Not every issue needs a long, drawn-out blog post to answer, so I like taking your questions now and then and helping solve some travel problems. So let’s take a break from our regularly scheduled articles for another round of Q&A!
A few weeks ago, I put a call out on social media for reader questions on travel, life, and anything in between. There are usually a few questions I’ve never answered before, weird ones about life, and just funny pop culture ones! Today’s blog post is my attempt to answer these questions. Some of them overlapped, so I trimmed the duplicates down, got rid of the really inappropriate ones (haha), and put the rest here. Hopefully, in answering someone else’s question, I’ll also be able to help you too.
What are your thoughts on train travel vs. flying between cities in Europe? – John
I love train travel in Europe. It’s scenic and relaxing, and the trains are way more comfortable than economy class on planes. It’s a lot less stressful than flying too. That said, it takes a lot longer, and tickets are often more expensive than some of the budget airlines in Europe.
I think it basically comes down to time and money (doesn’t everything?). For me, it depends if I’m in a rush. If I need to get someplace quick, I’ll fly. But, if I have time, a rail pass, or just find the ticket prices to be similar to flights, I’ll take the train over flying.
How do you feel about staying in hotels vs. Airbnbs? – Eric
I rarely ever stay in a hotel unless I am using hotel points, as I find them to be very expensive. I’d much rather be in an Airbnb, even if it is just for one night. I like the homey feel, the cheaper prices, and being able to ask questions of a local who knows the area. You make more friends staying with a local from a site like Couchsurfing than at a hotel. Here is a guide to Airbnb if you want more info on that service!
What are your thoughts on traveling to the European countries that have been hit by terrorist attacks? – Alexander
There’s nothing you can do to predict the future. Whether you go to a movie theater or club in the US or somewhere in Europe, you never know when violence will strike. Terror attacks occur randomly, so while I would be more vigilant, I wouldn’t let this change your travel plans. That’s what they want: they want us to cower in fear and be suspicious. I’d never let them control my life. (That said, I do avoid war zones.)
Do you have any advice on traveling solo? – Rod
That’s my whole website! Just click here to learn my best tips. This is the best starting point to learn the A-to-Z of planning your trip!
What was the transformative moment when you knew you wanted to make travel (and travel blogging) a career? – Dora
I’ve always described myself as an accidental travel writer. There was never a magic moment where I said, “I am going to do this.” But there were inflection points when I realized, “Wow, this business is growing. That’s cool. I guess I’ll keep riding this wave.”
How and when did you find that travel is your passion? – Jegan
I feel in love with travel on a tour to Costa Rica; it was the first time I was traveling as an adult. I loved the freedom and the sense of endless possibility. I just knew I wanted to keep doing it. Over time and a few more trips, it just became the only thing I wanted to do. I loved traveling and wanted to share that love with others.
When people say, “Go find your passion,” I always cringe a bit. It’s not like you can go out and just stumble upon it, like finding a lost set of keys. I think finding your passion is what happens when you end up doing something you love. If you talk to people who are passionate about their job, often it’s because they have been doing it so long that they are just good at it!
I love cooking. LOVE IT! But I’ve done it long enough to know it’s not my passion. It doesn’t make me feel the way travel does. I think you just have to explore your interests, and one day, one will have become your passion without your even noticing.
What are your thoughts on the Peace Corps? Have you met people abroad who are or were in the Peace Corps? What are or were their experiences like? – Jillian
I’ve never done the Peace Corps, but I think it is an amazing initiative. I was going to apply a few years ago after my first trip around the world. After I came home, I knew I needed to go travel again, so this was one of the things I looked into.
I’ve met many people over the years who have done it, and most of them have said it was one of the best experiences in their lives. Maybe someone can leave a comment here and share their first-hand experience.
Can we also use your blog’s Intrepid discount code with Geckos? – Geneviève
Sadly, it only works with Intrepid. You can get the 10% discount by clicking here.
What would be the best step to take for a 21-year-old who really wants to travel but doesn’t have enough money? – Alyiah
I’d go work overseas. You’re 21 and probably fresh out school. You have your whole life ahead of you! Get yourself a working holiday visa for New Zealand or Australia and get a job over there. Or go teach English overseas! There’s no reason why you have to have a certain amount of money. Just go with the money you have. There’s nothing holding you back at the moment. The world is your oyster.
Here’s an article on how to find work overseas and why being broke is the best time for you to travel.
I have three questions: What do you do for health insurance? Do you have a favorite credit card? What phone service do you use? – Susan
When I travel, I use World Nomads as my insurance provider. They are my favorite insurance company (and in my opinion, the best out there). I’ve been using them since I started traveling and highly recommend them. (When I’m home, I have coverage here in Texas).
For credit cards, I love the new Chase Sapphire Reserved. There’s a high annual fee but the rewards and travel credit make the fee worth it. For phone service, I use T-Mobile — but if you are going to be out of the country for a while, it’s better to get unlocked SIM cards as you go. It will work out cheaper than T-Mobile, and you can just top off as needed.
