This is one of our favorite blog posts from 2020. Enjoy it again or for the very first time.
Lucky am I that I have tasted coffee all over the world, in fact, in 110 countries. Wow that is a lot of countries and a lot of coffee. I’ve been able to narrow down my favorite coffee around the world. I do love coffee and although there has been many countries where the coffee was downright lousy or non-existent, luckily there have been many countries where it was delicious and abundant.
We are currently hunkered down on the island of Cyprus, where coffee rules. Cypriot coffee is much like the coffee of Turkey or Greece, and is usually made in a Cezva, a metal cooker with a long handle and a pouring lip. The coffee in Cyprus is arabica coffee and is ground so fine it is almost like a powder. Traditionally cooked in sand over an open fire, many traditional houses will still make the coffee in a machine that uses sand very hot, then place the Cezva into the sand and bring the coffee to boil twice.
I had never seen coffee made in this manner and it was something fun and new to see.
Cyprus is another of a long list of countries who know how to make good coffee, even though they don’t grow their own beans. Many countries with the best coffee don’t grow beans. It’s all in the way it’s prepared.
So I thought today I would share with you all my favorite coffee around the world, in addition to Cyprus. Some of the worlds best and most delicious. Whatever you call it; java, joe, mud, cuppa, brew, cafe, octane, rocket fuel or juice – here is my favorite coffee around the world.
I visited France in 2007 and despite the Starbucks phenom in the USA, France was the place I had my first and most memorable cup of real good espresso. And I didn’t have just one. I drank so many cups of espresso during my ten day visit to Paris and northern France. I learned how much I love a deep, dark rich cup and I have loved it ever since.
Most people think of espresso as Italian, and certainly they are credited with the invention of the espresso machine. I loved this amazing coffee here as well, and was a bit confused by the social etiquette surrounding your morning coffee. Most baristas were kind and assisted this silly American.
My 2008 trip to Ethiopia remains one of the highlights of my travel life, and learning the complicated process the Ethiopia Coffee ceremony encompasses is one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. Ethiopians strongly claim their country as the birthplace of coffee, and they take the ceremony of coffee very seriously. You can’t be in a hurry for your morning cuppa here…but it is very much worth the wait.
The beautiful island country of Zanzibar (actually a self-governing island of Tanzania) has many coffee plantations as well as beautiful and interesting spice plantations. On a tour of one of these plantations we learned a lot about the coffee culture of Zanzibar and enjoyed drinking the rich dark brew at Zanzibar Coffee next to our hotel.
There are so many things I love about Morocco, including the food, and the coffee is high up on that list of favorite things. We drank it in all parts of the country and it was rich and delicious no matter where we were. Moroccans could be found drinking it morning and night, but for me I had to stick to the morning, or I would have been awake all night long.
Another country that really knows how to do coffee is Greece. Like other European countries coffee often comes with a “biscuit” for dipping, and a cup of beautiful dark coffee in the afternoon was my favorite mid-day treat.
This photo does not do justice to the coffee we had in Qatar. We transited through Qatar and spent only one night, and enjoyed on the morning of our departure what I can say is hands down the best breakfast I have ever eaten…including a pot of delicious brewed dark coffee.
We spent a month in Vietnam and really grew to love the coffee there. Often served with sweet milk, but you could order it without, the local coffee was almost always served in a clear glass cup without a handle.
When we returned home after our month in Guatemala we brought with us six pounds of coffee…now one of my favorite coffee around the world. The production of coffee is big in many Central American countries, but of all the countries we visited we liked Guatemalan coffee the best.
So there you have it, my favorite coffee around the world. I can’t wait to continue my coffee culture research when we can start traveling again and continue our ’round the world travel. Coffee makes me happy!
We all have some kind of fear. Our fears are the thing that often keeps us from pursuing our dreams. Fear of failure. Fear of spiders. Fear of flying. Fear of inadequacies. The first thing to overcome your fear is to acknowledge it. And that is exactly what I did. Because I was, and still am, afraid of flying.
Travel and Fear
About thirty years ago we had a bad experience on a flight. We lost an engine. We had an emergency landing that involved lots of firetrucks and the plane was doused with flame retardant. Yep…it was frightening and it changed me into a fearful flyer.
I worked really hard to overcome this fear…it took me a long time. I was embarrassed about my fear and didn’t want to seem weak. But for me travel was far more important than fear, so I persevered. I studied and found ways to acknowledge and address my fear. The best way I did this was with a book called Flying Without Fear by Duane Brown.
Your fear could be very different than mine, but it still may be the thing that is keeping you from Becoming a Traveler. Finding your fear, and finding a way to fearless travel – conquering your fear – will be different for each person. No matter what your fear is, acknowledging it is your first step to opening yourself up and stepping forward.
