London has the red double-decker bus, New York the yellow taxi, and the Philippines has the Jeepney.
I have never heard of “jeepney” before, but once I travelled to the Philippines, I had to add this word to my travel vocabulary list. In today’s post, I want to introduce this extremely interesting vehicle to you and I hope you will have a chance to have a ride one day.
What is Jeepney?
Jeepney is the Philippines’ most popular mean of public transport, extremely cheap and pretty comfortable, used by most of the locals. It is also known as Jeeps and in Filipino you would call it Dyipne or Dyip.
Because of its open rear door design, picking up and dropping off is easy for both passengers and drivers, although there’s quite a lot of shuffling inside.
Each vehicle represents the multi-cultural history of the Philippines.
As one of first makers of Jeepneys, Ed Sarao says: “There is bit of Spanish, Mexican traits there; how they incorporate vivid colors, fiesta-like feelings. There is a little of the Americans because it evolved from the Jeep. There is a little Japan because of the Japanese engine. But it was built by Filipino hands.”
Cool jeepney in Banaue
The bulk of Jeepneys are built from second-hand Japanese trucks, originally intended for cargo. It is devoid of passenger comforts. Depending on length, it can load from 18 to 30 passengers, the drivers are usually waiting for a full load before going their way, but that may differ depending on the route (drivers know best what’s the most profitable way for them).
Colorful jeepney in Banaue
What is so special about Jeepneys?
They all qualify as “art-on-wheels”! Probably no two jeepneys are alike. The jeepney art is impressive and it is a combination of artwork applied by airbrush and sticker artists.
Many jeepneys concentrate the art on the front, insanely cramming the hood area with accessories, the sides with empty galvanized expanses or scatterings of ads and small art. Some are gleamingly and colorfully wrapped with accessories and airbrushed or stickered art. The main art theme are religious symbols.
Jeepney driver in Manila
Where can you find Jeepneys?
The answer is EVERYWHERE in the Philippines! During the day they go on fixed routes, picking up passengers from designated stops. There are roughly 50,000 Jeepneys roaring around Manila on any given day so there is no way you won’t spot at least 1 when strolling down the streets.
How Much is the Jeepney Ride?
Getting around may cost as little as 8 pesos which is $0.20. However, different routes / distances/ cities may have different prices. For an average Filipino, jeepneys are the cheapest way to get from one place to another, without walking.
Taking a jeepney at night in Manila
For budget travelers, jeepneys are one of the best and most comfortable transport options. Drivers normally speak English (like most of the Filipinos) so you can easily get to your destination for a few cents.
Cez trying to get off a jeepney
What it’s Like to Ride in a Jeepney?Pros of Jeepney:
Picking up and dropping off is easy for both passengers and drivers, they can stop anywhere unlike buses. You can catch one from nearly any place you are at.
It’s a good opportunity to talk to some locals and get to know people.
Less likely you’ll get ripped off (the prices are normally fixed) unlike some buses and most taxis.
There is plenty of space inside to sit down and unfold your legs (unless it’s fully packed).
Not much will protect you from the elements (imagine a ride in the rain).
It’s not very safe (no seat belts and drivers drive like crazy).
Most of the jeepneys are overloaded with passengers so you might end up squeezed feeling like being in a can of sardines (shoulder-unto-armpit, back-unto-chest, shoulder-unto-shoulder, elbow-unto-hipbone).
This article is dedicated to helping people become more aware of their surroundings and learning how to avoid tourist scams. Traveling has its dangers, after all – we want to help you overcome any challenge, and see your holiday through to the end.
Interacting with locals is one of the most rewarding feelings when it comes to travelling.
As a general rule, it’s helpful to keep the following tips in mind. For one, make sure your whole group is aware of the daily traveling schedule. You can’t get sidetracked if you stick to a plan. Next, avoid giving out information about your plans, lodgings, or personal matters to strangers.
Only keep small amounts of cash on you if you’re sure you won’t need it where you’re going. Even then, try keeping a safe amount back at the hotel safe (if applicable). This way you avoid impulse spending, as well as deterring you from falling into some traps. They can’t scam you if you don’t have any money.
Stick Together with Your Group
Also, no matter how friendly a stranger may seem – don’t get singled out from your group. Most of all don’t follow people you don’t know – anywhere. Remember that common courtesy only applies if the other person acts just as polite. Don’t be afraid of saying a firm “NO” to people who won’t leave you be.
Stick to your group and you will be fine. :)
Another good way to avoid tourist scams is simply to not be intoxicated in an unfamiliar place (like restaurants or bars). Everyone likes a refreshing beer on their holiday. Just make sure you’re around people you trust.
Last, but not least, do your research. You can’t be fooled if you’ve done your homework. You should know the goings-on at your destination, along with how much pocket money is enough on a daily basis. Before booking or buying anything, settle the prices clearly. Vendors and providers can use misunderstandings to their advantage (your loss!). Oh, and always keep a receipt.
Do your research properly and don’t get fooled by anyone.
These should be common sense most of the time. Though, you’d be surprised how many people abandon common sense when faced with unfamiliar surroundings. Now that those are out of the way, let’s have a look at the top tourist scams you need to avoid.
Foreign Exchange (ForEx) Fraud
It’s quite difficult to avoid tourist scams involving ForEx – especially when you visit countries with multiple exchange rates or currencies (like Venezuela and Cuba). Venezuela’s economic crisis has created two exchange rates – one official, one black market. Obviously, the official one will be to your disadvantage. Make sure to discuss which exchange rate you will use.
Watch Your Currency
One other famous example is the currency swap you can find in China. If you ever buy from street merchants (we’ll admit, some souvenirs are hard to pass up) be mindful of the change they give you. It’s not uncommon to receive a Ruble note instead of a Yuan, which is way less valuable. You should also not accept bills with obvious signs of damage. Other vendors might not take them.
Always be careful with your money!
There are also some legitimate practices that will nonetheless leave a hole in your wallet. One of these is called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). Vendors want to “help” make things less confusing by allowing you to pay in your home currency. The catch is, as always, a really bad exchange rate.
Unconvincing Money Collectors
On a related note (no pun intended), watch out for fraudulent “money collectors.” A local will stop you on the street, get out some pocket change, and tell you that they collect money from every country. They obviously expect you to fall for the trick and give them one of your own bills.
