Travel Tips:

Ever since I experienced full-time travel as a child, I’ve felt that everyone should be able to experience such adventure. Often asked how one can afford (or even logistically coordinate) such travel, below are the easy and affordable travel tips that help make this possible. For instance, two links below regularly alert me to $300 overseas flights (while booking direct, through the airlines). Even those with endless funds can use these tips, as money saved now means more money can be left to a good cause later.


Discounted Flight Alerts from Pomelo Travel

I receive regular emails from Pomelo Travel, which alert me to highly discounted plane tickets (I regularly see $300 overseas flights). I review these emails daily, so that I remain aware of the best prices out there, long before I need to purchase.

Example: The week after I subscribed to Pomelo Travel, I saved $1200 on tickets I'd previously not been able to find anywhere at a decent rate.  My very next purchase was for two $300 overseas flights (from the west coast). So, hands down, I’ve found this process invaluable.

  • they have a free ALERT email list

  • they have a paid ALERT email list (to receive alerts sooner; this is what I have and I find it so worth it)

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

  • once an alert is sent to me, discounted flights are often noted as good for a particular date range, yet I’ve found those discounted rates are often good for far more dates than the email alert mentions, so I look at as many dates as desired on Google Flights (where the rates are displayed)

  • then I always book my flights directly with the airlines

  • (Pomelo’s email alerts provide all instructions for this)

  • NOTE: this is not like many of the“fare finder” sites (there are no pop-ups, no surprise partners emailing, etc.), just great deals based on my choices

 


Discounted Flight Alerts from Scott’s Cheap Flights

I also receive regular emails from Scott’s Cheap Flights, which alert me to highly discounted plane tickets (I regularly see $300 overseas flights). I review these emails daily, so that I remain aware of the best prices out there, long before I need to purchase.

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

  • they have a free ALERT email list

  • they have a paid ALERT email list (to receive alerts sooner; this is what I have and I find it so worth it)

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

  • once an alert is sent to me, discounted flights are often noted as good for a particular date range, yet I’ve found those discounted rates are often good for far more dates than the email alert mentions, so I look at as many dates as desired on Google Flights (where the rates are displayed)

  • then I always book my flights directly with the airlines

  • (Scott’s email alerts provide all instructions for this)

  • NOTE: this is not like many of the“fare finder” sites (there are no pop-ups, no surprise partners emailing, etc.), just great deals based on my choices


Visa and Passport Requirements

I’m sure to do the following long before it’s time to travel…

  • I first verify whether I need a visa to enter a country or to stay for the number of days I wish to stay

  • I also verify whether I need to renew my passport, to ensure it has the required number of blank pages and valid months remaining

  • I’m also sure to plot my travel based on how long I can stay in each country…

    • 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)

    • when in Europe, I find it more affordable (and easier) to slowly explore inside the Schengen Zone for 86 days, then leave the Schengen Zone

    • when I leave the Schengen Zone, I find it more affordable (and easier) to slowly explore outside the Schengen Zone (but still fairly close to the Schengen Zone) for 86 days, then head back into the Schengen Zone

    • traveling slowly and locally, one region at a time, helps keep transport costs and efforts down (no expensive flights; less to adapt to)


How to Go Anywhere

When I’m trying to quickly determine the distance between two places and the best form of transportation to take between them, I go to this free transportation site…

  • I enter my desired start and end locations

  • I view all the possible ways of transporting myself

  • I compare the transport times and cost, to choose

The savings can be significant. It’s amazing to see the transport options available between two locations, all in one spot, on this website. We’ll often see bus tickets for about $20 (for two) and train tickets for about $100 (for two), with not enough difference in time to matter. Again, the savings can be significant.


Train Travel Guidance

If I think I might want to travel by train, I first check out this free website. It shares just about every detail of train travel that one can imagine, which then helps me plan the details of our travel plans.

Hands down, I’ve found this site to provide the best train information of all.


