Short stay: Chestnut Cottage, Arbor Holiday and Knightcote Farm Cottages, Warwickshire

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/10/29/short-stay-chestnut-cottage-arbor-holiday-and-knightcote-farm-cottages-warwickshire/

Our latest stay was at Chestnut Cottage close to the wonderfully-named village of Bishops Itchington – a VisitEngland 5 Star Gold Award property located just a short distance from the M40 motorway in Warwickshire, and listed on the Premier Cottages website. Premier Cottages’ collection features almost 1,000 four and five-star self-catering cottages across the UK. […]

The post Short stay: Chestnut Cottage, Arbor Holiday and Knightcote Farm Cottages, Warwickshire appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/10/29/short-stay-chestnut-cottage-arbor-holiday-and-knightcote-farm-cottages-warwickshire/

Our latest stay was at Chestnut Cottage close to the wonderfully-named village of Bishops Itchington – a VisitEngland 5 Star Gold Award property located just a short distance from the M40 motorway in Warwickshire, and listed on the Premier Cottages website. Premier Cottages’ collection features almost 1,000 four and five-star self-catering cottages across the UK. […]

The post Short stay: Chestnut Cottage, Arbor Holiday and Knightcote Farm Cottages, Warwickshire appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Is Travel Hacking Really a Scam?

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/collect-points-and-miles/

Nomadic Matt in first class
Last month, I wrote an article on how to travel anywhere for $1,000. I wanted to show people how, by changing how you save and using a few budget techniques, you could make any trip happen for $1,000 (or less) from start to finish. While that is a lot of money to most people, it’s not an insurmountable amount of money to save with a few clever ninja techniques (it works out to only $2.74 per day).

In the article, I picked expensive destinations as examples because I didn’t want to be accused of copping out by picking cheap places. If I had, I imagined the Internet would rise up and say “Oh, sure, Matt! Anyone can travel to Thailand on a budget. That’s easy. What about (insert expensive destination)? This article is fake news!”

In picking expensive destinations, I used points and miles to help mitigate the costs of getting to each destination. Using points and miles for cheap and free flights and accommodation was a must. After all, it’s one thing to pay $700 for a flight if the destination only costs a few dollars a day. It’s another thing to pay that much when you’re going to Australia! You won’t get far with only $300 to spend in Australia!

But a different — and unexpected — backlash erupted. On the blog and social media, people kept commenting that points/miles are money, have a cost, aren’t easy to get, only work in the States, and that, basically, the whole article was BS. For example:

“Matt, like some people have mentioned before me in the comment section: not everyone has miles or bonus points. You know I’m a travel writer…and yet I have never joined a frequent flyer program. I don’t have miles or points to redeem, and likewise, there are also people who might not have saved up enough points to fly entirely free.

“Between cheaper destinations and relying on bonus points, you chose the latter for your article’s premise, and it feels a bit like saying: I could be telling you to go camping, but hey, that would be too easy, so let’s talk cruising — now, redeem 100,000 Airmiles for this two-week cruise and you’ve got $1,000 to play with on board!

“It doesn’t seem entirely fair.”

First, let me say you are all correct. From the outset, I should have factored in taxes and fees into the cost of the trips, and have since changed the expense chart to reflect that. It was silly of me to not include that from the outset. I apologize for the oversight.

But, second, I don’t think using points or miles is in anyway cheating or unfair. (I’d also like to say that while they were a big part of the article, many of the other tips helped lower costs just as much!)

To me, points and miles are free money. They have no cost to me. I don’t give up anything to get them. I think of them as the perk for being smart about my spending. Sure, I have to spend the points/miles in addition to money, and I know some of you view points and miles as having some value with an opportunity cost to them, etc.

But I don’t think of them that way.

They are just a thing I get when I spend money that I would have spent anyway.

Let me explain in more detail. A lot of people think points and miles are hard to get, that you have to do crazy stuff to get them, or you have to spend lots of money to get there:

“To collect miles requires spending money. To say one can travel anywhere for $1,000 and then condition that on free airfare is disingenuous. The advice is aimed at people who might find $1,000 a lot of money. Let’s assume you need 80,000 miles for an award and can find a sign-up offer for 40,000. That means you probably have to spend $40,000 to collect the other 40,000 miles. Then the advice to use hotel points for free rooms. Assume you want a seven-day vacation and rooms are just 15,000 a night. That’s another 105,000 hotel points, and another $105,000 spend. Even if your hotel card gets two-for-one points, that’s still $52,500 in spend. So for me to go on a vacation for $1,000 I need to charge $92,500. I’m surprised you missed telling us to just go for one day and avoid six more days of hotel, meal, and local transportation expenses.”

I hear you and I see the logic but I disagree. You can earn a lot of points and miles per year with much less spending than described because there are pretty easy ways to earn multiple points/miles per dollar spent.

I’m a terrible travel hacker compared to my friends. I don’t do some of the crazy things they do to earn points and miles because I don’t have a lot of time, so I like to make it easy on myself. I don’t buy extra things, overspend, resell furniture or gift cards, or give up my Saturdays to go buy stuff in bulk and then sell it online for a profit.

I simply go about my life and spend wisely. I have chart for which cards I use for which expenses, so I always get the most miles per dollar spent. Here it is:

How I Optimize My Spending with My Travel Credit Cards
credit card chart for travel hacking
(Note: I also have all the co-branded airline cards but I rarely ever use those.)

Through all this, I earn a million or more miles per year. If it was really only 1 point/mile per dollar spent, then I would have to spend one million a year but that’s not the case. When I need to buy something, I do it online for bonus points through airline shopping portals (I recently got 6x American Airlines miles for my Macy’s shopping on top of my credit card points). Need something on Amazon? I buy a gift card from Office Depot for 5x points and then go through JetBlue for 3x more points. Buying a new computer? I’m off to get a new card to hit the minimum spending for the bonus. Got a few minutes? I answer some surveys for points.

I’m always earning multiple points per dollar spent. It’s rarely one to one. (Note: You can click here to see a more detailed breakdown of where I earn my million points/miles.)

I don’t view collecting points/miles as a cost because I don’t spend extra money to earn them. To me, something has a cost when I give up money to get it.

Sure, there are taxes and fees are included in the ticket that vary wildly among airlines (I’m looking at you, BA and Virgin), but it’s still cheaper than the price of a full ticket. And hotels don’t charge these fees, so the cost of them using points is literally zero. Also, some credit cards allow you to wipe charges off of them, making those expenses literally zero too.

If you want to travel more, points and miles have to be something you do (providing you live in a place where they are an option). Even if it takes you are year to accumulate them, they help you unlock your dreams by drastically reducing the cost of everything.

When I ask most people why they don’t travel hack, they just shrug their shoulders and go, “I don’t know. Seems hard, I guess.” I think people believe because travel hacking seems complicated, therefore it must be so. Actually, it is not.

In addition, travel hacking seems to run counter to everything we have learned about finance. We’re taught to think of money and credit in one way:

“Credit cards a bad. The companies are bad. Never pay a fee. Your score is sacred and doing things like this hurt it, and you’ll never get a loan.”

But that is just bullshit. It’s a myth perpetuated by….well, I don’t know who exactly, but people keep believing it.

You earn points and miles for everyday purchases you would have bought anyways and the perks outweigh the credit card fees. For example, with my $450 per year Chase card, I get:

  • $300 in airline credit
  • 3x points on travel and restaurants (so I can earn points faster)
  • Global Entry ($100 every five years)
  • Purchase protection so I can get refunded if things I buy are lost, damaged, or stolen
  • A priority pass for lounge access (about $100 a year)
  • Trip insurance

My $49-a-year IHG card gives me a free night at a category 1-5 property (around $200 a night) and my American Airlines card comes with free checked bags, saving me hundreds of dollars a year!

Additionally, my credit score has only gone up because of this as now I have more credit and less debt as well as a good payment history. (And, as my friend Gary says, “What good is a credit score if you don’t use it?”)

If you pay your bills off each month and are reasonable with your money, not collecting points and miles is saying no to free money. It’s saying, “I don’t want to be rewarded for my good spending habits.”

Free is the best word in travel.

When you don’t travel hack, the only person you are hurting is yourself. You aren’t hurting the banks or the airlines. They are in on the game.

In my view, travel hacking is something to be embraced. It reduces the cost of travel. You can do this in a lot of countries around the world! Even if takes you a year to earn a free flight, why not take the flight? One free flight is better than no free flights.

Anything that saves money and reduces the cost of travel is something every traveler should do.

