Lucie Slr

Top 7 Digital Nomad Cities

What means digital nomad? Let’s start with a simple definition. Digital nomads are people who are location independent and use technology to perform their job. In real life, a digital nomad who is able to fulfill her daily needs with travel. I quit my job a year ago before traveling for a year and get to a point that I knew I needed to keep working to be able to travel the world. I lived with several digital nomads in Bali – some working as independent, others working for big companies but all with the same wish: being free. Here is the list of the 7 best cities for living the digital nomad life.

Chiang-Mai in Thailand

Consistently ranked in the top 10 destinations for digital nomads, this city is an awesome place to whet your appetite for the digital nomad lifestyle. Affordable short-term rentals (by the week or the month), and 24/7 cafe culture mean that you’ll never botch a deadline in a time zone across the world.

Chiang-Mai | Thailand | Digital Nomad

Canggu in Bali

Now ranked #1 on the Nomad List, Canggu, south west coast of Bali combines the best to live the digital nomad life: several coworking spaces, beaches and lots of local and international restaurants.

Ubud in Bali

Ubud is not on the beach, but it’s an easy commute to the North or South part of Bali. Located in the rice fields, Ubud is very quiet, work focus and healthy lifestyle. To make sure you get some work done, I highly recommend the coworking spaces Hubud or the Outpost in the city center. Both are offering specific digital nomad services and you can even stay there for a while as they are also renting villas.

Ubud | Bali | Digital Nomad

Ho-Chi-Minh in Vietnam

Vietnam became a popular spot for digital nomads as it guarantees fascinating cultures and vibrant entrepreneurial communities. Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, has long held a special place in the hearts of globetrotting entrepreneurs. Loud, busy, and chaotic, Ho Chi Minh City is filled with motorbikes and the smells of fresh street food.

Porto in Portugal

If you like Lisbon, you’ll probably love even more Porto as it’s a smaller and cheaper version of the capital, a more authentic Portugese experience. This city got all the things you need to be happy there (good wifi, nice people, incredible food) for half the cost of what it is other places in Europe. If you like meat, cheese, and wine—this is the place for you.

Porto | Portugal | Digital Nomad

Berlin in Germany

If you love to combines hard work, amazing nightlife and cultural vibes, Berlin should be on top of your digital nomad bucket list. Germany’s capital city is near-impossible to put into a box: it is gritty but polished, historic but evolutionary, creative but business-oriented. It is exactly the kind of place that influencers, freelancers, and other on-the-go entrepreneurs find absolutely thrilling. Berlin is also the second largest European city in Europe which welcome the greater number of entrepreneurs – meaning, you’ll always meet people you can connect with.

Tallin in Estonia

It might be difficult at first to think of Tallin as an attractive destination for digital nomads but Estonia is actually one of the only country that is inviting them to become ‘e-Residents’ so they can use the country’s advanced digital infrastructure to easily run their businesses and finances from anywhere in the world. You might not be aware of it but Estonia’s digital infrastructure is considered the most advanced in the world and can be used to easily and securely run a business online with minimal bureaucracy. And Tallin has the charm of any European cities with small streets, great architecture and amazing food.

Tallin | Estonia | Digital Nomad

What is your favorite city to live the digital nomad life?

 

 

Meet Alejandra, Ecuadorian Female Traveler

Introduce yourself: what do you do and where are you from?

I’m a 25-year-old Ecuadorian graphic designer currently based in Hamburg, Germany. I do infographics for websites and newspaper, so pretty dry stuff to earn a living. In my free time, I love to travel and experience new things, so I try to either go on a trip or do something new and challenging every month.
 
I graduated from Art School in 2016 and following that, started a job in Hamburg. A steady pay-check allowed me to visit over 10 European countries since then. When I’m not traveling, I challenge my body or my mind by joining a high-intensity interval training or visiting a museum, an art class, or going on a sketch walk.
 
I love to travel, I love discovering new places and people. I love learning about others and their past. I love sitting around somewhere and drawing what I see. If you want to laugh, check my visual rants on my Instagram
 

When did you start traveling?

I started traveling at a very young age. My mom is from Honduras and my dad is from Ecuador so they would make an effort and save money every year to go visit my mom’s family at least every couple of years. I must have been around 2 when I took my first international flight. 
 
Between the age of 8 and 15, I attended a German school. As they offered a student exchange program, when I was 13, I took my first transatlantic flight to live in Germany with a host family for 7 weeks. When I turned 15, we moved to Mexico because of my dad’s job and as I turned 18, we all moved to Germany.
 
That same year, together with my cousin, I took my very first parent-free trip to Italy and France. At 19, I moved to Hamburg for school. Yet, after failing horribly, I moved to Lübeck with my sister and worked there as a waitress whilst studying Graphic Design. I started taking solo or ‘solo-ish’ trips for my birthdays.
 
