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The Best Tour Companies in Ireland

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an Irish castle tower on a still lake set against green hills
Posted: 8/17/19 | October 17th, 2019

Ireland. It’s a scenic country full of rolling green hills, photogenic cliffs, impressive castles, cozy Irish pub, friendly locals, and a lot of Irish charm.

I’ve loved every part of my experiences in Ireland.

My first trip was a quick 24-hour visit to Dublin, but, I loved it so much I’ve gone back about four times since. Ireland has a special magic to it that makes every visitor fall in love. (Ok, not everyone, but most people love it here!)

While the cities are incredible and have a lot to offer, Ireland is best seen by car so you can get off-road and visit the small little villages, castles, and parks that dot the country.

However, if you’re like me, and not a fan of driving (especially driving on the left!), the next best thing to driving or just city hopping on buses is going on a tour in Ireland. Given the country’s small size, you can see a lot of it in a little time and a tour can be a good way to pack it all in without the hassle of organizing all the details yourself.

There are lots of tour options here — from walking tours in Dublin to multi-day tours around all of Ireland. Here is a list of my favorite tour companies in Ireland, each of which have something unique to offer:

1. Historical Walking Tours of Dublin

The city of Dublin is such a fascinating place to explore, and it’s full of historical spots that you might just wander past if you’re not with a guide from Historical Walking Tours of Dublin. They’ve been operating tours since 1986 and one of the reasons they’re so good is their guides all have postgrad history qualifications – but also know how to lead a tour with a good Irish sense of humor.

Each walking tour is just over two hours long and they start from the front gate of Trinity College at 11am every day, with an extra tour at 3pm from May to September. They’ll take you to many of the highlights of Dublin like the House of Lords, Temple Bar, Christ Church Cathedral, and Dublin Castle and you’ll end up with a great overview of Irish history. Tickets are 14 EUR.

2. Paddywagon Tours

An Irish born-and-bred tour company that started in 1998, Paddywagon Tours offers both day tours for lots of popular tourist attractions in Ireland as well as multi-day tours ranging from two to nine days long, with accommodation choices ranging between B&Bs and hostels.

If you’re time-pressed and looking for some day trips from Dublin to quickly see a bit more of Ireland, Paddywagon has trips to places like the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, and even up to the Giant’s Causeway and other highlights of Northern Ireland. Costs range from 45 EUR to 65 EUR for these trips. They also run day trips out of other centers like Belfast, Limerick, and Cork.

Paddywagon’s multi-day tours range from 149 EUR for a two-day trip up to 689 EUR for their All Ireland nine-day tour, with backpacker accommodation (or 999 EUR if you want B&B stays). Even though you could easily spend a month in Ireland, given its relatively small size you can actually get a lot out of nine days. If you’re a student they also run some student special trips at even lower costs so keep an eye out for them.

3. Shamrocker Adventures

Shamrocker is a great option for budget travelers looking for multi-day tours of Ireland. Their approach is to try and combine the best of independent travel and group trips. That means they give you choices like different levels of accommodation and you can self-cater when it comes to food. They also have great guides who are passionate Irish storytellers — even their bus drivers have a great sense of humor!

Tours range between three and seven days, with the shorter trips focusing on just one part of Ireland — the south or the west — and costing around 300 EUR per person. Shamrocker’s seven-day trip covers all the main sights like the Giant’s Causeway, Cliffs of Moher, Galway, and Blarney Castle and is 609 EUR for adults and 589 EUR for students.

4. Wolfhound Adventure Tours

Wolfhound Adventure Tours is a boutique tour company run by Trinity College history-graduate Dave O’Connor. Tour groups have a maximum of 12 travelers and tours include some biking and hiking, which are optional but definitely a big part of the fun.

Tours range between five and ten days — the shorter tours give you an option of going to the north to the Giant’s Causeway or heading west to see the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands, both of which are 985 EUR. Wolfhound trips can include kayaking, horseriding, whale watching, and even surfing lessons and are a great choice for anyone looking to get active!

5. Vagabond Tours

Vagabond Tours is an Irish company and offers two kinds of small group tours, Driftwood Tours if you want to take it easy, and Vagabond Tours which include activities like hiking, sea kayaking, and cycling.

Tours range in length from six to eleven days, and in price from 1,550 EUR to 2,900 EUR per person. They have some of the common itineraries such as a Northern Ireland tour taking in the Giant’s Causeway and Belfast and the Giant Irish tour which circumnavigates the country, but they also have a few specialty trips like a foodie tour, an adventure trip which includes a visit to the Skellig Islands, and a tour for history buffs focusing on castles and kingdoms.

Rob Rankin, co-founder of Vagabond Tours, is a huge advocate of responsible and sustainable tourism and the leader of Ecotourism Ireland, and Vagabond Tours has been eco-tourism gold-certified since 2017.

6. Extreme Ireland

Extreme Ireland offer adventure tours around Ireland, with several Wild Atlantic Way trips available, ranging from six to 12 days long. They take small groups (a maximum of 16 travelers) led by skilled guides who have all the skills necessary to help you have a safe and adventurous tour.

Their 12-day trip will take you all over Ireland — it doesn’t just show you the regular sightseeing highlights!. The tour also includes several bike rides, a stint of stand up paddleboarding, hikes along sea cliffs and wild coastlines, kayaking, and surfing. This one comes in at 2,200 EUR while their shorter tours start at 1,100 EUR.

7. Intrepid

An Intrepid trip is always a good option — they’re my go-to multi-day tour company no matter where in the world I’m heading. With small groups (a maximum of 12 travelers for Ireland), carefully-hired local guides, and a relaxed pace, Intrepid tours really can’t be beaten. They offer just one trip in Ireland but it covers all the major sights and attractions, an eight-day adventure that spans from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Killarney in the south-west.

Their Ireland tour will take you through Dublin and Galway and includes sightseeing hotspots like the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway, as well a chance to explore the Aran Islands. Accommodation is in a mix of hotels and hostels, with breakfast included. The tour costs 2,300 EUR per person.

***

From walking tours to help you understand the history and culture of the great city of Dublin to multi-day adventures circumnavigating the whole of the island, taking a tour in Ireland will make sure you get to know lots of interesting locals and learn more about what makes the Irish tick.

Whether it’s the crazy ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone, exploring the incredible landscapes in Northern Ireland Game of Thrones was filmed, or simply knowing which pub in Galway is the best spot for a Guinness, these Ireland tour companies will help make your Irish experience the best it can be!

Book Your Trip to Ireland: 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. I use them all the time. My favorite hostels in the country are:

  • Generator Hostel (Dublin) – Generator is one of the best hostel chains in Europe. Their places are always clean and comfortable, though a bit generic if you’re looking for something unique.
  • Barnacles Quay Street (Galway) – With free breakfast, a free walking tour, and lots of fun events, this is a great hsotel for budget travelers looking to be social.
  • Kinlay House (Cork) – This is another social hostel that has lots of common area space, including an outdoor patio. The staff are great and the bathrooms clean (always a plus in hostels!).
  • Neptunes Town Hostel (Killarney) – This hostel is in a great location and the staff are super friendly and helpful!

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 Ireland?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Ireland for even more planning tips!

The post The Best Tour Companies in Ireland appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Travel, Vacations, and the Issue of Time

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people lounging in beach chairs on a crowded beach
Posted: 10/14/19 | October 14th, 2019

When I was growing up, my family didn’t “travel.” Like most modern, middle-class American families, if we went anywhere, it was because we were on vacation — short leisure trips with a fixed start and end, tied to the calendar of the working year, centered more often than not around visiting relatives: to Philadelphia to see my cousins or long road trips to see my grandmother in Florida.

Long car rides, nights at big chain hotels, and visits to theme parks were par for the course.

When I was about eleven (and too young to really enjoy it), we went to Bermuda for a couple of days. And, when I was sixteen, we did take a cruise.

But that was the craziest we ever got.

We “traveled” like middle-class Americans were supposed to. There were no backpacking trips, camping excursions, or jaunts to exotic destinations for us. My friends and their families followed the same routine. They vacationed the way society told them to.

In my mind, this was travel: a planned pause in the rhythm of corporate life, the adult equivalent of being on school break. You worked hard, then treated yourself to an all-inclusive destination a short flight away, or spent your time away from the office in some relative’s living room. You took just enough time off that you could muster the strength to go to work every ordinary weekday for decades, until it was time for that fabled retirement when life could truly begin.

Travel was a time-consuming undertaking you did when you were older, retired, or rich. Or when you were a broke college student and didn’t have a care in the world. That was when you could really see the world and get to understand it.

It wasn’t for the rest of us adults. We had to work. We only had enough time for a vacation.

Growing up in my little vacation bubble, I never realized there was a world beyond hotels, cruises, resorts, and giant bus tours that shuttle you from attraction to attraction. As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know.

So when I first met backpackers on a trip to Thailand, I was shocked. Learning about the backpacking culture on that trip created a paradigm shift in my worldview. I suddenly realized there was more than my bubble. It was like I was seeing life for the first time.

So I came home, quit my job, and went traveling.

I thought of myself as a traveler: an intrepid person peeling back the layers of the world in hopes of getting a deeper understanding of my place in it while simultaneously meeting cool people, having exciting experiences, and getting a little drunk along the way.

One of the most frequently asked questions on my book tour was about maximizing your trip. “I don’t have ten years to be a nomad, Matt. What can I do in just a week?”

