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Resources, Travel, Trip Planning

My first book, 10+ Free Things You Can Do Anywhere

Traveling, especially on the globetrotting scale, is intimidating. And that’s not from lack of information regarding know-how and logistics – there is so. much. information out there! Dare I say, there may be an overwhelming amount of information (that’s another book series I’d like to start, “Zoom’s abridged travel guides”, but I digress).

It’s not just the endless amount of info to sift & parse that can make travel seem insurmountable, though. The biggest objection/question that I get regarding travel is all about dem dollars baby.

 “How much did that cost you?” “I could never afford to travel”. “That’s got to be expensive.”

Travel can be expensive – especially through westernized cultures. We get so used to our day to day cost of living that its hard for us to envision travel (with all the eating out, excursions and extra fun) being cheaper than our daily lives…but really, it’s easier to do than you think! As part of my missive to bring the joy of adventure to everyone, I’ve put together a little book for you.

Book Cover

Now, I’ll be upfront with you: some of these activities are not for everybody (e.g CouchSurfing). Additionally, you get what you pay for – there is nothing glamorous in this book. However, being broke on the road….there is something almost romantic about it and the challenge a budget presents you with. While sleeping on strangers couches might not be for you, I think the majority of things in this book can be enjoyed by anyone with an attitude of wanting to enjoy them.

If you’re not really into travel, I hope that this book might help you find adventure in your own backyard. It’s easy to become disenchanted with our hometowns when really there might be a whole other side we just haven’t discovered yet.

Here’s a sneak peek of one of my favorite activities I’ve done all over the globe:

#15 in the book, Check Out The Archetechture
I said 10 +++++++ didn’t I?

Getting a copy of 10+ Free Things You Can Do Anywhere is super easy, all you need to do is subscribe to my email list & confirm your email address (sorry about the confirmation step, there was a period where I was getting like 100 subscriptions a day from random Russian emails so I have to add this step). Then, you’ll get a welcome email with a copy of the book as an attachment. Easy peasy! If you’re already subscribed, you automatically get a copy. 🙂


Once you subscribe, it’s a double win because then you’ll get email notifications when I publish a new post (and ONLY when I publish a new post! I enjoy my spam in a can), which often includes tips and ideas for making adventure accessible to everybody. Also, you’ll finally be out of excuses for why you can’t afford to travel! 😉

Have more ideas for free things to do or ways to cut costs? Leave a comment! Share the wealth [of knowledge].

Inspiring Stuff, Trip Planning, USA

Hayden Hits New York City

It’s been a while since I posted on here guys. Even though it’s not an excuse, admittedly I have been really busy! I’m back in school and most of my current homework is not overly riveting – but, if you’d like, I’d be happy to tell you about the USA’s average propensity to save or maybe you’d prefer the 7-layer OSI model?

(this is usually when my audience runs in terror)

That being said, I’ve been saved from the dullard of the day to day via the adventures of someone else. Something I hope I provided to you while I was traveling 🙂

The Big Apple, The City of Dreams, The City That Never Sleeps, The City So Nice They Named It Twice – no matter what you call it, NYC is one of the most renowned travel destinations in the world.

Annually, New York City attracts more than 58 million visitors, bringing in over 42 billion dollars worth of tourism revenue. Visitors from both domestic and abroad, but no matter where you come from, NYC is a sight to behold, making it a top destination on any traveler’s list.

When dipping your toes into the traveling adventures pool, it’s typical to start with something like the capital of your region, or perhaps a road trip with a group of friends or a family vacation.

If you know me either personally or through this blog, you probably know I like to go big or go home! I love this about myself and love to see in others. My first camping trip was to travel to Burning Man (solo) to spend 9 days in the desert with a bunch of people I met on the internet – sounds totally safe, right? It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.

Since returning home from Asia, I’ve set up shop working at a little pizza dive in my hometown while I’ve started my degree. We serve up delicious, unique, New York style pizzas made from dough we make daily and produce that we cut ourselves. It’s so good, it makes you cry (or maybe that’s from all the onions we’re cutting?).

I hear from a lot of people that travel seems like something they’ll never be able to do. Too expensive, too busy, too [insert reason]. While all of that is valid, I try to show people who are interested that it truly can be done by anyone.

