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How to Travel Kazakhstan By Train

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a gold-topped mosque in Kazakhstan
Posted: 11/18/19 | November 18th, 2019

Kazakhstan is a country I’ve always wanted to visit. In fact, I’ve always wanted to go to all the “Stans”. It’s the region of the world I probably want to visit the most. After having lived in Kazakhstan for 8 years, Doug Fears knows a thing or two about the country and how to navigate it. In this guest post, Doug offers some in-depth advice about how to travel around Kazakhstan by train!

Night spilled across the Kazakh steppe. The train’s steel wheels clickety-clacked below, gently prompting me to point toward a bowl of plastic-wrapped apples. Suddenly, my drunken dining car companion began gesticulating wildly while repeating his favorite, and perhaps only, English-language phrase, “No problem!” With a shake of the head and wave of the hand, this newfound friend seemed to dismiss all other apples as second-rate. Apples originated from Kazakhstan, after all, and we had just departed the city of Almaty, “the father of apples.” I simply had to try one. (It was delicious.)

Taking the train through Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth largest country, presents a changing cultural tapestry every time. Imagine a vast land, once secretive and closed to outsiders, where travelers can now experience an eclectic blend of Silk Road culture, offbeat Soviet-era history, and wide-open spaces spiced with warm Kazakh hospitality.

I’ve shared cabins with young soldiers, border police, language professors and martial artists, just to name a few. My favorite memories are the meals and card games enjoyed with these folks, even when I didn’t have a common language.

So forget everything about the movie Borat, and climb aboard as you browse ancient bazaars, ride the rails, and trek to pristine mountain lakes.

Planning Your Route

map of Lake Burabay in Kazakhstan
I suggest the following itinerary: flying into the capital, Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) (airport code TSE), heading north to nearby Lake Burabay, taking a fast train back south to Karaganda, then an overnight classic train to Almaty in the southeast, with a possible extension to Turkistan (a city and region in the south of the country).

If you want to continue on in Central Asia, you can easily extend your trip from Almaty to see the gorgeous mountain vistas of nearby Kyrgyzstan or continue by train from Turkistan south to Uzbekistan.

The best time to go is between May and October, as northern Kazakhstan is blanketed in snow from November through April, with typical temps in the minus-20 range. Those wanting to snow ski or experience the excitement of New Year’s, the country’s biggest holiday, however, should consider a wintertime trip.

Visas are no longer needed for most visitors to Kazakhstan (for 30 days) and Kyrgyzstan (for 60 days), though advance visas are required for Uzbekistan, Russia, and China.

Buying Train Tickets

a statue in Karaganda
There are three types of trains: the fast business-class Talgo, regular long-distance trains, and regional electrics. Budget travelers should opt for regular trains for most trips. Regional electrics are generally slow and will be of limited use.

On regular trains — highly recommended for the best cultural experience — the two main classes are kupe (a four-person closed compartment with two upper and lower bunks) and platzkar (an open rolling dormitory holding 54 travelers on two-level bunks). The kupe is quieter and more private, but single women might want to choose the somewhat safer open platzkar, as they could be in a locked cabin with three men (no gender distinctions are made when making reservations). Also realize that not all trains run daily.

The new Kazakhstan e-ticket website is not easy to use: while there is an English menu, it requires you to enter destination cities using a Russian keyboard! Some foreign bankcards won’t work for payment, and even successful ticket purchases are often blocked by spam filters. However, there is an option to chat online with an English-language consultant who can help you find and purchase tickets.

My suggestion is to use this site as a reference to find train timetables and to purchase long-distance train tickets that are more likely to be sold out. You can use the helpful site Real Russia for international train ticket purchases (especially for traveling from Moscow to Central Asia).

Then go to a train station or train ticket office in the city, as some have kiosk machines that you can try. Another option is to write your destination and date on a piece of paper and present it to a ticket agent at a station or train office for help.

Once you have your ticket, the most important things to know are the date and time of departure, and wagon number. Check the posted signs in the station to find which platform number your train is on and walk toward that wagon — the conductor will check your ID and ticket and help you board.

Kazakhstan Costs

a mosque in Azamat, Kazakhstan
Traveling by train is much safer and enjoyable than by bus, and an incredible value for the long distances traveled. A standard overnight train ticket from Karaganda to Almaty will be about $9 USD for platzkar and $14 for kupe. By comparison, the business-class Talgo on the same route costs $25 in a four-berth kupe, but it does reduce travel time by six hours (and has much cleaner bathrooms!). A night train provides double value, serving as both bed and transport; they are cooler and more comfortable in the summer travel season too!

Local city buses are cheap, about $0.20 per ride, regardless of distance.

Hotel rooms in the city centers of Nur-Sultan and Almaty range from $30 to $50 per night with breakfast. Full apartments ($25/night) or shared guest rooms ($10/night) can be booked on Airbnb.

Food is also reasonably priced. I suggest finding a hotel with breakfast included on booking.com, eating picnic-style meals on the train, and enjoying a streetside café for other meals (grilled shashlik skewers, bread, salad, and drink for about $4), though if you can’t peel it or cook it, it’s best to forget it. And make sure to try the local apples!

Essential Kazakhstan Travel Hacks

Astana, Kazakhstan

  • Do reserve an upper bunk if you like relaxing onboard (lower bunks are shared during the daytime and used for communal meals), but you need to be reasonably fit to climb the mini-ladder.
  • Do bring a comfortable change of clothes to wear onboard (track suit, shorts, and T-shirt). It’s perfectly normal to ask others to step outside while you change.
  • Do bring extra food to share (tea/coffee, instant noodles, sausage, cucumbers, bread, biscuits, apples, sweets). Note: there is always a steaming samovar of hot water in each car for making tea or noodles.
  • Do pack a small train kit (mug, fork/spoon/knife, toilet paper, plate, wet wipes, plastic sandals, collapsible hand fan, deck of cards, bottled water).
  • Do take your street shoes off when entering a train compartment.
  • Do plan your bathroom visits, as the toilets are locked about 15 minutes before and after station stops (read the timetable posted in each wagon).
  • Do take some small gifts from your home country (magnets, key rings) to share.
  • Don’t buy unsold seats from touts lurking around stations — I’ve been stuck sharing a four-berth kupe with six people plus a giant-screen TV!
  • Don’t get scolded for lying on a bare mattress, but don’t pay extra for sheets and towels in kupe class. They are now included in the kupe ticket fare, but beware you may be awakened very early by the conductor collecting them on overnight trains!
  • Don’t be bullied by transport police or immigration officials at borders — show your passport and ticket and nothing more.
  • Don’t miss your stop, get stranded on the platform buying ice cream, or, above all, be forced to jump off a moving train!

Best Kazakhstan Train Routes

Kazakhstan trains
Because of the challenges with the ticketing website, I’ve listed the most helpful train routes for getting around. Note that all of these run daily.

While northbound trains from Nur-Sultan stop at Borovoye/Shchuchinsk, it might be easier to take a shared van or minibus for the short 2.5-hour trip. Just listen or ask for “Borovoye” at the Nur-Sultan-1 train station, where vans wait to fill up and leave throughout the day. You can do the same if heading directly south from Nur-Sultan to Karaganda, as a new tollway has opened, cutting the travel time between these two major cities to two hours, although all Nur-Sultan-to-Almaty trains also stop there. Note that both Nur-Sultan and Almaty have two train stations in different parts of the city — make sure you go to the right one!

Train #031 from Almaty to Semey in the northeast traces the historical “TurkSib” route — from here you can head east to explore the Altay Mountains or continue north into Russia to connect with the legendary Trans-Siberian route.

