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The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Taiwan

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The skyline of Taipei in Taiwan, surrounded by greenery
Posted: 4/17/2020 | April 17th, 2020

Taiwan is one of the most popular destinations for English teachers: it has a high standard of living but is affordable, is home to friendly locals, boasts a world-class food scene, and has a lot of places to explore on your days off (the high-speed trains can get you around the island pretty quickly).

To top it all off, Taiwan is aiming to be bilingual by 2030. That means there is an increased demand for English teachers throughout the country (especially in rural areas). It has stricter standards for teachers than some of its neighbors, but it’s still relatively easy to get a well-paid job there.

To teach English in Taiwan, applicants must be a native English speaker and from an English-speaking country (the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, or New Zealand) and have a bachelor’s degree (though sometimes a master’s is required).

Most schools also require applicants to have at least a 120-hour TEFL certificate and be a licensed teacher in their home country. (If you aren’t a licensed teacher, you can still find work, but it won’t be as high-paying.) You must also have a clean criminal record.

Here’s a breakdown of various teaching opportunities in Taiwan and what to expect for each of them:
 

Buxiban (“cram schools”)

Buxiban are after-school programs that rigorously prepare students for university. They are essentially test-prep schools.

To teach at a buxiban, you don’t need a university degree. However, expect to have a lot of students (as many as 200 in a class in some schools). Most teachers work 15-20 hours a week, but with so many students it can be exhausting.

You’re only paid when you actually teach a class, so anything like grading papers or preparing lessons (and these schools require a considerable amount of prep) is almost always unpaid. Schedules vary greatly too, since classes can happen at all hours of the day.

Teachers at buxiban can expect to earn around 600 NT$ ($20 USD) per hour.

However, if you’re looking to get your foot in the door and don’t have a lot of previous teaching experience, these schools are a good place to start. But before you accept a position with a buxiban, research the company running it to ensure that they are reputable and treat their teachers well. Many are really terrible places.

And while jobs are plentiful, don’t expect great working conditions or benefits. It’s an easy, flexible, and decently-paid job for those with little experience. But it’s not going to glamorous.
 

Public Schools

Jobs in public schools are typically available at the high school level. Classes are large, and teachers should expect to work around 15 hours a week, but they still must be at school from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m during the week. Some schools may compensate you for work done outside the classroom (preparation and grading), but most don’t. Be sure to check before you sign a contract!

Public school teachers receive a lot of perks, though: a housing stipend, free return flights, paid vacation, a grant to cover supplies, and health and dental coverage.

You’ll earn between 62,000 and 90,000 NT$ ($2,075–3,015 USD) a month, depending on where you are teaching and the terms of your end-of-year bonuses. (These schools offer bonuses, so teachers stay for their entire contract.)

If you want a job placement, check out the Taiwan government’s Foreign English Teachers (FET) program.
 

Private Schools

Private schools offer comparable (or lower) salaries compared to public schools but you have far smaller class sizes. There’s usually more competition for their teaching positions, as they offer better benefits, such as paid vacations and a housing stipend (in addition to the benefits you see in public schools too). If you’re teaching in a private school, expect to work anywhere from 16 to 25 hours per week.

Private schools pay 50,000–60,000 NT$ ($1,675–$2,000 USD) a month. Salaries are generally slightly smaller than public schools but the perks and working conditions make it worthwhile.
 

International Schools

The most coveted jobs are in international schools. These schools usually teach a UK or American school curriculum. They require experience and teaching degrees. They are similar to teaching in a school in your home country so you’ll be expected to fulfill your contract and obligations.

International schools cover flights home and reimburse the cost of the vaccines needed for your visa and your visa fee, plus give you money for school supplies and do not charge tax on your income (which is a huge perk, as the tax rate is 18% for teachers in their first 183 days — it drops to 6–10% thereafter).

International school teachers make nearly 200,000 NT$ ($6,700 USD) a month.
 

Colleges and Universities

Teaching positions at colleges and universities are competitive and some of the hardest to come by. To teach in higher education, you need a master’s degree (at the very least). Expect to work varied hours during the week and on weekends depending on your course load.

The starting salary is low — around 52,000 NT$ ($1,745 USD) a month — but you likely will get overtime pay for additional work (which can be as much as an additional 10,000 NT$ ($330 USD) per month). Additionally, salaries for teachers with a PhD will be higher than those for teachers with a master’s degree.
 

Job Resources

In addition to the FET program mentioned earlier, there are numerous online resources you can use to find jobs teaching English in Taiwan but the best resource is Reach to Teach Recruiting. They are placement firm that gives you the best advice out there. They also have the best job listings too. I taught English with the founders back in 2010 and the company they created is the best out there.
 

Applying for a Visa

The visa process for Taiwan is relatively straightforward. Once you’re employed, you need to get a health check and provide the results to your employer. After that, your school will assist you in changing your initial visa-on-arrival to a visitor visa and then help you apply for a work permit. Then, you need to get an alien resident certificate (ARC), which is validated by your employer.

Following getting your ARC, you will receive your health and dental insurance and can open a bank account. Expect the entire process to take around five to six weeks and cost 8,000–10,000 NT$ ($270–335 USD).

***

Teaching English in Taiwan is a great experience. There is a high demand for teachers, the visa process is straightforward, and you don’t need to have a job before you arrive. And, since salaries more than cover living expenses in the country, it’s a great place to both get your foot in the door as a teacher and make money while living abroad.

P.S. – We’ve launched a new Patreon where you can get stories and tips I don’t share on this blog, a private Facebook group, phone calls with me and the team, live Q&As, postcards from the road, signed copies of my books, and much more! Click here to learn more and sign up today!
 

Ready to Teach Overseas? Get My Comprehensive Guide!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to EuropeThis digital guide will put you ahead of your competition, help you land a high-paying job with a reputable company, and give you firsthand knowledge from real teachers! The book also includes 12 bonus interviews about life as a teacher and job advice from one of the industry’s top recruiters!

