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How to Start a Travel Blog

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a laptop on a desk
Last Updated: 4/13/21 | April 13th, 2021

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, including the links for HostGator and Bluehost. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase using these links. If you have any questions about the companies or my status as an affiliate, please don’t hesitate to email me.

Whether as a hobby or profession, starting a travel blog is pretty easy. You can set it up in under 30 minutes. It’s a lot easier than when I started my blog in 2008. Back then, I didn’t know the first thing about making a website. Luckily, on my adventures around the world, I met Matt and Kat, a British couple who also happened to be web designers.

When I came home and decided I wanted to start this travel blog, they agreed to help me set it up and teach me HTML. I hand-coded the website and used a funky tool called Dreamweaver to build it. It was painfully slow and I wasn’t very good at it. (And my original website was really ugly!)

Luckily, you no longer have to build websites that way!

Creating a website has gotten a lot easier and simpler thanks to WordPress, an out-of-the-box platform designed to make sites easier for those not technically savvy (like myself). It powers over 25% of the internet and is the best platform to start a blog on. It’s super flexible and can do whatever you want it to do — from a simple journal to complex blogs and e-commerce websites.

In our blogging masterclass, we’ve had thousands of students start a website on WordPress without any technical skills. They got them up and running — and you can too!

While I’ve talked about how to succeed as a travel blog in the past, today, I want to give a quick tutorial on how to create a travel blog from scratch in seven easy steps.

 

Step 1: Pick your name

The first thing you need to do is pick a domain name (i.e., your website name). When doing so, there are no hard and fast rules. There’s no such thing as a “wrong domain name,” but there are a couple of rules I like to live by:

  • Make a name that can last – If you pick “JohnsAsiaAdeventure.com” and then you leave Asia, the domain name won’t make sense anymore. Make sure you pick a name that isn’t so focused that if you decide to shift gears, you can keep the same domain name.
  • Don’t date your blog – Don’t pick something related to your age either. “Twenty-Something Travel” becomes really irrelevant when you get older, which actually happened to a blogger I know. Pick a name that can be used no matter your age!
  • Avoid certain words – Avoid words like “nomad,” “vagabond,” “wanderlust,” and “adventure.” They have been done to death, and they will make you seem like you’re copying people, not being original.
  • Pick a name that describes what you do as much as possible – I was a nomad, so “Nomadic Matt” was the best pick for me. If you’re into luxury, put words in your domain name that convey that. You want people to see the name and go, “I get what that website is about.”
  • Keep it short – Use 3-4 words maximum. You want the name that rolls off the tongue. Even Ramit Sethi from “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” abbreviates his site to “I Will Teach” or “IWT.” The shorter, the better.
  • Keep it simple – I’m not a fan of using jargon or slang in your domain name, as I think that makes things confusing for people who don’t know it. The last thing you want is someone saying, “What does that mean?” or being confused. If someone has to think hard about the meaning, then you’ve already lost them. So don’t try to be clever!

 

Step 2: Sign up for a host

After you’ve picked out your domain name, you’ll need to register it online and buy hosting (the little computer in the sky that’s going to power your website). There are a lot of basic hosting companies out there — and most of them are pretty terrible.

However, the two biggest and best are HostGator and Bluehost. I would go with one of those two.

While they are owned by the same parent company, I lean toward HostGator, as I find its call center customer service quicker and friendlier, and HostGator is prone to fewer outages (no one wants their website to go down!). It’s also really improved its service and now offers free SSL certificates (that’s the thing that tells users your website is secure).

Here’s a walk-through of how to set up your host with HostGator (it won’t take long):

First, head over to the website’s sign-up page and get hosting for only $2.78 per month. That’s over 60% off the normal price!

Enter your desired domain name at the top of the page. Make sure before you signup that the domain you want is available so as to avoid issues with your signup process.

The system will then prompt you to take out “domain privacy protection” which we recommend you do.

Why? This will hide your address and contact details from appearing online when someone queries your domain name. By law, website registry information is public. If you don’t opt for domain privacy, your information will be on public record – and you’ll probably get annoying calls from people trying to help you with your website. Be sure to opt-in for domain privacy so you don’t get annoying phone calls. Hostgator will be listed on the registry not you and you won’t get any spam!

If you already have a domain name but need hosting, simply select the “I already own this domain” from the tab at the top. Then, enter your domain name and continue to the next step.

Make sure you have selected the right hosting plan from the drop-down list and then select the billing cycle you are prepared to pay. The longer you lock in for, the cheaper initial pricing will be.

We suggest starting with the “Hatchling Plan” (which gives you hosting for one single domain) but if you have plans for more than one website then opt for the “Baby Plan” instead to give you room to grow (since you can host unlimited domains with it).

Next, you will then select the username for your account and a security PIN.

Fill out your billing information and preferred payment type (credit card or PayPal.)

You can opt out of all of the additional services on offer by unchecking them.

Review your order details and make sure everything is correct. Then click “Checkout Now!” at the bottom of the page.

Once your order has been received you’ll be redirected to the Hostgator billing portal. You will also be sent two separate emails with the login credentials to your hosting control panel and the billing portal for your Hostgator account. Be sure to save the information. Save them on your computer and/or print the emails for safekeeping.

They will look similar to the example below.

For those of you with an existing domain or a domain purchased from a 3rd party site like Godaddy, take note of the nameservers listed on your hosting account email. You will need to add those to your domain where you purchased it to link your domain and hosting together. Please refer to the support documents from where you bought your domain for exact instructions on how to update your nameservers.

That’s it! All that takes about five minutes from start to finish!

Again, you can click here to go to HostGator to set it up.

 

Step 3: How to Install WordPress

After you’ve registered your domain name and chosen your hosting package, the next thing you’ll want to do is install WordPress. (WordPress is what will actually run the website. The host is simply the computer your site sits on.)

WordPress is an open-source, free web publishing application, content management system (CMS), and blogging tool built by a community of developers and contributors to make it easy for people to blog!

After you’ve paid for your domain, you’ll get an email telling you your login details. Log in to your hosting control panel using the link provided to you by email when you purchased your hosting from Hostgator. The link would look similar to this:

https://gatorXXXX.hostgator.com:2083

The email will be titled “Your Account Info” if you have trouble locating it in your inbox.

Once logged into your control panel, you need to scroll down the settings page to locate the “Software” section. Then click on the “QuickInstall” link. The Software section will be located towards the bottom of the page.

On the page that loads, select WordPress.

Select your domain name from the drop-down. Leave the “directory” rectangle blank and then click next.

Enter the name of your blog, an admin username (Make sure the admin username is hard to guess), your name, your email address and then agree to the terms and conditions below. Then click the “Install” button.

Once the install process has finished, you will be given the password you need to login to your WordPress install. Take note of the password as we will show you how to change that later on. Once you have it saved click the “Login” button.


 

Step 4: Setting up your website

After you’ve installed WordPress, go to domainname.com/wp-admin and use the username and password you created to log in. You’ll see a screen like this after you log in:

Here’s a little overview of the menu on the left side of the screen:

  • Dashboard – The dashboard is the first thing you see when you log in to WordPress, and it’s the main administrative area for your blog.
  • Home – This will take you back to the main dashboard view.
  • Updates – This area will tell you if WordPress, your plugins, or your theme need to be updated.
  • Jetpack – Jetpack is a plugin that allows you to add a spell-checker, contact forms, extra widgets, etc.
  • Posts – You can view all your blog posts here, as well as set up new ones and add categories and tags.
  • Media – Here’s where you can view your media library and add new media content, like photos and videos.
  • Pages – Pages are the individual landing pages on your website (like your About page, Contact page, Resources page, etc.). You can add new pages here as well as review and edit existing ones.
  • Comments – Comments on your blog posts go here. You may want to check the spam folder periodically to make sure you’re not missing real comments.
  • WPForms – WordPress’s contact-form plugin.
  • Marketplace – Here you can create an online marketplace.
  • Appearance – This section lets you entirely customize your site’s appearance.
  • Plugins – Review, install, and update your plugins here.
  • Users – If there’s more than one person accessing your blog, you can create accounts and give them certain privileges here.
  • Tools – This section has certain tools to aid you with management tasks.
  • Settings – You can adjust all your site’s settings here, including things like your blog title and the size of thumbnails being used.
  • Insights – Insights provides traffic and user stats about those visiting your website. (Google Analytics is a better choice, though.)