Route
Train No.
Departs
Arrives
Cost
Nur-Sultan-1 –
Borovoye
(Lake Burabay)
705 Talgo
07:56
10:04
$13
(4p kupe)
Borovoye –
Karaganda
706 Talgo
18:40
23:41
$14
(4p kupe)
$16 (2p)
Nur-Sultan NurlyZhol –
Karaganda
Almaty-1
010
20:10
23:22
14:40+1
$7platzkar
$10kupe
$18platzkar
$28kupe
Almaty-1 –
Nur-Sultan NurlyZhol
009
17:38
12:34+1
$18
(platzkar)
$28 (kupe)
Almaty-2 –
Turkistan
071
21:08
10:47+1
$18 (kupe)
Almaty-2 –
Semey
031 Talgo
13:25
07:52+1
$24 (kupe)

Note: +1 means “arriving the following day”; p = persons

What to See Along the Way

Kazakhstan mountains
The major cities of Nur-Sultan, Karaganda, and Almaty are all on the main rail line and make both good stopovers and bases for exploring the surrounding natural and historical sites. Other off-the-beaten-track locations, such as the Baykonur rocket base and Altay Mountains, require special permission and advance planning. Here’s an overview of the major destinations:

  • Nur-Sultan, formerly Astana) – one of the world’s youngest capital cities, a futuristic Tomorrowland-esqe blend of gleaming buildings, shopping centers, and sculpted monuments.
  • Lake Burabay (formerly Borovoye) – a scenic, forested lake resort just 2.5 hours north of Nur-Sultan, featuring a wide range of accommodations and attractions.
  • Karaganda – Kazakhstan’s “third city,” with its leafy wide boulevards, is a good base for exploring Soviet-era history, particularly the museum of political repression at nearby Dolinka, one of the largest labor camps in the Gulag system.
  • Almaty – Central Asia’s most cosmopolitan city. The stunning backdrop of the Tien Shan Mountains frames this busy business center, a great base for making day trips to the nearby mountains, the skate/ski center at Medeu/Chimbulak, and the red rock Charyn Canyon.
  • Turkistan – Kazakhstan’s holiest site, and the country’s best place to see Silk Road architecture and tile work.
  • Baykonur Cosmodrome – the world’s most active launch site for manned space missions. Rocket enthusiasts will need to book well in advance with an agency like Nomadic Travel Kazakhstan to try and see a launch.
  • The Far Northeast – Well off the beaten path, Semey, Ust-Kamenogorsk, and the pristine Altay Mountains are in a beautiful region worth the extra effort to see. Visiting the sensitive border zone or former Polygon nuclear test site will require special permits and advance planning.

***

As a child of the Cold War era, I recall hiding under my desk during drills to the sound of air-raid sirens, as we lived in genuine fear of nuclear war. I never dreamed I would visit the big blank spots on the map labeled “USSR,” especially the Siberian steppe and Central Asia.

Nowadays, with internet communication and open borders, an amazing opportunity awaits to wander across these once-forbidden zones, sharing goodwill and learning something too.

And one final tip: make sure to buy apples before you board the train! Though I only visited the train’s dining car once, I did purchase the pack of shiny apples that evening, munching on what I figured was a true local delicacy. The next morning when unpacking, though, one lazily rolled across the table, revealing a surprise sticker reading “Product of USA”!

Douglas Fears has always loved everything about trains, boats, and maps. After running a marathon on every continent and working as a computer consultant for 20 years, he moved to Kazakhstan and spent 8 years working in education and administration. He currently lives on the Black Sea and spends his time reading, mentoring young people, helping his wife teach English and writing funny travel stories for his blog Rails, Whales and Tales.

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 How to Travel Kazakhstan By Train appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Best Travel Credit Cards for 2019

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a person using their travel credit card to shop on their laptop
Posted: 11/16/2019 | November 16th, 2019

It can be difficult to choose the best travel credit card. There are hundreds upon hundreds out there — and so many of them seem to be the same! Which one is right for you? How do you decide? Which one gives you the best points? Are the fees worth it?

For someone who isn’t deep into the travel the industry, it can be very confusing — and a bit nervewracking — to figure out which card to get.

Let me say this: the best travel credit card is the one that aligns with your travel goals.

Are you interested in loyalty to a brand, free rewards, or avoiding fees? Do you want to milk the rewards and bonus system to get free flights, or do you just want a card that won’t charge you a fee for using it at that restaurant in Brazil? Is elite status the most important perk for you? Do you want points you can use like cash for anything?

Obviously, the airline and hotel cards you’ll pick are going to be based on those you use a lot. For example, I have a Marriott card and a Delta card because those are my brands of choice.

But, for those general points credit cards, are some cards better than the rest for daily use? I think so. If you don’t have any specific goals in mind and are just looking for some you can use in your day-to-day life, here’s a list of what I think the best travel credit cards are, their features, and why and when you should have them.

Note: Once in a while I get new cards if they have a good bonus, but for the most part, I think that you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin.

MY TOP PICK: Chase Sapphire Reserve

For me, this is the gold standard of travel cards. Yes, there’s a high fee but you get a lot of perks (and cashback) that I think this card is worth the fee and it is the card I use the most. When you sign-up for the card, you get:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases
  • $300 in annual travel credit
  • 3x points on travel and restaurants
  • 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • The ability to transfer to points to a dozen travel brands (I use this feature the most)
  • A statement credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application
  • Free Priority Pass lounge access (a super awesome perk)
  • No foreign transaction fees

When you factor in that $300 credit, you’re really paying only $150 a year. You get 3x on restaurants and travel (which is most of my spending). Combined with the other perks, this is my all-around favorite card and the one I use the most for my day-to-day spending. I think this card gives you the most value for your money, especially if you are a frequent traveler.

—-> Sign up for this card by clicking here!

Chase Preferred

This card is like the “starter” version of the previous card. You don’t get as many perks, but if you’re dead-set on not paying a high yearly fee (this card only $95 a year), you can’t go wrong with this card. It’s great for the more infrequent traveler (this is the card I got my mother). When you sign for this card, you’ll get:

  • 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000
  • 2x points on travel and restaurants
  • 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • No foreign transaction fees

It’s a simple, easy to use card.
—-> Sign up for this card by clicking here!

Citi Prestige

I’m personally not a huge fan of this card and I don’t have a lot of Citi cards in general as I’m not a huge fan of their transfer partners. But, this card is great for people who stay at hotels because the fourth-night-free option (even though it’s capped) will cover the cost of this card’s fee right away. Plus, you get a $250 travel credit with this card too. Especially, when used right, you can actually make some money on this card! This card comes with a $495 yearly fee and the following perks:

  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000
  • 5x points on airfare and restaurants
  • 3x points on hotels and cruises
  • 1x points on everything else
  • Complimentary fourth night at a hotel when booking through ThankYou.com (capped at twice per year though)
  • Free Priority Pass
  • $250 travel credit every year
  • Points transfer to their partners, including 16 different airlines
  • No foreign transaction fees

I don’t love this card because I don’t use a lot of their transfer partners but if you stay in a lot of hotels and use any of their transfer partners frequently, this is a must get card because it pays for itself and is easy to get points through their spending bonus structure!

—-> Sign up for this card by clicking here!

American Express EveryDay

I love this no-fee Amex card for the bonus points and the 2x points at supermarkets. I use it when I’m buying groceries because it’s a great way to rack up Amex points. When you sign up for this card, you’ll get:

  • 20% extra points when you use your card 20 or more times each billing cycle
  • 2x points at supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year)
  • 1 point for every dollar spent
  • Double points on every dollar of eligible travel purchases when you book through AmexTravel.com

It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s a quick way to get points.
—-> Sign up for this card by clicking here!

Capital One Venture

I used to really dislike this card but, with the recent changes they made last year and the addition of transfer partners and 10x points on hotels via hotels.com, this is now one of my favorite credit cards. I absolutely think you should get this card, especially if you’re looking for a no-fee, easy to use card. When you sign up for this card, you get:

  • No fees for the first year, $95 after that
  • 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 within the first three months
  • Unlimited 2x miles on every dollar spent
  • 10x miles on bookings via hotels.com
  • Transfer miles to any of their 10+ travel partners
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • No foreign transaction fees

Factor in the free first year and this a card that should be in your wallet. When they relaunched it, I liked it so much I got one myself!
—-> Sign up for this card!

Chase Freedom

If you’re looking for something more in the ways of cashback and/or want to stick with Chase points over Amex points, this is the best card for it. It’s simple and easy to use and the cashback points give you more flexibility than points. For a traveler like myself, I prefer points but, for some people, like my dad who doesn’t fly a lot, he’d rather get cashback. So he actually has this card. When you sign up for this card, you’ll get:

  • No annual fee
  • $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases

If you’re like my dad and want a no-fee card that gives you cash back, then this card is for you!

