Blog

The Best Tour Companies in Egypt

Posted By : webmaster/ 292 0


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

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

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

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

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

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

And it can also save you some money, too!

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

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

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

1. Intrepid

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

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

And the company just hires really awesome people too.

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

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

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

2. Memphis Tours

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

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

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

3. Look at Egypt Tours

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

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

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

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

4. On the Go Tours

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

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

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

5. Jakada Tours Egypt

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

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

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

6. Exodus Travels

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

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

7. Beyond the Nile Tours

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

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

***

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

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

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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





Source link

The Best Ghost Tours in Edinburgh

Posted By : webmaster/ 260 0


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

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

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

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

Or, if you are like me, scared shitless.

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

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

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

1. City of the Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Free Ghost Tour

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

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

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

3. Mercat Tours

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

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

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

4. The Ghost Bus

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

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

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

5. Auld Reekie Tours

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

Book Your Trip to Edinburgh: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Source link

How to Save Money & Visit Rwanda on a Budget

Posted By : webmaster/ 230 0


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How to Save Money on Accommodation

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

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

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

How to Save Money on Transportation

Views over the hills of Kigali

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

How to Save Money on Food

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

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

Here are some average food and drink costs:

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

Suggeted Budgets for Rwanda

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

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

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

9 Money Saving Tips for Rwanda

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

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

A Quick Note on Visas

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

Suggested Budget Resources

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

Book Your Trip to Rwanda: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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





Source link

The 9 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Rome

Posted By : webmaster/ 216 0


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

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

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

Where should you stay? What are the best neighborhoods?

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

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

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

1. Trastevere

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

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

Best places to stay in Trastevere

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

2. Monti

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

Best places to stay in Monti

  • BUDGET: Palladini Hostel Rome – This might be a hostel, but it hasn’t skimped on the décor, with stylish black-, red-, and white-themed communal areas and artwork and chandeliers in the private rooms. It’s just 200m from Termini station so it’s really easy to access any public transport option you might want.
  • BUDGET: Hostel Alessandro Downtown – Cleanliness, a friendly staff, and a social atmosphere make this a good choice. It’s a great place to stay if you want to meet other travelers, either in the hostel itself or the bar, which is popular with many backpackers exploring Rome.
  • MID-RANGE: Apollo Rooms Colosseo – Clean and new, with friendly owners and a gelato bar at the back of the building, this property has a vibe that makes up for the fairly small (but tastefully decorated) rooms.
    LUXURY: Monti Palace Hotel – This stylish hotel includes a wholesome buffet breakfast and a rooftop bar with gorgeous views of the city. The rooms are spacious, sleek, and well lit.

3. Prati

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

Best places to stay in Prati

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

4. Ostiense

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

Best places to stay in Ostiense

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

5. Testaccio

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

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

Best places to stay in Testaccio

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

6. Pigneto

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

Best places to stay in Pigneto

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

7. Tridente

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

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

Best places to stay in Tridente

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

8. Parioli

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

Best places to stay in Parioli

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

9. San Lorenzo

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

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

Best places to stay in San Lorenzo

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

***

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

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

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

Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

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

Book Your Trip to Rome: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Source link

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

Posted By : webmaster/ 212 0


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

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

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

Drastically.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our new course list is:

Blogging

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

Vlogging

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

Photography

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

Writing

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

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

They are your blueprint to success.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Matt

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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





Source link

Announcing TravelCon 2020: Keynotes, Speakers, & More!

Posted By : webmaster/ 194 0


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those sign-ups will be available in January too.

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

This Year’s Speakers

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

Keynotes

Pico Iyer

Author

Pauline Frommer

Frommers

Jeff Goins

Author, Real Artists Don’t Starve

Nicole Walters

Business Coach

Breakout Speakers

Faith Adiele

Author, Meeting Faith

Lola Akinmade Åkerström

Writer + Photographer

Leyla Giray Alyanak

Women on the Road

Alexandra Baackes

Alex in Wanderland

Dev Basu

Powered by Search

Marc and Julie Bennett

RV Love

Julia Cosgrove

AFAR

Don George

Author, The Way of Wanderlust

Brice Gump

Major Impact Media

Monet Hambrick

The Traveling Child

Alexandra Jimenez

Travel Fashion Girl

Ciara Johnson

Hey Ciara

Richard Kerr

The Points Guy

Seth Kugel

Author, Rediscovering Travel

Mickela Mallozzi

Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi

Chris Mercer

MeasurementMarketing.io

Laurence Norah

Finding the Universe

Erick Prince-Heaggans

Minority Nomad

Kristen Sarah

Hopscotch the Globe

Nadine Sykora

Hey Nadine

Mary Ann Thomas

Postcards From Mat

Amanda Williams

A Dangerous Business

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

So sign up today before tickets are gone.

