The Best Cheap Restaurants in Cusco

Life Style

 

The Best Cheap Restaurants in Cusco

One of my favorite parts about living in Cusco has been the vibrant food scene. Sure, Cusco is a tourist city first, which means super expensive hotels and restaurants line the streets to cater to the wealthy travelers. However, even if you’re on a budget, you don’t have to miss out on the great dishes on offer in the city. Use this guide to find the best cheap restaurants in Cusco!

 

Le Buffet Frances

Ok, this cute little European cafe tucked away on a side street of Cusco isn’t a buffet, but it’s definitely French! Run by a young French couple, all the food here is phenomenal, and it 100% deserves its place in the top spot on Tripadvisor. The set meal with a sandwich, fresh juice, and dessert is my go to, while Daniel usually opts for the bacon and pumpkin quiche. You can also stop by for desserts and coffee, or meat and cheese platters to share. The fresh, light taste is such a welcome change from heavy Peruvian food. The best part? A complete meal for two doesn’t even set us back $20. Definitely the best cheap restaurant in Cusco.

 

Fuego

This American spot was a great find, and one of our favorite cheap restaurants in Cusco. Daniel and I hit it up for the amazing lunch menu. A sandwich or burger, fries, coleslaw, drink and dessert for $8. Yes please. I opt for the cuban sandwich with pulled pork, while Daniel usually tries something from the burger menu. If you’ve been traveling in South America for awhile, you know a good sandwich is HARD to find. Check out Fuego for your fix!

 

Creperia La B’om

Love this little creperie. The ambiance inside is magical. Low cielings, colorful cushions, a living room with couches to lounge in and a balcony with an amazing view of the city. Oh, and the food is great too. A menu of the day with a crepe, espresso, and fresh juice will only set you back $5 and will definitely leave you feeling cozy and full. Another great aspect of this place is that it has the cheapest beer prices we’ve seen so far! $2 for a Cusquena brew is (sadly) a great deal here in the city. Check it out for lunch and some casual afternoon drinks!

 

Best Breakfast: Museo Del Cafe

This is the best breakfast I’ve had so far in Cusco. Yes, the meals are $9 to $10 but don’t get scared away! First, they are HUGE. I had to skip lunch afterwards because I was still so full. And second, they include everything. Coffee, fresh juice, and all the food you could ever need. We checked out a few cheaper spots in Cusco, but once we added juice and coffee to our meals, the price almost always exceeded those from Museo del Cafe. Finally, the food is delicious and the ambiance is great. Comfy couches line the wall and we snagged a great seat on the balcony overlooking Cusco’s cobbled city streets. It’s right by Plaza de Armas, so you should definitely check it out when you’re searching for the early morning cure to your next hangover!

 

Best Peruvian Food: Menu of the Day

The menu of the day is not a restaurant, but an option. Peruvian cuisine has some of the best cheap restaurants in Cusco. Many different small Peruvian restaurants offer traditional food at an insanely cheap price every day. The menu of the day changes daily (makes sense) and usually includes a soup, a main dish, and a juice. You can find the choices hanging in windows of restaurants or written on signs outside advertising the prices. If you want a filling meal on a budget, the menu of the day is the BEST choice. At the small restaurant by my apartment, we can get a large potato and veggie soup, rice and fried fish, and a cup of juice for only $1.50. Seriously, it’s crazy. The closer you get to the center of the city, the more expensive the menu will be. I’ve seen them range up to $10 at nice restaurants. So, if you’re on a budget, my advice is to prowl the side streets to get the best deal!

 

Best Value: Maikhana Indian Buffet

I love Indian food. I try every Indian restaurant in every city we visit and to be honest, in South America, they’ve all been average at best. Not surprising, but still a little disappointing! Who knew I would eat the best Indian food of my life in little Oxford, Ohio?? Anyway, the Maikhana Indian Buffet in Cusco is great for two reasons. First of all, if you’re on a budget, it’s less than $5 for all you can eat rices, curries and a salad. It even includes water, which is so rare and so great to find outside of the US. While the curries are fine, the real star of the show is their garlic nan. Omg. It is far and away the BEST nan I have ever had in my life.The pieces are huge and so flavorful, and you can add it to your meal for only $1.50 more. That alone immediately categorized Maikhana as one of the best cheap restaurants in Cusco. Seriously if you’re an Indian lover like me, don’t miss this awesome buffet!

