TRAVEL tips:

The travel tips and resources below make it possible for me to travel easily and affordably. I share this info because I think everyone deserves to travel affordably. For instance, two links below regularly alert me to $300 overseas flights (while booking direct, through the airlines). I hope this page helps others who enjoy easy and affordable travel, too. XO


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Verifying Travel Requirements:

  • I first go to government websites to look up…

    • potential safety issues in each country

    • what I need to do before I leave for each country

    • what I need to bring to each country (expedited passport?)

  • then I go to iVisa to…

    • view the visa requirements

    • if required, purchase a visa

    • receive that visa via email

  • I then plot my travel based on how long I can stay in each region…

    • if I can stay 90 days, I prefer to keep it to 86 days, just in case there are travel delays (so I don’t overstay)

    • I find it more affordable to slowly explore in the Schengen Zone for 86 days, and then leave the Schengen Zone

    • I find it more affordable to explore near the Schengen Zone (but out of it) for 86 days, then head back into it


Online Mailbox

As soon as I no longer had a home (residential/roadside mailbox), I discovered the challenges of relying on a USPS post office box (the USPS was automatically mandated to sell my name to a loop of endless marketers, then I was mandated to pay the USPS to forward all of that junk mail to me, mixed in with my first class mail). I needed a better solution.

After much research, I discovered Traveling Mailbox, which:

  • allows me to choose the address I desire

  • doesn’t sell my name/address

  • (I’m also careful who I give my address to, to stay off junk mail lists)

  • scans every envelope I receive (which are few, as most of my accounts are paperless)

  • emails me when I have mail to view

  • allows me to view my envelopes online, to decide whether I want the contents scanned, forwarded, shredded, etc.

  • even deposits checks

TIP: I don’t pay Traveling Mailbox to deposit my checks. Instead, I use the scanned image of my checks to deposit my checks, myself, online. I do this by uploading the scanned check to Photoshop (where I electronically sign and crop it), then I upload it to my deposit app. It’s rare that I ever receive a paper check, but this has always worked for me when I do.


Excellent Travel Credit Card

I wanted the best travel credit card I could find, but I almost didn’t get it (the Chase Sapphire Reserve) because of its annual fee. Then I calculated the math and saw that it actually pays for itself by reimbursing me $300 in travel expenses every year plus providing me with travel services and benefits that I need (so I no longer have to pay someone else to provide those travel services and benefits). Thus, for me, the annual fee is a wash.

Then there are the exceptional points. So I charge everything possible to this card and pay it off monthly. This is, literally, the one thing I take everywhere.

TIP: I’ve found that the wisest way to book hotels is through the Chase Sapphire Reserve Reward travel portal. It has given me better hotel rates than any other portal/card/point method I’ve tried. And even when I have no points to use, I can pay their same low rate with my credit card instead.

 


International Chip-and-PIN Credit Card

When overseas, there are times that I need to use an unmanned/after hours kiosk to make (ferry ticket, subway ticket, train ticket, etc.) purchases. To do this, I need a true chip-and-PIN credit card that works overseas (as a PIN is required and American chip-and-signature cards can fail in these scenarios).

I chose this international chip and PIN credit card because it:

  • is a true PIN credit card

  • has no annual fee

  • has no foreign transaction fees

  • pays me points

  • is a Mastercard (American Express and lesser known cards are not always accepted everywhere)

  • comes from an international bank (allowing me to also more easily have an international bank account)


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Health Insurance

Right now, because I still have legal residency in a state (where I have a mailbox address, a driver’s license, am registered to vote, file taxes, previously lived in homes, use a boat, and still spend some time), I have health insurance that will cover me in that state. I buy this insurance through the government portal (as insurance agents have not had better rates).

However, due to a recent birthday, my monthly rate has skyrocketed. And since I will soon be out of country much of the time, I’m currently shopping for a worldwide health insurance plan. As soon as I have it, I’ll post it here.


Travel Insurance | Why

Right now, I have two travel insurance policies:

  • An annual travel insurance policy, which covers trips that last a particular number of days or less (annual travel insurance often has trip length stipulations). This is this far more affordable than buying separate travel insurance policies for each short trip and the annual plan means I never have to remember to buy travel insurance for each short trip. The only downside I’ve found: its benefits do not cover quite as much as what World Nomads covers (below).

  • A trip specific travel insurance policy through World Nomads, which covers a trip of any length. World Nomads is more expensive than the annual plan, but World Nomads is necessary for me to have coverage on longer trips. And, of course, World Nomads coverage is much better.

