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How to Move Abroad and Save Money

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There are many people I look up to in travel writing. Tim Leffel is one of them. He’s been writing about budget travel long before I knew what travel, let alone budget travel, even was. He’s been places I’ve only dreamed about and was even kind of enough to give notes and feedback on my book. I respect Tim a lot. He’s the master at finding good value destinations to live in around the world. I get a lot of questions about how to move abroad, especially with a family so I was honored Tim agreed to write about this subject. Enter Tim.

On a typical day I’ll send my daughter to her school on the other side of town in a taxi for $3, buy a couple of warm pastries at the local bakery for 50 cents, and pick up a fresh-squeezed 16-ounce juice for a shade over a dollar. A multi-course meal for lunch will cost me $4 if I go to a nearby restaurant and get waited on. If I want to take my wife out to the symphony or a concert, it’ll be around $12 for the two of us. My monthly electric bill seldom tops $20 and a maid cleans our four-bedroom house top to bottom for $17.

No, I haven’t jumped in a time machine and gone back a few decades. I just moved.

I live in central Mexico in a historic highland town called Guanajuato. I’m one of several million Americans who has moved abroad to find a better way of life at a lower price. I’m joined by Canadians, Brits, Australians, and others who have found it harder and harder to get ahead in the supposed rich countries of the world and have rebooted their life in a cheaper location.

Cutting Loose Instead of Cutting Back

If you have traveled abroad for any length of time, or even just read Matt’s book on traveling the world for $50 a day, you know it’s cheaper to circle the globe for a year than it is to just pay the bills in a country like the USA or Canada. Developed countries have a lot going for them in terms of convenience, selection, and infrastructure. But there’s an accompanying downside of higher taxes, more expensive housing, and larger bills for health care, utilities, and car expenses.

If you move from a rich country to a less wealthy one, you can easily cut your expenses in half. This is without making the kind of sacrifices you would have to make to “cut way back” on expenses where you were born. You can live a better life while spending far less. You end up with more money to spend or save without moving to your parents’ basement. It’s the equivalent of going on a diet without giving up ice cream or cheeseburgers.

Moving to another country to enjoy a better life for half the price is not odd, radical, crazy, or dumb. The people around you might say that, or at least think it, but very few who have actually done it will. Often when I asked people what regrets they had or what mistakes they had made, they replied, “I just wish I had done it sooner.” Right now there are digital nomads, families, and retirees all dramatically increasing what they have to spend or save each month without earning more money. They just changed their address.

I’ve interviewed expats living in a couple dozen cheaper countries around the world and the savings they see is dramatic, especially if they were living in an expansive city like New York. One was paying $1,300 a month for her one-third share of a Manhattan apartment that barely fit three beds and a table. Now she pays $300 a month for a larger two-bedroom place in Bangkok, Thailand. “Instead of spending half of my salary on regular expenses, I’m spending a fifth. Now I can not only have a travel fund but an actual savings account. Despite making a lot less, I can easily save at least twice as much.”

In the San Francisco Bay area, one financial analyst I spoke with paid $1,340 per month for a one-bedroom place that wasn’t anything special. Then he got a job in India and says, “My one-bedroom apartment of comparable quality costs me $247 a month. A five-mile cab ride in San Francisco would be about $25, while the same distance cab ride in Delhi would be about $2 at the most.”

These are all big city examples too. Naturally the prices drop more when you settle in a smaller city or town, whether that’s in Mexico, Panama, Portugal, or Malaysia. Housing is where you may see the most dramatic drop, but you’ll also pay less for food, entertainment, transportation, and anything requiring human labor. That includes health and dental care, which for many self-employed Americans can go from 20 percent of their income to less than 5 percent. See the price comparison site to get an idea of how average costs in other locations compare to where you live now.

How to Make the Move

Moving to a new country can seem daunting, but like most projects it’s a series of small steps that eventually get you to where you want to be. There’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint, but here are the big items to get on your to-do list.

Work out your income stream

The big advantage of living in a cheaper country is that you can stretch your money much further. If you have to earn money in the local currency, however, that can reduce much of your advantage. Some do well by running a local business, especially if it’s one geared to other expats. Legions of people end up teaching English as a Second Language. The best bet, however, is to earn your income in a wealthy country and spend it in a less wealthy one.

Any job that can be done remotely is great for this: writer, designer, tech worker, or online publisher, for example. Many other jobs can transfer easily to another location, such as teacher, NGO manager, real estate salesperson, or medical professional—but they may not have an equivalent salary unless you’re working for a foreign organization. Figure out how your skill set can transition to a remote earnings situation and you’ll be able to get the full arbitrage of earning dollars (or pounds, or euros) and getting much more value for them locally.

Do a trial run

Living somewhere is very different than being a traveler passing through. Before making the big leap, spend some time in the place or places you’re considering, living like a local for a while. That means renting an apartment in a real neighborhood, shopping at local markets, and eating where the locals eat. If you can run some typical local errands and take some language classes, even better.

The easiest way to rent a neighborhood apartment or house is through a vacation rental service like AirBnB, Housetrip, or VRBO. Some people have had good luck with home exchanges or finding a short-term rental through the local Craigslist site. If you’re going to stay longer than a month, however, you’ll pay less and get a better feel for local prices by finding something after you arrive. The vast majority of local owners don’t advertise online, so you’ll need to ask around and keep your eyes open.

