Migrating website to new domain “TheAdventureBorn.com”

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I haven’t posted a new blog entry in a few days because I have been migrating this site “adventureborn.net” to a new self-hosted one called “theadventureborn.com”!

Now I have a lot more control of the layout and design and a lot more access to all sorts of features including a more reliable way of giving new informative content in addition to a new free E-book I am working on for all of my subscribers.

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3 Secrets To How I Traveled Australia on The Cheap

backpack australia cheap


For secrets on how I traveled Western Europe on the cheap, click here.

How was I able to visit Australia with very little planning and for relatively cheap?

I recently spent almost two months backpacking around Australia. I began in Brisbane on the East coast and ended in Perth on the West coast. In addition to those two cities, I visited areas surrounding Sydney, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Rottnest Island, and even Tasmania.

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I visited the landmark Sydney Opera House, swam in tons of beaches, played with (and ate) kangaroos, visited the Blue Mountains, road-tripped along the Great Ocean Road, took selfies with smiling quokkas and so much more. Everything was on the whim and I didn’t spend nearly as much as one would think…

I had a tried and true formula for visiting an expensive country/continent like Australia.

The first secret to this strategy was to make a ton of Australian friends beforehand.

I’ll explain.

Like Western Europe, Australia was never on my radar of places to visit quite yet during my past ventures around the world. As I was backpacking much cheaper parts of the world like Southeast Asia and Central America, I naturally met other Australian backpackers in hostels or Australian volunteers in my placements. Fortunately for me (an American), Australians love to travel outside of their country. You can find them just about anywhere in the world.

These guys were great fun! I kept in touch with many of them over the years via social media, specifically Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I began to realize how many Aussie buddies I had and planned on a future trip to travel around Australia, visiting many of them in the process. When I announced to them that I was visiting their country, they were psyched for me to come and even offered me to come stay with them for awhile.

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I think it’s a thing where you are much more excited about people you met while traveling to come and visit because of the unique experience you shared in whatever random country you both were in.

I naturally made so many Aussie friends and luckily for me they were scattered all throughout the country and in the big major cities: Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and everywhere in between. I even had a couple friends who invited me down to Tasmania, which was a quick and easy return flight from Melbourne.

Basically, I just had to figure out who lived where and when they were free. I gave them all a little heads up as to when I’d be near their home turf and many of them accommodated or met up with me perfectly and happily.

On this trip to Australia, I stayed with nine of my Aussie buddies, a free Airbnb, and three hostels.

I explain how I scored the free Airbnb here.

I could have gone through all of Australia without staying in a single hostel if I chose to, but there were times I wanted to explore on my own and meet new people while I was there. The first hostel was in Sydney. I wanted to meet up with other backpackers I met from Fiji who were staying in hostels. The second was an over-night hostel on the Gold Coast before I met up with two other friends the next day. The third hostel was in Melbourne and that was to see the city more. I had a friend who lived about 30-minutes outside of the city who said I could stay with him for as long as I wanted, but I have an unwritten rule for myself that I won’t stay with anyone for longer than a week. However, I broke that rule a few times on other trips much to their persistence. 🙂

How did I get around these places?

Flights, trains, public buses, boats, and rental cars. Flights between the major cities were relatively cheap and there were lots of deals going on. The most expensive flight was from Melbourne to Perth, flying from the East coast to the West coast. Australia is super easy to get around in.

I made a slight hiccup when reloading my public transportation card in Melbourne which I highlighted here. Learn from my mistakes!

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The second secret to this strategy was having plenty of disposable time.

How much time you have is essential for every trip. Even with all the time in the world, I knew I wouldn’t be able to see all of Australia in one go.

This is important. Try not to see too much in one trip. It’s impossible.

This is the one major mistake many newbie travelers make. Australia is huge as heck. You’ll be tempted to try and do everything, which equates to more traveling and more money spent. Try to be realistic.

Knowing that my friends were taking me in and showing me around, I planned to have plenty of time as to give them the freedom to plan for me accordingly. They were doing me a favor by hosting me; the least I could do was adjust my trip to their schedules. Most of them took off from work for my visit, which was awesome.

I never felt like I was rushing while traveling through the continent. I took my time and did whatever I wanted because of all the time I had to spare.

Time is key for any trip!

However. While I was in Australia, I discovered another key strategy that other backpackers, specifically from Europe, used–backpacking Australia while on a working holiday.

