My Best Tips for World Travel

TRAVEL TIPS

It’s now been 4 years since I sold everything and left the United States to travel the world. These are the best travel tips I’ve discovered along the way.

It all started when I took a one-way flight from Miami to Guatemala City, leaping nervously into the unknown and leaving much of my old life behind while embarking on an epic travel adventure around the world.

It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve learned a lot since I first left. To celebrate my 4 year “travelversary”, I’ve decided to share a collection of my best and most useful travel tips to help inspire you to make travel a priority in your life.

Feel free to share your own best travel tips at the end!

1. Patience Is Important

Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Life is much too short to be angry & annoyed all the time. Did you miss your bus? No worries, there will be another one. ATMs out of money? Great! Take an unplanned road trip over to the next town and explore. Sometimes freakouts happen regardless.

Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it could be worse.

2. Wake Up Early

Rise at sunrise to have the best attractions all to yourself while avoiding crowds. It’s also a magical time for photos due to soft diffused light, and usually easier to interact with locals. Sketchy areas are less dangerous in the morning too. Honest hardworking people wake up early; touts, scammers, and criminals sleep in.

Favorite Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Laugh at Yourself

3. Laugh At Yourself

You will definitely look like a fool many times when traveling to new places. Rather than get embarrassed, laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to screw up, and don’t take life so seriously.

Once a whole bus full of Guatemalans laughed with glee when I forced our driver to stop so I could urgently pee on the side of the road. Returning to the bus and laughing with them gave me new friends for the remainder of the journey.

4. Stash Extra Cash

Cash is king around the world. To cover your ass in an emergency, make sure to stash some in a few different places. I recommend at least a couple hundred dollars worth. If you lose your wallet, your card stops working, or the ATMs run out of money, you’ll be glad you did.

Some of my favorite stash spots include socks, under shoe inserts, a toiletry bag, around the frame of a backpack, even sewn behind a patch on your bag. Oh, and make sure you have a good travel banking system setup too.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Meet Local People

5. Meet Local People

Make it a point to avoid other travelers from time to time and start conversations with local people. Basic English is spoken widely all over the world, so it’s easier to communicate with them than you might think, especially when you combine hand gestures and body language. Learn from those who live in the country you’re visiting.

People enrich your travels more than sights do.

6. Pack A Scarf

I happen to use a shemagh, but sarongs work great too. This simple piece of cotton cloth is one of my most useful travel accessories with many different practical applications. It’s great for sun protection, a makeshift towel, carrying stuff around, an eye mask, and much more.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Observe Daily Life

7. Observe Daily Life

If you really want to get a feel for the pulse of a place, I recommend spending a few hours sitting in a park or on a busy street corner by yourself just watching day to day life happen in front of you.

Slow down your thoughts and pay close attention to the details around you. The smells, the colors, human interactions, and sounds. It’s a kind of meditation — and you’ll see stuff you never noticed before.

8. Back Everything Up

When my laptop computer was stolen in Panama, having most of my important documents and photos backed up saved my ass. Keep both digital and physical copies of your passport, visas, driver’s license, birth certificate, health insurance card, serial numbers, and important phone numbers ready to go in case of an emergency.

Backup your files & photos on an external hard drive as well as online with software like Backblaze.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Take Lots of Photos

9. Take Lots Of Photos

You may only see these places & meet these people once in your lifetime. Remember them forever with plenty of photos. Don’t worry about looking like a “tourist”. Are you traveling to look cool? No one cares. Great photos are the ultimate souvenir.

They don’t cost anything, they’re easy to share with others, and they don’t take up space in your luggage. Just remember once you have your shot to get out from behind the lens and enjoy the view.

10. There’s Always A Way

Nothing is impossible. If you are having trouble going somewhere or doing something, don’t give up. You just haven’t found the best solution or met the right person yet. Don’t listen to those who say it can’t be done.

Perseverance pays off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told what I want isn’t possible, only to prove it wrong later when I don’t listen to the advice and try anyway.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Smile & Say Hello

11. Smile & Say Hello

Having trouble interacting with locals? Do people seem unfriendly? Maybe it’s your body language. One of my best travel tips is to make eye contact and smile as you walk by. If they smile back, say hello in the local language too. This is a fast way to make new friends.

You can’t expect everyone to just walk around with a big stupid grin on their face. That’s your job. Usually all it takes is for you to initiate contact and they’ll open up.

12. Splurge A Bit

I’m a huge fan of budget travel, as it lets you travel longer and actually experience more of the fascinating world we live in rather than waste money on stuff you don’t need. You can travel many places for $30 a day with no problems.

That said, living on a shoestring gets old after a while. It’s nice (and healthy) to go over your budget occasionally. Book a few days at a nice hotel, eat out at a fancy restaurant, or spend a wild night on the town.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Keep an Open Mind

13. Keep An Open Mind

Don’t judge the lifestyles of others if different from your own. Listen to opinions you don’t agree with. It’s arrogant to assume your views are correct and other people are wrong. Practice empathy and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, suggestions and interests. Ask questions. You don’t have to agree, but you may be surprised what you’ll learn.

