a man gazing out over a city landscape at sunset
Spurred by the writing of my next book about my years on the road, I find myself wandering the halls of memory reminiscing about my last decade of travel.

I dig through old photos and journal Silagra price in bangladesh entries. I search Facebook for people I met years ago. Stories and faces long forgotten zoom back into my mind as I wonder where they are and what they are doing.

Those whose lives briefly intersected with my own on the highway of life.

The five backpackers who inspired my original trip. The girl from that hostel in Prague who welcomed me into her friend group when I was too afraid to say hello. The Dutch guys I spent weeks traveling with in Australia. The motley crew I spent a month with in New Zealand. My friends from when I lived in Bangkok. The folks I picked up on my road trip across the states. My first Couchsurfing host. Or this group of crazy cats I spent a month in paradise with:

sharing a meal with new friends

As strangers in a distant land, we were each othera��s support. We were the best of friends, partners in crime, and sometime lovers.

Yet, as we all wander further along lifea��s path and cast our head backwards, we notice each othera��s light fading like a star being snuffed out, until one day, it’s gone and nothing but dust pay for cialis with paypal uk. remains.

new friends

13 Non-Travel Books That Changed My Life

A spacious library full of books
I read many different kinds of books. It’s not all travel. Last month, I shared some of my recent favorite travel books. This month, I wanted to share the non-travel books that have had the most impact on my life and feel have made me a better person. These created paradigm shifts in my thinking. They just made me go “Ohh damn!” They got to interested in new ideas, literature, personal development, and so much more.

If you’re looking to improve your life, change a habit, expand your mind, or just want something 272 can i trust canadian viagra online. interesting to read, here are twelve of the most influential books in my life:

7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey

book cover of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. CoveyOne of the most famous books in the world, this book taught me habits to create a better lifestyle including planning out your week, sleeping more, being proactive in life, the importance of creating win-win situations, and the importance of continuous improvement. It articulated the small things I forget to do to make me a more organized and thoughtful person. If you havena��t read it, you really must! This book will help you become less mindless in your actions and more thoughtful overall. Even if you pick up just one tip to better organize your life in this chaotic world, it will be worth it.

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

cover for The Power of Habit by Charles DuhiggWhy do we do what we do? Are we hard-wired to repeat habits, even when they are bad? How do we break them and form good ones? This bestselling book discusses how we form habits and gives specific strategies about how to break the bad ones and start good ones. It really made me think about the negative habits in my life, why I keep doing them, and how I can change that. I started thinking of all the excuses I tell myself that keep negative habits in my life. Because of this book, I started sleeping at a more regular time, reading again, drinking less, and being more productive. I can’t recommend it enough.

Titan, by Ron Chernow

image of the non-travel book called Titan by Ron ChernowThe biography of J.D. Rockefeller and his rise to power is long, dense, and worth every second. Rockefeller was a fascinating man a�� ruthless in business yet a devout Christian who founded some the biggest universities and health institutions the world has even seen. While I have no desire to be as ruthless as him, this biography was a good lesson in how frugality, slowness, and thoughtfulness can lead to success in life and business. J.D. never moved quickly, was financially conservative, and always reinvested in his company business. His methodical thinking made me rethink how I made business decisions.

Losing My Virginity, by Richard Branson

book called Losing My Virginity by Richard BransonRichard Branson’s autobiography was super interesting (this guy does a lot of insane things) and it inspired me to create my non-profit (FLYTE). I’d been thinking about it for years but reading how Branson just went for things he believed in and worked out the details later inspired me. It’s in stark contrast to Rockefeller, but Branson’s a�?why wait?a�? philosophy on starting projects makes a lot of sense. There’s never going to be a perfect time to start something so why wait? Just like there’s no perfect moment to travel, there’s no perfect moment to do something great. Just take the leap!

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

book image for How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale CarnegieDale Carnegiea��s multi-decade old, but still relevant, book was instrumental in helping me shut my mouth. Ignoring the sensational title, this book ties heavily into what the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People says about listening to when people talk, not being a know it all, and empathizing with others as a way to connect and then influence them. As an introverted person (see Quiet below), this book helped me learn to talk to people better…not in a Machiavellian way but in a way that made me better at handling social situations.

Quiet, by Susan Cain

favorite book is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan CainI’m an introvert in an extroverted world. I would rather read books and sit by myself than be at a big party filled with strangers. I know that sounds weird since I travel all the time and meet people but when I’m with my friends, I get social anxiety about meeting strangers. This renowned book looks at why the world is so extroverted, how that affects us, and lessons for dealing with both introverts and extroverts. As I read through it, I saw myself in the author’s examples and her authora��s lessons on balancing your inner and outer space helped me deal with my social anxiety.

What Got YouA�Here Wona��t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith

yellow cover for What Got YouA�Here Wona��t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall GoldsmithWritten by a management consultant, this book is a guide for executives to become better managers. However, it’s much more than that. It’s a book on how to listen, behave, and think better. Its premise is that if you want to jump up to the next station in life, you’ll need a different set of skills a�� not educational skills a�� but interpersonal skills. Successful people interact well with others and this book talks about the small things, like looking at your phone during lunch or multitasking at a meeting, that send signals to people you’re not really there. This book got me to focus on my relationships more.

Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

book cover for Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian WansinkEvery day we consume food but how aware are we when it comes to what we eat? This book illuminates the insidious ways society creeps in larger portions and mindless eating habits on us that make us gain weight and develop bad skills. This isn’t a book that’s going to just tell you to eat healthier, it shows all the ways society and commercials indoctrinate us to subconsciously eat more food, from growing plate sizes to bulk shopping to “super sizing it.” This book changed how I think about food, consume food, and guard against the insidious nature of calorie creep! I’ve stopped my mindless eating and have been a lot healthier since.

The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene

image of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert GreeneWritten by legendary writer Robert Greene, this book features 48 rules for living a masterful, powerful life. It features historical examples that reinforce the rules and what happens to those who break them. Slightly Machiavellian, I’ve found these “laws” helpful in dealing with my business, strangers, and situations where it is good to have the upper hand (like when you want to argue a bill with Comcast). I find these tips to be more helpful in a workplace environment than in everyday life (mostly because I have no desire to a�?rulea�? people or manipulate my friends). It’s oddly very stoic in parts. This book made me think more strategically in my life.

Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser

cover for Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric SchlosserWhen I was in college, a friend handed me this book and, after reading it, I became a vegetarian. Actually, I tried going organic but, in 2002, organic was even more expensive than it is now. This book opened up my eyes to the crap we put in food, the horrible conditions animals live in, and how poorly we treat food workers. Organic, locally grown, and sustainable are all buzzwords these days, and while people are definitely more conscious of what they eat, I still feel like we are too far removed from the farm. Understanding where our food comes from is essential in changing how we eat and this book did just that…and still does thirteen years later. Making better food choices leads to a happy, healthier life.

The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken

book titled The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability by Paul HawkenWhen I was still working in a cubicle, I did a lot of volunteer work with the environmental organization, The Sierra Club. I wanted to meld my desire for success with my passion for the environment but I didna��t think the two were compatible until I read this seminal book on sustainable development. It opened my eyes to the possibility that you could create a business and be environmentally-friendly at the same. More that, it changed my consumer habits, helped me make more environmentally-friendly purchases,A�and showed me how I could be less wasteful. It was one of the most influential books I read in my 20s and was the reason I decided to do something that changed the world. I never went into sustainable development, but I like to think this website makes a positive impact in the world.

The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller

popular book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary KellerYou can’t walk into any bookstore these days without seeing this book prominently displayed. Short a book for a flight, I finally picked it up a�� and devoured it. It was excellent, and a really quick and easy read. I loved how he framed everything around asking yourself what is the one thing you can do to make your life better a�� daily, weekly, yearly. He hits so many negative aspects of our lives spot on a�� multi-tasking, the psychology of switching, to the power of planning and systems. This book reminded me of the things I knew to do but wasn’t and it was the wake up call I needed to finally do them.

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande

amazing book titled The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul GawandeWhile this book talks a lot about the systems hospitals and doctors used to reduce medical errors, there is a lot to be extrapolated. There’s power in checklists; they ensure nothing is missed and help you verify the work that has been done. He even quotes my old boss from when I was working in healthcare (who helped pioneer surgical team processes). Reading this book changed how I view procedures and how this website operates (my team actually has procedure documents for everything we do) but it also gave me the idea to create lists and structures in my own personal life.

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo

classic Les Miserables by Victor HugoI read this book when I was 14 years old. At the end of class, when we would get five minutes to chat to friends, I’d take out the unabridged version of this book and get lost in Hugo’s world. This book made me love reading. It turned me on to the power of the classics. From there it was on to Dumas, Dickens, Austen, and so many other 18th and 19th century writers. I’d blow through their tomes in school, captivated by their vivid imagery and detailed writing. And, in turn, these books improved my writing, vocabulary, and love of literature.

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul KalanithiAt the age of 36, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. In this beautifully written book, Kalanithi tells his story up until the end (his wife writes the post-script as he did not finish the book before his death). This powerful book (I dare you not to cry) ruminates on what makes life worth living in the face of death. What do you do when you know you don’t have much time left? We all die but I think most of us never really think about it. It’s just something that happens far into the future. This book will make you think profoundly about your life and what you prioritize.

A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest HemingwayErnest Hemingway is my favorite author of all time. Apparently, he was a huge jerk, but he wrote like few others and his writing always moves me. When I was in high school, I read this book and it made me want to be a writer. When I finished it, I said, “I want to write like that.” In fact, in tenth grade, I tried to write a novel that was very much like this book simply because I wanted to be like Hemingway and copying him was the best way I could think of to become a successful writer. I had visions of being a young writing prodigy (spoiler: I was not), however, I kept that loving of writing and a few years ago my dream of being author came to fruition. Somewhere a 16-year-old me is smiling. Even if you don’t want to be a writer, read this book. It’s one of the best books ever written.

So there you have it. These books made me reshape my life a�� often in drastic ways a�� and I’ve never once regretted reading them. They are thought-provoking and I encourage you to read them,A�if not to at least to see a different perspective on things.

