Long Term Travel FAQ for a Digital Nomad

Thinking about working remote as a digital nomad? If so, this long term travel FAQ is for you. I’ve been traveling full time around the world for 14 months now, and I’ve learned so much along the way. From packing tips to where to buy flights and everything in between, here’s all your questions about long term travel answered!

 

How Long Should I Stay in Each City?

After a lot of trial and error, I’ve found what I think is the best length of time. Unless a place is truly amazing I like to spend 5 weeks in each city. So, what that looks like is:

Weekend one: Arrive on a Saturday night or Sunday
Weekend two, three, four, and five: four full weekends to explore the area
Weekend six: Travel to new city

We tried traveling on weekdays but with work it was just too annoying. Either trying to get stuff done on busses or flights, having to get work done ahead of time to make up for a lost day, or telling clients we’d be unavailable, it just wasn’t worth the hassle. Surprisingly, traveling on weekends hasn’t been any more expensive than on weekdays, and it’s so much more fun to arrive in a new city and hit the bars or have a day to explore instead being stuck inside with work.

We stayed six months in Medellin and that was WAY too long. Then we stayed two months in Cusco, and finally started just doing five week stays. With four full weekends, you can see the two or three most touristy things in an area, but still have time to get off the beaten path as well.

 

van driving on a road by mountiains

 

How Do I Book Accommodation?

Good question! I 100% recommend Airbnb, and it’s all that I use. It’s great because if you stay for one month or more, hosts almost always offer a discount, sometimes up to 50% off. We rented outside of it once in a foreign country, and it ended in disaster.

If you’re DEFINITELY set on staying off Airbnb (admittedly the prices are usually higher, but it’s a worthwhile trade off for security) then check out local Facebook groups to find a place to rent. Just search the city + expats, or rentals, and there are usually plenty of groups. For more info, read How to Rent an Apartment in a Foreign Country.

 

Taxes Seem Complicated… Explain Them.

No. Honestly, I’m definitely not qualified to help anyone with their taxes, so the only thing I’ll do is explain my own. When Daniel and I taught in the UAE, we did not have to pay taxes in the United States because we were out of the country for long enough each year (I think it’s like 330 days?) and because we did not make enough to be “double taxed” (the income amount is something like 90k).

Once we started freelancing, things changed. We filed as an LLC in the state of Ohio and all of our money from work went through one specific bank account that we then paid ourselves out of. Because we were an LLC we had to pay “estimated taxes” four times a year instead of just once.

I’m still freelancing and using this method of tax payment. No matter where I live in the world, I pay taxes to the US just like I’m living there. Daniel has a full time job now, and pays taxes in the US like normal too (despite us mostly being abroad).

Basically, if you are a freelancer, you will probably have to pay taxes in the US even if you never step foot inside it. If you have a full time job abroad, you probably will only pay taxes to the country you’re in, unless you still spend a lot of time in the US or are making mad money. BUT like I said, absolutely every situation is different and definitely research into your own job and finances. DO NOT take my word for it because I do not want to be sued! Thanks!

 

manor house on a lake

 

What Health Insurance Should I Use?

Ugh, health insurance. It’s different for every country, so this info is going to be targeted at Americans. When we first started traveling full time, I was on my parent’s health insurance still and didn’t need to do anything else because it covered me abroad.

Daniel was over age 26, so he purchased travel insurance. This covered him in every country EXCEPT the United States. The cost was around $250 for six months. This plan was great because we spent no time in the US in 2017 until November. (Be careful though, because some travel insurance carriers require you to also be covered with a US health insurance plan… make sure yours isn’t like this.)

When we returned to the US, neither of us were covered by a job because we were both freelancing, so I bought health insurance through Healthcare.gov. It was a crap plan for about $50 each per month and didn’t cover us while traveling. Soon, Daniel got a full-time job and with that came a healthcare plan in the US. We still have to buy travel insurance on top of it to be covered outside of the country though.

Basically your options are to get a US health insurance plan and double up with the travel insurance, OR if you’ll be abroad all year, find a travel insurance plan that does not require a US health insurance plan as well. If you’re planning to be in the US at all, it’s probably easiest to just pay for a cheap plan year round and get it off your plate.

PS This is only based on my own experience and should not be taken as fact, you should research everything before you choose the correct plan for yourself (aka don’t sue me).

 

shopping at an outdoor market

 

What Should I Pack?

The first time I left the US on a digital nomad, I packed wayyyyy too much. Keep it light, and you’ll be so much happier when you’re moving every month.

For clothes, I usually pack two or three dresses, a pair of jeans, a pair of leggings, four or five t-shirts, workout leggings, six to eight nice shirts, bra, sports bra, strapless bra, underwear, jean shorts, and pajama pants.

