Saturday Session 05: Nomadic Matt

Saturday Session 05: Nomadic Matt

If you’ve traveled in the past...10 years or so, and have set out to do some research on your destination, or find new places you want to travel to, you’ve probably come across Nomadic Matt’s travel website and used it as a planning resource. 

In fact, Matt is kinda a pioneer of travel blogging and travel websites being used as a legitimate source for people planning trips all over the world. So, needless to say, I’m pretty excited to have Matt from Nomadic Matt on the podcast! 

Saturday Session 04: Hiking the World with Nathaniel Perlow

Today, we’re here with Nate of Nate Meets World. He does a TON of hiking all over the world and has done some amazing ones in the past year. I’m excited to have Nate here, so I’ll let him hop in here!

Listen Below!

And I’d love to hear about your time in Russia for the World Cup a couple months ago -- that must have been pretty incredible.

Nate: The World Cup was one of my bucket list things… and it was pretty incredible. [I’m] a big soccer fan and a big Arsenal fan, so it was something I just really wanted to do and check it off the bucket list. My plan was to go into Georgia anyway and do some hiking, so it just worked out really well. And Russia was really hospitable, I got a lot of interesting stories.

You’ve done some steady travel to Central America, Ireland, Mexico and some other wonderful destinations. And you mentioned to me you’re taking a little break to save up some money. What are your future plans and what are you hoping to accomplish with Nate Meets World?

Nate: It was kind of inevitable that I would take a break from travel at some point, just because you do get travel burnout. And when you’re going for pretty much 18 months straight…I figured I would have to take a break somewhere…so I decided to go down to Mexico.

In my future plans, I would like to have a hiking podcast. I would also like to start organizing hiking tours in Mexico and Central America as I have traveled there pretty extensively and done quite a bit of hiking there. I’d like to do tours and take people back to my favorite places and try to help out the locals and do as much business with them as I can.

Mexico Door

So, let’s talk travel conferences. We are fresh off of coming back from TravelCon where we listened to people who are carving out this new arena in the travel industry, whether they’re travel writing, selling their travel photography, travel blogging and vlogging, and have found success. And I know you have attended a couple of travel conferences as well which I was interested in going to. What is your experience at the other big travel conferences like TBEX? And what is your primary goal when attending these? Networking? Speakers?

Nate: Networking and speakers is obviously pretty important, because you want to go there to learn…and of course, it’s always great to meet new friends…and that’s probably one of the reasons that I’ll keep coming back. And maybe in a few years, I’ll be a speaker! Obviously there’s a long way to go towards that. But, it’s definitely a great way to learn and you meet so many like-minded people, and I think that’s the greatest thing, too. You feel like you’re a part of a community and it’s different than talking about it with friends and family; you’re talking to people who understand you more…and are maybe more supportive when you say you’re moving to Mexico for awhile!

I know some people are total planners if they are traveling for a couple months at a time, and others just check out flight prices as they go and then decide where to next. Do you have a specific itinerary when you travel for a few months at a time, or do you just hopping around at your whim?

Nate: It depends on the situation, because I know for some like, like travel conferences…or the World Cup, I would have to be somewhere on a certain date. I guess the most important thing is to look out for sales and keep an eye out on the budget airlines for when they’re having sales as that leads to a bit more spontaneity. When I was in the Czech Republic, I was kinda debating whether I should go to the Balkans….but I didn’t know how much time I would have. I ended up finding these cheap flights to Italy…so I decided to go to Italy for a few weeks!

I like hiking, I don’t love it. I’ll go for a hike, but mostly because it means I can go to places which can only be seen by walking my ass way out somewhere. But I do love having that unique experience in a place which hiking provides, that not every single tourist has done. What do you recommend for people who are beginners, but want to do some exploring and hiking?

Nate: My recommendation would be to find local groups and start there. There are a lot of great groups online, whether it’s on Facebook or Meetup.com where you can find other people and groups of people who are going on hikes. And it’s a great way to dip your feet in, and get comfortable just being out in nature…and to meet other like-minded people in your area.

I used to read different hiking forums [online] and I would see stories of people who were going through a rough time; maybe they just lost their best friend or they went through…a divorce. And then they decided to start going outside on their own more, and hiking a little bit more, and it was kind of their therapy...it was a way for them to relax, enjoy life, and enjoying nature.

Hiking

I noticed you’ve spent the last few months making travel videos along your hikes, and I think these are always a great way to give a taste of what a place is like when they are done well. And I think you do a good job with these. Tell me about the hiking videos you’re making and why you’ve made this effort (I know it’s a pain to edit videos!) and what your goal with these are?

Nate: I know some people prefer to read blogs, and some people prefer to watch videos — so I like to give them a taste of both. Going to journalism school and being familiar with the basics of [video editing] definitely helped a little bit. Between when I started and now, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve talked to different YouTubers and how they structure their videos. I think it’s a good way to give people a taste, and the main goal of my blog [and travel videos] is to be informative, so when people visit, it’s kind of a one stop shop.

Just from following along on your social medias, you seem to stay primarily in hostels or some sort of local accommodation. We, of course, like to do pretty much the same. Do you feel like this gives you a sense of engagement with the culture and people whose country you’re in, or is it mainly for budget reason?

