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Hostel Horror Stories

Hostels are one of the staples of budget travel, whether you’re on a year-long RTW trip like me or a shorter vacation. Found nearly everywhere outside the US, these shared spaces help travelers save money and make friends. Though they have a bad reputation among many less experienced travelers, there are plenty of hostels that are clean, comfortable, and safe. Sometimes, however, it’s true that you pay a different price for that tempting low nightly rate. Below are all my worst hostel experiences from nearly a year on the road.

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WorldSmith of the Month: Writer Alina Popescu

WorldSmith of the Month is a new feature, showcasing traveling artists and creative professionals around the world. I believe travel in itself can be a creative pursuit, but there are so many ways travel and art can (and do) intersect and fuel one another. Travel can bring you closer to creative endeavors, and living creatively can help you travel more. Read on to meet the newest addition to the WorldSmith community and learn how she balances art and travel.

How many of us had our wanderlust first inspired by a beloved book? The Three Musketeers swashbuckles us to 17th century France. Shogun turns back the clock to feudal Japan. Authors from Ernest Hemingway to Elizabeth Gilbert are as famous for their personal travels as they are for their writing. In fantasy writer Alina Popescu’s first novel, she had the unique pleasure of reliving some of her favorite trips through the eyes of her heroine. From her earliest memories, she says, “Travel was something I looked forward to, and the urge to see more, discover more, became a part of who I am.”

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RTW Budget: Nepal

I stand by my choice to trek with a group. But, because I booked an organized tour, Nepal ended up being one of the more expensive countries on my RTW trip. View the full breakdown of what I spent on a 16-day tour of Nepal below.

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Why I Booked a Group Tour

Sometimes it seems like travelers’ favorite thing to do isn’t to travel, but to pass judgment on other travelers. In the months leading up to my guided trek of the Annapurna Sanctuary, I had more than one person turn their nose up at my choice to do this on an organized tour. Yes, it’s true – I booked a group tour with Intrepid Travel for an activity that others prefer to undertake independently. Here are just a few reasons why.

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Trekking Annapurna

When I first started planning my RTW trip, I’d never given a second thought to visiting Nepal, and had never even heard of the Annapurna range. Early in my process though, I met Mike and Anne Howard of HoneyTrek, who couldn’t speak highly enough of the tiny Asian nation. While I caught a lot of flack from fellow travelers for booking an organized tour with Intrepid to trek the Annapurna Sanctuary – a range of mountains in the country’s west – it didn’t change any of the scenery. And best of all, my boyfriend got to join me and celebrate his birthday with two weeks of hiking, hot springs, and teahouse stays. Tag along by clicking through the photos below.

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WorldSmith of the Month: Musician Lena Tarasyuk

WorldSmith of the Month is a new feature, showcasing traveling artists and creative professionals around the world. I believe travel in itself can be a creative pursuit, but there are so many ways travel and art can (and do) intersect and fuel one another. Travel can bring you closer to creative endeavors, and living creatively can help you travel more. Read on to meet the newest addition to the WorldSmith community and learn how she balances art and travel.

“As soon as you see someone in your hostel with a guitar, you instantly know you can easily build a conversation with them,” says travel blogger Lena Tarasyuk. But what if instead of a guitar in a hostel, it was a ukulele on a street corner with a camera set up to record?

In addition to her work on the Travel Monkey website and blog, Lena and her partner travel the world making music and bringing together new friends. Continue reading

RTW Budget: India

India is famous as a budget-friendly destination, but how much does it really cost? I spent two days in transit and 10 days in Delhi with perhaps the least expensive hostel and dining expenses of any destination on my RTW itinerary.

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Why I Didn’t Go to the Taj Mahal

It is incredibly difficult for me not to consider my trip to India a failure. While there were certainly positives, between jackass hostel guests, my own mistakes, and a million outside factors that are nobody’s fault… it was kind of a shitshow. Case in point: Who goes to India and doesn’t see the Taj Mahal?

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Never Knew Your Name: The Unsung Angels of Travel

One of the biggest things I have learned on my RTW trip is to appreciate even the briefest of connections. As an introvert, I tend to seek out deeper relationships. We introverts detest small talk and prefer to invest our limited social energy in a small circle of close friends. That luxury doesn’t exist when you’re constantly on the road. In fact, with many of the people that have stood out in my travels, we never even exchanged names.Nonetheless, they made so many aspects of my trip easier and became the unsung angels of the road.

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Are You Ready for India?

Before flying into New Delhi on my RTW trip, I had never been outside of Europe and the United States. Clearly, some part of me wanted to just rip that band-aid right off. I spent hours reading everything I could about India. It’s not exactly a country highly recommended to solo female travelers, particularly if you’ve never been anywhere else on the Asian continent.

But why is that exactly? Why do all the challenges of India make it an unwise destination for inexperienced travelers? Is Delhi somehow really uniquely terrible?

I was surprised when I landed and didn’t feel an immediate, strong culture shock. Delhi largely looked as I imagined it, with ruddy dust-filled streets, tangled webs of traffic, and oranges and bananas piled high at road-side stalls. In my first few days, I had to focus on work and much of my ‘travel’ experience was limited to simply taking a walk around the city and maybe going out for lunch.

As I wandered and saw the challenges of travel in India first-hand, I realized why I wasn’t reacting to the typical culture shock triggers. I had, in fact, seen them before in other cities – they weren’t unique to Delhi at all. Are you ready for India? See how many of these challenges you know how to handle.

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