How To Travel To Cuba: A Guide For Americans

American Travel in Cuba

How to Travel to Cuba for Americans

Travel Tips

While relations between Cuba & the United States are improving, it’s still technically illegal to travel there. Here’s how you can travel to Cuba as an American anyway.

UPDATE: As of August 2016, there are now regular flights to Cuba from the United States from certain airlines/cities. Keep reading for more information.

Back in 1960 the United States imposed a severe trade embargo against Cuba. The Blockade was created after Cuba nationalized American owned oil refineries without compensation.

As part of this embargo, travel to Cuba by Americans has been restricted for over half a century. Or more specifically, it’s technically illegal for U.S. citizens to have transactions (spend money or receive gifts) in Cuba under most circumstances.

Basically this regulation has prevented most Americans from considering Cuba as a travel destination. Due to economic sanctions, air travel to Cuba from the United States was almost impossible. American credit & debit cards don’t work in Cuba either.

However things are beginning to change.

Traveling to Cuba for Americans

Exploring the Tobacco Farms of Viñales

Can Americans Travel To Cuba?

Even though travel to Cuba for Americans is restricted, that doesn’t make it impossible to visit. For many years some intrepid Americans were traveling to Cuba anyway. Initially there were three ways to accomplish this.

Special License

You could register for a special license with the US Government if the reason for your travel fit a certain category. These include family visits, professional reasons, journalism, religious or cultural programs, and humanitarian projects. You can see the full list here.

People To People Tours

Organized tours that involve some sort of educational experience with local Cuban people. It’s never been defined officially, but basically your trip can’t just involve sitting on the beach. Travelers would talk with a school, volunteer for a community project, or collaborate with artists. A kind of legal loophole that tour companies use to sell tours in Cuba.

Foreign Gateway Cities

The other option was to travel to Cuba “illegally” through a foreign gateway city. This means flying yourself to Canada or Mexico first, then traveling to Cuba on your own from one of those countries. Because for the rest of the world, Cuba has been a popular travel destination for many years.

It’s only us Americans who haven’t been able to visit Cuba!

New Rules

As of January 16th, 2015 Americans no longer need to apply for specific licenses if they fit one of the 12 special categories.

What does this mean? It simplifies the process for Americans that meet those special requirements to visit Cuba. But it also creates a grey-area.

If you no longer have to pre-apply for a license, can you say your trip is for journalism when it’s really not? Will anyone even check to make sure you actually match one of the 12 categories?

If you don’t fit one of the categories, will anyone enforce the rules when you return to the United States? From my experience & listening to other travelers, the answer is no.

While it’s still technically illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba for tourism only, it seems in practice, no one really enforces these travel restrictions anymore.

American Travel in Cuba

Local Game of Dominoes in the Streets of Havana

How To Travel To Cuba

In April 2016 I traveled to Cuba as an American with my girlfriend Anna from Anna Everywhere and our friends Hannah & Adam from Getting Stamped. We traveled through the popular foreign gateway city of Cancun, Mexico.

You can buy a 30 day Cuban tourist visa at the airport there for $20.

It can be purchased the at the check in counter (or while waiting in line) before your flight. The visa is a separate card you keep with your passport, but it’s not attached.

We flew into Havana from Cancun on the Mexican budget airline Interjet for $240 USD round trip, and the flight took about an hour.

As of August 2016, the US government is allowing some American companies to resume flights to Cuba.

Airlines that are flying to Cuba from the United States now include American, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, United, Spirit, Alaska and Delta.

For flights leaving from the Untied States, the visa process seems to be similar for some people. You get your visa at the airport checkin counter.

But some reports suggest that it’s not the same everywhere. Plus the price of your Cuban visa is more expensive when leaving from the United States. I’ve heard reports of $50 instead of $20.

For these reasons, I recommend calling your airline beforehand to verify.

Cuban Visa for Americans

My $20 Cuban Visa

Cuban Immigration Process

The Cuban immigration process was super simple. I told the officer in Havana that I was traveling to Cuba for tourism, and he offered to stamp my visa card instead of my passport. This has been standard operating procedure for years.

Cuba wants American tourism, and they offer to stamp your visa rather than your passport so you don’t get in trouble with the US government.

This way, when you return to the United States, it just looks like you traveled to Mexico. Or Canada. There’s no passport record of your travel to Cuba.

However I asked him to stamp my passport directly. I was curious what would happen when I returned to the United States. Would anyone ask me about it? Would I get fined or arrested?

Nothing happened. When I returned to the United States, immigration didn’t even ask me what countries I’d been to, and they didn’t look at my passport stamps either.

Travel Insurance

Cuba requires all tourists to have (non-American) travel medical insurance before visiting. Some people have been forced to provide proof of their insurance, and if they can’t, they must buy a special Cuban travel insurance package for about $10 a day.

When I visited Cuba though, no one asked about my travel insurance. So I’m not sure how much this requirement is enforced these days.

Cuban Currency

Two Different Kinds of Money

Exchanging Money In Cuba

Credit & debit cards issued by American banks still don’t work in Cuba. So a trip to the island involves bringing lots of cash. How much? I’m planning to write a budget travel guide for Cuba soon, but to give you an idea, you can travel there comfortably on $50 – $100 per day.

Bring more than you need to be safe. If you run out, you’re out of luck!

Cuba actually has two different currencies. The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the “tourist” currency, pegged to the American dollar. The Cuban Peso (CUP) is what locals use, and worth a lot less. So when you exchange money as a tourist, you’ll receive CUC.

$1 USD = 1 CUC = 24 CUP

You can exchange US dollars for CUC, but there is a special 10% penalty fee for this service. So it’s cheaper to exchange Euros, Canadian Dollars, British Pounds, or Mexican Pesos for CUC instead.

There’s an official currency exchange outside the airport in Havana. You can exchange your leftover CUC back to US dollars (or whatever) before you leave the country too.

Casa Particular Cuba

Inside Our Casa Particular in Trinidad

Accommodation In Cuba

You’ll find some hotels & resorts in the most popular tourist cities like Havana, Trinidad, and Varadero. But they generally aren’t cheap. To travel on a budget in Cuba, you’ll want to stay with locals in casas particulares.

A “casa particular” is like a homestay or guesthouse in someone’s home. They sometimes include breakfast, and run between $20 – $30 per night for a double room. To operate a casa particular, local families need to register & pay special taxes to the Cuban government.

Most casa’s don’t have websites, so you just walk around and ask about availability when you get there. If one is booked, the owner will usually help you find another nearby.

AirBnB is now operating in Cuba too! We booked our first two nights in Havana through AirBnB.

Renting a Car in Cuba

Our Rental Car in Cuba

Transportation In Cuba

Cuban Bus System

Cuba has a government run bus company for tourists called Viazul that covers most of the country. Tickets aren’t very expensive, but you can’t book them online yet, and popular routes sell out fast. Which means you might need to buy your ticket in person at the station the day before.

Renting A Car

We rented a modern car in Cuba for 6 of the 10 days we were there. Renting a car in Cuba isn’t easy or cheap. There aren’t many vehicles available yet, so you generally have to book a car at least 2 weeks in advance by calling or emailing the company.

When we arrived in Havana, we tried to rent a car directly at the airport with no reservation, and were told repeatedly there were no cars left. Eventually Anna found a guy who said he had two, but from the same company who earlier said they had none, Via Rent A Car (they have no website, but you can book online through other sites like Cuba Junky).

So it seemed a bit shady/strange… but we ultimately got one.

Renting a car in Cuba with insurance is going to cost you between $70 – $90 USD per day. It’s not cheap! Luckily we split the cost between 4 of us. There’s also a $200 cash deposit required.

Vintage Taxi

The other option for traveling around Cuba is to rent a vintage American car with driver. This isn’t cheap unless you split the cost with a few people.

Hailing a vintage taxi for a short ride in town will cost you $8 – $10. Renting one for a longer 2-3 hour trip can cost around $60 -$70 USD depending on your bargaining skills.

Split between 4 people, our 3 hour vintage taxi ride from Havana to Viñales cost $60, about the same as 4 bus tickets, but we could stop anytime we wanted for photos or snacks. The cars are super cool too!

I’ve also heard it’s possible to rent one for a full day for $100 – $120.

Internet in Cuba

Using WiFi Internet Cards

Internet In Cuba

Despite popular opinion, there is some internet access in Cuba. That wasn’t always the case though. For many years Cuba was one of the least connected countries in the world. The government does censor some stuff though, like access to Snapchat or anti-government blogs.

These days you can get connected through Cuba’s state run ETECSA telecom company. Tourists can buy ETECSA prepaid wifi cards at special kiosks for $2 – $3 per hour of service.

These scratch-off type cards provide a username and password for ETECSA wifi networks, which can be found at major hotels or in public parks around the country.

You can often buy additional cards from locals in the park or at a hotel front desk for about $6. The internet isn’t blazing fast, but you can certainly upload web-sized photos to Facebook & Instagram.

Passport Stamp Cuba

My Pink Cuban Passport Stamps!

Cuban Exit Fee

As of May 1, 2015 Cuba no longer charges the $25 CUC exit fee to travelers leaving the country, this fee is now included in the price of your airline.

Can You Bring Back Cigars?

I thought you’d never ask! So officially, if you are traveling to Cuba under one of the 12 special categories, you are now allowed to bring back $400 worth of souvenirs, including up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars. Yay!

Does that mean $100 of official branded cigars with a receipt? What if you buy unbranded “loose” cigars from a tobacco farmer in Viñales for $1 each?

Well I don’t know for sure, but I did manage to bring 30 Cuban cigars back into the United States. I was never questioned about tobacco, and it’s not listed on the customs form as something I have to declare.

