Saturday, November 30, 2013

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Iconic Bridge of the Month: Szechenyi Chain Bridge (Budapest, Hungary)

Posted: 29 Nov 2013 01:06 PM PST

SZÉCHENYI CHAIN BRIDGE QUICK FACTS Location: Budapest, Hungary River: Danube Built: 1849 Length: 375 metres Main Span: 202 metres Style: Suspension Bridge Built immediately after the Hungarian Revolution, Budapest’s elegant Széchenyi (Chain) Bridge arches gracefully connecting the left bank of Buda with its spectacular castle (Várhegy) and stunning hillsides to Pest and its gracious...

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Photo of the Week: Bagno Vignoni (Italy)

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 12:16 PM PST

The tiny village of Bagno Vignoni has attracted people since Etruscan and Roman times with its medicinal waters from underground volcanic aquifers. Located in the Val d’Orcia Natural Park, the central Sources Square, the size of an Olympic swimming pool, remains virtually unchanged since medieval times (and was a favourite pilgrimmage stopover). While bathing is no longer permitted in the...

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Five Unmissable Places to See on Your Italian Holidays

Posted: 20 Nov 2013 01:26 PM PST

by Paul Jackson Thinking of travelling to Italy this autumn but don't know what to do or where to go for fun while you're there? Italy is a truly wonderful country. It is home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and has many spectacular tourist attractions. As a result, there are literally hundreds of things you can do and places you can see in Italy. But we have managed to...

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Photo of the Week: Palazzo dei Priori (Perugia, Italy)

Posted: 18 Nov 2013 12:47 PM PST

Visiting the hillside city of Perugia starts with a grand unforgettable entrance through the foundations of the original castle up a giant escalator emerging in the central area of the city. With sweeping views over the Umbrian town, the Gothic Palazzo dei Priori stands in its crenellated glory. With most of its history as the seat of municipal power, it housed the impressively titled Keepers of...

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: The Mystical Smoo Cave of Scotland

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: The Mystical Smoo Cave of Scotland

The Mystical Smoo Cave of Scotland

Posted: 18 Nov 2013 08:55 AM PST

Smoo Cave – Durness, ScotlandI wish I could be everywhere but until they perfect cloning technology, there’s only one of me traveling this big world. I now plan on having regular guest writers on the website to highlight places I haven’t been yet… places we can together dream of visiting someday. This month my friend Alex Berger talks about northern Scotland and shares the story of Smoo Cave. It’s beautifully written. Enjoy!

Perched atop the worn limestone cliffs at the mouth of the Geodha Smoo inlet, I casually brushed the toe of my walking boot across the soft, muted purple heather blossoms. I had arrived in the sleepy Scottish town of Durness a few minutes earlier and made the 10 minute walk along the edge of the inlet hoping to catch one of Scotland’s mystical sunsets. The sound of crashing waves waging their perpetual war against the coastline echoed in my ears as I let the clean scent of heather, salt spray, and seaweed fill my lungs.

My arrival in Durness marked the culmination of a long day’s drive up the northwestern coast of Scotland. The sleepy little village of 400 stands beside one of Scotland’s most unique natural wonders. Situated at the end of Geodha Smoo, a mid-length inlet carved by the ocean, wind, and a small stream, Smoo Cave resembles a dragon’s open maw carved into the side of the surrounding stone cliff face.

What makes the cave unique within the UK is its geographic qualities. The sprawling outer chamber has been carved over the ages by the sea, while a series of internal caverns and tunnels have been etched out by the two fresh water streams that thread their way through the cave. The first of these two streams bubbles up through a submerged pool situated at the terminus of the deepest accessible part of the cave. The second comes from the waters of the Allt Smoo, a stream (or raging torrent, depending on the rains) that winds across the Scottish countryside before suddenly crashing 80 feet through a hole in the stone ceiling and down into Smoo Cave’s second largest cavern.

Smoo Cave entrance – Durness, Scotland

There the waters join with those that have wandered their way out from beneath the bedrock to connect in a deep pool. Only partially lit by small wall lamps and the faint light streaming in through the hole in the roof, the dark waters are largely still except for the periodic swirl of a fish’s fin, the gentle mist of the waterfall, and the soft ripple of an inflatable raft as it ferries visitors deeper into the heart of the cave.

On my previous visit to Smoo the rains had turned the small Allt Smoo into a raging river, making it impossible to spend more than the briefest of moments on the wooden platform raised at the end of the small tunnel that connects the cave’s grand mouth and the flooded depths of the second chamber. This time, as I slowly walked beneath the moss-covered ceiling of the grand chamber, I hoped I would have the chance to explore the cave’s depths.