Nate: For the most part, yes, it is for budget reasons. But at the same time, in most cases, you are supporting the local community. And in some cases there are lodges or huts out in the middle of nowhere, in really small towns that are there to support the hikers and that’s one of the great parts of hiking.

It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people and interesting people you can swap stories about to day [of hiking].

You recently spent a couple weeks in the country of Georgia and you’re photos from there are insane! I have been wanting to some more research about Georgia and have a hard time finding people to talk to that have been there! So, tell me all about it! The hikes, the food, the people...and what you would recommend?!

Nate: It’s a really beautiful country and as a hiker, it’s a great base, and there are a multitude of options. There’s lots of different day hikes…overnight hikes…you can go to the beach…or you can relax by the lake for the weekend.

What I did notice…in Georgia…is that you see people from all over the world, but especially those Eastern European countries like the Czech Republic, and Russia, and I didn’t see as many Western Europeans or Americans or Canadians as you would in The Dolomites in Italy. And that’s one of the things that makes it a little bit of a hidden gem, I guess But, people are starting to notice it a little bit more, and it does feel a little more authentic.

The hospitable people really helped. Sometimes I would just be walking along the side of the road to the next trailhead and people would stop and ask if I needed a ride. I just felt really welcomed by the people there and met so many friendly people of all ages.

Georgia

I can imagine my mother and family freaking out if I told them I was going to Georgia, simply because of it’s approximation to the Middle East AND because you don’t hear much about it, so it has that “unknown” factor to people. Not that that is a deterrent for me, but I think there so many misconceptions about any country that is basically not in Europe, and especially if it’s close to the Middle East. I know how hard/impossible it is to try to talk someone into visiting a place they have a certain image or idea about. What are your thoughts on this and do you try to encourage people to explore this part of the world?

Nate: I think on of the main things when you travel, no matter where you travel — whether it’s El Salvador, or Ireland — as long as you have common sense you’re going to stay out of trouble pretty much everywhere you go. I was in El Salvador early the years for a couple of weeks and I didn’t have any issues whatsoever…no people trying to scam me. Of course you see stuff in the paper of bad things happening…but in most cases they are happening in areas that no tourist is ever going to be.

I’ve been traveling for a year and a half and the worst thing that ever happened to me was I was bit by a dog in Mexico City!

Do you have one holy grail hike that you HAVE to do, but haven’t yet?

Nate: It would be nice to do Nepal, it would be nice to do the Annapurna Circuit Trail or Everest Base Camp Trek at some point. That would be at the top of my list…and then of course, I’d like to go to Patagonia as well.

Nepal

I love hearing other people’s travel stories. Whether it’s a time where everything was going horribly wrong, or a time when a stranger showed you kindness, a favorite meal somewhere! Anything, really!

Nate: My first 12 hours in Russia, I had just arrived…and I was waiting for my car down to Moscow. My battery was running low and it was a few more hours until my ride was going to come…so I go into the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg. I go to the entrance with my backpack and all my gear…I don’t think they really understand what I was doing there, but all I needed was a place to sit and plug in so they pointed me towards a room around the side.

So, I go in there and I didn’t see any plugs, and I found a staircase that was open, so I went up the stairs and found a place in the library and started plugging in my stuff. About 30 minutes after I sat down, this alarm started going off in the entire library…

Listen to the episode above for the rest of Nate’s travel story in Russia!


Thanks so much for coming on today, it’s always wonderful talking to people who explore the world in a different way than most people do, and differently than we do, also!

Let people know where they can find you online, Nate!

Nate: You can find me anywhere online at Nate Meets World. I’m probably to most active on Instagram, but you can check out my YouTube channel and my blog at NateMeetsWorld.com.

And we’re doing something new on our IG. If you have specific travel questions, like: what to pack for Ireland, and which trail you should do to Machu Picchu! We answer all these for you on our IG every Wednesday. So I get on there Wednesday morning and ask for all your questions, and then I go through and answer ALL of them Wednesday night.

Nate Meets World

Nathaniel Perlow

Nate Meets World

Website:

http://www.natemeetsworld.com

Instagram | YouTube







Episode 17: Over-tourism + Instagram

Instagram is a wild thing. Truly, it has the power to bring thousands upon thousands of people from every corner of the world to one specific location. That is a powerful thing. And as we all know from Spider Man, with great power comes great responsibility. There are places such as Vincunca Mountain, just outside Cusco, in Peru which have gone centuries without a single tourist coming to visit. Today, and yesterday and the day before and tomorrow and every day in the foreseeable future, up to one thousand people will go…every single day, because of Instagram.

There are cities which are struggling to keep up with the sheer amount of visitors and are actively trying to discourage tourists from visiting! In a time where cruise ships drop off thousands of people AT A TIME at ports and thousands flock to the same destinations, places like Venice, Barcelona, Reykjavik, and Machu Picchu in Peru are fighting to preserve themselves.

Maya Bay in Thailand had to be closed off indefinitely in 2018 and 2019 as tourists had destroyed the place; leaving piles of trash everywhere, snorkeling until the reef and coral was practically killed off, and all the natural wildlife had retreated.

As travelers, we have come to these beautiful destinations to SEE and appreciate their beauty and we leave them worse off then we find them.

