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Ditch Your iPhone! 5 Cameras That Can Improve Your Photography

Despite the hundreds of billboards Apple has placed across the United States showcasing the iPhone 6’s camera, cell phones will never replace the need for a decent camera.  And while I’m no Ken Rockwell, or even an amateur camera reviewer, I believe some cameras force you to become a better photographer and heighten the picture-taking experience.

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Fuji X100T

First and foremost: digital cameras have surpassed any and all needs of the ‘prosumer’ (professional + consumer) market, and anytime a company undergoes a major innovation or change it’s seen as a step backwards.

Case in point, the Fuji X100T, with a 16mp APS-C sized CMOS sensor, hybrid – digital/optical viewfinder, manual exposure settings, and fixed lens.  You read that right.  A $1200 camera without a 100x zoom lens built in.  But that’s exactly why I love this camera.

The Fuji X100T, is a throwback to cameras of yesteryear: fixed lens, optical rangefinder, manual exposure settings (automatic options available).  It uses a 35mm-equivalent, f/2 lens, producing some sweet bokeh and working well in low light situations.  The lens is sharp, and I mean SHARP.  Sure, there are other cameras with 150x zoom out there, but do you really need that?  When you shoot with a zoom lens, you think less about what’s in the composition.  With a fixed lens, you interact with your subject more.  You don’t zoom, you walk back and forth until the picture is perfect.  Fixed lenses don’t allow you to be lazy, but they can reward you with better photography in the long run.

Another feature I love about this camera is the “Classic Chrome Feature”, which replicates the funky colors of Kodachrome (R.I.P!).  Have you ever flipped through a William Eggleston book and marveled at the off-beat colors?  The Fuji X100T can replicate this ancient slide film, without the overbearing color shift that Instagram and VSCO produces.

My major complaint about this camera stems from the manufacturer, not the actual camera, but it’s worth noting.  Fuji’s customer service is deplorable.  I’ve read through hundreds of stories about Fuji refusing to repair a camera, or failing to respond to customer inquiries.

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Canon G1x Mark II

Canon’s flagship point and shoot ‘prosumer’ camera, the G1X Mark II, has a few things I love, and a few things I hate.

While Canon hasn’t really produced a decent micro four-thirds camera, the G1X Mark II knocks the image quality out of the ballpark, thanks for a sensor slightly larger than other mirrorless cameras.  This is something consistent with the G1X line, as it’s predecessor was well known for it’s image quality.

The camera also features built in wifi, and a ring around the barrel to assist with the zoom function.  Wifi is a feature that is slowly creeping it’s way into the high end camera market, albeit slowly.  Canon does not offer any sort of smartphone or tablet interface, which would allow you to access your photos, making the support for this feature rather bleak.

The camera also has a 24-120mm equivalent lens, which is great for people seeking alot of zoom for their travel photography.  Canon seemed to do away with the built-in viewfinder originally on the G1X, which is unfortunate, because no photographer should use the LCD for shooting.  Canon has released an external viewfinder that attaches to the G1X Mark II’s flash hot shoe, but it’s an additional expense we’re not a fan of.

It’s also important to note that Canon has extremely good support, several service centers around the United States, and manufactures this product entirely in Japan.

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Leica Q

Full disclosure:  I’m a big Leica fan.  I own a couple 35mm M cameras, with a small lens collection to go along with it but for the life of me, I’ve never been a fan at their digital cameras.  Digital Leica’s have always seemed a step behind other manufacturers in the technology department.  Beautiful optics and aesthetic, yes, but piss-poor electronics and horrendous menus.

The Leica Q is a little different though.  This isn’t a camera designed for the mass market, which is why I love this camera.  Although it looks as if the lens is detachable, it comes with one non-interchangeable, 28mm fixed lens.  This lens is sharp though, Summicron level quality, and boasts an ultra-fast f/1.7 aperture.  No camera in it’s class offers a lens this fast, and unlike other cameras, you can shoot at 1.7 and get images just as sharp as if they were shot at f/22.  This cameras lens is out of this world good.

Unlike other cameras in it’s class, the Leica Q uses a full-frame sensor.  This is the first Leica camera I’ve used that I feel fully confident in it’s low light capabilities.  The full-frame sensor also handles dynamic range better than most digital cameras, something I’ve always struggled with when shooting digital.

