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Best Time To Visit Okinawa

Best Time To Visit Okinawa

There isn’t a single best time to visit Okinawa – there is so much to see year-round! This tropical paradise is becoming a popular destination for good reason. The good food supports one of the healthiest communities, the blue water is filled with aquatic life, and the culture is so vibrant!

Okinawa has so much to experience throughout the year, from humpback whale sightings to world-class diving, cherry blossom festivals, and so much more! So, depending on what you want to see, the best time to travel isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. 

Explore everything that Okinawa has to offer throughout the year, and find the best time to visit Okinawa for you!

View from the top of Okinawa, with blue water and small islands in the distance

Table of Contents

When is the Best Time to Visit Okinawa

Generally speaking for Okinawa, the best time to visit Okinawa is in the shoulder seasons, during April or May, and October or November. 

While the word ‘best’ is up for interpretation, the shoulder seasons offer smaller crowds, milder weather, and lower costs! There is less competition for your dream accommodations, and fewer people at the best beaches.

CHEAPEST TIME TO VISIT OKINAWA: November – February

BEST WEATHER IN OKINAWA: April-May & October

LEAST CROWDED MONTHS IN OKINAWA: February-March

BEST NATURAL PHENOMENON IN OKINAWA: Humpback Whale Watching January-March

BEST FESTIVALS & EVENTS IN OKINAWA: Cherry Blossom Festival – February

 

When is the Worst Time to Visit Okinawa

In my opinion, I would avoid Okinawa during the summer months of June, July, and August. During the summer, temperature is the highest, as well as humidity (hello hot mess), crowds are the biggest, and increased prices follow. In general, I avoid destinations during peak season. I  prefer beaches empty, nature to myself, and fewer travelers so I can more clearly see the authenticity that lies at the heart of a location.

MOST EXPENSIVE TIME TO VISIT OKINAWA: June, July, August

HOTTEST MONTHS IN OKINAWA: August

COLDEST MONTHS IN OKINAWA: January

MOST CROWDED MONTHS IN OKINAWA: June, July, August

My Experience in Okinawa

I spent an amazing 45 days in Okinawa. I arrived on December 6, and left on January 19 – right in the middle of winter! Especially if you only have one week in Okinawa and want a perfect itinerary, the time of year matters. 

As you can see from the photos in this article, the weather was still so warm outside! We had plenty of beach days, as well as some cozy winter storm days. I often wore a bikini and a sundress, but always made sure to have a warm jacket and rain jacket for any changes in the weather.

We did a lot of snorkeling in Okinawa and almost always needed in a 3mm wetsuit. The visibility was insanely good, and we saw so much aquatic life since there were fewer people in the water!

The downside of traveling in December-January is a lot of restaurants had shorter hours, or were closed completely. However, with fewer travelers, the places we did go were cheaper, and we got to connect more with the locals. 

A woman standing on stairs facing a unique rocky peak, with tropical palms growing

Check out the top 20 things you need to know before going to Okinawa, some may surprise you!

Weather in Okinawa

Okinawa is tropical and breezy, with annual rainfall in the summer months along with high humidity, and cool and crisp air during the winter months. The weather fluctuates between a low of 13°C (55°F) and a high of 33°C (91°F) throughout the year.

While there are 4 seasons, the year is typically broken into a wet and dry season. Wet months are from June to September, with the most rain in June at almost 600mm of rainfall.

Graph showing the annual rainfall and temperature in Okinawa, Japan
Image from All Japan Relocation

Seasonal Breakdown in Okinawa

Spring (March, April, May)

As the weather warms and the island awaits the tourist crowds, Spring is among the best time to visit Okinawa. Resort beaches reopen for swimming in March, the temperature starts creeping back up, and the vibrant life of the island is awaiting your exploration.

Weather

Spring in Okinawa offers comfortable weather, with balmy days and refreshing evenings. Average high temperatures range from 20°C (68°F) in March to 25°C (77°F) by May, with lows dipping to 18°C (64°F) and 22°C (72°F) respectively.

Rainfall is minimal, making it a fantastic time for outdoor activities. While humidity starts to creep up toward April, it remains comfortable compared to the summer months.

The ocean beckons with increasing warmth throughout the season. Sea temperatures rise from a cool 21°C (70°F) in March to a comfortable 26°C (79°F) by May, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Visibility in the turquoise waters is excellent, reaching upwards of 30 meters, and offering stunning views of the vibrant coral reefs.

Events

  • Yaeyama Islands Flower Bloom (March-April)
  • Naha Hari – Dragon Boat Race (May)
  • Yomitan Island Canoe Festival (May)
Sunset over the ocean in Okinawa, Japan

Summer (June, July, August)

Summer in Okinawa is perfect for lounging on a white sand beach or snorkeling anywhere off the coast. This is a great time to travel if you’re trying to be in the ocean more than not, you’ll need the refreshing reprise of an ocean dip to escape the heat! Be prepared for many other travelers, making it a perfect time to socialize and meet fellow wanderlusts.

Weather

Summer in Okinawa is a tropical paradise that demands respect for the sun’s intensity. Scorching days average between 28°C (82°F) and 33°C (91°F), with nights offering little respite at 24°C (75°F) and 28°C (82°F).

Humidity soars, reaching upwards of 80%, providing a free sauna-like experience. The high humidity during the summer months will make it feel much hotter than it reads on the thermometer, so pack accordingly and stay hydrated! Typhoons, though rare, can disrupt travel plans during this season. Be sure to have a good rain jacket and umbrella to withstand the intense precipitation.

Ocean temperatures reach their peak, averaging a hot 28°C (82°F), making it ideal for water sports enthusiasts. However, the increased surface temperature can affect coral health, and visibility slightly decreases compared to spring.

Events

  • Naha Eisa Matsuri Dance Performances (June or July)
  • Naha Harbor Fireworks Festival (July)
  • Ishigaki Island Stargazing Festival (July-August)
  • Miyako Island Orion Beer Festival (August)
  • Yaeyama Islands Manta Festival (June-August)
  • Whale Shark Snorkeling Tours (June-August)
Whale shark and other fish swimming below the surface

Autumn (September, October, November)

The rain subsides and temperatures drop in November, making it a perfect time for cultural events and indoor activities. Although, the oceans are still booming with life, and you’ll have some of the best snorkeling spots all to yourself!  Autumn is among the best time to visit Okinawa for a more authentic exploration with fewer crowds.

 

Weather

Autumn in Okinawa offers comfortable temperatures and clear skies. Average highs range from 22°C (72°F) in September to 28°C (82°F) in November, with lows dipping to 18°C (64°F) and 21°C (70°F) respectively. 

Rainfall increases slightly compared to summer but rarely disrupts plans. Humidity remains manageable, making it an ideal time for enjoying outdoor activities without the summer’s intensity.

Ocean temperatures begin to cool slightly, although they remain pleasantly warm at around 25°C (77°F) in September and 23°C (73°F) by November. Visibility remains excellent, offering stunning underwater views as the coral reefs prepare for winter.

Events

  • Ishigaki Island Harvest Festival (September)
  • Naha Tug-of-War Festival (October)
  • National Karate Day (October 25)
  • Kabira Bay Hot Springs Festival (October)
Aerial image of the annual tug-of-war festival in Naha, Okinawa, featuring a crowd of people and a massive rope
Image from Renee and Japan

Winter (December, January, February)

Winter travel in Okinawa is an underrated time of year. This is the best time to visit for some tropical life in the heart of the cold season, especially if you’re traveling from the Northern mianland. Stick around for the chance to sport a humpback whale, and join in on the lively cultural celebrations!

