All posts tagged: travel

How Much Does It Cost to Travel Rajasthan, India? (Budget Breakdown)

India had been on my radar for a while, so when a YVRDeals alert popped up that was too good to resist, we jumped on it. How much does it cost to fly from Vancouver to India? Our fare was $1,516.48 for two round-trip tickets from Vancouver to New Delhi. With some processing fees the final total was $1,671.71 CAD*. We would travel China Southern with a layover in Guangzhou. Total flight time each way: 20 hours there and 16 hours back. Days spent in India, excluding international travel days: two weeks. China Southern’s rates seem to be holding consistent at the $800 price point. Flying the larger carriers, like Air Canada or Air India, will push your fare upwards of $1,200. *All prices in this budget breakdown are in Canadian dollars. Tour or independently travel Rajasthan, India? Tickets in hand, so to speak, Greg and I had every intention of booking a guided trip. (That’s tourism speak for “tour”.) We had always assumed we’d opt for a tour because I was a) intimidated by planning the …

Here’s Why Bolivia’s Capital Isn’t What You Think (PHOTOS)

Who knew Bolivia’s capital isn’t La Paz? Thanks Trivial Pursuit for planting that seed of misinformation during my teens. La Paz is the administrative – or – de facto capital, while the political capital is Sucre. So now that we’ve got that straight, it’s time to acquaint yourself with this gorgeous colonial city. Sucre isn’t exactly on the beaten track, so I had very few notions of what it would be like. Actually, I had never even heard of Sucre before planting two feet on Bolivian soil. Located in a country that isn’t hailed as a touristic destination, and buried in the heart of South America, I figured it’d be another dusty Bolivian city. Boy was I wrong. Just because my corner of the Western world hadn’t been to Sucre, didn’t mean the rest of Europe was so ignorant. In fact, Sucre was founded by the Spanish in 1538. What were the Spanish doing there? In short, relentlessly mining silver from nearby Potosí, which is counted among the world’s highest elevation cities. Sitting at 4,090 metres (13,420 ft), life at this altitude …

Au Pairing: How to Travel the World for Free

Up until my early twenties all of my independent travel sprang from au pairing. My first experience was in 2007 during the gap year between high school and university. It was the first time I travelled internationally and I did it alone at that. Touching down in Zurich I was hoping that the whole thing wasn’t a cruel joke and that indeed there would be a family at the gate to greet me. And there they were. My second au pair experience was a four month contract in 2010 in northern Germany. Yet another positive experience. Living overseas has had a fundamental impact on my personal growth and au pairing made it possible. I would absolutely recommend it to young adults looking to travel internationally.  Among a wealth of learning, I no doubt attribute my present day domestication to the fact that I was preparing mid-day meals for a family of four at age 18. When I graduated high school many girls in my community were arranging au pair gigs in Europe, which is how I …

Backpacking: How to survive the dreaded overnight bus trip

The best way to survive one is to avoid overnight bus travel all together. But if you really must, here are some tips to live by: 1. Never assume there will be a washroom on board. Carefully consider how much liquid you consumer prior to and during the trip. 2. Stock up on food. The bus will likely make a few stops but you’ll be at the mercy of whichever vendor the company has negotiated a stopover with. Usually they are large, cafeteria style restaurants with disappointing food options and a host of toilets around back, which you’ll have to pay to use. (Bring toilet paper!) It’s best just to order a takeaway sandwich or two for the road and hit a 7-11 for snacks. 3. Wear layers. Buses often run air conditioners overnight and it can get very cold. Make sure you bring a long sleeve shirt and consider packing a sleeping bag liner. 4. Essentials: Baby wipes and/or toilet paper, earplugs, and a flashlight if you intend to read. 5. Remember, you get what you pay for. …

Playing Survivor on Koh Rong Island, Cambodia

GTO was championing Koh Rong as a travel destination and I also had it on good account from another friend who had recently been there. This is how we found ourselves on the small island off the coast of Cambodia. We didn’t have much background knowledge of the island except that it is often erroneously referred to as Monkey Island. This likely originates from Monkey Island, a bungalow beach resort which is only one of three accommodation options on Koh Rong.  We set out and were among a handful of other travellers headed to the island. Boats service Koh Rong twice daily. We reached the wharf and met our first Aboriginal Canadian traveller. She was from Nunavut and thus she was referred to as ‘North of 60’ for the remainder of our trip. She worked at Monkey Island and gave us a pretty good description of what to expect on the island, or rather, what not to expect. A forty of Jack Daniels was being passed about and midway to the island we inquired into what she had …

