Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis: A Photo Diary

The Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis are both only a few hours away from Lima, and make for a perfect weekend trip from the city. Water, sun, and sand are very different from the mountain treks and high altitude hikes we are used to in Peru, but I’m definitely not complaining! Check out our photos from the weekend, and click here to get all the travel details!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Reasons to Visit Belize

A few years back, I spent a couple of months teaching and traveling in Belize. Before I left for the country, I basically knew nothing about it.

For those who have never heard of it, it’s a tiny little country around the size of New Hampshire and with a population of less than 400,000 people. Although it may be small, there’s a ton of stuff to do.

Here are five reasons why you should visit Belize.

 

#1 You Can Get Around With English

For those who don’t speak a language aside from English, traveling in a foreign country can be a little bit intimidating. While many people in a lot of countries speak some English, it can still be tough to communicate exactly what you want or need. However, you don’t need to worry about that if you visit Belize. 

In fact, English is their national language.

As a former British colony, the language that they learn and use in the public school system is English. With that said, you’ll likely hear a bunch of different languages depending on where you are in the country. Belizean Creole is probably the language that’s used most widely, but you’ll also hear a lot of Spanish depending on where you are (in addition to more indigenous languages).

 

#2 The Local Culture is Still intact

In a world that is increasingly globalized (read: Americanized), it’s refreshing to visit a country in which the local culture is still very much intact. In Belize, you won’t find many American establishments.

As of 2016, there were 36,899 McDonalds restaurants in 120 different countries… but not one in Belize.

You can basically count on beans, rice, and seafood everywhere you go. Despite not having the best food scene in the world, you truly leave everything that you have at home and enter into a different world when you travel to Belize.

 

 

#3 The Beaches are Incredible

Whether you’re in the north or south of Belize, you’re always close to beautiful beaches when you visit this country. There are beaches like Placencia in the south with a seemingly endless amount of islands (cayes) that you can visit. I only made it to Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, but you also have St. George’s Caye, Tobacco Caye, Long Caye, and many many more.

Also, if you’re into diving, you can also visit one of the most famous diving sites in the world: the Great Blue Hole. Although I didn’t get to visit while I was there, I’ve only heard amazing things.

Seriously, look it up.

 

#4 It’s Easy to Travel

Getting places in Belize is simple.

There are basically only five major paved roads, and the country is tiny. If you need to go somewhere, just hop onto one of the many buses that run throughout the country. On these old school buses from the U.S., you can get almost anywhere in the country in less than a day of traveling, and for a pretty reasonable price too. Just a fair warning though, the buses can get pretty crowded during peak times (and by that I mean strangers basically sitting on top of you).

If you want something more comfortable, you can always take the taxis (or a helicopter if you’re really feeling yourself).

 

#5 Nature

Let’s put it this way; Belize is not developed.

They aren’t really an industrialized nation, they don’t have a ton of commerce, and their population density is super low. While this doesn’t make for a prosperous nation (not yet, at least), it does mean that much of their nature has been left untouched. As wildlife is one of the biggest attractions for tourists in the country, the government works hard to protect their forests, wild animals, and birds.

In fact, Belize is home to the world’s only (as far as I know) jaguar preserve.

If you want to explore beautiful rainforest and incredible animals in their natural habitats, Belize is the place for you.

 

The Takeaway

Although a little-known country to many, Belize is one of the most underrated places that I’ve been. It doesn’t get nearly as much love on the tourist circuit as somewhere like Costa Rica or Nicaragua, but it’s one of the most unique countries in the world in that much of the country is relatively untouched.

If you want a unique, authentic travel experience, you should definitely visit Belize.

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My 5 Favorite Things About Traveling

I love traveling.

After I left the country and taught English for two months in Belize, I knew that I wanted to keep doing it after college. Since then, Di and I have found different ways to travel over the last three years.

We started by teaching English in Abu Dhabi for two years and were able to travel to several countries.  We then kept it going by working remotely as freelance writers. Over these three to four years of traveling, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world.

