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Travel Resources

Reasons You Should Travel Alone At Least Once

Reasons to travel solo at least once

While traveling with friends, a partner, or family, can be fun. There are plenty of reasons people, especially women, are traveling alone. Travel can not only be easier and more satisfying but can also help you grow as a person. Keep reading to see my reasons to travel solo. 

1. Scheduling is easier

It can be challenging to coordinate a trip someone else. Both of you have to schedule vacation time and look at and book flights together. Not to mention when it boils down to actually booking, some friends get flaky and back out. If you travel solo though you never have that problem. You can schedule your vacation time and book flights whenever you want! 

2. You don't have to compromise

When traveling with a partner, there’s always the possibility that disagreements can arise over what to do/where to eat/how to get somewhere. Guess what? When you travel solo you get to do what to want, when you want without having to compromise your experience. 

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3. Your new best friend could be you.

Being alone can also be extremely healthy. Traveling alone can help you build a relationship with yourself. Have some quality ME time.While traveling you have time to reflect on yourself. you just may find out you’re pretty cool.  If you rarely spend significant time alone, you may be surprised at how enjoyable it can be. 

4. Leaving your comfort zone is good for you.

Traveling solo pushes you out of your comfort zone and that’s a good thing. It makes brave and adaptable to change. You’ll learn how to handle tough situations yourself. You just may surprise yourself by how capable you are.

5. You force yourself to meet new people

Traveling alone can be a wonderful way to meet locals and make new friends. There are often many people traveling alone in hostels and many are open to chatting. When you travel alone you are taking responsibility to be the one to put yourself out there to meet people. Check out these tips for making friends in a hostel. The key is to keep an open mind while keeping safety in mind. Check out these safety tips for solo female travelers.

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6. It’s not as scary as you think.

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Chances are, your destination is no more dangerous than your hometown. Keep up to date on travel alerts and be sure to do your research and you should be fine. Want some safety tips? Check out this list.

7. It’s empowering

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“As you travel solo, being totally responsible for yourself, it’s inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are…” – unknown

You are totally responsible for yourself when you are traveling. That can be scary but once you take the plunge and get over your fears, you’ll feel a sense of empowerment. A successful solo trip can even inspire you to take on, even more, things in your everyday life you’ve been afraid to try.

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A Quick Guide to Amsterdam

I fell in love with Amsterdam as soon as I stepped out of Centraal Station. The city is picture perfect all around. The beautiful, and sometimes crooked, brick houses and canals are incredibly charming. Amsterdam is not just instagrammable though, it’s also a really cool place to explore. The thing that I thought was really cool about Amsterdam was that there were all kinds of tourists, all there for many different reasons. Amsterdam has raunchy attractions for the more rambunctious traveler like the Red Light District, Head shops, and Cannabis Coffee Shops but also has incredible museums like the Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum.

Amsterdam combines the beauty of its 17th-century architecture with plenty of best museums and art galleries in the world. Dutch culture is also incredibly laidback, making Amsterdam one of the most offbeat and appealing cities in the world. 

Things to do.

things to do in amsterdam

This biographical museum is dedicated to telling the story of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl growing up in Amsterdam during WWII and fell victim to the Holocaust. The museum is housed in the townhome where Anne and her family hid during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Anne recorded her experience in her now publicized and widely read the diary, The Diary of Anne Frank. I suggest buying your tickets well in advance, like two months in advance, online. You will have to book a particular time to visit the museum.

As per the name, this museum is dedicated to the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh, a well-known Dutch artist. Here you can view his most famous works like; SunflowersAlmond Blossoms, and The Bedroom.

If you want to really learn about art and history in the Netherlands pay a visit to Rijksmuseum. Considered one of the best museums in the world, this is sure to be something you put on your list.

Biking.

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A common phrase I heard thrown around is that there are more bikes in the Netherlands than there are people. I say when in Amsterdam, do as the locals do. Rent a bike and explore the city. Just watch out, many locals do not have patience for amateur bikers clogging the streets.

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Just a short day trip from Amsterdam, Keukenhof Gardens attracts millions of people when its tulips are in bloom. The best time to see the tulips is in April-May. 

Red Light District.

The Red Light district possesses some of the city’s most rambunctious nightlife. It is home to a legal and regulated prostitution industry and a variety of sex shows, sex, and head shops. The streets are lined with glowing red windows indicating where an available sex worker is. In the evening, locals and tourists alike roam the streets, all visiting the Red Light district for different reasons. Some are looking for a good club to grab a drink, some are on their way to smoke at a local coffee shop, and others are there, for whatever reason, to take a peek at the ladies in the windows. The sex workers in the Red Light district act as their own boss. They pay rent for space where they conduct their business and set their own prices and standards for customers. The legalization of prostitution in the Red Light is one of the ways the Dutch are attempting to deter human trafficking in Europe.

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Canals.

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A system of gorgeous canals span the entire city of Amsterdam. There are plenty of canal tours throughout the city. I personally recommend an open top classic boat.

Cannabis Coffee Shops.

Legal marijuana is a huge industry in the Netherlands. Marijuana is sold only in licensed coffee shops. The coffee shops are easy to find despite there being a law against advertising in the shop windows. The shops typically have several strain options and the choice to buy by the gram or as a pre-rolled joint (pure or with tobacco). The vibe in many of these shops is very relaxed, for obvious reasons and many have snacks to help with your munchies.

