Nick's Travel Bug http://nickstravelbug.com Live Vicariously Through Yourself Wed, 22 Jul 2015 01:16:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Breaking My 3rd World Record by Eating Breakfast in Bed! http://nickstravelbug.com/wds/world-record-breakfast-in-bed/ http://nickstravelbug.com/wds/world-record-breakfast-in-bed/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 00:26:54 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5991 Last week in Portland, I participated in, and broke, my 3rd Guinness World Record! Out of the 3, I think this was definitely the laziest attempt. The record was for the most people eating breakfast in bed together in Portland Courthouse Square. We broke the record with 600 awesome people eating waffles together in the middle … Read More

Breaking My 3rd World Record by Eating Breakfast in Bed! is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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Last week in Portland, I participated in, and broke, my 3rd Guinness World Record! Out of the 3, I think this was definitely the laziest attempt. The record was for the most people eating breakfast in bed together in Portland Courthouse Square. We broke the record with 600 awesome people eating waffles together in the middle of downtown Portland.

Breakfast in Bed

Everyone started to trickle in around 8:30am and luckily they had coffee and Voodoo donuts for us while waiting in line. On top of the world record attempt, there was also a competition for the best pajamas. There were a lot of good contenders.

Breakfast in Bed Record Pajamas Contest Breakfast in Bed Record Shark pajamas Breakfast in Bed Record

The setup was 4 people per bed and 2 beds together, so 8 people really. Next, all of the wonderful volunteers that made the whole event possible started distributing the actual breakfast foods to everyone. It consisted of a breakfast burrito, oatmeal with yogurt, and a banana.

Breakfast in Bed Record

 

Finally was the moment everyone had been waiting for…the WAFFLES!

World Record Breakfast in Bed

 

Here’s a video recap of the event:

We also happened to make it onto the news. If you watch closely, you’ll see my face for a quick second!

I’ve said this before, but it’s truly amazing what can be achieved when a determined group of people come together with a common goal in mind. This wasn’t simply eating breakfast in bed, but also a special community service project. The 160 beds used for the record were donated to PDX Restore and Community Warehouse to be given to local Portland families in need.

Cheers to waffles, world records, and making a meaningful impact on the world!

Breaking My 3rd World Record by Eating Breakfast in Bed! is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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How I Became a Serial Traveler (and How You Can, Too!) http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-advice/how-i-became-a-serial-traveler/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-advice/how-i-became-a-serial-traveler/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 23:20:12 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5932 A long, long time ago, I can still remember… Oh wait. A question I get asked a lot is how I got started traveling and I how I caught the infamous travel bug. I’ve told this story so many times that I thought I’d actually write it out for you here today. Here we go. … Read More

How I Became a Serial Traveler (and How You Can, Too!) is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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A long, long time ago, I can still remember…

Oh wait.

A question I get asked a lot is how I got started traveling and I how I caught the infamous travel bug. I’ve told this story so many times that I thought I’d actually write it out for you here today. Here we go.

A long time ago, in a land far away, a dashing young lad named Nick…

Oh wait.

We’re getting closer.

So you’re wondering how this whole journey began, how I became a serial traveler, and how Nick’s Travel Bug came to be.

The first time I had really been outside the U.S. was when I studied abroad in Barcelona the summer of my senior year in college. I pushed my graduation back by a semester so I could go live abroad for a couple of months and get another season of student football tickets. It turns out this was one of the greatest decisions I ever made. To this day, Barcelona is still my favorite city in the world, has some of the best food you’ll find anywhere (mmmm…paella!), and is where I met some of still closest friends. Little did I realize at the time how large of an impact that summer would have on my life. After living in Barcelona, I traveled around for a few weeks through Spain, Italy, and my first time to London. The only reason I came home that summer was because I had kind of run out of money (a common trend you’ll see here).

I guess you could say that’s when I was bitten by the travel bug.

I made the journey home, remembering all the crazy times I had with my new friends in Spain. That last semester of college I felt like a new person, knowing that there was this entire world out there that was begging to be explored. So during those few months I saved up as much money as I could, graduated in December, and bought a one-way ticket back to Europe shortly thereafter.

