Saturday Session 09: Travel + Money for Millennials with the Hello HENRY's

Welcome to this month’s Saturday Session! Today, I’m talking to the ladies from Hello HENRY’s, Lauren + Kelda. 

These ladies run their own website and offer financial services, in addition to their other jobs. This past year or so, I have been focusing on my own finances and working toward saving money for retirement as well as a fully funded emergency fund and I’ve basically been figuring out what adults do with their money. I have always felt that while we all have a responsibility to take an active role in our finances, I do wonder why nothing to do with being an adult was really covered in school. 

In my own experience, I have found that not many people around our age group (the millennials) have this stuff figured out either, and it genuinely scares me a little bit to know how poorly many people in this generation handle their money. 

So, I am very excited to talk to Lauren + Kelda today and we’re going to talk through all kinds of money + millennial things as well as how to maximize opportunities like travel credit cards responsibly and getting the most out of your vacation time if you have a more traditional job. 

listen below!

Saturday Session 09: Travel + Money for Millennials with the Hello HENRY's

On Millennials + Money

Q1. What prompted you to specialize in millennials + money and do you think the reputation about millennials is generally correct?

Find this question at: 00:07:20

Q2. What worries you most in regards to your peers + money?

Find this question at: 00:11:18

Q3. What areas should millennials be focusing on the most?

Find this question at: 00:15:40

Travel Credit Cards

Q4. How can we maximize those travel card opportunities + make sure we are using them responsibly?

Find this question at: 00:20:32

Q5. I know you two have some great tips in regards to maximizing travel cards, what are some of your best tips and strategies?

Find this question at: 00:26:45

Saving + Retirement

Q6. Saving money (for trips, a new car, house, etc) when you don’t have a traditional 9-5 job?

Find this question at: 00:31:13

Q7. Retirement strategies for non-traditional jobs?

Find this question at: 00:34:29


And we are back with regular episodes which will now be released every other Friday. We have some great episodes coming up on Thailand and Yosemite. Audriana just got back from Croatia  where she did Yacht Week, so when she gets back, we’ll record an episode all about her experience and her thoughts on Yacht Week there!

We’d LOVE a review from you!

I have also been reaching out to companies to ask if they want to advertise with us. It’s important to us to find companies which are a good fit for our audience and our goal is to provide outstanding episodes to you and therefore, we will make it a priority to limit the ad-time for each episode. There’s nothing worse than listening to an episode and having it almost not be worth it to listen because of all the ads. If you want to read our full policy on ads and working with companies, I will always be as forthcoming and open with this information as I can. 


All of this is to say that as I reach out to companies, it is always helpful to have a collection of wonderful 5-Star reviews from you guys! While we have a solid amount, it helps us tremendously to be able to point to what our listeners have to say about us as we pitch them. Reviewing and subscribing to this podcast is one of the ways you can help and it truly takes about 20 seconds. If you have time and love the content we make for you, we would LOVE if you took the time to leave us a review!

Again, thank you to our guests Lauren + Kelda for coming on today and they have a wealth of resources on their website for all things millennials + money, so be sure to check it out!

 
Hello HENRY's

Hello HENRY’s

Lauren + Kelda

hellohenrys.com

instagram.com/hellohenrys


What is your biggest obstacle when it comes to managing your finances?

This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you choose to purchase, or sign up for something we provided a link for in this post, we may earn a small commission. Please keep in mind that we would rather throw ourselves into the FIRES OF MORDOR than give you a link to something we don’t actually use, care about, or recommend highly. We simply use affiliate programs so we can keep this website ad free and earn a little money to keep this site going.

Travel + Money for Millennials: How to Save for Retirement When You Don't Have A Traditional Job, Money Fundamentals, and Leveraging Travel Credit Cards Responsibly and Effectively

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Episode 20: we’re back + a Thailand Recap!

My goodness, you guys. We accidentally disappeared from our regular weekly episodes, but WE ARE BACK!

Listen, life gets in the way of things and we were recording and releasing podcasts at an unsustainable rate, for us, anyway. We like to put out episodes and content that are helpful and full of tips and tricks and that our listeners find useful or entertaining. For us, recording, editing, writing show notes and publishing an episode a week was really, really difficult.

Which is why we’ll be releasing episodes only twice a month (every other Friday), in addition to our once monthly interview episodes. So…2-3 episodes a month rather than the 5 episodes we were previously doing! This will give us more time to create, record, edit, and release quality episodes which we hope you will continue to enjoy!

Now, all of this is to say…we are officially back and we have some great episodes planned for you guys and we also have some exciting guest episodes lined up in the coming months.

While Audriana and I took this time off, we did some traveling, spent time with family, caught up on allllllll the blog posts we had backlogged, which was a massive pain in the ass, and a bunch of other stuff. In the meantime, I did interview episodes every month still, so if you haven’t listened to those yet — you can find them to your right in the Podcast Archive, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On today’s episode we’re discussing what we’ve been up to these past few months, including our trips to Europe, Harry Potter World in Florida and Yosemite National Park.

We also have a quick recap of our time in Thailand, which is pretty much just an overview of out time there. We will be going into more detail about the specific places we visited as well as our experiences in the coming episodes!

Listen below!

Coming Up:

Every Wednesday, we do something called Whiskey Wednesday on our Instagram. During this time, I take any and all travel questions from you guys and answer them while I drink whiskey — a win-win for everyone, don’t ya think?!

So, don’t forget to join us on Instagram and get all your most irksome questions answered!

the rambling gals instagram

As always, thank you so much for listening and reading our episodes. In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to brands and companies to ask if they would like to advertise with us. We already have some AH-MAZING 5-Star reviews from you all, but more can never hurt for me to be able to point to as I pitch to companies.

We are incredibly grateful for those of you who listen! And if you have an extra 30-60 seconds today, it would help us out immensely if you would leave us a 5-Star review!

 

Saturday Session 08: Becoming an Authority in Your Field + Life and Business in Nevada City, CA with Erin Thiem

Saturday Session 08: Becoming an Authority in Your Field + Life and Business in Nevada City, CA with Erin Thiem

We sat down with Erin Thiem who runs several successful businesses in our hometown of Nevada City, CA. Over the course of nearly a decade, Erin has worked to establish herself as an authority on all things Nevada City. In addition to running her businesses, she shows up consistently for her community at events and over her past 8 years of blogging has published a blog post every single week, working continually to create and curate content which is useful to her readers and the larger Nevada County community. 

Listen to today's episode to learn more about our small, Northern California community, as well as plenty of useful and implementable tips for how to establish yourself as an authority or expert in your field.