Best Drunk Food: Rey Kebab

Rey Kebab is the best. It’s set up right across from the best bars and clubs and open late so you never have to head home unsatisfied. The classic kebabs are only $5, and they’re big, hot, and filling. However, my favorite dish here is definitely the pita and hummus plate. I lOVE hummus, and theirs is exceptional. Their pita is also always hot and fresh. For only $3 it makes the perfect midnight snack. No matter what time of day (or night) it is, definitely stop by Rey Kebab for a delicious and cheap meal.

Best Dessert: Qucharitas

Guys. This place. Qucharitas is n cafe, ice cream, and dessert shop in Cusco. The most interesting thing about it is that they make the ice cream right in front of you. They have a cream base that they pour on large freezers, then they mix in whatever toppings you ask for and let it all freeze together into their delicious ice cream. Oh, and did I mention their waffles? Put your ice cream on a fresh waffle with nutella, or in a homemade waffle cone. They also have smoothies, cakes, milkshakes and crepes to tempt your sweet tooth. A half waffle with ice cream and nutella (my go to) is more than enough to split with a partner and will only set you back $4. Not bad, because the quality is absolutely phenomenal!

Best Snack: Muchaway Churros Artesanales

Ok, this little whole in the wall cafe is just too cute. Run by a young couple, the place only has two tables, a couple chairs, and a small menu. But, you don’t need to look at it long because it’s clear what they do best: churros. You can get mini churros to dip in chocolate, churros filled with caramel, or even churros topped with different candies and toppings like a sundae. Pair it with a coffee or tea and your sweet tooth will definitely be satisfied for only $2. Check it out!

 

Best Bar: Indigo

This restaurant isn’t too cheap (around $10 for a meal) but I’m putting it on the list because it’s my favorite bar in Cusco and has the best atmosphere. Order a beer, a pisco sour, or even a hookah to smoke for the night, grab a few board games from the bar, and enjoy the music and cheerful ambiance while you relax. Arrive at just the right time and maybe the table set with a porch swing will even be available to snag for your group. If you’re getting dinner too, the best options on their menu are definitely the Thai curries. The musandam curry with peanut butter and rice is my go to. It’s large enough to split for two if you grab a cheaper appetizer also, which can help keep costs down. Definitely don’t miss Indigo for a night out in Cusco.

 

Cusco is one of my favorite cities to live in so far because the array of different restaurants and cuisines has been so delicious and fun to try. I promise, even if you can’t afford $30 ceviche, there are plenty of great restaurants here where you don’t have to trade flavor for price. Use this guide to try the best cheap restaurants in Cusco, and let me know what you think!

All my love,

Di

Did I miss one of your favorite haunts? Comment below so I can try it and add it to the list!

by Jul 28, 2017

Craft Beer in Medellin: It’s Better Than You Think

Colombia

A wall of beer bottles showing craft beer in Medellin

Photo credit: La Toma Cervecera

Craft Beer in Medellin: It’s Better Than You Think

Pablo Escobar. Cocaine. Drug cartels. The next big craft brew scene? Colombia is a country of several faces, and its world reputation suffered significantly during the drug wars. Unfortunately, many people know it to be a dangerous place.

However, the Medellin, Colombia that I came to know during my six-month stay couldn’t be further from that perception.

Finally able to breathe again after years of suffering, Colombia is experiencing a wave a foreign visitors as it has never before seen. In fact, tourism in Colombia has exploded by 250% since 2006. And those visitors have helped to bring something beautiful to the country.

Craft beer.

I’m talking IPAs, chocolate stouts, coffee stouts, cannabis pale ales, amber ales, and several other incredibly delicious brews. Although it may not be the first thing that you think about when you think Colombia, it should certainly be on your radar. Let’s take a look at what I found in Medellin.

