I Almost Forgot to Pick Up Some Gifts for My Family on My Trip to Canada

I had to go to Canada to work out some issues our main corporate office was having with data sharing with our offices in Canada. We had offices in two buildings in the same block. Their IT specialists were trying to track down a problem with the small server farm, and they asked me to come up and help. I had never been out of the country, and I had to get papers to get out and back in. I promised my wife and two children I would get them something, and I shopped at the Calgary duty free stores on the day I was leaving to come back home.

I felt so embarrassed for forgetting to take some time to find a unique gift from Canada for each of them before getting to the airport. It completely slipped my mind. Continue reading →

I Almost Forgot to Pick Up Some Gifts for My Family on My Trip to Canada

I was so happy when my daughter told me that she had finally been asked by her boyfriend to become his wife. I knew he was going to ask her, but it took him a few years before he did. He wanted to finish college and get established before proposing, which is one of the reasons why they decided to pay for their own wedding. My husband and I still wanted to do something special for them, so I decided to look into the cost of a Toronto party bus.

I knew that they were going to have a huge wedding party, and I thought it would be a fun way to provide transportation for all of them. Continue reading →

My Sister Needed Cheering Up

When my sister got divorced, I was really worried about her. All of us could tell she was better off without her husband, but she thought that she was still in love with him. She fell into a depression that I was bound and determined to make sure she crawled out of. When I saw her making her first jokes, I knew that she was finally seeing the daylight. I wanted to do something really special for her so I looked into Toronto party bus rentals. I figured that if a group of her friends could show her a fun night on the town, she would be on her way to finding herself again.

I wanted to get a party bus because I knew that it would be a night where no one would want to take responsibility for driving. We were planning on having as many drinks as it took to make her realize she no longer needed him. I really didn’t want to go clubbing or even go to one of our houses, because it had to be neutral territory. Continue reading →

A Boost in Motivation with a Promise

The local kids hockey team had been on a losing streak for a while, and they were feeling pretty down about it. I thought that a little motivation would help them win, so I promised the kids that if they won the next game, they would get a pizza party and a ride on the Toronto party bus limo. As soon as they heard this, the kids went to the rink to practice their shots. It was like one of those inspirational sports movies where the kids go through a training montage and get ready for the big game against the opposing team.