Saying no to travel hacking is saying yes to spending more money on travel — and why would you ever want to do that?


P.S. – If you want to learn more and figure out how to collect points and miles, click here to download the book I wrote on travel hacking. It will tell you how program work, what cards to get, give you step-by-step instructions, tips, tricks, and secret ways to collect miles.

The post Is Travel Hacking Really a Scam? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/collect-points-and-miles/

Nomadic Matt in first class
Last month, I wrote an article on how to travel anywhere for $1,000. I wanted to show people how, by changing how you save and using a few budget techniques, you could make any trip happen for $1,000 (or less) from start to finish. While that is a lot of money to most people, it’s not an insurmountable amount of money to save with a few clever ninja techniques (it works out to only $2.74 per day).

In the article, I picked expensive destinations as examples because I didn’t want to be accused of copping out by picking cheap places. If I had, I imagined the Internet would rise up and say “Oh, sure, Matt! Anyone can travel to Thailand on a budget. That’s easy. What about (insert expensive destination)? This article is fake news!”

In picking expensive destinations, I used points and miles to help mitigate the costs of getting to each destination. Using points and miles for cheap and free flights and accommodation was a must. After all, it’s one thing to pay $700 for a flight if the destination only costs a few dollars a day. It’s another thing to pay that much when you’re going to Australia! You won’t get far with only $300 to spend in Australia!

But a different — and unexpected — backlash erupted. On the blog and social media, people kept commenting that points/miles are money, have a cost, aren’t easy to get, only work in the States, and that, basically, the whole article was BS. For example:

“Matt, like some people have mentioned before me in the comment section: not everyone has miles or bonus points. You know I’m a travel writer…and yet I have never joined a frequent flyer program. I don’t have miles or points to redeem, and likewise, there are also people who might not have saved up enough points to fly entirely free.

“Between cheaper destinations and relying on bonus points, you chose the latter for your article’s premise, and it feels a bit like saying: I could be telling you to go camping, but hey, that would be too easy, so let’s talk cruising — now, redeem 100,000 Airmiles for this two-week cruise and you’ve got $1,000 to play with on board!

“It doesn’t seem entirely fair.”

First, let me say you are all correct. From the outset, I should have factored in taxes and fees into the cost of the trips, and have since changed the expense chart to reflect that. It was silly of me to not include that from the outset. I apologize for the oversight.

But, second, I don’t think using points or miles is in anyway cheating or unfair. (I’d also like to say that while they were a big part of the article, many of the other tips helped lower costs just as much!)

To me, points and miles are free money. They have no cost to me. I don’t give up anything to get them. I think of them as the perk for being smart about my spending. Sure, I have to spend the points/miles in addition to money, and I know some of you view points and miles as having some value with an opportunity cost to them, etc.

But I don’t think of them that way.

They are just a thing I get when I spend money that I would have spent anyway.

Let me explain in more detail. A lot of people think points and miles are hard to get, that you have to do crazy stuff to get them, or you have to spend lots of money to get there:

“To collect miles requires spending money. To say one can travel anywhere for $1,000 and then condition that on free airfare is disingenuous. The advice is aimed at people who might find $1,000 a lot of money. Let’s assume you need 80,000 miles for an award and can find a sign-up offer for 40,000. That means you probably have to spend $40,000 to collect the other 40,000 miles. Then the advice to use hotel points for free rooms. Assume you want a seven-day vacation and rooms are just 15,000 a night. That’s another 105,000 hotel points, and another $105,000 spend. Even if your hotel card gets two-for-one points, that’s still $52,500 in spend. So for me to go on a vacation for $1,000 I need to charge $92,500. I’m surprised you missed telling us to just go for one day and avoid six more days of hotel, meal, and local transportation expenses.”

I hear you and I see the logic but I disagree. You can earn a lot of points and miles per year with much less spending than described because there are pretty easy ways to earn multiple points/miles per dollar spent.

I’m a terrible travel hacker compared to my friends. I don’t do some of the crazy things they do to earn points and miles because I don’t have a lot of time, so I like to make it easy on myself. I don’t buy extra things, overspend, resell furniture or gift cards, or give up my Saturdays to go buy stuff in bulk and then sell it online for a profit.

I simply go about my life and spend wisely. I have chart for which cards I use for which expenses, so I always get the most miles per dollar spent. Here it is:

How I Optimize My Spending with My Travel Credit Cards
credit card chart for travel hacking
(Note: I also have all the co-branded airline cards but I rarely ever use those.)

Through all this, I earn a million or more miles per year. If it was really only 1 point/mile per dollar spent, then I would have to spend one million a year but that’s not the case. When I need to buy something, I do it online for bonus points through airline shopping portals (I recently got 6x American Airlines miles for my Macy’s shopping on top of my credit card points). Need something on Amazon? I buy a gift card from Office Depot for 5x points and then go through JetBlue for 3x more points. Buying a new computer? I’m off to get a new card to hit the minimum spending for the bonus. Got a few minutes? I answer some surveys for points.

I’m always earning multiple points per dollar spent. It’s rarely one to one. (Note: You can click here to see a more detailed breakdown of where I earn my million points/miles.)

I don’t view collecting points/miles as a cost because I don’t spend extra money to earn them. To me, something has a cost when I give up money to get it.

Sure, there are taxes and fees are included in the ticket that vary wildly among airlines (I’m looking at you, BA and Virgin), but it’s still cheaper than the price of a full ticket. And hotels don’t charge these fees, so the cost of them using points is literally zero. Also, some credit cards allow you to wipe charges off of them, making those expenses literally zero too.

If you want to travel more, points and miles have to be something you do (providing you live in a place where they are an option). Even if it takes you are year to accumulate them, they help you unlock your dreams by drastically reducing the cost of everything.

When I ask most people why they don’t travel hack, they just shrug their shoulders and go, “I don’t know. Seems hard, I guess.” I think people believe because travel hacking seems complicated, therefore it must be so. Actually, it is not.

In addition, travel hacking seems to run counter to everything we have learned about finance. We’re taught to think of money and credit in one way:

“Credit cards a bad. The companies are bad. Never pay a fee. Your score is sacred and doing things like this hurt it, and you’ll never get a loan.”

But that is just bullshit. It’s a myth perpetuated by….well, I don’t know who exactly, but people keep believing it.

You earn points and miles for everyday purchases you would have bought anyways and the perks outweigh the credit card fees. For example, with my $450 per year Chase card, I get:

  • $300 in airline credit
  • 3x points on travel and restaurants (so I can earn points faster)
  • Global Entry ($100 every five years)
  • Purchase protection so I can get refunded if things I buy are lost, damaged, or stolen
  • A priority pass for lounge access (about $100 a year)
  • Trip insurance

My $49-a-year IHG card gives me a free night at a category 1-5 property (around $200 a night) and my American Airlines card comes with free checked bags, saving me hundreds of dollars a year!

Additionally, my credit score has only gone up because of this as now I have more credit and less debt as well as a good payment history. (And, as my friend Gary says, “What good is a credit score if you don’t use it?”)

If you pay your bills off each month and are reasonable with your money, not collecting points and miles is saying no to free money. It’s saying, “I don’t want to be rewarded for my good spending habits.”

Free is the best word in travel.

When you don’t travel hack, the only person you are hurting is yourself. You aren’t hurting the banks or the airlines. They are in on the game.

In my view, travel hacking is something to be embraced. It reduces the cost of travel. You can do this in a lot of countries around the world! Even if takes you a year to earn a free flight, why not take the flight? One free flight is better than no free flights.

Anything that saves money and reduces the cost of travel is something every traveler should do.

Saying no to travel hacking is saying yes to spending more money on travel — and why would you ever want to do that?


P.S. – If you want to learn more and figure out how to collect points and miles, click here to download the book I wrote on travel hacking. It will tell you how program work, what cards to get, give you step-by-step instructions, tips, tricks, and secret ways to collect miles.

The post Is Travel Hacking Really a Scam? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Video of the week: Mexico

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/10/26/video-of-the-week-mexico/

Don’t make an effort to find an obvious narrative in this short film, because Oliver Astrologo simply captured whatever passed his eyes without any other consideration. He has not captured the typical places, but rather just lived and absorbed a unique blend of native and Spanish cultures: the blend that makes Mexico a country of […]

The post Video of the week: Mexico appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/10/26/video-of-the-week-mexico/

Don’t make an effort to find an obvious narrative in this short film, because Oliver Astrologo simply captured whatever passed his eyes without any other consideration. He has not captured the typical places, but rather just lived and absorbed a unique blend of native and Spanish cultures: the blend that makes Mexico a country of […]

The post Video of the week: Mexico appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

11 Incredible LGBT Travel Movies

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/best-lgbt-travel-movies/

An old cinema sign
Earlier this year, I added an LGBT column for the website to make the site more inclusive and talk about issues that affect some members of our community. We hear from LGBT voices about their experiences on the road, safety tips, events, and overall advice for other LGBT travelers! Returning this month is our column leader, Adam from Travels of Adam to share some of his favorite LGBT travel films!