This is not an episode to discourage people to not travel to these destinations, it is simply a guide on how to be more mindful of how, when and where you travel!

How do we travel consciously and make sure we’re not part of the problem?

Listen Below!

10 Things You Can Do On Your Next Trip to Minimize Over-Tourism

Let’s look at Iceland as a prime example

Iceland has blown up in the past few years, with WOW Airlines offering stop- overs and cheap direct flights to the capital city of Reykjavik. Combine that with Instagram photos inundating us with beautiful, otherworldly photos, and certain parts of Iceland have become over-run with tourists.

My sister went in the late 90’s, and it was nearly void of tourists! My grandmother was born and raised there on her family farm at the tippy top of Iceland in Kopasker, and my sister went to work the farm for the summer. The family drove her around the island and showed her the sights, because at the time, there were not many tours offered, or ways to get around if you were just visiting. And that was not really THAT long ago!

Over-tourism and Instagram

Less than 15- 20 years ago there were hardly any tourists; compare that with the sheer volume of visitors they experience now and you’ll surely start to get a grasp on the issue.

The past Statistics

In February 2009, the total amount of visitors from ALL countries was: 395,573 people

From the United States, those total visitors were: 37,061 people

AND, from 2008 to 2009, tourism from the US actually decreased by 22%

The most recent stats

In June 2016, the total amount of visitors from ALL countries was: 1,792,200 people.

That’s quadrupled since 2010!

Just from the United States alone, that amount of visitors was: 415,287 people. And in just 17 years, the amount of tourists from the US alone has increased by 378,226 people.

To give you an idea of the extremeness of this, consider that the entire population of Iceland currently is, 334,252 residents (Iceland Tourism Board).

Soooo, in just tourists from the United States alone, we outnumber the ENTIRE native population of Iceland. So that’s pretty insane.

What does this mean for these countries?

Well, it means a couple of things.

It means neighborhoods are increasing the amount of souvenir shops, bars, and trendy shops for tourists to visit and spend money at. Couple that with the masses of tour buses, environmental damage, and trendy AirBnB’s in certain cities that have caused the cost of locals housing to rise and it’s easy to see why locals in these places are pissed.

Over-tourism in Barcelona

Some cities, like Barcelona, are actively trying to get the word out that they do not want any more tourists; they have spent advertising money on de-marketing the city!

And while cities certainly use tourism as a source of income and something which creates jobs, tourism on this extreme scale has been detrimental to so many places. When thousands upon thousands of visitors are flocking to a single city at a time, you have to consider that these places were not made to hold that amount of people!

A great way to describe it is if you owned a house with 3 bedrooms. Normally, there are 4 people living there, but during the holidays your entire family decided they wanted to all stay in your 3 bedroom house. And suddenly you have 20 people in a space that normally holds 4!

There’s not enough bathrooms, the electricity and water bills soar through the roof, there’s TONS more garbage, there are 20 different personalities and sets of beliefs co-existing, there’s not enough room in the refrigerator for all the food and groceries, cooking dinner for all those people is a pain in the ass, and there’s not enough cars to get all those people from place to place.

It’s the stress of additional people that the home is simply not equipped for. Extrapolate this example, and you have the stress that thousands of people place on a city that is simply not meant for that amount of visitors.

And imagine that some of those 20 house guests you have are just kinda assholes and don’t pick up after themselves, leave garbage all over the place and have no regard for how they leave your home.

Here’s another example from Thailand

There are certain places plastered ALL over Instagram and made famous from television shows and movies — think Dubrovnik, Croatia and Game of Thrones fans. Maya Bay in Thailand was made popular in the movie, ‘The Beach,’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio. In the movie, Leo was on the search for the most perfect, pristine and secret beach and finally came across Maya Bay.

Over-tourism at Maya Bay

Since the movie, Maya Bay has been consistently over-run by tourists. In fact, the situation there has gotten so bad, that the Thai Government actually had to close off Maya Bay to EVERYONE indefinitely late in 2018 and it is still closed as I write this. Why? Because tourists were fucking trashing the place…literally. There were mountains of garbage there, and so many people snorkeling off of this tiny beach that the coral reef was essentially dead and all the native animals retreated from the hell-hole the humans had caused.

10 changes to make a difference

Well, shit. I bet that’s what you’re thinking, right? Well, shit….what do we actually DO about it? What changes can we, as travelers, make to ensure those beautiful places stay…beautiful? Well, it’s your goddamned lucky day; I already thought about it and here are 10 ways you can make a difference!

1. Travel in the off season

Not only will this save you lots of money as airlines and hotels like to charge up the wazoo for everything during peak season, you’ll also help to alleviate some of the over-tourism issue. If you can take vacation time whenev’s, don’t head to Italy in July when everyone and their fucking mother and children are there.

Over-tourism and Instagram

Italy in September is lovely, it’s also great in the Spring time. There are way fewer tourists, it’s not hot as balls, everything will be less expensive, and the locals will probably be nicer to you because they haven’t been inundated with tourists all day!

2. go to alternate destinations

Be thoughtful about where you want to travel. With an entire world to explore, there are SO, SO many amazing cities and regions that don’t experience this kind of mass tourism that could also use the money and the economic benefit of your tourist money. While we have certainly done the bigger and more touristy places, we are trying to make an effort to visit some towns and cities that are not quite so popular. It makes it difficult when tickets and flights to bigger cities are less expensive and you may have to pay a little more to get to these places.

