Not afraid of what’s to come.

Normally people talk about having ups and downs in life. From my perspective, the past eight weeks of my life have had a lot of downs. I won’t lie, there has been a few good moments. But, it’s seemed as though the bad has far outweighed the good. For me, bad things don’t come in three’s, bad things come in eleven’s or twelve’s.

Nevertheless, life goes on and we must learn to deal with what is put in front of us. For me, for the first time in eight weeks, I am feeling hopeful. At least I think this is what hope is.

Today was a really good day. Nothing overly special happened, it was just a calm quiet Sunday. I think that’s why I liked it so much though. Calm and quiet are good things to have right now.

This week I will be getting some blood tests done to test for autoimmune diseases. I’m not afraid of being diagnosed with something. At this point, I would actually really like to be given a diagnosis. At least with a diagnosis, I could have proof that my symptoms aren’t in my head. Also, with a diagnosis, I could say ‘okay, this is what it is, lets work towards minimizing my symptoms and the toll it takes on me’. Wish me luck!

In other news, something really cool is happening this year that I haven’t really talked, or thought much about the past eight weeks. My two younger brothers are identical twins. This year, they’re having babies… just two months apart from each other. They’re going to become dad’s for the first time, right around the same time. I’m excited to see what the future holds for them, I am excited to meet the newest little additions to my family and I have been really enjoying shopping for adorable baby clothes for them. The babies will be technically both cousins and half-siblings (DNA of identical twins being the same). How cool is that?

This week I am determined to make farther steps to getting a new job. I’m tired of being unemployed. I don’t need work to feel as though I have a purpose, but I want to work to feel as though I am contributing to something. Furthermore, I want to travel so I need to work to save money. All things said, I NEED A JOB. Vee does not want to tolerate being unemployed any longer. I am a badass, intelligent human being with a university degree and ten year’s experience working PR for a massive organization. I CAN DO THIS. I CAN. (That was a pep talk to myself, in case it wasn’t clear)

It’s 8:30 on a Sunday night and I’m already considering curling up and calling it a night. Is this what being a grandma is like?

Rest easy, world.

Choosing to save your money for travel.

When you make the commitment to travel, you make a commitment to forgo other things in life in order to travel. At least, if you’re the majority of the population that’s the case. Some people are born independently wealthy (I’m jealous of you if you are/were) and don’t have to worry about saving money, but for the rest of us, the fact is, we have to plan if we’re going to see the world.

For me, the prospect of travel is an important one. I want to run away on my long weekends rather than staying home. I want to say that I’ve been to all of the continents and keep a running tally of all the countries I’ve visited. I want to collect tiny a vile of sand from every beach I visit. To do this, I knew I needed to get serious about my finances.

I’m quite lucky in that, in spite of not being employed presently, I still have a couple of trips on the docket for 2019. When you’re going to travel the world, here are some realistic tips for saving your money because, after all, it’s better to save your money to have more to spend there!

  • Meal Prep. Meal prep is helpful because it causes you to make use of the food that you already have. If you’re eating the food that you have prepped in your fridge already, you’re not going to be tempted to eat out – thus saving that money. Take that money you would have spent on your fast food dinner and put it in your piggy bank. Literally. Furthermore, if you’re meal prepping you’re making better use of the groceries that you purchase and therefore you will find your grocery bill going down each month.
  • Have a piggy bank. This one might sound weird, but it’s oddly motivating to see the money in your piggy bank grow. If you can get a clear piggy bank, that is the most motivation because you can see when you put those five, ten and twenty dollar bills in there. The more money that’s in your piggy bank, the more you’re motivated to fill it.
  • Automatic withdrawal from your pay cheque. When you get paid, set aside an amount of money that is automatically coming off the cheque. You’re not going to use it, you’re not going to spend it. It’s going towards your travel dollars. Whether it’s $20 per cheque or $100 dollars per cheque, telling yourself that you get zero access to that set amount every pay cheque can add up in a year.
  • Cut the luxuries. I’m talking about things like Netflix and Itunes Music and your subscription services. The average person has 3-4 of these, minimum, and if you cancel all of them that is hundreds of dollars in a year that you’re saving.
  • Don’t drink when you’re out. Going out to have alcohol, whether with your friends or your significant other, the markup on alcohol is ridiculous. If you like a nice glass of wine once in a while, do it with your friends at one of your home’s. You’re going to enjoy it more without the extra noise of a club or a bar, and, you’re going to save a lot of money when you’re not spending $14 on a glass of wine.
  • When you’re shopping – shop sales. I know this can sound awful to some people, but it can be really beneficial if you’re smart about the way you shop. We all have things we need in life, like a winter jacket or a new pair of shoes. Right now, on the North Face website you can purchase a winter jacket from last year’s collection for $125, rather than $500. This savings is solely because it’s last year’s coat. North Face jackets never go out of style, and honestly, no one’s going to know that it’s last year’s coat. Whereas you might have previously budgeted several hundred dollars for your winter jacket, you can now take that extra money and put it into your vacation fund, wear your new Northface coat and no one will be any the wiser.
  • Track your finances. This is the most important aspect of all. If you’re looking to save money for travelling, track your finances. Being able to see on paper, or an excel spreadsheet, where your money is being spent will help you to realize where you’re spending too much and where you can cut. After all, you are not going to become a millionaire over night, so, if you want to travel the world you need to know where you’re going to cut money from in order to put it into your travel budget.

