April 2020

Our New Blogging & Writing Masterclasses!

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A laptop on a table with a notebook and a coffee
Posted: 4/8/20 | April 8th, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, being safe and self-isolating at home means we now have a lot of time to learn new skills. Suddenly, the one thing we have is time. I’m finally getting through the online courses I’ve purchased over the years and my friends at Teachable told they’ve seen usage of their platform go through the roof.

This is an excellent time to learn something new.

While we’ve always had courses, we’ve decided to completely change them – and do something completely different than what you see online.

There’s plenty of free information and courses you can take on your own. You can Google anything and watch a YouTube video on any skill.

Information is a commodity.

But information alone is never enough. Education does not happen in a bubble.

Learning new skills is most effective when you get feedback and guidance.

Think of your skills.

The ones you learned best probably involved the help of teachers who used their deeper experience to give you advice and guidance.

Instead of just dumping information in your lap and saying “good luck”, we’ve changed our courses into actual ongoing training classes. While we always provided feedback, we’re taking that up a notch. Now, our courses are now monthly memberships that provide:

  • Tech support for your blog (you break it, we fix it)
  • Edits and feedback on your writing
  • Weekly Q&A office hours (ask us anything)
  • A community forum to network with your coursemates
  • Unlimited email support

What separates our program from the other “blogging courses” you find online is that we’re not just going to give you information, we’re gonna be there to show you how to use it, help you fix any mistakes, provide hands-on feedback and strategy tips so you improve your skills and your business.

This is a class with full access to us.

Our writing course, Superstar Writing, is co-taught by David Farley, a professor of writing at NYU and Columbia University who has been featured in The New York Times, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

This course gets into the nitty-gritty of becoming a better writer. You’ll learn about structure, dialogue, self-editing, and how to craft evocative sensory descriptions that pull your reader in and keep them wanting more.

We’ll help you come up with story ideas, pitches for editors, and book proposals as well as give you sample proposals, emails, and scripts you can use. Plus, we have over a dozen hours of interviews with other expert writers who share their wisdom for you.

And, since writing is not taught in a bubble, David and I will give you feedback and edits on your writing for as long as you’re a member. We’ll read your story, provide notes, and copyedit it until you feel you’re ready to self-edit without us.

Additionally, David will be having online office hours twice a month, where you’ll be able to ask him questions directly.

And, our flagship course, Superstar Blogging, now goes even deeper into online business and marketing. In this course, using plenty of screenshots, I take you behind the scenes of my website and give you all my tips, tricks, and secrets to running a successful blog. I’ll show you how I create products, grow my email list, make money with affiliates, write sales pages, network in and out of travel, get media coverage, and much more. I share our metrics and strategies and take you behind the scenes on what we do.

But, as mentioned, information alone is never enough.

So, with our course, you’ll also get help from my team and me. You’ll get ongoing tech support (our motto is “you break it, we fix it”), weekly Q&As with me (where we’ll go over your problems and troubleshoot anything you need), editing feedback on your blogs, and strategy emails from me.

Moreover, we have a community forum where you can talk to your fellow students, ask questions, network, exchange guest posts, and conduct other collaborations.

My team and I are going to be fully hands-on to help you develop the skills you need to build a successful online business.

Both courses are $49 per month or $450 per year (a 23% discount). You can cancel anytime. No questions asked. And we have a 14 day trial period where you can test out the program risk-free!

And, right now, we’re offing a discount on both courses. You’ll get 50% off your monthly membership (saving $75) or $75 off the price of the yearly membership!

You can sign up for the writing masterclass here or the blogging masterclass here.

Too many courses out there are just content dumps. It’s time for something different.

If you’re ready for a new plan, join our programs. If you want someone to show you how to make sense of the firehose of information online, we’re here to help.

I’ve been writing and running online businesses for twelve years and want to teach you what I’ve learned, so you can get started on the right foot.

See you in class!

And, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments.

– Nomadic Matt

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is 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 Our New Blogging & Writing Masterclasses! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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12 Books to Take You Around the World

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A traveler reading a book while inside a tent
Posted: 04/07/2020 | April 7th, 2020

At a time when we can’t travel the world, the next best thing we can do is pick up a good travel book. As Emily Dickenson said, to shut our eyes is travel. Books transport us to distant lands and cultures. They nourish our wanderlust, entertain us, inform us, and provide us with a reservoir of potential trip ideas.

In short, they’re magic.

I love reading travel books. Without them, there would be places and cultures I’d never have heard of. Travel books have added depth to my travels and helped me develop much more nuanced perspectives of different countries and cultures.
They’ve also inspired me to visit tons of new places all around the globe.

