Category: Blog

Is Brazil Safe to Visit?

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The stunning view overlooking the city of Rio in Brazil
Posted: 7/13/2019 | July 13th, 2019

Offering pristine nature and access to the Amazon rainforest, historic cities and colonial architecture, and lots of affordable food and activities, Brazil will have some something for every traveler.

A popular destination for revelers looking to party hard at Carnival as well as a hot spot for adventure junkies and beachgoers, Brazil is a country known for its amazing weather and pristine landscapes.

But is it safe?

Brazil has a reputation for being a rough and tumble destination, one where travelers need to be extra cautious and on their guard at all times.

Due to rising inequality, unfortunately, this is the case. Petty theft and street crime are a common occurrence in Brazil. The crime rate in Brazil has been on the rise for many years now (it was up almost 50% between 2015 and 2016) so travelers here will need to be on vigilant

But that doesn’t mean you should avoid the country. You just need to be a smart traveler. Millions of people visit the country every year and don’t have a problem. As long as you follow the suggested safety tips, you’ll minimize the likelihood anything bad will happen to you!

Here is everything you need to know to stay safe and make the most out of your next trip to Brazil.

 

13 Safety Tips for Brazil

To help you stay safe in Brazil, here are 13 tips that will keep both you and your possessions out of harm’s way:

1. Walk with purpose – When out exploring, always walk with purpose. Look like you’re heading somewhere in specific, even if you’re not. Pickpockets and muggers look for travelers who are unsure of themselves. Don’t look like a target.

2. Don’t carry cash – Carry only the minimum cash needed for the day. Keep the rest locked up back in your accommodation.

3. Separate your cards – If you have more than one credit or debit card, keep them separate. Bring one with you for the day (if you think you’ll need it) and leave the other one locked up in your room. That way, should something happen, you always have at least one card.

4. Don’t bring valuables to the beach – When you go to the beach, don’t take anything unnecessary. Towel, bathing suit, and a small amount of cash. That’s it! Anything else you bring is likely to disappear!

5. Dress to fit in – When out and about, dress down and try to fit in. Leave any valuables or jewelry at home. Don’t walk around flashing your camera or phone. If you need to use them, be discreet.

6. Carry a spare wallet – Bring a spare wallet with a small amount of cash in it. That way, if you get robbed or pickpocketed they won’t get your real wallet (where you’ll keep the rest of your cash and cards).

7. Avoid outdoor ATMs – If you need to withdraw cash, only use ATMs inside buildings. Always be aware of your surroundings before you take out your wallet.

8. Double check your accommodation – No matter where you are staying, be sure to check the doors and windows before leaving for the day and before settling in at night. Don’t leave anything valuable lying around your room; lock everything up.

9. Don’t accept free food/drinks – Never accept drinks or food from strangers. Drugging victims before they are robbed is common, so decline free food or drinks from strangers.

10. Watch out for distractions – Thieves will often try to distract you before they rob you. Be mindful of this common scam to help you stay vigilant.

Don’t walk around at night alone – If you have to, avoid city beaches, parks, and empty streets.

11. Take precautions when driving – If traveling by car, always keep your doors locked. By on guard at stop signs or red lights, especially at night. Many Brazilians won’t even stop for them to avoid the risk of a carjacking. Buy travel insurance before you go just in case you run into trouble. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Is Street Food in Brazil Safe?

Yep! You’ll find all sorts of amazing street food stands in cities like Rio as well as near the beaches and you’d be missing out if you didn’t try them! Just make sure to stick to places where there are a lot of locals gathered. That’s how you know the food is not only safe but delicious too!

I’d suggest avoiding anything with shrimp of seafood as it spoils quickly. But definitely try the mate as it can be quite refreshing (it’s served as an ice tea and is really good).

For the most part, you’ll encounter places that sell various kinds of meat. As long as it is fully cooked and hasn’t been in the sun all day, dive in and give it a try!

Don’t hesitate to ask your hotel or hostel staff for street food or restaurant suggestions too. They’ll no doubt have some delicious — and safe — options for you to try.
 

Is the Tap Water in Brazil Safe?

The water in Brazil is generally safe to drink, though most Brazilians still use filters or drink bottled water. The tap water generally has something of an odd taste, due to the purification process, so while it’s fine for brushing your teeth, it can taste odd if you’re just drinking it when you’re thirsty.

If staying in a hostel or Airbnb you’ll likely have access to a filter but it’s always a good idea to bring your own as well. Lifestraw and Steripen are two great products to help keep your water safe and potable.
 

Are Taxis in Brazil Safe?

Taxis in Brazil are safe and plentiful. They use meters as well, though it’s always a good idea to ask your hotel or hostel staff for an approximate fare before you head out. There are always a few bad apples who will try to rip you off, so just be sure to pay attention to the meter and make sure it isn’t rising abnormally quick.

Also, it’s always best to call your taxi in advance. Never flag a taxi on the street (this is especially true at night).
 

Is Brazil Safe for Solo Travelers?

Brazil is safe for solo travelers, though I would only suggest solo travelers visit here if they have some experience traveling solo already. By following the tips above, solo travelers will be able to have an amazing time in Brazil while staying safe.

If you are concerned as a solo traveler, try to meet-up with other travelers at hostels. Traveling together, you can keep each other company and deter any potential petty theft or robberies.
 

Is Brazil Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Brazil faces real issues of poverty and crime so solo female travelers will need to be on guard. This is not a destination for new travelers and I would only suggest solo female travelers visit here if they are experienced solo travelers. Even then, you’ll want to make sure you take every precaution that you can.

Check with your hostel or hotel staff to find out if you should avoid any specific areas. Also, learn as much as the local language as you can so you don’t stand out.
***
So, is Brazil Safe?

Brazil is an amazing, vibrant country. But it’s not without its risks. Travelers here will need to be on guard and keep their wits about them. Petty theft and muggings are common, but if you follow the tips above you should be able to have an incredible visit while still staying safe.

Trust your gut, use common sense, and make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance. Do that, and you’ll be able to stay safe in Brazil have a memorable visit to this energetic country.

Heading to Brazil? Use the widget below to get a free travel insurance quote from World Nomads! That’s the company I’ve been using since I started traveling back in 2003!

Book Your Trip to Brazil: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

  • Discovery Hostel (Rio) – This award-winning hostel has everything the budget backpacker needs: a full-equipped kitchen, patio, lounge, and tons of social activities. It’s a great place to meet other travelers!
  • Geckos Hostel (Florianopolis) – This ec-friendly hostel is powered by solar panels and has a rustic charm to it. They have a pool and lots of room to lounge and relax. It’s a great hostel for chilling out and soaking up the sun.

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!

Looking for more information on visiting Brazil?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Brazil with more tips on what to see, do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

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





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11 Travel Podcasts That Will Give You Serious Wanderlust

Posted By : webmaster/ 3 0


A pair of headphones on a bright orange background
Posted: 7/12/2019 | July 12th, 2019

I love podcasts. As someone who travels often, they’re a great way to stay informed and entertained while you’re on the go. To help me highlight some of the best podcasts in the industry, I’ve invited Debbie from The Offbeat Life to share her favorites. She’s a podcaster herself and knows what it takes to run a great travel podcast!

Podcasts have exploded in popularity in recent years, especially in the travel niche. After all, who doesn’t love to travel?

Unique travel stories, helpful tips, information on creating a nomadic lifestyle, and inspiration on the go — there are podcasts for them all!

I started my own podcast, The Offbeat Life, to discuss the stories of the people I met during my travels who were able to become location independent and create their ideal lifestyle. I was in awe of their adventurous nature and wanted to inspire myself and others to follow in their footsteps, take more chances, and learn what it takes to create a balanced life.

