In the Spring of 2017, I had the pleasure of living in the beautiful country of Cambodia for two months. Part of an organization in Kona, Hawaii called YWAM, I traveled and lived with 11 other people that were in my DTS – Fire and Fragrance. My time with these lovely souls, and with YWAM as a whole, was an incredibly stretching and beautiful season – one that has helped shape me into the person I am, as well as the person I’m continually striving to become. While I’ve only been overseas for a short season of my life (so far), my two months in Cambodia taught me SO much about love, community, and walking in boldness. Watch the video below to hear about 5 things I learned living abroad!
For most of my life now I have played team sports that have required road trips in some shape or form. Since the start my collegiate career way back in 2010 for TCU’s Lacrosse team I’ve learned that long road trips are inevitable. Over the years as a player and now as a coach for Griz Lacrosse, I thought I would share some tips and tricks on how to make a team road trip easier.
Pack The Night Before
Personally, packing is not the most exciting part of a trip. Coaches demand that we be ready to go at a certain time (usually before the sun comes up). I have found that packing the night before prevents me from forgetting anything in those early morning hours when I am not thinking clearly. In addition, line your bags up at the door so you can have a smooth exit out of your apartment or dorm.
Carry Both Card and Cash
To get to a game you will have to travel though the middle of nowhere. And in the middle of nowhere often times you will find technological conveniences are nonexistent. It is crucial to have cash and not just a card on a road trip in case the store where you are trying to buy snacks is still stuck in the ‘50s. Being hungry on the bus is miserable.
Portable Chargers are Worth Their Weight in Gold
Missoula to Portland on a bus is anywhere from 8 to 12 hours depending on external factors. So even if you charge all your electronics the night before, you will run out of battery life on a haul like that. For $25 to $50 you can get a good quality portable charger that will keep your electronics charged and you blissfully entertained while the hours go by.
Bring Food and Drinks on The Bus
One of the reasons I pack and line up all my stuff the night before is to save time in the morning. With that extra time, I always run and grab food and coffee to bring on the bus. Doing this will save you money over the length of the trip, since prices in food vary from location to location. Additionally, you don’t always know when and where the team will stop for food, having your own will prevent any unforeseen problems.
Bring a Pillow is Key
This one is a little self-explanatory. Not all buses or cars have comfortable seats or headrests. In my case, the Griz Lacrosse team bus has some hard armrests. I always bring a pillow on bus trips. It not only makes the ride more comfortable, but I avoid dealing with hotel pillows that I am not used to.
Many young adults in university are often asked what they
want to do after graduation. A common answer most of the time is to travel
before they must settle down. For a lot of people, making sure they have the
best experience on their trip is revolved around how they budget and plan. From
my traveling experiences myself and asking my friends Alyssa and Sarah, we’ve
easily found that these aren’t the most important things. Luckily for you, I
was able to put together what I thought were the most valuable lessons my
friends and I learned from our travels that we wished we would have known before,
so you don’t have to do it the hard way and learn yourself.
1. Take Time to Learn the Language and Culture
No matter where you go even just learning how to say hello
or things like please and thank you can change how you are seen and treated by
locals. Learning a couple words can give you advantages in a lot of situations.
Lucky for us there are many free apps that work without wi-fi that you can
carry with you. One of my favorites is DuoLingo. Or as Sarah says, “download
google translate, don’t let language barrier scare you! They make for such
great stories and a way to expericnce a different culture!”. There is nothing
worse than trying to ask for help from someone who doesn’t understand you and
that you don’t understand and making yourself frustrated. Going along with
language, if you pick up or hear about cultural cues certain places may have,
don’t be afraid to use them and show that you have respect for their culture or
country while you are there. You are their guest and more people are likely to
help you and if they notice you are being respectful.
2. Don’t be Afraid to Talk to Locals
Going hand in hand with downloading an app or trying to
learn some of the language, locals know more about the place you’re in than the
internet does. When you are in a new of different place, locals will end up
being your best friends. Most the time you will learn about the best
restaurants or the most satisfying things to do in that specific area when you
ask the people who live there for suggestions. Touristy things are fun to do
and partake in, but don’t plan your whole trip around them. Take time to find things that will be the most
enjoyable to you and your experience in a new and exciting place. Having your
own unique experiences in a place that others may not have had the chance to
have will make your trip so much more valuable to you.
