6 Ways to Make Every Day Feel like Vacation

7 Mar

I like to limit the commitments I make so that I know I will have time every day to do the things that make me happy. But there are always those days that are just too busy and full of things that you need to do because other people say so- finish something overdue in work, pick up the slack for the rest of your lazy team on a school project, feed the neighbors’ pets while they’re on vacation. But there are ways to inject the feeling of vacation into your day even if you can’t get away for awhile. Here are my favorite tips.

Every day should feel like this

1- De-clutter.

If you’re like most people, you just have way, way too much stuff. I’m not even out of school and I have more stuff than I know what to do with. I keep it for various reasons- some things are sentimental, some I hope will be useful to me eventually, and some things were given as gifts and though I know I will never use them, I feel bad throwing them out. But really, nobody needs, or should have, as much stuff as the average American does.

Sell EVERYTHING you don’t need or haven’t used in years, minus a few really special items. You can do this on ebay, craigslist, or have a garage sale. This is going to be one of my first courses of action when I go home for the summer. I know I’ll feel so much better when I have more space and less junk. I already got rid of a huge box of clothes a few months ago- I dropped it off at the donation area in my hometown’s church.

Also, having a clean, de-cluttered space can be “addicting” in a positive way. Hopefully you will become less attached to material things and in turn buy less, and save more. You can’t go wrong.

2- Drink loose leaf tea.

I just started doing this a year ago, and slowly worked my way up to 1-2 cups of tea each day. I used to hate tea until my roommate kindly pointed out that I could put sugar in it, and then I was hooked. I now have 7 types of looseleaf tea sitting on a shelf in my room next to my cast-iron teapot. There is something so incredibly relaxing about drinking tea, and the amazing part to me is that the relaxing feeling doesn’t lessen with time. If you went on the same roller coaster again and again it would stop being exciting, and if you listened to your favorite song every day it might get annoying, but every single time I drink tea I am just as happy and relaxed as the first time. I think it is infused with magic. No matter how bad your day is, tea will make it better.

Here is the teapot I own- I boil water in a pot on the stove, then pour it over loose leaf tea in my teapot and in two minutes you have delicious, fresh tea for 3.

And here are my favorite teas: peach and mango (best when mixed). If you don’t know what kind of tea you like, its a good idea to start with a sampler box so you can try a little bit of each.

3- Read.

This one is more self-explanatory- if you want to feel like you are on vacation, reading instantly takes you away to another world. I always have trouble finishing books- in fact I am in the middle of about 10 at the moment- but I discovered that if I attach reading to something else that I want to do, in my case going outside and sitting in the sun, then both are more likely to get done. This may be a great way for you to exercise- you could get a stationary bike and decide to read a chapter or two each day while riding.

Everybody likes different books so I can’t give too many recommendations here- I myself like scifi, and my favorite book in the world is Ender’s Game. I’ve read it about 4 times and I know I’ll read it again.

4-Eat healthy food.

This is sometimes hard to do, but if you can pull it off and load your diet with fresh produce, you’ll feel SO much better every single day. If there is a farmer’s market in your town that you’ve never been to, start going. Farmer’s markets are great even if you don’t end up buying anything. Just being there makes you feel more healthy and puts you in vacation mode.

5-Splurge.

Well, you’ve de-cluttered and sold all of your junk, and now you have some extra cash. Consider spending it on one or two items that will make you and your family happy consistently for years. Maybe this means buying 100 flavors of loose leaf tea, or maybe it means adding a little relaxation to your house. (A bigger TV and a new outfit don’t count.) Here are some nice suggestions.

-A fire pit. It is such a simple, relaxing, and beautiful thing to have in your yard- it baffles me why more people don’t buy these. This one is highly rated and I like the look of it because unlike others, it is raised off of the ground.

-A hammock and hammock stand.

A massage chair. You’ve always tried them out at the mall and left without buying one- well get one now, and you can feel great every single day.

6-Bathe luxuriously.

I take a bath almost every day and it is one of my favorite parts of the day. A hot bath itself can be wonderful, but there are a few ways to take your relaxation to the next level.

