Botswana’s top 5 romantic retreats for 2018

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/12/25/botswanas-top-5-romantic-retreats-for-2018/

There’s no doubt that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are the couple of the moment. The wedding planning is well underway, and the world’s media can’t get enough of it. But there’s something else about the golden couple that has peaked the public’s interest — their penchant for Botswana. Harry’s first visit came only two […]

The post Botswana’s top 5 romantic retreats for 2018 appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/12/25/botswanas-top-5-romantic-retreats-for-2018/

There’s no doubt that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are the couple of the moment. The wedding planning is well underway, and the world’s media can’t get enough of it. But there’s something else about the golden couple that has peaked the public’s interest — their penchant for Botswana. Harry’s first visit came only two […]

The post Botswana’s top 5 romantic retreats for 2018 appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Top souvenirs you can bring back from the Andaman Islands

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/12/30/top-souvenirs-you-can-bring-back-from-the-andaman-islands/

Travel is all about making memories. When you come back from a journey, the memories are actually the best gifts that’ll enrich your life forever. Even then, when you bring back little things from your travels, it serves as a great remainder of the wonderful times you shared during those days. Also, when you have […]

The post Top souvenirs you can bring back from the Andaman Islands appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/12/30/top-souvenirs-you-can-bring-back-from-the-andaman-islands/

Travel is all about making memories. When you come back from a journey, the memories are actually the best gifts that’ll enrich your life forever. Even then, when you bring back little things from your travels, it serves as a great remainder of the wonderful times you shared during those days. Also, when you have […]

The post Top souvenirs you can bring back from the Andaman Islands appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Video of the week: Travel more and buy less

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/12/28/video-of-the-week-travel-more-and-buy-less/

We live in a world of consumption. Before you buy your next item for your “man cave” or “she shed”, think again. Adventure and exploration is the best way to learn and expand your horizons. The idea here is simple and enlightening, that one should have a passport full of stamps rather than a house […]

The post Video of the week: Travel more and buy less appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/12/28/video-of-the-week-travel-more-and-buy-less/

We live in a world of consumption. Before you buy your next item for your “man cave” or “she shed”, think again. Adventure and exploration is the best way to learn and expand your horizons. The idea here is simple and enlightening, that one should have a passport full of stamps rather than a house […]

The post Video of the week: Travel more and buy less appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

9 reasons why it’s great in Grenoble

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/12/26/9-reasons-why-its-great-in-grenoble/

This year, Forbes declared Grenoble one of Europe’s top 5 inventive cities, and with a growing amount of student engineers, it’s been giving Silicon Valley a run for its money. In 2016 it was voted the best city in France to be a student, as well as having the highest level of accessibility for wheelchair […]

The post 9 reasons why it’s great in Grenoble appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/12/26/9-reasons-why-its-great-in-grenoble/

This year, Forbes declared Grenoble one of Europe’s top 5 inventive cities, and with a growing amount of student engineers, it’s been giving Silicon Valley a run for its money. In 2016 it was voted the best city in France to be a student, as well as having the highest level of accessibility for wheelchair […]

The post 9 reasons why it’s great in Grenoble appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

5 unforgettable Galapagos experiences

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/12/26/5-unforgettable-galapagos-experiences/

The Galapagos Islands are famed for having one of the highest rates of endemism in the world, and some of the planet’s most unusual and avidly studied life. An incredible 97% of all reptiles and land mammals, and 80% of land birds that you will see on the islands are found nowhere else on earth, […]

The post 5 unforgettable Galapagos experiences appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2017/12/26/5-unforgettable-galapagos-experiences/

The Galapagos Islands are famed for having one of the highest rates of endemism in the world, and some of the planet’s most unusual and avidly studied life. An incredible 97% of all reptiles and land mammals, and 80% of land birds that you will see on the islands are found nowhere else on earth, […]

The post 5 unforgettable Galapagos experiences appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Living Lagom in Sweden: An Interview With Lola Akerstrom

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/lola-akerstrom-sweden-interview/

travel photographer and writer Lola A. Akerstrom
Back in 2006, during my first trip around the world, I met a Swedish girl. We traveled together for a bit and the following year I went to visit her in Sweden. Though that relationship didn’t last, my love for Sweden did and, in subsequent years, I learned Swedish and even tried to move to Sweden. I love everything Swedish. And so does my friend Lola. Lola and I met back in 2008 when travel blogging was in its infancy. Unlike me, she’s had success in making a life in Sweden, where she now lives with her husband and son. She’s one of the favorite people in the industry and I love the imagery in her writing and the beauty in her photography.

In her new book, Lagom, she discusses life in Sweden and Swedish culture. Today, I jealously interview her about life there.

Nomadic Matt: Tell everyone a bit about yourself.
Lola: I’m a Nigerian-born, US-educated, Sweden-based writer and photographer focusing mostly on exploring culture through food, tradition, and lifestyles. My photography is represented by National Geographic Creative, and I was recently awarded the prestigious 2018 Travel Photographer of the Year Bill Muster Award from the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).

I actually took a nontraditional path to this new life, as I worked as a web programmer and GIS system architect for 12+ years before the full career shift into the travel media industry.

I’ve always been fascinated by the nuances of culture: what makes us different and what our similarities are. And so this curiosity and acknowledgement really underpins pretty much all my work as a travel writer and photographer.

Lola Akerstrom and a snowy winter scene in Sweden

How did you end up in Sweden?
I met my husband in 2006 while living in the US. After logging thousands upon thousands of air miles, as well as temporary stints in Stockholm, I officially moved over in 2009. It really was an intercultural, interracial, and intercontinental union in many ways. We now have two kids, so Sweden will be home for a while for many reasons, the prime one being that it’s pretty darn perfect for families.

How do you find life in Sweden? Good? Bad?
Life in Sweden is what you make of it, and that’s why I also wrote this book — as a handy cultural guide that can help you integrate and deeply understand Swedish culture and its nuances. Having lived in both Nigeria and the US for extended periods of time, I appreciate living here with a young family. Overall, the quality of life is fantastic in terms of stress levels. There is enough time to dedicate to the family, as well as generous benefits, which we all contribute to through our taxes.

What’s your least favorite part about living in Sweden?
I often say Sweden is the most open society run by the most private people, and I explain why in the book. Sweden does have its dark sides, and I always say the main difference is this: I can be like Oprah Winfrey if I want to as a black woman in the US, despite all the racial tensions. In Sweden, while you’ll be left in a small corner to live your happy life, trying to be a CEO or magnate like Oprah is a gargantuan task. There are people who still don’t get called for job interviews because of the names on their résumés. So overall, while I love living here, no society is perfect, and Sweden has a lot of integration issues it needs to work out.

Why did you write this book?
So, the Swedish word lagom has recently emerged as the lifestyle trend of 2017 and of course, publishers are jumping on it with different lifestyle books — from recipes to interior decor.

People hanging out near blossoming trees in Stockholm

But I needed to put a book out there that was beyond cinnamon bun recipes, because lagom is not a word that is warmly embraced or even liked by many Swedes themselves for various reasons, including the fact the ethos has over time morphed to denote average, boring, and middle-of-the-road. I detail all this in the book, as well as explain why lagom itself is inherently a good ideal as opposed to jante, which is the negative parasitic ethos that attaches itself to lagom and brings the negativity. But it is the key to understanding the Swedish mindset.