The Portal

Smoo Cave – Durness, Scotland
With most of the tourists having left for supper, I found myself standing alone in the center of the main chamber. With a skylight in the ceiling carved by the Allt Smoo before it found an easier route into the chamber, the cave ceiling arcs overhead with more than 40 feet of clearance. The back of the cave is covered in green moss and small plants, while a perfectly lit, otherworldly crevasse glows as though an emerald gateway to another world has opened.

For those familiar with the epic of Beowulf, it is easy to envision the early Norse explorers, who archaeologists say once made camp in the cave, huddled around a campfire telling stories of sea witches and cave trolls. For others who may have dreamed of similar sea-side caves, it is easy for the mind to wander with flights of fantasy and dreams straight from Arthurian legend. It seems likely, given that the archaeological record for the cave shows signs of habitation stretching back more than 4,000 years to the Neolithic Era, that the cave was inspiring travelers even while the Pharaohs raised the great pyramids in ancient Egypt.

I relished the moment and paused inside the second chamber for several photographs before returning to the hostel. If the weather cooperated, the following morning promised adventure and the opportunity to delve into Smoo’s deepest depths.

Exploring the Cave

Smoo Cave – Durness, Scotland
To my delight morning arrived with only the lightest of Scottish showers. I quickly made my way down to the grand entrance in the main cavern, paid a couple of pounds for the tour, and was fitted for a hardhat. I joined the others and we were instructed to head into the second chamber where an inflatable river raft was set up just beneath the wooden viewing platform. After a brief wait, our guide arrived and ushered us carefully down a vertical ladder and into the boat. He was a crusty old Scotsman who obviously had a deep relationship with the cave and had been giving tours for years. After obeying a few barked orders, we ducked our heads and pressed ourselves against the bottom of the raft as he pulled us out from beneath the low-hanging dock and along the edge of the second cavern.

Soon, we found ourselves by the outer edges of the falls as he explained how the waterfall came to be and the history of the cave. After a brief pause he tossed a few pieces of crumbled bread over the edge of the boat. As soon as it hit water, our eyes widened as a small army of invisible fish tore the bread asunder and then returned to the depths of the black waters.

With a gritty chuckle, a push, and a command to mind our heads, our guide used two ropes to pull us across the chamber and beneath a low-hanging arch with just enough clearance for the boat. A helmet scraped gently on the rocks overhead as we guided the boat beneath the arch and into a small chamber. There, our guide hopped out and led us carefully onto wooden boards haphazardly sitting in the midst of a small stream.

Deep in Smoo Cave

Smoo Cave raft – Durness, Scotland
The tunnel that stretched out before us was roughly the height of a tall man. The walls looked every bit like a fossilized seabed, reflecting their ancient past.

Careful to mind our footing, we followed our guide along the raised boards deeper into the cave. The journey wasn’t long, but served to add to the feeling of other-worldliness. Each step took us further along what felt like a mixture of an underground river and the type of ancient mine our ancestors might have carved out 100 generations ago.

The tunnel dead-ends abruptly. The walls of the cave flair slightly and then converge, covered on one side by a thick layer of wide stalactites that protrude partially from the wall. Beneath them the stream threads its way across fallen rocks which in turn give way to fine sand and a small pool that slips beneath the stalactite covered wall.

With the light twang of disappointment in his voice our guide explained that attempts to further explore the tunnel through the use of dive equipment had come up empty handed. Indications suggested that the chamber likely continued on further into the cliffs, but silt and obstacles in the submerged part of the tunnel made it impossible to explore. It was clear he had the heart of an explorer and itched for the day when some shift or change made it possible to find and delve those depths.

He broke our thoughtful reverie and voiced his theory that at one point, the cave system likely opened into additional chambers further in the cliff side. As evidence, he gestured at small bits of sodden charcoal that had gathered, caught in the sand at the pool’s lip. Bits of charcoal, like those we were seeing, had been tested and were roughly 4,000 years old. Even more interesting, they showed indications that they likely stemmed from man-made cooking fires.

Smoo Cave waterfall – Durness, Scotland

His passion to solve the question of where the charcoal was coming from and who had left it deep within the cave captured our imaginations as we slowly made our way back to the boat. Each of us dragged our feet slightly, eager to draw out the experience. But, then, as quickly as it had all begun we found ourselves back in the boat, our faces pressed against the thick rubber of the raft’s sides as we squeezed beneath the small arch and re-emerged into the cavern with the waterfall.