Jolly Joker Amsterdam
Jolly Joker Coffee Shop Amsterdam

When to go.

Because of the tulips fields, I recommend visiting in April-May while the flowers are in bloom. The weather is best in the summer months but can be crowded. Even if you go in May-June, still expect some chilly days.

Where to stay.

As always I recommend getting a hostel when traveling solo. Hostel prices can vary depending on the time of year. I found most were about $35-50 a night.

Book your stay now with Booking.com

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Amsterdam Travel Guide

How to Kill Time During a Layover

How to kill time during a layover

So, you’re on your way to your dream destination and you’ve made it to the connecting airport. But now you’re stuck with four or five hours to kill until you board your next flight. Luckily I have some advice for how to kill time during a layover. Let’s bet airport boredom!

Explore the airport. Find a directory.

First things first, you need to be familiar with where you will be spending the next few hours. Find one of those airport directories and find something that interests you. You’re going to be at the airport for a while, so might as well see what it has to offer. Are there any cool stores you can check out? Any good food or drink options? Can you move between terminals to access different shops? You may be surprised by what you find. 

Freshen up.

Take advantage of the time you have freshen up. Splash some water on your face, reapply makeup, even brush your teeth. Sometimes I even change clothes if i want to look nice when arriving to my final destination. Taking the time to do this can help you feel refreshed and ready to go. 

People watch.

Airports are filled with people from all walks of life, going to different places, speaking different languages. Every person has a story and trying imagining what that story is can be the best form of entertainment. Don’t be rude and stare but it’s is ok to glance around and take in your surroundings. Who knows, maybe you’ll spot a celebrity! I once stood in line at security near Gigi Hadid.

Take a nap.

It can be hard to find a comfortable place to sleep in some airports but it can be done. Get creative. use your luggage to prop up your feet or your head. You can even try walking around to see if you can find a more comfortable gate to wait in. Not every gate has the same lounge area. When I had a connecting flight in Munich, I abandoned my flight gate to go relax at one a few gates down because that gate had reclining chairs. 

Exercise.

Feeling your muscles atrophy from your last flight? Do some exercise. Work your legs! I personally pop my head phones in and power walk while lip-syncing my favorite tunes. some airports even have fitness centers in them with day passes available for the public. 

Eat.

Most airports have restaurants, convenience stores or bars in them. I find food on the ground much more appetizing than eating an in-flight meal. Most airports have food courts with hosts of meal options. Airport food can get expensive though so, I always try to pack some snacks in my carry-on. 

Surf the web.

Check and see if the airport you’re at has free Wi-Fi or; if a store, restaurant, or airline has a Wi-Fi public network in the airport. Use your layover to update your blog, check in with family or friends, or even check up on things to at your final destination.

Check out this list of Wi-Fi passwords for airports around the world.

Read or journal.

Many travelers like to download books to their phones, iPads, or e-readers to kill time while in transit. If you prefer a real book there are plenty of bookstores in airports. Buy a book or simply browse and read a couple select pages of a book every so often. 

If you aren’t into reading, try writing. Use this time to journal your feelings about your trip. Pick up a blank journal from one of the many bookstores if you don’t already have one. Keeping a journal is very therapeutic and can help calm you nerves if your anxious about your upcoming travels.

Got any more tips for killing time? Share them in the comments below...

How to Kill time during a layover

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10 Safety Tips from a Female Solo Backpacker

10 Safety Tips from a Solo Female Backpacker.

Concerns about my safety are always common from friends, family, and even myself before leaving for any solo trip. Safety concerns are one of the many reasons some woman avoid traveling alone. Remember though, just because something can happen to you, doesn’t mean it will, especially if you use the following safety tips. 

Research. Research. Research.

Once I have an idea of where I want to go, I research practically 24/7, trying to find interesting things to do, toying with flight deals. While over-researching may seem like a waste of time for some who just want to pick up and go, I find it relaxing. It eases my fears about traveling in a new place. I believe the better prepared I am, the better can handle a bad situation. Moreover, it can keep you safe.

Some important questions you should be googling about your destination: What are the best neighborhoods and the ones you should avoid?  Is there a hospital near my lodging, just in case? How are the reviews for my lodging? How will I travel once there? What the public transportation? Do I need to have vaccinations before leaving?

Being prepared is step one to safety while abroad. The better prepared you are the better equipped you can be to handle unexpected situations.

Be Confident.

Confidence can be a subtle weapon. Theoretically, people are more likely to try to take advantage of someone who appears vulnerable. Holding your head high and carrying yourself as if you are comfortable and aware of your surroundings can be a deterrent for unwanted interactions. Even if you may not feel confident, fake it until you make it. Solo travel has the ability to boost your confidence, so let it.  

Be rude when you have to be.

Be comfortable saying no or turning down an invitation if you are getting a bad vibe. Even, if you think you are being rude.  Don’t feel like you have any social obligation to put up with an uncomfortable situation. I know I can’t be the only one who has gone along too long with a situation because I wanted to avoid conflict. Your safety always trumps politeness. Are you in an uncomfortable situation and unsure of how to leave without being rude? My advice is to be rude and put yourself first if your gut is telling you something is off. 

Use your common sense.

