South Island NZ
Destinations, Meeting People, Planning, Posted by Amanda, Travel Activities
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Discovering New Zealand

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.

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Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.

Andrew Zimmern
Mauritius Seven Colored Earths
Destinations, Family Travel, Miles and Points, Planning, Posted by Amy, Travel Activities
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How I Convinced My Family to Take a Crazy $60,000 Trip with Me

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.

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gili meno paddle on water
Planning, Posted by Amanda
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How To Plan for a Long-Term Trip

When I first decided that I was going to quit my job and travel for 7 months on my own I had no idea where to begin.  I didn’t personally know anyone that had done this before and hadn’t even thought to look at travel blogs.  Here is a list that I’ve put together that will help you to get the ball rolling.

Get a Guide Book 

After you decide where you want to go and glance over a few online sites to make sure that you are really interested in visiting that place, plan a visit to your local bookstore to buy a guide book.  Call me traditional but there is something about books that make me feel more comfortable and at ease knowing that all of the information is at my fingertips.  You can also buy these as digital books for your Ipad or Kindle but I like the idea of being able to bookmark a page so that I can easily go back to it at a later time. Also if you find yourself in a place with no wifi, spotty wifi or before a flight where they make you turn off your electronics you can still continue your trip planning.

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Zurich River and Buildings
Planning, Posted by Amy, Travel Activities
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How to See a City in 3 Hours

When you’re traveling it can feel overwhelming to see and do everything there is, especially if you don’t have a lot of time. Fortunately, there are two great ways to see a city quickly: walking tours and Segway tours.

I first discovered walking tours when I was in Sofia, Bulgaria for work and had only one morning I could slip away to sightsee. The Free Sofia Walking Tour was the #1 rated thing to do on TripAdvisor, it was only a few hours long, and it was FREE! I had to check this out.

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big rock in water in New Zealand
Meeting People, Posted by Amanda, Traveling Alone
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How to Meet People While Traveling Alone

When I tell people that I traveled alone for 7 months the first question I always get is, “weren’t you lonely?” It’s an honest question but it turns out, I was anything but! 

One of the perks of solo travel is that you have the opportunity to meet a ton of people. When I came back from my trip I think I had over 150 new facebook friends (I know it’s such a cliché way of measurement but the easiest way to keep in touch with people from all over the world). Interestingly enough, I think that I met more people while traveling alone than if I had been traveling with a friend. I think this stems from the fact that when you are alone it forces you to be more open, whether that’s reaching out to other people if you have questions or need suggestions or just looking more approachable. This was something that was tough for me at first. After spending 9 years in New York I was never a fan striking up conversations with random strangers. But the beauty of traveling is that there is some unspoken culture between fellow long-term travelers that makes this a little less daunting and almost everyone is out-going and open to meeting people.

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header_mauritius
Planning, Posted by Amy
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5 Helpful Things to Know Before You Travel

Even though you only really need 3 things to travel (a passport, a flight, and a place to stay) there is some additional information you will need once you arrive and it’s helpful to have done the research ahead of time.

It can be very stressful if you are at a restaurant or in a taxi and realize you have no idea if you are supposed to tip your server or driver. I have been in this situation and wound up frantically searching for tipping etiquette online before my taxi reached our destination. Thankfully I was able to access the internet from my phone, despite being in a foreign country!

Here are 5 things to know before you travel. All of them can easily be found online using a search engine.

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mauritius_beach
Miles and Points, Posted by Amy
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How to Take Free Trips Using Miles and Points

view of the beach from St Regis room porch
At the St. Regis Mauritius, the rooms open right up to the beach on the Indian Ocean
Miles and points are a big business these days, and if you use them correctly, you can take trips that would be otherwise completely out of reach for the average person.

These types of trips include international Business Class flights in lie-flat seats, luxury resorts, and high-end hotels in big cities.

These flights can easyly run $10,000, but with miles, you can get them for almost nothing. The best hotels can be $500 to $1,500 a night, but free to people who know how to maximize their points.

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Planning, Posted by Amy, Travel Activities
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The Best Travel Planning Websites

So you’ve decided to take a trip. Awesome! The best way to make sure your trip is successful is to hunker down and do some research. Luckily, the internet has a treasure trove of information on the entire planet.

Here are the sites I use for every single trip I plan, as well as some I stay away from.

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Accommodations, Destinations, Planning, Posted by Amanda
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Different Types of International Accommodations

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.

Hotels

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. 

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