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The 22 Best Things to See and Do in Bangkok

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One of the many beautiful temples in Bangkok, Thailand
Posted: 8/17/20 | August 17th, 2020

Bangkok. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s a vibrant, chaotic, international, funhouse. A city 600 square miles and with a population of over 8 million, you could spend months here and you’d still only scratch the surface.

I’ve visited the city more times than I can count. I even lived there for a couple of years . I’ve watched the city change and grow in so many ways since I first landed here in 2004.

While there’s not a lot of traditional touristy things to do in the city (those fill a day or two), there’s a lot of food and culture based activities here that can give you a sense of what life is really like in Bangkok beyond the tourists.

To help you, here are my top 22 things to see and do in Bangkok:
 

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

One of the first things I do when I arrive in a new destination is take a free walking tour. You’ll get to see the main sights, learn a little history, and start to get a sense of the culture. Best of all, you’ll have an expert local guide with you who can help answer any questions you have and give you suggestions and recommendations.

Bangkok Walking Tours has a few different tours available every day that provide a solid overview of the city. Just be sure to tip your guide!
 

2. See the Grand Palace

The stunning Grand Palace temple in Bangkok, Thailand
The Grand Palace was built over the course of three years between 1782-1785 by King Rama I when the capital moved from Thonburi to Bangkok. It’s the official residence of the king, though he doesn’t live there anymore (it’s just used for ceremonies).

The palace was originally constructed from wood as supplies were short. Eventually, after raiding other sights in the region, they were able to find the building materials they needed. Hidden behind high concrete walls, the palace isn’t one large building but rather a collection of wats (temples), chedis (mound-like structures containing Buddhist relics), carvings, statues, and the famous 15th century Emerald Buddha.

Na Phra Lan Road, +66 2 623 5500, royalgrandpalace.th. Open daily from 8:30am-3:30pm. Admission is 500 THB. Be sure to wear clothes that cover your legs and shoulders. You can rent pants or shirts at the palace if you need them.
 

3. Visit Wat Pho and Wat Arun

Wat Pho, known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is famous for its massive golden reclining Buddha statue. Built in 1832, the statue is 15 meters tall and 46 meters long. It’s one of the most popular sights in the city.

The temple is the size of a city block and there are tons of reliefs, statues, courtyards, temples, and spires to see. But there is more than just a photo opportunity here. The prestigious Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School is also located on the grounds. When you are done seeing the sights, get in line for a massage (it’s considered the best massage school in the country). Be sure to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon, otherwise you’ll have to wait at least 45 minutes for your massage.

Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) is a gorgeous Buddhist temple on the edge of the Chao Phraya River (it’s just opposite the Grand Palace on the other side of the river). From the top of the main spire, you get sweeping views of the city. The intricately tiled facade reflects the light beautifully during sunrise and sunset. It’s my favorite temple in the city.

Wat Pho: 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, +66 2 662 3553, watpho.com. Open daily from 8am–6:30pm. Admission is 100 THB. Massages cost around 260 THB for 30 minutes.

Wat Arun: 158 Wang Doem Road, +66 2 891 218. Open daily from 8am–6pm. Admission is 50 THB. Be sure to dress appropriately for both temples.
 

4. Experience Khao San Road

The busy street of Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand
This is the backpacker capital of the world. Khao San Road (along with Soi Rambuttri) has been the hub of backpackers in Asia since the 80s. While it’s a full-on tourist trap now, with non-stop bars, hawkers, and street stalls, it’s still a fun place to spend some time — even if you’re not staying in the area. Grab a drink, order some banana pancakes, and spend some time meeting other travelers and watching the world go by.
 

5. Explore Chinatown

This is one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world. It’s home to some delicious restaurants and street food as well as places to shop. But the main draw here is the food. There are tons of vendors selling food you’ve likely never see anywhere else in the city.

If you’re a fan of seafood, be sure to spend some time wandering the narrow streets and sampling everything. If you’re not sure where to eat, just pick a stall that has lots of locals eating there.
 

6. Take a River Cruise

Cruising along the Chao Phraya River in  Bangkok, Thailand
To see the city from a different perspective, take a tour of the Chao Phraya River. The river stretches over 370km (229 miles) and river cruises offer a relaxing way to enjoy the view see the city in a new light. That said, avoid taking an overpriced river cruise. Instead, just ride a water taxi up and down the river for just a couple of dollars. You can start at the central pier, go to the end, and come back. You’ll save money and still get an enjoyable tour of the river as it weaves throughout the city.
 

7. Check out the Floating Market

The busy floating market in Bangkok, Thailand
While the floating markets are a little touristy, they are super fun and can’t be missed. The two main floating markets in the city are Khlong Lat Mayom and Thaling Chan (the latter being the most popular). Locals will paddle their small boats around the water and you can just shop as they pass you by. It’s definitely a unique experience!

The markets are chaotic and aromatic and can be a sensory overload. Arrive early (especially at Thaling Chan) so you can beat the crowds and tour groups. There’s lots of cheap food here too so it’s good to come hungry. I always like to wander the market first to see what I want to sample and then go about eating my way around.
 

8. Visit the Museum of Siam

Opened in 2007, this museum highlights the origins of Thailand and its culture. Housed in a 19th-century European-style building, the museum is fully interactive. There are galleries, movies, and multimedia displays that cover culture, history, Buddhism, war, and the making of modern Thailand. The museum does an excellent job of keeping things both fun and educational.

4 Maha Rat Rd, +66 2 225 2777. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-6pm. Admission is 300 THB.
 

9. Visit the Bangkok Malls

Malls in Bangkok are not like malls in most other countries. Thanks to the AC, they are more like social hubs where locals can gather, eat, and hang out to escape the heat. The foodcourts here are actually delicious, there are coffee shops for relaxing or working, and there are even movie theatres and bowling alleys in the too. In short, they are fun places to hang out and to take in some of the less-conventional experiences of the city.

Some of the best malls to visit are Terminal 21 (my favorite mall), MBK Center (for electronics and knock-offs), Siam Paragon (upscale), and Pantip Plaza (electronics).
 

10. Tour More Temples

Temple in Bangkok
If you want to visit more temples, Bangkok has plenty more to offer. You can hire a tuk-tuk driver to take you around the city for a day to see them all (or at least the main ones). Some of my favorite temples are:

  • Wat Saket – This is one of my favorites in city because of its beautiful golden temple and wonderful views from its top. Admission is 10 THB.
  • Wat Benchamabophit – This temple is pictured on the back of the 5-baht coin and has 53 Buddha images in the courtyard representing different Buddhist mudras (ritual gestures). Admission is 20 THB.
  • Wat Ratchanatdaram – Built in the 1840s, this temple is one of the few temples in the entire world with a bronze roof. Admission is free.
  • Wat Traimit – Located in Chinatown, this temple is home to a massive solid-gold Buddha statue (it weighs 6 tons!). Admission is 40 THB.
  • Wat Mahahat – This royal temple is home to Thailand’s oldest institute for Buddhist monks. It also hosts a weekly amulet market where you can buy amulets to help you with luck, love, money, and more. Admission is 50 THB.

