Category Archives: Travel Tips

BootsnAll has compiled an infinite amount of tips about indie travel since our inception in 1998. Learn more about solo travel, family travel, travel recipes, books, gear, gadgets, and a multitude of other tips to help plan your independent trip.

TripAdvisor Cost Index vs BootsnAll Costs Index

Our Friends at TripAdvisor released there list of Most Expensive and Least Expensive Cities in the world a few days ago. Check out the article here. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Here’s how they calculate their cost index:

The TripAdvisor TripIndex Cities is based on the cost of a couple staying one night in a four-star hotel, cocktails, a two-course dinner with a bottle of wine, and return taxi fare of 3.2 kilometres each way.

The Cheapest City they list was Sofia, Bulgaria at $153 bucks for the experience listed above.

Lists like this, build up how expensive it could be to travel the world. TripAdvisor – perhaps the most well known travel specific online entity, has tremendous reach and influence, so I when I see stuff like this, I think of my neighborhood friends from Chicago – seeing this and thinking – “How can I travel (like Keener does) – around the world with prices like that on a per night basis. He must be RICH!”. (Not true pals – there are other ways! – see below)

Well – most humans can’t afford that for more than a few nights per year

So – with this article fresh in mind, have a look at our series of articles and Jodi curated list, of how much it costs per day in particular countries/region to travel “indie style”.

Czech Republic on $45 Per Day

How we choose our Per Day Budgets
We choose the per day budget number based on personal boots on the ground experience and research. It’s not a bare-bones budget, but not extravagant either. The suggested budget per article will allow you to sleep and eat comfortably and take part in most activities you wish.

Here is an assortment of Budget pieces for Indie minded Travelers to get your started:

Asia
Cambodia on $25 Per Day
Vietnam on $30 Per Day
Nha Trang, Vietnam on $25 Per Day
Malaysia on $10 Per Day
Myanmar/Burma on $45 Per Day
South Korea on $30 Per Day

Central America
Guatemala on $25 Per Day
Panama for $30 Per Day

Europe
Czech Republic on $25 Per Day
Portugal for $50 Per Day
Bosnia for $45 Per Day

Africa
Malawi for $25 Per Day

North America
Canada for $60 Per Day
Cuba on $75 Per Day

Friend of BootsnAll (FOB) Jodi of Legal Nomads curated a nice list of budget pieces for many parts of the world that relate and are aligned with our articles above.

So are you a TripAdvisor Style traveler? Or a BootsnAll Style Traveler? If you are BootsnAll style – register to be a member of our Indie Travel Community.

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Trains, Planes, and Automobiles: Which to Take and Why?

As you ponder your next adventure, how to get there (and around once you’re there) is likely in the forefront of your mind. In this day and age, transportation has no doubt become an invaluable commodity to the common man. This applies particularly to those of us that have, and ultimately have given into, wanderlust. Modern advances in transportation have allowed world travelers to explore the vast reaches of the globe. The question is, which one, the train, the plane, or the automobile, does so with the most efficiency? The answer relies largely on personal preferences and limitations like budget and destination, as well as on smaller aspects like convenience and comfort level. In this article, I list the pros and cons of each mode of transportation and make recommendations for some common travel situations.

The train


Believe it or not, train travel has become quite popular in recent years. As gas prices continue to rise, travelers have begun to consider alternate forms of transportation. Traveling by train certainly has its merits.

  • Trains are fast, direct, and often connect a country’s major cities. Japan’s bullet train system, for example, is highly efficient and expands over several Japanese cities.
  • Train travelers can be completely at ease. You don’t have to maneuver through streets, get directions, or suffer through traffic!
  • Train travel is easy to plan and relatively inexpensive. For example, to travel between Rome and the nearby Perugia, you could simply check the train schedules online, head to the station, buy a ticket and wait.
  • Most of all, train travel can be fun! You can admire the gorgeous countryside between cities and get the opportunity to meet locals and other fellow travelers!

There are however, a few things to consider when taking the train.

  • Taking the train can occasionally be inconvenient. You have to adjust your itinerary around the train’s time tables. Additionally, if you wanted to travel to a city without a station downtown, you would have to plan further trip transportation accordingly.
  • Trains can be particularly crowded, uncomfortable, and dirty, especially in cities where they are a common commodity.
  • Though you have the opportunity to meet great people, you also may find yourself in close quarters with drunkards, weirdos, and pickpockets among a number of other unsavory characters. So you have to practice caution!

The plane


The plane has almost, if not completely, overtaken the boat as the primary mode of travel overseas. But when one considers travel between cities or countries on the same continent, how does it stack up against the train and the car? Plane travel certainly has a number of appealing qualities.

