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Saturday, July 4, 2020

How I'm Spending My Fourth of July

Happy Independence Day, Everyone! Today's a day I'm taking off to do some me things and also to do some good. With gatherings discouraged and Covid becoming more of a problem than not, we'll be staying home and doing some reflecting of what this day should mean.

If you're also looking for ways to finish out your weekend, I've got some ideas for you. Yesterday we spent some time watching Hamilton on Disney+ (I've been waiting for the perfect time to subscribe, and this was it). We had watched a bootleg recording right when the pandemic and stay-at-home started, which was actually very good, and I was glad I was able to see both, because I saw things in that recording than in this official recording, but this sound was much better and I could see facial expressions.

I'll also be watching some other things that feature POC and give me a bit of a history lesson (I say bit, because even large things in our history only seem to be a drop in the bucket). Some things you might want to view:
  • Just Mercy (iTunes, Amazon Prime, Vudu, FandangoNow, OnDemand)
  • Selma (iTunes, FandangoNow)
  • Antwone Fisher (FandangoNow)
  • The Hate U Give (iTunes, Amazon Prime, FandangoNow)
  • Strong Island (Netflix, YouTube)

“We’ll never be free until we end slavery.” -Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton

I'll be donating more to Black Lives Matter and other social justice organizations. If you can, here are some to choose from:
If you don't have money to donate, you can still make a difference by playing games and streaming music. Check out the links on BLM Carrd.

I wanted to help the protesters and people who are fighting the best way they know how, so I donated money to Philando Castile's cousin who owns a vegan restaurant in Minneapolis and hands out free meals to protesters. VegNews has a great article and link to the restaurant where you can donate on Paypal. Make sure you send it as a gift, so he gets the full amount of your donation.

    We didn't forget about LGBT folx during Pride Month, plus we're always fighting for their equality as well. If you'd like to focus some of your money that way, here are some wonderful organizations:
    I encourage you to learn more Black and LGBTQ history, because we have been severely mislead by whitewashed and cis-gendered history books. I realized all my education ended in this manner "...and then the Civil Rights' movement happened and everyone was equal with voting rights, etc." or "...and then slavery ended!" Nobody thought to tell us all the gory details that happened after that, because racism and modern slavery are still being fought against. 

    If you have children, now's the perfect time to fill in some gaps of their education. Create a book "club" where you each buy a different book, read it and talk about it with your family/kids, then pass it on to another family, until you've read all the books, and you haven't spent a fortune on them. At the end, you can pass them on to others to spread the knowledge.

    I'd also like to end with this, because I'm hearing so many people crying about statues being pulled down, removed by the city, or vandalized. I never once learned anything from a statue that I remembered after I walked away. Also, books and museums exist for us to learn history. In fact, if these statues were removed and we replaced them with tiny historical libraries/museums, I think we'd learn a lot more. 

    I hope everyone had a great 4th and doing their best to stay happy and healthy. Remember, we're still in a pandemic. Wear a mask to keep others safe, wash your hands, and keep your parties small and physically distanced or online. We already have been banned from the UK and Europe, and several states have quarantine orders for visitors, so if you want to travel anytime soon, we need to do our best to get our numbers under control and prove that we care about everyone, not just that we can go eat in a restaurant.

    How are you spending your weekend?

    Wednesday, July 1, 2020

    What Travelers Are Doing In the Wake of Covid

    With news changing daily regarding Covid-19 and travel, I won't be traveling at all this year. As someone who loves to travel, you'd think this would be distressing to me, but I'm looking at it as an excuse to stay near home and enjoy all the outdoor things that Portland has to offer: food trucks, outdoor art, and green spaces (not hiking, because I am not a fan, but we have some great places to do that, too). 

    The European Union has banned American travelers now that they've reopened borders today. Canada will close its borders to us as well. Some states will require visitors from others to quarantine for 2 weeks. Some states are re-quarantining. Until we actually get the virus under control, we should be sticking closer to home or traveling to unpopulated places. Camping and RVing is becoming more popular right now, as have self-catered getaways. Here are some stats on what others are thinking about 2020 travel and Covid.

    infographic credit

    I've seen the new stat that only 44% of Americans are considering leisure travel in 2020, and over 70% of those traveling are planning to do so via road trip. 78% of travelers will limit their trip to 4 nights or less, and around half of them will be traveling for a family event, including holiday travel. 