 

11. Visit Jim Thompson’s House

The historic Jim Thompson's house in  Bangkok, Thailand
Jim Thompson was an American spy during the Second World War and silk merchant in Thailand during the ’50s and ’60s. He mysteriously vanished in 1967 while in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands. Some say he was lost or killed while hiking while others say he disappeared himself (he was a spy, after all).

When he returned to private industry after the war, he almost single-handedly revitalized Thailand’s sinking silk industry. While living in Bangkok, he lived in a traditional Thai home. It was decorated with beautiful teak wood and surrounded by a beautiful garden. Today, you can visit the house and learn about his life, the silk industry, and how and why Thais design their homes the way they do.

1 Khwaeng Wang Mai, +66 2 216 7368, jimthompsonhouse.com. Open daily from 9am-6pm. Admission is 200 THB.

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12. Shop (and Eat) at the Chatuchak Weekend Market

This massive, sprawling market is the size of a few football fields and is one of the largest open-air markets in the world. There are over 15,000 stalls and booths here and the market sees upwards of 400,000 visitors each weekend.

It’s is the best place in the city to buy gifts or souvenirs, find knockoffs, barter, and eat delicious food. There are maps around the market so you can navigate the various sections though it always gets crowded and hectic so come prepared.

Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, +66 2 272 4813. chatuchakmarket.org. Open Wednesday-Thursday from 7am-6pm, Fridays from 6pm-12am, and Saturday-Sunday from 9am-6pm.
 

13. Watch a Muay Thai Fight

Muay Thai Fighting
Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is a martial art/combat sport involving striking and clinching. It’s one of the most popular sports in the country and is taken very seriously (much like football in Europe). Fighters train for years to master the art and you can catch bouts at Rajadamnern Stadium.

Matches typically last around 25 minutes unless there is a knockout and there are usually 7-9 fights per night. There are lots of food hawkers here as well so you can grab a bite while you watch the violent spectacle.

1 Ratchadamnoen Nok Rd, +66 2 281 4205, rajadamnern-boxing-stadium.business.site. Main fights are on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Tickets range from 1,000-2,000 THB.
 

14. Relax in Lumpini Park

The calms waters of the lake in Lumpini Park,  Bangkok, Thailand
Spanning over 140 acres, this is one of Bangkok’s largest parks. It’s home to bicycle lanes, jogging paths, picnic and chess tables, tai chi classes, plenty of trees, and rowboats for rent on its pair of small lakes. There’s a lot to do here, and in a city that really, really, really lacks green space, it’s a blessing to have. Grab a book, pack a lunch, and come and lounge in the shade and watch the afternoon go by. It’s a nice change of pace from the hectic flow of the rest of the city (it’s a no-smoking area too).

192 Wireless Rd, +66 2 252 7006. Open daily from 4:30am-9pm.
 

15. See the National Museum

Established in 1874, this museum focuses on Thai culture, with highlights that include a large collection of musical instruments, recorded music, ornate royal funeral chariots, and impressive wooden carvings. It houses the largest collection of local art and artifacts and has been undergoing renovations over the past few years so it’s slowly becoming more interactive and English-friendly (though some sections still don’t have English signs). Nevertheless, it’s still incredibly interesting to see the artifacts and items in the collection. They offer English tours on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:30am.

Na Phra That Alley, +66 2 224 1333, virtualmuseum.finearts.go.th/bangkoknationalmuseums. Open Wednesday-Sunday from 9:30am-4pm. Admission is 200 THB.
 

16. Take a Cooking Class 

A delicious meal of khao soi in Bangkok, Thailand
Thai cuisine is one of the most delicious in the world. If you want to learn how to make some of the country’s mouth-watering dishes, take a cooking class. You’ll learn about Thai cuisine and cooking and be able to take your new knowledge and skills home with you. Here are some companies worth checking out to help you get started:

 

17. Hang Out at Soi Nana

There are two areas in Bangkok called Soi Nana. One is a sex tourism hub and not the one you should visit. The Soi Nana I’m referring to is known for its fun, hip nightlife. Located near the train station in Chinatown, this street is filled with bars and cocktail lounges making it a great place to have a few drinks and get a feel for the city’s wild nightlife.

Some of my favorite bars in the area are Pijiu (Chinese beer bar), Teens of Thailand (first gin bar in Thailand), Ba Hao (four-floor Chinese-inspired bar), El Chiringuito (Spanish tapas), 23 Bar & Gallery (bar in an art space).
 

18. Enjoy an Event at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center

The interior of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center in Bangkok, Thailand
If you’re a fan of live music, art, and performance, be sure to visit the city’s Culture Center to see if anything is happening while you’re in town. Opened in 2007, the BACC hosts art, music, theater, film, design, and cultural events in its exhibition and performance spaces. There is also an art library, cafe, gallery, craft shop, and book store here too.

939 Rama I Road, +66 2 214 6630-8, bacc.or.th. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-9pm. Admission is free.
 

19. Wakeboard at Lake Taco 

If you want to get out of the city and have some adventure, head to the eastern outskirts of Bangkok for some wakeboarding (riding on a short board while being pulled along a set route). The lake is just 40 minutes away. This is a popular thing to do with expats and though I never did it (I’m not much of an adrenaline junkie) my friends always said it was a fun time. It costs around 500 THB but comes with everything you need to have fun and stay safe (board, helmet, life jacket).
 

20. Take a Day Trip to Ayutthaya

The famous and historic temples of Ayutthaya near Bangkok, Thailand
Ayutthaya (pronounced ah-you-tah-ya) was founded around 1350 and was the second capital of Thailand (it was the capital before moving to Bangkok). Unfortunately, the city was destroyed in 1767 by a Burmese attack and there are only ruins and a few temples and palaces still left standing.

In 1991, it became a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a popular day-trip destination from Bangkok as it’s just 90 minutes away. While lots of companies offer tours, I recommend you simply go on your own by train (it’s much cheaper that way). A typical day tour of the area will cost you about 500 THB.
 

