Tags: photos, travel, usa
Tags: photos, travel, usa
This, my friends, sums up the one thing that is wrong with American food.
(Well, there’s also the misspelling of ‘mayonnaise’, but that’s less egregious. Also, I dearly wish T hadn’t kept insisting on getting coleslaw so often, let alone in Disneyland, since it was always a disappointment – and of course, I usually felt compelled to taste it as well.)
But let’s not dwell on that for TOO long. See, we also had plenty of good eats in America – mostly Mexican, BBQ, and hole-in-the-wall diners, the kind of stuff we gravitated to since we don’t get it at home. Here’s a few of our favourites:
Best Burger – Hook Burger
Blows In-N-Out out of the water.
Best BBQ – Mrs Hyster’s
We had some pretty good BBQ in Memphis, but the downhome sloppy, saucy stuff in this New Orleans hole-in-the-wall edged it out.
Best Chain – Chipotle
Please, please, please, open up in New Zealand. In the meantime, I’m going to have to start making my own burrito bowls.
Best Diner -Welcome Diner
This is kind of a hipster diner, tucked away in Phoenix, where we were served by a dead ringer for Seth Rogen, who wrote the comics that you’ll find tucked into the shelf. For more old-school, downmarket dining, I tip my hat to Mike and Ronda’s The Place along Route 66 in Flagstaff.
Best Pizza – Joe’s
It wasn’t so long ago that we were enjoying pizza in Naples for real, but we HAD to try New York pizza too – and Joe’s is where it’s at.
Best Hot Dogs – Superdawg
Chicago institution. Enough said.
Best Mexican – Fat’s Burritos, Roswell / Garcia’s Mexican, San Antonio
Really dug the relleno plate at Fat’s, but beware, it’s tricky to find (it’s moved a few times – don’t be fooled by the mural/building that catches your eye on the way in! Keep driving till you hit the actual street number.) And Garcia’s breakfast tacos can’t be missed.
Tags: america, food
is absolutely astounding.
I envisioned couchsurfing across Europe; we ended up hostelling and hoteling. (We did surf a few times though, and hosts generously drove us to the train station/lent us bikes/gave up their beds for us). I then envisioned us couchsurfing across North America, and instead, we ended up staying with so many generous blog friends. Not to mention the many others who took the time to show us around, take us out to eat, or put together adorable goody bags/welcome packs for us.
We also miss your pets! We’ve met so many awesome dogs along the way, which was such an eye-opener for me; to date, almost all the dogs I’ve ever encountered back home are outside dogs that belong to, erm, Westie trash types and fall into one or more of the following categories: dirty/mangy/loud/ill-behaved/scary. By contrast, I now know that clean, housetrained, inside dogs DO exist.
I think it was a little weird for T, but he quickly got used to the idea that we’d be meeting semi-strangers in almost every city we visited. There was Manda in DC, Sandy in Massachussetts, Asian Pear / Save Spend Splurge in Toronto, Windy City Gal in Chicago, Athena / Funny About Money in Phoenix, Revanche / Untemplater / Financial Samurai in SF, Tiny Apartment / Erika / Stacking Pennies / Tonya in LA. I can’t forget Lesley in Iceland (formerly of 23toLife.com), either, plus we narrowly missed a few others along the way (so close!): Leslie, Amber, Daisy, Katie, Stephanie (I’m really hoping I haven’t forgotten anyone! Eek!)
I can’t thank you guys enough, and hopefully we’ll be able to return one day to relive the magic. It’s probably going to be quite awhile before we leave NZ again though … so, come see us soon. Okay?
Tags: reflections, travel
New Zealanders are big fans of travel, reports have revealed, but how do we fund our overseas trips?
According to statistics, the number of Kiwis jetting off for overseas holidays has increased drastically since 2003, rising by more than 11,500 people! For those who plan to combine a long distance trip with a long duration holiday, sticking to a strict daily budget can sometimes lead to missing out on many activities that were top of your wish list.
This can be prevented by using some clever money saving tactics, such as:
Try not to pre-book accommodation
Many nervous travellers have the obsession of having everything planned before arriving in the country. However, this is not always the best way and sometimes the best moments of your travels come from the unplanned. Especially if you are heading to a country that is under developed or has a lower cost of living than New Zealand.
You will be surprised to see how much money you can save by booking once you are there. By simply walking around the area you want to stay you could find many hidden gems at very reasonable prices.
Shop around for the right travel card
Many credit card companies can seem like a good deal at first glance but on a second look it is less transparent. From poor exchange rates to multiple charges when withdrawing from an ATM; it can all add up and put a strain on your budget.
American Express Credit Cards provide some reasonable offers in terms of travelling. With a straightforward conversion back to NZ dollars and being one of the world’s most recognisable cards it is accepted in most places.
