Girl Eating Vietnamese Food

DIY Hanoi Street Food Tour – 10 Best Hanoi Markets & Food Spots

Vietnamese Markets, Food Streets & Hidden Restaurants

Get ready for a Hanoi Street Food Tour that you can do all on your own.

Anthony Bourdain and I agree…the best Vietnamese food is in Hanoi. The world-famous foodie shot an entire episode of “Parts Unknown” in Hanoi, highlighting Hanoi food culture over bowls of Bun Cha with Barack Obama and grilled squid from street carts…and grilled squid on boats…and grilled squid in restaurants. There was a lot of squid.

With the cooler northern climate, the proximity to the Chinese border & Chinese influence, and the quick access to freshwater fish, prawns, crab, shrimp, crab, and shellfish – Hanoi food culture is totally unique. You’ll find dishes in Hanoi that can’t be done as fresh and won’t be done as delicious in the other regions of Vietnam.

I’d go as far as saying that these three dishes should only be consumed in Hanoi to get the full experience:

  • Bún Chả – Barbecued Pork with Rice Vermicelli
  • Nem Cua Be – Crab Spring Rolls
  • Bún Bò Nam Bộ – Beef Noodle Salad

Hungry, yet? Let’s start eating.

The Best Food Markets and Street Stalls in Hanoi

 

#1 – Cho Hom Market

https://www.instagram.com/p/Brzh_7_F60l/

Rise and shine. Cho Hom Market (aka Hom Market) is prepared to kick-start your day with the widest selection of fresh juice made with exotic Southeast Asian fruit! Come early and watch the locals haggle while collecting the day’s produce. This is how true Vietnamese families shop.

Cho Hom Market also features a “Wet Market” where fresh meat is butchered and live seafood swims in tiny pools waiting to be bought. After your blood is surging with Vitamin C, head upstairs to the fabric market!

Must Try: Dracontomelon

Open: 6 am – 6 pm

Where: 79 Hue Street

GoogleMaps Link

#2 – Dong Xuan Market

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv6_Ku0BCXd/

How did Dong Xuan Market become the largest street food market in Hanoi? Well, first and foremost, Dong Xuan Market is a fabric and souvenir market with literally hundreds of vendors hawking their goods every day. And these hundreds of vendors need somewhere to eat, right?

To cater to the hungry vendors during the breakfast and lunch rush, street food vendors started setting up shop with soups, grilled meat on a stick, and beverages in bags (the fast-food versions of Vietnamese food). As tourists started to roll in, the cuisine diversified to include both traditional Vietnamese dishes and exotic treats like Korean fish-shaped pancakes and tokbokki.

Must Try: Snail Vermicelli Soup

Open: 7am – 6pm

Where: Dong Xuan Street

GoogleMaps Link

#3 – Quán Gốc Đa

https://www.instagram.com/p/BmQhfq9H-NB/

This street food stall serves ordinary nem cua be (deep fried pork and crab spring roll) with a sauce that you’ll be tempted to drink through a straw. A magical mixture of fish sauce, fresh greens, and cucumber slices – this sauce is famous citywide. Dunk your crab rolls and devour.

Must Try: Nem Cua Be

Open: 10 am- 10 pm daily

Where: 52 Lý Quốc Sư

GoogleMaps Link

#4 – Bun Rieu Cua

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bx__GIzFKQI/

In Vietnam, breakfast is served in a bowl. Bún Riêu Cua, a crab-cake soup with vermicelli noodles and fresh greens. It’s the perfect dish for those chilly Hanoi winters and will only cost you 30k ($1.30). With tables and chairs out on the sidewalk, you can enjoy your meals with a view of the city waking up – perfect for solo travel foodies in Vietnam.