Sort out your visa

Some countries will allow you to live there for years on a tourist visa and you simply have to leave the country every once in a while to renew. Others require mountains of paperwork and a very long application process. Investigate the situation for the country you’re considering and look beyond what you can find online at the embassy site. Check local message boards and recent articles as visa requirements are often in flux. In some cases you need to apply for residency before you leave your home country. In others you can sort it out after arrival. In every case where you need some kind of residency permit, assume extra cash and lots of patience will be required.

If you’re a parent, you’ll also need to research the school situation and if you intend to find work locally, you’ll need to check out the local prospects for teaching English or other jobs legally open to foreign workers.

How to Deal with Resistance

When looking at a big life change, you are bound to meet a lot of resistance, both external and internal. By nature we are more afraid of the unknown than we are of what’s familiar and comfortable, even if that familiar world is costing us every cent we earn. You may have fears yourself, but these will probably pale in comparison to the warnings you’ll hear from friends and family members who are following the status quo and haven’t traveled much.

The first concern is usually safety, even though almost any statistic you look at makes the United States look like one of the most dangerous countries on earth. You can see all the ugly details in the annual FBI report on crime. We’re #1 when it comes to guns, random shootings, and prison inmates. We also have an inferior health care system for anyone who doesn’t have a platinum insurance plan through their employer, which is a whole other kind of safety risk. In general though, expatriates don’t tend to settle in dangerous places. They’re in Puerto Vallarta, not Ciudad Juarez, or on Roatan Island of Honduras, not in the capital of Tegucigalpa.

Despite all evidence to the contrary the past two decades, many still cling to the belief that if you get a good education, work hard, and have a family you’ll be part of the prosperous middle from Canada to Ireland to Australia are finding, the opportunities are not what they used to me. Moving abroad isn’t necessarily as escape. For many it represents better opportunities, or a longer runway for starting or financing a business.

Many parents scoff that, “You can only make a move like that if you don’t have kids,” but tens of thousands of families would strongly argue that point. In every country I featured in my book, there are families living a less hectic, less expensive, and less consumer-driven life. Your education choices in specific towns or cities may be more limited if you’re not home schooling, but there are, after all, children already living wherever you’d be planning to go.

Moving overseas can be time consuming process. Yes, this all requires some time and effort, but the payoff can be huge. You can end up with twice as much money in your bank account at the end of each month instead of watching it all flow out to pay expensive bills. Moreover, you’ll get to experience a new culture, raise international kids, and give yourself an added perspective on the world outside your home country. I believe moving overseas has not only made my family more financially secure but given us a richer life. If you’re looking to change your life, this might be the way.

Tim Leffel is the author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations and the new book A Better Life for Half the Price. He lives with his family in Mexico. See more at You can visit his website for more information (with step-by-step instructions) on how to move abroad.

The post How to Move Abroad and Save Money appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.

How to Move Abroad and Save Money

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9 Tips for Better Family Travel

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On the third Friday of every month, Cameron Wears from The Traveling Canucks is here to give us tips and advice on how to travel better with your kids. This is an often requested topic so I’m excited to have him on the team! Here is this month’s article.

No matter how well traveled you are, traveling with young kids is a very different experience than solo backpacking or couples travel. I remember planning our first family trip to California like it was yesterday. We had so many questions and didn’t know where to begin. How do we get a passport for a baby? Do we need to get clearance from a doctor before we travel? What do we need to pack? Will we get any sleep if we share the hotel room with our little one? How do we keep him entertained? What if something happens abroad?

With no experience as traveling parents, we defaulted to the way we traveled as a couple. That strategy was a good starting point, but we learned a few valuable lessons the hard way and made a few mistakes. Now, having traveled with two young children for many years, I want to share some of the most relevant travel tips we’ve learned so you can avoid our mistakes and travel easier:

Book accommodations with separate sleeping areas

Choose accommodations that offer one or two bedroom suites instead of the standard hotel room with two beds. You’ll pay a little more for this convenience, but a good night’s sleep is the key ingredient to a successful family trip.

Consider this: if everyone is piled into one room you’ll likely have to go to sleep when your kids do. Now, if it’s been a long travel day and sleep is what you’re after, this won’t be an issue. However, if you want to have a drink, read a book, watch a movie or have a conversation, it’s best to book accommodations that will give you and your kids separate sleeping areas.

Not every hotel offers one or two bedroom suites, so you need to do a little more research. We use most of the big sites like, and to get an idea of the hotel options within our price range then we go directly to the hotel’s website to research room options and availability.

Apartment rentals are the best option for this. They are often cheaper than hotels and offer all of the comforts of home. We look for centrally located apartments that provide full kitchens and laundry, which saves us time and money. We like to use AirBnB and VRBO.

Play it safe, make reservations

Before kids, we rarely made reservations in advance. Part of the adventure is arriving without a plan and allowing the moment to guide you, right? The problem with this travel style is that when you have kids you need to consider their threshold for being uncomfortable.

Do yourself and your kids a favor – make hotel and transportation reservations ahead of time to avoid unnecessary frustrations. Wandering the streets for hours in search of a hotel room or waiting an extra 6 hours at a train station is not fun at the best of times, let alone when you add a cranky child to the situation. Not pretty.

Don’t assume that your hotel or apartment rental will have a crib or high chair available. Call ahead to confirm availability, even if the hotel’s website states that it has cribs on hand (they may be used by another guest during your stay).

Lighten your load, rent equipment

Did you know that most popular travel destinations have services available for families to rent strollers, cribs, car seats, high chairs, play pens and bikes?