Movies, media, and pop culture have taught us that vacations are what you do when you’re a working adult.

Travel is what you do when you have time.

Who can be an intrepid traveler when you only have a week to see a city and a long list of things to see?

When someone tells you “We’re going traveling”, you tend to think of it as something with time. We’ve been programmed to think that way.

Yet, as I mention in my book, travel isn’t really about a length of time. It is a way of thinking.

Whether two days or two weeks or two years, travel is a state of mind.

I define “travel” as including some exploration, digging below the surface. It is external: learning about the world and the people in it. It is also internal: trying new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. It is also about getting lost or confused and finding your way out.

That can happen in a day, a month, a week, or a year.

Don’t think of travel as something that necessarily takes longer than a vacation.

Don’t think of it as something that only certain demographics can do.

Don’t think of it as something that requires superhuman powers or energy.

Think of it as something you can do when you put yourself out there, try to meet new people, break out of your comfort zone, and challenge yourself.

If you’re heading off to Paris and want really learn about the city, don’t think “Well, we only have a week. There’s so much to do. We’ll learn more when we come back.”

Your trip is your own. Do what you want.

Throw away the to do list. Break away from the crowds that line the Louvre and the buses that drop you off along a predetermined route. Forget all that. There’s no such thing as must-see anyway.

Think to you yourself “What do I do here if I had all the time in the world? How would I visit this city?”

Then do that.

Sign up for a new activity like a cooking class or a weird walking tour. Attend a local meet-up. Use the sharing economy to meet locals. Leave your phone at hotel, get off social media, and go for a walk. Eat at the local market.

Let the days fill themselves in.

Travel is the most magical when you let the days just unfold. It’s the random, unplanned encounters we all remember most.

That can happen no matter how long your trip is.

There’s nothing wrong with a vacation. We all need time to unwind. But let’s put aside this notion that travel requires more time than we get. It doesn’t.

Travel is not about time. It’s about mindset.

So take the traveler’s mindset with you on your next trip.

Put down your “must see” checklist, go with the flow, try new things, meet new people, and push yourself to new limits.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them both all the time.

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

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

The post Travel, Vacations, and the Issue of Time appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Is it Time to Break Up with Airbnb?

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a cozy apartment with a couch and hanging plants
Posted: 10/08/19 | October 7th, 2019

There is no denying that Airbnb has changed how we travel. It got people out of the hotel/hostel quandary, gave locals a way to monetize their extra rooms and earn more income, and got tourists into different parts of cities, spreading the benefits of tourism around to a wider part of the community.

It wasn’t the first company to do this, but it made this kind of travel widespread and socially acceptable. The idea of “renting someone’s home” is now seen, not as weird or unsafe, but as a perfectly normal way to see a destination.

I’ve been an Airbnb user since its early days (it began in 2008) and have had some wonderful experiences using the service: the Swiss couple who made and shared dinner with me, the folks in Paris who left me wine as a welcome gift, the retirees in Tours who put a candle in my breakfast croissant for my birthday, the couple in NZ who gave me veggies from their garden, and countless other wonderful experiences where I got to meet locals and learn aspects of life that I might not have otherwise. (I’ve also hosted some really fabulous people too. The site works both ways!)

Over the last few years, I had gotten out of the habit of using Airbnb, instead staying with friends, in hostels, or hotels on points. However, while I was on my book tour over the summer, I decided to start using the service again.

I was nervous about doing so though.

From overtourism to hosts with multiple listings to companies using it to run hotels to a general “whatever” attitude toward complaints, there are a lot of problems with Airbnb. It is no longer the whole “people renting out their room for extra money” service it markets itself as.

I’ve read all the stories. I’ve seen the data.

With over six million listings, Airbnb is one of the biggest booking sites out there. In the first quarter of 2019, it booked 91 million room nights. By comparison, Expedia booked 80.8 million.

But I figured there had to be some gems on the site.

And what kind of travel expert would I be if I didn’t know Airbnb’s current state?

I went in determined to not rent places that were not people’s homes — that is, any rentals run by folks with multiple listings or property management companies, which have the effect of raising rents for everyone. While Airbnb has a lot of problems, the “commercialization” of the service is the biggest.

The growing number of people buying property just to rent it out on Airbnb is driving rent up for locals1 and forcing them out of the city. A recent study from the Institut d’Economia de Barcelona shows that rent in Barcelona’s most touristy areas has increased by as much as 7% between 2012 and 2016.2

Furthermore, in 2016 (the most recent data I could find), true home sharing, where the owner is present during the guest’s stay, accounts for less than 20% of Airbnb’s business in the United States; 81% of Airbnb’s revenue nationwide — $4.6 billion — comes from whole-unit rentals where the owner is not present.

A search on the website Inside Airbnb shows that a high percentage of units are rented by people with multiple listings: in Venice, out of 8,469 listings, 68.6% of hosts have multiple listings; in Barcelona, out of 18,302 listings, 67.1% of hosts have multiple listings; and in Los Angeles, out of 44,504 listings, 57.8% of hosts have multiple listings.

That doesn’t really scream the “just a person renting out their extra space” model the company likes to tout.

And I found avoiding that a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Even having spent hours trying to weed those kinds of homes out, I was fooled in London, DC, and Santa Monica: those listings existed solely to be rented out on Airbnb. Those pictures that made it seem lived in? Faked. (And the place in London, which was supposed to be a room in a guy’s house, was just a room…but in a house for Airbnb guests.)

All that time spent trying to do the right thing…and I still failed!

As this happened over and over again, I thought to myself: Is it time to break up with Airbnb? Was using Airbnb was worth the cost it exacts on residents and the time spent trying to find gems in vain?

Being a responsible traveler is really important to me — but not contribute to the problems Airbnb causes.

Airbnb is one of the biggest drivers of overtourism. It has created a lot of new accommodation for travelers, which in turn contributes to higher tourism numbers.3 On the one hand, that’s good: cheaper accommodation = more tourists = more revenue. But, when unregulated and combined with the issues highlighted above, increased tourism kills the very places we love. It becomes a vicious cycle: more tourists = more money = more properties on Airbnb = fewer local residents. However, thankfully, as I highlight in this article, a lot of locales are fighting back and beginning to restrict the service.

Moreover, the company doesn’t really take action against hosts behave badly. From spying on guests to denying last-minute bookings to substandard conditions to fake reviews, complaints against hosts go unattended until they become news stories like this:

As such, I’ve found the customer service to be really terrible and slanted toward hosts. There are a lot of protections for hosts but not guests. If I cancel, I have to pay a fee. If the host cancels, there’s little punishment. When talking about my recent experiences with Airbnb on Twitter and Facebook, I found I was not alone. A lot of people have noticed a decline in the quality of the service lately. They still use it, but I was surprised that so many people didn’t do so as much as they used to. Here are some examples:

Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review
Airbnb poor customer review

There are plenty of people who are still having wonderful experiences with the service. As a whole, I still like it. There are some hidden gems, wonderful people, and cool experiences on the website, especially when you get out of the big cities. (And, if you stick to staying in people’s spare rooms, you solve a lot of the overtourism and housing issues the service creates.)

But, given the social problems it causes, the poor customer service, the hassle of dealing with hosts, the crapshoot in quality, the cleaning and other fees that make the service’s costs on par with traditional accommodation options, I’d often rather just book a regular hostel, hotel, or B&B. Those are simple, easy, and straightforward. (And, unlike the Airbnb I had in D.C., will come with rooms that actually lock!)

I don’t want to contribute to overtourism. I don’t want to price residents out of their homes. I don’t give my money to a company that doesn’t want to be a responsible stakeholder. (I haven’t even got to the lengths the company goes to fight against oversight, taxes, and regulation.)

And I don’t have all day to spend finding a room!

And I’m not the only one having second thoughts. Look at this survey I conducted on Twitter about using the service:

Those are not numbers I’d want to see if I was Airbnb. It’s clear, for most of us, the sentiment has shifted away from the service as it’s become more commercialized.

I’m not fully ready to give up on the service quite yet. I still think you can find some hidden gems and meet some great people.

And maybe their upcoming IPO will change its ways by bringing in new stockholders, activist investors, and more attention (stockholders don’t like negative news stories that lowers their stock price!).

Then again, maybe it won’t, and Airbnb will only get worse and I’ll have to stop using it altogether.

Only time will tell.

But I think the situation is bad enough where one needs to be wary of the service and use it with extreme care.

It’s not the same as it used to be.

Notes:
1: Since my team and I have been using the website a lot this year, we’re updating our guide to Airbnb to reflect changes in the service. It will be out in a few weeks.

2: You can also find another study done by California State University here.

3: Airbnb is not the prime cause of overtourism, but it definitely contributes greatly; the company’s desire to turn a blind eye to the problem is part of my problem with it.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them both all the time.

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

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

The post Is it Time to Break Up with Airbnb? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Is Bangkok Safe to Visit?

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One of the many temples in Bangkok, Thailand
Posted: 10/5/2019 | October 5th, 2019

Bangkok can be an overwhelming destination for tourists, and it is depicted in many Western films as seedy, gritty, and intense, with wild nightlife and never-ending traffic.

Most visitors don’t stay there for long, but if you’re patient and begin to peel back the layers, you’ll discover a complex, beautiful city filled with some of the friendliest and most thoughtful people you will ever meet (Thailand is called the Land of Smiles for a reason!) and delicious street food.

But is Bangkok a safe place to visit?

