Tips for travelling on the cheap.

If you’re anything like me, all you want to do is wander the world. It’s hard to blame anyone for Wanderlust when there’s so many places to go and so many things to see. Travelling is an expensive hobby, though. And, if you’re not smart about how you’re travelling, things can get really out of reach, really quickly.

A desire to see the world should never be haulted by cost, though. So, if you’re like me and not independently wealthy, then steps need to be taken to ensure that you can get where you want to go without suffering for it for months before, or after.

So, without further adieu, here are some vague tips that I frequently use when planning trips, when looking for new places to see, or when helping friends/family (who aren’t independently wealthy themselves) book trips.

TIPS FOR TRAVELLING ON A BUDGET:

Be flexible with your dates. Obviously this isn’t always possible. If you’re needing to get to a wedding, or some sort of an event somewhere, you have to go on a certain date. But, if time is your oyster, the world can be too.

Example: I was hellbent on the idea of being in Las Vegas for my thirtieth birthday last year. Flights to Vegas for my birthday were $350 there and $395 return. Flights nine days after my birthday were $100 there and $78 back. That’s a savings of more than $500. Just for going nine days after my birthday. When I thought about it I reminded myself that Vegas is still Vegas, and no one’s going to hear I went nine days after my birthday, they’re going to hear that I went to Vegas for my birthday.

Uses travel-friendly booking websites. Though it may seem as you’re selling your soul a small bit when you give your email address over to websites like Expedia or Trivago, these sites can actually be incredibly helpful. Being able to see hotel prices all in one place can allow you to know which hotels are more within your budget and what places to avoid. These websites can also, often, have cheaper prices for reservations than booking on an individual hotel’s website.

Ask a local. Whether it through a blog, or asking someone on a street when you get there, ask someone where the best places to eat or shop are. Tell them you’re on a budget, tell them you’re trying to save. There’s no one who is going to know more about a place and where is cheap to eat or shop then someone who lives there.

Pack our own food. Where possible, this can be a huge money saver. Prices are marked up extensively at restaurants and cafes, especially in overly touristy areas. Wandering into the grocery store and grabbing some food, even if it’s a pre-packaged veggie or meat tray, can be a lot cheaper than a restaurant or a cafe. I quite often opt for this route. I prefer to spend my money on things other than food when I travel, where possible. 

Don’t shop at the airport. Don’t do it. Ever. Even something as simple as a Starbucks coffee can be 2-3 more dollars just for purchasing it in the airport. Also, those cute and dainty little shops that line the halls en-route to your gate… they’re there to suck you in. Resist the temptations.

Skip the frills. Things like airline wi-fi can seem really intriguing when you’re bored on the plane. But, if you think ahead and bring a book… or a notebook… or a sleeping pill, you won’t need to purchase that wi-fi and can save yourself some dollars.

Ask ahead. Finding a hotel that’s reservation includes breakfast in the morning and access to a laundry room is possible. If you’re going to be staying somewhere for a longer-stint of time, having access to a laundry room can be a life-saver. And, if you don’t have access to a laundry room, it’s a lot cheaper to find a laundromat ahead of time rather than using a laundry service.

See what public transit looks like where you’re headed. Using public transit in a new city, if you can wrap your head around it, can be a lot cheaper than taxi and uber trips. Plus, public transit can allow you to see more of the city if you’re willing to try.

Do your research about free, or cheap, attractions. These are out there. They do exists. Pinterest can be an incredible assistance in this process because people who’ve been there before share their stories about where to go and what to see, what is fun and what is not worth it.

Use coupons, sales, discount codes. There’s a local airline near me that has sales on holiday’s. Doesn’t matter the holiday, every holiday you can bet there’s going to be a sale. Usually it involves waking up early in the morning to be one of the first ‘x’ amount of people to purchase the ticket under the sale price. If you can wake up early and get that discount, DO IT. And if you don’t wake up early, still see if there’s a discount code for you to be able to use to cut costs just that much more. Even if it’s only 10 percent off flights, 10 percent off flights still counts.

Take advantage of loyalty programs. I joined the loyalty program of a car rental company about a year ago. I don’t rent cars a ton, but when I do, I am earning points for them. Those points can add up over time and, eventually, I can redeem those points for free rentals. Taking advantage of a loyalty program for purchases that you have to make, or rentals that you have to have, will help you in the long-run when you take a trip you don’t have to incur those costs on. This works for hotels as well.

You just never know.

When you’re suffering from mental illness or struggling from mental issues, it’s easy to think you’re the only one in the world who feels the way that you feel. I know because I do that. I’ve done that. There’s something about the human condition that forces us to keep the negative in our lives bottled up, eating away at our happiness, little by little, day after day.

I don’t understand it.

