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Everyone Can't Afford To Quit Their Job To Travel The World. And That's OK.

Travel

For me, the thought of traveling to the next destination is greater than any high that I could ever experience. The luxury of trotting around the globe is one that I consider to be a blessing. But don't believe the hype, I need to work a 9-5 to do it. And quite honestly, I'm tired of hearing narratives about people who "dropped everything" to see the world. They'd explain that they had $10-20K in the bank saved up and they decided to just get up and go! More power to them (or you) if this is their reality, but I've got BILLS! Day-to-day expenses, kids, student loan debt, etc. make it necessary for many of us to punch a clock just to make ends meet, let alone plan a vacation.

My wanderlust obsession came later in life. By the time I began to travel on a regular basis, I was already running the corporate rat race trying to pay back student loans that I had taken out for both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees. The last thing on my mind was walking away from my "bread and butter" to travel full-time. Yeah, I know. It's possible to get to the point where you can get paid to travel regularly, but even that takes time. Parenthood can present challenges as well. And while I don't have children, I often speak to parents who talk about how working around their children's social and school schedules in addition to getting the money required to do it all can many times force them to put their wanderlust on the back burner.

But despite life's demands, it is possible to create a balance between juggling responsibilities and setting aside time and money to travel. Here are some creative ways to do it:

1.Use a portion of pay increases to create a travel fund.

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Even if it's $5 or $10 dollars per week, a little can go a long way. You can either open up a bank account and have the money automatically taken out during a certain time of the month so that you never see it, or it can be as simple as a jar on the counter that you contribute to regularly. Using a pay raise or work bonus is a great way to reward yourself with money toward that trip that you've been looking forward to. $10 a week could go towards a one-way or roundtrip flight by the end of the year, depending on the airline and where you're traveling.

2.Establish your needs vs. wants.

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Sis, do you really need that Frappuccino? Establishing want you need to spend your money on and what you don't, could make the difference between you actually going on that dream vacation or just fantasizing about it while scrolling through pics on social media. Sometimes, you can't buy the pretty wardrobe and fly out to show it off. Also, forgoing your favorite lunch and packing a turkey sandwich and a salad could save you hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards your travel fund. If travel is important, make sacrifices that help to get you closer to your goals.

3.Make time to just do it.

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We're all busy! Especially if you're a parent with a full-time job. It's never going to be a perfect time to travel if you have a ton of responsibilities. And in many cases, by the time we think that it's a perfect time, something else comes up and we miss the window to book a great getaway. So pick a couple of dates at the beginning of the year, lock in the time off, and just pay for the trip! This way, you can't talk yourself out of not going (due to life's responsibilities) at the last minute. Remember, you deserve to unwind. So just do it! If you're worried about a last minute emergency, buy travel insurance, or book a flight on an airline like Southwest that doesn't penalize you for last minute cancellations and gives you flexibility to make changes at no extra charge.

4.Be smart when planning family vacations.

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Parents: if you travel for work, make your points you earn count by using the miles that you've accumulated towards a family vacation. You can also book during airline sales to make your points go further. Also, signing up for a credit card used strictly for travel is an awesome way to get more bang for your buck with hotels, dining, airlines and more! Finally, buying into a timeshare when you have a large family, helps to not only save money, but the multiple rooms and space gives couples a little more privacy than if they had simply booked a double bed at a regular hotel.

5.Put your trip on layaway.

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Do research on "vacation layaway" services that allow you to put a little money down per month six months to a year ahead of your trip. The services come with a fee and can require a deposit as low as ten percent. You can make specified payments for the length of your contract agreement leading up to the trip. It is important to read the fine print when putting a vacation on layaway so as to be sure that you're covered and insured if a last minute emergency arises. Websites like Airfordable.com and FlightLayaway.com are great places to start. You can also check with your favorite airline and ask about payment plans if you don't have the money to pay the full amount for your flight.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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