May 8, 2014

Vacation: Ready, Plan, Go!

My friends and coworkers know thatI love to travel, but I am starting to suspect that they think I am a closeted trust fund baby or possibly, Gordon Gekko in disguise. Why, you ask?

I am always planning international vacations.

Here are a few tips that I use to satisfy my exorbitant travel whims:
1. Think long-term.
I am able to travel to far-flung places, because I plan trips waaaaay in advance. I am talking years here. Time gives you the benefit to search for cheaper plane tickets, earn points or miles on credit cards, find deals on hotels and vacation rentals, learn more about your destination, reach out to locals for advice and ultimately, take longer vacations. Look at the calendar and pick a date that realistically represents the size of trip you would like to take. The first step is always the hardest, but once I commit to a date, the motivation to plan and save comes easy.
2. Enjoy the planning.
Read this. It is all true.
3. Save where it counts.
I work for a non-profit and, unfortunately, do not have a money tree in my backyard. Saving is hard, no matter which approach you take. I find that weighing everyday choices with travel goals in mind is the best way to turn a little into a lot. So, I make it a game: Starbucks on the way to work or café crème at a sidewalk café? Date night here or date night in [insert chic global city]. Netflix subscription or museum pass? Beer at the local bar or a rum punch on the beach? Splurging at Whole Foods or exploring a quaint outdoors market? Pretty quickly, you will realize that purchasing a thing in the here and now does not compare to investing in an experience later.
5. Don't play hooky.
I will go out on a limb here and guess that most of you do not hail from Austria, Brazil or France. These fine countries mandate that employers provide an average of 34 days of paid leave every year. What is the helpless American worker to do? Hoard your vacation days! Do you really want to take off work, because it's Spring and the weather is nice? Because you don't want to deal with your boss on Monday morning? Because you have writer's block and cannot face your deadline? NO! If you are a wanderluster like me, you would rather enjoy an island holiday, a stroll down a boulevard in Paris or do pretty much any activity in a foreign destination rather than one in your present location. Keep that in mind next time the idea to raid your vacation balance pops into mind.
6. Au revoir, adios, sayonara
The grand adventure you have always coveted is possible! It only boils down to motivation and a commitment to make it happen. A few little sacrifices add up to major benefits and they are all worth it!

May 6, 2014

Have a Happy Day; It's Good for You

Today's infographic is brought to you by I Love Charts, a dreamy website for graphic nerds, and Mother Nature Network

View larger image at Mother Nature Network

Bonus tip: whistle this three times to cure all that ails you.