Click here to get started today!
 

Book Your Trip to Taiwan: 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. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels. I use them both all the time. My favorite places to stay in Taipei are:

  • Formosa 101 – This hostel is located right near the Taipei Tower and the Tonghua Night Market. It offers free breakfast and has a laid back lounge for relaxing.
  • Meander Taipei – The staff here are really helpful, and the beds are comfy. It has free breakfast as well as other daily activities.

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 — and I think they will help you too!

The post The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Taiwan appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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In Defense of Las Vegas and Other Maligned Destinations

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The bright and busy skyline of Las Vegas at night
Posted: 04/14/20 | April 14th, 2020

If you’re like me, you probably have preconceived notions of certain destinations. Whether from books, movies, magazines, or blogs, whenever we think of these places, certain scenes, sounds, smells, and images appear in our heads — even if you’ve never been to them.

It’s a natural human trait.

We use existing information to form an opinion and fill in our blind spots.

If you asked me what Beijing is like, I’d say it was polluted, crowded, and chaotic. I imagine not being able to see the building in front of me, streets packed with people, chaotic markets (give me all that food, though!), insane traffic, and lots of people riding bicycles.

But I’ve never been to Beijing, so I really have no idea. That’s just the image I have in my head from reading and hearing about the city over the years.

Last month, I asked on Twitter what popular places people wouldn’t visit and why. Vegas came up a lot. So did Disney parks, Paris, Mexico, and India.

In the same way I have a preconceived image of Beijing, people had preconceived images of these places.

But what surprised me the most was not the destinations but how their reasons were based on sensational headlines and cultural stereotypes.

Those stereotypes defined these destinations so much that people didn’t even want to see if they were right or wrong (they are mostly wrong).

People didn’t want to go to Vegas because they thought it was all casinos and the Strip, Mexico or India because of safety concerns, or Paris because of the crowds and “rude French people.”

Let’s take Vegas for example. Why don’t people want to visit? Here’s some responses:

A Twitter screenshot about Las Vegas
A Twitter screenshot about Las Vegas
A Twitter screenshot about Las Vegas
A Twitter screenshot about Las Vegas
A Twitter screenshot about Las Vegas
A Twitter screenshot about Las Vegas
A Twitter screenshot about Las Vegas

It’s true that the Vegas Strip is a shitshow of people gambling, getting drunk, and being obnoxious and/or just generally weird. Everything is fake, expensive, and designed to get you to spend money at the casino and in overpriced restaurants.

But gambling is not the only thing to do there, even on the Strip. There’s more to this city of over two million people. For example, here is a sample of what you can do that doesn’t involve casinos, drinking, or spending a lot of money:

  • The Mob Museum – This is an awesome showcase of Sin City’s turbulent past and its connection to the mafia.
  • The Neon Museum – This eclectic outdoor graveyard for hundreds of the city’s famous neon signs from the old casinos is really an awesome experience. Ideally, go around sunset.
  • Fremont Street – This is Old Las Vegas. Yes, it does have historic casinos, but also buskers, street artists, open-air concerts, and tons of interesting people-watching! A four-block canopy covers much of the street, on which there are regular light shows as well. You can also take a zip line over the street itself.
  • Red Rock Canyon – Take a break from the city for some scenic hiking and biking trails just 30 minutes from town.
  • Hoover Dam and Lake Mead – Under an hour east of Vegas is Hoover Dam, this a massive feat of engineering spanning over 1,200 feet and standing 700 feet tall. Lake Mead, a by-product of the dam, is great for swimming, kayaking, and other water activities. You can also take a guided tour of the dam itself (for $30 USD).
  • The National Atomic Testing Museum – An affiliate of the Smithsonian Museum, this exhibition north of town documents the history of nuclear testing in Nevada (over 900 nuclear bombs were detonated in the state). There’s also a separate exhibit for Area 51 too (the truth is out there!).
  • The Arts District – This area is full of galleries, thrift and vintage stores, theatres, and music venues and is the cultural heart of the city.
  • The Haunted Museum – This paranormal museum is full of allegedly cursed objects, such as haunted dolls and paraphernalia owned by serial killers. There are 30 rooms full of all kinds of oddities, and the house itself is said to be haunted too.

You can go an entire trip without ever stepping foot on The Strip or in a casino.

Yet, for so many, it is as if “Vegas = gambling = The Strip” and nothing else exists. The image of Las Vegas portrayed in the media is one of Bacchanalian debauchery. That’s all we see.

I used to think the same way.

Before I first visited Las Vegas, I just thought it was all party, party, party. But the more I left the Strip, the more I saw a vibrant city with a lot to more offer than just gambling and drinks. I realized that the stereotypes of Vegas were wrong.

Similarly, while there are serious issues in Mexico, you’re unlikely to get kidnapped or robbed on your trip to Cancún — most of the danger in Mexico revolves around drugs. And, as I’ve said before, Paris isn’t a touristy destination with rude people. The French aren’t more or less rude than anyone else in the world. But if you only deal with the ones in the tourist industry handling large numbers of tourists, your image is going to be of “rude French people.” Because they are probably sick of people asking the same questions over and over again. But you can encounter that throughout the world in touristy areas. It’s not limited to Paris.

Everyone has their own list of destinations they aren’t interested in going to. I don’t have a strong desire to see Saudi Arabia, and I’ve developed some asthma issues that have pushed China and India down my “to see” list due to their pollution (but they are still on my list).

But, before you write off a destination, consider the reason why.

If your inclination is to write it off because you think it is a certain based our cultural stereotype of a place, reconsider.

Research a destination before you pigeonhole it based on what the media says about it (or part of it).