2017 was for me the year of travel and it all started with spending the last few days of 2016 in Paris. Right after that, I took my 80-year-old grandmother to Portugal and France, went to the Czech Republic together with some friends, and later on escaped the G20 craziness by hopping over to Poland. In the following months, I went to Belgium to work on a children’s book with a friend, traveled to Austria, Slovakia, Spain and finally ended in the Netherland to celebrate Christmas and NYE.

What was your favorite travel experience?

There are way too many. From seeing Hunchback whales in Ecuador to searching through the city of Valencia looking for (and actually finding) a friend’s bag with her passport and camera while fighting a killer hangover. 
 
An experience that I hold close to my heart was in Manchester. I went there for my 25th birthday and after celebrating with bachelorette parties at a Drag Club called the Birdcage, I ended up stuck in the main station for two hours waiting for a train to take me to the airport. The station was packed with drunk people and I was a bit nervous and out of money so I sat next to a very very tanned older woman who turned out to be a 60-year-old motorcycle junky that just spent a month in Isle of Man driving around and attending various festivals. We talked for hours and hours about everything and anything until we went our separate ways at the Airport. I had such a great time exchanging stories and learning so many things from a woman that had almost nothing in common with me. 
 

Which place(s) do you want to go to next and why?

My next trip at the end of the month is taking me to The Netherlands to attend a SofarSounds Event. After that I want to go back to England – I have been there twice but for some reason never to London. Also on my list are Luxemburg and Switzerland since they are the only two countries with direct borders to Germany that I haven’t yet visited. I would also like to go to Ireland for my 26th birthday.
 

Who do you prefer traveling with?

I love traveling with friends and family, but I love traveling solo just as much. Those are two completely different experiences. When you are traveling with friends and/or family, you strengthen relationships and create memories that you will treasure forever. At the same time, you also have to adapt to what others want and you can’t really do your own thing. In the end, it can also get a little exhausting to spend every single minute of your day with someone. 
 
I love traveling solo because I can decide what to do and when I do it. I met a lot of really cool people when I’m on my own, something that wouldn’t happen when traveling in a group. Of course, there are moments when it can get a little lonely but then, I just take out my sketchbook and start drawing the first thing I see. That’s my way to fight that feeling of loneliness with my passion for art. I believe that when you travel on your own, you are more present in the places you visit and learn the most about them and yourself.
 
 

What is your main concern when traveling solo?

Finding a safe place to sleep. I’m not naive, I know that a woman traveling alone is a target for some people but I keep my wits about me and follow my gut. My biggest worry is finding a safe place when I’m at my most vulnerable: when I’m sleeping. I always try to find somewhere central so getting there and leaving is as easy as possible – and in case things go south, I have other options nearby.
 

What is your worst travel experience? Or any country you would not recommend for solo women travelers?

My worst traveling experience was in Austria in November 2017. I had just arrived in Salzburg with one of my best friends, it was late so we went straight to the hostel I booked for us. It was a chain, pretty okay place, a bit creepy because of the super long halls but good enough. We booked two beds and ended up in a room for 6.  We were tired from walking hungover through Vienna all day so we had a beer and went to bed at around 12.
 
At 2 am, the hostel nightmare started. Four people came barging in, left their stuff and walked out of the room. Three came back at around 5 am, all very drunk and very loud. The guys kept wrestling, the girl kept screaming and playing music wanting to keep the party going. One guy went to sleep, another tried as well but the girl kept slapping him to keep him awake. The last guy of the group entered the room and started telling people to go to sleep but they kept being loud. The nightmare continued early next morning when it was time to wake up. This was easily my worst experience at a hostel but I’m grateful it ended up being just annoying. 
 
Of the countries I have visited, all were good for solo female travelers. However, since I come from Latin America, I know that not everywhere is safe.

What would you recommend to solo female travelers who want to explore the world?

1. Always have plan A, plan B, and plan C.
 
2. Keep your wits about you! Always assume super friendly people have an ulterior motive, it’s better to be wrong about them and be pleasantly surprised than to end up in a bad situation because you trusted a stranger.

3. Always know how to get out of a situation, know where the exit is and how to get to a safe location.
 
4. Always let someone know where you are and make sure people know about it. A friend of mine met up with a guy at a bar and showed him how she checked-in her location on Facebook and that people knew where she was. A couple weeks later she found out the guy was drugging people in bars.
 
5. Walk with confidence and purpose.
 
6. If something happens, keep calm and only fall apart when everything is over. Very few things can’t be fixed, you can always make more money, buy a new phone or get new documents. Keep yourself safe, there is only one of you out there.
 
7. Restaurant bathrooms are an excellent place to hide and airports are a good place to sleep in.

12 Travel Safety Tips From A Former CIA Agent

Drew Dwyer is a Marine Corps veteran and former CIA operative who has had his fair share of foreign and domestic travel Having stayed in hundreds of hotels, Dwyer shared his travel safety tips on SOFREP.com, which we have summarized below. Not that you would need to use them all as a female traveler but it gives you a different overview of what you can do to protect yourself from any kind of danger.

