Wider Worldview is a new live podcast hosted by Color & Curiosity founder Megan Zink that explores the power of travel – how it can change the world: spark new ideas, foster different perspectives, catalyst curiosity and lifelong learning. Join her for interviews with entrepreneurs, educators and explorers and get inspired to tap into travel as an experiential learning and empathy building tool. Travel journalist, storyteller, speaker and media personality Angel Castellanos has been featured in the BBC, LA Times, ABC, CBS, Frommer’s, a number of travel and tourism shows, conventions, talks – it’s safe to say Angel is an all-around travel expert. Read on for his best tips for saving for your next trip, joining team Carry On Only and tips for ways to get outside your ‘comfort known’!
Head over to this link to catch the full audio recording on Fireside with Angel – but in the meantime, here’s a snippet of the conversation. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Megan Zink: So Angel, you and I met at the Travel and Adventure Show in Chicago a few years back; I’ve been following along with your adventures ever since; you’ve been featured on a ton of different news outlets and travel events – can you share a little bit about your background, how you got to where you are now?
Angel Castellanos: I just got home from almost 11 weeks of travel in Europe this summer – mostly Italy, a little bit of France. I’m not one of those people who quit their jobs (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but I always knew that I wanted to make travel my career and travel my life. And I mean, eventually, when I graduated from college, I asked my dad, ‘how can I make money traveling?’ And that’s how my business model was started.
I always had a passport but my parents couldn’t afford to take all of us on huge family vacations so my family got one trip with my mom and dad: it was a life-changing trip when I was 13 years old. And by the time I studied abroad in college, I was in my element. I knew how to take trains – I was always the one telling my friends, ‘we should go here for the weekend and do this.’ And slowly I started to build up a country count and get really, really comfortable traveling. And I knew that I had to somehow continue to do that for the rest of my life.
MZ: I know your motto is all about helping people travel well, smart and often and I know you also have a lot of travel advice. But I’m going to put you on the spot here and give you a challenge – if you could only share one travel tip, what would it be?
AC: It would be to be open-minded. Nothing is certain when you’re traveling. I tell people to be flexible when they travel; travel is not perfect. And that’s the thing, we have this idealistic view of travel, and of course I want everyone to have an awesome vacation, but things can go wrong. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s not. Just be open-minded to change.
MZ: So packing tips – do you have any tips for people who are trying to join Team Carryon?
AC: I think they need to find the reason why they want to do it. There’s other reasons why you should really consider a carry on. For example, it was summer, I had my trip completely canceled at the gate at the airport – I couldn’t board my flight because of a political situation and they decided to stop flights. Because I was going carry on, I was able to immediately switch my ticket to another flight. So you’re much more nimble when you go carry on. I think sometimes people forget things can turn on a dime, especially during this unpredictable time we’re traveling it, so it’s something to really consider.
And it always depends on where your focus is – if you’re going on a road trip, of course, you can always lug a big duffle. But I think certain trips should really take a carry on deeply into consideration, especially if you have a layover. Taking a chance that the airline is going to lose your luggage is never worth it for me.
MZ: Speaking of luggage and packing, what’s your favorite packing hack?
AC: I mean, the thing is it’s easy for me as a dude to carry on. It’s so easy. I have no credibility with the women in the audience. My mom and my wife pack their shoes according to the category of a trip. They always have a pair of walking shoes, a pair of evening shoes for dinner, a cocktail party, whatever, and then a pair of casual shoes. If you have those 3 basic types – one you can walk in, wear out at night and relax in, you’re pretty much prepared for most basic travel situations.
And when it comes to quantity of clothes, it’s mostly about the number that you actually have in your suitcase vs the number of garments. So the way you achieve that, is you pick a color palette, and take two tops and two bottoms to make 4 outfits. 3 tops and 3 bottoms should equal 9 outfits; that’s sort of the formula. And then packing cubes – I’m a folder/roller myself because my dad was in the marines. So that really helps.
MZ: Packing cubes are life-changing. And you have to think about, why are you traveling in the first place? It’s not probably to worry about your outfits. It’s about learning things.
AC: And at the end of the day I still want people to look and feel good. I’m not saying you need to look like, you know, Indiana Jones, or something like that when you’re traveling. But it is more about figuring out the real reason behind your trip – everyone has their reasons, and probably wearing ‘that red shirt’ isn’t one of them.
MZ: So on the other end of the spectrum, your motto, again, is to travel well and travel often. So budget travel and money saving tips – what is your favorite?
AC: That’s kind of a touchy thing, to be honest, because I think everyone has such a different scale for budget and everyone is working with a different budget. In order to save for travel, there’s little things I eliminate at home in order to get those extra dollars to make sure I have the money I need. I’ll eliminate maybe a coffee out for a month or eliminate going out and then rotate it every month, so I’m not completely denying myself. So those little treats – I know I can just eliminate those, and that becomes extra savings.
But when I’m on the road, one of my favorite things to do is actually picnic it because eating out can cost a lot of money. Even if you’re staying in an Airbnb, you’re probably going to eat out. So I like to hit up local markets and get fresh organic food from locals and I feel like I’m contributing to the local economy that way. And then I have an old school picnic. And I think that works for any budget – any kind of eating restriction, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian – I’m sure you can find something at the local market. And you’re also having this really cool cultural experience and rubbing elbows with real people and putting money directly into their home towns. And you can just find a quiet spot – under a tree, or next to the ocean – and that’s the beauty of travel, it’s really open to your imagination.
MZ: Here at Color & Curiosity we’re very passionate about teaching people new things and encouraging them to get outside their ‘comfort known’. If you could share one tip for getting somebody outside their comfort travel zone, what would it be?
AC: This is a perfect question for me because it goes back to my very first international trip – as a thirteen year old, my dad forced me to play with kids my own age in whatever city we were in. And at the end of the day I’d have to tell him who I met and a little bit about them so he knew I wasn’t making people up. So I would encourage people to make local friends, and to really have conversations with people because I believe people make travel special. And if you’re not connecting with locals, you’re kind of missing out.
About Angel Castellanos
Angel is a US-based travel expert who spends his time teaching people how to travel well, smart and often. He says travel is ‘my Ph.D in life because it has taught me so much about myself, other people and the world. I believe travel has never been easier and everyone can achieve their travel dreams.’ Learn more about Angel by visiting his website & social media!