Aside from being in a different place and not being in your typical routine, traveling isn’t any more different than your everyday life. You are able to get by in your own city you’ll get by fine in another. Stick to the basics like; don’t go down a dark alley at night, don’t accept a ride from a stranger, etc. You don’t always have to have your guard all the way up but do use your basic common sense to guide you.

Be Comfortable saying NO.

There are countless scams that target tourists all over the world. Whenever I was around a popular attraction, while in Europe, it seemed like there was an increased number of people asking for money, wanting me to donate to something, or stopping me, to read my fortune; before asking for payment. If you don’t want to interact with someone or stop to give money, you have to be comfortable saying no. Now, believe me, I’m all for helping people in need but it’s not feasible to stop and give money or converse with every individual that I come across. Many of the inquiries for money also seemed to be scams. If someone approaches you a simple ‘no thank you’ is all you need. You don’t have any obligation to explain why. 

Bring an Imaginary Friend.

By ‘imaginary friend’ I mean, pretend you are traveling with someone. You, obviously, don’t have to pretend all the time but sometimes it’s a good excuse if you have to leave a situation. You can say you’re meeting up with your significant other, family, or friends later on. People may see you as being less vulnerable if they believe you’re with someone. Some women even go as far as to make fake phone calls or wear a fake wedding ring while traveling. 

Be aware of how you present yourself.

Try to blend in as much as possible, if you can try to dress like the locals. Not looking like and obvious tourist can prevent you from getting some unwanted attention. Just as well, avoid wearing flashy jewelry or carrying expensive things around. 

Stay Connected.

Having and regular check-in with someone from back home is always a good idea. I would even go as far as to email someone your itinerary so they can better locate you in  case something were to go wrong during your trip.

Stash your cash in safe places.

Hiding your money and other important documents like your passport, and copies of it, in several different places can help you out if you happen to get robbed. If you keep all your money in one place and you get robbed all your money will be gone. However, if you stash it in multiple places then you’ll always have a backup plan in case something like that were to happen. Want some tips on how to Stash Your Cash? 

Get Travel Insurance.

While traveling you are solely responsible for yourself if something happens. However, travel insurance can get you out of a bind if need be. Travel insurance can cover things like emergency hospital stays, lost baggage, theft, flight cancellation, etc. You may not have to utilize it on every trip but it’s something you will be grateful to have had when you need it. I purchased mine through World Nomads.

Like this list? Pin this infographic to Pinterest and share with your friends.

10 safety tips from a solo female backpacker

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Going Solo: Tips for Surviving Your First Solo Adventure

Going Solo tips for surviving your first solo adventure

Why go solo?

Traveling alone can be one of the scariest and most rewarding experiences of your life. It can be scary traveling alone, especially when you’ve never done it before and especially as a female. But, for me, not experiencing everything I want to in life is much more unnerving. Fear of missing out, I guess. Although it can be daunting, traveling alone has the potential to change you. It can help you become self-reliant and build your confidence. It’s also nice not having to compromise your experience with anyone else. There are no fights over where to eat or what sights to see. You are at your own whim. When you are alone you experience the world unadulterated by anyone else’s wants or desires. It is truly freeing. 

While traveling alone can be amazing, it can be hard to build your confidence up to make you trip just that. So, to help you calm your nerves I’ve got a few tips. 

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Don't worry too much about being lonely.

“Oh, you’re going to (Blank) by yourself. Won’t you be lonely?”

This is a regular inquiry I get when I tell people I’m traveling solo. Yes, every solo trip has the potential for loneliness but there are so many people out there to meet in the world, as long as you are willing to put yourself out there. Going on a solo trip doesn’t mean you’ll always be alone. You will be meet people along the way, especially if you stay in a hostel. You’re highly likely to run into other solo travelers, just like you. On my last trip, I met upwards of ten solo travelers, in a week’s time. You also might be surprised by how comfortable you will be when you are alone. You’re new best friend might just be yourself.

Talk to strangers and be curious.

When you travel alone you must accept that you must put yourself out there to interact with the world. Experiences aren’t just going to happen to you, you have to make them happen. Be outgoing. Talk to strangers. Ask lots of questions. You’ll probably find that most travelers and locals are quite friendly and are happy to strike up a conversation. When I was in Germany alone at a music festival, I just struck up a conversation with a woman and ended up getting invited to join their group for the rest of the evening. Ended up being one the best nights of that trip.

I also believe, hostels are the best place to start with making friends If you need some tips on how to make friends while staying in a hostel, check out this guide.

Choose friendly accomodation.

Where you stay can be key to a good experience. Do your research to try to find a place that best fits your travel style. Read reviews for places, to see if other travelers enjoyed staying there or thought there was a friendly or lively atmosphere. I always recommend that solo travelers stay in a hostel because it is an obvious place to run into people like yourself. AirBnB and Couchsurfing are also great options because your host may be willing to chat or show you around. 

Sign up for group activites.

Lots of hostels host themed nights, tours, and pub crawls. Often times you just have to ask reception to see what events the hostel has going on. Don’t be too shy to sign up solo for a day-trip or tour experiences You’ll likely meet someone else in your group you identify with. I booked a canal cruise for myself while in Amsterdam with Get Your Guide, and by the end of it the whole boat was friendly and conversing with on another. Same thing happened with my Sunset Eiffel Tower tour. I’m glad I booked a place in a tour group rather than just seeing and walking around on the Effiel Tower alone.

