Thank you for being here! In this episode, I share HUGE travel mistakes I made when I started traveling full-time. I've moved abroad 3 times and I, unfortunately, was not the most prepared. I'm honestly a bit embarrassed to share these stories! But I hope that 'one (wo)man's mistake can be another (wo)man's guidance.'
Traveling is one of the most magical experiences you can have...but it does help to be prepared in some way (*ahem* like knowing what a visa is!).
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Hello and welcome to Dream Life Connection, your hub for magical personal development. I'm Andrea Morrison. This podcast is a blend of whimsical and grounding topics that will help you live the life of your dreams. We'll talk about synchronicity, lucid dreaming, manifesting modern spirituality, journaling, mindfulness paradigm shifts, subconscious programming, and even traveling. If you are a believer in magic and want to elevate your life, you were meant to be here. During each episode, we'll take a mini journey through a dreamy topic, learn some modern magic tricks, and I'll even share my stories as a traveling dreamer following her intuition. I would love to connect with you at @dreamlifeconnection on Instagram and dreamlifeconnection.com. I'm so glad we found each other.
Hey everyone, welcome to podcast number two of Dream Life Connection. So happy you're here. This morning, I did something super, super exciting. I went to a place called Majestic Cafe. My boyfriend and I are leaving. We're moving to the south of Portugal on Thursday. So this is our last week here in Porto. And one of the things on my bucket list for Portugal and Porto especially, was going to Majestic Cafe because that is where allegedly J. K. Rowling would go and have her coffee and she would write parts of Harry Potter. I think that there are a lot of places that claim this, so I take it all with a grain of salt, but I do know that she would frequent that place. I don't know if that's where Harry Potter was, quote, unquote born or not, but as a Potterhead, I still had to go and see it for myself. And it was so beautiful. It was really exciting to see and have a $7 latte. Kind of crazy, but worth it. I was just kind of fan Girling and I was super happy. And then after that, we went to this little bakery and I had the most incredible meringue ever. Have you guys ever had a meringue? Like a giant chunk of meringue that's like kind of marshmallowy in the middle. It's like eating a cloud. So good. But I will admit that I'm jacked up on sugar right now, so I'm probably going to need to take a long nap after this because I have a feeling I'm going to crash. So in the spirit of taking a train on Thursday and taking all of our belongings, I'm going to pretend like it's platform nine and three quarters. And I'm moving to Hogwarts. But we are going to the south. We're going to a little city near Lagos in Portugal, and it's a city called Portsmouth. And let me just tell you, Portugal, the prices of accommodation, they're increasing quite a bit. I think a lot of people are coming here. You know, it's getting warmer. So we're going to the south because, well, it was one of the only places that was within our budget, and our budget isn't super low. I was actually really shocked that I couldn't find anything below our budget. And we wanted to live in Lisbon for the last month, but the places that were below our budget were literally, I'm not making this up a tent, a boat or a van. And I'm totally game for staying in those types of places. But for an entire month, I'm not signing up for that. But we found some decent places in ports of mouth, so that's where we're going. So as I said in my last podcast, I am a traveling Nomad, I have lived in Southeast Asia. Now I'm in Europe. So I thought it would be fun to share my big F ups as a traveler. I have made some major, major mistakes along the way. And I wanted to share my three biggest mistakes that I've made while traveling so that you don't have to. And I'm going to share these. And you might actually think, Holy crap, Andrea is an idiot. I kind of feel like an idiot sometimes, especially reflecting on these memories. It is pretty embarrassing. But I thought I would just start by giving kind of the basics well, and that's the first rule is know the basics literally. Do you know what a visa is? Because I didn't I'm not kidding. So when I first started traveling, my first big international trip was to Bali. So I was in communications with this man that owns the Villa that I was going to stay in. And he just said, oh, when you get off the plane, you go in this line, you get your visa. I don't even remember how much it was, but it's called the visa on arrival. And I just kind of took that and was like, okay, I'm going to get off the plane, and I'm going to go get my little stamp. I didn't really know what that meant. I just kind of followed the steps and I went through and I got my stamp and was good to go. So we had our vacation. It was great. Then I moved back to Bali a few months later, and again, visa on arrival, all good. And then the next year I was moving to Thailand. So I've moved abroad a few times. Now this is my third time, actually, which is so weird to say, but it's my third time moving overseas. So the second time I was going to Thailand, but I really wanted to experience Vietnam because I was going to teach in Asia, and I didn't know if I wanted to teach in Thailand or Vietnam. So I thought, hey, I'll go to Vietnam. I'll experience it for a little bit. And then I'll go to Thailand, get my TEFL and all of that. And then I'll decide where I want to teach. So I had about four days in Vietnam before Thailand. So I'm on my way to the airport with my friend Jean, and we get there. And as I'm checking in, the man says, Can I see your visa, please. And I'm like, what are you talking about? And he's like, your visa to enter Vietnam. Don't I get it there? Isn't it like Bali? Isn't it like Asia? Don't you just get it when you arrive? Isn't that how it works?