See! Look how nice Slovenia is; it’s a fantastic alternative!

See! Look how nice Slovenia is; it’s a fantastic alternative!

Here’s an example: Instead of visiting the ever-popular and currently over-run destination of Dubrovnik, Croatia(I’m lookin’ at you, Game of Thrones fans!), look into visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia, just next door. There are amazing parks, the landscape and nature is pretty wonderful and the city of Ljubljana is fuckin’ beautiful and full of picturesque canals.

3. don’t geotag the absolute piss out of special places

There are certain, special locations. There are places in my hometown that locals love to keep to themselves and certainly would cut my head off if I went telling people the exact longitudinal coordinates to. I think it’s totally fine to post pictures of these places and enjoy them, but there’s no need to geotag all of them and let masses of people know exactly where to find (and ruin, might I add) these special places. That’s how we got into this mess in the first place, for crying out loud.

I have seen plenty of people on Instagram who have hundreds of thousands of followers posting photos of secluded areas. In their caption, they’ll say something like, “if you’re interested in visiting this place, send me a DM and I’ll be happy to take you there.” This helps control things from getting out of control and makes the amount of people who seriously want to visit, put in a little more effort and, maybe even, have some more appreciation of these places.


4. wait it out

Both Audriana and I have wanted to visit Iceland for a few years, but kind of agreed we would rather wait until it’s not such a super hot destination. If there’s a trendy place you want to visit, you can always hold off and visit later down the line. And go to a less-trendy, but equally awesome place for your next trip.

Consider a place like Bulgaria that looks…amazing!

Consider a place like Bulgaria that looks…amazing!

Here’s another example: Audriana and I have talked about what we want to do for our next big trip in 2019. And we’ve kicked around a few ideas, such as; Morocco (super popular right now), exploring more of Spain (the Andalucia region), and talked about some maybe less trendy places like Bulgaria or Romania and decided to visit there this autumn.

We would rather wait to see Iceland and Morocco in a few years when the trendiness of it maybe dies down a little bit, hopefully!


5. always, be respectful

This one should go without saying, but I’m going to write it anyway because we see lots of people disrespecting the people and places they are visiting. For example, thousands, if not millions, of people are visiting National Parks every year. Most visitors are flocking to these Parks because of their natural beauty…for their mountains, lakes, river, and picturesque forests. And even though people are going because of their pristine beauty, and to get out in nature, they do stupid shit like leave garbage all over the place. They do backcountry camping and don’t pack their stuff out, or they have camp-fires when they’re not supposed to, during wildfire season and then they start fires.

Instagram's effect on tourism

Something which always helps me, is to remember I am a guest. And just like I wouldn’t go to a friends home and trash it and be disrespectful of their space and home, I apply those same principles to being a guest in others’ home country.

Pick up after yourself, take pride in representing where YOU come from, be polite, and take note of local customs and mores. If you come across a place that has historical, or cultural meaning and there are signs requesting you to stay off the grass, not touch certain things, or to keep your voice down, please do so! You’ll help to preserve these special places and you won’t be the one giving everyone from America a bad reputation as the loud, obnoxious, non-trash-picker-uppers!

6. try to stay in local accommodations, when possible

We love staying in AirBnB’s sometimes. It’s SO nice to have a whole place to yourself, and when you don’t feel like staying in a hostel or hotel, it can be a great budget option, or give you the chance to splurge on an amazing place!

However, businesses like AirBnB have been causing trouble in major cities. With people from all over the world coming and going out of one apartment in a given neighborhood, there can be several issues. As a neighbor, you never know who will be coming and going, nor do you have a say in it.

Another issue is that since having these properties has become so profitable, it’s now a side biz for people. This means there are now large property management companies in charge of loads of AirBnB’s, which means instead of your money going to someone renting out their home while they’re away to make some extra money to cover expenses, many places now are ONLY AirBnB’s, where no one lives there full-time and your money has now gone to someone who manages lots of properties. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but I guess it’s not really what these home rental business started out intending to do.

What you can do:

If we decide to book an AirBnB, we do our best to ensure the person we’re renting from only rents out the one property. We do this by clicking on the profile of the Renter, and here you can see how many other properties they have! This way our money is actually helping out that one person and not someone who owns 100 properties in Barcelona and is making bank off all of them and has never lived in any of them.

Other cities, like San Diego, are experiencing the prices of homes shooting up, because of the huge business of ‘home-sharing.’ And unfortunately, these new ways of booking accommodations are kinda ruining locals home towns and making it so they can’t afford to live there anymore.

Another option would be to book accommodations elsewhere. If you’re in Spain, take advantage of the Pensions, which are budget-friendly hotels with basic amenities. If you’re not looking for a super luxury experience and 5-Star resort, there are great local hotels, hostels, Bed and Breakfasts which are owned by a family, and plenty of other local accommodations you can book, in every country.

I’m certainly not saying any of this to sound like a dick, or seem pretentious, but these are all good options to try to help out on the ‘home-sharing’ issue that many cities are experiencing.

7. be aware

Do things like read this blog post ha! Be aware of the places you’re going and take note if they are experiencing any of these issues with over-tourism. You can do research on the cities you’ll be visiting and a simple Google search will get you some more information!