Trust your gut.

Traveling alone is not necessarily any more risky than traveling with friends—but it does require extra awareness, especially for female travelers. Keep an eye out for potentially dangerous situations. I’m not saying that you will for sure find yourself in an undesirable situation but solo travelers and women can be at increased risk for scams, pickpockets, and sexual violence. That fact of the matter is, the way societies treat women in some parts of the world still have a long way to go. Don’t be fearful of that knowledge though, be vigilant. If you ever feel that you are in an unsafe situation, try to remove yourself from it, if you can. Be confident in saying no to people who seem suspicous, and may threaten you with a scam or some other intentions. Safety always trumps politeness. Keep in mind though, you don’t always have to be on guard. Most countries in the world are not anymore violent or dangerous than your own country. Listen to your instincts and they will help keep you safe but also allow it to guide you in your adventures. 

Go with the flow.

Take advantage of your freedom and be willing to change plans or tag along with a new friend. Say yes to experiences. My first night in Amsterdam, a few weeks ago, I was super jet-lagged and was just planning on going to bed early to be well rested for a concert the next day. I ended up groggily introducing myself to a girl in my dorm when she walked in during my early evening slumber. That introduction led to an invitation to get food and in an instant, my plans had changed. Even though I was tired, I said yes and it turned into an unforgettable evening because, for the rest of the night, I decided I was down for anything. Grabbing food turned into drinks, drinks turned into going out, and somehow my night ended at 6 am at a rave/music festival in a small village in North Holland.

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Stay connected.

Let friends or family know of your plans. Check in with someone every so often from back home to let them know you’re ok. If you are a US citizen, you also have the option of signing up for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, this way the government can better assist you in the case of emergency.

Be Confident.

Be confident in the way you present yourself and speak to others. Hold your head high and walk with purpose as if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t feel confident; fake it till you make it, as the saying goes. Confidence can make you seem approachable to others. Confidence can also deter people you don’t want attention from, like scammers or even some guy who won’t stop hitting on you. Also, try to research your destination so that you can walk the streets or take public transportation with little issue. 

Solo travel is exciting, it’s scary, and it’s one of the best gifts you can ever give yourself. Have any worries about an upcoming solo adventure? Share in the comments below and maybe I have some tips.:)

Going Solo: tips for surviving your first solo advent

9 Useful Travel Apps

9 useful travel apps

Having your phone loaded with great travel apps can make your trip easy and organized. I have compiled a list of apps that I have found to be extremely useful while traveling. I hope you find these apps as useful as I did.

Lodging

This free app offers you the ability to search through and book 27,000 hostels in 180 countries. The app also features thousands of customer reviews so you now what your picking. The filters in the search setting are also very customizable, so you can find the right hostel for your trip.

iOS/Android

AirBnB

Want a home away form home? AirBnB offers travelers the ability to search through local hosts who will accommodate you for a fee in their own home. Accomadations range from a couch to sleep on to incredible vacation homes. The app allows you to search, book, and pay for your stay with an available host.

Flights

Skiplagged can help you find cheap flights and also allows you to book flights with multiple stops and then deplane at your connection before reaching your final destination. This can be cheaper and is sometimes referred to as hidden city ticketing and is sometimes looked down on by airlines. This is often less expensive than booking a flight directly to the earlier stop. The only catch is if you book a trip and don’t intend to use a connecting flight you cannot check a bag or else your bag will continue to the next destination without you. Recently, the Skiplagged added the ability to search for hotel deals as well.

Navigation

Maps.me Is a great navigation app that doesn’t require date or Wi-Fi connection to point you in the right direction. The way it works is something I’m still not sure about, but I do know that this app is easy to use and has thousands of addresses for different locations and attractions in a large number of cities.

Planning

TripIt is an incredibly easy to use itinerary planner. TripIt scans through your emails to find lodging, travel and activity bookings and will automatically add the details to your trip in the app so all your information is in one place. It is seamless. TripIt will even track your trip in real-time and send you notifications when an activity or check-in time is approaching.

Internet

Paying extra to your cell phone company to use your data abroad is often something everyone wants to avoid. Internet access is important if you need to rebook a flight, get directions, or contact family or friends. Thankfully, Free Wi-Fi Finder can show you where you there are free wireless connections around and, if available, the app will even have the Wi-Fi password that you can copy and paste.

Money and Organization

Apple Pay and Apple Wallet

Apple Pay and Apple Wallet are a great way to go cashless.

There are plenty of locations that accept Apple Pay. You just load your credit/debit card details and you can then pay for purchases with a quick fingerprint scan on your phone at checkout. I find it convenient when paying for food at places like McDonald’s or Walgreens. There are also a variety of apps that will accept Apple Pay, like Groupon.

 

With Apple Wallet, you can store and use tickets, passes, coupons, and gift cards, all on your iPhone. Your wallet will display all important information; like the balance on your gift card, coupon expiration dates, your seat number, and more. It will even show your confirmation code to scan if necessary. For my last trip, I was able to store my Lufthansa ticket, my FlixBus ticket, and my activity confirmations from Get Your Guide.

iOs Only

Activities

Get Your Guide is an instant booking app for tours, sightseeing, and activities. The app allows you to search for activities by city and day and pay for your experience through the app. I’ve personally booked a Sunset Eiffel Tower tour, a canal cruise in Amsterdam, and ‘skip the line’ pass to the Musée du Louvre.

