An interesting read over at the Frugal Traveler blog (see, I don’t always rag on him) today about extending your vacation into a several month journey. While not exactly quite the plan we have, this is an interesting article that may inspire more people to unshackle themselves from corporate America’s hit job on leisure time.
Category Archives: Books, blogs, and beyond
I can’t believe I hadn’t come across this site before, but Spotted by Locals is such an awesome resource. From cities like Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Paris, Madrid and so on, you get a slick blog feed that is written by (you guessed it) the locals.
Wondering where the good vegetarian restaurants are in Madrid? This is the sort of resource you can turn to. It’s also teeming with cool, local pictures and great insider descriptions of things going on in each city.
I see this being infinitely helpful when we get to some of these cities and are looking for cheap or free things to do. Though there are only 21 cities available now, they seem to be growing at a good clip.
Check it out!
My updates have come to a trickle lately, despite the fact that I have much to write about. It’s all about time, people. Work is on a slaughtering rampage, which I suppose I should be thankful about (I’m not). Needless to say, this week was not one where I entertained the luxury of excessive free time. The weekend on the other hand…
That said, I did do a little online dabbling (gotta) and came across a great new site called Air B’n’B. I’m not exactly sure what that name is supposed to mean, but it’s a great place to look for rooms, apartments, hostels, and sublets while overseas. The interface is great and rather robust for a site that hasn’t been around too long. Many users post pictures and good descriptions of their spaces along with reasonable expectations they have of their guests (good for weeding out crazies). One feature I see coming in handy is the reviews. It’s sort of a Yelp-Craigslist hybrid with Twitter’s graphic feel (sorry, that was awful). Check it out!
Although I may not be doing much writing here, there are diligent folks doing stuff out on the vast internets. I’ll use my lazy Sunday update to post two great blogs:
First, I’m sure you’ve all heard about director Spike Jonze’s upcoming new film, Where the Wild Things Are. My buddy Matt is helping to manage and write for Spike’s blog of inspirational (not in a corny way) artists, musicians, filmmakers and other miscellany. Go stop by, you’ll love it: We Love You So.
There is another site I’ve been really addicted to lately (it’s also in our Links section ->) called Going Slowly, which chronicles the around the world cycling trip of a couple. The blog is well written, funny and really interesting. The duo, Tyler and Tara, have been in the UK for the last month and seem to be enjoying themselves. Do yourself a favor and check out the marvelous photographs they’re taking along the way. Very inspirational.
One last note: I need to stop watching the Travel Channel so much (not just because Samantha Brown irritates the hell out of me). Today, I caught a program on Lisbon, Portugal — one of the first stops we’re considering on our journey, and I WANT TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW. It’s strange though–it looks so much like San Francisco! It made me nostalgic for home and we haven’t even left yet. Here are some photos courtesy of Flickr’s Creative Commons:
So, there it is. Wedged between the maps, “rough guides” and travel diaries on the shelves of my favorite travel bookstore, Get Lost, is The Grown-Ups Guide to Running Away From Home. Now, normally, I am not one for whimsy. If you can tell anything from my previous posts, I love a healthy dose of reality. But something about this book was begging me to pick it up and flip through (this was, of course, before I stumbled upon The Practical Nomad). After a quick skim, it seemed like this book was pretty relevant, and the price was right, too. Why the hell not?
Now that I’ve actually read the thing, I can say wholeheartedly that I still hate whimsy, and that this book was not even remotely penned for anything like what Mia and I plan to do. The author, Rosanne Knorr, seems more interested in letting people know how to continue their yuppie lifestyle–just on a villa overlooking a Tuscan sunset.
While she does address some of the practicalities involved with living abroad, many are dusted over with nary a concern for the harsh and necessary details. The guiding principle of this book seems to be, “with enough money thrown at it, it will work out.” This is not for the budget traveler. Now, the title may seem clear enough to you–grown-ups. Although only 27, I consider myself a “grown-up,” but much of the myopic nature of this book confounded me. The intended audience seems to be those suffering from a midlife crisis with enough money to bankroll a getaway excursion. Hardly any practical travel tips are discussed, in fact, a lot of the things Knorr suggests seem really expensive. A quick scan through the book again yielded no mentions of hostels. At times, the book comes across as a condescending, xenophobic how-to guide for being a dick in another country (I think this is already second nature for enough people, do we need to teach it?)
Don’t even get me started on the anecdotes (that must have been sent in by readers of earlier editions?) and how corny they are. One woman laments(?) how that they hated to leave behind all their furniture in states, but how nice it was that their new Moroccan home came fully furnished. Well, save for her pesky husband Bob, and how he just HAD to have his darn rototiller. “He can’t live without it!” Gag.
If you’re a disgraced AIG exec with money to burn, you probably already have this in your Amazon checkout cart. For younger travelers looking for more in-depth travel and relocation advice, keep looking. There’s better stuff out there.
Enough with my foaming of the mouth. Yesterday was pay day, and also teabagging tax day (apparently), so it’s a milestone for the piggy bank. Given that our planning has gone into overdrive lately, this is the first chance for me to strike a raw budget (have mercy, no Excel) and set some serious cash aside. I was surprised after crunching the numbers that I was able to stash away about 7% of my final savings goal!
The middle of the month is always a better financial time for me, since most of my bills come due at the end of the month. In the past, this usual excess of cash was a false buffer, one that usually evaporated with enough time (a week?). Saving money is a habitual act (must.not.buy.beer.) Once you start doing it long enough, it becomes automatic. I’m not fully automatic yet, but it’s getting a lot easier.
As some of my friends know, I have been devouring Edward Hasbrouck’s The Practical Nomad.
It’s probably the best how-to, what-happens-if, and what-the-eff-do-I-do-about-XYZ book I have seen yet. Not only is this guy a well-versed, intrepid traveler, he is also a Bay Area resident! If you have any interest at all in extensive (or even limited) world travel, definitely pick up this book.
I’m definitely not the saver I need to be (yet), but I am on my way!
Late last year, I signed up for a Mint account (I know, I’m late on this one), and so far as I can tell from their detailed spending graphs, I spend a lot of money on coffee every day. On my way to work, between lunch and dinner, and sometimes on my way home — it all adds up to an incredible amount.
My average daily intake? about $6.30. Okay, you might be thinking that’s not much, and to many, coffee is an essential, not a luxury. But let’s take a closer look at those numbers:
Multiply intake by the 4 or 5 days a week I’m in the office and you get? $31.50 a week!
It gets worse – that averages out to $126 a month, and over $1500 will be spent by the time we leave. Thanks for the info, Mint, but what do I do about it? Unfortunately, this kind of financial info doesn’t go very far if you don’t know how to change your habits.
Luckily, this is an easy one. A lot of my coffee is consumed in transit anyway, so I purchased a mini French press coffee maker that will make only a couple cups at a time–perfect to top off a travel mug on my way out the door.
Now, now, the French press is not a new concept for me. I already have an 8-cup press, but I don’t have the time every morning to drink through it, nor do I want to waste 6 to 7 cups of coffee when I’m in a hurry. At USD$14 and coffee at about USD$8, this thing will pay for itself in a week.
Every drop helps, right?