Category Archives: Lifestyles

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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Why You Absolutely Need to Take a Meditation Vacation

It’s a common and admirable goal to travel as a means of “finding yourself,” but sometimes the stresses of being in a new place or cramming in sightseeing opportunities can prevent travelers from actually calming down, getting centered, and coming home rejuvenated.

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Enter the meditation retreat—the ultimate antidote to burnout. Practicing mindfulness during vacation has loads of benefits:

1. It lets you slow down. By prioritizing quiet reflection, you’ll have a chance to reconnect with yourself and your own internal rhythms. Drop the distractions, affectations, and stressors, and remember what it means to just be you.

2. It teaches focus. Setting a goal to be mindful and present—in some ways, doing “nothing”—is actually really tough. Meditation forces you to learn how to stay present and committed to a goal.

3. It provides clarity. Practicing mindfulness requires you to confront personal demons and connect to inner feelings and desires, all of which increases self-awareness and empowers you to pursue goals.

4. It cultivates peace of mind. Removing external pressures and settling into a relaxing space can reduce stress, broaden your perspective, and cultivate equanimity, or the ability to calmly accept circumstances as they arise.

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How to Plan A Meditation Retreat

Intrigued? Then it’s time to get planning.

All-inclusive meditation retreats can be found around the globe, as in Nosara, Costa Rica, a favorite destination of international yogis. The Harmony Hotel, Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort, and Costa Rica Yoga Spa all offer remarkable mindfulness retreats.

Some people also choose to go the DIY route and plan their own retreat. Customizing a retreat lets you choose exactly where to be and what to do in addition to meditation. Retreats can include passive activities such as massages, meditation, acupuncture, and spa treatments or more active options like yoga, hiking, dancing, arts and crafts, or gardening—it’s all up to you!

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To plan a retreat, start by selecting a serene location full of natural beauty, whether it’s mountains, rivers, forests, or the ocean. Not sure where to go? Here are a few places that are home to some of the most popular retreat destinations:

After settling on a destination, take the time to figure out where to eat, what activities to participate in, and what you want each day to look like while on retreat—the structure is up to you, but make sure not to cram the schedule too full and to allow room for meditation each day. Do the planning in advance, and you’ll have nothing to do but relax and re-center upon arrival.

Whether you decide to attend an organized retreat or create your own at one of many remarkable destinations, the intention you bring to the experience will determine how you feel at the end of it. May the ommms be ever in your favor.

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7 Nude Beaches For Every Kind Of Traveler

For a lot of Americans, the phrase “nude beach” conjures an image that’s exotic, titillating, and a little bit naughty. For most Europeans, though, they’re just beaches. And, like all beaches, some are better than others. So, rather than leave you to your own devices, we did the legwork for you. Want to make sure there’s booze on hand? Done. Want to see some natural wonders while you’re there? Sorted. Here are our picks for the best au naturale beaches around the globe. (Don’t worry; some of them have shade.) Regardless, we humbly suggest you pack a powerful SPF. There are just some kinds of sunburn you don’t want to mess with.

1. Valalta (Rovinj, Croatia)

Part of a naturist campsite, Valalta has shade galore. If you want to go Full Monty on your trip, staying here is an option. The site boasts a pool with a bar (yes, in the pool) and a water slide, plus its own brewery. Bonus: it’s the furthest thing from local you could possibly imagine, so the odds of running into someone you’d rather not get quite that intimate with are zilch

2. Plage de Tahiti (St. Tropez, France)

St. Tropez was a major player in the topless movement of the 1960s (thanks, Brigitte Bardot), and the trend never really died. Plage is (quietly) categorized as a celebrity haunt, so you have a chance of seeing a star or deux airbrush-free. Just don’t bring your heavy-duty Canon along for the ride. A snap in the wrong place at the wrong time could get you firmly escorted from the area by a burly bodyguard. But hey, it’d make for a great travel story.

3. Bellevue Beach (Klampenborg, Denmark)

Bellevue Beach has become a summer party destination for tourists and locals alike. It sees up to 500,000 visitors a year, So, if you’re worried about getting an eyeful of a bunch of folks who will make you unable to ever look at your grandparents in the same way again, somewhere like Bellevue will be right up your alley. The loud music and raucous atmosphere make it a young person’s paradise. The beach tends to get divided by sexual orientation, so it’s prudent to do some research before committing to a location.

4. Lighthouse Beach (Fire Island, New York)

Yep, there are clothing-optional beaches right in your proverbial backyard. Tucked away in Fair Harbor, Lighthouse Beach is one of a handful of nude spots on the island. This one happens to be the most widely known, and is especially popular because of the gorgeous lighthouse that gave the mile-long stretch its name. The beach is in danger of losing its designation as a legal nude beach, so if you’re into naturist rights, you can sign the petition to save it here. Either way, it might be a reason to plan a trip sooner than later.

5. Arambol Beach (Pernem, Goa, India)

Arambol is a popular destination year round. The water is calm, though the beach itself is a bit rocky. If you get tired of the salt water, there’s a freshwater lagoon that runs (swoon) into a jungle. Getting naked here has the added benefit of giving you more surface area on which to smear Arambol’s famous mud. The sulphurous stuff is said to be wonderfully therapeutic.

