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12 Things I’d Tell Any New Traveler

Hope. Fear. Excitement. Traveling for the first time produced a wave of emotions.

When I left to travel the world on my first round-the-world trip, I didn’t know what to expect.

Now, with fifteen years of travel experience under my belt, I know better. Traveling is second nature to me now. I land in an airport and I just go on autopilot.

But, back then, I was as green as they come.

To compensate for my lack of experience, I followed my guidebooks and wet my feet by going on organized tours. I was young and inexperienced and I made a lot of rookie travel mistakes.

I know what it’s like to just be starting out and have a mind filled with questions, anxieties, and concerns.

So, if you’re new to travel and looking for advice to help you prepare, here are 12 tips that I’d tell a new traveler to help them avoid some of my early mistakes:

1. Don’t Be Scared

Fear is a powerful deterrent. Taking the leap into the unknown is scary, but remember: you aren’t the first person to travel the world. You aren’t discovering new continents or exploring uncharted territories.

There is a well-worn travel trail out there and people to help guide you along the way. If millions of people can make their way around the world each year, you can too.

You’re just as capable as anyone else. After all, you did the hardest part: deciding to go. Having the courage to make that decision is the hardest part.

You’ll make mistakes. Everyone does. But that’s part of the experience.

There will be lots of people out there to help you. You’ll be shocked at just how helpful and kind people are. You’ll make friends, you’ll survive, and you’ll be better for it.

2. Don’t Live by Your Guidebook

Guidebooks are useful for a general overview of a destination. They’re a great way to learn the basics and get introduced to the cities and countries you plan to visit. But you’ll never find the latest off-the-beaten-path attractions, bars, or restaurants in them.

For the latest info (as well as insider tips), connect with locals. Use websites like Meetup.com or Couchsurfing to connect directly with local and expats so you can get suggesitons, advice, and tips to make the most of your trip.

Additionally, ask other travelers you meet or the staff at your hotel/hostel. Visit the local tourist board as well. It’s a wealth of information that often gets overlooked.

In short, use a guidebook for the foundation of your plans but fill in the details with up-to-date info from locals.

You can also use travel blogs for planning tips since they are updated more often than guidebooks.

3. Travel Slow

This is something most new long-term travelers learn the hard way (myself included).

I know it can be tempting to pack in as many cities and activities as possible. (This is especially true if you only have a few weeks of vacation.)

But rushing from city to city every other day is just going to leave you exhausted and stressed out. You’ll experience a whirlwind of activity, most of which will remain a blur when you look back on it. Sure, you’ll have some great pictures for Instagram but is that really why you’re traveling?

Travel is about quality, not quantity. Don’t worry about how much you see. Don’t worry about trying to impress people with the number of countries you’ve visited. Slow down and soak up your destinations. You’ll learn more, enjoy it more, and have a much more memorable experience.

When it comes to travel, less is more. (Plus, traveling slow helps reduce your transportation costs. It’s cheaper to go slow!)

4. Pack Light

When I went to Costa Rica in 2003, I brought a bag filled with tons of stuff: hiking boots and pants, a fleece jacket, too much clothing, and my bodyweight in toiletries. And it all sat in my bag, mostly unused.

I was packing for “just in case” and “what if” instead of the reality of my trip.

While it can be tempting to bring more than you need “just in case,” remember this: you can buy things on the road. Socks, shampoo, jackets, new shoes — you can find it all aborad. There’s no need to bring everything and the kitchen sink.

So, pack light. You’ll have less to carry, saving you the hassle and stress of lugging a huge backpack around for weeks (or months) on end.

Unless you are going somewhere cold, a bag around 40 liters will suffice. Bags around this size are easier to carry, don’t get too unwieldy, and can fit on your flight as carry-on only if need be (a huge perk if you want to save yourself some headaches).

Here’s everything you need to know to help you find the perfect bag for your budget and your trip.