As a podcaster and traveler, I often look to other podcasts for inspiration. To help you get inspired for your next trip or your foray into nomadic life, here are the 11 best travel podcasts of 2019!

1. The Thought Card

Hosted by Danielle Desir, this podcast focuses on world travel, paying off debt, and building wealth. Danielle gives her audience the confidence to make smart financial decisions that will allow them to accomplish both their travel and financial goals.

Where to Start: Give the episode with Denis O’Brien a listen. He is the founder of Chain of Wealth and shares his tips on how to create passive income.

2. JUMP

Formerly known as the Budget-Minded Traveler, Traveling Jackie inspires others to get out and see the world through travel and adventure. She provides valuable, actionable information that will allow you to take the leap and explore.

Where to Start: Check out her interview with the Bensons, a family of five who were able to travel the world after they sold all their belongings. They explain the impact of travel on their lives and how it changed them upon returning home.

3. Andy Steves Travel Podcast

This podcast features wanderers from all over the world who highlight how travel has affected their perspectives, habits, and lives.

Where to Start: Listen to the episode, Cagefighting in Peru with Rollie Peterkin, who left a secure 9-to-5 job to become a mixed martial arts fighter! His inspiring story is full of wonderful anecdotes and practical tips that you will find both informative and entertaining.

4. Chronicles Abroad

Hosts Nubia Younge and Frantzce Lys highlight their experiences living abroad as well as those of others who took risks to live their dream to be location independent.

Where to Start: Don’t miss the episode with Yan and Lee, a couple who decided to pay off their debts and live abroad. They had graduated from college but found it difficult to find jobs in the United States, so they took matters into their own hands — they got jobs overseas!

5. Extra Pack of Peanuts

This is a great podcast for travelers who want to stay on a budget while on the road. Travis, who hosts the show, interviews nomads, bloggers, and entrepreneurs who give insight and firsthand tips on how to embark on your own affordable adventures.

Where to Start: Give the “7 Lessons Learned” episode with Travis and Heather a listen. They share what they have learned from living a location independent life for seven years.

6. On She Goes

This is a wonderful podcast that helps women of color become more confident travelers, giving them the tools they need to take the leap and see the world. The interviewees share fresh perspectives and shed light on their travel experiences and challenges.

Where to Start: Listen to the episode with Georgina Miranda, the founder of She Ventures and an adventure travel expert. Georgina discusses her experiences working in a male-dominated industry.

7. Women on the Road

This biweekly podcast dives into the life of solo female travelers who are living the #vanlife. Host Laura Hughes interviews these fearless women and creates a unique spin on their nomadic lifestyle.

Where to Start: A listener favorite is an interview with Abbi Hearne, an adventure wedding photographer. From practical tips to the challenges she has faced in building her dream business, Abbi’s story will inspire you to start making your own dreams a reality.

8. As Told by Nomads

Host Tayo Rockson features incredible stories from individuals who are nomads and entrepreneurs, with a focus on leaders in business, culture, travel, and global affairs.

Where to Start: Check out the episode with Zahra Rasool, who discusses authenticity, diversity, and collaborative journalism in storytelling.

9. Wild Ideas Worth Living

Host and journalist Shelby Stranger interviews impactful explorers, experts, and entrepreneurs who have taken their wild ideas and made them into a reality, people who have climbed the tallest mountains, written best-selling books, and stood up for what they believe in.

Where to Start: Start listening to this incredible podcast’s interview with Alex Honnold, the most recognized climber in the world and the first person to ever free-solo El Capitan.

10. The Globetrotter Lounge

This podcast is hosted by Jet Set Lisette, an award-winning travel expert and host. Lisette interviews amazing and inspiring women who have found creative ways to travel the world.

Where to Start: Be sure to check out the episode with Jess Sanchez, who shares her experiences traveling the world with her family. Jess and her husband decided to leave their 9-to-5 to embark on a life of travel with their two young children and have chronicled their life through their blog, YouTube channel, and podcast.

11. The Offbeat Life

Hosted by me, this podcast highlights the stories of digital nomads and location-independent entrepreneurs. It digs deep into the realities of starting a remote business and how to create a sustainable nomadic lifestyle.

Where to Start: To get started, jump into my episode with Joni Sweet. She is a remote writer and gives valuable insights on surviving as a freelancer. She also discusses how to build a portfolio that will land you writing gigs that can take you all over the world!

***

Now that you have the list of the best travel podcasts, go ahead: download them and satiate your wanderlust! You may even feel inspired to book a ticket and leap into the unknown!

Debbie Arcangeles is the host of The Offbeat Life, a podcast that highlights individuals who are location independent and nomadic entrepreneurs. Her podcast has been featured on Refinery 29 and Mic, among other sites. When Debbie is not writing or interviewing guests for her show, you can find her hiking and exploring new destinations.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post 11 Travel Podcasts That Will Give You Serious Wanderlust appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Best Walking Tours in Paris

Posted By : webmaster/ 8 0


The Arc de Triomphe against a bright blue sky in Paris, France
Posted: 7/8/2019 | July 8th, 2019

I love visiting Paris. I’ve been going there for over nine years and have yet to tire of the history, the charm, or the food (and wine!).

Over the years, I’ve taken a million different tours of this amazing city to learn more about what makes it tick. For four months earlier this year, I lived in Paris, and had the opportunity to check out even more walking tours.

And there were a lot to check out!

There are dozens upon dozens of companies covering all aspects of life in Paris, and it can be hard to make a sense of all those endless Viator and Tripadvisor listings. It’s obscene how many tour companies there are. (I mean I’ve tried so many tour companies and I STILL have more on my list to try (and some to retry).)

But, I still feel like I’ve done enough to warrant a post on some of the best walking tour companies in Paris, so, today, I want to share with you my top favorites:

1. New Europe Tours

The crowded steps of Sacre Coeur atop Montmartre in Paris, France
New Europe is one of the most popular free walking tour companies in all of Europe. Their main free tour takes you around the center of Paris and gives you a historical overview of the city. They also run a good (but paid) tour of Montmartre, and they have a really fun pub crawl as well if you’re looking to hit the bars with other travelers.

The basic tour will last around three hours and is free, though you’ll want to tip your guides. Some tours cost 15-35 EUR per person.

—> Click here to book your tour with New Europe!

2. City Free Tour

The sun shining over the historic Pantheon in Paris, France
This free-tour company, like New Europe, offers a couple great general tours to help you get familiar with the City of Light, led by a local expert who can answer your questions. They also offer a few specialized tours so you can really focus on different neighborhoods. For example, the Montmartre tour does a great job of showing you just what life is like in this famous bohemian neighborhood, while the Latin Quarter tour highlights some of the most famous landmarks in town.

Tours are free and last around three hours. Just be sure to tip! Private tours are available upon request for an additional fee.

—> Click here to book your tour with City Free Tour!

3. Discover Walks

Tourists exploring the exterior of the Louvre in Paris, France
Discover Walks offers free walking tours, as well as paid options if you’re looking for something more focused and in-depth. With almost 30 tours on offer in Paris, chances are you’ll be able to find something to pique your interest. They have a great free tour of the Latin Quarter, and there’s even a vegetarian and gluten-free food tour! For something more unique, try the photography tour.

Free tours last around 90 minutes. A recommended tip of 13 EUR is suggested. For the paid tour options, prices start at 25 EUR per person.

—> Click here to book your tour with Discover Walks!

4. Localers

Walking down a path surrouned by trees near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Localers are a great choice if you’re looking for a unique tour option and want something more nuanced than just a free walking tour. They tend to specialize in more niche tours like literary, art or historical tours. I enjoyed their tours a lot. I hadn’t heard of them before I moved here and was bummed their tours had flown under my radar for so long.