Buying Cuban cigars in another country, like Mexico, and bringing them back to the US is still illegal. If you decide to try, do so at your own risk!

Most Recent Changes

To learn more about the legality of traveling to Cuba as an American, check out the Treasury Department’s Cuba FAQ. ★

More Information

Useful Notes: While technically it’s still illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba for tourism only, in practice people are going anyway and not getting in trouble. It seems there is no one enforcing these rules as the government attempts to jump-start tourism & business there.
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Cuba
Suggested Reading: The Other Side Of Paradise

READ NEXT: Horseback Riding In Vinales Cuba

Have any questions about how to travel in Cuba? Are you planning a trip there? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

33 Best Travel Jobs To Make Money Traveling

Fun Traveling Jobs to Make Money

Travel Tips

The best travel jobs allow you to earn income while exploring the world. Here are real-life examples of people living the dream – making money traveling abroad.

If you love traveling as much as I do, but can’t afford to completely quit working, you’re in luck. There are actually many different travel job opportunities to make money traveling the world.

Whether it’s seeking opportunities to trade work for accommodation, or landing a location independent job that gives you the freedom to travel abroad — you have options.

The reason I’ve been able to travel the world for the past 5 years is because I’ve slowly turned my travel blog into a business.

However that’s certainly not the only path to long-term travel.

Make Money Traveling

First a little disclaimer. If all traveling jobs were easy, everyone would be doing this. Many of these professions require passion, specialized training, time commitment, and talent. For those that don’t, the pay just isn’t great.

There is no magic way to instantly make lots of money traveling.

The truth about becoming location independent is that it takes years of hard work and sacrifice behind the scenes — something too many people conveniently ignore.

That said, it’s not impossible to work and travel either. The people who have fun travel jobs invested their time and resources to learn how to make it work — which means you can do the same if you make it a priority.

We all have the same 24 hours, how will you spend yours?


Expat, Digital Nomad, or Vagabond?

Not all “travel” jobs are created equally. The wanderlust opportunities listed here fall under one of the following categories — expat jobs, digital nomad jobs, or what I’ll call vagabonding. What’s the difference you ask?

Expat Jobs

Expat stands for “expatriate”. Meaning while you are a citizen of one country, you choose to live/work in a foreign country. Expat jobs are only related to travel in that you’re working in a different country from your own. You may live in that country for months or years at a time, so you aren’t exactly nomadic.

Examples: English teacher, nanny, foreign service, etc.

Digital Nomad

Digital Nomads work from their computers. This makes them location independent. As long as they have access to the internet, they can earn a living. Blogging falls under this category, so it also describes my lifestyle. Digital nomads are free to travel at will, working from coffee shops or hotels.

Examples: Online business, freelance writing, social media, etc.

Vagabonds

Vagabonds do work that I’ll call “alternative” travel jobs. The type of work that may not require a computer, but a more hands-on approach. Think musicians, artists, or manual labor. Access to the internet or owning a computer aren’t mandatory requirements. Pay could be under the table.

Examples: Street vendor, musician, farm work, etc.

Best Travel Jobs (2016)

The following travel jobs encompass one or more of those categories. If you crave the safety of a permanent job, but you also want to live in a different country, then working abroad in a regular full-time type position might be best.

Keep in mind not all of these jobs are suitable for everyone. If you have a university degree, you might not be as willing to pick berries on a farm as someone else might be. Or maybe you are! I won’t judge.

We all have different backgrounds, skills, and comfort levels.


Traveling Bartender Job

Bartender / Server

Bars, nightclubs and restaurants are located worldwide and the job description is pretty much the same everywhere. It helps to speak the language, so you may need to invest in a few weeks of language classes. Touristy places will be easier to find work and there’s no minimum or maximum time requirement. Plus the more experience you gain as a bartender, the more job opportunities will open up, with a potential for higher income.

EXAMPLE

My buddy Jeremy traveled and worked as a bartender in Australia.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $4000 per month

USEFUL RESOURCES


Run Travel Tours

Travel Tour Guide

You could consider getting a job as a local tour guide or tour assistant for an international company, either at a single popular location or for larger multi-destination tours. Or you can think entrepreneurial and start your very own tours! Maybe it’s the best un-marked surf spots, an awesome local hiking trip, or showing people the coolest bars and restaurants in town.

EXAMPLE

My friend Lauren started a successful food tour business in Spain.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $10,000 per month

USEFUL RESOURCES


Traveling Translator

Freelance Translator

Obviously you need to know a second language to be a translator, but maybe not as much as you think. Sure you probably won’t be working at the United Nations, but the opportunities are as open as your imagination. You could charge a restaurant to translate their menu, work for a tour company selling tours to tourists who speak your language, or offer freelance translation services online. The more fluent you are, the more money you can make.

EXAMPLE

My friend Maria translates English websites into Spanish.

INCOME RANGE

$0.10 – $0.40 per word

USEFUL RESOURCES


Backpacker Hostel

Work At Backpacker Hostels

Backpacker hostels frequently hire travelers to fill positions on a short term basis in exchange for free room and board. There are many different types of jobs, from working the front desk to housekeeping or bartending. If you plan to stay longer term, some hostels offer paid positions too. Actually, I once got paid to work at a backpacker hostel in Hawaii many years ago.

EXAMPLE

My buddy Dave worked the front desk at a backpacker hostel in Singapore.

INCOME RANGE

$7 – $10 an hour, possibly with accommodation included

USEFUL RESOURCES


Traveling Jobs Yoga

Traveling Fitness Instructor

Another job that allows you to travel the world while making money is working as a freelance fitness instructor. You can teach classes on pilates, yoga, zumba, dance, or provide services as a personal trainer if you have enough experience in these fields. Some instructors make deals with local gyms or backpacker hostels in order to use their facilities with clients.

EXAMPLE

My friends Brandon & Anne make money teaching yoga while traveling.

INCOME RANGE

$30 – $100 per hour

RESOURCES


Make Money Teaching English

Teach English Abroad

Do you know how to speak English? Sweet! You may not realize it, but professional English teachers are highly sought after around the world — and the pay can be decent. However just understanding the language isn’t enough, you generally need a college degree and a TEFL certification (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).

EXAMPLE

My buddy Drew made money teaching english in Korea.

INCOME RANGE

$2000 – $3000 per month plus accommodation.

RESOURCES


Traveling Massage Jobs

Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is in demand worldwide as an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. Trained therapists can offer their skills to weary travelers or expatriates near popular tourist destinations. Work for a larger company or strike out on your own as an entrepreneur. Find clients by teaming up with hotels and giving them a cut for referring customers. Print flyers to hang up around gyms, coffee shops, etc.

EXAMPLE

My friend Kach made money traveling working as a massage therapist.

INCOME RANGE

$50 – $200 per day

RESOURCES


Make Money Traveling Webdesign

Web / Graphic Design

One of the most common jobs for traveling digital nomads is graphic or website design. All you need is your computer, an eye for design, and knowledge of certain software programs and online platforms. Things like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, WordPress, Illustrator, etc. Talent for writing code helps too — specifically HTML, PHP, and CSS. School is great, but it’s also possible to learn on your own with tutorials.

EXAMPLE

My buddy Adam makes money traveling while designing websites.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $6,000 per month

RESOURCES


Cruise & Yacht Jobs

Work On A Yacht / Cruise Ship

Traveling the world while working on private yachts or large cruise ships is an awesome way to see some pretty exotic places. Food, accommodation, transportation, and insurance is covered too — so it’s a great way to save money. Many jobs also provide plenty of vacation time to travel on your own. There are different types of positions available: deck-hand, stewardess, chef, tour manager, entertainment, engineer, and more.

EXAMPLE

My friend Derek made money traveling & working on a cruise ship.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $5000 per month

RESOURCES


Make Money Traveling Chef

Professional Chef

Working in the kitchen as a traveling chef gives you the opportunity to work anywhere in the world. However the hours are long, irregular, and stressful. Traveling chefs can land jobs at traditional restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, private yachts, food trucks, or even work for private households. Being well-rounded with past experience helps your chances too. Jobs vacancies are often listed online, either in classifieds or company websites.

EXAMPLE

My buddy Daniel makes money traveling as a professional chef.

INCOME RANGE

$9 – $20 per hour

RESOURCES


Day Trading

Day Trading

Like many of the jobs in this list, you can’t just jump into day trading on the stock market without any prior experience and expect to become rich. However I’ve met quite a few people who make money traveling and day trading. It usually takes a few years, and losing some money, before it starts to pay off. A background in finance and spare cash to invest helps too.

EXAMPLE

My buddy Marcello makes money day trading stocks while traveling.

INCOME RANGE

$100 – $10,000 per day

RESOURCES


Make Money as a Street Vendor

Street Vendor

Jewelry is the most popular item to sell, but it could also be art, clothing, leather goods… anything where you can source materials locally in bulk to make a product yourself. Setting up as a vendor requires supplies, possibly meaning a longer time in one location, but if you’re going to spend a season in one place it can be worth it. Find a location with lots of tourist traffic like walking streets or public beaches.

EXAMPLE

My friend Sorina sells leather accessories while traveling around Europe.

INCOME RANGE

$20 – $200 per day

RESOURCES


Make Money at Festivals

Festival Circuit

You don’t have to be a big name performer to work at festivals around the world. There are side-stage acts, installations, event staff, and food vendors too. Festivals always bring on lots of staff before, during and after the events. You can time southern hemisphere Australian and New Zealand festivals between Canadian, American and European summer circuits.

EXAMPLE

My friend Kellie makes money traveling working at festivals.

