20 Reggaeton Songs That Are Better Than Despacito

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This week, the music video to the vastly overplayed Spanglish summer hit “Despacito” bypassed “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth as the most-watched YouTube video of all time, according to TechCrunch.

The most watched YouTube video of all time.

So, more than cat videos, more than baby videos, more than people skating off of things and into things and into each other, more than any type of challenge video ever, more than pranks – more than any of those things, people want to continue listening to the song that’s already permeated every club, bar, restaurant, even the occasional grocery store within a 6,000 mile radius…?

I’ve been all over the place this summer, and regardless if I was on a beach in Nice, France, in a pool hall in Santa Cruz, California, or at a karaoke bar in Boston, Massachusetts, whenever the song’s signature Spanish guitar-esque opening riff pierced the air, at least 5-10 people in the nearby vicinity would let out a seemingly involuntary shriek and start grinding on each other.

It’s true that reggaeton is one of the most twerk-inducing genres out there. If you’re not exactly sure what reggaeton is, keep reading, because I’m about to name-drop a bunch of tunes that are going to have you shaking your booty in your cubicle in like, T-minus 70 seconds.

I’ve been listening to reggaeton for literally a decade. My MySpace page’s theme song was – appropriately – MySpace by Don Omar ft. Wisin y Yandel, my first Zune contained more Spanish songs than English ones, and my friend Laurel and I stayed up all night one Saturday in high school eating popovers and watching the Daddy Yankee movie on the edge of our seats (it’s called Talento de Barrio, and it’s exactly like you think it is).

Given my Reggaeton Resume, I am (albeit irrationally) a little pissed off that of all the great reggaeton songs out there, the one people apparently want to listen to the most, although it does involve the aforementioned reggaeton legend Daddy Yankee, also exists in an almost-as-popular version that features J-Beibs, and I really hope I don’t have to explain why that’s upsetting.

And, yes. Before you even think it. I am a white girl. Great, now that’s out of the way.

It should be noted that reggaeton is a huge genre. This is in no way intended to be a list of “the best” reggaeton tracks, just…reggaeton tracks that are better than Despacito. So like, all of them. But these are some of the best of the best.

Side note: just because a hip-hop song has some words in Spanish does not automatically make it a “reggaeton song.” Reggaeton is classified by the underlying beat you’ll hear in all of these. So this means that no, Pitbull is not a reggaeton artist.

So, without further ado (the following is to be read in a corny announcer voice): “if you liked ‘Despacito,’ you’ll looove”…all of these much better songs listed below.

*in no particular order

1. Gasolina – Daddy Yankee

“Gasolina” is essentially Reggaeton Lite. Some of my fondest middle school dance memories have “Gasolina” as a soundtrack. If you are currently older than, say, 15 years old, there is no way you have not heard “Gasolina” at least 75 times. However, no matter how many times I’ve heard it, I still catch myself going “dalé WHOOP! Dalé gasoliiinaaa” along with DY at least once. I can’t help it. It’s just a thing that happens.

2. Dile – Don Omar

So, although like I said there is no order to this list, I did put DY, Don Omar, and Wisin y Yandel in the top 3 spots on purpose, as they were all undeniably some of the absolute biggest names in reggaeton ten years ago and are still relevant today.

While varying in style from year to year, Don Omar’s tracks all have one thing in common: they make you shake your hips and wish you spoke Spanish (if you don’t already), and the 2003 track “Dile” is no exception.

3. Abusadora – Wisin y Yandel

I stressed out more than was probably necessary about which Wisin y Yandel song to put on here, because there are approximately a metric shitload. I chose this one because it exemplifies Wisin y Yandel’s style – an intense beat with sort of aggressive-sounding verses and then a surprisingly melodic chorus. Wisin y Yandel took a break from being a duo in 2013 in order for them to each pursue their own solo careers, and Yandel put out one of my current favorite jams, Nunca Me Olvides in 2015, which sounds waaaay different than his songs with Wisin, but is much too catchy not to like.

4. Ven Bailalo – Angel Y Khris

Psssh. Angel y Khris, you don’t gotta tell me to “come dance;” by the time I hear the beginning of this song, I’m already doing it.

5. Oye Mi Canto – N.O.R.E. ft. Daddy Yankee, Gem Star, and Nina Sky

“Oye Mi Canto” by rapper N.O.R.E. was basically a reggaeton anthem as soon as it came out. It was originally released as a single in 2004 and later appeared on his only reggaeton album in 2006.

6. Danza Kuduro

While much different than Don Omar’s earlier stuff (see #2), the 2010 hit Danza Kuduro has now become a reggaeton classic in its own right. It is also hands-down one of the happiest songs I have ever heard. Try to put on Danza Kuduro and be in a bad mood, I dare you. It can’t be done. It’s also physically impossible to sit still while it’s playing.

This one is also close to my heart because it brings back memories of when I was 19, living in Guatemala, drunk off of Gallo and shout-asking “como se llama este canción???” at people whenever it came on in the club because I loved it desperately and wanted to be able to listen to it on my own accord. Googling “oy yoy yoy” had not been super helpful in the way of providing me with a title. Shock.

7. Si No Le Contesto – Plan B

Plan B has lots of bangers, but my hands-down favorite is “Si No Le Contesto,” probably partly because it also reminds me of being 19 and drunk off of Gallo in a club. But also, it’s insanely catchy. If you’re into it, check out some of their other stuff.

8. Rompe – Daddy Yankee

Anyone else remember this one from middle school dances? It was usually played somewhere in between Gasolina and Candy Shop. There was probably a Sean Paul song thrown in there somewhere too.

There’s also a remix with several members of G-Unit, which also contains more English, but I like the Spanish version a lot better.

9. Reggaeton Latino – Don Omar ft. Fat Joe, N.O.R.E. and LDA

As far as I’m concerned, this is just one of the reggaeton classics. If you’re feeling it, peep the original that’s just Don Omar, not ft.-ing anybody. The verses sound a lot different, but the beat and the chorus are basically the same.

10. Lo Que Paso Paso – Daddy Yankee

“Lo Que Paso Paso” combines a reggaeton beat with a bachatón feel, making it extra extra dance-y. (Bachatón = bachata + reggaeton, and bachata refers to a genre of music that sounds something like this.)

11. Atrevete Te Te – Calle 13

“Atreve Te Te” by duo Calle 13 is about as far as you can get from “Despacito” while still loosely being in the same genre. This raunchy track was released a full three years before the Beibs was singing his very first cover song on YouTube. (See also: “Vamo Animal“).

12. Pasarela – Daddy Yankee

Released eight whole years after “Gasolina,” this song has a much different sound than earlier DY tracks, but it’s so damn catchy. The word pasarela means “runway” in Spanish, and that beat will have you strutting to the damn grocery store like you’re walking on a catwalk. Oh, just me? Oh. K. Cool.

13. Estrellita de Madrugada – Daddy Yankee ft. Omega El Fuerte

You know how I said reggaeton is a huge genre? Welp, there’s the upbeat, pop-y “Danza Kuduro,” and then there’s songs like “Estrellita de Madrugada” that have you booty-popping so aggressively that you’re sore afterwards. Boom, case closed.

14. No Hay Igual – Nelly Furtado ft. Calle 13

Did you guys know Nelly Furtado has a reggaeton song? Well, she does, and it slaps. Also, Calle 13’s part is fire. Syrop de banana.

