It hasn’t been easy for travelers in 2020. Most of us have been confined to our homes due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. You may have gotten by with day trips here or there, socially distant excursions with safety top of mind. You’ve lived vicariously through travelers in documentaries and TV shows. You’ve read books that convey what it means to travel the world. You have even honed your photography skills so your shots turn out just right.
There’s nothing like the real thing, however. You want to get out and travel again. Should you, anytime soon?
There’s no simple answer to that question. Everyone’s needs and risk levels are different, and there’s a non-zero chance of either contracting or spreading the virus when you leave your community. The best you can do is dedicate serious thought and research to determining not only when you can travel again, but also how to travel safely.
1. Understand the safety measures in place.
Avid travelers know that travel will never be 100-percent safe. In terms of health, road warriors know the tricks to fighting off germs: Pack disinfectant wipes for the plane, travel-sized hand sanitizer, and an array of remedies to fight off nausea, indigestion, or other ailments.
Those are all still good habits to practice as you hit the road, but you now need to combine them with behavioral practices such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
So before you travel, whether you’re road-tripping or flying, camping out in a state park or staying at a hotel, you need to make sure you know how to minimize the risk of transmission, including increasing disinfecting measures, wearing masks, and picking up food from drive-throughs or quick-service spots rather than eating at restaurants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published guidelines on how to travel (relatively) safely via road, train, and plane.
If you’re still not comfortable, it might be best to delay your departure.
2. Ask the following questions: Where would you like to go, and what would you like to do?
Prior to COVID-19, you might have known exactly where you wanted to go, how you’d get there, and where you’d stay before you even booked. That’s no longer the reality. Finding out what locations are open to tourists is now a key part of your travel research.
Understand that different regions are in different stages of lockdown and subsequent reopening. For example, Europe is currently only allowing intra-E.U. travel for E.U. citizens.
Some countries, such as Iceland and New Zealand, took extremely aggressive measures and now have no active cases. Iceland is currently accepting tourists who either take a COVID-19 test or quarantine for two weeks. New Zealand, on the other hand, is still closed to non-citizens.
Just because countries are allowing tourists doesn’t mean you should necessarily book a ticket. In fact, the State Department advises all U.S. citizens to avoid international travel during the pandemic.
For a better idea of what is open, broken down by categories including air travel, cruise lines, hotels, restaurants, and more, use a resource like Skift’s “Reopening Travel” global timeline, which is updated daily.
As for domestic travel, states are reopening nonessential businesses on their own timelines. Las Vegas, for example, just reopened casinos. New York City, on the other hand, is still largely shut down; while non-essential businesses are allowed to do curbside pick-ups, many restaurants and bars remain closed.
3. Determine a travel timeline.
This used to be the norm: You had a departure date and a return date; you put in for PTO—pretty simple. Currently, it’s a much more complicated process.
The first variable is your target travel date.
Let’s say you want to travel this summer, and you don’t have a lot of flexibility. Well, your options may be limited, but it’s best to focus on a window toward the end of August and into September. If it looks like you can’t get the vacation you want in that time frame, you may have to strongly consider rescheduling for 2021.
Or consider a late-in-the-year vacation. If you just want to get something on the books, you may feel more comfortable booking a trip in November or December, but that doesn’t make it a guarantee. Even when scheduling trips further in advance, you should have alternatives in mind. If nothing else, make sure you know how to collect a refund or voucher.
The second variable is how you prepare leading to the trip and what you do upon your return. Any potential exposure to COVID-19—local or abroad—requires quarantining and strict social distancing for two weeks both before and after your trip. This limits your risk of catching the virus, and helps prevent its spread.
Keep that in mind as you plan. It may affect other activities on your schedule.
4. Talk to an expert travel advisor.
Travel advisors are more than agents. They’re experts, ready to guide your travel as much as sell it. With so many moving parts and the state of travel constantly in flux, you need someone in your corner.
The best way to figure out when and how it’s safe for you to travel again is to speak to an advisor.
