Traveling through Eastern Europe ’06

Oldy Goldies

Found a couple old entries from 2006.  I was in Eastern Europe during the World Cup and had a blast.  I thought I’d share them:

         Saturday, July 01, 2006 

munich last night…prague today

So the flight to Germany was long and horrible.  It was an old plane and I didnt have a tv in my seat which really pissed me off.  Yesterday I walked all over Munich and ended up going to three bars for the world cup…three because the first two were to crowded that I couldnt get a beer and left.

Anyways, Germany won the game and the streets were flooded with drunk people.  I met a lovely girl and chilled with her and her friends until I lost sight of her.  Afterwards I might three lovelz guys who took me to the third largest beer garden in the world….it was great.  Afterwards one of the boys put me on the guest list to his brothers club.  I ended up going there with him and his roommate and her best friend.  Needless to say they bought a bottle and I got back to my hotel wasted.  My parents were not impressed…especialy my father but thats another story. LOL 

England lost the game today against portugal…im not a happy camper right now.  I guess im glad i didnt buy those tickets after all.

So today I arrived in Prague and its pretty nice.  Im about to go out for a few beers now so Ill post how everything went tommorow. 

Monday, July 03, 2006 

Goulash? more like Ewwlash
Current mood:  accomplished

Holy Moly Czech food is horrible. Went to the Pilsner Urquell factory…its better than disney land. Anyways partied my butt off in an area called Lavka, met some really cool people and ended up partying with a Candian skateboarder who is in Europe for a competition. My second day in Prague was interesting…I got lost walking around the city without a map for three hours. I must have walked around for five miles before I figured out how to get back to the interconitnental hotel. Afterwards began drinking some absinthe…no green fairies but still a good drunken experience lol Today we left Prague and stopped in Slovakia for a couple hours on the way to Budapest. Man that place has zero flowers…kinda depressing. Now I’m in Budapest and I’m getting ready for a good sound night of partying again. Will update whenever I get a chance.
Thursday, July 06, 2006 

Oh Budapest…Ill be back very soon
Current mood:  loved

Wow.  Talk about getting lost in every city I’ve been in.  My first day in budapest was great.  I got in late afternoon and at night I walked around to find a good local hangout.  I went to a famous pub called the Irish Cat but it was empty.  So I walked alone at night down a street called Raday and had a few glasses of wine.  I didn’t meet anyone so I walked about a mile at eleven at night to go to a music pub that the waiter recomended.  Well I didn’t get there because a bar maid who was standing outside of a bar called Bar California insisted that I go inside to get a drink.  There I met some great people…especialy one called Aron.  I couldn’t believe my eyes but he looked like he could have been Noels twin brother.  He looked just like him only with brown hair and some facial hair.  Needless to say I went back to his apartment and we played piano all night long together…he’s a musician and a perfect gentelman…  The next day we decided to meet up and it took about two and a half hours walking around the city to find the bar I was at.  After I found it we met up and he took me in his paper car (yes I just said paper car) all around Budapest.  He took me to the Citadel which had a stunning view of all of the city and then to the president palace where he bought me and ice cream and we walked through the garden hand in hand.

Afterwards I went back to the hotel to eat with the family.  I had goose leg and some sort of yummy soup that tasted like tom ka kai.  After dinner, Aron picked me up and we went to a beer garten to watch the game.  The whole day was absolutely perfect. 

Yesterday was tough.  I left Budapest and arrived very late in Vienna.  I didn’t do much.  I watched the football game in a park slash beer garten and afterwards I went to a bar called leopold above the Leopold museum.  I met a few Americans and we ended up going to a disco.  That’s about it.  Missed my tour this morning cause I came in around 4 am.  I guess my parents didnt bother waking me up lol  Will be in Salsburgh tommorow and then in Munich on Saturday where I’ve already arranged to meet up with the German boys I met there.  I will be back in Miami sometime Sunday afternoon so fret not my friends…you’re faveorite party girl will be back…just without the partying.  I’ve decided to really crack down on studying so I can get my degree.  This trip has really made me realise how much I want to live again in Europe and wont do that until I finish school.

