William Hallman http://sett.com/williamhallman A blog about Passion, Adventure, Freedom, Lifestyle, Will Power, Goal Setting, and Minimalism en-us Fri, 17 Jan 2020 23:42:04 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator It’s easy saying goodbye, it’s hard missing friends while traveling http://sett.com/williamhallman/it-s-easy-saying-goodbye-it-s-hard-missing-friends-while-traveling I just got back from San Diego last week and I had a chance to catch up and hang out with some really close friends I worked with when I was living in Virginia, working in Washington D.C. I had a great time catching up, but the stay was definitely too short. **SETT%IMAGE]]>

I just got back from San Diego last week and I had a chance to catch up and hang out with some really close friends I worked with when I was living in Virginia, working in Washington D.C. I had a great time catching up, but the stay was definitely too short.

When you’re traveling and moving every few months, it’s common to meet new people and make new friends. Especially when you’re meeting other travelers, or people with other similar interests or obstacles in life, friendships form quickly and strongly. Oftentimes, for me, I find myself hanging out with some of the same people everyday, talking about problems in life or new endeavors and sharing part of my humanity and personality. It’s funny to think I’ve hardly known someone and then all of a sudden I can’t remember living a life without them. A lot of times it feels like I’ve known some of my new friends since I was a kid. Then, all of a sudden, it’s time for someone to move or travel and poof, no hanging out every day. Some people I tend to keep in better contact than with others, but I never lose that sense of closeness I felt with them. It’s like the bond is still there, and everything is just the way it was.

I don’t find it too hard saying goodbye, because I know this world is small and we’ll run into each other soon. I also do it so much that it seems pretty normal to have some of these shorter relationships, and social media does it’s part in making someone seem a lot closer than they are. The hard part, to me, is when I reflect back on some of my friends and think about how I can’t just hang out with them at the drop of a hat. They’re in a different city or state, and we all live busy lives. It’s also hard because, realistically, when you’re moving around a lot and meeting new people, you tend to meet A BUNCH of people. Aside from my close friends back home, who I don’t keep in touch as well as I’d like, I have a whole new bunch of friends I feel really close to, and there’s just not time to stay in close contact with. The thing is, even when I intend to be better at it, some people slip through the cracks.

I’m fortunate that most people I know live busy lives also and understand what it’s like, they’re in the same dilema. Understanding or not, however, I don’t really know a better way around staying in touch than some social media updates and valiant efforts at phone calls and texting.

I miss the new people that have come into my life, to whom I’ve just starting a budding friendship with and have difficulty fostering it with more time and energy. I know some people, inevitably will feel neglected, or used, when all of a sudden daily contact turns into weekly or monthly contact, especially when the friendship is new.

I feel fortunate to be able to live and travel and work in my own style and I appreciate everyone new who is brought into my life because of it. I hope this doesn’t sound too much like “blah blah blah I’m so lucky for this lifestyle,” it’s more of just and observation of the pro’s and con’s that traveling a lot and meeting new people can bring.

Thanks for reading, I hope to catch up with everyone real soon. Leave a comment below and let me know how you feel.

[Pictures above: #1 Runner at sunset in San Diego #2 Some old friends and new friends near the beach #3 The D.C. Krewe in silhouette at Torrey Pines park]

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Fri, 10 Apr 2015 17:03:15 +0000 http://sett.com/williamhallman/it-s-easy-saying-goodbye-it-s-hard-missing-friends-while-traveling
Conflicting priorities http://sett.com/williamhallman/conflicting-priorities I finally have a day off work and I’ve spent most of it trying to relax and catch up on a few things. Looking back on these last few weeks I’ve been reflecting why I was successful at certain tasks and unsuccessful at others. Often enough I have a whole list ]]>

I finally have a day off work and I’ve spent most of it trying to relax and catch up on a few things. Looking back on these last few weeks I’ve been reflecting why I was successful at certain tasks and unsuccessful at others. Often enough I have a whole list of tasks I want to accomplish, long term or short term. Today was one of the days I didn’t even look at it, though I did get a few things done.

I think my main conflict is between doing what I want to do and what I want myself to want to do. That is, it’s much easier to hang out and watch a TV show or relax then go clean my room or do meal prep. I mean, I want to be healthy and live in a clean room, but will power is limited and what I really wanted was a day off. Don’t get me wrong, I got a lot of things done, but probably only at 30% efficiency.

I’ve noticed recently that there are things I want to do and things I want myself to want to do. The things I want to do are often a mixture of non-productive and non-urgent things (classified Steven Covey style) like movies or games or staring at my iPhone and productive things like going to the gym, reading a book.

So why do we have this drive to do things that, essentially, we don’t want to do? Why do I want to strive for more, for something that’s not easy and comfortable, and why is the drive to want to do more not the same as the motivation or determination to do more? I would say I want to improve and be a better person, which I do, but I also don’t thing there’s anything wrong with the person I am now, or that there really is a better per se.

It’s not for anyone else, I’m not trying to impress anyone. I’m happy with who I am and my life, there’s nothing really wrong with it. I make plenty of money, travel a bunch, and I’m generally filling my life goals. I could die now and be happy. I try to be a minimalist and I don’t really want more stuff unless I’m getting rid of other stuff.

So what’s the drive behind it all? I’m not sure. I just know that there are definitely more things I want myself to want to achieve or do or complete and I spend more time on those than anything else.

The photo above is when my friend Paul and I took an airplane flying lesson in 2012.

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Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:05:26 +0000 http://sett.com/williamhallman/conflicting-priorities
You better not leave for your trip without these items... http://sett.com/williamhallman/wills-must-have-packing-list There are a few different type of travel nomadics, those who have a home base and travel frequently from there (many vacations/work trips or taking 6 months on the road and then spend 6 months at home), the few who do long term frequent travel from city to city or country to country for a period of time like Ralf Potts from Vagabonding, or those in my group. I don’t really have a home base, I don’t have an apartment or a condo somewhere, at least not at this time, that I can come back to and reset. I don’t have a living room, bedroom or anything (Okay, technically I do, but I don't like to talk about it, I like to pretend I don't, okay? So just leave it like that and stop asking questions haha). I have a small storage unit, and a number of couches or guest rooms I can crash at when I spend time visiting my home city of Phoenix, Arizona.