The World War II tour is particularly insightful and does a great job of illuminating the war’s true cost to Paris. I also really liked the Scandalous Paris tour, which highlights Paris’ brothels and more colorful past. There’s also an insightful literary tour too that takes you through the literary history of the city’s left bank. This is a solid mid-range tour company for travelers looking for value.

Tours last 2-5 hours. Tickets start at 58 EUR per person.

—> Click here to book your tour with Localers!

5. Context Travel

The ornate golden gates of the Palace of Versailles near Paris, France surrounded by tourists
Context Travel hires experts in their fields so that every tour is an incredible educational experience and you’ll go much deeper than any free walking tour does. I am always shocked by how much I learn! I particularly love the Paris Market Tour and the Versailles Tour (which is four hours long, but you learn a ton). Context isn’t cheap, and the tours are usually long — but they’re worth every penny if you’re serious about really learning a lot.

Tours start at 100 EUR per person. They include a maximum of six people at a time.

—> Click here to book your tour with Context!

6. Walks

The empty courtyard of Les Invalides in Paris, France
What makes Walks amazing is that they get better access than most tour companies and hire specialized guides. You get to skip the line, go before or after other tours so you have the space to yourself, and get fun guides who are knowledgeable in their field. They also have a nine-hour full-day tour of the city for anyone looking to really explore (it’s a great option if you’re short on time but still want to see everything).

Their tours are reasonably priced, and their guides always know their stuff. I’ve gone on three of their tours and loved them all.

Most tours last 2-3 hours, though some take the entire day. Tickets start at 55 EUR per person.

—> Click here to book your tour with Walks!

7. Fat Tire Tours

A single Fat Tire Tour bicycle parked on the sidewalk in Paris, France
Offering cycling tours of Paris, Fat Tire Tours are probably the best bike tour in town. I don’t think I’d go with anyone else. Their bike tours are the best. Do their Versailles tour – and try to do it on Sunday or Tuesday when they stop at the market that is open then) and, if you can, check out their Monet’s Garden tour where you can cycle around the gardens of the famous impressionist while exploring the charming village of Giverny.

Most tours last 2-3 hours, though there are several full-day options available too. Tickets start at 34 EUR per person.

—> Click here to book your tour with Fat Tire Tours!

8. Paris by Mouth

A delicious plate of local food in Paris, France
Paris by Mouth company offers a handful of neighborhood tours that highlight the best food in Paris. The groups are kept small (no more than eight people) and they are really focused on providing a lot of information on food, history, and culture. It’s like a mini-class more than it is a chance to just eat food (though you do that too).

The tours aren’t super budget friendly but if you’re looking for a really detailed food tour, this company would be it. And if you’re a diehard fan of French cheese like I am, they also have an entire workshop just for cheese. It’s amazing.

Tours usually last around three hours. Tickets start at 110 EUR per person.

—> Click here to book your tour with Paris By Mouth!

9. Secret Food Tours

A display case full of colorful macaroons in Paris, France
While not the cheapest, Secret Food Tours offers neighborhood-specific food tours. They also have a dangerously delicious pastry and chocolate tour that will take you around to half a dozen bakeries and shops to give you a firsthand experience of Paris’s love of decadent desserts. You’ll get A LOT of food during the tour, so come hungry. Be sure to avoid Monday tours, when most markets are closed and you end up just eating in one location instead of going from shop to shop.

Tours last 2-3 hours. Tickets start at 89 EUR per person. They can sell out weeks in advance, so be sure to reserve early!

—> Click here to book your tour with Secret Food Tour!

10. Eating Europe

Bakers working in a popular cafe in Paris, France
Eating Europe’s Paris food tour, Hip Eats and Backstreets, is one of the most sought-after food tours in town. You’ll have the opportunity to try some of the best foods in Paris while also getting to chat with the chefs and entrepreneurs who have brought the dishes to life. It’s not just a tour where you get to eat amazing food but rather an experience during which you’ll learn about the culinary traditions and innovations firsthand from local artisans. It’s the perfect tour for any die-hard foodies.

Tours last four hours and they depart at 12:30pm Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets are 95 EUR per person.

—> Click here to book your tour with Eating Europe!

11. Street Art Tour Paris

A large street art portrait painted on a wall in Paris, France
For an insider, niche tour about Paris’s art scene, check out Street Art Tour Paris. Their guides are all artists and will take you around various neighborhoods to show you the best and most interesting works of street art (and murals) that Paris has to offer. They also have a tour that focuses exclusively on female artists.

Tours operate 2-3 times per week based on interest (usually on the weekends) and last around 2.5 hrs. Tickets start at 20 EUR per person.

—> Click here to book your tour with Street Art Tour Paris!

12. Paris Bar Crawl

The patio of a busy bar a night in Paris, France
If you’re looking for a more rambunctious way to spend an evening, head out on a pub crawl. Paris Bar Crawl is one of the most popular ones (it tends to be just for tourists and visiting students though). You’ll meet a bunch of new people while seeing what nightlife in Paris is all about. The tour visits three bars and one club.

Tours start at 8:30pm Thursday-Saturday and last until you decide to go home! Tickets are 15 EUR per person and include three shots as well as admission to a club.

—> Click here to book your tour with Paris Bar Crawl!

***

Walking tours are a great way to get below the surface of Paris. Every time I visit, I always make sure to try a new one. Having an expert guide to answer your questions while providing in-depth, local knowledge is the best way to deepen your experience as a traveler.

These walking tour companies are the best in Paris and will be able to provide you with the insight and information you need to really make the most out of your next visit to this incredible city.

Book Your Trip to Paris: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

  • St. Christopher’s Canal – Comfy spot on the canal. During the summer months, the terrace is hopping!
  • 3 Ducks Hostel – This hostel has one of the cheapest bars in the city, and it’s just a 10-minute walk to the Eiffel Tower.
  • Les Piaules – Fantastic chimney lounge, a cool bar, and a rooftop space. It’s a great place to meet people!

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!

Looking for more information on visiting Paris?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Paris with more tips on what to see, do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

Photo Credit: 8 – David McKelvey, 11 – Bex Waltn, 12 – Jeanne Menjoulet, 13 – Thomas Sauzedde

The post The Best Walking Tours in Paris appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Is Central America Safe to Visit?

Posted By : webmaster/ 9 0


The small and colorful buildings of Central America
Posted: 7/6/2019 | July 6th, 2019

Central America is one of my favorite regions for backpacking. While it can be challenging to get around, it also offers incredible beauty, abundant nature, picturesque beaches, and affordable prices.

Political upheaval and civil unrest kept tourists at bay for a long time, however. But these days the area has developed into something of a hotspot for travelers, surfers, and retirees.

Why?

Because Central America has something for everyone!

But is it safe?

Yes — but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to take precautions.

In this post, I’ll go over everything you need to know to stay safe and have an amazing trip in this incredibly diverse region!

What Countries are in Central America?

There are seven countries in Central America:

Click on the map for country guides:

Central America Placeholder
Central America

8 Important Safety Tips for Central America

While Central America is considered generally safe for traveling and backpacking, there’s no denying that some precautions should be taken.

  • Be aware of your surroundings – It can be easy to stop paying attention and let your guard down. But that’s when disaster strikes. Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid isolated areas – If you’re somewhere isolated, you’ll be at a greater risk for getting robbed, especially at night and in big cities. Try to stay where the crowds are. That’s the best way to avoid being singled out by potential muggers.
  • Don’t wear flashy items – Petty theft is the most common threat here, so remove any jewelry or watches, and don’t wave your phone around. Do your best to blend in, so you don’t become a target for pickpockets.
  • Separate your cash – Keep only the money that you need for the day on you. Keep the rest locked away safely at your accommodation.
  • Take taxis at night – If you need to get somewhere at night, take a taxi. It will be safer than any public transportation. Have your accommodation call the taxi for you, so you can be sure you’re getting a reputable driver.
  • Be careful on public transit – If you have to take public transit, keep your valuables on you and keep them well secured, especially on chicken buses (colorful, modified, and decorated buses that transport goods and people). Petty theft is common on night buses, so avoid them if you can.
  • Don’t do drugs – The cartels here have really made life difficult for the local population. Don’t support them by buying their products. Drug penalties are also harsh in the region, and you don’t want to end up in jail here!
  • Buy travel insurance – Travel insurance will keep you protected if you get injured or ill, are a victim of theft, or have to deal with delayed or canceled flights. It’s a worthwhile investment and can save you thousands of dollars. Don’t risk traveling without it!

