The Easiest Way To Notice You’re In A New Country: Birds

Birds can help you truly experience a country

Birds are extremely unique animals. I never used to pay much attention to pigeons while living in New York City. It is only once you start traveling that you begin to realize how unique pigeons are, and birds in general. Having traveled throughout Asia, and now South Africa, places with noticeably loud birds, I have begun to appreciate them so much more.


Some birds, like the South African kwêvoël or the Hadada ibis, make me laugh whenever they sound their mating calls. The birds of Bali made me want to sing. The birds in Shenzhen reminded me that I wasn’t only surrounded by buildings and cameras.


When traveling, notice the different animals around you, especially the birds. It is the fastest way to realize how different a place can be from your hometown.


Image Credit: Unsplash


Without Flexibility Most Plans Fail

Can you find the opportunities?

When flights are canceled, travel bans are declared, and all of the toilet paper has been claimed—how prepared are you to change your plans? Things may seem stressful and that’s because they actually are. Yet, you are sharing this experience with the rest of the word.


Other people are struggling and because of that, you can find solace in the fact that you can connect with others who are experiencing similar problems. Now is the time to reach out and connect, with family, friends, and strangers.


If you’re forced to stay home, take advantage of it. Redecorate the house, play board games with your kids, and start up a new hobby. There is an abundance of opportunity during these trying times. The hard part is figuring out what these opportunities are.


I was planning on traveling to South Africa to wait out the spread of the virus but, now I have to stay in SouthEast Asia. Instead of staying sad, I’ve decided to take advantage of my situation and start reaching out to hotels in the area to gain extra work.


I’m going to use this moment to try and get new clients, that’s the approach I’ve decided to take. What is something you can do right now to make this moment better?


Image Credit: Unsplash


The Plastic In Our Lives: An Issue Easily Ignored

Photo: Image of Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia. February 27th, 2020.

It is in your body right now

Each week, you are walking around with a credit card. This credit card is not in your pocket, safely stored in your wallet or a purse. This credit card is in your stomach, in the form of plastic granules. Every week you could be consuming 1,769 particles of plastic every week from water alone. You could also be consuming this plastic from that salmon steak you had at your favorite restaurant or from the fruit you buy at your favorite grocery store.


We all know of the negative effects that plastic is having on the environment and even if we are aware of the negative effects it has on our bodies, we still continue to use it.


Straws are being banned in most restaurants but, that hasn’t halted straw manufacturing. Even if you know that turtles are dying from plastic, that won’t curtail your use of it. Even if you know that you’re swallowing thousands of plastic particles a week, you won’t be able to detect the source of those particles.


There are benefits to plastic

There are many benefits that we get from using plastic. Plastic containers allow for more distribution of food across societies. Without plastic, it would be harder to get food from major supermarket chains.


Plastic also helps to ensure that we don’t get sick from the food and drinks we consume. It prevents harmful bacteria from getting into our bodies.


The global plastic industry is also extremely lucrative. If you work in distribution or manufacturing you could have a share of a $16.7 billion pie by 2023. Plastic is used in the food, packaging, construction, electrical, and transportation industries.


Plastic is used in almost every facet of our lives, this is why there is a lot of friction when it comes to asking society to stop using it. Until it becomes more lucrative to create a biodegradable replacement to plastic, things won’t change. After all, change happens faster when there is a big financial incentive involved.


How removal is handled in Indonesia

An immediate example of how plastic removal isn’t effective in many countries is to look at the island of Bali, Indonesia. In beaches of Kuta and Uluwatu, what were once beautiful and clean surfing scenes, are now covered in trash.


One would assume that there would be a big financial incentive to the restaurants, surfing schools, and bars along the shore to invest in cleaning these beaches. Islands like these prosper from tourism, but it’s hard to make money from tourists if your beaches are dirty. However, whoever is in charge of cleaning has decided to simply drive trucks along the shore to bury the waste under the sand.


