Travelvice II

This is part two of an interview with Craig from Travelvice. You can read part one here.

Say I’m a 25-year-old educated guy and I think travel may be the answer to my quarter life crisis. And I like girls. Where should I go? And where should I not go?

Big regions of the world that I’ve explored and can speak with some modest authority on: the Caribbean, Latin America, SE Asia, and Eastern Europe (including Turkey).

In SE Asia you’re in a better position to get laid than in other places in the world because the tourist girls aren’t very interested in doin’ dirt with the local men. So for the vast majority of opportunities this mindset eliminates a lot of competition. Add to the mix that you also probably want to sample some Asian fare, and you’ve got a large market of tasty possibilities.

Argentine assThe downside to SE Asia is that you’ve got a lot of stress placed on your physical characteristics. It’s the tropics buddy, and if you’re not looking okay topless in a swimsuit (or at least confident and fun loving with your approaches), you could be having problems (as the cut Aussie standing next to you with the ‘cute, exotic’ accent will certainly put you in check).

SE Asia is also full of couples and groups and almost zero hostels. This is a very challenging place to be without a friend, as you should be getting private rooms nearly 100% of the time and the bulk of the socializing is done at the bar. Traveling alone and don’t drink socially? You’re probably gonna be sleeping alone every time unless you want to pay to play.

You want a controlled dose of decaying Latin American structures, mixed with plenty of new foods and flavors of women to frolic with in the sheets? Peru is your spot my friend.

While places like Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil and Ecuador hold a special little place in my heart for such things, Peru has the proper balance for a short-term vacation, and the geographic placement to explore the continent should you have the time or desire. One-way flights on SpiritAir from Fort Lauderdale to Lima are almost always less than $300.

My suggestion for Central America would have to be Guatemala. Pretty easy to get off the tourist trail if you’d like, lots of things to experience with opportunity for neighboring countries, and just a crap load of tourists from all over the world, many of whom are getting their feet wet for the first time in Latin America. (It’s very, very easy to get laid in the popular backpacker city of Antigua.)

But I had a friend of Iranian descent that just slays women in the States because he’s aggressive and has a different ‘exotic’ look about him, but he failed miserably in a place like Argentina, where black hair, ‘exotic’ features and aggressive men are the status quo. Avoid Argentina if you’re looking to get laid, as the competition is high and the women are slow to lower their defenses and move past a certain point. It’s a great place to admire some great looking females and enjoying some excellent wine and steak, though.

I’d certainly avoid the Caribbean if you’re looking to get some lovin’. Unless you’re on some sort of cruise ship thing where you can hammer away at your opportunities over the duration, you’ll probably be out of luck. On many islands local girls have children by 15 or 16, and tourists tend to stick to their resorts or ships. Puerto Rico might be the exception, but then again, why limit yourself to just one island when you can have a continent of opportunities for a fraction of the price?

And finally, if you’re into ugly beaches but tight Aussie and Kiwi bodies, Kuta Beach (on the island of Bali) in Indonesia is your spot. Shit, shit beaches and generally a shoulder-shrugging environment, but the place is truly hedonism at its finest. (Although Thailand is far more accessible a place, and just as ripe for debauchery.)

Colombian soul food... 20 centsUltimately, the wonderful thing is that the pretty girl you might never have had a chance with is sitting across the table from you in a foreign country, and you know you automatically have both travel in common. Use that and run with it—everyone does (exhaustingly so, sometimes).

Your ability to travel very cheap is well-known. What is your strategy when it comes to spending less but still getting a good experience? What are some common ways you see other travelers wasting their money?

The cost strategy totally varies by location, but it starts with something as simple as budget: I have none. I’m all the time looking for the angles to spend as little as possible for the greatest benefit. Saving money one day doesn’t mean I splurge the next. You’ve got to purge that mentality from your mind. Spend when and where it’s warranted, haggle, and always ask for a discount or what the weekly rate is for rooms even if you’re not going to stay that long.

I’ll tell you flat out right now that the biggest budget killer for travelers is alcohol. If you’re drinking with any regularity, add $10-15/day to your shoestring budget. I’m typically in a situation when my private room costs the same price as a beer or two. I know that for every drink that I buy, that’s money that I could’ve used to live in the city another night. Men, you need to learn to get laid without getting drunk.

The second big budget killer is restaurants and traveling too fast (transport costs money). Outside of Eastern Europe (where I’m cooking nearly 100% of my meals in a kitchen), I’m eating off the streets. Street vendors are your friends. They’re an excellent source of information, and you can see exactly what the condition of their food is. I don’t trust the mystery of a restaurant kitchen, where cockroaches and bacteria thrive. But if you have to eat at one, eat at a popular place with locals. The food is less likely to have been sitting there for hours or days before being served to you (which they will have no qualms doing).

And for the love of God, stop buying so much bottled water (another huge budget killer). If the locals are drinking it, so should you. I’ve got an infant son that’s been drinking the tap water since he was born, in a dozen countries all over the world, and he’s amazingly healthy. Just be sure to put a good amount of yogurt in your diet to help foster the good bacteria in your belly. The sooner you acclimate to the local bugs, the less loose stools you’ll be having. Don’t like the taste or you’re just afraid? Put some of that sugar-free Tang stuff in there (available everywhere). Now you’re drinking liquid mango–problem solved. Americans may want to watch this video: Bottled Water is Bullshit.

At the heart of any long-term penny-pinching traveler, you’ll find a generally adaptable person. Someone that modifies their tactics according to the way the game is played in the country they’re in.

Craig & Aidric IIIHere in Europe, I’ve been spending only dollars a day in one of the most frighteningly expensive places on the planet. How have I done it? By adapting to the environment. Six months of continuous CouchSurfing has allowed me to have the all the perks of a home, without having to endure the $35/night rates for dorm beds in the same city. Instant cultural immersion, oddities explained, questions answered, access to local insights, and regular Internet access. It’s been an amazing experience, and my total spending comes out to be something around $250 a month!

Good travelers are resourceful by nature.

With so many places to visit, how do you prioritize which cities and countries and step foot into? Do you have travel by schedule or plan or do you play it by ear? What advice do you have for someone who doesn’t even know where to start when it comes to picking places to go?

The only plan is that there is no plan.

I learned a long time ago that planning much more than two weeks in advance is wasted energy. I’ve usually got a general direction that I’m always sort of headed in, but the specifics of the cities and how to get there are always a mystery until I’m ready to make the next jump. Back before I had the family in tow, I was a big fan of jumping on a bus and randomly getting off at an anonymous city that looked good. It’s a little more complicated these days, but it’s still pretty much unplanned.

You need not let your budget dictate where you want to go. If you’re serious about doing it up at shoestring levels (< $10/day), then you'll find ways to do it. CouchSurfing in Europe only takes dollars a day. My general advice would be to pick a place where you can relocate overland easily, into countries you're curious about. Figure out what you're after: beer, monuments, girls, local insights, archeology---whatever. Look for parts of the world that pique your interest, and book the cheap one-way flight to the biggest airport. Land yourself at a popular hostel or CouchSurfing host, and you'll absorb more stories and advice than you can handle. You'll be on your way in no time. CONTINUED: Part 3

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