A Lifetime of Hope and Regret

black and white photo of a man walking on a beach
Ita��s easy to get lost. To look around and suddenly find yourself wondering how you got here a�� and why it seems so far from where you thought youa��d be. What wrong turn did you take? Is there still time to go back and start again? To be the person you wanted to be? To do the things you want to do?

One day becomes a year, which quickly turns into a decade. Before you know it, youa��re miles from the life you imagined.

a�?Tomorrow,a�? you say to yourself. a�?Tomorrow, Ia��ll fix things.a�?

But tomorrow comes and goes and you continue down the same path, caught up in the surging river that is life.

Reading entries for my round-the-world trip contest brought regret to the forefront of my mind. I saw so much of it from the strangers who entered; strangers who poured their heart out to me about loss, pain, suffering, snuffed-out dreams, and second chances.

Yet beneath all the worry, regret, and sadness, there was hope.

The desire for a new beginning. A chance to be the person they wanted to be; to find purpose in their life; to escape tamsulosine. a future they didna��t want a�� but one that felt so inevitable.

As writer and blogger Cory Doctorow said, a�?You live your own blooper reel and experience everyone else’s highlight reel.a�?

When you ask people why they want to travel the world, and 2,000 people come back with stories that all end with a version of a�?to start fresh,a�? it brings this obvious but forgotten realization back into your mind.

My own life is a minefield of regret a�� both big and small: Regret at not traveling sooner, partying too much, never becoming fluent in a foreign language, never studying abroad, letting a certain relationship slip away, not staying in touch with friends, not saving more, not moving slower, and not following my gut. Then there are the day-to-day regrets a�� things like not closing my computer 30 minutes earlier or reading more or laying off those french fries more. There are countless regrets.

In thinking about our own issues, we often forget that everyone around us is fighting their own inner battles. That the grass is never truly greener. That when someone is snappy at you in the grocery store, short with you at the office, or sends you a nasty, trolling email, they, like you, are dealing with their own inner demons.

They, like you, think of second chances, missed opportunity, and unfulfilled dreams.

Wea��re taught by society to avoid a�?a lifetime of regret.a�? a�?Have no regrets!a�? is our mantra. But I think regret is a powerful motivator. It is a teacher, a manual to a better life.

Regret teaches us where we went wrong and what mistakes to avoid again.

Reading these entries initially weighed me down. I couldn’t help but think, “There’s a lot of unhappy people out there.”

But the more I thought about it the more I realized they weren’t unhappy. Yes, there was regret, pain, and sadness in those contest entries a�� but there was also a lot of hope, determination, and energy. These entrants were not going to wallow in regret. They were looking for a way to move forward. They felt inspired, motivated. Many promised that no matter the outcome of their entry, they were determined to make a change.

Reading these entries taught me that regret, it turns out, is life’s best motivator. Two thousand people said, a�?Not again a�� I wona��t do this twice!a�?

Maybe having a “lifetime of regret” means you actually have lived.

Regret, it turns out, isn’t such Price of fosamax a bad thing after all.

24 Things Every Solo Female Traveler Learns on the Road

Kristin Addis with a glacier in Alaska
Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse writes our regular column on solo female travel. Ita��s a topic I cana��t cover so I brought her on to cover topics and specific issues important other women travelers! In this month’s column, Kristin reminisces on the lessons learned from traveling solo.

a�?Youa��re going across the world by yourself?! Are you sure?a�?

Youa��ve heard it before, right? Someone who means well and tries to talk you out of traveling solo, mentioning all kinds of things that could go wrong.

They can be pretty convincing, focusing heavily on the negative a�� but completely forgetting that there are so many more positives that come from travel. What about all of the things that could go right?

There are things that only solo female travelers get to experience (things that just dona��t happen when youa��re traveling with someone else). Ita��s like a club that almost anyone can get into but few know about. But for those of us who have done it, we know that ita��s not as scary as we thought, and much more rewarding than we ever imagined possible.

Traveling the world solo has taught me many lessons and made me realized there are some truths you only learn when you travel the world solo:

1. Ita��s way more exciting to try a new food on the other side of the world – and find that we absolutely love it – than it is to go to a swanky restaurant back home.

2. An exotic dish somehow tastes better when we eat it with our hands. With our shoes off, while sitting on the floor.

3. Being in a hammock on a tropical beach, watching the waves roll in, whether all on our own or surrounded by new friends, is worth the mosquito bites.

4. We can say a�?helloa�? and a�?thank youa�? in more languages than your fancy car has gears.

5. Playing with a child in another language is more warming than all the designer sweaters in the world.

6. People are beautiful everywhere, in every shade, shape, and size, and there is absolutely no singular beauty standard.

7. There is no greater rush than buying a plane ticket to a place that we alone want to see and that we alone picked out.

8. It is sexier to have more stamps in a passport than watches and fancy purses.

9. A sugar rush is somehow sweeter when wea��re sitting in Europe eating a chocolate croissant with a whole day of adventures ahead of us.

10. It doesna��t matter what someone is wearing, where they’re from, or what their savings account looks like. If they can carry an intelligent conversation halfway across the world, wea��re more than happy to hang onto their every word.

11. Espresso really does taste better in Italy, and Panang curry really does taste better in Thailand.

12. Knowing what it looks like when the sun sets over the ocean on the other side of the globe is worth more than all the Instagram likes in the world.

13. The Facebook news feed is a lot less interesting when we have an entire day of adventures ahead of us, with no plans, no obligations, and no strings attached.

14. Maybe makeup and hair products and straighteners and Spanx arena��t all that necessary, and we look fantastic just the way we are.

15. The heartbreak later is worth the fling right here and now with this beautiful stranger with an accent from far away and the promise of an adventure.

16. Being able to say a�?yesa�? without having to check in with anyone first feels so damn freeing and satisfying.

17. Being able to say a�?noa�? without worrying about offending anyone or feeling obligated feels even more powerful than saying a�?yesa�? sometimes.

18. Wea��re braver than we thought.

19. Wea��re capable of doing things that a year ago would have terrified us.

20. No classroom anywhere will ever be a better learning environment than going it alone on the road.

21. No boardroom, job interview, or house party where we dona��t know anyone will ever intimidate us again, because we know what ita��s like to go solo to a country where absolutely nothing is familiar and everything is new. And we handled it like a boss.

22. There were a few blunders and a�?learning experiencesa�? here and there, but wea��re better off for them.

23. Out of all of the things we learned, most of all wea��ll remember that we are capable individuals with a better understanding of how we fit into the world now, and thata��s something that will be beneficial for the rest of our lives.

24. When the trip is over, wea��ll remember these things that only we know, and what wea��re capable street value of buspirone 15 mg. of a�� and probably start researching plane flights again.

We solo female travelers know that traveling alone is an amazing gift. It gives us a chance to develop our confidence, make all of the decisions about where we want to go and what we want to do, and be the CEO of our own lives and adventures. This confidence and ability carries over into our daily lives long after the trip is over.

Our loved onesa�� fear and misunderstanding of it will probably always exist. Rebuffing a few well-meaning but uninformed remarks just comes with the territory. You can often show those naysayers by example how wonderful it can be.

If you havena��t yet traveled solo but Buy keppra online really want to find out who you are and what youa��re made of, go to the other side of the world by yourself and prepare to be amazed. Dona��t let anything hold you back a�� you deserve to see the world on your own terms.

ANNOUNCING A BRAND NEW CONQUERING MOUNTAINS EDITION

A Year in Review (And a Needed Break)

Matt hiking in the mountains
As dawn broke on this year, I was excited for a fresh start. Last year, I dealt with panic attacks and anxiety from taking on too many projects, a breakup that left me heartbroken, and a mini-identity crisis from settling down.

But that a�?greatest worst year of my Buy glucovance online no prescription lifea�? set the stage for a year in which I shifted my priorities and focused on developing routines. On a personal level, this was a solid year.

I cut my travels in half.

I now love waking up, opening my fridge, and making breakfast.

My panic attacks are gone.

I read a lot more.

I drink less and cook more.

I joined a gym.

I developed routines.

And, while my insomnia is not gone, Ia��m starting to sleep a lot better.

But no year is perfect.

I replaced one addiction (traveling) with another (work). On the road, it was easy to fill a day with exciting adventures. But now that I was home, what was I going to do? I did the one thing I knew i could default to: work. And I worked all the time. I annoyed my team on the weekend by sending them work. I released more digital guides and published a new edition of my print guide, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. We changed the sitea��s design. I did two speaking tours. I ran three tours.

And, in the process, I burned myself and my team out.

As this year ends, Ia��ve come to realize that while I enjoy the stability in my life, I gave up the one thing I wanted most by slowing down: time.

Time to learn languages and start hobbies. Time to read and relax. Time to explore New York. Time to date. Time to do whatever the generic supplier ofviagra. hell I feel like doing.

While Ia��m better at managing time, I still have too many projects going at once. As my friend Steve recently told me, a�?Matt, I got tired just hearing what you are doing. I cana��t imagine whata��s it like to actually do it.a�?

Therea��s a certain irony in that, while I preach the importance creating time in your life for what you want, I havena��t followed my own advice.

The truth is Ia��m a workaholic. I have been since I was I was a kid. I used to pull 60 hour weeks at my 9 to 5. I dona��t know how not to work.

I think thata��s why I love being an entrepreneur. It’s easy to always create projects and build stuff.

