Travel Blogger Interview – Betsy Wuebker

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Authors of PassingThru, Betsy and Pete left their comfort zone and pursued their dream of becoming location independents. Learn how they achieved their travel goals by following them across social media channels: Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter

 

 

  1. First of all, tell us a quick background about you as a couple…

We’re a boomer couple, empty nesters with no grand kids (yet!). We’ve been location independent since 2011, and now are completely nomadic. After we were married in 2006, we quickly realized that we were not going to have the kind of traditional retirement our parents had enjoyed and that many of our peers look forward to. There were no pensions and very little savings. We took some unexpected hits in real estate with the recession, etc. So we decided we’d better play offense as well as defense. Since we’d be still working in our later years, online business seemed to be a good fit. And, as we really loved to travel, we decided to try to combine these interests into a group of diverse income streams, figuring this would make us less financially vulnerable if something didn’t pan out.

  1. Why Passing Thru?

We envisioned PassingThru in 2008 as an online hub around which the other businesses and income streams would revolve. The blog chronicles our travels, thoughts and experiences with online work, location independence and the type of mindset you need to develop to be successful with this type of lifestyle. It also links into our other efforts – our online stores, the books we’ve written, our business resource recommendations, and our consulting services. PassingThru, like many other lifestyle blogs, is a window into who we are and what we do.

  1. What is your travel style?

Our travel style has evolved. When we were dating and first married, we camped a lot. Gradually, we decided we liked a few more creature comforts, so got rid of the camping equipment and changed to hotel stays. We collected a lot of hotel points that have served us well throughout our travels. We road-tripped around North America using Pete‘s vacation time before he quit his day job, testing our ability to work on our businesses from the road. Then we took a fateful trip to Hawaii and decided we wanted to move out of the chilly midwest to paradise. So we sold everything on the mainland and did just that. For a year, we just exhaled on the island of Kaua’i and didn’t travel anywhere. Then we made an epic journey to Europe and traveled over land to Russia for the Winter Olympics. While we had a blast, we realized that a faster pace just wasn’t us anymore. It’s no fun packing up and schlepping to a new location every few days. When we returned home to Kaua’i we decided we’d travel the world for two years, which would allow us to stay longer in each location.

  1. What places have you visited so far?

By the end of 2014, together we’ll have visited 36 states, 5 Canadian provinces, 3 continents and 16 countries so far. Our goal is 7 continents, 50 states together (anything we did separately before we were married doesn’t count!).

  1. Have you experienced challenges being location independent entrepreneurs?

So far we’ve liked just about everywhere we’ve been, and would have liked to stay longer than planned! We’re hoping that slowing the pace will give us the time we want to get to know places in more depth. It’s amazing how conditioned we all are to compress our travels just as if we have a limited amount of vacation time. Breaking out of that mindset has been liberating, but still we tend to lapse.

  1. How do you fund your travels?

We have both business and investment income sources. We’ve reduced expenses significantly since we became “deliberately homeless,” as you might imagine. People mistakenly think you have to be rich to live this way. Actually, we’re spending less traveling as we do because we’re not maintaining a traditional lifestyle with all the expenses associated with that. Additionally, we’re house sitting when we can, caring for pets and property while homeowners have a getaway themselves. This eliminates accommodation expenses. Once those are gone, it’s really amazing how little you can get by on.

  1. Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?

Yes, we do! Our favorite airline miles card has been the U.S. Airways Mastercard, which will soon roll into the American Airlines program as part of the merger. We’re looking forward to that because we think the program will be more flexible in terms of international flight planning.

  1. What are the things that you cannot travel without?

Our technology! We each have a MacBook (Betsy an Air and Peter a Pro), iPad and iPhones. We carry along a Time Machine for daily backups, and a network modem. We also have various accessories – surface chargers, bluetooth mouse, converters, etc. It all comes along in “The Office” a wheeled compartmented business case, which gets carried aboard.

  1. What are the places that are still in your bucket list?

Is “everywhere” an acceptable answer? ;-) Okay, to name a few: Trans-Siberian Railroad; Africa: Namibia, South Africa, Rwanda; a Southeast Asia run to include Thailand. Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam; a Scandinavia/Baltic circle tour – Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway. We’re also planning on returning to Europe starting with a visit to Spain next year and would like to walk the Camino de Santiago.

