Is the Skyroam Portable Hotspot Device Worth It? The No BS Truth

Is the Skyroam Portable Hotspot Device Worth It? The No BS Truth

If you’ve never heard of the Skyroam portable hotspot device before, you’re about to hear everything there is to know about this powerful little device. After one use, I questioned how I ever travelled before without it. I love mine and am absolutely obsessed with it, it never leaves my side! So for me, it is 110% worth it. But is it worth it for YOU? That’s the question. I’ll get to that later after I tell you all about this incredibly handy little device!

Skyroam Portable Hotspot Device

In a Nutshell

The Skyroam is a portable hotspot device that allows you to stay connected to wifi all around the world.

It works in 100+ countries (and counting) and gives you unlimited and secure wifi for 24-hour periods.

What Countries Does the Skyroam Work in? I’m Glad You Asked!

The Americas

Argentina, Aruba,Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saipan, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Island, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela

Europe

Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican

South Pacific

Australia, Christmas Island, Fiji, Guam, New Zealand

Africa

Egypt, Kenya, South Africa

Asia

Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan,Tajikistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

Middle East

Israel, Qatar, Turkey

So How the Heck Does the Skyroam Work?

Does it really matter, it’s awesome. Just kidding, I’ll explain. The Skyroam connects to the best local wifi signal. It basically allows you to access local date, internationally!

Skyroam Portable Hotspot Device

Exploring the Bay of Islands in New Zealand with my Skyroam. I was able to provide live updates to Snapchat while on the go!

It’s SO simple. All you do is turn on the device and hit “start” and BAM, wifi works. Plus, it’s so compact and light you can just slip it in your pocket and take it with you wherever you go.

The bottom line: the Skyroam portable hotspot device is the most convenient way to access wifi when abroad. Period. There is no monthly contract. You pay for what you use, whenever you want to use it.

Some Other Awesome Features of the Skyroam:

  • Your phone doesn’t need to be unlocked to use it! For all those AT&T iPhone users, this is a Godsend.
  • You will no longer have to deal with SIM cards, contracts, or roaming/overage charges.
  • You can connect up to 5 devices: yep, you heard that right! You can hook up 5 devices to the Skyroam and enjoy unlimited international wifi. However, it’s important to note that once you hit the 1GB mark, the service slows down a little. So I wouldn’t connect more than 2-3 devices unless you want super slow service.
  • Use your Skyroam on road trips to access Google Maps! You have no idea how convenient it was to use this device during my New Zealand road trip. It was a life saver!
  • Always use a secure network! Skyroam uses an encrypted connection to keep your data safe and secure while using wifi. (In case you didn’t ever think about it…when you use local wifi in cafes, hotels, restaurants, these networks are not secure and you may be exposed to hackers).
  • The Skyroam Portable Hotspot Device is especially useful and cost effective when traveling through many different countries in a short amount of time.  When you cross borders, the pass does NOT reset and once it connects to the local service it’s good to go!
Skyroam Portable Hotspot Device

Using Google Maps through my Skyroam service saved my life during my New Zealand road trip!

I tested this traveling through the Baltics by bus. I thought maybe the day pass would reset and I would have to use another one once I crossed the border, but this was not the case at all! There was a short transition period of less than 20 minutes and then it picked up the local service of the new country after crossing the border. So easy!

Purchase Options:

Rent vs buy

Rent: you can rent the hotspot and pay $9.99 per day for shorter trips (or if you do not travel often).

Buy: you could buy the hotspot for $99 and then pay $8 for each day pass (which I highly recommend). On the days you don’t use it, you don’t pay!

Oh, and recently they have introduced Skyroam vending machines in San Francisco airport! How cool. You can also purchase the Skyroam in various airports throughout. Two popular airport stores selling the Skyroam include InMotion and Brookstone. To search for a resale stores near you, you can click here

Daily passes: you pay for a daily pass and this gets you unlimited global data for a 24-hr period. So simple!

You can purchase the daily passes anytime at a.skyroam.com.

If you travel even occasionally I would highly recommend buying the device and taking it with you on all trips in case of emergencies. It will come in handy sooner or later and you will be happy to have a backup when necessary (more on that below).

Is the Skyroam Portable Hotspot Device worth it?

Ok, so let’s get down to it. Let me provide a few different scenarios, which will help you decide if it’s worth it for YOU. 

Scenario 1: you’re going to Europe for one week and hitting up 3 different countries.

Is the Skyroam worth it? Hell yes.

Here’s why: getting a local SIM card for 3 different countries will not be very cost effective. It will also be a pain in the a** to waste time in each county finding a reliable SIM.

Example: I was just traveling through the Baltics and spend 2 days in 3 countries. I used the Skyroam with ease and even as I was crossing over the borders(as I just mentioned above). 

Scenario 2-You’re going to Portugal for a month.

