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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Top 10 Tricks for Budget Travelers

Posted on January 24th, 2013

As someone who has done a fair amount of vagabonding, I have become something of an expert on spending months on the road with very little money. People tend to think I’m secretly rich because of the amount of traveling I do, but reality couldn’t be any farther from that assumption. It all comes down to saving well, planning properly, and spending strategically.

 

Here are my personal top 10 tricks for not going broke on the road.

 

1.  Invest in good gear up-front, take care of it, and don’t lose it. Having a great pack (it is either your best friend or your worst enemy when you’re traveling), solid good footwear (I’m a big Chacos fan), and great organizers (Eagle Creek keeps me sane) will make travel more comfortable, and save you money in the long-run. I also am a strong proponent of traveling with locks, a money belt, and a good camera case, which keep valuables safe. Things getting stolen and broken cost money you could otherwise have spent on your trip.

 

2.  Make a budget. Then take that number and double it. Let’s be real, you will probably spend more than you’re expecting. So please do yourself a favor and don’t leave home without twice what you think you will spend in the bank as an emergency cushion. Do your research before leaving: Is the local currency strong against the dollar? What’s the average cost of a hostel room? How much will dinner our cost every night? How much does beer cost? (Cocktails in a place like Singapore can ring up to $18. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.) Prioritize the things you want to spend more money on, and eliminate things you can do without. I favor food over booze, and avoid countries I simply can’t afford. If your budget comes out to $4,000 for 10 weeks in Southeast Asia, keep that as your target spending, but don’t get on a plane without $8,000… or else a series of bad decisions (or just plain bad luck) could land you picking mangoes in Indonesia until you can afford the next plane ticket.

 

3.  Buy traveler’s health insurance. It’s like a couple bucks a day, and seriously worth it. You don’t want to be the girl who slips on a boat in Croatia and winds up with a massive head injury, racking up a hundred thousand dollars in European hospitals because you didn’t spend $200 on coverage before you left (true story). When I wound up getting an IV at 5am in a rural Guatemalan hospital, I was pretty happy my bills were covered.

 

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4.  Couchsurfing is your friend…and your ticket to making plenty of new ones. The hostel scene can be fun, but it gets old quick. What better way to save money while traveling than to cut your housing budget by staying with locals? It takes time to line up reliable couches (and please exercise your best judgment when selecting hosts), but the benefits are tenfold. I have had incredible Couchsurfing experiences everywhere from Taiwan to Uruguay with locals who have opened their homes – and their lives – to me. Even if it cost money, I would still pay, but the beautiful part is that it’s free! PS. Don’t forget to bring a small gift of thanks for your host!

 

5.  Learn a bit of the language (especially the bargaining vocabulary). It never hurts to sound like a local, even if it’s only a few words. If you can master greetings, numbers, and thank yous in the native tongue, you will earn major kudos, as well as probably knock down a bit of the “foreigner tax” being placed on your every move. Understanding how to bargain with a smile and a respect for the local customs will also help save some cash.

 

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6.  Eat where the locals eat. When arriving in a new town, the first thing I do is go for a walk, usually in search of my first meal. How do I find it, you wonder? I simply ask the nearest native who looks like they enjoy food as much as I do. I also learn the names of key foods I like and how to ask where something delicious to eat is in the local language. This is especially useful in touristy cities, like Rome, where a meal within a 5-mile radius of the Colosseum will leave your wallet bleeding. The Italians, though? They know where to eat 3 courses for under 10 Euro… and nothing beats the atmosphere of a local gem.

 

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7.  Skip the booze…and the hangover. Even at home, we all know that binge drinking is an expensive activity. Multiple that by the opportunity to do it 7 days a week while you’re traveling and that could easily blast a fireball through your highly flammable budget. Don’t get me wrong, I like to party, so I opt for buying a bottle of liquor and drinking with fellow backpackers at the hostel before heading out to bars, where I can then just buy 1 or 2 drinks for the night. Or, I skip excessive partying altogether and enjoy feeling refreshed and active the next day while my fellow hostel-goers are snoozing (or puking) until late in the afternoon.

 

8.  Embrace public transportation. Like most New Yorkers, I get the biggest kick out of tourists on the subway. They dance circles around themselves in Grand Central and ask for panicked help when they realize they are on the 6 train going to Harlem instead of SoHo. But I adore them for throwing themselves head-first into the New York metro system, and respect them so much more than those tourists spending $15 on that unnecessary cab ride. Public transport in any country brings you closer to the local experience, and saves a pretty penny, too.

 

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9.  Travel slower. In my opinion, doing things like hitting 11 European cities in 4 weeks is a recipe for an expensive – and exhausting – disaster. The amount of money you will spend getting around between all of those places is enough to double your spending. Additionally, you will be more likely to be in a rush to see everything, so you’ll drop money on pricey tours, eat in places closer to tourist attractions, and not have time to learn the local language and adopt ways that could otherwise save money. Instead, spending a week in 4 cities would not only require a much smaller budget, but would allow for a much more rewarding experience in each location.

 

10.  Pass on the souvenirs. For me, I could care less if I come home with Brazilian drums or fancy art or jade necklaces for all my living relatives. I prefer framing a few of my favorite pictures or keeping a journal of my experiences instead. My family and friends don’t take offense to me not bringing home foreign knick-knacks, too, which makes it easy to avoid shopping altogether. The best souvenirs are the memories you make out on the road – and those will last a lifetime!

 

There you have it, my top 10 tips and tricks for cruising the globe on the cheap! Pretty soon you’ll be trying to convince your friends you’re not a trust fund baby, too.

 

 

Have more ideas? Share your travel secrets in the comments section below!

 

 

Did you find this article helpful? Please share with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

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What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

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