Just like any major city, you must be alert and aware of your surroundings, but it is pretty safe, and the risk of serious danger is very low (unless you are up to something illegal). You are most likely to encounter small scams designed to get a few extra bucks from you (more on that later).

Here are a few ways to stay extra safe in Bangkok:

1. Be alert as a pedestrian.
Traffic in Bangkok is chaotic — many motorbikes will run red lights or even drive on the sidewalks! — so it’s always a good idea to be cautious when crossing the streets and walking around town. Look both ways and stay alert. (And, remember, they drive on the left side of the road (British side) so be sure to look and stay alert!

2. Carry a photocopy of your passport with you.
This is a no-brainer for anyone who travels overseas. Put your real passport away in the lockbox provided by your hotel or hostel, and carry around a photocopy or a digital version on your phone or in your email.

3. Never leave your drink unattended.
This is another universal safety tip. Drinks can be spiked at any moment, so always keep yours close, or hand it to someone you trust if you need to.

4. Do not take or accept any recreational drugs.
Thailand has a strict no-drugs policy; anyone caught using or carrying illegal substances will go to jail, or in rare instances receive the death penalty.

5. Don’t talk about the royal family.
Under the lèse majesté law, you are forbidden to speak negatively of the king and the royal family. If you are caught insulting the monarchy, you will be sentenced to 3–15 years in prison. Other countries may have lèse majesté laws, but Thailand’s enforcement is the world’s harshest. Over the years, people have faced lèse majesté charges over minor offenses: a woman who wore black on the king’s birthday, a man who mocked the king’s dog on the internet, and individuals who have liked Facebook posts regarding the king, to name a few.

It’s crucial you not discuss the king or royal family publicly or with locals, or you will face major consequences that all the travel insurance in the world will not protect you from!

6. Buy travel insurance.
No one wants to think about things going wrong on their trip, but being prepared and buying travel insurance is something I do before every trip. You should have it whenever you travel, but in a country where petty theft and scams are, unfortunately, a little more common, it’s extra important. And of course, it’s also important for covering any medical or other emergency situation you might encounter. Be a smart traveler — buy travel insurance.

How to Avoid Scams in Bangkok

Bangkok is generally safe for travelers and backpackers, but it’s also incredibly hectic. Petty theft (including bag snatching) is the most common type of crime you’ll face. Also, some people will try to rip you off, including taxi drivers who refuse to turn on their meters. Avoiding travel scams requires a lot of common sense and a healthy dose of suspicion. (Also read this post on travel scams to avoid.)

Here are the two most common scams to be aware of:

Taxi scams: You hop into a taxi and realize the meter isn’t running. You mention this to the driver and their response is that the meter is “broken,” and he quotes you a price that is outrageously high. Or you might notice that the meter is working but the fare is increasing as fast as a bullet train in Japan.

To avoid this scam, do your research and get an idea of how much a ride should cost from your hostel or hotel staff before hailing a taxi. In my experience, if the cabbie tries to negotiate the rate, I use the one quoted to me though my prior research, and if he refuses, I get out and find someone who will turn the meter on. (Ideally, use only taxis with working meters.)

If the meter looks as though it’s rising unusually fast, ask the driver to pull over and get out immediately.

Another situation you may encounter is your taxi driver “taking the scenic route.” You’ll end up sitting in traffic, and the cabbie will make money at your expense. We live in the age of technology, so if you’re suspicious of your driver’s route, pull your smartphone out and use Google Maps to find the quickest way to your destination. (Better yet, find out the optimum route ahead of time.)

Don’t hesitate to show the phone to your driver and insist on taking this route. Download a map of the city using Google Maps or MAPS.ME so you always have access to it offline.

If you end up with a bad taxi experience, take a photo of the driver’s ID/registration number and report him to Thailand’s tourism board. And always, always use only official taxis.

The tourist site is “closed”/tuk-tuk ride scam: This is probably the most common scam in Bangkok. When visiting tourist attractions, often around Wat Phra Kaew, the Grand Palace, or Wat Arun, someone will randomly come up to you and say that the place is closed for a special ceremony or for lunch hour. Then, this overly helpful individual will offer to take you to places that are open. While touring the attractions, the driver will take you to a gem shop, a souvenir shop, or a tailor where they receive a commission.

A few hours later, the driver will drop you off at your original location once it’s “reopened,” and by that time you’ve realized that the site was open the entire time — you were just in the wrong part of the building.

This is where your good sense and confidence come into play. Avoid talking to these locals, or firmly say “no thanks” and walk away. Or find the main entrance or ticket counter and see for yourself!

Another thing to note is that most attractions don’t close for lunch — they close for the day. Look up the hours of operation before you go, so you know what to expect — opening and closing times are almost always available online.

FAQ on Bangkok Safety

Below is a list of some of the common questions I get on safety in Bangkok, so you can be better prepared for your trip!

Is street food safe?
Yes, absolutely! Bangkok is considered the street food capital of the world, and you will not find a shortage of stalls selling delicious local dishes on every corner. With that said, if there is something that doesn’t smell or look “kosher,” then it might be best to avoid. If a street vendor has local customers, you can usually trust that it’s safe. (If you are overwhelmed with where to start, I’d recommend reading this blog post on how to tackle the street food culture in Bangkok.)

Is the tap water safe?
According to the Bangkok Metropolitan Waterworks Authority, it follows the World Health Organization standards for providing safe drinking water for the population. However, although the water is treated in plants, the pipes it travels through can be very old and dirty, which can lead to contamination. Locals usually boil the tap water first before drinking it, or they will purchase bottled water. Use a Steripen or Lifestraw to ensure that your water is safe to drink. Also, bring a reusable water bottle to cut down on your plastic consumption.

Are taxis safe?
Taxis are safe and affordable and my preferred way to get around town. However, you will come across the occasional meter or “scenic route” scam. When you get into a cab, always check that it has a working meter and agree on a route prior to the start of your journey. (If you’ve read the section on taxi scams above, you will be well prepared for this type of situation.)

Is Bangkok safe for solo travelers?
Bangkok is safe for solo travelers, and a great first city to solo-travel in. I’ve been going there for the past 15 years and have rarely encountered any problems.

However, there are areas of Bangkok that are all about partying and drinking, and the biggest incidents happen when people are drunk and stupid. Don’t get too drunk. Also avoid illegal substances at all cost — Thailand is very, very strict on drugs, and you’re going to be screwed if you get caught. Always trust your gut instinct; if you don’t do it at home, don’t do it when you’re in Bangkok.

Is Bangkok safe for solo female travelers?
Solo female travelers should feel safe touring the city. It’s very easy to meet other travelers, especially female ones, in Bangkok. Some precautions and planning are in order, though: Always have a downloaded map and translation app so you can find your way home or ask for help if you need it. Don’t flaunt any valuables, and avoid taking taxis alone at night. If you’re still nervous about heading somewhere, ask to join a group at your hostel; groups are less likely to be victims of scammers or theft, and you’ll feel safer that way.

Here are a few helpful posts on safety written by our solo female travel experts:

***

Bangkok has an electric energy to it, and with its endless supply of things to see and do, you will never be bored. I finally began to love the city when I got know it beyond the temples and the typical tourist sites. Once I found hidden markets and amazing street stalls frequented only by locals, became friends with residents, and understood how Bangkok operated, I understood why people loved it so much.

Like any major city, Bangkok comes with its fair share of scammers and unruly drivers. If you are smart and alert, trust your instincts, and follow this safety guide, you’ll have an unforgettable experience while staying safe.

Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Bangkok!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to BangkokMy detailed, 80-page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guidebooks and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money while in Bangkok, a city I used to call home (so I know it really well!). You’ll find suggested itineraries and budgets, ways to save money, on- and off-the-beaten-path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more! Click here to learn more and get started!

Book Your Trip to Bangkok: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Get Your Guide
Check out my detailed guide to planning a visit to Bangkok with suggested itineraries and information on places to stay, things to do, where to eat, and how to get around. Just click here to get the guide and continue planning today!

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

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use it all the time. My favorite hostels in Bangkok are:

  • Lub d Bangkok Silom – Lub d Silom is more of a European-style hostel than a traditional Asian guesthouse. It’s in a popular spot for backpackers looking to stay somewhere other than Khao San Road, is safe (they use electronic key locks), and the staff speaks fluent English.
  • Golden Mountain Hostel – This small, family-run hostel is one of the newest and nicest hostels in the city. The dorm beds are actually cubbies built into the wall for added privacy, and each room sleeps eight people. This is a great hostel if you want some peace and quiet.
  • Mad Monkey – Mad Monkey is a backpacker institution near Khao San Road. It’s is probably the best hostel in Bangkok if you want to party. It has a restaurant, pool, and tour desk with some of the cheapest and most competitive prices in town. 

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 — and I think they will help you too!

The post Is Bangkok Safe to Visit? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Best Tour Companies in Egypt

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The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
Posted: 10/5/2019 | October 5th, 2019

Egypt is a country that tops the bucket-list country for many travelers. It’s a country filled with incredible relics of ancient history, from the Pyramids and Great Sphinx of Giza, and offers tons of incredible activities for travelers of all walks of life. Floating down the Nile River on a traditional felucca, exploring the tombs of Tutankhamen and other pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings, snorkeling and diving in the coral fantasyland of the Red Sea — there’s just so many amazing parts of Egypt to amaze and enthrall you.

