On this coming Christmas Day, it will really be 20 years. It was December 25th, 1999 when I boarded a flight from the US to Bangkok and, without knowing it at the time, began my life of travel.
Two crazy decades ago. Two unbelievable decades.
I still have an extremely difficult time believing everything I’ve experienced in every corner of the world over those past 7,300 days. I have a difficult time simply coming to terms with how my life has played out so far. It’s turned into something that I could never have anticipated no matter how wild I might have allowed my imagination to be.
Over the next few months, I’m going to share several blog posts about these 20 years of travel. I’ll open up and talk about as many aspects as I can that have shaped my life and who I am. I’ll also dive deep into each powerful travel lesson learned, the range of destinations I’ve visited, the endless people I’ve encountered and the infinite moments that are responsible for keeping me on the road for so long.
Today, however, I’m going to keep it simple.
An Important Travel Lesson
With only a couple of weeks left in 2019, I thought about what I wanted to share at this time of the year.
What I came up with is a small, but vital, lesson I’ve learned during my travels near and far.
I kindly ask you to stop and listen.
That’s the lesson. To stop and listen.
You see, I get frustrated with the world, just like most people. I get angry when I reflect on the direction things seem to be headed in when it comes to politics, travel and more. I get mighty upset when I read about hatred and nastiness and a lack of basic decency towards our fellow human beings.
Even writing that sentence, the muscles in my upper arm, those very same muscles that I rely on to tell me exactly when something is bothering me, instantly tense up.
It really pisses me off.
But at the end of the day, I know that no matter how upset I am, I still need to stop and listen.
When it comes to my blog, newsletter and social media, I’ve never been one to tackle ‘the issues’. Behind the scenes I most certainly do follow global politics and I most certainly care about many important issues that we face today. But my life has always been about travel and so, I’ve always focused on my actual travels and my travels only.
Besides, I honestly struggle at times to make sense of the gap between what I’ve learned during those travels and what I often read or hear in this vast, insane online media world that surrounds us every day.
Travel lesson #2: My travels have taught me that listening to others is the single most important thing we can do to solve issues.
Not to hate or scream or call people names or refuse to hear what others say.
The reason I’ve reached this conclusion is clear. We actually don’t have a full understanding of anything most of the time. So how can we claim to have the perfect answers?
The only way to have a more complete understanding of any topic or issue is to talk to other people who think differently than we do.
Stop and listen.
It breaks down barriers, fosters understanding, builds respect and teaches lessons, and ultimately, all of that is very necessary for figuring out the world’s problems.
Of course, I get it. It’s beyond difficult at times to do this. Some things we see and hear sound so horrible to us that we can’t imagine listening to another side. I’m personally appalled by many things I read about today and about particular people who simply refuse to treat others with respect.
And so, I can fall into the trap myself.
At times, I start doing the same thing I don’t like. I start classifying and labeling people, both those I read about and those I meet, all based on my own frustration at their attempts to classify others.
What a terrible cycle to be a part of. It results in me not wanting to meet people at all, sticking with only those who think like I do, becoming more close-minded and bringing other people down as well, all due to my own negative and narrow outlook.
I temporarily forget my own valuable lesson. Stop and listen.
Luckily, I realize my mistake when it does happen and I work on breaking out of that pattern as soon as possible.
Nobody is Right and Nobody is Wrong
When I’m thinking clearly, my brain doesn’t have the capacity to comprehend the idea that there is only one way to do something…‘our way‘.
The idea that anyone who doesn’t think or act ‘our way’ is so wrong that we need to tear them apart, is a disturbing one to me.
Such a mindset ends up putting us inside of a bubble.
It’s a bubble filled only with like-minded folk who hold like-minded beliefs and who all follow like-minded media outlets. It’s safe and it helps us avoid facing other perspectives that we are not comfortable with. When that happens though, our willingness to genuinely listen to others and enter into constructive discussions disappears almost instantly.
As I mentioned above, we then tend to use our own like-minded bubble to convince us that ‘our way’ is even more right and ‘their way’ is even more wrong.
