Monthly Archives: February 2015

New Eyes: Travel Changing Perspectives in Seville, Spain

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Earlier this month, Melibee Global launched a new series – New Eyes: Travel Changing Perspectives. The series encourages us to share how travel has changed our perspectives. Given that the premise of inspirNational is the new mindset we develop from living like a traveler, I was excited to contribute. Every trip and every destination I have visited has contributed to how I view the world. Below I am sharing one of my most interesting New Eyes experiences in Seville, Spain.

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Touring Real Alcazar in Seville, Spain provided me with a new perspective on religious diversity. I was fascinated by the architecture in Real Alcazar, which included symbols representing a multitude of religions, from Islam, to Judaism, to Christianity. I learned that throughout centuries of history, Real Alcazar was the residence of royalty of several religions. As the palace changed ownership, and the leaders changed religious backgrounds, they maintained the religious symbols of previous generations. To me, this is an ultimate form of respect. In one of my Spanish poetry classes in undergrad, I learned that Cordoba, another Spanish city, is “The Ornament of World.” It received this special name because it supported Islam, Judaism, and Christianity at the same time during a period of religious unrest throughout the world. The religious diversity, tolerance, and acceptance represented in Seville and Cordoba are concepts that we should apply in the modern world today.

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Interested in participating in the New Eyes conversation? As Melibee Global says, “simply share an image on social media and write a few words about how that image of your travels changed your perspective. Please use #neweyestravel so that we can find your incredible images and stories!”

How Mom-Daughter Trips Contribute to Friendships

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In honor of my best friend’s birthday, I wanted to write about our awesome tradition to go on mom-daughter vacations when we were growing up. Chelsea and I first met in preschool and were great friends and little rascals through elementary school in Michigan. Chelsea moved to Alabama in fourth grade, which we (and our parents) knew would make our friendship challenging. But our jokes, memories, and traditions made us want to put forth as much effort as possible to keep our friendship alive. And thanks to our moms, we were able to see each other at least once a year for girls’ weekend vacations. Over the years, we traveled to Chicago, New York, Boston, Florida, San Francisco, and Nashville. During every trip, we would catch up, eat too much food, site see, explore, and laugh so hard that our stomachs would hurt. I will always remember our trips fondly and give them much credit for keeping Chelsea in my life over the years and continuing our friendship that has lasted over 19 years!

The beginning

The beginning of our friendship

Why were the mom-daughter trips so important to our friendship?

  • They allowed us to have girl time, where our sole focus was our friendship. We could explore new destinations together, catch up on life, share stories, and reminisce our younger years. It was all about “us” and having a good time together.
  • They helped us relax. Going away from distractions of daily life at home, we no longer had to think about chores, school or commitments at home. We could just have fun and relax together.
  • They helped us continue to make new memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. With each new trip came new stories, laughs, and memories to share and keep our long distance friendship alive. Chelsea and I still to this day talk about memories of our past trips. When we moved away for college, having memories of our trips made us want to continue to travel together. We visited each other’s college campuses and most recently Chelsea has visited me in Cleveland. Now I owe her a trip down south one day soon!
Boston Trip in High School

Boston Trip in High School

I could not be more grateful to our moms for helping keep our friendship together and planning such fun trips over the years. Chelsea remains my best friend. I hope that if we have children in the future, we can plan similar trips with our daughters. Mom-daughter trips have greatly impacted my life and I want to pass along the tradition to the next generation.

inspirNational Quotes V

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Recently, someone asked me what was the most recent television show I watched, and I paused and thought, “I don’t remember the last time I have watched TV!” February has turned into one of my busiest months with constant work, little relaxation, and living the fast life. I have accepted this situation though because I have exciting opportunities ahead of me and I know that every ounce of work will make a difference in my future. My workout shirt today keeps me going and reminds me that my hard work will pay off.

