So how do I make travel affordable?

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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.

 

La fin dia en Costa Rica

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Last day in Costa Rica. Rico indeed. Rico means beutiful or very good! I learned that word in Colombia during my 2 months South America backpacking trip earlier this year. I use rico to compliment people and food especially when eating out or someone’s cooked meals. Speaking of which, I am staying at a 1915 vintage style hotel called Hotel 1915. I can say that as I am leaving, or else I would never mention name. It is across a police station too! I think this hotel is so cute and elegant! Simple yet rustic. My style. I love the yellow lights, high wooden ceilings, old fashioned doors. The breakfast was free, included technically. Heart healthy! Fruits, orange juice, coffee, fried plantains, and gallo pinto, traditional bean and rice breakfast dish of Costa Rica! Muy rico! My goal is to learn the recipe. I always make it a point to recreate the dishes I fall in love with when traveling such as bean soup of Colombia, potato soup of Ecuador, and now this! A taste of my travels shall stay with me through food and memories. Yesterday, I roamed around until it got dark. After I arrived at Alajuela bus station by the airport from La Fortuna, 4.5 hour bus ride, I called uber using my app. I use uber a lot. It is safer than taxis as it tracks my whereabouts. Crazy story: As I was getting off of the big bus, the lady, solo travelinh with her child, in seat next to mine had a toddler and luggage, so I was like necesita ayuda? I helped her carry her bags so she can carry her son off the bus. Women’s code. Somehow, I bond with women and children all over the world. It is like we have a secret code to look after eachother! Anyway, we got off of the back door, so I did not get to ask the conducter to get out my backbag from the bus storage on the side of the bus. He closed the doors soon as th lady, little boy, and I got off. I ran to the front of the bus and knocked on the door vigorously screaming disculpame. He opened the door, an I was like necesita mi monchilla. I need my backbag. The conducter/driver finally got off the bus to open the storage to get my bag. Close call! I keep nothing valuable in my bookbag anyway. I am a light packer and literally carried my bag on my lap on the bus ride to la Fortuna. Therefore, missed luggage does not bother me, a seasoned traveler. Anyway, then uber driver dropped me to hotel. I just needed by clothes and allergy meds, but I could have bought that in town if needed. I later walked around town to find a good restaurant. Some tex mex with local and central/south American cuisine. Very international and local fusion. It was soo good! I got free desert too! I was so tempted to get Colombian Arepas that I love so much! Instead, I went with enchiladas which were good too! I miss Colombian food! Colombia is one of my fav countries in the world! I made so many friends and memories there! The Colombian cuisine is mouth watering! Costa Rica is very nice too! Each place has it’s own charm and beauty. My backpack is packed and ready to catch uber to airport! Chiao! It is always sad saying goodbye to a new place that starts to feel like home. A piece of traveler’s heart is left in every place he or she lives in. This is not a vacation for me, instead, it is a life lesson and real world education. New streets, food people, finding my way, local public transport, navigating, climbing, hiking, ziplining, rapelling, so many lessons learned. Journey of personal growth. There is no problem that does not have a solution. Anything is possible if one believes. Travel taught me that as a solo female navigating the world on her own, funding her travels and time wisely to make these adventures possible! Si se puede! Yes you can!

