Visiting Bangalore India

A Culturally Rich Experience that is Dirt Cheap

india2

At the beginning of the year I visited my sister in Bangalore India. Bangalore is pretty modern for an Indian city and is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Known as the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore is the country’s IT/start-up hub. I felt it was the perfect intro into India as I saw all sides of things. I absolutely loved it. India is the most colorful chaotic place I’ve ever visited and that was just Bangalore.

Transportation

India Rickshaw

Rickshaw rides in India are a must. You DO have to negotiate prices so beware but it’s still a very affordable way to get around albeit not the fastest or cleanest.

But guess who is in Bangalore too…Uber!! Can you believe it?! It cost me $1 for a 10 minute ride and $3 for a 30 minute ride. I kid you not! I have the credit card statement to back this up. Not only was it cheap, it made going from point A to point B so much easier because of their GPS App. Let’s just say, getting around in Bangalore isn’t totally straightforward.

Beauty and Fashion

India Henna

Other things I enjoyed on the cheap in India were a manicure for $4 and having henna on my hands and forearms for $10.

India Sari

Another cheap indulgence in Bangalore is getting a sari made. I had one made and so can you for approximately $50-75. Next visit I’m bringing other clothes to copy and have made – it’s so inexpensive!

sandals

My favorite shoes are sandals and this is one thing I definitely bought plenty of on Commercial Street for anywhere between $4-8.

Food and Booze

oldmonk

One of my very favorite types of dark rum just so happens to be Indian. As I stood in a liquor store baffled at which liquor I should choose, my sister’s friend asked “do you like rum”? Naturally, I said yes and he proceeded to lead me to the altar of Old Monk! I was in literal heaven gasping out loud. A bottle was $4. I’ve never been happier with a booze purchase.

Church Street Social India

Dining out is also super inexpensive in comparison to loads of other cities. Bangalore has plenty of posh spots like Church Street Social. A no-holds-barred brunch there for my sister and me cost a grand total of $12. It is my favorite breakfast on record…who couldn’t love bacon stuffed pancakes with eggs on top?! One evening we also hit up the trendy and fun Humming Tree where dinner & drinks for my sister and me was a whopping $25. Oh and there was live music!

Philanthropy

Orphanage supplies India

It’s a bit of a passion of mine to try to do some good while traveling. Even in small ways. GlobeDrop helped me out in my visit to India. I discovered GlobeDrop through Twitter and quickly became obsessed. They vet out organizations that can use supplies in locations all over the world. They make it very easy, putting you in touch with these organizations and you can decide from there what you’d like to donate. I chose the Ashanilaya Orphanage in Bangalore. The orphanage shared a link to all the things they could use for their children and suggested buying it in country to give back to the economy. Truth be known, I didn’t have room to tote all of the intended items around pre-orphanage visit, so this idea suited me. In addition, ALL of the things I donated cost me less than $100 USD and there is NO WAY it would have cost so little in the United States. Doing good felt great!

Girls of Ashanilaya Orphanage India

Culture

So now that I’ve proven how cheap Bangalore India can be, let me express how culturally enriching this trip was. As you can imagine, hiring rickshaws and getting services like manicures, henna and having a sari made means you have to mix it up with the locals. One lucky thing is that many Indians speak English but nonetheless it still isn’t your every day interaction and I loved it very much. Indian people want you to be happy with their services by in large and they have such a pleasing way about them. You also get a glimpse into how these small business owners dress and eat. How they are curious about you too. I found India extremely open, friendly and accepting of tourists. I cannot wait to return and learn more about this country and their culture.

A Bit about GlobeDrop

GlobeDrop aims to be a global trendsetter when it comes to responsible travel, volunteering and global giving. We created this web app to make it easier for those who like adventure travel and giving back to places they visit.

Instead of money, adventure travelers give back contributions are made through in-kind donation. This is to directly provide for the tangible necessities of the organizations and to boost the community economy by buying the items from local merchants.

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Airbnb Times Three

airbnb in NYC, LA and Bahamas

In April, I rented 3 Airbnb places in New York City, Los Angeles and Eleuthera in the Bahamas. I’ve tried other rental companies for some of my lodging during traveling but never Airbnb until then. I was very impressed to say the least. Their tagline, “Airbnb feel like home” is spot on. With rentals in over 190+ countries, you are sure to find something with Airbnb in many locations.