Weather

Winter in Okinawa offers a relief from the mainland’s biting cold, with mild days and cool nights. Average highs range from 18°C (64°F) in December to 23°C (73°F) in February, with lows dipping to 13°C (55°F) and 17°C (63°F) respectively.

Occasional bursts of chilly winds can bring temperatures down even further, and although rain increases slightly, it rarely dampens plans.

Ocean temperatures continue their descent, reaching 21°C (70°F) by February, making water activities less appealing for most. However, visibility remains excellent for divers and snorkelers who don’t mind the cooler waters.

Events

  • Naha Christmas Village Celebrations (December)
  • Ryuku Lantern Festival (December)
  • New Year’s Celebrations (January 1)
  • Okinawa Flower Carnival (February)
  • Cherry Blossom Sakura Festival in Naha. (late January – February)
  • Humpback Whale sightings off the Kerama Islands (late January – March)
  • Yonaguni Island Lantern Festival (February)
A mom and baby humpback whale swimming along the surface in the blue ocean

Top Things To Do In Okinawa

Of all the things to do in Okinawa, this is my top list of the things you can’t miss out on, no matter what time of year you visit Okinawa! These are open year-round and were my favorite things to do in Okinawa.

Charumi Aquarium

By far the biggest attraction on the island, The Okinawa Charumi Aquarium is among the best aquariums in the world. The responsible practices of rehabilitation and education are top-tier. They even release the dolphins back into the wild after a few years so they don’t become reliant on humans.

The biggest ‘attraction’ (if you can call an animal that) is the Whale Shark. So breathtaking to see such a massive creature up close.

Hike Hijio Waterfall

Hijio Waterfall is an incredible stop in the northern region of the island and very easy to get to. The 45 hike to the falls crosses a dreamy suspension bridge in the forest and leads to a stunning area to watch the water cascade down the hillside.

Especially if you go in the off-season, you’ll have the waterfall to yourself, another great reason why winter is the best time to visit Okinawa!

Snorkel Gorilla Chop

Okinawa has some of the best snorkeling locations I’ve ever been to. Of all the locations I snorkeled at, Gorilla Chop was by far the best. Maybe even the best I’ve ever seen in my life! This easy-to-access location is filled with life. It is accessible year-round, although water will be a bit chillier in the winter, so be sure to get a wetsuit!

The parking is free, and so is water access! Please be careful to not touch the coral or any aquatic life, and never feed the fish!

Summary - The Best Time To Visit Okinawa

Okinawa is undeniably a great place to go at any time of year. The tropical landscape, turquoise blue water, vibrant culture, and aquatic life have something for every type of traveler. But, when is the best time to visit Okinawa? 

The shoulder seasons of April and May, or September and October offer mild temperatures, smaller crowds, and the beautiful summery atmosphere that so many people love. However, if I were to go back to Okinawa, it would be in February.

In February there are no travel crowds, the cherry blossoms are in bloom, the rain is low, and best of all… humpback whale migration. It’s not often you get to see such beautiful creatures in the wild, and it’s relatively easy! 

Which month’s adventures are pulling you to Okinawa?

Explore the other destinations waiting for you in Asia!

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Japan, 0 comments
Travel Budgeting Tips & Templates

Travel Budgeting Tips & Templates

Traveling is a dream for most people, but too often it feels out of reach. However, with the right amount of research and preparation, you can make any travel dream a reality with effective travel budgeting.

Explore my best tips to get the most out of your money while abroad, plan effectively for the costs you’ll likely run into, and some tricks to cut unnecessary costs! No matter what kind of traveler you are, you can go on the trip of your dreams with a few short steps that break it all down.

Map for travel planning with a notebook and pen

Table of Contents

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Part 1: Know Your Starting Point

Define Your Goals

Why you want to travel, and what you’re hoping to get out of it is a great place to start. Are you looking to live lavishly without a care in the world for a few weeks? Or, are you trying to connect more deeply with yourself, your communities, and the planet? 

This is more than just how you want to travel, it also includes where. Each location has a different cost of living which is a major factor to consider. Island hopping in the Mediterranean is much more expensive than mountain trekking in South America!

The ‘way’ you envision your travels will set the scene for your expenses, and be the best starting place to begin planning!

Estimate Your Expenses

Based on how you envision your travel looking like, and where you hope you go, you’ll be able to dive deeper into the logistics of the costs you’ll face. Travel budgeting is only possible if you know what expenses you’ll likely have abroad. 

In general, this can be broken down into transport, accommodation, food, activities, health, documentation, and any pre-travel expenses you will have!

Transportation

Transport is typically the most expensive element of travel expenses, especially if you fly to your destination. Be sure to check out how to book the cheapest flight so you can cut costs where possible!

Once you arrive, how much will you need to move around? Will you be in one place for a few weeks or months, is there public transport, or will you need to rent a car or a motorbike? Ground transport differs greatly by region, check out Omio for Europe, 12Go in Asia, and providers like BudBud for long-haul buses!

While you won’t know the specifics of every cost, it is essential to do some research here to understand what the expenses of your destination look like so you can move around comfortably!

 

Accommodation

Once you arrive, where will you stay? Your accommodation is an essential element that will set the scene for your trip. The luxurious traveler may love an all-inclusive with no extra thoughts, while a more cultured traveler will be looking for a homestay, guest house, or more engaging lodging experience.

Check out sites like Booking.com, HostelWorld, or Airbnb to familiarize yourself with the accommodation options you have at your destination. Often, you can get great deals on accommodations by connecting with hosts directly, or with a minimum stay. For example, Airbnb often has a ‘long-term’ stay discount for any bookings over 28 days!

Food

The food you eat while traveling depends on the type of traveler you are. Local food is always the most affordable and allows you to connect with the local culture and people while having the lowest environmental impact.

Many accommodations offer free breakfast, which is a life-savor for your budget and for those mornings you just want to take it a bit slow. Be sure to consider this in your cost and choices when choosing accommodation!

Estimate your food in terms of cost per day, so you can easily multiply it over the number of days you will be traveling. 

Technology

Technology isn’t something you need to have while traveling, but in the modern day, it’s hard to go without it. This includes your phone plan, VPN, and anything specific to you like drone registration costs, or specific tech insurance.

International phone plans can be tricky to set up, but essential for every traveler! Getting an eSIM through Nomad or Airalo can be the easiest option, and affordable! If you plan to work or connect to public WiFi, getting a VPN is also advisable to protect your data.

Use code TAYL58RX for Nomad eSIM, or TAYLOR8492 for Airalo eSIM to save $3!

Activities

What type of traveler are you? Are you excited to explore the outdoors with some hikes, dives, and anything in nature? Or, are you ready to lay back on the beach with a book and a sunhat for days on end?

The things you’re interested in greatly change your activities budget. To get ideas of what to do in a destination, I always start with a booking tour like Get Your Guide to see what is offered! 

If you have any extra money to spend with your travel budgeting, I suggest you send it towards the activities and excursions you take. These are the once-in-a-lifetime moments that you’ll remember forever.

Health

This is an essential element of travel expenses that you really shouldn’t cut corners on. This includes travel insurance, travel medical insurance, and any relevant vaccines.

There is no better way to put stress on your travels if you aren’t fully prepared with the best travel insurance for you. In case your bags get lost or damaged, you get injured during an excursion, or if your things get stolen. Know the differences between the types of insurance, and be prepared for the unexpected.