It may have been our pizza, it may have been my constant reminiscing about previous travel adventures but no matter the persuasion my still-under-21 coworker Hayden recently went on his first big city solo travel adventure – hostels and all – to New York freakin’ City! 

Behind the scenes

Spending about $600 he enjoyed all the Big Apple had to offer over the course of 5 days.

  • $35 for a metro pass for the week
  • Kept meals under $10
  • Hostel accommodations: $300 (prime location is worth it!)
  • Gas and parking: ~$80

From dining atop the highest restaurant in the Western Hemisphere to fending off cash-hungry homeless people he was able to experience the full monty that often comes with big cities.

Straight from the source

Q: What’s some advice you would have for first-time, solo travelers going to NYC?

A: “Advice would be to write down the subway directions and a notepad and keep your phone off in the subway because it drained my battery. I also used my phone compass a lot in the subway to make sure I was going in the right direction. It’s super easy to get on the wrong train. And, it sounds bad, but if someone comes up to you on the street or subway be quick to make it clear you don’t have any cash or they will hassle you.” 

Solid advice, I would give the same!

Q: Did you ever feel unsafe or have to ask a local for assistance? 

A: “I never felt unsafe, [there were] police on almost every block. I never even reached for my pepper spray. I never asked for help from locals but I did help a ton of other people who didn’t know where to go.”

Hayden always does the nice thing.

Q: What did you see that you didn’t expect? 

A: “There was trash everywhere, but it wasn’t too bad.” 

Some of the highlights of the trip were meeting people from all over the world at the hostel he stayed at (NY Moore Hostel), just walking around observing the city, and (duh) the amazing food. Specifically, the New York style pizza made by ‘real Italians who argued the whole time they made it’ (lol). We all know that frustration crushed tomatoes and roughly punched dough tastes the best! Maybe we’ll have to implement these techniques at my shop.

We’re all thrilled to have Hayden back at work (though maybe he’d rather still be in NYC) and I’m so happy to have someone else to talk about how delicious big-city food is compared to my tiny town. Though, I find myself in a bit of an inspiration maelstrom. I’ve passed the travel torch to another and now I’m losing hours on the internet scheming my next travel adventure after being re-inspired by him…I guess that’s not so bad. 😉

I hope that you feel moved to take the torch from us and give a go to your own adventure. It doesn’t have to be big or drastic, but if that’s the way you like it…you can do it!

Until next adventure……




Resources, Travel, Trip Planning

Everything you need to know about travel insurance.

Have questions about travel insurance? You’re in the right place.

Travel insurance can, like any insurance, feel intimidating or confusing when shopping for it. Fear not, I’m here to help walk you through all of the most popular questions about travel insurance.

What if I already have health insurance? Do I really need it? Where do I get travel insurance? What does it cover? What’s the process like if I need to use it? Is it expensive? 

All of these questions were things I asked myself when I first considered getting a travel insurance policy. You might think I took one out for my trip to Asia (which I did), but I’d actually purchased travel insurance two times before that, with no regrets! Without further adieu, let’s dive in.

Why would I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is a beautiful blend of health insurance and renter’s insurance. Unlike other policies, travel insurance will cover both you and your belongings while you’re on the go.

If you accidentally smash your tablet, drop your camera, or break your leg while traveling, travel insurance covers all of those. What I like most though is the fact that you’re location independent. Renter’s insurance might not cover my valuables if I’m in Timbuktu, but travel insurance would. The same goes for health coverage.

What if I already have health insurance?

When I was first looking into travel insurance, I was planning my first trip to Burning Man. At the time, my job offered a great health insurance program that I was a part of. Because of this, I wasn’t sure that I needed travel insurance. What was it going to cover that my regular health insurance wouldn’t?

DISCLAIMER: All information in this post is based on personal experience, and I am not a professional insurance broker.

As it turns out, there was quite a bit that my travel insurance policy would cover that wouldn’t be covered by my regular health insurance policy. Since I was heading to Burning Man, I was particularly keen on the benefit of a medical evacuation.

If something had happened to me, my travel insurance policy would have covered a helicopter evacuation – up to $500,000 USD! While I didn’t think anything like that would happen, I didn’t want to be a 3 hour drive from the nearest hospital and find out the hard way.