But I take it too an extreme: I just work. And then work some more. I write, I blog, I start new website and initiatives.

But I need to stop that. I need to free up time. The average life is only 29,000 days and, as I barrel closer and closer to the statistical half way point of my own, ita��s time to live a more purposeful life.

And so, as I am off to Thailand and then New Zealand through January, Ia��ve decided to take a mini-break from blogging. In truth, while the panic attacks are gone, the conditions that created them still havena��t gone away.

I need to work on that.

Last year was a revelation. This year was a realization:

This new me is still a work in progress.

One thing I loved about this year was that I finally got offline while traveling. I didna��t bring work with me. I allowed myself to fully enjoy the places I went. I didna��t rush off to find an internet connection or get bothered if one didna��t exist. I want more of that. It makes me love and appreciate travel.

When I’m doing that, travel isn’t work.

This is not one of those a�?omg blogging is so much work so Ia��m taking a vacationa�? posts. I plan to still write and be on social media. This is taking a step back and trying to figure out how to find balance.

Ia��m not looking for work/life balance.

Ia��m just looking for balance in general. I want to stop feeling like I’m five minutes away from a panic attack.

While there are two big community announcements coming in January (Wea��ve been working on them for months and they are freaking awesome. They are designed to get people together in real life and talk about travel.), new blog posts will be few and far between until I return from New Zealand.

If last year taught me to stay put, this year taught me the need for balance. Multitasking is an illusion, and settling in one place made me realize just how easy it is to fall into a�?the busy trapa�? of modern life. The internet, with its 24/7/365 schedule means, without proper restrictions, ita��s easy to give it your 24/7/365. And that’s not a good habit to have.

2018 will be a year of focus. It will be the year of stepping out of a�?the busy trap.a�? Ita��s time to learn to say no to things I dona��t love and reclaim the worlda��s most limited and precious resource: time.

(On a final note, thank you for everything. You all are amazing and I’ve enjoyed your emails, letters, and random run ins on the street! Thank you for coming to all the meet-ups! This community is awesome and I look forward to seeing and meeting more of you in the new year. Thanks for always being there. Have a happy holidays and an amazing new year!)

P.S. – The winner of the free trip around the world contest has been picked. I’ll be announcing it tomorrow. Just have a few more details to work out Stay tuned!

P.P.S. – I’m hosting a meet-up in Bangkok on Christmas Day! Let’s grab drinks and talk travel Follow the Facebook event for updates.

The Best Lesbian Travel Blogs

lesbian bloggers
Ia��ve added an LGBT column to the website to make the site is more inclusive and talks about issues that affect some members of our travel community. In this column, we will hear from voices in the LGBT community about their experiences on the road, safety tips, events, and overall advice for other LGBT travelers. This week, Dani from Globetrottergirls shares some of her favorite lesbian travel blogs.

Ever since I started traveling full-time in 2010, Ia��ve been an avid blog reader. I am subscribed to dozens of blogs, and I have visited countless places after finding out about them on blogs.

Boracay in the Philippines, for example a�� I read about it on blogs. Or Las Lajas in Colombia, which I visited this year, seven years after learning about it through a travel blog. The charming French town of Colmar? I am now keen to visit it after it popped up on several blogs I read.

Without travel blogs, I would have never found out about these places. buying asthma inhalers mexico. The same goes for cafA�s and restaurants, ice cream shops and bars, small art galleries, and great hostels. I read blogs for travel inspiration all the time, but also for travel tips when I research a destination I am planning to visit.

While there are dozens of couplesa�� travel blogs, solo female travel blogs, and a fair number of gay travel blogs, there have never been many lesbian travel blogs. At least, until recently! It seems that in the last year or two, there are a lot more people that are selling everything they own to go traveling, and Buy premarin vaginal cream that is also true in the lesbian world. For years, the L in LGBT travel blogs was filled by only a handful of blogs, but there has been an explosion of lesbian travel blogs recently and I am excited to see the lesbian travel blogosphere expand. These girls have inspired me with their stories about off-the-beaten-path destinations such as Bahrain and Cuba, piqued my interest in destination weddings, and made me consider spending all my savings on a campervan and heading out on the open road.

If you are looking for travel inspiration, I recommend checking out the following lesbian travel blogs a�� and of course you dona��t have to be an LGBT traveler to enjoy them:

Lez Wander The World

Lez Wander the World

Mari (from LA) and Zoey (from England) were each backpacking through Southeast Asia when their paths crossed in Bangkok, and they have been inseparable ever since.

Recommended entry: All of the articles in their a�?Being Queer Ina��a�? series, including the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, and Thailand.

2 Moms Travel

2 Moms Travel
Lara and her wife Deb travel with their two kids, showing that it is possible to travel with young children.

Recommended entry: a�?Europe: 6 Weeks, 2 Kids, 1 Suitcasea�?

Straight On Detour

Straight On Detour
Prue, a photographer from Australia, and Becky, a travel writer from England, have been traveling the world together since 2012, when they met in Thailand.

Recommended entry: a�?Youa��re Ready to Travel the World: But Is Your Relationship?a�?

The Rainbow Route

The Rainbow Route
Jen lives in Vancouver with her wife Laura. They travel together as a couple, but Jen also takes plenty of solo trips. Their wanderlust has brought them to places like Central America, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and Europe.

Recommended entry: a�?Traveling as a Lesbian in Costa Ricaa�?

Free Wheel Drive

Free Wheel Drive
Laura and Camrin are two girls from Wisconsin who, in June 2017, packed up everything they could fit into their Jeep Grand Cherokee named Tina and started traveling around North America while working remotely. Their plan is to hit up as many national parks as possible, to couchsurf, to housesit, to use WWOOF (to work on organic farms), and to see how far they can get while traveling on a budget.

Recommended entry: a�?The Incredible Grand Teton National Parka�?

Vagabroads

Vagabroads
The Vagabroads are Sunny, a former criminal defense attorney, and Karin, who used to be a network engineer. The couple, who hail from Nashville, TN, sold all of their possessions to go on an indefinite overland journey down the Pan-American Highway through the US, Mexico, and Central and South America.

Recommended entry: a�?Volcano Boarding the Cerro Negro Volcano in Nicaraguaa�?

The Fussy Femme

Fussy Femme
Jess, originally from Adelaide, Australia, quit her job, sold all her stuff, and currently only has a suitcase and backpack to her name. She caught the travel bug when she moved to Chicago at age 19 and has since lived in Singapore, London, and Melbourne.

Recommended entry: a�?How I Saved 50k in One Year to Be Able to Travel the Worlda�?

A Lesbian Suitcase

Lesbian Suitcase
Alli and Ausha are two girls from Richmond, VA, who, despite having regular 9-to-5 jobs, make travel a priority in their lives.

Recommended entry: a�?Why You Dona��t Need to Quit Your Job to Travel the Worlda�?

The Road House Coasters

Road House Coasters
Kat and Jot are a British couple who met at university and moved to Australia together. They recently sold everything they owned and bought a bus to travel.

Recommended entry: a�?So, we bought a busa�?

Once Upon A Journey

Once Upon A Journey
Roxanne and Maartje are two gorgeous blondes from the Netherlands who shared a dream of traveling the world together. In March 2017, they made their dream a reality, starting their journey in Russia with an epic train trip: the Trans-Siberian Express all the way to China. The girls are in Southeast Asia now and are planning to head to New Zealand next.

Recommended entry: a�?17 Tips To Travel The Trans-Siberian Expressa�?

The Freedom Travellers

The Freedom Travellers
Victoria, a Brit, and Elaina, an Aussie, met at work in Australia. They quit their corporate jobs in 2014 and have been traveling ever since. So far, theya��ve visited 39 countries together.

Recommended entry: a�?How We Quit Our Jobs to Travel the World!a�?

Dopes on the Road

Dopes on the Road
Meg Cale and her wife Lindsay met online, dated long-distance while Meg was teaching in South Korea and Lindsay was in the United States, and finally got married last year.

Recommended entry: a�?We Eloped: Yup, Lindsay and I Got Married in Ecuador,a�? about their South American destination wedding.

Happy Camper Wives

Happy Camper Wives
Valerie and Jessi are a lesbian couple roaming the US in a teardrop camper mini RV.

Recommended entry: a�?Fears We Had About Traveling Full Timea�?

Curious Jessie

Curious Jessie
Jessie and her girlfriend are a British couple who went on a round-the-world trip for 14 months. Now back in the UK, travel is still a big part of their lives.

Recommended entry: a�?5 Fears Traveling the World as a Lesbian Couplea�?

Her Outdoors

Her Outdoors
Alison and Helene are two thirty-somethings from the UK who are traveling the world after quitting their jobs and selling everything they own.

Recommended entry: a�?Death Roada��on a bikea�?

Gabriela Here and There

Gabriela Here and There
Gabriela is an adventurer who has been traveling full-time since 2016 and is on a quest to visit every country in the world. Her current country count is 77!

Recommended entry: a�?Backpacking in Bahraina�?

LezBackpack

LezBackpack
Melissa chronicles her life and travels with her wife Constance.

Recommended entry: a�?Traveling Together is the Absolute Worsta�?

***

I am excited to see the growing number of wanderlust-inducing lesbian travel blogs. All these blogs show though that there is always room for quality content on the internet, and there are still not enough lesbian voices out there. If youa��re an LGBT traveler, I hope these blogs provide the inspiration and advice you need. And if youa��re not an LGBT traveler, these websites are still fun and informative to read!