 

A Scene in its Infancy

 

Since I wasn’t old enough to experience the craft beer boom in the United States in the late 1990’s, being in Medellin gave me a taste of what it must have been like when the scene was in its early stages.

For example, we checked out the La Toma Cervecera craft beer festival in Medellin. Although we were only expecting a few different beer booths and some people hanging out, we showed up to a fifteen-minute long line just to get in the warehouse/brewery.

Once we paid for our tickets and got our mug/requisite palate cleanser (sliced chorizo), we walked into a surprisingly poppin beer festival. It was complete with multiple different independent beer companies, small booths serving artisanal food, a guy giving beer tattoos in the middle of the party, and the classic industrial layout (think exposed beams, open roof, beer tanks, and everyone sitting at wooden pallet tables).

With all of the different options to try, it was difficult to decide where to start (luckily we had time for several). The difference that stood out to me the most about many of the companies is that several of them were clearly just some friends that got together to brew some craft beer. 

For example, we stopped at one booth, and the poor guy’s bottles were just exploding and overflowing one after another (we finally got a decent kiwi IPA off of him). Although not every beer that we tried was excellent (in fact, most were not anywhere close to what you might find in the US), it was pretty awesome to witness the beginning of the craft beer boom in Medellin.

With all of the different companies that showed up, you might think that it’s easy to find craft beer in Medellin.

Unfortunately, that leads me to my next point.

 

A guide for glasses for craft beer in Medellin

Photo Credit: La Toma Cervecera

Hard to find in Stores

 

If you’re from a craft beer-loving country such as the United States (sorry Europeans/Aussies, the beer in the US is the best), you’re going to find it quite difficult to track down a good brew in the city. In the supermarkets (yes, even in Carulla), the best that you can find is Club Colombia (not a bad beer in its own right), a few iffy imports, and some Bogota Beer Company (pretty solid, actually).

For the good stuff, you’ll have to track down the few places in the city that stock craft beer in the bar. Luckily, if you’re a tourist, that shouldn’t be that hard to do. Some of the best places for craft beer in Medellin that we found were the following places:

  • The Brew House in Poblado: Carries a decent selection of their own craft beers and several other local beers. Plus, the owner is a nice guy and great to drink with. He’s always there and will probably have a drink with you if you strike up a conversation.
  • La Cerveceria Libre in Poblado: About a 5-7 walk from Parque Lleras. It’s a bit away from the more touristy stuff, but the beer selection here is good.
  • Ragazzi Pizza and Pastas in Envigado: Although not everyone has enough time in the city to make it out to the suburbs, this is one of the best restaurants in Envigado. Their prices are excellent, their food is great, they always have several craft beers available, and the owners are super friendly.
  • The Beer Store in Poblado: This one ‘s hard to miss. It’s directly in the center of Parque Lleras, but they have a pretty good selection of beer. It’s the only place that I could find the BBC IPA in Medellin.

Although there are certainly a few other places to get craft beer in Medellin (in Poblado and elsewhere), these are just a few of the better places that I found during our stay in the city.

As Colombia continues to prosper and experience influence from people all over the world, I imagine that the craft beer in Medellin is only going to get better. Whether you have two days or two months in the city, be sure to experience the scene for yourself.

by Jul 26, 2017

How To Get Over Your Fear of Flying

Life Style

 

How To Get Over Your Fear of Flying

Yes, I’m an avid traveler who’s afraid of flying. Every time my flight starts boarding I feel the knot in my stomach flip and get just a little tighter. My mind starts to race with intrusive thoughts, made worse only with each bump and bounce of turbulance. So, what’s my solution to fight my anxiety and fear of flying misery? It’s definitely not to never fly again! There are just too many places to see and discover. Instead, I use these 5 methods help calm me down and get over my fear of flying.

1. Take A Good Book

Seriously, it seems simple, but I’ve found over the years that airplane movies just don’t cut it. The only way I can really escape from reality is with a really good book. If you find an interesting one that captures your attention, put it down and save it for your next flight. Trust me, you’ll be so glad you did when you escape into the pages and feel the plane touch down with out even noticing the flight has passed!

