Tag Archives: carribean

Pack Your Bags & Go Alone

I got an email today from someone who said he found my blog buy googling ‘going on vacation by myself’ or something like that.  I’m planning on getting places alone, so I can visit friends, which is probably what I meant at the time.  Well, I ended up writing him quite a lengthy email with tips, which are pretty useful.  I thought I’d share with a broader audience.

Here’s the bulk of it:

[Note: this is for people who haven't traveled a lot and are traveling alone.]

1) Try couchsurfing.  Basically, it’s a site where you open your couch for strangers and vice versa.  Their profiles are up, and at any given location, there are official couchsurfing people to guarantee safety, etc.  It’s a great option to not going through the double occupancy route.

2) Try hostels.  They’re much better than hotels because most people staying at a hostel are there alone or on a short budget.  There’s lots of advice traded among tourists about where to go, how to get there, how to not be cheated, etc. It’s also a great place to generally meet people to go out with because it can get lonely.  You meet people, but mostly on a superficial basis.  Hostels allow people to bond.

3) Even if you stay at a hotel, try a bed & breakfast.  More locals, more intimate, etc.  Heard enough about where to stay yet? ;oP

4) Location’s important.  Bora bora is beautiful, but it’s also lots and lots of couple and group vacationers.  If you want somewhere tropical, try Bangkok, Singapore, Malaysia.  There are more singles traveling there.  Also, there’s more to do and also less lonely.  Not sure how comfortable you are about being by yourself, but just to make sure you don’t have a bad vacation experience.  Major cities are always a great idea.  Resorts… not so much.  If you’re worried about safety, stick with Singapore and then take day trips to Thailand and Malaysia.  Singapore’s a lot safer.  And if you need to stay overnight in Bangkok or something, you can always find a cheap hotel, so it’s not wasting money.

5) Always budget 2X at least for travel.  Always budget $1-2K more than you need.  Always carry your money in 3-4 diff places.  Don’t try more, or you’ll forget.  Don’t try less, or you’re screwed.  Don’t depend on credit cards.  Money should go: in your luggage, in your pocket, in your wallet, in a hostel/hotel safe.  Use credit cards where you can b/c the exchange rate is always the best.  Exchange money at large banks vs. small shops.  Skip the airport exchange unless you run out (exchange money at a major bank before you leave).

6) Back to locations: going off bora bora, you want somewhere warm.  Skip latin america unless you’re well traveled or speak spanish or are really good at driving bargains and sweet talking people.  Instead, try the caribbean- again large cities.  I love santo domingo (not the resorts, but the actual city), although try not to get swindled in boca chica b/c there are lots of “tigres” there to releave you of your money.  Also, the exchange rate is favorable.  I’d stay away from resort places and trinidad/tobago and haiti.  Southern Europe is a bit frisky now, but it’s down season and might be a good time to visit.  Croatia is supposed to be AMAZING.

7) Bargaining: always bargain for basically everything, especially street vendors stuff, if you’re anywhere except North America (excluding Mexico) or Europe.  Saying prices are ridiculous and refusing to pay or walking out of the store and have the store owners chase you works better in Asia.  In Asia Minor, North Africa, Latin America, being cordial and building rapport works better.

8) As much as possible, find out prices, culture, transportation before you go.  I.E. Europe, stuff runs on time.  Latin America, hahahahaha…. no, really… ahahahahaha.  Sorry that’s a huge stereotype, but DO budget more time when traveling there.  For prices in Asia, just assume everything costs about 15-20% of what they quote you.  Start bargaining but cutting 50%.  If they refuse to talk, leave.  They’ll either deal or it’s not worth it anyway.

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Reblog: I’ve been tagged, yo!

Mommy, mommy!  Casacaudill tagged me!


Thankfully, this does not mean that someone took spray paint and did me up like a wall.  All I has (yes, has) to do is answer these five loverly questions about myself, and who doesn’t like to do that?

To quote Becky quoting Laura, “for those new to ‘Tagging’ – it’s a form of blog networking, which you answer 5 questions and pass the questions along to 5 other bloggers.” 

1.    Where were you 10 years ago?Ten whole years ago?  That would make it 1998.  I was a freshman in high school, I was a size 6 (and blithefully unaware that my ass would ever get this big), and I was the biggest nerd I knew.  There was a lot I still had to learn about the world, especially being an immigrant and almost completely unaware of pop culture (M…C… Hammer?).  But, thinking back, I felt so fresh and full of potential.  All four high schools I applied to had answered with a resounding YES, including High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.  They half gave me a heart attack, when me, the perfect me, was pulled from class and called into the principal’s office.  Thankfully, it was only to convince me over the phone that HSPVA was the right choice for me, and they wanted talented bass players (upright, not guitar) like me… blah blah blah.

Sometimes I still think back and chuckle that I wanted to be Pierce Brosnan from The Thomas Crown Affair.  The whole image of bright lights, big city completely appealed to me then.  I couldn’t image being anywhere else by New York… I mean is there another option for a business major?  Mergers & acquisitions?  Hell yeah!  Making deals and breaking hearts?  I fit right into that 80s stereotype of a New York yuppy, except that I was 13, almost 14, and in Texas.

Suffice to say, I’m much happier doing marketing and in the Bay Area.  Less stress, more friendly.

2.    Five items on your to-do list today

  • Answer delinquent emails, since I’ve been offline for a week
  • Blog about Houston and the various bathroom decor elements I’ve explored with mom [as well as further research for what still needs to be done]
  • Add a video to le PR firm site
  • Cook Chinese food- dude!!! I just found this supermarket by my house that’s totally Chinese… like Mandarin Chinese (people from the north speak mandarin, while those in the south generally speak cantonese).  I bought a whole week’s work of groceries for $22, and that’s only because I bought lychee and that was hella expensive.  [For those of you who don't live in the Bay Area, the average cost of lunch in the Financial District in SF is about $10, so to spend $22 on 5 dinner meals is super amazing.]
  • … I can’t really say, but it’s gone be off the hinges when it’s done… and of course, ya’ll will be the first to know. :)

3.    Snacks I enjoy

  • Flaming Hot Cheetos
  • Soft baked cookies
  • Really I don’t snack so much… if these were snacks, then I’d enjoy: meat and potatoes, burritos mojados, green curry with chicken and chicken tikka masala w/ extra tikka

4.    What would you do if you were a billionaire?

You can read a more in depth analysis here, where I also included what charities I would fund.  BUT I’ll take a more leisurely approach here and just detail how I’d spend the money:

  • Buy homes/villas/flats/lofts in SF, New York, London, Paris, Prague, Rome, Shanghai, Bali, Mumbai, Buenos Aires, Vancouver and somewhere in the Carribean.  Make them nonprofits that will house students and backpackers in a luxury resort for the price of a hostel.  Obviously, I’d be able to stay there as well with the option to book the entire place for myself.
  • Invest in real estate and commodities trading- as hobbies to make more money.
  • Buy a few fast cars.  I used to think about the Ferrari Enzo, which is too flashy, so I might stick with an Aston Martin Vanquish.  It’s been a while since I explored the world of 8-12 cylinders, so I still have to do some research.
  • Visit Becky in Hawaii
  • Actually, I’m not quite sure what I’d do with all that money.  My brain says GO SHOPPING!!  My heart will say invest some and give it away!

5.    Places I would live

See question 4, bullet 1.

6.    5 Bloggers I’m passing the challenge onto


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