budget travel

Vlog Gallery from the Road 40 months of travel…

Second trip to Bangkok, entry March 9th, 2023, previous entry was December 10th, 2019… just before travel during coronavirus!

Next… India… a country of significant monuments, population and a lot of dirt and trash… (but the photos turned out well!). I really hold a neutral opinion of the country but it does have pluses, such as the food, price, and weather forecast.

Saudi Arabia stopover and Romania stopover, my second time and meeting an old friend! My original flight from Saudi to India got canceled so i decided to stay at the airport for 1 day, then take an earlier flight. Flight on Jan. 30th, 2023. Flight to Bucharest from Athens dated Jan. 25th, 2023.

Next up in reverse, order Athens, Greece! Flight in from Tirana, Albania! Nice to be on the road again! Flight via Wizzair on Jan. 7th 2023. It was snowing in Bucharest so had to plan for winter and summer once i get to Thailand, a few stops away! Left Athens on Jan. 25th, 2023.

Stopover/Rest Albania, Tirana, visit #3 … I spent this time to retool my clothing and my gear, and replaced or added some smaller items for my next unique adventure to Greece, India, and Thailand, and the Mideast! Entry to Albania from Milan Italy on … I had to look this up.. 11/08/2022.

Next stop in reverse order.. Italy, flew to Pisa from Tenerife on an affordable on Nov. 3rd, 2022, and bussed it to Milan on Nov. 7th, 2022, where I then caught a flight to Tirana on November 8th/9th 2022. The reasoning was to spend less time in more expensive countries my two stop Italy trip did not disappoint!

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, rewinding again (my second time in Tenerife (and 2nd time in London). I flew to Tenerife South airport from London Stansted on Sep. 9th, 2022, and from Tenerife South to Pisa on Nov. 3, 2022. Over here in Tenerife I was boondocking it for most of the 42 days that I was on the island.

Next up going in reverse the country of Poland… London was a stopover so not counting as a visit, i came from Krakow and took a flight to London, then another Ryanair flight to Tenerife. . My bus from Gdansk to Krakow was on Sep. 14th, 2022 via the Flixbus. The flight to London was on Sep. 21st giving me 7 days in Krakow… The flight to Gdansk was on Sep. 12th, 2022.

I took yet another Flixbus from Stockholm to Oslo, Norway. One of my most interesting experiencing camping in the wild woods in central Norway, I came into contact with some magnificent forests and a wild boar! I came to Oslo on Sep. 3rd 2022 from Stockholm.

Going back in time, the next country I visited was Stockholm Sweden. I came via Flixbus on August 30th, 2022. Here are some photos from Stockholm below…

My visit to Durres, Albania, bus trip from Tirana!

I spent one morning taking a bus from Tirana to Durres Albania beach resort. Durres, Albania is a coastal/beach resort city of over 100,000 that is about 30 miles from the capital Tirana. The best thing about it is that its easily reachable for a day trip from Tirana on a local bus for only 150 lek which is about $1.33, and the same price on the way back. The trip only takes about 35 to 40 minutes via highway. You can also watch the video i filmed in Durres on my Youtube Channel for more of a visual and audio tour here and read a little more of my life in another post on Albania, here.

A few logistical concerns… on the bus to Durres.

Just be advised that at present time the bus and the weather outdoors in Albania is a little hot and sunny, so you may need to dress appropriately or rent an umbrella at the beach or even cool off in the water. I took a long walk from the Qyteti Studenti neighborhood near the University of Tirana to the north south bus station. If you are not a fan of walking you can take a local bus or a taxi cab at extra cost, but I decided to tough it out before the sun got too hot. Now on the bus, i was forced to put my expensive backpack under the bus and not in my lap or near my feet, this was not cool. I think next time I will just take a towel, as well as a smaller bag with a few personal items to avoid having to stow my bag (to avoid theft of my expensive items).

