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Learn to Surf for $20/day

Setting the record for most surfers on a wave in Brazil

I’ve tried to teach dozens of friends over the last few years. I’ll take them out in small surf, show them a few things, they get the hang of it, buy and board and never use it again. The same barrier seems to hit everyone: the surf is too crowded. My advice to everyone has been to head off somewhere tropical and surf everyday for a week. You just won’t get better at something, especially something like surfing, going once a month. It’s a way to guarantee you won’t really enjoy the sport. Also, paying an instructor in the US is going to be $80-100/hour for individual instruction! Add the price of renting a board and wetsuit and it’s $150 or more a session.

Flying off somewhere tropical and spending a week on the beach is a lot cheaper than you’d think. Aside from the cost of a flight, staying in a cheap beach hostel can cost as litte as $5/night. More reasonable accomodations can be $10-20 night in the right places. Board rentals are around $50 a week and you can always find local surfers willing to give instruction for $10-20/hour (probably free if you’re a girl). The waves are likely to be less crowded depending on where you head (beach breaks are ideal at first because they spread the crowd out), and you’ll be in warm water surfing and drinking cerveza on the beach after each session. You’ll fall in love with surfing and get good enough to be able to navigate the line-ups when you get back home.

Here’s a list of the cheapest places to go to learn to surf (also check our previous post on the best places to learn to surf). The surf season is from March until September, but this is when the surf is biggest and can often be far to big for beginners. Better bet is to go during the surf off-season when the waves will be smaller and the line-ups will be empty.

El Tunco, El Salvador – Small surfing village outside of La Libertad, El Salvador. Walking distance from one of the best waves in the area: El Sunzal, a gentle long right, ideal for beginners. El Salvador has become much safer than in the 90s. El Tunco is nothing more than a couple guests houses, restaurants, internet cafe and a few families living there. Accomodations range from $5/night to $25 for a private room with AC and a pool. For more information on traveling and surfing in El Salvador, check out the surf travel guide for El Salvador at SurfThereNow.com.

Pristine Empty Surf in El Salvador

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua – San Juan Del Sur is a beautiful, sleepy fishing village in Southern Nicaragua not far from the border with Costa Rica. Although the town itself doesn’t have surf, you can take a daily shuttle out to Playa Maderas where there’s playful surf all year long. It’s cheap to stay in SJDS and there’s multiple options starting at $8/night for the cheapest accomodations. There’s plenty to do, restaurants and bars as well. If you want to graudate to a more intermediate spot and stay right on the beach, then you’re best bet is to head up the coast a hour and stay at Playa Colorado’s.

Playa Maderas

Santa Teresa/Mal Pais, Costa Rica – The adjoining towns of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais are on the southern tip of the Guanacaste Pennisula on the Pacific in Northern Costa Rica. The towns are beautiful and hardly developed, offering just enough options to eat, drink, sleep, and surf well. The beach is stunning and pristine and goes on for miles offering miles of empty surf. Many first timers to Costa Rica head to the only place they’re head of: Tamarindo. Tamarindo is over-developed and the waves are crowded. Mal Pais is just the opposite. Accomodations here start at $10/night, not as cheap as surrounding Central American countries but still plenty cheap. There’s waterfalls and a national park close by to check out as well.

Lounging by the Beach, Mal Pais, Costa Rica

Bali – Bali is everything budget travel should be: incredible scenary, beautiful beaches, exotic culture, welcoming locals, and cheap, very cheap. Although flight will cost more than destinations in Central America, you would be surprised at how little it costs to get by in Bali. $5-8 for the cheapest accomodations. Bali has become a hot spot in recent years and in addition to the beaches and culture, it has a thriving nightlife, music, and art scene. It also boasts some of the best surfbreaks in the world on the Bukit Pennisula. Bali get good surf year round, with the best swells arriving from March to September. Kuta Beach is a long beach with smaller surf, ideal for learning. You can party all night and walk out to the surf at sunrise. For more on Bali, see the surf travel guide on Bali at SurfThereNow.com.

View from the Cliffs of Uluwatu, Bali

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Southeast Asia on $20/day

I just had a friend email me on a daily budget for traveling. It depends a lot on the area you’re headed to, but in my travel experiences Central America and Southeast Asia ranked the cheapest. Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, among other destinations can all be done on $20/day if you’re really willing to push the budget (don’t expect AC or your own room). Some places like Cambodia could be pulled off for even cheaper. I stayed for a night in Phnom Pehn for $8 for a clean private room with AC and bathroom, dorm room at the place were $2/night!!! Central America was cheap but not this cheap.