The menu feels like Leica actually hired a UI designer, which is a huge improvement from their earlier digital models.  Although this camera doesn’t use a zoom, it has a 35mm & 50mm cropped mode.  This might sound disconcerting at first, but the 24mp full-frame resolution is already so insanely huge, you’ll hardly ever see a difference.

The Leica Q also has a built-in electronic viewfinder, which is extremely helpful for street photography, or any other situation where you’d want to photograph quickly.  Speaking of, the lens has a very accurate auto focus mode, something I’ve never seen in a Leica lens before.  The camera does not boast a million different auto focus points, something other cameras try to compete with, but I found the AF mode to be adequate and acceptable.

Now that I’ve undoubtedly sold you on this camera, I should note that it carries a $4,200 price tag, and is backordered through many Leica dealers.  Leica is also an expensive rabbit hole to go down.  After you’ve bought the camera, you’ll be paying a premium for brand-name accessories…

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Olympus Epic 35mm

Film?!  Who uses film anymore?!

Before I get into the specifics on this camera, allow me to defend the art of shooting film.  Yes, people still make film.  In fact, Ilford and Kodak have both seen a experienced a bit of a comeback with the film stock, and theres never been a better time to shoot film than now.  Several small independent labs have sprouted up all across the country (Indie Film Labs, Photo Impact, North Coast Photo, Old School Photo Lab), and I’m a firm believer that film makes you a better photographer.  Film requires less photoshop work and renders Instagram filters obsolete.

The Olympus Epic 35mm point and shoot was released as film was slowly on it’s way out, which is a shame because this is one of the best point and shoots to hit the market.  It uses a tack-sharp 35mm f/3.5 lens, completely auto exposure, and offers little else in the way of features.  Also, this camera is cheap.  Like $40 cheap.  For all the money you save on an expensive digital camera, take an extra trip.

So why would I suggest such a basic bare-bones camera?  For it’s simplicity.  Using a simple camera like this lets you focus on the composure of your shot.  Rather than fuss with your white balance settings, the camera is fast and doesn’t miss a moment.  I personally carry this camera with me wherever, concerts, hikes, road trips, and everywhere inbetween.

And for the record, yes, airports will hand inspect your film.  I’ve flown through dozens of airports: LA, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Portland, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Reykjavik, Panama, Bogota, Quito, and Tijuana; never once denied a hand inspection on my film.

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Nikon FM2

Ah… the good ol’ Nikon FM2.  A stalwart of photography 101 courses everywhere, this camera is considered one of the most well-rounded film SLRs of all time.  Built to survive a nuclear blast, the FM2 is durable as hell, and offers manual exposure options with a simple automatic override feature.  Paired with a 50mm lens, this camera represents generations of professional photography excellence.

There are a couple huge advantages to this camera.  First, it lets you take full advantage of Nikon’s lens system, which at it’s time was one of the best in the world.  Nikon hasn’t changed it’s lens system since 1952, meaning you can purchase lenses for an FM2 and use them on a current digital SLR.  This camera doesn’t have auto focus (duh!) but any Nikon lens with a an aperture ring will fit, no problem!

I also love this camera because it’s discreet.  If you travel in an area known for pick pockets, most thieves aren’t going to bother with an old film camera.  This camera accompanied me throughout Bogota, Quito & Panama City and didn’t once turn any heads.  If you’re looking for a camera that won’t scream ‘TOURIST!’, then look no further than this Nikon.

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Where We’re Traveling in 2016

With the new year upon us, travel planning has commenced.  Whether you’re a seasoned travel vet, or you’re just starting out with a fresh passport, here are some destinations to consider this year.

