Tips and Tools to Create a Location Independent Lifestyle With Ease

Tips and Tools to Create a Location Independent Lifestyle With Ease

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If you’re a freelancer, remote worker, or an entrepreneur, you know working independently and having a location-independent lifestyle can be freeing.

But moving that often can also be an adjustment. If you are not prepared, your work may suffer, and that can hurt your source of income. 

So here is a list of tips and tools to make your location-independent lifestyle easier. 

Bonus: If you are looking to quit your job and start your own business, here’s a complete guide to get you started on building a life you love. 

The complete guide to build a profitable personal brand

Choose the Right Place to Stay

Choosing the right place is more than picking a destination. You have to think about what’s most important to you and what brings you joy. 

Know What Environment You like

One of the amazing things about living a life of travel is that you get to explore many places. As you travel more, you will learn what environments you enjoy the most. 

I know I feel alive with the sun, so I choose destinations that have temperate weather and where nature is abundant even if it means letting go of some conveniences. 

For me it is about the quality of life and the experiences I get to have with other travelers like going to the beach to watch the sunset. 

When choosing your destination, ask yourself what would improve your quality of life. 

Some question you can consider are:

  1. Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?
  2. Are you a city person or a country person?
  3. Are you comfortable sharing a room, a house, or prefer a place to yourself?
  4. Do you prefer a place with more natural scenery or a place filled with tourists attractions?

Not only will choosing the right type of destinations bring you more joy, the environment will help you get into the flow of your work with more ease. 

Bonus: If health is important to you, consider these related science-based benefits of retreats that improve your health. 

Choose a Work Friendly Environment

Aside from knowing the types of destinations you enjoy, it helps to know what accommodations you need to feel comfortable and productive.

Type of living setting

There are many options for stays when you travel, each for different personalities and budgets. You want to consider what type of setting works best for you that is within your budget. 

A hostel may not be the best option if you need plenty of personal space or if you have done that and are ready to try a different life of travel. 

Other people may choose spaces with co-working areas like those offered by SelinaWe Work, and Coliving.  These could be great spaces to network and create lasting friendships with people who have a similar lifestyle. 

Pro tip: One way to break the ice is using games like in the loop card game to start building deeper connections that make your travel life more fulfilling. 

Ice breakers for a digital nomad

Internet Connection

Needless to say that if you are traveling, your work will be done virtually, so you will need a reliable internet connection. Wherever you decide to stay, check that they have high-speed internet connection. 

Find a traveling pace that works for you

We are all different, have different energy levels, and have different priorities. So when you are thinking of this lifestyle, think about this: how fast can you move and still sustain your workflow? 

Some people like my friend  are slow travelers who stay months in one place while others prefer to travel more frequently. 

Recommended: If you want to learn about how to start your location-independent life, check out my IG live with Guido on the first steps you should be taking. 

The pace of your traveling life will depend on your own energy and even the type of work you do (e.g. if you need more time for deep work moving at a slower pace can let you do that more efficiently).

Tools of Your Trade (and more)

When you travel, you also want to make sure you have the necessary tools for your success and ease of mind. 

Your Work Tools

With virtual work you will want your laptop, and any other tools you need to run your business. 

This includes a portable tripod to take your branded pictures for a cohesive social media feed to make your brand memorable. 

Digital tools to consider

In addition to physical tools, consider digital tools that make communication and organization easier, and tools that will help you grow an online business.

Some of these are: 

  1. Client management tools like Honeybook and Calendly to keep track of appointments and communicate with your clients
  2. Project management tools like Clickup or Google Workplace that will make delegation easier when you bring additional support like a virtual assistant.  
  3. Flodesk– everything feels intuitive with this powerful email marketing tool and one of the key reasons we love it here at Livin Vivaciously. 
  4. And tools like Canva and Inshot will make content creation for your business social media simpler.  
  5. Financial tools like Bench who will take care of your bookkeeping needs, so you don’t have to stress about it and are prepared for tax season

Whichever your choice, do your research, so you can choose the tools that make working while traveling easier for you. 

Choose Items that Bring You Home

This tip may be unconventional, but the truth is that being away from loved ones is not easy. Even if you are very free-spirited, you may miss those close to you. 

This is why I suggest you travel with items that make you feel at home wherever you go. 

For me that includes my copy of 365 Tao, tarot cards, affirmation cards, and my journal. These help me tap into my inner self, so I can always feel at home in the world. 

A friend I met on the road travels with a little rug she used to use in her camper van. It instantly makes her feel at home. 

Ask yourself what items help you feel centered and at peace with yourself.

These are a few things to think about as you go on your own journey and discover what a location-independent life looks like for you. 

And if you’re wondering how you can build a life of freedom like this, I help my clients find their own freedom by building aligned, profitable brands in my brand development coaching program

We start by envisioning the lifestyle you want to build a brand that supports your vision. The 12-week program gives you hands-on experience creating your brand from scratch, including messaging and social media strategy. 

If you prefer a 1-on-1 approach, you can get a customized social media branding package

If you want to find your authentic brand strategy, check out this brand strategy quiz I created to help you understand how to show up in your business in alignment with your unique energy, personality & Human Design.

5 Fun Things to do in the Hudson Valley, Upstate New York During COVID-19

5 Fun Things to do in the Hudson Valley, Upstate New York During COVID-19

If you’ve been in need of a quick nature fix and some sense of adventure after months of quarantine, look no further than the nearby Hudson Valley.

The Hudson Valley, Catskills, Upstate New York—whatever you want to call it—is absolutely rich in state parks, waterfalls, hiking trails, and mountains. The best part is that it is very easy to get to from New York City. 