I know what you’re thinking, no I’m not homeless (although the more I travel the more I seem to be getting comfortable with the nomadic lifestyle of the homeless…). I live in a nice condo, in San Francisco currently (though Los Angeles when I started this blog post), and I’ll be here for a total of 3 months. After that, I may stay in San Francisco another 3 months, or I may go somewhere else, like Seattle, or Austin. I don’t really know right now and I don’t really care.

I happen to know a number of people that live a similar lifestyle, surprisingly enough, and if you’re reading this, please share your tricks and essentials to traveling in the comments below. Many of my associates though do have a home base, they’ll travel off to work for a few months or weeks and then come home and work for a few months. I like that, but I also like whats going on with my life right now. It’s a bit chaotic at times, and takes a lot of adapting, but when you’re not really tied to a specific house or specific job institution and company you really learn to rely on yourself and it develops a confidence in traveling or surviving anywhere.

After doing this for a while, and running into the same problems or scenarios , you learn to pack relatively light. Everything I travel with fits in the back of a small car, or in my case, my Jeep. I’m gone far too long to want to just carry everything in one bag, but not long enough to move furniture or bring many books with me. Certain things I buy when I show up, and some things I take with me because I’m tired of purchasing it or finding it each time (like spices), and some things depend on how far and how long I’m traveling.

No matter how goofy or quirky, or seemingly small, I’m going to share some of my Intermediate Travel Tricks. Some I’ve learnt from being minimalist and taking other’s advice when traveling to other countries with only one bag and some are better for this who travel for a few months at a time to one location.

And in no particular order, here we go:

Will’s Favorite travel items

Towel - As they say in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

"Just about the most massively useful thing any interstellar Hitchhiker can carry. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course you can dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough."

Like it says above, a towel can be used as a blanket, a cover on the floor or beach, and to um, dry you off. A good travel towel dries super fast and takes up very little space as well as has antimicrobial properties so you can use it for a while without washing it and it still won't smell. If you're planning on using it as a blanket, make sure it's big enough to cover you up. I love my Discovery Trekking Outfitters Ultra Fast-Dry Towel, 34x58-Inch, Weighs 10.6oz, because it's full sized, and very light and it packs super small, less than a 1 liter bottle.

Tweezers - Uncle Bill's silver grip tweezers are the best for travelers. Small, light, packable, cheap, and they work super good. Made from a single piece of bent steel they even come with a clip for your keychain.

Sleeping pad - I bring my Thermarest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad everywhere. I've had enough airport layovers or nights where I randomly ended up on a hotel floor to sleep on that I've learned my lesson and always take this, or regret not taking it. It's warm enough to go camping in the snow with due to being developed with an R-value of 3.2, and if you want one even warmer they have the Thermarest Neo-Air Xtherm Sleeping Pad with an R-Value of 5.7. This pad is the best for 3 reasons; it's small, light, comfortable. This is smaller than a liter bottle, there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON I can't pack this anywhere with me. It's ultra light, at 15.2 ounces it weighs less than a pound, and if you're not tall or don't mind your feet dangling you can get the Woman's size which saves you a couple more ounces.

Titanium Spork - this goes on every trip I make, and it comes in handy often, whether on a roadtrip or in another country. I’ll never forget walking around the streets of Amsterdam eating noodles with my fingers because they ran out of silver wear. This is the one I have currently: Snow Peak Titanium Spork, though I’ve heard some people love these ones for their different features, like the long handle spoon which can come in handy when camping and cooking in pots, the one that is ultra minimalist by folding in half when not in use TOAKS Titanium Folding Spork, and the one with a fork on one end and spoon on the other Light My Fire Titanium Spork.

Eye mask and earplugs - everywhere, in my backpack, on short trips or long trips, even day trips. You can sleep almost everywhere and every time of day with these, which is especially useful now when I’m sleeping during the day and working at night. The two most important things when picking out a sleep mask are blocking out the most light and giving your eyes room to move and blink during REM sleep. The eyemask above is called Bucky Luggage 40 Blinks Ultralight Sleep Mask and it's awesome because it has space for your eyes to blink and move during REM sleep, which is super important for restful sleep and it does a pretty good job of blocking light. It also has a velcro closure on the back which isn't bulky and is comfortable for side or back sleepers. The only problem is both of the ones I've bought had durability issues and from what I've heard that's someone common with these. The earplugs are Howard Leight Laser Lite Foam Earplugs and I found these through my friend Kyle. They're amazingly comfortable. I would wear ear plugs before and hate them because they would be too hard or uncomfortable or difficult to put in and these fix all those problems.

Drier sheets - deodorizer - better for short term travel but a necessity because they literally take up no space and are multifunctional. You can actually use them in a drier, like a normal person, and although they're extremely cheep, if you’re traveling you have to go to the store and find them. I don’t actually use them in the drier, I keep about a dozen on hand for if I have no washer and drier and I’m on a road trip or short vacation to keep things fresh. I can put some in my shoes overnight to deodorize them, in a plastic bag of slightly worn clothes to freshen them up, or in a bag of dirty clothes to keep them from smelling up the rest of your luggage.

Chromecast or Apple TV - These are a couple of my new favorite items. I don’t have cable or watch a whole lot of television, but either of these allow you to stream Netflix with the added benefit of Chromecast being incredibly small and space saving costing only $35 while the Apple TV at nearly $100 allows you to mirror your computer display on the television or stream photos if you own an apple computer. You will need a wifi connection with either of these.

USB rechargeable batteries - These are great to have on standby and they take up hardly any space and they charge on anything that has a USB port.

To go containers - I cook for work all the time, and I never thought I would need to travel with to go containers for my trips, but I cook food and bring it to work often and it can get wasteful and expensive over time purchasing these over and over and over again. Bonus, you can store stuff in them on the road so they don’t really take up too much space.

