May 2020

The 13 Best Things to See and Do in Taipei

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Posted: 5/30/2020 | May 30th, 2020

Taipei, the capital of Taiwan and its most populous city, is the epicenter of tourism for the country (though most people just come for a short layover as it’s a major air hub for Asia).

And while there is plenty to do elsewhere in Taiwan, even if you don’t leave Taipei, you can still find lots of things to see and do in the area to fill close to a week!

I love Taipei. I lived here in 2010 while I taught English and built this website. It was a wonderful experience that helped me grow as a person. A decade later, I finally made it back to the city I loved so much and it was remarkable to see that so much of what I loved was still there: the endless gigantic food markets serving some of the best food in the world, a wild nightlife, spacious parks, interesting and quirky museums, and nearby mountains that call to you with easy and accessible hikes.

Taipei (like Taiwan as a whole) is a hugely underrated destination and I can’t urge you enough to visit. It combines culture, nature, wonderful people, and affordability. I don’t understand why more people don’t visit but make their loss, your gain!

To help you plan your trip, here are my top 13 things to do while in Taipei:
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour


One of the first things I do when I arrive in a new destination is to take a free walking tour. They show you the lay of the land and help you see a place’s highlights while learning a little about its history and culture. Plus, you get access to a local who can answer any and all of your questions.

Like It Formosa offers free daily walking tours around Taipei. Their tours focus more on cultural history than their competitor, Tour Me Away, which also offers free walking tours geared towards the backpacker crowd (Tour Me Away also runs pub crawls).
 

2. Visit the National Palace Museum


The National Palace Museum has over 70,000 artifacts from Imperial China, most of which were brought to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War (1929–1947). In addition to the permanent exhibits, there are also rotating exhibits throughout the year as well as a section for children. There are free daily tours in English too. If you can’t get on the tour, get the audio guide. While the descriptions on the artifacts are pretty detailed, the audio tour goes into even more depth and gives you deeper insight into what you are seeing and the time period it is from.

221, Sec 2, Zhi Shan Road, +886 2 2881 2021, npm.gov.tw. Open Sunday–Thursday 8:30am–6:30pm and Friday–Saturday 8:30am–9pm. Admission is 350 NT$ ($11.65 USD) (470 NT$ ($15.65 USD) with an audio guide).
 

3. Soak in the Hot Springs


The Beitou Hot Springs area is a popular destination since it’s on the MRT (metro system) and only 30 minutes from downtown. There are lots of resorts, spas, and inns in the area where you can enjoy a dip in a hot spring. Be sure to also visit the Hot Springs Museum (housed in an old bathhouse from 1913), the Xinbeitou Historic Station (a heritage train station from 1916), and Thermal Valley (a sulfurous lake nearby that has walking trails).

Admission to most hot springs starts around 40 NT$ ($1.33 USD) per person, making it a very affordable getaway for anyone looking for some R&R.

Hot Springs Museum: No. 2, Zhongshan Road, +886 2 2893 9981, hotspringmuseum.taipei. Open daily from 9am-5pm. Admission is free.

Xinbeitou Historic Station: 1 Qixing St., +886 2 2891 5558, xbths.taipei. Open Tuesday-Thursday from 10am-6pm and Friday-Sunday from 10am-8:30pm (closed Mondays). Admission is free.
 

4. Take a Cooking Class


Taiwan is a foodie’s dream! You got noodle soups, incredible rice dishes, amazing buns, dumplings, scallion pancakes, and so much more. The food in the country is world-class. While cooking classes here are a little pricey, they do take you through the local markets and teach you about local ingredients and how to make some traditional dishes. I always found Taiwanese food intimidating so it was nice to have someone help me understand the local food. It made me more adventurous in the night markets.

Some cooking classes worth checking out are:

Expect to pay around 2,000 NT$ ($67 USD) for a class.
 

5. Visit the Museums


Taipei has a lot of museums. Given its size, I was surprised by how many actually they had, especially since the city isn’t known as being a center for museums. Here are some of my favorites:

  • National Taiwan Museum – This is the oldest museum in Taiwan and covers its history from a variety of different scientific perspectives, such as anthropology, earth sciences, zoology, and botany. It’s really basic and best if you go with kids. Admission is 30 NT$ ($1 USD).
  • Miniatures Museum of Taipei – Opened in 1997, this museum is home to over 200 architectural miniatures, including castles, replica towns and streets, and even a 1/12 scale model of Buckingham Palace. It’s a weird museum but pretty cool. Admission is 180 NT$ ($6 USD).
  • Museum of Contemporary Arts – I’m not a fan of contemporary art myself, but if you are, then don’t miss this museum. It has a rotating collection of exhibits, so there is always something new on display. Admission is 50 NT$ ($1.66 USD).
  • Taipei Astronomical Museum – A fun and educational museum with exhibitions on ancient astronomy, technology, telescopes, the solar system, and much more. Admission is 60 NT$ ($2 USD).
  • Taipei Fine Art Museum – Opened in 1983, this was the first art museum in Taiwan. It’s home to a wide variety of works from both international and Taiwanese artists and hosts rotating exhibitions too. Admission is 30 NT$ ($1 USD).
  • National 228 Memorial Museum – This museum is dedicated to the tragic events that began on February 28, 1947, when an uprising against the Chinese government started following World War II. Admission is 20 NT$ ($0.67 USD).

 

6. Go Hiking


Taipei has plenty of hiking trails just outside town that are easily accessible. There are easy, moderate, and challenging trails, as well as both short and full-day hikes. Here are a few worth checking out:

  • Xiangshan Trail – An easy 45-minute hike that offers nice views of Taipei. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the Xiangshan MRT station.
  • Bitoujiao Trail – Located one hour from town by car, this moderate hike takes you along the coast. The trail is in the Ruifeng District 11km east of Jiufen. The hike takes 2-3 hours.
  • Jinmianshan Trail – An easy 1.5-hour hike in Yangmingshan National Park. The trail starts a 10-minute walk from the Xihu MRT station.
  • Huang Didian Trail – A challenging ridge hike that takes around five hours. From Muzha Station, board the bus to Huafan University and get off at Huangdi Temple. From there, the trail is 25 minutes away on foot.
  • Pingxi Crag Trail – A moderate 2-3-hour hike with lots of steep sections. For experienced hikers only. The trail begins just five minutes away from Pingxi station.

 

7. Take a Day Trip to Jiufen


Jiufen is one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist destinations. First, because it’s incorrectly believed to be the origin of the film Spirited Away, so people come for that. Second, it’s famous for being a historic gold-mining town with it’s preserved old streets. And, third, it’s famous for its traditional teahouses.

Jiufen is tiny. You can walk around in about 30 minutes. The center of the city and its historic streets and buildings are all preserved as they looked 100 years ago so walking around here is a cool experience. Be sure to come early (like first thing in the morning) to beat the crowds because, by midday, the streets are wall-to-wall people. If you stay the night, you’ll also get the city to yourself once the crowds leave around 4pm.

As a tea lover, this is one of my favorite places in Taiwan because it’s home to some beautiful teahouses in the most stunning settings. It also overlooks a bay in the distance, and there are lots of lookouts.

Some teahouses not to miss are:

Additionally, there are a few museums highlighting the town’s gold mining past, lots of parks and lookouts, and some nearby hiking trails. (If you want to hike, spend the night as you’ll need the extra time.) Like It Formosa does a free walking tour here too (for this one, you need to sign up in advance because they only do it when people register).

The trip will take around 1-1.5 hours by train and bus. Take the train from Songshan Station (in Taipei) to Ruifang Station. From there you can take a bus straight to Jiufen. Expect to spend around 100 NT$ ($3.33 USD) for your round-trip ticket. There are also tourist buses with organized day trips; these usually cost around 475 NT$ ($16 USD).
 

8. See the Temples


Taipei brilliantly mixes the old and the new. Almost 90% of Taiwan identifies as either Buddhist or Taoist, and that is reflected in Taipei’s temples. Here are some of the most popular and ornate temples:

  • Longshan Temple – Built in 1738, this temple was built to honor the goddess of mercy, Guanyin. There are also statues worshipping 100 other Chinese folk deities here as well. The temple has been damaged or destroyed numerous times by earthquakes or military conflicts, but it is always rebuilt by the locals who still visit and worship at it. No. 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District.
  • Bao-an Temple – Dalongdong Baoan Temple (Bao-an for short) is a Taiwanese folk religion temple and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It dates to the mid-18th century and is home to two dragon columns that are over two centuries old. It looks particularly amazing lit up at night. No. 61, Hami Street, Datong District.
  • Confucius Temple – Located near the Bao-an temple, this simple temple is dedicated to the famous philosopher Confucius, whose teachings are part of the cultural backbone of both Taiwan and mainland China. It’s modeled after the original Confucius Temple in Qufu, the hometown of Confucius in mainland China. No. 275, Dalong Street, Datong District.