Love to read? If youa��re a book junkie like I am, join our monthly book club where I send you a list of the best books Ia��ve recently read. Youa��ll get a list of 3-5 suggested books sent once a month! Ita��s free to join! Just enter your name and email below to sign up:

How to Travel Anywhere in the World (From Start to Finish) for $1,000

traveling the world on a tight budget
Wouldna��t it be great to travel anywhere in the world for $1,000 or less? And I dona��t mean just the cost of getting there. I mean your entire vacation from the time you step out your door to the time you get back. How great would it be to take a one- or two-week trip anywhere for that?

Decades upon decades of marketing by expensive hotels, cruises, and resorts has left us with the cultural notion that travel is expensive. Despite all the blogs, apps, websites, and Instagram accounts out there, too many people still don’t believe that travel can be cheap.

I get that. We’ve been conditioned by big brands and companies for ages to believe this repeated message, and it takes awhile to shed that belief.

But wea��re currently in a golden age of travel, thanks to cheap flights, travel hacking, and the sharing economy. We are seeing a revolution in travel that is allowing people to bypass the traditional travel gatekeepers of old a�� the ones who kept prices high a�� and travel frugally without sacrificing comfort.

Ita��s no longer a stark choice between cheap backpacker hostels and fancy healthy man blue pill. resorts.

In fact, ita��s actually really easy to travel well on a budget these days.

Today, I want to introduce the concept of the $1K trip. A thousand dollars can get you far a�� no matter where you want to go.

While there are many ways to travel cheaply, thanks to traveling hacking or extreme budgeting, this concept is about something more middle-of-the-road. It’s not about going away with no money or traveling on $10 or $20 a day. It’s for those of us in the middle, who have day-to-day jobs and want to travel more but always feel like we lack the resources to do so.

A thousand dollars is a lot of money, but ita��s not an impossible amount of money for most of us. Ita��s saving $2.74 per day for a year. Most of us can save $2.74 a day.

So how do you begin?

First, flip the script. I know Ia��ve said this before, but if you wake up today and tell yourself, a�?I cana��t travel because of X,a�? youa��ll never look for ways to start traveling. You will only see roadblocks: bills, flight costs, car payments, other obligations, or whatever your “But…” is. Ia��m not trying to be patronizing a�� and I definitely recognize not everyone has the means or desire to travel a�� but you have to ask yourself in earnest, a�?How do I make travel a reality?”

You need to wake up tomorrow and say, a�?Yes, I can travel, too a�� and I am going to make it happen!”

Once you start believing ita��s possible, you start looking for ways to make it possible. Ia��m not talking about that BS from The Secret, where you manifest a winning lottery ticket. Ia��m talking about thinking of the practical steps you can take from day one that will bring you closer to your travel goals.

Look at your day-to-day spending and the spending choices you make.

How much would you save if you bought a Brita filter instead of a daily bottle of water? Or gave up Starbucks, cooked more of your own food, and drank less alcohol? What if you gave up cable? Downgraded your phone plan? Walked to work? Sold your unneeded stuff on eBay?

Even if it takes you a year to save, it’s better to start today than tomorrow.

I always look at expenses and go, “I can have these new jeans or another fancy dinner a�� or I could have another week on the road.” I have friends who complain about not being able to travel then go buy $300 sunglasses. Not everyone can save a ton of money or even has the means to travel all the time, but with enough time and dedication, the majority of us can get somewhere. When I worked with Dianne during our case study program, she was a big casual spender but prioritizing travel in her mind helped her dramatically increase her savings.

Second, it’s important to remember that traveling on a limited budget requires planning.

For example, a few years ago I took a trip to London for $700. I knew I had ten days, didna��t care where I slept, and was content with drinking only a little, taking public transportation, and sticking to the free attractions. I only cared about eating and having fun with friends. Everything else was secondary. Knowing myself allowed me to make the most of my limited funds a�� and figure out how much I needed in the first place. I could plan the exact amount I needed to save because I had a rough idea of how much I would spend.

Break your trip down into small manageable goals. Don’t think about the 1,000 steps it takes to get to where you want to go. Think about the step right in front of you. What is ONE thingA�you can do today to get closer to your trip? What about the ONE thing you can do tomorrow?

Once a trip is broken down into smaller steps it becomes a lot more doable.

I want to use two example trips a�� a week in French Polynesia and two weeks in Australia a�� to illustrate the concept of the $1K vacation. (Ia��m picking expensive places so no one thinks Ia��m trying to cop out by using cheap destinations!) The same techniques I used to go to London for $700 are the same ones that apply to the trips below.

Example 1: French Polynesia

How to travel anywhere
OK, French Polynesia here we come! Well, French Polynesia is an expensive destination that has many rich residents and caters to higher-end tourists, and as such, even if you want to be basic and live like a local, youa��ll find that prices for everything are at a premium.

But where there is a will, there is a way.

The cornerstone of budget travel is collecting points and miles, i.e., travel hacking. Reducing the cost of a flight to zero is the best way to reduce the cost of your trip. And, for any expensive destination, you will definitely need to travel hack. With flights running $1,600-1,950, French Polynesia under $1K is impossible without using miles to cover your expenses.

(Note: I wona��t go into much detail in this post on how to get airline miles for your flight because thata��s a whole other long post, which can be found here or here or here. I talk a lot about travel hacking on this website, and while the idea of collecting miles can be intimidating, ita��s quite easy to do in relatively few months a�� even if you dona��t fly a lot! For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume you have or know how to get miles.)

To get to French Polynesia from the US, you can fly one of two airlines: Air France or Air Tahiti Nui (both have direct flights).

You can book Air France flights on any one of the below carriers. Here’s how many miles you’ll need:
award chart for tahiti flights

If you want to fly Air Tahiti Nui, you’d need this many miles:
award chart for tahiti flights

The only downside to using miles: award availability isna��t abundant on these flights. The above numbers are for a�?savera�? awards (award tickets that need fewer miles) but sometimes only regular award tickets with higher mileage requirements are available, so you’ll need to keep that in mind.

Hotel award redemptions are often expensive in French Polynesia because the resorts are so luxurious. Therefore, Ia��d suggest lowering your overall accommodation costs by mixing up your stay with hotels, Airbnbs, or B&Bs. After all, youa��re not going to French Polynesia without at least spending a night or two at a fancy resort, so we have to include at least a few nights there! Here are the typical award prices (you earn these points the same way you do as airline miles):

award chart for tahiti flights
(Note: Air Tahiti Nui offers a free ferry shuttle from the airport for anyone who isna��t staying at a fancy resort. Most guesthouses offer free transfers from where the shuttle drops you off.)

After a couple of nights redeeming hotel points for a fancy bungalow (if you have tons of hotel points, then by all means, keep staying for free!), I would switch to an Airbnb. Airbnb private rooms cost 4,000-6,000 XPF ($40-60 USD) per night, while an entire apartment (most come with pool access) will only cost you 6,000-9,900 XPF ($60-100 USD) per night. The only thing is, the Airbnbs are pretty much all located in and around the capital, so you’re not going to get too many luxurious beachfront places.

How this would apply elsewhere: Use a mix of points, hostels, Airbnbs, Couchsurfing, or even house sitting to lower your costs. More information can be found here.

Food isna��t cheap in French Polynesia since most has to be expensively imported and those who visit tend to have money to burn. If you eat at the resorts and hotels, youa��ll pay at least 2,500 XPF ($25) or more for a meal. At an upscale restaurant, expect to pay around 4,500 XPF ($45). A meal in a casual restaurant will cost around 2,200 XPF ($22 USD). A fast-food meal is about 1,000 XPF ($10) while a beer is around 600 XPF ($6 USD). However, by eating from the local snack bars on the road, you’ll only pay around 1,000 XPF ($10 USD) per day for food. If you plan on buying your own groceries, expect to spend at least 8,000-10,000 XPF ($80-100 USD) per week on food.

Ia��d avoid drinking, stick to as many local snack bars as possible, make picnic lunches, and eat out only at dinner to keep costs down.

How this would apply elsewhere: Drink less, eat local food, grocery shop, skip fancy restaurants, and avoid eating in touristy areas. More information can be found here.

Not surprisingly, activities in French Polynesia are not cheap either. Diving and other single-day water activities start at 11,000 XPF ($110 USD), with a two-tank dive costing 14,900-18,900 XPF ($150-190 USD). Surfing lessons, which generally last a few hours, cost around 13,000 XPF ($130 USD). Bike rentals are available almost anywhere and will cost 1,500-2,000 XPF ($15-20 USD) for a day. Whale-watching tours will cost around 11,500 XPF ($112 USD). Ia��d focus on one or two activities while here.

Sample Budget for French Polynesia
How to travel to tahiti budget

You could save more points, drink less, and even add more money to your food budget. Point is: French Polynesia suddenly became a lot more affordable! Ita��s pretty easy to go to French Polynesia for $1K. Using a mix of travel hacking, local restaurants, Airbnb, and doing only a few activities, you can visit here without sacrificing comfort.

Example 2: Australia

How to travel anywhere
Australia is often a place where budgets go to die a�� but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can still get you pretty far if you know a few tips and tricks. With your flight out of the way (see below), you would have $71 USD (88 AUD) per day ($1,000 divided by 14 days). You have to be a little bit more frugal than in French Polynesia but it’s doable.

First, I would use points for the flight the way I would for French Polynesia. That takes care of your flight, and even though award flights are not abundant, you can still find some availability. Here is a list of airlines a�� and the miles needed a�� to fly directly to Australia:

award chart for tahiti flights

In reality, saver award tickets for direct flights to Australia are hard to come by. They aren’t there often. You might be better off going indirectly. There are a lot of ways to get to Australia if you look at having a connection than going direct. I connected through Abu Dhabi, while a friend connected through Hong Kong, and another through Japan. I even had a friend fly via Chile once to save on miles.

Accommodation in Australia is pricey: even hostel dorms can be as high as 30-40 AUD ($24-32 USD) per night. Luckily, once you get out of the big cities, prices drop, and there are a lot of Couchsurfing hosts in the country. If thata��s not your jam and you dona��t want dorms, you can find rooms on Airbnb for 44-75 AUD ($35-60 USD) per day.

To keep your accommodation costs down, I would use a mix of hostels, Couchsurfing, and Airbnb. If youa��re traveling in a group, Airbnb will allow you to really lower your per person costs the most. You can find entire apartments for as low as 164 AUD ($132 USD), and if you can squeeze 3-4 people into that, your per person price is only 41 AUD ($33 USD)! If youa��re alone or a couple, then I would try to Couchsurf as much as possible (plus you get a kitchen too!)