14. Try Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing.org is a large online community of travelers who share their spare rooms or couches with strangers for free. If you truly want to experience a country and it’s people, staying with a local is the way to go.

There are millions of couchsurfers around the world willing to host you and provide recommendations. It’s fun and safe too. Expensive hotels are not the only option, there are all kinds of cheap travel accommodation optionsout there.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Volunteer Occasionally

15. Volunteer Occasionally

Make it a point to volunteer some of your time for worthwhile projects when traveling. Not only is it a very rewarding experience, but you’ll often learn more about the country and its people while also making new friends.

There’s a great site called Grassroots Volunteering where you can search for highly recommended volunteer opportunities around the world.

16. Pack Ear Plugs

This should actually be #1 on the list. I love my earplugs! Muffle the sounds of crying babies, drunk Australians, barking dogs, honking horns, dormitory sex, natural gas salesmen, and more. A traveler’s best friend. These are my favorite earplugs for comfort & effectiveness.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Don’t Be Afraid

17. Don’t Be Afraid

The world is not nearly as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. Keep an eye out for sketchy situations but don’t let that be the focus of your whole trip. Use common sense and you’ll be ok. Most people are friendly, trustworthy, generous, and willing to help you out.

This goes for women too. I realize I’m not a woman, but I’ve met plenty ofexperienced female travelers who agree.

18. Get Lost On Purpose

If you want to see the parts of town where real people live & work, you need to go visit them. The best way to do this is on foot — without knowing where you’re going. Write down the name of your hotel so you can catch a taxi back if needed, then just pick a direction and start walking.

Don’t worry too much about stumbling into dangerous neighborhoods either, as locals will generally warn you before you get that far.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Eat Local Food

19. Eat Local Food

Think you already know what Mexican food tastes like? You’re probably wrong. Taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is. Ask local people for recommendations. Eat street food from vendors with big lines out front.

I’ve been very sick only twice in my travels. Don’t be scared of the food.

20. Say Yes Often

Be impulsive and say yes when someone randomly invites you to meet their family, try a new activity, or explore a place you didn’t know existed. It’s these unexpected and unplanned situations that add spice to your travels and always turn into the best stories later.

Accept the kindness of strangers when you travel — you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Slow Down

21. Slow Down

Please don’t try to cram 6 countries into 6 weeks of travel. All the good stuff happens when you really take the time to explore. You’ll learn about activities that aren’t in your guidebook and meet people who are eager to show you around.

I can honestly say that NONE of my best travel experiences happened within the first few days of arriving somewhere. Spend more time in fewer places for maximum enjoyment.

22. Keep Good Notes

My memory for details sucks. When I first started traveling the world 4 years ago, I didn’t keep a good journal, and now I’m regretting it.

Information like the names of people I met, conversations I had, feelings about a new experience, or what a particular town smelled like. If you ever want to write about your travels, these details are handy.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

23. Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Challenge yourself to try things that normally give you anxiety. The more you do this, the more that anxiety will fade away. Not a hiker? Go on more hikes. Have trouble talking to strangers? Talk to everyone. Scared of weird food? Eat the weirdest thing you can find.

The reason this works so well while traveling is because everything is already so different, what’s one more new/uncomfortable experience?

24. Don’t Plan Too Much

I cringe when readers ask how many days they should spend in a particular country or city. The truth is I have no idea what you’ll enjoy or who you’ll meet. I thought I’d rocket through Nicaragua in a week or two, but ended up living there for 4 months.

My advice is to pick a starting point, 1 or 2 must-do activities, and an ending point (or not). Then just let the universe determine the rest.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Pack Less Stuff

25. Pack Less Stuff

You don’t need 1/2 the gear you think you do to travel anywhere. We’ve all done it. It’s a right of passage for travelers to slowly become better at packing less. My first backpack was 70 liters packed full, my current bag is only 38 liters.

As a full-time vagabond, everything I own fits on my back. If you’re not sure about packing something, you don’t need it. It’s also possible to buy most things at your destination country if you discover you need them.

26. Listen To Podcasts

Podcasts are awesome. It’s like creating your own personal radio station and filling it with shows and music you always want to listen to. I never thought I’d actually look forward to a 10 hour bus ride. But with podcasts, it’s possible (well, as long as the seats are comfortable).

Time will fly by as you listen to incredible storytelling, fun music, or interviews with experts. Here are some of my favorites: This American Life, The Moth, RISK!, Radiolab, Smart Passive Income, and Electro-Swing.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Treat Your Body Well

27. Treat Your Body Well

Travel can throw your body out of whack. When you’re moving from place to place it’s difficult to maintain a workout routine, and many of us slack off. Or we don’t sleep enough. Or we eat too many cupcakes. I’m guilty of not flossing my teeth.

Remember to be nice to your body. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat healthy, use sunscreen, and exercise often (check out this bodyweight routine, no gym required!). And, yes, flossing too I guess.

