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7 Common Travel Myths That are WRONG

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A solo backpacker standing on a cliff looking at the scenery
Updated: 05/18/20 | May 18th, 2020 (Original post 3/9/15)

Years ago, the website Earth Porm reposted my article “The Ultimate Guide to Traveling When You’re Broke.”

Not long after, social media maven and actor George Takei shared the post with his millions of Facebook fans (as a huge Star Trek geek and sci-fi nerd, I did jump up and down a bit with joy).

As I went through the comments on George’s Facebook post, I was dismayed bt the mean and dismissive comments people shared as well their misconceptions about travel.

These comments made me realize that, despite all the detailed websites and books on how to make travel affordable and accessible, too many people still believe the notion that travel is expensive, unsafe, and impossible unless you are rich.

Too many say, “I can’t. It’s impossible” and become cynical about travel.

The notion that travel is expensive couldn’t be further from the truth (I wrote an entire book proving that very point)

In fact, it’s never been easier or cheaper to travel on a budget.

Yet people still have all kinds of misconceptions about budget travel and staying safe abroad.

To help combat the misinformation out there, I want to debunk 7 of the most common travel myths I’ve encountered over the years.
 

Myth #1: Travel is Expensive

Nomadic backpacking hiker standing at the top of a mountain excited
Everything costs some money — and that includes travel. But the idea that travel is only about fancy tours, beach-side resorts, and luxurious villas is outdated. Traditionally, subtle marketing language made everyone believe that “a fun vacation is an expensive vacation.”

After decades of being bombarded by those insidious ad campaigns, our collective consciousness still equates travel with luxury. Heck, I used to believe this too.

But he fact of the matter is you don’t need a trust fund or a high-paying job to have an amazing trip.

You’ll need to learn how to plan a trip.

You’ll need to save money.

But you don’t need to be rich to travel. You just need to be creative and have the right priorities.

And it can even be done on minimum wage. Sure, it may take longer to save for your trip, and you may need to make sacrifices, but if you want to travel — whether for two weeks or two years — you can find a way to make it happen.

Here are some starting points that can help you lower your costs and travel on a budget:

 

Myth #2: Travel Credit Cards Will Ruin Your Credit Score

Lots and lots of credit cards in a pile
I can’t count the number of free flights and hotel stays I’ve had over the years. By collecting points and miles, I’ve been able to travel for a fraction of the price it would have cost otherwise, opening up tons of possibilities for budget travel.

You can do this too.

Travel hacking is the art of using travel credit cards to collect points and miles that can be then turned into free travel — all by using your regular spending. No extra purchases. No jumping through loopholes. Just earning free travel by putting your date nights, groceries, gas, and other regular expenses on a travel card.

While applying for credit cards will cause a temporary dip in your credit score, that dip gets corrected within two months if you keep paying off your bills. Unless you’re looking to make a huge purchase (like buying a house) in the near future, that minor dip will not affect you. Just space out the applications (if you’re applying for multiple cards) and you won’t see a sustained negative impact on your credit score.

I have over a dozen credit cards (though I only actively use three) and a credit score of 797 out of 850. As long as you pay your card off each month, you don’t need to worry.

I mean what’s the point of building up a credit score if you don’t use it?

Here are some additional resources on credit cards and ravel hacking to help you get started:

 

Myth #3: Couchsurfing is Unsafe

Young woman sleeping on a couch, couchsurfing around the world
Couchsurfing is a sharing economy app that facilitates cultural exchange. Locals offer a free space in their home (sometimes just a couch) which travelers can use to then visit the city and learn about about the destination.

While staying in a stranger’s house might not be for everyone, it’s nevertheless a safe and fun way to travel (not to mention an affordable one). Much like Airbnb, Couchsurfing hosts have reviews and profiles you can read to make sure you’re staying with someone you feel you’d get along with. It’s really not much different than Airbnb (except it’s free!).

Of course, if you’re not ready to stay with a stranger you can also use to app to meet people for activities instead, such as a meal, coffee, or a museum visit. It’s a great way to benefit from the app without having to stay with someone.

As long as you use common sense, read reviews, and trust your gut, you’ll be able to use the app safely while saving money and having fun. There are families who host people, solo female hosts who only host women, as well as expats looking to connect with fellow foreigners.

Both the team and I have used the site dozens and dozens of times. It’s a vibrant community and one that’s completely safe. Because, contrary to what the news and media like to report, not everyone out there is a secret murderer looking for their next victim. Most people are good, kind people just looking to make friends and learn new things. Don’t let fear limit your opportunities.
 

Myth #4: Hitchhiking Will Get You Killed

Funny hitchhiking sign from the USA
Hitchhiking is a relatively common way to travel in many countries around the world. It was also a common (and safe) way to travel the US and Canada for a long while too.

The idea that hitchhiking is dangerous dates back to the 1950s when the FBI lead a scare campaign to get people to stop the practice, in part because civil rights activists were hitchhiking to rallies. The FBI’s campaign permanently embedded in the mind of people that hitchhiking is dangerous by claiming that most hitchhikers were murderers.

Combined with a narrative pushed by the media that the world is unsafe, hitchhiking continues to be perceived as a dangerous activity — even if it’s not.

My friend hitchhiked solo around the US.

Kristin from Be My Travel Muse hitchhiked around China

I’ve hitchhiked in Europe, the Caribbean, and Central America and met wonderful, interesting people in the process.

Hitchhiking, like Couchsurfing, is about using common sense. Make a note of license plates, have a phone in case of an emergency, and travel with a friend if you’re not comfortable going solo. And remember, you don’t have to get into any car that stops. Use your judgment and follow your instincts and you’ll be able to meet lots of interesting people while still staying safe.
 

Myth #5: Travel is Dangerous for Women

Female nomadic traveling the world alone
While both men and women face risks on the road, women often encounter additional hazards that require caution and awareness. But that doesn’t mean women need to stay home or only go to super-safe destinations.

The “if it bleeds, it leads” approach to reporting over the years has highlighted only the negative stories of female travelers. This style of reporting bolsters the perceptions that the world is so scary that solo female travel is very, very unsafe and should be avoided.

Fortunately, that’s not true at all. You have a higher chance of getting hit by a bus than you do of ending up like in the movie Taken.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s an excerpt from a post on women’s safety:

If I look back on the times when people have told me “Don’t go there!” or “You might die!” it’s mostly advice from people who have never been to those places and have never done any research on them. The press is hugely influential. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read international press coverage that is flat-out wrong. You need to find trustworthy sources and advice from people who know what they’re talking about. I once mentioned to my parents that I had plans to go to Rwanda. My concerned father told me, “You’re not going.” He was obviously worried about Rwanda’s tumultuous past. Had he done his research, he would have known that Rwanda is the safest country in East Africa. Once he researched it, I never heard another word about it. The crime rates in your backyard can be just as bad as the destination you’re headed to, if not worse.

These days, there are tons of powerful, independent female creators traveling to all corners of the world — including off-the-beaten-path countries. Heck, many of them are more adventurous than I am!

You can check out their blogs for inspiration and proof women can travel alone:

 

Myth 6: Budget Travel is Only Possible If You are Young and Single

Family traveling the world together and posing in front of mountains
Too many people believe travel is something you can do only if you’re young or single. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I understand that when you are older, you may want more luxury than a budget backpacker. And I know that family travel requires more planning than solo travel. But travel is not solely the purview of the young.

At the end of the day, age doesn’t matter. I’ve seen families and seniors backpacking around the world, staying in hostels, or driving RVs.

You don’t need to be limited by age or your relationship status. Here are some articles that prove both families and seniors can travel on a budget:

 

Myth #7: You Can’t Work Overseas.

Working on a yacht while traveling
We often think of working abroad as an challenging process not worth the effort. It’s something that requires interviews, visas, and a polished résumé.

For the kind of jobs that you’ll get as a traveler, that’s not true.

If you want to work and are flexible about what you’re willing to do, you can find employment almost anywhere. You can get a working holiday in countries like Australia or New Zealand, become an au pair, teach English, or even volunteer in exchange for room and board.

Sure, you might not get a fancy or well-paying job. But if your priority is travel then what does that matter?

Farms, schools, bars, restaurants, cafes, and the tourism industry are almost always looking for staff — especially in areas with a seasonal influx of tourists. You won’t get rich, but you will get to see the world.

If you want to learn more about your options, here are some blog posts to get you started:

***

These travel myths come from years of being indoctrinated with the belief that travel has to be expensive and the world is scary.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

With a little research, you’ll discover that traveling the world is much safer — and much more affordable — than most people think.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post 7 Common Travel Myths That are WRONG appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The 18 Best Things to See and Do in Helsinki

Posted By : webmaster/ 58 0


The historic skyline of Helsinki, Finland
Posted: 05/14/20 | May 14th, 2020

As I landed in Helsinki, I didn’t really know what to expect. Out of all the capital cities in the area, Helsinki gets the least “buzz.” And, while small and not as “cool” as Stockholm or Copenhagen, Helsinki is a hip, modern capital home to a vibrant art and music scene. It’s bursting with museums, cafes, and green space.

I really enjoyed my time here. It’s a very relaxed place to visit.

And, best of all, it sees a fraction of the tourists that cities in the area do too!

Helsinki is a lot cooler than you imagine it to be and it’s a wonderful place for art lovers (Finns are really into the arts). To help you make the most of your visit, here of all the best things to do and see there (at least, according to me):
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

Busy streets of downtown Helsinki, Finland
One of the best things to do when you arrive in a new destination is to take a free walking tour. You’ll get to see the main sights, learn about the history and culture, and have a local expert available to answer all your questions. It’s the first thing I do when I arrive in a new city.

Walking Tours Helsinki offers a free 1.5-2 hour tour that acts as a solid introduction to the city. Just be sure to tip your guides!
 

2. Visit the Post Museum

A museum about the postal service sounds absolutely boring but I found it surprisingly interesting. The museum highlights the history of the mail service in Finland, from ships and sleds in the 1600s to the modern-day service. There are tons of relics, galleries, and short films about how they made mail delivery work in such a sparsely populated and harsh environment.

It does an excellent job taking a boring subject and making it fun, accessible, and educational.

Alaverstaanraitti 5, +358 03 5656 6966, postimuseo.fi. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-6pm. Admission is 13 EUR for adults and 6 EUR for children.
 

3. Relax in Sinebrychoff Park

The green grass and trees of the spacious Sinebrychoff Park in Helsinki, Finland
This small city park used to be the private garden of a Russian businessman. Today, it’s a popular spot for picnics, relaxing, events, and sledding in the winter. There are lots of cafes nearby so grab a snack and come here to lounge and watch the day go by. It’s super popular with the locals in the summer.
 

4. Explore the National Museum of Finland

As a history buff, I always appreciate a good museum. I’ve been to more than my fair share of disappointing and under-funded museums over the years. Fortunately, this was not one of them.

Opened in 1916, the museum covers the history of Finland from the Stone Age to the present. It has a large collection of artifacts, provides lots of detail and creates a chronological narrative, and offers decent descriptions so you always know what you are looking at. For a small capital city, it’s a very, very impressive museum. Don’t miss it!

Mannerheimintie 34, +358 29 5336000, kansallismuseo.fi/en/kansallismuseo. Open daily from 11am-6pm (closed Mondays in the winter). Admission is 14 EUR.
 

5. Wander the Suomenlinna Fortress

The Suomenlinna fortress in Helsinki, Finland
Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage site constructed by Sweden in 1748 on an island just off the coast. Originally named “Sveaborg” (Castle of the Swedes), it was built as a deterrent against Russian expansionism. Eventually, it was renamed to “Suomenlinna” (Castle of Finland) in 1918 when the country gained independence. A visit here is a relaxing way to spend half a day as you can explore the fort, wander the island, or chill in one of the many parks.

There are also a lot of interesting buildings here (including six different museums) and some out-of-the-way beaches.

Admission to the fort is free, though each of the museums has its own admission fee.
 