-Have a drink and listen to music in the tub.

-Add a Lush bath bomb or bubble bar, or both together, to make your bath extremely luxurious and colorful.

-Add a shower head with colored light. It can instantly make your bath more relaxing, romantic, exciting-whatever you want.

Use these ideas to fill each day with a little  vacation. Make just a few changes at a time, and you’ll see how much more relaxed you can feel in your own home. And hopefully it will bring you one step closer to your dream of giving up the life of employment for a permanent vacation.

6 Steps to Earning Passive Income Online through Blogging: Start Right Now.

6 Mar

I was going to save this post for when I felt like I’ve accumulated all of the best resources I could possibly find. But I’d rather write this now and then update later, because the sooner you begin earning a passive income online, the sooner you can begin cutting back on the hours you spend at work, until eventually you don’t need to be employed at all. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve read about people who have done this and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and are now out living their dreams.

It can be scary to quit your job to live your dream, but here is a method to make it easy, with no risks at all. You can earn a passive income through blogging while you are still employed, and build up your blog, or preferably blogs, until you feel comfortable leaving your job. Here are the steps to take you from disgruntled employee to Jack of all Travel.

1) Pick a topic

There are a few ways to go about this. First, you could write about something you are very familiar with. Lets say you work in a nut-exporting business and your job is to find the cheapest and most delicious nuts from around the world. You could create a blog about nuts. If you are an avid collector of goldfish and have a little aquarium in your home, write about goldfish.

2) Research keywords

In order to make money, you need traffic- many people need to visit your site to click on ads and do other things that will earn you an income. In order to get high traffic, you’ll want to target keywords that people search in google- these keywords should have a huge amount of monthly searchers and a low amount of competition from other websites. “Long-tailed keywords” are excellent if they meet these criteria- for example, if you find that 2 million people each month are searching “how do I recycle bottle tops into art?” and no sites are providing an answer, that would be a great keyword to target.

In order to search keywords, go to Google Keyword Tool. All you need to do is type in a few keywords and Google will give you the number of monthly searches, level of competition, and some alternative keywords for you to consider.

Alternatively, if you know of a website and you want to learn what keywords it uses in order to build your keyword list, you can go to SpyFu and type in the website. SpyFu will not only give you their keywords, but also their advertising budget and their ads, which may be helpful in the future if you become more serious about marketing your new blog.

3) Start coming up with ideas for blog posts

I keep a list on Microsoft word that contains all of my blog post ideas for this site. I think of plenty ideas throughout the day, and I either write them in my phone or on paper. At the end of the day, I transfer them all to Word. It is extremely important that you write down your ideas immediately; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten something that I thought would be really great to write about.

There are two other huge benefits to writing your ideas. The first is that you can add to them and let them sit in Word until they evolve enough to be written up as a blog post. For example, I am constantly coming up with “list of the top (insert number here) ways to (X)”. When I think of the idea initially, I may only have one thing to put on that list, but each time I come up with a new thing to add to the list, it goes right into Word. That way, when I have a list of 10 items, I can post it.

The second benefit to writing your ideas is that there will inevitably be days where you can’t for the life of you think of what to write about. No worries, you have 10 pages of ideas on your list.

Need inspiration? My favorite sites to go to when I need to be inspired are Ted (arguably the greatest website on the face of the earth) and Stumble Upon. You need to sign up for an account to use Stumble Upon, but it is free and gets better with use as it “learns” what you like.

4) Get a domain name and hosting

What I use is WordPress. It has a very simple user interface and costs next to nothing. The downside is that it limits what you can do in terms of design, getting visitor statistics, and making an income. If you want to be really cautious, you can leave it like this for a while while you grow your traffic, and then once you see that you are actually reaching people, you can sign up for external hosting with Blue Host.

Blue Host allows you to install your wordpress blog at the click of a button, so its easy for non- techies, like me. Then you will be free to start raking in the cash, by signing up for Google Ad Sense, Amazon Affiliates, and other programs. You can monitor your traffic more throughly by signing up for free with Google Analytics.