Is the Skyroam worth it? No

Here’s why: it would definitely be more cost effective to pick up a local SIM and use that for the duration of your trip. Unless your phone is not unlocked (see below). 

Scenario 3: you’re going to Colombia for 5 days and your phone is NOT unlocked.

Is the Skyroam worth it? Yep

Here’s why: most carriers charge a sh*t ton for international data. Since you will only be there 5 days, use your Skyroam!

Scenario 4: You are traveling to Europe for one month, hitting up 4 different countries, and decide you will purchase a SIM card in each country.

Ok, that still sounds more cost efficient, so you don’t need a Skyroam, right?

Yes and no. My advice is to bring your Skyroam anyway, for emergencies.

Let me explain: let’s say for instance you land in a small airport in Croatia in the evening, all the kiosks are closed (or there is no place at the airport that sells SIM cards), there is no airport wifi, and you need to make it to your Airbnb. The easiest solution? Activate a day pass on your Skyroam to help navigate your way. Then the next day, go ahead and purchase that SIM. This scenario happened to me in New Zealand recently and it was a life saver to be able to cut on my Skyroam and use it to order an Uber. (The airport wifi wasn’t working..something that happens from time to time even if they have wifi!)

Scenario 5: you and a friend are traveling to Iceland for 4 days.

Is the Skyroam worth it? Yuppp.

Here’s why: remember that part above where you can connect up to 5 devices?  Yep. So you and a friend could split the costs and both use the Skyroam! But, I honestly would not connect more than 2-3 devices on this because it tends to slow it down a lot. But using 2 phones is perfectly okay and would make it super convenient for your trip!

→A quick note on Battery life: I read somewhere that the battery on the Skyroam lasts up to 9 hours, but it lasts me about 6 hours. I guess it depends on how much you use it (I use mine a lot). I always carry my awesome dual power bank by Jackery so it’s not a problem. I recharge several devices on this each day while travelling, and the power never runs out.

Crazy Travelista’s Overall Impressions:

I have personally used it on 2 continents and 7 countries so far including: Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Italy, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.

Skyroam Portable Hotspot Device

How did I live without you before?

I have been extremely impressed with the quality of service, speed, and convenience of always having the option to have wifi wherever I go. I have no idea how on earth I ever traveled without it before. It’s light, compact, reliable and the most convenient way to access wifi abroad!

So is it worth it? In some instances it is not, as I highlighted above. But overall, the Skyroam is definitely worth it and something every traveler should own! I have a feeling this is going to revolutionize the way we travel and always being able to share our travels is really awesome. Kudos, Skyroam. Kudos.

To rent/buy, you can check out the Skyroam website here.

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a super small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. I am a brand ambassador for Skyroam and absolutely love it! I wouldn’t recommend something I didn’t truly love!

Liked it? PIN it.

Skyroam Portable Hotspot Device

Solo Travel The Galapagos on the Cheap (ish): How I Did 7 Days/Nights for $994, Including Flights!

Solo Travel The Galapagos on the Cheap (ish): How I Did 7 Days/Nights for $994, Including Flights!

Visiting the Galapagos is a dream for most and I honestly didn’t think I would ever make it there as it is known to be extremely expensive. Due to it’s remote and isolated nature of the Galapagos, as well as its endemic animal species which aren’t found anywhere else in the world, it’s clear why this is such a sought after destination.

Visiting the Galapagos is a once-in-a-lifetime trip and one that people usually plan for years in advance. But I decided to go on a whim and got my plane tickets less than 3 weeks before. Because that’s how I roll.

how to do the Galapagos on the cheap

In all honesty, I wanted to see if I could challenge myself to do this destination for under $1000, without a cruise, just on my own. And when I found out I could use miles to fly there, I was sold.

The entire trip ended up costing me $994 total, true story (I even surprised myself). But I was determined to prove that it CAN be affordable.

So here’s how I did it…

Solo Travel the Galapagos on the Cheap

Plane Tickets

I used airline miles for this trip and I thought it was a great deal for the amount of miles it required. It required 40,000 miles roundtrip (using Mileage Plus/Star Alliance) from Washington Dulles, to Baltra Island, Galapagos. The regular ticket price is around $750 and up. I picked multi destination and flew into Baltra island and out of San Cristobal island. This worked out well since I didn’t have to waste time  (and money) backtracking back to Baltra.

Total cost: 40k miles + $88.16 in taxes

Visas/National Park Fees

The Galapagos is one of the most protected areas on earth. 97% of the islands are protected to be exact. In order to enter, you must pay a few mandatory National Park fees and for a tourist card. There is no way around these fees so make sure to bring enough cash to cover them.

how to do the Galapagos on the cheap

One of only 1,200 penguins on the Galapagos

Fees I paid to enter the Galapagos:

  • $20 for a tourist card (upon departure in Guayaquil or Quito)-they don’t tell you this and I got all the way to the gate without it. I had to run back to the check in area to get one real quick and go all the way through security. The only reason I didn’t miss my flight is because it ended up being delayed. Make sure you get your visa card BEFORE boarding your flight to the Galapagos.
  • $100 National Park fees upon entrance to the Galapagos
  • $10 to enter Isabela island ($5 for locals)

Total: $130

Accommodation

I always thought accommodation on the Galapagos would cost a fortune. But it’s the complete opposite. You can do it super cheap if you want. I saw hostels for $15/night. They also have some super fancy eco resorts that are very pricy as well. But overall, it was very affordable to stay on the islands.