Plus, when you buy travel with an Amex credit card you will also receive free travel insurance.
Research the trips you want to go on
Research into the trips you are interested in before you go to the area but don’t necessarily pre-book. While there are many stories of locals taking advantage and offering poor trips there are also hidden gems. By finding out as many details as you can before you book a trip you can figure out the legitimate tours and save money in the process.
Combine with others
Whether you are travelling on your own or with a small group by making friends and combining your trips together it could save you money. Especially when booking with a local you tend to be able to barter the price down and save money for all with a large group on the one trip.
Hit the streets
Sometimes eating out can become an extra expense than first thought in your initial budget. However, by going into the local areas and diving into the street food you could be saving a lot of money and immersing yourself into the food of the area.
When calculating your daily allowances always add around 20% extra. This way you won’t be too disappointed or worried if you overspend and will be pleasantly surprised if you are left with a bit more money!
The thing that stands out to me most about being back home is not the rain, the familiar accents, or the cars.
It’s the air.
About an hour before we landed, I started sneezing like mad, and have barely stopped since. A day later, it’s pretty obvious that it’s a lot more effort for me simply to breathe here than anywhere else we’ve been in the past six months. (It’s almost summer here, and while our summers are very mild by global standards, it’s definitely not super cold.) My chest feels constricted and in a quiet room, I’m THAT person huffing and sniffling nonstop. Might be time to seek out a doctor.
Continuing on in a slightly depressing vein, we’ve also come home to the news of the death of a guy I went to school with, and this Roastbusters stuff, which is already making headlines round the world.
But happily, there are lots of good things I’ve read recently too! Here’s my picks for this week.
Here’s Cordelia on 15 surefire ways to guarantee a dead end life
Jen Dziura on whether you should lean in to what you love, and Funny About Money on the perils of following your bliss
Figuring Money Out on 20 daily habits of the wealthy
An intriguing discussion on career sponsorship vs mentorship at Publishing Trendsetter
Ashley on reconciling our present selves with our former selves
Afford Anything on how to escape the ordinary, step by step
Get Rich Slowly on learning to bargain
Save Spend Splurge has put together a nice list of wardrobe essentials (male AND female)
Donna reminds us that time is something we can’t do over
Caroline joins me in hating the traveller vs tourist argument
Sydney shares five of her favourite inspirational travel destinations
Michelle ponders the American dream
Finally, APW on what feminism means and why feminism matters. For me, this used to mean shunning pink, and dresses, and pop music, and cooking. Now I’ve come to realise it’s really about doing whatever the hell I want; I can wear lipstick but shun heels, like Mariah Carey AND Metallica, and realise that sucking in the kitchen isn’t actually cute or something to be proud of.
New York – a full month before Halloween!
What’s the wackiest Halloween decoration you’ve ever seen?
Tags: photos, travel
“What happens when we go home? Do we just work till we die?”
(October 21, 2013, filed under Shit My Husband Says)
For the past six months, I’ve lived in a perpetual state of flux. I’ve never known what the week ahead will bring, let alone what lies in store for us the next day. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with uncertainty, and now, it’s time to get used to routine again. To get up in the morning knowing, more or less, what to expect from the coming 24 hours.
I’m not unhappy about that. I could use some structure again. I want some of the conventional things that society dictates I should want, and I’m not ashamed to admit it: a steady income, a house of my own, maybe even a pet and kids someday.
What I don’t want is to sink into mundanity. The older you get, the faster the time seems to go, and I don’t want to lose precious weeks or days to a forgettable rote existence. I want to make memories, not just once a year, but throughout the year. A life that doesn’t warrant escape. One without the Monday blues. And I want this for both T and myself, with the knowledge that I’m much further along this path than he is, and that it’ll take work to craft that mutually happy existence.
If our priorities change, a few months or a few years from now, then maybe we could do this again. Work and save for a few years, travel for a while, then come home, rinse and repeat. Maybe we can craft a lifestyle where we work for 10 months a year and travel for 2. Or maybe we’ll choose the traditional middle-class route, and treasure the memory of the last six months like a precious stone, bringing it out every so often to admire, polish, and remind ourselves that once upon a time we were young and carefree with the whole world in front of us.
Work till we die, or work till we retire. Sound depressing? In a sense, it is … but it’s only a terrifying thought if we fail to make the most of life in between – in our careers, in our relationships, in our hobbies.
Tags: life, reflections, travel
Sadly, I didn’t get to meet my ballin’ blog buddy Sarah on the east coast last month. That said, she probably wouldn’t have the time anyway – she’s on fire with her new biz, an awesome company called Greesonbach Creative! I wanted to know all about it, and she was kind enough to indulge my curiosity.
Who are you and what makes you awesome?