Depending on where you’re traveling, a vaccine may be required or highly encouraged. Every country handles vaccines differently – in the US you can call your local Passport Health office to see what is advised and the costs for each. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, no US insurance company will cover these costs. 

All of the health costs can be estimated before you depart!

Documentation

You cannot enter a country without the proper documentation. That may include a valid passport, a visa for entry, proof of vaccinations, proof of a booked departure ticket, and any other requirements like proof of accommodation, bank statements with a minimum balance, and more.

Check with your country’s embassy to see a full list of requirements for entry into a country. For US citizens, you can check out the US Embassy hereTo purchase a visa, check out iVisa!

All of the documentation requirements can be purchased before you depart. but will be dependent on where you’re from and where you’re going!

Pre-Travel Expenses

Are you ready to go, or do you have a few things to get still? This could include luggage, a travel backpack, a travel camera to document your trip, some packable clothing to complete your wardrobe, travel toiletries, and more!

Be realistic and don’t get more than you need. Traveling on a budget is easier when you have fewer things, especially for long-term travel plans. Check out the ultimate long-term travel packing guide so you have what you need!

Set Your Budget!

And just like that, you should have a rough idea of your budget! Whatever number you have come up with, add 10% to be sure you’re financially set even when faced with the unexpected. We can’t plan everything perfectly, but we can plan for the uncertainties of life. 

There may be some other things for you personally to consider while travel budgeting, like if you’re traveling with a pet, or a child, or going for a specific cause like a retreat or volunteering. 

 

Part 2: Saving For Your Trip

Now that you know approximately how much your trip is going to cost, you’ll have to save the money for it. Saving money isn’t easy for everyone, but with some simple goals and guidelines, anyone can do it!

If you already have the money at your disposal – if so, skip ahead to Part 3!

Cut Your Costs

The easiest way to save is to cut out some of your expenses currently. Maybe you make coffee at home rather than picking it up on your commute, eat at home more often, or favor free activities while you’re waiting to go on your trip. 

The sooner you can cut your costs and add to your savings, the sooner you’ll be on your way… or have more money to spend on your experience!

Track Your Expenses

To know where your money is going, and where you can maybe cut back, it’s helpful to have a  app, journal, spreadsheet, or whatever you use best to help monitor your spending. 

Historically I used Mint, which is now a part of Kredit Karma. Apps are a great way to track your spending in real-time, categorizing your transactions into specific groupings for easier tracking. 

It’s a great idea to track your spending for a few months to get an idea of your baseline, and make realistic cuts where you can!

Part 3: Make Your Money Last

Travel Credit & Debit Cards

A simple way to cut your costs abroad is by getting a credit and debit account that is designed for travelers. That means, no ATM withdrawal fees, and no foreign transaction feesNot only will you save, but you’ll also get points that you can put towards your trip! 

Not enough travelers do this, and especially when most of the world relies on cash transactions, that’s a lot of ATM withdrawals at $3.50 each! 

Travel Hacks To Save

There is no set way to save money abroad, it depends on where you go and the type of traveler you are. But, here is a list of my favorite travel hacks to save abroad that you should do on top of travel budgeting!

Travel in the Off-Season

Traveling in the off-season is a guaranteed way to save, plus, you’ll get to experience a place with way fewer people! Nothing takes away from the magic of a place than a bunch of tourists from your home country. Usually the ‘shoulder seasons’ have great weather, fewer travelers, and lower prices!

Avoid the Tourist Destinations

On the note of avoiding tourists, the places you see on Instagram that it seems everyone and their mom has been to, usually just aren’t worth it. They’re crowded, overpriced, and sometimes even require hours in a line! There are almost always hidden gems nearby that are similar, without the crowds of people.

Travel Slowly

Slow travel is a game-changer for those who have the time to do it. By traveling slowly, you’re not in a rush to see everything there is to be seen. Instead, you can wander freely, finding the hidden gems at your pace, while getting to connect to the locals and the land. 

Read more about what slow travel is and why it's right for you

More Ground TRansport, Fewer Flights

Flights are always more expensive when traveling a shorter distance. Although it seems like a huge time saver, you miss the beauty on the ground, the rolling hills, and rural landscape of a place. Not to mention, the carbon footprint of flights is insanely higher than a bus, train, or ferry. 

Thrift Shop & Local Markets

Shopping abroad can be an excursion in itself. Whether you’re at a boutique thrift store or a market with local artisans, you’re guaranteed to find unique things to bring home. Avoid shopping malls or any other chain store, you’ll be missing the unique gems you could find off the beaten path. 

Cook At Home & Eat Local

Where you eat will determine a lot of your expenses. In expensive regions like the US or Europe, cooking at home is a great way to save on costs while you try to create local dishes. If you don’t have a kitchen or you’re in a more affordable place, stick to eating where the locals do for a fun experience while saving money! 

Check Out Volunteering Abroad & Work Exchanges

If you’re an extreme budget traveler, or if you simply favor a raw experience, check out volunteering abroad and work exchanges. Programs like WorkAway or WorldPackers are a great way to experience a new place for little to no cost, with accommodation and food provided in exchange for 20 hours of work! 

Summary - Travel Budgeting

No matter what kind of traveler you are, or where in the world you want to go, it is all possible with the right planning, saving, and commitment. By breaking down each of the main expense categories, and doing some realistic travel budgeting for what you want, you’ll be able to create the trip of a lifetime!

While planning only gets you so far, saving is still a necessary component to see your dreams through to reality. Follow the tips to cut costs where you can before you go, while also choosing more budget options abroad. Traveling doesn’t need to be expensive if you don’t want it to!

As always, slow travel is the best way to save money, create a more enriching experience, reduce your stress, and make travel sustainable for the long term. Nobody wants to leave their trip, and the best part is you don’t have to!

What are some of your favorite ways to save money abroad, so you can do more?

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Budget, Travel Planning, 0 comments
How To Book The Cheapest Flights

How To Book The Cheapest Flights

Traveling is so exciting once all of the planning is finally done. The costs can quickly add up in the process, leaving you with little to spend while you’re actually there exploring! Unlike rental cars or museums that have generally consistent costs, flights are a huge way to save if you navigate it well and do the research. This article will help you book the cheapest flights so you can save where you can, and explore more!

Check out the following resources to help you surf the web and find the best deals for you!

View out of a plane with a yellow sky and clouds

Table of Contents

Anything purchased through the links on this page helps me maintain this blog going. Thanks for supporting – Learn More.

Summary

1. Check your Points

2. Discount Flights

3. Flight Search Engines

4. Airline Direct

5. Check again within 24 hours

Be ready to take these offers with the flexibility of destination and date, pack light to save on luggage costs, and travel in the shoulder seasons!

Flight Search Engine

Myth or Fact?

1. Flights are Cheaper on Tuesdays

Myth. However, it is in fact cheaper to fly on a Tuesday, as well as on Wednesday and Saturday. The day of the week a flight is booked is irrelevant, however, there is a difference in flight cost depending on the length of time until the scheduled flight! It’s typically best to book early (2-3 months), however, there are some unbeatable last-minute flight deals!

2. Search in Incognito Mode

Myth. While flight prices do fluctuate on the market and demand for a particular flight, your search patterns will not influence this! Flight prices are constantly changing, but your cookies have nothing to do with it! However, if you don’t search in incognito mode, be prepared for endless ads!!