Spices - I cook a lot and spices can be expensive, anything form pink himalayan salt to paprika to the cancer preventing tumeric. I try to take these with me. Unfortunately, when living in Maui, the humidity caused a few of them to cake together so I ended up parting ways with some pretty full containers.

Ziplock sandwich bags - and I don’t even eat sandwiches! These are so useful you don’t even know, and a lot of people I tend to travel with seem to agree, they always have them too. I put snacks in them, change, cords, loose papers, etc. Weird I know but extremely useful to have immediately onhand.

Collapsable hamper - another silly one but for 3 months of living somewhere I don’t want to pile my clothes in a bag or on the floor. It is collapsible and takes hardly any space.

Power splitter - this also goes everywhere, and I have a couple different kinds. The basic idea is this: if you’re at a coffee shop or an airport people want to plug in, and there’s usually a lack of outlets. There’s no real objection for you turning a power socket into 3 power sockets, people are usually happy because then multiple people can use the outlet with no hassle. At airports I use one that pretty much looks like this Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Travel Swivel Charger Surge Protector with Dual USB Ports, 5 Charging Outlets Total (1 AMP / 5 Watt) because I can plug two usb’s and 3 outlets, so if I’m with a friend, they’re charging, as well as any stranger. If I had to buy a new one it would probably be this awesome thing HooToo® TripMate Elite Versatile 6000mAh Battery Charger (Dual USB Wall Charger with Wireless N Travel Router, USB Storage Wi-Fi Media Sharing, Access Point, Wi-Fi Mini Router & Bridge) because it has a battery, multiple usb outlets, can change a wired internet connection into a wireless one and act as a cloud for your different devices. I also really like these: Monster MP OTG400 BK Outlets To Go Power Strip - 4 AC Outlets - Black, 360 Electrical 36053 Power Curve Mobile Surge Protector with Rotating Outlet and USB Ports, and this HooToo TripMate Nano Wireless N Pocket Travel Router.

Ebook reader - I use a kindle (Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High-Resolution Display (212 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers), its a light way to take literally hundreds of books on any trip with you, this goes everywhere, in addition to 1-2 paper books, I just love the feel and smell of a real book.

Cigarette lighter USB dual port charger - dual port is key with at least one of them being a 2.1 amp. Amp basically is the rate at which it charges and you can charge an iPad from a 2.1 amp, whereas you can’t with a 1 amp, theres not enough power. The standard iPhone charger is 1 amp but a lot of cigarette lighter plugs only charge at 750 miliamps, which takes a lot longer. Look at the fine print on the charger and see what the output is. I try to carry one in my backpack too because I often find myself in someone else's car with a close to dead phone.

Protein shaker cup - I workout, I drink protein shakes. They’re bulky, but expensive to buy on the road.

Wireless bluetooth speaker - its really nice to play music when traveling, especially in my jeep that only has a 7 cd changer in the back, I usually end up with headphones on or my speaker playing when I’m on roadtrips. But seriously, I think a speaker is a must have on trips. Whether you're at the beach and want some tunes, in your hotel room and want to chill or set the mood, or if you're watching a movie and want to hear what you're playing better than whats on your crappy quiet computer speakers. The link above is to an awesomely high quality speaker by Soundmatters, its about $160 and has a incredible range of sound, and although it may not be quite as loud as beats by dre it definitely sounds better and it does have a subwoofer. Not only that, it's incredibly tiny and packable. A cheaper option would be their old model which is still amazing Soundmatters for about $100 and my friend Mara would always use her SOL REPUBLIC DECK which always kept the party going. Its not quite as tiny as the Soundmatters speaker but the flat profile makes it pack pretty easy.

Medicine - a must for anyone is Benadryl, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, lomotil, tums, and Ciprofloxacin in cause you get, err, you know, travelers diarrhea…Also any vitamins or prescription pills. It seems like common sense to me, but thats just me. So back to above, benadryl is good to help sleep on the plane, fight jet lag by taking for sleep the first couple nights on a trip, to fight allergies or allergic reactions, yeah it's a must. Tylenol and Ibuprofen are good for pain, injuries, aches from being sick, and fevers. Imodium, well look it up. Tums can settle an upset stomach since it's an antacid.

Small first aid kid - bandaids, alcohol swabs, neosporin. Maybe even gauze and antiseptic in case you get bit in the face by a dog. I carry hibiclense too because its a great antiseptic soap and I think germs are out to get me. This seems to be a good all around First aid kit that has the first aid items and some of the medicine from above.

Checkbook and passport - Often landlords like checks, or your roommate, to split rent, etc. By the way, your bank now probably lets you take a picture of your check from the a cell phone application and deposit the check immediately without visiting a bank or an ATM. Awesome right, I don’t know what magic they use to prevent people from sending the same check by twice on accident so I always write “deposited on [date]” just to remind myself not to do it twice.

Bags and luggage - always bring an extra bag including a daypack or backpack. I love my Herschel Supply Co. Packable Daypack, it folds up super small, it has 2 pockets instead of only one like some packable daypacks and the straps are actual material, instead of thin uncomfortable nylon or whatever so it feels closer to wearing an actual backpack.

Blender - Blenders are more important than I would think. Whether I’m blending up bulletproof coffee, a protein shake, a a green smoothie, or homemade salad dressing (I prepare a lot of my own food), when you’re traveling a blender is not always available, and I don’t want to buy a new one in every place I travel to. The NutriBullet is great, smaller than a full sized blender but big enough to do the job.

Flip Flops - another easily overlooked item, really.

Shower caps - This is the cheapest, smallest, easiest way to pack shoes in your luggage while protecting them from getting everything else dirty. You just put it on the sole and it wraps around to the top, pretty simple.

Army can opener - The good ol P-51 can opener. I had one of these as a boyscout and now I carry it on any trip. It's small enough it takes no space but it can be used for opening cans on a trip wherever you live and it's super easy to use. I haven't ever had it taken at airport security and it can also open packages or help cut random stuff cords or string.