We first used this service earlier this year on a trip to Sayulita, Mexico. We rented a 2 bedroom apartment for a few weeks so we needed to find a sturdy crib for our toddler. The owner of the apartment recommended a local business that set up the crib before our arrival and picked it up after we departed. It was super convenient and reasonably priced (I think we paid about $50 per week).

Availability depends on location, time of year and length of time you need to use the item. I’ve yet to find a central website that works for all destinations, so it’s best to research online and use a local business that has good reviews. When in doubt, ask the almighty Google.

Protect yourself – get proper travel insurance

This one is self explanatory. Travel insurance can feel like an annoying, unnecessary expense, but it’s always best to play it safe, especially with young children.

Our infant has a severe food allergy and our toddler is accident prone, so a trip to the hospital is not out of the question. This is not the time to cut corners to save a buck, so get the right plan that protects everyone. When in doubt, pick up the phone and talk to someone about your specific questions and concerns.

Matt says: Cameron’s right. Travel insurance is not something you should leave home without. I never do. Here’s my detailed guide to buying travel insurance.

Load up your tablet

The tablet has firmly landed in our top 5 travel items we never leave home without. We bring two tablets with us when we travel, an iPad and a Surface. Each tablet serves a different purpose. We use our Surface for cartoons and movies because it has a USB port. Being able to have our kids watch their favorite favourite shows is a life saver, especially on long flights and in the evenings when we need some quiet time. We use our iPad for games, music and video. Our toddler loves Angry Birds and coloring programs, so we pull out the iPad when he’s feeling playful and creative.

Both tablets are loaded with white noise (sounds of waves, rain, etc) that we crank up at night and place beside their beds. The loud white noise is soothing and drowns out other sounds that could potentially disturb them. Give it a try if your kids have trouble falling asleep while traveling.

Choose your destination wisely

Choosing the right destination can make or break your family trip. It’s important to consider your children’s needs, but it’s equally important to visit a place that interests you. Most destinations have some form of amusement park or family friendly attraction, so when you make your short list, look for destinations that have some adult fun for you, too.

Do you still travel with a stroller? If so, consider destinations with proper streets and sidewalks as it will be easier to get around than trying to navigate jungles and more obscure places.

Long travel days are hard on the little ones, so it’s wise to pick a destination that has direct flights. I choose hotels that are centrally located and/or close to attractions (like the beach), which reduces the need for taxis or public transportation. Make sure to factor these things in when picking a destination.

Treats and surprises are always a good idea

Bring small presents and/or treats and reward your little ones for good behavior. When on a long flight or train ride, give your children a small present like a toy car, puzzle or coloring book. Not only does it encourage good behavior, it keeps them entertained.

It’s a good idea to let your children choose a few small souvenirs from the places you visit so they have a memento from the trip. On our trip to Alberta this past summer we visited the town of Drumheller, known as the “Dinosaur Capital of the World”. After we checked into our hotel we visited a tourist store and let our toddler choose a toy dinosaur. This got him thinking about dinosaurs again, which made our visit to the Dinosaur Museum so much more exciting for him. Timing is everything.

Now, every time he plays with that toy dinosaur he says, “Remember when we went to dinosaur town, Daddy?” That was $5 well spent.

Check your ego with your bags

Most parents fear the dreaded meltdown while on a flight. I know I did. My anxiety levels rise the moment our boys get irritable and fussy. I don’t want to disturb others on the plane. I don’t want to be THAT guy. But the reality is that even the calmest of children have a breaking point. Crying and misbehaving will happen, so it’s up to you to roll with the punches. How you react will set the tone for future flights. If you freak out too, there’s a good chance your children will associate air travel with daddy and mommy being angry.

Don’t worry about what others think. Many people on the plane are parents that have been in your position before. They can empathize with you and are usually willing to give a hand when needed.

Stay cool. Smile. Ask for help. It will be over before you know it.

Slow down

If there’s one tip I’d like all traveling families to take, it’s this: slow down!

Don’t try to replicate the way you used to travel before kids. Things are different now, so try not to squeeze too many activities or sightseeing into one day. Enjoy your big activity or adventure in the morning when everyone is fresh and recharged. Break up the day and spend some quiet time back at the hotel before you venture out again.

The most enjoyable travel experiences we’ve had are the ones where we’ve set proper expectations for each day. Remember, travel is supposed to be fun. So make it fun!

Family travel doesn’t have to be a daunting experience that should be put on hold “until the kids get older”. It takes a little more planning and an adjustment of attitude, but you’ll be so glad you made the extra effort when you see the positive impact travel will have on your children…and you.

Cameron Wears is one half of the duo behind the award-winning Canadian travel blog Having travelled to over 65 countries and territories on six continents in the past eight years, he now lives in beautiful Vancouver, Canada with his wife Nicole and their two young boys. You can follow their family travel adventures on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

The post 9 Tips for Better Family Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.

9 Tips for Better Family Travel

If you need a bangkok airport transfer
look no further offers the most reliable, competitive deals (all rates are inclusive of tolls).

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Bangkok Airport Hotel 3 of the most popular Bangkok Airport Hotels – great deals, all hotels within 10 minutes of the airport terminal, 24 hour reception and transfer service – instant confirmation and secure payment.

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Take the First Step Out the Door (A Community Challenge)

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george washington statue in boston, ma

The Dutch have a saying: “He who is outside his door already has the hardest part of his journey behind him.” It’s one of my favorite travel quotes. The first step in any endeavor is always the hardest. It takes courage. You have to overcome your fears, and that’s not always easy. I remember how hard it was to take the first step when I started traveling. I was scared and nervous. Would everything turn out alright? Once I got out the door, I realized there was nothing to worry about. It was all in my head.

