February 2020

You Should NOT Visit Syria Right Now

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One of the many damaged buildings in Syria
Posted: 2/27/2020 | February 27th, 2020

If you’re like me, you associate travel with positive emotions: the feeling of the sun on your shoulders halfway around the world, of breaking bread with people from cultures different than your own, and the inner joy of making your way across unknown lands safely.

Travel improves our lives, broadens our horizons, and helps us understand the world we inhabit.

Yet these are experiences few humans will ever have.

As widespread as it has become in recent years, travel is still a privilege afforded only to a few.

That is especially true of war zones, where residents are more concerned about living through the day than seeing the wonders of the world. Things we take for granted — the ability to turn on a tap and get drinkable water, to flick a switch and get light, to walk to the store and find food on the shelves — are rare or absent for those suffering through such conflicts.

While there many places in the world that are like that, today I want to talk about one in particular: Syria.

Lately, I’ve seen a number of folks visit Syria as tourists. When asked why, they usually talk about trying to highlight the good people in the country and how such places aren’t “just what you see in the media.”

And while both of those things are almost always true, I don’t think one should visit conflict zones as a tourist — whether you’re a writer, blogger, or everyday Joe or Jane. I think it’s reckless and shows a complete lack of empathy and respect for the people suffering through the horrors of war. It’s self-centered. It doesn’t actually help in any real way. It usually creates a distorted picture of the situation. It’s a misuse of Western privilege.

No one doubts there are wonderful people and places in Syria. In fact, one of my greatest travel regrets is not having visited Syria before the conflict, because friends waxed poetic about how the hospitality and openness of the locals were second to none.

And the media is always more “doom and gloom” than the reality on the ground.

But that doesn’t change the fact that there is a continuing war going on in Syria where millions continue to be displaced and dying. While bloggers or tourists are there taking pictures, hundreds of thousands are freezing.

The country has been in a civil war for close to nine years. Over 400,000 civilians have been killed (some estimates put that number as high as 585,000). That’s more than the entire population of places such as Iceland, Belize, the Bahamas, or Malta.

On top of that, over 13 million people have been displaced — with half of those being forced to leave the country entirely. And many can never return due to retaliation from government forces against them or their families.

And almost half of the schools in the country have been affected, with one in three children unable to attend.

And while ISIS has been pushed back, they still have control of some areas, and thanks to Trump, there is also now an influx of both Turkish and Russian troops. (And that’s only causing more chaos.)

As millions suffer through ongoing war, chemical attacks, and displacement, visiting as a tourist and having a fun time is a horrifying idea to me. It makes those who go seem more concerned with their ego than the plight of the country. “Well, I just really want to see the country, so fuck those who are suffering!”

War zones are not tourist attractions. Bombed buildings that used to be filled with life are not backdrops for Instagram shots.

While millions suffer and die just hours away or are displaced and cannot return home, bloggers or tourists shouldn’t be frolicking in the places where they used to live and laugh and spend time with their children, snapping pictures and having fun while giving lip service about how it’s sad to see what is happening to the country. That to me seems like a major disconnect.

If someone wants to go there and report as a journalist to educate the world and try to mobilize action to stop the conflict, that’s one thing.

But I’ve yet to see one person who wasn’t an actual journalist from the mainstream news media do that. Instead, I hear talk about how “complicated” the situation is, how things are being rebuilt, and how everyone is happy and things are safe, whitewashing the war crimes of President Assad. If you follow these accounts, you get the impression the worst is behind the country. (It’s not. And the fighting in Idlib is getting incredibly worse, with children being greatly affected.)

But that’s because these bloggers are (a) in government-controlled territory and (b) likely talking to Assad supporters or those too afraid to speak out.

Then there’s willful ignorance. Take the example of Drew Binsky. I’ve never met him, though I do enjoy his videos. And I’m sure he’s a well-intentioned guy. But he went to Syria and, when challenged about this for the same reasons I’m bringing up, said, and I quote:

I know that Syria has been in a constant state of war for nearly a decade and I choose not to make that a focus. Why? It’s a lose-lose for me, because A) it’s a touchy subject and B) I don’t know much about the war and politics in general. In fact, I can’t even tell you a thing about American politics cuz I don’t really care! I’ve spent the last 8 years on the road and I’ve purposely separated myself from any politics because I choose to spend my time doing other things that make me happy. I guess the bottom line here is that more eyeballs on my videos means more haters, and we all know that haters are gonna hate!

Apparently, people who bring up the notion that maybe going to a war zone is not a good idea are haters. And here he admits to not knowing much about the war or caring too much about the subject.

How can you visit a country torn by war and not want to learn more about it?

How can you have a platform and seek to educate people and not talk about the conflict? It’s a pretty important thing!

And he’s not the only one who has done this, just the most well known. There have been many others. (It would be hard to link to them all, but they are easy to find via a Google or Instagram search.)

I think trips like these to war zones or repressive regimes are further examples of the lack of ethics in the online travel industry, as well as “look at me” vs. “learn from me” writing that puts the reader second to the influencer’s own ego. Rather than using this visit as a teachable moment to expand people’s knowledge, educate, and talk about a dire situation, they visit without thinking about that deeper impact.

But against the backdrop of war, egos must wait.

A visit to government-controlled territory during an ongoing conflict is simply playing into the propaganda that says that the news is exaggerating the plight of the people. What gassing by the Assad regime? What war crimes? What factionalism? There’s nothing to see here, right?

Many of the Syrians I spoke to had even fewer kind words for those who go there. They talked of those who visit now as “taking joy in others’ misery,” whitewashing Assad’s crimes, and Western privilege. This quote from Zaina Erhaim, an exiled Syrian journalist, sums up what I heard from Syrians I spoke with:

Besides the active war going on and tens of civilians being killed on a daily basis, beside whitewashing Assad as [someone] who has brought life and security back, using their privileged background [to get] released if stopped at checkpoints, above all that, to cross to our home where half of us are forbidden from going to, as we are forced into displacement and in exile, to walk above our memories and wounds in order to get some extra views, is inhuman.

Their blogs step on our trauma as they take smiling pictures in our streets, with our destroyed homes and favorite restaurants in the background, while we are prevented from going back to because we simply did our work and protested for basic rights.

***

I think travel boycotts are dumb. People are their governments. But when war is happening and millions are dying and displaced, our desire to travel must wait. When Syria and these other countries are done fighting and need to be rebuilt, tourism dollars are a wonderful way to help make that happen.

Take Afghanistan or Iraq. While turmoil still exists there, these countries are trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild. There are new governments, and the society is trying to move past the conflict. There’s a functioning economy and civil society. Now is the time to visit those places.

But Syria? There is still an active conflict with other nations rolling tanks through part of the country. (Turkey and Russia are in conflict there, and Israel recently sent missiles into Damascus). Wait until the conflict is over, people aren’t dying and starving in the streets, and there is (hopefully) some sort of brokered truce or long-lasting cease-fire.

That’s when people will need our tourism dollars.

If you want to help those in Syria, lobby governments to try to find a way to end the conflict. Give to aid organizations like these:

But don’t go visit. Don’t give Assad his propaganda wins. Don’t make people think everything is fine and the world should move on. Don’t go to a place where so much suffering is going on just because you want to see it. It’s just the wrong thing to do.

Travel enriches the mind and expands the soul.

But it loses its charm when a place that is still shattered like glass and those around you are mired in a conflict without end.

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 they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and 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 those I use — and they’ll save you time and money too!

The post You Should NOT Visit Syria Right Now appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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18 Easy Steps for Planning Your Next Trip

Posted By : webmaster/ 262 0


planning a trip overseas
Updated: 02/24/20 | February 24th, 2020

I remember when I started planning my first trip around the world. I had no idea what I was doing.

When I decided to quit my job and travel the world, I walked into a bookstore and bought Lonely Planet’s Southeast Asia on Shoestring. Buying that guidebook was my first step toward long-term travel. It made the trip seem more real, more tangilbe. It made it all seem possible.

While helpful, the book didn’t exactly prepare me for planning a trip around the world. Back then, there weren’t really travel blogs, guides, sharing economy websites, and apps like there are today. I was excited and determined — but I was lost. I just had to figure it out as I went, hoping I didn’t miss anything important.

Trip planning can be a daunting task. Where do you begin? What’s step one? What’s step two? What’s step three?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when you haven’t done something like this before — and especially considering just how much information there is out there these days. Blogs, social media, and guidebooks have never been more plentiful. There’s a firehose of information out there which can sometimes make the task of planning a trip even more challenging and overwhelming.

After a decade of traveling the world, I’ve planned countless trips and vacations for myself, friends, family, and even group tours. In the beginning, it was trial by fire and I learned a lot of lessons the hard way. However, that helped me develop an efficient checklist that ensures I don’t miss anything important during the trip planning process.

After all, I don’t want to get to my next destination and then realize I forgot something. And neither do you!

There is a lot of information on this website (and even more information packed into my book), but one question that comes up frequently is, “Matt, how do I put this all together? How do I plan a trip?”

In a continuing effort to help you get out the door and into the world, I’ve created this step-by-step guide on how to plan a trip. It works for any kind of trip and no matter how long you’re going for! Just follow this checklist and you’ll be off in no time!

If you want to jump ahead, simply click on any of the links above.

How to Plan Your Next Trip

Step 1: Decide Where You Want To Go

a map of the world
Defining where you want to go sets a goal to work toward. A lot of people talk vaguely about travel. They never say where they are going, just that they are going. Picking a destination is immensely important, as it gives you a definite goal.

It’s a lot easier to mentally get behind “I am going to Paris in the summer” than “I’m going to Europe” or “I’m going somewhere.” Not only will your trip become more concrete for you and easier to commit to, but it will make planning easier as well…because you know what to work towards. Get specific with your plans. Get detailed. The more focused and concrete your goal, the easier it will be to actually reach it.

Resources for picking your travel destination:

 

Step 2: Decide the Length of Your Trip

How much does it cost to travel? That depends!

Without knowing how long you’re going away for, I can’t answer that question. And it’s a question you need to answer so you can start planning!

In order to figure out how much you need to save you’ll need to know how long your trip will be.

Are you going away for a week? A month? A year?

The length of your trip is a huge factor in determining how much money you need. Spend some time mulling that over until you have your answer.

For example, after you say “I’m going to Paris this summer,” add “for X days.” That way you can start to narrow down just how much money you’re going to need to save. “I am going to Paris for 10 days” is a trip that you can plan for. It’s an attainable goal.


Want to learn how I travel the world for free? GET MY FREE GUIDE


 

Step 3: Will you Travel Solo or Go With Someone?

One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is whether you’re going to go alone or travel with someone. Both are great options — but they are decidely different choices too.

Traveling solo will give you the freedom to go anywhere you want. No compromising. You just go wherever the wind takes you! However, it means you have to do all the planning yourself — which can seem daunting if you’re new to trip planning.

Traveling with someone means you have someone to help plan the trip with you. It will make researching your itinerary faster and you’ll have someone to spend time with on the road. However, it also means you’ll need to compromise sometimes. Perhaps on meals or activities or accommodation. It will just depend on you and the person you travel with.

At the end of the day, there is no wrong answer.

Personally, I love the freedom of solo travel. But I’ve had some incredible trips with friends too. Chances are you’ll get to do both over the years. But for now, what is this trip going to be? Solo or with someone?
 

Step 4: Research Your Costs

So you know where you’re going and how long you’ll be there, but to really nail down how much money you need, your next task is to research the costs in your destination at the style of travel you want.

Do you want to backpack, or would you rather stay in luxury hotels?

How much are hostels, hotels, restaurants, and attractions?

Knowing will allow you to estimate how much money you’ll need for your trip. Here is how to research costs:

  1. Buy a guidebook.
  2. You can begin with my travel guide section.
  3. Ask on community websites like our forum and Facebook group or Lonely Planet.
  4. Google prices for specific things you want to do.

You don’t need to do more than that. There’s so much information on the web that if you go down the rabbit hole of overplanning, you’ll get lost and confused by the firehose of information. Stick to those four things and you’ll be set!

In our example, if you are going to Paris for 10 days and need $75 USD a day (not including your flight), you know you need to save $750 USD (though round up to $800 USD since it’s good to have extra) for your trip.

