9 Ways to Manage Homesickness During Long Term Travel

Have you ever been homesick? It’s a brutal mix of sadness and wistfulness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

In the past few years I spent three ten-month stints outside of the USA, so unfortunately I know the feeling all too well. As a full-time traveler, I often go long stretches without seeing my parents, siblings, friends, and pets. I usually start to feel homesick in the middle of a trip, when I’ve been away for five or six months and still have quite a few left before I’m home again.

Luckily, I have years of practice with full-time travel, and I’ve learned how to manage homesickness pretty well. If you need to manage homesickness, give these tips and practices a try!

 

1. Cook your favorite foods

Sometimes, a big part of missing home is missing the food… at least for a foodie like me it’s definitely true. When that’s the case, I make an evening of it. If you’re in a hostel, find the best rated restaurant serving your native cuisine, or hit up a pub owned by a local from your home country. Ask around the expat circles, and you’ll definitely be able to find something that feels like home, even if it’s just for an hour or two.

When I travel long term, I always stay in apartments with furnished kitchens so I go one step farther to manage homesickness. I scour the grocery stores and cook my closest version of a Chipotle burrito, a crunch wrap supreme from Taco Bell, or whatever random restaurant or food I’m craving that day. Taste is actually a super important sense when it comes to memory and comfort, so not only does this option distract me and pass the time, it’s also always delicious and helps manage homesickness pretty well.

 

2. Invest in an international phone plan

I’m not gonna insult you by saying you should Skype or FaceTime your family and friends to help manage homesickness, cause it’s a pretty obvious solution. However, did you know that you can also get an international phone plan? They’re pretty cheap if you look in the right places. The first two years I lived abroad, my phone number was always changing and my friends and family found it difficult to contact me because it was always just a hassle.

This year, I invested in an international phone plan and I’m so glad I did. With Sprint, it’s only $35 a month! I got to keep my US number, get unlimited calls and texts to anywhere in the world, 1gb of international data a month, and 2gb in the US. This has made keeping in touch sooo much easier. Now, I can just pick up the phone and call my mom whenever I feel like it, and text my friends just like normal. I love it, and it has helped me feel way more connected and manage homesickness much better this past year.

 

3. Buy gifts for your family and friends

This has always helped me manage homesickness. If I’m feeling down, I’ll try to find little cheap gifts to bring home to my friends and family. Usually it involves something like a strange local snack or small pair of earrings. It helps distract from feeling homesick, and it’s always fun. Plus, when it IS time to head home, I already have lots of little stuff to bring with me and gift, and I don’t have to scramble last minute when I’m busy trying to pack and move. Win-win.

 

4. Think about it like this…

You’re not missing out on that much. An easy trap to fall into is to feel homesick and start thinking of family get togethers or parties with your friends, and how you’re missing out. In reality, those are usually for special occasions, and it’s more likely that even if you were home, you wouldn’t be spending time with friends and family anyway. Plus, for me at least, all my siblings live out of state. That means they’re all missing our parents and doggo just as much as I am.

Of course, putting it into perspective and remembering that most of my family and friends are also spread around the country and world too only helps most of the time. If you’re spending Christmas or Thanksgiving away from home (like I did two years in a row) It’ll be impossible to manage homesickness and you’ll just have to enjoy the holidays the best you can and power through!

 

5. Stream Sports

This one is weirdly specific, but also highly effective in curing homesickness. There are plenty of places to find your favorite team online and watch them live. Once I get the stream up on my laptop, I like to connect it to my TV as well. Something about the announcers speaking English and the sounds of the game in the background on a Sunday afternoon is comforting. Feels just like being home to me, and always helps manage homesickness when I feel it coming on.

 

6. Pet Some Pups

Dogs are scientifically proven to make everyone happy, all the time (source: my own brain and many experiences.) Find some! If you’re in a developed country, that means heading to a local dog shelter and giving the good boys some pats.

If you’re in a third world country, just step out the door and there will be plenty of strays! Bring something for them to snack on and enjoy watching them play. I promise, doing a good deed to take care of the street dogs in a small way will make you feel way better as well. Sometimes I also look at the local shelter websites from home to see which dog I’d adopt if I had the chance, but honestly this might make the homesickness even worse…

 

7. Talk it Out

A big part of homesickness comes from experiencing a daily language barrier and culture shock. Head to the hostels, tourist attractions, and bars or pubs to find a friend from your home country (or that at least speaks your same language.) I found whenever we ran into Americans on our long-term travels we always loved reminiscing about what we were missing at home. Just hearing that good ‘ol American accent always makes me feel better!

