Monthly Archives: February 2013

Is there such a thing as too much planning?

Today, I continued reading my Lonely Planet “Southeast Asia on a shoestring” guide, which, like all of the other travel guide I own, I plan to read cover to cover.  Don’t misunderstand (oops, double negative) me, I won’t plan out every single minute of my trip. Nor do I take guidebooks as gospel. I just love reading them. Seriously. It gets me excited for my future travels and gives me an idea of where I want to go, what I want to see and do, how I want to travel, etc. I get almost as much pleasure out of planning and reading about the places I’m going as I do actually going there. Is that crazy?

Maybe so. In fact, definitely so. But that’s ok. If I didn’t love that stuff so much, I probably wouldn’t be going on this crazy trip.  And really, my obsession with trip planning has served me very well in the past. On my first solo trip (9 weeks in Central America), I planned and schemed for nearly 3 years.  This time, it’s been a scant year and a quarter (so far) and I’m planning on being gone about 18 times longer than that first trip.  So really, I’m getting better. Really…

P.S. on the same note, I’ve discovered a new planning tool called BudgetYourTrip…actually I poached it from another travel blog that I enjoy reading, Travel-Stained. 🙂

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Why travel? THIS is why

Lately I’ve been feeling affirmation from the world about this huge decision to leave my current life and travel for an indefinite period of time, which frankly is a nice change because up until about a month ago, I was feeling a bit downtrodden.  My parents weren’t particularly supportive, friends thought I was out of my mind, and, while there were several people that told me my plan sounded “fun”,  I just couldn’t seem to find anyone that really “got” what I want to do.  Then, all of a sudden, I was surrounded by encouragment.  I found a few really great travel blogs bursting with inspiration, I reconnected with some friends that were beyond supportive of my plan, and I rediscovered a confidence in myself and my decisions that I had, er, misplaced for a while.

Antigua Volcano

Now, when people ask me why I’m doing this, I’m going to answer with conviction.  I want the world as my backyard, I want my home to be wherever I lay my backpack for the night or the week or the month, I want to live to work work to travel!  I hope that this post can do for someone else what other posts/conversations have been doing for me lately — inspire someone to grab their life by the balls and make their dreams come true!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Day 27

lionfish hunting

Lionfish hunting in Honduras

Day 27: Working on the road.  Is it feasible for you?  Do you have super mad skills that allow you to work remotely?

This could mean working some IT magic for businesses that need your help or freelancing some articles if you’re a journalist or even taking a break during your trip to teach for a semester or two.  Whatever skills you have, don’t be afraid to put them to use while you travel.  That little bit of extra cash you make could fuel another week in Thailand.

Also be on the lookout for opportunities that offer free room…in Belize, I helped a hostel owner paint a few walls and earned 2 extra nights for free.  Talk to the manager at the place you’re staying and ask if he/she knows of any odd jobs that need doing or if there is a temporary position that needs filling.

Beach Clean-Up

Beach Clean-Up

Volunteering is also a great way to score free room and sometimes board, as well as get you really involved with the local community and do some good.  WWOOFing is becoming very popular, especially in countries that are more expensive to travel in.

Teaching is a popular way to earn some extra money while on the road, particularly teaching english as a foreign language.  Check out the requirements for the country you’d like to do this in.  Some require a particular visa, others require a specific certification, still others require nothing but that your first language is english.

There may be other opportunities you can take advantage of…for instance, I’ll be going to Australia under a special working holiday visa.  Generally, there are restrictions on these sorts of things.  For mine, I have to be between 18-30, have no dependent children, have a certain level of education, be a US citizen, and can only stay a year.

No matter what your interest, look at what’s out there! I bet you’ll be able to find some (enjoyable) way to supplement your income while traveling. Cheers!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Andrew Evans on travel

Just saw a great youtube video of Andrew Evans speaking at a TED conference and had to share some of his brilliant words of wisdom. “Real travel is when you take to the open road and you accept everything that comes your way be it thrilling, joyful, difficult or depressing. This is what the original explorers did and this is what I want to do.” He took buses from Washington D.C. to the southern tip of South America in his attempt to get to Antartica.  He talks about the joy of traveling with uncertainty and how that is what makes travel a life-changer.    “Travel is one of the greatest human freedoms ever.” “We need to plan less, don’t be a tourist in your life taking pictures as it happens. Instead, we need to travel, don’t be tourists, travel more, plan less.  Just because we can fly, doesn’t mean we always have to fly.  Sometimes in life we should take the bus and go slowly and enjoy and embrace every discovery as it comes to us.  I traveled the most inefficient way possible and it took me exactly where I wanted to go.”   If you want to see his full presentation, here is the link. Love it, feeling so inspired right now. 🙂

Categories: Travel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Day 26

Day 26 of Bootsnall’s “Plan your RTW trip in 30 days” is all things money.  Do your research on what ATM cards, debit cards, and credit cards offer ATM fee reimbursements and don’t impose international fees. For US residents, Charles Schwab is a really good choice.  They reimburse all your ATM fees at the end of each month, though you’ll still have to pay a percentage for withdrawing money internationally.  I have a Chase credit card, which I picked specifically because it doesn’t have international fees.  Another perk of my Chase card is that it is a travel rewards card.  If I’m going to be spending the money anyway, I might as well get points I can trade in for a free flight now and then.  