5. Get Travel Insurance

Whether you’re a travel veteran or a brand new backpacker, don’t leave home without making sure you’re protected in case something goes wrong. As we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, sudden emergencies can come out of nowhere.

I’ve had my luggage lost. I popped an eardrum in Thailand. I was knifed in Colombia.

I’ve had a friend break bones, need to be helicoptered out of the Amazon, or fly back due to a sudden death.

Stuff happens.

To ensure you’re protected, buy travel insurance.

I never leave home without it because I know just how quickly things can go sideways.

You never know what might happen. The road is filled with uncertainty. Make sure you’re protected. It will also give you peace of mind and help you travel with confidence.

Here are a few posts worth reading. I know it’s not a fun or sexy topic, but it’s an important one!

Is Travel Insurance Worth it?

The 7 Best Travel Insurance Companies

World Nomads Insurance Review

6. Bring a Phone (and Get Local SIM Cards)

Having a phone with data means you can look up directions on the fly, make reservations, and contact emergency services if something happens.

Sure, there is free wifi pretty much everywhere these days so buying a local SIM card for data might seem like a waste of money (especially if you’re on a really, really tight budget) but having that immediate access to roaming data can be a lifesaver.

If you’re from the US and traveling for less than 3 months, T-Mobile has reliable data plans. Google Fi is another great option too.

Additionally, having a phone makes it easier to connect and stay in touch with travelers you meet.

Simply put: having a phone is really helpful in this day and age.

Just don’t stay glued to it all the time.

7. Go with the Flow

When every day is planned out and there are timetables to follow, you’ll get stressed. Very stressed. You’ll rush around and be unhappy if there are any glitches in your well-curated schedule.

And there will be hiccups. And glitches. And all kinds of inconveniences, both major and minor. Life on the road doesn’t always go as planned — which is both fun and frustrating.

When you plan too much, there’s no room to experience the happy accidents of travel. There’s no room for spontaneous choice, for incorporating new information and advice that you learn.

When making your plan, make sure that it’s flexible. Learn to go with the flow. Plan one or two activities and let the rest of the day happen.

It’ll be a more enjoyable and less stressful experience. You’ll be surprised by what happens.

Be flexible. Let life unfold the way it should.

8. Bring Some Extra Money

Travel isn’t as expensive as many people think but you still need to create a budget that means your needs. The secret to long term travel is smart money management.

However, always overestimate the amount you need. You never know what might come up on the road. After all, you didn’t spend all that time saving every penny and staying home to skip those once in a lifetime activities?

Maybe you want to try bungee jumping or you discover an amazing restaurant you can’t pass up. Or maybe you meet some cool people and decide to scrap your plan altogether.

No matter how well you plan, something can always come up that will throw your budget out of synch.

That’s fine.

Just leave home with a little extra. If you’re planning says you’ll need $2,000, bring $2,500. It will give you a buffer for emergencies and spontaneity.

9. Remember Everyone is in the Same Boat

It takes courage to talk to strangers when you’re new to travel, especially if you’re an introvert like me. What do you say? Can you just invite people to join you? What if you end up alone?

These are all questions I had when I first started traveling. The good news? Everyone is in the same boat. All around you are other solo travelers looking for friends. They want to meet new people too.

While there are a few tricks to learn to help you meet people, it mostly just comes down to saying “hello” and taking that first step. Everything else will fall into place after that. You have nothing to lose and, in the process — this is how you’ll get over your shyness, make new friends, and get better at conversation.

10. Be Adventurous

The only time we grow is when we’re outside of our comfort zones. And travel is about growth. That doesn’t mean you need to do dangerous things, but it does mean you need to push yourself beyond what you’re used to.

Hiking, sky diving, eating new foods, camping, rock climbing, hitchhiking — whatever taking a risk looks like to you is 100% ok. Everyone has different interests and tolerance levels. Push yours. It may be scary and uncomfortable at the time, but you’ll be glad you did it later.

Challenge yourself. Try new things. You’ll walk away more self-confident.