Now for the good news for my visit to Durres! There are a few cool sites to see in Durres, namely the beach resort, and if you want to take a swim its an easy ride! Its the beach, one of my favorite places. There are some nice chairs and some small restaurants. The water is easily swimmable. The coolest historical site is the amphitheater and ill detail that site below. I chose to hit the beach for awhile and to walk the entire length of the beach 3 to 4 miles but probably I would have been better off going to the amphitheater first then heading to the beach due to the heat.

durress albania
the beach resorts at Durres, Albania

Now on with the Amphitheater. If you go to the center of town near the port of Durres, you will see a sign near some of the public buildings on the location of the Roman Amphitheater which was built all the way back in the 2nd century AD and used to the 4th century. Its the largest Roman amphitheater in the Balkans, about 200 feet wide. An interesting fact is that it was not rediscovered underneath the ground until the 1960s. It is basically a ruin now that is being restored, but very cool looking, see images below….

roman amphitheater in Durres, Albania
durres albania bus trip
roman amphitheater on my trip to durres, albania
tiled fresco painting 4th century chapel inside the amphitheater

Once you visit the amphitheater, you can see that there is a fresco painting that was created in a Christian chapel in the 4th century after the Romans stopped using the amphitheater, this is very cool indeed! Enjoy.

Planning a trip to Skopje, north Macedonia, backpacking summer of 2022

Hello traveling girls and guys! This week I plan on doing a little bit more research on the country of North Macedonia since that’s my first stop away from Albania later this summer.

Let us look at the cost. Not unlike its neighbors, North Macedonia is really cheap as compared to the USA. I see on booking.com that there is a youth hostel that has shared rooms in Skopje for only $5 US. That’s really appetizing for me as a budget traveler, and while shared rooms might not be the most comfortable place to sleep for a 40s something non-partying male the savings is good enough for me for the short term.

I walked over to the international bus station in Tirana, behind Ring Center shopping mall where ill be catching the bus when the time comes. Prices are in the range of $21 from Tirana to Skopje, really not close to the $4 local buses to places like Vlore and Durres, but still not too bad.

So, let’s take a look at a few other things, just to make sure it’s a good location. A few things I look at are geography, crime, transportation, weather, then after that the fun stuff I can do while there.

Crime in North Macedonia … Is it a safe place to visit?  Let’s check North Macedonia like we did for Bulgaria. The homicide rate for North Macedonia on Wikipedia is listed at 1.2 and on Nation Master, 1.94, whereas the US is at 5. Next, we take a look at total crimes per 1000 on Nation Master, North Macedonia is at 9.55 whereas the USA is at 41.29. North Mac is lower than Bulgaria and the USA, so that’s perfectly fine, next….

Now on with the tour de North Mac, Geography, population, GDP, weather, anyone? – In terms of area Macedonia is 9900 square miles so we can assume something like 90 miles wide by 100 miles tall, basically shaped like a blob, with no coastline. Two major features are that it is landlocked and that its very mountainous. Now I’ve got to check the weather to make sure its not too cold for my summer wardrobe… the average high in Skopje in July is 90 and the average low is 71 degrees; however, some mountain peaks might be significantly colder. I’ll bring a light jacket as well as a hat (I mostly need these for Sweden) for when I hike these peaks.

The population is 2 million, so smaller than Albania, and a bit larger than its tiny neighbor, Montenegro at 620,000 people. Now the GDP of North Mac is $5,880 versus $5,215 for Albania and $7,666 for Serbia. We can make the assumption, it’s a bit of a low-income country as compared to the good ole USA. In my experience GDP per capita is roughly related to cost of living, but I like to do a bit more research just to make sure on expenses, on with this in a bit.

The fun stuff, tourist attractions in North MacedoniaI like to mix it up, so ill probably be choosing some outdoor locations first, like mountains, some historical sites like old ruins or castles, perhaps some shopping and some city life here … now here’s the list of top attractions…

  1. Lake Ohrid – looks interesting and scenic and not within the city of Skopje. There’s a cool looking monastery nearby.
  2. The old Bazaar, Skopje – this looks like my top city attraction in Skopje since I like to window shop and wander streets
  3. Vodno Cable Car – this cable car is actually similar to the one near Tirana, its close to Skopje so this would be a cool place to wander to.
  4. Kale Fortress – a fortress/castle that overseas the entire city of Skopje, another easy one to see and take some photos.
  5. Monastery of Travesic – this looks more like some of the monasteries I saw over in Montenegro. Scenic views are nice, then we head on over to Bulgaria next.