21. See a Ladyboy Show

This glitzy spectacle is Bangkok’s version of Moulin Rouge. It’s a lively cabaret show with show tunes, dancing, K-pop, and elaborate costumes. It’s a glamorous, rambunctious night out that is guaranteed to entertain. Calypso Cabaret, founded in 1988, is the best place to see a show in the city. Playhouse Cabaret and Golden Dome Cabaret are two other reputable venues that host fun performances as well.

Tickets from 900 THB per person.
 

22. Take a Food Tour

The delicious food from a Vanguard food tour in Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is all about food. It is a foodie city. The sheer variety of options is staggering. You have food from all over the world. To develop a deeper appreciation of Thai food and learn more about the cuisine, consider a food tour.

My favorite food tour company is Bangkok Vanguards. Their tour was put together with the help of my friend Mark Wiens from Migrationology. Mark is the biggest foodie I know and he spent years crafting the perfect Bangkok foodie tour. It doesn’t disappoint!

***

Bangkok is a world-class city that is worth spending the time to explore. While I didn’t like it when I first visited, after spending more time there I got to understand and appreciate what the city has to offer. You need to look beneath the surface here to really get a sense of the city. Do that and you won’t be disappointed.

 

Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Bangkok!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to BangkokMy detailed, 80-page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guidebooks and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money while in Bangkok, a city I used to call home (so I know it really well!). You’ll find suggested itineraries and budgets, ways to save money, on- and off-the-beaten-path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more! Click here to learn more and get started!

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Book Your Trip to Bangkok: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Get Your Guide
Check out my detailed guide to planning a visit to NYC with suggested itineraries, places to stay, things to do, where to eat, and how to get around. Just click here to get the guide and continue planning today!

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. Some of my favorite places to stay in Bangkok are:

If you’re looking for more places to stay, here are my favorite hostels in Bangkok.

And, if you’re wondering what part of town to stay in, here’s my neighborhood breakdown of Bangkok!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Photo credit: 7 – Twang_Dunga, 9 – J. Maughn, 11 – m-louis, 14 – Bangkok Vanguards

The post The 22 Best Things to See and Do in Bangkok appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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The Life of a Travel Writer with David Farley

Posted By : webmaster/ 108 0


Author and Professor, David Farley
Updated: 8/24/20 | August 24th, 2020

When I started in the travel industry, one writer came up often in conversation: David Farley. He was a rock-star writer who taught at NYU and Columbia, wrote for AFAR, National Geographic, the New York Times, and many other publications. I always wondered who this guy was. He was almost mythical. He was never at any events.

But, one day, he turned up and, over the years, we became good friends. His writing tips and advice have helped me immensely, and his impressive résumé and keen sense of story are why I partnered with him on this website’s travel writing course.

Unlike me, David is a more traditional magazine/freelance/newspaper writer. He’s not a blogger. And. today I thought interview David about his life as a travel writer.

Nomadic Matt: Tell everyone about yourself!
David Farley: A few interesting facts about me: My weight at birth was 8 lbs., 6 oz. I grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs. I was in a rock band in high school; we played late-night gigs at Hollywood clubs, and we weren’t very good. I travel a lot, but I have no interest in counting the number of countries I’ve been to.

I’ve lived in San Francisco, Paris, Prague, Berlin, and Rome, but I currently live in New York City.

How did you get into travel writing?
The usual way: by accident. I was in graduate school and my girlfriend at the time, a writer, proofread one of my 40-page research papers — I think it was on the exciting topic of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s — and afterward she said, “You know, don’t take this the wrong way, but your writing was better than I expected.”

She encouraged me to write stuff other than boring history papers. I heeded her call.

One of the first stories that got published was about a pig killing I attended in a village on the Czech-Austrian border. After that, enough of the stories got published, mostly in travel publications, that by default I became a “travel writer.”

I ended up breaking into Condé Nast Traveler, working my way all the way up to the features section, as well as the New York Times. Eventually, I wrote a book that Penguin published. Then I expanded my field of interest to food and now I often combine food and travel.

Having done this for about two decades, one thing I’ve learned is that the “expectations of success” is really just a myth in our minds. I always thought, for example, that once I write for the New York Times I’ll have “made it.” Then it happened and didn’t really feel like I had done so.

Maybe when I write a feature for a big travel magazine? Nope.

Maybe a book published by one of the biggest publishing houses in the world? Not really.

The point is: just keep striving in the direction of success and forget about various plateaus you want to get to. I think it’s a much healthier way to go.

Do you have any favorite experiences/destinations that you’ve been able to write about?
I’d long been wanting to go to Hanoi to investigate, report on, and write about the origins of pho. I finally convinced the New York Times to let me do it in February. It was amazing and delicious.

But then, as we all know, the pandemic decided to swirl its way around the world, and, as a result, most travel stories—including this one—are rotting away on editors’ hard drives for the time being.

I’ve been really lucky to convince editors to let me delve deep into some things that I’m fascinated with and/or love such as spending two weeks hanging out with the guys who cremate bodies on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi to see what I could learn about life and death.

I got to spend a month volunteering in a refugee camp in Greece and write a dispatch about it.

I went cycling across southern Bosnia with four great friends following a bike trail that was carved out of an erstwhile train track.

I got drunk on vodka with old Ukrainian ladies in their homes in the Exclusion Zone in Chernobyl.

And I hiked across a swath of Kenya with my uncle, sister, and brother and law for a good cause: we raised thousands of dollars for an AIDS orphanage there and also got to spend a few days with the children.

I could go on and on — which is precisely what makes this a rewarding profession.

What are some of the biggest illusions people have about travel writing?
That you can peel off a feature story for a travel magazine just like that [snaps fingers]. It takes so much work for each story to get to the type of experiences we end up writing about — a lot of phone calls and emails to set up interviews and to get your foot in the door some places.

When a magazine is paying you to go to a place so you can come back with an interesting story, you have to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work to ensure that you’re going to have a good story. It rarely just happens on its own.

Travel stories are essentially a fake or altered reality, filtered through the writer and based on how much reporting she or he did on the spot, as well as her or his past experiences and knowledge about life and the world.

How has the industry changed in recent years? Is it still possible for new writers to break into the industry?
Very much. In the last few years, we’ve seen an industry-wide push to be more inclusive of female and BIPOC writers, which is a great thing. The publishing industry – magazines, newspapers, books – is always ready to accept great, new writers.

The key is that you, as a writer, need to learn how the industry works first.

So, how do people even go about breaking into the industry?
In the decade or so I taught travel writing at NYU and Columbia University, the students of mine that went on to write for the New York Times, National Geographic, and other publications were not necessarily the most talented in the class; they were the most driven. They really wanted it.

And that made all the difference.