I went on the cheap (ish) side and paid an average of $30 a night, including a mixture of hotels, a private room in a hostel, and an Airbnb. The standards are not as high as one might be used to, but overall it wasn’t a problem. The only problem I had was the presence of little tiny bugs (smaller than ants) that were in almost every place I stayed. I think they just have a problem with bugs being a tropical climate.

Oh and the wifi….the wifi. Wifi on the Galapagos was officially the worst wifi I had ever experienced. It hardly every worked in my room (although the hotels claimed wifi in all rooms) expect for Iguana Hotel on Isabela island. And when it did work, it was so slow you couldn’t even open anything if more than a few people were on the network. I couldn’t open any videos at all while I was there. It was kinda nice to disconnect, but at some points I really needed wifi to look stuff up so it was an annoyance for sure.

Where I stayed in the Galapagos:

Puerto Villamil, Isabela island

Hotel Iguana ($40/night).

This was the cleanest and best place I stayed in the Galapagos. It was also the only place I didn’t see many bugs and the wifi actually worked (slowly) in my room. It was the most expensive accommodation on my trip, but well worth it.

solo travel to the Galapagos on the cheap

Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz

Hostal Vista al Mar ($30/night)

I got a private room here right near the port and good dining options. However, it wasn’t as clean as I would have liked, it had NO air conditioner (only a fan), the wifi was the worst I had experienced, and there were many bugs. I wouldn’t recommend this place honestly.

Hotel España ($30/night)

A cute little hotel with a chill lobby filled with hammocks. When I alerted them of the many bugs in my room, they sprayed it while I was out and it got rid of the problem. The staff was super nice and helpful!

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal

Airbnb San Cristobal ($18/night)

I rented a room in a huge house and was very large and spacious. It had 3 double beds and could have slept 6. It was an 8 minute walk from the main port in a quiet neighoborhood. The host gave me snorkel gear to wear to the beach, which was nice.  Oh, and it was a 5 minute walk to the airpot! The only problem was the huge black beetle bugs I found the first night. When I arrived, all the windows were open so I’m sure thats where they came from. I kept all the windows closed and only saw one more the next day. You can view the listing here

Total $206

Tours

Tours in the Galapagos are highly regulated and not every tour company will operate every day. The reason is they limit the amount of people that can visit each island to a small number per day. This prevents damage to the environment from mass tourism. I wish more places would adopt this method because you can really see how clean and well preserved the environment is over there.

how to do the Galapagos on the cheap

Tours in the Galapagos are not cheap and this is where you will spend a majority of your budget. BUT, the key is to book LAST MINUTE on arrival. DO NOT book tours online, as they are up to 3 times as much! I was quotes as much as $325 for a tour that I eventually went on for $160, by booking last minute.

It can be a little nerve wrecking getting there without any booked tours, especially ones you really want to do. But you will save a shit ton doing it this way. Don’t forget to bargain down about 20% of the asking price as well. They are more negotiable last minute.

Note: they were fully booked for my tour to Bartoleme when I inquired the day before. Apparently tho is one of the most popular tours and not every company will operate daily. I really wanted to do this tour, so I had to move my schedule around and change 2 hotel dates (which both hotels surprisingly let me do free of charge!).

Recommended Tours To Do in The Galapagos:

Bartoleme Island (day trip from Santa Cruz Island)

→(10-hour tour including pickup from hotel, breakfast, and lunch)

solo travel to the Galapagos on the cheap

This tour takes you to the infamous Pinnacle Rock lookout and to snorkel on a nearby beach on Santiago island called Sullivan Bay. It requires light hiking up to the summit for the viewpoint, but it isn’t hard at all.

  • Regular tour price in-person: $180-$200 (and up to $325 online in advance!)
  • Price I received last-minute: $160 (I found one company that offered me as low as $150, but the day didn’t work out)

Los Tuneles (day trip from Isabela Island)

→(5-6 hour tour including lunch. Usually leaves twice a day at 7:30am and 11:30am)

how to do the Galapagos on the cheap

This tour takes you to some great snorkelling spots where we saw sharks, turtles, and sea horses. It also takes you to the otherworldly Los Tuneles, underwater tunnels formed from volcanic lava. It’s like no other landscape you will ever see! We also saw blue-footed boobies here as this is a popular nesting site for this species.