How this would apply elsewhere: Use a mix of points, hostels, Airbnbs, Couchsurfing, or even house sitting to lower your costs. More information can be found here.

Food isna��t cheap in Australia, and keeping this cost down is going to be the hardest part of your trip. However, if you lower your food (and drink) expenses, you can stay under $1K. Most decent restaurant entrees cost at least 20 AUD ($16 USD). Grab-and-go places cost around 8-10 AUD ($6.50-8 USD) for sandwiches. Fast food is around 15 AUD ($12 USD) for a meal (burger, fries, soda). The best value foods are the Asian and Indian restaurants, where you can get a really filling meal for under 10 AUD ($8 USD).

The best way to reduce your costs is to cook as many meals as possible. If you do so, expect to pay 100 AUD ($80 USD) per week for groceries (pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic foodstuffs). Moreover, with drinks running 8-15 AUD ($6.50-12 USD) each, Ia��d avoid drinking out if possible. Buy beer at the store.

How this would apply elsewhere: Drink less, eat local food, grocery shop, skip fancy restaurants, and avoid eating in touristy areas. More information can be found here.

Traveling around the country is tough given the long distances. The easiest way to get around the country in such a short period of time is to fly. There are often some last-minute flight deals on Tiger Airlines and Virgin. But even regular fares are pretty good. For example, Brisbane to Cairns is only 107 AUD ($86 USD) and Melbourne to Sydney is only 67 AUD ($54 USD).

Compare that to bus fares via Greyhound:

  • Brisbane a�� Cairns: 320-374 AUD ($258-300 USD)
  • Melbourne a�� Sydney: 120 AUD ($96 USD)
  • Sydney a�� Cairns Unlimited Pass (i.e., the whole eastern coast, 44 stops): 429 AUD ($345 USD)

If you had more time and could stop often along the way, the unlimited pass would be better a�� but you dona��t have that time, so cramming that $429 USD into two weeks doesna��t make sense.

Ia��d also consider ridesharing via websites like Gumtree or Jayride, or hostel message boards. Lots of people rent vans and are always looking for people to split the cost of gas. You can also drive yourself. Campervan rentals start at 60 AUD ($48 USD) per day and can also double as places to sleep (thus saving more money). If you are traveling with friends, ita��s Cleocin 300 mg cost smart to buy a used car or campervan (or rent a new one from one of the many rental companies) and split the cost of gas.

Ia��d probably take a few flights and then a few rideshares. If I were in a group or liked driving, Ia��d rent a van to lower the cost per person. That way you save time on the long distances and still enjoy the country from the ground too! As much as I love driving across Australia, ita��s better suited when you can break up the journey when you have more time.

Activities will really ruin your budget in Australia. For example, a one-day trip to the Great Barrier Reef can cost 230 AUD ($185 USD), while a two-night sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands can cost upwards of 540 AUD ($435 USD). A three-day trip to Uluru from Alice Springs is around 480 AUD ($386 USD). Luckily, therea��s a bunch of free walking tours and activities in cities, but if youa��re looking for that once-in-a-lifetime adventure, youa��re going to pay for it!

To lower costs, Ia��d do a lot of solo hiking and trips, free walking tours, and one or two big-ticket items.

Sample Budget for Australia
How to travel to australia budget

Again, this is a sample budget and it takes a little more effort to watch the pennies in Australia, but ita��s doable to travel there and not spend a lot of money. There are incredible free activities, cheap groceries, and ways to get around on aA�budget. Ia��m not saying it will be easy, but I am saying ita��s not impossible.


When you travel like you live, you can visit anywhere. Taking an entire vacation for less than $1,000 is completely doable. Stop thinking about travel as this big, expensive thing and start thinking about it more practical terms. Think about the steps to make your trip happen. A thousand dollars isna��t nothing – and it may take a long time to save that amount – but ita��s not the multiple thousands the media makes travel out to be!

a�?I dona��t have the money to goa�? is a limiting belief.

When you start looking for ways to say yes, when you start breaking travel down step-by-step and look for ways to save, the world is truly your oyster.

Matt’s Addendum: After some feedback, I want to clarify something: Yes, this requires points and miles that have to be earned prior to your trip. However, since those can be earned without spending extra money, I don’t view that as an added cost since it doesn’t require to spend more money than you would to get them. Additionally, I picked two expensive destinations that require points and miles but if you were to go closer to home or to a cheaper place, the need for points would be far less. I recently saw a $450 R/T flight from the US to Thailand. At $50 a day, you could still go for 12 days, use no points, and not break the $1k barrier.

P.S. – Want to find out how you can meet more locals AND find free accommodation when you travel? Check out our Q&A with Couchsurfing on September 28th at 6pm EST!

7 Travel Books Worth Reading Right Now

Matt reading books at home this month
I’ve been picking up a lot of random books in bookstores lately. This can often be hit or miss. I can’t count the times I’ve picked up books only to go “Well, that was terrible.” However, this current stretch has produced some wonderful books and, since it’s been a while since I’ve done a best-books round-up, I think it’s time again! I spend a lot of time on buses, trains, and planes and use that time to devour books so, without further ado, here are seven books worth your time:

All Over the PlaceA�by Geraldine DeRuiter

All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty TheftGeraldine, aka The Everywhereist, is a hilarious writer (and friend). This book chronicles her travels, anxieties, and relationship with her husband Rand (who is as cool as the book makes him out to be). It really is all over the place – but in a good way. Though I found the book to be less about travel and more about her relationship, it more than lived up to all my expectations. I’m a huge fan of Geraldine’s writing, wit, snark, and humor and this book delivered all of that. I mean who else can make a poop story so damn funny? If you love her blog, you’ll love this book. (And if you don’t know about her blog, well, read that too.) This book was wonderful and devoured it in a couple of sittings.

The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the WorldA�by Torre DeRoche

The Worrier's Guide to the End of the World: Love, Loss, and Other Catastrophes Through Italy, India, and BeyondI loved Torre’s first book, Love with a Chance of Drowning, about her cross-Pacific adventure with her then-boyfriend. I had the pleasure of getting an advance copy of her second book (and I loved it so much I even wrote a blurb for it!) Whereas the last book was an adventure into the world, this book is an adventure into the self. After meeting the lovely Masha at an event in NYC, Torre meets up with Masha in Europe, where they decide to walk the Via Francigena trail in Italy and then follow Gandhi’s walking route in India. Along the way, Torre encounters snakes, shamans, rude travelers, friendly strangers, and a universe seemingly trying to point her in the right direction. This book is just as fabulously well written and engaging as her first. I grew to love it more with every page a�� and I can’t recommend it enough.

Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the WorldA�by Joan Druett

Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the WorldAuckland Island, located 285 miles south of New Zealand, is a place with year-round freezing rain, wind, and little food (but apparently a lot of seals). Simply put, it’s not a place you want to get shipwrecked on. Yet in 1864, Captain Thomas Musgrave and his crew did just that a�� and a few months later, on the opposite side of the island, so did the crew of the Scottish ship Invercauld. This well-written account of the how the two crews survived (and didn’t survive) was a wonderful juxtaposition on leadership, camaraderie, and coming together in crisis. It’s not a long book. It took me a few days to read but it was compelling, captivating, and an excellent reminder of the importance of keeping one’s composure in a crisis.

Dispatches from PlutoA�by Richard Grant

Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi DeltaAs a big fan of the state of Mississippi, I was really keen to read this book. The state is an often-overlooked tourist destination with eccentric but wonderful people; beautiful parks, rivers, and swamps; stunning architecture; and a complex and rich history for history buffs like myself. In this book, English writer Richard Grant and his girlfriend move to rural Pluto, Mississippi, to live a better life, escape the big city, lower their cost of living, and try something new. They learn to hunt, garden, fend off wild animals, handle snakes, and befriend interesting characters along the way. Grant dives into the contradictions of this state a�� from race relations and class to education, food, family, and everything in between. This book was incredible, nails Mississippi, and is a must, must, must read.

The Palace of the Snow Queen: Winter Travels in LaplandA�by Barbara Sjoholm

The Palace of the Snow Queen: Winter Travels in LaplandBarbara Sjoholm set off one winter to explore this arctic region a�� then spent two more coming back and learning about it more. In the process, she unearths the region’s rich history and dives into the tension between tourism, mining, and land use. Her book dives deep into the Samis, local indigenous population and their struggle to maintain their culture in the modern era. As a lover of all things Scandinavian, it was really nice to read about an area and people of the region not often given the attention they deserve. As much as I thought I knew about this region, reading this book taught me a lot – and showed me how much I still had to learn. Well written and insightful, you should definitely pick up this book.

The Not-Quite States of AmericaA�by Doug Mack

The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USAThe United States of America is more than just 50 states. There’s also the non-states of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. In this funny, detailed, fact-rich book, Doug Mack explores these territories largely forgotten by the rest of the country, which play a more important role in our country than we realize. I had the pleasure of listening to Doug talk about his book in NYC, and he’s a wealth of knowledge a�� just like his book! This one of those travel books that expands your mind about the place you don’t really know. In many ways it reminded me of The Geography of Bliss in its approach. If you liked that book, you’ll like this book too!

The Caliph’s House: A Year in CasablancaA�by Tahir Shah

The Caliph's House: A Year in CasablancaInspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Shah decides to buy a house in Casablanca. He moves his family from England in hopes of breaking out from the monotony of life in London as well as exposing his children to a more carefree childhood. I randomly picked this up in a bookstore and couldn’t put it down. Shah is an engrossing writer and I was glued to every word. While dealing with corruption, the local bureaucracy, thieves, gangsters, jinns causing havoc, and the hassle that seems to come with even the most simple interactions, Shah weaves a story that is simply one of the best I’ve read all year. It’s beautifully written and endlessly enthralling. You must go buy this book!

That’s all for today! viagra pfizer ligne. Happy reading!

And if youa��re a book junkie like I am, join our monthly book club where I send a list of the best books Ia��ve recently read. Youa��ll get a list of 3-5 suggested books sent once Order carafate medicine a month! Ita��s free to join! Just enter your name and email below to sign up:

Reader Story: How Angela Travels the World as an Au Pair

Angela walking in a snowy town
One of the biggest challenges for people is saving up for a world trip. It can be daunting trying to save thousands of dollars for your next big trip. Yet I always say “If you can’t save, go work.” The world has an abundance of jobs that travelers can get. Millions of travelers fund their trips by working their way around the world. Today, I want to profile one of our community members who does just that. Angela works as an au pair. This funds her round the world travel dreams, let’s her stay in a place longer, and get to know a culture better. Today we share her story and tips for being an au pair.

