10 Life Changing Moments from 10 Years as a Nomad

Posted from http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/ten-years-backpacking/

Matt Kepnes in Patagonia
Today marks ten years I’ve been on the road. On July 26, 2006, I said goodbye to my dad, got in my car, and started my year-long journey around the world by heading off on a road trip across the United States. (That trip didn’t actually end until 18 months later.)

When I came home and sat back down in a cubicle again, I knew I was forever changed — office and corporate life was not for me.

My soul burned to be back on the road.

I was now a nomad. Travel was not done with me yet.

So I did what anyone with no money or responsibility would do — I went away again. I traveled to Europe, went back to Thailand, taught English, and started putting time and effort into this website.

The last ten years have been a long, winding road. It has been one happy accident after another: from the people I met who got me excited about traveling, to the Thai classes I took that led to living in Bangkok, to the cubicle that got me to start this website, to becoming a travel writer, writing a book, and starting a hostel.

It has been one exciting and unplanned adventure.

But ten years is a long time and, in the last year, I’ve begun to (finally) wind down my nomadic ways. After many false starts, I planted roots in Austin. I no longer plan multi-month trips on the road, and I’m now focusing on the next chapter of my life — part-time traveler, hostel owner, hiker, and early riser (but still international man of mystery).

As one chapter comes to a close and another opens, I want to share my favorite stories from the last ten years on the road:

1. Making friends on the road trip

With friends in Sedona, AZ while on a road trip
At the start of my first trip, I was very much a quiet introvert. I didn’t know how to meet people, and I spent a lot of time driving around the country and sightseeing by myself. Traveling wasn’t the social amazingness I thought it would be. I was mostly alone and often bored.

That is, until I entered a hostel in Tucson.

There I met a Brit (also named Matt) in my dorm. We realized we were both going to the Grand Canyon, and so we ended up hiking it together. Back at the hostel, we picked up another Brit named Jonathan, meet some cool people on trip to Sedona, and, in a hostel outside Albuquerque, an Austrian named Vera. Together we drove through New Mexico and Colorado before splitting up in Boulder.

I remember that road trip with great fondness — singing ’90s pop songs, sharing each other’s music collections, the night out where we convinced some college students I was Australian, the giant meals we cooked, and the explorations we had together.

It was this experience that finally helped me become comfortable saying hello to strangers and making friends.

2. Living on Ko Lipe

With my Ko Lipe crew that became like family
The month I spent living on the Thai island of Ko Lipe in 2006 is, out of all my travel memories, my favorite. If there’s a heaven for each of us, mine would look like Ko Lipe. While it’s a big tourist destination now, back then it was a sleepy little place with one nice resort, a few bungalows, and limited electricity. Though you could see the island was going to be the next Phi Phi (one massively overdeveloped place), in that moment, it was still paradise.

I went there to meet a friend. On the boat ride over, I bonded with Pat (an older Irish guy) and Paul and Jane (a British couple). I somehow managed to lose my flip-flops even before we got to the island and decided to go barefoot during my stay. “It will only be a couple of days,” I said.

Those couple of days turned into a month.

Pat, Paul, Jane, my friend Olivia, and I met a few other people who never seemed to leave the island too, and we formed a tight-knit group. During the day, we would lounge on the beach, play backgammon, snorkel, or head to one of the other islands in the national park. At night, we would dine on cheap seafood, drink beer, and make up beach games until the lights went out. We spent Christmas together, gave each other gifts, and bonded with the locals, who invited us into their homes and sparked my interest in learning the Thai language.

But, when my visa finally expired and I had to run to Malaysia to get a new one, I had to say goodbye. It was bittersweet, but all good things come to an end sometime. (I did end up running into all of them around Thailand in the months thereafter.)

This experience has remained with me forever and taught me that the best things on the road happen when you least expect them.

3. The Shit Story

A hostel dorm room
While in Barcelona in 2013, I stayed in a hostel where a very drunk roommate decided to take a shit in our dorm room, and in the process of cleaning it up, locked himself out. When I woke up to let him in, I realized what happened (thanks to the shit on my hand), freaked out, yelled, and washed my hands like I’ve never washed them before. Out of thousands of nights in a hostel, it was the grossest thing that has ever happened to me.

Afterwards, I vowed to only stay in dorm rooms if I absolutely had no choice — and definitely not in a hostel with a reputation for partying.

You can read the story here.

4. Living in Amsterdam

Beautiful bridge on the canal in Amsterdam
In 2006, I visited Amsterdam for the first time. I ended up staying close to three months while playing poker (fun fact: I funded some of my original trip with poker winnings). During my stay, I met some wonderful, hospitable people, but none stick out like Greg.

Greg and I always seemed to be at the casino at the same time, and he kept inviting me to join him for private poker games he ran. When you have a lot of someone else’s money in front of you, you tend to have a suspicious eye when they invite you out later. But the more I learned about him and how people talked to him, the more I realized he was just a good guy and that this was his way of welcoming me to town. Eventually I said yes, and his social group became my social group while I was there. We would eat, drink, and play poker. They taught me Dutch, introduced me to Dutch food, and showed me the sights of Amsterdam.

Sadly, Greg was killed in a robbery a few months after I left Amsterdam, but my experiences with him taught me to be more open and welcoming of strangers and that people aren’t always ill intentioned.

5. La Tomatina

La Tomatina tomato-throwing festival in Spain
Back in 2010, I went to La Tomatina (a tomato food-fight festival) in Spain. Entering my hostel dorm, I met two Aussies, two Americans, and a guy from Malaysia. We were going to be my roommates for the next week, as the hostel required everyone to stay four nights during the festival.