The kids worked so hard that they didn’t want to leave. Continue reading →

Savings Your Account to Pay For International Travel

Medical tourism first began to get popular in the 1990’s, when people began traveling in large numbers to Brazil for cosmetic surgery. But as costs have continued to rise, thousands of Americans have been traveling overseas for real medical conditions, such as knee replacements, by-pass operations, heart valve replacements, and other serious issues. Many countries are seeing medical tourism as a good way to bring in foreign money. In many cases the quality of medicine available overseas is equal to the top hospitals in the U.S. Patients are showing up in places like the Apollo Hospital in India, which is part of a 36-hospital chain founded by a cardiologist from Massachusetts General. A heart valve replacement may cost $50,000 to $100,000 in the U.S., and only $12,000 in India, including travel costs. Escorts Heart Institute and Research Center, in Delhi, India, is another popular medical tourist destination. It was founded by Dr. Naresh Trehan, an authority on robotic cardiac surgery formerly based at New York University. Blue Cross Blue Shield has just announced that they will pay for treatment at Bumrungrad International Hospital, in Bangkok, Thailand for individuals from South Carolina. Over 80,000 Americans received treatment there last year. The hospital boasts that over 200 of its doctors are board-certified in the U.S, and will perform a knee replacement operation for 20 percent of what it would cost in the U.S. Who Does This? Dodie Gilmore is a 60 year-old rodeo barrel-racing champ from Oklahoma. She runs a 180 acre ranch, but could no longer ride a horse because she needed a hip replacement. Her health insurance plan had an exclusion that wouldn’t cover her operation, and she really didn’t feel like paying the $35,000 it would cost her. Instead she and her partner flew to India where she had the surgery at the Max Institute of Orthopedics and Joint Replacement. Her physician was Dr. S.K.S. Marya, who averages one American hip-replacement patient every week. Dodie’s total coast, including travel, was only $11,000. She even managed to take in a tour of the Taj Mahal. Forty to Sixty percent of those surveyed say they would consider surgery abroad if it could save them $5,000 or more. Going out of the U.S. (perhaps even just to Mexico), could be a worthwhile strategy if you have an exclusionary waiver on your policy, if you’ll be having elective surgery not covered by your health insurance policy, or if you have a high deductible plan. What is the Risk? According to the Institute of Medicine, over 100,000 accidental deaths occur in hospitals every year. And that’s here in the U.S. Hospitals are a dangerous place to be, and you want to spend as little of your life in one as possible. So there are risks everywhere, and probably greater risks outside the U.S. But the magic of the free-market does give you some protection. There is a lot of money flowing to countries and international hospitals that practice high-quality medicine. If a hospital does not provide quality service, you can bet its customers will go elsewhere, particularly if they are choosing among anywhere in the world. The influx of foreign patients (and money) is enticing more western-trained doctors to return home, so the choices are actually increasing, and the quality and prices continue to improve. I believe that if you use care in choosing your provider and structuring your treatment, the risks are no greater than having surgery here in the U.S. How to Research Your Options Keep in mind that most health insurance plans still will not cover for treatment outside the U.S., especially if you are traveling to receive medical care. So check with your insurer if the cost of the treatment is going to exceed your deductible. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations certifies hospitals here in the U.S. Their international division, Joint Commission International, certifies hospitals throughout the rest of the world. Make sure the facility that you are considering has been certified by them. Then check out your doctor. Confirm that he or she is English speaking, and was trained in the U.S., U.K., Australia, or Germany. Finally, consider hiring a consultant to help you choose the best hospital and surgeon for your needs. A good service will not only set up the treatment, but can also arrange all travel plans, meet you at the airport, and act as your liaison while you are being treated. If you spend money from your Health Savings Account to pay for international medical care, the amount you withdraw is tax-free. Health Savings Account regulations also allow you to cover the cost of your travel if the reason you are traveling to get medical care is not “for purely personal reasons.” When choosing how to manage your health, you should carefully consider all your options. International travel is a great option for people with Health Savings Accounts.

Getting More From International Travel Guides And Deals

The growing demand for international travel is a by-product of the extensive tourism efforts of many countries to draw tourists to visit their shores. This is evident in the mass distribution of pertinent travel literature by host countries at many overseas markets and exhibitions to sell their local attractions to potential tourists from all over the world, apart from lobbying with foreign embassies for the issuance of travel-friendly advisories. The undeniable presence of travel agents and travel agencies in domestic markets has fast-tracked the promotion and sale of overseas destinations to locales who are enticed by discount travel rates, affordable tour packages, attractive locations and other vacation deals that are available at their choice destination. Apart from delivering regular sales functions, travel agencies assume the hustle and bustle related to overseas travel by providing premium services to all their clients. These services range from the booking of flights and hotel accommodation, securing of pertinent travel documents such as passports and visas, obtaining adequate travel insurance for the traveler and coordinating with overseas agencies in the case of packaged tours. Legitimate travel agencies are usually affiliated with an international network of travel agents to ensure that the traveler is better served from the moment he sets foot on the flight right to when it’s time to say goodbye. Incidentally, major airlines have expanded their global destinations and likewise increased the frequency of flights between host countries to support relevant tourism objectives. The incidence of air travel is steadily on the rise each year and airline companies benefit much from economies of scale which allows them to offer more affordable flight packages. All these developments prompted an upsurge of demand for international travel and flights from families and friends who wish to travel abroad for recreation, as well as from individuals on official business overseas..