Of the many things that motivate me to travel and explore the world, movies are definitely one of the strongest influences. Cinematography helps us experience different worlds, stories take us to new places.

And as the experience of coming out feels like a journey for so many LGBT people, it makes sense that there’d be many LGBT movies that cover the emotional journey of discovery alongside the physical adventure of travel.

From Oscar-winning classics like Brokeback Mountain to cult favorites like To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar to arthouse cinema by Almodóvar and John Waters, many films inspire us to travel.

This is my list of all-time favorite LGBT-themed movies that include traveling, and they come in all genres, from silly comedies to thoughtful dramas, from Hollywood masterpieces to indie productions.

Brokeback Mountain

A two main characters from Brokeback Mountain standing beside their truck
Brokeback Mountain is (rightfully) at the top of any LGBT movie list. This 2005 movie tells the story of two cowboys and their annual trip from Wyoming to Texas. The beautiful scenery of the mountains and the men’s camping trip is the perfect background for this painful drama, which depicts how many gay relationships, however they’re defined, frequently start as friendship, but how there’s also often a struggle with society and one’s personal boundaries. Despite the tragic outcome, the story reminds us that love triumphs over hate — and over physical distance.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

A scene from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
From the mountains we travel to the desert. Two of my favorite movies are inspired by sand and hot winds. The first one is a classic and has become a gay cult movie. Set in Australia’s Simpson Desert, 1994’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is actually the name of a bus used by two drag queens and a trans woman to cross Australia on their way to a casino in Alice Springs. Along the journey, the characters interact with rural populations, aboriginal Australians, and homophobic gangs. A young Guy Pearce and award-winning costume design make the film especially memorable. The film’s combination of humor and drama is essential to any road trip movie, because traveling gives you exactly that: laughs and tears.

C.R.A.Z.Y.

A scene from the film C.R.A.Z.Y.
The second desert movie on this list is a more recent (2005) Canadian production, and the desert depicted is that of the beautiful city of Essaouira, Morocco (though the setting of the movie is actually Jerusalem). C.R.A.Z.Y. is a story about acceptance and family life, but it includes an honest portrayal of traveling as a way of silencing the voices in our heads, only to return home completely empowered and strong. It follows Zac during his journey of coming out, which includes an escape to the Middle East before he reunites with his friends and family back home. Moreover, the soundtrack includes many iconic gay anthems, including Patsy Cline (“Crazy”), Giorgio Moroder (“Here to Eternity”), and David Bowie (“Space Oddity”).

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

Men dressed in drag sittin in a car
This 1995 film seems to be inspired by Priscilla, but the producers insist that production started before the Australian film was released. To Wong Foo follows the lives of three New York drag queens (Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo) on a road trip from NYC to Los Angeles for a drag competition. Naturally, their car breaks down and they end up stranded in small-town America, where they have several comedic and dramatic encounters with the local police and other stereotypical Southern characters. The movie shows both the welcoming and homophobic attitudes of the American South, but for me, the best part is the combination of black, Latino and “white” narratives during the road trip. By overcoming stereotypes and hate — mostly depicted in the figure of a police officer — the drag queens change the lives of many people and rediscover the value of friendship.

Transamerica

A mother and her son standing beside their truck
Another great story, Transamerica features an outstanding performance by Felicity Huffman as a trans woman, Bree, on a road trip. Her therapist insists that she must make amends with her estranged son, who doesn’t know of her transition, before signing off on her final surgery. Bree drives her son from NYC to Los Angeles under the pretense of being a Christian missionary helping him out of jail and breaking his bad habits. As they travel together and learn about one another, the movie explores the meaning of words like “father” and “mother,” “boy” and “girl,” all the while revealing the characters’ complicated and emotional journey. It’s a story about family life, tolerance, and self-respect.

Weekend

Two men sitting in bed
This 2011 British drama was director Andrew Haigh’s breakout film (before he went on to direct Looking and 45 Years). Two men who meet in a gay club looking for a casual hookup before one of them is to move away. They have a passionate weekend together, sharing intimate details and experiences: their coming out, past relationships, and thoughts on sexuality. It’s the story of that emotional, in-between moment before leaving something behind and starting anew: passionate, intense, and fleeting but unforgettable.

Y Tu Mamá También

Three friends smoking in a car
While some people are hesitant to consider it an LGBT movie, I believe Y Tu Mamá También is clearly about the stigma against bisexuality (or about the freedom to overcome any labels). While on a road trip around Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman head to the beach, only to discover the secrets of their own passions against the backdrop of Mexico’s political and social realities. The movie deftly combines comedy and drama, and it shows how traveling opens us up to new experiences by fighting societal and interal worries or doubts.

Seashore (Beira-Mar)

Two men talking in an empty field
This lovely film from Brazil tells the story of two young men on a road trip trying to recover legal documents from relatives, with a detour to the beach. The journey gives them the opportunity to reconnect while solving their own internal struggles. One of the boys is gay, and the story follows his internal dilemma of sharing that fact with his friend. Part of the magic of this movie is that it’s a sweet and positive depiction of gay youth. The pain of coming out is mostly absent, and the whole experience is presented as natural and easy, with very little tension. There’s a sweetness to the story, a youthfulness—and, importantly, also a realness. Not everyone has a bad experience coming out. And those stories are just as worth sharing as the others.

Todo Sobre Mi Madre

A woman standing in front of a large poster
It’s impossible to talk about LGBT movies and travel without making a reference to the work of Pedro Almodóvar. Many of his movies reflect gender, politics, and pain. Todo Sobre Mi Madre tells the story of a tragicomic drag queen and prostitute, Amparo, surrounded by a couple of lesbian theater actresses, a pregnant nun, and a mother (portrayed by Argentinian actress Cecilia Roth), all while searching for a trans woman who is the biological father of her son. The tragic story is set in two beautiful Spanish cities, Madrid and Barcelona, and through the protagonist, we learn that every trip has a different meaning at different points in our lives.

Happy Together

Two men dancing in a kitchen
As for Asian cinema, the must-see film is this 1997 classic by Wong Kar-Wai. A gay couple from Hong Kong travel to Argentina, with the objective of visiting the Iguazú waterfalls and resetting their relationship. Their physical trip abroad is a metaphor for their spiritual trip, and includes episodes of depression, emotional pain, and abuse. The story is tumultuous but reveals the power of resilience and shows us how traveling can affect both past and present relationships.

August

A bartender standing behind the bar
August is another gay-themed movie about separation and reunification. After living for many years in Spain, Troy travels back to Los Angeles and begins a journey that explores the boundaries of relationships and the ugly difference between reality and expectations. For me, travel here is a symbolic way to break old habits and learn more about ourselves and others. Returning from a long trip always has its complications, especially when old relationships show up again. But it’s our journeys abroad that add to our own personal stories, and things always change before, during, and after a big trip.

***

We often travel to different places in other to imagine how life would be for us there, to discover new cultures and social contexts and to explore unknown parts of our own being. Many LGBT-inspired films do exactly the same. Today, it’s easy to explore both the real or fictional worlds of gay lives in many films from different cultures, cities, and social contexts as more and more LGBT films make it to mainstream screens. But even if you don’t identify as LGBT, I encourage you to seek out these films that follow unique and personal stories, themes we can all relate to no matter our sexuality or gender.

Maybe the more LGBT movies you watch, the easier it is to interact with others who are different or have a background that’s hard to assess. The same goes for travel. The more international friends and acquaintances you have and the more diversity in your life, the easier to understand and empathize with other cultures.

Note: Some of these films aren’t 100% accurate in their depictions of LGBT people and may seem dated, but many of them have had a positive impact on LGBT culture and continue to be important.

Adam Groffman is a former graphic designer who left a publishing job in Boston to settling in Berlin, Germany. He’s a gay travel expert, writer, and blogger and publishes a series of LGBT-friendly Hipster City Guides from around the world on his gay travel blog, Travels of Adam. When he’s not out exploring the coolest bars and clubs, he’s usually enjoying the local arts and culture scene. Find more of his travel tips (and embarrassing stories) on Twitter @travelsofadam.