Japan 
Full disclosure, I’ve wanted to visit Japan for the better part of a decade but the trip has never really materialized.  Traveling from the US to Japan has been tricky, partly due to the high value of the Yen and expensive travel prices.  Two years ago the US dollar traded at 70 Yen, but today is trading around 117 Yen.  What used to be seen as a country with too high a price tag, is now attainable for US travelers with a budget.
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Western Canada
Although Montreal might have the culture, British Columbia and Alberta hog all the adventure.  Over the past couple years, Travel Alberta has launched massive social media campaigns promoting Banff and Jasper with photographers like Chris Burkard, Alex Strohl, Andy Best, and Callum Snape.  If you’re still unsure why Western Canada is where it’s at, peep any of their Instagram accounts and you’ll be quickly convinced.
But there’s another reason why NOW is the time to visit Canada.  Like Japan’s Yen, Canada’s dollar is trading at 40% less than it was a year ago.  This means your travel expenses, such as hotels, rental cars, gas and food will be at a fraction of the cost in the US.
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Iceland
For the outdoorsy types out there, Iceland is the place to be in 2016, thanks to a slew of Iceland-based budget airlines sprouting up around the US.  WOW Airlines, who previously only serviced NYC, Boston and Washington DC, has now extended service to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
How budget is budget?  WOW Airlines offers one way flights to Reykjavik for $99 and connecting flights to most of Western Europe for another $99.  This means you can fly LA to Berlin for a mere $400 round trip!  If WOW airlines is not your thing, consider Icelandair.  Icelandair offers travel packages that include a hotel room for a few hundred dollars, and operate out of various cities around the US.
Cuba
No matter your political belief (or lack there of), nobody can deny the curiosity of a trip to Havana.  With Obama easing travel restrictions, tour companies are preparing for the trade embargo to be lifted over the next year or so.  The general consensus amongst travelers is to get in and see Cuba before it’s quirky, self-reliant culture is destroyed by droves of tourists.
Visiting Cuba requires that US citizen fit one of twelve categories, classified as licenses, even though no paperwork needs to be filed.  These categories range from NGO work to family visits for Cuban nationals to studying Spanish in organized people-to-people programs, however ‘tourism’ is still technically illegal.  The lack of paperwork and little oversight has led to a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ type situation where travelers plan their vacations, and if questioned by immigration, state they were visiting on one of the 12 licenses.  From my own research, it appears as if many people (if any) have been held up by U.S. Immigration or been asked to present documentation proving their visit.
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U.S. National Parks
Who doesn’t love a good national park trip?  (No seriously, if you don’t, you must also hate back rubs, puppies, and Christmas).  The National Park Service is approaching it’s Centennial, and at a time of peak bi-partisan bickering, now is the perfect time to remind our elected officials of “the best idea America ever had”.
The greatest thing about our National Parks, is that they don’t have to be expensive.  Most parks are only a tank of gas away and host plenty of empty campsites throughout the year.  Yes, Yosemite is awesome, and the Gramd Canyon is grand, but there are many National Parks that receive less attention.  Acadia National Park is a scant 4 hour drive from Boston and most of the East coast can access the Great Smoky Mountains easily.
Mexico
If there ever was a country more perfect for cultural discovery, it’s Mexico.  Mexico has been painted in a negative light by the U.S. Media over the last few years, however it’s important to remember 1) most stories on the news are exaggerated and 2) the media speaks for a small minority of the general population.  99.9% of the people you’ll encounter in Mexico are wonderful and loving people and fortunately much of the violence that plagued border towns like Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, and Mexicali has dissipated.
It’s also important to keep in mind how huge and culturally diverse this country is.  You wouldn’t avoid traveling to Florida because of some murders in Chicago, no?  Mexico has 31 states, and although Americans would be hard pressed to name more than one, it’s important to keep in mind drug related violence is centralized in a few states.
With that out of the way, we’re expect excited to explore the Yucatan in 2016.  Between the underground Cenotes (swimming holes), an underwater museum in the Caribbean, and Mayan ruins, Mexico captures our imagination in more ways than one.  Mexico City has been gaining notoriety on the international food stage, and Guanajuato perfectly blends elements from Spaniard rule with a 21st century vibe.  Adventurers looking for real adventure should look to Xilitla in the state of San Luis Potosí, and who wouldn’t mind an relaxing weekend in Puerto Vallarta?
Now that you know where we’re going, where are you going this year?
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Travel for Free: A Guide to Working the System

Disclaimer:  The guide below is intended to help people with little experience using a credit card to earn travel miles.  It is intended as a basic guide to break everything down in plain English.  If you are looking for a more in depth study of credit card milage, we’d recommend looking up The Points Guy.  Also, many writers who blog about credit card points receive some sort of compensation from advertisers.  I have no advertisers, nor do I specialize in writing about travel points.  All opinions are my own with little bias.

Everyone wants to travel, but few have the discipline and drive to set aside the time and money required to travel abroad. Fortunately there are many credit card companies out there, willing to throw free flights and other incentives at travelers looking to open another line of credit. This is the best way to travel for cheap, but it requires some leg-work on the travellers end. The guide below should assist you in finding a new credit card for 2016, and how to maximize those points into a free flight.  Brace yourselves, this is a long read but helpful if you’re just getting into travel credit cards.