Nomadic Matt: Hi Angela! Thanks for doing this. Tell us about yourself!
AngA�la:Ia��m AngA�la and Ia��m 28 years old. I was born near Lyon, France, and am the eldest of four sisters. After graduating from school when I was 21, I started working as an au pair in Germany. I wanted to get out of France and work with children, so this was the perfect job! Seven years later, Ia��m still an au pair, currently in Japan! I love what I do because I get to travel and work with children, the two things I love the most.

Were you always interested in travel? How did you get started?
Funny enough, out of all my big family (I have three other siblings and lots of cousins), Ia��m the only one who likes to travel a lot! Nobody around me ever went abroad for more than a few days, and especially not very far away. So I didna��t know much about traveling, except from watching movies and pop culture.

I didna��t begin traveling until I was 21. I guess it was because I never did it that I wanted to do it. Ia��d always dreamed of traveling the world and seeing the places I saw in the movies

How did you decide to become an au pair?
It happened seven years ago when I was looking for a job in France and after finding nothing interesting, I decided to have a look at the au pair thing. It sounded interesting a�� working in another country and living with a family. By being an au pair, I would be able to have a job, accommodation, food, lots of free time, and some extra spending cash. It was perfect. I could enjoy traveling without needing a lot of money because I could use the money that I would earn during my stay. It lets me travel without huge savings.

In 2010, I found my first host family in Germany and stayed one year with them. I loved the fact I could work in another country and use the free time to explore a new place. Plus, I get to work with children all the time, which is my field of work, so now I have accumulated years of experience. I was hooked after that first year, and decided to do it again instead going back to France to find another job.

A Japanese castle

Where have you worked as an au pair?
Ia��ve been to Germany, England, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden, and Ia��m currently in Japan. I stay from eight months to one year in each country. All of them have been great experiences. Ia��ve been lucky enough to stay with very good people, and everybody I met while traveling has been super nice.

My favorite place has been New Zealand. Ita��s simply breathtaking! The landscapes are unbelievable. I cana��t recommend it enough. Canada is probably my next favorite. It is a relatively safe country to live in, the people are nice, and I love the cold winters. I got to try ice fishing and totally loved it!

How does someone become an au pair? Is it easy? Hard?
I personally think it is easy. Your main job is to take care of children, so you must be OK working with them, but other than that, the tasks are often easy enough and you have lots of free time. You work on average between 25 and 30 hours per week. All your weekends are free, as are the evenings as soon as one parent gets home. You may be asked to babysit from time to time, though.

Everything is included when you live with the family, so you dona��t have many expenses. The only thing I paid for Flagyl 7 day treatment myself was my plane ticket (although you can be lucky enough to have a family that pays it for you). I never felt like this was a so-called a�?joba�? a�� more like helping out a family and being a part of it.

To become an au pair, you can either use au pair agencies or one of the websites like Au Pair, Au Pair World, International Exchange, and Go Au Pair. With an agency, you pay them and they do the paperwork, show you different family profiles, and put you in contact with them. All along your stay, they are in touch with you in case of any problem. Ita��s like any other job placement service.

On the internet, there are a lot of websites for au pairs. This is more DIY. You create a profile, search for families (they can search for au pairs too), and if one catches your interest, you start by sending a message, and from then, if both parties get along, you get in touch via phone, mails, Skype. Therea��s no third party involved. Ita��s between you and the family (so no one is there if something goes wrong). Ia��ve only ever used these websites, as ita��s free for au pairs to join, and Ia��ve always been lucky in my searches for families.

What qualifications does someone need to be an au pair?
While ita��s not necessary, ita��s good to have experience with kids, because the families might feel more confident in hiring you, but other than that, you dona��t really need much. Every family is different. Some will want you to have experience and will ask for references; others dona��t ask for anything.

Angela posing near a mountain

Whata��s the biggest challenge?
I will say ita��s learning how to live with total strangers. Youa��re in a brand new country, with people you dona��t know, and youa��re going to spend six months to a year with them. It takes some days for everybody to get used to each other and to know how the family works. You need to learn to accept their way of living. Sometimes it can be really different from what youa��re used to, and it takes some time to just be a part of it.

Also the fact it is not your own place is a bit of a challenge. You may live there for a long time, but at the end of the day, ita��s still not your place. I find it always a bit hard to pretend it is. For me, it is my hosta��s home. You cana��t have guests like you would in your own home. You hear the kids playing, running everywhere all the time, even on your days off. Sometimes the parents may leave the house a mess and you have to tidy it up, because you cana��t stay a day in such a mess any longer!

Personally, Ia��m really easygoing and used to living in any kind of place with different people. I never felt that was a a�?challengea�? a�� from my first experience all was smooth during my stays. Maybe I find it easy to get along with people, and dona��t mind their way of living.

Is it hard as a Westerner to get a job outside of a�?the Westa�?? I always thought Western au pairs only worked in other Western countries.
It is true [that Western au pairs are] mostly in Western countries. In Japan, it is not common at all, especially because here the moms are often stay-at-home moms, so they dona��t need another person to do the job. Also, it is in their culture to not accept a total stranger taking care of their own kids.

The few families I could find in Asia have always been expat families. Often one parent got a few yearsa�� contract with a company and moved abroad, thus they know what the au pair thing is. In Nagoya, where I am now, I know at least three au pairs, but I dona��t think wea��re much more than that. So if you want to be an au pair, youa��ll find that most of the jobs are in Western countries.

Tell me about life as an au pair. Whata��s the pay like? How often do you work?
The pay depends mainly on the family and the country youa��re in. But my salary was usually 300-400 euros per month. It seems to be the average for an au pair working 25a��30 hours a week.

The work mostly consists of bringing the kids to school and picking them up, helping with homework, cooking and having dinner, bathing them, and getting them ready for bed. Some families may ask you to do house cleaning in addition (in which case youa��re paid more for that).

When the kids are at school, youa��re totally free. Most au pairs will take language classes, or do sports or other activities. I usually take some of this time to cook dinner and clean the house (if needed). Mostly I try to hang out with friends or visit some places nearby. When in a country where au pairs are popular, it is really easy to meet up with them, as we all have the same free time. Ita��s an easy job if you are good with kids, sensitive, and practical. And especially if you get along well with the family, therea��s no problem at all!

Mountains in Canada

What’s your one tip for people looking to become an au pair?
If it is your first experience as an au pair and you dona��t know how you feel being away from home, my advice would be to start in a country that is near your own. That way if youa��re homesick, it will be much easier to go back. And if you like the experience, you know youa��ll be ready to start again farther away! I started in Germany, knowing that if anything happened I was just few hours away from home.

Other than that, nothing specific, except I can only recommend it! It is a really good experience living abroad and a way to get out of your comfort zone, as youa��re going to live for a few months somewhere totally new!

Whata��s been the biggest lesson so far?
Never think traveling is not possible for you. I had no exposure to it while I was growing up and would never have imagined myself a traveler, as I was very shy and introverted. I think, besides shocking my family, I shocked myself when I went away. But when you go away, you realize how easy travel is and how many opportunities there are out there to make travel a reality.

I think that traveling is a good opportunity to discover new parts of yourself. It changed the way I am now. I feel more confident and more open to talking to strangers. Ita��s made me a better me!

You’ve be traveling for 7 years now. Whata��s your number one tip for new travelers?
Be friendly to people and be respectful of the country you are in. Respect is important, and people will accept you more if you are openly happy and curious to be visiting their places. Dona��t judge. Learn to listen.

When I was in Australia, I was told numerous times that French people there were acting really poorly, being mean to bactroban cream cost. animals and disrespectful of people and the environment. I cana��t understand this type of behavior, and it made me ashamed and sad to learn that. It is so important to show respect and be kind to those in the country you are visiting. Youa��re a guest in their home.


Angela got a job working as an au pair in order to fulfill her desire to travel the world. When you have limited funds, find a job like Angela and use your skills or passions to earn money and keep you on the road.

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 stories. They inspire me, but more importantly, they also inspire you. I travel a certain way but there are many ways to fund your trips and 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 found work overseas to fund their trips:

  • How Oneika found teaching jobs abroad
  • How Jessica and her boyfriend found jobs around the world
  • How Emily taught English to fund her RTW adventure
  • How Arielle found a job working on a yacht
  • How Ceil got a job teaching in Saudi Arabia

23 Reader Questions. 23 Attempted Answers.

Not every issue needs a long, drawn-out blog post to answer, so I like taking your questions now and then and helping solve some travel problems. So let’s take a break from our regularly scheduled articles for another round of Q&A!

A few weeks ago, I put a call out on social media for reader questions on travel, life, and anything in between. There are usually a few questions I’ve never answered before, weird ones about life, and just funny pop culture ones! Todaya��s blog post is my attempt to answer these questions. Some of them overlapped, so I trimmed the duplicates down, got rid of the really inappropriate ones (haha), and put the rest here. Hopefully, in answering someone else’s question, I’ll also be able to help you too.

What are your thoughts on train travel vs. flying between cities in Europe? A�– John

I love train travel in Europe. Ita��s scenic and relaxing, and the trains are way more comfortable than economy class on planes. Ita��s a lot less stressful than flying too. That said, it takes a lot longer, and tickets are often more expensive than some of the budget airlines in Europe.

I think it basically comes down to time and money (doesna��t everything?). For me, it depends if Ia��m in a rush. If I need to get someplace quick, Ia��ll fly. But, if I have time, a rail pass, or just find the ticket prices to be similar to flights, Ia��ll take the train over flying.

How do you feel about staying in hotels vs. Airbnbs?Eric

I rarely ever stay in a hotel unless I am using hotel points, as I find them to be very expensive. Ia��d much rather be in an Airbnb, even if it is just for one night. I like the homey feel, the cheaper prices, and being able to ask questions of a local who knows the area. You make more friends staying with a local from a site like Couchsurfing than at a hotel. Here is a guide to Airbnb if you want more info on that service!

