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Resources 2018-05-04T22:22:49+00:00

The most common travel setbacks can be avoided by keeping some key things in mind. Based on experience and research, our ever-growing catalog of creative travel tips will help you experience places and cultures.

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Airbnb

You can easily contact your Airbnb host through the app or look up lodging options while on the road.

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Dark Sky

This is a convenient weather app that gives you location specific weather information and the big picture of temps, etc. within regions.

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Find Friends

With this app, you can allow friends to know your location. This is a great “safety app” in case someone needs to find you.

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Google Maps

Works most places and details out for you bus/metro routes, walking and driving routes.

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Grab

Allows you to hire a car and pay via the app or in cash. Grab is typically cheaper than using a taxi.

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Lyft

Allows you to hire a car and pay via the app. It’s like having a personal driver - remember to strike up a conversation with the driver as part of your travel experience!

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Parkmobile

If you’re driving in some places in the U.S., this app allows you to pay for parking meters and keep the meter fed from any location.

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Units Plus

It has a currency converter as well as a speed, temperature, time, volume, pressure, fuel-mileage, length, and weight converter.

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WhatsApp

When traveling outside of your country, this app allows you to text and make calls without being charged international rates.

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Your Airline

The airline you’re flying with likely has an app and you can set notifications to ensure you get real time flight delays or changes.

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Google Flights

We recommend starting with Google Flights to get an overall picture of what your itinerary may cost. From there, start looking at third party sites and the airline’s website. Sometimes you can find the best deal directly from the airline.

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Scott’s Cheap Flights

We also recommend following Scott’s Cheap Flights on Twitter. They are constantly searching for flight deals and making their findings public.

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Airbnb

Airbnb is an excellent way to stay in a neighborhood versus a touristy area. You can often find a better deal on Airbnb versus a traditional hotel, but be aware that due to Airbnb’s growing popularity prices in popular areas are going up.

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TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is a great resource for finding hotels, because it provides you with pricing on multiple booking sites for a particular property and saves you the search time.

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Rental Cars

Expedia and Hotwire are our go-to sites to hire a car. But we find that due to the number of booking sites available, you typically find comparable pricing across sites for your destination. Just remember that sometimes booking sites don’t include extra fees that you will need to pay when you pick-up the car. Always read the fine print before booking anything.

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Reviews.com

This is a helpful place to narrow down your search for the best travel booking sites. Check out The Best Travel Sites of 2018 - generated by Reviews.com extensive research.

Budget Travel

MALDIVES from SE Asia (Julie’s Itinerary)

Below is brief summary of my (Julie’s) itinerary and budget for a 5 day/5 night stay in the Maldives. Feel free to reference it for booking a holiday in this tropical wonderland! The Maldives can be an extremely expensive place to visit. A night at a resort can cost between $400-3,000 USD. But don’t write off this dream destination due to the those types of prices.

Here’s how I experienced the Maldives in April 2017, for a total of $722 USD.

Flight: $130

I was based in Penang, Malaysia and found a promotion on AirAsia out of Kuala Lumpur (KUL) for my visit to the Maldives (MLE). That promotion plus the short, inexpensive round-trip Penang—Kuala Lumpur flight only cost me $130 USD. And that included the exit row seat I purchased for the red eye back to KL!

**To see how much a flight from your home airport to KL (or straight to the Maldives) would be, use Google Flights and compare prices.

  • Accommodation (inclusive of breakfast): $53
  • Ground Transportation: $1

My flight didn’t arrive to Male, Maldives until after 8:00 p.m. and there were no boats to my destination at that time of night. Therefore, I stayed the first night in a guest house, Express Inn, on the man-made Hulhumale Island. It was extremely convenient and a very clean room. I took a bus to get there via a road that connects the island to the airport island.

  • Accommodation (inclusive of breakfast): $38
  • Ground Transportation: $10
  • Shared Speed Boat: $25
  • Food & Beverage: $30

I took a car, arranged by Express Inn on Hulhumale, back to the airport in the morning to catch a 9:00 a.m. shared speed boat with iCom to Maafushi Island.

I was based on Maafushi, a local island, for the rest of my time in the Maldives. I stayed at a guest house called, Faza View Inn and booked it via Airbnb to avoid additional fees/taxes upon arrival. I recommend Faza View due to the outstanding hospitality of the three brothers that own it and the cleanliness. The rooms do not have views, but I didn’t mind since I was out and about all day. In addition, the brothers commitment to protecting the environment and the conversations we had about the Maldivian culture added value to my stay.

For rooms with a view, although higher rates, I recommend the Crystal Sands Resort guest house which can also be booked through Airbnb.

Click here for $40 off your first Airbnb stay.

I spent my second day in the Maldives on Maafushi learning about Maldivian culture, sampling the fresh sea food from the ocean-side restaurants, talking with other travelers, and hanging out at the bikini beach (or “speedo beach” as I prefer to call it!).

