All posts by Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

An Insider’s Guide to Visiting Richardson, TX

Dallas may steal the spotlight when it comes to cities, but make sure you don’t overlook Richardson when visiting Texas. The city is full of activities to do, from spending a day in the park to trying out different food trucks at a park dedicated to them. Add these items to your itinerary next time you’re in the area!

park

Image via Flickr by Manish S.

Check Out the Visual Arts Building

The University of Texas hosts this community-based art exhibit, where art displays are donated by a wide variety of artists. Lectures by guest speakers are given regularly, and guest artists sometimes make an appearance. It’s a great way to spend a day indoors that’s just too hot outside, and afterwards you can sign up for a tour of the entire campus.

Richardson Farmers Market

All your exploring will build up an appetite, so there’s no better place to stop than the farmers market. You’ll ge the chance to meet the local vendors and try their food. There’s a huge variety available to purchase, including jams, pickles, and locally grown mushrooms.

Take a Stroll Through Breckinridge Park

If you want to relax in the city, this park is the place to come. There’s over four miles of walking or running trails available, making it the perfect way to spend your lunch break. Many people choose to make a day of it and bring a picnic with their families as well. You can even fish in  one of the lakes in the park.

Try Out Different Food Trucks

Food trucks are all the rage these days, and Richardson is no exception to this. Head to the food truck park to indulge in everything from lobster rolls to snow cones. Local Christopher Migliaccio explains why he loves coming here so much:

“In my town of Richardson, my family and I really enjoy going to the Richardson Food Truck Park.  Everytime we go to this outdoor venue, there is a variety of delicious food to choose from and there is always different food trucks there each time we go there.  The one constant establishment at the Food Truck Park is the Interurban Bar which serves a very refreshing Bishop Cider Nectar.  It is a great stop for the family. ” 

Catch a Show

The Eisemann Center for Performing Arts is a fun place to go for couples and families alike. See different performances including beautiful ballet shows or special Fourth of July orchestra shows. Events happen year round, so there’s always something to see at the center.

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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An Insider’s Guide to Visiting San Diego

San Diego is a picturesque beach town located in southern California. With warm weather year-round, surfers can be found out trying to catch a wave any day of the week. If you’re headed there for your next vacation, here’s an insider’s guide to visiting San Diego.

San Diego California

Image via Flickr

Visit La Jolla Cove

If you want to see seals, this is the place to come. Dozens of these creatures can be spotted daily lying out on the rocks, catching some rays. If you head down to the water, seal pups can be seen playing with each other in the water and trying to ride the waves. For a few dollars, you can visit the Cave, where a long set of wooden stairs takes you down a dark tunnel right into a hidden cave where the water comes in.

Spend the Day at Pacific Beach

San Diego has some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. From Pacific Beach to La Jolla, there’s no shortage of places to lie on the beach or swim out in the ocean. Pacific Beach not only has sandy beaches, but is lined with restaurants and bars for when you need to refuel. Local attorney David Hiden elaborates on this, stating:

My favorite thing to do in San Diego is to go to the beach and enjoy the fine sand and the great water because San Diego is such a beautiful city and the beaches are well known to be clean and wonderful.

Walk Through Balboa Park

When you’ve had enough of the ocean, head over to this urban park to get in some exercise. At almost 2 square miles, it’s a green oasis perfect for jogging. There’s plenty to stop at along the way, including the famous San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Natural History Museum, and the San Diego Museum of Art.

Visit a Lighthouse

If you like lighthouses, you’ll love visiting the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. This beautiful lighthouse was first in operation in 1855 to help ships navigate through the fog to the shores of San Diego. While it stopped being used in 1891 in lieu of a new lighthouse in a different location, the building has been very well-preserved. You can go inside the lighthouse, as well as see the old living quarters from the 1800s.

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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Apps

Best Apps for Travelers

As seasoned of a traveler as you may be, it’s hard to get through a trip without needing a little help. Sometimes plans go awry and you suddenly need to communicate in a foreign language, or book a hotel last minute. Download these free apps before your next trip to make sure you’re prepared!

Google Translate

One of the hardest parts of traveling abroad can be the language barrier. If you’ll be traveling through multiple countries on one trip, it can be hard to memorize all the different languages. Google Translate is a cure-all for this. You can translate text in up to 90 different languages, and can even take a picture from your phone to translate words in up to 26 languages.

OANDA Currency Convertor

Trying to figure out if that beautiful dress in Morocco is a bargain or will break the  bank can be a headache. OANDA solves this problem by giving you daily rates for over 190 currencies and even four different metals. You also have the option to add a percentage based on your bank’s fees to figure out what your total cost will be.