Need a recommendation? Some great reads I’ve recently enjoyed are Marching Powder, Live From New York, and Killing Pablo.

2. Repeat a Prayer or Mantra in Your Mind

I don’t do yoga or meditation, but I imagine this is the poor man’s version of the two. If you’ve boarded your flight and can’t get the thought of a fiery death out of your mind, pick a short and simple phrase to repeat. This can help fight the intrusive thoughts and anxious feelings associated with your fear of flying. Anytime you realize your thoughts have wandered from your mantra, simply return them back to it. I find that saying the rosary in my mind puts me to sleep (sorry mom!) but anything easy and repetitive will do – you’ll start to zone out and relax in no time.

3. Try to Sleep

Easier said than done right? If you’re like me and don’t take sleeping pills, don’t worry, there’s still hope. I was NEVER be able to sleep on airplanes until I started doing this one simple trick. Download a white noise app on your phone and blast it into your earphones. It drowns out everything else around you and helps take you out of your current situation and into dreamland. Classical music can also do the trick, but listening to anything with words that I know and can sing along to usually only distracts me more and keeps me wide awake. If you haven’t tried using white noise to help with your fear of flying yet, download an app today.

4. Do Your Research

Fear is not always logical, but you can use logic to combat it. Statistically speaking, you’re safer on your flight than you were while driving to and from the airport. Check out this live radar map showing all current flights. There are an insane amount of planes in the air at any given time, and none of them are going down. Flights rarely crash, it only seems much more common because the media coverage is so intense when they do. On top of that, did you know that a plane has NEVER crashed from turbulence alone? There are so many safety checks in place that Malcom Gladwell theorizes that seven things have to go wrong at once for a flight to go down. That means even if your pilot has a heart attack while flying into a hurricane, you’re still going to land safely at your destination.

5. Keep an Eye on the Stewardesses

Someone gave me this tip once years ago, and I’ve kept it in the back of my mind ever since. Hear a weird sound, feel a strange bump or think you smell something wrong on the plane? It’s probably just your anxiety getting the best of you, but how can you be sure? Just keep an eye on the stewardesses. They fly every day and are in tune with every function of the plane. If something wasn’t right, they would be the first to notice and take charge. Usually, when you’re busy freaking out, they’re smiling and serving food without a care in the world. Take your cue from them, and don’t worry until they do!

 

Flying isn’t always easy or enjoyable, but it’s definitely necessary for travelers like me to continue doing what I love. Hopefully, these 5 tips and tricks can help make your next trip a little more bearable! If you have any other advice for nervous flyers, please share it below 🙂

 

All my love,

Di

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by Jul 24, 2017

Best Restaurants in Envigado

Colombia

If you’re visiting Medellin, you’re sure to spend a lot of time in the hip neighborhood of Poblado. But Envigado, the neighborhood just south of Poblado, shouldn’t be missed. It’s been my home for five months now, and the lively streets, beautiful churches, green parks, and delicious restaurants are perfect for a day of exploring (and eating!).

It’s not just a residential neighborhood either… it has a lot of history. Did you know that Envigado was Pablo Escobar’s hometown? He grew up playing in the streets and attending the schools just down the street from my apartment. He invested a LOT of money into the barrio too, and I often find myself walking on a track or through a park that he financed himself.

Although his name is all but banned from being mentioned in Medellin anymore, Envigado is still a pivotal piece in Pablo’s, and therefore Colombia’s, history. You should check it out, and while you’re there, make sure you hit my list of the best restaurants in Envigado!

LEMONCILLO

Cuisine: Vietnamese

My Recommendation: The spring rolls are one of the most refreshing appetizers I’ve ever had, and the sauce is amazing too. For a main dish, the Pho (a noodle soup) is served as a huge portion and will only set set you back around $17,000 COP/$6 USD.

The Tom Kha Gai, a coconut curry with veggies, chicken, and rice, is also phenomenal. It comes as a side or a main dish, so you can try more than one dish per visit. Lemoncillo is perfect when you’re craving something new, or just need a light, healthy, refreshing meal choice.