The third secret to this strategy was to apply for a working holiday visa.

I didn’t use this secret, as I discovered it while I was backpacking in Australia.

At the three hostels I stayed in, I met backpackers from Europe who were all in Australia on a working holiday.

What is a working holiday?

A working holiday is where a foreign citizen is granted a temporary visa for up to two years to work and live in Australia. Countries part of the Commonwealth are granted a two-year working holiday visa while others such as the USA are only granted a one-year working holiday visa. Although, to extend into that second year you must have proof that you’ve done some inland farm/regional work while in Australia for a minimum of about three months.

Also, you must be between the ages of 18 and 31 to apply for one of these bad boys.

(There is a legislation that has been passed that may increase the capped age at 35, but it’s been repealed. Who knows if things will change. Hopefully, it will!)

A proof of funds (I believe around $5,000 AUD or equivalent) is also required but this on a case by case basis.

Find out how to apply online here.

Many backpackers I met had a job and found them quite easily. One guy even got an easy interview at the Sydney Opera House as a dishwasher! Many became bartenders and others became construction workers or worked in hostels. They worked and saved up money for a few months while living in hostels or in a shared apartment and then traveled around Australia with the money they saved up.

If you are within the age limit and wanna try something new for a while, I highly recommend this strategy if you don’t have the time to go around the world making Aussie friends.

Other secrets and strategies to travel around Australia on the cheap?

Yes, I have the answers.

You can also try volunteering in Australia which can usually be free or for a minimal cost. The best way to go about this is by using Workaway or WOOFing (Working Weekends on Organic Farms). I highly recommend you try out Workaway as there is a variety of different jobs (teaching, gardening, babysitting, construction, hostel, etc) in exchange for housing and meals. This is a great way to meet locals as well.

I didn’t use Workaway while in Australia, but I did use it in Mozambique and I had a fantastic experience. I spent a month there and didn’t spend a dime. Just some money for a sim card and data.

If you don’t want to work and just travel cheaply, you could always try Couchsurfing, a friendly online community where gracious locals offer their living space to travelers for free. No strings attached.

Like I mentioned earlier, I used my points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card to rent a car and to use on some domestic flights. I also used this card for purchases, as there are no foreign transaction fees with this specific card. If you don’t already have a credit card with travel perks and is foreign transaction-free, then I would suggest applying for one.

For ATM’s I use my Fidelity debit card which only takes 1% of the fee and rebates you all the transaction fees back into your account at the end of every month. There is also Charles Schwabb Online banking that rebates all of your transaction fees.

How much did I spend in Australia?

Know that Sydney is one of the most expensive countries in the world and most of Australia has prices similar to other Western countries such as the USA. I spent most of my money on flights. I used my travel credit card points to rent a car for the weekend and for some of the domestic flights.

Nights out were the second biggest expense. Booze is truly a wallet drainer during travel and it ain’t cheap in the land down under.

I spent a total of approximately $1,700 USD in two months.

Sydney got me the most when I stayed in the hostel and ate out. But I also did everything I wanted to do with no worries of breaking the budget.

To sum it all up!

Get your feet wet and travel around much cheaper places first like Southeast Asia and Central America (they are stupid cheap), gain some useful travel experience, make some awesome friends (I guarantee you’ll meet a ton of Aussie travelers), create the time, don’t try to see the whole country at once and bada bing bada boom, your Australian adventure has suddenly become that much more of a reality, as opposed to some unreachable dream! Also, consider a holiday working visa to make some quick travel cash or volunteer for free if you really want to save some dough. 🙂

backpack australia cheap koala

-Any questions or comments? I encourage you to ask this koala or more conveniently, me.- 🙂

-Daniel “Adventure” Born-


For more posts like these and everything related to ADVENTURE TRAVEL, please subscribe by clicking the Follow button on this page and also follow along on Instagram and Facebook! I’d love to hear from you! 

What Teaching English Around The World Does For Your Soul

I became an English teacher by mistake.

I initially signed on to volunteer training young students how to use a computer in a South African township, but once I arrived I found that the computer training program did not exist. Instead, my volunteer coordinators made me put me into a grade one class along with two other volunteers. “Their teacher is absent,” they said. “We need you to teach these kids.”

It was more like a Royal Rumble match than an actual classroom. I was no teacher. I was stuck in that class for weeks.