15. Perdoname – La Factoria ft. Eddy Lover

Aside from being impossibly catchy, this 2007 song is cool because it’s essentially a conversation between Eddy Lover and duo La Factoria. Eddy Lover sing-begs La Factoria to forgive him for whatever he did (he doesn’t make it super clear), and La Factoria rap-agrees to give him a second chance.

16. More – Zion and Ken Y ft. Jory

The chorus of “More” is essentially one big Spanglish play on words. The line is “pues toma para que te enamores,” which means something along the lines of “so take that to make you fall in love,” but then they repeat the end of enamores (pronounced mor-ay) so it’s like they’re saying “more” – “so take that to make you fall in love more.” But, the word for “more” in Spanish is obv not “more,” so by putting an English word and keeping the English meaning but pronouncing it like a Spanish word, Ken-Y, Jory and Zion are just being super clever.

Unless, of course, I am wrong. It’s entirely possible that I’m completely wrong and hearing word play where there is none just because I love word play, and they’re just saying the end of “enamores” a couple times for effect. In any case, it’s really fun to sing “zippy zippy zippy zippy zippy” along with Zion.

17. Lejos de Aqui – Farruko

I’ve just accepted that it’s physically impossible for me to listen to this song and not sing “quítate la ropa encima de mi” out loud, which has attracted very startled glances from other people walking down the street.

This isn’t Farruko’s biggest song by a long shot, but for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, it’s my favorite. “Chillax,” a collab with Bob Marley’s son Ky-Mani Marley, is a close second. Even though there’s no lines about taking off ones’ shirt on top of people.

18. Borro Cassette – Maluma

No, this is not a song about how Maluma accidentally erased his cassette tapes. I’m not going to translate the phrase “borro cassette” because I’ve heard different definitions and I’m not a native Spanish speaker so I don’t want to mess it up but, essentially, this song is about a girl who gets wasted one night, hooks up with someone and can’t remember anything the next day. Also, the official video is awesome and you should hop on YouTube and give that shit a few views to make up for all the people who are watching the “Despacito” video instead.

19. 6 a.m. – J. Balvin ft. Farruko

Hey! This is another song about getting super drunk and not remembering anything the next day! And it’s like, alllmost as catchy as “Borro Cassette.” And it also has an entertaining video.

20. Ginza Remix – J. Balvin ft. Farruko, De La Ghetto, Nicky Jam, Arcangel, Daddy Yankee, Yandel, and Zion

Think of this as like the grand finale to this list. Eight artists with very different styles came together to bring you this super long and highly danceable track. Si necesitas reggaeton, dále.

It should be noted that I had a super hard time limiting this list to only 20 songs. Wanna hear more? Slide into my DMs and I’ll send 20 more your way. Think I missed one? Drop the link in the comments!

 

A California Kid’s Guide to Getting Buzzed in Boston on a Budget

Boston, Massachusetts isn’t exactly party central. But, like pretty much any city, you can find fun and cheap nightlife/other drinking opportunities if you know where to look. Except for maybe like, Dubuque, Iowa, but then again, I haven’t been there, so I wouldn’t know.

I recently flew from my California hometown to Boston to meet up with a friend who was visiting from out of the country, and she wanted to drink, but we quickly realized that Boston wasn’t as nightlife-focused as the other cities we’ve been in together. (Madrid, Valencia, London….)

Grocery stores in Boston do sell 6-packs of PBR tall boys for $5.70, though, so that’s pretty cool.

But, I discovered a few things when I was there, so if you’re in Boston and want to go out, without spending a lot of money, I gotchu.

Firstly, the number one thing you need to know about drinking in Boston is happy hours are illegal, so don’t traipse into a Massachusetts bar at 5 p.m. and expect to get a discounted gin and tonic.

What you can do, though, is:

1. Get $1 pints of Bud Light at Coogan’s – essentially whenever you want 

Located within walking distance of the Boston Harbor, Coogan’s has $1 Bud Lights literally all of the time during open hours. On weekend nights they charge a $10 cover to enter the bar, but I was there at roughly 5 p.m. on a Friday and there was no cover and dolla Buds a-plenty. It gets super crowded, so sit right at the bar and have your ones ready.

Also, just so you’re not surprised, they will ask for your credit card when you show them your ID to verify that it’s you, so bring both your card and your ID.

Speaking of IDs, while we’re at it. Anyone else like me and doesn’t drive? I’ve been carrying my California-issued ID card with me since I turned 21 (i.e. a long time ago), and haven’t run into any trouble, but this doesn’t fly in Boston.

The bouncer at Hong Kong (not officially on this list because it has a cover, but the cover was $5, and there’s karaoke, and dudes selling chicken chunks on a stick for $1, so if you’re into that kind of thing, check it out) told me that bars in Massachusetts can’t legally let patrons in with an out-of-state ID unless it’s a driver’s license. This isn’t a problem for you real adults who have a driver’s license, but if you are like me, bring your passport out with you to make sure you can still get in to bars. (I weirdly had mine with me, so I was good to go.)

2. Catch a dope (free) view from a rooftop bar

Apparently, rooftop bars are a huge thing in Boston, but most them come with a cover charge. Lookout Rooftop at the Envoy Hotel, on the other hand, is 100 percent free to enter. You don’t need to be on a list or anything, just show up. I went on a Thursday night and it was poppin’. Plus, there was a great view.

Drinks are a little pricey, but no more so than your standard nice bar ($14 for a cocktail and $7 for a beer).

I also heard good things about Yotel, which apparently also does not have a cover.

Rooftop chillin

 

3. Drink free beer at Samuel Adams Brewery

You read that right! Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Monday – Thursday and also Saturdays, the Samuel Adams Brewery gives free one-hour tours every 40 minutes. On Fridays, the last tour is at 5:30. They’re closed Sundays.

Your guide will walk you through all the different ingredients of a Sam Adams beer, and let you smell/taste each one. Then you literally all sit around in a room for half an hour and sample various types of beer from different pitchers while your guide tells you about each kind. For free. I mean, there’s a suggested $2 donation, but essentially, free. Or very very cheap. You also get to keep your glass.

Free Sam Adams beer for 3

When the tour is over, if you’re not done drinking, walk out the gift shop side door and wait for the free “party trolley” that comes every 10 minutes. The driver is super hilarious, has party lights going, plays karaoke classics such as “Sweet Caroline,” and encouraged dancing and singing on the five-minute drive to Doyle’s, an Irish bar. It has some kind of deal with the brewery that if you buy a Sam Adams beer (roughly $6) they give you a super nice Sam Adams glass that you get to keep. (Fo fwee).

So! There ya have it. Any cheap Boston drinking options I missed? Lemme know in the comments!

Learn From My Mistakes: My Week in Budapest Was An Enormous Shitshow – and I Loved Every Second

If you were at Stansted Airport in London on June 12, you would have seen me running from security to the gates in my socks, my backpack bouncing from one arm while I clutched my shoes to my chest, shrieking “missing flight sorry!!!” and trying not to notice how sweaty I was from the three layers of clothing I was wearing to avoid Ryanair baggage fees.

This is, unfortunately, pretty similar to how I end up boarding most of my flights, and my flight to Budapest was no exception.

My friend Katie – current travel buddy who I’ve known since I was literally nine years old – and I took one look at the security line an hour before boarding time and were so convinced we were going to miss our flight that we started looking at later flights to Budapest and other nearby countries, BUT, by some miracle, we made it.

But, also like, it’s me, so of course the shitshow only continued once we arrived. But that’s what keeps it interesting, am I right?