Dani Heinrich is the vagabonding writer and photographer behind GlobetrotterGirls.com. Originally from Germany, she has been nomadic since 2010, when she quit her corporate job and embarked on a round-the-world-trip. She has travelled through over 60 countries on four continents and has no plans to stop any time soon! You can also follow her adventures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


P.S. – Want to step up your travel hacking game? I’m speaking at Frequent Traveler University’s Expo in Chicago on November 18th. It’s the world’s largest travel, points, and miles event and will be some great speakers there. You can click here to get your ticket. Also, as a reader of this site, youA�get 75% off the ticket price with the code “NOMAD”.

How to Travel Around Madagascar

A town in Madagascar
Madagascar. Ita��s more than an incorrect (but fun) DreamWorks movie. Located off the eastern coast of Africa, this island, nearly the size of France and the third largest in the world, has a population over 20 million but sees only about 325,000 tourists a year.1 I spent two weeks there with Intrepid Travel Travel and was surprised by how few tourists there were (I figured a�� with no data to back it up a�� that there would be a lot more), as well as by just how difficult the country was to travel around. The roads are really, really bad. It can take up to eight hours to go 250 km (155 miles) a�� and thata��s on the good roads!

But soon it became clear why there were so few tourists: getting to the country is expensive, therea��s very little information about it online, few organized activities, and only a couple hostels, tourism information centers, helpful signs, or anything that would be considered a a�?tourist infrastructurea�? (and sadly, very little infrastructure at all). Madagascara��s tourism caters to older Europeans who visit expensive beach resorts or take organized tours, moving around the country in a little bubble. Nary a backpacker did I see on my trip.

Madagascar is a raw, barely explored place. Ita��s on few peoplea��s radar, and I doubt it will be for awhile, making now an ideal time to go. Ita��s cheap (once you get there), your tourist dollars can create a really positive impact, and there are few crowds and many cute lemurs and majestic landscapes, which you get virtually to yourself!

How to get there

The first thing you need to know is that getting to Madagascar is not easy: therea��s only one daily flight from Johannesburg, Air France has one daily from Paris, and only Turkish, Kenyan, and Ethiopian Airlines have flights that connect to other destinations.

I jumped on a flight deal to Johannesburg ($630 USD for New York to Johannesburg and then onward to Vienna) but that was a stupid thing to do. Given the price of flights from JNB to Madagascar (I paid $800 USD round-trip), it ended costing me more than just booking a direct ticket to Madagascar.

I was pretty stupid not looking up flights enough beforehand and waiting until the last minute, but even a�?booking smarta�? doesna��t mean youa��ll find a deal. Herea��s a chart for December and January (these are a little cheaper since they are not last-minute and ita��s low season):

A points and miles screenshot
A points and miles screenshot

Youa��re looking at spending at least $500 USD round-trip on a flight from Johannesburg. From Paris, Air France offers direct round-trip flights for around $800 USD. If you are going from the US, you pay around $1,200 USD for a round-trip ticket. Keep in mind those are low season (October-April) flights. During the high season (also the dry season), you’re looking at flights closer to $2,000 USD for the US and $1,200 USD from Europe. From Canada? Prices start around $1,200 CAD in the low season.

However, ita��s not all bad news. There are a few travel hacking opportunities. With some planning, you can find a reward flight. You only need 30,000 miles each way from Europe, and Air France has a decent availability (but if you miss the 30,000-point option, youa��ll be looking at 60-90,000 points each way). United has very sporadic reward flights on partners starting at 40,000 miles each way, but, sadly, no flights from Johannesburg to Madagascar are bookable on points. Here’s what I mean:

A screenshot for points and miles to Madagascar
A screenshot for points and miles to Madagascar
A screenshot for points and miles to Madagascar

So it takes some work to get there, but if you can string together some flight deals (check out Scott’s Cheap Flights, The Flight Deal, and Holiday Pirates) as well as mile opportunities, you can lower the cost to an affordable(ish) level.

How to get around Madagascar

A valley in Madagascar
Organized tours are the most common way to visit the country. One guide told me that about 80% of visitors come on organized tours, and the other 20% hire a private driver to get around. Most of the tourists are an older, very heavily European crowd. I guess that most younger travelers stay away because getting to the country and tours are so expensive and therea��s just not much information on Madagascar.

But leta��s change that and talk about how to visit the country:

Organized tours
A 14-day tour will cost $2,500a��4,000 USD. Youa��ll stay in mid-range hotels (private bathrooms, hot water, breakfast, and maybe even a pool) and have your own bus with a driver and local guide. Youa��ll also get private guides at each park who will explain what youa��re seeing, help spot animals, and give some added context on the destination. Most of the tours follow the same route, hitting all the big parks and destinations in the center of the country, with added paid add-ons to other parts of the country.

Nomadic Matt in Madagascar

I went with Intrepid Travel Travel on its Experience Madagascar tour as part of my sitea��s partnership with them. Our guide Patrick was a phenomenal resource, answering all my questions, providing advice, and giving tips on what to see and do in this country that lacks a lot of resources to research.

If it were up to me, I would have focused the tripa��s itinerary more. I think Intrepid Travel sometimes tries to do too much; for example, the trip to Ile Sainte Marie adds way to much time on the bus. While I liked everything we did, I wish there had been more time visiting each place and less time driving.

Going on your own
Madagascar is a difficult place to do solo. Therea��s little tourist infrastructure or hostels (which makes sense given how inexpensive hotels and guesthouses are here), information is limited, and public buses dona��t go to many cities and national parks. Youa��ll need to know French, too, as English is barely spoken. In my opinion, this makes it really arduous to get around without any assistance.

But could you travel around on your own? Sure a�� though very few people do, Order reminyl 16 ita��s totally possible to visit solo. But I think youa��d need to be an experienced traveler, really OK being pushed out of your comfort zone, and in absolutely no rush, because getting around on a budget will take time. Since the roads are really bad, getting from point A to B is a challenge. In a public taxi brouse (small van packed to the gills with people), youa��ll move slowly. Buses go when they are full. Therea��s no set timetable. Sometimes they show up; more often than not, they dona��t.

(However, seeing the condition of the buses and how many people they cram in there, plus the number of accidents on the road, Ia��m not sure Ia��d even get in one. I wouldna��t want to spend 24 hours packed like a chicken in a van with no air conditioning (and sometimes not even windows). I have too much anxiety to whip around on narrow roads.)

Nomadic Matt by a bus

Renting a car and driver costs $50 USD a day (or slightly more if you want 4WD) and is the most popular option for people looking to go on their own (and not wanting to wait for the buses). While you could drive on your own, most of the companies I looked at required that a driver go with you.

You can also fly around the island, but therea��s only one airline (Air Madagascar), and most routes cost around 200 euros per leg.

Going with the flow is key here if you want to travel solo. You either have to pick a small area to cover or have a month or more set aside to explore Madagascar thoroughly.

So, what should you do?
Beautiful scenery in Madagascar
If youa��re really looking for some rugged, old-school independent travel, Madagascar is the place to do it. If you have lots of time and are up for a real challenge, go solo but give yourself plenty of time to do so a�� and learn French! (I really cana��t stress the need for knowing French. Outside the big towns and a few tourist areas, English is barely spoken.) Youa��ll cover slightly more ground and have a lot more freedom if you rent a car and driver. There’s plenty of cheap guesthouses and restaurants around so you won’t need to look far and wide for a place to stay or a meal.

If you arena��t looking for that kind of rugged experience and would like something more organized, a tour is the best – and really only – option. I wanted a tour to help me get the lay of the land and answer all my questions about the country. Additionally, I dona��t speak French and didna��t have a lot of time. A tour was a great orientation to a country that was an enigma to me. It was a wonderful way to meet people in a destination with few independent travelers. (One thing to remember is that the clientele of the tours here is older and the tours cater to that in their itineraries, activities, and accommodation. The tours here aren’t designed for active backpackers.)

If I went back, I’d go by myself and explore with a car but I’m glad I went with a tour on my first visit.

Is Madagascar safe?

A lemur in Madagascar
When I was wandering around, I never once felt unsafe. I was more of a curiosity than anything ,since they see so few tourists, especially those not ensconced in a bus. There are a lot of beggars, especially kids, and you have to just keep saying no and walking away. The taxi drivers here take no for an answer and no one really bugs you.

That said, crime is rife throughout the country, and not one local I knew recommended going out after dark. They dona��t even do it. In fact, many hotels in the capital of Antananarivo hire escorts to take people from the hotel to bars or restaurants.

During the day and, especially in smaller villages, walking around is perfectly fine. At night, I would use a lot more caution, especially in the capital.

What are prices like?

A small town in Madagascar
Though getting to the country is expensive, once you are there everything is incredibly cheap. Your money goes a long, long way in Madagascar. I went to a local market and spent 100 ARY on a spring roll. After realizing that there are 3,000 ARY to the dollar, that meant I had paid just three cents. As I was still hungry, I bought 15 more.

Even when you are eating at the hotel restaurants the tours overnight gabupenton delivery. go to, most meals arena��t more than $4 USD. In regular, local restaurants, they are half that price.

Madagascar food is mostly chicken, zebu (a type of cattle), pork, stews, and rice. LOTS OF RICE. (Get the Zebu in a stew. Ita��s better that way.) Therea��s also a lot of surprisingly good pizza in this country. Youa��ll definitely need to know French if you go into the non-international places (or travel outside of the cities).

