Category Archives: Travel tech

Facts About Travel in 2016 (updated to the second!)

Real time travel stats make it easy to imagine yourself abroad.

Need some interesting facts about travel for your travel blog, school research, or to impress a first date?

The Happy Passport‘s got you covered!

If you’ve been longing for some travel statistics on how many slices of bacon are being served in hotels across the world, right this very second, we can help.

Or if you want to know many people are facepalming themselves because their flight just got delayed, we’ve got the numbers!

Weird facts about travel are not only fun; they put our big, beautiful world into startling perspective.

The other day I was writing a colleague in Estonia who used to live in Wisconsin. He was complaining about how bored he was living in Europe, and how badly he wanted to return the United States.

As someone who is temporarily stuck in the good ol’ US of A, I was flabbergasted! How could someone possibly live in historic, rich, glamorous Europe and be anything less than thrilled with each-breath-they-take-every-second-of every-day, as they drive their tiny cars to non-Starbucks coffee shops wearing designer clothing whose sale could eradicate my enormous student loan debt in an instant?

But I digress.

Of course my buddy is bored with Estonia, just as I’m itching to return to Viet Nam after 8 months away.

That’s because wherever you go, there you are. We so quickly and easily adopt tunnel vision when we stay in the same place for too long, forgetting that there is a wide world out there filled with people doing all sorts of incredible things. (Like eating bacon in hotels and grumbling over flight delays).

“We so quickly and easily adopt tunnel vision when we stay in the same place for too long, forgetting that there is a wide world out there filled with people doing all sorts of incredible things.” Click to Tweet

If we can’t travel (and let’s be honest – sometimes we simply can’t travel), then the next best thing is to remember that travel exists. That people, and travel, and culture, and a wide, wide world of wonders are just biding their time, waiting for us to venture out into the world once more.

One of the most inspiring reminders of this idea was recently created by my friends at Get Your Guide, a booking platform for cool tours and activities all over the world.  They’ve created a real time travel infographic that shows you what’s going down around the world, right this very second.

If you’ve ever craved facts about travel like….

  • How many people are getting busted for trying to sneak pot onto the plane?
  • How many selfies are being taken around the world right now?
  • How many people are waiting in line at the Eiffel Tower?

….this infographic has the answers. Check out a snapshot below, or click this link to see real time travel updates from all over the world.

Because when you can’t travel, the next best thing is to live vicariously through the people who are.

(And who doesn’t want to know how many Americans around the world are completely drunk right now?).
Real Time Travel

5 Easy Ways to Make Money Traveling

If you make money traveling, it means that you can travel indefinitely.

Making money while you travel means you don’t have to stick to a strict budget because money is always flowing in.

It also means you’re free to roam the planet at will without being stuck working abroad at a teaching job or other full-time gig.

So how can you make money traveling without signing a teaching contract, becoming an au pair, or searching for one of those elusive private yacht jobs?

By becoming a digital nomad, that’s how.

If you have a laptop and basic computer skills, you can easily make the world your office and travel abroad forever.

Here are 5 websites to help you make money traveling without committing to a “regular” job.

1. Elance.com

Plug Into the Power of Elance

Elance.com is a website for freelancers.

Companies and small businesses post jobs for everything from copywriting to web design to tutoring services. Freelancers then compete for said jobs by creating and submitting job proposals.

But don’t worry if you’re not a brilliant web programmer and can’t write your way out of a paper bag. There are zillions of jobs posted on Elance every day, and I know you’ll find something that’s a good fit for your skill set.

When I first started doing online marketing, I got 95% of my clients via Elance. I tell everyone about the site and I’m amazed that more people don’t use it to make money traveling.

There is an art to getting your proposals chosen, however. If you need help boosting your Elance profile, you can contact me for Elance coaching and I’ll teach you how to get a 5-star rating and make $20k working part time like me.

make-money-traveling

2. Fiverr.com

On Fiverr.com, people will pay you $5 to do just about anything.

That could be something that requires technical skills, like web design or social media, OR it could be something completely ridiculous like paying you $5 to break up with their girlfriend.

Check out the site and see who the high rollers are, look at who’s making the most money and how.