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

See you in New Orleans!

—Matt

Book Your Trip to New Orleans: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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

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





Source link

The 7 Best Tour Companies in Iceland

Posted By : webmaster/ 277 0


a mountain peak in Iceland under the Northern Lights
Posted: 9/17/2019 | September 17th, 2019

Iceland is an utterly unique country, with glaciers varying in color from white to blue to gray, waterfalls the size of skyscrapers plummeting down sheer rock cliffs, and bumpy lava fields covered in moss in every shade of green you can imagine. And you’ll hear fantastical tales from history and folklore from people who still believe that elves might exist.

It’s one of my favorite countries in the world, one I fell in love with the first time I visited. I’ve been back multiple times since then during various seasons.

But Iceland isn’t always easy to get around, especially in the off-season, when many bus routes shut down because of weather.

One of the ways to get around that problem is by joining an organized tour. You’ll get to experience places that can be inaccessible without a four-wheel drive, and you’ll have local knowledge to help make the most of your day, depending on the ever-changing and often extreme weather.

I’ve put together a list of my favorite tour companies in Iceland, from short city walking tours to multiday adventure hikes. A lot of tour companies aren’t cheap there, and you’ll definitely pay more than if you were to do the same route solo, but here are the seven that provide incredible experiences at the right price:

1. Follow Me – Free Walking Tour Reykjavik

the guides at Follow Me - Free Walking Tour Reykjavik
A free walking tour is always a great way to introduce yourself to a new city, and the guides from Follow Me can give you a good overview of Iceland’s capital on this 90-minute stroll. It runs three city walking tours a day in peak season (June to September) and one a day the rest of the year; it also now offers an Old Harbour and Brewery tour every afternoon.

The Reykjavik walking tours have been running since 2012, and the guides are all local comedians and entertainers who love the city and want to make you laugh while you’re exploring it. They’ll show you some more overlooked parts of town and also give you some tips for saving money in this expensive country. Like many free walking tours, most guests tip the guide what they feel the tour was worth at the end.

—-> Click here to learn more about Follow Me – Free Walking Tour Reykjavik!

2. Ride with Locals

Ride with Locals in Iceland
Ride with Locals is a motorcycle tour company that will take you to the middle of nowhere on trails you wouldn’t access any other way, meaning you’ll see volcanoes, craters, and mountains that very few visitors to Iceland do, making your Iceland experience particularly unique. Its trips last between three days and a week and generally head inland, rather than hugging the coast like most tours.

The motorcycles are KTM 690R and Husqvarna 701 dual sport bikes, and all guides are really experienced with riding through Iceland’s highlands. Some trips use sleeping bags in mountain huts for accommodations (and include all the meals), while others include hotel stays with breakfast.

Costs range between about $2,800 and $5,000, including motorbike hire and fuel, depending on the length of the trip.

—-> Click here to learn more about Ride with Locals!

3. Intrepid

a red roof church in front of a black sand beach in IcelandIntrepid’s tour offerings are always solid, using small groups and local guides, and they don’t rush you from sight to sight. It offers a number of options in Iceland, including the classic Ring Road trip, where you circumnavigate the island and get to visit some of the best-known sights, from the glacier lagoon at Jökulsárlón on the south coast to the volcanic lake at Mývatn in the north. There’s also a six-day camping trip along the southern coast.

Intrepid tours start at $1,000 and go up to $4,600 for the ten-day comfort tour.

—-> Click here to learn more about Intrepid!

4. Arctic Adventures

people on tour with Arctic Adventures in Iceland
Arctic Adventures is a big player in the Iceland tour market these days and offers a huge range of one-day and multiday tours, as well as helping you out with self-drive tour arrangements. Its one-day tour options include all the main Icelandic sightseeing activities, like ice caves, snorkeling, glacier tours, and the popular Golden Circle route to Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir hot springs, and Gullfoss Waterfall.

Arctic Adventures’ full-day trips range in price from around $100 to $160, depending on the need for equipment or smaller groups (for the more adventurous activities).