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IHeartBackpackers.com – the beginnings of a travel startup

So let’s catch up on just what has been accomplished to make the I Heart Backpacker dream a reality.  First thing’s first- The idea.  I wanted to provide cheap backpacking tours for students and young adults.  I believe everyone should have a basic education in worldliness.  Why tours for backpacking?  Because traveling these days can be dangerous for young adults and it’s always safer to travel in numbers.  It’s also a pain in the butt to figure out train schedules and decent hostels to stay at.

Now that I had my idea I needed to register my business with sunbiz.org as an LLC and call the IRS hotline to apply for a valid EIN number.

  After designing my logo and researching my tours (lots of spread sheets involved for price points) it was time to start setting up the medium for which to sell them.  I registered the domain name Iheartbackpackers.com with godaddy.com and bought a basic hosting package for the files.  For mac lovers, the easiest way to design a website like mine would be with iweb , a web design program which comes with the Mac operating system.  If windows based, I highly recommend Coffeecup html editor and ftp.  But now the big problem is how to set up my back office and shopping cart!

There are several solutions out there for tour operators and travel sellers.  Instead of going for a free shopping cart like zencart, which is extremely basic, I’ve decided to go with rezgo.com.  Rezgo offers a checkout solution for your website with a back office management system.  This system allows me to create not only a product catalogue, but also user portals for, lets say, travel agents or employees who will be selling my products.  This now allows me to keep track of who sold what for commissions. 

Another great feature is the ability to create promotion codes.  This now allows me to keep track of how effective my marketing is.  For example, I can print a promotion code on my fliers “type university123 in the promotion code at our website checkout for a 5% discount” and a different promotion code for posters “Type Kayak Store 331….” and with this can effectively track how users found out about my website!  This means no more guessing and wasting money or marketing materials. 

The last great feature Rezgo has to offer is still somewhat in development.  It is called Rezgo Connect and allows suppliers like me to connect with Rezgo Vendors and vice versa.   This means that if you’re a vendor you can connect with other travel suppliers and sell their products for a negotiated commission or, if you’re a supplier you can expand your sales by offering your products in other people’s stores!  Bravo Rezgo!  You guys are right on the money as to what this market needs.  And the best part about Rezgo is that it costs you absolutely no money to sign up and start selling!  The one downside to Rezgo is a 5% commission they take on sales in the front end (or 1% if done on the backend by an agent or employee).  I believe that the 5% they take is quite high and should be lowered but considering what other providers are charging (rezlogic.com, tripzsystems.com to name a few) it’s a bargain.

For Merchant services I have decided to go with two solutions.  Not only do I have a physical credit card terminal (which offers me very low negotiated processing fee-around 1%) but I also use the almighty Paypal- highly trusted by online consumers but with considerably higher processing rates.

So now I’m all ready and set up to start marketing and taking orders- the hard stuff!  Let’s see what ideas and solutions my readers and I can come up with.

Hello blog readers, travel startups, and backpackers!

Welcome to the I Heart Backpackers Blog.  This blog has been started for a number of reasons.  First off, it is meant to promote and chronicle the progress of my backpacking travel business http://www.Iheartbackpackers.com .  Second, good advice for beginning and  marketing a travel company is hard to come by these days… especially when on a budget.  This blog is meant as a forum for those who may have suggestions and wish to help with the development of this company as well as for those who are struggling with their own travel related business and in need of some inspiration.  Third, for backpackers of course!  I will be posting helpful backpack travel related links and articles that can assist travelers on their journey worldwide.  Fourth, but not least, articles I’ve written on my travels and traveling in general.

I hope, although covering a wide variety of topics and interests, that some may appreciate and find this journal useful.  And if not, I know I’ll still reap the benefits of archiving my journey of self discovery and the world.  Enjoy!