 

9. Enjoy the View from Taipei 101


For the best views in Taipei, visit Taipei 101. Opened in 2004, this was the tallest building in the world until 2010 (when the Burj Khalifa took its place). Standing 508m (1,667 feet) tall, it towers over Taipei.

Even though I hate heights, you can’t visit Taipei without seeing it from the top of this building. There is an observation platform on the 89th floor that is absolutely breathtaking. You can also go up to the 91st floor and step outside if you want to really get your blood pumping (don’t worry, there are bars so you can’t fall).

Additionally, go to Morton’s Steakhouse for happy hour. Not only do they have super cheap drink specials but their patio provides some extraordinary views of Taipei 101 itself.

No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, taipei-101.com.tw/en/observatory. Open daily 11am–9pm. Admission is 600 NT$ ($20 USD).
 

10. See the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall


Officially known as Liberty Square, this national monument was built in 1976 in honor of Chiang Kai-shek, former president of the Republic of China. He ruled mainland China from 1928 to 1949, and then in Taiwan from 1949 until his death in 1975.

In addition to his monument, which is over 75m (250 feet) tall, there is also a massive open square where rallies and protests have been held over the years (hence its renaming as Liberty Square). The memorial also houses a library and a museum that documents Chiang Kai-shek’s life and career. It also has exhibits on Taiwan’s history and how the country evolved throughout the years.

No. 21, Zhongshan South Road, Zhongzheng District, +886-2-2343-1100, cksmh.gov.tw. Open daily from 9am-6pm. Admission is free.
 

11. Ride the Maokong Gondola


Take a ride on the Maokong Gondola, which was built in 2007, and get some great views of the city and surrounding forests. The route stretches over 4km (2.5 miles) and includes several stations between the Taipei Zoo and Maokong.

Spend some time exploring Maokong as it was once the prime tea-growing area of Taiwan. There are lots of winding footpaths you can wander, teahouses and cafes (the area still produces a lot of tea), and stunning views of Taipei (especially at night when the city is all lit up). It’s a popular spot on the weekend so visit during the week to avoid the crowds.

Stations at Taipei Zoo (2), Zhinan Temple, and Maokong. Open Monday–Friday 9am–9pm (10pm on Fridays), Saturdays 8:30am–10pm, and Sundays 8:30am–9pm. Tickets start at 70 NT$ ($2.33 USD).
 

12. Explore the Night Markets


Taipei is home to dozens of night markets — and most of them have tons of delicious food stalls. Here are a few worth checking out:

  • Shulin Night Market – This is the biggest night market in Taiwan. Opened in 2017, it is home to over 400 vendors and covers a massive 12 acres. It’s full of delicious (and cheap) street food, as well as clothing, electronics, and all sorts of souvenirs and other goods.
  • Raohe Night Market – The second most popular night market. Be sure to try the black pepper buns while you’re here. There’s also a Michelin-recognized food stall that you shouldn’t miss called Chen Dong Ribs Stewed in Medicinal Herbs.
  • Tonghua Night Market – This night market is popular with locals, as it has a ton of delicious places to eat. It’s essentially a food market more than anything else. Be sure to try the stinky tofu!
  • Snake Alley – Located in the former red-light district, it gets its name from the fact that many tourists used to come here to eat snake meat. While I wouldn’t recommend that, there’s a tasty Michelin-recognized stall that’s worth sampling called Hsiao Wang Steamed Minced Pork with Pickles in Broth.
  • Ningxia Night Market – This is one of the smaller night markets, so it’s easy to explore (though it does get crowded). There are lots of delicious oyster stalls here.

 

13. See the National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall


Sun Yat-sen was a politician, physician, and philosopher, as well as the first president of Taiwan. This memorial was built in 1972 to honor Doctor Sun Yat-sen. He’s considered “the Father of the Nation,” and the memorial hall is home to items from his personal and professional life. He’s one of the few figures beloved in both mainland China and Taiwan, as he was instrumental in the overthrow of China’s last imperial dynasty.

In addition to the hall’s museumesque displays of Sun’s possessions, it also serves as a meeting place, educational center, and cultural center.

No. 505, Section 4, Ren’ai Road, (02) 27588008 #546, yatsen.gov.tw. Open daily 9am–6pm. Admission is free.

***

From the food to museums to natural beauty, Taipei is a world-class city that I don’t think people appreciate enough. It needs to be on people’s radar more. I loved my time living there and coming back to visit just reminded me how marvelous (and affordable) the city is!

Make visiting Taipei a priority. With so much to see and do, you’re guaranteed to have an outstanding visit.

Book Your Trip to Taipei: 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. My favorite places to stay in Taipei are:

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 Taiwan?
For more tips about visiting Taiwan, check out my introduction to Taiwan for more tips on what to see, do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

Photo credit: 1 – Heikki Holstila, 2, 3 – Caitriana Nicholson, 4 – familyfriends754, 6 – Guillaume Paumier, 14 – Ilee_wu

The post The 13 Best Things to See and Do in Taipei appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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What Happens When You Turn Your Hobby Into a Job?

Posted By : webmaster/ 46 0


Nomadic Matt posing for a photo while looking out into the horizon in Madagascar
Posted: 5/28/2020 | May 28th, 2020

There’s a big industry on the web that will show you how you can turn your passion into something that pays your bills. I’m sure you’ve seen the Facebook ads:

“Follow your passion! Make money doing what you love!”

In just a few easy steps, you’ll be able to solve all your life’s problems, find your dream job, and make bazillions!

But you don’t find your passion the way you find change underneath your couch pillow.

No. Instead, you stumble around blindly in the dark, stubbing your toe on a bunch of different things, until you find the light switch you’re looking for. One day, you wake up, turn the right light on, and realize that this is what makes you happy — and you can’t imagine doing anything else.

You find the work you are passionate about through trial and error.

I started this website on a whim. I was 27 years old and I just needed a way to fund my travels. Being a travel writer seemed like a way to do that. This website was to be my online résumé where (maybe) editors would hire me for assignments. There were no grand plans to turn my love of travel into a career. No thoughts of the future. I just wanted to do something that would keep me on the road one day longer.

During those first years, to keep the money coming in, I also taught English in Asia, tried to run online marketing websites, and even played semi-professional poker.

Yet, as time passed, I found myself devoting more and more time to this website. I loved learning how to make it better, finding new ways to help people travel, writing content, figuring out social media and SEO algorithms, and meeting people through it. Many of the bloggers I met in those first days are now some of my closest friends.

I still wake up every day loving what I do and the people I meet.

I was asked recently what happens when you turn your passion into a profession? How does that change your relationship with the thing you love so much?

Well, it changes the relationship a lot.

As the years have passed, travel went from something I wanted to do to something I had to do. The content beast had to be fed. I always had to go out and do stuff to make sure the articles were as updated and accurate as possible. I was no longer just casually blogging about my experience but creating detailed guides.

Time moved quickly until, one day, suddenly, there were also five employees to worry about, health care plans to consider, accountants and taxes to pay, meetings and conventions to attend, ad revenue to secure, conference calls to make, and contracts to read.

There was to be very little traveling on a whim and going with the flow anymore.

This had become a business.

Sometimes it fucking sucks.

Sometimes I wake up and just don’t give a shit.

Sometimes I don’t want to go on a trip just because we need content. Sometimes I’m tired of taking pictures of menus, going to grocery stores to look at prices, and collecting brochures for our guides. Sometimes I don’t want to write another goddamn article or could care less about a brand deal coming through.

Sometimes I want to burn the whole thing down.

On those days, I think fondly about simpler times, when every day was Saturday and my biggest worry was tomorrow’s hangover. When I just enjoyed travel without the pressure of bills and salaries and traffic.

But no job is perfect. There are going to be times when the stress makes you want to scream.

If you’re going to do anything for the long term, you have to be willing to deal with those kinds of days.

Because, when you love what you do, you are willing to eat that shit sandwich. Gleefully.

I’ve been open about how, over the last few years, balancing it all has led to a lot of anxiety and stress, which is part of the reason I’ve slowed down and stopped traveling so much.

And it’s why I believe that when your passion becomes your profession, it is important to take some time for yourself.

You need to release the pressure and stress and enjoy your passion just because you like it and it makes you happy.

That’s why I take some trips I don’t write about.

It’s why I try to get offline and use social media less frequently these days.

It’s why I don’t do big projects (e.g., changing our email funnel) when I’m on the road as much anymore.

Life is a battery that needs to be recharged — and doing something for no other reason than that it makes you happy recharges that battery.

I think this is something a lot of people who “turn their passion into a profession” lose sight of in the beginning. They throw themselves right into the work because their passion is the driving force, without realizing or acknowledging the pressures and stress doing something for money creates.

The days and weeks pile up and they go so far into the weeds that they lose some of that spark that drove them in the beginning. They burn out, become depressed, and lose balance. They see the endless work in front of them and go, “When did it become like this?”

I always tell my students that the work never ends. You’ll never be done. There always will be something more to do no matter how many “passive revenue” streams you set up.

You need balance.

