December 2020

Tulum is Utterly Terrible.

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A wide beach on a sunny day in Tulum, Mexico
Posted: 12/14/20 | December 14th, 2020

Hell is a town called Tulum. Watched over by Mayan ruins and buttressed by the ocean, this is a place of pothole-filled streets, overpriced taxis, terrible traffic jams, and out-of-touch yuppies, celebrities, influencers, wannabe gurus, COVID deniers, and well-to-do folks looking to “find themselves” in overpriced retreats, hotels, and bars.

It is a town where one can overhear tech deals, talk of the “the China flu,” Instagram algorithms, and an upcoming drum circle within the span of a few minutes.

I came here with very low expectations. I’d heard the stories from my friends, seen all those “influencers” on Instagram gushing profusely, read the articles, and spoke with other travelers.

Tulum was influencers paradise, which likely meant it wasn’t mine.

But I wanted to see what all the hype was really about. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe I was just being a stubborn old goat.

Nope. Tulum was even worse than I had imagined.

A sleepy little town during my last visit in 2011, Tulum is now a mecca for jet-setting millennials, celebs, hippies, and spiritual types. It is a place where they come to do all the things they can do back home — but without the cost, in better weather, and with more international people around.

It’s become another Bali or Goa: a relatively cheap retreat for Westerners who want to drop in, drop out, live in their bubble, eat açaí bowls during the day, and party all night long. Here, in expensive beachside boutique hotels, they eat in Miami-style restaurants while listening to the latest EDM music.

They aren’t in Tulum to experience Mexico. They come here for their little bubble.

I wanted to love Tulum. I kept thinking to myself, “What am I missing? What do they see that I don’t?”

Tulum isn’t all bad: the ruins, set above the beach, are immaculately preserved, there are lots of cenotes (sinkholes) to swim in nearby, the beach is truly world-class, and the food downtown — especially the taco stalls and seafood restaurants — are excellent.

Noamdic Matt posing near ruins on the beach in Tulum, Mexico

And the design of those boutique hotels and restaurants, with their minimalist esthetic and use of wood, plants, and lights, is quite stunning. The “Tulum esthetic” as it is called is actually beautiful.

But the reason Tulum is hell is not because of that but because of the people.

There are just too many tourists behaving badly here, acting as if they weren’t guests in someone else’s country. And it kept rubbing me the wrong way.

Travel is a privilege — and the people who come here don’t seem to appreciate that. Most are simply re-creating their own cultures rather than trying to enjoy Mexican culture.

And, while I did enjoy some of those bougie restaurants and beach bars, I don’t travel in order to just re-create my life back home. I travel to experience a destination. I want to talk to locals who aren’t serving me food, eating a roadside taco stands and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and just trying to get a sense of life here.

Of course, not all travel has to be deep. Sometimes you just want a vacation. Sometimes you just want to jet off to a beach destination and drink from coconuts before going back to “the real world.”

I’m not irked by the ones that come to Tulum for that.

It’s the folks who are here long-term, feigning a deeper spiritual enlightenment and extolling the “magic” of this place, that seem hypocritical to me. They come to Tulum and pretend they are some magical spiritual quest or to work remote. But all they do is stick to their own Westernized bubble.

They then complain about the locals, crime (fueled by their own desire for drugs), and, in the same breath, lament things are changing — even as they’re excited about a new airport and wonder where they can find a Whole Foods–style grocery store. (Yes, in the expat group I joined, someone actually asked that question.)

It’s these folks, the ones who make up the majority of Tulum’s visitors, that made me hate Tulum. Especially, now, during COVID.

A lot of people come here because they know they can escape public health restrictions in their own country. In fact, a lot of the “COVID is a hoax” folks move here, bars are packed, and group events happen all the time. In fact, the week I arrived, Tulum had a festival called Art with Me, which became a superspreader event.

While I think there is a safe way to travel and am not in the “no movement ever” camp, I think it’s just super reckless to pretend COVID doesn’t exist and go about your business. Most of my time was at my Airbnb, around downtown, eating at outdoor restaurants or stalls, and on the beach alone (the public beach is incredible). I got to enjoy the best of Tulum away from the worst of it.

After all, the traveler is a guest in someone’s home and should treat that with respect. To fly to a place, attend events that increase the risk of COVID, act like it doesn’t exist, refuse to wear a mask, and leave the locals to deal with the consequences (or catch it and take it back home) is just a reprehensible thing to do.

***

Clearly, I’m not the yoga/burner/let’s talk about chakras kind of guy. And I have many friends who love Tulum and will go back over and over again. The “scene” in Tulum is simply not for me. There’s too much unsustainable development egged on by people who “care about the environment” but are all too happy to stay in overpriced hotels that have to constantly run generators since the hotel zone has no infrastructure.

Years ago, I said I’d never return to Vietnam. Age and experience have shown me I was wrong to judge Vietnam so harshly on a first visit. Every place deserves a second chance.