I have been living in Sweden for eight years, and writing about the country and its culture for even longer. I am also married to a Swede and have a unique vantage point of observing the culture both objectively and subjectively. So I explain lagom in a way that a foreigner fully gets it, as well as holding up a mirror to Swedes so they see how lagom is expressed in interactions with other people. It can be very difficult to write about something that’s very intrinsic to you in a way that others can fully understand without coming off as patronizing and condescending.

It really governs the Swedish psyche, and individual bubbles of lagom are definitely changing and morphing with each passing generation.

I needed to write a well-balanced cultural book that could still stand once the Scandi-trends wave washed over.

What does lagom mean and why is it important?
On the surface, lagom is often described as “not too little, not too much, just right,” but it’s a lot more nuanced than that and lies closer to “optimal.” It is the key to unlocking the Swedish psyche and governs almost all aspects of life and culture in the country.

It also transforms its meaning in different contexts — from “less is more” in terms of décor and “moderation” in terms of food to “harmony and balance” in terms of society and “mindfulness” in terms of well-being.

If one were to boil down the true essence of lagom to its very core, it means striving for the ultimate balance in life that, when applied to all aspects of one’s existence, can help guide you toward operating at your most natural, effortless state.

The state and measurement of lagom mean different things to different folks. My satisfaction may vary from yours, but we can both be satisfied. Lagom represents the ultimate sweet spot or golden mean in your own life, and more importantly, it encourages you to fully operate within that sweet spot that’s just right for you.

a typical Swedish cottage with a Swedish flag

For travelers to Sweden, how can they detect lagom at work or play?
Many people often describe Swedes (in Sweden, not outside of Sweden) as reserved, inaccessible, and maybe even cold and flippant, but it’s often just lagom’s mindfulness at play. Locals will give you your space and ensure you’re not inconvenienced by their presence. So, Swedes naturally keep their distance from a place of mindfulness, not because they don’t want to be around you. (Outside of Sweden, they are quick to ditch lagom in social settings.)

At work, lagom is always looking for the best solution, so there’s a lot of planning, lots of meetings, lots of consensus, lots of teamwork, you get the gist… to make sure they arrive at the optimal, lagom solution to all problems.

For example: Many foreigners working or doing business in Sweden often lament the amount of time Swedes put into upfront planning and preparation. Agendas are triple-checked, and several meetings are called to plan every single item on said agendas. Plans can take months to put in place before moving to the next step of implementing each item on those plans.

For a culture that prides itself on efficiency, it could seem these inherent acts of zealous planning are counterproductive, and they can be seen as wasting time and resources. However, because lagom craves balance by trimming excess around its edges, it requires adequate planning. “Adequate” is measured by whatever it takes to prune irrelevance, regardless of how long it takes.

To be efficient means to perform and function in the most optimal manner possible with the least waste of time, resources, and energy. This very definition of efficiency mirrors the core of lagom.

So lagom says it is perfectly OK to spend as much time as needed to prepare ourselves and strongly develop our plans, because that’s the only way we can guarantee efficiency.

an aerial view over stockholm

For travelers who would like to date a Swede, how can understanding lagom help them?
Swedes don’t naturally divulge information or overshare, so sometimes it can be hard to even gauge or assess what’s going on in a relationship. And it’s not a culture that overly gesticulates with hands or uses flattering words, so knowing if a Swede is interested in you can be denoted by their unusually prolonged eye contact.

So, when out on a date, always have follow-up questions to keep the conversation going and to avoid your date awkwardly ending at “yes or no” answers. Because they will do so, in an effort not to overshare without being asked.

For someone going on a date expecting to be lavishly wined and dined, Swedes are generally conditioned to split their bills, to always repay favors, and to not be duty-bound to anyone, especially financially, by keeping that scale balanced. So this can come as a nasty surprise at the end of the night if you haven’t discussed it before the waiter brings out the menu.

And if you’re in relationship with a Swede and have issues or questions, just ask straight out because Swedes are very direct. And be prepared for those direct answers!

Why are people so fascinated with Sweden?
I think a lot of the fascination comes from the quality of life and just how progressive the society is. Another more superficial angle has to do with physicality — from people and landscapes to interior décor and architecture. I mean, the city of Stockholm itself is absolutely stunning, and it spreads across 14 islands, which you can view from some nice vantage points in town. Sweden consistently ranks in the top 10 happiest countries, so there are clearly things Sweden is getting right.

What’s the one thing you want people to take away from your book?
Lagom is a mindset that fundamentally battles stress. Having too much or too little causes stress, so lagom tries to find its balance between both with the optimal solution by reducing excess. Not perfection, but the best solution.

Think of it as a scale that always needs to be balanced. Too much or too little tips the scale sharply to one side or the other, so lagom balances itself (“just right”) by trimming excess and getting rid of all sources of stress within our control — from material things to relationships that drain us.

Lola A. Åkerström is an award-winning writer, speaker, and photographer with National Geographic Creative. She regularly contributes to high profile publications such as AFAR, the BBC, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure, and National Geographic Traveler. Lola is also the editor of Slow Travel Stockholm, an online magazine dedicated to exploring Sweden’s capital city in depth. She lives in Stockholm and blogs at Geotraveler’s Niche.

You can pick up a copy of her book on Amazon.
(It’s really interesting and I highly recommend it!)

The post Living Lagom in Sweden: An Interview With Lola Akerstrom appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/lola-akerstrom-sweden-interview/

travel photographer and writer Lola A. Akerstrom
Back in 2006, during my first trip around the world, I met a Swedish girl. We traveled together for a bit and the following year I went to visit her in Sweden. Though that relationship didn’t last, my love for Sweden did and, in subsequent years, I learned Swedish and even tried to move to Sweden. I love everything Swedish. And so does my friend Lola. Lola and I met back in 2008 when travel blogging was in its infancy. Unlike me, she’s had success in making a life in Sweden, where she now lives with her husband and son. She’s one of the favorite people in the industry and I love the imagery in her writing and the beauty in her photography.

In her new book, Lagom, she discusses life in Sweden and Swedish culture. Today, I jealously interview her about life there.

Nomadic Matt: Tell everyone a bit about yourself.
Lola: I’m a Nigerian-born, US-educated, Sweden-based writer and photographer focusing mostly on exploring culture through food, tradition, and lifestyles. My photography is represented by National Geographic Creative, and I was recently awarded the prestigious 2018 Travel Photographer of the Year Bill Muster Award from the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).

I actually took a nontraditional path to this new life, as I worked as a web programmer and GIS system architect for 12+ years before the full career shift into the travel media industry.

I’ve always been fascinated by the nuances of culture: what makes us different and what our similarities are. And so this curiosity and acknowledgement really underpins pretty much all my work as a travel writer and photographer.

Lola Akerstrom and a snowy winter scene in Sweden

How did you end up in Sweden?
I met my husband in 2006 while living in the US. After logging thousands upon thousands of air miles, as well as temporary stints in Stockholm, I officially moved over in 2009. It really was an intercultural, interracial, and intercontinental union in many ways. We now have two kids, so Sweden will be home for a while for many reasons, the prime one being that it’s pretty darn perfect for families.

