I don't like to break the flow of interesting blog posts with too many random asides, so I'll group several miscellaneous (mostly travel related) things into this one post! At the end I share a cool website that has been really helpful in getting me very affordable flights!
Top 100 Language Lovers/Bloggers
First thing's first! If you have been enjoying this website then I'd really appreciate if you gave me two entire seconds of your time (presuming you aren't on dial-up modem speed) to vote for Fluent in 3 months in the “Top 100 Language Lovers” competition in the blogging section.
Just click this image, select “Fluent in 3 months” and submit. That's it! 🙂
The bab.la competition has been a fun one I like to take part in every year. When my blog was just a baby of one month old and I (somehow) got in the top 10 final results, the results page ended up sending me most of my site's traffic for the first nine months of my site's existence! Last year I got position one of language blogs and wear the “badge” on my site to show this with pride 🙂
I'd be happy with another top 10 this year; if someone else gets the very top spotlight, good for them!
As you'll see in the list, there are lots of contenders this year! Feel free to look through several of them and see all the other fascinating language lovers out there. I'll be happy to share the end results with everyone at the end of the month, so you can discover new interesting blogs!
Thanks for your vote!
My 6 week level of Dutch
A major Dutch magazine, Onze Taal is going to feature a detailed interview with me and my thoughts on language learning. However, this being super organised Holland, they interview me in May to publish it in November 🙂
Anyway, Femke Hovinga got in touch with me to do the interview and I really enjoyed it! She let me record a part of it so I thought I'd share it with those of you curious about what my level of Dutch is like at the 6 week point!
It was my first upload with my new camera and I wanted to make sure the whole process simply worked, so I didn't do much editing. This means there are no subtitles, sorry! Most of what I say is stuff I have said on the blog many times already though, or my thoughts on Dutch culture, which I'll be writing about soon enough anyway, in much more detail.
This isn't speaking fluently but it's a pretty good level that I'm quite happy with considering it has only been six weeks. After about 15 minutes in Dutch, we switched to English so I could explain things for a professional interview more clearly that I could only do in a language I speak fluently.
Speaking gig at TBEX!
The blog, Youtube and meeting people as I travel have been great ways to spread the positive encouraging message that I want to share with the world that anyone can learn and speak a language, and do so in way less than years. But of course, I will always try new ways to reach even more people!
This is why I am so pleased to announce that I will be speaking at my first major conference (although I've already been speaking at smaller events) to an audience of many influential people who themselves have a very wide reach (mainly media and other bloggers), and sharing my thoughts on language learning; on June 11th and 12th I'll be in Vancouver, Canada, at the TBEX conference.
You can see from the timetable that I'll be quite busy, first discussing some of my blogging strategies on a panel with others (twice!), and then taking the stage for myself to see if I can convert as many monolinguals as possible to what has been titled “polyglottony” (I definitely didn't come up with that!!)
I can't wait 'till they give me the mike! As you can imagine, I'm not quite shy to speak in front of many people 😉
By the way, for those of you who would like to talk to me directly, I am always available for one-on-one Skype/telephone calls. Up until now I have been booking only 30 minute sessions, but they tend to end up going up to an hour anyway, so for just today and tomorrow I am letting anyone book the cheaper session before I permanently put the price up! I really enjoy talking to people directly as it helps me focus on issues they are having in particular. So far everyone I've talked to has gotten a lot out of our calls (as you'll see in the testimonials)! I look forward to more 🙂
Other upcoming travels: WDS
Normally, I like to keep some suspense around my upcoming travels, but I can share my upcoming non-language-learning-travels over the next month with you right now!
I'll be starting my next language mission in a new country on June 16th. As always, I'll announce it in advance to those in the Language Hacking League e-mail newsletter. But until then, here are my upcoming travel plans that are very different to what I usually do!
Normally my travels and local language learning mean I tend to hang out with quite down-to-earth people, but this unique side-trip to let me spend time with some other crazy bloggers couldn't be missed!
- June 2nd: Flight from Amsterdam to Las Vegas (via Frankfurt). Spending most of the day there waiting for a transfer since it was the cheapest route! If someone in Vegas is free that day, let me know 😉 Otherwise, boingo have very kindly given me a year's free worldwide Internet, so I may just go to one of their many hotspots and do some work before two weeks of many distractions! I was already in Las Vegas last year and may even be back again later this year, so I'll be likely skipping the strip that afternoon.