Easy Transport To/From London Airports | plus the UK/Europe

When transporting fairly long distances to/from London airports, I’ve found most transportation options expensive or confusing (but this is just me, and I really want this to be easy). In addition, rail disruption has been an issue. But National Express coach has so far seemed the cheapest, quickest, or easiest transportation in those circumstances, 24/7, with no need to worry about bags (they’re included).

TIP:

  • if we take Uber from our lodging to a National Express Coach station that sees less traffic, the National Express rate can be much cheaper

    • for instance, we can easily walk from our London lodging to the London Waterloo station (which sees more traffic) and hop on a National Express bus, yet that ticket price can be much higher (than Ubering to a nearby station, like Victoria, where National Express crowds and rates can be much less)

    • so I find it worth playing with the National Express online booking tool to find the best rate/most affordable station (while keeping Uber prices in mind)

  • some stations do not operate 24/7 and others do, so for our early morning transport needs, I search multiple stations to see all National Express options


Local Transportation that’s Clean and Kind

Normally (when not in London, and if the distance is reasonable), we almost always Uber between our lodging and airports. Here’s why:

  • it’s quick, easy, has always felt safe, I can share my trip electronically so others know where I am, no physical money is required (just my online Uber account), no reservation is required (just my online Uber account), Uber drivers have been so kind, Uber autos have been clean, I can electronically tip those who safely transport us (this is especially important, as I feel a driver should earn more money), it feels like a luxury to have someone take us directly to/from our lodging when we’re exhausted and don’t want to think about a thing (a little gift I think all deserve), we also find Uber much more affordable than Taxi prices, and the money we save walking everywhere else more than makes up for the Uber ride we treated ourselves to

To grow a good Uber relationship, Uber rating, and a meaningful experience

  • I make sure I’m ready to go, waiting at the exact pickup spot, and I stay right there, before I even open the Uber app (helps with mapping accuracy)

  • then I order the Uber and message the driver what I’m wearing (“in overalls”)

  • when the Uber (with the correct license plate) arrives, I open the back passenger door, smile, and kindly ask the driver who they’re there to pick up (“Hi! You’re here to pick up…?”), to double check that all is accurate

  • if they say my name and all looks well, I get in and close the door gently, buckle up, share my gratitude for the ride, (if something went wrong with mapping, and it took them awhile to find me, I apologize for the trouble), try to remain quiet/polite (this is their auto; they need to concentrate on safely getting me somewhere), if they ask questions, I try to kindly and succinctly answer, and I try to not eat/drink in their auto

  • when it’s time to get out, I smile, kindly thank my driver, wish my driver a beautiful day, close the door gently/respectfully, and gratefully wave to my driver as I walk away

It’s amazing how kind respect can grow wonderful connection.


Parking in the UK

If one resides in or will be driving through the UK, this site serves both. One can rent out their own driveway, allocated off-street space, underground parking, or lock-up garage. Drivers can rent those spaces for a day or even months. This can be a great way for parking space owners to earn money (if traveling/not in need of their own parking space), solve parking shortages, and create safer places for visitors to park.


50% Lodging Discounts on Rooms, Apartments and Homes

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% monthly discount). I prefer to rent a cozy little apartment, but one can also rent just a room (for much less), or an entire stand-alone home.

  • If a monthly discount is not listed…

    • I message the owner to ask if monthly discounts are ever offered

    • I let them know that I completely understand if not

    • they have almost always noted a monthly discount

    • this can make monthly lodging more affordable than (or, at worst, equal to) our old local housing prices (I just keep an eye on wise options)

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

  • this allows me to truly settle in to one location

TIP: To determine what an Airbnb rental is truly like…

I first look at photos and location, then I read the reviews left by previous guests. I’ve found that when the same emphatic words are left by many (for instance, many people strongly emphasizing how sparkly clean an Airbnb is), those have been the most accurate reviews (not the star rating, not the ordinary comments). I’m guessing this is because people are worried about sharing honestly for a variety of valid reasons…

  • concerned an Airbnb host will 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, or that some things are out of the host’s control

  • not wanting to hurt the Airbnb host’s feelings

There is no perfection, so I work carefully with this. I also contact Airbnb to share ideas on how they might change their process. For instance, I’d love to see a rating system where if there is an issue, it’s immediately remedied via Airbnb, so a difficulty becomes unnecessary to publicly discuss (because it’s been immediately fixed). Instead, we can honestly describe the facts of the lodging, location, amenities, etc.