International Travel Medical Insurance – Why You Need It

International travel for the retired is here and booming! As a consequence so is the need for International Travel Medical Insurance. But whether you are 6 or 60 the need for international travel medical insurance is true for everyone, regardless of age or length of time abroad. Suppose you fall ill just a few hours after arriving at your destination. Or you make a trip to another country and you are injured in an accident? Or one of your children is part of a group making a visit abroad, gets food poisoning and requires hospitalization. In all cases, without adequate travel health insurance, you will be responsible for the costs above and beyond the limitations of your existing medical plan. International travel insurance is normally used by short-term travellers, mostly on holidays and pleasure cruises. Apart from covering medical expenses for a short travel time, it also covers emergency medical evacuations and trip cancellation refunds. Travel medical insurance is meant for international travellers who have to go abroad quite often. There are a number of travel medical insurance companies that give support to thousands of travelling people on travel medical programs. These programs are meant to provide medical protection and assistance services in cases where people develop medical problems outside the country. To avoid any potential medical disasters, wise travellers are prepared by carrying health insurance coverage. Check to see whether your regular health insurance takes care of medical costs in other countries. If it does, what is the extent of your coverage? On a sombre note, have you thought about repatriation of mortal remains? In case of death the travel health insurance company will bear the cost of returning the mortal remains of the insured. Before you leave check your policy document or contact the insurer to confirm what precise steps your insurance company requires you to take in a medical emergency. If you have to buy any treatments or medicines, again keep receipts and original prescriptions if possible. Always read the fine print. Accidental coverage is not provided in case of drunken driving, driving under the influence of narcotic substances etc. Exclusions are also provided for accidents during risky sports, that means in case of accidents in these situations the insurance company is not liable to pay any amount to the insured. Many travel insurance companies also feature discounts for owning multiple policies with them or for maintaining a good driving record. A group package is intended to cover school travels, such as sporting events, group travel, or any travel that carries ten or more individuals. Since the family packages are restricted, covering only the immediate members, the extended polices may be needed to cover additional parties. Thus, few insurance companies may offer up to 10% discounts, while others may offer more or less. You can determine which insurance is best for you and your situation by learning about the different kinds of coverage offered by the insurance companies your familiar with. By simply phoning to get more information you’ll learn and discover the options available for your particular type of trip and destination. Be completely open and honest about your medical history and any activities you’re likely to take part in, whether you think they’re risky or not. As with any insurance policy; if in doubt declare it anyway. One of the most common defences made by insurers when declining a claim is that information was not disclosed or not correctly disclosed. Declare everything and document it. So, if you are planning to travel, whether it is for business or for pleasure, you should definitely think about getting a single trip insurance policy. The comfort, peace of mind and assurance you will enjoy while travelling far outweigh the premiums you will pay. In case something goes wrong, you know that you will receive the best compensation and benefits. Finally, check your existing insurance policies for possible coverage. There is no sense in paying more for what you already have in your homeowner or tenant policy, such as theft and loss coverage.