In that time, we six just hit it off. All of us quickly bonded and spent the next week having the time of our lives, pelting tomatoes at each other, drinking sangria, nursing hangovers with gelato, and being led around by Quincy, our Malay friend with impeccable Spanish.

Deciding the fun shouldn’t end, we kept traveling together to Barcelona. There, I remember one girl joining our crew and mentioning how it was so weird that such a geographically diverse group was so close. “How did you all meet each other?” “We just met last week!” we replied. “Really? I thought you guys had known each other for years!”

In the years since, though we don’t see each other often due to the geographic distance between us, we’ve stayed connected. When we do visit each other, it’s like we’re back in Spain and no time has passed at all.

When you click with people, you click with people. No matter where I go, I carry that time with me.

6. Learning to Scuba Dive in Fiji

Matt putting on his scuba gear
On a whim, I decided to fly to Fiji while I was in New Zealand. There, my friend pressured me into scuba diving. “You’ve always wanted to do it. It’s cheap to learn here. Stop being a wimp!”

He was right.

I had no excuse, so I signed up for a certification class. However, I was nervous. “What if I drown? Can you really breathe underwater?” During my first dive, I was hitting that oxygen tank like a stoner hits a bong! I went through the tank in under 30 minutes, when it should normally have lasted close to an hour.

And — though my dive partner kicked my regulator out of my mouth and I almost drowned — learning to scuba dive was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Seeing the ocean from below the surface was earth-shattering. I had never been surrounded by so much natural beauty and diversity. It was definitely one of those “wow!” moments in life.

After that experience, I decided I should be a little bit more adventurous. It’s led me to try rollercoasters more (I hate heights), helicopter rides (seriously, I hate heights), and canyon swings (fuck heights); attempt more adventure sports; and get outdoors more (nature is too wonderful not to).

(P.S. – Watch me scream like a baby in this video on my canyon swing.)

7. Safari in Africa

In the African desert
In 2012, I went on a safari through southern Africa, visiting South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia. I slept under the stars, saw the Milky Way in such detail I thought the sky had been photoshopped, and spied elephants, lions, and countless other animals I had only dreamed of before then. Africa was raw and unbridled, and it rekindled a love of nature that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Like scuba diving, it was just one of those “wow!” moments, when you realize how wonderful life and nature are. Being in Africa was an incredible adventure, and its beauty and the hospitality of its people have stuck with me ever since.

8. Living in Bangkok

Golden Palace in Thailand
In 2007, I moved to Bangkok for a month to learn Thai. I spent most of the first few weeks in my room, alone and playing Warcraft. I was staying in an area where more locals lived, as I wanted to get out of the touristy, backpacker area, but I also felt very disconnected from the city.

However, I had just decided to extend my travels and go to Europe the next year, so, low on funds, I needed more money! I decided to find a job, as I had heard teaching English paid a lot money. At the same time, a friend found out I was staying longer and introduced me to one of his friends in Bangkok, who introduced me to more friends. Suddenly, I found myself living in an apartment with a circle of friends, and having a girlfriend and a life. It wasn’t easy at first, but the longer I stayed, the more I got out of the house and the more of a resident of Bangkok I became.

It was this experience that taught me I could make it anywhere — that I was a capable, independent person who could start a life from scratch.

Because if I could start a life in a place like Bangkok, I could start a life anywhere.

9. Finding family in Ios

A great group of people in Ios, Greece
In 2009, I flew from Asia to Greece to meet a friend and explore the Greek islands. Upon landing in Ios, we found we had arrived too early in the tourist season and that the island was empty. There were only backpackers looking for work at the bars and restaurants. We got to know a small group of them quite well, and when my friend moved on, I decided to stay. I couldn’t leave my new family just yet.

Our days were spent on the beach, we hosted BBQs for dinner, and our nights were a blur. As my newfound family found jobs at the bars on the island, I wrote and blogged. It was so much fun that when I found out most were returning to Ios the following year, I did too.

Ios, to me, is that wild, carefree summer where you feel the world is your oyster and nothing can stop you and your friends from conquering it.

Though the years have passed, I still stay in touch with many of the people I met in 2009, running into them in NYC, Australia, Hong Kong, Scotland, and various other parts of the world.

10. Patagonia

Amazing Patagonia
This year’s trip to Patagonia was one of the defining moments in my travels because it taught me that I am not Superman and can’t juggle it all.

After trying to find a balance between work and travel, I finally cracked. I could not manage both well at once and started to get bad anxiety. It changed how I travel: no longer do I travel and work. If I try to do both at once, one will always suffer. So now, if I’m in a new place, I’m in the new place! The computer is away. I’m there to explore, not work.

It was a hard lesson to learn, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out over longer trips, but with my eye twitch gone and the panic attacks subsiding, I’m in a much better place.

***

I’ve created more memories than I can remember in the last ten years. I often find myself remembering something that has found its way back from the dark recesses of my mind and saying, “Oh yeah, that did happen. Damn. How did I forget something like that?”

It often feels like my mind is running out of room.

I count myself lucky to have been able to experience all I have in the last ten years. Not everyone gets a chance to travel, especially for as long as I have. I’m often amazed at the trajectory my life has taken by simply saying “I quit” one day.

Was it always fated to be this way? Did the universe conspire to make this happen?

Or was it simply chance that brought me to where I am? Was this in me the whole time, and I just had to realize my potential?

As the poem goes, “two roads diverged in the woods” — and it has made all the difference.

I don’t know what that other road was like and, frankly, I don’t care. I never wonder about it. I never think “what if?” The road I’m on is never one straight path upward, but this road I picked in that yellow wood was the best choice I’ve ever made.