Check them out here

COCOLATTE CAFE

Cuisine: Café

My Recommendation: Visit Cocolatte when you have an afternoon to kill. It’s in the cute little area on Sur 30 in Envigado with quiet streets, shop fronts, greenery, and an almost European vibe to it. It’s the perfect place to chill on a lazy Saturday afternoon, and Cocolatte is a must visit when there. The frappes are piled high with ice cream, and the frozen chai tea with espresso is unreal.

They also serve a rotation of cakes and desserts to tempt your sweet tooth if the sweet coffee drinks aren’t enough. I usually take visitors here not only for the delicious drinks, but also because they have very nice quality “Medellin” shirts for $48,000 COP/$16 USD and packages of coffee beans that make for great souvenirs or gifts to take home.

Check them out here

EMPANADAS LA CATEDRAL

Cuisine: Empanadas

My recommendation: If you’re anything like my friends and family, the first Colombian food you want to try on your visit will be delicious, savory, meaty EMPANADAS! Mmm one of Colombia’s best gifts to the world.

You will see them in the fronts of almost every store or shop you pass, but you have to be picky because quality and flavor can vary wildly. My absolute favorite place to get Empanadas is right on the corner of Parque Envigado (which isn’t actually a park at all, but the main square featuring a beautiful Cathedral, hence the name Catedral Empanada).

There are only two choices, which is how you know it’s good. Desmechadas is pulled beef and potatoes, and Tradicional is ground beef and potatoes. While both are delicious, I prefer the Tradicional myself. They’s always hot and crispy, and not to mention, giant. Oh, and they’re only 50 cents each.

Enjoy them standing at the counter like a local with a shared bottle of sauce, or grab a seat in the square to people watch while you scarf it down. Trust me, you cant go wrong with these!

Check them out here

MAHALO ACTION SPORTS CAFE

Cuisine: Bar Food

My recommendation: Hit this place up during the day for an afternoon of day drinking in the sun, or visit to grab dinner at sunset. Why? Because it’s is up on the mountainside with a phenomenal panoramic view of Medellin.

It was built into an old home, so it has tons of outdoor space, porches, tables under the trees, a fire pit, and even a half pipe and paintball field! The food isn’t too bad either. I had a Serrano ham sandwich and fries that were delicious for around $22,000 COP/$7USD. They also have a happy hour for half price cocktails from 5 to 6. It’s a perfect place to relax with a view.

Check them out here

 

CONTENADORES FOOD PLACE

Cuisine: Variety

My Recommendation: Where to begin. This place is unlike anywhere you’ve ever been, I promise you that. It was built by stacking shipping containers on top of each other and draping the place in fairy lights, making a strange grown up version of a secret garden or maze… but with food.

Each container holds a different restaurant, so you can take your pick from burgers, pizza, Mediterranean, sushi, Asian, and more. It’s all here. I’ve only been once and got the salmon salad at Mezza Luna, but the choices really are endless.

Check them out here

SUSHI SERVICE BARRA

Cuisine: Sushi

My Recommendation: I never thought when I moved to Colombia that I’d be in walking distance to an amazing sushi restaurant. The Sushi Service Barra is a little hole in the wall with an attentive staff and great ambiance.

Visit on a Tuesday for the two for one roll special. The rolls are HUGE, and one each is more than enough for a full meal. I always get the shrimp ceviche to start as well. It’s super fresh and served with avocado and crispy patacones.

Wash it all down with their can’t-miss limonada de coco, and you’ll be leaving satisfied with a meal for two that will only set you back $50,000 COP/$17 USD. Not bad for a sushi and seafood feast!

Check them out here

 

 BRASAREPA

Cuisine: Colombian

My Recommendation: Ok, so I actually ate here twice and while it was fine, it never crossed my mind to include it on the list. Imagine my surprise when I found out Anthony Bourdain featured this little hole in the wall restaurant, 5 minutes from my apartment, on No Reservations! What?!?!?