28. Stay In Touch

Remember to call your family & friends from time to time. Maybe surprise them and go old-school by sending a postcard (it’s in the mail, Mom!). Travel isn’t lonely, far from it. You constantly meet other people. But many of those relationships are fleeting. So maintaining a strong connection with the people who know you best is important.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Get Off the Beaten Path

29. Get Off The Beaten Path

I know it’s cliché, but you should still attempt it. Seek out interesting and unusual places that don’t see much tourism. Many memorable travel experiences have happened to me in areas that are not easy to visit. By all means travel to popular sites, but don’t rule out other locations just because they’re not on the tourist trail.

Although please realize that just because an area is remote or dangerous doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a life-changing experience.

30. Travel More

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the past 4 years, it’s that many people back home love to tell me how lucky I am while making excuses why they can’t travel. It’s too expensive. They can’t get time off work. Who will feed their pets?

When I suggest solutions to these “problems”, they still don’t take action. Why? Because they’re often hiding behind the true reason: they’re scared.

Unfortunately most people who wait to travel the world never do.

You don’t need to sell all your worldly possessions and become a homeless vagabond like me. Just get out there more than you do now. Start with a weekend in a different state. Then maybe try a week in the country next door.

The new car, remodeling project, and iPhone can wait. If you truly want to travel more, you can make it happen. Career breaks are possible. You have friends who would love to watch your pets.

It’s a big, beautiful, exciting, and fascinating world out there. Explore some of it now, rather than later. ★

 

Via My 30 Best Travel Tips After 4 Years Traveling The World

Read More


Starting a Travel Blog

Travel blogging has taken me around the world over the past 4 years. Want to start your own? This detailed guide will show you exactly how to start a travel blog.

I receive more email asking me how to travel the world or how to start a travel blog than anything else. I know, I get it. Seeing constant photos from my adventures in your Facebook or Instagram feeds makes it look like a dream job. I can’t lie. It is.

After all, I get paid to travel the world! It’s pretty sweet.

But travel blogging isn’t easy. Far from it. I rarely share the huge amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making this lifestyle possible. Well, that’s about to change.

Ok. We’re gonna start with the basics. If you’ve already been blogging for a while, make sure to read my more advanced post about the secrets of professional travel blogging.

How To Start A Travel Blog

Starting your very first travel blog is actually pretty easy. If you follow my guide, you can have your own blog up and running today. Now keep in mind the following advice is for people who want to take travel blogging seriously, as some of these steps require spending money.

If you aren’t quite ready for that yet, you can always start a simple travel blog for family & friends on WordPress.com. It’s totally free!

Starting a Travel Blog

Adventure & Independent Travel

1: Choose A Good Name

My first travel blog was called YearAroundTheWorld.com. Do you see the super obvious problem with that name? Well I didn’t, not until 3 months later. I was backpacking through Central America, blogging about my experiences and having a great time — when I suddenly decided I wanted to travel for longer than a year. Shit! What do I do now?

Make It Short & Memorable

Your travel blog domain name should be relatively short, easy to type, easy to spell, easy to remember, and easy to share. I recommend brainstorming by writing down a bunch of words you think will best describe your blog. Adventure? Food? Culture? South America? What do you want to write about? Who are you? What is your passion? Write everything down and start playing with different combinations of words. Try using a thesaurus. Ask your friends for advice & suggestions.

Avoid Hyphens & Numbers

This can be difficult to do these days, but it helps to avoid using hyphens or numbers in your domain name because otherwise you’ll be forced to explain it to someone. For example:

POTENTIAL READER: “You have a blog? Cool! Where do I find it?”

YOU: “Oh, it’s called expert hyphen vagabond the number 100 dot com.”

As you can see, this type of domain isn’t the greatest for word-of-mouth marketing, which happens to be the best kind of promotion.

Avoid Overused Words

Avoid trademarked company names or words that may be overused in the industry. Sure, you can pick something like Nomadic Bob, Adventurous Wendy, or Wandering Clarence. But domain names like that won’t stand out very much in the travel blogging niche, because those ideas have already been taken by others who are much more established than you.

You’ll have better luck in the long-run with something more original.

Think Long-Term

Think good & hard about choosing your travel blog’s domain name, because changing it later on isn’t easy (or fun). Be careful not to pigeonhole yourself either. If you call your blog Twenty-Something Travel like my friend Steph (sorry Steph!), what happens when you turn 30? Branding yourself correctly is pretty important in the business of travel blogging.

I was thinking long-term when I eventually changed my travel blog’s name toExpertVagabond.com, because at 3 months in I was hardly an expert. Yet I was passionate about becoming a professional travel blogger, and knew eventually this would be perfect. I’d just have to grow into my new name!

2: Hosting For Your Blog

What the heck is hosting? It’s not as confusing as it sounds. Most websites need to “rent” space on the internet. A place to store all your blog’s data, files, and photos so that people around the world can easily access it when they type in your domain name.