The first step doesn’t need to be big. It can start at home by being a local tourist. Most people never explore their backyard and doing so is the easiest way to get into the travel mindset.

Today, we’re launching a Travel Action Challenge on the community forums designed to help people take the first step. Having a supportive community behind you can make it a lot easier to take the leap and we want to be here to encourage and support you.

And in this challenge we’re encouraging you to become a local tourist.

Get out there. Explore your area. Do something new. Being a local tourist is a great way to stay in the travel frame of mind. Here are the details:


Travel starts at home. It doesn’t always need to be some big international trip, so come up with a list of five things in your area you’ve always wanted to do and do them!

When you live in a place, it’s easy to always think “I can do that tomorrow,” but tomorrow never comes. Between work, life, and everything in between, it’s easy to find that time has passed you by. Let’s change that. Being a local tourist can bring you a deeper understanding of your area!

Travel is about exploring something new — either in some foreign country or right around the corner — so get out there. Explore your home and tell us all about it!


  1. Create a list of five activities in your area you’ve always wanted to do.
  2. Take a picture of yourself doing them.
  3. Post them here on the forum thread.

Winners will be chosen randomly but you can get extra entries for sharing your submission:

Twitter (2 extra entries) with @nomadicmatt and #nmforumchallenge

Facebook (2 extra entries) with #nmforumchallenge

Instagram (2 extra entries) with #nmforumchallenge

Pinterest (1 extra entry) with #nmforumchallenge

Google+ (1 extra entry) with #nmforumchallenge

I’ll be putting everyone’s name in a spreadsheet and randomly selecting one to be the winner. Extra entries get your name on the spreadsheet multiple times!


The challenge is open to all forum members eighteen years or older.


The challenge runs from October 23 to November 15, 2014.


1st prize winner gets a trip-planning call with me, a signed copy of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, and my complete e-book collection (city guides included)! (1 winner)

2nd prize winners get my entire e-book collection (city guides excluded)! (3 winners)


  • Create a video (under 3 minutes long) about how to save money in your home town.
  • Upload your video on YouTube and link it to the challenge thread so we can all see it.
  • Each person who creates a video gets a budget city guide of their choice.

Bonus Prize: The person who creates my favorite video gets an hour planning call with me and my book, The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking.

So that’s the challenge! Get out there, explore your area, and win some cool prizes!

Some other bits and bobs…..


Last year, I ran a Kickstarter campaign and made t-shirts as part of the backer rewards. I ordered extra when people asked for them but I still have some around if you want one. There are two versions: Nomadic Matt shirt or a “Keep Calm and Travel On” shirt.

They are available in all sizes and make for great work out or travel shirts. You can click here to order one! (They also make great gifts!)

The post Take the First Step Out the Door (A Community Challenge) appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.

Take the First Step Out the Door (A Community Challenge)

If you need a bangkok airport transfer
look no further offers the most reliable, competitive deals (all rates are inclusive of tolls).

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

Bangkok Airport Hotel 3 of the most popular Bangkok Airport Hotels – great deals, all hotels within 10 minutes of the airport terminal, 24 hour reception and transfer service – instant confirmation and secure payment.

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30 Fantastic Photos from Iceland to Inspire Your Next Trip

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Last month, I finally visited Iceland. Iceland wasn’t the impossible budget destination people made it out to be. The locals were warm and welcoming, took me around, and showed me their homes. They were incredibly hospitable and I made a lot of Icelandic friends on my trip. And, while locals make any destination better, what blew my mind was the magnificence of the natural landscape. It’s bewitching. You find yourself in a spellbound daze as you move from place to place, your eyes overloaded by all you’re seeing. “How could such a tiny place have such a diverse and beautiful landscape?” you think to yourself as your jaw hurts from being open too much.

Over the course of eleven days, I wanted to scream from joy everywhere I went. The land is desolate, sparsely populated, and silent. That was the one thing I noticed – just how silent Iceland is. There’s no distractions and I think that helps you form a deep connection with nature. You begin to feel its rhythm. Today, I want to share thirty pictures from my trip in hopes of inspiring you to visit this country. I’m not the world’s best photographer, but it’s hard to take a bad picture in Iceland.

Sulphur pools at Hverir near Lake Myvatn in the north of Iceland. Very otherwordly.

The Northern Lights lighting the sky up green. This is my favorite picture of them.

Runoff from the geothermal plant near Myvatn.

Somewhere along the Ring Road that circles the country.

Reykjavik and its colorful houses.

Jökulsárlón ice lagoon in the southeast of Iceland. This ice flow is only a couple of decades old and one of the most popular attractions in the area. I enjoyed just sitting down and listening to the ice crash into each other on its way out to sea.

Fjords on the eastern seaboard that could rival Norway.

Selfoss. Foss means waterfall in Icelandic and you’ll find a lot of waterfalls throughout the country.

UFO cloud. The truth is out there.

Gigantic sulfur pools at Geysir. Geysir the geyser doesn’t erupt anymore, but the spot is still popular on the famous Golden Circle tourist trail outside Reykjavik.

Jökulsárlón ice lagoon in the southeast of Iceland.

Mordor… I mean, some beautiful landscape on the way to Myvatn in the north.

The color contrast in this photo blows my mind.

Gulfoss! Part of the Golden Circle, this is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. It was a really crappy day when I was there.

