Tag Archives: Opinion

WHY OFFICE WORK IS OUT AND TRAVEL WORK IS IN

A few days ago, out of sheer curiosity for my own past – prompted by my love/hate relationship for Facebook memories – I decided to scroll through my own profile. I went deep. Scrolled past photos of friends who I haven’t seen in a while, funny videos I had shared, political articles, and a post about remote living. I stopped short. Around two years ago I has shared an article from Fast Company about co-living spaces for digital nomads. I remember at that point the idea of living a location independent lifestyle by working on my computer and being able to move around freely was the stuff of dreams. I thought travel while working usually required a company sending you out on business trips. I hadn’t realized that in out internet age, traveling freely while working, was not only for a selected few, but millions were already on this path.

Here we are in 2018 and I feel reconnected with that idea. I have become increasingly aware of the digital nomad lifestyle; and with that, I have also become aware of the fact that I am most definitely not alone. Today, 82% of millennials have said that they are more loyal to their boss if they have flexible work options. We are just not all wired for the 9 to 5 work schedule!  For example, at the time I write these words, it is 3:05 am in Los Angeles (where I currently reside). Not to say I normally find myself writing at 3 in the morning; but many creatives types find themselves in the night owl category.

The 9 to 5 work day was created to maximize efficiency at the time of the industrial revolution. The idea was: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation, and 8 hours of sleep. Makes sense. Thing is, the world in quite different today than it was at the peak of the industrial revolution, and we shouldn’t have to adhere to those norms. My internal clock most definitely does not want to adhere to those norms, and shouldn’t have to.

Fortunately for me, and for many entering the workforce today, the rules are changing, and they are changing fast. Companies are adopting the remote work philosophy, and there are many other companies that operate completely on a remote workforce. In fact, by around 2030, the Millennial majority will likely have done away with the 9-to-5 workday entirely.  Insert happy dance.

Photo by Nubia Navarro

This is exciting for many obvious reasons. To me, since travel and discovery are some of the things which most exhilarate me, I don’t want to just be able to control the hours I work, but to be free to choose my location. After all, many of us humans are still nomadic at heart, we have been nomads for 99% of our existence. Nomad lifestyle, count me in. It is not my desire however, to move locations every few weeks, but to be able to see the world without being limited to an office space; and by having to waste another hour on commute to the office where I would sit on my laptop and use the internet.

My generation wants to get to know the world outside of a two week allotted vacation time. We are making it happen. There are more and more companies each year that are born based off of that desire. Companies like Roam, WiFly, Remote Year, and Hacker Paradise cater to digital nomads. Some are designed to help people jump-start their digital nomad career, others are for more established remote workers.

As of now, the future seems promising, and I am excited for that seed that was planted in my head over two years ago. Even though it has taken me until now to start searching for real solutions and ways to accomplish it, I am certain it will happen for myself, or any of my fellow wannabe citizens of the world.

Cheers!

Would love to hear your thoughts! Anyone else a digital nomad?

The New Way to Plan Your Trip To Brazil

It was winter in Boston. Cold, windy, icy, oh yeah… and I was diligently going to class every day, freezing my hand because I just had to hold a cup off skinny vanilla latte in my hand even if I didn’t have gloves on – I was always losing my gloves. The decision had been made, I was going to Brazil for spring break. Sao Paulo to be exact. I dreamed of escaping the February snow and arriving in the tropical Brazilian city. I had worked out the numbers, all I had to pay for was the occasional meal and my plane ticket. I was staying in my friend’s home in Sao Paulo, therefore I was getting to travel like a local, with a local. Perfect. I’ll soon be clubbing in Sao Paulo, beachin’, shopping, and eating pao de queijo (my mouth waters just thinking about it).

After all of that imagining, daydreaming, and talking about my plans, I unknowingly convinced my roommate Patricia to join me that week. I was excited. I never thought she would come with me, and my Brazilian friend was happy to accommodate us both. We would have such an amazing time! Right? For the first time, my Venezuelan passport afforded me an advantage over Patricia’s American passport. I could freely travel to Brazil without the need for a visa. Patricia, could not. She had to pay a 160 dollar fee for a tourist visa, and go through all of the bureaucratic pain of waiting. Waiting in a line, waiting for approval, waiting, waiting, waiting. I understand that quite well, after all, that is the process I had to go through when changing my status here in the United States, or visiting for that matter. Quite annoying.

