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I Jetset On A Budget For An Entire Year With These Travel Hacks

Being a great traveler is not about getting your hi-res photo featured on a dope travel Instagram page.

Travel

Two years ago, Santa came through in the form of a glitch fare to Johannesburg, South Africa with Etihad Airlines.

I called my sister from another mother and told her she and I needed to hop on this once-in-a-lifetime deal because I didn't know how long it would last. From May 13 to May 19, we explored Jozi and later that week Cape Town. We spent a total $450 for our flights. Of course the experience was fun, but there were resources that put me in the know about these flights before others.

Johannesburg, South Africa

In 2015, I became known as a "the traveler" in my circle -- a name I still feel like I don't deserve -- but it has always been my goal to rack up miles. My excursions included a work assignment at Disney World and quick weekend getaways to Charlotte, North Carolina, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The biggest thing I've learned this year is that being a great traveler is not about getting your hi-res photo featured on a dope travel Instagram page.

You have to put in the work to get to your destination first. Applying the following rules to the traveling game should have you flying high in 2019. There is no secret to this. Take it from this jetsetter newbie.

1. Create a travel bucket list.

As they say, write your vision down and make it plain. Looking back at my journal in 2013, J-burg was on my travel bucket list. A year later, I found an amazing deal going there. Next year, I'm marking other international cities. Use a vision board or wallpaper on your phone or laptop to post a photo of the place you want to go. Seeing is believing.

2. Sign up for flight deal newsletters.

My favorite travel newsletter is The Flight Deal. Every day, they send out a list of deals that that are poppin at the moment. They only last about 24 hours, so if you're planning to get on board, buy the ticket as soon as possible. The Flight Deal does a great job at laying out how to find the deal, and if you're patient and determined, you will be able to buy a ticket at a price that will shock others.

Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles

3. Sign up for airline flight trackers.

Many people check the standings of their favorite sports team daily. Or they check the prices of their favorite shoes to see if they are finally on sale. Travelers do the same religiously with airline prices.

My favorite flight price tracker is Airfarewatchdog. The site tells me the prices of round trip flights leaving my local airports. Los Angeles is a city I visited for the first time for below average cost this year because I was paying attention. As a matter of fact, I was able to go from east to west twice, because I caught two super cheap flights. Let's apply the knowledge.

On average, a flight can run you anywhere from $200 to $400 between NYC and Los Angeles. How did I know this? Because I chose to get the e-mails to my inbox daily for these flights and I noticed the price patterns.

Keeping this in mind, when I received an e-mail in June with a flight from JFK to LAX $150 roundtrip on American Airlines, I immediately hopped on it. That's $50 below normal and was within my budget so I moved with the quickness. I had connecting flights in Dallas, but I didn't mind. I had never been to Texas, so it gave me time to explore their airport. And even though I was only there for two hours, I learned two things: people were friendly and their food options were the best I've seen in any airport!

4. Follow social media pages of airlines.

Sometimes airlines offer glitch fares as a marketing tactic. I follow JetBlue on Twitter. In February, I saw that they were running a promotion for super cheap flights between colder cities and warmer cities. They had a flight from New York City to Los Angeles for only $60-something dollars roundtrip! Because the website was hit with a crazy amount of traffic as word spread, I had trouble booking the flight and the price unfortunately went up. When I finally booked it, it was $180. Still not bad, especially since it was a direct flight.

5. Know your search tools!

When I have no flight deal to start with, Google Flights is my starting point. To me, their search picks up the best results. They also allow you to see how much the trip would cost if you took it on another date.

I also have to give honorable mention to Edreams, especially for international flights. For example, when I was booking my flight from Jozi to Cape Town most sites would return prices that were $200-$300. But when I used Edreams, they returned flights for $115 RT.

Skyscanner is great for the more open traveler. Let's say you're not concerned about the destination and more about going somewhere that you can get the most bang for your buck. You type in your departure city and select "flexible" for your destination. They will then list current prices from your destination to multiple cities.

6. Multiple cities? Book flights together

Sometimes you can save by booking multiple cities together. For example, I'm traveling to Jozi in March, and for some reason a one-way flight showed up as $800 in Google flights. I was not accepting this, especially when you can get a roundtrip flight for the same price. Being that I am continuing my travels, I decided to book a later flight to Madrid at the same time. After finagling things, I booked New York to Johannesburg and Johannesburg to Madrid for $675 total.

7. Pack light.

This is an art I am still working on. I'm getting better at it. I never ever wear the amount of clothes that I pack. Many airlines are making money off checked baggage these days so packing light will help you save money and have less of a headache.

8. Use Ebates.

When possible, you can receive a percentage back for hotel stays, vacation packages and flights by going through Ebates.com a coupon site. If you plan to book any part of your trip through Orbitz, Priceline, Hotwire, BookIt, etc. you can receive a percentage back for the price you paid. They don't process the money until after your stay or flight. This is an amazing money-saving opportunity.

9. Stay with Airbnb.

I've been using Airbnb since 2013. There have been horror stories in the news. But I've had many great experiences from hosts using the app and the price point you can get for a 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom apartment trumps high priced hotel costs. I love having access to a kitchen when I'm traveling for quick meals and to save money on food. For safety, your best bet is to always go with a host who has high ratings and reviews. Don't go with a host who is brand new if you're not willing to take that risk, and always communicate your concerns before you book. The cool thing about staying in an Airbnb is that your hosts can give you up-to-date local knowledge to make the most of your trip. Also, they are sometimes cheaper than hotels.

10. Join a travel community.

There are many different travel groups and various travel Facebook groups, you can join to learn more about your dream destinations and connect with like-minded travelers. By joining a travel group, you can type, “Hey guys anyone in Los Angeles? What are some good cost-friendly sushi restaurants to check out?" and know for sure you'll get great responses back. From traveling newbie to traveling veteran, everyone is welcome.

11. Don't be too bougie to sleep on the coach.

I'm blessed to have friends and family in different cities throughout the country. It is the reason why I was able to stay in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Charlotte, N.C. for free of charge this year. But of course don't be that friend that freeloads. Return the favor, if they're looking to travel to your city soon. Or buy them back some groceries or offer them gas money. It's just the right thing to do.

12. Always have a plug.

In Johannesburg, my friend and I met a blogger on line for a day party who is my point of contact when I return to the city next year. We kicked it with natives at all the cool spots thanks to a friend of a friend who agreed to take us around while we were visiting. My friend and I also found a whiskey bar in Charlotte that had the most amazing sweet potato tater tots on earth by asking a bouncer at a club for a recommendation. If possible, see if someone in your circle knows someone in the place you're visiting. If not, always ask a local resident for advice when you get there. It definitely plugs you all the way in to the city you're visiting!

Also plan ahead. There are travel planning apps like TRIP, which allows you to view what events are going on in the city you are visiting, as well as the best places to go and restaurants to visit.

Of course, these aren't the ONLY hacks out there. Always do your research and be patient. Your traveling adventures await you in 2019!

Featured image by Getty Images

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
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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