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Travel: The Ultimate Personal Development Tool

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man sitting on a mountain while traveling
With the explosion of websites, podcasts, and conferences teaching you how to improve your life (this one being no exception), it’s clear many of us want to become a better version of ourselves. We all want to be the person we imagine we could be if given just the right circumstances.

We want to learn more languages.

We want to be less awkward in social situations.

We want to eat better.

We want to read more.

We want to work out more.

We want to travel more.

We want to be more active.

We want to be more independent.

The list goes on and on!!

So often we go through life without really thinking about where we are heading. One day turns into the next and all those things we desire to do and become seem to pile up while we look for the perfect day to start.

Over the last year, I’ve had my ups and downs and have been working hard to make changes to my life. It takes a lot of work to change. Even one or two changes to change your life requires concentrated effort and persistence. But to make a hundred changes? That is biting off more than you can chew. No one has the mental energy or time to do that.

That’s why most new year’s resolutions fail. We create a long list of things to accomplish in the new year but, in the end, most of us give up, overwhelmed by all we want to do.

So when people tell me all the ways they want to improve their lives, my advice to them is to travel for one simple reason:

Travel solves a plethora of self-improvement goals in one fell swoop.

Picture this: You’ve booked a flight to Kiev. You don’t speak Ukrainian or Russian. And, to top it off, you’re going alone. You land in Kiev. Now, you have to navigate signs in a different language, ask people who probably don’t speak your language well for directions (maybe pantomime and point at maps indicating where you want to go), get to your hostel, make friends in the dorm (no one wants to be alone), and get around and sightsee the city during your stay.

By the time you leave, you’ve learned how to communicate even when you don’t speak the language, figured out how to navigate an unknown place, learned to turn strangers into friends, learned how to be independent, and solved a slew of problems that came up as you made your way around a foreign country.

During one trip, you got better at communication, problem solving, languages, social situations, and improved your confidence in your ability to do new things and handle unexpected situations.

Why? Because you had to. You had no other choice.

And you didn’t even know you were doing it.

People always ask me about the moment I realized I “changed.” While there are moments in your life that ripple through the years, for me, there was no single instance that I can point to that turned me from a shy introvert who never traveled to someone able to plop down in any city, find my way, and turn strangers into friends. It was a process that happened slowly over time.

Before I set out on my first trip around the world, I had never really lived outside my state, hadn’t traveled much, had a small group of friends, and had only been in one relationship.

I was a nerdy introvert. While the old parts of me are still there (I’ll still gravitate towards my friends at a party rather than talk to someone I don’t know), it’s become a lot easier for me to talk to new people when there’s no one familiar around. While I still run through all the “what ifs” when I get on a plane to a new destination, when I land I hit the ground running (and wonder why I was ever worried in the first place).

Traveling forced me out of my routine. It helped me become independent, take more risks, be ok with change, get better with people, learn more, and be more versatile.

Travel is not some panacea. The baggage you have comes with you on the road. There is no place far enough away to escape your problems. But what travel does is give you the space to be someone else and improve your life. It allows you to say “What would the new me do?” and then do it – without worrying that someone you know might notice. It puts you into situations that force you to better yourself. It won’t instantly solve your problems — only you can do that — but at least, on the road, you have a clean slate to try.

As the new year approaches and you create your list of resolutions, cross them all off, and just write one down: to travel alone more.

It is the ultimate way to become a better, more confident you.

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Travel

Moving To A Job For A 6 Or 12-Month Contract: Tips To Succeed

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Working full-time at a company for years simply is not for everyone. There are those people with great skills that prefer to work on a contract basis. This could be for a year or for 6 months depending on the need of the client. The best aspect of contract work is that hours over 40 per week can be charged at a high rate. This will help reduce the chances of being asked to work a long weekend as it will be very expensive for the company. The truth is that you are not obligated outside of your 40 hours per week to do anything else. Below are tips to help you succeed when you are constantly taking on new contracts in various parts of the country.

Remote Roles Are Superior

The truth is that as a contractor you likely will want to find a remote role. Relocation can come with a number of issues and a multitude of stress. The one variable to consider is that some contractors take jobs in new locations so they can explore the country. The number of remote roles is exploding as so many people are refusing to head back to the office. The pandemic showed companies and professionals that they could maintain productivity while working at home. The convenience led some professionals to vow to never return to a traditional work environment. 

Moving To A New City 

Moving to a new city for a contract can be a blast as you have a certain amount of time that you will be there. You will likely try to find a rental but purchasing furniture is not something that would be considered a good investment. Furniture rental is likely the best option if you do not want to have to deal with moving furniture across the country when you get another contract. You want to get the most out of living in your new city which likely does not include going shopping for furniture. Take the time to look into all of your options for lodging as well as what part of a city that you would like to live in. 

Be Realistic About Your Workload

Contractors can be taken advantage of by some companies as there is very little recourse for them. With this being said, there are contracts that will pay contractors through the entire contract even if they are terminated. You want to be paid on the same level as people that are just as productive as you. Being supremely productive might just lead to more work. You want to thrive in a new contract role without setting expectations far too high to sustain for the entire duration of the contract. 