Plugins are a great way to add additional functionality to a WordPress-powered site. And with over 50,000 listed in the WordPress Repository and many more premium options available from developers, there are endless possibilities as to what you can do with your site. (I’ll list some examples below.)

To get started, click on “Plugins” and then “Add New” when logged into your WordPress dashboard. Here you can search for plugins that you want and install them via a one-click install that automatically installs them to your WordPress platform.

Alternatively, you have the option to upload a plugin you have purchased or downloaded from a third-party site. To do this, see the “Step 3” arrow in the picture above. All you have to do is click “upload plugin” and you’ll be asked to upload the ZIP file of the plugin that you downloaded from the third-party website.

Once you have uploaded a plugin (or searched for one, as I’ve shown in the image below) you can install it.

After clicking the “Install Now” option, the button will change to say “Activate.” This allows you to enable the plugin on your site and makes it ready to be configured and used.

If you can think of a feature you’d like to have on your site, I can almost guarantee there is a plugin for it, but here are the essential ones for your travel blog:

  • Akismet – Just like getting junk mail in your mailbox, your website will get spammers looking to leave junk comments on your site. Akismet seeks to reduce the amount of this by automatically filtering it for you. This plugin comes installed with WordPress.
  • Yoast SEO – The best SEO plugin out there. This combines the ability to create meta tags and descriptions for your posts, optimize your titles, create a sitemap for search engines to read, customize how your posts appear across social media and do a whole lot more. It’s simple, easy to use, and comes with foolproof instructions.
  • Relevanssi – While WordPress does a lot of things well, what it fails at is adding search functionality to your site. Relevanssi seeks to fix this and give your readers the most accurate results when searching on your site.
  • UpdraftPlus – You can never back up your site too much. The WordPress database holds every word you’ve ever written, and if your blog has started to make you a few dollars, you would be nuts not to keep regular backups. UpdraftPlus does it perfectly. With the ability to schedule backups, you needn’t worry about doing it manually (especially useful to the more forgetful among us). There’s also the option to upload backups to Dropbox, Google Drive, and other cloud storage services, ensuring that if the worst does happen, your data will be safe.
  • Grow by Mediavine – A great social sharing plugin for your site. It comes with great a simple set of icons that work well on both desktop and mobile.
  • Cache Enabler – This plugin works by creating saved copies of your site, saving WordPress from having to generate them for every new visitor. This, in turn, cuts down on the amount of work your hosting server has to do and makes loading your web pages much faster.
  • Jetpack – Jetpack (pre-installed) is aimed at supercharging your website with a host of features from WordPress’s free hosting platform, giving you the best of both worlds. With this plugin, you can add a spell-checker, contact forms, extra widgets, and a whole slew of more features, all with just one plugin.
  • Code Canyon – This interactive map is a cool way to highlight your travels and share them with your readers.

 

Step 5: Install your theme

One of the most important things a blog needs besides good content is a good design. People decide in seconds whether or not they trust your website and choose to stay. A visually unappealing website will turn off readers and reduce the number of return visits you get.

So to accomplish a good design, you will need an amazing WordPress theme (i.e., design templates and files).

Luckily, there are lots of out-of-the-box options for you where you can download a predesigned theme, upload it to your website, switch it on, change some settings, and presto! A new look for your website!

You can get:

  • Free themes – Free themes are plentiful and for budding new bloggers looking to make their mark online. They seem like a great option, as they allow you to keep costs low. There are many great free themes online, but most of them are not amazing. If you plan on blogging for a long time, this might become a problem as your website grows. However, if you just need a simple design to blog for your friends and family, then go the free route. You can find some good free themes at wordpress.org.
  • Premium themes – The next step up from a free theme is a premium theme. Premium themes are paid themes that offer a bit more uniqueness, flexibility, and functionality. These cost $25 USD and up, depending on the developer and features.

I suggest getting a premium theme. Yes, it’s another cost — but here is why you should do it:

  • With a premium theme, you almost always get customer support from the developers. If you get in trouble, they are there for you. You don’t get that with a free theme.
  • With a premium theme, there are more controls and instructions so they are easier to change. Free themes don’t have that.
  • Premium themes tend to be a lot prettier.
  • Premium themes are faster and more SEO friendly.

The best company for themes is StudioPress. They are more SEO-friendly, a bit sleeker, and cooler. Before I had a custom theme, I used Studiopress exclusively. They take the least amount of work to tweak and their support is really great. I recommend them to all my students.

To install your theme, simply go to the left-hand column, click Appearance –> Themes –> Upload.

Whatever theme you picked will come as a .ZIP file for you to easily upload. From there, you just activate it, and it’s turned on! All themes come with a manual and help file so you can customize your design to your specific needs.

(If you want a custom logo or need to hire any designers, two sites to find freelancers are Upwork and 99designs.)
 

Step 6: Create your main pages

After you’ve uploaded your theme, you’re going to want to make a few basic pages on your website in addition to the blog posts. The difference between a page and a post is that a page is a static piece of content that lives separate from the blog. A post is a blog post that gets “buried” as you write more and more. For example, this post is a blog post. When I update again, another blog post will get put on top of it, and it will be pushed down in the archives, making it harder to find.

But a page, like my About page, lives on the top of the website, right near the main URL, and does NOT get buried. It’s a lot easier to find.

To create these pages, go again to your left sidebar and click Pages —> Add New. (For blog posts, use Posts –> Add New.)

I recommend creating four basic pages to start:

  • About page – This where you tell people about yourself and your history, what your blog is about, and why it will help them. This is one of the most important pages on your website, so make it personable!
  • Contact page – People need a way to reach you! Be sure to be very clear on what emails you will and won’t respond to, so people don’t send you spam.
  • Privacy page – This is a standard user agreement page informing readers what the applicable laws on your site are, that you use cookies, etc. etc. You can find out-of-the-box examples throughout the internet.
  • Copyright page – This is a standard page letting people know you own this work and not to steal it. You can find out-of-the-box examples of these, too, throughout the internet.

(If you look in my footer, under the “About Us” section, you can see examples of all four of these pages!)
 

Step 7: Join our blogging program! (optional)

Superstar Blogging travel blogging program
If you’re looking for more in-depth advice, I have a very detailed and robust blogging class that uses my ten plus years of blogging knowledge to help you start, grow, and monetize your website. It gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how I run this website and features detailed analytics, tricks, tips, and secrets about what I do. You’ll learn everything I know about creating a successful blog.

I will help you come up with your domain name, sign up for hosting, create engaging content, go viral, network with bloggers, get media attention, master SEO, create products, grow a newsletter, and make money. I will give you the tools for success — and then show you how to use those tools!

Plus, you’ll weekly strategy calls with me (ask me anything!), tech support and help setting up your blog, and a community of bloggers to help you succeed right out of the gate.

I’ll be there every step of the way. I’ll be your personal mentor.

If you’re interested, click here to learn more and get started!