3. Flying a Budget Flight is Always Less Enjoyable

Myth. While there definitely are a lot of cheap flights out there that have some pretty significant drawbacks, there are some gems you can find for a good price. Often, flights are reduced in price due to a long layover, a self-transfer between airports, limited baggage, and a lower-quality experience. Check below for the discounted flight sites where you can find insane deals without all of the extra negatives!

Before You Start

Be Flexible

The key to cheap flights is flexibility. You may find flights that have crazy long layovers in another city or better options on a different day. Maybe, you aren’t super attached to any specific destination, so you can be flexible there too!

Another big consideration is your luggage – many budget airlines have baggage limitations. Keep your options open and ready to grab by traveling light and being flexible. 

The more flexible your plans are, the more options you can take advantage of!

Start With What You Know

Start with what you know and search from there – there are a lot of variables to consider and some may be necessary for you to keep consistent. For example, you want to go to South America but don’t care when or which specific country. Or, maybe you have 2 weeks off in the spring and want to go anywhere during those dates. These are 2 completely different situations that require different approaches

 

So, do you know the dates you want to travel? Do you know where you want to go? The cheapest flights can be purchased with the most flexible plans! Do yourself a favor and see if you can get a bit of wiggle room with both the destination and the dates. 

The 24-hour Rule

Once your flight is booked, you have 24 hours to cancel (this is a federal law in the US). Since flight prices fluctuate daily, you may find that the flight you purchased went down in price just hours later! If you’re a real bargain hunter, go ahead and cancel your flight to purchase the better option. 

This is also a good thing to know when you come across a good deal. Found a flight you can’t pass up? Book now and sort out the rest after, you never know how long the prices will last!

Let’s Go Through an Example of the Process:

1 Passenger with 0 bags traveling from San Francisco (SFO) to Costa Rica on October 18, 2023. The dates are slightly flexible +/- 7 days, and the airport in Costa Rica does not matter.  

*These figures are researched on August 29, 2023 – <2 months before the trip. 

Step 1. Fly Free With Points

For any budget traveler, getting the right credit card and cashing in on those points is essential. Not only will they help cover travel costs if things don’t go to plan, but with the right card you can accrue points that you can cash in for flights!

Especially if you’re not a frequent flyer, you’ll want to use those points whenever you can, so start here! Check your credit card’s points value, and see how much that translates to in-flight miles. Typically the points can only be used when the flight is purchased through the credit card’s website, and these aren’t typically the cheapest options. So that’s up to you to decide if the points are worth using this time around. 

Find the best deal you can with your credit card points, and then continue to Step 1 and beyond to see what you’re comparing it to! You may find an awesome deal within the steps below that makes you want to save your points for something else. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred

This is the best travel card for its travel benefits. Earn 5x points booked on travel through Chase, earn 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months, get comprehensive travel insurance, and more!

Example: Chase Sapphire Preferred

I use the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card – Through the Chase app, I found a flight for $205 on October 17 – a great option to compare to after the final steps!

By booking through Chase, I can use my Rewards points to pay for the flight, making it essentially free!

Step 2. Discount Flight Sites

You have probably heard of these discount flight websites – they offer insanely low prices for select flights. This is a great place to start, especially if your plans are flexible. Let’s break down some of the most popular discount flight sites!

Going through 3rd party groups can create a complicated customer service network. Be sure all info is accurate before booking to avoid unnecessary headaches!

Going (formerly "Scott's Cheap Flights")

Going is a subscription-based search engine connecting you with discounted flight deals departing from your home airport. You choose the destination, and Going will provide alerts of insane deals that can get you there for cheaper.

Subscription tiers are either Limited ($0/year), Premium ($49/year), or Elite ($199/year), each offering increased benefits to get the best deals. The deals are found by a team of people who search for the best options. However, there are limited features showing only round-trip tickets!

Example: Going

In Going, I found 1 deal that matches a flight from SFO > Costa Rica. A round-trip Avianca flight for $350 in September-November, with more options available by changing the date!

*This is round-trip, however, the link directed me to Google Flights where the price was $150

Travel Pirates

Travel Pirates uses a tried and trusted search engine to guarantee quality flight options – KAYAK. However, what distinguished Travel Pirates from KAYAK, is not the search feature, but the deals lists. Travel Pirates uses a team of deal hunters to put together the best deals for flight, transport, and accommodation while considering the overall value of the option (for your money & time)!

Example: Travel Pirates

In Travel Pirates, using the ‘Plan Your Own Trip’ feature, I found a flight for $135 on October 18! Within the deals section, there was a discount for $133 across LATAM – with further inspection, the $135 flight found through the specific search was the best option!

The Dollar Flight Club

The Dollar Flight Club works similarly to Going – where you input your home airport, ideal destinations, and date range and the platform will provide alerts when there is a low price. There is a free option, with the upgraded subscription available for $ /year. 

One major drawback is you cannot specify whether it is a one-way or round trip, providing skewed results. The results direct you back to either Skyscanner or Google Flights to further investigate. So if you know where you want to go, just go straight to Skyscanner / Google Flights and skip this step, however this is a great place to take advantage of deals found for random destinations around the world!

Example:

In The Dollar Flight Club, I found the applicable flight through Avianca listed online for $135, however, with further inspection the price was actually $150 as I was directed to Skyscanner and Google Flights. 

Step 3. Flight Search Engines

If you didn’t find any killer deals from step 1, then we move to a broader search with these flight search engines. These are technically an Online Travel Agency (OTA), which have their own added fees and discounts applicable. So, even if all of the search engines you use pull up the same flight options, you may see different prices! That’s why it is best to use them all and compare!

 

Protect your flight costs with the best Travel Insurance.

Google Flights

Google Flights is many travelers’ starting point when looking for flights. This is a user-friendly platform that provides a great baseline for what to expect in regard to price. Google Flights considers both major & budget airlines, offering a wide range of options! It also has some helpful features including: 

  • ‘Explore Everywhere’ feature
  •  Low price alert
  • Calendar price view to show cheaper dates
  • Extensive filters

Example: Google Flights

Using Google Flights, I found the same $150 flight with Avianca that many of the Discount Flights found. However, it also showed that if I changed the date from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20, the price would go down to $81

Since that’s only 2 days and a very reasonable flight schedule, that is the best option so far!

Google Flights is the best place to start to find the cheapest flights
See the "Travel on October 20 for $81" pop-up!

Skyscanner

While no flight-searching platform is consistently the cheapest, Skyscanner would definitely be a top contender. This platform is reliable and has a well-supportive customer service department. 

  • Often has the best prices!
  • Explore Everywhere Feature
  •  Low Price Alert

Example: Skyscanner

Using Skyscanner, the best flight is $150 through Avianca. This is the same search result as the Dollar Flight Club above!

ITA Matrix

Owned by Google, the ITA Matrix is a common tool amongst travelers, that compares the prices of major airlines. This is another great way to get a baseline, but it often doesn’t boast the best prices. ITA Matrix has a unique UX compared to many of the other sites, which, is preferred by many users due to its expansive filter options. 

  • Low price alert
  • Calendar Price View
  • Does not include budget airlines
  • You must use the exact destination airport code

Example: ITA Matrix

Considering the ideal date of October 18, ITA Matrix provided a JetBlue flight option for $205. However, their calendar view showed a cheaper option for only $81 on October 20. 

Since 2 days is worth a $124 savings, the $86 flight with Frontier is a better option. 

Momondo

Momondo is a part of the Booking Holdings Corporation, which owns KAYAK, Expedia, Booking.com, and more. However, this site has a fun style and quality options! One of the best features is the Flight Insights view to see historical changes and the best times to go!
  • ‘Search Anywhere’ feature
  • Low price alerts

Example: Momondo

Using Momondo, the cheapest flight on October 18 is $150 with Avianca, as reported above by other sources.