3. Be Open to Change
if you plan everything out, the chances of you having a perfect trip is
unrealistic. If you plan your whole trip out ahead of time, it may end up
closing a lot of opportunities you could have had. Some of the greatest
experiences that come from traveling are those that weren’t meant to happen and
are spontaneous without prior planning. When asking my friend Alyssa about her
travels and a piece of advice she wanted to share was to “be okay with disappointment. Just because you’ve always
wanted to go somewhere and just because everyone else goes somewhere doesn’t
necessarily mean it’s good. Some of the best memories are ones that no one else
4. Hostels are Your Friends
When you’re traveling, alone or with people don’t be scared
to stay in hostels. Hostels get a bad reputation for being dirty or sketchy,
but sometimes they can be nicer than some hotels in certain places and it’s a
great way to meet people. People who are staying in hostels are usually by
themselves traveling and are always looking to make new friends. Not to mention
being able to have a connection with someone they usually have valuable stories
to share and recommendations on things to do and not do while you are visiting
place, which can be very helpful to you in the future. Not only are hostels
usually extremely inexpensive, but they even may provide meals when you are
staying which can help you save money to use for other things on your trip.
5. Pack Light and Pack Smart
Being an over packer myself, it took me a couple tries until
I finally realized I don’t need to have a different outfit every day. When you
look back on your trip you won’t think about the outfits you had, but you will
remember your experience. Don’t forget that you can buy things as you go, and
laundromats exist in a lot of different countries. You also don’t have to lug
around a huge suitcase everywhere you go. Less is always more when traveling. Try
not to take your passport or wallet with you anywhere unless you really need
it, and if you do need it make sure its in an extremely safe place. Alyssa
likes to use pre-paid cards whenever she goes places so if it does get stolen,
its not all her money in one place. All banks have access to give you these and
its easier to load money onto a temporary card then must cancel every card you
brought with you that may have been stolen or misplaced.
6. Don’t be Afraid to Travel Alone
Traveling alone allows you to do the things that you want to do. When you are with a group or friends you are more likely to do things that you don’t find interesting or may feel like you are wasting part of your trip. Even if you are with your friends Alyssa says “if you really want to do something, but no one wants to go with you don’t sacrifice that for something else or cop out and stay in. Being alone gives you time to relax and reset which is hard to do if you’re constantly around people”. Use your time on your trip the way it will be most beneficial to you and that you will get the best experience for yourself. Wherever your travels take you, always make it something enjoyable for yourself and use it as a learning opportunity to grow as a person. If you need time alone and are traveling with friends, take that time for yourself! From the words of my friend Sarah, “The imperfections, the shortcomings, they’re the best part of travel. Traveling puts you in tough situations that help you grow, put you out of your comfort zone and push you to be creative. Things go wrong and things go great, and it all makes for an overall phenomenal experience and something to look back on”.
Thank you to my friends Alyssa and Sarah for sharing their experiences with me! Follow their travels and Instagram’s here!
Thailand is a very popular tourist country for young travelers. Koh Phi Phi, specifically, because you can enjoy the Phi Phi Islands with white sandy beaches and clear blue water. The only way to get to these islands is by ferry or boat. This popular destination spot has diving and snorkeling that get great reviews from travelers. Also, the Phi Phi Island have made a few movie appearances, like The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. An interesting fact about the Phi Phi Islands is that Phi Phi Leh is free of human inhabitants and Phi Phi Don is without roads. This is a destination to relax and enjoy the views for a couple days. While Koh Phi Phi may be the more expensive option in Thailand, it is still inexpensive to visit compared to other countries.
Avg daily price for traveling in Koh Phi Phi: $66 Avg price of food: $11 (per day) Avg price for a hotel: $73 (per couple)
Food: $3 to $28 (depending on style of food) Beer: $2.30
LAX to Phuket City: $582 *depending on departing airport
Ferry to island: $12 to $18 (one way)
Deep Sea Fishing: $85 Rock Climbing on cliff: $31 (Tonsai Tower) Learn to cook Thai Food: $16 Sunset Kayaking
Arenal Area, Costa Rica
Being one of Costa Rica’s most
popular destination spots, Arenal Area offers a beautiful hiking area, a lake, and
the very popular La Fortuna waterfall sitting at the base of a volcano. A few
things to see while visiting Arenal is the Arenal National Park where you can
see wild life, hike trails, and see a great view of the sunset. The hot springs
are also another necessary stop to make in Costa Rica. These natural hot tubs
are located at the base of the volcano that you can take a dip in after a long
hike. If you want to take a closer look at the crater of the volcano you can
take a tour via the hanging bridges. Arenal Area is different than most
traveling spots, but it offers attractions that other places can’t.