The post 10 Life Changing Moments from 10 Years as a Nomad appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/ten-years-backpacking/

Matt Kepnes in Patagonia
Today marks ten years I’ve been on the road. On July 26, 2006, I said goodbye to my dad, got in my car, and started my year-long journey around the world by heading off on a road trip across the United States. (That trip didn’t actually end until 18 months later.)

When I came home and sat back down in a cubicle again, I knew I was forever changed — office and corporate life was not for me.

My soul burned to be back on the road.

I was now a nomad. Travel was not done with me yet.

So I did what anyone with no money or responsibility would do — I went away again. I traveled to Europe, went back to Thailand, taught English, and started putting time and effort into this website.

The last ten years have been a long, winding road. It has been one happy accident after another: from the people I met who got me excited about traveling, to the Thai classes I took that led to living in Bangkok, to the cubicle that got me to start this website, to becoming a travel writer, writing a book, and starting a hostel.

It has been one exciting and unplanned adventure.

But ten years is a long time and, in the last year, I’ve begun to (finally) wind down my nomadic ways. After many false starts, I planted roots in Austin. I no longer plan multi-month trips on the road, and I’m now focusing on the next chapter of my life — part-time traveler, hostel owner, hiker, and early riser (but still international man of mystery).

As one chapter comes to a close and another opens, I want to share my favorite stories from the last ten years on the road:

1. Making friends on the road trip

With friends in Sedona, AZ while on a road trip
At the start of my first trip, I was very much a quiet introvert. I didn’t know how to meet people, and I spent a lot of time driving around the country and sightseeing by myself. Traveling wasn’t the social amazingness I thought it would be. I was mostly alone and often bored.

That is, until I entered a hostel in Tucson.

There I met a Brit (also named Matt) in my dorm. We realized we were both going to the Grand Canyon, and so we ended up hiking it together. Back at the hostel, we picked up another Brit named Jonathan, meet some cool people on trip to Sedona, and, in a hostel outside Albuquerque, an Austrian named Vera. Together we drove through New Mexico and Colorado before splitting up in Boulder.

I remember that road trip with great fondness — singing ’90s pop songs, sharing each other’s music collections, the night out where we convinced some college students I was Australian, the giant meals we cooked, and the explorations we had together.

It was this experience that finally helped me become comfortable saying hello to strangers and making friends.

2. Living on Ko Lipe

With my Ko Lipe crew that became like family
The month I spent living on the Thai island of Ko Lipe in 2006 is, out of all my travel memories, my favorite. If there’s a heaven for each of us, mine would look like Ko Lipe. While it’s a big tourist destination now, back then it was a sleepy little place with one nice resort, a few bungalows, and limited electricity. Though you could see the island was going to be the next Phi Phi (one massively overdeveloped place), in that moment, it was still paradise.

I went there to meet a friend. On the boat ride over, I bonded with Pat (an older Irish guy) and Paul and Jane (a British couple). I somehow managed to lose my flip-flops even before we got to the island and decided to go barefoot during my stay. “It will only be a couple of days,” I said.

Those couple of days turned into a month.

Pat, Paul, Jane, my friend Olivia, and I met a few other people who never seemed to leave the island too, and we formed a tight-knit group. During the day, we would lounge on the beach, play backgammon, snorkel, or head to one of the other islands in the national park. At night, we would dine on cheap seafood, drink beer, and make up beach games until the lights went out. We spent Christmas together, gave each other gifts, and bonded with the locals, who invited us into their homes and sparked my interest in learning the Thai language.

But, when my visa finally expired and I had to run to Malaysia to get a new one, I had to say goodbye. It was bittersweet, but all good things come to an end sometime. (I did end up running into all of them around Thailand in the months thereafter.)

This experience has remained with me forever and taught me that the best things on the road happen when you least expect them.

3. The Shit Story

A hostel dorm room
While in Barcelona in 2013, I stayed in a hostel where a very drunk roommate decided to take a shit in our dorm room, and in the process of cleaning it up, locked himself out. When I woke up to let him in, I realized what happened (thanks to the shit on my hand), freaked out, yelled, and washed my hands like I’ve never washed them before. Out of thousands of nights in a hostel, it was the grossest thing that has ever happened to me.

Afterwards, I vowed to only stay in dorm rooms if I absolutely had no choice — and definitely not in a hostel with a reputation for partying.

You can read the story here.

4. Living in Amsterdam

Beautiful bridge on the canal in Amsterdam
In 2006, I visited Amsterdam for the first time. I ended up staying close to three months while playing poker (fun fact: I funded some of my original trip with poker winnings). During my stay, I met some wonderful, hospitable people, but none stick out like Greg.

Greg and I always seemed to be at the casino at the same time, and he kept inviting me to join him for private poker games he ran. When you have a lot of someone else’s money in front of you, you tend to have a suspicious eye when they invite you out later. But the more I learned about him and how people talked to him, the more I realized he was just a good guy and that this was his way of welcoming me to town. Eventually I said yes, and his social group became my social group while I was there. We would eat, drink, and play poker. They taught me Dutch, introduced me to Dutch food, and showed me the sights of Amsterdam.

Sadly, Greg was killed in a robbery a few months after I left Amsterdam, but my experiences with him taught me to be more open and welcoming of strangers and that people aren’t always ill intentioned.

5. La Tomatina

La Tomatina tomato-throwing festival in Spain
Back in 2010, I went to La Tomatina (a tomato food-fight festival) in Spain. Entering my hostel dorm, I met two Aussies, two Americans, and a guy from Malaysia. We were going to be my roommates for the next week, as the hostel required everyone to stay four nights during the festival.

In that time, we six just hit it off. All of us quickly bonded and spent the next week having the time of our lives, pelting tomatoes at each other, drinking sangria, nursing hangovers with gelato, and being led around by Quincy, our Malay friend with impeccable Spanish.