I generally budgeted about $30/day in Central America and Southeast Asia and would occasionally splurge for a private room and/or AC. Most places this worked pretty well, but I’d sometimes end up with some dingy options and then just upgrade to a hotel nearby. Some of the cheapest places I traveled to were Cambodia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. It goes without saying that the more touristy and more well established a destination (Costa Rica, Thailand, etc) the more expensive they’ll be.

Mint has a good blog post on some of the areas in Southeast Asia that are the cheapest.

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Brits Join the U.S. as Most Frat-Like Tourists

Turns out that the U.S. has some competition for loud, obnoxious partiers and binge drinking abroad… The English. I always knew the Brits could keep up. The New York Times writes on some of the backlash abroad in Europe to young Brits traveling the world and getting blind drunk doing it along with some interesting speculation as to why the Brits are prone to getting wild abroad.

“They scream, they sing, they fall down, they take their clothes off, they cross-dress, they vomit,” Malia’s mayor, Konstantinos Lagoudakis, said in an interview.

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Tokyology – Boing Boing TV

Boing Boing TV has feature on Tokyology, a documentary taking viewers through the eclectic and colorful world and culture of Tokyo. Tokyo is a place like unother for fashion, music, and culture. Check out the preview.

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Fellow Travel Blog

Check out the Firestone Sisters travel blog for tips, review and travel advice. Lucy and Mary are based in LA, but travel all around, sharing their photos and journeys.

Lucy and Mary Firestone

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The Summer’s Best Parties

The Double Seven in NYC

Concierge posted a link on the Summer’s best parties. Not surprisingly Hong Kong, Ibiza, Los Angeles, and London made the list. But dear Concierge, no Brazil? Did you mean just summer everywhere? or just the Northern Hemisphere? And I can’t believe Tokyo didn’t make it either. We’ll have to come up with our own list. Here’s their full list just in case, you’ve still got 8 weeks of unused vacation and a private jet:

London: The Cuckoo Club

St. Tropez: La Voila Rouge

New York City: The Double Seven

Capri: Anema e Core

Ibiza: Pacha

The Hamptons: Pink Elephant, South Hampton

Hong Kong: Volar

Sardinia: Billionaire

Los Angeles: Hyde Lounge

Croatia: Carpe Diem

Tel Aviv: Haoman 17

Las Vegas: Tryst

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Photos: Hong Kong Panorama and Venice Aerial View

Two stunning photos. Click the links to view the full size images. Hong Kong Skyline Panorama (link).

Hong Kong Skyline Panorama

Venice, Italy aerial view (link).

Venice, Italy

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The World’s Most Obnoxious Tourists – Is Anyone Surprised?

Aren\'t they all obnoxious?

OK, so I’m sick of the rap that American tourists get around the world. Just because we invade a sovereign nation, say, once every 3-4 years or so, doesn’t mean that our tourists should take the brunt of the heat. And we catch a lot of flack traveling, although in berating US tourists other travelers would always express the caveat that I of course was different from stereotypical Americans. Well, it turns out we’re not so bad. The French are the worst (shocking). According to a recent international survey and a Time magazine article, the French placed second to last behind last placed Chinese and third last placed Indians as the worst ranked tourist in the world. First off, I didn’t know that the Chinese and Indians made up a significant part of tourism. The Japanese were most liked, followed by Germans, British, and Canadians. The U.S. finished 11th overall, but received high marks for trying to speak local languages (huh?) and tipping well.

The survey was taken by employees in 4,000 hotels in Germany, the U.K., Italy, France, Canada and the U.S. for the French travel website Expedia.fr. The study asked respondents to rank clients by nationality on criteria of general attitude, politeness, tendency to complain, willingness to speak local languages, interest in sampling local cuisine, readiness to spend money, generosity, cleanliness, discretion and elegance. The US state department generously provided the funding for the study, thanks again GW!

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Where the Hell is Matt? Part 2

I profiled Matt’s original video in our first post. Matt made his first video of him dancing at various destinations in his travels and published in 2004. It became a huge web success and he’s made two more since then. Here’s his most recent. Inspiring. Here’s an HD version (incredible if you have the bandwidth). His website tells the story behind the videos and his travel.

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Eye Candy – Belize

Typical afternoon by the split

Here’s some eye candy from my trip to Belize last Februrary. Incredible place to go to snorkle, dive, kite surf, and explore.

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