CouchSurfing: What Exactly Does That Mean?

Traveling is an adventure that truly can change your life and make you richer in body, mind and soul. My experiences traveling have changed me and have truly opened my eyes to the world around me.

As a person who grew up in a small town in Arkansas, this experience of stepping out into the big world and exploring has given me an insight that I would’ve never had staying comfortably back in my life in America.

While living in Spain in 2013, I was introduced to CouchSurfing for the first time. When I first heard the name I laughed, thinking it was some sort of sport. However, after my friend explained the concept to me I laughed even harder and said, “that is the most ridiculous and dangerous thing I have ever heard. I would NEVER do that!”


How does CouchSurfing work?


Couchsurfing is a service that is offered online that connects people from all over the globe together.

There are three main ways in which you can get the most out of this service:

  • Exploring and connecting with people in your own city.
  • Offering your home without cost to a traveler that needs a place to stay while visiting your city.
  • Finding accommodation or a person to meet up with while you are personally traveling to a different city.


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Couchsurfing host: Bandung, Indonesia


How can I get started?


The first step is to open your mind to such a foreign idea and just give it a try. Start by completely filling out a profile, which will consist of you writing in detail more about who you are, what you like to do, places you have visited, pictures, a description of your home if you are going to host, time of availability etc.

Once you have that completely filled out, then you can start exploring. There will be local discussions, events and easy access to contact the people that live within close distance to you.


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Couchsurfing host in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia


What is a typical experience like using CouchSurfing?


Every experience I have had has been completely different, which is what makes the experience so exciting and addicting. A typical experience of mine usually consists of talking by email, phone or Skype with the possible host during a span of 1-2 weeks, depending on if it’s last minute or not.

After I gain some trust with the person, we plan the travel details and I give them the date and place of arrival. Upon arrival the host will either pick you up or give you specific directions on how to get to his or her home.

Once together the activities might include: talking and getting to know each other, a tour of the city, being introduced to the host’s friends or family, trying different traditional foods, cooking together, going on a small trip, concert, or seeing whatever may be going on in the city in the dates you are there.

If the visit is during the week, it’s common that the host will have to work. In that case he or she may decide to give you the keys or will tell you the time in which he or she finishes work so that you can enter in the house. Talk with you host beforehand and work out the little details in order to avoid any kind of complications or misunderstandings.



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Couchsurfing: Jakarta, Indonesia

How do I know who I can trust and not?


There are millions of users on Couchsurfing from all over the world. With that many users, it’s inevitable that there will be people that are not using it for the right reasons, so safety is priority. First and foremost, reading someone’s complete profile is a must.


If you find that someone does not have certain areas filled out and it looks a little sketchy, automatically eliminate them from the search and move on.


Look for people that have an active profile and that seem to have similar hobbies and interests to you. On your profile you are able to add as many pictures as you want, so take a look at the other person’s pictures and get a feel for what he or she likes to do to see if you think you might be compatible.

Both hosts and travelers can obtain references from other hosts, friends and guests and for me this is my lifeline when choosing my hosts.


As a solo female traveler,  I would say that my biggest suggestion to reduce the risk of problems is by choosing a host with more than 10 positive reviews from both girls and boys. I often look for comments from girls that say “I am a single traveler and I felt safe in his home.”


If someone has over 10 references saying positive comments, you can drastically reduce the risk of something happening, although you can’t completely avoid it.




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Couchsurfing: Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Is Couchsurfing Safe?


Just like anything in life, you have to be careful and listen to your heart. I have used Couchsurfing more than 100+ times alone without any kinds of problems. I am aware of the dangers in each and every place that I go and if I have any sort of hesitation I do not ignore it.


CouchSurfing can be an experience that truly changes your life and can introduce you to amazing friendships from all over the world.


If you take the safety measures while using this service, you will have the opportunity to meet and connect with all kinds of different people from all over the world and create memories that last a lifetime.


Read more: Couchsurfing- Safely Choosing a Host 


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Couchsurfing: Chennai, India


Don’t forget to also check out:





  • Have you ever used CouchSurfing?

  • Would you ever give it a try?

  • Share your thoughts and stories below!


Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comCouchSurfing: What Exactly Does That Mean?
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4 Tips to Organize & Plan For Travel to Countries You Can’t Communicate

Our verbal communication is a survival tool that gets us by in most day to day situations. However, have you ever thought about life without that special tool?  As I travel around the world, especially off the beaten path, verbally expressing my needs so that people actually understand me has been a constant challenge. As I travel alone to different countries where English and Spanish are not spoken, people constantly ask me the same question,

“How in the world are you able to function and communicate effectively, completely alone, across so many different cultures and countries?”

The uncertainty of not being able to communicate is one factor that leaves many people paralyzed with fear and unwilling to take a step into the unknown and travel to foreign territory.

The fear of being stranded without knowing where to go, traveling alone and not having anyone that speaks your language by your side, or going to a public place and not knowing what is on the menu, are all fears that can cause anyone to be turned away from the idea of traveling abroad.

Trust me, I know…..I had all those fears myself before traveling.

When I first began my journey, I clung to the comfortable European countries, where English was within easy reach. I never liked the idea of traveling alone, so I just comfortably stuck with my English-speaking friends in the places that I went.

If we were ever in any situation where English was not spoken, no problem, because I had the help of my friends by my side. I didn’t have to face it alone, and I didn’t have to go through that feeling of embarrassment that is associated with not knowing what the heck is going on or what to say. However, after countless trips traveling with other people, I felt a deep sense within that it was time to break outside of my comfort zone and to start my own adventure, completely alone.


After years of solo traveling and numerous exciting adventures around the globe, I have had my share of ups and downs, mistakes, moments of panic, and feeling of complete helplessness due to communication errors. I have prepared a list through my own personal experiences and errors on the top ways I have learned to plan, organize and effectively function and communicate across cultures and countries where the language is not my own.

1. Organization, Planning and Knowledge

When it comes to traveling to a place where the language is not your own, organization and some planning are key. I am a huge believer in the importance of researching and learning about the different places that you travel before visiting, not only for safety purposes, but for being more educated and knowledgeable when you were talking with other people. General knowledge on your location helps in any situation, but the one thing I have noticed is that this knowledge helps reduce the risk of you getting ripped off in different occasions (bus tickets, accommodation, taxi rides, food etc.)

 If you go into a situation not having any idea of what to expect, local people have a better chance of taking advantage of you.

Organizing your trip a bit, knowing the top attractions, information on the local money, areas of town you might want to stay away from, top places to eat, accommodation, wifi hot spots throughout the city, bars and night clubs, etc, are all very helpful to discover and locate beforehand. Knowing these things can save you a headache when arriving and trying to figure it all out with people in the street.

Another important point in the planning stage is learning and writing down the most important words and phrases, important destinations, street names, names of hotel, restaurants or anything you plan on going to see. Investing in a good dictionary, phrasebook, local guide book and phone with GPS may serve you well.

2. Give it your best effort and don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Part of the fun when I travel is trying to learn a few of the local words and phrases. I must admit, my pronunciation in many languages is absolutely terrible, but what I have found is that locals appreciate the effort, even if it’s not perfect.

The most important phrase I have used and memorized in various languages is, “Do you speak English?” You can be assured with this phrase that you will get at least a yes or a no, and you don’t need to know the language to understand a head shake. It’s not a realistic goal to say that you’re going to learn the language every country you visit, especially if you only plan on staying a short amount of time in each place, but a little effort sure does go a long way.