I’m Sarah Greesonbach, CEO of Greesonbach Creative. What makes me awesome is my energy and enthusiasm for all things online writing and marketing. My slogan is that I help companies let their hard work shine online — because so often hard-working businesses don’t know how to translate that into a successful web presence.
Describe your work in three words?
Awesome internet words!
Who are your dream clients?
I love people who love to wake up in the morning. I’ve been very fortunate to work mostly with small businesses and startups, the people who are living their dream and looking for ways to accurately express themselves online.
How long have you been doing this?
My tango with words began as a nerdy ten year old, but I’ve been writing professionally for almost three years now. Two as an informal blogger, one as a marketing specialist, and a month and a half as a full-time writer.
How did you get into it?
I got into it by being laid off! I had been building my online “nest” so to speak for almost two years, and I had the itch to get out of the traditional 9-5 but not the legitimate need. Because who turns down a real job with a steady paycheck without a huge savings buffer and a fully-funded business plan?
What I’ve come to realize is that we’re all self-employed freelancers, it’s just that the majority of us only have one large, mean client (AKA the corporate job!). So now that I have several, small clients, I feel like a more flexible, more vested employee.
What have you learned along the way? Any surprises/learning curves/hurdles?
I’m not sure I can do it all justice… It’s been a self-respect learning curve, for sure, because once you realize you need to charge someone for talking to you on the phone, you sort of re-evaluate your life.
It’s a pleasant balance of being “in the zone” and helping companies do things that come naturally to me, while also finally being able to run my home and cook the food I need to stay healthy. We’ve rebuilt our budget based on what we have to pay for, what we need to pay for, and what we want to pay for, and I look forward to reaching a point where I can just stop working when I hit the right numbers. That has been a whole new kind of living, for my typically American workaholic self! I’ve never had the luxury, before, of thinking about what would be “enough.”
What are you proudest of accomplishing so far?
My proudest accomplishment was hitting my invoicing goal for October 31st. Not because it means I can pay my rent, necessarily, though that’s nice, too, it’s more about unleashing my desire for self-determination. When put in a potentially bad position, I rallied everything I had and I’m making it work. Tons of others are doing so, and tons more do so in traditional jobs, but for me this has been an excellent fit and a huge accomplishment. And oh, yeah: terrifying.
What’s one common thing you see people doing online that just makes you facepalm?
Not having one, or having one with all standard backgrounds and images. Having the blank egg and sky clouds background on Twitter is insane to me!
To everyone wondering how to fix it, just stick your company logo and call it a day. Head to your website, right click on your website’s logo, click “Copy image URL,” open that in a new page, save it to your computer, and load it as your Twitter and Facebook image. Please!
Overall, I have loved hearing the sighs of relief from prospective clients when they receive my email response explaining exactly what they need, how I can do it, and how little it will cost. Social media and strategic content are really important for technical things like SEO and developing leads, but also for the morale and branding of the company itself. My favorite part is that everything I do and everything I’m paid is really an investment in someone else’s dream — their business! So it’s a lot of good karma all around.
What is the first thing you do in the morning? And last thing at night?
First: Thank God for this opportunity. Last: Actually get excited about the next day’s work (like… seriously. Can’t sleep excited about everything in the works and all the potential in the world).
What’s your drug of choice (aka what fuels you? Coffee? Doughnuts? Midday margaritas?)
Being Paleo AIP, most food “drugs” really are drugs to me, though I’ve been a sucker for decaf coffee lately. My go-to treat is really good dark chocolate and a banana, or decaf black tea with coconut milk.
A wee break from travel talk today….
The prospect of rejoining the real (working) world this month has me mulling over career, personal development, and other such big picture things.
Funnily enough, I happened to click into this Billfold interview with a digital analyst, which offers a ton of nuggets that all of us could learn from, regardless of industry. Here’s the three most important points I took away from it:
Know when to say yes … and when to quit
She says: “I call it punching above your weight class, and it happens when you keep showing up and enough people like what you do that they keep asking you to do it in more and more senior places. For a company, that’s what you want, because you have someone young and excited to do the work…and you don’t have to pay them much … And the truth of the matter is that if you punch above your weight class they’re never going to promote you to what you’re worth. Because they know they can throw you little bits. They will always get more out of you than you are being compensated for. It’s the way of the world. I’m not saying I have a problem with it. But it got me thinking about what I wanted to do.”
My takeaway: Say yes. Take on more responsibilities, more projects. Rack up as much experience as you can, and when you can no longer get ahead to where you want to be, move on and parlay that experience into a new and better job.
The 80/20 rule
She says: “My theory is that 20% of every job is shit. Not to say that you can only be 80% happy, but you will always have status meetings and timesheets and things that are not fun for you. But if, on four out of five days per week you aren’t doing things like that, that’s pretty good. So I tried to tell myself that on good days—when I started looking for a new job, I said to myself, “What did I do today that made me happy? How can I do that?”
