Budget Travel Expert, Author, Solo Traveler, Wanderstay Hotels Owner

Passports & Pizzazz

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Toronto anyone?

Just two months ago, I had the opportunity to visit a place I have wanted to travel to for quite some time- Toronto, Canada! Just a few hours in the air, Toronto was very easy to travel to and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made the trip sooner.

During my 3 day trip, I got to visit the top of the CN Tower, stroll the downtown shopping mall, visit many unique restaurants, and eat tons of poutine fries! Yum!

Here is a breakdown of some of my activities:

1) If you are into unique dining experiences, you will LOVE eating at “Signs”, a deaf restaurant. Yes, you read that correctly! Everyone in the restaurant is deaf- the bartenders, the servers, and even the kitchen staff. There are  menus with sign language on the table that show you how to properly order the meal of your choice. Not only was the atmosphere amazing, the food was good too!

2) I had to wait over an hour to visit the top of the CN Tower but the view did not disappoint. I would recommend going very early in the morning to avoid long lines. The entry ticket went for about $35 and was pretty worth it to me.

3) Try the Poutine fries and make sure you have a friend to share with!1 Before I visited Toronto, I kept hearing about the poutine fries so I knew I had to try them. They are essentially fries topped with cheese and gravy and they are oh so yummy.

4) If you are traveling solo or with just one other person, take the bus from the airport into the city, it will save you tons of money. I paid about $3 to take the bus into the city whereas if I would have taken a cab, it would have cost me about $45. It take about an hour to make the commute, but imagine what you could use the extra $40 on!


Have you visited Toronto, what were your thoughts?



Beautiful Belize

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Belize is one of those countries you just have to see for yourself. I first visited Belize last year and had the opportunity to visit again last week.

I want to help you out on your Belize excursion so I have jotted some useful notes to help you maneuver your trip to make sure you have the best trip ever.

  1. It costs $50 Belize Dollars ($25 USD) for 2 people to catch a cab from the airport to the ferry.
  2. If you are visiting Ambergris Caye, make sure you rent a golf cart and drive the hour ride to Secret Beach, you wont regret it.
  3. If you want a true island feel, stay on Caye Caulker. It is an extremely small island filled with cheap local food (lobster, seafood, etc), very low cost massages, and tons of souvenir vendors.
  4. Don’t have a tight schedule. Leave room to just go with the flow and enjoy your visit to this beautiful country.

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Wanderlust Hostel needs YOUR help!

As you all know, I am opening a hostel in Houston, Texas summer 2017 and we need your help!
The hostel will sleep 40 people and be located within a 10 minute walking distance from the Houston Metro system. In order for me to secure a particular piece of property, I have to get certifications, licenses, and pay certain taxes which totals about $5,000. I started my campaign  Wanderlust Houston Hostel  to raise this money and I have a little over 35 days to get it done.
So where do you and others come into play:
1) Donation
2) Sponsor
3) Invest
1) A donation is a short term gift towards the major goal of 5k! All donations help overall!
2) Sponsor: If you are looking to receive a tax write off and sponsor a business, this is a great opportunity! You will sponsor at least half of the project ($2,500) and receive free hostel stays, a spot on the hostels website for the first 2 years of operation, and you will be able to name one of the rooms at the hostel!
3) Invest! If you are willing to invest the total project of $5,000 the owner (Deidre Mathis) will be willing to discuss a payback schedule (i.e. 1% of gross income for the first 6 months of the hostel openings PLUS the initial investment. The hostel is currently projected to profit $275,000 in the first 6 months which makes your payback: $7,750 ($5,000 PLUS $2,750)
Thanks for your time!

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Before you book: Check if you need a Visa

There is nothing worse than booking a trip, packing to go, and arriving to the airport only to find out you needed a travel visa to enter the country! Believe it or not, this happens quite a a lot.I recently had a friend call me super excited about a trip to Brazil only for me to ask her about her visa and her appear dumbfounded. Not only did she not know she needed a visa, but she was due to leave out the next day- there was no way that was going to happen. Sadly, she lost out on the money she used for the flight and she took vacation days from work only to stay home and not use them for vacation.

I don’t want the same thing to happen to YOU ! When you find a flight deal, please check first to see if you need a visa, the costs of the visa, and how long it will take before you receive the visa!

