Posts Tagged 'travel tips'

Travel Tip: Accessories Will Save You

Now really, there is just no need for this.

The rainy season may have arrived early in Laos this year. But think that means you’ve got to tromp around in ugly boots and plastic tarps?

I say nay. I say accessorize.

I once heard on Oprah that the difference between people and animals is our ability to accessorize. I couldn’t agree more. Enough of these chimpanzees in zip-off pants and Tevas. A proper display of one’s humanity obviously includes a few well-chosen statement pieces that take you from Backpacker Bum to Hobo Chic.

Take the belt. It is perhaps the most crucial travel fashion accessory—it is both practical and stylish. Kate Middleton recently made heads turn when she left the Buckingham Palace for a post-wedding getaway in a belted blue dress. There’s no reason one can’t have the same effect at tourist attractions in Laos.

The $2 plastic poncho purchased at the town market may not scream “Style Icon.” It may not be the most form-flattering and may make you feel like you’re wearing a sweaty trash bag with a too-small head hole. But don’t let that get you down.

Throw on that handy belt you’ve packed, and you suddenly have both a waistline and a powerful statement to make: “I will not be held back by weather conditions, budgetary restrictions nor poor local fashion standards.”

Yes, you can hold your head high, your pants up and your waistline in, all with one well-chosen and easily packable accessory. Oprah would be proud.

Yes, I Travel; No, I Don’t Have a Trust Fund: Budgetary Breakdown of a Working-Class Frequent Traveler

It’s happening again. I’m busily getting my life in order—writing post-dated rent checks and filing my taxes (before Feb 1!) and generally preparing my life at home to cruise on autopilot while I go travel—someone will eye me narrowly, a half-slit of suspicion, and ask, “So, how do you get to travel so much?”

Which is actually a question within a question—an implicit way of asking, “Where the hell do you get the money?” Which, given that I work as a waitress, is also to ask, “Who’s giving you the money to travel?”

They initially don’t believe me when I answer, “I save a lot.” Which is to say, “I budget like crazy.” Which is to say, “No one’s giving me money; every penny I have I earn.”

I’ve found myself breaking it down, taking it further, explaining my budgeting technique and demonstrating iPhone apps as Exhibit A in the No, I’m Not Secretly Rich defense trial. Which isn’t so much an effort to prove myself to other people (okay, maybe it’s a little that), but really to answer the question for myself. Because honestly, I don’t know how I afford it all either.

Through this recent round of explaining, I’ve begun to see more clearly that I’m a bit peculiar when it comes to money. I’m not sure where that comes from either. My family was pretty poor when I was growing up, and money was always a stressful issue, so it might grow out of that. Or it might just be who I am.

Either way, I’ve always been a budgeter. I’ve always kept meticulous track of my finances, my expenditures and income. I’ve never paid a bill late. I can always tell you exactly how much I have in my checking account. This is not normal. There weren’t any other 19-year-old punk kids who drew charts in their organizers with savings schedules and projected income based on the averaged income from the previous months. (Where there any other punk kids with organizers to begin with?)

So it’s not a new development, not solely a product of having a goal, something I love, to work towards and save for. Nor is this meticulous budgeting necessarily a product of not having anything but my own ability to work to fall back on. My background is purely working-class; there’s no trust funds, no investments or money market accounts, no heirlooms, no looming inheritances, nothing to pass along the generations but a propensity towards denial and socialism. My parents have done everything they can for me, given me everything they could give me, so it’s not like I’ve never had help. But I work for everything I have. Here’s how I do it.

Exhibit A: Realistic Budgeting

I live comfortably on $2,000 a month. This includes everything from necessities like rent and health insurance to indulgences like lattes and dinners out. It’s really important for me to work in modest indulgences, and to hold myself to them, to not try to “work harder, push more, save more.” Because it’s important for me to not feel like I’m constantly scrimping and saving for some future goal (and thus living in the future), but also allowing myself to enjoy today (and thus live in the present).

I long ago figured out how much I need to live comfortably and happily, to not feel like I’m depriving myself—a budgetary form of crash dieting. The number has slowly crept up the older I’ve gotten, because adult life is expensive; but my income has also crept up. Which brings us to…

Exhibit B: Knowing How Much I Earn

This sounds pretty basic, but when you work in a cash-based industry, it’s really easy to lose track—to wind up with a drawer full of twenties and no real idea how much you’re actually earning. A lot of people I’ve worked with over the years have no clue how much they make, and no idea where the hell the money all goes.

