A year ago today Amy and I were twelve days in to a month long journey through India. Our travels took us north, south, east and west to the cities of Delhi, Amritsar, Jaiselmer, Varanasi, Cochin, Mumbai and more. Before leaving we had a few reservations, as many people had warned us that traveling to India could be difficult and that we should expect the unexpected. They couldn’t quite put it into words but they always said that it would definitely be a challenge. After spending a month there, we now understand what they meant. India is a beautiful country steeped in history with deep religious roots, countless languages and customs and rituals dating back thousands of years. It is sensory overload simply walking down the street. Bright colored clothing, a multitude of markets, dust so thick you can taste it on your tongue, tuk-tuks barreling down the street, spicy aromas that tickle your nose and the constant scent of incense wafting through the air are some of the things that you can expect to experience. The poverty, corruption and pollution are everywhere yet there are times where pockets of beauty peak through, confirming why people love it so much . That being said, anyone traveling from the west will definitely go through some culture shock during a visit to this enchanting country. Here are a few things to expect, if a trip to India is in your near future.
Shopping in local markets is one of the best ways to explore a country. It’s a great way to interact with locals, try new foods and get unique souvenirs that will remind you of your trip for years to come. There are also amazing deals to be had! Souks, Marchés, Bazaars, Night Markets whatever their name, they are all similar in that they carry everything under the sun, you name it they’ve got it! Traditional clothing, spices, key chains, bowls, delicacies, scarves, paintings, jewelry, sculptures, rugs, bags, shoes, lamps, wallets, postcards, even animals are a just a few of some of the hidden gems that you can find! Most vendors in markets sell their goods for about half the price of items sold in store fronts or at the airport but there is a definitely an art to bargaining and getting the most bang for your buck. It is a challenge and can sometimes be overwhelming since there are no fixed prices. At times you may feel pressured to buy things you don’t even want and all of the sudden you are walking back to your hotel with not 1 but 5 throw pillows that you had no intention of buying and no room for in your luggage. Here are some tips for bargaining when shopping at international markets.
When I first arrived to New Zealand I met a girl from Finland whom I hit it off with immediately. After hanging out for a few hours, she apologized for acting a little weird. “What do you mean”, I asked. “Well I just finished this 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course yesterday and it feels strange to be back in the real world. “10 days of silence, that sounds horrible, I can’t even imagine, tell me more,” I urged. “It’s hard to explain and I can’t even begin to describe it although I will say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but the most rewarding experience of my life, everyone should experience it at least once in their lifetime.” She left it at that so I made a mental note to look it up upon my return home.
Ah Paris! The City of Lights, Paname, The City of Love– whatever you want to call it, this capital city is enchanting all the same. Little or no introduction is needed as it’s already known for art, fashion, cuisine and its architectural beauty. Of course it’s important to see the iconic sights such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Sacré-Cœur and the Champs-Élysées but that’s just the beginning. Many tourists find themselves planning their next trip back before they’ve even left. Here are a few other things to experience upon your return that will take you off the major tourist circuit.
Cambodia is an amazing country but many people don’t realize this until they see it first-hand! In fact, it’s usually not a main destination when traveling to Southeast Asia but is added on as a side-trip from Vietnam, Laos or Thailand.
Here is a short itinerary for those that are interested in a quick trip. Cambodia should not be missed if you are already on that side of the world.
Phnom Penh: 2-3 days
Battambang: 2 days
Siem Reap: 2-3 days
If my travels have taught me one thing, it’s that there is a major difference between hotels in America and hotels in developing countries, particularly Southeast Asian hotels. Here are a few things that I learned about this topic along the way.
Have you ever dreamed of going to South Africa or Australia and then heard that it was ungodly expensive so you ditched the idea? You don’t have to be making six figures to go on vacation or do some long-term traveling; you just need to know how to budget. It may sound silly but when you are using multi-colored currencies of pink, blue, purple and yellow you can easily forget that you are not playing with monopoly money. The worst thing in the world is to buy a latte in Paris, only to find out later that it cost $7, trust me it happens and all adds up!
I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide (using a fake destination) on how I budgeted for my international trip and even came home with an extra $2,000 in my account.
When I decided to take a 7-month trip I was terrified at the thought of traveling with nothing but a backpack. Before I left I compiled a list of everything I thought I would need and it turns out that only half of it fit (after I packed my beauty supplies, some things are necessities that could not be skipped)! Even after removing a few things, it turns out that I still packed way more than was necessary. Here is the list that I put together after my return with the only items I really needed while I was away. I’ve added some links of some of my favorite products because they made life on the road so much easier and I absolutely loved them! In a future post Amy and I will tell you why we love some of these products so much. This packing list is a combination of necessities if you plan on staying in hotels, hostels or other basic accommodations.
The first time that I ever looked for lodging while on the road was in Indonesia. A friend had told me about this perfect, incredible, fabulous, wonderful, amazing, cheap little place she found on this tiny island but there was one problem…..she forgot the name of it! Since it was such a small island, she told me that all I needed to do upon arrival was ask for a man named Ronni, who was the owner, and I would be pointed in the right direction. After walking around for 20 minutes barefoot up and down the beach in 95-degree heat, a 40lb bag on my back and asking about 30 strangers for Ronni, I finally found the man of the hour! And she was right, his bungalows were perfect, incredible, fabulous, wonderful, amazing and cheap!
Finding accommodation mid-travel does not always have to be this hard. Here are 3 easy ways to easily find lodging while on the road.