Friday, September 19, 2014

Travel or Cable TV?


      Too many times you hear people say "I love to travel." And granted, a lot of us do love to travel, but then all the more often you hear, "But I just don't have the money." As the person puts their head down to tweet out they wish they could travel more on their brand new iPhone. I am frequently asked how do I travel so much, and how do I come up with the money for travel? To do one international trip per year my answer is fairly simple, get rid of cable or your smart phone.

    I should have a disclaimer, as of this year I finally do have a smart phone, BUT the only reasons I got it were as follows:

-My plan is discounted by a huge portion by my job (about the same I was paying for my flip phone)
-I make money off my phone blogging, writing to clients, etc
-My phone itself was free from a friend, and new phones are only $100 every year (assuming I don't go for the new models)

    Just getting rid of a smart phone would be enough money for the international flight you can't afford, an even better idea? Get rid of cable too! I haven't had TV for 12 years!!! I don't miss it at all, I will still go to the cinema, and occasionally I will watch some netflix on a tablet or something, but generally speaking I have no idea what shows are on, what celebrity gossip is going on, what reality shows are on, etc. And it doesn't make my life worse, it makes it better! I can still get news and sports from the internet, and would much rather go to a sports game than watch it on TV, of course sports bars are good too.

    But those two major expenses cost more than any one of my short (up to one week) international trips in a year. Because when it comes down to it, I don't love TV, and I don't love having the newest phone, I do love to travel. And I'd give up those two things in a second for it! Would you rather talk with your friends about a new show where the lead hero is in Thailand for a week, or would you rather be in Thailand for a week? How about watch some movie on your brand new smart phone about Russian dog sledding, or would you rather get an old smart phone, or even flip phone off eBay and go to dog sled in Russia? There are little things you have to look at in everyday life as budget travelers to decide what's more important, and what can you give up so you can travel more. A short list of other things I do:

-I drive a crappy car, and really barely use that as I walk, or bicycle most places
-I own a smaller house than I can afford easier than a big one, and have roommates
-I price shop anything that's over $20, from a backpack to car insurance
-When a trip is closing in I don't go to bars or out to eat as to save money for the trip
-I do seasonal work with 2nd or 3rd jobs so that the money is consistent seasonally, but does not interfere with travel
-I work tons of extra hours at my full time job so I can get longer vacations when it is time to travel.

    Think about the small things in life that you don't need, because if you really "love" travel, you won't talk about doing it one day when you have the time or the money, you will find a way to make it happen. And speaking of money... I regret a lot of purchases in my life as I'm sure most people do, but in all my travels, even my worst trips... I has never been one of my regrets.


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Friday, September 12, 2014

Brazil


    So as the regular readers know I will be releasing an ebook soon on How To Go To World Cup Russia 2018, that being said my experiences in Brazil for those people new to this blog were all during World Cup 2014. I traveled all over the country through many cities, however since a lot of it had to do with World Cup some of my Brazil travel tips may not apply. But anyway, here is my Brazil report.

      It's the center of South America, one of the largest countries in the world, and it was the center of the world in 2014 during the FIFA World Cup, I was blessed to catch so much of the action first hand, and football or no football, Brazil is still a great place to visit! Here's how I spent 1 month down there and spent about $5,000 (you could budget half if not going during World Cup) when all was said and done, I will leave out a lot some of the budget stuff here as it would only apply to world cup, but include the universal stuff :)


  • Street food is going to be your best friend, at least for awhile. I can't tell you how much eating chicken empanadas saved me money instead of going out to eat 3x a day. They were delicious, although of course after your 30th empanada it may be time for a change...
  • If you are with a group many restaurants offer a 2 pessoas (2 person option) being the stupid Americans that we were we had an awkward night when we didn't realize the four of us ordered food for 8! No wonder why the wait staff was giving us odd looks! But it's a good savings if you order right!
  • When you enter some bars, restaurants, or clubs they will give you a drink card/food card. This is not a free for all, it tracks what you buy and you pay when you leave. While I understand this helps against theft can you imagine the absolute shit show when you leave the bar with 40 other people at the same time?
  • Carnivale Tips! Ok granted I wasn't there for Carnivale, but the prices for World Cup were about the same I was told, that being said, it is extremely expensive, so consider using airbnb, that was our best accommodations, 2nd place VRBO, 3rd place hostels (all the budget hostels we stayed at were pretty bad, read those reviews on tripadvisor!), and finally hotels if you wanna splurge. I also had several Brazilians offer me a spot couch surfing which I ended up not needing as plans changed.
  • Carnivale or no Carnivale, Brazil is expensive. Especially the major cities in the tourist areas, a subway Sandwich meal might be as much as $12 USD. Carefully budget things out and try to avoid chain stores and find the good deals or load up on a buffet (opposite of what I'd advise in my fitness blog) so you don't have to go out to eat often.
  • If you speak Spanish, let me warn you, IT WILL NOT GET YOU BY WITH PORTUGUESE. I am fairly fluent in Spanish and was confident there would be enough cognates, or similar words that I'd have no problems in Brazil. I also thought that since it is bordered by so many Spanish speaking countries many Brazilians would speak Spanish. I was very wrong. Check out my tips for languages here.
  • The best things in life are free... The beaches is one of the main attractions in Brazil, while some cities had signs of poverty, crime, and despair, their beaches don't show it, the Brazilian people value their beach culture and it makes for an excellent day of playing soccer, going for a run, or just soaking up the sun and atmosphere.