He just looked at me like I was an idiot, and I felt like an idiot. And I was like, I don't have a visa. And he's like, okay, well, you can't go to Vietnam without a visa. So then I'm like, I am legit freaking out. I sold all my belongings. I was like, ready to go. But I didn't know the most important thing about going to another country. And I'm actually kind of embarrassed that I'm sharing this story and that I'm admitting this because here I am a world traveler, and I didn't even really understand how visas work. I'm ashamed to say that, but thank God for my friend Jane. She actually came into the airport with me, and if she wouldn't have come into the airport, I would have given up. I would have just stayed at home and been like, this is the lost cause. I'm not going. So I talked with a guy, and he said, look, you can go into the back office and you can pay, like, $250 to get a visa within, like, 15 minutes. I'm like, Holy shit, I'm doing this, and I'm already given up $250. And I'm starting off this grand adventure with a major slip up. So I'm like crawling over the conveyor belt with all the luggage. I have to crawl through that into this little door, go into this back office that clearly nobody goes back there. I've never seen anybody walk back there. And I'm on this old computer filling out this application for an urgent visa and paying $250. I couldn't believe it. So anyways, 15 minutes later, I did get my visa, and I did go to Vietnam. But I just want to let you know if you're starting to travel. A visa is a type of endorsement from the country that you're entering, saying that you're allowed and permitted to be in the country and different countries have different visas. It's really important to look up what your destination country, what their visa expectations are, what their rules are. Sometimes you have to apply in advance. Sometimes you can get them upon arrival. There's different standards for the EU and the Schengen area, which that is a whole other set of rules. Every country is different. So I definitely recommend looking up that so that you don't make my mistake. And I have to go into a tiny office and spend $250 to get an urgent visa. Another mistake that I made before and while I was traveling was honestly not doing enough research. I think one of the worst things we can do is just rely on Instagram and basing our expectations of certain countries or especially tourist sites based on Instagram. I love the Instagram versus reality. It's like we have to keep our expectations realistic, because a lot of times I would go to certain places and think it's like this grand event or even certain cities. I thought it was going to be completely different than what it actually was. So, for example, when I went to Thailand, I was going to be staying in Krabi. K-R-A-B-I. So this was where I was getting my TEFL certificate to teach English in Thailand. And I, of course, went to Instagram and Typed in Krabi. And I was like, oh, my gosh, this is going to be amazing. White sand beaches. This is epic. I'm going to have a palm tree on the beach with a swing. And then I got there, and Karabi was not like that at all. So Karabi is very close to a place called AO Nang, and that's where the beaches are, and that's a decent drive away. That's not walking distance. I guess it is, if you're really cool. But my expectations were like, I was shocked because that's what I based it off of. To be fair, the TEFL organization that I got my certificate through, they sent me this whole info packet and was talking about Karabi, and they had all these, like, beach pictures throughout the whole workbook. So it's not their fault. But I just kind of believed all that and was like, I thought I was going to be living on a beach. But Krabby, the town itself is actually, like, along this river. And it was like, kind of a dirty river. It was still seriously one of the best experiences of my life. I absolutely loved it. However, my expectations were just. I was very surprised. So do a lot of research look at more than just Instagram or even like YouTube? Like, YouTube drone shots will give you this kind of romanticized version of places that you're going. And I think it's helpful to see the real side of it, too, so that you're not kind of crushed when you get there. I think actually a really great way to see what cities are truly like is using the Snapchat map. I think it's just maps, Snapchat.com or something like that. Type it into Google, and then you'll see real videos of people on the street in the city, like real life. And that can give you kind