Destinations are always more than their cultural images of them. That’s the point of travel. To peel back the layers and really discover what makes a place tick. Look beyond mainstream perception.

Because it’s sometimes the places we expect the least from that end up often become the most memorable.

P.S. – We’ve launched a new Patreon where you can stories and tips I don’t share on this blog, a private Facebook group, phone calls with me and the team, live Q&As, postcards from the road, signed copies of my books, and much more! Click here to learn more and sign up today!

Book Your Trip to Las Vegas: 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 biggest inventory. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

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

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

The post In Defense of Las Vegas and Other Maligned Destinations appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to Get Untold Stories, Exclusive Tips, and One-on-One Phone Calls

Posted By : webmaster/ 272 0


Noamdic Matt in Hawaii looking out over the water
Posted: 04/09/20 | April 9th, 2020

Last fall, we decided to host more events and create more opportunities for people to connect with each other (and us).

That’s why we started The Nomadic Network, a platform for travelers to meet one another — at home and abroad (we’re doing virtual events right now).

That’s why we started a conference.

That’s why we had planned to host a big gathering of somewhere in the world (it’s on hold for now).

Community is everything.

Now we are taking that community one step further with our new Patreon membership program!

You always get the content on this website for free but now, through our new Patreon, you can get more exclusive content, free books, planning calls, and cool gifts.

Want to get stories I’ve never told before? Photos from trips I’ve never posted? Free guides? Or more ways to connect with this community? Our Patreon has all that!!!!

By joining our Patreon, you’ll get access to these exclusive perks:

Wanderer – $3
As a Wanderer, you will gain access to more behind the scenes content and exclusive stories.

A graphic of a man hiking in the mountains
  • Access to our exclusive Patreon feed
  • Never before seen travel photos
  • Exclusive members only travel stories and tips not shared on our blog!

Adventurer – $5
As an Adventurer, you’ll gain access to more behind the scenes content and some of my best selling guides.

A small graphic of a map
  • All previous benefits
  • Access to some behind the scenes content on my Instagram “close friends” stories once a week
  • Free copies of my guides, The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking and How to Teach English Overseas
  • Private Facebook group

Vagabond – $10
As a Vagabond, you’ll get help planning your future travels plus access to our future travel events around the world.

A small graphic of a green hiking boot
  • All previous benefits
  • Our entire guidebook collection, with budget guides to Paris, Amsterdam, Thailand, Bangkok, Iceland, NYC, and Backpacking Europe
  • Free entry to all future travel events through The Nomadic Network anywhere in the world
  • Exclusive twice monthly Q&A livestreams

Backpacker – $25
If you’re a Backpacker, you’ll gain access to even more amazing content like exclusive blog posts, monthly Q&A’s, and webinars. You’ll also be supporting our community charity, FLYTE!

A small graphic of a travel backpack
  • All previous benefits
  • Free virtual ticket to TravelCon*
  • 10% of all donations go to our non-profit, FLYTE, which helps make travel accessible to students from around the country
  • Handwritten postcards from my trips
  • Gifted Kindle version of one of my books. You pick How to Travel the World on $50 a Day or Ten Years a Nomad

* Must be a Patron for at least 2 months

Globetrotter – $50
Thank you for this huge commitment! As a Globetrotter, the team and I want will provide even more hands-on help.

A small graphic of a plane flying around the world
  • All previous benefits
  • Full access to our blogging course
  • Your pick: A signed copy of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day or Ten Years A Nomad (USA/Canada only)
  • One call per month with a Nomadic Matt team member: Raimee (social media consulting), Erica (community building and events), Chris (time management), Carmela (building a non-profit)
  • First look at all our projects and content — with the ability to give us feedback!
  • Archived videos on the Patreon feed

Nomad – $100
This is a huge level of support and we want to offer as much added value as we can. When you become a Nomad, you’ll get all of the previous rewards plus special shout outs, one-on-one calls, and more!

A small graphic of the nomadic matt logo
  • All previous benefits
  • Feature you (or your business) on our Instagram Stories once a month
  • Ticket to TravelCon*
  • A signed copy of both my books, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day or Ten Years A Nomad (USA/Canada only)
  • One-on-one call with me to talk about travel planning, travel hacking, business, or whatever you want really! (Call last one hour and occurs on your first paid month and then once a quarter after!)

* Must be a Patron for at least 3 months

Supporting our Patreon is a way to get more out of your “Nomadic Matt experience” and get amazing behind-the-scenes access and exclusive perks every month!

And signing up is risk-free:

  • You can cancel at any time.
  • Your payment is safe and secure. (Your payment is SSL-encrypted.)

Plus, you’ll also get awesome customer support. If you have any questions, the team and I will always be around to help.

The team and I work to create content for you so you can travel better, cheaper, and longer. While we make some money from ads, product sales, and affiliates, we’re not some huge corporation or media conglomerate. We’re these people:

the Nomadic Matt team at the TravelCon conference

…just sharing what we love and always reinvesting in this website and community. We’re always trying to figure out more ways we can serve you and create cool things to bring everyone together!

This Patreon gives us more freedom to continue doing that, host more events, and create more travel content you love.

So check out our Patreon!

Your support is everything and we’re looking forward to continuing to improve this website, especially during these crazy times!

Sincerely,

Nomadic Matt

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post How to Get Untold Stories, Exclusive Tips, and One-on-One Phone Calls appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Our New Blogging & Writing Masterclasses!

Posted By : webmaster/ 330 0


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

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

This is an excellent time to learn something new.

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

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

Information is a commodity.

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

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

Think of your skills.

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

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

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

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

This is a class with full access to us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, as mentioned, information alone is never enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you in class!

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

– Nomadic Matt

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post Our New Blogging & Writing Masterclasses! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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12 Books to Take You Around the World

Posted By : webmaster/ 262 0


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

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

In short, they’re magic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Misadventure Is Better, by David Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is my opus on travel.
 