Must Try: Bún Riêu

Open: 7 am-10:30 pm, daily

Where: 11 Hàng Bạc

GoogleMaps Link

 #5 – Hang Buom Street

https://www.instagram.com/p/BwCfGozBZkL/

Not the biggest, but one of the most fascinating! Hang Buom Street packs 40 street food stalls into 300 meters of street stall real estate. You can try a little bit of everything here when it comes to traditional Vietnamese food. Dishes like Vietnamese pho, sticky rice, sweet soups, and porridges with dough to sweet boiled corn and sticky candy represent Hanoi food culture to a T.

Must Try: Fresh Beer (homemade, less than $1 per pint)

Open: Friday to Sunday, 6 pm-Midnight

Where: Hang Dao Street to Hang Giay Street.

GoogleMaps Link

#6 – Beer Street

https://www.instagram.com/p/BhmUK1QgFoH/

You’ve never seen anything like Beer Street, aka Ta Hien Street. This narrow alleyway is the bustling, mingling, eating, and drinking spot where locals gather to sit on plastic stools eating stir-fried noodle dishes and drinking cheap beer. Like…20¢ per beer cheap! After you’ve had your fill, head out on foot to explore the famous Old Quarter.

Ps. This little street is an easy place for solo travelers to make friends and meet other travelers in Hanoi!

Must Try: Bia Co

Open: 8 am to 10:30 pm daily

Where: Ta Hien Street

GoogleMaps Link

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#7 – Nghia Tan Market

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BmC7DllHLpb/

Get off the beaten path, away from the tourists, and into local territory at this Hanoi night market. The Tan Market is the best place to find cheap, tasty snacks in Hanoi. Be adventurous with the Wormwood Balut or get an easily-identifiable dish like deep-fried spring rolls or meat on a stick.

Must Try: Anything on a Stick!

Open: 6 am-8 pm, daily

Where: 24 Nghĩa Tân

GoogleMaps Link

#8 – The Old Lady

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bi_w1pWln86/

This little gem is easily missed on a cursory glance. In a city bursting with color, this stall’s small hand-drawn sign is inconspicuous. The surest way to identify this stall is the old woman/ man who is operating the stove while calling out: “Nem chua không em ơi?!!” Which roughly translates to: “Friend, would you like some fermented pork rolls?” The dark alley and the dim light behind the stall lend it an air of mystery and adventure.

Must Try: Fermented pork rolls

Open: 7 am-10:30 pm, daily

Where:  38 Hàng Bông Street

GoogleMaps Link

 

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#9 – Thanh Cong Market

https://www.instagram.com/p/BekCM18l5Tj/

With the widest variety of dishes in one small market, Thanh Cong Market is an easy one to explore. My favorite dish here is the Congee (mashed rice porridge) that many locals eat for breakfast. You’ll find deep-fried bread that are a mix between donuts and breadsticks, that are dipped into the porridge to soak up all the yummy ricey goodness. In more of a lunch mood? Some of the best Pho in Hanoi can be found in Thanh Cong Market!

Must Try: Mashed Porridge

Open: 7am-8 pm, daily

Where:  Nguyen Chi Thanh Street

GoogleMaps Link

#10 – Bún Bò Nam Bộ

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxLtN-pH5Tf/

Easily my favorite dish in all of Hanoi (especially after a few beers), Bún Bò Nam Bộ is a beautiful harmony of texture and flavors that represent Hanoi food culture beautifully. Aka “Beef Noodle Salad,” this dish combines a beef broth with tender strips of beef, vermicelli noodles, crunchy greens and crispy shallots that is refreshing and filling. You’ve never had anything like it.

Must Try: Bún Bò Nam Bộ (duh)

Open: 7:30 am- 10:30pm, daily

Where: 67 Hàng Điếu

GoogleMaps Link

#11 – Bonus: Motorbike Street Food Tour in Hanoi

Need to stuff your face in a hurry? Food tour by motorbike is the best way to eat a lot in a little amount of time. Hanoi Food Tasting Tours offers a thrilling 5-hour Hanoi food tour that zips you around the city to the best Vietnamese street food destinations. You can either drive a motorbike yourself or hop on the back of a staff motorbike (with a beer in hand, of course).

