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Maribor Slovenia: An Eco-Friendly Travel Destination

    by Michelle Lawson

    Is Maribor Slovenia worth visiting? Many people would struggle to pinpoint Slovenia’s second city on a map, let alone plan a trip there. But its tucked-away location in northeast Slovenia is one of many aspects that makes a visit worthwhile. Sometimes you’ll feel you’re the only tourist in this undiscovered corner of Europe. What’s more, Maribor is nowhere near as difficult to reach as it looks.

    Read More »Maribor Slovenia: An Eco-Friendly Travel Destination

    10 Tips for Your First International Trip

      by Bonnie Conrad

      Traveling internationally is an amazing adventure, but when you are doing it for the first time, it can feel a bit intimidating as well. As with most things in life, however, the right preparation can make a world of difference, and here are 10 smart tips to help you out. 

      1. Request your passport long before you think you have to.

      No matter where you are traveling, you will need a valid passport to get there, and getting one could take longer than you realize. With the government overwhelmed, passport processing times are longer than usual, so get your request in long before your planned excursion.   

      2. Sign up for a credit card that offers travel protection.

      Travel insurance and trip interruption insurance is more important when you venture overseas, so check your current credit card to see if they have those protections in place. If you are signing up for a new card, ask the issuer about the specific travel protections they offer.   

      Learn to plan your first international trip

      Learn how to plan your first international trip

      Lauren from Indie Travel Guru offers an online travel planning class several times a year. This live online class covers finding flight deals, choosing lodging, planning ground transportation, safety and health topics, and packing light. There’s time for all your questions, too.

      3. Ask the credit card company and your bank about foreign ATM fees.

      Carrying too much cash can be risky, so you will likely be relying on a foreign ATM network from time to time. Making sure your debit or credit card does not charge excessive fees will make your first international trip easier and less costly.   

      4. Let your credit card issuers know about your travel plans.

      Banks and credit card issuers have robust fraud protection algorithms in place, and they likely will flag charges made in a new location. If you want to avoid potential problems, call your credit card issuers and let them know about your international travel plans.   

      5. Pack as light as possible.

      Nothing will ruin your long-awaited trip more quickly than dragging an overloaded suitcase through a foreign city. Packing light is important, so take only what you need and look for clothes that can do double (and triple) duty

      6. Research local transportation options.

      Compared to the United States, international travel destinations tend to have much more robust transportation options, including not only taxis and ride-sharing services but excellent buses, trains, and subways as well. Researching those ground transportation options and downloading transit maps to your phone will make getting around a lot easier and much less stressful.  (Editor’s note: We love Busbud for booking bus travel all over the world.)

      7. Learn about the local culture.

      International travel is not just about monuments and museums — the really rewarding part of traveling the globe is learning about the local culture. You can get a head start on that adventure by learning about the local culture and language before you hop on the plane.   

      8. Download an instant translation app and learn how to use it.

      The language barrier can be a huge impediment to successful travel, but thanks to technology, you can still communicate with the locals. Downloading a real-time translation app and learning to use it before you leave will give you extra confidence once you arrive on those foreign shores.   

      9. Leave for the airport earlier than you think you should.

      Even if you are used to the vagaries of modern air travel, your first international trip is something else entirely. No matter what time you think you need to be at the airport, show up an hour before that. 

      10. Make copies of passports and other travel documents.

      The passport you worked so hard to obtain deserves protection — and a legible copy. It is always a good idea to keep copies of your travel documents in various places, including at home with a trusted friend and in the hotel safe when you travel. 

      Preparation Makes Your First International Trip Way Easier

      Traveling outside your home country can be deeply satisfying, but the right preparation is essential. If you will be traveling internationally for the first time, the 10 tips above will help you focus on the fun while minimizing the worry.

      Become a virtual assistant

      Digital Nomad Jobs: Become a Virtual Assistant

        When you become a virtual assistant, you can create your own remote job and work from anywhere, which makes this a popular choice as a job for digital nomads. 

        If you want a career where you can set your own schedule and use skills you already have, then learning how to get started as a virtual assistant (VA) is for you. 

        A virtual assistant is someone who is self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely.

        As a VA, you have the freedom to:

        • Create your own schedule
        • Work anywhere in the world on your laptop
        • Start your workday at your preferred time
        • Take vacations whenever you like
        • Decide who to work with and who to pass on

        What exactly does a VA do?