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Looking for more inspiration, I turned back to Change Your Life! A Little Book of Big Ideas, by Allen Klein, which I described in my inspirNational quotes III post. I finished the book and outlined my favorite inspirNational quotes from the following sections:

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Gather your courage. Grow old gracefully:

“Courage is grace under pressure.” -Ernest Hemingway

“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” -Billy Graham

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.” -Mark Twain

“In youth we learn. In old age we understand.” -Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Have hope. Help others:

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

“The hopeful man sees success where others see failure, sunshine where others see shadows and storm.” -Orison S. Marden

“A life isn’t significant except for its impact on other lives.” -Jackie Robinson

“Somewhere out there is a unique place for you to help others-a unique life role for you to fill that only you can fill.” -Thomas Kinkade

“Service is rent that you pay for room on this earth.” -Shirley Chisholm

“The world is good natured to  people who are good natured.” -William Makepeace Thackeray

“If you always give, you will always have.” -Chinese Proverb

Keep it light. Know thyself:

“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” -Margaret Lee Runbeck

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

“Know how to live within yourself: there is in your soul a whole world of mysterious and enchanted thoughts; they will be drowned by the noise without; daylight will drive them away; listen to their singing and be silent.” -Fyodor Tutchev

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” -Carl Jung

“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” -John Mason

Learn to forgive. Let ‘er rip life’s journey:

“Always forgive your enemies-nothing annoys them so much.” -Oscar Wilde

“First, I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was dying to marry and have children. And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough so I could return to work. And then I was dying to retire. And now, I am dying…and suddenly realize I forgot to live.” -Anonymous

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.” -Dale Carnegie

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell

“Life is like a sewer- you get out of it what you put into it.” -Tom Lehrer

“Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.” -Annette Funicello

Never give up:

“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.” Josh Billings

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.” -Anonymous

“Sometimes things which at the moment may be perceived as obstacles-and actually be obstacles, difficulties, or drawbacks- can in the long run result in some good end which would not have occurred if it had not been for the obstacle.” -Steve Allen

“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” -William Arthur Ward

“Turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones.” -Anonymous

“We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” -Lee Lacocca

Sweet smell of success:

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” -David Frost

“I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: try to please everybody.” -Herbert B. Swope

“People become really quit remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.” -Norman Vincent Peale

“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.” -Henry C. Link

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” -Mark Twain

“Don’t wait for your ship to come; swim out to it.” -Anonymous

“The secret to success in life is  for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” -Benjamin Disraeli

“The secret to success is constancy to purpose.” -Benjamin Disraeli

“Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will e sharing the adventure with them.” -Denis Waitley

“No one is a failure who is enjoying life.” -William Feather

Take the first step:

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” -Laurence J. Peter

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do in order to have what you want.” -Margaret Young

“knowing what you want is the first step to getting it.” -Louise Hart

Win some, lose some:

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You really never lose until you stop trying.” -Mike Ditka

“Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.” -The Buddha

I hope these quotes inspire you as they have inspired me to keep making a difference in the world, fight for what I believe in, work hard, and never give up. Thank you, Allen Klein, for compiling the quotes in your book to help readers reflect and feel encouraged.

I tweet inspirational quotes and articles often – follow @brittanyvb to see all the quotes. Also check out my new inspirNational Facebook page – “like” the page to see all of my blog updates and related articles.

If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would you go and why?

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Please fill out the poll below, and include a specific country and your reason for choosing the location in the “other” section.

Why Travel to Capital Cities?

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Mainly United States-centric, I have noticed that the majority of my travel over the past year has involved capital cities. From Charleston, West Virginia, to Columbia, South Carolina, and crossing borders to San Jose, Costa Rica, I have had wonderful experiences touring capital cities. This weekend I look forward to visiting the most important capital city in the United States – Washington D.C.! What keeps drawing me to capital cities? Well, partly, it is the convenience of airport access, but capital cities provide great benefits for travelers. Below are some of the intriguing parts of capital cities that should make us want to explore them:

  1. Learn about the heart of the country, state, or province’s government. Not interested in politics? Remember that governments also foster the culture of the location, so you can learn about your destination’s culture and how the region is regulated.
  2. Often (but not always), the capitals are centrally located in your region, easing your ability to travel to other areas. The central location may also provide you with access to public transportation and airports, as capitals are often transportation centers.
  3. Tour museums that display the country or state’s history and culture. Countries often locate important museums in capital cities, so you will have a great opportunity to learn the historical and cultural background of your destination.
  4. Experience the region’s trade, as capitals traditionally are home to ports, market exchanges, and more. You will learn about local goods and souvenirs and also experience the diversity that international trade brings to a region.
Washington D.C. Source: Fox Travel and Tours

Washington D.C. Source: Fox Travel and Tours

The list goes on, but these are some of the most significant benefits of traveling to a capital.