I also pack a cardigan and super lightweight fleece jacket.

Hiking boots, running shoes, and flip flops generally suffice, if you want “cute” shoes you can also pack a pair of fashionable boots as well.

Outside of this, I usually pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, and face wash (if you’re checking the bag), razors, sunscreen, hair ties, bobby pins, and medicine (call your insurance ahead of time and sometimes you can pick up three, six, or even 12 months of your prescription early).

Finally, throw in a kindle or a couple books, laptop, phone, portable power pack, a speaker, all chargers and cords, a deck of cards, wallet, jewelry, and sunglasses, and you’re good to go.

 

romanian church and old town under fog

 

How Do You Decide Which Countries to Visit?

The AWESOME thing about long term travel as a digital nomad is that pretty much nowhere is off limits. There are sooo many places that I want to explore that I actually sometimes get really overwhelmed when I have to choose just one for our next stop. These are the steps I usually take when deciding which countries to visit, and some things you definitely need to keep in mind.

Flights

First things first, look for the cheap flights. I always compare prices on flights with Skyscanner, and search from the major airports around me to “everywhere.” I live in Ohio, so I always check flights from Cincinnati, Chicago, and Detroit to find the best deals. If you live near major hubs sometimes its worth using them to save money, especially if you’re traveling for a long period of time.

Accommodation

After you’ve narrowed down the countries that are affordable to get to, it’s time to check on the accommodations. Like stated above, I always use Airbnb. So, search the cities you’ll be staying in for the dates you’ll be there. Are there a lot of options that look nice and affordable? If there’s only one or two listed in the area, that will be a risk.

Cost of Living

The next step is to check the cost of living in the options you’re looking at. Just because Norway is $100 cheaper to get to than Romania, it doesn’t mean it makes financial sense to choose it. You should also make sure it’s a good city to live in. Google things to do there, restaurants, nightlife, and day trips to make sure there’s plenty to fill your time.

If flights, cost of living, and accommodation all check out, you need to make sure internet speeds in the city are good before you move there. Finally, check out the visa situation to ensure you can stay long term, and don’t need to take any extra steps to be approved to visit.

Once this is ALL finished I book the flight and accommodation, usually a couple months ahead of time. Everything else like local transport and planning what to do waits until we arrive.

 

blue and yellow houses with bikes outside

 

How Can I Work and Make Money While I Travel?

There are plenty of different ways to do this. If you want to work abroad you can teach in Dubai with very little qualifications, or get a job working on a yacht. If you don’t want to be tied to a location, no matter how exotic it may be, you can become a freelance writer or digital marketer, or teach ESL classes online. Visit the Working Abroad page to learn more and see step by step guides for each one.

 

How Can You Live and Work in Different Timezones?

Timezones are seriously the lamest. They suck, I know. For the first 14 months that we worked remote as digital nomads, we stayed in timezones close to the US in Colombia, Peru, and Mexico. Daniel has a full time job and is tied to the American nine to five.

We’re throwing caution to the wind though, and in the spring we’re heading to Eastern Europe, where our work day will be from 4pm to midnight…. yeah. I’ll report back and let you know how that works out. I actually think it might not be too bad but we’ll see.

As a digital marketer and writer I have had clients in England, Singapore, the Philippines, and Australia, so working outside of your client’s timezone is definitely possible, it just slows down communication a bit. If you really have your heart set on traveling Asia, your best bet is to teach ESL classes online, because you will be working within Chinese timezones.

 

Biltmore Estate

 

Do You Have Any Travel Products You Recommend?

Yes, definitely! Some stuff I really love and use all the time is listed below:

Osprey Backpack

This bad boy is the BEST. It’s pricey for sure, but definitely worth the investment. The Osprey Farpoint 55 is all I use.

Some reasons why it’s amazing are first, it’s carry on sized for most major airlines (not budget ones though) so we can save money on checked bags. Also, it has a second small backpack that you can zip to it! I use the large bag to store all my stuff when moving from one place to the other and for long camping and hiking trips, but I still have the small bag for day to day use.

Did I mention that the entire front opens like a suitcase, so you don’t have to go digging into it every time you need something like a traditional backpack? And finally, Osprey products have a life time warranty, so you can always get it replaced if something goes wrong. If you want to become a digital nomad a rolling suitcase just isn’t gonna cut it. This Osprey bag has everything you need for long term travel.

Vibrant All in One Travel Bottle

I got this for Christmas and am so obsessed. I love the sleek look, and functionally it’s even better. This thermos keeps hot water hot for SO LONG, and cold stuff cold for ages. It also has a strainer at the top to make fruit infused water (my new obsession) or steep tea. For a day to day water bottle, I couldn’t ask for more.

