June 2021

Road Tripping New England: My Suggested Itinerary

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An old lighthouse on the coast of Maine, USA
Posted: 6/17/2021 | June 17th, 2021

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The United States is made for road trips. With bustling cities, rugged national parks, and delicious eats, the sheer size and diversity of this country never cease to amaze me.

I’ve road-tripped the USA five times, spending a cumulative year exploring its cities, towns, and parks. To me, a road trip is the best way to explore the U.S. because, by driving the back roads and getting out of the cities, you really get to see the diversity and natural beauty of the country.

One region in particular that I love to drive around is New England.

Having grown up in Boston and gone to college in Western Massachusetts, I’ve spent a lot of my life in this part of the country. Last summer, I spent even more time there, exploring parts of Maine, Cape Cod, and upstate New York that I had never seen before.

And yeah, I’m biased because I grew up here, but I really do think New England is one of the most special areas of the country. It offers delicious seafood, friendly and welcoming people, incredible natural beauty, charm, and plenty of history.

And, given the fact the region is relatively small, it’s easy to get around so you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.

If you’re thinking of visiting, here’s a suggested road trip around New England to help you get a feel for the region:
 

Days 1-3: Boston, MA

The summer skyline of Boston, Massachusetts
Kick things off in Boston, whose old colonial buildings testify to its historic roots. I grew up in this city and, even with all my world travels, it remains one of my favorites. Though one of the biggest cities in America, it has more of a “large-town” feel to it than that of bustling metropolis. Here, you’ll find friendly locals, die-hard sports fans, lively bars, world-class restaurants, and a ton of American history to keep you busy.

These are some of my favorite things to do in Boston:

  • Walk the Freedom Trail – This 2.5-mile (4km) route takes you through colonial Boston. Starting in the Boston Common and winding past Faneuil Hall, the Old State House, and Bunker Hill, this historical walk teaches you about life in colonial and revolutionary times. The tourism board also offers guided tours (though they are suspended right now due to COVID).
  • See the Museum of Fine Arts – This museum has over 450,000 pieces of fine art, from the pre-Columbian era to Italian Impressionism. It’s one of the best collections in the country.
  • Visit Bunker Hill Monument – The Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 was one of the first major clashes of the Revolutionary War. While the British won, the Americans wore British forces down more than was expected. The monument stands 221 feet tall; you can climb to the top to enjoy the view (it’s the best view of Boston).
  • Lounge in Boston Common – This is the oldest city park in the U.S., dating to 1634. It was once used as communal pastureland by Puritan settlers (they also executed some “witches” here as well). Today, it’s a great place to relax, people-watch, and picnic.
  • Visit Harvard – Harvard University is the first and oldest university in the country (founded in 1636, predating even the United States). The campus offers free one-hour tours through the grounds and buildings. Afterward, grab a coffee and people-watch in the alternative and artsy Harvard Square.
  • Catch a game at Fenway Park – This is one of the oldest baseball parks in the country (it opened in 1912). Bostonians are die-hard Sox fans so even if you don’t like baseball, go for the cultural experience. Tickets start around $20 USD for standing room or bleacher seats, and $31 USD for the grandstand. Guided tours of the stadium are offered year-round as well; they last one hour and cost $21 USD per person.

For more suggestions on what to do in the city (and there’s plenty), check out my free guide to Boston.

Where to Stay

  • HI Boston – This is my favorite hostel in the city. It’s clean, spacious, and social, and the staff are super friendly and helpful.

For more suggestions, here is my list of the best places to stay in Boston.
 

Days 4-5: Portland, ME

An iconic lighthouse in Portland, Maine, USA
Located two hours from Boston, Portland, Maine is your next stop. Due to its robust brewery scene, a historic downtown, lots of great seafood, and nearby coastal parks and lighthouses, I’m a huge fan of the city. I really got to explore it last summer for the first time since college and it’s just a great place to spend a couple of days. Some must-see things to do:

  • Visit Peaks Island – This small island is home to around a thousand people. Located just 20 minutes off the coast, it’s a laid-back place to eat, lounge, and check out the quaint shops. There’s also a small World War II museum here, as well as a neat umbrella cover museum (it’s more interesting than it sounds!).
  • Try a Holy Donut – Holy Donuts are made from Maine potatoes (which sounds weird, but they are incredibly tasty), so they are at least somewhat healthier than your standard donut. There’s always a line, so try to get there early!
  • See the lighthouses – There are several historic lighthouses worth seeing nearby, including the Portland Breakwater (which was designed to look like a Greek monument), Spring Point Ledge (which was built in 1897 and is open for tours), and Portland Head Light (which was built in 1791).
  • Wander Victoria Mansion – This ornate mansion-turned-museum, built in 1860 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971, boasts a brownstone exterior and elaborate interior furnishings. It’s incredibly lavish, shedding light on what life was like for the well-to-do in the late 19th century. Admission is $15 USD.

While you’re in Portland, be sure to check out some of the city’s best restaurants, including Duckfat (get the fries), Eventide (best oysters in the city), and Bite into Maine (best lobster roll in the city). For drinks, head to Rising Tide Brewery.

Where to Stay

  • Black Elephant Hostel – This hostel has a cool, colorful interior and social atmosphere, and is perfectly located near lots of restaurants and shopping.

 

Days 6-8: Bar Harbor, ME

Bright blue skies in Acadia National Park in Maine
Just three hours north of Portland, Bar Harbor is the largest town near Acadia National Park, whose pristine stretch of 50,000 acres is home to Cadillac Mountain, the largest mountain on the Atlantic coast. With just over 5,000 people, Bar Harbor sees a massive influx of people every summer, so be sure to plan ahead and hit the park early while you’re here.

Moreover, on the way up from Portland, take Route 1 and stop for food along the way in any one of numerous historic fishing towns. If you like oysters, stop at Glidden Point Oyster Farm.

Here are some things to see and do in and near Bar Harbor:

  • Explore Acadia National Park – This gorgeous national park covers forests, lakes, mountains, and a large swath of the Atlantic coastline. It’s incredibly popular in the summer for hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, and more. You could easily spend a couple of days just exploring the park. Camping starts at $22 USD per night.
  • Visit Abbe Museum – This museum showcases the area’s indigenous history and culture. It’s very informative and sheds important light on a history often overlooked. It’s part of the Smithsonian, so you know it’s going to be good!

Like the rest of Maine, Bar Harbor has some wonderful places to eat. My favorites were the Traveling Lobster (best lobster roll in the area), Havana (upscale dining), and Rosalie’s (delicious food all around).

Where to Stay

  • Bar Harbor Manor – This is a cozy hotel right outside Acadia National Park with lots of outdoor space to relax in, free Wi-Fi, and an indoor parlor with a fireplace.

 

Days 9: Bangor, ME

The exterior of Stephen King's house in Maine
Bangor is just one hour away from Bar Harbor. It’s a small city (just 32,000 people call Bangor home) but it’s a cute little town worth a night. There are a bunch of parks and breweries in town and you can see Stephen King’s house (he lives in Bangor).

My favorite places to eat are the Fiddlehead (delicious food all around) and Judy’s (best diner breakfast). For a drink, head to Mason’s Brewing.

Where to Stay
Bangor is a small town, so you’ll want to compare prices on Booking.com and Airbnb to see what best suits your budget.
 

Days 10-12: Moosehead Lake, ME

The calm waters of Moosehead Lake in Maine, USA
Moosehead Lake is just 2.5 hours north of Bangor. It’s the second-largest lake in New England and the largest in the state. Spanning over 75,000 acres, it’s perfect for fishing, boating, hiking, and relaxing. You can rent a boat or jet-ski, camp, or stay at one of the lodges.

Spend a couple days here relaxing away from the crowds, hiking the plethora of trails, spotting moose, or taking part in all the lake activities on offer.

For dinner or drinks, head to the Stress Free Moose Pub in Greenville.

Where to Stay

  • Leisure Life – This accommodation is basic, but it’s in a great location (in Greenville), and the staff are super helpful.