What are your thoughts on traveling to the European countries that have been hit by terrorist attacks? –A�Alexander

Therea��s nothing you can do to predict the future. Whether you go to a movie theater or club in the US or somewhere in Europe, you never know when violence will strike. Terror attacks occur randomly, so while I would be more vigilant, I wouldna��t let this change your travel plans. Thata��s what they want: they want us to cower in fear and be suspicious. Ia��d never let them control my life. (That said, I do avoid war zones.)

Do you have any advice on traveling solo? –A�Rod

Thata��s my whole website!A�Just click here to learn my best tips.A�This is the best starting point to learn the A-to-Z of planning your trip!

What was the transformative moment when you knew you wanted to make travel (and travel blogging) a career? –A�Dora

Ia��ve always described myself as an accidental travel writer. There was never a magic moment where I said, a�?I am going to do this.a�? But there were inflection points when I realized, a�?Wow, this business is growing. Thata��s cool. I guess Ia��ll keep riding this wave.a�?

How and when did you find that travel is your passion? –A�Jegan

I feel in love with travel on a tour to Costa Rica; it was the first time I was traveling as an adult. I loved the freedom and the sense of endless possibility.A�I just knew I wanted to keep doing it. Over time and a few more trips, it just became the only thing I wanted to do. I loved traveling and wanted to share that love with others.

When people say, a�?Go find your passion,a�? I always cringe a bit. Ita��s not like you can go out and just stumble upon it, like finding a lost set of keys. I think finding your passion is what happens when you end up doing something you love. If you talk to people who are passionate about their job, often it’s because they have been doing it so long that they are just good at it!

I love cooking. LOVE IT! But I’ve done it long enough to know it’s not my passion. It doesn’t make me feel the way travel does. I think you just have to explore your interests, and one day, one will have become your passion without your even noticing.

What are your thoughts on the Peace Corps? Have you met people abroad who are or were in the Peace Corps? What are or were their experiences like? –A�Jillian

Ia��ve never done the Peace Corps, but I think it is an amazing initiative. I was going to apply a few years ago after my first trip around the world. After I came home, I knew I needed to go travel again, so this was one of the things I looked into.

Ia��ve met many people over the years who have done it, and most of them have said it was one of the best experiences in their lives. Maybe someone can leave a comment here and share their first-hand experience.

Can we also use your blog’s Intrepid discount code with Geckos? –A�GeneviA?ve

Sadly, it only works with Intrepid. You can get the 10% discount by clicking here.

What would be the best step to take for a 21-year-old who really wants to travel but doesn’t have enough money? – Alyiah

Ia��d go work overseas. Youa��re 21 and probably fresh out school. You have your whole life ahead of you! Get yourself a working holiday visa for New Zealand or Australia and get a job over there. Or go teach English overseas! Therea��s no reason why you have to have a certain amount of money. Just go with the money you have. Therea��s nothing holding you back at the moment. The world is your oyster.

Herea��s an article on how to find work overseas and why being broke is the best time for you to travel.

I have three questions: What do you do for health insurance? Do you have a favorite credit card? What phone service do you use? –A�Susan

When I travel, I use World Nomads as my insurance provider. They are my favorite insurance company (and in my opinion, the best out there). Ia��ve been using them since I started traveling and highly recommend them. (When Ia��m home, I have coverage here in Texas).

For credit cards, I love the new Chase Sapphire Reserved. Therea��s a high annual fee but the rewards and travel credit make the fee worth it. For phone service, I use T-Mobile a�� but if you are going to be out of the country for a while, ita��s better to get unlocked SIM cards as you go. It will work out cheaper than T-Mobile, and you can just top off as needed.

Do you have any advice for those who want to start a travel blog? –A�Ali

Sure, I have a ton! I would simply start with these two blog posts because they are more robust than any quick reply I write here. Here are the links:

  • How to Start a Travel Blog
  • 9 Ways to Become a Successful Blogger

How do you keep costs down when traveling to expensive countries? –A�Liza

Ita��s easy to save money in Thailand but a lot harder to save money in Switzerland or Norway or Japan. Traveling to those countries on a budget takes a lot of work. Sometimes, you just cana��t do it (Ia��m looking at you, Bermuda!). On the other hand, I think expensive countries are sometimes easier to travel to because locals, who face high costs, have invented smart ways to stay on a budget. It varies from country to country ,but for the most part, when Ia��m in an expensive country, I drink less, cook more, eat cheaper (not so healthy) food, take local transportation, and look into the sharing economy more: Couchsurfing, ride-sharing, meal-sharing, and everything in between. You have to get more creative, but I believe 99% of the world can be visited on a budget. It all depends on how much youa��re will to do what you need to do.

I traveled Europe for a month and got pretty homesick toward the end. Do you ever get homesick? What would you recommend for those who do? –A�Jacob

I get homesick all the time. Ia��ve met many people who have too. In fact, Ia��ve met many people that have gotten so homesick, theya��ve gone home. Therea��s nothing wrong with that.

Therea��s a certain flow to travel. A lot of people get homesick right away, but for most people, ita��s around the 3-4-month mark and then again closer to the year mark. These milestones are when you seem to becomeA�more untethered your past,A�and for many people, that feeling makes them want to retreat back into their familiar bubble. They feel themselves changing.

But I say you should just power through it. Ita��s natural and will pass. Embrace the change! Since this feeling so often relates to travel fatigue, I say sit down, relax, enjoy the city you are in, take a deep breath, and then move on when youa��re ready.

Are visas a big issue for you, if you’re in the middle of a trip outside of the US and you decide to go to a country that requires a visa?A�–A�Carl

You can get visas as you go. While some nationalities are required to get tourist visas in their home countries, for the most part, all you need to do is get the visa from the local embassy or consulate in the country you are in. Therea��s no magic to it. Need a Vietnam visa while in Germany? Head to the local Vietnamese embassy or consulate and apply (making sure you have all the appropriate documents). Thata��s about all there is to it.

Is it safe to travel to the US at this juncture? I have a long-term tourist visa but now Ia��m scared with the hate crime reported by the media. –A�Kanian

This question makes me sad, and I feel I could go on forever about ed cream. it. For starters, the media always reports the stories that are negative. a�?If it bleeds, it leadsa�? is why you think hate crimes are rampant and American conservatives thinkA�Muslim terrorists are everywhere and Paris is burning. Everything is always so negative all the time.

But the US is a country of 350 million people with great diversity.A�While there was a slight uptick in hate crimes after the election, the America that existed before Trump is still essentially there and is filled with good people who care about other people. That has not changed. Look at all the marches that happened against the travel ban. Just like I would say you have nothing to fear by going to Europe, you have nothing to fear byA�coming to the US.

I am planning my trip to Europe currently and would like to know how you handled the proof of future travel that countries require for visas. –A�Kim

Assuming youa��re from a developed country, they will never check. Theya��ll never say, a�?Let me see that flight/bus/train ticket.a�? Well, the UK and Ireland might because those countries are strict, but no one else does. Outside of those two places, I rarely ever have proof of onward travel (and ita��s usually the airline that asks), especially if Ia��m traveling long-term. Ita��s a risk Ia��m comfortable taking.

But if youa��re not comfortable with that risk, you can simply buy a refundable plane, bus, or train ticket to get you Purchase dutas past border control. When you get into your destination, just cancel the ticket.

For other non-Western nationalities, you usually need a visa ahead of time and to get it, youa��re required to have proof of onward travel anyways.

I would appreciate advice about hot springs and thermal baths in the USA. Thank you. –A�Helena

Ia��ve never been to one in the US and dona��t know of any. For questions like this in general, Google is usually the best resource. When I ever I am looking for the “best in….”, I usually turn to Google.

Which of your destinations, if any, have most challenged your values as an American? –A�Nomadic PlanetA�

I dona��t think anything challenges my values as an American. Many places challenge my values as a human, but nothing ever made me question my American values. I dona��t think a country has much to do with values. If anything, traveling has made me appreciate the greatness of America a�� but also that there are many things we have to work on.

What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything? –A�JasonA�


Why don’t you organize trips with your followers? –A�Jorge

Actually, this year I am going to start doing group tours again! Check this post out to see all my 2017 tours!

Is Costa Rica safe? What is the best way to find a good travel buddy? –A�Wendy

Yes, ita��s very, very safe. I have no safety concerns about that country.

To find a friend, there are a lot of places to do so. Check out this article where I list a ton of ways to meet people when you travel.

Any tips on how to travel with a dog? –A�Sally

Ia��ve never traveled with a pet, but these resources are really good and can help you plan your trip:

  • Dog Jaunt
  • How to Travel With Your Dog
  • The Lonely Planet forumsA�as well as our forum too.

Where do you get your hair done? –A�Raimee

Ia��m glad you asked. I love my hair. Ita��s completely on fleek. Ia��m glad you like it too. I get it done when I visit NYC at this cheap barber on the west side of town. I think he does a good job for the price. Then again, I have a simple haircut, so Ia��m not sure how he could screw it up. Not like this one time in Taiwan, where they accidentally shaved my entire head so quickly I couldna��t protest in time. I was bald for a solid month. (No, I won’t be putting a picture of that online though!)

Photo credit: 1

P.S. BIG NEWS! This year I’m relaunching the Nomadic Matt group tours. You can come travel around with me and other community members! I’ll be doing four over the course of the summer. You can find out more about them and sign up by clicking here.A�

Great LGBT Events to Visit (Other than Pride)

All travelers are different and I’ve included a LGBT column on the website to talk about issues that affect thoseA�members of our community. I want everyone to have the travel knowledge they need! In this semi-monthly column, we hear from voices in the LGBT community about their experiences on the road, safety tips, events, and overall advice for other LGBT travelers! Returning this month is our column leader, Adam fromA�

It was raining when I walked up to the park entrance, decked out in a brightly colored banner and a row of security staff checking bags. In front of me, a guy was wearing a pink tutu under a blue poncho and two girls to my right had faces painted with more colors than I could count. Ahead of me, I could hear the beats from a faraway stage. A little while later, the rain clouds disappeared and a rainbow lit up the sky. No, this wasna��t your typical music festival, nor was it a Gay Pride festival a�� it was Milkshake Festival in Amsterdam.

Milkshake Festival takes place the week before Amsterdama��s annual Gay Pride and is labeled as a festival a�?for all who lovea�? (raises hand). Most major queer performers, from Peaches and Mykki Blanco to crossover indie acts like Hercules and the Love Affair, have performed comprar viagra online canada. here. There are bright colors, crazy costumes, incredible performances, half-naked dance parties, drugs, and people of all shapes and sizes. Ita��s wild and ita��s wonderful! And ita��s more than just a celebration of LGBT pride a�� it promotes and celebrates queer culture like only a multicultural, independent, and original festival can.