How do you find life in Sweden? Good? Bad?
Life in Sweden is what you make of it, and that’s why I also wrote this book — as a handy cultural guide that can help you integrate and deeply understand Swedish culture and its nuances. Having lived in both Nigeria and the US for extended periods of time, I appreciate living here with a young family. Overall, the quality of life is fantastic in terms of stress levels. There is enough time to dedicate to the family, as well as generous benefits, which we all contribute to through our taxes.

What’s your least favorite part about living in Sweden?
I often say Sweden is the most open society run by the most private people, and I explain why in the book. Sweden does have its dark sides, and I always say the main difference is this: I can be like Oprah Winfrey if I want to as a black woman in the US, despite all the racial tensions. In Sweden, while you’ll be left in a small corner to live your happy life, trying to be a CEO or magnate like Oprah is a gargantuan task. There are people who still don’t get called for job interviews because of the names on their résumés. So overall, while I love living here, no society is perfect, and Sweden has a lot of integration issues it needs to work out.

Why did you write this book?
So, the Swedish word lagom has recently emerged as the lifestyle trend of 2017 and of course, publishers are jumping on it with different lifestyle books — from recipes to interior decor.

People hanging out near blossoming trees in Stockholm

But I needed to put a book out there that was beyond cinnamon bun recipes, because lagom is not a word that is warmly embraced or even liked by many Swedes themselves for various reasons, including the fact the ethos has over time morphed to denote average, boring, and middle-of-the-road. I detail all this in the book, as well as explain why lagom itself is inherently a good ideal as opposed to jante, which is the negative parasitic ethos that attaches itself to lagom and brings the negativity. But it is the key to understanding the Swedish mindset.

I have been living in Sweden for eight years, and writing about the country and its culture for even longer. I am also married to a Swede and have a unique vantage point of observing the culture both objectively and subjectively. So I explain lagom in a way that a foreigner fully gets it, as well as holding up a mirror to Swedes so they see how lagom is expressed in interactions with other people. It can be very difficult to write about something that’s very intrinsic to you in a way that others can fully understand without coming off as patronizing and condescending.

It really governs the Swedish psyche, and individual bubbles of lagom are definitely changing and morphing with each passing generation.

I needed to write a well-balanced cultural book that could still stand once the Scandi-trends wave washed over.

What does lagom mean and why is it important?
On the surface, lagom is often described as “not too little, not too much, just right,” but it’s a lot more nuanced than that and lies closer to “optimal.” It is the key to unlocking the Swedish psyche and governs almost all aspects of life and culture in the country.

It also transforms its meaning in different contexts — from “less is more” in terms of décor and “moderation” in terms of food to “harmony and balance” in terms of society and “mindfulness” in terms of well-being.

If one were to boil down the true essence of lagom to its very core, it means striving for the ultimate balance in life that, when applied to all aspects of one’s existence, can help guide you toward operating at your most natural, effortless state.

The state and measurement of lagom mean different things to different folks. My satisfaction may vary from yours, but we can both be satisfied. Lagom represents the ultimate sweet spot or golden mean in your own life, and more importantly, it encourages you to fully operate within that sweet spot that’s just right for you.

a typical Swedish cottage with a Swedish flag

For travelers to Sweden, how can they detect lagom at work or play?
Many people often describe Swedes (in Sweden, not outside of Sweden) as reserved, inaccessible, and maybe even cold and flippant, but it’s often just lagom’s mindfulness at play. Locals will give you your space and ensure you’re not inconvenienced by their presence. So, Swedes naturally keep their distance from a place of mindfulness, not because they don’t want to be around you. (Outside of Sweden, they are quick to ditch lagom in social settings.)

At work, lagom is always looking for the best solution, so there’s a lot of planning, lots of meetings, lots of consensus, lots of teamwork, you get the gist… to make sure they arrive at the optimal, lagom solution to all problems.

For example: Many foreigners working or doing business in Sweden often lament the amount of time Swedes put into upfront planning and preparation. Agendas are triple-checked, and several meetings are called to plan every single item on said agendas. Plans can take months to put in place before moving to the next step of implementing each item on those plans.

For a culture that prides itself on efficiency, it could seem these inherent acts of zealous planning are counterproductive, and they can be seen as wasting time and resources. However, because lagom craves balance by trimming excess around its edges, it requires adequate planning. “Adequate” is measured by whatever it takes to prune irrelevance, regardless of how long it takes.

To be efficient means to perform and function in the most optimal manner possible with the least waste of time, resources, and energy. This very definition of efficiency mirrors the core of lagom.

So lagom says it is perfectly OK to spend as much time as needed to prepare ourselves and strongly develop our plans, because that’s the only way we can guarantee efficiency.

an aerial view over stockholm

For travelers who would like to date a Swede, how can understanding lagom help them?
Swedes don’t naturally divulge information or overshare, so sometimes it can be hard to even gauge or assess what’s going on in a relationship. And it’s not a culture that overly gesticulates with hands or uses flattering words, so knowing if a Swede is interested in you can be denoted by their unusually prolonged eye contact.

So, when out on a date, always have follow-up questions to keep the conversation going and to avoid your date awkwardly ending at “yes or no” answers. Because they will do so, in an effort not to overshare without being asked.

For someone going on a date expecting to be lavishly wined and dined, Swedes are generally conditioned to split their bills, to always repay favors, and to not be duty-bound to anyone, especially financially, by keeping that scale balanced. So this can come as a nasty surprise at the end of the night if you haven’t discussed it before the waiter brings out the menu.

And if you’re in relationship with a Swede and have issues or questions, just ask straight out because Swedes are very direct. And be prepared for those direct answers!

Why are people so fascinated with Sweden?
I think a lot of the fascination comes from the quality of life and just how progressive the society is. Another more superficial angle has to do with physicality — from people and landscapes to interior décor and architecture. I mean, the city of Stockholm itself is absolutely stunning, and it spreads across 14 islands, which you can view from some nice vantage points in town. Sweden consistently ranks in the top 10 happiest countries, so there are clearly things Sweden is getting right.

What’s the one thing you want people to take away from your book?
Lagom is a mindset that fundamentally battles stress. Having too much or too little causes stress, so lagom tries to find its balance between both with the optimal solution by reducing excess. Not perfection, but the best solution.

Think of it as a scale that always needs to be balanced. Too much or too little tips the scale sharply to one side or the other, so lagom balances itself (“just right”) by trimming excess and getting rid of all sources of stress within our control — from material things to relationships that drain us.

Lola A. Åkerström is an award-winning writer, speaker, and photographer with National Geographic Creative. She regularly contributes to high profile publications such as AFAR, the BBC, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure, and National Geographic Traveler. Lola is also the editor of Slow Travel Stockholm, an online magazine dedicated to exploring Sweden’s capital city in depth. She lives in Stockholm and blogs at Geotraveler’s Niche.

You can pick up a copy of her book on Amazon.
(It’s really interesting and I highly recommend it!)

The post Living Lagom in Sweden: An Interview With Lola Akerstrom appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

The Secret Sauce Behind Scott’s Cheap Flights

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/scotts-cheap-flights/

Scott Keyes posing with his dog
“Have you heard of Scott’s Cheap Flights? Should I use them?”