 

Days 13-14: Mount Washington, NH

Mount Washington, New Hampshire as seen from the distance at sunset
Mount Washington is just over 4 hours southwest of Greenville. It’s in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains and is the highest peak in the Northeast. While you can hike to the top if you’re experienced (it’s known as the most dangerous small mountain in the world), you can also take a train to the summit, where there is an observation building.

Some of the best day hikes up the mountain are Tuckerman Ravine Trail (4.2 miles, strenuous), Lion’s Head Trail (4.2 miles, strenuous), and Jewell Trail (5.2 miles, moderate).

Where to Stay
You can stay in nearby Gorham or Littleton.
 

Days 15-17: Burlington, VT

The skyline of Burlington, Vermont as seen from over the lake
Located in northwest Vermont, around 4 hours from Mount Washington, Burlington is the largest city in the state. With just 42,000 people, it feels like a small town than major city. And, sitting on the shores of Lake Champlain, Burlington has a lot for outdoor enthusiasts so try to come when the weather is nice!

Some of my favorite things to do here are:

  • Wander Church Street – This pedestrian-only thoroughfare is the heart of the city. Café-hop, browse the bookstores and other shops, and take in the slow pace of life.
  • Get out on the water – Spend some time out on the water and soak up the sun. Boat rentals, cruises, paddle boarding, kayaking — you can do it all here. There are also several beaches you can lounge on, with North Beach being the most popular.
  • Visit Ben & Jerry’s – This is where the global ice cream brand originated. If you have more time, you can visit the nearby factory in Waterbury and see the “ice cream graveyard,” where Ben & Jerry’s commemorates its obsolete flavors.
  • Indulge in craft beer – Burlington is a craft beer mecca, home to over a dozen breweries. Go bar- or brewery-hopping to taste the best the city has to offer. Local favorites include Foam Brewers, Zero Gravity, Fiddlehead Brewing Company, and the Burlington Beer Company.

Where to Stay
There are no hostels here, so compare prices on Booking.com and Airbnb to see what best suits your budget.
 

Days 18-19: Green Mountain National Forest, VT

A solo traveler hiking in the Green Mountain National Forest
Spanning almost 400,000 acres, the Green Mountain National Forest is a gorgeous landscape home to all kinds of wildlife, including bears, moose, coyotes, beavers, deer, and more. Established in 1932, it’s a beautiful place for a day hike or multiday trip (parts of the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trial can also be found here).

Highlights include Thundering Falls (a 140-foot waterfall), the Long Trail (a 272-mile hike and the oldest long-distance trail in the country), and the panoramic view from the 4,000-foot Camel Hump summit.

Since it’s a national forest, camping here is free (unless signs advise otherwise).
 

Days 20-22: The Berkshires, MA

An old hiking sign in the forest near Mount Greylock in The Berkshires
Two hours south of the Green Mountain National Forest are the Berkshires. This mountain range in western Massachusetts is dotted with small villages and charming towns. It’s a popular vacation destination for hiking, skiing, and autumn drives to see the changing foliage. The region has something for everyone and is a perfect spot for anyone looking for outdoor activities or a romantic getaway. There are lots of summer and fall markets here too.

Here are some things to see and do:

  • Hike Mount Greylock – Standing 3,491 feet tall and located in a state park encompassing over 12,000 acres, Mount Greylock is the highest peak in Massachusetts. There are several trails that lead to the summit (including a portion of the Appalachian Trail). The hike takes around 90 minutes, and the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking — you can see for miles!
  • Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum – Norman Rockwell, the prolific American painter and illustrator, spent much of his life in Stockbridge. A museum was established there to showcase his life and works, highlighting the evolution and impact of his art. Admission is $20 USD.
  • Explore Natural Bridge State Park – Located in North Adams, this park is home to a natural bridge of white marble (which is over 550 million years old) as well as an old marble quarry. There’s an easy trail around the bridge and quarry, and plenty of relaxing fields and meadows to picnic in. Parking is $20 USD for out-of-state residents.

Where to Stay
There are no hostels here, so compare prices on Booking.com and Airbnb to see what best suits your budget.
 

Day 23: Amherst, MA

An aerial view of the UMass campus in Amherst, Massachusetts
Amherst is a vibrant college town and the hub of the Five College Consortium. In fact, I went to school at the nearby UMass campus. Spend a night here and enjoy the town’s cafés, bookstores, and restaurants.

Be sure to tour the Emily Dickinson Museum, which commemorates the poet (she was born in Amherst in 1830). The house where she was born and grew up, now converted into a museum, includes artwork, artifacts, clothing, and poetry from Dickinson’s life. There are often events and poetry readings here, so check the website to see what’s on during your visit. Guided tours last 60 minutes and cost $15 USD.

As for food, Antonio’s Pizza is a must (they have some really inventive toppings). I ate a lot of it during college! I’m also a big fan of Black Sheep for sandwiches and House of Teriyaki for Japanese food.

Where to Stay
There are no hostels here, so compare prices on Booking.com and Airbnb to see what best suits your budget.
 

Day 24: Back to Boston

It’s just a short two-hour drive back to Boston, so feel free to stop along the way to stretch your legs. There’s plenty of places to stop along the way or just do more things in Boston!
 

Bonus Destination: Cape Cod, MA

A purple sunset on the beaches of Cape Cod, USA
If you have more time, head to Cape Cod. You’ll find pretty villages, picturesque lighthouses, tasty seafood shacks, and endless shoreline here. It’s where everyone in the region goes for the summer. You could spend weeks here if you wanted!

Here are some things to see and do during your stay:

  • Go whale watching – From April to October, you can see finback, minke, and humpback whales, as well as dolphins and seals. Tours cost around $65 USD.
  • Hike or bike the National Seashore – Created in 1961 by JFK, this park spans over 43,000 acres. There are 11 hiking trails, as well as half a dozen cycling trials. All of them are well marked so it’s an easy way to stretch your legs and take in the beautiful landscape.
  • Visit some lighthouses – There are dozens of picturesque lighthouses around Cape Cod, some of which are open to the public. Don’t miss Nauset, Nobska, and Highland lighthouses.

***

New England is one of the most beautiful parts of the United States. Its size makes it perfect for road trips, offering a nice mix of cities, small towns, and stunning natural beauty. It also has some of the best seafood in the country, lots of hiking and biking opportunities, and some of the friendliest people in the country. I’m proud to have grown up in this region and encourage you to explore my backyard!

Book Your Trip to the United State: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. 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. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. 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. 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’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

Need an Affordable RV for Your Road Trip?
RVshare lets you rent RVs from private individuals all around the country, saving you tons of money in the process. It’s like Airbnb for RVs.

Want More Information on the United States?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on the USA for even more planning tips!

The post Road Tripping New England: My Suggested Itinerary appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Best Travel Insurance Companies for Seniors

Posted By : webmaster/ 2 0


A senior group enjoying a beach overseas
Posted: 5/26/21 | May 26th, 2021

When it comes to planning a trip, there is one expense far too many travelers overlook: travel insurance.

It’s a boring topic to research and read about — and it is an added expense many budget travelers aren’t excited about paying. Chances are nothing is going to go wrong, right? Why not just save the money and spend it on more travel?

Unfortunately, as many people have learned the hard way — myself included — things can go wrong at the drop of a hat. I’ve had my luggage lost, had brand new gear broken, and needed emergency medical help while traveling (on multiple occasions).

And these are just the “serious” incidents. I’ve also experienced countless flight delays and cancelations — events that are also covered by travel insurance.

In short, things can (and will) go wrong on the road. Why not make sure you’re prepared?

This is especially important for older travelers. While most generally have a bit more sense than younger backpackers (when was the last time you saw a 65-year-old jumping a burning skipping rope at the Full Moon Party in Thailand or bombing down Death Road in Peru?), there are often health and medical issues that need to be considered.

Even if you’re a healthy 55+ traveler, buying travel insurance is a necessary step in your planning. It will cover you for delays and cancelations, injuries, and worse. It’s a safety net for you and your loved ones that will not only help you avoid massive medical expenses but also provide you with peace of mind so you can enjoy your trip without worry.

