Tell Me Your Favorite City For A Chance To Win $300 In The 2015 Best City To Visit Travel Tournament

February 24, 2015 by  
Filed under Contests, Money

craiova romania travel

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament is back and you can win $300 four weeks from now by simply naming your favorite city in the comments below.

To enter, write your favorite city in the comments of this post before Monday, March 2nd 12:00pm US EST.

A Few Rule Changes This Year

This annual contest that takes place over the course of March is no stranger to controversy but your suggestions after last year’s Romanian repeat made me think a change in the format was appropriate. This year, entries will be grouped by region so that cities from the same country will compete against each other in the early rounds.

sarajevo travel

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament is a round robin style competition, with voting every week during the month of March. I’ll take the first 64 cities you nominate, which will be halved every round by your votes.

Cities Already Taken

My newsletter subscribers were given the first picks in this year’s tournament so the cities listed below are already taken. Scan the comments underneath this post, look for the city you want to nominate, then type it in if someone else hasn’t already claimed it.

  • Dublin, Ireland – (Ken)
  • Taichung, Taiwan – (Maddie)
  • Lviv, Ukraine – (Stephen)
  • Bucharest, Romania – (Earl)
  • Boston, MA, USA – (Rachel)
  • Kochi, India – (Deniz)
  • Shanghai, China (Daphne)

porto travel

Please keep in mind that many comments automatically go into moderation where they remain invisible until they’re approved. Selections are still first come, first serve, keep checking back to see if you got the city you wanted or need to pick an alternate.

craiova city hallImportant Contest Dates

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament 2015 runs right into the beginning of April with several quick voting rounds starting on Tuesday, March 3rd. Remember, voting early is one proven way to get ahead in the tournament, here are a few other strategies you can learn from previous winners.

  • Tuesday March 3rd: Round of 64
  • Thursday March 5th: Round of 32
  • Tuesday, March 10th: Sweet 16
  • Tuesday, March 17th: Elite 8
  • Tuesday March 24th: Final Four
  • Tuesday, March 31st: Championship

The winner of this year’s tournament will be announced on Tuesday, April 7th and prize money sent to you by July 1, 2015. Those are quite a few dates to keep up with – the best way not to miss anything is to get my posts sent directly to your inbox.

Money For You A Travel Plan For Me

Last year I was incredibly fortunate to meet the reasons Craiova, Romania was The Best City to Visit in 2014. No city is too small or little traveled to advance far in the tournament, all you need is a passionate following. I’ll visit the winning city before the year is up and look forward to seeing where you’ll send me this year!

All The Places I’ve Been While Taking Online Language Courses With italki

February 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Culture, Site News

india rickshaw selfie

You can’t help but be amazed by the Internet when you’ve been attending a virtual classroom with teachers from all over the world while traveling and blogging for a living. But that is exactly what I’ve been doing since I began taking Arabic lessons on italki in December.

Despite shifting timezones, a long layover or two in Istanbul plus the occasional rickshaw traffic jam, I’ve learn to read, write, and speak Arabic conversationally. These are the 7 cities across 3 countries, from the developed to developing world, where I’ve been able to log in most days for class.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Although Bulgaria doesn’t quite have the amazing Internet speeds of neighbor Romania, in Sofia the average download is faster than 90% of the world. Maintaining a solid Skype connection was never an issue, at least on my end.

sofia bulgaria skyline

Varna, Bulgaria

Despite being a 5 hour grandmother’s drive from Sofia, by the time I got to this Black Sea coastal town I had picked up quite a bit of Arabic.

bulgaria varna church

Istanbul, Turkey

There are always late nights in Istanbul but I made sure to set aside some time during the day for an Arabic lesson.

mememen istanbul turkey

New Delhi, India

This being my fifth (or sixth, I can never remember) visit to India, I was well prepared for the first 48 hours – during which I was able to get in two lessons.