INCOME RANGE

Free tickets – $12 an hour

RESOURCES


Make Money Scuba Instructor

Sports Instructor

Are you exceptionally good at a particular sport? Share your knowledge with others and get a job as a professional instructor. Surfing, kitesurfing, skiing, scuba diving, skydiving, rock climbing, fly fishing, kayaking, tennis, sailing, mountaineering, etc. Earn an income doing what you love while traveling.

EXAMPLE

My friends Antonio & Amanda make money as scuba diving instructors.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $4000 per month

RESOURCES


Traveling Au Pair Job

Au Pair

An au pair is a professional live-in babysitter or nanny hired by a family to help their kids learn a new language and do some household chores in exchange for room, board, and a weekly income. The job allows you to live in a foreign country, learn a new language, and experience the culture first-hand while making some money.

EXAMPLE

My friend Ashley made money working as an au pair in France.

INCOME RANGE

$400 – $1000 per month

RESOURCES


Flight Attendant Jobs

Flight Attendant

The life of a flight attendant may seem glamorous. Constantly jetting around the world, partying it up in different cities, experiencing different cultures, 90% off airline tickets, hotel discounts, cheap rent, and working above the clouds. But it’s hard work too. The training is tough, the hours are long, and all the moving around can get lonely. However for those with a case of wanderlust, it can help you travel the world.

EXAMPLE

My friend Mia makes money traveling as a flight attendant.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $4000 per month

RESOURCES


Foreign Service Jobs

Foreign Service

Working for the foreign service (aka diplomat) or an intergovernmental organization (IGO) is one travel job that allows you to experience life in a different part of the world. Most of these government jobs are only open to people with university degrees or knowledge of foreign languages. Applications and tests for these types of positions can be found online.

EXAMPLE

My girlfriend Anna worked for the Polish embassy in London.

INCOME RANGE

$500 – $10,000 per month

RESOURCES


Travel Photographer Jobs

Photographer

Becoming a professional travel or adventure photographer and selling your images from around the world takes years of hard work. You can upload photos in bulk to micro-stock sites or sell images to clients directly for use in magazines, books, brand campaigns, or websites. Running guided photography tours and selling online tutorials are additional ways to make money as a traveling photographer.

EXAMPLE

My friend Brendan wrote an eye-opening article about working as professional travel photographer these days.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $10,000 per month

RESOURCES


Traveling Writer Job

Travel Writer

Writing about travel seems to be a dream job for many, however it’s not something most people can just jump into. First, you have to be a great writer. Next, you need to learn about networking, pitching to editors, and all the other business stuff involved. Once you have those down, then it’s possible to write for magazines, newspapers, websites, or travel guidebooks. Copywriting and other types of writing are also options.

EXAMPLE

My friend Jodi earns income on the road as a travel & food writer.

INCOME RANGE

$0.10 – $1.00 per word

USEFUL RESOURCES


Make Money Amazon Store

Drop Shipping / Amazon FBA

It has a few names and variations, but buying products overseas then re-branding them and selling through Amazon is an increasingly common way to make money while traveling. Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) means you don’t need an actual storefront location because products are stocked at Amazon’s network of fulfillment centers around the world.

EXAMPLE

My friend Aileen makes money traveling & selling products on Amazon.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $30,000 per month

RESOURCES


Make Money Travel Blogging

Blogging

Making money as a blogger while traveling is a dream job for many. But like most things in life, it’s hardly simple. Earning a living with a blog is hard work — and can take years. A blog about travel isn’t the only option, other examples include food bloggers, mommy bloggers, fashion bloggers, and lifestyle bloggers. Income generally comes from advertising, affiliate sales, books, influencer projects, etc. But first you need to build an audience!

EXAMPLE

Me! Check out my resources below about how to become a travel blogger.

INCOME RANGE

$500 – $20,000+ per month

USEFUL RESOURCES


Make Money Traveling Musician

Musician / Street Performer

Also known as busking, use your best talents to make some money from tourists. Create an act, grab an instrument, pick a spot with lots of foot traffic, and drop a hat. Many cities require a permit for busking, so make sure to do your research first. Do you have any special talents? Acrobatics, painting, fortune telling, music, break dancing, henna art, it could be anything.

EXAMPLE

My friend Nadia makes money traveling and playing street music.

INCOME RANGE

$10 – $100 per hour

RESOURCES


Make Money Traveling AirBnB

AirBnB

I’m sure you’ve heard of AirBnB by now, the holiday apartment booking site that lets you stay in other people’s homes rather than hotels. Well some enterprising individuals are renting out their flats while they travel, making decent income. The key is automating the process as much as possible so you don’t have to be there in person.

EXAMPLE

My friend Alyssa makes money renting her apartment on AirBnB.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $7000+ per month

RESOURCES


Make Money Traveling Seasonal Jobs

Seasonal Jobs

I’ve met many travelers around the world who work seasonally, spending part of the year earning money and then traveling for months in the off-season. The number of jobs in this category are countless. Construction, school teachers, commercial fishing, oil workers, electricians, ski resort staff, etc. These jobs depend on what skills you currently possess or are willing to learn.

EXAMPLE

My buddy Brian has worked construction jobs while traveling.

INCOME RANGE

Varies widely

RESOURCES


Travel Jobs Poker

Internet Poker

It almost sounds too good to be true. Playing poker for a living, online or at real tables, from anywhere in the world. But like anything else, it requires lots of hard work to make that lifestyle sustainable. You need to be good with numbers, possess strong willpower to play for hours, keep your emotions in check, and be able to stay focused on repetitive tasks.

EXAMPLE

My buddy Konrad makes money playing online poker for a living.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $30,000 per month

RESOURCES


Peace Corp

Peace Corp / NGO

Want the experience of a lifetime helping others less fortunate than yourself? Try volunteering with the Peace Corp or a Non-Governmental Organization. Just keep in mind that volunteer work is a full-time job. While it makes your life rich with experiences, the money isn’t great. You’ll build confidence to handle any challenge — because the work itself is challenging.

EXAMPLE

My friend Danielle worked as Peace Corp volunteer in Nicaragua.

INCOME RANGE

$314 per month plus food & accommodation

RESOURCES


Marketing PR Jobs

Marketing / PR

Again, not something you can just learn in a week. There is a reason people go to school and get a degree in marketing. However if you have a business/marketing background, there is no reason why you can’t freelance this type of work from a hammock in Bali. In fact it’s becoming much more common — I’ve met plenty of people helping authors or brands get their name out to a wider audience while traveling.

EXAMPLE

My friends Pete & Dalene run a digital influencer marketing company.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $10,000+ per month

RESOURCES


YouTube Travel Job

Video Work / Vlogging

Traveling around the world making videos is another dream job, and some people make a very good living with it. There are a few different paths too — shooting and selling stock footage, becoming a popular YouTuber, or producing highly polished marketing films for tourism boards & travel brands. A strong knowledge of video, editing, networking, and marketing is highly recommended for this type of work.

EXAMPLE

My friend Nadine makes money traveling as a professional YouTuber.

INCOME RANGE

$1000 – $20,000+ per month

RESOURCES


Travel Nurse Job

Travel Nurse

To become a travel nurse, you must first get a degree as a registered nurse (RN) which takes 2-4 years. Once you have that, it’s possible to apply for temporary travel nursing jobs which can last up to 13 weeks. Depending on the assignment, sometimes these jobs include tax-free income, free housing, medical coverage, rental cars, and more. There are travel nurse staffing agencies that specialize in helping you locate a job overseas too.

EXAMPLE

My friend Rachel worked as a travel nurse for a while.

INCOME RANGE

$30 – $40 per hour

RESOURCES


Computer Programming Travel Job

Computer Programmer

If you already have the skills & training needed as a computer programmer, than transitioning your cubicle office job into a freelance position with location independence would give you the freedom to travel. There are special freelance programming websites where you can bid on jobs, or you can try to launch a company to build your own products like iPhone apps or custom web applications.

EXAMPLE

My friends Simon & Erin develop smartphone apps as they travel.

INCOME RANGE

$3000 – $10,000 per month

RESOURCES


Virtual Assistant Travel Job

Virtual Assistant

With advancements in office technology and a desire to reduce employee costs, business are increasingly looking to hire virtual assistants who can work from home (or anywhere for that matter). There is little that personal assistants can’t do remotely these days. Social media scheduling, responding to customer enquires, calendar management, and all sorts of other tasks can be taken care of by a competent virtual assistant.

EXAMPLE

My friend Katie travels & works as a virtual assistant.

INCOME RANGE

$500 – $3000 per month

RESOURCES


Consultant Work and Travel

Professional Consultant

Are you an expert in your field? Working as a professional consultant for companies may give you the ticket to location independence. Consultants work on short term projects, helping businesses grow by training staff how to do something better. For example, instructing a business how to use social media effectively, or how to become more environmentally friendly. Generally they are paid to share their specialized expertise.

EXAMPLE

My friend Dave travels and works as a consultant for oil companies.

INCOME RANGE

Varies widely.

RESOURCES


Working Holiday Visa Jobs

Working Holiday Visas

A working holiday visa is a special residence permit allowing travelers to legally work in foreign countries to supplement their travel funds. They are generally intended for people between the ages of 18 to 30, and requirements differ based on the country. Some popular destinations for working holidays include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Ireland, and Singapore.

EXAMPLE

My friend Marta has lived in 3 different countries on working holiday visas.

INCOME RANGE

Varies widely

RESOURCES


Work Abroad With Travel Jobs

The truth is there are no easy ways to make lots of money while traveling without prior skills, time commitment, or experience. It’s just not how the world works.