—-> Sign up for this card by clicking here!

***

One thing to remember is that there’s not one card to use for all occasions. Each card has its perks, so you want to maximize your point earning by sticking and matching your spending. I use three or four cards for all my spending. Chase for travel and restaurants, American Express for groceries, Delta for travel perks on the airline, and Marriott for my hotel stays. That way I always get the most points possible for every dollar you spend without spreading my points around too much.

So, if you’re looking for a travel credit card, pick one of the above. They are the best in my opinion.

Advertiser Disclosure: “Nomadic Matt has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Nomadic Matt and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.”

Editorial Disclosure: “Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.”

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 The Best Travel Credit Cards for 2019 appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Best Business Travel Credit Cards for Digital Nomads

Posted By : webmaster/ 226 0


an assortment of business credit cards, including a Visa, Mastercard, and American Express
Posted: 11/16/19 | November 16th, 2019

One of the best parts about running a business is the cool business travel credit cards you get access to. These cards tend to have a lot better points-earning abilities and perks than consumer cards. I’ve been running this website for eleven years and have tried a lot of cards during that time.

I’m often asked by other bloggers, creators, and entrepenuers which business travel credit card is the best.

Well, first, let me say, there is no “best.”

Every business is different, and everyone has different needs. For example, I love the Amex Platinum card’s Delta lounge perk since I fly Delta a lot. (The Centurian Lounges are wonderful too.) Similarly, I love the Delta card because the Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM) bonus helps me maintain my status. But if you aren’t a Delta flier, then that card doesn’t make sense for you. I also use Chase Ink a lot because their Ultimate Rewards points transfer to a lot of airlines I want to fly. But maybe you like to fly other airlines.

Everyone is different. I have friends who live by American Airlines card, Citi Cards, American Express, and so forth. We’re all different.

So ask yourself, “What is my goal?”

Are you interested in loyalty to a brand, free rewards, or avoiding fees? Do you want to milk the rewards and bonus system to get free flights, or do you just want a card that won’t charge you a fee for using it at that restaurant in Brazil? Is elite status the most important perk for you? Do you want points you can use like cash for anything?

Get the card that aligns with your goals.

But, while there is no one “best” card, there are some that are better than others. Here is my list of favorite travel-related business credit cards.

MY FAVORITE: Chase Ink Business Preferred Card

This is my favorite all-around business card. I really like transferring Chase points for Star Alliance flights and Hyatt hotels, I love the 3x points on digital ad spends (we run a lot of Facebook ads), and when you throw in 3x points per dollar spent on travel and you have everything I need. Plus, with an annual fee of only $95, it’s really unbeatable value for money. When you get this card, you’ll get:

  • 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases
  • 3x points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent
  • 1x points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

This card should be in every business owner’s wallet. I can’t recommend it enough.

—-> Sign up for this card by clicking here!

American Express Business Platinum Card

This is one of the best cards out there, especially if you’re a Delta flyer or make a lot of large purchases. The perks include the following:

  • 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 (and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000) within the first three months
  • 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels using amextravel.com
  • 1.5x points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more
  • 35% of points back when you use points for booking flights
  • $200 credit on fees related to your favorite airline
  • Up to $200 in credit with Dell
  • $100 for Global Entry
  • Free Priority Pass
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • Hilton Honors Gold status
  • One year WeWork membership (this expires at the end of 2019)

Fees: $595 annually, no foreign transaction fees

While the annual fee is pretty high, it does come with a lot of travel benefits that I tend to use a lot. The welcome bonus definitely makes it a no-brainer in the first year so you can get all those points. The added statement credits and lounge access makes the card worth carrying for me.
—-> Sign up for this card by clicking here!

Capital One Spark Miles for Business

I like this card because you get two points on everything. It’s simple. So I use this for the non-bonus categories like paying vendors, restaurants, and whatever else doesn’t come with a bonus from Amex or Chase. Whatever I can’t get 3 points per dollar on them with, I use this card for. When you sign up, you get the following benefits:

  • 50,000 miles when you spend $4,500 within the first three months
  • 2x miles on every purchase
  • No blackouts or seat restrictions
  • Points transfer to any of their 10+ travel partners
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre?
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro for the first year, $95 annually after that

—-> Sign up for this card!

American Express Business Gold Card

This is a great card to earn extra points on your biggest spending categories. You can get up to 4x points on selected categories so I will put my two largest spending categories on this card. This card comes with a $295 yearly fee and the following perks:

  • 4x Membership Rewards points on two select categories where you spend the most each month
  • 1x rewards on other purchases
  • 25% points back after you book a flight using Pay with Points
  • A $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities, and a room upgrade (when available) when you book two consecutive nights at any accommodation in The Hotel Collection
  • No foreign transaction fees

—-> Sign up for this card!

Airline and Hotel Cards

What about airline and hotel cards? Well, you should get the card for the airline and/or hotel you’re loyal to because they come with free checked bags and preferred boarding and a few other perks. I tend not to use them for my everyday spending since you get better value per dollar spent with Chase or American Express.

I always get the cards for the bonus offer and then keep the cards for the perks. Most fees are only $95 a year so it’s an easy business expense.

Here are my favorite business cards for various airlines and hotels:

***

There are a lot of options for business cards, so you can always find something to meet your needs. I usually split my spending between a few cards and then shift my spending if I need to hit any bonus requirements. I have a Delta card for the pay-with-points option, a Marriott card because I stay there a lot, and Chase and American Express cards for everything else.

If you don’t want this many cards and want to keep things simple, stick to a hotel or airline card for the perks and then pick whatever one other card has the most perks you need and just use those!

Advertiser Disclosure: “Nomadic Matt has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Nomadic Matt and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.”

Editorial Disclosure: “Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.”

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 Business Travel Credit Cards for Digital Nomads appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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TravelCon: Speakers, Talks, and More News!

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Travelcon 2020 in New Orleans, United States
Posted: 11/14/2019 | November 14th, 2019

We’re now a little more than 6 months from TravelCon 2020! (Where does the time go?)

Today, I wanted to give you a little update on what we are doing with the event. As I mentioned last time, we’re making a lot of changes to next year’s conference:

  • We’re adding in a second lunch!
  • We’re doing a scavenger hunt through the city!
  • We’re adding in pre- and post-conference tours of the city and region!
  • We’re adding longer breaks between sessions.
  • We’re adding longer niche meet-ups so you can hang out with people more!
  • And we’re making a whole lot more changes that will be talking about soon

There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening. Moreover, we’re flushing out our speaker list a lot more and, while we still have lots more to add, we’ve confirmed some new speakers for you:

Annemarie Dooling

Wall Street Journal

Nora Dunn

The Professional Hobo

Lawrence Ferber

Writer

Rainer Jenss

Family Travel Association

Christine Kaaloa

GRRRLTRAVELER

Rachelle Lucas

The Travel Bite

Sol Orwell

Examine.com

Charu Suri

Writer

Somto Ugwueze

Somto Seeks

(For a full list of speakers, check out this page!)

Moreover, we’ve worked on our schedule more and I’m happy to announce that some of the talks you’ll find this year will include:

  • Ethics in travel writing
  • How to succeed as a freelancer
  • How to become a travel agent
  • How to gain clients as a travel agent
  • How to effectively build you network
  • How to create A/B tests
  • Writing sales pages
  • Tax and business issues
  • How to protect your IP
  • How to hire the right team
  • More talks on RV travel
  • More talks on LGBTQ travel
  • More talks on Instagram, incuding monetization, community, and photography

We’ve got a lot more talks than that but those are some of the new ones we’re adding this year!

Additionally, while I can’t give specifics in this post (the ink isn’t dry yet), we’ve lined up 20 confirmed sponsors so far, including a lot of new DMOs we haven’t had before! I’m really excited about that as we’re continuing to expand and grow the conference! (If you’re interested in sponsoring, check out this page!).

We’re really excited about next year’s event. Over the next few months, we’ll be nailing down our party details, fam trips, and other plans so I’ll be sharing them in the new year.

If you want to attend the conference, 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 300 tickets to next year’s event and expect to sell out again so don’t wait to get a ticket.