Most of the locals are extremely friendly but watch out money collectors.
That aspect in itself is a bit humorous. Just think of it – a money collector who has never seen a Euro or Dollar?
Government Imposter Scams – Fake Police et al.
It’s hard to avoid tourist scams in a situation where you see a police uniform. Tourists generally don’t know much about local laws and customs. The scammer has an easy time playing on that fear of having done something wrong or illegal.
Try to distinguish local real police with fake scam police.
Let’s take the most common example:
You get pulled over or accosted by someone driving a police car.
They threaten you with a steep fine for whatever reason.
Unless you would rather get out of it by paying a small fee, that is.
Real policemen would not attempt such things.
However, you shouldn’t start screaming for help or other such rash decisions. The scammer could be holding a weapon (though they often aren’t). Simply tell them that you would like to head to the police station or a simple hotel lobby nearby. That generally deters them, and they wouldn’t risk assaulting somebody in the open street for some petty cash.
Never Hand Your Wallet to Anyone
Another case is where the fake police officer mentions there counterfeit bills are rolling in the area. They offer to inspect your wallet for guilty bills. Don’t give it to them. They will just run off with it or snatch a couple of bills when you aren’t looking. Avoid tourist scams like this by understanding how officers actually behave in these situations.
Be careful of the old “dropped wallet” scam.
Of course, they can also get craftier with their schemes by adding in a few accomplices. You’ve probably heard about the “dropped wallet” scam. A lucky fellow just happens upon one in the street and asks you if you want to split the money. The fake police officer comes on the scene and accuses you of stealing. He asks to see your wallet, just in case you already dipped into the funds.
There’s also a variation on the above. The accomplice comes over asking for directions, or even asking if you want a part in something illegal. When the fake cop casually overhears your conversation, they’ll accuse you of buying drugs or something similar. Don’t give them your passport when they ask to inspect it! Follow the advice we mentioned before, and you should be fine.
Don’t give your passport to anyone.
Some scammers dress in government officials and ask tourists for souvenirs. Can you guess what those souvenirs are? Exactly – money. If they notice you didn’t pull out a decent amount, they even have the nerve to ask for more!
Taking the Taxi
Being wary of cab rides is probably the best way to avoid tourist scams for most travelers. We all know how cabbies like to take unwary visitors on scenic taxi drives just to get a little extra cash. Avoiding this can be difficult. At least you can ask your hotel for an approximation of the cab fare from the airport.
On the other hand, you should watch out for cabbies that don’t activate their meter. You could end up paying up to triple the price! Most countries require them to turn it on by law, anyway. There’s also the risk of running into taxis with a device called a “turbine.” This gadget makes the meter run faster than usual. The driver keeps you distracted by showing you the sights, so you won’t notice the scam taking place.
As much as we love to bring you exciting and inspiring travel tales here at eTramping, occasionally we feel obliged to deliver a message on a more serious note. And let’s face it, insurance is about as unexciting and uninspiring as an article could possibly get. Nonetheless, it is a subject that needs to be broached from time to time, particularly as it’s a vital part of traveling, yet something that many would-be nomadic types still regularly overlook. This is due in no small part to it all being rather confusing, expensive, and as mentioned – more than a little dull.
It’s probably a good idea to have cover for this.
Which is why we’ve decided to pen this little article to hopefully make things a little easier when it comes to choosing the right insurance for traveling. And as we are digital nomads ourselves, we’re focussing more on cover for the long-term globetrotters amongst you – because that is quite different to shorter trips. So, let’s rip the band-aid off and jump right in, with as little jargon as possible. The quicker we can then get back to the fun stuff.
Do You Need Insurance in the First Place?
Ahhh, the eternal question among travelers, a debate that will no doubt rage for many a year. The short answer is yes – you do. If you choose not to take it, you’re playing fast and loose with your financial stability, and, more importantly – your health. Quite simply there are many things you’ll experience in this life that you have little to no control over. Some of those things will impact your ability to do the things you want to do. Like my less-than-pleasant accident in China.
Putting a brave face on.
I won’t labour the point, suffice to say I was eternally thankful to be covered for medical expenses after twisting my knee while fooling around in a classroom entertaining students. The bill ran into the thousands, and on your head be it if you decide not to prepare for such a possibility. You’re welcome to take the risk, if you prefer so.
A Little Terminology
First of all, let’s clear a few things up – because insurance terminology can get your head in a spin. It is most important you know the type of cover you’re going to be applying for, so, let’s do some definitions.
Never leave home without it – but it’s more suited to those going on shorter trips – let’s say for up to 12 months. Gap year students, backpackers, and volunteers abroad are likely to look at this option, which will only give you basic cover for emergencies, short-term illnesses or theft/loss of belongings. You’ll also have a permanent address in your home country – not useful if you intend to be of no fixed abode for any length of time.
Likely to be what you already have back home, either private or from the state. Full cover for any medical eventuality. This is also ideal if you plan on settling down outside your own country, as it’ll cover everything from regular check-ups, to accident and emergencies and more serious, long-term illnesses. It’s not particularly useful if you’re going to be moving around – you’ll find it might not cover you in every corner of the globe.
Travel Health/Medical Insurance
Now we’re talking. This is the insurance we personally use as digital nomads. Comprehensive health insurance when you’re on the go. If it’s worth it’s salt, it’ll last as long as you need it, rather than you being required to return home to renew every 6 months. For those who don’t know where they’re likely to be tomorrow, next week, month or year – but need peace of mind in case the unthinkable happens – this will cover the lot. But what should that actually be?
Thankfully, Agness cheered me up.
The Cover You Need
Here’s an at-a-glance checklist for what you should get covered for as a digital nomad. You’ll notice that most policies will cover more than listed here in the small print – but these are the basics.
Accidents and emergencies. Eg – twisting your knee or suffering Montezuma’s revenge.
Round-the-clock emergency service support. Including search and rescue, evacuation and transport.
Lost, stolen or damaged luggage.
Other travel assistance. Eg delays, emergency accommodation.
Coverage for every country you visit.
Bear in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list – merely the very least you should expect. Each policy will be different, and it’s up to you to structure one that caters for your needs. For example, if you’re regularly engaging in winter sports or visiting the US – both of which will usually involve more costly premiums.
