I’ve been working remotely since 2011. At that time, digital nomads were few and far between, and there wasn’t a generic term attached to this lifestyle like there is today. For me, digital nomading in 2011 involved a lot of trial and error and working things out as I went along.
Nowadays, location independence and remote work are thriving, as many people desire greater freedom than their 9-5 permits, and are taking the plunge to total personal-autonomy.
And that’s probably why you’re here… right?
Well, if you are thinking about becoming a digital nomad, you’ve come to the right place!
When it comes to starting out as a digital nomad, picking your next destination and growing your online business, it’s likely you’ve got a lot of unanswered questions. In all my years of helping explorers transition to a nomadic lifestyle, these are the questions I hear most frequently:
How much money does a digital nomad really need?
What are the pros and cons of traveling full-time?
How does society react to digital nomads?
How can we become a nomad family?
Well, ponder no longer! We’ve collated years of experience and learnings and popped them on our website. Our digital nomad blog details the ins and outs of nomadic life: from where and how to work, to spending and travel hacks.
To help you navigate our site, we’ve divided our digital nomad tips into the following four sections.
Tools & Tips for Digital Nomads
Want to learn more about the best events, gadgets and tools to facilitate your journey as a digital nomad? Read our best digital nomad tips.
Here, you’ll find destination guides for those who are in need of travel inspiration. When choosing destinations, we’ve considered the most important factors for digital nomads, for example: having a strong internet connection, great community and cheap cost of living.
If you’re thinking of taking your family on the road, make sure you stop by and read our Family Tips section. Here, you’ll find some great insights into what it’s really like to travel as a family and how you can best transition to a modern nomadic lifestyle. Take a look at our family travel tips for more inspiration.
Alongside our blog posts, we use Jey Jetter as a platform to share our favorite digital nomad resources, where you can find our preferred tools that help the smooth-running of family and work-life on the road. And, if you’re looking to strengthen your social presence, you don’t want to miss out on our 1:1 social media consulting too!
Digital Nomads, what is that?!? Don’t take me wrong, please! I do appreciate many things about Germany and being German. I think we have a great standard of living and many awesome values that help us succeed on an international level. But no one is perfect, not even the Germans! And sorry, no offence, I couldn’t help but feel a bit angry and ashamed of being German the other day…
The reason for my anger was an article that I found in the online version of the German magazine ‘Der Spiegel’. In fact, it was the comments below that article that made me stop and wonder. The young journalist described an event for Digital Nomads on a cruise ship and explained in general what a DN looks like. The article wasn’t any better or worse than most average lifestyle magazines would publish. But readers from ‘Der Spiegel’ are not average and not amused by out of the box thinking or new-wave trends. After reading 51 comments out of which 47 were all against this ‘new’, ‘hollow’ and ‘bohemian’ concept, I asked myself:
Why does alternative Thinking mostly cause Fear and Anger?
It can be uncomfortable to see someone else doing things differently. Some people can literally feel irritated when something isn’t the way they are used to. And perhaps before thinking about it with an open mind, most people tend to criticise that other person (at first). At least, that came clearly through in most of ‘Der Spiegel’-readers’ comments.
All readers expressed their discomforts about Digital Nomads and their way of living: ‘The new form of street beggars; lazy; arrogant; no sense for community, selfish’, was one chain of argument. Others commented that Digital Nomads were dreamers and would all come crawling back to Germany eventually once they’d be old, broke or affected by cancer. Others said that the Digital Nomads’ lifestyle would create the next ‘bubble’ because their type of work was only supported by other hollow online businesses.
I have read a lot about alternative ways of living, especially after I decided to not go back to my ‘old life’ and try to make life as a full-term traveller happen. And I am not the only one! In fact, there are so many people who work their way around the world and live a completely different lifestyle than most people would consider ‘normal’. It seems to be a new style of travelling and for some it turns into a lifestyle. Slow-travel and working while you are travelling has revolutionised the tourism industry and it looks like there is more to it than just a ‘phase’.
The moment I left Germany to travel the world four years ago I noticed some sort of transformation happening in my way of thinking too. I met other people, heard their stories and saw examples that inspired me. I would go as far to say that travelling de-brainwashed my brain. So, when I read the comments of my fellow German citizens the other day, it almost shocked me how conservative and intolerant the main way of thinking was. And I realised how much I’ve changed. What I am criticising here is perhaps not unique to Germany or Germans. It is probably true for many other nations too that whenever there is something unconventional it causes fear and anger in people.
Dear reader of ‘Der Spiegel’,
Please keep eating your dinner at 7pm, then watch ‘Tatort’ on TV before going to bed. Routine is great! It will lead you well-organised to the only thing that you cannot control: the end. Fair enough, everyone makes their choices in life. How about you try and live your life for once though? Or at least, let other people live their lives and let them decide for themselves how they want to do so.
You know, I get it! You probably think that you will have to ‘clean up’ after those who don’t ‘fit in’ because everyone out of the norm brings nothing else but trouble. Isn’t that right? They seem to not get what you already figured out back in high-school. But let me ask you one question: Do you sometimes wonder, if you’re only goal in life should be to fit in and follow the way that everyone goes?
Please forgive me, but I have to say that for an intellectual person your comment appears a bit narrow-minded. If you ever try to change your way, I recommend you to travel for a while: Putting yourself into new scenarios and amongst other people can sometimes help to widen your horizon – at least that’s what they….
All the best!
A Digital Nomad
Let there be travel!
Perhaps the readers of ‘Der Spiegel’ will be right in the end and all (Digital) Nomads eventually settle down somewhere and watch TV before they go to bed – who knows! But for now, let there be travel! It is already clear that there are more and more people around the globe researching about how to travel long-term. Teaching jobs or working in hostels are no longer the only options that makes it possible to go abroad.
For me it’s clear: The way of travelling has changed. And there are many people who are actually creating their lifestyles around their passion for exploring the globe. Why not be at least open towards this new way of living and welcome the positive aspects of being able to get to know all those places that this planet has to offer? Even if it means that one would have to turn into a Digital Nomad!
What is your opinion about digital nomads? Do you agree with the critics who think that this is a hollow lifestyle? Please leave a comment below, I would like to hear your thoughts!
The challenges of a full-time traveller and digital nomad
Sometimes I think about how easy my old me used to navigate through everyday life. All I had to worry about was my job and what I would want to do afterwards or during the weekends. Today, every day looks different and I constantly have to organise every single day: where to sleep, what to eat and where to go next. Of course, this is one huge part of the travel fun and why I love being a full-time traveller! There is no one else to blame but me for the sometimes very exhausting and never-ending task of travel planning. Here is how life as a full-time traveller looks like… with all its facets, the good and the bad ones.
So, the real challenge of being a (digital) nomad is probably to become bad-ass in time-management, organizing and prioritizing things in everyday life. And this can become a really tough one, especially if you’ve decided to become a travel blogger on top of that! You then also have to cut out some time to write about all the things that you’ve just ticked off your sightseeing list. But don’t you worry, it’s all doable! Helpful sites like JetsetterJobs give you nowadays at least the option to search for local jobs in one place – one point on my to-do-list has become less stressful thanks to that! And then, there is always the advice: Just sit back and relax every once in a while!!
When I have these moments of exhaustion, I tell myself to remember how it was before I started to become a full-time traveller. And that puts me quickly back into perspective. Back then it was a lot worse than now because usually, the constant feeling of being exhausted would not go away. So I’ve decided to look at it that way: I think, it’s a natural reaction to feel exhausted every now and then when you are doing some serious travelling. But I know by now that I would miss the road a lot more than my sofa and blanket which I usually imagine in those weak moments. What I am trying to say is that you have to be organised no matter what you do in life, even if it’s “JUST” travelling.
Plan your trip ahead of time!
It’s one big piece of learning that I can share with you after having travelled full-time for four years: make a travel plan before you start. If you invest this extra bit of time in front of your computer before you leave for a new destination, you will save a lot of time and money when you get there! At least try to get an idea about the accommodation prices, so that you can negotiate confidently on arrival. We don’t always book ahead but knowing the average price helps a lot in order to not accept foolishly high prices that mostly get offered to people who arrive with their luggage in their hands….
Then try to think about what you want to do and what not when you get there. Keep in mind, everyone has a different taste. So when you read about “must-sees” in guidebooks or on travel sites, be sceptical…It sometimes really only means that there was a passionate writer behind that list. In the end, you need to decide for yourself and choose the things that personally interest you the most. Skip that church or museum if you’d rather spend another day hiking in the mountains, for example. When you travel full-time it’s so much more worth to go slow and see half of the things in one place in order to really enjoy your stay. No regrets skipping things!