That’s it for today’s update! I hope to see you at next year’s event! If you have questions, ask in the comments and I’ll answer them.

– 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 TravelCon: Speakers, Talks, and More News! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Best Tour Companies in Israel

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people in front of the Western Wall in Israel
Posted: 11/12/19 | November 12th, 2019

From unexpectedly cosmopolitan Tel Aviv — including a rapidly expanding foodie scene with delicious organic offerings — and the holy city of Jerusalem to the natural wonders of the Negev Desert and the historic Masada National Park and other ancient archaeological sites, Israel has a lot to see.

Israel is home to thousands upon thousands of years of history, as well as key historical sites for the three major monotheistic religions, making this a destination for millions of tourists and pilgrims every year.

The country is pretty small and you can get around it very easily, especially if you rent a car. It’s just 290 miles from Haifa on the northern tip of Israel to Eliat in the south (about five hours of driving).

That said, some people don’t want to drive, and some places out in the desert are hard to get to. For those people, there are tours! There are lots of options, from walking tours in Tel Aviv to multiday tours across the country (and neighboring countries).

I’ve put together a list of my favorite tour companies in Israel. They focus on different kinds of travel, but all offer good value for the money:

1. Abraham Tours

Abraham Tours aim to suit independent travelers, and give you lots of information about the culture, history, and politics of the region so you can be better informed while you travel around Israel.

Generally aimed at budget travelers, the tours range between two and 12 days in length and cater to those keen to go hiking, experience Israeli food, or head into the desert. The company has short half- or one-day tours, like a Jerusalem graffiti tour for $28, or a kibbutz experience from Tel Aviv for $63. A three-day tour of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea starts at $146; a five-day trip through northern and coastal Israel costs $375.

They also run “dual narrative” tours of Gaza, Jerusalem, and Hebron, which include activities like driving along the Gaza border, exploring Jericho, seminars on the Gaza-Israel conflict, and video calls with Gaza residents, designed to help you understand both sides. These one-day trips cost around $100.

2. Delicious Israel

Delicious Israel offers small-group walking tours covering places like the Carmel and Levinsky Markets in Tel Aviv and the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, where you’ll be able to taste authentic hummus, shakshuka, and much more. There’s also a tour that includes a cooking class after the shopping part. Tours range from $90 to $120, depending on the length.

3. Bein Harim Tours

These days, Bein Harim, founded in 1993, has over 70 tour options, so it’s easy to choose exactly what you want to see and do. It offers small group tours — both one-day visits to all the major tourist destinations and multiday tours up to 12 days in length, some including nearby Jordan. The one-day trips range from $73 to explore Jerusalem up to $125 to visit Bethlehem and Jericho. Multiday trips range from $300 for two days up to $2,000 for 12 days, for which you can choose options like the history and archaeology of Israel, or a Christian-oriented package.

4. Intrepid

Intrepid offers really high-quality, authentic tours in small groups, and focuses on staying in locally run accommodations like small guesthouses and homestays, and visiting locally-owned restaurants and shops.

Intrepid offers a dozen trips covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories, from a five-day highlight tour (around $770) up to 26-day journeys that also visit Egypt and Jordan (up to $8,000). It also has specialized tours, including a nine-day Christmas trip and a couple of lower-priced ones especially for those under 30.

5. Bike Israel

A unique and really enjoyable way to explore Israel is on a bike tour — it’s a country with reasonably short distances, and the routes these tours cover varied landscapes: desert areas, dirt roads, and seaside routes. (If you’re worried your fitness level might not be up to it, Bike Israel now also offers e-bikes.)

Tours range from a half-day seaside ride near Tel Aviv to multiday trips in the desert to cycling between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Prices range from $100 for a half-day; the longer trips, depending on the number of participants, can be as little as $400.

6. World Expeditions

World Expeditions focuses on thoughtful travel and wants you to experience cultural immersion on its tours. It has a focus on hiring well-trained, enthusiastic local guides and also includes some degree of adventure.

In Israel, World Expeditions offers trips between six and 14 days in length. Some are self-guided hikes with transfers between trails and accommodation each day, hiking through the Galilee and other beautiful areas (starting at $1,300). The longest tour takes in Jordan and the Palestinian Territories as well as the key sites of Israel, and spends one night in a Bedouin camp, for around $7,000.

7. Mejdi Tours

Mejdi Tours has a strong focus on cultural immersion, social responsibility, and giving back, and its tours focus on travelers who want to do more than just basic sightseeing. The word “mejdi” translates as “honor and respect,” which are values the company definitely works hard on.

In Israel, you can join various multiday tours, each with a different focus. For example, in 2020 it is running a ten-day multinarrative tour of Israel and Palestine in conjunction with Hands of Peace (from $3,900). As well as visiting Jerusalem’s holy sites and the Dead Sea, this tour includes meeting politicians and visiting a refugee camp.

If food is more your thing, then Mejdi also has a one-week culinary and wellness tour (starting at $4,900) that includes an incredible range of eating experiences along with yoga classes and personal development.

***

Joining a tour in Israel is a sure way to make sure you don’t miss out on learning all the cultural and historical nuances of this amazing country. From short walking tours of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, through one- or two-week trips covering most of Israel (and neighboring lands), and even specialized trips focusing on religion or politics or food or nature, there are many fantastic ways to see Israel on a group tour.

Book Your Trip to Israel: 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!

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





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5 LGBTQ Travel Tips for Asia

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Charlotte and Natalie at the Batu Caves
Posted: 11/7/2019 | November 7th, 2019

In this guest post, Charlotte Hockin offers some insight into gay travel in Asia. She and her girlfriend, Natalie, have been traveling around the continent for the past two years. Here’s what they’ve learned from traveling as a lesbian couple in Asia.

Asia is a vibrant, diverse, and exciting continent to visit. However, for LGBT travelers, it can sometimes seem like a daunting prospect. There are countries that criminalize homosexuality, deeply pious states and regions, and places that have negative social opinions of the LGBT community. It doesn’t exactly sound like all fun and rainbows, does it?

When my girlfriend and I set off on our Asian adventures two years ago, we had no idea what to expect but admittedly were rattled. Not only were we backpacking for the first time but we were traveling as a couple. Neither of us were really into social media at that point, so it almost felt like we were alone. The only lesbian couple to ever travel! Sounds silly, I know, but that’s how it felt.

Fast-forward two years, and we’ve spent the better part of that time traveling around Asia. And do you know what? Gay travel there has been one hell of a ride! I mean, we’ve experienced it all: we’ve visited gay-friendly destinations, attended illegal drag shows, stayed with local families, and on the rare occasion, been the victim of discrimination and hostility.

With this in mind, we have put together this comprehensive guide for LGBT travelers in Asia (excluding the Middle-East & Russia). We want to share our experiences as a same-sex couple in Asia, as well as lay out all the factors that you should consider when planning your trip.

We believe that travel should be for everyone, and with our guidance, you can look forward to an incredible and, most importantly, safe journey of a lifetime.

Tip 1: Research local laws

Charlotte and Natalie on a beach in Bali
When planning your trip, it’s important to be aware of local laws regarding the LGBT community in each country you want to visit. At the same time, I don’t want you to make the common mistake of obsessing about these laws. Or worse, letting the law prevent you from visiting certain places.

Often, the laws relating to acts of homosexuality are incredibly complex. Some only apply to gay men, others mean the LGBT community are not protected from discrimination, and some countries implement sharia law. Governments do not expect tourists to get their head around this for the sake of a two-week trip. As a result, these laws are usually only enforced for locals, not tourists.

Nevertheless, that’s not to say you shouldn’t exercise caution when in public places. We suggest avoiding any public display of affection (PDA) or anything you think may draw unnecessary attention. Not just for the purpose of the law, but for the sake of being respectful. (I will touch further on understanding local cultures and social opinions below.)

On the other hand, some LGBT travelers may not want to even visit countries where these laws exist. And that’s understandable. But Asia is a huge continent.

To put things into perspective, out of the 72 countries that still criminalize homosexuality, just 10 are in Asia (outside the Middle East and Russia). That means that even if you wanted to boycott the countries where anti-gay laws are in place, close to 80% of Asia is yours for the taking.

