There are many reasons why you would want to start an online business. The internet is a wonderful thing and having a website can offer numerous benefits. Some of the top reasons to start an online business include:
You can start with a very small budget
You can be location independent
You can expand much faster online than with brick and mortar
You’ll have a huge audience (worldwide)
But, as with any business, it’s not always easy. You need to dedicate a lot of time and energy, but having something to call your own and being your own boss makes it all worthwhile. When you’re first starting your website, there are numerous things to think about and mistakes to be made!
In this post, I’m going to tell you 10 mistakes new online business owners make, and how to avoid them.
1. Not Having a Clear Plan
Before you do anything, you need to make a plan. You have to know where you want to go with your online business, what you want to convey, who is going to be your target audience, etc.
There are many things to consider when starting a website. Some of the first things you need to plan include:
Your niche. This is very important. Choose a topic you are passionate about. Something you don’t mind working on 24 hours a day if needed. Also, evaluate your niche, see what (and who) is already in this space, and what is still available for you to cover.
Create an avatar / persona. In your mind, create a persona of your desired audience. Who do you want reading your blog and buying your products? What do they like, what do they do, how do they spend their free time? You have to make them as detailed as possible so that you know how to approach them.
Name and tagline. Discuss blog name ideas and choose a name that is catchy and represents what you are doing. It should be easy to remember. Even better, create a tagline to go along with it so that people know why they are on your blog or website right away. This also makes it easier to remember you.
Monetization strategy. It’s really nice to have a blog or website where you write about things you love. But what we all want when starting a business is to make money from it. So, you have to think how you want to monetize your online business. Are you going to do affiliate marketing, are you going to sell your own products?
Marketing strategy. What is a site worth if no one sees it? That is why you need to think about how you are going to bring people to your site. Will it be through social media, through guest posts, through paid traffic? If it is with social media, for example, you will have to create accounts, create content, make ads, manage the accounts, etc. It’s important to think about all of these things up front.
Design. Think about how you want your site to look. What colors do you want to use? Do you want your social media to have a special design? Do you have a logo? How should it be situated? These are all things that you should consider because it’s going to be the first thing that people see when they arrive at your site. First impressions are important.
If you don’t have a clear plan from the start, you won’t have a focus or clear direction for your site, and will probably end up wasting a lot of time.
2. Focusing On The Small Things
There are many things that need to be done when starting a website. Some tasks have more importance than others, meaning they will require more of your time and effort.
Rather than focusing on the small things, figure out what you need to do to help your business grow quickly. Details are important, but what should come first is having your business up and running.
In the beginning, don’t worry too much about having the perfect profile picture. Instead, choose one that looks good, you can always change it later, just get something up.
Don’t spend the whole day answering emails. Set aside an hour a day for this task and move on to other things.
Don’t spend hours editing photos and working on your design, just spend a few hours. When you’re starting out, your site might not look exactly how you want it to, but that’s OK as long as it’s functional and user-friendly. Focus on creating good content first, and worry about meticulous design stuff later.
It is better to get the things done even if they are not perfect than not getting them done at all.
Work under the Pareto principle. Do 20% of the tasks that brings you 80% of the results. If Instagram brings you more readers and sales than Facebook, focus more on that platform. Creating content for your website will bring you traffic, while working on design and “small things” won’t.
Work on the tasks that will bring you visitors, and money.
3. Starting An Email List Too Late
This is one of the things that online business owners regret the most. They wished that they had started collecting emails from the very beginning.
Why is that?
An email list is the best way to monetize your blog or website. Through the email list, you build a relationship with your audience. You send them great content and special tips and they get to know you. So when you recommend a product, tour, company, etc. they are much more likely to buy from you because they trust you opinion.
A great way to build an email list is to make a “pop-up” with Thrive, Opt-In Monster or MailMunch. The best way to collect emails from that pop-up is to give away something for free to your readers. It might be an ebook, a checklist, a report, a course, templates, etc. It must be a relevant, high quality product for people to be willing to give you their email address.
Once you have those emails, you’ll want to create an autoresponder. ConvertKit and MailChimp are popular email marketing companies. With this, you can send out emails in a sequence to your readers, all of which are automized, meaning you don’t have to spend a lot of time writing them.
It’s important to provide your best content or useful information in those automated emails, but it’s more important to still send out “real-time” broadcasts to the followers on your email lists as well.
You might want to consider having an exit pop-up on your site for when people are trying to leave your site they are reminded that they can download your valuable free product.
As you can see, having an email list is an important aspect of having an online business. Don’t miss out on monetizing your audience from day one.
4. Trying to Rock Every Social Media at Once
To be successful in social media you have to put in a lot of time and create very engaging content. New bloggers and website owners often underestimate what’s involved. Most people think it’s as simple as uploading a picture to Instagram once a day, and posting something on Facebook.
This is just one small aspect of social media. First, you have to create the content, and needs to be really good in order for people to share it.
You also have to engage with your audience in order for the algorithms from these social media platforms to actually show your content to users. If you just upload a picture a day without any engagement they will think your account is a spam account. Social media isn’t a “set it and forget it” type thing.
If you receive comments or messages you want to answer them right away, and you should be commenting on other profiles from your niche. You’ll need to do everything you do with your personal social media accounts, but on a larger scale if you want to grow fast.
All of this takes a considerable amount of time, and it’s better to learn one social media at a time until you’ve figured it out. Once you are rocking one platform, add the next one.
5. Focusing On Too Many Tasks
Within a business, there are endless things that need to be done and even if you wanted to, you can’t do everything at once. It’s too much work and you’ll end up frustrated.
Instead of trying to focus on everything at the same time, decide on the one or two tasks that are the most important at that moment and get them done before starting with the next one.
You can also enlist outside help to complete certain tasks so that your workload is less. Rather than trying to figure it out yourself, you can hire someone to do the website design, someone to take care of your email list, or hire a Pinterest manager. No matter what you need help with there is always someone who you can hire.
There are many platforms where you can find freelancers or virtual assistance to help you with all these tasks. Have a look at For example Fiverr, Guru, Freelancer or PeoplePerHour to name a few.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or there is something that you don’t know how to do, outsource that particular job. Not only will it give you more time to focus on other things, but most likely the person you hire will be faster at completing that task than you.
6. Waiting Too Long to Launch Your First Product
When most websites and blogs start out, they typically make their first bucks with affiliate marketing. Trying to figure out the affiliate marketing platforms, and learning how affiliate marketing works takes time, but earning passive income is the best.
Earning a commission from travel insurance, hotel bookings, website hosting, Amazon, etc. is great, but if you have your own product to sell, you will take home the full sale price rather than just a small cut.
I’m not saying that you should have a product for sale from the very beginning, but once you start getting used to the process of earning passive income, and building your audience you should start thinking about it. And since you started your email list from the very beginning you will have those readers to promote your products to.
Some ideas for first products that you can launch are:
Ebooks. An ebook is a very common product because it’s easy and cheap to produce. It’s also easy to sell since it’s just a file as opposed to being a paperback. If you sell an ebook on platforms like Amazon you don’t even have to worry about customer service or the sales process. But, you can sell your own book directly on your site with E-junkie, keeping all of the profits.
Courses. If you run a website about a specific topic it’s because you probably know more about that topic than most. So why not share that knowledge with others in a course? If you know how to set up a website, create a course on that. If you want to help people learn how to start a travel blog, create a course about that. Video tutorials, interactive media, podcasts, downloadable PDFs, etc. are all great components of a course.
Membership sites. You can charge for membership on a site where you share exclusive content.
Coaching. If you have something to teach and share, you can do it through coaching. This is a one on one service, and therefore more exclusive than a course.
Presets or themes. If you have really cool Lightroom presets or an amazing WordPress theme, for example, you can sell them to your audience.
Your audience will be waiting for you to have a product available, don’t make them wait too long!
7. Not Being Different
The internet is huge and like you, there are a lot of people looking for opportunities out there. So you have to do a bit of research and make yourself stand out.
What are others in my field doing? How do they succeed? What can I do differently?
You don’t want to be exactly the same as others in your genre. What makes you different and what can you offer your readers that your competitor doesn’t? Focus on what your customer / audience is interested in, and give them a reason to keep returning to your website rather than another.
Most likely your readers have already checked out websites in your field, and it’s important to find something that makes you stand out – whether it’s your personality, your subjects, your writing, your epic photography, whatever it is, just make sure you’re unique.