To get to and from the Ferihegy airport in Budapest, you need to take a bus called the 200 Express. It’s blue and says “200E” on the front. Next to the bus is a ticket machine, and annoyingly enough, it only takes exact change. Unless we just got unlucky, but at least, the machine that we used only took exact change.

Always have a little currency of the country you’re about to land in.

Luckily, Katie had some HUFs with her. HUF = Hungarian Forints. At the time of writing, 274 Hungarian Forints are equal to $1 USD. The 200E costs 350 Forints per person, which is roughly $1.28.

Depending on where you’re going, you might have to take an additional train after the 200E, like we did.

The first thing we did when we got to the airport was look up directions to our hostel. Well actually, the first thing we did was hit up the grocery store attached to the airport to get cheap cheese and baguettes. And then we looked up directions to our hostel.

Actual footage of Katie eating cheese and looking up directions to our hostel #youhearditherefirst

Google Maps is magical and if you look up directions from Point A to Point B when you have WiFi but then leave the WiFi zone, the little blue dot on the map showing where you are will continue to move with you as long as you leave the Maps app open. This is incredibly useful for things like, you know, using public transportation at night in a country where you don’t speak the language.

Looking up directions is all well and good, but it doesn’t really do much if you don’t pay attention to the little blue dot. I was busy talking to Katie and ignored my map, and I only knew to get off because the automated voice thing announced our stop, so without really looking at the blue dot, I told Katie to grab her stuff and we hopped off in a hurry.

Once off the bus, we realized we had gotten off in literally the middle of nowhere, so we followed the little blue dot to where we were supposed to be, which was a proper train stop instead a random sign beside the highway, which is where we initially were.

We met a Hungarian lady who said the 200E usually stopped at the end of the platform, not right smack dab in the middle where we were, and we had to walk waaay down to the end in order to buy tickets. Whoops.

We finally got to our hostel, but didn’t have any more HUFs, so we had to go to the ATM to withdraw cash. Always take out as much as you think you’ll need for the duration of your trip because the ATM will probably charge you a fee, so the less times you visit the ATM, the less fees you’ll be charged.

Katie was weary about using the ATMs on the street because she was worried that it would eat her debit card, but we did anyway.

Two days later, we went to go to the ATM again because we clearly didn’t follow the above rule, and as soon as Katie put her card in, a little message popped up saying “this card has been captured for security reasons”…and ate her damn card.

Use the ATMs inside/attached to the bank – not the ones on the street.

Speaking of money, Budapest is very cheap in comparison to the U.S., so it’s easy to spend a lot of money on accident, because you get caught up thinking how cheap it is and forget to keep track of how much you’re actually spending. This isn’t actually something we did because we were actively trying not to.

Something we did do, however, was spend roughly $40 on a “Sparty Party,” which is essentially like a Vegas pool party but at night and on steroids. If you’ve never heard of this, lemme break it down for ya.

Budapest is famous for its bath houses (among other things). The most popular one is called the Széchenyi Spa and Baths, which costs about $17 to visit during the day and is basically the ultimate hot tub experience. There’s a bunch of hot tub-sized pools indoors – cold pools, really hot pools, hot tubs with sulfur, etc. Outside, there’s two massive swimming pools, one really warm one and one less warm one. The less warm one also has a whirlpool, which is relaxing during the day, and absolutely terrifying at night when it’s full of drunk people going around and around endlessly.

The “Sparty Party” usually happens twice a week  on Wednesday and Saturday nights and runs from 10:30 p.m. until 3 a.m. If you buy your ticket ahead of time online or through your hostel, it’s a little less than 11,000 HUF, but if you buy it at the party directly, it’s 18,000 HUF, which is $65.

During the party, only the two outdoor pools are open, and the cheapest beers are roughly 600 HUF, which comes out to a bit more than $2, which isn’t that bad, but when you get there, you have to put money on a special card thing you wear around your neck, and there’s a minimum amount you can put on the card.

Included in the price, you get assigned a locker you can put your stuff in, which you can open by using a FOB key wrist watch they give you when you walk in. They give out one wrist watch/locker per group, so try not to lose your friend. In a massive pool party with hundreds of drunk people, that’s pretty easy to do. I lost Katie for like an hour and it was super stressful. Hold hands with your travel buddy and don’t let random Scottish men pick you up and carry you around the pool. Not that I did that. Or anything.

Going to the bath house during the day is an entirely different ball game. For the bath party, you don’t necessarily need a towel, but during the day I’d recommend bringing one. I’d also highly recommend you bring flip-flops, both during the day and at night, since both the floor of the locker room and the pavement next to the pools is covered in pool water other people have been stepping in, which is nasty.

Also, for whatever reason, the locker situation during the day works differently than at night, and is really complicated. You have to select an empty locker and then look for someone who works there – when I was there it was women in blue shirts and white name tags – to close it for you, and then open it for you again when you want to get your stuff out. Each locker comes with a little wooden tag that has a number on it that doesn’t correspond to the number on your locker, but you have to keep it with you and remember your locker number. See, I had to figure this out myself, so now I’m telling you so you don’t have to.

The day of our flight out of Budapest, we decided to leave four hours early because we almost missed our flight there. Which ended up being nothing in comparison to the situation we ran into while trying to leave.

From our hostel, we walked to the train station and asked someone who worked there how to get a ticket for the airport, and he pointed at something on the screen and nodded, so we printed that out.

Once we were on the train stuffing our faces with bread rolls and cheese wheels (again) (don’t judge OK it’s the cheapest thing to eat that’s also portable), a guy came by to collect the tickets, frowned at ours and said something in Hungarian.

“….airport?” I said meekly.

He shook his head and said more stuff in Hungarian. “Airport no.”

He sort of just stood there smiling and shaking his head, and I don’t know how to say “someone who worked at the train station told me to buy this” in Hungarian, so I just pointed at my ticket and said “….is okay?” and he laughed and said it was okay. Lucky.

If it doesn’t say Ferihegy on the ticket, it’s not for the airport.

Unlike the bus we took on the way in to Budapest, the train didn’t announce any of the stops, so all of a sudden we were passing a sign with a plane on it and I was like “is that….?”

The smart thing would have been to look up how many stops we had to go and then count the stops, but we didn’t do that, didn’t get off the train in time, and had to go an extra stop (about 15 extra minutes on the train), hop over the fence with our suitcases to go buy the correct train ticket, and wait 40 minutes for the train.

This is what waiting at a random bus stop for 40 minutes in the middle of nowhere Hungary looks like

Our story isn’t over yet, folks.

Once we got off the train at the correct stop – the stop that said Ferihegy with a little airplane sign – we looked around and quickly realized something was wrong. Although all the signs said “airport,” and from glancing at Google Maps we could clearly tell we were at the airport, we were somehow at the wrong one. It looked nothing like the airport we had flown into – there was just a parking lot and a big building that a) had a sign about military aircraft b) was locked c) appeared to have nobody inside. There were also no signs about where to catch a plane or really anything explaining anything. If I had been alone, this would have been a panic moment, but I was with Katie, so we both kind of just wandered around in circles and triple-checked the map and went “wtf?!”

The third or fourth time we approached the so-called abandoned building with the sign about military aircraft, a man suddenly appeared, came out, saw two confused girls standing there with suitcases and told us we had to cross the street and take the 200E bus to get to the airport. Which makes sense, since we had to take a bus and then a train to leave the airport in the first place.

The 200E bus is your direct transportation to and from the airport! Also, use your common sense!