No one is going to pay you thousands of dollars to do something easy.

Dream jobs often take years to materialize, and include unimaginable effort & sacrifice that the average person just can’t understand until they experience that same journey for themselves.

While I make a good living with my travel blog — it didn’t happen overnight. It’s the same for most of these other jealousy-inducing travel jobs.

But I hope this article has demonstrated that there are plenty of people out there working hard and “living the dream” who manage to make money while traveling. It’s not impossible!

So get out there and start making your own dreams come true. ★

READ NEXT: Norway’s Stunning Winter Wonderland

Do you have a travel friendly job? Any others I missed?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Climbing The Ancient Mayan Ruins Of Coba

Coba Ruins Mexico

Coba, Mexico

From the top of Coba’s ancient pyramid, the jungle looks like a living green carpet. The Mayan Ruins of Coba are one of my favorite archaeological sites in Mexico’s Yucatan.

Archaeologists believe the Mayan ruins of Coba were an incredibly important city for the Maya people. However due to its remote location, the site is not as popular with tourists as other ruins in Mexico.

But there are many reasons to visit the city of white roads.

Because Coba doesn’t see as much tourism as places like Chichen Itza or Tulum, so you can actually still climb some of the structures for a totally different and unique perspective.

Coba Ruins Church

Coba Ruins Bike

Coba Ruins Trees

Exploring Mayan Ruins Of Coba

Coba’s claim to fame is the largest network of stone causeways in the ancient Mayan world, called sacbes (white roads). Over 50 of these roads have been discovered at the site, with 16 of them open to the public.

The raised stone pathways connect clusters of residential areas to the main pyramid area of Nohoch Mul and small lakes used as a water supply nearby. There are three ways to explore the ruins along these roads.

You can walk, hire a bici taxi, or my personal favorite, rent a bicycle.

Mysteriously no one really knows how the Maya transported goods along these roads. While scientists believe the Maya knew about the existence of the wheel, there’s no evidence they actually used them.

One of my favorite reasons to visit Coba is that it isn’t as excavated as other sites, so you feel like you’re wandering through a forest, with many structures still covered in trees.

Nohoch Mul Coba

Coba Ruins Pyramid

Coba Ruins Pyramid

Climbing The Pyramid

The largest pyramid at Coba is called Ixmoja, part of the Nohoch Mul group of buildings. The pyramid is 42 meters (138 feet) tall and was the heart of the city. Unlike other Maya sites, you can still climb this one, if you dare!

The 120 stone steps are much steeper than they look…

This is why there’s a thick rope in the middle for safety. But the view from the top is totally worth the climb. A light breeze cools you off from the summit while gazing at the lush jungle landscape stretching out in all directions.

Plus, there aren’t many places where you can climb a Mayan pyramid anymore. As a site gets more popular and tourism increases, authorities eventually restrict climbing to preserve structures and reduce accidents.

Be careful climbing down the pyramid, it’s more difficult than going up!

Coba Structures Mexico

Coba Trails

Painting Complex Coba

History Of Coba

Coba is estimated to have had a population of over 50,000 at its peak. There are many tall stone carved monuments at the complex, called stelae. Some stelae here depict women, suggesting the city had many female rulers.

There are two well-preserved ball courts on the site too, used for playing ōllamaliztli, a traditional Mayan ballgame.

Specific rules differ depending on the time period, but basically players attempted to bounce a heavy rubber ball through stone rings using their hips.

Sometimes the captain of the losing team was ritually sacrificed.

The Mayan City of Coba was first inhabited around 100 AD and was eventually abandoned when the Spanish conquered the peninsula around 1550 AD. However the city was once the most powerful in the region, controlling farmland, trading routes, and important water sources.

Coba Cenote Mexico

Coba Cenote Swimming

Swimming In Cenotes

Speaking of water sources, no visit to Coba would be complete without taking a dip in the refreshing limestone cenotes nearby. Cenotes are underground sinkholes filled with fresh water, found all over the Yucatan.

There are 3 cenotes just a 10 minute drive away from the ruins.

Cenote Choo-Ha is a shallow water cenote with crystal blue water and many stalagmites hanging from the ceiling. My personal favorite of the three.

Cenote Tamcach-Ha is a deep underground cavern with two fun jumping platforms at 5 & 10 meters (15 & 30 feet) high. Cenote Multun-Ha is a bit further away in the jungle and boasts a large wooden deck.

The entrance fee for each cenote is 55 pesos ($3 USD). They are a wonderful way to cool off after a hot day exploring the Mayan ruins of Coba!

Motorcycle Road Trip Coba

Motorcycle Road Trip Coba

Tips For Visiting Coba

The ruins of Coba are about 44 kilometers (28 miles) from Tulum, or 109 kilometers (68 miles) from Playa del Carmen. For the budget minded, you can get to the site via ADO Bus from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum. Colectivos (public taxi vans) are also an option, however you’ll have to change vans in Tulum.

Renting a car is the most flexible and allows you to visit cenotes.

Or, if you’re a fan of motorcycles, you can rent a Harley Davidson in Playa del Carmen like I did with my friends Evelina from Earth Wanderess & Jeremy from The World Or Bust. The road is an easy and smooth ride.

At the ruins you can hire a guide to explain the history, or just wander on your own. Renting an old bicycle for 45 pesos and riding around enables you to see the most in the shortest period of time.

Whatever you decide, remember to bring sunscreen & water because it can get hot! Plus sturdy shoes if you plan to climb the main pyramid. ★

Traveling To Mexico Soon?

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.

Watch Video: Mayan Ruins Of Coba

(Click to watch Mayan Ruins Of Coba – Mexico on YouTube)

More Information

Location: Coba, Mexico
Total Cost: 65 pesos ($4 USD) entry fee
Motorcycle Rental: Harley Adventures
Useful Notes: It gets hot during the day at Coba, so visiting early morning or late afternoon is best. Less people too. You can explore on foot but I highly recommend renting a bicycle. The complex is very large!
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Yucatan
Suggested Reading: The Maya: Ancient Peoples & Places

READ NEXT: Things To Do In Playa Del Carmen

Have any questions about the Mayan ruins of Coba? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

How To Use Your iPhone GPS For Hiking In The Wilderness

iPhone GPS Hiking

Using Your Smartphone GPS for Hiking

Travel Tips

Would you be surprised if I told you my favorite piece of backpacking gear is my smartphone? I love using my iPhone’s GPS for hiking in the wilderness.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook & Instagram, you’ll know that I recently returned from an epic trek in Greenland on the Arctic Circle Trail.

There’s no cell-service on this hike. It was a 10 day adventure through remote Greenlandic wilderness. However I was still able to use my iPhone’s built in GPS capabilities to help me navigate the long-distance route.

My battery lasted 7 days before it needed recharging too!

I’ve been using Gaia GPS for hiking trips in places like Turkey, Norway, Israel, Greenland, Canada, Iceland, and the United States. It’s a super useful app for adventure lovers.

GPS Hiking App

Gaia GPS in Greenland

Smartphone GPS For Hiking

Did you know that cell service is not necessary to use your smartphone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) chip? However to track your progress effectively without service, you must pre-download maps before the journey.

There are a few different GPS mapping apps out there for smartphones, but my favorite (and the most used) is called Gaia GPS Topo Maps.

This amazing app allows hikers to pre-download different types of maps from around the world for use with your iPhone’s GPS. You can also record altitude, speed, leave waypoints, create tracks, and produce all sorts of other detailed information about your backcountry trips.

Better Than Dedicated GPS Unit?

Why spend hundreds of dollars on a dedicated GPS device for hiking when you can get the same functionality with a $20 app for your smartphone?

Using your phone as a GPS unit saves you money, reduces the amount of weight you pack, and serves multiple purposes (photos, journal, notes, etc.).

It’s a wonderful backup to have along with paper maps, and can save your butt if you happen to lose the trail or get caught in bad weather.

Both have happened to me a few times, and whipping out your phone is far easier than attempting to use regular maps during a raging storm!

GPS Hiking App

Pre-Downloading a Section of Map

Gaia GPS Settings

To get the most out of Gaia GPS, there are few settings you need to be aware of. First, there are many different map layers you can use within the app. The two I use most often are the Open Hiking Map and Google’s satellite view called Imagery + Roads.

These are probably the best maps for hiking. The Open Hiking Map includes basic topographical features along with known hiking trails, while Satellite Imagery gives you a better picture of the landscape.

If hiking somewhere without cell service, make sure to pre-download sections of the map that cover the area where you’ll be.

Pre-downloading maps is explained in the YouTube tutorial below.

Gaia GPS also allows you to record tracks as you hike, but don’t do this unless you have a specific need, because it drains battery life and requires the phone to be powered on the whole time.

I only use the app to confirm my GPS location or navigate in bad weather.

Close the Gaia app after each use (double tap the home button and swipe the app up to close). This prevents Gaia from continually updating your location. Turn the phone off to further reduce battery drain.

iPhone GPS Hiking

Hiking in Norway with the LifeProof FRĒ Power

Protecting Your Phone

As you might already know, I’m a huge fan of the water & shock-proof smartphone cases from LifeProof, and they’re one of my sponsors too.

Using the LifeProof FRĒ POWER gives me double the battery power for long-distance treks like the Arctic Circle Trail.

So when my phone’s battery eventually dies, I simply press a button on the back of the LifeProof case to recharge it completely.

Battery Conservation Settings

While hiking through Greenland for 10 days, my iPhone 6 battery lasted for 7 days using the settings below. I turned off the phone when not in use, and only powered it up to compare my GPS location with the paper maps I carried.