Snowshoeing is still a winter sport, right?!
Aside from all the health and medical assistance, many digital nomads want their insurance to cover the loss, damage or theft of their personal belongings. I don’t mince my words when I say that to lose a laptop as a globetrotting entrepreneur would be similar to losing a limb. Well, perhaps not quite that bad – but not all companies will foot such a bill. And we recommend only covering the expensive gear – insuring a $50 camera isn’t worth it at all.
Lost without laptops.
As previously mentioned you need to make sure your insurance covers you for each country you’re going to be in or traveling to. Don’t just take it as a given – thoroughly examine all your benefits before embarking to said destination so you don’t get any nasty shocks later. Countries like North Korea might send a cold shiver down the spines of insurers, far more than say, Iceland.
Which Company to Choose?!
Yes, it’s a selection headache, and we could potentially rattle off pages and pages comparing different companies and you might still be none-the-wiser. But, in the interests of getting to the point and not boring you to tears, we have chosen to use SafetyWing ourselves. They have rapidly become something of a godsend for worldly wanderers everywhere.
That’s because (and it’s been a long time coming) it’s travel medical insurance for digital nomads BY digital nomads. These guys know a thing or two about the nomadic lifestyle, rather than simply catering to tourists or short-term travelers, as most insurance companies are wont to do. We long-termers finally have a voice – and an affordable one at that. Mind you, though, this is our choice and we are not giving advice for your personal situation here.
Aside from cover that ticks most of our boxes, they offer the most competitive premiums on the market. At $37 every 4 weeks, there isn’t another company that can match them (unless you do make a trip back home every 6 months). You can already be on the road when you join them. For us roamers, that really was an attractive proposition. You’ll also be covered for up to 30 days should you wish to return “home” for any reason.
The official eTramping seal of approval.
Of course, there are other options available. World Nomads are another excellent travel insurance company, while Liaison Majestic, Bupa Global, and Allianz also jockey for favour. They come at a cost though, so you’ll need to shell out some of your hard-earned online cash to afford them.
If you happen to be European, you can use your European Health Insurance Card in any EU country (and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), but it still really is only a temporary solution and isn’t comprehensive. You won’t be able to renew it if you’re no longer a resident in your home country.
I travel insurance. Maybe not quite as good for a hoodie slogan.
And we certainly don’t advise relying on your credit card cover if you have it, usually limited to 90 days and totally unsuitable for independent and remote workers. Handy as an incentive from your bank, pretty useless for a digital nomad.
Private Health Care
Finally, you could always try and go it alone. You might very well know many travelers who never took out insurance, and if they ever got into difficulty they covered costs out of their own pocket at private clinics. This is all very well and good should it be little more than a routine check-up, but if – in a worst case scenario – you were to require serious medical attention, then unless you’re rolling in cash you might find your nomadic lifestyle will come to a swift and untimely end.
To Sum Up
In our extensive experience, it’s a no brainer. It’s simply not worth the risk to not take out travel medical insurance. Even if you’re the healthiest person in the world, at a sprightly 19-years-of-age, you never know when a piano is going to get dropped on your head. Maybe if you’re only going on a short break you can fly by the seat of your pants a bit more. But if you’re serious about a long-term nomadic lifestyle, exploring the far-flung corners of the globe will wild abandon – then you need to have a
Ask any traveler over a certain age – for argument’s sake, let’s say anyone born before 1975 – what it was like to travel before the advent of the technology we have today. We’re pretty sure you’ll be astounded with the responses – and also equally impressed! Before we had mobile phones, computers, apps, and GPS, you would have to be much more prepared and organized when embarking on a travel adventure, otherwise, you might find yourself in seriously deep water.
Is phone your best technology resource when it comes to travelling the world?
It was a vastly different experience then, and one which you could debate for hours on the merits of pre-tech travel, the advantages and disadvantages compared with today. Perhaps we’ll save that for another post! Right now, here’s a run-down of the best tech resources to make your travel easier.
While it is possible to travel phoneless – and we know fellow travelers who have refused to own one while being on the road for over six years – being able to access a smartphone will do wonders for making travel easier. It’s astounding just how smooth it makes organizing and executing your travel plans, so everything goes off without a hitch.
We’ll touch on what you need to add to it later, but unless you’re going for the full nomad, off-the-beaten-track experience, you really need one of these. You either adapt – or you die!
Enter any hostel today and you’ll probably see a dozen or so people hunched over screens and busy bashing away on the keys. Essential if you’re working remotely, such as travel blogging or writing, netbooks and laptops are now part and parcel of a traveler’s lifestyle.
Working and exploring the Colosseum at the same time.
Organizing and saving your photos, messaging friends and family, researching your next move or just binge-watching Netflix in the common area – get yourself one of these to make your life easier. We recommend something small and light too – remember this when you’re figuring out what and how to pack.
Purists among you will pour scorn on this entry, those who like to physically turn pages, and yes – it is much better to have a real book, as the feel and smell of an E-reader just isn’t the same! But traveling and reading go together like fish and chips, and it’s hard to pack several books – or even one book for that matter – such is the value of space. E-readers are a great alternative, perfect for storing several thousand novels at once, so you’re never bored while waiting to board. Don’t forget they’re invaluable for accessing new books in your chosen language when in foreign lands, as well as checking all the travel info online, for example catching up with best boating blogs and vlogs.
Packing a camera is a contentious issue, but it all really depends on what you want to get out of your travels. Some people leave them at home, believing they get in the way of making memories, while others believe they are essential in making them. It’s up to you.
I used to be pretty addicted to taking photos.
If you like taking photos – then take one along. If you don’t – leave it behind. Simple.
There’s a whole bundle of tech tricks and trinkets you can stuff into your backpack, and more being released every hour saturating an already confusing market that will have you pulling your hair out.
We’re passionate about doing away with all the fluff and only including what is absolutely necessary, what you’re actually going to use, and what will ease your packing headache. It’s bad enough as it is.
Universal travel adaptor. Spend a bit of money and invest in a good one for multiple country use. This is your friend, and you don’t want it falling apart on you.
Earphones. Essential for watching Rick and Morty at 3 am when everyone else is asleep.