Cheap International Travel – The Secrets

What is the real secret to cheap international travel? It is the same as the secret to doing anything for less. Learn to be an opportunist. Opportunistic travelers get to travel more, see more and do more. Of course, you can ignore this advice if you have unlimited funds. I went to Ecuador because it was cheap. Honestly, aren’t there many interesting places in this world? Why not choose one you can travel to inexpensively? The other places will be there in the future, and you may have an opportunity to go to those places cheaply at some point. Cheap Countries Ecuador is my favorite international destination. You can still get a decent meal for two dollars. U.S. dollars, by the way, since that’s conveniently the official currency of Ecuador now. From the beautiful snow-capped Andes mountains, to the Galapagos Islands, you’ll never run out of places to explore in Ecuador. Travel there is safe and inexpensive. South America in general is inexpensive, and the most affordable countries are, in my opinion, the most beautiful. These are the countries along the Andes mountains; Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Argentina, thanks to it’s recent economic troubles, is once again a cheap place for travelers as well. In Central America, it costs very little to travel and vacation in both Nicaragua and Guatemala. Nicaragua, in particular, has become more stable and safe for travelers in recent years. Costa Rica is a wonderful too, and though it is one of more expensive counties of Central America, that probably still leaves it cheaper than Europe. In Asia, India is still low-cost, especially if you stay in the numerous hostels and boarding houses. Thailand and Indonesia are also very cheap. With all international destinations, the plane tickets will be your single biggest travel expense. This is especially true with the asian countries. Being there is cheap, but getting there may not be. Cheap International Travel Tips Wherever you go, there are things you can do to keep it cheap. Eat where locals eat, for example, instead of at the tourist restaurants. To keep it really cheap, eat fruit from street markets (wash it well) and packaged snacks from grocery stores. Visit the free and cheap attractions first. It’s possible you’ll have so much fun that you’ll never get around to doing the expensive things. A higher price means better quality with travel bags, but not with travel experiences. Busses are cheaper than taxis in any country, but be careful of crowded city busses, where pickpockets hang out. Walking is even cheaper, and it’s a great way to learn about a city. Just ask the locals where the dangerous parts are before you wander too far. For cheap accommodations find out where local visitors from within the country stay. Negotiating room charges is common in some areas. In Banos, Ecuador, we negotiated our room rate down from $12 to $6 per night, by paying for several nights in advance. Consider hostels, if you don’t mind sharing a room. They’re much more common overseas. Cheap international travel is often only as cheap as your plane tickets. Use the techniques outlined on our site to save big on tickets, or search the fares to several interesting countries. If one is $500 less than the others, consider going there. $500 can buy a few extra days, or an extra mini-vacation some other time.

Avoid Jet Lag On Airline International Travel

There’s nothing more aggravating than arriving at your destination groggy and red-eyed. Jet lag makes clear thinking difficult, leading to bad decisions at international business meetings, and recreational travelers find it detracts from the enjoyment of their hard-earned and time-limited vacations. Symptoms include fatigue and general tiredness, inability to sleep at night, loss of concentration, headaches, malaise and disorientation. It is caused by the disruption of biological rhythms as a result of rapid transitions across multiple time-zones. Such desynchronization of circadian rhythms also affects employees who transfer to night shifts. Preflight preparation isone of the most important aspects of combating jet lag. Before leaving, be sure you have all your affairs, personal and professional, in order. Avoid late farewell parties, so that you are not tired or hungover from a function the night before. Participate in regular exercise in the days prior to departure and if possible try to avoid exposure to people with flu or colds. Get a full night of sleep just prior to departure. There is evidence that jet lag is less acute on eastward rather that westward flights, as it is easier to force oneself to stay up later than normal than it is to fall asleep earlier than normal. Daytime flights cause less jet lag than overnight flights, which is why the latter are called “red-eye” flights. Due to cramped seating and ambient noise, don’t expect to get a good night’s rest on one of these flights. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids, since the dry air in airplanes causes dehydration. Water is better than coffee, tea and fruit juices. Alcoholic drinks are a poor choice for combating dehydration, and demonstrate a markedly greater intoxicating effect when consumed in the rarefied atmosphere of an airliner compared to ground level. A blindfold, neckrest or blow-up pillow, and ear plugs can help you get quality sleep while flying. If there are some spare seats on the flight, lay across them, since it easier to fall asleep laying flat than sitting propped up. Get up and exercise frequently. Walking up and down the aisle, standing for short periods, and doing twisting and stretching exercises in your seat reduces discomfort from swollen legs and feet, and prevents potentially deadly Deep Vein Thrombosis. On long flights,get off the plane if possible at stopovers, and take a short walk around the airport. As far back as 1988 the Lancet report estimated “that over three years at Heathrow Airport, 18% of the 61 sudden deaths in long distance passengers were caused by clots in the lungs.” These clots originate in leg veins where blood pools and coagulates due to passenger immobility. There are many products purported to prevent or cure jet lag. One of them is melatonin, a hormone produced naturally by the body to produce sleepiness. Another product, No-Jet-Lag, has been proven effective in a scientific trial of round-the-world passengers and confirmed by longhaul flight attendants in a test conducted in cooperation with their union. Since it is a homeopathic preparation using extremely low dosages, No-Jet-Lag has no side effects and is compatible with other medications. If you plan to use melatonin, it is important to take it at the right time or it may make matters worse. When traveling east, on the day of the flight, take one dose of melatonin between 6 and 7 p.m. your time. On the day of arrival and for the next four days, take a dose of melatonin at bedtime (between 9 and 10 p.m.) local time of your new location. If you are on a stopover and will be traveling further east, take one dose of melatonin on the day before flying onward, again between 6 and 7 p.m. local time, instead of at bedtime). On the day of arrival at the final destination, take one dose of melatonin at bedtime (local time) and for the next four days. For westward travel, melatonin will not help if you are going less than five time zones to the west. For distant westward travel, on the day of arrival, take one dose of melatonin at local time bedtime and continue to do so for the next four days. If you wake up before 4 a.m., take a little more melatonin (half a dose) to get a complete night’s sleep. Dissolve this dose under the tongue, if possible, so it will be more fast-acting. Sleeping pills are not advisable, especially on the plane. They produce a drugged state which has little in common with natural sleep, and suppress natural body movement, not desirable in a cramped environment where the risk of DVTs is already high. Many over-the-counter sleeping pills are anti-histamines which tend to dehydrate the mucous membranes, creating a parched, sore throat when combined with the already dehydrating atmosphere inside the airplane. Hopefully these tips will help you arrive at your destination awake and energetic.