Smoo Cave isn’t the most grandiose cave you’ll ever explore. It’s also not the most beautiful. Yet, there’s something special about it which teases the imagination. For my part, I look forward to the opportunity to return and harbor the hope that someday we’ll solve the cave’s mystery and learn more about what lies behind its flooded passageway.

Logistics: Durness is best reached by car or motorcycle. However, it can be reached by bus or a bus/train combination by way of Lairg. In addition to Smoo Cave, Durness is also a popular base for exploring Cape Wrath. There are several hostels and numerous hotels and B&Bs in the area; the most convenient for viewing Smoo Cave is the Durness Youth Hostel. Smoo Cave is free to visit but the boat tour costs roughly 4 GBP and typically lasts 20-30 minutes.

Alex Berger is the author of and an American currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark. An avid traveler, his passions include travel photography and academic research into the evolving role technology plays in shaping backpacker culture.

The post The Mystical Smoo Cave of Scotland appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: Vagabonding: An Uncommon Interview to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: Vagabonding: An Uncommon Interview to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Interview to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Posted: 14 Nov 2013 03:07 PM PST

rolf pottsWhen I first started thinking about traveling the world, I bought a book most of you have probably heard of: Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts. It was a treatise on the personal and world benefits of travel, especially long-term travel. That book put into words all the thoughts and feelings I had about travel at the time and helped ease a lot of the fears I had about my decision to quit my job and travel the world.

In my view, if long-term travel and backpacking had a bible, this would be it. No book has ever come as close to expressing the philosophy of long-term travel as this one. I still have my original copy and occasionally thumb through chapters.

Since starting this website, Rolf and I have become friends (it's cool being friends with someone whose words changed your life) and this month marks the tenth anniversary of his book. Rolf is re-releasing the book in an audio format (it’s also the first book in the Tim Ferriss Book Club) and, to celebrate the book turning ten, I wanted to bring Rolf back on the site to talk about the fine art of vagabonding (I first interviewed him in 2009).

Nomadic Matt:  O.K., first question: How do you feel that your baby is ten years old? What kind of emotions does that make you feel?
Rolf Potts: It feels great. Especially when, so far as I can tell, more people are reading it ten years on than did when it first came out. I had high hopes when the book debuted, but the response continues to exceed my expectations.

How do you feel about creating a book that people view as the bible of long-term travel?
It’s humbling. I remember all those months I spent alone in a room in southern Thailand, putting the book together sentence by sentence. In that situation it’s hard to know what will come of your labors, even if it feels like you’re creating something special. The initial response to the book was encouraging, especially considering that it came out around the time the U.S. military was invading Iraq and most news outlets were shying away from travel. It wasn’t until a couple of years after the book’s debut, when vagabonders started telling me about pirated copies for sale in the backpacker ghettos of Vietnam, that I knew it had caught on at a grassroots level.

rolf potts

When I first interviewed you in 2009, my site wasn't even a year old and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. When you started writing this book, did you have any idea it would take you in the direction it has?
I think it’s hard to ever really know where you’re headed when you undertake a project like that. When I was first approached about writing the book I didn’t have grand ambitions to become a travel guru. The travel stories I’d been writing for Salon were reportorial and narrative, and rarely offered much in the way of travel advice. But Salon readers kept emailing and asking me how I was able to keep traveling for so long, and the suggestions I posted on my website tended to be philosophical in nature. At the time it didn’t occur to me to post budgeting strategies or packing tips, since I figured readers could figure that out on their own.

The most important motivating factors in my long-term travel career had been existential ones — factors that were rooted in cultivating a mindset that made vagabonding possible — so that’s what I detailed on my website, and that’s what caught the attention of an editor at Random House. Once I began writing Vagabonding the book took on a broad practical component, but its philosophical core is what resonated most with readers.