What that means is they put enough energy into this endeavor to learn how the game is played: how to write a pitch, how to find an editor’s email address, how to improve your writing, learning the nuts and bolts of writing, and expertly knowing the market that’s out there for travel articles (i.e. learning the types of stories that various publications publish).

It seems there are fewer paying publications these days and it’s harder to find work. How does that affect new writers? What can new writers do to stand out?
I realize this is a hard one, but living abroad is really helpful. You end up with so much material for personal essays and you gain a knowledge of the region that allows you to become something of an authority on the area. It gives you a leg up on other people who are pitching stories about that place.

That said, you don’t have to go far to write about travel. You can write about the place where you live.

After all, people travel there, right? You can write everything from magazine and newspaper travel section pieces to personal essays, all about where you’re currently residing.

How do you think COVID-19 will affect the industry?
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has put a hold on travel writing a bit. People are still writing about travel but it’s mostly been pandemic-related stories. That said, no one knows what the future holds. Which in a perverse way–not just about the travel writing industry but in the bigger picture as well–makes life and reality kind of interesting too.

And while many people are losing their jobs and magazines are folding, I have a feeling the industry will bounce back. It just might not be over night. Which is why it’s a perfect time to build up those writing chops. You can also shift your focus for the time being to writing about local places and about other niches (food, tech, lifestyle) based on your expertise and interest.

What can new writers do now to improve their writing?
Read. A lot. And don’t just read, but read like a writer.

Deconstruct the piece in your mind as you’re reading.

Pay attention to how the writer has structured her or his piece, how they opened it and concluded it and so on. Also, read books on good writing.

This really helped me a lot when I was first starting out.

For most of us, talking to strangers is not easy. Plus, our moms told us not to do so. But the best travel stories are those that are most reported. So the more we talk to people, the more likely other opportunities arise and the more material you have to work with. It makes the writing of the story so much easier.

Sometimes you’ll be right in the middle of a situation and think: this would make a great opening to my story. My good friend Spud Hilton, former travel editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, says that the dirty secret to good travel writing is that bad experiences make the best stories. This is true, but please don’t put yourself in a bad situation just for your writing. You can write a great piece without having to get your wallet stolen or losing your passport.

What books do you suggest new travel writers read?
There are a few books out there on how to be a travel writer, but they’re all embarrassingly abysmal. For me, I write William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well” and James B. Stewart’s “Follow the Story” when I was first starting out and they were very helpful.

For a memoir or personal essay, Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” is excellent.

For great travel books, it depends on what your interests are. For history-laden travel, anything by Tony Perrottet and David Grann are incredible; for humor, David Sedaris, A.A. Gill, Bill Bryson, and J. Maarten Troost; for just straight-up great writing, Joan Didion, Susan Orlean, and Jan Morris.

I highly recommend reading your way through the series of annual Best American Travel Writing anthologies.

Where do you find inspiration for your articles? What motivates you?
I get my motivation and inspiration from unlikely sources. I think about the creative masters and wonder how I can tap into their genius.

What did Austrian painter Egon Schiele see when he looked at a subject and then the canvas?

How did Prince put out an album a year from 1981 to 1989, each one a masterpiece and each one cutting-edge and like nothing anyone else at the time was doing?

Is there a way to apply this creativity to travel writing?

I’m not saying I’m on par with these geniuses — far from it — but if I could somehow even slightly be inspired by their creativity, I’d be better off for it.

More specifically for the articles that I end up writing, a lot of it just falls into my lap. The key, though, is recognizing it’s a story. A friend will casually mention some weird facts about a place in the world and it’s our job to take that fact and ask yourself: is there a story there?

What’s the most difficult part about being a travel writer? 
The rejection. You really have to get used to it and just accept that it’s part of your life. It’s really easy to take it seriously and let it get you down. I know — I have done this.

You just have to brush it off and move on, get back on that literary bike, and keep trying until someone finally says yes. Be tenacious.

Writing is a craft. You don’t have to be born with a natural talent for it. You just need a strong desire to become better at it. And, by taking writing classes, reading books about it, talking to people about it, etc. you will become a better writer.

If you could go back in time and tell young David one thing about writing, what would it be? 
I would have taken more classes to both keep learning — one should never stop learning about writing — and to force myself to write when perhaps I didn’t want to.

I think we can all learn from each other, and so putting yourself in that kind of instructive environment is helpful. I took one writing class — a nonfiction writing course at UC Berkeley — and it was super helpful.

***

If you’re looking to improve your writing or just start as a travel writer, David and I teach a very detailed and robust travel writing course. Through video lectures, personalized feedback, and examples of edited and deconstructed stories, you’ll get the course David taught at NYU and Columbia – without the college price.

Additionally, David will be doing a FREE webinar this Thursday, August 27th on travel writing as part of our Nomadic Network series of free events.

For more from David, check out his book, An Irreverent Curiosity or visit his blog, Trip Out.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all those I use — and they’ll save you time and money too!

The post The Life of a Travel Writer with David Farley appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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My Favorite Gear for Travelers

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A map, backpack, and other gear for travel
Posted: 9/10/20 | September 10th, 2020

What do you take on your trip? What do you need? As long time readers know, I’m a fan of packing light. I don’t think you really need much when you travel. As a backpacker, I want to make sure everything I own fits into one bag. I often think people bring too much stuff when they travel.

I went to Costa Rica on my first trip overseas and I took with me the entire suggested packing list my tour company gave customers. I carried around so much stuff I never used. Years later, when I did my first backpacking trip around the world, I still carried so much, I ended up leaving stuff in hostels as I went.

But I also recognize everyone has different travel styles and needs. No two travelers are alike.

As you prepare for future trips and are wondering “what do I really need to bring?”, I wanted to give you a list of what I view as practical and must-have items. These items won’t take up too much space, are incredibly useful, and will make your trip better.

Here’s my favorite travel gear:

 

Items Under $25

1. Travel Padlock

Master travel padlockSafety first! If you’re a budget traveler and plan on staying in hostels during your next trip then you’ll need one of these. Since most hostels use lockers, budget travelers need to provide their own travel lock if they want to keep their stuff secured. While you can usually rent or buy them at hostels, it’s much cheaper just to buy one before you go.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

2. Travel Adapter

travel adapterAs many travelers have learned, it’s incredibly frustrating (not to mention inconvenient) to arrive at a new destination only to realize you can’t charge your phone or computer because the electrical outlets are different. That’s why you’ll want a travel adapter. They’re a simple accessory but a necessary one if you’re visiting different regions of the world. This is one I personally use as it covers every region of the world (and comes with USB ports too). It’s affordable, easy to use, and lightweight.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

3. Packing Cubes

travel packing cubesIf you’re going to be living our of a backpack for a few weeks (or months) or you just want to keep your suitcase better organized, buy packing cubes. They come in a variety of sizes, allowing you to store items big and small. They’re great for making it easy to find everything in your backpack or suitcase. (If you want better-quality packing cubes, check these ones out!)