If you were to travel around the world for a year, you’d need $50 USD a day.

Here are some other insightful posts that will help you better estimate your costs:

  • 5 Ways to Make Your Money Last When You Travel
  • How to Know the Travel Info You Find is Legit
  • How I Research My Solo Travel Destinations
  •  

    Step 5: Start Saving Money

    saving money for travel in your piggy bank
    Before you can start saving money, you need to know how much you have and how much you’re spending. Start to write down all your current expenses so you can determine where you are spending money — and how you can cut back.

    People bleed a lot of money every day through small purchases: a coffee here, a snack there. It all of that adds up. In order to make changes to your spending habits, you first need to understand them. Making a list will do just that. It will also put your financial needs into a better perspective.

    For example, if you need $2,000 USD for the trip you’re taking in eight months, that means you only have to save $8.33 USD per day. Couldn’t you find a way to save $8 USD per day? Heck, your daily coffee is most of that!

    If you’re struggling to save money, here are 22 ways to cut your expenses and save money for travel. This will help you get started and on the road to saving money in no time!
     

    Step 6: Get a Travels Rewards Credit Card

    travel credit cards
    While you’re working to save money, get a travel credit card so you can earn sign-up bonuses to redeem miles and points for free flights and hotel stays. Collecting points and miles from travel credit cards is how I get tons of free flights, free hotle stays, and free travel perks every singel year — and without any extra spending too!

    These days, most cards have welcome offers of up to 50,000 points when you meet their minimum spending requirement. That’s enough miles for a free flight almost anywhere in the world!

    If you want a free flight, sign up for the cards that help with that. If you want free hotel rooms, get a hotel card. Either way, sign up for a travel credit card and start earning points today. As long as you can pay off your monthly balance, you’ll get free travel credit.

    You don’t need to sign up for very many cards either; pick one or two and focus on those. Do this the moment you decide you want to travel. Don’t wait — waiting equals lost miles, which means less free travel.

    Collecting points and miles (which is called “travel hacking”) is what all the experts do to cut their costs and travel longer. It’s what has kept my costs down and me on the road for so many years.

    I am always doing this so I can travel for as cheap as possible.

    For more information on travel hacking and travel credit cards, check out these posts:

     

    Step 7: Switch to No-Fee ATM Cards

    Once you’re abroad, you;re going to need money. While many countries will accept credit cards, in the majority of countries cash is still king. That means you’ll need to use ATMs to withdraw the local currency. And that also means you’re going to get dinged by ATM fees.

    If you’re just away for a week or two, paying a few dollars in ATM fees isn’t the end of the world. But if you’re away for a longer period, those fees will add up and chew into your travel budget — a budget you’ve worked hard to grow. Don’t give banks any of your hard-earned money.

    How? By using a no-fee ATM card.

    I use Charles Schwab, but there are lots of other banks (don’t forget to check your local banks) that don’t charge ATM fees. Additionally, you can join a bank in the Global ATM Alliance.

    By using a no-fee ATM card you can avoid those pesky ATM fees, leaving you more money for what it was intended for: travel

    Here’s exactly how you can avoid ATM fees while traveling.
     

    Step 8: Stay Focused and Inspired

    While you get closer to your goal, make sure that you keep feeding your desire to travel. Travel planning can be exhausting and overwhelming — especially if you don’t have support from your friends and family. It can often get discouraging and feel out of reach at times.

    Luckily, there are tons of ways to stay focused and keep your spirits high thanks to the amazing community we have on this website. Here are some inspiring travel stories to help keep you inspired to travel:

    Additionally, be sure to join our online travel group The Nomadic Network. Not only will you find support (and tons of tips) online, but we also host regular in-person events all around the world. These are a great way to get inspired, meet other awesome travelers in your area, and get travel advice.
     

    Step 9: Check for Last-Minute Deals

    Okay, you’re inspired, prepared, and on your way to saving money for your trip. But before you go buy that flight or book that hotel, check for deals you might have missed. You may dream of Paris but maybe there are great deals to Berlin right now. Or maybe you can get a seven-day cruise for 70% off, a package deal to Hawaii for the price of your flight to Paris, or 50% off sailing trips around Greece.

    These days, there is always a deal to be found — especially if you’re flexible with your dates and/or destinations. Some deal websites worth checking out are:

     

    Step 10: Book Your Flight

    taking off into the sunset
    After you’ve used your travel credit card and received your sign-up bonus, use your miles to book your flight. It is harder to use miles these days due to less availability, so make sure to book early to ensure you get your desired flight.

    Fortunately, there are still many ways to avoid being the person on the flight who paid the most for their ticket. My favorite sites for finding cheap airfare are:

    • Momondo – A great platform for finding really cheap flights.
    • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is one of the best websites for searching multiple destinations at the same time.
    • Google Flights – Like Skyscanner, Google Flights is great for open searches to multiple destinations.
    • Kiwi – Kiwi is great for finding lesser-known routes or smaller carriers.
    • AirTreks – AirTreks focuses exclusively on multi-destination RTW tickets.

    For the best deals, book your flight about two-three months in advance. Here are two articles on how to score a cheap flight:

     

    Step 11: Book Your Accommodation

    luna's hostel in panama city
    If you’re traveling for under two weeks and have a set schedule, feel free to book accommodation for the duration of your trip if it will give you peace of mind (or if you’re visiting during the high season).

    For trips longer than two weeks (or if you are going to be traveling long-term) just book your first few days. That will ensure you have a place to go on arrival. Once there, you can get insider advice from your hotel/hostel staff as well as other travelers. You can then use that info to plan your next steps.

    While you can book more than your first few nights, you might end up wanting to change your plans once you land. I prefer having flexibility, which is why I always just book my first few nights and go from there.

    Here are my go-to sites when it comes to finding the best deals on accommodation:

    • Hostelworld – Hostelworld has the largest selection of hostels and is my go-to site for finding affordable hostels online.
    • Agoda – Agoda has the best results if you’re heading to Asia and the widest selection of properties in the region.
    • Booking.com – Booking.com is the best overall platform for finding budget hotels and guesthouses. They have the biggest inventory and best deals.
    • Airbnb – The go-to site for private rooms and apartments owned by locals.

    If you plan on staying in a lot of hotels during your trip, sign up for a hotel credit card before you depart. Cards like Marriott’s Bonvoy Boundless offer a huge welcome bonus, 6x the points on hotel stays, and a free hotel stay every year. Whenever I stay in a hotel, it’s because I’ve earned it with free points!

    If you’re on a tight budget or you want to connect with more locals furing your tarvels, consider joining paltforms like Couchsurfing or Be Welcome. These communities allow travelers to stay with locals for free as sort of cultural exchange.

    Long-term travelers can also try housesitting or WWOOFing as well as they both offer free accommodation (in exchange for either pet sitting or farm work respectively).
     

    Step 12: Plan Your Activities

    plan the perfect adventure overseas
    To make sure you have budgeted properly, outline the major activities you want to enjoy during your trip and how much they cost. Make any last-minute adjustments to your savings so you can ensure you have enough money. This will also help you figure out if you need any reservations for your chosen tours or activities.

    Search online for discounts as well. While some countries offer cheaper prices in person, others give discounts to those who book early/online. Research which is which for your itinerary so you can save money.

    For shorter trips, you can also book your activities in advance to ensure you get tickets. For longer trips, book as you go.

    Additionally, before you leave home, have a rough idea of what activities are priorities for you. That way, if you run out of time or money, you can focus on your top activities so you don’t miss out. Also, make sure to double-check that there are no holidays or other obstacles that will prevent you from certain activities as well.
     

    Step 13: Sell Your Stuff

    If you are going on a long-term trip (six months or more), sell your stuff in order to earn extra money for your trip. Start doing this about 60 days before you leave. Some sites to use are:

    • Gumtree – An online classified site with a focus in the UK and Australia.
    • Amazon – The biggest online store in the world.
    • Craigslist – Online global classifieds that have both local and global reach.
    • eBay – Another global online classified site.
    • Facebook Marketplace – Great for finding people near you (so you don’t need to ship your items).

    If you aren’t going to be gone that long, skip this step. If you are going away long-term but want to keep your stuff, move it to a friend’s house or keep it in storage. A good storage company in the US is Public Storage. It’s one of the most affordable options out there.
     

    Step 14: Automate Your Bills

    Get rid of your mail, go paperless, and set up online bill payment for your recurring bills to ensure you won’t miss any while overseas. If you are still going to get paper mail, use a service like Earth Class Mail, which will collect and scan your mail for you. (If you are going on a two-week trip, you don’t really need to worry about this, so you can skip this step, too.)

    If you have the option (and don’t want to pay for a mail service), you can also have all your mail sent to a friend or family member.

    Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you cancel any phone plans you have or switch your plan to one that is more travel-friendly. T-Mobile is great for travelers going on trips under 3 months. For any trips longer than that, you’ll want to cancel your plan and just buy SIM cards abroad. That will be much cheaper!
     

    Step 15: Tell Your Card Companies You’re Traveling

    No matter how long you’ll be gone, it’s a good idea to let your credit card companies know you will be overseas; that way any transactions that you make aren’t flagged as fraudulent and your card is less likely to be blocked. There’s nothing worse than having to sit on the phone with your credit card company instead of enjoying your vacation.

    Also, make sure you have multiple credit card and debit cards with you. That way, should one card get flagged, lost, or stolen you won’t be left high and dry. I’ve lost cards, had them stolen, and had them flagged many times over the years. Without a backup, I would have been stranded — so plan ahead and bring some backup cards just in case!
     

    Step 16: Pack!

    pack your bags
    Time to pack for your trip! It can be tempting to want to bring everything with you “just in case” but when it comes to travel, less is more. You don’t need 5 sweaters or 8 pairs of shoes. You can get by with less, I promise. it’s actually quite liberating once you get used to it!

    I travel with a 40L REI bag and then a smaller day bag.

    Unless you’re heading to multiple climates and need bulky winter hear, you don’t need a massive 70L bag stuffed to the top. Here’s my suggested packing list to help you take just the right amount of stuff and avoid overpacking (here’s a list for female travelers as well).

    While what you pack will depend on where you are going, remember that you don’t need to pack everything you own. You can buy things you need on the road. You can do laundry overseas. At the end of the day, you have to carry everything you bring. So bring less!

    There are a few extra tiems you might want to pack beyond your everyday clothes, though. Some things I like to bring with me are:

    Additionally, make sure you bring any prescriptions with you so you have enough for the duration of your trip. If that’s not feasible, bring a doctors note and prescription with you so you can fill it abroad.<
     

    Step 17: Buy Travel Insurance

    While a lot of people think, “I’m healthy, I don’t need travel insurance. I won’t get sick,” travel insurance is much more than just medical protection. It covers you when your camera breaks, your flight is canceled, a family member dies and you have to come home, or if something gets stolen.

    Yes, it’s an added expense. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry. I never leave home without it because I’ve seen first-hand just what can happen on the road.

    I never thought I would pop my eardrum while I was scuba diving in Thailand or break my camera in Italy.

    I didn’t know I would get stabbed in Colombia.

    My friend never thought he would break his leg hiking.

    Another friend didn’t expect her father would die and she would have to fly back home.

    Unfortunately, bad things can happen when you’re traveling. True, these events are few and far between. But they can cost tens of thousnds of dollars to handle on your own. If you’re not prepared to pay out of pocket, buy travel insurance.

    To help you figure out the best plan for you and your trip, here’s my ultimate guide to picking a good insurance company. It will show you how to pick a good plan that covers you for when you get sick, your flights get canceled, if you get injured, something gets stolen, or your trip is delayed.

    My favorite company is World Nomads and I use them for all my trips. If you’re older than 70, check out Insure my Trip as they are the best provider for older travelers.

    For more information on travel insurance, you can check out these posts:

     

    Step 18: Enjoy Your Trip

    have a great time on your trip
    And now, everything comes together. It’s time to go on your trip and have fun! Head to the airport, board your plane (don’t forget your passport!), and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’ve earned this!

    If you’re feeling nervous, don’t worry — that’s perfectly normal. You’re about to embark on an amazing adventure — and that’s a huge change. Feeling anxious or nervous or unsure is something every traveler experiences. But you’ve made it this far. Trust your planning, follow your instincts, and you’ll have the trip of a lifetime. I guarantee it.

