The Unsung Hero That Makes My Travels Safer

You know how they say it’s the little things that matter? Well, today, I want to quickly mention one of the unsung heroes of my traveling life. So, let’s wander off the beaten track for a bit and talk about a little tool that helps me keep my mind at ease when on the road.

I’m talking about a VPN app. VPN is short for Virtual Private Network. What’s a VPN have to do with traveling? Here we go…

Find the best deals on airplane tickets and hotel rooms

I’m going to dive straight into it.

Firstly, full disclosure. The VPN app I’ll be talking about is CyberGhost VPN. I’m not saying it’s the best, the prettiest, the most amazing one out there, or anything like that. But it’s what I’ve been using, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other at the moment. I saw that CyberGhost VPN is often named the Best Value VPN by various tech-related websites.

With VPNs and traveling… for starters, before booking a plane ticket or hotel room, I strongly suggest you use a VPN and see if you can find a better deal than what you’re getting now.

That’s because both airplane and booking companies use something called geo-targeted pricing. This means that they offer different prices based on your location.

With a VPN, you can use this marketing exploit against them. Just turn on CyberGhost VPN and start switching between countries and IP addresses. Since websites use them to determine your location, changing your IP could also potentially trigger much-welcomed airplane tickets or hotel room discounts. Pretty useful if you’re looking for the best deals.

With CyberGhost VPN, you can switch between IPs from 61 different countries – although I hardly ever try more than 6 or 7 before booking something.

Avoid being a data-theft victim

Next, there’s the issue of online data security. That’s a rather big thing, especially when you rely on public Wi-Fi networks to go online, something that travelers tend to do often. And since public Wi-Fi is now everywhere, the threat looms larger than ever. All an identity thief needs to steal your data is a battery-powered hotspot and some patience.

There are common-sense measures you can take to make sure you don’t fall victim. Checking that the name of the Wi-Fi you’re trying to connect to matches the name displayed on the columns or walls of the restaurant/bar/airport is one of them.

However, if you’re like me, the last thing I tend to remember is to check all the details when I connect to Wi-Fi. CyberGhost VPN has a useful little feature though that automatically encrypts my data with the same security standards used by banks and military institutions whenever I connect to an unprotected network. This way I know for sure that I can check my emails or my account balance without the risk of my most sensitive information getting stolen. As I said, it’s the little things.

Enjoy the same content you’re used to back home

Since travel can often leave us quite tired at the end of the day, there are indeed times when we just want to burn through the rest of the night by watching Netflix US, Hulu or something else. Yet being abroad has its downsides. Without a VPN to help us work around geo-restrictions, watching the content we could get back home can be impossible at times.

How does a VPN do that? It simply tricks US-based online streaming providers into thinking you’ve never left home. All you have to do is power up the app and connect to a US-based VPN server.

So, those are some quick reasons why every traveler should use a VPN.

If you’d like to try out CyberGhost VPN  there’s a 77% discount available by following this link.

One CyberGhost VPN subscription is actually enough to secure up to 7 different devices at the same time. And it’s compatible and optimized for iOS, Android, Android TV, Linux, Windows, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick, and even Kodi.

The post The Unsung Hero That Makes My Travels Safer appeared first on Wandering Earl.

Non Lucrative Visa for Spain: How I Applied in Just 1 Week

Non Lucrative Visa for Spain - How I applied in one week

Date: July 2019

I did it. My application for the Spanish non lucrative visa has been submitted.

This non lucrative visa for Spain allows a person to:

– stay in Spain for up to 1 year
– rent a place to live and sign up for utilities
– renew your residency at the end of the year (you can apply for permanent residency after 5 years)

It does NOT allow you to work in Spain, use government healthcare or government benefits of any kind.

This visa looked like a great option for me and so I applied.

And contrary to what I had heard and read, almost all of which explains that you need a ton of time to complete this process, I managed to do it all in one simple week.