As you’re saving for your trip and cutting money from other places in your budget, please remember for your own peace of mind that you need to treat yourself once in a while. Don’t cut everything from your life cold turkey in order to save for your trip, that will make you miserable. Buy yourself that chocolate bar on the day when you really need some chocolate. Just make sure that it’s a once in a while treat and not an every day treat.

Hopefully, if you’re smart about it, you’ll be sailing off into the sunset of a beautiful trip in no time. Because I am a firm believer that it’s far more important in life to collect experiences rather than things.

Go forth and travel the world.

Tips & tricks for smooth transitions through the airport.

As someone who’s been on a few thousand flights over the past 10 years, I’ve learned a few things about how to make the most annoying place on earth (aka the airport) as easy as possible when you need to get somewhere.

First and foremost – a very important thing to note – where at all possible, DO NOT BUY BLACK LUGGAGE. Everyone buys black luggage. If you want to identify yours when it’s coming down the conveyor belt, avoid the chance that random strangers will pull it off the belt thinking it’s their’s, or your luggage getting lost in general, don’t buy black luggage! Not to mention if your luggage does get lost the first thing they will ask you is “What does it look like?” If you say “Well it’s a black suitcase,” you’ll see the eyes roll. Everyone has black luggage.

As for the airport, here goes:

  1. Always check-in online. In this day and age where it costs for EVERYTHING, spending $50 for seat selection just seems like something I don’t want. But, here in Canada, you can check into your flights a full 24 hours early. And, if you’re one of the first people to check in, you’re assigned an aisle or window seat ahead of them assigning you a middle seat. So ALWAYS check-in online.
  2. Skip the jewelry when you’re getting dressed. (And belts) If it’s important to bring it, put it in a little baggy and slip it into your carry-on or suitcase. Then bring it out when the timing is right. By avoiding putting it on, you’ll avoid needing to take extra time in the security line taking it all off.
  3. Dress up to dress down. Combat boots are cute and all, but taking those bad-boys off to go through security to put back on immediately afterwards takes a considerable amount of time. Things like slip on shoes can, and will be, your best friend.
  4. Take a screenshot of your booking information/boarding pass. The screenshot on your phone will be a lot easier to access than trying to fumble through paperwork amidst everything else in your backpack/carry-on.
  5. Separate your electronics. This will make your time in the security line go much more smoothly and much faster.
  6. Figure out your liquids game before you get to the security line. Where at all possible, if you don’t have to bring liquids then don’t. But, if you must bring liquids, know the rules before you go. Don’t be that doh-head who needs their bag to get searched and have full-sized perfume and hand creams pulled out of it. I’ve seen a lot of times the TSA Agents be nice about this, but you can also get into a lot of trouble.
  7. Wear an item of clothing with a sports logo on it. This isn’t a certified fact, and I only do this in North American airports, but I have noticed on days when I am wearing certain jackets with sporting logos on them, the TSA agents will move me to the quicker line. Perhaps they like sports? Perhaps, they just think I’m some sort of coach and want to help me on my way. I’m not sure. But, when wearing the logo makes the security line shorter, I’m going to wear the logo.
  8. Bring an empty water bottle and fill it up inside of security. Buying water at the airport is no-bueno. I’ve paid upwards of $6.00 Canadian for a single bottle of water. Having a reusable water bottle with you can avoid a lot of unnecessary costs.
  9. Save your Starbucks rewards for the airport. It’s a well known fact of life that Starbucks costs 2-3 dollars more per drink when you’re at the airport. If you collect Starbucks rewards, save the free drinks for when you travel, for when you’re in the airport. And if you don’t collect Starbucks rewards, start collecting them. Seriously.
  10. When you’re travelling internationally add international data and roaming minutes to your cell phone plan. In the airport alone you can’t always rely on wi-fi in other parts of the world. If you’ve got the international data, you can still use your phone to help you get to where you need to be.
  11. Bring a phone charger. Always bring a phone charger. And, if you’re travelling internationally, bring a plug converter. You don’t want to find yourself in the Amsterdam airport, unable to speak the language, with a dead cell phone.
  12. Keep your money in your front pocket. Especially in busy airports, pickpocketing is a real issue. For guys that keep their wallets in their back pocket, put it in your front pocket while walking through the airport to avoid pickpocketing.
  13. Always arrive at your gate early. Why? Planes can leave early. I’s not a frequent occurrence, but they do leave early. You don’t want to be the doh-head that missed the flight because you were looking at overpriced magazines down the hall.
  14. Be kind. Don’t yell. Even when it’s frustrating. Even when someone pisses you off. You don’t want to find yourself in a foreign country where you cannot speak the language, with people unwilling to help you because you’ve been a tired, pissed off asshole. There was one instance in Frankfurt when the security guard was telling me to take off my shoe. I could not understand her because she was speaking German. Naturally, being Canadian, my response was “I’m sorry”. And then I said “English, English?” She called over the German police (at the time I was worried I was in trouble, but it turns out she was doing it because she knew they could speak English). The police officers were actually very kind to me. One of them told me I was very soft-spoken and told me thank you. Moral of the story – always be nice. Even when it’s annoying.
  15. Fly the flag. This is a big one, especially if you’re Canadian. Put a Canadian flag on your luggage, on your carry-on, on your backpack, etc… It’s a good conversation starter with strangers. There’s nothing cooler than striking up conversation with a badass human being half-way around the world and making your wait at the airport a little-less boring. And who knows, in this day of social media, perhaps you can stay in touch.