  1. Do you have any major travel regrets?

Only those long past. We’re trying our best to live regret-free these days. You tend to think you have all the time in the world when you’re younger, so you pass up opportunities. Fortunately, we’ve been able to put some of those regrets to rest. We’re very aware that, at our age, we’ve got a finite amount of time. More recently, we were invited by a couple we’d met on the street in Prague to join them for an early lunch. We declined because we’d just eaten. We should have said yes. We’ll never pass up an opportunity to get to know local people again.

  1. What is your greatest learning in travelling?

People are people. We are most assuredly not our governments. We all want similar things in life: health, happiness, safety and freedom. Most people are good-hearted. When you project loving kindness you receive it back.

 

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Benefits of Booking Vacations Around the World

Whether you consider yourself passionate about seeing the world around you or if you are an avid explorer, consider booking vacations around the globe right from the comfort of your own home. Understanding the benefits of booking multiple vacations and getaways from one location is a way for you to make the most of your time while also having the ability to save on costs and expenses.

Planning Your Trip Ahead of Time

When you want to plan a trip to vacation around the world, doing so by preparing ahead of time is highly recommended. Take time to research different travel methods, countries you want to visit as well as estimated costs of your vacation to ensure you are able to visit any destination you have in mind for your travels. Working together with a travel agency that is credible and trustworthy is also a way for you to move forward with your travel plans whether you are visiting just one country or if you have a world adventure planned for yourself and your family. Planning a vacation or getaway months or even a year in advance is a way to guarantee it is possible to afford your travel without risking the availability of hotel rooms and airfare.

Researching Destinations Before Booking Your Vacation

Any time you are thinking of traveling to different destinations around the world it is essential to research each location you plan to stop in individually. Gathering as much information as possible about your travel destination is a way to learn more about tourist hotspots, attractions and even local shops and restaurants that are must see spots. Be sure to research the most expensive and most affordable areas of the destinations you have in mind before traveling to ensure you are able to stick to any budget. When you spend the time researching different locations you want to visit it is also much easier to find a service for travel booking that is capable of meeting your needs financially as well as any schedule you have in mind.

Booking With the Right Service

Working with a service such as Royal Holiday is a way to review all of the destinations that are most appealing to you regardless of the budget you are on or have set in place for your getaway. Choosing to work with a company that is trustworthy, reliable and credible is a way to get peace of mind while discovering all that the world has to offer around you. Having a professional service by your side throughout the planning, reserving and booking process of your traveling is a way to completely create an itinerary that is accessible and works with any schedule you have available. With the assistance of a professional company who specializes in international and national travel it is much easier to find lower rates when seeking hotels, airfare and even tourist attractions and events to attend.

Utilizing the right service to find the best getaways and vacation locations is a way to ensure you are maximizing your saving abilities while giving you the opportunity to see the world. Whether you want to travel to one central location or if you are interested in seeing the sights around the world in different countries, working with the right service is a way to get you there on any budget.

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Travel Blogger Interview – Catherine McHugh

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Catherine Mchugh is the author of Ever Changing Scenery where she inspires people to make every day an adventure. Get a glimpse of how her adventures unfold thru Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest; and learn how you can turn every single day into small and big adventures as well. 

 

  1. First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself….

Hello! I’m Catherine, a recent graduate who is currently living a fairly normal life in York, England. I’m working away in my first ‘real’ job while making plans to escape the nine to five and travel full time. I love making an every day an adventure, whether I’m at home or abroad.

  1. What inspired you to start your blog?

A few months before I started Ever Changing Scenery, I became obsessed with reading other people’s travel blogs online. I could spend hours soaking up all the information I could find on how to travel long-term, the best places to go and the top things to see and do. Once I committed to the idea of travelling full-time and making my own life more adventurous, I knew I wanted to share it with the people who had inspired me, and to hopefully one day inspire someone else.

  1. How do you make your everyday an adventure?

When most people think of adventure, they think of travelling the world, swimming with sharks or jumping out of an airplane. The definition of an adventure is actually ‘an unusual and exciting experience’, and anyone can make this a part of their every day. I love taking a walk in an area I haven’t explored before, trying an unusual dish at a local restaurant or going on a weekend away to a city I haven’t visited before. For me this is what adventure is all about, just doing something different and getting out of your comfort zone.