Hosting can be pretty cheap. I recommend new travel blogs get hosting withBlueHost. They offer quality hosting for a low price ($6.95 per month for 12 months) and customer service is good too. Plus they give you a free domain name!

Personally, I use WP Engine these days. But it’s not cheap. I pay over $100 a month for my hosting. When you get to a certain level, it’s totally worth it.

But if you are just starting out, BlueHost is a better option.

Part 1 – Click on the green button that says “get started now.”

Hosting a Travel Blog

Getting Started

Part 2 – Pick a plan.

Hosting a Travel Blog

Pick Your Plan

Part 3 – Check to see if your blog name (domain name) is available.

Hosting a Travel Blog

Choose a Domain Name

Part 4 – Add Extra Features

Most of these you don’t need. However I do recommend Domain Privacy Protection. Otherwise anyone can look up who owns your site, giving them access to your mailing address, email, and phone number. It’s worth the extra few bucks to block that from happening.

Hosting a Travel Blog

Installing WordPress

3: Installing WordPress

You’ll want to set up a self-hosted WordPress account. This means the WordPress software resides on your hosting company’s servers, not on a free WordPress.com account. What’s the difference?

  • Your website is “MyTravelBlog.com” rather than “MyTravelBlog.WordPress.com”
  • You own your data and have full control
  • You can sell advertising on your site
  • You can install plugins & custom themes
  • You can use Google Analytics tracking (important)

Yes, you want to use WordPress too. Not Blogspot, not Blogger, not anything else. WordPress is the king of blogging, and probably always will be. Most professionals use WordPress, even major brands like the BBC & Katy Perry. Installing WordPress with your BlueHost Account is super easy.

Click through the simple installation process on your BlueHost cPanel. When it asks you where you’d like to install it, choose your new domain (ex: http://MyTravelBlog.com).

Once installed, you’ll be able to log into the WordPress dashboard with your new username and password. Welcome to the club! You now have a travel blog. That wasn’t too hard, was it? But wait, there’s more!

Starting a Travel Blog

Pick A Good Design

4: Get A Professional Theme

Your new WordPress blog comes with a couple standard “themes”, or designs for your site. While this is ok for playing around in the beginning, if you want to take this seriously and eventually make money with your travel blog, you’ll want to buy a professional design. Don’t worry, they don’t cost too much, and they’ll improve the look of your site big time.

I’ve changed themes a few times over the years, but the current one I’m using is called Hardy by ThemeTrust. I’ve tweaked it a lot using my background in web-design though, customizing how it looks & acts.

Travel Blogging How To

My Travel Blog Plugins

5: Add Some Plugins

You can think of WordPress plugins as third-party apps for your website. They give your blog additional features. Most plugins are free, some you have to pay for. You can download new plugins in the “plugin” section of your WordPress Dashboard.

Here’s my recommended list of plugins to install with your travel blog.

  • Akismet – Protects your blog from spammers leaving comments on your posts. Not perfect, but probably the best one out there.
  • WordPress SEO – Very important plugin for optimizing your articles for Google search, plus integrating Google Sitemaps and Analytics.
  • Easy Social Share Buttons – Nice social media sharing buttons for your articles.
  • WPtouch – Makes your travel blog mobile friendly.

There are others of course, but these will get you started.

Travel Blogging Social Media

Learn How to Use Social Media

6: Embrace Social Media

I hope you love social media. Because if you want to build a successful travel blog, social media addiction is a requirement! Learning how to master social media is a whole different topic, one that I cover a bit more in my post onhow to become a professional travel blogger.

Here are some good social media tips from my friend Jodi too. Try to keep your social media handles the same across all channels! Otherwise people will get confused.

Social Media Accounts

Starting a Travel Blog

Travel Blog Success

7: Join Travel Blog Success

Like anything in life, if you want to get good at something, investing time & money to be trained by professionals works wonders. The same is true for travel blogging. When people ask me for travel blogging tips, my first recommendation is to join Travel Blog Success.

You can read my full review here.

Why? Because becoming a professional travel blogger, as in someone who makes money with this, is far more difficult than it looks.

You need to learn how to build an audience. You need to learn how to use social media. You need to learn how to market yourself. You need to learn how to work with brands. You need to learn how to implement SEO. You need to know all kinds of stuff that you probably don’t know anything about.

Starting a Travel Blog

Just a Typical Day in the TBS Community!

Learn From The Best

Can you learn everything on your own? Sure. But let me tell you from personal experience, it takes a long, long time. As in years. With plenty of frustrations & wasted effort along the way. Fortunately there is a shortcut…

Learning exactly what works, and what doesn’t, from professional travel bloggers who are making it work, is HUGELY helpful.

I can’t explain SEO to you in an email. Fortunately there is a whole lesson dedicated to mastering SEO (and many other topics) on Travel Blog Success. Plus a very active & helpful community FB page where all the top travel bloggers chime in with answers to your questions each and every week.

If you want to become a pro, this is the best investment ever.

Travel Blogging

Travel Blogging Work Break in the Philippines

8: Start Blogging!