This past week has been eye opening for me in that I’ve been able to realize I’m not alone. Both my best friend and my sister have mentioned to me they take medication for anxiety.

I know that it’s incredibly naive of me to say that I thought I was the only one, but that’s how I thought. I thought I was the only one. I was hard-wired to believe that I was the only one who couldn’t handle it. ‘IT’ being the proverbial shit-storm that’s been running through my head.

I’m not alone, though. I’m not. And while I don’t like thinking about the people in my life struggling in a way that I understand all too well, it makes me feel better to know that I’m not alone, and, that we can talk about it. We can talk about it.

And being able to talk about it make’s me feel a little bit more like it’s not winning. Like it’s not going to get the best of me. Like there’s room to fight back.

What causes people to do bad things?

This is something that is of genuine interest of me. Are people inherently bad and can, at times, just do a really great job of fooling us? Are people not smart enough to realize what they’re doing is wrong? Or, do they simply not care? Perhaps there’s more to it. Something that I cannot wrap my head around. I’m no perfect person, myself, but, I would like to believe that I make the right decisions when I go about my life.

Someone that I know (or that I thought I knew) has recently been charged with doing something really bad. On the scale of one to murdering someone (I can’t believe that I just made a scale for that) he did something the courts are rating about a five. And that’s a big deal all in itself, but, he did it multiple times.

I’m dumbfounded. I genuinely thought he was a good person until I found out about this last year. Until the investigation began, I really thought that he was a good person. Learning what he was capable of though? While I’ve hear people say ‘I’m shook’ before, I’ve never felt the need to use it. But he left me shook.

Why would someone do something so horrible… so many times? What causes people to do bad things? How did he fool me for twenty years? I would like to think that I see people for who they are, but perhaps I just looked past who he really was, who he really is.

Now, as someone I know heads off to prison for a long time, I can’t help but think that I need to readjust the way that I view people in my life.

Day 37: Ugh

As the fifth day in a row of temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius continues, cabin fever is real and hitting hard.

I don’t own a car. The idea of taking on that much debt terrifies me. As someone who has been on their own since they were 17, I don’t want to accumulate more than I can pay off. So, when it gets this cold, there’s not much more to do than stay in side, look for jobs online and watch a lot of Netflix.

Not owning a vehicle definitely makes getting around an interesting task when you’re 30 miles from the nearest town.

There’s a dog in this house named Bruiser, who quite literally leaves bruises on your body if you piss him off. And he’s a temperamental little bugger too, so it’s quite easy to piss him off. Never have I met a more aptly named pet in my life. Also, he snores. He’s on the couch across from me, four legs in the air, snoring like a full-fledged human man right now. Oh, Bruiser.

I long for the days when life is figured out. When I have a plan, a job and can effectively turn this passion project of mine into a full-fledged reality. The days when I can wander the world, taking beautiful photos and meeting beautiful strangers… and eating food even before I learn what it is. I long for the sunsets on new coasts and sunrises in new cities.

I am bound and determined to believe that December 31, 2018 will become the best thing that ever happened to me. That it will have been the day this all started. It was the day that all of the negativity in my life was cut out and the new, proper chapter began. What I need right now is to get through this literal and metaphorical cold snap confining my existence to this unemployment.

Life will get figured out. Hopefully it doesn’t come to robbing banks to get me to the sandy beaches of the Seychelles. (Small joke, I would never rob a bank) And hopefully that’ll just be my beginning.

Until then, still counting the days.

#MillennialCommandments

  1. Thou shalt not take advantage of thy parents basement.
  2. Thou shalt not skip an opportunity to have avocado toast.
  3. Thou shalt use the terms ‘hella’, ‘yaaas’, ‘AF’ and ‘salty’ as frequently as possible.
  4. Thou shalt never know how to properly do one’s taxes.
  5. Thou shalt always allow the desire to stay home alone win out over the desire to go out with friends.
  6. Thou shalt always remember the life lessons of Doug, Daria, The Fresh Prince, Uncle Jesse and the Rugrats.
  7. Thou shalt leap before looking because the best things in life come from a willingness to try anything at least once.
  8. Thou shalt continue allowing Baby Boomers and Gen X believe that we know nothing about politics because it’s far easier to not argue antiquated practices with someone unwilling to change or see a new perspective.
  9. Thou shalt work for for little to no money at all because ‘experience is something money can’t give you, kid’.
  10. Thou shalt run this world one day… rebounding the economy, the education system and the government from whatever the fuck is happening right now.

Saw this trending today on Twitter. Anyone have any #MillennialCommandments to add?

Day 35: Insert adequate title here.

This is a rant. It’s a rant and a bit of a ramble at the same time. These thoughts have been circulating my head a lot the past few weeks.

“You sound like a hot-line call girl,” a complete stranger said to me over the phone one day.