This method of “cleaning” certainly solves any cosmetic issues but, it doesn’t remove the plastic — which is what really has to happen. This highlights another underlying issue: there is a lack of global awareness when it comes to the effects of plastic.


Western countries, for the most part, seem to be more proactive when it comes to removing plastic from the oceans. I am confident that other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, will begin to direct their resources to removal but not any time soon.


I don’t know what I can do to help fix this problem. However, I also didn’t know how bad this problem was until I saw it firsthand. If the beaches in Indonesia are as bad as they are currently, I wouldn’t be surprised that there are other countries with the same problem — handling it the same way.


Budgeting For Travel: Prioritizing Your Spending To Maximize Your Fun

Spending your money without a plan will keep your adventures short

When budgeting for travel expenses, especially when your trip is more than a month-long, requires a detailed plan. If you allocate too much money to the wrong categories, you will end up returning home faster than you wanted to.


Your travel budget should be organized with the following categories, listed from the highest priority to the lowest:

  1. Transportation
  2. Accommodation
  3. Traveler’s Insurance
  4. Food
  5. Personal Hygiene
  6. Laundry
  7. Data & VPN
  8. Recreation
  9. Alcohol
  10. Clothing
  11. Souvenirs


Your transportation costs should always be your first priority because, without money for a train or flight, you aren’t going anywhere. You could decide to go on a long trek into the wilderness by foot but, even then you should invest in the proper hiking gear ahead of time.


The bag you travel with is also included in this spending category because how much you bring will determine how smooth your trip is. The more space you have in your bag, the more stuff you will bring along with you. Too much stuff can lead to traveling with a heavy bag and that is the last thing you want when on a long-term trip. Travel light and with only a few essentials.


I travel with a week’s worth of clothes, my laptop for work (you won’t need this if you aren’t working while traveling), and a few books. The heaviest part of my load is my book collection and I could still save space by buying a kindle.


Budgeting for the right accommodation helps to prevent you from staying up all night because your bed is as hard as a brick. If you buy cheap, you get cheap and the effects tend to ruin the entire trip overall.


You don’t need to book four to five-star hotel rooms to get comfort, there are many great and affordable hostels. Just always make sure you read as many reviews as possible and go price-shopping on more than one platform before booking your room.

Traveler’s insurance provides peace of mind

It goes without saying that if you aren’t prepared for the worst-case scenario, you will always be at risk of not returning after your trip. There are a ton of travelers insurance companies that provide very affordable plans. I don’t recommend purchasing a plan unless you’re traveling abroad for more than a month.


It is better to have spent money on insurance and not need it, than to need it and not have it. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a hospital bed in the middle of Thailand and you’re stuck with an $800 bill that you can’t get reimbursed.


Having a food budget is essential for, without food, you won’t be traveling for long periods of time. Fasting can help you save money while traveling, and help you to avoid traveler’s diarrhea, but you will need to eat eventually. The best way to save money is to avoid fast-food chains and stick to the local cuisine. After all, what better way is there to learn about another culture than by eating their food?


Personal hygiene and your laundry are next in this list because there are certain liberties you can take here while traveling. So long as you have the essentials covered — toothpaste, deodorant, body soap, lotion, and feminine products — you should be fine.


Don’t pack these items when traveling. Buy them in the country that you’re traveling to. They will be cheaper and you don’t run the risk of having a bottle open accidentally in your bag and spilling onto your clothes.


Laundry services tend to be cheap but, if you’re really trying to save money pack a sink plug and a climbing rope. These two tools can cost you less than $40 and you can use them to wash your clothes by hand and then air-dry them outside of your room (I discovered this hack through author Rolf Potts).

You can survive without wifi, it’s possible

Having a secure and constant stream of connectivity to the internet is important, but only if you’re working while traveling. You shouldn’t need to have constant access to social media or your email while on a trip, stay in the moment and enjoy the details of where you are.