Saturday Session 07: Traveling Bitz

Today, we have on Melissa Bitz from Traveling Bitz, and Melissa is just about to embark on a long-term trip, so she’s been preparing for that, and I’m SO excited to have a conversation with her today!

Melissa and I met at last years’ TravelCon which was a conference put on by Nomadic Matt. It was so much fun to meet Melissa there in person after following her for awhile on social media!

She has been doing some major preparations for this trip and we’re covering pretty much everything you’ll need to know about taking an extended holiday.

Melissa Bitz from Traveling Bitz

Melissa: I’ve been blogging for about 4 years now, but I actually started off with a different name. When I went through ACL surgery, I decided I would write about my recovery. A year after that I realized, ‘okay, I need to write about something I’m really into — something I could write about forever, so I chose traveling. That’s when Traveling Bitz was born.

Ever since then, I’ve been working full-time and traveling as much as possible, usually by myself because I don’t have a lot of other friends who travel, so I just have to go do it on my own! And I’ve grown to love it!

In my blog, I write a lot about budget travel tips, solo travel tips, how to maximize your vacation or holiday time when you have a full-time job, and I also really enjoy writing personal excerpts from traveling and personal stories. I think it’s really important to connect with your readers.

Listen to the full episode above for more about how Melissa likes to share ALL aspects of travel - from the mediocre stays in hostels to the stunning sights.

We talked about traveling tong-term a little bit, and Melissa has been sharing the whole process of preparing to take a trip of this scale on her IG. I know this process can be intimidating for many people, and there are SO many things you need to consider and take care of before you leave, which is part of why I wanted to have her on as a guest -- to share some of those preparation tips with you all!


Q: Let’s first talk about your motivation behind wanting to do long-term travel. Just the logistics alone are enough to induce some anxiety in people, so I think, obviously, you really have to want to do this pretty badly. Why this trip, why now and have you always wanted to do something like this?

Melissa: Honestly, I have always wanted to travel the world. Since I was a kid, I always said I wanted to be a famous author, which hasn’t happened yet…and also that I would travel the world.

Part of why that was my dream was because I thought dreams were kinda unattainable, which is a little bit sad! I thought it was impossible to become a famous author…and that no one can visit the world, it’s too big and it’s too expensive to do that.

I also grew up in a poorer family, we didn’t really travel at all, we couldn’t go on vacations. Which was fine, I had a great childhood, but I didn’t realize the amazingness of travel until my first international trip when I was about 27.

Listen for more on how Melissa changed careers and starting making more money, but had less time to do the things she wanted to do and about traveling now so she doesn’t have regrets later in life.

In between figuring out where you want to go, how to get around and all the other things you have probably researched, you also have to figure out the basic things, like….how to use your phone abroad, travel insurance, forwarding your mail, taking care of bills that may come up while you’re away and a hundred other little things.

Q: Of all the prep you have been doing, what has been the most challenging?

Melissa: …all of the logistics I have had to plan out have honestly, been pretty easy. I started early with the planning and I stayed pretty organized, so that part was not that difficult.

I ended up researching a lot of blogs about people who had done long-term travel and shared how they did it. I also joined Facebook groups and asked a lot of questions…Female Travel Bloggers (Facebook Group) is a great resource…[i would] just type in a question about a place, or a logistic question and I would have a bunch of people come back and share their answer or experiences, which was so helpful.

Another resource would be finding backpacking groups for a specific destination. [For example] Backpacking in Thailand, or Backpacking in South America or wherever you plan to go, there’s probably a group for it and they can answer your questions.

So, you asked what the hardest part was. I would say making the decision in the first place was the hardest part.


Listen to the full episode to find out what Melissa was initially not wanting to give up in order to take this trip of a lifetime.

You spoke in some detail on your Instagram Stories about how you were initially feeling pressure that this trip was putting on you… to become a Digital Nomad, or to make this a part of your career in some capacity.

Q: How did you work through this? And how do you feel about it now?

Melissa: I’ve always felt a pressure to do the successful thing — whatever the most successful thing in a particular field was. So whether that was…reaching a certain role in the company, or as a writer, you know, being published. That means that you are successful.

When I was working on my blog, and I really wanted to focus on it and have it take off, I was really feeling like I couldn’t write what I wanted because all the ‘successful people’ were writing destination guides and posting really pretty pictures of themselves like they were models, and that is something I’m not willing to do and it’s not something I really, neccessarily, enjoy doing. So I constantly felt like I wouldn’t be successful at this, because I’m not doing the same thing they are.

But, when I decided to go on this trip, I started to feel, again, like if I do this travel thing, I need to put all of my effort into the blog, and becoming a Digital Nomad and making money on the road. And if I come back six months later and I don’t have money and I need to get my old job back, then that is going to be a failure and I don’t know if I can handle that.

I really had to stop thinking that way and stop comparing myself to what’s ‘successful’ and what I ‘had to do’ in order to be happy.

Listen for more of Melissa’s tips on how she worked to eliminate this pressure.


You’re taking this time to explore South America, Eastern Europe, and SE Asia. Obviously you could spend an entire lifetime exploring this region.

Q: Why these areas, and do you have an idea of where you’ll be going?

Melissa: The main reason I choose those areas is because they are budget locations. I was really excited about South America because I went to Peru a couple of years ago and loved it so much, I thought I would probably like the rest of the continent.

And Eastern Europe is cheaper [than Western Europe]…and I was planning on going to some less tourist-heavy places like Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, or Romania. I don’t know a lot about them, so I would really enjoy exploring all of those places.

And Southeast Asia is probably the cheapest place in the world you can travel. To be honest, for whatever reason, I’ve never had an interest in visiting Asia, but I think this will be a great opportunity for me to learn about it, and I’m sure I will actually love it, I just haven’t looked into it enough.

But I am excited just to try all these different places!

Q: Are you planning everything out, or are you opting to figure things out when you get there?

Melissa: I definitely have a general outline, so I know I’m going to South America and then to Europe and then to Southeast Asia. But, I want to do all the major, you know, deciding all the cities [I want to visit] on the way.

I have a friend who did a big backpacking trip a 7-8 years ago, and we’ve talked a lot his experience. He said that him and his buddy spent about $1000 in re-booking fees for their flights because they kept deciding that they loved the place they were at and they wanted to stay longer. He would always tell me, ‘don’t buy your flights ahead of time’ because you never know when you’re going to fall in love with a place or want to leave a place early, or if you meet some friends who are going to [another city] and say, ‘do you want to join?!’ and…you can’t because you have a flight.

So, I am going to take that advice and give myself the flexibility.

Be sure to listen to the full episode to hear more about Melissa’s travel plans!

We talked a bit about the logistics and preparations you’re doing before you take off. And I know you’ve spent a lot of time researching and finding the right solutions to your circumstances and you’ve come across some really helpful tips.