Timberland Boots

The first time I bought hiking boots I was in the UAE. We went from mall, to mall, to mall because all the stores had the tiniest female selections and sold boots almost only for men! So sexist. I finally found a pair of Timberlands. They were expensive and I was on the fence, but I pretty much had no other choice but to buy them.

That was three years ago in Spring 2015 and they’re still going strong. The boots are cute, comfy, and seriously hold up on even the toughest hikes. I wore them on a seven day trek through the Himalayas in Nepal, on the Santa Cruz and Salkantay four and five day treks through the mountains of Peru, scaled a 19,000 f.t volcano in them, and walked through the streets of Europe for miles at a time. They still feel like new even after all that. It’s love.

UE Boom Speaker

Daniel introduced me to the world of quality sound and speakers, and I can’t go back now. We often stay in Airbnb’s with crappy TVs or even no TV, and watch shows on our laptops. Even just for music day to day, this speaker is amazing.

The bluetooth speaker is easy to use and carry around with us, it’s water proof, and the sound quality is amazing. Even after getting chucked in our bags and dragged from country to country over the last year, it still works perfectly.

Sprint International Phone Plan

Nomadic Matt recommends the TMobile plan for international travelers, but I heartily disagree. I vetted TMobile, Verizon, and AT&T before I made my choice, and Sprint has far and away the cheapest plan. I get to keep my US number, have unlimited calls and texts to any country in the world, and 1gb of international data. When I get back to the US, I also have 2gb of domestic data.

Landing in a new country, switching on my phone, and immediately having data is honestly the height of luxury and makes travel SO easy. Just having GPS in our day to day life abroad is invaluable. I definitely recommend the Sprint International plan for all digital nomads and long term travelers.

 

 

How Much Money Will I Spend?

Pretty much as much or as little as you want. It REALLY depends on the country you choose. One month in London is going to cost a lot more than one month in Bolivia.

If you’re trying to keep the budget down, it’s important to find the line between a country with a low cost of living that’s also safe and has fast, or at least usable, internet. If you’d like to know more about what the budget of a digital nomad looks like, check out my breakdowns for six months in Colombia, two months in Cusco, and one month in Mexico.

 

From one digital nomad to another, this long term travel FAQ will answer questions you didn’t even know you had. Understanding health insurance, budgeting, and what to pack while living on the road full time is definitely important to making a successful transition into a full time digital nomad.

Do you travel long term? Comment below with any tips and advice I missed! And if you’re just getting started in this lifestyle, feel free to message me with questions any time!

All my love,
Di

 

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The Complete Guide to Playa del Carmen Coworking Spaces

The rise of remote working has also lead to a massive rise in coworking spaces in the past few years. I’ve worked from home for the past year and a half, so I know sometimes you can go crazy sitting in your house all day. Daniel and I are living in Playa del Carmen for one month, so we decided to try out the four Playa del Carmen coworking spaces in the area. Here’s my review of each (and how you can get a free day pass to them!)

 

Nest Coworking

Location: Avenida 10 Mza 31 Lote 6, Col. Centro Between 12th and 14th streets
Cost: $15 per day, $75 week, or $250 per month. You can also buy a 4 hour pass for $7
Website: www.coworkingnest.com
Free 1 Day Pass: Click Here!
Wifi:
Fast and no problems. They have a bit of a complicated set up that requires getting a personal login and code to access it, but it only took a couple minutes.
Vibe: I really liked the vibe here. It is open with high ceilings and large spaces. There were about 10 people there when we arrived in the morning, and it felt lively without being too crowded.

 

Nest Coworking outdoor space

 

If you book one day here, you receive free coffee and tea, as well as some small snacks like cereal and milk. You also get 10 copies from their printer and use of lockers.

If you book one week, you get 50 copies as well as 1 hour of use in the boardroom and 20% off classes they offer.

Finally, if you book one month you receive discounts to local events and tours, a local mailing address to receive packages, 100 copies, 5 hours of boardroom use and 20% off conference room costs. The weekly and monthly plans come with 24/7 access to the space.

Most Comfortable Playa del Carmen Coworking Space

This space was cool because it had multiple different areas. The downstairs was the common area that is more relaxed, with tables, couches, and even a counter to use as a standing desk, as well as plenty of outlets.

Second was the outdoor courtyard. It had a table, comfortable chairs, and even a hammock to chill in. It was quiet and nice to be able to write while also enjoying the fresh air.

Finally there was the upstairs area. It was for focused work and it’s a quiet space without talking or phone calls. There were even private cubicles for serious seclusion, as well as private large offices with monitors that you can rent out for $25/hour. For large meetings they also have conference rooms you can rent for the same price.

