Travel Blogger Interview – Round The World in 30 Days

Round The World in 30 DaysMeet Jenny McIver the founder and the author at Round The World in 30 Days blog sharing with us her travel experience around the globe. Her first RTW trip was love at first flight and quickly turned into an annual event once she realized that it wasn’t that hard to plan,it wasn’t as expensive as she thought it might be and it was unbelievably, life-alteringly, amazing!. You can follow her blog on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram

First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m Jenny McIver. Atlanta-based road warrior, globetrotter and author of “The Grown-Up’s Guide to Globetrotting.” Ten years ago while on a business trip, I came across a newspaper article about a man who took a year-long trip around the world on a single airline ticket. I don’t know why but the idea just struck me like a ton of bricks. I’d never heard of “RTW” tickets but I started looking into them the next day and discovered that I had more than enough miles to book one through Delta’s Skyteam Alliance. I couldn’t take a year without sacrificing my career but I decided to do a month. Exactly one year later I departed on my first 30-day trip around the world and this year I’m planning my 10th for January 2015. To date, I’ve visited and written about more than 155 countries on all 7 continents.

What gave you the inspiration to start your blog?

I started blogging long before I actually realized that’s what it was called. With my first round-the-world trip in 2006, I used a site called MyTripJournal.com to keep an online journal of my travels, mainly just so I could share photos with family and friends, keep them updated on my location and have something to help me remember all the little details of the trip. (Remember, this was back before the whole world was on Facebook.) When I decided to do the trip again the following year, I again used the MyTripJournal site but by Round the World #3, I knew this was going to be an annual event so I decided it was time to transition to my own site. Thus, RTWin30days.com was born in 2008 and I’ve been blogging about my travels there ever since.

What is it about travel that has you so obsessed about it?

It’s funny, the more of the world I see, the more I want to see. You don’t realize just how big the world is until you get out there and start exploring it. And travel (especially round-the-world travel) has definitely become a passion for me. In 2009 I realized one 30-day trip a year just wasn’t enough anymore so I started a mid-year edition. Not a RTW, but a month-long trip focused on a certain region of the world. That summer was “Europe in 30 Days” I’ve also done Central America, the Himalayas and the Balkans in 30 days each on subsequent summers.

What have been your favorite places that you’ve visited so far?

My all-time favorite is Antarctica and I can’t imagine that any place will ever surpass it. It’s the closest you can get to visiting another planet and it was just a uniquely special and surreal experience. My other favorites are Easter Island and Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. I also love the Maldives, Laos, the Greek Islands and just about everywhere in Thailand.

I noticed you mentioned travel isn’t expensive, how to you fund your travels?

My round-the-world trips are primarily funded by my business travel-accrued airline miles and hotel points. I use my Delta miles for a business-class RTW ticket each year and my accumulated hotel points cover about half of the hotel costs. That helps a lot. That said, you don’t need miles to do a RTW trip affordably. RTW tickets are an incredible value for anyone and I’ve seen them on sites like Airtreks.com and Bootsnall.com for as little as $2,000 (which is almost what I paid just for my coach flight to China last summer). Choosing inexpensive destinations is a great cost saver, too. In South America, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, your money will stretch a lot farther than at home. South Africa is a deal right now, too, thanks to the rand’s drop against the dollar. I was just there last month and I was shocked at how much cheaper it was than on my first visit in 2006.

What are the most effective ways you limit costs when traveling?

Miles and hotel points are the biggest thing. But I also spend a good amount of time figuring out the least expensive order to visit several countries in a region – where are the cheap direct flights? Or inexpensive train routes, for example. Each big trip is like putting together a puzzle. You have to find the least expensive way to make the pieces fit. I also love taking advantage of low-cost carriers around the world and have done dozens of flights for less than $50 in various countries. Buses and trains aren’t always the cheapest form of transportation!

Are there any budget travel strategies that you tried but decided weren’t for you?

Hostels aren’t for me. Budget airlines, yes. But hostels, no. I do love a nice bargain hotel, though. With budget airlines like Easy Jet and Air Asia, I always pay the extra money for early boarding and assigned seats when available. It makes me feel like I’m flying a full-service airline even when I’m on a super cheap fare.