8. Choosing a Topic You Don’t Care About
When starting an online business, it’s important to choose a topic or niche that you’re passionate about.
If you’re starting a blog, you have to choose a topic that you are knowledgable on, and interested in. Something that you could talk about all day – food, tech, travel, fashion, beauty, dogs, etc. You will need to write a lot of really good content for your audience, which is much easier if you love what you are writing about.
If you enjoy what you do you, it won’t feel like work and you’ll be happy to spend time on it each day. You have to think of your blog as your baby, and do everything you can to nurture it and help it grow.
I started mine about traveling, because that is what I love and want to do no matter what, so why not combine the two?
9. Wrong Expectations
Many people think that when you start an online business, it will be up and running and making money in no time. This is almost never the case. A business takes time to grow and evolve.
You have to be patient. It takes a lot of time and effort to build an audience and customers to buy your product or service.
There are people who were lucky enough to build a business in a very short time. But don’t take that as your reference, instead, take realistic examples and focus on making your website work.
Just because it might be taking longer than you expected, don’t quit. If it’s something you enjoy doing and are putting all your energy into, it will eventually work out. Give it time to flourish.
10. Spending Too Much Time “Learning”
Before starting an online business, you’ll most likely need to do some research to learn how to run a website, and market your brand. And of course, you’ll spend some time in the beginning educating yourself on how to do so. But, once you know what you need to do, you have to start!
There is always new information coming out, with much more to learn and read. It’s important to realize when you know enough to start your blog and get it off the ground. Researching and gaining knowledge on the world of websites is important, but you also need to realize when you have enough information to launch – otherwise you’ll spend too much time surfing the web, rather than creating your business.
You won’t know everything, and sometimes you will have to ask others in your virtual community for help. And that’s OK, the important thing is to just start. Learning is something that never stops, so don’t focus on knowing everything there is to know about blogging and running an online business.
If you have an idea, run with it. Make a plan of what you want to accomplish, and figure out what you can do differently to stand out. Hopefully you’ll be able to avoid the 10 mistakes I listed above. Happy blogging and happy entrepreneurship!
We’ve been advocates of creating a freedom filled lifestyle for a long time. Living abroad, being our own boss, travelling full-time, and having the option to work from anywhere in the world is what our website, and us personally, are all about.
We hope to inspire you to live the lifestyle of your dreams, and want to help you make that happen. And with that, I’m thrilled to announce that the Paradise Pack is back…and this year, it includes products from us Goats!
This is the fifth year that this incredible bundle of educational resources has been available and, like a fine wine, it got better with age
What is The Paradise Pack?
The Paradise Pack is a bundle of products from expert travel and business gurus. The pack is available for one week, once a year, at 90% off and then it’s gone…
These resources truly are life changing and if you’ve ever considered quitting your current job, moving abroad, working from your laptop, being your own boss, or hitting the road to travel, this pack is for you.
Jason and Travis are the legends behind this amazing idea, and they themselves live the location independent lifestyle. From travellers to business owners, they’re living their dream lifestyle and want to help you do more of what you love, with those you love.
The Paradise Pack is a paid bundle of resources, but there are two FREE products that the Paradise Pack team are giving away, and they’re available right now:
In this free guide you’ll discover the absolute best places to be a digital nomad or work remotely.
Whether you have a thriving business already or you’re someone who is looking to start out, these are the best places to go to surround yourself with like-minded people who are living the laptop lifestyle – and to have a ton of fun while you’re at it.
We’ve written numerous articles to show you how to earn money on the road so that you can travel for as long as you want. Learn how to start a travel blog, teach English online, teach English in China, get the ultimate house sitting gig, become a dive master… these remote jobs are all possible.
In “Behind the Laptop”, you’ll learn about 10 online entrepreneurs and how they are earning money on the road, while loving every minute of it!
What Products Are in The Paradise Pack?
The Paradise Pack Bundle features over 20 professional educational offerings from the world’s foremost experts in online business, location independence and travel. It’s available for one week only at over 90% off and contains everything you need to build a life of total freedom!
Here are a few of the thing you’ll learn from the courses, tutorials, books and guides that you’ll find in the Pack (for a full list, click here):
Beginner Blogger Bundle – a quick and easy video course to help you get your new website off the ground in no time, plus our SEO checklist, and an ebook with our best blogging tips
Frequent Flyer Bootcamp – the world’s best-selling course on travel hacking, learn to use FF miles to fly worldwide for under $100
How to Learn Another Language, Quickly
Six-Figure Coaching Business Bundle – you’ll receive Financial and Goals Action planner tools, pricing and packaging training, access to the How to Handle Objections training, the Objections Slayer worksheet with word-for-word responses to the most common sales objections, and a private session with Emily’s team!
Products to Profit Class – really live the 4 hour work week
Irresistable Podcasting – launch and grow your podcast like a boss
Productivity Power for Writers – learn how to be productive in your writing, without working more
7 Days to Be Seen – create a YouTube channel that gets seen, get organic views & subs in no time
Hobby Hacking – build a brand around something you love, and make money doing so
Master Your Mind – learn to overcome fear, manage overwhelm, deal with people, handle rejection, cope with failure, maximize your time, and more
WTF Should I Do With My Life?!! – 34 interviews with top thinkers offering wisdom on navigating a life-course with integrity, authenticity, and a deep sense of purpose
Branding Your Masterclass – build and expand a business across Kindle, podcast, Udemy, email, & more
The Virtual Assistant Starter Kit – this kit will equip you with all the tools and skills necessary to set strong foundations for success in a VA or freelance career
Wantrepreneur to Entrepreneur Bootcamp – this bootcamp is designed to get you to take massive action, giving you all the step-by-steps and ready-made templates for you to take your business from idea to reality with your first paying customers or clients.
There are many more products available in the pack. For a full list of what you can expect, plus more details on what each resource offers you, click here.
How Much Does The Paradise Pack Cost?
The value of all the products in the Pack is almost $8,000USD.
If you purchase this bundle between May 29th from 3am PST to June 4th at 11:59pm PST, you’ll receive more than 90% off, with the Pack costing $497.
Because the discount is so huge, this special rate is only available for one week in order to make it fair for the creators of the expert content in this Pack.
Not only will you learn how to change your life and live and work from anywhere in the world, but your purchase will contribute to the education of numerous children around the world. Jason and Travis give back 10% of their earnings to Pencils Of Promise. This incredible organization helps to build schools in numerous countries around the world.
Last year, they made enough money from the Paradise Pack to build an entire school in Guatemala, and this year they’re hoping to be able to build four!
Change your life, and that of a child. It’s a win-win.
How Do You Get The Pack?
Everything inside the Paradise Pack is sent electronically, so don’t worry about having to wait for packages, or not having a fixed address. All you need to do is purchase the pack when it becomes available on May 29th at 3am PST.
To learn more about the Paradise Pack, who’s involved in it, what you’ll get for your buck, and to be notified of when it’s available to purchase, click here.
Jamaica is a tiny island in the Caribbean that’s famous for many things. Perhaps you’ve been dreaming of laying on the best beaches in Jamaica, or swimming in the turquoise sea, but the country’s rich culture offers travellers so much more.
Jamaica is home to the fastest man in the world, several genres of music including reggae and that genre’s biggest international star, Bob Marley. The island is also known for giving the world the delicious meal of jerk chicken.
Jamaican cuisine offers many more tasty eats and this post will feature some of Jamaica’s homestyle meals that you absolutely must try!
Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Pork: the most well-known Jamaican cuisine
Jerk-style cooking is the star of Jamaican cuisine. It has roots in the island dating as far back as the 1600s when maroons would use this method of cooking on wild boars caught in the hills. Now, jerk chicken and jerk pork are the most common jerk dishes and you can get them anywhere from fancy restaurants to street-side metal drums.
It’s a late night favourite after a club or party, or for those who are backpacking Jamaica on a budget. Jerk chicken and pork are served in foil with bread or festivals, a slightly sweet cylindrical-shaped johnny cake (or dumpling).
If you’re wondering what makes jerk authentic, it’s all in the wood used to smoke the meat. Jerk relies on being smoked over pimento chips to get its true flavour.
The ingredients in the marinade should include lots of salt, scotch bonnet peppers and allspice. The recipe has since evolved to include onions, scallions, thyme, black pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and now sweetwood can be used to smoke the meat as well. Without the two main components of scotch bonnet (habanero) peppers and pimento or sweetwood, jerk just isn’t authentic.