Travel With Someone You Trust
Once you acknowledge your fear, whether it’s snakes or flying, talking to someone you trust is the next good step. And finding someone who understands your fear who can travel with you is your goal. I am lucky to have my husband who holds my hand during take off. Who might you have who can help you conquer your fear? Your fear might just be the unknown of stepping out of your box. Take a friend, a family member or find a like minded traveler who you can be honest and open with. Together is the best way to exit your comfort zone.
As you step forward towards becoming a traveler, look to destinations that give you peace of mind. You don’t need to go to unusual places…start slow and find places that offer the amenities that make you comfortable. As you grow in your comfort as a traveler you can then grow too, to explore more destinations that reach further from where you began.
Don’t try to do too much – 15 cities in 14 days? Forget about it. Find one destination (or maybe two) where you can settle in and get to know the place. Allow yourself lots of time to sleep and relax because jet lag and travel fatigue can increase your fears. Eat healthy and drink lots of water. Then take your time to explore at a pace that works for you.
Travel Fatigue is real – I know! And it can cause you problems whether you are on a short trip or are a full time nomad. Being aware of what it is and how it affects you is an important part of travel. Learn more about it here – Travel Fatigue Explained
Fearless Travel – Conquering Your Fear
With each trip your confidence will build and you will conquer your fear…or at least learn to manage it. That is what I have done with flying. Over the past seven years I have take 172 flights for a total of 253,130 miles flown!
And I’m afraid of flying! If I can do it so can you.
Acknowledge your fear. Find someone to talk to about it. Connect with a travel partner. Go slow and have fun!
I absolutely love writing this blog post each year, even though it takes me weeks to put it together. It is fun for me to reminisce about another amazing travel year! I hope it’s fun for you to read and enjoy the awards we bestow on our favorites and the best of the best from our year of travel; the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022.
Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022
I’m surprised that I am already talking about the “sixth annual” travel awards 2022! We are now well into our seventh year of travel as part of The Grand Adventure and still no end in sight. What a remarkable ride it has been. As I write this post, I’m in the country of Honduras – our 123rd country.
Malta was such a pleasant surprise. Beautiful, ancient and surprisingly inexpensive. We had planned to visit Malta in 2020…so that didn’t happen of course. We were very happy to get it back on our itinerary. Malta has a very interesting and ancient history. Valletta where we stayed was a fascinating walled city and we just loved everything about it. We highly recommend our favorite country of 2022 – Malta!
Favorite City – Jerusalem, Israel
Returning to Israel, after fleeing in March of 2020 when the Pandamit was closing everything, was a high priority. So it was a true blessing to get back to this fascinating country. This time we based ourselves in the astonishing city of Jerusalem and I am so glad we did. What an incredible place to visit and we absolutely loved everything about beautiful and fascinating Jerusalem.
Cutest Town – Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, USA
Sturgeon Bay in Door County Wisconsin was such an unexpected surprise as I visited with two good friends for a long weekend. We lucked out by choosing Sturgeon Bay as our home base. Colorful, centrally located and lots of wonderful things to do, July in Sturgeon Bay was a real treat.
Favorite Island – Moorea, French Polynesia
High on our list for a return visit, the small French Polynesian island is a short ferry crossing from the larger and more populated island of Tahiti. We loved our cute Airbnb bungalow in Moorea, and found the island a wonderful and relaxing destination. We really hope to return in 2024.
Most Expensive Country – USA
The United States continues to be an expensive destination for us, compared to so many places we travel around the world. Especially given our long visit to the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii which really ratchets up our daily average. We also had a long visit to New York City which is also very expensive, so all in all, this year the award for most expensive has to go to the United States on our list for the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022.
Least Expensive Country – French Polynesia
Our two months on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia was really inexpensive. Granted we were there in the off-season, but if you compare to other tropical places we have visited, French Polynesia can be downright cheap. Our choice of simple accommodations and living frugally really puts Moorea on our wishlist to return for great price, friendly atmosphere, and natural beauty.
Accommodations – 10 Airbnbs, 22 hotels and one desert camp
Favorite Airbnb – A Tie between Moorea and Valletta Malta
We have had several experiences over the years where we have become friends with our Airbnb hosts and our host Maea in Moorea was one of the best hosts we have ever had.
Most Expensive Airbnb – New York City.
Everything in New York City is expensive. Trying to find a place to stay for our two week visit was difficult, with prices in every neighborhood outrageous. Our very teeny Airbnb space in the Upper East Side was more like a closet than an apartment, but we loved the location so it certainly had that going for it. $230 a night.
Best Value Airbnb – Moorea French Polynesia
With a kitchen, two bedrooms, parking, beach access with great snorkeling and the best host, we have nothing to complain about with our Airbnb on the island of Moorea. $75 a night – which was a substantial discount for our extended two-month stay.
This very unique, but slightly expensive, lodging in the teeny French village of Giverny was a wonderful pit stop on our September whirlwind tour. Walking distance to Monet’s Gardens, we loved this rural little farm hotel and the breakfast was fantastic. Highly recommend O’ Plum ‘Art.