Looking onto the fjords.

Beautiful clouds above the harsh sea on the eastern end of Iceland.

The road is long in Iceland but it always takes you where you want to go.

More Northern Lights. You can never get tired of these.

Dettifoss. This waterfall is located in the north near Selfoss and supposed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

Iceland horses playing around. (Look at that long flowing hair! I wish I had hair like that!)

On a rainy day driving through southern Iceland, we came across these gigantic mountains covered in clouds. The photo doesn’t do the majesty justice but I still like it.

The backside of Seljalandsfoss. Out of all the pictures I took, this one is my favorite. I love the intermix of light, water, blue sky, and green here.

A moss covered lava field in southern Iceland.

Iceland is the land of rainbows and I was lucky enough to find the end of one. (No pot of gold though. It must have been on the other end!)

Front side of Seljalandsfoss (rainbow included).

Little pools and lava rocks near Settifoss.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you might recognize this cave as where Jon and Ygritte consummate their relationship. The water in the cave is warm enough to swim in and used to be a public pool.

Another sulphur pool is Hverir. I like the contrast between the blue water and red earth.

Myvatn Nature Baths. Quieter and less expensive than the famous Blue Lagoon outside Reykjavik. I relaxed here by myself for over an hour.

Northern Lights. This was from early in the night when they were just starting to come out. No less beautiful.

I only managed to see a fraction of Iceland during my eleven day trip, but my visit lived up to my high expectations. No photo or movie I saw did it justice. It was even better in person and I hope these photos inspire you to move Iceland up on your bucket list.

The post 30 Fantastic Photos from Iceland to Inspire Your Next Trip appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.

30 Fantastic Photos from Iceland to Inspire Your Next Trip

If you need a bangkok airport transfer
look no further offers the most reliable, competitive deals (all rates are inclusive of tolls).

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

Bangkok Airport Hotel 3 of the most popular Bangkok Airport Hotels – great deals, all hotels within 10 minutes of the airport terminal, 24 hour reception and transfer service – instant confirmation and secure payment.

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Help Plan My Trip to the Caribbean

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the beach in the caribbean islandsIn a few weeks, I’m heading to the Caribbean. I’ve been to a few islands down there (Bahamas, Curacao, Grand Cayman) but have never spent an extended amount of time there so I’m pumped! I’ve always wanted to sail around the region. I’m flying into Puerto Rico on November 2nd, spending a week there, and then heading to the US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands with a friend. After that, I don’t know. My only plan is to head as far south and east as I can get in six weeks. I have no return flight. I’m just going with the flow.

And that’s where you come in.

Since I have no itinerary, I thought you could plan my trip. Let’s turn the tables a bit. If you’ve been in the region, leave a tip in the comments (or send me an e-mail at and I’ll follow your suggestion. I’m open to everything else-food, activities, beaches, hikes, restaurants, you name it! I thought it would be interesting to crowdsource my entire six week trip and do only what everyone suggests. You are the master of my trip.

My only real goal for the trip is to try to see if I can travel the region on a budget. Is it possible? Can it be done easily? How do you do it? The Caribbean is not known for being a budget travel destination but I’m always out to prove the conventional travel wisdom wrong. As they say, where there is a will, there is a way.

Let’s find that way.

I also need some logistical help:

There’s not a lot of information online about sailing between the islands. I want to avoid flying and take boats as much as possible. If anyone knows how to get between the islands by ferry or through sailing trips, hitching on boats, crewing, or anything else, please let me know. If anyone has traveled through the region this way before, I’d love to hear about your experience and pick your brain for information.

Lastly, if you live in the region, I’d love to meet up so leave information on how to contact you (if you want to host my friend and me, that would be super, too!).

I’ve been dreaming of a big Caribbean trip for many years. I want to settle into island life and just wing it. Maybe I’ll fall in love with one place and never leave. Maybe I’ll make it to dozens of islands. Maybe I’ll become a boat captain. Who knows!

That endless possibility is one of the reasons why I love travel.

The post Help Plan My Trip to the Caribbean appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.

Help Plan My Trip to the Caribbean

If you need a bangkok airport transfer
look no further offers the most reliable, competitive deals (all rates are inclusive of tolls).

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

Bangkok Airport Hotel 3 of the most popular Bangkok Airport Hotels – great deals, all hotels within 10 minutes of the airport terminal, 24 hour reception and transfer service – instant confirmation and secure payment.

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Why Solo Female Travel is Different

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On the second Wednesday of the month, Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse writes a guest column featuring tips and advice on solo female travel. It’s not a topic I can cover and since there’s a lot of solo female travelers out there, I felt it was important to bring in an expert. This is her column this month.

My male friends who travel have been invited into the homes of locals for meals just as often as I have. They’ve enjoyed the same far-fetched and heart-warming experiences that I have. We will come home with many of the same engaging stories. We both have the same sized backpacks. We both have family members and friends at home who worry about us. We face the same daily challenges as travelers.

In many ways, we aren’t so different.

So why do people make such a big deal out of solo female travel?

Because, like it or not, women and men do have different concerns when it comes to traveling, especially when alone.

As a solo woman I often lack the freedom to travel without locals. In many cultures, females don’t have the kind of autonomy we have in the West and it can be both worrying and confusing to see me by myself. At 28, I’m already quite ancient for a single woman in many of the countries I’ve traveled to.

