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Travel Hacking: Get Free Flights Around the World

My wife and I have traveled around the world without paying for a long-haul flight. No, really. Since we started traveling full-time in January 2012, we’ve taken 84 free flights and saved $21,231.
You’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute. Are these guys flight attendants? Stowaways? Out of their minds?” None of the above. We’re travel hackers. And you could be one, too.

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Medieval Charms in the “Venice of the North”

Street lanterns flood narrow alleys with light, creating dramatic shadows against medieval bricks. Ancient buildings light up with a mysterious reddish glow, reflecting off the darkened and still canals. In the evening, the city is at its most enchanting. As the crowds disperse, the isolated streets take on a bewitching and fairytale-like quality.

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The Secrets of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula

Most people visit Cape Town, South Africa’s Mother City, for the breezy beaches, decadent vineyards, and picture-postcard views of Table Mountain. The appeal is easy to see. But if you focus your stay solely on Cape Town, you risk missing out on all the secret attractions along the scenic Cape Peninsula, stretching out to the south of the city.

Cotacachi

My Love-Hate Relationship With the World Of Travel

I am a bad traveler. That may seem like a strange admission to make for an expat. Travel is, after all, part of the deal…you can’t really live abroad without traveling—at least to the country in which you plan to settle. And to be sure, I love to see and experience other towns, cities, beaches, mountains…the lure of foreign lands and exotic adventures has not diminished for me during my years abroad.

Pirangi Beach, Brazil

Insider Tips For Traveling the World on $40 a Day

Even if your coffers are bare, you can take a six-month trip if you save $10 a day for two years, or save $13 a day for three years to globetrot for a full year. You may have a healthy savings account already, but there are always ways to cut your expenses and make some extra cash. And it doesn’t have to be difficult, either.

Grecia market, Costa Rica

The Typical Cuisine of Costa Rica

Costa Rica cuisine may not be well-known outside its borders. But those who visit or live there soon develop a craving for certain dishes. With a reliance on fresh ingredients and savory seasonings, it’s no wonder. There are nearly 1,000 miles of Pacific and Caribbean coastline, so seafood is a favorite. And the rich volcanic soil means that fruits and vegetables thrive, including tropical varieties like guanabana or chayote not found much outside the region.

Georgetown, Malaysia

George Town: The Funky Southeast Asian Capital

George Town, the capital city of the island of Penang, is full of wonderful surprises. It is one of the most interesting and colourful cities in Malaysia, as well as being home to great healthcare, modern infrastructure and First-World amenities.

Koh Samui, Thailand

The Perfect Solution to These Baby Boomer Regrets

A recent British Airways survey of 2,000 baby boomers found that their biggest regrets in life are working too much and not traveling enough. This hit home for me, first because I’m a baby boomer myself. I was born between 1946 and 1961. It also struck a chord with me because, for the past 15 years, I’ve been working for an outfit that directly addresses both these issues.

Nicaragua

Making Nacatamales, a Traditional Nicaraguan Dish

For special occasions, especially the Christmas holidays, nacatamales are the go-to traditional meal in Nicaragua. Making this delicious dish is a bit labor intensive and a multi-step process—so the whole family gets involved. The basic ingredients are masa, chicken or pork seasoned with achiote, and vegetables and herbs like onions, potatoes, bell peppers, tomato, rice, and mint—everybody has their own version. It’s all wrapped together in a banana leaf and then steamed.

Banos, Ecuador

My Top Tip For Hiring the Best, and Cheapest, “Tour Guide”

As my husband Clyde approached the taxi, the driver looked surprised to hear a gringo speaking Spanish. After all, this was the tourist town of Banos, Ecuador, which attracts visitors from all over the world. The streets are lined with little shops that display signs in English offering tours of the quaint little village.