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Ok. That was South Africa. Those kids were horrible. Though I did learn that this school among so many other schools in Africa were in desperate need of capable English speakers to help teach their students.

So, I decided to give it another shot, but this time by volunteering in Tanzania at a much smaller local school. It was a little better. I assisted the main teacher for five weeks with her small primary kids. They weren’t as crazy as my previous surprise experience.

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With that bit of confidence, I returned to South Africa a month later to try teaching again. This time, I fared a tiny bit better.

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I volunteered three more times afterward teaching English as a second language in Vietnam, Nepal, and Guatemala before I eventually decided to get certified. I took a master course and received my certification to teach English as a second language. This would be a supplement to my travels. Instead of volunteer teaching all the time, I could get paid to do it!

Vietnam is when I really started to enjoy teaching. I bonded well with the students at the Hospitality College I was assigned to and they took a liking to me. The amount of effort was felt in the rewards.

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Nepal was another challenge I was ready to take on, but I felt even more inspired here because of how primitive the setting was. I was placed in the middle of nowhere, explaining the English language to several different classes. Even delving into other subjects such as Geography, Social Studies, and Physical Education at the request of the school’s principal.

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Guatemala was interesting, as I felt like a teacher and a student. The kiddos there at the after-school program I was placed in had an amusing time teaching me Spanish as much I simultaneously taught them English. Here, I created a few new English learning games, which the kids loved to play. One important lesson I began to realize: all the kids I’ve taught around the world thus far, no matter their differences, are all for one the same.

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With each country, I gained a whole lot of valuable experience and knowledge and became more at ease with adapting to the different cultures and traditions of the respective schools.

The reception I get from many of the students, age ranging from six years old to young adults in their twenties have been mostly positive. There is something quite warming and fulfilling knowing these students are benefiting from having me around and that they respond to me so well. I was completely devoted. Little did they know, they were helping me as much as I was helping them. Besides all the adventure stuff I love doing while traveling, I now had a cardinal, more fruitful purpose to my worldwide escapades.

How did I volunteer to teach English?

There are plenty of volunteering organizations around the world that have opportunities to teach English as a second language, however my usual and most trusted go-to source is through an organization called International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ). I’ve used them eight times (not all teaching English though) and have never had a single bad experience with them.

Another viable option is through Workaway which is much more affordable, but less of a hand-holding organization. Besides the $30 annual fee, Workaway is usually mostly free. I recently went through Workaway to do some private homeschooling in Mozambique where I taught Social Studies and Photography. Loved that too!

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What did I need to begin teaching English in the first place?

Well, speaking fluent English for starters.

Secondly, a clean background history. As in no criminal record which you must prove to the organizations with background checks. Those two things are all I really needed to volunteer.

For landing a paid job teaching, all I needed were those two requirements in addition to a TEFL certification. And in some countries, a bachelor’s degree as well. I have an Associate’s in Graphic Design and a BS in Comm Tech…nothing to do with education.

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How did I receive my TEFL certification?

Once I realized that having a certification could enhance my travels, I went through the process of earning one myself.

Any clean English speaker can earn their certification through on-site training in many different countries or through an intensive online learning course. I went through an online master course which cost me around $30 USD using Groupon. In a few months, I received a certificate in the mail. It took me about two months to complete.

The two major differences between on-site and online I found are the hands-on training versus learning at home and secondly, most on-site programs will always help you get a job whereas you are mostly on your own for the online courses, though this is not always the case. It depends on who you go through.

Some places offer you free accommodation and meals in lieu of actual pay, which may also be fine depending on what you are looking for.

Over the past few years, I’ve collected a bevy of learning games and techniques to unleash upon my classes along with tricks of the trade when it comes to keeping the students engaged in learning. They’ll only be as interested as you are, and with the time I’ve invested into each classroom, it shows in the positive reception I receive from the students and other teachers alike.

I became a mentor and coach to those kids and still chat with many of them over the internet to this day! I encouraged them to message me, that way they can practice having conversations in English as I casually correct their mistakes while I’m away.

I’ve created a parallel universe outside of my typical life back home. A universe full of eager foreign students who wish to learn the English language and better their lives. Being one of their many guiding lights is pure satisfaction for my soul.

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If anyone is interested in teaching English abroad and wondering how to get started or have any questions or comments, shoot me a message! I’d love to chat. :)

How a Video Game Inspired Me To Visit a Certain Country

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Many of you already know that I have a pretty deep fondness for Nepal. But what most of you don’t know is how and why I chose to visit there in the first place.

