Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration for World Travel

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Nov 19, 2011 / 0 comments

Need tips, tricks, and inspiration for world travel? I've got the site for you! Wanderplex is a website for travelers that LOVE to travel, dream about it, are always planning it. Wanderplex was created by Reena Ganga, a world traveler that knows the ins and outs of travel, planning, packing, and the like. Wanderplex is fun to read, too - from inspirational photos to crazy stories about travel around the internet, to destination and gear guides. It's all in there, ready to be discovered!

We caught up with Reena to talk about her site, global cuisine, digging deeply into a culture, travel tips, and more. Here's what she had to say...



 Wanderplex Reena Ganga in Cairo, Egypt

Reena Ganga in Cairo, Egypt


WE: Please tell us about Wanderplex...

RG: In a nutshell, Wanderplex is a travel site that gives readers information about how to “hack” independent travel. Any guidebook will tell you about what to see and how to get there, but Wanderplex aims to tell you about how to really make the most out of your journey. Whether that’s saving money on the road, maintaining your safety, packing the right gear or finding unique and unusual experiences – there are a lot of tricks and techniques that experienced travelers know and use. Wanderplex is about making these tricks available to everybody.  



WE: What was the genesis of your site?

RG: I had done a lot of independent travel – including a year that I spent traveling around the world – and somewhat to my surprise, this was something that would often elicit reactions of awe and jealousy. I’d sort of grown up traveling, so it never occurred to me that independent travel might be a daunting or mysterious concept, but people would frequently ask me for advice: how I did it, how I paid for it, how I came back in one piece etc. I thought by starting a travel website and sharing my insights and advice, I could inspire and motivate others to take the plunge and live their travel dreams.

I also felt like the site could be useful to more experienced travelers, because so much of what I share on my website has been gleaned through extended, intensive travel, which can be quite different from a shorter trip. I feel like every time I travel I come away having figured out something new, or realized something I would do differently next time. It’s a constant learning experience.



Wanderplex Reena Ganga at the top of Nemrut Dagi (aka Mount Nemrut), Turkey.

Reena Ganga at the top of Nemrut Dagi (aka Mount Nemrut), Turkey.


WE: You talk a lot about food around the world - what are your favorite places (and things) to eat?!

RG: I have so many favorites that the word “favorite” kind of starts to lose meaning! I am a huge fan of Thai food, since there’s an endless choice of dishes and I’m yet to taste anything that isn’t good. I also highly recommend Ethiopian food to anyone who hasn’t tried it, because not only does it taste fabulous, but eating it is a very unique experience: different types of vegetables and curries are served on a giant, round pancake-like base called injera which you eat with your hands and share with your fellow diners. When it comes to Mexican food, I salivate just thinking about Mole Poblano, which is a sauce usually served over chicken that is comprised of 27 ingredients including chocolate, and who wouldn’t love a main course that includes chocolate? Also in South America, empanadas are a must try. I would hunt all over town for those savory pastries which are very popular and tend to fly right off the oven racks. And then there’s dessert – don’t even get me started on that. I always make a point of eating dessert when traveling. I figure I walk so much it’s only right that I replace the calories that I’m burning!



Reena Ganga in front of St. Georges Church in Lalibela, Ethiopia

Reena Ganga in front of St. Georges Church in Lalibela, Ethiopia


WE:  What tips do you have for making travel a reality?

RG: Start saving now, even if you don’t have immediate plans to travel. I talk a lot on my site about ways of incorporating money-saving principles into your everyday life, or cutting entertainment expenses without sacrificing going out. The reason I think this is important is because when a great flight deal comes up, or you’re suddenly given a chance to take a significant amount of time off from work, or you’re invited to a wedding in an exotic locale, you already have the money available and can seize the opportunity – one which may or may not come along again.

Also, work out what it is that’s stopping you from traveling and figure out how to tackle it. For example, if it’s fear of the unknown that’s holding you back, do lots of research on your prospective destination so you can get more comfortable with it – this might involve reading guidebooks, but also watching movies or travel shows set in the location to get more of a “feel” for the place. If it’s safety that you’re worried about, read up about all the different techniques for protecting yourself and your belongings while abroad (I admit, I talk about this somewhat obsessively on Wanderplex – I must have a gazillion posts about how to hide your money from thieves!).



WE: How can travelers best dig deeply into a culture/new place?

RG: I think it really helps to get off the beaten path. That doesn’t mean you can’t travel to a popular city or country, but you need to try and go outside the touristed zones – visit the secondary cities and the neighborhoods where the locals spend their time so you can see what life there is really like. Museums are great, but cultural “experiences” are there to be had out on the streets, so go eat the local food, take the local transportation and attend local events.

That said, the single best thing you can do to dig deeply into the culture is to talk to locals as much as possible. Learn a few words in the local language to break the ice – things like “hello”, “please” and “thank you” – and just talk to everyone you meet. People are generally flattered that you want to learn more about them and their country and are surprisingly generous, both with their time and their resources. Sometimes people will offer to show you around themselves, but even if they don’t, you can often garner valuable advice about the best spots in town to get a truly “local” experience.



Reena Ganga in Croatia

Reena Ganga in Croatia


WE: What are your top travel tips?

RG: My top travel tip would be to seek out human interaction as much as possible. We have a tendency to go abroad and plan out all the buildings, monuments and museums we want to see as well as all the iconic foods we want to eat, and so on. That’s fine, but what you’ll really remember years from now are the amazing people you met, the stories they told you and the experiences you shared – so be sure to seek those out. The best way to do this is to talk to locals every chance you get, venture off the beaten path, and frequent the venues the locals do. This is a big part of what sets the adventurous travelers apart from the typical tourists.

Secondly, I would suggest that you rigorously plan your trip, but be very willing to break the plan. It’s definitely worth doing as much research as possible to ensure you’ve allocated enough time to each destination, worked out the best forms of transportation, know the dates of any festivals, have read up on the major sites, and so on. But once you arrive, be willing to toss the guidebook aside if better opportunities arise. You might hear about a special event that’s taking place, get invited to a local wedding, hear another traveler’s tale about an incredible village nearby or a million other things – but whatever it is, be flexible and open to the possibility. Some travelers plan every site they’re going to see and every restaurant they’re going to eat at – but if you schedule every minute of your day, you’re closing yourself off from potentially amazing experiences.



WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

RG: I think ultimately, I just want to stress to people to get out there and do it – go travel! I feel like life will always be complicated and there will never be a “good” time to travel – you’ll always have something holding you back, whether it’s a job, debt, a mortgage, kids or some other responsibility. I think if you want to travel, you have to make it a priority and figure out a way around your responsibilities. Maybe you can take a job overseas, maybe you can house swap, and maybe you can take your kids with you when you travel. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!


Reena Ganga attending a showing of Swan Lake by the Russian Ballet in St Petersburg, Russia

Reena Ganga attending a showing of Swan Lake by the Russian Ballet in St Petersburg, Russia



WE: Thanks so very much, Reena! Love your site and highly recommend it to our readers.


For more information, please see:



All photos courtesy and copyright Reena Ganga