October 2019

Introducing The Nomadic Network!

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friends connecting over a dinner table
Updated: 10/31/2019 | October 31st, 2019

How often have you told friends or family about a dream trip of yours, only to have them scoff and remind you to be “more realistic”?

How often do you wish you had a group of people who understood you? Or a place you could go to get your 10,000 questions answered before your next trip?

How often have you painstakingly researched a complete itinerary only meet some stranger at a hostel whose story had the power to make you change your plans entirely?

We all need a supportive community — and as much as I love the Internet (and I do love the Internet), the best connections are made offline and in real life.

When I first started planning my trip around the world in 2005, I didn’t know anyone who had done something similar. Heck, I only knew one person who ever even studied abroad. Travel wasn’t a big thing to the people in my world.

And, unlike today, I couldn’t just go online and ask a bunch of bloggers questions or find countless articles and websites to help me. In the early 2000s, there wasn’t much beyond a very limited number of hard-to-navigate forums, a few websites, and a stack of guidebooks on my desk.

I had a lot of questions but few answers.

What I needed was a community of people who could give me the first-hand advice and practical tips that would make my trip better, and help me get over my fears.

And, when I came back, there were very few people who could sympathize with the mix of emotions I was feeling. Again, I was alone. I wished for a community of people who could understand my post-travel blues.

After being a nomad for over ten years, I’ve been lucky enough to create my own community of travel enthusiasts through this website.

And today, I want to expand this community and take what we have online and bring it into the real world.

So I’m pleased to announce the launch of The Nomadic Network!

It’s this website’s in-person meetup initiative.

The Nomadic Network (TNN for short) will be a global community of travel lovers who support and inspire one another to travel better, cheaper, and longer. Whether it’s a short jaunt to a nearby city or an indefinite round-the-world trip, the community will be there to help anyone who wants to (and loves to) travel.

Years ago, we did a trial run of these events. I met so many awesome travelers at these meetups, and the one thing I kept hearing was how you wished these kinds of events happened more regularly.

Well, now we’re bringing them back!

Erica, whom you might have known as my right-hand woman over the last six years, will helm this new initiative. She’ll be working on it full-time!

How will The Nomadic Network work?

We’re building in-person chapters all around the world. Local chapters will meet consistently to share stories, trade advice, do activities together, and host events. We’re creating a space for people to meet travelers in their city (even if they or you are just passing through) and form friendships and bonds. Mixers, picnics, brunches, presentations, expert panels — anything that gets you inspired to travel more!

The first set of events will be community mixers where we’ll meet and get to know each other. If you’re based in these cities or will be there when we launch, join us:

(NOTE: These are just the first events! We’re going to be doing more events in the coming months. We’ll be on the West Coast, in the Midwest, other parts of Canada, the world, etc. This is just the first batch! If you don’t see destination, don’t worry! Our goal is to be everywhere! )

Events are $10 (to help cover costs) and come with a free drink! Plus, you can bring a friend for free (so if you split the costs it’s $5 per person!)

How Can You be a Part of TNN?

There are a few simple ways!

1. Attend one of our first events!
If you can come to one of our first events, please do. You can find the full list here.

2. Apply to lead your local chapter
We need help leading these TNN chapters. Erica (our Events Director) and I will help with the booking of venues, contacting guest speakers, renting microphones and equipment, managing attendee registration, and helping with and paying for anything we can.

But we need eyes, ears, and leaders on the ground. If you want to learn more about becoming one of our chapter leaders (including in the cities we are launching in the list above), click this link and submit your application. We’ll be in touch!

3. Volunteer at an event
If being a leader isn’t your thing but you’d like to volunteer your time during the events, awesome! We’ll need plenty of support to get these chapters up and running. Just fill this out and we’ll get back to you.

4. Help beta test our new community website
If you want to help create a user-friend website for this new community, all you need to do is visit The Nomadic Network’s website and create a quick traveler profile. It only takes two minutes to create your login and profile. Then you can join a chapter, find events near you, poke around the existing content, and sign up for in-person meetups. Then send us all of your feedback so we can get it working super smoothly.

(This is only the first draft of the website so there are lots of kinks to straighten out before we fully launch it and make it the center of The Nomadic Network world.)

***

Creating a chapter-based organization is a HUGE undertaking, but we’re very excited to get started. It’s been on our list of things to create for a long time now and we’re finally doing it! This is going to take our community to the next level! It will take some time to get all the events up and running but I think we’re off to a strong start.

So get ready to meet everyone IRL! 🙂

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and that will save you time and money too!

The post Introducing The Nomadic Network! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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10 Offbeat Things to Do in Istanbul

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A sweeping view over Istanbul with a massive mosque in the background
Updated: 10/28/2019 | October 28th, 2019

Istanbul is home to some famous historical sites — the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, and Spice Market. They are stunning, important historical sites to see and experience. But the city also offers lots of fun things to do that have fewer crowds and are a bit off the beaten path.

As important as it is to visit culturally significant historical sites (after all, there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist) there is so much more to every destination than just the main tourist bullet points.

Of course, you shouldn’t miss Istanbul’s major sites. But once you’ve done them, there are plenty of offbeat things to see and do here. Here are my favorites to help you get started and make the most out of your trip:

1. Descend into the Basilica Cistern

A long hallway down the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul
Most travelers walk on top of this ancient cavern for days without realizing it. After entering an unassuming doorway you’ll climb down a gloomy set of stairs, ending up in an underground former water reservoir built in the sixth century. It’s filled with centuries-old columns and statues and the space is eerily lit in shades of orange. Koi fish swim in the standing water, and you have to walk on wooden planks to get around. You can hear drips echoing, and there are two mysterious statues with the head of Medusa. It kind of feels like you’re in a scary movie.

Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, +90 212-512-1570 yerebatansarnici.com. Open daily from 9am-5:30pm (except religious holidays). Admission is 20 TRY for foreigners.

2. Explore the Asian Side

Building on the Asian side of Istanbul
Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents; it spans from Europe to Asia. The Asian side (also called the Anatolian side) is separated from the European side by the Bosphorus Strait. You can take a bus over the famous Bosphorus Bridge, or you can ride over on a ferry. The city’s main tourist sites are on the European side, but if you’ve never been to Asia, it’s fun to cross over so you can say you’ve been there. If you’re interested in shopping, check out the popular markets in Kadiköy.

Other worthy activities include touring the Beylerbeyi Palace, riding up to the top of Çamlica Hill for incredible views of the city, and strolling along Bagdat Caddesi to explore the many restaurants, cafés, and shops.

The ferry will cost 3 TRY for a one-way ticket.

3. Visit a Real Hammam

(Picture not available—everyone was naked inside!)
Many of the swanky hotels in Istanbul have hammams, otherwise known as Turkish baths, but they usually aren’t the real deal. They’re made for Westerners looking for a cushy and modest experience. Real hammams have been a Turkish tradition for thousands of years, and they have served as both a place to cleanse and to socialize. Most hammams are separated by gender, and women generally go topless. You transition through several different rooms of different temperatures, one being a hot steam room much like a sauna. You can opt to pay an attendant to give you a thorough scrub-down — it’s rough but invigorating! Çemberlitai Hamami is a good option for visitors looking to give the experience a try; another popular one is Cagaloglu. Both are located in the Old Town.

Vezirhan Cad. No. 8, +90 552-381-1584, cemberlitashamami.com. Open daily from 6am-12am. Admission starts at 160 TRY per person and goes up from there depending on what treatments/services you want.

4. Go to the Prince Islands

An offbeat activity is a horse and carriage ride through the streets of Princes' Island
This chain of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul provides a unique getaway from the crowds. An easy day trip during the warm months, the islands are just a quick ferry ride from the city. Most travelers visit the four larger islands (Büyükada, the biggest and most popular, Burgazada, Heybeliada, and Kinaliada). You can explore historic buildings, eat at tasty cafés, and see beautiful homes as you wander about.

What makes these islands special is that no cars are allowed on the islands, making them quite peaceful and quiet and a nice break from the noise of the city. You can get around by walking, bicycle, or horse and carriage.

Try to take one of the early ferries in the day so you explore the islands before our visitors arrive.

The journey by ferry will take around 1 hour and 30 minutes depending on what island you are going to. Tickets are 5 TRY per person for a single journey ticket.