  1. Choose a window seat toward the rear of the aircraft.
  2. Regularly review where you are in your journey by flicking over to the trip display. Knowing where you are at any point in time is a consistent theme in preventive security.
  3. Label your luggage with your information in a concealed area
  4. Acquire or make a copy of the hotel fire escape plan on the back of your door.
  5. Do not stay on the ground or the top floor of a hotel. The ground floor is readily accessible to intruders and the top floor does not allow any maneuver room.
  6. Keep the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, even when you are not there. Always assume the room is bugged. Keep the radio or TV turned on with the volume on low at all times—even when you are not in the room.
  7. Keep the drapes/blinds pulled at all times, even when unoccupied.
  8. Keep a light on in the room when unoccupied.
  9. Know the fire escape routes and the locations of all stairwells and elevators.
  10. Keep a small “bug-out bag” packed with must-have items (money, ID, passport, etc.) in the event of an emergency departure.
  11. Carry a motion alarm that can be placed over the doorknob. They are inexpensive and can be found in most electronics stores.
  12. Keep a flashlight next to the bed and within arm’s reach.

Inspiring Interview of Female Traveler: Seek Do Love

Meet Meghan, author of the blog Seek.Do.Love. She is truly inspirational: Megan is curious, passionate. She loves to explore new countries while connecting with people and she has such amazing travel stories to tell, it makes you want to book a flight ticket right away.

Tell us about yourself 

Aloha ladies! My name is Megan, I’m 29 years old and trying to rock the last year of my 20’s (so far, so good, in case you were as worried as I am). From the time I was born, I’ve never been one to stay in one place for long. I was born in Germany and grew up in Annandale, Virginia, located just outside of Washington D.C.  I went to school in the New River Valley, moved to Maui a year after college, and then island hopped over to Oahu before recently relocating to Charleston, South Carolina. Each place has had a serious impact on my life and shaped my adventurous travel philosophy and generous spirit.

I love being outside in nature. On any given day you’ll find me at the beach or on a hike with my drooly, floppy, petite puppy, Koko—who just so happens to be a mastiff rescue, weighing in at 115 pounds (but try telling him that). *side note: he is currently sitting on my lap causing me to awkwardly type around his adorable back fat rolls. I’m watching in horror as a long piece of drool slowly works its way down towards my keyboard.

Some of my passions besides traveling include surfing, swimming, hiking, teaching, animals, teaching animals (just kidding, but what kind of job options are available in that realm?), eating, drinking, planning a new trip, talking to people about their trips, looking at photos of trips, reminiscing on past trips, writing about trips—okay, so basically travel.

I love taking photos and telling stories, but most of all, I love connecting with people.

When did you get bitten by the travel bug? 

My parents were stationed in Germany, which is where I was born.  Apparently, I traveled all over Europe with the two of them, and it was a great time! I just don’t remember any of it! I attribute these early years towards my need for adventure.

What propelled a want to travel was when my parents became involved with a non-profit based in Northern Ireland called Project Children. The organization’s mission is to promote peace and tolerance and to expose children to different cultures by placing them with host families in the United States for the summer and encouraging leadership, peace, and tolerance through camp-like excursions.  It was through this program that my sisters and I gained three Irish brothers, who came to live with us for five summers. Being exposed to different cultures, witnessing a community come together to heal from unimaginable trauma, and ensuring that future generations were equipped with the knowledge and skills to avoid such tragedy and violence, was an invaluable experience. Since then, I’ve always been eager to meet new people, hear their stories and better understand the communities from which they came. I think that our perceptions of people and places are shaped by many factors, like the media and information learned in school, which may not always be an accurate representation. Only time physically spent talking with people will tell the true stories.

I am also a teacher and have students that come from all over the world.  I love being able to connect with them, whether it be through food, language, travel, or stories. My greatest goal as a teacher is to allow students to feel proud of the unique area they are from while being exposed to other culture’s, which ultimately shows us just how connected we all are.

What exactly propels you to travel alone?

Moving and solo travel can be awkward, uncomfortable, and at times lonely, but making changes and taking chances has brought so many positives into my life that have allowed me to grow into myself, at my own pace, in the most unexpected ways. There are some tough days, but there are also many wonderful and fulfilling days. On the tough days, I am especially grateful to the global community of friends and fellow travelers that have come into my life.  Connecting with new people and bonding with friends is truly the most rewarding part of travel for me.

Social media is an awesome tool to connect with people, but it has a way of breezing over challenges, adversity, and potentially scary moments to focus solely on the end destination. While the photos are often an incredible new place or a scenic view, this approach minimizes the journey it took someone to get to that point and creates unrealistic expectations for those of us who then feel we can never possibly do the same thing.

Here’s a perfect example: When scrolling through my Instagram feed, I’ll see an incredible photo of a flawless looking human with a caption along the lines of, “just woke up 5,000 miles away from everything I’ve ever known and don’t know where I am going to live long-term or if I even have a job, and here’s a surprising twist, I’m still broke!  But it’s all good, because of life. Here’s a picture of me surfing at dawn with a puppy and bouquet of wildflowers I arranged myself. I didn’t need an alarm I just woke up naturally well rested to the sound of indigenous birds and the smell of bacon my hot boyfriend cooked.”   (Okay yes, I made it up, but you know what I’m talking about.)