  • Regular tour price in-person: $120
  • Price I received last-minute: $100

I went with the Pahoe Hoe tour company and I was really impressed! Our guide Juan Carlos was super friendly and showed us all the cool animals, including a sea horse! I would have never seen it on my own. He even went down into the caves to find sharks for us to see! Lunch was yummy chicken and yellow rice in an individual tupperware jar.

Kicker Rock (day trip from San Cristobal Island)

→(6 hours and leaves at 9am)

solo travel the Galapagos on the cheap

This tour takes you to the iconic Kicker Rock, a popular spot for viewing sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, white tip sharks, manta rays, and sea lions. We saw ALL these and it was incredible! From the second I jumped into the water and looked down, I saw 2 white tip sharks! If you only do one tour in the Galapagos, do the Kicker Rock. It was hands-down my favorite tour and a day I will never forget.

  • Regular tour price in-person: $100-$120
  • Price I received last-minute: $90

I went with Scuba Eden company and I highly recommended them! They have awesome/upbeat tour guides and very small group sizes. We only had 6 people in our group! They also take GoPro footage of you and give you the footage for free if you want it!

Total spent on tours: $350

Rentals

For the days I didn’t do an organized tour, I rented a bike one day on Isabela island and snorkel gear on Santa Cruz.

solo travel the Galapagos on the cheap

Galapagos “traffic”

  • Snorkel rental: $8/day in Puerto Ayora
  • Bike rental: $15/day Isabela island

total: $23

Transport

Ground transport on the islands is very cheap (although you can walk to lots of places as well). There are taxis readily available and I paid $1-$2 for each ride.

On Isabela and Santa Cruz, the boats can’t dock and you will need to take a water taxi to the boats. Each ride costs $.50-$1.

A word about ferries…

The so-called ferries are actually little speed boats they pile a bunch of people into. It wasn’t the most comfortable situation, especially when the boats are full. The sea can get choppy so make sure to take some Dramamine and sit at the back of the boat to avoid sea sickness.

Ferries between the islands cost $30 one-way. You can only travel to Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristobal by ferry (the only 3 inhabited islands on the Galapagos). All other island require a day trip or cruise to get to.

Note: there is no ferry between Isabela and San Cristobal. If you want to travel between these islands, you must go back to Santa Cruz first and then buy another ticket. So essentially, it would cost $60 to go from Isabela to San Cristobal and vice versa.

Buy tickets as soon as you can because they can fill up, especially in the peak season.

What I spent on transportation in the Galapagos:

  • Taxis: $10
  • Water taxis: $4
  • Ferries: $90

Total: $104

Food

How much I spent on food:

  • Dinners: $52
  • Grocery store snacks/lunch/bottled waters: $37
  • Coffee: $3.50

Total: $92.75

How I did it so cheap:

I brought 2 boxes of protein/granola bars from home which I ate for my breakfasts. I went to the local markets for lunch foods (I never sat down for lunch once, mostly due to no time…but I usually don’t eat a big lunch anyways because it makes me tired and lethargic).

I also inadvertently cut back on 2 of my usual (expensive) habits: coffee and wine. It was so hot and humid that I couldn’t drink much coffee and I was too dehydrated and hot to drink any alcohol. Being hot saved me a lot of money!

There was also one day when my awesome tour guide bought me dinner right after the tour at a local stand that only costed $2 for a fried plantain stuffed with salsa and tuna (sounds like an odd combo, but it was actually really good!)

solo travel the Galapagos on the cheap

Through my research, most online sources said that food will be your biggest expense in the Galapagos. Well, that might be true if you go to the super touristy places on the waterfront. I walked past menus where the average prices were $18-25 per dish. Oh hell no, that’s absurd!

Out of all my expenses, I spent the LEAST on food. And honestly, it’s one of the cheapest places I’ve ever eaten dinner.

The key to eating cheap in the Galapagos is to eat where the locals go. The 2 words you’re going to want to learn are ALMUERZOS and MERIENDAS.

  • Almuerzos (what it’s called at lunch time)
  • Meriendas-(what it’s called at dinner time)

This is a pre-set type of menu that the locals indulge in. It usually consists of soup, fresh juice, rice and main dish of seafood, beef, etc. One place even served dessert with it! And the greatest part is that you can have dinner or lunch for $4-$7. True story.

Where to Eat in The Galapagos:

Kiosco Voluntad de Dios (Santa Cruz): cheap eats from $4.50. I decided to order something off the more “expensive menu” and tried an awesome shrimp with coconut sauce dish (it was $9.50 and well worth it). It’s also a cool spot where you eat at big community tables.

I met some really cool Austrian traveler’s this way. They offered me a bite of fresh fish they had ordered, and it was one of the best fresh fish I ever tried! It was so meaty and huge so definitely try the fish here if you want to splurge on a great meal.

Encanto de la Pepa (Isabela island): it’s on the main strip but super cheap and had a cute little vibe. They offered a $7 set menu consisting of soup, papaya juice, choice of one main (fish, beef, calamari,etc) and one side (rice, salad, fries), plus banana cake. I ordered the calamari in coconut sauce and it was delicious.