I went on a much needed 8-day trip and stayed at a cute Airbnb cabin in the woods located in-between Kingston City and Woodstock in Ulster County, about an hour and 45 minutes drive from NYC.

Things to do in the Hudson Valley upstate new york during corona

However, I know how frustrating it can be, especially during COVID-19, to figure out which hikes to do and what beaches or trails that are still open.

 So I put together this guide to help you figure what to do in the Hudson Valley, upstate New York during COVID-19. 

FYI, this trip is safe and perfect for solo women travelers, couples, and families.

1. Minnewaska State Park Preserve

This 22,275-acre preserve located in Ulster County (about 30 mins from where I was staying) features various trails for biking and hiking, waterfalls, and a massive lake for swimming with gorgeous viewpoints.

Points of Interest:

Awosting Falls

Waterfalls in the hudson valley upstate new york

Difficulty Rating: Easy 

I hiked to the Awosting falls, which was a fairly easy and paved 1-mile hike from the parking lot to the falls. The falls stand at 60 feet tall and are surrounded by dense woods and rocks. 

Although tempting, you can not swim in the falls, unfortunately. 

Minnewaska Lake

Minnewaska lake for swimming in the hudson valley upstate new york

Difficulty Rating: Easy

This is where you can take in these breathtaking views of this sky lake at the Minnewaska Lake View Point. 

There is also a designated swimming area called Minnewaska Lake Beach where you can enjoy taking a refreshing dip after a long hike along the trails that surround the lake.  

Pro Tip: Pack a little picnic to enjoy while taking in the views from up top!

Entrance Fee: $10 per car

Park Hours: 9 am to 7 pm

Parking: Reduced by 50% capacity to maintain social distancing. Please check this website and call before going.

COVID-19 Precautions: Social distancing and masks are enforced.

2. Overlook Mountain

Overlook Mountain Hike in Woodstock

Difficulty Rating: Moderate uphill hike. You will definitely sweat!

Located near Woodstock town, this sweaty 3 hours 5-mile hike to Overlook mountain is a must-do while in upstate New York.

The trail to the top is a clearly paved and shadowed gravel path, nothing too exciting really but the views at the top are totally worth it. Hiking shoes or sneakers with good cushioning are recommended for this hike! 

On your way up, you will come across something fascinating; an abandoned hotel from the 1800s. Here you can catch your breath for a minute or two while wondering about what happened to this eerie hotel.

Abandoned hotel at overlook mountain in the hudson valley upstate new york

As you continue your upwards hike, you will see a sign that says “Fire Tower”, this is where the hiking trail starts getting prettier. You want to keep walking until you see the fire ranger station (the small building across the fire tower) and go behind it to get to the viewpoint cliff overlooking the Hudson Valley.

Take some time to take in the views here and if you packed snacks, this would be the perfect time to enjoy them. Oh and make sure you bring your camera to capture these views!

Lastly, you will want to check out the fire tower. While technically you are not allowed to climb up, some adventurers hikers have created a small hole in the wire doors for people to climb up the tower. So if you are feeling adventurous, you can check it out for even better views. 

On your way out of (or into) the parking lot, you will notice a beautiful building across, which is a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. Unfortunately, they are completely closed to visitors right now, but you can check out their website here for updates.

Pro Tip: Watch out for rattlesnakes! I saw one but it was peacefully napping. 

Entrance Fee: $0 

Park Hours: 24 hrs

Parking: Limited, fits about 20 cars

COVID-19 Precautions: Social distancing and masks are encouraged as you will be crossing other hikers

Woodstock Town

art in Woodstock town

After your hike, be sure to drive to the artsy town of Woodstock, about a mile out from the Overlook Mountain trail parking lot. 

Here you can grab some food, coffee, or ice cream while you walk around taking in the art on the walls and checking out the various vintage shops, which are open for business right now. 

3. Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir in the Hudson Valley upstate new york

Difficulty Rating: Very easy

The Ashokan Reservoir is a water reservoir surrounded by the Catskill Mountains, located in Ulster County close to the Kingston area. This reservoir is what supplies New York City with water!

The Reservoir can be visited from the eastern or western sides of the town through clearly marked pedestrian bridges that are great for walking, biking, or even rollerblading. 

The views of the clear blue lake against the lush mountains are simply stunning but make sure you have enough sunscreen on because there is no shade on the trail.

Ashokan Reservoir in the Hudson Valley Upstate New York

I recommend going to the Eastside basin and packing a picnic. If you are feeling artsy like me, you can bring a sketchbook and some coloring pens to capture this scene. 

If you like to fish, fishing is allowed here with permits, check this website for info. 

Entrance Fee: $0 

Park Hours: Unknown 

Parking: Limited

COVID-19 Precautions: Practice social distancing and wear masks as you will be crossing others walking the bridge. 

4. Kingston Point Beach 

Where to swim during covid-19 in upstate new york

For some reason, it was very hard for me to find a place to swim while in the Hudson Valley. Every time we’d drive to a creek or a lake there will be No Swimming allowed signs posted.

So I was extremely excited to have found a place to actually swim and sunbathe!

Kingston Point Beach is a small beach located in downtown Kingston. Now, this is no white sand beach but still a clean beach with clear shallow waters surrounded by some beautiful cliffs. 

Traveling upstate new york during covid-19 coronavirus

The beach is a little rocky so watch out and there are lifeguards who make sure that you only swim in the designated areas. 

After swimming, you can check out this cute little coffee shop, called Village Coffee & Goods for a pick me up. They also have farm-fresh produce and other cool things like plants and kitchenware. 