That’s it. Honorable mentions might include an SD card or a USB stick, but that depends entirely on your needs. This really this is about as bare-bones as you can get.
Pretty much a no-brainer this one, as it’s probably the most invaluable travel tool at your fingertips. Most smartphones now have GPS built in, so you’ve really no excuse for getting lost anymore. Gone are the days of writing down the address of where you’re staying that night and wandering around for hours trying to find it. Google maps is awesome for finding out where you are, and where you need to go. Absolutely essential.
Of course, you can always stick your head out the window and check if it’s raining, but you can’t do that if you’re 2000 miles from your destination. There are multiple weather apps out there, but “wunderground” is incredibly accurate with an attractive interface and ease of operation. It even includes pollen levels and chances of flu outbreaks – so you know when to run for the hills in case of a zombie apocalypse.
XE Currency Converter
If you’ve got a smartphone, don’t even think about traveling without this app. XE converts money in a heartbeat at the current exchange rate, as well as having a whole host of other options nobody ever really uses. So much so that we don’t know what they are, we just know that they’re there.
How often do you use currency convertor?
The best thing though is when you add currencies to your saved list, you can access current rates even offline – which is perfect when you’re crossing a border and exchange sharks are trying to rip you off.
Invaluable when it comes to breaking the language barrier, google translate is a work of staggering genius – and it’s improving all the time. Will the art of learning a language be replaced with technological advancement? Quite possibly – which is perfect for lazy people. You can also hold your phone up to a foreign sign and google will translate it – which is extremely useful for avoiding ordering something unpleasant in restaurants.
No. Just, no!
Selfie time :)
There you go folks, a very simple run-down on what we believe to be the most essential technological wizardry you can arm yourselves with to make your travel easier. We’ve deliberately opted for a streamlined approach, but really there’s no limit to the amount of gear you can clip-on to improve your chances of returning home in one piece. We’re all turning into robots!
Do you have any tips on essential tech to make traveling easier? Share the love – we want to know!
Imagine the world, several hundred years ago, when only a small percentage of the planet was documented. They didn’t have google maps back then, did they?! Nor did they have any real concept of what was out there in the vast, dark void. But that didn’t stop them from bravely venturing forth out into the big wide world (believed to be limitless at the time – which is very big indeed) to be the first to conquer a new territory, document an exotic beast, or map our planet as we have come to know it.
These intrepid souls have gone down in history as the most inspirational travelers of all time, and without their fearlessness, our history might be an altogether different one. In today’s blog post, we salute those who have gone before us, and continue to inspire every traveler who dares to venture forth into the great unknown.
One of the most famous explorers ever to grace the seven seas, Marco Polo inspired countless of voyages after him, adventures, books, and then later films and television – and even board games. There’s little doubt he is the poster boy for exploration during the golden age of discovery. Hailing from Venice, Polo was an Italian merchant operating in the 13th century, and the first European to meet Kublai Khan – the ruler of the Mongol empire.
His writings on Asia and China in particular were ground-breaking, and the first real source of information that Europe had about the far east. However, the definitive print of this work can never actually exist, because of the difference in the manuscripts. Lost in translation you might say.
Polo was to significantly inspire another Italian – Christopher Columbus – the Genoa-born explorer credited with discovering the New World. His voyage in 1492 is perhaps one of the most famous of all time, as he set sail westwards from Spain, expecting to reach Japan to open up a new East India trade route.
Instead, he happened upon the rather large continent of the Americas, and the rest is history. The fact that North America had already been discovered by a Norse explorer in the 11th century is often overlooked, but Columbus himself had accomplished his goal of spreading the word of the Catholic church in Central and South America.
Not to be outdone, the Portuguese had their own fearless seafaring adventurer in Ferdinand Magellan, the man credited with the first circumnavigation expedition in 1519 to 1522. It took much longer to get around the circumference of the planet back then. Actually setting out in a Spanish backed voyage to sail to the East Indies, Magellan managed to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the process.
He went on to discover the Philippines but was to meet his end there while attempting to convert the islanders to Christianity. Magellan’s legacy nonetheless continues, particularly when it comes to naming spacecraft or topographical points of interest on planets.
Cook was a British explorer and captain in the Royal Navy. Hailing from the north of England, Cook is credited with being the first person to discover the Hawaiian Islands, as well as Australia and New Zealand. No mean feat considering the vastness of ocean that exists in those parts, not to mention the dangerous currents therein.
His experience sailing the Pacific over 12 years pretty much provided Europe with everything they needed to know about the region at the time. His two famous ships, the Endeavor and the Discovery, regularly lend their names to space exploration and scientific ventures.
Although the golden age of discovery was dominated by men, women began to play significant parts as inspirational travelers in later years. None more so than Nelly Bly, who was a pioneering US journalist known for her work exposing the treatment of mental hospital patients in New York. However, perhaps her most famous exploit was to circumnavigate the globe in 72 days, by hook or by crook. Determined and inspired to beat the fictitious “Round the World in 80 Days” record set in Jules Verne’s classic, she achieved the feat in 1888. A movie about her exploits is currently in production – and more people need to be aware of her incredible adventure.
There is simply no name as synonymous with undersea exploration as the great Jacques Cousteau, a French Navy officer, explorer and conservationist who pioneered the development of the aqualung. Cousteau was a brilliant filmmaker who documented the subaquatic world in the 60’s and 70’s with his popular television programme “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.” He was to continue to produce over 120 films and 50 books, and was the first person to win the coveted Palme d’Or for a documentary feature in 1956. Although passing in 1997, Cousteau’s adventures continue to inspire both travelers and filmmakers in equal measure.
We’ve gone underwater, so let’s finish by going into space – and more specifically setting foot on the moon. That’s exactly what Neil Armstrong managed to achieve in 1969, and he needs little introduction. Arguably the most famous pioneer of all time, his immortal worlds “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” will still give you goosebumps every time. Armstrong and his team of Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin entered the Apollo 11 spacecraft at the turn of the decade and made history.
In becoming the first man to walk on the moon, Armstrong passed into legend, and to this day it is still regarded as our greatest achievement. Maybe someone reading this is destined to beat it. Mars anyone?