        There are over 250+ different tasks that a VA can do. When you become a virtual assistant, you’ll use your own background and expertise to choose your specialties.

        The main goal of being a VA is to complete tasks that can free up time for business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs. 

        Here are a few examples of the type of work VA’s do every day.

        • Calendar management
        • Phone tasks
        • Accounting
        • Operations
        • Personal assistant
        • Content creation
        • Customer relations
        • And more!

        Each virtual assistant is different, and each client they work with will have a different process as well. It is important to niche down your skillset and decide what tasks you would enjoy helping a client out with.

        Take a moment to write down every skill you have from past jobs, volunteer work, life experiences, or educational training. Those will be the basis for the services you’ll offer.

        Qualifications to get started as a virtual assistant

        One of the coolest things about becoming a virtual assistant is that you can use your skills from any past job or life experience.

        For example, if you have experience in retail you can utilize your organizational and customer service skills as a virtual assistant. You could also target online retailers as a customer base, since you know the industry.

        Other job experiences that are helpful to have as a virtual assistant include sales, administrative, and customer care associates.

        Here are a few qualifications and skills that will help you become a VA.

        • Decision-making skills 
        • Basic computer skills
        • Self motivation
        • Time management
        • Communication skills
        • Desire to learn

        The great thing about these skills is that they are easy to learn and put into practice.

        Training to become a virtual assistant

        There are so many VA training tools to choose from, but you need to watch out for scam training classes.

        The first free VA training tool to use is YouTube. There are many videos on YouTube that explain how to use different software systems, how to create your website, and how to get started  as a virtual assistant.

        A second way to train for a career as a VA is to do some freelancing jobs with small businesses in exchange for practice with your skill and a testimonial to help build your brand trust. Reach out to any small business owners you know and ask if you can do some work for them to help build your portfolio.

        Finally, if you are looking for a reputable VA training tool, then check out these courses on Udemy. Even when you are a seasoned VA, learning new skills through Udemy will help increase your skillset and allow you to market yourself for different client opportunities.


        Work from Home as a Virtual Assistant

        The most popular VA training course on Udemy is a great bargain to train for a new career.

        Things you need to launch a VA business

        Once  you have your skills in place, you are ready to launch your own VA business.

        There are a few things you will need.

        A reliable computer/ laptop

        Since being a VA means all of your work is done online, you will want to make sure you have a reliable laptop to use wherever you go. Make sure you have enough storage available on your laptop as well.

        Reliable Internet

        You will want reliable internet so you can complete your projects quickly and efficiently. There are so many great mobile hotspot plans to choose from to help you and your business while you are traveling around and working as a virtual assistant.


        You will want a website so you can direct people to your services and give them a way to contact you. In the beginning, you can opt for  a simple website like Linktree, but eventually, you will want to look into getting your own domain name. I suggest creating a WordPress-based website, as WordPress is a very reliable and efficient website platform.

        Siteground has been our host here at Indie Travel Guru for years, and we love them. They offer reasonable prices, easy coordination with WordPress, fast speeds, strong security, and good customer service.


        Branding is a huge part of becoming a virtual assistant. You want to be able to stand out from the other virtual assistants, and also want your brand to be recognized by business owners. 

        With branding, you will choose your business name, colors, logo, and font choice. All of these items will then be incorporated into your website, email, and social media accounts. If you are skilled in creative design, you can do your own branding, or you can hire someone to help you.

        Make sure your branding and business name reflect your niche, specialties, and target market.

        Software Systems

        As a VA, you will need a variety of software systems to help keep you organized and on track. 

        You will need…

        • A customer relations management system to keep track of your clients. (Monday, Hubspot, etc)
        • An accounting system to keep track of invoices. (17 Hats, Quickbooks, etc)
        • A calendar system to manage your appointments and help with time management. (Google Calendar, Calendly, 7 shifts)
        • A project management system to help manage your clients and their projects. (Asana, Monday, Airtable, etc)
        • A time-keeping system to help you keep track of how much time you are spending on each task or project. (Toggl, Click Up, Clockify, etc)

        Where to find VA clients

        There are many ways to find clients for your VA business.

        One way is to join various virtual assistant Facebook groups. I really enjoy the Virtual Assistant Savvies group and the Female Digital Nomads Group. You can also join Facebook groups for the niche of clients you want to work with and post about your virtual assistant services in those groups.