11. It’s Ok to Change Your Mind

If you hate a city, leave and go to another one. If you don’t enjoy the tour your on, cancel it early. And if you really love the place you’re visiting, change your plans and stay longer.

It’s perfectly normal to change your mind on the road.

Maybe that means extending your trip. Maybe that means going home early. There’s nothing wrong with either choice.

Always remember you can go home if you aren’t having fun. You aren’t stuck with your decision to travel or your decision to be in a specific place. You’re the captain on your own ship. Never forget that!

12. Remember, You’re Not Alone

Wherever you go, there is a network of travelers who will be your friends, give you advice or tips, and help you out. They will guide you, point you in the right direction, and be your mentors.

You aren’t out there on your own.

And you will be OK.

***

I know you’re nervous about heading out into the unknown. It’s human nature to worry. But, if you remember these words of wisdom, you’ll go into this the right mindset and able to avoid rookie mistakes.

So take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy your trip!

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Blog

The 7 Deadly Sins of Business Blogging

Since blogging has become so common, far too many people have fallen into the trap of thinking that it’s easy. This can be a huge mistake, especially for businesses.

The simple fact is that your blog can be one of the most important marketing channels you have at your fingertips. The most successful brands use their blogs to drive traffic, increase conversions and build authority, all crucial to the success of a brand.

At the end of the day, blogging works. As long as you avoid certain pitfalls.

Here, we’ll cover seven huge sins that many business blogs make. If you’re making any of these, they can sink your blog before you even really get started. The good news? There’s still plenty of time to fix any issues.

1. Not doing it at all (or frequently enough).

To really make your business blog work, you need to develop a consistent content schedule. It’s not enough to put up a post when you have something to say. You have to do it in a way so that your readers and potential customers know exactly what to expect.

That doesn’t mean you have to blog every day, but it does mean you should have a consistent weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly posting schedule.

The key with consistent blogging is that it can actually have a compounding effect, meaning that blogs that are months old can actually drive more traffic than recent blogs. Look at this graph from HubSpot:

HubSpot Graph They found that the power of consistent blogging brings in a massive return in leads, from HubSpot’s own data they’ve found “about 90 percent of the leads we generate every month come from blog posts that were published in previous months. Sometimes years ago.”

Create a content calendar with your team to ensure you have new posts going out on a consistent basis.

2. Not using proven formulas.

Successful blogging is a lot more than just writing a post, clicking publish and calling it a day. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work.

What does work is using proven content formulas that have been shown over and over again to drive traffic, increase conversions and build authority. Here are just a few different types of content that works:

Definitive / Ultimate Guides List Based Content Infographics Comparison Content Expert Roundup Content

CoSchedule highlighted nine different types of blog posts proven to boost traffic.

The key with this is to mix things up. Using a planned out (this is where your content calendar comes into play) combination of all the proven types of content will help meet your ultimate content goals.

3. Creating boring content.

This is one area that holds up a lot of brands. If you haven’t started a blog yet, you might be holding back because you think your product or service isn’t "sexy" enough. Let's face it -- who wants to read boring content?

Now, hold on a moment there. Just because a product or service might be "boring" doesn't mean your content has to be. In fact, lots of brands succeed by creating really interesting, informative, educational and engaging content out of topics that don’t usually get their customers collective juices flowing.

So what can you do?

First, think out of the box and get creative. This post from Copyblogger highlights how much fun and interesting content can be created off a seemingly boring item like a coffee mug:

How they can cook or bake edible mugs What some iconic coffee mugs from TV, movies and films are How fast can you accelerate without spilling your coffee mug?

Moz has even more suggestions, highlighting how brands can also use contests, local content, case studies and even infographics to make content really interesting for readers and customers.

4. Boring headlines.

There is one universal truth about any blog: if it doesn’t sound interesting, then no one is going to read it.

That starts right there with the headline.