Of course, if you have more than a week, that’s a bonus and you can complete the process in a more relaxed manner. But if you don’t have much time, a week is sufficient to get your stuff together and apply.

Here’s everything I did to make this happen:

Application Location

You need to apply in your home country. And you need to apply at the Spain Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over your state or province. For me, my home address is in Florida, so I had to apply at the Spanish Consulate in Miami.

Interestingly enough, each Embassy and Consulate seems to have slightly different requirements for the non lucrative visa but the core is basically the same. You can find any extra requirements on the website of the Embassy or Consulate where you need to apply. Also, some Embassies and Consulates require you to make an appointment to apply for the non lucrative visa and some don’t. Definitely check this in advance as it could take a couple of months to secure an appointment.

Luckily, for me, the Consulate of Spain in Miami does not require appointments, so as soon as I had all of my paperwork together, I simply showed up the next day and applied.

Non Lucrative Visa: Documents, Documents, Documents

The paperwork is of course the heart of the application process.

When I applied for my visa, the man at the consulate told me that I was the first person in over 6 months to apply for a non lucrative visa and to have all of the paperwork in order on their first visit. He said that most people are missing some paperwork and need to come back at least a couple of times before they have it all right.

So, presumably, if you follow everything I did, you should also have all of your paperwork in order the first time around!

*No guarantees though and you really need to find out the specific requirements of the Embassy/Consulate where you’ll apply to make sure you don’t need other items that I didn’t need.

But again, it only took me 1 week to get it all together. While that might not be realistic for everyone (I probably had a little luck on my side), you definitely don’t need months or even weeks to get this stuff done.

Here’s what you need:

1. Passport (should have 2 empty pages and be valid for at least 1 year past the date on which you’ll apply)

  • bring your actual passport
  • make a photocopy of EVERY SINGLE PAGE of your passport (this includes blank pages, personal information pages, everything!)

2. Driver’s License

  • bring your actual driver’s license
  • make a photocopy of the front and back of your driver’s license

3. National Visa Application Form

  • fill out the National Visa Application PDF on your computer and then print two copies of the completed application form
  • paste a passport photo of yourself (headshot with white background) in the upper right hand corner box on each application form

4. Form “EX-01 – Formulario”

  • This is the authorization for residency form (it’s #11 on that link)
  • Fill out the PDF version of this form on your computer
  • It needs to be filled out and printed out in one go as you cannot save this form once you enter your details
  • Fill out Section 1 and under “Doimicilio en Espana“, if you don’t have an address in Spain already, simply type in the city (Localidad) and the province (Provincia) where you plan to live, leaving the rest of the address section blank
  • Do not fill out Section 2
  • For Section 3, simply fill out the “Telefono movil” and “Email” boxes and leave the rest blank
  • Print out this form and make 2 photocopies of it as well

5. Form “Tasas Extranjeria – Modelo impreso 790”

  • This Tasas Extranjeria form (it’s #12 on that link) needs to be filled out and printed out in one go as you cannot save this form once you enter your details either
  • In the upper right corner, where it says “Ejercicio“, enter the year in the four boxes
  • Fill out the section “Apellidos y nombre” in the format of Last Name, First Name, Middle Name (Smith, Johnathan Greg)
  • Fill out the “Nacionalidad” box with your nationality
  • Repeat the previous three steps on pages 2 and 3 of the form
  • On pages 1 and 2, check the box that says “Principal
  • Do not fill out any other boxes on this form
  • Print all 3 pages of the form and make 2 photocopies as well

