Travel Tips From An Entry-Level Gypsy
I've received a lot of emails from readers with practical questions about my travels...so I thought I'd create a place to share what I've learned so far! The following are the most commonly asked questions, along with a few topics I think an aspiring world traveler might find helpful. Enjoy!
What sites do you use to book flights?
My favorite site and app on the market is SkyScanner. It's like Kayak, but features mostly discount overseas airlines. It also has an awesome feature where you can choose "Anywhere" as your destination to see where you can fly for the least amount of money.
What sites do you use for lodging?
I prefer staying in people's apartments verses hotels, so I love Airbnb. But sometimes my budget doesn't allow for renting an apartment, that's when I use Hostelworld and Couchsurfing. I recently found out about a start-up site called "Tripping." It searches 18 rental sites, including several I use frequently, like Booking.com, Roomorama and HomeAway.
Are hostels and couchsurfing safe?
Yes...Mostly. I mean, sure, I've had issues with both, but they haven't dissuaded me from continuing to use them. Being from America, I had a lot of misconceptions about Hostels. Picturing only what I'd seen in horror movies. They're actually a really great and affordable way to travel the world. Read the reviews, bring earplugs and keep your valuables locked up at all times. When it comes to CouchSurfing... it's all about the reviews and email interaction. Get to know your host by asking questions. Ask them about their expectations and tell them yours so you know exactly what you're getting when you arrive.
How do you fit all those dresses in that bag?!?!?
This question always makes me laugh. Yes. I DO have a lot of dresses with me, but that's just what I prefer to wear. You can pack whatever you want for your world trip. If I was a jeans and T-Shirt kind of girl, that's what I would have packed. I use Eagle Creek compression bags for all of my clothes. Everything has its own zipper bag and then those fit nicely into my big pack. That way I can choose what to open when I unpack without making a huge mess in someone's living room.
How did you save enough money for your trip?
Between medical expenses and the high cost of living in Los Angeles, it was tough to save money. We all have a certain quality of life we're accustomed to but you have to be willing to go without to get what you want. I didn't go out to dinner or drinks for almost 6 months. I shopped at the 99 cent store, even for food. I mapped out my route before I left the house so I never wasted gas doubling back while running errands. I rented out my apartment on Airbnb every chance I got and sold everything I owned. Even my Mustang.
If you have any questions that aren't answered here, please feel free to send me a message and I'll try and get back to you as soon as I can...or when good wifi permits.