It was on March 1, 2009, that my next journey, and this blog, began. On the extremely slim chance that you actually followed this blog back then (Hi Mom!), it was more of a daily journal for friends and family to keep up with what I was doing rather than the collection of stories and travel tips it’s turned into more than 6 years later. I backpacked around Europe for nearly 6 months until (again) running out of money and having to head back home. Throughout that trip I met loads and loads of great friends that I still keep in touch with today and some that I’ve met up with in various parts of the world since then.

Nick Florence

 

I truly believe that travel is one of those things that, the more you do it, the more you will continue to want to do it. Not to sound too woo-woo or anything, but travel really changes who you are. I learned more about life in the deep, philosophical conversations I had with people I met on the road than I could have ever learned in school. Once you go on your first trip, your 20th trip, or your 100th trip, you’ll sit and daydream about the tropical destinations you’ve seen in photos your entire life and you’ll always be pricing out flights for where you can jet off to next.

Anyway, back to the story.

My “life plan” during most of the time I was in college was to graduate at the top of my class and get a high-powered finance job on Wall Street, not have a life for 2-3 years as an analyst, but make tons of money in the process. I had gone to New York and Chicago for interviews with some big banks and consulting firms and probably would have had some job offers had I not graduated at the height of the worst market crash since the Great Depression. It’s funny how unexpected events can lead to much better opportunities than you could have ever imagined.

Once I got back from my extended Europe trip, I worked at a really small company for several months before going back to work for the large Fortune 100 company I had interned at while in college. After almost a year working there I decided I was going to use all my vacation at once (a whopping 2.5 weeks I think) and go to Costa Rica. After I returned from my incredible 3-week trip in Central America, I found out that some people at my company weren’t so happy that I had taken that much time off. Apparently when people are miserable and work themselves into oblivion, they’re unable to comprehend others enjoying their lives to the fullest. After a couple of weeks of being back in the country and “Pura Vida” constantly running through my head, my company and I decided to part ways. At the time I was a bit distressed about it, but it turns out that was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Rafting Pacuare River

 

Now you might be wondering what I’ve been doing ever since then. At first I did a few short-term contract jobs, but that really wasn’t very fulfilling. Then a guy I had met a while back called me up one day to ask me if I’d like to work on a small consulting team to help a company go through a billion-dollar merger. Since I was really into finance, I thought this sounded amazing and it turned out to be a great experience. I learned so much working directly with the Controller and CFO of that company to help them get through the merger. From then on I knew consulting was what I wanted to do. It’s an opportunity to learn a lot and be challenged, have a meaningful impact on businesses, and most importantly, have a flexible schedule so I can travel as often as I’d like. Since then I’ve worked with several other clients on a short-term basis and take off and travel in between. I’ve been shooting to be on the road 3-4 months out of the year and that seems like a pretty good amount to me right now.

If you take anything away from this story, it should be that you can always choose the kind of life you want to live. There are lots of challenges in the world that need to be solved and lots more adventures to be had. Don’t ever feel like you have to lead a certain life because that’s what’s expected of you. You have to blaze your own path, whatever that may be. No 2 people are ever going to be on the same path to being personally fulfilled in their lives. Just remember that your only limit in this world is your own imagination. I’ll leave you with this, one of my favorite quotes:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Travel often, create adventures, and live vicariously through yourself!

Cheers!

Nick

How I Became a Serial Traveler (and How You Can, Too!) is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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How to Buy Tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympics http://nickstravelbug.com/brazil/rio-2016-olympics-tickets/ http://nickstravelbug.com/brazil/rio-2016-olympics-tickets/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 23:00:48 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5914 After going through the ticket buying process 4 years ago for the 2012 London Olympics, I thought I’d offer some insight on getting into the draw for the Rio 2016 Olympics tickets. The first round of the ticket draw opened last week, but only for Brazilian citizens at this point. Each country has a specific … Read More

How to Buy Tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympics is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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After going through the ticket buying process 4 years ago for the 2012 London Olympics, I thought I’d offer some insight on getting into the draw for the Rio 2016 Olympics tickets. The first round of the ticket draw opened last week, but only for Brazilian citizens at this point. Each country has a specific ticket reseller and you can check the list here. For U.S. citizens, the reseller is CoSport and Individual Ticket Requests open up on April 23, 2015 and run through May 4, 2015. Sign up for their mailing list to get updates.