6. Playa de Ses Illetes (Formentera Island, Spain)

If you throw a rock in Spain, you can probably hit a nude beach. That said, the main tourist destination for au naturale lounging (Ibiza) is overrun with revelers most of the time. Translation: not the place for a relaxing getaway. Formentera Island, reached by ferry from Ibiza, is a beautiful place to indulge at a slightly lower volume. If that wasn’t incentive enough, Playa de Illetes has stunning white sand, clear blue water, and is wading distance from another nudie favorite: Espalmador.

7. Red Beach (Crete, Greece)

If you want your trip to be about more than just nude sunbathing, Red Beach is the place. In addition to the lounging Grecian locals, you can admire ancient ruins, awe-inspiring caves, and, of course, the stunning the red rocks that set the place apart. It’s not very developed, but there’s a coffee shop with drinks and snacks to refuel throughout the day. The beach is a 15-25 minute walk from nearby Matala, and the sunset alone is worth the trip.

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The Rise Of Nude Beaches: Uncovering A Colorful Past

Nude beaches have become a fixture across Europe and the Americas in the past century, as travelers seek out spots where they can enjoy nature and the water clothes-free. For supporters, the beaches are safe and supportive places to feel closer to nature and a part of community. For visitors, they offer an experience that encourages participants to feel comfortable with their bodies and unbound by material culture. But how did nude beaches get popular in the first place? And where are the best to go?

An Olympic Past

While approved nude beaches are a relatively new development since Victorian Era mores, fans trace similar comfort with the naked body and clothes-free activities back to ancient times. Greek athletes at the earliest Olympics famously competed nude to honor Zeus and show off their honed bodies, sometimes even using olive oil to accentuate the look. Nude beach goers have swapped in sunscreen for oil, but the mentality of being comfortable with one’s body in public lives on.

That comfort for nudity among athletes has seen a revival in recent years, from the “Nude Olympics” held at Baker Beach outside San Francisco to ESPN’s recent Body Issue in which top athletes bared all. At the turn of the 20th century, however, it was a pair of German writers, Richard Ungewitter and Heinrich Pudor, who helped popularize nudism for the average person in the early 19th century.

A Healthy Alternative

Advocates of naturism, a lifestyle centered around nudity, point to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century as an unhealthy influence—both bodily and spiritually—against which people were eager to find some relief. They looked to a renewed emphasis on the outdoors as a solution, from more time outdoors to swimming and spending time in more sunlight. It was a natural extension of that philosophy to see even more benefit doing so without more fabricated clothes.

In France and Germany at the turn of the century and then in America starting in the Roaring Twenties, nudists worked to make people feel comfortable with their naked bodies and what they believed was a healthier lifestyle. Kurt Barthel helped organize what would become the first nudist club in America, the Sky Farm community in New York City and then New Jersey, in 1929. Like Ungewitter, Barthel and his allies advocated fresh-air bathing as a key activity.

Hitting the Beaches

France led the way on establishing official nude beaches across its shores in the 1950s, leading to famous beaches like those at CHM Montalivet outside Bordeaux. Popular with tourists from Germany and worldwide, the complex houses about 1,000 bungalows and has campgrounds for hundreds more. Guests of nearby hotels like the Hotel Les Vieux Acacias can enjoy sports like tennis and archery and walk a 2 mile white sand beach. Camp d’Agde, down the coast from Montpellier on the Mediterranean, is another popular destination.

Scandinavia embraced nude beaches early on as well, and now nearly 20 clothes-optional beaches stretch across Norway and almost 70 across the more populous Sweden. Nudity in Finland is also widely accepted, from saunas to steam baths and beaches.

It took a while for nude beaches to take off in the United States, where religious and societal pressures were tougher to overcome. Truro in Cape Cod, Massachusetts became a flashpoint in 1974 as the town looked to rein in what had become a large nudist population at the beach. While attending the beach nude gained in popularity, The Cape Cod National Seashore created regulations to ban the activity, helping to prompt the “Free the Beaches” movement in 1976 that helped unit nude beach goers across the United States and bring national attention to their cause.

A National Nude Weekend would launch that year, and several publications for nude beach-goers and supporters emerged. Today, the American Association for Nude Recreation charters well more than of 200 resorts and campgrounds across the U.S.

Also more recently, England has added to its list of official nude beaches in the past several decades, while Poland’s Chalupy beach become famous in part due to a 1985 hit song, “Chalupy – welcome to,” which immortalized the clothes-optional beach on the Baltic Sea.

Famous Nude Hotspots

Hundreds of nude beaches are available today, but several have stood out over the years as some of the most accessible, beautiful, and sunny.

Little Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Little Beach on the Hawaiian island of Maui isn’t an official nude beach but is famous as such, separate from Big Beach’s north end by a cliff. On Sundays, the crowd forms a drum circle for a fire dance.

Where to stay: The Lumeria Maui has beautiful park grounds a short drive away.

