Tag Archives: How to

How to Visit the Mythical City of Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, Kukulcán Pyramid, Mexico

Once one of the largest cities in the Mayan world and quite possibly one of the seven mythical locations of human origin, the ruins of Chichen Itza lies within a totally day-tripable 2 hour bus ride from Cancun. That proximity to cruise-ship central also makes it one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico.

With that in mind, we planned our visit with the intention of arriving early enough to beat the hordes. So we booked a room at the Villas Arqueologicas Chichen Itza; a hotel located within walking distance of the less-utilized southern entrance to the park.

We found the hacienda-style hotel quaint, comfortable and clean. The only downside is that dining options in the area are limited to the handful of similar resorts located on this side of the park. We checked out a few other options but ended up eating every meal in the hotel’s poolside courtyard where the food was adequate if not inspiring.

El Caracol observatory temple, Chichen Itza, Mexico

The “El Caracol” observatory temple as seen prior to entering the park’s southern gate.

But we didn’t come to Chichen Itza for the food. We came to explore the ruins. So the following morning we made our way to the entrance gate just before opening at 8:00 AM. At that hour we stood second in a line of about six people and waited to pay the two separate admission fees of 65 pesos (US $3.60) and 132 pesos (US $7.30) per person.

Shortly after scanning our tickets we were in the park walking past still empty checkpoints and vendors who were only just starting to set up their stalls. We were among only a handful of other tourists in the park.

And in this one instance, I’m not quite sure how much beating the crowds really mattered.

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Lessons Learned: Tips for Touring Angkor Wat Like a Pro

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

We spent seven days in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and three days exploring the temples of Angkor Wat. Here are some of the things we wish we knew before arriving at the largest religious monument in the world.

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How to Save a Bundle on Travel

If you’ve ever had the sneaking suspicion that online booking sites are messing with you, that’s because they are. They know where you’ve been. They may very well know your buying history and your preferences. And they’re increasingly using all of that information against you.

One thing we’ve found particularly egregious is something we’ll call “locational pricing.” That’s when different people in different locations are charged different prices for the same exact thing. Mostly we’ve found that locals get better rates than travelers even when buying stuff online. It’s an extension of the Vagabond Tax we’ve commented on previously. But at least this one you can beat.

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In Defense of Travel Tours

grand-canyon-raft

Tours can allow even independent minded travelers to do things they otherwise could not.

We’re independent travelers who, as a rule, don’t generally sign on to packaged tours. But like all rules, this one is made to be broken.

The conventional case against travel tours is well stated in a recent blog post by Wes Nations (a.k.a. Johnny Vagabond). It’s a view you’ll see time and again in the travel blogosphere: go your own way, flexibility above all, get lost, immerse yourself, avoid the crowds. It’s all great advice, and advice we take to heart, but it really is only half the story.

The other half recognizes that real people face real world constraints in their travels. Tours, despite their well known drawbacks, can play an important and even necessary role in easing those constraints – even for self-proclaimed independent travelers. Here’s how: Read More…

How to Revolutionize Your Financial Life

Money

With New Year’s celebrations now over it’s time for the hard work of resolution honoring to begin in earnest. Many of us will start the year resolving to spend less money and save more. If you’re like me and Shannon, the objective may be to accumulate enough to travel the world; or maybe you’re trying to build a college fund or pad a retirement nest egg. All worthy goals.

Unfortunately our good intentions are typically doomed to failure right from the start. By mid-year most of us will have fallen back into the same bad habits we resolve each year to end. We do that not because we lack the necessary willpower, but because we lack the correct perspective. To change our financial behavior we need to fundamentally change the way we think about money. We need to find a way to turn human nature, which constantly tempts us away from our long term goals, to our advantage. Fortunately that is easier to do than you may think.

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