One of the reasons I love to travel alone is because of the authenticity of it.  Not the posed photos, which are a special talent in their right, but the experience itself. Traveling with just a backpack has helped me reach a new level of comfort in my skin. Instead of focusing on what I look like in a picture, I love knowing how I felt in the moment when the picture was taken. Happiness is beautiful.

While I’d like to pretend that the scenario above is how I handle and carry myself throughout my travels, that would be false. My family and friends have plenty of embarrassing and REAL stories they can share with you about my reaction to some stressful and challenging moments, many of which include a panicked phone call from me picking apart every life choice I’ve ever made (sound familiar anybody?! Just me? I’LL OWN IT!)

The point is, travel and moving is possible for EVERYONE, including uncertain, broke,  semi-unorganized, adventure seeking, soul searching, risk-taking babes like you and me—hot boyfriend not required!! (Sweet victory!!) Each trip and move gets easier because traveling solo provides you with valuable lessons to take on your next journey.

Solo travel allows for growth. It has helped me put myself out there and meet new (interesting, inspiring, awesome) people! I’ve learned so much about myself that I really love and I’ve noticed aspects that I’d like to work on. Those areas can be masked when you are constantly surrounded by others.  Something that I noticed during my last solo trip was that I actually enjoy spending time by myself.  I wouldn’t have said that ten years ago. That is worth celebrating!  Travel alone and learn to love yourself.

Another plus with solo travel is the freedom to create your own schedule, change plans last minute and enjoy your time as you see fit. It’s my favorite kind of planning (the no plan, plan).  Guidebooks are great, but I’ve learned that often the best advice is given by locals from that place. I might have some loose plans, but I like to go with the flow.

I end up traveling alone because if I see an opportunity that will help me fulfill a goal, I’ll jump on it. The past few years I’ve tried to think more about long-term goals. Oh, hey 30 years old! *wave emoji* I see you, babe.  I love traveling with my friends, family, and my fiance,  but our time off doesn’t always align.  If there is a place I want to see or a program I’d like to become involved in, I just take the plunge.  If people can join me that is wonderful, but if not it’s all good because solo travel is a special, unique experience.

What aspects of solo traveling as a woman do you enjoy the most?

I love meeting other solo female travelers and hearing their stories. We inevitably converge over coffee, drinks, or run into each other in the bathroom or lobby and it is this awesome society. We swap tips, must sees and dos. I am so inspired by other female travelers. Travel provides a safe haven that allows people to connect and bond much faster than usual.

Last summer, in Indonesia and I ended up meeting the most amazing woman, who is originally from the UK, but has been living in Malaysia for several years. We bonded immediately and went to yoga class together. We surfed with our hostel group, grabbed beers, and set up our own fancy dinner date night.  It was so incredible to connect with and hear her story.  We shared goals, hopes, failures, and successes. We only knew each other for three days, but I would meet up with her anywhere in the world, in a heartbeat.

In Malaysia, I was a part of a teaching program called LRTT and lived with a mostly female group of strangers, in a hostel, for one month, with three showers (Real World Malaysia: when people stop being polite and start talking openly about their bowel movements).  It was amazing.  We had time to get to know each other as individuals, not just in a group setting.   Each person came with their own backstory and reason for wanting to be involved with the program.  I admired these ladies so much and learned from them as teachers, travelers, and women.

What are the dangers of traveling solo as a woman?

The question I get asked the most is, “Did you feel safe there?”  It is an important question that exemplifies the realities of our society.  When I first started traveling I was incredibly cautious to the point of missing out on opportunities (You’re welcome, dad! Side story: My dad always “somehow” ends up watching the movie “Taken” the day before my sister’s or I leave for a trip. The movie ends, there is silence and then inevitably the panicked question, “Hey where are you going again?!” *eye roll* End side story)

The majority of the time, I realized I was dealing with the same dangers that are present in my own city. I’ve been to many countries deemed “unsafe” and have left feeling gratitude towards the community for watching out for me and anger towards my own community for not taking assault against females more seriously.  I have never been inappropriately touched or had derogatory comments shouted at me while I’ve traveled alone.  I have had this happen many times in my own city.   That being said, I do look into political stability, check the travel recommendations, and keep tabs on any protests that might be taking place.

Instead of having to constantly assess my situation, this is the area I will preplan. When I book a hotel or hostel, I verify the safety record and what kind of security features they have.  I read a lot about neighborhoods I know I will be wandering around. I talk to uber drivers and staff at the hotel and hostel and ask for advice.

While I like to wander around alone, if the hotel recommends I don’t venture out alone, I won’t.  What is the point in risking it?  I’ll book a tour and get to see the same sights, on someone else’s timeline with the opportunity to meet new people, safely.