 

8. Send Home a Surprise

I used to do this when Daniel and I were in a long distance relationship for three years. When I really missed him and wanted to feel close to him, I would send him a surprise. Sometimes that meant making a homemade card and putting it in the mail, but sometimes it meant a little bit more. I liked to get pizza or his favorite Indian food ordered to his house when I knew he was home. He was always surprised and super happy, and it brings a smile to my face just thinking about it 🙂 Try it out!

 

9. Get Out of the House

You’re homesick for a reason… because you’re far away, traveling through a new country. Well, get out and explore it. I find I usually feel the most anxious, worried, sad, or homesick when I’m cooped up in the house in front of a computer screen.

If it’s a weekday and you have to work, treat yourself to a coffee or iced tea at the local cafe while you do so. Or, go for a walk, out to eat, hit up a new bar, sign up for a fun tour, go for a hike, the list goes on. If you’re feeling really bad, just say screw it and take the day off from your responsibilities completely. Head out into the great outdoors and r e l a x, take a moment to enjoy where you are and why you’re there. Clear your head a little, and I’m sure you’ll manage the encroaching homesickness just fine.

 

Feeling homesick is just a reality of traveling full time. However, in my past three years I’ve found plenty of small ways to help me manage it. Give these nine tips a try next time you feel homesick, and let me know if they help!

All my love,
Di

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Have you ever been homesick? It’s something I really wouldn’t wish on anyone.

In the past few years I spent three ten-month stints outside of the USA, so unfortunately I know the feeling all too well. As a full-time traveler, I often go long stretches without seeing my parents, siblings, friends, and pets. I usually start to feel homesick in the middle of a trip, when I’ve been away for five or six months and still have quite a few left before I’m home again.

Luckily, I have years of practice with full-time travel, and I’ve learned how to manage homesickness it pretty well. If you need to manage homesickness, give these tips and practices a try!

 

1. Cook your favorite foods

Sometimes, a big part of missing home is missing the food… at least for a foodie like me it’s definitely true. When that’s the case, I make an evening of it. If you’re in a hostel, find the best rated restaurant serving your native cuisine, or hit up a pub owned by a local from your home country. Ask around the expat circles, and you’ll definitely be able to find something that feels like home, even if it’s just for an hour or two.

I always stay in apartments with furnished kitchens, so I take it one step farther to manage homesickness. I scour the grocery stores and cook my closest version of a Chipotle burrito, or crunch wrap supreme from Taco Bell, or buffalo chicken dip and grilled ribs, the list goes on. Taste is actually a super important sense when it comes to memory and comfort, so not only does this option distract me and pass the time, it’s also always delicious and helps manage homesickness pretty well.

 

2. Invest in a international phone plan

I’m not gonna insult you by saying you should Skype or FaceTime your family and friends to help manage homesickness, cause it’s a pretty obvious solution. However, did you know that you can also get an international phone plan? They’re pretty cheap if you look in the right places. The first two years I lived abroad, my phone number was always changing and my friends and family found it difficult to contact me because it meant prescheduling skype calls and was just a hassle.

This year I invested in an international phone plan and I’m so glad I did. With Sprint, it’s only $35 a month! I got to keep my US number, get unlimited calls and text to anywhere in the world, a 1gb of international data a month (and 2gb in the US). This has made keeping in touch sooo much easier. Now, I can just pick up the phone and call my mom whenever I feel like it, and text my friends just like normal. I love it, and it has helped me feel way more connected and manage homesickness much better this past year.

 

3. Buy gifts for your family and friends

This has always helped me manage homesickness. If I’m feeling down, I’ll try to find little cheap gifts to bring home to my friends and family. Usually it involves something like a strange local snack or small pair of earrings. It helps distract from feeling homesick, and it’s always fun. Plus, when it IS time to head home, I already have lots of little stuff to bring with me and gift, and I don’t have to scramble last minute when I’m busy trying to pack and move. Win-win.

 

4. Think about it like this…

You’re not missing out on that much. An easy trap to fall into is to feel homesick and start thinking of family get togethers or parties with your friends, and how you’re missing out. In reality, those are usually for special occasions, and it’s more likely that even if you we’re home, you wouldn’t be spending time with friends and family anyway. Plus, for me at least, all my siblings live out of state. That means they’re all missing our parents and doggo just as much as I am. Think about it for a minute. Are you just missing an idealized version of your home and childhood, and not really homesick at all?