For example, if you’re going to Thailand and know that Maya Bay is getting destroyed because of over-tourism and you have no other reason to go there except because you saw some amazing photos on Instagram…do some research and find another beach to go to! We just did this and found some insanely beautiful beaches that we pretty much had to ourselves — don’t just go to a place that’s struggling with over-tourism because you see it all over Instagram! That’s part of the problem, ya know?!

8. travel with responsible + ethical companies

Pfffff I KNOW how much research goes into planning a trip. Usually if you’re looking for a tour company, you’re looking for the tour that is exactly what you want, the price you’re looking for, and you’ll be reading a ton of reviews to make sure it’s what ya want. On top of all of that, something to take note of, is that not all companies are really helping you travel responsibly or ethically.

Well…what in tarnation does that mean?

Okay, here’s an example. You’re going to Peru and you want to do some hiking, so you’re looking for an excellent tour company to take you through Peru. You want the company to take care of everything; transportation, accommodations, meals, and your 5 Day Trek to Machu Picchu. Cool. And just like with everything, there are good and bad tour companies.

In this example, you could choose the tour company G Adventures. They use local accommodations, transportation, and work with small, locally owned businesses for each portion of the trip. In addition, they were one of the first big travel companies to bring awareness to animal tourism — that is, any place which uses animals as tourism for profit. They no longer take guests on experiences like elephant riding, or petting and snuggling tigers and instead brings focus on places which are trying to preserve and genuinely care for animal that need it.

You can listen to another of our episode’s about Ethical + Responsible Travel, including animal tourism HERE.

9. eat outside the main area

We do this anyway, because it’ll always cost you a shit-load more to eat in the main squares of touristy places! Not only will it be more expensive, it probably will be far less delicious, because most of those places are just looking to make money off of the thousands of tourists visiting and in turn, they are not really that authentic food and drink of the country you’re visiting.

How to prevent over-tourism

AND! You don’t really have to work that hard to get away from these places. Usually, it’s just a few blocks away from the city center that you’ll need to walk.

Consider this: many of the cafe and bakeries near The Louvre in Paris have thousands of reviews on Google and an average star rating of about 3.0 - 3.5. That’s because alllllllllllll these people go to the main areas and eat and drink around there and neglect some of THE BEST bakeries and cafes in the world, because they’re too lazy to walk a few blocks.

And actually, I wrote about my favorite bakeries in Paris. So if you happen to be going, be sure to check these places out rather than those shite ones by The Louvre. You can read it HERE.

Do yourself a favor, and do the city you’re visiting a favor, and eat and drink outside the main area. You’ll get a more authentic and tastier meal for less money if you just walk your butt a little ways down the road!

10. don’t be dumb

If you’re going to places experiencing over-tourism issues, use ya head! Many of these places have signs posted to help preserve the place and keep it awesome for the next people who want to visit. I’ll give you an example, so you don’t think I’m just being an asshole!

Uluru Rock in Australia is considered a sacred site by the Aboriginals (Anangu people) who live there. In fact the Indigenous Anangu people are considered the original owners of Uluru Rock and the surrounding land.

How to prevent over-tourism

There are signs that encourage people to NOT climb the rock, as it is a sacred place. While the climb up Uluru has just recently been prohibited by law (in Oct. 2019), people were still climbing right up that thing! Hopefully that has changed since this law has been passed!

This is a prime example of people not respecting this historic and meaningful area and doing damage to something that has been around for what is believed to be millions of years. There are also ancient paintings on Uluru which can certainly be destroyed by the 300,000 visitors that flock to Uluru every year.

What if you just really want to go to these places?

To be crystal-clear, we’re not trying to discourage anyone from going to these big tourist destinations; if it’s somewhere you have always wanted to visit and have some sort of intrigue about, by all means GO! But keep in mind this issue of over-tourism, make a conscious effort to respect the city and, if you’ll be exploring in nature, or doing some hiking, for goodness sake, clean up after yourself, or others, and mind the rules which are likely there to keep the place beautiful. We are always shocked by people who visit a place because it’s an exceptionally beautiful piece of nature, and then they have no regard for keeping that place beautiful. It’s the entire reason they came there in the first place!! So, I’ll be the first to say it, if you’re going to go and fuck it up and make it less beautiful, please, just don’t go!

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Saturday Session 03: Lane From Paris Off Script

Today’s guest is Lane Rosenthal from Paris Off Script. Lane runs her own small-group tours several times a year in Paris, with the intent of showing her guests a unique side of the city not everyone has the chance to experience.

I’m SO excited to chat with Lane today about one of my favorite (if not all time favorite!) cities in the world. I have had a bit of an obsession with France in general for quite some time and have had the opportunity to visit Paris and some of the countryside on my two visits there.

Paris is unique in that you think about it loooong after you’ve left. And I feel it’s either a place you can’t stop thinking about, or a place you don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

So, let’s get in here with Lane and have her talk a little bit about why she began Paris Off Script and give an introduction!

Listen Below!

Paris Off Script

I’d love to hear about your first experience in Paris. I don’t think it’s possible to land in the city and not feel...something. And I love to hear people’s gut reaction to Paris. Did you arrive and just immediately know this was a place you HAD to get to know inside and out?

