Traveling to a new place can be scary. Especially if it's to a region of the world you have never visited. Coming to Puerto Rico is no different. Since Hurricane's Maria and Irma things have changed just a little bit, not much, but you need to be prepared for your visit! The following is a quick list of things you need to know before you visit Puerto Rico.
Budget travel has never been easier. The internet along with social media provides you with everything you need to learn or know to put together an amazing trip all on your own. The down side is, it takes time and a lot of it. Since I have been traveling I have learned so much about travel, planning, and resources that fit the way I want to see the world. Here are 5 ideas for the budget conscious traveler.
1. Flights: If you are flexible with your dates you will find cheaper more accommodating flights. I booked a direct flight from San Juan to Frankfurt last minute for $200 every other day was over $500. Try using the +/- 7 days filter to find less expensive offer.
2. Accommodations: There are an assortment of places to stay from hostels to hotels and airbnbs. There are places to stay for fee. I have been petsitting around Europe. I take care of peoples houses and pets while they are away, in return I get free accommodation. I must say some of the houses have been spectacular. There are also places like workaway, where you help around a farm, hostel, or with a family for free accommodations.
3. Public Transportation: Learning the public transport system will save you so much money. Think $2 one way instead of $20 for an Uber or Lyft.
4. Entertainment: There are so many ways to entertain yourself. From parks to museums you can get away with saving a ton of money. By using Groupon you can cut the price of eating out in half along with theater and tours. I paid $6 for a 4 hour walking tour in London.
5. Food: Book a place that offers breakfast and sneak an apple or a banana in your bag as a snack. Find a street vendor for lunch and splurge on a good dinner.
I love the word bougie, it just has a ring to it. We all can be a little bougie at times, you know, when you hangout with your girlfriends on a Sunday and you drink all the bottomless Prosecco. But then just 12 hours later you are shopping at Target because, you know.... budgets. I totally understand the balance of having a good time but also being financially responsible. This past year has been a learning experience and I want to give you all of my knowledge.
Travel Guide books are wonderful believe me, I have several. What seems to happen is, I buy it read a few pages, and usually forget to pack it when I go on my trip. So I just wasted about $20 and Goodwill gets another book. When I began traveling I wish I had someone there to guide me through the planning. I have decided that is what I want to do for you. I want to provide you will all the knowledge I have learned while traveling the world for over a year in a guide that is dedicated to what you are interested in.
Depending on how you travel and your budget we can make an itinerary that fits who you are as a traveler. Do you want to sail around the the boot of Italy, hike through the mountains of Nepal, or just be a tourist in London; we can plan the adventures. With a personalized itinerary the planning is left up to us and all you have to do is book your tickets, pack your bags, and go.
We are really excited to take this journey with you. This will be an adventure of a lifetime so let's get started!
“How the hell were you able to stay in Europe for so long, don’t you need a visa?”….this is one of the many questions I received about my 8 month stay in Europe in 2017. In all honesty, I was so confused about the visa laws that I contacted several people and read a ton of blogs because I didn’t want to be hauled off to some foreign prison never to be able to return home again. Well…they probably would have just put me on the next plane to the U.S instead of jail. First things first, as of now, American’s do NOT need Visa’s to travel throughout the EU, this may change.
So how did I do it? There are a few key terms that you need first: Schengen and Non-Schengen ( still have no clue how to say these words). The EU is made up of a lot of countries. Some of these countries are part of what is known as the Schengen agreement. Members of the EU can travel throughout these countries without trip interruption and if you are an American you don’t need to get a visa, but you can only stay in these countries for 90 days out of 180 days. There are countries that ARE part of the EU but are NOT part of the Schengen Zone known as the non- Schengen Zone. These countries have their own laws when it comes to stays.
Now, you can only stay in the Schengen zone for 90 days! After the 90 days you MUST leave the zone for up to 90 days. After 90 days you can return to any of the below countries and the 90 days starts over. There are EU countries that have their own visa rules. The below non-schengen countries have their own visa laws. For instance, Ireland is 90 days ,UK is 180 days, Croatia is 90 days along with Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania.
26 Schengen Zone Countries
Non-Schengen Zone Countries
Allow me to give you some examples to make it more clear. This is what I did for 2017: Italy (30 days), Croatia (30 days non-schengen), Germany (60 days), United Kingdom (90 days non-schengen). Once you leave a schengen zone and go to a non-schengen zone like I did (Croatia) the time ends but DOES NOT start over, it is just paused until you return to one of the schengen countries.
Another example…Iceland ( 10 days), Sweden (10 days), France (10 days), Ireland (30 days), United kingdom (14 days), Croatia (14 days), Italy (20 days).
Now with the above example you have stayed in a Schengen Zone for 50 days. You still have 40 days to travel through other schengen countries or just save those days and go to a non-schengen area.
If you want to bounce around Europe you know have the knowledge to do it without the risk of being deported. If you play it right you could stay Europe for a really long time!
