As I am updating this post I am starting my round-the-world travels: first stop, Colombia! I am meeting up with Kelli and Luisa, a couple of friends I met via the travel community, to adventure around Colombia for a week, then meeting my parents in Los Angeles for a few days before flying to Australia.
I have told you guys all about how I saved money to travel and planned my trip in my first two travel prep posts, and now I will be telling you about how I have gotten involved with the travel community. I am in love with the sharing economy and all around good spirit of like-minded travelers, and I am making as many connections as possible through social media
First of all, you may be wondering what “sharing economy” even means. According to dictionary.com, the definition of sharing economy is “a system in which people rent, borrow, or share commodities, services, and resources owned by individuals, usually with the aid of online technology, in an effort to save money, cut costs, and reduce waste.”
In the travel community that basically means travelers connect with locals to get great deals on accommodations, transportation, etc. It is a key piece to traveling on a budget. I am just starting to see how amazing the sharing economy is, and I can’t wait to get more into it and make more connections all over the world.
I talked previously about how I made money by renting out my place on AirBnb; I have also met some great people, and AirBnb is actually how I got connected with the friends I visited in Colombia! Kelli stayed at my apartment one weekend, and we got to talking about travel. A few weeks later she introduced me to Luisa and the other members of the NomadApp team and I started writing some guest posts for them.
My first time staying at an AirBnb was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida the night before flying to Bogotá and it was great. I got a room with a private entrance minutes from the airport at a great price. I have a few friends who have used AirBnb and love it, and we will be using it for several nights traveling around Colombia.
Email me for a link to get a $35 travel credit when you sign up and book a stay at $75 or more!
Couchsurfing (CS) is the epitome of “sharing economy.” When I first heard about it months ago it made me really nervous. I thought “what if someone steals all my stuff?!” Again, as with allowing strangers inside my home to sell my belongings and stay through AirBnb, I have decided to follow my gut and put faith in humanity. So far, the couple of interactions I have had thanks to CS have worked out well.
There aren’t a lot of people traveling through Lawrence, KS (where I have lived for the last few years), but there are often couch surfers visiting nearby Kansas City (KC). In April I reached out to a girl who is about my age who was planning on going to KC. According to her profile she had quit her job to do a two-month cross-country road trip. I let her know Lawrence is a super cool town and that I was getting ready to set out for solo traveling myself, and she ended up staying a night with me when she came through Kansas in early May!
We clicked right away and stayed up late eating pizza, drinking wine, and talking about travel. She is a talented graphic designer and she offered to design my logo. She gave me a great outside perspective, and it turned out better than I could have imagined! Check out her blog here!
In Las Vegas I met up with a local for a night out through Couchsurfing – he got us into a new club with a couple of drink tickets each for free. We met up with some of his friends and had a great time talking about traveling, where we had been, and where we were going. He is moving to Spain this fall, so it’s possible I will meet up with him again when I make my way there!
I was excited to couch surf in Austin, Texas recently, but I decided to stay at a hostel instead, which was amazing. I stayed at HK Austin – HK stands for Hostel Kid – which is co-owned by Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt. About half of the people staying there, including my bunk mate Izzy, were from Melbourne, Australia. This was amazing because Melbourne is my first stop in Australia! Izzy is back in Melbourne now and we’ll hopefully be meeting up when I am in town.
I also stayed at a hostel in Villa De Leyva, Colombia. We traveled there with some Austrian girls, met some pretty cool people there, and had a great time.
My favorite part of staying in hostels is meeting new people, mostly other travelers, from around the world. I have only stayed in a hostel twice and I have met people from six countries, all with different interesting stories. Hostels provide a social setting and make it easy to make friends on the road.
Social media is the easiest way to connect with other travelers, both locally and internationally. I have noticed that travelers are incredibly friendly, whether they have hundreds of thousands of followers or only a couple hundred, and most will respond to emails and direct messages if you send them your travel questions. I have chatted online and received advice and encouragement from people all over the world. I love talking with other travelers, reading travel tips, and seeing all the great travel photos people post from around the globe.
My favorite social media platform has been Instagram, but I am also starting to get into Snapchat. People all over the world are going on awesome adventures, and I love seeing their pictures and videos! I found out about the Amsterdam Coffee Festival, Vivid Sydney, and Songkran, the Thai New Year celebrations in Bangkok, which are now on my bucket list, via Instagram.
I connected on Facebook and Instagram with a part-time-travel junkie on who lives in my home town of Wichita, KS. She is a teacher and does quite a bit of traveling during summer break, and has a blog dedicated to her “Breathtaking Adventures.” We met up for drinks in Wichita a while back and bonded over our mutual wanderlust. It was really cool meeting a fellow wanderer from my area, and I encouraged her to do some traveling abroad.
Another great way to connect with other travelers online is forums. The only one I have used is on Nomadic Matt (forums.nomadicmatt.com) but there are countless others. This has been a great resource for me, especially for questions that I could not easily find an answer to on travel blogs.
All in all, the travel community is wonderful. If you are interested in traveling or planning to travel, I would highly encourage you to get connected with some folks online. It’s a great way to learn about your destination, discover new places to add to your bucket list, and network with like-minded people.
If you have questions about my travels and preparations, please feel free to contact me via email or social media. I’d love to chat!