Q: In regards to phone use, vaccinations, etc, would you mind sharing some of those tips?

Melissa:

Organization:

Use Microsoft OneNote. I have a section for my timeline, packing list, to do list, and copies of any flights or tickets I buy. I then have sub-sections for each country with visa requirements, places to see, and links to best modes of transportation. This way, all my resources for each country are in one place.

Storage:

I let friend’s borrow big items, like my TV and large kitchen appliances. And I found a 5x6 storage unit for 60/month, with first two months at a discount. If you plan on using a storage facility, always ask for a discount if you can pay months in advance because you know you’ll be gone.

Visas:

I took my own photo and I will use makephotopassport.com to always have visa-sized photos for visa-on-arrival.

I may also use ivisa.com to work on obtaining e-visa in advance. This website is a great resource to find out which countries require a visa, but always double check with the embassy website.

Phone:

Switched to Google-Fi, which is $20/month for unlimited talk and text. For data, you’ll pay $10/GB and free after 6GB.

Prices stay exactly the same when you travel abroad and you get to keep your current phone number.

Money:

I opened Charles Schwab high yield investor checking account. You can use your ATM card at any ATM and Charles Schwab reimburses any and all fees.

They will do a hard credit check and it takes couple weeks to get your ATM card.

Vaccinations:

I got my Hep A and TB booster from my doctor and used GoodRX.com coupon for my oral Typhoid vaccination (called Vivotif). The oral vaccination is good for 5ish years, while the shot is good for 3 years. And since I am traveling to some countries which require Yellow Fever, I will get my Yellow Fever vaccine for free in Ecuador or Peru — if I were to get it at home in the US, it costs close to $300!

Medications:

For the two medication I take, I got a 6 month supply with GoodRX.com.

And it is also apparently possible to get refills in many countries by just showing your Prescription bottle.

Mail:

I will be using my parents, but there is also a virtual mail option where they’ll scan your mail and send it to you. If you receive packages, they can forward them to where ever you’ll be in certain amount of days.

Budget:

I read other blogs that broke down daily budget and made sure I had that much money saved based on what I wanted to do and how frugal I planned to be.

Q: How much are you planning to pack and what are some important items you’re bringing?

Melissa:

Osprey far point 55

Medium - large backpack, with detachable day pack. This way you can take off the day pack and store it under your seat and put the main part of the backpack in the overhead storage when flying.

Duct tape

A friend of mine who travels recommended this, because it is a fix-all and you never know when you’re going to need it.

Steripen Ultra

Water purifier which uses UV light to purify water. This way, I don’t have to keep buying bottled water everywhere I go.

Scrubba Wash Bag

Portable clothes washer. Essentially just a small bag with a ribbed inside that you put your clothes into with soap and scrub clean.

Mirrorless camera

Lighter than a DSLR camera

MacBook

To do some writing and photo editing on the road

External hard drive

For photo storage and to make sure all my stuff is backed up, just in case

Handheld luggage scale

As I’ll be traveling on some smaller airlines, I can weigh my own luggage to make sure I am hitting the weight requirements. This way, I can get rid of some stuff so I don’t have to pay for my bag if it’s over that airlines weight requirement.

You are just days away from taking off on this adventure...you’ve prepared, researched, and probably have all, or most, of your affairs in order for while you’re away.

Q: Are you excited for anything in particular, or nervous?

Catch the full episode above to hear about what Melissa is most nervous for and how she is doing just days away from taking off on this adventure!

DO you have any other tips or tricks you’ve used to prepare for long-term travel?

This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you choose to purchase, or sign up for something we provided a link for in this post, we may earn a small commission. Please keep in mind that we would rather throw ourselves into the FIRES of MORDOR than give you a link to something we don’t actually use, care about, or recommend highly. We simply use affiliate programs so we can keep this website ad free and earn a little money to keep this site going.

Saturday Session 06: Time Zone Travelers

Hey there and welcome to another Saturday Session episode! These are our episodes where we have guests on to chat about travel and entrepreneurship. Today, we have on Jaems and Bryan from Time Zone Travelers, and I’m SO excited to have a conversation with them today!

Jaems and I met at last years’ TravelCon which was a conference put on by Nomadic Matt.

It’s essentially a place for people in every aspect of the travel industry to get together and learn from speakers who have made it in their field. It was also an amazing opportunity to meet other travel bloggers and make real life connections with people you follow online!

If you want some more information about TravelCon, we have an episode all about that and you can read the full blog post on it HERE.

listen below!

Time Zone Travelers Episode

I’m going to let Jaems and Bryan jump in here and introduce themselves and what they do and give some background on what Time Zone Travelers is all about!

Jaems + Bryan:

J: We picked that name (Time Zone Travelers) because Bryan works for Delta Airlines and we have been known to go to Paris for a weekend and hop on a flight and hit different time zones, literally within a couple of days travel. So it fits our family very well!

B. Yeah, since we travel standby, we don’t always know if we’re going to get on. We…specialized in family travel, last minute planning and making the most out of the time you do have. Not everyone can take off two or three weeks at a time to see places. We try to see as much as we can in a 2-4 day time frame and share that experience with our followers!

We talked about TravelCon and a little bit about what this new kind of...travel space is like. I think anyone who has delved into this newer industry, whether it’s as a blogger, influencer, vloggers, travel writer, or travel podcasting can understand that as a newer industry, there are a lot of things we are all kind of figuring out together.


Q. We’ve all struggled with difficulties figuring out what we want to do and say, and how to best approach that as Travel Bloggers, etc. What have you struggled with the most?

Jaems + Bryan:

B: For me, when it comes to our blog….you know, I was an engineer in college and did some programming, but I never took HTML or CSS or SEO classes…so it can be very overwhelming. We jumped into it…[like] let’s just kinda go for it and I wish we had done some more research as far as building the website. So the SEO, design and trying to do AD’s, and how Google finds your page can be difficult…I think before people say, ‘let’s make a blog,’ do a little bit of research because there’s techniques out there. It’s definitely worth paying for a class — there’s a bunch of bloggers out there who have classes that are $300 - $600, 10 week class where you can watch at your own pace. But, that’s cheaper than paying someone [to design the website] and then you can learn and you don’t have to rely on someone else. It’s intimidating.

J. My role, is trying to build an audience and trying to build it in the most authentic way possible. And that is so hard to do because it’s a competitive world out there! On Instagram and other social media platforms, trying to build your following with doing the follow/unfollow [strategy] or paying for people, or just throwing money at it, it’s very, very important to me and our family that we build our audience as authentic and real as possible. And by doing that, it’s a much slower pace and it [can be] very discouraging….I’m definitely having to work on patience!