Our attention spans right now are shorter than ever, now averaging just over eight seconds! That means if you really want to get people interested you have to grab their attention from the start. So, it can all come down to the headline.

According to BuzzSumo, there are five main elements of viral headlines that you need to pay attention to:

Emotional element Content element Topic element Format element Promise element

Notice anything special?

The biggest winners are headlines that not only hit those main elements but also include things like numbers, are unique, and include superlative words like “amazing, inspiring, or delightful” to name a few.

Couple these with a few more winning elements and you’re going to start seeing better results.

5. Not engaging influencers.

“Influencers” might be a popular marketing buzzword today, but the reason why influencers are gaining so much attention is because they can make a big (and positive) impact when it comes to your business blog’s success.

One of the very best ways to drive more traffic and authority to your site is to have a popular industry influencer link to or mention your blog. It will automatically put your brand on their audiences' collective radar, which can help generate more customers for you.

But, you might be asking, what happens if we don’t know any influencers?

Chances are, you do. Think about popular industry speakers and experts. Think about industry articles, blogs and videos you watch, anyone who people in your industry or niche pays attention to is an influencer and you want to connect with them.

You can outreach effectively in a number of ways:

Link to them or their content in your own content (then let them know) Strike up a short conversation with them on social media Take the content they’ve already created and improve on it (also known as the "Skyscraper Technique") Highlight how their methods have helped you or your brand Offer to help them If all else fails -- just drop them an email to introduce a great piece of content you're featuring them in

The key with this is not to just “make contact” but to be authentic. Once you are able to get on the radar of an influencer, there are tons of potential future opportunities to explore.

6. Ignoring the importance of visuals.

If you haven’t started already, your blog needs to get visual. And that doesn’t just mean on your site, it also means creating visuals for both your brand and your social media shares as well.

The stats from QuickSprout highlight just how huge visual content has become, and that doesn’t just mean images for social media and infographics, it can also include video content as well, which has been growing in leaps and bounds.

The good news is you don’t need to be an expert or a huge brand to create great graphics. Tools like Canva and services like Fiverr make it possible for even the smallest sites to step up their graphics game.

But also bear in mind that it takes time to create content and people like to consume content in different ways. By repurposing your content into different formats (graphic, video, pdf, audio, slides, etc..) you can get more bang for your content buck as well as breathe new life into old content.

7. Not promoting your content.

Writing great content is only a part of the battle, many experts would argue that the more important part of the equation is promotion.

Many expert content marketers who have grown their business blogs to huge audiences like Sujan Patel and Derek Halpern argue that brands should spend 20 percent of their time creating content and a full 80 percent of their time promoting it.

After all, unless you are already the most popular blog in your industry, traffic isn’t just going to appear, you have to get your potential customers to know that your blog is up and running (and a great read).

So how do you promote content exactly?

Here are a few tips (and a few more advanced ones):

Share your content across a number of channels including social media

Repurpose your content into videos, slideshares, infographics and ebooks

Utilize email marketing to promote your content to your subscribers

Highlight those influencers you’ve connected with in your content and let them know

Create ads across social media

Submit to content communities

Promote, promote, promote and you won’t go wrong with getting more traffic to your blog. Be prepared that this is going to be based on a long term and consistent approach to promotion, so patience is key!

Final thoughts.

Whether your business blog is brand new or you’ve been running it a few years, it’s never too late to start stepping up your content to really drive traffic, increase conversions and build authority.

Avoid these deadly sins and you’ll see increased success from your business blog over the long run.

The main thing is to get started and to hone your skills along the way.