  • Planes are the fastest mode of transportation in the world today. Naturally, cutting down on actual travel time can save you time for exploring your destination!
  • Plane travel can also be relatively economical depending on where you are. For example, due to high competition between budget airlines in Western Europe, I was able to buy plane tickets for a better deal than if I were to buy train tickets.
  • Like with train travel, traveling by plane also allows you to multitask. You can read, play games, etc. on the plane without worrying about where you’re going.
  • Planes are also probably the safest way to travel, considering the much tighter forms of security on board. Your belongings will also remain safe from thieves!

Planes also have their downsides.

  • This applies particularly to if you’re traveling in America, but the numerous pre-boarding procedures can be high stress. If you hadn’t already done so online, you would need to check-in, turn in any checked luggage (under a certain weight and now most likely paying for it), and get your boarding pass. Then you would need to pass through security, which in American airports is a special kind of hell involving stripping, throwing away perfectly good bottles of water, and having your private bits scoped by TSA officials.
  • Being confined to those tiny chairs can be quite uncomfortable, especially during long flights.
  • Although you don’t normally have to watch out for pickpockets on the plane, you may encounter smelly, loud, or obnoxious people on board!
  • And naturally, as you are paying for speed, planes also tend to be the most expensive form of transportation.

The automobile


Cars are arguably the most used and most useful mode of transportation; the average joe will use the car on an almost daily basis. But what does that mean to us as travelers? When is renting a car the most economical option? Let’s consider the pros.

  • A car allows freedom to travel! With a car, you can leave when you like. You can get to your destination or not. You can take detours whenever you wish. You can go sightseeing with ease. Cars are optimal in that they encourage the true spirit of travel–spontaneity!
  • Traveling by car also means privacy. You can go ahead and cuddle with a loved one, consume snacks like a pig, or put your bare feet up on the dash.
  • By far, cars tend to also be the most comfortable mode of transportation. The weary car traveler can take a rest stop and switch driving responsibilities with a passenger.

You must also take note of the car’s negatives.

  • Car travel can be particularly time consuming if one considers roadblocks, detours, traffic, and the like. In this sense, they cannot match the time efficiency afforded by the train, and more so, by the plane.
  • Car travel is also notoriously expensive. On top of steadily rising gas prices, you would have to take into account rental fees and possible maintenance for potential problems.
  • The freedom that comes with traveling by automobile is also accompanied by stress. The car becomes your responsibility, so you must be extremely careful driving it. Additionally, you might have to worry about parking wherever you go which can be a huge hassle.
  • If you’re especially environmentally conscious, cars are also the worst for mother earth.

General travel tips

Take the train if you:

  • would like to see the European countryside between major cities.
  • want to travel between Tokyo and Nagano.
  • want to meet similarly weary travelers.
  • have a good amount of time to spend in your destination.
  • want to hear the somehow nostalgic sound of the locomotive pulling into a station.
  • are going between two rather close cities like Boston and Providence.
  • want a relatively hassle-free travel experience.

Take the plane if you:

  • are short on time.
  • want to travel around western Europe efficiently.
  • want to see a free in flight movie.
  • are traveling between the west and east coasts of America.
  • love airplane food.
  • are going through rather unsafe territory in Africa.
  • need to go overseas (obviously).

Take the automobile if you:

  • would like to roadtrip across the United States.
  • want to be in charge of your own travel adventure!
  • get hungry constantly.
  • want to be able to explore Manila to the best of your ability.
  • have a ton of material belongings that you simply must take with you.
  • are the type to take spontaneous detours.

Again, transportation choices depend largely on personal preferences. If you’re the planner type who’s on a relatively tight schedule, you should probably go by plane. If you like to take things slow and perhaps daydream about the wonders of landscape, the train’s for you. Or if you’re a free spirit who would love to take control of his or her own adventure, then I suggest the car. This article is nothing but a set of general guidelines to help you make your transportation decisions. The rest is really up to you!

Eunice Gopez is a former Go Overseas intern and graduating senior at UC Berkeley. She loves writing, travel, and naturally, writing about travel.

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Do you have a great traveler recipe? We want to know!

Do you have what you think is a kick-ass recipe that’s easy to make when traveling? We want to know about it.

We’re looking for the kinds of dishes we can make in hostel kitchens or in apartment rentals as we travel, from ingredients we can find (relatively easily) in markets around the world, and using the tools we’ve come to expect in what’s billed as (but isn’t really) a “fully-equipped” kitchen. This is stuff that’s simple enough to make on the road, and also something that’s so delicious you actually like to cook it at home, too.

Do you think you’ve got just the recipe we’re looking for? Let us know! Leave a comment on this post with your recipe – if we like yours, we may feature it on BootsnAll!

There’s your challenge, travelers – get cooking!

photo by Piers Brown

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The Girl’s Guide to Packing for Fashion and for Function

Packing can be a particularly stressful experience, considering the number of things you have to take into consideration: How long will your stay be? What kind of weather can you expect at your destination? What will you be doing when you get there? And you might wonder, with all this already on your plate, why should fashion of all things be any real consideration?