Well, the answer is kinda amusing.

You ever heard of this video game?

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It’s called Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a universally praised title developed by Naughty Dog that originally released for the PlayStation 3 system in 2009.

If you aren’t familiar, it’s about a world explorer (like me!) named Nathan Drake who gets caught up in an Indiana Jones-style adventure across the world, trying to obtain a lost treasure before a group of international baddies get their grubby hands on it. Of course, this game is right up my alley, so I had to play it. It also doesn’t hurt that it is one of the best-reviewed video games in history. Play it if you haven’t!

Anyway.

One of the game’s chapters led me (Nathan Drake) into a fictionalized, battle-bruised version of Kathmandu, Nepal. I’ve heard of Kathmandu before, but I knew absolutely nothing about it. But I have to hand it to the game designers, they made Kathmandu feel engrossing (even with all the rubble) and after playing through the chapter, it sparked an interest in actually going there.

I googled Kathmandu and did an image search and was happy to find that the developers of the game were faithful in recreating Nepal as accurate as possible: the colorful prayer flags strung across the old, almost crumbled brick buildings, the temples, the lighting, the snow-capped mountains in the backdrop. Everything was just like I’ve seen from the images.

This is what part of Kathmandu looks like today…

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…before Naughty Dog created a fictionalized battle-beaten version.

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That yellow taxi even looks like the ones I caught while I was there!

Suddenly, Nepal skyrocketed to the top of my list of countries I must explore.

I made the decision then and there. I had to go.

About a year or so later, I booked a flight to Nepal and worked with an organization in Kathmandu to volunteer at a school in Pokhara. And from there, the rest is history. It sounds a bit farcical and cliche to say this, but it changed my life forever. For the better.

It’s crazy to think that if I’ve never played that game, then I probably would never have gone to Nepal. At least not so suddenly. It was never really on my radar until the moment I blew up bad guys with a grenade launcher in the middle of Kathmandu.

Thank you, Naughty Dog.

P.S – There are two amazing sequels that have also been critically praised. I have yet to play the fourth but will do so whenever I find the time.

Has anything unorthodox ever inspired you to visit a specific place? Please let me know! 🙂

How to Find the Secret Hidden Crystal Pools in South Africa

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A backpacker I met in Cape Town filled me in on a neat secret…

Apparently, just outside of the city there is an area in Gordon’s Bay called the Steenbras River Gorge — a remarkably private reserve where only a limited number of people are allowed entry into every day. There, those people have access to a hike leading to five refreshingly natural pools alongside a mountainous, yet precarious trail also inhabited by naughty baboons.

Each pool you come across gets bigger and more extravagant than the last. They are called the Crystal Pools and it’s hidden somewhere in the Steenbras River Gorge. The pools are so crisp and clean, that they are perfect for taking a dip on a hot South African day.

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Of all my years visiting South Africa, I never knew such a place existed!

Jesse, the backpacker who told me about this, his travel buddy Trevor, and I made it our mission to track down these pools. It definitely wasn’t the easiest thing. A pain in the ass actually. Much of the information we found online was inaccurate and outdated.

As a convenience, I’m here to help any of you to avoid the hassle if you find yourself interested in the Crystal Pools.

The Important Stuff

First, know this. The trek to the pools is a bit lengthy, not so straight-forward, and home to thieving wild baboons. Lots of them. But the rewards are worth the task.

So if you are up for the challenge, then this is how you should proceed:

Access to the Crystal Pools Hiking Trail is only possible from the months of November to April. The rest of the months are cold and rainy.

The only way to enter the reserve is to receive a permit via email reservation. There is absolutely no other way to get around this. Trust me, I’ve tried.

What you have to do is send an email to this address: steenbras.naturereserve@capetown.gov.za

In that email, you must state your name, your group size, contact number, and the date you wish to visit.

Depending on holidays and weekends, you should receive a reply from the Steenbras Nature Reserve office within a few days either granting you permission or stating that you need to reschedule another day because it’s already booked.

Try to book as far in advance as possible to ensure your reservation.

If your desired date is available, they will send you an email with rather complex instructions on how to pay for the minimal entrance fee of R65 (price as of Dec 2017).

Basically, to process an electronic payment:

Include the City of Cape Town Municipality as a beneficiary on your transfer and
include this number as the special reference number: 19210834.