5) Draw traffic to your site

We’ve come to the meat of the deal. There is no way around it, you have to write good, quality content if you want continuous traffic. There is so much information out there about how to draw traffic to your site, but one very simple place you can start is by going to blogs similar to yours and posting relevant comments. At the end of your comment, if it makes sense to do, you can put a link to one of your blog posts. To do that, you need a small amount of html code- but I’ll just give that to you and all you need to do is replace my link and text with yours. Here is an example of how I might use this code in a comment:

Thanks for all of the information, I found the step by step instructions about how to get a volunteer job very useful. Here is a post I wrote on a similar topic, <a href=”http://escapenormal.com/2011/02/23/top-6-resources-for-cheap-or-free-travel/”>the top 6 resources for free travel.</a>

Notice how your URL goes in between the quotes and the text that will link to that URL goes between the > and < signs.

But, this is only one of the smallest and simplest ways to draw traffic. Once you become comfortable, here are a few of my favorite resources on the topic. I recommend you skim through the sites to find ideas most relevant to you:

SEO Tips for Making Passive Income

My Passive Income Online Blog

6) Make money

The fun part. As I’ve said, Google Ad Sense and Amazon Affiliates are the most popular ways to go. With ad sense, you get money each time someone clicks an ad on your site. If you have a lot of traffic, this can accumulate quickly. With affiliates, you get money each time someone clicks a link that you have posted on your blog. My final suggestion is writing and selling E-books.

Here are the best tips I have come across for each of these money making methods.

Ad Sense: 1) Make the ads blend with your site. People will tune them out or be turned off if you choose a neon color scheme when your entire blog is black and white. 2) Experiment by putting the ads in different locations. Sometimes putting the ads at the bottom of your blog posts works best; sometimes they should be near the top on the left hand side.

Affiliates: 1) Make your links relate to your blog. If you went with the “nut” idea, make a post “The top 10 dessert nuts” and give a little description of each, with a link to amazon for the people who want to buy the nut. So if you are describing “Chocolate covered almonds,” provide a link to amazon where people can buy chocolate covered almonds.

E-Books: I am still learning about these myself, but I will give you my favorite tips. 1) Make an e-book after you have a lot of traffic to your site. This way, you can specifically ask your readers what they would like to know about and what they wish to learn from an e-book, and you can even get a list of people willing to buy it before you even write the book. Then, when it is finished, you can email all of the people on your list and boom, instant sales. 2) You can start your own affiliate program so that people who link customers to your ebook get a commission when a sale is made, thereby outsourcing the selling process and making your job even easier.

Final tip: don’t pay for advertising. This may be my own personal opinion, but I think it is completely unnecessary, and that the quality of the site will speak for itself.

End note

That about wraps it up for the intro to making a passive income through blogging. I’m sure I’ll provide more resources in the future for an intermediate level blogger, which you can soon become! Something you might want to do in the future if you are successful with your first blog is to outsource the writing- you can focus more on keywords and SEO, and let other people write a few quality articles. There are many companies out there that provide this service.

Now, there is nothing stopping you from giving this a try. All you need to do is write a few really good posts per week and do a few hours of marketing, even if this just means commenting and leaving your link on other blogs. In the best case scenario, you quit your job and take your family to travel the world full-time. In the worst case scenario, you spend the amount of money that would have bought your family 2 dinners at a chain restaurant, have a blog with a few loyal readers, and you have a cool new hobby.

So go now, make it a two-month challenge, and see how much traffic you can draw!

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The game of Traveling: The fun guide to leveling through the ranks!

4 Mar

I sometimes feel like life is a game, or at least parts of it- you level through the ranks of school, watch your income grow, learn new skills, and my new favorite is gathering blog viewers. It is so much fun to watch that number go up.

So I decided to make a guide of character ranks inspired by video games, which apply to the world of travel. In order to get to the next rank or character class, you need to rake in a certain number of travel days. With each increase in rank, your character gets a new item! As in any game, leveling up gets harder as you increase in level. Try to make it all the way to the top in the game of Travel!