Trip to Bulgaria, Trip Planning and initial research on travel

bulgaria stone bridge

Hello traveling girls and guys! Its time to get down to brass tacks on my interest in visiting Bulgaria. I personally have never been but on the map its close to my current location in Tirana, so I’m going to do some research and see what I can find out. I start by first looking at the cost, but I discussed this in another blog post related to travel expenses here, so the next few things I look at are geography, crime, and transportation, then after that the fun stuff we can do while there.

Is it a safe place to visit? Too much violence esp. if anything is directed against tourists like over in Cancun this is a no go for me. Lets check Bulgaria. The homicide rate for Bulgaria on Wikipedia is listed at 1.9 and on Nationmaster, 2.3, whereas the US is at 5. This gives me some idea of the level of violence in a country. Next we take a look at total crimes per 1000, Bulgaria is at 18.93 whereas the USA is at 41.29. Research over, this is low enough for me….

See my note at the bottom related to crime against tourists…

Now on with the tour of Bulgaria, crime is good, next I took a look at local bus prices. I’m fine spending a few hours on a local bus without AC if gets me from A to B. Prices on these $15 to $33 as of June 2022. They just reinstated the international bus lines between Skopje, Macedonia and Sophia, Bulgaria. Check with en.kaleiatravel.com or makedonijasoobrakaj.com.

Geography, population, GDP of Bulgaria – In terms of area Bulgaria 42,500 square miles so we can assume something like 235 miles wide by 180 miles tall, basically shaped like a rectangle. That’s about the same size as Tennessee. From what I’m told Bulgaria is greener than the surrounding countries so that means many forests, its somewhat mountainous like other countries in the Balkans. The population is 7.15 million, so about twice as large as Albania and roughly the same size as Serbia. Now the GDP of Bulgaria is $21,800 versus $12,500 for Albania and $15,100. In my experience GDP per capita is roughly related to cost of living.

The fun stuff, tourist attractions in BulgariaI like to mix it up, so i might choose some architectural sites, a city marketplace, museums, beach relaxation, mountain hikes, or historic ruins, exercise or some of each, here’s the list for Bulgaria, but subject to change …

  • #1. Boyana Church, Sofia,
  • #2. Alexander Neevsky Cathedral, Sophia,, green and gold plated dome, most famous in Bulgaria,
  • #3. Veliko Tarnovo, city with old architecture,
  • #4. Nesebar, ancient ruins, along the coast near Varna,
  • #5. Sunny Beach, north of Bergas, beach town/resort area,
  • #6. Krushuna Waterfalls, town of Krushuna, 183 km east of Sophia
  • #7. Plovdiv, Ancient ruins, amphitheater
  • #8. Ruse, small town along the Danube, 19th century architecture,
  • #9. The stone desert, near Varna
  • #10. Belogradchik, near mountains, castles.

Crime against tourists… Here’s one thing I’ve learned as a traveler, petty crime like pickpocketing or stealing low priced items is something that can go on wherever, whenever; check out my tips for onebag travel safety in another post here.

Ways to Save Money on Travel part #2!

Hello traveling guys and girls! Ready to hear some more tips to save cash on your backpacking trip ahead of time?!?! Sometimes when I travel, its a constant push and pull with money. The locals know you have at least enough to take an international flight to their country and take a tour, if you aren’t working while they are, right? So sometimes they just want your money. Over in Morocco, even though its a cheap place, there were many beggars and salesman in the street who really wanted my cash. I can understand this to some extent because its a very poor country. Sorry Morocco, I’m going to give us travelers a few tips to extend our little journey, with all due respect your country’s poverty. We are a bit stingy here at SoloVagabond.

Tip #1 – take local buses in countries like Albania and the Balkans! This can be an experience. Over in Morrocco, they also have two classes of busses, one for local people which are much cheaper and ones that are considered to be tourist class buses. I’m going to separate this out into local CITY buses and local inter-city buses! two types of trips. Yesterday, i just popped over to what is called the North South bus station, over here, they have busses headed upto Shkoder, near the lake and the border with Montenegro. I wanted to make an inquiry as to the price of a bus ticket to Shkoder to see the lake. It was 400 lek, which is toughly $3.70 not much cash at all, thank you! The driver and the passengers could barely speak English! Now they also have some fancier busses around town with Wifi aboard and AC but im just fine riding with the locals. One of these would cost between $8 and $15. As long as the country isnt too dangerous im fine with riding local.