San-Juan-del-Sur

Discover A World of Travel Possibilities When You Live Overseas

When you move overseas, you don’t just benefit from the better weather, lower cost of living, and the affordable healthcare…you also open up a world of travel possibilities. During our working lives, we’d take those one- or two-week trips, and were lucky enough to see a few highlights.
But when you live in a foreign country, you have the opportunity to use this new location to travel to other countries as well as to explore the place you’ve chosen to live. This happened to me when I moved to Nicaragua.

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Chocolate, Statues, and Tree-Top Dives

With its historic castle and medieval streets, the Portuguese town of Óbidos has a lot to offer visitors. And if you have a sweet tooth, you have another big reason to stop off in this town if you’re rambling through Europe. At this time of year, Óbidos plays host to its annual International Chocolate Festival, which draws attendees from across Portugal and beyond. Amid the many showcases lining Óbidos’s streets, you’re sure to find a chocolate (or two…or 10) to suit your tastes. Professional chocolatiers compete for the Chocolatier of the Year award, while visitors can revel in the many chocolate statues—provided they don’t melt in the Portuguese sun.

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Follow the Sweet, Sticky Road

Part of the joy of living in Costa Rica is a slower pace of life. An inherent part of that slower pace is dirt roads. While Costa Rica does have modern paved roads in the cities and on the highways, in many smaller towns off the beaten track, you’re likely to see dirt roads. These roads can be quite dusty during the dry season (December through April). So to combat the dust, many communities in Costa Rica have come up with an unlikely solution: They pour molasses all over the roads.

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The Great Train Graveyard, The World’s Steepest Street and Much More

Bolivia’s Uyuni Salt Flat is the largest salt flat in the world. The air’s intense dryness and the salt-laden winds blowing over this 4,000-square-mile expanse make this a bleak place to eke out a living.
In the past, this was a major trade hub for the Andes region of South America. And walking the salt flat today, you can see a bleak but unforgettable reminder of this: Bolivia’s train graveyard.

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Monserrate: Million-Dollar Views Over Bogotá

Usually, for a view like this, you’d have to spend a couple of million dollars on a hillside mansion. In Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, for only a few thousand pesos, or about five greenbacks, you can marvel at the seemingly endless city as it disappears into the hills from the top of the picturesque Monserrate Mountain, 10,000 feet above sea level. Monserrate’s fame began from humble beginnings, when the brotherhood of Vera Cruz frequented this peak for prayers in the early 1600s. The site has been a popular destination for residents, tourists, and pilgrims for well over a century now. On Sundays and holidays, it’s not uncommon for the more ardent Catholics to make the trek on foot.

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Own Amid History and Vines in Italy’s Piedmont from $125,000

Mist-shrouded castles clinging to dramatic cliffs… Opulent noble palaces with elegant gardens full of exotic plants… Snow-capped mountains towering over picture-perfect medieval towns… Verdant pastures and neat vineyards stretching into the horizon. No, this is not a scene straight out of a fantasy book. This is Piedmont, in northwest Italy.

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Australia by RV: The Five Best Road Trips

With its rich history, stunning beaches, revered wines, and array of unusual wildlife, Australia has a huge amount to offer travelers. And beautiful weather, dramatic landscapes, and excellent road networks make this the ideal country for a leisurely road trip. Weekly rental for a two-berth RV can start from as little as $667. Prices for powered sites vary by location and time of year, but in general a two-night stay starts at around $60. Here are the five best road trips you can take the next time you decide to head Down Under.

Panama City, Panama

Panama City: A Luxury Lifestyle in the “Hub of the Americas”

Panama City—Central America’s true First-World capital—offers the perfect mix of old and new, modern and traditional. Here you can eat in a gourmet restaurant, attend a jazz festival, watch a movie (in English)…do just about anything you would be able to do in many of the First-World cities that we all love. But in Panama City, you can do it all for less. A luxury lifestyle in the “Hub of the Americas” is easy.

Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua, Nicaragua

The Awe-Inspiring Natural Beauty of Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Set in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, the world’s 19th largest lake, Ometepe Island is an escape from the stress of the modern world. It’s most noticeable feature: the two volcanoes, one active and one extinct, that loom above all.