Translation​

Google Translate can instantly translate text and even spoken-word. You can simply say a phrase in English (or any other language), and Google Translate will, of course, translate it for you, but can even say the phrase for you in the desired language.

Know of any other great travel apps? Tell me about them in the comments below:)

9 Useful travel apps

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How I Save Money to Travel

howtosavefortravel

How can you best save for travel?

A question I see asked in the travel community quite often is, “How do you save money to travel?” The answer to this question can be extremely personal and not all money saving tips can work for everyone. That being said, I’ve come up with a few ways that I’ve been able to save up. I hope that by sharing the ways that work for me to save money, you can find some inspiration to figure out what saving methods work best for you.

How I save for Travel

I got into a routine...

After looking into my finances I realized that a lot of purchases could have been avoided if I had planned better ahead. Unexpected expenses can add up fast and if you aren’t one to plan ahead then they can happen more often than not. To combat unexpected expenses, I meticulously planned out my week and set alarms in my phone to prompt me to do different tasks.

I have three alarms in the morning that remind me its almost time to head out the door for work. The last alarm in the morning is the absolute last time I can leave my apartment without being late for work. I walk/take the El train on a typical day. But If I get out the door too late I have to get an Uber there. This is something I do occasionally but the cost can really add up. So basically my alarms are to prevent me from being late and occurring an unexpected expense of getting an Uber.

I also have an alarm in my phone to go off every Sunday at 5pm titled GO TO THE GROCERY. The logic is, if I make a consistent weekly trip to the grocery store the night before the work week, I’ll have fresh food for the week and less reason to eat out. After grocery shopping I then pack my lunch for the week. I have 5 lunch containers so that I can grab my lunch in the morning and head out the door.

 

I figured out a low-cost diet...

It can be surprisingly easy to trim down on your food budget depending on how your willing to eat. After doing some shopping I figured out a list of some low cost grocery items. Most of these are not only cheap but filling.

  • Chicken
  • Rice
  • Yogurt
  • Bread 
  • Peanut Butter
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Deli Meat
  • Potato Chips
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

A week’s worth of this food costs me around $25.

As I mentioned earlier I go shopping on Sunday and then pack my lunch for the week while I’m unloading groceries. I’m sure to pack lots of filling things for snacks for myself throughout the day so I’m not temped to spend money on a coffee or bagel during the day.

 

I use an app to save money...

I use Qapital to save money. It’s a money saving app that transfers money from your bank account and into one or multiple savings accounts directed toward a goal. The money transfers into these accounts based on different rules you can set up and customize on the app. I have savings rules triggered for multiple things like hitting a certain step count during the day or buying a guilty pleasure item. For example; if Qapital sees that I spent money on Pizza Hut (my guilty pleasure) then $5 is triggered to move into a savings account on Qapital. I have multiple rules to trigger money to go into multiple savings accounts such as, ‘Get Outta Here,’ ‘Travel Gear,’ ‘Emergency Funds,’ and ‘Travel Insurance.’ Also have a fund for ‘Extra Rent Money’ just in case I ever feel like I might be short on rent. You can also earn some extra cash by referring your friends to Qapital.

Use my referral link here:

http://get.qapital.com/bzAc/geSj7d9SKB

I give myself a cash allowance...

Another way I save money is by limiting how much I allow myself to spend by taking cash out and leaving my debit card at home. Having my debit card handy allows me to feel as if there isn’t a strict limit to how much I can spend. If I go out with friends to a bar or something on the weekend I allow myself to bring $20. Just as well if I decide to go shopping for new clothes or something similar I’ll limit what I spend by bringing a cash allowance.

I regularly purge my closet...

I live pretty close to a Plato’s Closet. This place will give you CASH for gently-used, in-style clothes. I try to purge my wardrobe every few months and always try to see if Plato’s will by my clothes before I donate them. Want to see if you can get cash for your clothes? Use google to search for local consignment shops. Other chains I have use in the past to sell clothes are Clothes Mentor, Buffalo Exchange, and Snooty Fox.

I sell old stuff on eBay and at mom’s neighborhood yard sale...

So far, on eBay, I’ve sold old cracked cell phones for parts, an old backpack, gently used Vera Bradley bags, a camera I got one Christmas etc. I also try to go through all my belongings once a year before my mom’s neighborhood’s annual yard sale. If you are strapped for cash take a look around your room/home and try to see if there is anything your willing to part ways with.

YardSale

I work two jobs...

Work hard Travel Harder

Well, worked is the better term. I actually just quit my second job after a year of working 60+ hours per week. I am a Nanny M-F (50 hrs) and served at a brunch restaurant on the weekends for an additional 10 or more hours. I felt very accomplished knowing that I was doing something every day to make money. Plus, by working all the time I was less likely to spend money. Right now, I feel comfortable with my savings. I am leaving this job on good terms though, they are happy to have me come back to work there if I ever need to or want to make extra cash.

Got any more money saving tips? Share them in the comments below.

How I save money to travel

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Stashing Your Cash: Clever Ways Women can Carry Cash While Traveling

As I prepare for my next big trip, I have been researching ways to safety carry money around with me. Carrying money while traveling has to be a balance of safety and ease of access. You want all your money to be secure but you also don’t want to be playing hide and seek with it. You also want to be able to get to it without having to unload your entire pack or strip off all your clothes. 