  • Enable Airplane Mode (turns off WiFi/Bluetooth)
  • Close all apps except Gaia
  • General > Usage > Battery Percentage = ON
  • Privacy > Location Services = OFF (except Gaia)
  • Privacy > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking = ON
  • Privacy > Motion & Fitness = OFF
  • General > Siri = OFF
  • General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion = ON
  • General > Date & Time > Set Automatically = OFF
  • General > VPN = OFF

One more important tip is to keep your phone warm when it’s cold out, like in a pants pocket. This includes when sleeping too. Nothing drains the battery faster than cold weather! ★

Watch Video: Gaia GPS Tutorial

(Click to watch Gaia GPS Tutorial on YouTube)

More Information

Product: Gaia GPS App for iPhone | Android
Total Cost: $19.99 USD
Useful Notes: Gaia GPS is a pretty big application with many features. You’ll want to set aside at least an hour to learn how to use it.

READ NEXT: Complete Travel Gear Guide

Have any questions about using your phone’s GPS for hiking?

My Experience Learning Spanish In Guatemala

San Pedro La Laguna

Learning Spanish in Guatemala

San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

While traveling through Guatemala I spent 3 weeks taking Spanish classes and staying with a local family on Lake Atitlan. Here’s a rundown of my experience.

Guatemala is one of the best countries in the world to visit if you’d like to learn Spanish. It’s not too far from the United States, classes are inexpensive, and locals naturally speak slowly without using too much slang.

Plus, if you’d like to learn Spanish fast, there’s no better way then to be totally immersed in the culture & language for an extended period of time.

I decided to study in the town of San Pedro La Laguna on Lake Atitlan, located in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountains.

This massive lake is surrounded by volcanoes, colorful wildflowers, and traditional Maya villages. A picture perfect setting to learn Spanish.

Lake Atitlan

Beautiful Lake Atitlan

San Pedro La Laguna

My Home for 3 Weeks

Spanish School In Guatemala

I went to Cooperative School San Pedro on Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlan). It’s a true cooperative started by a group of experienced Spanish teachers who believe they have a responsibility to their community.

In general it’s recommended to take at least 3 weeks of Spanish classes to get a basic grasp on the language. You can choose between 3-6 hours of instruction per day, either morning or afternoon classes.

Homestays are available or you can find your own accommodation.

I paid $205 USD per week for 4 hours of class per day, 5 days per week, which also included my homestay plus 3 meals a day. It was a great deal!

Lake Atitlan has a laid-back hippy vibe, and the landscape around the lake is breathtaking with many outdoor activities nearby. However Antigua & Quetzaltenango (Xela) are also popular towns for learning Spanish.

Xela is a larger city, while Antigua is a bit more touristy.

Friends of mine have recommended ICA Spanish School in Xela and Antigua Plaza School in Antigua if you’re looking to stay there instead.

San Pedro La Laguna

Spanish Class with Flori

A Typical Day At Class

There are a few different options for class schedules, however I choose 4 hours of one-on-one Spanish instruction per day, five days a week. My teacher was Flori, a local woman who’s been teaching for years.

She always seemed upbeat and excited to teach as we sat in the shade overlooking Lake Atitlan.

After a general evaluation of my Spanish skills (almost non-existent in my case), Flori gave me a refresher course on rules of Spanish and helped improve my vocabulary using fun games and written exercises.

There were homework assignments every night too…

My Spanish quickly improved with regular daily instruction, and I was finally able to communicate with my Guatemalan host family and other locals.

Three weeks of class wasn’t enough to become fluent, but traveling through Central America was MUCH easier because I could understand a lot more and make myself understood.

Even though I probably sounded like a 5 year old!

Homestay Guatemala

Guatemalan Homestay

Mayan Hosts

Local Maya Host Family

The Homestay Experience

While taking Spanish school in Guatemala I stayed with the Bixcul-Pichilla family in their small two-story cinderblock home nestled at the bottom of Volcano San Pedro.

It was super difficult to communicate at first, as they don’t speak any English. Only Tzujill (a local Mayan language) & some Spanish.

I had my own bedroom, and the family of 5 shared 3 others. We also had a basic kitchen and open-air courtyard. Living this way was an eye-opening experience for me, very different from the “comfortable” American lifestyle I’m used to.

There was a bathroom in the courtyard, and a sink area used for washing clothes, cleaning dishes, brushing teeth, shaving — pretty much everything.

Water was delivered via pipes once or twice a week, where it’s stored in drums for later use. Occasionally it would run out if we used too much.

San Pedro Volcano

Climbing San Pedro Volcano

Lake Atitlan Canoe

Traditional Wooden Canoe

Activities Nearby

Like I mentioned earlier, the Lake Atitlan area is full of cool things to do. So when I got sick of trying to memorize new Spanish words, I’d take a break and get outside for a Guatemalan adventure!

Volcano Hikes

Lake Atitlan is surrounded by volcanoes. Hiking these is a great way to get some exercise and capture epic photos of the landscape. Two of the most popular hikes are Volcano San Pedro and La Nariz de Indio.

Lake Kayaking

Rent a kayak and explore Lake Atitlan up-close and personal. Or if you’re feeling REALLY adventurous, find a local fisherman willing to rent out his traditional wooden canoe. They aren’t easy to navigate!

Scuba Diving

Yes, you can go scuba diving under the lake here, and apparently there’s interesting stuff to see. Like freshwater crabs, underwater volcanic hot-vents, and flooded hotels. ATI Divers is located in the town of Santa Cruz.

Coffee Tours

Coffee is a big deal in Guatemala, and the nutrient-rich volcanic slopes around Lake Atitlan are covered in coffee farms. A coffee tour allows you to experience the fascinating coffee production process from start to finish.

Maya Villages

There are 12 Maya villages spread out around the shores of Lake Atitlan, with many only accessible by boat or on foot. My favorites were Santiago, San Juan, and San Marcos. Walk the cobblestone streets, visit old churches, watch a local basketball game, and experience some Maya culture.

Community Outreach

Many of the Spanish schools in San Pedro give back to the community with social aid projects, and you can volunteer to help out by bringing food or building supplies to poor local families in need.

San Pedro Church

Church in San Pedro la Laguna

Santiago Lake Atitlan

Santiago Streets

Tips & Advice

Panajachel is the main transportation hub for the Lake Atitlan area. A bus from Guatemala City to Panajachel takes 3-4 hours. Once at the lake, the best way to travel from village to village is by lancha (boat taxi). Prices vary, but are generally around 15-25q ($2-3 USD).

The temperature around Lago Atitlan fluctuates between 50 – 80 degrees (F), so it can get chilly at night. Larger towns like Panajachel & San Pedro have ATMs, but not all of them do.

When picking a Spanish school in Guatemala, keep a lookout for schools that funnel money into social aid projects for the local community. I’d also recommend staying in a homestay for the same reason, that money goes a long way towards improving the lives of your host family.

For additional recommendations, talk to people who’ve actually attended the school you are interested in. Search travel blogs or online forums like Lonely Planet to read reviews of other schools. ★

More Information

Location: San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala [Map] Spanish School: Cooperative School San Pedro
Total Cost: $90 – $225 USD per week depending on hours/homestay
Useful Notes: Staying with a host family is the most cost-effective way to learn Spanish in Guatemala, and the best way to practice what you’re learning in school while learning about local culture.
Recommended Reading: Lonely Planet Guatemala

READ NEXT: Camping On An Active Volcano

Any other questions about learning Spanish in Guatemala?

Cliffs Of Insanity! Visiting Ireland’s Cliffs Of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher

Doolin, Ireland

A cold wind blows as I walk along the legendary Cliffs of Moher. Ireland’s most famous landmark rises dramatically out of the ocean, waves crashing into rocks far below.

Whoever he is, he’s too late. See?! The Cliffs of Insanity! ~ Vizzini

A favorite childhood movie of mine is the 80’s cult classic The Princess Bride, a crazy fairy tale adventure through the mythical kingdom of Florin.

In one scene, Princess Buttercup’s kidnappers are chased across the ocean by the Man in Black before they climb the steep “mile-high” Cliffs of Insanity.

While not quite a mile high, Ireland’s 700 foot Cliffs of Moher are certainly imposing enough to feature them in the movie. Now that I’ve finally seen them myself, I can assure you the cliffs are even more astounding in person!

Ireland Cliffs

Cliff Views Looking South

Cliffs of Moher Tower

O’Brien’s Tower

Cliffs Of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are located about 90 minutes south of Galway on Ireland’s west coast in County Clare. They’re part of a scenic driving route called the Wild Atlantic Way.

While technically the cliffs are Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction with one million visitors each year, at 5 miles long, there’s plenty of room to explore if you enjoy walking.

A visitor’s center was built into the hillside so people can experience the site without intrusive buildings wrecking the view, and a scenic walking path branches out in two directions across the top.

The cliffs range in height from 390 feet to 702 feet tall, and are home to over 30,000 birds, including colonies of Atlantic Puffin that usually make an appearance in late March.

Cliffs of Moher

Stunning Cliffs of Moher

Hag's Head

Hag’s Head Tower

Walking Over The Sea

There are safety barriers to keep you from getting too close to the edge of the cliffs, but only up to a point. If you keep walking, eventually the barriers end.

Some people risk standing or sitting right on the edge…

I was one of them. However do so at your own risk! There’s often strong winds at the Cliffs of Moher, with freak gusts reportedly blowing people off to their deaths from time to time.

The Namurian shale & sandstone ledges that make up the cliffs will sometimes crumble without warning due to erosion, creating another danger.

To the south, there’s a beautiful old stone tower from the Napoleonic Wars called Hag’s Head. Walking here from the visitor’s center will take the average person about 1 – 2 hours.