  1. When was your first trip ever? Where did you go and how was the experience

The first place I went abroad was to Albufeira in Portugal, but as I was just three years old I don’t remember a lot of details! As luck would have it, I will actually be returning to the same city later this year, so I’ll be able to tell you a lot more about the destination very soon!

  1. What places have you visited so far, what is your favourite among them?

To date I have visited a total of thirteen countries, and India has by far been my favourite. I spent a month in Mumbai, and it was actually the first time I left Europe. I think it is this that made it so special; everything was so completely different to anything I had experienced before. There are no words to describe the sights, smells and sounds that India has to offer, but it truly is a magical place.

  1. How do you fund your travels?

At the moment we’re saving as much as possible to get us going, and once we’re on the road we plan to keep our costs to a minimum and last as long as possible with the money we start with. Ultimately I’d love to be able to carve out a ‘location independent career’ and get paid for travel writing, but I know it will take time to secure a steady income this way and I’m prepared for the fact that I will have to get a more hands-on job wherever we are when the cash runs out. Whether it’s teaching English in Asia, working on a farm in Australia or doing some bar work in America, I’m fairly certain it will be more exciting than an office job here in England!

  1. Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?

No, unfortunately not. A few years back I did have a credit card, but I got into a bad habit of spending too much and not paying the bills off. The debt quickly added up and after spending so long paying it off I’ve been a little scared to risk taking out another credit card. It might mean I could end up with free flights, but I just don’t trust myself and know I’d be more likely to end up with lots of debt!

  1. What places are still in your bucket list?

Everywhere, or at least that’s what it feels like. Top of the list is South East Asia. I’d love to experience everything Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos have to offer, and they’re some of the countries we plan on visiting first on our long-term travels. Japan and South Korea are very high on the list too, but the higher cost of living in these countries has pushed them a bit further down. Mexico and South America are places I’d also love to visit, as is pretty much everywhere else in the world!

  1. Do you have any major travel regrets?

Only not having started travelling sooner. Until I discovered this world of travel blogs I didn’t even realise long-term travel was an option, other than the typical gap year. I just wish I hadn’t spend so long wondering what to do with my life and had spent more time saving money and getting ready to go!

  1. What is your advice to young travellers who are still about to begin realising their travel dream?

Just go for it! What’s the worst that can happen?

 

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Las Vegas Without Opening Your Wallet

Las Vegas is the top U.S. travel destination this year, with more people searching for travel packages and tips about Las Vegas than any other destination. Travelers like Lindsey Stone can easily see this is because there are a lot of free activities in the city and the nearby countryside that make this a great destination even if you don’t gamble.

The Big Casino Hotels

The biggest casino hotels offer free events that attract viewers all day long.

The Venetian offers the Carnevale di Venezia, which is a 15-minute performance of opera by elaborately costumed artists. You can also see living statues, gondoliers and jugglers on stilts.

The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an airy atrium with hundreds of exotic plants and flowers in elaborate arrangements. It’s open 24 hours a day, has live music from 5pm – 6pm, and there is Mr. and Mrs. Green Thumb to answer all your botanical questions.

Caesars Palace has a Fall of Atlantis water show that is out of this world. It starts at 11am and repeats every hour. There is also a 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium with more than 300 fish. There’s an even bigger one at Silverton’s with more than 4,000 tropical fish, mermaids and feeding times.

Every night you can see a 54-foot volcano erupt at the Mirage with all the requisite smoke, fire and lava.

Children, and adults, can watch a free circus show at Circus Circus that has trapeze acts, acrobats, jugglers and other acts above the casino floor as well as acts in the child-friendly midway.

The MGM Grand Lion Habitat is 12 miles out of the city, but the lions are brought into a special glass habitat at the hotel where you can view the lions from all angles.

In the City

Ethel’s Chocolates Factory Tour is free and fun. You get to watch how candy is made and get a free sample at the end. It’s an activity that is not associated with gambling and is a great alternative for a little quiet time. There is also the largest Botanical Cactus Garden in Nevada nearby with four acres of more than 300 species succulents and cacti.