***

That’s it! You’ve set up your basic website. Sure, there are social media buttons to add, blogs to write, images to upload, and things to tweak but all that comes later. Once you do the steps above, you have the framework needed to create and share your story with the world! To recap on how to start a travel blog:

By following these steps, you can start your travel blog and your stories and tips with the world! (That’s where the real fun begins!) Don’t let the tech scare you. I didn’t know anything when I started. I was totally clueless and had to teach myself how to do this. If I can do this, you can start a blog too! I believe in you! (Email me if you want more encouragement.)

 

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Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, including the links for HostGator and Bluehost. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase using these links. If you have any questions about the companies or my status as an affiliate, please don’t hesitate to email me.

The post How to Start a Travel Blog appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Annual Reader Survey: What Can We Do Better?

Posted By : webmaster/ 58 0


a laptop notebook and smartphone
Posted: 4/12/21 | April 12th, 2021

Hello all!

Just a quick post today.

Once a year, I like doing a reader survey to learn what everyone thinks of the website, discover ways we can improve, find out about things you like that we’re missing, and get a sense of how you all plan your trips and travel.

We didn’t do a survey last year because, well, COVID and all.

But, with the world opening up again and travel so changed, I wanted to do one now.

These surveys help us know a bit more about you, understand your travel style, how you plan, and give us a chance to get your feedback on what content you want to see more (or less) of here on the website.

This year, we’re going to redesign the website, start taking guest posts again, and further develop our virtual and in-person events series.

So, if you want to share your opinion and help shape the direction of this website, click here to fill out the survey. It’s completely anonymous.

This is a longish survey and will probably take 5-10 minutes to complete, but it will really help us improve this website and guide our future content.

With travel resuming in various stages this year, your feedback makes it a lot easier for us to serve you better.

I would greatly appreciate it if you took the time to complete the survey so we’re able to give you the content you need to travel cheaper, safer, longer, and smarter.

That it’s! If you have any questions, drop them in the comments!

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. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

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

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post Annual Reader Survey: What Can We Do Better? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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NEWS: We’re Launching a New Membership Site!

Posted By : webmaster/ 135 0


A group of friends having a picnic at sunset
Posted: 4/1/2021 | April 1st, 2021

Last year, we started a Patreon page as a way to further develop this website’s community. In conjunction with The Nomadic Network, it allowed us to share more stories and connect with readers more through (virtual) events!

Now, we’re taking it a step further by discontinuing our Patreon effort — and introducing “Nomadic Matt Plus”!

When we asked for feedback from our current Patreon members, the number one response was “Make it easy for us to find content. Patreon kind of sucks at that.”

Most people didn’t like going to a third-party website for content or updates in the first place. Moreover, they also said the interface made it hard to access older content, since Patreon doesn’t have a search function. Everything is in a chronological newsfeed and, since we posted a lot there, content just got pushed down further and further.

So we created our own version of Patreon in order to solve those problems.

With our new membership site, members will automatically get email updates when new content is posted. We’ve also simplified the navigation and made it easier to access all our guidebooks and downloadable cheatsheets. And we added a search function to make it easier to find old content.

In short, we’ve created a better and easier user experience for our community members!

As a member of Nomadic Matt Plus, you’ll be part of a community within a community. You’ll have access to special content, events, books, and meet-ups. It’s a way to level up your travels!

As a Plus member, you’ll get:

  • Regular community Q&As with me!
  • Travel planning calls with me!
  • Private Instagram stories
  • Exclusive travel stories and tips not shared anywhere else
  • Content before it appears on the website
  • A members-only Facebook group
  • All our TNN events and virtual replays
  • Free copies of our guidebooks (a $69 value!)
  • Free access to our blogging and writing courses
  • Free tickets to TravelCon
  • Autographed copies of my print books
  • T-shirts so you can have a symbol of your membership (and hopefully spot others when you travel)

We’ve also simplified our membership tiers. We now have three easy plans:

The membership tiers for Nomadic Matt Plus

And, when you join as an annual member, you get three months free!

So if you’re looking for additional travel content that saves you money, Q&As with me, a members-only Facebook group, access to all our guides and courses, exclusive events with other community members, and much more, come join our membership program!

Moreover, if you join now, you’ll be able to attend our first community call on April 5th!

While 99% of our content will always remain free, becoming a club member allows you to get added stories, travel tips, special events, and guidebooks to help you travel cheaper, better, and longer.

You’ll become a master traveler while also connecting more with the other kindred souls in this community! A win-win!

Just click here to sign up today!

If you have any questions, drop them in the comments.

Sincerely,

Nomadic Matt
 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post NEWS: We’re Launching a New Membership Site! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Why You Should Start Booking Your Future Trips Now

Posted By : webmaster/ 137 0


A destination signboard in an airport
Posted: 3/29/21 | March 29th, 2021

If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting over a year for this moment. That light at the end of the tunnel — where we are mostly vaccinated and can hug strangers, go to concerts and crowded bars, and travel the world again.

Sure, in the past year, many parts of the world have been open to visitors and some people have been traveling. Nor has the pandemic stopped people from pretending it’s not happening and crowding into packed bars (see Florida).

But what I’m talking about is that tipping point for the rest of us. That time when infections, hospitalizations, and deaths dwindle to the point where a majority of the world reopens, conferences and events are held again, attractions open, and the rest of us cram into bars again to make out with strangers on a drunken night.

We’re not there yet — it will take at least another year or two before we’re fully “back to normal” — but every day we inch closer to a post-COVID world where things open up and we have options again.

It looks at least the United States, the Middle East, parts of Europe, Central and South America, and many Caribbean countries will be “open for business” by mid-summer (if not sooner).

In fact, many countries are already allowing visitors to skip mandated quarantine / PCR testing if they are vaccinated (Iceland, Greece, Israel, and Ecuador, for example, and Thailand is already considering doing the same).

And, with all this palpable excitement, as Vice recently reported, people are starting to book trips again — so much so that many destinations are already filling up.

Before the pandemic, most people would book their trip one to two months before they left. During the pandemic, it was down to one to two weeks, as people were worried about ever-changing rules and restrictions.

Now, travelers are starting to do that four months or more out, in anticipation of destinations reopening.

Airplane ticket prices are rising, and tours are filling up, as are campgrounds. Accommodations, especially Airbnbs, are selling out fast — and those prices are rising too, as demand for them increases due to people looking to be self-contained rather than in a hotel. (But if you want a hotel, that means you’ll find incredible rates and lots of options).

And the awesome travel deals we are seeing now won’t last forever.

In short, you should start booking your travels now (but purchase refundable tickets).

And it’s not just in the United States.

Greece, France, Spain, Italy — all these summer hotspots are getting booked on the assumption that they will be open again by then. I’ve spoken to a number of travel agents that are having a hard time finding hotels and resorts for their clients.

That doesn’t mean the situation can’t or won’t change. A new strain might appear, the world might shut down again, countries might delay opening if their own population’s vaccination program takes longer than expected. Who knows? The summer may be close, but in COVID years, it’s a long time away.

That’s why you want to make sure you get refundable bookings.

But, as they say, you don’t want to be caught with your pants down, paying higher prices for your summer or fall vacation.

Right now, everyone in the travel industry needs money. They want to fill seats on planes, spots on tours, and rooms in hotels. There are a ton of deals at the moment — even to countries that are closed right now, because people are anticipating they will reopen by the summer.

But the current deals won’t last long.

Because people will start to get more comfortable taking trips and the outlook begins to brighten, prices will rise with demand. There’s a lot of people waiting to travel: people who postponed 2020 trips, people who had trips already booked, and people who, after COVID, have decided not to wait any longer.

That, coupled with reduced capacity and options, means that prices will creep up (a lot).

So, regardless of whether you’re staying within your own country or flying to some exotic locale, I’d start booking your trips right now.

Don’t wait.

Better to catch these deals now, even if your plans are fuzzy, rather than paying more later.

Smart travelers book when the deals happen.