Personally, we don’t have an issue visiting countries where homosexuality is illegal. We’ve spent a lot of time in the past two years in Malaysia, for example, where Islamic law prevails, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. (Pristine beaches, delectable cuisine, vibrant culture — what’s not to love?)

In the larger cities, such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang, we found a buzzing LGBT community. And we even illegally attended a spectacular drag show!

So I guess what I’m trying to say is: you don’t need to dismiss traveling in Asia for the sake of a few old-fashioned laws. Gay travel there is way too much fun for that!

Here are a few resources to help you research local laws:

Tip 2: Understand the local culture

Charlotte and Natalie diving into a pool in front of a volcano in Bali
Understanding and respecting the local culture in each place you visit is just as — if not more — important than the first tip. Why? Well, think about it: you’re going to spend way more time in the company of residents than you are around law enforcement officers. Comprehending the social opinion of locals could save you a lot of awkwardness and funny looks in the long run.

You see, what we discovered is that even in some countries where homosexuality is legal, it remains taboo in the community. This could be due to religious beliefs, a lack of education around the subject, or, in some cases, plain bigotry.

However, isn’t that so in most places? Even in the most advanced countries, I think we can safely say there is room for improvement.

At the same time, understanding the local culture is also important for every traveler. PDA, for example, is frowned upon in most countries in Asia — even if you are a straight couple.

On the other hand, holding hands with somebody of the same sex is extremely common in India, whether it be your brother, sister, friend, or otherwise.

This is why it’s essential to educate yourself in advance, so you know what to expect.

The typical social situations we have found ourselves in have never been a cause for concern when traveling in Asia. Often people assume we are sisters or friends. And even on the rare occasion that we’ve tried to explain our relationship, some locals don’t understand. We once stayed with a family in Indonesia for over a week, and they never could get their head around the fact that we were a couple.

But that was OK with us. What’s important is that they treated us like family, and honestly, it’s one of our most memorable travel experiences.

On the other hand, there have been times where we were allocated a twin room despite booking a double, been catcalled for being lesbians, and had religious jargon thrown at us.

But again, doesn’t this happen everywhere?

We certainly didn’t allow these minor incidents to ruin our travel experience. On the grand scale of things, these are few and far between amid all the breathtaking experiences we had.

The United Nations Development Programme has a series of country reports about Being LGBT in Asia, including in-depth sections devoted to cultural and social attitudes.

Tip 3: Be prepared to adapt

Charlotte and Natalie at the Anapurna Basecamp
When you take into consideration everything we’ve talked about, being prepared to adapt is part and parcel of gay travel in Asia. Although, when you think about it, doesn’t this apply to all travelers?

What I’m trying to say is that any place you travel to is bound to require an element of adaptation, whether it be the food you eat, the clothes you wear, or the way in which you address the locals. It’s about recognizing what’s socially acceptable and behaving in a way that’s both respectful and appropriate.

That said, it’s a controversial subject whether LGBT couples should travel to destinations where they can’t be entirely themselves. We get challenged on this a lot, and our point is simply this: There are many elements to some religions, cultures, and the like, that I’m sure many of us don’t agree with. However, does that mean we should boycott those countries? I think it would leave a very limited pool to choose from if that were the case.

At the same time, we can empathize with those who may not feel comfortable traveling to places where they can’t be themselves. Or perhaps feel anxious as a solo LGBT traveler or an LGBT couple. If this is the case, there are plenty of gay-friendly travel destinations both in Asia and elsewhere in the world. Either way, so long as you do your research and take all the necessary precautions, you have no reason to be afraid.

Tip 4: Look up the local gay scene

Charlotte and Natalie sleeping in a jungle in Thailand
When traveling to a new place, one of the first things we do is look up if there’s a local gay scene. Let’s face it: everybody knows that gay bars are the most fun! But on a serious note, it’s comforting knowing there is a safe place you can go to — a space where you can be yourself without judgment and let your hair down.

Thankfully, most Asian countries boast an active gay scene of some kind. Particularly in the big cities, you can expect to find gay bars, nightclubs, saunas, gay-friendly hotels, and drag shows in abundance! We’ve had some of the wildest nights of our travels exploring the local gay scene. Whether it’s bar-hopping in Bangkok or attending illegal drag shows in Kuala Lumpur, you’re guaranteed a night to remember!

While a quick Google search will tell you where all the queer fun is at, Travel Gay Asia is an excellent website for finding LGBT-friendly spots in any city.

Tip 5: Connect with other LGBT travelers or locals

Charlotte and Natalie in front of a starry sky in Asia
Again, socializing with people who understand you and won’t judge you is a reassuring way to adapt to a new place or culture. Of course, locating the local gay scene is a great start; however, not everybody has the guts to walk into a bar or nightclub on their own and attempt to make friends.

Thankfully, there are easier ways of meeting people in this day and age. Yes, the good old web has inundated us with opportunities to connect with like-minded people.

We suggest using social media to locate other LGBT travelers or locals in your area. Facebook is a fantastic platform for this, where a simple search will yield results for any LGBT groups in your area. Similarly, navigating certain hashtags on Instagram such as #gaybangkok or #LGBTAsia can help you locate all things LGBT near you.

Some useful platforms for meeting people are:

You don’t need to use the above dating apps in any sort of romantic way either — they are just great resources for connecting with LGBT locals and travelers. If you’re lucky, you may find yourself connecting with a local who can show you all the best spots in their area.

***

While Gay Travel in Asia might seem daunting, it is far less scary than it sounds on paper. As a whole, we can honestly say we had nothing but a positive experience and made memories that will last us a lifetime. Asia is an extraordinary continent, oozing adventure, beauty, and culture. By following the advice in our article, and taking advantage of all the useful resources we’ve provided, we are confident Asia will steal your heart. Just as she has stolen ours.

Charlotte and Natalie are the explorers and adventurers behind Our Taste For Life. You will often find them wandering off the beaten path, immersed in nature, or enjoying authentic cultural experiences. The rest of the time, you will find them eating. Follow their journey on their blog or Instagram.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld 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 5 LGBTQ Travel Tips for Asia appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Is Georgia Safe to Visit?

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a view of Tbilisi from one side of the river bank, with homes and a church at the bank's edge
Posted: 11/3/19 | November 3rd, 2019

In recent years, there have been a handful of countries that have emerged as exciting up-and-coming travel destinations. These are destinations that are affordable, interesting, unique, and most importantly, free from the hordes of tourists that have clogged the cultural arteries of cities like Barcelona, Reykjavik, and Venice.

One of those countries is Georgia.

Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Georgia has become a popular destination in region for both backpackers and digital nomads alike. Tourist numbers are climbing fast, with nearly nine million foreigners visiting Georgia in 2018. While the majority of them come from neighboring countries, it’s also a destination that is quickly becoming popular with western tourists, too.

Tbilisi, the country’s capital, sees the most visitors — and for good reason. It’s a stunning city with a picturesque Old Town that has been colorfully restored in recent years. There is also lots to see and do in and around the city, like exploring the Narikala fort ruins, seeing the Jvari Monastery on the nearby mountain top, and visiting the many beautiful cathedrals and churches that dot the city.

Outside of Tbilisi, travelers can explore the mountains and caves of Georgia’s picturesque landscapes and if you like wine, you’ll be happy to learn that Georgia is actually one of the oldest wine regions in the world!

Best of all, Georgia is super cheap (a huge plus in my book)!

But is Georgia safe?

While there was some danger a decade back during the Russo-Georgian War, Georgia is now a safe country to visit. In fact, the International Crime Index rated Georgia as the seventh safest country in the world in 2017!

But because many people don’t know much about Georgia, I still get some messages from people asking about the safety concerns there.

So, what do you need to think about before you go to Georgia? Are there any places you shouldn’t go?

The eight safety tips below will tell you all about the risks in Georgia and how to deal with them so that you can enjoy your trip safely.

1. Avoid South Ossetia and Abkhazia – The regions of South Ossetia (on the Russian border, north of Tbilisi) and Abkhazia (bordering Russia and the Black Sea in the far west of Georgia) are not safe to visit. These are breakaway regions of Georgia which have experienced high conflict in recent years.

There are still car bombs and other terrorist attacks reported periodically in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and there are unexploded landmines too.