I never leave home without it. You shouldn’t either.

Here’s everything you need to know about buying travel insurance as an older or senior traveler.
 

What to Look for in a Comprehensive Insurance Policy

Insurance is a billion-dollar business, and everyone wants their hand in the cookie jar. Consequently, you face a mind-numbing number of companies and policies, some with terminology that can be confusing and overwhelming.

So, what should you do?

First, make sure your travel insurance offers a high coverage limit on your medical expenses. Most travelers can get by with $100,000 USD in coverage. However, if you’re older or have a medical condition, then you may want more ($250,000-500,000 USD would be my suggestion).

High coverage limits are important because if you get sick, injured, or need serious attention and have to seek professional care, you’ll want to make sure your high hospital bills are covered. The worst thing you can do is go cheap and get a policy with a $20,000 USD coverage limit, then break a leg and reach that limit before they are done taking care of you.

Second, you want to make sure your travel insurance policy covers emergency evacuation and care that is separate from your medical coverage. For example, if you are hiking in the woods and you break your leg, your policy should cover your evacuation to the nearest acceptable medical facility.

If a natural disaster occurs and you need to be evacuated to somewhere else, your plan should cover that as well, ideally up to $300,000 USD.

Additionally, make sure you understand if your evacuation coverage will pay for you to get home or if it will just send you to the nearest acceptable facility. For example, if you break your leg abroad, most insurance policies will pay for your hospital bills. However, they won’t pay for you to get home since it’s not a life-threatening injury requiring advanced care.

Standard emergency evacuation coverage frequently only pays for a flight home if your current facility is inadequate or if it’s “medically necessary.”

In short, double-check if your company will cover the cost of your flight back home if you need it.

If you’d prefer not to stay in a foreign hospital for treatment and recovery, you should look into a medical transport membership program like Medjet, which ensures that, should you be hospitalized abroad, you’ll be able to be repatriated — something many travel insurance policies can’t guarantee.

Third, great travel insurance plans always include the following provisions:

  • Coverage for most countries (including the places you plan on visiting)
  • Coverage for injury and sudden illnesses
  • Coverage for lost, damaged, or stolen possessions, like jewelry, baggage, documents, etc.
  • Some coverage for your electronics (and the option for a higher coverage limit)
  • Coverage for cancelations for hotels, flights, and other transportation bookings if you have a sudden illness, death in the family, or some other emergency
  • Coverage for political emergencies, natural disasters, or strife in the country that may cause you to head home early
  • Financial protection if any company you are using goes bankrupt and you are stuck in another country
  • 24/7 assistance (you don’t want to call to be told to call back later)

A quick note on electronics: Most companies only have a small limit (usually up to $500 USD per item), as part of their basic coverage. You can often buy supplemental insurance for more coverage. If you’re traveling with lots of expensive gear, make sure you buy supplemental coverage.

Additionally, as an older traveler, you may also want:

  • Policies that cover preconditions (if you have them). Since most policies exclude these, you’ll need to shop around for a plan that will cover them.
  • Insurance plans that include a “cancel for any reason” clause. If you think you may need to cancel your trip before you depart and don’t want to risk losing your money, find a policy that offers this. It’s less common (and more expensive), but it might be useful if you have a medical condition that might impact your trip.

 

The Best Travel Issuance Companies for Senior Travelers

World Nomads

World Nomads insurance logo
This is my go-to company. I’ve used it for every trip since 2003. Its plans are comprehensive and cover everything you’ll need. It isn’t the cheapest company out there, but I don’t want to skimp out on my coverage. I like to know that, should something happen, I won’t have to spend my life savings paying for it.

Here’s a quick overview of World Nomads:

  • Emergency medical and dental coverage
  • Coverage for trip cancelations, delays, and interruptions
  • Baggage protection
  • Emergency evacuation (for medical and nonmedical emergencies, such as natural disasters)
  • Medical transportation
  • Coverage for some COVID-19 medical costs

World Nomads offers coverage for travelers up to age 69 in the US and 66 in Canada.

Click here to get a quote for your next trip!
 

SafetyWing


This is a new insurance company catering to long-term budget travelers. Its plans are not as comprehensive as World Nomads, but they are much cheaper. There’s a $250 USD deductible for most medical claims, but the monthly plans are a third the cost of those from World Nomads. If you’re on a super tight budget and healthy, with no pre-existing conditions, this is the company for you.

Here’s a quick overview of SafetyWing:

  • Affordable monthly plans with a deductible
  • Coverage up to age 69
  • Coverage for COVID-19
  • Plans can be purchased before you go abroad or after you’ve departed
  • Claims can be filed online
  • Best for digital nomads and frugal travelers

Click here to get a quote for your next trip!
 

Medjet

Medjet insurance logo
Medjet isn’t an insurance company per se. Rather, it’s a membership program that offers comprehensive medical transportation services all around the globe. Members have 24/7 access to hundreds of air ambulances and expert medical transport escorts and staff, located all over the world. While most insurance companies make sure you get to the “nearest acceptable facility” after an injury, Medjet ensures you get home.

Here’s a quick overview of Medjet:

  • Extensive medical transport coverage
  • Coverage up to age 75
  • Coverage for COVID-19
  • Limited time spent in foreign medical facilities
  • Both short-term and annual plans
  • Available to residents of the US, Canada, and Mexico

Click here to get a quote for your next trip!
 

Insure My Trip

IMT insurance logo
Insure My Trip is an insurance aggregator that compiles policies from over twenty different companies to help you find the best policy for your needs and budget.

As an older traveler, this is the best place for you to shop around and get a quote. You’ll be able to find policies for travelers over 70 as well as plans that have a “cancel for any reason” clause. It also offers policies that include coverage for certain pre-existing conditions.

Here’s a quick overview of IMT:

  • Comparisons of plans from 23 different companies to ensure you get the best one
  • Guaranteed low prices
  • Coverage for travelers over 65
  • “Anytime advocates” ask the insurer to give your claim a second look if you think it was unfairly denied

Click here to get a quote for your next trip!
 

A Note on COVID-19 (and Other Pandemics)

As many travelers learned the hard way, most travel insurance policies do not cover pandemics. Until now, that really hasn’t been a concern for most travelers. Heck, prior to this year I never really gave the “pandemic clause” much thought when reading my insurance policies.

However, these days pandemic coverage is at the forefront of every traveler’s mind — and rightly so!

Fortunately, as insurance companies have adapted to our new reality, and some now provide limited coverage for COVID-19 (or other pandemics). This usually includes trip cancelation or delay (as is the case with World Nomads, though it also offers some medical coverage for COVID) or transportation home (as is the case with Medjet). SafetyWing also provides coverage for COVID-19.

Before you buy a plan anywhere, be sure to read the fine print regarding pandemics and COVID-19. Make sure you fully understand what is and is not included, so you can take appropriate action should a situation arise. When in doubt, call and speak to a representative. Don’t risk your health on assumptions!

***

Everyone should buy travel insurance before they leave home — regardless of their age. While most travelers only experience minor hiccups, such as delayed flights or lost baggage, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry should a health emergency arise.

However, older travelers in particular should make sure they have the coverage they need in case something goes awry. While their options are usually less robust (and more expensive), there are still plenty of affordable ones to ensure you are protected as you enjoy your well-earned travels.

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:

Ready 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. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post The Best Travel Insurance Companies for Seniors appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The 7 Best Hostels in Rome

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The ancient Roman Coliseum set against a blue sky in summer in Rome, Italy
Posted: 6/12/2021 | June 12th, 2021

A city filled with life, beauty, and charm, Rome has something for everyone. It is a hotspot on the backpacking trail (I mean, who wants to miss out on Rome?) and has a lot of hostels to choose from. Searching Hostelworld yields pages of results that can be overwhelming. I mean how do you really know which ones are the best?

Having stayed in numerous hostels over the years, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite Roman budget-friendly accommodations with everything you need to have fun, save money, and enjoy your time in the Eternal City!

