It's been a busy summer, but the highlight was a long-awaited journey to Thailand & Cambodia! I've been yearning for this trip since 2011, when Thailand was added to my destination bucket list while on, yes, another trip.
This trip was booked through Gate 1 Travel. For my first experience with the company, I was super impressed and thoroughly satisfied with the entire trip! Everything was well-planned, organized, and jam packed with tours, shows, excursions, and fantastic recommendations for local activities in each city. At the end of the tour, I felt I saw far more than I would have had I booked the trip on my own and planned everything myself. While the spontaneity of planning your own trip and "going with the flow," is thrilling, I also see the high value of an organized trip to see the most while visiting the destination.
Flying from Nashville > Los Angeles > Shanghai, we arrived iin Bangkok to begin the tour. Visits that day included Wat Po, the Reclining Buddha, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the Grand Palace. We then drove to Ayutthaya to see the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The next stop was Sukhothai, where the Old Town of Sukhothai, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provided a serene experience walking through ancient ruins. The northern city of Chiang Rai provided a gateway for a short visit into Myanmar and Laos, together known as the Golden Triangle. In Chiang Mai, we enjoyed a cooking class, an elephant sanctuary, an up-close-and-personal experience with tigers, and some spectacular temples. Two short flights later, we arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The highlight was the breathtaking Angkor Wat! Additional stops included Angkor Thom and a boat ride through a floating village. See the entire day-to-day activities here: Itinerary.
Check out my tour video!
Let's talk money. If you've ever felt that traveling, especially internationally, is too expensive for your budget, I'm here to provide some advice. Let's face it, travel is expensive. There are many ways to keep costs down while traveling (hostels, driving instead of flying, vacation bundles, reward programs, etc.), but it's really a mindset that can allow you to live out your dream. It's possible, and quite practical, for you to visit a place you've always wanted to see.
The key is to think long term. Suddenly coming up with the funds a month before you want to travel is unlikely (unless you win the lottery- in that case, please remember me). Think a year out. Yes, a year. Start saving money now, make better financial decisions, and sell unused stuff for the next 12 months and you can find yourself with the ability to go anywhere in the world. While everyone's situation is different, start small by setting aside a monthly travel fund. This will grow faster that you'd expect. Reconsider how many times you eat at restaurants each week. Maybe start a meal prep plan so you aren't always going out for lunch. Is a movie theatre visit every week necessary? Maybe consider a Netflix night instead. Sell clothes you haven't worn in a year, electronics you no longer want, and hold off on buying those $100 jeans. Hey, it's a sacrifice, but it'll be worth it when your travel departure date arrives.
Travel is the most rewarding investment in myself. I feel like I learn so much not only about the destinations I'm visiting, but about myself, my desires, my interests, and my passions. I'd love to chat travel with you! Comment below or reach out via Facebook or email! :)
Jesse is a Nashville native and avid traveler.
Follow me on Instagram: @jessehwalker
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Hendersonville, TN 37077