Gay Pride festivals in the West were once opportunities to be visible and publicly demand equal rights; as more and more of those rights have materialized (especially in the past few years), the political aspect of many Gay Prides has diminished. Thata��s not to say ita��s totally gone (read on), but these days, a lot of our Gay Pride celebrations center around headline bands, parades, parties, and plenty of skin.

Gay Pride is a lot of fun a�� but the fun doesna��t have to stop there. All year long, there are dozens of festivals and events celebrating LGBT culture, sports, and arts, some specialized for different segments of our community or particular fields of interest. Ita��s a great way to experience a new destination, surrounded by like-minded travelers and locals. These are some of my other favorite events and festivals worth traveling for:

LGBT Film Festivals

sign at a lgbt film festival, photo by David Prasad (flickr: @niiicedave)
Even if youa��re not a film aficionado (spoiler alert: I am!), film festivals are a great way to experience LGBT or queer culture. There are literally hundreds of LGBT-specific film festivals taking place around the world. From small towns like Bloomington, Indiana (Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival) to less-than-expected cities like Fort Worth, Texas (Q Cinema), these are often fun events to meet other LGBT locals and see outstanding cinema. And the best part? They happen year-round!

At the Q Cinema Film Festival this winter in Fort Worth, local and regional filmmakers from Ohio to Louisiana premiered their works. It was a small and casual affair at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, catered by local businesses and an easy place to meet filmmakers, actors, and documentarians between screenings. a�?Professional lesbiana�? stand-up comic Vickie Shaw (who has performed on LOGO and Olivia Cruises and at HRC events) had the audience in tears from laughter. Featuring the best empanadas Ia��ve had in Texas, it was a fun weekend.

Bigger LGBT film festivals like the legendary OutFest in Los Angeles or BFI Flare in London are as popular for industry insiders as they are for local film fans and visitors. At these larger events, you generally need tickets in advance a�� especially for big-picture premieres. In February, the leading Berlinale International Film Festival presents the Teddy Awards for excellence in LGBT cinema; past Teddy winners a�� about murder, mystery, sexual desire, and everyday themes a�� have often been attended by A-list celebrities (cue James Franco, who seems to show up to every gay event).

Why visit an LGBT film festival? While more often than not big Hollywood productions dona��t include LGBT characters (exception this Oscar season: Moonlight), at an LGBT film festival, youa��ll find films touching on every aspect of queer identity and culture. (Check out my picks for independent gay cinema from 2016.) Besides, everyone loves to see a bit of themselves portrayed in the movies. Movies can also be the perfect kind of escapism, the chance to see different scenarios related to our own personal experiences or emotions.

Art, Music, and Theater Festivals

Sure, ita��s a stereotype that a lot of those in the art, music, and theater industries might identify as LGBT, but thata��s what makes these institutions so colorful. Around the world, there are many cultural festivals and events tailored specifically to LGBT artists and performers. Each May, the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival celebrates LGBT artists, writers, and performers in the hometown of celebrated gay writer Oscar Wilde. Theater companies from around the world get the chance to show their work a�� including but not limited to musicals, dramas, comedies, and cabaret a�� over two weeks throughout Dublin. With both free and paid events, ita��s a fun way to experience Irelanda��s LGBT culture and history.

Afterward, a lot of artists bring their successful submissions to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Though not explicitly gay, it always includes plenty of LGBT artists. And naturally, because of the large number of international performers and creatives in Edinburgh during the month a�� whether as spectators or performers a�� therea��s just a great big gay vibe in the city.

Gay Sporting Events

While a lot of the biggest gay events occur in the summertime, there are plenty of gay festivals each winter, too. Gay ski weeks are a thing: imagine drag queens in hot tubs, daytime adventures from skiing to snowshoeing (or lounging by the fireplace with a hot cup of cocoa), and steamy, late-night parties. European Gay Ski Week takes place in Switzerland each winter, while North Americaa��s largest ski area celebrates Whistler Pride & Ski Week each January. Therea��s a definite party vibe to these ski events, but in such a relaxing and peaceful setting, ita��s easy to enjoy as a couple or a single.

Gay sports dona��t just happen in winter, though; therea��s also the annual World OutGames that rotates locations around the world (this year ita��s in Miami). At the OutGames, youa��ll find tens of thousands of athletes Famvir over the counter canada competing in everything from beach volleyball to wrestling (and even chess!), as well as cultural happenings and a human rights conference (see below). At the OutGames 2013 in Antwerp, the entire city turned into a festival, with fit men and women storming the city. Suddenly, gay bars and clubs were crowded with LGBT tourists and the whole city was decked out with rainbow flags. The other major LGBT sporting event is the quadrennial Gay Games, taking place next in Paris in 2018, with a similar goal to promote equality through sport.

And if cowboys and cowgirls are more your style, there are the many gay rodeos in the United States organized by the International Gay Rodeo Association.

Attending any gay sporting event as an athlete is always fun (plus therea��s the prospect of trophies and prizes), but usually these are big events that overtake towns and cities, turning them into temporary queer meccas and creating a way for anyone to enjoy somewhere new safely and comfortably out.

Lesbian & Transgender Festivals

lesbian skaters wearing rainbow colors, photo by BjA�rn SA�derqvist (flickr: @kapten)
Some segments of the LGBT community are regularly sidelined in many events and festivals. Lesbians have a handful of events around the world to look forward to each year, however a�� from the annual ELLA International Lesbian Festival each summer in Spain to The Dinah in Palm Springs. Both are heavily attended by international visitors and include music acts, parties, and more a�� all with a very festive vibe and in summery locations, so expect bikinis, sunglasses, and lots of swimming (or poolside lounging).

Since 2006, the National Transgender Charity has hosted an annual transgender festival called Sparkle in the Park in Manchester (arguably the UKa��s gayest city), at the Sackville Gardens (where a National Transgender Memorial stands) in the citya��s gay village; last year there were over 12,000 attendees. Therea��s free music, entertainment, and educational workshops. Alongside the festival, a a�?fringea�? event features plenty of cabaret, music, theater, and comedy.

Political, Human Rights, and Tech Events & Conferences

In addition to the many fun festivals and events described, many LGBT events are also still entrenched in serious political activism. Even the gay sporting events like OutGames run alongside LGBT conferences dealing with activism and politics. And many Gay Pride festivals are attended by local political action groups, political parties, and activist organizations.

But there are also many conferences year-round by national and global organizations dealing exclusively with human rights. In Fort Lauderdale each autumn, the city hosts the Southern Comfort Conference where transgender activists and educators gather for learning and networking. Other activists and allies meet each year at conferences organized by OutRight International, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and the ILGA a�� offering community leaders from around the world a chance to meet and plan LGBT equality initiatives around the world.

Gay Circuit Parties

gay days orlando at walt disney world
There are mega-parties that take place annually around the world, catering to different segments. For example, Sitges Bear Week hosts thousands of bears on the Spanish beaches each September, while Provincetown attracts bears and their admirers for the annual Provincetown Bear Week each July. Then there are circuit parties, popular for a particular subset of gay men. While these mega dance-parties have been around for decades, ita��s Barcelonaa��s annual Circuit Festival which has made the mega electronic-music parties popular again.

Barcelonaa��s Circuit Festival has become so big and so popular since starting up in 2007, the entire city seems to be overflowing with hunky gay men for weeks leading up to and following the festival. With beach and foam parties, all-day & night DJs, and (so it seems) a rule that requires men to go topless, similar gay circuit festivals are now popular around the world from Bangkok (GCircuit during Songkran) to Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and WE Party in Madrid.

Similar parties to the circuit festivals include Southern Decadence in New Orleans (friends swear by it being one of the best parties in Nola, the a�?gay Mardi Grasa�?) and White Party in Miami. And then there are the Gay Days Orlando — the first Saturday of June where tens of thousands of gays and lesbians descend upon the Magic Kingdom and at hotel pool parties throughout the city for sun and fun.

Other LGBT Events

Not all LGBT events are based around big parties, however. Just as the full LGBTQ spectrum includes so many varied sexualities and gender identities, it makes sense therea��d be an equally wide range of events for every type of individual. In Sonoma each Spring therea��s the Gay Wine Weekend for three days of tastings, dancing and food in a picturesque setting. In Slovenia, Pink Week is a week-long experience through the country including wine tastings, museum tours and culminating in a formal ball to benefit LGBT organizations in the country. Viennaa��s annual Life Ball takes place in the Vienna City Hall and is one of the worlda��s biggest AIDS charity events, while Black Tie in Dallas, Texas similarly raises donations each year for both local and national LGBT organizations.

Events like the #UNIT Festival in Berlin or the Lesbians Who Tech summit (this year in San Francisco) promote LGBT technology and science for general audiences. In two of the worlda��s biggest tech hubs, these are events where technology and queer culture intersect, giving LGBT start-up employees and entrepreneurs the chance to network, brainstorm, and discuss ideas and innovations in related industries. Past presentation topics have included hackathons, feminism, and virtual reality a�� all from a queer perspective a�� and LGBTQ apps and queer history (or in some cases, both at once).

Family-friendly LGBT events are increasingly popular as well, including many zoos from Berlin to Washington, D.C. which open up for specific a�?gay daysa�? to promote family equality. Check local LGBT community centers for the most up-to-date listings of similar events. Globally, Wikipedia has the most comprehensive list of LGBT events, while Travel Gay Europe and Travel Gay Asia both have up-to-date event, festival, and party listings for each respective continent. Sometimes events are canceled due to poor attendance, so always make sure to check with organizers when making travel plans.


To be LGBTQ is to be a part of a really diverse community. Luckily for us, there are so many different LGBT events for so many different niches and interests, ita��s easy to find a cool festival or event abroad or at home. Traveling to an event like this is a great way to meet other like-minded travelers a�� those that share the same passions and interests a�� or to experience a new place through a comfortable or familiar lens.

Photo Credits: 2, 3, 6, 8

Here’s How to Bring the World to You When You Can’t Travel

Last month, a guy came up to me at a reader meetup (leta��s call him Pete). Hea��d just returned from an overland drive from NYC to Patagonia. (How cool is that? What a trip that must have been!) After I peppered him with questions about his trip (I mean really, how cool does that trip sound?), Pete asked me one:

a�?How do buy tretinoin cream 0.05. you deal with coming home after a long trip, staying in the travel mindset, and keeping the lessons you learned alive?a�?