Here are my five favorite things about traveling.

 

1. Trying New Food

Numero uno. Food. There’s a lot of downtime when you’re traveling full-time and working. The best thing to do in that time? Eat. Whether you’re traveling in your own country or abroad, there are always new restaurants, foods, and beers to try. Some of our favorites have been limonada de cocos in Medellin and ceviche in Lima (I didn’t even know what ceviche was before I moved here. Now, I love it.)

 

2. Making Myself Uncomfortable

It’s easy to fall into my same routine every day. Wake up, work a little bit, read for a bit, watch TV, go to sleep. One of the best things about traveling is that there is always something new to try. Something that takes me out of my comfort zone.

In Belize, it was that I was living and teaching in a village of people experiencing poverty that I had never seen before.

In Abu Dhabi, it was a lot of things. There was a new culture, a new (read: barren) landscape, blatant racism, and overindulgence at every turn.

In South America, it’s the absence of English. I’ve never lived somewhere where almost nobody spoke English. I’ve had to learn a lot of Spanish and get comfortable speaking in a different language.

At every turn, there’s something to learn about myself and the world around me. Which brings me to my next point…

Read: The Truth About Traveling Full Time

 

3. Everything is New

Traveling makes me feel like I’m a kid again. When you’re a kid, everything is new. You’ve never been to the park down the street, you’ve never been to your parent’s favorite restaurant, you’ve never seen your favorite band play live. Over time, that magic fades. You go to the same restaurant or bar every Friday, you go to the local park every Saturday, you go to the same breakfast spot on Sunday. Rinse, repeat.

For me, travel helps keep the spark alive.

I get lost in a new city, hear a different culture’s music, wonder why there’s fireworks and parades every single day (looking at you, Peru), and experience the world much in the way that I did as a kid.

 

4. I Appreciate Home More

Despite what I say about the magic fading when I fall into routine, one thing that traveling has done for me is that it’s helped me learn to appreciate everything that I have at home that much more. When I’ve been out of the country for eight or ten months, there comes a point where all that I can think about is home.

Skyline Chili, baseball games, football games, backyard cookouts, parties, ice cubes (and fresh, clean water) from a refrigerator, pasteurized milk in a jug, and everything else that makes home such a great place (like my family and friends, I guess).

There’s nothing like leaving the country for an extended period of time to help me appreciate the little things that I can only find at home.

 

5. Nothing Really Matters

 When you’re living out of a backpack, people come to have certain expectations about you.

Maybe they think that you’ve worn the same clothes for a few days or a week without washing them. Maybe they think that you don’t have a stable career path. Maybe they think that you’re flaky. Those expectations are what makes life traveling that much easier.

Since people already expect it, I go ahead and wear the same clothes without washing them for several days. Since people already think I’m flaky, I don’t have to have a cell phone plan. Since people don’t think I have a stable career path, I don’t really have to explain what I do.

In essence, I don’t have to worry about a lot of the small things that I would have to worry about if I were at home in a normal living situation.

 

As I travel more and am exposed to new cultures, foods, languages, and people around the world, I can’t imagine who I would be if I had never left home.

Let us know what you love the most about traveling in the comments section below!

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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Working Remotely

Working remotely is something that I wanted to do for a long time. I’m not someone who necessarily enjoys living in one place or going into the same office every day. Although I like having a daily routine to stay productive, I like to be able to do it from wherever I want without anyone looking over my shoulder. Now that I’ve done it for a little over a year now, I love it.

But there’s a few things that I wish I knew before I started working remotely.

If you’re thinking about making the leap into remote work, here are 5 things that you should know before you get started.

 

1. I Still Work 9-5

Before I started working remotely, I had this idea in my head that I would be able to work whatever hours I wanted. However, that didn’t last long. After working remotely for a little bit, I realized that I need to work the typical 9-5 hours for two reasons:

The first reason is that I need to be able to communicate with my clients. Since most of them are based out of the United States, the easiest schedule for me to be on is 9-5.