Starting at: $50 per person

Contact: HanoiFoodTastingTours.com

DIY Hanoi Street Food Tour Tips

The best food tour isn’t just about the food; it’s also about the culture, the adventure, and the little old lady who sits next to you while you fumble with your chopsticks. Spend at least 3 days in Hanoi. That’s enough time for 9 meals (12 if you’re ambitious). Plan restaurants in the morning, then street food and street beer in the afternoons and evenings. Download GrabTaxi. Take bikes to markets you can’t reach on foot. Show up. Point to things that look good. Order dishes that I recommend in this list. And always always eat with a cold beer.

 

Before You Travel to Vietnam!!

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scuba girl

8 Best Scuba Diving Courses in Southeast Asia (July 2019)

Mermaids, come hither!

Swim deep where the wifi, traffic, gossip, and pressure of human life will never exist.

I’ve got 8 Best Scuba Diving Courses in Southeast Asia – all of which are located in the best destinations for solo female travelers.
Becoming Scuba Certified sounds intimidating…but the courses are just 4 glorious days of learning, practice, and diving which anyone with two legs (and zero inner ear problems) can do.

As Southeast Asia is a tropical region with islands and beaches…you can obviously expect to find hundreds of dive schools in Asia where you can get PADI or SSI certified.

But wait! Not all scuba schools are created equal!

Beware of Scuba Schools that are “the most popular”. I made the mistake of diving at the trendiest scuba school in Koh Tao where they valued quantity over quality. This resulted in improper instruction + me having a busted eardrum that stopped me from diving for years (don’t worry, it’s all better now).

From the most cost-effective and SAFEST courses that offer some seriously gorgeous dive spots, get scuba certified with one of these highly-reputable scuba diving schools in Southeast Asia.

Let’s dive right in … (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

#1 –  The Cheapest – Bali, Indonesia

scuba bali

No surprises here – Bali is one of the most fun/beautiful/tropical islands in Southeast Asia…which also offers cheap open-water diving courses.

Adventure Divers Bali, located in Amed, gives you the opportunity to dive amongst some of the most gorgeous corals I’ve seen in Asia + WWII shipwrecks. Enjoy the underwater coral gardens and the abundant marine life where new species are discovered each year!

Called “the island of a thousand temples,” there is so much culture and history to absorb – both on land and in the water.

Bali is located in the heart of the Indonesian archipelago, with an easy-to-access international airport!

And Bali is one of the safest places for solo female travelers.

How Long is the Class:  4 days
How Much:  4,661,000 IDR ($330 USD)

Before you go to Bali, get your copy of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide: Bali

#2 – The Second Cheapest – Koh Tao, Thailand

Koh Tao Island in Thailand is famous for offering the lowest prices for scuba diving courses + stunning dive spots. This is where I did my Scuba Training, and I loved it!

Crystal Dive offers a certification course which won’t cost you an arm and a leg – just $352 for the Full 4-Day Beginners Course.

Koh Tao is home to an abundance of marine life and kaleidoscopic of corals with a diverse collection of dive spots meaning…every dive is different! Koh Tao also offers frequent sightings of the largest fish in the world – the whale shark!

With clear water, white-sanded beaches, cheap food, and tons of shopping… spending 4-5 days on Koh Tao is a dream come true!

Once your scuba course is finished, you’ll want to blow off some steam! Move on to nearby Koh Phangan or Koh Samui, which are the better party & nightlife destinations (Koh Tao nightlife I don’t recommend for solo girls anymore – read my Thailand Islands and Beaches travel guide for more on that).

How Long is the Class:  4 days
How Much:  11,000 THB (352 USD) + 400-800 THB ($6-$26 USD) /night for accommodation

 

Before you go to Thailand, get your copy of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide: Thailand 

 

#3 – The Most Exotic – Lembeh Island, Indonesia

Underwater Shot

Lembeh Straits is a resort located on Lembeh Island and operated by Two Fish Divers. Popular for being the muck diving capital of the world, Lembeh Straits will take you on an unforgettable underwater journey that won’t break the bank.