New York, New York

NYC loft with airbnb

At $200 a night, this bright airy loft apartment in the Garment District of NYC felt like a steal. I absolutely loved the simplicity of it all. I had a private bedroom with a shared bath but never even saw the other renter. Besides being clean and priced right, the location was key. Situated between Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea, it was so easy to get everywhere from this Airbnb rental. OH and the host was amazing – always checking to make sure I had all I needed during my stay.

Los Angeles, California

venice beach pacific ocean

Located in Venice Beach, a block and a half from the ocean, my cozy bungalow Airbnb was awesome for a long weekend in Cali. I was sharing the rental with a friend and it was perfect for the two of us. There was plenty of room for us and all our stuff and we even had space to just hangout. Besides being well priced at $180 a night, the location couldn’t have been more ideal for us. If you want a great taste of the California surfer & skate scene Venice Beach is for you.

Eleuthera, Bahamas

cayo loco eleuthera airbnb

Hello LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION!! Try renting a cottage RIGHT ON THE BEACH for $250 a night. This Airbnb was so darn cute. Very bright & islandy with everything you could need. The owners had plenty of fantastic information on hand about their tiny island, like what to see, do and where to eat. Who couldn’t love a private cottage within ear shot of the crashing waves to lull you to sleep every night?! NO ONE, that’s who. The pretty pink sand beach was virtually empty and I’ve never stepped foot on a softer beach in my life.

So Why Airbnb?

My overall take away is Airbnb is a super way to go for travel stays. Very affordable and most times your rental comes with invaluable insight from the owners about the destination. And, while the owners are always reachable for any questions, they really give you your own space and privacy – which is key to me! All 3 Airbnb’s locations were outstanding and, for me, that can make or break a quick getaway. If you have not tried Airbnb yet, get on board.

PS – My friend I was traveling with in LA had an incident with an Airbnb rental before I arrived. Apparently, the customer service with Airbnb is as top-notch as my rental experience. It’s great to know you are in good hands when renting private spaces while traveling. :)

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Surviving Long Haul Flights

boston airplane view

Anyone who travels often surely has tips and tricks to surviving flying. Whether it’s what seat to pick on certain aircrafts or how dress, frequent flyers always have things that work best for them. I, too, have my travel necessities for surviving flying and, in particular, long haul flights.

Stay Hydrated

drinking water while flying

I’ll be the first to admit that on many overnight long haul flights I’ll have a glass of wine or two to help me fall asleep but that’s not a good way to stay hydrated. You truly have to drink a decent amount of water. Yes, you may have to visit the onboard lavatory more than you’d like but you will feel much better when you reach your destination.

Distract Yourself

People always seem concerned about the length of time for long haul flights and avoiding becoming stir crazy. As odd as it may sound, I have started to enjoy the really lengthy long haul flights. I distract myself with movies, reading, writing and, most of all, listening to music. I always have a couple sets of earphones just in case one stops working. Music is my ultimate distractor in my every day life and I find it relieves stress and even helps me to sleep when I fly.

Sleep If You Can

eye mask

Even if you only sleep a little bit, it can help in keeping you feeling refreshed. When traveling on a long haul flight you are going to be crossing many time zones and that can be exhausting. One thing I’ve found that really helps me is an eye mask. This may seem very obvious but I only recently tried it out on daytime flights and it really works.

Avoid Jet Lag

Jet lag is a tough thing. It can definitely take a toll on you and your body. While staying hydrated and sleeping can help, in addition I take a homeopathic chewable called No Jet Lag during the flight. I’ve had no side effects and, more than anything, I’ve found it simply aids me in staying awake until it’s bedtime in the new time zone that I’ve arrived.

Staying Comfortable

long haul flying dress

Staying comfortable in your little space on the aircraft can be tricky. Wearing loose clothes can certainly keep you comfortable as well as help in the rest and relaxation department. Traveling with layers is also a good idea in case it’s chilly during the flight. I have one dress that I almost always wear during long haul flights. No, it’s not my most traveled dress but it’s close. It’s sleeveless, so great when I’m hot, and is t-shirt material, so feels like pajamas. I also travel with a cardigan, scarf and/or denim jacket. All these items can be useful in keeping you warm but also can double as blankets, pillows & face masks.