To boldly go…
Yes, we know we’ve missed out a bunch of extremely important and inspirational travelers and explorers, including Lewis and Clarke, Shackleton, Amelia Earhart, Ibn Battuta and James T Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise. Please accept our humble apologies – we’ll include them next time. While you’re waiting, why not follow in their legendary footsteps, and set out on your own voyage of discovery? In the words of poet T.S Elliot – “we shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know that place for the first time.” What he said.
Who is your favorite inspirational traveler? It doesn’t have to be someone in the past! Let us know!
You’re reading this article because you want to find a perfect place to settle for a while to work on your blog. It means that you are:
about to start a blog,
you have recently started your blog, or
you’re an established blogger.
Agness blogging at the beach in the Maldives. Seems like a dream job, right?
In all of the above situations – even though your experience level differs – your needs are very similar. You need a place where:
the internet is fast and reliable,
it’s relatively cheap (since you can work from anywhere, go somewhere you can afford a decent living),
there are other bloggers around (so you can network and learn from each other),
you don’t have to explain to everyone around that you aren’t unemployed, you don’t need help finding a “real” job, and you don’t have unlimited time because you don’t work 9 to 5 (sorry for the angry voice – it’s not like I’ve had enough of explaining myself).
I’ve been traveling and blogging since 2011, together with my blogging partner (Agness), and we’ve been to some of the best blogger hotspots, while we also heard from our fellow bloggers about other and upcoming digital nomad destinations for 2019.
Here you’ll find a list of best places to work on your blog in 2019:
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Surrounded with culture, beauty and other like-minded travelers, Chiang Mai, is the most popular digital nomad destination. There are many reasons why this is such a great hotspot for bloggers, but the main draws are the fact that it’s cheap, it’s safe, it’s peaceful and the locals are some of the friendliest people you could ever wish to meet. Spend your days exploring golden-roofed temples and the old city walls, head out into the jungle for an unforgettable trekking experience, or simply work together with all the other bloggers in the Camp at the Maya Shopping Mall.
Advantages of blogging from Chiang Mai
Very low cost of living (monthly rent $200-$500)
Good weather (easier to stay positive and no need to spend money on winter clothing)
Probably the highest concentration of digital nomads in the world
Plenty of things to do in the city and around
Welcome to Chiang Mai – the most popular digital nomad destination.
Disadvantages of blogging from Chiang Mai
Cliche (everyone goes there)
Need to do a visa-run every 30 days (leave the country and come back to start a new 30-day visa-free period)
Not a great place for kids as they may miss out on lack of Western education standards
Very expensive and less advanced emergency/health services (less advanced than most Western countries)
With inspirational beaches, peaceful tavernas and a buzzing nightlife, the Cyclades island of Mykonos offers the perfect blend of ‘work hard, play hard’. Hire a private villa with a good Wi-Fi connection, some stunning views and a pool to reward yourself with after a day of writing. With its white-washed architecture, traditional windmills and golden shores, Mykonos is über Insta-worthy too; making it a perfect spot for any blogger, or a family holiday.
Mykonos offers the perfect blend of ‘work hard, play hard’.
Advantages of blogging from Mykanos
Beautiful and inspiring scenery
Fast and reliable internet
Greece is part of the European Union (fair and easy visa process, protection of the law)
Good emergency/health services (and free for citizens of European Union)
Disadvantages of blogging from Mykanos
Pretty expensive compared to other entries on this list
Seasonal pricing (high-peak season results in price increases)
Did you know that Estonia is one of the most digitally developed countries in Europe, if not the world? It was even the first country to declare internet access to be a human right. Well, there’s one of your main reasons to visit right there. Aside from the Estonians’ views on technology, Tallinn itself is an exciting city, well worth exploring. Bursting with history and surrounded by beaches, you’ll never be short of material to write about.
Advantages of blogging from Tallinn
Low cost of living
Estonia is part of the European Union (fair and easy visa process, protection of the law)
Good emergency/health services (and free for citizens of European Union)
Very cold winters (I find it an disadvantage but you may think otherwise)
Cape Town, South Africa
The gateway to many of the most incredible experiences in southern Africa, Cape Town has to make it on the list for the top blogger hotspots of 2019. Boasting breath-taking landscapes to rival any other, you’ll find yourself captivated by Table Mountain sunrises and Boulders Beach sunsets shared with a colony of African penguins. It’s a remarkable city with a culture and lifestyle that, on visiting, will surely win you over.
Table Mountain sunrises and Boulders Beach sunsets of Cape Town.
Advantages of blogging from Cape Town
Cost of living is relatively low (apart from the rent which may get pricey)
It’s a great base to explore Africa
Disadvantages of blogging from Cape Town
Safety may be a concern in certain areas, but don’t let media scare you
Where else would you recommend to move to work on the blog?
When you’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt, you might be scratching your head for somewhere interesting to go that can ignite the jaded travel bug inside you. For those of us who are traveling pros, or (whisper it) tired of traveling, getting excited about a journey can sometimes seem like a distant memory and something that only happened when you were first setting out. Long-term travelers are especially susceptible to such feelings, and you can feel slow and sluggish just trying to get to the next place. And then, of course, there’s the seemingly endless barrage of repetitive questions – “where are you from?” “Where are you going?” “Where have you been?” “How long have you been traveling for.” Sometimes, it can all get a bit too much.
But fear not! There’s hope out there and planet earth will provide. We’ve put together a selection of inspiring destinations, even if you’re not a seasoned veteran with the souls of your shoes worn to nothing. Read on, and get that fire under the bum lit once again!
For those looking for the great outdoors, a more challenging vacation, or simply to put some serious distance between yourself and civilization, then you could do a lot worse than visiting Alaska.
Tied with California for having the highest number of national parks in the US (8), this stunning corner of the world has some of the most breathtaking wilderness you’re ever likely to see. It has long been the poster boy for hiking and camping enthusiasts, and can easily push folk right outside their comfort zone – which is why we’re suggesting it! Whale watching here is an especially unforgettable experience not to be missed.
Africa as a whole is generally a place that we think people should visit when they’re a little older, wiser and more confident traveler, as there are some fantastic sights to be seen, but unfortunately, it’s not the easiest or safest destination to traverse. We pick South Africa from any number of interesting countries because they have some of the finest safari experiences on the whole continent.