  • Speaking of beaches my 2nd favorite stop on the tour was Florianopolis, this is one of the nicest cities I have ever been to in the World, in peak season of Brazilian summer you can find places up to $1000 a night, and some clubs charge a $2000 cover to get in!!! This is USD I am talking about! However we were lucky to go off season and enjoy it all for pennies on the dollar, paying $15 to get into classy bars and $1000 for the week for a house on the beach! If you don't mind missing the party scene of peak season I can't recommend a nicer spot to catch in Brazil to go in the off season!

  • Rio De Janerio and Sao Paulo are of course the biggest tourist cities, personally I didn't think they were the best, but certainly had great atmospheres and things to do. For Sao Paulo it is uncontested amongst expert travelers The Taste Of Sao Paulo Food Tour is the best way to soak up some culture and get a great bite to eat while learning about the history of the city. And of course for Rio Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf mountain, and who can forget the World Famous Copacabana Beach, where along with thousands of other fans we watched Germany win over Argentina. I would have loved to hang glide, but the weather was bad :( Two great cities to visit, but like I said, don't spend too much time there if you can make it out to see the rest of the beautiful country. Oh and don't be one of those guys that puts the same my arms are spread like Christ The Redeemer pic on your facebook that millions of others have.
  • Foz Do Iguacu, where else can you walk to 3 countries in one day and see the coolest falls in South America? Nuff said.
  • Be sure to do everything you can to catch a football/soccer game while you are down there! To not to do so would be like going to Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower.
       
  • You don't know a crowded bus until you have been to South America... I've mentioned this in other posts, but be ready to be packed like sardines, and watch your belongings for pick pockets. City buses are packed to the brink, BUT!!!!
  • Long distance buses between cities were super comfortable! I was pleasantly surprised by the long distance buses. You can even catch a good snooze on em, much better and more comfortable than an airplane seat.
  • Recife was where my Brazil journey began after a brutal combination of flights thanks to World Cup commotion. It's a great beach city but overall I'd say skip it unless you have a lot of time. Recife is more for Brazilians that live in the north east to go on holiday, so while it's a nice place, there are simply better spots to visit, and the beach has a lot of sharks!
    Boa Viagem Beach, Recife, Brazil
  • Personally, my favorite city of the many we went to, was hands down Salvador...

    Entering Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil
  •      Salvador is one of Brazil's most dangerous cities, shortly before World Cup police had gone on strike leading to a murder rampage, the poverty is there too, the streets are broken up, buildings in desperate need of repair and it's definitely not very clean. But for me, it was home. Like all struggling cities, in the midst of the madness you find the strength of the people surviving there. The reception to me, the low budget food, the beach soccer, the cheap day pass for the gym, and the friends made this place my favorite of the trip. I will warn it is not for everyone. It had your basics for tourism for a beach city, and certainly is dangerous. But being street smart, not going out late, and just watching your belongings (or doing what I do and don't bring expensive stuff in the first place) can make this a great part of seeing Brazil. To me it just reflected the people that built Brazil, the middle class and lower class that make this a country. 
  • Old City Salvador
          Sure, you have Rio and Sao Paulo, which we visited as well, but Salvador was something else, it was to Brazil what Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island are to New York City, I can't put it any better than that. My days were spent very simple, going to the $5 gym in the morning, go to the beach, hit the old city, go to a game, or the fan fest in the evening. It was the part of the trip we were all LEAST looking forward to, it had the least tourism things to to do options, it had the high crime, and my accommodation night one was the airport floor, followed by a living room floor the next night till I finally found a bed. But if I had it all to do again, I'd do it in a heart beat.
Salvador during Holiday Festivals

      All in all, it is such a big country to visit, if you have a lot of time see the whole thing, and if you don't make the most of the time you have. A country like Brazil is one of the many I have been to that has its rough sides, it's ludicrous prices, and some ludicrous people, but of course it also has it's beauty, in the country, and in the people.

