I want to travel, too, dammit!

Thanks to social media, once exclusive photographic shots, reserved for the few who invested the money and time to venture out into nature, are now being captured by a growing online community of nature lovers.

Hike4PTSD.com Insta screenshot
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Many people are starting to put their video games down. They’ve watched almost everything interesting on Netflix. You have seen every reality show from episode 1 to the season finale of it, because the internet has allowed us to have those types of luxuries. Even with the internet, people are bored.

The growing fad, for some time, has been social media travelling. You see it on your Facebook news feed: another one of your high school buddies, or your estranged family, enjoying themselves on a vacation, uploading 130+ pictures of them on a boat, on a beach, kissing dolphins, sexy dancers, buffets. What the hell are these people doing for a living, that they can splurge like this?! …sorry, I went a little off track there.

Solar Project highway shot
This is an unedited picture from the passenger side of our vehicle, using an iPhone5, of this solar power plant in California.

I am (I think from my father’s side,) a “player hater,” if you will. I don’t physically talk shit to other people, but it’s hard for me to be happy for other people doing things, that I also want or wanted to do. …this is a common trait within people who are selfish. I am selfish. I can admit that. I like to tell people my stories, if they’ll hear me. Who doesn’t want to be the first one in a group t discover something new for the entire group to experience, you know?

Well, look. I used to work in a steel mill. I had an “okay” job. I had a house. Cars. All that Jazz. …I didn’t get to travel though, because, though my job paid well, but it didn’t really come with much benefits. I didn’t have it in my budget, to just go up and rent a hotel, and screw around, not make money, for a couple of days. It just didn’t seem like the smart thing to do, for someone who had bills to pay.

…so yea, if someone who’s working their ass off, sees someone, like that… man, what do you even do for money, man? This guy is always travelling. …yea, I’m not going to hate on the man, but I’m also not going to be over the top, ecstatic for the young lad. …look, all I’m saying is… my feelings were valid, from my non-vacationing point of view.

But after a while, I was able to figure out some stuff, that, even though I am not “balling out of control”  traveling, I travel enough to post pictures online, enough to make me feel sure that my ex girl friends are jealous, when they see them on their social media feed. “Stunt on these hoes” as the young kids would say.

Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge has an overlook area on both side’s of the bridge.

My dad really didn’t pass on too much of his knowledge to me, as he was way too busy working his butt off to provide money for food and a home. If he was at home, we was sleeping or drinking. He didn’t have time for no little kid asking no dumb ass questions… …the soccer game was on. (My dad is Hispanic, they watch any soccer game that is on, no matter who is playing, and get mad if you talk during the game.) And I have no sons to pass on this knowledge to, so I bestow upon thee, a bunch of random shit about how to travel more:

  1. There are jobs where they need you to travel to different places.

    There is a job field called the “Field Service” job field. …when I say job field, I mean like, Administrative work job field, food preparation job field. Like… what are you willing to do for money. I love my city of Houston, and I remember being young, and any job that said “are you willing to travel for work” I would immediately mentally disregarded that job. I was an electrician. There is a field service electrician job field. Spice up your resume, and search for jobs that specially say “need to travel 50% of the time.” I don’t know why I felt that that was a bad thing. I guess I was trained to think that working 40+ hours a week is the only meaningful way to make a living. There are people who hit the airports every Monday, travel for some company, talking to some customer, about whatever field service needs they are trying to get done at their job. When machines are expensive enough, that company will send a technician to repair it, or inspect it. …you could be this technician.

    Mt Shasta Overlook
    A “vista point” is basically a rest stop/ picnic area type of stop, but has a very scenic point of view, of an area. When you see then, go to them.

 

  1. Sign up to the rewards programs to every single car rental, airline, and hotel you can think of.

    This one works out very nicely, if you are able to land a field service job, and get to use your rewards account number while purchasing items. The points eventually add up to free things. Like car rentals, airline tickets, hotel stays. A lot of different rewards programs work with each other, to interchange points from a hotel, to an airline ticket. If you have the credit to do so, some of the airlines offer you a lot of points to sign up for a rewards credit card. The amount of points given, can sometimes be enough for a round trip, depending on the airports being used and the date/time you want to leave. If you are flexible, plan your trip around when you get the best deal with points, instead of planning a trip with dates like “I want to leave Friday and come back Sunday.” I had a friend get a credit card with different airlines, and bounced around to a couple cities and back home, all just from activation reward points. Never touched the cards after that. Free trip.