Be a smart traveler.
 

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

Nomadic Matt's How to Travel the World on $50 a DayMy New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”

Click here to learn more and start reading it today!
 
 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post Why You Should Start Booking Your Future Trips Now appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to Get Paid When Your Flight is Delayed

Posted By : webmaster/ 131 0


An airplane parked at a gate at an airport in Europe
Posted: 3/27/21 | March 27th, 2021

Things don’t always go as planned on the road. Lost luggage, delayed flights, travel scams — there are tons of things that can derail your trip.

While serendipity, mishaps, and surprises are part of the allure of travel, the one mishap no one likes is a delayed flight.

There’s no fun in missed connections and long delays, especially after little sleep and long travel days.

As someone who flies regularly, I’ve experienced pretty much every hiccup there is. Delays, cancelations, lost or delayed luggage, overbooked flights — the list goes on.

While I always buy travel insurance before I go abroad, there is actually a company out there designed specifically to help travelers secure compensation when flight delays and cancelations strike.

It’s called Airhelp.

Since its founding in 2013, AirHelp has helped over 16 million people get compensation for delays and canceled flights arriving in or departing from the European Union.

I used them in 2019 when I was on my way to Paris. My connecting flight was delayed over eight hours and, thanks to EU rules, I was entitled to get compensation from the airline.

The problem was that I didn’t really want to chase TAP Air Portugal for months on end. People said that they drag the process out in hopes you’ll give up (which many do). As someone who was only in Europe for a short time, I realized the last thing I wanted was to spend my little time in living in Paris on the phone with TAP. I mean who wants that kind of stress in the land of wine and cheese?

So I decided to use AirHelp.

In the end, it took about five months before I was refunded my money. But it was refunded and all I had to do was fill out a small form. AirHelp took a considerable percentage, but I got everything the EU said I was legally entitled to receive.

So, if you’re traveling to/from Europe on a European carrier and there’s a mishap and you’re wondering what to do, here’s an overview of how AirHelp can help you get compensated for delayed and canceled flights:
 

What Does AirHelp Cover?

A screenshot from the airhelp website
The EU has strong consumer protection laws, which means that if you have a flight arriving in or departing from the European Union and it is delayed or canceled, or if you experience certain other circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation, which ranges from $300 to $700 USD, depending on the severity of the delay.

Note: If your flight does not originate or arrive in the EU, or if the carrier is not headquartered in the EU, you’ll be unable to apply for compensation.

Here’s a quick overview of what is covered by AirHelp:

  • Delays of over three hours where the airline is at fault (i.e., no weather delays)
  • Flights canceled with 14 days of departure and no suitable alternative is offered
  • Overbooked flights
  • Missed connections due to delay, cancelation, or overbooking
  • Lost or damaged luggage

For an in-depth look at AirHelp’s coverage policies, check out its detailed guidelines.
 

How Do I Submit a Claim?

To make a claim, simply visit AirHelp.com and follow the prompts, with your flight details and boarding pass at hand. It takes two minutes and is super easy. The site will tell you right away if you have a claim.

You can apply for compensation for delayed flights up to three years after the date, which means if you’ve had a flight to or from the EU with a three-hour delay (or more) sometime in the past three years, then you can still make a claim for compensation.
 

Does AirHelp Cost Money?

Making a claim is free. You only pay AirHelp if it wins your compensation claim. It will take 35% of the compensation, however (50% if they have to go to court).

While that is a huge percentage, remember, you only have to do two minutes of work. Not a bad trade if it wins you a couple of hundred bucks!
 

Does AirHelp Work for Flights in the US?

In the US government’s own words, “There are no federal laws requiring airlines to provide passengers with money or other compensation when their flights are delayed.”

In order to apply for compensation via AirHelp, your flight must take off from the EU or land in the EU — and be flown by an airline with headquarters in the EU.

Unfortunately, if you’re flying a US airline, you won’t be entitled to compensation unless that airline has its own policy stating otherwise.
 

How Do the Compensation Rules Work in the EU?

EU Regulation EC 261 is the main protective piece of legislation that protects passenger rights in Europe. It’s the driving force behind your ability to make a claim.

Under EC 261, you are entitled to file a delayed flight claim for $700 (600 EUR) if:

  • You arrived at your destination more than three hours late.
  • The flight took off in the EU (from any airline) or landed in the EU (provided that the airline is headquartered in the EU).?
  • You checked in for your flight on time.
  • Your flight operated no more than three years ago.?
  • The airline is responsible for the delay (operational circumstances, technical difficulties, etc.).?

It doesn’t matter whether the airline has already provided you with food or travel vouchers — they will still owe you compensation. As long as you meet the above requirements (even if you’re not an EU resident or citizen) you’ll be covered and eligible to make a claim.
 

Why Not Just Do It Myself?

You can definitely chase down an airline for compensation if you have time. Some airlines make it relatively easy while others will make you jump through hoops. If you have the time and patience, you can do it yourself and keep 100% of your compensation.

I didn’t want to do it myself. Time is money!

And I certainly don’t need more stress in my life.

AirHelp’s fee is pretty big but 35% to not have to deal with this was worth it to me.

You’ll save a ton of time and increase your chances of getting compensation by using AirHelp. It has a proven track record and knows how to get your money as quickly and conveniently as possible.

***

The next time your flight is canceled or delayed, don’t just settle for a voucher. Take two minutes and run a claim through AirHelp. A few hundred bucks in your pocket is better than nothing, especially when you could be spending that money on your next trip!

Note: This isn’t a paid advertisement. AirHelp did not provide me any compensation to write this. This is just a review of the service as many readers keep asking me about my experience using them.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post How to Get Paid When Your Flight is Delayed appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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It’s Time to Be Nomadic Again!

Posted By : webmaster/ 113 0


Nomadic Matt looking at the landscape in Africa
Posted: 3/25/21 | March 25th, 2021

Slightly more than a year ago, I flew home from Paris with the desire to do one thing: stay in place. I cleared my travel schedule, signed up for dating apps, and joined numerous social clubs in Austin with two goals in mind. I wanted to: (a) find a girlfriend and (b) expand my social circle and make new friends in Austin.

I wanted to settle down and build a life for myself in the city. It was going to be a time when I planted some roots.

Then the coronavirus hit, and though I was still not traveling, I couldn’t do any of that settling-down socializing stuff because, well, everything was closed because of COVID.

Like most of you, in the past year, I’ve sat home a lot, read a lot, and cooked a lot — and was bored a lot. I’ve gone through bouts of “I’m going to make it through!” and sheer madness. It’s like this SNL skit (the video is only available in the US):

I did “travel” some. I drove home to see my parents in Boston and had a few weeks in Maine.

I spent six weeks in Mexico in an abortive attempt to live there for the winter.

But, mostly, I was alone in my apartment.

That’s not to say nothing good happened.

In the past year, a lot has happened on this website that wouldn’t have if it weren’t for COVID: We slowed down and reassessed our goals. We slimmed down our company, got a handle on our finances, and became thriftier. We started virtual events since we couldn’t do in-person events — and they are such a hit that we’ll keep doing them.

Though we had to cancel it this year, I feel good about where we are with the future of TravelCon, and about where we are at in general when travel returns.

And on a personal level, I got a lot better at cooking, learned to sleep better, cut down my alcohol consumption, and read a lot more than I normally do.

But here’s the thing: I never truly understood the phrase “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” until now.

Travel — an integral part of my life, my career, my identity — was ripped away from me. So much of what I took for granted was gone quicker than those via Thanos’ snap.

I may be an introvert, but travel is where I get to play the part extrovert — it’s the other side of this Gemini’s soul.

Before, I could go out in the world, be the extrovert, and then retreat to my house to books, Netflix, and my cozy introverted nature.