Now it’s time to begin creating content for your travel blog. When you first start out, I recommend publishing new articles at least 3 times per week. But don’t be sloppy about it, take your time and craft excellent blog posts that have impact.

What should you write about? Stuff you (and others) are interested in!

Are you traveling right now? Share your favorite parts of the country, fun things to do there, crazy travel stories, beautiful photo essays, video tours, food recommendations, and more. Write about many different topics to find your personal blogging style & voice, to see what resonates with others.

Are you still planning your travels? You can write about that too. Share the different ways you are saving money for travel, a bucket list of activities you want to try, or write about places you’ve already visited. Share your favorite travel movies & books. Write about your packing list. Go exploring locally. Create useful & entertaining content. The possibilities are endless.

Read other travel blogs, leave thoughtful comments on their articles, and link to other blog posts from your site where appropriate. At first your only readers will be family and friends. But that’s ok! We all started like that.

It takes time to build an audience.

Travel blogging isn’t as easy as it looks, and you shouldn’t expect to see any large benefits from it for at least a year, probably longer. That’s one full year of blogging on a regular basis, paying for everything yourself, and putting in at least 10 hours a week (most professional bloggers work 30+). Yes it’s a dream job, but it’s still a job that requires hard work.

Read More


Caminito del Rey Spain

The Caminito del Rey in El Chorro

Balancing precariously on a rusty steel beam, I slowly inch across trying not to glance down at the treacherous river hundreds of feet below me. The Caminito del Rey is not your typical hike.

I’d traveled to this remote corner of Andalucia in the South of Spain to hike the Caminito del Rey. This path is famous around the world with rock climbers and adrenaline junkies due to its shocking state of disrepair. Just looking up at the hazardous path full of holes and missing sections sent a shiver of fear down my spine.

Barely clinging to the vertical canyon walls it’s attached to — ready to crumble at any moment.

Known as Spain’s most dangerous path, or the most dangerous walkway in the world, the Caminito del Rey (The King’s Little Pathway) is over 100 years old and 100 meters (350 feet) high. The perilous concrete trail winds through steep limestone cliffs near the small village of El Chorro and into a hidden valley.

Would I really go through with this risky journey? By myself? I was starting to have second thoughts…

Caminito del Rey Walkway

The King of Spain Once Walked this Path

Caminito del Rey Walkway Spain

Scary Holes Reveal the Guadalhorce River Below

Caminito del Rey Spain

Ancient Catwalk Used for Hydroelectric Dam Access

Caminito del Rey Hike Spain

Whatever You Do, Don’t Look Down!

Caminito del Rey Hike Spain

Out for an Afternoon Stroll in the Mountains of Spain

Hiking The Caminito Del Rey

Walking the entire length of the 3 kilometer Caminito (sometimes called the Camino del Rey) has become an exclusive adventure sport for people crazy enough to attempt it. There are numerous sections where the concrete has collapsed, creating large open air gaps that are bridged by very narrow steel beams, themselves often rotting away.

A via ferrata cable runs the length of the path though, allowing hikers to clip in with a harness. You need to bring your own gear or rent one from a climbing shop. Or you can make your own Swiss Seat (like I did) with some webbing, climbing rope, and a few carabiners!

However the integrity of the safety cable running the length of the path is unknown, as it’s not officially maintained by anyone. So you must rely on it at your own risk.

Armed with my trusty Luna Sandals made for trail running, and a backpack loaded with gear, I spent 4 days hiking the walkway over 8 times. Filming video with my GoPro camera along the way.

Caminito del Rey Spain

Some Sections Don’t Even Have Metal Beams to Cross

 

Caminito del Ray Pathway

The Path is 350 Feet High in Some Places

 

Caminito del Rey Spain

Balancing on a Precarious Steel Beam

Caminito del Rey Spain

Would You Dare to Cross This Broken Section?

Dangerous & Beautiful

On the hike itself, wind whips through the narrow canyon, testing my nerves as I carefully place one foot in front of the other. Hoping my next step isn’t my last. I’m not the only one attempting to conquer my fears though, there are other adventurous hikers up here flirting with death.

Sometimes we must pass each other, which can be complicated on a 1 meter wide path full of holes. In many places the entire path has completely fallen away, leaving just a three inch wide steel beam to balance on. Other sections don’t even have beams — forcing you to cling to the face of the rock.

The Caminito del Rey is made up of two different sections. They each traverse a narrow area of the Gaitanes Gorge, with a stunning hidden valley located between them. “The Valley of the Orange” is completely surrounded by mountains, with orange trees growing near the Guadalhorce river as it flows through the middle. There’s even an old ruined house at the bottom.

Less hikers attempt (or know about) the second part of the walkway. Much of it has no safety line, save for a few very sketchy sections that require some rock climbing skills to pass. After about 3 hours I finished this wild adventure at the far end of the valley. Luckily in one piece.