Balance is the key to “turning your passion into a profession” without burning out. Most people I know who end up doing something long enough learn this lesson after too many hours of stress and anxiety (though some never do).

It took me my first eight years to learn that lesson.

There’s nothing I’d rather do in the world than work in travel. I still love waking up and working and helping others change how they see the world.

But I’m also a lot better at creating balance in my life than I was in the past, which is why I don’t get burnt out as much (or think about burning it all down as often anymore).

To sustain your passion as a profession, you have to find balance so you can feed the fire inside you that made you leap into this in the first place.

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.

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 What Happens When You Turn Your Hobby Into a Job? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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My Favorite 6 Hostels in Chicago

Posted By : webmaster/ 42 0


A busy downtown Chicago full of people and traffic
Posted: 5/23/2020 | May 23rd, 2020

Boasting a robust food scene (don’t miss Chicago-style pizza), fun nightlife, and plenty of green space, Chicago is not only one of my favorite cities in the US — it’s one of my favorite cities in the world! While the winters here are harsh, it’s a beautiful, green city in the summer that offers visitors a plethora of things to see and do.

I’ve been visiting Chicago for a decade and have stayed in a lot of hostels here. There are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel. The four most important criteria when picking the best hostel in Chicago are:

  1. Location – Chicago is huge and it can take some time to get around. Pick a place that is central to the sites and nightlife you want to see. All the hostels listed here are in central locations.
  2. Price – In Chicago, you really get what you pay for, so if you go with a really cheap one, you’re probably going to get a hostel that is small, cramped, and doesn’t offer great service.
  3. Amenities – Every hostel in the city offers free Wi-Fi, and most have a free breakfast, but if you want more than that, be sure to do your research to find the hostel that best meets your needs!
  4. Staff – All the hostels listed here have amazing staff! They are super friendly and knowledgeable. Even if you don’t end up staying at one of the places listed below, be sure to look up reviews to ensure you end up somewhere where the staff is helpful and friendly! They can make or break a hostel!

To help you plan your trip, here is my list of the hostels in Chicago that I like the most. If you don’t want to read the longer list below, the following hostels are the best in each category:

Best Hostel for Budget Travelers: HI Chicago
Best Hostel for Families: HI Chicago
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: Freehand Chicago
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: Chicago Getaway Hostel
Best Hostel for Partying: Wrigley Hostel
Best Overall Hostel: HI Chicago

Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in Chicago:

Price Legend (per night)

  • $ = Under $40 USD
  • $$ = $40-50 USD
  • $$$ = Over $50 USD

 

1. HI Chicago (The J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Hostel)

The clean and spacious interior of the HI Chicago hostel
HI Hostels are some of my favorite hostels to stay at because they know exactly what we budget travelers want. Their accommodations are affordable and they have all the amenities we need to enjoy our stay. HI Chicago is no exception. They organize a free walking tour (and other weekly activities such as pub crawls and jazz bar tours), the common areas are spacious, they have a fully-equipped kitchen, the beds are comfy with thick mattresses, and they offer free breakfast. You can walk anywhere in the city within 30 minutes too! It’s an all-around great hostel and my favorite one in Chicago.

HI Chicago at a glance:

  • $
  • Lots of ammenities
  • Social atmosphere makes it easy to meet people
  • Organizes lots of activities

Beds from $32 USD a night, rooms from $85.

—> Book your stay at HI Chicago!
 

2. Wrigley Hostel

The clean and colorful dorm rooms of the Wrigley Hostel in Chicago, USA
This is a lively hostel with a bar on-site, making it a good place to stay for any night owls looking to enjoy the city’s nightlife. They have an outdoor patio with a BBQ so you can grill up burgers when the weather is nice and they organize walking tours and day trips. The dorm beds aren’t great (the mattresses are thin and the beds are squeaky) but the staff are awesome and the free breakfast is delicious. While the shower pressure was weak, the bathrooms were clean which is a fair trade if you ask me! The hostel is also close to public transportation so you can easily get around the city too.

Wrigley Hostel at a glance:

  • $
  • Bar on-site
  • Organizes tours and activities
  • Free breakfast

Beds from $36 USD a night, rooms from $141.

—> Book your stay at Wrigley Hostel!
 

3. Freehand Chicago

The clean and cozy common area of the Freehand Chicago hostel in Chicago, USA
Housed in a historic build from 1927, the hostel is immaculately designed and has tons of character. They have an award-winning cocktail bar on-site which is a fun place to hang out and relax. Freehand is definitely more of a boutique hostel, but it’s worth the price if you feel like treaing yourself. It’s not super social here but the beds are cozy, the water pressure is strong, and the common areas are laid back. It’s the coolest hostel in the city.

Freehand Chicago at a glance:

  • $$
  • Female-only dorms for added privacy and security
  • Cocktail lounge
  • Beautiful interior design

Beds from $45 USD a night, rooms from $173.

—> Book your stay at Freehand Chicago!
 

4. Parthenon Hostel

The clean and cozy common area of the Parthenon Hostel in Chicago, USA
Located in Greektown, Parthenon has a large common room with a huge TV and lots of books, can help you organize tours, and offers free breakfast. In short, it has all the makings of your classic backpacker hostel. There’s a pub right off the lobby as well, which is a good place to hang out and meet other travelers. The dorms aren’t huge and the beds aren’t anything special, but the place is one of the more affordable in the city so you get what you pay for. They have a female-only dorm as well. It’s clean, comfortable, safe, and in a good location.

Parthenon Hostel at a glance:

  • $
  • Female-only dorms for added privacy and security
  • Super comfy beds
  • Great location

Beds from $34 USD a night, rooms from $90.

—> Book your stay at Parthenon Hostel!
 

5. Found Chicago

The common area of the Chicago Getaway Hostel in Chicago, USA
While they have lots of modern ammenities (including a karaoke lounge), the vintage decor and huge collection of 70’s boardgames gives the hostel a very retro feel. It’s clean, quiet, and the beds are really comfortable. There’s laundry facilities on-site and the bathrooms are modern and clean (which is rare for hostels!). It definitely has more of a hotel feel to it, making it a good choice for anyone looking for a quieter, more luxurious stay.

Found Chicago at a glance:

  • $$$
  • Clean and quiet
  • Beautiful vintage interior
  • Really helpful staff

Beds from $63 USD a night, rooms from $294.

—> Book your stay at Found Chicago!
 

6. Chicago Getaway Hostel

The dorm room of the Getaway Hostel in Chicago, USA
While the rooms here are nothing special, the hostel has a big common area and is in a great location. Free breakfast is included and they have a board to let you know what’s happening in the city during your visit. It’s not super social so it’s good choice for travelers looking for something more quiet. Public transportation is closeby so you can easily get around too. Best of all, it’s the cheapest hostel in the city!

Chicago Getaway Hostel at a glance:

  • $
  • Free breakfast
  • Good location
  • Lots of common space

Dorms from $21 USD, rooms from $79 USD per night.

—> Book your stay at Chicago Getaway Hostel!

***

No matter what kind of budget you have you’ll be able to find a hostel that works for you and your travel style.

Book Your Trip to Chicago: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

Photo credit: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

The post My Favorite 6 Hostels in Chicago appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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12 Things to See and Do in Bergen, Norway

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The historic and colorful old buildings of Bergen, Norway in the summer
Posted: 5/25/2020 | May 25th, 2020

Enveloped by steep mountains and sitting next to the country’s deepest and longest fjord, Bergen is a small city tucked away on the west coast of Norway.

Though home to only 220,000 people, there’s a surprising amount of things to see and do in this tiny city. You can easily spend days here hiking its natural surroundings, relaxing on a fjord cruise, eating fresh seafood, and learning about its long history. I stayed about three days during my visit and felt I could have stayed a little longer. It’s pretty, historic, and filled with a lot of good food options.

Bergen is a pretty big tourist destination in Norway so you sadly won’t have this city to yourself. To help you make the most of your trip, here are my top 12 things to see and do in Bergen:
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

The famous and colorful Bryggen district of Bergen, Norway in winter
The first thing I do whenever I arrive in a new place is to do a free walking tour. They’re the best way to get the lay of the land, see the main sights, and meet a local expert of whom I can ask all my questions.

Nordic Freedom Tours organizes regular tours in English and Spanish. (Just make sure to tip your guide at the end!)
 

2. See the Fish Market

The Bergen Fish Market dates back to the 13th century. For centuries, it’s been the hub for local fishermen to sell their fresh fish and seafood. The indoor section of the market began in 2012 and is open year-round (the outdoor market opens on May 1 for the summer).

If you’re looking to sample some local delicacies, there are also lots of restaurants and food stalls. Just make sure you budget yourself, as prices range from 130 NOK ($14 USD) for an appetizer to around 290 NOK ($30 USD) for a main dish.

Torget 5. Open Monday-Thursday from 10am-10pm, Friday-Saturday from 9am-10pm, and Sundays from 11am-10pm.
 

