Hey hey friends! I have worked hard to get all your questions answered this month. There were SO many questions. There were a variety of topics, but most of them were in regards to travel. I’ve grouped them together / broken up some of your questions into a few different posts. Hopefully you’ll find all your travel questions answered on budgeting, dietary concerns, how we search and plan for trips, travel with kids, and a lot more in this post.
And if not, don’t fret– I’m putting together a ton of other posts. Some more posts will answer your other questions (tips for inexperienced travelers, and a post about avoiding getting sick while traveling, etc). And then other posts about your other non-travel personal questions– things about food, Marlowe, money/ blogging for an income, and more!
ps. you can see more question and answer posts HERE if you’d like.
Andddd of course, if you have more/other questions, just send me a note and I’ll add it in 🙂 But in the meantime… your questions, my answers:
How do you plan/organize for travel?
Ooooh well, I’m a big nerd when it comes to planning. Some trips we book plane tickets, a place to stay and just GO! And once we arrive, we see where adventure takes us. But sometimes I really like to outline all possible options for the trips. It honestly depends what kind of mood I’m in or where we’re going. When choosing a travel destination, I typically pick a place because I’ve seen enough things of interest that I’d like to do at the place. I either have hotels or activities already bookmarked online, and if not, I start searching for the best places to stay. I like lists of these places and activities to make reservations if needed— or to keep in a notepad for when I’m at the location.
I also like to bookmark delicious looking restaurants by location— and sometimes I even go as far as pinning each restaurant in google maps. This way if we’re wandering around a city or town and we start to get hungry I can just look at my phone and see where the nearest location is 😉 Nerdy, I know. You can see a bit into my nerdy trip planning mind on this post that I had put together for mexico. Sort of a bummer that the trip never happened, but I like to think I can use this map and all the places bookmarked at another time 🙂
What sites do you use for hotels/plane bookings?
I’m pretty sure that most travel sites are about the same— you can sometimes get a few dollars off here or there depending on the site, but the biggest factor of price will be determined by your travel dates (high season vs low season) AND what month/day you make your booking.
One trick to consider for flights: use any travel site you prefer (travelocity, expedia, kayak, whatever) and when you find a flight on an airline, go to that airline company’s website. SOMETIMES (but not always) the prices will be lower via the actual company’s page.
Another trick is to never book on a weekend. I find that flights are much cheaper to book on weekdays.
For hotels, it’s rare for us to use hotel booking sites. We do sometimes— like say we need a quick stop over on a road trip or something, but otherwise I (usually) already have favorite hotels saved and I go directly to their website. We also use airbnb a lot. This is because we often prefer to travel somewhere and have a kitchen to cook. Cooking your own food (even if it’s just one meal a day— lets say breakfast) will save you A LOT of money while traveling. Sometimes we use hotel tonight— or I’ll use hotel tonight to search for cute hotels in a specific area and then book at the actual hotel when I need the reservation for. ps. you can use the code ADUCLOS6 for 25$ off your next stay with hotel tonight– not sponsored, but they offer invite codes when you join.
How do you guys budget for your trips?
Well, how do you budget for anything? For us, travel is a priority. And using what we have/not over consuming is a part of everyday life. I’ve written about saving and not spending money in the past. (I think this might actually be one of my most shared posts. I suggest you check it out if you haven’t yet.) We save our money often. I look at every buy as an investment. If the item isn’t an investment piece, then is it worth it? For me, probably not.
There will always be a need vs. a want. But will the item you’re looking at bring value to your life? Or give you joy for a day and then sit in your closet for years to come? There are times when we need to buy new clothes or shoes— like, lets say when Marlowe sprouts up a few inches or our items tear to the point beyond repair—but outside of that, we don’t spend our money on too many material things.
We don’t buy fancy tv’s, electronics, multiple dinners out a week, the new fashion trendy items at target, whatever. If I have to choose between eating out each day, buying processed foods, or saving my money for travel— then future vacation here I come! With being careful on each purchase we make, we are left with money to save— and all of this extra money (even if it’s just a buck here or there) goes into a saving fund for us.
In the future we’d like to invest our money into creating a business or buying land, but in the meantime we pick money out of the saving fund every once a while —- but almost always exclusively for things like house repairs or medical needs— and our luxury item: travel! Nothing more. I don’t care for credit cards much— I have one and I use it sometimes, but only when I know I have the money in my main account and can pay it off days later. This is never part of the fund, but basically something that I can use to earn points for… you guessed: more travel.
Not buying luxury and unnecessary things = saving money = travel.
ALSO! We’re not luxuriously traveling all the time. Most of the time, were sort of roughing it to be quite honest. We cut expenses where we can to make travel significantly more affordable 🙂 This helps to make travel more inexpensive and more accessible.