When friends and family far removed from the travel hacking/cheap flights space ask me about a website, I know its mainstream. While there are many good deal websites out there (The Flight Deal, Secret Flying, and Holiday Pirates are three of my favorites), Scott’s Cheap Flights seems to have broken through where others have not. Over 1 million people get his daily flight deals email. I’m a big fan of the website and their ability to often break airfare deals (I used one of their alerts to fly to South Africa). It turns out Scott is a fan of my website too so we sat down for an interview where I got him to spill the secret behind his website:

Nomadic Matt: Tell everyone about yourself. How did you get into this?
Scott: When I graduated college in 2009, I knew two things: (1) I wanted to travel the world and (2) I was never going to be wealthy. So if I wasn’t going to let #2 prevent #1, I knew I would have to figure out some creative ways to travel without spending my life savings. I began reading up on flight pricing economics, spending hours on various flight search engines, and learning various airfare patterns. Before long, I found an online community of fellow travel hackers and cheap-flight aficionados who enjoy not just travel but also the thrill of getting a great deal on flights.

Where did the idea of this website come from?
Scott’s Cheap Flights has a weird origin story. In 2013, I got the best deal of my life: nonstop from NYC to Milan for $130 round-trip. Milan hadn’t even been on my radar as a place to visit, but for $130 round-trip, there’s no way I wouldn’t go. And it turned out to be amazing! I went skiing in the Alps, caught an AC Milan match, hiked Cinque Terre, hung out on Lake Como. It was divine.

When I got back, word spread among friends and coworkers about the deal I got, and dozens of them began asking me to let them know next time I found a fare like that so they could get in on it, too. So rather than try to remember to tell George and Esther and Aviva when a great deal popped up, I decided to start a simple little email list instead so I could alert everyone at once. Scott’s Cheap Flights was born.

For the first 18 months, though, it was just a little, fun hobby I did for my friends. It wasn’t until August 2015 that it had generated enough organic growth that it made sense to think about turning it into a business.

Scott posing in front of a hilly landscape

You’ve sort of blown up in the last year or so. What do you think have been the two biggest factors into your success?
First off, thanks! We just hit one million subscribers — still hard for me to believe. The credit goes to two primary factors:

First, there’s an incredible team who runs Scott’s Cheap Flights. It’s not just me; we’re up to 25 folks on the team now. We have a team of flight searchers finding great deals around the world, and also a team of amazing customer support folks. On an average day we get well over 700 emails in our inbox, and most people get a response within a few hours, if not a few minutes. I think this is a major reason why more than 50% of people who sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights found out about it via word of mouth.

Second, the startup itself had very serendipitous timing. Right around when Scott’s Cheap Flights became a business, international flight prices began to plummet, fueled by low oil prices and a bevy of new low-cost airlines like Norwegian and WOW jumping into the transatlantic market. Whereas in 2010 it was rare to see flights from the US to Europe under $900 round-trip, in 2015 (and through to today), it’s relatively common to see those same flights around $400 round-trip, if not less. We can’t force airlines to offer cheap flights, but we’ve been there to ride the wave these past few years and help subscribers pay half of what they used to to travel abroad.

Were there any media hits or high-profile features that really changed your trajectory? I remember hearing about you a few years ago, but now it seems everyone I know, even outside of travel, has heard of your newsletter.
There was one in particular: a Business Insider article and I were taking in the summer of 2015. It helped take Scott’s Cheap Flights from a hobby to a full-fledged business by bringing in thousands of new subscribers. We’ve had hundreds of media hits in the two years since then, but as we’ve grown, each individual one has necessarily had a diminishing impact. Perhaps a Nomadic Matt interview will give a big new boost though!

Scott doing a television interview

How does your website work? How do you find these deals? Do you have team of people searching for deals? Is it an algorithm?
One thing that surprises a lot of people is that we don’t have a bunch of computers running secret algorithms to find cheap flights. All of our fares are searched by hand. The secret sauce is hard work. Airfare changes by the hour, if not by the minute, and the best deals don’t tend to last very long, so finding out about them early is the key to booking them before they’re gone. Most people don’t want to spend all their free time searching for cheap flights; we love doing it and being subscribers’ early detection radar.

Another way to think of it is like this: Almost everybody is capable of cooking dinner at home, but that doesn’t prevent the existence of the restaurant industry. People don’t always want to put in the time and effort required to find cheap flights, so we’re happy to do it for them.

That seems super time-consuming. How do you decide what and where to search? Do you just randomly plugging in places and dates, or is there more of a method to the madness?
There’s a bit of proprietary knowledge that goes into the process, but 95% of it is just the sheer legwork, day after day, searching various routes and seeing what pops up. There’s more of a skill aspect to the process than I would’ve guessed four years ago, whether that’s remembering certain esoteric routes that periodically go on sale, or knowing that a fare war out of one city likely indicates fare drops in other similar cities. For the most part, though, it’s just a small team of incredibly talented and dedicated flight searchers scouring through fares all day every day, disregarding 99% of them and skimming off the juiciest 1% to send to subscribers.

What are some of the biggest trends in flights you are seeing right now?
In the last year or two we’ve seen far cheaper flights than in the past to India (before: $1,000+, now: ~$600), Italy and the Netherlands (before: $900, now: ~$350), and Hawaii (before: $800, now $350 from the West Coast, $550 from further east).

Unfortunately (though perhaps not surprisingly), we’re seeing a continued drought of cheap flights to popular destinations like Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand.

In addition, we’re seeing a continued unbundling of airfare: more low-cost carriers and “budget economy” fares offered by full-service carriers that don’t include checked bags, seat selection, or meals.

Scott in the Cinque Terre

Do you use your own deals or are you more of a points/miles-in-business-class kind of guy?
Sure do! I’m personally not a business-class type of guy. I’m still young enough to be fine in coach for as long and far as a plane can fly. Ask me again in 20 years — but in general I’m uncomfortable being doted on in the premium section of the plane. I’m a simple guy. I don’t need much.

Will we see more business-class deals?
Don’t wanna overpromise and underdeliver. Stay tuned!

Do you plan to go global and feature more non-US deals?
Yes! We have a team of flight searchers finding cheap fares departing not just from the US but also Canada, the UK and mainland Europe, Australia and New Zealand, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East (Sub-Saharan Africa coming soon!).

You get all these flight deals, but tell me some of your favorite travel experiences. What’s one of your favorite recent travel memories?
Last year my wife and I took a trip to Belarus to visit her family. One of the days we took a trip to a “park” that consisted of a big open field filled with old discarded and retired Cold War–era Soviet weapons. Think machine guns, missiles, and tanks.

Mostly people would walk around and pose for selfies in front of these massive weapons, but at one point I saw a small group of tourists from Asia hand a park operator some cash and then start to climb on top of a WWII-era tank. I thought they were just going to take photos, but a few seconds later the tank started lurching forward before hitting a cool 25 miles per hour, zipping around the park. These tourists were having the time of their effing lives, and it gave me so much joy just to watch them.

Scott sitting in front of some salt flats

Your deal website is great of course, but what about just everyday flights people need to see Grandma. What advice do you have based on your experience learning how airline pricing works?
The single best trick to getting cheap airfare is flexibility. Being flexible not just with your dates but also your locations. For example, that NYC-Milan nonstop round-trip deal for $130 I mentioned at the top. I wasn’t living in NYC; I was living in DC. But for that fare it was well worth the short $20 bus ride up. I spent the weekend with friends in NYC and saved myself $650 off what fares would’ve been from DC to Milan.