Muck diving features sandy slopes and limited visibility for a thrilling adventure. Get a peek of what to expect via this amazing underwater documentary here!

Lembeh Island is one of the rare spots with sightings of critters like pygmy sea-horses, hairy frogfish, and dazzling cuttlefish PLUS shipwrecks.

The resort is located on a private beach which opens up onto breathtaking tropical vistas. The bungalows are spacious and comfortable. The dive sites are nearby.

All of this makes Lembeh Straits an idyllic and relaxed spot to learn to scuba dive + is one of the best scuba diving spots in the world.

How Long is the Class:  4 days
How Much:  5,250,000 IDR (369 USD) OR 7,500,000 IDR with accommodation (526 USD)

 

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#4 – The Most Convenient – Phuket, Thailand

Thailand is one of the best countries to travel alone; and Phuket is one of the most convenient islands to reach from the US.

The island of Phuket is the biggest in Thailand with an international airport, making it an easy island to fly in and dive ASAP.

Racha Noi Island and Racha Yai Island are the most visited islands for rookie drivers. Both of these islands swarm with wildlife – you can see manta rays, stingrays, garden eels, and many more.

In Siam Bay, in the north part of Racha Yai, you can also spot some statutes beautifully overgrown with sea-weed and marine life. A truly eerie and mystical experience!

Sunrise Divers is one of the best dive shops in Phuket, offering a wonderfully-balanced 3-day and/or 4-day dive course for beginner open-water divers.

How Long is the Class:  3 or 4 days
How Much: From 14,900 THB (477 USD) for a 3-day course to 17,900 THB (573 USD) for a 4-day course.

The above prices vary depending on the number of open-water dives. The prices mentioned are the lowest and the highest for both courses.

Before you go to Phuket, get your copy of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide: Thailand Islands and Beaches

#5 – The Least Tourism – Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang has been gaining popularity in recent years but it’s still not as densely crowded with tourists as other diving destinations in Southeast Asia.

The coastal city of Nha Trang is home to some fascinating on-land history – so fascinating that most tourists don’t even think about jumping in the water. This is great for you if you want a more personal dive experience.

Rainbow Divers Vietnam will offer you a unique and intimate dive experience in their Nha Trang Dive Center.

Newbie divers can expect to see cuttlefish, octopi, and lionfish during their course.

Your PADI Open Water Diver course makes for a refreshing escape away from the big crowds, while giving you the pleasure of hanging with super cool and friendly dive instructors.

 

How Long is the Class:  3 or 4 days
How Much:  Starts from 400 USD

Before you go to Vietnam, get your copy of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide: Vietnam

#6 – Best for a Quick Trip – Singapore + Tioman Island

If you’re looking for a quick and easy course to wedge in between other traveling, ScubaDo has you covered. They organize shorter diving courses in Tekek Jetty, Tioman Island; an area you can access from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.

Tioman is the biggest island in the Malaysian Peninsula which is regarded as one of the most beautiful destinations in Southeast Asia. Its rainforests, beaches, and crystal water will give paradise a new dimension.

Ps. Singapore is also one of the safest places for solo female travelers (on this planet)!

How Long is the Class:  2 ½ days
How Much:  From 459 SGD (337 USD) without accommodation OR SGD 589 (433 USD) with accommodation.

The price with accommodation also includes 5 meals a day. The price without accommodation has no meals included. Transport services can be purchased additionally.

 

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#7 – Most ‘Off the Beaten Path’ – Mojo Island, Indonesia

One of those solo travel vacations that you’ll tell your kids about.

Pulau Moyo Island is a mostly uninhabited island with a rugged coastline. It is home to pristine beaches, lush forests, and dramatic waterfalls. The life on the island is extremely simple and self-sufficient and you can truly enjoy your escape from a bustling city routine.