Level 1: 1 Day: Wild Squatter: Tissue box shoes

Level 2: 15 Days: Hobo: Canvas shoes

Level 3: 25 Days: Wanderer: Walking boots

Level 4: 50 Days: Nomad: Donkey

Level 5: 65 Days: Hitchhiker: Bicycle

Level 6: 100 Days: White Vagabond: Moped

Level 7: 200 Days: Red Rogue: Motorcycle

Level 8: 350 Days: Frequent Flier: Hang glider

Level 9: 500 Days: World Explorer: Jeep Wrangler

Level 10: 750 Days: Neo Navigator: Sailboat

Level 11: 1,000 Days: Conquistador: Jetski

Level 12: 2,000 Days: Nomadic Wizard: Hovercraft

Level 13: 3,000 Days: Aeronaut: Private Jet

Level 14: 6,000 Days: Platinum Vagabond: Private Yacht

Level 15: 10,000 Days: Jack of All Travel: Teleporter

For those of you who play too many video games, I challenge you to spend that time blogging instead. It hooks you in the same way and is so much more fun. The big difference is that a successful blogger can earn a good income with google ads or amazon affiliates.

 

If you enjoyed that, take a look at my Dr.Seuss/Lord of the Rings illustrated mashup at Paradoxfox.com, Horton Hears a Hobbit.

Photo credit: Scott Pilgrim versus the world

3 Best Ways to Deal with People who Laugh at your Dreams

2 Mar

You know the type. Just like I described on one of my very first posts, there are going to be those who think that your dreams of giving up your job to travel, or to become self-employed, are ridiculous. Many of them will probably even be close friends. How do you deal with this?

Have confidence in your dreams

1- Just have confidence.

It is hard at first, when you are just starting or changing your life, because you may not be too sure of yourself. You might feel like there are a lot of unknowns. But in time, as you learn more and actually start doing what you plan to do, this feeling will fade. Even for me, and I feel like I was practically born rejecting societal norms, I still get twinges every now and then of “what if it doesn’t work?” After that comes, “if I fail as an entrepreneur, I can always just get a job.” Then, “Oh, God no, anything would be better than that. I’d rather be a hobo.” Then, “Wait, I’ve already found so many resources for free long-term travel experiences. I’m going to do them anyway, whether I have money or not- so if I fail as an entrepreneur I still get to travel.” And finally, “Pffff, there’s no way I’ll fail. I’ll be a millionaire within two years.”

So know that there are “safety nets” if your plans don’t work out for some reason. You could always get another job. Its not that hard. But, I find that when I talk to people about my ideas and I go into details, like “I want to go here, through this organization, for this amount of time,” it makes your plan seem less like a far-fetched dream and more like an exciting reality. For the people who are trapped by societal brainwashing, a detailed outline of your plans may be just what they need to see that you are serious, and that you can accomplish your dreams.

2- Ignore them.

This one kind of stems from having confidence, because if you believe in your dreams then you won’t feel the need to defend yourself as much against those who think they’re silly. It does take a bit of restraint, though, I admit. There is one person who constantly laughs at my ideas and I find it so hard to not say the rude things that begin running through my head. I even got the perfect opportunity to retaliate online just a few days ago, and I typed out something along the lines of “Looks like somebody is fishing for attention. Nobody needs to see a list of all the busywork you do in a day. Working on things that you don’t enjoy and proceed to complain about does not make you more important as a person. I make absolutely certain that I have time to do the things that make me happy, and I spend time enjoying my life. Check back with me in 10 years and we’ll compare notes on how far our work ethics got us.” But my boyfriend wouldn’t let me send it. I knew deep down that it would just cause problems. So it remains just a thought in my head that I know to be true.

3- Read these

Here are some really good ideas I found for dealing with the downers. Take your pick.

Best 8 Ways to Deal with Detractors

How to be Less Busy in A Busy Busy World

The Smart-Ass Guide to Dealing with Dream Zappers

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Are you Jewish and Aged 18-26? Birthright.

2 Mar

Then you should sign up for your free birthright trip immediately.

Birthright is a sponsored program that allows Jewish youth from all over the world to go to Israel at no cost. There is more than one trip to choose from, so whether you want to go to learn about your religion and meet other religious Jews, or whether religion isn’t your thing and you want to go on active adventures exploring the country, this is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.