Kayak

If you open KAYAK after Momondo, you’ll notice they are extremely similar, and so far I can’t see any difference! 

  • Flight price alerts
  • ‘Explore Everywhere’ feature
  • Date Range filter

Example: KAYAK

KAYAK shows a $150 flight from Avianca 

Step 3. Straight To The Source

Once you find the best flight at the lowest price, you may want to check out and be done. However, it’s worth it to go straight to the airline site and see if they offer the flight any cheaper. Sometimes, they even have discounts and deals on their website to encourage you to purchase through them rather than a 3rd party agency. Call customer service and see if you can lock in anything cheaper!

Example Decision: San Francisco to Costa Rica

So far, the cheapest flight from San Francisco > Costa Rica is $81 from Frontier as seen on Google Flights & the ITA Matrix. 

However, this flight is for October 13 or October 20, and if flying on a Friday doesn’t work, then the best option is $150 through Avianca on the 18th. 

Let’s move forward with Frontier!

The website does have a discount offer for members of the ‘Den’, however, this is a membership service costing $60/year and $40 enrollment. Definitely not worth buying into that unless you fly Frontier often!

So with some time and research, you found a flight for only $81 to Costa Rica using Google Flights.. time to pack your bags and get to planning!

Now that your flight is booked, get ready with everything you need to know about an International Phone Plan!

Summary - How To Book The Cheapest Flights

There are dozens if not hundreds of flight-searching options out there. You could spend your life finding deals and saving the most, but your time should also be valued in this process! 

The more flexibility you can have in your travel plans, the easier it is to find flight prices you feel good about. Some major ways to save include traveling with only a carry-on, traveling mid-week, and going during the shoulder seasons.

There is no perfect answer when it comes to finding the best flight, so start with some ideas about what you want to prioritize so your primary needs are met, and the rest will fall into place!

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Budget, Transportation, Travel Planning, 0 comments
Ultimate Guide To Travel Insurance

Ultimate Guide To Travel Insurance

Traveling is filled with new experiences and exciting opportunities, but it definitely doesn’t always go to plan! There are a lot of things that could go wrong while on the other side of the world. Be prepared for the worst with travel insurance coverage to protect yourself and your belongings with this ultimate guide to travel insurance.

There are so many things to cover, including your personal health, belongings, new camera, and the travel plan itself! But how do you know what insurance you need to cover everything? Keep reading to break down the available insurance options designed for travelers so that you can explore without worry!

Planning materials laid out on a map

Table of Contents

What insurance Do You Need

Types of Insurance

Travel Insurance: Insurance plan that covers trip interruptions or other costs related to travel including baggage delay, flight delay or cancellation, and hotel and rental car costs. Travel insurance is offered through many credit cards, covered in many travel medical & health plans, or can be purchased as a stand-alone plan. 

Travel Medical Insurance: Insurance plan that covers emergency medical needs while abroad. This is an excellent option for short and long-term travelers who don’t stay in the same country and don’t have underlying medical conditions.

Travel Health Insurance: Insurance while abroad to cover routine health needs & emergency medical needs. This is an excellent option for an expat or long-term digital nomad who needs regular doctor and dental visits.

Renter’s Insurance: Insurance plan that covers theft or damage to property. This will cover your personal assets both at home and while abroad!

Device Insurance: Insurance plan that covers electronic equipment and accessories. This is important for digital nomads and explorers that rely on their electronic devices such as a camera or laptops. While Renter’s Insurance does cover electronics, the limit may be lower than the value of the electronics property. 

 

Where Are you Insured

Since insurance is provided through contracted policies, there are limits and parameters that dictate where coverage is applied (and where it’s not)! And since insurance is a business, they get really good at slipping out of paying for you, so be sure that you understand the 

Be sure to read the policy to be sure of the coverage limitations, including your state of residence, country of residence, global, or any other restrictions. 

Insurance should be your best adventure buddy, not a limitation. Get a plan that allows you to live and travel to the fullest!

Be sure to check location limits for insurance policies to ensure you're covered everywhere you plan to travel!

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is the most basic and available insurance applicable to travelers, and many people don’t even know they’re already covered! Travel insurance is anything ranging from lost or delayed luggage, delayed or canceled flights, cancellations due to sickness or terrorism, rental car insurance, and more! Travel insurance can be obtained in many ways, including through Credit Card Benefits or bundled with a Medical Insurance plan

1. Credit Cards

Many credit cards are created with benefits and rewards for travelers when you use your card to book! There are so many options for credit cards designed for travelers. Check out the benefits of your credit card to see your benefits, you may already have travel insurance!

I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card that covers everything I could want for travel coverage! This includes rental car insurance up to the value of the car and trip cancellation coverage for myself and direct family/travel companions. and baggage delay reimbursements! As a bonus, I get a $50 credit annually to apply toward any hotel booking!

2. Part of Medical Insurance

Most Medical Insurance policies created for travelers offer some travel insurance in their plan. It’s definitely a good idea to get emergency medical coverage while abroad to avoid any unforeseen costs due to an accident or injury. Many of these plans offer a variety of other benefits to help you out during your travels. Keep reading below for some of the best travel medical insurance to find out more about travel insurance coverage and your considerations and options!

Be sure to get the most value from your insurance policies by comparing the costs of different options. Even if a medical insurance option may bundle in travel insurance for an extra fee, you could be getting those benefits for free with a particular credit card. It's a puzzle to get all the right pieces together for full coverage and savings!

Medical Insurance

Medical Insurance vs. Health Insurance

Travel Medical Insurance covers unforeseen circumstances and emergency services while traveling abroad. This includes anything from illnesses, injuries, accidents, evacuation, and more! Basically, anything that doesn’t happen regularly and isn’t a result of a pre-existing condition. Medical Insurance does not cover health care for pre-existing conditions, routine health care office visits (dental cleanings, physicals, check-ups for anything), and anything found in the policies exclusions.

This article is only highlighting travel medical insurance; emergency medical needs while abroad. If you want access to routine doctor’s office visits and preventative medical attention, or you’re moving abroad long-term, look into travel Health Insurance.

Things To Look For in a plan

  • Emergency evacuation coverage
  • Support finding doctors abroad
  • Prescription medication coverage
  • Duration of coverage
  • Location of coverage & location specific considerations
  • List of exclusions to consider
  • Physical activities that are excluded
  • Primary insurance requirements

Depending on the duration of your travels, you may still want a medical health insurance plan in your home country of residence! If you’re a long-term traveler, that’s a cost you’re probably looking to cut. Be sure to look at the policy requirements of all of the medical insurance plans below to see if Primary Insurance is required and needs to be included in your budget.

Having health insurance in your home country may be overkill, and it also will likely not be needed. However, accidents happen, and if something happens and you have to come home for medical treatment, you better hope to have some essential coverage!

1. SafetyWing - *Nomad Insurance

SafetyWing is the best generic travel medical insurance plan that is affordable and covers the basic needs of every traveler. This includes emergency evacuation coverage, repatriation to the home country due to life-threatening injury or illness, and more. Although it does have its drawbacks – like its cookie cutter plan options and limited coverage for some things, it is definitely a great option for most travelers!