At the end of the day, you’ll just need to always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought and seems unsafe, get out of there and find a new place to stay. You have every right to remove yourself from such situations, so do what you need to do to feel safe.

What is the Northern Triangle? Is it Safe?

The Northern Triangle comprises Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. It’s the region of Central America that traditionally (and currently) has the most crime and violence. This is usually concentrated in the larger cities, and particularly in specific neighborhoods. If you’re going to be in the capital cities of any of these three countries, you’ll want to talk to your hostel or hotel staff for the most up-to-date safety advice.

That being said, if you’re visiting tourist areas or going on nature excursions, then you won’t have any issues here as long as you follow the safety advice above.

What is the Safest Country in Central America?

Costa Rica, which provides safety and stability alongside incredible natural beauty. Of course, prices are also much higher and reflect the country’s status as “the Switzerland of Central America.”

If you’re new to backpacking and want to start off somewhere that offers a good mix of adventure and safety, go for Costa Rica. It was the first country I ever backpacked in, and I absolutely loved it!

In terms of safety, the next best place is Panama. It’s home to a growing community of expats and retirees, which is giving the country an economic boost and making it a bit more gringo friendly. That means you’ll be able to get lots of great tips and suggestions (including specific, local safety tips) from the expat community while still having yourself an adventure.

Coming in strong behind Panama is Belize. It does a great job of balancing safety with plenty of things to see and do!

Is Central America Safe for Solo Travelers?

Central America is quite safe for solo travelers. As long as you avoid isolated areas and don’t travel alone at night, you’ll be able to avoid the most common issues tourists face, such as petty crime.

If you’re worried that you won’t feel safe, try to join a group of other travelers or invite people from your hostel to join you when you go out. That way, you’ll be able to feel safe while also getting to connect with other people.

As a solo traveler, be sure to scan your passport and other important documents and email them to yourself in case you do happen to run into trouble.

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

Is Central America Safe for Solo Female Travelers in Particular?

Solo female travelers will need to be more on guard during their time in Central America. Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize are the safest countries in the region. If you’re new solo female travel, stick to these countries.

Outside of those three countries, I’d suggest new solo female travelers stick to group travel or tours, just to be safe. However, experienced solo female travelers should be able to navigate the region without too much additional concern.

Women should be extra careful in large cities, though, especially at night. Beyond that, as long as you follow the usual precautions, you’ll be able to have an amazing time!

Are Taxis Safe in Central America?

The taxis in Central America are safe and reliable, though you’ll always want to make sure you’re getting in marked taxi. Never get in an unmarked car.

During the day, you can hail a taxi from the street safely, but you’ll want to be aware of the local custom, as some countries’ taxis use meters and others require you to negotiate a price in advance.

If taking a taxi at night, have your accommodation call it for you. Never hail a random taxi at night.

Can You Eat the Street Food in Central America?

You bet you can! You’ll find all sorts of amazing street food stands and local restaurants in Central America, and you’d be missing out if you didn’t try them! Just make sure to stick to places where there are a lot of locals gathered. That’s how you know the food is not only safe but delicious too!

For the most part, you’ll encounter places that sell various kinds of chicken. As long as it is fully cooked (not pink on the inside) and hasn’t been in the sun all day, dive in and give it a try! A lot of food here will also be deep-fried, which will almost always be safe (just not healthy).

Don’t hesitate to ask your hotel or hostel staff for street food or restaurant suggestions. They’ll no doubt have some delicious — and perfectly safe — ones for you.

Can You Drink the Water in Central America?

As a general ruled you’ll want to avoid the tap water in Central America, although it’s likely fine in Costa Rica and Panama.

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

***

With so many affordable accommodation and transportation options, stunning landscapes, plentiful outdoor adventures, and beautiful beaches, it should come as no surprise that Central America is one of the most backpacked regions of the world.

Sure, it might get a bad rap due to its violent history and economic struggles, but that doesn’t mean it’s categorically unsafe. By following the tips above, you’ll be able to stay safe and healthy during your next visit!

P.S. – Did you know I wrote a new book? It’s called “Ten Years a Nomad” and it’s all about the lessons I’ve learned from a life of travel. It features tons of stories and misadventures I’ve never told on this blog as well! It comes out July 16th! Click here to learn more and grab your copy today! (I’ll be going on a book tour too!)

Book Your Trip to Central America: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

  • Dirty McNasty (Caye Caulker, Belize) – This is one of the biggest hostels in the country and a hub for party-goers. If you’re looking to let loose, this is the hostel for you!
  • Rocking J’s (Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica) – This an institution in Central America. The hostel has been there for ages and there’s a beautiful white sand beach in front of it. They have nightly BBQs.
  • The Naken Tiger (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua) – Located in San Juan del Sur, the Naked Tiger is an incredible property nestled a bit far out of town but on top of a hill with a beautiful view of the entire area.

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

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

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

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





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The Best Tour Companies in Australia

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A wide open beach in Australia with a 4x4 vehicle driving in the sand
Posted: 7/6/2019 | July 6th, 2019

Few countries capture the imagination quite like Australia. With world-class beaches, unusual wildlife, stunning natural landscapes, a unique history, and a fun and vibrant culture, Australia has something to offer every traveler who makes the journey to the Land Down Under.

While the country is easy to navigate as a solo traveler, there are also plenty of amazing tour options for those who prefer traveling in groups or who might not have the time to plan their own getaway.

I’ve been visiting Australia since 2006 and have used many tour companies over the years (in addition to getting around on my own). So in this post, I share my list of the best travel companies in Australia to help you make the most out of your next trip.

From simple walking tours to in-depth, multi-day excursions, there’s something on the list for every interest — and every budget!

1. Best Bike Tour Company: Bonza Bike Tours

A red Bonza Bike Tour helmet sitting on the cement near the water in Sydney, Australia
Bonza is a bike tour company in Sydney that offers a number of options, depending on what you’re interested in. The Highlights tour lasts 2.5 hours and will show you all the major points of interest in Sydney. It’s suitable for families and kids as well, costing 99 AUD ($68 USD) for adults and 79 AUD ($54 USD) for children. For a more in-depth experience, the Classic tour lasts four hours and will give you a much more thorough introduction to this world-class city. They also offer bike rentals so you can just explore the city on your own in case you don’t have the time for a full-tour.

—> Click here to learn more about Bonza!

2. Best Walking Tour Company: I’m Free

A vivid sunset photo of the Sydney Opera in Australia
I always like to start a trip with a free walking tour, as they are a helpful way to get oriented and ask a local all my questions. Both Sydney and Melbourne have insightful (and free!) walking tours offered by I’m Free. Their tours last 2-3 hours and are a great way to learn about history and culture from a local. There are a few tour options in each city, so you have some flexibility with timing as well as which areas you focus on.

If you haven’t done much research before your arrival, this is a good company to start with. Be sure to tip your guide at the end!

—> Click here to learn more about I’m Free!

3. Runner Up Walking Tour Company: iCity Tours

The city of Perth, Australia lit up at night
If you find yourself all the way out in Perth, iCity Tours has a handful of awesome free walking tours. They are organized by Visit Perth and run by volunteers, so it’s a fun way to interact with the locals and really get a sense of what life is like in Australia’s underrated coastal city.