Entrance Fee: $0 

Beach Hours:  Wed-Sun 10 am – 5 pm

Parking: Limited (Every other spot has been blocked off to ensure social distancing)

COVID-19 Precautions: Social distancing and wearing masks are enforced

5. Geo Refrigeration Crevice  

Geo refrigeration crevice upstate new york

Difficulty Rating: Easy

 I left the weirdest thing for last because I have never seen or heard of anything like this before!

This Geo Refrigeration Crevice is exactly what it sounds like!

It’s a crack or a cave-like structure in the rocks that blows really cold air. It felt like I was standing under a powerful air conditioner. Definitely feels good if you are biking or hiking the rest of the trail.

Rail trail in the hudson valley upstate new york

You can get to the crevice by going through the Rail Trail and Trestle Access at Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, Rosendale, NY 12472. 

Entrance Fee: $0 

Trail Hours:  8 am – 8 pm 

Parking: Right across the trail entrance, which is directly on the highway, is a big parking lot called Binnewater Parking

COVID-19 Precautions: Social distancing and wearing masks are encouraged by all hikers.

Grocery Stores – Hudson Valley

Adams Farm

A huge grocery store that has everything!

Emmanuels Marketplace

Medium-sized grocery store with a good specialty food selection.

Davenport Farm

Small store with limited selections.

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7 Tips to Ease Wanderlust in the Time of COVID-19

7 Tips to Ease Wanderlust in the Time of COVID-19

If you are anything like me, a travel junkie, then you might also be suffering from a severe case of wanderlust in the time of COVID-19.

As an empath, I can’t help but feel for the people that might have finally built up the courage to book their first solo trip this summer. Or the seasoned traveler that at last quit their job to travel around the world this year. 

So, in efforts to help ease and cure wanderlust in this time of isolation, I wanted to share with you a few meditative thoughts and tips. 

Sometimes to rise, we have to stand still.

And I will not be talking about virtual tours or printing your travel photos and hanging them up around your house. However, if you are interested in virtual travel tours, you can check out the Lonely Planet’s list of countries that are offering virtual tours right now. 

1. Togetherness and Interconnectedness 

If this global pandemic teaches us one thing, it is that nothing exists separately in this world we live in. Everything is intricately interconnected. 

Seeing how fast a disease can spread across the globe from a remote village in China, really puts into perspective the effect we can have on the whole planet. It wasn’t one person that spread it, it was a collective act.

Imagine what we can collectively do to protect our planet in the future??

Anyways, I’m finding comfort in knowing that we are all going through this together. It feels a little tribal and it’s bringing out the empath in a lot of us.

This video by Visit Portugal is a beautiful message for all of us travelers right now:

You are not suffering solo. A lot of us are experiencing wanderlust right now. A lot of us are flipping through pictures from past trips feeling extremely nostalgic.  

But, staying at home now is all we can do to start traveling sooner rather than later!

2. Travel is a Privilege 

Feeling like the world is off-limits at the moment, got me thinking about how much of a privilege it is to be able to travel the world freely whenever we desire. 

Thinking about all the people who have been living in a state of political unrest, war, and poverty for many years now. I just can not imagine living a life without the freedom to travel. Ever.

Wanderlust during COVID-19

Travel for many of us has brought about lots of value, flavor, culture, and love into our lives. So, together we can practice gratitude for all those things that travel has brought to us.

And next time we are able to hop on a plane, we will be extremely thankful for that privilege we have.

3. Re-exploring the Known 

As travelers, we are always on the go. We are constantly working hard to save up for the next adventure that we sometimes forget about the beauty that surrounds us and that’s within us.

Now that we are at home saving lives by not socially gathering or traveling, it is a great opportunity to travel within the known—our neighborhood and our Imagination. 

Through this exploration, we will develop a new appreciation for the simple things.

Wanderlust during COVID-19

The sunlight that comes through our windows, the blossoming trees that line our streets, the trail close by, the old bike in our garage, the birds and insects that seem happier than ever before.

We will fall in love with the little things and that will make us even better travelers.

Next time we are facing a majestic mountain or a breathtaking sunset on a beach, we will intentionally take in every single moment of that beauty in front of our eyes.

4. Responsible Travel 

Now that we can clearly see the interconnectedness of things, we know better. We understand the impact we can have on mother Earth. 

When we travel again, we will care for this Earth and the wellbeing of the people and animals around us. We will do our best to travel responsibly. We will reduce our waste and footprint wherever we go. Maybe even some of us will develop a new passion for volunteer travel!

Responsible travel after COVID-19

There are studies out there that prove the planet is showing signs of healing due to less traffic and carbon emissions. Maybe a lot more people will adopt this car-less lifestyle even after the COVID-19 passes?

Imagine that! 

Also, since more people are working remotely, this might mean less pollution and paper waste from offices and more freedom and travel in the future? Now that’s work-life balance! 

5. The Wonders Still Remain 

Fact: The world’s wonders will still be here when this virus passes.

Stay home now so that we can travel later.

The Andes, the Pyramids, the Mayan Ruins, the Machu Picchu, and all the other wonders and beauties will be there.

We will have another chance to marvel at their greatness and wonder how the heck did people of ancient civilizations build this??

Watch this video for some inspiration from South Africa:

I take comfort in knowing that there will be another chance to travel soon and it will be even better than before.

6. Plan for the Future 

I know that a lot of us might not be in the mood to even think about travel for a while. Some may even be feeling their wanderlust diminish day by day during the quarantine. 

I’m feeling it too and I never thought I could feel that way as an avid solo traveler. 

However, what if we took the time to imagine where we want to go as soon as we can travel again? 

Cure wanderlust in the time of Coronavirus

Where will we go??