        Another way to find clients is through various job websites that post VA opportunities. One great resource is Hire My Mom, which has membership options and posts VA job opportunities. 

        Using resources such as Upwork or Freelancer are both great ways to get clients. When using these platforms, you submit proposals to potential clients. Beware of scam job opportunities on these sites, and never give out your personal information or pay them any money.

        Become a virtual assistant

        Ready to get started as a virtual assistant? There is no better time than the present. Use the skills and resources you just learned to help you begin your virtual assistant journey.

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        FAQs about becoming a virtual assistant

        How do I get started as a virtual assistant?

        You become a virtual assistant by using your current skill set and using various VA training tools in order to help you set up your VA business.

        What do I need to become a virtual assistant?

        To start your career as a VA you will need to assess your skills, a laptop, reliable WiFi, and a website.

        Is virtual assistant a good job for a digital nomad?

        Becoming a VA is the perfect job for a digital nomad. You are able to use skills you already have, work from anywhere, and even set your own schedule.

        Tina Goyzueta is a digital nomad and the owner of The Wandering VA, a successful virtual nomad

        This post is part of a series on digital nomad jobs.

        Traveling with an Anxiety Disorder

          Meet Beckie Jones, a backpacker who’s been bouncing all over Southeast Asia for months —  with anxiety issues and OCD. How does she make it work? Has it been worth the struggle? Here’s Beckie’s story.

          Words and photos by Beckie Jones

          I had a panic attack this week because I didn’t want to ride a bike. Not a motorbike or a scooter, not even an electric bike; a normal, pushbike.
          I am a solo female traveler who suffers with anxiety and OCD and at times, traveling the world is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
          Making the choice to travel is also the single greatest decision I’ve ever made. It has changed me and shaped me in ways that I didn’t think possible and I can feel it getting easier every day.
          Don’t get me wrong, some days are still incredibly hard. I struggle with panic attacks over bikes, the devastation  you feel when you’ve bonded with someone on the road but it’s time to go your separate ways. I struggle with speaking to new people, going to a new country…But, nothing is worth doing if it isn’t a challenge, and most of the time travel is nothing but fun, laughter and excitement.
          And those new friends you miss? You’ve shared experiences with them. You’ve become family and witnessed things together that people from home won’t have. Relationships form easily on the road. A stranger you meet at breakfast might feel like a best friend by dinner.
          There is nothing like the feeling of complete freedom you get from traveling. “Today shall I watch sunrise over ancient ruins or swim in crystal clear seas? Should I trek up a mountain or volunteer in an animal sanctuary? Maybe hire a moped and explore the surrounding landscape by bike — or simply take a good book to a nice cafe and lose myself for a while.”
          It Do not  let your mental health define you. I did for too long and challenging myself to break free from the imprisonment and confines of my own mind and the stereotype of mental health is the best thing I ever did.
          Traveling has always been an aspiration of mine; buy a one way ticket, see the world, make no solid plans as to where, when and who. Leave on a jet plane, not knowing when I’ll be back again. All that jazz.
          I feel as though I have spent my twenties waiting around for opportunities that were never going to arise and people that were never going to join me on the road. After the break-down of one such relationship, I woke up to the fact that life is for living and I’m not getting any younger. I made a pact with myself to seize the day, not let any more opportunities pass me by and to do things that scare me. It was now or never.
          I’m telling you, that first day was hard and then I sank right in. The first time for each thing is daunting — the first day in a new country the first time you ride a local bus, the first time you crack out ‘hello’ in Japanese or ‘thank you’ in Khmer, — but then it gets easier and easier.
          I never thought I would be someone able to circumnavigate the globe alone but I’m here and I’m living it every day and I have a little more respect for myself than I did before. But you also have to take it easy on yourself. You may be too scared to try something that terrifies you and that’s okay too. No one is judging; baby steps. Remember, this is the girl who had a panic attack about riding a bike.

          Before I left for Thailand I was having panic attacks daily. I would lock myself in a cubicle at work and just freak out for half an hour. This was for a number of weeks before my departure date. Getting on that plane was terrifying and horrifying and it probably will be for you, too, but if you can make it (and if I can then anyone can), you will see that the last push, that final struggle, the homestretch before leaving the homeland, is all worth it.

          Follow Beckie at her travel
          Instagram @jetsetter_jones | Twitter @Jetsetter_Jones  | Facebook /jetsetterjones