I know if you’ve been around here long enough (thank you to those amazing followers who have been around since 2011. That is just crazy to think about!) you’ve been following along on my journey of creating my side hustle, the Pack This Journal. Made with you the traveler in mind, this journal is something I am so passionate about, and you can see it advertised or spoken about at the bottom of any post in the last year. Or, if you’re still curious what it is, you can find it in the tab above under My Products.
I know some of you may be getting sick of all this journal spam and talk over here, as this blog is not all about selling journals! So I decided to move a lot of my journaling how-tos and content over to my new blog on PackThisJournal.com. You can find the link to the new blog HERE,where you will still find the same feel and voice of mine from ALBA, but more journal and packing focused. Are you interested in that? Who isn’t! Then head over to the new blog, and be on the look out in 2019 as I will be updating the Pack This journal blog at least once a week! See you there my friends!
PS: I wasn’t planning on taking a hiatus from this blog, I promise. Even though I have done quite a bit of traveling in the last 6 months, I also got married (wohoo!) and have been enjoying focusing on my business. I promise to post updates soon, but until then, Pack This Journal (on Facebook and Instagram) is the place to see more about what I’ve been up to!
blog as of January 1, 2019. Hoping to add a whole lot more to it in the coming year.
I know many people travel on a budget, and I am a big fan of the bootstrapper traveler. So I understand why so many people claim “why pay extra for all those shots and insurance?” as their travel mantra. I have been one of those people! But after doing the research, I am strongly starting to think I have been wrong all along. Maybe paying the money for those many shots and insurance can be valuable. The reality is, saving a few bucks each day is not worth it if there really is a problem during your trip. Honestly, the thing to remember is that these things aren’t for the expected, it’s for the unexpected!.
Immunizations: Where, What, and How?
First, I highly recommend heading to the Centers for Disease Control Travelers’ Health website to read about any vaccinations that are required. as well as for those that are recommended, for your specific travel destination, time of visit and length of stay.
If you are a US citizen and have health insurance, then under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) you are eligible to receive the following immunizations without having to pay any deductibles, co-pays, or coinsurance:
Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus vaccine for females
Measles, Mumps, Rubella
Varicella (Chicken Pox)
Vaccinating yourself is a personal choice, these are just immunization recommendations for a travel junkie like myself. Always check with your insurance provider to ensure you are covered and make sure that you give yourself ample time to complete the series of certain vaccines, because this can be time consuming (and expensive) if you are not careful. Check with your insurance company to see if they will cover any of the cost.
For up-to-date travel information, please check out the CDC travel website for everything you need to know about your destination and health information.
Be sure to start this process early, as some travel immunizations require a series of injections that are given over the course of several months.
Don’t be cheap! If you are at risk, strongly consider getting vaccinated before you go. Peace of mind is very worth it sometimes!
Travel Health Insurance
Consider like World Nomads who provide travel insurance to solo travelers and families alike to cover all unexpected costs that a medical emergency could impose on you. For a reasonable fee they will not only cover medical and dental emergencies, but also reimburse you for lost baggage, trip cancellations, or delays, rental car damage, and more. Here are a few others I found with good reviews:
Before you decide, you’ll need to answer a few basic questions, which happens to be the same ones any travel health insurance will ask you:
How old are you? Most policies don’t cover you after 60 or 65. (This unfortunately goes for World Nomads as well, which stops its coverage somewhere between 60-66, depending on where you live.)
How healthy are you? Most travel insurances won’t cover pre-existing conditions. Just like other insurance companies.
Where are you from? Buying an international travel health insurance policy in New Zealand will have a different price tag and cover than one bought in the US.
Where are you going? Policy prices can differ radically depending on whether you’re heading for a war zone or angling for a tan on the sand.
What will you do once you’re there? A walk through a city with a tour group is far less risky, from an insurer’s point of view, than skydiving or bungee jumping, and your policy will be priced accordingly. I don’t recommend telling the everything but it might be worth telling them part of your itinerary to make sure you are covered.
I hope you find this information as helpful and as informative as I do.
I truly think traveling can be GOOD for your health, but I know things arise throughout any kind of a adventure. What od you do to ensure you are safe on your solo trip? Have you done any of the above? Do you think it is worth it or just a waste of money? Let me know in the comments below!
As some of you may have seen on my instagram feed or on my Facebook page (shameless plugs here), last week I was featured on one of my favorite podcasts, Side Hustle School. As an avid listener of the show, it was such a thrill to hear my episode all about this blog and the Pack This Journal. And as you’ve probably noticed, the journal has been a huge project and focus for me over the last 9 months or so, and it is something I am extremely proud of. So to hear it be featured was definitely a highlight for me. I really credit the show to the success of the journal, as I’ve learned SO many tips and tricks from listening to the show diligently over the last year and a half.
