TRAVEL tips:

The travel tips and resources below make it possible for me to travel easily and affordably. I’m sharing these tips because I believe everyone deserves to travel. I’m also sharing these tips because I believe no matter how much or how little money one has, there’s no sense in wasting it. For instance, I’ve listed two links below that regularly alert me to $200 international flights (while booking through airlines, without the need for points or miles). I hope this page helps others who enjoy this kind of solid and affordable travel support, too. XO


Online Mailbox

As soon as I no longer had a home (residential mailbox), I learned that if I had a USPS PO Box, the USPS would automatically sell my name to a loop of endless marketers, then be mandated to deliver all the junk mail those marketers generated. That meant I’d have to pay the USPS to forward all of that junk mail, mixed in with my first class mail. I needed a better solution.

After much research, I was so grateful to find Traveling Mailbox. They allow me to choose the address I desire and they don’t sell my name/address (I’m also careful who I give this new address to, to stay off junk mail lists). They also scan all of the envelopes I receive (which are few, as most of my accounts are paperless) and email me notices when I have mail. I view the envelopes online and decide whether I want the contents scanned, forwarded, shredded, etc. Checks can even be deposited.

TIP: I don’t pay Traveling Mailbox to deposit my checks. Instead, I use the scanned image of my checks to deposit my checks 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)


HealthInsurance200.jpg

Health Insurance

Right now, because I still have legal residency in a state (have a mailbox address there, have a driver’s license there, registered to vote there, file taxes there, previously lived in homes there, use a boat there, and still spend some time there), I have to buy health insurance that will cover me in that state. An affordable option has been to purchase an insurance plan through the government portal (insurance agents have not offered better rates).

I’m extremely pleased with my new AmBetter Coordinated Care plan. They provide…

  • super affordable pricing (50% cheaper premiums)

  • free Teladoc, if desired, which includes…

    • free telephone doctor’s appointments

    • free telephone counseling

    • some national travel coverage

    • etc. (it’s worth checking out)

However, if this health insurance ever becomes more expensive or if I wasn’t able to come to the States, I’d need to find an international health insurance plan to cover me wherever I roam (those rates are very affordable as long as I don't get medical care in the States, but expensive if I need medical care in the States, so it just doesn’t make sense at this time). I’d also consider options such as these:

If you know of a great health insurance plan for travelers that you’d like to share, please do!


Travel Insurance | Why

Right now, I have two travel insurance policies:

  • An annual travel insurance policy through Allianz, which covers all shorter trips (less than 45 days; most people do not realize their travel insurance has coverage limits based on trip length). 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 any trip length (such as more than 45 days). World Nomads is more expensive than the Allianz 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.

If you know of a great travel insurance plan for travelers that you’d like to share, please do!


Verify Visa Requirements

When I’m trying to determine where to travel, I first…

  • go to VisaHQ and look up each country I want to travel to (to see the visa requirements for each country)

  • then I plot out my travel routes based on how long I can stay in each country (without having to apply for a visa)

  • If I can only stay somewhere for 90 days, I think it’s wise to keep it closer to 88, just in case there are travel delays (so I don’t overstay)

This makes planning so much easier for me...and even a bit more fun.


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 Discounted Flight ALERTS

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 Discounted Flight ALERTS

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 monthly discounts. If a monthly discount is not listed for an Airbnb I‘m interested in…

  • 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 offered 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’ve already enjoyed:

  • simply helping another (I consider this volunteer work)

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

  • creating new friend/petships

  • living like a local

  • staying at a beautiful property (important to investigate ahead of time, to ensure it is; if photos of the entire home/estate are provided online, I can view every detail; I would not accept a sit that does not provide this detail)

  • full-sized kitchen

  • personal laundry machines

  • free lodging (no lodging financial costs; I would never accept a sit that required I paid any fees of any kind)

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 Trusted Housesitters)

  • review all prior sitter reviews

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

  • asking 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 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 searched for quite a long time before 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 Text Crisis Support:

  • Text 741741 in the USA

  • Text 686868 in Canada

  • Coming Soon to UK

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...