Most Expensive Hotel – Hilton Logan Boston
Ridiculously expensive relative to our normal hotels, the Hilton at Logan International Airport in Boston is certainly convenient but expensive. $390 a night.
With the kindest proprietor, the Riad we stayed in for the wedding of our friends in Fez was both inexpensive and very authentic. Beautiful five story old house with central courtyard and roof top area, located in the beautiful old city of Fez. $45 per night with breakfast! When in Fez stay at Dar Abdesalaam.
This was our second time doing an overnight camel trip in the Moroccan Sahara. Without realizing it, we booked a very different camp this time…with more amenities. This time we had electricity!! It was warmer too, being May instead of November so we were very comfortable. A two hour camel ride (gorgeous) a full queen bed, delicious dinner, music around the campfire and a fantastic breakfast. We loved every minute of it.
Best View Accommodations – Kihei Surfside Maui
Not a hotel or an Airbnb, the Kihei Surfside in Maui is one of our most favorite destinations in the world, precisely for the view. There really is nothing like it.
Honorable Mention – Cyprus
Returning to one of our all time favorite Airbnbs was a special treat – the ONLY Airbnb we have every returned to so far. We returned to thank our Cyprus Airbnb hosts and see the sights we were not able to see when we were locked down on the island of Cyprus early during the PanDamit. The view, the neighborhood, the hosts, the pool….we love this place so much. We just might visit again!
Food and Drink
Favorite Country Cuisine – Israel
Mediterranean style food is always my favorite, and the amazing combination of Mediterranean, middle eastern and everything fresh and local makes the foods of Israel the best. Israel has the best hummus in the world and I could (and did) eat it everyday.
We try to do food tours in as many countries as we can, so we definitely have some experience in this category. And our food tour, and our guide in Marrakesh was one of the absolute best we have ever had in any country. At $50 per person we more than ate our weight in every Moroccan delicacy learning so much about food, culture and history. We loved our guide Yahya who made the tour so much fun!
I’m so glad I stumbled on to Food Cook Lab Tahiti, a local, organically focused cooking school. Arne and I took a Tahitian cooking class, which was so phenomenal, I signed up for a second class about fish. Everything I learned was amazing, delicious and so much fun. I loved the flavors of French Polynesia.
Our lovely boutique hotel in Giverny was associated with this restaurant Le Jardin de Plumes and though more expensive than we would usually choose…it was worth every penny. A very unique tasting menu of the chefs choice. The best way to describe it is food as art. Beautiful and delicious.
Best Beer – Bend Oregon
Our third visit to Bend Oregon, we always make time to try new breweries when we visit this lovely town. One of the best beer towns in the Pacific Northwest and that is surely saying something.
Last year we visited a different Maui distillery, Ocean, but this time we discovered Hali’mail’e Distillery in Upcountry where they use local pineapple juice for their products. We enjoyed it and recommend it.
Best Coffee – Morocco
As you know I love my coffee, and real Moroccan coffee is right up there with some of the best in the world…deep, dark, rich Arabic coffee often lightly spiced.
Best Overall Cultural Experience – Shabat dinner Jerusalem
This experience, having Shabat dinner with a local Jerusalem family, is not only our fondest memory of Israel, but one of fondest memories of all our travels. I am not Jewish but always hope to understand all faiths, particularly when in a country. Warmly welcomed by Osnat and Shaul into their beautiful home with a handful of other visitors as well as students from the local university. This lovely, authentic, delicious and religious experience will live forever in our hearts. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Most Authentic Cultural Experience – Kayar Fishing Village Senegal
As we drove several hours to this unknown destination in terrible Senegalese traffic I began to regret this tour. But in hindsight, it was the most amazing thing we did in the country of Senegal. The thousands of locals processing millions of fish on the beach…men, women and children…was colorful and almost like a festival. Our guide Oumar from Senegal Odyssey Tours was excellent and took exceptional care of us during our two days with him.
A couple years ago, one of my favorite books of the year was The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman , a fictional book about the factual siege of Masada in Israel. So visiting Masada was a top priority for me, and it did not disappoint. We visited on a scorching hot day but the Masada National Park is truly remarkable, a UNESCO World Heritage site with astonishing history.
Most Unexpected Ancient Ruins – Cyprus
Cyprus is so full of surprises…so much ancient history that rivals some of the best known historic ruins around the world. We really found the UNESCO Paphos Archeological site beautiful and staggering.
Long on my bucket list, and one of the things we canceled due to the PanDamit, to finally see this astonishing gardens was a dream for me. I loved the raucous and riotous collection of flowers, and of course, the ponds so famously depicted in Monet’s work. This was an easy choice for the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022, Monet’s Giverny and a Wee Bit More.