Tip #2, avoid scams! Get recommendations! If you are visiting Thailand there’s some scams over there. Although it is a beautiful country, and i witnessed this once or twice. Make sure to read reviews and recommendations for whatever tour, service, product, boat ride, elephant photos, jet ski ride, and so on! One scam that local young Thai guys pull over in Pattaya is the jet ski scam. A young guys comes up with a jet ski, i actually saw one of them riding around the bay, they then ask tourists to rent the jet ski, after the ride is over, they accuse the customer of causing damage to the ski, its usually already broken. Thats when about 10 or 20 other Thais show up in attempts to intimidate the tourists. Sometimes the police will intervene and sometimes not! Me? I road a jetski that belonged to some Irishman who i met on the beach, so lucky there! i am brought my own inflatable boat to avoid the scam! Yes so in Thailand just watch out and hopefully you’ll be fine. One of my strategies, might be a bit isolating, but if you dont want to be ripped off dont employ anyone! just enjoy a day at the beach free, tan or swim!

Tip #3, use local city buses for long trips in the city! Over in Madrid, I landed at the airport, then i went into the underground where all the subways and buses lead you into town. I asked a local Spanish guy which bus i should be taking, he directed me to 1 bus, then a subway (as we call them in NYC), then a regional rail line, a lot of transfers, oops! Now the city bus lines are way slower but they are also WAY cheaper. It was around 1.5 euros. Now what happened on my after dark ride down south to my hostel? I had to backtrack on the regional rail and that cost me a few extra euro. I actually ended up spending about 10 to 12 euro on transportation to get to my hostel, but thats ok, live and learn. The next day I took a local red line bus from my hostel about 1/2 mile near the center of town for only 1.5 euro. Now the Spanish guy probably didnt know that i was a backpacker with a really low budget, he was just trying to help, but in this case from the airport in madrid i could have taken 2 local buses 1 to city center, and one south to my hostel for 3 euro, i just happened to be at the wrong terminal to catch the red line local bus.

Google maps is a godsend in identifying which single line busses that you can take within Madrid and other Spanish cities, as well as our good friend, London’s double decker buses, now over in London you do get 1 transfer free for the same price as 1 ride on a red line Madrid bus (no free transfer there). Now one tip about the London busses, if you are getting off at Gatwick or any of the other airports, make sure to pick up an Oyster card for 5 GBP. you may get your deposit back before returning to the airport. For the transfers you must swipe into the second bus 1 hour or less time after you swipe the first. Now London red double deckers can get stuck in traffic sometimes, but its definitely a way cheaper option of transport as compared to the tube, and car services like the black car.

Tip #4 Can you ride a bicycle? This is something that might apply to a long term backpacker like me but i thought i would include it anyway. If you have a bike, you wont have to pay the above mentioned bus fare at all, right? and your leg power is free, right?

Travel Socks? Wool, Polyester, or cotton, which should I choose for my travel backpack/feet?

Hey traveling guys and gals! I have just returned back to Tirana, Albania this week and one of the calls to action before I leave again is to sort out which types of socks I want to travel with on my next backpacking adventure! I currently have a selection of both wool (which is an animal based fiber), polyester (a synthetic fiber), and cotton, (a plant based fiber). All 3 have their advantages but all 3 have disadvantages to use.

Polyester Socks – my experience. Most recently, my polyester socks have developed holes in the heels after only 1 month of usage, walking in boots. Now these are cheapie socks TBH! I bought these for only 10 dirham ($1) in Morocco, actually 6 pairs total. I had the same problem with two pairs of polyester socks that I bought in Tirana Albania 6 months ago, unfortunately! These I bought for a price of $3 if I’m not mistaken, also cheap. So I think its probably necessary to switch. The advantage of polyester as a fabric is that the fabric acts as a good insulator and also is quick drying! however I guess my hiking as well as my feet are just too tough for these socks! Next! Weight 2.5 oz per pair! Price $1 to $3 per pair!