The post 11 Incredible LGBT Travel Movies appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/best-lgbt-travel-movies/

An old cinema sign
Earlier this year, I added an LGBT column for the website to make the site more inclusive and talk about issues that affect some members of our community. We hear from LGBT voices about their experiences on the road, safety tips, events, and overall advice for other LGBT travelers! Returning this month is our column leader, Adam from Travels of Adam to share some of his favorite LGBT travel films!

Of the many things that motivate me to travel and explore the world, movies are definitely one of the strongest influences. Cinematography helps us experience different worlds, stories take us to new places.

And as the experience of coming out feels like a journey for so many LGBT people, it makes sense that there’d be many LGBT movies that cover the emotional journey of discovery alongside the physical adventure of travel.

From Oscar-winning classics like Brokeback Mountain to cult favorites like To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar to arthouse cinema by Almodóvar and John Waters, many films inspire us to travel.

This is my list of all-time favorite LGBT-themed movies that include traveling, and they come in all genres, from silly comedies to thoughtful dramas, from Hollywood masterpieces to indie productions.

Brokeback Mountain

A two main characters from Brokeback Mountain standing beside their truck
Brokeback Mountain is (rightfully) at the top of any LGBT movie list. This 2005 movie tells the story of two cowboys and their annual trip from Wyoming to Texas. The beautiful scenery of the mountains and the men’s camping trip is the perfect background for this painful drama, which depicts how many gay relationships, however they’re defined, frequently start as friendship, but how there’s also often a struggle with society and one’s personal boundaries. Despite the tragic outcome, the story reminds us that love triumphs over hate — and over physical distance.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

A scene from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
From the mountains we travel to the desert. Two of my favorite movies are inspired by sand and hot winds. The first one is a classic and has become a gay cult movie. Set in Australia’s Simpson Desert, 1994’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is actually the name of a bus used by two drag queens and a trans woman to cross Australia on their way to a casino in Alice Springs. Along the journey, the characters interact with rural populations, aboriginal Australians, and homophobic gangs. A young Guy Pearce and award-winning costume design make the film especially memorable. The film’s combination of humor and drama is essential to any road trip movie, because traveling gives you exactly that: laughs and tears.

C.R.A.Z.Y.

A scene from the film C.R.A.Z.Y.
The second desert movie on this list is a more recent (2005) Canadian production, and the desert depicted is that of the beautiful city of Essaouira, Morocco (though the setting of the movie is actually Jerusalem). C.R.A.Z.Y. is a story about acceptance and family life, but it includes an honest portrayal of traveling as a way of silencing the voices in our heads, only to return home completely empowered and strong. It follows Zac during his journey of coming out, which includes an escape to the Middle East before he reunites with his friends and family back home. Moreover, the soundtrack includes many iconic gay anthems, including Patsy Cline (“Crazy”), Giorgio Moroder (“Here to Eternity”), and David Bowie (“Space Oddity”).

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

Men dressed in drag sittin in a car
This 1995 film seems to be inspired by Priscilla, but the producers insist that production started before the Australian film was released. To Wong Foo follows the lives of three New York drag queens (Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo) on a road trip from NYC to Los Angeles for a drag competition. Naturally, their car breaks down and they end up stranded in small-town America, where they have several comedic and dramatic encounters with the local police and other stereotypical Southern characters. The movie shows both the welcoming and homophobic attitudes of the American South, but for me, the best part is the combination of black, Latino and “white” narratives during the road trip. By overcoming stereotypes and hate — mostly depicted in the figure of a police officer — the drag queens change the lives of many people and rediscover the value of friendship.

Transamerica

A mother and her son standing beside their truck
Another great story, Transamerica features an outstanding performance by Felicity Huffman as a trans woman, Bree, on a road trip. Her therapist insists that she must make amends with her estranged son, who doesn’t know of her transition, before signing off on her final surgery. Bree drives her son from NYC to Los Angeles under the pretense of being a Christian missionary helping him out of jail and breaking his bad habits. As they travel together and learn about one another, the movie explores the meaning of words like “father” and “mother,” “boy” and “girl,” all the while revealing the characters’ complicated and emotional journey. It’s a story about family life, tolerance, and self-respect.

Weekend

Two men sitting in bed
This 2011 British drama was director Andrew Haigh’s breakout film (before he went on to direct Looking and 45 Years). Two men who meet in a gay club looking for a casual hookup before one of them is to move away. They have a passionate weekend together, sharing intimate details and experiences: their coming out, past relationships, and thoughts on sexuality. It’s the story of that emotional, in-between moment before leaving something behind and starting anew: passionate, intense, and fleeting but unforgettable.

Y Tu Mamá También

Three friends smoking in a car
While some people are hesitant to consider it an LGBT movie, I believe Y Tu Mamá También is clearly about the stigma against bisexuality (or about the freedom to overcome any labels). While on a road trip around Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman head to the beach, only to discover the secrets of their own passions against the backdrop of Mexico’s political and social realities. The movie deftly combines comedy and drama, and it shows how traveling opens us up to new experiences by fighting societal and interal worries or doubts.

Seashore (Beira-Mar)

Two men talking in an empty field
This lovely film from Brazil tells the story of two young men on a road trip trying to recover legal documents from relatives, with a detour to the beach. The journey gives them the opportunity to reconnect while solving their own internal struggles. One of the boys is gay, and the story follows his internal dilemma of sharing that fact with his friend. Part of the magic of this movie is that it’s a sweet and positive depiction of gay youth. The pain of coming out is mostly absent, and the whole experience is presented as natural and easy, with very little tension. There’s a sweetness to the story, a youthfulness—and, importantly, also a realness. Not everyone has a bad experience coming out. And those stories are just as worth sharing as the others.

Todo Sobre Mi Madre

A woman standing in front of a large poster
It’s impossible to talk about LGBT movies and travel without making a reference to the work of Pedro Almodóvar. Many of his movies reflect gender, politics, and pain. Todo Sobre Mi Madre tells the story of a tragicomic drag queen and prostitute, Amparo, surrounded by a couple of lesbian theater actresses, a pregnant nun, and a mother (portrayed by Argentinian actress Cecilia Roth), all while searching for a trans woman who is the biological father of her son. The tragic story is set in two beautiful Spanish cities, Madrid and Barcelona, and through the protagonist, we learn that every trip has a different meaning at different points in our lives.

Happy Together

Two men dancing in a kitchen
As for Asian cinema, the must-see film is this 1997 classic by Wong Kar-Wai. A gay couple from Hong Kong travel to Argentina, with the objective of visiting the Iguazú waterfalls and resetting their relationship. Their physical trip abroad is a metaphor for their spiritual trip, and includes episodes of depression, emotional pain, and abuse. The story is tumultuous but reveals the power of resilience and shows us how traveling can affect both past and present relationships.

August

A bartender standing behind the bar
August is another gay-themed movie about separation and reunification. After living for many years in Spain, Troy travels back to Los Angeles and begins a journey that explores the boundaries of relationships and the ugly difference between reality and expectations. For me, travel here is a symbolic way to break old habits and learn more about ourselves and others. Returning from a long trip always has its complications, especially when old relationships show up again. But it’s our journeys abroad that add to our own personal stories, and things always change before, during, and after a big trip.

***

We often travel to different places in other to imagine how life would be for us there, to discover new cultures and social contexts and to explore unknown parts of our own being. Many LGBT-inspired films do exactly the same. Today, it’s easy to explore both the real or fictional worlds of gay lives in many films from different cultures, cities, and social contexts as more and more LGBT films make it to mainstream screens. But even if you don’t identify as LGBT, I encourage you to seek out these films that follow unique and personal stories, themes we can all relate to no matter our sexuality or gender.

Maybe the more LGBT movies you watch, the easier it is to interact with others who are different or have a background that’s hard to assess. The same goes for travel. The more international friends and acquaintances you have and the more diversity in your life, the easier to understand and empathize with other cultures.

Note: Some of these films aren’t 100% accurate in their depictions of LGBT people and may seem dated, but many of them have had a positive impact on LGBT culture and continue to be important.

Adam Groffman is a former graphic designer who left a publishing job in Boston to settling in Berlin, Germany. He’s a gay travel expert, writer, and blogger and publishes a series of LGBT-friendly Hipster City Guides from around the world on his gay travel blog, Travels of Adam. When he’s not out exploring the coolest bars and clubs, he’s usually enjoying the local arts and culture scene. Find more of his travel tips (and embarrassing stories) on Twitter @travelsofadam.

