Author: billyfreeze

OMG! I lost my passport!

     When travelers complain about luggage getting lost or start packing 2 weeks before a trip, I’ve always told them the same thing. The only two things you really need for any international trip is money and a passport.In reality you can actually get by without money for a little while if you’re resourceful, but the passport is the key that opens the lock for international travel. In a paperless world, no one has really come up with a way to really identify you without this little magical booklet. All passports are not created equal either. An American passport makes traveling around most of Europe easy peasy. Countries like India and Russia are required to get visas for many places that someone from the states can breeze in and out of on a whim. So, knowing this, I’m surprised how many travelers don’t treat their passport like the treasure that it is. They’ll leave them on tables, absent-mindedly stuff them in pockets, and leave them in hotel rooms. Having said that, my advice is take care of your passport! You can replace one but it’s not fast and it’s not usually cheap. I’m telling you this because I’m the traveling wizard. I’m an expert who would never lose track of my passport or anyone else’s….until now! At this moment of writing I’m sitting in Nicaragua trying to figure out...

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Traveling as a lifestyle

As I’m going through some old photos tonight and posting them on Flickr, I see the evolution of my travels and recall my first adventures when I started discovering the world. If someone had told me when I was 20 years old that I would be gallivanting around the globe, I would probably not believed them. When I was 12, I collected stamps.I looked at each little square as I put it in my book and wondered what places like Deutch Bundepost and Malagasy might be like. I never dreamed years later when I first left America that I would be doing it a LOT. Lately I’ve been talking to a lot of people about my “religion” or lifestyle or whatever you want to call it. What I’ve discovered is that most people that I talk to, don’t really get it. The strange thing is everyone says they want to travel but most people don’t. When I say travel, I’m not talking about going to Cancun for a week, I’m not talking about a balcony suite on a Caribbean cruise, I’m not talking about going to New Orleans for a weekend. Yes, these can be traveling experiences, but most people I know that plan trips, do it the same way they pay a bill. They figure out a place that they can go cheap or a place where they...

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10 Ways to Save Money Your First Day Traveling

I’ve always said that the first day of your vacation is the most expensive. Why is that? Chances are you don’t know prices or currency conversions. You probably have to exchange money, get transport to your hotel and then tip a bunch of people who stand between you and your hotel room and you don’t really know how much. For many people, the unknown factor of not knowing what you’re getting into is enough to keep them from making the journey. I’ve come up with a few tips that’s made things a lot easier and cheaper. Here they are: 1. Screenshots– Once you leave the USA, your phone becomes a brick unless you leave your data running (an expensive mistake). If you take a screenshot of your hotel confirmation, your car rental or anything else that you’re going to need to remember, then you won’t have to worry about printing it or finding a wifi zone to recall it once you arrive. You can show it to the taxi driver when he doesn’t understand your Czech or to the hotel when they can’t find your reservation. Problem solved. 2. Know your currency exchange rate– Look it up before you ever arrive. Airport banks can have terrible exchange rates if there’s no competition and you’ll have no perspective to judge what a taxi or anything else costs. Once you start...

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Why you should go to South Dakota

When I told my friends that I was going to South Dakota, most of them just gave me a “why would anyone go to South Dakota?” look. I have traveled the globe and been to many fantastic places, so what is my  fascination with the Black Hills? A few places in America have been on my list for a long time and it seemed to be a good way to knock a few of these spots off my list. It turned out to be an amazing trip!   When I was 15, my family did a 2 week long trip to Utah to visit some friends. As we were driving back, I begged and pleaded my mom to redirect our trip to Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore even though it was a long way in the wrong direction. The only reason I really knew about either place was that I had been given a 3D Viewmaster for Christmas and those were two places that practically jumped out of the lens and called out to me. She eventually conceded and we had a fabulous time driving our “Herbie the Love Bug” Volkswagen through the mountains to see these places. On the way back home, I was looking through a brochure and saw an article about another giant mountain carving called “Crazy Horse” that had been started in the late 40s and was...

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How to Read Russian in 2 Easy Steps

I guess before you start thinking how amazingly multilingual I am, I should point out that I don’t read Russian. Let me take that back; what I mean to say is that I don’t understand or speak Russian. I do however have the ability to sound out words. Remember when you first learned to read in first grade and you were so proud that you could finally read every billboard aloud that your parents drove past? That’s where I am. A month ago I looked at a Russian word the same way that I look at Chinese: an incomprehensible labyrinth of symbols with foreign meanings that no one could understand except for people who live in Moscow or Siberia. I planned a trip to Eastern Europe a few months ago and as I was flitting through some things-you-have-to-see websites devoted to Bulgaria and Ukraine, it suddenly occurred to me that I might have a problem. These former Soviet bloc countries use the Cyrillic alphabet; and guess what? Me no understand Cyrillic! I usually try to learn a few key phrases to get me by in any country I visit, but in this part of the world “Good morning comrade” and “I’d like some more vodka” only get you so far. The real issue is how to read a train timetable, how to understand if you’re in the right place,...

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