Island residents live a simple life of farming and fishing. There is no large-scale development and limited numbers of tourists make their way there for horseback riding, trekking in the jungle, eco-tours, and learning sustainable farming practices. You do find some expats on Ometepe, running restaurants or hostels…or farming. It’s still a relatively undiscovered destination.

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Swapping a Law Career for Freelance Photography

I have always loved travel photography. My childhood room held travel posters and calendars with glossy photographs of the places I wanted to visit. I used to dream that someday my own photographs would be among them. In December, a box arrived on my doorstep filled with several calendars from the world’s largest calendar company, each with one or more of my travel photographs gracing the pages.

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$600 for One Photo…And a Week-Long Trip to Fiji

I can see it as we leave the airport—clear as day—this large mountain range that looks like a sleeping giant, with booted feet and humongous belly, face-up to the sky. His hulking, bearded face is pieced together from the craggy, green and brown branches of tropical trees, native to the island.

I’ve just landed in Fiji for a week-long stay.

Catedral Metropolitana, Mexico City

Travel in Mexico City: The Zócalo and Cathedral

In downtown Mexico City, one of the largest in the world, you find a vast open space – the famous Zócalo. Covering 14 acres, it is one of the largest town squares or plazas in the world. It’s the heart of the city’s colonial district, surrounded by historic buildings and pedestrian avenues full of restaurants and shops, as well as government buildings and a cathedral.

Keukenhof, widely considered one of the most beautiful spring parks in the world, is home to over seven million tulips.

Tulip Fields, Tattoos, and Dancing Witches

If you happen to be hiking through the Himalayan country of Nepal this month, leave your Sunday best behind you. (Attempting Everest in a suit and tie probably wouldn’t end well, anyway.) In Nepal, the full moon on March 23 marks the end of winter and the start of the monsoon season. But local people don’t wait for the rain to get wet.

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An Unusual Safari Snack

A safari-goers paradise, Uganda offers all sorts of surprises… Each year during the rainy season, grasshoppers fill Uganda’s night skies. Known locally as nsenene, these harmless-looking creatures can devastate crops, eating into farmers’ profits and reducing an already lackluster food supply.

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Man-Made Volcanoes, Temple of Rats, and Much More…

The clear, turquoise waters of Mexico’s cenotes (sinkhole ponds) are well known to visitors, and attract thousands of people seeking to explore the underground delights they have on show. But some of these enchanting sinkholes have a more sinister side. None more so than the so-called Pet Cemetery near the popular expat hub of Tulúm.

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The New and Old Collide in Historic Milan

Move over, Rome. Italy’s fashion capital, Milan, is more than just a pretty face. It can definitely go toe-to-toe with the Eternal city when it comes to history, monuments, and treasured art, not to mention that high fashion and industry. So if you want a dose of Italian culture, don’t overlook Milan: In this city, where the old and new come together, there’s something to suit everyone.

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Hidden Treasures in Europe’s Tiny Forgotten Country

Luxembourg City is the perfect escape. But the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is so small that most people miss the motorway turnoff and drive past it. The country is bordered by France, Germany, and Belgium. From the capital of Luxembourg City to the borders of France and Germany it’s a mere 30-minutes’ drive; to Belgium it’s only a 15-minute drive. There’s space enough, however, to squeeze in several small towns and villages, plenty of lovely countryside, and a disproportionate amount of history and beauty.

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Mongolia: Stars and Wild Horses on the Asian Steppe

Lying at the eastern end of the great Eurasian Steppe, Mongolia—the land of Genghis Khan—is Asia as you have never seen it, home to a unique nomadic culture, rich history, and diverse, almost undisturbed wilderness. It’s a place that gets under your skin, whether you make a month-long journey across the country, enjoy a brief stop in your trip along the Trans-Siberian Railway, or, as I did, settle there for a time.

Mexico

Mexico: A Firm Expat Favorite

Mexico has been a firm favourite with expats looking for a retirement haven where they can make the most of their retirement. Mexico’s close proximity to the U.S. as well as its cost of living make it an ideal expat haven. From real estate to groceries, entertainment to healthcare, life in Mexico simply costs less.