—-> Click here to learn more about Arctic Adventures!

5. Trek Iceland

two people hiking in Landmannalaugar, Iceland
Specializing in trekking and hiking tours, Trek Iceland offers a variety of trips ranging from half-day ice cave tours to an eight-day trek on the Laugavegur Trail. If you’re coming solo to Iceland, there’s even a version of the Laugavegur trip exclusively for solo travelers, which is a great way to get to know a bunch of like-minded people.

For more challenging experiences, the company runs tours for experienced hikers and climbers, such as a hike that summits Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnúkur. This involves glacier hiking and can take 12-15 hours, so it’s not for the fainthearted.

Trek Iceland’s prices are generally cheaper than some of the more well-known tour companies. Single-day trips start from just over $100, and the multiday trips range from $400 for two days up to $1,800 for weeklong treks.

—-> Click here to learn more about Trek Iceland!

6. Extreme Iceland

Iceland's Glacial Lagoon
Extreme Iceland offers some adventurous tours, like river rafting, ice cave tours, snorkeling, and glacier hiking. It takes groups through the Vatnajökull glacier ice cave near the well-known Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, or you can take a guided tour through the Langjökull ice cave after driving through the world’s largest ice tunnel to reach the starting point. Extreme Iceland also runs several weeklong trips covering much of the country, with some more adventurous activities as optional extras.

For budget travelers, Extreme Iceland runs tours in its bright yellow “Big Bus,” including Golden Circle tours for a very affordable $56, or longer day trips to the west for $120. Its multiday tours are also competitively priced; for example, a six-day Laugavegur Trail trip with dormitory-style huts runs around $1,500.

—-> Click here to learn more about Extreme Iceland!

7. Icelandic Mountains Guides

Extreme Iceland coastal hiking
For 25 years, Icelandic Mountain Guides has focused on true adventure travel with very small groups. Its multiday tours include more unique routes, like a five-day backpacking trek from Núpsstaðaskógur to Skaftafell, or a ten-day expedition across the Highlands starting from the northern town of Akureyri; these longer trips will set you back upwards of $4,000.

It also runs one-day tours to ice caves and glacier walk experiences, among others, leaving from Reykjavík, along with similar one-day adventures on the Sólheimajökull glacier on the south coast if you’re in the area and can meet them there. The half-day and one-day tours are generally pricier than other companies (from $100 and up for half-day excursions) but often include specialist equipment or ride on quad bikes or snowmobiles.

Icelandic Mountain Guides has a genuine conservation focus and holds a twice-yearly event where guides spend time planting trees. Its current aim is to increase its carbon-offset programs so that its multiday tours are also carbon neutral.

—-> Click here to learn more about Icelandic Mountains Guides!

***

From challenging multiday hikes through some of the most scenic landscapes you’ll ever see, to gently exploring a glacier lagoon by boat or visiting puffin colonies, to wandering the streets of the quirky capital of Reykjavik, there’s an Icelandic tour company for you!

Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Iceland!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to IcelandWant to plan the perfect trip to Iceland? Check out my comprehensive guide to Iceland written for budget travelers like yourself! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money in one of the most beautiful and exciting destinations in the world. You’ll find suggested itineraries, tips, budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, and my favorite non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more!! Click here to learn more and get started.

Book Your Trip to Iceland: 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 Iceland?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Iceland for even more planning tips!

Photo credits: 2 – Follow Me, 3 – Ride With Locals, 5 – Arctic Adventures, 8 – Icelandic Mountain Guides

The post The 7 Best Tour Companies in Iceland appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

Is Peru Safe to Visit?

Posted By : webmaster/ 248 0


Machu Picchu, Peru shrouded in mist
Posted: 9/12/2019 | September 12th, 2019

Peru is receiving record numbers of tourists these days, with over four million a year going to experience the third-largest country in South America.

Whether to visit Machu Picchu, the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, the Nazca Lines, or the vibrant capital city of Lima and its blossoming food scene, people are flocking to Peru in droves.

However, I also often hear and read about tourists getting mugged or hear being stolen. I get worried emails from travelers wondering if Peru is safe to visit.

Today, I want to answer their questions:

Is safe to visit Peru? What do you need to look out for? What precautions do you need to take?

9 Safety Tips for Peru

a woman selling bananas sits in the street in Peru
In general, Peru is a pretty safe place to visit. You’re not going to get kidnapped or murdered there, but Peru does require you to be a bit more vigilant than other places. There is a lot of petty crime against tourists, especially those who are careless and leave valuables around.