6. Visit the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art

The exterior of the Kiasma Museum in Helsinki, Finland
I’m not a fan of contemporary art. However, if you are, then be sure to visit. This museum opened in 1990 and is housed in a really unique modern building not far from the Post Museum. The collection consists of over 8,000 works (though I personally don’t recognize any of the names). Part of the Finnish National Gallery, Kiasma is Finnish for “chiasma” which is a term that describes the crossing of nerves or tendons.

Mannerheiminaukio 2, +358 29 450 0501, kiasma.fi/en. Open Tuesday from 10am-6pm, Wednesday-Friday from 10am-8:30pm, Saturdays from 10am-6pm, and Sundays from 10am-5pm. Admission is 15 EUR for adults and 13 EUR for students and seniors. For children under 18, admission is free. Admission is also free on the first Friday of the month.
 

7. See the Finnish Museum of Photography

This museum houses an awesome collection of photography from both Finnish and international artists. There are rotating exhibits as well as exhibits by new and emerging photographers. There’s always something interesting here so check the website to see what’s on display during your visit.

Tallberginkatu 1, +358 9 68663610, valokuvataiteenmuseo.fi. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 11am-6pm (8pm on Wednesdays). Admission is 10 EUR for adults and free for anyone under 18.
 

8. Marvel at the Helsinki Cathedral

The famous Helsinki Cathedral towering over the city in Helsinki, Finland
This cathedral was built in the 19th century as a tribute to Czar Nicholas I. Located next to the Bank Museum, it towers over the city and is one of the most recognizable facets of the capital’s skyline. If you’ve visited a lot of cathedrals won’t likely walk away thinking this is one of the greatest cathedrals in Europe, but I think it’s one of the best in Scandinavia.

Unioninkatu 29, +358 9 23406120, helsinginseurakunnat.fi. Open daily from 9am-6pm. Admission is free.
 


 

9. Stroll Around the Central Market

For souvenir shopping, tasty local food, fresh produce (including lots of berries in the summer), and great people-watching be sure to head to the Central Market. It’s located near the harbor, which sits on the coast of the Baltic Sea. In October, the herring market begins which is a huge local event. The market has heated tents when it gets cold and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes around making it a fun place to visit any time of the year. While it is often swarming with tourists, I heard enough Finnish to know it isn’t a complete tourist trap.

Open daily from 8am-5pm. Admission is free.
 

10. Explore the Sinebrychoff Art Museum

The exterior of the Sinebryhoff Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland
This is the only museum in the city that focuses on older European paintings and portraits (from the 14th-19th centuries). Housed in a building built in 1842, there are around 4,000 items in the collection. Not only are there some incredible and historic works here but part of the museum is composed of the Sinebrychoff residence itself. You can walk through the old Sinebrychoff estate and see what life was like for the affluent in Helsinki in the 19th century.

Bulevardi 40, +358 29 4500460, sinebrychoffintaidemuseo.fi. Open Tuesday-Friday from 11am-6pm (8pm on Wednesdays) and 10am-5pm on weekends. Admission is 15 EUR and free for kids under 18.
 

11. Visit the Bank of Finland Museum

Admittedly, a bank museum sounds even more boring than a post museum but this museum was one of the coolest museums I’ve seen in a long time. First and foremost, it paints a clear and insightful picture of the history of money in Finland. They also host rotating exhibitions on all sorts of related topics (such as counterfeit money). But what I found the museum really did well was to explain the history of modern finance. It makes the topic so clear and concise that I really learned a lot during my visit.

Snellmaninkatu 2, +358 9 1832981, rahamuseo.fi/en.Open Tuesday-Friday from 11am-5pm (12pm-5pm on Wednesdays) and 11am-4pm on the weekend. Admission is free.
 

12. Relax in Esplanade Park

This park, known as Espa to the locals, is a popular place to spend an afternoon when the weather is nice. In the warmer summer months, there are street musicians and performers around as well as lots of green space and benches for anyone looking to lounge with a book or a picnic. Opened in 1818, the park also has some walking and jogging trails too. It’s just a nice place to relax and soak in the city.
 

13. See Uspenski Cathedral

The towering Uspenski Church on a summer day in Helsinki, Finland
This large red cathedral is hard to miss. It’s an Eastern Orthodox church with large domes and gold crosses and definitely has a very Russian feel to it. Consecrated in 1868, it’s actually the largest Eastern Orthodox church in all of Western Europe. The interior is lavishly decorated too, with a large vaulted ceiling and lots of Eastern Orthodox icons (though some of the most famous icons have actually been stolen in recent years).

Kanavakatu 1, +358 9 85646100. Open Tuesday-Friday from 9:30am-7pm, Saturday from 10am-3pm, and Sunday from 12pm-3pm. Closed during ceremonies. Admission is free.
 

14. Take a Food Tour

If you’re a foodie like me, you have to take a food tour. They’re the best way to sample the local delicacies. From fresh fish to craft beer to Finnish porridge, you’ll be able to sample many traditional foods. Heather’s Helsinki offers a tasty tour of the city that lasts 4-5 hours and includes 9 different stops around the city for just 85 EUR per person.
 

15. Visit the Helsinki City Museum

Opened in 1911, this is an excellent city museum with plenty of descriptions and top-notch exhibits and photos. It’s actually the third-best city museum I’ve come across in Europe (after the Amsterdam and Barcelona museums). Do not miss it. You’ll learn a lot about the city and learn about how it has changed and evolved over the centuries.

Aleksanterinkatu 16, +358 9 31036630, helsinginkaupunginmuseo.fi. Open weekdays from 11am-5pm and weekends from 11am-5pm. Admission is free.
 

16. Chill out in Kaivopuisto Park

This huge park is tucked away in the southeast corner of Helsinki. During the winter, tobogganing is popular here. Lots of events held here as well, such as Vappu Day (May 1st) celebrations. The park overflows with thousands of locals who come to picnic, listen to music, and drink away the day. Since it’s so out of the way, you hardly ever see tourists here.
 

17. Hit the Sauna

You can’t visit Finland without going to a sauna. The word itself is Finnish and there are over 3 million in the country (which is a lot since there are only 5.5 million people in Finland). There are plenty of public saunas in Helsinki, most of which ost around 10 EUR and have separate sections for men and women. You can usually rent towels as well, and while going nude is the traditional method there’s no shame in wearing a towel either.

Some of the best saunas in the city are:

 

18. Explore Seurasaari Island

An old wooden house on Seurasaari Island in Helsinki, Finland
This island just north of the city is home to an open-air museum featuring traditional style Finnish buildings. Guided tours are offered daily in the summer and will take you around the buildings and shed light on how Finns lived from the 17th-19th centuries. The museum, which opened in 1909, collected the buildings from all around the country so you aren’t seeing replicas here.

Meilahti, +358 295 33 6912, kansallismuseo.fi/en/seurasaarenulkomuseo. Open from May-September. Check website for specific hours. Admission 8 EUR in May and October and 10 EUR from June-August.

***

Helsinki is a city that deserves more praise than it gets. Fortunately for you, since it often overlooked, you’ll be able to visit without dealing with the crowds that so many other European capitals are plagued with.

 

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 Helsinki: 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. My favorite places to stay in Helsinki are:

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

Photo credit: 3 – Mahlum, 5 – Tomi Lattu, 7 – Finnish National Gallery, 8 – Antonio Caiazzo, 10 – Olga1969

The post The 18 Best Things to See and Do in Helsinki appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to (Virtually) Travel the World

Posted By : webmaster/ 55 0


A round globe in the foreground of a photo
Posted: 5/11/20 | May 11th, 2020

With the world on hold for the foreseeable, it’s going to be a long time before we get back on the road. Even as we begin to look to the summer, it’s likely that many destinations will keep their doors shut to international travelers until the fall.

But that doesn’t mean we have to put our wanderlust on hold.

With the world at our virtual fingertips, there are plenty of ways to feed your inner traveler from the comfort of your bed.

Many destinations and museums now let you “visit them” virtually. And there are also plenty of amazing books you can read, interesting films and TV shows you can watch, and fun meetups and classes to join.

In short, you can still see the world from home. Here’s a list of ways you can travel virtually and keep your wanderlust spirit alive:
 

Books

a room full to the brim with books
Reading is one of the best and most budget-friendly ways to “travel” when you’re stuck indoors. You can transport yourself to far-flung destinations and get inspired by the power of words — all from the comfort (and safety) of home.

Some great recent reads: The Yellow Envelope, Wanderlust, Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, and An Irreverent Curiosity.

Here are a plethora of articles with more books:

Additionally, if you want some monthly suggestions, check out our monthly book club. Each month you’ll get 3-5 books sent right to your inbox!
 

Movies

A person sitting on a couch watching Netflix
There are many amazing films to choose online right now. I mean between Hulu, HBO, Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+, you can get anything you want. (Netflix has been especially on fire this month.) Some of my favorites:

  • Wild – Based on the novel of the same name, this movie follows Cheryl Strayed as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail as a way to restart her life, end her drug addiction, and cope with her mother’s death.
  • Midnight in Paris – I pretty much love every movie about Paris, but this is one of my all-time favorites. The movie follows Gil, a writer on vacation with his fiancée and her family. At night, he wanders the streets of Paris before stumbling into a time warp that sends him back to the 1920s.
  • The Beach – Staring a young Leonardo DiCaprio, this movie is about young backpackers who set out to find paradise while in Thailand.
  • Lost in Translation – This film takes you into the heart of chaotic Tokyo. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play two characters adrift in the the city together.
  • Into the Wild – Based on a true story, this movie follows Christopher McCandless as he sheds his material life in search of something more.
  • A Map for Saturday – This documentary is the best film about long-term travel.

For more suggestions, here is the complete list of my favorite travel movies and another post on LGBT Travel Movies and one on Africa-related films.

 

TV Shows

A person watching TV from their couch
Looking for some binge-worthy TV? Here are a few suggestions to keep your wanderlust satiated from the comfort of your own couch:

  • An Idiot Abroad – Comedian Ricky Gervais sends his clueless, culturally insensitive friend on hilarious (and often insightful) misadventures.
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – In one of the best travel shows ever made, the late Anthony Bourdain sheds light on new places and cultures as he eats his way around the world.
  • Long Way Round – Actor Ewan McGregor and his best friend travel across the entire world on motorcycles in this epic miniseries (and in Long Way Down they travel from Scotland to South Africa — again, on motorcycles).
  • Departures – Award-winning series chronicling two friends traveling the world together.
  • Dark Tourist – Journalist David Farrier visits some of the world’s weirdest, scariest, and most tragic places.
  • The Amazing Race – A reality TV show in which contestants race around the world for cash prizes (there are over 30 seasons, so it’s great for bingeing!).
  • Big City, Little Budget – My friend Oneika Raymond hosts this show, in which she shares budget tips and hidden gems so you can experience the best of big cities without breaking the bank.
  • Somebody Feed Phil – Phil Rosenthal, the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, travels the world on a comedic culinary journey.

 

Virtual Meetups

The Zoom video conference call app downloading on a smartphone
Since we can’t meet in person right now, we’ve been hosting our own through The Nomadic Network. Every week, we have meetups where we share stories, host guest speakers, and play games. We do about 2-3 a week.

Here are this week’s events:

For future events, click to see what’s coming!
 

Virtual Tours (Museums, Galleries, Historical Sites, etc)

A sphinx statue in the Louvre museum, Paris
It seems every destination or museum is now offering some virtual tour. I’m all for it. While it’s not the same as being there in person, it’s still an enjoyable way to pass the time, get inspired, and learn about the world. Here are some of my favorites:

Free Tours by Foot is also offer a handful of tours from around the globe. They have walking tours, historical videos, and much more. Check out their YouTube page for a comprehensive list!
 