There are five different free tours on offer, each lasting around 90 minutes. The Orientation tour offers a quick introduction to the city and its past. If you have more time, be sure to check out the Convicts and Colonials tour as well. It will give you a sense of what life was like as a convict in Western Australia.

—> Click here to learn more about iCity Tours

4. Best Party Tour Company: The Magic Bus


This backpacker bus is the perfect choice for travelers looking to party. Each month, the trip departs with 25 backpackers aged 18-35 for 3-4 weeks of exploring the country’s national parks, camping, bonfires, and non-stop parties and shenanigans.

Trips go from Perth north to Broome or east to Melbourne each month, so you have to time your trip accordingly to line up with the set departure. The itineraries are always flexible, as they let riders vote on where to go and what to do, so every trip is unique. They try to keep a balance of 50% men and 50% women, as well as a balance of different nationalities, so there is always a diverse group. Trips begin at 1,200 AUD ($822 USD) per person.

—> Click here to learn more about The Magic Bus!

5. Runner Up: The Oz Experience

A woman hiking on a tour in the rugged landscapes of Australia
With The Oz Experience, you’ll get a pass for 60-90 days. Instead of guides, you’ll be given a list of activities (such as diving, ATV trips, sailing, and surfing camps) that are included in your pass to do whenever you want, based on your schedule. It’s a flexible compromise for people looking for some guidance but who also want independence. Prices vary from 1,139 to 3,519 AUD ($781 to $2,412 USD) depending on how many excursions are included (as well as how many days your bus pass is valid for).

While this is a hugely popular option, I personally dislike this company. I really found it lacking, so I would skip this and take The Magic Bus instead. While lots of people like The Oz Experience, I just didn’t find good value for the money.

—> Click here to learn more about The Oz Experience!

6. Our Top Tour Pick: Intrepid Travel

The famous Uluru rock in Australia, as seen from the nearby road
Intrepid is my go-to travel company when it comes to multi-day excursions. In Australia, they offer 70 different itineraries to choose from, ranging from a quick two-day tour to an in-depth 24-day adventure around the entire country.

Unlike some of the companies above, this is not a party tour. They are small groups led by expert local guides with a focus on culture, history, and food, as well as ethical travel and leaving a small environmental impact. You’re guaranteed to return home with a much deeper and more nuanced appreciation of your destination.

And you’ll get a much broader range of ages and travel styles with Intrepid tours too (it’s not just for backpackers). With such a wide range of travelers choosing Intrepid tours, you always end up with an awesome group of people to travel with.

I’ve been on a handful of their tours over the years and have never been disappointed. I always learn a ton and meet amazing people. They make sure you have enough things to do without planning out every minute of the day, so it’s a good balance of downtime and tours. I can’t recommend them enough.

Best of all, as a Nomadic Matt reader, you’ll get an exclusive discount on their tours every month!

—> Click here to learn more about Intrepid Travel and the exclusive offers for Nomadic Matt readers!

***

Australia is a massive country, offering beautiful landscapes, fun outdoor activities, a wild nightlife, and incredible history.

Whether you’re looking for a quick walking tour or a monthlong cross-country adventure — or something in-between — there are plenty of amazing tour companies in Australia to help you make the most out of your time Down Under, no matter your budget.

P.S. – Did you know I wrote a new book? It’s called “Ten Years a Nomad” and it’s all about the lessons I’ve learned from a life of travel. It features tons of stories and misadventures I’ve never told on this blog as well! It comes out July 16th! Click here to learn more and grab your copy today! (I’ll be going on a book tour too!)

Book Your Trip to Australia: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use it all the time. It’s my favorite website! Here are my favorite hostels in Australia!

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

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

Looking for more information on visiting Australia?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Australia with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

Photo credits: 1 – Bonza Bike Tours

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





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The 15 Best Walking Tours in Boston

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a historical actor leading a walking tour in Boston
Posted: 6/10/19 | June 10th, 2019

I love Boston — and not just because I was born there.

There are tons of free things to do in Boston, enough to keep any visitor thoroughly entertained. It’s also a historic city whose success (and survival) was tied to the very existence of America itself.

With such historical significance, it should come as no surprise that I’ve always found the city fascinating (I studied history in college after all).

Boston’s roots stretch back to the 17th century, when it was founded by Puritan colonists from Europe. It was a devout settlement, with enforced church attendance and marriage (persecution of sinners was equally enforced).

The city was home to one of the first schools in America, as well as the very first college: Harvard. The settlement grew in importance, with its most significant role being during the American Revolution.

No single blog post can do Boston — and its complex and important history — justice. For that, you’ll need to visit!

To help you make the most out of your next trip to “Beantown,” I’ve put together this list of the best walking, food, and photography tours. Boston is home to tons of amazing free and paid walking tours that will give you a much better overview of the city and its historical contributions to modern-day America.

Whether you’re a budget backpacker looking to learn something new or a history buff ready to test your expert knowledge, Boston will have a walking tour for you!

The Best Free Walking Tours in Boston

the downtown skyline of Boston, Massachusetts
1. Free Tours By Foot
Free Tours by Foot is one of the biggest an best free walking tours out there. I’ve been on their walking tours all around the world and always come back having learned something new. They have over half a dozen different tours around Boston, though I think the Freedom Trail tour is the best place to start. If you’re looking for something more unique, be sure to check out the Beacon Hill Crime tour!

2. GPS My City
If you’d rather do a self-guided tour on your own time, this app is a great resource and will help you explore the city at your leisure. There are over a dozen different routes offered, and you can mix and match all the destinations to make your own tour too. This is a good option if you don’t want to commit to a three-hour walking tour but still want to see some of the sights.

3. Sam Adams Brewery Tour
If you’re the sort of traveler who often gets thirsty on your tours, then this might be the one for you! The Sam Adams Brewery has a free tour of its famous brewery, and it includes a few samples to quench your thirst (you have to be over 21 of course). The tour is offered daily and and fills up fast, so be sure to get there early as there is often a wait (especially on weekends).

30 Germania St. Tours occur roughly every 40 minutes between 10am and 3pm Monday-Thursday, 10am-5:30pm on Fridays, and 10am-3pm on Saturdays.

4. State House Tour
The Massachusetts State House, home to the governor and government of Massachusetts, has free tours during the week. You can join a guided tour or take a self-guided tour if you’d rather go solo. Tours last 30-45 minutes. You’ll learn about the building, which was built in 1798 and went way over budget, as well as how the state government functions. If you’re a fan of architecture or politics, this brief but informative tour is worth checking out.

24 Beacon St. Tours are available Monday-Friday between 10am and 3:30pm. To organize a free tour, call +1 617-727-3676.

5. Freedom Trail Self-Guided Tour
For a self-guided tour of the Freedom Trail, use this free map. It has all of the major sites and some suggested itineraries based on how long you want to spend exploring the city. If you’re looking for a simple self-guided option that covers all the major historical sites, look no further!

The Best Paid Walking Tours in Boston

the skyline of Boston at night
While free tours are a great place to start, for a more in-depth and specialized tour, you’ll need pay some money. Here are some that are well worth the price!

6. Context Travel
Context is one of my favorite walking tour companies. It offers comprehensive history, food, and cultural tours in cities all around the world — including Boston! There are over a dozen private and guided tours in the city, and while they are not cheap, they are worth every penny. All of their guides are experts in their respective fields, which means any and all of your questions will be answered. If you’re looking for a serious and professional tour, this is it. Tours from $85 USD per person.

7. Cambridge Historical Tours
Cambridge Historical Tours does a great job of blending rigorously researched history and humor, creating an entertaining and informative tour for all ages. They have a few different walks worth checking out, including the Freedom Trail tour and the evening Ghost Tour. The prices are reasonable (especially if you’re a group) and their costumed guides are top notch. Tours from $20 USD per person.