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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





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How to Be a Travel Hacker in Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post How to Be a Travel Hacker in Canada appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How the Coronavirus Will Change Travel

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A solitary airplane at an airport during sunset
Posted: 03/31/20 | March 21st, 2020

On a breezy fall morning, I was walking home from my university’s humanities department after trying to get out of my Spanish language requirement to no avail. On the way, I ran into one of my roommates. He mentioned he had heard that a small plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

By the time I got home and turned on the TV, both towers were on fire and it was clear this was much more than a small plane gone off course.

In the days and weeks following September 11th, the world changed. Even to my young self, I could feel in my bones that nothing would ever be the same again. There was a pre-9/11 world and we were now forever in a post-9/11 world.

While the later 2008 financial crisis changed the economy and our views on money, 9/11 seemed to change who we fundamentally were as people. It created a shift in thinking and our sense of self. It changed how we Americans viewed the world. There was a “lost innocence.”

As the Coronavirus has rapidly unfolded in the last month, I feel that way again, except this time on a global scale. There was a pre-Coronavirus world and now we will forever be in a post-Coronavirus world.

From how we work, travel, view government, money, and conduct our day-to-day lives, everything is going to be different. And the longer the crisis lasts, the more different it will be. I can’t say just how yet (I’m a bad futurist) but, in my gut, I know change is coming.

But let’s talk about something I do know a bit about: the travel industry.

How is this going to change travel?

The travel industry relies on human movement to function. And, with countrywide lockdowns and most major airlines ceasing operations, no one is moving right now.

Overnight, an industry that employs 10% of the world has come to a near-complete stop.

This is worse than a recession. Because, even in a recession, some people still traveling.

Now no one is moving. The industry is in stasis.

And no one knows how long this is going to last.

Hubei province, the site of the outbreak in China, was in lockdown for over two months. Singapore has increased restrictions on foreigners and Hong Kong, reeling from a recent spike in infections, has relocked down the city.

And I think that the slow pace of such measures in many countries means most of the world will be in lockdown until May if not early June. Too many people are behind the curve and it will take longer to keep the virus under control than most people think.

So what does this mean for the industry I’ve spent the last twelve years in?

As a whole, I think we’re looking at a drastically smaller travel industry for the foreseeable future. WTTC states that they expect 75 million job loses (at a rate of up to 1 million jobs lost per day).

And it will take years for the industry – and the jobs – to return to pre-Coronavirus levels.

For starters, I don’t think many magazines and online publications will make it through. The 2008 financial crisis shuttered the doors of a lot of publications and those around today live off advertising, brand deals, and events. Ad rates are plummeting as traffic plummets and most brand deals are on hold for now.

With publications furloughing employees, giving pay cuts, and seeing lost revenue that will never come back, if this goes on longer, I think you’ll see around 25% of publications go under. I know four that closed last week. More will come. And those that survive will be smaller and be able to hire few writers.

Additionally, a lot of creators, YouTubers, freelance writers, and bloggers rely on brand partnerships for revenue. The freelance writing market is not a land of riches and, with the majority of writers and online content creators living on thin margins and paycheck to paycheck, the prospect of months of zero income is going to drive people out of the industry. I know a few already looking for the exit. I think 30-40% of people might end up leaving if the industry remains frozen to June.

Moreover, I think many hostels, travel start-ups, and small tour operators will go under too. Most small businesses operate with the tiniest of margins and don’t have a lot of liquidity. They keep enough cash on hand to get by without income for just a few weeks. A sustained shock to their business like this, even with government assistance, is going to bankrupt them. They have too much overhead and costs to sustain them. Many will fold and, when you travel again, you will see fewer hostels, food and walking tour companies, and small tour operators.

I expect it to take years for the travel industry to recover. People will slowly start booking travel again but, like the 2008 crisis, it is going to leave many unemployed. When you don’t have a job, travel is not a priority. It is luxury people will put off.

I think as the world opens up around the end of May/early June (provided there’s no second spike in infections), people will begin to start booking travel again for later in the summer. Business travel will pick up first but I think most of the tourism you’ll see initially will be local. People will travel around their region before they start taking big international trips again.

First, because it’s cheaper. This pandemic is going to cause a huge recession and massive job losses. Since travel is a luxury, big international trips won’t be on the agenda. Second, people will be wary of the risk of another potential outbreak. They will be concerned about picking up the virus as well as being stuck if something happens. Until everyone is 100% sure they are fine, people will be cautious.

And the cruise industry? Well, ships are floating petri dishes and, no matter how good the deals, most people won’t want to get on a ship for the foreseeable future. I believe this will permanently shrink the cruise industry. Images of cruise ships unable to dock in countries will scar our psyche for years to come.

Additionally, I think countries are going to be wary about fully opening up until they know they won’t be importing the virus and there’s some treatment or vaccine. No one wants to open their borders and have a second wave of infections that overloads their healthcare system. I wouldn’t be surprised if you start to see more temperature checks in airports and if countries start asking for proof you are COVID-19 negative.

While you will probably see a lot of travel deals as companies try to cover their costs and stay afloat, I think the whole “hop on the plane and travel” thing is going to be a lot harder until we reach a point where we have a treatment regime and vaccine for this virus.

But, maybe, the silver lining (and I always try to look for one) is that this will lead to more sustainable tourism as countries try to reduce crowds in hopes of keeping the virus in check.

Maybe this is the end of overtourism.

Whatever happens, travel is going to be a very different and smaller industry in the post-Coronavirus world.

P.S. – To keep this website community-focused and community-supported, we’ve launched a Patreon! While you can still access this website for free, Patreon members get access to private content and articles, monthly Q&As, bonus Instagram videos, free books, postcards, entry to our events, and more! Click here to learn more and became part of the club!