I give this place 5 stars! We used it for a day and loved it. The location is in the heart of Playa del Carmen’s downtown area, and it’s easy to walk from here to the beach or restaurants after work. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area.

 

Cowork-In

Location: Avenida Aviación, between av 50 and av 10, Calle 7 south, Mza 29, lot
4, Fracc 26, local 1., Playacar phase II
Cost: $13 for a day, $67 for a week, and $241 per month. You can also pay hourly for $2.50/hr.
Website: www.coworkinplaya.com
Free One Day Pass: Click here!
Wifi: Fast, we had zero problems with it.
Vibe: Definitely more serious than Nest. It was quiet and felt like an office more than a community space.

 

Shared space at Cowork In

 

The Cowork-In space was small, but had everything we needed. There are two large tables and counters to work at in the main room, couches, a small patio out front, standing desks, and private offices and a conference room. As long as the offices or conference room aren’t scheduled and taken, you can use them for calls. With the daily rates listed above though, free/guaranteed use of the offices isn’t included and requires a higher payment. The weekly rate includes an hour use of the conference room, and the monthly rate includes five hours of scheduled use. All of them include copies as well.

We also liked the kitchen and free coffee and cookies here. It felt very focused and is definitely designed to bring out the productive part of you (no matter how small that may be haha).

Perfect for Workers Staying in Playacar

Some benefits of the Cowork-In space is that it is close to the popular Playacar Community, and the monthly plan comes with 24/7 access to the space.

Some things I didn’t like were that it is small, so there’s less of a variety of spaces to choose from like we had at Nest, and is also farther away from the downtown area. To get to the shops, restaurants, and beaches of Playa del Carmen, you will need to take a taxi. There were also some loud planes overhead at times because it’s near the airport.

The Cowork-in space was good. Of the four Playa del Carmen coworking spaces, this one is ideal for people staying Playacar, or for those who want a quiet, serious, and focused workplace away from the distractions of downtown Playa del Carmen.

 

Work Zone

Location: Av. Colosio # 459, Mz 1 Lte 46, Santa Fe, Playa del Carmen
Cost: $11/day, $54/week, and $135/month. You can also get a 3 days/week plan for $81/month. This is the most budget friendly option by far.
Website: www.oficinascompartidas.com
Free Day Pass: Click here!
Wifi: The wifi went out a few times in the morning, but then we had no issues for the rest of the day. I’m not sure if it was a one time thing or not.
Vibe: My favorite so far! The owner was extremely welcoming, and I could tell that a lot of the people working there got to know each other and became friends. It was really relaxed.

 

Work Zone Coworking common space

 

Work Zone is built into a house. So, it has a back yard with hammocks and tables, private office and conference room, a big kitchen, some shared spaces, and even a chill room upstairs with a TV and Wii. They also have a closet full of games and a ping pong table to take a break with.

The location is outside of the main downtown area, but easy to take a taxi to. I liked how flexible and friendly the owner was. You can get a 3/day per week pass, you can come in late at night, basically I get the feeling that whatever kind of schedule you’re looking for, he would be happy to help you make it happen.

Most Social Playa del Carmen Coworking Space

My favorite part of Work Zone is the relaxed vibe. If you want to use a coworking space for business, but also to make connections and friends in the area, this is the one for you. There was also a cute little coffee truck just a few steps away from the space.

My least favorite part of Work Zone was the wifi issues we had in the morning, although the place was packed and everyone seemed to be regulars, so I’m inclined to believe thats not a normal occurrence.

All in all, I really liked Work Zone, and out of the four Playa del Carmen coworking spaces, it’s one of my favorites because of the social aspect. The price is good, and the community vibe was nice. Recommended!

 

Altus Business and Coworking

Location: Av. C.T.M 20, Luis Donaldo Colosio, 77728 Playa del Carmen, Q.R.
Cost: $15/day, $150 for two weeks, and $235 per month.
Website: www.altusmx.com
Free Tour (no day passes here): Click here!
Wifi: I didn’t use it, but based on the quality of the space my guess is that the wifi is great too.
Vibe: Without a doubt the nicest and most professional of the four spaces. This one looks like a high end office in the US.

 

office space at altus business and coworking in playa del carmen

 

Altus is pretty cool. It’s definitely the nicest of the four Playa del Carmen coworking spaces. This one is good for people who seriously need to get work DONE, and who want a nice office space to meet clients in. I only took the tour and did not work here, but when I was there it was very quiet. Some people were working in the private offices, but no one was in the shared work space.

I talked to one man who has been renting an office here for nine months and he said he loves it because the location is great (right in downtown Playa del Carmen) but he can also always find a parking spots. That’s something I hadn’t even considered for the others. Another plus is that this space is next door to a super hip vegan restaurant that looks delicious based on the crowds inside.