After all that, we were still an hour early for our originally scheduled flight – and it was delayed.

Be early AF for ya flights because YOU NEVER KNOW!

That’s just the short version, folks. Our five days in Budapest were essentially devoid of sleep, full of stories, possibly involved the acquiring of a tattoo or two and absolutely involved lots and lots of walking, cheap beer, and literal hundreds of pictures. Going to Budapest and want advice? Get at me in the comments, I got lots more.

I swear I didn’t always stand on this side of her in pictures on purpose.

Six Online Resources to Help You Make (And Save) A Little Money for Traveling

I’m part of roughly one billion (read: 12) travel-related Facebook groups, and at least once a week someone posts something to the effect of “what do you guys do to make money for traveling??? I’m super broke and could use some extra cash!!!”

(Side note, the other type of post I see once a week in these groups is essentially the exact opposite:”help!! My husband and I have only $6K to spend on a honeymoon, he wants Tahiti and I want the Bahamas, and we just don’t know which one to take!!!!”

I’d just like to say, if this sounds like you, then your life must be filled with much strife and hardship, and I just don’t know how you cope with every new day, you brave, brave soul.)

But if you’re a normal person, and you’re looking for creative ways to make extra money instead of worrying about how you’re going to spend it, then this post is for you.

Because of the Internet, we now have a million resources available to us, which includes a million platforms on which to pick up a little extra work and a million platforms to help us save money on flights, hotels, etc.

However, since there are probably literally a million resources, some are more legit than others. Like, getting paid to create a PowerPoint presentation on Fiverr? Super legit. Doing a (clothed) photo shoot with a Craigslist photographer in which you get paid in drinks as well as cash? Maybe not so legit. But it made for a good story. Ask me about it if you see me.

Some of the photos came out OK though. Don’t try this at home, kids.

Below is a list of Internet resources that are 100 percent legit, and I know, because I’ve used them all.

Every app listed is available for both Android and iPhone.

1. Sell your skills on Fiverr

Are you an aspiring graphic designer? Maybe you’re a songwriter. Or maybe you can translate something from English to German in record time. Maybe you’re just really, really good at drawing trees.

No matter what skill you have, there’s someone on Fiverr.com who wants to pay you to do it.

Basically, decide which skill you want to market, and create a gig on the site. “I will draw you a very accurate portrait of a sycamore,” for example.

As the name suggests, lots of gigs on the site are sold for $5, but you can sell your gigs for $10 or even $60 if it’s a larger project that merits that. Browse the site first to see if anyone is already doing what you want to do, how much they’re doing it for and how qualified they are.

Keep in mind that Fiverr takes $1 for every $5, so if your gig is $5, you’ll make $4, if it’s $50, you’ll make $40, etc.

I’ve been Fiverr-ing for several months now and it’s decent side cash and super fun. Wanna give it a shot? Sign up for Fiverr here.

2. Get money back from the stuff you buy online with Earny

If you shop online a lot, you’ve probably heard of price protection.

(It’s cool if you haven’t, keep reading!)

Let’s say you’re a bridesmaid in your cousin Julia’s wedding in September. Julia’s being a bit of a bridezilla and wants everyone to purchase one specific dress that she found online for $300. You’re reluctant, but you buy it anyway, on Website #1.

Three weeks later, you see the exact same dress on Website #2 for $250, which obviously is a way better deal.

A lot of credit card companies and online stores will give you that money back if the same item is sold in another store within a certain number of days (usually around 90), but in order for that to happen, you have to do a bunch of paperwork and then find and submit the receipts for each item to the store or credit card company, and it takes forever.

However! There’s an app called Earny that will automatically give you money back when the price drops on something you bought online. No paperwork required.

After you set it up with your CitiBank or Chase credit card info, it then tracks all of your online purchases. If something you bought drops in price, it will automatically refund you the difference to the card you used for the purchase, without you having to do anything.

So, in the case of the bridesmaid dress for Julia’s wedding, you’d get $50 back. Except the company takes a 25 percent cut, so really it would be closer to $37.50, but that’s still $37.50 that, like, magically un-spends itself, so that’s pretty cool.

Want to start Earning? (Hehe.)

3. Let go of the past on Letgo

This is the only app on this list that sort of depends on where you are in the world, because if there aren’t a lot of people using it yet in your city or country, there will be less people to sell to and buy from. Also, as far as I can tell, Letgo only works in the U.S. and Canada.

Letgo makes it super easy for you to sell stuff you don’t want anymore, or buy stuff you need for a cheaper price than it would be if you just went to the store. You take a picture of the thing you want to sell – chair, lamp, Smashmouth CD, boots you never wear, etc. – through the app, assign it a price, post it and boom! That’s it. Super easy. The app uses GPS to display your posting to everyone else with the app in your area.

Remember to exercise a normal amount of caution re: stranger danger when meeting up with people from the Internet to sell them your stuff. If you get a weird feeling about the person who wants to buy your lamp, suggest to meet them at a nearby Starbucks with the lamp instead of them coming to your house.

4. Get cheap flight deals through TravelPirates

The folks over at TravelPirates are really good at finding “error fares,” which is basically when an airline screws up and posts a flight for way cheaper than it normally would be. If you download the app and set up their messaging service, TravelPirates will send you a Facebook message as soon as an error fare is posted. It’s also just a good resource for finding flight deals in general, error fare or not.

ExpertFlyer.com - Empowering the Frequent Flyer

5. …and then book said cheap flights on Skyscanner

Skyscanner is great because you plug in where you’re leaving from, where you wanna go to, and the dates you’re looking at going, and it quickly scours the Internet for the cheapest airlines and shows you good flight deals.

I know what you’re thinking: “Has this girl never heard of Kayak?”

Of course I have, and Kayak’s dope. I just end up using Skyscanner more because it’s the most flexible in terms of putting in a general date instead of a specific one. Most airline aggregators don’t handle “I want to go in July-ish very well, but that’s like Skyscanner’s specialty.

You can just click “cheapest month” if you know you want to go to, say, Thailand sometime next year but you don’t care when, as long as it’s cheap, and it can suggest flights for ya.

Skyscanner and Kayak also have this really cool thing called price alerts.

Say you’re going from California to Montreal in August for Julia’s wedding (her husband’s Canadian, I just decided) but you want to book the absolute cheapest flight. Go into Skyscanner and search for a flight out of whichever airport is closest to you (you can also just type in your city if the airport isn’t important. Airport-ant? Sorry too easy) and into Montreal around the weekend of the wedding. Then click “set price alert.” Whenever that price rises or falls, Skyscanner will let you know immediately via email or Facebook Messenger. If the flight suddenly drops by $40, get on it.

Skyscanner is not an airline, so once you find a flight you want, it then takes you to that airline’s site to book it.

6. Save money on accommodation with Airbnb referrals

Got a friend who hasn’t used Airbnb before? Send them your referral code. Not only will they get some money off their first stay at an Airbnb, but you’ll get some credit to use, too. Money off accommodation for everyone! It’s a win-win!

Side note, something really weird happened a few months ago when my Airbnb account got hacked and I was getting notifications send to my phone in Chinese. Then I checked and someone had used my credit card info to book a property somewhere in China. Airbnb customer service was super awesome and helped me fix it. Keep that password secure!

Speaking of, hey there, you want some money off your first Airbnb stay? Here ya go.

Yes, that’s me.

The #1 way to make extra travel money is just to be super resourceful.