First, there are a lot of things to consider when selecting a hostel. The top four are:

  1. Location – Rome is big, and it can take some time to get around. Pick a place that is central to the sites you want to see and/or the nightlife you want to experience. All the hostels listed here are in central locations.
  2. Price – In Rome, you really get what you pay for, so if you go with a really cheap hostel, you’re probably going to get one that is cramped and doesn’t offer great service.
  3. Amenities – Every hostel in town offers free Wi-Fi, and some even include free breakfast, but if you want more than that, do your research in order to find one 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 stay at one of the places listed below, 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, below is my list of the hostels in Rome that I like the most. If you don’t want to read the whole list, the following are the best in each category:

Best Hostel for Budget Travelers: Alessandro Downtown Hostel & Bar
Best Hostel for Digital Nomads: YellowSquare or Hostel Trastevere
Best Hostel for Families: RomeHello
Best Hostel for Solo Female Travelers: The Beehive
Best Hostel for Partying: Alessandro Downtown Hostel & Bar
Best Overall Hostel: YellowSquare or The Beehive

Want more specifics? Here’s my comprehensive list of the best hostels in Rome:

Price (per night)

  • $ = Under 20 EUR
  • $$ = 20-30 EUR
  • $$$ = Over 30 EUR

 

1. YellowSquare

The interior of the YwllowSquare hostel in Rome, Italy
YellowSquare is a fun hostel. There’s no common area, so everyone hangs out in the bar downstairs, which means people come here to socialize and party. It’s loud in that respect, but since the bar is separate from the main accommodations, you don’t really hear a lot of noise in the rooms. Moreover, they have great security, high water pressure in the showers, comfy beds, and decent enough Wi-Fi. The dorms are spacious, and some of the rooms have privacy curtains so you can get a decent night’s sleep. They also run walking tours throughout Rome. It’s one of my favorite hostels in Europe!

YellowSquare at a glance:

  • $$
  • Bar on-site makes it easy to meet people
  • Party vibe
  • Organizes lots of activities

Beds from 25 EUR, privates from 86 EUR.

—> Book your stay at YellowSquare!
 

2. The Beehive

The bunk beds in the Beehive hostel in Rome, Italy
This is one of those hostels that feel like home. It’s super chill and laid back, and the owners go out of their way to make you feel welcome. There’s a café on-site that serves an amazing vegan/vegetarian organic breakfast (not included), with homemade sourdough bread, homemade croissants, and fresh bagels. They also organize weekly events (like cooking classes) and communal dinners using seasonal produce (dinners are by donation) to make it easy to socialize. There’s both an indoor lounge and an outdoor courtyard, so it’s always easy to meet people and chat. While the beds aren’t the most comfortable (they are basic metal bunks), the dorms are clean and spacious.

The Beehive at a glance:

  • $$$
  • Café on-site
  • Very friendly staff
  • Organizes weekly events

Beds from 35 EUR, privates from 61 EUR.

—> Book Your Stay at The Beehive!
 

3. Roma Scout Center

The red bunks in a dorm room in the Roma Scout Center hostel in Rome, Italy
This eco-friendly hostel is focused on sustainability. It has a bar and restaurant on-site and is close to the metro so you can easily explore the city. The dorms are basic, but they have lockers, and the beds are comfy enough (some of them are cozy pod beds). The hostel (including the dorms) is quite clean and well maintained. The staff is very helpful too and always willing to help you plan your trip. It’s not very social, though, since you get a wide range of people here (backpackers, families, kids, etc.), but it’s cheap!

Roma Scout Center at a glance:

  • $
  • Eco-friendly focus on sustainability
  • Restaurant and bar on-site
  • Knowledgeable staff can help you plan your visit

Beds from 19 EUR, privates from 58 EUR.

—> Book your stay at Roma Scout Center!
 

4. Alessandro Palace Hostel & Bar

Bunk beds in the Alessandro Palace hostel in Rome, Italty
This party hostel is one of the cheapest places in town. Naturally, the beds are basic and not very comfy, but there are lockers in every room. Plus, there’s a bar with cheap drinks. And it’s just 5 minutes from the Termini station too, so you’re in a great location for exploring. Overall, it’s a fun, party backpacker place. So don’t come looking for a good sleep!

The owners also run another very affordable party hostel downtown (Alessandro Downtown Hostel & Bar). It has a rooftop bar as well as a fully equipped kitchen and a fitness room. Like the other Alessandro hostel, the beds here are pretty basic and not especially comfy. But the dorms are spacious, and it’s super easy to meet people. They also have free coffee and tea all day.

Alessandro Palace Hostel & Bar at a glance:

  • $
  • Bar on-site
  • Very affordable
  • Social vibe makes it easy to meet other travelers

Beds from 16 EUR, privates from 35 EUR.

—> Book your stay at Alessandro Palace Hostel & Bar!

Alessandro Downtown Hostel and Bar at a glance:

  • $
  • Rooftop terrace
  • Social atmosphere
  • Cheap dorms

Beds from 18 EUR, privates from 48 EUR.

—> Book your stay at Alessandro Downtown Hostel & Bar!
 

5. The RomeHello Hostel

The outdoor courtyard and common area at RomeHello hostel
This is a fun, social hostel where it’s easy to meet people. Each bed has an individual lamp, USB charger, plug, and shelf. The bunks are comfortable and sturdy (so they don’t creak), with thick mattresses and individual lockers built-in. It’s just a 10-15-minute walk from many of the city’s best sites, including the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Colosseum. There’s also a kitchen for cooking your own meals, as well as a pub and a beer garden, so it’s easy to hang out and meet people (there’s a ton of common area space).

The RomeHello Hostel at a glance:

  • $$$
  • Pub and beer garden make it easy to meet people
  • Great location
  • Family-sized private rooms

Beds from 42 EUR, privates from 150 EUR.

—> Book your stay at RomeHello!
 

6. Hostel Trastevere

The cozy bunk beds in Hostel Trastevere in Rome, Italy
This hostel has a great outdoor terrace common area with shade sails to keep you cooler in summer. There are actually three common areas, so there’s a place for people who want to party, relax, or work. They offer a cheap buffet breakfast, as well as fast Wi-Fi and AC for when it gets hot. The bunks are basic, and some of the top bunks don’t have railings; however, they’re comfy enough, and the dorms don’t feel crowded. There’s a bar on-site too, and the hostel is close to grocery stores and public transit.

Hostel Trastevere at a glance:

  • $$
  • Bar on-site
  • Lots of common space makes it easy to meet people
  • for digital nomads to work

Beds from 25 EUR, privates from 82 EUR.

—> Book your stay at Hostel Trastevere!
 

7. Palladini Hostel Rome


This might be a hostel, but it hasn’t skimped on the décor, with stylish black-, red-, and white-themed communal areas and artwork and chandeliers in the private rooms. The dorms are basic but roomy, and the beds aren’t amazing, but it’s just 200m from the Termini station, so it’s really easy to access public transport. There’s a café on-site too, as well as a large kitchen for cooking your own meals. It’s one of the cheapest places in the city as well. Plus, they also give you a free glass of champagne on arrival!

Palladini Hostel Rome at a glance:

  • $
  • Convenient location near Termini station
  • Affordable dorms
  • Free champagne on arrival

Beds from 17 EUR, privates from 55 EUR.

—> Book your stay at Palladini Hostel!

***

Mixing the ancient with the modern, Rome is an incredible destination full of world-class historical attractions and amazing culinary delights. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re a history buff, foodie, partier, or on a romantic getaway. No matter what your travel style, there’s plenty of budget-friendly accommodation, so you can enjoy all the city has to offer without breaking the bank!

Book Your Trip to Italy: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. 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. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!

Book Your Train
ItaliaRail is a great resource to use when planning your trip via train around Italy. You can compare prices, routes, and schedules and save up to 60% on your tickets.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. 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. 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’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

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

Photo credit: 2 – The Yellow, 3 – The Beehive, 4 – Roma Scout Center, 5 – Alessandro Hostel, 6 – RomeHello, 7 – Hostel Trastevere, 8 – Palladini Hostel

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Highlights from My 5th U.S. Road Trip

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Nomadic Matt posing at the Grand Canyon
Posted: 6/14/21 | June 14th, 2021

This post was originally published on Nomadic Matt Plus, our exclusive members-only community. Click here to learn more about how you can get early-access content, free books and guides, live Q&As, and more!