Deciding the fun shouldn’t end, we kept traveling together to Barcelona. There, I remember one girl joining our crew and mentioning how it was so weird that such a geographically diverse group was so close. “How did you all meet each other?” “We just met last week!” we replied. “Really? I thought you guys had known each other for years!”

In the years since, though we don’t see each other often due to the geographic distance between us, we’ve stayed connected. When we do visit each other, it’s like we’re back in Spain and no time has passed at all.

When you click with people, you click with people. No matter where I go, I carry that time with me.

6. Learning to Scuba Dive in Fiji

Matt putting on his scuba gear
On a whim, I decided to fly to Fiji while I was in New Zealand. There, my friend pressured me into scuba diving. “You’ve always wanted to do it. It’s cheap to learn here. Stop being a wimp!”

He was right.

I had no excuse, so I signed up for a certification class. However, I was nervous. “What if I drown? Can you really breathe underwater?” During my first dive, I was hitting that oxygen tank like a stoner hits a bong! I went through the tank in under 30 minutes, when it should normally have lasted close to an hour.

And — though my dive partner kicked my regulator out of my mouth and I almost drowned — learning to scuba dive was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Seeing the ocean from below the surface was earth-shattering. I had never been surrounded by so much natural beauty and diversity. It was definitely one of those “wow!” moments in life.

After that experience, I decided I should be a little bit more adventurous. It’s led me to try rollercoasters more (I hate heights), helicopter rides (seriously, I hate heights), and canyon swings (fuck heights); attempt more adventure sports; and get outdoors more (nature is too wonderful not to).

(P.S. – Watch me scream like a baby in this video on my canyon swing.)

7. Safari in Africa

In the African desert
In 2012, I went on a safari through southern Africa, visiting South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia. I slept under the stars, saw the Milky Way in such detail I thought the sky had been photoshopped, and spied elephants, lions, and countless other animals I had only dreamed of before then. Africa was raw and unbridled, and it rekindled a love of nature that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Like scuba diving, it was just one of those “wow!” moments, when you realize how wonderful life and nature are. Being in Africa was an incredible adventure, and its beauty and the hospitality of its people have stuck with me ever since.

8. Living in Bangkok

Golden Palace in Thailand
In 2007, I moved to Bangkok for a month to learn Thai. I spent most of the first few weeks in my room, alone and playing Warcraft. I was staying in an area where more locals lived, as I wanted to get out of the touristy, backpacker area, but I also felt very disconnected from the city.

However, I had just decided to extend my travels and go to Europe the next year, so, low on funds, I needed more money! I decided to find a job, as I had heard teaching English paid a lot money. At the same time, a friend found out I was staying longer and introduced me to one of his friends in Bangkok, who introduced me to more friends. Suddenly, I found myself living in an apartment with a circle of friends, and having a girlfriend and a life. It wasn’t easy at first, but the longer I stayed, the more I got out of the house and the more of a resident of Bangkok I became.

It was this experience that taught me I could make it anywhere — that I was a capable, independent person who could start a life from scratch.

Because if I could start a life in a place like Bangkok, I could start a life anywhere.

9. Finding family in Ios

A great group of people in Ios, Greece
In 2009, I flew from Asia to Greece to meet a friend and explore the Greek islands. Upon landing in Ios, we found we had arrived too early in the tourist season and that the island was empty. There were only backpackers looking for work at the bars and restaurants. We got to know a small group of them quite well, and when my friend moved on, I decided to stay. I couldn’t leave my new family just yet.

Our days were spent on the beach, we hosted BBQs for dinner, and our nights were a blur. As my newfound family found jobs at the bars on the island, I wrote and blogged. It was so much fun that when I found out most were returning to Ios the following year, I did too.

Ios, to me, is that wild, carefree summer where you feel the world is your oyster and nothing can stop you and your friends from conquering it.

Though the years have passed, I still stay in touch with many of the people I met in 2009, running into them in NYC, Australia, Hong Kong, Scotland, and various other parts of the world.

10. Patagonia

Amazing Patagonia
This year’s trip to Patagonia was one of the defining moments in my travels because it taught me that I am not Superman and can’t juggle it all.

After trying to find a balance between work and travel, I finally cracked. I could not manage both well at once and started to get bad anxiety. It changed how I travel: no longer do I travel and work. If I try to do both at once, one will always suffer. So now, if I’m in a new place, I’m in the new place! The computer is away. I’m there to explore, not work.

It was a hard lesson to learn, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out over longer trips, but with my eye twitch gone and the panic attacks subsiding, I’m in a much better place.

***

I’ve created more memories than I can remember in the last ten years. I often find myself remembering something that has found its way back from the dark recesses of my mind and saying, “Oh yeah, that did happen. Damn. How did I forget something like that?”

It often feels like my mind is running out of room.

I count myself lucky to have been able to experience all I have in the last ten years. Not everyone gets a chance to travel, especially for as long as I have. I’m often amazed at the trajectory my life has taken by simply saying “I quit” one day.

Was it always fated to be this way? Did the universe conspire to make this happen?

Or was it simply chance that brought me to where I am? Was this in me the whole time, and I just had to realize my potential?

As the poem goes, “two roads diverged in the woods” — and it has made all the difference.

I don’t know what that other road was like and, frankly, I don’t care. I never wonder about it. I never think “what if?” The road I’m on is never one straight path upward, but this road I picked in that yellow wood was the best choice I’ve ever made.