I recommend always having travel insurance.  It eases my mind, knowing that in the very slight chance something happens, I don’t have to burden others and I am taken care of.  PSA: My travel insurance is better than my in-country insurance.  Can you say Lasik in Costa Rica?

Ultimately, you can only plan so much!  My family and I were in a really bad car accident one trip.  An experience like that puts inconveniences like delayed flights into perspective and has allowed me to view the entire experience as part of the journey.  One bad moment does not ruin a trip. There might be some negatives, but it will mostly be an absolutely thrilling adventure and we can handle whatever comes our way.

Can you share some highlights (negative/positive) of your travel experiences in 2017 and how you dealt with them?

This year was an amazing year of travel for me! I left my home in Maui and moved to Oahu to live with Jared, while we awaited the news from the navy regarding our relocation. We finally found out we were being transferred to Charleston, SC and slowly began to make our way to our new home.

1. Olympic Peninsula, Washington

I met one of my sister’s into camp and explored for a week.  No one ever told me that Washington is essentially cold Hawaii!  We were blown away by the waterfalls galore. It was a hiker’s paradise and we averaged about 10 miles a day. We stayed in campsites in the rainforest and others that were overlooking expansive beaches.  We had animal sightings, surprise snowfall and enjoyed hot springs.  It was MAGIC.

Washington DC | Jozu For Women

*If I had to pick a negative, it would be how unprepared we were for the cold front that came through in May.  Luckily, we heard talks of snow when we were at REI, but since we both had flown in, we didn’t have our mattress pads and ended up sleeping in the car one of the nights (Full disclosure: I ended up sleeping in the car one night. My sister is much more badass than me!)  The next day I bought a yoga mat and we both stuffed all our dirty clothes underneath our sleeping bags and it worked well enough!

2. Washington D.C

Splurging at Rose’s Luxury, which was on everyone’s foodie list and literally ordering the entire menu.

3. Sicily, Italy 

My family ventured off to explore our homeland for the first time.  I have to give my mom all the credit for this trip.  She did so much research and we had the most amazing time exploring small towns, eating insane food, drinking a ton of wine and spending quality time together.

The absolute highlight of the trip was visiting the town my great-grandparents are from. We were the first in our family to be able to go back to Alessandra Della Rocca and I feel so grateful to have this opportunity. People in the town went out of their way to help us find our roots.  They took us to the town hall and we were able to see the birth records and marriage documents of our ancestors.

To top it off, they found their old houses for us and we were able to take pictures of where our family used to live.  The feeling we had knowing we probably were walking the same paths our great-grandparents had, was indescribable.

4. Vietre Sul Mare, Italy

We spent our second week in Italy staying in an Airbnb overlooking the small town of Vietre Sul Mare, aka the ceramics capital of Italy. Staying in a town that is less traveled, but equally as gorgeous as Amalfi and Positano, was unique. The locals in the town were so friendly and welcoming.

Italy | Jozu For Women

One night, we wandered into a shop to get pizza takeout. We didn’t realize that the shop was closed and through a game of language charades, we finally realized they weren’t even open! Instead of kicking us out, they offered us a beer, showed us around the restaurant and then started to make pizza early.  Every person in the shop spoke a different language, but that didn’t matter, soon we were all laughing and taking selfies.  We stopped in to say hi every day we were there.

5. Mahe, Praslin and La Digue Islands, Seychelles

This trip will always hold such a special place in my heart, and not just because it was so breathtakingly gorgeous, with the clearest water I have ever seen, but because Jared proposed to me here the last night of our trip! (I said yes BTW). We spent this trip island hopping, body surfing at sunset, riding bikes, visiting animal sanctuaries, hiking, and eating with our host family. This was all done with an overall feeling of awe by the beauty that surrounded us.

Cons: Super expensive to buy tampons, ladies!  BYOT or better yet, switch to the Diva Cup, which is exactly what I did after this trip! Another PSA- the water is rough during this time of year, so our ferry ride from Mahe to Praslin was extra bumpy.  A couple of people threw up within the first couple of minutes.  I bought some lavender and doused myself with essential oils, sat close to a window and watched the nature documentary they put on the TV and it was all good!

6. Kampala and Murchinson Falls National Park, Uganda

Lions and Rhinos and Baboons jumping into your campervan, oh my! In June, we visited my cousin Brian and his wife Muna in Uganda.  Uganda was an unforgettable experience.  It was my first time visiting this area and left me eager to go back and explore more.

Highlights: 1. Boda Boda tour around Kampala- hop on the back of a motorcycle and take a tour to religious landmarks and all 7 hills of the city. 2. Road tripping to Jinja, the source of the Nile River, and drinking a Nile beer while on a sunset cruise on the Nile River.  3. Whitewater rafting on the Nile. 4. Visiting the Rhino Sanctuary and trekking around to find Rhinos.  We stumbled across a mama and her baby, Noel. 5. We won tickets to see a SOFAR concert that highlighted the talents of a local singer, storyteller and a singer/songwriter. 6. Two-day Safari through Murchinson Falls National Park- if you are an animal lover, you will cry. We spotted crocs, elephants, lionesses, warthogs, giraffes, baboons (a baboon legit jumped in through the roof of our van to try and steal our lunch), and so much more. We camped at a resort and woke up to hippos feeding outside of our tent at night.  It was terrifying and magical at the same time.