Back in mid-April, I packed my bags, filled my car with books, said goodbye to my apartment, and headed west for a six-week road trip through seven states.

Last week, four thousand miles, ten books, and 67 hours of driving later, after a route that took me west to the Grand Canyon, north to Boise, west to Portland, and down the coast to Los Angeles, my fifth US road trip came to an end.

Road trips give me a chance to not only see the country but recharge my batteries. As I drive, I listen to audiobooks and music and call friends. In destinations where I’m not visiting friends, I sightsee, eat, read, write, and go to bed early.

On these road trips, I drink less, sleep more, reflect more, and chill out more. They’re my “me time.”

Especially because I visit as many national parks as possible. And lots of time alone in nature is good for the soul.

This road trip was no different (though at six weeks, it was one of the shorter ones I’ve done). I revisited the Grand Canyon, saw Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite, and some other parks for the first time.

The sprawling views of the Grand Canyon in the USA

The Grand Canyon was just as grand as I remembered it. During my first visit, I hiked to the bottom, but, due to COVID, that wasn’t possible now. I just did an out-and-back to Skeleton Point and took in the view from the rim.

(Tip: Take Rt. 64 to enter and exit the park. This takes you to the eastern part of the canyon, where there are tons of lookouts, and over a super scenic road. It’s way better than driving from Flagstaff via 180. It takes longer but the drive is way more majestic. Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument are also along the way.)

Then there was Utah, which was the highlight of my entire trip. I never realized that the state had so many national parks in it — nor that it was so beautiful.

I only visited Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks this trip. Zion was everything I dreamed it to be. The rocks and peaks all are so massive — it truly makes you feel small.

The famous view of Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, USA

However, I liked Bryce a lot more. I found the trails less crowded and the landscape, with its pastel reds and oranges, prettier. There was just something about those hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock), wide canyons, and colors that did it for me more. There seemed to be more trails there too, especially further down the canyon.

And then there was Salt Lake City. I’ll write more about why I loved it as much as I did later on, but for now, I’ll just say that there was way more stuff to do there than I thought. Lots of art, hikes you can access right from downtown, and grade A beer gardens.

But the real fun was when I ran into a reader at one of those beer gardens and they took me to a house party filled with twentysomethings employed at ski resorts nearby or transplants working for one of the new tech companies in town (SLC has a growing tech scene as people leave California). It was kind of cool to be at a party with strangers again, and even though I’m way past my twenties, everyone was pretty welcoming (though they did kick my butt at beer pong!).

Some other highlights:

  • Mt. Hood, Oregon
  • Sonoma (If you visit, get Three Fat Guys wines. They are delicious.)
  • The entire Oregon coast (an article on it is coming)
  • The Redwoods
  • Los Angeles (always)
  • Flagstaff, Arizona (a fun college town with a good brewery scene)
  • Yosemite National Park

And the lowlight? Roswell, New Mexico. There just wasn’t much to do there and the alien stuff is just terribly done! It’s not even fun kitschy. There is one really awesome contemporary art museum there though.

A stunning narrow canyon surrounded by tall cliffs in the USA

No matter how many road trips I make, I’m still blown away by how big this country is. Despite spending the past year just road-tripping around the country (and not counting all the shorter trips here and there or vacations to places like Hawaii over my lifetime, which probably add up to a couple of years as well), I’ve only seen a fraction of the land I grew up in.

It boggles my mind that I have seen so much yet still so little.

On the whole, this trip was a bit more sedate than my previous ones. Though COVID cases were declining, more people were getting vaccinated and getting outside, and there was more of a lively atmosphere than last summer, a lot of things were still closed, restrictions were still in place, and some people were still weird about meeting strangers.

The longer my road trip went on, though, the more positive energy there was in the air. It’s made me super excited for this summer and all my Europe travels!

Travel is a battery that needs to be recharged, and, with many COVID restrictions loosening up, my battery is at 110% right now. This trip gave me a taste, but I’m ready for hostels, Greek beaches, fellow travelers, and seeing where the road takes me.

Book Your Trip to the United State: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. 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. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. 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. 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’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

Need an Affordable RV for Your Road Trip?
RVshare lets you rent RVs from private individuals all around the country, saving you tons of money in the process. It’s like Airbnb for RVs.

Want More Information on the United States?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on the USA for even more planning tips!

The post Highlights from My 5th U.S. Road Trip appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Ultimate Guide to Traveling When You Have No Money

Posted By : webmaster/ 28 0


How to Travel When You Have no Money
Updated: 5/28/21 | May 28th, 2021

Whenever I ask readers what the number one thing holding them back from traveling is I almost always get the same answer: Money.

This is something I hear from everyone I talk to: “Matt, I simply don’t have enough money to travel.”

This problem — and how to overcome it — is my most asked question. Over the past 12 years, I have answered this question in a plethora of posts, emails, tweets, and Facebook posts. Long-term readers might even be getting sick of me discussing this subject because it is one I talk about so much. 

But I know no matter how often I address this question, it will come up again.

Since this question comes up so often, I like to constantly remind people of this fact: You do not need to be rich to travel.

Let’s repeat that: You do not need to be rich to travel.

There are plenty of ways to travel on a budget (and for free) — you just need to be willing to get creative.

Traveling the world with no money sounds like an impossible dream. But it is possible, and you can do it responsibly without breaking the bank. It should be said that there are some expenses you shouldn’t compromise on (like travel insurance) but there are tons of ways you can travel the world on a budget — including plenty of ways you can actually travel for free.

In this post, I’m going to show you two things:

  1. How to travel cheap
  2. How to travel for free

Traveling cheap is all about taking advantage of helpful apps and websites that save you money, finding ways to lower your expenses, and even making money as you travel. It’s about finding value and lowering your expenses while still being able to afford to do what you want.

Traveling for free entails taking advantage of free accommodation, transportation, and activities that are already out there, thereby reducing your cost to zero. Here, you sacrifice comfort and convenience to extend your travels as long as possible.

With the right budget and the right mindset, you can make your travel dreams a reality. Even if you don’t earn a lot or you have debt, there are still plenty of ways to go overseas (I still had debt when I went on my first trip around the world). They may not be fancy or luxurious, but if travel is your priority then you can definitely make it happen!

Ready to kick-start your budget travels and save money? Just click on either of the links below to jump directly to that section!

1. Get a Job Overseas

Not making enough money at your job? Or, even worse, are you working a job you hate? Why not get a job overseas? There are plenty of opportunities in the world as long as you aren’t picky. After all, this isn’t a career you are starting — it’s just a way to earn money for travel.

Here are some popular (and easy to find) jobs you can get when you travel:

  1. Au pair – An au pair is a live-in caregiver who helps a host family by looking after their children and doing some basic housekeeping. In exchange, you get free room and board and a small salary. This is a great route if you’re looking to learn a new language or immerse yourself in a new culture. You can read this post for more info on being an au pair.
  2. Bartender – It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, so if you have the skills then this is an easy job to move overseas. It’s also an easy job to get under the table if you decide to go that route. If you don’t have the skills to tend bar, consider being a dishwasher or busser.
  3. Hostel worker – Hostel workers rarely stick around for long, which means there is always a demand for new help. It’s a great way to meet other travelers while adjusting to a new location. You can usually also start off as a volunteer (in exchange for a free room) to avoid visa complications. Three websites that can help you find hostels to volunteer at are Worldpackers, Workaway, and HelpX.
  4. Waitress/waiter – There are tons of seasonal restaurants around the world that need extra help during the busy tourist months. If you have experience, this is an easy job to find abroad.
  5. Farm worker – While hardly glamorous, if you don’t mind the hard work this is a great way to make a lot of money in a short period of time (as you won’t have time to spend your money because you’ll be farming out in the middle of nowhere!). This job is very popular in Australia and New Zealand.
  6. Dive instructor – If you have your certification, this is an easy job to travel with as dive instructors are needed everywhwere. Best of all, these jobs are usually in picturesque tropical locations!
  7. Tour guide – If you’ve got a knack for history and don’t mind speaking in front of groups, this is the perfect job for you. It’s also usually a cash job, which means you get your tips directly.
  8. Cruise ship worker – This is a much more formal position than the ones above, but it’s a great way to travel. The hours are long, but there’s something to be said about living at sea!
  9. Casino worker – While this might require some training, if you’re a night owl and don’t mind the casino scene this is a fun job to work abroad.
  10. Seasonal worker at ski resorts – Instructors, restaurant staff, hotel staff, lifeguards — ski resorts need all sorts of staff to keep things moving, making this a goldmine for the overseas traveler (as long as you don’t mind the snow!).
  11. Yacht worker – While the hours can be long, you can make great money working for the rich and famous on their yachts. Best of all, you’re usually in some pretty amazing destinations!
  12. Yoga instructor – If you have the skills (and certification), teaching yoga abroad is an easy way to make some spending money. While you might need to know the language, there are yoga studios in pretty much every city in the world.