The way most people approach getting a flight is this: (1) pick where they want to go; (2) pick their dates; and (3) see what prices are available. By prioritizing the fare lowest, they often end up with expensive tickets.

Instead, if getting a cheap flight is your priority, flip the order: (1) see what prices are available to various places are around the world; (2) decide which of the cheap destinations appeal to you; and (3) select the dates you like that have the cheap fares available.

What’s the craziest deal you ever got?
In addition to that $130 nonstop NYC-Milan deal, my wife and I recently scored $169 round-trip flights to Japan — flippin’ love mistake fares. And team members have gotten similarly good deals to Hawaii, New Zealand, etc.

Finally, what’s one non-airfare-related travel piece of advice you’d give someone?
Read more magazine articles and listen to more smart, informative podcasts. I’m a firm believer in the liberal arts approach of knowing a bit about everything (as opposed to everything about just one subject), not only as a way to be a well-rounded person but also as a social lubricant. If you can hold a conversation about anything from architecture to the stock market to Asian budget airlines, you’re far more likely to meet interesting people and develop deeper relationships.

Scott founded Scott’s Cheap Flights in a Denver coffeeshop. Scott is the flight searcher-in-chief, spending 8-12 hours a day on Google Flights as well as overseeing daily operations. If you’re looking for flight deals, it’s one of the best.

The post The Secret Sauce Behind Scott’s Cheap Flights appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/scotts-cheap-flights/

Scott Keyes posing with his dog
“Have you heard of Scott’s Cheap Flights? Should I use them?”

When friends and family far removed from the travel hacking/cheap flights space ask me about a website, I know its mainstream. While there are many good deal websites out there (The Flight Deal, Secret Flying, and Holiday Pirates are three of my favorites), Scott’s Cheap Flights seems to have broken through where others have not. Over 1 million people get his daily flight deals email. I’m a big fan of the website and their ability to often break airfare deals (I used one of their alerts to fly to South Africa). It turns out Scott is a fan of my website too so we sat down for an interview where I got him to spill the secret behind his website:

Nomadic Matt: Tell everyone about yourself. How did you get into this?
Scott: When I graduated college in 2009, I knew two things: (1) I wanted to travel the world and (2) I was never going to be wealthy. So if I wasn’t going to let #2 prevent #1, I knew I would have to figure out some creative ways to travel without spending my life savings. I began reading up on flight pricing economics, spending hours on various flight search engines, and learning various airfare patterns. Before long, I found an online community of fellow travel hackers and cheap-flight aficionados who enjoy not just travel but also the thrill of getting a great deal on flights.

Where did the idea of this website come from?
Scott’s Cheap Flights has a weird origin story. In 2013, I got the best deal of my life: nonstop from NYC to Milan for $130 round-trip. Milan hadn’t even been on my radar as a place to visit, but for $130 round-trip, there’s no way I wouldn’t go. And it turned out to be amazing! I went skiing in the Alps, caught an AC Milan match, hiked Cinque Terre, hung out on Lake Como. It was divine.

When I got back, word spread among friends and coworkers about the deal I got, and dozens of them began asking me to let them know next time I found a fare like that so they could get in on it, too. So rather than try to remember to tell George and Esther and Aviva when a great deal popped up, I decided to start a simple little email list instead so I could alert everyone at once. Scott’s Cheap Flights was born.

For the first 18 months, though, it was just a little, fun hobby I did for my friends. It wasn’t until August 2015 that it had generated enough organic growth that it made sense to think about turning it into a business.

Scott posing in front of a hilly landscape

You’ve sort of blown up in the last year or so. What do you think have been the two biggest factors into your success?
First off, thanks! We just hit one million subscribers — still hard for me to believe. The credit goes to two primary factors:

First, there’s an incredible team who runs Scott’s Cheap Flights. It’s not just me; we’re up to 25 folks on the team now. We have a team of flight searchers finding great deals around the world, and also a team of amazing customer support folks. On an average day we get well over 700 emails in our inbox, and most people get a response within a few hours, if not a few minutes. I think this is a major reason why more than 50% of people who sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights found out about it via word of mouth.

Second, the startup itself had very serendipitous timing. Right around when Scott’s Cheap Flights became a business, international flight prices began to plummet, fueled by low oil prices and a bevy of new low-cost airlines like Norwegian and WOW jumping into the transatlantic market. Whereas in 2010 it was rare to see flights from the US to Europe under $900 round-trip, in 2015 (and through to today), it’s relatively common to see those same flights around $400 round-trip, if not less. We can’t force airlines to offer cheap flights, but we’ve been there to ride the wave these past few years and help subscribers pay half of what they used to to travel abroad.

Were there any media hits or high-profile features that really changed your trajectory? I remember hearing about you a few years ago, but now it seems everyone I know, even outside of travel, has heard of your newsletter.
There was one in particular: a Business Insider article and I were taking in the summer of 2015. It helped take Scott’s Cheap Flights from a hobby to a full-fledged business by bringing in thousands of new subscribers. We’ve had hundreds of media hits in the two years since then, but as we’ve grown, each individual one has necessarily had a diminishing impact. Perhaps a Nomadic Matt interview will give a big new boost though!

Scott doing a television interview

How does your website work? How do you find these deals? Do you have team of people searching for deals? Is it an algorithm?
One thing that surprises a lot of people is that we don’t have a bunch of computers running secret algorithms to find cheap flights. All of our fares are searched by hand. The secret sauce is hard work. Airfare changes by the hour, if not by the minute, and the best deals don’t tend to last very long, so finding out about them early is the key to booking them before they’re gone. Most people don’t want to spend all their free time searching for cheap flights; we love doing it and being subscribers’ early detection radar.

Another way to think of it is like this: Almost everybody is capable of cooking dinner at home, but that doesn’t prevent the existence of the restaurant industry. People don’t always want to put in the time and effort required to find cheap flights, so we’re happy to do it for them.

That seems super time-consuming. How do you decide what and where to search? Do you just randomly plugging in places and dates, or is there more of a method to the madness?
There’s a bit of proprietary knowledge that goes into the process, but 95% of it is just the sheer legwork, day after day, searching various routes and seeing what pops up. There’s more of a skill aspect to the process than I would’ve guessed four years ago, whether that’s remembering certain esoteric routes that periodically go on sale, or knowing that a fare war out of one city likely indicates fare drops in other similar cities. For the most part, though, it’s just a small team of incredibly talented and dedicated flight searchers scouring through fares all day every day, disregarding 99% of them and skimming off the juiciest 1% to send to subscribers.

What are some of the biggest trends in flights you are seeing right now?
In the last year or two we’ve seen far cheaper flights than in the past to India (before: $1,000+, now: ~$600), Italy and the Netherlands (before: $900, now: ~$350), and Hawaii (before: $800, now $350 from the West Coast, $550 from further east).

Unfortunately (though perhaps not surprisingly), we’re seeing a continued drought of cheap flights to popular destinations like Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand.

In addition, we’re seeing a continued unbundling of airfare: more low-cost carriers and “budget economy” fares offered by full-service carriers that don’t include checked bags, seat selection, or meals.

