While Kyle and I have written-off international travel for the rest of the year due to the pandemic, it hasn’t stopped us from exploring our local area and planning a domestic getaway. In August, we spent four days exploring the rural areas of Shaftsbury, Vermont. While we usually pick accommodations based on the destination we’re visiting, we ditched our original plans after finding this cozy log cabin on Airbnb. While visiting Vermont during the pandemic, we spent lots of time outdoors, wandered around town, and wore masks in public. Did I mention we also saw a Black Bear right in our backyard?
In this episode, Kyle and I share tips for planning a trip to China and our favorite highlights. We booked our ten-day China tour with UTO Vacation for $299 per person. Yes, that’s right, only $299 per person! This included round-trip airfare from New York City, 4-star hotels, an English speaking tour guide, complimentary breakfast daily, and admission to some iconic attractions like the Great Wall of China.
Want to make travel a financial priority? Grab a copy of my new book Affording Travel.
Find the best international flight deals originating from the U.S. and Canada by signing up for Thrifty Traveler Premium.
Things to Know about the China UTO Vacation Tour
Although this was an insanely cheap trip, it’s important to note that this is primarily a sight-seeing and shopping tour. There are designated local shopping stops in each city (Beijing, Shanghai, Wuxi, Suzhou and Hangzhou), and you will likely spend hours at each site. There is no obligation to buy anything.
How to Plan a Trip to China
Thing to Pack
Bring a couple rolls of toilet paper
Pepto Bismol caplets or antacid medication used to treat diarrhea, indigestion, heartburn and nausea.
https://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Plan-a-Trip-to-China-scaled.jpg25602104Danielle Desirhttp://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Thought-Card-Podcast-Cover-scaled.jpgDanielle Desir2020-02-07 16:53:032021-01-24 20:38:12Episode 48: Our China Trip Recap + How To Plan Your Epic Adventure
Back in December, Kyle and I spent an incredible ten days exploring five cities in China. Climbing The Great Wall of China was one of the memorable experiences we had (there were so many). In this episode, we share what to expect and our thoughts from the top of the Juyongguan Great Wall, the closest section to Beijing.
Our Great Wall of China One Day Itinerary
On our way to the Great Wall of China, we visited the Beijing Jade Factory, where we learned about the jade making process and how to tell if jade is real or not. Here you can also shop all sorts of jade jewelry and decorations. In Chinese, jade is pronounced as “Yu”, and it has a history of four thousand years in China. Next, we climbed the Great Wall of China, one of the seven wonders of the world. We ended the day at the Chinese Herbal Institute, where we learned about traditional Chinese medicine.
What to Bring in Winter
Water and snacks (remember you shouldn’t drink from the tap in China)
Wear layers but be prepared to take them off during hike
https://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Danielle-Desir-Podcasting-on-Great-Wall-of-China-scaled.jpg25601924Danielle Desirhttp://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Thought-Card-Podcast-Cover-scaled.jpgDanielle Desir2020-02-01 22:52:022021-01-24 20:38:01Episode 47: Live from the Great Wall of China
In this episode hear from the Pacifica Historical Society at the Little Brown Church in Pacifica, California. From mammoth fossils to the site where Europeans first saw the San Francisco Bay to the restoration of the Ocean Shore Railroad Car which ran from 1905-1920, learn about Pacifica’s rich and colorful history. A special thank you to Patricia Kremer for the tour of the museum’s exhibits.
https://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Pacifica-Historical-Society-2.jpg30244032Danielle Desirhttp://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Thought-Card-Podcast-Cover-scaled.jpgDanielle Desir2019-10-29 07:00:492020-06-10 02:33:09Episode 38: A Brief History of Pacifica, California by the Pacifica Historical Society
Looking for more ways to save money for an epic trip to Disney or Universal? I recommend using the Digit app which helps you save your spare change automatically. Use my referral code and get $5 for starting today.
Want to walk behind a waterfall or touch a glacier tongue? See why Iceland is my favorite travel destination by grabbing a copy of my new book Iceland: Nature, Nurture & Adventure!
https://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Disney-vs-Universal-2.jpg27012701Danielle Desirhttp://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Thought-Card-Podcast-Cover-scaled.jpgDanielle Desir2019-10-16 07:30:012021-01-24 20:37:05Episode 37: Walt Disney World vs. Universal Studios
In this episode we share our experience at the Disney Avatar Flight of Passage ride at Animal Kingdom for the first time. From things to bring with you to make the wait more manageable to our first impressions of the ride, learn why this is one of our favorite rides at Disney despite the long wait time.
https://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Disneys-Avatar-Flight-of-Passage.jpg38812911Danielle Desirhttp://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Thought-Card-Podcast-Cover-scaled.jpgDanielle Desir2019-10-16 07:00:042021-01-24 20:36:00Episode 36: Our Experience at Disney Avatar Flight of Passage
Despite Iceland being an expensive travel destination, there are plenty of ways to save money on your trip. In this episode, I share an excerpt from my Iceland travel guide Iceland: Nature, Nurture & Adventure. Follow along by reading pages 40 to 43. Tips include making the most out of happy hour specials in Reykjavík, why you should avoid using bottles of water (drink from the tap) and how visiting off-season can save you money in Iceland.