Check out stuff I like on Amazon:

Will's favorite stuff on Amazon

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Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:05:25 +0000 http://sett.com/williamhallman/wills-must-have-packing-list
Hack Cheap Travel: OGG—>PUJ—>YVR—>PHX for $220USD http://sett.com/williamhallman/hackcheaptravel "Give a man your points, he'll travel cheap for a day. Teach a man to earn his own points, he'll travel cheap for a lifetime" --Unknown Travel Guru The picture above was taken in Lima, Peru from the runway of the Jorge Chavez International Airport. How I’m travel]]>

"Give a man your points, he'll travel cheap for a day.

Teach a man to earn his own points, he'll travel cheap for a lifetime"

--Unknown Travel Guru

The picture above was taken in Lima, Peru from the runway of the Jorge Chavez International Airport.

How I’m traveling from Maui to Punta Cana (D.R.) to Vancouver to Phoenix for only $220. I’m posting some links below to the real travel experts and I’ll talk about some of the tricks I use.

[Disclaimer: I am NOT a financial planner, nor am I a lawyer. Nothing in this post should be considered as a recommendation, suggestion, or advice for YOUR specific situation. You should NOT use information in this post to make or not make decisions relating to your credit. Consult your lawyer, accountant, or financial planner before making decisions which impact your credit.] (disclaimer borrowed from millionmilesecrets.com, hopefully he won’t mind since I’m sending traffic his way)

Ive been putting off buying these plane tickets for weeks, and my trip is less than a month away. My step brother is about to get married in the Dominican Republic to an awesome gal who is soon to be my step sister in law (is that how it works?), anyways, I’m super excited to see the two get married and to travel to a new designation in one trip. This vacation also culminates the end of my work contract in Maui and I’ll be traveling home for a few days before I’m off to my next endeavor.

So, what’s a guy to do? Being that I don’t know where I’m working next, but it’s definitely not Maui, I won’t be booking return airfare. Most people know that booking a roundtrip ticket is usually cheaper than booking 2 one way tickets, depending on the days of the week and airlines. I’m going from Maui to Dominican Republic, ultimately to my home in Phoenix, which is quite the distance to travel, so I’m not looking at cheap airfare, and I’m not rich either. Since roundtrip tickets are the cheapest, but multi leg ticket purchases are cheaper than buying separate one ways, I decided to throw in a week long trip to Vancouver after the wedding. It’s gorgeous there this time of year and I have some friends to catch up with. Since I’m not rich but I don’t have time constraints, and I personally enjoy flying on airplanes and traveling through airports, I use some tricks, like picking longer length flights, traveling certain days of the week, and use credit card points, and ultimately end up with a trip for about $220 USD.

This guy just found out Alex and I paid literally $0.00 for airfare for 2 roundtrip tickets from Phoenix to Peru using my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. I think he's jealous.

The complete partial guide to cheap airline travel.

Step 1. Frequent flyer credit cards and racking up bonus points.

This is definitely the most controversial way to afford cheap travel, but also the effective if you have decent credit. Here’s the inside scoop, credit card companies want your business. They want it so much that they’re willing to give you thousands of points or frequent flyer miles just for signing up with their credit card. Then, to sweeten the pot more, they give you bonus points for using their cards on everyday purchases like gas or dining, and even MORE bonus points for purchasing travel related expenses with them. I’m not going to get into too much detail in how to do this, that’s what the travel experts are for, but I’ll give you the gist of what I do, and how it works.

The quickest concept for racking up miles is called “credit card churning” in the travel hacker industry. Obtaining a new credit card only minimally effects your credit score, and if you apply for multiple ones at the same time you can earn points 3-5 times faster without having a large negative effect on our credit score. Before I go further, since you’re wondering, these are the main two questions and concerns with this practice, which I haven’t heard of anyone personally experiencing.

“Will my credit score decrease?” Slightly. Very unlikely to be enough to really negatively effect your credit, and only by a few points. Although Credit Karma explains it better than I can, here are the cliff notes. The reason why your credit score decreases is because you decrease the average age of open credit lines which is not a major but only a moderate impact on your credit score. Opening more credit cards (assuming you are responsible) is generally healthy for your credit score. Open credit card utilization has a major impact on your credit score and by increasing the total amount of available credit and keeping your debt the same you decrease the percentage used. The “A” rating for this area is 1-20% utilization. It also boosts the total accounts category, which has minor but still some impact on your credit score (the more open accounts the better).

“It seems wrong.” First, that’s not a question its a feeling. Its not wrong, banks don’t generally mind, when I speak with the card approval teams I’ve told them it’s just for miles and they haven’t said a thing, they’ve actually helped me more. Companies want your business and they know that the only way they make money from you is if their card is in your hand. So they give you incentive, and we use the incentive to our advantage. We’re not signing a contract to exclusively earn bonus miles through one company.

There are plenty of more concerns I know, check out the sites below and search FAQ and you can see where they address all of them, much better than me, including giving you tips on how to reach the minimum spending requirements.

Back to the idea of credit card churning. The bonus for signing up for a credit card is 20,000-50,000 miles, with only rare ones being higher. I personally only sign up for one’s that are 50,000 miles, because that’s generally the amount of points required for a roundtrip ticket to europe, and there are plenty of deals out there you just have to research and look and maybe be a bit patient. To fully earn the miles most credit cards require spending anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 in the first 3 months of having the card. This can get tricky if you sign up for 3 or 4 cards at a time, because the total needed to be spent is between $9,000-$12,000. I’ll wait until I know I have some big purchases coming up like plane tickets or car rentals, or I’ll just sign up for less cards. Most cards have an annual fee and most waive them for the first year as part of the sign up bonus, keep track of the date and cancel them next year if you want to, plead for the fee to be waived, or do what I did and downgrade the cards and credit limit at the end of the year if the bonuses aren’t sweet enough. That way you keep the line of credit open, decrease your total available credit for future churns, and avoid the fee. Also, these cards don’t have great interest rates, I wouldn’t recommend keeping a balance on them, that’s not what we’re using them for.

