Forget the Fashion, In 2014 Let’s Go Travel!


I posted a shot on Instragram a few days ago of a recent trip to Peru (April/May 2013), and I had a lot of responses asking to post about how I travel so much and tips on how to do it.  The most common question I get asked is “How do you afford it all?” Travel is one of my favorite topics so I am more than happy to share my ‘secrets’!

Peru blowgun, Amazon Jungle 2013How to backpack in 2014


My travel diary at a glance is as follows:

Besides vacations with family and friends to Mexico, I had never been out of the country until I was 21 years old.  I am now 28 and have been to 31 countries in total.  I was always obsessed with traveling. Ever since I was 13, I would get National Geographic Adventure along with my Vogue in the mail every month.  I would devour it, keeping every issue and planning all of my fantasy trips to places like Antarctica and Mt. Everest, and the Amazon Jungle.  It didn’t matter where it was, I wanted to go.  I am still very much like this.  The world fascinates me, and I want to explore all of it.

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This desire can be quite hard to realize without a pilot’s license or a trust fund I was told, of which I have neither.  Undaunted, I made a deal with my father that if I graduated one semester early from college, I could study abroad.  So I did, leaving ASU in 3.5 years so that during my time there, I could go with my best friend to Europe for a summer and study in Paris.  While we were there, we stayed 2 months after our courses were over to backpack through France, Spain, Italy and Greece.

It was amazing.  I was hooked.  A whole new culture had been opened up to me.

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No, Im not referring to the French culture, which I had become so fond of, or the Spanish or Italian cultures.  I am referring to the international culture of backpacking.  Here in the States, it is common to hear tales of adventures while backpacking through Europe.  It has come to be known as a rite of passage for a fortunate few after college.  However, this culture extends well beyond Europe and well beyond the trust fund babies of America.  It is much more widely known by non-Americans than Americans.  It is not sketchy. You don’t have to sleep in tents or outside train stations (unless, of course, you want to).

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Backpackers are generally 19-28 year old young adults from all around the world. There are always exceptions to this rule, and no age to too old to travel this way. The average trip length is about 4 months, oftentimes extending to a year or more.  It is very common to do a trip like this alone, and because of this, people are incredibly open and welcoming.  Making a lifelong friend in a day is about as common as asking to borrow some sunscreen.  And about as easy too.
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I have been on 5 backpacking trips in my life.  The longest being 3.5 months and the shortest 2 weeks (which I am not sure actually qualifies as anything but a really rough vacation).  Here are a few things I have learned along the way:



It is not as expensive as you think. Although, it can be terribly hard to accurately budget for a trip like this.  Just to give you an idea, I think I spent roughly $10,000 on my 3.5 month long trip though 6 countries and I did everything I wanted to do.  This includes all plane tickets, lodging, meals, excursions, sailing trips, shopping, you name it.  I even got PADI open water scuba certified during this time and in this budget.

This comes out to an average of $2,857 per month.  However, I sublet my apartment, so I wasn’t paying rent at the time.  Just think about how much you spend every week going out to dinner, to the bars, and shopping on average. So $2,857 isn’t really all that much.  Also, take into account 1 month of this was in Australia, which is a very expensive country to backpack. I remember taking a $21 tequila shot at some bar there. Crazy!!  If I had stayed in Asia, which is where the first half of the trip was, I bet I could have done the whole thing for $6,500, probably even less.


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To budget, you really need to do your research, as it varies so widely from region to region.  For example, the average hostel price in Sydney, Australia is $35 USD per night for a bed in a dorm room while the average price in Vang Vieng, Laos is $6 USD per night for a private room. If you are staying for 3 months, the difference between $6 and $35 per night is going to make a huge difference. Also, factor in the price of everything you buy. A sandwich is Vang Vieng is also much less expensive than a sandwich in Sydney.


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The hardest thing to find is the time.  The more time you have, the more bang for your buck you get.  The biggest expense is almost always the plane ticket from the States and back.  The in between part won’t cost you that much if you pick an inexpensive destination.  So if you have 6 months free, go for 6 months.  Why not?



Checklist to get started:

1. Pick your destination area.  If you are planning to go for a while, you can just pick the general region, and then find the cheapest airport to fly into.

For example, if you really want to go to Laos, you probably don’t want to fly in there.  More likely, it is less expensive to fly to Bangkok, and then slowly make your way to Laos from there.