Also, when possible, I withdraw the maximum amount.  The only time I don’t do this is if I don’t think I will be staying in a country long enough to spend what I would be withdrawing in local currency.

Another tip from the article is to keep the bulk of your money in a high interest account that is separate from your ATM card or credit card in case you get mugged or pick-pocketed.

I never leave on an international adventure without my trusty money belt. Haha I know it sounds silly, but really, it’s such an easy way to keep your passport and money safe, especially while you’re in transit.  I’ve even been known to wear it under my pajamas at some especially sketchy hostels.

Also, and this should really go without saying, lock your luggage up whenever possible, especially if you decide to store your wallet and other important documents in your luggage.

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Day 25

Baby White-faced Capuchin Monkey fell out of a tree in Costa Rica...he should have had health insurance

Baby White-faced Capuchin Monkey fell out of a tree in Costa Rica…he should have had health insurance

Day 25 of Bootsnall’s “Plan your RTW trip in 30 days” is about how to stay healthy while on the road.  At some point, you’ll be getting sick.  Hopefully, it’ll just be a touch of traveler’s tummy and you’ll be on your way, but in case that it’s more than that, you should definitely have some good travel health insurance.  If it isn’t quite that serious, remember that your home country is not the only country that has pharmacies and health care.

With that in mind, don’t stress about bringing everything in your medicine cabinet.  Some bandaids, a tube of bacitracin, a few ibuprofen, an antibiotic like cipro, and a couple tums should take care of most of your problems.  You don’t need to take huge bottles, just a couple doses worth because unless you’re going to be trekking through remote areas for weeks on end, you’ll be able to get to a store to get what you need.

Some people will tell you to stay away from street food as the hygiene may be questionable, but as long as you follow some common sense, street food can be some of the best food of your whole trip.  Look for a busy stall with lots of locals.  High turnover means the food probably won’t have time to go bad.  Locals means the stall has a good reputation.  Look for food that is being cooked and handled properly.  Be careful about eating food that hasn’t been peeled, cooked or boiled, though there are many times I haven’t followed this rule and been just fine.  Check for warnings about the tap water, and if you’re in doubt, drink bottled.  Don’t forget about ice!  My parents came to visit me in Costa Rica.  I told them over and over again not to drink the water.  The one time my dad had ice in his coke, even though I told him to ask for another coke with no ice, he got traveler’s tummy and was out for 2 days. If he had listened to me, he wouldn’t have missed out on one of my favorite places in Costa Rica, Monteverde. You can bet he listened to me for the rest of the trip!

To be honest though, no matter how careful you are, if you travel for any length of time, you’re going to get sick.  Best just to hole up somewhere for a few days if you can and stick it out.

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Day 24

Day 24 of Bootsnall’s “Plan your RTW trip in 30 days” is an essential lesson, How to stay safe on the road.  For the most part, you can stay safe by just using common sense.  Check out the travel advisories for the countries you’re visiting.  If you feel uncomfortable, leave the situation, even if you feel silly about it.  Keep valuables on you while in transit and as inconspicuously as possible.  As a woman traveling alone, I’ve found it helpful to sit next to other women or children or old people while I’m on a bus.  It generally limits unwanted attention.  When you’re walking alone, walk with a purpose and keep alert.  Don’t go to beaches or anywhere remote by yourself after dusk.  Carry your money and passport in a hidden money belt.  Take your camera out only when you’re taking a picture, otherwise keep it hidden.  Don’t wear flashy jewelry or watches. Keep your eyes on your bag at all times if possible.  Sometimes it’s not, sometimes your bag goes on the top of the bus or underneath it, but ask if you can keep it with you.  Lock your stuff up at night. If that isn’t an option I usually try to pick a top bunk and haul my bag up there with me.  If a cab driver tells you that the hotel/attraction/tour office you are trying to get to is closed/burnt down/whatever but he knows of another one and would be glad to take you to it, it’s probably a scam. Be on the lookout for ATM skimmers (here’s a link describing what they are and how to avoid them) http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/10-04/atm-skimmers-how-to-protect-yourself.html

This is not meant to scare you away from traveling, only to remind you to use your head.  Safe travels!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.