Thailand Martial Arts and Outdoor Adventure Travel – Long-Term Travel in Thailand on a Budget

1. Amazing Adventures in Thailand

A few years ago, I decided to migrate the majority of my efforts, lifestyle and long-term ninja training programs to Thailand. This decision was based on number of pros as compared to our original California program. First, I like change and I like to stretch what we can offer to students. I have run programs in Europe, the United States and now Asia equally.

Does it mean that California or the United States does not have a lot to offer? No, it just means there are other options and I have a lot of pros to talk about for the Adventurer that can financially manage a long term trip to the U.S. or Europe.

Thailand has a lot to offer serious students and adventurers. Especially those participating in our long-term Martial Arts Training camps.

There is a popular commercial in Thailand called – Amazing Thailand. It highlights the plethora of adventure and fun that is available in one small location.

In Bangkok for example, you can spend time shopping in a 7 story mall (even purchase Ferrari in one of the stores), visit historical temples (feel like a king in the Grand Palace or say hello to the emerald Buddha), or perhaps enjoy an endless variety of nightlife (have a drink on top of the world overlooking the city). Bangkok is an internationally known pit-stop and great for students to spend some time adjusting to the Asia before heading out to see what else Thailand has to offer.

For me, the major draw to Thailand was the tropical outdoor options that are available. I have taken students to the mountains of Pai near Chiang Mai to the warm blue waters of the Andaman sea. We have trained on beautiful islands like Koh Samui and climbed some of the best rock climbing available in the world in Krabi province. When you are not training in the martial arts, there is plenty of adventure in Thailand.

Enjoy a fresh and extremely healthy coconut on the beach, or go snorkeling and diving for a price that you can feel great about. Feel like checking out the bridge over the river Kwai or exploring the Erawan Waterfall in Kanchanaburi? No problem. How about taking a trip to Hua Hin where the King lives and enjoy the long ocean strip. You name it, adventure is abundant and access to that adventure is made extremely accessible.

It might sound silly, but many of my students found that renting a moped and cruising around the islands to be one of the best experiences. Simple adventures like taking a long tail boat from one island to another can be quite thrilling. Adventure is often equated to new experiences and Thailand has plenty to offer.

I believe Thailand offers the best of Southeast Asia, but one of the added benefits to being in Thailand is that with a hop, skip and a jump you can be in experience new adventures in Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, or Cambodia. You can stretch that just a bit to visit China, Singapore, Hong Kong or further to places like Taiwan and Japan. When you are in Thailand, other locations in Asia feel closer and you are more likely to explore.