Plans & Prices

  1. *Nomad Insurance ($45.08/month) – Travel Medical Insurance
    Great standard coverage for the basics abroad. Nothing too fancy, nothing too skimpy, just right in the middle for your average traveler, usable indefinitely!
  2. Nomad Health ($123/month) – Travel Health Insurance
    In-encompassing health insurance with coverage for routine medical needs and coverage for pre-existing conditions. 
  3. Remote Health ($80/month/member) – Travel Health Insurance For Digital Nomad teams
Pros Cons
  • Affordable
  • Includes Travel Insurance
  • Ease of Use
  • Coverage provided at home every 3 months abroad
  • Plan can be started from anywhere and stay active until 70 years of age!
  • A lot of exclusions for activities
  • Vague language in policy
  • Added expense for coverage in the US (not applicable to US residents)
  • Travel insurance is limited
  • No customized policy options
  • Prescription limited to 60 days

2. World Nomads

World Nomads is an insurance provider that is designed for true explorers. Unlike SafetyWing, World Nomads offers packages based on your residency, destinations, and travel duration so you get exactly what you need for your adventure. Check out their website for a quote for your plan options based on your info! The plan prices listed below are an estimate and will change based on your age, location, and travel plans!

Plans & Prices

  1. Standard Plan ($100/month)*

    Great for travelers who aren’t afraid to push the limits and want to feel comfortable doing it. Includes some extreme sports and comprehensive medical coverage. 

  2. Explorer Plan ($150/month)*
    The Explorer Plan is for the most extreme adventurers who like to live on the edge. This is the best Medical Insurance plan out there for thrill seekers around the world!

*Costs based above are based on: age 26 American citizen traveling to Guatemala and Argentina for 6 months.
 
Pros Cons
  • Personalized cost based on travel needs and duration
  • Includes Travel Insurance
  • Ease of Use
  • Extensive coverage, limited exclusions
  • Includes loss, theft and damage of personal assets and gear
  • Covered domestically >100 miles from home
  • Cost
  • Limited to 180-day coverage
  • Not as reasonable for non-extremists

3. GeoBlue / HTH Worldwide - (US Residents Only)

GeoBlue (owned by Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield) has recently partnered with HTH Travel Insurance to offer additional options for coverage! This is a great option for anyone who doesn’t want their insurance set up to change a lot from home. Geoblue has many options for short-term travel, frequent explorers, and digital nomads and expats abroad! *Be sure to check if primary health insurance is required or not. If you’re a US resident traveling abroad, look for low-cost options covering basic emergency needs at home.

Plans & Prices

  1. Voyager ($25/month)* – Single Trip Insurance
    The Voyager plan is for single-trip travelers and is limited to 180 days. 
    (Hint: If you call before the expiration date you can extend your coverage!)
  2. Trekker ($175/month)* – Multi-Trip Insurance
    The Trekker Plan is for multi-trip travelers in a 12-month period. Travel cannot last longer than 70 days and requires that the insured has a primary health insurance policy.
  3. Xplorer Plan – Long-Term / Expat
    The Xplorer plan is for long-term travelers or expats that need a more permanent and full-coverage plan. Plan options are dependent on your destination, family, age, and more, so plan pricing differs situationally.
Pros Cons
  • Personalized cost based on travel needs and duration
  • Includes Travel Insurance
  • Expands to HTH Worldwide for additional options
  • Great coverage options in the US (necessary)
  • Great for people who need Rx abroad
  • Great travel insurance
  • Cost
  • Limited to 180-day coverage
  • 12-hour delay required for baggage reimbursements
  • Some plans require primary health insurance
  • Limited by State
  • Requires in-network providers abroad

Personal Property Insurance

For every traveler, the things you carry on your back are essential to your nomadic life! The extra movement puts wear and tear on your things and increases the chances of a major incident happening, potentially putting you out thousands. Renter’s Insurance is a great option for anyone with expensive gear they plan to bring on their adventures, including sporting equipment, gear, electronics, or jewelry! While some travel and medical insurance offers some coverage on tech gadgets and gear, chances are it’s not enough to cover the cost of some of these more expensive items.

As a digital nomad, I rely on my laptop and camera equipment to travel the world. That’s on top of my technical gear and personal items that I simply like to have. I feel safe and covered against the worst situations knowing Renter’s Insurance will cover my items.

Renter's Insurance vs Device Insurance

Renter’s insurance is a great option to insure your personal belongings and property! There are many options available with different exclusions and coverages based on your location and assets. However, the renter’s insurance may have a cost limitation in coverage.  

If you have high-tech devices you use and travel with, they could be valued at greater than $10,000. If that’s you, then you may want to find an insurance plan specifically designed for electrical gadgets to cover the cost of potential damage, especially considering the added movement that could impact your gear!

Summary - The Traveler's Guide To Insurance

Life doesn’t always go to plan, especially when you’re constantly on the go and living a world away! Making sure you have the coverage you need to save on unforeseen costs is the best way to move freely and easily knowing that you got your back. Thinking about travel insurance while setting up a credit card is a must, these often have the best travel insurance! When selecting medical insurance, be realistic about what you see yourself doing, and work around that to make sure your top needs are met.  

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Insurance, Travel Planning, 0 comments
Best VPN for Travel & Digital Nomads

Best VPN for Travel & Digital Nomads

In today’s interconnected world, where your digital data is your most valued asset and privacy and security are paramount, having a Virtual Private Network (VPN) has become an essential tool for everyone. Whether you’re jet-setting across the globe or working remotely from a tropical paradise, a VPN can safeguard your online activities, protect sensitive information, and even help you save money. In this guide, we’ll dive into the world of VPNs and explore the top options for young budget-conscious travelers, to help you stay protected online! Keep reading to find out the best VPN for travel!

Woman sitting and working at a cafe, protected online with a VPN

Table of Contents

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Summary & Recommendation

1. SurfsharkOverall Best Travel VPN. #1 choice for No Trace Travel due to its low cost, high speeds, the most countries with server locations, and added features for a better experience. Stay protected online with Surfshark today!

2. NordVPNFastest Speeds Travel VPN. is a quality-assured option, a favorite of many due to its long-term success as a VPN service.

3. ExpressVPNMost Consistent Travel VPN. Reliable and affordable VPN with consistent speeds and reliability.

4. CyberGhostMost User-Friendly Travel VPN. Simple to use and consistent performance.

What Is a VPN?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a service that encrypts your internet connection and routes it through a secure server, masking your online identity and activities. This encryption shields your data from potential hackers, cybercriminals, and even nosy advertisers.

For travelers, this means added protection when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks in airports, cafes, and hotels. Additionally, a VPN can grant you access to geo-restricted content, allowing you to stream your favorite shows and access websites as if you were in your home country, or any country of your choice (hello unlimited Netflix options)!

Who Needs a VPN?

Anyone who values their online privacy and security can benefit from a VPN, not just the IT nerds who actually know about the breadcrumbs you leave with every click. The advantages are especially pronounced for young budget-conscious travelers and digital nomads:

  1. Secure Public Wi-Fi Usage: When you’re on the go, you’re likely to connect to various public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN ensures that your data remains encrypted and safe, preventing potential cyberattacks.

  2. Bypass Geo-Restrictions: If you’re traveling abroad and want to access content from your home country, a VPN can make it seem as though you’re still there, granting you access to your favorite websites and streaming services. Every country has different online restrictions, a VPN can help skirt around those (in a legal way).

  3. Cost Savings: Many online services, including flight booking websites and hotel reservation platforms, often display different prices based on your location. By using a VPN to appear as if you’re browsing from a different country, you might unlock better deals.

  4. Remote Work Security: For digital nomads, a VPN adds an extra layer of security when accessing company networks or sensitive work materials from various locations.