5. Take a Ferry

View of castles taken from the ferry around the Turkish islands
A great way to explore this massive city is by boat. You’ll see many boats that offer paid tours of the Bosphorus, but if you want to save money and have more flexibility, take a regular ferry ride instead. The fare will be cheaper, and you won’t be competing for space with other tourists trying to take photos.

You’ll pass by Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorus Bridge, gorgeous mansions, mosques with massive minarets, other castles and palaces, and more. You can hop off, eat some fresh seafood, and then head back. It’s a budget-friendly way to explore without bumping into other tourists.

Round-trip ferry tickets will cost 25 TRY per person.

6. Explore Jewish History

Jewish Istanbul
While Turkey is predominantly a Muslim country, it has a surprisingly long Jewish history. There are Jewish heritage tours you can take, or you can explore the stops on your own. Jews have lived in Turkey for thousands of years, but the population really grew during the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s. Growth increased in 1492 when Spain expelled its Jews and the Ottoman Empire welcomed them as they were stereotyped as having good business skills and wealth.

Istanbul’s Galata and Balat quarters are steeped in Jewish history and you can find historic synagogues in both areas of town. Istanbul also has a Jewish museum (The Museum of Turkish Jews) that does a good job of illustrating the contributions and struggles of Jews in Turkey.

Bereketzade Mahallesi, +90 212-292-6333, muze500.com. Open Sunday-Thursday from 10am-5pm and Fridays from 10am-1pm (closed Saturdays). Admission is free, though donations are encouraged. Passport (or other official ID) is required to enter.

7. Watch the Fishermen on Galata Bridge

Lots of fisherman on Galata Bridge in Turkey on a cold day
Every day, dozens, if not hundreds, of local men form a row along the top level of the Galata Bridge and fish over the edge. It’s an incredible sight. They spend hours hoping to catch fresh seafood, and some of them will sell it to you while they’re still out there fishing. Many of the men don’t even make a catch; they seem to enjoy just standing there hanging their pole over the water.

There’s also a fish market at the base of the bridge, and the many booths of fresh-caught fish are fun to look at (though it can also be a bit gross).

8. See the Obelisk of Theodosius

The Obelisk of Theodosius in Istanbul, Turkey
This Egyptian obelisk was carved around 1500 BCE near Luxor before it was pillaged by the Romans and moved to Alexandria. Not long after, it was moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul) where it has remained ever since. There are well-preserved hieroglyphs on all four sides which depict Tutmoses III’s victory during a battle on the Euphrates River.

The obelisk is usually surrounded by locals relaxing and chatting, and there are often buskers performing here as well. It’s a good place to sit back and people-watch while appreciating this incredible historical relic.

9. Snap a Photo with Tombili

The Tombili the cat statue in Istanbul, Turkey
Chances are you already know you Tombili is — you just don’t realize it. Tombili was a street cat from Istanbul who went viral in a meme that showed the cat lounging on the stairs like a person would sit on a bench (the meme was called “chill cat” if you want to look it up).

When Tombili died in 2016, the local mayor had a statue commissioned and it now sits where Tombili’s famous photo was taken. Thieves immediately stole the statue but, after a huge public outcry, it was returned.

10. Visit Miniaturk

Small statues and tourists at the Miniaturk park in Istanbul, Turkey
Miniaturk is a miniature park located in Istanbul — and it’s one of the largest miniature parks in the world. To be honest, I didn’t even know what miniature parks were before encountering this place. In short, the park is full of small replicas of famous sights and attractions, made to a 1/25 scale. There are over 100 models in the park including the Obelisk of Theodosius, the Mostar Bridge, and the Hagia Eirene Church. The park spans almost 15 acres and there are audio guides available around the park so you can listen and learn more about each individual attraction.

Örnektepe, +90 212-222-2882, miniaturk.com.tr. Open daily from 9am-6pm. Admission is 15 TRY.
***
Istanbul is a very large and crowded city and it can definitely be intimidating to visit. But it’s also home to some fascinating history and tons of unique sights and attractions — many of which don’t get the attention they deserve.

By adding some of these less-visited attractions into your itinerary you’ll be able to have a much more unique and authentic experience while still being able to see all the wonderful sights that make Istanbul the eclectic, beautiful city that it is.

Book Your Trip to Istanbul: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
To find the best budget accommodation, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most comprehensive inventory. Some of the best places to stay in Istanbul are:

  • Cheers Hostel – This hostel is consistently rated as one of the best in the country. It’s safe, clean, and has free Wi-Fi and free breakfast.
  • Sultans Inn – This hostel is in a great location, it’s clean, and the staff are friendly and helpful.
  • Agora Hostel and Guesthouse – This laid back hostel has a great free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and a relaxing tooftop terrace where you can take in the views of the city.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Photo credit: 4 – NKCPhoto, 8 – Erik Cleves Kristensen,9 – Nevit,

The post 10 Offbeat Things to Do in Istanbul appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Win a Trip to Thailand for Two! (And I’ll Meet You There!)

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Omaze and Nomadic Matt
Posted: 10/24/19 | October 24th, 2019

A few years ago, I found this charity website called Omaze. They are an awesome online fundraising platform that connects incredible charities, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and people who want to make a difference.

I can’t fully remember how I found them but I do remember the campaign was to have wine with Jennifer Lawrence and support a voting right’s organization.

So I donated in hopes of winning (I did not).

Then I got hooked on donating money to charities in hopes of meeting my favorite celebs. (I did not win that George Clooney one either!) Though I lost, I was happy to know my donation supported worthy organizations.

Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to meet the folks from Omaze and we decided to partner together to raise money for a charity near and dear to my heart: FLYTE.

The Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education (FLYTE) was founded in 2015 as our community charity. It raises money for underserved students so they can go on overseas educational trips. We partner with schools in low-income communities that lack the existing resources to provide a global education for their students and fund trips that best align with their curriculum. We want to make sure these trips have an educational and service component to them.

The goal is to show these students the world beyond their bubble. In a world that seems to want to build walls, I wanted to find a way to tear them down. I want students with limited opportunities to know that there is a big world out there and it is full of possibilities and that no dream is too big. I want to show them that the world they see on TV is not the world that exists and that people in foreign countries are just like them.

And I wanted to show them that their education is important!

Since we started, we’ve sent over 70 kids overseas to counties like Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador. That’s 70 people with new passports and a changed view of the world!

Now, I’ve partnered with Omaze to raise money for FLYTE by giving away a trip to Thailand. You’ll be able to win a 10 day trip to Thailand for you and a friend that will include things like:

  • 10 days exploring the captivating food and culture of Thailand with stops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and one of the islands
  • A full itinerary of activities like temple visits, cooking classes, food tours, a visit to an elephant sanctuary, snorkeling trips, beach time, and more
  • Roundtrip flights, transportation between cities, and accommodation in 4-star hotels

And, to top it all off, you’ll have me as your guide for part of it!

I’ll be there to welcome you to the country, show you around Bangkok, the city I used to call home, and answer all your questions before you continue onward!

Here’s more:

 
Donations start at $10 USD and the contest goes until December 12th.

And, best of all, this trip is open to pretty much everyone in the world. This isn’t just for U.S. or Canada folks. There’s a bunch of legal stuff on Omaze’s website to read but if you are 18 and older and aren’t a residents of Belgium, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Italy, North Korea, Singapore, Sudan, Syria or Thailand, you’re eligible to win (see their site for all the legal stuff). (When they told me it was open to so many people, I was thrilled!)

So enter here for a chance to win a trip to Thailand, come hang out with me, and help support an organization that is working to send underserved kids on overseas trips that helps broaden their horizon and makes them better global citizens.

Sincerely,

Nomadic Matt

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and that will save you time and money too!

The post Win a Trip to Thailand for Two! (And I’ll Meet You There!) appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Is Belize Safe to Visit?

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An empty beach in Belize with a leaning palm tree beside the ocean
Posted: 10/21/2019 | October 21st, 2019

Whether it’s relaxing on a picturesque beach, exploring Mayan ruins, or snorkeling the world’s second longest barrier reef, you’ll discover that Belize is full of amazing and adventurous things to do. The country is one of the most unique destinations in Central America and among my favorite countries in the region. It’s also where I did my first solo backpacking trip and, since that first trip, I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent there.

From the Latin culture of the interior to the Caribbean Rasta vibe of the coast to the old English feel of some of the islands, Belize is a mash-up of vibrant and historic cultures.

