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.
Right before Christmas, I went with a couple of friends to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week to stay in a beautiful luxury hotel on the beach. The most basic room at this hotel is $700+ a night, but for us, it was free using points I saved up on one of my credit cards.
If you already have an affiliation with an airline or hotel program, it might be a no-brainer to get a credit card associated with your program. Fly United? A United credit will get you more miles. Stay at a Marriott? Marriott has a good card.
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.
I was warned before going to the Czech Republic that the police were corrupt. That they often tried to extort money out of people. No matter, I thought, that will not apply to me as there is no reason at all I would interact with the cops. Well, the cops found me and I had no choice in the matter.
Last month I had a few days between work trips, and already being in Europe decided to stop for 3 days in Prague for a solo trip. I spent some time researching and put together an itinerary that would hopefully allow me to see and do as much as possible. So lets see how that worked out! Hint: It worked out really well, until my unplanned encounter with the police.
Because I had left Barcelona at 8:30 on Day 1 and didn’t land in Prague until close to 1pm, this is more like 2.5 days in Prague, or even 2.33 days in Prague. But that sounds kind of weird for a title, so lets stick with 3.
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.
A year and a half ago I took my first solo trip abroad to Vietnam and ended up meeting a ton of people from New Zealand, apparently that’s a place on the Kiwi travel circuit! After spending 2 weeks with them I was suddenly interested in visiting this country that they spoke so fondly of. To be completely honest, it had never crossed my mind to visit New Zealand before I met them. It always seemed like some unattainable country because it was just so far away. But once I decided to quit my job and travel for an extended period of time, this was the first country that made it on to the list!
Since I didn’t know much about New Zealand I had to figure out what I wanted to do and see once I got there.
Three years ago, my parents and sister had never been outside of the U.S., except to go to Canada a few times. And Canada is basically the United States with people who say “eh” and apologize a lot. It doesn’t count. (Love you Canadians!) So I got this idea that I wanted them to take a trip with me. And not just any trip… a crazy, mind-blowing, once-in-a-lifetime trip.
I’d floated the idea of an African safari before, which is my ultimate dream trip, and my parents were not interested at all. They’re like “How about we just go to Florida?” Which is fair, but, a lot less exciting and without the lions.
Hotels are the first thing that come to mind when looking for international accommodations. This was especially true for me before I took my 7-month trip. While hotels are always a nice place to rest your head (for the most part), you may be surprised to know that there are so many other options out there. I’ve put together a list of a few different types of lodging that I discovered during my travels.
If familiarity is something that’s important to you while traveling, hotels are the way to go. In fact many hotel chains are international nowadays and can be found in most countries. Don’t be afraid to try some international hotels abroad that you would never try at home.
Hooray! You’ve finally decided that you deserve a vacation; the next question is where do you want to go? For many of us there are always a few places on our bucket list that we are dying to get to; the problem is choosing your next destination!
When I started planning my 7-month trip the first thing I did was pull out a world map and start highlighting countries of interest. That lasted all but 5 minutes because I ended up highlighting the entire map!
What are Your Interests?
A way to simplify this process is by first deciding what you’re looking to get out of this trip. Are you interested in activity and adventure, history and culture, nightlife or something where you don’t have to think and just relax? Hey, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a beach bum, this is vacation after all and you are free to spend it any way you choose!