Cost - Many companies offer their goods and services at a rate consistent with your location, meaning there are deals out there waiting for you in other countries! Use a VPN to see your savings potential.

Considerations To Choose The Best VPN For You

All VPN’s are not created equally – each offers a different combination of features and quality for a competitive advantage. Before looking into VPNs to purchase, it is important to consider what factors are the most important to you! 

By carefully evaluating these factors and assessing how well each VPN meets your specific needs, you can confidently choose a VPN that enhances your online security, supports your digital lifestyle, and aligns with your budget.

Cost

While budget is a key concern for many travelers, remember that a slightly higher investment can often lead to better security and performance. Consider the value you’re getting for the price, including features like security protocols, server options, and customer support.

Security & Reliability

The primary purpose of a VPN is to enhance your online security and privacy. Look for a VPN with strong encryption protocols, a strict no-logs policy, and additional security features like a kill switch. Prioritize reliability and a solid reputation in the industry.

Number of Devices & Compatibility

If you have multiple devices or are traveling with others, a VPN that allows multiple simultaneous connections can be a significant advantage. Similarly, consider the devices you’ll be using during your travels. Ensure the VPN supports all the devices you plan to connect, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

Server Speed & Locations

VPNs can sometimes result in slower internet speeds due to the encryption and rerouting of traffic. Look for VPNs that prioritize maintaining high speeds, especially if you intend to stream content, video call, or work remotely.

The more server locations a VPN offers, the more versatility you have in accessing geo-restricted content and maintaining optimal browsing speeds. If you have specific regions in mind for your travels, ensure the VPN has servers in those areas.

Read More - Once you establish how you will protect your data online, check out everything you need to know about International Phone Plans!

Option 1 - SurfShark

Surfshark is a versatile VPN option that offers a well-rounded set of features suitable for budget-conscious travelers and digital nomads, making it our #1 Choice for Travelers. It stands out with its unlimited simultaneous connections, allowing you to secure all your devices under one subscription. With a quickly growing network of over 3200 servers in 100 countries, Surfshark provides an amazing range of server locations for accessing geo-restricted content and maintaining good speeds.

Cost – $2.49/month for 2 years
Speed – 100+ Mbps
Servers – 3,200+ servers in 100 countries

Tip - Unlimited devices mean you can share the plan with your travel companions to save!

Option 2 - NordVPN

NordVPN is renowned for its strong emphasis on security and privacy. With a vast network of over 5000 servers in 60 countries, it offers a wide range of server options for accessing global content. NordVPN is a solid choice for users seeking advanced security features while maintaining good connection speeds. It also provides specialized servers for activities like streaming and torrenting.

Cost – $5.49 / month for 2 years
Speed – 100+ Mbps
Servers – 5,608 servers in 60 countries

Option 3 - Express VPN

ExpressVPN is a high-performance VPN option with a focus on speed and reliable connections. With 3000+ servers in 94 countries, it offers a broad server network for accessing content from around the world. ExpressVPN is particularly popular among users who prioritize streaming, as it provides consistent speeds and reliable access to geo-blocked content.

Cost – $6.67/month for 1 year (+3 months free)
Speed – 100+ Mbps
Servers – 3,000+ servers in 94 countries

Option 4 - CyberGhost

CyberGhost is known for its user-friendly interface and is a great option for beginners. With over 7300 servers in 91 countries, it offers an extensive server network. CyberGhost places a strong focus on streaming optimization, making it a preferred choice for users who want seamless access to geo-restricted content.

Cost – $2.19/month for 2 years (+2 months free)
Speed – 100+ Mbps
Servers – 9,438 servers in 91 countries

Summary - Best VPN for Travelers & Digital Nomads

Selecting the right VPN depends on your specific needs. Consider factors such as server locations (to access content from your preferred regions), speed (necessary for streaming and remote work), and ease of use. Each of these VPN options provides a range of features tailored to different requirements, ensuring that you can travel with peace of mind, knowing your online activities are secure.

In conclusion, a VPN is a valuable investment for any young budget-conscious traveler or digital nomad. Not only does it protect your sensitive information, but it also enhances your online freedom and opens up a world of possibilities. 

Choose a VPN that aligns with your travel needs, and embark on your adventures with the confidence that your digital footprint remains secure and untraceable.

Purchase an External Hard Drive before you go!
Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Technology, Travel Planning, 0 comments
The Ultimate Europe Packing List

The Ultimate Europe Packing List

Embarking on a long-term, slow travel adventure across Europe is an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in diverse cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and fascinating history. This Ultimate Europe Packing List will help you prepare for any European vacation, ensuring you have everything you need while treading lightly on the planet. 

From essential items to eco-friendly alternatives, let’s dive in!

Two people clinking cups on an airplane, on the way to travel Europe!

Table of Contents

Anything purchased through the links on this page helps me maintain this blog going. Thanks for supporting – Learn More.

Weather & Seasons

Depending on the time of year you’ll be in Europe, your packing decisions will vary significantly! As you can see from the map below, there are very different climatic regions across the continent, and your luggage should be filled with items that fit that terrain.

Luckily in Europe, it is pretty easy to travel between countries, especially if they are in the Schengen Region. That is useful to plan your travel accordingly and focus your exploration on a region, rather than the whole continent!

Source: Britannica

Summer

Summer in Europe boasts lush green trees, waterfalls, warm weather, and long days. In fact, some parts of Northern Europe have 24-hour days where the sun never sets! This is the best time of year to explore Europe, especially for the outdoorsy ones who can’t wait to jump in a lake or camp under the stars. 

This is a perfect time of year to focus on travel around swimming in alpine lakes in central and eastern Europe or relaxing on the coast of the Mediterranean in Southern Europe & Iberia. 

Autumn

Autumn in Europe is a perfect place to see the leaves transition through colors of crimson and gold as the days get shorter and colder. 

Autumn is a great time to visit Europe since the cost of travel is lower than in summer, but it is still relatively warm and beautiful to explore the natural landscapes and history that was founded here. 

Winter

Winter in Europe hits differently at various latitudes. Northern Europe gets very cold, reaching sub-freezing temperatures as early as October. In contrast, winter along the Mediterranean means brisk days and a lot of rainfall. 

Visiting Europe in winter is great for those who want to ski in the Alps, see the Northern Lights, or take advantage of the insanely low prices! Take the chance to check out the famous Christmas Markets and take part in local traditions. 

Spring

Spring in Europe is filled with wildflowers, blossoming trees, wildlife, and fresh streams and lakes filled with recent snowmelt. This time of year is when everyone appreciates the longer days, the warmth of the sun, and the feeling of summer around the corner. 

Visiting Europe in spring is perfect for those looking for a mellow retreat in quiet towns, and for those that love the sweater weather and the sun all at once. This is the perfect time to dive into the cultural history, castles, and museums that cover the European continent. 

Top Packing Suggestions

Packing for a trip is a personal decision, and while there are tons of lists that tell you how many shirts to bring, everyone has their preferences. However, the items that are essential to bring to Europe, should be highlighted above all else.

Every destination has its ‘things’ that you learn once you’re there – the atmosphere in crowds or the accessibility to amenities. This list covers the things you learn you need in Europe, only after you’ve been!

1. Comfortable Shoes

You’ve probably heard it before about wearing good shoes in Europe, but wow that is accurate. So many of the best areas in Europe can only be accessed by using your feet, make sure to keep them comfortable and protected!