3. Visit the Maritime Museum

Bergen has depended heavily on maritime trade since its inception in the 11th century. You can spend an afternoon at this museum learning about the city’s maritime history. The exhibitions include ships, paintings, films, artifacts, original maps, and some cannons from the 18th century.

The highlight here is the Kvalsund boat, an old Viking longship that dates to the eighth century. It was excavated in 1920. There’s also an original Halsnøy boat that dates back to somewhere between 390 and 535 CE.

Haakon Sheteligs plass 15, +47 55 54 96 00, museumvest.no. Open daily 11am–3pm. Admission is 100 NOK ($10.50 USD). You can take a guided tour of the museum in English during the months of June, July, and August.
 

4. Wander Bryggen

The Bryggen district of Bergen, Norway
Bryggen is the old wharf and is home to over 60 narrow, brightly colored wooden boathouses. From the 14th through the 16th centuries, Bryggen was the main hub for the Hanseatic League, a powerful merchant guild from central and northern Europe. Fun fact: its office is the only original building that’s still standing -the rest have been rebuilt in the same style.

Today, these buildings are used by various restaurants, tourist offices, and hotels. Though fires have ruined a lot of the original buildings, the area is still a beautiful place to wander around. You can take a 90-minute guided walking tour with Bryggen Walking Tour to learn about the history of the wharf. The tour also includes entry to the Bryggen Museum and the Hanseatic Museum.
 

5. Explore the Botanical Garden

Bergen’s Botanical Garden was established in 1996 and covers 17 acres. It’s a nice place to grab some fresh air and relax with a book. With over 5,000 species of plants, it’s home to Norway’s largest collection of roses, as well as the largest collection of rhododendrons in Scandinavia. There are also different sections, like the Sunny Meadow (home to summer annuals), a traditional Japanese garden, and the Alpine Garden, with all kinds of alpine plants from around the world.

Mildevegen 240, +47 55 58 72 50, uib.no/arboretet. The garden is open 24 hours and admission is free.
 

6. Hike Mount Ulriken

A guide marker on Mount Ulriken in Bergen, Norway
Located just a few kilometers outside the city, Mount Ulriken stands 643 meters (2,100 feet) high and is the tallest of the seven mountains near Bergen. If you’re not feeling up for a hike to the top, you can take the cable car, which takes about eight minutes and costs 285 NOK ($30 USD) round trip. At the top, you’ll get spectacular sweeping views of Bergen and the sea. There are some shorter hikes (2-3 hours long) up there as well.

If you enjoy an adrenaline rush, you can speed down the mountain on Norway’s fastest zipline. It opened in 2016 and is 300 meters long. You need to book tickets in advance though. Tickets cost 450 NOK ($47 USD).
 

7. Explore Pepperkakebyen

The gingerbread houses and villages of Pepperkakebyen in Bergen, Norway
The Gingerbread City, open in November and December, is the world’s biggest annual gingerbread festival. It started in 1991 and now includes over 2,000 volunteers, bakers, businesses, and schools. It is made up of hundreds of gingerbread houses and made to resemble a snowy wintry nighttime in Bergen. If you’re here during the holiday season, don’t miss it!

Teatergaten 30-2, +47 55 55 39 39, pepperkakebyen.org. Open from mid-November until December 31. Admission is 100 NOK ($10.50 USD) for adults and free for children under 12.
 

8. Visit KODE

The KODE Museum is one of the largest in Scandinavia for music, contemporary art, furniture, videos, historical artifacts, and crafts. It showcases a wide variety of over 40,000 objects that date back to the 1800s. The museum is located in four buildings; visitors can also visit the homes of three famous Norwegian composers (Edvard Grieg, Harald Sæverud, and Ole Bull).

Head over to KODE 1 to see the Silver Treasure, a permanent exhibition of gold and silver objects, dating from 500 years in the past. For temporary exhibitions and Bergen’s largest art bookstore, check out KODE 2. KODE 3, which opened in 1924, is home to works from Edvard Munch, who painted The Scream.

Rasmus Meyers allé 9, +47 53 00 97 04, kodebergen.no. Open Tuesday–Sunday (hours vary per season). Admission is 140 NOK ($14.70 USD) in the winter and 160 NOK ($16.80 USD) in the summer.
 

9. See Bergenhus Fortress

A traveler explores the historic Bergenhus Fortress in Bergen, Norway
Next to the Bergen Harbor is an imposing stone fort called the Bergenhus Fortress. It dates back to the 1260s and is one of the oldest fortresses in Norway. It encompasses Rosenkrantz Tower, a fortified tower that dates to the 16th century, and Haakon’s Hall, a former royal residence from the 13th century.

Unfortunately, a fire destroyed Haakon’s Hall and all of the interior decorations in 1944, so it is now decorated with tapestries and is mainly used for concerts and banquets. The Rosenkrantz Tower was the residence of Eirik Magnusson, the last king to hold court in Bergen. Make sure you climb the narrow stairs to the top of the tower, where you’ll get an impressive view of the surrounding area.

5003 Bergen, +47 55 54 63 87. Admission is free, though guided tours in English are available June–August and cost 100 NOK ($10.50 USD).

10. Visit the Leprosy Museum

Leprosy ran rampant in Europe between 1850 and 1900. With three leprosy hospitals, the city had the greatest concentration on lepers in all of Europe. This eye-opening museum is located inside of St. George’s. Its archives belong to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. You can take an educational tour to learn about the history, symptoms, and treatment of leprosy, as well as what the conditions were like in the hospitals during the outbreak.

Kong Oscars gate 59, +47 481 62 678. Open May–August. Admission is 100 NOK ($10.50 USD); guided tours in English are 30 NOK ($3 USD) and occur at 11am.
 

11. Go on a Food Tour

Bergen’s strong focus on local and sustainable food helped it earn its title of UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in 2015. Bergen Food Tours is a local tour company that organizes tours to some of the tastiest restaurants in the city. The three-hour Bergen Classic tour costs 870 NOK ($91 USD) and will give you a taste of local dishes like fish soup, wild salmon, reindeer sausage, smoked seafood, and brown cheese, as well as local craft beer.

Nesttunkollen 9, +47 960 44 892, bergenfoodtours.com. Open Monday-Saturday from 11am-5pm. Check website for tour times. Tickets are 890 NOK ($80 USD) per person.
 

12. Take a Fjord Cruise

The beautiful calm waters of Nærøyfjord near Bergen, Norway
This is a spectacular way to view the fjords up close and take a relaxing break from the city. There are several different fjords around Bergen, so you can choose a tour that suits your budget and timing.

The one to Mostraumen run year-round tour and takes you 27 kilometers in the Osterfjord along the Mostraumen strait. You’ll see towering mountains, sparkling waterfalls, and you might even spot seals and eagles!

You can also take a fjord cruise to Nærøyfjord and Sognefjord (Norway’s longest fjord) to get up close to the gorgeous valleys and gigantic peaks.

Expect to pay anywhere from 700 to 2,000 NOK ($73–209 USD) per person.

***

Even though Bergen can be an expensive destination to visit but there are plenty of free and budget-friendly activities here to keep you busy. It’s a popular destination but it lives up to its reputation. I loved my visit to Bergan. I suspect you will too.

Book Your Trip to Bergen: 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 Bergen are:

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 Norway?
Check out my in-depth Norway 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!

Photo credit: 4 – Paul Arps, 5 -Toniu, 6 – Sveter

The post 12 Things to See and Do in Bergen, Norway appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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My 7 Favorite Hostels in Miami

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The sandy beaches of Miami, Florida
Posted: 5/23/2020 | May 23rd, 2020

Miami is a party city. There are just no two ways about it. People come here to get wild, visit nightclubs, lounge on the beach, and drink the nights away. While it’s not a city I particularly love, even I’ll admit they know how to have fun here.

I’ve been visiting Miami for years. There are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel here. The top four when picking the best hostel in Miami are:

  1. Location – Miami is huge and it can take some time to get around. Pick a place that is central to the sites and nightlife you want to see. All the hostels listed here are in central locations.
  2. Price – In Miami, you really get what you pay for, so if you go with a really cheap one, you’re probably going to get a hostel that is small, cramped, and doesn’t offer great service.
  3. Amenities – Every hostel in the city offers free Wi-Fi and many include free breakfast but if you want more than that, be sure to do your research to find the hostel that best meets your needs!
  4. Staff – All the hostels listed here have amazing staff! They are super friendly and knowledgeable. Even if you don’t end up staying at one of the places listed below, be sure to look up reviews to ensure you end up somewhere where the staff is helpful and friendly! They can make or break a hostel!