The country is popular with backpackers, vacationers, dive enthusiasts, and honeymooners alike, offering something for every travel style and interest.

And tourism is on the rise, too.

In 2018, Belize saw an all-time high of 1.5 million visitors — which is a lot for a country of just over 400,00 people! Tourism will no doubt continue to increase here as Belize is one of the safest countries in the area to visit.

But just because it’s safe doesn’t mean you can let your guard down fully. Here are some tips to help you stay safe during your visit:

9 Safety Tips for Belize

1. Avoid isolated areas – If you’re somewhere isolated, you’ll be at a greater risk for getting robbed, especially at night and in the cities. Try to stay where the crowds are — that’s the best way to avoid being singled out by potential muggers.

2. Be aware of your surroundings while in crowds – While sticking to where the crowds will help you avoid getting mugged, it will also make you a target for petty theft. Tourists are usually easy targets for pickpockets, so when you are in the popular tourist areas make sure your valuables are secure.

3. Don’t wear flashy items – Petty theft is the most common threat here, so remove any jewelry or watches, and don’t wave your phone around. Do your best to blend in, so you don’t become a target for pickpockets. If you happen to find yourself a victim of armed robbery, follow the instructions of the robber and give up your valuables; these material items can be replaced — but your life cannot.

(I learned this lesson the hard way in Colombia.)

4. Don’t leave your items unattended – If you are spending the day on the beaches of Placencia Peninsula, Hopkins Village, or Caye Caulker, do not leave your belongings unattended while swimming or walking along the sand, as locals and tourists alike can easily swipe your valuables. If you can, find friends at your hostel to hit the beach with so you can take turns watching over each other’s things while you swim and relax.

5. Avoid the bus at night – If you need to get somewhere at night, take a taxi. It will be safer than any public transportation. Have your accommodation call the taxi for you so you can be sure you’re getting a reputable driver. Make sure you get in a taxi with a green license plate, as those indicate authorized taxis. If you’re a solo female traveler, make sure you travel with other people at night (even in taxis).

6. Be careful on public transit – If you must take public transit, keep your valuables on you and well secured, especially on “chicken buses” (colorfully decorated school buses that have been converted to public transportation for goods and people). Theft is common on night buses, so avoid them if you can. (Buses also tend to not run on time, and sometimes they are extremely slow, packed, or both. Be prepared for the experience!)

7. Don’t do drugs – Cartels in Belize have made life very difficult for the local population. Don’t support them by buying their products. Drug penalties are also harsh in the region, and you don’t want to end up in jail!

8. Stick to the touristy parts of Belize City – Belize City (the largest city) has some sketchy neighborhoods that unfortunately have been taken over by local gangs. There are areas, however, that are relatively safe, such as the main tourist part of town. If you don’t wander too far from there, you should be fine.

9. Buy travel insurance – Travel insurance will protect you if you get injured or ill, are a victim of theft, or must deal with delayed or canceled flights. It’s a worthwhile investment and can save you thousands of dollars. Don’t risk traveling without it. I always buy travel insurance before I leave home — a lesson I’ve learned the hard way!

FAQ on Safety in Belize

Below are answers to common questions I get on safety in Belize so you can be better prepared for your trip!

Is there a risk of Zika in Belize?

Belize has a history of Zika virus transmission, but there is currently no evidence of an ongoing outbreak. While the risks are low, travelers are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Use mosquito repellent on your body (on top of any sunscreen) to prevent bites, and sleep under a mosquito net to avoid getting bit while when you’re asleep.
  • Wear breathable garments that cover your arms and legs.
  • Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible to prevent mosquitos from entering your room.
  • Pregnant women or couples considering pregnancy should consult a healthcare practitioner prior to travel.

Is hitchhiking safe there?

Hitchhiking in Belize is quite common, easy, and — most importantly — safe. My friends and I hitchhiked throughout the country and saw lots of locals doing it too. HitchWiki has a lot of information on hitchhiking in Belize to help you get started.

Is the street food safe?

It sure is safe to have street food in Belize! The best and most affordable way to experience the local cuisine is through their street food, which has Afro-Caribbean and Mexican cultural influences. Sample conch fritters, ceviche, or coconut curry and enjoy the variety of delicious flavors!

Is the tap water safe to drink?

Belize’s Ministry of Health has taken steps toward making tap water drinkable for locals. However, during the rainy season, some areas experience flooding, which may contaminate the tap water. The best way to make sure your drinking water is safe is to bring a SteriPen or Lifestraw for your reusable water bottle. This way you’ll be able to purify the tap water, so you don’t get sick — and avoid single-use plastic bottles in the process.

Are the taxis safe?

Taxis are safe — and preferred — when getting around at night. You can ask your hostel or hotel to call a taxi for you. Be sure to get take an authorized taxi (they have green license plates). Use your smartphone and track the route on your offline map, and if the driver seems to be going off said route, speak up and ask why they’ve decided to take this direction instead. At the end of the day, always trust your gut: if a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out.

If you’re a solo female traveler, I suggest traveling with a friend or another traveler at night, just to be safe.

Is Belize safe for solo travelers?

Solo traveling in Belize is safe, although petty theft is one of the most common types of crime in Belize. The people involved in some sort of incident tend to be drinking or doing drugs or taking part in illegal activity. If you don’t do it at home, don’t do it in Belize! Follow that rule and you’ll be fine.

Is Belize safe for solo female travelers?

Belize is a safe place for solo female travelers, especially if you’re new to solo travel. It is one of the safer countries in this region. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Always be aware of your surroundings and have a downloaded map so you can find your way home. Don’t flaunt any valuables, and avoid taking taxis alone at night.

If you’ve done your research and still have concerns, I’d suggest asking to join other groups at hostels when going out or sticking to group travel or tours, just to be safe.

Here are a few helpful posts on safety written by our solo female travel experts:

***

I loved my time in Belize. The country may be small, but it had so much to offer, from dense jungles to massive caves and, of course, the famous Belize Barrier Reef, where the marine life is astonishing. (And in my opinion, the Blue Hole is one of the best places to go scuba diving.) The toughest challenge for you will be deciding what to do first!

While Belize is considered generally safe for traveling and backpacking, there’s no denying that some precautions should be taken. Read and follow this safety guide, and your experience in Belize will be a safe, fun, and memorable one.

Book Your Trip to Belize: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time. My favorite hostels in Chile are:

  • The Red Hut Inn (Belize City) – This is a chill social hostel with lots of areas to relax in — includng a pool. The staff are great too!
  • Dirty McNasty (Caye Caulker) – This is one of the biggest hostels in the country and known for its wild parties.
  • Anda Di Hows Hostel (Placencia) – A cozy hostel on the beach with great staff and free kayaks and snorkeling gear you can use for free.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use – and I think they will help you too!

Want More Information on Belize?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Belize for even more planning tips!

The post Is Belize Safe to Visit? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Is Azerbaijan Safe to Visit?

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Azerbaijan is one of those emerging destinations that tourists are finally starting to discover.

Until 1991, it was part of the Soviet Union, and ever since it became independent, travelers have increasingly started to visit this lesser-known country. The number of foreign visitors has nearly tripled in the last decade, to almost three million in 2018.

While the sightseeing hot spots might not be well known, there are plenty of things to see and do in Azerbaijan. The capital, Baku, has unique architecture, including lots of Parisian-style buildings from the 19th century. It is also home to some very futuristic constructions funded by the country’s oil wealth, such as the three Flame Towers, which are covered in LED screens that display dancing flames.

Outside of Baku, you can see mud volcanoes, visit 40,000-year-old rock paintings at Gobustan, or head to the hills to hike in the Caucasus Mountains.

But is Azerbaijan safe?

On the whole, Azerbaijan is very safe. Since the country is ruled by a strongman who wants very much to increase tourism to the country, crimes against visitors are virtually unheard of.

Why?

Because, if someone is caught committing a crime against a tourist, the punishments will be quite severe. Most crimes are usually small and involve taking advantage of people in crowded places, where perpetrators are less likely to get caught.

With that said, there are a few things to remember and a couple of locations to avoid. The tips below will help make your experience in Azerbaijan safe and enjoyable.