Wool Socks – my experience. Now wool is a really tough indestructible material, and I do love these for my feet! But I am now going to discuss some of the disadvantages of this material. Over in Spain I tossed two pairs of wool socks because of the stink! oops yes a little bit embarrassing, but at the time I had no way to clean or disinfect the socks because I was on the road. All 3 types suffer from this problem so this may be a different issue, related to my usage or cleanliness as opposed to the material.

Now on to the advantages of wool, it is a really good insulator if you are hiking in winter! Very good, I will be taking my wool hat to Sweden. its also good at wicking away moisture as opposed to cotton. Now for the disadvantages. Its heavy heavy! You may have seen my lighterpack blog post related to attempting to DECREASE the weight of my backpack, not increase obviously! Wool socks come in at about 5 oz per pair as opposed to 2.5 oz for polyester. Here’s another problem with wool socks, they are really expensive!!! Not good for a lowly budget backpacker like me who sleeps in a tent! Cost is between $5 and $25 a pair. Weight 5oz per pair! Cost $5 to $25 per pair!

Cotton Socks – my experience. Now cotton is kind of an in between choice. Its cheap enough to be easy to replace often, also it doesnt wear out like the polyester socks that I have been having trouble with. Cotton isnt really super expensive like wool, perhaps $3 a pair for boot socks. They are not as good an insulator as wool, but a few advantages are that they are tougher than polyester. In the past ive had a few pairs of cotton socks that have lasted more or less foreever, even with tons of constant walking and usage. The weight is more or less in between wool and polyester. Weight: 3.0 oz per pair, Price $3 per pair!

Conclusion, for my choice id like to get some socks that last me awhile, so ill definitely be looking to replace my polyester socks with Wool or cotton. I may take some of both on my next trip. Stay tuned!!!

How to save money while traveling

how to save money on travel

Hey traveling guys and girls! Looking for a few tips by a professional traveler on how to save money while traveling? You have come to the right travel blog! I’ve been traveling the world for 2.6 years, so I have quite a few tips. I am an American, who has traveled to about 15 countries. This blog is mostly focused on international travel for Americans. The good news here is that MOST countries that dont start with a U and end with an A are cheaper to visit and live inside of. For example, I was pleasantly surprised that England was not really very expensive and the same with Spain, and ill tell you why.

#1 Travel in a country that is technically a 3rd world country – my first tip! One of the first places that I visited was Thailand. First because its very popular and I saw some videos on Youtube about the super cheap cost of living, and this is definitely true! So avoid the developed world, because that is where people have high salaries and make a lot of money and therefore the rent and food prices are more. Even though special Thailand is a popular tourist destination, it is still firmly in the developing world, so prices are cheaper, there’s some poverty, and trash around, and the currency is still low compared to the almighty US Dollar.

There’s good things and bad here, but with regards to money its all good. You can find an apartment for $150 to $300 USD, and you can find a meal for less than $2. Over in Pattaya, Thailand i used to frequent a Thai ladies food cart that was so tasty, a full meal with rice and chicken for 40 baht which is roughly $1.20. Over in southeast Asia, most of the countries are around this price level, for example Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, with the last 3 being a bit cheaper than our friend Thailand.

Plan out your expenses, plan ahead! Tip #2.

The biggest expense for travel is going to be your housing of course, and the second might be your transportation and flight costs as well as food. One of the best ways to save on housing is to get started on looking at housing on the major travel sites like booking.com before you leave, of course. What I have noticed is that sometimes the cheapest or the best valued places get booked a few weeks in advance. If you are waiting until the last minute to book you may not be able to get the best, more affordable valued place in a particular city.

Staying in a hotel?

In my experience, hotels can be some of the worst rip-offs in terms of travel expenses. These are ok if you are looking for a quick vacation with some nice luxuries, but did I mention that I had been traveling for over 2.6 years as a backpacker? Hotels are not usually super economical, but if we go back to our southeast Asia example, sometimes I can find a hotel over in southeast Asia for a few $100 a month, an sometimes if you ask, the hotel may offer you a monthly stay for as much as 50% off the nightly rate!