If you get a phone plan, you can always download a translator and use it when you need to communicate. If you can’t say it right, you can always make the translator talk or show the written sentence to the person you are speaking with.

3. Get in tune with your nonverbal communication

When traveling to unknown territory, gestures will be your best friend. I underestimated how much power were in gestures until I traveled to a little village in Armenia where I could not find a single person that knew English or Spanish.

I arrived after a long day of travel with an empty stomach and a craving for chicken. I stopped at a restaurant with absolutely no idea what the menu said. In a desperate desire to communicate, I started flapping my arms as if I had wings, while showing with my hand a small amount to show the person that I wanted a little bit of chicken.

They hysterically laughed due to the lack of communication, but I learned that fluency is not necessary in many situations.

Sometimes something as simple as flapping your wings can speak a full message to someone. In addition, this experience makes you a more humble person and it gives everyone a good laugh.


Other gestures I use daily include: thumbs up, the OK sign, pointing, different facial expressions (ex: showing disgust when I don’t like something, smiling, raising shoulders to how that I don’t know something etc).

It is said that 93% of our our language is actually our non verbal communication and only 7% is our spoken words. Each day that I travel across the world I realize the truth of this statement.

4. Patience, patience, patience…..and more patience

If you travel outside of the bigger cities to the small villages be prepared to pack patience with you, because being faced with a language barrier is inevitable. End of story. There is no escaping it, unless you have a full-time translator with or go with a tour group.

In a small village in Romania I had to walk the streets for hours asking people for directions to the right bus station. No matter what gesture I used, no one could seem to understand and communicate with me. There were about 100 buses lined up, no wi-fi, hundreds of people passing by, and not one of them could direct me in the right place. I asked person after person, including the police officers, but I got the same response, “English….no”

After hours of walking around, I finally found someone with a broken level of English that was able to direct me. All the signs were in a different language, and even with her help I was not 100% sure if I was going in the right direction.

In these kinds of situations I have learned to rely on that inner gut feeling that each one of us have to guide me in the right direction.

At first all of this confusion was very frustrating, but then I realized that this is part of the adventure and losing my patience didn’t help with anything. I have to admit, I have been hysterical and in tears in the street due to frustration and being completely lost without a sign of help earlier in my travels. I had to quickly learn that this behavior did not help me to solve my problems any quicker and that sometimes the best move is just to take a deep breath and then take action.

Traveling to countries where your language is not commonly spoken can be scary at first, especially when you are thinking about it from a perspective where you are living in a very comfortable part of the world and you are able to communicate each and every day without an obstacle.

However, if you step out into the world of the unknown and give foreign travel a chance, you will not only be changed, but most likely you will find the kindness and goodness of people from all around the world, who are more than happy to help you in your adventure with patience, love and an open heart.


Don’t forget to also check out: 





Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.com4 Tips to Organize & Plan For Travel to Countries You Can’t Communicate
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India: Meditation Boot Camp: The Start of My Meditation Practice

When I landed with a one-way ticket to India, I left the airplane in complete culture shock from the madness and chaos that surrounded me. It was an experience that I had never had traveling at that time and I could not get my head around the reality that I was seeing before my eyes.

Thousands of people in every direction, naked kids running and playing, some totally alone and many begging for food. Piles of trash and overflowing trash cans, cows wandering aimlessly between traffic, rushed cabdrivers impatiently driving and honking and one set of eyes after another directed towards me as I stood out like a sore thumb, with my blonde hair and face of utter confusion.

India is known for being one of the most cultural diverse countries in the world, with more than 200 dialects of languages throughout the country. They are famous for their reputation of dedication towards meditation practices and home to some of the most holy places on earth.


I had traveled to India looking for a different type of experience, something different than the normal travels that I had been having in the more comfortable, westernized countries. I strongly desired to open my heart and mind to a new experience and learn a little bit more about about their culture, connect with the people and learn about their meditation and religious practices. However, in the midst of the chaos, I felt like I was in the wrong place.

After a week of traveling and exploring parts of India, my heart started to change and I began to enjoy and adapt to the experience. However, after just one week I decided to escape the loud, busy streets and enter in a 10 day meditation/silent retreat called Vipassana.

Meditation and I once had a rocky relationship. It’s one of those practices that I always knew were beneficial to my life and health, but for someone who absolutely loves talking, it was a practice that I always put off saying, “one day I will try it out.”

Meditation has been known for countless benefits for the mind body and soul. It’s known to help you stay focused and live in the present moment, while helping you to stay happier, less anxious and keep the stress under control. It enhances compassion and changes the lens in which you see the world, yourself and the situations that come your way.

Some of the biggest names today claim meditation to be one of the main keys to their success and well-being. Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Kobe Bryant, Steve Jobs, Paul McCartney, Tina Turner and Madonna, to name a few, all have enjoyed or are enjoying the countless benefits that meditation offers.

As a person that is always striving for personal growth and development, I decided to give this practice some special attention and knew that there would be no place to do it than in India. Vipassana is only a place for serious learners and people that are committed to making meditation a part of their daily life.

Upon arrival, we were asked to turn in our personal cell phones, computers, cameras and any electronics. There was absolutely no reading, writing, making eye contact, caffeine, alcohol or exercise during the 10 days of the retreat. If you felt like you could not abide by the rules, they simply asked you to leave at the beginning.

Vipassana is not a retreat for the weak in mind.

Meditation started at 4:30am on the dot each every morning. This is not the type of meditation where you’re able to lay down and comfortably meditate in the time frame of your choice. In Vipassanna, you will be assigned to a mat in a meditation hall, set hours, with instructors sitting in front of you making sure you’re doing what you are supposed to do. To best describe it: hard core meditation boot camp



The retreat is strictly organized because they understand the tendency of the mind to wander, desire to lay down and do exactly what it pleases. The instructors are there to help you incorporate a new practice, become disciplined and be active accountability.

Meditation is not something that is learned overnight, nor in just 10 hours a day for 10 days straight.

However, from the first day I started, compared to the last, it was a complete night and day difference in my focus and ability to sit for hours with little movement and focused concentration.

In the first five days all I could do was move, open my eyes and think about 5000 other things and places that I would rather do and be besides in that hot meditation room sitting on top of my uncomfortable blue pillow. However, like all things in life, mediation requires time, dedication and going through the feelings of being uncomfortable. With time and dedication to the practice, anyone can enjoy the benefits that meditation offers.

All it takes is a starting with a 2-5 minute meditation each day, totally concentrated and once you have that down, you can gradually increase your time. It’s as simple as that.

“Meditation connects you with your soul, and this connection gives you access to your intuition, your heartfelt desires, your integrity, and the inspiration to create a life you love.” – Sarah McLean

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Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comIndia: Meditation Boot Camp: The Start of My Meditation Practice
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My First TEDx Talk: How to Become a Speaker




TED (technology, entertainment and design), is a non profit organization that started in 1984, which is dedicated to spreading ideas in 18 minutes or less. While it’s much more challenging to get an invitation to be a TED speaker, there is the opportunity for you to share your idea by giving a TEDx talk.

TEDx are independently-organized, TED-like conferences that are located throughout the whole world. If you are wanting to get your new idea out, this is a great starting place for someone who wants to reach a large audience of people. TEDx has the same idea as the TED on sharing ideas, but this allows independent organizers the opportunity to plan and organize an event in their own community.