Freemont Street

In downtown Las Vegas, the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian promenade is worth the trip to Vegas itself. There are free nightly shows that have more than 12.5 million lights and 550,000watts of sound. It includes free concerts and special events. It has the world’s largest video screen and is a great place to people-watch. You should get there early to grab a table in an outdoor café and enjoy.

The Neon Museum is also on the street that includes a veritable history of neon in Las Vegas as well as many other historical signs. There are guides that give tours to explain the background of each sign.

There are two zip lines down Freemont Street. They’re not free, but definitely worth the price.

Outdoor Adventure

If you like some outdoor activity included in your vacation, the Valley of Fire State Park is just one hour from the city. It has bizarre rock formations and Native American petroglyphs. The Grand Canyon in Arizona is about a five hour drive away, but definitely worth the trip. You can camp there and return the next day.

Las Vegas may have a wild reputation, but it is an extremely family and budget friendly place for a really memorable vacation.

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8 Budget-Friendly Destinations for a Stress-Free Vacation

Popular tourists destinations are great…sometimes. Other times you may want to avoid the headache.

What’s wrong with the popular tourist traps? They’re expensive, they can be dangerous and they’re crowded.

There’s a better way.

Traveling to little-known vacation areas can be great for several reasons. They’re affordable, they’re less crowded and you can try something new and different.

Disney World is great and all, but smaller attractions can leave lasting memories for the rest of your life. It’s amazing how stress-free a vacation can be if you’re not spending hundreds of dollars everyday and you’re more focused on actually spending time together.

I’ve got a solution for you. I’ve compiled a list of 8 great places to go on vacation that won’t break your budget.

And be sure to stick around for some stress-free travel tips at the end…

1. Washington D.C.

Though the cost of living in the D.C. area may be high, being a tourist there isn’t. You can find decent lodging rates if you stay out of the city and take the subway in.

Food: There are several amazing pizza joints in D.C. and don’t forget to look for the little dinners and dives that are scattered all over.

Attractions: Free museums galore! Of course, American tax dollars are paying for them, but there is no cost to enter a plethora of museums and attractions in D.C., including The National Museum of American History, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Washington Monument and The Lincoln Memorial…to name a few.

2. Oklahoma City, OK

You won’t run out of things to do in this city with over 1,000,000 people in the metro area. Lodging rates aren’t too high in the city and if you look on the outer limits, you can expect some really great rates.

Food: World-famous onion burgers are one of the many choices you have for food in OKC. Eischen’s is another great place right outside of OKC. They are famous for their fried chicken and for serving it on a paper towel.

Attractions: There are all kinds of cheap/free museums and inner-city attractions. Don’t miss the Oklahoma City Zoo! With a ticket price under $10 for adults (half price for military), that makes for a cheap day exploring the giant wildlife wonderland.

3. Nashville, TN

The city of music and fun. If you’re looking for a night out, just go downtown and find any type of music you like, while eating some great food.

Food: It may not be Memphis, but the barbecue is comparable. If you’re looking for a treat, head over to Knockout Wings and be sure to try their famous butter biscuits, southern sweet tea and of course, amazing wings.

Attractions: From music museums to street performances, this is truly the city of music. If you like music, it’s easy to stay entertained for a week or longer, even on a small budget. Even if you’re not into music that much, there are several other museums and attractions around the town.

4. Branson, MO

With more shows than Las Vegas, Branson is a tourist’s goldmine. It’s a great summer getaway or a winter holiday vacation spot. Our family has been there during both seasons and both were awesome for different reasons.

Food: Look for the diners, they’re everywhere. You can find some great BBQ here and to top it all off, why not take a trip to the famous Joe’s Crab Shack?

Attractions: The shows are a given, but aren’t they expensive? Some are, but many are quite affordable. My family and I were able to see 5 shows for under $100 total for the family. You just have to find discounts and package deals. You’ll also want to spend a day or two at the new Branson Landing for shopping and dining.

5. New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is popular and for a good reason, though it’s not overcrowded, unless you go during Mardi Gras. There is a lot to do and you don’t have to spend much.

Food: New Orleans is known for all kinds of delicious Cajun food. You’ll want to try a real po’boy from Johnny Po’Boy’s or one of many other great places. There is plenty of seafood to go around. You’ll also want to make sure you try some crayfish and gator while you’re there.