I currently take home between $2,500 and $3,000 a month. Which means I’m earning $500-1,000 more than my expenses. There’s a fuck of a lot you can do with that kind of money. Such as travel. And get tattooed.

Exhibit C: Treating Saving Like a Bill

I deposit money into my savings account on the 15th of every month. I treat it like another bill, instead of a if-I-have-money-leftover kind of thing. It’s pretty simple, and that’s all I have to say about it.

Exhibit D: Keeping Track of Everything I Spend

And I mean everything. I like to think of this more as “thorough” than “neurotic” (you say “potato”…). iPhone apps have made this infinitely easier, but I used to do it by hand, in my organizers, with crooked-line charts and bleeding ink.

Exhibit E: Maintaining a “Prudent Reserve”

In addition, or underneath, all my regular saving for travel, there’s a baseline I never dip beneath. I maintain a $2,000 “prudent reserve” for total emergencies—my car explodes, I break my leg and can’t work, etc. So even when I’m coming back from a trip, I’m never completely at zero. If disaster strikes, I’ll have enough to live on for at least a month.

The end result of all this is that I know where all my money is going, and exactly how much is coming in. There’s no murky intransparencies. I don’t have to stress out; I can be comfortable in the fact that there’ll be enough.

I realize this sounds like a lot—when I’m done explaining it all to someone, their eyes have invariable glazed over and they no longer doubt me when I say that I don’t have secret trust fund. They’ll shake their heads and say something to the effect of, “I could never…”

And I realize that this all sounds terribly tedious and like a lot of time and work. But for me, the energy I put into budgeting is far less than the emotional energy of worrying that there won’t be enough, that I won’t be okay. Budgeting for me allows for a kind of freedom—and not just the freedom to travel and do what I love. But that’s nice too.

Travel Tip: Tattoo Party

Nothing so helps you remember a trip like a permanent souvenir etched into your flesh.

We largely have the British Navy to thanks for the tradition of travelers getting tattooed, little relics of ink and miles, swallows instead of passport stamps. Though in the present-day we may be tortured with Sailor Jerry paraphernalia and hepatitis-factory street shops in beach towns like Puerto Vallarta, the basic idea of getting a tattoo to commemorate one’s travels remains a solidly good one.

Even better is to have a DIY tattoo party with your travel companions. During my last trip in Hawaii, we did just that. It was a fabulous after-dinner family bonding experience.

Zaia gives me a neck tattoo.

Hella cupcake-core—what you got to say?

Alicia goes under the gun/wet washcloth.

Nothing says “I’ve learned about spirituality through my travels” like a yin-yang.

Ankle tattoos are sexy and subtle.

Tribute tattoos, especially to significant others, are always a strong move.

Get chicks with a mean rose-and-thorn arm band.

But of course, you’ll want to let all those young backpacker girls know that you’re not looking for anything serious…

The beauty of the neck tattoo is that, even with long sleeves on, you’ll look like have a shitton of tattoos. Everyone will know how cool you are, whether you’re on the beach or hiking in the Alps.

And contrary to popular perception, no one is too young to join in the tattoo craze:

Let those cute boys down the hall know just how ready to party you are with a traditional tramp stamp.

At the end of it all, you’ll end up looking both tough and well-traveled…

… and have the coolest souvenir of em all.

Travel Tip: Wear a Fanny Pack

Much has been written about the fanny pack. Most of it is bad.

What began as a utilitarian fashion craze of the early 90s (shut up, you know you had one) has now been strictly relegated to the arena of unabashed tourist. Worse than Tevas, worse than zip-off pants, worse than wielding a guidebook or clutching a map or asking for directions loudly in English, the fanny pack is the ultimate signifier of clueless tourist. Just ask the people who write this blog.

But on my last trip in Austin, my good friend and travel buddy Liz presented a most compelling argument in favor of the fanny pack:

I guess it’s all in how you wear it.

Having trouble finding support in your fashion-forward revival of the fanny pack? Use your free hands to take solace at The Real Fanny Pack.

Travel Tip: Magazine Blanket (AKA: Stickin It to the Man)

Oh yeah, American Airlines? You wanna play dirty?