About Iceland: Nature, Nurture & Adventure
Iceland: Nature, Nurture & Adventure was the #1 New Release in Iceland & Greenland Travel on Amazon in August and September 2019.
From what to pack to things to do in Iceland, this travel guide shares how to plan an affordable, adventurous, and culturally enriching trip to Iceland.
Written with black women in mind, it also encourages black women and other people of color to visit Iceland and experience Iceland’s incredible landscape, unique foods, and rich culture.
It’s no secret that Iceland is one of my favorite travel destinations. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Iceland three times and as I wrap up writing my first book, an Iceland travel guide for adventure seekers, I figured I would share some quick tips for visiting Iceland on the podcast.
In this episode, my best friend and I share our thoughts on visiting Iceland for the first time (Sosa) and third time (me). We also recap touring Iceland’s Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is one of the most popular routes in Southern Iceland. Don’t miss the must-see attractions like Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park – where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are shifting apart and the roaring Gullfoss waterfall.
Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Efstidalur 2 (farm) for homemade Icelandic ice cream
Feed Icelandic horses
Why go on bus tours instead of renting a car in Iceland?
I know a lot of people recommend renting a car in Iceland but honestly, I don’t feel like you have to if you don’t want to.
During my three trips to Iceland, I never rented a car. I’ve only done bus tours.
Each bus tour is dynamic – you learn about the Icelandic culture, the people and the unique things about the region you’re visiting.
On bus tours you also don’t have worry about navigating the roads. The roads in Iceland are really narrow, so narrow that if a tour bus is coming at you, you have to go off the road to let the bus pass. Driving in Iceland could be quite dangerous so take the necessary precautions.
Lastly, bus tours are economical. We got so much value out of our group tours. For the Golden Circle Tour, we boarded the bus at 11:30 a.m. and didn’t get back until 7:30 p.m.
We had a full day of sightseeing!
Where to book your Golden Circle Tour?
We booked our guided Golden Circle Tour with Reykjavik Sightseeing.
Our classic tour cost 6,990 ISK or $60 USD per person.
Do you love keeping track of all the places you’ve been?
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https://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Gullfoss-Waterfall.jpg20002992Danielle Desirhttp://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Thought-Card-Podcast-Cover-scaled.jpgDanielle Desir2019-04-17 15:23:372020-06-10 02:33:14Episode 29: Tips for Exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle
Curaçao is a Dutch Caribbean island only 40 miles from Venezuela. Known for its colorful capital, voluptuous ChiChi souvenirs, blend of cultures and picturesque beaches, Curaçao is the perfect destination for those seeking culture, delicious food, and relaxation. Curaçao has been on my travel wish list for a while and I’m so excited to share that I finally got a chance to visit. In this episode, I share my top Curaçao vacation tips and how to planning an affordable Curaçao vacation.
Hey financially savvy travelers, do you love keeping track of all the places you’ve been?
Well, Awesome Maps offers a wide variety of stylish and informative maps that inspire you to discover new places and create new memories around the world, from travel journal maps that you can take with you on the road to design pieces for your home. Each map is hand illustrated by designers with a passion for illustrating and drawing.
Use the promo code “THOUGHTCARD” to get 10% off your order.
https://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Curacao-Travel-Tips-1.jpg6831024Danielle Desirhttp://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Thought-Card-Podcast-Cover-scaled.jpgDanielle Desir2019-04-16 01:07:172021-01-22 02:19:05Episode 28: Curaçao Vacation Tips: How To Plan an Affordable Curaçao Vacation
In this episode we chat with Beatriz Reynoso about how she traveled to Cuba solo after a breakup. After breaking up with her partner of six years, Beatriz wanted to get away as far as possible. At the time Cuba was legal travel to, several of her friends had already visited Cuba and it was affordable. Why not right?
Beatriz shares that if you just broke up with your significant other, consider going on a solo trip. She says, “This trip taught me that everything I need is within me. My happiness, my love and support – that comes from me and not someone else.”
In this episode we cover:
What it’s like traveling to Cuba as a female solo traveler
Resources to plan your trip to Cuba
Tips for saving money in Cuba
How much things cost in Cuba
Where to stay in Havana
Cash vs. Credit Cards in Cuba
For the best rates, Beatriz recommends exchanging your money when you get to Cuba. She exchanged her US Dollars at the airport and she never used a credit card. She also never saw anyone using a credit card in Cuba as well.
It was scary at first, however, once I started exploring on my own, I felt really safe. I walked everywhere and met amazing people.
Cuba is actually one of the safest places to travel for women.
How affordable is Cuba?
Because of the big boost in tourism to Cuba, I found that things cost similar to the U.S. – maybe somewhat cheaper. I was there for nine days and I still had money leftover. It’s all about how you optimize your spending.