    ***

    By using this post as a guideline for your trip planning, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. You’ll check all the boxes, not miss anything, and have plenty of money for your vacation. It can be as simple as booking a flight and packing or as complex as rearranging your entire life to go backpack the world forever.

    But, no matter how long your trip may be, this list will help you stay organized and motivated as you plan your trip and to step onto that plane and out into the world.

    P.S. – Yes, I did leave out visas and vaccinations, because needing those isn’t as universal as the other stuff on this list, but don’t forget to check if you need those, too!

    Want to have this information at your fingertips? Download this post as a PDF

     

    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 most comprehensive inventory. 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.

    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!

    The post 18 Easy Steps for Planning Your Next Trip appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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    How to Find a Job Teaching in Spain

    Posted By : webmaster/ 211 0


    Natasha, a solo female traveler and English teacher in Spain
    Posted: 2/22/2020 | February 22nd, 2020

    Teaching overseas is one of a great way to earn money while you travel, stay in one place longer, and get to deeply experience another culture. I spent years teaching in Thailand and Taiwan and they were some of the most impactful experiences of my traveling. Living in a foreign culture, trying to get by day to day, and learning to create a life for yourself is a surefire way to become a more confident you and give you a deeper understanding of yourself.

    I get a lot of emails from people about teaching overseas and one of the most asked about destinations is Spain! While we’ve written about the destination before, I wanted to add in another perspective from someone who just did it last year.

    Natasha is a local Austinite who graduated from school and moved to Spain for a year. Here she is explaining how she did it and how you can too!

    Tell us about yourself!
    Natasha: I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but my family moved to India when I was two months old. After a year, we moved to Australia, where I grew up until I was 9. Then we moved to Vancouver where I stayed until I was 15.

    I consider myself to be from Australia, Canada, and the US in almost equal parts, and ethnically I am Indian and Pakistani. I double-majored in international relations and Latin American studies at UT-Austin.

    In my free time, I make YouTube videos about travel and I am devoted to health and fitness. I also cook and practice yoga.

    You recently spent some time teaching in Spain. Tell us how you got started doing that. Was it easy to figure out the process and find a job?
    I studied abroad in Madrid in college. While I was there, I met some people who were English-language assistants and kept in touch with them after I returned home. I knew I wanted to take a gap year and travel after graduation, so I reached out to them and they told me about different programs I could apply for.

    I looked into a few, but the government program “Auxiliares de Conversación” was free and had good reviews, so I chose to apply to that one. It allows foreigners to visit and work as teaching assistants. You’ll be paired with a teacher and help the students learn English.

    The application is quite daunting. It required an essay, two letters of recommendation, a lot of legal paperwork, and other forms. The essay I wrote was about a page long, essentially a letter of intent explaining why I was interested in the program and the qualities that make me fit for the position.

    The program also requires an official college transcript as well, but it accepts applicants from diverse educational backgrounds. so as long as you show keen interest, have good letters of recommendation, and have decent grades you should be fine!

    I didn’t decide to join this program until the beginning of March, but I would suggest starting the process as soon as it is available in January. That will give you more time to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops. After receiving your acceptance, I suggest booking your visa appointment immediately, as these fill up fast!

    Natasha, a solo female traveler and English teacher in Spain sitting on a bench

    Did you have any prior teaching experience? Is experience necessary?
    I didn’t have any teaching experience, and the Auxiliar de Conversación program doesn’t require you to. As long as you have (or are completing) your bachelor’s degree and are a native English speaker, you are eligible.

    What was an average day like?
    You are only required to work 12-16 hours a week with this program, so a workday is typically about four hours. Since we’re English-language assistants, we are paired with an English teacher and don’t have to create a curriculum for the whole class.

    On an average day as an auxiliar, the teacher I worked with would mostly have me walk around and assist students with the activities she had assigned them to do. Since I was an assistant and not the main teacher, my job mostly consisted of providing help like that.

    The teacher for the younger grades would have me work one-on-one with students that were falling behind or had special needs, to give them more attention, but we usually worked on the same activities as the other students. For about 10-15 minutes of the class, I would sometimes give a presentation or play vocabulary games, such as Bingo or Hangman.

    I was never required to teach an entire lesson, but I would occasionally have to manage small groups of students. This allowed them to participate more since they would not be as shy to speak English (and it’s easier to control a few students than a whole class).

    Regarding the actual teaching, it was the easiest and smoothest part of my time in Spain. As long as you can keep the students interested and engaged you won’t have any issues.

    Did you have any unexpected challenges?
    Many! I lived about an hour’s walk from my school, which was inconvenient and isolating. It took me a while to figure out the bus system, so adapting to my location was the first challenge.

    However, the biggest challenge I faced was having to come back to the US for a month, because I didn’t have a visa. I was informed that I didn’t need a visa prior to entering Spain, but upon arrival, I would need to get my NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) and I would be set.

    Well, when I arrived, I was the only applicant without a visa. I went to eight different foreign consulates, and no one knew if I had to leave Spain to get a visa. Ultimately I had to fly back to the US, score an almost-impossible-to-get appointment with the Spanish consulate, and get my visa. The bureaucratic system is slow and very tedious, so try to talk to former auxiliares if you can (there are lots of Facebook groups for this).

    Natasha, a solo female traveler and English teacher posing at sunset

    What is one thing you wish you knew before you started teaching?
    I wish I knew that one person’s experience could be very different from the next. I had an amazing overall experience; however, parts of my life didn’t go as I expected.

    I went in expecting to make great connections with my colleagues more than anyone else, but the environment at the school I worked at wasn’t very welcoming. A lot of teachers at my school didn’t live in the community (they commuted from pueblos as far as an hour away). This made it hard to form close friendships. Moreover, my school was comprised of teachers who were still completing their exams, so every year the teachers changed schools. That meant that the sense of community was not very strong.

    Fortunately, I became friends with other auxiliares in my area and was welcomed warmly into their community. I became friends with teachers at other schools, took trips with them, and received lots of help with life in general in Spain.

    What kind of salary can auxiliares expect?
    Auxiliares earn a “scholarship” rather than a salary. I was paid 1,000 EUR/month ($1,100 USD) during my contract. I would say that one should expect around 700-1,000 EUR per month ($770-1,100 USD) (or about 15 EUR/hour ($16.50 USD). Auxiliares in Madrid received the same “scholarship” as I did, but the cost of living in that region is much higher.

    If you are paid 700 EUR, you usually work 12 hours a week instead of 16, and you can definitely try and teach private English lessons to earn more.

    Natasha, a solo female traveler and English teacher in Spain exploring

    What are your top three tips for someone interested in teaching in Spain?
    1. Arrive with at enough to live off of for at least three months. I was fortunate to live in a city with decent prices for accommodation. I had two roommates and spent around 250 EUR/month ($275 USD) on rent. Groceries, rent, and transportation were my main expenses, around 650 EUR ($715 USD) for all of those (plus some miscellaneous things). This left me with just a bit of money to use for travel.

    In the Valencia region, the government was three months late to start paying us and always late by at least a few days to a week after the first paycheck. Since it’s not a lot of money, you’ll want to have a lot of savings. That way, if you’re paid late, you will have enough money to get by.

    2. Research where you want to work. I chose Madrid as my first choice and Andalucía as my second. I would have also liked to live in Barcelona, but that wasn’t an option. I applied late to the program and existing auxiliares have priority for where they are stationed. As a new applicant (and a late one), I was sent to Valencia.

    When choosing regions, be aware that a region does not necessarily mean you will end up in the city it’s named for. By that I mean, the “Madrid” region does not only mean the city of Madrid but rather the entire region around the city. Regions are like states, and so you could end up living two hours (or more) from the capital of the region.

    You should also take into account the language spoken in the region. Where I lived, people spoke Valenciano just as much (if not more) than Spanish, and school was conducted in valenciano (a dialect of Catalan). Luckily, Valenciano has similarities to Spanish.

    However, if you’re placed in the Basque Country (northern Spain), they speak Euskara, which has no similarities to Spanish. So if your goal is to practice or learn Spanish, make sure you choose to live in a region that speaks it.

    Weather is another aspect to consider. While in the summer it is warm almost everywhere, winters can be quite cold (more so in the north). If you’re not a fan of cold weather, consider living closer to the south and the sea.

    There are auxiliar Facebook groups and blogs that have plenty of information and anecdotes about different regions, which can help you make your decision.

    3. Learn some Spanish. Understand that you could be placed in a pueblo very far from a big city, so brush up on your Spanish a little. It isn’t mandatory to teach English, but it will really come in handy if you’re in a smaller location and want to connect more with the locals (and your colleagues).
     

    Want to Learn More About Teaching Abroad?

    Here are some helpful posts about teaching English overseas to help you learn more:

    For more teaching tips and advice you can follow Natasha on Instagram and YouTube.

    P.S. – Want to meet other travelers in real life? This year we launched The Nomadic Network, a platform created to help travelers connect, learn, and get inspired in real life! Here are our upcoming events if you want to take part: Seattle (2/17), Austin (2/18), Fort Lauderdale (2/19), Portland (2/19), San Francisco (2/20), Los Angeles (2/23), Detroit (2/24), Boston (2/24), Dublin (2/24), San Diego (2/24), London (2/25), Chicago (2/25), and NYC (3/10).

     

    Ready to Teach Overseas? Get My Comprehensive Guide

    This digital guide will put you ahead of your competition, help you land a high-paying job with a reputable company, and give you first-hand knowledge from real teachers! Get started today with this downloadable PDF (for your computer, e-reader, or mobile device) with the book PLUS 12 interviews about life as a teacher, plus job advice from one of the industry’s top recruiters!

    Book Your Trip to Spain: 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 somewher eother than a hotel, use Booking.com, as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite hostels in Spain are:

    • Sungate One (Madrid) – Super clean, in a great location, and very social. They organize pub crawls, communal meals, and walking tours too!
    • Kabul (Barcelona) – This is the best party hostel in the city. It’s fun, social, and really easy to have fun and meet people.
    • La Banda (Seville) – Another fun and social hostel. They have an on-site bar and host huge communal dinners too. It’s lively and agreat place to meet people and party.

    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 they will help you too!

    Looking for more information on visiting Spain?
    Check out my in-depth destination guide to SPain with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

    The post How to Find a Job Teaching in Spain appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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    Let’s Talk About the Double Standard in Travel

    Posted By : webmaster/ 214 0


    Kristin Addis in Hawaii
    Posted: 02/20/2020 | February 20th, 2020

    Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse writes our regular column on solo female travel. It’s an important topic I can’t adequately cover, so I brought in an expert to share her advice for other women travelers to help cover the topics important and specific to them! In this month’s article, she explores the double standards that come with solo female travel.

    I rushed to the gate at Julius Nyerere Airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. As the agent checked my passport, he looked around me and, perplexed, asked if I was alone.

    I’d just finished up four months of solo traveling up from South Africa, one of the best and most enriching solo trips of my life, and replied that yes, I was alone.

    “Your husband lets you do that?” he asked incredulously.

    I get it. In Tanzania, it’s unthinkable for a woman, especially in her late twenties like I was, to travel alone. I gently let him know that nobody “lets” me do anything, and that I’m unmarried.

    While I take pleasure in shifting paradigms when possible, I still wonder what it would be like if I were a man. How would I be perceived when I solo travel or write about it? How would people treat me differently?

    1. They wouldn’t ask me whether or not my husband “lets me” travel alone.

    From Tanzania to the Philippines, I’ve been asked where my boyfriend or husband is. I bet almost nobody would ask me if my girlfriend lets me travel alone if I were a man.

    Kristin Addis in Tanzania

    I wouldn’t have to question whether or not I should lie about being single. I wouldn’t debate wearing a decoy wedding band. My safety wouldn’t be tied up in my singleness.

    2. They wouldn’t question whether a boyfriend or daddy pays for my trips.

    Is it so strange to believe that a woman can fund her own lifestyle? Why is there such a pervasive myth that women who travel solo are being bankrolled by someone?

    When I travel, I pay for it, and when I travel with my partner, we split it 50/50.