Even on the road, there are a lot of restaurants (again, knowing French is going to be key here, especially outside the capital Antananarivo). Hotels are $20-50 USD per night (on the cheaper range outside the capital). You can easily find accommodation on booking.com. There’s plenty of accommodation listed on that website.

Here are some typical prices:

  • Meals at restaurants that cater to tourists a�� 10,000-25,000 ARY ($3-8 USD)
  • Meals at regular, local restaurants a�� 3,000-6,000 ($1-2 USD)
  • Street snacks a�� 10-200 ARY (up to 5 cents US) (Be sure to try the nem (spring rolls). They are incredible!)
  • Accommodation a�� 65,000-160,000 ARY per night ($20-50 USD)
  • Car with a driver a�� 160,000 ARY a day ($50 USD)
  • Grocery prices a�� 10,000 ARY ($3 USD) (This would get you a kilo of rice, some zebu, and a variety of vegetables.)
  • SIM Card – 3,100 ARY ($1 USD) for a SIM and 25,000 ARY ($8 USD) per gig of data.
  • Park entrance fees – 55,000 Ariary ($17 USD) and guides start at 20,000 AR ($6 USD)
  • Local mini buses – 10,000 – 20,000 ARY ($3-6 USD)

***

Madagascar was a beautiful, raw, and enchanting country. Therea��s no place like it on earth. Far off the tourist trail, this a destination where your inner Indiana Jones or Anthony Bourdain can be set free to explore. Ia��m so glad I went, and though the old traveler adage is a�?I cana��t wait to go back,a�? I suspect that my visit to Madagascar will be the only one in my lifetime. I hope Ia��m wrong, but given the difficulty getting there, it really can be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

And I hope you make it in your lifetime!

1 – Official stats are 293,000 but I’ve seen higher and lower figures so consider this an estimate. Links: Source and Source

Note: I went to Madagascar with Intrepid Travel as part of our ongoing partnership. They paid for the tour and my expenses during the trip. I paid for my flights to and from Madagascar. They offer 10% off their tours to readers so click the link and save on your next trip.

Note #2: As someone pointed out, there are a couple of hostels in the country. I don’t know why they didn’t appear on my earlier search but I’ve amended the article from “no hostels” to “a few hostels.” My apologies for the previous incorrect information.

Is Travel Hacking Really a Scam?

Nomadic Matt in first class
Last month, I wrote an article on how to travel anywhere for $1,000. I wanted to show people how, by changing how you save and using a few budget techniques, you could make any trip happen for $1,000 (or less) from start to finish. While that is a lot of money to most people, ita��s not an insurmountable amount of money to save with a few clever ninja techniques (it works out to only $2.74 per day).

In the article, I picked expensive destinations as examples because I didna��t want to be accused of copping out by picking cheap places. If I had, I imagined the Internet would rise up and say a�?Oh, sure, Matt! Anyone can travel to Thailand on a budget. Thata��s easy. What about (insert expensive destination)? This article is fake news!a�?

In picking expensive destinations, I used points and miles to help mitigate the costs of getting to each destination. Using points and miles for cheap and free flights and accommodation was a must. After all, ita��s one thing to pay $700 for a flight if the destination only costs a few dollars a day. Ita��s another thing to pay that much when youa��re going to Australia! You wona��t get far with only $300 to spend in Australia!

But a different a�� and unexpected a�� backlash erupted. On the blog and social media, people kept commenting that points/miles are money, have a cost, arena��t easy to get, only work in the States, and that, basically, the whole article was BS. For example:

a�?Matt, like some people have mentioned before me in the comment section: not everyone has miles or bonus points. You know Ia��m a travel writera��and yet I have never joined a frequent flyer program. I dona��t have miles or points to redeem, and likewise, there are also people who might not have saved up enough points to fly entirely free.

a�?Between cheaper destinations and relying on bonus points, you chose the latter for your articlea��s premise, and it feels a bit like saying: I could be telling you to go camping, but hey, that would be too easy, so leta��s talk cruising a�� now, redeem 100,000 Airmiles for this two-week cruise and youa��ve got $1,000 to play with on board!

a�?It doesna��t seem entirely fair.a�?

First, let me say you are all correct. From the outset, I should have factored in taxes and fees into the cost of the trips, and have since changed the expense chart to reflect that. It was silly of me to not include that from the outset. I apologize for the oversight.

But, second, I dona��t think using points or miles is in Purchase feldene anyway cheating or unfair. (Ia��d also like to say that while they were a big part of the article, many of the other tips helped lower costs just as much!)

To me, points and miles are free money. They have no cost to me. I dona��t give up anything to get them. I think of them as the perk for being smart about my spending. Sure, I have to spend the points/miles in addition to money, and I know some of you view points and miles as having some value with an opportunity cost to them, etc.

But I dona��t think of them that way.

They are just a thing I get when I spend money that I would have spent anyway.

Let me explain in more detail. A lot of people think points and miles are hard to get, that you have to do crazy stuff to get them, or you have to spend lots of money to get there:

a�?To collect miles requires spending money. To say one can travel anywhere for $1,000 and then condition that on free airfare is disingenuous. The advice is aimed at people who might find $1,000 a lot of money. Leta��s assume you need 80,000 miles for an award and can find a sign-up offer for 40,000. That means you probably have to spend $40,000 to collect the other 40,000 miles. Then the advice to use hotel points for free rooms. Assume you want a seven-day vacation and rooms are just 15,000 a night. Thata��s another 105,000 hotel points, and another $105,000 spend. Even if your hotel card gets two-for-one points, thata��s still $52,500 in spend. So for me to go on a vacation for $1,000 I need to charge $92,500. Ia��m surprised you missed telling us to just go for one day and avoid six more days of hotel, meal, and local transportation expenses.a�?

I hear you and I see the logic but I disagree. You can earn a lot of points and miles per year with much less spending than described because there are pretty easy ways to earn multiple points/miles per dollar spent.

Ia��m a terrible travel hacker compared to my friends. I dona��t do some of the crazy things they do to earn points and miles because I dona��t have a lot of time, so I like to make it easy on myself. I dona��t buy extra things, overspend, resell furniture or gift cards, or give up my Saturdays to go buy stuff in bulk and then sell it online for a profit.

I simply go about my life and spend wisely. I have chart for which cards I use for which expenses, so I always get the most miles per dollar spent. Here it is:

How I Optimize My Spending with My Travel Credit Cards
credit card chart for travel hacking
(Note: I also have all the co-branded airline cards but I rarely ever use those.)

Through all this, I earn a million or more miles per year. If it was really only 1 point/mile per dollar spent, then I would have to spend one million a year but thata��s not the case. When I need to buy something, I do it online for bonus points through airline shopping portals (I recently got 6x American Airlines miles for my Macya��s shopping on top of my credit card points). Need something on Amazon? I buy a gift card from Office Depot for purdue rx cod. 5x points and then go through JetBlue for 3x more points. Buying a new computer? Ia��m off to get a new card to hit the minimum spending for the bonus. Got a few minutes? I answer some surveys for points.

I’m always earning multiple points per dollar spent. It’s rarely one to one. (Note: You can click here to see a more detailed breakdown of where I earn my million points/miles.)

I dona��t view collecting points/miles as a cost because I dona��t spend extra money to earn them. To me, something has a cost when I give up money to get it.

Sure, there are taxes and fees are included in the ticket that vary wildly among airlines (Ia��m looking at you, BA and Virgin), but ita��s still cheaper than the price of a full ticket. And hotels dona��t charge these fees, so the cost of them using points is literally zero. Also, some credit cards allow you to wipe charges off of them, making those expenses literally zero too.

If you want to travel more, points and miles have to be something you do (providing you live in a place where they are an option). Even if it takes you are year to accumulate them, they help you unlock your dreams by drastically reducing the cost of everything.

When I ask most people why they dona��t travel hack, they just shrug their shoulders and go, a�?I dona��t know. Seems hard, I guess.a�? I think people believe because travel hacking seems complicated, therefore it must be so. Actually, it is not.

In addition, travel hacking seems to run counter to everything we have learned about finance. Wea��re taught to think of money and credit in one way:

a�?Credit cards a bad. The companies are bad. Never pay a fee. Your score is sacred and doing things like this hurt it, and youa��ll never get a loan.a�?

But that is just bullshit. Ita��s a myth perpetuated by….well, I dona��t know who exactly, but people keep believing it.

You earn points and miles for everyday purchases you would have bought anyways and the perks outweigh the credit card fees. For example, with my $450 per year Chase card, I get:

  • $300 in airline credit
  • 3x points on travel and restaurants (so I can earn points faster)
  • Global Entry ($100 every five years)
  • Purchase protection so I can get refunded if things I buy are lost, damaged, or stolen
  • A priority pass for lounge access (about $100 a year)
  • Trip insurance

My $49-a-year IHG card gives me a free night at a category 1-5 property (around $200 a night) and my American Airlines card comes with free checked bags, saving me hundreds of dollars a year!

Additionally, my credit score has only gone up because of this as now I have more credit and less debt as well as a good payment history. (And, as my friend Gary says, a�?What good is a credit score if you dona��t use it?a�?)

If you pay your bills off each month and are reasonable with your money, not collecting points and miles is saying no to free money. Ita��s saying, a�?I dona��t want to be rewarded for my good spending habits.a�?