Davy Jones’ Locker can offer you exclusive diving courses in this best-kept secret of Indonesia. You will enjoy encounters with macro critters and splendidly colorful coral seabed. Pulau Moyo is an experience that not many have tasted. The diving center can also offer transfers from Sumbawa airport to the island and back. Accommodation is not included in the prices.

How Long is the Class:  3 days
How Much:  5,700,000 IDR (400 USD) without accommodation and transfers
Transfers:  1,600,000 IDR (112 USD) in each direction
Accommodation:  Starts from 200,000 IDR (14 USD) per night in Maleo Moyo resort; free breakfast included

YES. You do need travel insurance.

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#8 – The Best Instructors – The Gili Islands, Indonesia

The Gili Islands are one of the best diving destinations in Indonesia. Located in the famous Coral Triangle, they are also home to the largest diversity of marine creatures on the planet. The Gili Islands are called “the turtle capital of the world” as you can spot green and hawksbill turtles on almost every dive.

There are also more rare creatures to be seen, such as reef sharks or ghost pipefish. Whale sharks, mola mola, and manta rays are also known to swim around, so keep your senses sharp.

With Blue Marlin Dive you’ll be in safe hands since they sport award-winning instructors who teach in multiple languages. As a popular diving spot, The Gili Islands attract only the best in their field.

Accommodation is not included in the price, but Blue Marlin Air can offer dive & stay packages at discounted prices for students.

How Long is the Class:  3 days
How Much:  5,500,000 – 6,000,000 IDR (385-420 USD) without accommodation

*Accommodation varies between 550,000 IDR (39 USD) and 950,000 (67 USD) per night depending on the season.

 

Conclusion – 8 Best Scuba Diving Courses in Southeast Asia

You can easily spend under $500 for your Scuba Diving Course + accommodation in Southeast Asia by diving with one of the 8 scuba schools listed here! Each scuba school is located in a safe area, staffed by licensed professionals, offers the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful nature in the world…and has you walking away with a Scuba Diving Certification which you can use to scuba dive all over the world – forever!


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Psst. Don’t pay cash/debit for big-ticket items like Scuba Courses!

Read my “3 Best Travel Credit Cards & Travel Debit Cards” before you spend on travel!

 

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***Disclaimer*** Every time you book through a link in this post, The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide gets a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support keeps this site alive! Xoxo

Girl under palm trees in bali

13 Best Cities for Digital Nomads (2019)

Screw the 9-5 rat race

Grab your laptop and work remotely as you live in exotic, affordable cities with fast wifi, incredible food, and an affordable cost of living.

#13 – Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria apartment

 

For those Digital Nomads who are looking for a healthy balance of work and travel, Sofia is the perfect spot to call home. Take a bus to Greece, hop on a train to Turkey, jump on a quick flight to Italy – there are so many cool destinations nearby. AND the fact that Bulgaria has one of the fastest internet connections in the world certainly doesn’t hurt. 

Average Rent in Sofia: $400 USD / Month

Best Coworking Space: Puzl CowOrKing

 

#12 – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO

 

Most western passports get you a 6-month Visa for Mexico, no questions asked. Grab your laptop, pack your suitcase, and move to Puerto Vallarta- a small beach town with plenty of places to eat, party, and work. Great for solo Digital Nomads or young couples who enjoy working hard during the day and partying at night. There are plenty of places to work here, including a Starbucks (*gasp*)!

Average Rent in Puerto Vallarta: $250 USD / Month

Best Coworking Space: Vallarta Cowork

 

#11 – Taipei, Taiwan

 

A city unlike any other, the laptop lifestyle is so enjoyable in Taipei. With a seamlessly organized bus and Skytrain system, a relatively non-existent crime rate, an abundance of high-speed internet spaces for work, and an overflow of night markets with cheap & delicious food…it’s not long until Taipei becomes the new hot spot for Digital Nomads. 