The cards I have in my pocket:

Chase Sapphire Preferred card (50,000 bonus points on startup) - This card is really cool, its a nice blue color and it’s made of metal. There are no foreign transaction fee’s, the number on the back goes right to a person instead of an automated service and the points are not frequent flier miles like most cards. Therefore if you use them through the rewards site you don’t pay taxes or fees. Also the points transfer on a 1 to 1 basis to your favorite airline for free. I transferred 1,000 points so I would have enough to get my PUJ —> YVR portion of the trip. It carries an annual fee of $95 and I’m okay paying that because of all the advantages the card gives me.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card (50,000 bonus points on startup) - I’m not sure if they’re still offering the same amount of bonus points but I think there are some good deals out there still. You earn United miles and there is an annual fee. I like this card though I don’t use it as much and I forget what benefits it has. I will use the card for any purchases through United Airlines because of the bonus point factor.

Citibank American Airlines Visa and American Airlines American Express card (50,000 bonuses each) - there was a really cool loophole that may be closed now, but when I got these cards, if you applied for them at the same time with different internet browsers you could be approved for both and get a total of 100,000 bonus points. I think mine wasn’t approved right away and I called and told them to decrease the total credit availability I just wanted the security of having Visa and American Express in my pocket. Search the internet or check out the blogs below and they talk about it more, and will tell you if the offer is still available. I’ve since downgraded the card’s to card’s without fees since I hardly use them but if you use them sometimes it’s worth asking about any bonuses or deals for the card they can apply as incentive to maintain it. Sometimes these become magically available if you intend to “close” the card completely.

Southwest Rapid Rewards card (50,000 bonus miles) - annual fee is not waived the first year but is only $65 so it’s like paying $65 to have two roundtrip tickets anywhere in the USA.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card (50,000 bonus miles) - Always happy to have another American Express card in my pocket, especially one that’s the color of gold. The best part is that these are points not airline miles so you can purchase the ticket through their reward site while avoiding taxes and fees.

To decide which points to use I made a chart detailing here I was flying to and compared how many frequent flyer miles the different airlines require and how much the taxes and fees would be. To do this you have to book to the last page right before you pay for the ticket and then back out and start over. For this trip I used 50,000 American Airline bonus points, due to availability it cost me less points (37,000) to fly Business/First class from Maui to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The leg from Punta Cana to Vancouver was going to take up to many miles so I didn’t book that through American Airlines, but I did book Vancouver to Phoenix with them as part of a multi-leg trip for only 12,500 miles. The total cost for me is $171.50 and it would have been $75 cheaper except I booked the ticket less than 21 days before my travel flight and apparently there’s a fee for that. Punta Cana to Vancouver was tricky. I was 300 frequent flyer miles short for ticket which cost 17,500 miles. I transferred 1,000 points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card for free. Taxes and fees: $52.55. Total trip cost including the first leg being Business/First Class: $224.05. Okay so that’s more than $220 but screw you, I’m going to use another trick I have to get free drinks on all my economy class flights ;).

Step 2. Organize your points

So this is actually step one but everyone does it second anyways so I put it here. Write down all the airline companies you might ever use, or at least the big ones. Go to each of their web pages and sign up. Do this now, before you even think about buying tickets. Once you’ve signed up you’ll thank me because you won’t have to remember to do it later. You’ll already have an account when you apply for a new card. You’ll never miss points again because you decided that small trip only worth a few hundred points wasn't worth it. How do we keep track of all the points we have without having our head explode? Award Wallet is a free service that can track most of your frequent flyer miles. They even have smartphone apps so you can sign in easy on the go. I not only use it to keep track of my miles but for my frequent flyer numbers too. Once I signed up for all the programs I opened an award wallet account, punched in all the numbers that were conveniently sitting right in front of me, and the rest is history.

The main frequent flyer mile programs to sign up for: Million Mile Secrets - Airline frequent flyer program sign up

Step 3. Do some research below, learn the travel tricks from the pros.

Ways I have learnt to save money?

I hear if you buy tickets super early they're cheaper, but I’ve never done it. I travel last minute usually to a destination I am only really sure about 2-4 weeks in advance. This only bit me in the ass on this trip with American Airlines because I redeemed points under 21 days from the travel date. A $75 mistake.

Flexible travel dates. I always search for airline fares on lower travel days like Tuesday and Wednesday, and sometimes Mondays and Thursdays. If you can travel during the week you will save HUNDREDS of dollars over the long run.

Flexible travel time. I’m excited about my trip, and I like airports and airplanes. Watching people scurry about and fumble in the security line or freakout about getting on an airplane first (especially when you have a reserved seat) calms me and makes me feel centered. I laugh. “Let’s hurry up to board the plane so we can sit there and be bored and cramped for an extra 45 minutes” my friend Alex jokes. My trips often consist of layovers and multiple stopovers. I know the tricks of how to comfortably sleep on a plane and I enjoy airports. I also save money.

Free checked baggage through Frequent flier clubs and credit cards. Some credit cards offer 1-2 free checked bags as part of the bonus. This doesn’t generally effect me because I travel carry on only for 99% of my trips including international ones longer than a week. Nonetheless, it’s nice to know I can have a free checked bag. Also, travel enough with one airline and you get a “status” with them that allows you certain bonuses like free checked bags or premier boarding.

Be flexible with your destination. If I’m traveling for fun, I’m in a rush to travel anywhere but not in a rush to travel somewhere. I know I’ll most likely be alive long enough to see many awesome places in the world and there are so many places I want to go. When I plan a trip I look at a map and write down the names of all the places I can think of I want to travel to. I wikipedia the average weather for the time of year I’m going and cross off anywhere unacceptable to me. Then I do a kayak search for my ‘general’ dates and write down the fairs/dates next to each location. I pick the cheapest 5 and then I search on all the travel websites I can think of, including the airline’s official sites (use kayak to find out who’s flying the trips), and find the cheapest destination. This brought me to Berlin for about $870, Dublin for $630 and Amsterdam for $720 to name a few. All the while the other locations I was looking at were $900-$2,500+ for a roundtrip ticket. This technique works for saving cash or saving your airline miles and I’ve saved hundreds of dollars and thousands of miles this way.