Of course, putting it into perspective and remembering that most of my family and friends are also spread around the country and world too only helps most of the time. If you’re spending Christmas or Thanksgiving away from home (like I did two years in a row) It’ll be impossible to manage homesickness and you’ll just have to enjoy the holidays the best you can and power through!

 

5. Stream Sports

This one is weirdly specific, but also highly effective in curing homesickness. There are plenty of places to find your favorite team online and watch them live. I like to connect it to my TV as well. Something about the announcer speaking english and the sounds of the game in the background on a Sunday afternoon is so comforting. Feels just like being home to me, and always helps manage homesickness when I feel it coming on.

 

6. Pet Some Pups

Dogs are scientifically proven to make everyone happy, all the time (source, my own brain and many experiences.) Find some! If you’re in a developed country, that means heading to a local dog shelter and giving the good boys some pats. If you’re in a third world country, just step out the door and there will be plenty of strays! Bring something for them to snack on and enjoy watching them play. I promise, doing a good deed to take care of the street dogs in a small way will make you feel way better as well. Sometimes I also look at the local shelter websites from home to see which dog I’d adopt if I had the chance, but honestly this might make you want one too bade and make the homesickness even worse…

 

7. Talk it Out

A bi part of homesickness comes from experiencing a daily language barrier and culture shock. Head to the hostels, tourist attractions, and bars or pubs to find a friend from your home country (or that at least speaks your same language) I found whenever we ran into Americans on our long-term travels we always loved reminiscing about what we were missing at home. Just hearing that good ‘ol American accent always made me feel better!

 

8. Send Home a Surprise

I used to do this when my husband Daniel and I were in a long distance relationship for three years. When I really missed him and wanted to feel close to him, I would send him a surprise. Sometimes that meant making a homemade card and putting it in the mail, but sometimes it meant a little bit more. I liked to get pizza or his favorite Indian food ordered to his house when I knew he was home. He was always surprised (and super happy of course) and it brings a smile to my face just thinking about it 🙂 Try it out!

 

9. Get Out of the House

You’re homesick for a reason… because you’re far away, traveling through a new country. Well, get out and explore it. I find I usually feel the most anxious, worried, sad, and homesick when I’m cooped up in the house in front of a computer screen. If you have to work treat yourself to a coffee or iced tea at the local cafe while you do so. Or, go for a walk, out to eat, hit up a new bar, or sign up for a fun tour or hike. If it’s really bad, just screw it and take the day off from your responsibilities. Head out into the great outdoors and r e l a x, take a moment to enjoy where you are and why you’re there. Clear your head a little, and I’m sure you’ll manage the encroaching homesickness just fine.

 

Feeling homesick is just a reality of traveling full time. However, in my past three years I’ve found plenty of small ways to help me manage it. Give these nine tips a try next time you feel homesick, and let me know if they help!

All my love,
Di

8 Reasons Why Working Remote is Better than Backpacking

I originally wanted to save money, quit my job, and backpack through South America for six months, and now I’m SO glad Daniel convinced me otherwise. Because we decided to work remote, we were able to spend ten months exploring Colombia and Peru instead of only six, and still have the money and steady income to travel through Mexico and Europe in 2018.

During my time in South America, I met plenty of other young people. They were traveling long-term as well, but with one big difference. They usually saved money, quit their jobs, and traveled for three, six, or twelve months at a time. Once they’re finished, it’s back to the old 9 to 5 in their home countries. They have one awesome adventure under their belts for sure, but for me, that’s not enough. It doesn’t have to be for you either! Here are my top eight reasons why working remote is better than backpacking.

 

1. Travel Longer

Like I stated above, we were originally planning to only travel for 6 months in South America, then settle down and get a job in the States. WOW what a mistake that would have been! Working remote is better than backpacking because your trip never has to end. Endless travel is not a dream, it’s my daily reality (and it’s so damn easy to make it yours as well.)

Because I have a steady income from freelance writing, I can move anywhere in the world, whenever I want. I spent ten months in South America in 2017, and have plans to spend two months in Mexico and six in Europe in the new year. I don’t think I ever could have saved up enough money to see so much, especially in an entry level job after graduation. Instead, remote work while traveling makes it possible.

 

2. No Money Worries

If I blow my budget on a late night out or super cool weekend away, I don’t have to rearrange finances for the rest of my trip, or sacrifice visiting one destination, city, or country for another. Instead, I just slow down my spending until next month’s payday. I’m not moving fast, so if I don’t have the funds for a big tour or trip, all I have to do is wait. No rush and no timeline means I can keep my travel plans flexible and do everything I want to in each destination.