In this post, I want to tell you a little about the podcast itself, as well as the process it took to get me on this very popular podcast. Read below, and also click on the link at the very end to hear my episode!
If you’re trying to make a big change, a hustle can help you build a foundation to move on to something else. If you love your day job, that’s great too—the hustle will provide a creative outlet and a backup plan. When you have more than one source of income, you’re no longer dependent on a single employer. You’ll have much greater opportunity. You’ll learn new skills. Oh, and you’ll also have … more money.
When you have more than one paycheck arriving every month, you feel better about yourself. You look to the future differently, and you consider a wider set of options as you make decisions.
It’s also fun. Starting a side hustle is like “playing entrepreneurially” without making a huge commitment. The stakes are low and the potential is high.
Basically, it is a daily podcast, usually less than 10 minutes, telling stories about how people have started and income generating project. It has tangible takeaways, and I am confident
How the process works
The process of getting on Side Hustle school is pretty easy, although it is a bit time consuming and tedious. First, you have to start by filling out this form on the SHS website. Then it is the waiting game. If they think you could be a viable story, Whitney or someone from the team will reach out to you directly via email. Then you have to fill out a whole lot of questions – even more than you already did. They do not interview you over the phone, so be prepared to write a lot. I wanted to give them as much detail as possible, and I still feel like they left some stuff out of my eposide. But you don’t get to write the story, so make sure you tell them what you want and highlight all the good things about your project. Remember, you have to be making over $500/month to be considered. They did ask me this, and thankfully the answer was yes. All through my Etsy shop which is so cool.
Again, just answer them with your responses quickly and efficiently. I wrote back almost immediately, and I think that went a long way, and my episode aired soon after. Be on top of it and show you care. This a great opportunity to be featured in a very engaged community. My sales skyrocketed the day my episode aired!
Fun fact: I did submit my story back in October in anticipation for the journal launch because I knew I wanted to be on the show. I figured it took a few months to get in the que, and I felt so confident my journals would be making me money! Thankfully they did. So it never hurts to put yourself out there before you are ready. You never know what the next few months will hold, and you need to believe in your product or service before anyone else!
As the episode explains, I am really working on new iterations of the journal as we speak. I am about 10 journals away from selling out of my first initial investment! Which is so crazy, and I want to make this an even bigger and better version two for you. Right now that means updating the quality as much as possible, making the content print just a little better, and the most exciting thing of all is the kids version I am working on! This version is going to have maps to color, different activities for kids to fill out, as well as the glue dots, a pencil, AND crayons that make this fun adventure for kids of all ages.
I cant wait to share it with you, so please be on the lookout for V2 of the Pack This Journal coming this summer!
Budgeting. Either you love it or hate it. I can’t say I’ve always been the best budgeter, but through my travels around the world, I have learned what you need to plan for – and the certain things you just can’t anticipate. So as you begin planning your solo trip, start with the below. I promise you, you will feel better knowing you have a budget and plan in place as you start to get down to the nitty gritty of your trip.
First, check out my post Breaking it Down for more details on where to begin when planning your solo trip. The first step is truly saying, “YES, I AM GOING ON A TRIP ALONE!” And relish in that incredible statement. But once you’ve done that, you then need to:
Figure out where to go.
Set a budget for that destination/length of trip.
So that’s where this post comes in. I am going to break down how to budget for your trip, and where you should (and definitely should not) be spending your hard earned money. So let’s begin!
Budgets Start HERE
Start with a simple spreadsheet. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just a row for each type of expense and a column each for your budget, actual spend and difference so you can see how you’re tracking over time.
Are you looking for a budgeting spreadsheet? Why not try my printable eBook The Forgetful Traveler, which has a budget worksheet in both PDF AND EXCEL! Wohoo!
Break Down the Costs
There are a few types of transportation costs you might encounter when booking and while on your trip. Think airfares, car hire, gas, rail/bus tickets, transfers or public transportation.
Basically you need to get to your destination somehow. Even if it’s in your own car driving just a few hours away, you will encounter the cost of gas, so remember that as you plan for the following options:
Obviously, if you’re traveling overseas or across a large country or continent you will need to start with airfares.
I like to use websites like Google Flights,Kayak or Skyscannerfor this. Input your destination, approximate dates, and search. This will bring up a bunch of different results from different airlines at different times of day, some via other destinations. You don’t need to go into specifics at this stage, just scroll through and average the costs.