Free is the best word in travel.

When you dona��t travel hack, the only person you are hurting is yourself. You arena��t hurting the banks or the airlines. They are in on the game.

In my view, travel hacking is something to be embraced. It reduces the cost of travel. You can do this in a lot of countries around the world! Even if takes you a year to earn a free flight, why not take the flight? One free flight is better than no free flights.

Anything that saves money and reduces the cost of travel is something every traveler should do.

Saying no to travel hacking is saying yes to spending more money on travel a�� and why would you ever want to do that?


P.S. – If you want to learn more and figure out how to collect points and miles, click here to download the book I wrote on travel hacking. It will tell you how program work, what cards to get, give you step-by-step instructions, tips, tricks, and secret ways to collect miles.

Adventure Races and Overland Travel: An Interview with Ric

Ric from Global Gaz with a tuk tuk in an Indian rally
There are some amazing overland adventures around the world like the Mongol Rally and the Rickshaw Run. Overland travel is one of my favorite ways to travel. I believe the closer you get to the ground, the more countryside you visit, the better to get to understand a place. Sadly, I’ve never done a big overland rally but one of our community members has! Ric, another fellow Bostonian, has driven almost 7,000 miles in races and rallies across the globe. He’s an adventurous traveler, and in this interview he shares his tips and insight to help anyone learn how to travel off-the-beaten path!

Nomadic Matt: Hey Ric! Thanks for doing this! Tell everyone about yourself.
Ric: Ia��m Ric from Boston. I am just a guy who previously worked in the financial services industry after college. Now, Ia��m based in Bangkok for about half of the year. I go back to the US to visit for a couple of months, and then I am traveling and exploring for about four months a year.

Besides my blog, GlobalGaz, I am a podcaster at Counting Countries, where I interview people who have traveled to every country in the world (Ia��m hoping to accomplish that goal one day soon). I co-lead Bangkoka��s Travel Massive as well as organize a 2,500-person Meetup.com group. I enjoy bringing together people who love to travel to share their passion.

Ia��ve also published three books: two on road rallies I participated in through India and the Caucasus region, and the third is a photo journal of when I slept over at Chernobyl (I am a bit obsessed with photography). cheap ventolin inhalers. I have produced two full-length travel documentaries and keynoted at the PATA Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference.

When not on the road I enjoy hanging out with my wife and our new dog Khan Mak, a Pomeranian and Chihuahua mix.

It sounds like you’re on an epic quest! How did you get started traveling?
Getting fired was helpful! I was laid off from my job on three different occasions in five years. Each time I got laid off, I took the severance package and embarked on months-long international road trips. On the third trip, I realized I couldna��t go back to my former corporate life and needed to make my passion a�� traveling a�� my life.

Since then, each year I spend more and more time overseas a�� now typically 9-10 months a year. My goal is to visit 20 new countries this year.

What led you to embrace this nomadic lifestyle?
While I was making good money in the financial services, it was not a fulfilling career. I began to dread going into the office more and more. I had volunteered a bunch of times in Armenia, Tanzania, and Thailand, and these experiences are what really drew me to living overseas.

In 2004, I volunteered in Yerevan, Armenia, at an orphanage. I am ethnically Armenian, so this was a great way to connect with my roots. I spent a lot of time bonding with the kids a�� who today are young adults a�� and have been back every year to visit them; from 2004 to 2010, I hosted an annual festival for the children at the orphanage. I also volunteered at an after-school group where the children learned about film, photography, and journalism.

In Thailand, I have been fortunate to be associated with the Mercy Centre in Bangkok. For the last three years, Ia��ve been a volunteer teacher for kindergarteners. The time spent working with others has made a big impact on me, and I find it to be very rewarding.

Ric from Global Gaz in a race in Eastern Europe

Youa��re trying to go to every country in the world. Can you tell us more about that?
As I visited more and more countries, I decided that I wanted to visit every country in the world. According to the UN, there are 193 countries. I have been to 110 so far. As the list dwindles, the countries become more difficult to visit, whether it is a difficult visa to get, a remote country, or simply dangerous to visit.

I celebrated my 100th country last year in Iraq. Iraq is not your typical holiday spot, but I found my trip to be both rewarding and educational. I was received with warmth and gracious hospitality by the local Iraqis. I spent an entire afternoon with an elderly gentleman who I met drinking tea. He escorted me around the local market, introduced me to his friends, and treated me to lunch.

I also have had some interesting experiences visiting countries that a�?dona��t exista�? such as Transnistria, a country of 500,000 people located between Moldova and Ukraine. Transnistria is not recognized by the UN as a sovereign country; however, you need a Transnistrian visa to enter it. It has its own flag, currency, army, and government. It is a quirky place to visit, if you get a chance.

What do your friends and family think about your constant travels? What did they think when you first started?
My dad has always been supportive of my travels. In fact, he has joined me on some epic trips, such as traveling to the GalA?pagos Islands and Antarctica.

My friends are sometimes intrigued with my travel tales and will come to me for travel advice, and the more adventurous ones will join me on a trip. Ia��ve also made an entire new group of friends from around the world who are fellow travelers and travel bloggers. They are a great resource for support and advice.

Whata��s your number one piece of advice for new travelers?
Of course, the first piece of advice is just to get out there. If you are apprehensive or not experienced, start out slowly. If you want to dip your toe in the water, start off with Western Europe. If you want to take the next step, consider Thailand, Bulgaria, or Argentina (countries with good tourist infrastructure and very affordable). As you get more comfortable and experienced, spread your wings, and travel to more off-the-beaten path places.

To make your travel and life more fulfilling, I would make two suggestions:

  1. Volunteer a�� This is an effective way to become part of the community. You will be able to build genuine friendships with the locals and really learn about the culture and country you are visiting.
  2. Join an adventure rally a�� Rallies allow you to get off the beaten path and see parts of the country that you would not typically visit. The rallies allow for real interactions with the locals.

the jeep car that Ric from Global Gaz drove in a global rally

Tell us more about rally races. What are they and how did you get into them?
A a�?rallya�? is a challenging adventure, where participants travel from point A to point B within some sort of parameters (think Amazing Race). Some rallies specify what kind of transportation to take, such as a tuk-tuk. Other rallies require participants to ride a cart led by oxen, ride a sailboat off the island of Zanzibar, or pilot a paramotor for 1,000 miles in the sky.

My first rally, known as a�?the Caucasian Challenge,a�? was 17 days, 11 countries, and 7,000 km and from Budapest to Yerevan. In 2010, two friends and I bought a 1993 Jeep Cherokee in Budapest for $2,300 USD with 250,000 km already on it. Our team, named a�?The Yerevan Express,a�? competed against 10 other teams. During our journey we got lost and ended up in Montenegro (a country not on the itinerary), and we witnessed the breathtaking mountains of northern Albania. The rally ended when I literally abandoned my car between Georgia and Armenia and took a bus to the airport to leave the country.

Next was the “Rickshaw Challenge.a�? In 2012, I embarked on a 12-day, 2,000km sprint across India (during the monsoon season!) piloting an auto-rickshaw. India is amazing, but it can also be a bit overwhelming on the senses. This is especially true when attempting to navigate the country in a seven-horsepower (think a riding lawnmower) rickshaw. During these 12 days, we were constantly running out of petrol, driving up to 14 hours a day, getting detained by the police, and eating too many samosas to count. Needless to say, crossing a�?the Rickshaw Challengea�? finish line was rewarding.

After that came the “Cambo Challengea�? in 2015, organized by Large Minority (a company that organizes awesome rallies in Sri Lanka, the Amazon, Cambodia, and the Philippines). This was a 1,600km circular route through Cambodia over 12 days. The rally took place on a Cambodian tuk-tuk (for anyone who has been in one, youa��ll understand the struggle!). We navigated our way through the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat, drove past floating villages, stayed with families in an ecovillage called Chambok, camped near temples, and swam in the Gulf of Thailand. a�?The Cambo Challegea�? was another great way to discover realness of this commonly overlooked country while also giving back with Large Minoritya��s commitment to local community (10% of their revenues support local projects).

I documented both a�?the Rickshaw Challengea�? and a�?the Cambo Challengea�? by producing a full-length, adventure travel documentary. My partners and film crew were my former students from Manana, the after-school group in Yerevan.

Ric from Global Gaz getting injuredin rural Cambodia getting stiches from rally accident

What advice would you have people if they wanted to do this? What resources are out there?
Great question! Had I not seen a captivating banner hanging in an Armenian cafA�, Ia��d have never known myself. There are four primary companies that organize most of these rallies:

  • Large Minority
  • Travel Scientists
  • Dakar Challenge
  • The Adventurists

Some of these rallies provide virtually no support, while others provide guidance and assistance (such as route planning, luggage support, or even an ambulance) as you race across the country. Some rallies last ten days (like the Lanka Challenge) while others can top two months (the longest is the Mongol Rally).

You have to fund these rallies yourself (or get a sponsor). Some rallies provide the vehicle, hotels, and support for an inclusive price (which can total a couple thousand dollars per team). Other organizers require you to provide the car and practically everything else, and offer minimal support, for a smaller entry fee (several hundred dollars). Other costs vary greatly, based on what type of accommodations you stay in, the food you eat, the cost of your airplane ticket, and of course, if you have to buy a car for the rally.