A Typical Day in a Life of a Nomadic Travel Blogger:
In case it sounds like a nomadic lifestyle is pure fun and all about non-stop sight-seeing, there is an intent to describe a typical day. Although it’s not very easy to do so, there is hardly one day that looks like the other…
WAKE UP! I usually get up between 7 and 8 o’clock in the morning. This might sound obvious but I still put it out there: We all have to get out of bed! That’s right, no matter what we do in life, we all have to get up and make it happen. If you are a nomad like me, your time is under your own management and sleeping in is a no go (with some occasional exceptions of course J). But sleep-ins only mean that you are losing time to achieve your goals. So, nope, get up and exercise and afterwards, you deserve a big breakfast.
LET’S GET SOME WORK DONE: Around 9am I open my computer and spent a couple of hours online: answering emails, being active on preferably all my social media accounts, checking house sitting options for our next destination(s), browsing volunteering positions and trying to find a perfect route with stops in places that are of interest to us; I try to skype and keep in touch with as many friends and family members as possible. Apologies for this part, I sometimes suck in keeping up with my email correspondence, but I do love and miss you all!
LUNCHTIME: Later on comes one of my favourite parts of travelling: go out to find some local food. I love to get to know different flavours and I am always interested in typical dishes from the places that we visit.
PLAY HARD/WORK HARD: The afternoon and evening is usually the time for exploring, going to the beach, doing some sight-seeing or simply more working on my online projects. It really depends on where we are. If we, for example, stay for more than one or two days in one place, we usually use this part of the day to get to know the location or do some sort of typical activity there. In the case of a longer stay, we usually spend our afternoons and evenings working. Yep, that’s right!
Are you made for a nomadic life and travel full-time?
You never know before you try it! Isn’t that a saying? Here is the thing: Before I started out to travel the world, I had no idea that there was such a thing called ‘Digital Nomad Lifestyle’. Only after a bit of researching for options to keep travelling and after meeting people on the road, I realised that there is already a huge community of people around the world that live according to this (new) concept of living. I had no idea how ‘normal’ it sounds to some people who have already been following this lifestyle for some time. I’m so naive sometimes! And I would go as far as to say that this alternative way of thinking will be a new era and has become a new standard of living for a considerable amount of people. It is connected to the fact that the internet gives us the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world. And why not do so if you can!?
Here is a list of the Top 10 Digital Hotspots according to DNX Global:
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
HO CHI MINH CITY (SAIGON), VIETNAM
GRAN CANARIA, SPAIN
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
SAN FRANCISCO, USA
Open-minded and creative people who work online and let go of certain paradigms that they were taught by society, take the decision to live a life according to their own terms. Especially people who love to travel embrace the fact that there are certain jobs where it doesn’t matter where in the world you are. This is a big movement, I believe, and I think it will revolutionise the entire work/career standards. Actually, I think it is already happening, considering that there are co-working spaces around the world that are built especially for Digital Nomads. Conferences, Seminars and Workshops attract a huge crowd in many places around the globe. If you consider working remotely while travelling the world, check out the following two pages where you find events to connect with like-minded people and companies:
Honestly, I don’t know. Perhaps it all will have to come to an end one day. I like to think about it differently though. Perhaps also because I no longer feel like I would ‘fit in’. Home seemed to be the only option, it was a safe place where all made sense. Everything far and unknown sounded always a bit too far and too scary. Society used to be familiar, standards used to be acceptable and the ‘common way’ made perfect sense to me. But this all turned upside down. Today it sometimes scares me more when thinking about going back to a ‘normal’ life than packing my bags again without knowing how the next destination looks like.
Ever since I bought that one-way ticket though and decided to travel full-time, I feel happy. I am chasing the sun because I hate the cold and I am addicted to seeing what else is out there. What helps me a lot when I have a moment of exhaustion, is to appreciate the wonderful and unique moments that I get from travelling. Every time when I see the ocean, climb a mountain, visit thousands of years old monument or look into the eyes of smiling people from different countries, I feel rewarded. In these moments I tell myself that I would not want to change a thing in my life. They get me going and show me, that I am doing exactly what I love the most in life.
I am fighting for this alternative road that I chose four years ago. I’m convinced that one has to choose the life that makes the most sense to oneself, no matter what others say and no matter how challenging it sometimes can be. But for all you wanderlust souls out there: Keep moving, as long as it keeps you being moved every once in a while!
Happy Travels to you all! And share this article if you know someone who would appreciate it! Thanks!
To travel long-term is one of the biggest dreams of many people. Wouldn’t it be great to see the whole world before we die?!? But money seems to be the biggest issue and the number one limitation when it comes to travelling. It shouldn’t be though, as there are so many ways to stay on the road without being rich! If you’re eager to explore and travelling is your passion, for sure you’ll accept a bit of an effort in order to reach your goal and live your dream, right?! Check out my first post about how you can travel long-term here!
Gorgeous sunset in Mahahual, a tiny Mexican fisher town close to the border of Belize.
What is it that stops you from following your dream?
Whoever I meet on the road seems to be in a similar situation: Life back home is ok, all sorted out: a job, a house/apartment, family/friends as well as the daily hobbies/leisure time activities. Great! But apparently for some of us wandering souls out there, this seems not enough. If you are happier on the road than in a routined life, you can probably relate to the following: if only money wasn’t an issue, we would all be traveling the world forever, right?
Life back home seems to make sense, though. Everyone chooses this way that society defines to be the ‘correct’ one. If no one would follow that system, the world would be a different place, for sure, and economy would turn into a very hollow concept. Before I take it too far, I should say that I don’t want to change the system or pretend that everything other than conventional is automatically better. In fact, I think we all should decide for ourselves what is ‘right’ or best. And if that means that you don’t fit into the conventional system, you should at least be given enough creative space to develop your own way of living. Having said that, let’s suppose your mission in life is similar to mine:
MY MISSION IN LIFE: TRAVEL LONG-TERM AND SEE THE WHOLE WORLD
I haven’t had one conversation in my four years of travelling in which other people tell me that they do not want to travel long-term. ‘I wish I could do this forever’, is one of the most heard sentences in these conversations. But they’re running out of savings and want to go back to make more money till the next time when they get their days off from work. Eventually all have to go back and return to a life that is determined by a job and paying bills. Some lucky ones have found their dream-jobs and really don’t mind going back. But it strikes me how many people I talk to are actually unhappy.
Wouldn’t it be great to find something that allows you to travel long-term whenever you want to and for how long you like? Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t actually! Do what you love and try to make money out of it! It might be a bit more difficult or take you longer to set it up, because you have to become creative yourself, but it can’t be harder than following orders from other people or working every day 8 hours in something that you don’t enjoy! Trust me, there is always a way if you follow your real passion.
Do material things really make you happy?
How to travel long-term and turn it into your lifestyle:
First of all, get rid of everything that you really don’t need: sell the ‘things’ that you bought only for that short exciting moment of pleasure, such as clothes, jewellery, decoration for your house etc. All these things that you would leave behind if your house was on fire and you’d have to run away. Make a list! Evaluate the list and start over, for sure you can find more things in the basement! Selling it all through eBay or other online marketplaces might give you the necessary cash to get started.
Tip: Keep your apartment and rent it out in order to see if you enjoy life on the road at all or until you decide to travel long-term on serious terms.
Once you are on the mission to explore a new country, your main challenge is probably to keep your costs low. Travel more for less in an enjoyable way, right? I travel on a budget but never feel poor or almost every time I want to do something, I decide in favour for it. There is no worse feeling than missing out on something that is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! And the idea is to enjoy travelling without feeling guilty about the money you spend. And since you will be on the road for quite some time, beach bumming tends to become quite boring after a while. So, most people don’t mind to pick up a job – if that means that you can enjoy your sunset by the beach on a regular basis.
Luckily free Wi-Fi has become a standard facility in most places, and sometimes you can get lucky and even work at the beach!
How to make money on the road?
When I realised that I don’t want to go back into the 9-5 job routine, I started to do whatever it takes to travel long-term: I did a lot of research on work visas, ways to make money online and how to safe on your expenses. All I thought of was how to keep doing what I was doing. And it all came down to four major costs/spending areas: Accommodation, food, activities and transportation. I thought, if I can figure out how to live for free, eat like locals and not like a tourist, save on activities and transport, my costs will be very low and don’t need much money. So here is my momentary model of living:
Step 1: Live for free through a work-exchange:
Today we try to never pay for accommodation, ideally not even for food (which is mostly harder though but also a lot cheaper). There are some great websites that help you find voluntary positions that you don’t need a work visa for and where you still have plenty of time during the day to explore or do whatever you like. For me, the 4-5 hours per day in the morning leave me plenty of time to work on my own projects in the afternoon and I have sorted out my major expense, the cost of living:
Step 2: Cash up with a local job in countries where you can get a work permit!