Lucky’s (San Cristobal): the cheapest dinner I had in the Galapagos for $4. Included is juice, chicken and veggie soup, chicken or beef and rice, and salad. I couldn’t believe I had all that for dinner for only $4! Ecuador for the win!

Free (or cheap) things to do in the Galapagos:

Santa Cruz island

  • Charles Darwin Research Station (free)-learn more about the amazing ecosystem of the Galapagos and Darwin’s impact left on it. There is also a turtle center and some colourful iguanas to see.
  • Tortuga Bay (free)-a beautiful bay to relax at or swim/snorkel in. It requires a 40 (ish) minute walk to get to. There are boats that can take you there too if you are too lazy to walk. When you get there, walk 15 minutes to the right for a place to swim and snorkel. Along the way, you will see a gorgeous blue/green wading pool that is very picturesque. They should really call this Iguana bay because you literally will see hundreds of iguanas on the beach and in the water.
solo travel to the Galapagos on the cheap

The gorgeous little lagoon on the way to Tortuga Bay

  • Las Grietas(free-ish)-the taxi is $1.60 round trip to get there, hence the “ish”. It’s a great place to snorkel and cool off. It is also the clearest water I saw in the Galapagos. Las Grietas is regulated by an attendant and you must sign in upon arrival. You have a limit of 40 minutes and they allow only up to 48 people max at a time.

Isabela island

  • Self-guided bike tour ($15/day)-rent a bike and go along the path to the Wall of Tears. It takes about an hour to get to, and there are many awesome spots on the way to stop off. Try to go early in the morning to beat the heat, because the last 1-2km is going uphill and it’s not fun in the heat (trust me). Make your stops on the way back.
  • Wall of Tears (free)-the wall of tears was constructed by prisoners in the penal colony, many of whom died during the construction due to harsh conditions of being in the heat all day. The wall was left there as a testament to these people and to highlight the abuse of power.
  • El Estero (free)– a little estaury leading to the ocean covered by trees, mangroves, and a little creek. I was the only one there and really enjoyed walking through the creek in the shade. It’s a beautiful setting.

solo travel the Galapagos on the cheap

  • Playa del Amor (free)-here you will see a little natural wading pool surrounded by lava rocks and the ocean in the backdrop. If you’re lucky, you will be joined for a bath with a marine iguana.

solo travel the Galapagos on the cheap

  • Las Salinas (free)-a lagoon that is frequented by pink Flamingos. They weren’t out when I went unfortunately, but it wouldn’t hurt to stop by on your way back to town to check!
  • Concha la Perla (free)-a place to snorkel near the port and has many sea lions and sometimes penguins/manta rays. I didn’t see penguins or manta rays, but I did see a bunch of sea lions.

San Cristobal island (all free activities)

  • Cerro Tijeretas Hill-about 15-20 minutes past the Interpretation Center you will come up to Cerro Tijeretas Hill with a great lookout point over the island. This is also a major breeding ground for Frigate birds so keep an eye out! On the bottom of the hill there is a little cove where several sea lions are laying around on the rocks and swimming. The water is super blue/green and gorgeous and it’s worth a snorkel.
  • Punta Carola-if you follow the trail back to town you will come to Punta Carola beach, which has a little lighthouse on the lava rocks. This is where I saw a mini baby sea lion laying on the sand alone and I almost died! I want to take it home with me, it was so stinking cute.
  • Playa Mann beach-a small local beach that’s nothing special, but its super close to town so it’s a nice place to go to cool off real quick.
  • La Liberia-a more secluded beach about a 40 minute walk from town. The little bay is filled with black lava rocks and is a popular place for sea lions and iguanas. I saw many sea lions playing in the shallow waters and rolling around in the sand. Go here if you want an up close encounter with sea lions!
  • Interpretation Center(about a 20 minute walk from town)-sorta like the Charles Darwin center but different. I stopped in here on my way up to Cerro Tijeretas Hill and learned a lot about the Galapagos. I didn’t have time to go through the full center, but it’s definitely worth stopping by if you’re walking up to the hill anyway!