These days, Egypt is a destination many travelers shy away from. Given that there have been some terrorist attacks targeting tourists over the last couple of decades and that people are still wary of the changes in government since the Arab Spring, those concerns are understandable.

However, since 2017, tourism numbers have begun to increase again. In fact, they are growing so fast they might hit an all-time record in 2019 or 2020.

Things have been changing for the better in Egypt and it’s now a safe country to visit for the intrepid traveler. That means it’s time to start planning your dream trip to this diverse and historic country.

While I am a huge fan of solo travel, distances between the most popular sights in Egypt are pretty far. You can expect to spend a full day or night traveling by road or rail between Cairo and Luxor, for example, so joining an organized tour can help you make the most of your time.

And it can also save you some money, too!

Tours in Egypt often work out to be cheaper than trying to put together your own trip as some will include domestic airfare for prices cheaper than you’ll be able to get on your own.

Taking a tour with a reputable company also ensures that you’ll have safe detours with someone who really knows the lay of the land and will keep you informed of any risks. Knowledgeable tour guides also make for a more interesting trip — which is why tours in Egypt are so popular.

Here is a list of the best tour companies in Egypt, offering everything from day trips around Cairo to multiday tours around the country:

1. Intrepid

Intrepid is one of my favorite tour companies in the world.

I’ve been on a handful of their tours over the years to destinations all around the world and have yet to be disappointed. Their local guides provide invaluable insight and they are dedicated to making environmentally friendly choices too.

And the company just hires really awesome people too.

In Egypt, Intrepid has tours that range between eight and fifteen days. To be able to see enough in just eight days, they fly you between Cairo and the south, so the cheaper trip is actually the 15-day one, which uses a mix of bus, boat, and train travel, starting around $1,200 USD. Intrepid also has some specialized offerings, with a nine-day trip for travelers aged 18–29, trips especially for families, and also one just for solo travelers.

If you’re keen to explore beyond Egypt, Intrepid also offers a range of longer tours that take in Jordan, Israel, and Palestine as well.

As a reader of this site, you also get access to exclusive deals and sales so click on over to their site and see what tours are on sale now!

2. Memphis Tours

One of the first tour companies in Egypt, Memphis Tours has been around since 1955. It offers a huge variety of tours – from half- or full-day tours in Cairo or Alexandria to snorkeling or camel-riding trips out of resort destinations like Sharm el-Sheikh, ranging between $35 and $90 USD per person.

They also offer a selection of cruises both on the Nile and on Lake Nasser. The popular Luxor-to-Aswan trip along the Nile can be made in a variety of pretty luxurious ships; prices are around $500 USD per person for a four-day trip.

Memphis Tours also offer fully organized multi-day trips that last between 3–15 days. Many of these take in the key sights, like the Pyramids, a Nile cruise, and the Luxor and Karnak Temples, and typically fly you back to Cairo. The costs vary depending on the extra activities involved but are pretty reasonable: small group tours covering the main sights from Cairo to Luxor start at $1,100 USD. They also offer some specialized tours, such as one specifically designed to accommodate wheelchair users.

3. Look at Egypt Tours

Look at Egypt Tours is another local company that offers both day and multiday tours. It specializes in having knowledgeable guides that make the history of Egypt really come alive, giving incredible insight into modern-day Egyptian life as well.

The company also has a sense of social responsibility too, using locally owned restaurants and hotels on all trips and hiring guides from communities throughout the country.

Look at Egypt Tours runs a variety of day trips out of the main centers, including Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Sharm el-Sheikh, ranging in cost between $50 and $150 USD per person, depending on the destination and the group size.

Multi-day tours include lots of options too; these last around 8–10 days and cost between $1,500 and $2,000 USD. There are also some specialized trips, like a two-week archaeological tour, the perfect choice for any history buffs (or Indiana Jones fans!).

4. On the Go Tours

On the Go Tours has been running tours to a variety of countries for a couple of decades now, but it all started in Egypt, where the two founders met. The company focuses on sustainable travel and supports local communities, and it hires local guides who have studied Egyptology at a college level as well.

In Egypt, they run several great-value group tours, like an eight-day trip from Cairo to Luxor for $400 USD, which includes the Pyramids of Giza, the incredible Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the temples at Luxor, a two-night felucca cruise on the Nile, a visit to the Valley of the Kings, and more. Accommodations are more budget-oriented than many other tour companies, making this a great option for backpackers.

If your timing and budget are more flexible, you might also take a look at some of On the Go’s festival tours, timed to celebrations like the Abu Simbel Sun Festival or the King Ramses Sun Festival. These tours are typically around ten days long and range between $1,600 and $2,800 USD per person, depending on whether they include internal flights.

5. Jakada Tours Egypt

Jakada Tours is a smaller company that offers private tours as well as group trips with a focus on budget mid-range travel.

Trips covering many of Egypt’s highlights and lasting between seven and ten days range from $600 to $1,000 USD. If you’re on your second trip to Egypt or have some extra time, Jakada also offers a range of more unusual tours, like spending time at the Cairo camel market!

The company also makes sure its guides are really knowledgeable, not just about ancient history but modern Egyptian culture too, as well as all the best local tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your stay.

6. Exodus Travels

Exodus offers trips worldwide and has a reputable social conscience; they aim to give back to the local communities they are a part of. In Egypt, they support Animal Care in Egypt (ACE), and its tours often include an option to visit the charity’s facility.

Exodus offers a nine-day Nile cruise from Luxor, which is a good compromise between luxury and price (around $1,400 USD per person, all-inclusive), with a maximum of 20 passengers. The company also has a longer trip that takes in key sights like the Valley of the Kings as well as Alexandria; this two-week tour starts at $2,000 USD.

7. Beyond the Nile Tours

Beyond the Nile Tours is another Egypt-based tour company using local, highly educated guides with lots of historical and cultural knowledge. It offers three tours, ranging between eight days and two weeks in length; on all of them, you can be flexible with your budget, as some activities, like a balloon ride over the Pyramids ($100 USD), are optional.

All these tours kick off in Cairo with a full day exploring what we all dream of seeing — the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphnix — along with the Egyptian Museum to put the history into context. Then you’re flown down to Luxor and cruise from there to the Valley of the Kings, among other places. On the longer trips, you can choose to travel back north more slowly, or you can include several days relaxing at a Red Sea resort. Tour prices range from $1,200 to $1,400 USD per person, with some additional costs for extra activities.

***

As much as I love solo travel, planning a trip to Egypt is much easier with a tour company. While you probably know that you want to see the Pyramids, the Nile, and other historical sites, getting around is not that easy to organize in advance, so it’s good to have the local knowledge of Egyptian guides to make sure you’re both safe and getting the most out of your trip.

So whether you’re after a short tour hitting the highlights of Egypt in a week or have more time to explore the country a little more slowly or even spend some time relaxing at the Red Sea, you’ll find a tour company to help you out.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post The Best Tour Companies in Egypt appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Best Ghost Tours in Edinburgh

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A black and white photo of the historic architecture of Edinburgh
Posted: 10/5/2019 | October 5th, 2019

When it comes to spooky cities, Edinburgh takes the cake. It’s often considered one of the most haunted cities in the entire world — and anyone who has been will be hard pressed to argue!

When I was there a few years ago, I took part in some of the city’s many ghost tours. And there are a lot to choose from!

Regardless of whether you believe in ghosts or not, these tours take you on an adventure that not only teaches you a part of Edinburgh’s history but also leaves you feeling just a little “weird.”

Or, if you are like me, scared shitless.

While I hate horror movies because I always find them too unbelievable, as Alfred Hitchcock said, a good fright comes from what people don’t see or know.

When I finished my ghost tours, I was so spooked that I refused to sleep with the light off that night. The only other time I felt such unease was after I saw The Blair Witch Project.

Whether you’re looking for a fright or just want to learn about this historic city’s spooky past, you’ll definitely want to take a ghost tour during your visit. Here are the best ghost tours in Edinburgh to help you make the most out of your next visit:

1. City of the Dead

City of the Dead is one of the top-rated ghost tours in Edinburgh and it’s the company I went with during my first visit to the vaults.

The underground vaults were built in 1788 and used as storage space and workshops for businesses near the South Bridge. However, the bridge was poorly constructed, and water from the surface would leak down into the vaults. The vaults were then abandoned in 1795 and became slums, turning into a red-light district with countless brothels and pubs.

Additionally, the city’s poor called these vaults home. The rooms were cramped and dark and had poorly circulated air and no sunlight, running water, or sanitation. Crime was widespread, but by 1820, the leaking became so intense that even the squatters had left.

The story I remember most is of a girl and her mother. The little girl felt someone grab her hand. Thinking it was her mom, she grabbed back. But the hand, according to the story, “felt weird” and slowly kept squeezing her hand until it hurt. When the girl said, “You’re hurting me,” the mother said, “I’m over here, honey.” The guide, moving the flashlight to the girl, found that she was standing alone. Who held her hand? How did she get separated? I don’t know. Maybe they made the story up. Or all the other stories for that matter. But moving through the vaults in the dark, with your mind in overdrive, creates an atmosphere of unease that you want on a ghost tour.

Of course, the guy jumping out of the corner in the dark doesn’t help at all either!

+44 131-225-9044, cityofthedeadtours.com. Tours are available daily at 3:30pm and 8:30pm (limited hours in the winter, check the website for availability). Tours last around 90 minutes and are not suitable for children under 12. Tickets are 13 GBP per person.