To help you plan your trip, here is my list of the hostels in Miami that I like the most. If you don’t want to read the longer list below, the following hostels are the best in each category:

Best Hostel for Budget Travelers: SoBe Hostel & Bar
Best Hostel for Families: Generator
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: Rock Hostel
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: Freehand Miami
Best Hostel for Partying: Miami Beach Hostel or Miami Party Hostel
Best Overall Hostel: Generator

Want the specifics of each hostel? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in Miami:

Price Legend (per night)

  • $ = Under $25 USD
  • $$ = $25-35 USD
  • $$$ = Over $35 USD

 

1. Freehand Miami

The Freehand Miami hostel in Miami, USA
For a budget-friendly hostel, Freehand Miami really goes above and beyond. They have a pool, yoga classes, shuttles to Little Havana, and tours to Key West and the Everglades (among other places). It’s an upbeat hostel with two bars on-site and is just 5 minutes from the beach (and 1 mile from Miami’s crazy nightlife). It’s a good choice for travelers who want a social hostel but one that isn’t too wild. Just be sure to bring earplugs as you can sometimes hear the street noise from the city’s late-night revelers.

Freehand at a glance:

  • $
  • Organizes lots of tours and events
  • Easy to meet people
  • Bar and pool

Beds from $25 USD a night, rooms from $128 USD.

—> Book your stay at Freehand Miami!
 

2. Rock Hostel

The cafe/bar of the Rock Hostel in Miami, Florida
Located in the Art Deco district, the Rock is another fun hostel. Breakfast is included and the staff here are super friendly and can help you make the most ou of your visit. They organize tours, tasting events, and day trips (including boating trips if you want to spend a day on the water). They have a bar and restaurant on-site so it’s easy to chill out and meet people and there’s a kitchen available if you want to cook. They even have a shuttle service if you’re coming from the airport.

Rock Hostel at a glance:

  • $
  • Free breakfast
  • Organizes lots of events
  • Female-only dorms

Beds from $17 USD a night.

—> Book your stay at Rock Hostel!
 

3. Generator Miami

The pool and patio of the Generator hostel in Miami, Florida
While Generator is a chain (and some of their hostels in other countries aren’t great), this hostel is amazing. They have a pool, two restaurants, a bar, and are just minutes away from the beach. While it’s a massive hostel (there are 8 floors) and it’s the most expensive hostel in the city, the beds are more comforable than the cheap ones you’ll find at the party hostels and the place is kept clean. They offer bike rentals, private rooms (including rooms for families), and have tons of common areas throught the hostel. It’s not a super social hostel (they don’t organize a lot of events), making it a good choice for anyone looking for time alone or who needs to get work done.

Generator at a glance:

  • $$$
  • Great for families
  • Pool and restaurant
  • Clean and comfy dorms

Beds from $42 USD a night, rooms from $109 USD.

—> Book your stay at Generator!

 

4. Miami Beach International Hostel

The minimalist dorm room of the Miami Beach International Hostel in Miami, Florida
If you’re looking to party, look no further. This hostel offer free drinks, all-day happy hours, keg nights, and more. Both breakfast and dinner are included and the hostel is super budget-friendly too (but you’ll make up for that by buying drinks no doubt). The beds are decent and the dorms are basic, but chances are you’ll be too exhausted (read: drunk) to care. Definitely don’t stay here if you’re not looking to party.

Miami Beach International Hostel at a hlance:

  • $
  • Wild parties
  • Free breakfast and dinner
  • Cheap drinks

Beds from $16 USD a night

—> Book your stay at Miami Beach International Hostel!
 

5. Miami Party Hostel

Bunk beds in a dorm room beside the windo at Miami Party Hostel
The name says it all. Offering wild parties, pub crawls, and a rooftop restaurant and bar (with shisha), this is clearly a place for budget travelers looking to let loose. The beds here are terrible but the showers are decent. The beach is close by and breakfast is included. It’s your classic party hostel so don’t come here looking for a good sleep.

Miami Party Hostel at a glance:

  • $
  • Free breakfast
  • Wild party atmosphere
  • Close to the beach

Beds from $20 USD a night, rooms from $114 USD.

—> Book your stay at Miami Party Hostel!
 

6. Miami Hostel

The common room of the Miami Hostel in Miami, Florida, USA
This hostel is conveniently located near grocery stores, a liquor store, and fast food restuarants — everything a traveler needs! They have a big communal kitchen if you want to cook your own food and organize tours around the region in case you’re looking to explore beyond the city. The common areas are both indoors and outdoors and they have a pool table if you just feel like hanging out. The beds aren’t great but there’s a free shuttle right out front that can take you to the beach. It’s also one of the cheapest places to stay in Miami.

Miami Hostel at a glance:

  • $
  • Organizes tours
  • Lots of ammenities nearby
  • Social atmosphere

Beds from $22 USD a night

—> Book your stay at Miami Hostel!
 

7. SoBe Hostel & Bar

An aerial shot of Miami Beach and its warm, clear water
This is the cheapest hostel in the city. Don’t expect much. But, if you just want a cheap place to crash then this will do the trick. It’s a party hostel with super cheap drinks so expect things to get wild here (everyone also gets free drinks too). Breakfast is included and they have lots of free stuff if you want to hit the beach (free beach chairs, volleyballs and soccer balls, beach mats, beach umbrellas, etc.) The beds suck and the bathrooms aren’t great but it’s a non-stop party!

SoBe Hostel & Bar at a glance:

  • $
  • Super cheap
  • Bar on-site
  • Close to the beach

Beds from $12 USD a night

—> Book your stay at SoBe!

***

While there are other hostels in Miami, there are the best choices in my opinion. Whether you’re looking to party or just want a cheap place to spend the night, you’ll be able to find what you need, save money, and have an amazing visit!

Book Your Trip to Miami: 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 Miami?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Miami with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

Photo credit: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

The post My 7 Favorite Hostels in Miami appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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My 4 Favorite Hostels in Toronto

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An orange sunset over the Toronto skyline in summer
Posted: 5/23/2020 | May 23rd, 2020

Toronto is Canada’s version of New York City. It’s a diverse, multicultural city with a vibrant nightlife, amazing food scene, and tons of fun things to see and do — no matter what season you visit in.

While it may lack the historic charm of Montreal or the natural beauty of Vancouver, Toronto is a massive metropolis that will easily keep you entertained.

However, it can also be an expensive city to visit.

Budget hotels are inconveniently located and Airbnb prices rise every year. Fortunately, the city has a few budget-friendly hostels that will help you save money — money you can spend enjoying the city and all it has to offer!

That said, there are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel. The top four when picking the best hostel in Toronto are:

  1. Location – Toronto is huge and it can take some time to get around. Pick a place that is central to the sites and nightlife you want to see. All the hostels listed here are in central locations.
  2. Price – In Toronto, you really get what you pay for, so if you go with a really cheap one, you’re probably going to get a hostel that is small, cramped, and doesn’t offer great service.
  3. Amenities – Every hostel in the city offers free Wi-Fi, and most have a free breakfast, but if you want more than that, be sure to do your research to find the hostel that best meets your needs!
  4. Staff – All the hostels listed here have amazing staff! They are super friendly and knowledgeable. Even if you don’t end up staying at one of the places listed below, be sure to look up reviews to ensure you end up somewhere where the staff is helpful and friendly! They can make or break a hostel!

Price Legend (per night)

  • $ = Under $40 CAD
  • $$ = $40-50 CAD
  • $$$ = Over $50 CAD

 

1. HI Hostel Toronto

The common area of HI Hostel in Toronto, Canada
HI Hostels are always some of my favorite to stay at because they really get what we travelers need. HI Toronto is in a convenient central location close to everything you need (nightlife, shopping, restaurants, the CN tower, the waterfront, and more). Free breakfast is included, there are private safes for every guest, and they host lots of regular events. It’s a fun hostel and very easy to meet people here as there is a bar on-site that regularly hosts live music.

HI Hostel Toronto at a glance:

  • $$
  • Hosts lots of events
  • Easy to meet people
  • Great central location

Beds from $45 CAD per night, privates from $133 CAD per night.

—> Book your stay at HI Hostel Toronto!
 

2. Two Peas Pod Hostel

The outdoor common area of Two Peas Pod hostel in Toronto, Canada
This hostel has a lot going on for it. On top of hosting events, they also run a store and cafe, providing travelers with a full spectrum of services to ensure their stay is not only fun but convenient. They have a super chill rooftop common area (you can see the CN Tower from it) and they also have a mini movie theater that hosts regular screenings. Their pod beds are super cool too!

Two Peas Pod Hostel at a glance:

  • $$$
  • Hosts lots of events
  • Awesome common areas
  • Super comfy beds

Beds from $59 CAD per night, privates from $159 CAD per night.

—> Book your stay at Two Peas Pod Hostel!
 

3. The Only Backpacker’s Inn

The colorful exterior of The Only Backpacker's Inn in Toronto, Canada
This is your standard chill backpacker hostel. They have a bar (with over 200 beers), a cafe, lot of common areas (including an outdoor patio), and free breakfast. The staff are super friendly and it’s located near the subway so you can easily get around the city and explore. It’s also one of the cheapest hostels in the city.

The Only Backpacker’s Inn at a glance:

  • $
  • Lively social atmosphere makes it easy to meet people
  • Helpful staff
  • Chill outdoor patio

Beds from $37 CAD per night, privates from $95 CAD per night.