Buying Your Tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympics

1) Before you put your ticket order in, do some serious event planning. Events are grouped around certain venues or certain parts of town. You don’t want to be trying to get across in the short amount of time between events, especially with the huge crowds of people who will be in town. Try and pick 2-3 events per day that in the same venue or general area. Here is the link for the ticket program with event schedules and venue information.

2) Put in for a lot more events than you think because it is a lottery for tickets and you’re not guaranteed any of the tickets you put in for. For example, when I was planning for the London Olympics I placed an order for 10 events ranging from swimming to cycling to judo. When the confirmations came, I only got 2 out of the 10 and they were 2 of my ‘filler’ events. Now fencing and badminton were both fun to watch, but they definitely weren’t my first choices. So keep that in mind and order several more events than you plan to go to.

3) You probably have a better chance at getting tickets for events if you go up a price tier or 2 for your favorite sports. Everyone (including myself) was vying for the cheapest event tickets, which for London were around 20 pounds a piece and I think there will be similar pricing for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

4) It was surprisingly tough (almost impossible) to show up and buy event tickets in London. The Olympic Committee really cracked down on ticket scalpers during all the events. There was a waitlist for any unclaimed tickets at the ticket office, but there was a long list and only a handful of tickets. There wasn’t an official ticket exchange that you could take part in, so you’re out of luck unless you happen to run into someone with extras. I expect things will be the same for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

5) If you want to save some money, plan on being in Brazil for the preliminary events during the first week and a half. Ticket prices go up for each round so unless you plan on spending a fortune for finals tickets for your favorite event, try to visit earlier on.

I hope this provides some insight for the process of getting your Rio 2016 Olympics tickets. Are you planning on going down to Brazil for the Olympics next summer? If so, I’ll see you there!

How to Buy Tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympics is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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6 Tips for Managing Your Money on the Road http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-advice/managing-your-money-on-the-road/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-advice/managing-your-money-on-the-road/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 23:42:10 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5882 Managing your money on the road can be challenging sometimes. On one hand, you definitely don’t want to run out or pay extra fees that can be avoided. On the other hand, you don’t want to spend significant amounts of time on your trip budgeting and tracking. I’m going to show you several ways you can … Read More

6 Tips for Managing Your Money on the Road is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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Managing your money on the road can be challenging sometimes. On one hand, you definitely don’t want to run out or pay extra fees that can be avoided. On the other hand, you don’t want to spend significant amounts of time on your trip budgeting and tracking. I’m going to show you several ways you can have the best of both worlds and help you make your hard-earned money go as far as possible.

1) Open a Charles Schwab Investor Checking Account specifically for your travels

This is my #1 tip that I tell everyone. The reason I love this account so much is that you get reimbursed for ATM fees anywhere in the world, no foreign transaction fees when using your debit card, no minimum deposits to open the account, and no monthly maintenance fees. That means that you can take out small amounts of money every few days with no penalty rather than taking out a huge amount all at once. Most debit and credit cards charge 2-3% of each purchase as a foreign transaction fee. You might not think it’s much each time, but those fees add up over time. At the end of every month you’ll see a credit to your account for any ATM fees you get charged, anywhere in the world.

Also, this account should be separate from your main bank account at home. If someone should get ahold of your card or information, you don’t want to be totally stuck with no money.

2) Apply for a credit card with no foreign transaction fees

Probably the 2 best travel cards you can get are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Barclays Arrival Plus World cards. Both give you a really good signup bonus (40,000-50,000 miles depending on when you sign up) and don’t charge foreign transaction fees. Plus, these both have chips embedded in them so you can use them with the special ATM machines they have in Europe and the UK (and will have in the US starting this Fall).

Note: To get the signup bonuses, you must spend $3,000-$4,000 in the first 90 days you have the card. It’s not worth getting the miles bonus if you don’t spend and pay off those amounts in that time period. Wait until you have a significant purchase to make, or you can pay normal expenses like rent and just pay them off like you normally would.

3) Go to local ATMs rather than exchanging money at the airport

The exchange you’ll get at one of the money changers at the airport is never going to be very good. You’re better off going into town and going to a local ATM. If for some reason you have to get money at the airport, find a bank ATM. You’ll get a better exchange rate and, if you have the Charles Schwab card I mentioned above, you’ll get reimbursed for the fees.