We could have done this walking tour self-guided, but I am so glad we decided to have a guide. Our guide was in the city on September 11th and had so much amazing insight for us to understand about Ground Zero prior to us going into the 911 Museum.
There are many, many options for group tours that take you across the disputed border from Jerusalem to Palestine. But I thought a private tour, for such an important event would be better. I wanted a local who could really guide us expertly through the eyes of a Palestinian. It was a fascinating day. I highly recommend Michael of Michael Tours.
If you are ever in Morocco, absolutely hire Lhoucine with Marrakesh Camel Tours. Doing this four day tour with our two adult sons was as memorable as it could be, and our tour guide was one of the best we have ever had anywhere in the world.
We were recommended to this tour by another tour guide who we met two years before in Cyprus. It sounded like a fun way to see the interesting capital of Cyprus, Nicosia. And we had a blast. I highly recommend Nicosia Segway Tours.
Best Sunrise – Moorea
Every morning I had my solitary moment with The Mug and the sunrise.
Best Sunset – Maui
Every night we watched the sun go to bed and it was always an amazing performance.
Best Beach – Moorea
Yes the beaches of Hawaii are amazing, but Moorea really was something special. Our favorite beach was a crystal clear white sand park called Ta’ahiamanu Public Beach.
Best Hike – tie; Washington State, Jersey
Hiking is a big part of our life, and we try to hike once a week no matter where we are. Our home state of Washington is one of the best places in the world to hike and we have half a dozen favorites we go back to over and over. Our time on the tiny island of Jersey in the English Channel also offered us one of our most memorable day hikes in September.
We spent several days on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. Though the weather was wet, we did the low-tide crossing hike from Guernsey to the tiny island of Lihou. This was a very unique experience and worth getting drenched for.
Best Natural Sight – Sahara Desert
Not our first venture into the Sahara, but it still is a mind-boggling sight to see and the overnight camel tour is something everyone should do at least once in their life time.
Again, gratitude to the beauty of my home state and all its national sites, including the National Monument of Mount Saint Helens. We hadn’t visited Mt. St. Helens in many years and thoroughly enjoyed our day hiking in this national monument. Fascinating.
Best Wildlife Viewing – Maui
From whales to sharks, turtles to wild pigs, tropical fish to deer and the omnipresent chickens, Maui is a surprising place for wildlife viewing.
Best Bird-Watching – Antigua
As we travel we have become amateur birdwatchers and really enjoy it. We were very surprised by the variety of beautiful birds we found on the island of Antigua.
Best City Park – Central Park NYC
We plan to return to NYC next spring, and staying near Central Park is a high priority. New Yorkers cherish this park and it really is the heart of the city. I love it too for morning runs, afternoon strolls, people (and dog) watching, live entertainment and bird watching just to name a few reasons.
Best Snorkeling – Moorea
We LOVED our little bungalow on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia for many reasons…including access to snorkeling. Stepping right outside our door we could swim out about 60 yards to a remarkable reef with some of the most astonishing coral I have seen anywhere in the world.
Best Golf – Maui
Our home course of Maui Nui in Kihei is where we golf every time we visit this island and I had my best score ever this year!
Best Place to Run – Maui
I trained for and ran a half marathon (again) while on the island of Maui. Sidewalks, street lights, safe and beautiful, Kihei is my favorite place in the world to be a runner.
Hottest Day – Palestine
Our day trip from Jerusalem to Palestine was one of the hottest days of our year with temperatures well over 100F. The desert was still and treeless and we swooned.
Coldest Day – Maine and Washington
Just days before departing for two months in tropical French Polynesia we had a giant snowstorm at our home in Washington State. And when we arrived in Maine in September for a college reunion/camping trip, Hurricane Fiona off the coast pounded Maine with rain, wind and very chilly temperatures. My body responded with one of the worst colds I’d had in years – made a pilgrimage to Walmart to get some warm clothes!
Wettest Day – Moorea
Arriving in Moorea mid January to monsoon conditions our first week created a lake in our front yard, massive mosquitos and cool temperatures. Luckily it cleared and we loved our time in Moorea.
Windiest Day – Maui
Thanksgiving Day was one of the windiest Maui had seen in a long time with gusts blowing everything around including people. The only time in our two months on the island we ate our meal indoors with the doors closed.
Longest Travel Day – Cyprus to Seattle
Returning to Seattle from Larnaca Cyprus involved two flights and a stop in London for a total of 6840 miles.
Shortest Flight – Guernsey to Jersey
Originally we were going to take a 3 hour ferry from Guernsey to Jersey, but when we realized the flight was only slightly more expensive we booked it. Total flight time take off to touch down: 10 minutes 30 seconds.
Craziest Travel Day – Morocco
We flew to Dulles Airport from Turks and Caicos where we met up with our two sons who flew in from Seattle. We should have only had a three hour layover but due to a terrible storm we ended up being delayed for another 5 hours. Amazingly when we finally arrived in Casablanca our driver was still waiting for us. What a sight for sore eyes that was.