You’ve already taken away my peanuts and charged me for a checked bag—think you’re gonna bleed me a little more by cranking the air conditioning to Venezuelan-overnight-bus levels and charging $8 for one of those shitty blue blankets?

Well, I’m not skerd. I’ll make a hobo blanket out of magazines.

You’ve obviously underestimated my industrious frugality and lack of shame. Maybe next I’ll bring a can of beans and a hot plate, and make my own in-flight meal.

Livin on a CUC: Independent, Budget Travel in Cuba

Cheesin it up

Backpackers, lefties and dirty hippies beware: Cuba is not cheap. And despite any romantic revolutionary visions, it’s got tourist traps, just like everywhere else. They’re just filled with Che shirts instead of fanny packs.

Several factors might lead one to logically assume Cuba to be a budget-friendly, independent travelers’ paradise: it’s a dirt-poor Latin American country, enamored in the hearts of liberals, intellectuals and military-cap-wearing undergrads. So when you hear that your low-to-mid-range daily budget for Cuba should be around $100/day, it comes as a bit of a shock.

Here’s the deal: after the sugar industry collapsed in Cuba, there wasn’t much left to keep the island afloat. Keen eyes turned towards tourism. Not only does Cuba’s larger-than-life lore hold particular allure for the left-leaning, it’s got an undeniable romanticism—old cars, crumbling buildings, rum and Rumba. Couple that white people’s insatiable lust for balmy Caribbean getaways, and they had the perfect cocktail on their hands—muddled with Euros instead of mint sprigs. Tourism today is “the most dynamic sector of the Cuban economy.”

If you’ve traveled to other places where tourism is a mainstay of the economy, you’ll know what this means: high prices and potential hassle. From Moroccan medina touts to San Francisco’s 14% hotel tax, economies that rely on tourism milk it. In San Francisco, the hotel tax goes to fund all sorts of cool arts endeavors and social programming that other US cities don’t have; you could argue (depending on your politics) that Cuba’s dual currencies are an extension of that. And in Cuba you don’t really have to worry about hustlers and pick-pockets (though they do still exist); tour companies take care of that.

Let's play "Spot the Tourists"

You wouldn’t initially think it, but Cuba’s got a resort, package tourism industry up to snuff with any Caribbean destination. A Hungarian friend won a Cuban vacation as an incentive prize at work; all he saw of Cuba outside of his resort was through a tour bus window. Combine the package factor with the absence of youth hostels and backpacking networks, and the prospects can seem pretty dismal for DIY cheapstakes like me.

But independent, budget travel in Cuba can and does happen. There’s just some special tricks you have to be hip to. My travel companion and I managed to squeak by on $75/day, well under the Lonely Planet budget (but then again, we were both surviving at home on less than $2000/month, so cheap living wasn’t anything new). Here’s what we learned and how we did it.

Resources

My two biggest resources for independent, budget travel to Cuba were Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum, and Cuba Junky, a comprehensive, Cuban/Dutch-run website for travelers (with endearingly odd translations and misspellings). At these two sites, you can find info all sorts of great information, and on the forum you can trouble-shoot and get advice (and suffer through the occasional political debate).

Money

Cuba operates on two currencies: the Cuban peso (CUP), the money of the people, and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), the money of tourists.

Why? As tourism grew, American dollars began to wiggle their way into the country—hotels and tourist restaurants charged foreigners in dollars, while charging locals in pesos. (Considering the average monthly salary for a Cuban doctor is about what I make in thirty minutes, it’s more fair than it seems.) In addition, “dollar-only” shops emerged, where scarce and coveted items like dental floss could be had for a a high price. The influx of money was good, but the presence of American dollars was kind of slap-in-the-face to the government, wouldn’t you say? The government thus created the CUC to keep US dollars out; they did, though, base the exchange rate on the US dollar. Tourists pay for things in CUCs, while locals pay in pesos.

Whenever you exchange money, you’ll be given CUCs, and the majority of places you spend money will accept only CUCs. Invariably, however, you’ll get your hands on some pesos. It’ll probably happen like this: you get seduced by the wafting smell of cooking meats, and buy some street food. You hand the guy your CUC note. He digs around his pockets, shouts over at some other vendors; no one has the proper CUC change. He shrugs and gives your change in pesos. You’ve now got a pocket full of notes and coins, and can pay for small items like coffee and ice-cream with pesos—dropping the price from a couple bucks to a couple cents (literally).