Below, I’ve complied a list of tips and products I’ve found that can help you keep your cash and credit/debit cards safe but accessible while traveling.

Divide your money up

Whenever possible, divvy up your travel cash and even credit/debit cards into multiple safe spots in your pack or luggage. If you’ve got all your money in one place, it only takes one time for a thief to totally wipe you out. If you have your money hidden in multiple spots though, you’ll still have a fall back. I also think this is good idea when you are out sightseeing with just a purse or small bag. Keep some on your person (stashed in your bra, in your shoe, etc.) and also in your bag. That way if you fall pray to a pick pocket you’ll still have back up cash until you get back to your accommodation. 

Clean out your wallet

Chances are, you’re not going to need your library card or that high school ID you’ve been carrying around with you forever. Keep anything that isn’t a necessity at home. If your wallet is clean and organized your better be able to access your cash.

On Body Storage is Recommended

Almost every blog/travel resource site I used while researching this topic insisted that on body storage is the safest option. I, personally, don’t recommend carrying anything valuable in your purse, which can be easily snatched, or a backpack, which can be opened without your noticing. Some may feel silly wearing a money belt but under-clothing/on-body storage accessories have come a long way since neck pouches and money belts came onto the scene. While the classic money storage option are still very popular there are other products that you can use.  Though those classics are still in favor, newer options include bra stashes, scarf stashes, as well as underwear, and undershirts with built-in pockets for safe storage.  Below are some suggested on body-storage products. On-body storage accessories can be particularly useful if you’re sleeping somewhere that doesn’t have a secure place for cash and other valuables during the day.

Note: Do not take your money out of your on-body hiding place while out in public. Use your wallet during the day so you aren’t advertising where you stash your cash. If you need to move money from a hiding spot and into your wallet go use the restroom and make the exchange in there.

On Body Storage Products

Smart Travel Scarf

This scarf, in my opinion, is one of the most fashionable ways to stash your cash. The pockets are big enough to hold your passport, wallet, or phone. You will have to do some adjusting though so that you don’t have a passport sized lump visible around your neck.

Travel Tank Top with Secret Pocket

This tank makes for a very discreet hiding spot. Like the scarf, you may need to adjust or wear a shirt over it so that it’s not obvious that you have cash in your shirt. 

Boot Wallet

This one is perfect for girls who wear knee high boots.

Boot with a secret pocket

These boots have a super discrete pocket. No one would ever guess that where your stashing your cash.

Small money pouch

The bra pouch is a pretty common tool women use to keep their money safe while traveling. I, personally, don’t think its comfortable to have a pouch dangling from your bra but to each their own. If it works for you go for it.

Pocket Socks

An even more discreet option than that boot or boot wallet.

Bangle Cuff with -- Secret Pocket

Bangle cuffs with secret pockets are a super fashionable way to hide your money. Here’s a link to make one yourself.

 

Hiding cash in plain sight

Whether you’re taking your money with you or wish to stash some back in your accommodation, here are some ways you can cleverly hide your cash in plain sight.

In your Pad or Tampon box

Store in in the box or in a tampon or pad wrapper, either way. Unless your thief is experiencing their time of the month they probably won’t look in your tampon box.

In a tube of chapstick

You will have to first remove the chapstick inside to make this work. Then just roll up your cash and stick it in there. 

In your water bottle

This one has a storage compartment!

In a pack of Gum

You can fold your cash and stick it inside a pack of gum or if your really ambitious wrap it up in a the gum wrapper as well to be extra safe.

In empty toiletries

Stuff your cash and valuables in an old lotion or shampoo bottle to be super sneaky. or purchase a diversion safe that looks like one of your toiletries.

In your Hair Brush

In your old Snack container

Store your money in an old Pringles container or even inside an old chip bag. Just be sure that YOU remember that its not trash. Or you can invest in a diversion safe that looks like a old snack container.

In the book your reading

Stowing some cash or documents in a book can make it easy to access, keeps everything flat, and isn’t an obvious storage spot. 

Got any more tips? Share in the comments below...

Finding the Right Travel Backpack: A Guide for Women

Women Travel Backpack

So you're looking for a Travel Backpack...

Finding the right backpack is imperative to any wannabe backpacker. You want the pack to be lightweight, yet hold a lot for a long journey. Must be sturdy to hold up against the elements or the occasional trip in a flight cargo hold. You want it to be unique but, you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself as a tourist or traveler. Whatever pack you decide on it has to be a decision based on functionality, comfort, and your personal style preference.

Looking for a Travel Backpack can be an overwhelming task. Travel backpacks come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and different functionalities. It hard to determine which pack is the best for you, especially if you are unsure of what you need.

The three main areas to consider...

  • Capacity: The size pack you’ll need is tied to the length of your trip and how much weight and bulk you want to carry.
  • Features: These will determine how the pack works for you. What features do you need to make sure the pack is as functional as possible for you?
  • Comfort and Fit: You need to consider the length of your torso as well as the padding and structure the pack has to support your shoulders and spine.

Capacity...

First of all, like many solo travelers, I believe it is best to pack light. Packing light allows you more freedom while traveling with your pack because you don’t have to lug a lot around and because you can avoid checking luggage. Remember though, packing light requires a certain level of self-discipline and careful planning. As long as you plan ahead and prepare yourself for traveling with a light load you should be fine.