Online Classes

The Masterclass homepage
With so many people home, online courses are seeing a huge surge in activity. In fact, I myself have finally been able to get around to taking some of the courses I’ve bought ages ago. If you’re looking to jump into a new online course, here are a few worth checking out:

  • MasterClass – This program is one of my favorites. I watch a ton of masterclasses. They are mini-courses with some of the most famous and successful people in the world, such as Margaret Atwood, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Martin Scorsese, Gordon Ramsay, Malcolm Gladwell, Alice Waters, Serena Williams, and many others.
  • Superstar Blogging – If you’re looking to start a blog or break into the freelance writing industry, we offer two courses that can help. You’ll get free tech support, weekly calls, and feedback and copyedits on your writing.
  • Udemy – Udemy is an online marketplace with over 100,000 online video courses. You can find courses on pretty much anything here!
  • Skillshare – A project-based marketplace for online courses. Like Udemy, there is lots of variety here.
  • Massimo Bottura’s Kitchen Quarantine – World-class Italian chef Massimo Bottura cooks up a storm in his home kitchen.
  • Pasta-Making Class (with Italian Chefs) from Take Walks – My favorite tour company, Take Walks, shows you how to make delicious pasta at home.
  • Seamus Mullen’s Quarantine Kitchen – Check out Seamus’s daily show for tips on clean and healthy eating.
  • José Andrés’ #RecipesforthePeople – Chef José Andrés is helping the world relearn simple, delicious recipes on his Twitter feed.

***

Learn something new. Or meet some new friends in a virtual meetup. Or just chill out and eat snacks and watch some movies.

We’ll be back on the road again.

But, until we can, at least we can travel the world through our computer.

P.S. – We’ve launched a new Patreon where you can get untold stories, photos, weekly Q&As, and free books. It’s our new member platform. So, if you want more of the content we have here, click here to check it out and get access. Your support helps keep this website going while giving you perks and content exclusive to Patrons!

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post How to (Virtually) Travel the World appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Meet the Team: The Many Faces of Nomadic Matt

Posted By : webmaster/ 67 0


Nomadic Matt's team
Posted: 4/30/2020

It takes a village to keep this website going. From tech and coding to design to fixing bugs getting readers books when downloads fail to scheduling social media or running the forums, I have a lot of help. I simply couldn’t run the website, write, travel, eat, sleep, or anything in between if I didn’t have the support and help of an amazing group of people.

It’s not just me writing and posting about my travels. I have a big group of full-time staff helping juggle everything.

I’ve realized a lot of you don’t know that so, today, I want to introduce the team to you.

So, without further ado, here they are:
 

Erica

Nomadic Matt's boss
Erica has been working for me for almost six and a half years and is the events director of The Nomadic Network, our travel community. She keeps this community thriving. In her own words:

I grew up in Connecticut and went to school in Virginia. During a quarter-life crisis at age 21, I chose to finish my last year of college on an adventure in Qatar! From that moment on, my life revolved around traveling cheaply with the money I earned from waitressing. That budget got me to teach English in Isaan, Thailand, and South Korea; farm on St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and Costa Rica; and volunteer in rural Zambia. At age 26, I returned home to Connecticut, determined to get a job in travel. Soon after, I met Nomadic Matt at a travel meet-up in NYC, and the rest is history.

I whole-heartedly believe that traveling makes friends of strangers, and the more friends there are in the world, the more peace there is in the world.

13 Facts about Me

  1. At 15, I helped build a schoolhouse in Nicaragua.
  2. 1. I cooked an American Thanksgiving feast for my Thai co-English teachers in Thailand where barely any of the mashed potatoes, carrots and peas were eaten so my host-grandmother fed in to the monks for the following week unbeknownst to me.
  3. I’ve cut off my hair and donated it to Locks of Love, twice!
  4. I once hunted for possums on the island of St. Vincent with a bunch of Rastafarians. We caught four and made soup. I was a vegetarian at the time.
  5. In Costa Rica, I stayed at in a sustainable living community called Rancho Mastatal, where I learned how to farm yuca, make beer out of turmeric, and build a house out of cob.
  6. I spent 11 days on a coconut water only fast at a yoga retreat in Cambodia, twice
  7. I taught English in South Korea for 14 months and was able to easily save enough money for 21 months of non-stop travel. I also taught the students how to use “boo” colloquially.
  8. This music video I made used to be one of the top hits when you searched for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  9. In Zambia, my friend and I were given a live chicken as a present. We were vegetarians, so we traded it for a pair of second-hand jeans in the town’s market.
  10. I got 19 people (the students and teachers on a FLYTE trip) into an airport lounge in Ecuador for free. I think that’s a travel hacking record!
  11. My college education was entirely free. How? I got a ton of tiny scholarships (I applied for everyone I could get my hands on) that added up, being a Residential Assistant in the dorms, and studying in Qatar actually saved me money (in the most expensive country in the world).
  12. In Korea, I dated a guy who spoke no English and we basically communicated through drawing pictures and reciting American rap lyrics.
  13. Last summer, I took a trip to Tunisia with some friends. I wish I could have stayed longer – what a cool country!

 

Chris O.

Nomadic Matt's community manager
Chris joined the team as the part-time manager of the forums back in 2015. Since then, he’s transitioned to full-time and has branched out into the Superstar Blogging program and helps me with all of our various admin tasks. In his own words:

I grew up in a small town in Ontario, Canada, and spent my formative years listening to punk rock, reading Star Wars novels, and generally getting up to no good. After ditching my lifelong plan to be a lawyer, I decided to give travel a try. I headed to Costa Rica on a whim and have never looked back! It wasn’t long after that trip that I took a break from university (where I was studying history and theatre) to move to a monastery in Japan in 2007. I’ve more or less been wandering around ever since. Some notable adventures include taking the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia and Mongolia, walking the Camino de Santiago twice, and going on a 10-day road trip around Iceland with complete strangers.

When I’m not traveling, I live in Sweden and can be found reading, writing, or hanging out with my rescue dog, Grimo.

13 Facts about Me

  1. I spent nine months living in Buddhist monasteries.
  2. I lived in a tent for a year.
  3. I was once stalked by a jaguar and chased by a crocodile — on the same trip.
  4. I haven’t had alcohol in 16 years.
  5. I’ve broken all my fingers and toes, and my nose three times, and I’ve fractured both my wrists.
  6. I worked on an organic farm for 11 years.
  7. I co-owned a restaurant in Canada.
  8. I grew up next door to Avril Lavigne.
  9. I wrote a book (and am working on another one)
  10. I played inter-mural Quidditch in high school and was our team’s Seeker.
  11. I have a Star Wars tattoo.
  12. I’ve been vegan for 15 years.
  13. I have a scar from a fight that broke out over which Norse god was “the best.”

 

Chris R.

Nomadic Matt's tech guy
Chris, aka The Aussie Nomad, is a (kinda) former blogger who does all the tech and development work for the website. He keeps it running, fixes any errors you find, and deals with my constantly changing design desires. In his own words:

I’m living the good life in Western Australia by the beach with my amazing family. I got into the world of blogging after quitting my job, backpacking around Europe and, as all Aussies do, undertaking a working holiday in the UK. Like all of us who travel and fall in love with it, nobody wants to go home afterwards.

That adventure got me into creating a travel blog many years ago, which is how I first came to know Matt. I have since repurposed my IT skills from my old life and formed my own business to help out other bloggers with their websites.

13 Facts about Me

  1. I love Belgian beer (and I even married a Belgian).
  2. I’ve worked with Matt the longest out of anyone here. (Take that team!)
  3. I took off to backpack Europe when I was 29.
  4. I’m an advocate for Vegemite and believe all visitors to Australia must try this national treasure.
  5. One of my favorite activities is to take a long road trip, especially with family and friends.
  6. I have no idea how four-way stop signals in the U.S.A. don’t all end up as accidents.
  7. I do not drink Fosters. It’s a terrible beer. No one in Australia actually drinks it.
  8. I like to think of myself as an amateur photographer.
  9. I failed kindergarten as I wouldn’t say goodbye to the teacher.
  10. My first job was working in a supermarket.
  11. I can’t sleep on a plane – no matter how long the flight is.
  12. I can name every Thomas the Tank Engine character thanks to my son.
  13. I don’t drink coffee or get people’s love for it. Tea all the way!

 

Raimee

Nomadic Matt's social media manager
Raimee does all of our social media and content marketing. She schedules posts, tweaks my terrible photos so they look good on Instagram, builds out our content calendar, analyzes data, edits video, creates digital marketing campaigns, and designs our social media graphics! In her own words:

When I was just 14 years old, I took my first international trip to Honduras and Belize with my family. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on experiencing new cultures, connecting with people from all walks of life, and learning about myself and the world through the power of travel! After graduating with a degree in advertising and marketing from Michigan State University and four years as a digital marketing specialist, I realized that corporate life was not for me. My insatiable need to experience the world beyond a desk led me to search for a job-related to travel. I’ve followed this blog for many years, and now I get to work for it remotely while I strategize, manage, and report on the social media accounts — and I love every second of it!

13 Facts about Me

  1. I’m obsessed with Harry Potter. I’ve read each book at least 10 times. If I told you how many times I’ve watched the movies, you probably wouldn’t believe me.
  2. I once hung out with Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter!) at a Red Wings game in Detroit, and actually kept my cool the whole time (side note: He’s a SUPER nice guy!)
  3. Visiting the Harry Potter studio tour in London was one of the best days of my life.
  4. My mom was obsessed with the 80’s horror movie Evil Dead directed by Sam Raimi, so she named me after him.
  5. After having visited about 30 countries, Iceland is still my favorite.
  6. My biggest travel dream is to take a road trip around New Zealand!
  7. I try to read 1-2 book(s) EVERY week!
  8. I used to play the saxophone (and I wish I still did!)
  9. I conquered my fear of heights by jumping off a cliff in Croatia — twice!
  10. I love languages and was close to being fluent in German during college.
  11. I’ve acted in a few independent and short films and as an extra in some network TV shows (I even have an IMDB page!)
  12. In another life, I would have been a film director/producer. Maybe some day!
  13. My favorite number is 13.

 

Carmela

Carmela from FLYTE
Carmela is the Executive Director of our non-profit FLYTE that makes travel accessible to underserved youth from across the country. She handles anything and everything from fundraising, working with our partner schools to plan student trips abroad, connecting with our incredible donor community, and managing our volunteer team.

Born and raised in New Jersey, I had the privilege of taking my first international trip when I was 3 to visit my family in the Philippines where I refused to ride the local jeepneys because they didn’t have seatbelts! Since then, my love for travel has evolved. In 2012, my husband, Raymund, and I took a round the world honeymoon that was supposed to scratch the travel itch (lol). We came back home to NYC for a few years before taking the leap to become full-time remote workers, and have lived all over the world ever since.

When I’m not running FLYTE, I love planning trips (even if they’re not my own), practicing yoga, hiking, rock climbing, reading, eating, and eating cookies (which are their own food group, in my opinion).

  1. I LOVE Math! I have a degree in it, taught statistics to college students, and few things make me happier than a well functioning Excel spreadsheet.
  2. I come from a family of educators. My parents were both teachers before they immigrated to the US from the Philippines in the 70’s. Before I left to travel, I worked for the Chancellor of NYC Public Schools, the largest school district in the country, and now running FLYTE is pretty much my dream job because it combines my love for education with travel.
  3. The Notorious BIG and I share the same birthday. Juicy is one of my favorite songs.
  4. I still don’t fully understand how to use Twitter.
  5. I like suspenseful movies & TV shows, but hate the feeling of being in suspense, so I often read what happens before watching so I can relax and enjoy my viewing experience.
  6. My favorite cartoon is Alvin & the Chipmunks. I still have an Alvin doll that I was gifted on my 1st birthday. It bears no resemblance to the actual Alvin Seville anymore.
  7. I attended an all girls high school and a women’s college – that environment there largely shaped who I am today.
  8. My guilty pleasure is watching Terrace House – the Japanese equivalent to the Real World.
  9. My dad has an identical twin brother and they used to play tricks on me and my cousin when we were younger. It’s equally funny and traumatizing.
  10. I hate raisins, especially in cookies.
  11. I’m an only child, but have over 30 first cousins. I love them as if they were my actual siblings.
  12. Raymund and I met in Hawaii. For that, and many other reasons, it’s my most favorite place in the world.
  13. I know every lyric to every song from the Sound of Music.