Buy now on Amazon!
 

4. Earplugs

travel ear plugsAnyone who has ever stayed in a hostel knows that earplugs are a necessity. From snorers to late-night drinkers to copulating couples — I’ve heard it all. Even if you’re not going to be in a hostel, they’re still helpful for sleeping in buses, overnight trains, and other types of transportation. A good night’s sleep is priceless — travel prepared!

Buy now on Amazon!
 

5. DryFox Quick Dry Travel Towel

sea to summit travel towelUnless you’re only staying at hotels and using Airbnb, you’re going to need to bring a towel. Having a lightweight, quick-drying towel makes a huge difference when you’re on the road since regular towels are too bulky and heavy (and they take a long time to dry). Instead, get a travel towel. They’re a compact, quick-drying solution that every backpacker needs. (Use code “nomadicmatt” for 15% off your purchase!)

Buy now at DryFoxCo!
 

6. Passport Holder

travel scratch mapA passport holder is a must-have for any avid traveler. It protects your passport from wear and tear — which is important because a damaged passport might get you sent home early or denied entry to a destination (plus, replacing a passport is an expensive hassle). While there are tons of pricey, fancy options out there, a simple one will get the job done.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

7. Toothpaste Bites

Bites toothpaste jar with spilled toothpaste tabsHaving to travel with liquids is a pain. They’re always a hassle at airport security. And when it comes to toothpaste, there is a lot of waste (you never get all the toothpaste out and the plastic package is bad for the environment). Enter toothpaste bites. These dry tabs of toothpaste that come in a recyclable jar (no plastic!). They take some getting used to but they’re an eco-friendly option for the environmentally-conscious traveler. (If Bite doesn’t ship to your area of the world, Lush also sells toothpaste and mouthwash tabs).

Buy now at Bite!
 

8. Moleskine Notebook

moleskine travel notebookI never leave home without one of these. Not only to I use them for work (I’m constantly taking notes and writing down ideas) but I also use them to keep track of my travels so I have something to look back on. They are the perfect notebook for journaling during your trip as well as for writing down travel notes such as directions, contact information, and language tips. Even in this hyper-technological age, I think everyone needs to write more during their travels so they have something to look back on.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

9. Celiac Travel Cards

Legal Nomads celiac logoMy friend Jodi from Legal Nomads created these helpful travel cards for anyone traveling with Celiac disease. They are in-depth resources that communicate your concerns to restaurant staff in a way that allows anyone traveling with the disease to have a worry-free meal. If you or someone you love has Celiac disease, these travel cards are a useful resource! (Use the code NOMADICMATT for 10% off!)

Buy now at Legal Nomads!
 

10. First Aid Kit

If you’re going to be doing any hiking, biking, or other activities during your trip I suggest bringing a small first aid kit. It just needs to include the basics (band-aids, antibiotic cream (Polysporin), paracetamol (Tylenol), gauze, etc.) so that if you get a small cut, blister, or burn you won’t need to worry about infections. Of course, you should always buy travel insurance before you leave home but this will help you take care of any minor cuts or scrapes you get during your travels.

(Also, as I think we’ve all learned over the past few months, bring some hand sanitizer too!). Here’s more information on how to pack a basic first aid kit.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

Items Under $100

11. LifeStraw

lifestraw water filterSingle-use plastics are common in a lot of countries around the world. They’re also polluting our oceans and destroying the environment. But when you’re traveling, they can be hard to avoid if you want to stay safe. Fortuantely, you can do your part to help the planet by traveling with a reusable filter. LifeStraw is an awesome brand that sells bottles with built in water filters. The filters last 5 years so you save money on changing them too. You’ll be able to stay healthy and lower your reliance on single-use plastics. Double win!

Buy now at LifeStraw!
 

12. Travel Headlamp

travel head lampThis is a handy tool for both backpackers and anyone looking to do any hiking or camping. If you’re going to be staying in a hostel, having a headlamp is helpful when you need to check in or out but don’t want to disturb your fellow travelers by turning on the lights. They’re also helpful in emergencies.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

13. Trtl Travel Pillow

a comfortable travel pillowTravel pillows are perfect for those long-haul flights, delayed buses, and airport naps. Every avid traveler should have a travel pillow. They just make being in transit all the more comfortable. They help prevent jetlag and make even the longest, most uncomfortable trip a little more bearable.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

14. Suavs shoes

suavs shoesSuavs shoes are versatile and durable. They’re perfect for traveling because they work for exploring a new city while also looking a little fancier so you can dress them up if you have to. They are flexible, light, washable, and breathable. I love them!

Buy now on Suavs!
 

Items Over $100

15. Travel Backpack

REI Flash travel backpackIf you’re a long-term traveler, your backpack is your home away from home. A reliable, durable travel backpack is a must for budget travelers, minimalists, and backpackers. A well-made bag will last for years and through dozens of adventures. Having a reliable travel backpack is one of the most important items for a traveler and is worth investing in.

My favorite bag is the Flash 45 from REI but other companies worth checking out for high-quality bags are Osprey, Nomatic, and MEC (for Canadians).

For a different backpack suggestions, check out my guide to finding the right backpack!

16. Travel Clothing from Unbound Merino

Unbound Merino wool shirtThese travel clothes are some of the most versatile on the market. Made from merino wool, Unbound Merino offers clothing that can be worn daily for weeks without getting smelly. They are super light (great for carry-on only travelers) and they look sylish too. I really love the material, they’re comfortable, they hardly ever need a wash, and they last forever!

Buy now on Unbound!
 

17. Eco-friendly Luggage from Samsonite

samsonite recycled eco-friendly travel luggageIf you’re looking for a suitcase instead of a travel backpack, Samsonite has been a go-to brand for durable, quality luggage for ages. Personally, I’m a backpack guy but even I am a fan of this luggage set because it’s made from 100% recycled plastic. Not only that, it also comes with a limited 10 year warranty in case something goes wrong.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

18. Kindle

a kindle from AmazonPersonally, I prefer physical books when I travel. However, I can’t argue against the convenience and simplicity of the Kindle. I’ll admit, hauling around physical books is a pain. It’s old-fashioned and inconvenient. With a Kindle, you can pack thousands of books into a single device, ensuring you always have something good to read when you’re in transit.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

19. GoPro Hero 8 Black

gopro hero 7I’m not much of a photographer myself, but even I’ll admit that every traveler needs a camera. If you want something better than your phone but still easy to use, get a GoPro. They’re durable and take incredible photos and video without a steep learning curve. They’re waterproof too and work well for both everyday exploring as well as adventurous activities. It’s the most versatile camera there is.