Ackee and Saltfish
This is Jamaica’s national dish and it is served mainly as a breakfast item, though it can be had at any meal time of the day. Ackee is a fruit that grows in pods on trees. It is actually poisonous when raw and must be left to open on its own on the tree before being harvested and prepared.
Once harvested, the seed and veiny inside are removed and the yellow flesh is lightly boiled to remove any harmful toxins left in the fruit. It is then sauteed with saltfish and seasonings and often served with ground provisions like yams, green bananas and potatoes.
The dish looks a little like eggs when prepared and similar to eggs, it takes on the flavour of what it’s cooked with. The saltfish adds flavour to ackee and can be switched out for corn pork or left out entirely if you’re vegan. Rastafarians are known to cook a well-seasoned ackee meal without any meat additive as an Ital dish.
Stewing meat is another common way of cooking in Jamaica. After being marinated in lots of fresh seasonings including onions, scallions, hot peppers, thyme and sweet peppers, the food will be stewed down, making the meat incredibly tender. Common stewed meat dishes include brown stew chicken, pork, oxtails, beef and fish.
Stew Peas is also a favourite and can be made vegan with kidney beans and coconut milk but usually includes salted beef and pigtail.
Red Peas Soup is very similar to the Stew Peas dish. It’s a rich and hearty soup made with kidney beans, coconut milk, pumpkin soup base and salted beef. Red Peas Soup and Pumpkin Soup are the most common options for starters at most homestyle restaurants. As you can see, Jamaican cuisine offers numerous dishes for vegetarians and vegans.
Jamaican Rice and Peas
Jamaicans cringe when visitors refer to our rice and peas as peas and rice. Our rice and peas is unique in flavour and a staple at our Sunday dinners and traditional holiday meals. It’s the usual side dish for stewed meals, though some also eat it with ackee and saltfish and curry dishes.
To make rice and peas, kidney beans are cooked with rice in coconut milk, salt, butter, sugar and thyme. This side meal is the perfect accompaniment to any protein and is a key dish in Jamaican cuisine.
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Curry goat is another favourite on the island. Jamaican curry is a little different from the traditional Indian variety. It’s also a little spicier.
Goat meat tastes a little bit like beef, but slightly gamey. It’s a tender and juicy dish served with white rice and is also a favourite at house gatherings. It can be seen on the table at Christmastime and is served at Nine Nights (the Jamaican equivalent of a wake) to friends and family paying their respects to the dead.
By Foodista – originally posted to Flickr as Photo of Mannish Water. Original by Desiree Lowe
Speaking of goat, the head, testicles and other scraps of the animal are saved for a light soup called mannish water, which is a favourite Jamaica dish. This spicy and flavourful soup is also a party and Nine Night favourite and is served as a meal starter.
The Jamaican beef patty is another famous staple of the island that you must try. The beef is seasoned with curry, onion, garlic and you guessed it, Scotch Bonnet pepper! The beef is then wrapped in a buttery dough, shaped as a half-moon and baked. Beef is the original version though patties are now available with a wide variety of fillings.
Try the curry chicken patty or the veggie patty when you’re in Jamaica. If you ever make it to Kingston then the lobster and shrimp patties at Devon House are legendary, as is the curry goat patty.
Escoveitch refers to cooking meat in an acidic vinegar-based sauce in Spanish culture. We’ve taken that and made it our own here in Jamaica. If you visit a beach outside of your resort, you’re likely to come across fish shacks serving up some of the best fried fish with escoveitch sauce you’ve ever tried.
The sauce is made from vinegar, onions, peppers, carrots and pimento (allspice). It adds a delicious flavour when poured over fresh fish – so fresh that it was caught that day.
The fish is usually served with festivals and bammy, a dense bread-like side dish made from cassava that is usually round in shape. This dish is a must on your list of things to eat when preparing for a trip to Jamaica.
Callaloo is the local cousin to spinach and is a breakfast staple in Jamaica. It is steamed and sauteed lightly and sometimes cooked with saltfish and served with johnny cakes or boiled ground provisions.
Breakfast is usually a heavy meal in Jamaica and this callaloo dish is one of the lighter offerings. It’s not uncommon for Jamaicans to have curry chicken, brown stew chicken, liver or kidney for breakfast with fried johnny cakes and yam and potatoes.
Sweet potato pudding is a local delicacy in Jamaica quite unlike any pudding you’ve tried. It’s referred to as “hell a top, hell a bottom and hallelujah in the middle”. It’s cooked in a dutch pot on a coal stove with hot coals on top of the pot as well, explaining the riddle.
This method forms a sweet custardy layer on both the top and bottom of the pudding. It’s a sweet treat that can be served warm with ice-cream at Sunday dinner. If you visit Jamaica, seek out “Pudding Man” in Priory, St. Ann, near Ocho Rios who makes it in a little shop on the roadside. His famous pudding has been featured on local and international travel TV programs.
EAT AROUND JAMAICA: Jus Coool, it's the Pudding Man' - YouTube
Jamaican cuisine may be heavy on the protein side but the food is mostly local and fresh. A purely organic experience is not difficult to attain since farmer’s markets are common in all towns and it’s very likely you’ll pass stalls selling fresh local produce on the side of the road.
Farmers also provide fresh produce to many of the island’s hotels so if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, you’re likely be eating locally as well.
Ready for Jamaica?!
Now that you know all about Jamaican cuisine and the best meals to try, all that’s left to do is start planning a trip. Check out this infographic which gives you a few quick and useful tips for a trip to Jamaica.
Are you familiar with Jamaican cuisine? What’s your favourite food to have from the island? Share with us in the comments below!
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about booking travels is seeing the cost of flights fluctuating up and down. Just when you think you’ve found a great deal, you realize that it’s much cheaper on another booking engine, or just after you book your flight, the price goes down by 20% for no apparent reason.
Booking flights is a guessing game for many, and while there will always be an element of gambling involved, expert flight hackers can minimize the risk of paying too much for airfare.
In this article, I’m going to share with you 10 of my favourite hacks for finding the best price on airfare. Some of these you may already know, but I’m confident that there will be a few brand new hacks in here that will blow your mind!
Let’s get started…
1. Use The Trip Price Function
This is a relatively new feature of Google Flights and it’s a great one for finding the best possible flights based on your destination and duration of your proposed trip. If you’re looking to book a return flight and you know the duration of your trip, this feature can save you huge money.
Let’s say you know that you want to go on a 14 day holiday sometime in May or June. Head to Google Flights and enter your departing and arriving airport, then choose any 14 day period in the months you plan to travel and hit search.
The magic happens now when you go back up to the dates and hover over the calendar. Google Flights will now show you the cost for a 14 day trip on every day of the month. Each day will have a price attached to it and this will be the price if you leave on that day and return 14 days later.
Book your holidays for the cheapest flight dates and save upwards of 50% on your entire journey. In the example above, the cheapest fair in June is 36% cheaper than the most expensive. It pays to shop for the cheapest flight days!
2. Search One-Ways First
Often times, there are specific dates that are cheaper to fly on. Either certain (cheaper) airlines only fly out on those days, or the fares are just lower on certain days for some reason. Whatever it may be, it does pay to search one-way flights first, to see which days are cheaper in each direction.
Using the first hack in this post, you can find the best prices on a 15 day journey, but if you’re flexible on how long your trip will be, then it pays to search one ways in each direction first.
What you do is, head to Google Flights again and choose a one-way flight from your departure airport to your planned destination. Then click on the calendar to view the dates of the month and every day will have a price attached to it. Find the cheapest day and write it down.
Then switch your arrival and destination airports and check the prices on every day again for your return journey. Often you’ll find that there is one day of the week / month that is much cheaper in each direction.
Now search a return journey using the cheapest day for departure and the cheapest day for return that you discovered in the previous steps. Oftentimes this return flight will be the cheapest possible fare you can find between those destinations within a given month.
In the example I’ve used in these screenshots, I found that departing Vancouver on the 6th and returning on the 21st were the cheapest one way price days and it turns out that the return journey is much cheaper than other days as well.
3. Utilize Meta Searches
Most flight search engines including Kayak, Expedia and Google Flights will give you a lot of options when it comes to meta searches. Meta are the check boxes and sliders that allow you to narrow your flight search based on criteria that you require.
When I’m searching for flights, I generally don’t want to depart earlier than 10am. I don’t want more than 1 stop and I want the flight to be a certain duration. These are the three meta searches that I focus on.