The post 10 Life Changing Moments from 10 Years as a Nomad appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Top 6 family travel destinations for October half-term

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2016/07/29/top-6-family-travel-destinations-for-october-half-term/

As the nights begin to draw in and the temperatures start to fall, it’s tempting to get away with your family for a change of scene. October half-term is the last chance in the school holidays calendar to make tracks before Christmas. You don’t always have to choose the most obvious destinations. These six family […]

Top 6 family travel destinations for October half-term is a post from A Luxury Travel Blog

The post Top 6 family travel destinations for October half-term appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2016/07/29/top-6-family-travel-destinations-for-october-half-term/

As the nights begin to draw in and the temperatures start to fall, it’s tempting to get away with your family for a change of scene. October half-term is the last chance in the school holidays calendar to make tracks before Christmas. You don’t always have to choose the most obvious destinations. These six family […]

Top 6 family travel destinations for October half-term is a post from A Luxury Travel Blog

The post Top 6 family travel destinations for October half-term appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

How this Family of 4 Traveled the World for $130 a Day

Posted from http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/backpacking-family-budget/

Cliff and his family in front of the Colosseum in Rome
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a blog post on family travel on this website so today, I’m excited to introduce to you Cliff from Live Family Travel. His San Francisco based family spent ten months traveling the world on a career break. They homeschooled and enrolled their kids in schools overseas, spent time with family, saw the world, and bonded as a family. And, they did so, on a budget this nomad is impressed with. Today, Cliff is going to share how his family did it – and advice for other families looking to do a big round the world adventure.

My dream of taking my family on a world tour began in Nicaragua in the summer of 2012 with my two daughters, who were three years old and six months old at the time. Most people thought my wife and I were crazy to go to Central America with two little girls. But, for three weeks, we relaxed at the beach in San Juan del Sur, rode horses through the countryside, and hung out in the bustling town of Granada.

It was an experience we vowed to repeat.

Over the next couple of years, we traveled together to various destinations, including Puerto Rico, Peru, Argentina, and Guatemala. We enjoyed these short trips but, the more we traveled, the more I wanted to go longer – I wanted a year-long trip around the world.

In 2015, that dream became a reality as we spent 10 months traveling in 10 countries.

But to make that happen we needed to be creative with how we saved and spent our money.

How We Saved Money and Budgeted for Our Trip

Family of four while on their travels in Spain
My family lives in one of the most expensive areas in the world: Silicon Valley outside San Francisco, California. Housing prices are extremely high and the overall cost of living is higher than most cities in the United States. I worked as a marketing manager in technology companies while my wife took care our two daughters.

After our trip in Nicaragua, we decided that we would make family travel a priority in our lives. From July 2012 to December 2014, we saved approximately $40,000 USD, which equates to $1,333 USD per month. Saving that much money on one salary in one of the most expensive areas in the world was not easy. It took some crafty saving skills, but here is what we did:

  • I worked freelance jobs. I earned extra money for work on short-term marketing projects, in addition to my full-time job. Now with the on-demand gig economy, there are many great options to earn extra money, including Uber, Lyft, and Wonolo.
  • We refinanced our mortgage. With a lower interest rate for our home mortgage, we saved over $500 USD per month.
  • I reduced my 401(k) and 529 contributions. Instead of putting all of my savings into my retirement account and my daughters’ education accounts, I decided to reallocate about $500 USD per month to our travel funds.
  • We reduced our spending. We cooked most meals, capping our food budget at $1,000 USD per month. We also stopped buying unnecessary electronics, clothing, and toys, limiting our discretionary spending to $500 USD per month.

By earning more, spending less, and reallocating a portion of my savings to travel, our travel budget gradually increased to a point where we felt comfortable enough to take time off to travel the world.

But in order for this trip to really make financial sense, we needed to do something about our house while we were away. We did this by renting our house with a family found through Craigslist. Thankfully, this area is in demand and after accounting for our mortgage, insurance, and taxes, we were making $500 USD per month profit from the renters, which helped pad our travel fund.

Additionally, we sold our SUV, which ended our $700 USD per month loan payment. We also sold all our furniture and about 80% of our electronics, clothes, shoes, and toys through Craigslist and some local Facebook groups. In total, we made about $5,000 USD from these sales.

With about $10,000 USD of extra money from rent payments and selling our stuff and the $40,000 USD in savings, we created a budget of $50,000 USD for our trip. We knew we had to make our money stretch as far as possible by being savvy with how we saved and spent on the trip.

For more information on how you can save money for your own trip, click here.

How Much We Spent

Cliff's family on vacation on the beach
Below is a list of some of the expenses of our trip per country visited. (Later I’ll go into more detail about how we accomplished this.) With this information, I hope you realize that extended family travel around the world can be affordable and realistic. All you need is a curiosity to explore the world, flexibility, and a bit of budgeting skills.

Honolulu, Hawaii 

  • Duration: 1 month
  • Accommodations: Free, stayed at my mother’s place
  • Transportation: $800 USD
  • Flights: $2,400 USD
  • Total: $6,000 USD

Phuket, Thailand

  • Duration: 3 months
  • Accommodations: $2,000 USD ($667 per month for one-bedroom apartment)
  • Transportation: $400 USD ($133 per month)
  • Schooling: $2,100 USD ($350 per month per kid)
  • Visa extensions: $200 USD total
  • Flight from Phuket to Hangzhou free with Star Alliance points
  • Total: $8,000 USD

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • Duration: 3 days
  • Accommodations: $150 USD
  • Flights: $435 USD
  • $750 USD total

Hangzhou, China

  • Duration: Approximately 2 months
  • Accommodations: Free, stayed at my wife’s parents’ place
  • Schooling: $400 USD total for 2 months ($100 per month per kid)
  • Total: $2,500 USD

Europe – Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands

  • Duration: 2.5 months
  • Accommodations: about $5,200 USD (average of $71/night) for 73 nights
  • Food: $3,500 USD (average of $47 per day)
  • Shopping and leisure activities: $1,500 USD (average of $20 per day)
  • Schooling: $800 USD for 4 weeks in Barcelona ($400 per month per kid)
  • Flights and transportation: $5,000 USD
  • Total: $16,000 USD

Hong Kong

  • Duration: 3 days
  • Accommodations: Free, stayed at friends’ place
  • Flights: Free stopover in Hong Kong on the way back to Hangzhou from Europe
  • Total: $300 USD

Hangzhou, China

  • Duration: Approximately 2 months
  • Accommodations: Free, stayed at my wife’s parents’ place
  • Total: $2,500 USD

Flights to Bay Area: $2,000 USD

Further Reading: Check out a breakdown how we spent our money in Europe.