You can participate in rallies around the globe. a�?The Ice Runa�? takes place in the Siberian Arctic for 12 days. You can participate in a�?the Monkey Runa�? in the Saharan Desert covering 1000km. a�?The Banjul Challengea�? follows the coast of West Africa for three weeks. a�?The Philippines Challengea�? places you in the crystal blue waters of the Philippines over nine days.

Besides the official websites, check out this overview of some of the best rallies, and these specific blog posts about the Philippines Challenge, the Lanka Challenge, the Central Asian Rally, the Amazon Challenge, and the Mongol Rally.

Whata��s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
I have learned so much from being on the road. But there are two lessons I always try to remember: perspective and the power of perception.

In my former corporate life, I would have spent several thousand dollars on a luxury watch, but not now. Ia��ve grown to value experiences and relationships more than material possessions. Travel definitely changes your perspective.

When it comes to the power of perception, I have one story that stands as a telling example. In 2004, I was chatting up a bartender in Moscow. After I informed him that I was from the US, he told me how much Russians hate Americans (I was a bit surprised, naively thinking the Cold War was over!). He went on about how Europe and the US fabricated Serbiaa��s hostilities against its neighbors and used false facts to justify attacking Serbia (Russiaa��s ally). When I mentioned the mass graves of Muslims in Srebrenica, he told me that they didna��t exist and the West fabricated their existence. So my second lesson from the road is your truth is not the universal truth.

*********

All of Ric’s adventures stemmed from his desire breakthrough the normal 9-5 and explore the world. He didn’t jump into adventure races and rallies on his first trip, he took one trip, then another, and built up his confidence on the road. Eventually, he began driving across the world!

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to think outside the box a bit and figure out ways to use your passion and skills to get out there, escape the cubicle, and see more of this world.

Become the Next Success Story

One of my favorite parts about this job is hearing people’s travel Clomid online prescription stories. They inspire me, but more importantly, they also inspire you. I travel a certain way but there are many ways to travel the world.A�I hope these stories show you that there is more than one way to travel and that it is within your grasp to reach your travel goals. Here are more examples of people who are traveling the world in a unique (some may call it strange) way:

  • How Ryan drove overland from Seattle to South America
  • How Tomislav travels the world on $3,650 USD per year
  • How Arielle got paid to travel worldwide on a yacht
  • How Will adventurously travels on a budget of $20 USD a day

P.S. a�� Want to travel with me? There are only 2 spots left on my next reader tour! I’ll be taking readers on an intimate group tour of Vienna and Prague, where we will visit all my favorite sights, restaurants, bars, and off the beaten path places! Come explore the world with me!

Overland Travel: How Ryan Drove from Seattle to South America

A truck for overlanding
I hate driving. I don’t like driving in my own country, let alone foreign ones. It’s not that I’m bad at it. It’s just that I do it so infrequently that it makes me nervous these days. And so I’m always fascinated by people who travel by car. Back in the early days of this blog I met a group of guys driving a trip around the world. They had crazy stories. A few months ago, I announced we were going to start doing more reader stories to highlight some of your crazy stories. In our first reader spotlight, we’re talking to Ryan who is driving from Seattle down to the tip of South America with his girlfriend! (Which, let’s be honest, sounds like an amazing adventure!)

Nomadic Matt: Tell everyone here about yourself!
Ryan: Ia��m 33 years old and originally from Seattle, Washington, but after college I spent five years working in Washington, DC in the halls of Congress. When my boss decided to retire in 2012 instead of run for re-election, I opted to take a yearlong sabbatical to road-trip across the American West and to hike and climb as much as I could. When the year came to an end, though, I wasna��t ready to give up the nomadic lifestyle, so I just kept going.

So how did you get into travel?
My first overseas travel experiences were thanks to studying abroad in college, with lengthy stays in Florence, Italy, and Sanaa��a, Yemen. Both trips instilled in me a sense of wanderlust that stuck with me through my years of working a desk job, and I believe they played a significant role in eventually getting me out there on the road.

Where has this amazing trip taken you so far?
Following my yearlong road trip through the American West, I headed down to Colombia with a buddy and we set out explore the country. We only made it as far as MedellA�n, where I settled down. I felt a need to slow down after living out of my truck and then a backpack for about 15 months a�� and then meeting a great local girl.

my girlfriend and I drove my truck from Seattle to MedellA�n, traveling overland through every country in Central America and having an amazing time. We had to ship the truck from ColA?n, Panama, to Cartagena, Colombia), since there are no roads through the DariA�n Gap (the missing link in the Pan-American Highway.

We stopped in MedellA�n for a bit again to regroup, but we are now getting ready to head out on part two of the road trip: driving all the way to the southern tip of Patagonia, which is a place I have long dreamed about visiting.

We will mostly be traveling along the Andean spine on this journey, and Ia��m looking forward to immersing myself in the mountain scenery.

What made you decide to go on this trip?
My solo road trip across the American West was an absolutely transformative experience, and the seed of driving to Patagonia got planted in my mind and took root over a few years. I began to think, why just drive across America when you can drive across all of the Americas?

I also like exploring new cultures and foods and immersing myself in different languages whenever I travel overseas. I long to get a little farther afield, to get off the well-worn tourist track, and that can be quite difficult. Ia��ve traveled the backpacker circuit and schlepped my bag around colorful little towns and hopped on and off public buses a�� but when youa��ve got your own wheels, a whole new world of travel opens up and allows you to get away from the crowds and immerse yourself in local life.

Ryan standing in the ocean

What’s been the biggest lesson so far?
Just how doable this sort of trip is!

When you take in the whole scope of driving across Central America a�� traveling into a�?dangerousa�? Mexico, dealing with corrupt cops or protests and blockades, and contemplating the logistical hassles of crossing eight or nine international borders with your vehicle and then loading it into a shipping container to South America a�� it can all just be overwhelming. It seems almost impossible.

But when you break it down into a day-to-day journey, it was all quite easy. One thing flowed from another, nothing was as hard as we imagined it would be, and we came out more confident and capable with every little bump in the road.

What’s your number one piece of advice for a trip like this?
Ia��d say one of the best parts about travel is overcoming challenges and embracing the unknown, so just let go of the idea of waiting for things to be perfect!

In the overland travel community, Ia��ve seen countless people who plan for years and years, investing more and more money into their vehicles and accessories, and spending more time and money on the a�?getting readya�? stage than they do on the actual travel and adventures. Ita��s as if the planning becomes the substitute for actually doing.

But as for more concrete advice for a new traveler, Ia��d highly, highly recommend learning as much of the target language you can before leaving. The first time I came to Colombia, I had the basics of Spanish: ordering food, getting around in a taxi, other formalities. But my travels have become so much more rewarding as my language skills improved and I could really communicate with the people I was meeting on a daily basis.

Overlanding in South America

What are the logistics of a trip like this? Is it hard to plan?
Logistically, there are a few basics you should have covered, which would entail having the originals (and lots of copies) of all the relevant vehicle documents: your title, registration, etc. But you dona��t actually need much more beyond your passport, and a general idea of where you are going (or in some cases, places you shouldna��t go, for safetya��s sake). But if you add in some equipment to allow you to camp and cook, youa��ll be much more versatile on the road and have more options for saving money.

One incredible resource that initially planted the idea of driving all this way was the annual Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona, where a few thousand people gather every spring to talk about all aspects of overlanding. They offer seminars and talks from experienced travelers on everything from safety and security to camp-cooking recipes to border-crossing tips and tricks. Attendees are a mix of people who have completed massive drives across the Americas or Africa, people in the planning stages for a big international trip, and those who just like camping out of their vehicles in the USA.

Being around so many like-minded people who had a�?been there, done thata�? was what initially made me feel like this was possible a�� though it was another two years before I drove across the border into Mexico.

Due to the sheer scale and uncertainty of a monster trip like this, it can indeed be difficult to plan everything out in advance in terms of where to go, where to stay, etc. Before leaving, we planned in broad strokes the route we would take, about how long we thought we would take in each country, etc., but we were open to being flexible throughout the journey.

Luckily there have been many travelers who have documented their trips on their blogs and can provide a good frame of reference on border crossings, where to camp, safety concerns as a driver abroad, and so forth.

One of my favorite resources while on the road was a website called iOverlander.com, where fellow travelers add prices, descriptions, and GPS coordinates to everything from free campsites to cheap hotels with secure parking lots. It has become the go-to resource for overland travelers.

What’s been the most difficult part of your journey?
The hardest part and the easiest part are both the same: traveling with your vehicle. An obvious foreign license plate can attract interest, both good and bad: friendly locals will take notice and chat you up about your travels a�� and more unscrupulous people might target your vehicle for the valuables inside.

Traveling with your own vehicle provides added worries at times. You must always be somewhat conscious of the general security of your vehicle so as to not expose yourself to potential break-ins when parking on the street a�� or even in some parking lots a�� and there are the added difficulties of traveling into small colonial cities with narrow roads. Then therea��s finding a hotel that also offers secure parking for your vehicle when so many cater to the backpacker crowd.

That being said, we had no break-ins or anything like that on the whole journey, and while we were cautious, we werena��t overly so or paranoid.

The easiest part of this trip, though a�� again a�� is having your own vehicle, which means you are free to bring quite a bit more stuff than if you were backpacking. We travel with gear for cold and warm weather, for general camp comfort, and for cooking, as well as quite a few electronics: laptops, cameras, a small solar panel, etc. We also have the freedom to go when and where we want, without being tied to public transportation or the traditional backpacker circuit.