In Borneo, a woman came up to me while her husband fixed my flat motorbike tire. “Sister,” she said, “you’re alone? You have no brother, no husband?” While her concern was genuine and appreciated, I get asked this a lot. Surely I have a husband somewhere. Don’t I at least have a boyfriend? Where are my children? What in the heck do I think I am doing?!

I found that answering, “I actually find being single to be quite liberating!” or “Well, I don’t really want any children,” just results in more horrified looks, so I usually just told them that my husband or boyfriend is “at home” or “on his way.”

While men and women both have to worry about personal safety while traveling, there are a few things that can happen that tend to exclusively target females. For example, I was groped in the dark while walking along a dirt road in an area that was known as “safe” in Nepal just after sunset. Even if I had been holding pepper spray it wouldn’t have mattered, since he was so swift, I never even saw his face or had a moment to react. When I told a police officer, his first question was to ask me what I was doing alone.

Even after a year and a half of traveling solo, it made me angry at first, but it reminded me that yes, I am different from a male traveler. I can’t just walk around at night alone without considering the sobering possibility of sexual assault. While this is a concern even at home, female travelers have to be even more vigilant in foreign countries.

Moreover, it’s also essential to dress differently. Although this seems like a no-brainer, it’s a common mistake. I once stepped out of a hotel room in Sumatra, Indonesia without enough covering on my arms. It seemed like every male in the street stopped what he was doing to yell or make gestures at me. It was so chilling, I retreated back to my hotel and didn’t leave for the next three days. You have to always be conscious of how you dress when you’re a female traveler. That can be mentally taxing.

Unfortunately, women have to consider these things when we travel alone. In some countries, we can’t dress how we want, be seen alone, or venture out at night without a posse. It can be socially unacceptable at best and downright dangerous at worst.

Does this mean that women shouldn’t travel alone? Of course not! It simply means that there are a few extra precautions that we have to take in order to ensure our safety.

Modern psychologists also argue that women have powerful intuition and a heightened ability to read nonverbal communication cues. Our gut instinct and intuition are almost always right. Listen to them.

It’s also important to remember that the world outside can often be much safer than back home. I’m from Los Angeles, where gun crime, robberies, and violence are common. I wouldn’t walk around alone at night there even though it’s where I grew up. I don’t want to come off as stereotyping the world as a scary place.

Men who travel alone do also have concerns, but we women have to worry about safety a bit more, have to defend our alternative life choices slightly more vigorously, and must be assertive and dominant in cultures where that may be uncommon. This is why we make such a big deal out of solo female travel and this is why I write this column – to give you advice on how to make your trips better and safer.

By taking the right precautions, doing some research into customs and safety before visiting foreign countries, and going with your gut instincts, solo traveling can be safe, enjoyable, and incredibly rewarding In future blogs, I’ll talk more about the positive character building, cultivation of fearlessness, and personal growth that solo travelers experience.

Solo traveling doesn’t have to be dangerous or scary, it just requires the right amount of preparation and alertness.

Kristin Addis is a former investment banker who sold all of her belongings and bid California goodbye in favor of traveling solo through Asia while searching for off-the-beaten path adventures.  There’s almost nothing she won’t try and almost nowhere she won’t explore.

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Why Solo Female Travel is Different

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Day trips from Bangkok

When you ask yourself what to do in and around Bangkok, thoughts automatically flow to the famous Grand Palace, beautiful temples such at Wat Arun or Wat Pho or perhaps visiting one of the city’s many air conditioned shopping malls to escape the humidity.

What about doing something a little bit different with your time and escaping for the day? This is my guide to some of my favourite day trips:

Koh Kret

Koh Kret, (also referred to as Koh Kred), is a manmade island located in the Chao Phraya River accessible via Nonthanburi.

The island dates back to 1722, when a canal was built as a shortcut to bypass a sharp bend in the Chao Phraya River. The canal continued to be widened several times, until eventually a section was cut off making it a separate island.

It initially was a home for the Mon tribes who dominated central Thailand between the 6th and 10th centuries. Today it remains a traditional, charming Thai village complete with wooden houses and green fields. It offers a taste into how life is in the more rural areas of Thailand and makes for an ideal day trip from Bangkok.

The island can be explored on foot, via a small water taxi or by bike (you will need identification if you want to hire bikes) – the latter two can be arranged at the pier. There are elevated concrete walkways which link around the island for those choosing to walk or cycle. By foot, the island takes between two – three hours to explore, depending on your pace.

Koh Kret is probably most famous for producing red/ terracotta pottery. As you wander or cycle around the island, you will note there are many places you can watch it being made. Small pieces cost as little as 5B to buy. In addition there is also the Kwan Aman Pottery Museum, home to a large collection of ancient ceramics. The museum is open 7 days a week between 9am-5pm.

There are many temples dotted around the island, together with a small market selling both food and drink (there are small cafes around the island) as well as traditional Thai handicrafts.

From central Bangkok, catch the orange flagged ferry at Central Sathorn Pier all the way to pier N30 (the last stop). From there negotiate a small fee with one of the many waiting guides to take you to the transporter ferry.

A trip to the seaside

Prior to moving to Bangkok, many of my friends envisaged me spending days and weekends by the sea. Well, so did I if I am honest! It was only when my proper research began that I realised that was something that was not going to happen.

Koh Samet is great for a weekend, but a little far for one day, and Pattaya is not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. Although many of the islands such as Koh Samui or Phuket are great for a weekend, they are a little far for just a day trip.

If you fancy a trip to the beach then without giving up all of your precious weekend, I encourage you to visit Koh Si Chang. Tham Phang beach is the perfect place to relax with a book for a few hours.