More tips on housing as a long term traveler: I usually research all of the major ways of sleeping and lodging in a country, hotels, youth hostels like those listed on www.hostelworld.com, airbnb, which is a major long term apartment rental site that has been just great, couch surfing, couchers.org, and booking.com, and even Facebook.com for apartments listings. So for prices over in western Europe and the UK, you may be looking at 2 to 3 times the prices of a place in southeast Asia. Youth hostels are a good answer to this even though some of them can still be expensive.

Camping to save money… Tip #3. Don’t want to pay anything for housing?!?!?! Free housing? Yes I bought a tent and I decided to camp as a way to save money. I didn’t pay anything for 1 month straight of camping over on the Canary Islands. You can see details of what I did as a backpacker here in this blog post. if you are comfortable with sleeping outside or even in a van, you may want to consider this option instead of paying for accommodation.

Food costs. Tip #4. Find out where the locals shop for food! In each country, saving on food can be a bit different. Definitely dont go for the areas that cater strictly to tourists. After a few days inside a place I’m usually shoulder to shoulder with the locals buying my stuff at their price, to avoid what is called “the tourist price.”

Over here in Albania, there are a good selection of chain grocery stores that have sale prices like Spar and Big Market. Albania also many outdoor local food markets. Yesterday i bought potatoes and onions for only 30 cents and this is enough to create a filling meal. Over in Montenegro and Serbia you can find local fast food restaurants that sell burgers for $2, still pretty cheap as compared to the USA, and in Spain I found another local cafe that sold a burger meal for $3.5, not too bad as compared to the USAs $8.

What do you eat? Tip #5. What are you eating? Since potatoes are a cheapie food, i like to cook them about once or twice a week. Some other cheap foods are things like beans, which you can find over in the UK for about 30 to 40 pence a can. I was quite surprised to see that food is cheap compared to the USAs prices where you may find a can of whatever for 99 cents instead of 40. Another good one is pasta. Over here, i bought a big package of pasta for about 70 Lek which is a total of 60 us cents. This pasta lasted me a few nights, i put some spices on top and it was fine as a meal for one or two nights, and one night i added some cheese, although this was a bit more expensive. Find out what foods are cheapest in the country that you are visiting. Good luck.

Free tours Tip #6. What is free in your chosen city? In many cities they have what is called a free tour where you are expected to make a donation, but of course you dont have to make one. I usually make a small one of $1 or $2. Some of these tours are helpful and some are not, it really depends on the talent of the guide. Over in Belgrade i went on a cool tour with this guy who seemed to know every bit of rich history of the Belgrade, and all the wars too. Just enjoy and walk away. These tend to be much cheaper than guided tours that you pay for ahead of time. Self guided tours are also helpful if you can look on Google to find these. Happy travel. Good luck saving money while traveling!

Sleeping at the airport to save money… my experience!

sleeping at tirana airport

Hey traveling guys and girls! If you are like me and you are a backpacker looking to cut corners and save money on your long term trip, i can give you some advice on my experience sleeping at the airport so you dont need to pay for a hotel room for the night. Now, it may not be the most comfortable place to sleep, but its free.

A little more about my present situation, over here in Tirana, Albania, I am renting a temporary apartment/studio from this local Albanian man who doesn’t mind to deal with tourists, students, and other people like myself who are travelers – my second time staying here. Unfortunately he already rented my room for two nights to a group of soccer fans over in Tirana for some European finals matches. I arrived here 5 days ago. So because of this i had to vacate my room to allow them to stay for two nights…then come back later – i thought my traveling fun was over….

Camping vs. Hostel vs Airport sleeping?!?!??!?! Which should I choose? Now for me its nice to take a comfy break inside a regular apartment with my own bed, kitchen and bathroom alone for a budget price, so i was happy to be back after 5 months on the road! For these two nights i had been looking for a spot to camp, and i was originally not impressed by the selection… heres a spot i droned in, but i felt it was a bit too dirty to camp near… plus some not so nice looking characters hanging around.