Average Rent in Taipei: $350 USD / Month

Best Coworking Space: Kafnu

 

#10 – Danang, Vietnam

Danang, Vietnam Street Food

 

A beach town full of cafes and street food; it’s easy to live a productive yet laid back lifestyle in Danang. Join the fast-growing Digital Nomad community in Danang where you collaborate, cowork, and attend small conferences to grow your business. There’s always some Digital Nomad meet up happening. Get amongst it to get your wheels spinning.

Average Rent in Danag: $450 per month

Best Coworking Space: DNC

 

#9 – Prague, Czech Republic

 

Prague is famous for its rich history and wild nightlife. Get inspired on during your “work days” and let loose on your days off. Cost of living is a bit more expensive than some of the other Digital Nomad destinations on this list, but you get what you pay for with gorgeous architecture, western standards of living, and an open-minded culture.

Average Rent in Prague: $700

Best Coworking Space: Locus Workspace

 

 

#8 – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

 

One of the oldest cities in the world has some of the best Wifi on the planet! Cobblestone streets and Roman ruins next to craft beer houses and H&M – Plovdiv offers the best of both worlds for Digital Nomads. Here, it’s easy to make friends with locals and expats while getting into a comfortable work routine. Plovdiv is an awesome choice for someone looking to create a life of their own.

Average Rent in Plovdiv: $240

Best Coworking Space: Cat and Mouse Co-working Space

 

#7 – Hanoi, Vietnam

 

Embrace the motorbike culture in Hanoi as you jump on the back of a motorbike taxi to head to your favorite coffee shop – laptop and earbuds in tow. Digital Nomads can work with a lake view one day and tuck themselves in a cozy coffee nook the next. Hanoi is such an easy city to get around, that exploring with your laptop is half the fun.

Average Rent in Hanoi: $300 USD / Month

Best Coworking Space: Toong Coworking Space

 

#6 – Medellin, Colombia

Medellin, Colombia at night

 

Now that Pablo Escobar & Co. are gone, Medellin has become a safe and comfortable city for locals and expats. Female friendly, LGBT safe, and open to racial diversity- Medellin has the potential to become the ultimate melting pot of digital nomads in South America.

Average Rent in Medellin: $400 USD/ Month

Best Coworking Space: La Casa Redonda Coworking Space

 

 

#5 – Bangkok, Thailand

Gold Buddha in Thailand, Bangkok

 

Move into a brand-new condo building with a gorgeous pool, private gym, library working space, and most likely a 7/11 attached for those mid-workday snacks, starting at $300 a month in Bangkok. You can get all of this plus super-fast wifi all while being smack dab in the thick of markets, street food, shopping, and expat nightlife.

Average Rent in Bangkok: $280 USD/ Month

Best Coworking Space: DraftBoard

 

#4 – Kiev, Ukraine

 

Hunker down in Kiev and get some serious work done. When you want to get off the expat path and away from the trendy coworking spaces, Kiev is a fabulous option with fast wifi, a decent level of English speaking locals, and cheap cost of living! Your biggest expenses will be rent- after that, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the cost of food, transportation, and entertainment.

Average Rent in Kiev: $475

Best Coworking Space: Chasopys Creative Space

 

#3 – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

 

Eat your way through the “work day” in Ho Chi Minh City – a Digital Nomad destination that gives your cheap street food options everywhere you turn. And with super relaxed visa restrictions, you can theoretically stay as long as you’d like – with a few border runs in-between.

Average Rent in Ho Chi Minh City: $300 USD/month

Best Coworking Space: The Hive Saigon

 

#2 – Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

Digital Nomad Paradise for beginners! If you’re just starting out or experimenting with the ‘Digital Nomad’ lifestyle, you’ll be in great company in Chiang Mai. This small city has a welcoming expat community, is easy to navigate on foot, has never-ending options for cheap food (both Thai and international), and everything is in English.

Average Rent in Chiang Mai: $200 USD/month

Best Coworking Space: Punspace Wiang Kaew

 

#1 – Bali, Indonesia

 

Come to Bali for one of the best coworking spaces in the world- Dojo in the popular beach town of Canggu- and stay for the awesome international community full of expats either working remotely, teaching English, or fully retired. Oh, and the lush tropical jungle plus stunning beaches don’t hurt either.