As a girl who prides herself on an up to date sense of style, I offer this question in return: Why do function and fashion have to be mutually exclusive? For example, a girl studying abroad in France clearly needs to consider both fashion and function!

In this quick guide, I offer tips on how to pack for both, so you can be prepared for the ups and downs of travel as well as the ins and outs of fashion trends!

1) Remember to pack lightly

As a number of other travel guides will tell you, arguably the most important tenet to packing well is packing lightly. Over packing weighs you down and is incredibly impractical. It’s a rather common misconception, but you don’t need to take along your entire wardrobe to look stylish abroad!

2) Bring a few of these suggested essentials

How long will you be staying? Over packing is always a mistake, but depending on the length of the trip you’ll need to adjust your quantity of clothing accordingly. For example, if you are planning a six month trip to volunteer in South Africa, I’d recommend bringing more than just one backpack. If you still have extra room, please take me with you! Here’s how I’d describe the necessity of my go to items:

  • A pack of tank tops: These are perfect for layering under your shirts and blouses or for wearing by themselves in warm weather.
  • A pack of white, v-neck t-shirts: The simplicity of these tops make them perfect for everyday.
  • A white button up blouse: For a more put together look.
  • A few pairs of comfortable, well-fitting jeans: A good pair of jeans is perfect in all kinds of weather and for all kinds of activities. Bootcut or skinny jeans would probably be the more fashion-forward options.
  • A couple of different colored cardigans: Layering with cardigans adds both visual interest as well as color in your otherwise neutral outfit.
  • A classic jacket: I personally love a well-tailored blazer, but a leather jacket or military jacket will do just as well. The point is that, as your choice piece of outerwear, it should be relatively warm. A classic cut and neutral color would be much easier to style.
  • A dress or two: I suggest at least two dresses: one for casual, everyday wear and another for evening wear. For the former, pick a dress with a fun pattern or classy cut, keeping in mind the season. And as for the the latter, you can’t go wrong with your favorite little black dress!

3) The key is in the accessories

Layering and accessorizing not only adds interest to an outfit, but packing a few beautiful scarves is much more practical than forcing 5 other dresses into your suitcase. You can mix and match outer layers with inner layers, – scarves with necklaces to create new, simple, and classy ensembles for every day of your visit. Equally important, remember to work in elements which reflect local fashion trends. For example, a friend of mine recently decided to volunteer in Peru. She came back with some amazing pieces purchased from small vendors in Peru. This is also a great way to support the local economy. Here are a few suggested accessories:

  • Patterned scarves: I cannot stress these items enough! Scarves are not only colorful and come in a number ofdifferent materials and textures, you can wear them in so many different ways.
  • A few classic pieces of jewelry: Jewelry is light and so easy to pack. Pick a few fun pieces that represent your sense of style.
  • A stylish, neutral colored purse: This is a must have for every woman on the go. My default bag of choice is a leather shoulder bag that I picked up at an Italian flea market, but you can have some fun with this. Pick a tote, asatchel, or your classic handbag.

4) A word on shoes

All you need in the shoe department really, are two pairs:

  • Walking shoes: I would recommend flat, comfortable shoes for walking. I always bring a pair of black oxfords because of their chic look, but sneakers, slip ons, and loafers would do just as well.
  • Classy shoes: These are your pair for a night out. I’d suggest a pair of flats, or if you can handle it, even a pair of pumps.

5) What about the weather?

You can also pack additional accessories if you’ll be traveling in a specific climate.

For warm weather, take along:

  • A pair of face-flattering sunglasses
  • A bathing suit
  • A pair of sandals or flipflops

And to beat the cold, pack:

  • A beanie
  • A warm, knit scarf
  • Thermal underwear
  • A thick, hooded jacket

Follow this guide and you’ll not only be ready to take on the world, but also look good doing it!

Eunice Gopez is a former Go Overseas intern and graduating senior at UC Berkeley. She loves writing, travel, and naturally, writing about travel.

Photo credits:  we-make-money-not-art, Al Jazeera English

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Book Reviews: “Dream Save Do” & “Getting Rid of It”

During a couple recent international flights, I finally got some solid reading time in – which meant I had time to dig into two ebooks released by a pair of long-term travelers we at BootsnAll happen to adore, Betsy and Warren Talbot.

Travelers know the Talbots as Married with Luggage, but since setting off on their RTW trip more than a year ago, they’ve become evangelists for something bigger than just travel. Their focus is now on what they call “Living the Good Life,” and while their own personal “good life” is about traveling the globe, they’re cheerleaders ready to help you achieve whatever the “good life” means for you.

(more…)

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