So how do I make travel affordable?

This movie, her character, Shah rukh’s wisdom has been anthem to last several years. What women go through.

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Ok friends, let me let you in on a little secret. shhh.

Well, what is a secret anyway? I think there is a joy in sharing knowledge and experience, so in today’s blog entry, I will write about how I make traveling the world affordable. People always ask me, or “tell me, but it is too expensive?!” blah blah blah.

Here is a recap on my childhood. I am part of an immigrant family that moved to this country when I was only 7 years old. We had a decent life in India, spent my childhood playing with friends, running on the streets, etc. Cannot complain. After moving to this country though, we struggled, a lot. I struggled to fit in as a child who had to learn English all of a sudden, but I managed. I learned Spanish, Somali, Japanese in the process too with my new diverse friends. Our finances, however, were poor. We lived in a bad neighborhood with no safety. I grew up often sleeping on the floor or roll out bed. I shopped at the thrift store, and my family’s idea of dinner nights were at fast food places. We had no family vacations except the free passes we got to local amusement parks from my dad’s job. My mother and father worked double shifts day and night to make ends meet while supporting family in India. I grew up in a tiny apartment with gunshots in the neighborhood, and girls being stalked, robberies, and kids being kidnapped. I grew up not feeling safe in my own neighborhood or home. I got my 1st job at 15 years of age at the school store through personal finance class where I was proud of the $5 per hour wage. I skipped lunch to work, and starved many days. That work ethic never left me. I saw and lived struggle, from harassment to lack of money. My parents could not even afford a house for their family growing up because of this struggle. I envied my friends who lived in houses and I would sleepover and have slumber parties, things little girls love to do! Our UNO and card games, secrets, and pillow fights. I learned to work hard and be my own hero, and learned to value and put my family first. Money was never a reward, instead, I knew if I worked hard, God would give me the money I need and more. I used my 1st paycheck after I turned 18, since I could not do this before 18, to sponsor a girl child in India to get her education. I, myself, growing up poor, knew that giving is the real means of life. Someone always has it worse than you. That childhood, taught me to be the financially savvy woman that I am today. I learned habits and tricks to stretch every dollar or rupee and travel the world for cheap, and free sometimes. I make every dollar work for my advantage, and that of my friends, as I have given my friends free flights too with my reward points.

My life goal is not to be a millionaire. I hate expensive things and materialism. I like simplicity and this less is more. I love walking around in gym clothes, and hate designer clothes. I do not like jewelry, Gold, or silver. I do not waste my money on these things. Instead, I save. I use coupons, and credit cards with travel rewards. The two best travel reward cards out there are Capital One Venture One AND Chase Sapphire. With these, I manage to get free flights, to Mexico, other US states, and free hotel stays. I also got travel expenses reimbursed from my trips to India, South America, Europe. If I spend $1000 on a trip, I somehow get 10-20% back in the long run through these points and miles. I have been upgraded for free in world class airlines such as Emirates from Economy to 1st class due to my miles. It is all about accumulating miles. If I know I have a big purchase coming up, I use the card which will give me more points for every dollar spent. People spend extra money to stay in fancy hotels and traveling excursions, while I find deals and bargain. When I was in Cozumel Mexico, I bargained the cost of zip-lining down to what I thought was OK. Some cases, if I know local people need this money, I will give it to them, but for large corporations or for-profit, I have no mercy. I have a NGO and non-profit mentality. I spent my 1st year as a nurse volunteering for free in India, but it was the best year of my life. Money does not buy happiness; experiences do.

Credit card miles and points are great and all, but also keep up to date with coupons. I recently bought an electric toothbrush for $3, which was originally $8. I used a reward bucks with the local pharmacy and multiple discount codes. I have bad allergies, and know when I will be running out of medications, so I am sure to save up coupons and has HSA aka health savings account to bridge the gap between insurance and high deductible out of pocket costs. Some things are more expensive than they need to be in this country, unfortunately, even healthcare providers have medical bills and expenses and poor insurance coverage. Having a health savings account comes in handy and is very valuable for today’s times. I also have had phases without insurance, and that is when I had gotten Pneumonia and was very sick. I, myself a healthcare provider, treating others daily, had no insurance for 3 months during my new job, and had so many out of pocket costs. I used my old HSA card from previous job and GoodRx app discounts to pay $0 for all of my medications.

Many things are not fair in life. We are not given what we want so God can teach us to grow and turn ourselves into the best version of ourselves. I grew up without vacations, but now travel the world. I grew up shopping at the thrift store, including buying my interview outfit from there for my 1st Nurse practitioner job, to traveling the country for medical conferences being in a room learning from highly intelligent and caring colleagues of physicians, NPs, and PAs. I went from being shy and timid being a victim of harassment and stalking, to standing up for women in the workplace against workplace harassment and any man that tries to control me or display signs of abusive behavior. Money is just money, it will come and go, but our own strength and wisdom, street smarts, and book smarts, knowledge and experience, will help us conquer life. The value of $1 is that of 1 million for me, and will always be, and 1 million dollars, will mean nothing to me. Money never excites me. Adventure does. Growth does. Deep intellectual conversations about life does.

 

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