Working overseas often gets discounted as an option because it seems hard to do. It’s not. Just be open. These jobs don’t require advanced degrees or a lot of work experience either.

Are you going to get a high-paying office job? No.

Will you get a shitty, low-wage job that will pay all your travel bills? Yep!

I’ve met people from all walks of life, both from Western and non-Western countries, funding their travels this way. It’s an easy, fun way to lengthen your travels, deepen your experience, and make a little money.

READ MORE ABOUT WORKING OVERSEAS: 15 Ways to Find a Job and Work Overseas
 

2. Teach English Overseas

One of the best ways to make money for travel is to teach English overseas. You can make a lot of money teaching — I replenished my travel funds while working in Thailand, and I have had friends leave South Korea with tens of thousands of dollars in the bank.

All you need is the ability to speak English fluently and a TEFL degree, depending on the country you work in. The world is yearning for teachers, and this is a job in high demand; many companies in Asia will even pay for your flight over.

If you have a college or university degree you’ll be able to make more money and apply for better positions though it’s not necessary for many countries.

Additionally, there are many websites and services out there that allow you to teach virtually. As long as you have a great Wi-Fi connection, you can help people learn English from anywhere in the world!

Some places you can teach online are:

READ MORE ABOUT TEACHING OVERSEAS:

 

3. Do WWOOFing and Work on a Farm

WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It’s a platform that allows you to work on a farm in exchange for free room and board. It’s a great way to see a destination in-depth while allowing you to commune with the great outdoors. You have to pay to get to the farm, but once you are there, everything else is covered! It definitely will help you travel cheap as well as have a unique experience and meet lots of cool people.

WWOOF has opportunities available in 130 countries around the world, with over 12,000 hosts available. Some of the most popular destinations for WWOOFers are France, Italy, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii.

READ MORE ABOUT VOLUNTEERING:

 

4. Use the Sharing Economy

Use the sharing economy to find cheaper accommodation, quirky tour guides, rideshare options, and home-cooked meals with local chefs. You can bypass the traditional travel industry with sharing economy websites and gain access to locals using their own assets and skills to become small tourism companies with cheaper prices. Moreover, locals know where to find deals. They know which supermarket is cheapest, which stores offer the best sales, and where to find the hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars with the tastiest food at the lowest prices. Talking directly to them gives you access to that knowledge.

These websites have changed the travel game and made travel more accessible for everyone.

Here are some of my favorite websites:

  • Airbnb – The go-to platform for finding budget accommodation.
  • BlaBlaCar – A ride-sharing app that connects you with drivers who have extra seats in their car (primarily for medium and long distances).
  • EatWith – Platform that connects you with local cooks serving private meals.
  • RVShare – Lets you rent RVs and camper vans directly from locals.
  • Turo – A car sharing marketplace that lets you rent vehicles from locals.
  • Campspace – This platform lets you camp on private property. Properties range from basic tent plots to luxurious glamping and RV stays.

READ MORE ABOUT THE SHARING ECONOMY:

 

5. Cook Your Own Meals

The best way to save money on the road is to cook all your own meals. While in Stockholm, I spent $60 USD for a week’s worth of groceries instead of an average of $15 USD per meal eating out! That’s a saving of $150 USD!

I’ve done the same thing in dozens of countries all around the world — especially in expensive destinations like Iceland where eating out can really destroy your budget.

If you are staying in hostels, book accommodation that has a kitchen so you have space to cook. If you’re Couchsurfing or using Airbnb,your host will probably have a kitchen.

No kitchen? Pack your own container and cutlery and make some sandwiches and salads on the go. Not every meal requires a stove, right?

Just because you are traveling doesn’t mean you need to eat out every meal. You won’t ruin your trip to Paris if you decide not to eat out one day! There’s simply no reason to be spending lots of money on food on your trip!

READ MORE ABOUT SAVING MONEY ON FOOD WHEN YOU TRAVEL:

 

6. Get Rail Passes

Rail passes (like the Eurail Pass in Europe or the JR Pass in Japan) are a great way to save money when it comes to train travel. If you’re traveling around the region for a while, rail passes will likely be much cheaper than just booking individual trips.

If you are booking individual trips, booking ahead of time can usually save you about 50% of the cost of a train ticket. However, that fixes you to a set timeline. If you don’t want to be tied into a fixed schedule, rail passes can save you a lot of money while giving you the flexibility you need. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars in Europe doing this!
 

7. Sleep in Large Dorms

Large hostel dorm rooms are the cheapest paid accommodation out there. If Couchsurfing isn’t your thing, this is your next best way to save money on a place to sleep. The bigger the dorm, the cheaper it will be. While a 4-6 bed dorm might give you more privacy, a 12-18 bed dorm is going to be a bit cheaper. In the long run, this will add up. As long as you’ve got earplugs and a sleeping mask, opt for the bigger door to keep your budget intact!

If you’re a light sleeper, make sure you read the reviews before you book to ensure you don’t choose a party hostel. In larger cities, you can usually find a hostel that is quieter than the others. It might not be as social, but you’ll at least be able to get a good sleep.

In a large dorm, you’re almost guaranteed to have some snorers. If earplugs don’t quite do the trick, download an app like Rain Rain, which plays rain sounds on a loop. You can set a timer so they stop playing after an hour or two, helping you ignore the noises of the dorm while you try to fall asleep.
 

8. Use Student and Other Discount Cards

Are you a student, teacher, or under 26? Welcome to the world of 50%-off attractions and a plethora of discounts! Get a student/teacher/youth card and save big while you’re abroad. Even if you’ve recently graduated, chances are you can still get by with your expired ID card (as long as it doesn’t have an expiry date). Always ask if there are discounts available for students or youth as this is an easy way to save tons of cash as you travel around!

Museums, galleries, and other major tourist attractions usually have discounts (especially in Europe). It never hurts to ask!
 

9. Get City Tourist Cards

If you plan on seeing a lot of sights in a city, you should get a city tourism card. These will offer you discounted and/or free access to the major attractions and museums, as well as free public transportation. I saved over $100 USD with the London pass, $80 USD with the Paris Museum card, $50 USD with a Helsinki card, and tons more with other city tourism cards.

They are an amazing way to save money on attractions that not enough people use. Just head to the local tourism office to find out what cards are available. They can help answer all your questions and make sure you save as much money as possible. Not every city has them, but most major destinations do and you’ll save a lot of money if you plan on seeing the major sights.
 

10. Capitalize on Your Skills

Need some cash? Use Craigslist, TaskRabbit, , or Gumtree to find people who need a few things done around the house and get paid to help them. It’s a way to make money when you travel without committing to a long-term job.

Additionally, if you have a skill, sell it. Offer haircuts to other travelers, busk for money, provide online services like editing, graphic design, or consulting. It’s never been easier to work online. As long as you have Wi-Fi you can make money. The sky is the limit here — get creative!
 