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post How the Coronavirus Will Change Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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28 Things to See and Do in San Francisco

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The famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA at sunset
Updated: 03/24/20 | March 24th, 2020

I loved visiting San Francisco from the start. It’s a city home to hippies, techies, artists, immigrants, students, and everyone in between. There’s incredible music, wold-class food for all budgets, some of the BEST Asian food in the country, parks galore, and amazing bohemian vibe to it.

With so many diverse influences, it’s no surprise that San Francisco has evolved into a world-class city that has a ton of amazing things to see and do.

Personally, I love visiting San Francisco for the food. It’s home to some of the best Asian and Mexican food in the country (as well as some incredible cafes).

But there is also much more to see here too. And just because it’s an expensive place to live doesn’t mean a visit has to break the bank either.

To help you plan your trip, here are the best 28 things to see and do in San Francisco
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

The first thing I do whenever I arrive in a new destination is to take a walking tour. It’s the best way to get the lay of the land, see the highlights, and ask your questions to an expert local guide. Free Tours By Foot has a few different FREE options available covering different areas of the city. (Just make sure to tip your guide)

If you want something more in-depth, there are also plenty of paid tours you can take. Take Walks is my go-to walking tour company and they offer some interesting tours around the city. If you want to really learn a lot (while having fun), book a tour with them!
 

2. Walk the Golden Gate Bridge

The famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA in the summer
There is no question that the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks. Opened in 1937, it’s arguably the most-photographed bridge in the world. At its inception, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world, spanning 4,200 feet (1,280m) long and standing 746 feet (227m) tall.

You can walk across the bridge (which I recommended) or just stare at it from every angle and snap your own iconic photos. If you have time, make your way to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It has a waterfront promenade, sweeping views of the bridge, and a few easy hiking trails.
 

3. Visit Crissy Field

This park is located near the bridge and makes for a nice follow-up. It has a beach, some restaurants, piers where you can see locals fishing, and plenty of green space to relax. It offers some sweeping views of the harbor, making it a laid-back place to come in the summer to have a picnic, lounge in the sun, and watch life go by.
 

4. See The Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts is a Roman-style remnant of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (a world’s fair held in San Francisco). The outdoor rotunda and its lagoon are another one of the city’s most photographed sights. It’s also a fun social destination where you can bring friends to play giant Jenga, cornhole, ping pong, and other games. The city often has events here.

601 Lyon Street, +1 415-608-2220, palaceoffinearts.com. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm. Admission is free (some events charge admission).
 

5. Wander Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39

The wharf was originally dominated by Italian immigrants who helped popularize the city’s fish market. To this day, you can watch fishermen at work in Fish Alley (the main street where the fishermen work). If you want to try some of the mouthwatering seafood that San Francisco is famous for, I sugged Waterbar and the Anchor Oyster Bar.

Pier 39 is touristy but it’s also a fun way to spend an hour or so. There are buskers, tacky souvenir shops, arcades, an aquarium, and tons of overpriced restaurants (so avoid eating here).
 

6. Explore Alcatraz

The infamous Alcatraz prison on an island off of San Francisco, USA
Alcatraz is probably the most famous (or infamous) prison in America. From 1934-1963, it housed the country’s most notorious criminals (criminals like Al Capone). In its 29 year history, not a single prisoner successfully escaped (or so they say). After its closure, it became a national landmark. Visitors can explore the island, learn about the prison and what life was like as an inmate, and tour the interior. It gets very busy in the summer so be sure to book ahead.

+1 415-981-7625, alcatrazcruises.com. Tours run daily year-round and cost $39.90 USD which includes an audio tour.
 

7. Take a Day Trip to Berkeley

Located just 20 minutes across the bay by car, Berkeley is home to music, hippies, students, and the University of California – Berkeley (30% of the city’s population go to school here). You can take a tour of the campus (self-guided or guided), hike up the Berkeley Hills, or shop on Fourth Street (the main thoroughfare). You’ll also find lots of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, street performers, and eclectic shops to browse.
 

8. Hang out in the Mission

For an amazing view of the city, head to Dolores Park in the Mission District. If you’re a history buff, don’t miss the Misión San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores). Founded in 1776, it’s the oldest surviving structure in the city and home to the only cemetery within city limits. It’s the structure that gives this part of town its name.

The Mission District is also a fun place to spend a night out. The district has tons of great Mexican restaurants as well as lively bars and clubs. Grab a burrito at Taqueria Cancún or Papolete, or visit one of the cocktail bars on 16th (Dalva is good).
 

9. See Lombard Street

This is the world’s windiest street. Surrounded by gardens and flowers, it’s made up of eight hairpin turns because, during the 1920s, people in San Francisco were beginning to drive around in automobiles. However, many of the city’s famous hills were too steep to navigate. The idea of using a curved street to help vehicles move downhill was embraced and the hill’s slope went from 27% to 16%. Now you can watch the cars and bikers navigate the sharp turns as tourists gawk at them.
 

10. Visit Coit Tower

Perched atop Telegraph Hill, this art deco tower was built in 1933. Standing 180-feet tall (55m), it’s home to over 25 murals and offers a panoramic view of the city. The murals here were painted in 1934 by local artists and depict life in San Francisco during the Depression. The tower became a San Francisco Designated Landmark in 1984 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, +1 315-249-0995,sfrecpark.org/destination/telegraph-hill-pioneer-park/coit-tower. Open daily from 10am-5pm (6pm in the summer). Admission is $6 USD for city residents and $9 USD for visitors.
 

11. Eat in Chinatown

This is the biggest Chinatown in the United States (and it’s the second most famous, after New York City. Chinese immigrants first came to the West Coast in the 1850s and set up shop in San Francisco. Due to racial segregation, this neighborhood became predominantly Chinese and remained so even after segregation ended.

It’s one of the best places in the city to eat and you can find some incredible dim sum here. There are also lots of great teahouses, bars, souvenir stalls, and fortune cookie makers.