The island is also steeped in Thai Royal history if you prefer to stretch your legs rather than sit in a deck chair. You may be interested in:

• Sri Chalothornthep Shrine

This shrine is the island’s guardian spirit. H.M. King Chulalalongkorn gave a royal command to build this shrine and he performed the royal opening ceremony on 19 August 1981.

• Asdang Bridge

H.M. King Chulalalongkorn donated from his personal funds the money needed to build this bridge, as a way of making merit to say thank you for the looking after his son, Prince Asdang Dejvudh when he fell ill on Koh Si Chang. The Royal opening ceremony was performed on 23 August 1981.

• Phrathinang Mantharatanarot

This was an important mansion that was part of the Phar Chudadhuj Palace. H.M. King Chulalalongkorn gave a royal command to build both this mansion and the palace at the same time on 10 August 1892. This construction continued for a year until the Franco- Siamese conflict began. French troops then invaded and occupied Koh Si Chang. In 1900, His Majesty gave a royal command to remove the mansion to a site near the Dusit Palace in Bangkok and renamed it Phrathinang Vimanmek. The ruins are all that remain in Koh Si Chang amid the frangipani trees that frame the site.

Koh Si Chang is easily reached from Bangkok. Buses leave from Ekkamai bus station every 20 minutes or so (this is Thailand after all!) A single ticket costs 97B and the journey takes around an hour and a half. The first ferry leaves from Koh Loi pier at 8am and a ticket is 10B – you will need to take a tuk tuk from where the bus drops you off to the pier, but there are plenty waiting. There are then tuk tuks, motorcycles and taxis at the pier who will take you to the beach, or you can even negotiate a few hours with one of them to tour around the island.

Koh Kred

Get some fresh air

Only 30 minutes away from central Bangkok is the luscious green “island” of Bang Krachao. Nicknamed the green lung, it is hard to believe that such a tranquil oasis can be found so close to the metropolis of the city.

There are a few food vendors near the pier if you are peckish, otherwise turn left and head towards the first temple – from there you will see the elevated concrete walkways which allow you to explore the island, wandering around the numerous mango and banana trees and other luscious fauna.

An organic hotel, the Bangkok Treehouse is a pleasant spot to sit with a book enjoying lunch made with local fresh produce or a lovely cool drink. Alternatively, offers half day tours exploring the island and visiting a botanical park, temples and even a Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery.

If using public transport, the green lung is best reached via Bang Chak BTS, head out of exit two and then catch a taxi and ask to go to the river. After about five minutes, you will be dropped at the pier, where for 3B you can catch the transporter ferry across.

Watch some live sport

Bangkok has lots of live sport but why not make a day trip of it?

Catch a bus from Ekkamai BTS and head to Chonburi for the day. Spend lunchtime and early afternoon at Bang Saen beach, enjoying some sea food and breathing in that lovely sea air before heading to Chonburi FC to take in a match.

Chonburi FC, also known as the Sharks, play in the top league of Thai football and are one of the biggest, best supported and most successful Thai clubs in recent years.

Perhaps the quality of football is not at the same level as the English premiership, but the atmosphere at Chonburi is second to none. The crowd never stop cheering for their team and it is impossible to not get caught up with their enthusiasm. It is also nice to see how much of a family affair it is.

Even better a single ticket from Bangkok is 110B and a football ticket is 100B – a little different from the tickets prices in England!

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Day trips from Bangkok

Princess Suvarnabhumi Residence 549/18 Onnut-Lat Krabang Road, Thapyao 02 172 9919 Excellent Bangkok Airport Hotel – professional friendly staff, one of the closest and most popular hotels in the immediate BKK Suvarnabhumi airport location.

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Going over to the Thai side

You are dating a Thai guy? Inevitably, this is the question I get asked after I tell people about my boyfriend. To be fair, a white, American girl and a Thai man holding hands is an unusual sight, but it shouldn’t be. There are always complaints from expat women about how the dating scene in Thailand is about as bad as it gets. Many women have completely given up, but I also think a lot of women haven’t ventured over to the Thai side. So I encourage you to join our small club.

Of course, these reasons are not meant to apply to all Thai men, but here are some of the benefits I have found about dating a Thai guy:

1. They carry your bags, including your purse. When I first started dating my boyfriend, he would always reach for my purse and try to take it off my shoulder. Needless to say, as an American woman, this was incredibly confusing to me. I later asked him why he does this and he said “it’s just what it is, it’s our culture” Alright, that’s reason enough for me! However, I do still carry my own purse. I just can’t accept the idea of a man with a purse, but I haven’t had to carry anything else in over a year!

2. Hate paying farang prices and being jerked around by people trying to squeeze every last Baht out of you? Watch them try to do that when you have a Thai boyfriend with you. Not only will you be paying a fair price, but it’s hot to watch your man defend you, even if it is to save ten cents.

3. They’re funny. While too much of this kind of attitude can quickly become annoying, most Thai men are jokers at heart and who doesn’t love to be with a guy that can make them smile?

4. Square jaws, good heads of hair and full kissable lips.

5. Thai men have a well earned reputation of being less than faithful. Obviously, you want to steer clear of anyone in that group, but if you can find a good one, Thai men are faithful family men. If family is something that is important to you, a Thai man will share that value with you. Many of them will still live at home with their parents until they get married, which to a Westerner is a red flag. But, if you can get over this cultural difference, it’s kind of cute that they want to take care of their ageing mom and dad after having been taken care of for their whole lives. That’s a green flag for me.