 

Nomadic Matt

a photo of Nomadic Matt
And, finally, there’s me. You probably know a lot about me after twelve years of blogging (sometimes I forget how long it’s been), but here’s a quick refresh:

Growing up in Boston, I was never a big traveler. I didn’t take my first trip overseas until 2004. That trip changed my life and opened me up to the possibilities the world had to offer. One year later, I went to Thailand, where I met five backpackers who inspired me to quit my job and travel the world. In 2006, I left for a yearlong backpacking trip — and have been “nomadic” ever since.

13 Facts about Me

  1. I love politics as much as I love travel and will debate for the joy for it.
  2. I love to cook.
  3. When I was in high school, I was my state’s champ in “Magic: the Gathering.” I know — super nerdy, right? It got me a free trip NYC with my friend (who came in number two!).
  4. I always worry about the future and often use my time back home to develop skills needed for the Zombie Apocalypse. Shout-out to my prepper friend Vanessa for teaching me about seeds!
  5. I once met Paul Giamatti on the streets of NYC and he was as grumpy as I imagined.
  6. I am an unabashed Taylor Swift fan.
  7. I don’t drink coffee.
  8. I believe aliens exist. It’s mathematically impossible they don’t.
  9. I’m terrified of flying.
  10. I learned to swing dance so I could throw myself a Gatsby-themed birthday party.
  11. Both sides of my family came through Ellis Island and you can see their names on the wall where they list all the immigrants.
  12. I used to be the head of a program by the Massachusetts Sierra Club that promoted energy efficiency.
  13. I went to college to be a high school history teacher.

***

So there you have it! The Nomadic Matt team! It’s weird to think this blog I started to simply be online résumé for freelance jobs now requires eleven people to run. I always thought the more systems, automation, products, and passive income I set up, the easier it would be. I could just sit on a beach. But it seems the more we do, the more we create, the more projects I tell the team we’re taking on, the more help we require. I guess that is the nature of the beast but I would have it no other way. I love what we do here. We help a lot of people realize their dreams.

And a guy couldn’t ask for better co-workers to help make that happen.

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

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post Meet the Team: The Many Faces of Nomadic Matt appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Will the Coronavirus change how you live? It will for me.

Posted By : webmaster/ 70 0


A movie theatre marquee stating the world is closed
Posted: 04/27/20 | April 27th, 2020

Emily Dickinson once said, “To shut our eyes is Travel.”

I disagree.

Confined inside for the last six weeks, no matter how often I shut my eyes, it’s simply not the same. The beauty of Dickinson’s quote seems to only go so far.

When she was alive, the world was a “bigger place.” Leisure travel was not really a thing. Most people would never leave their hometown, let alone their state or country. You couldn’t just jet to Japan for a few weeks. Going anywhere was a very long and expensive endeavor.

And, as a recluse who rarely even left her house (she left her hometown three times in forty years), maybe using her mind to explore the world was probably the best for Emily to “see the world.”

But we live in an age when the entire world is our oyster. We can (or could, anyway) jump on a flight and visit distant lands at the drop of the hat. We can text, call, and Zoom people in real-time from anywhere in the world. Travel has become so cheap and easy that we worry about the “overtourism” of destinations. Everyone is on the road these days.

Our society is the most mobile and globalized it’s ever been.

And, yet, these days, no matter how many travel books, movies, virtual museum visits, and Zoom calls I devour, I still feel like a caged bird.

It’s not that I’m yearning to travel. I had no travel plans until late May.

But I miss the outdoors, seeing my friends in person, glasses of wine at restaurants, and going to cocktail bars. I miss freedom. All my big plans to be home, join social clubs, take gardening classes, and hike more are postponed.

What’s more, when I moved to Austin, I furnished my apartment so it would not be comfortable to work from. I knew how easy it would be to just work all day from home — and doing so can make you lazy and unproductive.

So I created a space that would be good for a few hours but would then force me out of my house and into the world.

It was my insurance against my innate laziness because I didn’t want to be inside all the time.

Yet here I am (here we all are).

A lot is being said about how the coronavirus will change how we live. A lot is being said about how it will change travel. (I already shared my thoughts on it.)

As I watch spring bloom outside my window and remember what it was like to hike in the mountains of faraway lands, I can’t help but wonder if Emily would feel the same about living in her house if she had been around today.

Being inside has made me think a lot about Emily’s quote and my own life and relationship to the outside world.

Like most people, my problem has never really been “not having enough time” to do the things I wanted. I was simply misusing the time I had and falling into “the busy trap.” Endlessly doing “stuff” but nothing that really moved me forward. And, in truth, most of that “stuff” I did was work or wasting time online anyways.

But it took up time and made me feel “busy.”

Now, suddenly confronted with all the time I’d always wished I had, I find myself in my old habits — and even less motivated than before. I sleep longer, I eat worse, I’m unmotivated to go for walks, and I spend a lot of day at my kitchen table working or on social media.

That reality dawned on me last week. With restrictions probably loosening in a couple of weeks, I felt like the chance I had a reset had not been used wisely.

So, in an effort to make a change, last week, I started to create a semblance of a normal day by scheduling everything. From sleep to reading to when I would eat to work to even social media, it all went into my schedule.

First, I wanted to feel motivated to get out of bed again.

Second, I wanted to see if I could learn to better use the time I had.

The verdict?

It turns out there is plenty time in the day to everything you want to do.

You can get a surprising amount of stuff done in a day with a plan. I’m reading more consistently and completing the online courses that have lingered for months. I’m finally catching up on Schitt’s Creek (it’s great). I’ve even put in “social media” time so I can ensure that I still get my fix in.

Before this, I moved a lot by inertia. My life was relatively balanced and, with enough to keep me busy and on the move, I never had to really wonder about all the plates I was spinning. All the chaos balanced itself out.

But, now that the music has stopped, I can see that I was never really balanced.

All I was doing was just moving.

I hope my future self will one day read this post and say, “You kept it up and found balance.”

After all, we always say we’ll change, but we rarely do. As time passes, we usually go back to our old ways.

Humans are creatures of habit and we have short memories.

I am no different.

But I definitely don’t want to look back and say, “Well, past Matt, you failed.”

A crisis can be an opportunity. A chance to reset who you are and how you live. Being young and single affords me more time than others but if I’ve learned anything from my experience — and from talking to my friends — little changes can produce big results.

You don’t need to change a hundred things in your life. Even doing one thing (scheduling for me) can produce a big and positive change.

After all, time really is too precious a thing to waste.

And I can’t believe it took having too much time on my hands to realize that.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post Will the Coronavirus change how you live? It will for me. appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The 23 Best Things to See and Do in Hong Kong

Posted By : webmaster/ 68 0


The massive and towering skyline of Hong Kong at sunset
Posted: 04/23/20 | April 23rd, 2020

Hong Kong is one of the most densely-packed cities in the world. It’s a vibrant, towering, eclectic city that’s bursting at the seams with people, food, activities, and history.

It’s one of my favorite cities in the world.

Home to over 7 million people, Hong Kong is comprised of over 260 islands. It’s is a fast-paced city with world-class food, a lively nightlife, energetic night markets, and plenty of spaces to escape to when you need to relax.

Whenever I visit Asia, I make sure to stop in for a visit. I never get tired of spending time here — and I’m sure you won’t either!

To help you plan your trip, here are my favorite 23 things to see and do in Hong Kong.
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

The empty streets of Hong Kong before a night market opens
The first thing I do when I arrive at a new destination is take a free walking tour. They give me the lay of the land, show me the main sites, and give me access to a knowledgeable local who can answer all my questions.

There are two companies that offer comprehensive free walking tours in Hong Kong:

Both offer multiple tours and have competent, knowledgeable local guides. Just make sure you tip your guide at the end!
 

2. See the Street Markets in Mong Kok

Located on Kowloon, Mong Kok is a winding area of narrow streets known for its markets. To really get a sense of the city, some here and soak up the frenetic atmosphere, see the sights, and bask in the organized chaos of Hong Kong. If you’re looking for inexpensive souvenirs be sure to check out the Ladies Market (it has lots of bargain clothing, accessories, and souvenirs) and the Temple Street Night Market (which is more of a flea market). Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, you should still visit some of the markets. You’ll get a much deeper feel for the city and there is lots of great people-watching here too.

Tung Choi St, Mong Kok, Hong Kong and Temple St, Jordan, Hong Kong. The markets are open every day, starting around noon and closing in the late evening (times vary).
 

3. Ride the Star Ferry

The Star Ferry approaching the dock in Hong Kong
While you’ll likely need to ride the Star Ferry just to get around, it also makes for a fun activity in and of itself. You’ll be able to see the city and its towering skyline from a new perspective — all for just 2.70 HKD. It’s one of my favorite activities (and it’s cheap too!).

Star Ferry Pier, Kowloon Point, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2367 7065, kowloonstarferry.com. The ferry runs from 6:30am-11:30pm every day, though they occur less frequently on weekends and holidays. Tickets are 2.70 HDK, while a 4-day pass will cost 27.50 HKD.
 

4. Visit the Hong Kong Museum of History

One of the best ways to learn about a place and its people is to learn about its past. The Hong Kong Museum of History provides an excellent overview of Hong Kong’s long and complex history, with exhibits on archaeology, social history, ethnography, natural history, and more. It’s a huge museum so allow 2–4 hours if you want to see it all. Even if you’re not a history buff like me, it’s worth a visit to develop a better understanding of the city, its people, and its culture.

100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, +852 2724 9042, hk.history.museum. Open Wednesday-Monday from 10am-6pm (7pm on weekends). Admission is 10 HKD (free on Wednesdays) and there is an audio tour available for 10 HKD. 
 

5. Take in the View from Victoria Peak

The massive and towering skyline of Hong Kong at night
For the best view of the city (especially at night), visit Victoria Peak (usually just called “the peak”). It’s Hong Kong Island’s largest mountain, standing at 1,700 feet tall. You can hike to the top (which is exhausting, especially in the heat) or ride a funicular. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning 180-degree view of the skyline, Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, and the surrounding hills. It’s the best view of the city.

No.1 Lugard Road, +852 2849 7654, thepeak.com.hk. Open daily from 7am-10pm. A return trip with entry to the sky terrace is 99 HKD per person.
 

6. Walk the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

To get a feel for the city, spend some time strolling along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. You can take in the towering skyline of Hong Kong Island and see the Avenue of Stars (which is Hong Kong’s version of Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame” in Los Angeles). There are tons of shops and restaurants here as well. At night, a large outdoor market serving traditional Cantonese food as well as knockoffs and souvenirs takes over the area. A lot of the city’s museums are nearby too.

Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon (next to the Star Ferry pier). Open 24/7. Admission is free.
 

7. Enjoy Kowloon Park

A small gazebo in the spacious Kowloon Park in Hong Kong
To relax and soak up the sun, head to Kowloon Park. It’s a massive green space that spans over 13 hectares (32 acres) and is home to some relaxing Chinese gardens, ponds where you can feed ducks and other birds, an aviary, a fitness center, swimming pool, and lots of space to relax and watch the city go by. When the weather gets too hot (and it will!) come here to chill out in the shade. It’s one of the best places to people-watch in the city.

22 Austin Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, +852 2724 3344, lcsd.gov.hk. Open daily from 5am-12am. Admission is free.

8. Visit the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum

This museum is devoted to Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary, politician, physician, and philosopher who devoted his life to overthrowing the Qing Dynasty (China’s last imperial dynasty). He’s one of the few figures beloved in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China alike (there are memorials to him in both Taiwan and mainland China as well). The museum provides a comprehensive overview of his life, his career, and Hong Kong’s vital role in the reform movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that shaped China as we know it today.

7 Castle Road, Mid-Levels, Central, +852 2367 6373, hk.drsunyatsen.museum. Open Monday–Wednesday and Friday from 10am–6pm and Saturday–Sunday from 10am–7pm (closed Thursdays). Admission is free.
 