But, after seeing what Tulum has become, I doubt I’ll visit Tulum a third time. Maybe if I become super-rich and can avoid those bougie $800-a-night hotels or decide that, actually, drum circles really are for me.

So, dear traveler, if you’re like me and travel to learn about the country you are visiting, an extended visit to Tulum probably isn’t for you. There’s not much of Mexico to be found in the overpriced boutique hotels, shops, retreat centers, or restaurants selling pizza, pad thai, açaí bowls, and juice cleanses.

Come for a quick trip to the ruins, swim in a few cenotes, eat the wonderful street food, dine at the hole in the wall local restaurants, and wander the downtown area.

Then leave and skip the rest with no regrets.

Because the rest is an unsustainable and overdeveloped hell hole of fake influencers, wannabe celebs, and people tearing down paradise.

And it’s not worth your time.

Book Your Trip to Mexico: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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

The post Tulum is Utterly Terrible. appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Patreon News: More Perks, Posts, and Other Updates

Posted By : webmaster/ 139 0


A traveler meet-up for the Nomadic Network
Posted: 12/10/20 | December 10th, 2020

Over the past few years, we’ve worked hard to make sure that our community believes that traveling is attainable. We’ve built a company based on the premise that you can take the trip of your dreams without breaking the bank — and we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of readers do just that.

It’s great reading emails from people who have taken the leap and booked flights that they always dreamed of and traveled to places they always wanted to visit.

Earlier this year — all the way back in the century we call March, when the world shut down and travel stopped — we watched our traffic dwindle down to zero in a matter of days. So we brainstormed ways to continue to serve our community during these uncertain times.

One idea that felt right for us was to create a community-funded Patreon page, a members-only subscription service that allows people to support their favorite artists and online creators.

Keeping the community connected and inspired was an important factor in the creation of our Patreon page. Last November, we launched The Nomadic Network (TNN), a community where people can create local chapters and hold travel-centric events to help each other travel better, cheaper, and longer. Our goal then was to take this amazing online community we have created over the last twelve years and bring it offline, to foster real-world connections and friendships.

But then COVID came. In an effort to keep the travel community alive, connected, and inspired, we started two initiatives: virtual TNN events and a Patreon page. Both aimed at serving our community and boosting our travel spirits during these uncertain times.

Patreon has been a huge success, and, based on your feedback, we’ve recently made some changes, adding in more content, Q&As, and even some cool swag!

Now, as a patron, you’ll get:

  • Monthly live Q&As with me!
  • Travel planning calls with me!
  • Calls with the team
  • Free tickets to TravelCon
  • Access to all our TNN events and virtual replays
  • Autographed books
  • Postcards from me when I’m on the road
  • Private Instagram posts
  • Exclusive personal blog posts I don’t share elsewhere (for example, I’ve written about when I tried boxing in Thailand, shared chapters from my book that didn’t get published, and told some crazy hostel stories, to name a few!)

Moreover, we added the following new perks:

  • Patrons now get early access to certain blog posts and the ability to give feedback and suggestions before they are published on this website. This applies to “thought pieces” where I discuss some ideas I’m working through. In short, you’ll get to help guide the direction of this website!
  • We are now making T-shirts, so you can have a symbol of your membership (and hopefully spot others when you travel).
  • We now offer our weekly TNN webinars as replays that you can watch whenever you have time. We record them all and upload them to Patreon each week. It’s the only place they can be replayed!

And finally, Patreon now allows for annual memberships. If you become a patron now, you’ll get one free month!

You can sign up by clicking here.

While the information on this site will remain free, Patreon allows you to be part of a broader community and have more interactions with our team and community members. It also helps ensure that this website and the community around it will be around for a long time to come.

I started Nomadic Matt with the simple dream of teaching people how to travel. That hasn’t changed. It never will.

But being part of our Patreon gets you exclusive perks, content, and access that will help sustain this community while improving your travels and give you access to events that are patron-only.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

Sincerely,

Nomadic Matt

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. 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:

Need to book your trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. The are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post Patreon News: More Perks, Posts, and Other Updates appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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14 Great Travel Backpacks for Your Next Trip

Posted By : webmaster/ 152 0


A hiker walking on a trail toward snow-capped mountains
Posted: 12/7/2020 | December 7th, 2020

Buying a travel backpack is one of the most important purchases a traveler will make. A backpack isn’t just where you carry your stuff — it’s your home.

Your bag is an important investment. You want one that can handle the abuse that comes with traveling the world on a budget. You’ll be living out of this bag for weeks or months or years. You’ll be hauling it on hikes and across hectic cities, stuffing it onto crowded buses, and flying it around the world.

If you’re like me, you want a bag that lasts. I’ve had my bag for five years (my previous one, before it got lost on a flight, lasted ten), my community manager has had his backpack for seven years, and the director of our charity FLYTE has had hers for eight.