By changing the meta in the search, you will potentially be losing some of the cheaper flights from the results, but if you refuse to have 4 stops in your itinerary anyways, then it’s worth ignoring those less comfortable flights.
To sort flights by duration, simply scan the page for “Duration” and there is usually a slider that allows you to choose the longest desired duration you’re comfortable with for your proposed journey.
The same goes for departure times, arrival times and stops. On Google Flights, these meta search tools are usually at the top of the screen in the form of sliders and check boxes, but oftentimes with other search engines, they appear on the side of the screen.
4. Use Different Search Engines
I know I’ve listed Google Flights quite a few times in this post, and that is because I’m a big fan of their user interface and the options it gives me to narrow down my search results, but that doesn’t mean that Google will necessarily always have the best prices.
Whenever I’m searching for flights, I’ll use my favourite search tool to find the days that are typically cheaper, and then I’ll go search those same flights on other websites like Kayak, Expedia and Cheapoair.
My favourite site search with is Google Flights, but I almost always book with Expedia because I trust them 100% and they offer 24 hour free cancellation on most flights. No matter how loyal you are to one company, it’s important that you always shop around because you can sometimes find the flights for 20-30% cheaper just by searching on another website.
In my experience, there is no one website that ALWAYS has the cheapest flights, which brings me to my next flight booking hack…
5. Sign Up For a Deal Tracker
Because no one website can find you the cheapest flight deal, it’s often worth it to sign up for a flight deal tracker like DollarFlightClub.com. Once you enter your email to their site, they’ll send you the best deals available from all websites and airlines based on where you are departing from and where you want to go.
It’s really that simple. Once you join their program of 500,000+ frequent flyers, you’ll get email alerts when cheap international flights to your dream destinations pop up. The average savings per ticket is over $500 USD, so if you end up buying a flight from your subscription, the service pays for itself 10X.
6. Clear Your Cache
This is an old hack and I’ve mentioned it many times before on this blog and on our social media accounts and to our , but in case you haven’t heard, you need to clear your cache before booking any flight.
When an airline or booking site sees you returning time and time again to check the price of flights, they know you’re more likely to book said holiday if you see the prices going up, rather than down. So, the evil marketing geniuses place a cookie on your browser which means you, and only you, will see a higher price. It sounds like it should be illegal, but it’s not.
If you have been booking flights without clearing your browser cache, then I can guarantee you that you’ve lost a lot of money on flights.
Don’t worry, clearing your cache (aka deleting cookies) only takes about 5 seconds and it’s easy to do. To learn how to do it on the most popular browsers, click them below:
To always ensure that you’re searching without cookies, you can turn off browser cookies in your browser all together, or search in incognito by clicking Control+Shift+N when your browser is open. This will open a new “incognito” tab which is cookie-free. Search for your flight in this window and you’ll likely see a cheaper price.
Don’t believe me that you can save money by simply clicking one button in your browser? Just check out this screenshot below. That’s the exact same flight, the bottom one is the price I was seeing at first, and the top one is the price after clearing my cookies. That’s a savings of $125 and it only took me 5 seconds to do!
Can you believe it?!
7. Check Price Trends
If you’re not too picky about what time of year your trip is, or you don’t care about exact dates within a given few month period, you may want to check historical price trends on flights. Many flight booking engines will give you price trend charts. These are typically estimates of prices for fares on given dates based on historical data.
Tools like FareDetective will give you historical data of flight prices. Oftentimes flights can vary by as much as 200% based on the time of year. By entering your departure and arrival airport, FareDetective will search their database to tell you what time of year will likely be the cheapest.
If flight prices dip every year in the middle of October for your proposed journey, you’ll see that in the trends charts.
To see the price trends on Google Flights, enter in your dates and airports and hit search, then you’ll see a small box below the calendar that says “Price Graph”. Click that box and Google will open up a graph of the prices for any given dates. Use the left and right arrows to see when your flight will likely be the cheapest.
This very much uses the same data as the first hack in this list, but it will give you a much more visual representation of the cheapest days to fly.
8. Utilize Google Flight Insights
Before booking any trip, it’s worth clicking on the Tips icon on Google Flights. Different flight search engines have different ways of displaying their recommendations, but I find Google’s to be incredibly useful.
If you click on Flight Insights and then “Tips”, not only will you likely find useful travel guides and information, Google will also search to see if there are cheaper flights available from different airports for you, and it will also sometimes show you discounts on First Class or Business Class flights.
9. Hack Your Credit Card Rewards
We’ve covered credit card hacking extensively in this post, so I won’t go too much into depth here. Basically what you should do (particularly if you’re American where the best cards are available) is sign up for 3 new credit cards that have a good sign-up bonus.
Sometimes you can earn $500 in travel rewards just by signing up for a new card. Then you’ll need to spend the required minimum amount each month on all 3 of the cards (usually for a year). Then you can either cancel or keep using the cards, up to you.
By obtaining the bonuses on three cards and by racking up points on all of your spending over a 1-year period, you could easily have enough to pay for a trip.
When booking with points, always check 1st class and business class as well. Oftentimes you can get insane deals on higher flight classes if you use points to book the ticket.
10. Watch Out For Checked Bags
If you can travel carry-on, great! You can save yourself anywhere between $25 and $50 per lag of your flight journey. If you’re not a carry-on traveller, you need to be savvy about booking.
If you’re booking two separate tickets to get you to a destination, you will likely have to pay for a checked bag on both flights, meaning that you could be adding $100 onto your one way flight cost.
Whenever you’re searching for flights, do a quick Google search or call the airline to ask about checked baggage fees. If you find a flight that is $10 cheaper, but you end up having to pay $50 in checked baggage fees, that’s not really worth it is it?!
Always do your research and find out what you’ll be charged for your checked luggage before you enter in your credit card information and book the flight. If you do have to pay for your luggage, always pay online or while you’re booking as it is typically more expensive if you pay at the airport.
Living long-term in different countries around the world is one of the real perks of being a digital nomad. Of course we love to travel, that’s why most of us got into this business in the first place, but there’s so much to say about spending a few months in a destination, renting an apartment and living like a local for a while.
During our 10 years on the road, we’ve lived in dozens of places. Sometimes for a month, sometimes for 6 months, it all depends on how we’re feeling at the time. Often we end up putting down some temporary roots because we’ve been travelling too quickly and we need a break, or sometimes we’re pet sitting, or we just need to get caught up on work so we rent an apartment.
Our Apartment in Malta
Through our own experience, we’ve found a lot of places where you can live on less, while experiencing more. While our own personal budget is higher than $1,000 USD per month, we know it’s possible to live off of that, or less, in the places I’ll list in this article.
For a point of reference, I’ll also use the online cost of living tool, Numbeo, to give these prices a bit of “proof”, but I’ll also mix it in with my own personal experiences based on spending we have done in the countries.
I’m listing countries in this article because for the most part, you can live in any part of the country for the prices I’ve expressed, but I am going to focus on the main cities that I would recommend living in each country. These are typically cities with a decent amount of amenities, a thriving expat community and plenty of good restaurants and places for remote work.
We usually find our apartments on Airbnb. If you Click Here and set up a new Airbnb account with a new email address, you’ll get a $35 credit and we’ll get some rental credit too. It’s a win-win.
This article is for all of those digital nomads out there (like us) who are always looking for new, amazing places to live, where their dollar can stretch a bit further. It’s also for those people who aren’t digital nomads (but maybe aspire to be one day), who just want to spend longer in the places they visit, or for those who simply are interested in learning about where they could potentially move to that would be exotic, exciting and affordable.
Note: All prices are in US dollars. I’ve included the prices using Numbeo, the world’s largest online cost of living index website. I’ve also included costs in our personal experience. The Numbeo numbers are likely as low as you’ll find, while our own budget is usually more mid-range. The visa information is based on our Canadian passports. Always check the visa policy before booking a trip.
Monthly Budget (Numbeo): $500.31
Our Monthly Budget: $3,140
Rent / Month (Numbeo): $196
Our Rent / Month: $1,500
Utilities / Month (Numbeo): $50
Our Utilities / Month: $75
Visa Situation: 3 Months on Arrival Easy Extension up to 1 year
Internet Speed: Fast (100mbps+)
Indonesia is one of the most beautiful countries we have ever visited and it makes for an excellent base in Asia. We set up a base in Canggu Bali for 3 months where we enjoyed a luxury pool villa, wonderful international restaurants, a cool entrepreneurial vibe and plenty of travel to nearby islands.