Most coffee shops and hostels have free wifi and unless you frequently need to check your bank accounts, you won’t need to buy a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs are only useful in countries such as China that censor the internet.

Do you need that extra drink?

Your budget for recreation is mainly for any kind of tourist activities that you want to do, such as snorkeling or guided tours around a city. There are ways to have fun in a country without a tour guide or travel agency but, this usually requires that you meet and hang out with the locals.


Alcohol should be separated from your recreation budget as it can often eat up your budget faster than you think. If you enjoy nights out and having a couple of cocktails, keep to once per week.


Lastly, if you ever need to buy clothes because one of your pants ripper or if you want to buy little trinkets to bring back home, I usually allocate at the most, 5% of my total budget for these types of expenses.


I personally don’t like to buy new clothes unless I absolutely need to and prefer taking my clothes to a dry cleaner or tailor for repairs. And I never buy souvenirs because they take up space in your bag.


Your budget may not reflect these categories and how they are organized but, you should know which ones are most important to you. Proper preparation prevents poor performance, and even though you cannot prepare yourself for every surprise that will happen during your trip, you should try to mitigate any stress over finances. Budgeting for travel should be one of the first steps you take before leaving home — second only to picking which country you want to go to.


4 Reasons Why You Are Not Traveling

Knowing Your Barriers For Acting Is Half Of The Battle

There are many reasons that can stop you from traveling the world. Once you know what they are, you can convince yourself that it is possible.


You’re dependent on getting your vacation days approved

If you don’t want to dream about traveling anymore, you have to start removing the limitations in your life. The first one to start removing is your employer. I’m not advocating that you submit your letter of resignation tomorrow, but you should start by setting up an automated deposit to your savings account. If you have a financial plan that you’re committed to, that will decrease the dependency you have on your employer.


Long-term travel doesn’t necessitate that you quit your job but, in most cases that is what you will need to do. Some employers will allow you to take a six-month break or sabbatical, but that tends to only happen with mid-level to senior-level managers. There is a risk involved in leaving your job to go travel the world but, if they truly see your value they will keep an open spot for you in the future. If they don’t want to hire you when you come back, they are losing out on a better version of who you are.


You’re scared of not being with your friends and family

When you travel for a long time, you will also sacrifice time spent with friends and family. You won’t be there for the birthdays, barbecues, and weekend Netflix binging sessions at your cousin’s house. Yet, what you will gain from your experience traveling will match, and sometimes transcend moments spent with your loved ones.


You’ll be able to come back with a bunch of cool stories to share with your friends and family. Even better, you may even inspire some of them to start their own adventures.


You’re worried that taking a pause on your career will set you back

You don’t need to put a pause on your career while traveling. Becoming a digital nomad can be an option you can explore if you prepare in advance by finding remote work. There are a ton of digital nomads in the world who find their jobs by researching Youtube to discover what’s available and then using LinkedIn, Craigslist, Monster, AngelList, and other job platforms to find work. It will take time but, if a hypothetical hiring manager’s opinion of your resume gap is your biggest concern, don’t worry.


You can also use your travels to augment your resume. Highlighting what skills you learned during your experiences — negotiating, time management, and budgeting — can help you stand out during your next interview.


You’re afraid of traveling because it seems dangerous

The most dangerous places in the world tend to only be dangerous because the news needs to grab your attention. Most scams in any country can be researched prior to your trip (Youtubers love doing “Top 10 Scams” videos).


Traveling helps you gain a better sense of awareness for your surroundings, the point is to leave home even if you’re scared. Locals in other countries treat travelers kindly for the most part, but it is also imperative that you research local customs and etiquette before arriving at your destination.


Finding all the reasons for not traveling can be a somewhat insurmountable task. There are definitely more reasons that you can use to convince yourself not to leave. However, traveling is accessible to all of us if we are only willing to take the first step. The first step is usually just saying, “it’s possible.” Then simply use the internet to start researching and preparing. This is when you begin making the dream practical and achievable.

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