4) Try and stick to a rough daily budget, but only calculate the average for the week

The way to figure out a daily budget is to take your total budget for the trip, subtract out plane tickets and other up-front expenses, divide that amount by the total number of days you’re planning on traveling, then knock a couple dollars off that in case unexpected expenses come up (and trust me, they will). This will give you a pretty good daily budget number. Also keep in mind that this number may shift up or down depending on what part of the world you’re traveling in. For example, your daily budget will be significantly lower while traveling in Southeast Asia versus traveling around Western Europe.

When tracking your spending, don’t do it every day. First, you’ll drive yourself nuts. Second, you want to be spending your time out exploring and doing cool things in the place you’re visiting. My recommendation is to track your bank account once a week. Since you’re using a separate bank account for your travels (as mentioned above) anything running through that account should be related to your trip. Take the ending balance from the previous less the current balance and divide by 7 days. Doing this averages things out as there will be days you spend more and days you spend less. If I have a big night out one day, then I might try and balance it out a bit the next day. As long as your weekly average is roughly in line with your original daily budget then you’re going to be in good shape.

5) Keep an extra credit card (and an extra ATM card if possible) stashed somewhere in your luggage

It’s good to have an extra card or 2 in case of emergency. Whether you lose the card(s) you have on you, they fall in the ocean (been there), or get stolen for some reason, it’s good to have backups you can rely on. You don’t want to be in the middle of your trip and totally stuck because you can’t access your money. Keep your extra cards in a ziploc bag and stashed somewhere in your luggage so you can easily access them if need be.

6) Keep your passport and extra money in a money belt while you’re in transit

While you’re in transit between destinations, you don’t want to be an easy target for a pick-pocketer. When you’re not checking in at the airport or showing your passport on a train keep it, along with extra money you are carrying, in a money belt around your waste. Keep enough money for the day in your pocket in a money clip, so if you lose only that it’s not the end of the world.

At the end of the day, you don’t want to be constantly worrying about your finances while you’re traveling. You want to be enjoying the destination you’re in. These tips for managing your money on the road will help you stretch your money further, be able to travel longer, and create more adventures along the way!

Do you have some more tips for managing your money on the road? Leave them in the comment section below and let’s have a discussion around best practices.

6 Tips for Managing Your Money on the Road is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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The Museum of the Weird in Austin http://nickstravelbug.com/usa/museum-of-the-weird/ http://nickstravelbug.com/usa/museum-of-the-weird/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 22:32:36 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5839 A three-eyed two-faced cow? An elephant man? An ice man? These are some of the star attractions at the Museum of the Weird in Austin, Texas. The city’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” and there’s no better place to experience that than at this museum. It’s also fun to play tourist in your own town once … Read More

The Museum of the Weird in Austin is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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A three-eyed two-faced cow? An elephant man? An ice man?

These are some of the star attractions at the Museum of the Weird in Austin, Texas. The city’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” and there’s no better place to experience that than at this museum. It’s also fun to play tourist in your own town once in a while.

The Elephant Man at the Museum of the Weird

First up was the ‘Elephant Man’. Born with some severe deformities, Joseph Carey Merrick was exhibited as a human curiosity (a.k.a. a freak) at shows and carnivals around England. Doctors and scientists could never really explain the cause of Merrick’s condition and he passed away at the young age of 27.

Three-Eyed Two-Faced Cow at the Museum of the Weird

The next interesting item was this three-eyed two-faced cow, supposedly born alive, and lived for a full 2 weeks on a farm in Pennsylvania. It’s pretty strange, as you can probably tell.

Two-Headed Chicken at the Museum of the Weird

Next is a two-headed chicken. What do you think, is it real?

Here are a few other weird things from the museum, including a zombie and a skeleton pirate.

Zombie Man at the Museum of the Weird

 

Skeleton Pirate at the Museum of the Weird

Lastly, there was a sword swallower who put on a show for us. If it wasn’t impressive enough that he swallowed what was probably an 18-inch sword, he also started juggling while it was down his throat. I don’t really understand the physics of the whole thing, but it’s fun to watch.

Sword Swallower Juggling at the Museum of the Weird

Whether or not this is all real (you be the judge), the Museum of the Weird in Austin is an entertaining way to spend an hour of your afternoon.

Have you been to anything similarly weird or strange? Let’s hear some good stories in the comments below.

The Museum of the Weird in Austin is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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