Hostels - use hostels. You’re not traveling to explore the inside of a hotel room are you? Didn’t think so. Well maybe on occasion like going to an all inclusive resort, or a honeymoon, but really considering how much you’re spending for a room you’ll probably hardly be in at all.

Here are some websites to check out:

Frugal Travel Guy - he talks about credit card churning as well as some other things, I think he gets affiliate credit for recommending products, good for him. His information is worth money. Check out the sections “Start Here,” “Rookie Guide,” and “Top Credit Cards” first.

Million Mile Secrets - like the site above, Darius gives information, for free, on how he has earned and redeemed millions of airline miles and hotel points. It is worth checking out his site as well as Frugal Travel Guy because although some information overlaps there is plenty of unique and helpful content. Check out the sections “New to miles and points,” “Hot Deals,” and “Mile & Point Resources.” The last section is super cool because it links to airline reward charts so you can find out just how far your new airline miles will take you.

The Points Guy - this is the last of the three experts I have read and can recommend. Again, there is unique content worth reading as well as a “Beginner’s Guide” that is well organized and helpful.

www.creditkarma.com - keep track of your credit score for free

Award Wallet - organize most of your frequent flyer miles

Seat Guru by Trip Advisor - A site from Trip Advisor that tells you which seats on which airplanes are the best. When you have the option to reserve a seat, find out ahead of time if its good or bad. Never stay in a seat that doesn’t full recline again. Learn which seats have power outlets or more leg room. Learn to become your own, yes I went there, Seat Guru!

Flyer Talk - (click on the forums up top in the middle) - travel advice and secrets from thousands of frequent travelers. Anything from money saving tips to destination advice.

www.tynan.com - Tynan is his name. He has a travel book on amazon thats very useful - talks about minimilism, traveling light, how to save money on airfare, etc. The book is called Life Nomadic and is really cool. Here’s an example of how minimalist his travel is Tynan's 2010 gear post

Nomadic Matt - Nomadic Matt has his own opinions on travel hacking like budget vacations to avoiding ATM fees while over seas. He also has some advice for solo female travelers.

http://matrix.itasoftware.com - An alternative airfair search kind of like kayak lite. I haven’t really used it but some people seem to have luck.

www.vrbo.com - Stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner for travel apartments

Air BnB - Traveling somewhere sand want to save money? Stay with safe people at lower risk because you review them and they review you. Anywhere from renting a full house to renting someones room. The leaser has to approve you first, usually by exchanging a few emails and getting to know each other. I used this service to find my apartment in Washington DC.

Couch Surfer - Sign up and people let you stay on their couch, or in their mansion, for free.

http://www.sleepinginairports.net/ - Travel guide to sleeping in airports. Save money, sleep in an airport. At the very least learn to be more comfortable on long layovers.

www.wanderlustandlipstick.com - This is a female travel blog that has some good luggage review, travel advice, etc. Although it's mainly a woman's travel blog I still found a lot of useful information and advice.

www.Onebag.com- For those interested in minimalist traveling and using one bag

www.Autoslash.com - I hadn't used this site before, but had heard of it several times. Autoslash is a site where you can book rental cars and if the price drops they cancel and rebook you at the lower price.

Thanks for reading. I would love to know if this helped you or what you think so I appreciate any replies below. To reply you need to click on ‘register’ in the top right corner at the top of the page. It takes about 30 seconds. If you like my blog and want to be notified automatically of new posts, enter your email below.

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Sun, 20 Apr 2014 13:08:54 +0000 http://sett.com/williamhallman/hackcheaptravel
Thoughtless Consumerism http://sett.com/williamhallman/thoughtless-consumerism You don't need 20 different products in the bathroom. Don't be a sucker any longer, get rid of all that unnecessary lotion and soap. Decrease your thoughtless consumerism. Really. This post is more of a rant. Whenever I’m stopping at someones house I’m amaze]]>

You don't need 20 different products in the bathroom.

Don't be a sucker any longer, get rid of all that unnecessary lotion and soap.

Decrease your thoughtless consumerism.

Really.

This post is more of a rant. Whenever I’m stopping at someones house I’m amazed at how many different lotions, shampoos and soaps people have. If you glance at the shower there are usually 4-5 different shampoos and conditioners, 1-3 different body soaps, shaving cream, and 1-3 different kinds of face soaps. Then theres the face lotion, the face lotion with sunscreen, the body lotion, the hand lotion, facial scrubs, foot scrubs, hair leave in conditioner, etc. Then welcome to bath and bodyworks, an excuse to buy and store 5-10 more smelly lotions, body soaps, shampoos and conditioners underneath the counter or in the shower most likely only being used a couple times before being forgotten about. The human body does not need so many items to be acceptably clean and moisturized.

I think this is 99% marketing hype that begun as we were teens growing up. The moment in time comes where puberty and poor diet culminate into the inevitable teen acne. Instead of improving diet, theres a trip to the store which includes buying maybe 1-2 face soaps, something with salicylic acid and one with benzoyl peroxide, and one with a facial scrub, perhaps an astringent, and a facial lotion designed for acne, some spot treatment, and sometimes a face mask too. That’s anywhere from 5-7 items FOR YOUR FACE! There is a short period of time where some of these are indeed helpful but adult acne is more rare than most think.

I was a victim of this thoughtless consumerism too. I decided to eliminate all the extras and just have one of everything for 30 days to see what exactly I need. I went from using a multitude of items to just bar soap and body lotion, using the lotion for shaving cream of course. Then I tried Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap for a couple years (the peppermint makes your skin feel nice and tingly), and one lotion. Miraculously, being a guy, my short hair stayed in pretty good condition with no shampoo or conditioner. I didn’t get more acne cutting out face soap and anti acne creams and soaps, if anything I GET LESS NOW.