Note: if you want to plan your own TEDx event, you must go through an extensive application process and they do not accept all requests. 


I will never forget the first moment I watched my first TEDx talk years back. I spent that whole evening watching talk after talk and it’s as if a light switch went off in my head for the first time and I said to myself,

“Now THAT is what I want to do!”

From that cold winter day in Arkansas, I was hooked. Watching these videos became the moment of the day that I was most excited about, and thanks to many of these talks, I have learned many amazing new ideas that I have implemented into my everyday life.

However, I was not just content watching good ideas. I had an eagerness and passion to share my own ideas, so I went off on my own personal search to see how I could make dream become a reality.


The Process


There are many different ways to go about finding an opportunity to become a TEDx speaker, but I am only going to speak from my own personal experience and explain exactly what I did to get myself on the TEDx stage in November 2016.

In the process, the first thing I want to point out is: TALK IS CHEAP…

It’s one thing to do what I did for months and say “I would love to give a TEDx talk one day…” I would mention this desire on multiple occasions, but without a clear action plan, they were just empty words and wishes.




If you desire to be a TEDx speaker or any kind of public speaker for that matter, the most important thing is to before anything is:


1.  Identify your Area and General Message

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What makes you different from other speakers?
  • What experience do you have that can set you apart?
  • What is the main message that you want send out into the world?
  • If you could sum your mission statement up into one sentence, what would it be?


IMPORTANT: TED is about ideas, not individuals. Anyone who appears to use the platform for self-promotion will be denied. 


You can’t possible start contacting others about your interesting TEDx idea if you have not decided on what it is, so do a little brainstorming and get your ideas a bit more organized before contacting others. The more organized you appear when making your first call or email, the more likely your chance for success.

When I first did my brainstorming, I identified my mission statement: Spreading a message of friendship and connection between cultures and countries through travel and to inspire others to face fears and live the life they have always imagined.  

It’s not a magical formula where you figure out your mission statement and all the sudden your TEDx idea becomes clear as day. No, however having a clear mission statement and focus can help guide and direct you.

2. Why You?


If you are wanting to give a mind-blowing TEDx talk, keep in mind that you won’t be alone. That is not to discourage you, but rather to press upon you the importance doing everything in your power to sell your idea.

Depending on where you plan to apply for the TEDx event, there will be more requests and referrals than spots available to speak. With that in mind, you need to do all you can to show WHY the organizer should choose you out of all of the other people.

Creating a website showing your personal portfolio is a great place to start.


This website could include, but is not limited to:


  • Past video presentations: If you lack a professional video, I highly suggest showing a video of some type, even if it’s just you recording yourself talking about an interesting talk.
  • Blog entries: Give the organizer an idea of your personal thoughts on topics that you are passionate about via articles.
  • Links to social media: This is a powerful tool to give the organizer a feel for who you are.
  • Resume: Include your experience and past experience speaking if you have some.
  • Photos

There are people that skip this process and still get the opportunity to give a TEDx talk, however if you are not being referred, the event is large, or the organizer does not personally know you, then you will drastically reduce your probability without some sort of content to show.

Remember, in large events there may be hundreds, or even thousands that want to speak as well. It will take time to do this step, but I highly suggest not skipping it. If you plan on public speaking aside from the TEDx talk in the future, its most likely that the next event will also want this as well.


3. Get Busy


As I mentioned before, words are cheap. You can have the best idea in the world, with an incredible website, but if you don’t take action, then you have missed the most important step.

After you have all your ideas and information together, it’s time to send emails and connect. If you plan on applying in your community, start by asking mutual friends if they have any personal contacts to connect you, but if not, it’s okay as well.


Visit the website: and you find exactly what you need to get started.


You can explore the TEDx events by location, name or type and the specific time of year you want. Once you find an event that you think is interesting, click on it and it will take you to the event details. From there you can decide if that event is in line with your idea, and if its not, then simply move onto another one.

Each TEDx conference will have a different theme, so make sure to not waste your time, nor the organizers, with an email on your idea to an event that has absolutely nothing to do with the theme of the conference.



After the event information, you will be able to find the information of the organizer. Many will have links to their contact information, however it many cases there is none available. If it’s an event you are really interested in, don’t give up just because you don’t see the email. There is ALWAYS a way.

You can call this stalky behavior, I put each organizer in Facebook or LinkedIn and sent them a private message from there. I simply mentioned that I got their name off the TED website and I wanted to introduce myself and connect with an idea that I think would be excellent for their TEDx conference.



I sent out multiple Facebook messages with many replies. Some of the organizers did not need speakers at the time, but the best part of getting a reply is the fact that even if they don´t need a speaker for the current year, there is always the option for the future. Having direct communication with the organizer can enhance your chances for the following year, or as a referral to another event.

When you are finally in contact with the organizer, he will she will be able to look over your information and see if you might be a good fit. From there is when you might set up a phone or Skype call and talk more about the specifics of your idea.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have success at first. There are thousands of TEDx events all around the world that might be better for you, so stay focused. Giving my first TEDx talk was such an amazing overall experience that I hope to have again in the future.


Don’t forget to also check out: 





  • Have you ever given a TEDx talk? If so, what advice do you have for others?

  • Share your stories and questions below!




Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comMy First TEDx Talk: How to Become a Speaker
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7 Fears to Confront as a Solo Female Traveler


As I solo travel around the world, the most common question I get from others is the typical, “How in the world can you travel alone to all of these places? Don’t you get lonely? Before traveling alone, this was a fear that I had. Given that I had never traveled alone in my life, I had no idea the best ways to meet other travellers. I figured that I would just have to figure things out as I go and deal with the fact that I may have to spend lots of quality time alone. However, after my first solo trip, I realized how WRONG I was.

Traveling alone does not mean you will actually be alone. If you decide to travel alone, you WILL meet people.


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Photo: Vienna, Austria


The unknown can be a very scary place, trust me! It is possible to gain a lot of knowledge about the places you travel to before hand, but the rest you will just have to take a leap of faith into the unknown. It’s much easier said than done, when you take a risk, you will often find that the unknown paths lead to some of the most exciting journeys.

Read more: Take a risk: live a life of courage 


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Photo: Iceland



With recurring news about war and all of the horrible things happening, it’s understandable why most people don’t have the courage to travel, much less alone. Safety was the biggest concern that my family and friends had for me when I started traveling. After traveling long term, I learned that reality is a lot different than what is in the media and there are actually more people that are willing to help you than hurt you.

When traveling it’s important to do your homework before going in order to know about the place you will be traveling to and the acceptable behavior in order to be more prepared for any situation that might come your way.


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While on the road, some days are better than others. There will be days when you are surrounded by other travellers, exploring different places and having an experience of a lifetime. However, the next day you may find yourself down in the dumps, lonely, afraid and completely wanting to go home.

These feelings come and it’s part of the experience. The best part is that a Skype or a phone call is just a click away and sometimes all it takes is just a short phone call to our loved ones to get us back in perspective and ready for more adventures.


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Photo: Arkansas (USA)


Getting lost

For some people there is nothing more scary than being lost in foreign land and with no one by your side to help direct you to the right place. This is a fear that many people have when traveling and it’s a fear that I have learned that is more exaggerated in the mind before traveling the the reality.

It’s easy to let our mind escape and to think of the worst possible scenarios of what could happen in solo traveling, like getting lost and stranded, but I can guarantee you that the horror story that you create in your mind is way worse than the reality of actually getting lost in your travels.