Free Lodging while Housesitting

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 opportunities that keep appearing in my inbox. As someone who likes to be on the go and who also appreciates beautiful homes, here are the benefits I can enjoy:

  • the ability to research every detail possible, online, in photos (I want to accept sits that provide plenty of interior and exterior photos, a clean home and pets)

  • simply helping others (I consider this volunteer work)

  • creating new friend/petships (creating loving community)

  • living like a local (cultural immersion)

  • a full kitchen

  • laundry machines

  • free lodging (I would never accept sits that required me to pay any expenses, as I’m not being compensated and I consider this volunteer work)

I’ve learned that the following steps are also necessary to help ensure the sit is mutually beneficial:

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

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

    • review all prior sitter reviews

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

  • getting everything in writing (specific responsibilities, any pet challenges)

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

  • thinking about it before saying yes

  • trusting my gut

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

  • ensure security is provided (in every way they need)

  • be a clean, quiet guest who lovingly cares for their pets

What I learned to NOT say when crossing a border.


Free Lodging while Volunteering Sustainably

This free resource helps travelers find sustainable volunteer opportunities, which can also provide free lodging. I’ve met the founder of Grassroots Volunteering and she is amazing, so I keep this 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.


Free Lodging in Airports

Because I like to use time and money wisely, I often find it easier to sleep for a bit in airports than to find a hotel. (I’d love to see more sleeping pods!) Especially with how long it takes to transport to/from the hotel and how early one must wake to catch the next flight. We also use this time in the airports to acclimate ourselves to any new timezones (forcing ourselves to stay awake, so we’ll sleep on the plane and be ready to wake upon landing). This easily saves $175/night.

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 use this free site to research airports ahead of time, so I know where to not sleep (or sit).


 

Socially Conscious Tours:

If one only has a week or two to travel, it can be a sweet experience to travel with like-minded others. This can gift socially conscious travel experiences and friendships that can last a lifetime. And since it can be hard to find plant-based/vegan travel options, I’m sharing the few tour orgs below that focus on just that. Some of the trips are more affordable and others more expensive, which meet different budgets (and one can also keep an eye out for last-minute deals). But I wanted to share these, what I consider a valuable splurge along the way, as we can more than make up for the expense by following our other travel tips on this page. XO

 

Veg Jaunts and Journeys

  • casual and flexible

  • small groups (6-12 people)

  • lingers in each city/goes off-the-beaten path

 

Vegan Travel Club 

  • boutique tours of Southern Italy (and more)

  • a discerning touch

  • a family business that began thanks to a vegan brother

 

Veg Voyages

  • cultural immersion

  • off-the-beaten-track

  • no living being is exploited

 

Vegan Cruises and Tours

  • the entire cruise is vegan (with vegan chefs)

  • environmentally conscious boats

  • even vegan toiletries are provided

 

Holistic (Vegan) Holiday at Sea

  • annual cruise to nourish body and mind

  • explore beautiful coastlines

  • learn from renowned plant-based physicians/experts

 

World Vegan Travel

  • high-end travel

  • close-knit group

  • hosted by vegan chefs, authors, activists, lecturers or coaches


Best Travel Credit Card Ever

This credit card has been the best travel credit card I’ve found, by far. But I almost didn’t get it because of its annual fee. However, when I calculated the math (which naturally includes no foreign transaction fees), I saw that this card’s reimbursements and benefits immediately pay for the annual fee (and make it possible for me to stop paying others for those same services), making this card’s annual fee a wash, plus I come out ahead with what I receive in additional benefits. Here’s what this card gives me (in addition to the 50,000+ points):