The ability to get new contracts regularly that pay well provides ultimate convenience. The ability to take a few months off after a contract allows you to rejuvenate mentally. Use the tips above so you will never have an issue finding a new contract due to the great reputation you have built. 

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Don’t Break The Bank When You Travel

Check out these great money saving tips so you don’t go broke taking your next vacation. 

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There’s really no way around it: traveling is expensive. On top of the obvious charges like flights and hotels, there will always be the little daily expenses that you didn’t fully prepare for when you were preparing for your trip. But the last thing you want to do is just not think about it and throw money around like a madman. There are definitely still ways to save money while traveling. And here they are!

THE TUESDAY RULE

I have to admit, I didn’t even really know about this “rule” before I started writing this article. But, for the most part, the cheapest flights of the week are almost always on a Tuesday. So, if you can, try to schedule all your flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This can dramatically lower the cost of your vacation.

DON’T BOTHER WITH HOTELS

Thanks to rental services like Airbnb and VRBO the hotel industry has really taken a hit. And prices have gone way up because of it. So, no matter how bad we may feel about their declining business, they’re just not the best option anymore. You can find a great deal with all the service and amenities you need from one of the vacation rental sites. There are even a few sites that deal in “house-swapping” where you basically just stay in each other’s homes during simultaneous vacations and don’t have to pay a thing!

BOOK DIRECTLY THROUGH THE AIRLINE

Many of the flight booking sites like Expedia or Travelocity actually don’t offer as many options as are available to you if you book through the airline. There are other services like Google Flights and Skyscanner that find the cheapest flights being offered by the airlines, and then you can just contact the airline yourself and book those specific flights. It’s a little extra work, but it can end up saving you more money than you think.

A LITTLE SPONTANEITY NEVER HURT ANYONE

Sure, doing your homework and planning ahead can most certainly help you save money on a vacation. But sometimes there are last minute deals made available when airlines are just trying to fill out their flights. So if you have a favorite airline, sign up for the mailing list. This way you’ll know when they are offering really cheap flights. And if you’re in the mood to just get out town regardless of where you’re going, this is a really cheap and fun option.

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8 Reasons to Rent a Car for Your Next Vacation

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8 Reasons to Rent a Car for Your Next Vacation

Vacation is the time to relax and leave your normal day-to-day worries behind. The last thing you want is to stress out over your transportation.

Whether you’re traveling near or far, there are fine reasons to rent a car rather than drive your own vehicle or depend on public transit. Here are a few:

1. Save wear on your own car.

Depending on how far you travel, driving will add a lot of miles on your car. You might as well wear out someone else’s vehicle instead of your own.

Plus, if your own car is old or in bad condition, renting one could help you avoid potential road trouble. Rental cars are highly reliable because they are usually newer models and kept in top shape.

So no matter where you go, you can be fairly confident you won’t get stuck on the side of the road.

2. Save money.

If your car eats a lot of fuel, you might save a lot on gasoline by driving a rental. They’re typically fuel-efficient because they are newer models. And you might be surprised to learn you could save around 15% by booking a rental car at the last minute!

3. Travel safely.

Another reason to choose a rental car over other modes of transportation is safety. Think about it.

In a taxi, you’re relying on another driver. Aboard a train, bus, or subway line, you’re packed into a tight space with many other people. It’s better to be in control of the wheel.

If you drive your own car, and it’s older or already has issues, you run the risk of your car malfunctioning and causing an accident. Rentals are much more reliable because they’re well maintained.

That said, if you’re ever involved in a car crash, make sure to consult an experienced auto-accident attorney. He or she will help you file any insurance or legal claims and make sure you arrive at the best resolution.

4. Drive more comfortably.

Rental cars are kept squeaky clean, so they feel like brand-new vehicles. This will make your travel much more comfortable, compared to your own vehicle, which may be dirty– or at best, cluttered.

You can also choose a car to rent that you wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to drive. Maybe a nice Mercedes Benz or a new Audi.

This is a great way to test-drive nice cars to see what they feel like. And it’s way better than cramming into a subway car or a bus.

5. Show off your ride.

Rental cars not only feel nice on the inside; they also look good on the outside. This means you can drive in style and make a good impression wherever you go. Just be sure you always lock the doors and keep your valuables out of sight, so nobody is tempted to break in!

6. Keep a flexible schedule.

Renting a car means you can come and go as you please. No need to hail a taxi or wait on a bus; just drive when you feel like it.

If you have a full itinerary, it’s faster to get from place to place with a rented vehicle than by relying on public transportation. You’ll have more time for sightseeing and getting in all you want to.

7. Enjoy more privacy.

In a rental car, you can have your own space. You don’t need to worry about strangers listening in on your conversations or making you feel uncomfortable. Travel with privacy.

8. Carry your luggage more easily.

Finally, transferring your luggage between buses, trains, and subways can be a pain. When you have your own rental, you can keep your stuff in your trunk wherever you go. It’s much less hassle and requires less energy.

The Bottom line

When you plan your next vacation, think about getting a rental car. It should make the experience more enjoyable, and that’s what vacation is all about.

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