The cost for Altus Business and Coworking is $15/day, $150 for two weeks, and $235 per month. These prices are just for the shared space though, and come with various amounts of copies, the weekly and monthly come with a few hours in the conference room as well.

For a private office, the cost is $600/month and comes with seven hours in the conference room. This seems to be the most popular choice here at Altus. There are two sizes of offices, with the larger one going for $800/month. Both offices come with a key and 24/7 access to the space.

Most Professional Playa del Carmen Coworking Space

I only toured Altus and didn’t spend a day working here, but my impression is that Altus is for the most serious coworker. There’s no camaraderie or community here, it’s for quiet, focused work in private offices. If I was just getting a day or week pass, I would probably choose a different space with a more relaxed vibe and more people around, but if you’re looking for something long term and have the finances to splurge on a private office, this is definitely the best choice.

 

Are you thinking about coworking on Mexico’s beautiful beaches? If so, these four Playa del Carmen coworking spaces are all great options, and the one you choose just really depends on your budget, work style, and personality. I hope my reviews help make your decision a little easier! If you’ve worked at and love one of the four, please comment below cause I’d love to hear your opinion 🙂

All my love,
Di

 

 

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Cost of Living in Playa del Carmen: My One Month Budget

If you’re thinking about spending time in Playa del Carmen as a digital nomad, remote worker, or even just on vacation, the first question that comes to mind is all about the finances. What is the cost of living in Playa del Carmen? Here’s the budget breakdown of one month I spent eating, drinking, and exploring this beautiful place in 2018.

 Mexico beaches and blue ocean waters from above

 

Housing

Furnished Studio Apartment: $542 

This was definitely the toughest part to keep on budget. Rent will play a huge factor in determining your cost of living in Playa del Carmen. I was on and off Airbnb for weeks looking for places near the beach and was coming up with nothing affordable. Luckily, I finally landed a jackpot.

Our Airbnb is a 15 minute walk from my favorite beach in Playa del Carmen, and a 45 minute walk from downtown. Obviously not ideal, but the walk is on the quiet 5th Ave. and actually really nice to make after sitting at home working all day. When we don’t feel like walking, a taxi is only $2.

We’re also staying in high-season, and when I was searching for a month long stay in January Airbnb said only 1% of listings were left on my dates. So you might have even better luck in different months of the year.

My tip: Start looking early. The absolute best places to stay are between Calle 2 and Calle 40 near 5th avenue, but we’re all the way out on Calle 98 and it’s still safe and nearby.

 

Transportation

Transport total: $450

Next, transportation. This is a little stretch to our cost of living in Playa del Carmen because here I include our flights in and out of Cancun, which you can dismiss if you want to. I always compare prices on flights with Skyscanner to find the best deals. It also lists the airport buses and taxis in our day to day life. This does not include transport to and from weekend excursions and day trips, which is in the activities section.

Two Flights Chicago –> Cancun w/ checked bag: $272.58

Two Flights Cancun –> Mexico City w/ checked bag: $82.28

Two Airport Bus Tickets Cancun –> Playa del Carmen: $18

Two Airport Bus Tickets Playa del Carmen –> Cancun: $18

Taxis are cheap here, but they don’t have meters and require some negotiating. Just make sure you always leave the main touristy area on 5th Ave where the drivers will offer you crazy high prices. Walk up to Avenue 10 or 15 and you’ll be charged a fraction of the price. During our one month stay in Playa del Carmen we walked a lot, but probably spent an estimated $60 on taxis.

 

jungle and steps up the Coba pyramid

 

Food, Drinks, and Activities

Activities total: $1,000

We budgeted to spend $250 a week on going out to eat, getting drinks, and all weekend activities. We work during the week but during the weekends we did a lot. Here’s a breakdown of the cost of living in Playa del Carmen for food and fun.

One day swimming with the turtles $40 incl. one meal

One day visiting a rooftop pool $20 inc. one meal

One day boat Cruise with snorkeling Sponsored but $24 on transport and tip

Two days laying on the beach Free

Two night weekend trip to Tulum, visiting cenotes, the Coba ruins, and renting bikes $170 incl. transport, hostel, food, and drinks

Two night weekend trip to Laguna Bacalar $200 incl. transport, hostel, food, and drinks

Various meals out, nights out, movies, etc: $546

During the week we also volunteered to walk dogs at SOS el Arca (free) spent a day working at the co-working spaces (you can get free one-day passes here), went to movies ($2 tickets) or would walk to town or spend the evening on the beach. Having so many cheap/free/nearby options really helped keep our budget down and save money for the weekends.