Photo by Raique Rocha

We were two weeks away from our trip and Patricia was scrambling to figure things out. Guess what happened. It was too much of a pain to go to Brazil, she went to Puerto Rico instead. Where Patricia happens to be from. I went to Brazil, and did all of the things I mentioned. Although I did quite a bit more clubbing than I expected.

Even though the application process to travel to Brazil with a United States passport is complicated, and I imagine it turns away a few tourists from countries requiring visas; turns out, Americans still represent the second largest source of tourists for the South American nation. The first being neighboring Argentinians.

It seems Brazil is aiming to boost its tourism. In a smart move, the country created an electronic visa program. Now tourists can apply to their visa online. An E-Visa; which costs 40 dollars. Quite a difference from the 160 dollar fee. Since Brazil implemented this earlier in the year, it has seen an increase of 80% in visa applications for Americans. Not too shabby.

Of course, there are still quite a few people that would like to see the visa waived. Why is it that with my Venezuelan passport or most European passports there is no need for a visa? Simple: Brazil has a reciprocity clause. If you require it of them, they will require it of you.

Since I went to Sao Paulo I haven’t felt the need to return. If I needed to go through the process of getting I visa, I wouldn’t even think about it. The city reminded me of my own tropical city of Caracas. Maybe a tad less dangerous and a lot bigger – but the feel of the place was the same, and the temperature felt the same. Maybe one day I’ll go back and explore Rio and it’s beaches. For now, the world is quite big and I can always visit somewhere else. Brazil is working on becoming a friendlier destination for tourists who need visas. Perhaps other countries should take their cue from them.

Cheers!

Would love to hear your thoughts!

U by Uniworld, Cruising for a Younger Crowd

I haven’t been on a cruise ship in years. I always enjoyed them but I have found to prefer local discovery, while enjoying great accommodations and locally-inspired food. I like to feel as if I am part of the city I’m visiting, instead of an outsider looking in. Even though cruising can be incredibly fun, the journey was more about the cruise than the spots we were visiting. Oh, and anyone my age was definitely in the minority.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon the name U by Uniworld. You guessed it, it’s a cruise. A river cruise to be exact. I have never taken a river cruise, nor have I even thought about it. Which is exactly why these two 120 passenger ships exist: to bring in an audience strictly from the ages of 21 to 45 (sorry mom!).*

I needed to know more, so I went on a binge of information; on which I found that the two ships are respectively named A and B. Beautiful and original right? I think it’s charming, in a way. The A travels through central Europe, visiting cities like Amsterdam, Budapest, and Cologne. The B, with a sleek black exterior, offers a Parisian experience, exploring the Seine – perfect for a foodie.

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What. A. View. 😍 #TravelforU 📷: @bystephwu

A post shared by U by Uniworld (@ubyuniworld) on

Other than the fact that only a certain age group can get onboard, the main difference I have found, one which appeals to me the most: the local experience. The ship takes you through major and trendy cities, and lets you explore like a local. Nights out clubbing in the city are included. What? Yes, that hasn’t happened in any ship I have boarded before.

Let’s not forget about the fact that apparently, if you are a foodie, you will be very happy with the food onboard. Given that each meal is uniquely inspired by the places the ships are sailing through. I am sold. I am sold. I am sold. Oh yeah, and there are rooftop yoga classes, and mixology classes on board. I am sold again.

U by Uniworld opens with its first public trip this April 2018. So there is still time to be one of the first passengers. I wish I could go this year! Maybe next, but it’s definitely on my bucket list. I am all for river cruising now.

Cheers!

Elizabeth

Would love to know what you think! Leave me a comment below or contact me!

*Since writing this article, the company has removed the age restriction

Airbnb’s Growing Pains and Luxury Travel

It seems like Airbnb is growing up, just like brands usually do… or, well, people.

My parents like to travel in style. They prefer to stay in hotels where all their needs will be met. They will most definitely not stay in a stranger’s home. Luxury hotels are usually a preferred choice. Who can blame them? On the other hand, I – aka their millennial daughter – don’t mind other accommodations as long as they allow me to stay in the city I want to visit.

There is a little caveat to that; if I can stay in a luxury accommodation, I most certainly will. I love a good hotel! And even though I have thought about it plenty of times, I have actually never stayed in an Airbnb. For someone who loves to travel so much, sometimes I can’t even believe I haven’t tried it yet.