Here are nine tips that should help you understand what the risks are and make sure your trip to Peru is even safer:

1. Avoid displaying any expensive belongings – Keep your best jewelry out of sight (or even leave it at home). Don’t flaunt valuables like your mobile phone or tablet, and always keep an eye on your stuff. Don’t even wear airpods on the street. Minimizing the target on your back that says, “I’m carrying a lot of valuable stuff” is very important.

2. Be aware of thieves or muggers working in pairs or small groups – The trick of distracting you (for example, someone “accidentally” bumping into you, or a group of kids playing or fighting near you) is often used so that an accomplice can rob you while you’re not paying attention to your belongings.

3. Watch out for pickpockets – In crowded places or on public transit, be aware that thieves could be looking to literally pick your pocket, or slash your bag, to steal from you. Keep some small bills in a separate pocket, so that when you’re paying for things, you don’t need to put your whole wallet or purse on display.

4. Avoid traveling alone at night – There have been incidents of people being mugged as they leave a taxi at night in the cities, and repeated reports of bandit activity after dark in some areas, such as Tingo María, northwest of Lima, at the entrance to the Tingo María National Park. Having at least one friend with you will help if these worst-case scenarios happen, but it is also simply useful as an extra pair of eyes and ears to keep vigilant.

5. Choose a reputable bus operator – Sometimes the cheapest option isn’t the best one. Some of the cheap bus companies have the most reckless drivers and lots of breakdowns, and since Peru has some of the world’s worst traffic accident rates, you’re usually safer using a slightly pricier bus company. Some of the most reputable bus operators include Cruz del Sur, Oltursa, Civa, and Movil Tours.

6. Don’t use drugs – This is always a good idea. But since Peru produces a lot of cocaine, tourists (especially young backpackers) tend to do a lot of it here. It’s not worth the risk, however, since if authorities even suspect you of using drugs, you can be detained for up to 15 days. Buying drugs here supports organized crime, so be smart and skip the drugs.

7. Learn some Spanish – Being able to speak some basic Spanish will help you in many situations, but if you get in trouble and need help, then you’ll really appreciate it. Start with an app like Duolingo or Memrise to master some basic vocabulary, or take a more comprehensive course like those offered by Rosetta Stone. And don’t forget to make friends with your Google Translate app.

8. Be careful in the coca-growing areas – In the Huallaga Valley north of Tingo María, cocaine is still being produced, and in the same area in recent years, the Shining Path group (a communist revolutionary organization) has been part of some violent incidents. Although tourists are not generally targeted by drug traffickers or Shining Path members, you still need to be extra vigilant in these areas.

9. Buy travel insurance – In the case that something does go wrong, it’ll be a lot less stressful if you have travel insurance. You should have it whenever you travel, but in a country where petty theft is, unfortunately, a little more common, it’s even more important. And of course, it’s also important for covering any medical or other emergency situation you might encounter.

FAQ about Safety in Peru

alpacas standing on a hill in Peru
With these travel tips, you’ll be able to stay safe while you visit or backpack around Peru! Furthermore, here are answers to some frequently asked questions we get:

Is Machu Picchu safe?

Machu Picchu is such a common tourist destination that you’ll most likely be safer here than any other part of Peru. Chances are you’ll be hiking with a group or in a crowd, so pickpockets and other petty thieves are unlikely to be around. It’s much more important to be vigilant in cities like Lima or Cusco.

The more important safety issue if you are hiking to Machu Picchu is to take care of your health. Make sure you have plenty of water, and use sunscreen and hats to deal with the heat. If you’re not acclimatized to the altitude, then altitude sickness can be a problem; you need to take it seriously if you start to feel sick. Avoid this by staying in Cusco for at least a couple of days before visiting Machu Picchu.

Finally, if you use a guide, which is recommended when hiking, make sure they are a licensed operator, as you sometimes hear of unlicensed guides taking you the wrong route and keeping your hiking permit payment for themselves.

Is Peru safe to travel alone?

Solo travel is pretty common in Peru, and you’ll often find plenty of other solo backpackers to spend time with, so it’s unlikely you’ll be alone that much.

Bus travel and being out after dark anywhere is safer in a group, but in general, solo travel in Peru is no more dangerous than traveling with friends or a partner.