To the north, O’Brien’s Tower marks the highest point of the cliffs. It’s just a short walk away from the visitor’s center and offers the best views in both directions. You can pay an additional $2 to climb the tower.

Cliffs of Moher Flowers

Flowers Growing on the Edge

Visiting The Cliffs

There are two villages near the Cliffs of Moher, Liscannor (6 km south) and Doolin (7 km north). Both are small, but you’ll find plenty of restaurants, bed & breakfasts, and pubs with live music to relax in after a day of exploring.

Tourism is highest here during the months of July & August making the area quite crowded. However in September it wasn’t bad at all, especially if you walk beyond the area around the visitor’s center.

Other potential adventures include viewing the cliffs from below on a ferry boat, or hiking the entire 12 mile (20 km) Coastal Walk over the cliffs.

There is a good reason why Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher are so famous. Walking the winding dirt path on the edge of a precipice, its beautiful Atlantic Ocean views & surrounding landscapes are awe inspiring.

It’s a truly magic travel experience to have in the Emerald Isle. ★

More Information

Location: Doolin, Ireland [Map] Accommodation: Churchfield Bed & Breakfast
Official Website: Cliffs Of Moher
Total Cost: €6 Entry Fee, €2 for O’Brien’s Tower
Useful Notes: Like always, I recommend visiting popular tourist attractions early or late to avoid large crowds. The best time for photography is just before or during sunset, when the cliffs are bathed in light. Plan to visit for at least 2 hours if not more.
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Ireland
Suggested Reading: In Search of Ancient Ireland

READ NEXT: Finding My Roots In Ireland

Have you ever visited the Cliffs of Moher?

Packing & Planning For The Arctic Circle Trail

Packing for Arctic Circle Trail

Packing for the Arctic Circle Trail

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Preparing to hike Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail? Here are some useful tips for packing and planning your trek based on my Greenland adventure in August 2015.

When I first began planning to hike Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail, it was difficult to find useful details online. There were a few blog posts about the trek, but they were written in German or Danish.

So this is my attempt to remedy that situation and make the hike more accessible to English speakers who are interested in exploring this beautiful and lesser-known area of the world on foot.

Located about 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the typical route stretches 102 miles (165km) from Kangerlussuaq International Airport to the fishing village of Sisimiut on the West coast.

It’s possible to lengthen the trip to 124 miles by starting from Greenland’s ice cap for those who are up for the challenge.

Recommended Experience Level

While most of Greenland is covered with ice, the Arctic Circle Trail is ice-free during the summer. Passing through low valleys covered by many lakes, it’s a relatively easy walk with regards to elevation.

The difficulty comes with packing all your own food and supplies to last at least 10 days. Plus a complete lack of civilization nearby in the event of an unexpected emergency.

Arctic Circle Trail hikers must have experience surviving alone in the wilderness, understanding their own limits, reading weather patterns, and the ability to navigate unfamiliar terrain using a map and compass.

At the hike’s midpoint, you can be 5 days and 50 miles away from any type of civilization. You’re on your own out there. It’s not a trek for beginners, but you don’t need to be a serious mountaineer either.

Hiking in Greenland

Hiking in Greenland

How Long Does It Take?

Depending on fitness levels and the specific route chosen, the traditional 102 mile long Arctic Circle Trail from Kangerlussuaq Airport to Sisimiut can take anywhere between 7-10 days to complete.

To start from the ice cap like I did, plan for an additional 2-3 days.

It’s important to note that Greenland is a wild and unpredictable place. If you think you can hike the trail in 10 days, make sure to include 2-3 extra buffer days for delays due to weather, injury, exhaustion, or canceled flights.

Seasons & Weather

While hiking the Arctic Circle Trail is possible in the winter, it’s far more difficult & technical. The primary hiking season is from June to September when the trail is free of snow.

Greenland has a mosquito problem. Swarms can be downright maddening from June until mid August when the first frost finally kills them off. I started hiking August 12th and had to break out my mosquito head net a few times.

The trail is extremely muddy & boggy in June after the snow melts with river crossings becoming deeper and more dangerous. In September, the risk of snow storms is higher as winter begins.

In August, the air temperature fluctuated between 60’s (F) in the day to 30’s (F) at night, with one afternoon of snow flurries.

Over the 10 days I was on the trail, I experienced steady rain for 3 of them.

Kangerlussuaq Airport

Kangerlussuaq Airport

Flying To Greenland

Flying to Greenland is the most expensive part of this epic trekking adventure. Air Greenland offers regular flights to Kangerlussuaq from Reykjavik, Iceland and Copenhagen, Denmark. So you’ll need to get yourself to one of these cities first.

I flew to Greenland from Copenhagen for $1032 USD round trip. Now if you’re hiking the Arctic Circle Trail from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut, you’ll also need to get yourself back to Kangerlussuaq in order to leave the country.

The one-way flight from Sisimiut to Kangerlussuaq costs about $200 USD.

If you need help searching for international flights to Iceland or Denmark, make sure to read my popular post about How To Find Cheap Flights.

Accommodation Options

Accommodation in Greenland before and after the hike is expensive. A single room in Kangerlussuaq or Sisimiut will set you back about $100 – $200 USD. A hostel dormitory bed costs between $30 – $40 USD.

However both towns also have campgrounds available with bathrooms.

Kangerlussuaq Accommodation

Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel
Old Camp Hostel
Polar Lodge (where I stayed)
Hotel Kangerlussuaq

Sisimiut Accommodation

Sisimiut Youth Hostel
Seaman’s House
Hotel Sisimiut (where I stayed)

Trail Hut

Inside a Trail Hut (Sleeps 6!)

Trail Huts & Camping

Spread along the route are a series of 9 basic wooden huts with bunks that are free for hikers to use. Packing a tent is highly recommended though, as some huts only sleep 4 and could possibly be full when you arrive.

Bad weather may also prevent you from reaching one of the huts in time, so having a backup plan for shelter is very important for your safety in Greenland’s vast wilderness.

Due to personal preference, I spent most nights wild camping. However I did sleep in 2 of the trail huts during my hike, and took an afternoon nap in a third. If you’re hiking from hut to hut each day, the full journey (from Kangerlussuaq airport, not the ice cap) will take 10 days.

How Many Hikers?

Only 300 people hike the trail every year, so while you may run into other hikers, it’s possible to go days without seeing a fellow human depending on which month you decide to attempt the trek.

I met about 10 hikers on the Arctic Circle Trail over 10 days. Most were German or Danish, and one other American. Many people hike this route for the solitude, so walking together and chatting for a few miles before breaking off on your own again was the standard routine.

Breakfast in Greenland

Tasty Trekking Breakfast

Food & Water

The traditional Arctic Circle Trail route takes 7-10 days for most people to complete. So hikers need to pack at least 10 days worth of food to be safe. That’s a lot of food!

At 1-2 pounds (16-24 ounces) of food per day, that’s about 10-20 pounds of food on your back. To keep it as light as possible, I recommend buying dehydrated backpacker meals and bringing them with you to Greenland.

While there is a supermarket in both Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut, they don’t stock dehydrated meals. They do have ingredients for trail mix — but to be safe I’d also prepare your own trail mix before you arrive. It will be cheaper and you’ll have more options.

Water on the other hand is pretty easy to take care of, as there are countless freshwater lakes, ponds, and streams along the Arctic Circle Trail. So with careful planning you can get by with just a single Nalgene bottle. No filter is required either! Of course there is always a risk of water contamination, but it’s pretty low out here. Most hikers don’t use one.

My Greenland Trekking Diet

  • Muesli/oatmeal with wild berries & brown sugar for breakfast
  • Trail mix plus wild mushrooms/berries for lunch & snacks
  • Canned fish sandwich and dried fish jerky for dinner
  • Chocolate & Greenlandic Schnapps for dessert

(I brought dehydrated meals, but couldn’t use them due to a problem explained below)

Camping in Greenland

Wild Camping in Greenland

Packing List

Mosquito Head Net
Long Underwear
Hiking Pants
Hiking Shorts
Hiking Shirts (2)
Wool Socks (3)
Fleece Top
Ballcap & Sunglasses
Sunscreen & Lip Balm
Mosquito Repellent
Winter Hat & Gloves
River/Camp Sandals
Paper Maps & Compass
iPhone 6 & Camera Gear

Maps & GPS

You’ll want to buy a series of 3 paper topographical maps that cover the entire length of the Arctic Circle Trail. While you can generally buy these at the Polar Lodge in Kangerlussuaq, it’s better to get them in advance because in Greenland, things run out of stock easily.

You can try to pre-order the Arctic Circle Trail maps from Greenland Tourism. The trail is marked with occasional rock cairns along the way, but there are a few places where you can still lose the trail, and in bad weather, the cairns aren’t always super visible.

In addition to the paper maps, I also packed my iPhone 6 with a LifeProof FRĒ Power Case running Gaia GPS and pre-dowloaded maps. There is no cell-service on the trail, but you can still use your phone as a GPS device.

What Would I Do Different?

After hiking the Arctic Circle Trail in August 2015, there are a few things I’d do differently if I decide to return. Hopefully you’ll learn from my mistakes!

My 40 degree (F) sleeping bag was a bit too cold for wild camping, and I was forced to sleep in my clothing and use a space blanket for a few chilly nights. I’d probably want something closer to 0 or 10 degrees.

I packed a great lightweight and efficient Jetboil stove that became useless when I couldn’t buy fuel canisters for it in Kangerlussuaq. The whole town ran out of the type I needed.