Summary of Costs in the Galapagos

  • Airline tickets $88
  • Visas/National Park Fees $130
  • Accommodation $206
  • Tours $350
  • Food $93
  • Rentals $23
  • Transportation $104

Grand total of $994

Other Things to Note About the Galapagos

  • Ecuador uses the dollar
  • Ecuador uses the same outlets and voltage as the U.S., meaning no need for a convertor/adaptor
  • They charge an absurd amount of interest in credit card purchases so try to pay cash
  • There are ATMs on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal but none on Isabela island (try to bring cash because sometimes the machines are empty)
  • Wifi is virtually non-existent so expect to be “disconnected” during your time there. Some hotels have wifi but in my experience it never worked in the room and only in the lobby. If more than a few people were on at the same time or didn’t work. When it did work it was slower than dial up internet and I couldn’t watch any video of any type, couldn’t view Snapchat, etc. It was ok for sending WhatsApp messages
  • It’s hot AF (the islands are located right around the equator after all) so re-apply sunscreen every few hours. I got burnt bad and I re-applied about 5 times a day
  • Bring bug spray or repellent bracelets (I got eaten alive)
  • Don’t feed or touch the animals…just don’t (please practice responsible tourism)
  • They charge 22% credit card fees to book tours! Wtf

Liked it? PIN it for later?

solo travel to the Galapagos on the cheap

how to do the Galapagos on the cheap

Have you been to the Galapagos? Were you able to do it on a reasonable budget? If you can add any budget tips, please do!

Bucket List: Flying over the Great Barrier Reef & Whitehaven Beach

Bucket List: Flying over the Great Barrier Reef & Whitehaven Beach

Seeing the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) was at the top of my bucket list. It was probably in the top 3 honestly. I remember watching Steve Irwin’s shows when I was younger and dreaming of going there and seeing it for myself. RIP Mr. Irwin.

When trying to decide if I should snorkel in the GBR or do a scenic flight over it, I couldn’t choose. So I did both! It was expensive, but I knew I was probably only going to go to Australia once in my life. That and the fact that the Great Barrier Reef isn’t always going to be around unfortunately. It was worth the splurge for sure.

The next decision I had was whether to fly over the GBR or Whitehaven Beach. In my research, I stumbled upon GSL Aviation, who offered a Reef and Island Scenic Flight that highlights both! Done deal. Sold.

I also got some personal recommendations to go with this company after I had already booked with them, so I felt really good about my decision. Word of mouth is the best advertising right? Oh, and GSL aviation offers planes with guaranteed window seats, which is super important when doing a scenic flight, obviously. C’mon, no one wants the middle seat!

I chose the 60-minute Reef and Island Scenic Flight, far longer than most scenic flights. If I was going to do it, I was going to get the full experience!

The morning started bright and early with a free shuttle pickup from my hotel. After a short safety briefing, we soared above Airlie Beach and made our way to the Great Barrier Reef. Rewind a few days earlier when I snorkelled the outer Great Barrier Reef. I hate to say this, but I was a bit disappointed. I guess I was expecting it to be more colorful. Most the pics you see of it are super photoshopped I guess. It’s sad but the bleaching of coral is a real thing and you definitely can see it for yourself.

flying over the Great Barrier Reef

Trying to fight the glare to get a shot was quite difficult!

Aerial shots are my ultimate favorite and flying over the Great Barrier Reef and seeing it from above was a completely different experience. You can really visualize the bold blue/green colors and see how enormous it really is. Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef is the largest organic structure on earth and is visible from OUTER SPACE? It’s so much easier to grasp that concept when you see it from above!

flying over the Great Barrier Reef

Well, I only saw a small section of it on this flight, but it was incredible! My dream of the Great Barrier Reef had been revived.

No need for a drone when you basically see through a drone’s eyes from above. We had many different viewpoints and plenty of time to really experience it.

flying over the Great Barrier Reef

We flew over the infamous heart Reef, but unfortunately I fumbled with switching cameras and didn’t get the best shot. It was also very sunny and the glare on the windows was quite bad that day. I tried. 

But in case you want to see a better shot, here is a great one from their Instagram!

On our way back, we flew over the idyllic Whitehaven Beach. I ended up going to Whitehaven Beach the next day but seeing it from above was so much better to tell you the truth! You can really appreciate the swirly patterns of pure white silica sand and turquoise waters from above and it will leave you in awe.

flying over the Great Barrier Reef

GSL Aviation also offers transfers to Hamilton Island and they can get you there in just 10 minutes! Or you can combine the transfer with a one hour scenic flight over the GBR and Whitehaven, which I would definitely consider if I was staying on Hamilton Island. The ferry tickets are SUPER expensive to get there, so this option is actually a great value.

For example, a one-way ferry ticket is about $52 USD and the transfer flight is around $75 USD. It’s even cheaper if you do the transfer plus scenic flight!

They also do helicopter tours if that’s what you fancy. Oh, and they operate in Cairns as well. So if you’re up that way and want to see the Reef from above, holla at them!

Tips:

  • I was trying to switch between snap chatting on my phone, taking GoPro shots and videos, and using my wide angle camera lens with my Sony. It was too much and I often missed shots because I was trying to do too much. Stick to one camera and be ready!
  • touch your camera up to glass to prevent glare from the window.

Flying over the Great Barrier Reef is a must do activity when visiting Australia. It was one of the highlights of my entire trip!

PIN for Later ♥

flying over the Great Barrier Reef

Disclaimer: I received a media discount on my scenic flight. However, my opinions are my own and I am in no way obligated to write a positive review. I would never sell out like that! I had the best time and would highly recommend GSL Aviation.