Why Croatia

In Pictures: Mediterranean Croatia

Croatia is as the Mediterranean once was. It is one of Europe’s lesser known gems—but one of the most beautiful. With over a thousand islands, vibrant cities like Dubrovnik, quaint villages with stone-and-red-top buildings…there is much to see in Croatia.

Paris

5 Places to Meet Expats in Paris

Planning an extended stay in Paris and worried about meeting other Anglophones? I have one word for you… Don’t. In Paris, we expats are practically tripping over each other, there are so many of us. By some estimates there are more than 200,000 American expats in Paris. Add to this tens of thousands of English, Irish and Australian expats—not to mention countless other expats who happen to speak English—and you’ve got yourself a very robust Anglophone community.

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Enjoy a Shot of Coco Loco

Lying on the equator, Manabí province, on Ecuador’s northern Pacific coast, enjoys a year-round growing season, and the locals are adept at using all of nature’s offerings. One clan that has deep roots in the San Vicente community is preserving an age-old family recipe that you have to be drinking age to enjoy. The clan specializes in turning locally sourced ingredients into an unusual—and unusually packaged—Manabían liqueur.

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Mexico’s Creepy Cave, Japan’s Doll Village and Much More…

Whipping and flickering across the night sky, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are on many travelers’ bucket lists. And northern Finland is one of the best places in the world to observe this stunning natural phenomenon.

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How to Travel the World on $40 a Day

Sitting at a beer hall at Munich’s Oktoberfest, a German couple told us they had just taken a trip around the world…for less than $100 a day, all in. My husband Mike and I nearly choked on our Hoffbrau. It sounded impossible…yet we couldn’t stop thinking about it. So when it came to planning our honeymoon, with the list of destinations we’d love to visit running off the page, that German couple’s trip kept crossing our mind.

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Bauhaus and Other Surprises: The Best of Tel Aviv

One part Europe, two parts Middle East, with a dash of Africa, the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv is jam-packed with art, design, ancient ruins, and delicious fare. Yet this popular city still holds some secrets. In a region where most cities were founded before Christ was born, Tel Aviv is very new. A tiny village until the 1930s, it was the exodus of Jews from Europe that saw the modern city grow. It’s a modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan city set on a sunbronzed strip of coastline, right on the Mediterranean Sea.

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An Expert’s Guide to Eating Out in Bogotá

If you’re after a new food adventure, my adopted home of Bogotá is the place to discover ancient traditions, exotic ingredients, passionate chefs, and exciting taste experiences—all at knock-down prices. Fresh ingredients from one of the most biodiverse countries in the world are the foundation for a terrific food culture. Here’s my pick of the places and foods you should try on a weekend in the Colombian capital.

Puerto Lopez

5 Things to do in Puerto López, Ecuador

Although living in Cuenca, Ecuador, seems like a year-round vacation for me, it’s still nice to get away for a few days to explore other parts of this beautiful country. And one spot that’s well worth a visit is the small coastal village of Puerto López.

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Pina Coladas, Tropical Sunshine, and Earning Adventures

Jim Sayers considers himself a very lucky man. “I have lived in three Central American countries—Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica—and am in love with each one,” he says. “In each the people are so friendly. Add to that a wonderful year-round climate and most of the stressful issues associated with living in Canada or the U.S. are virtually non-existent.

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Winged Terrors Keep the Bugs at Bay

Bats portend doom. So the folklore goes. In New Mexico a bat in the house means a death will occur within eight days. In the Midwest it’s within a few months. And if you live in Washington State, the good news is you have a whole year.

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Swimming Pigs and Evicted Mummies

Somoto Canyon is one of the oldest rock formations in Central America, and Northern Nicaragua’s most-impressive natural attraction. But it went undiscovered until 2004, when a team of Czech and Nicaraguan scientists stumbled upon this colossal natural wonder.

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