 

steak dinner on catamaya cruise

 

Groceries

Total Groceries Costs: $300

For groceries we spent $75 a week at Walmart and that was enough for 3 meals a day all week and one or two cooked at home on the weekend. This included steaks, salmon, fresh fruits and berries, salads, and lots of good eats.

 

Nightlife

The nightlife in Playa del Carmen is one of the main reasons why people come. To give you an idea of costs drinks are usually $5 to $8 for a cocktail or $2 to $3 for a beer. However, you can definitely find them cheaper if you know where to look. If you wanna save money check out my list of the best cheap bars in Playa del Carmen.

 

Miscellaneous

Sprint International phone plan – $36

Health care – $280/month (although there are much cheaper travel health care plans available, this is the one we use through Daniel’s job)

 

water swings in laguna bacalar

 

Total Cost $2,608

Ok! So, this may seem pretty high at first but just keep in mind that it is for two people, and includes our international flight into Cancun, a domestic flight out, and an expensive US health care plan. Eliminating these three costs puts it closer to $2,000 a month.

This is definitely not the cheapest place we’ve ever stayed, but for such a touristy destination and to be walking distance from a beautiful beach, I still thought the cost of living in Playa del Carmen was surprisingly low. We ate, drank, and went pretty much wherever we wanted to go. You could easily lower the budget even more by including lots more beach days instead of weekend trips, and of course cutting out alcohol.

If you’re wondering about the cost of living in Playa del Carmen, I hope this budget breakdown helps give you a better idea of what to expect! If you can make it here, you’ll fall in love with this little slice of Mexican heaven 🙂

All my love,
Di

 

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The Best Cheap Bars in Playa del Carmen

I’m always on the hunt for the best cheap bars in any city, and Playa del Carmen is no different. This town is super touristy (like most beach towns are) and there’s nothing worse than wasting money and time on totally inadequate or overpriced drinks. That’s why I drank my way through the city (just for you guys of course) and created this list of the best cheap bars in Playa del Carmen.

 

La Camelia’s

Location: 5th Ave. Between Calle 12 and 14
More Info Here

I can’t speak for their food because I didn’t try it, but their happy hour was amazing. From 11am to 6pm every day, you can get two mixed drinks for 90 pesos. Not bad for one of the most touristy places in town! The list of cocktails has over 20 options on happy hour, and the mojitos were delicious. I’ve also seen this sign out at various different hours of the evening, so I think their happy hour times are pretty flexible… walk by and take a look!

 

 

La Pechita

Location: 5th Ave Between Calle 34 and Calle 38
More Info Here

La Pechita is one of the best cheap bars in Playa del Carmen because they offer a good deal on mojitos and beers all the time, no happy hour needed. The price for two mojitos is 140 pesos, or you can check out the beer deal, two for 60 pesos. This place is on the more relaxed end of 5th Avenue and the tables spill out onto the street, perfect for people watching.

 

Manne’s Biergarten

Location: Calle 4 Between Avenida 10 and 15
More Info Here

Ok, this place was such a great find, and probably my favorite of the cheap bars in Playa del Carmen. The delicious blended margaritas and other mixed drinks are only 60 pesos each, and 1 liter margs for only 120 pesos! That’s a great deal considering on 5th avenue they usually cost way more. The best part about Manne’s is that it’s totally chill, the waiter we had was SO friendly and nice, and this is the permanent price… no need to hit them up for happy hour because you’ll get the same great deal no matter how late it is. Also, did I mention the tequila shots are only 25 pesos each? Dangerous…

 

 

Tropical

Location: 5th Ave. between Calle 8 and Calle 10
More Info Here

This restaurant often has a sign out front advertising 2 cocktails for 100 pesos total. I noticed it at such random times that I stopped to ask, and the waiter told me they just put it out when it’s not crowded, and pull it in when it’s busy haha. So, def walk by and take a look, and you may just be able to snag this deal. The restaurant spills out onto 5th Ave. and has a great location.

 

Palm at the Playa Rooftop Pool

Location: Calle 8 between 5th Avenue and 10th Avenue
More Info Here 

FREE DRINKS for ladies on Friday night between 8pm and 11pm. Did I mention it’s a gorgeous rooftop pool with a view of the ocean? During the days, you can also get pretty good deals because it’s a 300 peso entrance fee on Mon – Wed (and 500 on Thurs – Sun) but that all goes towards food and drink at the bar and restaurant. If you’re sick of the sandy beaches, this is a great place to chill. And definitely hit it up for free drinks on Friday night!

 

rooftop pool at the palm at the playa

 

Club de la Cerveza

Location: 5th Avenue between Calle 34 and Calle 38
More Info Here

I love craft beer, so I just have to include this one! The drinks aren’t that cheap (around 50 to 90 pesos per beer) BUT they do have a meal of three fried chicken tacos for 45 pesos, which is a crazy good deal. They also have a huge selection of different craft beers from Mexico and around the world, and an awesome ambiance. If you’re looking for craft beer in Playa del Carmen (or cheap tacos) this is definitely the place.