What Thailand has to offer is of course amazing. However, the real benefits of Thailand hit when we get practical and this is determined by how much of a hole any trip will have on our pocket book.

2. A big reason students love Thailand is financial

As with any functional service – money is an important tool. Students that attend my programs, often do so for long periods. Many students prefer 1-12 months of training as opposed to weekend seminars or weekly courses that often cost far more.

Another benefit of a long-term program in Thailand is the students lower personal costs as compared to what they would pay in the States. There are too many discounts to list here, but here are a few to consider.

3. Cheaper Food in Thailand

You can pick up a decent healthy meal for about $2.00 in Thailand, and that is in a restaurant. On the street, you can get a filling bowl of noodles for 50 cents. In California, you are lucky to get a meal for $5.00 (though Subway helps with their $5.00 foot long sandwiches) and 50 cents might buy you a candy bar. I also tip a minimum of $5.00 in restaurants in the States. A tip like that in Thailand would be outrageous, even 20 Thai Baht is high and that is less than a $1.00

4. Entertainment can be costly, but not in Thailand

In Thailand, you can see a movie for about $5.00. In California, a movie ticket can cost you closer to $10.00. In addition, the quality of movie theaters in Thailand is often superior to what you find elsewhere. For example, you can choose to sit in a reclining mini couch, and choose your seats in advance (even pay less depending on where you want to sit). In the States, if you cannot choose your seat in advance you are forced to arrive early to get a good seat and also be forced to sit through previews and commercials.

This savings extends to almost every sector of entertainment, whether you want to rent a motorcycle, go to a nightclub or ride an elephant, the costs in comparison are outstanding.

5. Shopping in Thailand

Although students and adventures may not have shopping on their mind, it can still be a factor for those that like to buy and why not save some money in the process. Thailand is famous for getting a great deal on your purchase and has shopping streets all over the country. You can pick up designer jeans for $20 as opposed to $200 or invest in a work of art. I managed to buy gifts for Christmas for everyone in the family in Thailand and spend the same amount (including flight, hotel and gifts) as I would have spent just on the gifts themselves (judging from my normal spending habits) in California. I also am able to buy items that are unique and not just another gadget to clutter their closets. Many people have made their short term stay in Thailand into a business and fund their new lifestyle by purchasing items in Thailand to sell in the States.

6. Travel in Thailand

You can travel from the mountains of Pai (north of Chiang Mai) all the way south to the islands of Koh Phi Phi (where they filmed the movie the Beach) for about $60. This would cost you in the hundreds in the States. When I lived in Pai, I would fly to the city for only $30. The bus ride down the mountain is about $5 and takes 2 hours. This travel savings extends to almost every type of travel in Thailand. You can take a taxi anywhere you want for about $10 an hour or hop in a tuk tuk for $5.00 and take a scenic route. Students have rented mopeds for an entire month in Pai for only $50 or $150 in more expensive locations like Samui Thailand. If you want to jump on a short flight to Cambodia to see the Angkor Wat (a wonder of the world) or take a train to Malaysia – no problem, and it won’t hurt your pocket book. I often fly to Singapore from Bangkok and it costs me less than it would to fly from city to city in California.

7. Housing and accommodation in Thailand

A great thing about Thailand is that you have a choice of stay that will meet every budget. In California, a typical hotel is $100 per night and for a month at a basic hotel you will pay about $3,000 or more. This is usually without Internet, without food and without additional benefits. In Bangkok for example, you can get a one-month stay in a great hotel that will include internet, give you a great breakfast buffet (usually for two), swimming pools, fitness gym, lounge use and daily maid service all for $1,000. Not to mention these locations can be found with a small kitchen area – much like Extended Stay of America only at half the cost. Now $1,000 a month may not be cheap to many, but this is for an upscale location. You can also stay in a small house for as low as $200 a month in many locations. I have stayed in a $2,000 a month location on a tropical island and I have stayed at a $300 a month location on the same island. Both locations were great and no, you do not have to live in the alley to get a great price.