So there are two sides to the same coin, but Ia��d say the benefits of a�?overlanda�? travel like this far outweigh the negatives.

Overlanding near a mountain

Does this cost a lot to do? How do you keep costs down?
The big up-front cost for overland travel is obviously the vehicle. Vans, trucks, or SUVs are generally the vehicle of choice for most overlanders, given their size and the ability to create a space to sleep inside the vehicle (or on top of it, with a roof-top tent).

If you already have a truck or van, youa��ve overcome the biggest cost. I used my old 1991 Toyota 4×4 pickup a�� the same truck Ia��ve had since high school a�� and it served me well with the addition of an elevated canopy and a simple build-out of the back to create a sleeping platform and storage system.

If you have to purchase a vehicle, you would do well to look for an older rig that is sold all over the world, like a Toyota, so you wona��t deal with more obscure vehicle brand or engine parts that might be hard to come by in other parts of the world.

If youa��re looking to buy, you could also join overlanding groups and try to purchase from a fellow traveler who has recently completed the trip and is looking to unload the vehicle at a cheap price rather than ship it overseas to their home country. They typically sell in Panama, Colombia, Argentina, or Chile.

There are people who have done the trip with a traditional car and many who complete the drive by motorcycle or even by bicycle a�� so dona��t let the fact that you dona��t have the a�?perfecta�? vehicle stop you from this adventure.

Overlanding in South America

In terms of the actual costs during the trip, it can vary a lot from country to country and depending on the exchange rate, but Ia��d say our general rule of thumb for the entire trip thus far was about $75 per day, as a couple. That price is overall for everything, including gasoline, hotels or camping, food, etc. As always, you could do it for either less or more money, depending on the individual traveler.

The price breaks down to around $20/night for lodging, $20/day for food, and $35/day for vehicle expenses (gas, toll roads, paid parking, maintenance, etc.). But those daily averages can vary a lot from place to place.

Sometimes a country, like Mexico, is so cheap to travel in that we find ourselves eating out frequently and finding budget hotels. But other times a country is so expensive, like Costa Rica (for gas, lodging, food, everything!), that we spend virtually all our time camping and only occasionally eating out. Our strategy for keeping costs down is to sleep more often in the back of the synthroid from mexico. truck at cheap or free camping areas, and to cook a little more often.

Surprisingly, there arena��t many costs associated with bringing your vehicle into each country. Some countries require you to purchase insurance, others dona��t; some have small fees ($10-15) associated with bringing your vehicle across (temporary import permit, insurance, fumigation), some are free, some are kind of expensive, like Honduras ($40).

But overall it is quite affordable to cross international borders with Buy eurax lotion a vehicle, and your biggest expenses remain the regular costs of gasoline and maintenance.

If you want to follow up on Ryan, he is the author of Big Travel, Small Budget and the blogger behind Desk to Dirtbag, detailing his travels and outdoor adventures after leaving his Washington, D.C. desk job. Right now you can find him road tripping across all of South America and follow his adventures on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

P.S. – Ever wanted to visit Austin? Next month, I’ll be leading a small group of people around my home city! We’ll be staying in the hostel I own, visiting my favorite locals bars and restaurants, hanging with some of my cool friends, and two stepping the night away! If you want to spend a few days down south, here’s more information!

How Travel Taught Me How to Not Give a F*ck

Mark Manson looking over a city
I vaguely knew about Mark Manson. He was a friend of friends, a fellow blogger, and someone I knew who wrote well researched (and always a little controversial) posts. When he and his wife moved to NYC, we finally met in person (I actually met his wife first). We became friends – we’re both nerds, entrepreneurs, writers, poker players, and lovers of whiskey. I blurbed his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. It’s a phenomenal book about focusing on what matters. Chelsea Handler and Chris Hemsworth (aka THOR) are huge fans. Mark is a phenomenal writer and, and in a long overdue post, he finally wrote something for the site. In this post, Mark talks about how travel made him the person is today – and laid the foundation for the book.

I have vomited in six different authentic online pharmacies. countries. That may not be the most savory statistic for a travel article, but when youa��re huddled over a drainage ditch, spewing up what for all you know could have been sautA�ed rat meat, these moments have a way of staying in your mind.

I remember getting a flat tire in the Indian countryside and the locals being flabbergasted as I changed it myself. I remember staying up until 4AM in a hostel arguing with a drunk English kid who thought 9/11 was a hoax. I remember an old Ukrainian man got me drunk on the best vodka of my life and claimed he was stationed in a Soviet U-Boat off the coast of Mississippi in the 1970s (which is probably untrue, but who knows).

I remember climbing the Great Wall of China hungover, getting ripped off on a boat trip in Bali (spoiler alert: there was no boat), sneaking my way into a five-star resort on the Dead Sea, and the night I met my wife in a Brazilian night club.

Since selling my possessions in the fall of 2009, I remember a lot of things. I set out with a small suitcase to travel around the world. I had a small internet business, a blog, and a dream.

My year (maybe two) long trip turned into seven years (and sixty countries).

With most things in life, you know exactly what benefits you’re going to get from them. If I go to the gym, I know Ia��m going to get stronger and/or lose weight. If I hire a tutor, I know Ia��m going to learn more about a specific subject. If I start a new Netflix series, I know Ia��m not going to sleep for the next three days until I finish it.

But travel is different.

Mark Manson at the Grand Canyon

Travel, unlike anything else in life, has the beautiful ability to give you benefits you didna��t expect. It doesna��t just teach you what you dona��t know, it also teaches you what you dona��t know you dona��t know.

I gained a lot of amazing experiences from my travels — experiences I expected and looked for. I saw incredible sites. I learned about world history and foreign cultures. I often had more fun than I knew was possible.

But the most important effects of my years of travel are actually the benefits that I didna��t even know I would get and the memories I didna��t know I would have.

For example, I dona��t know the moment I became comfortable being alone. But it happened somewhere in Europe, probably in either Germany or Holland.

When I was younger, I would consistently feel as though something was wrong with me if I was by myself for too long — a�?Do people not like me? Do I not have any friends?a�? I felt a constant need to surround myself with girlfriends and friends, to always be at parties, and always be in touch. If for some reason I werena��t included in other peoplea��s plans, it was a personal judgment on me and my character.

But, by the time I returned to Boston in 2010, that feeling somehow stopped. I dona��t know where or when. All I know is I flew home from Portugal after 8 months abroad, sat at home, and felt fine.

I dona��t remember where I was when I developed a sense of patience (probably somewhere in Latin America). I used to be the guy who would get angry if a bus was late (which often happens in Latin America), or I missed my turn on the highway and had to loop back around. Sh*t like that used to drive me insane.

Mark Manson talkig about travel

Then one day, it just didna��t. It ceased to be a big deal. The bus will eventually come and I’ll still get to where I need to go. It became clear that my emotional energy was limited and I was better off saving that energy for moments that mattered.

I dona��t recall exactly when I learned how to express my feelings either.

Ask any of my girlfriends pre-travels and theya��ll tell you: I was a closed book. An enigma wrapped in bubble-wrap and held together by duct tape (but with an extremely handsome face).

My problem was that I was afraid to offend people, step on toes, or create an uncomfortable situation.

But now? Most people comment that Ia��m so blunt and open that it can be jarring. Sometimes my wife jokes that Ia��m too honest.

I dona��t recall when I became more accepting of people of different walks of life or when I started appreciating my parents or when I learned how to communicate with someone despite neither of us speaking the same language.

But all of these happened….somewhere in the world, in some country, with somebody. I dona��t have any photos of these moments. I just know they are there.

Somewhere along the way I became a better me.

Mark Manson snorkeling

Last year, I wrote a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. The premise of the book is essentially that we all have a limited number of f*cks to give in our lives, therefore we should be conscious of what wea��re choosing to give a f*ck about.

Looking back, I think that it was my experience traveling that subtly, without me realizing it, taught me to not give a f*ck. It taught me to not give a fu*k about being alone, the bus being late, other people’s plans, or creating an uncomfortable situation or two.

Memories are made from what we give a f*ck about.

I have all the usual photos from my travels. Me on the beaches. Me at Carnaval. Me with my buddy Brad surfing in Bali. Machu Picchu.

I gave a f*ck about those.

The photos are great. The memories are great.

But like anything Purchase fosamax side in life, their importance fades the further removed you get from them. Just like those moments in high school that you think are going to define your life forever cease to matter a few years into adulthood, those glorious peaks of travel experience seem to matter less the more time passes. What seemed life-changing and world-shaking at the time now simply elicits a smile, some nostalgia and maybe an excited, a�?Oh yeah! Wow, I was so skinny back then!a�?

Mark Manson in Moshi

Travel, although a great thing, is just another thing. Ita��s not you. Ita��s something you do. Ita��s something you experience. Ita��s something you savor and brag about to your friends down the street.

But ita��s not you.

Yet these other, memoryless qualities — the outgrown personal confidence, the comfort with myself and my failings, the greater appreciation for family and friends, the ability to rely upon myself — these are the real gifts that travel gives you.

And, despite the fact that they produce no photos or stories for cocktail parties, they are the things stay with you forever.

They are your real lasting memories….because these things are you.

And they will always be you.

Mark Manson is a blogger, entrepreneur, and author of the New York Times Bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. His book is one of the best books I read in 2016 and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s well written, funny, self-deprecating, and even works in a panda bear! You can read more of his work at MarkManson.net.