8 Safety Tips for Azerbaijan

1. Stay aware of your belongings – Petty theft and pickpocketing are rare here as the government (which is a dictatorship) punishes thieves quite harshly. Nevertheless, petty theft does happen from time to time in busy outdoor markets in Azerbaijan, as well as on the Baku metro and other public transport. Be more aware of your belongings when you’re in crowded places and don’t flaunt anything expensive.

2. Look out for drink-related scams – There have been some reports of travelers being robbed after having their drinks spiked, particularly in Western-style nightclubs and bars in Baku. Don’t take food or drink from strangers or people you’ve just met, and always keep an eye on drinks you’ve ordered.

There are also reports of scams targeting men at bars when women ask a foreign man to buy her drinks. She ends up leaving him with a very high bar tab, and if he’s unable to pay, a group of men might use physical force to insist.

3. Don’t insult the ruling Aliyev family – The president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, who took over from his father Heydar in 2003, and his family, are not to be mocked or spoken about badly.

He has won five elections with around 80% of the vote, but there’s plenty of evidence that he and his New Azerbaijan Party are responsible for widespread corruption and a lack of democratic process, along with jailing people who have criticized the family or the government. Play it safe and avoid talking politics while you’re here.

4. Don’t go near or talk about Armenia – Avoid the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan, where sporadic armed clashes still take place. In particular, don’t go near the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is a disputed area where armed conflict is common. There are land mines in these regions as well, another good reason to steer clear.

The safest thing is simply not to mention Armenia at all. There’s an ongoing, bitter conflict between the two nations, and Azerbaijanis can get angry if you try to talk about Armenia.

If you’re of Armenian descent — for example, if you have an Armenian surname — this might cause problems for you in Azerbaijan so be prepared.

5. Be careful on the roads – Many of the roads in Azerbaijan are in poor condition, and drivers often speed. You also need to watch out for people on foot and livestock in rural Azerbaijan.

If you can avoid it, don’t drive at night — there is usually little or no lighting on the roads and there are a lot of potholes and bumps that can cause a bad accident if you can’t see them coming.

On the plus side, the blood alcohol limit here is zero so there is no tolerance for drinking and driving (which means you’re less likely to encounter drunk drivers here). If driving, make sure you follow this law to the letter.

Road safety is likely going to be your biggest concern here, so always be extra careful when driving or near busy roads.

6. Refuse to pay bribes – There’s quite a culture of bribery and corruption in Azerbaijan, so you might find yourself in a situation where you’re asked to pay a bribe. Although it can feel difficult, it’s OK to refuse to pay, and usually, that will be the end of it.

Many Azerbaijanis are embarrassed by the extent of corruption and bribery and will do their best to hide it from foreign tourists. Unfortunately, there is a minority who will still demand bribes — sometimes even officials.

7. Look out for fake police – It’s quite a common scam to come across criminals dressed as police officers. In their disguise, they will target foreigners and try to issue you a fake traffic infringement or demand you pay a fine for photographing in the street.

If in doubt, ask them to take you to a police station. Hopefully, they will then agree to leave you alone.

8. Buy travel insurance – Every time you travel, you should make sure you have an appropriate level of travel insurance. You never know what might go wrong! Hopefully, nothing will happen to you while you’re exploring Azerbaijan, but you’ll be really grateful you have travel insurance if you are involved in a car accident, become the victim of theft, or get sick and find yourself in an emergency situation.

We recommend World Nomads for travelers under 70, while Insure My Trip is the best choice for travelers over 70.

For more information on tarvel insurance, check out these posts:

FAQ on Azerbaijan Safety

To help you plan your trip, here are answers to the most frequently asked questions we get about safety in Azerbaijan:

How safe is Baku for tourists?

Thanks to income from oil and gas, Baku is a modern capital city with decent public transport and is generally safe. There are some risks of petty theft in crowds or bars, and tourists can be a target of drink spiking and other scams (see above) in Western-style bars and nightclubs. Be extra vigilant on a night out.

Maybe the most dangerous part of being in Baku is the traffic. Many Azerbaijanis drive very fast and without much regard for the rules of the road. If you’re a pedestrian, be wary of vehicles when you’re near a road and especially when you’re crossing. When in doubt, follow the lead of the locals.

Is it safe to drive in Azerbaijan?

Driving in Baku can be challenging: quite a lot of traffic, fast drivers, and pedestrians who don’t pay much attention.

However, it’s probably more dangerous to drive in rural areas, both because of the poor driving standards and the low quality of the highways. The road conditions are particularly bad outside the cities, and driving at night is especially dangerous, as the roads are poorly lit, or not lit at all.

Is Azerbaijan safe for women traveling alone?

In general, Azerbaijan is safe for all people traveling solo, but some women have reported incidents of unwanted male attention while walking alone and taking taxis. If going out at night, make sure you have someone to accompany you just to be safe.

Here are a few helpful posts on safety written by our solo female travel experts:

Is the drinking water safe in Azerbaijan?

The tap water in Azerbaijan should be boiled before drinking to make sure that it is free of contaminents. Boil the water for at least 1 minute to make sure it’s clean.

While you can also buy bottled water here, I’d just bringing a reusable water bottle and a Lifestraw or SteriPen. They can purify your water while also reducing your environmental impact.

***
From the contrasts of 19th-century architecture with the envelope-pushing modern buildings of Baku to the scenic vistas of the sparsely-populated towns and villages, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do in Azerbaijan.

Just be sure to use common sense by avoiding talking about sensitive topics (such as the war with Armenia) when you are talking to locals. Be aware of the potential for petty theft and scams; keep an eye out and your valuables out of sight. Do that, and you’ll be just fine.

On the whole, Azerbaijan is safe to visit and tourism numbers are growing for a good reason. Spend some time seeing Azerbaijan now, while it’s still not crowded with tourists — you won’t regret it!

Book Your Trip to Azerbaijan: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time. My favorite places to stay in Azerbaijan are:

  • Sahil Hostel (Baku) – This hostel is clean, spacious, and well maintained. It won Hostelworld’s 2019 award for best hostel in the city.
  • Old Ganja Hostel (Ganja) – While thos hostel itself is rather no frills, the staff here are incredible and go above and beyond to ensure you have a great time in Ganja.
  • Lahij Guesthouse (Lahij) – With free Wi-Fi, great views, and a charming and rustic interior, this hoestl is a good choice for anyone looking for a more unique stay in Lahij.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!gho

Want More Information on Azerbaijan?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Azerbaijan for even more planning tips!

Photo credit: 1 – Emerson Liu

The post Is Azerbaijan Safe to Visit? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Best Tour Companies in Ireland

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an Irish castle tower on a still lake set against green hills
Posted: 8/17/19 | October 17th, 2019

Ireland. It’s a scenic country full of rolling green hills, photogenic cliffs, impressive castles, cozy Irish pub, friendly locals, and a lot of Irish charm.

I’ve loved every part of my experiences in Ireland.

My first trip was a quick 24-hour visit to Dublin, but, I loved it so much I’ve gone back about four times since. Ireland has a special magic to it that makes every visitor fall in love. (Ok, not everyone, but most people love it here!)

While the cities are incredible and have a lot to offer, Ireland is best seen by car so you can get off-road and visit the small little villages, castles, and parks that dot the country.

However, if you’re like me, and not a fan of driving (especially driving on the left!), the next best thing to driving or just city hopping on buses is going on a tour in Ireland. Given the country’s small size, you can see a lot of it in a little time and a tour can be a good way to pack it all in without the hassle of organizing all the details yourself.

There are lots of tour options here — from walking tours in Dublin to multi-day tours around all of Ireland. Here is a list of my favorite tour companies in Ireland, each of which have something unique to offer:

1. Historical Walking Tours of Dublin

The city of Dublin is such a fascinating place to explore, and it’s full of historical spots that you might just wander past if you’re not with a guide from Historical Walking Tours of Dublin. They’ve been operating tours since 1986 and one of the reasons they’re so good is their guides all have postgrad history qualifications – but also know how to lead a tour with a good Irish sense of humor.

Each walking tour is just over two hours long and they start from the front gate of Trinity College at 11am every day, with an extra tour at 3pm from May to September. They’ll take you to many of the highlights of Dublin like the House of Lords, Temple Bar, Christ Church Cathedral, and Dublin Castle and you’ll end up with a great overview of Irish history. Tickets are 14 EUR.