—> Book your stay at The Only Backpacker’s Inn!
 

4. The Parkdale Hostellerie

The exterior of The Parkdale Hostellerie in Toronto, Canada
This is the most affordable hostel in the city. There’s no free breakfast (but the money you save makes up for that). There’s a lot of common space as well as a communal kitchen. It’s not that central as the other hostels. It’s also near Vegandale, an up-and-coming vegan area of the city.

The Parkdale Hostellerie at a glance:

  • $
  • Super affordable
  • Social atmosphere
  • Near lots of great restaurants

Beds from $26 CAD per night, privates from $78 CAD per night.

—> Book your stay at The Parkdale Hostellerie!

***

Toronto is a world-class city. The hostels here are especially social and fun, making it easy to meet people and have fun with other travelers. Just make sure you book your stay in advance as there are not many hostels here – and they fill up fast (especially in the busy summer months)!
 

Book Your Trip to Toronto: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: 2, 3, 4, 5

The post My 4 Favorite Hostels in Toronto appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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7 Common Travel Myths That are WRONG

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A solo backpacker standing on a cliff looking at the scenery
Updated: 05/18/20 | May 18th, 2020 (Original post 3/9/15)

Years ago, the website Earth Porm reposted my article “The Ultimate Guide to Traveling When You’re Broke.”

Not long after, social media maven and actor George Takei shared the post with his millions of Facebook fans (as a huge Star Trek geek and sci-fi nerd, I did jump up and down a bit with joy).

As I went through the comments on George’s Facebook post, I was dismayed bt the mean and dismissive comments people shared as well their misconceptions about travel.

These comments made me realize that, despite all the detailed websites and books on how to make travel affordable and accessible, too many people still believe the notion that travel is expensive, unsafe, and impossible unless you are rich.

Too many say, “I can’t. It’s impossible” and become cynical about travel.

The notion that travel is expensive couldn’t be further from the truth (I wrote an entire book proving that very point)

In fact, it’s never been easier or cheaper to travel on a budget.

Yet people still have all kinds of misconceptions about budget travel and staying safe abroad.

To help combat the misinformation out there, I want to debunk 7 of the most common travel myths I’ve encountered over the years.
 

Myth #1: Travel is Expensive

Nomadic backpacking hiker standing at the top of a mountain excited
Everything costs some money — and that includes travel. But the idea that travel is only about fancy tours, beach-side resorts, and luxurious villas is outdated. Traditionally, subtle marketing language made everyone believe that “a fun vacation is an expensive vacation.”

After decades of being bombarded by those insidious ad campaigns, our collective consciousness still equates travel with luxury. Heck, I used to believe this too.

But he fact of the matter is you don’t need a trust fund or a high-paying job to have an amazing trip.

You’ll need to learn how to plan a trip.

You’ll need to save money.

But you don’t need to be rich to travel. You just need to be creative and have the right priorities.

And it can even be done on minimum wage. Sure, it may take longer to save for your trip, and you may need to make sacrifices, but if you want to travel — whether for two weeks or two years — you can find a way to make it happen.

Here are some starting points that can help you lower your costs and travel on a budget:

 

Myth #2: Travel Credit Cards Will Ruin Your Credit Score

Lots and lots of credit cards in a pile
I can’t count the number of free flights and hotel stays I’ve had over the years. By collecting points and miles, I’ve been able to travel for a fraction of the price it would have cost otherwise, opening up tons of possibilities for budget travel.

You can do this too.

Travel hacking is the art of using travel credit cards to collect points and miles that can be then turned into free travel — all by using your regular spending. No extra purchases. No jumping through loopholes. Just earning free travel by putting your date nights, groceries, gas, and other regular expenses on a travel card.

While applying for credit cards will cause a temporary dip in your credit score, that dip gets corrected within two months if you keep paying off your bills. Unless you’re looking to make a huge purchase (like buying a house) in the near future, that minor dip will not affect you. Just space out the applications (if you’re applying for multiple cards) and you won’t see a sustained negative impact on your credit score.

I have over a dozen credit cards (though I only actively use three) and a credit score of 797 out of 850. As long as you pay your card off each month, you don’t need to worry.

I mean what’s the point of building up a credit score if you don’t use it?

Here are some additional resources on credit cards and ravel hacking to help you get started:

 

Myth #3: Couchsurfing is Unsafe

Young woman sleeping on a couch, couchsurfing around the world
Couchsurfing is a sharing economy app that facilitates cultural exchange. Locals offer a free space in their home (sometimes just a couch) which travelers can use to then visit the city and learn about about the destination.

While staying in a stranger’s house might not be for everyone, it’s nevertheless a safe and fun way to travel (not to mention an affordable one). Much like Airbnb, Couchsurfing hosts have reviews and profiles you can read to make sure you’re staying with someone you feel you’d get along with. It’s really not much different than Airbnb (except it’s free!).

Of course, if you’re not ready to stay with a stranger you can also use to app to meet people for activities instead, such as a meal, coffee, or a museum visit. It’s a great way to benefit from the app without having to stay with someone.

As long as you use common sense, read reviews, and trust your gut, you’ll be able to use the app safely while saving money and having fun. There are families who host people, solo female hosts who only host women, as well as expats looking to connect with fellow foreigners.

Both the team and I have used the site dozens and dozens of times. It’s a vibrant community and one that’s completely safe. Because, contrary to what the news and media like to report, not everyone out there is a secret murderer looking for their next victim. Most people are good, kind people just looking to make friends and learn new things. Don’t let fear limit your opportunities.
 

Myth #4: Hitchhiking Will Get You Killed

Funny hitchhiking sign from the USA
Hitchhiking is a relatively common way to travel in many countries around the world. It was also a common (and safe) way to travel the US and Canada for a long while too.

The idea that hitchhiking is dangerous dates back to the 1950s when the FBI lead a scare campaign to get people to stop the practice, in part because civil rights activists were hitchhiking to rallies. The FBI’s campaign permanently embedded in the mind of people that hitchhiking is dangerous by claiming that most hitchhikers were murderers.

Combined with a narrative pushed by the media that the world is unsafe, hitchhiking continues to be perceived as a dangerous activity — even if it’s not.

My friend hitchhiked solo around the US.

Kristin from Be My Travel Muse hitchhiked around China

I’ve hitchhiked in Europe, the Caribbean, and Central America and met wonderful, interesting people in the process.

Hitchhiking, like Couchsurfing, is about using common sense. Make a note of license plates, have a phone in case of an emergency, and travel with a friend if you’re not comfortable going solo. And remember, you don’t have to get into any car that stops. Use your judgment and follow your instincts and you’ll be able to meet lots of interesting people while still staying safe.
 

Myth #5: Travel is Dangerous for Women

Female nomadic traveling the world alone
While both men and women face risks on the road, women often encounter additional hazards that require caution and awareness. But that doesn’t mean women need to stay home or only go to super-safe destinations.

The “if it bleeds, it leads” approach to reporting over the years has highlighted only the negative stories of female travelers. This style of reporting bolsters the perceptions that the world is so scary that solo female travel is very, very unsafe and should be avoided.

Fortunately, that’s not true at all. You have a higher chance of getting hit by a bus than you do of ending up like in the movie Taken.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s an excerpt from a post on women’s safety:

If I look back on the times when people have told me “Don’t go there!” or “You might die!” it’s mostly advice from people who have never been to those places and have never done any research on them. The press is hugely influential. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read international press coverage that is flat-out wrong. You need to find trustworthy sources and advice from people who know what they’re talking about. I once mentioned to my parents that I had plans to go to Rwanda. My concerned father told me, “You’re not going.” He was obviously worried about Rwanda’s tumultuous past. Had he done his research, he would have known that Rwanda is the safest country in East Africa. Once he researched it, I never heard another word about it. The crime rates in your backyard can be just as bad as the destination you’re headed to, if not worse.

These days, there are tons of powerful, independent female creators traveling to all corners of the world — including off-the-beaten-path countries. Heck, many of them are more adventurous than I am!

You can check out their blogs for inspiration and proof women can travel alone:

 

Myth 6: Budget Travel is Only Possible If You are Young and Single

Family traveling the world together and posing in front of mountains
Too many people believe travel is something you can do only if you’re young or single. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I understand that when you are older, you may want more luxury than a budget backpacker. And I know that family travel requires more planning than solo travel. But travel is not solely the purview of the young.

At the end of the day, age doesn’t matter. I’ve seen families and seniors backpacking around the world, staying in hostels, or driving RVs.

You don’t need to be limited by age or your relationship status. Here are some articles that prove both families and seniors can travel on a budget:

 

Myth #7: You Can’t Work Overseas.

Working on a yacht while traveling
We often think of working abroad as an challenging process not worth the effort. It’s something that requires interviews, visas, and a polished résumé.

For the kind of jobs that you’ll get as a traveler, that’s not true.