Remember, too, to avoid really standing out and looking like a tourist. Don’t dress in fancy clothes, don’t wave your expensive gadgets around, and if you get lost, don’t stand there staring at a map. Basically, avoid sticking out like a sore thumb, and you’ll immediately reduce the chance of a petty thief deciding you’re their next victim.

Is it safe to travel to Peru with kids?

On the whole, it’s not especially unsafe to take your kids to Peru. Family and children are very important in the Peruvian culture, so you and your kids will be made to feel very welcome.

Be careful with particularly small children, though, because they’re more susceptible to getting sick from unfiltered water, for example. It’s also not recommended to take kids under three to high altitudes such as Machu Picchu.

Is Peru safe for female travelers?

It’s not particularly more unsafe to be a female traveler in Peru, though you might be the victim of some unwanted attention, mostly in the form of catcalling — but just ignore it and move on. Local women in Peru rarely go out to bars without men, so if you are a women-only group in a bar, you might get some extra attention.

Avoid being alone if you can, especially after dark, because petty thieves will see you as an easy target. Having said that, if you are a solo female traveler and need help, most locals will be very understanding and do their best to assist you.

Can you drink the water in Peru?

While tap water is plentiful in the country and indoor plumbing is common, it’s advised that you boil all your drinking water while in Peru. Make sure to boil your water for at least 1 minute to remove any contaminants. If you have a Lifestraw or Steripen you can use either of those to ensure your water is always safe to drink. Additionally, bring a reusable water bottle to avoid single-use plastic.

Are taxis safe in Peru?

Taxis are relatively safe, but you’ll want to make sure that you only use authorized taxis and that you know the rate in advance. If you need a taxi, have your hostel or hotel call one for you and find out what the rate is in advance. Make sure you agree on the fare with the driver in advance, as taxis don’t use meters so it’s easy to get overcharged if you’re not paying attention.

Try to avoid riding alone at night, especially if you’re a solo female traveler.

****

Peru is an amazing destination no matter what your interests, with a fascinating culture, welcoming people, and amazing landscapes and historical sights. I think everyone should check these out for themselves!

You do need to be cautious about your personal safety, however. The most common issues travelers face there are petty theft and pickpocketing, but by exercising a bit of extra vigilance and common sense, you can protect yourself against much of this. If you also make sure you’re not carrying valuables in an obvious way and don’t have large sums of cash in one place, the risks of having significant losses are really low.

Peru is a relatively safe country to visit, and the amazing attractions will definitely make your trip worthwhile!

Book Your Trip to Peru: 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 Peru?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Peru for even more planning tips!

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





Source link

So, What Comes Next?

Posted By : webmaster/ 245 0


The capitol building and a statue in Austin, Texas
Posted: 9/9/2019 | September 9th, 2019

One of the most-asked questions on my book tour was: “What comes next?”

Now that I’m back from Paris and have moved out of New York City, and now that my book tour is over, what are my next big plans?

Well…

Not much.

Right now, I’m back in Austin. I have to finish moving into my new apartment (why do couches take so long to arrive?) and, beyond a couple of trips to NYC and DC for weddings, I don’t plan on leaving Austin for a long time.

My passport is staying in my drawer. I’m not moving back to New York or Paris or some other city. I’m not working on a new book. There’s no new big projects. Nothing.

For the foreseeable future, all I see is Austin.

And I’m very excited about that.

A tree only grows when it has roots, and now that the madness of all this year’s projects is over, those roots can finally start to weave their way into the earth and provide the foundation for further growth.

I can finally get into the one thing I’ve been craving all year: routine.

I’m going to get into a better workflow, go back to the gym, start cooking again, take up some hobbies, sleep more, and maybe even start holding monthly meet-ups.

Who knows!

I used to think that I had to rush my travels, that there was too much of the world to see, and that that was why I couldn’t stop traveling — because, if I did, I’d never see it all.

And to me, that was a crime.

That’s why it was always “just one more trip.”

Part of me still feels that way.

But, in reality, there is no rush. You can never see it all. There will always be something else to see or do, or something new.

And it will still be there in a few months.

So, right now, the world can wait. I’m tired of being on the move. I’m tired of staying in spaces not my own. I’m tired of wearing the same three shirts over and over again.

When that kind of burnout happens, you have to stay put.

So I will stay put and recharge the battery named “travel.”

I don’t know how long it will take. I don’t really care.

I’m in no rush to go anywhere right now.