In my case, I started off trying out different jobs in tourism and marketing which I found in each place by talking to the local people. In Chile, Australia and Canada I got a work visa and in these countries I made enough money to be able to travel again for longer periods afterwards. I recently found out about a fairly new website called JetSetterJobs. Here people like me can search for casual work anywhere in the world. Some jobs are paid, some are on a voluntary/exchange basis. Check it out, it makes your life so much easier when you travel long-term:
In general though, you need to do the legwork once you’ve arrived in your new destination. There are very few ways to find a job online in remote places. That’s why I find it a really great idea to set up a platform like the one from JetSetterJobs.com! These guys understood the need for a platform that helps nomads to find jobs easier!
Sometimes you’ll find a really fun job not necessarily behind a computer desk! 😀
Step 3: Use your free-time in order to build up your own online-business and become location independent!
Even though I usually try to make money on the road (whenever I legally can), I also always keep my eyes open for freelance jobs, especially in the phases where I don’t work locally. These sorts of freelance jobs such as helping to build websites, translations jobs, copywriting and all sorts of marketing projects are great to move around and not spend too much time in one place. Here is a few example pages that I regularly scan:
Now that you sorted out your living costs and realised that you can actually live comfortably on a casual income, you might want to take your lifestyle to the next level. Who wouldn’t want to stop doing those little jobs and rather spend time at the beach or hiking in the mountains!? And that is the key if you travel long-term: Organise and plan well every step ahead. All my time and efforts go towards the goal to see the whole world. The timeframe doesn’t matter, as long as the journey is enjoyable. So, since I don’t have any regular bills like I used to have when living in one place, all I earn goes directly towards my travels. That means, with the money I make I can finance my life on the road without worrying about fixed costs.
But at the moment I am building up my own online-business of which I hopefully soon will be able to live off. Being fairly new to the blogging scene I can not yet speak for myself, but I’ve learned a lot and know that there are many bloggers out there that make profit from their websites. All you need is a product that is in demand or find a niche and position yourself as an expert. If you travel long-term, you gain great knowledge of all the travel related questions other people might have. I know how scary it can be and how many trial-and-error situations one has to go through before one figures out the challenges of a nomadic lifestyle. So stay tuned and I will hopefully be able to share soon more about my business idea…
Good luck to you all and happy travels!!! If you have any questions about how to travel long-term, please leave a comment below and I am more than happy to contact you.
Use Cancun as your base and explore its surrounding highlights!
It’s very cheap to fly (from almost anywhere) to Cancun. I don’t know why but it seems like Cancun has some major flight deals going on at the moment. And Cancun itself has some attractions that you shouldn’t miss when starting your journey through Mexico. Check out my post on things to do in Cancun! After 3-4 days in Cancun, you should be ready to go on and explore the surrounding area! There are many sites that you can easily reach from Cancun, either on your own or with an organised tour. We did a bit of both and here are our highlights of the Mexican states Quintana Roo and Yucatan:
Day trips from Cancun #1: Isla Mujeres
We did a Day-trip from Cancun on a Catamaran to Isla Mujeres with a company called attractions. The tour starts at 10 am in the Marina of Cancun. You can get there easily by bus both from the centre and from your hotel on the ‘Zona Hotelera’. It’s the bus #R1 that gets you there and you need to get off at the Temptation Resort. Once you get off the bus all the tour operators have their people standing on the street in order to lead everyone to the right boat. Make sure, you’ll be there 45 minutes before the tour starts to pay your Ocean Marine Park fee (10 USD) and do the check-in to board the boat.
Once you’re on board, the catamaran takes you in a slow and relaxed pace towards Isla Mujeres. Halfway there, you get an hour of snorkelling time, all the equipment is included. Depending on the weather conditions you can get lucky and snorkel at MUSA, the famous underwater museum! We were not lucky that day because it was too windy. Instead, we stopped at one of the reefs on the way to the island.
The tour includes ‘open bar’! This means you can sip cocktails all day on the catamaran and also when you get to the island where you have lunch. It goes without saying that it turns into a very casual and happy tour. Once you get to the island and after your snorkel stop (about 45 minutes in the water), you enjoy a delicious lunch buffet in a nice beach club. Remember, you can always choose to drink some water, and you definitely should do that in between your Mojitos! That reminds me: Bring sunscreen and a hat for the time on the catamaran and also when you walk around on the island.
After your lunch break, you have 1 1/2 hours of free time to explore the little island. Most people rent golf carts in order to get around and see the island – it’s 7km diameter lets you do that easily in an hour. We forgot to bring our driver’s license, so we were not able to rent one of the golf carts. Instead, we negotiated a fair price with a local taxi driver to show us the island. Which he did for 100 pesos (roughly 8 USD). Some of the people from our boat chose to stay at the beach and simply relax in the shade for some time.
In the harbour area, there are also cute little gift shops where you can find souvenirs, clothes and jewellery. We resisted buying things, as we always remember how heavy our bags can become if we get carried away…
By 5:30 pm you are back in the harbour of Cancun. The tour includes all snorkel gear, food, drinks and a lot of fun! We were lucky and got to go for free because we helped our hostel (Mezcal Hostel) to sell the tour to the hostel guests. But in general you get it for 45 USD and I can recommend it for anyone who is looking for a fun day on a catamaran and in order to get an idea of Isla Mujeres.
Day trips from Cancun #2: Playa del Carmen
From Cancun, most people head down south the coast or the so-called Riviera Maya. The beautiful coastline boasts with many nice beaches and stops on the way. One popular place to visit is Playa del Carmen. The small touristic town is just a one-hour bus ride south of Cancun. You can get there in a ‘colectivo’ (minivan) for as cheap as 34 pesos, or for 62 pesos if you prefer the bigger ADO buses.
Playa del Carmen has become a trendy place and has a vibrant nightlife but in a more centred location compared to Cancun: you live where all the activities are and reach mostly everything by foot or a short taxi ride. The main hotel/hostel area is also close to the beach, so you can easily reach your day activities, such as snorkelling, diving, shopping or sightseeing.
We visited ‘Playa’ two times; the first time before we stayed just for one night and hopped over to Cozumel (a little island that you can read more about further down in this post). And the second time we stayed for two nights and came back for a very cool music event (see my review about the party location which was actually the hostel where we stayed at Hostel 3B).
In general Playa del Carmen is a hotspot for festivals and concerts with musicians and DJs from around the world. Especially in December and January during the ‘high season; many international artists come and attract thousands of people from around the world. One major event takes place in January 2016, the BPM: The Festival lasts for 10 days, with over 150 DJs and 50 events. The program is split into daytime and nighttime and is hosted by different record labels and promoters across various venues in Playa del Carmen, including beach clubs, nightclubs and even underground restaurants.
Day trips from Cancun #3: Tulum
Further south, you will reach Tulum. This place is not only popular for the tourist that seeks Mayan evidence and wants to visit some of the ruins in the area. Tulum is also known for its variety of eco-stores, fashion and art. It attracts tourists who are looking to spend a bit more in order to get some higher standards of food and products.
When I went to visit Tulum, I couchsurfed and stayed at a private house in one of the outer areas of the city centre. But I was still only 15 minutes walking distance from the main street. During my two-day stay, I visited the ruins and strolled around the quirky little streets.
When you visit the ruins in Tulum, you can take public transport right to the entrance. It takes 15 minutes from the centre and costs 15 pesos to get there. You just let the driver know that you want to go to ‘Las Ruinas’ and they let you hop off. The park entrance is a short walk away from the highway where you can buy your ticket (62 Mexican pesos). Once you are inside the park area, you simply follow the signs to see the ruins. The beauty of this site is its location, it is right next to the ocean and some of the ruins are above the cliffs.
Day trips from Cancun #4: Cozumel
I really liked this little island. Some people go there only for the day, but there are a lot of things to do, so you can easily spend a few days. We went to Cozumel because of its dive spots. So we stayed two nights and spend one day exploring the world’s second largest reef (after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef) and the little island’s ‘backyard’…
Choose your dive company wisely! There are many options in Cozumel and in this case, it’s definitely not worth saving money as you depend on the company’s selection from the many different spots. I wish I had known that beforehand, as we chose one of the cheaper ones that offered us a special deal…unfortunately though, only one of the two dives were ok. At the second dive spot, our guide got lost and we couldn’t even find the reef…there was nothing but sand to see. When we went snorkelling we saw a lot more fish… 😀
Day trips from Cancun #4: Chichén Itzá
The Mexican Peninsula Yucatan is rich in Mayan cultural sights. Its main attraction is probably Chichén Itzá, a world-famous complex of Mayan ruins. A massive step pyramid known as El Castillo dominates the 6.5-sq.-km-ancient city, which thrived from around 600 A.D. to the 1200s. Graphic stone carvings survive at structures like the ball court, Temple of the Warriors and the Wall of the Skulls. Everyone who visits the state of Yucatan tries to fit in the most popular former Mayan city. The ruins of Chichén Itzá are spread out on a large area that you’ll be able to visit within 3-4 hours. Remember to bring water and sun protection – you are in the middle of the jungle!