If you’re planning on traveling by rail or bus during your trip, you will need to find an average cost for this as well. Unlike with airfares and car hire, there isn’t one website that covers the whole world for rail and bus tickets so you’re going to have to do a bit more looking around for this one.
A suggestion is for you do an internet search, for something like, “rail tickets Europe.” Depending on which country you’re from will depend on the results, but usually you will find a reputable website on the first page of results that will provide you with a way to search for rough prices. Once you have an average cost, add it to the spreadsheet.
Finally public transportation. This is going to be the hardest to determine and will depend on where you are traveling to. If you’re headed to a big city then this cost will be higher than if you’re visiting a smaller city or town where you’ll likely get around on foot.
Do an internet search for the public transport website for the city you are visiting. There you will find information on tickets and prices for passes etc. When we visit a big city we usually budget for around two trips on public transport per day.
The next biggest expense for your trip is likely to be your accommodation. The first thing you need to do is determine what style of accommodation you want for this solo adventure.
Here are our go to resources for each of these accommodation styles:
TripAdvisor.com– I always start with trip advisor, because you can read reviews of places, see where they are in town, and you can even check if the place you like is available, and it will take you to the right website. A good one-stop-shop.
HostelWorld – As the name suggests, you will find hostels on this site along with budget-type hotels.
Airbnb – Unique apartments and rooms all over the world. I have used AirBnB all over the world, and highly recommend it! Email me if you need a few recommendations in places like Barcelona and Paris.
Couchsurfing – As the name says, find a couch, usually free, to sleep on in someone’s home. These aren’t always couches and sometime can be a bed or a whole room. I have never done this but have always wanted to try!
Working out how much you’re going to spend on food and drink will depend on what type of food experience you like.
If you love street food, don’t mind cooking your own meals from time to time in the hostel and drinking little or at backpacker-type bars, then your budget will be very low. If, however, you like the fine dining experience and lavish cocktails in flashy bars with equally great views, then your food and drink budget will be high. And if you like a little of both, like me, that’s ok too! Consider all of this. If you know in Paris you want to go all out, but in Prague you might consider the street food, then budget that. What does an average cocktail cost? What about the street food? And your morning coffee run? Add this up to give yourself a rough estimate.
What to See
This is where a good guide book will come in handy. I always reference my favorite guidebooks from Lonely Planet at this point to get prices for the key attractions in the place we are visiting. It’s quick and easy and you don’t need to make any firm decisions about what exactly you’re going to see and do, this is just to get an idea of price.
Things like travel insurance, souvenirs, and other miscellaneous expenses will ALWAYS come up. Plan a lump sum for these expenses, and really stick to it. Don’t go over for that amazing Italian leather jacket unless you must have it. Consider those once-in-a-lifetime expenses, as well those things that are just weighing down your backpack. I love collecting things like coasters, tickets, receipts, and gluing them into my journal (see my story on creating a travel journal, and how you can too). Not only are they light, but they are FREE! Sometimes you don’t need the giant snow globe to remember how fantastic a trip is.
How to Reduce the Budget
There are ways of reducing your budget with a bit of creative thinking. Here are a few things I do if I feel my budget is getting a little out of control:
Mix it up a bit with your accommodation, especially on a long trip. If you like sleeping in luxury try adding a few nights in a cheaper form of accommodation like a hostel.
Research free activities and events going in your destination and look up museums websites for days they offer free entry. I also swear by free walking tours!
Purchase food at a local market or supermarket. Not only is this cheaper, but it will give you a great insight into the food that the locals eat. Then set your see.
YOUR TURN! How do you save money when you travel? Answer in the comments below!
Have you heard of the Pack This Journal yet?
It’s a travel journal made with YOU, the traveler, in mind! Perfect for your next trip around the globe!
I have a whole post on it HERE! Or you can find it on Etsy
Have you ever dreamed of going on a trip but you aren’t sure where to actually go? You’re not alone. First-time travelers to seasoned travel veterans aren’t always confident where their next trip should be. If you’re US-based like me, I know my initial thought used to be, “I need to go to Europe, of course” because it’s easy and somewhat common. But in hopes of helping you think outside the box, below are five helpful questions to ask yourself as you start planning your solo trip. This is different than beach vs mountain. I want to help you find your dream destination!
1) How much time do you have?
Time may only be an illusion for some lucky travelers, but you still need to figure out how much time you are willing to travel. Regardless if it is a weekend or a year-long jaunt, think about the amount of time you want to be gone from your real life. This will help decide how far away you want to go, how long you want to actually be traveling, how much money you can spend, and so much more.
2)How much money are you ideally wanting to spend?