Breakdown by Expense Type

  • Flights: $9,000 USD
  • Other Transportation: $2,000 USD
  • Accommodations: $7,500 USD
  • Schooling: $3,300 USD
  • Food, shopping, and leisure activities: $17,750 USD

GRAND TOTAL: $39,550

To get an idea of how much your dream destination costs, check out these free travel guides

How We Saved Money During Our Trip

Cliff's wife and two daughters in Thailand
In order for our travel budget to last 10 months, we had to be efficient with the way we spent our money. We did this in a number of ways:

  • We used our frequent flyer miles. In total, I used 250,000 miles for free airplane tickets on Star Alliance airlines on this trip: 100,000 of those miles came from signup bonuses for Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards for both my wife and myself. After $4,000 USD spent on each card, we were awarded the signup bonus of 50,000 points, which were converted 1:1 for Star Alliance miles. It’s our travel credit card of choice because there are no foreign transaction fees. Another 100,000 of those miles came from the accumulation of miles through flights flown by all four of us in the previous years. The remaining 50,000 miles came through spending on the cards over two years. A great site I use is The Points Guy and Matt has a great book on the subject too.
  • We purchased cheap flights. For flights that were paid in full, I used travel comparison sites like Google Flights and Kayak to find the best prices. In Asia and Europe, there were many budget airlines that made flying economical, so those flights didn’t take a huge chunk of our travel budget. For example, for all four of us, one-way flights from Venice to Barcelona were $420 USD on Vueling Airlines and round-trip flights from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur were $435 USD.
  • We stayed at our parents’ places. For about 45% of our time away from home, we stayed with my mother in Honolulu, Hawaii, and my wife’s folks in Hangzhou, China. Not only did we spend quality time with our extended families, but we also saved a ton of money on accommodations. While our situation is unique in that we have parents in different parts of the world, there are great options for free housing, including sites like Couchsurfing, Servas, Hospitality Club, and housesitting opportunities. It’s not as easy as what we had but it still works and is an option families can use!
  • We rented Airbnb apartments. Especially in Europe, where accommodations costs can be expensive, we stayed in furnished apartments ranging from a studio in Paris to a two-bedroom apartment in Barcelona for an average of $71 USD/night. Our accommodations costs were much cheaper than if we had stayed in hotels.
  • We did free activities. There are lots of free activities to do with kids while abroad, including going to beaches, parks, markets, shopping malls, churches, and outdoor festivals. Even for expensive cities like Rome and Barcelona, there were always free things to do. For example, from having read an article in National Geographic, we went to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona on one of its free Sundays, and we walked around the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona to watch the various street performers.
  • We cut our transportation costs. In Phuket, we rented a moped (for all four of us!) for $133 USD per month. In China, we took cheap taxis or rode the bus. In Europe, we rode the subways or the buses, which were not expensive (e.g., $1 USD per bus ride in Florence and Barcelona). By taking public transportation or walking whenever possible, we kept our daily transportation costs low.
  • We cooked most meals. With a kitchen at our parents’ places or our Airbnb apartments, we ate a majority of our meals at home, especially in Europe. When we ate at restaurants, we ate simply or at inexpensive lunch buffets (e.g., $10 USD for a Japanese lunch buffet in Florence). In Asia, eating at restaurants was fairly cheap, so we didn’t need to cook at home as much.

For more information on how to save money while you’re on the road, click here.

****Family travel can be stressful, with all the planning, movement, logistics, new time zones, new languages, different foods, and taking care of the kids. It’s never really a vacation with children, because the majority of your time and energy will be used to take care of them.

But family travel is also very rewarding. 

Cliff's family exploring one of many cities on their round-the-world trip

When you travel together, you collect memories and build the bonds of your family through the shared experiences of being in different countries, interacting with different people, speaking different languages, and eating different foods. By getting out of your comfort zones and traveling the world, you allow your family to learn and grow in ways that could never happen at home.

One of my warmest memories (and there are many) comes when we were living in Barcelona, Spain. We found a trilingual preschool (English, Spanish, and German) that allowed our daughters to enroll for the entire duration of our stay in Barcelona. They became immersed in the Spanish culture and language, made local friends, and went on many field trips. It was amazing watching them learn to interact with the locals, learn a culture, and grow as people. They developed a cultural understanding that just wouldn’t have been possible if we had stayed home. I know this is a positive experience that will live with them forever.

Whether for three weeks during a winter break, three months in the summer, or a full year, budget family travel is possible. Traveling through 10 countries in 10 months with my family was a great learning experience and a dream come true. Despite all the headaches, fevers, upset stomachs, hot days, lost items, frustrating situations, and everything else that we went through during our trip, it was all worth it and we grew closer together as a family.

And there’s no better feeling than that as a parent.