Travel lesson #3: If travel has taught me something else, it’s this… Nobody is right. And nobody is wrong.
What we think is obvious, others think is crazy. What others think is ‘right’, we may think of as evil.
Everyone is just a different human being with a different set of life circumstances. There are ALWAYS very real and unignorable reasons why we all think and behave the way we do.
We don’t have to agree. But we do have to acknowledge the above. Only then can we stop and listen, debate with true purpose and create an inclusive framework for improving and protecting our lives, our countries, our communities, our planet and so on.
The Benefits of Such a Travel Lesson
Twenty years of travel…
Over that time, I’ve spoken with Buddhist monks in Cambodia and Taliban fighters in Pakistan, shop owners in Quito and taxi drivers in Nairobi, cafe workers in Playa del Carmen and dancers on cruise ships, rabbis in Cyprus and wine makers in Romania, farmers in New Zealand and musicians in Varanasi, the homeless and wealthy, the educated and uneducated and every kind of person in between.
Yes, try sitting on a patch of grass at 11:00pm in the mountains of Pakistan, talking with a group of young, heavily armed Taliban fighters who start off by saying that they hate Americans and Jews.
What if I told you that by the end of our encounter, we were all laughing as if we had been friends for years? What if I told you that we actually made some kind of attempt to discuss their believes and mine, in a respectful way?
Believe me, that will teach you a few life lessons quite quickly. When I learned exactly where their beliefs come from and when I saw their faces as they tried to understand why I didn’t believe the same things, I’d say that night was worthwhile for everyone involved. It ended in mutual understanding and an absurd amount of hugs and handshakes.
We can fight wars and bomb the hell out of people but to me, stopping and listening is where it’s at. It’s where the solution can be found.
All the travel experiences I’ve had since 1999 have shaped my life and who I am. I am me because of the infinite perspectives that I’ve encountered, all the fascinating circumstances I’ve learned about, all of the different (and sometimes difficult) views that I’ve been forced to try and understand and all of the genuine human beings who have been willing to share their little corner of the world with me.
Had I been in some kind of small bubble over those past 20 years instead, I have no doubt that I would think quite differently about the world and about myself.
As far as I’m concerned, thank goodness I got on that plane back in 1999.
Travel lesson #4: Here’s the beauty of it all…those twenty years of travel have shown me that we all really need each other.
Trust me on that.
To make progress, everyone needs everyone else, even those we don’t agree with. It’s the only way to take a serious problem, find some common ground and turn it around.
So, with the end of the year and the end of the decade now upon us, let’s see if we can focus on popping the bubbles and melting the walls that divide us. The result will be greater understanding, greater unity and a greater desire to work together to actually get stuff done so that we can all (planet Earth included) live better lives.
That shall be the focus of my 2020. Stop and listen.
The post 20 Years of Travel: A Travel Lesson I Shall Never Forget appeared first on Wandering Earl.
I remember the days when it was almost impossible to stay connected globally. Whenever I was traveling abroad, I had to either rely solely on Wi-fi, search for the best local SIM cards and then carry multiple SIM cards everywhere I went. Of course, this was not ideal.
I had to keep track of all the cards, it all cost a decent amount of money and there was also the fear of not being able to work abroad because of the poor Wi-Fi connectivity in the places I stayed. Luckily, times have changed for the better and now with a simple eSIM card, we can travel and stay connected at the same time without too much hassle.
So, what is an eSIM card exactly?
It is basically a SIM card that is embedded in your device and allows for easy and stress-free access to the Internet when traveling to different countries. The good news is that an eSIM doesn’t require a physical SIM card and to connect, all you need to do is scan a QR code and enter a confirmation code. Then, as long as you have an unlocked eSIM-compatible device (we’ll get to this in a moment) you’re good to go.
One of the main eSIM companies is called Airalo. They are the world’s first eSIM store that offers access to more than 100 eSIMs via compatible devices at the most affordable rates. To figure out how this all works, let’s start with the basics by answering some useful questions.