2. Paddywagon Tours

An Irish born-and-bred tour company that started in 1998, Paddywagon Tours offers both day tours for lots of popular tourist attractions in Ireland as well as multi-day tours ranging from two to nine days long, with accommodation choices ranging between B&Bs and hostels.

If you’re time-pressed and looking for some day trips from Dublin to quickly see a bit more of Ireland, Paddywagon has trips to places like the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, and even up to the Giant’s Causeway and other highlights of Northern Ireland. Costs range from 45 EUR to 65 EUR for these trips. They also run day trips out of other centers like Belfast, Limerick, and Cork.

Paddywagon’s multi-day tours range from 149 EUR for a two-day trip up to 689 EUR for their All Ireland nine-day tour, with backpacker accommodation (or 999 EUR if you want B&B stays). Even though you could easily spend a month in Ireland, given its relatively small size you can actually get a lot out of nine days. If you’re a student they also run some student special trips at even lower costs so keep an eye out for them.

3. Shamrocker Adventures

Shamrocker is a great option for budget travelers looking for multi-day tours of Ireland. Their approach is to try and combine the best of independent travel and group trips. That means they give you choices like different levels of accommodation and you can self-cater when it comes to food. They also have great guides who are passionate Irish storytellers — even their bus drivers have a great sense of humor!

Tours range between three and seven days, with the shorter trips focusing on just one part of Ireland — the south or the west — and costing around 300 EUR per person. Shamrocker’s seven-day trip covers all the main sights like the Giant’s Causeway, Cliffs of Moher, Galway, and Blarney Castle and is 609 EUR for adults and 589 EUR for students.

4. Wolfhound Adventure Tours

Wolfhound Adventure Tours is a boutique tour company run by Trinity College history-graduate Dave O’Connor. Tour groups have a maximum of 12 travelers and tours include some biking and hiking, which are optional but definitely a big part of the fun.

Tours range between five and ten days — the shorter tours give you an option of going to the north to the Giant’s Causeway or heading west to see the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands, both of which are 985 EUR. Wolfhound trips can include kayaking, horseriding, whale watching, and even surfing lessons and are a great choice for anyone looking to get active!

5. Vagabond Tours

Vagabond Tours is an Irish company and offers two kinds of small group tours, Driftwood Tours if you want to take it easy, and Vagabond Tours which include activities like hiking, sea kayaking, and cycling.

Tours range in length from six to eleven days, and in price from 1,550 EUR to 2,900 EUR per person. They have some of the common itineraries such as a Northern Ireland tour taking in the Giant’s Causeway and Belfast and the Giant Irish tour which circumnavigates the country, but they also have a few specialty trips like a foodie tour, an adventure trip which includes a visit to the Skellig Islands, and a tour for history buffs focusing on castles and kingdoms.

Rob Rankin, co-founder of Vagabond Tours, is a huge advocate of responsible and sustainable tourism and the leader of Ecotourism Ireland, and Vagabond Tours has been eco-tourism gold-certified since 2017.

6. Extreme Ireland

Extreme Ireland offer adventure tours around Ireland, with several Wild Atlantic Way trips available, ranging from six to 12 days long. They take small groups (a maximum of 16 travelers) led by skilled guides who have all the skills necessary to help you have a safe and adventurous tour.

Their 12-day trip will take you all over Ireland — it doesn’t just show you the regular sightseeing highlights!. The tour also includes several bike rides, a stint of stand up paddleboarding, hikes along sea cliffs and wild coastlines, kayaking, and surfing. This one comes in at 2,200 EUR while their shorter tours start at 1,100 EUR.

7. Intrepid

An Intrepid trip is always a good option — they’re my go-to multi-day tour company no matter where in the world I’m heading. With small groups (a maximum of 12 travelers for Ireland), carefully-hired local guides, and a relaxed pace, Intrepid tours really can’t be beaten. They offer just one trip in Ireland but it covers all the major sights and attractions, an eight-day adventure that spans from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Killarney in the south-west.

Their Ireland tour will take you through Dublin and Galway and includes sightseeing hotspots like the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway, as well a chance to explore the Aran Islands. Accommodation is in a mix of hotels and hostels, with breakfast included. The tour costs 2,300 EUR per person.

***

From walking tours to help you understand the history and culture of the great city of Dublin to multi-day adventures circumnavigating the whole of the island, taking a tour in Ireland will make sure you get to know lots of interesting locals and learn more about what makes the Irish tick.

Whether it’s the crazy ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone, exploring the incredible landscapes in Northern Ireland Game of Thrones was filmed, or simply knowing which pub in Galway is the best spot for a Guinness, these Ireland tour companies will help make your Irish experience the best it can be!

Book Your Trip to Ireland: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time. My favorite hostels in the country are:

  • Generator Hostel (Dublin) – Generator is one of the best hostel chains in Europe. Their places are always clean and comfortable, though a bit generic if you’re looking for something unique.
  • Barnacles Quay Street (Galway) – With free breakfast, a free walking tour, and lots of fun events, this is a great hsotel for budget travelers looking to be social.
  • Kinlay House (Cork) – This is another social hostel that has lots of common area space, including an outdoor patio. The staff are great and the bathrooms clean (always a plus in hostels!).
  • Neptunes Town Hostel (Killarney) – This hostel is in a great location and the staff are super friendly and helpful!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Want More Information on Ireland?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Ireland for even more planning tips!

The post The Best Tour Companies in Ireland appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Travel, Vacations, and the Issue of Time

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people lounging in beach chairs on a crowded beach
Posted: 10/14/19 | October 14th, 2019

When I was growing up, my family didn’t “travel.” Like most modern, middle-class American families, if we went anywhere, it was because we were on vacation — short leisure trips with a fixed start and end, tied to the calendar of the working year, centered more often than not around visiting relatives: to Philadelphia to see my cousins or long road trips to see my grandmother in Florida.

Long car rides, nights at big chain hotels, and visits to theme parks were par for the course.

When I was about eleven (and too young to really enjoy it), we went to Bermuda for a couple of days. And, when I was sixteen, we did take a cruise.

But that was the craziest we ever got.

We “traveled” like middle-class Americans were supposed to. There were no backpacking trips, camping excursions, or jaunts to exotic destinations for us. My friends and their families followed the same routine. They vacationed the way society told them to.

In my mind, this was travel: a planned pause in the rhythm of corporate life, the adult equivalent of being on school break. You worked hard, then treated yourself to an all-inclusive destination a short flight away, or spent your time away from the office in some relative’s living room. You took just enough time off that you could muster the strength to go to work every ordinary weekday for decades, until it was time for that fabled retirement when life could truly begin.

Travel was a time-consuming undertaking you did when you were older, retired, or rich. Or when you were a broke college student and didn’t have a care in the world. That was when you could really see the world and get to understand it.

It wasn’t for the rest of us adults. We had to work. We only had enough time for a vacation.

Growing up in my little vacation bubble, I never realized there was a world beyond hotels, cruises, resorts, and giant bus tours that shuttle you from attraction to attraction. As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know.

So when I first met backpackers on a trip to Thailand, I was shocked. Learning about the backpacking culture on that trip created a paradigm shift in my worldview. I suddenly realized there was more than my bubble. It was like I was seeing life for the first time.

So I came home, quit my job, and went traveling.

I thought of myself as a traveler: an intrepid person peeling back the layers of the world in hopes of getting a deeper understanding of my place in it while simultaneously meeting cool people, having exciting experiences, and getting a little drunk along the way.

One of the most frequently asked questions on my book tour was about maximizing your trip. “I don’t have ten years to be a nomad, Matt. What can I do in just a week?”

Movies, media, and pop culture have taught us that vacations are what you do when you’re a working adult.

Travel is what you do when you have time.

Who can be an intrepid traveler when you only have a week to see a city and a long list of things to see?

When someone tells you “We’re going traveling”, you tend to think of it as something with time. We’ve been programmed to think that way.

Yet, as I mention in my book, travel isn’t really about a length of time. It is a way of thinking.

Whether two days or two weeks or two years, travel is a state of mind.

I define “travel” as including some exploration, digging below the surface. It is external: learning about the world and the people in it. It is also internal: trying new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. It is also about getting lost or confused and finding your way out.

That can happen in a day, a month, a week, or a year.

Don’t think of travel as something that necessarily takes longer than a vacation.

Don’t think of it as something that only certain demographics can do.

Don’t think of it as something that requires superhuman powers or energy.