I always define travel as something that pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes you grow as a person. Being home and learning to stay put will be a new adventure. This is something I’m going to have to learn how to do (it was really tough passing up on super cheap flights to the Seychelles).

So, in a way, I guess that is what comes next is a deep dive into this concept called “home.”

I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. 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 Austin?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Austin for even more planning tips!

The post So, What Comes Next? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

How to Avoid Paying Bank Fees While Traveling

Posted By : webmaster/ 243 0


An ATM lit up at night against a purple brick wall
Updated: 8/22/2019 | August 22nd, 2019

Saving money for travel is one of the biggest obstacles that keeps people rom realizing their travel dreams.

Yet, all too often, I see travelers throwing money away in avoidable bank fees.

Banking overseas is more than just putting your card in an ATM and taking out money. There is a lot more to consider — especially if you want to become a savvy traveler!

When you travel on a budget, banking overseas involves knowing three things:

  1. How to avoid paying bank fees.
  2. How to eliminate foreign transaction charges.
  3. How to get a good exchange rate.

I know too many people who travel abroad and end up paying obscene ATM fees and credit card transaction fees. All because they didn’t do their research and plan ahead.

In 2019, there’s absolutely no need for it. You didn’t save up all this money in order to give it the banks, right? I know I didn’t. I want to keep it all for myself because every avoided fee is more money for food, drinks, and activities on the road!

Want to save more money on your next trip abroad? Here is how you eliminate ALL bank fees when you travel in 5 easy steps!

 

1. Eliminate ATM Fees

ATM fees can really add up — especially if you’re traveling for weeks or months at a time. Let’s think about it: While you’re on the road, you will probably withdraw money from an ATM twice a week. Fees vary around the world, but on average you end up paying around $3-5 USD per withdrawal. That is $10 per week, $40 per month, or $520 per year! Do you know how many days you could spend in Southeast Asia for that amount? Almost 3 weeks!

Even if you only use the ATM half the time, that’s still $260 USD per year. And most travelers I know go to the ATM even more than twice a week, which only increases the amount in fees they pay. Why give banks money you need for travel? You did a lot of work saving your money — don’t waste it by giving it to a bank.

To help you avoid fees, here are four things you’ll want to do on your next trip to eliminate those pesky fees:

First, pick a bank in the Global ATM Alliance. This is a network of large banks that have come together and waived fees and allows for free ATM withdrawals. While they have the high fees ($5 USD per withdrawal) for banks outside their network, by using partner ATMs you can avoid ATM charges entirely.

Below is a list of major banks in this alliance:

  • Bank of America (United States)
  • Barclays (England, Wales, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and certain countries in Africa)
  • BNP Paribas (France, Ukraine, Turkey, Poland, Morocco, Italy, New Caledonia, Réunion, Guyane, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Luxembourg)
  • Deutsche Bank (Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal and Italy)
  • Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (Italy)
  • Scotiabank (Canada, Caribbean, Peru, Chile, and Mexico)
  • Westpac (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands)

Be sure to check with your local bank on specific coverage areas. There are some exceptions, i.e., if you use your Barclays card in one country, there might not be a fee, but in another, there may be. Other fees, such as an international transaction or foreign currency fee, may also still apply so double-check before you go!

Note: Bank of America charges a 3% foreign transaction fee on all withdrawals not in USD.

Secondly, if you are a US resident, the best bank to use is Charles Schwab.

Why?

Charles Schwab has no fees and reimburses all your ATM fees at the end of each month. You will need to open a high-yield checking account in order to qualify, but there is no minimum deposit required and no monthly service fee. Their ATM card can be used in any bank machine around the world, and you’ll never pay a fee. This is my primary bank card and I’ve been using it for years. Since getting it, I’ve avoided all ATM fees. It’s literally saved me thousands of dollars over the past decade of traveling the world.

Third, get a low-fee card. I use HSBC as my backup because HSBC has ATMs all over the world and charges only $2.50 USD per ATM transaction when you use a non-HSBC ATM. While it’s not as good as zero, it’s still better than what a lot of other banks charge. Additionally, Capital One doesn’t charge any withdrawal fees, but you do have to pay any fees charged by the local bank.

Finally, ask your local bank or credit union. Not charging ATM fees has become a widespread practice over the last few years, so make sure to ask your local bank.

Here are some suggested ATM cards for non-US travelers:

Canada: Scotia or Tangerine are a part of the Global ATM Alliance.
Australia: ING, Citibank, or HSBC have no feed cards.
UK: UMonzo or Starling let you avoid ATM fees abroad.