The second reason is that keeping a schedule keeps me in a routine. I wake up at 7:30, eat breakfast, mess around on the internet for a bit, and then I start working. Having this routine allows me to stay productive.

 

2. It Can Be Isolating

Working from home is great. I don’t have a commute, I have all the food I want right next to me, I have the gym to myself in the middle of the day, and there’s nobody around me telling me what to do.

But the social aspect is lacking.

When you work from home, you don’t have coworkers. You also can go days at a time without leaving your home during the day. Unless you have the money for a nice co-working space, you have to make an effort to get out of your home and socialize. If you aren’t living in your home country, that can be difficult sometimes.

 

3. If You’re Freelancing, Your Money Fluctuates A Lot

I got a little bit lucky when I first started freelancing and working remotely. A pretty reliable stream of work fell into my lap, and money wasn’t really an issue. A few months in, that client disappeared. Just completely ghosted.

That was around $1,000 per month that just stopped coming in one day.

Ever since then, it’s been difficult to find clients that pay well and stick around. I might make $400-$500 one week and then $100 the next. There’s just no real way to predict how much I’m going to make. If you’re planning on freelancing, you’ll need to get creative with your spending and smart with your budgeting.

 

4. You’ll Work With Some Frustrating People

 When you start working remotely, you don’t necessarily work with the best people or companies right away. Unless you’re an experienced developer or programmer, you’re going to find that the people who want to pay remote workers (especially freelancers) are trying to save as much money as possible.

That means, unless you have a lot of experience in your field, you’re going to be working with bottom of the barrel type stuff. They might be ass holes, they might be unreliable, and they might try to take your work for free. You just have to protect yourself as best as possible.

5. It’s a Ton of Fun

 In my head, I imagined a remote work life as being really fun, but it’s even more fun than I could have imagined. I don’t have to sit in traffic in a commute every morning, I can go out for lunch or coffee whenever I want, I take half days when I want, I take days off when I want, and I have time to work on other projects (like this) that interest me.

Best of all, I have the freedom to travel when I want.

Since I started working remotely, I’ve traveled through multiple cities and countries, and lived for 6 months in Colombia and 4 months in Peru. So, despite the drawbacks, working remotely is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. If you’re thinking of taking the leap into the remote work and freelancing fields, do it. You just might love it.

Read: How to Start a Digital Marketing Business While Traveling the World

 

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Colombia vs. Peru: Which Should You Visit?

South America.

It’s one of the most diverse continents in the world and a great destination for travelers of all types.

Two of the most popular destinations on the continent are Colombia and Peru. To give you a bit of background about my experience with the countries, we spent six months in Colombia in the first half of 2017 and will have spent over four months in Peru by the time we return home in November.

And I’ve loved both.

However, when people are deciding to visit South America, Colombia vs. Peru is one of the most common comparisons. While I definitely recommend that you visit both if time allows, that just isn’t an option for a lot of people. Let’s take a look at which one might be for you.

 

Tourist Attractions

If you’re a backpacker on a long-term trip, this one might not matter as much to you as it might for someone on a shorter trip. However, tourist attractions are fun for everyone, no matter what type of traveler you are.

During our time in Colombia, I found that tourist attractions weren’t really that big of a thing. Some of the most popular are:

  • The Walled City of Cartagena
  • Anything Pablo Escobar
  • Tayrona National Park
  • Monserrate in Bogota
  • Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira
  • Medellin Cable Car

While there are certainly others, these are just some of the most common that tourists tend to visit. We spent most of our time in Medellin, though, where there is very little in the way of tourist attractions.

Read: What to do in Medellin

After spending six-months in Colombia, landing in Peru was like landing in a tourist wonderland. It seems like everywhere you go there are a ton of different options for tourists. I could list tourist attractions in Peru for days, but some of the most popular are:

And the list goes on.

There’s really no question about who has the better tourist attractions since Machu Picchu alone blows away everything that Colombia has.