Shipping butane/propane to Greenland is difficult, because it’s not allowed on airplanes. Canisters must arrive by boat. Because of this, I’d recommend a multi-fuel backpacking stove instead. It allows you to boil water with a few different types of fuel.

Sure, I made due with cold food for 10 days anyway, but strong hot coffee and warm dinners have a wonderful way of re-energizing you on long-distance hikes. They were missed.

Guidebook & More Details

If you’re planning to hike the Arctic Circle Trail I highly recommend picking up the book Trekking In Greenland by Paddy Dillon.

It goes into far more detail than I can cover in a blog post, and it’s what I used to plan my own adventure. Good luck, and have fun! ★

READ NEXT: My Favorite Camera For Travel Photos

Do you have any other Arctic Circle Trail questions?

Finding My Roots In Ireland: Family Genealogy Road Trip

Genealogy in Ireland

Family Genealogy Trip in Ireland

Glengarriff, Ireland

It only took me 34 years to visit my family’s ancestral homeland of Ireland. Joined by my parents & sister, we traveled to the Emerald Isle to research our history.

Like most Americans, I’m a mutt. My family immigrated to the United States from Ireland, Poland, Germany and England. Mostly from Ireland though — including my paternal grandmother.

Concentrating on the side of the family with the most recent links to Ireland, we decided to visit the area where my grandmother was born. A small south-western coastal village called Glengarriff in County Cork.

I was especially excited for this journey, as it was the first time that my family members were going to travel with me internationally, and years since we’d traveled together for any kind of road trip. Woohoo!

O'Neils Bar Dublin

Guinness For Breakfast

Dublin Sights

Dublin Castle

Arriving In Dublin

The first order of business once we arrived in Dublin after checking into the Trinity City Hotel was to grab a large Irish breakfast and wash it down with a few pints of Guinness at O’Neil’s Bar & Restaurant. At 10am of course. We were off to a good start.

Hey, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in Ireland?

We spent the rest of the day exploring Dublin by bus and on foot. Everyone was running on little sleep due to the intercontinental flight the night before, so our activities were kept to a minimum.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle was originally built as a defensive structure for the city of Dublin, later serving as residence for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland who governed for the King of England. These days it’s used for presidential inaugurations and state functions.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is Ireland’s largest church, founded back in 1191. Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) was once the dean, and is currently buried here. Dublin actually has two cathedrals belonging to the Church of Ireland, the other being Christ Church Cathedral.

Teeling Whiskey Distillery

Most people who visit Dublin go to the Jameson Distillery, which is just a showroom for tourists. The only working Irish Whiskey distillery in Dublin is called Teeling. We watched the whiskey process from start to finish and tasted the difference between single grain, single malt, and age.

Cashel Castle Ireland

Rock of Cashel

Colmans Cathedral

Port Town of Cobh

Irish Genealogy Road Trip

Now that we’d experienced a taste of Dublin, it was time to embark on the core mission of this trip. Searching for any information we could find about my grandmother’s life in Ireland before she sailed to Boston in 1930.

Prior to traveling to Ireland, my sister Lindsay had done some research on Ancestry.com which helped us track down basic United States immigration records for my grandmother.

To expand on those, we also enlisted the services of Eneclann, a genealogy research company. They provided a detailed report based on Irish census information with all kinds of interesting facts we’d never known before!

Like that we came from a family of fishermen and farmers.

Armed with this new knowledge we rented a car and began driving southwest across Ireland on the M8 through the town of Cashel and the city of Cork stopping at famous landmarks along the way.

One such landmark is the port town of Cobh, formerly Queenstown, where 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America left from. Including my grandmother in 1930!

Glengarriff

Glengarriff, Ireland

Carraig Dubh House

Paudie & Kathleen Connolly

Glengarriff Village

Arriving in Glengarriff after navigating some of Ireland’s notoriously narrow roads, we checked into a quaint local bed & breakfast called Carraig Dubh House perched on a hillside overlooking the town. It was here we met the cheery owners Paudie & Kathleen.

They would be the key to unlocking the mysteries of our quest.

We explained that we were in Glengarriff as part of a genealogy trip, and asked if they might remember my grandmother or her family. Of course they did! In a small town of 800 people, everyone knows everyone.

My aunt had given us an old postcard of Glengarriff from when she visited a while back. It was said to feature the McCarthy family home that my grandmother grew up in.

Glengarriff Ireland

Old Postcard of My Grandmother’s House

Ellen's Rock Glengarriff

We Found It!

Searching For The House

Our hosts took one look at the postcard and confirmed our suspicions. Yes that’s where she grew up, and it still exists! In fact it’s just down the road…

The traditional 3-room Irish home made of stone is located at a place called Ellen’s Rock, a famous spot for photos when Glengarriff was a popular tourist attraction and ocean cruise destination in the early part of the century.

We jumped in the car and headed over to see it for ourselves.

Sitting on the edge of Bantry Bay, the building has seen better days yet was still standing. Turns out it’s owned by my father’s cousin Teddy, a long-lost family member none of us had ever met before.

Our next mission? Track down Teddy and buy him a beer!

Everything seemed to be falling into place perfectly.

Ireland Family Trip

My Dad Meets His Cousin Teddy

Garnish Island Ireland

Garnish Island Gardens

Meeting With Relatives

Teddy keeps the McCarthy family tradition of fishing and sailing alive as a boat captain for the Harbour Queen Ferry. They take tourists out on fishing trips and ferry rides to the beautiful Garnish Island Gardens.

We went down to the docks, but unfortunately just missed him, so we decided to ride the ferry out to Garnish Island and explore the gardens. Motoring past happy seals sunbathing on rocks.

Concluding the island excursion, we surprised Teddy with an unexpected family visit. He seemed a bit taken aback, and not sure how to respond. Who are these strangers from the United States claiming to be relatives?

We made plans to meet later that evening at The Cottage Bar, a favorite local watering hole in town. Hopefully we would all get to know each other a bit better over a few pints of Guinness.

Glengarriff Church

Sacred Heart Church in Glengarriff

Glengarriff Cemetery

McCarthy Family Plot

Learning Family History

Teddy brought his wife Abigail to join us at the bar. Luckily she acted as a translator too, his thick Irish accent difficult for us Yankees to understand! We learned that Teddy likes to work on old boats, just as my father does.

My great grandfather Timothy was apparently a fisherman & boatman. He boasted the most groomed mustache in town, and was always seen wearing his favorite bright white pea cap.

My sister Lindsay apparently looks just like Teddy’s daughter Marie.

One mystery we never solved is why my grandmother sailed from Ireland to the United States on her own when she was only 17 years old. Everyone we spoke with seemed to remember her siblings, but almost nothing about her.

The town church and local cemetery was our next stop, paying respect at my great grandfather’s grave and chatting with the local priest. My grandmother’s birth was never registered in official county documents, but we did have her baptismal record from the church.

Father Michael Moynihan explained to us over coffee that this was common in those days, as many people from the countryside didn’t bother to travel to the city to register their children so soon after birth, and often forgot to later.

Sheep in Ireland

Irish Traffic Jam

Ireland Road Trip

Learning to Drive on the Right

Exploring Ireland

Towering Cliffs of Moher

Wild Atlantic Way

Overwhelmed with all that we had learned in just a few days, it was time to say our goodbyes and continue our Irish road trip up the West coast along the Wild Atlantic Way.

The complete route stretches 2,500km (1553 miles), however we were driving the southern section up through Dingle and on to Galway before heading back across the country to the capital. I’ll go into more detail in future posts, but the highlights for me were Slea Head Drive and the Cliffs of Moher.

Driving in Ireland can take some getting used to! The back roads are super narrow with no shoulder to pull off on, locals drive fast, curves are sharp, and sheep are plentiful.

But by the 3rd or 4th day I started to get the hang of it. A good trick is to buy the “learner” sticker sold at gas stations so locals don’t get pissed at your incompetence on their roads.

Overall I’d say our Irish genealogy road trip was a success. Together we teamed up to track down relatives, learn about our heritage, and experience a little Irish culture, food, drink, and hospitality.

Ireland’s coastal landscapes are breathtaking to see in person. It was a memorable journey, and I’m happy I experienced it with my family. ★

READ NEXT: Inspiring People I’ve Met Traveling

Have you ever been on a family genealogy trip before?

Fantasy Fest: Key West’s Crazy Street Festival

Fantasy Fest

Fantasy Fest in Key West

Key West, Florida

Want to learn about the best-kept secret for street celebrations in the United States? It’s a wild 10 day costume party in October called Fantasy Fest in Key West, Florida.

If I had to describe Fantasy Fest in one sentence, I’d say it’s Burning Man meets Mardi Gras for Halloween on a tropical island. Except in a place where you can also stay in a beautiful B&B surrounded by ancient banyan trees.

A place so diverse that gays, bikers, pirates, artists, strippers and entrepreneurs are the norm, living a motto “One Human Family.” A place where you can watch the sun both rise and set over the ocean every day.

After knowing about the festival for years living in South Florida, I finally made it down to see what all the hype was about with my blogger friend Steph from Travel-Break.net.

Our week was incredibly fun, absurd, and liberating all at once.

Fantasy Fest Pirate Bash

Shiver Me Timbers!

Fantasy Festival Key West

Super Heroes Showing Some Skin

The Conch Republic

Key West is America’s own little Caribbean island, known as the Conch Republic to locals who fancy themselves a separate country. The island is located at the southern tip of the beautiful Florida Keys.

With certain laws being a bit more lax (like allowing “open containers” on the street) and such a unique blend of people and styles, you actually do feel as though you’re in another land.

Spend an afternoon walking past Key West’s pastel colored homes or browsing some of its 50 art galleries while still never more than a dozen blocks from the sea in any direction.