                          

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Brazil World Cup Withdrawals...



     It hasn't even been a month since the World Cup ended, but already the feelings of withdrawals have hit me. Instead of checking the news on my phone every morning about the day's games, match stats, and tournament news I find myself reading about shootings, plane crashes, and the ebola virus, you know, all the happy news. It will be over a year until qualifiers start for USA, maybe 2? Of course we have the Gold Cup, and Copa America to look forward to, but nothing is like the world cup.



    It's just amazing how long it takes for the 4 years to pass and how quickly it goes by. I still remember sitting in an airport in Peru during an airline strike in 2013 and meeting travelers from Brazil and letting them know I would be there for the cup. I remember the hassle of the ticket process, but the rewarding feeling of scoring tickets to see Italy vs Costa Rica and Mexico Croatia. The early 3am wake ups to be on CET time zones, the forums, the trip planning, the tears of joy, etc.

    It was such a thrill to see the games I went to, as well as the excitement of the fan fests, and talking with other football fans for a month straight! Now that I am back in America I find myself correcting my vocabulary and saying "soccer" instead. I watch some youtube replays of the matches we went to, and look at my pics from the trip.


 Just 4 more years I tell myself... 4 more years... The best way to explain the World Cup to someone who is not a fan, is this, I have been in NYC for when the Yankees won the World Series (multiple times), I have been in NYC for when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, I have been in Phoenix for the Superbowl, and Phoenix for the Phoenix Open. All of those events combined... Does not even scratch the surface of the World Cup! I decided while I was down there that after following this sport now for over 20 years, I am not going to just make it about every 4 years. I am going to try to hit one MLS game a year, and see the national team as much as I can, be it friendlies in AZ or Cali, or the Gold Cup/Copa America if I am lucky! And more importantly, I know what I went thru on the planning of this World Cup and the ticket process, so for Russia 2018, I plan to share my knowledge and crack out an ebook for the masses to enjoy! I think you make around a quarter an ebook or something like that, so who knows, if I sell a million copies it may just pay for Russia 2018!!!




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Friday, July 18, 2014

Things That Suck About Travel


    It is true, I am a traveling addict, I love travel. People will always say they love travel, but they don't have money to travel, but they have an iPhone and cable, my reply is that then you don't love travel, you love an iPhone and cable, roughly the cost of one international trip in a year (at least). I love almost everything about travel, even things some people may not love, such as airports and crap hole hostels... But alas, there are some things that even I don't love about travel... Feel free to comment if I missed anything!
  • Flying in the seat... while I will say I love airports, they may have security issues, bad food, and war criminal priced merchandise (i.e. $30 headphones), I love the way the airport connects the world, the joy you see at the arrival gate, and the excitement at the departures... now the actual plane is another story. Flying as I have said before in this blog is modern legalized day human torture. Maximum security prisoners have more comfort than we get in an airplane, I've flow first class free of charge, and that's not even that good!!!
  • Toilet paper... You don't realize how much you love it until it's not there in a country. Don't forget to always have a spare in your backpack for 3rd world trips!

  • Immigration and customs forms, especially returning to the USA! Nothing beats coming back to your own country and having customs try to break open your African wooden sculptures for hidden drugs that don't exist.
  • Jet Lag, the price we must pay. Unless you pull an all nighter or are good with a nap, inevitably your first day or two on a long journey do not plan on keeping normal hours.
  • The gyms... as much as I have written about the failing American Healthcare System, on the other end, we have some people that just kick ass in fitness, and so do our gyms and facilities, most countries I have been to around  the world do not have quality gyms like in the USA, and if they do, they are rarely cheap.
  • Packing, unpacking, not enough room for packing. If it was possible to bring one outfit and wear it a month, I would gladly.
  • Lines... when you look back on a trip years ago you remember the blast it was, the fun, the adventure, you forget... the airport security line, the customs line, the taxi line, the line to check into the hostel or hotel, the line to get on a line for another line, only to realize you are in the wrong line.

  • Lets face it, this is your view... a lot.

  • And to make matters better, you know whatever you are paying the cabbie is 20-100% over the normal price.
  • Weight loss/weight gain. Lets face it you will either be emaciated due to a food borne parasite or being to broke to eat, or you will be indulging in foods you can't normally afford or find due to the country you are in.

    Bon appetit!
  • The first day back to work after a trip... Arghhhhh.......   :'-(
  • And of course.... No matter how awesome your trip is... You will inevitably miss your friends, family, bed, and food from back home. The only thing better than seeing the world, is having a home to come back to! 
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I am ready for USA in Brazil World Cup 2014!!!!