I have been lost MANY times throughout my years of travel. In fact, I have had to walk hours and hours in the dark, pouring down rain and no clue of where to go, but in the end everything works out and I find my way. If you try to look at every experience as an adventure, even getting lost and working to find your way back home can be an adventure.


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Photo: Estonia



Opinions of family and friends

How many opportunities do we lose in life because we are too afraid of what others will think of our decisions? Its not the most popular decision to pack up everything you have or quit your job and start traveling or to travel alone to different countries. Be prepared for others to tell you all of the reasons why you should NOT leave and all the dangers in the world.

Some might give you their honest opinions because they truly care and don’t want you to leave cause they will miss you and others say things out of pure jealousy.

In life it’s important to take into consideration what others say, but that does not mean you have to listen to each and everything you hear. Sometimes in life we will have dreams and goals that won’t make since to the ones around us, not even our closest friends and family, no matter how hard we try to explain it. In these moments is when we need to stand strong and do what we believe in our heart is the right thing to do for our life.


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Unwanted Attention

This is a common fear for many girls as they travel alone. Traveling to countries, especially Asian or African, its normal for western people to stick out, especially attractive females. While this is impossible to avoid, there are many actions you can reduce the attention drawn to you and keep you safe.

The best and most obvious way is by choosing wisely the clothes you wear. If you dress provocatively its more likely people will want your attention. A part from the clothes is the attitude. If you make close eye contact, flirt or have non verbal actions that are too friendly, this can cause others to get the wrong idea.

Keep your distance if you are not truly interested and if you still feel worried, stay in public areas and you should not have any problem.


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Photo: Brunei



Don’t forget to also check out: 





  • What kind of fears do you have about traveling alone?

  • Would you ever travel alone?

  • Share your thoughts and stories below!


Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.com7 Fears to Confront as a Solo Female Traveler
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Detained by Immigration Officers

I was as giddy as a school girl as I departed from Zaragoza, Spain to London to catch another connecting flight to Iceland. I scored a cheap ticket from the Bristol airport directly to Reykjavik, Iceland in the summer months, which is not easy, and I was off to see one of my dream destinations.

I imaged what Iceland might actually be like in person compared to the photos that I had seen in travel magazines and each moment that build up to my arrival the excitement and wonder grew.

I had always heard horror stories of people having troubles in the Stansted airport in London, but given that I was only passing through to my connecting flight, I was not too concerned about problems.

As I was waiting in the line at customs I confirmed my reservation for the rental car in the airport. I am not sure if I was more excited about visiting Iceland or about the chance to drive on the left side of the road in a manual vehicle for the first time.

Cheerfully, I hopped up to the immigration officer and laid out all of my plans. He asked me some general questions and then some more detailed ones about previous living arrangement in Spain a couple years back.

I went in prepared knowing that they would ask me questions, but all the sudden his questions stopped and he wrote what seemed to be a novel.

Without any further questions or real investigation on my future travel plans he said “I need you to come with me.”

I always tend to see the positive side of things, so I tried to overlook the fact that he placed me in a holding area with immigrants from foreign countries that were actually detained because they were actually breaking the law. I couldn’t help but overhear the officer talk to the man next to me.  This guy was detained beside me for doing illegal things in the airport and was misbehaving, yelling and causing a scene.

I looked the the officer and said, “Can you please tell me why you have me placed in the same area as this kind of person? I would like to know what I have done. All I want to do is see some beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, not cause trouble like that guy.”

My wait of a  “couple” of minutes turned into 1.5 hours.  I started to get restless because no one would tell me what was going on. I paced back and forth until finally I spotted my officer from across the airport coming my way.

I jumped up with my big smile, just waiting for him to give me the okay continue on my way. 

Instead, he told me to follow him to baggage area to collect my bag so that I could quickly go answer some more questions before being released.

As soon as I was taken to the back, my bags and cell phone were confiscated and I was put in a cold empty room. I waited for another hour before someone came into check on me.

I continued asking what the problem was, but no one could give me a clear answer.

At that point I had a feeling that something was not right, especially if they could not even let me go to the bathroom without supervision. They also mentioned that they need to pat me down and body check me so that I don’t get any ideas and try to hurt myself.

After my supervised trip to the bathroom, they took me to another room to take my mug shots and finger prints. They then handed me a paper that told that I would be locked up for further questioning.

I was then released in a locked room, with old couches, a few other people from different countries that were being detained for different reasons and two guards.  I got one free personal call in order to inform someone of the situation, and from there everything was beyond my control.

I tried to see the positive, so one thing I was thankful for was that this whole experience started at 2000. This still allowed me time for delays, and more than enough time to pick up my car rental up and drive two hours to the Bristol airport for my 0600 flight.

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Wishful thinking.

2200:  I was taken to the locked room with the couches- status: optimistic

2300: I was told it should not be too much longer and that surely I will make it time to pick up the car.

0000: I was told to be patient and that if I get released in the next thirty minutes I can still make it.

0100: I missed the rental car pick up. Still no word of the immigration officer.

At this point about every 5 minutes I continued asking the guard about the status of my detainment, but he continued to apologize and tell me there is nothing he could do.  

0200: Still waiting……

0230: New shift officer arrived for my “further questioning”

When the officer came in he looked straight at me and said “Umm, I can’t figure out why you are still here.” He then signaled the guard to give me my bags and let me leave without a single question asked.

In that moment I was not sure to be thankful or enraged at the fact that I waited all night and missed my rental car pickup that I had already paid for.

I left there with my mug shots as a souvenir, but without any answers or a way to get two hours away to the Bristol airport to catch my flight.

The officer apologized and told me not to worry that there would be a bus, train or another rental car company open to assist me.

It was about 0315 at that time and I ran as fast as I could to information center in the airport get help and find the best way to the Bristol airport.

They quickly informed me that there was absolutely no form of transportation that opens until 0700 and even if I went in a taxi I would not make it in time for my flight. I sat in the floor of the airport disappointed, looking at possible options for my travel to Iceland.

I assumed that maybe, just maybe, the immigration officer may help me since they held me for no given cause, but when I called him directly to tell him that he misinformed me about being able to catch my connecting flight he had no response except for, “we can’t help you because we are a separate unit from the airport.”

Long story short, I missed my flight and rental car pick up to Bristol. The only flight that was going out that same day was from Luton Airport, about one hour away and only in the morning.

The only way to get there at that time in the morning was a 180 dollar taxi.

I bought the new flight, took the taxi and thought my strand of bad luck was over, but it wasn’t. My luggage was a bit over the limit and the easy jet charged me 80 USD to check it……what a rip off!!!!

In our travels not everything goes how we want it. As I flew into Iceland I was exhausted after being awake for over 30+ hours, but I had decide if I was going to focus on all the bad things that just happened or if I would focus on all of my blessings, let it go, expect the best and enjoy the next part of my trip.

We don’t always have control over all the things that happen to us, but what we can control is our attitude towards the situations.

Thanks to that change in my attitude, I was able to see the positive in the situation and see the positive and enjoy the beautiful views of Iceland.

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In life, you won’t be able to control every situation that comes your way, but what you CAN control is how you choose to deal with it and if you give your situation permission to ruin your attitude and the day ahead of you.


Don’t forget to also read: 




  • What will you choose in the face of obstacles?

  • Share below!

Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comDetained by Immigration Officers
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Top Experiences You MUST Have In Spain

Whether its quietly hiking through the Pyrenees Mountains in the northern part of Spain, cheering on a soccer match at the largest stadium in all of Europe,  or running in front of a angry herd of bulls, Spain has a variety to suit anyone’s needs.

I have not only had the amazing of opportunity of attending some of the most famous festivals in the world located in Spain, but I have truly had the opportunity to dive into the Spanish culture and experience a multitude of experiences!

If you have the opportunity to visit Spain, start planning your vacation around some of the biggest events that take place in Spain each year, because I promise you it will be worth the experience!

1. Camp Nou

With a capacity of 99,354, it is now the biggest stadium in Europe and an exciting place to see all your favorite soccer matches.

When: Late August- May

Where: Barcelona, Spain 


2. Running of the Bulls 

Each year thousand of people gather together for the Running of the Bulls Festival. Are you daring enough to run?

Check out my experience: click here

When: Around the July 6-14th each year

Where: Pamplona, Spain


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3. La Tomatina

Join thousands of people in the largest tomato fight in the world.

When: Last Wednesday of August each year

Where: Buñol, Spain


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4. Las Fallas 

Unleash your inner pyro in the streets of Spain at Valencia’s Las Fallas. Now this is an adventure! 

When: Mid March

Where: Valencia, Spain


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5. Camino de Santiago

Love nature? There is no better way to enjoy the nature than a hike on one of the trails in Europe. this

When: Any time of year (winter months are not recommended)

Where: There are many trails. I did the French Way from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Finisterre, Spain


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6. Feria de Abril

The Feria de Abril in Seville is one of the most popular celebrations in Spain where you can enjoy sevillanas, bullfights, flamenco music & dancers. It truly is a fun week of dancing, drinking, eating and socializing with friends.

When: The fair generally begins two weeks after Easter.

Where: Sevilla, Spain

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7. Pyrenees Mountains

Take in some amazing views of the Pyrenees Mountains located between Spain and France.

When: Anytime of year. If you love to snowboard, this is your ideal location for the winter months.

Where: Northern Spain


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8. Bullfight

There are controversies everywhere, but whether you agree with it or despise it – bullfighting exists in Spain and is an important part of their history and culture.

When: Bullfighting season is typically between April to September or October

Where: Many different regions in Spain


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9. Music Festival

Top music festivals:

  • Festival Internacional de Benicàssim
  • Arenal Sound
  • Azkena Rock, Vida
  • Primavera Sound
  • DGTL Barcelona
  • Bilbao BBK Live
  • I am Global Festival
  • Sónar

When: Different moments throughout the year.

Where: Locations throughout Spain


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Don’t forget to also read:

How Financial Freedom Has Changed my Life

Fly 10,000 Miles Across The World Under $10

Staying Fit While on the Road

What kind of adventures have you had in Spain?

What is on your Spanish bucket list?

Share your stories and ideas below!



Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comTop Experiences You MUST Have In Spain
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Night in a Cave in Cappadocia, Turkey

The region of Cappadocia in Turkey is a place where you can let your spirit of adventure free. It’s name was derived from Katpatuka, land of the beautiful horses, in Hittite language. The main town, Goreme, is located in the heart of Cappadocia and is the perfect location for access to the main attractions and accommodation.

People from all over the world go to this area to find a unique kind of travel experience. A few of its main attractions include the Goreme Open Air Museum, underground city, a ride in a hot air balloon in the hot air balloon capital of the world and of course, a nice stay in a cave hotel.

During my stay in Cappadocia I stayed with Ottoman Cave Suites (about 1 km from the Open Air Museum) and my experience was I will never forget. One of the best things about staying here is the fact that they are a family owned hotel.

They went above and beyond to make sure that my stay was perfect and went above and beyond and even helped me plan the activities I wanted to do in Cappadocia.

With the help of the owner, he booked me a full day tour to see different parts of Cappadocia and ending in the underground city (a MUST see).

I was greeted at the hotel with tea and a tour of the whole facility. Each of the rooms are all individually decorated to capture the Ottoman-style ambience throughout the hotel. I loved the fact that this was not a chain hotel and for that reason you can see the charm in each and everyone of the rooms.

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You can choose from either a splendid classic double en-suite room or our stylish cave rooms with super sized bathrooms. Just ask them or get on their website and you can see that they have many different options that are suitable for people of all different kinds of budgets.

The hotel has a total of 13 rooms, 8 caves and 4 standard stone rooms. There are 5 cave suites, some of which have a beautiful view of Uçhisar castle and 1 standard stone suite on the top floor with magnificent views on both sides.

One of my favorite parts about staying here was the amazing traditional Turkish breakfast that they offered from 7:30 to 10 am (price included).

They have everything from:

  • Local bread
  • Variety of local cheese
  • Eggs (boiled, scrambled or omelet)
  • Yogurt
  • Juice, milk, coffee, tea
  • Different home made jams and honey
  • Organic fruit and veggies (all from the area)

If you are looking for a local experience, you can check out some of the local restaurants within walking distance, or just a 3 minute walk is the local Hammam (Turkish public bath), and after a long day of exploring the city, that was one of the highlights of my stay.

If you are looking for a place that is classy, clean, centrally located and with a staff that goes above and beyond to give you a unique experience, then look no further than Ottoman Cave Suites. This will be my place of accommodation for my future travels to Cappadocia and my recommendation for anyone traveling to that area.


Contact Details

  • Address: Avcilar Mahallesi Okul Sokak No: 6 50180 Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
  • Email:
  • Phone: +90 384 271 3090
  • Fax: +90 384 271 3092


If you are visiting Cappadocia, don’t forget to also check out: 

  • Hot Air Ballooning Cappadocia, Turkey


Where is the most interesting place you have slept in your travels?

Share your experiences below!



Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comNight in a Cave in Cappadocia, Turkey
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Vipassana 10 Day Silent Meditation Retreat Frequent Q & A

What exactly is a Vipassana meditation retreat?

Vipassana meditation is one of the oldest types of meditation in India, going back to more than 2500 years ago, that has spread throughout the entire world.

The true meaning of the word Vipassana is to see things as they really are.

Awareness and equanimity are the heart and soul of this meditation. In the same way a bird needs both wings to fly, one needs the balance of these two in order to get the lasting results of this meditation technique.

How long is the retreat and what are the main rules?

The retreat lasts 11 nights/10 days. The main rule of being in vipasanna is noble silence. This does not simply mean not talking, it also includes avoiding eye contact, sign language or any forms of communication.

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At the beginning of the retreat you will need to deposit (in a safe location) all cell phones, computers, phones, electronics, reading/writing material and food products (unless you have a health reasons).

During this time you must refrain from any drug use (alcohol is a drug), cigarettes and refrain from any sexual activity (masturbation included).

Clothing must be modest and no shorts are required. Loose and non transparent clothing are required. Footwear is prohibited in the mediation or dining halls.

Exercise must avoided during the week. You can walk briskly or stretch, but other things are discouraged during the length of the course. On my breaks I did squats, but that was the extent of my exercise.

Laundry is only allowed to be done during break times. You may choose to hand wash your clothes or laundry services are offered at different times of the week.

Mosquitoes can become quite a problem, however killing of anything thing that is living is against the code of conduct. I learned that the hard way as I killed multiple mosquitos before I was called to the side and warned.