Just don’t visit the areas, and you’ll be fine.

Also, don’t try to travel through them into Georgia from Russia, as that’s illegal under Georgian law.

2. Stay alert – Like in any country where the locals see the tourists as being wealthier, petty theft can happen. It’s a lower risk than in many countries but it’s still important to take precautions.

Don’t wear flashy jewelry or watches or flaunt large amounts of cash. Keep an eye on your bags at all times too. The most common incidents occur in busy tourist areas or on crowded public transportation. If you can keep your guard up in these places, you’ll be fine.

3. Beware of the bar scam – There are been reports of tourists in Tbilisi being scammed by locals who invite them into a bar for food and drinks and then force them to pay a really high bill. It’s not common here but it’s something to be aware of.

4. Be wary of demonstrations or protests – It’s quite common for political demonstrations to take place in Tbilisi and sometimes other parts of Georgia, though they most commonly happen outside the parliament on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi.

While the most likely problem is just an interruption to public transport you should always be aware that protests can turn violent and it’s probably safer to stay away.

5. Be careful when driving – Unfortunately the road conditions in much of Georgia aren’t great. When combined with reckless driving from the locals, traffic accidents are pretty common. Sometimes road markings are lacking and there is often confusion about which driver has right of way.

When in a car, always wear a seatbelt. Additionally, avoid driving after dark as well as the lack of good lighting makes it even more dangerous.

6. Learn a few words or have a translation app ready – Georgians are usually really friendly, but not many of them speak English. If something goes wrong they are always happy to help you out, but you might need a few words of the local language or a good translation app to help you explain what you need.

The Georgian language is pretty special – it’s one of the oldest in the world and it has a unique script. If you can learn a few words before you go. There are lots of free resources online and you can download Google Translate just in case you need to translate on the go.

7. Be cautious in the mountains – Georgia’s beautiful alps are making it a popular destination for skiing and mountaineering. But at the moment, it’s still hard to get up-to-date, accurate information about the weather conditions there, so you need to be cautious. If in doubt, skip the adventure for the day.

Also, although they’re improving, the safety standards for adventure sports in the mountains in Georgia are still lower than you might expect. If you’re having doubts about an activity, try using a specialist guide and check reviews for safety levels before you go.

8. Buy travel insurance – I never leave home without travel insurance. While most trips are uneventful, it’s important to be prepared just in case. Travel insurance can save you hundreds and thousands of dollars and provide critical assistance in an emergency. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

We recommend World Nomads for travelers under 70, while Insure My Trip is the best choice for travelers over 70.

For more information on tarvel insurance, check out these posts:

FAQ’s on Safety in Georgia

To help you stay safe and make the most out of your visit, here are some answers to the most common questions I get about traveling to Georgia:

Is Georgia dangerous to visit?

Most parts of Georgia are extremely safe to visit. However, you should definitely avoid the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions on the border with Russia. You should also be aware that the Pankisi Gorge area (north-east of Tbilisi) has been known for terrorist training and activity in the past, although recent reports seem to suggest that it is currently safe to visit.

Is Tbilisi a safe city?

The Georgian capital, Tbilisi, is generally a very safe place to visit. Be aware that the drivers can be a little erratic so you need to have your wits about you as a pedestrian. There are also some reports of petty crime against tourists like pickpocketing in the main tourist areas, so keep an eye on your belongings, but the risk is lower than in many other European cities.

Is the tap water safe in Georgia?

While it can be reasonably safe to drink the tap water in some parts of Georgia, and it’s sourced from freshwater sources in the mountains, there have been incidents of travelers picking up giardia during their travels. Unfortunately, this means it’s best to avoid the tap water while you’re here.

The best way to make sure your drinking water is safe is to bring a SteriPen or LifeStraw for your reusable water bottle. This way you’ll be able to purify the tap water so you don’t get sick — and avoid using single-use plastic bottles in the process.

Are the taxis safe in Georgia?

Taxis are a common way to get around in Georgia and are usually quite. Just make sure you wear your seatbelt as drivers here can be aggressive and the rules of the road are interpreted more as suggestions than law.

Be aware that taxis here don’t have meters, so you’ll need to agree on a price in advance. Ask your hostel or hotel staff for advice about how much you should expect to pay before you catch a ride. That way, you can avoid getting overcharged.

If you’re a solo female traveler, I’d avoid taking taxis alone at night (but that’s my advice for pretty much every city).

Is Georgia safe for solo female travelers?

Given how safe Georgia is in general, it’s probably no surprise to hear that yes, Georgia is safe for solo female travelers. The usual rules apply, though: don’t walk alone at night, beware of strangers offering your drinks or food (especially in bars in Tbilisi), and never leave your drink unattended. While it’s rare, there have been incidents of drink spiking in Georgia.

In short, as long as you use the common-sense practices you use at home you should have no problems here.

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

***

So, should you visit Georgia? You can consider yourself very safe in Georgia. It might be a relatively unknown destination to travelers but that doesn’t mean it’s dangerous. Be aware of lower driving and road standards and take the usual precautions with your belongings — especially when you’re in a more crowded tourist area.

Do that, and you’ll have a safe trip to Georgia!

Book Your Trip to Georgia: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
To find the best budget accommodation, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most comprehensive inventory. Some of my favorite places to stay in Costa Rica:

  • Fabrika (Tblisi) – This hostel is also a bar and co-working space housed in an old Soviet warehouse. It’s got a cool vibe and the people here are wonderful. This is the best place to stay in the country if you ask me.
  • Temi Hostel (Kutaisi) – This hostel is small but the staff are great and it’s clean and cozy. It’s in a great location too.
  • Boutique Hotel and Medusa Hostel (Batumi) – This place is relatively new so the beds are comfy and have curtains and the place is well maintained. The staff are super helpful and will make sure you have an amazing visit to Batumi.

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

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





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Why Don’t More People Travel Long-Term?

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Nomadic Matt in Madagascar looking out at the sweeping view
Posted: 11/04/19 | November 4th, 2019

As travel blogging, remote work, and social media “influencing” have become more mainstream, more and more people have started to travel the world (and become semi-permanent nomads). There are far more people going off on long trips today than when I started traveling only a little over a decade ago. There’s less pushback today than in yesteryear when you say, “I’m going to travel for a while” instead of going right to college or an office job.

But for all the gains that have been made in terms of making long-term travel more acceptable, it’s still fairly uncommon.

Yes, more people are doing it, but it’s still not huge numbers. A 2017 study from Expedia shows that one-week or two-week trips are the average lengths of time that people spend overseas each year.

Why don’t more people travel long-term?

Not the “ten years a nomad” kind. (Few people are going to do that.) I’m referring to the “just for a few months on the road” kind.

Yes, lack of free time has something to do with it (especially for us Americans!).

So does money.

In the United States, our “vacation culture” also plays a big role in this. (See this post for more on that.)

But I think those are easy go-to excuses people use to hide the real, deeper reason they don’t travel.*

After all, there are plenty of ways to travel cheap if you know where to look for advice, and there are plenty of people who have the time to travel but don’t. Money and time can’t explain it all.

So what are the real reasons that keep people from traveling?

Fear and self-doubt.

Fear of running out of money, being alone, possible danger, getting off the career trek, sick, having no safety net — there’s an endless list of fears people have about travel. It’s scary jumping headfirst into the unknown and leaving your entire life behind, with nothing but a backpack and a dream.

Our comfort zones may make us unhappy or bored at times, but more often than not, they keep us just happy enough to resist change. We may hate our routine, we may complain, we may daydream — but we don’t often change. It’s the devil we know. It’s where we feel safe.

Plus, our DNA tells us to favor safety over risk. Why leave the cave to venture where the monsters live, when we can stay safe inside our shelter and live another day? To go out into the night is to court danger and death. Our primitive brain screams to us: Stay here! This is safety! This is life!

So, while people everywhere might dream of traveling the world, it is only those whose desire is strong enough who head out — and stay out — on the road.

But strong enough to do what?

Strong enough to overcome the instincts — and societal norms — that tell you not to leave your safe harbor.

Strong enough to overcome the fears of people who love you — like my parents, who still to this day email me travel warnings and news of terrorist attacks.

Strong enough to overcome the negativity of those who share your dream — but not your intestinal fortitude.