COVID took that away from me and, as a consequence, I felt a bit listless and empty over the last year.

But now, thanks to the vaccine, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’m ready to no longer take things like travel, friends, and family for granted.

The pandemic has changed a lot about how I view life. While I still want to settle down here in Austin, right now, I have some living to do!

Last year, the pandemic shut down the hostel I co-own in Austin. After a year of being empty, the building is finally being sold, which coincides with my apartment’s lease ending.

So I’m selling my stuff, getting vaccinated (50% of the way there), putting the few things I’m keeping in storage, getting in my car, and driving until I lose the road. My general plan is to road-trip around the United States until the end of May, journey home to see my parents again, then, hopefully, head to the Middle East and Europe before coming back to Austin in September.

Specifically, there are a lot of national parks I haven’t been to yet that I want to see. I’ll drive west to the Grand Canyon, then up into Utah, visit all the parks there, then up to Boise, over to Portland, and down the coast to San Diego, where I’ll leave my car with a friend and fly to Boston.

From there, I’d like to do Oman and Israel before going to Greece then trekking around the Balkans.

On the first part of the road trip, I mostly don’t plan on seeing people. In fact, I won’t run into friends until I hit Salt Lake City. Before that, it’ll be just me, lots of podcasts, takeaway food, and the great outdoors! Even though I long to hang out with people and hug strangers, I’ll wait until more of us are vaccinated for that.

But it’s all up in the air depending on what’s open and vaccination rates.

Sure, it could all go to shit and none of it could happen. The pandemic has taught us that you never know what tomorrow brings. But there’s trip planning in my life again and the knowledge that some travel will be possible soon.

It will be good to get out there again. To see the world, to meet people, to write stories again. I had planned to write another book this year, but because of COVID, that plan is shelved until next year. Then again, maybe a new book will come out of this experience. Who knows?

You never know where the road — or the world — will take you, right?

So off I go on a new adventure, with gratitude for the ability to do that again and a larger appreciation for nature, my friends, family, and life in general.
 

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

Nomadic Matt's How to Travel the World on $50 a DayMy New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”

Click here to learn more and start reading it today!
 
 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post It’s Time to Be Nomadic Again! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Why I Hope This Pandemic Changes Our Attitude Towards Travel

Posted By : webmaster/ 118 0


A crowd of tourists entering Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Posted: 3/22/2021 | March 22nd, 2021

Overtourism. Influencers flouting local rules for the perfect ‘gram. Ignoring the locals living in the destinations we visit as we book Airbnbs, crowd streets, behave badly, and generate waste that will stay in our destination long after we leave.

There was a lot of bad travel behavior pre-COVID.

Sure, there have always been tourists behaving badly ever since the first tourist existed.

But, in an age where travel has become so easy and ubiquitous for so many for the first time, those problems were amplified a thousandfold. Destinations didn’t have the necessary infrastructure to handle the flood of tourists cheap travel brought.

From flouting rules and refusing to wear a mask to hosting parties, coughing on others, and just generally being selfish, the pandemic has shown us that the world is filled with more assholes than we thought.

But, despite all of that, when it comes to the future of travel, I think the pandemic is going to make it better.

As we yearn to reconnect with friends, family, and the world at large, I think that what we’ve gone through has also given many of us a chance to reflect on all the things we took for granted: the outdoors, community, neighborhood restaurants, and the arts.

The sentiment I’m picking up on is that, when we can travel again, we will do so better and more thoughtfully. The vast majority of people I talk to and surveys I read show that people want to reconnect with local cultures, explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, and avoid mass tourism. And they want to make sure their environmental impact is reduced.

The new mantra is: less is more and smaller is better.

That’s not to say that suddenly the world of “tourists” will be gone. There will be plenty of partying in Ibiza, Thailand, and Bali when this is all over. (Heck, I mean, look at Tulum right now. That place is crazy!) People can’t wait to get back on cruise ships. And I’m sure plenty of influencers will be back to flouting local rules for that perfect shot.

But I think, as a whole, there will be a lot more people trying to do better.

And that will be in part because the industry will reinvent itself.

We usually think of travel as “us experiencing a place”: we go somewhere, we do things, we leave. We treat places like museums.

There was (and still is) a general belief that travel is a right (it is not) and that locals should be happy with all the visitors (they often aren’t).

What many of us often forget is that people actually live in that place we’re visiting. They have lives and wants and needs and don’t like the crowded streets either. Whenever you’re thinking, “Ugh, there are so many tourists here,” well, all the locals around you are thinking the same thing too…and they have to live with that feeling every day.

But now, with so many destinations devoid of tourists, many locals (obviously those not working in tourism) are thinking to themselves, “Do we even want tourists back? If they come back, let’s make sure it’s done better.”

The pandemic has given destinations — and the industry as a whole — the opportunity to reset and rethink travel and tourism. Instead of trying to solve the problem of “overtourism” while the tourists keep coming — as if they were fighting the tide with a broom — they can now rethink tourism one tourist at a time. Everyone is virtually starting from zero.

There are endless examples of this, from Goa, Sri Lanka, and Prague to Italy, Iceland, and the Caribbean.

Moreover, travel companies are changing how they market to consumers, focusing on locals, going green, and touting their cleanliness policies. Hostels are reinventing themselves as digital nomads’ co-living spaces. Tourism boards are concentrating on getting people away from the hubs and spreading the tourism dollars around — or getting people to explore their own home, like in this New Zealand ad.

There is a movement among those in travel to use the pandemic as a chance for positive change. You see that not only among destinations but also big brands, resorts, and travel agent organizations too.

And that’s why I’m hopeful.

Because with consumers, destinations, and companies — the trifecta of the tourism industry — all looking to change their ways, travel is going to change.

Now is one of those once-in-a-generation opportunities people talk about.

When you start traveling again, think about your impact — both on the local people and the environment. It requires more work, but it’s important work. It needs to be done.

We can’t be as careless as we used to be.

I was already changing how I traveled before the virus struck, especially when it came to my environmental and waste impact. I wasn’t the worst traveler out there, but there was definitely room for improvement. But when more when travel opens up, I plan to use more local brands, stay at smaller hotels, go visit more offbeat destinations, do more cultural activities (especially focused on marginalized groups), and be even more conscious of my environmental footprint.

As a traveler, you’ll never learn about a place fully in a few days. No one expects you to. But that doesn’t mean we need to think about travel as a one-way street. Think of what you can give back too. If I take a piece of the places I visit home, is there something good I can leave? Is there something I can do to make the interaction more symbiotic than transactional? After all, people who welcome strangers want to learn about them too. Travel is, at its core, about people. That’s what made the sharing economy so popular.

Whether it’s donating money, volunteering while abroad, educating yourself on local issues, or choosing local businesses over multinational chains, think of ways to give back when you hit the road again.

I see a lot of positive change in the future and, from my conversations with people in the industry and readers like you, I think travel will be less extracting and more sustainable in the future.

It was already a topic of conversation before the pandemic and I think what we’ve gone through will accelerate those attitudes.

After all, necessity is the mother of invention.
 

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

Nomadic Matt's How to Travel the World on $50 a DayMy New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”

Click here to learn more and start reading it today!
 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post Why I Hope This Pandemic Changes Our Attitude Towards Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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6 Reasons You Should Learn the Local Language Before Your Trip

Posted By : webmaster/ 166 0


Michele from The Intrepid Guide in Egypt
Posted: 3/1/2021 | March 1st, 2021

I love learning languages. They unlock new opportunities and open all kinds of doors when you visit a new destination. Even just learning a few words and phrases and deepen your travels immensely. In this guest post, Michele from The Intrepid Guide highlights the top reasons why you should invest in learning a new language before your next trip.