So what is the purpose of having all these different items? Well, what is the purpose of soap and lotion in the first place? As a healthcare worker staying clean and hygenic is uber important, as well as the condition of my hands since I have to wash them about 100 times a shift. I want to have a clean face and body. I want to feel fresh. I want my skin to be in soft clean condition, not dry and rough. Do I really need 50 different products to do that? No. Maybe a few of the products out there make it worse, especially if they're using harsh unnecessary chemicals to do their job. Many people have skin that responds very well after cutting out products with harsh cleaners or foaming agents like sodium laureth sulfate or parabens.

Try eating healthier, if you have acne cut down on greasy foods or chocolate. If you have eczema try steering away from coffee or gluten/wheat products or caffeine. Many times the acne you have will decrease significantly just by giving your body time and space away from all these products designed to prevent and treat it. The human is a machine that successfully runs itself without any help other than good building blocks and repair supplies (food and water).

My challenge is for you to not buy or accept anymore smelly or fancy soaps or lotions. Put everything away except maybe 2-3 things and experiment what is actually necessary. Once you realize that the human body that has lasted for millions of years without a ton of different products for every part of your body. As far as the acne and eczema part goes give yourself at least a month. It takes time for your body to reset its natural oil production and get accustomed to being free of all these chemicals. It also takes time for your body to process harmful effects from wheat, gluten and caffeine out of your system. It actually takes about 3 months to really feel the effects of no caffeine mentally and physically.

Once you’ve detoxed from some of these items and your chemistry has begun to normalize, introduce something one at a time for a week or so (some people find a 7 day juice fast helpful in detoxing). Maybe if you have a bit of acne popping up you realize you only need one soap or one lotion once or twice a week to help out, not every day and not 3-5 items. For the girls out there, I know makeup can clog your pores but there are brands that help reduce this and natural remedies like apple cider vinegar that can serve tons of purposes in your cabinet and reduce thoughtless consumerism.

It’s pretty freeing cutting unnecessary things from your everyday life, it saves you tons of money, and it makes travel easier when you realize you don’t need as huge of a bag for toiletries. Big companies want you to feel like your life can be improved by a smelly soap or try to create a need or convince you your life will be improved and you’ll feel fresher and more beautiful by adding yet another product to your counter space. Their job is to make you feel like your life is incomplete if you don't start adding their product to your regimen, that’s how they generate revenue and increase their sales every year.

Don’t let the big companies win by selling you snake oil or compelling you to have different scented lotions and soaps (p.s. that’s what perfume and cologne are for). Make extra room in your wallet and save time by realizing you need less.

Next time you purchase something, or add something to your life ask yourself if you're really improving your life by buying this product, what percentage of your life will improve with this product and if you could live without this product and be happy. Look at the size, how long it will last and how much it costs and calculate that over a year. Does this product improve your life by that much? Will you really use it as often as intended? If you really want it put it on a list and wait a month. Search online and look at reviews, comparisons between other brands, and see if it's cheaper online or if there is a small sample size available.

Thoughts?

The photo above is my trip to Hong Kong in 2011. Acne free with bar soap and no lotion. I use shampoo and conditioner now that I have longer hair.

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:50:06 +0000 http://sett.com/williamhallman/thoughtless-consumerism
Destination - How to get where you want to go in life. http://sett.com/williamhallman/destination The picture above is me with some Cosplay enthusiasts in Berlin, Germany with Alexanderplatz and Berlin Cathedral in the background. They were excited that I was from the States where there is a much larger Cosplay scene. Berlin was my first real out of Country trip and I]]> The picture above is me with some Cosplay enthusiasts in Berlin, Germany with Alexanderplatz and Berlin Cathedral in the background. They were excited that I was from the States where there is a much larger Cosplay scene. Berlin was my first real out of Country trip and I planned it out and traveled about two weeks after I got my passport in May 2009.

I’ve managed to achieve quite the spectacular life, and I’m surrounded by people doing the same. I’m forever grateful for having great parents and family, and people in my life that are understanding of me putting my life goals ahead of everything else, which sometimes means missing a family birthday party, or a friend’s wedding. Prioritizing what goals in life are important and driving myself to them has allowed me to accomplish a few unique things, including: an awesome flexible career that allows me more days off a week than days worked, a job where I can travel to amazing destinations like Maui for work, and on vacation in between which brings me anywhere from Europe to South America, while still paying for hobbies I’m passionate for, whether skydiving or learning to ‘shred the gnar’ (aka stand up on a surfboard for more then 10 seconds). So when I think about how I’ve gotten here, I’ve followed a few basic steps, and clarifying them to myself should help me do this more efficiently in the future. While most of these are done subconsciously, writing them down is never a bad idea.

Destination - how to get where you want to in life.

I feel it’s safe to say that many of us don’t like complacency. Something natural about the human drive is to want to grow, progress, and experience new things. We want to get somewhere, even if it’s just to stop, take a deep breath, enjoy the moment and then journey somewhere else. The problem is that although we are capable of achieving amazing things, a lot of times we forget to use the tools and steps we have used to achieve other things. It’s easy to lose focus, procrastinate, and stop making reasonable progress towards things we want. In other words, we stagnate. This can be true in any domain, from careers to vacations, or from level of skill in a hobby to a fitness goal.

So what is needed to achieve goals and dreams and the stuff heroes are made of?

Well, a few things. Pick a destination, clarify it’s importance to you and prioritize different goals. Figure out where you’re starting from and then plan a route on how to get there. Research what the journey is like, visualize the journey and find out what is needed to take along. Visualize the destination and what its like to be there. List and acknowledge the obstacles, excuses, and procrastinations. List what is more important than the goal and what is less important than the goal, then take action and go.

As silly as it sounds, one of the first steps is to pick a ‘destination, and stick with it. This isn’t to say that we are only capable of achieving one thing at a time, but it’s important to clarify what things can be done together, as well as things that can’t. Picking your top ten short and long term goals is a good start. If you keep changing your mind or don’t have something specific clarified, you may have a hard time getting there, or even realizing you are there.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.

"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said the Cat.