9. Rent a Junk Boat

The famous Hong Kong junk boats sailing on the waters near Hong Kong
Junk boats — those classic boats with the large sail you see in any movie about Hong Kong — are an iconic part of Hong Kong. These traditional ships have been around since the 2nd century (the name possibly derives from chuán, the Chinese word for “ship”).

Today, you can sail around on a half-day or full-day trip. You can rent a private boat with a large group of friends (12–60 people) with packages that range from bring-everything-yourself to all-inclusive. You can also join a group tour and pay per person if you’re traveling solo. Here are some recommended companies that offer affordable tours:

  • Island Junks – They have a couple cruise options, costing around 650 HKD per person.
  • Saffron Cruises – If you have a large group (20-30 people), this is the best option for you. A charter will cost between 9,500-19,000 HKD.
  • Hong Kong Junks – This is the classic party boat experience, usually for younger travelers. Budget options available.

 

10. Visit the Hong Kong Heritage Museum

This museum is a nice follow-up to the history museum. Its focus is on both Hong Kong’s history as well as its art. There’s a comprehensive exhibit about the New Territories (the least-populated area of Hong Kong) and there’s also an opera house for cultural performances. Overall, the museum provides an insightful overview of the city’s culture and art scene. It’s located near Sha Tin Park and the Shing Mun River, a picturesque section of the city.

1 Man Lam Rd, Sha Tin, New Territories, +852 2180 8188, heritagemuseum.gov.hk. Open Wednesday-Sunday from 10am-6pm (7pm on weekends). Admission is free.
 

11. Ngong Ping 360

The massive Buddha statue at Ngong Ping 360 in Hong Kong
Ngong Ping 360 is a gondola that stretches over 5.7km (3.5 miles) from Tung Chung across the bay toward the airport and then onward to Lantau Island. The ride takes around 25 minutes and offers a panoramic view of the entire city and harbor.

You’ll arrive at Ngong Ping Village, which is super touristy (there are lots of tacky souvenir shops and carnivalesque performances) but still fun. Don’t miss the nearby Po Lin Monastery (a Buddhist monastery founded in 1906) and Tian Tan, a 34-meter bronze Buddha statue that sits on the top of the island’s peak.

11 Tat Tung Road, Tung Chung, Lantau Island, +852 3666 0606, np360.com. Open 10am-6pm on weekdays and 9am-6:30pm on weekends on holidays. A round-trip adult ticket for the cable car is 235 HKD for a standard cabin and 315 HKD for a crystal cabin (a cable car with a glass-bottom floor).
 

12. Take a Food Tour

Hong Kong is a foodie city — it’s why I love to visit whenever I’m in the area. There are over 10,000 restaurants here so you can find pretty much any sort of food you’re looking for.

With so many options, though, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why I suggest taking a food tour to help you get the lay of the culinary land. The following food tour companies offer the best value tours:

 

13. Take a Day Trip to Macau

One of the many fancy casinos in Macau, China
Macau is considered the “Las Vegas of Asia” and is a huge gambling mecca. It’s just 50-75 minutes away from Hong Kong by boat and makes for a fun day trip. The city, which is a Special Administrative Region in China (similar to Hong Kong), was originally a Portuguese colony and trading post. From 1557-1887 it was governed by Portual and was a vital trading port.

Today, the city is full of modern casinos and offers an interesting mix of Chinese and Portuguese culture. Even if you’re not a big gambler, it’s still a unique place to visit and explore for a day.
 

14. Walk the Ping Shan Heritage Trail

This trail is located in the New Territories (the city’s less-visited northern district). Opened in 1993, it passes 14 different historic buildings, including some that are over 700 years old. You’ll get to see some of the most important ancient sights of the Tang clan (one of the 5 main clans of the New Territories). 

The trail takes around 2-3 hours to walk and includes the walled Hakka village of Tsang Tai Uk, the Fu Shin Street Traditional Bazaar, Che Kung Temple, Man Mo Temple, the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and much more. Just keep in mind that not all of the historic buildings are open to the public.

This region of Hong Kong is skipped by most visitors so the trail is often quiet. It’s a welcome break from the go-go-go atmosphere of the city’s core.

Ping Shan Trail: Sheung Cheung Wai, Yuen Long District, +852 2617 1959, lcsd.gov.hk.
 

15. Visit the Hong Kong Museum of Art

Located on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, this museum is focused on promoting local art while highlighting the city’s artistic past. The museum, which opened in 1962, has over 17,000 items including Chinese ceramics, terra cotta, rhinoceros horns, Chinese paintings, and contemporary art by local artists. It has around a dozen different exhibitions as well as pieces dating back to the neolithic period. It’s sort of like a mix between an art museum and a Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2721 0116. Open Friday-Wednesday from 10am-5pm. Admission is 10 HKD.
 

16. Experience the Nightlife at Lan Kwai Fong

A sign pointing to the Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district in Hong Kong
LKF is the main nightlife and party spot in the city. It’s also the main expat district too and the area is full of bars, clubs, and shisha bars. Drinks are cheap and the nights out are wild. The streets get crowded and it gets rowdy, but if you want to see the city’s wild side then this is where you need to be. It’s especially wild on Halloween and New Year’s Eve.

Some places worth checking out to get your night started are:

  • 001 Speakeasy
  • Ce La Vi
  • The Brickhouse
  • Typhoon
  • Dragon I

 

17. Have Fun at Disneyland

The colorful Hong Kong Disneyland sign in Hong Kong
If you really want to play tourist and get in touch with your inner child, head to Disneyland. The park has over 36 attractions, including favorites like the spinning teacups and Jungle Cruise. Located on Lantau Island, you can reach the park in just 20 minutes by car. It’s super easy to get to (you can take public transportation there as well in around 45 minutes). They also have a nightly fireworks show at 9pm.

Admission is 619 HKD for anyone over 12. For children under 12, admission is 458 HKD. Prices are cheaper for multi-day visits.
 

18. Take a Cooking Class

If you love the food here and want to learn more about it (and learn how to make it yourself), take a cooking class. You’ll not only get to eat some delicious food but you can visit a local market and learn exactly how to make your favorite dishes so you can cook them when you get home.

Some companies offering fun and affordable cooking classes are:

Prices will vary depending on the class. Expect to spend around 550-750 HKD per person.
 

19. Go Hiking

There’s no question that Hong Kong is a densely-packed city. If you find yourself looking to escape the crowds, there are plenty of scenic hiking trails nearby where you can stretch your legs. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Po Toi – Located on Po Toi Island, this is a quiet circular hike that lasts around 3 hours. It’s very laid back and you’ll see lots of neat rock formations.
  • Sunset Peak – This is the third-highest peak in Hong Kong. Located on Lantau Island, it’s a challenging hike that takes around 3.5 hours and offers some amazing views (especially at sunset). The trail begins right at Mui Wo on Lantau Island.
  • Ap Lei Chau to Ap Lei Pai – A challenging coastal hike with steep sections that leads you to Mount Johnston Lighthouse. Takes 2-3 hours and starts near the Lei Tung MTR station.
  • Lung Ha Wan Country Trail – A family-friendly scenic hike that stretches from Clear Water Bay Second Beach to Lung Ha Wan. It takes between 2-3 hours.
  • Tung O Ancient Trail – This is a long trail between Tung Chung and Tai O on Lantau Island. It’s almost 15km long and takes 5 hours to hike.

 

20. Explore Lamma Island

A solitary path along the beach on Lamma Island in Hong Kong
Lamma Island (also called “Pok Liu Chau” or “Pok Liu”) is a quiet island that not many people visit — even though it’s the third-largest island in Hong Kong! There are only a few thousand residents here and no cars are allowed.

Additionally, there are no buildings over three-stories high so it has a much different feel than the rest of the city. It’s cheaper and more laid back than the rest of Hong Kong, so the island attracts young people, artists, expats, and musicians. There are lots of hiking trails here too, as well as some nice beaches to relax on (don’t miss Lo So Shing Beach).
 

21. Visit the Hong Kong Space Museum

This museum is located on the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade inside a huge egg-shaped building (it’s a really odd building). But, while the building is peculiar, the museum itself is both fun and insightful (it’s a good choice if you’re traveling with kids). It’s home to astronomy exhibits, a digital planetarium, interactive shows in their Omnimax theatre, and lots of hands-on exhibitions. It’s definitely one of the most interesting museums in the city.

10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, +852 2721 0226, lcsd.gov.hk/CE/museum/space. Open Monday, Wednesday-Friday from 1pm–9pm and Saturday–Sunday from 10am–9pm (closed Tuesdays). Admission is 24 HKD.
 

22. Catch a Festival

A massive New Year's fireworks display at night in Hong Kong
No matter what time of the year you’re visiting, chances are there will be a festival or major cultural event taking place (there is usually something going on each month). Here are some of the most popular festivals and events in the city:

  • Chinese (Lunar) New Year – Held in January, the Chinese New Year lights up the city with color and flowers. There is a huge parade through the Tsim Sha Tsui area with tons of incredible floats, acrobats, Chinese dragons, dancers, and more.
  • Hong Kong International Film Festival – If you’re a movie buff, don’t miss this festival in March. There are always amazing new films (200+ films are screened each year) and there are lots of meet-and-greets and events to attend.
  • Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival (Tuen Ng Festival) – Held in June, this is a lively festival that takes over the waterfront. Over 4,000 boats compete and there are tons of parties that take place over the three-day event.
  • Hungry Ghost Festival – This traditional Taoist/Buddhist festival is held every September and involves all kinds of religious ceremonies to help ease the suffering of lingering spirits.
  • New Year’s Eve – Much like in New York City, Hong Kong hosts a massive New Year’s Eve celebration that brings out tens of thousands of people. The city is bursting at the seams and it’s a non-stop party to ring in the new year.

 

23. Hit the Beach

There are actually a ton of beaches around Hong Kong. We think of the city as this overbuilt metropolis but out in the New Territories, there’s a lot of great hikes, wilderness, and beaches! Here are some of my favorite beaches in Hong Kong to visit:

  • Clear Water Bay Second Beach – Sandy beach away from the city (but accessible by public transportation). Water is relatively clean (which is rare around Hong Kong).
  • Lower Cheung Sha Beach – One of the prettiest beaches in Hong Kong and also the longest. Offers clean sand, washroom facilities, and some cafes nearby.
  • Hap Mun Bay Beach – Located near Sai Kung on Sharp Island, Hap Mun Bay Beach (also known as Half Moon beach) is consistently ranked as one of the cleanest beaches in Hong Kong. It gets busy on the weekend though so arrive early
  • Long Ke Wan – This beach is more remote, but is worth the effort (CNN said it’s one of the best beaches in the world). Since it’s remote, you’ll need to bring everything you need with you, including food and water.

***

With so much to see, do, and eat, it should be clear by now why Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities to visit. It’s a lively, jarring metropolis that overloads the senses in the best of ways. But it also has lots to see and do away from the crowds too.

It’s safe, clean, and offers visitors a unique blend of east and west. In a nutshell, Hong Kong is a city that doesn’t disappoint.

Book Your Trip to Hong Kong: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel in Hong Kong with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates. Some of my favorite places to stay are:

For even more places to stay in Hong Kong, check out my post on my favorite hostels in the city. It has an even more detailed list!

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

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

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

Photo credit: 5 – Cycling Man, 9 – travelwayoflife, 11 – Jennifer Morrow, 12 – ncburton

The post The 23 Best Things to See and Do in Hong Kong appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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25 Things to See and Do in Barcelona

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The famous park Guell in Barcelona, Spain in the summer
Posted: 04/23/20 | April 23rd, 2020

In recent years, Barcelona has become one of the most popular destinations in Europe. While 5 million people call the city home, over 32 million travelers visit each and every year. (It is actually one of the worst cities in the world for overtourism! Visit in the off-season!)

Despite the crowds, I love visiting Barcelona. Every visit makes me fall in love with it over and over again.

It’s a city steeped in history, dating back to Roman times (be sure to visit the ruins underneath the city), you’ll find medieval structures all over the place, and Gaudi’s architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries dots every district.

The food is incredible. Do an improvised tapas crawl through La Barceloneta and just eat, eat, and eat.