 

3. Unexpected Issues Won’t End Your Trip

This one is semi-related to number two. Because I have a regular income from working remote, unexpected issues aren’t quite so problematic. A broken laptop or missed flight just means the next weekend might be a little more boring than most. Even if it’s more severe (like our landlord keeping our $700 deposit, ugh.) long term saving and budgeting can make up for it. However, when my friends had their passports and computers stolen in Peru towards the end of their backpacking trip, the unexpected costs and passport issues caused them to have to skip visiting Ecuador completely and head straight to Colombia instead. Super disappointing!

 

4. Save Money

Working remote is better than backpacking because it’s cheaper. We travel long-term (like, years at a time) so we don’t have any phone bills, storage bills, mortgages, rent, car payments and insurance, or anything else that we have to pay at home while on our trip. On the other hand, most backpackers still have to budget to keep up with these costs at home along with their trip expenses.

A second major money saving advantage is that working remote allows us to travel slooooow. We always rent Airbnb’s for one month at a time (at least) to get major discounts. Also, if you’re jumping form hostel to hostel on a backpacking trip, you’re going to eat out every meal. Working remote, traveling slow, and staying in furnished apartments gives us access to kitchens to buy groceries and cook in, which is a huge money saver every month.

 

5. No Post Travel Blues

I seriously can’t tell you how many backpackers I met who were in the last few weeks of their trip. They always lamented how sad they were to be heading home soon. Who wouldn’t be? They’ve often saved, sacrificed, and planned for years to take the trip, and know when it’s over its back to their boring 9 to 5, with years before they’ll ever be able to take time off again. Honestly, I can’t relate. Because I work remote, my traveling only ends when I decide it does, and I headed home for the holidays full of excitement because for me it’s only a pit stop between countries.

 

6. No Resume Gap

America is a nation of workaholics. If you’re reading this in the UK or Australia, it won’t apply to you as much, because gap years and long term traveling are much more common there. However, in America it’s totally outside of the norm.

From a career standpoint, working remote is better than backpacking because companies don’t look kindly on six month resume gaps, even if they changed, enriched, and taught you more than you ever would have in the workplace. Explaining a six month or year long gap to a future employers isn’t a risk I have to take because I chose to work remote instead of take time off to backpack. Additionally, when I do decide to move back to the US and search for a full time job, I know I can live off my freelance income until I do so… pretty stress free transition if you ask me!

 

7. Keep a Routine

This one is one of the biggest health advantages to working remote instead of taking a backpacking trip. When you go months without working, there is no routine. That means tons of drinking, late nights, eating out… basically every vice is so much easier to fall into without a routine! That’s all fine for a one or two week vacay, but it’s not gonna end well if you keep it up for a six month trip.

Because I still have a job and am not on vacation, I set an alarm each morning, cook my own meals every day, and have a much easier time limiting my drinking and nights out to the weekends. Working remote and traveling slow also means we have a comfy Airbnb to chill in, watch TV, and read or relax in at night. If you’re backpacking and stuck in a hostel, you’ll be much more tempted to get out, hit the bars, and spend money every night of the trip.

 

8. See More

My last, and one of my favorite aspects of working remote instead of backpacking, is that I get to see so much more than an average backpacker does. I don’t have to limit all my traveling to just a few months. I spent four months just in Peru, instead of trying to visit the entire continent of South America in the same time frame. Because of this, I get to see and do a lot of stuff that’s off the beaten track. Some articles I write are among the first of their subject on the web because spending a day at Llaullifest or hiking at Kinsa Cocha are so off the beaten track for most backpackers. I like traveling slower, and seeing more of each country that I visit.

 

Do I have you convinced? One short-term backpacking trip may be exactly what you want, but if you’re here I think you’re looking for something more. Definitely consider these eight reasons why working remote is better than backpacking. Next, check out my Working Abroad page to learn all about how I paid off my student loans and visited eight new countries while teaching in Abu Dhabi, and how I now make money working remote as a digital marketer and freelance writer. As always, if you have any questions comment below or shoot me an email and I’ll definitely get back to you!

All my love,
Di

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The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers

I live out of my backpack for the majority of the year, and travel full time. So, I made the perfect holiday gift guide for travelers on your list. I know they’re hard to buy for because you don’t want your gift thrown in storage, and of course you want to give them something they’ll actually use! So, I made this up as a combination of things I’m asking for this year, things I can’t live without, and things I found myself wishing I had as I traveled. I promise, if you have an avid traveler on your list, this holiday gift guide for travelers will have something for everyone (and every budget!)