Figure out how you can incorporate travel into what you’re offering. For example, can you send people postcards from anywhere in the world for $5? What about writing their wife’s name on a sign and taking a picture with it in front of the Eiffel Tower?

Remember that you’re traveling and people wish they could be you. Work that to your advantage on Fiverr, and don’t forget to offer “upsells” – the postcard is $5, but for $10 they can get rush delivery, and for $25 you’ll send 5 postcards.

Also, don’t forget that if you’re traveling in low-cost countries, $5 goes a lot further than it does back home. (Like, a lot further. Like hotel room-further.)

3. TakeLessons.com

TakeLessons is a site for teachers and students. I use those terms loosely. If you have something to teach, you can connect with someone who wants to learn it.

Teachers teach lessons to students via Skype, Google Hangouts, or in person. Since you’ll be traveling, you’ll probably want to shoot for online lessons, though it could be cool to set up some in-person lessons in the cities you’re visiting abroad.

Popular categories are things like singing lessons, French lessons, WordPress lessons and acting lessons, but don’t let those categories deter you. If you are passionate about World of Warcraft or Flamenco, chances are other people too.

Create a free account, set your hourly rate, and make sure you specify your time zone. Students will sign up for a time slot and you’ll get paid via Paypal.

Voila! Who’da thunk you could make money traveling so easily?

4. Clarity.fm

This site is sort of like Fiverr meets TakeLessons. It’s more business-focused, so if you have a background in online marketing, design, or technology, this is totally your bag.

The way it works is simple: set up a free account, fill out your profile, specify your areas of expertise, and set your “call rate.”

You call rate is the amount of money people pay you per minute to speak with you on the phone (or via Skype) and pick your brain about whatever topic you’re an expert in.

“But I’m not an expert in anything!” I hear you cry.

Oh no? Well, you can read this sentence, can’t you? Which means that a) your English skills are better than billions of other people on the planet, and b) your computer skills, which allowed you to open a web browser and navigate to this page, are equally as impressive.

Clarity also has an “other” section for non-business related skill sets, so now you really have no excuse not to make money traveling.

5. Skype

I will never understand why people moan and groan about the cost of travel when Skype exists.

Using Skype, you can make money traveling anytime and anyplace, as long as you have an Internet connection. You don’t even need a laptop because you can use the Skype app on your smartphone.

Here are just a few of the ways I’ve seen people make money traveling while using Skype:

  • As an online therapist
  • As a life coach
  • As an intuitive healer
  • As an academic tutor
  • As a singing teacher
  • As a business consultant

The benefit of using Skype instead of the above-mentioned websites is that Skype won’t charge a fee when you book a client (the other sites take small to medium cuts of any business you get through them).

On the other hand, if you choose to use Skype you’ll have to do all of the legwork to find and book clients. The other sites make it easy to find prospects and score more business.

The other day I celebrated my 6th full month of long-term travel. Hey, it’s not much compared to rock stars like Wandering Earl who’ve been traveling since 1999, but for me, it’s a huge accomplishment.

And I never could have done it if I’d had to save up a bunch of money first (I suck at saving money), or gotten a job teaching English abroad.

For me, working full time for someone else in a different country is just as constricting as working full time for someone else at home.

I want to be free to travel where I want, when I want, and the only way I can do that is by being a digital nomad.

It’s not all roses and milk tea, though. You have to work hard, and you have to, well, work.

That in and of itself can be challenging when everyone else around you is on holiday and you’re cooped up in your hotel room strapped to your laptop.

But you know what? On days I’m stuck instead working for 8 or 10 or 14 hours, I still get to take a break, have lunch, and walk outside and see this:

make-money-traveling

And I still get to marvel at thoughts like “holy CRAP I’m in [insert crazy destination here] right now!” And thoughts like that make the long hours more than worth it.

If I were you and I wanted to see the world, but I didn’t know how I could afford it, I’d look into any of these websites.

If I had to choose one, it’d be Elance, especially if you are a native English speaker because you will crush the competition.

Questions about making money traveling? Post them below! (Unless you need Elance help – in that case, contact me here).