So, what’s the perfect size travel backpack that can fit all you need but is also carry-on approved?

While you can certainly travel with even less, a 35L-46L travel backpack just might be a perfect size.

Why 35L-46L is the perfect size for a travel backpack?

  • A backpack that is between 35L-46L is the perfect middle ground, the cliché; not too big, not too small.
  • The measurements fall within the carry-on restrictions of most airlines.
  • It will hold plenty of stuff without allowing too much space for unnecessary things.
  • It’s small enough to manage and provide you with a good range of motion.

Features...

Top or Front Loader: How the pack opens is typically an area of personal preference. Top loading packs seem to be the norm. Front loading packs are picking up in popularity but are typically overshadowing by many travelers’ desires’ to have a ‘classic pack.’ I’m definitely one of those travelers who goes for the classic pack but definitely appreciate the ease of access that comes with a front loader. For this reason, I have been attracted to the Osprey Kyte 46L or Stratos 36L which are top loaders but have a side zipper that can access the main compartment.

Water Resistance: A backpack doesn’t need to be totally waterproof, but the need is obvious if you are ever out in the rain. It one of those things you don’t think you need until you do. Some bags don’t have them, but you can always purchase a separate rain cover separately. Many packs from brands like Osprey and Deuter come with rain covers though.

Compartments, Compartments, Compartments: The ideal bag should have multiple compartments. Having compartments allows everything to have its own space. You can easily separate things from each other. You wouldn’t want some muddy shoes next to fresh clothes in your pack.

Sleeping Bag Compartment: This is typically a zippered compartment near the bottom of the pack It’s a useful feature even if you don’t have or need a sleeping bag. You can always use this separate storage area for other larger items.

Lock it up: Make sure each compartment has two zippers which you can overlap and lock together. Travel backpacks seldom come good locks. However, any lock can be enough to deter a theft. Many thefts are crimes of convenience and are the result of people leaving things lying around or not locked up. For this reason, a relatively small can work just fine. If you need to buy your own lock, check out these TSA approved ones.

Compression Straps: Compression straps are useful if you need to tighten up your pack to prevent things from rattling around while you’re out. They allow you to make your pack more compact whether it’s over-packed or has extra space.

Warranty: A decent warranty is always, and obviously, an attractive extra. Brands like Osprey and Deuter have a lifetime warranty. A long warranty can be a sign of quality and long-lasting gear, and it’s nice to have a back-up. Having a warranty is definitely worth spending a little extra on a backpack.

Comfort and Fit...

Padded Hip & Shoulder Straps: The hip belt must be comfortable, padded, and adjustable because this is where a majority (roughly 80%) of the backpack’s weight should rest. This will help distribute the weight properly between your back and hips. Firm padding in the shoulder straps will also allow for you to carry the weight comfortably.

Lumbar Back Support: Avoid packs with flat backs. Look for a backpack with lumbar support. This will support your lower back, improving posture by keeping your spine in a neutral arch and distribute weight more evenly.

Ventilation: If you’ve ever worn a backpack, you know about ‘sweaty back syndrome.’ Backpacks that ride against your pack are notorious for causing this. Many quality packs these days feature a suspended mesh back panel to combat the this. With this design, the pack rides a few inches away from your back, which instead rests against the breathable mesh.

Weight: You don’t want a pack that is too heavy but also don’t want one that is too light either. While I recommend traveling light, be wary of packs that may be ‘too light.’ Some weight to a pack is a good thing. It can mean that the pack is made with sturdy material or has the proper framework and padding for your back and shoulders. Be careful not to skimp on important features just because you think the lighter the better.

You’re going to be wearing this on your back and spending a lot of time with it, so you want to make sure you get the right one.

Choosing the right pack can be overwhelming. Hopefully this guide helps you select the right pack for you. 

Some extra helpful tips….

  • Take your time. Research packs, try some on, test it out, maybe even buy one and then return it if you figure out it’s not right for you.
  • Go for a color that appeals to you but don’t make it too flashy. Flashy colors seem to scream tourist and can increase your chances of getting targeted for scams, theft, etc.
  • Ask your friends for help choosing, maybe you know someone who can recommend a pack for you.
  • Go to a store like REI to get fitted before buying, if you are planning on buying online.

My Recommended Travel Backpacks for Women...

Osprey Kyte 46L

Why this pack?

Osprey seems to have classic yet, versatile pack designs. Kyte series packs are light, but highly functional – this pack can easily switch roles from overnight camping/hiking to urban backpacking. The pack also features side zipper access to the main compartment making it super easy to reach everything in your pack, no matter how deep it’s buried in your pack. This pack is at the top of my list because it still hold a lot, is extremely functional, and is carry-on approved.

North Face Terra 40L

Why this pack?

This pack is mid-size and very versatile. It is also lightweight and offers an excellent suspension system enough volume for several days out. The design is also very classic and has an abundance of zippered pockets for storage.

Osprey Stratos 36L

Why this pack?

This pack provides easy access to your belongings via the top load or front panel making it very versatile. You can easily remove things from the bottom of your pack without loading everything. It is also lightweight but has the ability to carry a large load.

Deuter Futura Pro 42L

This pack features excellent back ventilation, flexible carry comfort and an adjustable “floating” hip belt, plus a stow-away rain cover, and a bottom and top compartment separated by a internal zipper divider. 