Here is what I recommend right now to help revive our wanderlust

  1. Re-write that old bucket list
  2. Grab a world map and look up countries that you never considered traveling to
  3. Create a mood board for a few new destinations
  4. Create connections with people who are also travelers on social media and discuss travel plans, old and new
  5. Only if you can, save a little bit of money for a future trip

7. Our Biggest Lesson 

Our biggest lesson, in my opinion, is that things can change very very quickly. 

Nothing is permanent. Not our jobs, not our homes, not our loved ones, not our health, and not even our planet. So what can we do about it? 

Well, we can learn to take more chances on us and more risks in life. 

This pandemic has made it clear to us that experiences and humans matter more than anything else.

Wanderlust Lessons during COVID-19

That we need to go on that trip before its too late. That we should say  “I love you” when we feel it. That we need to forgive others and let go of the fear or the baggage that is holding us back from living more vivaciously. 

What is your biggest take away so far? I’d love to hear it in the comments below. 

The Carry-On Packing Checklist for Her

The Carry-On Packing Checklist for Her

This carry-on packing checklist was specially designed for female travelers to help you pack lighter —carry-on only—and efficiently every time you travel. Giving you time back to focus on the adventure, not the packing.

No more “oops I think I forgot to pack a toothbrush…” moments or unnecessary things in your suitcase. Because really sis, who needs to be carrying around that extra baggage anyways! 

The Carry-on packing checklist works for a one week or a month-long trip—or even longer if you pack those versatile basic pieces you own!! You can even tweak a few items to make it work for winter or summer trips.

What You Will Need

  1. Carry-on sized backpack or suitcase
  2. Packing Cubes 
  3. Clear Toiletry Bag

Step 1

Lay it all out on your bed or floor 

Clothes:

  • 7 Tops 
  • 2 Dresses/Skirts/Sarongs 
  • 2 Shorts [Replace with pants for winter]
  • 1 Jeans
  • 1 Sweat/Yoga Pants 
  • 1 Comfy Lounge Outfit 
  • 1 Hoodie/Sweater [Replace with a coat for winter]
  • 2 Different Types of Bras [Pasties]
  • 7 Panties 
  • 3-7 Socks
  • 3 Different Types of Shoes [including the one you will wear on the plane NO cheating]

Extras: Bathing Suits, Bath/Beach Towel, Cold Weather Accessories, Handbags, Hats, Sunglasses, Jewelry 

Toiletries:

  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush 
  • Deodorant 
  • All-Purpose Cleansing Soap for Body, Face & Hair [ex: Castile Soap
  • Face Moisturizer [an oil can be used for face/body/hair] 
  • Makeup Remover [ex: a solid cleansing balm]
  • Hair Conditioner [ex: solid bar]
  • Hair Styler 
  • Sunscreen (Love this one for an added glow!)
  • Foundation/Concealer 
  • Bronzer/Blush (my fav all-in-one bronzer/blush/highlight palette here)
  • 2-3 Lipsticks 
  • Compact Eye Shadow Palette or Cream Shadow Sticks 
  • Eyeliner (The Pen Pal is my fav!)
  • Mascara 

Below are some great (clean!) travel-friendly beauty products:

Extras: Wash cloth, Hair Brush, Styling Tools, Eye Cream, Face Serums, Contact Lenses, Contact Lens Solution 

Electronics:

Other:

  • Passport/National ID 
  • Pharmacy/First Aid Kit
  • Vitamins
  • Tampons/Pads 
  • Cash Stash
  • Books
  • Journal 
  • Pens 
  • Reusable Tote Bags
  • Wash Bag
  • Travel Neck Pillow + Eye Mask
  • Hand Sanitizer 
  • Snacks + Mints 
  • Locks for Lockers/backpack

Step 2

Get Rolling! 

Roll everything out on your bed and place them in their respective categories.

If something is too bulky when it is rolled, then keep it folded to lay on top or under your packing cubes once in your suitcase.

Step 3

Let’s Pack it Up

  1. Wardrobe your packing cubes: 
    Place clothes of similar weights or categories in the same packing cubes to help you find them faster when getting dressed on your trip.
  2. Place your liquids in the clear toiletry bag
  3. Place your shoes in plastic bags 
  4. Begin placing things in your suitcase or backpack:
    Start with the largest items and finish with the items that have not been grouped in bags/cubes

You can see exactly how I pack my carry-on backpack in the video below:

Step 4

Relax, Breathe and Enjoy your Trip! 

And remember that it is about the journey not what you will be wearing. Ultimately you can always find and purchase anything you need or left behind at your destination.

If you want a beginner-friendly complete guide on packing and traveling light, then check out this blog post:

Here you have it ladies, a carry-on packing checklist that you can reference anytime for your trip to ensure that you will be traveling light, effortlessly and fabulously but never leaving anything important behind. Feel free to comment if you thought this was helpful or reach out to be here with questions.

Follow me on my adventures on Insta: @__girgis.

Happy Packing!

Disclaimer: I might make a small commission on some of the links mentioned above at no extra added cost to you.

Xoxo 

Marina at Livin’ Vivaciously 

Puerto Rico Travel Itinerary for Beach & Nature Lovers

Puerto Rico Travel Itinerary for Beach & Nature Lovers

In this blog post, I will share with you a complete Puerto Rico travel itinerary to satisfy the beach bums and nature lovers amongst us.  

Why Puerto Rico? 

Puerto Rico is home to the Rainforest, bioluminescent bays, many picture-perfect Caribbean beaches and delicious Mofongo (the national dish made with root veggies). Need we say more? 