I’m not Jewish, but I tried to sign up for the trip. I didn’t complete my registration, but the next day a representative called me to ask me if I wanted to register, and I told him that I had been looking to see if there were any spots available to non-Jews. Unfortunately, there aren’t. So if you’re half Jewish or your grandma is Jewish, it’s worth a shot to try to register.

My roommate went on the adventure trip just a month ago, and she absolutely loved every minute of it. She told me that she met incredibly fun people, and her stories made me wish that I had pretended to be Jewish for a while. Her group did amazing activities together, from exploring a water passage through a cave, to actual rock climbing, it was an experience that I wish I could have had. Alas, I am not Jewish and I will not be Jewish when I am 26, so I will never have a chance to go on this organized trip. But if you qualify, then get your butt signed up right now! Who would turn down a free trip to Israel?

I’ve been searching for other things like this, religious or otherwise, but this seems to be the only one of its kind. If anyone knows of any similar sponsored trips, please let me know!

Photo credit: my roommate

Top 3 Ways to Live Rent-Free

2 Mar

Let’s break free of the idea that housing has to be expensive, shall we? It doesn’t have to be, not at all. Here are a list of my favorite ideas of ways to live rent-free for long periods of time, in a home (or alternative home) that you can call your own. Now, as I’ve covered, there are many ways to travel and volunteer that don’t require you to pay for rent, but with these you are living in somebody else’s home or with other people. These methods are for those of you looking for your OWN place to live.

Live on a sailboat

1- Live on a sailboat.

Sailboat life 1/ Sailboat Life 2

Its so simple. A friend of mine just began looking into buying boats- he wants to leave his apartment and enjoy rent-free living in a boat that will pay for itself in just a few months of rent money. This is something I will definitely consider doing myself. I would love to live on a boat.

This requires a bit of research, though.

-You need to find a boat that will fit your budget- a sailboat because the cost of fuel will suck your bank account dry very quickly.

-You need to check your local laws- some places don’t allow you to anchor offshore, and this is what you need to do to live rent-free. You don’t want to dock at a marina, because these are very expensive.

-Buy a dingy. If you’re living anchored offshore, you need a small boat to take you to and from your boat.

-Find a boatmate. This is obviously optional, but consider living with someone who knows how to sail, so you can learn from them. Otherwise you may need to take sailing lessons. Also, it can be lonely living on a boat unless you make sure to fill your day with social activities, so you might want company.

2- Live in a portable yurt.

In a recent post, I discussed building your own home to live in. Well, you could build a yurt to, or you could just buy one. Yurts were originally used by nomads and now you can buy many different kinds, from super-basic to fully-equipped.

Since yurts are portable, you can take it with you on your travels, set it up, take it back down, travel to a new place, and set it up again. It seems like a very cool idea. Again, definitely something I would be interested in trying. Here, for your inspiration and amusement, is a youtube video of multiple yurts connected to make a yurt palace.

3- Live in an RV

This may not be rent free, depending on the lifestyle you choose to live- you may need to pay for space in trailer parks, but it definitely keeps you mobile. But keeping with the rent free theme, you could consider alternatives like buying or finding a small patch of land in your country of choice and parking it there. It is certainly doable, and you will be able to bring your home with you if you want to leave.

There is a new craze called “workamping” that I’m still a little fuzzy about, but from what I understand it incorporates mobile RV life with short term jobs, and there is a whole network of people happily participating. I think it sounds a little hokey, but maybe it’s worth a look.

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Top 8 Reasons to Quit your Job to Enjoy Life and the World

1 Mar

I’m going to try to convince you that your life can, should, and will be different if you just overcome the fear of quitting your job to do what you want. For those of you who have ever played a video game and unlocked a new, exciting level, and just wanted to stay awake and explore it all night long, or those of you who have gotten completely lost in a fantastic land of looming mountains and white sand beaches in your favorite book- well, you can have that feeling encompass your entire life. It doesn’t need to end when you put down your book, turn off your video game, log off your computer, or leave to go to work for the day.