You’ll need a bag that works for you — but what works for you might not necessarily work for someone else. So, before diving into how to pick a backpack for travel, I want to mention the most important features you need to consider as you evaluate my favorites listed below. You want backpack that has:

    • Water-resistant material
    • Lockable zippers
    • An internal frame
    • A padded hip belt & shoulder straps
    • Multiple openings (not just a single top opening)
    • Lots of compartments
    • A contoured/padded back

And be sure your backpack fits your body too. Don’t get one that’s too small or too large as it will hurt your back. Proportionality matters!

To help you save money and stay comfortable as you travel the world, below are my top 14 travel backpack suggestions.

In a rush? Here’s a list of only the best travel backpacks:Best Overall Travel Backpack: REI Flash 45
Best Backpack for Digital Nomads: NOMATIC 40
Best Backpack with Wheels: Kathmandu Hybrid Trolley 50L
Best Backpack for Women (Under 50L): REI Flash 45
Best Backpack for Women (Over 50L): REI Traverse 65
Best Backpack for Men (Under 50L): Osprey Farpoint 40
Best Backpack for Men (Over 50L): REI Traverse 70L

 

The Best Travel Backpacks: Detailed Review

Best Overall
REI Flash 45 Pack

REI Flash 45 Pack

The back paneling on this pack is breathable, and the handy water bottle pocket is located near the front of the hip belt so you never have to take off your backpack to get a drink. The design is great!

SUMMARY:

  • Size: 45-47L
  • Compression technology
  • Movable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible

Check Best Price

While that backpack is my favorite, here are some other packs that you can’t go wrong with either:

Image

Travel Backpack

Details

Men’s Osprey Aether AG 60

  • Size: 57-63L
  • Dual upper side compression straps, lower inside-out compression straps, and dual front compression straps
  • Large front J-zip, detachable daypack, hydration sleeve, plenty of pockets

Men’s Osprey Farpoint 40

  • Size: 38-40L
  • Two front compression straps and two internal compression straps
  • 15-inch laptop sleeve, large zippered panel, padded handles

Women’s Osprey Fairview 40

  • Size: 38-40L
  • Dual front compressions straps
  • Large zippered front panel, pockets, padded handle, laptop sleeve

Women’s Osprey Ariel AG 65

  • Size: 59-65L
  • Dual upper side compression straps, lower inside-out compression straps, dual front compression strapsails
  • Large J-zip at the front, sleeping bag compartment, removable sleeping pad straps, removable daypack

Osprey Atmos AG 65 Pack

  • Size: 62-68L
  • Upper and lower side compression straps
  • Adjustable harness and hip belt, lots of pockets, hydration sleeve, FlapJacket to protect against bad weather

Kathmandu Hybrid Trolley 50L

  • Size: 50L
  • Quick-deploy shoulder harness and padded back panel
  • Converts to wheeled luggage; has inner and outer mesh pockets, and attachment slots for a day pack.

Osprey Porter 46 Travel Pack

  • Size: 46L
  • Padded hip belt, shoulder harness
  • Laptop sleeve, lots of pockets, lockable zippers, padded handles for toting

NOMATIC 40L Travel Bag

  • Size: 40L
  • Padded straps, detachable waist straps
  • RFID protected pocket, cord organizer, laundry bag, laptop and shoe compartments

Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 Anti-Theft Adventure Travel Pack

  • Size: 46L
  • Breathable shoulder and waist straps
  • Built-in rain cover, main compartment accessible through back panel, smart zipper security

Women’s REI Flash 45 Pack

  • Size: 45-47L
  • Compression technology pulls the pack’s load up and inward so that the pack is closer to your center of gravity
  • Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, 3-D contoured hip belt

Women’s REI Traverse 65

  • Size: 61-69L
  • Adjustable padded shoulder straps and hip belt
  • Large zippered front pockets, accessible water bottle pockets, hip belt pocket, hydration compatible, rain cover

REI Traverse 70

  • Size: 66-74L
  • Adjustable padded shoulder straps and hip belt
  • Large zippered front pockets, accessible water bottle pockets, hip belt pocket, hydration compatible, rain cover

Osprey Talon 44

  • Size: 44L
  • Seamless lumbar-to-hipbelt support
  • Breathable back padding, lots of pockets, narrow design, and water resistant material

***A good travel backpack will last years and make all your journeys better, and those on this list are some of the best on the market.

But not every one of these bags will work for you. Some will be too narrow or too wide. Some will be too tall or too short. For that reason, you’ll want to spend some time trying your bag on and making sure it’s comfortable. Choosing the best travel backpack — the one that works for you, even if it’s not on this list — is what’s most important here!

This isn’t just a purchase; this is an investment. Remember, it’s not just a bag: it’s your home.

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

Nomadic Matt's How to Travel the World on $50 a DayMy New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A-to-Z planning guide that the BBC calls “the bible for budget travelers.”

Click here to learn more and start reading it today!

 

 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. 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:

Need to book your trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. The are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post 14 Great Travel Backpacks for Your Next Trip appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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