It shouldn’t surprise you though, because apparently, most millennials will rather stay in a hotel as well; with Airbnb being an option after exhausting the possibility of a full-service hotel or staying with family. In fact, only 23% of millennials polled in a study by Resonance Consultancy said they prefer staying in an apartment/condo short-term rental.

Airbnb wants to shed the idea that they mainly cater to couch-traveling solos (which is definitely an exciting way of traveling, but not for everyone). Now they want to appeal to market niches like family vacation and business travelers. They are expanding into the luxury space with Beyond Airbnb and Airbnb Plus. They are growing up essentially. I understand. I am also beginning to crave traveling mostly in luxury, just like many people my age.

Photo by Chevanon

Will that mean a change for Airbnb? Will their brand and what they represent change? Perhaps. Their goal is to become a one-stop-shop for travel (including booking airfare). They have a long way to go though, most luxury travel agents still don’t trust booking their clients on Airbnb, even their luxury properties. It’s a bit of an uphill battle but they will have to prove themselves, let’s see how this goes.

What do you think of Airbnb? I would love to know. Comment below or contact me!

Documentary Review: “A World Not Ours”

“The old will die and the young will forget”

These are the words attributed to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. He was referring to Palestinian refugees and assuring his fellow Zionists that Palestinians would never try to return to their homes.

In the documentary film “A World Not Ours,” filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel shows us that this statement is certainly untrue. The young Palestinians are now old refugees and they still hold on to the idea that Palestine will once again be their home. The young Palestinians however, are trapped in a sort of limbo. Being stateless is their lifestyle, and they only become nationals of a country when the FIFA World cup comes around every four years.

Fleifel’s film is sentimental and takes a very different approach to documenting the refugee crisis. A very personal approach given that some of his own family is still trapped within one kilometer of Ain el-Hilweh; the refugee camp home to over 70 thousand people in the south of Lebanon.

Ain el-Hilweh, Palestinian refugee camp housing over 70 thousand refugees

“To me, going to Ain el-Hilweh was better than going to Disneyland” remarks Fleifel in a voice-over. He says that it took him years to realize that the people in the camp were not there by choice. Through old home footage of children playing football in the streets, and celebrating the FIFA World Cup, he outlines his skewed childhood views and contrasts them with footage of the Palestine-Israeli conflict and the disillusionment of those who are trapped at the camp.

He interviews his friends, uncle, and grandfather, which in turn humanizes the faceless statistics about the plight of the refugees. His friend Abu-Eyad puts our everyday conflict into perspective, when he remarks that he would like to “go on a mission’ and blow himself up, because he sees no future for himself – trapped in a place where his everyday life has absolutely no meaning.

Abu-Eyad in his home, in Ain el-Hilweh

“Palestinians really fucked us over, I wish Israel would just massacre us all…” says Abu-Eyad while contemplating his future.

This film was filled with contrasts. The music was upbeat, yet the feeling inside the camp was one of helplessness. Is this how human life should work? They belong to no state so they are not allowed to live a fruitful life? The immediate answer should be no. That is not however, how thousands upon thousands of refugees view their life. Just like Abu-Eyad, they see no future, and they see no meaning.

You can watch the trailer here. Also, don’t hesitate to comment, or contact me to let me know what you think!

Documentary Review: “Thank You For The Rain”

Good documentaries connect you with the world; they bring you another perspective, or perhaps transport you into the past.

Thank You For The Rain” takes us to a small village in Kenya, where Kisilu Musya is attempting to organize his community to become more empowered in the drought that faces them, by planting trees to bring in the rain.

Musya’s wife in Kenya. Photo taken from “Thank You For The Rain.”

The documentary was directed by Julia Dahr, a Norwegian filmmaker who after meeting Kisilu, is drawn by his enthusiasm and drive to make a change. After asking Musya if she document him and his family for a month, she accepts an unconventional request: to share the camera with him. Kisilu is not exactly an experienced cinematographer, but through his lens, the message of the documentary is even clearer: the problem of climate change is not a theoretical one, it is an everyday man problem.

We begin by seeing Kisilu’s village facing a drought that is severely affecting farming; forcing other farmers in the community to seek other work. Kisilu’s family struggles with making ends meet, and his son is sent back from school because the tuition had not been paid. Despite the trouble, the farmer remains optimistic that the rain will come.