I’m pretty active, but when I was suddenly walking 10+ miles a day (16 km) on hard ground, my body felt it. As much as you’re attached to those dirty white Vans and Converse, they will not do you any good in Europe.

If you’re limited on space and don’t have the perfect pair that is versatile and comfortable, fear not. Europe is known for its footwear quality and design, so you can pick up something when you’re there! 

2. Coin Purse

Something that is overlooked is how you carry your money in Europe. If you’re from the US, you may be used to not really bothering with coins, or leaving them in a jar at home. However, there are 20 countries in Europe that all use the Euro. The exchange rate fluctuates, but it hovers around $1 = €1.

Unlike American bills, the Euro has €1 and €2 coins, so suddenly the coins are worth a lot more, and they’re in circulation a lot more too. For any American male, when was the last time you had a zipper pocket to store coins? 

Having a small coin purse, or even a random bag to collect them will be useful to have! This is especially important for using public restrooms. They often cost some money, anywhere from 50 cents to €2, and many only accept coins!

 

3. Pickpocket Safety

And on the topic of money, pickpocketing is a common profession in many European hotspots, and wow they are good. Be aware of your surroundings, and who may be seeing interested in you and your things. Don’t flash your money and valuables around, and keep things tucked away in safe bags in public areas. Also, be aware of any distractions that are designed to lower your guard and awareness, they can be sneaky!

I personally have some emergency money and essential document copies stored somewhere safe when I travel. It is also a good trick to not keep all your cash in the main slot in your wallet. Fold up a few bills and tuck them behind your insurance card or in your phone case in case someone forces you to give you money, you have some extra stashed away. 

4. Outlet Adapter

Nowadays, we rely on our devices to help us navigate, as a source of education, and so much more. Having a reliable way to charge your electronics and connect to power is essential. 

While it can be easy to just go to an electronics store in your destination, not all adapters are created equally. Getting 1 quality wall adapter that can be used in every country, and has multiple ports will save you a lot of headaches when trying to charge everything!

5. Local SIM

Connecting to a local phone plan is essential to stress-free travel. Whether you go into a mobile phone store and start a short-term travel plan, or purchase an eSIM online to manage your data usage, connecting to the internet will allow you to immerse more and get off of the beaten path. 

Luckily, Europe is very dense with people, creating a ton of locations to connect to wifi in public areas, cafes, restaurants, and shops. While this is a useful solution to staying connected online, it can be a headache, especially when things go unplanned. 

6. VPN

While you are connected to the internet, it is essential for your virtual privacy to be protected. Using the public internet can be dangerous as it creates a bridge of connection between this open-end source, and your device. Unfortunately, there are many people trained in accessing that bridge, and thus accessing your devices and the information on it. 

Using a VPN (virtual private network) is quick and easy, and will save you time, stress, and money in the future if someone attempts to hack into your devices. Especially if you work remotely, a VPN needs to be a part of your travel kit for virtual (and physical) safety.

As a reminder; when you are on any public WiFi, make sure to use a VPN to protect yourself online! Learn more here.

Best Luggage For Europe

Regardless of where you’re going, packing starts with the luggage that holds it all together. Generally, you have 2 options; a wheeled suitcase, or a trekking backpack. While it doesn’t matter too much which one you choose in the scheme of things, it may contribute to a more or less enjoyable and comfortable experience!

Typically, most long-term travelers will use a backpack between 35L-60L. These are great for organized storage, ease of movement, and potential budget opportunities since they can often pass as a carry-on, or comfortably sit on your lap in transit. 

Especially in Europe, wheeled suitcases are not ideal. Some of the best areas in Europe are along cobblestone roads, and nothing announces the arrival of a tourist like the rumbling on cheap wheels over historic walkways. 

The staircases and hallways in buildings are smaller, cars are smaller, literally, everything is smaller… which will make wheeling a massive block of a suitcase a complete headache. 

Ultimate Europe Packing List

Essential Items

  • Passport
  • Entry Documentation
  • Copy of Important Documents
  • International Driver's Permit
  • Travel Insurance

These are essential items to bring to every international destination! Make sure to check the embassy of your destination to see what entry requirements there are before you arrive. 

It’s a good practice to have a digital and photocopy of important documents such as your passport, visa, driver’s license, and international driving permit.

Find the right Insurance Plan for you!

Health & Safety

Being prepared for the elements helps you enjoy your experience a lot more. Avoid itchy (and potentially dangerous) bug bits, and sunburns with these items!

Be sure to look into the natural hazards and threats of where you will be visiting, so you can be prepared! This is especially true if you’re traveling to Europe in winter when the elements are much harsher. 

Clothing

  • Shirts & Tank Tops
  • Shorts & Pants
  • Dresses & Skirts
  • Layers for warmth
  • Jacket
  • Scarf
  • Tennis Shoes / Hiking Shoes
  • Comfortable Sandals
  • Bulky Jacket
  • Heavy Boots

Clothing is always a personal choice, so this is just guidance. Your clothing choices will depend on where in Europe you will be, and the time of year. 

In general, the attire in Europe is well-dressed but comfortable. Business casual, but on a Friday. Of course, there are always differences (bright & bold colors in Spain vs. muted & natural tones in Austria). 

Focus on versatile clothes that you can use for any adventure, and it helps to have a general color scheme that is easy to mix and match within. If something can’t be worn for 3 different occasions, or doesn’t match 3 different outfits, it’s probably not the best choice!

Toiletries

Luckily most of Europe has many of the basic amenities and products you are already using at home.

While traveling long-term, I focus on items that are reusable vs. single-use to cut down on space, cost, and waste! I couldn’t imagine traveling with a box of tampons or makeup wipes.

European countries have very proud cultures and indulge in the natural beauty of things. Don’t worry so much about having the perfect products and always being perfectly styled.

Check out my top toiletries I couldn’t imagine traveling without!

Electronics

Staying connected is important in this electronic world. It is essential to have a quality adapter that works in all the countries you will be in. 

It can be easy to overpack electronics since we’re so used to having them everywhere. Be selective about what you bring and make sure it will work for what you need.

Opt for items with longer battery life, lightweight, and only the essentials!

Some of these are self-explanatory, and up to each traveler to decide what would be beneficial vs a waste of space.

A string & carabiners are so helpful to set up your space and stay organized. Whether you need a makeshift curtain at a hostel or a way to hang your bags, we always use these!

We also couldn’t travel without our microfiber towel for a quick dip in the river, a picnic blanket, or to complete that hostel curtain!

Some other things to consider could be a journal, an art set, a yoga mat, outdoor adventure gear, or whatever else you want to make anywhere feel like home!

 

Summary - Ultimate Europe Packing List

Taking off on a slow travel adventure across Europe presents an opportunity to not only explore captivating destinations but also prioritize environmental conservation and minimize personal impact. It is essential to understand the natural environment where you will be exploring, and what additional considerations are necessary regarding the weather, seasons, cultural practices, and personal preference.

The choices we make while traveling have the power to shape a brighter and greener future. So, pack your bags responsibly, explore with curiosity, and leave only footprints of admiration behind!

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Europe, 0 comments
10 Things To Know Before Visiting Bali

10 Things To Know Before Visiting Bali

Bali is on everyone’s travel list – the waterfalls, the ocean, the cost, and the friendly people have made it a top destination in recent years. While it is relatively easy to navigate (since most people speak English), there are still a few things to know before visiting Bali

Check out what is awaiting you on the ‘Island of the Gods’, and use this Itinerary for 2 Weeks in Bali before your trip so you hit the ground running to all of the top destinations (and hidden gems)!

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