My sister, Breanna, and I landed in San Juan del Sur after many people told us it’s a must see in Nicaragua. We had no idea what to expect, but we were excited. We got in after dark and tried to figure out where our airbnb was.

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After two hours of syphoning wifi in a tiki bar, without getting directions or help from our host, we gave up on the airbnb. I found a hostel for $10 a night per person next door to the tiki bar downtown, and we got a room for ourselves. The hostel was incredible – the rooms had two beds each, so we got our own private room for $20 a night. Definite score. The hostel was basic, but we loved that it was indoor/outdoor. The kitchen was outside and there was a little surfer mural painted on the wall. So rad!

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We were within walking distance to the beach, also. The walk to the beach was adorable and super scenic.

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We woke up the next morning and headed to the beach. The beach is covered with restaurants along the shore. We stopped by the cutest one to grab a cup of coffee and discuss our plans for the day.

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After absolutely no debate, we decided the best way to spend the day was on the beach.

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We walked along the beach for a bit before becoming complete sloths.

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At the other side of the beach, we found a condominium with an incredible private pool. We were extremely disappointed when we were unable to climb the fence and a security guard was called. We scurried off pretty quickly back to the other side.

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We lounged hard core on the beach the whole day, only taking breaks to have fruit smoothies and gallo pinto (Nicaraguan fried rice and beans). After a nice tropical (aka completely red) tan started to develop, we stopped back at our hostel to rinse off and cover up. We got ready quickly so as not to miss the sunset. I think it was worth the rush.

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One of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen. The clouds looked like puffy balls of cotton candy.

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Dios mio!

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After the sunset, we were completely wiped out (relaxing all day does that to you), and headed off to bed.

The next day we decided to tour the very small beach town. The shops downtown are mostly owned by Europeans, Canadians, or Americans, so it is very tourist friendly and very English speaking.

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We seriously pondered getting pedicures at this cute little pink spa, but figured walking on the beach was probably exfoliation enough.

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We went back to the beach restaurant for another cup of coffee, some deep conversation, and people watching. We ended up staying until the afternoon, racking up a bill of yet more fruit smoothies, a few pina coladas (for Bre), and a bazillion bottles of water.

We spent more time working on our sunburns; they were coming along rather nicely at this point. We got so good at extreme lounging, I could probably teach a course in it now.

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San Juan del Sur was an incredible place to visit and I am so happy we made it there. It is a great place to take some time to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate. It’s a bit touristy, but a wonderful spot to eat, drink, relax, and be merry. It seemed that most people stayed in San Juan del Sur for the nightlife, but took shuttle buses to nearby beaches for surfing during the day. There are some adorable coffee shops, clothing stores, bars, and restaurants – we even found a vegetarian/vegan restaurant! I loved San Juan del Sur even though I’m not a huge party-er (I was mostly in bed by 10PM), and I’m also not a huge surfer. San Juan del Sur has so much more to offer than what I expected. I would definitely recommend a stop to check it out!

 

 

 

 

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Why I’m Travelling The World Alone

A lot of my family and friends are surprised that I am travelling the world alone. They call me brave and say they would never be able to do that. Think I’m crazy? Read on to see why I actually prefer to travel the world alone.

1. You can do whatever you want to do. I am meeting up with my family at a few different parts of my trip, which means that I will have to do things that they want to do, maybe things that I am not super interested in. But compromise is part of travelling with another person. But you won’t be compromising when travelling alone! I will be doing what I want, whenever I want, however I want. I can stay where I want. I can go on the tours I want (and skip the ones I don’t). The hardest part of travelling with another person for me is forking over money to do things that I don’t have that much interest in. This is by far the number one reason I love to travel alone.