Hasta Luego La Fortuna y el Volcan

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Screenshot_20181209-083003_Samsung Experience HomeI am so thankful and grateful for what life has given me! The girl who grew up without family vacations, saw Disney only on Disney channel, and too shy, is now metamorphised into a world traveler in the last decade. My youth has been filled with adventure and travels, for education, work, volunteering, and leisure! I am blessed! I do not wait to live life until retirement as tomorow is never guaranteed. Costa Rica has been so lovely and welcoming. I got to know locals. Now, I have to say bye to La Fortuna, cute little town with volcano backdrop! The history of the volcano and town is fascinating! I have to come back.in the future, so much more to explore! At the zipliping company yesterday, I met such kind locals and travelers. I met a sweet rescue dog that was starving for love and affection. I used to scared of animals, but now, I pet cats and dogs, hold snakes.. Travel has made me grow so much! It teaches lessons and opens one’s mind beyond any book. Once a mind is open, it cannot go back to previous closed minded ignorance. Travel is antidote to ignorance. I also went to local park last night after having local choco ice cream, yummy! I love chocolate times 1000000, and Costa Rica is known for great chocolate plantations! I got some off farm for me! I also live off of hot choco here! The 4 traveler guys on my ziplining shuttle bus asked me if I was a consultant, for traveling since I book last min and travel so much for cheap and make it work with my busy work schedule! I was like, no, just my hobby! One of them was a solo traveler like me who travels alone and stays in hostels, an Indian. Very rarely I meet Indian solo travelers. Again, closed mindedness by parents limiting their grown adult children to not live their lives. I broke out of those shackles long ago! My amazing family is never shocked when I travel solo now! They kno how much of travel and adventure is therapy for me and my busy life. Travel is therapy, and I need my regular dose to keep me happy and at peace. I also met amazing tour guides who were so kind. I got stuck on two ziplines. One of them got back out on zipline to pull me to the tree house since I was having hard time pulling my body back with hands. It is a workout! One of the tour guides was saying how a man was planning a proposal for his girlfriend there, and they were setting up flowers at the ziplining place! It was soo sweet! These people won my heart! They truly care about strangers like myself who travel for mere days, yet they leave an lasting impression on me with their kindness and helping others! Beautiful souls! My career leads to burnout fast as you spend all day caring for others, and get mistreated sometimes, and you get no time to care for yourself, mind, body, soul. Travel is soul food! Happy Travels! It is raining! Got to pack soon, want to go to local iglesia aka church and head out of town! I have become friends with waiter at this cafe! I come here all the time!! I feel at home whereever I go in the world, as I learned to flexible and make most of every situation. Travel taught me to get out of my shell! It made me who I am! May be I should be a travel consultant! I love inpiring and motivating others! Young girls and other women look up to me when they hear my stories, and I strive to be a role model leading by example. Do not let status quo or dogma limit your goals and passions. On your death bed, no watch or car will be with you. Only your faith and memories of living ¬†fulfilled life will..

Solo travel teaches me…

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The kindness and hospitality I encountered during my solo travel trips is surreal. I say that as I encountered such hostility and entitelement with disrespect and harrasement in my own city in the states. I make instant friends on the road traveling abroad or other cities which gives me hope that there are kind people in the world. During my volunteer mission trips or free clinics, people who have so little in materialism or money, have so much to give in love and respect. I am met with opposite here where people with money, some, not all, have sense of entitlement and verbally abuse those trying to help them! Therefore, I am never impressed by money. Kindness is my mantra, yet not everyone lives by it. People told me out of ignorance that solo travel is dangerous and you are a woman! Blah blah. I have been showered with love traveling abroad alone, or with friends. I never met any danger or threats. Whereas in my city, the story is different, not to generalize. Not everyone is like that of course. I met many kind people here too. Regardless, travel teaches me that respect and kindness are virtues that cross cultures and nationalities. We are humans binded by string of humanity, so why this hostility? Travel teaches me there is ¬†a world out there, many, that welcome me as their own despite me being a traveler. Air bnb families taking me in to live like local, or hostel travel buddies I make every place I live. Travel never fails to teach me the beauty of life is in these human connections across boundaries. We are more alike then different. I say this as I cannot wait to meet the jungles and strangers to be new friends in central America once again! My Spanish and love for Latino culture will take me where I am met with kindness and love for humanity. Spread kindness wherever you go in life! Our footsteps and passing it forward will be our memoirs, not materialistic items. Solo travel or travel in general teaches me to be brave, courageous, “gutsy” as my female friends say, and assertive for what is right standing up for myself and others in life. I don’t face down in adversity as I climbed mountains with altitude sickness. I speak up and force ahead. One step at a time..