But most importantly, strong enough to overcome your self-doubt.

The questions people ask me (after “Is it safe?”) are always the same, whether by email or on my book tours:

“Do you meet travelers like myself out there?”

“Do you get lonely?”

“How do you deal with language issues?”

All of these questions share an underlying theme: “I’m worried I don’t have the skills to survive.”

I know this self-doubt all too well.

As I faced the daunting task of turning my travel dreams into a reality back in 2006, I too worried about this. While trudging through the seemingly endless preparations, I discovered a new daily mantra: “Fuck, what am I getting myself into?”

I didn’t so much care about shirking my responsibilities. Bills disappear when you cancel the services that generate them. Cars payments go away when you sell your car. And I knew my job at the hospital wasn’t going to be my career, so I had no worries about walking away from it.

What worried me were the personal skills I thought I needed to have to travel — the courage, the ability to go with the flow, the ability to talk to strangers, the confidence, the maturity — and whether or not I had enough of any of them after just two two-week trips over two years to two countries that were full of English-speaking travelers like me.

Yes, I knew that a lot of people travel the world. I had seen hundreds of them in Thailand after all. But unlike those people, I wasn’t “hardened” or “experienced.” Heck, I got scammed three times in one day in Thailand, and in Costa Rica I got lost in a jungle!

I was a sheltered child who had never ventured far beyond his safe harbor. Did I really have what it took?

Fear and self-doubt whispered constantly in my ear.

But, being stubborn and having already committed to doing this trip, I couldn’t turn back.

I daydreamed about the crazy things that would happen to me on the road. I’d make friends from around the world. I’d try adventure activities. I’d hike mountains and sail down exotic rivers. Locals would invite me out for drinks. I’d sip a latte, strike up a conversation with my beautiful waitress, and then the next thing I’d know, we’d be at a wine bar, staring into each other’s eyes.

It was going to be just like those travel articles I’d read, or movies I’d seen and romanticized.

Elsewhere was out there — and it was calling me.

And then, when I was finally out the road, I realized something:

I was not Magellan.

I wasn’t setting sail into the unknown horizon, wondering if I was going to fall off a flat earth.

No, I was walking on well-trod tourist trails. I had guidebooks. If all those backpackers in Thailand could do it, why couldn’t I? If 18-year-olds fresh out of high school could manage a year around the world, so could I. In fact, I had made it through Costa Rica and Thailand. I had made friends there. I had talked to strangers.

And that’s something I tell travelers now.

We aren’t Magellan. We aren’t setting off into the blankness of history to chart new worlds. The next Magellans will colonize the moon. We’re simply getting on an airplane and going where others have gone before.

That’s the difference between the early explorers and what we do: we’re trying to have new experiences and learn about ourselves — but we aren’t uncovering blanks spots on a map. We’re walking in others’ footsteps, and we can be grateful to them even as we blaze new personal trails.

That doesn’t make our journey less special. The world is full of new stories and adventures that are special to us. I didn’t need to discover Thailand to enjoy Thailand — the journey and experience were what mattered.

***

The hardest part of the journey is the mental preparation. Once you are out of safe harbor, you will feel the wind in your sails. Action begets action. As the shoreline drifts further away, the wind picks up and carries you like Gulliver to unknown lands. And once you’re out there, your fears fade away as excitement and a sense of adventure take over.

You are too busy having fun to worry about worrying anymore.

If you’re worried about having the skills to travel long-term, don’t. We’re all just figuring it out anyways. No one knows what to do when they step out the door the first time.

And remember: millions have come before you. They made it. They too were strangers in a strange land, without friends, family, or a support system.

There were people and systems out there that helped them along the way.

Those travelers made it.

I made it.

And, I promise, you will make it too.

*Note: I get that not everyone can travel (for other very legitimate reasons), and I don’t mean to imply that travel is for everyone. For more on that, see this post.

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 Why Don’t More People Travel Long-Term? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Is Costa Rica Safe to Visit?

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a volcano surrounded by mountains and jungle in Costa Rica
Posted: 11/3/2019 | November 3rd, 2019

Tropical jungles bursting with wildlife, mountainous landscapes extending into the horizon, picture-perfect beaches on both sides of the country, and a never-ending supply of fun activities no matter your budget.

Costa Rica is a nature-lover’s paradise — and it’s one of my favorite countries in the world too. It was the first country I ever traveled to and it was the country that sparked my wanderlust.

The beaches feel like paradise, there’s great surfing, diving, and plenty of places to get away from the hordes of retired Americans that live here. No matter what your interest, there are tons of things to see and do in Costa Rica without breaking the bank.

But is Costa Rica safe to visit?

The country was fortunate to escape the Cold War conflicts and brutal gang violence that impacted other countries in Central America. However, in recent years, Costa Rica has become more involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.

But the country is super safe for tourists. At worst, you’ll get scammed for a few bucks. I mean the country is so safe it doesn’t even have an army!

While Costa Rica is one of the safest countries for travel and backpacking in Central America, that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Here are some tips to guarantee a safe and stress-free experience:

1. Avoid isolated areas – If you’re somewhere isolated, you’ll be at a greater risk for getting robbed, especially at night and in big cities. Try to stay where the crowds are. That’s the best way to avoid being singled out by potential muggers.

2. Don’t wear flashy items – Petty theft is common here, so remove any jewelry or watches, and don’t wave your phone around. Do your best to blend in, so you don’t become a target for pickpockets. If you happen to find yourself a victim of a robbery, follow the instructions of the robber and give up your valuables; these material items can be replaced but your life cannot.

3. Don’t leave your items unattended – If you are spending the day on the beaches in Puerto ViejoSanta Theresa, or Manuel Antonio, do not leave your belongings unattended while swimming or walking along the sand; locals or tourists alike can easily take your valuables if you leave them around. Just take what you need with you and nothing more.

4. Be alert when using public transportation – Petty theft (including bag snatching) is the most common type of crime you’ll face in Costa Rica. Most of the theft in Costa Rica occurs while taking the bus. Keep your bag containing valuables and identification on your lap and stay vigilant.

5. Always take an authorized taxi – Crimes against cab riders are infrequent here but it’s best you use a licensed taxi. Also, pay close attention to the meter and make sure it’s running. Cab drivers can turn the meter off and claim it’s broken (a common scam, see below).

6. Buy travel insurance – This is especially important if you plan to join in on activities like ziplining, white water rafting, or surfing. 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.

We recommend World Nomads for travelers under 70, while Insure My Trip is the best choice for travelers over 70.

For more information on tarvel insurance, check out these posts:

How to Avoid Scams in Costa Rica

There are really only two common scams found in Costa Rica:

1. Taxi Scam
You hop into a taxi and realize the meter isn’t running. You mention this to the driver and their response is the meter is “broken,” and quotes you a price that is outrageously high. Or you might notice that the meter is working but the fare is increasing faster than a running cheetah.

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 rate quoted to me and if they refuse, I get out and find someone who will turn the meter on. If the meter looks as though it’s rising unusually fast, ask the driver to pull over and get out immediately.

2. The “Cheap Tour” Scam
You’re exploring the sites and sounds of the city and a well-mannered, nicely dressed person approaches you and asks if you’re looking to go on a tour. They do a fantastic job describing the most unforgettable trip you’ll ever take in your life, and at a fraction of the cost of other tour companies. You’re sold and hand them a deposit. You wait the next day for them to pick you up, but no one shows up. You realize there was no amazing tour at 50% less; you’d been tricked.

To avoid this scam only use authorized companies when booking tours. Your hostel/hotel can always help you, and if you plan to book through a tour company check their online reviews ahead of time. Never trust someone trying to sell you a tour on the street who does not have an official office or storefront.

These scams are the most common ones you’ll face while in Costa Rica. If you’re worried about scams, read this post on travel scams to avoid. Avoiding travel scams requires a lot of common sense and a healthy dose of suspicion.