I started this list with Indonesia because this post is all about affordable destinations to live in and, well… there’s nowhere more affordable than Indonesia.
The only places on this list than might rival Indonesia for the best value for money are Chiang Mai, (Thailand), Greece and India. But because Indonesia has such amazing accommodation options, wonderful (and affordable) international restaurants and cheap flights in and out, I have to say that it’s the most budget friendly option that I currently know of.
The best island for quality of life in Indonesia is likely Bali. The prices here are a bit higher than many other places in the country, but there are far more amenities and plenty of expats around, which creates a market for the things that foreigners love.
The south of Bali is very busy, and more expensive, but it’s where you’ll find the most grocery stores, accommodation options and restaurants. If you’re looking for a more quiet, natural, Balinese experience, then you may want to choose a place in the north or east ends of the island. Ubud is central Bali, but it’s similar to the south in that it’s extremely busy.
If you’re a digital nomad, Canggu is the place to be. Here you’ll find endless cafes with blazing fast wi-fi, blogging conferences, co-working spaces, tons of beautiful villa options and lots of places to rent a motorbike ($50 / month).
One downside to Bali, particularly the coastal towns on the southwest coast (like Canggu), is that during the off-season the tides bring in a disgusting amount of garbage that piles up on the sandy beaches. Also, runoff from the mountain villages means that raw sewage spills into the ocean and makes it unsafe and unsanitary for swimming.
The outside of our villa in Canggu Bali – we loved this place!
These are issues that the local people of Bali are working hard to remedy, but they’re still not fixed so I recommend visiting / living in Canggu, only during the high season from May – September when the beaches and water are clean.
Visa Situation: 30 Days on arrival. Extend 30 days at a time up to 90 days total. Then must do border run. Some embassies abroad offer 3 month visa
Internet Speed: Fast (100mbps+)
Thailand is the only other place we’ve ever rented a luxury private pool villa. We have lived in Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and a short period in Bangkok (on many different occasions).
There are quite a few villa accommodation options in Koh Samui and Phuket, with fewer in Koh Phangan and very few in Koh Tao. Bangkok has plenty of beautiful apartments available as well and of course, Chiang Mai (a place we’ve only visited, but never lived in) is currently the Digital Nomad mecca.
We know from our friends’ experiences that it’s quite easy to find a nice 1-bedroom place in Chiang Mai for $200 / month or less including all bills. That’s pretty amazing. The internet in Chiang Mai is blazing fast and there are probably more bloggers and web entrepreneurs here than anywhere else.
Our favourite island to visit in Thailand was probably Koh Phangan. We rented a little beach bungalow here for a month and it cost us around $600. But for actually living, I think that the best options are Koh Samui (if you want island life) or Chiang Mai and Bangkok (if you want city life).
There are quite a few villas and more basic accommodations in Koh Samui. If you choose to book through Airbnb, you’ll probably find the prices to be quite high. Try to contact the owner outside of the platform to negotiate a price, just beware of Airbnb scams before sending any money.
View From Our villa in Koh Samui.
There are quite a few digital nomads and expats living in Bangkok and it’s probably one of our favourite cities in the world. For living, the best areas are Silom and Sukhumvit where there are great gyms, restaurants and cafes as well as plenty of parks and green space to escape the traffic.
$1,500 / Month 2 Bedroom Private Pool Villa in Koh Samui!! - YouTube
Monthly Budget (Numbeo): $309
Our Monthly Budget: $900 (travelling)
Rent / Month (Numbeo): $152
Our Rent / Month: N/A
Utilities / Month (Numbeo): $16
Our Utilities / Month: N/A
Visa Situation: 60 Days e-visa. 6 month Tourist Visa. Cannot stay in India for more than 6 months in a 1 year period.
Internet Speed: Fast (100mbps+)
You won’t find “Our Monthly Budget” or “Our Utilities” in the above list of prices because we’ve never actually lived in India. We’ve travelled the country for nearly 6 months in total, but we never had the urge to settle any temporary roots in this beautiful, chaotic and spiritual place.
India has always been one of our favourite destinations as it epitomizes everything we love about travel. The country puts together an addicting blend of culture, chaos, religion, history, architecture and cuisine and mixes it into a formula that’s as intoxicating as the sandalwood incense that always brings me right back to India whenever I smell it.
If we were to live in India for an extended period of time, without a doubt it would be in Goa. Here, everything is a bit more liberal, the men are used to seeing women in bathing suits, there’s less harassment and there’s a slower beach vibe.
We have friends who have lived in Goa for years and they love it. There is plenty of night life, lots of restaurants (Indian food is a reason to move to India in itself) and the wi-fi is decent. There are also quite a few accommodation options and India is definitely the one of the cheapest places to live that’s included in this list.
Even if you’re booking on Airbnb (typically more expensive), there are still dozens of nice apartments available for under $400 USD per month. By searching in Facebook groups and online communities, you could easily find a nice one-bedroom here for under $200 / month. There are also some gorgeous luxury pool villas available for around $1500 / month.
And, check out this post from our friend Rachel who shares what a day in the life of an expat in Goa looks like.
Monthly Budget (Numbeo): $679
Our Monthly Budget: $900
Rent / Month (Numbeo): $620
Our Rent / Month: $400
Utilities / Month (Numbeo): $60
Our Utilities / Month: $75
Visa Situation: 90 – 180 days visa apply beforehand with LOI & Proof of travel. Non-extendable
Internet Speed: Decent (20mbps+) *Many blocked websites. Get a VPN.
China is probably one of the most underrated backpacking destinations on Earth, but what about as a place to live? We spent over a year living and teaching English in the beautiful city of Yangzhou in eastern China.
We also had friends who lived on the outskirts of Shanghai and loved it. There are some obvious downsides to living in China. The pollution comes to mind first. There were some days, even in Yangzhou, that we couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us because the smog was so bad. This problem is even worse in Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu.
Moving into our Apartment in Yangzhou China
Most of the time though, the skies where we were living were clear and there are parts of China that are further away from industry and suffer from little or no air pollution. For the most part though, travellers, teachers and expats focus their time on the east coast of China. This is where there are the largest cities and the most amenities.
China is an incredible destination. There’s a lot of history here, a great vibe, friendly people and some of the best cuisine on the planet. We absolutely loved our time living in Yangzhou and we were able to live on far less than $1000 per month (even as a couple).
Dining out in China is really cheap. You can usually have a filling meal for under $5 in a restaurant, while some delicious street food meals (like dumplings, cold noodles and stir fry) can sometimes be found for $2 or less.
For teachers looking to live abroad and earn money, China is probably the best destination in the world for availability of work and quality of life. There are plenty of jobs available paying between $1,500 – $5,000 per month and most contracts include accommodation, flights, insurance and bonuses. Not interested in actually moving to China to teach? You can teach English online!
Visa Situation: 90 days on arrival. Extendable once or border run / return flight
Internet Speed: Fast (500mbps+)
While we’ve never actually lived in Malaysia, we’ve always wanted to spend a few months in Kuala Lumpur. Ever since we fell in love with this buzzing capital during our first trip back in 2008 – 2009, we’ve wondered what it would be like to live in Malaysia.
There are plenty of great places to choose to live in Malaysia including Langkawi Island, Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur. You can find decent prices on apartments on Airbnb and in local Facebook groups, but they’re definitely a bit pricier in the capital.
If we were to move to Malaysia, we would choose to base ourselves in KL. There are great accommodation options, excellent public transport and tons of bars, restaurants, cafes and nightlife.
Also, KL makes for possibly the best base in this list if you’re looking to travel to Asia and the rest of the world. This is one of the most affordable and well-connected airports and if you keep your eye on AirAsia.com for deals, sometimes you can fly to other countries in Southeast Asia for as little as $10.
Malaysia recently implemented the MM2H Plan (My Malaysian Second Home) to try to encourage foreign investment and expat retirement in the country. If one were to invest $100,000, they could be fast-tracked to Malaysian residency and eventually citizenship.
Even if you don’t want to become a resident, the visa situation here is great. Most countries get 3 months on arrival and you can extend for 60 days more for around $23. But, because flights are so cheap to nearby countries like Thailand and Singapore, many expats just choose to have a quick “vacation” in another Asian nation before returning to Malaysia for a new 90 day stamp.