Scott in the Cinque Terre

Do you use your own deals or are you more of a points/miles-in-business-class kind of guy?
Sure do! I’m personally not a business-class type of guy. I’m still young enough to be fine in coach for as long and far as a plane can fly. Ask me again in 20 years — but in general I’m uncomfortable being doted on in the premium section of the plane. I’m a simple guy. I don’t need much.

Will we see more business-class deals?
Don’t wanna overpromise and underdeliver. Stay tuned!

Do you plan to go global and feature more non-US deals?
Yes! We have a team of flight searchers finding cheap fares departing not just from the US but also Canada, the UK and mainland Europe, Australia and New Zealand, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East (Sub-Saharan Africa coming soon!).

You get all these flight deals, but tell me some of your favorite travel experiences. What’s one of your favorite recent travel memories?
Last year my wife and I took a trip to Belarus to visit her family. One of the days we took a trip to a “park” that consisted of a big open field filled with old discarded and retired Cold War–era Soviet weapons. Think machine guns, missiles, and tanks.

Mostly people would walk around and pose for selfies in front of these massive weapons, but at one point I saw a small group of tourists from Asia hand a park operator some cash and then start to climb on top of a WWII-era tank. I thought they were just going to take photos, but a few seconds later the tank started lurching forward before hitting a cool 25 miles per hour, zipping around the park. These tourists were having the time of their effing lives, and it gave me so much joy just to watch them.

Scott sitting in front of some salt flats

Your deal website is great of course, but what about just everyday flights people need to see Grandma. What advice do you have based on your experience learning how airline pricing works?
The single best trick to getting cheap airfare is flexibility. Being flexible not just with your dates but also your locations. For example, that NYC-Milan nonstop round-trip deal for $130 I mentioned at the top. I wasn’t living in NYC; I was living in DC. But for that fare it was well worth the short $20 bus ride up. I spent the weekend with friends in NYC and saved myself $650 off what fares would’ve been from DC to Milan.

The way most people approach getting a flight is this: (1) pick where they want to go; (2) pick their dates; and (3) see what prices are available. By prioritizing the fare lowest, they often end up with expensive tickets.

Instead, if getting a cheap flight is your priority, flip the order: (1) see what prices are available to various places are around the world; (2) decide which of the cheap destinations appeal to you; and (3) select the dates you like that have the cheap fares available.

What’s the craziest deal you ever got?
In addition to that $130 nonstop NYC-Milan deal, my wife and I recently scored $169 round-trip flights to Japan — flippin’ love mistake fares. And team members have gotten similarly good deals to Hawaii, New Zealand, etc.

Finally, what’s one non-airfare-related travel piece of advice you’d give someone?
Read more magazine articles and listen to more smart, informative podcasts. I’m a firm believer in the liberal arts approach of knowing a bit about everything (as opposed to everything about just one subject), not only as a way to be a well-rounded person but also as a social lubricant. If you can hold a conversation about anything from architecture to the stock market to Asian budget airlines, you’re far more likely to meet interesting people and develop deeper relationships.

Scott founded Scott’s Cheap Flights in a Denver coffeeshop. Scott is the flight searcher-in-chief, spending 8-12 hours a day on Google Flights as well as overseeing daily operations. If you’re looking for flight deals, it’s one of the best.

The post The Secret Sauce Behind Scott’s Cheap Flights appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Let’s Send Another Set of Students Abroad (Exciting Updates from FLYTE)

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/exciting-updates-from-flyte/

students from Anacostia D.C. Public School in Cuba
Travel is a powerful agent for change. It broadens our horizons, fills our lives with friends, gives us incredible memories, and (sometimes) helps us find purpose in our lives (at least it did with me).

Not everyone can travel and it’s a great privilege to do what we are able to do. Whether you saved up for a year, found work overseas, won a trip, or struck it rich buying Bitcoin, to be able to travel is to do something few in this world get to do.

Think about the first time you traveled overseas. Remember those feelings of freedom, possibility, and excitement? Remember what got you hooked and made you say “I need to do more of this!”?

Well, for kids, travel can be even more life changing than for adults, because it exposes them to different ideas, cultures, and people at a crucial developmental time in their life.

And, over the last few years, I’ve been focusing on trying to get more high school students overseas.

I remember the school group I met on my first ever trip abroad in 2003 and thinking about how lucky those kids were to have that experience. I remember meeting Conor and Carolyn, kids of my friends Dani and Craig, while in Bangkok. They were all on a year abroad and being homeschooled along the way. Now, as adults, they still view that trip as one of their most formative life experiences. It made them better people.

But not everyone has parents to take them on round-the-world adventures or send them to study abroad. Most high schools don’t have the resources to maintain their art and gym classes, let alone send students on trips outside their community.

BEST Academy students visiting Chichen Itza, Mexico

Two years ago, I started FLYTE, the Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education, as a way to make travel and study abroad possible for those who lack the resources to do it on their own. Since then, we’ve run three trips: we’ve sent a class from Atlanta to Mexico; one from DC to Cuba; and one from Newburgh, NY, to Ecuador. And we’ve raised over $100,000 in donations to make that happen.

All told, we’ve helped send around 45 students overseas on educational trips, helping to create a positive impact on their lives.

And none of this could have been possible without YOU. Over 1,000 readers have helped get this organization off the ground!

So let me say right away: thank you, thank you, thank you! Like it’s amazing! More than me, the students, parents, and teachers of the schools you’ve helped are blown away by your generosity.

Today, I want to mention FLYTE again for two reasons:

First, we used the summer to make some improvements to the website and organization. We have a brand-new website that now features our past trips, a new volunteer program folks can join, and a new system that now allows for annual donations (yay!). Additionally, we’re now more active on social media, so follow us for updates on our students, teachers, news, and pictures from the student trips. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay updated on our programs!

With interns and volunteers helping us out, the organization is moving forward. We’re going to have in-person fundraising events in early 2018, we’ve set a goal of applying for two grants per month, and we are reaching out for more corporate donations. In fact, we got an $11,000 donation from the Golden Rule Foundation! (Yay!)

We’re an organization on the move – and I wanted to share that with you!

students from Excelsior Academy in Quito, Ecuador

Second, and perhaps more importantly, we’re now accepting applications for our next grant award. If you are a high school teacher in the United States and would like to take your students on an overseas trip, come apply for funding and let us help make that trip a reality!

As a school partner, some of our requirements include:

  1. At least 40% of your students are receiving free or reduced-price lunches.
  2. Your students are aged 14-18 and enrolled in high school at the time of the program.
  3. All of your students are legal residents of the U.S.
  4. You have support from your school administrators and leadership to take your students abroad.
  5. You will be able to have at least three chaperones for your trip who will be able to pay or raise the funds for some or all of their expenses.

If you’re a teacher who would like to send your kids on an overseas trip, click here to learn more and apply. You’ll see more of our requirements and expectations there.

(If you are not a teacher but know teachers who might be interested, share tat link! Help us spread the word and reach more people and students.)

Finally, like all nonprofits, we work off of donations. During this giving season, let’s help kids experience the world and turn them into life long travelers and global citizens! The more funding we have, the more students we can send around the world.

You can do one time or reoccurring donations! You can click here to donate.