 

Beer at El Club de Carveza

 

La Verbena

Location: Calle 34 between 5th and 10th Ave.
More Info Here 

Another ladies night! This bar has free drinks for women from 8pm to 10pm on Wednesday nights. It also has an awesome ambiance with a jungle like atmosphere. Greenery hangs from the ceiling and nice lighting make this place romantic an relaxed. It’s also right by the Club de La Cerveza, so hit this up first, save a few bucks, then splurge on some Mexican craft beer afterwards!

 

Botanico bar in Playa del Carmen

 

Enjoy your night out, and I hope this list of the best cheap bars in Playa del Carmen helps you stick to your budget. If you’re still looking for more great deals, here’s another list of Ladies Nights in Playa del Carmen that you also shouldn’t miss! Salud!

All my love,
Di

PS Don’t forget to check out the best cheap restaurants in Playa del Carmen as well!

 

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The Super Easy Guide to Basic SEO For Travel Bloggers

If you’re an aspiring travel blogger, there are a lot of different ways to promote your work. You can build up a huge social media presence, but don’t forget to focus on basic SEO for travel bloggers as well! SEO means search engine optimization. When your posts have better SEO, they will rank higher in a google search and get clicked more. I know it seems intimidating (especially for new travel bloggers) but it’s seriously SO simple, and so effective.

In July, I stopped focusing on my social media and began working on improving my travel blog SEO. Since then, I’ve seen my daily visitors continuously increase from about 25 per day to now around 75 per day and growing. If you’d like to see the same, implement this basic SEO for travel bloggers on your site today.

 

1. Install and Use Google Analytics

Most of you have (hopefully!) done this already, but if not, it’s a must. Google analytics are free, and it will take you about five minutes to follow these steps to install it.

Once you have it set up, you can start tracking your visitors. Use the “Audience” overview tab to see how many visits you’re getting, and how much time people are spending on your site. Use the “Acquisition” overview to see WHERE your traffic is coming from (social media, google searches, etc.) and finally, use the “Behavior” content drill down tab to see which pages are the most visited on your site.

The content drill down tab is a very useful tool, because it helps you understand which posts are the most popular, and then write more like them. Are you articles about budgeting always getting hit? Or maybe everyone is reading your destination reviews from a specific country you have visited. Whatever it is, create more!

 

table with type writer and paper

 

2. Install Yoast SEO

The next step in basic SEO for travel bloggers is installing Yoast SEO. It’s a free plug-in on WordPress, and is totally invaluable in making sure you rank. It will add a form below your post and as you write it, it will tell you what you need to improve like adding a meta-description or more keywords, filling out the alt descriptions for your images, remembering to link to internal and external pages, and more.

Use this on every article you write going forward, and go back to your old ones to make sure they pass their SEO guidelines as well.

 

3. Write for Obscure Keywords

Ok, maybe obscure isn’t the right word, but you need to be very careful about the keywords in your articles to avoid getting buried in the mass of blog posts on Google. Did you know millions of blog posts are written EVERY DAY? You have to work hard to stand out, and basic SEO for travel bloggers will help you do so. That starts with keyword research.

So, how do you pick the right keyword for your post? Here are some ideas:

1. Google the keyword you want to write for (ex: snorkeling in Playa del Carmen) and see what comes up. If the first few hits are TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet forums that is a good sign. It means not much has been formally written about the topic it will be easy to rank with your post. If there’s already two pages of content published by high authority sites (like BBC Travel or National Geographic for example) your lil’ post probably wont make the front page.

2. Brainstorm what you would search for. That’s how you can find different variations on the keyword that will get hit. Instead of Snorkeling in Playa del Carmen, it may be better to use “Unique Places to Snorkel in Playa del Carmen” or “DIY Snorkeling Trip in Playa del Carmen”. The goal is to always, always try to be on the first page of Google.

For Example: When I visited the Rainbow Mountain in Peru, it had already been covered by tons of travel blogs and I knew it would be hard to rank. Instead, I set my focus keyword in the Yoast SEO plugin to Mount Vinicunca, the actual name of the mountain. Because of that there was way less competition, and now my article is the top Google hit for the search, outranking Wikipedia and even Forbes.

 

city skyline at sunrise

 

4. Guest Post

I once read online about someone who’s professor gave them great advice “Try to get rejected by something every day.” I love it! Email people and sites you think you have absolutely no shot at, cause you never know what might happen.