    I bet I wouldn’t have to state that if I were a man, though.

    3. People might ask when I’m planning to settle down, but they wouldn’t do it with such frequency and entitlement to the answer

    Maybe settling down with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a dog named Spike used to be the norm, but we have more mobility these days, and the internet, and too many people anyway. So why is it so darn important to people that I eventually settle down?

    I think in a way it’s saying, “Hey, this was the only option I gave myself, and now you have to follow suit.” For those who conform to expectations, it’s uncomfortable when others deviate from the norm, especially women.

    But I’m not worried about it. If and when I choose, I’ll do it, and if I don’t, that’s OK too. I’m approaching this more like a man, OK?

    Also, get out of my ovaries.

    4. I’d be called adventurous and an explorer rather than irresponsible and stupid.

    If I traveled solo as a man, even if something unfortunate happened to me, I’d be called an explorer and lover of life.

    Yet as a woman, I’ve been called stupid, warned I’d be “found dead and cannibalized,” and accused of leading other women to their death (just look at the comments on this video, the worst of which I actually deleted).

    5. I wouldn’t be warned I’d “get raped” if I traveled alone.

    If I were a man, I’d only have a 6.6% chance of being told I’d “get raped” if I travel alone, versus nearly 70% as a woman.

    This is problematic on so many levels, it deserves its own post.

    6. I’d be able to wear what I want.

    In some places, I can’t wear what I want. I understand that modesty is built into the culture in many places around the world, and I respect it and assimilate when in those countries.

    But that doesn’t mean I have to pretend that I enjoy wearing long sleeves and pants in 90-degree weather with 90% humidity while the boys get to wear shorts and tank tops.

    7. I wouldn’t have had to wonder what the hell to do when cornered in an elevator in Santiago by two big men, saying salacious things to me in Spanish.

    When I traveled through Patagonia with a male friend, nobody harassed me, assuming I wasn’t available. Yet when we parted ways so that I could solo travel — something that was important to me to do — the catcalls started pouring in.

    Sadly, I’ve been catcalled in almost every country that I’ve been to, even the ones you’d least expect (yet not at all in southern and eastern Africa — points for Africa!). It ranges from “ciao bella” to being chased down the sidewalk.

    Kristin Addis in Namibia

    It is not a compliment, it’s an assertion of power, and it’s exhausting.

    In Santiago, it crossed the line into terrifying when two huge guys got into an elevator with me, hovered over me, and harassed me. It was the perfect place, because who could help me in there?

    Would that have happened to a man?

    (On the positive side, if I were a man, locals might not be as concerned with taking care of me as many are. People might also not trust me outright the way they do. Right or wrong, women tend to be perceived as more peaceful and gentle and in need of protection.)

    8. Nobody would have assaulted me in public in Nepal.

    In Pokhara, Nepal, after a random power cut, the sun was setting and I realized I needed water to drink to get through the evening. Though I prefer not to walk alone when it gets dark, I had to do so in that instance.

    Kristin Addis in Nepal

    I heard myself scream before realizing that a local male had grabbed my breast. I whirled around and saw nothing but the back of his head as he ran away like the coward he is.

    Everyone nearby just pretended like they hadn’t seen anything, of course.

    9. But maybe the police would have taken me more seriously.

    I wonder, if I’d been a man demanding the police take notice, would they have listened to me? Would the officer still have rolled his eyes and acted like I was ruining his night by demanding an escort back to my guesthouse?

    I can only wonder if it would have been different.

    10. Insulting my ass would not be the topic of discussion on a post about road trips.

    When women share about something like travel on social media, why is body shaming still a thing?

    Why, on a post about road trips of all things, does someone feel the need to inform me that my ass is flat? Does that happen to guys too? I think not.

    11. I wouldn’t have had an internet stalker demand a naked selfie from me for months on all of my social platforms.

    If being a solo female traveler is tough at times, try writing about it. Have any of my male peers ever been harassed for months on end, on every platform, by a stalker demanding a naked selfie?

    Unfortunately, women are targeted online way more than men. According to the BBC, one in three teenage girls have been sexually harassed online.

    Why can’t we just share our travel pictures in peace?

    12. I wouldn’t get a flood of comments from fragile males on posts like this.

    It always happens, but I’m curious: Why should any egalitarian male, who has the ability to see things from someone else’s perspective, ever take this personally? Why does pointing out issues in our society automatically equate to blaming men?

    Louder, for the ones in the back: it doesn’t.

    ***

    Obviously, there are drawbacks for male solo travelers too — and benefits that only women who travel solo get to enjoy. There can be an implied trust factor between women that transcends cultures, and time and time again, people have been generous towards me in ways that I didn’t expect.

    In the end, I still love and champion solo female travel and believe that every woman should do it. I’m just sick of all the double standards and think it’s high time to call them out.

    Kristin Addis is a solo female travel expert who inspires women to travel the world in an authentic and adventurous way. A former investment banker who sold all of her belongings and left California in 2012, Kristin has solo traveled the world for over eight years, covering every continent (except for Antarctica, but it’s on her list). There’s almost nothing she won’t try and almost nowhere she won’t explore. You can find more of her musings at Be My Travel Muse or on Instagram and Facebook.

    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 somewher eother than a hotel, 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 I think will help you too!

    The post Let’s Talk About the Double Standard in Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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    How to Become a Sustainable Traveler in 2020

    Posted By : webmaster/ 177 0


    A solo male travelers backpacking in Southeast Asia
    Posted: 2/17/2020 | February 17th, 2020

    After years on the sidelines, sustainable travel has made its way to the forefront of the travel industry. Environmentally friendly travel is now one of the fastest-growing movements in the industry, and I, for one, welcome this trend. It’s an incredibly important topic that I’ve been writing about for years.

    After all, why destroy what you love? No one wants to see paradise paved over. We all cringe when we return to an overdeveloped, polluted destination. None of us want to contribute to that.

    Being an eco-friendly traveler is simply being a respectful traveler.

    As we strive to become more environmentally conscious, the questions for travelers become:

    Just how do we “green” our travels?

    What can we do to lower our carbon footprint as we travel the world?

    How can we better interact with the communities we visit?

    What changes can we make that are actually helpful?

    Flight shaming people is not the answer, but do we all just stay home and quit traveling?

    Fortunately, there’s actually a lot we can do as travelers to reduce our ecological footprint while contributing to the sustainability of the communities we visit.

    Here are 13 concrete ways to reduce your environmental impact as a traveler:
     

    1. Stay Close to Home

    Though the exotic is always appealing, travel doesn’t have to be about going somewhere far away. Travel is the art of exploration and discovery — and that can just as well be nearby. Find somewhere close to home you haven’t been, get in your car (or better yet, take the bus), and go visit. You never know what you’ll come across!

    “X” is always the most interesting place on the map.
     

    2. Make Greener Transportation Choices

    If you can, try to travel by train or bus. Not only does this reduce your carbon footprint but companies like FlixBus, Megabus, and Greyhound always have some cheap tickets, so you can save money too.

    And when traveling by car, consider offering rides to other travelers to lower your collective emissions and cut costs. Many people will be happy to chip in for gas if it saves them time, which means you can save money and lower your carbon footprint at the same time. Win-win! That will cut your per-person transportation emissions in half (if not more). Use platforms like BlaBlaCar, Couchsurfing, and Craigslist to find rideshares near you.

    Avoid flying or driving long distances by yourself whenever you can.
     

    3. Travel Slow

    When we travel abroad, we have a tendency to rush around from place to place, trying to soak in as many sights as possible. I get that. After all, not everyone can be permanent nomads, and when you have limited time and aren’t sure if you’re coming back again, I can see why people “travel fast.”

    However, not only does this raise your transportation costs since you’re moving a lot, you end up increasing your carbon footprint. All those trains, buses, and planes add up. The fewer you take, the better.

    Additionally, being a good traveler not only means reducing your carbon footprint but also doing good by the communities you visit. Day-tripping brings in very little money to communities but impacts their infrastructure heavily (it’s why the city of Hallstatt in Austria is restricting day tours). So try to stay at a destination for a least a night.

    Traveling to fewer destinations is good not only for your wallet and the climate, it’s good for local communities as well.

    (Plus, slowing your travels will let you get to know places in a deeper way, since you’ll get to spend more time there. In travel, less can be more.)
     

    4. Pack Smart

    While the specifics of will depend on where you’re going, there are a few things you’ll want to bring with you to help you travel more sustainably:

    • Reusable water bottle – Nalgene makes durable bottles that are BPA-free and made in the USA.
    • Water filter – Many destinations don’t have potable water, which means you’re going to be using tons of single-use plastic. Instead, bring a Lifestraw or SteriPen. These devices will purify your water so you can drink from practically anywhere, ensuring you can avoid single-use plastic bottles.
    • Tote bag/stuff sack – If you’re traveling long-term, bring a tote back or an extra stuff sack. You can use them for buying groceries and avoid plastic bags. At other times, they can be used to keep your bag organized.
    • Diva cup – This is a reusable menstrual cup. While I can’t speak from personal experience, it’s something our resident solo female travel expert packs when she travels, since menstrual products are not always available (and can also be quite wasteful).
    • Utensils – Travel cutlery (a fork, knife, and spoon, or just a spork or a set of chopsticks) can come in handy if you’re on a budget and plan on cooking your own meals. But they’re also useful for street food and eating out, as you can avoid plastic cutlery.

    Additionally, bring a small Tupperware container for leftovers. I always find myself with extra food when I cook in hostels. This helps avoid waste and provides food for the next day. It’s an amazing travel hack surprisingly few people make use of.
     

    5. Fly with Fewer Connections

    While I don’t believe in flight shaming, it’s impossible to deny that flying does have a hefty carbon impact. In addition to limiting your flying, try to use longer flights with fewer connections. Twenty-five percent of airplane emissions occur during takeoff and landing, which means if you fly shorter flights with more connections, your emissions will be drastically higher.

    Flying direct is simply the better option environmentally, so opt for that whenever possible.
     

    6. Avoid Overvisited Destinations

    If you can, avoid cities grappling with overtourism. You’ll find fewer crowds and lower prices, and you also won’t be putting as much strain on local communities struggling to keep up. (And, from a sheer personal-enjoyment point of view, who wants to deal with crowds or long lines? No one.)

    If you do visit overtouristed places, such as Venice, Amsterdam, or Barcelona, pick a hotel or hostel instead of using sites like Airbnb. Apartment rentals drive up rents for locals and force them out of the city center. Unless you’re going to share accommodation with a local by renting a room from them (or using Couchsurfing), stick to hotels and hostels. Airbnb and similar sites really are detrimental to cities that don’t have a lot of housing.
     

    7. Take Public Transportation

    After walking, public transportation is the next best way to explore new destinations. On arrival, head to the local tourism office to learn about the options (as well as any visitor discounts available for public transit).

    If you do need a taxi, use ridesharing apps instead. Uber and Lyft have a “pool” option in many cities, which lets you split your ride with other travelers. While it may take a little longer to get to your destination, it will save you money and ensure that your ride is as eco-friendly as possible.

    When it comes to longer distances, budget buses are your best way of getting around, since they usually pack in a lot of passengers. Megabus and FlixBus are two of the most popular options.

     

    8. Eat Local

    Food that is imported has a much higher carbon footprint than locally grown food (and it’s usually not as fresh either). To keep your carbon footprint down, eat like a local. Stick to foods that are grown locally, and avoid packaged and imported foods much as possible. This will ensure that you’re eating seasonal produce, which not only is going to be the freshest but will also support the local economy. (Also, stick to organic food if you can.)

    Sure, the odd Western comfort meal is not the end of the world, but the more you eat locally, the more you reduce your environmental footprint and the more you help the local economy as well. After all, you didn’t come to Thailand to eat a burger you could get at home, right?
     

    9. Cut Back on Meat and Dairy

    I’m not saying you need to go vegan. I love meat and never plan to give up bacon. But if you’re concerned with the impact of your food, reducing your meat and dairy intake is extremely helpful. Over 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food — and the majority of those emissions are from animal products. So by cutting back on your meat and dairy consumption, you’ll drastically reduce your carbon footprint. (Avoid Brazilian beef if you can, as lot comes from cleared rainforest land. Cattle ranching is the #1 cause of rainforest deforestation in the world. Same for soy too.)