So off we go to the airport! Well not quite, the first night away from my room I chose to stay at a hostel, the Albania Hostel, it was a discount price, and honestly its a pretty decent place for hosteling. I asked them if i could pitch my tent on the roof but they declined! Lucky for me Tirana Airport is open 24 hours a day and another minor stroke of luck, the shuttle to and from Tirana is now free in celebration of the soccer match. It normally costs 400 lek or about 3.5 USD! Now this night wasn’t the typical night for Tirana, there are tons of soccer fans hanging around here and at the airport, but from my experience they were pretty well behaved most of them.

Sleeping at the airport – my little lie about FLYING! When I arrived at the airport I grabbed some snacks from the 24 hour CONAD grocery shop. I had my large backpack as well as my stuff sack with me as luggage (as if i was taking a flight). Of course i had checked the flight schedule and the desk agent asked as i was sleeping which plane i was getting onto. I told them London Luton at 6AM with Wizzair! Haha, the one i just got off of, it actually landed at 2:30AM 5 nights ago, and that was my first night sleeping at this very same airport.

Where to sleep? If you dont want too much attention, choose some place in a corner and perhaps face the wall. I personally dont mind being near other people so i just sat on some of the chairs the ones with the backs. They also have a clothe covered bench here at Tirana Airport. I leaned back and dozed off about 1030PM and there weren’t too many people around. For security I’ve got my Pacsafe backpack with the security zip, as well as the chain attached to my belt. I keep my wallet and cell inside the bag. You can read more about this bag and its security features here.

How was sleeping at Tirana airport? Well for this evening, I got away with it! I wasn’t told to leave. The security bothered me once as I mentioned about which flight I was taking, but otherwise there was no problem from them. About 2AM there were tons of people who showed up at Tirana airport for the next days flights. One German man woke me up by having a loud conversation on his cell right next to me. Around 5am, i woke up and instead of checking in for the fictitious flight to Luton I used the bathroom then switched to a seat near the airport exit. About 20 mins later i was on the bus back to the center of Tirana, and then in Grand Tirana park awaiting the return to my room.

sleeping at tirana airport
this guy doesnt look like hes having fun at Tirana Airport

Tips for living inside of a hostel … my experience!

hostel in london

Hello traveling guys and gals! The solo vagabond is currently still staying at one of the cheapest hostels in London, in the northern part of the city! Ill be staying in London hostels for a few weeks time. I’ve been around the world now about 2.5 years so I’ve got a lot of experience living in hostels, here are a few tips to keep your journey safe and avoid any problems at hostels…

#1 Passport. When I check into a hostel most of the hostels dont really ask too many questions about my stay there or who I am. They seem most concerned about my passport, so dont lose yours! It seems as though if you dont have it, you wont be able to sleep anywhere. In most countries, like England, Morocco, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Thailand, they all ask for it. I keep it inside my backpack in a packing cube and always keep my backpack with me and locked just to make sure.

#2. Cash or Credit? Make sure to have your passport and the required method of payment. Over at www.hostelworld.com most of the hostels require a down payment via credit card on their site while then paying in cash the remainder of the balance. Make sure to have this available upon arrival or before. One of the hostels required me to pay the entire balance a few days after booking and not at my check in. I prefer to pay in cash, just in case I should have some problem with the CC payment or my transportation. I usually do some research just to see which ATM locally does not charge an ATM fee. also make sure there are no hidden charges from the hostel, some will list that taxes are separate or they charge for a locker etc.

#3. Secure your valuables!! Here’s a big one. In most hostels I go to I hear stories about people losing stuff and missing possessions. When I was over in Valencia, Spain, I had left two items in plain site on my bed, granted they were not expensive things. The items were a can of spray deodorant and a mini carton of orange juice. Perhaps whoever was in the room thought I was leaving them behind, but they were as gone as a ghost upon my return to the room a few hours later. Whenever I go to the shower I lock my backpack or take it with me, or take the keys with me. its my Pacsafe lockable and slash proof bag. Heres the link of my description, a great bag! most hostels have lockers that you can put a lock on. I bring a lightweight Titanium lock by Abus with me to my hostel.