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father who is determined to live a better-than-normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design on his blog at Live Family Travel. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

The post How this Family of 4 Traveled the World for $130 a Day appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/backpacking-family-budget/

Cliff and his family in front of the Colosseum in Rome
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a blog post on family travel on this website so today, I’m excited to introduce to you Cliff from Live Family Travel. His San Francisco based family spent ten months traveling the world on a career break. They homeschooled and enrolled their kids in schools overseas, spent time with family, saw the world, and bonded as a family. And, they did so, on a budget this nomad is impressed with. Today, Cliff is going to share how his family did it – and advice for other families looking to do a big round the world adventure.

My dream of taking my family on a world tour began in Nicaragua in the summer of 2012 with my two daughters, who were three years old and six months old at the time. Most people thought my wife and I were crazy to go to Central America with two little girls. But, for three weeks, we relaxed at the beach in San Juan del Sur, rode horses through the countryside, and hung out in the bustling town of Granada.

It was an experience we vowed to repeat.

Over the next couple of years, we traveled together to various destinations, including Puerto Rico, Peru, Argentina, and Guatemala. We enjoyed these short trips but, the more we traveled, the more I wanted to go longer – I wanted a year-long trip around the world.

In 2015, that dream became a reality as we spent 10 months traveling in 10 countries.

But to make that happen we needed to be creative with how we saved and spent our money.

How We Saved Money and Budgeted for Our Trip

Family of four while on their travels in Spain
My family lives in one of the most expensive areas in the world: Silicon Valley outside San Francisco, California. Housing prices are extremely high and the overall cost of living is higher than most cities in the United States. I worked as a marketing manager in technology companies while my wife took care our two daughters.

After our trip in Nicaragua, we decided that we would make family travel a priority in our lives. From July 2012 to December 2014, we saved approximately $40,000 USD, which equates to $1,333 USD per month. Saving that much money on one salary in one of the most expensive areas in the world was not easy. It took some crafty saving skills, but here is what we did:

  • I worked freelance jobs. I earned extra money for work on short-term marketing projects, in addition to my full-time job. Now with the on-demand gig economy, there are many great options to earn extra money, including Uber, Lyft, and Wonolo.
  • We refinanced our mortgage. With a lower interest rate for our home mortgage, we saved over $500 USD per month.
  • I reduced my 401(k) and 529 contributions. Instead of putting all of my savings into my retirement account and my daughters’ education accounts, I decided to reallocate about $500 USD per month to our travel funds.
  • We reduced our spending. We cooked most meals, capping our food budget at $1,000 USD per month. We also stopped buying unnecessary electronics, clothing, and toys, limiting our discretionary spending to $500 USD per month.

By earning more, spending less, and reallocating a portion of my savings to travel, our travel budget gradually increased to a point where we felt comfortable enough to take time off to travel the world.

But in order for this trip to really make financial sense, we needed to do something about our house while we were away. We did this by renting our house with a family found through Craigslist. Thankfully, this area is in demand and after accounting for our mortgage, insurance, and taxes, we were making $500 USD per month profit from the renters, which helped pad our travel fund.

Additionally, we sold our SUV, which ended our $700 USD per month loan payment. We also sold all our furniture and about 80% of our electronics, clothes, shoes, and toys through Craigslist and some local Facebook groups. In total, we made about $5,000 USD from these sales.

With about $10,000 USD of extra money from rent payments and selling our stuff and the $40,000 USD in savings, we created a budget of $50,000 USD for our trip. We knew we had to make our money stretch as far as possible by being savvy with how we saved and spent on the trip.

For more information on how you can save money for your own trip, click here.

How Much We Spent

Cliff's family on vacation on the beach
Below is a list of some of the expenses of our trip per country visited. (Later I’ll go into more detail about how we accomplished this.) With this information, I hope you realize that extended family travel around the world can be affordable and realistic. All you need is a curiosity to explore the world, flexibility, and a bit of budgeting skills.

Honolulu, Hawaii 

  • Duration: 1 month
  • Accommodations: Free, stayed at my mother’s place
  • Transportation: $800 USD
  • Flights: $2,400 USD
  • Total: $6,000 USD

Phuket, Thailand

  • Duration: 3 months
  • Accommodations: $2,000 USD ($667 per month for one-bedroom apartment)
  • Transportation: $400 USD ($133 per month)
  • Schooling: $2,100 USD ($350 per month per kid)
  • Visa extensions: $200 USD total
  • Flight from Phuket to Hangzhou free with Star Alliance points
  • Total: $8,000 USD

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • Duration: 3 days
  • Accommodations: $150 USD
  • Flights: $435 USD
  • $750 USD total

Hangzhou, China

  • Duration: Approximately 2 months
  • Accommodations: Free, stayed at my wife’s parents’ place
  • Schooling: $400 USD total for 2 months ($100 per month per kid)
  • Total: $2,500 USD

Europe – Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands

  • Duration: 2.5 months
  • Accommodations: about $5,200 USD (average of $71/night) for 73 nights
  • Food: $3,500 USD (average of $47 per day)
  • Shopping and leisure activities: $1,500 USD (average of $20 per day)
  • Schooling: $800 USD for 4 weeks in Barcelona ($400 per month per kid)
  • Flights and transportation: $5,000 USD
  • Total: $16,000 USD

Hong Kong

  • Duration: 3 days
  • Accommodations: Free, stayed at friends’ place
  • Flights: Free stopover in Hong Kong on the way back to Hangzhou from Europe
  • Total: $300 USD

Hangzhou, China

  • Duration: Approximately 2 months
  • Accommodations: Free, stayed at my wife’s parents’ place
  • Total: $2,500 USD

Flights to Bay Area: $2,000 USD

Further Reading: Check out a breakdown how we spent our money in Europe.