Light Packer Essential Travel Gear (How To Pack Light AF)

Light Packer Essential Travel Gear (How To Pack Light AF)

I used to be the world’s worst packer, basically trying to fit my whole life into my suitcase for a one week trip. Oh how the times have changed. I have learned to simplify to the max and now ONLY travel with a carry-on, even on 1-2 month trips. It’s not easy (and it’s not for everyone, I get it), but I seem to have worked out a method using some key travel gear to help me to travel light.

The last thing I want to do is struggle with huge bags dragging over cobblestone streets in Europe or dirt roads in Africa. Oh, and those hefty checked bag fees for budget airlines? #Fuggedaboutit #aintnobodygottimeforthat

Below are the only bags I take with me on my travels: a small backpack and a spinner carry-on. (Oh, and my pillow). That’s it! There’s a lot of shit in there, trust me…♥

travel light gear

Light Packer Essential Travel Gear

(P.S. Click on the product photos for more info)

Sony Alpha 6000 Mirrorless Camera: I made the switch from my huge DSLR and I wouldn’t go back. It’s light, compact, and takes amazing photos!

Sony 10-18mm Wide Angle Zoom Lens: this wide angle lens is the key to landscape shots. It basically takes a panoramic photo. I use this lens more than the original factory lens and am super happy with it. It’s not cheap, but super worth it if you want to get those special outdoor nature shots. Honestly, I would purchase the Sony alpha 6000 camera body only and save up for this lens to go with it.

The gorgeous seaside of Cascais

Both shot with my wide-angle lens. Look how much of the landscape fits in the frame!

the unique landscape of Meteora

E Bags Packing Cubes: the biggest life changer to keep me packing light! This is my biggest travel gear obsession and I have NO idea how I traveled without them before.

Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes: These are my new editions to my packing gear and I’m obsessed. Once you pack them full, you can zip then down further to compress the cubes. You have no idea how much stuff you can fit in these cubes, it’s amazing!

 

Skyroam Mobile Hotspot Device: How did I travel without this before? This mini hotspot is portable and gives you access to wifi wherever you are, and works in 100+ countries. Skyroam saved my life during my recent road trip through New Zealand, allowing me access to my Google maps for navigation. The way it works: you can either rent or buy the hotspot device, and then you buy 24 hour day passes. This gives you unlimited wifi for 24 hours, no need to worry about using all your data! This is going to revolutionize travel, just wait and see! ♥

♥Oh, and until April 7, you can get 15% OFF by using the code: CONNECTED15♥

Skyroam mobile hotspot device

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light packer travel essentials

The many times my Skyroam came in handy in New Zealand!

DJI Mavic Pro Drone: I mean, who doesn’t want a drone? It’s the hottest new tech gadget for 2017! It’s not cheap, but it’s totally worth it. If you’re going to get a drone, this one is the best for transporting as its SUPER compact (the size of a water bottle basically) and pretty light. This fits in my backpack which I have outline below, along with ALL my other gadgets including the drone remote, camera, extra lenses, GoPro’s, tripod, and more!

LifeProof NUUD Waterproof Case (iPhone 6): this helps protect my phone from water, sand, dirt, and the numerous drops that incur while I travel. I love it!

GoPro Hero 4 Session: I am a proud GoPro ambassador and obsessed with GoPro selfie pics if you didn’t notice! (I have recently upgrade to the 5, but this is the one I used in all my travel photos from 2016). It’s super small, compact, and easy to travel with. Plus it’s so much fun to use! 🙂

light packer essential travel gear

These were both shot with my GoPro Hero 4 Session. Notice how GoPro’s signature fish-eye lens gets everything in?

light packer essential travel gear

GoPro Hero 5 Session: My newest addition and I’m already obsessed. The quality of pictures is noticeably better and it’s voice controlled activated! How cool is that?

The first shot is a completely unedited underwater shot I took recently in the Galapagos. Look how clear it is!

Gopro Hero 5 Session underwater

Gopro Hero 5 Session light packer essential travel gear

Joby GorillaPod Tripod: This little bendable tripod is awesome. You can bend and mold it to fit around small things/objects wherever you may be. I mostly use it with my GoPro to wrap around the branch of a tree or a railing (as I did in the pic below). This allows me to go hands-free and get photos of myself when I’m traveling alone. It’s super lightweight and small so it easily fits in my little travel backpack with all my other gear.

 

Laptop/Accessory Backpack: This is the best travel backpack ever! I literally fit ALL my tech & camera gear in here, including my MacBook Air, camera, extra wide angle lens, GoPro, all GoPro accessories, selfie stick, travel tripod, all my cords, chargers, converters, extra SD cards, and even my new Mavic Pro drone with remote and charger! Not only does it fit all my cool gadgets, it’s super thin and when it’s on my back, even budget airlines skip weighing it because it looks so small. Little do they know that it weighs more than my actual suitcase. Oh, and the best part? It has a pouch on the back that slides onto your suitcase handle so you don’t even have to carry it. #score

External Hard Drive (My Passport): This super lightweight external hard drive is perfect for backing up all my thousands of photos I take each trip. I’ve had mine for almost 3 years now and it’s nowhere near full. The 2TB of memory will last you quite a long time!