SUBSCRIBE now for solo female travel tips and get your FREE copy of 175 WAYS TO TRAVEL TODAY! Enter your email address below to download your copy of the book now. 

Quick+Dirty Takeaway

1. Elance.com

2. Fiverr.com

3. TakeLessons.com

4. Clarity.fm

5. Skype!

Want to dig deeper? Go for it!

5 Must-have’s for your Digital Nomad Toolkit

The benefits of working as a digital nomad are obvious – the freedom to travel, the ability to make money anywhere, and the gloriousness of being your own boss.

I’m quick to say that all you need to be a digital nomad is a laptop and a strong WiFi signal, but that’s not exactly the whole story.

To perpetuate the digital nomad lifestyle, you need to have a variety of tools in your toolkit.

Some of these tools are tangible things like apps and helpful websites, while others are a bit more esoteric.

Here are 5 ways to pimp out your digital nomad toolkit and make sure your long-term travel lifestyle keeps on keepin’ on.

5. Infusionsoft

Monday's office

Monday’s office

Infusionsoft has saved my life (and my as$!) time and time again.

It’s the application I use to send you all those snazzy emails, manage my contacts, and run my entire marketing department (which consists of, well, me.).

Recently I got really sick while traveling in Vietnam.  I mean really sick, like maybe-my-mom-should-fly-here-to-say-goodbye-sick.

And during the entire month when I was in and out of hospitals, my marketing kept churning as if I was still in my digital office.

Infusionsoft lets you automate everything, and I mean everything.

So when I was lying in the hospital with tubes sticking out of my arms, you were reading an email from me as if I’d just sent it.

It’s truly bomb. If you’re a digital nomad, you have clients and other human-types who send you money when you do work for them.

Infusionsoft lets you keep track of said clients, keep in touch with them, and make sure their money keeps landing in your pocket.

Watch a free demo of Infusionsoft when you click here.

4. WordLens

digital-nomad-tuesday-office

Tuesday’s office

i just discovered this app when the developer shot me an email and was like “Rebs, why aren’t you using my app?”

And I was like “Menno, why should I?”

And Menno was like, “Because it’s awesome!”

I downloaded WordLens for iOS and have been hooked ever since.

Here’s how it works: open the app, hold your phone up to a sign or other text in a foreign language, and click “start.”

The app reads and translates the sign right on your phone.

After having some serious miscommunications thanks to Google Translate (which might as well be called Google Transcrap), this app came as a life saver.

It’s great for a digital nomad who is traveling between “offices,” is on the hunt for a new guest house, or simply needs to know whether they’re walking into the men’s or the ladies room.

Right now the app works with signs that are in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian. I’ve begged Menno to add Chinese and Vietnamese, so hopefully that’s in the works too.

3. Hustle-aciousness

digital-nomad-wed-office

Wednesday’s office

You can’t be a successful digital nomad without hustle-aciousness (n. the ability to consistently hustle). 

Digital nomads can’t sit around waiting for work to come to them, and they can’t travel the world like they’re on perpetual vacation.

Make sure you’re spending some time every day working, following up with clients, and taking care of your bidness – especially on days when you’re out seeing the sights in whatever city you happen to be in.

It can be really, really easy to get sucked into the non-working mentality other travelers have, and to let your laptop start collecting dust.

But if you do that for too long, you’ll have to go home. And that’s the last thing you want to do, right?

2. Shoeboxed

digital-nomad-thurs-office

Thursday’s office

You’ve got to, got to, got to get and keep yourself organized as a digital nomad.

Shoeboxed is a great way to do it. Shoeboxed is what I use to scan all of my receipts and do my taxes while I’m traveling abroad.

If you’re a digital nomad, just about everything you buy is a tax write-off. It’s tough to keep track of zillions of hotel receipts and flights, especially when you’re constantly changing hotel rooms and cities.

With Shoeboxed, I snap a photo of a receipt the second I get it, then recycle it. All of the info I need for my taxes is magically beamed to a cloud-based account, and my backpack stays nice and light without the added burden of paper piles.

Shoeboxed lets you do a free 30-day trial too, which is rad because you can scan a lot of receipts in 30 days – check it out here.