8. Penang and Langkawi, Malaysia

Penang Highlights:  I was lucky enough to live in Georgetown, a funky UNESCO world heritage site on the island of Penang, for the month of August. Georgetown is known for its incredible street art. I spent two full days roaming around in search of different murals. When we were there Malaysia was celebrating their 60th anniversary of independence. There were free cultural shows taking place all month long.  Penang is the foodie capital of Malaysia.  Their meals are influenced by the three main cultures found in Malaysia, Malay, Chinese, and Indian. The food was out of this world. There are so many hawker stalls where you can get a delicious meal for under 5 dollars. The national park is worth hiking through! 

Langkawi: Be sure to check out the Skybridge!  It holds the record for longest suspension bridge held up by one steel pillar and eight suspension cables.  To get to the top, a cable car will whisk you up 2,000 feet above sea level, NBD.  While we were in the cable car we spotted a waterfall that we hiked to afterward.  Above the waterfall, there are a bunch of natural slides leading to cold fresh water pools.

9. Nusa Lembongan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

I fulfilled my goal of attending a yoga and surf retreat while I was on Nusa Lembongan. My surf instructor, Dewa, was amazing! He asked what my goals were the first day and then worked with me every single lesson to help my dream become a reality. The yoga classes were geared towards surfers and were the perfect start or way to wind down.  The sunsets here were unreal.  I met so many friendly, interesting people.

Ubud-  I was surprised by how crowded this town was! It is a full-blown sprawling town.  The highlight for me was the bike tour I took through towns, rice fields, and coffee plantations.  The tour ended at our guides home where we enjoyed a full meal cooked by his aunty. Talk about hospitality!

Con: My hotel recommended that I did not walk from their hotel into town alone and also suggested that I only use verified taxi services.

10. Singapore

I am obsessed with Singapore. I’m surprised by how much I loved it because so many people recommended two days maximum here.  I 100% disagree, I could have stayed several days.  A major highlight is how safe it is! As a woman, I felt comfortable wandering all over alone. I walked EVERYWHERE.  There are so many neighborhoods to explore.  The blend of ancient history, cultures, religious merged with the modern MRT system and Gardens by the Bay park create the most wonderful fusion to explore.  I stayed in three different parts of the city, ate so much food and honestly can’t wait to go back.

11. Tokyo, Japan

On my way back to my new home, I had a 24-hour layover in Tokyo.  My flight was from Singapore at 2 am, to Tokyo, to Dallas, and was supposed to end in Charleston.  However, a major storm came rolling up the East Coast and my flight was redirected to D.C., which accidentally ended up canceling my flight from Singapore to Tokyo in the process.  I found this out at 11:30 pm. The airline was incredible and worked quickly to ensure I still had a seat on the flight. After that was all taken care of, I explored Singapore’s famous airport, which I highly recommend spending time in!  I ended up falling asleep in one of their lounges and waking up when an employee was putting a blanket over me.

I was only in Tokyo for one day and stayed in the Shinjuku area.  Some of the highlights would be the udon restaurant I queued in line for, Standing Sushi Bar, visiting Harajuku at night, The Samurai Museum,  my walk through Shinjuku Gardens, and the countries flawless public transportation that took a lot of stress off my short time there!

Con: I made my train by about 30 seconds and was so incredibly sweaty due to sprinting with an overly stuffed, end of trip backpack around the city.  Pro: Narita airport has showers. $10/30 minutes.  I showered, bought myself some soft serve and a beer and settled in.  Pro: This was another city I felt super safe walking around alone in.

How many countries have you visited? What is the next one on your wish list? 

I actually just won a scratch-off map at a white elephant party and had had the best time remembering trips and diving into where I’d like to go next!  I have visited 33 countries and territories, and I am looking forward to the next adventure!

I could talk about my travel wish list for hours!! My sister and I are heading down to Guatemala in February for a couple of weeks and a possible dip into South America – will take any and all recommendations!

My best friends and I are turning 30 next year and are planning on hiking Machu Pichu together to celebrate!

I’m interested in exploring Australia and Antarctica, which after February, will be the only continents I have not explored.  I set the possibly ambitious goal of exploring both before I turned 30, but I’ve found that setting the intention usually opens up some awesome opportunities! I’m also less concerned about the time frame now and more open to travel that allows me to pursue passions like teaching, hiking, and surfing.

For these reasons, Sri Lanka and Taiwan have skyrocketed to the top of my list.

I’d also love to visit Bhutan and Nepal and am trying to think about how I could combine both places, without rushing the visits too much.

This past summer I flew into Guangzhou, China on my way to Malaysia and the views were so spectacular. Now hiking around China is definitely on my list.