You have to seek out the best cards

The best credit card offers are never the ones that show up in your mailbox un announced.   If you want to maximize the airline points for every dollar you spend, you’ll need to seek out the cards with the best rewards.

Devise a credit plan

Before you start applying for cards, write up a credit plan. A credit plan can work alot like a budget you’d write for your personal expenses. Determine how much disposable income is available each month, and make sure your credit expenses don’t exceed this. Chart out all large purchases you need to make over the foreseeable future, and make sure you use a new credit card with a sign-on bonus for this purchase.  More on this below.

Pay your balance off every month!

Seriously. I shouldn’t even have to write this, but it needs to be repeated. Your credit line isn’t free money for you to spend. Credit serves as an extension of your own personal finances, so if you don’t have any disposable income for the time being, you shouldn’t be using your credit card. Keep in mind that any interest you incur on your credit card could negate the points you’ve accumulated. A free $500 flight isn’t really free if you’re spending $750 on interest.

Doesn’t Opening a New Card Hurt My Credit?

Yes and no. The number of new credit cards you’re holding only makes up about 15% of your credit score, but paying off the balance on a card will increase your score by 40 points. You might see a small dip in your credit score if you apply for 3 or 4 new cards, but the #1 determinant of your credit score is if you pay your bills.

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Choosing a Card

Points

The basis of a travel card is to earn points for every dollar you spend. All rewards cards are built around this premise, but not all cards offer the same point value. For example, the Capital One Venture card offers 2 points for every dollar spent on the card, where as the American Airlines Advantage/Citi card offers 1 point on the dollar. This is extremely important to keep in mind when selecting a card.

Interest Rate

Traditionally, the interest rate is what sets apart a good credit card from bad credit card, however this isn’t the sole basis for deciding a travellers credit card. Cards with good incentives typically have slightly higher interest rates but are worth it if you can pay it off with each billing cycle.

Sign-on Bonus

The meat-and-potatoes of any good travel card is the sign on bonus. Most sign-bonuses require you to spend a fixed amount to earn a certain number of travel points, such as spending $3,000 in 3 months to earn 50,000 points. You’ll also earn points for that dollar value, allowing you the opportunity to walk around 56,000 points if your card earns 2 points per dollar.

This is where financial planning comes in handy. Always plan your big purchases around a sign-on bonus. Let’s say you need to purchase a new computer in January, move to a new home in July, and you’re looking at two new travel cards. Apply to the card with the lower sign on bonus in January, then apply for the card with the higher sign-on bonus in July, since moving to a new home is most certainly more expensive than a computer.

These sign-on bonuses allowed me to start travelling in college. I would take out a new card with a sign on bonus and use it to pay some of my tuition.   Then when the bill would come, I’d use my financial aid money to pay the card off and collect my travel points. In just under a year, I had earned over 100,000 flyer points.

Corresponding Airline

The airline associated with your credit card will also determine how you can use your points. Some travellers cards are associated with a booking agency like Orbitz, Expedia, or Kayak, allowing you to apply your points are any number of airlines. Most cards however, are aligned with a specific airline, each with their own corresponding awards chart and point value. For example, Southwest, Virgin, and Jet Blue are very accommodating of your flyers points, only limiting travellers to a few restrictions when redeeming points. On the other hand, American Airlines and United Airlines make travellers bear through an unbelievable amount of flight restrictions and bureaucracy in order to redeem points.

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Cards We Hate

 

American Airlines – Citi/AA Advantage

 The good: American Airlines offers flights to just about anywhere, so you can sometimes score good flights out of the country. Their points can be used to travel to nearly any airport in the US, when they feel like letting you use them.

The bad: I have some harsh criticisms on American Airlines, and I discourage any and all travellers from patronizing this airline. American Airlines receives poor marks for a number of reasons, primarily for offering low-value rewards points and for despicable treatment of travellers. They’re notorious for an overwhelming number of late & cancelled flights. Their system has so many unknown rules for redeeming flyers points, most people end up not using them before they expire.