Zika Risk in Costa Rica

While there are no reports of a Zika outbreak in the country, Costa Rica has had reported cases of the Zika virus. While risks are low, travelers are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Use mosquito repellent on your body to prevent bites and sleep under a mosquito net to avoid getting bit while when you’re asleep
  • Wear breathable garments that cover your arms and legs (if you’re wondering what you should apply first, apply sunscreen first followed by repellent).
  • Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible to prevent mosquitos from entering your room
  • Pregnant women or couples considering pregnancy should consult a healthcare practitioner prior to travel

FAQ on Costa Rica Safety

Here are the most common questions I get asked about staying safe in Costa Rica (and my answers to them):

Is Street Food in Costa Rica Safe?

In Costa Rica, street food is safe to eat and not to be missed! I’ve had my fair share of empanadas, fresh fruits from open markets, and other local foods and have been perfectly fine.

That being said, if something doesn’t look cooked through (such as chicken) or has been out in the sun for too long, then trust your gut and don’t eat it. But I would encourage you to try the street food as it’s the best way to experience the cuisine and support local businesses (plus, it’s cheap!)

Is the Tap Water Safe to Drink in Costa Rica?

The tap water in Costa Rica is safe to drink, however, it’s recommended that you avoid drinking the tap water in most beach destinations. The best way to make sure your drinking water is safe is to bring a SteriPen or LifeStraw for your reusable water bottle. This way you’ll be able to purify the tap water so you don’t get sick — and avoid using single-use plastic bottles in the process.

Are Taxis in Costa Rica Safe?

The taxis in Costa Rica are safe and reliable, though you’ll always want to make sure you’re getting in an authorized taxi. During the day, you can hail a taxi from the street safely, but make sure you pay attention that the meter is turned on and running properly.

If you’re taking a taxi at night it’s best to have your accommodation call it for you. That will ensure you get a reputable company. Never hail a random taxi at night.

As mentioned earlier, taxi drivers will occasionally try to take advantage of travelers by overcharging them. Always remain alert and if anything feels suspicious ask the driver to stop the cab and get out. Don’t take any chances with your safety.

Is Costa Rica Safe for Solo Travelers?

Costa Rica is a safe country to visit for solo travelers. As long as you stay away from isolated areas, don’t wave your valuables around, and don’t travel alone at night you will be able to avoid the most common dangerous situations.

Additionally, be sure to download offline maps and an offline language app (like Google Translate) so you can look up directions if you get lost or communicate with the locals in an emergency. If you can, try to learn some Spanish before you go too. Even a few key phrases can go a long way!

Is Costa Rica Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Costa Rica is one of the safest countries in Central America so if you’re new to solo female travel, Costa Rica is a great country to start with. However, you’ll still need to take some precautions of course. Always avoid isolated locations and don’t travel alone after dark. If you happen to experience cat calling or harassment from strangers on the street, be confident, avoid eye contact, and walk away.

Solo female travelers will want to remain extra vigilant at bus terminals, bars, and taxi stands where harassment is more common. When traveling around the city, ask your hotel what the safest route is and also which areas you should avoid. Also, avoid taking taxis at night — especially by yourself.

By taking some precautions and planning accordingly, solo female travelers will be able to have a memorable time in Costa Rica. Just make sure to follow the advice and tips above!

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

***
With any tourist destination, you’ll run into people trying to pull fast ones on visitors. By using caution, common sense, and following the tips above, you’ll be able to stay safe and healthy during your visit to Costa Rica.

Book Your Trip to Costa Rica: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
To find the best budget accommodation, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most comprehensive inventory. Some of my favorite places to stay in Costa Rica:

  • Arenal Backpackers Resort – This is a luxurious, laid-back hsotel with a pool that’s great for hanging out and meeting people.
  • Rocking J’s (Puerto Viejo) – The coolest hostel in all the country. This hostel located on the beach is the prime spot to meet other backpackers.
  • Hostel Vista Serena (Manuel Antonio) – With great ammenities, staff, and a pime location, it’s the best place in the area.

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

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





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Introducing The Nomadic Network!

Posted By : webmaster/ 257 0


friends connecting over a dinner table
Updated: 10/31/2019 | October 31st, 2019

How often have you told friends or family about a dream trip of yours, only to have them scoff and remind you to be “more realistic”?

How often do you wish you had a group of people who understood you? Or a place you could go to get your 10,000 questions answered before your next trip?

How often have you painstakingly researched a complete itinerary only meet some stranger at a hostel whose story had the power to make you change your plans entirely?

We all need a supportive community — and as much as I love the Internet (and I do love the Internet), the best connections are made offline and in real life.

When I first started planning my trip around the world in 2005, I didn’t know anyone who had done something similar. Heck, I only knew one person who ever even studied abroad. Travel wasn’t a big thing to the people in my world.

And, unlike today, I couldn’t just go online and ask a bunch of bloggers questions or find countless articles and websites to help me. In the early 2000s, there wasn’t much beyond a very limited number of hard-to-navigate forums, a few websites, and a stack of guidebooks on my desk.

I had a lot of questions but few answers.

What I needed was a community of people who could give me the first-hand advice and practical tips that would make my trip better, and help me get over my fears.

And, when I came back, there were very few people who could sympathize with the mix of emotions I was feeling. Again, I was alone. I wished for a community of people who could understand my post-travel blues.

After being a nomad for over ten years, I’ve been lucky enough to create my own community of travel enthusiasts through this website.

And today, I want to expand this community and take what we have online and bring it into the real world.

So I’m pleased to announce the launch of The Nomadic Network!

It’s this website’s in-person meetup initiative.

The Nomadic Network (TNN for short) will be a global community of travel lovers who support and inspire one another to travel better, cheaper, and longer. Whether it’s a short jaunt to a nearby city or an indefinite round-the-world trip, the community will be there to help anyone who wants to (and loves to) travel.

Years ago, we did a trial run of these events. I met so many awesome travelers at these meetups, and the one thing I kept hearing was how you wished these kinds of events happened more regularly.

Well, now we’re bringing them back!

Erica, whom you might have known as my right-hand woman over the last six years, will helm this new initiative. She’ll be working on it full-time!

How will The Nomadic Network work?

We’re building in-person chapters all around the world. Local chapters will meet consistently to share stories, trade advice, do activities together, and host events. We’re creating a space for people to meet travelers in their city (even if they or you are just passing through) and form friendships and bonds. Mixers, picnics, brunches, presentations, expert panels — anything that gets you inspired to travel more!

The first set of events will be community mixers where we’ll meet and get to know each other. If you’re based in these cities or will be there when we launch, join us:

(NOTE: These are just the first events! We’re going to be doing more events in the coming months. We’ll be on the West Coast, in the Midwest, other parts of Canada, the world, etc. This is just the first batch! If you don’t see destination, don’t worry! Our goal is to be everywhere! )

Events are $10 (to help cover costs) and come with a free drink! Plus, you can bring a friend for free (so if you split the costs it’s $5 per person!)

How Can You be a Part of TNN?

There are a few simple ways!

1. Attend one of our first events!
If you can come to one of our first events, please do. You can find the full list here.

2. Apply to lead your local chapter
We need help leading these TNN chapters. Erica (our Events Director) and I will help with the booking of venues, contacting guest speakers, renting microphones and equipment, managing attendee registration, and helping with and paying for anything we can.

But we need eyes, ears, and leaders on the ground. If you want to learn more about becoming one of our chapter leaders (including in the cities we are launching in the list above), click this link and submit your application. We’ll be in touch!

3. Volunteer at an event
If being a leader isn’t your thing but you’d like to volunteer your time during the events, awesome! We’ll need plenty of support to get these chapters up and running. Just fill this out and we’ll get back to you.

4. Help beta test our new community website
If you want to help create a user-friend website for this new community, all you need to do is visit The Nomadic Network’s website and create a quick traveler profile. It only takes two minutes to create your login and profile. Then you can join a chapter, find events near you, poke around the existing content, and sign up for in-person meetups. Then send us all of your feedback so we can get it working super smoothly.

(This is only the first draft of the website so there are lots of kinks to straighten out before we fully launch it and make it the center of The Nomadic Network world.)

***

Creating a chapter-based organization is a HUGE undertaking, but we’re very excited to get started. It’s been on our list of things to create for a long time now and we’re finally doing it! This is going to take our community to the next level! It will take some time to get all the events up and running but I think we’re off to a strong start.

So get ready to meet everyone IRL! ?

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 Introducing The Nomadic Network! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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