1. Extreme flexibility and mind-boggling patience

Friday's office

Friday’s office

A digital nomad is defined by his or her ability to be flexible and patient in less-than-ideal work circumstances. [CLICK TO TWEET]

  • The WiFi goes out, or is painfully slow, or won’t let you log on to Facebook.
  • Monday you’re in a quiet guest house, but by Wednesday you’re forced to work from a coffee shop.
  • The power goes out so you have to write/design/brainstorm/research using – gasp!  – pen and paper.

Never knowing where you’ll be working (or if you’ll be working) is half the fun of being a digital nomad.

If you’re an aspiring digital nomad, cultivate patience and flexibility within yourself before you get on the road – believe you me, you’re gonna need it.

YE OLDE DISCLAIMER: I’m a proud-as-punch affiliate of some of the services I’ve listed above, like Infusionsoft, Shoeboxed, and some other secret linkedy-links you’ll have to click to find out about! What this means is if you end up taking my advice and signing up for a service through this site, the fine folks at Infusionsoft and Shoeboxed might find it in their hearts to throw a little scratch my way. Scratch that I’ll use to continue being a digital nomad!

SUBSCRIBE now for solo female travel tips and get your FREE copy of 175 WAYS TO TRAVEL TODAY! Enter your email address below to download your copy of the book now. 

Quick+Dirty Takeaway

Mighty Digital Nomad,

Make sure your toolkit contains the following 5 essentials:

1. Infusionsoft for email marketing and CRM

2. WordLens to you can magically read signs in foreign languages

3. Hustle-aciousness so the dough keeps flowing and you can keep traveling

4. Shoeboxed so you can track your travel expenses and scan your receipts

5. Flexibility and patience so you don't lose your s$%! every time the power goes out, the WiFi is slow, or your guest house owner decides to throw a party with 67 of his closest friends during your regular work hours.

Want to dig deeper? Go for it!

Top 10 Travel Photography Tips for Aspiring Shutterbugs

Your visa is secured, the flight is booked, and you’ve been willingly injected with a cocktail of vaccinations to protect you from diseases you can’t even pronounce.

In short, you’re finally off to see the world!

In addition to scribbling wildly in a wine-stained journal and blogging about your adventures, you’re probably going to want to take some photos of your trip.

The problem? You have no clue how to take a great photo, and the last thing you want is to have your pictures of such a life-changing period in your life turn out like a fourth grade art project.

Before you resign yourself to applying 37 Instagram filters to each and every lackluster snapshot, check out these top 10 travel photography tips from professional travel photographer Etienne Bossot.

Based in Hoi An, Vietnam, Etienne spends his days helping newbie and established photographers capture the beauty of their travel dreams on camera and in living color.

Travel photography tips from an actual travel photographer

1. Get some gear

travel-photography-tips-2

And by gear I don’t mean big, expensive gear. I mean something from this century. Technology is evolving so quickly that just about any kind of camera you buy today is going to be light years better than a used camera from five years ago.

Look at the latest trends, like the new lightweight DSLR cameras. They’re as small and compact as a cheap digital camera but take photos comparable to their bulkier counterparts.

2. Learn about settings

travel-photography-tips-3

Spend a little time learning about your camera’s settings.  Nowadays the auto mode of most cameras is more intelligent than ever, but why let your camera have all the fun?

Adjusting your settings as you shoot gives you far more control over your photos than simply leaving your camera in auto mode. Besides, there are only 3 things you need to know to be in total control of your camera, anyway.

3. Do your homework

travel-photography-tips-4

If you only want to capture tourist snapshots for Grandma to see, then stop reading this instant.

We’ll wait for you to leave.

Phew, not that she’s gone, let’s dive in to the juicy stuff – creative inspiration. I want you to do some research on the place you’re traveling to by searching for relevant photographs. You can use Google search, Flickr or 500px to find high quality images.

Find photographs that inspire you and save them somewhere you can see them. These will serve as a jumping off point for the photographs you’ll be taking in the very near future!

4. Stalk someone you like

travel-photograph-tips-5

…on social media, that is.

In step #3 above, you probably found at least a few photographers whose work you love. Connect with them via social and check out their blogs.

