Picture this: you email a complete stranger and ask them if you can stay at their house. You sleep in their bed, shower in their bathroom, and stumble in drunk at 4 a.m. and YOU DON’T DIE! This is the precedent that Airbnb set for itself and they’ve truly created a safe, logical, and budget-friendly way for anyone to travel the world and find a secure place to rest their head.
Airbnb asks you to create a profile on their site and verify your identification through legitimate steps like ID card scans, social media background checks, and confirming personal details. Sure, no system is without flaws but I feel safe as a female solo traveler to book my stays through them.
They have over 350,000 hosts around the world. Over 15 million guests have booked their travels in 190 countries through Airbnb. After a guest stays at a home they are prompted to please review their stay and anonymously rate things like: how accurate was the space, how accomodating was the host, how safe was the area, etc. The site skips right to the shit that matters most; you can expect exactly what you’ve been told and you’ll walk away with an amazing experience and quite possibly a new friend.
My first airbnb stay was at Sid’s Austin home here. Though I’ve yet to meet Sid (he lives in San Fran and I stayed at his place in TX) he was a wonderful host and has stayed in touch with me as we like to chat about travel, life, and our passion to explore the world.
Whether you stay at a beautiful mansion on the coast of Greece or share an apartment with a host that’s likely to help you explore their city you will walk away a richer person endowed with a unique experience that I wouldn’t trade for a hotel stay any night.
It’s as easy as setting up a profile, having friends and family write you a recommendation, finding a city you can’t wait to explore, and a home you’ve yet to sleep in. Simply contact the host with a friendly message explaining your plans to stay with them (or at their house if they’re not going to be there) and wait for them to accept your proposal. Payments are secured through the site and some hosts even let you plan way in advance and leave a small down payment until you’re ready to go.
You can visit my Airbnb site here! I’ll be hosting my house in Philadelphia in September when the Pope is visiting. Shameless plug: it’s a small 3-level 2BR/2BA apartment with excellent decor including a lovesac and a projector TV and it sits in the heart of South Philly (3 blocks from Pat’s/Geno’s Cheesesteaks) ←- the main attraction here. Get on airbnb, set up your profile, and come stay with yours truly!
I need to drop some realness about cash flow. Money doesn’t come easy these days for us twenty-somethings. For just a minute get your head out of the clouds and face the facts: you’re probably living paycheck to paycheck and you’re about to plan a trip around the world with cobwebs in your wallet. Smooth move! Don’t be naïve and put everything on a credit card and ‘pay it back when ya can’ **. You’ll probably regret that decision very shortly after you return home. If you’re anything like me financially you fit this description: spend what you make and live a lavish lifestyle without a care in the world- the bills get paid and you’re wearing new jeans and drinking a cocktail most Friday nights (this is exactly why you need to read the rest of this post.)
How I’m planning to save $20,000 to travel the world!
This is not going to be easy. To be damn honest it’s already been a struggle. Money comes in and it’s one minute I’m sitting with 5 G’s in the bank and the next my car battery is dead after a random trip to Fort Lauderdale and Austin and my rent is due tomorrow. Fuck me, right? So Plan A to save $20,000 by putting away large amounts of money per month is not working.
I can’t tell you how many times Plan B has saved my life (bad joke). Seriously, though- I notoriously set myself up for failure financially and instinctively have a backup.
#1: Find something you’re really good at that you enjoy doing and start making it work for you. Are you a writer? Painter? Musician? Enjoy shopping? Good. Fine. Great. OK. So use your skills to your advantage and start getting paid! My weapon of choice? Shopping. I’m a killer bargain hunter. I started bargain hunting and selling my finds on eBay pretty recently. My latest sale: a $2,800 dressed I bought for $200 and sold for $950. It’s a win-win for everyone.
#2: See #1 and don’t touch that damn PayPal account. This is the cardinal rule and if you break it then you’re shit out of luck. The second you start poking around at the money you’re ‘saving for travel’ is when you lose. Just don’t do it. I’ve found it easiest to not even acknowledge my PayPal account. Don’t look, don’t touch.
#3: Acknowledge your weaknesses and delete all money wiring apps/Nordstrom wish lists/auto-pay sample delivery boxes. Don’t let that money stare at you and bring you to your knees. You own that money, you OWN IT!
#4: Set a goal and stick to it no matter what. eBay might not make me $20,000. I know that’s a bit far fetched in 8 months. So my Plan B.2 is to save $10,000 by the end of summer and however I get there is good by me.