Or take part in the famed nightlife that doesn’t even begin until 2 am.

With delicious food, incredible history and architecture, perfect weather, and a lively nightlife, Barcelona is a city that can entertain anyone.

It is one of the best cities in all of Spain. To help you make the most of your next visit, here are my favorite 25 things to see and do in Barcelona. They will give you a feel for the city, allow you to eat all the best food, and get you away from the overbearing crowds!
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

I love free walking tours. I think they are the best way to get to know a new city and I always try to take one anytime I go somewhere new. You’ll get to see the main sites, meet other travelers, and chat with an expert local guide. My recommended walking tour companies in Barcelona are:

 

2. Get Lost in the Barri Gotic

Barcelona's gothic quarter
Barcelona’s old Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) is my favorite part of town. The neighborhood is filled with narrow, winding streets and historic buildings that make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

While it is a little touristy, to me, it’s the most beautiful area in the city. Spend a few hours getting lost in this district. You won’t regret it!
 

3. Visit the Museum of the History of Barcelona

The ruins in the Museum of the History of Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain
I’ve visited a lot of city museums over the years, but Barcelona has one of the best there is. Opened in 1943, the museum is home to over 4,000 square meters of Roman ruins (located below the museum) that you can walk through. There is also a free (and quite detailed) audio guide as well as meticulous explanations of the exhibits. Even if you’re not a history buff like me, you’ll get a lot out of this museum. It will give you a much better sense of the city and it’s past (and the ruins really are amazing!).

Plaça del Rei, +34 932 56 21 00, ajuntament.barcelona.cat/museuhistoria/ca. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-7pm (8pm on Sundays). Admission is 7 EUR per person.
 

4. See the Grand Royal Palace

Built in the 14th century, the Palau Reial Major was the home of Barcelona’s counts. Located near the history museum, it later housed the Kings of Aragon (the rulers who presided over the region) from 1035 until the 15th century (though most of the palace remains date to the 14th century). The palace includes a detailed history of the city and region and is said that it’s where Christopher Columbus returned after his “discovery” voyage to North America.

The Palace shares hours and admission costs with The Museum of the History of Barcelona.
 

5. Admire Barcelona Cathedral

The famous Barcelona Cathedral at night in Spain
This Gothic cathedral was built in the 13th century. Officially known as The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, it was consecrated in 1339 and has two massive spires that stand over 53 meters (174ft) tall, colorful stained glass, and incredible wood carvings inside the ornate and spacious main chamber.

If you do want to go inside (and you should), be sure to pay to visit the upper terraces as you’ll get an incredible view of the city.

Placita de la Seu 3, +34 933 428 262, catedralbcn.org. Tourist hours are daily from 12:30pm-5:45pm on weekdays (until 7:15pm on the weekends). For those looking to worship, the cathedral is open daily from 8:30am. Admission is 7 EUR for tourists and free for worshipers.
 

6. Wander Park Güell

Park Güell is a beautiful and sprawling 45-acre garden complex designed by world-famous architect Antoni Gaudí. Dating back to the early 1900s, it’s one of the many Gaudi works in the city open to the public. Today, it’s a World Heritage Site and municipal garden that’s free to enter (you can access most of the park for free, though the interior sections do charge admission).

The focal point of the park is the main terrace, which is surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent. The park is right near the famous La Sagrada Familia so it’s easy to visit both back-to-back. It’s a beautiful and colorful park but it also gets busy so try to go early or on a weekday when the crowds are thinner.

Carrer d’Olot, parkguell.barcelona/en. Open daily from 8:30am-6pm. Admission for the interior section is 10 EUR per person. Guided tours are available for 31 EUR and children six years old and younger are free. If you buy tickets, make sure you book them in advance as they sell out quickly.
 

7. See La Sagrada Família

The famous Sagrada Familia cathedral at night in Spain
La Sagrada Família is arguably the most famous of Gaudí’s work — even though it’s still not finished (construction began in 1882 and is scheduled to be completed in 2030). Gaudí was a devout Catholic and the church was his final project, one he spent the last 10 years of his life working on.

Like all of Gaudi’s work, the church (which was consecrated as a minor basilica in 2010) blends various themes and influences and is a mix of both Gothic and Art Nouveau styles.

While you can take in the church from the outside, I’d encourage you to explore the interior with an audio guide. It covers the entire history of the church and will give you an insightful overview of this unique (and massive) project.

If you can, try to visit between mid-morning and late afternoon so you can see the sunlight cascade throughout all the stained glass.

Plaça de la Sagrada Familia, +34 932 080 414, sagradafamilia.org. Admission is 20 EUR for a basic ticket and 26 EUR for a ticket with an audio guide. For an audio guide and access to the towers, tickets are 33 EUR. Book your tickets in advance as they disappear quickly.
 

8. Explore La Boquería

Barcelona's Boqueria
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (La Boquería for short) is a public market near La Rambla. The market has been at this location for hundreds of years and is home to a delectable array of food stalls and restaurants.

Since it’s right off La Rambla it gets incredibly busy so try to get there early. There’s a wide variety of seafood, including fish, shrimp, octopus, and oysters, as well as nuts, candy, wine, and tapas. It’s a cheap place to grab a snack as you explore the city.
 

9. Visit Casa Batlló and Casa Milà

Casa Batlló is one of Gaudi’s more eye-catching creations. Located in the Eixample district of Barcelona, he spent two years on this colorful project. Like much of his work, the design is heavily influenced by the Art Nouveau style. The facade was decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles that he collected from the trash of a nearby glass shop, which makes the building almost glow in the sunlight. The roof is arched and tiled and has been likened to the back of a dragon. It’s one of my favorite Gaudí buildings.

Just a couple hundred meters away from Casa Batlló is Casa Milà. Known as La Pedrera (“the Stone Quarry”), this building has a facade of limestone (hence the nickname). Built from 1906-1910, Gaudi’s goal was to evoke the sense of a snowy mountain. He also planned for Casa Milà to be a spiritual symbol (he was a devout Catholic after all) and included lots of religious elements in the design, such as an excerpt from the rosary prayer along the cornice. He also included statues of Mary, St. Michael, and St. Gabriel.

Casa Batlló: Passeig de Gràcia 43, +34 93 216 0306, casabatllo.es. Open daily from 9am-9pm. Admission is 25 EUR online and 29 EUR at the door.

Casa Milà: Passeig de Gràcia 92, +34 93 214 2576, lapedrera.com. Open daily from 9am-8:30pm. Admission is 24 EUR in advance and 27 EUR at the door (tickets include a free audio guide).

For more Gaudi works, check out this post on exploring Gaudi’s Barcelona and get a walking tour route for all his buildings.
 

10. Visit the Picasso Museum

This is the most comprehensive collection of Pablo Picasso’s works in the world. Opened in 1963, the museum is home to over 4,000 works by Picasso. While I’m personally not a huge fan of Picasso’s later work, it’s still interesting to learn about his life and work as he was one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. While his style is unique and not for everyone, the museum is nevertheless worth a visit. It’s amazing to see how his art changed and evolved over the course of his life.

Carrer Montcada 15-23, bcn.cat/museupicasso/en. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 9am-7pm. Admission is 12 EUR per person, with free entry on Thursdays from 6pm-9:30pm and on the first Sunday of the month.
 

11. Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA)

This museum has over 5,000 works, including an extensive collection of pieces by Spanish artists such as Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. There are also works by Americans Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of modern art but if you are, be sure to add this to your itinerary!

Plaça dels Àngels 1, +34 934 12 08 10, Open Wednesday-Friday from 10am-7:30pm, Saturdays from 10am-8pm, and Sundays from 10am-3pm (closed Monday). Admission is 11 EUR (free entry on Saturdays from 4-8pm.
 

12. Take a Day Trip to Monserrat

The stunning Monserrat mountains near Barcelona, Spain
To escape the city for a day, head to Monserrat. It’s an hour away by train and the city is next to a mountain range. It makes for a fun escape from Barcelona’s busy urban atmosphere. There are lots of hiking trails here, but if you don’t want to hike you can also take a cable car up to the peak to take in the view.

Be sure to visit the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery to see the famous shrine of the Black Madonna. The monastery is built into the mountain and the Black Madonna statue is said to have been carved in Jerusalem during the early years of Christianity, though it most likely dates to the 12th century.

If you’re an art fan, visit the Art Museum Of Montserrat. It has works by Monet, Dali, Picasso, and many other famous artists. And be sure to visit the local market (it’s on the way to the monastery). It’s the perfect place to buy local products like fresh produce, cheese, honey, and artisan crafts. And if you’re an adrenaline junkie, there is tons of rock climbing to be done here as well (either solo or with a hired guide).

Train tickets for the hour-long journey cost around 20 EUR (round trip).
 

13. Take a Stroll on La Rambla

This is the most popular (and most crowded) street in the city. It’s lined with trees and beautiful buildings and you’ll usually be able to find lots of locals busking here too. The street grew to prominence during the Middle Ages, and while it’s still the main tourist hub in the city I’d avoid shopping or eating here (everything will be overpriced). That said, it’s nevertheless worth a stroll. The street is just over 1km long so it won’t take long to take in the sights.
 

14. Hit the Beach

If you’re looking to relax and enjoy Barcelona’s beautiful weather, head to the beach. The city has a popular beach that’s open year-round called Barceloneta. It’s long, wide, and the water is great for swimming. There are also a lot of good restaurants on the boardwalk. The beach is always busy with both tourists and locals so walk further from the center to reach some quieter and cleaner sections. Two areas I’d recommend are Sant Sebastià (in the south) and Somorrostro (in the north).
 

15. Watch Some Flamenco

Flamenco dancers
Flamenco is a traditional style of music and dance that originated in Spain. It’s a lively, expressive style known for its intricate footwork and hand movements. If you’re looking to take in a show, Barcelona has a few affordable venues where you can watch a performance:

  • Los Tarantos – This is the oldest flamenco venue in the city. Performances are just 30 minutes so it’s a good place for an introduction.
  • Palau Dalmases – One of the best things about the flamenco shows here is the venue. This palace has amazing décor and incredible architecture.
  • Tablao Flamenco Cordobes – This show is in a convenient location on Barcelona’s main walkway, but it’s expensive.
  • Tablao de Carmen – This show takes places in a replica of a Spanish village.

16. Ride the Port Cable Car

The 1,450-meter-long harbor aerial tramway with red cars connects Barceloneta and Montjuïc (a prominent hill). The 10-minute ride offers picturesque views of the entire city. You’ll see the port and sea on one side and the city on the other. Also, at the top of the 78-meter Sant Sebastià (San Sebastián) tower in Barceloneta, there’s a restaurant accessible by an elevator. If you want to hike instead, there are a few different trails to the summit, most taking around 3 hours.

Open daily from 10am-6pm (9pm in the summer). Round-trip tickets cost 13.50 EUR per person.
 

17. Explore Montjuïc Hill

If you take the cable car, bus, or hike to the top of the hill you’ll find there’s a lot to keep you busy beyond the view. First, you can explore the Castell de Montjuïc. It’s a large 18th-century fortress with roots that date back to the 17th century. It has some picturesque gardens and offers amazing views overlooking the city. It’s home to a museum with lots of military displays. Admission is 5 EUR though it’s free on Sundays after 3pm as well as the first Sunday of the month.

You’ll also find the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya here, a Catalonian art museum. It features mostly Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque works. The fountain out front has a spectacular free show as well.

Additionally, don’t miss the Olympic Ring (the main area of the 1992 Olympic Games) and the Poble Espanyol, a replica village built in 1929 to resemble an actual traditional Spanish village. It has over 100 buildings, including an Andalusian quarter, a section of the Camino, a monastery, and more!

Admission is 12 EUR per person, with free entry on Saturdays after 3pm and on the first Sunday of the month..
 