The Best Travel Gadgets for 2017

technology for travel
In this month’s travel tech column, Dave Dean, our resident travel tech guru, all around cool dude, and found of the tech website Too Many Adapters, rounds up the best travel gadgets for 2017.

Working out what to pack a�� and more importantly, what to leave behind a�� is a major hassle for travelers, whether youa��re gone for a week or a year. Tech gear, in particular, is a problem: models and features change all the time; ita��s fragile, expensive, and tempting to thieves; and it can easily distract from the experience youa��re trying to have. Even worse, a lot of it just doesna��t work very well once you get Cheap grifulvin out on the road.

Ia��ve been writing about technology for travelers since 2011, and have tested more useless gadgets than I care to remember. Occasionally, though, something stands out: a phone thata��s particularly durable, skelaxin order online. a laptop thata��s surprisingly good value, a little accessory that genuinely improves your trip.

Here, then, are my 2017 recommendations for quality tech gear that makes your trip simpler and easier, without destroying your bank balance or luggage allowance.

Smartphones

smartphones for travel
A smartphone is easily the single most useful piece of technology a traveler can buy. In fact, since it replaces everything from a flashlight to a camera, a guidebook to a music player and much more, many people can (and do) get away without packing any other gadgets.

You can spend under $250 for a good budget model, or close to $1000 for a top-of-the-range version. There are benefits to spending more, of course, but not everyone needs the extra features that come with the higher price tags. These are my top picks across the range:

  • Budget – Motorola Moto G 5 Plus.A�Motorola has been making good, inexpensive smartphones for several years, and the Moto G 5 Plus continues the trend. For around $230 (less, if you get the model with Amazon ads), youa��ll have a phone that does all the basics well. Ita��s also water resistant. The battery should last all but the longest travel days, and therea��s a a�?TurboChargera�? that gives six hours more use in just 15 minutes and you can even stick in a micro-SD card so youa��ll never run out of storage space. Ita��s easily my top budget pick right now.
  • Mid-Range – OnePlus 3T.A�OnePlus keeps turning out mid-priced phones with high-end specs, and the 3T is the best so far. For under $500, youa��ll get a smartphone with more storage, RAM, and raw performance than devices costing far more. It has dual SIM slots, so you can easily switch between your home SIM and a money-saving local SIM card; all-day battery life; and a fast charger that takes it from 0 to 60% in half an hour.
  • High-end – Apple iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S8.A� Android owners with big bank accounts should pick up the Samsung Galaxy S8. Ita��s the sexiest smartphone on the market, with a curved a�?infinitya�? display that makes every other phone look old and boring. The S8 crams a larger screen into a smaller space than the competition, and it has plenty of storage and RAM plus a micro-SD slot for ensuring that you never run out of space. Along with its great performance, it is water and dust resistant and has one of the best cameras youa��ll find on any phone. For Apple lovers, the iPhone 7 gets almost everything right, with exceptional performance and build quality, a fantastic camera, and of course, access to everything in the App Store.

Tablets and e-readers

tablets for travel
Dona��t want to do every tech task on your phone? While Ia��ve stopped recommending any of the smaller tablet computers a�� when your phone has a 5.5a�? display, therea��s little point also carrying a 7a�? tablet a�� the larger models are a different story.

  • Apple: iPad.A�The standard iPad is best for most travelers. Ita��s dropped in both weight and price recently, and you now get a useful, lightweight 10a�? tablet (Wi-Fi-only version), with enough storage, for bit over $300. It’s perfect for watching Netflix, browsing the email, and staying up to date on Facebook! (You can get one with a SIM card slot as well, but ita��s a lot more expensive and only worth considering if you dona��t have an unlocked smartphone and want to stay connected all the time.)
  • Android: Asus Zenpad 3S 10.A�The Asus Zenpad 3S 10 gives you a faster, cheaper tablet, with great graphics and more storage space. It has a fast-charging option (especially useful for those huge tablet batteries) and a micro-SD slot to add even more storage when you run out. Ita��s a premium tablet, sleek and lightweight, and well worth the money.
  • E-reader: Paperwhite. If you enjoy a good book, consider an e-reader as well. Ia��ve been using one of Amazona��s Kindles for years, and recently upgraded to the Paperwhite. With its non-glare screen, weeks of battery life, and built-in light that doesna��t strain your eyes or annoy others in dark rooms, ita��s easy to recommend. Not carrying physical books saves weight and space in your bag, and in countries where English-language books are hard to find, being able to download a new one with a couple of taps is a godsend.

Laptops

laptops for travel
With phones and tablets having more power and storage each year, therea��s less need for most travelers to carry something else. If youa��re planning to do more than light work from the road, though, therea��s still no replacement for a good laptop.

  • Windows: Asus Zenbook UX330UA.A�The best value for money by far is the Asus Zenbook UX330UA. The company has been making very good, lightweight, $700 laptops for a few years, and the latest model continues the tradition. It gets all the basics right a�� 8Gb of RAM, a 256Gb solid-state drive, excellent battery life a�� while having more than enough power, and weighing well under three pounds. It doesna��t make silly compromises like cutting out USB ports or SD card readers, and you can even hook it up to a TV in your Airbnb apartment to watch your favorite shows.
  • Mac: MacBook Pro.A�The Air, which used to be the perfect travel laptop, hasna��t been updated in so long, it makes no sense to buy it. The 12a�? MacBook is also due for an update, and with a relatively slow processor and just a single USB-C port thata��s also used for charging, youa��re quite restricted in what you can do with it. If I were considering one of these, Ia��d likely choose to save a bunch of money, and just buy an iPad Pro and Bluetooth keyboard instead. That said the older version MacBook Pro has dropped in price and only weighs 3.5 pounds and comes with old fashioned USB and SD card slots. The new model, while sleek and light, is pretty expensive and doesn’t come with these features. I prefer non-Apple products but if you were looking for a powerful Apple computer, the older Macbook Pro is the best choice.

Accessories

accessories for travel
Therea��s no need to fill your backpack with gadgets, but a few well-chosen accessories go a long way. Better Wi-Fi, easier charging, simple photo backup, and drowning out noisy kids (and noisier adults), improves any trip. Here are eight accessory recommendations to do exactly that:

  • Multi-USB travel adapter a�� This is my single favorite travel accessory right now. Ita��s small and light, and it lets you charge up to four USB devices from a single power socket. Ita��s great in hostels and airports, comes with clip-on adapters that let you use it in 150 countries, and costs under twenty bucks.
  • Travel power strip a�� If youa��re also carrying devices like laptops and cameras that need charging from the wall, use one of these little power strips instead. With two North American sockets, plus three USB ports, you can power everything at once. Just remember to pack a universal travel adapter as well.
  • Charging cord a�� I always pack a long USB cable for my phone, plus a small spare in case it breaks. The extra length is super-useful when the power socket is halfway up a walla�� which it always seems to be.
  • Noise-isolating earbuds a�� Screaming kids, snoring dorm mates, honking horns. I shut them all out with these noise-isolating earphones. Music and podcasts sound great, they drown out almost everything (and everyone), and therea��s even a little carrying case to keep them protected and untangled. When I left them on a plane in Bangkok, I went straight out and bought the same model again.
  • Rugged USB stick a�� Whether youa��re backing up trip photos, storing a bunch of TV shows, or just sharing files with friends at the hostel, a USB stick always comes in handy. Go for this rugged version a�� ita��ll stand up to a lot more abuse and costs about the same as more fragile models.
  • Travel router and portable battery a�� Multipurpose gadgets are ideal for travelers, at least when theya��re done well, and this HooToo travel router definitely is. It boosts Wi-Fi networks and lets you share them among all your devices, has a 10,000mAh battery to keep everything charged up, and lets you plug in a USB stick or portable hard drive so you can copy files from your phone or tablet.
  • UE Roll 2 portable speaker a�� There are thousands of travel speakers out there, but most of them are terrible. If you like to share your songs with the hostel or around the campfire, do yourself a favor and grab the UE Roll 2. Ita��s slim and light and waterproof, with amazing sound for its size and up to nine hours of battery life. Therea��s nothing better out there for the money right now.
  • GRAYL ultralight water purifier a�� Ia��ve used a bunch of water purifiers over the years, and the GRAYL is the one Ia��ve stuck with. Ita��s lightweight, super-simple to use, and gets rid of pretty much every nasty you can think of, plus it functions as a normal bottle in places where the water is safe to drink. My girlfriend used it every day on a two week trip in Mozambique, and never got sick. If you want safe water everywhere you go, while cutting down on plastic use, go for the GRAYL.

***
Whatever you decide to take, consider carefully how much youa��ll really use it a�� less is more when it comes to travel, and tech gear is no exception. The less stuff you have to get damaged or stolen, the less time youa��ll spend looking after it and worrying about it.

Once youa��ve made your decision, protect anything fragile with a case (theya��re a lot cheaper than buying replacements), and make sure anything you really care about is covered by your travel insurance. Test everything thoroughly before you leave home, so you know exactly how it works and can deal with any problems while youa��ve still got time and a shipping address.

Dave runs Too Many Adapters, a site devoted to technology for travelers. A geek as long as he can remember, he worked in IT for fifteen years. Now based out of a backpack long term, Dave writes about travel and tech from anywhere with half-decent Internet and a great view. You can also find him talking about the life of a long-term traveller at Whata��s Dave Doing?