You must clean up after yourself and quietly wash own dishes after every given meal.

If you are unable to follow these rules, you are asked to leave. Also, if you feel the retreat becomes to difficult, you may leave at anytime after first informing the teachers.


How much does the 10 day retreat cost?

The Vipasanna course is free of cost. However, If you complete the full 10 days, you will have the option to donate money or time. They only accept volunteers who have already completed a 10 day course and by choosing to do the same, you will get the chance to bless others by serving them throughout the day.

Keep in mind, the price is free, but this is not a vacation and a place to relax.

You have to follow a very strict schedule and you will find that it is much harder than you think. However, self growth is almost always difficult and painful at times, but in the long run so useful.


What is the schedule for the day?

Here you can see a full schedule of our day. As you can see, it’s not a day full of free time and relaxation. In our retreat they followed the schedule to the second reinforced the rules strictly.

[cml_media_alt id='6465']SAMSUNG CSC[/cml_media_alt]Wake up call is at 0400 and morning mediation starts IN the meditation hall at 0430, so make sure to arrive at least 5-10 minutes early.

You get a break for lunch, for evening snack and for the discourse in the evening, but other than that expect to be mediating in hall in all other moments.

The last meditation ends at 2100 and lights out at 2130.


What can I expect during meditation time?

On day one you will be given an assigned a pillow in the floor that you will sit in during all medications. Along with the cushion you sit on, you will be given an extra small cushion for padding.

During the times of meditation there is no lying down, sitting against the wall or opening your eyes.

There will be two teacher and two assistants in the front of the mediation hall monitoring what is going on. Any time I opened my eyes I was automatically signaled to close my eyes again, which at times was quite difficult at times.

You will begin and end meditation listening to a short audio tape recording, intended to help guide you in your practice, but it’s normally less than 10 minutes.

One of the biggest rules is no stretching your legs out towards the teachers. Get used to that rule, because considered very disrespectful in many Asian countries.

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During group meditation there is no leaving the hall for any reason, however during regular times you can leave for a 5-10 minute stretch break.

In the case you have serious back problems, you may be offered some sort of special seating in the mediation hall.


What are the meal times like?

Obviously the biggest rule of meal times is noble silence. You will start breakfast at 0630 and you will be offered some sort of food high in carbohydrates (often rice based). In addition you will get hot tea and milk with added sugar if you like.

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Lunch time begins at 11am and again, something high in carbohydrates will be offered, as well as a soup and some sort of veggie. You may or not be offered cold pink, but water is always available.

The last meal is at 1200 in the afternoon. You will be offered a light snack, fruit, hot tea and milk in the evening at 1700, but after there is nothing offered until 0630 the next morning.

You may go back and ask for seconds, but the general rule is that you want to keep at least 1/4 of your stomach empty, because it helps you to meditate better.

Filtered water is available without restrictions on intake.


What if I have problems or need I want to discuss during the week.

If you have problems concerning anything, you may privately talk to a teacher and discuss it with her during set times. If you need something during the retreat (soap, feminine products, shampoo, etc) you may write it down and put it in the box offered on day 1.

The volunteers will try their best to get you what you need and you can pay for those items at the end of the week.


Do I have to follow a certain religion to attend?

No, Vipassana is a universal form of meditation. It has its base in the teaching of Buddha, but that does NOT mean you must be Buddhist to attend. There were people of all different religions attending.

If you have religious rituals or personal meditation techniques, you are asked to refrain from all of them during the course and focus on only learning the teachings of Vipassana.

No chanting, singing or funky breathing techniques allowed.


How can I sign up? Can I do it with my husband or wife?

Vipassana is offered in thousands of locations throughout the world. Check out the website to find a retreat location that is best for you.

Keep in mind that you must apply in advance and by doing will not guarantee you a spot. These retreats fill up fast, so make sure to look ahead of time.

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You may do this with your partner, however you must follow the same rules as everyone else. You will have to refrain from seeing each other during the length of the course.

Women and men are completely separated at all times until the last day.


Don’t forget to also check out: 


  • Would you ever attend a 10 day silent retreat?

  • What would be your biggest struggle in doing so?

  • Share your stories and thoughts below!

Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comVipassana 10 Day Silent Meditation Retreat Frequent Q & A
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Oldest Restaurant in the World: El Botín in Madrid, Spain

El Botín was founded in 1725 and is officially the oldest restaurant in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records

People from all over the world travel to Madrid to dine there, including some of the most well known movie stars, writers and members of the royalty family.

In the eighteenth century the guilds were organized by neighbourhoods and in each street they grouped all the businesses that sold different products: butchers, fruteros, vintners, craftsmen, etc.

There was a law that did not allow those who were part of the guild to sell products in respect to the other businesses. With that in mind, when the first restaurants appeared, the customers brought the food to the restaurant and the people working prepared and served the food,  but did not supply it.

The food at this restaurant is very traditional. We ordered asparagus, mushrooms and a delicious sirloin. The dishes were not elaborate, like many of the many of the high quality restaurants, but the quality and preparation of the food made the experience unforgettable.

The asparagus with homemade mayonnaise sauce is the best I’ve ever eaten (I don’t even like mayonnaise) and the dessert was rich, sweet and the perfect end to the dinner.

Apart from enjoying the food, it was interesting to sit and observe all the different kinds of people that were dining and listen to them speak all kinds of different languages.  With the variety of people from around the world, it is clear that many people who visit Madrid want to live the experience of visiting the oldest restaurant in the world.


Don’t forget to also check out: 







  • Have you ever eaten at El Botín?

  • How was your experience?

  • What other famous restaurants to you recommend?  


Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comOldest Restaurant in the World: El Botín in Madrid, Spain
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My First Tear Gas Experience: Radiohead Fans Attacked

After Turkey Radiohead Attack, Police Tear Gas Protesters


Turkish police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of demonstrators protesting an attack the previous night targeting an event for Radiohead fans.

Skirmishes between police and demonstrators broke out Saturday near a record store that hosted the Radiohead event Friday night that ended in violence.

On Friday, a mob of men carrying sticks and bottles attacked Radiohead fans who had gathered at the Velvet Indieground store to listen to Radiohead’s new album, A Moon Shaped Pool, according to Turkish media reports.

Rayka Simoni told the private Dogan news agency that people were drinking beer and chatting when about 20 men began to throw glass bottles at them.

Video posted online allegedly showing the attack suggested the assailants were angered by participants drinking alcohol during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Radiohead issued a statement offering their “love and support” to Istanbul fans.

“We hope that someday we will be able to look back on such acts of violent intolerance as things of the ancient past,” the band added.

The record shop was locked Saturday morning and posters advertising the streaming event were ripped off nearby walls.

Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comMy First Tear Gas Experience: Radiohead Fans Attacked
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Travel Overland: Megabus Style

Want to travel across the USA, Canada or even parts of Europe without dealing with the hassle and high prices of flying?

If so, Megabus might just be the option you are looking for. Megabus is a company that offers cheap bus fairs in over 100 different cities in North America and Europe. When I say cheap, I really do mean cheap! If you plan ahead or look on the right day, you can find bus tickets over 10+ hours for only $1.00 with no hidden fees!

Megabuses are big blue decker coach busses, that are in my personal opinion the most comfortable busses I have ever been in. Each bus has power outlets, reclining seats wifi and bathrooms.