Don’t Let Your Skin Suffer

Maroc100 flight cocktail face cream

Since you’re hydrating your insides why not hydrate your outside too. Water consumption definitely is a good thing all the way around but that airplane air can dry out your skin and lips like you’ve been visiting the desert. I carry hand cream, Kiehls #1 lip balm and Maroc100. Kiehls is a product I use every day and it truly keeps my lips from drying and cracking even during the harsh New England winters. Maroc100 Flight Creme Skin Rescue Cocktail  is a new product that I have tried on several long haul flights and can say that my face stays moist and I arrive with a glow upon touch down. Best part is after trying it out multiple times this sensitive skin gal has had zero problems with a reaction.

Arrive refreshed

All of the above will help you to arrive to your destination refreshed but there have been too many times where I land starving or in need of the bathroom. I’ve wised up and now always have small snacks in my bag that never go bad like nuts or power bars. Also, I always try to go to the restroom on board the plane not long before landing. Often, with long haul flights, you are arriving in a new country which means immigration and customs awaits. It’s no fun to needing to relieve yourself through that entire process. Other tip is to either brush your teeth or have some gum or mints. I’m telling you that wakes you up and everyone you encounter will appreciate your fresh breath.

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Six Discoveries about Jamaica

landing in Montego Bay Jamaica

Aruba, Jamaica oooh I wanna take you… You know how the song goes. I wanna take you on a little quick trip to Jamaica with me. I love the Caribbean and decided this year I needed to see a bit more of it. So, on a snowy weekend in New England, I looked for the best deal I could find to get down to the Caribbean in March. Jamaica was the lucky winner and BOY I am so glad. I had always been curious about Jamaica but it wasn’t at the top of my must-see Caribbean islands. Now that I’ve been I’m really am not sure why that was. It is the perfect place for me. There you can find a little bit posh and a little bit rough around the edges – my favorite sort of destination. Here are six discoveries I had about Jamaica.

Beauty

Seven Mile Beach Sunset

Jamaica has stunning beauty. I stayed at a small boutique resort on Negril’s famous Seven Mile Beach. The beach was sugar white, soft and clean and walking into the ocean was like walking into a bathtub of clear blue water that was the perfect temperature. You can literally see the sandy bottom for feet and feet. Everything I could want water sport wise was offered on this beach. OH and being located on the western part of Jamaica, the sunsets were right in front of me every night. It couldn’t have been more beautiful.

SafetySandy Haven Resort Jamaica

Safety is something you hear about in Jamaica. I may have lucked out in choosing Negril because safety was never an issue. I would venture to guess it’s become a bit safer in general in Jamaica but you can find problem areas (just like any country) still for sure. Sandy Haven Resort was a gated property and, in addition, they had security on the beachfront too. Apparently this is not a common thing on Seven Mile Beach and I learned that this was a nice thing to have. While I definitely enjoyed the locals pedaling their wares during the day on the beach, they weren’t permitted to come onto the property so I never felt pressured or harassed. Also, any time I took a taxi service from the property, they asked when to return to pick me up so I never had to be concerned with finding another taxi and they always showed up on time!

Poverty

RockHouse Foundation Jamaica

Another thing you know exists in Jamaica is poverty. You cannot help but see it when driving from the airport to Negril. And, since this is Jamaica’s reality, why wouldn’t you wish to see it? But by being a tourist and especially not staying at an all-inclusive, you can get out and support local businesses. Buying handcrafts and locally produced food at small food stands keeps the economy going. Also, you can support different charities if you so choose. I found a charity in Negril, Rockhouse Foundation, that educates local children and I brought a collection of children’s books from the states to donate to them.

Friendliness

Sandy Haven staff member Jamaica

I always heard that Jamaicans are friendly but I now think this is an understatement. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been somewhere more friendly EVER. From Antonio Airport Transfers that shuttled me from Montego Bay Airport, to the amazing staff at Sandy Haven, to the on-property taxi service – Kenny Tours, I was blown away. Even fellow tourists were unbelievably friendly which I attribute to the Jamaican culture being so friendly it attracts friendly travelers. Veteran Jamaica goers were thrilled to share where to go and what to eat to get the best of what Jamaica is known for in Negril. Meeting locals at the market stands was an amazing experience too. So grateful for the business. Shaking your hand and introducing themselves. Giving small gifts as a token of gratitude.