Car Rental shot Colorado
See that white SUV? I rented it for free, using reward days saved up. 4 days of free SUV.
  1. Road Trips are way cheaper than flying.

    As a family man, the epic vacation destination stereotype is somewhere like Disneyland. I have asked friends that have taken their family (like, my married friends with wives and kids, not my single friends, there’s a big difference in expenses.) And with a house rental, and a week long park stay, it cost him around $9000, not including food. My mouth dropped. I’m sure it was very rude, I just don’t love my kids $9000 “instant money drops” worth. For life threatening accidents, yes. Vacations?? No. This person did. I was flabbergasted. Well.. that’s not me. I can’t buy tennis shoes if they’re not on sale, and if they’re more than $100, my brain immediately says “fuck no.” I’m not Einstein, but I have this equation, it goes like this: if $100 equals fuck no… $9000 equals hellll to the fuck nah bro, fuck that shit, you’re tripping… no. Absolutely not. I’m not a slave. That’s like 3 months salary. That’s a down payment to a house. That’s a “brand new” used car.

    I discovered that, if you drive somewhere, all you’re really paying for is gas. And cars get pretty good gas mileage on the highway. So you can get pretty far on $40 of gas. I have driven from Houston, Texas, to Colorado Springs, stopping to fill up the gas tank once. $70 of gas. A flight to Denver, from Houston, for me, my kids, and wife? $1000 cost, easy. What sounds better to you? $70 of gas. Or $1000+ flying. You get there on the same day.

    VLA site, New Mexic
    The VLA (Very Large Array) Antennae site, in New Mexico, is accessible by a small donation. Kids are free.
  2. Do not ball out on your trips!

I know you see people eating at fancy places, tuxedos, diamond dresses and caviar, as the perfect vacation. …are you a millionaire? I’m only a thousandaire, okay. I have to do things different. Instead of spending $2300 a day for a home rental in Telluride, Colorado, stay at the small hotel for only $150 a night. You can totally go up to the $2300 place, ask for a brochure, take some pictures on snap chat, record yourself there, and leave immediately before security escorts you out. Instead of risking your life hiking 20+ miles, go to a state or national park. Search for “state parks” or “national parks near me” wherever you are at. Go there. It’s a safe, easy access to some of nature’s most photographic destinations, while downplaying the dangers of all the wild bears and mountain lions that roams the United States. Stop at every vista point or rest stop. Just take a picture.

Wizard Island, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park is north of Medford, Oregon. It conveniently has a road that loops this entire volcanic lake. 

 

  1. Visit destinations for only hours, not days.

    I once got told that if I was ever in the north east region, to take off towards Niagara Falls, that it was a must see location. And so I did. I landed in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania for training, but as soon as I landed and got my rental car, I made a mad dash for Niagara Falls. It was 3.5 hours away. I am from Houston. 3.5 hours is like driving to Dallas, Texas, and back. Done. So I go to Niagara Falls. (P.S. when you GPS it, GPS Niagara Falls STATE PARK, or if not, it will take you right into the center of a hood in Niagara Falls, NY. Thanks, Siri, you jerk.) I pay for my parking. Eat something at their food court, which is packed with, only, Chinese and Hindu tourists, enough to have restaurants with menus in their native languages there. This may sound kind of racist. I assure you, I am not a racist. This was just a statement of fact. It was enough for me to be alarmed. “Maybe there was a field trip today?” I walked right up to the closest viewing point to the American side of the falls. I took pictures. Selfies. Video. I stopped and stared at the water fall over the edge. …it got boring after a couple seconds, I mean, yea, it’s a water fall… but it’s just water falling over the top.. So I walked around the park. Went to all the viewing points. Video tapped some squirrel. Got my footage and then got in my car and drove back to Pennsylvania. In and out, I spent around 30 minutes in the park, 45 tops, a lot of it was spent looking for parking. Best site visit ever. I would have totally spent money to spend days here, so glad I didn’t. It was cool to see, but man, am I glad I didn’t spend the money I wanted to, to see it.