Of course, he ordered the classic, and most famous, dish of Medellin: the Bandeja Paisa. This thing is HUGE and will probably knock at least a year off of your life (doesn’t stop me from eating it about once a month though!).

If the three giant portions of meat aren’t enough (chorizo, beef, and fried pork), it also comes with plantains, rice, a fried egg, avocado, beans, a bowl of soup and juice. Whew. If there ever was a perfect hangover cure, this is it. I haven’t gotten this dish at Brasarepa yet, but now it’s on my must try list.

Check them out here

RAGAZZI

Cuisine: Pizza and Pasta

My Recommendation: CRAFT BEER IN MEDELLIN. Not only is Ragazzi run by an adorable husband and wife duo, they are also (finally!) bringing the craft beer scene into Envigado! Their choices vary depending on a cycle with the local breweries and what’s available, but trust me, you’ll find something you like.

Last time Daniel and I ate there, he had an IPA and a chocolate porter, and I had a Marijuana brew from Hakuna Brewery… with 9% ABV. After drinking Club Colombia and Aquila for months (Colombia’s version of Budweiser), trying some new brews was a welcome change.

On top of all of this, the pizza and pasta are both amazing, and the desserts (especially the lemon cheesecake!) are to die for. Daniel and I even stop by on our walk home sometimes to chat with the owner and grab a few beers to take home and try for the night. Ragazzi is a total gem of Envigado, and if you’ve been dying for a craft beer in Medellin or a delicious Italian meal, this is the place for you.

Check them out here

Photo credit: Ragazzi Pizza and Pasta

There you have it, my personal run down of the, in my opinion, best restaurants in Envigado. Which ones have you been to, and which ones have I missed on the list? Comment below!

by May 10, 2017

Travel Lessons I’ve Learned Along The Way

Life Style

 

Right now, my greatest goal in life is to make the 30 under 30 list. Not the list on Forbes, but the one that matters – visiting 30 countries before I turn 30. I’m currently sitting pretty at 25, and because I’ve visited 25 countries, I’ve learned a LOT of travel lessons along the way.

Still, the same few stories seem to always come up when sharing a beer or two with old friends, and they always revolve around my biggest travel mistakes. While they were hard at the time, looking back, they’re now some of the funniest and most formative experiences of my life, and some that I’ll always remember.

So, here’s a list of my top five travel tips and the stories behind how I learned them the hard way. Enjoy!

1. Always check your visa status well before traveling – even for countries you only have a layover in.

 

Ok, this one hurts. Daniel and I booked tickets for our spring break to Nepal. I opted not to spend the extra money for direct flights and instead bought them with two layovers in India. Here’s a fun fact; India is one of the few countries where Americans cannot buy a visa upon arrival and instead have to get them in advance at an Indian embassy.

A second fun fact; if you have two layovers in India, you will have to leave the international terminal and enter the domestic terminal to fly to the second city. That means that you need an Indian visa. We found all of this out while being denied boarding for our flight at the gate. At midnight.

So what’d we do? Well a group of about 10 other people made the same mistake, and we were cruelly strung along by the airline thinking that they may be able to help us fix it. lol. Nope. We spend a few hours jumping from person to person, office to office, all to be told the same thing.

 

 

We didn’t read the fine print. We bought our tickets through a third party vendor (NEVER DO THIS. YOU WILL REGRET IT), and there was nothing that they could do.

Great.

So, defeated, we went back home for the night. It was late, I was tired, and we still had to rebook new international round trip flights for the next day.

The total hit to our budget was over $1,200 dollars. One of my most expensive travel lessons. The total hit to my stress levels was losing at least a year off of my life. All of this because I wanted to buy the cheapest flight and couldn’t be bothered to check the visa requirements for the countries it passed through. 0/10 I do not recommend this experience to anyone!

 

2. Never leave your belongings unattended.

 

Can I even count all of the different countries I’ve had items stolen in? Italy, Thailand, Germany, Sri Lanka… the list continues. However, by far the most traumatic experience Daniel and I have had happened on a public beach in Oman.