Here are some of the most popular countries where USA passport holders NEED  a travel visa! For a larger list, visit http://cibtvisas.com/visa-quick-check

  1. Brazil
  2. China
  3. Cuba
  4. Egypt
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Ghana
  7. India


Cartagena, Colombia: What a colorful treat!


When Spirit Airlines offered 75% off of flights to Colombia, I knew I had to jump on the deal! Not only did I wan’t to experience South America for the 1st time, but I had always heard how beautiful, bright, and gorgeous Cartegena was so I jumped to the opportunity!

From Dallas, Texas it was a 4 hour trip in total (45 minute layover in Ft Lauderdale). I landed in Cartegena mid day and right away I noticed the HEAT!! Now I have lived in India, traveled to Abu Dhabi, and I live in Houston TX so I know all about heat and the heat in Cartegena was all to familiar. I recommend bringing your best shades, sunscreen lotion, and as little clothes as possible!

I stayed in Cartegena for 5 days and here are my recommendations of activities:

  1. Visit El Totumo Volcano and roll around in the purifying mud!
  2. Visit Playa Blanca, it is about 45 minutes outside of the city but totally worth the drive.
  3. Eat all the fresh seafood you can take in! The fish is literally caught and cooked the same day! Delicious
  4. Practice your spanish/bring a spanish dictionary as not too may locals speak English fluently
  5. Budget your money, but don’t fret because Cartegena was not too expensive at all!
  6. Try Colombian coffee, it’s strong, but tasty!
  7. Watch the sunset from the top of the city center walls- the most beautiful sight ever!

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Hong Kong Explosion!!!



As I am writing this entry, I am sitting in the airport in Hong Kong headed to Shanghai and it is really hard to leave this place. I landed in HK four days ago and literally hit the ground running. During my stay here I did everything from Disneyland, to the Star Ferry, Victoria’s Peak, Temple Street Night Market, and partied in Macau.

The top SIX things I learned about Hong Kong during my 4 day stay:

1. Hong Kong is a very international city. I saw almost every type of nationality and there are tons of expats who live here.

2. There are about 7 million people who live in Hong Kong and there are tons of buildings (housing) to prove it. There are so many tall skyscrapers here. (Very Tall Buildings)

3. Taxis are pretty cheap but the subway is SUPER cheap. The first two days I took a taxi everywhere I traveled and it wasn’t too expensive but the last two days, I took the MTR and that was super cheap!

4. Disneyland is super small. As a person who was born and raised two hours away from Disney World in Orlando, Florida, I was suprised to see how small Disneyland was, It is literlly probably half the size of one park in Orlando! It was still a great experience though and if you are in HK and have a few hours to spare, it is only HK $499 (about $59 USD) to visit compared ti the over $100USD tickets in the USA.

5. Even though 269 stairs up and 269 stairs sounds like ALOT it is worth it to visit the BIG BUDDHA. Just look at it like a two for one: free exercise and an opportunity to see the GIGANTIC BIG BUDDHA in person.

6. Hong Kong is pretty foggy in the spring.. My visit is in April and a lot of the time there was so much fog in the air!

Hong Kong is such an amazing place and I highly recommend it to anyone! If you have any questions, feel free to email me! deidre@wanderlustybp.com!DSC_2002

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Abu Dhabi: A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit Of That

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Deidre, you are going to the Middle East? Isn’t it DANGEROUS there?

This was the question I was bombarded with before my trip to Abu Dhabi but I wasn’t worried the least bit. I took the 16 hour non stop flight from Dallas to Abu Dhabi ready for the excitement!

Abu Dhabi, in my opinion, is a place full of diversity. I met tons of people from Africa, Ireland, The Philippines and more. Abu Dhabi was very Americanized too, full of American restaurants and American shops- I was very surprised!

The weather was beautiful, during my February trip the average temperature was about 75 degrees although one day it did reach 98 degrees!

Here are my Top 5 Take Away’s From My Abu Dhabi Trip:

1) Getting around Abu Dhabi via taxi is very convenient and cheap

2) Visiting the Grand Palace should be REQUIRED! It is absolutely beautiful.

3) Abu Dhabi is such a melting pot- people usually come to work and gain a better lifestyle than they had in their home country

4) Take the Big Bus Tour! It goes everywhere you will want to go !

5) When you visit the desert, bring something to cover your face- the wind is constantly blowing sand everywhere it it gets all over every part of you!