18. Take a Food Tour or Cooking Class

Like the rest of Spain, Barcelona is a very foodie-centric city. While you’re here, I highly recommend taking either a cooking class or a food tour (or both!). You’ll learn about traditional Catalan cooking, get to see and sample fresh ingredients, and get to walk through local markets. Some companies to check out are:

 

19. Visit an Old-School Amusement Park

Built in 1899 and opened in 1901, Tibidabo Barcelona is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. Located on a mountain in the Serra de Collserola, it offers an incredible view of Barcelona and the coastline in addition to its rides, games, and restaurants. It’s a fun activity to do with kids.

Plaça del Tibidabo, +34 932 11 79 42, tibidabo.cat. Hours vary depending on the season. Check the website for details. Admission si 28.50 EUR.
 

20. Take a Day Trip to Girona

The colorful buildings of Girona, Spain overlooking a river
Girona is a medieval city just 100km from Barcelona. It’s also one of my favorite destinations in the entire country. Here you can climb atop the city walls, wander the narrow lanes of the Jewish Quarter, and soak up the ambiance at one of its many cafés.

Don’t miss the Cathedral of Girona and the Monastery of Saint Daniel and be sure to stroll across the Eiffel bridge (a small bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, the man who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris).

There’s a lot of history and delicious food in the city (be sure to stop at Rocambolesc for gelato). They also filmed Game of Thrones here too! The train ride is around 80 minutes (half that if you take the high-speed train). Tickets range from 10-40 EUR.

Check out this post for a longer list of things to see and do in Girona.
 

21. Watch a Soccer Match

The first “football” game I ever watched live was in Barcelona (I still have the shirt I bought that day). Barcelona’s two biggest teams are Espanyol and FC Barcelona and, if a match is going on, try to take in one — it’s an amazing and boisterous spectacle (FC Barcelona’s stadium holds around 100,000 people)! Like most Europeans, Spaniards are obsessed with the sport and tickets are usually quite affordable (they typically cost around 30 EUR). If you want to get a glimpse into local life (and make some friends in the process) be sure to catch a game!
 

22. Gaze at Barcelona’s Free Public Art

The famous Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona, Spain
While Spain is an affordable destination, it never hurts to find free activities! There are a lot to be found around the city, including a huge fountain in the Parc de la Ciutadella. It was designed by Gaudi and built as a tribute to Neptune (the Roman god). Other off-beat (and free) Gaudí works include his lampposts in Plaça Reial and Pla de Palau, and the Miralles gate, and the wall on Passeig de Manuel Girona.

Barcelona native Joan Miró’s work is also found throughout the city. You can see his famous “Woman and Bird” sculpture at Parc de Joan Miró. There are also Miró mosaics on La Rambla and at the city’s airport.
 

23. Take a Bike Tour

Fat Tire Tours offers guided tours around the city — for as little as 30 EUR per person too! Tours last 4-4.5 hours and are a great way to take in the city if you don’t feel like a regular walking tour. They offer half a dozen different tours to choose from as well and their groups are small so it’s easy to meet people too!
 

24. Visit Parc del Laberint d’Horta

Park of the Labyrinth of Horta was created in 1791 and is composed of various Neoclassical and Romantic gardens as well as a huge hedge maze (which gives the park its name). The maze stretches over 750 meters while the rest of the park covers over 135 acres. The maze was created to re-enact the original Greek myth of the minotaur on Crete and is actually much trickier to complete than you think!

Passeig dels Castanyers 1. Open daily from 10am until dusk (between 6pm-8pm depending on the season). Admission is 2.25 EUR.
 

25. Get off the Beaten Path

While there are tons of popular (and crowded) sights in Barcelona, there are also lots of quirky and off-the-beaten-path things to see and do in the city. If you’re looking to explore some of the less-busy and weirder attractions of the city, here are a few worth adding to your itinerary:

  • The Erotic Museum – This small museum highlights how sex has been viewed throughout the ages, with works from Medieval Europe and Imperial Japan all the way to the present. There are paintings, drawings, artifacts, sculptures, and more. It’s one of the most unique museums in the city! Admission is 10 EUR.
  • Bunkers of Carmel – These bunkers were built in 1938 during the Spanish Civil War. The bunkers were left to the elements but they now offer incredible views over the city. Try to visit for the sunrise.
  • Chocolate Museum – Chocolate arrived in Spain 500 years ago, a product of trade and conquests in South America. This museum illuminates the history of chocolate and showcases all sorts of tools, sculptures (made out of chocolate), and artwork. Admission is 4.30 EUR.
  • Columns of the Temple of Augustus – Tucked away in the Gothic Quarter are a set of pillars over 2,000 years old. Taken from the remains of an ancient Roman temple, these 30-foot columns have stood here since the 16th century. Admission is free.

***

Barcelona is consistently ranked as one of Europe’s best (and most-visited) cities. It’s truly an electric city. It’s one of my favorites and this list of things to do will keep you busy for your entire trip. There’s really so much to do in Barcelona. you’ll never be bored!

 

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 Barcelona: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

Need a Guide?
Barcelona has some really great guided Gaudi tours. My favorite company to go with is Take Walks. Their “Complete Gaudí Tour” will give you the best in-depth and behind-the-scenes Gaudi tour out there.

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

Photo Credit: 3 – JosepBC

The post 25 Things to See and Do in Barcelona appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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10 Things to See and Do in Girona, Spain

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Posted: 04/20/20 | April 20th, 2020

From lively Barcelona to island paradises like Mallorca and the Grand Canaries to the historic cities of Andalusia, Spain is awesome. It’s one of my favorite countries in the world and one of the most budget friendly in Europe.

But there is one city that captures my love of the country the most: Girona.

Home to just over 100,000 people and only 45 minutes from Barcelona, Girona is home to a well-preserved Jewish quarter, ancient winding streets, and a walkable medieval city wall. Throw in lots of green space, colorful buildings, and perfect weather, Girona is one of my favorite places in Spain.

Girona is more famous today thanks to Game of Thrones being filmed there but this tiny city only 30 minutes from Barcelona remains somewhat off the beaten track and free of the crowds that make Barcelona unbearable sometimes. There’s good food, lots to do, and lovely people. I can’t sing the city’s praises enough.

To help you make the most of your trip, here are my top things to see and do in Girona:

1. Explore the Old Quarter


Girona’s Old Quarter (Barri Vell) sits beside the River Onyar. This neighborhood is home to some of Girona’s most popular and well-preserved historical sites. Filled with medieval architecture, colorful old homes, and picturesque bridges but without the crowds of Barcelona, this is my favorite area to wander around.

You can explore it yourself and enjoy getting lost, but before also check out the tours Girona Walks offers, so you can learn more about this section of town and how it has evolved over the centuries.
 

2. Marvel at the Cathedral of Girona


Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona towers over the city. It’s the second widest church in the world, almost 23m (75 feet) across — only St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is wider. (It was also featured in Game of Thrones!)

The interior isn’t particularly ornate and has a bit of an austere feel to it, but it’s peaceful, and there’s a lot of information and a good audio guide available.

Plaça de la Catedral, +34 972 42 71 89, catedraldegirona.cat. Open 10am–6:30pm, April–June; 10am–7:30pm, July–August; 10am–6:30pm, September–October; 10am–5:30pm, November–March. Admission is 7 EUR ($7.70 USD). Dress respectfully, as it is a place of worship.
 

3. Tour the Arab Baths


These preserved public baths were built in 1194. Their Romanesque style was inspired by similar Roman and Arab baths and was built in response to ancient Girona’s growing population and the need to improve hygiene.

While you can’t actually use the baths, you can take a self-guided tour to see what bathing was like in the Middle Ages. The building is covered by a large vaulted ceiling and includes a cold-water bath, a hot-water bath, and changing rooms.

Carrer del Rei Ferran el Catòlic, +34 972 21 32 62, banysarabs.org. Open Monday–Saturday 10am–6pm and Sundays 10am–2pm. Admission is 2 EUR ($2.20 USD).
 

4. Stroll Along the Eiffel Bridge


The Palanques Vermelles Bridge, also known as the Eiffel Bridge, was built in 1827 by Gustave Eiffel just before the construction of his most famous work, the Eiffel Tower. Located over the Onyar River, it’s a great place to get some pics of the Old Town’s colorful buildings. I try to cross this bridge often, simply because the view is so nice!

5. Learn Something New at One of Girona’s Many Museums


For a small city, Girona is home to quite a few museums and art galleries. Here some I think you shouldn’t miss:

  • The Jewish History Museum – The museum is made up of 11 exhibitions that explore the history and culture of the region’s Jewish community, which was one of the biggest in the area. Admission is 4 EUR ($4.40 USD).
  • Girona’s Art Museum – This has the region’s largest collection of Romanesque and Gothic art (over 8,000 items). It’s huge! Admission is 6 EUR ($6.60 USD).
  • The Cinema Museum – This museum covers the history of cinema and is filled with old posters, films, and movie equipment. It also hosts regular events and movie screenings. A must for movie buffs! Admission is 5 EUR ($5.50 USD).
  • The Girona Archaeology Museum – This is one of the oldest museums in the region and boasts a collection of archeological finds from pre-history all the way to the Middle Ages. Though small, it goes into some good detail about the area. Admission is 6 EUR ($6.60 USD).

 

6. Tour the Basilica de Sant Feliu


This historic Gothic cathedral is eye-catching and hard to miss. It almost looks like a castle. Its bell tower is visible from most spots around Girona, so it’s never far from view.

It was the first cathedral in Girona and remained the only one until the 10th century. Beyond the impressive architecture, the cathedral is home to historic works of art, including a 14th-century sculpture of Christ, as well as Christian and non-Christian sarcophagi that date back to the fourth century.

Plaça de la Catedral, +34 972 427 189, catedraldegirona.org. Open Monday–Saturday 10am–5:30pm, Sunday and holidays 1pm–5:30pm. Admission is 7 EUR ($7.70 USD).
 

7. Visit the Monastery of Saint Daniel


Founded in the 11th century, this monastery located on the outskirts of town was created with the intention of establishing a nunnery in the region. While the abbey is no longer in use, you can still visit the church and the cloister. Inside, you’ll find Saint Daniel’s sepulcher, rumored to house the remains of the saint himself. The architecture is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic, with additions from the 12th and 15th centuries.

The monastery is surrounded by the Valley of Sant Daniel, a lush green space with lots of shade and picturesque natural springs.
 

8. Walk Atop Girona’s Ancient City Wall


Dating to Girona’s medieval past, these ancient walls were partially destroyed in the 1800s to make way for city expansion. Fortunately, many of the missing pieces have been recovered or reconstructed in recent times. Taking a stroll atop them offers an unbeatable view of both the city and the countryside’s rolling hills. Plus, they’re free!
 

9. Stroll La Rambla de la Llibertat


Lined by gorgeous neoclassical, baroque, and Gothic buildings, this is the main pedestrian street in town. The street dates back to 1885 and is full of shops, cafés, and restaurants. There’s also a flower market on Saturdays.
 

10. Indulge at Rocambolesc


This is one of the best gelaterias I’ve ever been to! Owned by world-class chef Jordi Roca, it’s a great spot to (over)indulge in delicious ice cream and gelato topped with berries, cotton candy, fruits, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, fudge, and so much more. I go there every time I visit (usually multiple times). It’s amazing and worth every euro!

50 Carrer de Santa Clara, +34 972 41 66 67, rocambolesc.com. Open Sunday-Tuesday from 11am-9pm and Friday-Saturday from 11am-10:30pm.

***

Girona’s long history, a unique and rich culture, so much delicious food, and stunning architecture. A lot of people make it a day trip from Barcelona but I’d recommend spending at least one night here. There’s plenty to keep you busy. I first visited here in 2012 and have been back a total of four times. I love Girona. Most people do. Make it part of your next trip to Spain.

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

Book Your Trip to Girona: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

  • Can Cocollona – This is the best hostel in the city. It’s social, includes free breakfast, and the beds are super comfy!

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!

If you want to do a bike tour, check out Fat Tire Tours. They offer tours that are fun and informative. They’re my favorite company to go with. They even have some food-themed tours too.