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Blog

The Best Business Blogs Every Entrepreneur

On the internet, an endless source of industry insights, news and tips are at your fingertips - but how do you know which are worth reading? Here are the top business blogs every entrepreneur should stay on top of. 1. Mashable With a mix of breaking news, thought-provoking opinion pieces and a small dose of memes and internet humor, Mashable (particularly Mashable Business) is a one-stop shop for any online entrepreneur. We check it every morning to get our daily dose of what's trending in the digital world. Just try not to let yourself get distracted by all the fun "watercooler" type pieces in the sidebar - stick to the business portion of the blog. 2. Fast Company Not only is Fast Company's blog incredibly visually appealing, it's also mentally appealing. Its creative, compelling articles and case studies are wonderful ways to learn about entrepreneurship, design, technology trends, industry influencers, and so much more. 3. Forbes: Entrepreneurs Forbes describes itself as "a leading source for reliable business news and financial information" and Forbes' Entrepreneurs section is a leading source for reliable business news and financial information for – you guessed it – entrepreneurs and small business owners. Once you get past the annoying pop-up screens, their blog has some top-quality content. 4. TechCrunch This fun site is all about tracking startups, new technologies, internet products and, of course, breaking news in the tech and business worlds. TechCrunch is especially valuable to entrepreneurs in the gadget & technology space, or anyone enthusiastic about those topics. They also launch exciting events throughout the year. 5. VentureBeat Priding itself on capturing the latest news in disruptive technology and written by a team of experienced journalists, VentureBeat is a great resource for all things tech. It's particularly good for providing perspective on how the latest industry developments affect your life and business. It doesn't focus on any particular industry, and is great for almost any entrepreneur or small business owner. 6. Chris Brogan Chris is another author and writer who holds a high level of expertise in marketing and frequently speaks on social media. Thanks to his very conversational writer's voice and unique opinions, his blog is a delight. He also posts a fair number of selfies. 7. Duct Tape Marketing Everyone knows that duct tape is super useful in almost any situation, and the Duct Tape Marketing blog is no different. Enjoy guest posts from all sorts of business and marketing experts, as well as a big library of free ebooks. 8. Marketing Profs: Small Business Marketing Profs is an industry leader when it comes to marketing blogs, and their small business section is particularly useful for any entrepreneur. If you're looking for SMB tips, tricks and success strategies, this is the blog for you. With these resources (plus us!) on your side, keeping up-to-date in the world of business will be a snap. Have other business blogs you follow on a regular basis? Feel free to share them in the comments!

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Blog

Regular Health Tests: Why Are They Important?

Most people hold this perception that if there are no signs and symptoms, they don’t need to take health checkups regularly. But little did they know how is their general health. Regular health tests are for examining the overall health of your body. In fact, with preventive health tests, a disease can be diagnosed even before it starts showing symptoms. These tests are crucial to keeping track of your health status.

Today, health tests have become much more accessible than compared to past times. In fact, you can book a health test at home. You save time! There is no need to stand in queues! More importantly, you get your health tests done right from your home. A lab technician will visit your home at your preferred time and collect your blood sample. You will receive your reports online or offline. In addition, there are many labs and diagnostic centers are open in cities and towns. They offer quite good discounts on health tests and offer automated healthcare test services.

As per doctor’s recommendations, regular health check-ups should be taken annually or twice a year. How often you should get health tests done also depends on plenty of factors.

A person will need to visit a doctor more frequently if his family has a history of chronic diseases. In such cases, you may be at a higher risk of catching diseases. So if you take health tests on doctor’s recommendations, it will help diagnose the diseases in early stages. In general, you can also talk with your primary care doctor to know how often you need to have health tests at home.

Now let’s move on to the reasons why health tests are essential for you:

Even if you think you are healthy and don’t need a health checkup, getting a health test done can help in these ways.

Reduce Healthcare Costs The disease caught at an early stage involves lesser treatment costs as compared to the conditions reaching serious stages. Identify Diseases at Early Stages If you detect disease in the early phases, the chances of getting treatment are effective and better. For example, cancer detected early will have better treatment chances. Encourage you to maintain a healthy lifestyle Being attentive to getting the right health screenings done on time helps your chances of a healthy and longer life. Conclusion Age, lifestyle choices, health, family history, and other important factors influence how often you need to have health tests. All in all, you can examine your health status from time to time and take steps to improve your health.

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