The post 11 Incredible LGBT Travel Movies appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

13 Non-Travel Books That Changed My Life

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/thirteen-non-travel-books/

A spacious library full of books
I read many different kinds of books. It’s not all travel. Last month, I shared some of my recent favorite travel books. This month, I wanted to share the non-travel books that have had the most impact on my life and feel have made me a better person. These created paradigm shifts in my thinking. They just made me go “Ohh damn!” They got to interested in new ideas, literature, personal development, and so much more.

If you’re looking to improve your life, change a habit, expand your mind, or just want something interesting to read, here are twelve of the most influential books in my life:

7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey

book cover of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. CoveyOne of the most famous books in the world, this book taught me habits to create a better lifestyle including planning out your week, sleeping more, being proactive in life, the importance of creating win-win situations, and the importance of continuous improvement. It articulated the small things I forget to do to make me a more organized and thoughtful person. If you haven’t read it, you really must! This book will help you become less mindless in your actions and more thoughtful overall. Even if you pick up just one tip to better organize your life in this chaotic world, it will be worth it.
 

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

cover for The Power of Habit by Charles DuhiggWhy do we do what we do? Are we hard-wired to repeat habits, even when they are bad? How do we break them and form good ones? This bestselling book discusses how we form habits and gives specific strategies about how to break the bad ones and start good ones. It really made me think about the negative habits in my life, why I keep doing them, and how I can change that. I started thinking of all the excuses I tell myself that keep negative habits in my life. Because of this book, I started sleeping at a more regular time, reading again, drinking less, and being more productive. I can’t recommend it enough.
 

Titan, by Ron Chernow

image of the non-travel book called Titan by Ron ChernowThe biography of J.D. Rockefeller and his rise to power is long, dense, and worth every second. Rockefeller was a fascinating man – ruthless in business yet a devout Christian who founded some the biggest universities and health institutions the world has even seen. While I have no desire to be as ruthless as him, this biography was a good lesson in how frugality, slowness, and thoughtfulness can lead to success in life and business. J.D. never moved quickly, was financially conservative, and always reinvested in his company business. His methodical thinking made me rethink how I made business decisions.
 

Losing My Virginity, by Richard Branson

book called Losing My Virginity by Richard BransonRichard Branson’s autobiography was super interesting (this guy does a lot of insane things) and it inspired me to create my non-profit (FLYTE). I’d been thinking about it for years but reading how Branson just went for things he believed in and worked out the details later inspired me. It’s in stark contrast to Rockefeller, but Branson’s “why wait?” philosophy on starting projects makes a lot of sense. There’s never going to be a perfect time to start something so why wait? Just like there’s no perfect moment to travel, there’s no perfect moment to do something great. Just take the leap!
 

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

book image for How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale CarnegieDale Carnegie’s multi-decade old, but still relevant, book was instrumental in helping me shut my mouth. Ignoring the sensational title, this book ties heavily into what the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People says about listening to when people talk, not being a know it all, and empathizing with others as a way to connect and then influence them. As an introverted person (see Quiet below), this book helped me learn to talk to people better…not in a Machiavellian way but in a way that made me better at handling social situations.
 

Quiet, by Susan Cain

favorite book is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan CainI’m an introvert in an extroverted world. I would rather read books and sit by myself than be at a big party filled with strangers. I know that sounds weird since I travel all the time and meet people but when I’m with my friends, I get social anxiety about meeting strangers. This renowned book looks at why the world is so extroverted, how that affects us, and lessons for dealing with both introverts and extroverts. As I read through it, I saw myself in the author’s examples and her author’s lessons on balancing your inner and outer space helped me deal with my social anxiety.
 

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith

yellow cover for What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall GoldsmithWritten by a management consultant, this book is a guide for executives to become better managers. However, it’s much more than that. It’s a book on how to listen, behave, and think better. Its premise is that if you want to jump up to the next station in life, you’ll need a different set of skills – not educational skills – but interpersonal skills. Successful people interact well with others and this book talks about the small things, like looking at your phone during lunch or multitasking at a meeting, that send signals to people you’re not really there. This book got me to focus on my relationships more.
 

Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

book cover for Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian WansinkEvery day we consume food but how aware are we when it comes to what we eat? This book illuminates the insidious ways society creeps in larger portions and mindless eating habits on us that make us gain weight and develop bad skills. This isn’t a book that’s going to just tell you to eat healthier, it shows all the ways society and commercials indoctrinate us to subconsciously eat more food, from growing plate sizes to bulk shopping to “super sizing it.” This book changed how I think about food, consume food, and guard against the insidious nature of calorie creep! I’ve stopped my mindless eating and have been a lot healthier since.
 

The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene

image of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert GreeneWritten by legendary writer Robert Greene, this book features 48 rules for living a masterful, powerful life. It features historical examples that reinforce the rules and what happens to those who break them. Slightly Machiavellian, I’ve found these “laws” helpful in dealing with my business, strangers, and situations where it is good to have the upper hand (like when you want to argue a bill with Comcast). I find these tips to be more helpful in a workplace environment than in everyday life (mostly because I have no desire to “rule” people or manipulate my friends). It’s oddly very stoic in parts. This book made me think more strategically in my life.
 

Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser

cover for Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric SchlosserWhen I was in college, a friend handed me this book and, after reading it, I became a vegetarian. Actually, I tried going organic but, in 2002, organic was even more expensive than it is now. This book opened up my eyes to the crap we put in food, the horrible conditions animals live in, and how poorly we treat food workers. Organic, locally grown, and sustainable are all buzzwords these days, and while people are definitely more conscious of what they eat, I still feel like we are too far removed from the farm. Understanding where our food comes from is essential in changing how we eat and this book did just that…and still does thirteen years later. Making better food choices leads to a happy, healthier life.
 

The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken

book titled The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability by Paul HawkenWhen I was still working in a cubicle, I did a lot of volunteer work with the environmental organization, The Sierra Club. I wanted to meld my desire for success with my passion for the environment but I didn’t think the two were compatible until I read this seminal book on sustainable development. It opened my eyes to the possibility that you could create a business and be environmentally-friendly at the same. More that, it changed my consumer habits, helped me make more environmentally-friendly purchases, and showed me how I could be less wasteful. It was one of the most influential books I read in my 20s and was the reason I decided to do something that changed the world. I never went into sustainable development, but I like to think this website makes a positive impact in the world.
 

The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller

popular book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary KellerYou can’t walk into any bookstore these days without seeing this book prominently displayed. Short a book for a flight, I finally picked it up – and devoured it. It was excellent, and a really quick and easy read. I loved how he framed everything around asking yourself what is the one thing you can do to make your life better – daily, weekly, yearly. He hits so many negative aspects of our lives spot on – multi-tasking, the psychology of switching, to the power of planning and systems. This book reminded me of the things I knew to do but wasn’t and it was the wake up call I needed to finally do them.
 

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande

amazing book titled The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul GawandeWhile this book talks a lot about the systems hospitals and doctors used to reduce medical errors, there is a lot to be extrapolated. There’s power in checklists; they ensure nothing is missed and help you verify the work that has been done. He even quotes my old boss from when I was working in healthcare (who helped pioneer surgical team processes). Reading this book changed how I view procedures and how this website operates (my team actually has procedure documents for everything we do) but it also gave me the idea to create lists and structures in my own personal life.
 

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo

classic Les Miserables by Victor HugoI read this book when I was 14 years old. At the end of class, when we would get five minutes to chat to friends, I’d take out the unabridged version of this book and get lost in Hugo’s world. This book made me love reading. It turned me on to the power of the classics. From there it was on to Dumas, Dickens, Austen, and so many other 18th and 19th century writers. I’d blow through their tomes in school, captivated by their vivid imagery and detailed writing. And, in turn, these books improved my writing, vocabulary, and love of literature.
 

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul KalanithiAt the age of 36, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. In this beautifully written book, Kalanithi tells his story up until the end (his wife writes the post-script as he did not finish the book before his death). This powerful book (I dare you not to cry) ruminates on what makes life worth living in the face of death. What do you do when you know you don’t have much time left? We all die but I think most of us never really think about it. It’s just something that happens far into the future. This book will make you think profoundly about your life and what you prioritize.
 