What travel experiences have you liked and disliked?
If you read my blog, then you know very well that I HATE being cold. I think that’s one of the biggest difficulties for me when traveling. If I can’t warm up in a place, then I’m cranky. But outside of that, every destination is likely to have pluses and negatives.
We love love love Mexico (food, climate, people) but we have had bad experiences with mosquitos or even roaches. We went on our honeymoon during rainy season— staying in a house in a jungle sounds romantic, but the roaches definitely snuck their way in with all the heavy rains.
We love Guatemala (landscape, food, farms, culture), but one airbnb we stayed in had major cleanliness problems and a general mold feeling. Or another time we booked an airbnb specifically for the kitchen, but got there and found the kitchen was under construction or the kitchen was only open after dinner hours, which was useless to us.
We loved Nepal for the adventure, but struggled with the pollution. We loved Colombia for my family and how inexpensive it was, but couldn’t warm up or find a warm shower to save our lives. We’ve had A LOT of good experiences—- more good than bad for sure, but I could probably list at least one downfall of every place we’ve been.
When traveling, where do you pee? Public restrooms? Are people friendly sharing international bathrooms? -question from girl with small bladder
Wherever we can, haha. I also have a small bladder and so if I’m anywhere with a bathroom, I make sure to use it so I wont have to worry later! Honestly, the one time I ran into the biggest *NEED TO GO NOW* situation wasn’t in the jungles of mexico or in the streets of Nepal, it was in Venice Beach California! Of all places, I know…
A lot of countries have public bathrooms. There is usually a small fee involved. Like, expect to pay 2 quetzals in Guatemala or 5 rupees in Nepal. But with this fee, they usually hand you a tiny wad of toilet paper and let you use the bathroom. Some of these bathrooms have been maintained and clean and some look like the set of a horror film. But when you gotta go, you gotta go! My biggest tip is ALWAYS carry a bit of toilet paper with you! And hand sanitizer, always. But also keep in mind that hand sanitizer doesn’t kill all bathroom bacteria— like c. diff. So still be cautious of your hands even with the sanitizer!
Traveling with kids: Tips?
To be honest, traveling with kids isn’t much different from spending a day around town with kids… or traveling with yourself. If you can get around town and go to restaurants with your kids, you can travel with them. My biggest tip is snacks + sleep. Make sure your kid is getting enough sleep and isn’t starving and you should be fine! We rarely buy packaged food, but will buy granola bars for travel. We brought about 12 for our 1.5 month trip through Europe/Asia. These came in handy for overnight flights and longer days with less meals planned.
Your kid is going to learn how to travel like you are. The younger you start them, the better it’ll be. But even if you’re traveling with an 8-year-old for the very first time, just make the very best of it! Kids are tiny humans they have needs, wants, good days, and bad days just like any of us. There will be slip ups and hard days like with anything else in life, but everything you gain out of the trip will make it worth it— even if it’s just more life lessons and traveling experience.
We travel with Marlowe in the way we live our life at home. No screen time (except for flights), healthy snacks and meals when hungry, and an expectation that she will be a well-behaved human throughout the day. We make sure to do things that we’ll enjoy and she’ll enjoy too. And she knows that sometimes activities will be more geared towards her, but sometimes there will be things that we want to see too—- traveling is for all of us to enjoy.
Honestly, I have so many more tips– but that would need a whole other post. If you want more/ specific tips, let me know!
Do you have tips on keeping kids healthy while traveling?
I’ll do a whole post on not getting sick while traveling, but the two biggest tips are no hands near face/clean hands always AND keeping a strong immune system! We do this through clean water, clean food, clean air, and good amounts of restful sleep!
How you find where to stay?
Unless we do a search for an apartment rental, my best tip if word of mouth! Whether it’s a good friend, a family member, or someone on the internet suggesting a place, word of mouth is great! The same way a lot of you guys book places through me mentioning it on my blog, I do this too! Then you can get an honest review of a place! I bookmark all my favorite places on the internet for later travel dates.
How do you pick which place to visit?
Where have you always wanted to go? Or what types of places stand out to you? For me, I’m always looking at tropical travel destinations of destinations based on food, haha. Some we will have to wait and visit at a later date and time (due to cost/expenses or travel time to get there), but some we found relatively cheap and where able to visit sooner. If something looks really appealing to you, it’s a good start! The first time I flew to Mexico it was because I saw a photo of a mosquito net on a bed over looking the beach. My brain thought: “SOLD! IM THERE” and that was that. I knew I wanted to go there. Something will call to you— don’t be scared, take it!