The place has become a big attraction and is compared to other cultural sites the least magical one. For one, the masses of tourists who walk around the national park can be distracting and it’s hard to get a good picture of the impressive temples without other people standing in front of you. And on the other hand, there are many vendors inside the area who want to sell their souvenirs. They got creative and try to get your attention with all sorts of things, like panther sounds, reminding you that you are in the middle of the jungle. If you are interested in souvenirs you’re better off buying them in Cancun though or anywhere else – the prices in Chichén Itzá are double as high.
We went on a guided tour this time, which we enjoyed for free as part of our hostel volunteer program. The tour started at 9 am in Cancun and brought as back, from Chichén Itza to Cancun, in the evening. We went in a big air-conditioned bus towards Chichén Itzá. On the way, we stopped at one of the cenotes and swam in its cold fresh water.
Once we got to the archaeological site of Chichén Itzá we strolled around on the huge area. The pre-Hispanic city was built by the Maya people and is completely built with stone tools.
All in all, it is a very intense tour because it’s a long day (we came back around 9 pm) and it was very hot but definitely very great to see such a unique historic Mexican site.
Day trips from Cancun #5: Isla Holbox
Going up north, Holbox Island is 2 hours away from Cancun. You can reach it by bus and after a short ferry ride. Its name is pronounced ‘Holbosh’. This is a little gem, where you don’t need to plan anything at all. It is a place to just be. It’s hassle-free with a very remote touch. The streets are not paved and you see horses in use to get around. And when it rains, it can become a bit difficult to cross the streets…
The main plaza is the centre of Holbox from which you reach the beach by foot in 5 minutes and all the restaurants, shops and bars are located around too. If you go, bring a book or simply enjoy peaceful hours walking along the shore. You can do tours, but all they offer to see is right in front of you: birds and more beaches. Every day you can buy fresh fish from the local fishermen that sell their catch off the beach. Or if you don’t fancy cooking, then choose one of the restaurants and enjoy fresh seafood with ocean view – we loved it!
Have you been on the Yucatan Peninsula? What was your highlight? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear your story!
NOT DONE READING YET?
If you have more than just a few days time for visiting Cancún, I recommend reading my travel guide for the city. Click HERE to read the post.
Heading towards Belize after your stay on the Yucatan Peninsula? Read what we loved best about this country.
This post is going to be a review about our hostel in Playa del Carmen, but it is also about traveling and electronic music. Since 3 years I have been traveling with a passionate electronic music fan, perhaps now it’s time to introduce my travel buddy and partner in life before I start with my review:
So whenever there is a concert on our way, he is the one who leads the way. Last Sunday we travelled to Playa del Carmen to see a DJ from London, Laura Jones. We stayed right where the concert took place: Hostel 3B.
Here is my review about our stay at Hostel 3B in Playa del Carmen:
First of all, it’s the staff that makes this place a very nice place to stay. Everyone is super-friendly and helpful and it feels like visiting friends when you arrive. For a long-term traveller like me, this is something really important that I appreciate a lot. It’s nice to feel welcomed, so that you’ll be able to relax and feel comfortable and that’s what happened at Hostel 3B!
Accommodation: My room
The hostel offers different room types that you can choose from: 2 female dorms, 4 mixed dorms and 5 private rooms. The hostel’s slogan is ‘Chic & Cheap’ and they stand by their word. It’s a very stylish place to stay and the price is ok for a touristic hotspot like Playa del Carmen. The dorms are between 16-20 USD depending on the season and privates range from 50 to 67 USD. My room was for girls only with 8 beds. It was a very spacious, clean and friendly room with an ensuite bathroom with shower. The beds are big and have comfortable mattresses. I really liked the room.
The highlight of this hostel is for sure its lounge area. Every Sunday they organize concerts in their rooftop bar that has a swimming pool. The entrance is free for hostel guests and open for other people too. This makes it a bit messy when it comes to the fact that everyone has access to the hostel’s facilities and you can literally access all areas. The good thing is that the rooms have locks, so no one can enter your room without a key. Also, the lockers are big enough to store all your valuables in case someone enters.
Events: Rooftop bar with swimming pool
It’s a great international audience that you’ll find in Playa del Carmen. That’s why most locations have no problems in organizing events with famous DJs from around the world. Hostel 3B has it’s own event location on top of the building. The lounge is called SOS Lounge and organises great music events on Sundays. We took a video from that night with DJ Laura Jones. Here is the link to my YouTube Channel: Click here to watch the short video of the party.
Playa del Carmen is the ‘Ibizza’ of Mexico – a hotspot for parties and concerts with musicians and DJs from around the world. Especially in December and January many international artists come and attract thousands of people from around the world. One major event takes place in January, the BPM.
Facilities: What you get during your stay
Like in most established places, Wi-Fi and breakfast are the basic standards that you will also find at Hostel 3B. The internet connection is good if you are on the bottom or at the rooftop lounge level. It doesn’t work in the rooms though. The breakfast includes coffee, fruit and toast. It’s basic but and similar to most of the hostels that we have stayed so far in Mexico.
There are two areas to hang out during the day: the entrance area that is connected with a small kitchen where you can prepare your food. And the rooftop lounge area that is open during the day if you want to take a dip in the pool or relax on the sofa beds.
The area: Playa del Carmen
The hostel is located in the central area of Playa del Carmen. If you want to read more about the area and the things to do in the surrounding area, check out my blog post about ‘Day-trips from Cancun’.
• Clean and trendy rooms/facilities
• Friendly staff
• Wi-Fi and breakfast included
• Free events on Sundays open to the public
• International DJs
So, whoever is looking for a place to party and meet people from around the world in a nice and friendly ambience is perfect at Hostel 3B. I would go back!
DID YOU LIKE THIS REVIEW OF MY HOSTEL IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN? Have you been to Playa del Carmen? Feel free to like, share and comment on it!!! Happy travels, y’all! 😀
Ok, let’s face it: in order to become a successful travel blogger, you need to invest some time! But that’s true for everything in life. Good things take time to ripen. Is blogging not your thing? Then check out if teaching English might be your way to become a location-independent digital nomad.
Back to blogging though.
I am writing this post after only three months of blogging. Yep. I know what you’re thinking, she’s a newbie and already gives other people advice!? But, before you start, I think, I did a few things right because I already received two Awards in such a short time! Woohoo!
The first one was in September when I got nominated for the Liebster Award. This award is from bloggers who nominate other bloggers if they think they’re awesome. And the second one was even more surprising: I opened my mailbox and found a message from Tripedia that I was amongst their Top 10: Best New Travel Bloggers! Wow!
And this made me write this post in order to help you to become a successful travel blogger too! So let’s dig into it!
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7 Tips On How to Become a Successful Travel Blogger:
Love what you do!
First of all, if you want to become a successful travel blogger, you should really enjoy writing and love whatever you do. If you are not 100% satisfied with the result, don’t publish it. Better wait for a day or two, then go over it again until you are happy with your result. You should be proud of your blog posts because if YOU are enjoying them it will show in your texts and most likely someone else likes them too!
Go out there and write about it!
I know what you are thinking, this is obvious if you love travelling and want to become a successful travel blogger. But even though this sounds very basic, it is a very important thing to keep in mind: don’t start a blog and then after a while become lazy and stop writing about your adventures. All the initial work you put on your site to get your blog started would be for nothing. So keep your content flowing!
Use Social Media
Every successful travel blogger uses social media to support their website. I mainly use Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter to get traffic to my blog. It’s great to connect all your posts and share them on your different social media channels. With services like Hootsuite or Buffer, it is easy to schedule posts and share your content on different platforms at the same time. This is really helpful and saves you a lot of time! If you want to learn how to strategically use social media marketing to drive traffic to your blog, join my Facebook group for support, encouragement and networking!
Read, read, read but produce your own content!
The more you read other peoples’ blogs, you will learn how blogging actually works. It’s a great way to get inspired and apply one of the infinite options out there to your personal style. Just make sure that you never copy and paste someone else’s content. This is not only bad for your Karma, it is also bad for your site’s Google ranking and will not make you a successful travel blogger. Google will only rank pages high if they have original and relevant content! Of course, you can (AND SHOULD!) share also other people’s content, watch this video on how to schedule curated content!
Know your audience!