Average Rent in Bali: $340 USD / Month

Best Coworking Space: Dojo in Canggu

 


Lower your cost of living. Pocket more money. Meet people who think like you.

Cuz’ fuck it. Life is short.

The ULTIMATE Prep & Packing List for Travelers

There’s a difference between someone who goes on vacation and someone who travels. 

This list is for the latter. 

*This is a long one. Read this whole thing and now, you essentially travel like me. 

 

Here is every gadget, credit card, and habit that I carry with me when I travel.

I save money.

 I avoid problems.

I gain time.

All because I pack and prep like the god damn pro traveler that I am.

Tick these items off your packing prep list, and you will have learned the lessons which took me nearly 10 years to master.


prep list


#1 – Check your Passport

AMERICAN PASSPORT

There are things about your passport that you don’t know!

First, make sure that you have more than 6 months validity on your passport. In other words, make sure your passport doesn’t expire in the next 6 months.

For example, if your trip begins on January 1st, 2020, your passport must be valid AT LEAST until July 1st, 2020. Countries reserve the right to put you right back on a plane to where you came from if your passport expires within 6 months.

Second, check how many pages you have left. Some countries (like Cambodia and Vietnam) don’t simply give you a stamp, they give you a gigantic sticker that takes up an entire page! If you’re running low on space, this could be an issue.

Oh, and make a couple copies of your passport to keep on hand. Black and white is fine. 

#2 – GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

I would never travel without travel insurance and neither should you.

1 week. 1 month. It doesn’t make a difference. You need to be covered for everything from Lost Baggage to Motorbike Accidents.

When traveling long-term, I use IMG Insurance as the plans are more economical for bigger trips and they provide extensive coverage with everything from hospital visits to flight cancelations. Customer service is quick to handle your claim and reimburse you!

For trips under 3-months, I use WorldNomads Travel Insurance as they offer the most straight-forward travel plans ever. Pick the Standard Plan for basic travel coverage/flight delay protection or the Explorer Plan for extreme adventures like Kayaking and Rock-climbing. These plans include massive accident coverage from $100,000 to $1,000,000 – plus, evacuation coverage if you need to be helicoptered off a mountain somewhere.  

#3 – update your bank cards and credit cards

As a traveler, there are two money rules to live by:

  • Don’t buy flights and hotels with cash
  • Make sure your debit card is compatible with foreign ATMS.

If you’re cool with traveling with your weak-ass Visa debit card, skip to listicle #4. If you want to save money and rack up travel points for free flights, I’ll break down my Bank Card Trifecta now…

I travel with 3 cards in my wallet at all times: 1 amazing debit card and 2 travel credit cards.

              1. Charles Schwab Debit Card – Best for International ATM Withdrawals
        1. Chase Sapphire Preferred – 2x points when used on flights, hotels, Uber, AirBnb, and Restaurants + Trip Cancelation Coverage (weather, sickness and other causes)
        2. American Express Platinum – The Most Powerful Travel Credit Card Ever + Airport Lounge Global Access with Priority Pass & 5x points on flights and hotels.

For more info (and to learn how to fly Business Class for free) check out The Best Travel Credit Cards and Travel Debit Cards.

#4 – Medications & Travel Vaccinations

No, you cannot bring your Adderall to Thailand or Indonesia. Not even with a prescription.

No, you do not need to start taking Malaria medication before you visit Southeast Asia.

And yes, you can bring Tylenol and motion sickness pills – but you can also buy them inside stores all over Southeast Asia.

Now, what about vaccinations?

Before you go anywhere, make sure you’re up to date on all the basic vaccinations like Tetanus, Hepatitis A & B, and your MMR vaccine.

Just like shopping for a travel insurance plan, your vaccinations and medications will depend on which destination you’re visiting.