Aside from all its natural beauty, Puerto Rico is JUST so easy to travel to if you live in America!

Best Beach in Puerto Rico
Caracas Beach, Vieques Island

If you are a US citizen or a US Green Card holder, this beautiful tropical island needs to be on your travel list now. Why? 

Because it is a hop and skip away from the US (4hrs non-stop from NYC!!) and requires you to carry nothing else but a National ID or Driver’s Licence to enter the island. 

There is no need to exchange currencies if you use US dollars because they also use the US dollar. The majority of people speak Spanish and English, but yeah, that’s no excuse not to try practicing your Spanish

Here is Your Complete Puerto Rico Travel Itinerary

San Juan

This is the main town that you will most likely fly into. It is known for the Old Town of San Juan filled with Spanish Colonial buildings, forts like San Cristobal Castle and El Morro, upscale restaurants and the buzzing nightlight

Puerto Rico Travel Itinerary
Walking around San Juan

However, there is much more to explore outside of the Old Town.

How to Get Here?

Take an Uber from the airport into town. Uber is very affordable and reliable in the San Juan area, use it to get around instead of renting a car, just yet

Rides cost anywhere from $5-$15 around town.

Where to Stay in San Juan

I recommend Airbnb for affordable and unique stays. If you are looking for budget options, there are also a few hostels, I stayed at Villa Eshta. Or you can stay at Hotel Stay at Marre right on the beach. Book in advance the winter is high season in PR. 

Must-Do in San Juan

After walking around the Old Town and visiting the fortress, you will want to spend a day at Ocean Park Beach sipping on Pina Coladas from Numero Uno Beach Bar while sitting on bean bags watching the sunset. For another tropical day at the beach visit Isla Verde Beach.  

Check out the Santurce area of clubs and restaurants!

Ocean Park Beach in Puerto Rico
Delicious Drinks at Numero Uno Beach Bar

Where to Eat in San Juan?

For breakfast and HUGE smoothies head over to Pinkys in Calle Loiza. The best tacos in town are at Acapulco.

Green Smoothies for Breakfast at Pinkys in San Juan
Big Smoothie Portions at Pinkys

Enjoy an upscale dinner and amazing service at Verde Mesa in Old Town (Vegetarian/Allergy-friendly!).  But for really authentic traditional and affordable food head over to La Placita (The Central Market area) and eat at La Alcapurria, say hi to the lovely owner Irvin!

Restaurants in San Juan, Puerto Rico Travel Guide
Beautiful interiors of Verde Mesa in Old San Juan

All the restaurants mentioned above are vegetarian-friendly! 

Where to Drink in San Juan?

La Placita is a fun place to dance and drink. When you get there look for an outdoors bar called El Coco de Luis for cheap drinks. Or head over to Old Town to La Factoria (rated the top 50 bars in the world) for anything from wine to tiki mixed drinks. 

El Yunque Rainforest 

Puerto Rico Itinerary for El Yunque Rainforest
El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico

This is not something you want to miss on your Puerto Rico trip. Many people visit El Yunque as a day trip but in my humble expert opinion, it is worth a night’s stay (or two) in the mountains and jungle near the Rainforest!

How to Get Here?  

Now would be the time to rent a car. It is about a 45-50 mins drive from San Juan. There are NO reliable public buses but you can also Uber from San Juan. Uber costs between $30-$50. 

Where to Stay in El Yunque

I highly recommend spending a night or two in the mountains, you won’t regret it! I stayed at Elemental Eco Retreat Airbnb, which was truly a magical place.

Best Airbnb's in Puerto Rico
The View at Elemental Eco Retreat

Must-Do Trails in El Yunque Rainforest *

*Note that hiking El Yunque Rainforest is appropriate for all fitness levels and ages. There is also no entrance fees!

When you enter the rainforest you’ll first stop at La Coca Falls and the Yokahu Tower. If you continue to drive up the road, you’ll come across a 5 mins trail that leads up to another beautiful waterfall/natural pool called Juan Diego Waterfall.

El Yunque Rainforest Puerto Rico travel itinerary
Juan Deigo Waterfall at El Yunque Rainforest

For an easy-moderate hike, keep driving until you see signs for Mt. Britton Trail. This is a 45 mins one-way hike on paved roads leading up to a tower with stunning views of the forest. 

The longest hike in the park is 2 hrs one-way and its called Caimitillo/El Yunque Trails leading up to El Yunque peak. 

Hiking El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico

Make sure to be out by 6 pm as that is when the gates close. 

Where to Eat in El Yunque?

There are no restaurants in the El Yunque rainforest. There were also no restaurants close enough by our Airbnb. I recommend going to Walmart in San Juan and packing enough food and snacks for this trip. Or if you have rented a car you can drive to the nearby towns for restaurants.   

Vieques Island

Best Beaches in Vieques
Caracas or Red Beach in Vieques Island

Vieques is an island off of the main island of Puerto Rico known for its stunning Carribean beaches and arguably one of the best of the Biolumencent Bays in Puerto Rico. It is 45 mins by ferry from the town of Ceiba. I recommend spending at least 2-3 days here.

How to Get Here?  

You have a few options depending on where you are and how much time/money you have. 

Ferry from Ceiba to Vieques
Ferry from Ceiba to Vieques

From El Yunque Rainforest to Vieques:

Drive to Ceiba Ferry Terminal in Ceiba, about a 45-50 mins drive from the Rainforest. If you did not rent a car, then make sure you organize for an uber to pick you up beforehand, ours cost $50. 