You guys specialize in family travel and your family seems hilarious -- every time you guys are on a trip, I follow along on your stories wondering how I can become an honorary member of the fam! And obviously, you two are supportive of each other and your family is included in your posts, stories, and writing. However, I think a lot of people struggle with this! Because I don’t think being a Travel Blogger or Influencer or Podcaster for crying out loud, is something people take seriously at the moment. And I honestly cringe a little bit when people ask me what I do and why, because I am dreading the looks on their faces and what they are going to say and think when I tell them!

Q. Do you find that outside of your family, people don’t really understand what you’re doing with Timezone Travelers, and why you do it?

Jaems + Bryan:

B: So far…we haven’t seen that just yet! And I think one reason is that our Time Zone Traveler page is separate from our personal page, so we try to keep them separate. When we talk with friends, unless they bring it up, we usually don’t…talk with friends about it. We try to keep the business and personal life separate, but so far, we haven’t had an issue with anybody saying that — but maybe when we get bigger and start having more followers, maybe that will come down the road.

J. I feel like most people we chat with…whether it be family or friends who know we have this account are actually very supportive. I think they realize, we couldn’t have this lifestyle if Bryan didn’t work for the airlines, and they realize we are trying to make the best of it, while we can and while the kids are young enough to be at home and travel with us. So we’ve just really had a lot of support. We haven’t run into…haters! So it’s been rather pleasant actually!

Listen to more in the full episode above!

Q. What do you hope to accomplish with Timezone Travelers?

Jaems + Bryan:

B: Our top three priorities are, we want to share our experience and stories to help inspire to want to take a trip…or do an activity they saw us do. The second [priority] is to make it easier — we’ve gone through and shared on Instagram and our blog if we found a good deal, and [how we] planned, and hopefully that can make it simpler, so they can spend less time worrying about what they’re going to do and they can just follow us along.

J: We’re big about trying to provide helpful hints. Don’t get us wrong, we like pretty pictures, but we feel like, if it doesn’t have a lot of substance behind it, we’re not doing what our intentions are. [For example], we like to say, if you’re going to the Colosseum in Rome, you might want to show up at 8AM so you can avoid the crowds and get those awesome pictures all by yourself in front of the Colosseum — we like to have helpful hints!

B: And also [in regards to] public transportation, the first time we went to Europe, it can be very overwhelming when you walk into the Paris airport. There are people who speak English, but there’s thousands of people running around, and it can be very confusing and overwhelming. And [another goal] is just to make sure people feel safe and that no one is going to take advantage of you. Our third goal [with Time Zone Travelers] is to be self-sustaining. So not neccessarily that we’re trying to make millions from this, but if we can sustain our trips to the point that it’s kind of quid pro quo, where it works to keep our travels going, then that is an added bonus, but the first two [goals] are the main ones.

You all do family trips fairly often as well as trips with just the two of you, and have more experience traveling as a family than the average people, I would say! This is something I don’t have much experience in besides a few memories of camping trips as a kid and some other trips as an adolescent. And I’ve been on a handful of trips with friends and their families and it seems like there is always a bit of friction because not everyone wants to do the same things, or go to certain sightseeing, and it’s the same thing traveling in any sort of group.

Q. I know people who flat out refuse to go on a vacation with their families -- even though they love them and get along just fine -- there is just something about being on a trip with family that doesn’t work out well for some people! How do you all navigate this?

Jaems + Bryan:

J: Definitely! Kelsye is not a big outdoorsie person, not a hiker, so if we did a trip like Southern Utah or went to Zion, that is not on her list. She would rather just stay home. But, what we try to do with each trip is include the kids in the planning process. [For example], if we’re set on Northern Italy, we approach each kid….and ask what their must do things are, what do you want to see, what do you want to eat. And the same thing goes for me and Bryan. We try to include in each trip something that everyone wants to do. That way they are represented — they still have to do what other people want to do, but it’s just the way we’ve approached it, to make everyone feel like they’ve been included in the planning.

B: I think if people go into it knowing there is no perfect trip, as far as everything going according to plan. If you go into it, [thinking] it’s going to be an adventure, if something goes wrong, just roll with it. I think people get too caught up and stressed out if something bad happens, or someone got sick…roll with it..,if your plans change, then just enjoy being around your family and realize that could be a funny story down the road, or a good experience that the kids will remember forever. And…the other thing…is how we were raised and how the kids were raised. Part of being a family is that you don’t always get what you want. Sometimes you just do things the family wants to do, and you’re part of the family, so you go along. With that mentality, and the kids being raised that way…they don’t sweat the stuff they don’t want to do.

Listen to more in the full episode above!

Q. What are the common misconceptions you two hear from people about traveling as a family? Too expensive? Can’t agree on a place/activities?

Jaems + Bryan:

B: I think the top two things are money and time. You know, my job is very flexible and I’m able to move things around…and not every job is that way. I think what it comes down to overall, with time and money, is making it a priority. If you really want to travel, then you can travel. We save up money to travel…we could probably have newer cars, brand new clothes, and go out to eat more often if we wanted to, but we prioritize travel. We save money and make time to make that happen — it has to be deliberate thought process.

J: I think it’s real easy coming from us because our airline [tickets] are covered. I think what Bryan said, when you’re making a budget, you make an effort to put that money toward a travel fund, and that starts out small. You’ve heard the, ‘give up a coffee and day’ or ‘ go out to east less often’ but I know folks who would love to travel, but they like to keep up with fashion and they’re buying new wardrobes every season, or they have to have the newest shoes, or the newest car, and we’re just not like that. We try to put every dime we have, for the most part, towards travel because that’s where we want it to go right now.

Listen for more on making travel more realistic and attainable — and not trying to keep up with the Jones’ when it comes to taking trips!

Let’s talk about the ‘influencer’ culture. There’s research which says the ad budgets from companies, brands, and hotels for working with influencers is going to be a ridiculous amount as companies move away from other forms of advertising in the coming years. And, of course, there are people who navigate this exceptionally well, and those who are simply in it for the $. We are just at the verrrrry beginning of reaching out to brands and hotels and have to have a set of standards and ethics that you’re not selling your soul for money when you work with brands!

Q. What are some of your qualms with this up and coming influencer industry and how will you handle this yourself as you grow and work with hotels and brands?!

Jaems + Bryan:

B: Probably the biggest qualm I have is, are you getting an honest review or honest opinion from that person. Especially if they are getting sponsored — is what they’re saying true or are they just saying it because someone gave them a free night or a free product.

J: For instance, my mom and I stayed in a nice little hotel in Paris and I have two friends already book there. I don’t know what I would do if I said…’hey, you should book at this place,’ knowing good and well that it wasn’t going to be a good experience for them. I just couldn’t do that to myself.

