One thing I don’t do enough is answer your questions. Periodically, I have Q&As, but if my ongoing book tour has taught me anything, it’s that you have a lot of questions that don’t get answered on the blog! Since not everything lends itself to a 1,000-word post, last week I put a call out on Facebook for your questions. And I’m going to start doing this more. Maybe not monthly, but at least once every couple of months.
But for now, here are your questions and my answers:
Heidi: How do you deal with flying around the world without having an onward ticket?
This depends on the airline. Some airlines are really strict about you having an onward ticket, some aren’t. Other than in the UK and Ireland, I haven’t ever been asked at immigration to show onward proof. Technically, every country has this requirement but it’s not really enforced. However, I know a few airlines that won’t let you on without onward proof, so sometimes it’s good to buy a refundable ticket or a cheap bus ticket out just to satisfy them.
Nancy: What do you do to stay healthy when you travel?
I’m not super great at staying healthy when I travel, but I try to drink a lot of water and little alcohol, walk a lot, and avoid fatty food. I don’t work out on the road besides the occasional pushup, so I try to stay right with my diet. This interview with fitness expert Steve Kamb can provide good advice.
Kim: How do you make an income while you are traveling?
Through this website! I’m a travel writer, so my job is to write about travel. The books I write keep this website going. If you want to support this endeavor, check out one of the guides or book your travel via the resource links on the website.
Tony: How can you learn about a culture and meet locals without speaking their language?
If there’s zero communication, it’s hard. Charades help. Alcohol makes everything go around. I had a great time with some Ukrainians using sign language and vodka. But I try to use websites like Meet Up or Couchsurfing to meet locals and go out with them. People on those sites usually speak a bit of English, which helps a lot. However, nonverbal communication like hand gestures and a smile goes far. I was at a dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong with a very confused look on my face. Some of the old Chinese guys across from me just started putting food in front of me, smiling, and giving me a thumbs up. We basically communicated through sounds and smiles. Not all interactions need words!
Rachel: How do you get around staying in a country longer than a tourist visa allows?
You leave and come back or try to get a visa extension. For example, Thailand lets you extend your visa or you can just go to Cambodia and come back in. For other places, it’s a bit difficult, as you have to be out for a certain number of days. The best way, though, is to get a long-term-stay visa before you arrive.
Gina: What are the options for working abroad besides teaching?
You can be an au pair, work on a boat, work on a cruise ship, work in a restaurant, or be a tour guide. There are a lot of options out there. It’s often best to go to the destination and ask around to see what is available. Every place is different and you’ll get the best opportunities when you go there. I know it can be scary to go without a job in hand, but the best jobs are often found via word of mouth.
Nat: What songs/type of music do you listen to whilst traveling or that which inspires you to travel?
I’m really into jazz and bluegrass at the moment, but whatever comes on my iPod is what I listen to!
Bethany: What is your favorite thing about traveling?
Learning about the world and how everyone fits into it. There are over six billion puzzle pieces in this world and I want to learn how they all fit together!
Mairéad: Best place for someone with occasionally limited mobility to visit?
Check out this blog by Cory Lee. He’s the best person to ask as he travels in a wheelchair. I’m planning an interview with him soon!
Doreen: Which country is your favorite?
Thailand. It’s where I decided to quit my job, and I lived there for a few years. I love the food, people, and weather. It just has it all for me.
Tim: Many credit cards have yearly fees. How do you keep so many and still pay those fees?
Many credit card companies will let you move to a no-fee version of the card if you call up. You can also try to get the fee waived for another year or ask for extra points or something instead of canceling. Cards want to keep you on board, so they always offer incentives to make that happen. Most of the time I move to the no-fee card or cancel.
Kristen: Your book mentions checking how many seats are left on a flight. How do I go about this? Is there a specific website that shows sold seats?
Any airline website will let you see seat availability on any given flight.
DawnRae: What do you do when travel starts to feel repetitive? How do you keep each destination exciting when the same options are available?
When I start to get down on travel, I stop. I stay in whatever place I am, relax, rest, and get to know it. When I’m ready to move on, I move on. Everyone has down days on travel. It’s like life — ups and downs. Don’t push yourself. Just stop, rest, and go on when you’re ready.