A couple of months ago, I saw a Facebook post asking for outgoing people to be a mascot for something, and that’s how I ended up spending a whole weekend inside of a very hot mascot costume shaped like a blood drop, bopping around from room to room of a pharmacy convention, dancing inside my costume and posing for selfies with convention goers.

The convention’s main objective was to convince people to donate blood, as there was also a blood drive. I mean, if a dancing blood drop came up to you and told you donating blood saves lives, who wouldn’t want to donate?

Apparently, the blood drop costume’s been around and used for conventions for several years, and I’m the first girl to ever wear it, so that’s kinda cool. I’m like Amelia Earheart or Mulan. Except not really at all.

Is there a super dope money-saving app or site I missed? My bad. Tell me in the comments!

How To Tell That Your Friend’s Vacation Was Straight-Up #CuratedLife

The following is the joint brain child of myself and the fabulous Michelle Rick, whom you can stalk on Instagram here. Also, check out her website here

The perfect trip does not exist.

The perfect trip does not exist firstly because the perfect life does not exist, but also, shit happens when you catch flights – mosquito bites, missed planes, food poisoning, having to wear all your clothes to dodge Easy Jet fees. Anyone who describes their trip as “perfect” or “a dream” is BS-ing you at least a little.

Social media, of course, makes it super easy to create and maintain the image of a perfect trip–or even a perfect life. If you’re like us and follow a plethora of travel accounts on Instagram, it’s easy to idealize traveling and forget that even the girls perfectly posed in paradise with a pineapple paloma in their paw (that was fun) have the same travel troubles as we mere mortals. Like, if you went to Renaissance Island and didn’t take a picture of you pretending to feed a flamingo, did you even Aruba?

These days, social media makes sure we’re interconnected to the point where we’re seeing Fijian beach pictures from the vacation of a girl we haven’t talked to since the seventh grade.

Fast forward another 12 years, and the seventh grade acquaintance in question, let’s call her Mindy, is doing the tree pose in a rainforest somewhere, pricking her finger on the top of the Louvre pyramid, and adorning her Thai island pics with quotes Marilyn Monroe definitely didn’t say, and thanks to social media, you get to see it all. 

We can’t help but wonder: if Mindy really felt as #blessed as she claims to be, would she feel so compelled to convince her IG followers that this was the case? Similar to the phenomenon that couples who over-post on social media are overall not as happy as the ones who don’t.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 ways you know that your friend’s picture-perfect vacation was, for whatever reason, not perfect.

“I Really Like The Post Of That Yoga Post From That Place You Visited” #irony

1. Excessive Facebook check-ins

Anyone have that one friend who suddenly becomes a FB check-in machine once they go somewhere new and suddenly your feed is flooded with random check-ins?

You don’t need to check in twice during your layover in Cleveland – we know. You’re sitting in an airport lounge waiting for McDonald’s to open and fighting for an outlet so you can charge your phone to provide more unnecessary updates.

2. Instagrams a lot – but doesn’t Snapchat as much

Snapchat is in the moment, so it’s harder to fabricate a dope trip that way, whereas Instagram makes it easier.

3. …Or, alternatively, only posts one photo when they’re gone for a long time

There are exceptions, but if someone posts 5 pictures a week of their cat, their friends, their new shoes, etc. when they’re home in Missouri but then suddenly posts one picture for their two weeks in Amsterdam, something doesn’t add up.

4. Flowery quotes about how amazing and life-changing everything is

Your picture of you on those swings in the sea in Indonesia is cool enough. No need to accompany it with a super long quote that’s meant to be inspiring.

The aforementioned swings. Photo credit: Dennis Keller. https://www.flickr.com/photos/dennisk/

5. Documents every meal they ate/fancy cocktail they drank

Don’t get us wrong, 1-2 are acceptable. Okay, 3-4. No more than 4. But if you’ve seen one paella and sangria picture, you’ve kinda seen them all.

6. Too many selfies

If you’re off doing cool stuff, why can’t you leave your phone alone for more than 3 minutes at a time? Don’t you want to conserve battery for more than just your face?

7. Posts about how great their trip was–six months later

When you’ve posted the same picture twice with the #takemeback hashtag, you know you’re trying too hard.

8. Tagging the same random people they met at their hostel one time in posts weeks or months later – when nobody tagged them in anything

…bonus points if they use a caption like “missing my bitches from Prague.”

9. Doesn’t have any good stories about their trip when you see them in real life…

…because all the good parts (or with some people, every damn moment) is documented in their social media. It’s like a movie where all the good parts were given away in the previews. If you’ve ever stayed in a hostel, you know you haven’t really done it right until there’s at least one story you can’t put on the internet or tell your grandma.

Also, if you ask them how their trip was, they don’t tell you any stories but repeatedly assert that it was “incredible”–that’s the word people think they’re supposed to use.

10. …and yet clings to the same anecdote over and over

“You went to Olive Garden last night? Ohhhh my godddd the pasta I ate in Rome eight months ago was sooooo good I literally died.”

Photo credit: Glenn3095. https://www.flickr.com/photos/steamster/

Don’t get us wrong – there’s nothing wrong with posting about your travels on Instagram, and we’re pretty active on the ‘Gram ourselves. We just want the Mindys of the world to know that it’s OK if your trip wasn’t perfect. Sometimes, it’s the not-perfect trips that make for the better stories. Social media isn’t everything. We’d rather hear an awesome story than double-tap your Eiffel Tower pictures any day.

Do you have a friend that does this? Have you had a trip that was less than Instagram-perfect? Let us know in the comments!

TL;DR: Social media isn’t everything. We’d rather hear an awesome story than double-tap your Eiffel Tower pictures any day.

An Open Letter To Everyone Who’s Afraid to Travel Alone

Dear Individual Who’s Afraid To Travel Alone,

Hey! How are you? Your hair looks great today, has anyone told you that yet?

So! You want to travel. You’re in your final semester of high school and planning to go to college, but don’t feel mentally prepared to start yet. Or, you’re about to finish college, and you don’t quite feel ready to be a real adult with a real job. Or, you recently got out of a six-year relationship and want to be somewhere else for a while. Or, nothing dramatic happened, but you’ve simply never been out of your home country and you just want to see what else is out there.

You have an O.K. amount of money in your bank account and an idea of where you want to go, but you don’t know anyone with whom you can imagine traveling, so obviously, that’s not happening, because you clearly can’t go alone. Right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

And no, this isn’t going to be one of those “if you can dream it you can do it” blog posts, don’t worry. I’m aware that the Internet is filled with cute little Pinterest pictures of supermodel-looking girls sitting on a mountain at that place in Turkey with all the hot air balloons–if you’ve spent any time on Instagram, you know what I’m talking about–or gazing out on some landscape involving a waterfall accompanied by big, bold text about how to travel alone is to know yourself or how the world is your oyster or something to that effect.

Most of your “traveling alone” selfies will look like this–backpack, sweat, no makeup. But yo, the park behind me is pretty. (Parque El Retiro, Madrid, June 2016)

Most of what I’ve read online about traveling alone (especially for women, but this post is for everyone) either says that:

a) you’ll have the most amazing time and amazing Instagram pictures to go along with it

OR

b) it’s super dangerous and scary and you’ll be alone and sad and scared.

I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s both. You’ll most likely have an amazing time, and you’ll also most likely be sad and scared sometimes. The thing is, traveling alone is like everything else in life. Nothing else is either this thing or that thing, so why would this be an exception?