What do you mean by “being on the road for business”?

I own an event management business and travel frequently to manage large conventions and trade shows. My primary client, however, is a major sports television network and I travel weekly for them during college football season. Overall, I travel for business more than half the year.

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

Absolutely! I’m an Atlanta-based frequent flier so Delta is my program. I have two Delta Skymiles American Express cards, one business and one personal. Those cards help me earn miles for my RTW tickets. I also carry the Chase Sapphire card and I’ve used their Ultimate Rewards program to book flights on airlines all over the world.

What places are still on your bucket list?

The Arctic to see the Northern Lights. Visiting all 50 US states (believe it or not, I’m still about 6 short). The Marquesas, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kenya…so many places! And there are dozens of places I can’t wait to return to someday.

Of all the places you traveled to, what was your favorite?

Antarctica, hands down. Mykonos, Greece is also a very special place to me, it was the first place I visited overseas and I loved it so much I’ve been back 7 times. I like to think it was that little island that first inspired my wanderlust.

Do you have any major travel regrets?

Not starting when I was younger! While some of my peers were taking gap years to travel, I was building a career. I didn’t get my first passport until I was 26 for that trip to Greece. I don’t necessarily regret the choice because it got me to where I am today but I think I would have loved backpacking around Europe as a 20-year-old. What an incredible learning experience it would have been.

Aside from traveling, what’s the best general advice you want to pass to people?

Don’t assume you’re going to have the time or money “someday” to travel. Travel NOW. You never know what will happen down the road. People always say they want to travel but most never really do. They take the traditional, single destination vacation each year and wonder why they’re not making any progress on their Bucket List. Change the way you think about travel. Take that two weeks and go around the world! It’s easier and more affordable than you think.

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Weekly Roundup – 4 Challenges Faced By Travelers

Are you traveling to Paris to celebrate a marriage anniversary, a vacation at Maasai Mara in Kenya or visiting friends in London. You are really anticipating the trip and praying against all odds for the trip to be. As much as you anticipate all these, here are a few challenges that you can face as a traveler and are beyond your wit.

1. Flight Delay

Nothing frustrates a traveler like a delayed flight. this can be caused by poor weather, flight cancellations, maintenance problems with aircrafts, fueling, air glitels congestion in air crafts, security issues, late arrival of the aircraft to be used for the flight from a previous flight among other reasons. A delayed flight can be very costly to the traveler as they are forced to adjust their personal schedules.

2. Airport Security

Going through security check at the airport can be very cumbersome to the traveler.
this is because of delays and adjustments in protocols such that it can be hard for the travelers to keep up with changing tide.

3. Losing your Luggage

Losing a luggage can be attributed to various factors like the attendance typing the wrong destination code, forgetting to pick your luggage, routing label gets damaged, your bag is loaded on the wrong plane among other reasons. To avoid loosing your luggage always; double check if the routing information on your bag is accurate before being sent down the conveyor belt, make yourself known by placing various ID cards in various pockets and poaches, by sharing your itinerary so that the airline workers will be able to route your bag in case the find it and cannot trace you among other advisable measures.

Prescription medication emergencies

It is easier to forget to take a prescription, loosing or running out of medications. It’s even disastrous if your are away from your usual pharmacy, you are in the country the brand name is different or liquid quantities prohibited by airlines.

Conclusion

If you face either of the above challenges, don’t be discouraged, Always remember “There is a solution to every problem. Face the challenge like the brave person you are and definitely your trip will be and you will enjoy to the maximum or achieve your set goals.

Have a Safe Journey, wont you!

How do you face challenges while traveling? Let’s us know in the comments below.

Amazing Reads of the Week

Financial Wisdom From My Younger Self – Disease Called Debt

9 Unexpected Ways Your Budget Leaks Cash – Your Personal Finance Pro

How to Get the Best Rates With Mortgage Brokers – Money Mini Blog

Helpful Social Security References – Oblivious Investor

3 Step For Getting More Out Of Educational Conferences – Advisor Websites Blog

A Flight Attendant Paid to Travel – Travel Junkette

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Cash Is King When Traveling… (And Other Travel Money Tips!)