2. Buy a travel book of where you are going and read it.  Lonely Planet has great ones.  You can also go to your local book store and browse through the travel section (this is sometimes how I pick my next destination). Also, Lonely Planet has a great travel forum on their website that I have found to be a great resource when planning a trip or picking a destination.


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2. Don’t plan ahead.  At least, I never have.  Instead, I find it much more convenient and fun to plan as I go.  You want to have a general outline of the places you want to visit, and a general timeframe (probably at least the date and place of your flight returning back home) but don’t get so caught up in sticking to any plan exactly.  The more flexible you allow yourself to be, the more you can capitalize on unique opportunities that may come up. Hey who knows, you might meet a cute English boy you want to travel with for a few more days?  This actually happens much more often than you may think.  **(My great friend and accomplice on my Peru/Bolivia trip, Lily, is now living in Australia with a very handsome British boy we met our second day in Bolivia.  They are already planning the wedding as well as planning on backpacking around the world for the next year or so before settling down in Prague.  How cool is that?!)


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3. PACK LIGHT. Backpacking does not mean that you are camping out, rather it means you are sleeping in hostels and have all of your belongings in a backpack.  (Tip: Do not bring a rolling suitcase, you WILL be laughed at!) Bring a camping backpack – those really big ones, not the type you carry to school. Pack as light as possible.  You will be buying clothes along the way, plus, re-wearing the clothes you have all the time.  3 t-shirts, 2 pairs of pants, 1 sweatshirt.  You get the idea.  Basically, pack as light as you can, and then take 2/3 out.  Now you are set.  And whatever you do, do not start with more than can fit in one backpack.  You will be acquiring things along the way, and nothing is more annoying than carrying around a Bolivian tribal mask that takes up half your backpack for 5 weeks only for it to break in the last 2 days because you don’t have enough room…trust me.


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4. Book hostels online a couple of days before you arrive. When booking hostels, I generally use or  Make sure you write down the address of where you are staying.  Internet access isn’t always available!  You can do this a couple of nights in advance.  When you get to one destination, figure out how long you want to stay, then book the next location accordingly.  People at the hostels are very well versed at travel information, bus schedules or anything you need to get from one place to another.  If you are visiting a place for a special event like Pamplona, Spain for running with the bulls, then book well in advance and ignore the don’t plan ahead rule.  Hostels do sell out.


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5. Read about where you are going before you go.  If you don’t read before you go, you don’t appreciate where you are and you don’t connect with the place as well as if you did. Also, talk to locals, not just fellow backpackers.  Always be aware of what is happening around you.  And keep a journal! I promise, you will want this later.

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Those are my tips on how to travel.  I hope it was useful.  If you have any questions at all, as I am sure I didn’t cover nearly everything…there is SO much to say, please leave me any questions in the comments and I will be happy to answer the best I can.


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Bon voyage!


32 thoughts on “Forget the Fashion, In 2014 Let’s Go Travel!

  1. Oh I just loved this! I read it three times. I am a lover of travel like yourself and I can’t get enough of it. It really is an addiction! Where is your next trip to? Do you have a favourite (although I imagine it wouldne hard to choose).
    Loved this post and your blog 🙂
    Maybe one day you could post about each country you have been to? Would love to see a blog specific post about each country you have visited :)))

  2. Thank you so much Cassie!! I am SO glad you liked the post! Ah, it is so hard to decide where to next, but I have been dying to go to Nepal for a while and India has been creeping up on the list pretty fast too. But I am always open to pretty much everywhere. What about you? What is high on your list? …maybe I will do a post on individual countries. Is there anywhere specifically you are interested in hearing about? xx

  3. I just read this, go through it line-by-line, picture-by-picture. These trips must have made remarkable stories. I’ve only been to a few states in the US and Canada and just for simple touring. I also love traveling but don’t have time for extended vacations for the time being. I’m never going to be able to backpack. Because of certain health issues, I’m not allowed to do many things. You’re kinda living my dream for me.

    1. Hi Christine, the trips were amazing but backpacking definitely isn’t the only way to travel! Just one method I have employed because of my limited budget. Some of the most beautiful places I think are in the States and Canada. You definitely don’t have to go far to find so much beauty. I’m so glad you took the time to read the post and liked it! xx

  4. Great pics! I’m hoping to travel a lot in Asia since I my hubby and I just moved here from the states. I’ve already planned couple countries such as Japan, Bali and Korea within the next three months prior to coming back to the home *chicago* for a visit. Great post =)


    1. Wow! That sounds so amazing!! You are so lucky to be over there and get to explore that part of the world so thoroughly. I would love to hear about it on your blog – which is great, btw 🙂 I am dying to spend more time in Japan!