A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest HemingwayErnest Hemingway is my favorite author of all time. Apparently, he was a huge jerk, but he wrote like few others and his writing always moves me. When I was in high school, I read this book and it made me want to be a writer. When I finished it, I said, “I want to write like that.” In fact, in tenth grade, I tried to write a novel that was very much like this book simply because I wanted to be like Hemingway and copying him was the best way I could think of to become a successful writer. I had visions of being a young writing prodigy (spoiler: I was not), however, I kept that loving of writing and a few years ago my dream of being author came to fruition. Somewhere a 16-year-old me is smiling. Even if you don’t want to be a writer, read this book. It’s one of the best books ever written.

***************So there you have it. These books made me reshape my life – often in drastic ways – and I’ve never once regretted reading them. They are thought-provoking and I encourage you to read them, if not to at least to see a different perspective on things.

Love to read? If you’re a book junkie like I am, join our monthly book club where I send you a list of the best books I’ve recently read. You’ll get a list of 3-5 suggested books sent once a month! It’s free to join! Just enter your name and email below to sign up:

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Find some of my other book recommendations here, here, here, or here! Or, you can sign up for my monthly book club here.

The post 13 Non-Travel Books That Changed My Life appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/thirteen-non-travel-books/

A spacious library full of books
I read many different kinds of books. It’s not all travel. Last month, I shared some of my recent favorite travel books. This month, I wanted to share the non-travel books that have had the most impact on my life and feel have made me a better person. These created paradigm shifts in my thinking. They just made me go “Ohh damn!” They got to interested in new ideas, literature, personal development, and so much more.

If you’re looking to improve your life, change a habit, expand your mind, or just want something interesting to read, here are twelve of the most influential books in my life:

7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey

book cover of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. CoveyOne of the most famous books in the world, this book taught me habits to create a better lifestyle including planning out your week, sleeping more, being proactive in life, the importance of creating win-win situations, and the importance of continuous improvement. It articulated the small things I forget to do to make me a more organized and thoughtful person. If you haven’t read it, you really must! This book will help you become less mindless in your actions and more thoughtful overall. Even if you pick up just one tip to better organize your life in this chaotic world, it will be worth it.
 

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

cover for The Power of Habit by Charles DuhiggWhy do we do what we do? Are we hard-wired to repeat habits, even when they are bad? How do we break them and form good ones? This bestselling book discusses how we form habits and gives specific strategies about how to break the bad ones and start good ones. It really made me think about the negative habits in my life, why I keep doing them, and how I can change that. I started thinking of all the excuses I tell myself that keep negative habits in my life. Because of this book, I started sleeping at a more regular time, reading again, drinking less, and being more productive. I can’t recommend it enough.
 

Titan, by Ron Chernow

image of the non-travel book called Titan by Ron ChernowThe biography of J.D. Rockefeller and his rise to power is long, dense, and worth every second. Rockefeller was a fascinating man – ruthless in business yet a devout Christian who founded some the biggest universities and health institutions the world has even seen. While I have no desire to be as ruthless as him, this biography was a good lesson in how frugality, slowness, and thoughtfulness can lead to success in life and business. J.D. never moved quickly, was financially conservative, and always reinvested in his company business. His methodical thinking made me rethink how I made business decisions.
 

Losing My Virginity, by Richard Branson

book called Losing My Virginity by Richard BransonRichard Branson’s autobiography was super interesting (this guy does a lot of insane things) and it inspired me to create my non-profit (FLYTE). I’d been thinking about it for years but reading how Branson just went for things he believed in and worked out the details later inspired me. It’s in stark contrast to Rockefeller, but Branson’s “why wait?” philosophy on starting projects makes a lot of sense. There’s never going to be a perfect time to start something so why wait? Just like there’s no perfect moment to travel, there’s no perfect moment to do something great. Just take the leap!
 

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

book image for How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale CarnegieDale Carnegie’s multi-decade old, but still relevant, book was instrumental in helping me shut my mouth. Ignoring the sensational title, this book ties heavily into what the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People says about listening to when people talk, not being a know it all, and empathizing with others as a way to connect and then influence them. As an introverted person (see Quiet below), this book helped me learn to talk to people better…not in a Machiavellian way but in a way that made me better at handling social situations.
 

Quiet, by Susan Cain

favorite book is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan CainI’m an introvert in an extroverted world. I would rather read books and sit by myself than be at a big party filled with strangers. I know that sounds weird since I travel all the time and meet people but when I’m with my friends, I get social anxiety about meeting strangers. This renowned book looks at why the world is so extroverted, how that affects us, and lessons for dealing with both introverts and extroverts. As I read through it, I saw myself in the author’s examples and her author’s lessons on balancing your inner and outer space helped me deal with my social anxiety.
 

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith

yellow cover for What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall GoldsmithWritten by a management consultant, this book is a guide for executives to become better managers. However, it’s much more than that. It’s a book on how to listen, behave, and think better. Its premise is that if you want to jump up to the next station in life, you’ll need a different set of skills – not educational skills – but interpersonal skills. Successful people interact well with others and this book talks about the small things, like looking at your phone during lunch or multitasking at a meeting, that send signals to people you’re not really there. This book got me to focus on my relationships more.
 

Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

book cover for Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian WansinkEvery day we consume food but how aware are we when it comes to what we eat? This book illuminates the insidious ways society creeps in larger portions and mindless eating habits on us that make us gain weight and develop bad skills. This isn’t a book that’s going to just tell you to eat healthier, it shows all the ways society and commercials indoctrinate us to subconsciously eat more food, from growing plate sizes to bulk shopping to “super sizing it.” This book changed how I think about food, consume food, and guard against the insidious nature of calorie creep! I’ve stopped my mindless eating and have been a lot healthier since.
 

The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene

image of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert GreeneWritten by legendary writer Robert Greene, this book features 48 rules for living a masterful, powerful life. It features historical examples that reinforce the rules and what happens to those who break them. Slightly Machiavellian, I’ve found these “laws” helpful in dealing with my business, strangers, and situations where it is good to have the upper hand (like when you want to argue a bill with Comcast). I find these tips to be more helpful in a workplace environment than in everyday life (mostly because I have no desire to “rule” people or manipulate my friends). It’s oddly very stoic in parts. This book made me think more strategically in my life.
 

Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser

cover for Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric SchlosserWhen I was in college, a friend handed me this book and, after reading it, I became a vegetarian. Actually, I tried going organic but, in 2002, organic was even more expensive than it is now. This book opened up my eyes to the crap we put in food, the horrible conditions animals live in, and how poorly we treat food workers. Organic, locally grown, and sustainable are all buzzwords these days, and while people are definitely more conscious of what they eat, I still feel like we are too far removed from the farm. Understanding where our food comes from is essential in changing how we eat and this book did just that…and still does thirteen years later. Making better food choices leads to a happy, healthier life.
 

The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken

book titled The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability by Paul HawkenWhen I was still working in a cubicle, I did a lot of volunteer work with the environmental organization, The Sierra Club. I wanted to meld my desire for success with my passion for the environment but I didn’t think the two were compatible until I read this seminal book on sustainable development. It opened my eyes to the possibility that you could create a business and be environmentally-friendly at the same. More that, it changed my consumer habits, helped me make more environmentally-friendly purchases, and showed me how I could be less wasteful. It was one of the most influential books I read in my 20s and was the reason I decided to do something that changed the world. I never went into sustainable development, but I like to think this website makes a positive impact in the world.
 

The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller

popular book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary KellerYou can’t walk into any bookstore these days without seeing this book prominently displayed. Short a book for a flight, I finally picked it up – and devoured it. It was excellent, and a really quick and easy read. I loved how he framed everything around asking yourself what is the one thing you can do to make your life better – daily, weekly, yearly. He hits so many negative aspects of our lives spot on – multi-tasking, the psychology of switching, to the power of planning and systems. This book reminded me of the things I knew to do but wasn’t and it was the wake up call I needed to finally do them.
 

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande

amazing book titled The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul GawandeWhile this book talks a lot about the systems hospitals and doctors used to reduce medical errors, there is a lot to be extrapolated. There’s power in checklists; they ensure nothing is missed and help you verify the work that has been done. He even quotes my old boss from when I was working in healthcare (who helped pioneer surgical team processes). Reading this book changed how I view procedures and how this website operates (my team actually has procedure documents for everything we do) but it also gave me the idea to create lists and structures in my own personal life.
 

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo

classic Les Miserables by Victor HugoI read this book when I was 14 years old. At the end of class, when we would get five minutes to chat to friends, I’d take out the unabridged version of this book and get lost in Hugo’s world. This book made me love reading. It turned me on to the power of the classics. From there it was on to Dumas, Dickens, Austen, and so many other 18th and 19th century writers. I’d blow through their tomes in school, captivated by their vivid imagery and detailed writing. And, in turn, these books improved my writing, vocabulary, and love of literature.
 