Think of it as something you can do when you put yourself out there, try to meet new people, break out of your comfort zone, and challenge yourself.

If you’re heading off to Paris and want really learn about the city, don’t think “Well, we only have a week. There’s so much to do. We’ll learn more when we come back.”

Your trip is your own. Do what you want.

Throw away the to do list. Break away from the crowds that line the Louvre and the buses that drop you off along a predetermined route. Forget all that. There’s no such thing as must-see anyway.

Think to you yourself “What do I do here if I had all the time in the world? How would I visit this city?”

Then do that.

Sign up for a new activity like a cooking class or a weird walking tour. Attend a local meet-up. Use the sharing economy to meet locals. Leave your phone at hotel, get off social media, and go for a walk. Eat at the local market.

Let the days fill themselves in.

Travel is the most magical when you let the days just unfold. It’s the random, unplanned encounters we all remember most.

That can happen no matter how long your trip is.

There’s nothing wrong with a vacation. We all need time to unwind. But let’s put aside this notion that travel requires more time than we get. It doesn’t.

Travel is not about time. It’s about mindset.

So take the traveler’s mindset with you on your next trip.

Put down your “must see” checklist, go with the flow, try new things, meet new people, and push yourself to new limits.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them both all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all those I use to save money when I travel — and they will save you time and money too!

The post Travel, Vacations, and the Issue of Time appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Is it Time to Break Up with Airbnb?

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a cozy apartment with a couch and hanging plants
Posted: 10/08/19 | October 7th, 2019

There is no denying that Airbnb has changed how we travel. It got people out of the hotel/hostel quandary, gave locals a way to monetize their extra rooms and earn more income, and got tourists into different parts of cities, spreading the benefits of tourism around to a wider part of the community.

It wasn’t the first company to do this, but it made this kind of travel widespread and socially acceptable. The idea of “renting someone’s home” is now seen, not as weird or unsafe, but as a perfectly normal way to see a destination.

I’ve been an Airbnb user since its early days (it began in 2008) and have had some wonderful experiences using the service: the Swiss couple who made and shared dinner with me, the folks in Paris who left me wine as a welcome gift, the retirees in Tours who put a candle in my breakfast croissant for my birthday, the couple in NZ who gave me veggies from their garden, and countless other wonderful experiences where I got to meet locals and learn aspects of life that I might not have otherwise. (I’ve also hosted some really fabulous people too. The site works both ways!)

Over the last few years, I had gotten out of the habit of using Airbnb, instead staying with friends, in hostels, or hotels on points. However, while I was on my book tour over the summer, I decided to start using the service again.

I was nervous about doing so though.

From overtourism to hosts with multiple listings to companies using it to run hotels to a general “whatever” attitude toward complaints, there are a lot of problems with Airbnb. It is no longer the whole “people renting out their room for extra money” service it markets itself as.

I’ve read all the stories. I’ve seen the data.

With over six million listings, Airbnb is one of the biggest booking sites out there. In the first quarter of 2019, it booked 91 million room nights. By comparison, Expedia booked 80.8 million.

But I figured there had to be some gems on the site.

And what kind of travel expert would I be if I didn’t know Airbnb’s current state?

I went in determined to not rent places that were not people’s homes — that is, any rentals run by folks with multiple listings or property management companies, which have the effect of raising rents for everyone. While Airbnb has a lot of problems, the “commercialization” of the service is the biggest.

The growing number of people buying property just to rent it out on Airbnb is driving rent up for locals1 and forcing them out of the city. A recent study from the Institut d’Economia de Barcelona shows that rent in Barcelona’s most touristy areas has increased by as much as 7% between 2012 and 2016.2

Furthermore, in 2016 (the most recent data I could find), true home sharing, where the owner is present during the guest’s stay, accounts for less than 20% of Airbnb’s business in the United States; 81% of Airbnb’s revenue nationwide — $4.6 billion — comes from whole-unit rentals where the owner is not present.

A search on the website Inside Airbnb shows that a high percentage of units are rented by people with multiple listings: in Venice, out of 8,469 listings, 68.6% of hosts have multiple listings; in Barcelona, out of 18,302 listings, 67.1% of hosts have multiple listings; and in Los Angeles, out of 44,504 listings, 57.8% of hosts have multiple listings.

That doesn’t really scream the “just a person renting out their extra space” model the company likes to tout.

And I found avoiding that a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Even having spent hours trying to weed those kinds of homes out, I was fooled in London, DC, and Santa Monica: those listings existed solely to be rented out on Airbnb. Those pictures that made it seem lived in? Faked. (And the place in London, which was supposed to be a room in a guy’s house, was just a room…but in a house for Airbnb guests.)

All that time spent trying to do the right thing…and I still failed!

As this happened over and over again, I thought to myself: Is it time to break up with Airbnb? Was using Airbnb was worth the cost it exacts on residents and the time spent trying to find gems in vain?

Being a responsible traveler is really important to me — but not contribute to the problems Airbnb causes.

Airbnb is one of the biggest drivers of overtourism. It has created a lot of new accommodation for travelers, which in turn contributes to higher tourism numbers.3 On the one hand, that’s good: cheaper accommodation = more tourists = more revenue. But, when unregulated and combined with the issues highlighted above, increased tourism kills the very places we love. It becomes a vicious cycle: more tourists = more money = more properties on Airbnb = fewer local residents. However, thankfully, as I highlight in this article, a lot of locales are fighting back and beginning to restrict the service.

Moreover, the company doesn’t really take action against hosts behave badly. From spying on guests to denying last-minute bookings to substandard conditions to fake reviews, complaints against hosts go unattended until they become news stories like this:

As such, I’ve found the customer service to be really terrible and slanted toward hosts. There are a lot of protections for hosts but not guests. If I cancel, I have to pay a fee. If the host cancels, there’s little punishment. When talking about my recent experiences with Airbnb on Twitter and Facebook, I found I was not alone. A lot of people have noticed a decline in the quality of the service lately. They still use it, but I was surprised that so many people didn’t do so as much as they used to. Here are some examples:

Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review

There are plenty of people who are still having wonderful experiences with the service. As a whole, I still like it. There are some hidden gems, wonderful people, and cool experiences on the website, especially when you get out of the big cities. (And, if you stick to staying in people’s spare rooms, you solve a lot of the overtourism and housing issues the service creates.)

But, given the social problems it causes, the poor customer service, the hassle of dealing with hosts, the crapshoot in quality, the cleaning and other fees that make the service’s costs on par with traditional accommodation options, I’d often rather just book a regular hostel, hotel, or B&B. Those are simple, easy, and straightforward. (And, unlike the Airbnb I had in D.C., will come with rooms that actually lock!)

I don’t want to contribute to overtourism. I don’t want to price residents out of their homes. I don’t give my money to a company that doesn’t want to be a responsible stakeholder. (I haven’t even got to the lengths the company goes to fight against oversight, taxes, and regulation.)

And I don’t have all day to spend finding a room!

And I’m not the only one having second thoughts. Look at this survey I conducted on Twitter about using the service:

Those are not numbers I’d want to see if I was Airbnb. It’s clear, for most of us, the sentiment has shifted away from the service as it’s become more commercialized.

I’m not fully ready to give up on the service quite yet. I still think you can find some hidden gems and meet some great people.

And maybe their upcoming IPO will change its ways by bringing in new stockholders, activist investors, and more attention (stockholders don’t like negative news stories that lowers their stock price!).

Then again, maybe it won’t, and Airbnb will only get worse and I’ll have to stop using it altogether.

Only time will tell.

But I think the situation is bad enough where one needs to be wary of the service and use it with extreme care.

It’s not the same as it used to be.

Notes:
1: Since my team and I have been using the website a lot this year, we’re updating our guide to Airbnb to reflect changes in the service. It will be out in a few weeks.

2: You can also find another study done by California State University here.

3: Airbnb is not the prime cause of overtourism, but it definitely contributes greatly; the company’s desire to turn a blind eye to the problem is part of my problem with it.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them both all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all those I use to save money when I travel — and they will save you time and money too!

The post Is it Time to Break Up with Airbnb? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Is Bangkok Safe to Visit?

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One of the many temples in Bangkok, Thailand
Posted: 10/5/2019 | October 5th, 2019

Bangkok can be an overwhelming destination for tourists, and it is depicted in many Western films as seedy, gritty, and intense, with wild nightlife and never-ending traffic.