 

Travel Gifts Under $10

 

Waterproof Cell Phone Case $6.99
Shop Here
Love it because: I am always super careful and concerned with my phone on dive trips, boat tours, and at the beach.
These waterproof cell phone cases protect the phone from water completely, while still keeping it available for
photos through the transparent case. So perfect.

 

 

Spotify Premium Subscription $9.99/month
Shop Here
Love it because: I can’t live without music. However, both the free versions of Pandora and Spotify limit international listening. With Spotify premium, you can listen as much as you want to their extensive music collection ad free, and best of all, download music for offline play on long bus or plane rides. As an avid traveler who gets motion sickness from reading, music is everything on those trips. Plus, right now you can get the first three months of premium for only 99 cents! Nice.

 

Vintage Travel Wall Posters $8.99
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Love it because: This classic look never goes out of style. Buy one as a thoughtful gift to commemorate
a meaningful city or trip abroad

 

 

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World $9.75
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Love it because: You can’t go wrong with a good, inspirational book. Any travel lover (and book worm) will enjoy this.

 

 

 

Travel Gifts from $10 to $25

 

 

Universal 3 in 1 Camera Lense Kit for Smartphones $12.49
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Love it because: It’s an easy and small kit for a beginner photographer to experiment with, and take a few cool photos without lugging around a giant camera bag.

 

 

Jackbox PartyPack $24.99
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Love it because: These games are just fun as hell. They also load directly on a computer and are played with
smartphones, so they require zero additional packing for a heavy traveler.

 

 

World Scratch Off Travel Map $24.99
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Love it because: It’s beautiful, and a super fun way to scratch countries off the bucket list… literally

Anker Portable Charger $14.99
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Love it because: No more worries about a dying phone on that long layover or bus ride. Now I can listen to music and stream movies to my heart’s content, and charge on every trip to make sure I always have power for more photos

 

 

Eye Love Polarized Wood Sunglasses $24.97
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Love it because: Travelers are always on the move, and that means small things like sunglasses get broken or left behind a lot. I’m always replacing mine, so getting an extra pair as a stocking suffer would be amazing!

 

 

Sterling Silver Mini State Pendant Necklace $19.00
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Love it because: It’s small, it’s delicate, and its a great way for a traveler to bring a little piece of home with
them wherever they go. Just click the drop down to see any US state.

 

 

Wise Owl Outfitters Portable Hammock $25.95
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Love it because: It’s the perfect gift for any outdoor lover or camper on your travel gift list. They’re lightweight, and great to put up and relax in anywhere, making the view even more enjoyable on every hike.

 

 

VIBRANT ALL IN ONE Travel Mug $24.95
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Love it because: It’s a tea infuser, hot coffee thermos, and so much more. A great water bottle becomes a beloved family
member to any traveler who spends months on the road. I think this one can stand up to the challenge!

 

 

 

Travel Gifts from $25 to $100

 

AKASO EK7000 4K WIFI Sports Action Camera $74.99
Shop Here 
Love it because: I’ve been blogging for almost a year, and have been dying for an action cam to add better videos to my site. Unfortunately a Go Pro was out of my price range, but after extensive research Daniel found this well reviewed (and waterproof!) camera… for only $74.99. I’m super excited to unwrap it on Christmas and try it out in Mexico!

 

 

Trtl Pillow – Scientifically Proven Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow $29.99
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Love it because: I suck at sleeping on long bus and plane rides, and I’ll try anything new that may help. This compact travel pillow is small and super supportive… definitely looking forward to giving it a try!

 

 

Kindle E-Reader $79.99
Shop Here
Love it because: When I’m abroad, my choices are to either lug around heavy books in my small backpack, or search in vain to find bookstores with overpriced books in English. A super light kindle e-reader makes reading on a long-term trip so much easier.

 

 

 

AirBnb Gift Card $25 and up!
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Love it because: Everyone knows experiences are better than things. Give the gift of a stress free holiday or weekend away

 

 

 

Travel Gifts over $100

 

Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack $180
Shop Here
Love it because: I. LOVE. THIS. BAG. Seriously, any traveler or backpacker in your life would swoon to unwrap this on Christmas day. The bag is super high quality, opens easy, and has a smaller day pack attached as well. I’ll never go back to a rolling suitcase, and no one else should have to either. If you have the budget… this is the best gift for any traveler on your list.