8. Intrepid Urban Adventures
Urban Adventures is a branch of Intrepid Travel, my go-to company for multiday excursions. Their Urban Adventures division runs tours in almost 100 countries around the globe, including some fun tours in Boston.

They have both history and food tours (as well as one that combines both), though I think the most interesting one is the Bowling and Bites tour, a food trek through East Boston that ends in bowling and billiards! Tours from $46 USD per person.

9. Bites of Boston
Bites of Boston offers three different food tours around town, each in a distinct neighborhood. Each lasts a few hours, giving you a nice range of culture and food from some of the best restaurants in town. Tours from $65 USD per person.

10. PhotoWalks Tours
If you’re a shutterbug looking to snap a few shots, this is the tour for you. PhotoWalks Tours offers half a dozen different photo tours around Boston, highlighting the most Insta-worthy shots the city has to offer. Tours are available year-round, as well, letting you embrace the colors of each season. Tours from $40 USD per person.

11. On Location Tours
This is the perfect tour for movie buffs. On Location Tours will take you to all the major filming locations from popular movies and TV shows shot in Boston, including The Departed, Good Will Hunting, Amistad, and Cheers. Tours from $31 USD per person. Check their schedule for availability as tours only occur between April and October.

12. Boston Pizza Tours
Boston Pizza Tours organizes two tasty tours that will take you around town to sample some of Boston’s best pies. The Historic Taverns tour goes a step further, taking you to some of the oldest taverns in the city — as well as the oldest tavern in the country! The best part? You’ll be enjoying a slice and a pint in the same taverns as Paul Revere and Sam Adams! Tours from $44 USD per person.

13. City Wine Tours
This wine tour combines the best wines Boston has to offer with delicious food at some of the best restaurants in town. They have tours for different neighborhoods, and you can also book private tours and events if you’re looking for something special. Tours from $75 USD per person.

14. Trademark Tours
Trademark Tours has put together a great tour of Harvard (led by Harvard students), as well as ones of MIT (led by MIT students) and the Freedom Trail. They are much more affordable than some of the other companies, making this a good middle-of-the-road option for anyone on a budget (as well as for families). Tours from $12 USD per person.

15. Boston By Foot
Boston By Foot is a local non-profit that organizes historical tours around the city. They have almost two dozen tours and events on offer, from the classic Freedom Trail to literary tours to river cruises that focus on the city’s architecture. Tours are run by enthusiastic local volunteers who are well-trained and knowledgable about the city and its past. Tours start at $13 USD per person.

***
Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or someone just looking to explore one of the best cities in America, Boston will have a walking tour to suit your needs — no matter your budget!

Book Your Trip to Boston: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

  • HI Boston – This hostel is in a great location, has its own coffee bar with lots of space to hang out, and also has female-only dorms. It’s really secure and the staff are great too. It’s the best hostel in town!

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 they will help you too!

Looking for more information on visiting Boston?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Boston with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

Photo Credit: 1

The post The 15 Best Walking Tours in Boston appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Life in Paris, Part 3: Nothing Lasts Forever

Posted By : webmaster/ 9 0


Matt Kepnes on a bridge over a canal in Paris
Posted: 6/12/2019 | June 12th, 2019

The end is here. After four months in Europe, I head home tomorrow.

When I came to Paris earlier this year, everyone asked if it was forever.

And, when I said I wasn’t sure, people would reply, “Oh, so you aren’t really moving there, huh?” — as if to say that only a forever and ever move is a real move.

But I did move here. This is where my stuff is. This is my home (even if it might only be temporary).

In my world, there’s no such thing as a forever and ever move.

I have no job that keeps me anywhere in particular. No boss to call me into the office and say, “Matt, we’re transferring you to the Paris office. Pack your bags. We got your visa. You’re there for the next five years.”

No. I get to taste the milk before I buy the cow.

My time here was always an experiment: could I live in a city I loved so much? Would daily life in Paris be as magical as travel in Paris?

No matter the answer to those questions, I always had to leave for the summer. Books and conferences don’t launch themselves!

So will I come back? Did I love Paris so much that I’m ready to make this the spot where I put down my roots?

While walking through the Luxembourg Gardens recently, I realized two things:

First, I don’t miss New York City. I haven’t thought about NYC in a long, long time. I really am over living there.

While I miss my friends and local haunts, I don’t miss the noise, crowds, or fast-paced lifestyle.

I’ll always have a place for NYC in my heart.

And I will visit often.

But my time living there has truly come to an end.

As I’ve alluded to many times, I want to settle down. I’ve been a leaf blowing in the wind long enough, and it’s time to plant roots.

Today is my birthday.

I’m thirty-eight years old.

My next move is the move. One that has to last longer than a few months. I don’t want to restart my life anymore.

So, is Paris that place? Do I really want to settle down and try to live here? Sign a lease? Get residency visas and a bank account? Start paying taxes here?

street

Paris has become my little respite from the world. A city that comes alive at night when the cafes overflow with people, the traffic disappears, and the orange glow of the streetlights makes the city seem mystical.

I loved living here. This city inspired me. I’ve slept more, eaten better, wrote more, read more, and relaxed in ways that I haven’t in years.

I’ve gotten into a nice routine here, made a few friends, and frequented my boulangerie so much I don’t even need to order any more. They know it by heart.

I’m sadder than I thought I’d be about leaving. These last few days have made me melancholy. I’m really going to miss it!

But, as much as I love – and will miss – Paris, this is not my forever and ever city.

It doesn’t feel like home the way other places have.

It was what I needed when I needed it.

But it is not my home.

Instead, my mind goes constantly goes back to one place: Austin.

It calls to me.

Over and over again.

There I can get space, nature, nice weather, and land. It’s my Goldilocks city.

So I’m moving back to Austin.

I haven’t second-guessed that decision once.

Which, being a Gemini and all, means it’s probably the right one.

Book Your Trip to Paris: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

  • St. Christopher’s Canal – Comfy spot on the canal. During the summer months, the terrace is hopping!
  • 3 Ducks Hostel – This hostel has one of the cheapest bars in the city, and it’s just a 10-minute walk to the Eiffel Tower.
  • Les Piaules – Fantastic chimney lounge, a cool bar, and a rooftop space. It’s a great place to meet people!

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!

Looking for more information on visiting Paris?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Paris with more tips on what to see, do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!

The post Life in Paris, Part 3: Nothing Lasts Forever appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Ads? On this Site? What? Why?

Posted By : webmaster/ 9 0


A laptop on a desk beside a cup of black coffee and a notebook
Posted: 7/1/2019 | July 1st, 2019

For eleven years, I vowed never to put an ad up on this website. None. Zero. Zilch.

I hate ads. They are ugly. They are intrusive, sometimes popping up right when you load a page. (And don’t get me started on pre-roll videos!)

So it might seem odd that today, after eleven years being ad-free, I’m announcing we’ve put ads up on this website.

Since I’ve been so vocal about how much I dislike ads, I want to explain to the community why we’re doing this:

The world changes. People change. People’s buying habits change.

And, to be a successful business, you must change too.

Over the years, we put a lot of our eggs into the ebook/digital guide basket.

That worked for a long time.

But the cold hard truth people don’t really buy ebooks these days. They want Kindle books or physical guidebooks.

That’s what the world wants.

Plus, with so much free information online, most people just don’t feel the need to buy ebooks anymore. They can often google what they need. If it’s not in a Kindle or paper form, it’s not a “real” guidebook. (We’ve looked into making paper guides but, frankly, the print on demand paper quality isn’t there. It’s just not at the quality that we can be proud of. And, to print in color, the costs are just too high right now.)