2. Free Ghost Tour

When it comes to free haunted walking tours, this is your best choice in the city. Free Ghost Tours offers daily tours that depart from the Royal Mile, covering all the major sites and stories of the city such as the real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the haunted graveyard, with trials, and the Westport Murderers.

If you’re not looking for a terrifying experience, this is a good tour for you as it’s suitable for children. Just be sure to tip your guides at the end (the entire tour runs on tips, so be generous!).

+44 772-191-3031, freeghosttour.com. Tours run nightly at 5pm, 7pm, and 9:30pm. Tours last 90 minutes. Admission is free — just be sure to tip your guide!

3. Mercat Tours

In addition to their historical walking tours, Mercat Tours also offer 5 different ghost tours, including tours for children as well as tours for adults only as well. They have tours in the haunted vaults, the graveyard, and through the Old Town of the city

This is the only company in the city that offers vault tours during the day, which is a good way to beat the crowds. They also have tours available in French and German too!

+44 131-225-5445, mercattours.com/tours/ghost-tours. Individual tour times range from 11am to 10pm. See the website for more details. Tours range from 1-2 hours and tickets start at 14 GBP per person, with discounts available for students, children, and seniors.

4. The Ghost Bus

The Ghost Bus is a ghost tour on wheels, providing a spooky ghost tour with a comedic touch. You’ll be whisked around the city in a black double-decker bus from the 1960s while being informed and entertained along the way. The tour guides are all trained actors, giving this tour a much more theatrical touch.

The buses are decorated too, making it a fully immersive experience. If you’re looking for something more unique than a standard walking tour, this is it!

+44 844-567-8666, theghostbustours.com/edinburgh. Tours are offered daily at 7:30pm and 9pm. Tours last 75 minutes. Tickets are 17 GBP for adults, with discounts available for students, seniors, and families.

5. Auld Reekie Tours

Like Mercat, Auld Reekie Tours offer a few different tour choices for anyone looking for a fright. They have vault and graveyard tours, as well as an adult-only tour for anyone looking for an extra scare. If you’re looking for a frightening tour, check out their nightly Terror Tour. It’s only suitable for 18+ and will definitely leave you wishing you had a nightlight when you get home!

Not only do they have the standard vaults tour but you can actually book out the vaults for an overnight stay if you’re feeling like an extra scare (it’s not cheap, but it would definitely be a memorable experience!).

Tours operate daily from 10:30am-10pm. See the website for specific tour dates and times. Tours range from 75-90 minutes. Tickets start at 12 GBP for adults.

***

No matter which tour you choose or whether or not you believe in ghosts, like all good ghost tours, haunted houses, and Halloween exhibits, these tours do a great job of making you feel uncomfortable by playing on your innate fear of the unknown. Are these places really haunted or is your mind just playing tricks on you?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter — what matters is that you had fun and learned something about Edinburgh and it’s spooky past in the process.

Just keep the light on when you get back home. Trust me.

Book Your Trip to Edinburgh: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time. My favorite places to stay in Taipei are:

  • Castle Rock – This is my favorite hsotel in the city. It has plenty of common areas that make it easy to meet people and the location is perfect. it’s a great backpacker hostel!

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!gho

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

The post The Best Ghost Tours in Edinburgh appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to Save Money & Visit Rwanda on a Budget

Posted By : webmaster/ 10 0


two giraffes standing neck and neck in Rwanda
Posted: 10/3/2019 | October 3rd, 2019

In this guest post, Alicia Erickson offers some handy tips on how you can visit Rwanda on a budget! She spent some time living there and, today, is sharing her tips on the country (one I haven’t got to yet!). She’s a freelance writer so I don’t have a blog to link too! Here are her tips:

Rwanda, a tiny nation nestled between Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the center of the African continent, is filled to the brim with rainforests, wildlife, lakes, and volcanoes. It is aptly nicknamed “the land of a thousand hills.”

Rwanda also happens to be one of the safest and easiest nations to navigate in East Africa. Sure, this nation might have a bit of a reputation that proceeds itself. But the genocide that ravaged the country ended more than 25 years ago. Over the past two decades, innovation, environmental sustainability, and women’s rights have been at the forefront of Rwanda’s rapid development.

You might wonder, is Rwanda budget-friendly? Sub-Saharan Africa in general can be a tricky place to travel cheaply, as it is often perceived as a high-end safari destination. Rwanda is no exception. Much of its recent tourism development has been geared toward high-end luxury lodges and trekking with the coveted mountain gorillas, which costs a lofty $1,500 for a permit.

However, don’t let the hefty price tags associated with gorillas and luxury lodges deter you from experiencing the quiet magic that Rwanda exudes. Having lived and traveled there on and off from 2015 to the present, I have found a number of tricks for saving money and exploring lesser-known destinations that are very cheap and sometimes free! Without a doubt, Rwanda on a budget is absolutely possible, if you don’t mind forgoing some of the higher-end tourist options.

Here is how to save money and visit Rwanda on a Budget:

 

How to Save Money on Accommodation

Views over the twin lakes in Musanze and the Virunga Mountain Range
Although there are many high-end hotels and lodges, there are also a handful of hostels, reasonably priced guesthouses, and even some Airbnbs, not to mention camping. I’ve used all these options in both Kigali and destinations across the country.

Budget options tend to be simple but clean. Be aware that water and electricity reliability fluctuates, though they tend to be more consistent than in neighboring countries.

  • Hostels: Hostels are relatively new to Rwanda, but there are a few to choose from. A dorm room in a hostel such as Discover Rwanda Kigali or Mamba Guesthouse runs $10–15 USD/night.
  • Guesthouses: Hotels and lodges tend to cost well over $100 USD/night. However, there are also a number that offer private rooms for about $20-45 USD/night. The Nest in Kigali is a great bed-and-breakfast option, with private rooms costing about $50 USD/night.
  • Airbnbs: Airbnbs are increasingly popular in Kigali, Lake Kivu, and Musanze. Prices for a private room start at $20 USD/night.
  • Camping: Camping is widespread in national parks such as Nyungwe Forest and Akagera and often available on the sites of many guesthouses. Keep in mind that evenings can get cool and that camping is a bit of a challenge during rainy season. Costs run $8–15 USD/person/night. Akagera National Park, Red Rocks in Musanze, and Kitabi Eco-Center in Nyungwe all offer tents for rent.

How to Save Money on Transportation

Views over the hills of Kigali

  • Motorbikes: I found public motorcycles to be the fastest and cheapest way to get around within cities. Motorbike trips within Kigali cost 300-1,000 RWF ($0.40–1.10 USD).
  • Taxis: Taxis are more expensive and harder to find. However, when it rains, motorbikes don’t drive, in which case taxis are the best alternative. An average ride within Kigali costs 2,500-5,000 RWF ($2.70–5.40 USD).
  • Buses: When venturing out of town, public buses are cheap, safe, and relatively reliable throughout the country. The major bus station in Kigali is Nyabugogo. Countrywide buses cost 2,000-4,000 RWF ($2.20–4.30 USD).
  • Car rentals: There are a handful of destinations, such as the national parks, that are better explored by car or motorbike, both of which are available to rent. Renting a car starts at $50 USD/day, depending on type of vehicle.

How to Save Money on Food

a man in Rwanda standing in a supermarket surrounded by fresh fruit
Kigali is rich in international food, though eating out can get expensive quickly. Expect costs to be on par with European or American restaurants.

Unfortunately, street food is essentially nonexistent because it is seen as dirty. Instead, seek out hole-in-the-wall local restaurants serving rice and beans, ugali (a thick, maize-based porridge), brochettes (grilled meat), and potatoes. Wine and cocktails are extremely expensive and are average quality at best, so local beers are your best bet to quench your thirst.

Here are some average food and drink costs:

  • Lunch buffet of local food: all you can eat for 2,000 RWF ($2.20 USD).
  • Dinner at local restaurant: 3,000–8,000 RWF ($3.25–10 USD). In Kigali, head to Car Wash for brochettes and Panorama Ten to Two for grilled lake fish.
  • Produce at local market: 100-1,000 RWF ($0.11–1.10 USD), depending on the product. Fruits such as mangoes, passion fruit, and tree tomatoes are cheap and delicious. Always bargain!
  • Lunch or dinner at an average-priced Western restaurant: 4,000-6,000 RWF ($4.50–6.50 USD). Try Meze Fresh, Borneo, Now Now Rolex, and Baso Patisserie for tasty and filling international cuisine that won’t break the bank.
  • Dinner at an international restaurant: 12,000-18,000 RWF ($13–20 USD). If you’re going to splurge, Kigali has some phenomenal Indian food (Khana Kazana) and French food (Poivre Noir).
  • Local beer: 1,000 RWF ($1.10) for Mutzig or other local beer
  • Wine/cocktail: 5,000-10,000 RWF ($5.50–11 USD)

Suggeted Budgets for Rwanda

two zebras in Rwanda
You can save a lot of money by traveling slowly and independently and going a bit off the beaten track. While a lot of activities and extras aren’t excruciatingly expensive, they can definitely throw off a daily budget.

On a day when you’re camping or staying in a dorm, eating at markets or local restaurants, and doing free activities using public transportation, you can get by with $25 USD/day.

If you rent a car for a few days, have the occasional night out, and budget in a couple excursions, such as game drives in Akagera or hiking Mt. Bisoke, your daily costs, averaged out over two weeks or so, will increase to around $50–75 USD/day.