Many countries around the world having different costs associated with traveling to them. Summertime can be expensive to go to Europe, while the winter months in the northern hemisphere means summer in the Oceanic region. So think about the country and the cost of traveling there. Some are just naturally more cost effective than others! If budget is a concern, think about heading to Southeast Asia. It is a great option with more bang for your buck!
If you want to lay on the beach all day, good for you! That’s relaxing and you deserve that. But if you are looking for more adventure in your day-to-day, plan on looking for locations that provide that kind of fun. Think about the following:
What do you hope to gain from your travels?
What experiences do you want to have?
How do you want to remember this trip? Is there a lasting impact you’re hoping for?
All these questions will help you decide how action-packed you want it to be and what you want to do while you’re there. Knowing what you want to get out of a trip will help you decide what kind of trip to go on in the first place.
4) What kind of weather do you want?
Weather can be a deciding factor in how much adventure and leisure you have outside. Google the average temperature for the month and place you are considering going. Know that things can change, but it is probably a good indication of what to expect. Not looking for a super warm vacation? Consider going to parts of the world that are in winter, for example.
5) What time of year do you plan on going?
In a similar idea to the above, the time of year can make a big difference in the cost of travel. Summer months are particularly expensive for European countries, while over the holidays like November and December can be expensive everywhere. Consider the time of year
This may be important…
Do you want easy access to English language speakers?
Regardless of how often you travel, and with people or by yourself, safety is always a concern when traveling. (I wrote a whole post about it here). But for some, being with people who speak your language makes traveling a whole lot easier when the people in that destination speak their native language. It is totally not a requirement, but sometimes you feel better and more safe when this is a priority. I love listening to different dialect, so this is not something i Consider, but I wanted to give you all the options as you begin looking for your next trip.
No matter where you decide to go, know you are going to have a good time and it is exactly where you needed to go! Every trip is an adventure, and you are setting out on some of the most eye opening of your life as a solo traveler. So enjoy it!
Have you had an opportunity to check out the Pack This Journal yet? It was made with YOU, the traveler, in mind!
Want to learn more about it? I have a whole post on it HERE!
Planning trips is one of my favorite things to do on the planet. I like it so much my best friend Shanelle once told me I should start charging people to plan their trips for them. Is this next business venture? Probably not. But do I have a true passion for planning and executing any type of trip abroad? Absolutely.
Because there are many ways to go about planning any trip, it can feel super overwhelming to most people. And while there are many ways to plan a trip, I am going to break it down for you in simple steps over a few handy posts. So let’s get started with how to PLAN your solo trip!
Breaking It Down
Like I mentioned in this post, breaking down where you want to go and how you want to go is the first step to any trip.
So first, I you to consider the following three questions:
Where do you want to go?
How much money do you have now?
How much money do you need to save?
By answering these simple questions, you can get to the core of what you need to do. Breaking it down, and getting the answers to these questions, will help you a great deal. See, you just took the first steps for your first solo trip!
OK, now you have your budget and where you want to go. Now it is time to start working through the days that you have available. From 3 days to 3 months, you need to roughly map out where you want to go in the time you have. Planning to just sit on the beach the whole time? No problem! But you want to make sure you allocate for any day trips or sites you want to see. Think about all of this, and the best days to go. For example, the coliseum in Rome probably isn’t best to go to on a Saturday at noon. If you are Rome for a week, consider going to the hot tourist spots on off days and times so you don’t have to wait in line so long. Consider time and date for all items on your list of things to do.
Where to stay
Picking the spot where you can lay your head for the night that is safe and affordable is important. But as I mentioned in this post, I don’t think this should be your biggest worry. Yes, safety is always a concern, especially when your traveling alone, so consider this a priority, but then think about all the other options you can consider. Are you into couch surfing? Air BnB? Or maybe the top hostel in Lonely Planet? I have tried them all and recommend them all, and this let’s you get outside your usual hotel bubble. This will give you more options and more places to stay throughout the journey. Now write these all down for each designation you are going on
Buy your flights & train
Now that you sort of know where you are going, and how long you are staying there, and that they have a place for you to sleep, book those plane, train, and bus tickets. You need to get there, right? And once you get the plane tickets booked this is the main structure of the flight. The bones, as I like to call it. You know when you are leaving home, arriving at your location, and when you need to leave. Now fill in everything else. Fill in where you want to go, where you want stay, and what you want to see. Remember to keep that budget in mind!
So this is it. Part one. You have the bare bones of what you need to stat planning your solo trip! Congratulations!
Next, we will start talking about what you can do while you’re there, and tying up any loose ends at home. But for now, see below for an update on my latest adventure…