Most visitors don’t stay there for long, but if you’re patient and begin to peel back the layers, you’ll discover a complex, beautiful city filled with some of the friendliest and most thoughtful people you will ever meet (Thailand is called the Land of Smiles for a reason!) and delicious street food.

But is Bangkok a safe place to visit?

Just like any major city, you must be alert and aware of your surroundings, but it is pretty safe, and the risk of serious danger is very low (unless you are up to something illegal). You are most likely to encounter small scams designed to get a few extra bucks from you (more on that later).

Here are a few ways to stay extra safe in Bangkok:

1. Be alert as a pedestrian.
Traffic in Bangkok is chaotic — many motorbikes will run red lights or even drive on the sidewalks! — so it’s always a good idea to be cautious when crossing the streets and walking around town. Look both ways and stay alert. (And, remember, they drive on the left side of the road (British side) so be sure to look and stay alert!

2. Carry a photocopy of your passport with you.
This is a no-brainer for anyone who travels overseas. Put your real passport away in the lockbox provided by your hotel or hostel, and carry around a photocopy or a digital version on your phone or in your email.

3. Never leave your drink unattended.
This is another universal safety tip. Drinks can be spiked at any moment, so always keep yours close, or hand it to someone you trust if you need to.

4. Do not take or accept any recreational drugs.
Thailand has a strict no-drugs policy; anyone caught using or carrying illegal substances will go to jail, or in rare instances receive the death penalty.

5. Don’t talk about the royal family.
Under the lèse majesté law, you are forbidden to speak negatively of the king and the royal family. If you are caught insulting the monarchy, you will be sentenced to 3–15 years in prison. Other countries may have lèse majesté laws, but Thailand’s enforcement is the world’s harshest. Over the years, people have faced lèse majesté charges over minor offenses: a woman who wore black on the king’s birthday, a man who mocked the king’s dog on the internet, and individuals who have liked Facebook posts regarding the king, to name a few.

It’s crucial you not discuss the king or royal family publicly or with locals, or you will face major consequences that all the travel insurance in the world will not protect you from!

6. Buy travel insurance.
No one wants to think about things going wrong on their trip, but being prepared and buying travel insurance is something I do before every trip. You should have it whenever you travel, but in a country where petty theft and scams are, unfortunately, a little more common, it’s extra important. And of course, it’s also important for covering any medical or other emergency situation you might encounter. Be a smart traveler — buy travel insurance.

How to Avoid Scams in Bangkok

Bangkok is generally safe for travelers and backpackers, but it’s also incredibly hectic. Petty theft (including bag snatching) is the most common type of crime you’ll face. Also, some people will try to rip you off, including taxi drivers who refuse to turn on their meters. Avoiding travel scams requires a lot of common sense and a healthy dose of suspicion. (Also read this post on travel scams to avoid.)

Here are the two most common scams to be aware of:

Taxi scams: You hop into a taxi and realize the meter isn’t running. You mention this to the driver and their response is that the meter is “broken,” and he quotes you a price that is outrageously high. Or you might notice that the meter is working but the fare is increasing as fast as a bullet train in Japan.

To avoid this scam, do your research and get an idea of how much a ride should cost from your hostel or hotel staff before hailing a taxi. In my experience, if the cabbie tries to negotiate the rate, I use the one quoted to me though my prior research, and if he refuses, I get out and find someone who will turn the meter on. (Ideally, use only taxis with working meters.)

If the meter looks as though it’s rising unusually fast, ask the driver to pull over and get out immediately.

Another situation you may encounter is your taxi driver “taking the scenic route.” You’ll end up sitting in traffic, and the cabbie will make money at your expense. We live in the age of technology, so if you’re suspicious of your driver’s route, pull your smartphone out and use Google Maps to find the quickest way to your destination. (Better yet, find out the optimum route ahead of time.)

Don’t hesitate to show the phone to your driver and insist on taking this route. Download a map of the city using Google Maps or MAPS.ME so you always have access to it offline.

If you end up with a bad taxi experience, take a photo of the driver’s ID/registration number and report him to Thailand’s tourism board. And always, always use only official taxis.

The tourist site is “closed”/tuk-tuk ride scam: This is probably the most common scam in Bangkok. When visiting tourist attractions, often around Wat Phra Kaew, the Grand Palace, or Wat Arun, someone will randomly come up to you and say that the place is closed for a special ceremony or for lunch hour. Then, this overly helpful individual will offer to take you to places that are open. While touring the attractions, the driver will take you to a gem shop, a souvenir shop, or a tailor where they receive a commission.

A few hours later, the driver will drop you off at your original location once it’s “reopened,” and by that time you’ve realized that the site was open the entire time — you were just in the wrong part of the building.

This is where your good sense and confidence come into play. Avoid talking to these locals, or firmly say “no thanks” and walk away. Or find the main entrance or ticket counter and see for yourself!

Another thing to note is that most attractions don’t close for lunch — they close for the day. Look up the hours of operation before you go, so you know what to expect — opening and closing times are almost always available online.

FAQ on Bangkok Safety

Below is a list of some of the common questions I get on safety in Bangkok, so you can be better prepared for your trip!

Is street food safe?
Yes, absolutely! Bangkok is considered the street food capital of the world, and you will not find a shortage of stalls selling delicious local dishes on every corner. With that said, if there is something that doesn’t smell or look “kosher,” then it might be best to avoid. If a street vendor has local customers, you can usually trust that it’s safe. (If you are overwhelmed with where to start, I’d recommend reading this blog post on how to tackle the street food culture in Bangkok.)

Is the tap water safe?
According to the Bangkok Metropolitan Waterworks Authority, it follows the World Health Organization standards for providing safe drinking water for the population. However, although the water is treated in plants, the pipes it travels through can be very old and dirty, which can lead to contamination. Locals usually boil the tap water first before drinking it, or they will purchase bottled water. Use a Steripen or Lifestraw to ensure that your water is safe to drink. Also, bring a reusable water bottle to cut down on your plastic consumption.

Are taxis safe?
Taxis are safe and affordable and my preferred way to get around town. However, you will come across the occasional meter or “scenic route” scam. When you get into a cab, always check that it has a working meter and agree on a route prior to the start of your journey. (If you’ve read the section on taxi scams above, you will be well prepared for this type of situation.)

Is Bangkok safe for solo travelers?
Bangkok is safe for solo travelers, and a great first city to solo-travel in. I’ve been going there for the past 15 years and have rarely encountered any problems.

However, there are areas of Bangkok that are all about partying and drinking, and the biggest incidents happen when people are drunk and stupid. Don’t get too drunk. Also avoid illegal substances at all cost — Thailand is very, very strict on drugs, and you’re going to be screwed if you get caught. Always trust your gut instinct; if you don’t do it at home, don’t do it when you’re in Bangkok.

Is Bangkok safe for solo female travelers?
Solo female travelers should feel safe touring the city. It’s very easy to meet other travelers, especially female ones, in Bangkok. Some precautions and planning are in order, though: Always have a downloaded map and translation app so you can find your way home or ask for help if you need it. Don’t flaunt any valuables, and avoid taking taxis alone at night. If you’re still nervous about heading somewhere, ask to join a group at your hostel; groups are less likely to be victims of scammers or theft, and you’ll feel safer that way.

Here are a few helpful posts on safety written by our solo female travel experts:

***

Bangkok has an electric energy to it, and with its endless supply of things to see and do, you will never be bored. I finally began to love the city when I got know it beyond the temples and the typical tourist sites. Once I found hidden markets and amazing street stalls frequented only by locals, became friends with residents, and understood how Bangkok operated, I understood why people loved it so much.

Like any major city, Bangkok comes with its fair share of scammers and unruly drivers. If you are smart and alert, trust your instincts, and follow this safety guide, you’ll have an unforgettable experience while staying safe.

Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Bangkok!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to BangkokMy detailed, 80-page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guidebooks and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money while in Bangkok, a city I used to call home (so I know it really well!). You’ll find suggested itineraries and budgets, ways to save money, on- and off-the-beaten-path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more! Click here to learn more and get started!

Book Your Trip to Bangkok: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Get Your Guide
Check out my detailed guide to planning a visit to Bangkok with suggested itineraries and information on places to stay, things to do, where to eat, and how to get around. Just click here to get the guide and continue planning today!