A lot can go wrong when you travel. Banks will strike just when you want to get your travel money out. ATM’s will fail. Your money will be stolen, or lost. You will take sick or take ill in your destination. All these things have one thing in common, they will keep you from your much needed money, or they will cost money.

It’s said cash is king in business. It’s the lifeblood that keeps the business machine chugging along. And needless to say, its also the oil that greases your travel experiences. Run out of it when traveling and you are in deep sh*t. So then, how do you handle your travel money? What is the best way to carry it, access it and use it? We’ve got some tried and tested tips for you. Read along and share yours too.

The Travel Money Tips

1) Always Carry Cash With You

You will never go wrong with cash. The best is to carry one of the major currencies. Especially the dollar. Most people have a rough idea of the dollar’s value at any given time. You can easily use dollars to pay for most things across countries. It is also easy to find exchange bureaus for the dollar compared to some other currencies.

Also in case of emergencies or failure by banks and ATM’s, you are well covered.

2) Separate Your Travel Money

Don’t put all your travel money in one pocket or bag. Separate it. Carry small amounts in each pocket. Also separate your credit and debit cards. This creates multiple backups in case you lose a bag, or you are pick-pocketed or other alternatives fail. Keep some smaller bills in an easy to reach place for sudden expenses. It’s better to keep the bulk of your money on body storage, such as bra pouches, long johnny boxers. This is especially handy in risky or shared spaces such as hostels.

3) Beware of Exchange Rates

Converting currency costs money. Sometimes you can lose as much as 8% of your money during exchanges. Keep exchanges to a minimum. Calculate the cash you might need locally and exchange that amount at once. Here are some fast rules of thumb regarding currency exchanges:-

  • Stick to reputable exchanges such as regulated bureaus and banks
  • Don’t change your money from street vendors. It’s a recipe for a rip-off
  • Exchange the bulk of your cash at the local travel destination. You get a better late than at your home bank.
  • Avoid exchanging money at the airports. The rates are awful. They know you are desperate.
  • Be aware of the local currency value in relation to your currency. Some vendors will try to rip you off.
  • Get a feel for the local currency. Study the coins and notes. Keep a vague mental value of the currency in relation to your currency. And count your money before you leave the counter.

4) Credit & Debit Cards

Most times, credit and debit cards are a reliable way of carrying and spending travel money. They are easy and convenient to carry. They can be safely used in most countries. However, most developing countries aren’t yet reliably hooked to the global card system. If traveling to those countries, cash will serve you right. For debit and credit cards, keep the following in mind:-

  • Store your cards safely
  • Inform your bank before you travel such that your card isn’t blocked for fraud when you use it abroad.
  • Study the foreign use fees charged by banks on your card. If the charges are too high, seek other alternatives.
  • Carry multiple cards in case others fail to work for any reason
  • Don’t let your cards out of sight, ever. Credit card fraud schemes have started when a cashier spent a lot longer time with your card.
  • Store emergency help line numbers for your cards handy in cases of theft or loss.
  • Put the larger purchases on your debit/credit card. This include airfare, hotel reservations, car rentals etc

5) The Local Currency Advantage

Use the local currency for your transactions. Most vendors will rip you off and add a huge markup price if you produce foreign currency. Their supposed exchange rates for their products is also awful. Using local currency, you can compare your purchases to that of the locals or even ask for their help with prices and understanding the currency. Regular, ordinary folks tend to be really helpful and genuine.

# The Bonus Tips

  • Local coins are worthless once you leave a country. Spend them on small purchases, change them for bills or give them away.
  • Exchange all your money back to dollars when you leave. See Tip #1
  • The traveler’s check is fast becoming obsolete in favor of ATM’s. Leave yours at home.
  • If all else fails. Have someone back home wire you the money through Western Union etc.

Conclusion

Carrying travel money abroad can be a hassle. There is always the risk losing the cash. As pointed out though, there are various safe ways to carry and spend your money. Research the various alternatives and chose the best for the destination you are traveling to. Money may be the oil that greases your travel adventures, but you shouldn’t have to worry about it. Instead, your focus should be on enjoying yourself.