2. Personal growth… and all that stuff. Travelling alone to Thailand actually gave me so much more confidence in myself. I had some scary experiences, but I came out of it completely unharmed and a stronger person. Scary experience 1 = missing my flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. This was my last flight of the three flight series to my destination, so I know it could have been much worse. After I learned that I missed my flight (I somehow got the time mixed up), I had a mini breakdown in the Bangkok airport and then figured out what to do by asking a person who works there. I was sent up to the little office of the airway that I was flying on, got a free cup of coffee, and got put on the next flight for $30 USD. Not exactly my favorite way to spend money, but I was so relieved. They then sent me to a free WiFi room with little treats and more coffee. I’m a sucker for coffee. It actually worked out quite well as I got to spend a few hours relaxing in the WiFi room and grab some food before my flight.

Scary experience 2 involved getting lost. Alone, after dark, with no cell service. Luckily I know that Thailand is a very safe place to travel, so I wasn’t as scared as I was annoyed. I was meant to meet a friend for a lady boy cabaret show and dinner. I missed both of these and ended up eating at some random restaurant, alone. I connected to WiFi at the restaurant and got back to my guesthouse by way of the main roads. Tip for Thailand – never try to get somewhere by going down the little roads. They are evil.

3. It’s cheaper. Guess what? Ever been on couchsurfing.com? You probably have heard of it considering I talk about it in nearly every post. Well, couchsurfing is primarily for solo travelers. If you are travelling as a couple, you will need to stay in a hostel or maybe try WWOOFing. Couchsurfing, however, is most likely the best thing known to mankind, as you literally stay in someone’s house, make a friend, and get a tour guide… for free. It sounds like a win-win-win situation to me, but most places only take one person at a time.

4. Meet new people. Travelling alone is a fantastic way to meet new people, as you are much more approachable when you’re alone. I’ve met some amazing people who were travelling through my hometown alone. I’ve actually made friendships with people who have come back here to see me. Make sure to get contact information! I made a friend in Portland staying at an Airbnb, missed out on getting contact info, and now I really wish I had.

Anything I missed? Let me know your tips and/or fears of travelling alone in the comments!

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How To Plan an Around the World Trip

Planning an around the world trip sounds slightly… intimidating. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a huge undertaking. It takes a lot of planning and preparation, especially if you are on a budget. You know it will be so worth it though – so here are my best tips for planning my around the world trip on a budget.

1. Pick your “must see” countries. My very very top countries to visit include Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, Italy, Greece, India, Indonesia, and Australia. I am trying to do this trip using the smallest possible amount of money though, so instead of buying a plane ticket from Greece to India, I am considering either land travel or skipping India. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Choose the most inexpensive forms of travel for a trip on a budget. Land travel is so much less expensive than flying in a plane. Choose land travel whenever possible to save the most money. To get from Costa Rica to Ecuador, I will be taking either a bus or train. Because there are some pretty awesome countries in between there, and I have time, I’ll most likely be spending a couple of weeks in Columbia before heading to Ecuador. I consider these little stopovers “bonus countries.” Plus, land travel can help you learn the country so much faster, and it’s a great way to meet locals.

3. Mix up expensive and inexpensive countries. Pay attention to conversion rates and plan accordingly. For example, let’s compare two of the places I am going – Costa Rica and Europe. The conversion rate between the US and Costa Rica is excellent – my dollar is much stronger in Costa Rica. It doesn’t work out quite so well in Europe though. To balance this out, I will be either couch surfing or WWOOFing in Europe, but staying in higher end places in Costa Rica. My mom and both sisters are meeting me in Costa Rica, so we are renting the coolest house in the world to stay at while they are there. This could turn out to be the most expensive accommodation that I pay for my entire trip, but to me it is well worth it, as we would not be able to afford a house like this in Europe (without spending an arm and a leg), and I will be staying with my family – it would be worth it to pay extra for privacy.

Back yard w/pool & BBQ Island

4. Plan the trip according to plane ticket prices. I originally wanted to go from Peru to Australia. But when I looked up pricing, I realized it’s about half the price to fly from Peru to Madrid than Peru to Sydney. This means that I am going from Peru to Madrid instead of to Sydney right away. Being flexible can save you tons of money when planning a trip. I’ll now be spending time in Australia toward the end of my trip, instead of the beginning.