#4. Stay away from the dorm… let me explain… I personally wake up early …. this morning i was up at 6am and by 630am in the shower. I was out the door by 650am even though at present I’m not working, i just had enough of sleep, but most people might sleep for later, especially young travelers. So try not to make noise inside the dorm. That is what most other guests would expect. One of the things i do is to move my stuff in my backpack outside of the sleeping room and even my clothes so that im not banging it around for too long to wake my fellow roomies.

#5 Stay away part #2. This is just another point from #4. if you have a doubt about who is staying in a hostel or they seem shady or dangerous or unfriendly, its best just to sleep there and get out in the AM, go to a coffee shop or to a park, these types of locations are where I spend most of my time during the day just to avoid any issues with any other hostel-goers, granted you could also meet some interesting people there, but if they aren’t interesting or friendly just stay away and mind your own business. This is especially true of the cheapest hostels you may find in a city. Come back around 9pm or 10pm to sleep. Enjoy the city.

#6 Tidy up your bed and the sink… Some of your roomies might become annoyed if you leave food wrappers, trash, Kleenexes, or your possessions scattered around the bed. I usually make a point to pack up whatever I’m leaving in the room in my locker or my backpack and toss anything else in the trash, then i leave. One time I used my beard trimmer over the sink, and the guy after me said hey are you going to clean this up? Well i did of course, i just washed my hair down the sink and that was it, but some people can get a bit more perturbed. Just make sure to be more polite with the trash and it should go smoothly.

#7 Ask to change rooms… If all else fails and you have a problem, you can ask the manager for a switch. This happened to me one time over in Barcelona. Later one night a shady person showed up in the bed next to my bed at the hostel, it was a sex worker, and I’m not even sure if it was a man or a woman. She or he was kind of a ghetto person and didn’t say hello, granted she didn’t bother me either, but I was a bit freaked out. I asked the manager if i could switch rooms but he refused, so i just left at 530am. Whoever this was didn’t come back to the hostel by 530am, and i was checking out the next day anyway. Some hostels will allow you to switch others will not, so it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Good luck and enjoy travel!

One Bag – repacking my bag for summer! courtesy of Lighterpack.com

packing for summer

Hey traveling guys and gals! With this post I am going to update my followers on how I plan on revamping my one bag backpack with stuff for summer, and dumping some of my winter garments back into storage over in Albania! I am quite eager to change my wardrobe and lighten up the load!

For starters, you may want to check my original packing post to get an idea of what I am packing, its the Pacsafe Exp 45 backpack.

For starters, here are a few items that I am going to either replace, dispose of, or put into storage in my home away from home, storage unit: My heavy winter coat. This heavy, bulky coat weighs 3.3 lbs. Its by Jack & Jones, its a great coat for winter, but definitely too bulky for summer travel. Ill be replacing this coat with a light windbreaker plus an top of long underwear for men as I may be some areas that are still chilly for summer, namely Scandanavia! This will be a savings of around 2 lbs.

In terms of clothing, I plan on leaving behind one of my pairs of cotton blue jeans, which tend to be very heavy and weigh down in high humidity areas (1.5 to 2 lbs so about 24 to 32 oz!). I may be replacing this with some polyester hiking pants and definitely at least two pairs of shorts. Next, I’ll be revamping my underwear collection by replacing my heavy cotton boxers with polyester boxer briefs (big boxers are bulkier). I am still going to pack 4 outfits. Here is my current set up broken out by item categories and their weights. You can see that it contains a bit of everything. *** SLIGHT CORRECTION HERE, my drone container weighs more than I thought it did about 14 oz, and I didn’t have the Mini 2 drone plus controller broken out as separate items ****

Here is my new set up, its a bit smaller, notice that the base weight has decreased by two lbs. I personally am comfortable carrying a pack that weighs about 20 lbs., although getting down to 15 lb. would also be a plus. One other item that I’ve chosen to eliminate is my power bank which I rarely use that weighs 12 oz. Its an Anker at 23,000 MAH. I just dont have time to charge it often, so out it goes! I will be adding a pair of water shoes for walking around rocky beaches which I love! Packing is personal so it really depends on your interests as to what items you really need and want. Here is the new list:

See you on the road this summer!