Travel Guide: How To Successfully Travel With A Friend

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When you travel, you learn a lot about yourself. The same is true when you travel with a friend.

You may come to discover that you both have more in common with one another than you originally thought. Maybe you are both devoted bookworms whose idea of relaxing is curling up with a good book and reading in silence. Or, maybe you learn that your friend enjoys sleeping late and taking hour-long showers, eating into their morning routine.

While some discoveries may strengthen your friendship, these seemingly trivial annoyances – like spending an hour in the shower – can add up, often leading to pent-up frustration.

Just like many warn against living with a close friend, you may have heard horror stories of friends growing apart after returning from a trip. Don’t let this happen to you. You should be able to explore the world with your best friend by your side without having to have any sort of altercation.

Follow these best practices for traveling with a friend to ensure that you make positive memories instead of negatives ones:

Talk money before the trip.

Planning for a trip is one of the most exciting parts of traveling. As you search for things to do, it’s impossible not to become more excited for the trip, even if it’s months away. This excitement often prevents friends from talking about money, since those conversations tend to cast a shadow on the trip.

However, you don’t want to be stuck trying to make things fair once you return home. For example, figure out all Airbnb costs ahead of time. If one room is bigger than the other, it may not be fair to have both people split the cost evenly. But this should be agreed upon before returning home, rather than something you surprise your friend with at the end of the trip.

Figure out each person’s main reason for traveling.

It’s fun to be spontaneous once you arrive at your destination, but try to plan out some sort of itinerary before you leave. This will help to create a traveling schedule that works for each of you. You may want to spend most of your trip hiking the terrain, but your friend may just want to relax back at the hotel. If not talked about in advance, this can cause some serious implications while you are in the midst of your getaway.

Divvy out responsibilities equally.

No one wants to be responsible for planning the entire trip. Write down all of the major tasks that need to be completed at the onset – like booking a plane ticket or booking an Airbnb rental – and divide them up equally between the two of you.

Travel Guide: How To Successfully Travel On Your Own

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There is something so rewarding about doing things independently of others, traveling included. When you travel solo, you are able to plan your own itinerary, without having to deal with the stress and sacrifices that come with trying to conform two different schedules into one cohesive one. In addition to creating your own schedule, another perk of traveling solo is dedicating as much time as you want to certain aspects of the trip – whether it be your time spent in a specific city before you move on to your next destination or at a tourist spot along the way.

Despite its many perks, there are still a few perils that can come from traveling on your own as well. Safety concerns are the most prominent fear that solo travelers have, with other concerns being overall loneliness or the potential weirdness of being alone at a restaurant or nightclub.

Make the most out of traveling alone with these tips for an unforgettable solo trip:

Stay true to yourself.

Before you travel, you will most likely look into various activities to do that are unique to the specific culture you are visiting. But just remember that, in order to get the most out of your trip, you should be mindful of what you like to do. If you are an introvert and large groups of people overwhelm you, don’t pay mind to the best nightlife recommendations from travelers who thrive in a more active environment.

Never stay overnight at just one spot.

If possible, change up where you are staying. This will encourage you to see more of the culture, while also giving you an opportunity to meet other individuals, whether they are fellow travelers or locals looking to share the knowledge of their culture. Since you are traveling alone, you have cheaper options to look into as well, including hostels.

Meet the locals.

While it could be exciting to swap stories with fellow travelers and gain insight into potential attractions to see during your trip, there is something memorable about learning more about the culture through the eyes of someone that lives there year-round.

Bring something to do.

For the moments when you will be relaxing and sitting alone, bring something along with you to do if you feel uncomfortable being at a place alone. Read a book, jot down memories from your day into a journal, or bring along a sketchbook and glean some inspiration from your surroundings to project into your artwork.

Common Mistakes Of First-Time Travelers

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It doesn’t matter at what age you first catch the travel bug, once you have that burning desire to travel, it is a feeling that will only intensify over time. Procure that insatiable longing to see the rest of the world and book your first trip. If the thought of traveling still feels a bit intimidating despite your increasing levels of excitement, pick a destination that is a little closer to home. If this spontaneous decision has brought out the adventurer in you, consider booking a trip overseas.

