Travel is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and this year pushed us to a new level. We traveled to 13 countries, saw wonders of the world, and reached over 1M views on our YouTube channel. It's truly astounding that we can share our travels with millions of people around the globe - thank you for joining the adventure!
It's the end of 2018, so time to reflect on this jam-packed year of travel. Here's what we learned during our adventures this year:
1. January - Mexico - Yucatan y Tulum
We spent New Year's in Mexico again - this time to see the Wonder of the World: Chichen Itza. There's no better way to spend New Years Day than by swimming in Mexico's warm Caribbean waters and visiting Mayan archeological ruins. We return to this country more than any other country because of its endlessly inspiring regional cultures, cuisine, and archeology.
2. February - Ireland and Northern Ireland
We crossed the invisible border between the UK and Ireland to visit a once foreboding capital city of Belfast. Here, we learned about how a city known for its religious conflict is moving on from its past to a bright future.
Two hours away is Dublin, where we spent the the rest of our trip. In fact, our Dublin vlog ended up being our most popular video of the year on YouTube!
3. March - Greece - Athens / Paros / Hydra / Delphi / Olympia
We visited one of the oldest cities in the world and Cradle of Western Civilization: Athens, Greece. Many of the pillars of modern society like democracy, philosophy, and the Olympic sports all began here. It truly changes your perspective of time when you view sites from 2,400 years ago that are still standing. Coming from California where the oldest standing buildings are from the late 1700s, seeing these ancient cites were especially mind blowing.
4. April - Spain (Barcelona / Ibiza / Formentera)
This was the most surprising travel destination of them all - Ibiza. It's portrayed in the media as Europe's party island, but in April - the island is chill, magical, and free. Here, we competed in our first international race: the Ibiza half marathon and 12K.
Next, I returned to Barcelona after a whopping 15 years. My first trip was so brief (half a day), that I knew I had to return and spend more time here. What made this trip special was that it was my first official solo international trip. I relied on my Spanish for a week and found the city to be a blast of a travel partner.
5. May - Canada (Vancouver / Victoria), Colombia (Cartagena / Bogota)
On our second trip to South America, we visited the vibrant country of Colombia. For much of the 80s and 90s, Colombia was a challenging country to travel due to the drug cartels, and now it's undergoing a chapter of peace and rebirth of tourism. What surprised us most is that the people here are joyous, full of warmth, and don't let their past get in the way of their present day happiness.
Welcome to Angkor Wat! In this travel vlog, we take a guided weekend trip to the ancient temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and photograph the temple. Like most magnificent sights, we were not the only ones there. In fact, crowds can reach the thousands. So be sure to come prepared. Here is how to photograph the temple like a pro during a weekend trip.
Behind the scenes video:
When to go:
September or March, which are the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. At this time, the sun lines up directly above the central pinnacle of Angkor Wat, a estimate to the genius architecture.
First, we get up at 4:45 am to buy our ticket to the temple, which is $36 for a one day pass and $62 for a three day pass. At 5 am, we reach the temple. You can get to the temple via tuk tuk, taxi, or bike.
Here is the scene when we arrived:
Camera Set Up:
First, make sure your DSLR lens does not fog from the humidity. It took me about 15 minutes for the humidity on my lens to dissipate. I set up my tripod and filmed a time-lapse photo of the glorious sunrise. Be sure to get in the front row for optimal viewing.
Where to set up your camera:
Set your camera up on the west or north sides of the temple next to the outer moat (see pin drops below). You can also cross the moat and set up next to the "Libraries" where you will find an interior reflective pool. This area is much more crowded, so be sure to get there early.
View from the West side of the outer moat. The temple looks more distant, but I got an unobstructed view with no people or scaffolding in the shot.
View from the interior pool near the "Libraries". The temple is closer in view and the colors change every few minutes.
Here is what to bring:
One of the questions people always ask me is: Do you have Global Entry? Why don't you get it?
It is no secret that having Global Entry is one of the keys to traveling like a boss. It allows for expedited customs lines and comes with pre-TSA which enables travelers to get through security lines without taking off shoes or removing laptops or liquids from your baggage. In short, it takes the hassle out of travel.
Well, I am pleased to say that after years of going without Global Entry, I finally made the plunge and applied. After considering the amount of times I travel abroad and the long customs lines I have endured, I decided it was worth it to get Global Entry. Here's everything you need to know about how to travel in and out of the USA like a boss.
First, you apply via the website where you enter all of your background information including your employment history. If you have any time not accounted for under an employer, you must list that time as well (such as self-employment, or freelance). The application costs $100.
Now it's time to wait. It takes a few days/weeks to get the approval for your application. Once approved, you can book your time-slot for an interview at the international airports listed on the site.
3. Interview Set Up
There were interview time-slots available at Long Beach, LAX, and San Diego - however it took me four months (yes! four months) to find a suitable time-slot after work. There were weekend times, but they filled up fast. So in conclusion- if you are going on a trip in the future and want Global Entry, get started on your application now.
I scheduled an interview at LAX for 7:30pm. The hardest part was enduring the traffic to get to the interview. Once I got to LAX, I walked over to the Customs Office located in Tom Bradley International terminal, where the interview takes place. Then the customs officials ask you a few simple questions, verify your identity, and take finger prints. They even took me into the interview sooner since I got to the airport earlier than planned. Then, boom - done.
After the interview, they provide you with a Global Entry number which can be used immediately to get you through customs and security lines faster. In a week, the official card came in the mail, which is all you need to show the customs and TSA agents while traveling.
Conclusion: The Global Entry process was a breeze, it just takes time.
So you might be asking... Is Global Entry for me? Consider these questions:
- Do you travel outside of the US frequently? If you do, Global Entry is a no brainer.
- Do you travel within the US frequently? You can apply for pre-TSA program which is a bit cheaper and helps to expedite the security lines only.
- Do your travel partners have Global Entry? This was the biggest consideration for me. I travel with fellow Global Entry members and frequently got held behind in the line since I didn't have Global Entry. If your travel partners do not have Global Entry, they will need to apply separately.
- Do you have to get back to work/school/connect to other flights etc immediately after you land? If you have to run right after your flight lands, you may not want to jeopardize additional hours waiting in line. As mentioned in my previous post, getting through the airport fast can enable you to see more on your trips.
- Do you travel with laptops and other items that cause delays? If so, check out Global Entry or pre-TSA.
- Do you travel mostly for business? If you do, you can potentially have your employer cover the cost or deduct the cost from taxes. Check with your tax professional and employer.
If you have any questions about this program or the process, comment below!
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.