Without Flexibility Most Plans Fail

Can you find the opportunities?

When flights are canceled, travel bans are declared, and all of the toilet paper has been claimed—how prepared are you to change your plans? Things may seem stressful and that’s because they actually are. Yet, you are sharing this experience with the rest of the word.


Other people are struggling and because of that, you can find solace in the fact that you can connect with others who are experiencing similar problems. Now is the time to reach out and connect, with family, friends, and strangers.


If you’re forced to stay home, take advantage of it. Redecorate the house, play board games with your kids, and start up a new hobby. There is an abundance of opportunity during these trying times. The hard part is figuring out what these opportunities are.


I was planning on traveling to South Africa to wait out the spread of the virus but, now I have to stay in SouthEast Asia. Instead of staying sad, I’ve decided to take advantage of my situation and start reaching out to hotels in the area to gain extra work.


I’m going to use this moment to try and get new clients, that’s the approach I’ve decided to take. What is something you can do right now to make this moment better?


Image Credit: Unsplash


The Plastic In Our Lives: An Issue Easily Ignored

Photo: Image of Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia. February 27th, 2020.

It is in your body right now

Each week, you are walking around with a credit card. This credit card is not in your pocket, safely stored in your wallet or a purse. This credit card is in your stomach, in the form of plastic granules. Every week you could be consuming 1,769 particles of plastic every week from water alone. You could also be consuming this plastic from that salmon steak you had at your favorite restaurant or from the fruit you buy at your favorite grocery store.


We all know of the negative effects that plastic is having on the environment and even if we are aware of the negative effects it has on our bodies, we still continue to use it.


Straws are being banned in most restaurants but, that hasn’t halted straw manufacturing. Even if you know that turtles are dying from plastic, that won’t curtail your use of it. Even if you know that you’re swallowing thousands of plastic particles a week, you won’t be able to detect the source of those particles.


There are benefits to plastic

There are many benefits that we get from using plastic. Plastic containers allow for more distribution of food across societies. Without plastic, it would be harder to get food from major supermarket chains.


Plastic also helps to ensure that we don’t get sick from the food and drinks we consume. It prevents harmful bacteria from getting into our bodies.


The global plastic industry is also extremely lucrative. If you work in distribution or manufacturing you could have a share of a $16.7 billion pie by 2023. Plastic is used in the food, packaging, construction, electrical, and transportation industries.


Plastic is used in almost every facet of our lives, this is why there is a lot of friction when it comes to asking society to stop using it. Until it becomes more lucrative to create a biodegradable replacement to plastic, things won’t change. After all, change happens faster when there is a big financial incentive involved.


How removal is handled in Indonesia

An immediate example of how plastic removal isn’t effective in many countries is to look at the island of Bali, Indonesia. In beaches of Kuta and Uluwatu, what were once beautiful and clean surfing scenes, are now covered in trash.


One would assume that there would be a big financial incentive to the restaurants, surfing schools, and bars along the shore to invest in cleaning these beaches. Islands like these prosper from tourism, but it’s hard to make money from tourists if your beaches are dirty. However, whoever is in charge of cleaning has decided to simply drive trucks along the shore to bury the waste under the sand.


This method of “cleaning” certainly solves any cosmetic issues but, it doesn’t remove the plastic — which is what really has to happen. This highlights another underlying issue: there is a lack of global awareness when it comes to the effects of plastic.


Western countries, for the most part, seem to be more proactive when it comes to removing plastic from the oceans. I am confident that other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, will begin to direct their resources to removal but not any time soon.


I don’t know what I can do to help fix this problem. However, I also didn’t know how bad this problem was until I saw it firsthand. If the beaches in Indonesia are as bad as they are currently, I wouldn’t be surprised that there are other countries with the same problem — handling it the same way.


4 Reasons Why You Are Not Traveling

Knowing Your Barriers For Acting Is Half Of The Battle

There are many reasons that can stop you from traveling the world. Once you know what they are, you can convince yourself that it is possible.


You’re dependent on getting your vacation days approved

If you don’t want to dream about traveling anymore, you have to start removing the limitations in your life. The first one to start removing is your employer. I’m not advocating that you submit your letter of resignation tomorrow, but you should start by setting up an automated deposit to your savings account. If you have a financial plan that you’re committed to, that will decrease the dependency you have on your employer.


Long-term travel doesn’t necessitate that you quit your job but, in most cases that is what you will need to do. Some employers will allow you to take a six-month break or sabbatical, but that tends to only happen with mid-level to senior-level managers. There is a risk involved in leaving your job to go travel the world but, if they truly see your value they will keep an open spot for you in the future. If they don’t want to hire you when you come back, they are losing out on a better version of who you are.


You’re scared of not being with your friends and family

When you travel for a long time, you will also sacrifice time spent with friends and family. You won’t be there for the birthdays, barbecues, and weekend Netflix binging sessions at your cousin’s house. Yet, what you will gain from your experience traveling will match, and sometimes transcend moments spent with your loved ones.


You’ll be able to come back with a bunch of cool stories to share with your friends and family. Even better, you may even inspire some of them to start their own adventures.


You’re worried that taking a pause on your career will set you back

You don’t need to put a pause on your career while traveling. Becoming a digital nomad can be an option you can explore if you prepare in advance by finding remote work. There are a ton of digital nomads in the world who find their jobs by researching Youtube to discover what’s available and then using LinkedIn, Craigslist, Monster, AngelList, and other job platforms to find work. It will take time but, if a hypothetical hiring manager’s opinion of your resume gap is your biggest concern, don’t worry.