Weirdest Event – Shark Attack
A very sad and scary event while we were on the island of Maui was the death of a snorkeler who was attacked by a Tiger Shark. We felt so bad for her husband and family.
Strangest Experience – Disputed Border Crossings
This year we crossed two disputed borders; Israel to Palestine where Israelis soldiers were heavily armed and a bit rude as they guarded a 40 foot wall; and Cyprus to Northern Cyprus where UN forces keep the peace between Greek Cyprus and the disputed occupied Turkish Northern Cyprus.
Bucket list – Palestine and Israel
Since I was 12 years old I had wanted to go to Israel and Palestine. I feel very blessed to have visited.
Best Celebration – 40th Anniversary
While in Maui we had a wonderful 40th wedding anniversary celebration, in fact two. The first with our friends from home who were on the island as well as our friends from Molokai who came to join us at Mama’s Fish House. The second, just Arne and I, at the incomparable Merriman’s at Kapalua. I hope to do that again on our 80th anniversary.
Favorite Photo – Senegal
I take thousands of photos…I mean it – thousands. So choosing a favorite is hard. This year I choose this one. The color. The culture. The authentic feel of hard work and community. And that baby.
Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022
There you have it. The best of the best of My Fab Fifties Life travel of 2022. Amazing, memorable and unique experiences with new cultures and experiences around the world. What a grand adventure it is. We sure hope you will consider visiting some of these places and enjoying some of these unique experiences too.
As I post this annual awards I am in the country of Honduras…my 123rd country. Our travels in 2023 currently are planned for us to visit at least a dozen and maybe more as we explore and find the rich and rewarding destinations, people, experiences, foods and beauty of this amazing planet we call home.
I hope you have enjoyed the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022. We hope you will continue to follow us around the globe, comment, pin and share this post so others can follow as well. Thank you and be fabulous. Our blog is nearly ten years old…it wouldn’t be possible without all of you.
Gonna take this week off and just enjoy celebrating my 63rd birthday! Happy Birthday to Me! Thanks for all the well-wishes this week. The best gift would be you sharing this blog to your family and friends. They can subscribe at this link. I will be back next week with our ANNUAL TRAVEL AWARDS – 2022!
It won’t be easy, but there are ways to enjoy Maui on a Budget. And through the years I have discovered several things you can do to save money. Hopefully, some of these suggestions will give you a positive visit to this beautiful island paradise without breaking the bank. So here are our suggestions for Maui on a Budget.
When to Come
Choose to visit the island during the off-season and absolutely don’t come over the Christmas holidays. July-October is a great time to visit and the island is quieter and you will have a wide choice of accommodations.
Where to Stay
There are many, many condos available for rent and you will find it less expensive to stay in a condo than in a resort. By renting a condo rather than a hotel you can cook most of your meals and not blow your budget on eating out. Condos usually offer great pools and barbeque area for guest use.
If you have a Costco membership use it. Although the Maui Costco can be very busy, you can really save money by shopping there. We did price comparison on cases of beer and it was astonishing. Gas at the Maui Costco is also much less.
We also found prices at Foodland and Times grocery stores were less than Safeway.
It’s pretty hard to visit Maui without a rental car. Unless you are only staying for a couple of days I highly recommend you get a car. But there are several rental agencies on the island renting older model cars for much less. We have used Kihei Rent a Car several times. The cars we have rented are Nissans, about ten years old, run great and get us where we need to be. About $39 a day this last visit as compared to $99 at the more well-known brand name rental agencies.
Consider eating at some of the local food truck villages that have popped up around the island over the past few years. Maui has tons of food truck options now including in Kihei, Kaanapali, Wailuku, Kahalui and more. Read this for more.
Before you spend $50 at Costco to buy a beach chair, double check with your condo to see if they have chairs available. Many condos have chairs, snorkel gear and even boogie boards available for their guests.
If you need to rent or purchase, check out the local family that sells used equipment in their front yard, located in the 1000 block of Front Street in Lahaina. I have not purchased here but they offer chairs, boogie boards, pool noodles and floats and sometimes snorkel gear at a reduced (gently used) price. Why buy new and then discard? Recycle and reuse is the way to go!
The beaches are free of course (did you know every beach in the state of Hawaii is a public beach) and many beaches are great for snorkeling. You don’t need to pay for an expensive tour to Molokini to see beautiful fish and coral. Check out this list here.
Now you won’t get up close and personal, but from late November – March you can whale watch right form the beach. There are 10,000 humpback whales that visit the waters between Maui, Lanai and Molokai every winter. With so many whales it’s not difficult to see them from the beach or from the look out point located on the Honoapi’ilani highway between Kihei and Lahaina.