Do you have tips on shopping while traveling?
I want to say we don’t shop too much when traveling, but that’s a lie. That is probably the time we shop most. I honestly think it’s a great time to shop. You’re likely to find much of the same mainstream, mass-produced, cheap labor made garbage you’ll find in malls all over the world. BUT when you stay away from the mainstream tourist areas, you can find beautiful, hand-made items straight from the artisan! Buying handmade artisan goods supports the economy and a family/multiple families! It’s great!
We always make sure to carry cash and card with us. And don’t be afraid to discuss price. It’s not uncommon for people to ask for more, expecting the price debate. Even in Guatemala they would try to charge us double the price for food because we were obviously expats and not Guatemalan. Is it fair? Not really, but at this point it’s expected. So don’t be afraid to use your negotiating skills.
It was a joke that I would shop ANYWHERE in India. Even in a pottery lesson in the middle of a desert town, I was trading my nose ring with a young teenage girl, haha. Barter, trade, haggle, whatever! I also like to leave room in my luggage when I know I’ll be traveling somewhere that has handicrafts I really love. Orrrrr…. I’m even guilty of packing/buying an extra suitcase for my trip home. Whatever works, right? But I like to look at shopping while traveling as a way to help artisans AND a way to take my travel memories home. For me these items are 100% investment pieces. You gotta put in the money and the extra work to drag it home haha. So you better believe that purchase should be something you really love!
Do you use an ATM when traveling or money exchange? I’ve heard it’s not safe use ATMS.
So, I’ve tried both— using an ATM and cash exchange. I find that cash exchange is almost always huge scam– they take a HUGE percentage! Yes, ATMs can be sketchy too though— it’s tough! My best tip is to find an ATM INSIDE a bank. These are much less likely to be chipped (is that the term?). Do try to bring more than one card if possible. We’ve definitely experienced ATMs that don’t work with certain bank cards. Luckily each time we’ve had an extra card or other people with us, where they can take out money and we can pay them back or vice versa.
I’ve always been wondering what your thoughts on flying are? Since you live very environmental friendly in general, but of course flying is very bad for the environment. Do you compensate this in any way?
Environmental concerns aside, I HATE flying. And in turn, (without completely land locking in one place) we fly as little as possible. As I sit on a plane now, I’ve already turned to Alex twice and said, “after we get back I would like to not fly anywhere for a long, long time” and he agreed it would be nice. We probably fly a bit more than an average american, but not as much as most tourists and business travelers.
As far as environmental concerns, there’s a give a and a take. With the exception of walking, any form of transport uses up the earth resources (or even walking since most people don’t walk barefoot or have recycled shoes on their feet). There are people who have a two-hour commute every single day— and honestly, those people probably spend more gas than we do. We fly a few times a year, and road trip occasionally (But really only three times ever as a family), but outside of this transport, our main mode of transportation is our feet. We rarely drive on a day-to-day basis. And when we do, we use our hybrid car. And I’m fully aware that owning a hybrid car doesn’t make up for any bit of travel we do, but every little thing helps.
We also never buy disposable items. We only buy organic food. And we only buy clothing, linens, etc that are organic, sustainable, and or second-hand /recycled. And the one pair of sneakers I do own, are in fact recycled, haha! They are made from plastic pulled out of the ocean– woot! Every bit helps, right? And of course: we’re all vegan. So considering that eating meat and the fashion industry are two of the biggest polluters on our planet, I think we’re doing okay. We have a relatively small foot print. Our biggest imprint is the handful of planes we go on each year, energy consumption for our AC when we’re in Florida, or energy to use the stove and power our computers/cell phones. Even at home, we basically NEVER turn on the lights unless the sun has fully set. etc etc etc.
Alex and I have legit gotten into real fights because he has accidentally thrown something in the trash instead of recycling it. We (especially me) really give a crap about each move we make on this suffering planet. I have no plans to give up on my car, planes, or my handful of small electronics just yet. So yes, I can very openly say, I’m well aware that I’m not perfect, but every day I do strive for more.
I know you all have a particular diet you follow (I’m a Celiac, so I must have gluten free foods). What are your tips for eating abroad? What is the best way to overcome language barriers to ensure safe eating?
Well, not only do I follow a particular diet, but I also have intolerances’ to a good amount of food since getting sick. No nuts, gluten, or corn for me… on top of being vegan. This I stick to no matter where I travel, because I have to. For my diet (high carb/low-fat), well, all that pretty much goes out the window when I travel. I try to make smart choices— that wont disrupt my body too much (you know, maybe skipping the obviously fried foods), but other than that, I leave my worries for the food I absolutely must avoid.