Can you share any tips for saving money in Cuba?
I took a lot of my own snacks with me to Cuba because I heard that there were food shortages because everything is rationed in Cuba.
I took my own toilet paper and when I got there, I bought a case of water.
I would also recommend bartering with locals to get the best deals.
https://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Beatriz-Reynoso-Solo-Travel-Cuba-2.jpg6081080Danielle Desirhttp://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Thought-Card-Podcast-Cover-scaled.jpgDanielle Desir2019-03-30 18:34:182021-01-24 20:33:52Episode 26: Visiting Cuba Solo After a Break Up with Beatriz Reynoso
Did you know that visiting countries with a favorable exchange rate (where the US dollar is strong), is an easy way to stretch your travel budget without really trying?
In this episode we cover:
What is a foreign exchange rate?
How to take advantage of favorable exchange rates to save money on your next trip
5 countries where the US dollar goes further right now
What is a foreign exchange rate?
A foreign exchange rate compares the value of two currencies.
For travelers, the exchange rate is very important because when we travel, we exchange our home currency for a foreign currency.
So as an American, I think of it this way, how far will $1 USD dollar get me in another country? How many euros or pesos can I buy with $1 US dollar?
What does it mean to have a strong or weak currency?
With a strong home currency, your money is worth more abroad which means that you spend less on everything. On the other hand when your home currency is weak, your money is worth less. This ultimately means that you’ll spend more on everything.
With that being said as you plan for your upcoming trips, consider visiting countries with a favorable exchange rate to get a bit more bang for your buck.
Don’t forget to support the local economies wherever you visit.
Some easy ways to support local economies include joining local group tours with local guides, eating at locally owned restaurants, buying souvenirs from artisans and staying at guest houses using Airbnb.
Where are the best places to exchange money?
For the best exchange rates, exchange your money at your local bank in your hometown or an ATM when you arrive at your destination. Both options allow you to get local currency at the current exchange rate.
Avoid airport currency exchange counters, they charge exuberant fees unnecessarily.
Alternatively you can use a debit card with no ATM fees or a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Also for the best exchange rates, always opt for paying in local currency.
Turkey’s art, culture, and landscape make it an incredibly diverse country. I hope to spend lots of time in Istanbul, but I also want to visit Troy, Ephesus, and go on a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia.
India is home to great architecture like the Taj Mahal (one of the seven wonders of the world), the Ganges River (considered the holiest river in the world), sensory overload and history dating back thousands of years. India is also full of eye-opening experiences and vibrant colors.
Here luxurious accommodations are affordable, eating out costs less, and transporation is very cheap. With the recent drop in rupee value, India continues to be a bargain destination for travelers on a budget.
$1 USD = 13.95 South Africa rand (ZAR)
Home to nature reserves like the Kruger National Park and wild safaris, South Africa is the perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts. There are also plenty of colorful beach towns like Cape Town and museums detailing the history of apartheid.
$1 USD = 37.34 Argentine peso (ARS)
You might be surprised to see Argentina on this list but Argentina’s currency has fallen dramatically recently due to economic crisises.
Flight prices to Argentina are less expensive now and bottles of wine are a third of the price.
What are some of your favorite affordable destinations to travel to?
https://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Strong-US-Dolallar-Destinations.jpg5761024Danielle Desirhttp://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Thought-Card-Podcast-Cover-scaled.jpgDanielle Desir2019-01-07 16:48:582021-01-24 20:32:58Episode 16: 5 Destinations Where Your US Dollar Goes Further Right Now
Fender and Maloney are the dynamic duo that make up Traveler Broads. Together they share domestic and international travel tips and help people find creative ways to interact and support local communities through hyper-local travel. Fender and Maloney are also enthusiastic New Orleans locals who know the French Quarter inside and out. In this New Orleans podcast episode, they’ll share with us their favorite tips to explore NOLA like a local.
In this episode we cover:
What is hyper-local travel?
Ways to support the local economy while traveling
Why New Orleans is a unique travel destination
Some of the things most tourists overlook when planning a trip to New Orleans
Ways to save money in New Orleans
Where to eat and drink in NOLA
French Quarter Off the Record Map – The French Quarter Off the Record Map is perfect for those who want to learn what the French Quarter is like when you live there. Order your map before you get to New Orleans or find them throughout several stores in the French Quarter. It includes shopping, eating, bars to go to and lots more.
Ways to save money in New Orleans:
Look at the events calendar and avoid price spikes from events like New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Mardi Gras, Essence Festival, Halloween etc.
You are allowed to drink on the streets – so you technically don’t have to go into a bar to have a drink if you don’t want to.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on good food in New Orleans.
https://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Discover-New-Orleans-Traveler-Broads.jpg7681024Danielle Desirhttp://podcast.thoughtcard.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-Thought-Card-Podcast-Cover-scaled.jpgDanielle Desir2018-12-12 07:00:052020-06-10 02:33:43Episode 13: All Things New Orleans with Fender and Maloney from Traveler Broads