5. Speaking of plane tickets, has anyone heard of the around the world ticket? There are some massive pros (and cons) to this ticket. The best part of this ticket is that you can plan it all out and not stress about plane tickets any more. I love knowing that things are finished and taken care of. You can change the dates with this lil gem also, so if you decide that you’d like to stay in Croatia for a bit longer, you can! It can also save you some money depending on your circumstance. However, you must use this ticket within one year, and you have to start and finish in the same place. I will not be purchasing this ticket, because I will be travelling for more than a year. If you decide not to use this ticket, check out my post on travel hacking for how to save major moolah on plane flights.

6. Plan time to plan your trip. I spend anywhere from 5-10 hours a week thinking about where I want to go, checking flights, checking couchsurfing.com, and dreaming. I have a very vague itinerary of things I want to see, but I am planning on buying a plane ticket and going exploring. Depending on your type of travel, you may want to spend more or less time on this portion.

What do you think of my tips? Have any of your own? Please let me know in the comments!

xo

Amanda

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How I Use Travel Hacking to Save Thousands

Since travel hacking is one of my biggest money saving tactics, I figured I could share it and help other people learn how to do it too! I am relatively new to travel hacking, but I have learned a lot in short period of time. Enough to save thousands of dollars on my around the world trip, anyway.

So what is travel hacking? Travel hacking is basically a way of saving tons of money on travelling by doing any or all of the following: utilizing rewards given by credit cards, using unconventional accommodations to save money, and basically just travelling for as inexpensively as possible. To see the ways that I have used travel hacking, read on, my friend:

1. Sign up for travel credit cards. I currently have Chase Sapphire and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards. By signing up for these cards that offer rewards (ex. Chase Sapphire Preferred offered me 40,000 miles if I spend $4000 in three months), I get significant discounts on flights. I accidentally stumbled into travel hacking a couple years ago after reading I Will Teach You To Be Rich, which is my favorite personal finance book of all time. Ramit taught me the benefits of using a credit card that gives you rewards. Why had I not done this sooner?! I wasted years of my life using my debit card for everything. By using a credit card instead of a debit card (and paying it off in full every month), you can rack up rewards and benefits. There is absolutely no difference to your life other than swiping a different card. I got a flight to Portland for free by doing this with my Chase Sapphire card. To see the best credit cards for travel hacking, check out this post.

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2. Couchsurfing. I am an avid couchsurfing creeper. I have yet to leave for my trip, so I haven’t tried it out yet, but I have definitely been searching for people to stay with. Couchsurfing is an amazing resource that connects travelers with people who live in the country that you are visiting. The hosts set up a profile on Couchsurfing and have reviews left of them by the travelers who stay with them. Although this did originally creep my mom out to the max, we have since realized that not only is it a totally legit thing, it’s a way to save thousands of dollars. Saving money = travelling for longer. Accommodations and airfare are usually the most expensive part of the trip. By cutting back on these two expenses, travelling becomes so much more possible.

3. WWOOFing. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. This is a program where you can set yourself up with a host and work on their farm in exchange for room and board. It is a world wide program that tons of people have used. The details of how much you work/what kind of accommodations you stay in/what you eat varies widely depending on each situation. You will find these things out by utilizing the website and researching the hosts. Because I’m vegan, I am searching for vegan or vegan-friendly farms (which there are a ton of). I am planning to WWOOF in Europe and Hawaii.

4. Cut expenses before you leave. To see the ways that I am saving $20K in six months, see this postI have not always been the most budget-conscious person, but if I can do it, you can too. I used to be a shopaholic (no joke – I would spend an entire day at the mall every weekend, even when I was making minimum wage!). So really, seriously believe me when I say that you can do this too.

These tips will save you so much money if you use them. Please comment down below your money saving tips and what you do to save money while travelling!

xo

Amanda

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