If you want to work and are flexible about what you’re willing to do, you can find employment almost anywhere. You can get a working holiday in countries like Australia or New Zealand, become an au pair, teach English, or even volunteer in exchange for room and board.

Sure, you might not get a fancy or well-paying job. But if your priority is travel then what does that matter?

Farms, schools, bars, restaurants, cafes, and the tourism industry are almost always looking for staff — especially in areas with a seasonal influx of tourists. You won’t get rich, but you will get to see the world.

If you want to learn more about your options, here are some blog posts to get you started:

***

These travel myths come from years of being indoctrinated with the belief that travel has to be expensive and the world is scary.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

With a little research, you’ll discover that traveling the world is much safer — and much more affordable — than most people think.

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.

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 7 Common Travel Myths That are WRONG appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The 18 Best Things to See and Do in Helsinki

Posted By : webmaster/ 58 0


The historic skyline of Helsinki, Finland
Posted: 05/14/20 | May 14th, 2020

As I landed in Helsinki, I didn’t really know what to expect. Out of all the capital cities in the area, Helsinki gets the least “buzz.” And, while small and not as “cool” as Stockholm or Copenhagen, Helsinki is a hip, modern capital home to a vibrant art and music scene. It’s bursting with museums, cafes, and green space.

I really enjoyed my time here. It’s a very relaxed place to visit.

And, best of all, it sees a fraction of the tourists that cities in the area do too!

Helsinki is a lot cooler than you imagine it to be and it’s a wonderful place for art lovers (Finns are really into the arts). To help you make the most of your visit, here of all the best things to do and see there (at least, according to me):
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

Busy streets of downtown Helsinki, Finland
One of the best things to do when you arrive in a new destination is to take a free walking tour. You’ll get to see the main sights, learn about the history and culture, and have a local expert available to answer all your questions. It’s the first thing I do when I arrive in a new city.

Walking Tours Helsinki offers a free 1.5-2 hour tour that acts as a solid introduction to the city. Just be sure to tip your guides!
 

2. Visit the Post Museum

A museum about the postal service sounds absolutely boring but I found it surprisingly interesting. The museum highlights the history of the mail service in Finland, from ships and sleds in the 1600s to the modern-day service. There are tons of relics, galleries, and short films about how they made mail delivery work in such a sparsely populated and harsh environment.

It does an excellent job taking a boring subject and making it fun, accessible, and educational.

Alaverstaanraitti 5, +358 03 5656 6966, postimuseo.fi. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-6pm. Admission is 13 EUR for adults and 6 EUR for children.
 

3. Relax in Sinebrychoff Park

The green grass and trees of the spacious Sinebrychoff Park in Helsinki, Finland
This small city park used to be the private garden of a Russian businessman. Today, it’s a popular spot for picnics, relaxing, events, and sledding in the winter. There are lots of cafes nearby so grab a snack and come here to lounge and watch the day go by. It’s super popular with the locals in the summer.
 

4. Explore the National Museum of Finland

As a history buff, I always appreciate a good museum. I’ve been to more than my fair share of disappointing and under-funded museums over the years. Fortunately, this was not one of them.

Opened in 1916, the museum covers the history of Finland from the Stone Age to the present. It has a large collection of artifacts, provides lots of detail and creates a chronological narrative, and offers decent descriptions so you always know what you are looking at. For a small capital city, it’s a very, very impressive museum. Don’t miss it!

Mannerheimintie 34, +358 29 5336000, kansallismuseo.fi/en/kansallismuseo. Open daily from 11am-6pm (closed Mondays in the winter). Admission is 14 EUR.
 

5. Wander the Suomenlinna Fortress

The Suomenlinna fortress in Helsinki, Finland
Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage site constructed by Sweden in 1748 on an island just off the coast. Originally named “Sveaborg” (Castle of the Swedes), it was built as a deterrent against Russian expansionism. Eventually, it was renamed to “Suomenlinna” (Castle of Finland) in 1918 when the country gained independence. A visit here is a relaxing way to spend half a day as you can explore the fort, wander the island, or chill in one of the many parks.

There are also a lot of interesting buildings here (including six different museums) and some out-of-the-way beaches.

Admission to the fort is free, though each of the museums has its own admission fee.
 

6. Visit the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art

The exterior of the Kiasma Museum in Helsinki, Finland
I’m not a fan of contemporary art. However, if you are, then be sure to visit. This museum opened in 1990 and is housed in a really unique modern building not far from the Post Museum. The collection consists of over 8,000 works (though I personally don’t recognize any of the names). Part of the Finnish National Gallery, Kiasma is Finnish for “chiasma” which is a term that describes the crossing of nerves or tendons.

Mannerheiminaukio 2, +358 29 450 0501, kiasma.fi/en. Open Tuesday from 10am-6pm, Wednesday-Friday from 10am-8:30pm, Saturdays from 10am-6pm, and Sundays from 10am-5pm. Admission is 15 EUR for adults and 13 EUR for students and seniors. For children under 18, admission is free. Admission is also free on the first Friday of the month.
 

7. See the Finnish Museum of Photography

This museum houses an awesome collection of photography from both Finnish and international artists. There are rotating exhibits as well as exhibits by new and emerging photographers. There’s always something interesting here so check the website to see what’s on display during your visit.

Tallberginkatu 1, +358 9 68663610, valokuvataiteenmuseo.fi. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 11am-6pm (8pm on Wednesdays). Admission is 10 EUR for adults and free for anyone under 18.
 

8. Marvel at the Helsinki Cathedral

The famous Helsinki Cathedral towering over the city in Helsinki, Finland
This cathedral was built in the 19th century as a tribute to Czar Nicholas I. Located next to the Bank Museum, it towers over the city and is one of the most recognizable facets of the capital’s skyline. If you’ve visited a lot of cathedrals won’t likely walk away thinking this is one of the greatest cathedrals in Europe, but I think it’s one of the best in Scandinavia.

Unioninkatu 29, +358 9 23406120, helsinginseurakunnat.fi. Open daily from 9am-6pm. Admission is free.
 


 

9. Stroll Around the Central Market

For souvenir shopping, tasty local food, fresh produce (including lots of berries in the summer), and great people-watching be sure to head to the Central Market. It’s located near the harbor, which sits on the coast of the Baltic Sea. In October, the herring market begins which is a huge local event. The market has heated tents when it gets cold and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes around making it a fun place to visit any time of the year. While it is often swarming with tourists, I heard enough Finnish to know it isn’t a complete tourist trap.

Open daily from 8am-5pm. Admission is free.
 

10. Explore the Sinebrychoff Art Museum

The exterior of the Sinebryhoff Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland
This is the only museum in the city that focuses on older European paintings and portraits (from the 14th-19th centuries). Housed in a building built in 1842, there are around 4,000 items in the collection. Not only are there some incredible and historic works here but part of the museum is composed of the Sinebrychoff residence itself. You can walk through the old Sinebrychoff estate and see what life was like for the affluent in Helsinki in the 19th century.

Bulevardi 40, +358 29 4500460, sinebrychoffintaidemuseo.fi. Open Tuesday-Friday from 11am-6pm (8pm on Wednesdays) and 10am-5pm on weekends. Admission is 15 EUR and free for kids under 18.
 

11. Visit the Bank of Finland Museum

Admittedly, a bank museum sounds even more boring than a post museum but this museum was one of the coolest museums I’ve seen in a long time. First and foremost, it paints a clear and insightful picture of the history of money in Finland. They also host rotating exhibitions on all sorts of related topics (such as counterfeit money). But what I found the museum really did well was to explain the history of modern finance. It makes the topic so clear and concise that I really learned a lot during my visit.

Snellmaninkatu 2, +358 9 1832981, rahamuseo.fi/en.Open Tuesday-Friday from 11am-5pm (12pm-5pm on Wednesdays) and 11am-4pm on the weekend. Admission is free.
 

12. Relax in Esplanade Park

This park, known as Espa to the locals, is a popular place to spend an afternoon when the weather is nice. In the warmer summer months, there are street musicians and performers around as well as lots of green space and benches for anyone looking to lounge with a book or a picnic. Opened in 1818, the park also has some walking and jogging trails too. It’s just a nice place to relax and soak in the city.
 

13. See Uspenski Cathedral

The towering Uspenski Church on a summer day in Helsinki, Finland
This large red cathedral is hard to miss. It’s an Eastern Orthodox church with large domes and gold crosses and definitely has a very Russian feel to it. Consecrated in 1868, it’s actually the largest Eastern Orthodox church in all of Western Europe. The interior is lavishly decorated too, with a large vaulted ceiling and lots of Eastern Orthodox icons (though some of the most famous icons have actually been stolen in recent years).

Kanavakatu 1, +358 9 85646100. Open Tuesday-Friday from 9:30am-7pm, Saturday from 10am-3pm, and Sunday from 12pm-3pm. Closed during ceremonies. Admission is free.
 