Travel advisors go through extensive training to learn the ins and outs of the industry and provide you with the tools to have the best trip possible.
They can answer questions like:
Brought to you by Inteletravel
I’ll be the first to admit, I hate carrying cash. I find it such a hassle and the stress to stuff it back into your wallet as quickly as you can because you’re holding up the line is more than I can handle.
But as I get older and the more I travel the more cash becomes convenient. So, here is why you should always carry cash on you especially if you are traveling.
Problems with your bank.
I’m thankful for my bank, I get discounts on travel, points back and a really awesome small interest rate but, one thing I hate is I constantly, and I mean constantly, get alerts and card block. I know that the bank does this to protect us and our assets but I tell you; when I pay my rent the same time at the same amount it’s Pretty frustrating when my card gets frozen every other month!
Or worse, when you alert the bank that you are traveling but they freeze your account anyway for unusual activity! Oh God! That’s so annoying. Like please I’m just trying to buy this Little Rock dressed as Elvis, that is not unusual; that my friends is called tourism!!! Anyhow, this is one big reason I carry cash. So I can still buy food, or unnecessary decor while I travel before having to jump on the phone and argue with my bank for 30 minutes, lesson learned.
Have you ever been to the beach in California? Let me tell you...Parking is such a Beach! Pretty much every parking lot is overcrowded, the streets are littered in pedestrians and it’s so incredibly stressful, but to make matters worse, some parking lots, don’t take cards, especially if they are owned and operated by businesses nearby who profit on overflow parking. So if you are wanting to get you sunbathing on, best carry some parking cash… and a few extra bucks for when the beach vendors. I can almost guarantee, that freshly cut watermelon will be calling your name!
So sliced watermelon brings us to our next point. Vendors. You will thank me when you are walking around at a random flea market, or festival and you realize more than half the vendors are cash only! There have been so many times that we Travel to another city to stay a few days and come to find there is a festival or really awesome event happening, and we just have to attend. How sad would you be if you see homemade funnel cakes topped with caramel ice cream, but you cannot have any because their square pay isn’t working!!! But then you remember you had some cash set aside. At that moment you will look up and silently thank me for encouraging you to take emergency festival cash. Learn from my mistakes.
Another reason you should always carry cash is for emergencies, sometimes as we travel we can run into hiccups; like getting mugged, getting hurt, losing your wallet or some other unforeseen disaster! Carrying cash can really get you out of an emergency pickle.
Ever heard of a mugger’s 20? While visiting New York I learned this method. You carry $20 on your person, in the event, God forbid, you get jumped or mugged; you can hand over the $20 in hopes that will be enough to get the mugger to walk away. Thankfully, I’ve never had to experience something like this; but when traveling to high tourist destinations I do pocket a $20 just in case.
I will be the first person to admit, I overspend while traveling! I can’t help it! Everything is so new and more expensive and I love gimmicky tourist souvenirs and have an intense need to purchase one for every single member of my family. With that being said, I may need to budget from time to time. Using cash to budget is one of the oldest money-saving tricks in the book. This is how it works.
Step one: set aside a certain amount of money for each different category. For example, $10 on souvenirs, $35 on transportation, $65 on snacks and eating out...etc
Step two: stick to that amount! Many people will put that amount in an envelope, and use it when needed. But the sight of seeing your physical money slowly or rather rapidly in most cases, disappear will bring more awareness to your spending habits; therefore, helping you spend less on items and services you may not need.
Lastly, and my personal favorite: FLEX. Everyone loves to flex on other people. Whether it is fashion, makeup or flashing that money, flex is just a way of life. Keeping cash on hand is always a power move. Is it a good power move? That is to be debated...but, nothing gives you a high like pulling out a wad of cash and feeling everyone’s eyes on you. Be careful though, don’t flex at my table or you’ll be expected to pay for my meal!
So there you have it, a few reasons you should carry cash with you as you travel! Was there a time when cash saved you? I’d love to hear your travel stories! comment and tell me why you carry cash!