While the medical evacuation was the big selling point for me, there were other benefits for me too. Travel insurance would help offset any costs I might have incurred beyond what my regular health insurance would have covered. There was also the peace of mind that I wouldn’t have to worry about my health insurance not covering me at Burning Man because it is an “extreme event”. Whereas with travel insurance, they’re used to people doing the extreme!

Do I really need it?

Now this question is a bit tough because, frankly, that’s a choice you’ll have to make for yourself. My stance will always be “better safe than sorry” when it comes to your health, well being, and the risk of your valuables getting stolen or broke.

I recommend comparing any current coverage to that of your potential travel insurance provider. This will give you a clearer picture of the potential benefits.

Where do I get travel insurance?

Just like regular health insurance, there are plenty of insurance providers out there to chose from. Your best bet would be to Google “travel insurance policies”. Most likely, the first result you’ll see is a company called World Nomads.

World Nomads is my provider of choice, I love them. They had me right off the bat by offering a no-strings-attached quote. I hate it when you apply for a “free quote” and it turns into 100 emails a day, never ending phone calls, and weird people at my doorstep. Okay might not people at my doorstep, but you know what I mean!

They have great customer service, a quick response time, and were very helpful to me when I needed to file a claim. They also offer different “levels” of coverage. This way, you can choose the right amount of coverage for your needs.

Is it expensive?

I’m happy to say that, no, it’s not that expensive! Cost depends on where you’ll be traveling, for how long, and what type of coverage you want.

Here’s what I’ve paid with World Nomads:

  • Two weeks traveling in the US: $36
  • One month traveling in the US: $73
  • Five months traveling in Asia: $110

I’ve only had to file a claim once, and that was for an urgent care visit in Hong Kong. The insurance policy was $110, and my claim was for ~$90 – and I got every penny of that! It almost paid for itself!

What if I need to use it? How does that work?


In most cases (double check with your provider), you’ll need to pay for all medical costs upfront. You’ll then file a claim with your provider to be reimbursed. I admit, I was a little leery of this at first, but World Nomads was great about getting my claim filed and approved quickly.

When you file a medical claim, you’ll typically need to present all of the following:

  • Receipt from your payment method, with the cost clearly printed
  • Diagnosis / Description of the expense (broken leg etc)
  • Signed agreement form that comes with your insurance paperwork
  • Copies of your arranged travel to and from your home country. I sent in screenshots of my flight confirmation emails to and from the US

I sent all of these things to World Nomads and they got back with me in a few days saying my claim in the amount of $88.98 was approved. If you decide to go with a different provider, simply ask them which documents are required for a claim. Make sure to ask them when you take out the policy so you get everything you need during the incident. It would suck to have to track down a clinic in Bosnia just for a piece of paper!


Luckily, I’ve never had to file a claim for a lost item – but I did talk to my World Nomads rep about it when I filed my medical claim. If, for example, an elephant had smashed my cell phone I would have had to provide the following:

  • Proof of current ownership
  • Proof of purchase listing the cost of the item
  • Proof that I was traveling with the item
  • A description of how the item got damaged
  • Signed agreement form

Item coverage is another benefit of travel insurance for me. When I had my near-kidnapping in Vietnam, I didn’t think twice about throwing my backpack over the highway guardrail because I knew anything in there would be covered and replaced.

Any other questions?

I hope you’re feeling more educated and empowered now! If you have any other questions about travel insurance, I’d love to hear them.. Leave me a comment, and share this article with your friends so they can benefit too!


Everything you need to know about travel insurance | Travel | Health | Insurance | Cheap Travel Insurance | Zoom Goes
Resources, Travel, Trip Planning

Budget Report: how much does it cost to travel for 5 months?

How much does it cost to travel

“How much does it cost to travel?”

This is by far the most common question that I get asked about travel. I had always read that “you don’t have to be rich to travel” but how true was that really? Let’s find out!

About this report

I decided to break this down by country. Since most of the countries I visited don’t accept American cards, I payed cash for almost everything. I tallied these numbers by looking back on my bank statements and adding up the cash withdrawals according to the dates I was in each country. On my next trip, I’ll keep better track of expenses by category for you guys so we can find out how much they were individually. 🙂

The numbers below include everything you might pay for back home. Food, lodging, entertainment, midnight snacks, transportation, toiletries, clothes etc.

Before I left for my trip, there were a few purchases I had to make that will be included in the total, but aren’t associated with any particular country.