Lane: It was what I call…love at first sight. It was incredible, I will never forget the first time I saw Paris.

It was almost a shock, I didn’t know what hit me, what chord it struck inside me.

It took me a long time in my life to get there, I did not go during college, I was a poor graduate student, and after that I was married and I had a career, I had a family and life marched on. So, it was a big birthday that got me there for the first time.

There are SO many ways to experience the city, and in fact, I think you could go back endless times and have a completely different experience each time. What you are hoping each of your guests can experience on your tours? And are there certain spots, neighborhoods, patisseries, and cafes you take each of your groups to?  

Lane: It’s a matter of perspective. To me, Paris is like an onion with a ton of different layers and it’s a city we can never quite get our arms around. It’s whatever we need it to be; if we are in love, it’s the most romantic city in the world, if we are looking for inspiration, there is creativity everywhere.

And if we need to be alone, it provides solitude without isolation.

I know you do something different on each of your tours, and they seem to be based on what’s going on in the city during that season. How do you make each of these tours special and give a good taste of the city during each season?

Lane: I always arrive well in advance of a trip. I belong to organizations…the library, the museums…but the other thing that makes my trips special is that I have developed relationships with local people.

People get a dose of authenticity, or reality, and it makes it special.

There are, of course, the cookie cutter tours of Paris. There will always be the must-sees in the city like The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. But, why is it important to you to show a different side of Paris?

Lane: I see travel as cultural engagement rather than tourism. Particularly where there are opportunities for that engagement. I have an insatiable curiosity and I think travel is an opportunity to broaden your perspective, and to break stereotypes.

It’s important for me to offer people this service, this opportunity, this experience.

There are lots of trips as travel for tourism, there are fewer for cultural engagement.

You do each of your tours in the off-season, presumably so your guests can experience Paris without the masses of visitors. Do you have an absolutely favorite time of the year in the city, or a favorite event that you feel really embodies Parisian life and history?

Lane: One of the most fascinating things about Paris, is that it was not bombed during World War 2. It is intact, and it’s an old city. It’s over 2,000 years old. The sense of walking in the footsteps of our forebears, and standing on the shoulders of those forebears.

There is a story on every corner.

In April, if you time it just right, you get to see the Japanese cherry blossoms, and the wisteria is achingly beautiful. And actually, it was last February that sticks in my mind. I was there for the month. When it snowed at the beginning of the month, it felt like we were all in our own little snow globe, it was wonderful.

There are certainly elements of every trip that make it unique and special. Whether it’s exploring the local markets, or a specific dish that will change your life, there are always those things during a trip which you’ll remember. What do you think are the essential pieces of a great experience in Paris?

Lane: It’s an open mind.

Go with an open mind, adopt the habits of the country.

And also, remember that you are a guest in someone’s country, just like you’re a guest in someone’s house. The French are actually unfailingly polite. And I think if you remember your manners, and go with an open mind and sense of humor, you’ll have a great time.

I am always on the lookout for the best bakeries in Paris. I know it’s hard to choose just one! Do you have an absolute favorite patisserie, or a few you make a point to stop into?

Lane: Au Petit Versailles du Marais, in the 4th arrondissement. It’s my absolute delight to stop there for a little something…after yoga. They have been designated a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, a very prestigious award, given every 4 years and for life. It’s an indication of an extremely high level of craftsmanship.

It’s such an incredible experience to have the opportunity to speak with someone who genuinely loves a city and has resolved to show other people that specific corner of the world.

Thanks so much for listening to our Saturday Session with Lane from Paris Off Script and we will see ya on the next one!

“I revel in a different rhythm when I’m in Paris”

Lane From Paris Off Script

Lane Rosenthal

Paris Off Script

Website: https://www.parisoffscript.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/parisoffscript/

 

Episode 16: TravelCon Recap + How to Succeed

This year was all about learning as much as I could about this industry. I have worked in a travel agency and after leaving that job and starting The Rambling Gals, it has definitely been a learning curve! There were SO many things to learn, like: how to build and design a website, how to use social media in a more professional capacity, how to write effective blog posts, how to start, record, and edit podcast episodes, social media marketing and a thousand other things we don’t need to get into right now.

When the opportunity to attend the first annual TravelCon came up, I purchased tickets within 10 minutes of receiving the email! I knew this would be an opportunity to learn from some of the best people in this new (to me) industry and network with like-minded people. This was our first foray into the new landscape of travel industry professionals. Below you’ll find our tips for making the most out of attending TravelCon as well as what you can expect from the conference.

Listen Below!

TravelCon 101: What To Expect + How To Use This Travel Conference To Your Advantage

So, what is TravelCon?

How to Succeed at TravelCon

Well, it’s a Travel Conference put on by Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt (you can listen to + read our interview with Matt HERE) for all kinds of people within the travel industry. There were Travel Writers, Bloggers, Vloggers, Photographers, TV Personalities and everything in-between.

Each day would start off with a key-note speaker; someone who has been a standout success or a pioneer in the travel industry. There were famous authors, travel bloggers who helped to make travel blogging a legit business and industry, and people who have their own shows on The Travel Channel.


Where was it held?