There are of course more nefarious ways to get your hands on pesos, but you wouldn’t do that, now would you? Tourists aren’t really supposed to use pesos, and I have to say, I felt pretty guilty paying the equivalent of 5 cents to someone who makes $10/month—even if I am just a waitress living in a run-down North Oakland Victorian. I don’t recommend trying to use pesos as a way of cutting corners and stretching your budget, but it’s something that will happen at some point.

Casa Particulares

The single biggest way to save money in Cuba is by staying in casa particulares. State-licensed rooms for rent in private homes, casa particulares will also be one of your best glimpses into Cuban life.

Huge-ass main course served at a casa particular

Here’s how it works: individuals apply for a license, which is expensive; they must pay a monthly tax whether or not they have guests. The government approves them, and they can rent rooms to foreigners.

Expect to pay 15-30 CUCs per night (as opposed to 50-100 Euros and upwards on a hotel). Plus, as everyone knows, homestays are a great way to experience the everyday life and culture of a country; we stayed with hosts in Vinales whose teenage son showed us plenty of hip Cuban dance moves (which we were incapable of replicating). Hosts will usually offer to cook you meals, for an additional 5-15 CUCs. This may not be cheaper than eating at a budget restaurant or food stall, but they’ll stuff you silly.

The Cuba Junky site has gotten much more spiffy since I went to Cuba, and you can now book a casa particular room via the website. I did it a semi-old-fashioned way: I got ahold of Potato’s email address on the Thorn Tree forum, sent him an email, and he booked a room for us. He gave us his address; once we landed in Havana, we went to his apartment, enjoyed a cup of tea and chatted (he’s a really cool dude), and he walked us a couple blocks over to a lovely elderly couple who we stayed with for four days (and whose toilet we later busted—more on that later).

I like to have my accommodation arranged for my first couple nights when I arrive somewhere new, but the rest of the casa particulares we stayed in on our trip we booked ourselves. Most people will display their license logo prominently, so you can just knock on their door and ask if they have room (really, Cubans are insanely friendly and won’t turn you away). If the one you go to is full, they’ll for sure have a dozen friends with licensed rooms, and will help you find one. It sounds like a hassle, more for them than us, but I swear it works: a cab driver drove us all around Vinales while neighbors tracked down an empty room.

Bring Every Last Toiletry You May Possibly Need

Basic medical supplies are both costly and in short supply, or nonexistent, in Cuba. Pack all the sunscreen, aspirin, contact lens solution and insect repellent you might need—or risk shelling out painful amounts of money in a poorly stocked dollar-store. Even an extra roll of toilet paper isn’t a bad idea—unless you like wiping your ass with day-old news.

Tours and Entertainment

Cuba has a fairly well-beaten path, and if you stick to the neighborhoods and activities tourists are routinely funneled into, you’ll bleed CUCs faster than you can say “revolucion.” But get a little intrepid and a little chatty, and you’ll stretch your budget big-time.

Everyone knows that Cubans party, and party well, so you can be pretty sure that any club charging a hefty entrance fee is geared towards tourists. And as cool as a Hemingway tour or trip to the Tropicana might sound right now, you’ll quickly realize that they’re the Fisherman’s Wharf of Havana. Get friendly and ask your casa hosts (or random folks on the street) for tips on where to go and what to do. Less tacky companies like San Cristobal Agencia de Viajes are a good bet for more offbeat tours.

Food, Transport, and the Likes

There’s no real trick here: just do what you do in other countries.

Dinners at tourist-geared restaurants will set you back much further than paladares (mom-and-pops) and street food stands. Snack foods can actually be pretty hard to come by, so bringing along some biscuits, nuts or, for the homesick Yankee, peanut butter isn’t a bad idea. You can skimp on transit, but be prepared to pay the price: low-cost buses break down and hitch-hiking isn’t fun anywhere (in my opinion). Walk and take local buses within big cities, as opposed to cabs, and of course, the less you move, the less you spend on bus tickets, trains, etc. Cut down on souvenirs (really, how any Che hats do you need?), and do free stuff like strolling and lazing on the beach.