14. Take a Food Tour

If you’re a foodie like me, you have to take a food tour. They’re the best way to sample the local delicacies. From fresh fish to craft beer to Finnish porridge, you’ll be able to sample many traditional foods. Heather’s Helsinki offers a tasty tour of the city that lasts 4-5 hours and includes 9 different stops around the city for just 85 EUR per person.
 

15. Visit the Helsinki City Museum

Opened in 1911, this is an excellent city museum with plenty of descriptions and top-notch exhibits and photos. It’s actually the third-best city museum I’ve come across in Europe (after the Amsterdam and Barcelona museums). Do not miss it. You’ll learn a lot about the city and learn about how it has changed and evolved over the centuries.

Aleksanterinkatu 16, +358 9 31036630, helsinginkaupunginmuseo.fi. Open weekdays from 11am-5pm and weekends from 11am-5pm. Admission is free.
 

16. Chill out in Kaivopuisto Park

This huge park is tucked away in the southeast corner of Helsinki. During the winter, tobogganing is popular here. Lots of events held here as well, such as Vappu Day (May 1st) celebrations. The park overflows with thousands of locals who come to picnic, listen to music, and drink away the day. Since it’s so out of the way, you hardly ever see tourists here.
 

17. Hit the Sauna

You can’t visit Finland without going to a sauna. The word itself is Finnish and there are over 3 million in the country (which is a lot since there are only 5.5 million people in Finland). There are plenty of public saunas in Helsinki, most of which ost around 10 EUR and have separate sections for men and women. You can usually rent towels as well, and while going nude is the traditional method there’s no shame in wearing a towel either.

Some of the best saunas in the city are:

 

18. Explore Seurasaari Island

An old wooden house on Seurasaari Island in Helsinki, Finland
This island just north of the city is home to an open-air museum featuring traditional style Finnish buildings. Guided tours are offered daily in the summer and will take you around the buildings and shed light on how Finns lived from the 17th-19th centuries. The museum, which opened in 1909, collected the buildings from all around the country so you aren’t seeing replicas here.

Meilahti, +358 295 33 6912, kansallismuseo.fi/en/seurasaarenulkomuseo. Open from May-September. Check website for specific hours. Admission 8 EUR in May and October and 10 EUR from June-August.

***

Helsinki is a city that deserves more praise than it gets. Fortunately for you, since it often overlooked, you’ll be able to visit without dealing with the crowds that so many other European capitals are plagued with.

 

Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to EuropeMy detailed, 200+ page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guidebooks and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money while backpacking around Europe. You’ll find suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more! Click here to learn more and get started!
 

Book Your Trip to Helsinki: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: 3 – Mahlum, 5 – Tomi Lattu, 7 – Finnish National Gallery, 8 – Antonio Caiazzo, 10 – Olga1969

The post The 18 Best Things to See and Do in Helsinki appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to (Virtually) Travel the World

Posted By : webmaster/ 55 0


A round globe in the foreground of a photo
Posted: 5/11/20 | May 11th, 2020

With the world on hold for the foreseeable, it’s going to be a long time before we get back on the road. Even as we begin to look to the summer, it’s likely that many destinations will keep their doors shut to international travelers until the fall.

But that doesn’t mean we have to put our wanderlust on hold.

With the world at our virtual fingertips, there are plenty of ways to feed your inner traveler from the comfort of your bed.

Many destinations and museums now let you “visit them” virtually. And there are also plenty of amazing books you can read, interesting films and TV shows you can watch, and fun meetups and classes to join.

In short, you can still see the world from home. Here’s a list of ways you can travel virtually and keep your wanderlust spirit alive:
 

Books

a room full to the brim with books
Reading is one of the best and most budget-friendly ways to “travel” when you’re stuck indoors. You can transport yourself to far-flung destinations and get inspired by the power of words — all from the comfort (and safety) of home.

Some great recent reads: The Yellow Envelope, Wanderlust, Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, and An Irreverent Curiosity.

Here are a plethora of articles with more books:

Additionally, if you want some monthly suggestions, check out our monthly book club. Each month you’ll get 3-5 books sent right to your inbox!
 

Movies

A person sitting on a couch watching Netflix
There are many amazing films to choose online right now. I mean between Hulu, HBO, Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+, you can get anything you want. (Netflix has been especially on fire this month.) Some of my favorites:

  • Wild – Based on the novel of the same name, this movie follows Cheryl Strayed as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail as a way to restart her life, end her drug addiction, and cope with her mother’s death.
  • Midnight in Paris – I pretty much love every movie about Paris, but this is one of my all-time favorites. The movie follows Gil, a writer on vacation with his fiancée and her family. At night, he wanders the streets of Paris before stumbling into a time warp that sends him back to the 1920s.
  • The Beach – Staring a young Leonardo DiCaprio, this movie is about young backpackers who set out to find paradise while in Thailand.
  • Lost in Translation – This film takes you into the heart of chaotic Tokyo. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play two characters adrift in the the city together.
  • Into the Wild – Based on a true story, this movie follows Christopher McCandless as he sheds his material life in search of something more.
  • A Map for Saturday – This documentary is the best film about long-term travel.

For more suggestions, here is the complete list of my favorite travel movies and another post on LGBT Travel Movies and one on Africa-related films.

 

TV Shows

A person watching TV from their couch
Looking for some binge-worthy TV? Here are a few suggestions to keep your wanderlust satiated from the comfort of your own couch:

  • An Idiot Abroad – Comedian Ricky Gervais sends his clueless, culturally insensitive friend on hilarious (and often insightful) misadventures.
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – In one of the best travel shows ever made, the late Anthony Bourdain sheds light on new places and cultures as he eats his way around the world.
  • Long Way Round – Actor Ewan McGregor and his best friend travel across the entire world on motorcycles in this epic miniseries (and in Long Way Down they travel from Scotland to South Africa — again, on motorcycles).
  • Departures – Award-winning series chronicling two friends traveling the world together.
  • Dark Tourist – Journalist David Farrier visits some of the world’s weirdest, scariest, and most tragic places.
  • The Amazing Race – A reality TV show in which contestants race around the world for cash prizes (there are over 30 seasons, so it’s great for bingeing!).
  • Big City, Little Budget – My friend Oneika Raymond hosts this show, in which she shares budget tips and hidden gems so you can experience the best of big cities without breaking the bank.
  • Somebody Feed Phil – Phil Rosenthal, the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, travels the world on a comedic culinary journey.

 

Virtual Meetups

The Zoom video conference call app downloading on a smartphone
Since we can’t meet in person right now, we’ve been hosting our own through The Nomadic Network. Every week, we have meetups where we share stories, host guest speakers, and play games. We do about 2-3 a week.

Here are this week’s events:

For future events, click to see what’s coming!
 

Virtual Tours (Museums, Galleries, Historical Sites, etc)

A sphinx statue in the Louvre museum, Paris
It seems every destination or museum is now offering some virtual tour. I’m all for it. While it’s not the same as being there in person, it’s still an enjoyable way to pass the time, get inspired, and learn about the world. Here are some of my favorites:

Free Tours by Foot is also offer a handful of tours from around the globe. They have walking tours, historical videos, and much more. Check out their YouTube page for a comprehensive list!
 

Online Classes

The Masterclass homepage
With so many people home, online courses are seeing a huge surge in activity. In fact, I myself have finally been able to get around to taking some of the courses I’ve bought ages ago. If you’re looking to jump into a new online course, here are a few worth checking out:

  • MasterClass – This program is one of my favorites. I watch a ton of masterclasses. They are mini-courses with some of the most famous and successful people in the world, such as Margaret Atwood, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Martin Scorsese, Gordon Ramsay, Malcolm Gladwell, Alice Waters, Serena Williams, and many others.
  • Superstar Blogging – If you’re looking to start a blog or break into the freelance writing industry, we offer two courses that can help. You’ll get free tech support, weekly calls, and feedback and copyedits on your writing.
  • Udemy – Udemy is an online marketplace with over 100,000 online video courses. You can find courses on pretty much anything here!
  • Skillshare – A project-based marketplace for online courses. Like Udemy, there is lots of variety here.
  • Massimo Bottura’s Kitchen Quarantine – World-class Italian chef Massimo Bottura cooks up a storm in his home kitchen.
  • Pasta-Making Class (with Italian Chefs) from Take Walks – My favorite tour company, Take Walks, shows you how to make delicious pasta at home.
  • Seamus Mullen’s Quarantine Kitchen – Check out Seamus’s daily show for tips on clean and healthy eating.
  • José Andrés’ #RecipesforthePeople – Chef José Andrés is helping the world relearn simple, delicious recipes on his Twitter feed.

***

Learn something new. Or meet some new friends in a virtual meetup. Or just chill out and eat snacks and watch some movies.

We’ll be back on the road again.

But, until we can, at least we can travel the world through our computer.

P.S. – We’ve launched a new Patreon where you can get untold stories, photos, weekly Q&As, and free books. It’s our new member platform. So, if you want more of the content we have here, click here to check it out and get access. Your support helps keep this website going while giving you perks and content exclusive to Patrons!

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.

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 (Virtually) Travel the World appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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