    Plus, it’s never been easier to travel as a vegan or vegetarian, as there are tons of amazing restaurants out there — as well as apps to help you find them (you can download the HappyCow app to find the best vegan and vegetarian options near you).

    Even if you take meat and dairy out of one meal a week, you’ll be moving the needle in favor of a lower carbon footprint and a more ethical diet.
     

    10. Avoid Animal Attractions

    Part of traveling green is helping the other creatures that inhabit his earth. That means you should avoid any and all attractions that use captive wild animals for entertainment. The most common offenders are riding elephants, swimming with dolphins, visiting captive whales, and petting (drugged) tigers. These activities require animal abuse and imprisonment and should be avoided.

    Animals are best viewed in their natural habitats. If you want to see them, go on a safari, jungle hike, or whale-watching tour and see the animals where they belong, in the wild.

    If you want to be an ethical and responsible traveler, stick to taking photographs and avoid direct interactions with animals.

    For more information on animal tourism and how to avoid it, check out these helpful organizations:

     

    11. Reduce Your Plastic Use

    I hate plastic. It creates a ton of waste. From plastic bottles to toothpaste tubes to shopping bags, plastic sucks. I admit I’m not perfect, and I still use too much, but I’m always trying to reduce my consumption (both at home and abroad).

    Avoiding plastic as much as possible is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. You can buy a reusable water bottle, use toothpaste tabs, carry your own cutlery, and travel with a canvas bag for starters.

    Additionally, skip the plastic straws and cutlery and avoid getting take-out unless it comes in biodegradable containers. Straws can take 200 years to biodegrade, and plastic bags take 20. Don’t let a few minutes of convenience endanger the planet. Skip the plastic.
     

    12. Cut Back on Cruises

    Cruises are one of the worst offenders when it comes to carbon footprints and overtourism. Taking a cruise has the same average per-person carbon footprint as flying from London to Tokyo — round-trip. That’s almost 20,000 kilometers (12,500 miles)!

    Thanks to cruises, carbon emissions in popular port cities can be so high that thousands of people actually die prematurely every year.

    And to top it all off, day-trippers from cruises visits are overwhelming local economies, driving up prices, forcing out locals, and creating destinations that are over-reliant on tourism.

    Don’t get me wrong: cruises are a fun way to travel. But if you’re looking to lower your environmental footprint, you’ll want to avoid cruises as much as possible.
     

    13. Take a Nature-Related Trip

    Travel is one of the best personal development tools there is. It opens you up to a whole new world and widens your perspective of so many things — people, culture, history, food, and so much more.

    If you want to better understand and appreciate the natural world, try taking a trip with the sole purpose of connecting with nature. Head to the Australian Outback, go diving and swim around coral reefs, visit national parks, camp in the Moroccan desert, stay a few weeks in a town with little or no electricity, canoe down the Amazon River, or spend a few nights under the stars in a field close to home.

    Do something that gets you in touch with the world in a way that sitting at home with all the electricity and free-flowing running water doesn’t. I promise that when you come home, you’ll have a new perspective on why we’re all so focused on being environmentally friendly these days.

    It doesn’t take much to see that we are living unsustainably and something’s got to give. Going on a nature adventure can get you to think differently when it comes to the environment and how important it is for us to treat it well.

    ***

    Traveling in a more green and eco-friendly way is something we should all aspire to. As travelers, it’s our responsibility to make sure that, while we explore the globe, we do so in a way that doesn’t harm the planet or the local communities that we visit.

    With a few simple changes, you can all become better and more sustainable travelers. You just need to take that first step. Action begets action, and the more actions you take, the easier the other ones will be.

    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 they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and 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 those I use — and they’ll save you time and money too!

    The post How to Become a Sustainable Traveler in 2020 appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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    The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Thailand

    Posted By : webmaster/ 219 0


    The skyline of Bangkok, Thailand
    Posted: 2/15/2020 / February 15th, 2020

    Thailand is an English teacher’s dream. With a low cost of living, incredible food, rich culture, plenty of partying, and a mai pen rai (no worries) attitude, the Land of Smiles is a very popular country for English teachers.

    For Thais, English is considered a necessity to work in the global market, so there is always a need for teachers. With language schools, primary schools, universities, and other locations offering English classes, there are numerous avenues for employment.

    So, how do you get a job teaching English in Thailand?

    In order to do so, you need to be a native speaker from an English-speaking country (defined as the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand) or prove your fluency, and have a bachelor’s degree.

    Because of the popularity of teaching English in Thailand, I’d recommend also having a 120-hour TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate to make you more competitive.

    With all teaching opportunities in Thailand, salaries vary greatly depending on the location and employer. In hot tourist destinations like Koh Samui, Phuket, and other spots, expect to earn less than what you would make in less exotic locales, because people will accept a lower salary in exchange for the beach lifestyle.

    You will earn the most in Bangkok, followed by Chiang Mai.

    Here’s a breakdown of the various ways to teach in the country and what to expect with each position:
     

    Public Schools

    Public schools are free from preschool through high school. The school year begins in May and ends in March and includes a three-week break in October.

    As a public school teacher in Thailand, expect to work full-time, even if you’re not teaching every moment of the day. Responsibilities range from creating lesson plans and exams to grading papers (none of which you are compensated for if it’s on your own time), as well as keeping office hours at school.

    Students range in their knowledge and understanding of English, and often there is little guidance in terms of the curriculum you need to create. You’re basically on your own here! Many teachers incorporate games, television shows, and movies into their classes.

    In public schools, the student-to-teacher ratio is high, so expect large class sizes.

    Salaries range from 25,000 to 40,000 THB ($827–1,317 USD) a month. Teaching in the cities will earn you the most money. You can expect lower salaries in the countryside, but cost of living is so cheap there, you’ll still end up having plenty of extra money!

    a solitary Thai student smiling for the camera

    Private and International Schools

    There are very few differences between public schools and private and international schools, other than the lower student-to-teacher ratio and the fact that salaries are significantly higher since they are not free to attend.

    International schools have the most coveted positions, but you’ll need to be an actual certified teacher to get one of them, as the curriculum follows the West’s. Private schools are a little less strict, but you’ll still want to have some experience. You’ll need to have not only a degree but also a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate and prior teaching experience, and be a native English speaker.

    If you’ve never taught English before or have only a little experience, you’re unlikely to get a job at one of these schools.

    Whereas the public schools follow the Thai system and come with little support, these institutions tend to be more like Western schools, so if you’re wondering what teaching is like there, just think back to what it was like when you went to school!

    International schools pay the most, roughly 80,000–170,000 THB ($2,633–5,596 USD) a month (which is well above the typical Thai salary and allows for your lifestyle to be more lavish); private schools pay 60,000–80,000 THB ($1,975–2,633 USD).

    These positions also come with a lot of perks: contract bonuses, lots of vacation days, health insurance, and sometimes airfare to and from Thailand.
     

    Universities

    Teaching at a university in Thailand can help give you an edge over the competition for other English teaching jobs in the country. But teaching at a university means teaching part-time and earning only 30,000–60,000 THB ($987–1,975 USD) a month.

    The upside is that you can also teach at another school part-time, you get a few months of paid vacation, and you are compensated generously should you have to work overtime (about 1,000–1,500 THB, or $33–49 USD, an hour).

    Depending on where you teach, your responsibilities will be different. All teachers must come up with lesson plans, but some may also have to teach faculty or have additional sessions outside of the classroom, among other duties.

    You may or may not have textbooks to use for your curriculum. Class sizes at universities are notoriously large, about 50 students.
     

    Language Schools

    Teaching English at a language school in Thailand is different than at a public or private school. Classes are normally held in the morning before the workday starts to accommodate businesspeople, then again in the afternoon and into the evening for children and adults.

    The workweek at language schools extends into the weekend.

    At language schools, classes are small and range from four to ten students. As a teacher, it’s your responsibility to come up with lesson plans and activities.

    There’s also the option at language schools to work full- or part-time. Full-time teachers make anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 THB ($987-1,316 USD) per month; part-time teachers make 350–500 THB ($11.50–16.50 UD) per hour.

    There are lots and lots of language schools in the country, and jobs are fairly easy to get. They don’t really care about previous experience or even if you have a TEFL certificate (though having both makes it easier to get a job).

    You’ll also get very little support from the schools and will basically have to set up everything on your own. You’ll only get paid for actual classroom time.

    I didn’t really love teaching at the language schools, but the work was easy even if it was not well paid.

    A massive Buddhist temple in Thailand

    Corporate Training Programs

    As a corporate teacher, you teach from a company’s office, giving lessons to their staff. Classes tend to be large, so many employees can attend. Because these programs are quite expensive, the positions are only filled by teachers with experience.

    Expect to work during the morning or late at night, as you have to teach people outside business hours.

    Corporate teachers make anywhere from 45,000 to 60,000 THB ($1,481–1,974 USD) a month, and it’s normal for the school to cover travel expenses to the company.
     

    Test Preparation

    Test preparation in Thailand is different than in other English positions. You must be knowledgeable in a variety of English tests, including SAT or GRE prep (and have finished in the 95th percentile or above), as well as IELTS and TOEIC, both of which are used to test students before they work or study abroad.

    As a test prep teacher, classes are either groups or private and take place on both weekdays and weekends. It’s your job to not only teach the courses but also design and develop the course curriculum.

    Test prep teachers average about 600 THB ($20 USD) an hour.
     

    Best Job Resources for Teaching in Thailand

    There are numerous sites to find jobs teaching English in Thailand. The best one for jobs is ajarn.com as it simply has the most listings and is specific to Thailand. It’s the oldest teaching in Thailand website too.

    Other sites with job postings include the following:

    How to Apply for a Visa

    It isn’t hard to apply for the Non-Immigrant B visa necessary to teach English in Thailand and your school will help you do, but there are quite a few steps to getting it and then starting teaching.

    First, make sure your passport has validity beyond six months and have passport photos for applications, as well as your original bachelor’s degree, transcripts, and a certified criminal background check.

    Next, you’ll need to apply for a visa from outside of Thailand and include a letter from your employer with the job offer. Once you have your visa, your employer steps in and handles the paperwork, completing the remainder of the application on your behalf.

    After the visa is complete, you’ll need to have a physical exam and a medical certificate from a Thai doctor and then get your work permit. From there, it’s on to the Immigration Department in order to extend your visa in your passport for 12 months.

    The last two steps are to get your tax card from the Tax Department and then your teaching license. Your employer should be able to assist you in all aspects of the process.

    It’s important to note that if you choose to teach without these necessary items, you run the risk of getting kicked out of the country and fined.

    ***

    Teaching English in Thailand is one of the best teaching opportunities in the world, thanks to the country’s cost of living, tropical environment, and laid-back lifestyle.

    With so many options for teaching and the ease of getting a visa, it’s a perfect spot to start your English teaching career abroad.

    P.S. – Want to meet other travelers in real life? This year we launched The Nomadic Network, a platform created to help travelers connect, learn, and get inspired in real life! Here are our upcoming events if you want to take part: Seattle (2/17), Austin (2/18), Fort Lauderdale (2/19), Portland (2/19), San Francisco (2/20), Los Angeles (2/23), Detroit (2/24), Boston (2/24), Dublin (2/24), San Diego (2/24), London (2/25), Chicago (2/25), and NYC (3/10).

     

    Ready to Teach Overseas? Get My Comprehensive Guide

    This digital guide will put you ahead of your competition, help you land a high-paying job with a reputable company, and give you first-hand knowledge from real teachers! Get started today with this downloadable PDF (for your computer, e-reader, or mobile device) with the book PLUS 12 interviews about life as a teacher, plus job advice from one of the industry’s top recruiters!

    Book Your Trip to Thailand: 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.

    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!

    Looking for more information on visiting Thailand?
    Check out my in-depth destination guide to Thailand with more tips on what to see, do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

    The post The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Thailand appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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    Cape Town Itinerary: What to See and Do in 4 (or More) Days

    Posted By : webmaster/ 175 0


    An aerial view of Cape Town from the mountains
    Posted: 2/13/2020 | February 13th, 2020

    Cape Town is one of those places I can never get enough of. Its natural beauty, climate, people, chill atmosphere, and delicious food scene always make my visits memorable.