There are so many little islands around the world that are rich with culture and still have laid back vibes that I’d love to roam through as well.  The Philippines just looks unbelievable and I just barely scratched the surface of the islands in Indonesia when I was there last year.

Jared and I were in Guam last year and that trip planted the seed of visiting Samoa.  A lot of my students are from Tonga and Samoa and I’d love to experience these areas and take a ton of pictures of them.

I’d also really like to explore my own country in more depth. I’ve been lucky enough to have a seen a great chunk of it, but there is so much more out here!  Jared and I are toying around with fulfilling a dream of renovating a camper van, to help us make the best use of the time we have on the East Coast.

Any advice you would give to women who want to travel alone? 

You are strong enough and brave enough to travel alone.  It will be life-changing.  Be kind and patient with yourself.  Put yourself out there, meet new people, eat amazing food and trust your gut! One bad experience does not ruin a trip.  Be flexible and open to changing plans.  Learning to rely on yourself, while having fun is an absolute game changer. Ask lots of questions! Jump on opportunities that enable spending time with people that live in the country. Leave the hair dryer, straightener, and makeup at home. Being true, authentically you is refreshing! No one cares if you wear the same dress three times. Pack light and bring home cool art!

Make sure to follow her adventures around the world on Facebook and Instagram!

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Finding Myself In Travel

Last year, I took the best decision of my life: quit my job, booked a flight and traveled the world. I remember some of my friends asking me why I would want to travel, why I would want to risk being unemployed at the end of my trip, what was the point of doing it … But if you start listening to these negative (#SorryNotSorry) voices, you won’t leave. Ever. Your daily life will drag you down, and you’ll never take this trip of a lifetime. I was unhappy, I was bored and was missing the purpose of “being alive”. So I left, with no regret.

I crossed Australia from Sydney to Esperance, experienced shark cage diving, drove for hours in the desert, met friends in Cambodia, flew to the Philippines and discovered the beauty of the islands, volunteered in Nepal, met amazing people that I would have never talked to if I would have stayed in my comfort zone, slept under the stars, trekked in the Himalayas, lived with digital nomads in Bali, discovered Alaska which was at the top of my bucket list, attended the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago and finally, ended in Montreal where I used to live when I was a student. The circle was complete.

Did I feel lonely? Yes, sometimes. Sometimes, I didn’t talk to people for days, but when you get through it, it helps you to reach out to others more easily. It also taught me to say no when I wanted it, and travel without compromises. Sometimes, I got lost in the forest only surrounded by sheeps and squirrels and yes, sometimes I felt scared. Because let’s be honest, safety was and still is, my primary concern when I’m traveling. So far, I’ve developed a sixth sense and I also dearly trust my guts. But you can’t really escape the bad luck: being in the wrong place at the wrong moment. It has happened to me – once, in six months, but still, I remember it. I won’t name the country as I think it would not represent the whole population. I would just recommend to all female travelers out there to follow some basic safety tips such as never to be drunk when you’re not with people you trust. Try not to go out when it’s dark, stay in places where you know the neighborhood at least a little bit and of course, always have your phone charged. Also, it might sound a little silly at first, but for sometimes, I’d much rather be with a group of only women for specific activities. As an example, to trek in the Himalayas, I did specifically look for a female-only group.

Traveling, wandering, backpacking, whatever you want to call it, is truly a life-altering experience. Not only does it take you out of your comfort zone, but it challenges you in a way that will make you stronger, wiser, and more understanding of the world around you. 

Kaila and the Content Castle

Meet Kaila, the happy founder of The Content Castle in Thailand, a revolutionary concept in accommodation – a house purpose-built to inspire creativity in writers, that doesn’t require any budgeting.

Introduce yourself: what do you do and where do you come from?

I’m Kaila, hailing from Vancouver Island, Canada. I’ve lived in Thailand for 8 years now and on Koh Phangan for the past 6 of those years. I run a writing/ editing agency from Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.

When did you start traveling?

I started traveling the moment I graduated university – in fact, my first destination abroad was Japan! I lived in Awajishima, teaching English as part of the JET programme.

Why did you choose Thailand as a home base?

I love the weather, the people (most of the time), the topography, and of course, it’s very affordable to live here. You can really design your own lifestyle in Thailand, in a way that you can’t in the West.

What would you recommend to solo female travelers who want to explore Thailand?

Be respectful by covering your shoulders and knees when near or in temples; Wai often (a ‘wai’ is the traditional Thai greeting and is a big sign of respect) and by learning basic Thai phrases to help you get by and earn the respect of Thai people.

Who do you prefer traveling with?

My fiance makes a great travel companion. I also love traveling with my girlfriends, who come from all over the world.

What is your favorite and must-sees places in Thailand? 

Definitely Koh Phangan. Also, Krabi and Trang province – anywhere with a view of Phang Nga Bay – having the best views in all of Thailand. That’s why we’re getting married there this year!