Monthly Budget (Numbeo): $486
Our Monthly Budget: N/A
Rent / Month (Numbeo): $346
Our Rent / Month: N/A
Utilities / Month (Numbeo): $77
Our Utilities / Month: N/A
Visa Situation: 90 days on arrival. Extendable indefinitely (easy visa situation)
Internet Speed: Slow (Generally 5mbps +/-)
If you’re looking for a country with plenty of options of where to live, then the 7,000+ island archipelago of the Philippines is probably right up your alley. You could spend a few months in Palawan, then move to Cebu for a bit, Luzon and continue island hopping and living in different places for years and never return to the same place twice.
There are countless things to do in Chiang Mai. The city is Thailand’s rose of the north and is a huge draw for travelers. Packed with delicious food, hundreds of temples and buzzing with Thai culture, Chiang Mai is a city where it is impossible to be bored.
Located in the mountainous north of the country, the weather is cooler, the jungles are thicker and the rivers are stronger. All of this makes the area around the city an adventurer’s playground with a never ending list of things to do in Chiang Mai.
However, if trekking the jungles or riding the rapids is not your thing, Chiang Mai itself is throbbing with enough activities and sights to steal your heart. Here is my list of just a few of the incredible things to do in Chiang Mai – it’s definitely one of the top places to visit in Thailand. Have a read and plan your next adventure.
1. Visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
One of the top things to do in Chiang Mai is to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple. This beautiful golden temple sits atop of Doi Suthep mountain and is located 12 kilometers from the city. As well as being the most sacred place in Chiang Mai, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is also one of the most sacred temples in the whole of Thailand.
Along with some spectacular views, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which is an incredible 13th century golden temple, also houses a beautiful white elephant shrine and an impressive replica of the Emerald Buddha.
When you are in the city, every taxi driver and travel agent will ask to take you to see the temple. However, this is not necessary as Doi Suthep is very easy to reach. The simplest option to reach the top of the mountain is by Songthaew, one of the converted pick-ups which you will see whizzing about the city. These hop on hop off “buses” are the best way to get about Chiang Mai. Don’t miss this temple when backpacking Thailand.
2. Gorge Yourself at The Night Markets
There are so many things to do in Thailand, but this country is definitely famous for its many night markets with Chiang Mai being home to some of the best in the country. The biggest of all the nightly markets is the Night Bazaar which is located on Chang Klan Road.
By day Chang Klan is a normal road, but with the darkness comes hundreds of market stalls. These stalls sell everything from fake designer clothes to Thai lanterns and artwork. Food is also sold at the Night Bazaar but in Chiang Mai night time food stalls are everywhere offering everything from Sushi to meat on a stick.
The Night Bazaar of Chang Klan Road is open 365 days of the year no matter what the weather. Do be warned however, bartering is a must, so be prepared to haggle your socks off if you want a good price.
3. Try The Insect Buffet
Another of the many things to do in Chiang Mai is to taste the Insect buffet. These stalls which are packed with creepy crawlies are found throughout the country and are a must for many travelers.
Tasty little nibbles from tarantulas and scorpions to bugs and grasshoppers are just waiting to freak you out. Many people only wish to take a photo to show their friends back home. However, the stall owners will still charge you a dollar for a photograph. Not only is this a top attraction in Chiang Mai, but it’s one of the many popular things to do in Bangkok as well.
Insects are a great source of protein and are also incredibly easy to farm. With reports that the governments of the world would like these tasty little horrors on the menus of their own countries, it might not be long before you can eat your very own bag of crickets at home.
4. Watch a Muay Thai Fight
In Thailand Muay Thai is more than a sport, it is a religion. Trained from an incredibly young age, Muay Thai fighters are some of the most deadly in the world. Muay Thai is one of the most prolific fighting styles, and is often incorporated into mixed martial arts such as the global UFC.
In Thailand Muay Thai is everywhere, from back alley rings to stadiums filled with cheering spectators. It is also not uncommon to see young children fighting in the ring. Muay Thai is one of the very few ways to earn good money in Thailand for some of the poorer families and also draws incredible respect.
The two main stadiums in Chiang Mai are Thaphae Boxing Stadium and also Kawila Boxing Stadium. If you would like to see a fight, ask any Songthaew or Tuk-Tuk and they will take you to the stadium. However, there are many smaller establishments that also put on nightly shows which are cheaper but do not have the same atmosphere.
5. Ride a Motorbike To Pai
One of the more adventurous things to do in Chiang Mai is to rent a bike and ride through the mountains to Pai. I would highly recommend this as it will be something that you will never forget.
The road from Chiang Mai to Pai is one of the most beautiful that you will ever see. This twisting, winding ribbon of tarmac is perfect for riding motorbikes. Stretching 150 kilometers north from the city, the road to Pai is surrounded by natural beauty.
Also, if you are a backpacker, Pai is a traveler’s paradise nestled in pristine National Park and is a must when in this part of the country. To learn more about this incredible little place, have a read of my Traveler’s Guide To Pai.
6. Visit Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm
Much loved by the people of Thailand, the Orchid is also a national symbol of the country. Situated just outside of Chiang Mai, is the Bai Orchid and Butterfly farm. Here it is possible to see thousands of beautiful butterflies and blooming flowers all year round.
It is also possible to buy your very own seedlings from the Bai Orchid so that you can grow your own flowers at home. One of the big draws in the souvenir shop are the golden Orchid’s. These are Orchids that have been dipped into gold and transformed into beautiful jewelry. These are highly sought after throughout the country.
Bai Orchid is one of those love it or hate it places. However, if you are a lover of flowers and butterflies, the 40 Baht entrance fee is definitely worth it. If flowers and butterflies are not really your thing, then this may be one of the things to do in Chiang Mai that you should give a miss.
Don't Forget Your Travel Insurance!
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7. Receive a Thai Massage From a Prisoner
This is one for those that are looking for things to do in Chiang Mai that are a little different. Thai massages are available on almost every street in the country. However, the women’s prison in the city runs a scheme for soon to be released prisoners, where they are taught life skills to help them reintegrate into society.
Receiving a Thai Massage from an inmate of the prison is something that you will never forget. The women are supervised at all times and there is no risk of foul play.
This is also a great help to the women as it can be very difficult for them to find jobs once they leave prison. As well as the Thai massage there is also a little cafe where you can enjoy some tasty Thai food and a patio garden where you can wait.
8. Ride in a Tuk-Tuk
It is impossible to visit Thailand and not take a ride in one of the local Tuk-Tuks. These nippy little vehicles are found all over Thailand and are a fun way to get about the city. Each region of the country has its own style of Tuk-Tuk and Chiang Mai is no different.
However, I would not advise that you take Tuk-Tuks in Thailand often. A ride in a Tuk-Tuk is more expensive than a taxi and can become quite a hassle if you let them. A short trip in a Tuk-Tuk can be a bright and entertaining way to whizz about the city.
Also known as Auto Rickshaws, taking a ride in a Tuk-Tuk is just one more of the many great things to do in Chiang Mai.
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties in Chiang Mai. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!
Tommy Huts – From $13 / Night, Rating 9.7. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
☞ Click here to see all accommodation options available in Chiang Mai on Booking.com
9. Take a Dip at The San Kamphaeng Hot Springs – one of the most relaxing things to do in Chiang Mai
Next up is the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs. Situated to the northeast of Chiang Mai, the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs are nestled in the high hills surrounded by both woods and mountains.
High sulphur levels in the water means that the springs have been transformed into mineral baths. Along with the baths there is also a natural mineral swimming pool, and massage facilities. The San Kamphaeng Hot Springs are a great place to just kick back and relax.
If you do make it to the hot springs, make sure to buy an egg. Strangely, eggs are available for you to boil in the hotter springs.
10. Try Durian, The World’s Smelliest Fruit
Durian, the smelliest fruit in the world is banned in hotels and public spaces throughout Asia. Not to be mistaken for the very similar Jackfruit, Durian is destructive to all but the strongest noses.
For some people the taste is worth the smell, whereas others hate both the taste and the ungodly odour. If you would like to see which side of the scale you fall under, Durian is quite easy to get.
By asking around in most markets you will soon find a piece of the so-called “King of Fruits”. Why it has been christened such is beyond me, but then I have never dared take the plunge. Give me scorpions and tarantulas and I will eat them any day of the week, give me Durian however, and I will run for the hills.
11. Go White Water Rafting
If you happen to be visiting Chiang Mai during the wet season and are looking for a little adventure, this is one for you. White Water Rafting is most definitely one of the more adventurous things to do in Chiang Mai.