Hotel Tonight

Have you ever made a reservation, only to get to your destination to find out it didn’t go through? Maybe you like to pick up and head to a new place spontaneously, and figure out where you’ll stay once you get there. With Hotel Tonight, you’ll never be without a place to stay again. Just pull the app up to find the closest hotels near you with the best prices.

Gas Buddy

Maybe you prefer to travel slowly and see each country at your own pace in a car. Whether you’re abroad or doing a road trip in your home country, Gas Buddy shows you the best place to stop for cheap gas. You can also put in your route and calculate how much your trip will cost you.

Free WiFi Finder

One of the worst parts about traveling to a new area is not knowing when and where you’ll have wi-fi to upload those amazing pictures you just took to Instagram. With Free Wi-Fi  Finder, you can find where the nearest wi-fi locations are in over 50 countries.

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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Latin America

Should You Cancel Your Travel Due to Zika?

If you’ve been paying attention to the recent headlines, you most likely know that the Zika virus has become a problem. If you’re traveling to a country affected by it, this may be more than a little worrisome. What is it exactly, and do you need to cancel your future travel plans?

What is it?
The Zika virus was first documented in 1947 in a monkey from the forests of Uganda. It’s transmittable by Aedes mosquitoes, which can infect humans. A documented case didn’t appear again until the spring of 2015 in Brazil.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms are generally mild and not noticeable by many people who are infected. This includes fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. The symptoms only last as long as the virus is in the blood, which can be anywhere from several days to one week.

Should you be concerned?
The primary concern is for pregnant women. Zika can cause neurological problems and birth defects. Microcephaly was present in babies who’s mothers had the virus when they were pregnant. While the link has yet to be officially confirmed, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency due to the increased cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome and microcephaly.

How can you protect yourself?
Protecting yourself against mosquitos is your best bet for not becoming infected. This includes being vigilant about applying mosquito repellent, avoiding mosquito breeding grounds such as still water, and sleeping indoors with mosquito nets. Wearing dark clothing can also attract mosquitos more than light clothing.

If you’re traveling to Latin America, South America, the Caribbean, or the Pacific Islands, it’s important to be aware of the virus. It doesn’t mean you necessarily need to cancel your plans, but take extra precautions to protect yourself against mosquitos. If you’re pregnant and planned on going on a trip where you’ll spend a good amount of time outside, you might consider delaying your trip or changing locations for the time being. There’s currently no vaccine, so protection is the most important step you can take in the fight against the Zika virus.

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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cheap airline

The Truth About Budget Airlines

The United States hasn’t jumped on the budget airline trend yet, but countries like Europe and Asia have embraced it. If you’re flexible to what day and time your flight is, you can get a flight for much less than a train would be. Booking a flight through a discount company can save lots of time and money, but it’s important to be aware of how a budget flight can add up.

Be Flexible With Locations

Say you want to go to Zurich, Switzerland, but the flight is a little pricey. Consider flying into the cheaper option of Frankfurt, Germany instead and then taking the train down. It’s often much cheaper to fly into certain airports depending on the location. On that note, be careful you know which airport you’re flying into. There can be several within a large city, and you don’t want to spend the money you just saved on a taxi trying to get to your hotel all the way across town. Spend a decent amount of time researching your options.

Use Different Search Engines

There are many different ones to use, and all will come back with a different price. Use a variety to compare which one has the best price. Sometimes it’s cheaper to book directly through the airline’s website, so take a look at that as well when comparing.

Don’t Make Tight Connections

Budget airlines are not known for being on time. They can often be delayed by hours, or just flat out cancelled. If you have booked several budget airlines together in order to get to a farther destination, the airlines most likely won’t refund your ticket on your later flights because your original one was delayed. Space them out several hours apart, or consider exploring the city for a day before taking another flight to your next destination.

Beware of Hidden Costs

One downside of budget airlines is they charge you for almost anything extra. If you want to choose your seat in advance, there’s a fee for that. If you have an additional bag besides your one small carry-on, there’s a fee for that. It’s best to pack as lightly as possible for flights like these to maximize your savings.

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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Thailand

Expat Location Spotlight: Chiang Mai

As the amount of travelers working in foreign countries increase each year, so do the number of locations for them to settle in. Chiang Mai, one of these locations, is in a mountainous region of northern Thailand. It’s often rated one of the top 10 most livable cities in Asia. It has started attracting a large amount of travelers who come to visit, and end up settling there for months. There are several reasons for this.

Cost of Living

The cost of living is much lower than in other countries around the world. Even compared to Thailand’s popular cities Bangkok or Phuket, it’s cheaper to live in Chiang Mai. For a studio apartment on the outskirts of the city, you can expect to spend about 5400 Thai Baht (equivalent to $150 USD). Factor in basic utilities and the cost of food, and you’re only at $500-$600 USD per month, not including entertainment or any extras.