“Everything is being contradicted”

The village starts seeing signs of rain and are happily expecting the first teardrop. Soon the rain comes, and flood comes with it. Kisilu’s home loses its roof and trees fall due to the storm of rain. Yet, the farmer uses this obstacle to remove the apathy of his village towards climate change, and drive them to action by spearheading a tree planting campaign.

Kisilu Musya in kenya organizing his community. Photo taken from “Thank You For The Rain.”

Through his activism, Kisilu gets invited to Norway, to speak among climate activists. Where he learns about the European lifestyle, sees snow for the first time, and is amazed at the living conditions Norwegians manage through such difficult weather. He goes back to Kenya with a new sort of enlightenment, with the idea of bringing European effectiveness and organization to his hometown. There, his activism becomes his sole purpose.

Shortly thereafter, the Climate Change Summit takes place in Paris, and Musya is thrilled to receive an invitation to speak at the United Nations where world leaders are making decisions. His initial excitement quickly turns to frustration when he realizes most leaders who are there to “fight climate change,” will only do something to fight the problem just as long as it does not interfere with their economic endeavors. Tensions are high in the climate summit, and disagreements between leaders result in a climate agreement that is disappointing to most climate activists. Especially Kisilu, who goes back to Kenya still determined to put in efforts every single day to improve his community.

Dahr perfectly captures the farmer’s strength and resilience of spirit; and the message is clear to anyone who loves this planet. Even if you go at it alone, you must put in effort every day to save it.

You can watch the trailer here!

Kisilu Musya at COP21 Summit about to speak in front of policymakers. Photo taken from “Thank You For The Rain.”

Traveling at 15, a better version of the Quinceañera?

Every place has a different rite of passage, whether its a simple thing like your first drink, your first date, prom, or a more elaborate moment like a debutante’s ball, or a Quinceañera party.  Many of us go through different rites of passage, and they all have different effects, different weights on our soul, mind, and heart; but for many of us, there is none quite as powerful as our first trip abroad.

“People don’t take trips, trips take people” – Anonymous

If we are open to it, even a short term trip can change our perspective. Change who we are; push our limits and drive us to discover new horizons. It’s no wonder many people feel the need to travel to “find themselves.”

It is tradition in many Latin American countries to have a Quinceañera or “Fiesta de Quince Años,” when a girl turns fifteen. Historically speaking, turning fifteen meant a girl became a young woman. She was not a child anymore, and she could be presented to society; which in many cases meant she was ready for marriage. Of course, even though the meaning has changed over time, the celebration remains. For over half a century, there is another form of celebration that takes place not in the shape of a party, but of an excursion.

The tradition (if we can call it that) has been embraced quickly enough that most girls in the position to take the trip, choose to travel with new and old friends and neglect the party altogether.

Many consider summer to be a time for freedom and discovery (myself included). There’s no better time to open your mind, and experience a different culture. The travel companies which organize these tours focus on having the girls (and most recently boys too) truly experience the countries visited. Not only through museums and monuments, but through history, food, and their ways of enjoying life.

In fact, this was a personal experience as well. Both my mom and I chose to not have the party when we turned fifteen; and instead, went on a trip for a month around different European cities, with other like minded girls.

There was a lot of time spent sitting on buses, hearing our tour guide explain the history of the place we were visiting. Some of the times we would even listen. Others we just dreamily looked out the window and hoped for an exciting adventure to come our way. We visited over 10 countries, most of which was traveled on the tour bus. Some of us had our first kiss with a Scottish guy in a club in Florence while dancing to Rihanna’s “Umbrella” song (some of us never even knew his name). Others experienced moments of solitude in a foreign land where no one spoke our language. We made friends. Got into fights. Lost weight as a result of walking around emblematic European cities (despite the fact of eating our weight in chocolate, bread, and pizza). And made unexpected connections with people of completely different cultures.

For most girls taking the trip, it’s the first experience traveling abroad without a family member to guide their actions. Even though the travel companies (like Protocolo) provide chaperones, it is a new found freedom which encourages a new outlook in life. Many of us came back with higher expectations for our lives. Desire for deeper meaning, and to one day go back and widen the experience even further.

For generations, this trips have been shaping the vision of many young women who, over the course of a summer, become more independent, open-minded, cultured, and excited for life. No longer do they see the world through the lens of their hometown or through their family’s protection. As Mark Twain said best, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness…”

Any interesting experiences you’d like to share? Would love to hear about it! Comment, contact me, or share!

Cheers!

Some travel resources:

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