Happy travels, Ali v.
check out why we decided to sell everything we owned to live our life on the road
Want to travel but you don't know where to start or how to plan your trip? check out post on how to travel when you're broke or you just don't know how. HERE
Often time, people will tell me something like, “wow! I’d love to travel, but, I can’t afford it, I don’t know how, it's too scary, and we just don't have the time.
I personally used to say the same things. I used to dream about traveling and wishing I could just get up and go see the world! But, with work, rent and fear keeping me in my place the furthest I would go was, few hours ride to the beach. It took me over three years to actually get “brave” enough to say. “Screw it. I’m going to try, and if I fail…..Then I fail.
The cool thing is... I didn’t fail. I Left the country and I had a blast! Now I have wanderlust or rather travel fever. I'm ready for an adventure all the time and have an itch to do something new. I get to live my dream and I want to let you know you can do it too! So without further ado, here are a few steps on planning a trip and some tips that will help you travel if you are to scared, short on cash or just don't know how!
Say: Screw it and do it
Repeat after me, “Screw it, let’s just go for it.” Awesome! You see, You are never going to get anything done if you don’t try and like the famous Shia LaBeouf says, "JUST DO IT." Yes, you might be scared. Yes, you might not know what to do BUT, tell yourself you are going to do it anyway. With this mentality, you can move forward and everything else will fall into place. So Screw it, get up get that computer and pick your destination!
Okay, so if you are a scared pants like me, and are too afraid to go very far without your mamma. (cough* me) Then don’t plan a trip out of the country! Start small, if you are a first time traveler, maybe start with a place in your own state. You will be surprised how much is in your own backyard. This type of trip also helps people whose pocket books are tight. Now if you really want to go exotic and have some different countries under your belt, then a cruise is your best bet. They are cheap, group friendly, and full of criteria that you don’t have to plan yourself.
let's start planning!
Spend light and spend right
So now that you have picked a destination, let's talk about how to spend money so you have more money to spend!
Sure you can be boujee and get a hotel, there is nothing wrong with that, but, if you want your money to go a long way then consider these shelter options; plus who spends that much time in the hotel room anyways?
Staying at a hostel: Staying in a hostel is probably one of my favorite options. They are cheap, social, and incredibly helpful. When my aunt, sister, and I visited San Francisco, we stayed at the green tortoise hostel. We paid for a full room, with three beds. If you are traveling alone, you can rent a bed and share a room with other travelers. Most Hostels will have a hall area where you can play games, meet others, and connect to the internet. Also, our hostel had complimentary breakfast and dinner! We only had to worry about spending money on lunch! How Awesome is that?! Another really cool thing about staying at a hostel is that there will be opportunities to see more and do more. Most hostels will have their own events, like, bar crawls or scavenger hunts, so you can see the local places and make friends while you are at it. I meet a really cool traveling couple from Korea on a crawl and we still keep in touch on our Instas till this day! (My instagram. Let's be friends!)
Airbnb: If you are going to pay for a hotel you might as well try your hand out for an Airbnb. In most cases they are the same price if not cheaper! If you decide to travel in a group this might be your best option. You can all split the fares and have a pretty rad house to yourself. Or if want to rent a room out, Airbnb has that option as well. The cool thing about staying in one of these are the amenities. You get access to a full kitchen not just a mini fridge and a microwave. On top of that you get privacy and comfortability. Sometimes it feels like you are at home! Most airbnbs will have really cool features like a pool, game room, hot tub, outside fire pit… you name it. We have stayed at some really cool places for great prices. Just make sure to be a nice visitor and respect the home and clean up after yourself!
Couch surfing: So I’ll be honest the idea of couch surfing can be scary. Who wants to spend the night with a stranger? However, if you can get past the fear, this can be the most fun and be quite a life changing experience. Couch surfing allows their hosts to become “verified” in the community and have references from other surfers so you can check them out before you book. So if you can push past the fear, you can actually save a nice chunk of money with this option. And no, not all couch surfing is on couches, You will be surprised at the generosity of people! Here in our home town, we have a guy who opens his art shop to couch surfing…in a secrete book self! You literally get to stay in a secret room full of fun stuff in an art shop. On top of free room on board you get the option of hanging out with your host or not. Meaning, if you want a local to show you around they just might!