11. Travel Hack and Get Free Flights!

Travel hacking is the #1 way I’ve been able to afford so many flights and hotels over the years. Simply by using a travel credit card for regular spending on groceries, restaurants, and shopping I’ve been able to earn free flights and hotel stays — all by spending money I was going to spend anyway!

These days, there are tons of ways to earn free flights. Simpley sign up for a few travel credit cards, collect miles, and then fly for free.

Most cards offer sign-up bonuses of 50,000 points (or more) — which is often enough for a free round-trip flight right there. And if you sign up for both an airline card (e.g., a United Airlines credit card) and a general rewards card like the Chase Sapphire, you can combine the two point balances and get a cheap flight faster.

By collecting points and miles through credit card bonuses, smart everyday spending, online surveys, bonuses, and other methods, you’ll accrue a ton of miles even before you’ve left for your trip. You can go a lot further in the world when you take away the cost of flights and some accommodation.

It’s not just for Americans either (though US residents have the best options). Canadians can travel hack too, as can folks from Australia and New Zealand and the UK.

Europeans also have several options as well, including all kinds of airline cards such as Norweigan Air, SAS, Aer Lingus, Lufthansa, and more.

READ MORE ABOUT TRAVEL HACKING:

 

12. Stay for Free

There are many services that connect travelers with locals who are willing to let them stay with them for free. Using these sites, you will never have to pay for accommodation. Years ago I read about a guy who traveled for years while only Couchsurfing.

I’ve used this service dozens of times over the years times and always meet amazing people. Sometimes you get a room, sometimes a couch, sometimes an air mattress, but it’s always free.

Ideally, you’ll want to repay your host’s kindness by cooking them a meal, bringing them a souvenir from home, or taking them out for a drink. But that will still be much cheaper than paying for accommodation!

There are also local Couchsurfing group meet-ups that can help you make friends in your new city.

Moreover, because of the rise of the sharing economy in the last few years, there are now websites that let you not only stay with locals but share rides, meals, train tickets, gear, and much more! These websites not only save you a TON of money but they also get you off the tourist track and into the local life. Win-win! Here is a list of websites to use for free accommodation:

READ MORE ABOUT FINDING CHEAP OR FREE ACCCOMMODATION:

 

13. Hitchhike

Hitchhiking is a free way to get around that is relatively safe and quite common in many parts of the world, including Central America, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

I’ve hitchhiked in more than a handful of countries (and I know solo female travelers who have done the same!). Sure, it has a bad reputation in North America, but with some common sense and a bit of patience, you can hitchhike almost anywhere — saving you tons of money in the process!

Here are a few basic tips to help you get started:

  • Use a sign – Make a clear sign that lets people know where you’re heading. That will help drivers decide if they can help.
  • Look presentable – Wear clean clothing, smile, and don’t obscure your face with something like sunglasses. People want to see who they are picking up.
  • Check the laws – Hitchhiking is illegal in some places. Always check the laws to make sure it’s ok to do where you are.
  • Take precautions – Note the license plate of anyone who picks you up and text it to a friend. Chances are you won’t need it but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Keep your valuables on you – Don’t leave any valuables in your bag if it goes in the trunk in case it gets left in the car (or stolen).
  • Consult Hitchwiki – Hitchwiki is the #1 hitchiking resource there is. Always consult it before you hitchhike to pick up tips and ensure you’re hitchhiking in a safe place.

READ MORE ABOUT HITCHHIKING:

 

14. Take Free Walking Tours

Want to learn about the city, get your bearings, and see the major sights? Take a free walking tour. You can find them in most major cities — just ask the local tourist office, your hostel staff, or Google “free walking tour (city name).”

You’ll get a solid introduction to the city while also getting access to a local guide you can ask questions to. I always start my visits to a new city with one. Just be sure to tip your guide at the end (that’s how they get paid).

READ MORE ABOUT TAKING FREE WALKING TOURS:

 

15. House Sitting & Pet Sitting

If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a vacation, consider watching someone’s house while they go on theirs! You can sign up for one of the sites below and watch people’s homes (and their pets) for free, allowing you to stay in one destination for a while without having to pay for accommodation. Everyone’s account is verified and has reviews so you know you won’t get cheated.

This is a great platform for long-term travel with an important added bonus: you get a kitchen to cook your food (which saves you even more money!).

You will also often get access to a vehicle and sometimes will be left a tip or free groceries. It’s usually people who are well off that can afford multi-month vacations so you’re usually in pretty nice homes and apartments too!

Here are the best house-sitting websites to check out:

READ MORE ABOUT HOUSE SITTING:

 

16. Use Your Social Network

Does your colleague have a relative in Spain? Or maybe you have a distant cousin who lives in New Zealand. Or maybe a childhood friend of yours is working down in Brazil.

These days, we have a vast social network of friends and family that stretches across the globe. Don’t hesitate to use that! Ask your co-workers and friends if they know anyone where you’re going. Get your mom to ask her co-workers and friends, too.

Using your social network can be hugely helpful in traveling the world. You never know who knows who!

***

By implementing a variety of these tips, you’ll be able to travel for relatively little money. Gone are the days of overpriced hotels and expensive flights. With a little planning and some creativity, you can travel the world for cheap.

Because if I can do it, you can do it too!

Whether it’s two months, two years, or just a two-week vacation, travel doesn’t need to cost a ton. The key is to get out of the mindset that you must travel using a flight/hotel combination. Using out-of-the-box, nontraditional ways to travel can lead to big savings.

It all starts with a change in mindset. From there, with some patience and practice, you’ll be able to make your travel dreams a reality — without breaking the bank!

 

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 called 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:

Ready 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. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

 

The post The Ultimate Guide to Traveling When You Have No Money appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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13 Tips for RVing with Kids

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Karen from The Mom Trotter and her family posing near their RV
Posted: 6/3/2021 | June 3rd, 2021

I don’t have much RV experience — and I definitely don’t have any experience RVing with kids. But, this summer, with many people are planning domestic vacations instead of traveling abroad, RV travel is going to be even bigger than last year.

To help those of you with kids plan an epic domestic trip, I’ve asked Karen from The MOM Trotter to share her tips and advice. She’s been traveling in an RV with her family for almost two years and knows exactly how to make the most of a family RV trip!

RVing with kids is a great way to create lasting family memories. From the excitement of seeing new things to the joy of the simple pleasures like stopping for ice cream or seeing that odd attraction that you stumbled upon, it always makes life more fun.

My family and I took a trip in November of 2019 that introduced us to the world of RVing. We rented one from Outdoorsy and set off on a two-week adventure, visiting all five national parks in Utah, state parks and monuments in Arizona and Nevada, and Joshua Tree National Park in California. We fell in love with RVing after this trip — and a few months after that, we sold our home in California and purchased our very own RV.

This kind of travel requires some forethought, however. You can’t just hop into your vehicle and hit the road. You’ll need to plan, get and stay organized, establish boundaries and ground rules, and generally be prepared for anything the road might throw at you. While that all might sound daunting, it’s quite similar to planning for any other trip in a lot of ways.

That being said, it will not always be smooth sailing. You’ll have bumps in the road — both literally and figuratively. However, it is one of the best adventures you’ll get to have as a family.

These tips will help you prepare for the journey as best as possible, allowing you to focus more on fun and less on roadblocks.

Karen from The Mom Trotter in a hammock

1. Find the Right RV

There are so many different types of RVs, from those you can drive to those that need to be pulled with a truck. If you don’t own one, research the size and type of RV that will match your family’s needs.

When renting an RV or even buying one, it is important that you check how many people it can sleep. When we rented our first RV, I was planning a trip for six people — two adults and four young ones — so I found one with a bunk room so that the kids would have enough space to sleep and feel comfortable.

We love to cook, so finding an RV with a decent-sized kitchen was also high on our list. It’s good to look for one with a spacious living room and dining area as well, but keep in mind that you’ll be spending lots of time outside, so indoor space might not matter as much as you might expect.

RVLove has tons of resources for helping you learn more about what RV is best for you, your family, and your budget.

If you’re not ready to purchase an RV, keep in mind that there are tons of places that rent RVs too. You can start with RVShare for affordable local rentals (it’s like Airbnb but for RVs).
 