Reasons to quit your job (and become self-employed, which I will cover in later posts)

1- You stop learning if you stay at your job too long

It might be fun for a while for a new college grad to experience the corporate world, but there comes a point (and it comes VERY quickly) when you’ve learned all you can from that job and it becomes pure habit. People who travel end up wiser and happier at the end of their lives.

2- Your entire life is monotonous

You wake up grumpy and hit snooze. You drink coffee and put on a boring and constricting work suit. You sit at the computer and probably aren’t very productive. You go home, eat, do the same things on your PC that you were doing to distract yourself at work, shower, watch TV, sleep, and repeat. Stop it. Read that paragraph again. Seriously? Is that what you want to do? What a waste of your life. Traveling needn’t be scary and it certainly needn’t be expensive. In fact, you can travel WHILE you start your business, and continue to travel when it is up and running. I created Paradoxfox to allow myself to be mobile.

3- You don’t need to let other people scare you into staying

This is the tough one. As I described in my very firsts posts, society is just against the idea of quitting jobs, pure and simple. Its quite honestly like a form of brain-washing. There is absolutely, 100% no need to ever be an employee. Some people may truly enjoy their jobs, and that is wonderful, but they are the exception.

4- Money is limited

So you are telling me- you work a 9 to 5, with overtime, and get paid by the hour to do the same kinds of things over and over and over? And what happens when you want more money? You have to ask for a raise, you say? No, thank you, I’ll pass.

Entrepreneurs have the potential to make a MUCH greater amount of money. My goal for the business I just started a few months ago selling unique novelty gifts (such as lottery tickets to time travel and land on the moon, at Paradoxfox.com) is to earn $1,000,000 within 2 years. So far I have earned zero, but I honestly believe that I can reach this goal or, at the very least, set up the business so that even if I don’t reach the goal, I can far surpass it in the future.

5- It is hard to be creative

People are naturally creative- even if you don’t think you are, you are. Maybe not artistically, but if you are passionate about something- travel, music, even a TV show, I’m sure you’ve had a few original ideas about the subject. Employers tend to stifle creativity. There are more exceptions to this rule that to the others I’m listing, but creativity in the workplace can sometimes cause the loss of profits and is therefore discouraged. In the REAL real world, the Escape Normal world, creativity is welcomed and helps you lead a fuller, happier life. See my last post- I decided I want to build a small eco-home for myself. Could you find time to do that, or even THINK of doing that if you spent so much of your life stuck in the routine of an employee?

6- Money cycle of doom

You make a fixed amount of money, and then spend it on rent, food, utilities, and luxuries. You have debt. You work to pay off this debt but more keeps coming as you buy things you think you need. You don’t need them. Living does not need to be expensive. Most people’s idea of a perfect vacation in paradise is laying on a tropical island during the day, maybe mix that in with a few frozen drinks, some Bob Marley, windsurfing and a chocolate-bronze tan. Well you know what? That lifestyle costs FAR less than the lifestyle you are living now. Its almost sickening how little it costs to live like this- I’m going to dedicate a post to this topic soon- but until then, maybe this will convince you: Cheapest places to live in the world

7- Active income v. Passive income

Active income is income you receive when you do work. Passive income is income you receive while you don’t- you make money while you sleep, bathe, relax, and best of all, travel. Look at it this way- active income is like shackles; its ties you to your job and severely limits the time you get to do the things you love. Passive income allows you to do the things you love and still get paid. I have a nice post planned about ways to make passive income. This blog will, at some point, be one of my passive income streams.

8- You don’t get to meet new people

Humans are innately social, and being employed limits your social pool to the people you work with and the friends you had before you started working. Sure you might get to meet a cool client now and then, but do you form strong friendships with them that extend beyond the workplace? Probably not. If you travel and explore, you can make life long friends from around the world. Personally, I want to take classes in dance, learn to sew, learn to build my own home, and volunteer- and each of these things is geared specifically toward people who enjoy doing that thing. So I know for a fact that I will meet people with the same interests as me, many of whom I will be friends with for life. I’ve done this while traveling before and I’ll do it again. Can you say as much of your job?

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