When you are guest posting, you need to understand Alexa Rank. This will tell you the rank of your website vs. every other one in the world. If you website ranks at 5 million, don’t waste time guest posting on a site that ranks at 12 million, because it probably won’t improve your SEO or send much traffic to your site.

The best idea is to try for big names like BBC Travel, HuffPost, Forbes, etc. You can also look for niche sites that are focused on the country or topic you are writing about, like a travel site focused only Peru, or hiking gear, or all about finding cheap flights.

One great travel blog that I have guest posts on is The Planet D. Their Alexa Rank is 95,000 (that’s great! The lower the better) so a backlink from them (aka a link on their website leading to mine) improves my SEO because it tells Google that an authoritative website trusts mine.

When you are pitching guest posts, make sure the website you pitch to accepts guest posts first (you don’t want to spam them with requests if they don’t) and second, make sure they don’t already have similar content on their site. Once your post is up on their sites, you should see the traffic it sends over in your Google analytics at Acquisition –> Overview –> Referrals. If one guest post sends a lot of traffic, pitch two or three more to the site.

 suitcase and travel gear

 

5. Publish More Content

Learning basic SEO for travel bloggers is all well and good, but you also need to be writing a lot if you want your blog to take off. The more content you put out, the more visitors you will get. Google will also regularly look at your website. If they see lots of new articles every time they come, that’s great for your site. If there have been no updates since their last visit, it’s bad for SEO.

How much should you write? At a minimum, you should be publishing at least one article a week, but aim for two or three instead.

If you’re not traveling at the moment, there’s still plenty to write about! Brainstorm topics that affect you during your travels, or just write whatever comes to mind. Some examples of non destination based articles on my website include What is a South American Suicide Shower?Six Insane Living Places We Can’t Believe People Actually Live, and The Truth About Traveling Full Time.

Since I started focusing on publishing much more regularly in July, my Alexa Rank has dropped from 9 million to 4 million… not bad!

 

6. Publish Better Content

While I’m on the topic of content, publishing BETTER content is also imperative when it comes to basic SEO for travel bloggers. One way to do so is make sure your headlines are catchy to get those clicks (but you don’t have to be click-baity and annoying either. Just make sure they clearly explain what your article is about so people choose to click YOURS on their Google search).

Also, increase your word length. Something that takes 15 minutes to write is just not going to be worth reading. I often click on links when I’m researching my next trip that have NO value whatsoever, and it annoys me when a title looks promising but the article was just a promotion or fluff and is a waste of time to read.

When people are planning trips, they want to hear about your experience, but they also want all the info they’re looking for in one place. So that means for an article about weekend trip for example, you should include everything: what you packed, how you got there, where you ate, and most importantly, THE COST!

Millenials talk about money and it’s no longer taboo (thank God) so please please spell out the budgets and costs for your bus, or your hostel, or your month long trip through a country. For prospective planners this is often the most important factor in making a travel decision.

 

mountain and lake

 

7. Improve Your Load Time

This is more important than you think. Did you know that Google reports that 53% of people will leave a page if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds?! Don’t do all the work to get visitors on your site, only to lose them at the last second!

The most common things that people do wrong to slow down their load times are not optimizing their photos for size (or using too many pictures), using things that slow down their website like cumbersome sliders or fancy animations, having a poor hosting plan, and not minifying or caching. I’m currently tackling this problem on my own site, and am working on improving my load time with these steps:

1. Check the page speed at Google Insights. The higher the score the better. Just like a school grading system, 90-100 is best and lower than 60 is failing.

2. If you have poor load times then there are different ways to fix it. For beginners, the easiest solutions are plugins (not too many though, because too many plugins slows down your site too). I use EWWW Image Optimizer, WP Fastest Cache, and Fast Velocity Minify to help improve load speeds but there are a lot of others that work too.

 

8. Sweat the Small Stuff

You’re trying to grow and compete with established travel blogs, which means every little bit helps. Always add alt attributes to your photos. Always respond to comments on your blog. Always make sure every link on your post works and point exactly where you want it to go. Always make sure you use lots of headers and break up the text for easy reading.

Anything you can do to keep people on your page longer will help. Add videos to your posts, and use nice pictures (check out Unsplash for gorgeous free stock photos for your non-destination articles). If you take the time to tweak these small things for every post, it will help your SEO.

 

Old school green VW travel van ready for a summer road trip

 

Basic SEO for Travel Bloggers

I hope these tips on basic SEO for travel bloggers have helped! Take your time to start implementing these into your own blog and watch your visitors grow on Google analytics. If you have any more simple steps I missed, please comment below and I’ll add it to the list. If you try out some of these and see results, let me know!! Best of luck to all you travel bloggers out there, and safe travels 🙂

All my love,
Di

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