Interested in traveling to a capital city? Challenge yourself with this National Geographic Capital Cities Quiz to learn capital cities throughout the world. iBon voyage!

inspirNational Quotes IV

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“Have the courage to say “no” today so you can say “yes” tomorrow to something you really want.”

Problem solving and can’t find a solution? Consider this thought from Deepak Chopra:

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Here are other quotes that have caused me to pause and reflect:

“Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” -Anonymous

“It is more important to feel strong than to be strong.” -E. 4th & Yoga

“If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.” -Michael Jordan

“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.” -Oprah

“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.” -Orison S. Marden

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Source: Spirit Sciences

Source: Spirit Sciences

I tweet inspirational quotes and articles often – follow @brittanyvb to see all the quotes and more information about my sustainability work. Also check out my inspirNational Facebook page – “like” the page to see all of my blog updates and related articles.

I hope these quotes leave you feeling inspired and motivated to start the week. Happy Sunday!

Entrepreneurship and Travel: Abroaders’ Approach

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Last fall, through the power of social media, I connected with the founders of Abroaders who are game changers in entrepreneurship and travel.

What is Abroaders?

Abroaders is a resource and community that helps people make travel affordable through frequent flyer points and credit card deals. It provides members with “travel hacking news, members only travel tips, and information on how to leverage international travel for explosive personal growth and business development. Cheers to a life without borders!”

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I asked co-founder, A.J. Dunn, to provide us with his perspective on Abroaders’ approach to entrepreneurship and travel. Thank you, A.J., for sharing your insights!


It has never been a better time to consider entrepreneurship.  Especially if you value travel.

There are lots of ways to quench your thirst for travel.  Teaching English abroad, using vacation time to travel, negotiating remote work, etc. If your thirst for travel is similar to mine, the above examples are great, but won’t fully satisfy the need to travel.  I really wanted to travel with no limits.  Never be bound to one location for any reason other than I wanted to be there.  I wanted location independence.  The only way I saw how to do this was win the lottery (be independently wealthy) or have a source of income that didn’t require me to be in any particular place at any particular time unless that was my wish. I chose the latter.

This post isn’t meant to serve as a measuring stick for success, or to measure our travel prowess against one another. So many digital nomads have made more money than me and so many digital nomads have been to more countries than me.  But I am living my dream, and that is all that matters.  We are all on personal journey’s and most of us envision our journey’s to have a different sequence and we are all en route to different places, both literally and metaphorically.

Where you’ve been is nice, where you’re going is exciting, but nothing can compare to right now.

This post is going to outline how I’ve been able to travel the globe (both fast and slow travel) over the last 4 years thanks to entrepreneurship as well as beating the airlines at their own game.

A quick explanation of how I can travel the globe full-time.

Like I said, I am where I want to be.  Maybe it isn’t where you want to be. But there are certain concepts and tools that grant us the true freedom to do with our time whatever it is we please.

In a nutshell, I can travel the globe and experience all things travel because of two things.

  • Entrepreneurship: Using award points and frequent flyer miles allows you to fly for next to nothing….However, food, shelter, water, and having a social life typically require some actual cash.  Entrepreneurship has provided me the income to pay for everything outside of plane tickets.
  • Mastering award travel: International airfare is really expensive.  My business partner and I save tens of thousands of dollars each year thanks to research, a strong attention to detail, and strong systems that have allowed us to master the “frequent flyer miles” or “award travel” game.

Note:  If you’re willing to invest your time and are interested in learning how to master award travel, my company has created some free resources on how to do this.  We created a quick start email course (get sent a series of emails teaching you the essentials).  And we have a weekly podcast that is free and takes a deeper dive into different topics pertaining to award travel. If you want to reap the rewards without investing the time, we have a paid service as well.

Things to consider before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is a wild ride.  I highly recommend you watch this 3-minute YouTube video that explains the entrepreneurial journey in a more concise and elegant way than I can.

Here are some key points and questions I think are very important before you take the plunge

  • Before starting a company, seriously consider having a business partner (will touch on starting a business with a friend later)

At the end of the day, there are like 39842903843342987324 things that need to be accomplished or accounted for.  And what happens if you get sick?  Or have personal things you need to attend to?  In my opinion, a business partner is crucial and it allows you to share some of the stress and responsibility of being the head honcho.

  • Are you mentally tough?