Attractions: The downtown area has much to offer, even if you aren’t there to walk Bourbon Street. The Audobon Zoo is worth a visit and you won’t want to miss the National WWII Museum.

6. Hot Springs, AR

I may be a little biased, since this is my hometown, but it’s really a hidden goldmine. The entire city is a National Park, so if you want nature, this is your place. As far as lodging, you have choices from cheap, clean hotels to very affordable condos in the Hot Springs Village.

Food: Great barbecue and southern food all over. While we’re talking about barbecue, make sure you try the famous “tamale spread” from McClard’s BBQ. You’ll see the pictures on the wall of a few celebrities, like Bill Clinton and Tom Green, eating there. There is also a surprising number of great authentic Mexican restaurants and taco trucks.

Attractions: Hiking, walking trails, museums, a historic downtown area and their famous lakes will keep you busy. It’s also a great place to get an affordable massage at one of the many spas downtown. You can even learn to scuba dive in Lake Ouachita, one of the cleanest lakes in the country.

7. Gulf Shores, AL

A city on the gulf with just a few thousand people makes for affordable restaurants, lodging and entertainment.

Food: You can find your fair share of fresh seafood and southern cooking, but if you want a real hole-in-the-wall wonder, head over to Old World Bakery and Pizza for some amazing Italian food. It’s a hidden gem that my wife and I were lucky enough to find.

Attractions: For starters, you have the ocean. It’s hard to beat that. There are free beaches everywhere. If you get tired of the beach, you can always find something to do in the little beach-front town, or you can take the short day-trip into the Florida panhandle.

8. Lancaster, PA

Lancaster is known for being “Amish country”, but it doesn’t end there. Take the Amish tours and see the beautiful country, but there’s more.

Food: There are plenty of Amish restaurants that serve fresh, natural, home-cooked meals. Be sure to try the baked oatmeal over at Lititz Family Cupboard on the outskirts of Lancaster County.

Attractions: Amish tours and outlet shopping are pretty popular. You could take the kids to Hershey Park or just take a tour of the Hershey factory and land. There’s also a gigantic Sight & Sound Theatre that puts on a great show.

Some Final Stress-Free Travel Tips

Hopefully you’ve found your next vacation spot! Before I go, I want to make your next vacation even more enjoyable. Let me give you some tips that I use to make vacations less stressful…

1. Keep an Inventory List: Keep a list of everything you need to take with you when you go. Don’t make a new list every time, just keep a standard “inventory list” on hand. You’ll want to make a separate list for flying trips and driving trips, since you will likely bring different things.

2. Call Ahead: Whether you’re staying in lodging or with a friend, call ahead to figure out what you don’t need to bring. They may already stock the room with most of the hygiene products you’re bringing and the front desk can always supply you with more if you run out.

3. Don’t Stress, You Can Buy It: With your inventory list and calling ahead, you shouldn’t forget anything, but if you do, remember: don’t stress about bringing everything; you can always buy small items if you need to. It’s not worth stressing out over a forgotten tooth brush…just go buy one. Remembering this saves me tons of stress.

4. Use Tools: With all of the resources we have on the Internet, you should never be searching long for a place to stay or a place to eat. Use apps like “Hotels By Me” (lodging) and “Urban Spoon” (food) to find a place near you. This unlocks the opportunity to read reviews and see pictures before you arrive.—–LINKS!

5. Ask the Locals: If you’re ever not sure what to do, ask the locals. They know the best restaurants, the best attractions and sometimes, they may even know of some cheap places to stay. It always helps to ask someone who is already familiar with the area.

Now for one last bonus tip. Can you handle one more? Sure you can…

You’ll generally be spending more money on vacation than you would normally, so make sure you’re taking full advantage of credit card rewards with each and every purchase. Don’t miss an opportunity to earn money. For more on this, you should check out “11 Ways to Make Money When You Spend Money“.

Here’s to your next budget-friendly, stress-free vacation. Cheers!

Author Bio: Kalen Bruce is the founder and main writer at MoneyMiniBlog, where he writes short, sweet and simple articles about money and productivity. Kalen lives a debt-free life with his wife and four children. You can learn more about him here. Get his free eBook: Financial Freedom on a Full Schedule.

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