1. How do I purchase an Airalo eSIM?
The easiest way to purchase an eSIM on Airalo is to visit their website (airalo.com), find the country you’re planning to visit and purchase the eSIM data plan that suits you best. If you’re traveling to different countries in one region, Airalo also offers regional eSIM data plans. For example, if I was going on a trip to Germany, Austria, and France and got their Europe eSIM, this would allow me to stay connected in all of these countries.
2. How do I install an eSIM data pack?
This is quite easy. After you purchase the eSIM, you’ll receive detailed information on how to add the purchased eSIM to your phone. But there are two options available. The first option iss to add the eSIM by scanning the QR code. The procedure is simple and involves going into your account, then to ‘settings/cellular mobile plan’, ‘add cellular/mobile plan’ and then you’ll be able to scan the eSIM QR Code and enter the 4-digit confirmation code when prompted. The other option is to add the purchased eSIM manually. I think they have this option in case you experience issues while scanning the QR code. All you have to do is follow the steps which are included in the eSIM confirmation details after your purchase.
3. How do I activate my Airalo eSIM?
With Airalo’s eSIM, it actually activates as soon as you land in the destination the eSIM is designed for. If you purchase an Airalo eSIM for India, once you land in Delhi or Mumbai or wherever your first stop is in that country, just turn on your mobile device. Make sure your data is turned on and the eSIM will automatically connect to the local network and become active. If you purchase one of the time limited eSIMs (such as one that is valid only for a week), your time begins as soon as your phone connects.
4. Can I install the eSIM before I travel?
Yes, you can install the eSIM before you hit the road, but your data pack gets activated once you reach your destination.
5. How do top-ups work?
If you need to top-up your Airalo eSim, it’s also very easy to do. Simply log in to your Airalo account (either on the website or on their app), click on ‘My eSIMs’, choose the eSIM you want to top-up, and select the top-up amount. It basically takes less than 2 minutes to finalize the purchase.
6. Does an eSIM come with a phone number?
Yes, it does, but you can also use the Dual SIM / Dual Standby technology in compatible handset models that allows you to stay connected with both your eSIM and your physical SIM simultaneously. You can also choose which of these two SIM cards you wish to use for your data connectivity.
7. Can I make phone calls with my Airalo eSIM?
Yes, you can, as long as it’s done via VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). This means, you are free to make calls via FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp and similar platforms. You cannot use the phone number itself to make phone calls.
8. Do eSIMs expire?
Most of Airalo’s eSIMs don’t expire. However, there are some exceptions, specifically when you purchase a time-limited eSIM. This includes eSIMs such as their ‘Thailand unlimited data for 8 days’. Naturally, the eSIM expires after 8 days, although you could renew it before then.
9. How can I tell if my phone is eSIM compatible?
This is quite an important question and one that you should look at before purchasing an eSIM. Airalo is expanding their list of devices that are compatible with the eSIM technology, but for now, here are the devices that can be paired with their eSIM cards:
iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro Max
iPhone XS Max
Nuu Mobile X5
Google Pixel 3 & 3XL
Google Pixel 4
Windows 10 PCs
Lenovo Yoga 630
HP Spectre Folio
iPad Air (3rd Generation)
iPad Pro (3rd Generation)
iPad Mini (5th Generation)
Motorola Razr 2019
Samsung Galaxy Fold
If you have a compatible device, this could be the ideal solution for staying connected during your travels.
It’s super simple, quite affordable and ensures you’re connected as soon as you arrive. Times certainly have changed!
The post Using an Airalo eSIM to Stay Connected While Traveling appeared first on Wandering Earl.
Whether we’re on a long-term trip overseas, enduring a busy work week or embarking on a weekend adventure, a lot of time is spent traveling between the places we visit. Although the actual ‘travel’ part of traveling can be a positive experience at times, it can also be extremely exhausting. But, what if you could get rewarded for your travels, no matter what mode of transportation you use? Sure, it sounds like a bit of gimmick, however, it’s actually quite real.