As a first-time traveler, you are subject to making mistakes that are common in inexperienced travelers. Even if you do your research and put together a detailed list to make preparing for your trip easier, it is still inevitable that you may fall prey to some of these first-time travel mistakes:

Overpacking

This is a common blunder that even experienced travelers still commit. Think about your destination and pack accordingly, taking into careful consideration the climate and weather patterns. No matter where you are traveling to, you should never need to take more than two pairs of jeans and three pairs of shoes. There are also certain items that may be beneficial at some point during your trip that you don’t necessarily need to lug with you from the very beginning. For these items, you can purchase them while you are traveling.

Spreading Your Time Out Too Thin

Since this is your first major trip, the wanderlust that has been building over the last few months is tempting you to experience as much as possible. This itch to explore every inch of a foreign destination is gratifying, yet it won’t be long before you feel burnt out. Accept that it will be more advantageous for you to slow down and take in as much as you can of a smaller area in order to truly get the most out of your vacation. If you feel strongly about seeing more of the country, plan a second trip.

Not Saving Enough

No matter how financially prepared you feel you are, you should always save more. It is better to save a considerable amount more than you feel you need rather than drying up your savings halfway through your trip. Any leftover money can be transferred into other aspects of your life once you return home.

Not Alerting Your Bank

Imagine that you are out on the town and try to make a purchase but your credit card is frozen. This is one of the most common first-time traveler mistakes. Alert your bank as soon as you have finalized the dates of your trip so they don’t assume your information was stolen, forcing them to deactivate your credit card until they can send you a new one.

Exchanging Money Abroad: The Best Practices For The Lowest Amount Of Fees

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Your biggest expenses will be paid out before you even step foot inside the airplane. Purchasing your flight ticket to your destination, booking out your hotel or Airbnb in advance, planning out the process of picking up your rental car, these are just a few of the more costly expenses that come with planning a trip abroad.

It will be in your best interest to pay for these commodities in advance, but make sure that you don’t completely banish the thought of finances from your mind until your trip. Once you cover the initial sizable costs of solidifying how you will get to your destination (where you will stay and how you will travel around), there is only one more area that you will need to care of: how you will pay for your activities.

If you are traveling abroad, you are going to need to have money for while you are there. The best practice may be to conduct a currency exchange before you leave for your trip, but it may be of best practice to understand what the best methods of currency exchange are when you are already abroad. This information will be useful if you ever find that you need to exchange more of your money due to an insufficient amount of funds.

Should you use ATMs?

If you need to use your debit card to take out money via an ATM, that should cause no issue other than the fact that you will be charged a transaction fee. In the event that you would need to use your debit card abroad, make sure that you alert your bank that you will be traveling so they don’t suspect that your debit card information has been stolen and freeze your account, cutting you off from all your funds.

Should you use a bank?

A foreign bank wouldn’t be the most ideal option because of how expensive it would be for you. It would be a better idea to pursue other options because that is just wasted money that could be better spent on your trip.

Should you use an airport exchange?

If possible, exchanging your money at an airport should be avoided at all costs. The amount that you will be paying in fees to get your own money out to use is nonsensical. If absolutely necessary, be sure to at least do a little research into which of the surrounding options would have the lowest fees.

Should you use a hotel exchange?

Similar to the airport exchange, try to avoid having to exchange currency at your hotel. It could be comparatively better when compared to some of your other options, which is why it is important to put in a little bit of research.

These are some general rules of thumb in regards to exchanging currency while you are abroad. The more financially careful you can be, the less money you will lose in transactional fees.

Explore Bora Bora On A Budget

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If you have ever scrolled through photographs taken in Bora Bora, you know that every inch of the island is breathtaking. From the entrancing scenes found within the crystal clear water to the lush landscapes surrounding you on all sides, it is no wonder that Bora Bora has been pegged as not only a traveler’s dream destination, but one of the top honeymoon destination spots in the world.