White Water Rafting in Chiang Mai is not for the faint of heart. But with its tropical climate, steep mountains and beautiful scenery, the area possesses perfect conditions for the sport.
Many companies in Chiang Mai offer White Water Rafting Tours, with all saying they are the best. I would advise you to check Tripadvisor and read the reviews. See what others have said and make your own mind up about which company to choose.
12. Take a Thai Cooking Class
Once you have travelled through Thailand, there is no doubt that you will fall in love with the food. From Red and Green Curries to Khao Soi and Pad Thai, the food in Thailand is amazing.
One of the great things to do in Chiang Mai is to take a Thai cooking class so that once you return home you can take the tastes of Thailand with you.
Chiang Mai offers many places where you can take a Thai cooking class. Signs are posted at various points throughout the tourist areas of the city, all offering to teach you the secrets of Thai food. Another great way to find good classes is by using Tripadvisor. Alternatively you could ask other travelers, this is always a great way of garnering information.
13. Enjoy the Sunday Street Market
Try to plan your trip to Chiang Mai for a weekend so you can stick around and enjoy the Sunday night market. During this time, the Old City is closed off to traffic, and is taken over by numerous vendors selling their art, food and crafts.
Everyone comes out on a Sunday night to enjoy this market. Not to mention, it’s an excellent place to find reduced rates on souvenirs and other trinkets. No interested in buying anything? Sit down and enjoy a foot massage, sip on some Thai tea, and gorge yourself on delicious Thai food.
14. Try a Hundred Year Old Egg
Do you have a strong stomach? Do you like a challenge? Then maybe eating a Hundred Year Egg is one of your things to do in Chiang Mai. Also known as a Century Egg or a thousand Year Egg, this is an Asian delicacy which is eaten throughout this part of the world.
The egg is preserved for several weeks or months using various different methods including the use of clay ash and salt. However, as the saying goes, the Hundred Year Egg’s bark is far worse than its bite. Both the blackness of the egg and the smell are far worse than the actual taste.
The Hundred Year Eggs can be found at most markets throughout Chiang Mai. Try one yourself and get a photo to terrorise your more squeamish friends back home.
15. Bathe an Elephant at The Elephant Nature Park
With so many stories about the horrendous lives that these beautiful animals live, The Elephant Nature Park is a bright light in the darkness. The Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary which is located just one hour from Chiang Mai.
The sanctuary is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating these majestic creatures from the horrid lives that they have been forced to live. The park offers hotel pick up which makes it incredibly easy to reach.
Visitors to the Elephant Nature Park are given an elephant education and can also feed and bathe the animals. This is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai, and is a highlight of any trip.
16. Devour The local Food
As stated earlier, Thai food is some of the most tasty in the world. Sometimes it seems that there is a never ending menu of deliciousness when exploring the gastronomic side of Thailand. From street food and the night markets to the restaurants and beach bars, Thai food will never disappoint.
Make sure to try dishes such as the Coconut Curry and Pad Krapow. Also do not forget to grab some Mango Sticky Rice to keep up your energy as you are exploring the city.
Another great thing about the food in Chiang Mai is just how cheap it all is. If you grab a meal from one of the many street vendors, you will pay only a couple of dollars.
17. Watch a Ladyboy Cabaret Show
You can not travel to Thailand and not see a Ladyboy Cabaret Show and Chiang Mai offers some of the best in the country. Many people are often surprised just how good the shows are. They are fun and entertaining and a great way to spend the night.
In England, Ladyboy Cabaret shows have become a huge draw for nights out such as work and Hen Parties. These, however, have nothing on the Chiang Mai Ladyboy Cabaret shows.
You will have no trouble finding a show, just ask a taxi driver to take you. You may be surprised at the many different people you see attending. From backpackers to businessmen, everybody loves a good night out.
Pack Your Bags for Chiang Mai!
Chiang Mai is a city that will keep you entertained for as long as you allow it to. Not for nothing is Thailand one of the top tourist destinations on the planet. How many of the 17 are you going to do? Or if you have already been to Chiang Mai, what else do you think should be on the list? Sound off in the comments below.
Now that we’re stationary for a while, living and working in the Caribbean, we’ve finally been getting some things done on this website that were way overdue. One of those things was creating our Free Beginner Blogger Course for all new bloggers who start their blog with us, and another important job was moving our site to a new host.
In this post, I’m going to explain not only why we switched from Siteground to Bluehost, but also how this switch helped our site more than we ever thought possible. Believe it or not, or load speed is twice as fast, our traffic is 20% higher and we have the best service I could ask for, and all of this is cheaper than the hosting plan we were paying for at Siteground.
What is a host?
Basically every blog online has a host. It’s the big company that has massive servers all over the world that “host” your website so that it can be served to viewers worldwide. All bloggers have to pay for hosting if they own their domain and brand, but not all hosts are created equal! If you don’t have a blog yet, Click Here to start one with Bluehost and receive our Beginner Blogger 4-Part Video Course for free.
When we first started out, we were on HostGator, but we soon realized that HostGator wasn’t the best host in the world. The site was loading pretty slow and we had a lot of down time. That’s when we moved to Siteground. Siteground was totally fine, but as their company started to grow, and as our blog started to grow, we noticed that we were still having a lot of downtime and we started to question the quality of the host.
It wasn’t until this past year, that we really became frustrated with Siteground. Just to be clear, Siteground isn’t a bad host. No host is perfect and because their so massive, there are going to be times when they’re unable to serve their customers the way they expect to be served.
But Siteground actually made some CRITICAL mistakes to our site on two separate occasions and we became totally fed up. On top of that, the site was running EXTREMELY slow, despite us spending over $175 / month on our hosting plan (which is quite high).
Disclaimer: It’s important that I’m 100% transparent before writing this post. I have not been paid by Bluehost to write this article, nor am I sponsored by Bluehost. We are an affiliate for Bluehost. We recommend them to our readers and social media followers because we think they are the best host available and if our readers use our links to purchase, they get 60% off their hosting plan, and we receive a commission. As affiliates, we also receive free hosting. I’ve been offered free hosting from numerous hosts, and I could make just as much money as an affiliate for Siteground or Dreamhost. I recommend Bluehost because I use them for all my sites and I think they are the best host for new & established blogs.
Siteground Problem #1
At the beginning of 2017, our site was going down, A LOT. I mean, if I was working on Goats On The Road for 4 hours, I’d probably see it down 3-4 times in that period, which is unacceptable. Not only does this slow down our workflow, but it means that we’re potentially missing out on thousands of visitors to our blog. Not cool.
When I contacted Siteground, they said the issue was too many bots crawling our site and overloading it. So, they recommended that I upgrade and pay more money. So I did. But the issue kept happening, so I upgraded again. Eventually, the problem got so bad that I had to turn on “Auto-Scaling”, which basically meant that Siteground would automatically upgrade my account and charge me accordingly.
Every month my bill was changing but it was usually around $175, and yet still, this blog was going offline WAY too often. On my final call to Siteground I was complaining about the issue and saying nothing is fixing it and I was tired of throwing money at it. So, the customer support rep said he added some code and everything would be fine.
Finally the site was running and me, not knowing the first thing about “code”, thought it would be okay. Over a month passed when we realized that our traffic was down by nearly 50%. At the time, I didn’t really put 2 and 2 together to realize that it may have been this “code” causing the drop in traffic.
We tried everything to boost up our traffic again. We wrote a lot of articles, boosted our social shares, but still, Goats On The Road was suffering. Finally I had to hire our developer who immediately noticed a code in the .htaccess file which was blocking ALL bots from crawling our site. This means that Google wasn’t sending us traffic (or very little traffic).
After the code was removed, it took another couple of weeks for all of the bots to “recrawl” the site and finally our site was back to normal.
In total, this little “coding problem” cost us over 100,000 new visitors in just under 2 months time and who knows how much revenue. At this point, we stopped recommending Siteground on this blog and began recommending Bluehost. We also started a new site on Bluehost shortly after this was fixed.
Siteground Problem #2
A few months after fixing the code and sending in a complaint to Siteground, I realized that the site needed to have a SSL certificate. I won’t get to geeky in explaining this, but basically it makes our site “secure” with an https:// at the start instead of an http://.
I contacted Siteground and they helped set up the SSL certificate. But, no surprise, they messed it up somehow. For months, our site was not properly secure and thus, Pinterest wasn’t allowing any users of their app access our site. We normally see around 20,000 visitors per month from Pinterest, but during this period we were down to around 7,000.