 

 

Kate Spade Going Places Metro Watch $195.00
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Love it because: It’s just cute!!

 

 

No more wondering and searching for the perfect gift this Christmas. Everything on my ultimate holiday gift guide for travelers is tailor made to be small, useful, and perfect for any traveler on your Christmas list. Happy holidays!!

All my love,
Di

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Where to get the Cheapest Flights and Best Travel Deals

I travel a lot. I’ve been to over 25 countries and lived on 4 continents. That means, a lot of flights have been booked in the past few years, and I don’t even want to think about how much money I’ve spent…

Luckily, these websites, newsletters, and email lists help me find the cheapest flights and best travel deals every time I’m planning to book (oh, and did I mention they’re all free to use?) If you’re starting to think about your next vacation, give these a try and save some big bucks on your trip!

 

1. TravelZoo

This is pretty much the ONLY email I subscribe to that I open regularly. The TravelZoo newsletter and website is great for three reasons. First, you can customize your departure airports, so you only get deals nearby that you’ll actually use. And second, you never buy from a third party. Every deal you see is purchased straight through the company that offers it, so no scams or bamboozles here. And finally, the deals they find are insane!

For Example: Just yesterday I got an email listing an 8 night tour of China, with hotels, food, and flights from the US, for $399! W H A T?! If I was more organized and ready to book travel plans for next year, I would have been all over that.

The Catch: The only catch with this site is that sometimes the best deals are offered out of season, or only leave on certain days, like a Tuesday or Thursday. If you’re a flexible traveler, somewhat spontaneous, and open to booking great deals when you find them (rather than being set on a certain vacation plan every year) then this website will help you get some of the cheapest flights and best travel deals I’ve ever seen.

 

2. Fly Almost Free

I’ve been subscribed to the Fly Almost Free mailing list for only a couple months, but I’ve already seen some awesome deals. I love it because it is super simple: no graphics, no gimmicks, just good ol’ fashioned emails.

Basically, what this guy does is find fares and deals that are either mistakes, or just super low for some reason, and send out an email letting you know where they’re from, where they’re going to, and where to book the flights. Like TravelZoo, everything is booked directly through the airline so there’s no chance of getting fake fares or scam deals.

For Example: This week I’ve already gotten one email listing deals for east and west coast airports to fly to New Zealand and Australia for $500. That’s literally unheard of. If you’re a big baller, you can also sign up for his ultra list for $5 a month and (supposedly, I’m not on it) get even cheaper deals.

The Catch: The only catch with this site is that the fares are usually only available for a short time, so if you’re going to book them, you gotta book ’em fast. Because of this, once you choose your vacation days and budget, I suggest keeping an eye on this email newsletter for a couple weeks to see if anything pops up as a perfect fit.

 

3. Skyscanner

Ah, ol’ reliable. Skyscanner has been with me from the start. I booked my very first international flight (to Egypt, Israel, and Italy) through this site, and have been going back ever since.

Skyscanner is great for a few reasons. First, you can put in your departure airport and dates then set the destination to “everywhere,” to search through the cheapest options available without choosing a specific destination. That’s usually how I get started planning almost all of my trips. I’ve also found that Skyscanner consistently shows me some of the cheapest flight fares for every destination. I just love it because it makes it so easy to compare countries and airlines, and find the cheapest flights and best travel deals.

For Example: For my trip to Germany in 2015, I found round trip flights from Dubai to Berlin for only $250 per person. A great deal I snapped up immediately, and never would have seen if not for their “search everywhere” option.

The Catch: The only catch is that Skyscanner shows a lot of offers from third party vendors like edreams, Expedia, etc. I personally avoid these like the plague and ONLY ever book directly from the airlines. However, once you find the flights you want, just head straight to the airline website, search, and purchase it there. Easy.

 

These three websites and email newsletters are my go-to places to get the cheapest flights and best travel deals online. If you’re just in the starting stages of planning your next trip and open to anything, check these out today to get some huge savings.

Good luck, and happy travels! If you find some amazing deals on these sites, comment below and let me know (so I can buy them too!)

All my love,
Di

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One Year Living On The Road – My Reflection

When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was travel. The first chance I got, I went as a solo female traveler to Egypt. Then to Israel and Palestine, and by the time I landed in Italy for my study abroad program I was totally hooked. When I came back to the US after another 3 week solo trip through eastern Europe, I knew I needed to find a job when I graduated that would let me travel more than a normal 9 to 5 allows.