Negotiating your way around is easier here too as English is one of the 11 languages spoken in these parts – which is great if you’re tired of language barrier frustrations elsewhere. There’s more than enough here to keep those traveling pros on their toes!
Made up of over 7000 islands, The Philippines could keep you occupied for a while. It’s becoming more and more popular for an older, more discerning travel crowd, looking for something more than party hostels and booze cruises – although we’re sure you can find it here if you want to!
You’re more likely to rub shoulders with well-traveled types here though, as well as being a fantastic budget destination where you can get by on less than $25 a day. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking and the population is extremely friendly and approachable for foreigners. There’s a real mix of challenging travel or laid-back lifestyle, perfect for those either looking to chill out or be inspired again. Or both!
Central Asia and the old silk road is the perfect place to travel if you’ve just about done everything else. It’s more challenging, with a more significant language barrier than perhaps anywhere else on our list.
Higher altitudes and dramatic weather contribute too. But the beauty of the mountains, rivers and lakes more than makes up for it. Kyrgyzstan has been boasting a steady increase in tourism in recent times – particularly from Germany – as it’s a hot-spot for long distance cyclists, mountaineers and hard-core hikers. You’ll find some incredible vistas here, a fascinating tribal culture still very much in evidence today, and unique accommodation experiences not to be missed. You can’t visit the region and not sleep in Yurt. If that doesn’t get you excited again – maybe it is time to hang up the boots?!
The largest desert in the world is pretty much on any traveler’s bucket list – ourselves included – and we’ve been planning on ticking this box for some time; so, watch this space!
Antarctica is a continent that needs little introduction, but in a seemingly barren, freezing wasteland – why would you consider going? With stunning glaciers, incredible wildlife, vast tundra, and a unique remoteness; there’s a sort of magical pull to the ice caps of the world that mankind just can’t shake. And yet with that, perhaps the number one advantage of visiting these parts is you’ll pretty much be alone; it isn’t exactly the world’s number one tourist destination!
Unjustifiably, Iran has had a bad rep for years, largely thanks to political meanderings and bureaucratic bull-poo. It’s still not easy to get into the country if you’re from the US, Canada or the UK – but it can be done – and SO worth it.
Behind the media hype and nonsense you read in the news, you’ll find arguably the most hospitable people on earth, living in an immensely beautiful, richly diverse country. There’s everything you could want here, from mountains to beaches, cloud forests to deserts and vibrant cities with fantastic cuisine, all under the umbrella of an ancient civilization. Whatever you travel for, Iran is sure to provide it, and if governments would stop screwing things up for everyone – they’d have the fastest growing tourist economy in the world.
We wish we didn’t have to stop, as there’s so much more out there to get the travel bug biting again – even if you’re a jaded, old, traveling pro. We get it too, as sometimes we’ve been ready to give it up and go back to the 9 to 5, but then we realise we’ve not even come close to..
Today’s blog post is contributed by Bailey, whose biggest passion in life is traveling. Along with her boyfriend Daniel, the two have been to more than 40 countries together. They recently finished a 14-month backpacking trip in South and Central America and are now currently exploring New Zealand. They are always in search of their next adventure and love anything outdoors. You can follow them on their travel blog, Destinationless Travel or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
While on a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia with my boyfriend, Daniel, I knew that there would come a time when I would have the opportunity to learn to scuba dive. I knew that learning to scuba dive in Koh Tao was on Daniel’s list of things to do, but I wasn’t sure if it was also on mine.
For me, the ocean seemed so big, mysterious, amazing, and scary all at the same time. Not to mention, I am not the strongest swimmer (Daniel is Australian and seems to have grown up part-fish!) I just didn’t have confidence in the water, let alone the ocean!
All ready to go scuba diving.
Learning to scuba dive or not was a challenging decision because deep down I truly wanted to scuba dive. I had always wanted to be a diver and explore the mysteries beneath the water’s surface, but I was scared. I had a huge fear of something going wrong!
Once arriving in Koh Tao, I knew that it was a “now or never” type situation and therefore I overcame my fears and partook in a PADI Open Water course in Koh Tao Thailand – this is how it went.
Arriving at Koh Tao
We arrived on a ferry from the neighboring island of Koh Samui and were greeted by what felt like hundreds of Thai salespeople. Some were shouting out names looking for people who had already booked with their hotel or dive center, and others were trying to gain new customers.
Stunning Koh Tao.
My “type-A personality” rarely ever lets me show up unprepared, especially since I was so nervous about scuba diving. I had already researched good dive centers with the best safety ratings and reviews. If I was going to learn to scuba dive I wanted it to be with the best teacher and gear!
Sure enough, after a couple of minutes, we were approached by a man from a place called Ban’s Diving Resort which was a company that I had in mind from all of my research. He explained that he would give us a free ride into the town center where the dive resort was located and we could speak to them there and check it out. They had deals on accommodation and dive packages and even offered refunds to people who didn’t complete the course! We jumped in the back of the pickup truck and were off.
Booking the Dive Course
It all happened so fast. One minute we were arriving on the island, and what felt like seconds later we were signing our lives away on a waiver for a scuba diving course.
Jumping off of the dive boat.
I was so nervous and expressed this to the lady at the sales counter. She assured me that the first day was only practicing with the equipment in the pool. She told me that if I didn’t like it at any point they would refund me a portion of my payment so there was no financial pressure. Of course, Daniel was in my ear, “you’ll be fine babe, it’ll be easy.” I couldn’t say no, I signed the waiver and paid for the course.
About Learning to Scuba Dive in Koh Tao
Before I get into my whole story about learning to scuba dive, here is a little bit of background info on scuba diving in Koh Tao.
Koh Tao is an island in Southern Thailand that is world renowned for scuba diving. Literally, dozens of different dive shops operate on Koh Tao and due to the high competition, prices are really affordable. We paid around $1000 USD for both of us to complete our Open Water and Advanced PADI certifications including accommodation for the week at a nice hotel with a pool.
Fish scuba diving.
Around Koh Tao, there are several different dive sites. Since scuba diving has become so popular there it is said that a lot of the corals are getting ruined over time, but I still thought the diving was spectacular. Lots of fish, shipwrecks, cave systems, and crystal clear waters with little to no current. It makes for the perfect place for learning how to scuba dive.