This years’ TravelCon took place in Austin, Texas and we arrived a day early and stayed a day after the 3-Day Conference. This allowed us to have a chance to explore Austin as neither Audriana, nor I have been there!

We rented an airbnb and invited others attending the conference to join in! We had such a wonderful group of about 12 ladies who we went exploring with!

We rented an airbnb and invited others attending the conference to join in! We had such a wonderful group of about 12 ladies who we went exploring with!

I am happy we opted to stay for 2 extra days as otherwise we would have seen almost none of Austin. The conference started at 9am, lasted until 5pm and then there were after parties and meet-ups at designated bars around the city, so there wasn’t much time for us to do our own exploring!


Key Note Speakers

There were several key note speakers throughout each day, they were all pretty amazing and I certainly left their sessions feeling a renewed energy to keep pursuing a career in the travel industry. I’ve included some of our favorite speakers here, as well as links to their books if you’re interested in their work!

Ryan Holiday

The Daily Stoic: 365 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

Ego is the Enemy

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

Rolf Potts

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

Pat Flynn

Will it Fly? How to Test YourNext Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money

Helen Russell

A Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country

Matthew Kepnes

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter

What are the sessions like?

There were also plenty of other speakers teaching different topics in classroom-like settings with only about 50 people in the room. Everyone had the opportunity to choose the topics they needed the most help in; there were sessions on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media marketing, how to monetize your blog, growing your YouTube Channel, photography and photo editing, how to do your taxes as an entrepreneur, and everything else you could imagine. In this way, it was excellent for people in every stage of their entrepreneurship. Even if you were just starting out, there were sessions on how to start your blog and one where you could ask all your tech questions. If you’ve been in the game quite some time, there were discussions for more those more advanced and, of course, everyone has some areas they can improve in!

In addition to speakers, there were also break-out sessions for certain niches. If you were a travel blogger focusing on family travel there was a smaller session just for everyone in that niche; it’s a great way to network with your peers and learn from each other. There were writing workshops with professional travel writers where you sent them a sample of your work beforehand, received their feedback and then got to sit down with them in very intimate group of about 15 people and ask whatever questions you wanted.

If you were at the stage in your career that you were looking to work with prominent brands and do some collaborations, there was a Media Marketplace where you could pitch companies and set up meeting to discuss opportunities.

Is it a good place to network?

Had to try out some foodie spots with our new friends!

Had to try out some foodie spots with our new friends!

Absolutely! In fact, we put out a question to the TravelCon Facebook group asking if anyone else would want to rent an airbnb with us and we had about 12 ladies opt in. This meant we were already making connections with other people in the travel industry, and could spend time outside the conference chatting about what we wanted to accomplish and also made friends that we explored the Austin area with!

In addition to other people attending, there were so many opportunities to chat with the speakers and travel professionals participating in the conference. In between lunches in the ballroom, you can sit with the key note speakers, and after parties everyone shows up and talks business and collaborations. There are so many chances to meet and speak with the very people that you’ve been following and reading their work for years!

10 tips to make the most of the conference

Plan your day practically

There are a lot of speakers and sometimes you’ll have a conflict of wanting to see two or more people speaking at the same time. Go over the schedule and make sure you’re seeing and learning about all the TOPICS you need to. If you’re wanting to listen to someone speak, but in doing so missing the only session on SEO that you can make, opt for the one you need, not the one you want.

Sit down at lunch with different people everyday

During lunch and break times, you’ll see a lot of the speakers mingling about and eating with everyone. Go sit with different people during lunches and meet as many different people as you can. It’s nice to bond with several other people and make friends, but make sure you get to know other people, too!

Go to the pre and after parties

This is where you’ll probably meet and make connections with the most people. Everyone’s drinking and eating and having a great time, and you’ll have plenty of mutual things to discuss from the day. You can exchange information on sessions you each missed but wanted to attend and spend some quality time with other people in the industry.

Go to the sessions you NEED to go to, not the ones that sound the most fun

It was hard to miss out on someone that I had been following for years and admired their work, and instead go to the session on Facebook Marketing or How to do Your Taxes as an Entrepreneur. There are exciting people there you will want to hear talk, but may not neccessarily NEED to go hear. Go to the sessions which are going to help you further succeed.

Bring business cards

We didn’t hand out a ton of these, but it was nice to be able to give them out when we wanted to. I think it also helped us look and feel more professional and business-like. Especially if you are at the point in your career where you will be arranging meetings with brands and tourism boards, having some professional looking business cards on hand will help make you stand out. We had ours done with MOO and they look great and were fairly inexpensive.

Be ready and eager to learn

This is self-explanatory and if you’re paying a good chunk of money to both attend, fly out to the conference, and pay for accommodations, you should be there to take it seriously and learn something. For the most part, it seemed like everyone was on board with that, but some people were there to just network with famous travel bloggers and influencers. Go prepared and take as much away from it as you can. By all means have a great time, but also remember you are there representing yourself as a brand to other people in the industry!

Set up appointments with brands + tourism boards

Not everyone had the opportunity to set up meetings with brands and tourism boards; only if you have a pretty solid reputation, following, and influence did you get an appointment accepted. If you are at that point, then by all means reach out to brands (there will be directions on how to do that) and present yourself as a professional business person!

