Our first place in Bangkok was G Feel Studios. It was $33/night…only $16.50/person…it is practically impossible to find a place like this in the US. This is the beauty and sustainability of traveling as a couple or with a friend you don’t mind sharing a bed with. I’d rather spend the extra $5 for an entire apartment, three pools, and a comfortable bed vs a 16 bed dorm room. That hostel you could find for $10-12/night, possibly less in Khao San Road, will include that one loud snorer that sleeps through earthquakes plus some toast with jam for the “included breakfast”.
- Simplicity. You can create an account and book a home within minutes. This was very useful for us as we sometimes booked homes/apartments a day in advance. Sometimes hours…
- Price. Airbnb is by far the cheapest and most affordable option while traveling for any duration of time. When you book a hotel you’re paying for all the amenities and facilities that you rarely use: gym, pool, spa, laundry, and bath robes (okay…you definitely use the bath robes). With Airbnb, you pay for a service and cleaning fee. Just a heads up, many hosts have discounts: weekly, monthly, etc. I know most people don’t have the option of booking Airbnbs for months at a time but take advantage of the weekly discount if possible.
- Reviews. You can read every single advantage and disadvantage of staying at the home from previous guests. If the host says you’re “5 minutes from the beach in a beautiful neighborhood”, you’ll read a review that says “A 10 minute trek to the beach and a little scary to walk around at night”. Use this information to weigh the pros and cons of what’s important to you. If the location is perfect and the price is fair, decide if having public transportation or popular restaurants nearby is more important to you. If you find a place that seems too good to be true, don’t stress. The compilation of reviews, rating, and pictures will lead to an accurate depiction of the home.
- Pictures. The pictures of the home are usually taken by the host. This means they likely don’t know how to take professional and enticing photos. You can assume, unlike TripAdvisor, Agoda, etc., that the home will look exactly the same or even better than the photos on the scroll display. When we booked a villa in Bali, the room was far more beautiful than the display!
- Maps. USE THE MAPS! The most important map is the one in each separate listing. Although Airbnb doesn’t release the exact location of the home before you book it (which is smart), you can get a general idea by clicking on the map function. If the host’s description and guest’s reviews don’t mention a rough location, look at the map. The second map is located on the main listing screen (looks like a little green dot in a small circle) when you’ve set up your preliminary search. This allows you to see a range of available homes in a specific area.
- The Experience. Airbnb creates relationships while traveling. Definitely not as many as hostels, there are no “take a shot for your country” options like many hostel bars advertise (some smart sales tactics there). At Airbnb listings, you can form a friendship with your host, travelers in your apartment building, or locals next door. Better yet, the locals like to show tourists around. During our 30 days in Bali we spent almost 20 nights at the Patra Homestay in Ubud…for $11/night we slept in a temple and ate omelettes on our porch every morning. By the end of our stay, we were referring to our host as Mom and played with her children whenever we returned home from the motorbike she lent us.
Wow, that was a lot. Now, onto the few cons.
- There were MULTIPLE occasions where we caught ourselves almost booking a home in the city next to our desired location…Airbnb, please fix this. The main issue occurred when we were looking for an apartment in Singapore but there were no listings that fit with our desired filters. So, Airbnb’s algorithm found us homes in the city next to Singapore…Johor Bharu. This city is not only far from Singapore, it’s in another country. Happy we caught that one! Remember, use the maps.
- Be wary of the room type: Entire place, Private Room, and Shared Room. The entire place option is preferred, unless you find a private room with superb reviews. Sometimes your budget will cause you to choose a private or shared room. We experienced this issue in Kualu Lampur and Singapore. For example, we showed up to our Airbnb in Singapore (with nine nights booked) and realized we would be living with a family of three in a tiny and extremely messy apartment in the middle of nowhere. Happy that this host had a generous refund policy!
There will be more future posts about tips and our experiences with Airbnb. This adventure would not have been possible without this app. It has saved us an extraordinary amount of money, created unforgettable memories, and helped us feel at home away from home.
What you don’t know about finding a job while traveling
Looking for a job overseas is a little bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. Where in the hell do you even begin? Now throw in the fact that you don’t have a work visa and you’ve got yourself a real kicker. BUT, this doesn’t mean it’s not possible. There are some amazing opportunities, you just have to find them.
Endless visits to a small computer lab in Lumpini is where Kyle and I spent many of our days in early August, surfing Craigslist in search for any and every opportunity we could take. Well I guess not every…you’d be surprised with the amount of weird offers that are posted in a Bangkok Craigslist. But, we won’t get into that.
The first job we took, key word being first, started and ended so quickly Kyle and I could barely keep up with what even happened. We all know teaching kids is difficult, but picture this: being thrown into a classroom being told you are going to tutor children who already “know” English then come to find out they only really “know” one word, “NO”. What we thought would be a fun tutor session turned into an absolute mad house of children running in and out of our rooms, screaming in Thai for over three hours. In the mean time we were somehow trying to remain composed as we were dodging toys and flash cards that were being thrown our way. Safe to say we quickly realized this was not the job for us.
It took a few different interviews and more than a few different schools to find the right fit for us. But, when we found it, the school became one of the main reasons we fell in love with Bangkok and stayed for over 5 months.