VVV: Viva Vang Vieng (Backpacker Ghetto)

Ah, Vang Vieng. Backpacker holy grail. The infamous river float and Friends bars. In comparison to what it really is, these visions are actually quite glamorous. Situated on a river flanked by some very picturesque limestone mountains, VV has a severe infestation of drunk and/or high young adults. Imagine if backpackers were urban planners and could design their very own ghetto. VV would be it. There would be extremely cheap beer and it would be 640ml. It will be named Beerlao and cost 10,000 kip ($1.25). There would be restaurants with tables that you can lay down at (hungover) and watch endless (read: ENDLESS) loops of Friends or Family Guy episodes. There would be bars with multiple platforms in mud pits and these bars would have menus chock full of Opium, K, Special Shakes and weed. Of course our backpacker engineers don’t quite have a grasp on plumbing or sewage management so all bar bathrooms would be absolutely intolerable. Our ghetto would have a lot of free whiskey! Whiskey shots for arriving at a bar, …

Luang Prabang is a Hinterland Outpost and I Love It

It is such a shame that Luang Prabang is tucked away in northern Laos, demanding a two day slow boat arrival or 19 hour overnight bus ride. I didn’t know it when I arrived, but this colonial gem was (for me), Laos’ redemption. Before I left for Southeast Asia, all I knew was that Laos was the youngest sibling of its four neighbors, and very up-and-coming with the backpacker scene. Travelers were flooding into this country to exploit its natural beauty and its laid back attitude. I felt like the last person I knew who hadn’t been to Southeast Asia, let along Laos. Thus, I had a very definite, albeit skewed perception of Laos. What I didn’t know was that the country is very much third world and borderline comatose. This is why Luang Prabang, in reflection, justified my travel time invested in Laos. The main street lined with old French style architecture dominates the centre of this picturesque city. In the evening vendors flood the street, creating a very colorful and animated night market. …

The Great Wall + Observations After 10 Days in Beijing

We’ve since arrived in Bangkok and I’m pleased to have full access to my social media sites once again. One of the hostels we stayed at in Beijing had writing all over it which characterized its ambiance, and if you’re familiar with Tibet’s struggle you will notice the humor in someone writing ‘Free Social Media‘ in the stairwell. Mid last week I seemed to develop a persistent allergy to something in Beijing which rendered me dopey, sleepy and full of snot (which I cheerfully spat onto the street along with all of the other Beijing-ers, much to Greg’s disgust). That came about the morning Greg and I left on a twelve hour day tour to the Jinshanling part of the Great Wall. Pleasant. Six of these hours were spent on a cramped tour bus with ‘air conditioning’. Whatever that means. We arrived to blue skies (a relief from hazy Beijing) and stunning mountains. The wall snaked along the ridges of these mountains and was absolutely stunning. It really is one of the most impressive sites …

Beijing: My Overwhelming First Impressions of China

Well, we have arrived in Beijing, China and it is crazy! First let me recount our journey here. We packed up and left on Friday morning, Vancouver time. I had to chuckle when I noticed Greg’s had packed not one, but two travel pillows. As we walked the 200-m to the bus stop from Greg’s parents’ house we congratulated ourselves with a celebratory high-five. I looked over at his backpack and immediately noticed one of the travel pillows had fallen off. We had already lost an item, not more than 20 seconds into our trip. Too funny. The bus arrived promptly thereafter this moment so the pillow remains where it fell. We flew Air China and much to my misfortune I discovered my in-flight entertainment screen was broken. Did I mention this was a twelve hour flight? Flying north from Vancouver we actually passed over Comox (my hometown) which made me pretty happy and then onward past Alaska, Siberia and the Koreas. Beijing greeted us with a grey haze (which I am beginning to believe is character of the …