of a good feel of what the city is actually like. Because obviously Instagram is going to show you just these beautiful, filtered photos, and I believed all of them. So I do recommend watching YouTube videos, but ones that aren't too glamorized, read some blogs. It's also super helpful to join local Facebook groups. So if you're going to a particular city in a foreign country, almost every city you go to will have some sort of local Facebook group. You can look up local expat groups, and that can be really helpful. I will say, take everything with a grain of salt, though, because there are some communities online that are definitely negative. Nancys and sometimes when I was doing research in the local groups, this was after I learned my lesson, after I realized, Whoa, not everything I see is like Instagram. I started joining these types of groups and doing more and more research, so I knew what to expect. But I will say some of the Facebook groups can be a little soul crushing. So just be mindful of that and take it all with a grain of salt. Because there's a lot of, like, trolls and people who it's just like anything. If you're asking questions or you're curious about something, you can find ten people who support it and ten people who oppose it. So just kind of going open minded. The best thing you can do, though, is talk to someone who has gone through the experience before, who has gone to the country or the city before. They can give you kind of a lay of the land, the vibe of the city. Before I came to Porto, I have some friends. That's kind of the big reason why I came to Porto is because I have some friends that live here. So I was able to reach out to them and I had a call with them and asked them, what is the city like? What can I expect? And also getting the details so that you can download certain apps and be prepared. In that sense, like the logistics. Different countries have different transportation apps. Like here in Portugal they have Uber, whereas in Vietnam they have Grab. So it's good to know what each country uses so that you can download the apps while you're in your home country. Because when I first started traveling, that was a challenge for me at times, especially if you don't have the right SIM card. If you're just using WiFi, sometimes the apps will want to send you, like a code to your phone number. And that's how you are able to download the app or use the app. And in the beginning, I didn't have a local phone number, so I couldn't receive text, and then I wasn't able to use the app. So think about currency. There's really good currency apps to show you to make sure you're not getting scammed. Download Google Translate. That is extremely helpful to be able to translate with people. And you can also use the camera. And if you're, like, in the store or something, you can just hold the camera up and it will literally translate it on the screen for you. Download some world clock so you know the time difference between you and your home country, your family and your friends. And download the dating apps before you go too, because that's actually how I met my boyfriend. I met him on Tinder. And I think in the beginning I was going to use Tinder, and I think that was one of the apps that I couldn't use because I didn't have a phone number to send the code to. And also, again, look up SIM cards. A lot of countries you go into, it's different than America. It's like America makes everything so complicated. But like, here in Portugal, I could buy just a SIM card and put $20 on it. And I have data for an entire month and I can make phone calls and texts and all that. It's really easy, but just look up certain cell phone providers before you go. So I covered not knowing the basics and also not knowing the details. And my last tip is to protect yourself. Don't trust everyone you meet. That was something that I'm sad that I have to kind of put my wall up. And I love going into places, giving everybody the benefit of the doubt. But don't be too trusting. When you go to new places, people can spot if you're new and they will try to take advantage of that. I was surprised at just how many scams there were. Like, everywhere I've gone, there are scams. And that's another helpful thing to look up, especially on YouTube, is type in the city name and then the types of scams. I was scammed left and right. And a lot of times I was spending way more money than I should have just because I wasn't aware, I didn't know and I trusted people. And one of the things that happened in Bali is that they really capitalize on Eat, Pray