6. They will come to you. I’m all about women’s rights and girl power, but there is still something nice about a man offering to pick you up and take you to dinner, even if it’s inconvenient for him, rather than meeting him there. There’s something very gentlemanly about it that a lot of Western men have lost. For Thai men, this is expected and totally normal so you never have to feel like you’re inconveniencing them; it’s something I am still getting used to.

7. They’re very loving, and at the end of the day, this is what most women are looking for. They are much quicker to drop the L bomb so be aware that it doesn’t carry the same weight for them as it does for many expat women. I think I heard it from him on our third date but I didn’t repeat it until at least our fourth month. Normally that would have sent me running, but I had been warned about this. While they can sometimes be lazy, ahem, please do the dishes … they will do small, thoughtful, romantic things that surprise you and make you fall in love with them again and again.

8. Everyone says a little spice is good for a relationship. Thai men like spicy in the morning, at noon and in the evening …

If you haven’t gone over to the Thai side yet, I say give it a shot!

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Going over to the Thai side

Princess Suvarnabhumi Residence 549/18 Onnut-Lat Krabang Road, Thapyao 02 172 9919 Excellent Bangkok Airport Hotel – professional friendly staff, one of the closest and most popular hotels in the immediate BKK Suvarnabhumi airport location.

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Foreign exchange rate for expats

Bea Toews invited me to share with you all some tips on how to make sure you are receiving the best exchange rate and also avoid needless bank charges.

She pointed out that many expat seniors live on investments that are sent to Thailand from abroad, and they want to get best value for their money. The more money that arrives from abroad, the more important it is to get good exchange rates.

Very briefly, I will take you through the process of transferring money and show you how you can save money on exchange rates.

Firstly I would like to explain the basics of FX (Foreign Exchange) so you all have a better understanding of the charges and rates you are being offered.

There are various ways of sending money abroad, using your Bank in your home country, using an FX Broker, or using money transfer companies like Western union etc.

All of the above will have a charge attached to each transfer you make called a transmission charge. This will vary but most banks charge around £20 – £30 for each international transfer you make. Does not sound expensive, but this is not where they make their money. The real profits are made on the spread. This is calculated from the rate you are being offered and the mid market rate or wholesale rate. Everybody has access to these rates online. Try it for yourself. Find out what rate your bank is offering you and then check the mid market rate on websites like XE.COM or Also note that the mid market rate is constantly changing throughout the day so what may be a reasonable rate in the morning may not be that good by the afternoon.

Here is an example of a mid market rate, For this example I will use for British Sterling and Thai Baht. At the close of play when writing this article, Bloomberg was quoting 54.9956, a major high street bank was quoting 52.40, This equates to a spread of nearly 5%!

In monetary terms that would mean for every £1000 you send abroad you are losing an additional £50 on the spread plus a transmission charge of circa £30 which would equate to about 4 – 4500B per transfer. If you are transferring larger sums say from £10000 – $25000, the charges start to get eye watering!

Regardless of how you send your money abroad, one thing you want to avoid doing when living abroad is using your bank cards from your home country.

This is by far the most expensive way of exchanging foreign currency as your bank will charge you for each transaction, you will also get hit by their poor exchange rates and in Thailand the Thai banks also charge 150B per transaction when withdrawing money from an ATM. You get hit from all angles. Open a bank account locally to avoid local bank charges.

Now that you have an understanding as to how banks and brokers make money when you transfer funds, what are the best options available to you?

It’s simple – use a Foreign Exchange Broker when buying foreign currency. Make sure they are fully regulated in their home country and that they hold your funds in Segregated Client Trust accounts – this is critical as the bank holds your money not the FX Company. Make sure they have easy to use technology so you can purchase and send currency around the world at your convenience. And last and not least, make sure you know the spread that will be charged on each and every transaction that you make. Without this you are buying foreign currency blind.

I hope this has given you all an insight into how Foreign Exchange work, I would be delighted to offer any advice that you may need, I would also encourage you to visit our website and feel free to email me any questions you have regarding this article and also how we can start saving you money when making cross border payments.

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Foreign exchange rate for expats

Princess Suvarnabhumi Residence 549/18 Onnut-Lat Krabang Road, Thapyao 02 172 9919 Excellent Bangkok Airport Hotel – professional friendly staff, one of the closest and most popular hotels in the immediate BKK Suvarnabhumi airport location.

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One day trip to koh samed 4 islands

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Koh samed is relaxed island with stunning beachs it combines the allure of a tropical paradise with reasonable with proximity in pattaya. Koh samed is a main island and also have small island around there. There are Koh Talu, Koh Kudee and Koh Kham.


8.00 am.   Pick up from various hotel.

8.30 am.   Leave from pattaya to banphe pier and get lunch box.

9.30 am.   Get to the boat “Satorn Princess” go to koh samed island for pick up customer  from the island and cruise for sightseeing the beach and the go to Koh talu island

11.00 am  Arrive to Koh Talu Island get the free time for snorkelling or fishing and enjoy for thai buffet on board. After luch we will go to Koh Kham Island.

1.30 pm.   Koh Kham Island is a private island where you can where you can relax and spend time on the beach, swiming as you need. After spend time at Koh Kham Island for feeding and swiming with a lot of fish.

3.00 pm.   Send our customer to Koh samed and arrive back to Phanphee pier.

5.30 pm.   Arrive back to pattaya.





One day trip to koh samed 4 islands

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