Establish relationships

Throughout the conference you’ll be brushing elbows with people you have been following online for years. AND you will meet other people just like you in the travel industry who are maybe just getting started and still learning and developing. Make sure you put forth the effort to make relationships on both fronts. All of these people are your peers, and you may have the chance to work with any of these people in the future. The ladies we stayed with in the airbnb have become our friends and we have chatted with them about different business strategies, collaborations in the future, and would love to have them on our podcast as guests. We even met up with one of them in Thailand months later for a reunion! Every person is an opportunity to create a meaningful relationship.

Brush up on the speakers’ work so you have something to chat about

This is something I wish I had done more of. While I was well-versed on the people who I had been following for years, I wish I had read the work of other speakers beforehand. It was still amazing to hear them talk about their career, but it would have been nice to read their work before hearing them. This would have also been helpful for conversations with some of the speakers as I would have possibly had more context and speaking points for a conversation.



What did we take away from TravelCon?

It was honestly just really nice to hear from so many people who are making it work in their various fields within the travel community. And especially from the people who basically carved out their own niches and made the way for things like travel blogging and vlogging to be a legitimate, profitable professions.

I think so many of these careers are considered kinda “non-careers” by a lot of people. And as a fairly new industry, I have found it’s always a struggle to try and explain what it is we do. The Internet has opened up an insane amount of avenues for those who are willing to take a jump into it and kind of figure things out for themselves.

You get to mingle with pretty epic people in the industry like Kiersten Rich from The Blonde Abroad!

You get to mingle with pretty epic people in the industry like Kiersten Rich from The Blonde Abroad!

To see people who have taken their writing talents, or photography and videography skills and created their own very successful business is incredible. I mean, I know that sounds cheesy as shit, but really, listening to people who creatively used this new-fangled Internet to create a career and make good money…pffff it’s amazing.

Anyone who has tried to explain to an older relative that the reason they’re at the grocery store in the middle of the day on a Wednesday is because they work for themselves and make their own schedule knows the confused face you get.

Additionally, I’ll be the first person to say that working online for yourself isn’t the hardest job in the world. It’s not a back breaking job like being a Carpenter, or working on an Oil Rig. And it’s not a potentially life-threatening job like being a Corrections Officer in a prison, a Police Officer, a Firefighter, or being in the military — it’s not even in the same realm. And I think that’s where some of the disdain for online entrepreneurs lies; the fact that they have a career they’ve created that sometimes allows them to potentially make WAY more money than any of those other jobs I listed above and do it on their own terms.

We had a little extra time to explore Austin!

We had a little extra time to explore Austin!

Now, with that being said, it stills requires a lot of work and you have to consistently work very hard. You have to wear an insane amount of hats and there are never enough hours in the day to do all the things you need to do. It’s kinda lonely because your family and friends have no idea what it is you actually are doing with your time. In fact, I’m 95% sure my family thinks I sit on the couch and watch The Sopranos each and every day. And that’s something I try to not let bother me. I have always been someone who works hard and wants to do the best I can; so people thinking I’m lazy or unmotivated actually really bothers me.

In actuality, I work at least 8 hours every day…that includes Saturday and Sunday and the holidays. And most days it’s more around 10-12 hours, not including the other 2 jobs I have that allow me to make actual money to pay rent!

But, it’s something I’m willing to plug away at and make a success out of what I want my life to look like. I’ve always said I was never made for an office and I have a minor problem with other people telling me what to do. I have always known that eventually I would have to be the boss.

If you’re on the same road as me, maybe I’ll see ya at TravelCon this year?!

TravelCon 2019:

Will be held in Boston, June 27-29, 2019

Key Note Speakers (so far!):

Mark Manson, Author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Cheryl Strayed, Author of Wild

Tony Wheeler, Founder of Lonely Planet

Kiersten Rich, The Blonde Abroad

Tahir Shah, Author of The Caliph’s House

You can buy tickets here: TravelCon 2019 Tickets + Information

let us know if you’re coming! We’d love to meet you!

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Episode 15: The 19 Annoying People You Meet at the Airport

Episode 15: The 19 Annoying People You Meet at the Airport

Anyone who’s spent any amount of time in an airport knows what we’re talking about. Heck, we’ve had days where we spent 6+ hours waiting at an airport, and been to our fair share of airports and there are the same annoying habits across the damn globe.

Take a look at our most cringe-inducing airport and airplane habits.

Episode 14: Getting Through a Long-haul Flight

Episode 14: Getting Through a Long-haul Flight

In all honesty, anything over 6ish hours I consider a long-haul flight. If the flight is going to be longer than 2 movies’ duration, I will always be uncomfortable, and truthfully, a little pissed. I loathe being crammed in a plane; everything about it is terrible. There’s never enough space, it’s too hot, or too cold, the person next to you is a snorer, the food is not good, your skin feels like it’s being dragged through the desert, and then there’s the germs….all the germs.

Behold, the dreaded long-haul flight. We just took our incredibly long flight to Thailand, and we did our best to prepare for that. It was 2 flights, with a total of about 22 hours in the air. Needless to say, we were not looking forward to a flight that was about 7-8 movies’ length in duration. In fact, we were a littttle bit dreading it.

We’ve taken our fair share of long-haul flights (over 10ish) hours, and we’re here to share our best tips + tricks for getting through it.