How did the success of the book shape your desires for being a writer? And is it hard to live up to the expectations such a big first book can create?
Because from the outset I was more vested in reportorial-narrative travel writing, Vagabonding has ended up being a nice complement to the rest of my career. In the introduction chapter of the book, I poke fun at the idea of creating a “Vagabonding publishing empire,” before going on to declare that I planned to write the book in such a way that it didn’t require sequels or spinoffs. So it’s been nice not to have to compete against myself. My second book, Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, won lots of awards, but it hasn’t sold nearly as many copies as Vagabonding — and that makes sense, because it’s a more specialized, narrative book, less given to broad advice. Vagabonding is for anyone who’s ever dreamed of travel, whereas the Marco Polo book has been embraced by a more specialized readership, one that is already interested in travel and travel writing.

rolf potts

So, while my public speaking gigs still tend to focus on vagabonding, I’ve taken my creative life in new directions. Instead of trying to live up to in-the-box expectations, I’ve taken on video and graphic narrative projects, I’ve done long-form reportage for Sports Illustrated, I’ve taught writing at Penn and Yale and the Paris American Academy. I may never write a book that proves as popular as Vagabonding, but I’d reckon that allows me to follow my heart and do what interests me rather than try to re-create or outdo my first book.

Many of your experiences in the book happened when you were young. When you think back to the book and re-read, have any of your thoughts and feelings changed?
I think those early travel experiences are the best ones to draw from when writing a book like Vagabonding, since those are the experiences readers will identify with. As I’m sure you know, there’s a point at which a lot of the motivations and routines of long-term travel become internalized and intuitive. But you don’t want to rely too much on a voice that infers travel as something normal; you want to convey how exciting and intimidating and extraordinary travel can be, and that’s why you draw so much on those early experiences. Some of those experiences happened almost 20 years ago now, but they still resonate with me. When I was listening to working-edits of the Vagabonding audiobook a few weeks ago, I kept getting caught up in the same feelings of wanderlust I felt when I was just starting out as a traveler. So the thoughts and feelings I convey in the book haven’t changed; I’ve just grown a little older since I wrote them down.

How do you feel about how traveling and backpacking has evolved?
It feels like the prospect of traveling and backpacking gets less intimidating with each passing year. There is just so much more information out there, so many ways to get online and see how people are doing it in real-time, so many gadgets and apps that make the workaday details of travel easier. This in mind, there’s less excuse than ever for not traveling. In some ways, long-term travel has become so easy that I kind of miss the old difficulties and hardships that made travel so surprising and rewarding — yet I like to think that today’s vagabonders can get just as much from the experience as those of a generation ago.

rolf potts

This is often just a matter of embracing the present moment for what it is and not worrying about the presumed glories of some bygone era. A few years ago I was giving a talk at a university in Italy, and the students kept telling me how jealous they were that I’d been to Southeast Asia in 1999, when “real travel” was still possible there. I had to laugh, since in 1999 backpackers often complained about how they wished they’d been to Thailand in, say, 1979. No doubt the backpackers of 1979 also looked back with fantasies of an even earlier era. But of course all we really have is the present moment, and vagabonding can be amazing as ever if you allow it to be, regardless of how things have changed.

I feel too many travelers/potential travelers long for this "real" experience that is, in part, mythic fantasy based on humans’ innate desire to discover. We all want to unleash our inner Indiana Jones. As you said, the core philosophical nature of the book hasn't changed. Do you think part of the reason why your book has done well is that it articulates that desire so effectively?
I spend a lot of time in the book downplaying fantasies and daydreams, and encouraging readers to embrace reality — since reality itself is what will deliver the complex and challenging and utterly amazing experiences that make the journey worthwhile. I also talk about how getting off the beaten path is a lot easier than it seems. One reason backpackers have always worried that destinations are getting “spoiled” is that they instinctively seek out other backpackers. Thus, surrounded by other travelers at a given hangout, they assume the whole world has been discovered. As I point out in Vagabonding, you don’t need to be Indiana Jones to discover something new and amazing; you usually just have to walk 20 minutes in any direction, or take a bus to a town that isn’t listed in your guidebook. So yes, I try to strike a balance between acknowledging the desire to experience something “real,” and articulating how simple and counterintuitive it is to find “real” experiences on the road.

rolf potts

In our first interview, I asked you what advice you would have for a new traveler. You said "slow down and enjoy yourself." Four years later, is that still your number one piece of advice?
Absolutely — and for all the reasons we’ve just been talking about. Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to know what you’re missing in 100 other places and thus miss out on where you are. Moreover, the temptation is greater than ever to micromanage each step of your journey, to the point where you end up chained to the abstraction of an itinerary rather than trusting your instincts and responding to what’s right in front of you. Forcing yourself to slow down and improvise your way through each new day on the road is the best way to break out of the habits of home and embrace the amazing possibilities a journey promises.