Flight to Bangkok: $414

Flight home from Tokyo: $861.66 (if I had planned better, I could have bought this further in advance and lowered the cost big time!)

Travel insurance: $110

Keep Costs Low

There was also a considerable amount of prep-work that I did before I left, in an attempt to keep costs down. If you’re ever planning some long term travel, I recommend you do the following to keep costs low:

  • Open an account with a company that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. I use Capitol One 360 – this saved me a few bucks every time I used an ATM OR made an online purchase in another currency.
  • Open an account with a company that will reimburse you for your ATM fees. Since I come from a military family, I use USAA. If you’re non-military, take a look at online banks such as Charles Schwab for this perk.
  • Buy one way tickets. My ticket to Bangkok was actually round-trip, even though I didn’t catch my flight to come home. Buying a one way ticket keeps you from having to pay ticket change fees, and from eating the cost of paying for a seat you might choose not to be in once you get on the road.
  • Give up the booze. I started doing this before I left and once I was on the road. Not buying alcohol can literally save you hundreds of dollars!

The final numbers

6 flights, 9 buses and 10 trains later, I present to you: the final costs! How much do you think it will be?

Cost Breakdown by Country

  • USA, San Francisco: $1,329.37
  • Thailand: $666
  • Laos: $641.24
  • Vietnam: $714.37
  • Cambodia: $323.92
  • Malaysia: $136.57
  • Singapore: $527.18
  • Hong Kong: $323.44
  • Japan: $1,978.49

Total Cost: $7,498.40

Is that higher or lower than what you expected?

When I looked at this number, I felt a bit shocked. It seems high (thanks Japan)…but when I think about how much my cost of living was in America – it was actually cheaper to travel!

In Chicago, my apartment expenses started at $600/mo. Once you add in groceries, transportation, entertainment, girls night out, a Netflix subscription, and impulsive video game purchases, life on the road was more affordable – and so much more satisfying!

Looking back on the trip, there’s a lot of things I would do differently to save even more. All in all though, this was still the trip of a lifetime and absolutely priceless!

If you have any questions about the costs, or ideas on how to save even more – leave me a comment!






Resources, Travel, Trip Planning

FREE Giveaway! World Map themed 3-set of clutches by Allen Edward.

ZoomGoes Giveaway

Welcome to the very first giveaway on ZoomGoes!

Step right up, step right up for your chance to win this beautiful set of clutches!

Anyone who has ever received a gift from me knows that I suck at waiting to give them. Whenever I have something I know someone will love, I want to give it to them RIGHT NOW!

Oh, I know Christmas isn’t for 8 months, but I got you this awesome Christmas present! Don’t you love it?! Crap… now I need to buy them a Christmas present!

This post was supposed to be released tomorrow (Thursday) but I was just so excited I couldn’t wait that long! I know you guys are going to love these!

Illustrating a world map, and designed by Allen Edward, these clutches are perfect for helping your organize your travel bag or to make an “I love adventure” statement during a night out on the town!

Here’s a funny homemade infomercial:

Why am I having a Giveaway?

On Sunday, I unveiled my plans to turn ZoomGoes into a brand. This requires a change in marketing, content strategy and focus on building an audience. Real bloggers have giveaways, so here we are!

I know you’re not going to want to increase the competition for these little beauties, but why don’t you share this post with your friend? If either of you won, maybe each of  you could have a clutch and rotate Sundays for the third one.

How to Win

To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is fill out this form:

This will enter you into the giveaway, and subscribe you to my email list. Don’t worry – my Momma taught me the only good spam comes in a can! I’ll never sell your email address or do anything malicious with it, I just want to know how to contact you with kick-ass adventure inspiration!

Email list members (aka ‘my tribe’) receive the following benefits:

  • Automatic entry into all future giveaways
  • The first to receive value items such as eBooks, discount coupons on my services, and How-To guides not posted on ZoomGoes
  • Notifications of new blog entries (posted on Sundays and Thursdays)
  • Private invitations to my webinars
  • and more!

You can unsubscribe at any time if you’re not digging it (but I bet you will!)

Winners will be contacted via email, and announced on on October 6th. If you are selected as the winner, I’ll ask you for your mailing address at that time.

Good luck contestants! Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing ZoomGoes!