Hanging Toiletry Bag (small): I can’t tell you how helpful this little toiletry bag is, especially when staying at an Airbnb and I have to share a bathroom. I throw all my face creams, face wash, soap, etc in here and hang it up on a hook and have everything easily accessible.

Moldable silicon earplugs: I am the world’s lightest sleeper so ear plugs are a MUST, especially with those thin walls in Europe and Africa. These are the best ones I’ve found and they block out a lot of noise. The key is to only use them for 2-3 days and then get some fresh ones so they suction to your ears.

GoToob Non-leak Silicone 3oz. Travel Tubes: these are by far the BEST travel size bottles out there, period. I’ve tried so many, believe me. I used to buy the 3-pack of travel size tubes at Target on every trip, but they would leak every damn time. Not to mention the bottles would warp and I would have to buy a new set for each trip. I’ve had these GoToob bottles for 3 years and they have never once leaked or broken. They are SO worth it!

X-Shot Selfie Stick (I use w/ my GoPro): I’ve used this selfie stick for the past 2 years and I love it! It’s not bulky like most other selfie sticks and it’s super lightweight and folds up small. And it’s NOT flimsy. I use it daily on my travels.

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a super small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I have used before on my own and that I truly love 🙂

PIN for later 🙂

Light packer travel essentials!

20 Photos of Chefchaouen that Prove it Might be the Most Photogenic City in the World

20 Photos of Chefchaouen that Prove it Might be the Most Photogenic City in the World

Chefchaouen (“shef-sha-wen”) is one of the most photographic cities you will ever come across. Period. Located between the Rif mountains, it affords the perfect secluded environment to get away from the madness of fast-paced cities like Morocco and Fez.

There is not so much to “do” in the Blue City,  yet it’s more of a place to sit back and observe your surroundings and relax. There is something about the different shades of blue that is so calming.

Why are the Walls Painted Blue?

I’m glad you ask, and there are a few theories. The first being that the color blue deters mosquitos and keeps the city cooler during the hot summer months. Another theory is that the Jewish refugees painted it blue as a symbol of the sky and they saw this as a way to be closer to God. Which one is true? Who knows. The city is freshly repainted about once a year, making the bright blues really pop with color.

What to Do in Chefchaouen

  • Go to the Spanish mosque perched upon the mountain for the best sunset view
  • Eat at the cozy Molin Arte near the waterfalls
  • Get completely lost in the blue maze streets (literally and figuratively) 
  • Photograph the copious amounts of kitties
  • Speak Spanish with the locals (ya, that surprised me also)
  • Admire the #DoorPorn
  • Indulge in the Hashish culture (if you’re into that stuff…it’s everywhere, you just gotta ask)
  • Disconnect from the world♥

How to Get to Chefchaouen

  • Chefchaouen is a little out of the way from other popular Moroccan destinations, but it’s worth the trip 110%. It was my favourite city in Morocco by far!
  • CTM bus: Take a 5-hour by bus from Fez on CTM. It eaves at 7:30am or 8 from 2 different points in the city. It is also accessible via Tangier (and a bit closer).
  • Once you arrive, take a taxi from the bus station to the medina. You can’t walk, trust me. It’s up a steep hill. The taxi should cost 10-20 dirham max! It cost me 10 dirham for a shared cab and only took 5 minutes. 

For more on my trip to Morocco, check out my 2 other posts here: Why I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Morocco: Highlights & Lowlights and Solo Female Travel in Morocco: Yay or Nay?

Ok, I’ll shut up now and hopefully spark your wanderlust with these extremely blue photos:

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Smurf town

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

The door ornaments were just as impressive as the colors

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

The gorgeous contrast of paint colors

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Wandering around solo with my GoPro. I had most the streets to myself 🙂

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

View from hike to the Spanish Mosque

I wouldn’t mind living here, just sayin ♥

Being photographed by other tourists. They gave me a little photo shoot and I was going along with it!

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Colorful rugs and scarves seemed to be staple items in Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Fresh paint for sale just waiting to be photographed

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Tiny alleyways in the maze-like town

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Lost in blue paradise

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Kitty heaven on the streets of Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Every alley is a photo op waiting to happen

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

I’m blue, if I was green I would die…

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Picture perfect

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Can’t get enough of these blue hues!

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

The town is pretty quiet, meaning you practically will have the streets all to yourself

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

A little pop of color against the beautiful blue backdrop

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Door porn on point in Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen Morocco photos

Can I go back already?

Have you been to  Chefchaouen? Was it as magical for you as it was for me? 🙂

PIN for later

Chefchaouen photos