Hiking is free and there are some wonderful hikes on Maui. Check out our post Six Great Hikes on the Island of Maui. A Maui hike also affords you the opportunity to bird watch, whale watch and enjoy the local flora of this island. By the way, if you are a Senior and have an America the Beautiful National Park Pass be sure not to leave it at home. The pass will save you the $30 entry fee into Haleakala National Park.
Luau’s are expensive, and when you are trying to do Maui on a Budget they are out of the question. But if you want to see a free hula show during your visit, there are several places that offer shows at different times depending on the time of year. Lahaina Cannery Mall, Maui Mall, Whaler’s Village, Four Seasons Resort Wailea and Kaanapali Beach Hotel all have shows sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines. See the schedule here.
Other Cool Stuff
Visit Ho’okipa to watch the surfers….its absolutely remarkable and its free. While you are there you will probably also see turtles. This is the beach you can almost always be guaranteed to see turtles hauled up and sunning themselves on the beach. We have also seen the Hawaiian Monk Seal sleeping on the beach here. A rare treat. Remember…the seal and the turtles are protected…stay back and enjoy from a distance.
A lot of people try to go to Haleakala for sunrise. I admit it’s a cool thing to do. But sunset is easier and free. There are dozens of places to watch the sunset from Makenna to Kapalua, for free.
Maui on a Budget
Yes you can do Maui on a Budget with a little frugal planning. It’s worth it to enjoy this island paradise, even if you are watching your pennies. Maui No Ka Oi!
I get asked a lot of questions regarding our travel life. The most often question is what is our favorite country? Answer – I don’t have a fav…but I do have a top ten (Bulgaria, New Zealand, Myanmar, Guatemala, Vietnam, Namibia, French Polynesia, Cyprus, Malta, France). The second most often asked question is about getting started. Many people just can’t figure out the steps needed and need a little nudge to help. People we meet often show interest, surprise, envy, jealousy, horror and confusion over our long term travel life. But most of all they are curious. And the curiosity is about becoming a traveler. How to make the leap?
Getting Started In Travel
There are as many kinds of travel as there are travelers. Our long term travel (longest 18 months, shortest two months) fits our comfort level, tolerance and budget. But it’s not for everyone. Other people are more suited to solo travel, short-term travel, organized tour travel, female group travel, or niche travel such as yoga or bird-watching or food travel.
So before I can help you in getting started in travel, you need to do some personal soul searching to narrow down what kind of traveler you think you are. What is your tolerance level? Consider everything from beds to cultural customs when considering your personal tolerance for traveling outside of the United States. Do you have phobias? Afraid of bugs? Snakes? Rodents or people not like you? Are you afraid of cultures where everyone isn’t white? Are you willing to eat new foods, communicate in languages other than English and squat to go to the bathroom? Give it a think because, even if you aren’t traveling full-time, you still gotta be open, willing and fairly fearless while being smart, observant and adventurous.
What Kind of Traveler are You?
When the idea first sprouted to become full-time travelers, I knew immediately we would do it. Without a question I knew it was right for us. All while knowing it isn’t right for everyone. That’s why you need to find your comfort zone. Only you can do that. And realize you may start out as one kind of traveler and morph into another as you broaden your horizons. That’s a good thing.
Before we embarked on the first phase of the Grand Adventure in 2016 we spent several years preparing. We had to sell our house, get organized, and figure out what we wanted out of this new lifestyle. It took some soul searching, and frankly it continues to evolve each and every year. But in the beginning our choices had a lot to do with budget.
Once you know your tolerance level and have some idea of your comfort zone, that in turn will help you determine your budget. If you are only willing to stay in upscale American style hotels, then your budget will need to look very different from ours. To sustain our travels we travel very frugally. We don’t need fancy hotels with room service. But if you do, put it in your budget.
Who Do You Want to Be?
Our travels have us staying in primarily Airbnb’s that average about $70. And honestly if you are only willing to stay in American brand hotels with 700 thread count sheets and someone to cater to your every whim – well, you should just stay in the USA. Because you will miss the most rewarding part of international travel – getting out of your comfort zone and expanding your world view. However, if USA travel is your desire…go for it. There is a lot to see in the United States. One good way to do that is to become an RV Traveler. So before we tackle budget let’s talk about some of the different kinds of travelers;
Like myself and my husband, many retired folks go all in on travel…either long term or short. If you are new to travel and retired you might consider starting out with a group tour or a cruise to “get your feet wet” before launching out more broadly. My friend Linda and her husband are retired travelers from Canada and I recommend Linda’s blog and social sites to learn how they make it work. Follow Linda and reach out to her at Retired and Traveling.
Solo Female Traveler
As a blogger I have had the opportunity to become friends with other bloggers and there are many solo female travelers out there. As a solo female it can feel a bit daunting to get started, feel safe and not get lonely. I recommend getting to know my friend Sue. Sue has a wonderful backstory as to how she became a solo female traveler when she lost her husband. I recommend for anyone considering adventure travel, solo or not, to engage with Sue on her website and socials. Learn more at Sue Where Why What.