Even though you’ll have scary and sad and maybe even dangerous moments, what I want to make sure you take away from this is that, at least for me, it was 100 percent worth it.

Before you decide if it’s worth it for you or not, because everyone’s different, let’s rewind back six years for a second so I can tell you my story.

The year is 2011, I’m four months into 19 years old, and eight months past finishing an exhausting, intensive four years of high school, during which I struggled to pass every math- or science-related class I took, drowned daily in a pile of homework, barely slept, and almost never raised my hand. I had plenty of friends, and had no trouble making new ones one-on-one or in small groups, but public speaking was the scariest thing in the world to me. I was too anxious to even show up to a friend’s birthday party by myself.

I had known since the beginning of my last year of high school that I needed a break before starting college, so I applied to a bunch of colleges with the plan to defer for a year once I got accepted, but I didn’t really have a plan for what I wanted to do with my extra year.

I ended up staying home in Santa Cruz, California to work two jobs while all my friends went to colleges all over the country. I really wanted to go somewhere to get better at my Spanish–I had taken it in school for the better part of 13 years, so I could speak pretty decent textbook Spanish (“where is the bathroom in the library? The pen of my uncle is on the green table”), but I had always wanted to be fluent.

My stepdad had gone to Guatemala years before to take Spanish classes, and said it was one of the cheapest countries to do that in, but all the programs I found online wanted you to pay an arm and a leg to only volunteer for two or three weeks. And, I was afraid to go by myself.

One night, my stepdad’s friend came over for dinner and said he knew of a volunteer program in Guatemala called Common Hope, that didn’t make you pay to volunteer and allowed you to do so for 1-6 weeks if you met certain requirements. He also said that plenty of people went there on their own to volunteer, so that once I was there, I wouldn’t be completely alone. I applied for the program, and got accepted to work in their daycare unit. I also applied for (and got accepted to) a language school, which also set me up with a host family.

So, after two more months of working in Santa Cruz, I found myself on an airplane on February 6, 2011, heading to a foreign country by myself for the first time ever. I’d been on two family vacations to Mexico when I was younger, but aside from that, I’d never left the U.S., and definitely not by myself.

Fountain at Parque Central from my first day in Antigua

I arrived at my host family’s house at nighttime and in a daze and immediately fell asleep. The next morning I woke up super early, ate breakfast with my host family, and stumbled through Spanish small talk.

Check out this excerpt I found from the blogspot.com blog I kept while I was gone to prove to my friends and family that I was alive–it perfectly sums up the minor breakdown I had while trying to unpack after breakfast that day:

after breakfast i kinda freaked out…everyone was at school or work and i had this moment like, what the hell am i doing, im all alone, im bad at reading maps and also directions, i dont have a working phone, i don’t speak fluent spanish, GOD I AM SO DUMB WHY AM I DOING THIS. but then i was like yo broski, this is what you’ve wanted to do all year. this is what they call “diving in headfirst,” and you’re here now, so put your big girl panties on and just dive. (yeah i talk to myself and yeah i call myself broski when i do it.)
so i dove!
and i got lost!
but im alive, hi.
and it was fun!

Once I pulled myself together, I spent a confusing but pleasant morning walking through the town’s cobblestone streets and stopping to look at every interesting statue, garden, or storefront.

From my blog post exactly six years ago

I’m not going to lie–my three months in Guatemala started out rough. Over the first few weeks, I dealt with getting ripped off, first while buying a phone to use while I was there and then while buying credit for my phone (multiple times), I fell ill to the point of being unable to eat or stand, and once I ended up on the wrong bus going to the wrong city with no map or phone credit.

When little emergencies happen in the comfort of your home country when your family is right there, they’re easier to deal with. When they happen to you when you’re completely on your own thousands of miles away, you have to deal with them yourself right then and there. And doing that made me way, way stronger.

After a month or so of being in Guatemala on my own, even though I had the best host family ever and a few housemates, I got pretty lonely. Everyone was doing their own thing, and I basically did the same activities every day–volunteer job, language classes–and read a lot alone in my room.

Two months in, my (incredible) Spanish teacher told me that there was another girl around my age from California at the same school who took Spanish classes in the morning (mine were in the afternoon), so one day I went to school a little early, and looked for a girl about my age.

I saw some girl reading by herself in the corner, so I walked up to her and said, “Hey! This is super random, but I’m from California, and I’m here by myself. My teacher told me there was another girl alone here from California, and that’s you, right?”

She said yes, and I asked if she wanted to hang out sometime, since we were from the same place and by ourselves, and she said okay.

24 hours later we were dancing at a club together making plans to climb Volcán Pacaya (one of the many volcanoes in Guatemala) the next morning.

The following morning, as I was ascending an active volcano with a girl I had met 48 hours earlier, she told me I had intimidated her when I first came up to her because I seemed so confident. She said she would have never just walked up to a random girl and asked if she wanted to hang out, and I realized that two months earlier, I wouldn’t have either.

Volcano climbin’

The chick who once had been afraid to go to a birthday party by herself and didn’t talk between 7th and 12th grades was now going up to people she didn’t know, asking them to hang out, and climbing volcanoes with them two days later. Whoda thunk!

The month that followed was my last one in Guatemala, and by far the best. While climbing the volcano, I met a bunch of people from all over the world, and for the next week, we all met at the same spot every night to hang out, play cards, drink wine and go to bars.

In my last two weeks in the country, I had my first experience staying in a hostel–and loved it (at Lake Atítlan), I rode horses at sunset on the most beautiful beach I’d ever been to (Monterrico), I went on a candle-lit cave tour despite the reviews I read online saying it was unsafe, and it ended up being amazing (at the Lanquin Caves), and I visited the beautiful, naturally turquoise pools of Semuc Champey–all with people I had just met.

At the Lanquin Caves – the only light we had was from the melting candles we were holding!

 

Hiking through the forests of Semuc Champey to get to the pools. It was too hot for clothes, so hiking boots and bikinis was the obvious choice.

I arrived back in California on May 5, 2011, a much, much more confident person. That confidence got me through five years of college, that confidence got me my bachelor’s degree in journalism, and that confidence got me to and from 13 more countries since then.

Since that first morning in Guatemala, arriving in a new country has always been exciting, and not scary, because I know I can do it–because I’ve done it before.

Traveling alone gave me confidence that I don’t think I could have gotten from any other experience. There’s nothing quite like showing up to a new country completely alone and having to learn how to navigate the city you’re in by yourself (especially if you’re directionally challenged like I am), getting sick, dealing with language barriers, etc. etc. etc.

Also, it’s waaay scarier thinking about traveling alone than it is once you’re there doing it.

If you wanna go, work work work, save up money for a plane ticket, put ya big girl panties on, and just dive.

Love,

Jessica

P.S. Here are some resources you can use to find people with whom to meet up and do things with once you’re there:

  1. Gapyear.com discussion board – membership to the site is free
  2. Tourlina – If you identify as a woman, this app helps you find other female travel companions (and no, I don’t work for them, I just think it’s a great idea)
  3. Backpackr – This app helps anyone find travel buddies of any gender

TL;DR: Traveling alone can be scary but also so worth it. 

Semuc Champey

Women Writers to Watch in 2017

Everyone and their mother has a travel blog these days, or at least an Instagram account packed with envy-inducing travel photos a-plenty.

With all the travel bloggers/influencers out there, it might be hard to pick which ones to keep up with and which ones to ignore.

Here are some of my favorite female travel bloggers and their online presences that are definitely worth checking out.