So our ebook sales have flatlined. They’re no longer an engine of growth that can fuel new projects.

And we have a great project in the works that needs fuel.

Remember The Nomadic Network? The global meet-up thing we tested out a few years back. We were going to build local chapters, host educational and social mixers, and get people excited about travel.

Well, this fall, we are bringing it back to life.

But we need money to make that happen.

One thing we learned last time we trialed this was that we need a dedicated person whose job is just to run the events and coordinate with all our local chapters.

The revenue from our book sales isn’t going to cover that.

The team and I searched far and wide for an alternative — but the truth is that ads are the only thing that can give us the substantial and sustained revenue we need to relaunch the Nomadic Network as well as maintain and grow this website. (We would like to pay more guest writers and hire another research assistant.)

So that’s why we now have ads.

It’s not simply so we can have more money (or Chris can finally upgrade from sleeping in dorms).

It’s so we can relaunch this community initiative (one we are really, really excited about but have put aside for way too long) and invest in the website.

I know it’s a big change and we tried to make the ads as non-intrusive as possible.

But know that this decision didn’t come easy. I still have mix feelings about it but the world changes and sometimes you just have to change with it.

Feel free to leave comments below (but know we’re not going to reverse this decision).

Sincerely,

Nomadic Matt and team

The post Ads? On this Site? What? Why? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Best Travel Insurance Companies for Backpackers

Posted By : webmaster/ 9 0


A budget backpacker sitting on a mountain looking into the distance
Posted: 6/16/2019 | June 17th, 2019

I’m a backpacker at heart. Even after traveling the world for over a decade, I still love to travel cheap, prioritizing experiences over fancy accommodation and transportation. I still love staying at hostels, meeting locals, and sampling as many local delicacies as I can.

Contrary to popular belief, being a backpacker is not about pinching every penny — it’s about finding value. If you want to have a genuine and authentic trip without breaking the bank you need to spend your money wisely.

And when it comes to backpacking around the world, one of the wisest choices you can make is to purchase travel insurance.

I know, travel insurance seems like just another expense that will chip away at your budget. I used to think that too.

But it also has the potential to save you thousands of dollars should something go wrong on your trip.

And after traveling around the world for the past 10 years, I can confidently tell you this: things will go wrong.

To help you stay safe on your next trip, here is everything you need to know about buying insurance as a backpacker.

Why Do Backpackers Need Insurance?

The reason you need to buy travel insurance is because accidents happen. Regardless of whether you’re at home or abroad, things go wrong. At home, you likely have access to medical care and reliable medical facilities.

On the road, that isn’t always the case.

While serious injuries are rare, they do happen. And it’s always better to be safe than sorry. But insurance isn’t just for medical emergencies. It also covers a lot of incidents that are much more common than you think!

Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect your backpacker insurance to cover:

  • Medical emergencies (surgery hospitalization fees, medical evacuation)
  • Flight delays and cancellations
  • Trip cancellations (due to injury or a death in the family)
  • Emergency evacuation (due to injury or natural disaster)
  • Dental emergencies
  • Lost or stolen baggage
  • Damaged or stolen gear
  • Death overseas

While it’s unpleasant to spend time dwelling on these things, the truth is, you need to be prepared for the worst. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use your insurance plan, but if you need to, you want to make sure you have the coverage you need.

I’ve had my bags stolen, I’ve needed to go to the hospital overseas, and I was even stabbed while traveling in South America.

I didn’t plan for any of these things to happen, but when they did, I was glad I had insurance to help me get reimbursed as well as to help me navigate the confusion that comes with having an emergency abroad.

I know, as a backpacker you like to keep costs low. Insurance isn’t free, after all, which makes it seem like a burdensome and unnecessary expense.

But it’s much better to pay a few bucks a day than risk losing your life savings should an emergency occur while you don’t have coverage.

What Does Travel Insurance NOT Cover?

While most travel emergencies and injuries are covered by travel insurance, it’s important to know what is not covered by your plan. Knowledge is power, after all.
For reference, most backpacker insurance policies do not cover:

  • Accidents sustained while participating in extreme adventure activities. These often include hang-gliding, paragliding, or bungee jumping.
  • Alcohol- and drug-related incidents.
  • Carelessness or negligence.
  • Pre-existing conditions or general check-ups.
  • Stolen cash (unless you pay for a more comprehensive plan)
  • If civil unrest makes your destination unsafe but your government hasn’t called for an evacuation, you probably won’t qualify for evacuation (unless you have more advanced coverage from a company like Medjet).
  • Changing your mind about your trip or unfriending or breaking up with your travel partner will disqualify you from trip-cancellation coverage.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions don’t qualify for most trip cancellation plans unless otherwise stipulated.
  • If your visa to a destination is refused you won’t be reimbursed if you decide to cancel your trip.

The Best 3 Backpacker Insurance Companies

To help you stay safe on your next trip, here are some suggested companies that provide affordable insurance for backpackers:

1. STA Travel Insurance
STA is an online travel agency that is known for their flights and travel packages — but they offer affordable travel insurance too for students as well.

STA sells basic, budget-friendly coverage for students and teachers who travel, with plans starting as low as $99 USD for 1 year. If you’re a student and a budget backpacker who is only looking for the most basic of coverage, STA is the company for you.

Here’s a quick overview of STA Travel Insurance:

  • Budget-friendly plans
  • ISIC card benefits in over 125,000 locations
  • Basic coverage options
  • Great for students/shoestring backpackers.

Click here to get a quote from STA.

2. Insure My Trip
Insure My Trip helps you compare insurance plans and prices so you can purchase the plan that’s best for you and your budget. You can compare plans from almost 30 different insurance providers, with plenty of budget-friendly options available for backpackers.

And they are the go-to company for older backpackers as well since many travel insurance companies won’t cover travelers over 65. Insure My Trip provides comparisons from insurance companies that cover older travelers, making them the best option for retirees and other senior adventurers.

Here’s a quick overview of Insure My Trip:

  • Guaranteed low prices
  • Coverage for senior travelers over 65
  • “Anytime advocates” ask the insurer to give your claim a second look if you think it was unfairly denied.

Click here to get a quote from Insure My Trip

OUR TOP PICK: World Nomads Travel Insurance
World Nomads is the absolute best insurance company for budget travelers. I’ve been using them for over a decae and have never been disappointed with their customer service or coverage. Their plans are comprehensive and great for both long-term travelers as well as anyone heading out on a shorter vacation. It’s easy to read (and understand) their policies and see what’s covered — and what isn’t.
Best of all, if you want to learn more before you purchase or have questions after you sign up, their customer support is there to help.

World Nomads is perfect for adventurous backpackers who plan to do activities like hiking, kayaking, or even some extreme sports like bungee jumping or rock climbing. With 100 different activities covered, World Nomads is the best choice for the active backpacker.

To help you learn more about World Nomads, here’s a quick overview of their coverage:

  • Emergency medical and dental coverage
  • Coverage for trip cancelations, delays, and interruptions
  • Baggage protection
  • Emergency evacuation (for medical emergencies and non-medical emergencies such as natural disasters)
  • Medical transportation
  • 24/7 customer assistance

World Nomads was founded by backpackers so they know exactly what the budget traveler needs in their plan. This is my go-to insurance company and one I’ve been using for years. If it sounds like the company for you, you can use the widget below to get a quote:

(Want to learn more? Check out my comprehensive World Nomads review!)

***

After backpacking around the world for over a decade, I never leave home without travel insurance. I’ve experienced first-hand how helpful it can be. It’s saved me thousands of dollars over the years — as well as countless headaches too.

Not only that, but buying travel insurance provides peace of mind. It gives you and your family a safety net in case things go wrong. Whether you’re island-hopping in Thailand or getting off the beaten path in Eastern Europe, travel insurance will be there when you need it.