If you want to become a successful travel blogger, make sure you find a niche and focus on whatever makes you special. I write for people that are sick and tired of their 9-5 work-life routine and want to turn into digital nomads. For my audience, it is obviously interesting to know how to save money while travelling, what helped me to break with the conventional lifestyle and which longterm travel tips I have, so they won’t ever have to go back home (if that’s their aim).
Let other people see the world through your eyes
The best part about blogging is really that you can dedicate your time to what you are passionate about. I love the fact that I found a way to travel the world and it was way overdue for me to put these stories on “paper”. I know that it is not for everyone or my way might seem extreme to most other people, but everyone finds it exciting and I am happy to share what I see out there in the world. When I tell other people about my travels and about all the wonderful places that are on this planet, I feel a special energy! And it is great to hear that my story is for some people an inspiration. This motivates me every day when I get up and it keeps me going with what I am doing right now.
These are just a few blogging tips from a successful travel blogger like me. Make sure to subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already to get more news and updates on how to be able to travel full-time and work remotely. Good luck and happy blogging!
Did you like this post? Let me know down below in the comments if you have other tips on how to become a successful travel blogger? Why and how did you start blogging?
Not done reading yet?
If you are interested in the digital nomad lifestyle, check out this post on the must-have gadgets that I can’t live without!
And if you like to connect with other digital nomads, make sure to grab a ticket to one of these digital nomad events in 2018!
For more tips on how to start and how to maintain a sustainable travel blog and digital nomad lifestyle, visit my resources page!
A couple of weeks ago, sorry it took me so long, Portia from Migrant Muse nominated me for the Liebster Award. It’s an award for bloggers to recognize other bloggers and to show which ones they think do a great job. Therefore I take it as a compliment and appreciate this recognition from fellow travel blogger Portia at Migrant Muse for the nomination!
I have to be honest, before the nomination I have never heard of the Liebster Award, but I don’t mind to be amongst “favourite” bloggers (which would be a rough translation of the word “Liebster” from German). In the end it is great for new bloggers like me to be discovered and connect with other bloggers. And I feel proud and honored that my blog was already noticed after just a few weeks in the bloggin’ biz 😀
Ok so there are a few rules that are required with the Liebster award and they are as follows:
Write a blog post thanking the blogger who nominated you for the Liebster Award, and link back to his or her blog. In this case to myself aka Jey Jetter at www.jeyjetter.com
Answer the 11 questions that I ask you below
Nominate 10 bloggers of your own, with under 600 followers, who you think are awesome and deserve of this honour
Create 11 questions for your nominees
Display the Liebster Award logo on your page
List these rules in your post
Notify your nominees and provide a link to your post so that they know what to do
Once you’re done, return to this post and comment with the link to your post so I can check out your answers too
So here are my answers to the 11 questions from Portia:
Why did you decide to start a travel blog?
After having travelled around the world for 4 years, I accumulated so many pictures and stories that it’s almost a waste not to share them 😉 Well, seriously speaking I only started recently with my blog because before that I thought no one would care about “just ANOTHER” travel blog. So, I never documented or wrote about my travels until recently. What changed my mind in the end, was the constant messages from friends and family back home that showed a big interest in my newly found lifestyle. Everyone seemed to be impressed that I “just do it” and wanted to know how and why and where…so I figured, perhaps it is finally time to start a blog and write about everything that has happened ever since I left home. I like the idea that some people might get inspired by my stories and lose their fear of taking the first step.
What do you currently do for a living?
Well, a combination of three things: I am a traveller, which keeps my soul alive. I am a wwoofer, which lets me live and eat for free. And I am a freelance PR Consultant and Translator, which help me finance my trips.
What do you love and hate most about blogging?
Honestly, I love sharing what I am experiencing because it is wonderful to write about what you just did. It’s a great way to document your life but also to make it even livelier: you live the moments twice and when I look through my pictures in order to select them for my blog posts, it makes me happy and it shows me over and over again why I am travelling. I hate really nothing about blogging so far – but I have literally started blogging 6 posts ago…so perhaps you ask me next year again 🙂
Have you received any negative reactions from your blog?
Nope! So far I haven’t had enough readers, I guess 🙂
Where do you plan to travel to next and why?
HAWAII: I am really excited about this! In actually exactly one week, I will be going to Hawaii. Why? Because it’s one of the paradise destinations that I have always wanted to visit. And at the moment I am on Vancouver Island, so I figured, I am very close to Hawaii…and flights are cheap: CAD 300 return! I couldn’t resist!
What has been your most memorable or inspirational trip and why?
My around the world trip four years ago. When I started my trip I had no idea that travelling would turn into my lifestyle…that’s why I chose the following subtitle for my blog: “The road of no return…or how I started travelling on serious terms”. It really changed my life, my way of thinking and I guess me as a person too. I learned a lot about myself and about life in general. It was as if I opened the door to a completely new world with new options and suddenly there appeared new perspectives and ways in front of me – I felt my horizon had widened after that solo trip.
Are you involved in any travel blogger networks or groups? If so, which ones?
Yes, I joined a bunch of groups on Facebook: Girls Who Travel, Nomads, Travel Bloggers Network, We Travel We Blog, Awesome Bloggers, Girls vs Globe, The Aspiring Travel Writer, Matadornetwork
Have you gone on any press trips or written any sponsored posts or products?
Not yet, not yet!! Perhaps after this award…anyone? 🙂
How would you describe the way you travel?
I travel with an open mind, always happy to fit in spontaneous changes and I never have too many (if any!) reservations made in advance. I like it that way, because then I can react more freely to upcoming ideas when meeting other people. Mostly I travel to connect with people from the places I travel to. I love learning about their cultures and hearing about their stories and their opinions. That’s why I try to stay out of hostels and prefer to do woofing or couchsurfing. In hostels you meet travellers and tend to hang out with them instead of getting in touch with local people.
What do you think sets you apart from other bloggers?
I haven’t really defined my whole blogging concept yet, but I know I want to inspire people, so every time I post it’s almost as if I am writing for other people. I want to encourage them and hopefully get them out on the road too. Why? Because I know from experience that the only valuable things in life are actually experiences and travelling creates a whole lot of them. Life is too short to not live every day as if it was your last.
What are your goals for your blog and what are you hoping to achieve from blogging?
All I want is make travelling more approachable for other people. Before I started travelling I didn’t know that it would actually be possible the way I am doing it. So, I am hoping to give those who read my blog and are hesitant to change their lives into a nomadic lifestyle a push and motivation so that they can start to create their own awesome journey.
And now it’s your turn! I’d like to nominate the following bloggers for the Liebster Award:
And these are my questions for the Liebster Award nominees:
What is your biggest challenge while travelling?
How did you find blogging in the beginning and now?
How did you create your website/blog?
What’s the concept of your blog?
Have you thought about or are you already blogging for a living?
What is your favourite country/place you have been to?
What is a must have in your carry on/suitcase?
What was your longest trip that you have taken?
Which places are your top 3 on your bucket list?
Which nationality do you find is the most traveller type?
Where would you never go back to and why?
I am looking forward to reading all of your answers! The Liebster Award is a wonderful way to give and take: you will get a bit of extra attention on your site and can help some fellow blogger to gain the same. Also, it’s a nice way to give your readers some extra information about yourself and your blog. So join the Liebster Award circle!
Thanks again to Portia at Migrant Muse for including me in the Liebster Award nomination and happy blogging everyone!
In January I watched the news and panicked! Ok…wait!! This sounds wrong, I mean I was happy to hear that the US changed their Cuba sanctions. But I knew that these changes would mean the beginning of a process that I did not want to see…Don’t take me wrong, I understand that Cuba needs this change (given that it will bring positive effects for the Cuban people, hopefully!!), but from a travellers point of view this was shocking news! I wanted to see Cuba BEFORE Mcdonald’s and Starbucks arrive!
So, with sweaty hands I sent off a message to a friend who just asked me if I had any travel plans for the upcoming spring… I did now! Let’s go to Cuba ASAP!! We booked our flights for March anxious to get there in time before the Americans would 🙂 Puhhh, and we just arrived in time….actually when we got there it looked very much the way it must have looked for the past decades: old cars, old buildings, horse carriages, rusty bicycles, hardly any internet access, regulated wages etc. We made it and saw Cuba in its very surreal and unchanged state. Check out our travel tips for Cuba!
With 3 million inhabitants, Cuba’s capital is busy and full of life. Havana is also the starting point for most travellers, even though there are some other cities that operate internationally. For example, from Canada you can fly into Varadero, where you’ll find one of the most popular beaches in Cuba. We didn’t go there though because it sounded very much developed and crowded… Anyways, in Havana we learned a lot about the local mix of cigars, rum and music. In combination with all those vintage cars that are still driving the streets of Havana, it gives this city a special vibe.