To really learn about the area, its history, and its people, take a walking tour with <a href="Take Walks. They’re my go-to walking tour company because they use expert local guides and their tours are always fun and educational.
 

12. Ride the Cable Cars

The famous streetcars of San Francisco, USA
No visit to San Francisco is complete without riding on a cable car. The cable car system in San Francisco is the last manually-operated system in the entire world. Of the 22 lines that were originally created in the 19th century, only three are still in operation. Since there is limited seating (and since they are one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city) waits can be long. Make sure you plan ahead (try to go during a weekday when there are fewer visitors). Tickets are $7 USD.
 

13. Go on a Harbor Tour

For a completely different look at the city, take an afternoon cruise of San Francisco Bay. You’ll get to see some wildlife, snap some great photos, and learn about the bay and its place in San Francisco’s history. Around 40% of California, drains into the bay and the area is home to all kinds of snakes, rays, otters, sharks, whales, sea lions, and more. A budget-friendly way to see the bay is to take the public ferries for $7.30 USD.

You can find prices and routes at sanfranciscobayferry.com.
 

14. Hang out in the Castro

San Fransico has been the de facto gay capital of the US since the 60s and 70s. The gay hub in the city is the Castro, San Francisco’s famous gay neighborhood (Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, had his office here). The neighborhood has a number of ethnic and modern restaurants as well as a bunch that serve locally-sourced organic food. On top of that, there are a plethora of wild and fun clubs that cater to both gay and straight crowds. If you’re looking for a fun nightlife, this is the neighborhood for you.
 

15. Explore Haight-Ashbury

The birthplace of America’s counterculture, the Haight was ground zero during the summer of 1967, a.k.a. The Summer of Love. Hippies used to live here but, eventually, all the colorful Victorian homes were bought up by more well-off residents as the area gentrified. It’s now home to high-end boutiques, hip cages, and chic restaurants. That said, you can still find some record stores, dive bars, and vintage clothing stores here.

If you really want to learn more about the area’s hippy past, take the Flower Power Walking Tour. It’s just $20 USD and will walk you through the neighborhood’s vibrant and eclectic past.
 

16. Rollerskate in Church

The Church of 8 Wheels is a former church that has been converted to an old school rollerskating arena. They have DJs and live music so it’s essentially a party on wheels. Admission is $10 USD and you can rent skates for $5 USD. It’s a cheap (and unique) way to have fun and meet people. There are times for both kids and adults too and they even organize lessons for people who have never roller-skated before.

554 Fillmore St., +1 415-752-1967, churchof8wheels.com. Open Friday-Sunday. Check the website for times as there are both all-ages and adult-only events.
 

17. See Muir Woods

The massive trees in the serene Muir Woods in San Francisco, USA
Named after famed naturalist John Muir, it’s located just 16 miles from downtown so its an easy place to visit. The place is home to over 240 acres of towering old-growth redwood trees. While the trees here are not as big as the sequoia trees in nearby Sequoia National Park, it’s nevertheless a relaxing place to visit. There are plenty of walking trails and it’s family/kid-friendly too.
 

18. Visit the Beat Museum

Dedicated to the Beat Generation (the 1950s counter-culture), here you’ll find original manuscripts, rare books, letters, and more from authors like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Founded in 2003, the museums has over 1,000 pieces of memorabilia including Ginsber’s typewriter and a first edition copy of Kerouac’s novel The Town and the City. They also hold regular events so check the website to see if anything is happening during your visit.

540 Broadway, +1 800-537-6822, kerouac.com. Open daily from 10am-7pm. Admission is $8 USD.
 

19. Learn at the Exploratorium

This interactive science museum has all kinds of exhibitions covering biology, gravity, light, animation, and much more. It’s very hands-on so it’s the perfect stop for anyone traveling with kids (though there are also adult-specific exhibitions too).

Pier 15, +1 415-528-4444, exploratorium.edu. Open Tuesday–Sunday from 10am-5pm. Admission is $29.95 USD.
 

20. Hang Out in Golden Gate Park

This massive park covers over 1,000 acres, making it 20% bigger than Central Park in NYC. Inside, you’ll find a Japanese garden, an arboretum, a museum, and lots of hiking and walking trails. Walking from end to end takes the better half a day. In the summer, it’s a popular spot to picnic, go for a stroll, and soak up the sun. Even though it sees over 24 million visitors each year, it’s never too hard to find a secluded spot for yourself.
 

21. Catch a Game

Oracle Arena in San Francisco at night full of fans
San Francisco locals love their sports teams, especially the Giants (their baseball team). If you’re in town during a game, be sure to head to Oracle Arena and take in the spectacle — it doesn’t get more American than this! The team is one of the longest-established and most successful in the league and you can get tickets for under $10 USD.
 

22. Visit the Cable Car Museum

When the cable cars launched in 1873, they were hugely popular and they changed the face of the city. To learn more and see all kinds of photos and relics from a bygone era, including some of the original cars, head to this museum. It’s not huge but it’s fun and insightful.

1201 Mason Street, +1 415-474-1887, cablecarmuseum.org. Open daily from 10am-5pm (6pm in the summer). Admission is free.
 

23. Tour Wine Country

A glass of wine being poured on a table outside in Napa Valley, USA
If you love wine and have time to leave the city, visit the world-famous Napa and Sonoma wine regions. Napa is one of the world’s leading wine-producing area and every year over 3 million people come to taste their way around the region. Located just over an hour from the city by car, there are plenty of companies that organize day trips to Napa Valley (usually for between $99-150 USD per person). However, day tours are usually a bit rushed. If you have the time, rent a car and stay overnight.
 

24. Enjoy the View from Twin Peaks

For another panoramic view of the city, drive or hike up to the top of Twin Peaks. Standing 925 feet high, you’ll get a sweeping 360-degree view of the city. Come for sunset and enjoy the view. There are also lots of trails weaving around the mountains so you can hike for a couple of hours here if you wanted.
 