If you aren’t, do yourself a favor and don’t start a company.  Are you offended that I asked that question? Do yourself a favor and don’t start a company.  There are a lot of stressful things about starting and growing a company and if you don’t consider yourself to be mentally tough, you probably can’t handle it, or maybe you could handle it but lack the confidence necessary to grind your way to success.  I haven’t met a successful entrepreneur that wasn’t mentally tough.

  • Do you REALLY want it or would it be nice?

You have to be a good kind of crazy and obsessed with either your business idea or at the very least obsessed with the freedom that a business could provide you.

  • Are you prepared to make a comically low hourly wage in the beginning?

You can definitely achieve great success entrepreneurially and create systems and build a team that allows your company to remain a well-oiled machine without you….But you need to start somewhere, and it’s tough to train somebody to do something if you haven’t done it yourself.  Sure you can source things like web design, and copy writing, but your core product or service, at least at the beginning you will need to be involved.

Quick tip on remote work.

  • Have a reliable work space (especially if you’ve never worked remotely before)

You don’t need an office.  You don’t even need to be a member at a co-working space (although I do advise this). But working remote is more challenging that people think.  I’ve learned I am most productive when I have a dedicated workspace as opposed to working in bed, at a desk, dinner table, then couch, and so on. Working from home is a blessing and a curse.  TV, laundry, your bed, no boss keeping tabs on you.  Those things are the devil and a distraction for your work day.  But there are great pros like saving money on a commute, not having to drive in traffic, and being able to work from anywhere in the world you want.

Questions to answer before starting a company with a friend.

  • Is this a friend that I ever bicker with over petty things?

If you argue about petty things with someone, you should really avoid going into business with them.  Because there will be non-trivial things you’ll have to have very serious conversations about and come to a joint-conclusion.

Erik and I are both rather frank people that naturally seem to avoid pass-aggressive behavior.  This bodes well for a business partnership IMO.  I can tell Erik I think an idea of his will not work and he doesn’t take it personally (I’d like to think I’m the same way).

My next question is really important in regards to coming to those joint-conclusions both people can buy into I previously mentioned and move forward with.

  • Do both friends (or a group of friends) share the same vision and goals for the venture?

What do you both want?  Money?  To make a change?  To offer a service to help as many people as while making sure you can at least pay the bills?  I feel it’s inevitable with any business you’ll come to the following fork in the road: make more money now, or continue to build as much equity as possible in your core business and turn down faster and larger profits.

That fork in the road seems to be a push-pull thing.  Erik and I have gone both ways at different points in our business.  Our decisions pretty much always came back to the vision we both shared for our business.  The first priority was to achieve location independence.  The ability to be anywhere we wanted whenever we wanted. To work from anywhere.  But we also have lofty financial goals as entrepreneurs based on certain future goals we have as individuals (I’m passionate about education and want loads of cash to put into a non-profit in that space).  We also both wanted to have reasonable standards of living on our entrepreneurial journey.  If we both had some cash in our checking accounts in those early days, we decided to turn down quick wins to build equity in the long game or to take some time off and travel.

  • Are you prepared to do more work than your friend, or believe you do more work than your friend without complaining about it?

This thing is cyclical.  There’s times Erik is more motivated than me to work like a crazy person and vice versa.  When you’re in the zone or really passionate and motivated about an aspect of the business to grow and improve, you can’t assume the other person is “there” with you.  It goes both ways and you just need to accept sometimes you’ll do more heavy lifting than the other person.  And there will be times they do more heavy lifting than you.

  • Is the business more important than your friendship?

This isn’t a rhetorical question.  Some people really care about their businesses and are willing to burn a bridge here and there.  Erik and I have known each other forever and from day 1 we agreed the friendship came first. That was a non-negotiable.

This is not a question to answer, but something to take advantage of….This is your friend.  There’s an incredible amount of trust already built.  Leverage this. Continue to allow yourself to trust the person you know and trust the strengths you know they have.  Lots of people go into businesses with certain people for strategic reasons.  There isn’t the trust built up.  There isn’t the chemistry.  This is an advantage you have when you go into businesses with someone you know well.  It limits the emotional and stress overhead of watching finances like a hawk/etc.

Finally, trust your gut!  Our instincts seem to have evolved further than our ability to rationalize and “think” some things out.  This isn’t always the case, but when in doubt, I firmly beleive that whatever your gut tells you should trump everything else.

My hope for this post is that you found  useful information/tools and are inspired to make entrepreneurship and travel a part of your daily life. Feel free to reach out through the Abroaders website if you have any questions.