Love. A lot of women go there. I think this is my opinion, and this is based off of my experience too, because I went there in a very vulnerable state. I just quit my job. I had sold everything, moved out of my apartment, all of that. And I went to Bali. I kind of went with this naive, excited but vulnerable state because I'm thinking, oh, it's going to be like Pray Love and I'm going to come here and become enlightened and all of that. I can't tell you how many times you would meet someone and they would say, oh, you know, the old guru in Eat, Pray Love, this is the real guy. This is the real guy. And I'm like, well, if that's the case, then there's like ten of them on the island because everybody was saying that there were all these things that I kind of fell for. And I was just believing everything that they were saying. And I was like, wow, I'm going to meet the inspiration of Eat, Pray Love, even though that wasn't the case. And then I would talk to somebody else and they would say that they were in a completely different city and they were like, oh, I saw the guy who inspired to Eat, Pray Love. And it's like, this is a trick. This is a way for them to get people. And it works. And Unfortunately, I made several mistakes because I just trusted people. I trusted that what they were saying was the truth. And there are some bigger mistakes that I made that will likely be shared in a later podcast. But I'm just saying this right now. Protect yourself. Keep your intuition strong. Notice your Spidey senses. If something seems a little too good to be true, pay attention to that. And I don't want to say any of this to deter you from going anywhere from traveling, because I will say it is all 100% worth it. Every single experience, the good and the bad. But I will say I learned a lot as I was traveling and there were a lot of things that could have easily been avoided. How do I look into these things? How do I listen to podcasts about traveling, about these particular cities or countries? I'm all about going with the flow. A lot of times I think that was my I don't want to say problem. It's not a problem. But that's what kind of caused a lot of this stuff was because I just went thinking like it's all going to work out, it's all going to be fine. And I was just a little too naive to it all. And I think I probably spent way too much money on certain things because of it. And I made these mistakes or I trusted people. I kind of got myself into trouble sometimes because I just believed everything that everybody was saying. So protect yourself. Be strong and say no to people. It's okay to say no to people, especially like cab drivers. They'll try to get you to get in their cab and then they'll freaking rip you off, scams all over the place. But again, it is 100% worth it. I hope this helps. I hope I'm not like scaring you off. I really want to encourage you to travel and explore the world. If you have any interest in that, feel free to reach out to me. I'm happy to answer questions or just chat with you because traveling has changed my life. It has opened my eyes so much to such a beautiful world. Yes, I've made mistakes along the way. And you know what? Maybe I made those mistakes so that I can share them on this podcast now so that you can listen and not make the same mistakes that I did. Although mistakes do make the best stories, I will say because that visa story, it's so embarrassing, but it's hilarious. At the same time, there's a world traveler not even knowing what a freaking visa is. So I thought I would end this podcast with a quote from one of the greatest people. Rest in peace. Anthony Bourdain, one of my favorite people traveler and a chef. He always had the most eloquent things to say. But I love his quote that says Travel isn't always pretty, it isn't always comfortable, sometimes it hurts. It even breaks your heart, but that's okay. The journey changes you. It should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully you leave something good behind. I think that's such a poignant quote to reflect upon after talking about all the uncomfortable things that happen while you're traveling. So again know the basics and also know the details and trust your gut. Protect yourself. Trust yourself more than you trust other people. I hope this helps and I hope you get out into the world. Reach out to me. Let me know where you're going. If you have any thoughts or questions, I would love to hear from you and thank you. Thank you so much for listening. I'm so glad that you're here and I can't wait to talk to you again. Bye.