What would it take to make you quit your job to see the world?
Three friends—Jennifer, Holly, and Amanda—did just that. Known as the Lost Girls, these ladies gave up their media jobs in New York City and vowed to "get lost" with each other in a year spent traversing the globe. Their travels led them to 14 countries where they mingled with locals, provided volunteer work helping at-risk girls in Kenya, and took lessons on everything from capoeira in Brazil (Brazilian martial arts) to yoga at an ashram in India.
Did their path lead them to some uncomfortable situations? Absolutely, but that's exactly what they were searching for. Their amazing tale is now available in a book released last May called The Lost Girls: Three Friends, Four Continents, One Unconventional Detour Around the World.
Keep reading for travel tips from the Lost Girls.
I recently caught up with the Lost Girls in New York, who told me how to wander a little more comfortably.
What is your go-to budget tip that you could reveal to our readers?
Jennifer: Slow down! As we learned, the faster you move from place to place and the more destinations you try to pack in, the more cash you're going to end up dishing out. Give yourself the opportunity to get to know a place beyond its tourist attractions.
Holly: Consider subletting your place. I listed my one-bedroom apartment on a site called Airbnb.com, and this greatly helped me defray the cost of my adventures.
Amanda: Don't pay more for an overpriced travel wardrobe. I spent a ton of cash on quick-dry clothing and special convertible pants that I assumed I'd need, but very rarely wore. How often do you spontaneously get soaked while traveling and need your outfit to dry in an hour?
What is one thing that you packed that seriously saved your sanity?
Jennifer: A headlamp. I'm a night owl, and having a portable light allowed me to read after everyone else had gone to sleep.
Holly: A sleep mask and earplugs. In noisy buses, trains, and hostels, these enabled me to shut out the world and get some shut-eye!
Amanda: A universal memory card reader. It allowed me to snag photos from fellow travelers while still on the road (because, realistically, very few people actually email you after the fact).
What is one thing you wish you'd packed that you now would never leave home without?
Jennifer: Disposable contact lenses (I recommend Acuvue TruEye). I was trying so hard to save on space and money, so I brought my regular set of lenses that require constant cleaning and attention. Some things are worth the extra space and bucks.
Holly: My rolling suitcase. I can pull it around whenever there's smooth ground, but convert it into a backpack when I'm on more rugged terrain. I used one from High Sierra for a trip to China, and I love it.
Amanda: A top-notch, ultra-portable camera. I discovered a passion for photography during our trip, and I wish I'd had a better camera! I'm planning on buying the Canon G-10 before my next trip.
So what's next for the Lost Girls?
Amanda: As a group, we all feel strongly about visiting parts of Asia that we missed during our trip (or only explored cursorily), like Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Nepal. We're hoping to plan a trip to this area of the world this winter!
Looking for more tips and travel stories? Check out this exit interview from the girls' trip to Panama last October to find out what they'll never do again, what they wish they had known before they set out, and what part of their journey they can't stop talking about.