6. Criminal Background Check

  • For US citizens, you can obtain either an FBI background check OR an official state background check (here’s an example from Florida) if your home address has been in the same state for at least 5 straight years
  • You cannot use a simple background check that you can order and print online (it needs to be one of the two official versions above)
  • When you order the background check, it needs to be a version that is notarized by the issuing authority, which is pretty standard
  • It must be translated into Spanish (some states, such as Florida, allow you to order the background check in both English and Spanish which makes it much easier; otherwise, when you receive it, you need to get it officially translated and notarized)
  • Once you have the official background check in Spanish, you need to send it off for an Apostille certification (this is a specific certification of the document, in addition to the notarization, that is done by the state government where the background check was issued)
  • Example: For me, I had to send my notarized, Spanish-language Florida background check to the Florida Secretary of State in Tallahassee; the cost of the Apostille stamp was only $10 if I got it done in person or I could have sent it to them by mail, which takes about 2-3 weeks; since I was on very limited time, I used a service that sent off my document, got the Apostille stamp from the Secretary of State and had it back in my hands all within 48 hours
  • When you have your Apostille-certified, Spanish-language background check, make a photocopy of the Apostille certificate and the background check as well as a photocopy of the English-version background check as an extra precaution

7. Medical Certificate of Good Health

  • You need your doctor to sign off that you don’t have certain communicable diseases as per the International Health Regulations of 2005
  • I simply used the template that can be found at #8 on this page, printed it out, brought it to my doctor to review and he signed and stamped it
  • The document needs to be in Spanish, so if your doctor is not willing to sign the template above (which is in both English and Spanish), you will need to get the English version officially translated

8. Proof of Spanish Health Insurance

  • This sounds tricky but it wasn’t too bad of a process in the end
  • Every non lucrative visa applicant needs to show proof of having private Spanish Health Insurance
  • You CANNOT use travel insurance or any insurance from your home country (some people get away with it but there’s a high chance you’ll be rejected if you don’t have insurance from a Spanish company)
  • It needs to be a health insurance plan without deductibles and without co-payments
  • I used the company Sanitas and ended up paying about 70 Euros per month for the required insurance
  • Sanitas was excellent, they knew exactly what was required for non lucrative visa applicants, the process was quick and I found their coverage to be one of the better deals out there
  • From the first email I sent to Sanitas, I had the official certificate/confirmation of health insurance letter in my inbox within 72 hours (they move very quickly if you need them to)
  • Make sure they send you all of the documents in Spanish
  • Print out the official health insurance certificate/letter they send you, as well as the proof of payment and a copy of your policy (what it includes and excludes), all in Spanish
  • Make a couple of photocopies of everything

9. Visa Fees – Money Orders

  • The only way to pay for your visa application is with money orders
  • You need to get two money orders from your bank or the post office
  • As of right now, the non lucrative visa fee for US citizens is $140 to apply and another $12 tax (one money order should be for $140 and the other for $12 – they need to be separate)
  • For citizens of other countries, simply find the visa fee page on your local Embassy or Consulate’s website to see what you need to pay
  • DO NOT fill out the “Pay to the order of” section of the money orders in advance
  • The staff at the Embassy/Consulate will fill that out for you

10. Proof of Financial Resources

  • To obtain this visa, you need to show proof of investment income of 2151.36 EUROS per month OR a total of 25816.32 EUROS in bank accounts, investment accounts or a combination of both (it increases by about 540 EUROS per person per month if you’re applying with a spouse or children)
  • Technically, the income you show should not be derived from actual work as the visa is designed for those who have sufficient money to spend 1 year in Spain without working
  • You should print out your bank statements and investment account statements for the past year (yes, 12 months of statements for each account!), make a photocopy of them all and bring them with you
  • Make sure the statements have your name and address listed on them so that it is very clear that they are your bank/investment accounts