Ita��s a great question.

Post-trip depression is a real thing. I think coming home is often harder than leaving, since ita��s so anticlimactic. Before you go, there is this massive buildup of emotions, preparation, and excitement. Ita��s amazing. a�?Ia��m really doing this!a�? you think to yourself. Youa��re moving toward a goal. Youa��re excited. A bright future of possibility lies before you.

But then you come back and ita��s a�?now what?a�? Therea��s no more buildup. Therea��s no big moment to look forward to. You dona��t come back with a bang; you come back with a whimper. Your friends are kind of interested in your trip, but soon their eyes glaze over at your travel tales. Before you know it, you fall back into a routine and ita��s as if it never happened.

The flip side to that is that for many, such a long trip is some far-off dream in the first place. They dona��t even get to experience any of those highs and lows. For a variety of reasons, travel is just not an option. They just wona��t ever make it overseas.

So what do you do if you fall into one of those categories? Whether you are coming home from a trip or just wish you could travel, my advice to you is the same:

When you cana��t go anywhere, have the world come to you.

To me, travel is about discovery and learning about new cultures. Ita��s about finding out how we all fit together on this giant blue ball in space. The destination is the least important part about travel.

So why not travel the world by bringing it to you?

Ia��m lucky. I spend a lot of time in NYC. One of the reasons I love the city so much is that it makes me feel like Ia��m still traveling. There, in the Big Apple, I get to meet people from around the world, hear languages I didna��t even know existed, eat authentic food from any country I want, and get treated to cultural experiences second to none. In my opinion NYC is the heart of the world. Ita��s where I get to feel as if Ia��m still out there discovering new lands.

at a meetup with some travel lovers
However, even if you dona��t live in a global city like New York (or really any big city) you can still experience travel without ever leaving. Herea��s how you a�� and Pete a�� can keep living in the travel mindset:

First, check out Meetup to find a local travel group. Maybe they just go out exploring the region around you, but Buy himalaya speman at least youa��ll be around like-minded people. (And traveling locally is still travel!) Additionally, maybe youa��ll find a group that loves salsa dancing, going out for sushi, having dinner parties where they attempt to cook a dish from somewhere around the world, or just talking about travel. Who knows?! Meetup is one of my favorite websites because there are groups for all different types of interests and people. No interest is too obscure. (And you can always start your own group if you dona��t find what you are looking for.)

people at an eatwith gathering
Second, try the sharing economy website Eat With, which lets locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that people can sign up for. Eat With is like the Airbnb for dinner parties: you get to go to a persona��s home, share stories with them, and eat their food. Youa��ll get a taste of someone elsea��s world a�� and you probably wona��t even have to travel that far. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price), and you can pick from a variety of meals, depending on what the host wants to cook. Find someone cooking food from someplace youa��ve never been and go try it! (Do you love to cook and host dinner parties? You can sign up to have guests come to you!)

Third, find or start a local travel community. There are many great ones out there. You can find some on Meetup, but there is also Travel Massive (an in-person global meet up) and online communities such as my forum, Lonely Planeta��s forum, and BootsnAll. Or you can just search for a�?travela�? in the Facebook search bar to see the long list of travel groups that you can join. These organizations and groups connect travel lovers, writers, industry professionals, and everyone in between. You can talk online, attend in-person meetups, and organize events. They are one of my favorite ways to connect with other travel diehards. Youa��ll get a lot of inspiration out of them.

Even if you arena��t meeting travelers, meeting people who love travel is sometimes just as good. They will share your desire, passion, and interest in the world. To them, your thoughts of quitting your job to sail around the Pacific wona��t sound crazy!

enjoying food and good times with people
Finally, the best way to meet others like you and literally bring the world to you is to use the website Couchsurfing. Ia��ve written about Couchsurfing a lot on this website, as ita��s one of my favorite travel websites out there. Ita��s been around for over ten years and connects travelers with locals so they can have a guide, get connected to events, and stay with someone for free! Ita��s a triple win. Ia��ve used it dozens upon dozens of times on the road. Therea��s always someone looking for a host in your hometown, so you can have people stay with you and learn about the world that way.

Years ago, I read a story about a farmer in Mongolia who lived in a yurt. He knew he was never going to leave his country, so he signed up for Couchsurfing to be a host. Travelers passing through the country stayed with him. They told him about their culture, and he shared his. He brought the world to him.

Another story I heard was that of a woman in the Midwest who had a daughter she wanted to teach about the world. Not being able to afford to travel, she opened her home to Couchsurfers, who taught her daughter about their home countries. It was her way of creating an open-minded environment.

This Belgian family did the same thing. As they said:

We see a lot of racism in the world and are convinced that this is related to the fear of the unknown. We do not wish to raise our children to be anxious, not trusting the world. We think it is important not only to teach our children about hospitality but to show them. We want them to know that all people are equal, no matter what their skin color, religion, ethnicity, culture, or language. People are good and willing to help and share. Of course there are a�?bad peoplea�? out there, but the majority are good. We want to show them our faith in the world, because then you will receive it back. We had no money to travel the world with our four kids, so we decided to let the world come to us. We opened our house, our hearts, and our lives to strangers. A lot of them became friends for life.

In fact, the site doesna��t actually require you to host people. If you dona��t want to be a host, there are local Couchsurfing meetups you can attend instead to meet other travelers. (Couchsurfing has a new hangout feature on its mobile app that lets you find other CSers in your area for such activities.) You can also connect with people who just want to meet for a coffee, which is a great way to trade stories and wisdom in a neutral environment.

a diverse group of travelers gathered together
I used to host people but havena��t had a lot of space in my last few apartments to do so. However, whenever Ia��m home, I try to attend a Couchsurfing event. Theya��re fun, you meet a lot of people, and you make new friends. Couchsurfing is like the worlda��s hostel.

So dona��t come home thinking that thata��s the end of your travels. There are many ways you can bring the world to you and keep that travel spirit alive. Sure, you wona��t be gazing at the Pyramids of Giza, but at least you can learn about other cultures and meet different people.

And isna��t that what travel is all about anyways?

If a guy in a yurt in Mongolia can make it happen, you can too!

P.S. – If you would like to help underprivileged students travel more, wea��re currently fundraising for a group of students to go volunteer in Ecuador. Help us reach our goal, change someonea��s life by exposing them to the world of travel, and get some travel swag in the process. It’s a trip win!

Photo Credits: 1, 3

2017: The Year You Make Travel Happen

daring travel sky dive
One of the most common New Yeara��s resolutions people make is to travel more. Ita��s right up there with eating better and going to the gym more.

And, like so many other resolutions, this one starts with the best of intentions and motivations but often fails.

When asked why, viagra natural para mujeres. most people make up some reason involving time and money. They ran out of time, life got in the way, they forgot to ask for time off, work got too busy, they never saved enough, couldna��t find a cheap ticket, yada, yada, yada.

Tomorrow is the day to hit the gym, give up pizza, read more, or find that cheap trip to Paris.

But, when you dive deeper, you usually find people dona��t Order vantin dosage follow through because they are too afraid to commit. They half-checked flights, looked up some hotels, and maybe even went to a bookstore to buy a guidebook. But when it came down to purchasing the trip, they hemmed and hawed and said, a�?Let me think about it a little. Maybe tomorrow.a�?

After all, change is hard. Getting out of your comfort zone is hard. It takes dedicated mental energy.

Turning a dream into a reality can elicit a sort of a�?ohh f%%k, this is happeninga�? moment. Therea��s always a mix of excitement and fear. a�?Yes!a�? to doing it but also an a�?uhh, what did I get myself into?a�? feeling.

The second you buy your plane ticket, therea��s no going back. Youa��re going. Youa��re locked in.

Soon youa��ll be in a place you know nothing about, where you know no one, and (maybe) dona��t speak the language.

The reality of that stops more people than you think from hitting a�?Book Nowa�? because they arena��t sure they are a�?ready.a�?

Now, I know that you, dear reader, have a sense of adventure. Youa��re reading this blog, right? This is probably not your problem.

But time and/or money? These things probably worry you.

Someone literally asked me in an email last week: a�?Why do people still think travel is expensive?!a�?

When I read that, I screamed at my computer, arms flailing, yelling a�?Right? Why indeed? That is such a good question! I still cana��t figure it out! It drives me insane!a�?

With all the blogs, magazines, apps, travel hacking websites, and deal sites out there, you would think the persistent myth that travel is expensive would have started to fade away by now. But it is still there. Ita��s hard to get rid of for the millions of people who grew up in the age of a�?travel = expensive hotel/resort vacation.a�? For the other millions in countries that are just getting the purchasing power to think about overseas travel, travel is very much still a luxury.

And luxury is synonymous with expensive.

However, there are travel deals all the time if you know where to look. 2016 saw some incredible cheap fares, and 2017 is shaping up to be no different. (There are some crazy $400 USD round-trip flights to Europe right now.) Additionally, the sharing economy has only grown in recent years, allowing you to bypass the old travel gatekeepers, and connect with locals for a cheaper trip.

So today, Ia��m going to get you somewhere in the world. Ia��m going to show you the secret to finding a cheap vacation so you can start 2017 off right and not back out of your resolution. Ready?

First, go to one of these websites: The Flight Deal, Holiday Pirates, or Secret Flying. Look for a cheap flight to a place you want to go to.

Second, book a flight. Lock yourself into a trip. Dona��t worry about anything else. I promise you everything will work out. You can worry about a hotel, what to pack, day-to-day expenses, time off, what to do, etc., later. Those things dona��t matter and there are many ways to cut those expenses! Worry about the logistics later.

Third, well, that’s all there is to it. There is no third.

Once you make the commitment by buying a flight, the rest is easy. Over and over again, I hear from travelers, a�?I was so worried about my trip. I built it up in my head so much and began to fret about all the a�?what ifs,a�� but once I got on the road, it all fell into place and I wondered why I was ever worried at all.a�?

I know it seems scary to take the leap, especially when you are on your own. I know it can be unnerving to run out of your comfort zone. It’s basically this cartoon below, right?

The simple act of hitting “go” takes mental work!

