It Was the Best of Times; it Was the Worst of Times

With people often asking me the best and worst places for certain types of travel I’m kicking off my list of the best and worst travel destinations in a few different categories…offering advice and of course my personal successes and, well, less successful dabbles in these arenas.

These will be bias based on the places I’ve been – so check out the travel map

 

Western Europe on a Budget – The Best :

Madrid, Spain

If you’re looking for a taste of Europe, but want to spend a modest amount of money on your travels you should absolutely be kicking it in Spain. The low cost of living, cheap and easy transport, and laid back lifestyle make this a totally doable European destination. The best part is you don’t sacrifice on culture, architecture, accommodation, food, etc. Madrid is overflowing with stunning buildings, quaint cafes, and impressive parks. Add in the bonus of tons of fun and cheap day trips and there’s really no reason not to pick this awesome city. Did I mention it’s sunny there on the reg?

 

Western Europe on a Budget – The Worst:

London, England

Dear England, why do you make it impossible to have any joy? By joy I mean basically everything from a place to sleep to a cab fare, to anything in between because it all costs so much. Sure, there are often pretty good flight deals from the US to the motherland, but once there I’d very much like to eat, sleep, and maybe have a beverage or two in your lovely cities. What kills me the most is the currency conversion. They take my uniform stack of American dollars and then hand me back a much much smaller spattering of notes with the queen on them, mocking my tiny pile of money which will buy me nothing. It’s just too hard. Is there a way to do England on a budget? Idk I spent all of my time in the tiniest hotel room of all time where there wasn’t room for my backpack on the floor if I too was standing there while all of my money was mercilessly pried from my hands. Also the weather is shit.

 

Teaching English Abroad: The Best

If you want to actually make money teaching English you need to get yourself to Asia. I haven’t personally taught there, but a few of my close friends have and this is really the only region to make a profit teaching ESL. With a high demand for teachers you’ll find it fairly easy to get a desirable job paying you enough to have amazing adventures in your down time. Many also cover the cost of your flight, and arrange housing for you. You’ll have the benefit of having the details of your job sorted before you arrive.

 

Teaching English Abroad : The Worst

Europe. I taught English in Spain, and while I did make enough money to survive, money was tight. Many countries like Germany don’t have any demand, and Spain would be the best bet for finding a job if you’re set on Europe. That being said, you will find it difficult to get a visa, and most teachers work for cash under the table. Because of that you cannot open a bank account, and may also find it difficult to get an apartment as you’ll have no proof of income or legitimate banking. It can be done, but this is more a job of survival rather than an avenue to bank money for travel funding. It also doesn’t allow you funds for jaunts around Europe – you’ll need to have a padded savings account for this. Here, you will most likely need to interview in person, so you’ll be buying a flight with no guarantee of finding work. I did it this way, and it’s not for the faint of heart. I’m really glad I did it, but this is not a lucrative avenue.

 

First Time Travelling: The Best

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If you’re stepping out of your comfort zone for the first time its Ireland for the win. Language barriers are stressful, frustrating, and prohibitive, so going somewhere where you can ask for help or order food helps with the transition. There’s a lot to see without feeling overwhelmed, and there’s a general feeling of friendliness. The shared language also means you’ll be chatting with locals and less likely to feel isolated.

First Time Travelling: The Worst

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Of the places I’ve been I’d say the worst pick for a first timer is Morocco. The cultural differences can be a bit off-putting and unless you’re well versed in the local language and customs it can be pretty overwhelming. Of the more popular tourist destinations my worst destination for first time adventurers is the Netherlands. It’s no secret that I didn’t warm to the country during my visit. I don’t think it’s a terrible place, but if I’m ranking visiting experiences (which I am) this one would just happen to fall near the bottom. I think for first time travelers seeing a specific site is a great way to give your trip focus, like seeing the Eiffel tower, or the Duomo in Florence. Cities lacking that focus can make it hard for a first time traveler to plan out a trip and it feels pretty cool the first time you see one of those significant landmarks.

 

Ideally European – The Best

Florence, Italy

If you haven’t been to Europe and are looking to spend time in one place that feels “European” Florence is an awesome option. Though there are plenty of countries and cities that are equally lovely, Florence and Tuscany offer a little bit of everything. Moderate prices, old world charm, history, amazing vistas, and unbeatable food. You can mix it up with city tours and day trips where you can enjoy the amazing landscapes.

Ideally European – The Worst

England really does feel like its own little world. If you’re coming from the States and want a new vibe you may not find what you’re looking for in Merry Old England. Having been to England twice, I always feel like mainland Europe has a distinct vibe you won’t fine in her Majesties realm. While both have their merits they are definitively different. The Brits being on their own currency basically sums it up.

I’m hoping that one of these days I’ll have a best category that England fits into – which is actually positive  – and while making these lists I do feel a bit bad about the negative overview I often tie to the place. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

 

What have been your best and worst travel destinations?!

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