  • Accommodation (inclusive of breakfast): $38
  • Full-day Snorkeling to 3 Reefs, Dolphin Watching, and Sand Bank with Lunch: $35
  • Night Fishing and Freshly Caught Fish Dinner: $30

I went on an all day snorkeling excursion and experienced the amazing underwater world of the Indian Ocean. There were eight of us on the trip and it was arranged via Crystal Sands Resort–a guest house on Maafushi. While the snorkeling I did on day 5 was more personalized, the excursion with Crystal Sands Resort was very professional and I had an amazing time.

In the evening, my hosts at Faza View Inn took me out night fishing with two other guests visiting from Germany. We had a lot of fun out in the middle of the ocean on a traditional Maldivian boat, gazing up at a sky full of stars. After arriving back to the guest house, we were presented with an elaborate freshly cooked meal with the fish as the main event.

  • Accommodation (inclusive of breakfast): $38
  • Day at Resort Island (inclusive of boat transfer, sunbed, buffet lunch, and unlimited drinks): $100
  • Massage at Resort: $48
  • Food & Beverage: $15
  • Sunscreen (3 oz): $18

I visited the resort, Adaaran Club Rannalhi, for the day. My hosts at Faza View Inn had recommended I go to a higher end 5-star resort, but it was closed for renovations. I chose Adaaran Club due to the price and it was only a 25 minute speed boat ride from Maafushi.

Being at the resort for the day was very relaxing. I spent time on the beach and snorkeled the house reef. The buffet lunch was fabulous, as was having unlimited drinks throughout the day. I also got a massage (an additional cost) while overlooking the water…it was just what I needed!

After arriving back to Maafushi around 6:00 p.m., I spent the evening wandering through the narrow streets of the island. I even observed how “school pick-up” happens the small island. And I ended the day with dinner under the stars.

  • Accommodation (inclusive of breakfast): $38
  • Half-Day Snorkeling to 2 Reefs and Sand Bank with Lunch: $30
  • Shared Speed Boat: $25
  • Food & Beverage: $20

On my final day in the Maldives, my flight departed at 9:00 p.m. and the last shared speed boat of the day left Maafushi at 5:00 p.m. Therefore, I was able to get in one last snorkeling excursion. One of my hosts from Faza View Inn took me out on a personalized snorkeling adventure. We shared a boat with another guest house that had only three other snorkelers with them. It was the best way to end my time in the Maldives.

After showering and checking out of the guest house, my hosts walked me and two other guests to the jetty to catch the speed boat back to the airport. I had dinner at the airport with my new friends from Germany and then caught the red eye back to Malaysia.

I hope to get back to the Maldives someday and explore even more islands!

Culture

Be Flexible

Instead of getting upset when your travel plans take a different turn, calm yourself down by pausing (count to 10 if it works for you!) and consider what’s really happening in the situation.

Check out this weird vs. different clip from Derek Sivers. Remember to always observe and learn in other cultures. Don’t assume things will happen just like they do in your culture.

Learn

If you will be spending time within a culture for the first time, learn about it before you go. Read a book or watch a movie about it, or talk to someone that grew up there.

Expand Your Borders is a book about the 10 cultural clusters of the world. It’s a great resource for your prep. It also has a brief list of dos and taboos for each area.

Safety Tips

The following are some tips to help you be at ease during your travels and prepared if an emergency arises:

No matter if you’re in a crowd at a concert or traveling on an airplane, know where the exits are. Hotel rooms, for example, typically have an emergency route posted – take a couple minutes to review it. Being aware of your surroundings is important for your personal safety in general, no matter where you are.

Keep yourself in check and focus on immediate needs. Keeping a level head in an emergency can help de-escalate situations and help save lives.

Bring a small first-aid kit that can fit in a shoulder bag. You can purchase one online or at your local pharmacy.

Don’t regret leaving home without travel insurance. It’s inexpensive and beats being stuck with costly medical or trip interruption expenses. Everything from lost bags to hospitalization can be covered. Contact us if you need recommendations for quality travel insurance.

Give your complete itinerary to someone you trust (e.g., family member, partner, or friend). Be sure to include the names and contact info for lodging, flight numbers, name of the car rental company, etc. And give the person a color copy of your passport if you’re traveling out of the country.

Most of us rely heavily on technology, but in an emergency phone service may not be available. Be sure to have important phone numbers written on a piece of paper so that you can access them if needed. Also, know your country’s embassy information and register with it when traveling internationally.

Leave your expensive jewelry at home and don’t take unnecessary technology with you. Keep the valuable items you do bring in your carry-on bags while traveling and in a safe, if available, when not in use. Also don’t draw attention to yourself by wearing clothing that calls out “tourist” or accessories such as fanny packs.

The chances of something harmful or life threatening happening during your travels are slim. But, it’s always better to be prepared if a situation does arise.

Solo Female Travelers

There are a growing number of solo female travelers. In fact, some studies show that more women than men are traveling by themselves.

Helpful Articles for the Solo Female Traveler:

Quit Telling Me I’m Brave (Julie Slagter, 2018)