So, as with the last post, any seasoned Cuban travelers or recent returnees wanna share their experiences? We’re all ears…

Top Three Travel Secrets: A Chain Letter for Travel Bloggers

It reads as ominously as a middle school chain letter. Except, in the end, failure to perpetuate the chain isn’t sworn to result in untimely death or spinsterhood (which are more or less the same thing when you’re 12). Rather, in this chain, compliance results in access to a treasure trove of travelers’ secrets. And probably some new friends.

I was hit by two writers in the TripBase Blog Tag, spreading through the travel blogosphere like hot gossip around a lunch table. Or a dirty note during Math class, light-up sneakers in a mean game of duck-duck-goose. (The analogies could go on forever.) The idea is you write a post about your top three travel secrets: out-of-the-way towns, little-known restaurants, unheard-of hotels—”hidden gems” that lay glittering in the dimness of obscurity. Until now, that is.

Aside from amassing an ass-kicking list of previously unknown spots around the world, the other objective of the TripBase Blog Tag is to be build community and get folks involved. I can get down with that. In addition to the awesome ladies that tagged me—Stephanie from Twenty-Something Travel and Abbie from Miles of Abbie—I’ve already discovered some new writers on the TripBase list of bloggers tagged so far. (Best blog names? Dirtbag Writer and Snarky Tofu. Fuck yeah.) My hunch: the final list won’t just expose travel secrets, but also some bad-ass writers I hadn’t encountered yet.

They say you’re only as sick as your secrets. Here’s to travel health:

End of the hike: waterfall into the Pacific

#1 Palomarin Hike, Marin County, California

My work friend had been telling me about “the secret hike” for months. Huddled over our staff meals in the cramped bus station, she made rope-swinging into the clear lake, and the coastal waterfall at the trail’s end, sound like a dream. Or at least a damn good fantasy.

We finally coordinated a day off together in August and headed up to Marin to the Palomarin Hike. We grabbed sandwiches and drove up past Stinson Beach to tackle the 11-mile hike. And I gotta say, it was just as killer as she’d described.

The hike starts through rather typical dusty California coastal terrain, taking you past sweeping Pacific vistas us locals have grown accustomed to. After about 45 minutes, the foliage and trees thicken, and you eventually get to Bass Lake, a frigid-water lake that’s biggest draw is an old-school rope swing. You could while away hours here, but, seeing as though it was August in the Bay Area and foggy as hell, we were too cold to partake. We continued on, and ended up at the trail’s end, where a waterfall tumbles into an isolated coastal cove.

The good news: the hike, although long, is gentle and not too strenuous. Which means just about anyone could do it—including my smoke-a-pack-a-day friend and me, who was then recovering from swine flu (yes, really).

The bad news: the Palomarin Hike is a total word-of-mouth Bay Area secret. As is the way with Marinites, locals don’t want outsiders to know about their secrets or have access to them (see also: why BART doesn’t run to Marin). Locals take down street signs and signposts, meaning that you’ve pretty much gotta go with someone who’s been there. So if you’re headed to the Bay soon, just hit me up; I’ll take you.

Ahhh...

#2 Legzira Plage, Atlantic Coast, Morocco

Okay, if you’ve been following this blog for a bit, you’ve already heard me gush about the most deserted and beautiful beach I’ve ever been to: Legzira Plage, Morocco.

Talk about tucked-away: from Tiznit, take an hour bus ride, hop off at the faded roadside sign, and hike down 20 minutes. It’ll really just be you, a couple stray tourists, some fisherman and their donkeys—and the sandstone arches that dive red earth into blue water.

Among the handful of pink building that cascade down the cliff into the main beach, there’s two hotels that offer relatively cheap rooms. I went high-class and got one with my own shower, squat toilet (doin’ big things), and a window that opened onto the ocean view—for under $20.

Another bonus is the Moroccan street harassment factor, and the fact that Legzira Plage doesn’t have one. After a couple weeks of solo backpacking, sweating in long sleeves and fending off the barrage of “bonjour”s, it felt pretty damn sweet to strip down to my bikini and wave-hop in peace.

Kids on their way to school

#3 El Congo, Venezuela

The story goes that, when Europeans first arrived in what is now Venezuela, they came to the Lake Maracaibo villages, perched on stilts amid the marshes and water. Watching the village folks traverse the “streets” in handmade rafts reminded the Europeans of Venice—and they dubbed the place Venezuela.