All of this is very important to a long-term student of the martial arts. They often only have so much money to spare and they need it to last them a long time. Students that come to California programs often run out of money in a few weeks (going out to town to eat, seeing movies, buying ridiculously pricey popcorn and hanging out with friends). Whereas in Thailand, they can stretch that same money into months and actually get more entertainment – not to mention enjoy the splendors of a tropical island or globally famous city.

8. Medical care

One time flying to Thailand for another adventure I couldn’t help overhearing the couple in front of me. They were not together but seated next to each other. One person asked the other why they were going to Thailand. His response at first startled me. He said he was going to Thailand to see a dentist as it was just too costly in the States by comparison.

I have not seen a dentist in Thailand however I do remember a student that had a cavity removed for only about 500 baht in a great location off of a main Soi in Bangkok. I also remember visiting the hospital in Chiang Mai and after visiting three doctors for three separate issues (thought I would try to get as much covered as possible at the same time) it only cost me about 1000 Thai baht (about $35 U.S. Dollars). Naturally, this person must be getting some major dental work done to spend $1,000 or close to it to fly to Thailand to see a dentist.

However, Thailand is famous for those looking for high quality medical care for a low price. I often catch myself saying, “I will wait till I am back in Thailand to get that checked out.” Many people have a poor view of Thailand when it comes to health care. Yes, you don’t have to get a prescription when you want some medicine to fight off a major virus and you don’t have to get 5 screenings before you can see an expert. All of the facilities I have been to in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and even the island of Koh Samui have been top notch locations with modern equipment and English speaking doctors. I would wager that I received more attention and better care than I have in the States.

As a martial artists and adventurer – it is important to know that when I am traveling that there are up-to-date medical solutions in the event of an accident.

9. Culture of new locations

I once heard that there was more culture in Yoghurt than there was in the California. This might be why websites like EscapeAmerica.com are springing up supporting life outside our borders. Some people are looking for more than freedom of speech. Now I love California and I am proud to be an American, so I will not have much to say about negative concerns. However, having run adventure programs for the better part of 20 years and teaching students for the same amount of time, I know where they can get more for their money.

An exciting part of travel and adventure is meeting new people and learning new languages. Going to places like Thailand will offer a NEW approach and with that comes a benefit that is hard to measure. If you live in the United States already, traveling to another location in the U.S. will not offer much variety. It is hard to grow if you are not challenged to adapt to new locations, meet new people and learn new languages.

10. Friends in Asia

Naturally, you can meet friends almost anywhere you go, but there is something unique about traveling in a country with others of like mind. When you are abroad, you will meet others that have taken the time and have the time to spend – people from all over the world. In California, you are likely to meet more people just like you. This can be boring. My first trip to Thailand I made good friends with people from places like Holland, England, Norway, Australia and of course Thailand itself.

11. Time to play in Thailand

One of the reasons I created my long-term program was to offer a lifestyle that is against the grain of modern society. If, for example, you come to a typical city in the United States, you will meet people that are more than likely following a very specific path. They are working, going to school or busy with their family or business.

Long term students can however get together easily to take a road trip almost any time to either explore a new location, go rock climbing or take a road trip. The same ability to meet new people and adventure with them spontaneously is available in Thailand. This is because Thailand and places like Bangkok is an adventure hub of the world.

In a typical city in the U.S. you are more likely to be challenged with schedules and a tight work week. In Thailand and for students and adventurers alike, the weekend is whenever they want it to be.

12. Moving to Thailand

I ran my long-term martial arts program in California for more than 5 years. I have not had one student of hundreds, move to California (other than to train at our camp) for a new lifestyle. However, with only a few years in Thailand, I have had already three students that are trying or have tried to move and set up life in Thailand (outside of our program). Is it because their American dollar will go a lot further? Is it because they have additional freedoms they are excited about in a new country? Is it because they can escape the almost forced social strategy that is pushed in the U.S.? Any of these might be true, and they are a few reasons that so many foreigners attempt to set up life in Thailand. Even if it is just for a change of pace and a break from the typical norm. Many might head home in a year or two refreshed and ready to settle down in their home country.