new delhi india fruit stand

Varanasi, India

The Internet in Hinduism’s holiest city wasn’t the easiest to work with but the Arabic teachers I have developed a routine with were very flexible. My regular teacher Ali has especially made rescheduling around flaky Internet connections very easy.

varanasi india ghat

Agra, India

I have visited the Taj Mahal three times and can further confirm, it’s one of 5 popular tourist destinations that won’t disappoint you.

taj mahal sunrise agra india

Jaipur, India

Where I am currently typing this from, a few hours before my next Arabic lesson using italki.

fajjon niwas hotel jaipur

Location Language Independence

Even learning to speak tourist before your next vacation takes some time, a commodity that oddly can be scarce when traveling. Programs that don’t have a human element are great for some basic phrases you should know everywhere, but having a teacher can force you to stay committed if you want to go a lingual level deeper. Even a few hours on italki can teach you the slang, local bargaining skills, or colorful curse words to give you a much more local experience.

By The Numbers: What My Arabic Lessons With italki Look Like After 6 Weeks

January 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Site News

craiova romania

At the beginning of December, I began a 3 month project with the language learning site italki with the goal to be conversationally fluent in Arabic. Having now completed a third of the way, here are the raw numbers on my progress and what I’ve learned so far.

19: Number Of Course Hours

I’m taking roughly 5 hours of lessons a week, once per weekday. (I’ve tried two hours sessions but after 60 minutes I begin to lose focus.)

100%: Percentage Of Arabic Script I Can Read And Write

Although it was intimidating at first, I can comfortably read Arabic script as well as write by phonetically sounding out words.

nick miller

2: Number Of Instructors

I spent some time trying out several teachers to get an idea of styles as well as evaluate which might be the best fit for me personally. I eventually fell into a good routine with two particular instructors whose structured lesson plans I’m benefiting from greatly.

1910: italki Credits Used

That would be the equivalent of about $190 for courses so far. Although every instructor sets their own rates, almost all seem to fall into the 120 italki credit (~$12 USD) range. Here’s a bit more on how italki works exactly.

university hall

At Least 100: Words Learned

This one’s hard to quantify but it has to be at least one hundred, not including various common phrases as well.

Where I’m At Right Now

At this point I can conjugate verbs in the past tense from memory and know many of these essential travel word combinations. In a relatively short time, I’ve picked up the structure of Arabic: the rules and grammar which make the language work. Early on I wasn’t sure if laying down this foundation first (prior to speaking skills) would be efficient but the thorough italki instructors have proved me otherwise.

I’ll keep you updated with my weekly progress. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below about the italki process, specifics of what I’m learning, or any tips you might have to make me a better student!

Ask Author And Blogger (Nomadic) Matt Kepnes How To Travel The World On $50 A Day

January 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Books, Discussion, Money

matt kepnes

Today’s live chat guest, Matt Kepnes, is one of the first travel bloggers I met when I began blogging in 2006. In fact, he’s one of the first travel bloggers and his site Nomadic Matt is certainly one of the most successful. Matt recently published the revised version of his latest book, How To Travel The World On $50 A Day, and is here to answer your questions on traveling more while spending less.

Thank you everyone for participating in the chat!

Matthew Kepnes runs the award winning budget travel site, Nomadic Matt. After a trip to Thailand in 2005, Matt decided to quit his job, finish his MBA and head off into the world. His original trip was supposed to last a year. Over seven years later, he is still out exploring and roaming the world. He’s scuba dived in Fiji, was a poker player in Amsterdam, taught English in Thailand, got lost in a jungle in Central America, and broke down in the middle of Australia’s outback.

travel world on $50How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Revised: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter

amazon buy now

In 2009, I interviewed Matt about another book of his on how to make money; he’s back today for one hour from 5-6pm US EST to take your questions on how to travel the world for $50 a day. Ask Matt about blogging, his travels, plus smart budgeting for your next trip all in the comments right below!