- The same day, I fly Las Vegas to Portland, Oregon. I'll be staying with my great friend Karol Gajda and another friend from my time in Austin, Nick, in a house for a week. We'll be renting a place while we attend Chris Guillebeau‘s epic World Domination Summit. While the title may be quite confusing for people who don't read his blog, it's simply a gathering of people like myself who are all trying to change the world in our own ways! Working together we can likely reach our goals a lot easier.
- June 7th-9th I'll be making my way by land to Vancouver for TBEX, and hopefully will get a chance to get to know Seattle en route!
- June 10th-15th in Vancouver. Since I'll be speaking at the conference, a hotel has been arranged for me for the weekend. Then I'll likely be staying with another great friend, Scott Young after the weekend. Since my only time in Canada up to now was actually in Quebec, I look forward to seeing this other side to the country!
- June 15th; leave the Americas for my next destination and arrive the next day.
I'll be happy to meet up with readers on Monday 6th in Portland and 13th in Vancouver. And possibly 8th in Seattle. Write to me if you'll be in these cities and if enough people are interested, I'll arrange Fi3M meet-ups!
When you look at this itinerary, you might think that “popping” to North America for two weeks might be horribly expensive. Actually such trips can be much less expensive when you do it in a particular way:
For flights I highly recommend using the website www.skyscanner.net. This is always my go-to website for finding the cheapest flight. It is especially effective for finding the most affordable European flights, but has recently been doing great for me for intercontinental flights too!
The one website searches a huge list of other sites directly and presents you with the cheapest route and date if you can be flexible about when to fly. Flying one day earlier or later may mean hundreds of dollars in difference. This site also searches Expedia within it, which tends to have many cheap flights anyway. What I really like is that it presents the data to you visually so you can see immediately what day of the month is cheaper.
But one tip not so many people are aware of is that different Expedia sites give different prices. The country you have set in Skyscanner transfers to Expedia. When I had it set as U.S. my cheapest flight leaving Vancouver to my secret destination for my travel date range was $1,500!! Terrible! I got the same price when I searched on the American Expedia site directly.
But when I set my country (i.e. for the website, language, currency etc.) to the Netherlands, this changed down to an incredible $420! I checked to see if it was the same in other countries, and the same flight-route and price was presented with U.K. as the country too. If you don't mind paying in pounds, you can have the interface in English via the UK site if the US site is giving a higher price.
My flight to Portland (via Frankfurt and Las Vegas) was actually only $340. I don't have any frequent-flyer-mile tricks (travel hacking info I see online only ever seems relevant to North Americans), and I don't tend to be on-the-ball for some time-sensitive promotion. I just use Skyscanner and I end up paying affordable prices for hops across oceans.
Even more impressive is that my flight from Cali Colombia to Dublin Ireland (a route that you would expect to be incredibly difficult to find a good rate for) was €320 a few days before Christmas!! This was actually for 3 entire flights: Cali-Bogotá, Bogotá-Madrid, Madrid-Dublin. I bought it on Iberia's website, but found the flight and price on Skyscanner. I checked in my bags in Cali and didn't have to worry about them until Dublin and had an excellent flight; not bad for what I paid!
For accommodation, rather than look at hotels, or even hostels, if you are travelling with other people then renting a vacation apartment actually turns out to be quite affordable, depending on when and where you go. This is what I'm doing in Portland, but otherwise using Couchsurfing means you are saving incredible amounts of money, while also having someone local to give you tips on the best and cheapest places to eat and how to get around in general. For longer stays I simply use the means locals would to find a normal furnished apartment.
I don't tend to make 2-week trips like this, but you can see that with some careful planning, even moving to the other side of the world does not have to break the bank! The exposure of speaking at TBEX will definitely be worth my investment in the long run.
The entire 2 weeks will probably end up costing me a bit more than $1000 including my flights and all other expenses (which is not far from how much many people pay for rent/mortgage, fuel, car insurance, food, smoking, alcohol etc. in a half a month). Luckily my normal living expenses, even during travel periods, are actually way less than this. So no, you don't need to be rich to travel.
So once again, thanks for your vote and I hope you like how I'm doing in Dutch! Also, if you will also be attending WDS or TBEX, let me know in the comments below! Hopefully today's travel tips made all my other ramblings worth it 🙂