“Unbotton another button on that blouse and I’ll let you sit in on the management meeting,” my manager casually mentioned to me in the office one day.

“Sweetie, give daddy a kiss and I’ll give you a tip larger than you can handle,” one of the customers said to me as I was serving his table while waitressing one day.

“I know you ain’t a hooker but honey how much would it cost me to take you home for a night,” a random man in a bar yelled at me one day.

What’s the worst thing that’s ever been said to you? Was it a one-off moment that left you with distaste in your mouth and frustration in your head? Or do you have a lot of examples…. examples just like these.

The thing about inappropriate comments are that people get away with them all too often. We brush them off, sweep them under the wrong and act as though they didn’t happen… all too often.

And, on the occasions that we do stick up for ourselves, we’re treated as hostile, angry, difficult or labeled ‘a bitch’, further escalating the situation beyond what we thought it was worth in the first place.

There’s a youtuber that I like to watch, Kristina Kuzmic, who posted a video recently that made me rethink all of the gross, disgusting comments I’ve heard in my life. And in just five minutes, she adequately explained all of the reasons why behaviour like that shouldn’t be tolerated anymore, and why as women we should be empowered when we stand up for ourselves.

Since seeing it, I have encouraged all of my friends and family to watch this video. It’s an important message. Whether something is being said from behind a keyboard or in front of your face, it’s not something I want to tolerate anymore. It’s not something I want my nieces to have to tolerate when they grow up. It’s not something I want to happen.

I can’t say anything to the men in my past who’ve made me feel cheap, gross or uncomfortable, but I can in the future. I think that’s the important part her video. Stop being silent about it.

Here’s to no longer tolerating things that shouldn’t have ever happened in the first place.

#OutThem

Day 34: You are what you eat.

Photo Credit: Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education at University of Toronto

Shy of the basics (eat 5-10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day, drink lots of water, etc…) I knew next to nothing about nutrition. Honestly, I just was someone who tended to eat what I wanted, even when I knew it wasn’t good for me.

I’ve always been a firm believer that you food should make you happy. Believing that food that was good for the body and food that was good for the soul were mutually exclusive, I avoided learning more about nutrition telling myself that I was feeding my soul instead.

The past six months I’ve learned a lot about nutrition. Despite what I previously believed, you can feed your body in a means that will allow it to run at max capacity without totally hating what you’re eating.

There’s no secret formula for this. There’s no ‘quick fix’ and there’s definitely no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to nutrition. It’s all about you, what you need to fuel your body and what you can eat to make yourself feel good.

Sure, the basics still apply: drink lots of water, eat a ton of vegetables, protein is good. But there’s much more too it than that.

Some basic suggestions when it comes to nutrition:

**Please be advised these are entirely my own opinions. If you disagree with them that is completely okay. As mentioned above, one size fits all is not realistic when it comes to nutrition and it’s perfectly normal for people to have differing opinions. I welcome any suggestions anyone wants to share.

  • Know what your purpose is with food. Are you eating for performance? Are you eating for survival? Are you eating for weight loss? What are your goals as far as your diet?
  • No one is going to know your body better than you are so ensure you’re properly educating yourself on what you need to achieve your own goals.
  • Make informed decisions. Don’t think that because your friend is having success on their diet plan that it’s going to work for you.
  • Protein is VERY IMPORTANT. Protein is a component of every cell in the body. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissue. It’s an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. And remember that not all proteins are created equal. Do your research when it comes to what protein will best suit your body and diet plan.
  • The less processed, the better. Whole foods will always bring more value to your body than processed food. That being said, be your own chef. For example: instead of buying the pre-packaged oatmeal with sweeteners and artificial flavours already in it – buy plain oats and sweeten them yourself. If you know what goes into your food you know what you’ll get out of your food.
  • Educate yourself on what the benefits are of the food you’re eating. Kale is a superfood, but why? Learn what the benefits are of the food you’re choosing to eat.
  • Try to skip the caffeine at night. Your sleep will thank you.
  • Learn where you have a food intolerance. Pay attention to your body and how it reacts to what you’re eating. This is something that I’ve been avoiding for the better majority of my life, but when I stopped to take a look at how my body reacted to different foods, it made a world of difference to cut certain things out. There’s more than just lactose intolerance out there. People can have an intolerance to all sorts of different foods and if you don’t pay attention you may never realize it.
  • Keep a food journal! This helps in big ways if you’re really trying to make a difference in your health and what you’re eating. Listing the foods you eat on each day and how your body reacted to it will help you better plan your meals for future.

Anyways, I’m not an expert by any means. Just a girl trying to get more out of life and feel more energized day-to-day. Being more informed about my food choices has opened up a world that I didn’t quite know existed up until last year.

Food plays a massive role in who you are and how you function. I’ve been learning that in a big way the past six months. Here’s to a healthier me in 2019.