I started a summer weekend job. I’ve already mentally quit my summer weekend job. I really can’t stand serving anymore but if you can do it BY ALL MEANS it is the quickest and easiest way to make money. In all seriousness if I could do it I would. Apparently I’ve just put that life behind me and I can’t dig it back up again. It is much more feasible that I do my eBay thing and see what comes of it. The final piece of the $20K mystery puzzle is that my FT job is commission based and I get paid pretty well at the end of the year when double commissions and bonuses roll in. I expect to be able to save another $10,000 the last quarter of the year.
#5: Know ya self, know ya worth! Don’t be blindsided by your own shortcomings. You’re the only one on the team. Be honest, formulate some sort of plan, and stick to it or else you’re not traveling. If you’re feeling extra “worky” one week then use that energy to make the extra money. There are tons of ways to make extra cash and you just need to find ones that suit you.
A couple quick ways to make cash: Landscape, babysit, eBay/Etsy, promo/marketing, bartender, server, stripper, hustla, you get the idea.
Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M., get the money, dolla dolla bills ya’ll….
**I’ve heard great things about using credit cards for flight miles. I haven’t done so myself but read more about the best airline credit cards here and let me know how it goes!: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/top-credit-cards/nerdwallets-best-airline-credit-cards/
My sister is counting down the days until I’m on sabbatical. You’ll miss me when I’m gone baby sister! I get it though- she inherently has the pleasure of taking care of all my belongings (most notably my wardrobe) while I’m away.
So long are the days of Burberry, Givenchy, and Halston. My trek will have me living in the same 5 outfits, day after day after day. *le sigh* How boring?! For anyone who knows me I hardly go anywhere without stuntin’. It’s my privilege to bring to you the list of the most packable, travelable, and wearable styles and fabrics for stuntin’ on ‘em. *cue Pimpin all over the world* Ohhh yeah….
Cotton is probably my favorite material to pack for traveling. It’s light, comfortable, and deemed effortlessly chic when paired with the right outfit. Make sure to check out a cotton/polyester blend as cotton is a bitch and wrinkles like your worst nightmare.
Cotton to-go: an extra large scarf can easily become a head wrap, top, skirt, dress, or, um, scarf. Check it out here: http://www.gurl.com/2014/03/15/style-tips-on-how-to-wear-and-tie-a-scarf-for-any-season/
A position for polyester (and nylon)
Performance fabrics! Polyester has a horrible reputation thanks to the Brady Bunch and the ‘70’s but it’s a sturdy synthetic material that will protect you from harsh winds, rain, and unforgiving creases. This material isn’t breathable and is therefore suited for milder and colder climates. It’ll also leave you with some nasty pit stains if you’re thinking of trekking to SE Asia with this stuff. So there’s my fair warning. Otherwise, think strong, colorfast, and wrinkle resistant.
Polyester to-go: Your favorite yoga pants are probably polyester. If you’re going to be posing for padahastasana in front of Mt. Fuji #yoga #everywhere #Namaste then you should pack those pants.
Silk it to me!
Silk is probably the best thing to ever caress your skin (sorry boys). It’s a wrinkly travel buddy so I wouldn’t suggest packing it if you’re long hauling. I will say this though- it is lightweight, breathable, and somewhat durable. My conclusion for silk? Wear it where it counts! Yep, I’m talkin silk panties on the Silk Road. So even when you’re sweating your way through Mongolia you can rest assured your panties won’t be in a bunch.
Silk to-go: not soymilk. Never pack soymilk.
It’s inevitable you’ll stick out of the crowd while visiting new places but make sure to respect the customs of the country you’re visiting. Leave the short skirts at home ladies.
Pocket more, bag less
Pockets will change the game for a traveler. Tourists are often targeted by pickpockets and should travel without expensive jewelry and excess bags. The more pockets you have the easier it will be for you to access and protect important things like money and identification.
Protect your skin!
I’m an advocate for healthy sunscreen skills. To avoid coming face to face with the sun everyday I suggest bringing a hat and plenty of Zinc or Titanium sunscreen (Zinc and Titanium BLOCKS the sun and doesn’t let rays enter the skin). Hats are hard to pack but I find baseball caps and bucket hats easiest to fold without losing appeal. Side note: wide brims will protect your face from sun and rain so don’t fall short in the hat department!