From www.blondeseashell.com

1. Nadine Rohner

Originally from Switzerland and now living and writing in Bali, Indonesia, Nadine Rohner covers all things Bali on her blog, Blonde Seashell: where to stay, where to eat, and everything else you might want to know about one of the most-Instagrammed tropical paradises.

Originally, Nadine said, her blog was just a way to keep in touch with her friends while she traveled, and was more about her personal traveling experiences instead of full of travel advice, as it is now.

Nadine said that several months ago, she decided to think of her blog as more of a business instead.

“I started writing about what to do and see instead of only writing about my personal daily life,” Nadine said.

Talk about an an envy-inducing IG account–Nadine’s Instagram is full of palm trees, tropical beaches, and the occasional pineapple that make you want to book a plane ticket to Bali ASAP.

Nadine said the #1 place she would love to travel to is the Maldives, the luxurious chain of tropical islands in the Indian Ocean.


Studio Classes without Studio Prices at 24 Hour Fitness!

2. Michelle Rick

Speaking of Bali, I featured Michelle on my blog in October when I posted her “Basic Bitch’s Guide to Bali.”

Michelle is currently based in California. On traveling, Michelle says, “The hardest part is going. You never really know what to expect, but that’s part of the fun!”

Michelle’s website also features a blog, full of advice regarding books, films, travel, and life in general.

“There are so many times I was nervous to board a plane to a place I’d never been, but it always turned out great,” Michelle said. “Not perfect, since there’s no such thing in travel, but great.”

High up on Michelle’s travel bucket list is Dublin, Ireland.

“When in doubt, just book the ticket and let life do the rest,” she says.

You can follow Michelle on Instagram here.

From travelhippies.in

3. Purvi Kamaliya

A self-described “travel addict,” Mumbai-based teacher Purvi writes her blog, Travel Hippies, to be more like a collection of stories than a blog. Most of her posts are to help readers plan trips to and around India. Reading her blog is like you’re talking to a friend who just got back from a trip.

“Traveling…is an adventure where you get out of your comfort zone,” she says.

Purvi would love to explore Croatia to see its “beautiful and secluded beaches, museums and cathedrals.”

Check out Purvi’s colorful Instagram here.

From www.memoriesabroad.wordpress.com

4. Lizzy and Eloise

Lizzy and Eloise are too mysterious to have last names. Like Madonna. Or Cher.

Or, they just didn’t tell me and don’t have them listed on their blog or IG, take your pick.

From Germany (Lizzy) and Australia (Eloise), Lizzy and Eloise decided to start their travel blog, “Memories Abroad,” when they were working as au pairs together in the U.S.

“We bonded over how much more we felt at home (in the U.S.) rather than in our home countries, so we decided to share this with others, along with our travel experiences,” Eloise said.

Eloise’s dream destination is Greece.

“As a child, I would always talk to my Nan about going to see the blue water and white buildings, and we plan to go together someday,” she said.
Lizzy said she wants to visit Australia so she can “make my childhood dream of walking up the stairs of the Sydney Opera House come true.”

Give ’em a follow on the ‘Gram.

Know any badass babe bloggers I missed? Lemme know in the comments!

 


S**t American Tourists Say: Iceland Edition

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first-ever edition of Shit American Tourists Say. Today’s episode focuses on what these most fascinating individuals say when placed in an environment they’re not used to. We’re not in Kansas anymore, folks. Here are the best things I overheard our lovely Americans say in Keflavik Airport in Iceland. Please note these all occurred within 20 minutes.

1. Passenger: “Where’s the big statue with the pot? I want to take a picture for the grandkids.”

Airline worker: “That’s straight down the hall, sir.”

Passenger: “Oh, that’s too far.”

2. “This is so messed up in so many ways.” – man outraged that he needed to wait for a bus to take him to the plane waiting outside #tinyairportproblems

3. “This is just taking so long. I need some liquor.” – 60-something year old woman, on the bus on the way to the plane

4. “They made me pay to check my bag, so I was like, OK, I can drink some liquor.” – the same woman, who clearly possesses a flawless sense of logic and reasoning

5.”I really like how they’ve designed the airport. It’s so modern.” – lady to her husband

6. *young woman takes selfies of self boarding plane, holds up entire rest of line*

7. “Well, I don’t know why they haven’t sat us together. Makes no sense to me.” – husband whose wife and three kids are sat close by but not directly next to each other, and there was a parent seated next to each child. (Yes, sir, because the airline obviously did it on purpose just to inconvenience you and your family of five.)

8. “Of course the ONE outlet that doesn’t work is under MY seat.”  – angry teenager (come on, Napoleon, like anyone could even know that.)

9. “Are we going to fly over Idaho? Hawaii? Alaska? Ohio?” – kid behind me to his mother

The “big statue with the pot.”


7 Travel Mistakes I Made–And How You Can Avoid Them

My first experience traveling alone hasn’t been anywhere near the disaster I (and my mother) thought that it would be. However, I did mess up a little, and I’m going to tell you all about it so you don’t do the same things.

No, this is not one of the mistakes. Traveling in a cow onesie is always a good call.

1. Make sure you know the visa requirements for wherever you’re going way before you go.

As romantic and adventurous as it sounds to semi-spontaneously book a one-way ticket to another country without any concrete idea of when you’re going back home, the friendly people over at Customs At Any Airport In Any Country Ever don’t like that very much. This is why I almost couldn’t board my Madrid-bound plane in Panama.

People travel without return tickets and/or a visa all the time, and not everyone gets in trouble, but you never know. It’s just a good idea to look up each country’s rules regarding visa and length of stay before you go. (That rhymes, by the way.)

A lot of countries require that you apply for a visa several months before you go, and that you do so in your home country. If, for example, you’re a non-European citizen planning a longer trip to Europe, read up on the Schengen Zone and its various rules about where in Europe you can go and how long you can stay there.

2. If you know for sure you are going to be gone for a long period of time, you don’t have a guaranteed place to live when you’re back, and you have a lot of stuff, sell it.

Since May 21, I have been paying for a storage unit in San Francisco every month to store my bed, dresser, desk and miscellaneous other items. It’s taking a toll on my bank account. I wish I had sold my stuff instead. Don’t get a storage unit! You’ll have more money for traveling!

3. Keep track of everything you spend. Little things add up, big time.

I had been working almost every day for four months, so when I went to Vitoria-Gasteiz in early October, I was able to bring a sizable wad of cash with me. I stayed with friends in Vitoria and my friend and I were mostly splitting 80 cent bags of pasta to cook for dinner so I didn’t think I had spent much. After staying there for six days, I booked a €7 bus to San Sebastian, three €13 nights in a San Sebastian hostel and a €44 bus back to Barcelona, which by my calculations shouldn’t have made a dent in my cash wad.

However, about a week after returning to Barcelona and resuming my normal practice of purchasing €1 beers from the dudes selling them in the streets, I realized I was in financial trouble.

I sat down, counted up everything I had spent in the 10 days I had been gone, and realized I had spent way more than I thought I had. (Beer, snacks, a spontaneous surfing lesson in San Sebastián…)

Write down everything you spend as you go along instead of doing it after the fact so you can keep yourself in check. I’ve done this before and it worked–I should take my own advice, geez.

Speaking of money:

4. If you’re planning on doing Workaway or another work exchange program, make sure you have another source of income or enough money saved up to get by.