In addition to examples of great photography, you will most likely find a huge amount of information on the craft of photography.

If you’re following a travel photographer, you’ll score travel photography tips in the form of top secret shooting locations, cultural idiosyncrasies, and so on.

5. pho·tog·ra·phy (or, the immense importance of light)

travel-photography-tips-6

How can you begin to master a craft if you don’t even know what it means?

In case you skipped out on all of your Ancient Greek classes at school, the word “photography” literally means “writing with light.”

Yes, it is that simple. You camera is your pen. The light is…well, the light!

Once you understand that, you’ll understand that beautiful light gives you beautiful photos.

And when is the light most beautiful?

Before 8am and after 4pm, so don’t forget to pack your alarm clock!

6. Get to know your subject

travel-photography-tips-7

If you are keen on landscape photography, go back and re-read tip #5, because it’s all about the right lighting.

travel-photography-tips-11

If you want to photograph people, learn about the customs of the place you’re visiting. For example, you will probably have a much easier time approaching people in SE Asia than you would in, say, Saudi Arabia.

7. Get lost

travel-photography-tips-8

I’ll go ahead and assume that since you’re a solo female traveler you’re not traveling in a country that’s particularly dangerous.

If that’s the case, I give you permission to get lost!

If you stay where all the other tourists are, and only visit sites all the other tourists are visiting, chances are you’ll be taking the exact same photos Aunt Jane took when she visited Thailand 10 years ago.

Get lost, get away from the tourist areas, find some local villages and walk through them. People will be surprised and happy to see you there, and that will make your experience – and your photos – that much more captivating.

8. Get close

travel-photography-tips-8

If I could only give you one tip it would be this one – get close to your subject.

There are many reasons why this is important, but getting close will greatly improve the overall quality of your photos (not to mention help you immerse yourself in the culture and make friends with locals).

Disclaimer: this tip does not apply to African safaris!

9. Lose the badittude

travel-photography-tips-9

Remember that you are a guest visiting another country and culture – smile! Your attitude and approach will have a huge impact on both your subjects and the photos you take of them.

10. Shoot!

travel-photography-tips-10

You’ll most likely be using a digital camera, so start shooting! Don’t be shy, and remember that the best shots almost never happen within the first few clicks. Work your subject and shoot as much as you can.

What questions do you have for Etienne about his travel photography tips? Post them below!

Etienne Bossot is a French photographer who’s been based in Hoi An, Vietnam for the past 7 years. In addition to shooting commercial and travel assignments for local publications and huge corporations, Etienne runs a variety of photography tours and workshops throughout Southeast Asia. For more information on his photography and photo tours, visit http://www.picsofasia.com/photo-tours/

All photos © 2014 Etienne Bossot

SUBSCRIBE now for solo female travel tips and get your FREE copy of 175 WAYS TO TRAVEL TODAY! Enter your email address below to download your copy of the book now. 

 

 

 

 

5 Travel Apps for Staying Organized and Saving Money

I’m not really an “app person” (those people exist, right?) but for some reason when I started traveling abroad, I became addicted to travel apps.

This is probably because I actually need and use the apps I have, most of them on a daily basis.

These travel apps turn my iPhone into a compass, a receipt scanner, a translator, a currency converter, and a travel agent – and every single one of them was free.

1. GlobeConvert Free (my currency converter)

I still use this app all the time, even though I’ve been back in Vietnam for over 6 weeks and have a pretty solid handle on the conversion rate.

If a taxi driver quotes you 2 million dong for  a 3-km cab ride, you can whip out your phone and remind yourself that 2 million dong is about $100, and inform him that you’ll be using another taxi driver thankyouverymuch.

This app has just about every currency imaginable, and it’s easy to toggle back and forth between them.

2. Shoeboxed (my receipt scanner)

Here’s how my lazy butt “manages my finances” back home: I swipe my debit card, then I check my bank account online. That’s pretty much it.

The problem with traveling abroad in Asia is that the entire continent seems to operate on a cash-only basis, which means I need to get receipts, which means I need to keep those receipts organized.