So now that you have picked your destination, and have an idea for what you are going to do for shelter it’s time to pick a date. Keep in mind you don’t have to travel on a weekend. Sometimes a week day is better because there are less people out and about. When you book your shelter you want to book anywhere from two weeks to five days before your trip. The earlier the better. This Gives you some time to put money aside to pay for your expenses.
Food: When it comes to food you also have to spend right. You can go and eat out for every meal, but I would personally disadvise doing this. One, food is a major expense and restaurant after restaurant can really rack up in numbers. Two, sometimes foreign food won't sit well with the tummy and you can spend half your trip crawling from bathroom to bathroom instead of bar to bar. I would recommend splurging on one meal a day. Whether that be a full on restaurant or fast food. For your other meals I would consider eating light and making your own food like sandwiches or salads. Doing this will give you more money to spend on actual experiences.
Pack your snacks!!! Bruh, if you aren’t packing yourself snack, do you even like you? Stop at a dollar tree and load up on snacks! Chips, cookies, drinks, popcorn, and everything else because traveling gives you the munchies!!! Thank me later.
Picking things to do:
Rule number one: always, always, always research things to do. It’s okay to want to go with the flow on your trip, but, have at least a loose idea of what you want to do each day and then look those things up! It would suck to drive 8 hours to San Francisco and show up to Alcatraz only to find out you need to book it months in advance. I’m speaking from experience, do some research and make reservations at the places that require or offer them.
Rule number two: Do not overbook yourself!!!! I can not stress this enough. Do not plan on doing something every thirty minutes. You need time to really be in the moment and appreciate your activity. You do not want to rush through something and miss the whole experience. Be laid back and have a few things you really want to do and wing it from there. I had a whole free day in San Francisco because, you know, ...Alcatraz… And was wondering what I was going to do! I decided to just go for a walk, take my time and just explore since I didn't have anything booked until later that day. While on my walk, I ran into a sale for a tour bus and bam, just like that, I saw almost the whole city in one go! That was my favorite part of the trip!
Utilize coupons: Use Groupon! In most touristy cities they have sales like crazy on Groupon. You can book something that’s worth over a hundred bucks for half the price! If you stay at a hotel, motel, holiday inn,...or hostel...ask them if they have any specials in collaboration with any local attractions. One Hostel I stayed in, gave their guest vouchers for a free drink with a food purchase from the restaurant down the street.
Don’t bring everything you own with you on your trip. Think minimalistic and pack only what you need. You don't want to be lugging everything around with you, taking up space in the hallways, and in the rooms especially if your sheltering with other people.
Ladies, ditch your purse for a pocket wallet or small backpack, when you leave for your day’s adventure, you do not need to bring the entire bathroom with you. All you really need is your phone, wallet and keys. (If you know where that's from leave a comment.)
So now all you need to do is some research on the above and this should give you a ballpark of how much you are going to spend. Don’t forget to add in money for transportation, like, bus fare and gas. you’ll want to have that money set aside, you’d be surprised you might actually already have the funds if you used some of the money saving tips I mentioned earlier. If you do not have the funds that’s ok! It took me a couple of months and lots of yard sales to get me to a few destinations; the trick is to set yourself up for success and start saving right away. Understand That you might need to sacrifice the small pleasures for just a bit (like coffee) so you can experience something life changing. Because every time you travel it really does change you and in most cases for the better. Once you have saved up your funds don’t wait! Book your trip. Book your shelter first, then start booking your activities. Always pack the day before so you can wake up to one less thing you have to do. Remember to stay safe, and most importantly be in the moment and have fun. Happy travels and don’t forget to come back here and tell me how it went.
Check out our travel adventure! We went to L.A. and started off only spending six dollars on transportation! We based the whole date off the red line metro! We stopped at the last bookstore, langers and more! Click here
Want to know more about us? Check out our origin story: Why we sold everything to live in a RV. Click here
Remember! If it planning your trip is just to much for you, consider asking a travel agent for help!