Breakdown by Expense Type

  • Flights: $9,000 USD
  • Other Transportation: $2,000 USD
  • Accommodations: $7,500 USD
  • Schooling: $3,300 USD
  • Food, shopping, and leisure activities: $17,750 USD

GRAND TOTAL: $39,550

To get an idea of how much your dream destination costs, check out these free travel guides

How We Saved Money During Our Trip

Cliff's wife and two daughters in Thailand
In order for our travel budget to last 10 months, we had to be efficient with the way we spent our money. We did this in a number of ways:

  • We used our frequent flyer miles. In total, I used 250,000 miles for free airplane tickets on Star Alliance airlines on this trip: 100,000 of those miles came from signup bonuses for Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards for both my wife and myself. After $4,000 USD spent on each card, we were awarded the signup bonus of 50,000 points, which were converted 1:1 for Star Alliance miles. It’s our travel credit card of choice because there are no foreign transaction fees. Another 100,000 of those miles came from the accumulation of miles through flights flown by all four of us in the previous years. The remaining 50,000 miles came through spending on the cards over two years. A great site I use is The Points Guy and Matt has a great book on the subject too.
  • We purchased cheap flights. For flights that were paid in full, I used travel comparison sites like Google Flights and Kayak to find the best prices. In Asia and Europe, there were many budget airlines that made flying economical, so those flights didn’t take a huge chunk of our travel budget. For example, for all four of us, one-way flights from Venice to Barcelona were $420 USD on Vueling Airlines and round-trip flights from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur were $435 USD.
  • We stayed at our parents’ places. For about 45% of our time away from home, we stayed with my mother in Honolulu, Hawaii, and my wife’s folks in Hangzhou, China. Not only did we spend quality time with our extended families, but we also saved a ton of money on accommodations. While our situation is unique in that we have parents in different parts of the world, there are great options for free housing, including sites like Couchsurfing, Servas, Hospitality Club, and housesitting opportunities. It’s not as easy as what we had but it still works and is an option families can use!
  • We rented Airbnb apartments. Especially in Europe, where accommodations costs can be expensive, we stayed in furnished apartments ranging from a studio in Paris to a two-bedroom apartment in Barcelona for an average of $71 USD/night. Our accommodations costs were much cheaper than if we had stayed in hotels.
  • We did free activities. There are lots of free activities to do with kids while abroad, including going to beaches, parks, markets, shopping malls, churches, and outdoor festivals. Even for expensive cities like Rome and Barcelona, there were always free things to do. For example, from having read an article in National Geographic, we went to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona on one of its free Sundays, and we walked around the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona to watch the various street performers.
  • We cut our transportation costs. In Phuket, we rented a moped (for all four of us!) for $133 USD per month. In China, we took cheap taxis or rode the bus. In Europe, we rode the subways or the buses, which were not expensive (e.g., $1 USD per bus ride in Florence and Barcelona). By taking public transportation or walking whenever possible, we kept our daily transportation costs low.
  • We cooked most meals. With a kitchen at our parents’ places or our Airbnb apartments, we ate a majority of our meals at home, especially in Europe. When we ate at restaurants, we ate simply or at inexpensive lunch buffets (e.g., $10 USD for a Japanese lunch buffet in Florence). In Asia, eating at restaurants was fairly cheap, so we didn’t need to cook at home as much.

For more information on how to save money while you’re on the road, click here.

****Family travel can be stressful, with all the planning, movement, logistics, new time zones, new languages, different foods, and taking care of the kids. It’s never really a vacation with children, because the majority of your time and energy will be used to take care of them.

But family travel is also very rewarding. 

Cliff's family exploring one of many cities on their round-the-world trip

When you travel together, you collect memories and build the bonds of your family through the shared experiences of being in different countries, interacting with different people, speaking different languages, and eating different foods. By getting out of your comfort zones and traveling the world, you allow your family to learn and grow in ways that could never happen at home.

One of my warmest memories (and there are many) comes when we were living in Barcelona, Spain. We found a trilingual preschool (English, Spanish, and German) that allowed our daughters to enroll for the entire duration of our stay in Barcelona. They became immersed in the Spanish culture and language, made local friends, and went on many field trips. It was amazing watching them learn to interact with the locals, learn a culture, and grow as people. They developed a cultural understanding that just wouldn’t have been possible if we had stayed home. I know this is a positive experience that will live with them forever.

Whether for three weeks during a winter break, three months in the summer, or a full year, budget family travel is possible. Traveling through 10 countries in 10 months with my family was a great learning experience and a dream come true. Despite all the headaches, fevers, upset stomachs, hot days, lost items, frustrating situations, and everything else that we went through during our trip, it was all worth it and we grew closer together as a family.

And there’s no better feeling than that as a parent.

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father who is determined to live a better-than-normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design on his blog at Live Family Travel. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

The post How this Family of 4 Traveled the World for $130 a Day appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Photograph of the week: Stunning Cinque Terre

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2016/07/27/photograph-of-the-week-stunning-cinque-terre/

Cinque Terre consists of five small fishing villages that were built on a steep landscape right up to the cliffs on the coast. The villages terraces are now a very famous tourist attraction on the west coast of northern Italy. The villages are a part of the National Park Cinque Terre which is under the […]

Photograph of the week: Stunning Cinque Terre is a post from A Luxury Travel Blog

The post Photograph of the week: Stunning Cinque Terre appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2016/07/27/photograph-of-the-week-stunning-cinque-terre/

Cinque Terre consists of five small fishing villages that were built on a steep landscape right up to the cliffs on the coast. The villages terraces are now a very famous tourist attraction on the west coast of northern Italy. The villages are a part of the National Park Cinque Terre which is under the […]

Photograph of the week: Stunning Cinque Terre is a post from A Luxury Travel Blog

The post Photograph of the week: Stunning Cinque Terre appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.