  5. YAY I have been waiting on this post since you promised on Instagram haha. Like the others, I also read this over twice – opening up all the photos and trying to guess where they’re taken! So incredible.. but that spider is unsettling haha taken in Australia maybe??

    I graduated in 2012 and have since been working full time trying to save up for a big trip or change of scenery. So many places to go though! I’m headed to Thailand in February for a 2 week yoga retreat but wish I could stay longer – I know I’ll fall in love! I think I need to just jump in like you did. Absolutely love this post Casey!

    1. Aw, that will be great to go to a 2 week yoga retreat in Thailand! I have been wanting to do that in India. You will have to tell me about it after. I would love to read about it. As far as working to save up for a trip, I hear you. And trust me, it is so worth it. Just keep working and saving and you will get there!

      Oh and the spider picture was in Ecuador 🙂

      1. Sorry to bug you here again Casey haha I just feel like you’re an expert – what type of footwear (and how many) do you recommend for backpacking SE Asia? I feel like a good pair of runners is a must and flip-flops for the beach should be light enough, though only having 2 options slightly terrifies me. Also do you know what size your backpack is?

        Please excuse my question-bombarding, first-time backpacker with some serious packing woes here lol!

        1. Hey! Omg, literally no bother at all. I love being able to help give advice. It is so neat that you are actually going. Any questions you have, I am MORE than happy to help!! I think 1 pair of flip flops and a pair of runner shoes is great. I might bring Converse or something similar instead of running shoes if I wasn’t planning on actually using them for working out. But runners are definitely great and comfy. Don’t be scared about bringing too little. You really don’t need much. Also, I know you said you are going to a yoga retreat, so if you aren’t planning on staying in hostels and moving from location to location often I think it is safe to bring more than if you are backpacking from hostel to hostel. Likewise, if you aren’t necessarily backpacking, and staying in one location for the good majority of the trip and not necessarily with ‘backpackers’ then I don’t know if they will all have backpacks or some will have standard suitcases. But I do think backpacks are the easiest, and then you will have one set for some future trips. I found this one that looks great. This one is bigger, which is great, but it is pretty expensive. Anyway, these are the kind of backpacks you are looking for. Especially the size of the second one.

          1. Amazing, thanks a ton Casey! Yes I will be mostly in one spot for the 2 weeks but we’ll be travelling around for a few days afterwards – I know my friends (who are backpacking after our retreat) are all bringing those hiker backpacks so I don’t want to be that embarrassing girl lugging a rolling suitcase through the marketplaces haha, those packs both look great though I’ll set out to find something similar tonight! Thanks again!

  6. It’s amazing how many countries and place have you seen! I also love traveling and I have to admit that you tips are very useful, at the start of my voyages I used to never book any hostels before and it was very hard to find and good and not expensive accomodation just on place.

    1. So glad the tips are of use. If you don’t know where to look, booking hostels can definitely be a pain. They are rated on both of those sites too, so you can check out which ones have reviews that suit you. All hostels have a little bit different personalities.

  7. I loved this post Casey! Your pictures are incredible.
    I’m a frequent traveler but never for more than a week at a time… the type of career I’m in, it’s 5 days here, 7 days there. I love the Caribbean and anywhere warm.

    From what I can gather, the best travel is the extended travel. What do you do job-wise in the states that allows you to leave for months at a time? That seems to always hinder me, even when I’m fortunate enough to save $ decently for vacations.


    1. Hi Joanna,

      I know, it can be SO hard to get away. That has always been the biggest challenge, just when in life can you take the time away? I have created times, once I even took a hiatus from my job to go. Other than that, I have moved around a lot, and in between moves, have always slid a trip in. It’s great because then you don’t have to pay rent if you are in between apartments/jobs because of a move.