  • $300 in travel charges (flights, lodging, etc.) credited back to my statement each year

  • $100 credited back for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck, every 4 yrs

  • free Priority Pass lounge access for me + guest

  • roadside emergency service (up to four $50 incidents/year)

  • trip delay reimbursement

  • trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance

  • baggage delay insurance

  • lost luggage reimbursement

  • travel accident insurance

  • emergency medical and dental

  • emergency evacuation and transportation

  • exclusive access to events and experiences

  • luxury hotel and resort benefits

  • elite hotel benefits at Relais & Châteaux

  • special car rental privileges

  • auto rental collision damage waiver

  • travel and emergency assistance

  • 3x points on travel and dining

  • 1:1 point transfer

  • 50% more value in travel rewards when booking air, hotel and rental cars through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal using this card, points, or both

    • the hotel rates available via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (some of which are apartments) have been some of the lowest short-term hotel rates I’ve found anywhere

    • so, the few times I do book hotels or short-term apartments, I always first check the Chase Ultimate Reward portal

I charge everything to this card and pay it off monthly. This is, literally, the one card I take everywhere (because not everyone accepts AMEX, Discover, etc.).



International PIN Credit Card

When overseas, there are times that I need to use unmanned/after hours kiosks to make (ferry ticket, subway ticket, train ticket, etc.) purchases. To do this, I need a true PIN credit card that works overseas (a PIN credit card is needed, as a signature credit card can fail in these scenarios, even if I’m given a backup PIN to use with the signature credit card).

I chose this international 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 more easily have an international bank account)

After applying online, here’s how I was able to receive this credit card.



How I Receive Mail (everywhere)

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 an envelope to view online

  • allows me 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 it), then I upload it to my deposit app (take a photo of it on the screen, if need be, or print it then scan it). It’s rare that I ever receive a paper check, but this has always worked for me when I do.


HealthInsurance200.jpg

Health Insurance

Right now, I keep legal residency in a state…

  • I have a mailbox address there

  • I have a driver’s license from there

  • I’m registered to vote there

  • I file taxes there

  • I’ve previously lived in homes there

  • I use a boat there (still spend some time there each year)

So I have health insurance in that state, which covers my…

  • annual checkups in that state

  • preventive care in that state

  • specialist care in that state

  • emergencies in that state

  • plus online Teladoc appointments (for free)

I thought by now I’d already have on international health insurance plan (which would cover me anywhere in the world), but since I’ve just had all my appointments (mentioned above) for the year, since I can access online Teladoc appointments through my current insurance (from anywhere), and since I’ve nearly met my deductible, I’m thinking I’ll keep this insurance plan until the end of the year. At that point, I’ll decide whether to switch to an international health insurance plan, and I’ll share what that is, once I know (the research is deep, the struggle is real).


Travel Insurance

There are two travel insurance policies I’ve relied on:

  • An annual travel insurance policy, which covers shorter trips (most travel insurance policies have trip length stipulations). This has been more affordable than buying separate travel insurance policies for each short trip and means I never have to remember to buy travel insurance for short trips.

  • A trip specific travel insurance policy through World Nomads, which can cover longer trips. World Nomads is more expensive than the annual plan, but World Nomads was needed for trip length and their coverage was much better than my annual plan.

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 (and when I had homeowner’s insurance, I’d check that, too), to not pay for those benefits again (on the travel insurance policy). This saves me money when choosing travel insurance.


Explore Where Our Ancestors Are From

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


Are there community events I can enjoy once I arrive?

Veg Events | Vegan Events | Ethical Animal Sanctuaries | Dalai Lama Events | Thich Nhat Hanh Events