9 Money Saving Tips for Rwanda

three women on the road in Akagera, Rwanda
Rwanda is pretty cheap to visit but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save on your trip. Here are some insider tips on how to save money in Rwanda without losing the great experience:

  1. Take local transportation wherever possible: Buses will get you to most major destinations, from which you can take public motorbikes to your final destination. Buses not only run to destinations within Rwanda but to the borders with the DRC, Uganda, and Tanzania, as well as to major East African cities, such as Kampala. The main bus station in Kigali is Nyabugogo. If you want to explore Rwanda more independently and cheaply than by car, consider renting a motorbike or bicycle in Kigali, depending on where you want to go.
  2. Motorbikes vs. taxis: Motorbikes are cheap, fast, and efficient. Public motorbike drivers wear red vests and carry an extra helmet for passengers. The average cost should be 100 RWF ($0.11 USD) per kilometer, but always make sure to bargain. Drivers don’t always know exact locations, so it is helpful to familiarize yourself with neighborhoods and reference points, such as a major hotel. Note that motorbikes usually don’t drive in the rain, in which case taxis or walking tend to be the only option. Taxis are much more expensive and less convenient in most other situations, unless carrying a lot of luggage.
  3. Consider walking: Walking isn’t always the fastest option in Kigali, given the hills, the fair distances between neighborhoods, and the fact that the city sits at an elevation of over 5,000 feet. However, it is also extremely safe, and walking is a great way to save money and to discover neighborhoods and side streets you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  4. Eat local: Western restaurants can get expensive. Eat at local buffets for a fast, filling, inexpensive meal, and shop at local markets and roadside stands for an abundance of cheap, fresh tropical fruits, which are always negotiable in cost.
  5. Bring a reusable water bottle: Water is not safe to drink from the tap, but many hotels and houses have filtered water to refill your bottle rather than buying new bottles.
  6. Go off the beaten path: Sure, Rwanda may be known for gorilla trekking and hiking Mt. Karisimbi, the highest peak in the Virunga range, but these come at high costs. Look for free activities, find off-the-beaten-path trails through small villages for endless days of hiking and exploration, and relax at the lake.
  7. Alternatives to popular activities: Named “the land of a thousand hills” for a reason, Rwanda is abundant in green hills and mountains that are ideal for hiking and biking. Trails extend throughout the country, dipping down into valleys of banana plantations and up around mountainous passes. If you’re feeling adventurous, find a motorbike or bicycle and do some exploring! If you’re aching for a volcano or primate experience, trek with chimpanzees in Nyungwe, observe golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park, or do a day hike up Mt. Bisoke, which are cheaper but still fulfilling alternatives.
  8. Avoid tour companies: Pre-booked activities and tours can get expensive, and traveling without them is straightforward. Due to the country’s small size and relatively well-developed transport system and infrastructure, it is pretty easy to travel independently. Tap into some of the resources I’ve provided below to help answer further questions.
  9. Travel during rainy season: Although traveling during the heart of rainy season may not initially sound ideal, it can have some perks as well. Treks, park entrance fees, and lodging often offer reduced rates during the off-season, not to mention that crowds are smaller. Rwanda’s landscape happens to be especially luscious this time of the year as well. Also, it rarely rains all day — it’s most likely that you’ll have a heavy rain in the afternoon, with sunshine and blue skies the rest of the day.

A Quick Note on Visas

traditional dancers in Rwanda
Visas are available both online and on arrival, dependent on the type and length of visa you are seeking. A 30-day, single-entry visa on arrival is available for $30 USD. The East African Tourist Visa ($100 USD, apply online in advance) grants 90 days of multiple-entry access to Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. Note: if you leave these three countries, the visa is canceled. Visa extensions are granted at the immigration office in Remera, although this process is often complex and time-consuming.

Suggested Budget Resources

Expats in Rwanda – Before arriving in Rwanda, join the Facebook group, “Expats in Rwanda,” a group for expats travelling in and living in Rwanda. The group is always engaged in discussions regarding recent news in the region, the opening of new restaurants and accommodation, and listings of items for sale or rent. You’re likely to find cars, motorbikes, and camping gear for rent, sublets (short and long-term) in houses, as well as an entire network of people to ask questions about your upcoming trip. If you’re travelling on your own, you can also link up with other travelers/expats to join in on a game drive to Akagera, a hiking weekend in Musanze, or a lake trip to Kivu, which can save money.

Living in Kigali – Another great resource is Living in Kigali, which offers up-to-date information on the ever-changing Kigali in terms of activities, events, food, and nightlife. Grab a copy of the illustrated “Kigali” map when in town, offering a detailed layout of city by activities, restaurants, and neighborhoods.

Red Rocks Rwanda Not only is Red Rocks an affordable accommodation option in Musanze, but it is also a travel company and cooperative. They have fantastic information on activities in the Northern Province and can also help you connect with community-based tourism and volunteer opportunities as well.

Nyamirambo Women’s Center – Located in the Muslim neighborhood renowned for its nightlife, Nyamirambo Women’s Center is an artisan cooperative and travel company supporting residents of Nyamirambo. If you’re interested in seeing Nyamirambo through a local’s eyes, they offer city tours as well as activities such as basket weaving.

Irembo Irembo is a tourism board for Rwanda. For information on available treks and permits, head to Irembo’s tourism site, where you are also able to directly book permits as well.

***

There has never been a better time to visit this tiny and proud nation. Rwanda has received immense attention on the travel radar over the past couple of years, but it is not yet overrun with tourism. If you take time to acquaint yourself with its culture, people, and natural riches, Rwanda on a budget is more than doable.

Hike and bike through the emerald hills and banana plantations, swim in the refreshing volcanic lakes, camp in the bush alongside the Big 5 wildlife, explore an emerging and innovative art scene, and allow Rwanda’s charm to seep under your skin.

Alicia Erickson grew up as a third-culture kid, developing a love for travel at a young age. She has been a digital nomad for the past 5 years, working as a political analyst, social entrepreneur, writer, and yoga teacher while she explores the world. She splits her time primarily between East and Southern Africa, India, and Seattle, where she seeks off-the-beaten-path locales and is particularly drawn to mountains and the savannah, food, wine, and design culture.

Book Your Trip to Rwanda: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post How to Save Money & Visit Rwanda on a Budget appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The 9 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Rome

Posted By : webmaster/ 6 0


the Colosseum of Rome
Posted: 9/30/2019 | September 30th, 2019

Rome is a city that sparks a thousand mental images. From ancient structures like the Colosseum or the Pantheon, to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, to the Vatican — not to mention tons of pasta and other delicious food — it has it all.

But planning a trip to Rome can sometimes be a pain.

Where should you stay? What are the best neighborhoods?

Rome is huge. It has 15 municipi (administrative areas), with the city center municipio alone divided into 22 smaller districts.

Whether you’re after a more historical area or something more local-feeling, or whether you are keen to experience great Italian food or Roman nightlife, there is a neighborhood in this amazing city to suit you.

To help you figure that out, here are some of my extensive thoughts on the best places to stay during your time in Rome based on my years of experience visiting there:

1. Trastevere

a busy square in Trastevere, Rome
Trastevere is filled with narrow, cobblestone alleyways that run past buildings decorated with tangled ivy and vines. It makes you feel like you’re back in a medieval city.

For many centuries, Trastevere was a working-class district, but in recent years, it’s become a bohemian hotspot for foodies and tourists wanting to see beyond Rome’s big-name attractions. At night, you can mingle in the Piazza di Santa Maria with crowds of young locals and students enjoying the nightlife, eating, and drinking. And if you climb the nearby steps of Gianicolo Hill, you’ll reach a spot with views across Rome, including the Pantheon and the Capitoline Hills.

Best places to stay in Trastevere

  • BUDGET: Hostel Trastevere – This hostel close to grocery stores and public transit has a great outdoor terrace common area with shade sails to keep you cooler in summer, and a cheap buffet breakfast, as well as fast Wi-Fi and air-conditioning. Rooms sleep a maximum of five people. The beds are comfortable too.
  • MID-RANGE: Trastevere’s Friends – This B&B is quiet, with spacious double rooms, making it especially popular with couples. The rooms here are light and bright, and most include ample wardrobe space for unpacking. The place is clean, and the owners and staff are extra-friendly.
  • LUXURY: Trastevere Royal Suite Trilussa – This luxury hotel has views over the Tiber River and is central to all the amazing restaurants and cafés of Trastevere. Each room is uniquely decorated with paintings or ornate mirrors. Breakfast is included in your room price.

2. Monti

Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome; photo by Emanuele (flickr:@zakmc)
The very oldest part of Rome is Monti, which is full of winding cobblestone streets and antique stores. Local residents are often creative types, and they’ve made sure there are plenty of quirky cafés, intimate bars, and independent businesses for you to explore. You can wander the streets past endless shades of pastel-colored walls, and browse the clothes and jewelry at the Mercato Monti vintage market.

Best places to stay in Monti

  • BUDGET: 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. It’s just 200m from Termini station so it’s really easy to access any public transport option you might want.
  • BUDGET: Hostel Alessandro Downtown – Cleanliness, a friendly staff, and a social atmosphere make this a good choice. It’s a great place to stay if you want to meet other travelers, either in the hostel itself or the bar, which is popular with many backpackers exploring Rome.
  • MID-RANGE: Apollo Rooms Colosseo – Clean and new, with friendly owners and a gelato bar at the back of the building, this property has a vibe that makes up for the fairly small (but tastefully decorated) rooms.
    LUXURY: Monti Palace Hotel – This stylish hotel includes a wholesome buffet breakfast and a rooftop bar with gorgeous views of the city. The rooms are spacious, sleek, and well lit.