Caminito del Rey Spain

A Formidable Walkway Attached to Steep Cliffs

Dangerous Walkway in Spain

Much of the Caminito del Rey is Falling Apart

 

Large Sections of the Path are Missing

Large Sections of the Path are Missing

 

Caminito del Rey Hydroelectric Dam

Old Hydroelectric Controls

Caminito del Rey Spain

Sharing the Via Ferrata Line with a Snail

History Of The Path

The walkway was completed in 1905 after 4 years of construction so workers could move materials back and forth between the two hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls on either end of the canyon. A water canal also weaves its way through tunnels in the mountains.

The suspended catwalk allowed easy access to this canal for inspections and maintenance work, controlling the flow of water when necessary using a series of steel doors lowered into the canal with gears.

Spanish King Alfonso XIII inaugurated the pathway in 1921, which is why it’s now called “The King’s Little Pathway”. The King himself walked the length of it to marvel at the beautiful & scenic landscape.

Deaths On The Caminito

There have been at least 5 deaths on the Caminito del Rey, the most recent few occurring in 2000, and many more accidents over the years. The path hasn’t been maintained since the 1920’s — rust eats away at many of the metal support beams.

Large gaping holes in the concrete are common. Sometimes whole sections of the treacherous walkway are completely missing, after they’ve crashed down to the bottom of the canyon 100 meters (350 feet) below. If you’re afraid of heights, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

Caminito del Rey Deaths

Memorial To Three People Who Died In 2000

Caminito del Rey Danger

100 Year Old Rusty Iron Supports Don’t Inspire Confidence

 

Caminito del Rey Climbing

Some Rock Climbing is Occasionally Necessary

 

Valley of the Orange Spain

Old Ruined House in the Valley

Caminito del Rey Spain

A Magnificent View of the Gorge

Restoration Plans For 2015

Work has begun on a €3.12 million restoration program that will transform the entire walkway into a much safer route, opening up the path to more people and regular tourism. The aging concrete will be replaced with wooden slats and glass panels with a handrail.

King Alfonso XIII’s great-grandson, Prince Felipe, has been asked to open the new camino when work is complete on March 28th 2015.

While more people will get to enjoy the views of this magnificent canyon, sadly the adventurous spirit of the Camino will be forever changed once it’s all fixed up. I’m very lucky I was able to hike it when I did!

Hiking the Caminito del Rey ranks right up there with camping on an erupting volcano and cageless scuba diving with bull sharks as one of the craziest adventure travel experiences I’ve ever had. ★

Via Caminito Del Rey: Spain’s Most Dangerous Hike

 

Read More


Trying to pick a place to explore for the very first time as a solo traveler can be daunting to say the least, especially if you are a woman.

The world tells us to be afraid and to be hesitant about traveling alone overseas; even now after 8 years of solo travel, people still question me when I talk about my ventures around the world, and even more so when I mention that I travel alone.

It’s hard not to be discouraged when you are faced with such negativity about your travels, especially when starting out. But if you are considering traveling solo for the first time, here are some relatively easy and safe destinations for women that are great starting spots to begin.

1. Iceland

Iceland - a great destination for solo travel

Iceland has definitely become a hit place to visit, now with cheap and frequent flights both from Europe and North America – you can even do a free week-long stopover with Icelandair between the two continents to make the most of a trip overseas.

Iceland with a population of just 300,000 people on a good day, it makes sense that it has a small-town vibe nationwide. Iceland is probably one of the safest countries I’ve traveled to over the years and I felt totally comfortable there on my own.

Between its location, ease and accessibility, culture and safety record, Iceland is the perfect place for first time solo travelers, especially women.

2. Peru

Peru - a great destination for solo female travelers

While Peru might not initially strike you as a great destination for solo female travelers, I’ve found the opposite to be the case.

I’ve included it on the list because I wanted to cover most continents and Peru is such a popular tourist destination. This means it has a moderately solid tourism infrastructure, at least for South America.

If you travel here alone, for the most part you likely won’t be alone, there will be a lot of backpackers and other travelers in similar situations.

I found that I didn’t have any problems there traveling for 2 weeks a few years ago, and I found it incredibly helpful that there was an established tourism industry in Peru, making the logistics and planning less of a hassle.

3. New Zealand

New Zealand - a great destination for solo female travel

One of the main reasons I decided to base myself in New Zealand is because it is such a welcoming and open destination for solo female travelers like me.

Seriously, I don’t think there is a safer or easier country to travel to – New Zealand is perfect for first time solo travelers. It’s very easy to travel around whether by bus, car, planes or even hitchhiking, which is still a very common practice here.

The people are incredibly friendly and helpful if you have any problems or get into trouble and because there are only 4 million people nationwide, it very much has a small-town vibe like Iceland – everyone knows each other.

4. Thailand

Thailand - a great destination for solo female travel

Southeast Asia is a great place for solo travelers. It’s a major backpacker hub and it’s a very easy place to travel around.

It has quite the reputation for first time travelers, especially because it’s so cheap and your money can last a lot longer there – because of that though it’s often caters towards younger backpackers on a budget, though I’ve found that you can have a very good boutique or even luxury trip for an affordable price.

