adventure, lodging, photography, travel, travel tips

What do you want to know about HAWAII?

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I just got back from an amazing nine nights in Hawaii (five on Oahu, and four on the Big Island). It was an epic adventure full of hiking, snorkeling, staying up too late and getting up too early, kayaking, and swimming. I think this trip taught me a lot about travel and was definitely an eye opener for what Hawaii is really like. Even though I prepared and researched significantly, there was much that the blogs, articles, and Instagram posts, I went through did not cover. This seems to be a common theme in my travels: you go somewhere very popular that you would expect to be well covered in the blog world, but you find that many of the things you wish you had known are no covered at all. So let me ask you: what would you like to know about Hawaii? How can I help you plan a trip there?

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Enjoy my adventures?

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lodging, travel tips

Affordable Lodging and World Travel

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How do I afford housing while I am traveling? Especially when I am usually paying rent on at least one place in the US during the same time?

One of the first places I look when friends complain about not being able to afford travel, is at how much they spend on hotels. I rarely spend more than $25/per person per night when traveling. And yet I see people who will literally spend $300/night on a weekend in LA and who can’t seem to understand how I travel so much more than they do. If I spent that much per night traveling, I honestly don’t think I could afford more than 3 weeks a year if that!

I’ll be honest, I don’t need anything super fancy when I travel. I don’t find that the return on investment is usually worth it. Most of the things I want to do don’t involve the place I am lodging in. I’m not one to spend hours relaxing at a resort.

But I also like my privacy. I’ve done the bunk beds. I’ve done the couches. They work for a time. But they aren’t my favorite option. I prefer a bit of relatively clean place to unwind at the end of the night.

Thus most of my suggestions focus on this niche: people who want to travel economically, who want some privacy, who want something clean, but nothing fancy, nothing over the top, no extra champagne perks if you will.

There are basically five ways to stay when traveling: hotels, hostels, Airbnb, Camping, and with friends or family.  If course there are more which I will briefly cover, but these are the primary ones that I use. Let me explain how I use each one to its fullest potential in the following articles which I will post over the next few weeks! Stay tuned 🙂

Happy Travels!

Keep up with my latest adventures and photos 🙂

Follow JELTOWN on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and now on YouTube!

Save money by traveling like I do

$35 off your first Airbnb booking!

Check out the Equipment I use

Nikon D3300
Nikkor 18-140mm Zoom Lens
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II

travel tips

Travel really IS for everyone, and don’t let people tell you otherwise

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Matador Network (whom I frequently read and enjoy) recently posted an article entitled LET’S STOP PRETENDING THAT TRAVEL IS ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE.

Sounds intriguing right? I am well aware of the numerous posts out there saying that anyone can travel! And I’ve much enjoyed learning their tips on how to make it happen.

However, this author apparently feels that this is unfair to many people whom he believes just aren’t privileges enough to travel like him.

I could not disagree more. Sure there are a few situations that may temporarily or very rarely permanently inhibit travel. However, for people in the west (whom his audience is directed), really have very few excuses not to travel.

Having children is one of the most frequent ones I hear. And yet I know penniless young single mom’s who travel the country, child in tow. It takes resourcefulness and hard work, but in no way is a privilege.

The author states that if you didn’t come from money than you probably never thought of traveling. I completely disagree. I came from extreme poverty (by American standards, though I never lacked what I needed). And yet from a very young age I dreamed of travel. And the desire awoke even more fully when I was working and paying my way through college.

Some of the most traveled people out here in the west coast are homeless hobos, hopping from city to city. While I don’t condone their lifestyle, it just shows that money isn’t the privilege that make travel a possibility.

And on top of that, travel is super cheap! If you are willing to put in the work and discipline, you can literally do a trip for about the cost of buying the latest smart phone.

The biggest problem that people have is not living within their means. And this problem affects people of all level of income, privileged and oppressed. Its part of the curse of the so-called American Dream (which in my opinion is more of a night mare).

I am a travel nurse at the age of 30 and finally make a good living by most people standards. I know how much it costs to live where I do and how much most nurses make. There is absolutely no reason why any nurse in my area should not be able to travel fairly often. And yet all the time I get the question “how on earth do you travel so much? how do you afford it? I’m so jealous”.

I will go into more details on how I afford to travel so much in future posts. So stay tuned.

But suffice to say, I went overseas raising my own money, on a humanitarian trip for 10 days at the age of 16. At the age of 23 I did 3 weeks in Costa Rica using my own money while waiting tables (only 25 hours a week) and paying for college. Granted I took out some extra loans which I later paid off, but they were interest free student loans so I figured it was worth it.

I have never had the privilege of money. Certainly I am aware of numerous other privileges and understand how not having these can make it harder to travel. But don’t let that be a crutch.

If you are truly serious about traveling the world begin thinking about ways you can eliminate expenses and increase your income. Don’t get into a serious relationship. Don’t have a kid. Don’t buy a house. Don’t get that new car. Learn how to leverage credit cards to your advantage. Don’t go out to eat. Don’t buy drinks at bars (especially fancy cocktails…what a rip off!). Don’t buy name brand clothing. The list goes on.

When someone writes an article about how not everyone can afford to travel or has the privilege of being able to, I just think about how many people I’ve met who I know make way less than I do and yet drive a brand new $30k car or have expensive designer clothing. There is nothing wrong with that. But don’t tell me how you can’t afford to travel.

And yes there are still some people in our country who are destitute, hungry, trapped in their circumstances. These are people who need a hand up from society to get back on their feet…but this is a travel blog, not a political blog.

