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Are D​a​y Trips Worth It? What Happened On My Day Trip To Santa Barbara

Travel

Last year, I traveled a lot. There were moments when I was jetlagged and fatigued, but traveling benefited my spirit in a way nothing else in my life has.


I would attribute that to my love of learning more about the world around me. I haven't been out of Los Angeles since January, and I could feel myself needing to feed my inner adventurer. So, I traded in my usual Saturday ritual of couch surfing, ordering in, and binge-watching a series on Netflix for a day trip to Santa Barbara, CA. I'd even contemplated staying overnight, but the way hotel prices in Santa Barbara are set up, that would have been too much of a splurge.

I have historically not been a fan of day trips. They usually leave me feeling tired and rushed. But, most of the day trips I've taken were for work and were usually fours hours (or more) away —making my trek eight hours roundtrip. Since the train ride to the coastal town was just two hours (and I didn't have to navigate through LA traffic), I thought, Why not?

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I bought my ticket on the Amtrak site two nights before and did my usual Sunday chores like laundry, grocery shopping, and wash day Friday evening after work because I knew that I'd want to make Sunday my "do nothing" day. The next morning, my alarm went off at 6:30 am. I rolled my eyes and hit snooze, thinking to myself, Why did I book an 8:21 am train ride? After hitting snooze more times than I can count, I got up, got dressed, and called my rideshare.

I boarded my train, and I was off on my day trip adventure. I even treated myself to a mimosa and cheese plate. My day was filled with trying local restaurants, chatting with the locals, wine tasting, and just taking in the beauty of Santa Barbara. Here are a few things I learned about making a day trip count:

Don't Go Too Far

Courtesy of Bianca Lambert for xoNecole

If you're traveling to a city for the day, consider how far you'll have to drive or ride to get there. My two-hour train ride was just enough. I was able to read, have a drink, and relax while taking in scenic views of the Pacific Coast. My new rule of thumb for day trips is that if you're in route longer than the time you're spending in the city, you might want to make it a weekend trip or choose a closer location.

Plan Ahead

Courtesy of Bianca Lambert for xoNecole

Day trips might seem like something to wake up and do, but without taking the time to think about the things you want to do once you get to your destination, you'll likely waste a portion of your day deciding what to see, eat, and do. TripAdvisor and Yelp can be great guides, but finding information put together by local bloggers or publications give you a chance to explore the city like a local and skip the tourist traps.

Turn Off Anything That Will Make You Want To Scroll

Courtesy of Bianca Lambert for xoNecole

Before I left my house on Saturday morning, I deleted my email and social media apps. I tend to mindlessly scroll when I have nothing to do, and two hours of scrolling on a trip that was meant to help me clear my mind seemed counterproductive. Instead of using my phone to keep me entertained, I brought a book. I know that we want to share our travels with our friends in real time or answer that work email really quick, but you'll only be away for a few hours. Stay in the moment and share your memories with your internet friends when you return home.

Do What You Enjoy

Courtesy of Bianca Lambert for xoNecole

I love visiting art museums and eating at local food spots, but I don't do enough of that in my free time, so I found a way to do all of those things in a seven-hour window without feeling rushed. I started my day at a Parisian cafe called Bree'osh with a bacon and egg brioche bun coupled with a dirty chai latte. I sat in the sun and ate while I read my book. I felt like I was on vacation even though I was just ninety-five miles away. My next stop was the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to see the Kehinde Wiley piece they were showcasing. Of course, I had to leave a little black girl magic there (see above).

Follow The Locals

Courtesy of Bianca Lambert for xoNecole

When you're trying to find things to do in a new city, it can be easy to get caught up visiting all the "hot spots" or touristy areas. No shade to those part of town, but my general rule of thumb is to spend no more than an hour channeling my inner tourist and spend the majority of the time going where the locals go.

Santa Barbara is known for its wine tasting rooms, so I knew I had to go to at least one. I found one that was a little off the beaten path that was connected to a cheese shop. I opted for the twenty-dollar wine tasting, and then went next door to C'est and made my version of a charcuterie board, which was very basic, but was just enough for me. Five pours of wine later, I was feeling it and needed food. There was a must-go-to taco stand on my list, but I decided to go with an option that is known as a local favorite called Lily's Tacos. The tacos were cheap, yummy, and just a few blocks away from the Amtrak station. Once I was done, it was time to head back to the station.

Lately, I've been feeling the need to "get away," to be honest, I've wanted to run away — which I know isn't a good thing. I thought maybe I'd run away to Italy for a month or go off the grid in Sedona, but I know that isn't a reason to travel because running away solves nothing. But, if I focus on being mindful and grateful while tapping into the cities around me, maybe that thought of running away will get quiet (which is what happened). We don't have to plan a big trip to get out of town nor do we have to spend a ton of money. My trip cost me $109, roundtrip Amtrak ticket included.

Next time you want to get out of your home city, think about the places nearby that might have something to offer whether that's nature, good food, or an opportunity to do something out of your comfort zone.

Traveling is good for the soul, and you don't have to go far to get the benefits.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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