Colombia vs. Peru Tourism Winner: Peru

 

Infrastructure

Infrastructure is particularly relevant for those traveling long-term.

I’ll start by saying that Colombia has a metro. That alone is something special in South America. They also have nice shopping malls, high-quality medical care, modern highways, a range of grocery stores, and easy access to cheap flights ($45 USD round trip between Medellin and Bogota).

Peru isn’t quite on that level.

While I love Peru, the infrastructure just isn’t there yet. Although there are some cheap flights available, busses are the most common mode of transportation for most people, including tourists. From what I’ve seen, the roads, malls, and grocery stores are all a little bit lower quality in Peru as compared to Colombia.

Colombia vs. Peru Infrastructure Winner: Colombia

 

 

Ease of Tourism

Like I said about Colombia, there just isn’t a whole lot in the way of tourism. I think a lot of that is due in part to the fact that they are still coming out of one of the longest civil wars in modern history.

Having spent six months based out of Medellin, I can tell you that there aren’t many options for people looking for tours. There are very few tourist agencies, and those that do exist are usually expensive. Most of the tourist stuff that you do in Colombia is stuff that you just do on your own.

In Peru, the tours never end. We spent two months in Cusco and didn’t even get to all the tours that we wanted to do. You have several options for treks to Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, the boleto touristico that gets you into multiple ruins and museums, the Sacred Valley, Huchuy Qosqo, and more.

That’s not even getting into everything else in the country, like climbing mountains in Huaraz, visiting Lake Titicaca, and more. There’s no question on this one.

Colombia vs. Peru Ease of Tourism Winner: Peru

 

Nightlife

One of the most attractive aspects of Colombia for many is the thriving nightlife. After spending time in Medellin, Bogota, and Cartagena, I can say that the reputation is well-deserving. Tourist hotspot Poblado in Medellin has the most active nightlife that I’ve seen all year, with bar crawls, craft beer, and plenty of nightclubs.

In Peru, I’ve found the nightlife to be lacking a little bit. Although there are a lot of great bars, night clubs, and breweries, I just haven’t seen anything yet that even comes close to a Friday or Saturday in Poblado or Zona Rosa in Colombia. Drinks are also generally more expensive in Peru than they are in Colombia.

Colombia vs. Peru Nightlife Winner: Colombia

 

Nature and Hiking

Before I went to Colombia, I thought that I was going to have easy access to all kinds of beautiful nature. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case in Medellin. Although it’s a beautiful city, the only real option to escape city life is Parque Arvi. Of course, there are other amazing parks and hiking in Medellin, but I just didn’t find it all to be as accessible as in Peru.

In Peru, going on anything from a day hike to an extended trek is super simple. There are countless agencies willing to take you out and provide all the gear, and most of them are reasonably priced. We’ve gone on a trip just about every weekend that we’ve been in the country. From walking through easily accessible ruins to scaling 19,000 ft. volcanos, there’s something for everyone in Peru.

Colombia vs. Peru Nature and Hiking Winner: Peru

 

Food

Much of my opinion about food in Colombia is colored around our stay in Medellin. There’s a lot of good Colombian food (especially the Bandeja Paisa), but there are a ton of really good international restaurants in Medellin as well. We could find everything from Vietnamese food to pizza to charcuterie to typical American fast food in Medellin. There was always something really great to eat no matter where you were in the city.

In Peru, I don’t think the food has been as good. Although I haven’t spent much time in Lima yet (one of the food capitals of the world), I think that there were just a few more good options in Colombia.

Colombia vs. Peru Food Winner: Colombia

 

Overall Winner in Colombia vs. Peru…

Although we end up at a 3-3 tie, I weigh some of these categories a bit heavier than others. For me, the outdoors and ease of access categories weigh heavily, and for that reason I choose Peru over Colombia.

If you’re someone who wants to have a wide range of activities at a very reasonable cost, there’s no question that Peru has more to offer than Colombia at this time.

 

If you’ve had the opportunity to visit Colombia and Peru, let us know what you think about this comparison in the comments section below!

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