The ugly: When you do get a flight using points, be prepared to be treated like a third-class citizen. My father missed my college graduation because American Airlines rerouted him to Chicago, then Oklahoma City, then cancelled his flight back to LA. His departure flights were late & connecting flight cancelled. If you hate late & cancelled flights, avoid American Airlines like the plague.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature (Bank of America)

The good: Alaska Airlines is a great airline. They don’t have much service to the East Coast, but they fly to just about every small airstrip in the Pacific Northwest. They also have extensive flights around Hawaii, and even offer flights to Mexico City & Costa Rica.

The bad: Bank of America. Absolutely no customer support and the interface of their website in impossible to navigate. It took me weeks to actually access my points, and several phone calls to actually get the points promised with the sign-on bonus.

The ugly: Bait and switch. Nearly every advertisement promotes 25,000 points when you sign up for the card, no minimum balance necessary. What they don’t tell you, is that the amount of points you receive is conditional based on your credit score.

Cards We Love

Capital One Venture

The good: Several perks make this an excellent card for any traveller. The card uses Orbitz for redeeming flyer points, meaning you can book a flight with virtually any airline. This gives you a lot of flexibility, and generally means you’ll get good value out of your points. Points can also be used on rental cars or hotels. You can also apply points to purchases made after the fact. Let’s say you spent $280 with Hertz, you can apply 28,000 points to cover the cost of your rental car after the purchase as been made. The card also gives you 2 points for every $1, and has a nice signup bonus of 40,000 if you spend $3,000 in 3 months.

The bad: Interest rate is a little higher than other similar cards.

The ugly: Nothing

Hawaiian Airlines Barclay Card

The good: Who doesn’t love free flights to Hawaii? This card get’s really good value for the number of points. You get 2 points for every dollar, and a nice 35,000 sign on bonus for spending $1,000 in 3 months. In terms of redemption value, 35,000 points will get you a round trip from LA to Oahu or Hilo at non-peak times. That’s essentially $350 for a round trip ticket, a price almost unheard of for Hawaii flights.

The bad: Well if you don’t want to go to Hawaii, you’re screwed.

The Ugly: There’s an annual fee applied to your first month’s billing.

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Our Favorite Backpacks of 2015

Jansport x Hippy Tree Hatchet

Hippy Tree is one of our favorite outfitters. Based out of Hermosa Beach, Hippy Tree embraces both surf and climbing cultures, producing clothing for either lifestyle. As for Jansport, if you’ve attended a public school over the past three decades, you know ‘em. But although they’re easily the largest backpack manufacturer, Jansport has struggled with campers and backpackers, allowing Osprey, REI & North Face to dominate most of the mountaineering market.

So when I read that Jansport & Hippy Tree were coming together to produce a line of backpacks, I was intrigued. Their Hatchet pack is a well-rounded bucket style daypack, with a large main pouch & several small compartments.

Pros: Wide & comfortable shoulder straps with adjustable sternum strap. Nice space to store a small laptop safely in the main compartment. Back-padding is sufficient for comfort and holds it’s shape really well.

Cons: A lot of the smaller pockets share space with the main compartment. If you put too much stuff in your main compartment, there will be little space left for the small pockets on the outside. The pack also features no waist strap, limiting the weight this pack can handle.

Topo Designs Rover Pack

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Colorado based Topo Designs is another up-and-coming outdoors manufacturer who specializes in backpacks and outdoor soft goods.  Their Rover pack features an attractive design with enough space to stretch this daypack into a day-and-a-half pack.

Pros:  Very spacious.  Top flap has a small pocket that can fit a book or any small goods you might be carrying.  The material is a little thicker than other packs, making this a rugged choice for hikers & adventurers.  The main compartment uses a drawstring, which makes it easier to get in and out of the pack.

Cons:  No waist strap.  Shoulder straps are a little thin for my liking.  No side pockets.

Uphill Designs (Kickstarter)

This pack has yet to be produced, but this Kickstarter project is definitely worth mentioning.  Their Crest bag has a classic, retro design with leather straps and a single buckle rolltop.  I haven’t seen this bag yet, but I’m curious to see what happens with this startup.

You can read more of back their Kickstarter campaign here:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/977929422/take-the-trail-handcrafted-packs-for-the-modern-ad

Poler Rucksack 2.0

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I’ve always been a huge fan of Poler, and if you’ve paid much attention to the outdoors market over the last three years, you’ve likely heard of this Portland based outfitter.  My first Poler bag was their classic Rolltop bag, but what I like about the Rucksack is the side pockets.