TIP: Before buying travel insurance, I first verify what my health insurance will cover while I’m traveling and what my credit card benefits will cover while I’m traveling, so I don’t pay for those benefits again (on the travel insurance policy). This has definitely saved me money when choosing travel insurance.


Discover How to Get Anywhere by Plane, Train, Bus, Ferry, and Car

When I’m still in the planning stages of determining where I should travel, but I’m not sure of the wisest fort of transportation to use between two locations, I find it wise to go to Rome2Rio.com and…

  • enter my destinations

  • view all the possible ways of transporting myself between the two locations

  • then compare the time/ave. cost of each form of transportation (provided on Rome2Rio)

In these situations, Rome2Rio has helped me make my route decision more quickly than any other search method I’ve tried.


The Man in Seat 61

The best train information of all.


Pomelo Travel ALERTS for Discounted Flights

Before booking any flights, I study the (extremely cheap) flight alerts that Pomelo Travel has been sending to my email inbox. Because the week after I subscribed to Pomelo Travel, I saved $1200 (50%) on tickets I'd previously not been able to find anywhere at a decent rate.  So, hands down, I’ve found it invaluable to utilize this fare ALERT site.

  • one can sign up for their free flight ALERT email list

  • one can sign up for their paid flight ALERT email list (to receive alerts sooner)

  • I set up my account so that all the airports I want to fly in/out of are on my notify list

  • even though the discounted flights are often announced for a particular date range, I’ve found the rates are often good for far more dates, so I look at as many dates as desired

  • Then I always book my flights directly with the airlines

 


Scott’s Cheap Flights ALERTS for Discounted Flights

Before booking any flights, I also study the (extremely cheap) flight alerts that Scott’s Cheap Flights has been sending to my email inbox.

(From my experience, it seems like Pomelo finds the best deals and Scott’s Cheap Flights finds a higher number of deals, so it’s valuable having them both.)

  • one can sign up for their free flight ALERT email list

  • one can sign up for their paid flight ALERT email list (to receive alerts sooner)

  • I set up my account so that all the airports I want to fly in/out of are on my notify list

  • even though the discounted flights are often announced for a particular date range, I’ve found the rates are often good for far more dates, so I look at as many dates as desired

  • Then I always book my flights directly with the airlines

 


London Airport Transportation

Transport to/from London airports can be unnecessarily expensive and/or confusing for me to navigate. However, National Express has come up as the cheapest, quickest, or easiest transportation for me to use when going to/from the airports, 24/7, with no worries about bags (they’re included).

Money Saving Tip: If we Uber from our lodging to a National Express Coach station that is less heavily trafficked, the National Express rate has been much cheaper. Meaning, I can walk to London Waterloo (heavily trafficked station) and hop on National Express, but that ticket price is much higher (than Ubering to another nearby station, like Victoria, where National Express charges less). So it’s worth playing with their online booking tool to find the best rate/most affordable station (while, of course, keeping Uber prices in mind).


Airbnb Lodging Discount

Whenever possible, I prefer staying in locations for a month or more, living like a local, so I search Airbnb for lodging that offers a monthly discount (usually 50%). If a monthly discount is not listed…

  • I message the owner to ask if a monthly discount is ever offered

    • I let them know that I completely understand if not

    • they have almost always noted a monthly discount

    • this saves thousands of dollars each year

  • this gives Airbnb owners a break from having to clean/launder (I handle that for them)

  • this allows me to truly settle into one location

I’ve also found that when the same emphatic words are left by many different reviewers (for instance, many people strongly emphasizing how sparkly clean an Airbnb is), those have been the most accurate Airbnb reviews (not the star rating, not the ordinary comments). This seems to be because people are worried about sharing honestly for a variety of valid reasons…

  • concerned an Airbnb host will then leave the guest a bad review (damaging that guest’s chances of renting future Airbnbs)

  • understanding the Airbnb owner might still be learning how to be an Airbnb host

  • understanding some things are out of the control of the Airbnb owner

  • not wanting to hurt the Airbnb owner’s feelings

There is no perfection, so I work with this as kindly and respectfully as possible (I also contact Airbnb to share ideas on how they might change their process). XO


Housesit for Free Lodging

I love belonging to Trusted Housesitters because of the security and support they provide, the amazing homes and estates available around the world, and the unlimited opportunities that keep appearing in my inbox. As someone who likes to be on the go and who also appreciates a beautiful home, here are the benefits I enjoy:

  • simply helping another (I consider this volunteer work)

  • ensuring their privacy is protected (in every way that they need)

  • creating new friend/petships

  • living like a local

  • staying at a beautiful property (important to investigate ahead of time; I look at every detail provided online in the photos; I would not accept a sit that does not provide plenty of photos of the interior/exterior, as one must know what they are getting into)

  • kitchen

  • laundry machines

  • lodging (I would not accept a sit that required I paid any expenses, as I’m not being compensated - this is volunteer work)

Most importantly, I’ve learned that the following steps help ensure the experience is mutually beneficial (to avoid a bad sit):

  • carefully research the owners (via the house sitting site)

    • review all prior sitter reviews

    • closely inspect all photos (there should be many inside + outside photos)

    • ask pre-sit questions (does the pet have any challenges? how severe are they? etc.)

  • getting everything in writing (especially any pet challenges)

  • offering to meet first (in person, on video)

  • thinking about it before saying yes

  • trusting my gut


Volunteer for Free Lodging

This free resource helps travelers find sustainable volunteer opportunities, which can also provide free lodging. I’ve not yet used it myself, but I keep it at my fingertips for when I’m able to, as one of my interests is to volunteer on the road in ways that make a meaningful difference. Thank goodness resources like this help make it possible.


Sleeping in Airports

I often find it easier to sleep for a bit in airports than to find a hotel during a layover. Especially when one considers how long it takes to transport to/from the hotel and how early one must wake to catch the next flight.

ALERT: due to the homeless (thus, bedbug) issues in some airports (and since flight security is not always open 24/7), I find it critical to research airports on this site, ahead of time, so I know where to not sit/sleep in airports. =)


Unlimited Online Yoga ( + meditation + pilates)

I do find that I need to keep a routine of some kind on the road, as it provides:

  • comfort

  • consistency

  • predictability

Yet it’s hard to find classes while traveling, especially reasonably priced classes (because I’m not buying long-term packages/memberships). So I found these online classes that are…

  • professional + kind

  • reasonably priced

  • available anytime + anywhere

While I can walk forever when I’m out and about, when I’m inside/at the computer I can literally sit forever. Yet I know it’s very important for my body not to do this, so I’m working on it. Just signing up for this online service makes me feel like I’m halfway over my biggest hurdle.


Affordable Text Therapy

As someone who has worked in crisis counseling, I share this resource in hopes that all humans (whether they are living conventional lives or traveling) are aware that it’s now possible for people to…

  • text/message a professional, whenever desired

  • talk/video chat with a professional, whenever desired

This allows one to receive short- or long-term support, no matter where they’re located. I think this support is something that all humans deserve to have access to, most especially in a time of need.

Love more self-care!


Free 24/7 Crisis Support:

Again, as someone who has worked in crisis counseling, I share this resource in hopes that all humans (whether they are living conventional lives or traveling) are aware that it’s now possible for people to text with someone who can provide immediate free crisis support. This support is something that all humans deserve to have access to, no matter where they’re located.

(Please share this far and wide. XO)

 


Exploring Where My Ancestors Are From

One of the meaningful things I’ve enjoyed is having my DNA tested so I can more accurately travel to the locations it appears my ancestors have lived. Even though I knew much of my history, there were surprises (I’m hoping to discover who my grandmother’s father was). I chose 23andMe as my first DNA testing stop because they also provide a whole lot of (raw) health data I also really wanted. Worst case scenario: this has been fun. Best case scenario: I have valuable answers to some meaningful questions.


Veg Jaunts and Journeys

There are some places I want to visit, where I’d love to be with those seeking the same kind of food. This is one service I’m planning to use. I’m sharing it here, even though I’ve not yet used them, because I know how great this travel community can be.


Vegan Travel Club 

Again, sometimes group travel is a very special thing. Thus, this is another service I‘m excited to use in the future, because I know how great this travel community can be.


Veg Voyages

Here are even more travel opportunities for those times when you want to be with others who are focused on mindful adventures and veg eating. Again, I’ve not yet tried them, but I’m keeping this here as my reminder to do so.


Vegan Travel

Last, but not least, one can even cruise with mindful others/vegan food. Not normally a cruiser, this would make it special for me. So I’ll have to check into this, too.


What Should I Do?

Trip Advisor | Vegan Festivals | Veg Fests

 



om: a mantra...used in contemplation...

venture: to go somewhere that is unknown...


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