Travel Though Thursday: Travel Destinations

How do you decide your next travel destination??

Recent vacation photos from someone seen on your Facebook feed? An ad seen on TV or magazine or billboard? Conversations with friends or colleagues? An overhead conversation while commuting?

I have done all the above. Travel inspiration can come easily but how to do it affordably as well? Continue reading

Travel Tuesday :- Land crossing between Israel and Jordan – Part 1

In some countries, overland border crossing is easy and breezy – most time I don’t even know it happened. Other times, it’s a bit more challenging and takes some preparations.

Sadly the border crossing between Israel and Jordan is of the latter – so I’ve decided to share my experience so others can learn from it. From entry into Israel, Crossing from Israel to Jordan in the South and Crossing from Jordan to Israel in the North.

This is a 2-part post. Today it’s about entering Israel and from Israel to Jordan. In one week, I’ll tell you about from Jordan crossing to Israel and leaving Israel.

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Travel Tuesday :- Quirky Travel Tips from Turkey

My first visit to Turkey was in 2010, at that point I was part of a tour group. The tour focused on the Western side of Turkey. During that time, most of my meals was taken cared of by the tour company. I didn’t get to choose the restaurant or budget. There was menus in Turkish and English. The tour company looked after the logistics of hotels and transportation. I just followed the leader and took lots of photos.

This time in 2014, I spent 2 months (cumulatively) in Turkey. I traveled alone, met fellow travelers along the way, some we simply connected in the hostel others we toured the location together. One travel friend met up with me in 5 different cities within Turkey, it was quite the experience of separation and reunion over the span of 2 weeks.
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Travel Tuesday :- Train Travel in Switzerland

In the past 10 days, I’ve spent countless hours on the various types of SBB train in Switzerland. Traveling from villages to cities to the top of the Swiss Alps. Switzerland has many different train routes.

To date, I’ve only traveled on the train once in Canada. Though I’ve traveled on trains in India, Turkey, Japan, Vietnam, Peru, Tibet, Western Europe and Central Europe. Train travel can be time efficient though a bit more costly. In Switzerland there’s no long distance buses, so unless I rent a car and share it with a few people – it’s not cost effective as a solo traveler.

However, I must say I’m quite impressed by the various types of trains used on the various routes in Switzerland. Some trains are noticeably purpose driven in their design while others purely serves the purpose to commute passengers from point A to point B. Continue reading

Travel Tuesday :- Discover Germany by Bus

My first time in Europe was back in 2002, I pre-purchased a EUrail pass and traveled to multiple countries in Western Europe. That was the thing to do with a backpack. Pick the number of travel days within a limited time span and a number of countries and you are set to explore the continent. Though expensive, it made traveling between countries and within each country scenic, fast and efficient. EUrail also has a historical significance as that was the method in which millions of travelers moved from one location to anther for decades in Europe.

In 2006, I visited 5 different countries (England, Ireland, France, Italy and Germany). The 4 of us flew with Ryanair within the European continent. I still remember the flight between Milan to Paris was only 1 euro plus applicable taxes which cost us less than $25 CAD in total. However, we failed to consider the additional costs required to commute between the city center and the smaller airports that Ryanair used. Though I think it was still much cheaper than traveling on the train and took us less time.

12 years later, in 2014, I’ve discovered bus travel in Europe as a new method to save money and see the landscape! After arriving in Hamburg, Germany my friend spoke of her 15€ bus ride between Hamburg and Berlin. When I moved into a hostel, my dorm mate took a 11-hours bus ride from Gothenburg, Sweden to Hamburg.

Hamburg ZOB - main bus station

Hamburg ZOB – main bus station

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Travel Thought Thursday :- Money Talk for Travel to Greece

If you’re on a budget when traveling in Greece, then here are some quirks I’ve noticed and might save you some money.

Meal Time Savings

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Pay attention to your bill at the end of a meal

Bread – Unlike North America, the bread basket is NOT free!

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Money Talk: How much did my 2013 Epic Journey cost!?!

Picture of foreign currency

Money, Budgets, Financial Talk

Whenever someone talks about going on a trip / vacation / holiday / escape / getaway / journey / pilgrimage – whatever it is labeled as, the BURNING question in the back of everyone’s mind… HOW do they afford it?! How much did it cost!?!

If you’ve been reading along on my blog, I tend to talk about anything but money. It’s a cliche thing for a Canadian or a Chinese descendent or in the general global society to be up front about financial matters.

Well today, I feel like sharing and talking numbers – as one of my intention for this blog is to motivate more people to travel – solo or not. So I do not want people to use $$ as an excuse or reason for them to deter from traveling and exploring this beautiful world of ours. Continue reading

The Art of Haggling – 5 strategies to shop successfully

Hawkers swarm tourists at the exit gate of Borobudur, Indonesia

Hawkers swarm tourists at the exit gate of Borobudur, Indonesia

Haggling and travel goes hand-in-hand in the mind of many travelers around the world. Many travel guides remind travelers to haggle. However, those of us who grew up and/or live in the western world may feel we are unfamiliar with this life skill. Unbeknownst to most, each time we look at a sale advertisement or compare prices between retailers we are, to some degree, haggling – bargaining – negotiating. The only thing missing is the face-to-face interaction.

In many countries, haggling is expected. I see haggling as fun, like a sport. I was born in Hong Kong, a locale known for haggling with hawkers, however as a kid I did not remember my mom or other family members haggle with hawkers when we shopped in the market. Honestly, I do not remember my first personal experience with haggling, however, when the occasion arises – I am READY! Continue reading

Money talks differently…

To those who know me well, I can be quite the procrastinator. Sometimes I have lame, or very lame excuses. Sometimes, it’s really a matter of priority, such that if I’ve procrastinated for 2 weeks, what’s another week when I have something that’s due today?!

Well I know I been home from my 2013 Epic Journey since end of July. I have traveled to the Canadian Rockies in August and to New York City in November. But at the end of the day, I still have not sat down and done the expense summary I started while traveling to 14 different countries.

I mean, sure, the money is spent already but to some degree I want to know what percentage of my money was spent on logistics and what was spent on fun. This way, in the future, when someone ask me how to budget their trips, I can be of assistance. Also, this way I know where my money has gone. Continue reading

Travel on the Cheap

Post by Karen Sze (Originally posted Jun 19 2012, updated)

My preferred payment for travel is to redeem my travel reward points or frequent flyer miles. [Typically frequent flyer miles are accrued through flights on airlines or through their membership programs. While travel reward points are earned through charging purchases on credit cards or debit cards.]

Just about every airline has their own frequent flyer mileage reward system. Then they for alliances with other airlines and most are either partners of Sky Team, One World or Star Alliance – which makes the deals even sweeter! The redemption of miles or points saves me the cost of the flight and I’d only have to pay for the tax portion of the ticket. [There are credit cards reward programs that allow you to pay for the tax and surcharges with your reward points as well!!] If I’m short on miles or points, I can buy some extra to top it up.Check the miles to cost ratio to see if it’s worth it. It’s best to check if a family member have points they don’t want and see if they’d transfer it to you 😉 Continue reading