2. Set Expectations

It’s important to set expectations for your upcoming trip. The kids need to know what’s expected of them and all the ground rules, so they have some sort of structure while on the road.

Talk about the rules for electronics, other devices, and screen time; who will be responsible for what chores; and how much help you expect with setting up and taking down your camp. It’s also important to explain campground etiquette to your children if they’ve never been camping before. With your neighbors so close, making excessive noise and running amok — especially on other people’s RV plots — is frowned upon. Everyone in an RV park has a limited amount of space. It’s important that your kids don’t sprawl into other travelers’ territory.

Karen from The Mom Trotter and her family in Colorado, USA

3. Clearly Define Personal Space

RVing with kids means addressing and respecting personal space, as RVs are quite small.

Before your trip, you should discuss where each person will be sleeping, and emphasize that every member of the family should respect that space when it’s time to go to sleep.

You can also set rules about bathroom time: most have only one bathroom, so setting up some sort of schedule so that everybody gets equal time will help a lot. Defining personal space also includes letting the children know who gets to use the bathroom first in the mornings, as well as reminding them to always knock before entering any space in the RV.

If the RV park you are visiting allows for tent camping, consider allowing your older ones, such as teenagers, to pitch a tent outside, as they may enjoy it even more.
 

4. Get (and Stay) Organized

When it comes to children, organization is key no matter where you are. This is especially true when it comes to RVing.

There’s a finite amount of space in an RV, no matter how large it is, so it’s critical to create spaces for the kids to store their toys, books, devices, and the like. Make sure they know that their items should always be put back in those places when not in use. Otherwise, your space can get cluttered very quickly. Set up a cleaning/tidying schedule so that everyone gets into the habit of keeping the space organized.

Another way of staying organized is by setting a daily schedule that kids can see and follow, so they know what to expect and when to expect it. For example, having a menu will give them an idea of what’s for dinner and breakfast so that they can start to understand the routine.

RVing is about freedom and fun, but in the midst of it all, whenever possible, stick to the routines that you have at home like bedtimes, nap times, and mealtimes.

Karen from The Mom Trotter and her family at Horseshoe Bend, USA

5. Set a Cleaning Schedule

We all know how quickly a home can get out of control when it’s full of children. Now imagine that happening in an RV. Things can go bad really fast.

Set up a cleaning schedule for both yourself and the kids. This is a great way to teach them about the RV itself while instilling a sense of helpfulness and a strong work ethic.

Older children can and should be part of the regular cleaning process too. It saves you some work and teaches them the value of helping the family. If they are old enough, they can help with things like emptying the gray water tanks, adding chemicals to the freshwater, and other RV-related upkeep tasks.
 

6. Map Out Your Stops

While RVing gives you a certain amount of freedom, it does come with caveats. Unless you’re traveling in a conversion van, even the smallest RV is pretty big. So before your trip, research places that make for convenient stops for your rig.

Truck stops, gas stations, and even Walmart parking lots are all great places to stop for a rest, enjoy a meal, fill up on gas, and maybe pick up any essentials that might have fallen through the cracks during your packing.

Mapping out stops helps a lot. Knowing where you plan on stopping for gas, for food, and to park overnight gives you peace of mind for the rest of the trip. With the essentials handled, you can plan accordingly and relax.

Planning regular stops for food and gas can also help if a problem arises. One time, we had a flat tire in a small city on a Friday evening and couldn’t go anywhere until Monday morning because there wasn’t any open tire shop near us. If we had planned our stop in a more accessible area, we could have avoided this situation. (Of course, not all situations like this are avoidable, but the better you plan the less hiccups you will encounter).

This is also important while traveling as a Black family because we need to make sure we don’t end up in the wrong city at the wrong time of the night.
 

7. Choose the Right RV Park

One of the most important things about RVing as a family is choosing the right RV park. If you’re all about spending time in nature, then you’ll want to choose a state or RV park located close to nature, with lots of trees and hiking trails nearby. If you’d rather enjoy a more glamping-type experience, then pick one with amenities like a pool, a lazy river, a playground, Wi-Fi, etc. (One of my son’s favorites, in Galveston, Texas, has all of that plus a water park and weekly kids’ activities.)

We’ve had the opportunity to experience both types of RV parks and loved them equally. Neither is better than the other — it just depends on what you’re looking for. Call ahead to a few to find out which are best suited to your family size and your travel needs.

GoRVing and RoverPass are a great resources for finding RV parks.

Additionally, here’s a list of some of our favorite family-friendly parks.

Karen from The Mom Trotter and her family traveling in the USA

8. Shorter Travel Days are Best

The thrill of the open road is something that calls to the entire family, but it might call a little more strongly to the adults. Kids — especially younger children — need time to relax. Remember, to a child, sitting in one place for hours on end can be downright exhausting.

Make sure to keep travel times to around 5 or 6 hours if you have older ones and as little as 3 to 4 if you have toddlers. Try to travel during nap times, as that’ll help them not get anxious about the long drive.

If you do drive for long stretches, make sure to have plenty of snacks and activities to keep your kids busy. It’ll be easier on you too.
 

9. Keep Snacks and Finger Foods Handy

The easiest way to keep children entertained during long drives is to offer them as many snacks as you can. You’ll be surprised to find out that your kids will want snacks so much more than normal on long road trips.

So bring along prepackaged or store-bought snacks and water bottles or juice boxes that they can keep nearby to limit the temptation for them to get up and roam around the RV while you’re cruising down the interstate.
 

10. Take a Day Off

One of the most fun things you can do when RVing is taking a day off from driving. Of course, you have to reach that final destination, but don’t forget to stop and smell the roses along the way. Nothing beats a day of just hanging out with the family and seeing what an area has to offer.

On our first RV trip, we had almost no days off, as we wanted to see everything in the short time that we had. Because of this, we were so tired after our trip.

Now that we are slow traveling, we plan for lots of days off, when we can just relax by the fire and unwind.

Karen from The Mom Trotter and her family traveling in the USA

11. Pack Some Entertainment

Board games are a great way to bond as a family, and they’re an excellent source of entertainment. They provide lots of family time, promote togetherness, and are the perfect entertainment platform for the slower pace of an RV road trip.

But kids need variety, especially when playing on their own. In addition to any tablets they might have, think about packing things like coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, and, if your camper has a DVD or Blu-Ray player, their favorite movies.
 

12. Create an Outdoor Playspace

Once you’re all settled in at a stop, set the kids up with an outdoor playspace. All you need is some sort of waterproof mat that you can unroll to create an area that’s perfect for building blocks, toys, and other fun.

If you’re traveling with toddlers or babies, bring along a baby gate or two or even a collapsible playpen. These are excellent for keeping young children safe while outdoors by the campfire or keeping them out of potentially dangerous areas inside your RV.
 

13. Safety First

If you’re camping, be sure that they understand the boundaries of the camp and where they can go unattended, if at all.

In addition, it’s important to talk about safety if you plan to hike in any national park. Be sure the young ones understand the importance of paying attention to their surroundings, giving local wildlife plenty of space, and respecting nature. Make sure you have a well-stocked first-aid kit in your RV too. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

***

From planning to packing and sightseeing safety, these tips for RVing with kids will help keep your trip on the straight and narrow, so you can focus on fun.

One of the biggest keys to having a successful journey is to accept that things won’t go perfectly or smoothly at all times. Children are a constant wild card. They might be crabby out of nowhere; they might get a small owie and freak out — it could be anything. However, all of these things will pass, and in the grand scheme of things, they’ll only be a small part of the whole picture.

But, with these tips, you’ll be able to ensure a relatively smooth trip that builds family memories and togetherness and is full of adventure and fun.

Karen Akpan runs The MOM Trotter blog, a website dedicated to inspiring and encouraging parents to show their children the world. She is also the founder of Black Kids Do Travel which was created to bring about diversity in travel and bridge the travel gap by sharing black travel stories. Her goal is to raise global citizens who are open and accepting of everyone. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

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:

Ready 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. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post 13 Tips for RVing with Kids appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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