IS MEXICO DANGEROUS?
Viewing entries in
Click on the image below to see an off the grid guide to exploring San Francisco! Share with your friends if you are thinking of going!
Off the grid adventures in Denver, Colorado
VISAS VS RECIPROCITY FEES VS TOURIST CARDS
Here's a quick guideline and summary for you to understand the difference between visas, reciprocity fees and tourist cards before you book your travels. You don't want to be in a position where your bags are all packed, only to find out that you can't fly at the airport because need a VISA. Or that your budget is suddenly through the roof because you have to pay $160USD in visa fees. To find out if the country you are visiting needs a visa, tourist card or fee click HERE on my Countries page. You can click on each country to see more information.
VISA (some countries, not all require a visa)-
A visa is a document that states a noncitizen's entry has been approved for a certain amount of time and/or visits. Visitors can NOT enter said country prior to entry date on the visa. Each country has different restrictions, so not all will require one and fees will differ depending on what country you are a citizen of. Generally, you'll have to visit the embassy to fulfill paperwork before your trip and show proof of your flight, address of where you are staying, income and include a passport picture and money order to pay for the fee. Sometimes you have to make appointments weeks in advance, and the visa will be sent to you in the weeks afterwards. Brazilian visas are notoriously hard to get and you will need to leave your passport with the embassy for a few days.
**For the sake of this article, I am talking about tourist visas for American citizens. There are also student, business and other sorts of visas that you could apply for. Cuba, for example does not accept tourist visas from US citizens, but you could always apply to for a journalist visa to get in.
RECIPROCITY FEE -
(Bear with me this can get a bit heady here) A fee charged by a country to visitors that is in direct response to the charges that the passport holder's country charges the other country's citizens to enter. Argentina's $160USD reciprocity fee for US citizens is equal to the USA charging Argentineans a $160USD visa fee to enter the US. The difference between the visa and the reciprocity fee is that you can pay for the fee online or at the airport upon arrival instead of having to visit the embassy.
TOURIST CARD -
Simply a small tax fee that you have to pay upon arrival. There is no need to go to the embassy, one can purchase these online, at the border at the airport or it may come included. Mexico charges American tourists $20USD for a tourist card that is generally included in your flight cost or can be paid at the border crossing.
DEPARTURE TAX -
A small fee the country will charge you that is usually included in your flight ticket or paid at the airport.
*Generally, if you are on a layover and staying in the airport, you will NOT need to get a visa or pay any of the fees as mentioned above.
Questions? Comment below! If it all makes sense to you then in the words of my third grade teacher, Mr. Morano..."Got it, Get it? Goooooooooood."
In the first destination of my $0 flight round up - read my guide on Florida as I hit up Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. As I've mentioned plenty of times - Florida is super cheap to visit right now before the winter crowds come. Click on the picture above to read more about my adventures, and cool things you can do should you make a visit. What do you think of Florida? Comment below!
And how you can fly for free too
Every now and then I'll be featuring posts from other travelers, because quite frankly..the best advice comes from other travelers. This week's feature is from Christina Nguyen, an avid writer and hiker who can kick your ass in any spelling bee or hoop dancing contest. (No, seriously - check out this rad video of her hoop dancing in the Grand Canyon)
This native West Coaster has made the leap over to the East Coast in Sunny Florida and is part of the new start up company, Wetravel.to. The company strives to make group travel as efficient, easy and free as possible. The next time you plan on making a group trip be sure to visit the site to build an itinerary, collect money and organize the group so no one's left stuck in the mud.
THE SECRET I'LL MISS OF SANTA BARBARA
EAST COAST VS WEST COAST?
Despite having grown up on the West coast my entire life I’m still figuring out which coast is my favorite. I definitely took it for granted.
Santa Barbara receives its fair share of tourists, particularly from European countries due to its beautiful landscape and year-round mild weather. It’s an ocean-front city of antique Spanish architecture surrounded by the Santa Ynez mountain range. I was lucky enough to spend an amazing 5 years there.
"FUNNY THING ABOUT LIVING SOMEWHERE: YOU DON'T REALIZE HOW BEAUTIFUL IS UNTIL YOU LEAVE IT."
When you have school and work and friends, how often are you really going to get out and explore everything in the vicinity? You think, oh next week I’ll go on that hike, or I’ll check out the other beach eventually. It’ll always be there.
It’s still there, alright, but now I’m on the other side of the country. Santa Barbara is well-known as a resort destination. There are plenty of tours that showcase around the downtown outdoor shopping area to the historic mission, take you out to the sea and even along the beach on Segways. Those were all certainly wonderful ways to enjoy the city, but the things I really miss about Santa Barbara were a bit more off the beaten path.
A SECRET LOCAL
One of the best things tourists miss out on when visiting Santa Barbara are the little trails that follow around the university towards the butterfly reserve.
Right next to the University of California Santa Barbara there’s a little town called Isla Vista, inhabited mostly with college students. Follow the most oceanside street, Del Playa and you'll reach the cliffs where the houses end and a pathway that leads all the way to Sands beach. TIP: Don’t call the street “Del Playa” in front of the locals because they ridicule anyone who doesn’t refer to it as “DP”. It’s a lovely trail with the ocean on one side and then trees and tall grassy lands on the other side with the mountains in the background. You’ll see locals jogging, biking, or bringing their surfboards along the little dirt road.
When you’ve reached the end of the road, off to the right is the access way to Sands Beach which even on the most crowded days still looks like a private beach. Sands beach is especially a treasure to the locals because the sands naturally experience less seaweed buildup than the bordering side, Goleta Beach. The stunning panoramic view of the ocean alongside the cliffs near the mountains is enough to inspire the soul into the sublime. I can still feel the breeze of the cool air from when I used to talk these scenic walks. The clear air was so refreshing that even the oil rigs in the horizon looked decorative.
There are several little dirt paths that branch away from the main dirt road which will lead you on a secluded nature walk. You would never believe that civilization was just around the bend. If you were to continue down Sand Beach not to far along is the Goleta Monarch Butterfly grove. It’s a precious haven that is free to visit for nature lovers. All these beautiful paths were just a walk away from my front door.
It’s now been about 3 months since I’ve moved to Miami, and I’m still adjusting to the culture-shock, hence all the nostalgia. One beach doesn’t quite exactly equal the other. Miami does deliver on warm waters in the ocean and humid weather. But visiting South Beach is very different than the scene I have pictured from the stock photos of the city. It is densely populated here and traffic is horrendous. I guess I just haven’t found my secret path here yet. Looking forward to finding out where the locals really get the most out of this tropical version of Los Angeles. There’s certainly one thing that I can give Miami kudos for:
It’s that they have the most majestic sunsets I have ever seen.