That job came as the one and only position I applied to in my senior year of college, a teaching position in the UAE. Daniel and I taught in Abu Dhabi for two years, and during that time we had seven months of paid vacation and visited ten new countries in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Now, we both work as freelance writers and digital marketers. Since January 2017, we have spent the last ten months living on the road. That means we don’t have any permanent apartment in the United States to return home to and we only stay in each city we visit for one or two months at a time. Living on the road definitely has its ups and downs, some of which I detailed in my article The Truth About Traveling Full Time. Now, I want to take it one step further.

 

I’m Just A Small Person in a Big Universe

Honestly, I feel like I’m trying to compartmentalize this past year into easy to digest little nuggets of wisdom, but thats actually the exact opposite of what this last year of living on the road has taught me. It showed me that everyone’s lives around the world are just as complex as ours. There’s a word called “sonder” which is the understanding that you are not central to the universe, that everyone who is just background noise in your own life is actually living their own life as well. One that is just as rich with feelings, problems, and emotions as yours.

I think this concept is surprisingly hard to grasp for most of us. But just standing on my balcony and watching a parade of school children go by in the street with a teacher trying (and failing) to get them into a straight line, sitting in a cafe all day and watching two coworkers talk, laugh, and flirt as they clean up around me, walking through a park on a Wednesday afternoon and seeing all the retired men come to barter, chat, and catch up with their friends in a local Colombian neighborhood… these little glimpses of totally normal everyday life are so different from the world I grew up in but still so relatable. All these lives are going on every day around the world, and it’s nice to see that I’m just a little piece of this giant fabric. I think living and working alongside the locals is one of the things that makes living on the road so different from taking a vacation and even different from backpacking and long term travel.

 

Life is the Same Around the World

People are working, stressed out, and falling in love around the world every day. People believe so strongly in their religions, but they’re all different. I’ve seen women in burqas, their lives dictated by Islam. Monks walking the streets in Thailand, collecting food, sweeping the streets, and giving up their autonomy and possessions because of a calling to a higher power. I’ve seen more Catholic festivals and celebrations than I can count in the churches and streets of South America. All of that is dictated by geographic location, which is dictated by the pure chance of being born in that city at that time.

It’s really weird how the basic themes of our lives are played out so differently in each culture, but if you look closely, its always for the same reasons. We all just want love, acceptance, and something to believe in.

 

Nothing Really Matters

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that in my first year of living on the road, I’ve learned how to relax and not take life so seriously.

It doesn’t matter that we can’t plan an elaborate surprise party or buy expensive gifts for each other for our birthdays, actually, it simplifies them, removes pressure to come up with something amazing, and makes the days spent together more fun. It doesn’t matter that I wear the same 6 outfits over and over, and haven’t put on make-up in months. It doesn’t matter that the big project I had in the works fell through, because our living costs are so low there’s no financial pressure on my shoulders. When you live on the road, it doesn’t matter what stresses or drama is going on with family and friends, because we’re far removed on a different continent.

It’s kind of nice being the background noise in the world for a change instead of the main event. I feel like I played a cheat code, because I don’t have to worry about bills and co-workers and social climbing in my 20’s like so many others do, and I get to see and do so much more. Living on the road turns down the responsibility and turns up the fun.

So we didn’t save the recommended amount that a couple should have to reach financial security by the time we’re 30. So I don’t have a job at a prestigious company. I didn’t have a baby, I didn’t get a masters degree or a PhD. But if I had, would I feel different? Would I feel fulfilled, or would I be asking myself the same questions about why I am here and what I should do? Would I be searching for the same answers in another way?

I think I probably would be.

It’s kind of funny, growing up we really think all the adults around us really have their sh*t together. Now that I’m an adult (I guess I can admit it) I’m starting to realize that no one really knows that they’re doing. Despite what societal pressures want to say, it’s ok to live on the road, wander around the world, see beautiful places and meet beautiful people. It’s not wrong and I’m not any more lost or aimless than anyone else.

 

We’re All Looking for Our Own Sense of Purpose

Whether we’re living on the road, working a 9 to 5, starting a family, or going back to school, I feel like each goal is the same and we’re all looking for the same thing. To be loved, to be beautiful, to be accepted, sure, but mostly, to find a sense of purpose.  Some people find it in money, some people find it in their kids.

For me, traveling the world and living on the road is the closest I can come to finding my reason to be alive, simply for nothing more than to see everything this amazing earth has to offer. Standing among the 4,000 year old pyramids, looking at Mount Everest, wandering the cobbled streets of ancient Rome connects me to the past, and gives me a feeling of wonder and excitement that I can’t recreate anywhere else.