11. Proof of Accommodation in Spain

  • You can use either a notarized invitation letter from family or a friend in Spain who will be responsible for your accommodation, an actual lease for an apartment/house in Spain or a deed of a property if you own a house/apartment in Spain
  • OR you can write a letter explaining why you chose a particular town/city in Spain to live in
  • Since I don’t have a place in Spain yet, I went with the letter option
  • Simply write a few paragraphs about why you want to move to Spain and why you chose a particular town or city to live in
  • At the bottom of the letter, include a list of everything that you’re including in your application such as application forms, medical certificate, proof of health insurance, bank statements totaling ‘x’ amount and so on
  • The letter needs to be in Spanish
  • As I have decent Spanish-language skills, I simply wrote the Spanish version myself
  • If you’re not able to do that, you’ll need to get your English letter officially translated into Spanish
  • Get the English and Spanish versions of your letter notarized
  • Make a photocopy of the notarization certificate, the Spanish letter and the English letter

Time to Apply

Once you have everything listed above, it’s time to actually apply for the non lucrative visa. Again, depending on where you need to apply, the Embassy or Consulate may or may not require you to make an appointment in advance. I did not need an appointment and so, once I had all the paperwork in order, my application process went like this…

      1. Woke up at 4:15am
      2. Started the drive to the Consulate of Spain in Miami at 4:45am
      3. Arrived at the consulate at 6:20am
      4. Got in line outside the office building where the consulate was located (There were already 2 people ahead of me, 2 hours before it opened!)
      5. Wait, wait, wait and wait some more, until the consulate opened
      6. Received a number and took a seat in the waiting area
      7. Waited 5 minutes until my number was called
      8. Handed over everything they asked for and within 15 minutes, I was done!

    Non Lucrative Visa: The Next Steps

    I was told that my non lucrative visa would be ready in about 4 weeks. They will let me know by email and then, I have 30 days to pick it up in person. If I didn’t need my passport during those 4 weeks, I could have left it with the consulate and they would have mailed it back to me with the visa inside once it was ready. But I do need my passport over the next month so I’ll have to come back to pick up the visa myself once it’s ready to be collected.

    After that, you need to enter Spain within 90 days. And then, there’s a couple of final steps to the process to actually get your residency card and register yourself properly in Spain. Hopefully my visa will indeed be approved and after I complete the next steps, I’ll be sure to update this post.

    Any questions? Just let me know!

    The post Non Lucrative Visa for Spain: How I Applied in Just 1 Week appeared first on Wandering Earl.

    6 Relaxing Spots in Japan’s Capital

    For those visiting Japan, it’s crucial to find the perfect place to stay. But considering the grueling journey to get there, the perfect place to stay has to be relaxing first and foremost. And there are plenty of places to kick back and relax in Japan. But this famous tourist spot is such an enormous destination that you’ll likely be as overwhelmed as you are entranced by all there is to see. Whether it’s a warm, soothing onsen, a peaceful stroll through an enchanting garden, or a calming, traditional tea room, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice in your options. Lets’ dive in! Below are the top six relaxing spots in Tokyo.

    Shinjuku Piccadilly’s Platinum Seat

    Who doesn’t love a good movie on their comfy couch? Well here in Shinjuku, amidst the bustling crowds and neon lights, you can find a serenely relaxing, atmospheric movie lounge dedicated to complete and total viewing comfort. With the utmost in high-end furniture, including loveseat style sofas placed perfectly at eye-level with the screens, as well as included ottomans, you’ll wonder how normal movie theaters manage to miss this competition. Top it off with a pre-movie lounge complete with a variety of drinks and snacks and you’ll never look at a normal theater the same way again. And if you’re wondering where to stay in Tokyo during your vacation in Japan, you’ll surely find a lot of accommodation options around the vicinity of Shinjuku Picadilly Cinema.

    Mt. Takao

    Love mountains? Love climbing them? Does the daunting, seasonally challenging task of climbing Mt. Fuji turn your stomach just a tad? Well, never fear, there’s a much easier and smaller challenge waiting just outside central Tokyo: Mt. Takao. Boasting a mere 1,965 feet, it’s not much higher in elevation than simply driving across the Midwest of America. It also boasts a breathtaking view of Tokyo from above its fabulous and silent treeline. If getting up above the hustle and bustle is your idea of relaxing, then Mt. Takao is probably the place for you.