The process is easy; all you have to do is go online, buy a ticket, show it on your phone when that time comes and that’s it. You can pay a little extra to pick a seat or you can do the free choice, which is what I did, and show up early and get a good seat. If something happens and you all the sudden need to change your ticket, it’s only one dollar.

I decided to go on a big adventure and go over 27 hours in a Megabus. I had to go a bit of of my way, given that there are not stops in every big city, but I left Little Rock, Arkansas-Memphis, Tennessee-Atlanta, Georgia- Washington DC-Baltimore, Maryland- New York City- New Haven CT.

When I looked a couple of months ago for the rates, I found the whole trip under $20, however I waited and I ended up paying:

  • Little Rock- Memphis =$10
  • Memphis to Atlanta $34
  • Atlanta to Washington $73.
  • Baltimore, Maryland- New York City= $20
  • New York City-New Haven, CT = $15


Grand Total= $152 

If you look Ahead it is possible to find these prices for less than 5 dollars, shop around and don’t wait!

Through my own personal experience I can tell you that some of the bus stops can be a bit rough (Little Rock or Memphis). Depending on the time of the year it’s important to dress according because of the fact that there are not actual Megabus stations to sit inside (at least not to my knowledge). The bus on the over night trip was a bit cold and during the middle part of the day it was pretty warm, so just keep temperature changes in mind.

I strongly recommend if you’re not reserving special seats to arrive early, or you may get put in a seat that you don’t like, next to someone you don’t want to be next to. The busses tend to fill up, so go early. Also, you are allowed one carry on item and one checked bag. Sometimes they don’t care the size of your checked one, but on my last bus the woman did weigh some bags, and in the case your bag is too big, you will have to pay extra.

My experience was fantastic and I will continue to use Megabus. I will stress again the importance of arriving early to pick your seat, brining ear plugs, chargers, sleeping mask and some snacks. Keep an open mind and it can be a great experience!

Don’t forget to also read: 

Fly 10,000 Miles Across The World Under $10

How Financial Freedom Has Changed my Life

Staying Fit While on the Road

Have you ever taken a cross country bus trip? 

How was your experience? 

Share below! 



Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comTravel Overland: Megabus Style
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Staying Fit While on the Road

Have you noticed that when guys travel long term, they tend to lose the weight, while the girls seem to find it?

After asking hundreds of travelers while on the road about the topic of staying fit while traveling, almost 90% of the girls complain that they go home with at least five or more extra pounds.

For many people, traveling is about taking it easy, relaxing, and giving into your desires for desserts, alcohol and carbohydrates. Isn’t that what vacation is about anyways?

On the other hand, there are those who travel to make it a lifestyle. They desire to travel the world and connect with new cultures, while maintaining the healthy habits from their normal life back home.

It’s incredible to believe that so many people gain weight while on the road, given that fact that travelers usually tend to be in constant action. However, with that constant action comes a few things: new and exotic food, long hours in transportation between countries and constant change in environment that can lead to lost sleep and exhaustion.

After traveling alone to over 40 countries, I not only strived to make healthy decisions, but I ended up forming habits even better than I did in my life back in the USA. Staying healthy on the road is not easy at first, but the more you practice to make traveling a lifestyle, the more it will become second nature to you.

Sure, you won’t have the comfort of your nice gym close by, but there are many different exercises you can do on the road to stay healthy, without the use of a fitness center.


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                                                                                               Workout in the forest in Estonia 


  • 53 percent say they often exercise while they’re on the road, with walking being the most popular physical activity.


YouTube videos

  • In addition to walking/running, I tried to incorporate videos in my daily routine. I like to put on a short video and do between 15-30 minutes in the floor. This allows me to learn new exercises and stay motivated each day.


Self made workout 

  • If I was not doing a Youtube video, this was my next best thing. I created 15-30 minute exercises that I did anytime I could find a place to do it. I have done my “self workouts” on the floor of cruise ships, with numerous people stopping to stare, in parks, home, and even in front of libraries. There is no excuse to not make time for working out on the road.


  • My self workouts consisted of:
    • Lunges/squats
    • Pushups
    • Planks
    • Burpees
    • Wall sits
    • Crunches
    • Weights with milk jugs or things around the house



  • If you are traveling in the summer, search the internet for the local city pools or lakes. Swimming is a great full body workout that you can do quite easily while traveling in the summer and on top of it, you get a good tan.


Gym guest passes

  • If you are traveling and only staying in cities for a few days, many gyms will allow you to enter on a guest pass. I have known some places that will give 1 week guest passes. Call or stop by and see what they offer.


Hotel gyms 

  • This is a given if you are staying in a hotel. In many nice hotels this amenity is included in the price, however some require you to pay a small additional fee.


Don’t forget to also read: 



  • How do you you stay fit while on the road?

  • Did you gain or lose weight while traveling?

  • What advice do you have for other travelers?

  • Share below! 


Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comStaying Fit While on the Road
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Fly 10,000 Miles Across The World Under $10

Living in Europe for the last three years has given me the opportunity to explore some many places that I have always imagined visiting. One of my favorite parts of living in Europe is having the opportunity to just pick up and hop on any airplane and fly to a cool new place at least 1-2 times a month.

When people started following my journey and seeing all the traveling and flying I was doing I always got the same typical response:

– Are you rich or are you just in debt up to your eyeballs?! How in the world do you afford to travel so much?!

Traveling in Europe is not like traveling in the USA. I fly many 6 hour round trip flights and do it all just under 40 USD on most occasions.

Seems impossible, but thanks to airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet, I can fly to hundreds of locations within a very reasonable cost.

Since being back in the USA to visit, the reality of airlines prices has hit hard. Even with the gas prices lower than normal, the prices of airlines seem to stay high and our US budget airlines like “Allegiant” can’t stand a chance to what is offered in Europe.

So, if I told you that I know a way of getting over 10,000 miles across the globe on for less than $10 you would be dying to know right?

Impossible? No, it is possible…because I JUST did it.

If you have followed me for awhile, you know that I am debt free and do not believe in going in debt for my travels around the world.

I don’t use credit cards when I travel, I do not buy anything that I don’t have the money for and I work hard for every penny I make. If I don’t have the money saved I don’t travel, end of story.

With that being said, I did some research and decided to try a sky mile rewards card, but ONLY charging it for my international flight and ONLY buying the ticket if I could turn around and pay it off the next day.

Last year I made a round trip flight from Europe to the USA and I used the United Airlines Mileage Plus card for the first time.

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Before my trip with my new Eagle Creek light weight bag

As a sign up bonus, you earn 30,000 points and you get all the following benefits:

After buying my last round trip ticket from Europe on this card, I received 2 miles for every 1 dollar spent on my ticket, leaving me with around 39,000 skymiles points.

When buying a ticket through United there are some days of the month that have special deals, which allows you to save when using your sky miles points.

When booking my one way flight to Europe this year I found one of these special days, which cost me 30,000 of my sky miles points and a 8 dollar fee. With my points and the small fee, I can fly all the way from Miami, Florida-Canada-Madrid.

What a deal!

Also, last year I learned another trick on saving money on flights. When you are flying and have no rush, pay special attention to “overbooking” on flights and run to the first opportunity to give your seat up to the person that might really need it, but is on the waiting list.

I flew out of Miami after my Caribbean cruise and I gave up my seat without even knowing the reward I would get.

When the plane pulled away, United Airlines bought my lunch, gave me a free flight, valid for one year, and put me on first class for my next flight. I couldn’t of been more excited!