Learning the ropes
The first part of learning to scuba dive is easy, it is just in the classroom! I had to watch a few different videos, listen to my instructor talk a bit, and fill in some workbooks. All of this information basically taught me the dangers of scuba diving, but also how simple the equipment really is to operate. To be honest, learning about how everything works helped to calm my nerves.
The second part was also easy as we stay in a swimming pool. I had to pass a swimming test which I was nervous about because I’m not a strong swimmer, but it was actually really easy. We only had to swim a couple of laps and then tread water for 5 minutes.
Day 1 – In the Pool
After we completed the swimming test we got to put on our gear and breathe underwater for the first time – which is a weird and incredible experience. When you first put your head underwater you automatically hold your breath, you actually have to tell yourself that it’s okay and to breathe through the regulator. When I finally took that breath underwater I was amazed. I knew I had to keep pushing myself to get into the ocean, I knew that being in the ocean was something I needed to experience for myself.
We spent the remainder of the day practicing swimming with our gear on in the pool. I was surprised at how challenging it was to swim in a straight line. When you breathe in, your lungs fill up with air making you rise and then when you breathe out the air releases and you fall. In scuba diving they call it “controlling your buoyancy” and the aim is to take shallow breaths to allow yourself to swim in a straight line.
Floating in the ocean with our dive gear on.
We also practiced setting up our gear, but our instructor assured us that he would still do it for us the first time and then check it every time after that.
I truly believe that when learning to scuba dive, the instructor makes a huge difference. Our instructor, Jens, was a Dutch fellow with an incredible passion for scuba diving. He wasn’t some young guy who just started teaching, this was Jens’ career choice, passion, and really seemed to be his life.
Learning to scuba dive is amazing.
Jens consistently had a huge smile on his face and answered all of our questions before we could even ask them. I assume he had taught this course so many times before that he knew what we were always thinking before we even did!
Jens was such an experienced instructor within the company that while he was teaching us, he was also teaching another instructor. He was demonstrating how to teach a class. There was nothing Jens didn’t know and did everything with a smile and extreme confidence.
He always told us how great our group was and how much better we were than all of the other groups. I don’t necessarily know if this was true or not, but it gave me a false sense of confidence which I really needed.
Besides Jens, our actual group also was helpful for me during learning to scuba dive. The group was small and made up of a trio of Dutch friends along with Daniel and I. The others were about our age and equally as excited and nervous. We became great friends with them over the course of the week.
Today’s blog post has been contributed by one and only Renuka Walter, a fellow travel blogger and a digital nomad from India. Her blog, Voyager For Life, is all about interesting travel stories, her misadventures on the road, the experiences that enrich her, the people she meets, the cuisines she tastes…and the person she becomes. Don’t be shy and follow Renuka’s experience on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Mumbai is magic. It’s a city that evokes many emotions. From slums to skyscrapers, street food to posh hotels, super frenzied local trains to a calm seaside, Mumbai is like a spectrum. You got to be curious and have an intrepid spirit to explore Mumbai, because, as they say, the city never sleeps.
Mumbai is magic. It’s a city that evokes many emotions.
Formerly called Bombay, Mumbai is the financial capital of India, located in the western part of India, in the state of Maharashtra. So if you really want to extract the true essence of Mumbai, explore it from a local’s perspective and take back some endearing memories.
Explore the ‘vintage’ Mumbai
Begin your expedition with some of the iconic sites of Mumbai, such as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Churchgate, Colaba Causeway, Gateway Of India, and Rajabai Clock Tower. Mumbai has a rich heritage of British-era architecture, which is worth marvelling.
Admire the art & heritage
Mumbai is a heritage city. Besides the vintage architecture, there are so many art galleries and museums in Mumbai that you probably would feel overwhelmed.
Gateway of India.
To check out the best, make sure you visit National Gallery of Modern Art, CST Heritage Gallery & Railway Museum, Jehangir Art Gallery, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Sakshi Art Gallery, and Tasveer.
Go for a morning jog or an evening stroll at Marine Drive
If you really want to have a close brush with the locals of Mumbai, Marine Drive is the place you should spend some time at. It’s a beautiful seaside pavement, which is mostly hogged for its mesmerising view of the sea and the skyscrapers.
Marine Drive at sunset.
Make sure you take a walk at Marine Drive in the morning and get mesmerised by the scintillating sunset view in the evening.
Enjoy ‘doing nothing’ at Bandra Bandstand
Mumbai has a free-spirited aura, which a traveller must soak in. One of the best places to enjoy ‘doing nothing’ in Mumbai is Bandra Bandstand. It’s a lovely seaside promenade flanked by palm trees offering mellow breezes. It’s a favourite romantic hideout for the younger crowd. Also, it’s a place to catch glimpses of a few top Bollywood stars.
Watch a play at Prithvi theatre
Prithvi theatre is one of the best hangout places in Mumbai not just for the great plays, but also for the food and brew.
A small treat at Prithvi Theatre.
There’s a charming open-air café, where you must sit and observe the vibe around. You should also check out the art gallery and a small bookshop on the premises.
Take the Film City tour
As Mumbai is home to the world’s biggest film industry known as Bollywood, taking the Film City tour is a foregone conclusion. There are day tour packages that take you to all the famous film-shooting locales, and give you glimpses of live shooting as well.
Take in the vibe of the beaches
Since Mumbai is a coastal city, you have to experience its ‘beach’ vibe. The top beaches to visit in Mumbai are Juhu, Gorai, Aksa, Marve, Versova and Madh Island.
Relaxing Juhu Beach.
Play with the waves, watch the locals, sip fresh coconut water, and savour the mouth-watering street delights like Pani Puri and Baraf ka Gola.
Drive on the Bandra-Worli Sealink
The best way to get a stunning cityscape of Mumbai is by driving on the Bandra-Worli Sealink. Although the drive lasts for barely five minutes, the view of the skyscrapers and the harbour is a sight to behold.
Nosh through the Irani cafes and restaurants
Thanks to Iranians who have lived in India for over 150 years now, there’s this charming culture of Irani tea in Mumbai, Pune, and Hyderabad. Thus, you will see a lot of Irani cafes, bakeries and restaurants in Mumbai. The top dishes to relish are Irani Chai (tea), Bun-maska (Bun with butter), Keema Pav (minced meat), Akuri (eggs) and Mawa Cake.