Red Beach, Crete, Greece

Named after its volcanic sand, Red Beach is beloved for being less crowded than other nearby beaches given its remote location on the southern shores of the island of Crete. Most visit by boat or long hike, but once at the clothes-optional location, visitors can enjoy pristine beach and caves under the cliffs.

Where to stay: Sleep in 5-star luxury at the Vergis Epavlis in nearby Heraklion.

Samurai Beach, Port Stephens, Australia

Like others on the list, Samurai Beach is a bit remote to get to, outside Port Stephens north of Sydney. Bare bones when it comes to facilities, footwear is a must to cross the dunes to the beach, where periodic nude carnivals and other activities make the spot a mecca once travelers get there.

Where to stayAnchorage Port Stephens for its gorgeous private balconies.

Wreck Beach, Vancouver, British Columbia

Canada’s first clothing-optional beach is massive, spanning 5 miles of coastline just 15 minutes’ drive from Vancouver. Monthly live music events and beach volleyball keep visitors busy, while others get even more comfortable with their bodies through massages and body painting.

Where to stay: The Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver is famous for its sleek and modern style.

Herring Cove Beach, Provincetown, Massachusetts

While nudity is technically banned across Cape Cod and the LGBQT hotspot of Provincetown, visitors to Herring Cove know that what was the state’s only active nude beach still functions as such, unofficially, on the left side of the beach. Herring Cove isn’t just beautiful; it’s an ideal place for an open mind.

Where to stayCarpe Diem Guesthouse for its clothing-optional spa.

Black’s Beach, San Diego, California

Perhaps Southern California’s most famous clothing optional beach, Black’s is a two-mile strip popular with surfers and nudists alike. An easy drive from downtown San Diego just north of La Jolla Shores, Black’s rests at the base of 300-foot cliffs that offer some quiet from gawking eyes as nude volleyball players show off their moves. Black’s doesn’t have any frills or shops, but makes up for it with its crowd.

Where to stayEmpress Hotel of La Jolla, just five blocks from La Jolla Cove.

 

jodi-eats

Jodi Eats – in Saigon, and Elsewhere

jodi-eats

Jodi recently launched her Jodi Eats food walks. Seriously, she will coordinate the best food walks ever. I just KNOW it (because I’ve eaten with her!).

For those in Saigon, or planning to visit soon, make sure you book a walk asap.

Disclosure: Jodi is a good friend. While she is NOT a foodie, she does love food.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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accumulatemoredesireless

“Enough”

accumulatemoredesireless

Obviously you aren’t surprised I agree with this. Buy less. Travel more.

[via Veronica Ludwig (on FB) via The Art of Observation]

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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Couchsurfing

Can Couchsurfing Right their Sinking Ship?

CouchsurfingI hope so.

A few months ago, I wrote a post on Tnooz detailing some steps CouchSurfing should take to revive their community. Ignoring the obvious rifts in the community and staying the course clearly wasn’t a viable option. My recommendation was to fire all their top execs, hire leaders from within the community, and then go on a full on roadshow.

This past Friday, their CEO Tony Espinoza stepped down.

I want to be very very clear on my stance on CouchSurfing, so there is no confusion.

The Couchsurfing hospitality movement is awesome, and has been for a long time. I know many, many people who have surfed all over the world and developed amazing friendships as a result. I’ve attended several meetups abroad, and met great people at them. I’m a huge fan of what Couchsurfing has stood for for a long, long time.

Oh Hey World is focused on connecting like minded people in person…regardless of what they believe in, or which websites they use or don’t use. We’re not out to make CouchSurfing go away. Far from it. In fact, I’d love to help Couchsurfing succeed by connecting surfers/hosts who are still passionate about it in a more efficient way while they travel.

As I mentioned in my original post, I still believe a roadshow is the only way to get the wheels back on the track. Someone at the top of the organization who is 100% committed to righting the ship needs to go talk face to face with the former diehard supporters, and win them back over. As such, I created a “community” page on Oh Hey World for Couchsurfers who wish to give suggestions as to how to bring the magic of the movement back and are open to speaking to others who feel the same way. The Couchsurfing community can use the group page as you see fit. If you want any of the content on it modified, I’m happy to do so – just send me an email (drew at ohheyworld). If you want to use some other platform, group, website, or app to organize yourselves and provide feedback to CouchSurfing — then that’s totally fine too.

The page can be accessed HERE.

Of course, I have no idea what is happening inside the Couchsurfing walls to know how employee moral is, as I’m not a part of the organization nor am I an active member of their community. I truly hope Couchsurfing figures out a way to right their ship. As of now, it looks bleak from the outside.

But don’t listen to me. Listen to the Couchsurfing community members (and here and here).

Note: To use the community page, you’ll have to sign into Oh Hey World, check-in to a city, and THEN visit the Couchsurfers community page. We’re currently working through the UI/UX/Design – we’ll end up with an intuitive flow focused on communities and not the check-in…but we’re not there yet.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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ivechangedstoppedtheirway

The Truth About Changing

The life of a traveler is a lifestyle that not everyone understands. I can relate to the quote/photo my Uncle Ron posted to Facebook yesterday…and I’m guessing many of the travelers reading this can, too.

ivechangedstoppedtheirway

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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