Check out the full episode above to hear us talk about maintaining your integrity and ethics as you work with brands and companies.

 
 

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 19: Ethical + Responsible Animal Tourism

We are heading out to Thailand in about 10 days and we are going to do lots of things...beaches, city, temples, and spending some time with my favorite animal, the elephant! Having this trip coming up got us on the topic of today’s episode of ethical and responsible tourism.

As we have mentioned before, we do our fair share of research before traveling and we try to understand the basics of etiquette, dressing appropriately, tipping, and all that good stuff. So when we knew we would be going to Thailand, it was an obvious choice to go spend some time at an elephant sanctuary. We started doing our research about places to go and found that you can have a variety of experiences with the animals...some offering that you can come feed them, and give them a bath, and just hangout in general. But, there were still some which offer riding the elephant, which I guess we both just figured people weren’t doing anymore?

Anyway, today we’ll be talking about some of those things we’ve seen people still doing on social media, why they are now starting to be understood as unethical, as well as alternatives to these. We’ll also give you some good companies that still allow things like elephant and tiger interactions, but who have taken the steps to make their experience an ethical one.

listen below!

Let’s get some context:

This is definitely something that is on the radar of some travelers, but we have talked to (and seen people on social media) who , I think, just don’t know some of these experiences are unethical. A few years ago, it seemed like there was plenty of photos on social media of people holding tigers, hanging out with lion cubs, and having all kinds of animal interactions.

In the past few years, there has been an increasing awareness that not every place which offers these animal interactions is the most ethical. We’ll get into some specific examples later, next!

As recent as 2016, TripAdvisor stopped selling tickets to attractions offering physical interaction with wild animals.

And there are still tour companies today, right now, that will let you ride elephants and cuddle with tiger cubs. I just saw an itinerary someone is putting together in Thailand that included an elephant experience that they would let them, “feed them, bathe them, play with them, and get on their backs with no saddle.”

So, why are these animal experiences unethical?

Examples of unethical + irresponsible animal tourism:

Keep in mind, not every animal encounter is UN-ethical. The goal of this episode and post is to emphasize the differences between those that are, and those that are not. Additionally, we hope to provide you with some resources you can use as you plan your own trips!

Elephant experiences

Ethical Elephant Encounters

In places like Thailand, you’ll see advertisements everywhere that show a variety of elephant encounters. Some of them having smiling tourists atop elephants, and they are plastered everywhere — inside the tuk tuks, on posters around town, and people will hand out cards to you for these places.

Here’s why riding elephants is not the best thing. Young elephants are taken from their mothers and introduced to kind of terrible “training” which allows humans to ride them. This process is called, “the crush” and those doing it to the elephants essentially torture them to break their wills. Elephants are only able to take a rider after this process and they pretty much just do so because they are scared shitless of the trainers who have abused them to do so.

The second reason this is unethical is because an elephant’s back is not meant to hold the weight of a person, or multiple people. The spot where the saddle is often placed, or where the rider sits, is the weakest point of the elephant’s back. And especially those elephants in these places who are taking tourist after tourist on their back every single day — you can imagine the damage.

The third reason, of course, are the conditions and standards. In places like Thailand where the daily wage is considerably lower than many of those traveling there, these elephants are money-making machines, and they are treated as such. Taking tourists on their backs and made to perform each and every day, as much as they can get out of them.

As with anything that is a business and the money directly affects these people’s liveliness, there are always people doing shitty, unethical things to make a living. In these cases, exploiting animals for tourism.

Now, there are more places that are making the extra effort to be an ethical, elephant sanctuary.

African safari + Big Game Drives

How to go on an Ethical African Safari

This is something we found out fairly recently: poachers are using social media to find out about recent game sightings and their exact locations. By using this tactic, they are able to know exactly where the prey they’re looking for was last seen and can, in turn, go poach these animals.

TIP: If you’re going on a Safari, a Big Game Drive or something similar, please wait to post photos OR just don’t make it obvious where the exact location is. Many game drivers and tour companies will make sure to emphasize this while you’re out there, but knowing ahead of time certainly helps everyone understand the effects such a harmless social media posting can be.

We know how exciting it is to be doing incredible things and want to share it, and it sucks balls that poachers are using these platforms to track down and illegally hunt these animals.

Tiger encounters

How to Avoid Unethical Animal Encounters

This seems to have gotten less popular in the past few years, but I think if you’ve done an amount of international travel, or spend lots of time on social media, you’ll have seen pictures of people at tiger encounters.

In these instances, those visiting are usually snuggling with full-grown tigers, or playing with tiger cubs.

We’ll again use Thailand as an example as there have been (and still are) several instances of unethical tiger encounters. While there are some places which are more ethical and then there are ones that are kinda scary the more you find out about them.

Why are they unethical?

Some of these places engage in something called “speed breeding” which means that right after cubs are born, they’re taken away from the mothers. This way, the mothers are ready to be bred again, right away. Since this is another money making tourist activity, the more tiger cubs they can produce, the more opportunities they have to make money.

And, of course, tourists didn’t want to take pictures with adolescent tigers, the most popular were the youngest cubs. This meant that those brand new tiger cubs were in demand.

The most striking example comes from The Tiger Temple in Thailand. This was THE place to go as a tourist if you wanted to get a picture with a tiger. Upon an investigation of the place, the tigers were found to be sedated, kept in poor conditions after closing time, and physically abused. If that’s not enough, there were also 40 dead tiger cubs found in their freezers, and another 20 cubs in jars of formaldehyde.

Overall, it was a massive mess.

The Tiger Temple is still open today and they still offer elephant rides, and tiger experiences and it is still both a heavily visited AND controversial place.

Sea Turtles in Cayman Islands

Another quick example where animals are being treated not so well and making companies money are the sea turtles in the Cayman Islands. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the Cayman Turtle Centre every year. Some of these turtles are being raised for meat, and are kept in enclosures too shallow for their needs, and with wayyyyy too many in there together.

As of May 2017, there are plenty of Cruise Ship companies still offering excursions to the Cayman Turtle Center including; Princess, Carnival, and Norwegian.  

How to Avoid Unethical Animal Encounters

“Despite claims of cruelty at the Cayman Turtle Centre and concerns about the facility’s selling of the meat of an endangered species, almost all the major cruise lines passing through the Caymans offer shore excursions there, highlighting the opportunity to hold and swim with the animals. Some 70 percent of the Cayman Turtle Centre’s 200,000 yearly visitors are from cruise ships, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism, which oversees the operation.”

You can read the full article here: Nat Geo, Cayman Turtles


So, what can you do about it?