"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.

"Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough.”

Exchange between the Cheshire Cat and Alice in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Other Stories" by Lewis Carroll

When you pick a destination, or multiple destinations, pick ones that can be achieved together, where progress from one can either drive or contribute towards progress of another. Those who don’t know me already will soon learn I love metaphors and comparing simple concepts to life situations such as this: If I’m in Phoenix, AZ - my hometown - and I want to travel to China, New York, and Spain, I probably shouldn’t pick a trip that goes from Phoenix to New York to China to Spain, unless I just really don’t care how efficient I am or how fast I get there (but then again, I’m a bit impatient and driven in most life goals). The smart thing would be to go to New York then Spain and save China for later.

Clarify it’s importance to you and prioritize different goals

How bad do you want it? Clarify how bad you want it. Clarify how bad you want it. Rate it on a scale of 1-10. Compare it to other goals and prioritize which is most important to you. Make a list and give all your goals a 1-5 stars on a level of importance. Then assign each goal a number, with #1 being the most important to achieve and #2 being secondary to that. If your life goal is to be a famous actor then it’s a 5 star and a #1. That means that eating organic is less important, taking vacation is less important, sleep is less important. Eat breathe and dream about your most important goals and shift all of your energy into them. Don’t be afraid to make You your biggest priority. Put yourself first. Feel free to calmly be apologetic to others when you miss a birthday or a wedding or a hangout if that gets in the way of your goal, whether financially or time-wise. Write down what is more important than your goal and what is less important than your goal. This is probably the most important thing to do. Actually, no wait, it is the most important thing, aside from picking a goal in the first place. Notice all around you people that do not have priorities straight. They want to achieve one thing yet consistently put other’s goals in front of theirs or their own less important goals in front of the five star goals.

The journey begins, but from where? Where are you starting from?

Time to take a look at where you are at and be realistic. Want to loose weight? Nathaniel Branden's "The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem" suggest you stand naked in front of a mirror and accept everything you are and you’re not. Is the journey going to take 1,000 steps, or 10 steps? Do you need to head east or west? Do you need money, how much? A realistic view of where you are is worth a momentary pause, acknowledgement, and then brisk footsteps onto the path ahead.

Take action now, and go.

I personally feel that starting on the journey comes before planning it out. A general direction is enough to get started. Fast action towards what you want keeps you from getting thought in an infinite thought masturbation of achieving a goal you’ll never take action on. Once on your path continue to plan the journey, and how to get to your destination. Visualize the journey ahead before going to sleep and when waking up, what is it like to make it day to day. Figure out what you need to take along, and what things are weighing you down. A rocket taking off has multiple stages, and while large, heavy fuel tanks are useful for getting off the ground, once the fuel is exhausted, they only cause wind resistance and added weight. What is it like being there? Is this what you really want? Don’t be afraid to drop a goal in a second if you realize the destination is not what you thought it was, that will only slow you down or stop you from achieving something truly amazing. If it is what you want, then use that vision to drive you harder towards your goal.

I’d love to hear about peoples success in achieving life goals and how they got there.

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:33:38 +0000 http://sett.com/williamhallman/destination
Create mini habits, small steps towards success. http://sett.com/williamhallman/minihabits Let's begin this blog with a picture of the sun rising over the ocean as viewed from Hana in Maui Hawaii. This is the first sunrise I've seen over the ocean, and it was breathtaking. I’ve put this off for a while now, but what better way to start a blog then to beg]]>

Let's begin this blog with a picture of the sun rising over the ocean as viewed from Hana in Maui Hawaii. This is the first sunrise I've seen over the ocean, and it was breathtaking. I’ve put this off for a while now, but what better way to start a blog then to begin with a mini article discussing mini habits and goals. This might be a bit rough around the edges or contain thoughts that are still being clarified. The purpose is to start.

I can’t necessarily speak for other people, but I know that a lot of time when I become stagnant in life or I don’t begin or finish a goal its because I’m not focusing on the small gains, rather the large steps ahead. When you create a mini habit, you're taking small action often that helps lead you towards being successful in life goals or purpose. Mini habits can be the small things you do in life that give you a small edge. Examples are: putting the laundry away as soon as its done, cleaning a dirty dish instead of letting piles stack up, responding to email right away instead of putting it off till later in the week, or setting your keys and wallet and personal items in a group in the same place so you don't spend time searching for them.

When you create mini goals, or subgoals of a larger goal, or a sub action that is related to a larger goal you remove the large pressure of achieving something big. If I go into the gym for the first time in a year with a goal to bench 250lb and I struggle with 135lb, I would imagine I would be very discouraged because the goal seems so very far out. But if I instead shift my focus and attitude of success towards just making it to the gym 3 days a week, I’m taking a small step in the larger direction of being in better shape, being healthier, and ultimately achieving that larger goal I may have set.

Mini habits and goals can be intertwined and work with each other. As part of being healthier socially I may make the habit of having eye contact with people I pass on the street and smiling, or maybe saying hi or starting small conversations with someone at the bus stop, or the waiter at the restaurant. To be healthier and in better shape I may drink a glass of water every time I pass the break room at work, or suggest a coworker climb the stairs with me once an hour every hour, or have my vitamins out on my nightstand when I go to bed so they're right in front of me to take when I wake up in the morning.

Mini habits is about focusing your mind and goal setting on achieving small victories that can fuel and empower you to achieve greater goals, victories and large momentum in the long run. The idea is that once you create a mini habit, that habit can become second nature, fuel small success, and become second nature no longer requiring the mental will power to achieve it. It has become easy, like taking a breath or brushing your teeth in the morning and now that it is second nature you can focus on the next mini habit, or mini goal. You’re essentially not focusing on climbing the mountain but just on taking the next step in front of you. You're realizing your own faults and short comings and setting up processes that help you to avoid failing in what you want to achieve.

I'd like to hear anyone's opinion on this subject or examples of mini habits or mini goals.

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Mon, 07 Apr 2014 12:52:06 +0000 http://sett.com/williamhallman/minihabits