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

Photo Credit: 3 – Doronenko, 4 – Toni Verdú Carbó, 5 – Teresa Grau Ros, 6 – stefano Merli, 7 – Josep Maria Viñolas Esteva, 8 – Montse Poch, 9 – rivigan, 10 – Joan, 11 – Jordi Sanchez

The post 10 Things to See and Do in Girona, Spain appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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6 Best TEFL Courses for Teaching English Overseas

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Posted: 4/18/20 | April 18th, 2020

One of the best ways to make money overseas is to teach English. Dozens of countries all around the world are always on the hunt for qualified English teachers, providing a steady income for travelers looking to pad their bank account in between trips.

Of course, teaching English abroad is also a valuable, enriching job in and of itself. Not only do you get to enjoy expat life in a far-flung destination but you get to help a community and the people who live in it while gaining valuable work and life experience. It’s a win-win!

In order to find a teaching position abroad, you’ll need to take a TEFL course first. TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language.” It’s a certificate program that teaches you how to teach English as a foreign language. (While you can find jobs without a TEFL certificate, they will be few and far between.)

TEFL programs are offered online and in-person all around the world; prices vary depending on where you enroll. Just like there are thousands of universities that offer bachelor’s degrees, there are thousands of companies that offer a certificate called “TEFL.”

Since there can be a lot of competition for teaching positions, you’ll want to make sure you enroll in a reputable program that will teach you the skills you need — not only to find a job but to succeed at it.

To help you get started, I’ve made a list of the top six TEFL programs. Having taught overseas in both Thailand and Taiwan (and having studied to be a history teacher myself), I can tell you not all programs are created equal!

1. i-to-i

When it comes to online TEFL courses, i-to-i is one of the best. It’s a basic online TEFL course that gives you 120 hours of study and costs $139 USD, making it one of the most affordable on the market. If you’re not 100% sure teaching overseas is for you, this course would be the best for testing the waters.

i-to-i also offers a 180-hour course with additional content on teaching young students and teaching grammar (because let’s face it, most of us native speakers are terrible at grammar). It also has 300-hour courses, TESOL-equivalent courses, and more. (See below for more about TESOL.)

If you’re new to teaching and want to see if it’s for you, this is the company I’d suggest you start with — especially if you’re on a budget. That said, since it’s all online, you’ll need to make sure you have the self-discipline to put in the work.
 

2. TEFLPros

TEFLPros offers an online 120-hour course that includes 17 hours of in-class observation videos. Its platform is incredibly user friendly and includes quizzes, worksheets, assignments, and tips on lesson planning. It’s $349 USD.

This course has more video content than most others, so if you prefer learning that way, this is a good choice for you. Best of all, they offer a free trial of the course, so you can check it out before you commit.
 

3. myTEFL

This is another affordable (but reputable) TEFL program. myTEFL offers a standard 120-hour program for $299 USD. In addition to all the online lessons and assignments, myTEFL will also provide you with a letter of recommendation upon completion, as well as assist you with finding a job.

You’ll have three months to complete your course; however, you’ll also get an additional three months of access to the content so that you can use it as a resource once you start teaching. Super helpful when you’re still finding your legs as a teacher!

For 35% off the price of your course, use the code “matt35” at check out!
 

4. International TEFL Academy

If you’re looking for a TEFL course that features in-classroom training, the International TEFL Academy is probably the best on the market. This is the most thorough and interactive course that you can get without physically being in a classroom for four weeks.

The 170-hour online course is a fully interactive, collegiate-level course taught by a university-level professor. It comes with 150 hours of coursework and 20 hours of student teaching. The course takes about 11 weeks, and you can expect to spend 10-12 hours a week on your coursework. The course is $1,399 USD.

While it is interactive, it’s not taught in real-time, so you can log in at any time to take your classes and do your coursework. Just make sure you meet your weekly assignment deadlines!
 

5. Vantage

This 120-hour TEFL course is based in Thailand, making it a convenient option if you’re already traveling in Southeast Asia and are considering teaching English.

Vantage focuses on preparing you to teach in Thailand, though it also has a specific course for teaching in China that guarantees a job upon completion. If you’re looking to teach in either country, this is the best program for you.

Vantage offers both an in-person, four-week course and a hybrid course comprising both online training and an in-class practicum (in Bangkok). Prices start at $1,295 USD.

While expensive, in-classroom experience is invaluable. If you have the money, it’s a worthwhile investment.
 

6. International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT)

ITTT has a wide variety of online courses, ranging from a bare-bones 60-hour courses to comprehensive 470-hour courses. Its main 120-hour online TEFL course covers all the basics and costs $239 USD.

However, for an additional $110 USD, ITTT also offers the option of having a tutor to help you progress through the course. If you’re new to teaching and serious about finding a job, I’d suggest the tutor option. Having someone to help you progress through the course will ensure that you’ll get the most out of the course and better prepare you for the job ahead.
 

A Note on TESOL/CELTA Courses

In addition to the TEFL course, there are also TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) courses. These are essentially the same thing: programs focused on learning to teach English to adults. CELTA is Cambridge University’s branded version of the TESOL and the most in-depth (and most expensive) such course on the market.

Unless you specifically want to work with adults or are certain you want to start a career teaching English, I would stick with just taking a TEFL course. You can always upgrade later if you decide to continue teaching.
 

TEFL Frequently Asked Questions

How long are most TEFL courses?
Most TEFL courses are 120 hours long. They usually last a few weeks to a few months, depending on the schedule. While some courses can be shorter, employers prefer teachers with at least 100 hours of training.

Are TEFL courses done online or in-person?
Most TEFL courses are done online, though the best courses also include some in-person classroom time.

How much do TEFL courses cost?
TEFL courses start at around $150 USD and can cost as much as $2,000 USD, depending on how much in-class time is included.

Should I do a TESOL or CELTA course instead?
A TESOL or CELTA course is specifically for those looking to teach English to adults. Unless you specifically want to teach adults or are looking to start a career (rather than having just a temporary job), I would stick with a TEFL course.

That said, some TESOL courses are essentially the same as TEFL courses and they are marketed together. For those courses, either a TEFL or TESOL will suffice since the course content is the same.

CELTA courses, however, are much more intensive and expensive, usually $2,000-2,800 USD. They are specifically for teaching adults.

Do I need a bachelor’s degree?
Having a degree is necessary for some TEFL programs, but not all of them. However, it will give you an advantage in the hiring process and when negotiating a salary.

***

Whether you’re looking to earn money to travel or want to start a new career, teaching English provides amazing opportunities for travel as well as personal and professional development.

By investing in a TEFL course you’ll be much better positioned to get hired in a country of your choosing. Not only that but you’ll have the skills and confidence to succeed on a day-to-day basis.

Teaching English abroad is an incredibly rewarding job and one that I’ve found enriches your travels. I can’t recommend it enough!

 

Ready to Teach Overseas? Get My Comprehensive Guide!

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

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post 6 Best TEFL Courses for Teaching English Overseas appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to Teach English in Japan

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A classroom of empty desk in Japan
Posted: 4/18/20 | April 20th, 2020

Japan is one of the best places in the world to teach English. It’s home to incredible food, a rich culural history, high quality of living, and world-class cities like historic Kyoto and eclectic Tokyo.

I absolutely loved all my time in Japan.

It’s just one of the best places in the world.

And there are plenty of teaching opportunities here too for anyone looking for a new career or an opportunity to live overseas. The bulk of the teaching opportunities in Japan are run by big companies that have positions open all the time, including large chains, smaller companies, and business English classes.

To teach English in Japan, you need to be a native English speaker from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, or the UK and have a bachelor’s degree. You’ll also need to complete a 120-hour TEFL or CELTA certificate.

You don’t need to have any teaching experience, but the higher-paying jobs are competitive so any experience will be helpful when it comes to securing a good job.

Here are the main teaching opportunities you can expect to find in Japan:
 

Public Schools

One of the easiest ways to get a job teaching at public schools is through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) or job placement companies like Interac. These programs employ you as an assistant language teacher (ALT) working alongside a Japanese teacher. (If you go through JET, you’re placed in communities for one year.)

If you find a job without going through JET, you’ll be in classes with up to 40 kids. You are provided textbooks to work from and are responsible for coming up with activities to accompany the teacher’s lesson plans. The workweek is 8am to either 4pm or 5pm, Monday through Friday. There are four classes per day.

Unlike private schools, you are responsible for paying your health premiums and contributing to your pension fund. Vacations are typically unpaid.

If you are employed through a job placement company, you can expect to earn around 230,000 JPY ($2,125 USD) per month. By comparison, the JET program pays closer to 300,000 JPY ($2,770 USD) per month. Benefits include your flights to and from Japan, paid national holidays, and 10 paid vacation days.

Keep in mind the JET Programme application process is long. There is a lot of paperwork and you must attend an in-person interview in your home country. However, it’s worth the effort since there are more perks, better pay, and you’re guaranteed a teaching position if accepted.
 

Private Schools

Private schools in Japan are known as eikaiwa. Typically, these companies host job fairs in English-speaking countries, where most people apply.

Here, you’ll be teaching small classes and using a curriculum from textbooks designed for students to pass Japan’s ESL (English as a Second Language) exams. Your main work aside from following the curriculum is to create and grade tests. You’re also expected to meet with students after hours and tutor them as needed.

If you teach at a private school, be prepared for longer hours than in other teaching jobs: 5–7 days a week, including weekends, nights, and holidays.

Depending on the company you go through, you can make as much as 275,000 JPY ($2,538 USD) per month. Benefits can include annual leave (usually unpaid), health and pension insurance, the cost of flights, and your visa fees, as well as a small bonus when you complete your yearly contract.
 

International Schools

As in other countries, teaching jobs at international schools are competitive because they offer the most in terms of salaries and benefits. You’ll need experience and to be a fully accredited teacher in your home country. Teaching at these schools is going to be like teaching at a school in your home country.

Benefits include your flight to Japan, a retirement plan, paid vacation, paid developmental courses, generous housing assistance, and more. Salaries range widely depending on the school — from 200,000 to 600,00 JPY ($1,846–5,538 USD) per month. But, generally, these are the best-paid teaching jobs in the country.
 

Language Academies

If you want to work with people of varying ages, language academies are an option. Students in these academies are there because they want to learn English — not because it is required — so they are dedicated and work hard.

Hours at language academies vary. Expect to work nights and weekends, as during the usual work week, students are in school or at their jobs. You’ll also need to come up with fun activities to teach English. Pay is around 3,800 JPY ($35 USD) an hour and usually doesn’t include any benefits.

 

Universities

Teaching positions at Japanese universities require more qualifications than other such jobs teaching English. You must have a master’s degree, a higher-level certification, and some years of teaching experience.

The hours, however, are far less — you’ll only work between 10 and 15 hours a week, in addition to class preparation and grading.

Your salary will be commensurate with your experience, ranging between 300,000-600,000 JPY ($2,769–5,538 USD) per month. Benefits include up to three months of vacation,

 

Best Job Resources

There are numerous sites to find jobs teaching English in Japan:

 

***

Teaching English in Japan is popular because of the ease of employment and higher standard of living. Thanks to dispatch companies and other programs, job placement is not difficult. Benefits can be fantastic, and you get to work with students who are typically well behaved and want to learn.

And to top it all off, Japan is an amazing country! As a teacher here, you’ll get to experience the culture and explore everything this incredible island nation has to offer. There is a tight-knit expat community here as well that can help you adjust and make the most out of your time teaching English in Japan.

Ready to Teach Overseas? Get My Comprehensive Guide!

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

Book Your Trip to Japan: 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 most comprehensive inventory so they are best for booking a hostel. If you want to stay in a hotel or guesthouse in Japan, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

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

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

Be sure to check out the Japan Rail Pass if you’ll be traveling around the country. It comes in 7-, 14-, and 21-day passes and can save you a ton of money!

Looking for more travel tips for Japan
Check out my in-depth Japan travel guide for more ways to save money, costs, tips on what to see and do, suggested itineraries, reading, packing lists, and much, much more!

Photo credit: 1 – scarletgreen

The post How to Teach English in Japan appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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