3. Prati

Saint Mary Maggiore basilica in Rome; photo by Pawel Pacholec (flickr:@pawel_pacholec)
Prati is close to St Peter’s Square and the Vatican — it shares a border with the northern end of the Vatican State — and includes Via Cola di Rienzo, which is one of the most well-known shopping streets in the city for high-end brands. Prati is also an area where you’re less likely to find hordes of tourists, and it’s great for imagining what life would be like if you were a wealthy Roman.

Best places to stay in Prati

  • BUDGET: Arts & Rooms – This is a great budget option, with fast Wi-Fi and a communal kitchen filled with snacks (guests get use of the coffee machine too). It’s elegant, with simple but tasteful furnishings.
  • MID-RANGE: Luxury on the River – Despite its name, this place comes at a mid-range price and is located in a historic building overlooking the river. It has helpful staff and a varied breakfast, plus the rooms are quite large. There’s real Italian flare to the décor and a cozy lounge and library.
  • LUXURY: Hotel NH Collection Roma Giustiniano – This four-star hotel with spacious rooms is a great value. All its rooms have gorgeous parquet floors, and many have balconies with great views. There’s also a small gym and a restaurant on-site.

4. Ostiense

colorful street art in Ostiense, Rome; photo by Nicholas Frisardi (flickr:@123711915@N05)
Ostiense is a half-hour bus ride south of the center of Rome, but it’s a great neighborhood for a less touristy experience. Formerly an industrial area, it’s had a hipster makeover and is famous for its street art, food, and nightlife. On Via Giuseppe Libetta, you’ll find many of Rome’s best nightclubs and music venues. There’s even history here: the ancient Pyramid of Cestius, made of white marble blocks.

Best places to stay in Ostiense

  • BUDGET: Verrazzano 37 Guest House – This small place offers four comfortable rooms with modern furniture, a shared kitchen, and free Wi-Fi and is right near a 24-hour grocery store. It has nice double rooms, making it especially popular with couples on a budget.
  • MID-RANGE: Gasometer Urban Suites – Created out of a former factory in 2018, this spot features stylish and spacious rooms, and you can access a shared rooftop terrace with great views (and also a gym).
  • LUXURY: Sheraton Roma Hotel – This luxury hotel and conference center has a fabulous pool area and is great for a summer stay, especially with kids. It’s less Italian in style than other accommodations in Rome but makes up for it with spacious, quiet rooms and excellent breakfasts. There’s a lot of garden greenery and even a small wooded area surrounding the hotel, so it feels like you’re much further from central Rome than you actually are.

5. Testaccio

Testaccio skyline in Rome; photo by Nicola (flickr:@15216811@N06)
Testaccio, a 20-minute walk south of the Colosseum, is an edgier district, a former slaughterhouse area now adored by foodies. It’s not necessarily full of Instagram-worthy architecture, but it’s really got heart.

There are a bunch of art museums and other sightseeing spots in Testaccio, but the best reason to stay here is the food, from the Testaccio Market with its gourmet street food stalls to spots like Da Remo, which many people claim has the best traditional pizza in Rome.

Best places to stay in Testaccio

  • BUDGET: I-sleep B&B – This budget accommodation is in a really convenient location, but it’s still reasonably quiet. A light breakfast is included with your room rate. Most rooms are decorated in a modern black-and-white style and are clean and comfortable.
  • MID-RANGE: 149 Guesthouse – Really helpful staff make a stay here great, and the espresso machines and jacuzzis are also a bonus. It’s in a classy building; rooms with balconies look over the leafy trees along the street. If you’re there on a Sunday, make sure you check out the outdoor Porta Portese flea market nearby.
  • LUXURY: Seven Suites – You’ll get very good value for these spacious, modern rooms and a good breakfast in the café at the front. It’s recently renovated, with classy bathrooms and really comfortable memory-foam beds. It’s a small property with just six rooms, so it’s quiet.

6. Pigneto

street art in Pigneto; photo by Agostino Zamboni (flickr:@agostinozamboni)
Less than a 15-minute tram ride from the center of Rome, Pigneto is a colorful neighborhood full of interesting graffiti, street art, and murals that’s had a hipster makeover in recent years. Some people call it the Brooklyn of Rome, and I think that’s a fair description! It’s filling up with trendy bars and restaurants and often gets labeled Bohemian, although it’s a real mix of small, older homes and new apartment buildings. It’s also home to lots of small cocktail bars and cafés and other great spots for some people-watching.

Best places to stay in Pigneto

  • BUDGET: Relais Villa Fiorelli – This is located in a quiet spot on the Piazza di Villa Fiorelli. It has simple, modern rooms with free Wi-Fi, some with balconies looking over the lush garden. Room rates include breakfast served either in your room or outside in the garden. The recent addition of the new Line C Lodi metro station makes it even easier to get into central Rome from here.
  • MID-RANGE: Eurostars Roma Aeterna – Right on the Piazza del Pigneto, this hotel is in a former pharmaceutical factory. Inside, rooms are decorated with minimalist but stylish décor and photography. It offers a great breakfast, and there’s a well-equipped free gym too.
  • LUXURY: Hotel Latinum – This boutique hotel of just twelve rooms has a special glass floor so you can see what lies under it, thanks to some archaeological excavation — a great way to remind you of the history of Rome even when you’re back in the hotel. It’s an elegant spot with beautiful wooden furniture, and the rooftop terrace is a good place to relax.

7. Tridente

Trevi fountain in the middle of Rome
The Tridente area has plenty of tourists coming to see the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, but there’s also amazing shopping and fancy hotels and restaurants. Strolling back to your accommodation in Tridente, you’ll pass historic sites, old architecture, and endless options for dining.

Staying here means you might not get a particularly local feel for what it’s like to live in Rome, but you’ll be near many of the places you’ll want to visit, and you’ll get a taste for where wealthy Romans live.

Best places to stay in Tridente

  • BUDGET: Crispi Relax – Less than a five-minute walk from the Spanish Steps, this guesthouse is great value for such a central location, with clean, air-conditioned rooms, though they’re relatively small (not surprising for the area). Some rooms have balconies for some extra space, and you can take in the views of what’s happening right there in the center of the city.
  • MID-RANGE: Condotti Hotel – Also just around the corner from the Spanish Steps, Hotel Condotti is a small and elegant boutique hotel with an entrance off a quiet street, beautiful décor, and lots of added extras. If you’re traveling with kids, you can stay in the adjacent building in suites made of two connecting double bedrooms.
  • LUXURY: Hotel d’Inghilterra Roma – This hotel close to the Spanish Steps and the Via del Corso shopping street, located in a beautiful 16th-century building, offers affordable luxury compared to some really pricey places in this part of town. The staff are very attentive, and the hotel restaurant, Café Romano, gets rave reviews. Each of its 88 rooms is decorated with its own style and charm.

8. Parioli

the Villa Borghese gardens in Parioli, Rome
Parioli is a largely residential, quieter part of Rome, but is less than a half-hour ride by metro or bus into the center. It’s full of gardens and parks, and its southern boundary runs along the Villa Borghese gardens. It’s typically home to some affluent locals with classy-looking apartment buildings, and if you’re planning a longer stay, it’s a great base that offers a taste of semi-suburban life in Rome.

Best places to stay in Parioli

  • BUDGET: Hotel Delle Muse – This family-run hotel offers free Wi-Fi and an on-site restaurant. There’s a large covered terrace garden where you can eat lunch and dinner. The staff are really helpful, and there’s a bus stop nearby. Rooms are fairly small and a little dated, but it’s a clean and comfortable place at a good price.
  • MID-RANGE: Parioli Place B&B – Friendly staff, great breakfast, and modern black-and-white interiors make this a solid mid-range choice. The roof garden is a lovely spot, and you can opt to eat breakfast up there, too.
  • LUXURY: Hotel Lord Byron – This is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World yet is actually great value. The marble bathrooms are decadent, and the mahogany and rosewood furniture lends a completely charming art deco atmosphere — you’ll feel a little like you’re sleeping in a gallery. The hotel also has a lounge bar and the award-winning restaurant Sapori del Lord Byron.

9. San Lorenzo

Lucina Church in San Lorenzo, Rome; photo by Carlo Raso (flickr:@70125105@N06)
If you want to stay somewhere with a student vibe, then San Lorenzo is it, near the Sapienza University and walking distance east of the city center. The neighborhood was bombed heavily in World War II and was never rebuilt quite as well as other areas, but what San Lorenzo lacks in prettiness it makes up for with fun.

There are lots of shopping options both for new Italian fashion and vintage clothes, great cheap pizza, and cool bars. Head to the Via dei Volsci and Via dei Sabelli to see where the young people of Rome enjoy a night out.