The CDC Website…and your doctor who just googled the CDC website before your visit…might recommend some whacky vaccines aimed to cover people working on Pig Farms and teaching English by candlelight in remote jungle villages for 5 months. But that’s not you.

So, what about the CDC’s recommendations? Do you really need the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine? No. Do you need the Rabies series? Nah, not really. Am I a doctor? Absolutely fackin’ not, but I have lived in Asia for a very long time and have never heard of any travelers contracting rabies or Japanese Encephalitis.

Tip: Skip the high price of vaccinations at home and get your vaccinations at an international hospital in Asia for a fraction of the price.

#5 – Download this traveling organizing app

The most useful travel app ever is called TripIt. It’s an app that organizes all of your travel reservations into one clean timeline that you can access both  online and offline.

You simply forward your confirmation emails (hotels, flights, tours) to Plans@Tripit.com (once you’ve registered) and your itinerary is immediately organized to the app on your phone.

Need to pull up the directions to your hotel? The link is in your app. Need the confirmation number for your airline reservation? It’s in your app. Need the local phone number of the AirBnb you’ve booked? Just click the number in the app.

Game Changer.

Packing list


#1 – The best travel backpack ever

You and your travel backpack will develop an intimate bond. You will sleep with your backpack, snuggle your backpack, and you might eventually name your backpack. You need to love your travel backpack!

After 9 years of backpacking and nearly $1,000 spent on testing out 5 high-quality travel backpacks, I have finally settled on a favorite: The Farpoint 40 Liter.

This backpack is everything:

  • Compact carry-on bag perfect for the overhead bin
  • Comfortable fit for long days of carry
  • Front Open zip panel for organization
  • Versatile and secure pockets that can fit big items like Nike shoes!
  • Duo-Carry Function: carry as a backpack or a duffle bag
  • Perfect size for a long-trip!

#2 – Anti-theft purse

It’s not just the locals you’ve got to watch for, it’s also other travelers. Pick-pocketers prey on girls who have their guard down at parties, on buses, and in large crowds.

So, here is what you need to look for when buying your travel purse:

  • Zippers, not magnet or Velcro straps
  • Across-the-shoulder carry
  • Thick straps that are hard to break
  • Classic design that you’ll actually want to wear the whole trip

For a day purse that can carry your essentials plus snacks and a sweater, the Travelon Anti-Theft Heritage Bag is the best.

For a “Just my money and keys” bag that you’ll want to wear out on the town, Travelon Women’s Anti-Theft Heritage Small Crossbody Bag is it.

#3 – Adapters & Converters

Adapters and converters are not the same thing.

Adapters only help your plug fit the wall socket. The wall plugs at home may be rectangles, but in Bali they are circles. You need adapters for things like phone chargers.

Converters fit the wall socket and convert the electric voltage. Try plugging your blow dryer into a socket with a higher voltage and POOF, you’ve just broken your blow dryer.

Electronics need an adapter. Hair tools need a converter.

#4 – A pen

Duh. But I bet you’ll forget to pack it!

Pack 5. Stick them everywhere.

#5 – PAck Light

The less things you have, the more free you are.

Save room for shopping. And if you are unsure on whether to bring those jeans, or that lotion- then you don’t need them.

Airlines typically have a weight limit per bag, which can get pretty pricey if you exceed it.

Sneaky Tip: put your heaviest items in your purse or laptop bag- airline personnel rarely weigh those. Then, redistribute your items after you go through security.

The best thing to do is buy a gadget that is both, like this International Power Adapter.


What about dresses? Socks? Makeup bags? Check out my travel store to see what I travel with!


Never underestimate the power of packing like a pro.

You dissolve problems and gain power. Yes, literal power in situations that otherwise might make you feel powerless.

Packing professionally can mean the difference between paying $60 extra because your carry-on is too heavy and being bumped up to Business Class on a 7-hour leg.

Both of these things happen to me on a regular basis depending on how well I do or do not pack before my trip.

Sign-up here and I’ll send you my Official Packing Checklist for Free.