Food is served!
The top Irani cafes & restaurants to try are Kyani & Co., Café Excelsior, Stadium Café, Merwan & Co and Leopold Café just to name a few.
Visit the religious sites
Mumbai is an amalgamation of different cultures and beliefs. You will see a lot of Parsis, Iranians, Catholics, and Muslims in Mumbai. You must visit the famous Dargah (shrine) called Haji Ali, which is located beautifully in the middle of the sea.
Also, Mumbai is a city of churches. The most famous ones are Mount Mary Basilica, St Andrew’s Church, St Thomas Cathedral, Afghan Church, Gloria Church and St Peter’s Church.
Sizzle up for the night-life of Mumbai
Make sure you make the most of a Friday night in Mumbai. The Mumbai nightlife is an experience to reckon with.
Today’s blog post has been contributed by Tim Blight, an Australian traveller and our best friend, who fell in love with Pakistan from his first visit in 2006. He is the founder of travel blog UrbanDuniya.com, and author of Pakistan Traveller, the world’s most comprehensive travel guidebook to Pakistan. Enjoy reading!
Think of Pakistan and what comes to mind? A nation full of Muslims who dress conservatively and eat spicy food, and gigantic, traffic-choked cities sitting amid deserts filled with camels. For most people, the stereotype is all they have to base their ideas of Pakistan on, and it’s understandable, given the widespread media representation of the nation. As some folk say; “Where there’s smoke there’s fire”; it’s not that these don’t exist in Pakistan, but the truth is much more multi-faceted and varied than these one-dimensional stereotypes. Travel is a great way to break down barriers, and visitors to Pakistan often leave surprised at how multilayered the country really is.
Pakistan Traveller is the world’s most comprehensive travel guidebook to Pakistan.
Pakistan is a safe enough place for intrepid, aware travellers to visit, which is why I wrote my travel guide Pakistan Traveller. It’s my hope that through my writing, both here and in my book, I’ll encourage more outsiders to see Pakistan for the dynamic and diverse nation it is.
Here, in no particular order, are my top 7 travel experiences to smash the prevailing stereotypes about Pakistan!
1) Pakistan isn’t just a desert!
Snow-capped mountains, pristine forest glens, and crystal clear lakes and rivers. Thought Pakistan was all deserts and camels? Think again. There are endless hiking opportunities, mountain climbing, rafting, trout fishing, even skiing in places like Swat.
The spectacular mountains near Hussaini.
Locals like to refer to Pakistan’s northern provinces as “the Switzerland of the East”, but I like to call Switzerland “the Pakistan of the West” – nowhere I’ve been quite compares to the Karakoram and Himalayan Ranges.
2) Pakistan is diverse!
Pakistan is not a nation of one culture, rather, it is a diverse, multicultural nation with 74 regional languages. Urdu is the official national language, and English is also granted “official” status, but each major city and region also speaks a different native tongue.
Burushaski, not Urdu, is the language of the Gojali people.
In the province of Punjab alone you can hear Punjabi, Saraiki and Hindko and Potohari, and that doesn’t include Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, and Kashmiri whose speakers might have moved to the province. Each language and region comes with its own special cultural traditions, rituals, dress, customs and cuisine.
3) Not all Pakistani food is spicy curry!
Most outsiders think of Pakistani food as being “Indian with more meat, more oil and less spice”. Indeed, travellers might not think much of Pakistani food – most of what gets served in hotels consists of chicken floating in an oily gravy (salan). But get invited to a local’s home and you’ll discover local specialties you’ve never dreamed of.
Holio Garma in Hunza.
In Punjab I tried kachnar, a flower bud which is cooked just as it begins to bloom; in Balochistan you can devour the mouth-watering sajji, a whole goat stuffed with spiced rice and barbecued over coals; and up in Hunza in Gilgit-Baltistan you can chow down on holio garma, a non-spicy stew of spinach, potatoes and apricot kernels, then wash it all down with a walnut oil tea!
4) Pakistan isn’t just carpet bazaars!
Lahore’s most upmarket retail and restaurant strip is where the city’s rich come to play and spend their money. Far from being a chaotic bazaar filled with veils and spiced meat, on Gulberg’s main MM Alam Road you’ll find the whole range of western and colourful local wear (nouveau Pakistani chic) at boutiques like J. (pronounced “jay dot”), Sapphire and Khaadi.
Islamabad’s upmarket Centaurus Mall.
The area is also filled with food outlets boasting everything from Turkish to Thai, Korean bi bim bap to coffeehouse croissants. Islamabad and Karachi have their posh hangouts, too.
5) Not all Pakistanis are Muslims!
Just over 96% are, but Pakistan is also home to important Hindu, Christian, and Sikh communities, among others. While their practice isn’t seen everywhere and every day in Pakistan, their contribution to the cultural fabric of Pakistan is on show for those who search; go to interior Sindh to see the holy Sadh Belo temple in the middle of the Indus River while in Lahore sits the Gurudwara Dera Sahib, the place where the fifth guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev, died in 1606.
Gurudwara Dera Sahib in Lahore.
In Sehwan Sharif the Sufis dance dhammal to the beat of a drum in spiritual devotion, while up north near Chitral some local tribes practice an ancient faith known as Kalasha.
6) Speak to the women!
I’m not a Pakistani woman, so I’m not about to start talking about what “life is really like” for Pakistani women – I’ll leave that to the Pakistani women themselves. What I will say is that in my experience talking with the many Pakistani women that I have met, I find it difficult to reconcile the varied experiences I’ve heard with the flat, predictable stories of victimhood that we get from the media. It’s not that no Pakistani women are victims, but neither are all of them. As a foreign man, I’m going to leave it at that.
Exploring Multan with a good friend.
I suggest you go there and (respectfully, and within the cultural framework) speak to some of the over 101 million women in Pakistan yourself; there are over 101 million stories to be heard.
7) It’s not all chaos and danger!
Go to any corporate office in Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad and ask the workers what they dread most; “meetings” is a common response. Jokes aside, Pakistan is far from being a jumble of accidental and planned ways to meet your maker. There is a lot of chaos (lack of traffic rules, a flagrant breaking of other regulations), but for many Pakistanis life simply goes on.