Carpooling sites for travel in Europe

While frequent flyer miles can help alleviate the costs of flights to a destination in a game-changing way, the travel that happens once in a destination can really add up too. This is particularly true in an affluent place like Europe. But, as a continent that has a fabulous infrastructure for public transit, it should come as no surprise that even those with their own personal cars find a way to contribute to the public's transit needs. Indeed, carpooling is yet another task that the internet is revolutionizing in some way. Europe has a number of websites that exist to connect passengers… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | December 4, 2014
Category: Backpacking, Europe, Travel Tech

5 ways in which working travel is very different from the “gap year”

The other day a reader told me she had saved up for a gap-year of travel. She said that she hadn't yet decided whether or not to do some remote contract work while traveling or not. In my opinion, she was right to think decisively about the matter, because there are two very different types of travel she can experience. Traveling with a goal to work as you go is very different than taking a year off to collect incredible travel experiences. Don't get me wrong; one is not better and one is not worse...just different. Let's look at how.… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (1)  | November 6, 2014
Category: Backpacking, On The Road, Working Abroad

Native eye for the tourist guy: Avoiding fashion no-nos

Photo Credit: tarotastic A couple of years ago, while riding my bicycle down Burma's Irrawaddy valley, I somehow managed to destroy my khaki trousers. These were the only pair of pants I had with me at the time, so I stopped off in a town called Pakkoku and -- faced with no other realistic clothing options -- purchased a long, cotton lungi to cover my legs for the rest of the trip. In the event that you aren't familiar with fashions in this part of Asia, a lungi is a tube of silk or cotton cloth that Burmese men wear around… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | October 11, 2014
Category: Asia, Backpacking, Destinations, Vagabonding Styles

Slumming the Golden Arches

Image credit This month marks the beginning of student-travel season in Europe, which means that -- at any given moment -- continental McDonald's restaurants will be filled with scores of American undergraduates. Quiz these young travelers, and they'll give you a wide range of reasons for seeking out McDonald's -- the clean restrooms, the air conditioning, the fact that it's the only place open during festivals or siesta. A few oddballs will even claim they are there for the food. European onlookers will tell you (with a slight sneer) that these itinerant Yanks are simply seeking the dull, familiar comforts… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (2)  | June 7, 2014
Category: Backpacking, Europe, Food and Drink, Travel Health, Vagabonding Advice

Post Salkantay trek, Peru

Well, I did it! Just barely, but I managed to "conquer" around 60 kilometers (37 miles) on one of the most challenging treks I've ever done. Four days and three nights of difficult uphill, painful downhill, sunburns, rain, aching muscles, and freezing nights in a tent was rewarded with some of the most beautiful scenery that ends with a visit to Machu Picchu. If you like a good challenge, llamas, starry skies, snowcapped mountains, sleeping in tents, and good food, then this is a trip for you. The trek started out with a steady incline at almost 10,000 feet above… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (1)  | April 20, 2014
Category: Backpacking, Destinations, South America

Leaping Without The Pile in the Back of the Closet

[caption id="attachment_20223" align="alignleft" width="224"] The pile in the back of the closet[/caption] Petrified, excited, invigorated, exhilarated, daunted...I felt them all in the weeks leading up to my first round the world journey. So many emotions, so little time. All the planning for this idea of taking a hiatus from the everyday was thrilling, yet frightening. From visa applications to inoculations (those weren’t fun) and new passport pages to hotel bookings the excitement continued to grow. But then it was six weeks before, one-month prior and days ahead of wheels up and the packing began. First world problem, no question; but… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (0)  | April 12, 2014
Category: Backpacking, Notes from the collective travel mind

Review: Osprey Kestrel 48 backpack and how to choose a great backpack

A good backpack can make or break a trip. Drenching rain, language barriers, delayed flights -- you can weather all with humor and go-get-'em attitude. But a good backpack is the foundation upon which your trip rests. It holds your entire life in one place. It protects it. Sometimes you wear it so often it feels like another appendage. That's why it's important to take some time before your trip to figure out what kind of new appendage -- or backpack -- works for you. Next to figuring out which book to take with me, this decision was the most… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (1)  | April 6, 2014
Category: Backpacking, Travel Gear

Rolf Potts on Budget Travel

Whenever anyone asks me why I still travel on a shoestring at the ripe old age of 38, I usually tell them about the time I learned how to play the bagpipes in Havana. Granted, I could probably relate a more typical story about the joys of budget travel - some tidy parable of money saved and experiences gained - but when I mention learning the bagpipes in Cuba it sounds like I'm going to tell a joke, and people like jokes. The thing is, there's no punch line. My encounter with Cuban bagpipers wasn't memorable for its mere quirkiness - it was memorable… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (2)  | April 5, 2014
Category: Backpacking, Rolf Potts, Vagabonding Advice

Preparing to hike the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

I am writing from my sleeping bag in the Lima airport, getting ready to go to “bed” for the night on the food court floor. Today starts my two week trip to Peru, and I have an early flight to Cusco in the morning. In some ways I feel prepared (for instance right now I have a sleeping bag, ear plugs, and eye mask, while I see other struggling to sleep/fight sleep at food court tables), but in most ways I feel very unprepared for this trip. It was a spontaneous decision that myself and two girlfriends made just a… Read More...

Posted by | Comments (5)  | March 23, 2014
Category: Adventure Travel, Backpacking, South America

Giving free travel talks—A great way to share knowledge and ignite travel dreams

Last weekend, on a sunny Saturday morning at a local Seattle-area library, I kicked off the first of several ninety-minute “Travel talks” I plan to give this year. The seminar-style presentations, which I call “Traveling The Best of Europe Independently & On A Budget” will be free, presented at assorted libraries in the Seattle metro area. I began doing these talks several years ago after answering the umpteenth question about how to travel independently in Europe (since that’s my specialty), how to plan it, and where to go. I realized there was a hunger for this type of straight-up advice… Read More...