When it was all said and done, I got 10,000 miles in the last 3 months and all under 10 dollars!

In my ventures around the world, I have learned many tricks along the way, but am always open to more tricks.

  • Do you have any tricks to share? 

  • Have you ever given up your seat for overbooking or used skymiles?

  • Share you experience below! 


Don’t forget to check out: 



adminFly 10,000 Miles Across The World Under $10
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My Physical Transformation: Welcome Back Life/Energy

I was a vegetarian before moving to Spain in 2013. I always paid special attention to my health, drank enough water, ate healthy and never missed a day of exercise.  However, without even realizing it, I let life get the best of me.

As much as I was enjoying living in the country I’ve always wanted to live in, six months in,  I found myself standing on the scale and thinking “What am I doing to myself?!”

From the day I arrived in Spain until that moment, I had gained over 20 pounds and I felt worse physically and mentally than I had ever felt in my entire life.

I had always talked and listened to people who struggled with their weight. Naively, I advised them to JUST DO IT, but I failed to understand. I never truly realized how psychologically addicting food was until I tried to change my ways.

Although I was never a soda drinker, I suddenly became addicted to carbohydrates, desserts and I had no idea how to monitor my serving sizes.

I felt out of control.

Over the next year and a half in Spain, I exercised, but continued to eat junk. I was discouraged and angry with the fact I was exercising, but not losing weight.  During that whole time I kept remembering the phrase that someone once told me “abdominals are made in the kitchen,” meaning if you want to see results, you MUST start focusing on your diet. However, I just could not seem to do that, no matter how hard I tried.

After one and a half years like that, I decided that it could not continue feeling that way physically. I needed to make a change.

Being in the worst shape of my life and without a day of training, I decided to take a leap of faith and walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, where I walked 31 days (around 950 km) across Spain. I had no idea how I was going to make it happen, but I knew one thing clearly:

I wanted my energy and health back.

From the day I started the Camino de Santiago until now, my life has changed in ways that are hard to express in words. The Camino de Santiago allowed me to dig deep in my heart and work on the areas that I needed to work on and to fight for my life and start making changes to a healthy life.


Since that day, until now, I have changed my life style, workout daily (crunches, running, etc …) eat clean, work to monitor my serving sizes and I have lost around 26 pounds. I feel better than I have ever felt in my life!!


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It was not easy to break the bad habits, but I realized the first step in making it happen is taking time to truly value yourself and your life bad enough that you are willing to fight, suffer or do whatever it takes in order to have that change.

You have to know you deserve it.



Don’t forget to read: 






Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comMy Physical Transformation: Welcome Back Life/Energy
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Ways to Save While on the Road: Accommodation

If you plan to travel long term, accommodation can get expensive if you don’t know the best places to look and the best tricks for saving. After having traveled to over 60 countries and using them all: Couchsurfing, Airbnb, hostels, house sitting, busses, train stations and locals, I can give you some of the best ideas of saving on accommodation for your next trip!

1. Couchsurfing

If you are traveling in a alone or with one other person, have an adventurous side and are looking for a cultural experience, then look no further than Couch surfing. After using couch surfing in over 60 countries, I can tell you from personal experience that this can be an unforgettable, rewarding experience. Make sure to choose your host wisely and take as many safety measures as you can, but don’t let fear talk you out of trying this.

Check out my profile to get an idea of what one looks like:

2. Airbnb

Airbnb still offers decent prices on renting private rooms, apartments, entire homes and villas,  while giving you more flexibility with your free time than Couch surfing. Airbnb has options in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.

3. Hostels 

If you are traveling alone, don’t feel like the hassle of dealing with another person like with Couch surfing or Aibnb, then hostels can be a great option. Not only are the prices fairly cheap, but you will have the opportunity to meet all kinds of other travels, while having the freedom to come and go as you please.

Below are some good places to look for a hostel, or you can simply just arrive to your destination and ask the locals for the most popular hostel.

4. Hotels

If you have a bit more flexibility in your budget, there are many great options for hotels. In fact, there are many countries that you can stay in luxury hotels for a reasonable, low price. There are normally always offers online, so take a look the different offers hotels have. One trick is if you see a hotel in the city that you are hoping to stay in, go ask the price, but leave and buy it online. You will be surprised money you will save.

5. House or pet sitting

If you are looking to house sit, first start with connecting with the people you know. Through friends or social media, its possible to find someone or someone that knows someone that is looking for this kind of service. If you have no connections, then start by using reliable sites to find a home. Many people simply let you stay in their homes if you agree to watch their cat. There are some great options out there.

6. Bed and Breakfasts

In a bed and breakfast, you often pay less than a hotel and still get the opportunity of meeting and connecting with other travelers. Its common to get a homemade breakfast, making your experience feel more like home.

7. Locals or friends 

If you have an amazing ability to connect with others, you can always meet a local family and ask to stay with them. In many countries I traveled to in Africa and eastern Europe, many local families randomly met me in the store and invited me to stay in their homes during my stay. Of course, be smart, but be open to new experiences.

8. Work exchange or work away

Cultural exchanges for those who would like the opportunity during their travels, to stay with local people and gain practical experience by giving around 4 hours per day per work in return for free accommodation and meals.


Working on a farm or doing some sort of out door work, while learning more about organic life styles, in return for free housing and meals.

10. Au Pair 

Like working with kids? This is a good opportunity to live abroad, get immersed in a new culture, make money on the side and get free food and housing.

Check out my experience:

11. Camping

If you are traveling during the warm months of the year and you love outdoors, then camping is a great option. Not only will you save money, but you will get the opportunity to have a unique experience outside of the busy, populated cities.

12. Overnight transportation

When traveling from one country to the next by bus or train, look for transportation with the overnight option. This will get you to your next destination, while saving money on accommodation for the night.

13. Rent a car or van

If you are traveling with other people, you can plan to rent a car or a van. This will serve you not just in transportation, but a place to sleep for the night. If you have other people to split the price with, this can be a great saving option.

14. Bus station or airports

If you have an early flight, bus or train, take advantage of that and stay at the airport or station. Most tend to be warm and fairly secure (depending on what you are going). This saves you money and takes away the possibility of missing your early morning. transportation

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15. House Swapping

This may be WAY outside of your comfort zone, but you may be surprised by the outcome. I have heard of many success stories of people that traded their home and car for a set period of time with another person in area of the world and it was a win-win situation.

16. Short Term Rentals

If you know you are wanting to stay in a certain area for a period of time, then short term rentals could save you money on accommodation. Sometimes different places will cut you a deal if you plan to stay a 2 weeks or even more at a time. The best thing to do is either look online or call and ask different places what kind of deals they offer.

17. Monastery stays

If your really adventurous and want an experience that most people don’t have, then try staying at a monastery. Don’t expect luxury in these kind of places. Most places will come with just a bed and desk, with simple meals prepared by monks or nuns. It depends on where you are going to determine the price range, but you can find anything from free/donations to $50 per night.

18. Silent Retreats

Need a break from chaos of the world? There are silents retreats offered through many parts of the world and they are free (of course you should donate). These retreats last 10 days and rumor has it that they are NOT easy. You must be completely disconnected from the outside world and NO talking.


Don’t forget to also read: 


  • What type of accommodation do you use when you travel?

  • Do you have any tips to save money on accommodation when you are traveling?

  • Share your thoughts and ideas below!


Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comWays to Save While on the Road: Accommodation
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