How do you keep your money safe while traveling? Let’s us know in the comments below.

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The Art of Landing Cheap Airline Tickets

The airline business is brutal. Airlines have to deal with seemingly ever rising fuel prices, rise in material costs, shifts in Geo-politics and increased personnel costs. Add to that the fierce competition among airlines and you can see why airfares seem as volatile as the stock markets.

Why is that relevant you ask? Because the costs get passed onto your the traveler. An airline has to consider all those factors into the price of your ticket.

Let’s face it, airfare forms the lion’s share of all your travel related expenses. The good news is, you can still get cheap airline tickets even when the airline cards are stacked against you. It will just take you some time and a bit of flexibility. It’s as simple as that. So let’s explore some of the ways you can land some cheap airline tickets.

Sign Up For An Airline Miles Credit Card

Frequent flier miles program allow you to accumulate points for each mile you fly. Additionally, you can earn miles for purchases charged to the card or earn points from partner programs. You can then use your miles to get upgrades on a flight or a cheap airline ticket to your destination depending on availability. You can even redeem your points for free hotel stays and meals.

How do you accumulate miles faster?

  • Shop at your program’s member stores. Most airline miles programs have partnerships with major retailers to allow you score miles for each purchase.
  • Charge everything to the airline miles card. Whether groceries or mortgage payments, simply charge it to the card. These are expenses you would have incurred anyway, you might as well earn some points while you are it.
  • Sign up for airline mailing lists and watch for deals, offers and bonuses. Sometimes airline offer super cheap deals on flights or easy ways to earn miles that you can take advantage off. Sign up to receive the alerts.

Fly Budget Carriers and Secondary Airports

Airports charge airlines landing fees among other charges. The bigger and busier the airport, the more they charge. Smaller airports on the other hand charge lower landing fees and the savings are passed on to you, the consumer. You can get a cheap airline flight by flying a budget carrier to a cheaper secondary airport.

Budget carriers are “no frills” airlines. Don’t expect the normal perks offered by the major airlines. To make up for that they charge lower fares. You get to travel more for less, albeit not so much comfortably :)

Additionally, ensure the secondary airport isn’t too far out from your ultimate destination. In some instances, the savings on airfare might be swallowed up by cab fares.

Be Flexible On Routes

You can land cheap airline flights by flying indirectly to your route.

How does that work? You take a flight to another city or hub near your destination and from there either take a train or opt for a budget local carrier for the remainder of your journey. International long distance flights are expensive. Domestic flights tend to be cheaper. So you break down your journey and enjoy the local travel benefits.

There are drawbacks to this method. It takes more time to get to your destination. It also takes time to put together you cheap airline flight itinerary. You have to research and compare various flights and ensure you are getting the best deal for the slight inconveniences.

Be Versatile On Travel Dates

Data collected over time by airline data outfits point to some cheap days to fly. For example, airfare tends to be more expensive in August when more Europeans travel and when North Americans wrap up their summer vacations. You can get a cheap airline flight immediately after a major holiday or smack in the middle of the week. Hello Wednesday :)

Did you know that you can land a cheap airline ticket if you travel early in the morning or deep into the night? It turns out that people love convenience and those awkwardly timed flights attract less takers making them prime for you, the budget traveler.

Conclusion

Getting onto a cheap airline ticket is an art. It requires flexibility on when, where and how you are willing to travel. Research and planning are essential in getting the best deals and stringing a smart itinerary. It calls for patience and comfort sacrifices at times. But it is possible. At the end of the day, you end up being the guy or gal who paid the lowest for that ticket. But more importantly, you get to travel more for less.

Here are some more ideas on how you can reduce your travel related expenses:-

How To Rock Travel On A Really Tight Budget

5 Ways To Save Money On Vacation

10 Tips to Save Money While Traveling

Be smart, fly cheap!