    The Marui Rooftop Garden

    Yet again with Shinjuku, normally renowned for its hectic appearance, introduces you to the Marui rooftop gardens, a true authentic British garden on the roof of Marui Main Building. Despite hovering above a rowdy street life, these gardens are surprisingly peaceful and quiet with ponds, a large variety of delicate, exquisite roses, and even a surprisingly large gathering of small wildlife that gathers in the lush greenery. Pack a small lunch and enjoy the sounds of nature far above and out of the way of the sounds of traffic.


    Japan is known for its hot springs, but this one is a bit different. The water is supplied directly from Nakaizu in the Shizuoka Prefecture. After soaking away your stress and fatigue in the outdoor bath, you can enjoy the Lovely sauna with aroma water splashed over hot stones creating sumptuous steam that actually improves blood circulation. And finally, once you’re feeling rejuvenated outside, visit the Spre Beauty Juice Lab for a smoothie or juice made from scratch vegetables and fruits to replenish your insides. And they’re open all night long, so even late night refreshment is totally possible!

    Meikyoku Kissa Lion

    Love cafes, but hate the noise? This little hole-in-the-wall is tailor-made for you. The entire point of the cafe is to keep your voice down and focus on the classical music piped in while you enjoy a delicious meal and maybe even a soothing book. The silence and serenity will envelop you, transporting you away to a world of peace and tranquility, leaving only the soothing music and the fluttering turn of a page to distract you from your new-found calm.

    Inokashira Park

    This breathtaking park is designed both intro and extroverts who seek relaxation both with and without others. Two sides make up the entire park—one which is crowded and the other which is more secluded. In the springtime, the sakura blooms set the sky ablaze with pink and flutter like snow in the gentle breezes. You’ll even find swan boats for rent on the lake to paddle about and feast your eyes on the plethora of natural colors in the trees. And of course, surrounded by serene water and enormous red carp gliding about beneath your boat.

    No matter your reason for visiting Japan, or the time of year, your body demands some downtime to recover from the journey and whatever business has brought you to this foreign land. And no matter what your body and soul crave, simply looking around a little will provide you with the necessary materials to satisfy both. With the right combination, your heart will be at peace and your soul will be filled with many satisfying memories that are sure to remain with you for many years to come.

    The post 6 Relaxing Spots in Japan’s Capital appeared first on Wandering Earl.

    Volunteer Abroad with Worldpackers Social Impact Program

    Volunteer Abroad with Worldpackers

    If you’re looking to make a difference in the lives of others around the world, you can bet that Worldpackers has got you covered! Volunteering abroad not only quenches your thirst for world travel, but it also fills your soul. There are countless people from various backgrounds, groups, areas, and countries that are in need of humanitarian aid, or simply just a friendly helping hand.

    Worldpackers believes in travel that makes an impact on both the traveler and the community they choose to visit. What better way to immerse yourself in a new culture than to serve its hard-working residents, experience how the locals live, and help a good cause? Volunteering is a fantastic way to make a difference, big or small, in the world we live in. You can change someone’s whole outlook with one selfless act.

    The Worldpackers Social lmpact Program has a wide array of important volunteer activities that you can exchange for accommodation and meals. You can browse through the list of experiences by country, host type, skills needed, length of stay, and trip style to find a social impact program that suits your skills best. Each listing tells you all the details of your volunteer experience, including:

    • How many hours you’ll be working each week
    • What type of skills and requirements need to be met
    • What tasks you’ll be completing as a volunteer
    • The benefits of the exchange (meals per day, language lessons, laundry service, private room, shared room, etc.)
    • The minimum and maximum length of stay you are permitted
    • Worldpackers insurance
    • What’s not included in your trip (flights, Visa, travel insurance, etc.)
    • A detailed description of the experience
    • Reviews other volunteers have posted
    • Photos of the experience from other Worldpackers
    • A photo and short biography about the host detailing who they are and what their organization stands for

    You can easily apply to volunteer abroad with any volunteer exchange program that matches your skillset, chat with the host, or save your favorite listings to your wish list for later. Volunteering has so many benefits for all parties involved, and you’re sure to find something that speaks to you. You’ll discover so many exciting opportunities to dive into, like teaching English in India, helping out at an animal shelter in Costa Rica, teaching sports in Africa, shooting videos and handling the social media of a welfare group in Nepal, caring for children in Thailand, and so much more!