I stay at a lot of different hotels, so I’m constantly collecting scraps of paper. The problem is that my backpack is already stuffed to the brim without adding an ever-growing pile of paper receipts into the mix!

Shoeboxed has been the answer to my prayers. With this travel app I simply snap a picture of the receipt in question, then toss said receipt in the recycling bin. All of the info from the receipt – including the date, amount spent, the vendor, and the location – is magically beamed to my Shoeboxed account.

Shoeboxed can even detect which tax category my receipt falls under. If I scan a receipt from a hotel I stayed at, it will be automatically labeled as a “travel and transport” write off.

This made doing my taxes so easy this year, that when I was finished, I had a big “I finished my taxes really fast!” party in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

If you like the sound of Shoeboxed, you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking here.

3. Compass by Tim O’s Studios (my – duh – compass)

This app has saved me a ton of money and has saved me from getting lost time and time again.

For some reason the Google maps app on my phone doesn’t always come through. Also, sometimes I don’t buy a local SIM card if I’m not going to be in a country for a long period of time.

In those moments – no cellular data and/or cranky Google gods – I’m flying blind and rely on this app to get me where I’m going. You may not know exactly how to find a place, but you can at least get yourself in the general vicinity.

It’s also great when you’re riding in taxis.

Make sure you know which direction you’re supposed to be headed by checking a map before you get in the cab. Then, whip out your compass app and make sure you’re heading the right way.

If your driver is happily soaring due east when the temple you want to see is most definitely to the west, you can speak up (before the meter runs up!)

4. Skyscanner (my airfare agent)

This is one of my favorite travel apps for booking airfare and checking airline prices, especially in SE Asia. Skyscanner shows you all of the available flights for your desired dates and makes it simple to filter by price.

It also shows you every airline that flies between your destinations, and lets you book airfare right from your phone.

5. Hostelworld (my accommodation agent)

Hostelworld’s app is a great research tool, even if you don’t end up booking through their site. A lot of the time, I only prebook a single night at a hotel or guest house in case I end up hating the place.

This travel app lets you see how much you can expect to pay for a private room at various hostels in various parts of the city.

Let’s say you look up hostel prices in Hanoi and see that a private room in the Old Quarter is around $12/night, while a private room in the West Lake area of town is closer to $30/night.

Armed with this information, you’re ready to negotiate a great deal on a room (and ready to laugh out loud when a $12 hotel tries to charge $30, knowing that you can walk next door and find a much better price).

Conclusion (starring Ryan Gosling)

I’ve heard some people recommend leaving the smartphone at home and buying a cheap cell once you arrive in country.

For me, having a smartphone and using awesome travel apps saves me money, keeps me safe, and even makes me feel a lot more organized than I typically do at home. I really couldn’t survive without it.

I also couldn’t survive without the hope that someday, somehow, Ryan Gosling will realize that we were destined to be together, will dump whichever gorgeous actress he’s married to at the moment, and will fly to Paris to sweep me up and start making a baker’s dozen of Little Goslings. (see how I’m in Paris in this fantasy? That’s what separates the dreamers from the deranged. I might even add a pet monkey into the scenario if the mood strikes.)

Yep, just struck.

travel-apps-2

Which travel apps can’t you live without?

YE OLDE DISCLAIMER: If you sign up for a Shoeboxed account (which you should totally do, btw), the good people at Shoeboxed just might find it in their hearts to throw some scratch my way. But don’t get the wrong idea – I am a loyal Shoeboxed customer and would never recommend the service to you if it sucked. It sucketh not! Go get your free trial already!

SUBSCRIBE now for solo female travel tips and get your FREE copy of 175 WAYS TO TRAVEL TODAY! Enter your email address below to download your copy of the book now. 

Quick+Dirty Takeaway

I can't live without....

1. GlobeConvert Free for currency conversion

2. Shoeboxed for receipt scanning

3. Compass by Tim O for my compass

4. Skyscanner for checking and booking airfare

5. Hostelworld for researching accommodation prices

6. Eating great spring rolls with Ryan Gosling in Paris while my pet monkey sits on my shoulder and Ryan and I discuss whether or not we'll have to get rid of the monkey when the twins are born.

Want to dig deeper? Go for it!