There are two currencies in Cuba: CUC and Moneda Nacional. CUC (Cuban Universal Currency) is for tourists, so if you want to pay local prices go change your CUCs and get Moneda Nacional. For us (in March 2015) the value was as follows: 1 Euro=1,05 CUC –> 1 CUC=25 Moneda Nacional. You can get Moneda Nacional in a bank or money exchange places.
If you are travelling on a budget like we did and don’t want to stay in hotels, don’t think of the usual hostel as an alternative! In Cuba you’ll find the so-called “Casa Particulares”. This means that some Cubans have a licence to rent out a room in their house. They offer usually bed and breakfast, some even cook you lunch and dinner if you don’t like to eat out. In some places we actually ate better food cooked from our host mummas than in a restaurant. So, I’d say it is worth trying their cooking at least sometimes. This way you also support your host family rather than a restaurant, which we found a nice way to say thank you for their (VERY awesome) hospitality.
In general I would say that Cuba is a very safe country to travel through. But like everywhere else you have to be smart and alert about your things. Plus, it has become a “sport” of some Cubans to make some extra money on the side with tourists. So, for example booking rooms in advance can turn out to be used as such an opportunity: We booked our very first “Casa particular” for Havana online, just because we thought it would be hassle free to arrive in Havana knowing an address to go to…well, it usually is more comfortable not having to look around with your backpack on your shoulders after a long flight and perhaps a jet lag, but in our case it actually took us longer to get to the final destination…. The reason: Our reservation was apparently made by the owner of the house, who was gone on holiday for a few weeks and who must have messed up our booking.
So, even though we showed our email confirmation to the couple who took care of the place while the owner was away, they said they had never heard of our reservation and therefore had no room for us. BUT, no problem, we could stay at their place instead! Long story short, we stayed, because we were tired and all worked out ok. But it was far away from Havana’s centre (35 min by local bus). And afterwards we read in the “Lonely Planet” that this was a classical scam and trick to make some extra money on pre-bookings… BUT, we didn’t pay more for the room, we had our breakfast included and a nice and clean room. So, all in all, not too bad either. Still, you might want to keep this in mind before making a reservation in advance!
There is a bus company called Viazul (www.viazul.com) that connects many of the places in Cuba. Make sure to check their website though for the actual schedule…we relied on the Lonely Planet one time and missed the bus from Santiago de Cuba to Baracoa. And in general: IT’S FREEZING!! Be aware that in ALL the Viazul busses the AC is on very low and can’t be regulated! So before you board, make sure to take out all the sweaters, long pants and towels that you have in your luggage, no kidding, you will need it, especially if you travel over night! Also, at some bus stations Viazul workers set up signs that say 1 CUC for your luggage…we spoke to one of the drivers one day and he told us that these signs are not official/not from the company, it’s just another way to earn a bit extra… you decide!
Save 25 CUC for the fee you’ll have to pay at the airport when leaving Cuba!
THE ROUTE – 3 weeks is not enough time!!!
So if you want to go and follow our route, here is what we did, how much we spent and where we went…very detailed and very specific for those who’d like to get some ideas and are like us on the run to still see Cuba in its momentary state!
Havana (3 days):
Arriving at the airport, we got out money from the ATM: there is a 3% charge. Later we saw that if you bring cash you can exchange money at the exchange office on the second floor – with no charge!
A taxi from the airport to the city centre/Havana Vieja: 25 CUC
We stayed in a “Casa particular” (see general info above) for 20 CUC/per night incl. breakfast (I won’t recommend this one though because it was outside of Havana (see the “Scams” info above)
Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing City Tour: 5 CUC for a day pass (nice way to avoid walking around in the heat!)
The local bus is 0,20 Pesos (Moneda Nacional) each trip
Sights: Capitol, Malecon, Calle Obispo (good for shopping, bars/restaurant and coconut ice cream out of coconut shells!! mmm)
“Havana Vieja” (the old town of Havana) is worth a stroll to stop for a Mojito or Cuba Libre! It is actually part of the UNESCO world heritage list and you can tell that this nomination caused a wave of restoration of many buildings in that part of the city. You are walking through cute little streets and pass by bright coloured houses with a lot of music and art on the street.
Playa Larga/Bay of Pigs (2 days):
The Viazul Bus leaves (or at least did so in March!) at 7am from Havana to Playa Larga for 12 CUC/person.
“Hostal” Legendario, really the only hostel-like place which is directly at the beach and offers small rooms with a little terrace, breakfast, a welcome drink for 25 CUC. Some evenings they offer salsa classes for free (we missed it) and have a big dinner option for 8 CUC with ocean view….
The beach “Playa Larga” was nice, even though the name “long beach” sounds longer than it actually is…
There is just one restaurant on the main road which offers food (around 5 CUC) and then you can get something to eat at the kiosk. That’s about it…or else you eat in your “Casa”…it’s a very small place, so you might wanna bring food!
We went scuba diving for 25 CUC (with licence) at the local dive centre Octupus Club. Diving for beginners without a licence is 35 CUC and snorkelling 10 CUC: all you need to do is let your host know that you want to go the next day and they call the company that picks up all the tourist in the area with a big (SCHOOL!!) bus and bring them to the dive centre 15 minutes away from Playa Larga.
Travel Tips for Cuba, Cienfuegos (1 day):
So here is a tricky one…leaving Playa Larga is a bit of a juggle: you can either wait for the Viazul Bus that comes around 9 or 9:30am and pay 8 CUC once you board…IF there is a seat left! Or you negotiate with the taxi drivers that hang out at the bus stop and offer you the same price like the bus ticket, because they also know about the sometimes fully booked Viazul Buses. We ended up taking their offer for 1 CUC less per person just because we thought it’s a nice change and travelling in an “Oldtimer” was very cool 🙂
Casa la Fuente Oraldo & Olivia, 25 CUC incl. breakfast: very nice building, high colonial ceilings, very lovely people, yummy breakfast!!
Sights: Old town/city centre, waterfront, beach about 15km by local bus, national park El Nicho (we skipped that one but heard it’s a nice park!)
Trinidad (2 days):
We liked the taxi idea and drove for 5 CUC from Cienfuegos to Trinidad (instead for 6 CUC by bus) with 3 other travellers…the taxis only leave when their car is full…and by full means 5 people in a normal car, sometimes 6! 🙂
We stayed in a private house which had no license…so I’d rather not name it here.
We rode our bikes (3 CUC organised by our host mum) to the beach “Playa Ancon” (12 km), nice trip, sandy beach!
Sights: Old town, Plaza Mayor
Santa Clara (2 days):
This time we took the bus again, 8 CUC from Trinidad
And like before, we found our place to stay after arriving. Just walking down the street after leaving the bus terminal someone recommended a place….and we found out later that it was not an licensed one…we paid 20 CUC incl. breakfast
Santa Clara is all about history! Here you can soak up Che Guevara’s impressive journey!
Sights: Che Monument and Mausoleum, tobacco production place, train monument, old city centre
Santiago de Cuba (3 days):
We went with the overnight bus from Santa Clara to Santiago which left at 7:30pm and arrived at 7am in Santiago: 33 CUC (bring your blankets!!)
Casa 15 CUC incl. breakfast
Usually people go on a tour and see “El Salto” which is a waterfall, but for us it wasn’t possible to go because it was too dry, so there was no water…
And we met many people going on a 1-2 day tour to the national park with the highest mountain of Cuba “Pico Turquino”. we didn’t go there either, because we spent more time exploring the city
Nightlife: Casa de la Trova, Casa de Artes
Baracoa (3 days):
By bus from Santiago to Baracoa: 15 CUC
Casa Onilda: 15 CUC incl. breakfast: very nice place, beautiful big room and lovely people!!
Baracoa is known for great food, it’s the chocolate/coconut area with also a lot of natural beauty products on offers, great seafood too!!
Sights: Hiking trip with guide to Humboldt National Park, incl. 1 hour at beautiful Playa Managua
Mountain hike to “El Yunque”
“Playa Blanca” don’t get fooled by everyone who says it’s a nice beach (and bring 2CUC for entry fee!)… but I’d suggest walking towards the beach anyways, because the old wooden bridge was fun and beautiful when the sun sets!
Indiana Jones feeling 🙂
If you want to go to Holguin from here, keep in mind that the busses only go Wednesdays and Saturdays!!