    Backed by Table Mountain, Cape Town is really one of the most beautiful cityscapes in the world.

    There’s a lot to see and do in the city, so to help you make the most of your trip, here is my suggested itinerary for four (or more) days.

     

    Cape Town Itinerary: Day 1

    Table Mountain in Cape Town during a colorful sunset
    Take a Free Walking Tour
    For a thorough introduction to Cape Town, I recommend taking at least one free walking tour. As you know, I always do that when I arrive in a new city, to help me get a sense of the destination’s culture and history and orient myself. Some of my favorite walking tours are:

    Just be sure to tip your guide at the end, as that’s how they make their living.

    Explore the City Center
    Your next stop should be Cape Town’s city center. You’ll find all kinds of shopping, cafés, restaurants, and markets along Long Street. Take several hours to explore and see it all. To see more of Cape Town’s eclectic neighborhoods and get a feel for the local pace of life, here are some specific areas worth exploring:

    • Green Market Square – Right off Long Street, this is a perfect place to find local handicrafts and souvenirs. There are all sorts of crafts and gifts here. Don’t be afraid to haggle for a good deal!
    • Victoria and Alfred’s Waterfront – This is another impressive shopping locale, with a large variety of shops and entertainment. It’s on the historic working harbor, the architecture is quite charming, and it’s extremely popular with both tourists and locals alike. Grab a seat on a waterfront restaurant’s balcony, have a drink, and soak up the atmosphere.
    • Bo-Kaap – Not far from the city center is Bo-Kaap, a colorful Muslim neighborhood. This area, previously the home of Cape Town’s slave population, is known to be quite Instagram friendly (you’ve likely seen it on IG already!). Each home is painted a different color and you can tour the area on your own (although you’ll probably enjoy it a lot more if you take a free walking tour). If you don’t tour with a group, be sure to get a overview of the area’s history at the Bo-Kaap Museum. It’s small, but the staff is quite friendly and super knowledgeable. Admission is 20 ZAR ($1.36 USD) per person.
    • De Waterkant – A nice place to spend the evening is the De Waterkant neighborhood. Not far from Bo-Kaap, this trendy area (think NYC’s Greenwich Village) is the perfect place to stroll, window-shop, and enjoy an upscale dinner. The architecture is quite stylish in what is Cape Town’s “pink” (gay-friendly) district. The Cape Quarter shopping mall is here as well.
    • Woodstock – This is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Cape Town. In recent years, it’s become a hub for art galleries, co-working spaces, breweries, and hip restaurants. What was once an old, rundown industrial area is now one of the coolest places in town.

    Visit Table Mountain
    A visit to Cape Town isn’t complete without taking in the view from Table Mountain. It’s a bit of a walk up there, but it’s totally worth it. The shortest trail takes about two hours, but if you’re short on time, you can take the cable car, which takes about five minutes each way (it’s a bit pricey at 330 ZAR ($22 USD) for a round-trip ticket, though). Up top, you’ll have a 360-degree view of Cape Town, the harbor, the mountains, and the beaches. Try to come up during sunset, or if you can, bring some food and drink and have a picnic!

    Keep in mind that the clouds can move in really fast here, so be sure to check the weather before you hike up.

    I suggest hiking up and then taking the cable car down if you’re short on time. If you want to extend your stay, hike both ways and spend some time relaxing and taking in the view. If you pack some water and snacks, you can easily make this a full-day activity. There are shops at the summit as well as several other hiking trails to explore if you’re looking to work up a sweat.

    Note: I put this at the end of the day so you can do the walking tours in the morning, but you can also make this a full-day activity if you want! It’s worth taking it slow here if you have the time.
     

    Cape Town Itinerary: Day 2

    black and white photograph of the jail where Nelson Mandela was kept
    Visit Robben Island
    Hop on a ferry from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and head to Robben Island, located about 8km from shore, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years behind bars. Declared a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1999, the museum is an important symbol in South Africa, representing the triumph of democracy over apartheid. The tour guides are former prison inmates, and you can to sit in the cells where the political prisoners once lived.

    No visit to Cape Town is complete without coming here. Do not skip this!

    Ferries operate three times a day, starting at 9am (a fourth ferry operates during the summer season). Admission is 320 ZAR ($22 USD) for adults and 200 ZAR ($13.50 USD) for anyone under 18, which includes the ferry ride. Expect the entire trip to take at least four hours.

    Visit Kirstenbosch Garden
    Located in the southern suburbs, these gardens were established over 300 years ago and have more than 22,000 types of plants found on the African continent. Spanning over 1,300 acres, this is unlike any other botanical garden you’ve seen! Be sure to do the tree canopy walkway. There are restaurants and cafés on-site, but they are expensive, so I’d bring your own food and have a picnic on the grounds.

    Rhodes Drive, Newlands, +27 0800-434-373, sanbi.org/gardens/Kirstenbosch. Open daily 8am-6pm (7pm in the summer). Admission is 70 ZAR ($5 USD) per person (discounts available for students and children).

    Watch the Sunset from Lion’s Head
    Table Mountain’s little sister, Lion’s Head, is perfect for an evening hike. It takes just 45 minutes to hike to the top, so time your trek so you’re at the peak for sunset. It’s one of the most scenic spots in town. Also, remember a flashlight for the trek back down.
     

    Cape Town Itinerary: Day 3

    penguins at Boulders Beach, just outside of Cape Town
    See the Penguins
    While you’re in Cape Town, you won’t want to pass up seeing the area’s cutest inhabitants: African penguins! This colony is home to over 3,000 penguins. They live at Boulders Beach Park, and you can view them from a raised boardwalk (further down the beach you can swim with them if you’re really bold — expect freezing water!). Just keep in mind that they are wild animals. The beach is their home, not yours — so keep your distance and don’t try to feed or pet them. They are wild animals after all.

    Visit Slave Lodge
    Built in 1679, this is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Cape Town. It is where the Dutch East India Company housed their slaves until 1811. Over 60,000 African and Asian slaves were brought to the city, and almost 300 men and women were forced to reside in the lodge at a time. Today, the lodge is a museum where you can learn about the hardships slaves faced in their daily lives in Cape Town.

    Corner of Adderley Street and Wale St, +27 2- 467-7229, slavery.iziko.org.za/slavelodge.

    Tour Parliament
    Take a tour of the parliament of South Africa and learn about South African politics — including how the country was governed during the apartheid era. Dating back to 1884, the Houses of Parliament are National Heritage Sites; the original building was granted approval by Queen Victoria when Cape Town was a British colony.

    Today, they host daily hour-long tours during the week, and you can even book a spot (at least one week in advance) to watch debates if you’re interested.

    120 Plein St, +27 (021) 403 2266, parliament.gov.za/visiting-parliament. Tours are held daily, but advance booking is required. Admission is free.

    Hike Signal Hill
    For some beautiful sunset views, hike up to the top of Signal Hill. The climb is tiring and takes around 90 minutes, but the views are worth it (you can also drive or take a taxi up to the top). You’ll get a sweeping vista of Cape Town, including a view overlooking Table Mountain too. Just be sure to give yourself lots of time, so that you don’t miss the sunset.
     

    Cape Town Itinerary: Day 4

    The famous Muizenberg Beach in South Africa
    Visit the District Six Museum
    In 1867, District Six was established for freed slaves, immigrants, and marginalized individuals. Under apartheid (1948–1994), the district was declared a “white area” and the existing residents were forced out. Over 60,000 people were forced from their homes, and this museum highlights their struggles and stories. It provides important context to the city’s modern history and ongoing struggles.

    25A Albertus St, +27 21-466-7200, districtsix.co.za. Open Monday-Saturday 9am-4pm. Admission is 45 ZAR ($3 USD) or 60 ZAR ($4 USD) for a guided tour.

    Hit the Beach
    Cape Town has some incredible beaches, so make sure you spend at least part of a day on one of them. Clifton Beach is probably the most popular. The sand is super white and the water a bright blue. Unfortunately, it’s cold pretty much year-round, so don’t expect warm tropical waters. The scenery is gorgeous though, with the mountains behind you and mansions and upscale restaurants lining the beach road.

    Another option is Muizenberg Beach, which is a 30-minute drive from the city center. This beach has a famous boardwalk and is great for surfing.

    Check Out the Wildlife
    If you head down Muizenberg Beach, be sure to stop at Hout Bay. This harbor is home to tons of seals and seabirds. If you’re visiting between June and November, keep your eyes peeled for the migrating whales. Right whales, humpback whales, Bryde’s whales, and dolphins can all be found here.

    If you’re looking for a meal, the fish and chips in this area of town are to die for. And don’t miss the Bay Harbour Market on the weekend: vendors sell everything from fresh fish to jewelry to local art, and there are often live bands too.

    Explore the South African National Gallery
    The Iziko South African National Gallery is home to an extensive collection of both South African and African art, as well as English, Dutch, and French pieces. The collection focuses on works from the 17th to 19th centuries, including paintings, sculptures, sketches, and lithographs.

    They also facilitate an ever-changing rotation of contemporary artwork from both locals, as well as visiting exhibitions from across Africa and around the world (visit the website to see what temporary exhibitions are available during your visit).

    Additionally, the gallery has a lot of insightful information about art and censorship during apartheid.

    Government Ave, +27 21 481 3970, iziko.org.za. Open daily 9am-5pm. Admission is 30 ZAR ($2 USD).
     

    Cape Town Itinerary: Day 5 (or More!)

    a fishing boat in Kalk Bay at sunset, South Africa
    If you have more than four days in Cape Town, here are some other fun things to see and do during your trip. Most of these will take you out of the city, so you can see more of this beautiful region of the country. Consider renting a car to make things easier!

    Visit Kalk Bay
    This fishing village makes for a nice spot to go window-shopping (or actual shopping if you want some souvenirs). There are plenty of seaside cafés you can relax in for a few hours, away from the busy city center.

    Journey to the Cape of Good Hope
    The Cape of Good Hope is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, and the drive there from Cape Town is one of the best on the continent. You’ll want to take the route along Chapman’s Peak, a winding and scenic road along the Atlantic coast. It’s a toll road, but the views are very much worth the price.

    The Cape of Good Hope is located in Table Mountain National Park, which stretches all the way from Table Mountain in Cape Town to the tip of the continent. This nature reserve is home to numerous birds and animals, including antelope, Cape mountain zebra, eland, and baboons. Keep in mind that, while the baboons may look cute, they are still wild animals, so be careful around them and keep your food secured and out of sight.

    There is a lot to see, so plan for a full-day excursion. If you don’t have your own car, you can book a tour with the Cape Point Explorer for 740 ZAR ($50 USD).

    Enjoy Some Wine
    If you love wine, head to the Stellenbosch area. If you have a car, it’s just 45 minutes outside of the city and is home to hundreds of vineyards. The wine from this region is world-famous, and the scenery is breathtaking, offering towering mountains and lush valleys. Tastings typically run about 60-75 ZAR ($4-5 USD), and food pairings are available as well. Some suggested wineries to check out are:

    • Spier Wine Farm (one of the oldest in the region)
    • Marianne Wine Estate (offers a classic French winery experience)
    • Waterford Wine Estate (they pair their wines with decadent local chocolates)

    If you don’t have a vehicle and want to take a tour, expect to pay at around 1,000 ZAR ($68 USD) per person for a half-day tour of the region and its wineries. Many hostels run their own tours to the region or have partnerships with local tour guides who can take you as well. Be sure to shop around!

    Learn to Surf
    Cape Town is a super place to learn how to surf (though it’s also terrific for experienced surfers). Surfer’s Corner at Muizenberg Beach is known for its beginner waves, and there are plenty of surfing schools around where you can rent a board and take lessons. Expect to pay around 500 ZAR ($34 USD) per person for a 2-3-hour lesson.

    ***

    Cape Town is one of my favorite cities on the African continent. With its terrific hikes, beautiful scenery, and important history, Cape Town has something for everyone. And, thanks the rand’s value, it’s affordable enough, so it’s easy to visit without breaking the bank.

    Let this Cape Town itinerary help you make the most of your visit there.

