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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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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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