Moreover, if you sign up on a recurring basis, you’re helping to make a much more profound long-term impact by enabling us to fund trips to even more schools. Plus, you’ll also get the following benefits:

  • Exclusive announcement of our selected partner school and destination before anyone else
  • Quarterly newsletters with updates from our schools and partners
  • Lifetime 25% discount on my guidebooks
  • Members only access to follow along on the trip via photos and videos

To sign up, simply click here, select monthly and your desired donation amount. (Again, you can click here to donate.)

This summer, we sent a group of students to Ecuador. It had a profound impact on them – all because of FLYTE and how’ve you made that possible. Here’s a video of the students talking about their experience:

***In a time when everyone is closing their borders – physically and metaphorically, I think it helps teach kids there is a bigger world out there, there’s a real world application to what they are learning, and the world is full of opportunity. For kids who come from socially and economically depressed communities, this idea we take for granted is often a life-changing revelation.

So let’s change someone’s life – and the world – together.

P.S. – I’m hosting a meet-up in Bangkok on Christmas Day! Let’s grab drinks and talk travel. Details are TBD, but it will be held somewhere on Khao San Road. Follow the Facebook event for updates.

The post Let’s Send Another Set of Students Abroad (Exciting Updates from FLYTE) appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/exciting-updates-from-flyte/

students from Anacostia D.C. Public School in Cuba
Travel is a powerful agent for change. It broadens our horizons, fills our lives with friends, gives us incredible memories, and (sometimes) helps us find purpose in our lives (at least it did with me).

Not everyone can travel and it’s a great privilege to do what we are able to do. Whether you saved up for a year, found work overseas, won a trip, or struck it rich buying Bitcoin, to be able to travel is to do something few in this world get to do.

Think about the first time you traveled overseas. Remember those feelings of freedom, possibility, and excitement? Remember what got you hooked and made you say “I need to do more of this!”?

Well, for kids, travel can be even more life changing than for adults, because it exposes them to different ideas, cultures, and people at a crucial developmental time in their life.

And, over the last few years, I’ve been focusing on trying to get more high school students overseas.

I remember the school group I met on my first ever trip abroad in 2003 and thinking about how lucky those kids were to have that experience. I remember meeting Conor and Carolyn, kids of my friends Dani and Craig, while in Bangkok. They were all on a year abroad and being homeschooled along the way. Now, as adults, they still view that trip as one of their most formative life experiences. It made them better people.

But not everyone has parents to take them on round-the-world adventures or send them to study abroad. Most high schools don’t have the resources to maintain their art and gym classes, let alone send students on trips outside their community.

BEST Academy students visiting Chichen Itza, Mexico

Two years ago, I started FLYTE, the Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education, as a way to make travel and study abroad possible for those who lack the resources to do it on their own. Since then, we’ve run three trips: we’ve sent a class from Atlanta to Mexico; one from DC to Cuba; and one from Newburgh, NY, to Ecuador. And we’ve raised over $100,000 in donations to make that happen.

All told, we’ve helped send around 45 students overseas on educational trips, helping to create a positive impact on their lives.

And none of this could have been possible without YOU. Over 1,000 readers have helped get this organization off the ground!

So let me say right away: thank you, thank you, thank you! Like it’s amazing! More than me, the students, parents, and teachers of the schools you’ve helped are blown away by your generosity.

Today, I want to mention FLYTE again for two reasons:

First, we used the summer to make some improvements to the website and organization. We have a brand-new website that now features our past trips, a new volunteer program folks can join, and a new system that now allows for annual donations (yay!). Additionally, we’re now more active on social media, so follow us for updates on our students, teachers, news, and pictures from the student trips. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay updated on our programs!

With interns and volunteers helping us out, the organization is moving forward. We’re going to have in-person fundraising events in early 2018, we’ve set a goal of applying for two grants per month, and we are reaching out for more corporate donations. In fact, we got an $11,000 donation from the Golden Rule Foundation! (Yay!)

We’re an organization on the move – and I wanted to share that with you!

students from Excelsior Academy in Quito, Ecuador

Second, and perhaps more importantly, we’re now accepting applications for our next grant award. If you are a high school teacher in the United States and would like to take your students on an overseas trip, come apply for funding and let us help make that trip a reality!

As a school partner, some of our requirements include:

  1. At least 40% of your students are receiving free or reduced-price lunches.
  2. Your students are aged 14-18 and enrolled in high school at the time of the program.
  3. All of your students are legal residents of the U.S.
  4. You have support from your school administrators and leadership to take your students abroad.
  5. You will be able to have at least three chaperones for your trip who will be able to pay or raise the funds for some or all of their expenses.

If you’re a teacher who would like to send your kids on an overseas trip, click here to learn more and apply. You’ll see more of our requirements and expectations there.

(If you are not a teacher but know teachers who might be interested, share tat link! Help us spread the word and reach more people and students.)

Finally, like all nonprofits, we work off of donations. During this giving season, let’s help kids experience the world and turn them into life long travelers and global citizens! The more funding we have, the more students we can send around the world.

You can do one time or reoccurring donations! You can click here to donate.

Moreover, if you sign up on a recurring basis, you’re helping to make a much more profound long-term impact by enabling us to fund trips to even more schools. Plus, you’ll also get the following benefits:

  • Exclusive announcement of our selected partner school and destination before anyone else
  • Quarterly newsletters with updates from our schools and partners
  • Lifetime 25% discount on my guidebooks
  • Members only access to follow along on the trip via photos and videos

To sign up, simply click here, select monthly and your desired donation amount. (Again, you can click here to donate.)

This summer, we sent a group of students to Ecuador. It had a profound impact on them – all because of FLYTE and how’ve you made that possible. Here’s a video of the students talking about their experience:

***In a time when everyone is closing their borders – physically and metaphorically, I think it helps teach kids there is a bigger world out there, there’s a real world application to what they are learning, and the world is full of opportunity. For kids who come from socially and economically depressed communities, this idea we take for granted is often a life-changing revelation.

So let’s change someone’s life – and the world – together.

P.S. – I’m hosting a meet-up in Bangkok on Christmas Day! Let’s grab drinks and talk travel. Details are TBD, but it will be held somewhere on Khao San Road. Follow the Facebook event for updates.

The post Let’s Send Another Set of Students Abroad (Exciting Updates from FLYTE) appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

A Year in Review (And a Needed Break)

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/year-review-break/

Matt hiking in the mountains
As dawn broke on this year, I was excited for a fresh start. Last year, I dealt with panic attacks and anxiety from taking on too many projects, a breakup that left me heartbroken, and a mini-identity crisis from settling down.

But that “greatest worst year of my life” set the stage for a year in which I shifted my priorities and focused on developing routines. On a personal level, this was a solid year.

I cut my travels in half.

I now love waking up, opening my fridge, and making breakfast.

My panic attacks are gone.

I read a lot more.

I drink less and cook more.

I joined a gym.

I developed routines.

And, while my insomnia is not gone, I’m starting to sleep a lot better.

But no year is perfect.

I replaced one addiction (traveling) with another (work). On the road, it was easy to fill a day with exciting adventures. But now that I was home, what was I going to do? I did the one thing I knew i could default to: work. And I worked all the time. I annoyed my team on the weekend by sending them work. I released more digital guides and published a new edition of my print guide, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. We changed the site’s design. I did two speaking tours. I ran three tours.

And, in the process, I burned myself and my team out.

As this year ends, I’ve come to realize that while I enjoy the stability in my life, I gave up the one thing I wanted most by slowing down: time.