Packing for travel is one of the questions I get so often! It can seem overwhelming trying to figure out what to pack for either short term or extended travel. So meet my friend Katherine. She is a Kiwi (New Zealand) solo traveling light and she blogs about it and has a book coming out next month called Dare to Travel Solo! Learn how she pulls it together here at The 5kilo Traveller
Full Time Traveler
Full time travel is not everyone’s goal, however once you get comfortable with travel you might find the concept appealing. Becoming a nomad, especially in this day and age where you can work remotely from nearly anywhere, a life of full-time travel is more accessible than ever. My friend Heather left the corporate world to become a full-time traveler and she never looked back. In addition to her blog and socials, she now teaches others how to make it work as a full time traveler. She has a very active Facebook Group called Full Time Travelers and Nomads and a Ted Talk. Find out more about Heather at Heather Begins
How to Budget.
We have a daily budget of $220 all-inclusive for two people (transportation, lodging, food, entertainment and misc). At first glance that might seem like a lot, but flights alone over the years have averaged $40 per day (amortized). This budget is enough for most places (Asia, Africa, Latin America) and not enough for a few places (parts of Europe and the USA), but we are frugal and hope it all evens out. To stay on budget we plan ahead, look for discounts and deals, fly in economy and often don’t rent a car. We cook most meals, eating out about once a week. And the remarkable thing is, we live significantly less expensively while traveling than we did in the USA before we embarked on this new life.
Now in year seven of our Grand Adventure (despite putting everything on hold for an entire year during Covid) we have learned a lot about how to long-term travel efficiently. Some of this knowledge can be applied to any kind of travel, not just long-term. So listed below are some “details” on getting started in travel. Most of these things we have had to learn on our own – so if this list can alleviate any work for someone else considering traveling abroad full-time or traveling solo or just taking a trip then our work here is done.
PURGE – we started our purge process more than two years before we put our house on the market, as we let go of nearly every bit of fluff we owned, including house, cars, boats, trailer, furniture and more. We put our remaining possessions in a 10×12 storage unit for three years. After three years we purchased a small condo to have a place to come home to in the summer. That was a blessing when Covid hit. When we leave our condo we sometimes have a house sitter but not always. We forward our mail to our son.
All the Documents
DOCUMENTS – we updated our passports even though they were not expired, so we would not have any issues with needing to do that from abroad. We also updated our Washington State Drivers License. We carry a copy of our marriage certificate with us but not our birth certificates because the passport is sufficient. We research every possible country we think we might visit to learn the entry/visa requirements. We carry copies of our passport, extra passport photos because some countries require obtaining a visa on entry with photo. We also carry International Drivers License, even though we have NEVER been asked for one. We sign up with the US State Department Smart Travel Program and list every country we plan to be in and when.
Create a Spreadsheet
SPREADSHEET – we created a spread sheet (using Google Sheets), which is evolving constantly and we can access via Google Drive, to track all of our travel including air and ground transportation and lodging. This spreadsheet includes notes regarding entry rules for countries. It’s also a fun tool for tracking so many things from miles traveled to beds slept in. The data we have is incredible after six and half years.
What About the Mail?
MAIL – we have worked really hard to NOT have any paper mail and do 95% of everything online. But we forward to our son’s house in case mail does show up.
Thank Goodness for Technology
TECHNOLOGY – we have new smart phones, an iPad, a Kindle and a light weight Mac Book Air For our smartphones (we each have an iPhone) we buy a sim card in each country for one of our phones to enable the phone to have a local phone number and data. We then also use our iPhones with wifi for things like blogging, Facebook and Instagram. We keep our Verizon number active so when we return to the USA that number still belongs to us. I definitely recommend getting a SIM card in each country and not paying the daily international fee your provider will offer you. SIM is simple and inexpensive.
We also have our Bose noise-canceling headphones and our Bose SoundLink Mini speaker that measures about 6 in x 3 in. We carry this with us and it allows us to listen to music using Spotify and listen to Audible or other books.
APPS – We have a few travel apps we like especially Airbnb, Expedia, Booking and Google Maps. We also use Google Translate which is really cool. We use WhatsApp, an app that allows you to make overseas calls via the internet, this is primarily the way we communicate with our kids. To call our parents, who aren’t on WiFi, we use an app called TextNow which allows free phone calls from anywhere to the USA. We also use Kindle, Yelp, Uber, Get Your Guide, Viator and Trip Advisor. We do our banking online with an app and our taxes online. We use a weather app, a plant identifier app called PictureThis and a bird watching app called Merlin. I follow news on the NPR app and the BBC app.