    Map of Activities

    P.S. – Want to meet other travelers in real life? This year we launched The Nomadic Network, a platform created to help travelers connect, learn, and get inspired in real life! Here are our upcoming events if you want to take part: Seattle (2/17), Austin (2/18), Fort Lauderdale (2/19), Portland (2/19), San Francisco (2/20), Los Angeles (2/23), Detroit (2/24), Boston (2/24), Dublin (2/24), San Diego (2/24), London (2/25), Chicago (2/25), and NYC (3/10).

    Book Your Trip to Cape Town: 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 most comprehensive inventory. If you want to stay somewhere else, use Booking.com, as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels. My favorite places to stay in Cape Town are:

    • The Backpack Cape Town – A fair-trade hostel with a swimming pool and garden, as well as activities most nights. They do a lot of good work for social change!
    • Ashanti Lodge Gardens – You can hang out at the pool or the landscaped gardens here, or in the awesome Kumasi Bar, with its views of Table Mountain. They have a great bar menu too!
    • 91 Loop – When you stay here, you get a free breakfast, free city walking tours, the opportunity to take part in organized activities, and discounts on the Honey Badger restobar.

    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 — and I think they will help you too!

    Looking for more travel tips for South Africa?
    Check out my in-depth South Africa travel guide for more ways to save money, tips on what to see and do, suggested itineraries, informational reading, packing lists, and much, much more!

    The post Cape Town Itinerary: What to See and Do in 4 (or More) Days appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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    How to Explore Tajikistan on a Budget

    Posted By : webmaster/ 208 0


    Mountains of Tajikistan
    Posted: 02/10/20 | February 10th, 2020

    This year, I’m going to try to visit Central Asia in the fall. I’ve never been to the region and it’s long one that’s held great appeal to me. It seems raw, beautiful, and unspoiled. So, when someone reached out to write a guest post on a country there, I was excited. It was a chance to learn a little before I (hopefully) go. In this guest post, traveler and writer Paul McDougal breaks down what it’s like to travel Tajikistan on a budget.

    Aptly and romantically known as “The Roof of the World,” Tajikistan is a hikers’ paradise. More than 93% of the country is defined as mountainous — and more than 50% of that sits at over 3,000 meters (9,800 feet)! It’s a striking country, full of glacial peaks and mountain lakes that are best for multiday hikes (but equally astounding on short jaunts too).

    Traveling around Tajikistan requires a sense of adventure, as the nation is also dotted with poor-quality roads, rudimentary facilities, and a massive lack of infrastructure. But, after spending almost a month there, I learned that it’s easy and affordable to get around these problems with a smile and a shrug.

    Many tourists spend more money than necessary when in Tajikistan. Most do so on an organized tour, which is why there’s a prevailing — and inaccurate — idea that it’s expensive to visit the country. A ten-day organized tour booked online can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500 USD, equivalent to a hefty $150-350 a day.

    But if you travel independently, you can easily navigate this country for about $45 USD per day.

    So, how do you see Tajikistan on a budget? Here’s how:

    Transportation

    road tripping in Tajikistan
    Instead of booking a tour through an online agent, you have four much more affordable ways to get around to choose from:

    1. Find a multiday driver when you arrive
    Hostels and guesthouses can put you in contact with local drivers, with whom you can negotiate your own rate, itinerary, and trip length. Typically, travelers spend $50-100 per day per person for this. The better your negotiation skills (and the more stubborn you are), the greater the chance you’ll get a driver for closer to $50 a day.

    Drivers can be found in Murghab, Khorog, Dushanbe, and other larger places. If you’re traveling the Pamir Highway (like pretty much everyone else in Tajikistan), you can also find drivers in Kyrgyzstan’s second-biggest city, Osh.

    2. Hire a 4WD yourself
    This typically costs around $100 per day for the vehicle, so if you’re traveling with a few people, this is a great choice. It gives you freedom and it’s good for your budget!

    It’s very easy to organize this upon arrival. All hotels, hostels, and guesthouses in both Osh and Dushanbe can put you into contact with agencies that can arrange 4WD rentals. Don’t arrange this online, unless you want to spend more money.

    3. Public transport
    Long-distance public transport doesn’t really exist in Tajikistan. However, enterprising locals have filled this gap in a very affordable way. Every day, before they travel from one city or town to another to go about their daily business, they always ensure that every single spot in their vehicle is filled.

    To find these travel opportunities, ask your guesthouse where “the bus station” is. They’ll direct you to a car-crammed area (usually near a market) where there will be drivers waiting to fill their cars. Using this method, it’s not unusual to end up squashed into the back of an ancient car with four other people on a five-hour trip. These trips typically only costs around $10. And it’s a great way to immerse yourself in local life.

    The price of the trip depends upon its length. The most I paid was for any single trip was $35 USD for a 12-hour, 600-mile voyage from Khorog to Dushanbe. And that was in a 4WD.

    A quick side note: If you’re traveling within a city or town, there are many small minibuses (marshrutkas) that can take you from one destination to another along prescribed routes for the measly price of around $0.20 USD. But along those routes, they’ll stop anywhere to take on new passengers and drop off others. And I mean anywhere: houses, outdoor markets, the middle of busy roads — it’s all fair game.

    4. Hitchhiking
    For the vast majority of my trips in Tajikistan, I hitchhiked. Local people hitchhike in Tajikistan every single day — it’s a valid, recognized method of transport here as not every has a car and, as mentioned above, public transportation is scarce.

    When you hitchhike in Tajikistan, don’t stick out your thumb. Keep your stretched-out hand parallel to the ground and wave it up and down. Depending on where you’re hitchhiking, you will probably have to wait a while — on some barren stretches of road, you might wait thirty minutes to see one car. But, if that car has an empty spot, it will stop and take you without fail. (You might have to pay a little money.)

    I experienced nothing but positivity and warmth doing this. People were happy to take me and introduced me to all sorts of Tajik food, drinks, and music. It’s not unusual for those who pick you up to offer you snacks, buy you a meal, or take you to their home. I always offered money in return for these treats, but it was never accepted.

    Accommodation

    road tripping in Tajikistan
    1. Guesthouses
    In any town or city, you’ll see houses with the word “guesthouse” written on them. Go inside one and strike a deal. It’s the easiest and most affordable accommodation, the perfect way to save money and have a better experience. You’ll be given great food and an even greater welcome.

    Throughout Tajikistan, local people will let you stay in their home for around $10-15 a night. This usually will cover breakfast and dinner too. You can negotiate lunch for a little more if you like — or you can eat elsewhere. Most guesthouses offer much the same welcome and much the same food, so it doesn’t really matter which you choose.

    Often, if you’re in a car with Tajiks (whether through hitchhiking or other means), they’ll take you a guesthouse they know of. And it’ll usually be a good one so don’t be too worried about scams.

    And even if you can’t find an official guesthouse, you’ll find a friendly local who’ll let you stay at their home for a small price.

    2. Hotels and hostels
    These can be equally budget-friendly if you choose the right places. Some hotels are very expensive, but spots such as Pamir Hotel in Murghab offer affordable stays starting at around $15 USD a night. Some smaller towns such as Jelondy, a popular hot spring spot for locals, also offer hotel stays for around $10 USD. (Generally speaking, if a town is a popular vacation spot for Tajiks, there will be a cheap hotel.)

    Hostels are a good cheap option in bigger towns and cities, and especially in Dushanbe. Green House Hostel in particular is a fantastic, affordable hub and is packed with travelers. It’s an excellent place to team up with others to save on transport costs.

    3. Camping
    Your third option for accommodation is camping. In some ways, Tajikistan is very camper friendly. I’m not sure what the actual laws are on wild camping, but I’d be very surprised if any exist. Although I didn’t do so myself, I met many people who camped in the wild, and none of them encountered any trouble. You should, of course, follow the normal rules of wild camping: don’t camp in the same place for more than one night, don’t camp on private land without permission, and don’t camp in cities. You should also research whether there are any dangers in the particular area you’re keen to camp. But otherwise, you will not draw any attention, since camping is very well tolerated here.

    Moreover, guesthouses and hotels will often let you pitch your tent on their land for only $2 or $3 USD.

    Note: the harsh weather conditions can often make camping an unpleasant experience. Because much of Tajikistan lies at such a high elevation, the temperatures can be unpleasant and even dangerous — and the ground in some conditions can be too tough to push tent pegs into. So you should be careful when planning where you want to camp.

    Food


    As I’ve mentioned, you’ll likely eat most of your meals in guesthouses. These will often consist of flat bread, salad, soup, and endlessly flowing cups of tea. Other popular edible offerings include plov (a pilaf-style rice dish with meat and vegetables) and manti (steamed lamb dumplings).

    Outside of guesthouses, you’ll find a more varied and versatile selection of food, such as kebabs and fried noodles.

    You can get your mouth around all of these morsels for low prices in local cafeterias. The food is tasty and filling, and it comes in big portions for less than $2 USD. If you eat at a more up-market restaurant, you’ll be paying closer to $5 USD.

    Takeaway stands in bigger towns and cities sell kebabs and samsas (which are similar to Indian samosas) often for around $1 USD, while outdoor markets are an excellent place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables — along with special pickles, candies, and more — for very cheap prices.

    A quick tip on food: bring hand sanitizer and toilet paper! Everyone gets sick in Tajikistan. I have the world’s strongest stomach, and even I got sick on three separate occasions. You should also wash your hands as much as possible and avoid putting them into your mouth after handling money. And don’t drink the tap water!

    Hiking


    If you hire a private guide from an agency, it can be expensive. Some people pay up to $100 USD a day for a hiking guide. But there’s no need to do this.

    Instead, simply ask at your guesthouse for a local hiking guide. The people who live in these towns and villages know the areas extremely well. They know all the paths and passes and landscapes.

    And for only a few dollars, these unofficial guides will take you to and through the mountains for as long as you like. Whether you want a day hike or a multiday expedition, there’ll be someone in the village who can take you there. I hiked for an entire day in Bulunkul for less than $10 USD and went on a two-day hike in Darshai for less than $25 USD per day.

    There are very few marked routes in Tajikistan. Some are marked on maps.me, but there’s very little of the infrastructure that you’ll find in other countries. So while you can hike independently, it’s essential you take a good map, a good compass, and good equipment — and that you know what you’re doing! Make sure you carry a refillable water bottle along with water purification tables — this will save you money too.

    Are there any other things to see in Tajikistan?
    Pretty much everyone who travels to Tajikistan does so for the hiking and mountain scenery, so I wouldn’t recommend going all the way there if your interest isn’t piqued by peaks. That said, there are a small number of other things to do:

    • Museums: Dushanbe has a few small museums. The three most notable are the National Museum, the Museum of Antiquities, and the Museum of Musical Instruments. These cost between $1 and $5 USD, so they’re a good idea if you’re looking for something to pass the time inexpensively. Other small towns and cities have small local-interest museums.
    • Rudaki Park: Central Asian cities are awash with beautiful parks. And Rudaki Park is one of the best. It’s a great way to people-watch, and it’s beautifully lit after sunset. But best of all, it’s free!
    • Outdoor Markets: There are food markets everywhere, which make for another great free activity.
    • Walking tours: Some hostels offer walking tours, which can be a nice way to see the city. These are usually pay-what-you-like, so you don’t have to spend much money.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Tajikistan


    Where should I get my currency?
    ATMs are notoriously unreliable in Tajikistan, so make sure you bring enough US dollars to cover your whole trip. Yes, some ATMs will work, but finding them can be a chore, and having cash gives you more peace of mind.

    Outdoor markets/bazaars offer the best exchange rates, better than banks. Look for small shacks with rates written on a sign. Most tourist establishments (such as hotels and guesthouses) will also exchange money, so it’s always easy to get your hands on Tajik somoni — but go to the small market shacks to get more money for your money.

    Should I barter in Tajikistan?