But Ia��m here for you. This site is a virtual hand. Ia��m here to take the leap with you together. To be there to reassure you along the way, take away your fears, answer any of your questions, and provide support. (Plus, we have a whole community of people to help you too!)

How I’m Going to Help Make 2017 the Year of Travel

Today, Ia��m bringing back the case study project. Ia��m going to take five readers and help them plan their trip from start to finish. Ia��m going to help them each step of the way (as much as they need me to) and use their examples to show again that you dona��t need to be rich to travel a�� or that you just arena��t limited to cheaper, developing countries.


Just email a screenshot of where you are going, as well as the following information: your name, phone number, and age; a short bio; the ideal budget for your trip; and anything else I need to know. (Please keep it to no more than two paragraphs.)

There are no fees or strings attached. Ia��ll work with you via email, phone, and Skype to create a plan and help you stick to it so you can travel sooner than you planned and for less money.

Ia��ll feature these case studies on the blog when they are done as a way to help and inspire others (so you have to be OK with sharing your story on the website).

If you want to go somewhere but have always been a bit too afraid to pull the trigger, do so today, and let me help guide you out the door.

I will take your hand and we will leap together.

– Matt

P.S. – If you would like to help underprivileged students travel more, wea��re currently fundraising for a group of students to go volunteer in Ecuador. Help us reach our goal, change someonea��s life by exposing them to the world of travel, and get some travel swag in the process. It’s a trip win!

How to Know If the Travel Info You Find is Legit

trust travel content
A couple of years ago, I rs in San Francisco and was invited by the folks at Google Travel to visit their campus, where we spent a lot of time geeking out over travel booking data and metrics. One of the stats that stood out for me was that most consumers spend over 40 hours researching their trip and look at over 20 sites!y

When I started planning my first trip around the world in 2005, there werena��t all the online resources we have now. I remember there was blog on backpacking Europe (basically what some girl did on her study abroad), a couple of forums, and a few others here and there.

Today, we have the Google Trips app; 100,000+ blogs; countless forums, communities, and sharing-economy websites; and everything in between. You can find information for anywhere you want to go. No destination is too obscure.

But, in that sea of endless information, how do you know what is accurate and trustworthy?

Like you, I spend a lot of time researching destinations before I go: blog posts, books, trip reports, hostel reviews, etc., etc. I love digging deep into the places Ia��m traveling to. It makes the trip seem real and like Ia��m discovering some secret.

But since Ia��ve been looking up information online and working in the travel industry for years, I can spot the BS really easily.

And today I want to help you do the same. Here is how to tell if the information youa��ve found is valid a�� or should be treated skeptically:

(Note: Ia��m going to break down my thoughts in extreme detail, but it actually doesna��t take that long to process all this. Ia��ll give you some perspective at the end. Ita��s not as long as you think!)

Factors to consider when reading about destinations

Sponsored content: When I first come across an article, I scroll to the bottom to see if the content is a�?sponsored.a�? Sponsored content is (a) when a blogger is given a trip or product in exchange for a review or mention (and payment) on that bloggera��s website, and (b) content that is basically advertising or marketing material (think some a�?awesomea�? contest they are telling you about). While organized press trips have been happening in the travel business for decades (and Ia��ve done them), sponsored content is something different. Since there is an exchange of money, I feel like ita��s marketing (for reasons that tie together below). I will still read the article a�� and it still might be useful a�� but I definitely want to know if someone was paid to go to that destination or promote that content. After all, there is a natural human inclination to sugarcoat the negatives if wea��ve been paid to write about a place or product.

When I see a�?Thanks for the free trip, (insert tourism board name). All opinions are my own.a�? without explanation, Ia��m wary. What was free? What was paid for? Did they receive money? I want to know more. I tend to take the suggestions with a grain of salt unless I see clearly what was sponsored, in a statement Oxytrol best price like a�?Visit Islay provided the car and accommodation and also connected me to distilleries so I could get the behind-the-scenes tours for this article. Meals, flights, and transportation to and from the island a�� as well as all that whisky I bought a�� were at my own expense.a�? So I want the article to be clear on what was and wasna��t paid for a�� because that will directly impact some of the other important things to keep an eye.

Replicable experiences: If the writer is writing about an experience that I cana��t do or a situation I cana��t replicate, the advice isna��t useful to me as a reader a�� and I immediately move on. Ita��s great that someone got to do something cool like eat at a 3-star Michelin restaurant or cook dinner with Bourdain a�� but how does that really help me experience the place? Those kinds of articles make for fun stories but nothing more. When Ia��m researching a destination, I dona��t want a fun story, I want a helpful story.

Detailed content: How detailed is the article? The more facts, figures, and other details they include, the more I know they know their stuff. For me, advice that is detailed, practical, and replicable is the best kind of advice. I look for blogs and content that give me insight into a destination or product like I would expect from a guidebook or magazine. All these signals tell me a�?This website has quality and trustworthy content and I should use it to plan my trip.a�?

This is why whether or not the content is sponsored / branded / whatever term people use is so important to me because the more the writer is paying their own way and doing what I would do, ita��s more likely to include the nitty gritty facts and figures that will be useful to me as I plan my trip.

Bigger picture: Moreover, I look at that content within the bigger picture of their website. If I come across an article and I like what Ia��m reading, sponsored or not, I click around the website a bit more. If this blogger tends to do the kind of activities I like to do, I think to myself, a�?OK, we have a similar travel style. This persona��s advice is going to benefit me.a�?

If I look around a website and see they mostly pay their own way, have detailed content, and are in the trenches like the rest of us, Ia��m OK with the small amount of sponsored content I see because in my mind, it will be more fair and balanced than someone who does mostly paid trips.

Website appearance: What does their website look like? Does it look loved? Is the design from 1999, or does it look like someone keeps the site up to date? Ita��s like a restaurant. While looks dona��t 100% correlate to quality food, youa��re more likely to go a�?the food is probably good herea�? if the restaurant looks like it wasna��t like renovated during the Nixon years. For example, look at my site:

In 2008:


Which one would furosemide orders. you trust more? (Exactly. The newer version.)

Are they too negative? There are so many factors that go into whether or not you like a destination: the people you meet, the weather, the ease with which you got around, whether someone in your dorm snored, and so much more! When I look at someone’s opinion on a place, I look to see if they are just ranting or are truly being fair. “This place was terrible and you should never go” is a rant that should be taken with a grain of salt. Read it, file it away, but mostly ignore it. Years ago, I went on a rant about Vietnam and swore I would never go back. Since then, I’ve grown as a writer and a person. I had to add a little blurb at the end of the article saying this was my experience but you should go and experience it yourself. That article stays up because it’s part of the site, but I cringe when I read it. It’s not the type of article that gives an accurate picture of a place nor is it one you should use when you plan your trip. Avoid articles like that!

Timely content: Lastly, how old is the article? Has it been updated? Travel changes so rapidly that an article that was written five years ago and hasna��t been updated since is one I dona��t value. The article and content must be from within the last two years.

Factors to consider when researching a company or making a booking:

Most reviews are negative: First, when it comes to using a company or booking website you dona��t know, ita��s important to remember one thing: the majority of reviews are most likely going to be negative. Consumers use review sites to complain, not to praise. Ita��s almost always how some company screwed them over. While that is sometimes the case (no company is perfect 100% of the time a�� and ita��s not just obscure companies; Ia��ve had friends have terrible times trying to get a refund from Expedia), most of the time ita��s because someone didna��t read the fine print.

So thata��s the most important thing to remember: consumer reviews always tilt negative in the travel space, so you shouldna��t be too worried if a company has too many negative reviews (the devil is in the details, not some star rating!).

Consider why a review is negative: When looking at consumer reviews, I look to see why these people are having a negative experience. For example, if many of the negative reviews for a tour company talk about how their guide didna��t know anything, I begin to think, a�?Maybe this tour company isna��t that good.a�? But if the negative reviews are mostly a�?THIS IS THE WORST COMPANY EVER BECAUSE MY HOTEL WAS ONLY 2 STARS AND I EXPECTED 5 STARS FOR THE $500 I PAID!a�? then Ia��ll ignore those specific negative reviews. To me, these kinds of reviews are just rants, not helpful.

Expert opinion: What do travel writers, magazines, and newspapers say about this company? Do they match the negative consumer reviews, or do they paint the company in a different light? If tour company X has tons of negative consumer reviews but the majority of professionals say it is good, Ia��ll go with the professional opinion. If therea��s a disconnect between what consumers say and what the majority of experts say, I trust the experts.

Next, consider the following:

How often a reviewer posts: When looking at user-generated reviews, I want to see how often a user posts (most sites show you). If someone posts just once and writes a scathing review, chances are they are trying to vent because they didna��t get what they want.

Beware too-positive reviews: People dona��t like to hurt other peoplea��s feelings, so on a lot of the sharing-economy sites, people sugarcoat their reviews, because these hosts or guides arena��t a faceless corporation. If some guy gave you a tour or if you stayed in someonea��s house and it sucked, youa��ll feel bad leaving a very negative review because you met that person and formed a (fleeting) relationship with them.

Beware a lack of details: This is how I ended up in an Airbnb that was directly above a bar. Everyone said a�?it was noisy,a�? but NYC is noisy, so I just assumed that is what they meant. Since that horrible incident, I only trust reviews that are specific, details, and clear on what was good and what was bad. a�?I had a great timea�? or a�?This place was so soa�? doesna��t tell you anything and those reviews should be ignored.

Beware paid placements: Next, make sure the top reviews arena��t paid placements. The majority of booking sites allow companies to pay extra for higher or top a�?recommendeda�? placement. All those top results? Usually paid to be there. So do what I do: ignore the top recommended properties, sort by price, and then figure out where to book!

Pictures: Finally, when I look at booking sites, I also like to see what pictures people who have stayed there have posted. Of course having a professional photographer take a picture vs. someone taking a picture with their phone are two very different things, but I like to at least get a sense of what the room looks like in a real-world setting.

In the end, none of these points make or break my planning. I take all of these factors into account. I look at everything and see what the complete picture looks like. I look for patterns and averages. That is something you cana��t really fake. Trust the average.

This might sound like it takes a lot of work, but ita��s really just a long, drawn-out written version of what I keep in mind as I research. In reality, it only takes a few minutes, but by looking at all these factors, I rarely end up at a place I dona��t like, using a company that screws me, or getting inaccurate and unhelpful information!