Pros:  Great canvas-like material and heavy duty buckles.  Poler is known for their bright colors and funky designs.  Shoulder straps and back-padding is sufficient for comfortable hiking.

Cons:  Again, no waist straps 😦

Granite Gear Blaze AC 60

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Shoutout to the ladies!  This women’s pack is the largest pack on our list, but an incredibly well rounded pack for camping, mountaineering, or travel.  This pack fits most airline carry-on requirements, both domestic and outside the United States.  My girlfriend used this pack for trips to Iceland & Canada, and we had no problem stowing it in the overhead bin.  

Pros:  Waffle-like back padding allows air to get in and reduce sweaty backs and temperature while retaining comfort.  Shoulder straps are extremely comfortable, lots of room on the outside to strap sleeping bags and jackets.  First pack on our list to feature large, well padded waist Straps!!

Cons:  Fairly large, too big to be considered day pack.

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Six Reasons Why You Aren’t Traveling

 

We all have one of those friends.  You know, one of those friends on social media who constantly post vacation photos with hashtags like #LiveAuthentic.  How can they afford all that travel?  Do they ever work?  They must be rich or something…

It’s a common misconception.  Sure, travel can be expensive, but you don’t have to be a trust fund baby to see the world.  We become so entrenched in our daily routines, that an extra expenditure seems unattainable.  The truth is, there are several steps that make travel much more attainable (Hint… It has to do with saving money).

It doesn’t have to be expensive

If you can afford to eat take out, you can afford to travel. One of the best ways to save money for travel is to prepare more food at home.  Go to the grocery store, buy a cookbook and plan means ahead of time.  When I started traveling in college, this is how I saved to travel.  Every time I considered eating out, I’d make a cheap meal at home and take $10 out of my wallet and place it in my travel jar.

Earlier this year, consumers spent more at restaurants than they did at grocery stores for the first time ever.  Despite low wages, economic instability, and an obesity epidemic, somehow millennials always find the cash for eating out.  The average worker in the United States spends $11.70 on lunch.  If you work 5 days a week, thats $58.50 a week, and over $3,000 annually!  But you know what else $3,000 can buy?  An airplane ticket.

You aren’t making the time

If you can binge-watch Breaking Bad, but aren’t traveling as much as you’d like, then you need to look at your priorities. It’s easy to stay in a routine.  Between all the things that consume our daily lives, your time is to valuable to spend every night in front of Netflix.

Your travel goals are unattainable

If you want to backpack through Europe for 3 months but can’t get time off work, start with more modest travel goals.  Fill your weekends with ‘micro-adventures’, like camping in nearby state parks, searching for local hot springs, or finding the best hikes for watching the sunset.

It’s also important to consider your destination and reassess if flights are unattainable or exchange rate too high.  If you want to experience cobblestone streets and outdoor cafes without the expenses of Europe, then consider Antigua or Granada in Central America.  Exchange rates in Japan too high? Consider Taiwan or Hong Kong.  Which brings Me to my next point…

But I’ve heard that place is dangerous

In the United States, Fox and CNN are constantly conditioning us to fear the unknown beyond our borders.  We’re told that Central America, South America, Africa, parts of Europe, parts of Asia are all too dangerous for tourists.  Government bureaucracies constantly release travel advisories against seemingly peaceful countries.  And our culture can often be ethnocentric, arrogant, and paranoid as hell…

But despite what Fox says, foreigners aren’t trying to kill you.  They’re not jealous that you’re from the United States, nor are they lurking the shadows waiting to mug you.  In reality, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Mexico, Colombia, Burma, Cambodia, Kenya, and Iran annually with no problems.  As long as you’re not traveling to a conflict zone, then you’ll likely be greeted with big smiles and a warm meal.

I can never get the time off work

Then you’re working the wrong job.  Go back to school, learn a new set of skills and make yourself more competitive in the workplace.  Changing careers is a topic too massive and complex for this blog post, but if your employer won’t let you take ANY time off work, do you really expect to work there until you retire?  Humans need time away from the stresses of their daily routine to lead happy, fulfilling lives.

What if I get sick?

Americans have the most expensive health care system by a wide margin, but ranks poorly in terms of quality.  Many countries offer quality health care at little or no cost to tourists.  If you’re traveling to a developing nation with low water quality, purchase a few water bottles and avoid raw vegetables.  If you do get sick, it’s not the end of the world.