My first trip outside of Australia was to Italy. I had dreamed of visiting ever since I was little. I was so excited and nervous about my first big adventure that I planned each day in detail. I booked skip-the-queue tickets and outlined my whole itinerary so I wouldn’t miss a thing.

But what I didn’t account for was the language.

I’m the daughter of an Italian immigrant but I didn’t learn Italian growing up. We spoke English at home; the only Italian words I knew I could count on one hand.

While I had a great trip to Italy and saw amazing ancient monuments and world-famous art, I only scratched the surface of what Italy has to offer. I could barely buy my tickets in Italian let alone engage in friendly conversation with the locals. I felt insecure in my decisions and annoyed that I had learned Italian beforehand.

When I got back to Australia, that’s exactly what I did. Deciding to learn Italian changed my life forever, including where I lived, how I traveled, and my career.

Learning the local language is one of the best decisions you can make before any trip. Learning even just a few phrases allows you to communicate and experience travel in a different way. It adds depth and nuance to your trip, making it more memorable while also opening the door to new opportunities.

Here are 6 reasons you should learn the local language before your next trip.
 

1. You’re Less Likely to Be Ripped Off

One of the easiest ways to ruin a trip is being stuck somewhere or needing help but feeling entirely helpless because you don’t speak the local language.

Then there are the moments when you know you’re being ripped off but don’t have a clue how to get yourself out of it. This is especially true with taxi drivers.

Knowing the local language helps you in two ways:

First, you become instantly more likable to the other person. People don’t tend to rip off people they like. In fact, after a bit of small talk, you might even get a discount or some other kind of special service.

For example, during a language holiday in Florence, I had a friendly chat with the owner of a high-end store for a good ten minutes. He asked why I was there, then shared some interesting history about the famous Duomo (cathedral) located nearby, and I told him how much I loved Italy.

Before leaving, he gave me a beautiful zipper envelope pouch for no other reason than because he enjoyed our conversation. Years later, I still use the pouch and reminisce about that special day in Florence. The rest of that trip was a blur except for this unexpected interaction.

The second reason you should dive straight into the local language is to demonstrate that you have some level of understanding of how “things work” locally. The other person may assume that you’ve visited before and know your way around and how much things cost. This gives them less reason and opportunity to take advantage of you because you’re demonstrating you’re savvier than the typical tourist.

Then there are the moments when you know you’re being ripped off but don’t have a clue how to get yourself out of it. For example, some taxi drivers at Rome’s Ciampino Airport run a racket where they grossly overcharge tourists going into the historical center. An American friend of mine experienced this first hand during her visit.

Luckily, with her basic Italian, she managed to find another taxi driver willing to charge her the correct flat fee and avoided being ripped off.

Before I leave home, I always make sure to learn at least these two key phrases:

  1. How much does it cost?
  2. That’s too expensive!

These work hand in hand to show the other person you’re not one to be taken advantage of.
 
Michele from The Intrepid Guide by a canal in Europe

2. It’s Easier to Make New Friends

Meeting new people and making friends is one of the biggest rewards of traveling. And it all starts with a simple greeting like Ciao!, Bonjour!, !Hola¡, Hej!, Konnichiwa!, or Ni Hao!

On a girls’ trip to Sicily, I was traveling with four of my closest English-speaking friends, who all spoke various levels of Italian. On our first night, we found a restaurant located off the main street. It was overflowing with locals, with no tourist menu in sight. Seated across from us was a small family. The head of the family, la mamma (named Maria), was intrigued by the five of us and invited me over for a chat. She was so interested in the story of how we all came to be in her hometown and this local restaurant.

After a brief conversation, all in Italian, our newly adopted mamma invited us around to her home the next day for afternoon tea! When we arrived, Maria welcomed us with two traditional homemade cakes. We stayed for a couple of hours, laughed, and took a photo together.

Before leaving, Maria gave us her recipes for both cakes. To this day, being invited into Maria’s home remains one of my most vivid and cherished travel memories.

When getting to know someone new and making friends, we often ask each other the same sorts of questions, for example, “What’s your name?,” “Where are you from?,” and “What [work] do you do?.” etc. The answers you give form your biography, which you will repeat more than you think. So, when picking up any new language, I learn my biography first. This way I can confidently initiate conversations and respond to these common questions. Sometimes the scariest part is starting a conversation, but if you know your bio inside out, this becomes less of an issue.
 

3. It’s the Right Thing to Do

The most important reason to learn the local language is that it’s polite. It doesn’t matter if you travel to the Netherlands or Norway, where people are known to speak excellent English — the thing to remember is that you’re a guest.

Think of it like you’re visiting a friend’s house. Do you wipe your shoes before entering or maybe even take them off? This sort of common decency comes naturally, without really thinking about it. But since we travel less often than we visit a friend’s home, it’s as if we forget how to be polite.

No one expects you to become fluent before a trip, so even if you aim to only learn “Do you mind if we speak English?” in the local language, this nice gesture will be better received than if you shout, “ENGLISH?!” (Shouting never makes anyone better understood anyway.)
 

4. People are Nicer to You

Making any sort of effort to speak the local language plays a big part in how people will treat you. Their whole demeanor will change if greeted in their native language. They may look pleasantly surprised or even compliment you.

You don’t need to be fluent either. Being “travel fluent” and just learning a few essential travel phrases goes a long way. More often than not, you’ll notice that people are more willing to go the extra mile for you because they see you’re trying to be respectful.

Plus, it’s also very endearing to hear the accent of someone trying to speak your language. Just think of your favorite foreign accent (maybe it’s French or Italian), and imagine someone thinking the same thing about you when you speak their language!

A great place to get started is by learning these five words/phrases:

  1. Hello
  2. Please
  3. Thank you
  4. I would like…
  5. Goodbye

Once you’ve mastered these, then try to expand your vocabulary. The more you learn, the more confident you’ll feel using the language.
 
Michele from The Intrepid Guide in snowy Norway

5. You Get to Really Know a Place

Nelson Mandela famously said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

I love this quote because it perfectly sums up the power of speaking to someone in their mother tongue. Languages are like bridges: they unite us. When you speak to people in their language, you’re able to go below the surface of a destination and have an authentic experience.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bonded with complete strangers (especially in Italy, France, and Spain), who light up when I tell them I’m from Australia. They go on to tell me they have a cousin, brother, or some other relative who moved to Australia and how much they’d love to visit one day. It’s wonderful to hear their stories.

This also gives you the opportunity to learn about the place you’re visiting and the people who make it special. Before you know it, they’re sharing local tips and recommendations.

My suggestion is to make the most of seemingly inconsequential moments during your trip, so you can dig beneath the surface. For example, during your taxi ride from the airport to your hotel, ask the driver “Can you recommend a good restaurant?” or “Where is your favorite place in X?” You’ll be amazed at the variety of suggestions you’ll receive, many of which you won’t find in any tourist guide either.
 

6. It Could Change Your Life

With some of the local language under your belt, there’s no telling what sort of long-lasting effect it can have on you. It might inspire you to learn a particular language more seriously, motivate you to learn the local language before every trip you take, or even move somewhere!

My first trip to Italy was all it took for me to decide to start learning Italian seriously. I had such a wonderful time there and felt so at home and welcome that when I returned to Australia, I dedicated the next three years to studying Italian. When I reached fluency, I quit my job and moved to Rome, where I lived for three years, made new friends, learned a new culture, and adopted a healthy way to live.

It was the best time of my life. It even inspired me to create The Intrepid Guide, a travel and language-learning site designed to help travelers have equally amazing and life-changing trips, all thanks to the power of languages.

***

There is a misconception that learning a language is a difficult process. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. With the right resources, methods, and with a bit of patience, you can learn any language at any age.

This is why I created Intrepid Languages, a series of no-nonsense language courses specifically designed to get you speaking the local language ahead of your trip. No rote memorization oe fluff!