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul KalanithiAt the age of 36, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. In this beautifully written book, Kalanithi tells his story up until the end (his wife writes the post-script as he did not finish the book before his death). This powerful book (I dare you not to cry) ruminates on what makes life worth living in the face of death. What do you do when you know you don’t have much time left? We all die but I think most of us never really think about it. It’s just something that happens far into the future. This book will make you think profoundly about your life and what you prioritize.
 

A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest HemingwayErnest Hemingway is my favorite author of all time. Apparently, he was a huge jerk, but he wrote like few others and his writing always moves me. When I was in high school, I read this book and it made me want to be a writer. When I finished it, I said, “I want to write like that.” In fact, in tenth grade, I tried to write a novel that was very much like this book simply because I wanted to be like Hemingway and copying him was the best way I could think of to become a successful writer. I had visions of being a young writing prodigy (spoiler: I was not), however, I kept that loving of writing and a few years ago my dream of being author came to fruition. Somewhere a 16-year-old me is smiling. Even if you don’t want to be a writer, read this book. It’s one of the best books ever written.

***************So there you have it. These books made me reshape my life – often in drastic ways – and I’ve never once regretted reading them. They are thought-provoking and I encourage you to read them, if not to at least to see a different perspective on things.

Love to read? If you’re a book junkie like I am, join our monthly book club where I send you a list of the best books I’ve recently read. You’ll get a list of 3-5 suggested books sent once a month! It’s free to join! Just enter your name and email below to sign up:

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Find some of my other book recommendations here, here, here, or here! Or, you can sign up for my monthly book club here.

The post 13 Non-Travel Books That Changed My Life appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

6 excellent, independent restaurants in St Petersburg

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/10/17/6-excellent-independent-restaurants-in-st-petersburg/

Russia is experiencing a food revolution due to food sanctions that have been in place for the last three years. We have selected just six of our favourite independent restaurants in St Petersburg to showcase how creative and forward thinking the Russian food scene is today. EM Olesya Drobot is a rare find – a […]

The post 6 excellent, independent restaurants in St Petersburg appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/10/17/6-excellent-independent-restaurants-in-st-petersburg/

Russia is experiencing a food revolution due to food sanctions that have been in place for the last three years. We have selected just six of our favourite independent restaurants in St Petersburg to showcase how creative and forward thinking the Russian food scene is today. EM Olesya Drobot is a rare find – a […]

The post 6 excellent, independent restaurants in St Petersburg appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Embracing Change: Health Scares, Retirement, and Travel

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/nomadic-retirement/

retired travelers posing for a photo
We have such a large community and I love sharing everyone’s story. I think highlighting a variety of perspectives and experiences helps inspire so many of us! This month we’re featuring Donella and her husband. After her husband had a health scare a few years ago, they decided to stop waiting, finally sell their stuff, and head on the road. As more and more adults consider a “nomadic” retirement (especially here in the U.S. where it wasn’t always so common), I wanted to interview them and have them share their advice.

Nomadic Matt: Hi Donella! Thanks for doing this. Tell everyone about yourself!
Donella: We have been raising children and grandkids for the past 30 years in South Florida. Now at 58 years of age, and with my husband retiring at 65, we decided to sell our home and take off to see the world.

I was a divorced single mother of two when I first met my husband, who was working in the construction of the hospital where I was employed. He stalked me for five weeks before getting the courage to ask me out. When he did, he said, “If I like you, I am going to marry you!” That was his proposal, and a few months later we were married. He has been a marvelous provider, father, and grandfather these past 30 years.

Fifteen years into our marriage he suffered renal failure, and the doctors did not expect he had enough life left in him to get a transplant. They asked me to prepare for his funeral, which I did. It was a nine-year journey, until we got a call late one night in 2008 that they had a kidney available for him. Since that time you would never know by looking at him that he had ever been sick a day in his life. It was truly a miracle!

retired travelers

How did you get into travel?
For several years now, I have had the urge to travel, which has been a dream of mine before marriage and children. My husband was never keen on the idea until one afternoon last year he said, “Let’s do this!” The next day I began to sell, donate, and give away (almost) EVERYTHING so that the day we moved we wouldn’t need any trucks. I called a realtor, and our home sold within 24 hours for more than we were asking. We were able to drive away with everything we owned in our two vehicles. My husband was a bit shocked how quickly it all happened once he agreed to go!

Did you and your husband take a lot of trips before this big one?
Over the past 30 years we only went to visit family in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Delaware, though we also explored areas on the way, such as Savannah and Charleston. I visited Texas often to see my brother, Puerto Rico to see our son, and California to see our daughter. We are going to continue to visit family as we explore the country and travel abroad but take more time to see things that we have only read about. We have learned so much about the world in travel blogs, and we want to experience that.

a retired couple posing

Tell me about your current trip. After you sold your house, what happened? Where did you go?
As soon as our house was sold we found a beautiful beach bungalow in Juno, Florida, directly across from the beach. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine ourselves being able to live so close to the ocean. We saved just enough things to use to live here. We’ve basically done what we learned online from the nomadic community: living with less and enjoying our surroundings more. Our lease here is only until the end of the year; in the meantime we are getting our van prepared for full-time camping around the country next year.

This past March we took a long trip to Andalucia in Spain, which was the first time my husband had ever traveled to Europe. We went to enjoy but also to look into living there the next time we visit. We will do basically the same thing: find a small space so that we are able to take time to travel to other countries as well.

What inspired this current life change?
My daughter told me that my granddaughter was talking about traveling when she grew up. In an instant it brought back all the memories of my own plans at that same age. That rekindled the spark in me from my own childhood. Traveling was the way I grew up with my own parents, who were nomads in the ’50s and ’60s. I grew up in North Africa, Europe, Britain, and the United States all before the age of 10. My father continued traveling the United States until he passed away. My mother continues to travel the US and Europe while residing in Spain. It’s in my roots, and I long to visit new places and revisit other places that I have seen as a child. Sharing this with my husband seems like a dream come true.

retired couple traveling

Did people say you were crazy when you said you were setting off to travel the world?
We were surprised at how many people have been so excited to watch us start this journey. There are also people who look at us with that deer-in-the-headlights look, because they can’t imagine living life without their homes and their stuff. I get that, and don’t really believe this is for everyone, but it is definitely for us.

Has your husband’s health been an issue at all? What precautions do you have to take?
My husband is in good health now but he still needs blood work routinely and anti-rejection medicine. We decided to find a different doctor, who would be more accessible in case of emergency. She will be able to order blood work wherever we are and get the results. We will continue to return here to South Florida once a year for his follow-up. When traveling to Europe, we got travel insurance, and the cost was reasonable.

a retired couple traveling the world

Is it easy to see a doctor overseas? How do you handle medication? Have you ever had to get a prescription filled on the road?
Our doctor here in the States made sure my husband had all the medications needed for our trip. We contacted a doctor in Spain who said they would be able to write prescriptions if needed. Between the two doctors we felt my husband was in good hands, along with the travel insurance we purchased for our trip there. We haven’t had to fill any prescriptions while traveling, but our doctor says it would not be a problem.

What are your future travel plans?
Once my husband’s work commitments are complete, we plan to leave here and live on the road. In the meantime, this fall we are planning a road trip through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Next spring we are planning a trip up the East Coast from Florida to Nova Scotia. Then we will travel across the northern states until we reach Chicago and take Route 66 west.

We plan to return to Spain, once we finish up the trips through the United States. We hope to have our kids and grandkids join us for a visit, too. Europe is cheap enough to find a small flat to reside in and use their public transportation to see other countries.

retired couple living abroad

How do you keep to a budget?
We have a budget in which we divide all our costs into home, auto, entertainment, food, gifts, medical, miscellaneous, personal, and travel. I keep envelopes with receipts for each item and calculate what we are spending in each area by month. We decide where we need to make adjustments and keep within our budget. It helps to determine if we have a realistic budget or not. Everyone’s priorities are different, but it is good to be able to see where your money is going routinely. It is the best way to determine how much we are able to spend in for our next travel adventure.

Young people are traveling like this and have wonderful advice on how to make it work, as we have read on your blog. Being retired, we have a pension for financial support, but we’ve found ideas for all types of work from young bloggers if more funding is needed.

We spend a lot of time reading and researching on the internet for great advice from people who are already living this lifestyle. We now plan smarter and more cost efficiently because of the knowledge that we have received and feel confident that we are going to be able to do more than we ever dreamed possible!