Happy Travels!

Keep up with my latest adventures and photos 🙂

Follow JELTOWN on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and now on YouTube!

Save money by traveling like I do

$35 off your first Airbnb booking!

Check out the Equipment I use

Nikon D3300
Nikkor 18-140mm Zoom Lens
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II

travel tips

How do I afford to travel so much?

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Happy Holidays my dear readers and fellow adventurers. This seemed like an appropriate topic to cover on the holiday 🙂

Yes I know this article has been done a million times, by much better bloggers and more experienced travelers than myself. However, I never get tired of reading these articles and getting new ideas.

I also believe that travel and experience is exceptionally unique and should by tailored accordingly. Thus, the crazy safari jungle vacations of one might be a night mare to another and hostels may seem like a dream to some and a bad horror movie to others.

So let me tell you in brief how I afford to travel, some basics on how much I travel, how much it costs, and then in the future delve into the details of each item that I address quickly here. I’ve placed links throughout of things that help me with my travels. None are sponsored, but even if they were, I would only give you stuff I actually use!

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The basics:

I travel cheap. Not sleep under a bridge cheap. Not even always staying in a $10/night hostel. And not always to the cheapest countries (Norway and Iceland twice). But far cheaper than most people I know. I don’t spend money going out to fancy restaurants, flying first class, staying in the Ritz Carlton, etc.

I live a lifestyle and that helps me save money. I drink occasionally but try for inexpensive drinks. I rarely spend more than than $30 on a night dinner. I don’t go to expensive events often. I wear inexpensive clothes and have inexpensive housing.

My job is one of the best jobs I can get in my field without sacrificing flexibility. And I work to maximize my income/time-spent-working ratio.

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Flying:

Skyscanner and Monodo are my favorite tools to find cheap flights. I try to plan ahead and constantly research flights to different places I am interested in so I know what a good deal is when I see one.

I play the credit card game inspired and popularized by The Points Guy. Basically, I open airline credit cards offering good bonuses for minimum spending amounts and use the card till I get the bonus, than I move on to the next one.

When it comes to booking a flight, I optimize my miles. Miles are best used for domestic flights. If the flight can be purchased for under $100, I won’t use miles. Between $100-200 I will consider miles. And if over $200, than I almost never pay for a flight.

I hardly ever check bags, use only a personal item when flying budget, and don’t pay for upgrades. Two years ago I went to Europe and took 7 more flights while there and spent less than $800 on all 8 flights including the one way flight to Europe (I used miles to return home).

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Debt:

I try to avoid dept. Unfortunately I bought a house and have a mortgage which I won’t be doing again. I also bought a car with a car payment and then worked hard to pay it off as quick as possible. Same with my school loans. I never keep credit card debt. My goal is to sell my house and be completely debt free by 2018.

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Working:

Find a job that is conducive to your travel desires. Whether its something flexible, something that pays you to travel, something you can take with you when you travel, or something that just pays enough that you can afford to leave it to travel. What ever you have to do to make it work.

You can afford to travel while waiting tables. I’ve done it. Take a second waiting job if necessary.

And if you have career experience, a bachelors or higher education, and a decent middle class earning ability, you have no excuse not to travel more.

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Family and relationships:

These are both important. Don’t give up on family or friends. However if traveling is your desire, you may have to do it without them. I remember the moment I realized that if forced to choose I’d pick travel over my now ex. Good choice.

It may also mean postponing or opting out of having your own family. I don’t have kids. I don’t want them. Probably ever. Not that you can’t travel with them. But I don’t really see the idea of having them as adding to my happiness, especially as much as unencumbered travel.

Good people who also want to travel and share your values usually aren’t found at home. I have some of the world’s best friends at one of my growing number of world home bases in the fine city of Washington DC. These are lovely, amazing, fun friends. Yet most don’t travel very much. So I’ve learned to make new friends and build new relationships on the fly wherever I am traveling to.

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Living withing your means:

This is the hardest thing for most people I know who want to travel more. They simply can’t get into the habit of living withing their means. I think I had an unfair advantage as my parents were very much against debt, we were very poor, and we learned how to do a lot with very little.

Several steps I take to live within my means include:

1). Don’t eat out, when you do realize the law of diminishing returns: more expensive meals are generally lower return per dollar. In other words, if an $8 burger ranks a 7 and a $20 burger ranks a 9 the $8 burger returns almost double the value on the dollar.

2). Drive an economical older car that you can buy with cash. I recommend a 6-12 year old Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai, or similar (I drive a 2004 Acura TL with 160k miles…works great)

3). Use craigslist (with care) and social media to find cheaper living opportunities. I live in a small but completely adequate in-law suit for well below the market average in my area

4). Remember than memories, people, and experiences are almost always more gratifying in both the short term and the long term than possessions are. So spend accordingly.

5). Look at every bill you have and evaluate how you can save without negatively impacting your life. I have long desired to switch from Verizon’s top tier prices to something cheaper. However, consistently over the past 8 years, I have had better service than friends using other providers in the US to the point that I have yet to be convinced to switch. But if it was the only way I could afford to travel….you bet I would switch right now!

6). You don’t need new clothes that often. You don’t need to go to brunch. You can wait for that new movie to hit Netflix.

Thats it for now. Check back soon for more tips and tricks on how I travel so much. Leave a comment below if you have some of your own ideas!!

Happy Travels!

Keep up with my latest adventures and photos 🙂

Save money by traveling like I do

$40 off your first Airbnb booking!