Buy now on Amazon!

***

Whether you’re heading out for a two-week vacation or a full round-the-world adventure, this list of travel gear will help you get started. You need a lot of stuff when you travel but the right stuff can make a world of difference.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years.

My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

The post My Favorite Gear for Travelers appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to Plan a Successful RV Trip

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Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek posing in the arctic circle
Posted: 8/27/20 | August 27th, 2020

Since international travel on pause, people have turned to exploring their own backyards. From the U.S. to Canada to England, Europe, and New Zealand, people are getting in cars, campervans, and RVs and heading out on road trips. After all, it allows you to social distance while still getting outside!

Today, I’ve invited my friends Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek to share their RV tips and advice. They’re full-time RVers and will help you get your next RV adventure started easily and on a budget!

A couple of years back, the van life craze had everyone curious about rubber-tramping across North America. Maybe you thought, nah, I prefer my city apartment or jet-setting abroad.

Then COVID-19 hit. All of a sudden, getting out of Dodge with a house on wheels started to sound really good, didn’t it?

There is no doubt that RVing is one of the easiest and safest ways to travel right now. No crowded planes or questionable hotel rooms required — an RV gives you the freedom to explore and the peace of mind of having your own space.

Over the course of our eight-year “HoneyTrek” we’ve tried virtually every style of travel — backpacking, house-sitting, small-ship cruising, backcountry camping, five-star honeymooning, etc. — but the day we rented a campervan in New Zealand, we knew this was our preferred mode of travel.

For the past three years, we’ve been traveling full-time in our 1985 Toyota Sunrader “Buddy the Camper,” from the Baja Peninsula to the Arctic Circle and 47 states in between.

We’ve learned a lot along the way and are excited to share what we think are the most important things to know before setting out on your RV journey.

Here’s a video we just filmed which covers all the basics (or read the post below):

 

How to Pick the Right Size RV

For maximum adventure and comfort, we’d recommend a camper around 21 feet long. We know those big RVs tricked out like a penthouse apartment look tempting, but remember that every foot in length costs mobility. A shorter rig allows you to:

  • Access rugged terrain
  • Fit in a normal parking space, even parallel park
  • Avoid length restrictions on some of America’s most beautiful winding roads and ferry rides
  • Get better gas mileage (Most rigs get 6–10 MPG. Ours gets 19.)
  • Have less stuff to break, which means more time exploring and having fun!

And, while even shorter 16- to 19-foot-long campervans do have the ultimate mobility, there are a few things you should know before you fall for that adorable Westfalia or stealthy Sprinter.

First, life ain’t so pretty without your own indoor shower and bathroom. And, while we respect the vanlifers who make do with public restrooms, bucket toilets, and catholes (digging a hole outside when you need to go to the bathroom), let us tell you the virtues of having a flushing loo: privacy, cleanliness, and autonomy.

We can be in a city center or a protected conservation area and conveniently and responsibly stay the night. In these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever to be self-sufficient and not rely on shared facilities.

Besides a bathroom, a 19- to 22-foot long RV is big enough to also give you a proper bed and ample storage while still being small enough to explore with wild abandon.
 

How to Get Power (A.K.A. the Virtues of Solar)

Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek boondocking in Pariah Canyon, USA
RVs and campers have a house battery to run the lights, water pump, fans, and power electronics. Here are the various way to keep it charged:

  • Drive a few hours per day
  • Pay to plug in at a campground
  • Run a generator
  • Have solar panels

Your average road trip will likely give you enough charge from driving, but if you really need power, an RV park is never far away. If you are looking to slow-cruise the wilderness and lower your environmental impact, solar panels are a must. The simplest and most affordable option ($70–150 USD) is to get a portable panel and use it whenever you’re stopped in order to charge up the house battery of your RV. This obviously isn’t as convenient or powerful as an integrated system, but it should be enough to keep your phone and laptop charged.

If you are in this for the long haul, though, you’re going to want to install a solar system. We bought 300 watts of flexible monocrystalline solar panels, installed them to the roof, and wired them all together with a charge controller, lead-acid battery, and power inverter in about 20 hours — all for $1,200 USD.

If you want the best efficiency and lifespan, spring for a lithium-ion deep cycle battery, like the Relion RB100. If a DIY electrical project sounds too scary, you can have it professionally installed for $1,000–2,000 USD. We know that’s is a chunk of change, but investing in solar has allowed us to spend the last three years without having to ever pay for electricity, worry about running out of power, or generating any greenhouse gases.
 

How to Get Internet

Anne from HoneyTrek working on a laptop in her RV
Your smartphone is your on-the-go router. It’s important to use a carrier with an extensive national network (AT&T or Verizon) so as to get reception in remote areas (the dream is to be using your laptop from a secluded beach, right?).

We use our Verizon phone as a hotspot for our two laptops, getting 50GB unthrottled per month, plus unlimited calls and texts, for $109 USD.

While that’s a decent amount of data, it’s not a home internet plan through which you can be streaming all day. If you’ll be on the road for more than a couple weeks, monitor your usage with the GlassWire app and install NetLimiter on your laptop to help ration your data. Save your big downloads and uploads for free Wi-Fi zones.

We love working at libraries, not just for the internet but for their inspiring spaces, peace and quiet, community offerings, and open invitation to stay all day.

And, when all else fails, McDonald’s and Starbucks have wifi that’s usually strong enough to tap from the comforts of your camper.
 

How to Find Places to Camp

Your basic campground typically offers a flat parking spot with a picnic table, fire pit, and shared bathroom for $10–30 USD per night. If you bump up to $35–80 USD a night, you’re in RV park territory and will likely get power, water, sewer, and shared amenities like a clubhouse and a pool.

But did you know there are tens of thousands of free campsites scattered around the wilds of the USA? The federal government has reserved 640 million acres of public lands (national forests, BLM [Bureau of Land Management] land, national conservation areas, etc.) for your enjoyment. These sites are pretty bare-bones (sometimes it’s just a clearing in the forest) but, since we have a self-contained camper with our own drinking water and bathroom, all we really want is a peaceful spot with a good view.

This style of independent camping has many names: dispersed camping, wild camping, dry camping, freedom camping, and most commonly “boondocking.” We find our favorite boondocking spots via the Ultimate Campgrounds app, which we use to see what sites are nearby.

