Why Jardín is the perfect side-trip for Medellín, Colombia tourists

Since discovering Medellín, Colombia in June 2016, it has become my favorite remote work destination. There are many reasons for this, including the perfect weather (the city’s nickname is the “Land of Eternal Spring”), the low prices for food and housing, the convenient time zones for those working U.S. hours, and the beautiful scenery.

On my latest trip to Medellín, I decided to pair it with a weekend trip to Jardin – a picturesque, coffee-producing town in the Andes located about a 4-hour drive away. I was really glad that I did and would recommend it as an excursion for anyone spending more than 4/5 days in the region.

The drive down is beautiful, although takes you through some winding, bumpy roads (so, if you get carsick easily, it may not be the best trip for you). Note that they are currently building a massive highway between Medellín and Jardín that will cut commute time and make the drive much smoother, which will make getting to Jardín even easier in the next few years.

View of Jardín from a hike right outside of the city.

Although you won’t find 4-star hotels in Jardín, I stayed at a gorgeous Airbnb on a coffee farm with an incredible view. The host, Fanny, owns the coffee farm next door and can cook you breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which you can eat on her balcony. You can also take a tour of her coffee farm.

While the view was stunning and the hospitality was amazing, being out in the Colombian countryside means that you need to give up some luxuries you have in the city. For one, the Airbnb didn’t have hot water (although it was warm enough for a quick shower). Also, there are bugs all around and you need to sleep with a mosquito net and, even with the net, you’re still likely to get bitten (my feet are currently itching like crazy!).

At the center of Jardín is a beautiful town square with a church as the focal point and plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops all around. The town is definitely affordable, and dinner at a nice restaurant without alcohol will cost you around $5-$6.

In terms of things to do, there are numerous hikes that you can take (many involve seeing waterfalls but all involve amazing views). It’s also a perfect base for paragliding, and you’ll paragliders taking advantage of the views and wind currents throughout your stay.

Overall, if you’re going to visit Medellín for more than a few days, you should definitely look into a trip to Jardín. Although the drive means that a day trip would be pushing it, I felt 2 nights was perfect and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys amazing views and coffee.

New York Trip Deal: $669 round-trip business class (lie-flat seat!) from JFK to Lima, Peru on Avianca

Avianca, which is part of the Star Alliance, is putting its business class flights from JFK to Lima, Peru on sale! Flights start at $669 round-trip, after taxes with great availability through December 2018, with many routes including a lie-flat seat.

This is a really incredible deal — last year, Avianca ran a similar promotion, but with business class seats costing around $992.

Last year, I flew Avianca’s business class from Bogotá, Colombia to Santiago, Chile and wrote a review about it. Although it wasn’t my favorite flying experience ever, I’ve heard the U.S. to South America routes have better service and that, coupled with the lie-flat seat, definitely make this a fare worth checking out.

To find this deal, use Google Flights and search for business class flights between JFK and LIM.

Portland Trip Deal: $271 round-trip from PDX to Quito, Ecuador on American Airlines

American Airlines is putting flights from Portland, Oregon to Quito, Ecuador on sale! Flights start at $271 round-trip, after taxes with availability in September and October 2017.

This is an incredible deal to South America and if you’re thinking of going, this deal won’t last long!

To find this deal, use Kiwi.com or Google Flights and search for flights between PDX and UIO.

How Copa Airlines’ direct San Francisco to Panama City flight changed the way I travel

Back in 2015, Copa Airlines, a member of the Star Alliance, started operating direct flights from San Francisco to Panama City, Panama. In a marketing ploy, Panama City has named itself the Hub of the Americas, but this advertising campaign is not far from the truth. An approximately 7.5 hour flight away from San Francisco, Panama City provides unparalleled access to South America and several islands in the Caribbean (such as Aruba), which has truly changed the way I travel.

In previous blog posts, I’ve discussed how Central and South America have become favorite destinations of mine as a freelance/remote worker. My clients are on Pacific Time, so most of my trips needs to take this into account. I prefer traveling to time zones which are ahead of California, mostly because I don’t really start working until 11am or so (I am decidedly not a morning person).

Copa Airlines’ model is quite simple – because their flights are almost always less than 8 hours, they don’t offer lie-flat seats.

I would rank Copa Airlines economy well above Delta, American, United, and even Alaska for a few reasons, the main one being that every flight originating from the U.S. has a dedicated TV screen, with entertainment you can access for free, and a working USB port to charge your phone. This might not sound like a lot, but I’ve found that a lot of my long-haul flights on United, American, and Alaska (haven’t taken many on Delta recently) often come without in-seat entertainment and often have plugs that don’t work. With Copa Airlines, I am always sure I’ll be entertained and leave the flight with a fully charged phone.

Notably, Copa Airlines does not currently offer WiFi on its flights, so it’s not the best for business travel.

Also importantly, Panama City’s Airport, while not perfect, makes connections very easy. I’ve landed with as little as 45 minutes before my next flight, and had no issues making the connection. The airport is aware that a large percentage of visitors are coming in on a connection, and the airport is set up (nearly) perfectly for that – with only a few terminals so far away that you have to hurry to reach your connection.

Throughout the last few years, I’ve booked flights on Copa Airlines to Santiago, Chile, Medellín, Cartagena, and Aruba. All of these flights came in at below $500, which is insane for round-trip travel from SFO to these destinations.