I described some important questions you need to ask yourself to determine your readiness to start earning miles and points with credit cards. Below are some frequently asked questions I have gotten from people interested in the miles game. The information below is based on what I have learned and what has worked for me over the last 18 months.
Really, in comparison to other people in the miles-earning game, I am a rookie hacker/miles earner. But I hope that even my basic knowledge and experience will encourage others to get started and maybe even help some people who are already in the miles game. Seriously, earning miles to pay for the cost of flights is worth it even for the casual traveler. Why pay so much on airfare when you don't have to?!
Back in December 2012, I met up with my old friend Rob from high school to ask him how to travel hack. I saw that he had been deviating the norm by visiting and living in some pretty amazing places and doing it all with little to no money spent on airfare. I had to know how he did it.
When I made excuses in the past about why I couldn't travel, I made those excuses mainly because the cost to fly to all the countries I wanted to visit would mean spending an enormous chunk of my savings. It was money I just didn't have to burn as a graduate student on a small income with NYC living expenses. What was the best way to minimize this expense?