LAX to San Jose: $450 *depending on departing airport
Hostel: $10 to $15 (shared room) Budget Hotel: $50 to $70 (private bathroom, A/C, hot water) Mid-Range Hotel: $100 to $200 (A/C, hot water, TV, Wi-fi, complimentary breakfast)
Public Bus: $4 La Fortuna Bus: $2 Taxi:$5 Bike Rentals: $6 (half day) Easy to get around on foot
Lunch: $8 to $12 Beer/ Cocktails: $2 to $3
Hanging Bridges Tour: $23 National Park: $9 Zip Lining: $50 to $85 Rafting Tour: $70 to $130 Kayak Tour: $50 to $75
Traveling to Europe is perceived to be costly, but Albania is an exception to this rule. Albania is a much more affordable place to live than other areas in Europe, which benefits young travelers in there 20’s in getting to experience a little bit of Europe. One of the top attractions in Albania is the castle in the city of Shkoder. An interesting attraction for tourists is a rotating bar in Tirana called The Sky Tower Bar. You can enjoy a nice cold beer while slowly spinning 360 degrees getting to see Tirana at all angles and watching the sunset. If you are interested in learning about the history of Albania, you can visit an abandoned bunker museum in Tirana. Another attraction that other destination spots don’t offer is wild camping on the Albania’s beaches. The Albania Riveria is a major attraction to Europe by young travelers because of the reputation it has with being a music location hosting music festival like Turtle Fest. Also, nightclubs, like Havana Beach Club draw people in their young age across Europe.
Hotel: $47 Airbnb options
Food: starting @ $5.50 Beer: $2 Coffee: $1.30
JFK to Tirana: $500 *depending on departing airport
Havana being the capital city of
Cuba has always been a popular tourist destination with vintage cars and
colorful Spanish colonial architecture; however, it wasn’t always that Americans
could go visit Cuba. In December 2014, the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba
was restored, but not without a few traveling restrictions. In order to book a
solo travel experience to Cuba it needs to be for educational purposes. This is
where you meet Cuban citizens in normal daily life setting, like school and
community centers. One of the adventures you can take part in is riding in a
vintage convertible for an hour cruising up and down the avenues of Havana. Something
that is a must see in Cuba is the El Malecon, a five-mile-long boulevard that
stretches along the water, with Havana Bay on one side and Old Havana, Vedado,
and Central Havana on the other. At night, many Cubans come to watch the sunset
with their loved ones, drink and laugh.
Avg daily price for traveling in Havana: $18 Avg food price: $5.39 (per person) Avg price for hotel: $17 (per couple) Avg drink price: $2 (cocktails) $1 (beer)
Private Taxi: $2.50 to $7 (within city) Shared Taxi: $0.50 Viazul Bus: $4 to $5 (reliable schedule and A/C) City Bus: $0.04 Scooter: $25 (per day)
Miami to Cuba: $275 *depending on departing airport
Museum of the Revolution: $8 Vintage Car Ride: $15 to $25 (30 min) Horseback Riding: $115 (3 hour trip depending on city) Scuba Diving: $40 (including equipment)
Bali is a place that only requires
a traveler to walk outside to enjoy themselves. This city, also known as, the Island
of the Gods, is meant for exploring. Surrounded by beautiful seas and golden-brown
beaches, Bali is a surfer’s dream, which you can do in Kuta Beach, the most
famous beach in Bali. Don’t know how to surf? Across the sand bar you can sign
up for surf lessons. The Island of Gods also offers other attractions like the
Ulun Danu Temple. This building is one of the quietest and most serene places
on the island. The Bali Treetop Adventure Park is ready for an afternoon of
adrenaline, but also is great for families and children as young as 4 years
old. Other attractions tourists can’t miss out on are the caves, museums and
parks that Bali offer.
Avg daily price for traveling in Bali: $63 Avg price for food: $19 (per day) Avg price for a hotel: $74 (per couple)
LAX to Denpasar: $850 *depending on departing airport
Motorbike: $20 to $30 (per week; need international license)
Scuba Diving: $100 (per day for 2 dives; includes lunch, transportation, and equipment) Massages: $10 (per hour)