We went on a date, to a different city to visit places we have never been. It was fun and YOU should try it too!
I had been dying to go on an adventure and Finally had the opportunity! I wanted it to be epic and spontaneous, but not to epic that it would scare my soon to be husband away. I came across a post along time ago about visiting LA via metro and decided to recreate that in a mini version.
The metro is a fun way for people to travel to tourist locations easily, quickly and on the cheap. We had never ridden a train before and we were not familiar with how it worked but the goal here was to have fun and not dig too deep into our pockets.
For this date we chose to take the metro RED line.(click here to read more about it) The red line is probably one of the best day tours to take when exploring LA. There is almost something to do at every stop including visiting Hollywood and Universal studios. Because we had been to a few of those places already we chose to only stop at a few selected locations and explore from there.
Our first stop: Little Tokyo.
My biggest regret visiting little Tokyo was that I only took pictures and videos on my snap chat! Those are now long gone with my other deleted adventures. Sad face. When we visited it was bustling and full of flowers! This lively place is so worth the stop. The mix of authentic food and the quirky shops make this stop all the more cooler. Totally worth your time!
After stuffing our faces with sushi we ventured to the metro station and paid a measly $6 dollars for both of us! Let me repeat that!! A full day pass for two people: 6 bucks! I was over the moon. I'm sure my husband was pretty happy about that price too. I bet you he was already thinking about how to spend the money we saved on our next meal.
Our next stop: Pershing Square
I’ll be honest, when you step off the metro and into the city at this stop it’s not pretty. It doesn’t smell good either. I remember making Jorge(Hubby) stop at Walgreen to buy some hand sanitizer in case I touched something I didn’t mean to. IF you can make it pass the off putting smell and the lines of people this stop actually holds two amazing gems. One of which was my favorite part of the Trip. Gem number one is The Down & Out Bar. This bar is super neat. We went in with the realization that neither of us were driving thanks to LA’s awesome transportation and popped in for a drink. After Chatting up the bartender we had to get in some trouble and take some photos with their police photo booth. It totally made our day.
The second Gem Is a big store literally just across the street The Last Book Store. This book store is not your ordinary book store! It has a maze of books! Seriously! A whole labyrinth of books on the second floor. You can walk right in and tour it, take some awesome photos and really appreciate the work and artistic skill that went into creating it. Besides selling books they also have a great collection of records. Worth checking it out.
Our third stop: West-lake
Before we got to this stop we accidentally got off at the Metro Center and just circled around. There are a few bars there if you wanted to stop for some drinks. Once we got our heads on right and came out of the West-lake center we were immediately met with tons of street vendors. It reminded me of our hometown swap meet. People were selling a variety of things from fresh foods to homemade shoes. Left of the station and across the way is a place called Langer’s. I heard about this place in an Laweekly post a while back which inspired our day trip all together. They are famous for their pastrami sandwich, which my husband Gave a 10/10. They make a mean sandwich and they are pretty big too.
Our Fourth and Final stop: Vermont
Here we had to catch the bus to our final destination. Surprisingly our day pass card also covered the bus fare so we didn't have to pay for the ride. Shatto 39 lanes is where Jorge and I discovered he has a real knack for bowling, and I ...well, I did not. After playing two rounds we headed to the mini arcade in the front of the building and wasted the rest of our quarters. It wasn't that packed when we visited which was such a plus! Also, bring your IDs they serve alcohol to accompany your bowling.
After being totally annihilated at bowling, we caught our bus back to the station and hopped on until we got back to our car. Taking this mini adventure was just enough to itch that need for travel+. It was cheap, fun and full of new experiences. I encourage you to try it out, there is something to do at almost every stop! You never know what you might see or who you might meet! Good travels and share your travel ventures with us when you go!
Why We Sold Everything We Own To Live In a RV
So you read that right. My husband and I have pretty much put everything we own for sale. Tvs, games, vacuum cleaner, and more. Of course, we kept some necessities like, our underwear and a sleeping mask, but for the most part we are giving up everything. Even comfortable living quarters.