Workaway and similar programs are a great way to stay in a new city for free. Basically, Workawayers agree to work for a certain amount of hours each week in exchange for a bed to sleep in and, usually, a meal or three every day. Workaway situations range from reception at a hostel to “come help me with my organic arugula farm in the South of France while I endlessly complain to you about my midlife crisis and my ex-husband just because I want someone to talk to.”

However, many people (read: me) may underestimate the amount of money in the bank (shawty what chu drank) it actually takes to be able to live comfortably (read: afford to eat more than once a day when the hostel you’re working at has free dinners) without another source of income. If you have enough money saved and/or you have another way of making that skrilla, Workaway away. Maybe avoid the arugula farm, though.

5. Before your trip, thoroughly read each airline’s carry-on luggage requirements and follow them as well as you can.

The setting is Berlin Schönefeld Airport at 5:30 a.m. on a weekday in mid-June, 2015. Our protagonist, Jessica, had been on a bar crawl until an hour and a half previously, had made the mistake of napping for half an hour, and now felt like absolute hell.

As she squinted in the sunlight starting to filter in through the windows, a lovely (Easy Jet) airline worker announced to the line of passengers that they would only be allowed to carry one item onto the flight with them-which means not a small backpack and a small suitcase, which were the items Jessica had with her, since most of the flights she was taking on her eight-week European jaunt were with Ryanair, and Ryanair was OK with two carry-on items if they both met the height and width requirements.

Jess and her five travel companions had read Easy Jet’s baggage requirements online previously, and four of her companions had decided before they got to the airport that they would check their bags, so they just threw them onto the conveyer belt when they went through security. Jess and her friend Elena, however, had been determined not to pay to check a bag, so they decided they would just “figure it out at the airport.”

So, here they were in the airport very shortly before their early-morning flight suddenly having to open their suitcases and see if they could also squeeze their backpacks in there and still meet the weight requirements for carry-on luggage.

(Spoiler alert: they could not.)

After a solid ten minutes of squishing and cramming, Jess and Elena were told they had to check their suitcases, which would cost them €70 and, from the looks of the line of others waiting to do so last-minute, would absolutely ensure that they missed their flight.

As Jess and Elena’s companions began to line up for boarding (hidden bulletpoint 4.5: don’t be this late for a flight), in a burst of panicky genius, our protagonist asked the airline worker if she and her friend could take out all of the clothes they had in their suitcases and wear them on the flight on top of the clothes they were already wearing, so their suitcases would be lighter and they could bring them on the plane.

The worker chuckled and said “sure, if you really want to.” So Jess and Elena began to pile on jacket after shirt after dress after shorts after skirt while both lines of passengers watched in amusement. Jess and Elena were each wearing four layers and sweating profusely when the attendant, who hadn’t quite stopped chuckling, said the suitcases were fine now and they could board their flight.

So wearing almost all of the clothing they had packed with them, and Jess holding her toiletries in a straw hat she’d picked up in Ireland, the two arrived safely in Amsterdam with their friends, without having to pay an extra cent for luggage.

That’s dedication right there.

A less dramatic verson of the same story happened, at the time of writing, roughly 20 hours ago, in which Jess straight-up did not try to find out WOW Airlines’ carry-on requirements until she was at the airport and had to pay to check her suitcase, which was eight kilos over the maximum. (Although that one was going to be hard to get around, as she had crammed the past six months of her life in there and it’s hard to make six months fit into five kilos, especially if a large part of those six months was a fluffy cow onesie).

Moral of the story: know each airline’s requirements and be prepared.

6. Don’t carry all of your cash AND your debit card AND your ID on you!

Seems obvious, right? Yeah, you’d think. I went through the wonderful experience of being mugged by three dudes in a park in Barcelona at 3 a.m. three weeks ago, and they took my purse, which contained 60 euros, my ID, my debit card, my iPhone, all my makeup, my headphones, and three colors of UV paint. Why did I have all those things with me, you ask? Because after traveling through 15 countries (16 if I include my own) without anything like that ever happening, it’s easy to get a little cocky. Don’t.

Carry a copy of your ID and not your actual one, carry your card OR cash, and absolutely do NOT carry all the cash you have in your life. As for the iPhone, I know I knocked Hank from Massachusetts before, but this might be where the tourist pouch comes in handy.

Or, don’t walk through parks late at night. Take your pick.

7. Bring airplane snacks-always!

No matter how late you think you might be to your flight, if it’s more than four hours, stop at a store and buy snacks! Airport food is expensive and there’s something about traveling that makes everyone hungry.

All of the those things being said, I am in one piece, and I have been having an amazing time. Traveling alone is awesome because you can do whatever the hell you want and not have to worry about what anyone else wants to do. Just use common sense and you’ll be good.

Got any solo travel shitshow stories? Hit me with ’em in the comments, I wanna hear!





Tourlina: The Tinder for Travel in Twos

In 2011, when I was fresh out of high school and not prepared to start college yet, I took a gap year in which I spent four months working in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California and then three months volunteering with a non profit organization in Antigua, Guatemala.

Since I had only ever been out of the country on two family trips to Mexico, my mother and I (mostly my mother) were a little scared for my safety and general well-being. My mother suggested I email the program director to get the names of other young women also working at the organization and then send them emails introducing myself, which is basically the ultimate Concerned Parent suggestion and didn’t end up panning out.

New friends in Semuc Champey, Guatemala. Photo courtesy of Angela Leuch.
New friends in Semuc Champey, Guatemala. Photo courtesy of Angela Leuch.

I made friends on my own when I got there, but the initial transition was rough. Both my mother and I probably would have felt a lot better if Tourlina had been around.

Founded by Michael Klumpp and Sandra Preuss, Tourlina is currently the only app specifically created for solo female travelers to find other women to travel with.

“Both [Klumpp and Preuss] have traveled alone, so we got the idea that something [like this] should be available in the market,” Klumpp said on the inspiration for the app. “There’s no women-specific travel app in the market…so we decided we should create it.”

Although it’s not relevant to dating at all, Tourlina is “like Tinder, except you create a trip and decide on a destination, country and a time period,” Klumpp said. “We thought [modeling the app off of Tinder] was the most up-to-date and safest way.”

Like Tinder, users can only create a profile by logging in through Facebook, so that the app admins can “check if [each user is] really a woman and not a fake account,” Klumpp explained.

Every user must be approved–i.e. deemed to be both a) female identifying and b) not a robot–in order to use the app. Once your profile is approved, you then “create a new trip” by selecting one of the 110 countries that Tourlina currently has in its database.

The app then has you select your preferred travel dates. Once you’ve done this, it lets you decide what kind of trip you’d like (spontaneous, planned, heavy on the night-life, nature-y, etc.) in order to find compatible travel companions.

When you come across someone you think you might want to travel with, swipe “right” on her, just like with Tinder, and if she thinks you look cool too, she’ll swipe right and you can start planning your trip together.

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Gondola rides in Venice are always better with a friend.

Tourlina has roughly 10,000 users from all over the world, mainly from the US and the UK but also a notable amount from Italy, the Philippines and Dubai, says Klumpp. The app is currently available in English and German, but a new version will be released in the beginning of 2017, which will also offer Spanish as a third language option.

Additionally, the new version will have a chat request feature (much like the one on Instagram), in which users can request to chat with another user even if they haven’t swiped right on each other. The app will also begin allowing users to see all other users within 50 kilometers from you and not just the ones with similar travel plans.

The app is currently only available for iOS, but will be available for Android as well starting in April 2017.

If you’re worried about traveling alone, give Tourlina a try. No awkward mother-prompted emails necessary.


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