Of course, I love traveling even more than reading but since we can’t do that right now, books are our window out into the world.

If you’re are itching to get your fix but are stuck in lockdown or self-isolation, here are some suggestions to get you started and keep your wanderlust stoked:
 

1. The Atlas of Happiness: The Global Secrets of How to Be Happy, by Helen Russell

Atlas of Happiness by Helen RussellHelen Russell, author of one of my favorite books, The Year of Living Danishly, wrote this comical visual guide that takes readers around the world — from Iceland to New Zealand to Japan to Ireland — in search of the ways that people define and discover happiness in their lives. It’s an informative, well-researched, and a feel-good guide to how the world stays happy — which is especailly important these days!
 

2. Ultimate Journeys for Two: Extraordinary Destinations on Every Continent, by Anne and Mike Howard

Ultimate Journeys for Two by Mike and Anne HowardHaving founded Honeytrek.com, Anne and Mike teamed up with National Geographic to curate these recommendations for intrepid couples. Chapters are organized by type of destination (beaches, mountains, deserts, and so on) to help travelers discover new places and experiences based on their interests.

It’s an amazing resource for finding inspiration and ideas for your own travels (even if you’re a solo traveler). The photos that fill its pages are stunning and will ignite the kind of wanderlust that will keep this on your coffee table for years.
 

3. The Dogs of ’Nam: Stories from the Road and Lessons Learned Abroad, by Christopher K. Oldfield

The Dogs of Nam by Chris OldfieldIn this collection of short stories, our extremely budget-conscious Community Manager, Chris, recounts fumbling his way across the world as a backpacker on a budget. This is not a glamorous tale of luxury travel but rather a true and honest accounting of what it means to be a traveler.

His adventures (including being stalked by a jaguar in Costa Rica and living at a Buddhist monastery in Japan) will entertain you, make you think, and hopefully inspire you to get out there and have some adventures of your own!
 

4. Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea, by Kira Salak

Four Corners by Kira SalakThe British explorer Ivan Champion was the first individual to successfully cross the island of Papua New Guinea in 1927. In this book, author Kira Salak, the first non–Papua New Guinean woman to traverse this relatively untouched country and write about it, details her own epic adventures, experiences, and self-discoveries as she tries to mimic Champion’s epic journey.

It’s a riveting look into the wild jungles of a country that so few have been able to visit firsthand.
 

5. Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana, by Stephanie Elizondo Griest

Around the Bloc by Stephanie GriestThis is the story of a young journalist who travels to Russia, China, and Cuba to witness the effects of communism and explore a world not many of us get to see.

Griest relates her experiences as a volunteer at a children’s shelter in Moscow, a propaganda polisher at the office of the Communist Party’s English-language mouthpiece in Beijing, and a belly dancer among the rumba queens of Havana.
 

6. Rediscovering Travel: A Guide for the Globally Curious, by Seth Kugel

Rediscovering Travel by Seth KugelIn his book, Kugel challenges travelers to reignite our age-old sense of spontaneity (remember traveling without constantly summoning Google Maps, consulting TripAdvisor, and using travel points?).

The stories of his misadventures explain — often hilariously — how to make the most of new digital tools without living and dying by them.
 
 

7. My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile, by Isabel Allende

My Invented Country by Isabel AllendeAllende is best known for some of her more famous works, such as The House of Spirits and The Japanese Lover. But in this memoir, she explores her personal journey living in numerous countries and her complex emotions toward her Chilean homeland.

The book paints a vivid, nostalgic picture of the world from which is is from. Sometimes funny, sometimes sorrowful, its insight and realism are what make this a captivating read.
 

8. Misadventure Is Better, by David Campbell

Misadventure is Better by David Campbell“If it isn’t a good time, it’s usually a good story.” That’s the backbone of this hilarious tale. Campbell, born to an American father and French mother, has been confused about where he belongs since day one.

After graduating from college, he decided to go abroad for a while to figure things out. He worked as a cycling tour guide in Europe, enrolled in the Peace Corps in Senegal, earned a master’s degree in New Zealand, went back to Senegal for his thesis research, and then returned to New Zealand.
 

9. Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents, by Elisabeth Eaves

Wanderlust by Elisabeth EavesWritten by Elisabeth Eaves, this book follows her journeys around the world as she satiates her wanderlust and learns about herself. It started off slow but I really loved the writing here. It really drew you in and left you inspired. The book follows her from being a student studying a broad to being a backpacker around the world to living in Pakistan and Australia. Along the way she comes to peace with the wanderlust inside her and figures out how to balance being a nomad and someone with roots.
 

10. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford

Genghis Khan by Jack Weatherford book coverI never knew much about Genghis Kahn so when this was recommended to me, I thought why not. It was a surprisingly pageturner. This was not some dry history book filled with footnotes but a vividly told story about Kahn and his descendants. Most history books miss the “story” part but not this one. It has an arch, vivid imagery, and incredible characters. And it fills you in a lot on the Mongolian empire. Who knew they had a central bank, universal education, paper money, didn’t torture, or had religious freedom?
 

11. Ten Years a Nomad: A Traveler’s Journey Home, by me!

Ten Years a Nomad by Matt KepnesThis is a memoir about my ten years traveling and backpacking the world, my philosophy on travel, and the lessons I learned that can help you travel better. It takes you on a trip around the world from start to finish: getting the travel bug, planning, setting off, the highs and lows, the friends made, what happens when you come back — and the lessons and advice that result from all that.

It is my opus on travel.
 

12. How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, by me!

How to Travel the World on $50 a day book coverOkay, I know I include this book in every list, but it’s awesome, so you should read it! This New York Times best-seller, called “the bible for budget travelers” by the BBC, will teach how to master the art of travel so you can save money, get off the beaten path, and have a more local, richer travel experience, no matter where you’re going. It will help you plan for the trip you can take when the world starts again and we can all leave our house.

And it will help you score the budget deals that will make that trip even more affordable too!

***

In these times when we can’t travel with our bodies, we can still travel with our minds. These books will help fill your days and recharge your wanderlust battery for when you can finally traverse the world again.

If you have any suggestions that I can add to this list, leave them in the comments!

P.S. – We’ve launched a new members-only community on Patreon! Members get insider access to events, photos and stories I’ve told before, exclusive content, bonus social media posts, phone calls with me and the team, live Q&As, postcards, and much more! Click here to learn more!

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 12 Books to Take You Around the World appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to Be a Travel Hacker in Canada

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Posted: 4/2/2020 | April 2nd, 2020

Travel hacking is one of the best ways to lower your travel costs. Flights, accommodation represent two of the biggest expenses travelers face so getting those to zero allows you to travel more for less. When money isn’t a worry, the world is your oyster.

While I have tons of travel hacking resources on this website for U.S. travelers, I get a lot of questions from Canadians about whether they can take advantage of travel hacking too. And the answer is always yes!

While the U.S. has the most deals and opportunities, Canada isn’t too far behind and is the second biggest points market in the world.

To help you understand the Canadian travel hacking world, I reached out to my friend and fellow travel blogger Ricky Zhang from Prince of Travel. In this interview, he shares his tips and tricks.

Nomadic Matt: Hey Ricky! Thanks for doing this! To begin, tell us about yourself.
Ricky: I’m based out of Montreal and Toronto, and I’ve always loved to travel and get the best bang for my buck when doing so. For the past few years, I’ve run the Prince of Travel website, which is dedicated to helping my fellow Canadians maximize their frequent flyer miles and credit card points to travel the world at a fraction of the price.

How did you get into travel hacking?
I first became interested in points and loyalty programs back in 2013. As a university student in Canada, I was making frequent trips back home to China to visit my family and I was trying to figure out how I could get airport lounge access.

It turns out that there was a little-known opportunity to earn top-tier Star Alliance Gold status very easily with the loyalty program of Aegean Airlines, the Greek national airline. I figured out that I could simply credit the miles from one or two of my round-trip flights to Aegean and I’d end up with Star Alliance Gold, which would get me the lounge access I wanted.

That led me to the online blogs and forums, where I quickly learned that credit card points — and specifically the signup bonuses — was the key to racking up the points and funding many trips around the world (often in business class or First Class) at a fraction of the price.

From there, I was hooked and I’ve just continued honing my craft over the years!

The U.S. is known for its awesome travel credit cards. How does Canada compare?
Many outside observers would probably guess that the Canadian travel credit card market is less lucrative than the US and, while that’s true in some ways, there are also ways in which Canada is the more favorable place to be.

The US has a wider range of travel credit cards, provides access to a greater number of airline and hotel programs, and also gives consumers larger quantities of signup bonuses (for example, 100,000-point bonuses are a regular occurrence whereas, in Canada, the single-highest signup bonus is 75,000 points).

However, the US credit card issuers are also stricter about limiting the number of signup bonuses that a single individual can obtain (or imposing limits on how often you can obtain them), whereas the Canadian issuers haven’t imposed such limits, making Canada much more favorable in terms of earning the signup bonuses repeatedly.

