Weekly Episode

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!

 

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?

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.

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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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.