If we had not done a shit-load of research before visiting Thailand, it’s easy to see why tourists think it’s normal and fine to engage with these places. There are advertisements everywhere and it is insanely affordable to have these incredible animal encounters.

So, what can we, as travelers, do about it?

Tour Companies

If you are going on a lengthy, multi-day tour, do your research and find an ethical company. As with any money-making enterprise, there are LOADS of companies that will be happy to take you to shitty places, because they are making money off of you.

Dig a little deeper and do your research on the company. Make sure they support local businesses that are playing by the rules and which are ethical.

To get you started, a few of our favorite tour companies are G Adventures and Intrepid Travel. Definitely check them out if you’re looking for ethical companies to do multi-day tours with!

How to know if a company is ethical or not:

  1. Do your research

    The internet is literally bursting at the seams with information, so take advantage! If you are wanting to have an elephant experience in Thailand, for example, Google that shit and do some reading about various places. Read reviews on all kinds of platforms, if there is some kind of consensus in the reviews about poor treatment, that’s probably the place to avoid.

  2. Contact the company

    Sometimes a good old fashioned email to the company can enlighten you on whether they are ethical or not! Ask the company questions — let them know you are wondering about their ethical practices and see what they can provide you with. If they are truly a sanctuary or are ethical, I would think they’d be happy to give you all the info you need. If you get a shady answer back, maybe that’s not the place you want to visit, or maybe you need to continue researching them if their information wasn’t clear.

  3. Go see for yourself

    Even if you’ve planned to go somewhere and arrive to find it’s not what you were expecting and the conditions don’t seem up to your ethical standards — don’t give them your money. Sometimes even after reading, researching and contacting places, you may really only get the answer you were looking for once you visit.

    Or, alternatively, if you do end up going inside the place and find that you don’t feel it’s ethical…feel free to use that little phone in your pocket and use your own experience to help educate others on why you feel that particular place isn’t ethical. That way, maybe future travelers looking into that place don’t give that place their money and they choose an ethical establishment!

  4. Things to look out for

    There are always indicators that something not quite right is going on! Look out for humanized behaviors, like animals riding bikes, or monkey’s boxing — these animals are obviously made to do ridiculous things strictly for your entertainment and probably aren’t experiences the best conditions. And, as we all know, animals would rather be doing what they normally do as animals rather than performing routines for our entertainment.

    Look out for certain interactions with wild animals, like the ones we mentioned above. Tigers and lions and sea turtles and monkeys and dolphins are supposed to be wild animals. They aren’t meant to be played with or cuddled, or be in 1000 selfies a day. We understand that there are legit sanctuaries that are helping to rehab displaced wild animals — but there is always a clear difference in those places.

Resources:

While it is certainly wonderful to use resources, like this episode, to educate yourself, here are a few of the resources we use when we are researching a destination and want to find ethical places to go.

Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

WASP: World Animal Sanctuary Protection

Do you have any other tips for participating in ethical animal tourism? Share them in the comments below!

Episode 18: London Destination Guide

You know, I am not really a huge fan of cities. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them, or enjoy them, it just means that I prefer the smaller little towns and villages over cities. However, London, I just LOVE. And I don’t really know what it is! I love that there is so much to do, I love all the pubs and restaurants, I love walking along the river, I even like the weather (most of the time).

Audriana and I have both spent loads of time walking around London and doing as much as we could possibly squeeze in, and it feels like I could go back once a year and still not see and do everything I want to in London.

Today’s episode is all about London; things to do, a little bit on how to get around using an Oyster Card, as well as some day trips out of the city if you’re planning to explore a little more of England.  

listen below!

London Destination Guide: Neighborhood Breakdown, Must-Visit Museums, Markets + How To Get Around

Things to do:

There are SO many things to do, it’ll make you want to stay up all night and get up early to try and fit as many activities and sights in as possible! Here are a few of our favorites, and some which are at the top our list for the next visit.

see a show

London, particularly the area known as the West End, is known for its shows and musicals. There are several areas in London where you can find all these productions; head to the areas of Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square and you’ll find an incredible amount of theaters to get your fix in!

You can see all the major productions like, Harry Potter, Wicked, Les Miserables, the Book of Mormon.

Tip: If you’re on a budget there are plenty of smaller theaters in Leicester Square where you can see musicals and plays for less than 20 GBP AND there’s a walk-up window where you can get last minute tickets to the bigger shows. There was a huge line outside of people trying to get Harry Potter tickets and a couple people got lucky and scored some cancellation tickets.

drink wine at the park

Best Parks in London

Is there really anything better than having a picnic in a park? You go to the local grocery store and pick up some good cheese and bread and make yourself a nice little charcuterie board. Add some wine in the mix, and you’ve got yourself a proper picnic. Our favorite place to do this is at the massive Hyde Park, where you can find a corner of grass and have it all to yourself.

Explore the gardens and parks

Kensington Garden

Kensington Palace sits on the West Side of this park and the Gardens extend all the way to the edge of Hyde Park. It’s a wonderful place to go for a walk and admire the perfectly manicured gardens of the Palace. There’s a pond in the middle of the gardens and plenty of people sitting around watching the ducks and geese on a nice, sunny day.

The surrounding neighborhoods are wonderful, too! So, if you’re having a relaxing day, head to Kensington Gardens and then continue on walking to explore the fancy neighborhoods of Notting Hill and Kensington.

St. James’ near Westminster

This park butts right up to Buckingham Palace on the West side, and 10 Downing Street on the East side. It’s smaller than many of the others in the city, but it’s right in the thick of all the activity and sights of London. Even if you don’t intentionally go to St. James’ Park, you’ll probably just kind of end up there at some point because of its proximity to those other big attractions.

Battersea Park

Located right on the River Thames, Battersea Park is gorgeous and full of a ton of activities. If you are not the type of person who just wants to stroll around the green open space, or have a picnic, then head to Battersea Park — but you can do all those things here, too! If you have kids, they will love all the activities available as well.

There are fountains, play grounds, flower gardens, an Asian style Pagoda, a place to rent bikes for adults and children (it’s called London Recumbents), a children’s zoo, a rope’s course through some trees, a lovely lake where you can rent boats, and areas where people get together and play sports!

Hyde Park

Best Parks in London

Hyde Park is one of the most well known parks in the city as it is massive and extends pretty much all the way from Buckingham Palace to Kensington Palace. There are a good amount of events which take place inside Hyde Park, such as concerts, and there is just a ton of things to check out inside the park.

Of course, you can explore the palaces that bookend the park, and within it, there are other things like, a memorial fountain for Princess Diana, there are galleries with modern art, architecture, and design exhibits, you can also swim or rent a little boat in Serpentine Lake in the center of Hyde Park.