25. Take a Food Tour

This city is known for its food. If you want to cast a wide culinary net and try a lot of different foods, consider taking a food tour. Here are a few companies worth checking out if you’re considering:

  • Wild SF Tours – A tasty food crawl of Chinatown and Little Italy where you can try dim sum, pizza, craft cocktail-inspired boba milk tea, and cannoli. Tickets from $69.
  • Secret Food Tours – Sample the best of the Mission District, including burritos, oysters, ice cream, and more! Tickets from $79 USD.
  • TasteBud Tours – A culinary exploration of Little Italy that stops off at 7 different local restaurants. Tickets from $68.50.

 

26. Day Trip to Oakland

Just across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco is Oakland. It’s considered the “Brooklyn” to San Francisco’s “Manhattan.” In recent years, Oakland has developed a niche for and craft beer and specialty restaurants. There are tons of bars and breweries, and they even have their own “Ale Trail” if you want to wander the city and sample its best drinks.

You can also visit Oakland Redwood Regional Park, Lake Merritt, or catch a baseball game at Oakland Coliseum. There’s a lot you can do in Oakland and you can easily spend a day or more here!
 

27. Visit the Asian Art Museum

This is one of the most comprehensive collections of Asian art in the world. The museum houses almost 20,000 items in its collection and you can get a free guided tour to walk you through all the highlights and special exhibits that the museum has to offer. There are both modern art exhibitions as well as historical artifacts and artwork. Check the website to see what temporary exhibitions are available during your visit.

200 Larkin St., +1 415-581-3500, asianart.org. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm (9pm on Thursdays). Admission is $15 USD.
 

28. Take a Quirky Tour or Visit a Weird Museum

San Francisco is an eclectic city to say the least so it should come as no surprise that there are a lot of unique tours and museums here. Some of the more fun and interesting tours options are:

  • San Francisco Love Tours – Explore the city in a hand painted VW bus and learn about San Francisco’s counter-culture icons while listening to hippie music from the Summer of Love. Tours from $45 USD.
  • GoCar Tours – Whip around the city in a go kart and see the sights as you bomb down hills (including the winding Lombard Street). Tours from $120 USD.

And, for weird / offbeat museums, visit:

  • The Antique Vibrator Museum – See what sex toys from the 1800s looks like!
  • The Gregangelo Museum – This “museum” is bursting with all kinds of weird decorations, themed rooms, secret passageways, hidden rooms, and all sorts of weird art and interior design.
  • The Peephole Cinema – Watch short silent films through a tiny public peephole in the Mission District.
  • Musée Mécanique – A collection of over 300 old arcade games from the 20th century.

***

While San Francisco may be known for its high cost of living, there are tons of fun things to see and do in the city that won’t break the bank. With a little planning and creativity, you can enjoy your time in San Francisco without going over budget.

And whether you’re looking for museums, nature, food, or nightlife, this city will not disappoint.

Book Your Trip to San Francisco: 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 suggested place is the The Green Tortoise. It’s the best hostel in the city. It has free breakfast, pub crawls, and dinners three times a week.

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!

Need a Guide?
San Francisco has some really great tours on offer. For an in-depth walking tour, check out <a href="Take Walks. They use expert local guides and have a super insightful (and fun) tour through Chinatown.

For something more hands-on like a segway tour, use Fat Tire Tours. They have a few different tours around the city and are a great alternative to a standard walking tour.

Looking for More Information on Visiting San Francisco?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to San Francisco with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

The post 28 Things to See and Do in San Francisco appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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An Update on Life with Coronavirus

Posted By : webmaster/ 330 0


The COVID-19 coronavirus as a digital image
Posted: 03/26/20 | March 26th, 2020

As many of you know, I have the coronavirus. Well, had. I’ve recovered. Luckily, I had a mild case. It felt like a really bad cold. My fever lasted only a few days, and the cough lasted until about day twelve. (Today is day fourteen.)

Given how bad this virus can be — even for people my age (I’m almost forty) — I count myself very lucky. (If you want to read about my experience, I posted about it here and here.)

I hardly ever get sick so this was a scary experience for me. I was mostly worried by reports saying that between days eight and ten, patients could suddenly crash and end up in the ICU. I knew I was probably fine when the fever broke, but until day ten, I never really felt out of the woods.

Additionally, as someone who loves to wake up early, I found the lethargy that came with being sick demoralizing, which made the experience even worse. It weighed heavily on my mental state, which in turn made me feel physically worse.

Here I was, trapped inside, where I could theoretically at least work, read, and watch movies — and I spent the majority of the day sleeping! I just ended up scrolling social media, which is never a good thing even in the best of times, and that just made my anxiety and emotional state worse.

However, I’m on the mend but will be quarantined for the foreseeable future. No one is watching my door, but I plan to be a good human and stay inside. I hope to get retested but, with tests so limited, I doubt I will be able to. They say you can shed the virus for up to three weeks (no one really knows for sure) so I’ll just avoid people for the next three weeks to be on the safe side. I do not want to spread this.

While the days in quarantine have been slow, now that I’m feeling better, I’ve been able to resume work (writing and fixing up the website). When not working, I’ve started to finally catch up on my binge-worthy shows (Altered Carbon and The Man in High Castle are great!) and reading (so far just finishing some books I started already, but I’m looking into diving into a wide range of sci-fi, history, and travel books in the coming weeks).

I look forward to the day I can leave my house and go for a walk. I’d always taken for granted the ability to just go outside. Not anymore. Luckily, there are plenty of things to do at home, but I do yearn for the outdoors. I fully plan to take more advantage of the outside when this is all over. (I suspect we all will.)

I guess it is true what they say: you don’t really appreciate things until they are gone.