If you are looking for other ways to cut wasteful expenses on the road, visit this collection of all my best tips for further money savings.
 

2. Avoid Credit Card Fees

The next major fee we need to get rid of is the credit card foreign transaction fee. Most credit cards charge a 3% fee on purchases made overseas. That can add up since most of us use our credit card for everything. It’s become a lot more common for credit cards to waive that fee since if you use your card a lot overseas, you’ll probably use it a lot anywhere. My favorite no overseas transaction fee cards are the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Barclay Arrival Plus, Capital One, and Citi Premier. (For more suggestions, you can find all my favorite travel cards here.)

If you use these cards overseas, you won’t pay 3% and you’ll save a lot of money!

For non-US citizens, check the following websites that list cards that might not charge any overseas fees:

 

3. Minimize the Exchange Rate “Penalty”

Every time you use your card overseas, your local bank coverts the transaction into your local currency for billing purposes and takes a little off the top for doing so. Thus the official rate you see online is not what you actually get. That’s the interbank rate, and unless you become a major bank, you’re not going to get that rate. All we can do is get as close as we can to that rate. To avoid being on the real losing end of conversion, follow the following tips:

Use a credit card — Credit card companies get the best rates. Using a credit card will get you an exchange rate closest to the official interbank currency rate so avoid an ATM or cash if you can.

Use an ATM — ATMs offer the best exchange rate after credit cards. They aren’t as good as credit cards since commercial banks take a little more off the top, but it’s much better than exchanging cash. Money exchange offices offer the worst rates because they are so far down the food chain, they can’t get the best exchange rate (plus, they usually charge a commission as well).

Don’t use ATMs in weird locations — Using those ATMs you find in hotels, hostels, local 7-11s, or some other random place is a bad idea. They’re convenient, but you’ll pay for that convenience. They always charge high ATM fees and offer horrible conversion rates. Skip those ATMs and find a major bank.

Here’s a video that highlights just how sneaky these companies can be:

 

4. Don’t Change Money at Airports

Most exchange bureaus in airports are so far down the financial food chain they don’t have the clout to offer good exchange rates. The rates you see at airports are the worst — never, ever use an exchange bureau there unless you absolutely have to. Another tip: avoid using the company Travelex at all costs — they have the worst rates and fees. Never, never use them. Avoid their ATMs too!
 

5. Always Pick the Local Currency

When you use your credit card abroad, you will often be given the option to be charged in your home currency (i.e., instead of being charged in euros, they will charge you in US dollars). Never say yes. The rate at which they are converting the currency is always worse than the rate your bank will give you. Pick the local currency and let your credit card company make the conversion. You’ll get a better rate and save some money in the process.
 

6. Don’t Get Currency at Home (and Skip Foreign Currency Cards!)

While buying currency at home might seem like a good idea, you’ll end up getting a worse exchange rate. Unless you are 100% sure you’ll need cash right on arrival, avoid exchanging money in your home country. Airports all have ATMs where you can withdraw money. You can get a much better rate when you do that. Don’t get currency before you go.

Additionally, avoid any “foreign currency cards” (like those offered from currency exchange companies) where you can pre-load money at a set exchange rate. The rates given are also terrible and they often have all sorts of additional fees. Doing this basically is trying to predict the exchange rate. You’re hoping it doesn’t get worse when you travel but what if it gets better? You don’t know either way. That’s exactly why you shouldn’t get these cards.

***

Bank fees can add up to some serious money over the course of a long trip. If you want to save money, you need to be proactive when it comes to banking and currency exchanges. A little planning can go a long way and save you a ton of money over the weeks, months, and years of your travels.

I see too many travelers visit the ATM all the time without paying attention to the latest exchange rates. You’re on the losing end of the stick that way. Be smart and bank smart. I haven’t paid a bank fee while traveling the world in over ten years and you shouldn’t either.

And with these simple tips, you’ll never have to again.

WANT MORE? HERE ARE OTHER IMPORTANT TRAVEL TIPS TO HELP YOU SAVE MONEY:

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

how to travel the world on $50 a dayMy New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel save money, get off the beaten path, and have a more local, richer travel experiences. It has everything you need to know about the book

Click here to learn more about the book and get your copy today!
 
 
 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post How to Avoid Paying Bank Fees While Traveling appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link