It’s kind of crazy that just being in these places can make me feel more content than doing or accomplishing something great. It lifts a huge pressure off my shoulders, and relieves me of something inside me that always felt like I need to do more, achieve more. Just being in these places is enough. Just existing in these places is enough.

I’m not saying that one year living on the road has changed my life. I still get anxiety, I still have problems, I still work for clients I don’t want to. But for me, it’s a step in the right direction, toward simplifying my life, toward becoming happy with who I am, toward removing the burdens that society has placed on my shoulders. I haven’t found my sense of purpose, and maybe I never will. But I think living on the road is a good start.

All my love,

Di

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How to Fly on a One Way Ticket to South America

This is an interesting problem, and one I encountered when I first began planning our trip to South America. Like many backpackers, I had a lot of time to spend on the continent and had done almost zero planning. That meant the best course of action was to buy a one way ticket into Medellin, and then gradually figure out our travel plans from there.

However, we hit a little snag. You’re not allowed to enter the countries in South America on a one way ticket.

Why? Well the problem is due to the airlines. Most countries in South America “officially” have a rule in the books stating that if you have a one way ticket to South America, you also need to show a return ticket out of the country. However, in reality they rarely, if ever, enforce these rules (because they need that sweet sweet tourism money.) IF the country did decide to deny entry based on this rule, though, the airline who brought the tourist in would then be on the hook to deport him free of charge.

The airlines don’t want to take this risk however small it may be, and therefore they are actually the ones who strictly enforce this rule. I’ve flown on a one way ticket to both Colombia and Peru, and both times I was asked at checkin to pull up proof that I had flights leaving the country and returning to the Unites States before they let me through.

Going into Colombia, I had no idea what my future travel plans would hold, and didn’t want to lock myself into a destination or a departure date I would later regret. So, how do you successfully buy a one way ticket to South America? These are your options:

 

1. Fake It

While researching the various choices I had to be allowed to board my one way flight to South America, I came across this option surprisingly often and it kind of blows my mind. I’m no goody two-shoes, but creating fake flight tickets just seems incredibly risky and stupid to me. Still though, it is an option that others have said work for them. They just create their own fake email receipt confirming flight reservations. If you do this (and you probably shouldn’t) they insist that it’s important to use real flight numbers and times for future routes.

 

2. Buy the Cheapest Bus Tickets You Can Find

This is another option, but I didn’t do it because it has one specific issue. When I was reading about airline and their rules, many stated that not only did we need proof that we were leaving Colombia, we actually needed proof that we were leaving the continent. Therefore, my plan to buy two $20 bus tickets from Medellin to Quito wasn’t going to work. I originally thought it was a great idea because I could use them in the future if my plans allowed, or just skip the ride and only be out 40 bucks. Not too bad.

Unfortunately, this rule requiring return flights to be off the entire continent threw me for a loop. I don’t really understand the reason behind why that would be required, but I also didn’t want to be stuck scrambling and trying to buy a flight back to the US in the airport at checkin either.

 

3. Buy A Refundable Return Flight

Ultimately this is the option we went with to use our one way ticket to South America, and it worked perfectly. First, I searched online for the cheapest flights from South America to the US that I could find. Even though I was flying into Colombia, a flight out of any country on the continent would do. So, I chose the one way tickets from Quito to Miami for $250. Then when I was buying them, I made sure to upgrade to the extra expensive refundable fare. This doubled the fight prices, but because I wasn’t going to use them, it didn’t really matter. Now, we each had a $500 one way flight off of the continent.

Just as I expected, I was asked to show our reservation emails to JetBlue upon check in. They were ok’d and we flew to Colombia. Of course, immigration never asked to see anything, but either way we were in the clear.

The next day, I just hopped on the JetBlue website and cancelled out fares in two clicks (it was seriously so easy) and within a week or two the money was all returned into my account. This option only works if you’re not tight on cash and can handle having $1,000 tied up for a week or two. If you can, though, it’s definitely the easiest and most risk free choice for your one way ticket to South America.

 

If you’re planning on backpacking through the continent, buying a one way ticket to South America is a no brainer. However, it can also cause you some issues that you may not expect – like denied boarding at the airport! The best way to get around this is to purchase a refundable fare off the continent, and then cancel it after arrival. If you’ve tried the other two options, though, I would love to hear about your experiences!

All my love,

Di

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