The new audio version of Rolf’s classic can be found on Audible. In celebration of the re-release, he created some videos for the book and I want to share the below about why “someday” will never come:

That excerpt comes from the first section of his book and it sums up perfectly why I made the decision to travel the world: you can’t put off your dreams until tomorrow.

Rolf’s book was extremely influential in my development as a traveler. If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. Vagabonding will leave you confident that your decision to travel was the right one.

The post Vagabonding: An Uncommon Interview to the Art of Long-Term World Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Under the Tuscan Sun (Cortona, Italy)

Posted: 11 Nov 2013 06:43 PM PST

Made famous by Frances Mayes' book (and movie) Under the Tuscan Sun, Cortona's medieval stonework soaks the sun's rays reflecting a bronzed honey hue. Roosting on the side of a hill encrusted in olive groves, Cortona offers sweeping panoramic views of the Tuscan countryside with shimmering Lake Trasimeno (where Hannibal surprised the Romans) in the distance. Its petite town centre surrounded by...

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: How Families and Senior Travelers Can Use the Advice on this Website

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: How Families and Senior Travelers Can Use the Advice on this Website

How Families and Senior Travelers Can Use the Advice on this Website

Posted: 11 Nov 2013 04:45 PM PST

family travelI'm thirty-two, single, and mostly travel alone. These are things that probably won't change anytime soon (though my mother keeps asking me when that second one will). As such, most of the travel tips on this website tend to be focused on what I, a single traveler, learn about traveling better, cheaper, and longer.

But that doesn’t mean my advice is only for solo travelers.

My belief is that budget travel tips are universal because when we all touch down in London town, we all deal with the same costs. We may end up staying in different places and eating in different restaurants, but the methods we use for saving money will generally be universal.

A common question I get asked is if my advice will work for families or older travelers. (It's also brought up in my reader surveys: "Matt, I wish you would write more for those with families or older travelers.")

There's a common perception that family and senior travel is an inherently different form of travel that requires special considerations. I know not everyone thinks that way but I often feel that the questions “Can you write tips that apply to family/senior travel?” implies that distinction.

But I don't think that is really the case.

Sure, when you're traveling with a family, you want kid-friendly activities, hotels and restaurants, or maybe you just won't stay in a hostel dorm, but is that really a whole new form of travel? I don't believe so. You’re just looking for different things in the budget travel realm.

Not every tip applies to every traveler – we all have different desires and needs and, since the question above is a very valid one, I wanted to show how you can apply the advice of this solo traveling nomad to your family trip (or, if you’re older, highlight some different accommodation types and tour information).

(Disclaimer: I’m not creating a go-to resource on this subject or pretending to know about how best to travel with children or the needs of older travelers. I don’t. But since this is question that comes up a lot, I just want to collate the tips and articles on my website to create a resource page that I believe can help in your planning.)

Family Travelers

the wide wide world family
It's one thing to buy a flight for one person; it's another to buy flights for four or five people. That $700 flight suddenly becomes $3,500 and that’s just more money than most of us can or want to spend. Seeing that number just for the flights would keep me at home!! Here are tips to lower flight costs for your family:

  • Use travel credit cards to get pointsPlaying the travel hacking game is even more important when you have to buy multiple airline tickets. With very little work, you can accumulate hundreds of thousands of points – enough to get you and your family anywhere in the world you want. For example, the new British Airways Avios card offers 50,000 points on sign-up (up to 100,000 if you meet their spending requirements) and that’s enough to get you and your family anywhere in the continental United States.
  • Fly to less frequented destinations – Long-haul international flights are quite expensive, but flights to locations only a few hours from you won't be. Fly to a less-visited destination closer to you and get cheaper flights. Here are some good flight deal websites: The Flight DealMomondoSkyscanner, AirfarewatchdogHoliday Pirates.
  • Visit a travel agent – Believe it or not, travel agents can still be good for bulk flight discounts, especially ethnic travel agents that specialize in flights to their specific country. (For example, buying flights to China in Chinatown.)

Beyond using points or finding some amazing deal, there's not much you can do to lower the cost of flights (whether for a single traveler or a family). Airline ticket prices are going up and we're all going to suffer. There are ways to avoid being the person who pays the most for their ticket but, without points, there's no way to get free or very discounted flights.