We went back to Santiago for one night to break up the LOOONG way back…
Ciego de Avila/Moron (2 days):
The bus is 24 CUC from Santiago de Cuba. From there we took a taxi to Moron for 20 CUC/car (we were 4 persons)
So Moron is the starting point to get to Cayo Coco…. THE MOST GORGEOUS BEACH on Cuba!! But there are only few places to stay on Cayo Coco (and mostly high-end hotels). Still, you end up driving for one hour in a taxi for 60 CUC/car (if you are four people that’s ok…), but it would be a lot more relaxed just to stay there…perhaps worth the money
Make sure you have your passport with you when going to Cayo Coco, don’t leave it in the hotel! There is a police control for EVERYONE who enters the area. There are many different beaches on Cayo Coco (which is actually an island connected with a long street constructed in the water…), we went to the beaches Playa Larga and Playa Pilar
On the way we stopped to see Flamingos!
Viñales (4 days):
Now followed our longest and most complicated trip: by taxi (2 CUC) we went from Moron back to Ciego de Avila
From there we took the local bus to Havana (wooden seats and packed), stopped WAY out of Havana…so we had to find another bus to Havana centre…
then we missed the bus and paid a taxi driver to Vinales: 15 CUC/person: which was nice because I made a comment on the nice car and the driver let me drive it for a bit 😀
There are places everywhere to stay…you don’t need to worry, you’ll find a “Casa” without knowing beforehand. Ours had no name, so hard to recommend and was 20 CUC incl. breakfast
Sights: It’s all about the valley in Vinales!!! We made a tour on a horseback in order to see the gorgeous “Valle de Vinales’: 3-5 CUC/hour
Go watch the sunset in “Valle de Silencio” (Silent Valley)
After all that long bus rides we were ready for massage: 25 CUC/hour
People told us about a day trip to a dive spot/beach called “Maria Gorda”…but we were too lazy and didn’t go!
Playa del Este (20 km East of Havana):
Just at the end of our trip, we needed beach time. So we decided to spend our two last days before heading back to Havana at the beach. Unfortunately it was a bit crowded and a lot of people left their trash/rum bottles at the beach…
There are plenty of places to stay for 25 CUC without breakfast, when you arrive in Guanabo just ask around. We got one 2 minutes after getting off the bus…
Take a “collectivo” (taxi) for 2 CUC per Person if you have a lot of luggage and don’t want to squeeze in the local bus that runs from there frequently
Last night in Havana:
Just before leaving Cuba, we wanted to get THE picture in a classical old car, so we paid 10 CUC to a guy with a very nice car to take us for a short ride at the Malecon (the famous harbour promenade) for one last ride and THE picture 🙂
Our last evening we met up with an old friend of mine from Munich and his newly wed wife (they got married in Havana and were on their honeymoon). We celebrated with Mojitos and said Goodbye to a wonderful Cuba!
Thanks a lot to my travel buddy Elena from whom I learned that raw garlic can be your best choice if you don’t have a spread for your bread. And who wrote down all these details for her friend who lent us her “Lonely Planet” before that friend even had travelled to Cuba herself… (but that’s a different story) 😀
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You don’t have to be rich in order to travel the world, y. But last time at the border control the immigration officer wasn’t so sure about it. He looked at my passport and paused. Then he looked up and sent me over to one of his colleges. I wasn’t surprised about this. It happens almost all the time when I’m at the airport. I mostly never get waved through immigration immediately and usually have to answer a few questions before I can get into a new country. I guess too many stamps in your passport makes you look suspicious…
And still, after all that travelling I must admit that so far I had never had someone being as blunt as the Canadian officer in Toronto a few months ago! Like his colleague before, he turned each and every single page of my heavily used passport and looked at it with a raised eyebrow before he asked me: “So…. are you rich?!?”
I think I am rich, but most people probably think I have a lot of money on my bank account when they hear about my travels and lifestyle. Truth is, I definitely have not a lot of money and each time I earn a little bit it goes straight towards my current or next trip. In fact, I don’t even have many possessions to call my own. All I own fits into my backpack that I have been carrying around with me for the past 4 years…it’s mainly clothes in there and I guess my camera, phone and laptop are the only considerable valuables that I posses…
So, how do I travel around the world without getting bankrupt?
Well, first of all, I changed my expectations and way of thinking. I said Goodbye to my career and re-adjusted my standards of living. Also my attitude has changed completely. I do not strive for a high job position at a fancy company any longer and I couldn’t care less if I drive my own car or have a chic apartment for myself. The less stuff you own the more flexible you are, I found out….
The security of a permanent job I happily exchanged for location-independence, adventures and the flexibility to be able to travel around – whenever I want. It’s deliberating and mind-changing. And I think it is the first transformation that has to happen in your head. For me travelling was eye-opening and helped me appreciating life differently.
So, I transformed my former mission of climbing up the job ladder into a mission of exploring the world. May each and every single day be interesting and hopefully exciting for the rest of my life, I thought. And I couldn’t help but feeling the need to take this challenge serious. I suddenly saw that a career did not fulfil me any longer. All I wanted was to learn each day something new, see different places, get to know people from other countries, learn about their cultures, try to challenge myself by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and never feel bored of life again.
And I think on top of my attitude it is my educational and professional background that helps me a lot to get around easily: I studied English and Spanish language, literature and culture at the University. After I graduated I wasn’t sure what to do with my Bachelor’s of Arts. So I thought it’d be a good idea to get a degree in something that is actually a bit more concrete. I decided to get an extra occupational degree in Communications/ Marketing and PR.
Being fluent in three different languages in combination with a skill that can basically be applied all around the world has helped me a lot on my travels. And I am lucky enough to work as a freelancer for different projects every now and then. This allows me to travel and work location independently… But I am not saying that this is the only way to be able to travel and it is clearly not the only type of work I do!
Actually, I find it very refreshing to pick up jobs that I wouldn’t even have considered back home in Germany. It’s funny when you take off the career pressure and turn a job into an experience. You can relax because you know it will not be for a long time and that you learn a new skill or simply something about yourself by throwing yourself into a completely new environment. I still give one hundred per cent when I start a new job. But I am no longer getting emotionally involved like I used to do.
When I travel, I meet many people on the road with all sorts of professional backgrounds and many of them exchanged their careers in order to live a nomadic lifestyle like me. Some find the perfect spot to live and simply stay in a spot in paradise. They all seem to feel the same: Once you’ve made that step out of the routine you quickly realise that there is so much more you can do and somehow everything falls into place in the following.
I hardly ever know what I am going to do in a few months ahead of time. That might be scary for some people, but I find it exciting. The majority of people though love security and a predictable way of living. I guess everyone has to decide for themselves what is best for oneself… But I can totally relate to all those wandering souls around the world that get attached to the nomadic lifestyle as opposed to the conventional house, car and full-time job.
Long-term Travel: As long as you are open, not picky and a little bit creative you will manage to get around!
Travel longterm: Here are some fast facts about how you can start travelling and finance your trips:
It sounds cheesy but that is really the first step: you GOT to believe that it is possible!
Once you convinced yourself, convince your friends and family that it is a good idea to quit your job and buy an open flight ticket to wherever you want to go. Of course, keep your job and ask your boss for a permission to get a longer break in case you are not sure and want to see first if you like travelling at all!
The money for your flight ticket is the first thing you should worry about: start saving today and stop spending on unnecessary things like clothes, eating out, drinks or the mandatory coffee at Starbucks in the morning on the way to your office….
You might get some funds by selling all that stuff in your apartment/basement which you won’t need on your trip anyways…and hey, think about it, you can always come back and get news things again, IF you ever come back…! And if NOT, you will have to CARRY all that you want to take!!
Then, get excited and imagine all your dreams vividly! Again, mind setting is crucial for almost everything in life!! First you have to be able to see/ create it in your head before it can become true!! No kidding!
After that you have a few options to chose from on how to create your travels:
couchsurfing.com or housesitting might be an interesting option for those who want to save on accommodation and get to know places with the help of your hosts…it’s a great way to start and get a feel for travelling.
Whoever likes contributing whilst out there should have a look at wwoofing! This is a great organisation that connects organic farms with volunteers all around the world. Each country has a website and you can contact the farm owners for a small fee to see if they need help. You will receive accommodation and food in exchange for 4-5 hours of work per day, weekends are off, of course. There is no payment, but that means you don’t need a work permit either! Which is great!