My takeaway: I firmly believe that even ‘dream jobs’ have their mundanities, and thinking anything else is naive. It’s about overall balance; when you’re miserable more often than not, that’s when you need to reconsider.
You need a champion – not just a mentor
She says: “Ten months. I got promoted out of cycle, which was really amazing. My boss led it, and the moral of that story is to find someone who will fight for you. It’s the Sheryl Sandberg thing—you don’t just need mentors; you need champions as well. I had a boss who was getting on people’s cases, saying, “I want to hire this person.” “I want to promote this person.” “I want her to work on these projects. I don’t want her to have to work on these other things.” Chances are you’re not going to get that relationship, but look for it, and look for opportunities to turn a relationship into that sort of relationship. You’ll know it when you see it.”
My takeaway: Advice is one thing; someone who knows your capabilities, believes in your potential, and will go to bat for you is another. And this is why clicking with your boss is more important than I ever thought. I’ll never forget my first boss, who did exactly this for me, unprompted.
Tags: career, work
Florida didn’t make it to our itinerary this time around, but hopefully one day we’ll have the chance to visit! Heck, maybe we could even retire there…
America’s favorite vacation state is home to a good chunk of the best places to retire in the nation, according to a RealtyTrac report that was released this summer. The California-based foreclosure and housing trend tracking company based the rankings on a compilation of property prices, demographic information (cities with more than one-third of the population at or over retirement age), and annual income of residents in each area. The fact that the Sunshine State occupies seven of the 15 spots comes as no surprise, considering they took into account the likelihood of sunshine annually and average temperature.
Florida is so big and diverse that there is a perfect retirement town for just about everyone. From the cooler climates in the northern part, to the wet, sticky beauty of the Everglades in the south, here are four of the very best places to retire in Florida.
4. Punta Gorda
Punta Gorda, Florida comes in at the number four spot on this list, thanks in part to its humble population of around 17,000, 44 percent of which are of retirement age. You’ll not likely get lost in this adorable town. Investing in property here will be a breeze; the median home sale price is an affordable $138,938 as of May 2013. The annual temperature is an enjoyable 74 degrees, which is ideal for retirees. Check out Punta Gorda and see what it has to offer you in your retirement days.
If you’re considering retiring in the near future, an annuity calculator will help calculate your assets and help find where you sit financially.
3. North Fort Myers
Just north of Naples, along the shores of the wonderous Gulf of Mexico, also in the southern part of the state, lies the number three spot on our list. North Fort Myers is home to 36,609 people, as of the 2010 census, making it the largest town on this list. If you’re looking for a welcoming community filled with people your age and plenty of things to do, look no further. Forty-three percent of people who call North Fort Myers home are of retirement age, and 66 percent of them are over the age of 45.
With an average air temperature of 75, and median home prices hovering around $84,500, it’s a great place to look into retiring.
In the number two spot on our list of best places in Florida to retire is Naples. In the Southernmost section of Florida, Naples hugs the western coast of the Sunshine State, and residents enjoy easy access to the stunning Gulf of Mexico and all it’s glory. In fact, the Travel Channel rated it 2005′s best beach in America, and it consistently appears in best beaches of Florida lists by various publications and newscasts. Though the town is larger than some on this list, its modest population of 21,600 makes for a lovely place to retire where everyone will know your name.
Where the average daily temperature is 74, the climate certainly leaves nothing to complain about. The median sales price is higher than some on this list too; as of May, 2013, it was $267,473. Nevertheless, any retiree would surely love to join the large population of retired people in Naples — 44 percent of all residents, to be exact.
Situated just north of Tampa near Florida’s west coast in Marion County, Dunnellon is the very best place to retire in all of America. With a modest, cozy population of under 2,000 people, more than 60 percent of all the residents of this tiny town are over the age of 45, and 38 percent are of retirement age. The demographics of this town paint a lovely picture of a classic retirement community, but the real estate statistics are what really drive it home.
The median price of home sales in Dunnellon is around $76,941. That’s less than half of the median price of homes across the U.S. Definitely affordable enough to make a comfy retirement bungalow. Add to that the average chance of sunshine on any given day is nearly 70 percent, and the average temperature is 70, and it’s hard to imagine wanting to live anywhere else.
With its picturesque weather and idealistic beaches, it’s no wonder Florida is a hotspot for people to retire these days. The trend of folks heading to the Sunshine State will only increase as the baby boomers continue to retire across the country every day. They say the trend will continue until the last of them reaches retirement age, which will be around 2029. Which locations are you looking to make your second home in retirement? Please feel free to share any personal experience in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Writer Molly is a prolific writer who spends all her time on the Internet writing about everything that fancies her. She is a well sought after guest writer who can write across all niches including, but not limited to, tech, gadgets, travel, finance, education, health, etc. You can find her on Twitter as @WriterMollyP.