The whole island’s 1 x 4 miles is navigable by quaint lanes bordered by tropical flora, feeling a bit like a secret garden which you can navigate by foot, bike or moped.

Fantasy Fest Toga Party

Steph is Attacked by Sexy Spartans

Fantasy Fest Parade

Fantasy Fest Parade

Fantasy Fest Vibe

This magical little island gets even wilder when it celebrates Halloween for 10 days at the end of October in an incredible wonderland known as Fantasy Fest… where almost anything goes.

Bring out any piece of your character (or a different one every night)!

During the festival venues host their own special events. These celebrations create an entire world within themselves, worlds that you are encouraged to join in! They pull together a combination of local cuisine, talented artists, and fundraising for various local charities.

This collaboration makes each event take on a life of its own, feeding everyone’s creative inner-child that you’ll leave the festival feeling closer to.

There are costume competitions, AIDS fundraisers, family-friendly parades, drag-queen contests, and more.

Pirate Party

Pirates

Alien Costume

Intergalactic Alien Invasion

Intergalactic Freak Show

The theme for 2015 was the All Hallows InterGalactic Freak Show, and it certainly lived up to its name. This small town welcomed 60,000 freaks, free spirits, and aliens from all over the country.

People spend months planning out their costumes (or lack thereof) for the multitude of themed parties that happen throughout the week. I got into the spirit of things by packing 3 different costumes myself — Greek God, Dirty Pirate, and Intergalactic Alien complete with full-body paint job.

One night Steph and I found ourselves at Irish Kevin’s annual Fantasy Fest 80’s party when who should crash the stage but Mr. Margaritaville himself!

Jimmy Buffett (ok, maybe not the real one) picked up a guitar and played along with the band for a few songs as the rest of us danced like no one was watching.

Just a typical evening at Fantasy Fest in Key West.

Exploring Ireland

Is that Jimmy Buffett?

Fantasy Fest Queen

King & Queen of Fantasy Fest 2015

Fantasy Fest Events

Some highlights of Fantasy Fest include The Coronation Ball where the Conch King and Conch Queen make an appearance. They win this royal title by having raised the greatest amount of funds for AIDS Help.

In 2007 they raised over $200,000 and since 1989 almost $2.6 million has been donated.

Goombay is a two day street party held in Key West’s Bahama Village neighborhood. It’s named after the goatskin drums that generate the party’s rhythms and celebrates the heritage of Key West’s large Bahamian population with food, art and a lot of dancing.

Other popular events include the Zombie Bike Ride, Pet Masquerade, Anything But Clothes Party, Rum Barrel Pirate Bash, Airbrush Expo, Sloppy Joe’s Toga Party, and much more.

You can find a full listing of events on the Fantasy Fest Website.

On the last day, the festival culminates with the Fantasy Fest Parade down the town’s main Duval Street spanning the 1 mile cross-stretch from the Atlantic to the Gulf shore.

Key West Parade

There’s No Place Like Home

Pirate Bash

Arrrrrgh! Rum Barrel Pirate Bash

Fantasy Fest Tips & Advice

While basically an extended adult costume party at the end of October, Fantasy Fest doesn’t always fall on Halloween itself. It did in 2015, but that’s not always the case.

There’s some nudity at Fantasy Fest, but that’s not all it’s about. You’ll find people of every race, age, body type, sexual-preference, and career here too. A celebration for judgement-free and open-minded people.

With only 75 taxi cabs and 60,000 people during the event, finding a taxi isn’t always easy. Renting a bike might be a good option for getting around, provided you don’t drink too much.

No Fantasy Fest experience is complete without some body paint. Airbrush artists from around the country set up shop to make your dreams reality. Prices range from $100 to $800+ depending on how intricate the work is.

Need a cure for your killer hangover the morning after? Grab a bite to eat at Blue Heaven or some strong cuban coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen.

Clown Costumes

Psychotic Clowns

Fantasy Fest Costumes

Don’t Mess With These Two…

Getting There

So how do you get to this crazy party called Fantasy Fest in Key West? Fall down a rabbit hole? Hope a tornado picks up your farmhouse in Kansas? Fortunately you can just drive 160 miles South from Miami on Highway US1.

The road trip to Key West from Miami is a beautiful drive over endless bridges across the Florida Keys islands, flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.

A quick 45 minute puddle jumper flight from Miami or Ft Lauderdale airport directly to the island is also possible.

Good Places To Stay

We stayed at the beautiful Casa Marina Resort on the edge of the water. But I’m a big fan of AirBnB too. If you haven’t yet, make sure to read my article about how to find cheap hotels.

So if you’re looking for a good party, and wild photos of crazy and scandalous costumes, you have to check out Fantasy Fest sometime. I hope I’ll see you there next year! ★

READ NEXT: Ultimate Key West Road Trip

Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail: PART 4

Arctic Circle Trail Hiking

Sisimiut, Greenland

Carefully trying to pick my way across a marsh, I sink into a deep pocket of mud up to my shins. This wet terrain is a regular hazard on the Arctic Circle Trail.

DAY 9: Innajuattoq to Nerumaq

Hiking Distance 18 km (11 miles) | 7 hours

The Greenlandic morning is dark & wet with heavy fog at 8am when I begin packing my gear for the next leg of the Arctic Circle Trail. Luckily most of the day will be hiking downhill out of the mountains.

Stuffing dry kindling from my failed fire attempt under a rock for the next hiker to use, I gradually make my way into a valley lined with small lakes and cotton grass blowing in the wind.

Eventually the fog clears and I spot reindeer grazing in the hills beside me. Then another arctic hare. There are so many wild animals roaming Greenland!

Nerumaq hut is not far away, and I stop to take a short nap due to lack of sleep the night before. Today will be a long day on the trail and I’ll need all the energy I can get.

Moving quite fast now, at this pace I should finish by tomorrow evening. My backpack is exponentially lighter having eaten most of the food I began with.

Arctic Circle Trail Landscape

Arctic Circle Trail Trees

Willow Tree Forest

The Arctic Circle Trail threads through a patch of dwarf willow trees, the tallest are only about 6 feet high. It’s the largest forest I’ve seen since arriving in Greenland last week. Trees don’t grow well in the arctic tundra.

More and more rivers snake their way down from the mountains across my path, some with small waterfalls. Most are easily crossed by rock-hopping.

The trail becomes wet & swampy again. The weather worsens.

In fact now it’s raining. I still haven’t found the next hut. Fog moves in and the sky darkens. While I’d love a dry place to sleep tonight, it looks like I’ll have to pitch camp in the rain.

I curl into my sleeping bag and snack on dried fish — washing it down with the last of my potent Greenlandic schnapps in an attempt to stay warm.

Arctic Circle Trail Hike

Arctic Circle Trail Cabin

Arctic Circle Trail Sled

DAY 10: Kangerluarsuk Tulleq to Sisimiut

Hiking Distance 22 km (14 miles) | 8 hours

The next morning I prepare for what will hopefully be the final day of trekking. Right away my feet are sucked deep into bog mud, up to my shins. Not a good way to start!

Climbing a hill I soon discover the Tulleq hut I’d been searching for the night before. Ahhhhh! Only 10 more minutes and I would have enjoyed a solid roof over my head.

The trail rises back into the mountains through a high rocky valley, with views of snow covered peaks on either side. I find the remains of dog sledding equipment scattered about.

Hiking through boulder fields alongside a small river, crossing it a few times before coming to a wide open valley called Nasaasaaq. Jagged mountains can been seen in the distance.

Nasaasaaq Arctic Circle Trail

Arctic Circle Trail Musk Ox

Musk Ox Surprise

Trekking down into this beautiful valley, I spy something large, shaggy, and brown moving across the trail. It’s a musk ox!

The musk ox is Greenland’s largest land mammal weighing up to 400 kilos (880 lbs). These huge shaggy creatures are related to goats, but look more like buffalo to me.

I watched a group of them from a distance earlier that week, but this bull was only 50 yards away — blocking the path ahead. The Greenlandic name for them, Umimmak, means “the long-bearded one”.

Musk oxen are an important source of meat and wool for native Greenlanders. You have to be careful not to get too close or they can charge.

Eventually this one smelled me & ran up a mountain. I don’t blame it.

After passing an out-of-place ski lift, I round a corner to find the Arctic Ocean. Perched on the edge is the colorful fishing town of Sisimiut.

Sisimiut Sled Dogs

Sisimiut Greenland

Fishing Boats

Fishing Town Of Sisimiut

Success! I made it! I hike into town past hundreds of barking sled dogs feeling on top of the world. My feet ache. My body is exhausted. Yet I can’t stop smiling.

Trekking for 10 days across the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland’s wilderness was a rewarding adventure travel experience.

I’d lived off the land eating berries & mushrooms, saw all kinds of cool wildlife, camped under the stars, and spent time alone with my thoughts surrounded by nature. It was my personal version of into the wild.

To celebrate the end of my long journey I checked into a fancy hotel, boots still caked in mud. Jumping into a hot shower for 20 minutes with a cold beer. Followed by a delicious musk ox steak dinner with Greenlandic coffee.

Damn it felt good to be back in civilization!

The next 4 days were spent walking around Sisimiut, hanging out with other hikers & a group of theater actors from Norway & Denmark. We danced to Greenlandic hip hop & learned about Inuit culture.

Hiking the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland and reconnecting with nature in the wilderness has been the highlight of my travel year so far. ★

Watch Video: Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail

(Click to watch Hiking the Arctic Circle Trail – Greenland on YouTube)

READ NEXT: Complete Travel Gear Guide

Have you ever wanted to travel to Greenland?