If we’re striking out on that app, we turn to iOverlander and FreeCampsites.net.

With these apps, we’re able to find great camping on the fly and rarely pay a dime.

That said, there is a time and place for more traditional campgrounds. They can be a great way to meet other campers, enjoy a few extra services, or stay in the heart of a national park. ReserveAmerica.com is the main campground portal (290,000 listings!) for public (national and state parks) and private campgrounds. HipCamp.com also has extensive offerings and is our favorite for unique sites on private land — it’s like the Airbnb of camping. KOA has tons of options too.

If you know there is a certain place you want to be on a specific night, you can book in advance. But also just don’t be afraid to go with the flow — there is always a beautiful boondocking spot somewhere!
 

Urban Boondocking

Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek boondocking in Seattle, USA
Speaking of boondocking, it’s not just for the woods. We have spent countless nights “camping” in the heart of cities, and if you adhere to a few simple rules, you can feel confident doing the same:

  • Obey all street signs and curb markings and keep the meter fed. If it says “no overnight parking,” take heed. If there is any ambiguity in the signage (street cleaning conflicts, permit parking, etc.), find another spot.
  • Don’t overstay your welcome. We usually limit our time in the same parking spot to two nights.
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself with excessive lights, music, noise, etc. Even though our 1980s RV is far from a stealth camper, we have slept in over 50 cities and never been asked to “move along.”

Be smart, be respectful, and the world is your campground.
 

How to Save Money on Gas

Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek parked at a small general store
We know gas is only around $2 USD/gallon at the moment, but when it comes to your long-term travel budget, every bit counts. Here are some tips to save at the pump:

  • Get the GasBuddy app. It allows you to see the gas prices along your route, often saving upwards of 50 cents per gallon, particularly if you can wait to cross a state line or get farther off the highway.
  • Get yourself a Discover card and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited card; certain months of the year, they offer 5% off your fill-up.
  • Sign up for gas station rewards programs, especially Shell and Pilot, which give 3–5 cents off per gallon.
  • Keep your tires inflated at the recommended PSI, and drive under 55mph. In addition to the gas savings, it’s safer and prolongs the life of your rig.

How to Find the Back Roads

Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek in the Black Hills
Set your GPS to “avoid highways” and you’ll discover just how beautiful this country can be. Interstates have blazed straight lines across the nation but the old network of roads, working with the contours of the land and connecting historic towns, still exists.

The best routes are America’s Byways, a collection of 150 distinct and diverse roads protected by the Department of Transportation for their natural or cultural value.

Even better than that website (because you can’t rely on back roads’ cell reception) is a hard copy of the National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways. It maps out the prettiest drives in every state, with something to marvel at even in “the flyover states.” We refer to it every time we start a big drive and discover interesting landmarks, quirky museums, scenic viewpoints, quintessential eateries, and short hikes, which always improves the ride.
 

Take Glamping Breaks

Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek glamping in the desert
To make sure you don’t burn out on small-space, off-grid living, treat yourself to the occasional glamping getaway. Creative outdoor accommodations with a plush bed, hot shower, and friendly host always remind us how much we love the woods.

When we get to a glamp camp, we can walk away from our normal responsibilities (setting up camp, cooking for ourselves, and DIY everything) and truly relax. A gorgeous treehouse, dome, yurt, or safari tent has been designed with your enjoyment in mind, and if you need anything, your host is at the ready.

A little pampering and fresh take on the outdoors will give you the energy to keep on truckin’.

To find fabulous getaways along your route, check out our glamping book, Comfortably Wild: The Best Glamping Destinations in North America.
 

How to Protect Yourself and Your Ride

You’ll be exploring remote areas, going down rough roads, and having wild adventures (get excited!). Consider these three forms of protection and you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way:

  • RV insurance – While this is specialty car insurance, the good news is it can be cheaper than insuring a sedan (we pay $375 USD a year for our Progressive plan).
  • Travel insurance – While most people think of travel insurance for big international trips, it usually kicks in 100 miles from your house, covering health emergencies, trip delays, canceled reservations (from campgrounds to river rafting excursions), and a variety of other snafus. Rather than getting insurance every time we hit the road, we use the Allianz All Trips Premier Plan so we’re automatically covered wherever we go throughout the year.
  • Roadside assistance – Good ol’ AAA does have RV plans, but we like that Good Sam is designed specifically for RVers and doesn’t charge a premium for it. An annual membership covers towing RVs of all sizes, tire blowouts, running out of gas, locking your keys in your vehicle, plus lots of other benefits and travel discounts.

***

As full-timers, we’re incredibly passionate about RVing and lot to share road trip itineraries, advice about buying a vintage camper, and lessons learned from three years on the road. While there is a lot to know about RV travel, renting a camper is a safe and easy way to get started. And there is a wonderful RV and #vanlife community online that will be happy to help too.

Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in January 2012 and never came home. They created HoneyTrek.com to chronicle their journey across all seven continents and help people realize their travel dreams. They are the authors of National Geographic’s bestselling book, Ultimate Journeys for Two, and the first-ever book on glamping in North America, Comfortably Wild.

Book Your Trip to the USA: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Need an affordable RV for your road trip?
RVshare lets you rent RVs from private individuals all around the country, saving you tons of money in the process. It’s like Airbnb for RVs, making roads trips fun and affordable!

Want More Information on traveling the United States?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide to the US for even more tips on how to plan your visit!

The post How to Plan a Successful RV Trip appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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A Love Letter to Maine

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A picturesque lighthouse on the coast of Maine
Posted: 9/8/2020 | September 8th, 2020

Tucked away up in the northeast corner of the United States, Maine evokes images of endless shorelines, wild forests, Stephen King, iconic lighthouses, and lots and lots of lobster dinners.

Despite growing up only 90 minutes from the state, I only visited once in my life. I was in college and my friend George was from there, so one weekend, we drove up to his hometown of Gorham.

Maine was always one of those places that I felt I could visit anytime so was never a rush to do so. There was always a flight to some distant land to get on instead. Maine could wait.

People tend to put off traveling their “backyard” until the end and I was no different.

But then COVID struck and there were no more flights to distant lands.

A busy harbour on the coast of Maine, USA

There was just my backyard to see.

So, while I was back in Boston longing for nature, I decided to finally visit Maine. My original plan was to spend a roughly ten days there before heading to Vermont then Upstate New York and then back to Boston.

But as the days ticked by, 10 turned to 12, which turned to 14, which turned to 21.

I just couldn’t quit Maine.

I loved the quiet, slow pace of the state.

I loved the small-town feel to the cities, and the fact you were never far from nature. Every city had access to it, and there was always someplace to go hike. Even tiny Bangor had parks and greenways galore.