Content Castle | Thailand | Jozu For Women

Tell us more about the Content Castle? How does it differ from another hotel? 

The Content Castle is a haven for writers. We have just five bedrooms, and residencies are granted through applications, which can be found on our website. Our residents do not pay to stay with us – at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, they write/ edit 10,000 words a week, in exchange for their private room, 2 meals a day, participation in our writing workshops, and access to all our facilities.

When and why did you decide to launch the Content Castle? 

I first stumbled upon the building that is now The Content Castle in September 2016. From there, I came up with the concept, drew up a business plan, found investment, renovated the place, and we opened mid-March 2017.

What is your next project?

Possibly Content Castle II and Content Castle III 🙂 I hear Chiang Mai might be a good next location…

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Is It Safe To Travel To Mexico?

Whilst Susan Ripley from Brooklyn Tropicali definitely convinced us to visit Mexico City, we are still wondering whether it is safe to visit the country right now. Following surges in violent gang-related crime, the State Department has issued new “do not travel” advisories for five Mexico states, including Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas states.

American tourists are conflicted. On one hand-side, they are trying to escape the crowds with cheap getaways to Mexico, but on the other, the travel advisory for Mexico came at a bad time, as travelers are planning their winter vacations. Viral videos of violence in the country don’t help to ease the perception that it is currently unsafe. Beginning of January 2018, almost 20 were killed in violence near beach tourist resorts.

Though there are no known reports of American tourists being specifically targeted, you should take some precautions as mentioned by the State Department:

  • Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving at night
  • Be cautious when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations

If you have any safety tips you would like to share with us or any travel stories, please feel free to comment on this post.

Miami’s Most Futuristic Spa

Amongst the hustle and bustle of Miami Beach lies the state-of-the-art newly renovated The Spa at the Ritz Carlton in South Beach. While it is hard to take a break from swanky cocktails parties, celeb sightings, and all the South Beach bling, treat yourself to a truly high tech beauty break of mind and body rejuvenation. The modern minimalism of The Spa’s decor combines elements of Zen with the right amount of luxe – a trademark of the Ritz Carlton brand.

Check out the feedback of Katherine Lugo, CEO of Luka Cosmetics, in the 3rd issue of Jozu Magazine.

 

Why your next solo trip should be to Alaska

While an earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska yesterday morning, I can’t help but remember the amazing moments I spent in this US state. I had an Alaska trip on my bucket list since I watched the movie “Into The Wild”; I was intrigued by the wildlife and wilderness, but except that, I didn’t really know what to expect. Here are just a few reasons why I think Alaska is the perfect place for your next solo vacation.

Alaska | Jozu For Women | Solo Travel

When traveling to Alaska, you’re in for a lonely, but incredibly enjoyable, adventure. While Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas, its population is less than 1 million. Don’t expect traffic jams or crowded cities. Alaska is all about nature and outdoor activities. You’ll embrace freedom.

With its maintained highway system in much of the state, Alaska is an easy place to get around. Each drive can take quite a bit of time, but reaching one’s destination is as simple as driving down one long stretch of road. From Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula and the Denali area is pretty much a straight shot and you will be absolutely amazed by the surrounding nature.

In the Kenai Peninsula, make sure to stop in the lovely town of Seward which combines seafood restaurants and lots of options from hiking to canoeing, kayaking, and fishing.

Going on a cruise to explore the Glaciers and watch them closely, is unmissable. While the ideal place to hop in one is from Whittier, I would not recommend you to stay overnight. I remembered this city as a pretty dirty and sad one and suffered from the 20 hours of daylight; it’s difficult rythm to get used to; so don’t expect to fall asleep before midnight.

Alaska | Jozu For Women | Solo Travel

The Denali National Park, 5 hours drive from Anchorage, is famously dominated by what was then known as Mt. McKinley. This is America’s tallest mountain and experiencing a scenic flight is a must-do. From Denali, I recommend a day trip to the small town of Talkeetna. It has only a few hundred inhabitants, but with its typical houses and dirt roads, it looks like a cowboy city.

Alaska | Jozu For Women | Solo Travel

I traveled solo for ten days in Alaska, and except bears, I don’t think there is much you should worry about as a female traveler. I read a few articles on places to avoid (Anchorage by night specifically), what to see and experience. I was amazingly surprised by how nice and helpful people are. You’ll always find someone to have your back and giving you a hand if you ever have a problem.

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3 Asian Countries That Ended Up Surprising Me

Travel aficionado writer, and global brand ambassador, Préity Üpala has the distinction of a global citizen imbued by an international exposure. Born in Dubai and having lived in India, Paris, and Sydney, she is uniquely enriched with the comprehension of global cultures and values. Having traveled to 5 continents and over 60 countries and speaking 5 languages, Preti considers herself a travel expert and aspires to bring you her diverse experiences and travel wisdom.

Check out, in the 3rd issue of Jozu Magazine, 3 Asian countries that exceeded her expectations and surprised her – from Cambodia to India and Sri Lanka.

 

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