And if you’re not up for a walk, or exploring the museums, it’s really just a fun park to grab some cheese, crackers and wine and spend the afternoon having a picnic and enjoying the city!

The Hill Gardens + Pergola in Hampstead Heath

People come from all over the world to get married here! The grounds are gorgeous, there are reflecting pools, and wonderful walkways, with trees and greenery all over the place. It’s kind of a little slice of calmness where you can go to escape the hustle and bustle of the city! If you happen to be in London when the weather is particularly pleasant, there are also a few open air swimming ponds in Hampstead Heath Park where you can swim. They are open year around, if you’re brave enough to get in when it’s cold out, it is free to do so. Swimming in the summer will cost you about £4 - £7, depending on how long you want to stay for.

Lavender Gardens at Vauxhall Park

The Park itself is not really anything spectacular, but they do have lavender gardens there, which are always a hit. Lavender season is typically from May to September, so if you’ll be in London during this time, it would be a great activity!

Chelsea Physic Gardens

This garden is the 2nd oldest botanical garden in England. It was established in the early 1600’s to grow plants for medicinal purposes and to this day, it holds about 5,000 plants which are edible and medicinal! You can join one of their guided walks around the gardens and greenhouses, or you can simply browse through at your leisure.

Opening times:

Winter Season

Monday - Friday 11am - 4pm

Adult Entrance Fee: £6.50

Spring Season

Monday - Friday 11am - 4pm

Adult Entrance Fee: £10

Walk through boroughs, neighborhoods and Mews

The Coolest Neighborhoods in London

I know this doesn’t really sound all that exciting, but some of these neighborhoods, and boroughs are seriously really beautiful. There are gorgeous roof-tops and lovely entrance ways covered in ivy, complete with doors of every color. Here are a few of my favorites that you’ll be pissed if you skipped them!

Chelsea, Kensington + Belgravia

Best Neighborhoods in London

These three neighborhoods are right next to one another and it’s easy to walk through them all. This area is were many of London’s wealthiest live and they are very close to Buckingham and Kensington Palaces. The homes are gorgeous; some of them are in the Classic Georgian architecture, or have the colorful doors and lovely entranceways you’ve probably seen all over Instagram.

There are also some good museums in these areas, like the Victoria & Albert museum and the Natural History Museum.

Shoreditch

If you’re looking for a trendy neighborhood, head to Shoreditch. It’s known for it’s plethora of very cool street art + there’s a younger crowd hanging around. There are also great vintage and thrift shops, trendy cafes and a fun, alternative atmosphere there.

Fitzrovia + Covent Garden

These two neighborhoods are adjacent and are kind of similar. Here you can find all those wonderful classic British Pubs, plenty of Art Galleries, Markets, plenty of theaters, the Royal Opera House, shopping, and lively streets with artists and performers.

The Royal Mews

This is where all kinds of things that have been used by the royalty over the years. So you’ll find things like royal carriages that have been used for momentous occasions, like coronations and weddings.

Markets

There are a plethora of markets in London and there’s something for everyone. We’ll break down our favorites below.

Borough Market

Here you’ll find delicious food from all over the world. Walking through the market, you’ll be pulled in every direction all at once; there are vendors selling cheese wheels, tempting smells of Thai food, and chocolatey desserts everywhere you look.

The Borough Market also has several pubs surrounding it. If you happen to catch a nice, clear day, it’s always a good idea to head to the pubs and sip on your beer in the outside area and watch the hustle and bustle go by.

Opening Times:

Monday - Tuesday, 10AM - 5PM (Limited Market, meaning not every vendor will be there)

Wednesday - Thursday, 10AM - 5PM (Full Market)

Friday - Saturday, 10AM - 6PM (Full Market)

Sundays, Closed

Camden Street

Best Markets in London

You can find anything your little heart desires here. Whether that’s food from all over the world, sweet vintage clothes, or name brand designers, Camden Street Market kinda has it all. The great part of this market is that there are always different vendors, so even if you went every single day during your stay, it would pretty much be a brand new market each of those days.


Opening Times:

Everyday, 10AM - Late

Portobello Rd. Market

Best+Markets+in+London

This is the funkier of the markets, but definitely worth a visit. Unlike the other markets listed here, Portobello Market is basically like a street market where different shops have pop-up stores.

You’ll find vintage clothes, antiques, produce stands, Bric-a-Brac (a lovely English term for trinkets) as well as some hot food stands.

There are different stalls on most days, here is a breakdown of them.

Opening Times:

Monday - Wednesday, 9AM - 6PM (Clothes, Produce, Bric-a-Brac, Hot Food)

Thursday, 9AM - 1PM (Clothes, Produce, Bric-a-Brac, Hot Food)

Friday, 9AM - 7PM (Clothes, Produce, Bric-a-Brac, Hot Food, Antiques)

Saturday, 9AM - 7PM (Clothes, Produce, Bric-a-Brac, Hot Food, Antiques, Arcades)

Sunday, Closed

Old Spitalfields Market

This covered, Victorian market is open 7 days a week and has an eclectic combination of food vendors and shops. There’s skincare vendors, furniture shops, vintage clothing, jewelry, handcrafted shoes, and SO much more!

Opening Times:

Monday - Friday, 10AM - 8PM

Saturday, 10AM - 6PM

Sunday, 10AM - 5PM

See the Main Sights

Listen, you probably already know all these main sights and you will easily find them as you walk around London. I’ll just list them here because a guide for London would remiss without mentioning them!

Cruise down River Thames

Buckingham Palace

Westminster Abbey + Palace, Big Ben

London Eye

Shakespeare’s Globe

Tower Bridge

Millennium Bridge

Museums

London has some incredible museums. If you don’t get busy doing allllll the other stuff, make some time to see a few of them.

Tate Modern

Visit the Best Museums in London

This museum focuses mainly on modern and contemporary art. It’s located right on the River Thames, next to the Millennium Bridge and it’s open late.

Opening Times:

Sunday - Thursday, 10AM -6PM

Friday + Saturday, 10AM -10PM

Entrance Fee:

FREE, for many exhibits. If you want to go see special exhibits, you will have to pay for that, but the majority of the museum is free.

Victoria & Albert

The V & A museum is world class and houses just about everything. There’s medieval art, textiles and fashion, European art, photography, pottery, jewelry and everything else you can think of. It’s the perfect museum to visit if you are, like me, not particularly interested in anything in specific.

Opening Times:

Daily, 10AM - 5:45PM

Friday, 10AM - 10PM

Entrance Fee:

FREE, but just like Tate Modern, if you want to see special exhibitions, you’ll have to pay for those.