Daniel and I were so used to the safety and security of the United Arab Emirates, where we had been living for two years, that we let our guard down. Once in Dubai, I left my laptop on the public metro system and returned two hours later to pick it up from security without a problem.

On our weekend trip to neighboring Oman, we falsely assumed that the country was just as safe and left our camp site up on the public beach while we left for the day. Friday and Saturday went smoothly, but Sunday was a wake up call.

We left our site at 6am for our scuba trip and didn’t return until 10pm that night. As soon as we pulled into the lot, I could tell tht something wasn’t right. And that something was that EVERYTHING had been taken.

Our tent, blankets, chairs, cook stove, clothes, everything.

 

 

In a telling sign, all that was left in it’s place was a sad and empty case of Budweiser. Well, it was 10 at night and we now had nowhere to sleep. Of course, this was a long weekend trip because it was a national holiday in the Gulf states, so all of the hotels in the city were booked full or available for hundreds of dollars more than their usual price.

We decided to do what any dumb person would do in this situation and drive the 8 hours back to our apartment in Abu Dhabi overnight.

First, we wasted time hunting down the police station and reporting the theft… it was pointless and took over an hour. By the time we left the city, it was nearing midnight. Oh, and did I mention that we were too cheap to rent the GPS with the car? And neither of our phones had data plans?

Yeah.

What followed was one of the longest nights of our lives. I opened Google Maps and tried to follow along with our blue dot and point us in the right direction. We wasted almost another hour at the border between the two countries when we were first unable to find the crossing point and second when the guard couldn’t see the light entry stamps on our passports.

I couldn’t drive because I didn’t have a UAE license, so it was on Daniel to complete the trek from start to finish. We found ourselves on a deserted road with nothing but black desert on either side as far as the eye could see.

The speed limit was 45 mph, and we didn’t dare go over because it was radar enforced and we had already received $600 in speeding tickets (but thats a story (scam) for another day.)

Picture this: Daniel doing push ups on the side of the road at 4am and slapping his face to stay awake, me attempting to guide us home through the barren wasteland, and both of us going slightly insane from being up for 24 hours at this point.

We eventually made it home at 6am the next day, and our loss wasn’t terrible. Mostly retainers, glasses, and medicines that were a headache to replace. Luckily, we were bright enough to keep our passports and valuables in the car with us during the day.

However, the whole hilarious situation could have been avoided if we had just used a few brain cells and packed our tent and chairs up before we left the campsite for the day! Many travel lessons learned, and I will never leave anything I own unattended while traveling again!

 

3. Just take the loss – money is NEVER worth arguing over with locals.

 

When I studied abroad, money was tight, and I always traveled on a strict budget. I carried that mentality with me after I graduated and on my first big trip to Thailand over Christmas in 2014. Daniel and I decided to splurge and order a hookah to smoke in a beachside bar. The cost was only $14, but with the large discrepancy in cost of living in Thailand vs. the US, that was very expensive by the country’s terms.

 

 

If you’ve ever smoked a hookah before, you know that it’s something to be enjoyed over the course of an hour or two. However, once we sat down and it was delivered, we were almost immediately told that the bar was closing, and we had to leave the beach front.

I asked politely for some of our money back since we hadn’t been able to smoke the hookah for more than 10 minutes at that point. I was (of course) met with a resounding NO. I was a few drinks in and decided to push it, asking (ok, insisting) again that some of our money was returned.

Well, you never know who you’re dealing with, and in this case, I was dealing with a waiter with a temper… who also happened to have many Thai friends. The beach cleared, and we found ourselves surrounded by ten young Thai men shouting, arguing, and escalating the matter. It was extremely lucky that the bar next door had a private security force who came over and diffused the situation.

Still, the waiter knew the name of our hotel, and our walk home required a long stretch of desolate beach. I laugh about it now, but at the time on that walk I carried a beer bottle with me as a form of protection because I was so afraid. I have no idea what would or would not have happened that night had the security not stepped in. All I know is I came closer than I would like to becoming just another foreign tourist in the headlines, for an arrest or worse.