Best places to stay in San Lorenzo

  • BUDGET: The Yellow – Situated on the university side of the central Termini railway station, this hostel is popular with backpackers looking for a party atmosphere, and it has local live music in its bar. There are other added extras, like yoga sessions on the rooftop or on-site Italian cooking and pasta-making classes. The staff are really friendly and responsive, and the place often ranks highly in votes on Rome’s best hostel stay.
  • BUDGET: Alessandro Palace Hostel – This hostel offers lots of extras, like a rooftop bar with shady spaces to sit and relax, a gym, and two restaurants. The dorm rooms are quite roomy.
  • MID-RANGE: Hotel Laurentia – Right in the liveliest part of San Lorenzo, this hotel has fine rooms and a delicious breakfast. The rooms (ranging from singles to quadruples) are spacious for the price, with a simple but elegant look. The dining area is quite different, with large brick arches dividing it into somewhat separate sections for some privacy.
  • LUXURY: Hotel Royal Court – A very good value, this four-star hotel on the Termini Station side of San Lorenzo has an art nouveau look, with wood flooring and period furniture, and many of the rooms have really unique furnishings. The rooms and bathrooms are large; the quadruple rooms are a great option for family trips.

***

Rome is a big city with lots to see and experience, so figuring out which neighborhood will work best for you is partly about deciding whether you want to indulge in regular restaurant meals or nightlife, or be near plenty of the historical sights or try some more local neighborhoods for a “when in Rome” kind of experience.

If you have a longer stay, you can always consider starting in one of the inner city neighborhoods while you see the most famous sights, then having a few days a little further out to enjoy shopping and dining among locals.

Whatever you choose, Rome is a simply amazing city, and I’m sure you’ll be impressed with it!

Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

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

Book Your Trip to Rome: 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. I use them all the time.

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

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

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

Photo credits: 3 – Emanuele, 4 – Pawel Pacholec, 5 – Nicholas Frisardi, 6 – Nicola, 7 – Agostino Zamboni, 10 – Carlo Raso

The post The 9 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Rome appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Looking to Get Into the Travel Industry? Check Out Our New Courses!

Posted By : webmaster/ 10 0


a girl works at a laptop next to her backpack and orange portable battery pack
Posted: 9/26/2019 | September 26th, 2019

Over the last few years, we’ve been running a travel media program called Superstar Blogging. It has taught people how to start a blog, write better, master YouTube, and improve their photography.

And, today, as we release some content updates, we’re changing how our courses are structured.

Drastically.

Instead of having four “let’s cover it all” courses on blogging, writing, photography, and vlogging, we’re now splitting them up into more in-depth single-topic courses.

That way, you pay for just the information you want and we can go deeper into each subject.

In our survey courses, there was just so much ground to cover that the more we added, the more unwieldy the courses became.

We had so much information in the courses that it was hard for people to find the information they wanted and needed. It’s like in university. Classes don’t cover the entirety of science. They cover individual aspects of science.

So rather than address a lot of topics briefly, our new reconfigured courses go in-depth and answer more of your advanced questions on particular subjects.

And you don’t have to pay for the topics that aren’t relevant to your specific needs!

Our new course list is:

Blogging

  • Blogging Basics: How to Start a Travel Blog
  • How to Make Money with Your Travel Blog
  • Newsletter Marketing for Travel Blogs
  • SEO for Travel Bloggers
  • Social Media for Travel Bloggers
  • The Fundamentals of Travel Blogging

Vlogging

  • A Complete Guide to Making Money as a Vlogger
  • How to Edit Your Travel Videos like a Pro
  • Vlogging 101: Everything You Need to Know to Start a Travel Vlog

Photography

  • Mastering Your Camera: An Introduction to Travel Photography
  • Travel Photography: Compact Cameras & Mobile Photography
  • Travel Photography: Managing and Editing Your Work
  • Advanced Travel Photography: How to Do More With Your Camera
  • How to Make Money as a Travel Photographer

Writing

  • An Introduction to Travel Writing
  • How to Make Money as a Travel Writer
  • How to Master Editing Your Work
  • How to Master Travel Writing for the Web
  • Travel Writing Skills: Memoir and Personal Essays

These courses contain decades of knowledge from your expert teachers – as well as the industry experts we interview in our courses. These courses will teach you what works, what doesn’t work, save you time, frustration, and help you get ahead faster.

They are your blueprint to success.

All our courses come with a seven-day money-back guarantee. Additionally, we offer various add-ons that include tech support and personal feedback on your work in case you want added help.

Our new courses also only range in price from $9.99 to $49.99.

We noticed an industry trend of expensive boot camps and masterclasses – and wanted to go in the complete opposite direction. When you’re a new travel blogger, you don’t have a lot of money to spend so we wanted to create affordable but in-depth courses so people could start their career in travel without the anxiety that comes with spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on something new.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Most people give up because they get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there and frustrated in trying to figure out how to implement it. These courses will help you cut through the noise and give you time tested strategies that are proven to work.

So, pick up one of our new (and cheaper) courses – and start your career in travel today!

And, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments. I’ll be happy to answer them.

Sincerely,

Matt

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post Looking to Get Into the Travel Industry? Check Out Our New Courses! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Announcing TravelCon 2020: Keynotes, Speakers, & More!

Posted By : webmaster/ 8 0


Travelcon 2020 in New Orleans, United States
Posted: 9/23/2019 | September 23rd, 2019

At the end of June, we announced our next TravelCon and, today, I’d like to share some more details about our next big event.

First, it will be May 8-10, 2020, in New Orleans so mark your calendars!

We have a lot of big changes and improvements coming this year. The four big ones I want to announce right now are:

1. We have a destination partner! New Orleans & Company, the city’s official tourism board, is our official destination partner, and we’ll be working hard with them to organize a lot of activities throughout TravelCon that will get you out of the hotel and around the city.

In a first, this year we’ll be doing FAM trips and tours of the city before and after the conference. We’ll also be conducting a scavenger hunt around New Orleans (we’re super stoked about that!).

We’ll have specifics on both in the new year. We know this was something you all really wanted and we’re excited to finally be able to offer them!

Check out our TravelCon page on New Orlean’s website for exciting information on the city!

2. We’ll be ditching our second-night party so as to have longer niche meet-ups. Everyone loves our niche meet-ups! They are one of the highlights of TravelCon, so rather than make them rushed, we’re not going to have anything that gets in their way so people can spend more time hanging out with their new friends.

3. We’re adding back a second included lunch. Everyone wanted more organized lunches, so we’ll be doing two this year.

4. Finally (and this is a big, big change), we’re moving workshops from the main schedule and making them add-ons before the conference. We’ve found that managing the workshops has proven harder than we thought. People sign up for multiple workshops, don’t show up, want to transfer to different workshops, or. miss the sign-up time. This leads to a lot of people not getting into the classes they want when, in the end, there is space. It takes up a lot of admin time and is confusing for attendees.

Plus, the teachers feel that they have to compress information into a really short period of time and they don’t like it.

So, to solve those problems (and free up room for more talks), we’re moving the workshops to the day before the conference (May 7th) and making each four hours long. Each workshop will cost $99 and come with a 30-day refund policy. Sign up for as many as you want. They are all first-come, first-serve.

We know this a big change and many of you won’t like having to pay for the workshops, but this will allow us to better handle the sign-ups so everyone gets the workshop they want, pay the workshop leaders more, and create more room in our schedule for other talks during the conference.

Those sign-ups will be available in January too.

Over the course of the next few months, we’ll be announcing more of our plans for the upcoming event, but for now, those are the big schedule changes you need to know about!

This Year’s Speakers

Over the next few months, we’ll be announcing our speakers, but here’s our first round of speakers and workshop leaders:

Keynotes

Pico Iyer

Author

Pauline Frommer

Frommers

Jeff Goins

Author, Real Artists Don’t Starve

Nicole Walters

Business Coach

Breakout Speakers

Faith Adiele

Author, Meeting Faith

Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Writer + Photographer

Leyla Giray Alyanak

Women on the Road

Alexandra Baackes

Alex in Wanderland

Dev Basu

Powered by Search

Marc and Julie Bennett

RV Love

Julia Cosgrove

AFAR

Don George

Author, The Way of Wanderlust

Brice Gump

Major Impact Media

Monet Hambrick

The Traveling Child

Alexandra Jimenez

Travel Fashion Girl

Ciara Johnson

Hey Ciara

Richard Kerr

The Points Guy

Seth Kugel

Author, Rediscovering Travel

Mickela Mallozzi

Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi

Chris Mercer

MeasurementMarketing.io

Laurence Norah

Finding the Universe

Erick Prince-Heaggans

Minority Nomad

Kristen Sarah

Hopscotch the Globe

Nadine Sykora

Hey Nadine

Mary Ann Thomas

Postcards From Mat

Amanda Williams

A Dangerous Business

One thing we will be doing with the talks this year is reducing the number of panels, so we can have more actionable workshops rather than discussions. We’ve heard you about not wanting lots of panels and so we will minimize them as much as possible.

We’re going to have sessions this year on Google Analytics, taxes, IP and legal issues, customer service, networking, hosting video, writing, advanced SEO, and hiring employees. Moreover, we’re going to be expanding the number of talks on LGBTQ travel, Instagram, affiliate marketing, and creating products.

Here’s our tentative schedule, which will show you how each day will flow:

(You can see a bigger version on the TravelCon website.)

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Tickets to this year’s TravelCon are $349 until 12/31, when prices will go up to $399.

We’re capping our ticket sales at 800 again this year. We’ve currently sold 258 tickets to next year’s event and expect to sell out again!

So sign up today before tickets are gone.

And, remember, you can refund your ticket 90 days before the event and transfer them 30 days before the event. We know how travel plans can change and want you to know that if something comes up, you can get your money back.

See you in New Orleans!

—Matt

Book Your Trip to New Orleans: 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. I use them all the time.

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

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

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

The post Announcing TravelCon 2020: Keynotes, Speakers, & More! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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