We didn’t notice this for over a month and when we finally did, it took weeks of emailing Pinterest, contacting Siteground and bugging our developer to help us with the problem.
During this time of the Pinterest issue, I moved the site over to Bluehost. I had asked Siteground numerous times to help me with the problem, but they claimed it was my developer’s fault. I was simply fed up with the poor customer service and terrible issues we were having with Siteground. Low and behold, Pinterest started working as soon as we switched the site to Bluehost!
After the site was moved over, I finally got a reply from Siteground and the advanced tech team told me that there was actually an issue with the SSL certificate that was causing the Pinterest app to not load our website. They told me that they fixed the code and all would be fine, but by this time, I was happily moved over to Bluehost.
How Good Has Bluehost Been?
I have to say that the change has been much more effective than we ever thought it would’ve been. We moved from an auto-scaled “GoGeek” Shared Hosting Plan at Siteground, to a Premium Dedicated Hosting Plan at Bluehost.
Shared Hosting vs Dedicated Hosting
First, I should explain the difference between these two. Shared hosting means that many blogs are sharing the same server, meaning that if one blog is getting a ton of traffic, and your blog isn’t, your blog will still slow down. Dedicated Server means that you have your own server specifically for your own blog.
This is the amazing part. The dedicated hosting plan that I have at Bluehost is actually cheaper than the GoGeek Shared Hosting Plan that I had with Siteground. With Siteground, the cost was $155 / month on average (depending on the auto-scaling), and with Bluehost the total price is just $119 / month… flat.
Of course, new bloggers would never have to spend that much, but even Bluehost’s basic hosting is cheaper, particularly when you use our Goats On The Road discount. The normal price for the cheapest hosting with Siteground is $4.95 per month, while Bluehost usually charges $3.95 / month depending on the available deals, but with our discount it’s just $2.95 / month. That’s a discount of around 40% when compared to similar plans with most other hosts.
Whether you’re a pro blogger or you’re just starting out, Bluehost offers cheaper hosting plans and, in my experience, faster servers and better customer service.
This was the main reason we were moving to Bluehost. We knew that we had outgrown our current hosting plan with Siteground and we were looking for a dedicated server plan. It took us a long time to switch because with a site as large as Goats On The Road, you really have to be online for a few weeks to ensure that the move goes well and everything is still working properly.
As we had been travelling around South America, Europe and Asia for most of 2017, we kept putting off the big job of migrating to Bluehost.
We looked at quite a few different hosts, because there are some excellent ones out there for bigger blogs, but they cost $250 / month. I assumed that I would have to go with an expensive host like Performance Foundry or WPEngine because our site has a considerable amount of traffic.
We’ve been recommending Bluehost on this site for over a year, because we use them on our other sites and they have great support and speed, but we didn’t realize they had such an epic Dedicated Server plan.
Before moving over, Bluehost confirmed with me that our blog would be faster on their server, period. This was enough to help me make the decision, so we started the move.
The numbers really speak for themselves:
Speed Test On Siteground Servers ($155 / month)
Speed Test on Bluehost Servers ($119 / month)
Okay, so for non-bloggers or new bloggers, the images above might look a little bit confusing. In the most basic terms, The site was loading at 5.13 seconds with Siteground and now it’s loading in 3.55 seconds with Bluehost. That’s over 30% increase in load time!
But that’s the time it takes to actually load the entire site. What’s more important is what the user sees and what Google Sees, which is why I’ve also circled TTFB (Time To First Byte) and DOM (Document Object Model). TTFB is the time the server takes to respond to the query and this is what Google uses to measure (and potentially penalize) sites for their load speed time. DOM is basically how long it takes for the user to be able to fully see and interact with the page.
So, as you can see from the screen shots above, The user is now able to fully see and interact with the page within 1.4 seconds, while at Siteground, it was taking a full 3.3 seconds.
The increase in DOT page load time is more than double, which means that the site is loading twice as fast for our website visitors. In fact, TTFB time with Siteground was a grueling 1.6 seconds. That means it took 1.6 seconds before the Siteground server even reacted to someone requesting access to the site.
With Bluehost, that reaction happens in just 200 milliseconds and the entire site loads before Siteground’s servers even reacted to the query. This means that the entire site now loads faster than Siteground’s severs even knew a site existed there.
This is incredible for us and it will not only mean faster load times, but far better SEO.
Which brings me to my next point…
Increase in Traffic
When moving from a shared hosting plan to a dedicated server, it’s really no surprise that the site is twice as fast. There’s a lot more power in this server and it’s working overtime to help Goats On The Road serve the quarter million page views it sees each month.
What comes with increased speed however, is increased traffic. For one, Google penalizes sites that have less than 2 seconds to first byte load time on mobile search queries, so speed is definitely a factor in SEO, but also, users simply click away if your site takes too long to load.
Our traffic has gone up from 31,700 / week to 37,800 per week since moving to Bluehost and it’s still climbing. That’s an increase of over 20% so far. Of course, a ton of factors can contribute to a traffic boost like this, but we’re just happy to see it.
Google Analytics is also reporting far better load speeds for our site. With Siteground we were averaging 27.73 second speed rating, which is very high. Since switching to Bluehost and fixing the caching for the site, we’re now loading at an average speed of 17.28 according to Google. That’s an increase of 37%!
I was fed up with the customer service at Siteground. Period. They answer quickly, but for the most part they were unable to help us with the site and if they did help us, they often make vital mistakes that caused serious issues for our site and our business.
I’ve been working with Bluehost for our other sites and for all of our new bloggers who start their blog with us and they’ve been amazing. Sure, there are some issues from time to time when people have a hard time figuring out what needs to be done, but that’s bound to happen with the complexity of a WordPress Website.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with their support. For Goats On The Road, I have a dedicated support team to help me with my site, but even for my other sites that are running on the cheapest and most basic hosting plans, I’m getting a customer service chat response time of under a minute and I’ve had great customer service so far.
The Bluehost tech support agent who moved Goats On The Road from Siteground to Bluehost for me was also amazing. Not only did he move the site with no downtime, he also sent me speed reports and exact details of how the site improved via a 10 minute video uploaded to YouTube! Talk about going above and beyond.
Bluehost hasn’t always been such a great host and they have had some customer support issues in the past. For a while there, they grew so quickly that they really couldn’t keep up with the customer demand. One of my favourite bloggers Pat Flynn, has been recommending Bluehost for years and he actually went to their headquarters to talk to them because his readers had been complaining about their customer service.
Since then (early 2017), Bluehost smartened up… big time. Their customer support now usually answers in under a minute and they have a massive advanced tech team that can help with pretty much any problem. I hosted with Bluehost a few years ago and since moving back, I definitely notice the improvements and my team at Bluehost keep reassuring me that they’re only getting better.
Should You Switch Hosts?
If you’re a new blogger, it’s probably not worth it to switch hosts right away. Your site will run just fine on pretty much any host until it gets a lot of traffic. But as your blog starts to grow, you will want to consider moving it to a faster plan and a better host.
That’s not the purpose of this post though. I’m not trying to “convert” everyone who reads this post. People love different hosts for different reasons. I’ve been reading a lot of comments from people complaining about all different hosts online. Some complain about Siteground, some complain about HostGator or Dreamhost and some complain about Bluehost.
Image By: WPbeginner
The fact is, everyone will have a different experience with their host and no host is perfect. But the way I see it, the most important thing for my site is speed and reliability and that’s what I’ve received from Bluehost that I never had from Siteground and HostGator. Their servers are super fast (even the cheapest plans) and they have amazing prices, often 25%-35% lower than the other, slower hosts.
That’s why I switched and we had so many issues with Siteground and HostGator that I thought I’d write this post.
Want To Start a New WordPress Blog With Bluehost?
Bluehost has been recommended by WordPress.com for over 10 years and they have specific hosting plans that are dedicated to WordPress websites. If you don’t have a blog yet and wish to start one today, you will get our free 4-part video course and our 200-page Blogging ebook for free.
I can’t believe it took us this long to move over to Bluehost. We’ve wanted to do it for over a year, but just kept putting it off for some reason. There always seemed to be some other project we were working on and I wasn’t ready to move the site.
Now that it’s moved, I really wish we had done it sooner. Not only would we had retained that traffic that Siteground lost us by making numerous mistakes, we would have also had faster load time over all of these months and we would’ve saved over $400 / year on our hosting!
Not all hosts are created equal and every blogger..
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