My biggest tip is learning the words for the foods you need to avoid. If you’re vegan, learn what the word “vegan” is in the country. Ten years ago there was no such word for “vegan” in Spanish now it’s “vegana/vegano”. In French it’s slightly tricky because “vegan” is “végétalien”— but “vegetarian” is just one letter away from vegan at “végétarien”. But we learned how to say no ‘nuts’, ‘dairy’ (lactose), ‘gluten’ and ‘vegan’ in these languages. But even more important than this, especially if you have a severe allergy involved: make a food allergy card. Before your trip write out (in the language of your destination) your allergies. It may feel like a silly idea, but if it’s life and death, it’s important.
What is it like trying to eat vegan or with allergies in a country where you don’t speak the language??
Dietary preferences and being understood about them will vary place to place. A lot of cultures have dietary preferences based on their religion so they can relate more to why you may or may not want to eat a certain in animal. Like in India you can find vegetarian Hindu’s who eat dairy but no animals. Or the Jains, who are vegan. The biggest thing is just being clear in what you can and cannot eat.
But keep in mind that allergies are more of a first world problem. Most developing and third world countries DO NOT have food allergies. So it’s much more difficult for them to understand of how important they are to you. Allergies tend to stem from poor immune systems and insufficient gut bacteria due to over use of antibiotics, chlorine, over sanitizing, and other chemicals in developed countries. Other countries in Asia or Central America don’t tend to have these problems like we do.
Is it enough to learn a few phrases about what you do/don’t eat or would you be better off with a guide?
Guides are super helpful! The downside of guides is if you have one that rubs you wrong then you’re basically stuck with them and they can put a huge damper on your adventure. (I have totally experienced that). But guides can be great to pop into a restaurant, let them know what you can and can’t eat, and let you dine in peace. It really depends on personal preference though! Allergy card or having a guide— what would you personally prefer? Exploring on your own or exploring with a your friends or family and a stranger?
What is your favorite place in the world thus far?
Honestly, I wish this question was tougher, haha. I’d like to say, “Man the world is just so beautiful, I can’t choose!” But the reality is, I can pretty easily say: it’s Mexico. For sure. I can go back again and again and I love it more each time. I think the only struggle I have with Mexico is that ever since getting sick, I have some serious stomach complications with corn. Corn is god in Mexico.And this is tremendously difficult and sad for me! It makes me almost not want to go cause I’ll just salivate over all the corn, but be unable to eat, haha! If I had a choice, I legit would rather give up gluten than corn! But unfortunately, I had to give up both, waugh waugh. I also love Guatemala because it is so very similar. But Mexico comes first. It’s hard to say why though. But maybe because I’ve only visited warmer locations in Mexico and have been chilly in Guatemala, haha. In the states, I really enjoy Miami, LA, and New Orléans.
Alright friends! Those are my tips and answers so far! I hope you found some helpful! And of course, if you have more travel questions, just ask! The biggest tip I can give you when it comes to travel is just to not be scared! The news and media make the world out to seem like a much scarier place than it is! But the reality is we’re all just humans in different places trying to do our best to take care of ourselves and our families! Kindness, love, and adventure is everywhere. And if you want to go out and explore it, you should!
As for me, I think I’m going to start packing my things today! If all goes as planned, we’re hoping to head out of here early next week! We have no idea where yet though! But we’ll probably stop in Nashville and Asheville on our way south? Then head somewhere warm? We don’t know! Travel can be scary, but fun that way, right? I hope you had a good weekend!
Thanks for the post. Question: How are you saving for retirement? IRA??
We dont really have a plan yet. We’re slowly figuring out all those things now. Right now, I just have a big savings account with our saved funds 🙂
You should come to Spain Drea, there are some beatiful warm places you would like 😉 also there are a few not so warm places haha.
I love reading your blog, keep telling us about your adeventures.
we want to! One day for sure!!
Great to read your insight here – definitely agree that the media makes traveling to non-Western places out to be way scarier than it is! I was planning a trip to Greece in the middle of their economic crisis a couple years ago and multiple people asked me if I’m still going through with the trip! I feel like in times like that, your trip matters more than ever!
One experience I’ve had that is different than yours is ATMs vs. cash exchange. I live in Europe so maybe it’s a bit different over here than in North America, but cash exchange is usually cheaper than the bank fees I get when using ATMs (like when I go to Germany, for example, a place where tourists must almost always pay in cash). I find I get the best rates when I exchange in the country with the currency I’m trading away. I think this experience can differ a lot depending on where in the world you are.
good to know! I think you’re right, totally varies place to place. I should have also probably noted that some credit cards and banks don’t have foreign transaction fees 🙂 Definitely something to do research on before traveling! 🙂