    Please stay safe and don't forget to pack a selection of masks if you do travel, so you have ones when you're washing others to wear again. And don't forget to wash your hands, and then wash them again, and also wash them again.

    Have you planned or cancelled any travel for 2020?

    Saturday, June 27, 2020

    6 Reasons to Choose a Self-Catered Getaway

    This year is super weird, and a lot of us aren't going to be taking traditional vacation, because many states have seen huge upticks in Covid-19 cases, some states are imposing a two-week quarantine, and even if you can visit, there won't be anything to do, because most states aren't out of Phase 1 yet. Last week I talked about self-catered vacations, and we might take advantage of one as well. I love a vacation rental and I usually use Airbnb {<--use that link for $40 off!}. 

    There's a time and a place to opt for a hotel, but as a budget traveler, being able to save money on food and saving my sanity by not being in everyone's pocket 24/7 is very important. Here are my 6 reasons to choose a vacation rental.

    You get a kitchen

    This means you can cook your own meals! Now, keep in mind, I don't go on vacation to cook, especially since cool new foods are the best part of traveling to me. I do, however, hate getting up super early, so I tend to load up on breakfast foods. This allows me to spend a little more time in bed, plus I save money on morning dining. We usually spend at least one dinner in, either making something easy or eating leftovers, which we were able to bring back, because we have a fridge and an oven.

    In many rentals we've stayed in, they've also included grills, so we could BBQ if we wanted. This is great if you are traveling in the warmer months. If you travel with kids, having a place to prepare and store foods can be imperative for your sanity and saving money.

    You (generally) have a separate bedroom

    Listen, I don't need to have a different room with a bed, but it's nice. I'll settle for separate, defined spaces, just so I can get away from my travelmate(s) for a minute. I adore my husband, but we don't always want to be in each other's faces. A hotel room normally has a bed and one chair. If you're lucky, you get a tiny table or a desk. Even if you bring back leftovers, you can't really sit anywhere comfortable. If you have to do work or just want to play on your laptop, there's not a good place to do that either. 

    I don't always go to bed at the same time as people I travel with. It's nice to have a table where I can type away, a couch to relax on, a bed for sleeping purposes that doesn't also double as a terrible chair, or a room where I can just hang out alone in that isn't the bathroom. 

    You can choose your amenities

    I have a small list of must-haves when I travel: WiFi, TV, a shower (if I'm traveling to Europe where not all places have one), and laundry facilities. I get these things in a timeshare property, but I can also choose these things specifically when searching for a vacation rental. For example, we're going to Edinburgh and London in the fall and I want to pack light. Because of this, it's especially helpful to have access to a washer and dryer. I've had to go to the laundromat in the past and while it wasn't the most annoying thing, it cost quite a bit in London. 

    You can choose your price range

    Sure, you can do this with hotels, but for the same price, you can search for a vacation rental that is in a location desirable to you, plus includes all the amenities you hope to get in a place to stay. If you can get all this for the same price or a little more, you're still saving money on baggage fees, food, laundry, and possibly entertainment, because you have room to spread out and play games and/or watch movies.

    You can feel at home

    This is the number one reason I enjoy a vacation rental over a hotel. Feeling weirdly displaced when you travel is hard. I like to feel like my space has a home. I don't need a maid to come in and clean up after me every day. I want my space to feel cozy and comfy and lived in. I can make a rental feel like my home until I leave. I can spread out my stuff, not worry about anyone coming in to clean (where I have to clear up things before I leave each morning). 

    Having what equates to a small home or apartment makes me feel like I'm a traveler instead of a tourist. Like I'm living like a local. Some come with free parking, some are in buildings with extra security, some have pools or gyms. The best part is that if you don't want these things, you rent a different place and don't pay for them, unlike when you stay in a hotel that offers them for everyone.

    You have a true local on-call

    One thing you usually don't think about is having someone you can contact for an inside look at your destination. Yes, there's the front desk or concierge at a hotel, but when you rent from a local, it's easy to pick their brain to find out where they like to go and what they'd recommend seeing to an out-of-towner. They probably aren't rich and they certainly don't get kick-backs for pointing you in the direction of an activity or restaurant. Some live steps away or welcome calls/texts or leave detailed folders with all the cool stuff for you to peruse. I always get awesome suggestions this way. 

    So, while you may have to forgo much of your normal vacation activities, you can at least go out and take a city tour (walking or driving) and see the outside spaces and have food from new restaurants, even if it's just take-out or delivery. 

    Will you be taking a self-catered vacay this year? If so, where?
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