If you’ve read this far, then I know you’re serious about wanting to get the most out of your travel experiences. So, as a Nomadic Matt reader, I want to reward you with a special discount. Get 20% OFF any Intrepid Languages courses by using promo code NOMADICMATT at checkout. This includes Intrepid Italian, Intrepid Spanish, Intrepid French, Intrepid Norwegian, and more.

Learning a language is an investment. It will add depth to your travels and open so many doors that would otherwise have been closed. If you want to get beneath the surface of a destination, save money, and have a more memorable trip, then spend some time learning a language before you go. You won’t regret it!

Michele is “the guide” behind The Intrepid Guide, a travel and language-learning site designed to help readers enrich their travels through languages. Follow Michele on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. (And don’t forget to use promo code NOMADICMATT at checkout for your special reader discount.)

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

Need to book your trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. The are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post 6 Reasons You Should Learn the Local Language Before Your Trip appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Austin’s Snowpocalypse: The Storm that Took the City Down

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Snow and blue skies in Austin, Texas during the snowstorm
Posted: 2/25/2021

“That guy is buying six dozen eggs? And look at all that water!” I said, staring at a picture from a local grocery store on my friend’s phone. “I mean, it’s going to get cold and snow a bit, but this isn’t the apocalypse! I think this guy is going overboard.”

“Right?” she said laughing, before going back to sipping her wine.

“Yeah, it’s not like the water is going to go off,” I said.

But it turned out it was the apocalypse — and the water was going to go off.

Having grown up in Boston, I’m used to snow. Lots of it and for many months at a time. It doesn’t faze me. Over the last few years, as snow and cold weather have become more frequent, I’ve even got used to it down here in Texas.

But I know full well that the state can’t handle anything more than a light dusting. Forecasts of snowfall send people rushing out to the stores to stock up for Armageddon.

And then the snow comes, melts when it hits the ground, and we go on with our lives.

So I wasn’t too worried about the snow forecast on Valentine’s Day. I had stocked up on food a few days before and — since I’ll never forget how Hurricane Sandy in NYC showed me how unprepared I was for any disaster — I always have a little prepper kit in my house: bottled water, batteries, candles, flashlights, and other basic survival stuff. Not that I ever thought I would have to use it.

And so, as the snow fell that Sunday night, I confidently fell fast asleep.

I woke up to a different world.

Our rolling blackouts never rolled.

At first, that Monday felt like a “snow day.” On the ground were six inches of snow, an unheard-of amount here in Texas. But everyone was outside playing in it. Kids were sledding. People were building snowmen.

Although we did not have power, parts of the city still did. And almost everyone had running water. Having been advised that we would get our electricity back by Tuesday, no one in my area seemed too concerned.

Nomadic Matt in the snow during the Texas snow storm

Unable to work, I spent the day reading and cooking as much food on my gas stove as I could before it went bad in my dark refrigerator.

I went to bed that night only to wake up to an even worse situation. More of the city was losing power, pipes were starting to freeze, and the water system began to shut down. The cold continued, and there was no relief in sight. Officials stopped giving estimates of when power and water would be restored. By Wednesday, the entire city was under a boil notice, as the treatment plant had also shut down.

Back in 2011, a crippling cold spell created a similar (though not as intense) situation. After that, a post-mortem was conducted. The recommendations included weatherizing power plants and making sure there was backup natural gas (most of the energy in this state is generated through natural gas, and power plants don’t often keep a backup supply). The state’s energy regulator, ERCOT, issued a set of voluntary rules also suggesting that power companies weatherize. It being optional, and this being Texas, they did not do that.

Fast-forward ten years later, and another cold snap took out the entire state’s grid. Power plants simply couldn’t function because they weren’t weatherized. As natural gas pipelines, nuclear cooling pools, and wind turbines froze, power generation kept falling. And we couldn’t get any from other states, because Texas isn’t connected to the national grid, in order to avoid federal regulations. And since there wasn’t any backup supply, there was no power.

As the cold worsened, more pipes froze and burst and more sections of Austin lost water.

Suddenly, that fun snow day turned into something more deadly. Where I live in East Austin, everyone who could do so evacuated to somewhere else. I went north to stay with a friend who had power and water and wait things out.

But by Wednesday, her water was off too. Luckily, we had filled as many bottles and pots as possible.

By Thursday, some of the power to my building had returned, and so I went back to my apartment.

By Friday, all my power was back and I had plenty of water, though I still had to boil water for drinking.

It wasn’t until the weekend that power was fully restored. By Monday, our boil notice had been lifted.

Now, life is back to normal. Temperatures are back into the 70s and everything is open. Grocery stores still have limited supplies, but for the most part, life moves on, and we’re dealing with the aftermath.

I count myself lucky. I had a place to go. I had food. My friends had places to go. I only had three easily fixable burst water pipes. A few friends had massive leaks, but we’re all safe.

But the same is not true for others.

A snowy park in Austin, Texas

The storm killed almost 60 people (though it will takes months to learn the true toll), created a humanitarian crisis, and caused billions of dollars of property damage.

The government of Texas failed its citizens. Who knows if anything will be done about it? Five members of the board of ERCOT have resigned. There will be investigations. Our governor says there will be reform.

But I’m not that hopeful. This is still Texas and all the people in power have no desire for regulation. Wind power is already being falsely blamed, even though it only produces 23% of the state’s power, and ERCOT said it performed above expectations.

Maybe a few minor changes will be made. Maybe they will force plants to weatherize now. Maybe.

That said, people came together to help out strangers.

Neighbors helped neighbors. Hotels, restaurants, and regular people opened their doors, offering food, water, and shelter. Across Texas, organizations pulled together for those in need. Millions of dollars were raised for free meals, water, and groceries for people. Social media were alight with information on where to go and places to get free meals, water, and supplies. Lines at grocery stores were long but moved quickly. People were orderly. No chaos ensued.

We got through this also with the support of our fellow citizens from around the country.

It was a surreal week. It will take a while for many in this state to rebuild and repair their homes. The costs will be enormous. But, as dark as it was, we got through it together, and that was pretty heartwarming.

That me hopeful that the world might not end like Mad Max.

But I do wonder about the guy and his six cartons of eggs. Did he eat them all when the power went out?

And I will definitely weatherize my pipes when I buy a house later this year!

Book Your Trip to Austin: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!

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

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

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

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

The post Austin’s Snowpocalypse: The Storm that Took the City Down appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Work from Home Gift Guide: 21 Amazing Gifts for Remote Workers

Posted By : webmaster/ 200 0


A cool home office for a remote worker
Posted: 12/17/20 | December 17th, 2020

The pandemic has made working from home a permanent fixture of our lives. What once just techies and bloggers did, now accountants and all kinds of office workers do.

When the pandemic subsides, I think many will go back to the office. However, working from home is here to stay and I suspect a lot of people will continue to work from home. Not only is it cheaper for businesses but it means more flexibility, time with family, and less commuting. I think a lot of companies are realizing they don’t need huge corporate offices to have successful employees.

In the future, I suspect there will be some all-hands meetings and some rented space for those who want to go into an office, but for everyone else, the future of work looks increasingly remote.

While I love working from home, it does have its challenges. Being productive and finding that elusive work-life balance can be tricky. It’s a constant battle – but one that can easily be accomplished with a few helpful gadgets.

To help my fellow remote workers stay on task this holiday season, I’ve created this work-from-home gift guide for you or the remote worker in your life.
 

1. Ergonomic Office Chair

A comfortable office chairEveryone who works online or in an office knows that back pain and bad posture are constant threats — spending hours at a computer takes its toll on your back. I know, lumbar support isn’t sexy, but invest in a good ergonomic desk chair with lower back support, a padded seat, and padded armrests. You’ll thank me later!