From San Juan to Vieques:

You can still drive to Ceiba Ferry Terminal, it’s about a 1-hour drive and then catch the ferry to Vieques. But the most time-efficient option would be to fly straight into Vieques. This a 30 mins flight from San Juan International Airport. I heard its such an awesome experience and the views are great! 

Flights range anywhere between $70-$250 one-way. Book in advance for cheap flights to Vieques.

Puerto Rico Travel Itinerary to Nearby Islands
Bring your Rental Car on the Ferry

Ferry Tickets to the Nearby Islands of Puerto Rico

If you take the ferry, you can purchase your ferry tickets in advance online here or arrive at the Ceiba Ferry Terminal early enough to buy them there in person. The cost is $2 for a one-way ticket at the ferry terminal

How to Get Around Vieques Island

If you didn’t bring your rental car on the ferry, then you can rent a vehicle* once you’re on the island or even better, rent a golf cart

Or 

You can take private taxis. This is the number to call (787) 741-8294 to request a pick-up. They cost $10 or $15 to almost anywhere on the island.

How to get around in Puerto Rico
Gua Guas in Puerto Rico

Another option is public cars called Gua Gua. These stop by the ferry terminal or in Esperanza and can take you to Caracas beach for $5 each way. 

*They don’t recommend renting motorcycles because of the horses that roam free. Watch out for those at night! 

Where to Stay in Vieques

I stayed at Casa Arena. This is a beautiful Airbnb with a pool & private access to the beach. You’ll need a car if you stay there because it’s away from the main area. 

Airbnbs in Vieques
The View from our Balcony at Casa Arena

If you want to be in the main area of the island stay on Esperanza. There is Lazy Hostel or a nice hotel called El Blok, both are right on the main beach in Esperanza. Here are other great hotel options around the island; Malecon House and Isla Hermosa Guesthouse.

Must-Do in Vieques

Caracas or Red beach (the most beautiful beach on the island of PR!), La Chiva beach, Black Sand beach, Sun Bay beach & the Bioluminescent Bay (Mosquito Bay), of course. If you like the nightlife, then check out the Isabel II square for some hot bachata and merengue tunes. 

Female traveler at Sun Bay Beach in Vieques Puerto rico
Beautiful Shell at Sun Bay Beach in Vieques

I recommend Vieques Kayak tour company and Harold as your tour guide. I had an incredible time with them! 

Black Sand Beach, Puerto Rico Travel Guide
Playa Negra or Black Sand Beach in Vieques

Pro Tip: Make sure to check out the beach at night to see the stars, but go with a group for safety. 

Where to Eat in Vieques Island?

Puerto Rico Vegetarian Food Guide
Vegetarian Mofongo at El Guayacan

Bananas for a variety of foods and fun drinks, El Guayacán for traditional Puerto Rican food (the mofongo can be made vegetarian here), Lazy Jacks for cheap bar food and El Blok for high-end food.

Culebra Island  

Culebra is another island off of the main island of Puerto Rico. It is smaller in size than Vieques, known for it’s Flamenco Beach with the navy tank in the water and Tamarindo Beach for snorkeling with sea turtles. This island is ideal for a day trip from San Juan or Vieques.

Guide to Puerto Rico's beaches
Flamenco Beach in Culebra Island

How to Get Here?  

This will depend on which part of Puerto Rico you are getting to Culebra Island.

To get from Vieques to Culebra:

The cheapest option would be to catch the earliest ferry leaving Vieques to Ceiba Ferry Terminal. At the ferry terminal, you will catch the next ferry going to Culebra. This route takes about 2 hours but will cost you $4 total

Alternatively, you can book a flight from Vieques to Culebra, but it will stop in SJU.

To get from San Juan to Culebra:

You can fly directly from San Juan International Airport (book it in advance here) or you can take an uber to Ceiba Ferry Terminal and catch a $2 ferry to Culebra. Here is the ferry schedule. 

Where to Stay in Culebra

Here are some nice places to stay in Culebra; Villa del Sol 302, and Villa Ensenada Honda.
You can either stay for a night on the island or do what I did and head back to San Juan after exploring. You can take the evening ferry back or fly back to SJ.

Must-Do in Culebra Island  

Flamenco Beach ($2 entrance fees), Zoni Beach and Tamarindo Beach for snorkeling with turtles.

Flamenco Beach in Culebra Island
A Navy Tank in the Middle of the Ocean at Flamenco Beach

When you get off the ferry, you will find a lot of Gua Guas (public cars) shouting out the names of the popular beaches. It is very safe to ride these cars and it only costs $3 to get to Flamenco Beach!

Where to Eat in Culebra? 

Puerto Rico Culebra Travel Itinerary

Culebra is a very small island so your options are limited here. There is a decent supermarket on the island if you want to cook but Zaco Tacos is a must-try for REALLY good tacos. 

For Bonus Savings: Use Rakuten to get cashback on your bookings! Also here is $40 off your first Airbnb stay. 

Make sure you pack light so you can easily hop in Ubers and the ferries, here is your complete guide to packing and traveling light!

I hope this Puerto Rico travel guide helps you plan your upcoming trip but If you still have questions, do not hesitate to contact me here.

5 Affordable Beach Holiday Destinations to Visit This Winter

5 Affordable Beach Holiday Destinations to Visit This Winter

If you are reading this now, then you and I have a lot in common: 

We both LOVE sunshine and beaches and dread the winter! 

Fret not because I have 5 insanely affordable beach holiday destinations you can hit up this winter to cure your summer blues.

And, If it’s cold where you are right now and you can’t travel just yet, then picture this:

You, chillaxin’ on a hammock, one foot lightly grazing the soft white sands, with a refreshing pina colada in hand and the sounds of ocean waves in the background….you are smiling real big because this whole set up cost you less than $40/per day! 