If we could impart any advice from our experience of finding a job while traveling, it would definitely be these 3 things:
- NEVER settle for your first job offer. I know this may be tempting,especially if you are nervous you won’t find another one, but there will always be more options. It’s not worth hating your job, especially if the point you are there is to travel and experience new things.
- Use Craigslist! I know this may be somewhat sketchy in the US and for many other countries, but for Asia it is a dream come true. You will find new job posts every day ranging anywhere from assistant positions to full time work. If you’re looking for teaching opportunties, more specifically in Bangkok, use this website Ajarn.com . Between these two websites, you are bound to find something.
- Bring a laptop! Kyle and I unfortunately did not do this and man did we wish we had. Bringing a laptop would have saved us a lot of time and hassel throughout the job searching process. No matter what type of job you want to find, a laptop or computer will always make things easier for you. Especially if you are looking to teach or tutor in English (great for any traveler who can speak fluently) there are so many online opportunities that can offer great pay, but the reality is most require a laptop.
Six weeks down…possibly 46 more?
Well, we arrived back in Bangkok. No plan, limited funds (spent A LOT of money traveling through Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and India…that Tokyo bullet train ain’t cheap), and exhausted out of our minds. We booked a place through Airbnb at G Feel Studios near Punnawithi BTS station. Our goal was to spend a couple nights at a luxurious place to rest up and regroup. After traveling through four countries, over 10 cities, all with about a three night average at each place, we were ready to sleep.
This decision to start our own adventure in Bangkok was on a whim. In the midst of chugging Vietnamese coffee in front of a computer at the Tomodachi House in Hanoi, Vietnam, we made our decision. We looked at each other and asked, “Why not? I’m sure we’ll like it!”.
Did we make the right decision?
We did. We definitely did.
This is when I think about how lucky Morgan and I were during this transition. We could have severely disliked Bangkok. All we cared about were these four things…
- Job opportunities
After our very extensive research (about 20 minutes of caffeinated anxiety in front of a computer), we arrived at the cornerstone of our adventure. Two weeks later we were off to Bangkok.
There’s nothing like Thailand. When you research this beautiful country you’ll see photos of tropical islands and picturesque scenery. If you search Bangkok specifically, you’ll see national monuments, architecture unlike anything in the US, as well as gorgeous sunset views from a variety of rooftop bars. Our favorite is called Long Table, the view from the 25th floor overlooks the entire city, comes with an infinity pool, and a reasonably priced happy hour. This is the glamorous part of Bangkok. But then…of course…Bangkok is also the city of sin.
You will find photos of Khao San Road (the tourist playground for cheap drinks), Soi Cowboy (an interesting area that we encountered on a Hangover 2 film tour…), and other party areas throughout the city. This is the usual experience for many tourists while in staying in Bangkok. They will see some tourist destinations, party a little…or a lot…, try some Thai food, and return home without any real sense of Thai culture as a whole.
We’re here to help share our stories and make traveling easier for those that are daring enough to take some risks. As I write this, we’ve lived in Bangkok for the majority of our time in SE Asia. To this day, I still think about arriving in Bangkok on June 22nd, 2017. We have photos, videos, advice, stories, some L’s, and whole lot of W’s. Follow along with this adventure and the future ones to come.
3…2…1…BANGKOK! This is precisely the amount of time it took Kyle and I to make a very spontaneous decision to call Bangkok our home for the next…well actually we had no clue how long we were about to stay. Kyle and I didn’t know a thing about the place and on a complete whim, in a tiny hostel in Vietnam, we booked a flight.
I would be lying if I said adjusting to a life in Asia was a complete breeze. Only a month prior to beginning this grand adventure, I had graduated from Chapman University with the thought that I would be working full time at an entertainment company in Los Angeles. It’s funny how things can change in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it Kyle and I were hugging our friends goodbye at an airport in India with no plan and no date in mind of when we would see them next. After having traveled with them for a full month, the goodbyes were definitely hard.
Kyle and I flew to Bangkok on June 22nd, 2017, almost 9 months ago now. I remember the overwhelming and contrasting feelings I felt as I sat on that flight. I was beyond excited and knew it was the exact thing I was supposed to be doing, but there was also this part of me that was afraid and anxious about the uncertainty of this journey. I was in desperate need of sleep, that is one thing I knew for sure.
We found a nice and removed Airbnb for a couple nights (our saving grace thoughout our time here) where we could regroup, workout, and most of all, have time to make a plan of action. To this day, I am not sure we ever fully made a plan of action because man have we been living on the edge of our seats. Plans are constantly changing, nothing has ever really felt set in stone, but I have grown to truly love this lifestyle. Life is about taking risks and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. This is how you are really going to find growth in yourself. I may sound like I am preaching to the choir, but it’s true and I have experienced it first hand. One of my favorite quotes (sorry I’m a quote person) is by the famous artist, Vincent Van Gough. He says, “Normality is a paved road; It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow”. There is nothing wrong with doing something normal and doing what is expected of you, but if you allow yourself to take risks in the meantime, you might really be able to experience something special.
Never in a million years would I call this experience an easy one. There have been times of expreme appreciation of life and on the opposite spectrum, times where stress completey took over. It may look like from the photos you see of travelers like everything is just peachy, but what is hiding beneath is all the challenges that surface along the way. I have learned so much throughout this journey. I know Kyle and I are very eager to share with you how we managed to travel for almost 9 months and counting after having just graduated from college.