Osprey Tempest 40L

This lightweight pack features top loading access and a lower sleeping bag compartment. This pack doesn’t come with a rain cover but is designed for excellent back support and a frame that transfers most of the weight to your hip belt. 

finding the right travel backpack

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How to Create Your Travel Budget

So, you have to create a travel budget.

If you’re anything like me, this is something you have probably been avoiding.

Preparing a travel budget can be a daunting and overwhelming experience, with endless estimates, and often erratic or doubtful results. You can never truly know if the budget is going to work out until you actually embark on your journey. But they are important so that you can be better prepared for the unexpected. So, with that in mind take a deep breath. It’s ok, everyone else hates making a travel budget too.

The budget is one of the most dreaded things a person must create to effectively travel. No one wants to think about how much money their spending or try to find ways to cut their expenses. However, it is necessary. Some women (myself included previously) don’t believe they need a travel budget because they will be alone and will only be tracking the expenses of one person. Or they will think planning is pointless because travelling alone is cheaper than traveling in a group. Being whimsical and positive about your upcoming trip is fine but the reality of travel and unexpected costs will add up if you don’t do your research and at least loosely plan how you plan to spend your money.

Solo travel can be unpredictable and expensive. Drawing up your budget ahead of time will help you realize the true cost of your trip and allow you organization and peace of mind if something unexpected happens. If you have a budget, you can easily refer to it and adjust your plans accordingly.

Travel can be expensive – but there are ways to bring costs down. You just have to take the time to research and be open-minded with cost saving tips.

Where do I begin?

Things to think about before you even start

Remember that in addition to budgeting for your actual travel, there’s also what you’ll spend getting ready to leave – the startup costs, the upfront expenses. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of things you’ll have to keep in mind:

  • You’ll have to choose a backpack or a suitcase which can set you back anything from $30 to $300 and more. The type of travelling you are doing will determine if you need a pack vs. a suitcase.
  • Then there’s the rest of your travel gear and accessories: clothes, good boots and shoes, and the various products – creams, toothpaste and other toiletries.
  • Do you need medical attention before leaving? International travel vaccinations can be quite steep if your insurance doesn’t pay for them. You also should be sure you have filled all prescriptions you plan to bring with you before your trip. Check with a clinic or your doctor.
  • Have you gotten a passport? If you will be travelling outside your own country you will need one of these. In the US you can wait up to 6-weeks before traveling to apply for passport and receive it before your trip. Depending on how close your trip is you may even have to pay for expedited shipping. You also will have to pay for the passport photo to be taken.
  • Do you need a visa? The visas for some countries can cost hundreds of dollars.
  • You’ll have to factor in the cost of comprehensive travel insurance, especially if you come from a country like the United States, like me, where health insurance is private and costly. Travel insurance is a MUST. Imagine breaking your leg in the middle in Belize and having no way to afford medical treatment or surgery out of pocket there.
  • And finally, there’s the cost of international transport, your flights, trains, buses, lodging, entertainment etc.

This is a brief and general list. Not all of these will apply to everyone but, this list does give you an idea of what you need to try to keep in mind when planning your adventure.

So, now that you’ve covered the basics, it’s time to make your budget.

Talk to other travelers about their experiences. Ask friends for tips and advice from people who have travelled to your destination before.

To make your research easier I’ve compiled a list of some great tools, sites, and blogs that can help you plan both your budget and your itinerary.

Budget Calculator

You have to start by laying out what you think you’ll be spending. I find excel spreadsheets to be the most helpful. If you’re like me, and are extremely bad at math you will appreciate a ‘plug and chug’ excel template for budgeting.

A Ginger Away Travel Budgeter

Cost of travel in countries: figure out how much things cost abroad

There are plenty of resources on the web that provide information on the cost of travelling. Do you research and use multiple sources. It’s important to remember that some sites are paid to display certain information and can be misleading. Below I have compiled some useful sites that can help you determine how expensive a country or region can be.

  • XE.com: can help you determine currency exchange rates and will help you calculate your money exchange.
  • Travel Independent: a guide to some of the world’s most popular travel destinations. This site gives you simple and relative information on country highlights, ratings, and expenses.
  • Budget Your Trip: View typical and average travel costs for thousands of cities and hundreds of countries around the world to help you plan your next trip’s budget.

How to actually plan your travel budget

What do you actually include in your budget? What proportion should go to accommodation, and how much should you set aside for food? Is there anything you can do without, or substitute? What steps do you actually have to take to get your budget done? I’m not going to go into specifics on searching for flights and lodging. I will address finding affordable travel and accommodation in a later post.

  • Nomaic Matt: staple travel blog is a must to follow for any traveler. It is full of extensive information on countries and the ins and outs of planning a trip.
  • Lonely Planet: extensive online travel guide to nearly every part of the globe.
  • Bootsnall: an amazing planning resource. While it tends to be angled at longer-term travel, that doesn’t matter. This is the gold standard and wildly useful.
  • World Travel Guide: online guide that offers information on what to do to before travelling, what to do while there, and even gives historical and cultural information.
  • Wild Junket: a step-by-step process that shows you exactly what you have to do to end up with a travel budget.
  • Maphappy: this article shows you how to prioritize high-ticket items and isn’t aimed at the backpacker crowd.

Travel Budgeter

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