  8. Thank you SO much for posting about your travels! I have been looking forward to reading this ever since your Instagram post! I’ve always wondered how I could travel on my tight college budget, so thank you for your tips!! Some questions I had – what is it like to stay in a hostel? Have you ever had any safety concerns? I have never been out of the country so safety is one of my worries! But I have always dreamt of traveling like this! Thanks for taking the time to share with us! 🙂

  9. Hi Katie,

    I am so glad you liked the post. Staying at a hostel is a blast in my opinion. I can be shy sometimes at home, but when I travel, I really try to put myself out there and meet new people, and staying at a hostel is very conducive to this. There are all sort of types of hostels, so when you are booking, look at the reviews and find one that suits you. There are ‘party hostels’ and then more quite and low key. Usually, the people booking look at what the hostel is known for so they have a tendency to stick to their reputations.

    People are so friendly there, and all about meeting each other and hanging out. Especially if you are at a busy hostel. But this does vary, and if you are far off the beaten trail, you might be one of the only few staying there at the time.

    Most hostels are clean. However, the more in the middle of nowhere you go, the more they vary. For the most part, they are nice though. Don’t expect room service or maid service, but you generally get a bath towel to use upon arrival and a bunk bed. They usually have food and a bar too.

    Safety wise, I have never had any issues. I am always super aware of my surrounding and my belongings. Things can always happen though. So just stay vigilant. I have heard lots of stories of others getting pick-pocketed, so it is good to never let your bag or even the zipper opening out of your sight.

  10. Oh Nepal and India would be amazing! It’s so hard there’s sooo many places to venture to!
    I would love to hear about any of your adventures really 🙂 I love travel stories! Did you get to travel a lot when you were on the bachelor? That would have been great fun.
    For me I am dying to do South America, your photos made me want to even more 🙂
    Ps. When your packing do you leave your fab style at home? Like do you take heels or glam pieces/hair dryer/straightner etc. Or just focus on as less as possible?

    1. Yes, we were really lucky on my season, we travelled every week. It was very neat but when you are on the show, you only get to leave the hotel for your date and the rose ceromony and sometimes they will take you to dinner or something but it’s very minimal so even though we traveled we didn’t get to experience the places very much.

      Good question about packing. My first trip I brought heels which I have learned is a big mistake. They take up so much room and you really don’t need them. So now I never bring them. I also don’t bring a blow dryer or straightner. You’ve really got to stick with necessities because you are lugging everything around on your back all the time.

      I try to bring clothes that are flattering but that I can rewear and that are comfortable. I also have a certain pair of black leggings are a must for me. As well as a large knit scarf that can double as a blanket. Maybe I’ll do a post on great things to pack. Because it can take some trial and error to get the packing down to a science 🙂

  11. Loved reading your post! January is just this very special time of the year when i’m asked by my boss to plan my vacations for the year and it’ s always super exciting to pick places you want to see next. What i got so far: morocco for a week in february. Have you been?

    1. Ah what a cool job! That sounds so neat. I was actually just in Morocco in September for 3 weeks and loved it. I regret not bringing more purchases back though! So many cool findings for home decor. And you must try moroccan tagine. It’s so tasty. xx

  12. I love your photos, I love traveling myself but so far I have not been to as many country as you have but I my dream is 7 continents!!!! big dreams…

    love to see more of your post… congrats on starting your blog..

  13. Awesome pics… can you label where those pics were taken, especially the ones with ice? When you backpack do you look for a laundromat to do laundry? I just got back for a super fun trip in Costa Rica and wait to check out S. America. Also Antartica and NZ are on my radar.

    1. Hi Maya,

      Sorry it has taken me a bit to respond! The ice pictures were taken on a glacier in New Zealand (Franz Joseph). Usually, hostels will have laundry services you can pay for, or you can find a laundromat where you can drop your clothes off and pay to have them washed. Depending on where you are, it shouldn’t be that expensive. In Europe, you might want to find a laundromat where you can do it yourself. Ah, Costa Rica is amazing! So much to do. Hope you had an unbelievable time! New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places in the world in my opinion. You will love it there 🙂 xx

  14. Hello Love. Awesome post! A girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Bali in the next couple of months. We’re looking to stay for about a month or so. Have you been before? If so, do you have any suggestions on places to visit or where to stay? This will be my first time traveling outside the US, so any insight would be extremely helpful. Also, of all your travels, what has been your favorite thus far? Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Ah so fun! Bali is awesome. I was there in 2009. I would look into checking out other islands while you are in Indonesia as well. Lombok is just a ferry away and very different than Bali. The Gili Islands are beautiful, but very slow paced compared to Bali. Java is so remote that it makes it very interesting. I stayed in Kuta while in Bali, but wish I hadn’t because it was very touristy.

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