This reputation does not precede it. One could spend the entirety of their time in Bora Bora exploring every section of land and still not even see a small portion of its treasures, let alone tiring of its beauty.

Because of its charm and reputation, many think that traveling to Bora Bora is a luxury that is beyond their means. Like most places, depending on how you plan your trip, it can easily become very expensive. But if you are a mindful traveler, it is actually quite easy to budget a trip so that you are able to experience the island without breaking the bank. A mindful traveler on a budget can make it so they are not exceeding $500 for a week-long stay in Bora Bora, not including the cost of flying. Here’s how:

Getting To Bora Bora

The most expensive cost of your whole trip will be your plane ticket. For some areas, it is very difficult to find a great deal on a plane ticket but, of course, this depends on exactly where you are flying out of. Do your research before you purchase one just to ensure that you are getting the best deal possible – and if you have any points that you can put towards your miles, this may be a good flight to utilize them!

Staying In Bora Bora

For where you stay in Bora Bora, you have some options that vary in price, depending on what you are comfortable with. If you prefer to stay at a hotel, you will spend more money than you would on some of the other options, but there are hotels that range from $50 per night to $80 per night. Or, for those who want to pay less, consider looking for Couchsurfing hosts – if you feel comfortable with that concept – or renting a camping site.

Eating In Bora Bora

If you are not careful, food can become very costly. If you are staying in a hotel, don’t be fooled into thinking that the food available to you from the hotel is your best option. Go explore the area and look for restaurants that appease to your taste preferences, but your budget as well. There are plenty of local eateries that have affordable food options and are more delicious than the food you will find in your hotel.

With these budget-friendly strategies in mind, you can start planning your trip to Bora Bora today!

Arthur Bogoraz- The Joys of Being a Tourist

The Joys of Being a Tourist

There is something to be said for being anonymous in an unfamiliar place. No one knows your name, or where you’re from, or what your personality is like. You can be anyone you want to be.

There are some who argue that there is an important distinction between a tourist and a traveler, and if you’re going off the stereotype of a tourist as a rude and disruptive foreigner with a camera dangling from their neck and a fanny pack strapped to their waist, then maybe there is. But if you’re a visitor to a foreign country that you have never been to before, then I say the difference is arbitrary. As long as you’re having a great time, then what does it matter?

In just about all of my travel experiences, I have embraced being a tourist. Don’t avoid important sites just because they’re popular and where all the tourists congregate. Don’t refrain from taking photographs just because you don’t want to stand out as a tourist. Don’t deprive yourself of ordering a dish you’ll enjoy when you go out to eat in fear of it being too touristy. Traveling is meant to be enjoyed, and ultimately your experience is entirely what you make of it.

Say you visit a tropical island and it rains the whole time you’re there- that doesn’t mean the whole trip is ruined. You improvise and find other ways to make it work. I think the best travel experiences are the ones that we plan ahead enough for that we don’t miss out on anything important, but we’re able to embrace spontaneity as well. Whatever you call yourself, here are some reasons why being a tourist is awesome.

 

  • You can meet other tourists

 

One of best parts of traveling to a new place, in my opinion, is meeting other tourists experiencing the place for the first time too. It gives you an immediate connection. I have made some wonderful friends through tour groups- friends that, years later, I keep in touch with. You’re all there for basically the same reason: to learn about a new place and have a good time doing it. So don’t feel ashamed for traveling around in a tour group; if you embrace your tourist status, then I guarantee you’ll meet some interesting people and you won’t run out of things to talk about with them.

 

  • You can learn about new cultures

 

When you visit a foreign country or even just somewhere in your home country that you’ve never been before, you’ll be wearing your otherness like a flashy badge. As soon as you open your mouth to speak, your accent will give away your foreignness. If you don’t know the language or don’t speak it will, that will be another sign. When you stop to take a picture of a famous landmark, that’s another giveaway. Don’t try to hide it.  It is perfectly okay to be a student. Rather than trying to blend in and pretend you know more than you do, why not embrace your foreign identity and open yourself to learning about new cultures? If you’re able to converse in a foreign language, then it shows that you are making an effort to adapt to that culture, but it’s also okay to admit you’re unfamiliar with the culture and use it as an opportunity to learn something new. Let the locals be the teachers, and you be the zealous student.