CORDS AND CHARGERS – I honestly don’t understand why there isn’t a universal cord for all electronics, but alas wishful thinking. So we have organized and sorted all our cords, charges and adapters to travel along. We research ahead to make sure we know what adapters we need in each country. We have a really cool little case that keeps all of our electronics organized and in one place. I usually carry some packing tape, post it notes and paper clips in there too.
Money Money Money
CREDIT CARDS AND CASH – don’t you hate it when your credit card company announces suddenly that you are being mailed a new credit card because your card has been compromised? Well that would really screw us up if that happens. So we have FOUR credit cards. One is our primary and three are backups. Three cards have no foreign transaction fees (which is a killer). We also have multiple ATM cards. All credit and debit cards are chipped. VERY IMPORTANT is that we do not carry all these cards together in one place. That way, if our wallet or purse is lost or stolen, we will have back up cards available in a different location. For most credit credit companies it is no longer necessary to let them know when you are traveling abroad. But check with yours to be sure. We carry several hundred US dollar in cash for emergencies. We never “exchange” US Dollars for local money. Instead to keep from paying the exchange rate fee we take money from a local ATM when we arrive at the airport.
PRESCRIPTIONS – I take two prescriptions regularly. It’s been a challenge to get enough of my meds stocked up. My insurance company will allow, with a special doctor’s note, two 90 day vacation overrides. Check with your insurance company to see what their policy is. We carry a first aid kit and a few Covid tests.
DOCTORS – each time we return to the USA we have had a ton of appointments; family physician for full physicals, new prescriptions and precautionary antibiotics; eye doctor for new contacts and glasses; dermatologist for annual check up; dentist for cleaning and some work; gynecologist for check up; and annual mammogram. We have our Covid shot and boosters and we keep track of all our other vaccinations and update as needed.
STAYING FIT – we eat very healthy everywhere we go. We used to drink a lot more alcohol than we do now…I only have a drink about once a week. In nearly every country we create a running route, do yoga everyday and hike once a week. And we walk and walk and walk.
A Little Pampering
GIRL STUFF – I get a haircut about every three months, and have my nails done about every two months. In between I take care of my nails myself. Depending on the country, I sometimes allow myself a massage or facial. In many countries these things are incredibly inexpensive and very nice. I do not carry a hair dryer but I do carry my skin care products and a very small amount of makeup which I hardly ever use. Because many countries have a lot of minerals in the water that is very hard on hair, I bring really good hair care products from the USA. I have a flat jewelry case with a few earrings and a couple of necklaces.
DECIDING WHERE TO GO – After six years of long-term travel we feel much more comfortable with our movement around the planet. It feels natural. We usually agree on where we want to go and make our decisions based on budget, weather, safety and interest. We love to go to new places, but have a few favorites we return to. We take turns planning the itinerary, often taking a country each. We have been to 123 countries so far! By the way I use a little app called BEEN to keep track of all the countries we have been to.
PACKING – this topic is one most people ask about, and indeed one of the hardest. We will continue to use two large REI rolling bags. Arne will continue to use his backpack as a carry on. I have a small roller bag carry on and a large bag that slides under the seat. And packing cubes have changed my life. Organized and categorized, I love using packing cubes. All that said, I still habitually over pack. But I am better than I used to be and have created a travel wardrobe that works for me. Once you are on the road for awhile you will get a feel for what you actually need and what you can do without.
AND OTHER USEFUL STUFF – We carry a Scrabble game and I carry my fold up hiking poles. We have a hammock that folds up very small. We have a collapsible hot pot for heating water and I love it! We carry some refreeze ice packs, a tiny fold-up cooler, a fold up beach bag and a fold up yoga mat. I carry a few spices and olive oil, some can koozies and reusable water bottles. I also pack flat laundry sheets (such a great invention) a cord and a few clothes pins. My husband has an all-purpose utility knife. Freezer bags and packing cubes – both so useful.
Getting Started in Travel
So there you have it. The details. This is what we have learned when getting started in travel. Start slow or take a leap of faith….but get out there. Alone or with friends or make new friends on a tour…getting started in travel just takes a little faith. Take a few trips, get a feel for it, and then your confidence will soar! Ask me questions! I want to help.
There is plenty of information out there to help in getting started in travel! Fabulous!
I have several sources to track the analytic on this blog…but the reality is I don’t. It’s pretty rare that I look at the numbers, mostly cause I write for the fun and love of it and don’t really put too much pressure on myself about the numbers. But once a year I open it up and have a good look at the blogs you loved the best. So today let me share with you this year’s Top Blogs of 2020 My Fab Fifties Life – the posts with the most views and shares are;
And there you have it…the Top 20 of 2022 My Fab Fifties Life. Take some time to enjoy them again or for the very first time. Top Blogs of 2022 My Fab Fifties Life. And as always, I can’t thank you enough for the amazing continued support so many, many people show by following, sharing, reading and supporting this effort. Be Fabulous!!
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