And there is still plenty of time to explore the surrounding area and you will see that the hosts are mostly more than happy to show you around! Almost anywhere around the world you can find wwoofing…my next stop will be Hawaii, just saying! Type into Google ‘wwoofing‘ and the country you want to visit. There you’ll find the website for the particular country and you can purchase the contact list for all the registered farms. It’s about 20-30 Euro depending on which country you choose. It’s the only investment you have to make, but then you won’t spend any money on food or accommodation…
You can always try to go deeper and obtain a new skill that allows you to travel and work online… I have worked on a freelance basis as a copywriter, translator, PR Manager and recently I am doing an online course to get a certificate in web design. You find jobs like that on freelance.com and this way you can easily travel and do a few hours per week from ANYWHERE around the world! Basically all you need is a laptop and internet access…so don’t visit for too long remote places! 🙂
If online is not your thing, you might want to think about teaching a language. English is pretty high in demand in Asia, Africa and Latin America. But even German is popular!! I taught German in Australia for several weeks. It started as a joke but in the end I had 5 regular students, who booked me a few hours per week!! No, I did not have any teaching experiences at all! But this showed me something plain and simple: If you are trying new things, you will always find new opportunities. So getting rid off old habits and routines helps to stay flexible in your mind! Try different things! Learn! Connect! Talk to other people and listen to their stories. You might get great ideas for yourself!
Teaching German was simply an idea to try something different…and it worked! One of these five students was a business owner who sells products on Amazon. He wanted to expand his business at that time and asked me to help him translate his texts on their website. I agreed and up until today I have done several projects for his company on a freelancing basis.
So BE OPEN and trust that one door will eventually open and lead to another one!!! But most importantly, go out there and try it yourself…there are so many beautiful places to discover!!
To give it away right from the start, yes, it is! Travelling can be a lot of fun. BUT and yes, there is always a ‘but’, you have to do it right and better start thinking of how you like to do it before you even leave your home. From experience I can tell you that if you leave everything open and up to your spontaneity, then it CAN turn into a stressful experience…if you are not the person who can handle it. So make up your mind first and then chose your way. Who wants to come home after a trip with nothing but the need for more vacation…?
Travelling really can be a very fulfilling activity from which you get lots of new insights and that can even change your life. You make new friends all over the world, you might come home with an even longer list of places to visit next, you might have a totally different attitude or have changed your thoughts about life in general. Travelling is not only about bringing home tons of megabytes in form of a trillion more pictures. If you do it right, it could bring you a long lasting positive effect.
So, before you start travelling, put on your gear and get ready for your adventure!
You might want to ask yourself some questions, yes, philosophical ones like: how do I like my life? Organised or spontaneously created? Would I be miserable if I didn’t have the same standards or comforts that I have at home? Do I need to be surrounded by friends or do I enjoy being alone? What is important to me when visiting a new place? Would I rather relax at the beach all the time or fill my schedule with sightseeing or sports?
All these questions before you go on a trip will help you to avoid disappointments and stressful situations later on the road. Ask yourself, what makes you happy and try to consider that in your organisation. Take with you all that you really can’t miss on your trip…..
…but be critical with yourself and try to decide to take only REALLY important things…
Once you have decided how your trip should look like, be honest with yourself. Look, I did my first year of travelling with the conviction that my preferred way of travelling would have to follow the motto ‘go with the flow’. And I actually enjoyed it that way and never minded much those long, mostly very hot and chaotic arrivals to a new place without having a plan. It was a great experience from which I learned that I am absolutely open to changes and love considering all those options that are out there….
During that first year I mostly never knew where I would sleep the following night. Sometimes I did not even know where I would go next. All I knew was that I had a rough route to follow and that I had to go into one direction around the world. I purchased my ticket back in 2011 from a German travel agency called “Reiss aus” http://www.aroundtheworldticket.de who gave me the option to change my dates for free any time I wanted.
I called the airline to postpone each and every single one of my 10 flights!
That was great! I loved it….but it was also really tiring! Oh boy did I change my mind a lot! Staying in one place longer than planned obviously affected all the following flight dates and meant that I had less time for those other scheduled places… well, technically that could have been the consequence of my changes. But since I had no rush to go home or keep my initial schedule it just meant that in the end my intended 6 months trip turned into one complete year of travelling.
To Australia I even came back a couple of years later and stayed there for a whole year. But that’s a different story…..
So if you are flexible in time then better go get yourself an open return ticket! You never know before how much you might like the places you go to!!! And leaving everything open is a great way if you have the time to do so. I remember there were many situations when I even got a much better deal than fellow backpackers who booked their rooms in advance. Just because sometimes (not every time of course!) you are lucky enough to get some real insider advice from a local or you get to a place where you can actually negotiate before you check in….
To be fair though, running around with your luggage can be really exhausting. Plus all that time that you are spending on your search for an accommodation reduces your free time that you might use for exploring the place or lay on the beach. Unless of course you do it like I did it that first year and simply adjust your return flight…
Always keep in mind that it all depends on your taste and if you prefer to have things fully planned ahead. So there are two options for you to consider:
book accommodation in advance if you want a hassle free arrival and have more time to stand and stare at the beauty of the places you go to…
OR don’t book anything ahead if you are on a mission to simply go with the flow! In that case, just sit back, relax and be open for spontaneous changes…
After four years on the road, I am still have an open-minded spirit, I guess. And I don’t book everything in advance. But I do appreciate a certain amount of organisation and preparation…now I do more research about the places I go to in order to have a better idea where I want to go and what I want to see. Just because I have come to prefer those luggage-less moments a lot more than the ones where you are you are fully geared up and feel like a donkey.
But perhaps everyone has to grow into travelling and find out their own ideal way of doing it. For whatever style you decide, you have to make sure you and the person who travels with you can enjoy it and you both keep on smiling! 😀
A cheeky headline, huh?! I know! But you must admit that this is probably true for almost everything in life. At least, I had that feeling over the past few years before I started my digital nomad life. I found taking action to be key if you want things to happen and live a happy life. So, when I set off in 2011 to discover the world, I eventually found my passion in life: travelling. But moreover, I realised that the freedom to go wherever I wanted WHENEVER I wanted became my big obsession. This led to a chain of actions that I took which made it possible for me to still be on the road today – after more than 6 years! Check out my post on how to earn a little extra as a digital nomad, and now, sit back and get inspired if you need that last push to finally start to live your dream too.
Why should you live your dream too?
When I was in elementary school, my parents were asked to go see my teacher one day. At the age of 9, I refused to copy the specific technique my teacher showed us in art class. According to mini-me, there was a better way of holding the brush in order to get more beautiful sprinkles. He didn’t like that response and complained about our conversation with my mum. I remember her proud face when she came back home from that meeting with my teacher. She told me that he was not amused by her response either when she said that ‘Julia has her own way of doing things, always has and always will’. My mum was right back then…it’s the one characteristic that seems to be consistent throughout my life so far.
After quitting my job in 2011 and when I had sold almost all my belongings that wouldn’t fit into my backpack, I remembered that day back in art class. No one really thought it was a great idea that I took a break from my so well-established career at the age of 28. In fact, I left one month before I turned 29, which meant that I had only one year left before the magic number 30 would bring the big changes to my life that everyone was talking about. Well, I guess it’s true the 30ies have brought big changes to my life. But I can clearly say that they were for the better. For people who stay in one place their whole lives, it’s hard to understand that age doesn’t need to be a bad thing.
To be fair, ever since I had crossed that magic border of my 30’s, I must admit that I got more and more excited when I saw little babies…perhaps the only difference for me is that I began to imagine how this little mini-me would be most comfortable on top of my backpack! Check out my post on how my life has changed since I have become a mother.
Anyways, I had mixed feelings when I said goodbye to start my journey in 2011. No, it was actually sheer panic when I set off and didn’t know what to expect. At the same time, I felt that it was the right thing to do. Somehow, I felt that I was starting a completely new chapter in my life. It was the excitement of leaving everything behind and facing a whole new unknown world. My parents (again) were the least surprised when they learned about my new plans. Perhaps they were not amused about the idea of their daughter travelling around the world by herself, but hey, they kind of always have known that they can’t expect me to NOT do it my way ☺
So, I left with the plan to return 6 months later, but I never did…
Pictures say much more than words. So here is a list of reasons why I am utterly happy about my decision to live the way I want to and why you should contemplate doing so too… Take it with a grain of salt though, I had a lot of fun to put this list together! Perhaps too much!
WHY YOU SHOULD BE TRAVELLING AND LIVING YOUR DREAM TOO:
You get to meet really interesting people…
You start thinking in other dimensions…
You get to hang out in pretty nice places…
You’ll leaver your comfort zone to discover new places…
…then again you find rocks to lean on…
You’ll become a lot stronger from time to time…
…probably because you get to eat your favourite food whenever you want to…
…or maybe because you get to kiss magic snakes…
And finally you realise that you can actually live your dream if you dare to!!!
Am I doing it right? I don’t know, honestly. But I do know that you can live your dream eventually if you stop waiting! With this blog, I not only want to share my experiences with you but I also want to show that there is not only ONE way to live your life. Because when I started to make my plans, I was fighting against conventional thinking patterns, prejudice and other people’s opinions.
Just do it: Smile. Jump. And start to live your dream.
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