Traveling isn’t dangerous, and the world is not a dark and scary place. However, muggings, murders, and more DO happen everywhere in the world, and it’s our responsibility to protect ourselves as much as possible. Being drunk or argumentative, wandering alone somewhere deserted at night, these are the first steps in making ourselves vulnerable to an attack.

No amount of money is worth your life. Be smart, drink smart, travel smart, and you can always avoid a scary situation like the one I put myself in on that Thai beach.

 

4. BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS.

 

Did you know that my husband has his own charity? It’s called the Daniel Constable Foundation, and no matter where we travel, he likes to “donate” his iPhone to those in need. Yes, the donation is unintentional, but still a regular occurrence. He has lost or had his phone stolen in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Germany. At this point, it doesn’t even faze me any more, but at the time, the first experience was pretty heartbreaking.

On our first trip together to Thailand, Dan had an iPhone 5, and I had my sister’s old 4. This was early in our relationship, and I naively took all, and I mean ALL, of our travel photos during the three week trip on his because the camera quality was so much better. Our first Christmas together, New Years Eve setting off lanterns, waterfall hikes, old temples, monkeys, this phone had it all.

Unfortunately, the only thing it didn’t have was the iCloud direct import feature. After three weeks traveling through the country, Daniel was pick pocketed and his iPhone was stolen at the bus station, 10 hours before we left Thailand to fly home.

Absolutely all of our photos and memories from that trip are lost because we didn’t spend a few minutes uploading his photos to a secure source. All that we had left were a few Instagram updates and hundreds of new Thai contacts in his iCloud account. Learn from our mistake, and make sure you ALWAYS back up your photos regularly because you never know when you may lose them all.

5. Eat the street food – but be mentally prepared for the consequences.

 

This one is not for the squeamish. I honestly don’t know which country is the culprit, but to put it mildly, Daniel and I became hosts to some other… life. Health standards vary wildly around the world, and when it comes to meat and seafood, it’s very easy to get sick in an unclean environment.

Anyways, one day in Sri Lanka Daniel and I discovered in the bathroom that a couple new friends had joined our little family! Basically, we had worms. It was more emotionally taxing than anything else, but we stopped at a medical center and had medicine ready to go by the end of the day.

It was quick and easy, physically, to get rid of them, but still disgusting beyond belief! I don’t have much advice for this one because I LOVE street food and will never stop eating it. But now at least I’m more mentally prepared for what may happen because of it! Yikes.

 

 

Ok, these are my top 5 (of many) travel lessons that I learned the hard way. Try to take something from this so that you don’t have to go through the same hilarious, messed up, crazy, depressing, and gross situations that I find myself in time and time again!

Just as I’m sure I’ll never stop traveling, I’m also sure that I’ll never stop adding more mistakes to this list. It’s all about our attitude and growing as we go. Keep learning, friends 🙂

All my love,

Di

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by Apr 5, 2017

Travel Light, See the World

Life Style

Bus, park, colorful girl and greenery

 

I’ve moved every year since I was 18. I don’t own a home, I don’t own a bed or desk or nightstand. I don’t even have any kitchenware. Nope, don’t follow me if you’re looking for cute puppies or kitten pics, I have none. I travel light.

Every time I move, I donate, give away, or trash most of my belongings for a new start. I’ve kept my life decluttered in this way, but it still felt like I had too much tying me down.

 

 

clothes, closet

 

 

When I moved to Colombia in January I packed a carry on and decided to travel light. What’s inside is what I have until I return home to see my family for the holidays in November. Owning almost nothing has simplified my life more than I dreamed it would.

No wasting money on impulse buys at the mall (can’t fit it in my bag anyway). No worrying about if I’m re wearing an outfit too soon (I am).  No planning my next vacation for months and getting a dog sitter for a week. When I want to go, I go. Indefinitely.

 

 

photos, earrings, jewelry

 

Collect moments, not things. I own nothing, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I have the freedom to travel wherever I want to go, and that’s all that I need in this life. There’s a great big world out there, and me and my carry on are going to see it all.

 

Travel light. See the world.

All my love,

Di

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by Feb 16, 2017

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