Nomadic Matt posing for a photo in Acadia National Park, Maine

I loved the food. Besides traditional lobsters and oysters and other seafood we all know about, there was excellent Thai food, upscale American, and creative gastronomy. There was a lot of good food in Maine and, as someone who plans their travels mostly around food, Maine was perfect.

I loved all the microbreweries. Maine is one of the best states for beer and I found myself bouncing from microbrew to microbrew in search of the best IPA. (The winner was Rising Tide in Portland.)

And, of course, there were the people. There’s something about the state that makes everyone smiley, talkative, and welcoming. They’d ask you where you were from, shoot the shit with you, and always have suggestions on where to go next. From the diner owner in Bangor to the staff at the hotel I ended up extending to my stay at to the attendant at the park — who, when I asked directions, decided that was his chance to go into a long soliloquy on his state — to countless others, people in Maine were really nice.

Stephen King's house in Maine, USA

My time there took me to Portland, Bangor, Camden, Acadia National Park, Moosehead Lake, and tiny coastal towns for lunch stops. I learned to shuck oysters. I went on a hike every day. I read lots of books. I ate a lot of delicious food. Since COVID-19 closed most museums and indoor attractions, there was no much else to do. (But, really, who needs more than that?)

In small-town Maine, the rest of the country and its troubles seemed far away. A friend described it as the place for those who want to get away from society but feel like Alaska is too far. In a state where the population density is 41 per square mile (38th in the country), it seems like a perfect analogy.

A peaceful river surrounded by trees in Maine, USA

Maine seems to enchant people, casting a magical spell that lasts forever. It’s no wonder so many people I know from Boston go to Maine every summer. And it’s no wonder why I suddenly found myself calculating how much a summer home there would really cost and, if I too, want to spend the rest of summers here.

In a word, Maine is magical.

If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all with beautiful forests to hike, long coastlines to explore, delicious food to eat, and friendly people to chat with, you need to visit Maine.

Thank me later.

And send me a postcard.

Logistical Information
Eat: Duckfat (Portland), Eventide (Portland), Bite into Maine (Portland), Gidden Point Oyster Farm (Damariscotta), Long Grain (Camden), The Traveling Lobster (Bar Harbor), Havana (Bar Harbor), Rosalie’s (Bar Harbor), Beal’s Lobster (Southwest Harbor), The Fiddlehead (Bangor), Judy’s (Bangor), Stress Free Moose Pub (Greenville)
Drink: Rising Tide (Portland), Stress Free Moose Pub (Greenville), Atlantic Brewing Company (Bar Harbor), Bissell Brothers (Portland), Urban Farm (Portland), Mason’s Brewing (Bangor)
Stay: Black Elephant Hostel (Portland), Leisure Life (Moosehead Lake), Bar Harbor Manor (Bar Harbor)

Book Your Trip to the United State: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Need an affordable RV for your road trip?
RVshare lets you rent RVs from private individuals all around the country, saving you tons of money in the process. It’s like Airbnb for RVs.

Want more information on the United States?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on the USA for even more planning tips!

The post A Love Letter to Maine appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Discover Something New at Home this Holiday Season

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Traveling “home” this holiday season? Don’t fall into your old routine. Your high school hangout may be an easy go-to, but if you don’t live there anymore there’s a good chance you’re missing out on some great new local spots. (Plus, be honest: you already know what all your classmates are up to from Facebook.)

We turned to local writers to help you rediscover your hometown over Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Each city guide features a great new restaurant to try while you’re in town, a cool neighborhood that wasn’t on the radar last year or a store where you can pick up a keepsake to bring your old home back to your new home. We’ll also catch you up to speed on the hot topics of conversation in each city, so you’ll come back savvy enough to join the local sports banter or eat your holiday weight in Cronuts.

Click your city below to learn what’s new since the last time you went home:

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Discover Something New at Home this Holiday Season originally appeared on Gadling on Mon, 25 Nov 2013 12:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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4 Thanksgiving Travel Tips to Save You Time

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APTOPIX Airport Travel
Associated Press

Sure, some of these travel tips are basic. But Thanksgiving travel is looking to be an even bigger mess than normal this year, especially around the East Coast. So this 90-second refresher from Samantha Brown and Mark “Hawkeye Louis” could save you hours.

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4 Thanksgiving Travel Tips to Save You Time originally appeared on Gadling on Tue, 26 Nov 2013 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Will You Be a Horrible Restaurant Customer This Holiday Season?

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Hispanic waitress taking order
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So you’ve finished your Thanksgiving dinner and you’re finally sick of turkey leftovers. It’s time to get out there and hit the great new restaurant that just opened in your hometown or wherever you’re spending the holidays. (FYI: Aol Travel knows the hot restaurants in cities around the U.S.)

Wherever you go, remember that there are appropriate ways to behave. And there are horrible ways to behave, as highlighted in this Montreal Gazette story by two Montreal-area restaurant servers. Among other things, they urge:

Continue reading Will You Be a Horrible Restaurant Customer This Holiday Season?

Will You Be a Horrible Restaurant Customer This Holiday Season? originally appeared on Gadling on Wed, 27 Nov 2013 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Demonstrations in Thailand? No Problem, Travelers Say.

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Rush Hour in Bangkok Centre
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The political protests currently taking place in parts of Bangkok don’t seem to be affecting travel to and within Thailand. And that should be no surprise. Despite events — a coup, floods and protests that closed an airport among them — that have rocked the country in recent years, travelers remain unfazed about visiting Thailand.

Quartz reports:

Not only are tourists still coming, but they’ve been arriving in increasing numbers in recent years, according to government data.

The story adds:

Continue reading Demonstrations in Thailand? No Problem, Travelers Say.

Demonstrations in Thailand? No Problem, Travelers Say. originally appeared on Gadling on Mon, 02 Dec 2013 11:26:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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TSA Lets Travelers Apply for PreCheck

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Travel-Airport Security Fast Track
Associated Press

Today the Transportation Security Administration (you know ’em as TSA) began allowing travelers to apply for its PreCheck program (or as TSA calls it, Pre✓[TM]).

According to TSA,

The new application process allows U.S. citizens to directly enroll in TSA Pre✓[TM], an expedited screening program that allows travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on, in select screening lanes. To date, passengers have only been eligible through existing programs such as U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s Global Entry program and frequent flier programs with certain airlines, but this announcement will allow travelers to apply directly for the expedited screening program.

Continue reading TSA Lets Travelers Apply for PreCheck

TSA Lets Travelers Apply for PreCheck originally appeared on Gadling on Wed, 04 Dec 2013 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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