- External battery charger : for some reason my phone battery doesn’t last as long as when I am home. It could be because of all the picture taking or GPS usage. An external charger can save you from stranded without a phone.
- Day pack/backpack: This seems like a no brainer but having a backpack that will hold your computer, water bottle, and other electronics is necessary. Carrying a purse can be back breaking and honestly, annoying.
- Water bottle: Essential. While traveling, finding accessible water can be difficult. If you already have a water bottle, fill it up where you are staying, and try to keep it filled throughout the day. Drinking from any fountain in Rome is amazing, they have the best water. Dehydration can happen quickly if you are not careful.
- Camping towel: Sometimes you may find yourself under a waterfall, fully clothed, in the middle of a jungle. Or in a hostel where they don’t provide towels. A small camping town is great to have on hand, just in case.
- Slippers: This is just a good idea all around. Your traveler may be going to a place where shoes are not allowed inside or they could be headed to Iceland in December. Either way a good pair of house slippers is nice to have to lounge around in. Make sure they are bendable.
- Homemade health kit: THIS! Ok wanna make something for your traveler? This is the best. What you will need: plastic bag or a see through zip pouch, band-aids, antiseptic, pain reliever, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, tweezers, nail clippers, hand sanitizer, condoms, antihistamine, pepto-bismol tablets.
- Socks: I don’t mean a pack of 12 socks from discount store. I mean a good pair of wool socks that will protect feet from the elements, blisters, and water. These socks will cost at least $15 not $10 for 12 pair.
- Hat: The type of hat depends on the type of hat your traveler likes. They will need something to protect their face and head from the sun. I, myself, love a ball cap and wear one from my local brewery where ever I go.
- Scarf: A lightweight scarf is great for those chilly nights or hot days. In many holy places scarves are needed to cover up a travelers shoulders, especially when it’s a hot summer day and they are dressed in a tank top.
- Packing cubes/plastic storage bags: Packing cubes are the when organizing personal items like make-up, healthcare products, pens, and under garments. Plastic storage bags where the air can be released to make the space smaller for your clothes is a storage life saver.
- Notebook and pen: A small notebook for keepsakes, ideas, or trip planning is great. Having a pen on hand helps when flying into another country and filling out those custom forms.
- Sunglasses: These don’t need to be expensive because your traveler will most likely leave them on a train, plane, or in a taxi. Having a pair is necessary, especially in Thailand and Cambodia.
What do you think about when someone says they are staying in a hostel? Do scary images come to mind about a sorted building in a dark, foggy city where no one speak English which is filled with 20 something backpackers making their way around Europe. Well, when I tell people I am staying in a hostel I can see it on their faces, confusion, which is most likely followed up by questions like, “ Why do you stay in a place like that?” or “Aren’t you to old to be doing that?”. This past year I have been petsitting around the world, but there have been times when I needed a place to say for a few days or wanted to see other parts of a country but didn’t want to break the bank.
There has been an evolution to the hostel experience; still budget accommodation, hostels offer up common spaces for strangers from around the world to gather, talk, and rest. Now with the internet and cable tv you can find free Wifi and in some cases computers are available for public use. It’s like your living room but shared with people from all walks of life. While staying in an independent hostel in Cornwall, England, the age range was 18-81 years. The guest were literally from all over the world, a virtual revolving door of culture. We chatted around a fire pit at night and I had the ultimate pleasure of introduced the grand old American tradition of making s’mores. Hostels aren’t just for 20 somethings anymore!
I am currently in a hostel in Washington, D.C; yesterday, upon my morning arrival I was greeted with a complimentary breakfast of pancakes, cereal, toast, tea, orange juice, and coffee. The kitchen is fully stocked with all utensils needed for cooking, two refrigerators, 3 dish washers and two sinks. You can go to the store up the street, bring back your groceries, and keep them safe in the kitchen, which will save you loads on food cost while traveling. While this hostel has a kitchen others may have a restaurant and bar for their guest. Depending on what you want to get out of your stay, there are so many options.
Traditionally, hostels have multiple rooms with a lot of bunk beds filling the space. This still holds true but now you have more options for your stay. There are mixed bunk rooms with male and female guest, but you can also get rooms that are just for females or males, there are also private rooms with ensuite bathrooms that compare to hotel rooms but at half the cost. Also some hostels even have family rooms, so cut the cost of family travel in half by staying in a hostel.
My absolute favorite thing about hostels is the location. Hostels in big cities are most likely located near the city center, public transport, and close to the tourist attraction. Instead of spending $150 or more for a hotel room or $50 on an Airbnb you can spend as little as $10 a night; this was the case for me when I had an early flight out of Shannon, Ireland. My hostel was near the airport, $10, shared with two lovely girls traveling through Ireland together, and the bathroom was in the room.
Hostels have evolved from dodgy budget accommodation to places that have a life all their own, they can enhance a persons travel experience by providing fellowship and a safe, comfortable place to lay your head and rest before discovering a new city.