Almost all the cards in Canada let you double- or triple-dip on the bonus (although the terms and conditions may not always say so). It’s easy for issuers to update their terms and conditions to say that you’re only eligible for a once-in-a-lifetime bonus, but much more challenging for them to actually enforce that from an IT perspective.

In addition, there are ways for Canadians to apply for US credit cards as well, thus letting us play the game on both sides of the border!

Really? How can Canadians get a U.S. travel credit card?
Well, to do that, you need three things:

  • A US address
  • A US bank account
  • A social security number (or something equivalent)

The address is easy. Just use a friend or family member’s address, or a mail-forwarding service. The bank account is also easy. Just use the cross-border banking service of your favorite Canadian bank to set up a US domiciled bank account with your US address listed on it.

The social security number part is tricky. You can’t just get one unless you actually study or work in the US. Instead, you can get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which is an equivalent number that many issuers also accept in place of an SSN.

Any foreign resident can get apply for an ITIN from the IRS if they show that they’ve earned income in the US (for example, if you’ve earned $5 gambling in Vegas) but need to be exempt from withholding taxes on that income as a foreign resident. Once you have your ITIN, you can use that in place of the SSN on US credit card applications – and voilà!

What are some of the best credit cards in Canada right now?
The single-highest signup bonus one can obtain in Canada is the American Express Business Platinum Card, which gives you 75,000 Membership Rewards points upon spending $7,000 (CAD) in the first three months.

This card is also very valuable for its referral bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points, which you earn simply for referring a friend or family member to a card of their own, and can add up very quickly after just a handful of referrals. Then you’ve also got the unlimited Priority Pass lounge access and the Marriott Gold Elite status perks as well.

However, the Business Platinum does come with an annual fee of $499. For those who are more interested in First Year Free offers to minimize their out-of-pocket cost, I’d recommend the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, which is offering 30,000 Aeroplan miles + First Year Free.

Moreover, RBC Avion points can be very valuable due to how flexible they are, so in that regard the RBC Visa Infinite Avion is another great card to pick up, offering 15,000 Avion points at signup.

In most cases, you don’t need to be a small business owner in the traditional sense to get a business card. Instead, you apply as a “sole proprietor”, which is a form of doing business in which you operate under your own name. Just enter your own name as the business name and apply, and most issuers are happy with it.

And what about debit cards? When it comes to avoiding ATM fees abroad?
The frontrunner in this regard is the Stack Prepaid MasterCard, which does not impose any foreign transaction fees on foreign ATM withdrawals. Stack is free to apply for and to load funds, and only charges you the fair currency exchange rate when you withdraw money at a foreign ATM (although the local ATM fee may still be charged). It’s my go-to method for withdrawing cash while I’m traveling.

Are there any ways to manufacture spending in Canada to earn more points?
At any given moment, there are always a handful of manufactured spending methods floating around in Canada, although they tend not to be discussed publicly out of a fear that they might end if they were too widely circulated.

The best way to learn about manufactured spending methods would be to attend in-person events with fellow Miles & Points enthusiasts. I host one or two of these events every year and there are always other informal meets going on in every Canadian city as well.

What tips do you have for new travel hackers in Canada?
There’s always a ton of reading and scouring online blogs and forums at the start of the learning curve, but the best way to actually get started would be to think about one or two places you’d like to go over the next year (which places, what time of year, how many passengers, what class of service, etc.), then research specifically the best ways to make that trip happen using points, and then put together a strategy for earning those points using credit card signup bonuses.

Having this strategy in place will allow you to learn the ropes and reap rewards much faster than if you simply opened credit cards left, right, and center without a clear goal in mind.

Besides that, try to make it out to an in-person event or meetup at some point so that you can get to know other members of the community — that’ll accelerate your learning process by leaps and bounds. You can learn about them from some of the following groups/websites:

I try to host in-person events for Prince of Travel readers about twice a year, and I’m also looking to host a larger-scale PointsCon event sometime later this year, so stay tuned for details on that one.

Otherwise, the Prince of Travel Elites community regularly hosts small informal gatherings, which are known as “Miles & Pints”, in cities all across Canada, so make sure to join the group and keep an eye out for the next event in your area!

Where can people find you online/on social media to learn more?
I can be found sharing Miles & Points knowledge, industry news and analysis, travel tips, and reviews from my own trips every day at princeoftravel.com and sharing weekly videos on my YouTube channel. Also follow me on Instagram, where I post the highlights from my travels, and get to know the rest of the community on my Prince of Travel Elites group on 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 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 How to Be a Travel Hacker in Canada appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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