What advice do you have for travelers your age?
Some of the best advice we have received have been from all the young bloggers online such as yourself, Matt. We learned to plan our trips for dates that are less money. Our first trip to Europe cost us less than one of our family trips here in the States!

Another important travel lesson has been not to get our information from news media but instead to rely on the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. They don’t sensationalize what is going on in each country but give you the information you need in order to make good decisions.

Become the Next Success Story

One of my favorite parts about this job is hearing people’s travel stories. They inspire me, but more importantly, they also inspire you. I travel a certain way but there are many ways to fund your trips and travel the world. I hope these stories show you that there is more than one way to travel and that it is within your grasp to reach your travel goals. Here are more examples of people who made their travel dreams a reality:

P.S. Looking to step up your travel photography? We are hosting a Q&A with professional photographer Laurence Norah on October 29th, so mark your calendars!

The post Embracing Change: Health Scares, Retirement, and Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/nomadic-retirement/

retired travelers posing for a photo
We have such a large community and I love sharing everyone’s story. I think highlighting a variety of perspectives and experiences helps inspire so many of us! This month we’re featuring Donella and her husband. After her husband had a health scare a few years ago, they decided to stop waiting, finally sell their stuff, and head on the road. As more and more adults consider a “nomadic” retirement (especially here in the U.S. where it wasn’t always so common), I wanted to interview them and have them share their advice.

Nomadic Matt: Hi Donella! Thanks for doing this. Tell everyone about yourself!
Donella: We have been raising children and grandkids for the past 30 years in South Florida. Now at 58 years of age, and with my husband retiring at 65, we decided to sell our home and take off to see the world.

I was a divorced single mother of two when I first met my husband, who was working in the construction of the hospital where I was employed. He stalked me for five weeks before getting the courage to ask me out. When he did, he said, “If I like you, I am going to marry you!” That was his proposal, and a few months later we were married. He has been a marvelous provider, father, and grandfather these past 30 years.

Fifteen years into our marriage he suffered renal failure, and the doctors did not expect he had enough life left in him to get a transplant. They asked me to prepare for his funeral, which I did. It was a nine-year journey, until we got a call late one night in 2008 that they had a kidney available for him. Since that time you would never know by looking at him that he had ever been sick a day in his life. It was truly a miracle!

retired travelers

How did you get into travel?
For several years now, I have had the urge to travel, which has been a dream of mine before marriage and children. My husband was never keen on the idea until one afternoon last year he said, “Let’s do this!” The next day I began to sell, donate, and give away (almost) EVERYTHING so that the day we moved we wouldn’t need any trucks. I called a realtor, and our home sold within 24 hours for more than we were asking. We were able to drive away with everything we owned in our two vehicles. My husband was a bit shocked how quickly it all happened once he agreed to go!

Did you and your husband take a lot of trips before this big one?
Over the past 30 years we only went to visit family in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Delaware, though we also explored areas on the way, such as Savannah and Charleston. I visited Texas often to see my brother, Puerto Rico to see our son, and California to see our daughter. We are going to continue to visit family as we explore the country and travel abroad but take more time to see things that we have only read about. We have learned so much about the world in travel blogs, and we want to experience that.

a retired couple posing

Tell me about your current trip. After you sold your house, what happened? Where did you go?
As soon as our house was sold we found a beautiful beach bungalow in Juno, Florida, directly across from the beach. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine ourselves being able to live so close to the ocean. We saved just enough things to use to live here. We’ve basically done what we learned online from the nomadic community: living with less and enjoying our surroundings more. Our lease here is only until the end of the year; in the meantime we are getting our van prepared for full-time camping around the country next year.

This past March we took a long trip to Andalucia in Spain, which was the first time my husband had ever traveled to Europe. We went to enjoy but also to look into living there the next time we visit. We will do basically the same thing: find a small space so that we are able to take time to travel to other countries as well.

What inspired this current life change?
My daughter told me that my granddaughter was talking about traveling when she grew up. In an instant it brought back all the memories of my own plans at that same age. That rekindled the spark in me from my own childhood. Traveling was the way I grew up with my own parents, who were nomads in the ’50s and ’60s. I grew up in North Africa, Europe, Britain, and the United States all before the age of 10. My father continued traveling the United States until he passed away. My mother continues to travel the US and Europe while residing in Spain. It’s in my roots, and I long to visit new places and revisit other places that I have seen as a child. Sharing this with my husband seems like a dream come true.

retired couple traveling

Did people say you were crazy when you said you were setting off to travel the world?
We were surprised at how many people have been so excited to watch us start this journey. There are also people who look at us with that deer-in-the-headlights look, because they can’t imagine living life without their homes and their stuff. I get that, and don’t really believe this is for everyone, but it is definitely for us.

Has your husband’s health been an issue at all? What precautions do you have to take?
My husband is in good health now but he still needs blood work routinely and anti-rejection medicine. We decided to find a different doctor, who would be more accessible in case of emergency. She will be able to order blood work wherever we are and get the results. We will continue to return here to South Florida once a year for his follow-up. When traveling to Europe, we got travel insurance, and the cost was reasonable.

a retired couple traveling the world

Is it easy to see a doctor overseas? How do you handle medication? Have you ever had to get a prescription filled on the road?
Our doctor here in the States made sure my husband had all the medications needed for our trip. We contacted a doctor in Spain who said they would be able to write prescriptions if needed. Between the two doctors we felt my husband was in good hands, along with the travel insurance we purchased for our trip there. We haven’t had to fill any prescriptions while traveling, but our doctor says it would not be a problem.

What are your future travel plans?
Once my husband’s work commitments are complete, we plan to leave here and live on the road. In the meantime, this fall we are planning a road trip through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Next spring we are planning a trip up the East Coast from Florida to Nova Scotia. Then we will travel across the northern states until we reach Chicago and take Route 66 west.

We plan to return to Spain, once we finish up the trips through the United States. We hope to have our kids and grandkids join us for a visit, too. Europe is cheap enough to find a small flat to reside in and use their public transportation to see other countries.

retired couple living abroad

How do you keep to a budget?
We have a budget in which we divide all our costs into home, auto, entertainment, food, gifts, medical, miscellaneous, personal, and travel. I keep envelopes with receipts for each item and calculate what we are spending in each area by month. We decide where we need to make adjustments and keep within our budget. It helps to determine if we have a realistic budget or not. Everyone’s priorities are different, but it is good to be able to see where your money is going routinely. It is the best way to determine how much we are able to spend in for our next travel adventure.

Young people are traveling like this and have wonderful advice on how to make it work, as we have read on your blog. Being retired, we have a pension for financial support, but we’ve found ideas for all types of work from young bloggers if more funding is needed.

We spend a lot of time reading and researching on the internet for great advice from people who are already living this lifestyle. We now plan smarter and more cost efficiently because of the knowledge that we have received and feel confident that we are going to be able to do more than we ever dreamed possible!

What advice do you have for travelers your age?
Some of the best advice we have received have been from all the young bloggers online such as yourself, Matt. We learned to plan our trips for dates that are less money. Our first trip to Europe cost us less than one of our family trips here in the States!

Another important travel lesson has been not to get our information from news media but instead to rely on the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. They don’t sensationalize what is going on in each country but give you the information you need in order to make good decisions.

Become the Next Success Story

One of my favorite parts about this job is hearing people’s travel stories. They inspire me, but more importantly, they also inspire you. I travel a certain way but there are many ways to fund your trips and travel the world. I hope these stories show you that there is more than one way to travel and that it is within your grasp to reach your travel goals. Here are more examples of people who made their travel dreams a reality:

P.S. Looking to step up your travel photography? We are hosting a Q&A with professional photographer Laurence Norah on October 29th, so mark your calendars!

The post Embracing Change: Health Scares, Retirement, and Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Top 8 sights and sounds of Colombo

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/10/12/top-8-sights-and-sounds-of-colombo/

Colombo is now a must visit city in your travel itinerary to Sri Lanka where many make a pit stop to shop, buy mementos to take home or to sample the varied restaurants and roof top bars that the capital has to offer. There are also many sites to visit that showcase history of Sri […]

The post Top 8 sights and sounds of Colombo appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/10/12/top-8-sights-and-sounds-of-colombo/

Colombo is now a must visit city in your travel itinerary to Sri Lanka where many make a pit stop to shop, buy mementos to take home or to sample the varied restaurants and roof top bars that the capital has to offer. There are also many sites to visit that showcase history of Sri […]

The post Top 8 sights and sounds of Colombo appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.