Will you be ready??? Can't wait!!!


24 days till I am in Brazil!!!! World Cup Updates, got tickets to the quarter finals!!!! Still trying for the finals, we shall see what happens.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Recife Team USA vs Portugal USA Fan Meet Up June 22nd!!!

                               

     June 22nd, 2014, USA will be facing off Portugal in Manaus, Brazil, for those of us that are in Recife for other teams games but want to support USA with fellow American fans a group of us on the internet will be doing a fan meet up at a bar in Recife, likely the Boa Viagem area to show our support for the team from a city not too far from where they are playing. If you would like to be a part of the fan meet up (location tba) please email me:  arizonafitness at inbox dot com.

USA USA USA!!!!!


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Friday, January 17, 2014

New Year's Eve In Venic Beach, Los Angeles

   Welcome to the City of Angels, for my annual New Years Trip with World Cup in the horizon I wanted to save some money and do an easy trip, so I packed a backpack and headed one state west to Los Angeles California. One of the immediate best aspects of this trip for the budget traveler was that for the 2nd biggest city in the USA if you are willing to stay outside of Hollywood, the hotel/hostel prices are barely jacked up. I've been there done that for the whole Hollywood scene, so I opted for a chill-axed holiday on Venice Beach staying at the wonderful Samesun Hostel right on the beach! For under $200 I did the flight and 3 nights in a 4 bed dorm without a car. Here's my scoop on LA for New Years, Venice Beach, LA on a budget, and LA in general:

  • Hollywood is cool... for a day or two. After you walk the Boulevard, spend your paycheck in a night club, and see the sign, it's time to move on.
  • Each beach has it's own different subset, or culture. Venice hippies, Malibu rich, Santa Monica family oriented, Hermosa clean, etc
  • Even the best areas of LA have affordable hotels or hostels you can easily find on expedia, orbitz, or hostel world.
  • Everyone says "You need a car!" Well you don't, of the 4 million + people that live there, many don't have cars. It definitely helps though, and the buses are definitely slow. But LA can be done without the car, just be prepared to spend some extra time.
  • Don't waste time and money at American chain stores, there are so many awesome restaurants in LA, notably on Venice Beach I went to Cairo Cowboy Mediterranean Grill on Westward Ave, the Pizza at Larry's is equally good (I indulged for my 1st hangover of 2014.
  • Rent a bike, for $10 for a couple of hours to less than $30 for a day you can cruise the whole coast in style while breaking a little sweat also, it's a beautiful ride and it's LA so the weather is usually decent.
  • Check the bars for happy hours, while it's definitely a pricey city, many places have great happy hour deals, in general the places on Venice Beach are a hell of a lot cheaper than the rest of the city.
  • Night time in Venice... Be careful, it's not the most dangerous place in LA but when you wonder off the main roads it's pretty desolate, if you wonder to the beach you will see many people there, but pretty much count on being the only person that has a roof over their head for the night. I've seen more homeless people on Venice Beach than most of the 3rd world countries I have been to.
  • Skate, train, surf, lift. So much physical activity to do on Venice Beach! Don't plan on it being a lazy day unless you are trying to get a prescription for medical Marijuana. You can train at the world famous Muscle Beach, or a short walk to Gold's Gym Venice. You can see world class skate boarders, gymnasts, and all around average Joe's getting in better shape.

  • The beach is not always crowded! If you get up a little early... like 8am, you can have the place to yourself!
                            
  • While you are here... If you have any future travel plans just about every consulate is in LA, got my Paraguay visa the same day! 
  • Souvenirs on Venice Beach are unlimited! I don't know how they can be so cheap, but grab some cool shades, some T shirts, a pic with a rollerskating guitar playing homeless dude, or some nice beach jewelry for some friends at home.

    Whether you come for a short stay or are here for the long run, be ready for a city that can throw anything at you. LA became what it is for a reason. It's sad to see the mix of poverty amongst the giant movie star mansions & Hollywood. Anyone whose lived in America is well aware of the gang violence here. Anyone knows here, this is no easy city to live in with extreme cost of living and an extremely fast pace. But for the traveler who is ready to see a city that has been thru so much and yet still underneath all the crime, poverty, and glutony, you can still find peace in the ocean, friendship among those who care about making a change, fitness in a time of a health epidemic, tastes of the world, art, music from world renown bands to a guy with an acoustic he probably found in a dumpster, singers, jugglers, glass walkers, sculptures built from beer cans, hip hop ensembles, palm trees, sands, and sunsets to live and die by. To Venice Beach, LA thanks for the very Happy New Year!


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Last sunset of 2013 in America