Thailand has a very established tourism industry as well and if you’re looking for a good place to start traveling for the first time alone in Asia, it’s ideal.

5. South Africa

South Africa - a great destination for solo female travel

Africa doesn’t always have the best reputation for solo female travelers, or even solo travelers in general, but I’ve found that to not be the case at all.

I recently spent a few weeks in South Africa and had the most amazing time. Cities like Cape Town are very hip and fun, and I found them to be accessible and easy for solo travelers.

There are a few things you have to be more cautious and wary about in South Africa, like not walking alone at night and avoiding bad neighborhoods, but the same can be said for many urban centers around the world.

If you are looking to visit Africa as your first solo destination, South Africa is a great place to start.

Via 5 DESTINATIONS FOR FIRST TIME SOLO FEMALE TRAVELERS

Read More


driving across the us roadtrip

The great American road trip is a rite of passage in the States. We Americans have a unique fascination with the open road. It’s built into our cultural DNA. In Jazz Age America, the car was a symbol of freedom – a chance to escape your small town and the watchful eyes of parents. As the highway system was developed in the 1950s, a wave of kids set out on the road to explore the country, giving new life to America’s car and road trip culture. Today, many still dream of getting in a car and driving into wide open spaces for months on end.And I got to do just that — for four and a half months and 13,000 miles, I traveled to all corners of this country.In diversity and scale, the United States is magnificent.

But this isn’t a post about fawning over the U.S. (this post is). This is about how you can travel around the U.S. on a budget because, as it turns out, this country is incredibly easy to travel on the cheap.

After 116 days on the road, I spent $6,262.67, or $53.98 per day. While that is slightly higher than $50 a day, there were many parts of my budget I splurged on (see analysis below). Here is how the numbers break down:

Accommodations: $1,036.36
Food: $3,258.23
Drinks: $438.94
Gas: $696.98
Parking: $253.00
Starbucks: $75.26
Miscellaneous (movies, toothpaste, shampoo, conferences, etc.): $170.00
Attractions: $269.40
Taxis: $41.00
Bus: $17.50
Subway: $6.00

A couple of things hurt my budget. My Starbucks addiction* was unnecessary and added to my costs. Moreover, as a lover of sushi, trying various restaurants throughout my road trip drastically raised my food costs. Sushi, after all, is not cheap. In general, I ate as if I wasn’t on a budget and rarely cooked, which is why my food expenses were so high relative to everything else. I would have definitely gone below $50 if I bothered to cook more often.

But while I splurged in some places, three other things really helped me to keep expenses down: First, gas prices were low, averaging around $2.35 a gallon over the duration of my trip. Second, once you leave the big cities, prices for everything drop by nearly half. Third, I Couchsurfed and used hotel points often to keep accommodation costs down.

Overall, while I could have done better, I didn’t do too bad and am happy with how much I spent.

How to Save Money on Your Trip

yellowstone national park
There are numerous ways to travel around the US on a budget. Whether you want to do it cheaper than I did or splurge a bit more, there are always ways to cut your expenses and focus your spending on what matters most to you.

Accommodations

This will be your biggest fixed cost, and lowering it will do the most to lower your overall expenses. Luckily, you have plenty of options:

CouchsurfingCouchsurfing is a service that allows you to stay for free with locals. Using this website or similar ones is the best way to lower accommodation costs, as you can’t get cheaper than free. More than that, it’s a wonderful way to meet locals and find off-the-beaten-track stuff to do in the area you’re visiting. The site is a double win: you meet cool people and save money at the same time! I Couchsurfed in Richmond, Napa, Reno, Phoenix, and a few other cities. There are so many hosts across the United States, you’ll rarely find problems finding someone to put you up.

Airbnb — A more comfortable alternative to the cheap hotels listed above, Airbnb is a service that lets you stay in people’s homes and apartments. It’s far cozier than any hotel! You can find a lot of single rooms as well as shared spaces for $30–40 per night. I used this option a lot on my road trip. The prices are affordable, you’re staying in a nice house, you have access to a kitchen, and you get to meet cool people. Note: If you use this link, you can get $25 off your first stay.

Cheap hotels — When you can’t find a Couchsurf or Airbnb to use at the last minute, there is a plethora of cheap roadside hotels such as Motel 6 and Super 8 to the rescue. Rooms start around $40 a night, but including tax, they work out to be $60 on average. Rooms are basic and always look well worn. You’ll get a bed, bathroom, TV, tiny closet, and maybe a desk. They are nothing to write home about, but for a quiet place to sleep, they do the trick. Tip:Even if you’re traveling with someone, always say the room is for one person, as these hotels charge you more for two people.

Hotel points — Be sure to sign up for hotel credit cards before you go and use those points when you travel. You can get upwards of 70,000 points as a sign-up bonus, which can translate into a week’s worth of accommodations. The points came in handy in places where I couldn’t find an Airbnb or Couchsurfing host. Be aware that most hotels charge parking fees if you have a car, and adjust your budget accordingly.