Time to learn languages and start hobbies. Time to read and relax. Time to explore New York. Time to date. Time to do whatever the hell I feel like doing.

While I’m better at managing time, I still have too many projects going at once. As my friend Steve recently told me, “Matt, I got tired just hearing what you are doing. I can’t imagine what’s it like to actually do it.”

There’s a certain irony in that, while I preach the importance creating time in your life for what you want, I haven’t followed my own advice.

The truth is I’m a workaholic. I have been since I was I was a kid. I used to pull 60 hour weeks at my 9 to 5. I don’t know how not to work.

I think that’s why I love being an entrepreneur. It’s easy to always create projects and build stuff.

But I take it too an extreme: I just work. And then work some more. I write, I blog, I start new website and initiatives.

But I need to stop that. I need to free up time. The average life is only 29,000 days and, as I barrel closer and closer to the statistical half way point of my own, it’s time to live a more purposeful life.

And so, as I am off to Thailand and then New Zealand through January, I’ve decided to take a mini-break from blogging. In truth, while the panic attacks are gone, the conditions that created them still haven’t gone away.

I need to work on that.

Last year was a revelation. This year was a realization:

This new me is still a work in progress.

One thing I loved about this year was that I finally got offline while traveling. I didn’t bring work with me. I allowed myself to fully enjoy the places I went. I didn’t rush off to find an internet connection or get bothered if one didn’t exist. I want more of that. It makes me love and appreciate travel.

When I’m doing that, travel isn’t work.

This is not one of those “omg blogging is so much work so I’m taking a vacation” posts. I plan to still write and be on social media. This is taking a step back and trying to figure out how to find balance.

I’m not looking for work/life balance.

I’m just looking for balance in general. I want to stop feeling like I’m five minutes away from a panic attack.

While there are two big community announcements coming in January (We’ve been working on them for months and they are freaking awesome. They are designed to get people together in real life and talk about travel.), new blog posts will be few and far between until I return from New Zealand.

If last year taught me to stay put, this year taught me the need for balance. Multitasking is an illusion, and settling in one place made me realize just how easy it is to fall into “the busy trap” of modern life. The internet, with its 24/7/365 schedule means, without proper restrictions, it’s easy to give it your 24/7/365. And that’s not a good habit to have.

2018 will be a year of focus. It will be the year of stepping out of “the busy trap.” It’s time to learn to say no to things I don’t love and reclaim the world’s most limited and precious resource: time.

(On a final note, thank you for everything. You all are amazing and I’ve enjoyed your emails, letters, and random run ins on the street! Thank you for coming to all the meet-ups! This community is awesome and I look forward to seeing and meeting more of you in the new year. Thanks for always being there. Have a happy holidays and an amazing new year!)

P.S. – The winner of the free trip around the world contest has been picked. I’ll be announcing it tomorrow. Just have a few more details to work out Stay tuned!

P.P.S. – I’m hosting a meet-up in Bangkok on Christmas Day! Let’s grab drinks and talk travel Follow the Facebook event for updates.

The post A Year in Review (And a Needed Break) appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/year-review-break/

Matt hiking in the mountains
As dawn broke on this year, I was excited for a fresh start. Last year, I dealt with panic attacks and anxiety from taking on too many projects, a breakup that left me heartbroken, and a mini-identity crisis from settling down.

But that “greatest worst year of my life” set the stage for a year in which I shifted my priorities and focused on developing routines. On a personal level, this was a solid year.

I cut my travels in half.

I now love waking up, opening my fridge, and making breakfast.

My panic attacks are gone.

I read a lot more.

I drink less and cook more.

I joined a gym.

I developed routines.

And, while my insomnia is not gone, I’m starting to sleep a lot better.

But no year is perfect.

I replaced one addiction (traveling) with another (work). On the road, it was easy to fill a day with exciting adventures. But now that I was home, what was I going to do? I did the one thing I knew i could default to: work. And I worked all the time. I annoyed my team on the weekend by sending them work. I released more digital guides and published a new edition of my print guide, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. We changed the site’s design. I did two speaking tours. I ran three tours.

And, in the process, I burned myself and my team out.

As this year ends, I’ve come to realize that while I enjoy the stability in my life, I gave up the one thing I wanted most by slowing down: time.

Time to learn languages and start hobbies. Time to read and relax. Time to explore New York. Time to date. Time to do whatever the hell I feel like doing.

While I’m better at managing time, I still have too many projects going at once. As my friend Steve recently told me, “Matt, I got tired just hearing what you are doing. I can’t imagine what’s it like to actually do it.”

There’s a certain irony in that, while I preach the importance creating time in your life for what you want, I haven’t followed my own advice.

The truth is I’m a workaholic. I have been since I was I was a kid. I used to pull 60 hour weeks at my 9 to 5. I don’t know how not to work.

I think that’s why I love being an entrepreneur. It’s easy to always create projects and build stuff.

But I take it too an extreme: I just work. And then work some more. I write, I blog, I start new website and initiatives.

But I need to stop that. I need to free up time. The average life is only 29,000 days and, as I barrel closer and closer to the statistical half way point of my own, it’s time to live a more purposeful life.

And so, as I am off to Thailand and then New Zealand through January, I’ve decided to take a mini-break from blogging. In truth, while the panic attacks are gone, the conditions that created them still haven’t gone away.

I need to work on that.

Last year was a revelation. This year was a realization:

This new me is still a work in progress.

One thing I loved about this year was that I finally got offline while traveling. I didn’t bring work with me. I allowed myself to fully enjoy the places I went. I didn’t rush off to find an internet connection or get bothered if one didn’t exist. I want more of that. It makes me love and appreciate travel.

When I’m doing that, travel isn’t work.

This is not one of those “omg blogging is so much work so I’m taking a vacation” posts. I plan to still write and be on social media. This is taking a step back and trying to figure out how to find balance.

I’m not looking for work/life balance.

I’m just looking for balance in general. I want to stop feeling like I’m five minutes away from a panic attack.

While there are two big community announcements coming in January (We’ve been working on them for months and they are freaking awesome. They are designed to get people together in real life and talk about travel.), new blog posts will be few and far between until I return from New Zealand.

If last year taught me to stay put, this year taught me the need for balance. Multitasking is an illusion, and settling in one place made me realize just how easy it is to fall into “the busy trap” of modern life. The internet, with its 24/7/365 schedule means, without proper restrictions, it’s easy to give it your 24/7/365. And that’s not a good habit to have.

2018 will be a year of focus. It will be the year of stepping out of “the busy trap.” It’s time to learn to say no to things I don’t love and reclaim the world’s most limited and precious resource: time.

(On a final note, thank you for everything. You all are amazing and I’ve enjoyed your emails, letters, and random run ins on the street! Thank you for coming to all the meet-ups! This community is awesome and I look forward to seeing and meeting more of you in the new year. Thanks for always being there. Have a happy holidays and an amazing new year!)

P.S. – The winner of the free trip around the world contest has been picked. I’ll be announcing it tomorrow. Just have a few more details to work out Stay tuned!

P.P.S. – I’m hosting a meet-up in Bangkok on Christmas Day! Let’s grab drinks and talk travel Follow the Facebook event for updates.

The post A Year in Review (And a Needed Break) appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.