Ladies and Gents, here is a list of 5 truly unique and affordable beach holiday destinations to visit this winter:

1. Central America 

Place: Bocas Del Toro, Panama 

The Vibe: Bocas is a province in Panama off of the Caribbean coast that is made up of a bunch of islands with stunning turquoise waters, rock formations, and marine life. The main town is Bocas town where you can stay in super cute hostels, eat at trendy cafes, and party like there is no tomorrow—look up Filthy Friday!

Must visit: Starfish Beach (Playa Estrella)—this beach has many brightly colored starfish that you can see up close in the shallow water. Please respect these creatures by not taking them out of the water, they need to be in it to survive. 

Starfish beach in Panama; one of the affordable beach holiday destinations
They were that close to me!

Weather: Consistently in the mid 80s°F/20s°C, with some rain here and there. Hello tropical weather! 

Average Hostel Price/Night: $10-$16. Check out Hostel Mamallena and La Guayana 

Average Hotel/Private Room Price/Night: $50-$100 for hotel rooms and less than $50 for private rooms in hostels. 

Average Meal Price: $4-$8 Local meals, $10-$15 Fancy Meals.

Pro Saving Tip: With many affordable supermarkets in town, I ended up cooking most of my meals to cut down on costs. While this might not be your idea of a fun vacay but when you’re tight on cash, cooking a meal with new or old friends is actually loads of fun! 

Price of a Beer: $2

Female travelers on an affordable beach holiday destination in Panama
Party in the middle of the ocean!!

Why go there?

Sun and fun. Bocas is the ideal place to be lazy or to go wild. There are many restaurants and parties happening throughout the week. You can’t get bored here because of how accessible it is to get to the surrounding islands by hopping on a $3-$5 water taxi from Bocas Town. 

If you are looking for an adventure to add on to your trip to Bocas in Panama, then check out Nomadic Matt’s blog post on Boquete.

Place: San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua 

The Vibe: Quiet/lazy beach town located on the southwest coast of Nicaragua. With a ton of Pacific beaches within driving distance to choose from, this town is perfect for surfers/learning to surf, budget backpackers, yoga lovers or those who simply desire to tan their beach buns while sipping on yummy affordable dranks.

Playa Maderas

Must Visit: Playa Maderas, MIxcal Beach, Playa Hermosa, The Beach House (for 2 for $5 Happy Hour drinks!)

Weather: Pretty dry with average temps. of 80s°F/30s°C

Average Hostel Price/Night: $5-$15. Check out Naked Tiger or Casa Oro in the heart of town.

Average Hotel/Private Room Price/Night: $19-$40 for private rooms in hostels, $35-$50 Hotel rooms.

Pro Saving Tip: Stay at an all-inclusive eco-luxury resort for one week for $449! Or $52/ day including breakfast. 

Average Meal Price: $4-$10

Price of a Beer: $1

Affordable beach holiday destinations in Central America
Fresh coco for $1

Why go there? 

With many beaches around and various activities to indulge in, I doubt you’ll ever get bored in San Juan Del Sur. You can do a 1 week yoga retreat for less than $500, or take up surf lessons for $25/hr or even Spanish classes by the beach for $10/hr. This is definitely one of the most affordable beach holiday destinations in Central America. 

2. The Carribean 

Place: Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic 

The Vibe: Pristine and quiet white sand beaches on the Samaná peninsula in the northeast part of the DR. Enough said! 

P.S. if you are a bachata lover, you will fall in love with this town and the dancers at the clubs. 

Must Visit: Playa Bonita, Playa Coson 

Affordable Beach Holiday Destinations to Visit in the Winter
Secluded pristine white sand beaches

Pro Saving Tip: Take motorcycle taxis from town to the beaches because they only cost around $1-$4!

Weather: Tropical wet and humid weather with an average of 70s°F/25°C

Average Hostel Price/Night: $15. My fav is Dan & Manty’s Guesthouse

Average Hotel/Private Room Price/Night: Hotel rooms from $50-$100, Private room in a hostel from $24-$45. 

Average Meal Price: $2-$5 local food in town, $10-$20 food at the beach

Price of a Beer: $2

Female travelers at an affordable beach holiday destination in the Dominican Republic
Perfect deep blue waters (unedited photo)

Why go there?

A trip to Las Terrenas can be as luxurious or as an affordable beach holiday destination as you want, depending on where you stay. With that being said, the beauty of all the beaches will never fail to make you feel like you are at a 5-star resort, regardless of where you end up staying! 

3. South America  

Place: Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta, Colombia 

The Vibe: A unique mix of lush tropical jungles and perfect blue Carribean waters. Tayrona National Park is located at the intersection of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta and the Carribean coast. This is for those who crave an adventurous beach holiday. Think sleeping outdoors in hammocks or tents and waking up to the sound of the waves and tropical birds. 

Surreal Rocks at Tayrona National Park in Colombia
Surreal Landscape at sunrise in Tayrona National Park

Pro Saving Tip: Catch a local bus ride for $2 from the town of Santa Marta which drops you off by the entrance of the park. From the park entrance, it is an approximately sweaty 2 hours hike in the jungle to the beach. This is an easy hike, just a little humid so wear breathable clothes and carry a light day pack. 

Must Visit: The whole damn thing, if you can! But the most popular beach in Tayrona is Cabo San Juan. 

Weather: Humid and rainy but definitely HOT!  We are talking 90°F/32°C

Average Hostel Price/Night in Santa Marta: $6-$12. Check out Dreamers Hostel 

Average Hotel/Private Room Price/Night in Santa Marta: Hotel rooms from $20-$85. Private rooms in hostels from $15-$45. 