    Niagara Falls, New York
    Drove hours, from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to Niagara Falls State Park in the New York/ Canada Border. I stare at this waterfall for around 10 minutes before getting bored.

 

  1. Invite other people to “go in,” on the expense of the trip, to make it cheaper.

    I don’t know why, but I do math for “If we split this between 3 of us… it’d only be $11 each” I’m sure it’s annoying, I’m just trying to get out of paying full price for something I only want to try a little of. But with road trips, it’s different. I get to share the experience of the trip and staying in the same place you are, and instead of multiplying, as it would, if we each paid for our own plane tickets, we can use that money to each pay a fraction of the total trip cost.

    I once took a week long road trip to California. It was around $1500 total, with car rental, hotel stays, and gasoline. If I had flown, it was going to be around $4000 total, for the same trip. I had a similar expensed road trip to Colorado. But I had 3 other passengers with me, who were not kids, so they had jobs, and wanted to pay to come along. It costs us around $375 a person. I was going to take this trip regardless. But instead of doing it by myself, for $1500, I did it with friends, same trip, more fun, for only $375.

    If numbers are too much to think about: my last road trip, I split between 3 people. I paid for everyone’s hotel rooms, and the car rental. Somebody else covered food. Somebody else covered gasoline for the trip. That cut my expense A LOT, and all I did, was ask my facebook friends “who wants to come with me on my family’s road trip, I have 4 seats open? I got the car rental, and hotel rooms.”

    …Would you go on a trip, where you had your own hotel room separate from the kids, and didn’t have to pay for a car rental?

    Hikers in Oregon
    A small group of 5 hikers start the trail at the Multnomah Falls trails, outside of Portland, Oregon, that take you to the top of the waterfalls.

 

  1. Make other people buy things under your rewards program so you can get free stuff.

    My family’s older relatives don’t even bother with technology. They hand us the phone and tell us “dials these numbers for me, I don’t know how to use this thing.” Well, you can profit from that now. I learned that I could log into my airline account, and my dad bought flights, under his name, using his information and card info, and I collected the points from his trip. And because I was a rewards program member, his seat got upgraded to first class, because he was apparently put on the “upgrade stand by” list, (one of the advantages the rewards programs to some airlines offer.) You points don’t expire every year, it takes some time, or not at all, so after I accrued enough points, I was able to book a flight for myself, for free. Just like couponing, you have to find ways to cut corners on travel costs. Get a rewards program and buy all your friends plane tickets for them, like a travel agent, or give them your rewards number and tell them to go nuts.

Hamilton Pool Reserve
The Hamilton Pool Preserve, Texas’s hidden waterfall, between Austin and San Antonio.
  1. If you visit nature, a lot of it is free.

    I had no clue that you had to pay to enter some national parks. No one ever told me. Many of the national parks give you an opportunity to buy a year pass, which give you access to any national park or monument that charges for parking or entry. If you plan on visiting a national park, more than once, in a year, even different ones, it pays for itself in a couple ventures. That being said, there is still a lot of locations and places that you can totally access, explore, and camp at, for free. Depending on the size, maintenance fees, and magnitude of the certain sites, they will all differ whether you have to pay or not. For example, in Texas, we have 2 hidden natural attractions, one called the Hamilton Pool Preserve, which charges around $10 for parking, as opposed to the hidden, yet locally famous Jacob’s Well, which is free. There are highways in the states that are labelled as “scenic highways and byways” that the drive itself, is a very scenic. Some places, the only way to get a good picture is for someone to snap a photo while the car is driving through the highways. Stop at every vista point or scenic overview and explore, you never know what you’re going to miss out.

    Washington DC Lincoln Steps
    The Nation’s Capitol, Washington D.C’s monument area is entirely free, if you can find the parking to get there. My kid stood where MLK gave his “I have a dream” speech for $0.

So next time you feel the inner “player hater” come out in you, while looking at other’s travel through social media, make sure to use some of these tips, and let us know of any other tips we might have missed in the comments!

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