 

  • You can let your curiosity guide you

 

Let your curiosity drive you, rather than a desire to blend in, and you will be happier for it. I promise you. If you want to see what McDonald’s is like in China, try it. If you really like that tee shirt you saw in your hotel gift shop, then get it. If you want to toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain like all the other tourists, go ahead. Don’t let your fear of standing out keep you from having fun- that’s what a vacation should be about. Just do what peaks your interest and forget about the rest.

 

  • You won’t miss out on the important sites

 

No one goes to Paris for the first time and refuses to visit the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame because they’re too “touristy.” If you have the chance to get off the beaten path while you’re in a new place, then you will no doubt come upon unexpected joys and have an even richer and more satisfying experience, but don’t let your desire to do untraditional things keep you from visiting the main tourist destinations. They’re popular for a reason, so you can bet they’re worth seeing.

Arthur Bogoraz- The Flavors of Saint Martin

The Flavors of Saint Martin

There’s a reason the caribbean island of Saint Martin is known as “the friendly island”. Like its neighboring islands, it is more than just a relaxing resort destination. It has its own unique culture and story to tell, for those willing to listen. If all you’re looking for in your tropical vacation is to relax by the pool with a fruity drink while listening to the gentle lull of the ocean, then St. Marin will provide, but for those looking for a holistic cultural experience, you will find that there as well.

You can think of St. Martin as having a split personality, as it comprises two separate countries. However, rather than being polarizing, the northern French side (called Saint Martin) and southern Dutch side (called Sint Maarten) come together in perfect harmony. Two cultures coming together on the same island means that you get to experience the best of both worlds, and this is especially true of the cuisine. St. Martin offers some of the best fusion cuisine around. As a private pilot, I’ve traveled to many places around the world and St. Martin goes down as one of my best culinary experiences of all time.  It’s obvious that the island’s chefs take great pride in their creations, combining fresh, local ingredients with a European flare. Because the island is so spread out with many different areas and beaches, it can be difficult to narrow down your food options, so here are just a few of the restaurants representing the best the island has to offer.

Le Tastevin

Located in the traditional fishing village of Grand Case, this restaurant takes its inspiration from traditional French cooking, while remaining true to its Caribbean roots. You’ll find imaginative island dishes flavored with Caribbean spices alongside classic French fare like foie gras and escargot. As one of the most popular restaurants on the island with a prime location overlooking the Grand Case bay and the Caribbean sea, tables fill up fast so be sure to make a reservation well in advance.

The Hideaway Restaurant

The Hideaway is what most people visualize when they think of the Caribbean: outdoor dining overlooking a crystalline infinity pool with the ocean beyond that. It doesn’t get much better than that. The restaurant’s website describes it as “a cozy intimate spot” perfect for a relaxed brunch or romantic dinner. The cuisine is international, featuring a variety of seafood dishes.

Dreams Beach Bar Restaurant

This restaurant is everything a tropical beach bar should be and more. Just go to their website, and after a few seconds of watching the rotating pictures go by, you’ll see what I mean. Relax in a lounge chair on the soft white sand overlooking the sparkling blue ocean while sipping a cocktail and snacking on sushi.

Little Jerusalem

What this restaurant lacks in flashy opulence, it makes up for in flavor. Plus, it’s one of the more affordable options on the island. The Middle Eastern spot doesn’t even have its own website, but it’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike for its authentic food and friendly service.

Canoa

Located in the Oyster Pond area of Sint Maarten and nestled between two boardwalks, Canoa is a true hidden gem that could be easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The restaurant, which rests on a floating dock, can be best described (according to its website) as “international cuisine with a Caribbean twist.” Head chef Sherman Marten trained at the renowned Johnson & Wales culinary school in Rhode Island, and brings a wealth of experience and a fusion of cultures to the table.

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