    Volunteer with Worldpackers

    The free housing and food during your stay really helps cut down costs of travel, and some hosts even offer local food, drink, and tour discounts! Once your shift ends or on your days off, you can set out to see a tropical sunset, eat your way through a city lined with food vendors, see the sights, and just enjoy your new destination to its fullest. When you fall asleep each night of your stay, you’ll be exhausted and happy to know that you’re living life to the fullest while altering someone’s reality for the better. Knowing your hard work is creating such a positive impact will motivate and excite you about what tomorrow will bring.

    Worldpackers knows that volunteering abroad can help travelers realize their true potential, teach them new skills, open their minds, and inspire them to conquer challenges with confidence. If something seems out of your comfort zone, that’s usually a sign you should try it! Assess the skills you have now and decide what you’re an expert at, what you’re good at, and what you’re open to learning. What skills are you a bit rusty at that need improvement? Which languages would you love to learn? Do you have any hidden talents you’d like to pursue, like painting, cooking, photography, or gardening? Put your knowledge to the test and choose a volunteer experience that will broaden your horizons.

    If travel is about leaving your footprint on the world, you’ll be amazed at how taking it a step further through dedicated volunteer work can leave your permanent footprint in someone else’s world. Try out the Worldpackers Social lmpact Program to find a cause that will turn your month of travel into a deeply rich, meaningful learning experience that can’t be beat.

    World travel has never been so rewarding.

    I’m a traveler in search of those life-changing experiences. My goal is to learn as much as I can of the world in order to create the person I want to be, and I can’t do that by staying put! Through creativity and deeper perspectives on travel, I aim to show those also having trouble with self-identity how to achieve real inner growth in every experience. I’m up for anything weird, wild, and wonderful.

    The post Volunteer Abroad with Worldpackers Social Impact Program appeared first on Wandering Earl.

    Announcing the Wandering Earl Tours for 2020

    Wandering Earl Tours 2020

    It’s time…I’m now announcing the Wandering Earl Tours for 2020!

    Are you ready to join an awesome small group trip that is nothing like a typical tour?

    These are my laid-back adventures that focus on local interaction, authentic activities, unique itineraries, off-the-beaten path destinations and having an incredible amount of fun along the way!

    I’ve now been offering these trips for 7 years, with over 350 travelers having joined tours to 22 different countries. And with the excellent feedback I receive after each one, I get even more motivated to continue creating these types of travel experiences!

    So for 2020, I’m announcing trips to…

    – Vietnam
    – Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan
    – Egypt and Jordan
    – Morocco
    – Georgia and Armenia
    – The Surprise Tour (Yes, a 100% surprise!)

    Check out the details for all the trips over at my Wandering Earl Tours website. And if you have any questions at all, just let me know!

    The post Announcing the Wandering Earl Tours for 2020 appeared first on Wandering Earl.

    Travel Advisors Address the Power of Gen Z and the Emotional Quotient

    Kevin Laminto  / Unsplash

    Three young tourists in downtown Melbourne. At Virtuoso Travel Week, travel advisors learned the impact of young people on family travel decisions and what advisors need to know to serve this increasingly influential market. Kevin Laminto / Unsplash

    Skift Take: Travel advisors are finding that kids are playing an increasingly important role in travel planning decisions. They must address the preferences of all family members, including their emotional needs.

    — Maria Lenhart

    Read the Complete Story On Skift