The Tools and Services I use to Operate my Travel Blog

Tools Services to run a Travel Blog

As I mentioned in my 12th-anniversary post last week, there have been a lot of changes to travel blogging in the last decade. In that article, I focused mainly on the cultural and business aspects of running a travel blog. As with the business side of things, there have been huge changes on the technical side as well. In this post, I’m going to go through the technical side of how I operate my website.

Web Hosting

When I first started my website, I was hosting on a server that was run by “a guy” that I met online. He had been hosting my personal website, and his server was good enough for what I was doing at the time. Eventually, I was getting hit with StumbleUpon requests that were literally (ok, not quite literally) melting his server. The processor was overheating and I was ruining it for the rest of his customers.

I had to move, so I moved to a big company. It was better in some respects, but there was little service and I had to manage everything on my own. WordPress hosting was just one thing they did out of many.
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What is a Visa Run?

This article is part of a series which attempts to answer basic questions people may have about travel. If you have a question you’d like to see answered, please send me an email with your question.

A visa run is a short trip over an international border designed to reset the visa in the originating country of the trip.

Many countries which have visa-free travel or grant visas on arrival have a set amount of time that you can be in the country. A classic example is Thailand who allows passport holders of many countries a 30-day stay in Thailand without a visa. If you fly out of the country and get an exit stamp in your passport, you can reenter the country to reset the clock and get another 30-days.

In 2010 I was staying in Bangkok for several months and I did a visa run to Singapore. I found a $100 ticket on a discount airline and flew to Singapore for the day. I didn’t even leave the airport in Singapore. I got back on a plan immediately and returned to Thailand for another 30-days.

There are rules you need to research before you try doing a visa run because not all border crossings are the same. In the past, Thailand has given different length visas based on how you entered the country (land vs air). You could have flown into Thailand, but if you left over a land border and crossed back, you might have only gotten 14-days on your return. Make sure you do research on the current rules before you do a visa run.

Many countries do not allow for visa runs at all. If you enter the United States as a visitor, going to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean does NOT reset your visa. This is done specifically to prevent people from doing visa runs. If they allowed visa runs, someone in Detroit or San Diego could stay in the country indefinitely by just doing short hops over the border. Even if you were to fly to Europe and back, if it seems obvious you are just trying to reset your visa, you might be denied entry.

Other places like the Schengen Zone in Europe, have a total amount of time you can be in the zone over a set period. In the case of the Schengen Zone, you can 90-days out of any six month period. Going back and forth over borders doesn’t reset anything. It just pauses the clock on your 90-days. If you used up your 90-days, you’d have to leave the Schengen Zone for 90-days before you could come back.

3 Quick Tips for Visa Runs

Before you try and do a visa run, do the following:

  1. Check the rules for the country who’s visa you are trying to reset.
  2. Do research on other travelers who have done similar visa runs recently.
  3. Research on what the cheapest method of doing a visa run. There might be cheap flights available, or it might mean getting on a bus.
  4. Investigate to see if you can renew your visa inside the country. This might end up being the easiest solution of all, which would negate the need for even doing a visa run.

19 Interesting Facts About World Heritage Sites

I have been visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites since I began traveling full time in 2007. Since then I have visited over 375 sites around the world and have photographed all of them.

There are no typical world heritage sites. They come in all shapes and sizes, from a few square meters to sites larger than most countries. Some are ancient ruins while others are living, functioning cities.

I’ve compiled 27 interesting facts about world heritage sites which I hope you find interesting, and provide some illumination into the greatest places our world has to offer!

1) There are currently 1,092 world heritage sites. They are divided between 845 cultural, 209 natural, and 38 mixed sites.

2) The country with the most world heritage sites is Italy with 54.

3) There are 32 countries with at least 10 world heritage sites, 13 countries with at least 20 sites, 8 with at least 30 sites, and 5 with 40 or more.
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12 Years of Travel Blogging: A Look Back and A Look Ahead

12 Years of Travel Blogging

October 14 marks the 12th anniversary of my very first blog post on this website. I mark this date as the start of my travel blog.

My first post came almost a year and a half after registering the domain name for the website and 5 months before I actually turned over the keys to my house to begin traveling.

The last dozen years have seen a lot of change in the world of travel blogging. It has gone from a 100% amateur activity done for the love of traveling and sharing stories, to a highly professional activity complete with conferences, professional organizations, and support organizations.

The changes in travel blogging since 2006 have been incredible and I think the changes over the next 12 years will be even greater. In this article, I’m going to reflect back on where travel blogging has been and what the future holds for this still, relatively new, medium.
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13 Facts About Peru You Should Know Before You Go

Think about Peru and your mind will no doubt conjure up images of Machu Picchu and llamas. But, there is a whole lot more to this South American gem than those hilltop ruins and weird looking creatures.

It might sound cliché but Peru really does have everything. It has misty mountains, dusted with snow; surf towns with glittering beaches; and, of course, the dense vegetation of the Amazon Rainforest. Peru even has a desert with toppling sand dunes and an oasis.

No matter what kind of landscape you are after, you will find it in Peru. This is why it is rapidly becoming a global favorite with intrepid travelers. You can certainly tick a lot off your bucket list while you’re here.

Peru is easy to travel. There is a good infrastructure in place for backpackers, high-end travelers, and everything else in between. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some solid preparation before you go. The following facts about Peru will help you get an idea of what to expect before you set off on your travels.
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4 Misconceptions People Have About Travel Photography

I’ve had many discussions about photography with average people who might own nothing but a smartphone camera. Time and time again I’ve seen the same misunderstandings pop up. Many of them I totally understand as I believed the same things when I started out as a photographer. However, I think it is important to dispel many of these myths as it affects everyone’s ability to take good photos.

1) More expensive cameras take better photos.

I've taken many bad photos with very expensive cameras
I’ve taken many bad photos with very expensive cameras

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How to cross the border overland between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea

How to cross the border overland between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea

Traveling to Papua New Guinea is like exploring the last frontier. It might sound cliche; it’s not. Papua New Guinea is one of the less-visited countries in the world. The road system is limited, the tourist infrastructure still developing, and the safety a primary concern. However, the country is home to rich forests and jungles, untouched beaches and marine life, and of course, to hundreds of different ethnic groups talking over 800 different languages. Each of these groups has its traditions, all featuring incredible and colorful masks, traditional headgear, and dances.

Most travelers arrive in Papua New Guinea into Jacksons International Airport (also called Port Moresby Airport), in the country’s capital. Those wanting to visit Mt. Hagen and the Highlands, or Port Moresby, should indeed fly into the capital.

Those looking to explore Northwest Papua New Guinea around the Sepik River region have the option to cross the border from Indonesia into PNG. The journey requires more preparations and a solid adventurous spirit but is an exciting way to learn about the local life.
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