There is indeed a way to earn travel rewards for sitting in traffic, taking the subway, biking or even skiing.
The Transportation Industry and Travel Rewards
Every year people across the globe travel 25 trillion miles via some form of ground transportation. In fact, economists put $18 trillion as the cost people pay for moving from A to B through ground transport. Yet, the universal behavior of mobility goes largely unrewarded. So the question is – why are the only travel rewards programs focused solely around flying? This is where the Miles App swoops in to save the day.
How Does The Miles App Work?
Simply put, Miles is an app that delivers value for every mile traveled, across every mode of transportation – with greener forms of travel rewarded even further. The app is designed to work seamlessly in the background, logging each trip from start to end along with the mode of transportation used. For example, users who carpool or take a rideshare service earn 2x miles, those who use public transit receive 3x the miles, those who bike earn 5X, and those who walk or run earn 10x the miles. You’re even rewarded 3X the miles for skiing!
The Best Part – Getting Rewarded
You might be wondering what exactly you can do with these “miles” that you earn and accumulate throughout all your travels. They’re essentially points you can use to redeem rewards with leading brands and retailers across various categories. Rewards cost as little as 100 miles and are redeemable either online or at a nearby store. Rewards include free products and services, credits, and discounts with brands such as Target, Ray-Ban, Home Chef, Garmin, TOMS, Silvercar, YourMechanic, Chewy.com, Thrive Market, and many more. With over 200 brand partners offering exclusive specials on the Miles platform, there’s typically a reward for everyone.
But The Value Doesn’t Stop There (more travel rewards)
Miles doesn’t only work with brands to provide rewards. They also partner with cities and public transit authorities to encourage users to choose more sustainable modes of transportation. The way they do this is through what’s called a “challenge”. For example, Caltrain, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, put out a challenge to residents to take three train trips. Once completed, the user was rewarded with a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card. With challenges like this which encourage users to partake in greener forms of transportation, the Miles app incentivizes a more eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle, while providing users with rewards they love. They’re on a mission to deliver as much value for every mile traveled, all while promoting green travel. What’s there not to really like about this program?
To build up your miles quickly, there are a few things you can do. Here are some top suggestions:
Refer a friend! Every time you refer Miles to a friend, they’ll receive 1,500 miles upon sign up and you’ll receive a bonus 1,000 miles when they complete their first trip.
Use eco-friendly forms of transportation whenever possible. The bus and train give you 3X the miles, biking 5X, and when walking & running you earn 10X the miles.
Take a road trip with friends! Carpooling gives you 2X the miles, and your friend gets to earn along with you.
Get 250 bonus miles when you use this exclusive code given to me by the Miles team – “earl2019”. It needs to be used soon though as it’s only valid through 12/31/2019 and only for the first 500 users!
So, if you have a chance, I highly recommend downloading the Miles app. There’s no other app out there that offers rewards for all forms of ground travel like Miles does. They’re also constantly adding new reward options and challenges which are not only exciting and fun, but well worth the bonuses you receive!
The post How To Get Rewarded For Every Mode of Transportation You Use appeared first on Wandering Earl.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren on stage Saturday, Jan. 5, during her first trip to Des Moines, Iowa, after launching an exploratory committee for 2020. Travel advisor executives are cautiously optimistic that 2020 will not mirror any downturns seen in prior election years. Joe Crimmings / Flickr
Donald Trump speaks during a tax bill passage event in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 20, 2017. The 2020 U.S. presidential election could affect travel advisor sales, yet agency executives are still confident that the year ahead will closely mirror 2019’s unprecedented growth. Patrick Semansky / Associated Press
New Orleans street musicians delight visitors. Travelers are increasingly tying their travel plans to their musical inclinations. Zack Smith / New Orleans and Co.
This April 13, 2012 photo shows festivalgoers running toward the main stage to catch the beginning of Kendrick Lamar’s set during the first weekend of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California. Music is playing an increasing role in travel plans. Chris Pizzello / Associated Press