Relevant blog posts:

Another big cost that doesn't need to break your bank. The biggest way to win: skip the hotel. Hotels are the most expensive form of accommodation. Luckily, there are some great alternatives. Here's how you can overcome (or cut) these costs:

  • Stay in a family-friendly hostel – Hostels are not just for young, single backpackers. There are many hostels out there that are great for families (and tours groups) that don't have the party atmosphere normally associated with hostels. One of the best family friendly hostels in the world is the chain Youth Hostel Association. They offer nice, quiet, clean rooms, and have hostels around the world.
  • Rent someone's home or apartment – Vacation rental sites can get you all the comforts of home while on the road and work out cheaper person than a hostel or hotel. In many instances, you can rent a whole apartment for prices similar to budget hotels. Good rental sites include: Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, and Wimdu.
  • Use last-minute hotel discount sites –  Use websites like Hotwire and Priceline to find cheap, last-minute hotel rooms.
  • Use a hospitality network – Many of the hospitality networks like Couchsurfing, Hospitality Club, and Servas have numerous hosts who take families. There is often this perception these wesbites are for just young, solo travelers but many, many hosts take families (Hospitality Club and Servas more so than Couchsurfing). You get to know a local family with these websites and your kids will have other kids to play with, too! Win-win.

Relevant blog posts:

I imagine feeding a family is not very cheap (I know, I know – Captain Obvious over here, right?). When you’re traveling, being budget conscious becomes even more important as food costs can ruin your budget. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Cook – Obviously, cooking food will be cheaper than eating out. Visit local markets or grocery stores, get some food, and have a picnic or make sandwiches for later. When I don’t have access to a kitchen, I buy a lot of pre-made meals at supermarkets. They aren’t world-class meals but they do the trick.
  • Get lunch specials – The best time to eat out at restaurants is during lunch when places offer lunch specials and set menus that are cheaper than dinner time menus. This is especially true around Europe and in Singapore.
  • Food trucks/Street food - If you're in a place with food trucks or street food, eat there. Not only will these meals be cheaper, they will probably be very tasty too. Food trucks and street stalls are my favorite places to eat.
  • Don't eat near tourist attractions – This is an important rule of mine. If you eat near a major site, food will be three times as expensive and probably three times worse. Walk at least four blocks away before you pick a restaurant. You’ll get cheaper, more authentic local food this way.

Relevant blog posts:

Attractions – Use city tourism cards to get discounts and free entrance into local museums and attractions. Tourism offices (think London Tourism, Paris Tourism, New York Tourism, etc.) offer these cards that give you free entry and substantial discounts to all the attractions and tours in a city, free local public transportation (a huge plus), and discounts at a few restaurants and shopping malls. They last for a varying number of days and are one of the best ways to see many attractions on the cheap. (Remember kids below 12 get into most museums for free.)

Moreover, student and youth discount cards are available for people over 13. These cards will give free or discounted access to museums and attractions around the world. You can get these cards at STA travel.

Senior Travelers

don and alison, a happy senior couple traveling the world
For older travelers who are looking to travel the world in a bit more comfort but not looking to spend a lot of money, many of the above tips will work too. But the most common concern I hear is that I write too much about hostels and most older travelers want an alternative. Some of a my favorite non-hostel options include:

  • Airbnb rentals
  • B&Bs
  • YHA hostels
  • Budget hotels
  • Homestays
  • Farm stays

Relevant blog posts:

Another question that gets posed a lot is how to avoid those expensive single supplements tour groups charge for individual travelers. To avoid those fees, use small tour group operators. It's really only the large bus companies that still have that fee anyways (think Globus or Trafalgar tours). Most small operators have discontinued the practice. My favorite small tour operator is G Adventures, but anyone who runs groups smaller than 15 travelers or offers a hop-on/hop-off style service won't require a single supplement.


Nothing is ever universal, but tips for solo travelers, couples, families, or older travelers are not mutually exclusive. They can be borrowed from each other and used as you see fit. I write as a solo traveler who likes to save money, and while not all my tips are applicable to every type of traveler, most can be. So I hope this post addressed some of the questions you had about what tips on this site are relevant to family and senior travel.

P.S. – Are you in NYC? Great! I’m hosting a meet-up Thursday! Come say hello! Here is the RSVP information.

The post How Families and Senior Travelers Can Use the Advice on this Website appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Latest Post from Travel Wonders of the World

Explore the Industrial Heritage of North West England

Posted: 04 Nov 2013 12:34 PM PST

by Oliver Harper Industry has been at the heart of the North West of England since time immemorial. Even in prehistoric times, local craftsmen were fashioning tools from the region's rock and then, during the first half of the first millennium, the Romans mined the area for salt, copper, iron and lead. The biggest impact of industrialisation occurred during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries...

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