Luisa: Which would be better (weather and financially) in early November: Thailand, Burma or northern Argentina (Iguazu Falls)? I’m flying out of Asheville.
Flights to Argentina would be cheaper, but Asia would be cheaper when you get there.
Kitty: If you are planning to be away for a long trip (possibly a year or longer), do you need to have domestic health insurance with the ACA requirement? Or would your travel medical insurance be enough?
Travel insurance doesn’t cover the ACA requirement, but if you are out of the country for more than 330 days, you don’t have to pay the penalty. If you aren’t going away for that long, you’ll have to either pay the penalty or get insurance. If you aren’t working, you’ll most likely be able to qualify for a waiver since you’ll fall below the income requirement, but it’s best to speak to an accountant for details on that.
Gerold: If I want to be a travel writer, what are the things I’d include in an article to make it exquisite? Also, what should I avoid?
If you want writing tips, check out the Book Passage conference, the Nerd’s Eye View blog, or Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George. All can help you improve your writing. Stephen King’s On Writing is also good.
Bernadette: Do you ever plan to settle down and get married?
I would like to but I’m having trouble finding a Ms. Nomadic!
Mike: What would you recommend if you’re doing a two-month backpacking trip through Central America?
In two months, I’d probably start in Belize and then head south to Costa Rica. There’s a lot to see in the region, and it’s easy to get stuck in places, so I would plan on going slow. Don’t try to rush it. Here’s my guide to Central America if you want to see my favorite things to see and do.
Wasswa: Does Australia have some sort of low season where flights and activities are cheaper and affordable?
Australia’s low season is from April to October so prices are a bit cheaper then.
Kevin: What is the difference in your advice versus Rick Steves’s?
Rick’s advice is focused on Europe and more toward mid-tier, older travelers. It’s less about traveling on a budget, backpacking, or using sharing-economy services and apps to make travel cheaper. My site is for those looking for ways to really save and extend your trip. His advice is more for those with money to spend.
Erika: I’m bike-touring across Europe for nine years. Flying into Vienna. Do I need a round-trip airline ticket? Not sure on the date I’ll be coming back to the United States.
Nine years! Wow! That is a trip. Awesome! Good luck. The Vienna folks shouldn’t ask for a return ticket but definitely don’t tell them you plan to be in Europe for nine years. They won’t let you in. Just say you’re backpacking for a couple of months and you don’t know when you’ll be home.
Mackenzie: How do you file US taxes while living abroad?
Graeme: Looking to do Europe next year from April to September and thinking of mainly camping with WWOOF. Do you have any experience with that?
I haven’t WWOOFed but this post by Sophie can help. She’s done it. You could ask her for more information!
Allyson: What’s the most overrated city?
In my opinion, Krakow. It’s nice but everyone talks about it as if it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I liked it, but there are a lot of places in Europe that are just like it.
Jacinta: Which are the easiest countries for Americans to be expats in?
Any country you fit into! Your nationality isn’t as important as how you feel about a place. Find a place you love and you’ll be all set.
Kristi Scutella: I’m heading to Iceland in 2 weeks, driving Ring Road, and camping for 10 days. What’s on your must-do list? Any last-minute tips?
Lots of tips! Check out my Iceland guide. I did the same trip last year! It’s amazing. You’ll have a lot of fun.
Mike: What are your personal experiences (and/or other long-term travelers’) with malaria pills and other vaccinations?
I get all the vaccinations a doctor or country requires. I don’t mess around with my health. I took malaria pills in Africa. They gave me funky dreams.
Laura: My daughter and I are going to Europe for two weeks this June and I am concerned about the packing list. Any tips on how to pack light?
Sure do! Here’s my suggested list!
Matt: How do you avoid handing your passport over to a hotel or car/scooter rental?
I try to give them a copy of my passport or another form of ID. Sometimes that doesn’t work though. It’s not likely they will steal your passport though!
Sonja: What sense (sight, smell, etc.) do you value most while traveling? For me, it’s sight. I’m obsessed with taking pictures!
Listening. I like to hear the world around me!
Allan: When are you going to the Philippines?
If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments! I’ll be happy to answer them!