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Travel Blogger Interview – Two Bad Tourists

Two Bad TouristsDavid and Auston are Two Bad Tourists who like to travel “their way” and not the way you’re “supposed to.” They believe travel is more achievable and possible to do without spending a lot of money. You can follow their blog on Twitter, Facebook, Google plus or You Tube.

First of all tell us who you are…

Two Bad Tourists is a travel blog created in 2012 by David and Auston, two American’s who left the US to travel around the world. A former lab scientist and engineer, we now teach English and work freelance in Spain.

Why the name Two Bad Tourists?

Our style of travel is not typical of the average tourist. We prefer to travel slower and experience more by visiting less. We’re not bad travelers, per se, but we don’t really appreciate the hyper-sightseeing approach when visiting new places.

What motivated you to start to start your blog?

Our original motivation for our blog was to create a journal of our one year round-the-world trip so we could share our experience with close family and friends. We never had the intention to make our blog public or become (*cough, cough) “professional travel bloggers.” Now we continue blogging to inform and inspire others to travel. We love visiting new places and sharing our experience with our readers. Likewise, we enjoy discovering our own new home in Spain, so we can provide local tips like where to find gay friendly accommodation in Madrid or guides to the best gay nightlife in Madrid.

When was your first trip? Where did you go?

Our round-the-world trip started in May 2012, though we started the blog in February to share our story of planning our trip, selling our belonging, quitting our jobs and leaving our then home town of Chicago. Our first destination on our trip was Mexico City where we spent 2 weeks studying Spanish in an intensive course.

Have you ever experienced any challenges to blogging as duo, such as who’s turn it is to write?

Yes! We always joke that David is more creative but Auston works harder. We occasionally have different opinions on what to write or how we should engage with our readers, but in the end we always work it out. Luckily, we each have strengths in different areas of the blog and we tend to prefer working on the area in which we are best skilled.

You have mentioned it is possible to travel without spending a lot, what trick do you use to limit costs when traveling?

We save the most money on traveling by using airline miles to book flights. Our original round-the-world trip was booked solely with airlines miles that Auston had saved for more than 4 years. Along with miles saved from business travel, we also took advantage of airlines promotions and mileage earning credit cards. We also appreciate traveling in a more local way so luxury hotels or frequent taxi rides are rarely things we really go for. We usually take public transportation and often stay in hostels, budget hotels or even use couch surfing to stay with locals for free.

How do you fund your travels?

Our original round-the-world trip lasted for one year and ended in February of 2013. This trip was funded by 3+ years of savings. We consequently spent our entire life savings and moved to Spain with one-way tickets, no money and no jobs. One year later we are still living in Madrid. David teaches English part time and Auston works freelance as an engineer and travel writer.

For the budget travelers out there, what would be your top tip for saving money when traveling?

If you’re American, airline mileage earning credit cards is by far the best way to save on travel. Some programs even let you redeem miles for hotels or rental cars. Although some banks offer credit card offers in other countries, they tend not to be as lucrative. For those living in other countries, the best money saving tip is to explore alternative approaches to travel like house swapping, house sitting, couch surfing or car sharing. These programs are often very inexpensive or even free. Some people are hesitant to try these programs out of fear or misunderstanding, but they are all friendly and have trust and review systems to ensure everyone’s safety.

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

Yes, we’ve used various different airlines cards over the past couple years. The cards we are currently using are the Lufthansa Miles & More Card from Barclays and the Starwood American Express. We love the Starwood card because we can use it for hotel stays or transfer the points to almost any airline.

Any major travel regrets?

We don’t have any major travel regrets but we certainly would have done things differently if we could go back. Firstly, on our round the world trip we would have visited less countries and stayed for longer in each place. We quickly learned that traveling to a new city every 5 days can become exhausting and is not sustainable for an entire year. While we did scale back some during our trip, many of the flights were pre-booked so we didn’t always have as much flexibility as we wanted.

Any Advice to young travelers?

Don’t wait to start traveling! A lot of people will try to convince you that you should focus only on school or a career and they’re the most important. While it’s true that an education and a good job are important, you must realize that traveling when you’re young is often easier to undertake because you have less commitments and you can enjoy your time more than when you’re older.

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