Hammock or Tent Accommodation Price in the Park: $12-$60. Check out Tayrona Tented Lodge with all meals included! If you want to sleep in a hammock for $7, then take a look at this option

Average Meal Price: $3-$12. Don’t forget to pack them snacks!

Price of a Beer: $1.50

Affordable Beach Holiday Destinations in South America

Why go there?

Because you will love Colombia as a whole and you will have such an adventure hiking, taking in the biodiversity of the park and swimming in the ocean. There are many picture opportunities here, so take advantage!

For a complete guide to visiting the park check out this blog post

Important Park Operational Info: Gate is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The last permitted entry is at 4 p.m. Tayrona is closed from end of Jan through Feb. Please check online that the park is open on your intended visit date. 

4. North Africa 

Place: Sharm el Sheik, Egypt

The Vibe: A diver’s heaven. Sharm is located between Egypt’s majestic Sinai desert and the Red Sea known for its clear waters with surreal coral reefs, palm-lined beaches, and endless bars and nightlife activity. Gather up all your loved ones, because this affordable beach holiday destination is perfect for groups or families!

Red sea in Egypt surrounded by the Sinai desert

Must Visit: Ras Mohammed National Park, Adrenaline Beach, Terrazina Beach, Saint Catherine Monastery, Naama Bay (for the nightlife) 

Weather: Hot but breezy at night averaging 70s°F/20s°C. You will have the best tan of your life, I’m telling ya!

Average Affordable Hotel Price/Night: $20-$35. If you want an authentic desert experience check out Sinai Old Spices B&B

Average All-Inclusive Hotel Price/Night: $55-$200. Labranda Tower Bay is an all-inclusive hotel with desert and ocean views, appropriate for all kinds of travelers.

Average Meal Price: $5-$8

Price of a Beer: $3

Sharm el Sheikh is one of the top most affordable beach holiday destinations in the world
The Sinai Desert

Why go there? 

A unique combination of authentic North African/Middle Eastern culture and a desert landscape contrasted by picture-perfect beaches. You can camp out in deserts for an adventure, take up diving lessons in the world’s best waters for diving or simply enjoy a luxury vacation at an all-inclusive hotel for the fraction of the price you’d pay anywhere else. 

Diving in the red sea in Egypt

Pro Saving Tip: Make friends with the locals and learn a few words in Arabic. You will really impress the Egyptians and they might hook up the prices for you, habibi! 

Safety Tip: If you are a solo traveler, travel around with a local guide or a local friend. 

5. Asia

Place: Koh Rong Island, Sihanoukville, Cambodia 

The Vibe: Low-key developing island with secluded white sand beaches and lush jungles. This is perfect for those looking for a major social media/city detox. There are very little distractions here and you will definitely enjoy being one with nature. Just be prepared for the power outages, limited wi-fi, and food options. 

Must Visit: Koh Rong Samloem (you can swim with planktons that light up in the water at night—it’s truly magical!)

Koh Rong Island in Cambodia; one of the most affordable beach destinations in Asia

Weather: Warm and dry weather averaging in the mid 80s°F/20s°C

Average Hostel Price/Night: $10. Coconutbeach Bungalows offers private tents with beds for $5/night and private rooms starting at $15! 

Average Hotel/Private Room Price/Night: $15-$50. Lost and Found offers private rooms for $15, including breakfast, that are right across from the beach on Koh Rong Samloem

Average Meal Price: $2-$5

Price of a Beer: $1.50

Affordable beach holiday destinations in South East Asia

Why go there?

As far as affordable beach holiday destinations go, it doesn’t get any cheaper or better than this. This island was one of my top favorite places during my entire trip to Cambodia. You can find free hanging hammocks from trees by the beach to relax on while sipping on your $1 fresh smoothie and reading your favorite book. 

For a more extensive guide on Koh Rong Island read this blog

Fun Fact: The Survivors 32nd season was filmed on Koh Rong Island! 

Place: Hoi An, Vietnam

(Ha Long Bay is cool too, but Hoi An is cooler, in my humble opinion at least)

The Vibe: Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, this old riverside town has an interesting mix of Chinese, Japanese, French and Vietnamese flair. Here you can shop, eat amazing foods, chill by the river (check out the Full Moon Lantern festival), get your temple fix and sunbathe at the beach. 

Must Visit: Hoi An Town, The Riverside, Cua Dai Beach, An Bang Beach, Chuc Thanh Pagoda

Hoi An Town in Vietnam

Weather: Dec-Jan is still considered the rainy season in Vietnam but temps are averaging 70s°F/20s°C. Feb-Mar is warm and dry. 

Average Hostel Price/Night: $4-$9. Check out this $6 hostel right in town. 

Average Hotel/Private Room Price/Night: Hotel rooms average between $14-$35. Private rooms at hostels are between $15-$30. G Boutique Resort offers you luxury for $35/night including a fresh breakfast and access to a pool. 

Average Meal Price: $1-$5

Price of a Beer: $.50- $1.50

Hoi An riverside is an affordable beach holiday destination in Vietnam
Hoi An’s riverside lined with bars and restaurants

Why go there?

This is truly an extraordinary and often underrated affordable beach holiday destination for those already traveling through Vietnam or South East Asia. I highly recommend it to travelers who want to have a unique cultural experience, old town venturing, delicious CHEAP street food, and the beach, of course. 

If you want to learn how to save and budget for an upcoming trip, even as a college student, then you should read this blog post!

Happy summertime in the wintertime, y’all!

Disclaimer: I may make a commission on some of the links mentioned in this post at NO additional cost to you!