Pride and Character

Seven Mile Beach Jamaica

From the moment I got into the initial car service to Negril, pride and character was oozing from Jamaicans. People are proud of their country. And, they want to tell you about it, have you experience it and thank you for coming. They are proud of their “don’t worry be happy” attitude, their country’s past and freedom, and Jamaica’s overall beauty. Even the beach peddlers were full of pride and character. For me, this was a huge source of culture and entertainment. You can learn a lot about the culture just from watching at a distance from your beach lounger. What do Jamaicans eat and drink. Where is the party that the locals will be going to that evening. Even what Jamaicans wear!

Costs

Niah's chicken curry patty

Jamaica is a relatively inexpensive place to visit. I found a package deal through an airline for my plane ticket and hotel. After seeing other options in Negril, I think I found one of the best out there. I loved Sandy Haven Resort and would definitely stay there again. Continental breakfast was included in the rate but I wasn’t shy about eating and drinking whatever I felt like during my stay and at the end of my short visit my balance was surprisingly minimal. You could find comfort food or Jamaican food on their menu – so that was also great. Given that it wasn’t an all-inclusive, I set off to find other places to eat and drink. Niah’s patties on Seven Mile Beach are a Jamaican specialty and cost $6 US. Treehouse was another spot that had delicious Jamaican jerk chicken. Finding small roadside stands for drinks was a fun and cheap option as well. The most expensive spot I checked out was Rick’s Cafe in the West End. Even though it’s touristy it really should not be missed. The cliff diving is incredible and the sunset is gorgeous from this spot. You can even walk over to the lighthouse found there and tour it.

Rick's Cafe Negril Jamaica

I will definitely return to Jamaica and Negril. Next time I will spend a little more time there and explore the West End further. Rockhouse Hotel looks like a fantastic property. I would like to volunteer with their foundation as well next visit. And I am going to most certainly make it to one of the coolest looking bars I’ve ever seen – the Pelican Bar. Now that I know how safe, friendly and affordable Jamaica is, you cannot keep me away. PS – they take US dollars there and really actually prefer it.

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Why I Travel

travel

I have all kinds of reasons for traveling. Most of all is the overwhelming curiosity that lives inside me to know more about the INCREDIBLE world we live in. The more I travel, the more I want to travel. It is a real need of mine.

erin

Sometimes I travel for work. Sometimes I travel for vacation. And sometimes I travel to reconnect with those that mean the most. No matter why I travel it is ALWAYS a pleasure. I’ll be crisscrossing the country spending time in New York, LA and Miami in the upcoming weeks. Admittedly, these are all great cities but not really anything new for me. I don’t mind though. I’m going first and foremost to catch up with important people in my life. Sometimes you have to just stop and make the time to show you care to those who support and love you. While there will be a bit of “work” and, at the end, some vacation, the main purpose of these trips is to share the love back to my friends of the world.

  jetset extra & the world wanderer   a hell LOVE a town, the world wanderer, walks of new york   stay adventurous & the world wanderer

In New York there is a travel conference going on. No doubt, it will be good for learning and networking. But I’m not gonna lie, that  is not why I’m going. It’s because conferences bring together some of my favorite people who I love and admire. It is a wonderful opportunity for me to reconnect with great people and to make some new friends. Plus, with little agenda that leaves A LOT of room for ADVENTURE! And future adventures to be planned.

  smallcrazy   discovering your truth   jetset extra

In Los Angeles it’ll be much the same. One of my dearest friends in the world is flying through California and since I’m not sure when I will see her again this year I took this chance to see her now. Sometimes you realize that you have to make the investment in people who get you and are always there. It’ll be a BIG catch up with many awesome people but also an opportunity to do something a little different. We plan to do a small road trip to see a bit of the Cali coast. Stay tuned for some pretty pictures and new discoveries.

miami

From there it’ll be back to my love, Miami. There’s a conference to attend so a fantastic opportunity to learn and network. But it is also a locale that I can never get enough of…my HAPPY spot. I should just go on get a place there already!!

bahamas

And from there, well this is where the vacation comes in. I’m finally going to Eleuthera – the Bahamian island with PINK beaches!! And, seriously, while I call this vacation, you KNOW I’ll be sharing the prettiness of that place with you. Plus, write about what you should see and do if you ever go!

Why do you travel? Do you try to get the most out of your trips even when it’s for work? Would you criss-cross the country in a few weeks time to catch up with special people in your life?

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