You can also use your travels to augment your resume. Highlighting what skills you learned during your experiences — negotiating, time management, and budgeting — can help you stand out during your next interview.


You’re afraid of traveling because it seems dangerous

The most dangerous places in the world tend to only be dangerous because the news needs to grab your attention. Most scams in any country can be researched prior to your trip (Youtubers love doing “Top 10 Scams” videos).


Traveling helps you gain a better sense of awareness for your surroundings, the point is to leave home even if you’re scared. Locals in other countries treat travelers kindly for the most part, but it is also imperative that you research local customs and etiquette before arriving at your destination.


Finding all the reasons for not traveling can be a somewhat insurmountable task. There are definitely more reasons that you can use to convince yourself not to leave. However, traveling is accessible to all of us if we are only willing to take the first step. The first step is usually just saying, “it’s possible.” Then simply use the internet to start researching and preparing. This is when you begin making the dream practical and achievable.


“If You Can Make It Here…”

Why I Left NYC To Travel

Frank Sinatra’s cliche line is true up to a certain point. Yes, New York City is one of the best cities in the world. Perhaps it is also the best place to grow your career, regardless of the industry you are in. Yet, how do you know for certain that it is the best city? How can you be certain that you can make it anywhere if you are only successful in NYC?


The best way to know if you can make it anywhere should be to leave the Big Apple and see if you can. New York will always have a special place in my heart. I lived there for almost 24 years. It was (and still is) a source of hope for my family, who immigrated from the Dominican Republic, seeking a better life. After more than two decades in one place however, I have to wonder, “Is this all that there is?”


There is an argument to made for leaving NYC. It certainly is the best method for appreciating the experience of living there, which is a great privilege. I do find myself constantly comparing everywhere I have seen to the unique life I had in my hometown. These comparisons also show me that NYC isn’t as perfect as I thought it was.


A city doesn’t need to be a visible rat-infested slum of a subway system, for example. In two of the most populated cities in China, Beijing and Shenzhen, the subways are so clean that one could sit on the floor while waiting for the next train. Without diving into the complexities of exchange rates, a city doesn’t have to be so damn expensive to live in either!


You could live in Chiangmai, Thailand for under $1,000 a month. This is impossible to do in NYC, even in the Bronx. One of the fanciest condos I have ever lived in charges 6,000THB or $192.80 a month in rent. And one doesn’t need to leave the United States to see how ridiculously expensive NYC is. A quick visit to Florida, Georgia, or Texas can also highlight why living in New York is an unnecessary expense and burden on one’s pockets.


Because of my current experiences gained while traveling, I will only be in NYC for small moments at a time now. A week or two is enough for me to visit family and friends. This is all because my suspicions were correct. If I could make it anywhere, that meant I didn’t need to only make it in New York City. I could leave and actually set out to make it, all across the world. And if I find that after traveling, New York City is the best place on earth. Then I will have an even deeper appreciation for the place I grew up in. I suspect it isn’t though and there is only one way to find out.

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Easy Phrases to Learn Before Traveling Anywhere

Learning a Language Can Be Simple

The best investment decision I ever made while living in China was getting a language teacher. It took me a whole year living in China before I decide to take the plunge into seriously learning the language. Once I started my lessons, I started to understand random conversations overheard in the street, at work, and in the media much more! However, it took me way too long to realize the value and impact that a language teacher would have on my life here.


So you may ask yourself, how did I get by during my first year living in China? I often wasn’t lucky enough to encounter locals who spoke English and started learning Chinese mainly through listening. Below is a list of the phrases I used the majority of the time to communicate with people who didn’t understand me when I speaking English.


The ideal scenario is that you take some online courses with a language teacher before traveling anywhere. Although, when you are pressed for time these phrases are the best to use and not just for China.


Greetings & Goodbyes

Hello (Nǐ hǎo 你好)

Good morning (Zǎoshang hǎo 早上好), good afternoon (Xiàwǔ hǎo 下午好), and good evening (Wǎnshàng hǎo 晚上好)

Goodbye (Zàijiàn 再见)


When starting any perceivably long interaction

Sorry, my [insert language] is not good.  (Duìbùqǐ, wǒ de zhōngwén bù hǎo 对不起,我的中文不好)

I am American.  (Wǒ shì měiguó rén 我是美国人)


Finding the essentials

Where is the [insert location/object]?  (zài nǎlǐ 在哪里)

Where is the bathroom?  (Cèsuǒ zài nǎlǐ 厕所在哪里)

Where is the train?  (Dìtiě zài nǎlǐ 地铁在哪里)


When you’re out shopping

How much is it?  (Duōshǎo qián多少钱)

What is this?  (Zhè shì shénme这是什么)

I don’t need. (wǒ bú yòng 我不用)

I don’t want. (Wǒ búyào 我不要)

Thank you  (Xièxiè 谢谢)


When you want to learn or clarify

How do you say [point to object]?  (Nǐ zěnme shuō你怎么说)

What does [word] mean? (shì shénme yìsi 是什么意思)

I don’t understand. (wǒ tīng bù dǒng 我听不懂)


The last three sentences are the most important phrases and the main ones to remember. If you can learn these three sentences during your stay in a country, you can get a contextual understanding of most conversations within a month’s time.


I would recommend learning these phrases as locals tend to be more open and kinder to foreigners who are trying to learn a language. Additionally, the best way to learn about a culture is by learning the language.

If you want to see an extended version of this article on Youtube (and me trying my best not stumble on both Chinese and Spanish) click on the video below.




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