Being a backpacker is all about having amazing, memorable travel experiences all without breaking the bank. And there’s no better way to insulate yourself from expensive (and unnecessary) costs than by buying travel insurance.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post The Best Travel Insurance Companies for Backpackers appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The 7 Best Travel Insurance Companies in 2019

Posted By : webmaster/ 8 0


A lone commercial airliner flying over Australia
Posted: 6/17/2019 | June 17th, 2019

Planning a trip can be a lot of fun. Researching amazing bucket list activities, daydreaming about picture-perfect beaches and epic hikes, booking the cheap flights that will take you to the world’s most amazing destinations — it’s the fun part of planning. It gives you ownership of your trip and lets you imagine all the amazing adventures you’ll get into.

What is significantly less fun (yet equally important) is searching for the right travel insurance plan for your trip.

Reading through the fine print, searching out reviews you can trust, picking the best plan — it can all be a little tedious.

And if you’re a new traveler, it can also be a little overwhelming.

There are hundreds of companies out there – all offering the “same” plans. They all have different prices too. Which one is the best? Which review is right?

To help you stay safe during your next trip, I wanted to share my thoughts on the best travel insurance companies on the market. I’ve been backpacking since 2004 and researching companies for a living since 2007. I’ve spent a lot of time reading the fine print (have you ever read NY’s insurance compliance laws? Well, don’t.)

To save you time, I’ve compiled a list of the best travel insurance companies. Whether you’re heading south to escape from work or traveling abroad on a round-the-world trip, this list will help you find a company that works for your trip – and your budget.

Table of Contents

  1. Best overall insurance: World Nomads
  2. Best company for medical evacuation: Medjet
  3. Best company for older travelers: Insure My Trip
  4. Best company for students: STA
  5. Best company for expats: IMGlobal
  6. Best supplemental coverage: Clements
  7. Honorable Mention: Your travel credit card

 

OUR TOP PICK: World Nomads

I’ve been using World Nomads for the past decade and have never been disappointed. Their plans are comprehensive and great for travelers visiting more than one country in a single trip. It’s easy to read their policies and see what’s covered (and what isn’t), and their customer service is top notch. And if you want to learn more before you purchase or have questions after you sign up, their customer support is there to help.

This company is perfect for adventurous travelers who plan to do things like hiking, kayaking or canoeing, and even some extreme sports like rock climbing bungee jumping. With 100 different activities are covered, World Nomads is the best choice for the active traveler.

Here’s a quick overview:

  • Emergency medical and dental coverage
  • Coverage for trip cancelations, delays, and interruptions
  • Baggage protection
  • Emergency evacuation (for medical emergencies and non-medical emergencies such as natural disasters)
  • Medical transportation
  • 24/7 customer assistance

They are the perfect company if you’re a backpacker or long term traveler. The company was founded by backpackers so they keep people who travel long term in mind in their plans and customer service. This is my go-to insurance company and one I’ve been using for years. If it sounds like the company for you, you can use the widget below to get a quote:

 
(Want to learn more? Check out my comprehensive World Nomads review!)

Medjet

Medjet is the premier membership program for medical transportation. Their extensive plans focus on crisis response and emergency transportation and they have amazing staff on hand to help you through it all.

While many insurance companies will just evacuate you to the nearest hospital in an emergency, MedJet goes above and beyond to ensure that you’re repatriated and not stuck in a foreign medical facility away from your friends and family.

They have both short-term and annual plans, too, so no matter what your travel plans are you’ll be able to find the affordable coverage that you need.

Here’s a quick overview of MedJet:

  • Extensive medical transport coverage
  • Limited time spent in foreign medical facilities
  • Both short-term and annual plans
  • Available for residents of the US, Canada, and Mexico

Medjet is the perfect company for anyone looking to avoid time spent in foreign medical facilities should an emergency or crisis occur.

Insure My Trip

Insure My Trip isn’t actually an insurance company that issues its own plans. Rather, they recommend plans and help you compare prices so you can buy the plan that’s best for you.

With Insure My Trip, you can compare plans from almost 30 different insurance providers. They are the go-to company for senior travelers as well, since many travel insurance companies won’t cover travelers over 65. Insure My Trip provides comparisons from insurance companies that cover older travelers, making them the best option for retirees and other senior adventurers.

Here’s a quick overview of Insure My Trip:

  • Guaranteed low prices
  • Coverage for senior travelers over 65
  • “Anytime advocates” ask the insurer to give your claim a second look if you think it was unfairly denied.
  • Comparisons from 28 different companies to ensure you get the best plan

Insure My Trip is the best choice for older travelers looking for comprehensive coverage over the age of 65.

STA

STA is an online travel agency that is known for its flights and travel packages. But they also sell affordable travel insurance too. STA provides budget-friendly plans for students and teachers, offering coverage for as little as $99 USD for 1 year.

It’s the best choice for anyone studying abroad or teaching overseas. You’ll also get an ISIC card, which includes tons of additional perks and discounts!

Here’s a quick overview of STA Travel Insurance:

  • Budget-friendly plans
  • ISIC card benefits in over 125,000 locations
  • Basic coverage options
  • Great for students/shoestring backpackers.

STA is the best choice for student travelers and teachers working overseas who only need basic travel insurance coverage.

IMGlobal

IMGlobal provides insurance plans that are more akin to your standard US health insurance. They have comprehensive coverage for long-term travelers, plans for non-US citizens, and affordable plans for visitors to the US as well. They have basic plans for students and budget-conscious travelers as well as more robust plans for families and expats.

Their plans cover single trips; however, they also have multi-trip plans for travelers heading out on more than one trip per year.

Here’s a quick overview of IMGlobal:

  • Best for expats and long-term travelers
  • The closest option to normal US health insurance
  • Available for non-US residents
  • 16 different plans to choose from

IMGlobal is the best insurance company for expats and long-term travelers who want coverage beyond medical emergencies.

Clements

Clements focuses on insurance coverage for expats as well as coverage for high-end gear (such as laptops, smartphones, and cameras). Many travel insurance companies only provide minimal coverage for your expensive electronics, which means you’ll have to pay a lot of money out of pocket to replace them should they get lost, damaged, or stolen while you’re abroad. They also offer plans with low or no deductibles so you can rest assured that, should the worst happen, you can replace your valuables without breaking the bank.

Here’s a quick overview of Clements:

  • High-end electronics coverage
  • Low (or no) deductibles
  • Premium plans with unlimited coverage
  • Available both inside and outside of the US

Clements is the best insurance option for anyone traveling with expensive electronics who need comprehensive coverage.

Honorable Mention: Credit Card Coverage

While not the most comprehensive, many travel credit cards will include some degree of travel insurance. Coverage is often limited and might only apply to trips or items purchased with the card. And there may be limited dates of coverage too.

However, something is better than nothing! But while it can be tempting to go for a free insurance plan from your credit card company, their plans are usually not that comprehensive and have minimal coverage and/or limited compensation. These free plans are best used as supplemental coverage in addition to a plan from one of the companies above.

But it’s always great to have options (especially free ones). Be sure to learn more about the best travel credit cards before your next trip (you’ll have to read the fine print).

***

Nobody plans on getting hurt when they travel. And in a perfect world, we wouldn’t. But we all know that this isn’t a perfect world.

My bags were stolen when I was traveling in South Africa.

I popped my eardrum while diving in Thailand.

And I was even stabbed while backpacking in Colombia.

Obviously, I didn’t plan for any of these things to happen.

But they did.

And I was lucky I had travel insurance to help me cover the costs. So before you head out on your next trip, make sure that you’re covered. Invest in your own safety and peace of mind. I promise you, it’s worth the money.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

The post The 7 Best Travel Insurance Companies in 2019 appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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