El Congo, Venezuela is the most other-worldly places I’ve ever been. It’s only reachable by boat, a 30-minute ride through the hazy flat expanse of water, and you’ve gotta book a tour to get there. But surprisingly, the town isn’t the main draw of the tour. The Catatumbo Lightning phenomenon is what draws most people—mysterious, thunderless lightning that occurs almost nightly in the skies over Lake Maracaibo.

The road to Los Llanos was flooded when I was in Merida, so I opted to take the Catatumbo tour in its place. I hadn’t heard of El Congo, but it ended up being the highlight of the tour (the lightning didn’t really happen that night). The town had everything—a school, a fire station, a convenience store, even a Plaza Bolivar—all erected on stilts. Rumor had it there were a couple old folks still living in the town who’d only ever stepped foot for dry land to bury relatives.

It wasn’t an untouched Eden: El Congo was extremely isolated, making inbreeding a huge problem, and the town was quite poor. Sanitation was a major issue, with most refuse and human waste going directly into the water. Owning an actual boat was a sign of privilege. The less well-to-do had to construct their own floatation devices—this girl tied a piece of wood to some leftover styrofoam, dug a stick down into the mushy lakebed, and propelled herself along that way.

The thing that really bummed me out were the poor yapping dogs chained to the “front porch” of some of the houses. So much for getting a walk, little buddy. But hands down, El Congo was the most unusual place I’ve ever traveled to—and so far off the beaten path, there wasn’t a path at all.

So that’s my top three, scrawled not-so-jaggedly into the margins of a wrinkled note. Now to fold it up and shove it into another sweaty, unsuspecting palm. This could get good…

How Many Dyslexics Does It Take to Rewrite the Travel Rules?

god forbid

god forbid

One.

Well, actually, you’d need at least one non-dyslexic to transcribe the edict. But that’s not the point, at least not of my latest article on BootsnAll, which explores untraditional travel techniques I’ve learned from my brother.

Aaron’s a severe dyslexic with a disarmingly positive outlook and tireless work ethic that’s enabled him to do all sorts of difficult things—things most of us take for granted. This includes traveling. Imagine trying to decipher a foreign language when letters mischievously switch themselves, or trying to understand unusual sounds through an auditory processing system full of static and interference, with all the wires crossed and smoking. Enough to make you want to stay at home, huh?

But for someone with such seemingly insurmountable obstacles inhibiting him, Aaron’s managed to get on the road a fair amount; he just hasn’t done the usual guidebook, itinerary, sight-seeing kind of travel. He’s traveled home with friends from Cuba and Guatemala, traveled up the West Coast into Canada, arrived reservation-less in New Zealand. An incredibly outgoing person, he’s relied on his own gregarious personality to get him along, rather than the clutches a lot of travelers lean on. I’ve tried to incorporate his seat-of-the-pants approach to travel into my own Lonely-Planet-endeared style, and the article was my attempt to share those lessons with other travelers.

The Editor at BootsnAll wanted me to go light on the dyslexic angel, and that’s understandable: it’s not something a lot of people relate to, and they want to publish articles with compelling titles that generate page views. And the article met a largely positive reception from readers. But there’s always that one comment, that one nay-sayer, and this time, I’ve got to say, I could see her point.

I realized that, for me, the real story wasn’t the travel tips, but my brother. My whole life I’ve watched him struggle to do things that were absurdly easy for me: writing essays, reading text books, enjoying novels. His determined, un-self-pitying efforts to intellectually engage as an adult have continued to inspire me. His natural curiosity led him slug through Open Veins of Latin America, not light material for anyone, let alone a person at a 6th grade reading level. He watches subtitled movies three times—once to just absorb the images, a second time to pause and read all the subtitles, and a third time to weave it all together. Yes, he travels, but he also makes it through daily life, and usually with a giant grin on his face.

Travel’s about a lot of things, and one of them is inspiration. It can come from a variety of places, in totally unexpected forms. And beyond trying to get off the guidebook and ditching the streetmap, my brother’s inspired me to push myself beyond what I think is possible for myself. And that includes, for me, traveling.

So that’s the almost-as-long-as-the-article backstory; you can read the actual story here.


Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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