    Tajikistan is a barterers’ economy. You can negotiate and barter over prices for a whole range of things:

    • Food in a market
    • Accommodations
    • Campsite fees
    • 4WD rentals
    • Long-distance rides
    • Hitchhiking
    • Hiking guides
    • Exchange rates

    But there are things you can’t barter over:

    • SIM cards
    • Restaurant prices
    • Short-distance public transport rides
    • Your visa and flights (good luck trying)

    What’s an overall daily budget in Tajikistan?
    If you’re a budget traveler, you can get by on an average of $45 USD (or less) per day, depending on where you are, how you’re traveling, and what you like to do. Here are some figures for what you can expect to pay (on average) for things (in USD):

    • Dorm bed in a hostel: $5-15
    • Guesthouse with two meals and a bed: $10-15
    • Double room in a cheap hotel: $15-20
    • Public transport/hitchhiking per day: $10-15
    • Restaurant meal: $5
    • Snacks and fruit: $3
    • A day of hiking: $10
    • SIM card: $5

    ***

    Tajikistan will give you a hundred reasons to fall in love. Whether it’s a full cup of tea in a stranger’s home, a steaming bowl of plov, or a gold-toothed smile, every day is full of beautiful experiences.

    Most people come here for hiking amid the peaks and mountain lakes. And rightly so. But upon leaving, what they’ll remember most is the warmth, the hospitality, and the unending kindness. It’s often true that poorer countries offer the richest welcomes. And that’s exactly the case here.

    You’ll leave Tajikistan feeling better than when you arrived. So don’t let the inaccurate rumors of costly travel deter you. Not only is Tajikistan possible on a budget, it’s better that way.

    Paul McDougal is a professional writer from the United Kigdom. He loves hiking, laughing, and getting himself into strange situations. He currently lives in Vietnam. You can find his website and more of his stories here and follow his Instagram here for photography and scenes from the road.

    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.

    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 How to Explore Tajikistan on a Budget appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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    My 5 Favorite Hostels in Mexico City

    Posted By : webmaster/ 192 0


    One of the many beautiful historic buildings in Mexico City
    Posted: 2/8/2020 | February 8th, 2020

    Over the past several years, Mexico City has become a hot spot for travelers as cheap flights and a burgeoning food scene have made this an ideal destination for travelers who wish to discover its temples, museums, and restaurants while sticking to a budget.

    As such, the choices of hostels have exploded — there are now over 40. They’ve become a lot more luxurious and offer better accommodations than before.

    But they are still cheap!

    Beds generally cost 229-379 MXN ($12-20 USD) per night. Plus, you’ll find that many hostels offer tours, free breakfast, and common areas for meeting other travelers.

    To help you decide which amazing hostel to stay at in Mexico City, here is a list of my five favorites!
     

    1. Casa Pepe

    One of the beautiful dorm rooms at the Casa Pepe hostel in Mexico City
    Hands-down the best hostels in the city, Casa Pepe is equal parts cultural hub and boutique hostel. It offers a plethora of activities for travelers like in-house concerts, wrestling trips, tequila tastings, traditional dishes for breakfast, and free daily walking tours in different areas of town too.

    The rooms are clean and spacious and come with private lockers. The dorm beds are cubby-like and covered by a curtain, so you can have your own private space, which makes sleeping a lot easier. They also come with their own light and USB charger port. You can enjoy yoga in the morning and relax on the rooftop terrace in the evening (there’s a rooftop swimming pool too!).

    If you’re looking for a social hostel that makes it easy to meet people, this is it! It’s also located in a great part of the historic center of the city, near the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Zócalo.

    Beds from 379 MXN ($20 USD), privates from 1,619 MXN ($86 USD).

    —> Book your stay at Casa Pepe!
     

    2. Massiosare El Hostel

    Bunk beds in the Massiosare El Hostel in Mexico City
    Towering over Mexico City, Massiosare El Hostel is located in the penthouse of a beautiful historic building. There’s no elevator up to the hostel (which is on the 4th floor), though, which can be tiring, but it more than compensates with cozy dorm rooms and a super chill rooftop. The views from the roof are incredible, and it’s a fun place to relax at night and listen to music with other travelers.

    There are two kitchens (one for vegetarians and one for meat eaters) as well as a free breakfast every morning as well. It’s another great social hostel, and it’s super easy to meet people here. Just make sure to bring earplugs since it’s an old building and sounds tend to carry.

    Beds from 240 MXN ($12 USD), privates from 600 MXN ($31 USD).

    —> Book your stay at Massiosare El Hostel!
     

    3. Hostel Home

    one of the dorm rooms in Hostel Home, Mexico City
    Hostel Home is Mexico City’s first hostel. Located in the Roma district, this place feels is super homey. It’s small, with colorful paintings on the walls and tons of potted plants, and offers comfortable beds, free drinking water, and good Wi-Fi.

    The rooms are a little cramped, but each dorm bed has its own locker and power socket, and there’s a large common area in which to socialize in. There’s a kitchen to cook and fresh fruit and eggs are provided at breakfast. The staff are also super helpful and can provide information about the surrounding area and things to do nearby. If you want a more “old school” hostel feel, this place is it.

    Beds from 300 MXN ($15 USD), privates from 747 MXN ($39 USD).

    —> Book your stay at Hostel Home!
     

    4. Suites DF Hostel

    the dorm room of the Suites DF Hostel in Mexico City
    Suites DF Hostel is located in the hustle and bustle of downtown near tons of bars, restaurants, and cafés — although it’s still a bit quieter than other hostels so if you want to avoid a party hostel, stay here.

    Overall, the rooms are clean and simple, and the bedsheets have bright, funky designs that brighten up the place. All the dorms have en suite bathrooms, and there is a personal light and power socket for each bed. There are multiple common rooms to hang out in, a cool terrace for relaxing, and free breakfast every morning.

    The hostel also offers a lot of awesome tours to see the sights and meet other people. They also arrange trips to the Teotihuacán Pyramids, the Xochimilco Canals, and lucha libre wrestling matches.

    Beds from 324 MXN ($17 USD), privates from 857 MXN ($45 USD).

    —> Book your stay at Suites DF Hostel!
     

    5. Hostel Amigo Suites Downtown

    the terrace of the Amigo Suites Inn in Mexico City
    This hostel is the place to party. The rooftop terrace and bar go until 5:00 in the morning! After spending your night partying, you can soak in the sunshine in the solarium or swing on one of the hammocks.

    Dorm rooms are small (only 3 or 4 beds per room). You’ll get towels, a personal locker, and an en suite bathroom. The private rooms are pretty spacious, though, with either a double bed or two single beds. There’s also a delicious free vegetarian buffet breakfast and dinner.

    Beds from 229 MXN ($12 USD), privates from 650 MXN ($35 USD).

    —> Book your stay at Hostel Amigo Suites Downtown!

    ***

    Mexico City and the hostel scene here is fast becoming one of the best in the region. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to stay or want to party the nights away, Mexico City will have a hostel for you. The prices are incredibly reasonable too, making it an affordable destination for backpackers and budget travelers alike.

    Book Your Trip to Mexico City: 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 elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

    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!

    Looking for more travel tips for Mexico City?
    Check out my in-depth Mexico City travel guide for more ways to save money, costs, tips on what to see and do, suggested itineraries, reading, packing lists, and much, much more!

    Photo credits: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

    The post My 5 Favorite Hostels in Mexico City appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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    TravelCon: Come attend the biggest travel media event of the year!

    Posted By : webmaster/ 201 0


    Travelcon 2020 in New Orleans, United States
    Posted: 2/5/2020 | February 5th, 2020

    Are you in the travel industry? Want to learn from the best, meet your peers, and make deals with brands?

    For those of you who don’t know, in 2018 we created an event called TravelCon. This three-day conference connects you with industry leaders, influencers, and celebrated writers through keynote speeches, small-group writing and photography workshops, breakout tutorial sessions, networking events, and industry panels.

    At TravelCon, you’ll:

    • Improve your craft in the four major areas of travel: video, photography, writing, and blogging
    • Learn what’s hot, what works, and what doesn’t
    • Keep current on the best practices in digital travel publishing
    • Learn about new products and services
    • Meet destinations and travel brands
    • Network with experts inside the travel industry
    • Learn from experts outside the travel industry
    • Make connections with other travel lovers
    • Have a ton of fun!

    This isn’t just for bloggers — we focus on all sections of the media: photographers, vloggers, podcasters, freelance writers, travel agents, and guidebook authors.

    Think of it as a travel version of the professional development doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, and other industries have!

    Unlike other events, we’re focused on bringing you intermediate- and advanced-level talks and top-tier talent from inside and outside the travel industry, so you can learn the skills needed to advance your career.

    This year’s event is in New Orleans from May 8th to 10th. Since we’re only three months away from TravelCon, it’s time for another update! We’ve been planning a lot in the last few months as we head towards the finish line.

    Schedule

    We’ve released the schedule! Check out it here. We’re focusing a lot more on monetization, Instagram, freelance writing, and succeeding on social media. I’m so excited about the speakers and the talks we have this year. While the times of the talks are subject to change, you can see what you’ll learn at the event. Here are some of the highlights:

    • How to update content so it ranks better
    • How to succeed on Pinterest in 2020
    • How to run small group tours
    • How to become a travel agent and add new revenue to your business
    • How to build a strong online community
    • The micro-influencer: how to succeed as a small fish
    • The law: legal and IP issues you should know!
    • How to get freelance work
    • All the tax stuff you should know!
    • Affiliate Marketing 101
    • Advanced Google Analytics
    • How to improve your UX and design
    • How to write effective sales pages
    • Making money on YouTube
    • LGBTQ freelance writing
    • Two sessions on improving your writing
    • A guide to self-publishing
    • How to hire people the right way
    • How to run Facebook Ad campaigns
    • SEO best practices
    • How to make money on Instagram
    • And so much more!

    All in all, we’re going to have close to 50 sessions to choose from. And don’t worry if you can’t make them all! Included with the ticket is a virtual pass of all the talks. We record every talk and keynote so you can access them after the event to continue to learn!

    Speakers

    Since our last update, we’ve added some new speakers:

    Bani Amor

    Travel Writer

    Cynthia Andrew

    Simply Cyn

    Joey Coleman

    Author, Never Lose a Customer Again

    Adam Groffman

    Travels of Adam

    Mike and Anne Howard

    HoneyTrek

    Benet Wilson

    The Points Guy

    Cal Fussman

    Author

    Erin Sullivan

    Erin outdoors

    For a full list, check out our homepage. We’re going to have 60 incredible speakers from inside and outside the travel industry. Many don’t normally talk at other events so TravelCon is one of the only events you can see them at!

    Workshops and FAMs

    We’ve released our workshop and FAM schedule. This year we’ll be having complimentary FAM trips before and after the event that will allow you to visit New Orleans as well as the surrounding area. You can see a list here, but some highlights include:

    • Demonstration Cooking Class with Crescent City Cooks
    • French Quarter Tour with Historic New Orleans Walking Tours
    • Garden District Food Tour with Fat Tire Tours
    • Glory Days of the Garden District Walking Tour with Ask Arthur
    • Grand Garden District Tour with Two Chicks Walking Tour
    • Harbor Jazz Cruise with Steamboat Natchez
    • French Quarter Ghosts & Legends Tour with Haunted History Tours
    • Cocktail History Tour with Dr. Gumbo

    Check out our sponsors!

    We’ve been signing tons of sponsors for this year. Our exhibit hall is going to be larger than last year and includes brands that have never attended before. During the event, you’ll be able to book meetings with decision-makers, organize campaigns, and make the deals that will grow your business. Some of the sponsors we have this year

    Additionally, though they don’t have their logos up yet, we’re going to have Sony (!!!), TripAdvisor, HostGator, AdThrive, and Moon Travel Guides too! In total, we’re going to have about 40 brands and destinations this year. There’s more to come but, without contracts signed, I don’t want to jinx it!

    ***

    All in all, it’s going to be a fantastic event! We’re going to have an incredible New Orleans–themed opening party with music, performers, and a taste of the new and old New Orleans. We also scoped out venues for our niche meet-ups too.

    If you want to attend the conference, tickets to this year’s TravelCon are $399. They include access to the event, parties, meet-ups, FAMs, lunches, a virtual pass, and more! You can click here to learn more and secure your spot today!

    We’re capping our event at 800 attendees this year. We’re currently over 50% sold out and expect to sell out soon (we’ve sold out every year). With only three months to go, don’t miss out on the biggest travel media conference of the year.

    If you have any questions, leave a comment! See you in NOLA!

    – 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 TravelCon: Come attend the biggest travel media event of the year! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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