Increase of English Speakers

Due to a large amount of English-speaking workers coming in the past 10 years, there are now many businesses catered to those that don’t speak Thai. Although it’s recommended to attempt to learn some Thai, you can go to stores or even doctors’ offices that speak fluent English. Expat meet-up groups have also popped up all around the city, making it easy to meet fellow travelers. It provides a social outlet, and lets you connect with others in the same situation to meet up with in the future.

Jobs

In case you don’t have a job where you can work remotely, teaching English is a very common choice for foreigners.  You need to apply for a non-immigrant visa, good for up to one year. You can then apply for a work visa, and an extension of stay if needed.

There are a few items to factor in before considering an extended stay in Chiang Mai. A tourist visa is required, which can be used for up to 6 months depending on how many times you leave the country. You need to exit the country every 60 days though, which will run you around $30 USD each time you enter the country. Visa fees and transportation costs aside, it’s easy to see why Chiang Mai is an affordable, livable city for expats.

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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Best Websites for Remote Workers

KeyboardWhether you’re working as your own boss or for someone remotely, being organized is key. Without being in an office with coworkers, it can be easy to forget deadlines to meet or virtual meetings scheduled for the week. Here’s a round up of some of the top websites to help you stay organized and on track.

TripIt
When you travel often, keeping track of all your flights, hotels, and any other reservations can get overwhelming. TripIt lets you forward all your email confirmations to it and automatically imports the information into the calendar. One of the best features is you can view it all offline, so no need to worry about connecting to wi-fi in a foreign country while you’re trying to pull your hotel information up.

Buffer
For those working in social media or marketing, Buffer is a life saver. It allows you to add multiple accounts to schedule content for. Set a schedule for how many times a day you want to post and when, or let their tool analyze the best times to post. The extension you can add to your browser allows you to easily add articles you come across to your queue for sharing later, or posting it instantly.

Every Time Zone
If you’re working remotely, chances are you’re communicating with people in different time zones. Instead of trying to remember where your coworkers are, add Every Time Zone to your  browser. It gives you quick access to know what time it is anywhere in the world.

Evernote
This combines all your virtual post-it notes into one organized website. Evernote allows you to organize all your to-do lists and even sync them to your phone, so you can see what’s due on the go. You can also share your notes with others for faster collaboration.

Google Docs
With Google Docs, you  never have to worry about downloading a document from a coworker, editing it, and then sending it back to them. Create a spreadsheet and share the link with a coworker to edit. You’ll be able to see their revisions when you click on the link.

 

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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Bali

The Rise of Digital Nomads

Travel enthusiasts have encountered a common dilemma in the past. Do they commit to the few weeks of paid vacation they have with their typical 9-5 job to fit in all their traveling for the year, or do they somehow make enough money to quit their job and travel the world? Luckily, many travelers don’t have to choose any more thanks to the recent increase of location independent jobs.

Described as “digital nomads,” many passionate travelers are now able to travel where they please, all while working from their computer. This means the same job can performed from a hammock on the sunny beaches of the Philippines one week, and from a Bavarian village surrounded by snow-capped mountains the next. Workers are no longer chained to their desks or forced to work only within certain hours.

Difference in Living Expenses

Before making the move, consider how much you’re willing to spend each month on living expenses. These can vary drastically depending on the location. In the graphic below, it shows how almost $6000 is saved over a course of three months should someone choose to live in Bali over London. However, it’s also important to consider such factors as more remote areas might have a weaker Internet signal, or you might have to go to a cafe to do all your work.

The difference in living expenses can be huge depending on the location.

The difference in living expenses can be huge depending on the location.

Co-Working Spaces

While the freedom to travel and work on your own might be enticing, maybe you know yourself well enough to know you need a little more structure. That’s where co-working spaces come in, which are popping up all over the world. As seen on the graphic below, you can still choose a location of your choice, but will be in an office with other remote workers to encourage you to stay on task. It’s also a great way to gain some colleagues to hang out with after you’re done with your work for the day.

Coworking spaces

The best co-working spaces to work at around the world.

Is it for you?

There’s many obvious benefits to being a digital nomad. You have the freedom to travel where you want while still making money. You can choose where you want your office to be and make your own dress code. There tends to be an increase in happiness due to having such freedom.

With the freedom of working remotely comes the downsides as well. Contracts with online companies may end and not be renewed, leaving the worker scrambling for work. You must be organized and detail-oriented to make sure you’re leaving room in your schedule to get the work done that’s needed. It can be tempting to stay out late with the locals or spend all day at the beach, but it will leave you scrambling to meet deadlines.

Working remotely while traveling can be very rewarding, but it’s not for everyone. Consider your job skills, location, and budget before making the leap to join the increasing number of digital nomads.

Images provided with permission by https://www.bargainfox.co.uk.

Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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