Do you have any advice for those who want to start a travel blog? – Ali
Sure, I have a ton! I would simply start with these two blog posts because they are more robust than any quick reply I write here. Here are the links:
How do you keep costs down when traveling to expensive countries? – Liza
It’s easy to save money in Thailand but a lot harder to save money in Switzerland or Norway or Japan. Traveling to those countries on a budget takes a lot of work. Sometimes, you just can’t do it (I’m looking at you, Bermuda!). On the other hand, I think expensive countries are sometimes easier to travel to because locals, who face high costs, have invented smart ways to stay on a budget. It varies from country to country ,but for the most part, when I’m in an expensive country, I drink less, cook more, eat cheaper (not so healthy) food, take local transportation, and look into the sharing economy more: Couchsurfing, ride-sharing, meal-sharing, and everything in between. You have to get more creative, but I believe 99% of the world can be visited on a budget. It all depends on how much you’re will to do what you need to do.
I traveled Europe for a month and got pretty homesick toward the end. Do you ever get homesick? What would you recommend for those who do? – Jacob
I get homesick all the time. I’ve met many people who have too. In fact, I’ve met many people that have gotten so homesick, they’ve gone home. There’s nothing wrong with that.
There’s a certain flow to travel. A lot of people get homesick right away, but for most people, it’s around the 3-4-month mark and then again closer to the year mark. These milestones are when you seem to become more untethered your past, and for many people, that feeling makes them want to retreat back into their familiar bubble. They feel themselves changing.
But I say you should just power through it. It’s natural and will pass. Embrace the change! Since this feeling so often relates to travel fatigue, I say sit down, relax, enjoy the city you are in, take a deep breath, and then move on when you’re ready.
Are visas a big issue for you, if you’re in the middle of a trip outside of the US and you decide to go to a country that requires a visa? – Carl
You can get visas as you go. While some nationalities are required to get tourist visas in their home countries, for the most part, all you need to do is get the visa from the local embassy or consulate in the country you are in. There’s no magic to it. Need a Vietnam visa while in Germany? Head to the local Vietnamese embassy or consulate and apply (making sure you have all the appropriate documents). That’s about all there is to it.
Is it safe to travel to the US at this juncture? I have a long-term tourist visa but now I’m scared with the hate crime reported by the media. – Kanian
This question makes me sad, and I feel I could go on forever about it. For starters, the media always reports the stories that are negative. “If it bleeds, it leads” is why you think hate crimes are rampant and American conservatives think Muslim terrorists are everywhere and Paris is burning. Everything is always so negative all the time.
But the US is a country of 350 million people with great diversity. While there was a slight uptick in hate crimes after the election, the America that existed before Trump is still essentially there and is filled with good people who care about other people. That has not changed. Look at all the marches that happened against the travel ban. Just like I would say you have nothing to fear by going to Europe, you have nothing to fear by coming to the US.
I am planning my trip to Europe currently and would like to know how you handled the proof of future travel that countries require for visas. – Kim
Assuming you’re from a developed country, they will never check. They’ll never say, “Let me see that flight/bus/train ticket.” Well, the UK and Ireland might because those countries are strict, but no one else does. Outside of those two places, I rarely ever have proof of onward travel (and it’s usually the airline that asks), especially if I’m traveling long-term. It’s a risk I’m comfortable taking.
But if you’re not comfortable with that risk, you can simply buy a refundable plane, bus, or train ticket to get you past border control. When you get into your destination, just cancel the ticket.
For other non-Western nationalities, you usually need a visa ahead of time and to get it, you’re required to have proof of onward travel anyways.
I would appreciate advice about hot springs and thermal baths in the USA. Thank you. – Helena
I’ve never been to one in the US and don’t know of any. For questions like this in general, Google is usually the best resource. When I ever I am looking for the “best in….”, I usually turn to Google.
Which of your destinations, if any, have most challenged your values as an American? – Nomadic Planet
I don’t think anything challenges my values as an American. Many places challenge my values as a human, but nothing ever made me question my American values. I don’t think a country has much to do with values. If anything, traveling has made me appreciate the greatness of America — but also that there are many things we have to work on.
What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything? – Jason
Why don’t you organize trips with your followers? – Jorge
Actually, this year I am going to start doing group tours again! Check this post out to see all my 2017 tours!
Is Costa Rica safe? What is the best way to find a good travel buddy? – Wendy
Yes, it’s very, very safe. I have no safety concerns about that country.
To find a friend, there are a lot of places to do so. Check out this article where I list a ton of ways to meet people when you travel.
Any tips on how to travel with a dog? – Sally
I’ve never traveled with a pet, but these resources are really good and can help you plan your trip:
Where do you get your hair done? – Raimee
I’m glad you asked. I love my hair. It’s completely on fleek. I’m glad you like it too. I get it done when I visit NYC at this cheap barber on the west side of town. I think he does a good job for the price. Then again, I have a simple haircut, so I’m not sure how he could screw it up. Not like this one time in Taiwan, where they accidentally shaved my entire head so quickly I couldn’t protest in time. I was bald for a solid month. (No, I won’t be putting a picture of that online though!)
Photo credit: 1
P.S. BIG NEWS! This year I’m relaunching the Nomadic Matt group tours. You can come travel around with me and other community members! I’ll be doing four over the course of the summer. You can find out more about them and sign up by clicking here.