travel resources: start here for travel tips 2017-03-04T10:31:26+00:00

where do i start?

TRAVEL TIPS + RESOURCES

is work + travel for me?

GAP YEAR, DIGITAL NOMADS, + FREQUENT TRAVELERS

bus, train, or drivers?

TIPS TO GETTING AROUND

is solo travel safe?

MEETING NEW PEOPLE

BEFORE YOUR TRIP

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    • If you’re American, sign up for STEP (Safe Traveler Enrollment Program — it’s free).
    • If you travel often, sign up for Global Entry (Cut immigration lines; includes TSA Pre-Check — $100/ Year)
    • Get Travel Insurance

(Try World Nomads)

  • Look up visa & passport information for the countries you’re visiting through your country’s consulate.
  • Talk to your local health care provider about immunizations.
  • Contact your banks to inform them of the countries you are traveling to. If you don’t, they may assume your cards were stolen and put a freeze on your account.
  • Consider having your smart phone unlocked, so that you can get a temporary phone card from the country you’re visiting. Alternatively, stick to Wifi and keep your phone on Airplane Mode.
Unless you have a trust fund, there’s two things you have to do to travel: work to save money and manage your expenses — or — work while traveling and manage your expenses.

The point is, either way, you’re developing an income, and choosing to spend it on travel as opposed to other things.

It’s worth the investment, I promise!

Don’t know where to start? I’ve researched and use some of the best travel gear:

• Backpacks + Luggage
• Packing Essentials
• Travel Electronics
•  Best Photo Equipment

The first step to planning a trip is figuring out which once-in-a-lifetime events are worth revolving your trip around. For example, I planned my time in Thailand around making it to the Full Moon Party, and my time in Eastern Europe around Yacht Life, Croatia.

I’ll create the ultimate events calendar soon, for now — Google it?

Also, consider looking up local sporting events. A soccer game in Barcelona is priceless, and the races in Sydney are a blast.

Check these out too:

I’m not a perfect example of the perfectly responsible tourist, but the more I travel, the more I’ve learned about our responsibility as travelers. As I write up pieces on responsible tourism, I’ll be including them in this section.

BOOKING YOUR TRIP

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The trick to finding cheap flights is to compare prices of different airlines:

Coming soon: a tutorial on how tricks to booking cheap flights!

There are five types of places you can stay while traveling: hotels, hostels, villas, an apartment that you temporarily rent out, or on someone’s couch/ guest room.

$-$$  HOSTELS: Hostels are a great place to meet people. Some are conservative and others tend to have a back-packer party vibe. Check out hostelworld.com to compare hostel prices.

$$$ – $$$$$ HOTELS: If your prefer luxury and privacy, I suggest comparing prices for hotels with Hotels.com

$$$-$$$$ Villas: For a luxurious escape and grand space, check out Luxury Retreats

$$-$$$ AIR BNB: People rent out their apartment or house. You get to live like a local and they make some extra cash out of renting their space.

It’s also a great way to make some money while you’re traveling.

Sign up to host or book here on the AirBNB website. You get $20 towards your first adventure (& I do too for the referral).

HOME STAY: Stay with a local for a rate better than a hotel room. Homestay.com

COUCH SURFING: Stay with a local for free, hang out with them and make them dinner or bring them a gift from your country. I briefly couch-surfed in Ireland, Amsterdam, and Berlin with my guy best friend in 2013; it was cool. We met incredible people.

Blog post with Couch-Surfing Tips coming soon!

Public and private transit varies per country. For the most part, public transit is great means of travel in major cities — in developing nations. However, things get funky when you venture out into destinations with less infrastructure. My thoughts below:

  • Trains vs. charter buses: luxury trains are great; most charter buses provide basic luxuries such as air-conditioning, wifi, a restroom, and entertainment. Charter buses are required by law (in most countries) to stop every four hours (hello breather), and are usually relatively direct. It’s almost like carpooling. I therefore prefer charter buses which are so much more affordable and guaranteed comfort. If you’re a luxury traveler, the right luxury train line is worth your investment — it costs the same as a cheap flight with much more space.
  • I do not recommend over-night budget trains — a charter bus will be cheaper (and cleaner). Budget trains may leave you seat-less, and dirty and without air-conditioning. They often stop at every single train stop (taking longer), or require complex train changes that you might miss, delaying your trip.
  • I almost always get lost on trains that require me to switch trains in foreign countries. Always — and I’ve almost been to 200 places. I do not recommend trains if you’re on a time crunch unless you’re with a local who is very familiar with the train route.
  • I am terrified that someone will steal my belongings — and hop off when the train — when it stops.
  • I much prefer charter buses.
  • Non-charter buses in developing nations such as Vietnam are funky. I have some crazy stories for you. I felt very safe in our particular situation, but I could see how the general set up wouldn’t be appealing to most travelers or tourists.
  • Rome 2 Rio: Use this website to compare train, bus, ferry, and car routes.
  • Road Trips are my favorite — well, after sailing and yachts, but that’s another story.
  • The Road Trip Abroad Check-List
  • Don’t want to drive? Try a ride- share program which allows you to book a driver or carpool for a competitive rate to cabs or luxury drivers. Download the app LYFT.  You can use my code STEPH282 after downloading the LYFT app to get $50 for your first rides (credit expired 30 days from when you download the app).
  • When traveling overseas or rather in developing nations, avoid “private drivers” or “taxis” that aren’t registered. Always ask for the cost of a ride before you start, and always ask for a metered ride. If you’e not paying attention, you might be ripped off by a desperado unpaid driver.
If you travel often, you might want to consider sticking to a hotel group and racking up rewards with loyalty points.

Do you prefer boutique hotels?

Mr. and Mrs. Smith puts luxury and character on one platform.

DURING YOUR TRIP

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Is travel safe? It’s about as safe and not safe as driving a car or walking across the street. The difference between safety in your home city as compared to that of an outside neighborhood changes on the following factors: cultural differences, navigating somewhere where you may get lost and sticking out as a target.
Physical and social cues give us away as a traveler.

There really isn’t a way to guarantee our safety anywhere, but you’re probably safer in the Amazon jungle than in your LA neighborhood.

As a young female, I have traveled solo since I was nineteen years old; but I was thinking of my safety long before. Cruelty sees no borders. If you’re ever in a situation of danger, it’s not you that made a mistake.

On that note, here are some of my strategies to minimize being a target in harmful situations.

Like I said, I’ve been traveling solo since I was nineteen years old. I hiked Mt. Fuji in Japan by myself (without even a tour group lol). On most continents, I’ve often traveled solo and met people through tour groups, hostels, mutual friends, and social media.

Here’s some posts to get you going:

While most of my travel experiences revolve around frolicking solo or working while traveling, I can refer you to some incredible people who make love and travel possible. You don’t have to choose between love and travel — they’ve proved it.

Actually, both traveling together, and spending time apart, will only make your relationship stronger.

It gets so easy to glorify life on the road or overseas; but travel can be physically, financially, and emotionally challenging. Whether you’re studying abroad, a frequent business travel, working and living as an expat, pursuing a gap year, or living as a digital nomad — I’ve lived and learned each of these travel styles.