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use it all the time. My favorite hostels in Bangkok are:

  • Lub d Bangkok Silom – Lub d Silom is more of a European-style hostel than a traditional Asian guesthouse. It’s in a popular spot for backpackers looking to stay somewhere other than Khao San Road, is safe (they use electronic key locks), and the staff speaks fluent English.
  • Golden Mountain Hostel – This small, family-run hostel is one of the newest and nicest hostels in the city. The dorm beds are actually cubbies built into the wall for added privacy, and each room sleeps eight people. This is a great hostel if you want some peace and quiet.
  • Mad Monkey – Mad Monkey is a backpacker institution near Khao San Road. It’s is probably the best hostel in Bangkok if you want to party. It has a restaurant, pool, and tour desk with some of the cheapest and most competitive prices in town. 

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money — and I think they will help you too!

The post Is Bangkok Safe to Visit? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Best Tour Companies in Egypt

Posted By : webmaster/ 24 0


The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
Posted: 10/5/2019 | October 5th, 2019

Egypt is a country that tops the bucket-list country for many travelers. It’s a country filled with incredible relics of ancient history, from the Pyramids and Great Sphinx of Giza, and offers tons of incredible activities for travelers of all walks of life. Floating down the Nile River on a traditional felucca, exploring the tombs of Tutankhamen and other pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings, snorkeling and diving in the coral fantasyland of the Red Sea — there’s just so many amazing parts of Egypt to amaze and enthrall you.

These days, Egypt is a destination many travelers shy away from. Given that there have been some terrorist attacks targeting tourists over the last couple of decades and that people are still wary of the changes in government since the Arab Spring, those concerns are understandable.

However, since 2017, tourism numbers have begun to increase again. In fact, they are growing so fast they might hit an all-time record in 2019 or 2020.

Things have been changing for the better in Egypt and it’s now a safe country to visit for the intrepid traveler. That means it’s time to start planning your dream trip to this diverse and historic country.

While I am a huge fan of solo travel, distances between the most popular sights in Egypt are pretty far. You can expect to spend a full day or night traveling by road or rail between Cairo and Luxor, for example, so joining an organized tour can help you make the most of your time.

And it can also save you some money, too!

Tours in Egypt often work out to be cheaper than trying to put together your own trip as some will include domestic airfare for prices cheaper than you’ll be able to get on your own.

Taking a tour with a reputable company also ensures that you’ll have safe detours with someone who really knows the lay of the land and will keep you informed of any risks. Knowledgeable tour guides also make for a more interesting trip — which is why tours in Egypt are so popular.

Here is a list of the best tour companies in Egypt, offering everything from day trips around Cairo to multiday tours around the country:

1. Intrepid

Intrepid is one of my favorite tour companies in the world.

I’ve been on a handful of their tours over the years to destinations all around the world and have yet to be disappointed. Their local guides provide invaluable insight and they are dedicated to making environmentally friendly choices too.

And the company just hires really awesome people too.

In Egypt, Intrepid has tours that range between eight and fifteen days. To be able to see enough in just eight days, they fly you between Cairo and the south, so the cheaper trip is actually the 15-day one, which uses a mix of bus, boat, and train travel, starting around $1,200 USD. Intrepid also has some specialized offerings, with a nine-day trip for travelers aged 18–29, trips especially for families, and also one just for solo travelers.

If you’re keen to explore beyond Egypt, Intrepid also offers a range of longer tours that take in Jordan, Israel, and Palestine as well.

As a reader of this site, you also get access to exclusive deals and sales so click on over to their site and see what tours are on sale now!

2. Memphis Tours

One of the first tour companies in Egypt, Memphis Tours has been around since 1955. It offers a huge variety of tours – from half- or full-day tours in Cairo or Alexandria to snorkeling or camel-riding trips out of resort destinations like Sharm el-Sheikh, ranging between $35 and $90 USD per person.

They also offer a selection of cruises both on the Nile and on Lake Nasser. The popular Luxor-to-Aswan trip along the Nile can be made in a variety of pretty luxurious ships; prices are around $500 USD per person for a four-day trip.

Memphis Tours also offer fully organized multi-day trips that last between 3–15 days. Many of these take in the key sights, like the Pyramids, a Nile cruise, and the Luxor and Karnak Temples, and typically fly you back to Cairo. The costs vary depending on the extra activities involved but are pretty reasonable: small group tours covering the main sights from Cairo to Luxor start at $1,100 USD. They also offer some specialized tours, such as one specifically designed to accommodate wheelchair users.

3. Look at Egypt Tours

Look at Egypt Tours is another local company that offers both day and multiday tours. It specializes in having knowledgeable guides that make the history of Egypt really come alive, giving incredible insight into modern-day Egyptian life as well.

The company also has a sense of social responsibility too, using locally owned restaurants and hotels on all trips and hiring guides from communities throughout the country.

Look at Egypt Tours runs a variety of day trips out of the main centers, including Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Sharm el-Sheikh, ranging in cost between $50 and $150 USD per person, depending on the destination and the group size.

Multi-day tours include lots of options too; these last around 8–10 days and cost between $1,500 and $2,000 USD. There are also some specialized trips, like a two-week archaeological tour, the perfect choice for any history buffs (or Indiana Jones fans!).

4. On the Go Tours

On the Go Tours has been running tours to a variety of countries for a couple of decades now, but it all started in Egypt, where the two founders met. The company focuses on sustainable travel and supports local communities, and it hires local guides who have studied Egyptology at a college level as well.

In Egypt, they run several great-value group tours, like an eight-day trip from Cairo to Luxor for $400 USD, which includes the Pyramids of Giza, the incredible Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the temples at Luxor, a two-night felucca cruise on the Nile, a visit to the Valley of the Kings, and more. Accommodations are more budget-oriented than many other tour companies, making this a great option for backpackers.

If your timing and budget are more flexible, you might also take a look at some of On the Go’s festival tours, timed to celebrations like the Abu Simbel Sun Festival or the King Ramses Sun Festival. These tours are typically around ten days long and range between $1,600 and $2,800 USD per person, depending on whether they include internal flights.

5. Jakada Tours Egypt

Jakada Tours is a smaller company that offers private tours as well as group trips with a focus on budget mid-range travel.

Trips covering many of Egypt’s highlights and lasting between seven and ten days range from $600 to $1,000 USD. If you’re on your second trip to Egypt or have some extra time, Jakada also offers a range of more unusual tours, like spending time at the Cairo camel market!

The company also makes sure its guides are really knowledgeable, not just about ancient history but modern Egyptian culture too, as well as all the best local tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your stay.

6. Exodus Travels

Exodus offers trips worldwide and has a reputable social conscience; they aim to give back to the local communities they are a part of. In Egypt, they support Animal Care in Egypt (ACE), and its tours often include an option to visit the charity’s facility.

Exodus offers a nine-day Nile cruise from Luxor, which is a good compromise between luxury and price (around $1,400 USD per person, all-inclusive), with a maximum of 20 passengers. The company also has a longer trip that takes in key sights like the Valley of the Kings as well as Alexandria; this two-week tour starts at $2,000 USD.

7. Beyond the Nile Tours

Beyond the Nile Tours is another Egypt-based tour company using local, highly educated guides with lots of historical and cultural knowledge. It offers three tours, ranging between eight days and two weeks in length; on all of them, you can be flexible with your budget, as some activities, like a balloon ride over the Pyramids ($100 USD), are optional.

All these tours kick off in Cairo with a full day exploring what we all dream of seeing — the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphnix — along with the Egyptian Museum to put the history into context. Then you’re flown down to Luxor and cruise from there to the Valley of the Kings, among other places. On the longer trips, you can choose to travel back north more slowly, or you can include several days relaxing at a Red Sea resort. Tour prices range from $1,200 to $1,400 USD per person, with some additional costs for extra activities.

***

As much as I love solo travel, planning a trip to Egypt is much easier with a tour company. While you probably know that you want to see the Pyramids, the Nile, and other historical sites, getting around is not that easy to organize in advance, so it’s good to have the local knowledge of Egyptian guides to make sure you’re both safe and getting the most out of your trip.

So whether you’re after a short tour hitting the highlights of Egypt in a week or have more time to explore the country a little more slowly or even spend some time relaxing at the Red Sea, you’ll find a tour company to help you out.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and that will save you time and money too!

The post The Best Tour Companies in Egypt appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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