The annoying thing about this is that the only way to pay is through a bank transfer or wire. As of this post, there is absolutely no other way. (I’ve tried that too.) You can do this from home at your bank or from an ABSA bank while in South Africa.

After wiring the money to their office, you must prove you did so by emailing them a copy of the proof of purchase or receipt. Once you do that, you should receive a confirmation PDF in a couple of days that you must print out, which is your permit to access the reserve.

You must wire the payment no longer than 48 hours before your visit, as it needs time to process.

(When I did this process, the office didn’t respond to me for over a week! Once they did, they claimed it was because of a power outage along with the bad news that the date I wanted was fully booked.  Later, however, when Jesse tried to reserve for that same date, they granted him permission. I have no idea why they said “no” to me and “yes” to him. Possibly other reservations were canceled or they are just as unorganized as the whole process to access the reserve.)

Whew! All this work just to get into a reserve! Now to the fun stuff!

The location of the Steenbras Nature Reserve appears on Google Maps. You may drive yourself there (there is parking available along the highway further along the R44, just past the bridge and on the right-hand side).

Or just take a taxi or a cheap Uber, like we did. Just remember, if you plan on leaving, make sure you have data service to hire another Uber or it’s quite a walk to find any sort of taxi.

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The red star indicates where the entrance to the reserve is.

The entrance to the reserve is on the end of this bridge.

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And it looks like this.

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Present your permit and then you’re free to go!

Now, remember those naughty, thieving baboons I mentioned earlier?

They are lunatics.

You’ll see warnings about them, reminding you to mind your belongings, and if they try to take anything from you, specifically food, just let them have it. They can become temperamental if engaged. They aren’t everywhere, but you are bound to see some prodding in the distance.

Speaking of food, be sure to pack a lunch and bring plenty of water (no alcohol is allowed in the premises). Any rubbish or trash you have must be brought back with you. There aren’t any trash containers along the trail. One of the reasons a limited number of people are allowed each day is to help preserve the natural area. So please be mindful and respectful.

Onward to the trail!

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

crystal pools steenbras south africa

The trek begins fairly straightforward–just follow the yellow shoe prints you will see along the way. Eventually, after about 45 minutes to an hour, you’ll reach the first pool.

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The reflection from the pool’s surface.

If you want an easy day, then feel free to stop and take a dip here. If you want an adventure, then skip this one and press on. The pools get better the further you go.

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

After trekking for an hour or two later among boulders and puzzling pathways, we finally made it to the fifth pool, saving the other pools for the way back. We actually discovered a sixth pool, but it was way beyond our reach and didn’t look as inviting.

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

We did get to play there for a while, until a troop of baboons kinda kicked us out. One of them chased us back onto the path! Thankfully we already ate our lunch.
No worries. We still had the other pools to swim in.
On our way back, we got a little lost and took an alternate, slightly more dangerous route to get back on the path we took before. Suddenly, we heard a harrowing scream. It turned out to be a group of trekkers who were raided by a group of baboons while they took a swim in pool #4. Possibly the same troop who chased us out of pool #5? Maybe, but the boys and I got the heck outta there and decided to go to pool #3.
No baboons. The coast was clear.

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crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

The water? Cold, but revitalizing under the sun. It was dark and almost a copper color that created a mystifying effect under the water.

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

At the end of this particular pool was a series of small cascading waterfalls that you could climb all over and bask in. This place was so unreal!

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You’ll notice that there are many places to cliff jump, some as high as 22 meters! It seems perfectly fine to jump from them, all in differentiating heights. So pick your poison! Just know that though these pools are clear, they are a deep black so there’s no telling what’s at the bottom. Feel around for boulders and protruding objects before you make the heroic leap!

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

crystal pools south africa steenbras nature reserve

The hiking trail to Crystal Pools was an all day thing for us. We arrived there around 9am and left around 6pm. It was terribly easy to get lost, so we made sure to have plenty of time to leave before the sunset.

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The Crystal Pools did not disappoint!

If you have the time in Cape Town, I highly recommend you check out these pristine pools. It’s been rated as one of the best treks to do near Cape Town and for good reason! There weren’t many people around and it’s the perfect way to spend a sunny day in the Western Cape with you and your friends.

If you have any questions about the Crystal Pools, please feel free to ask me! I’ll probably be able to respond quicker than those sloths in the Steenbras offices.


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How to Adventure the World – Travel Advice – Global Inspiration

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