Buy now on Amazon!
 

2. Standing Desk

A standing office deskLike your office chair, a solid desk will go a long way in making your work more enjoyable and physically comfortable. A standing desk gives you the option to sit or stand, allowing you to take some of the pressure off your back throughout the day. While they aren’t cheap, they are a worthwhile investment for anyone who plans on working from home and needs a dedicated, flexible workspace.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

3. Standing Mat

A black standing mat for standing desksIf you have a standing desk, make sure you get a padded mat to stand on as well. This will keep your feet from getting sore and help with your posture. A basic piece of carpet will help if you’re on a budget, though a proper padded mat will work wonders for your back and feet.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

4. Laptop Stand

A small laptop standRegardless of what kind of desk you’re working on, consider purchasing a laptop stand if you’re using a laptop every day for work. This will reduce neck pain and strain and help improve your posture, since you’ll be looking straight ahead instead of downward toward your laptop. They’re super affordable and make a huge difference in how your work impacts your body. I can’t recommend them enough!

Buy now on Amazon!
 

5. External Keyboard & Mouse

A wireless mouse and Apple keyboardWorking on a laptop keyboard and trackpad can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Not only that but it’s just not a comfortable setup for an optimized workflow. Instead, invest in a Bluetooth keyboard and wireless mouse. They will improve your workflow and keep your wrists and hands from getting repetitive strain injuries.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

6. Noise-Canceling Headphones

Bose QC35 headphonesFrom screaming kids to barking dogs to traffic outside, there are a lot of distractions at home that can derail your productivity. To help you stay on track (and stay sane), invest in a good pair of headphones. Wireless Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones are widely popular from my go-to brand. They are comfortable and rechargeable, and do an amazing job at removing background noise. (If you’re on a budget, consider the QuietComfort 25 instead.)

Buy now on Amazon!
 

7. Laptop Bed Tray

A laptop bed/couch trayShould you be working (or watching Netflix) in bed? Probably not. Will it happen anyway? Probably. Make life easy on yourself and purchase a basic laptop tray you can use when in bed or on the couch. While not 100% necessary, it’s one of those bonus items that just make life easier whenever you feel like using your laptop outside of your office.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

8. External Monitor

An ACER external monitorWhile we’re all used to the smaller screens of a laptop, sometimes having a larger screen can help — especially if you’re working on your computer day in and day out. An external monitor can hook up to your laptop and give you a larger screen to work with, helping both your vision and your posture in the process (it’s also much more enjoyable for watching Netflix). A 27″ monitor offers you twice as much space as your standard laptop without breaking the bank.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

9. MacBook Pro

A brand new MacBook Pro from AppleIf you need a new laptop to work from home, the new MacBook Pro is faster than ever. Apple’s new M1 chip has really kicked their laptops up a notch. While I like the MacBook Air better for travel (it’s lighter and does everything I need), the new Pro is also super light and powerful. It’s a reliable choice for anyone looking for a new laptop for the home office.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

10. External Hard Drive

A black external hard driveNothing is more devastating for those who work online than losing your data. While I also keep a digital backup of my files in the cloud, having a physical backup of your hard drive is a no-brainer. After all, you’re just one spilled cup of coffee away from losing everything! Buy an external hard drive and get into the habit of backing up your device every week. That way, if something happens to your laptop, you won’t have to start from scratch.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

11. 3-in-1 Charging Station

An Apple 3-in-1 charging stationThis charging station has room to charge a phone, AirPods, and a smartwatch all at the same time. If you’re a die-hard Apple fan and have all the accessories, this charging station is a must, lest you constantly struggle for space to charge your devices. If you don’t need a 3-in-1 charging station, this regular wireless phone charger will do the trick.

Buy now on Amazon!

12. LED Light with Charging Port

A LED lamp with a USB charging portSince you’ll need a light for your desk, you might as well get a light with a built-in USB charger. That way you can charge your phone, Kindle, external battery, or any other accessory easily without having to give up a coveted electrical outlet!

Buy now on Amazon!
 

13. Ring Light

A ring light on a tall tripodIf you’re going to be doing a lot of social media videos or Zoom calls, consider investing in a basic ring light. This will ensure that your videos and calls are properly lit, which goes a long way toward improving your video production quality (especially on social media). It’s one of those extra touches that people notice and that set you apart from the competition.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

14. Blue-Light Glasses

Three pairs of blue light glassesOver the past year, I’ve seen tons of ads for blue-light glasses. They claim to help prevent eyestrain when staring at a computer screen day in and day out. While the science is still out, our Community Manager Chris bought a pair earlier this year after dealing with eye strain, and they’ve helped him immensely. You can find pairs for as little as $25, making them worth checking out if your eyes are extra tired, dry, and/or strained.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

15. VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A cool home office for a remote workerWhile many of us use VPNs (virtual private networks) to protect our data while we’re abroad, most of us don’t use them at home — even though we should. Keep your data safe and your browsing habits private by using a VPN. You wouldn’t leave your house or car unlocked all day, so why would you leave your digital doors open? Stay safe by using a VPN.

Buy now from TunnelBear!
 

16. Meditation Mat & Cushion

A comfortable meditation mat and cushionMake sure you step away from the laptop regularly to rest your brain and your body by purchasing a meditation cushion and mat. Just 10 minutes of sitting a day will work wonders for your state of mind, help you stay refreshed, and lower your stress. Keep them beside your desk so you’re more inclined to use them regularly. Also, download a free meditation timer like Zenso, so you can time your meditation breaks.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

17. Yoga Mat

A pink yoga mat rolled upAnother helpful tool for stepping away from the laptop and getting your blood flowing is a yoga mat. There are tons of free yoga videos on YouTube for both short and long sessions, making this an easy and affordable way to add more movement into your day. Whether you want to build muscle, burn fat, reduce stress, or improve your flexibility, there’s a free yoga or workout tutorial for you!

Buy now on Amazon!
 

18. Art & Maps

A colorful travel scratch mapWhile I’m not much of an interior decorator, I do appreciate the effect art, photography, and (especially) maps have on an office space. Most photographers sell prints of their work, and you can find all kinds of cool custom maps and works of art on sites like Etsy. Spend some time browsing for pictures, art, and maps to brighten up your space. It will make all the difference.

Here are some suggested maps and prints to check out:

 

19. Notebook/Travel Planner

The Exploration Journal from Crabtree & Evelyn If you’re a regular traveler and want a notebook that isn’t just blank pages (like my boring Moleskine) but rather has space for itinerary planning, places to jot notes in the local language, a packing list, and much more (including a map you can fill in as you travel), get an Exploration Journal. They are designed specifically with travelers in mind, so you can take notes and write down stories and reflections during your travels.

Buy now from Crabtree & Evelyn!
 

20. Reusable Water Bottle

lifestraw water filterSince you can’t just drink endless amounts of coffee all day (or, in my case, tea), get a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. Dehydration will make you groggy and tired, so treat yourself a LifeStraw. They have built-in filters to ensure your water is clean and safe.

Buy now from LifeStraw!
 

21. Dry-Erase Wall Calendar

A white wall calendar with dry erase markersFor anyone looking to stay organized, a dry-erase calendar is a must. They’re perfect for keeping track important meetings and appointments and give you a quick overview of your entire month at a glance. If you struggle with procrastination or time management, definitely add a calendar to your wish list.

Buy now on Amazon!

***

Working from home is only going to grow in the years to come. These items will help you create a comfortable and functional workspace, build better habits, stay healthy, and ensure you’re always doing your best work. Since it looks like it will be many more months before people go back to the office, now is the time to finally take the leap with some of these items if you haven’t already!

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

Need to book your trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. The are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post Work from Home Gift Guide: 21 Amazing Gifts for Remote Workers appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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