Natural History Museum

The Best Museums in London

Right next door to the V & A, in the fancy neighborhood of Kensington, you’ll find the Natural History Museum. If you were Ross from Friends, this would be where you would be every day. It’s full of dinosaurs, and wildlife photography and the interior is gorgeous and it’s worth it to go to just see the inside!

Opening Times:

Daily, 10:00AM - 5:50PM

Entrance Fee:

FREE!

Tower of London

There’s a ton to do at the Tower of London, including seeing the Crown Jewels! As far as exhibits go, this museum always has something new and interesting happening. In addition to viewing the Tower itself, there are also things like; checking out the medieval armor exhibit, checking out the fortress and armory, and taking tours through the various parts of the Palace.

Opening Times:

Summer Hours:

Sunday - Monday 10:00AM - 5:30PM, Tuesday - Saturday 9:00AM - 5:30PM

Winter Hours:

Sunday - Monday 10:00AM - 4:30PM, Tuesday - Saturday 9:00AM - 4:30PM

Entrance Fee:

Adult: £24.70

You can buy your tickets online here (cheaper than in person): Tower of London


How to Get Around:

Getting around London is safe, easy and fairly inexpensive. If the weather is nice, it’s lovely to walk around. As it is a pretty big city, you may want to focus on different areas + neighborhoods each day you’re there; this way you’re not criss-crossing over the city for your entire day. In terms of types of transportation, there is, of course, The Tube which is the underground Metro which takes you to every corner of the city as well as to the outer regions of London. There are buses as well — we took a couple night busses for super cheap to get back to our AirBnB outside the city. As not all lines of The Tube run 24hrs, this is a great option for if you want to stay out late in the city and aren’t staying somewhere where it’s easy to walk back home.

Oyster Card

This was incredibly handy to have and it’s basically just a pre-loaded card with however much money you want to put on it. You swipe your Oyster Card when you go through The Tube Station and swipe again when you are exiting at your stop and you are charged the right amount for that ride.

You can buy your Oyster Card online before you arrive, or you’ll see them at shops around the city, and you can also purchase them at the Tube Stations.

If you’re going to be in London for a significant amount of time, they also have an app where you can top up your card. This way you can do it on the fly and don’t have to stop at a Tube Station and add more money to it for the day.

Taking the Tube

How to Take the London Underground

Ah the beautiful London Underground. It’s the classic way to get around; quick and easy to make your way to every corner of London and it’s fairly inexpensive to use. It’s everyone’s favorite way to get around in the city, so you’ll see everyone on there — people heading to and from work, and tourists out for the day exploring.

Since we last were in London, The Tube has gotten some updated hours so you can stay out extra late on the weekend! Of the 11 total lines, there are now five lines which run 24 hours, on Friday and Saturday ONLY! So if you’re whooping it up on a Tuesday and expect to hop on The Tube at 3AM to get your butt home, you’re going to be pissed. In this instance, you’re gonna want to look into those Night Busses I’m going to talk about next.

Here are the 24 hour lines:

Victoria, Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly

The remaining Tube lines run from 5AM to Midnight, everyday.

If you want to check out maps of where The Tube goes and all the lines, head here: Official Visit London 

Busses + Night Busses

These are the iconic double-decker busses we all know and recognize. The Night Busses run from the time the Tube stops running to the time the Tube opens again in the morning.

How to Take Busses in London

Night Busses are inexpensive (£1.50 for a single fare), if you are ONLY using busses to get around for the day, the maximum fare is only £4.50 as long as you are using the same ticket, or Oyster Card.

Tips: You cannot pay a bus fare with cash; it must be contactless payment (Oyster Card, Apple Pay, or if your bank card has the contactless pay feature).

Children under 11, and those in wheelchairs ride for free.

Night Busses stop ON REQUEST only — so don’t stand there like dummy, like we did, when you see your stop coming up and then miss it because the bus driver doesn’t stop unless you tell them to.

Here are all the maps for busses + rail and everything else: London Transport


Day Trips:

If seeing all these things and more in The Big Smoke wasn’t enough for ya and you have a few more days to explore some more of England, here are our fav side trips. I almost enjoyed some of these more than London!

The Cotswolds

How to Visit The Cotswolds

If you have a few extra days to explore more of England, we cannot recommend The Cotswolds highly enough. They are the quintessential villages in the English countryside that are so damn cute, you probably won’t ever want to leave.

We made a 3 day guide for The Cotswolds, you can check it out here: Cotswolds Guide

Stonehenge

Stonehenge Day Trip From London

This is about 2 hours away from Central London, but if you are interested in visiting this historical site, here is some information to get you started.

You can take the Overground Train from one of the bigger stations like Waterloo or Victoria.

You’ll take the Train to the stop Salisbury, which is still 9 miles from Stonehenge. From there, you’ll need to catch the Stonehenge Tour Bus which leaves hourly from Salisbury; it costs £15.00 for adults. You can purchase tickets on-board, or ahead of time online here: Stonehenge Tour Bus

Don’t forget that you’ll also have to pay an admission fee once you arrive to Stonehenge, which is £17.50 for advanced purchase and £19.50 for walk-up price.

Blenheim Palace

If you’re heading out to The Cotswolds, you can hit Blenheim Palace on the way out there. There are sprawling grounds and the 17th Century Palace to explore, as well as a gardens, a lake, a butterfly house, a two-mile maze of trees, and State Rooms full of Baroque sculptures and art work.

Entrance Fee for Adults: £27.00 for the Palace, Gardens, Park or £16.00 for just the Palace and Gardens.

How to Get There: Take the train from London to any of the following stops: Long Hanborough (closest to the Palace), Oxford Parkway, or Oxford. The one way ticket costs around £20 and takes just over an hour.

Even if you get the train out to Long Hanborough, you’ll still be about a 45 minute walk away from the Palace entrance, so you’ll need to hop on a bus from the Long Hanborough stop. From there you’ll take a bus to the Woodstock stop and then you’ll be there!

For bus information, visit: Stagecoach Bus

For more info about getting a train there, check this out: Great Western Railway

Tip: If you take a train or bus there, show your ticket at the admissions counter for 30% of your entrance fee!

Windsor

If you’re into the Royal Family, you can visit the Queen’s Residence at Windsor Castle. The grounds are stunning and there are tours available.

Entrance Fee for Adults: £22.50

How to Get There: There are trains from many of the major rail stations in London to the nearest stop to Windsor Castle, Windsor & Eton Central. The one way ticket costs around £11 and takes about half an hour.

You can book your rail tickets online beforehand here: National Rail Enquiries


London has an incredible amount of things to do, and if you don’t get around to doing evvverrrything, it’s equally as nice to spend a few afternoon hanging out as some of the perfectly picturesque pubs and strolling along the river.

Have you been to London? And if so, what was your favorite thing that you would add to this destination guide?

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