Hostels — There aren’t many hostels in the United States, and most of them are overpriced. A dorm room typically costs around $30 a night. You can obtain a similar private room on Airbnb at that price, and if you are traveling with others, it’s often more economical to get a budget hotel than a bunch of dorm beds. However, if you are traveling solo and want to meet others, the social benefits may outweigh the price. Some hostels I loved: Sweat Peas (Asheville, NC),South Beach Hostel (Miami), India House (New Orleans), Jazz Hostels (NYC), International House (San Diego), and The Green Tortoise (San Francisco and Seattle).

Camping — Around all the national parks are inexpensive campsites, so if you have a camper or gear, my recommendation is to camp when visiting the parks. Campsites are between $10-30 per night. Additionally, you can find a TON of RV parks and campgrounds around the country via the company KOA for $20–30 per night. Moreover, check out the sharing economy website, Camp in My Garden, where you can camp in people’s backyards for a small fee.

My recommendations for keeping prices down: Try to Couchsurf as often as possible, use Airbnb or hotel points in major cities, stay in hostels when you want a good social scene, and camp at the national parks.

Food

Cook your own meals and avoid expensive meals and restaurants as much as possible. If you are looking to find cheap food, use Yelp!, ask people on websites like Couchsurfing, or inquire at the desks at hostels. Avoid Whole Foods. Avoid trying to eat sushi like me everywhere! Don’t feed your Starbucks addiction and cook often. Food in the United States is very affordable and there’s no travel hacking ninja techniques to help here. Cook, save, be happy.

Sightseeing

hanging out in redwood national park
There are three ways to lower your sightseeing costs:

A National Parks pass — For $80, you can purchase an annual National Parks pass that provides access to all 59 national parks (as well as any other recreation areas administered by the National Park Service). At $15–20 a visit, seeing five during your trip makes the pass a money saver. The U.S. national park system is amazing, and you can’t trek across the country without stopping at many of them, especially when you get out west. Though there are a lot of options, I highly recommend Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Glacier, Redwood National Park, Zion, and the Grand Tetons.

City tourism cards — City tourism cards allow you to see a large number of attractions (and often include free public transportation) for one low price, usually $30–40. They provide free access to museums, reduced access to attractions, and restaurant discounts. Be sure to look into them if you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, as they generally will save you money. They can be purchased at tourism information centers or online before you go.

Free museums and events — Inquire at tourism centers, use Google, or ask hotel or hostel staff for information about free events and museums. Many museums offer occasional free or discounted admission throughout the week.

Transportation

Getting from point A to B in the U.S. isn’t always easy, as our infrastructure isn’t that robust. Sadly, to really see the country, a car is a must. We have few non-car options outside the major cities, and besides organized tours, it’s hard to get around the countryside and to the national parks.

Hitchhike — This isn’t something I did on my trip, as I had a car, but it’s very doable (and relatively safe). Here’s a post by my friend Matt who hitchhiked across the United States.

Rideshare — Taking on riders can be a way to lower your costs. On my first trip across the U.S., I offered rides to people I met in hostels. On this trip, I had friends and readers join me along the way. You can post ads on Craigslist and Gumtree and at hostels to find riders. This not only makes the trip more enjoyable but lowers your gas costs. Or if you are a rider, you can use the same services to find rides to get you places.

Get a car — You can buy cheap used cars from car dealers or owners on Craigslist. There are lots of listings, and you can resell the car at the end of your trip to recoup some of your initial purchase cost. While this is easy in other countries, it’s hard to do in the United States, so remember a couple of key points:

  1. You’ll need a U.S. address for registration documents to get sent to. I would use a hostel or hotel address and then set up a forwarding address with the Post Office.
  2. You’ll have to buy car insurance, which can greatly add to the costs of your trip.

Another option is to use a car relocation service. This is when you take someone’s car and drive it across the country. You are usually paid, and gas is covered. The downside is you don’t often have a lot of leeway on timing, so you might not have much time to stop and sightsee along the way. Car relocation options are also usually limited. Two companies worth checking out are Transfercar and Hit the Road.

Some miscellaneous things

  1. The highways are filled with junk food restaurants. I’m not proud to say I ate at Subway a lot on my trip. Stock up on sandwiches at grocery stores to avoid having to choose between Taco Bell, McDonald’s, and Subway.
  2. Parking costs add up. I didn’t really find a super awesome way to lower parking costs when I was in major cities overnight, but if you have suggestions, leave them in the comments.
  3. Take a metal water bottle to refill along the way. Plastic water bottles add up!

A road trip across the United States is a fun way to see a lot of diverse landscapes, experience different cultures, and meet interesting people. The United States isn’t very expensive outside the big cities and you can easily travel extensively throughout the country on a budget.

*Note: I actually don’t drink coffee. I’m just hooked on their iced green tea lemonade!

Via How to Travel Across the United States on $50 a Day

 

Read More