Can you imagine: two...shall I say….fairly overweight, messy people living full time in a traveling one bedroom bus? Because that's our new reality.. And a bus is actually bigger than our rv. We chose to make this sacrifice and live “Uncomfortably” for a time so we can well...Live in discomfort..
Let me explain... When I say discomfort I don't really mean discomfort physically, although, we will probably be uncomfortable living in such a confined space; but I mean this in a different sense. You see my Husband and I have become too comfortable. We settled down in a home we didn't like, in an area we didn't care for and work jobs we didn't want.. Because it was convenient, affordable and that's what society said we needed to do to be successful.
Before we settled we wanted to travel, we wanted to see new things and visit new places. We wanted to try those incredibly famous destination foods and experience new and exciting human experiences. But somehow the dream got lost and we got to comfortable with life as it was in the now, with work..catching up on tv shows spending our days inside sitting down on the sofa potentially wasting our lives when our dream was just outside the door.
As every day went by, it got harder and harder to actually get off our butts and find our adventures. We Grew more accustomed to watching others have fun and somehow tricked our minds into thinking that was enough. That if we stay where we are, eventually, those desires those dreams will come. But the truth is...they won't. We aren't going to experience any of that if we don't actually go out and do it ourselves.
You see, those people more than likely took a risk. To say yes to something that was potentially uncomfortable for a moment so that they can reach their dream. Getting in front of a camera for the world to see you is uncomfortable, meeting new people and putting yourself out there is scary and selling everything you own to live in an Rv is incredibly stressful; but in the end, discomfort leads to opportunity and in our case the opportunity to get up and move in a moments notice.
A year ago I desperately wanted to go on a missions trip to another country and had signed up to do so three years in a row, but I always backed out. Why? Because I was afraid. I was afraid to not make enough money. I was afraid I wasn't going to be good enough. I was also afraid of going on a long trip with people I wasn't very close to and low key, kinda scared not to have my mom… (yes im an adult, yes I still need my mom). But that fourth year I was ready to make my commitment. Ready to get over my fear and get a little uncomfortable and say yes. When I did this something magical happen… I went to Costa Rica! I stayed for 9 days, met some amazing people, helped the community, even got on stage and most importantly, I experienced those human experiences we desire so much like, culture appreciation, living in the moment, and experiencing life itself, not just in front of a tv screen. All by stepping out of my comfort zone and taking a risk.
When we tell people we how we want to live in the RV full time, we get pretty weird looks. Most people laugh and smile and some people give us the the ocasional “good luck with that” spill, they don't see it as a safe fundamental way to live or build a life. In fact, most people would say it's a step backwards from a home with a yard and all its furnishings to a mobile home with plywood walls and stick on flooring. It doesn't really shout success. But what is success? Is success a white picket fence? A 9-5 Job? Is success having the latest Iphone and driving the fastest car? Or is Success simply being happy with yourself and living in contentment with what you have?
My time in Costa Rica taught me this. The people that had nothing, from cardboard homes, dirt floors and really bad indoor plumbing were actually the happiest and the kindest. The people there were so much more noticeably happier than the people I knew here in the states. They didn't have that white picket fence but they did live Pura Vida. Which means pure life. Which reflects an attitude to live relaxed or laid back..the way of life..or happy. It's really a lifestyle they live to stay positive no matter what comes their way, always looking at the favor of the outcome. Although, Costa Rica is still a third world country they show success in attitude and living a lifestyle worth living.
I intend to keep Pura Vida in my heart, and choose to live in discomfort temporarily with the attitude of happy because, in the end, my success isn't a white picket fence; it's the memories and the friendships my husband and I will make along the way. And of course, the stamps in our passports. So as we think back to our surround sound system and plasma tvs, we say Pura Vida! Life goes on and we look forward to our next adventure! It’s a good thing we can probably take our whole house with us.
Much love, Ali V
Don’t be afraid to take risks