The Day I Received 50 Books

The Day I Received 50 Books

Happiness of Pursuit BookDay before yesterday, while I was busy mixing mud for the earthbag house we’re building, UPS delivered three small boxes and two huge ones with my name on them.  I couldn’t recall placing any large orders in the recent past…

I washed the mud off my hands, picked up one of the smaller mysterious boxes and opened it.  Inside were five copies of Happiness of Pursuit.  My books had arrived!

A few weeks ago I pre-ordered 10 of these books by world traveler Chris Guillebeau, one of my favorite bloggers, intending to do a big giveaway on my website and very much looking forward to reading the book myself.

I picked up another small box, wondering if it would contain the other five books, but it only had one! More…

The EPoP Cooks Listener Challenge!

EPoP Podcast IconMy most favorite podcast ever is Travis Sherry’s Extra Pack of Peanuts Travel Podcast, and if you’ve been hanging around my website here looking for some good travel tips, then you’d definitely also love Trav’s podcast which always has a ton of them!  CLICK HERE to open up his podcast page and check it out.

So one of Trav’s recent podcast guests was Sasha Martin, from GlobalTableAdventure.com.  A few years ago, Sasha set out to cook a meal from every single country in the world–all 196 of them–and she did it!  On her blog, she recorded her quest and shared all of her recipes.  Trav and Sasha shared a listener challenge on the podcast to get as many people as possible to cook one or both of two possible recipes.   CLICK HERE to open the show notes page for the episode on Extra Pack of Peanuts.  I was glad that both options were vegetarian, and chose to try the Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Arugula and Chevre, which comes from Argentina (I’ll attempt the Guinness Cake from Ireland some other day). More…

September 2014: THE LAST ISSUE!

September 2014 Issue: Overcoming Fear
and Achieving Goals

September 2014 Issue

UPDATE: This issue is now available for sale in PDF format.  CLICK HERE to buy it now!

The September 2014 issue of Travel Beyond Excuse Magazine is live!  It is also the final issue of Travel Beyond Excuse Magazine.  Why?

I’ve been having lots of fun with the magazine, but have found that it takes too much of my time and resources away from other projects I would like to work on for my Travel Beyond Excuse readers!  A magazine, I have discovered, is really a project for a team–not an individual like me.  As Steve Pavlina so eloquently put it in one of this month’s articles, “To free up time and energy for future growth in new directions, you have to drop the merely satisfactory. This gives you a shot at the truly beautiful.” More…

August 2014: Travel for Teachers

August 2014: Travel for Teachers

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UPDATE: This issue is now available for sale in PDF format.  CLICK HERE to buy it now!

This month’s issue was compiled with teachers in mind.  As they return to their classrooms this month, I’d like to plant a little seed of excitement for the coming year.  How about a trip abroad next summer?  Not possible on a teacher’s salary, you say? I hope that the articles in this issue will convince teachers and others that not only is it possible, but as a teacher, travel can revitalize not just you but your classroom lessons as well.

As a fellow teacher, I have a special place in my heart for educators.   I also have a special place in my heart for travel, because I believe that the more we learn about our world and teach others about it, the less we will fear people who are different from us, and as the young minds of today learn to appreciate, understand, and tolerate those who are different from them, the world can be transformed into a more peaceful place.  Is this a trifle naïve?  Perhaps, but it is my biggest dream. More…

A Unique Adventure in Baños, Ecuador (+ 5 Tips for Learning a New Language Before a Trip)

Yellow house in Baños EcuadorThe bright yellow house down in the green jungle valley below beckoned us. We were in Baños, one of the most popular tourist towns in Ecuador, walking up a dirt road off the tourist radar, beyond all the hostels, tour companies, and restaurants and into the surrounding farmlands. Huge greenhouses growing babaco fruit (which resembles a papaya but tastes completely different) and tomates dulces (”sweet tomatoes”—another tropical fruit that resembles a tomato but is unrelated) dotted the hillsides. The yellow house had a huge sign on it which read, “Cafe Bar.” We strained to see a road to the place, perhaps in the trees behind the building… But it looked like it was down there by itself, in the jungle across a river canyon, with only a footpath leading to it. More…

How Checking a Bag Can Ruin Your Trip (plus: my exact packing list PDF)

A couple months back, I published a blog post on how to pack everything into carry-on luggage.  Now, recently returned from our two and a half month trip to Ecuador, I have some real-life examples of how not checking a bag saved our behinds (twice!) from being stranded in an airport overnight, hundreds or thousands of miles from our origin and destination.  Not only that, but by carrying everything with us we were able to jump into the front of many long lines and avoid what could have been hours of hassle.  FREEDOM!

FREEDOM!!!

FREEDOM!!!

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How To: Pack Only Carry-On Luggage

Currently my husband and I are traveling in Ecuador for 2.5 months, and we came down without any checked luggage.  Each of us packed a small duffel bag that easily fits in the overhead compartment on the airplane, and a day pack. 

Day pack and small duffel bag: my only luggage for our 2.5 month Ecuador trip.

Day pack and small duffel bag: my only luggage for our 2.5 month Ecuador trip.

Packing light proved advantageous several times over even on the flight down. More…

How To: Learn the Local Language

Berlitz Romanian

Being able to speak even a few basic phrases of the language of the country you plan to visit will pay off in more ways than one.  This is a strategy I use to not only help me save a little more money, but also to increase my safety and connect with the locals in a more fulfilling way.  By making the effort to speak the language of your destination, in most cases the locals will be far more likely to help you, give you better prices on their goods, and generally like and respect you much more than the next tourist who expects everyone to speak English to them.  Even in situations where the guides, shopkeepers, waiters and others speak English, if you speak to them in their own language it will put a smile on their faces and you’ll get a lot more positive attention from them.

A few nights ago my husband and I landed in Ecuador.  We spent our first day in Guayaquil.  As we walked along the Malecón Salado (boardwalk along the river), we found a man with a long pole reaching high into a mango tree and decided to interact with him.  “¿Qué está haciendo?” I asked him (What are you doing?).  More…

How To: Use the Local Resources

 

Image credit: Shawn Ford

Image credit: Shawn Ford

Travel can become extremely affordable when you learn how to use the local resources.  Depending on where you travel to, it could make your trip even cheaper than just staying home!   In earlier posts I talked about how to overcome the biggest expenses of airfare and lodging by using frequent flyer miles and staying with couchsurfers or in hostels.  I’ll discuss other lodging options in future e-mails, but those are the main ways I save when I travel.  After those big expenses, the next big money pits are food and ground transportation.  However, if you learn to use the resources that the locals use, you may find you spend even less than you do on food and transportation at home, especially in some of the world’s cheaper destinations, such as many countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

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How To: Stay in Hostels

In a previous post, I talked about couchsurfing as a great way to eliminate lodging costs while traveling.  When couchsurfers aren’t available or I want to do my own thing without worrying about my host’s schedule, hostels are my next best resource for reducing my travel costs considerably.  Hostels are wonderful places to connect with other travelers and learn some great tips for things to see and do in the area or places to visit in the future. 

Hostel Kitchen

Many hostels have kitchens which will help you save on food costs. (Image credit: Brian)

Most hostels have kitchen areas, so you can make your own meals and save a lot of money that way, rather than eating out several times per day.  Often hostels offer other amenities as well, such as computer/internet access, free breakfasts, airport shuttle service, cheap tours, and lots of information about the area.  Some have pools, hot tubs, or barbeque grills.  Many offer a common area full of games, books, movies, and other things to do.

More…