***

On another note, watching the travel industry grind to a halt while having employees has been really mentally tough. It keeps me up a lot at night. I’ve already started seeing friends of mine lose their jobs and I know a few companies about to head under. It’s been sad to see. Even in a recession, people still travel.

But now? No one is going anywhere. March has felt like the longest decade of my life and it’s only going to get worse. I have a whole post coming out on what I think will happen to the travel industry because of this but it’s going to be bad.

This site (usually) gets a lot of traffic and we do very well, most of that goes back into other business endeavors (our conference TravelCon, our charity FLYTE, new projects, and all the events we do) so we don’t have a huge cushion.

If this website were just me, it wouldn’t be a problem but, with four full-time employees, a lot of my day is spent worrying about how I can make payroll.

Hopefully, we’ll make it through and people will start traveling again in late May/early June. All our fallback plans assumed people would still travel. We never imagined there would be no travel in the world. As Monty Python said, no one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition.

But the team and I are on the same page and we’ll figure out a way through.

This year, we were turning toward events and community initiatives through our Nomadic Network program.

But, since we should all be inside now (let’s flatten the curve so we can end this as quickly as possible), we can’t do events. But there’s a lot we can do virtually:

First, I’m all over Instagram these days, posting lots of updates from home and doing some live Q&As. Follow me there for updates, posts, and streams!

Second, I started a service where you can text me about travel, life, and anything else and I’ll respond. For real! My number is +1 (617) 284-0863. See, here’s a pic of me with the number so you know it’s real:

Nomadic Matt holding a sign with his phone number on it

Finally, as I’m passing time by writing new blog posts, I’d love to know if there are any topics you’d like me to write about. If so, leave them in the comments!

Let’s chat and pass the time. Now is when we need community the most. Let’s be here for each other during these trying times.

I hope you are FaceTiming the people that are important to you more often!

– Matt

P.S. – Some of you have asked if there’s anything you can do to help and we have some easy ways to do so:

Additionally, we started a Patreon. While you can continue to use this site for free, if you want to get more out of your experience here, we’ve created a program where each month you can get exclusive content, live chats, Q&A sessions, free books, and a lot more!

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post An Update on Life with Coronavirus appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Don’t Have (Travel) Regrets

Posted By : webmaster/ 337 0


no travel regrets
Updated: 3/24/2020 | March 24th, 2020

When I went to college (university as non-Americans say), a few of my friends studied abroad. They came back glowing from life-changing experiences, telling stories of new friends, spontaneous trips to exotic locations, foreign beauties, “weird” food, and life lessons learned. Their tales made it sound like they lived through a coming of age movie.

I thought of doing it myself. How exciting it must be! To be in a foreign country, learning a new language, reinventing yourself, meeting foreign girls, and being able to legally drink. For a college student, it sounded like magic.

But, though I took the forms to fill out each semester, I never studied abroad.

Semester after semester passed and I let the opportunities slip by.

Why?

For a simple reason: FEAR.

I was always too afraid. I wasn’t afraid of what would happen or if I would succeed. No, I had a worse kind of fear: FOMO. The fear of missing out. I worried constantly that life back home would pass me by and I’d be forgotten.

What changes would happen with my friends? What parties would I miss? What gossip? What if there was some big event at school and I wasn’t there? What inside jokes would I not be a part of? What if the President came? What if this! What if that!

As a shy, unconfident college kid, I never wanted to leave because I was (incorrectly) afraid that if I left, I’d come back and life would have moved on without me and I’d be a stranger to those around me.

I didn’t want to hear stories from my friends about things they did while I was away — I wanted to be a part of those experiences. In my mind, I knew I would have created my own stories abroad but I was too afraid about what stories I would miss if I left.

So I stayed at home.

And, though I did eventually go traveling, I regret not studying abroad.

You can’t change the past. And maybe if I had studied abroad I never would have gone traveling later or made this website. You can’t be mired in what ifs. You can only make the best decisions you can at the time with the information you have.

But I regret the decision because I let fear win.

I let fear rule my life. I went with the devil I knew because it was easier. I allowed me to stay in my comfort zone and never really test myself. I could always have the dream of “what might have been” without actually having to do it.

I put off a great experience because I was afraid of what the future might have happened.

You can’t let the fear win. Fear is the enemy of your dreams.

no travel regrets

It was a hard lesson to learn but missing out on studying abroad showed me that you can’t let your fear hold you back. In previous posts, I’ve written about how now is a good time to travel because of the economy and about how the only secret to long term traveling is desire.

But even those with the greatest desire to travel can still be held back by fear.

The Dutch have a saying: “He who is outside his door already has the hardest part of his journey behind him.”

If you talk to any traveler, they will all tell you the same thing: nothing changes back home. People might get a new job or a new girlfriend. Maybe they will move. Someone might get married. A restaurant might close. A bar might no longer be cool.

But the day to day life will be the same and when you know that, you’ll thank yourself for not giving into fear.

Life never gives you the same chance twice. Doors don’t reopen. Once they shut, they shut for good.

It’s easier to travel than you think. Once you take that first step out the door, anything is possible. Whether it’s a two week trip to Bali, a year-long trip around the world, or finally taking the family to Disney, get going now because you are missing a big world out there.

I regret never leaving to study abroad.

I can’t take back my decision but I can make sure I am never afraid to step out the door again.

Because, in the end, what will you regret not going more than you’ll regret going.

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

how to travel the world on $50 a dayMy New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel save money, get off the beaten path, and have a more local, richer travel experiences. Click here to learn more about the book, how it can help you, and you can start reading it today!
 
 
 
 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines. Start with Momondo.

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. (Here’s the proof.)

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. I never ever go on a trip without it. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. You should too.

Need Some Gear?
Check out our resource page for the best companies to use!

The post Don’t Have (Travel) Regrets appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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