My last visit I met a man that was to only be in Bangkok for a few weeks decide to move and live there. He was only there to organize shipments of gems to the U.S. and realized he could spread his wealth and live like a king as opposed to just getting by in the States.

One of my students made the comment the first week I introduced him to Thailand that he had seen enough to know he never wants to come back – that same person is now living in Thailand and has been for more than a year now. It only took another week to convince him that his typical Untied States views of Thailand were way off base.

Do students want to live in Thailand? Some might, but the point is that for a long-term program to be successful, you need to be able to survive in a location long term. As a child, living on a tropical island was a dream and a goal. Living on an island in Thailand is not as challenging as some might think.

Our program also serves as a stepping-stone for introducing students to a new life. I too am able to fully appreciate the good with the bad. As I am from California, I am spoiled with majestic mountains and National Parks like Yosemite. However, I have found that I appreciate the wealth the United States has to offer by living abroad.

13. Freedom to be YOU

As a U.S. citizen you truly have a lot of freedom, but you will only begin to respect your real freedoms when you travel to a country where you have even more opportunities to do what you want and how you want to live. In Thailand, for example, if you want to live in one location for a week or months, it is very easy to do so without the hassle of paperwork, credit checks and other headaches that limit you from actually feeling free. Naturally, every country has limitations and Thailand has many. However, for the long-term martial artist or adventurer – Thailand has plenty of options to make you smile.

Consider being able to pick up a moped in a matter of minutes, or rent a 1 month serviced apartment without anything other than your passport (and the ability to pay of course). In the States, most houses or apartments that you rent (other than outrageously expensive hotels) charge you first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit. Many only charge a security deposit, but this is usually the same as the rent.

In Thailand, there is a lot of flexibility with how you decide to use your rental space too. Usually you are not charged more if you have more people in your room. This is great for students that are looking to adventure with friends and get the best deal. If book a hotel in the States (including Extended Stay Hotels) and add another adult, you will most likely be charged more for the same room and service. If anything, they should be giving you an additional benefit, such as breakfast.

My point is to point out the positive benefits for long-term students to choose Thailand as their destination for growth. I expect everyone to return home with tales of adventure and eventually settle down where they are happy and can make a successful life for themselves. However, the truth is that jobs will always be there and family and friends will be waiting for you to return. Therefore, while you are focused on training and personal growth, you might as well get the best adventure and experience that your money can buy.

14. Self-Power

I remember something that I either read or heard from a public speaker more than 20 years ago. The quote or text was something like this:

If you want to be a success – leave home.

Thinking about my experiences over the last 20 years, I would have to agree that my time away from home has taught me some very important lessons. Thailand has a lot to teach any open minded individual, but the big lesson is already available as the student must leave their country and embark on a journey. This step alone is a big step for any adult and one that I believe will help to teach them more about who they are as a human being.

One of the major differences between our martial art system and others label based martial art styles is the fact that we really push self-powered training and personal growth. It is about creating a lifestyle that you love.

I remember traveling for the first time on the boat to Koh Phi Phi island from Phuket thinking how great it would be to share this experience with students. It reminded me of the feeling Bruce Lee’s character might have felt on his island trip where he was headed to deal some kung-fu fighting in the film Enter the Dragon.

What about you? Have you ever been to Thailand? Have you ever dreamed of going to Thailand? Do you know anyone who had been to Thailand? Share your experience or thought with us!

Join NinjaGym Live-In Martial Arts and Adventure Camp in Thailand and bring balance to your Mind (with the mental martial art of Winjitsu), Body (by teaching the Martial Arts and Ninjutsu) and Spirit (outdoor adventure – travel and climbing). Whether you want to learn how to become a Ninja, get in shape fast with our NinjaGym fitness boot camp, or be part of the an island adventure, we can help.