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Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

My new life mantra is eat the cake and travel the world! Yesterday’s burning of Notre Dame Cathedral has me reassessing my life choices. Visiting Paris and seeing Notre Dame was on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember but I took for granted that it would always be there and now, I will never get to see the original spire or the forest of latticework that was the ceiling of the cathedral. That opportunity is gone and I can’t get it back. Today, I’ve decided not to wait anymore but to go for it. Life is not about things being perfect, it’s about getting things done. It’s better to travel the world on a budget than not at all. The thing is this life lesson applies to more than just travel.

When I was a little girl, I loved traveling. I still do. It is my favorite thing to do. My biggest dream was to travel the world and see as much of it as I could. It started with books of far off places and my imagination took it from there.

Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

READ ALSO: Five Ways to Have an Amazing Spring Break on a Budget

When I was in middle school, around 12-years-old, I was assigned to write a report about the place I most wanted to go. Most of the kids in my class chose the closest metropolis, some chose New York City, Los Angeles or San Francisco. I chose Paris, France.

After researching Notre Dame Cathedral, The Louvre, Sacré Cœur of Montmartre, La tour Eiffel, le Musee D’Orsay and the catacombs, I fell deep in love with the people and the culture of Paris. I decided that I need to speak the language and eventually, live there. But first, visiting Paris was a priority.

By the time I was 14-years-old, I was actively working on making the dream a reality. I learned the language. Ate the food. Became a Francophile. Dreams of putting a padlock on the bridge of love and throwing the key into the Seine, walking the city at night under the stars and writing about it all, permeated everything I did. But I never did it. Any of it.

Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the Best Family Vacation

Instead, I got married after graduation and never made it to Paris. The bridge of love has been dismantled and the Notre Dame Cathedral has burned and I’ll never get to see the forest within or the original spire. But I’m not going to wait anymore. I’m going to plan the trip, eat the croissants and drink the espresso.

My girls are getting older now and I want to share the world with them. That is a gift that, as a parent, you can’t top. The experience of seeing the world is priceless. But how do you literally give your kids the world when you live on a budget? It’s possible with some careful planning, smart shopping and frugality.  Think about it this way, is it better to see Paris now, maybe not the way you imagined it, or to wait until everything is just right and never get to see it?

Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

I did some research and where there is a will, there is always a way. 

How to Travel the World on a Budget

Travel at Night

By traveling at night, via train or airplane, you save yourself the cost of a night stay and red-eye flights are often more economical. This is a great way to save money.

Explore the Great Outdoors

We all know that staying in a huge metropolis is more expensive than staying in more remote areas. Take the chance to explore the amazing national parks of the USA. For $80, a National Park Pass allows you entry to every park in the country for a year, creating the perfect route across America for a road trip. Discover the world in a deeper, more natural and meaningful way. Enjoy the desert parks, the cool redwoods, beaches, mountains and forests for a fraction of the cost of visiting the cities.

Buy Foods at the Supermarket

No matter where we travel, we always hit the grocery store for water, snacks, fresh fruit and yogurts. You can save a lot of money by not eating out for every meal and then enjoy one nice meal out a day.

Plan ahead and have a budget

Shop for flights on Sunday and Tuesday nights, at least 3 months in advance or watch for specials. Often, there are flight specials to Europe for fractions of the cost, if you are flexible in your travel dates.

Use Points for Flights and Hotel Stays

Make sure that you have points cards for every hotel and airline that you use. I use my favorite airline and hotel chain regularly and accumulate points to use for future trips. Also, acquiring credit cards with your favorite airlines, hotel chains and Chase Sapphire offer lots of points when signing up, sometimes for several flights and stays.

Use Student and Other Discount Cards

Are you a student, teacher, or under 26-years-old? Welcome to the world of 50%-off attractions and a whole lot of discounts. Get a student/teacher/youth card and save half on your travel. Always ask if there are discounts available for students or youth because you never know.

Pick Budget Friendly Destinations

Visiting budget-friendly destinations like Asia and South America where your money goes further. Exploring India or making your way across South America can be surprisingly cheap. With a little research, you can find out where the best places to visit are. Save your money for the more expensive countries. Balancing them with cheaper destinations means you can spend a little more, without burning through your entire budget.

Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

Get City Tourist Cards

If you plan on seeing a lot of sights in a city, you should get a city tourism card. It’s a great deal and will save you lots of money.

Most importantly, eat the cake and travel the world. Stop waiting for the time to be right. Just go.

Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

What is your ultimate travel bucket list destination? Whether you’re visiting Paris or the Taj Majal, what is your number one tip for how to travel the world on a budget?

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#PrayforParis, Paris, ISIS.Humanity, terrorism, Beirut, Syrian Refugees, Human Rights, Trump, borders, Peace

If you are the praying sort, please pray for humanity. I’ve not written about the situation in Paris until tonight because mostly, I was just trying to sit with it and digest it. I am having ripples of those same vulnerable feelings that overcame so many of us on 9/11. I am not an expert on what has happened, or what is going on in Syria, Beirut or any other place in the world where terrorists are wreaking havoc on our combined societal psyche but I am a citizen of the world.

Here is what I do know. I have seen what ISIS has done. I have witnessed the videos of random beheadings. I know that a terrorist and a Muslim are not the same thing. A Muslim is a member of a faith and a terrorist is someone who strikes fear into the hearts of others with no remorse. A terrorist sneaks in like a lamb and then attacks without provocation. Above all else, I know that we are all humans.

I know that terrorism is an act of cowardice and no matter who is in the line of fire, it is always a loss and we are all victims of the tyranny. The only way to overcome the brutality of terrorism is for those of us who have felt it’s wrath to rise up, band together and fight back. We have to be willing to make the sacrifice to stand up for what we believe in and be brave in the face of our greatest fears. We must believe in our purpose as much as they believe in their hatred.

People all over the world are splitting hairs in the wake of this tragedy. Trying to make sense of such a senseless act leaves heavy hearts making rash decisions and placing unwarranted blame on innocent victims. This is what is happening. Fear mongering is creeping in, perpetuated by politicians and those who already had hearts full of hatred. Bigots are using this as an excuse to proclaim themselves righteous.

The thing is this, we are losing sight of what is really happening. We are being manipulated. The terrorists are winning. If we live in fear and ban refugees from seeking shelter in our country, the terrorists win.

Trump and other members of the GOP are taking this opportunity to push their agenda. Even with fear and sorrow in my heart, in light of the recent terrorists attacks, I refuse to believe that we must shut people out to keep ourselves safe. More stringent vetting before we allow anyone to cross borders anywhere, I get but shutting entire populations out because of where they come from is insane.

Maybe my perspective is a little different because being a Latina I’ve already been on the politicians’ list of people who should be kept out. If we believe the politicians, all Latinos are rapist and drug dealers, all Syrians are members of ISIS and all Muslims are terrorists. The problem with absolute statements is that there are no absolutes in life. People are not an all or nothing sort of situation.

I get it, we’re scared. We are all scared of ISIS and terrorism in general and we should be. They are dangerous, they kill without discrimination and they hate us but I think it is appalling that politicians like Trump would use this terrible tragedy to push a political agenda.

How can we turn our backs on the people who need our help the most? How can we turn refugees seeking political asylum, which could mean the difference between their life or death, away and send them back to imminent death?

I’ve written before about the Latinos coming to the United States to escape persecution in their own country; to give their children a better life. They risk everything to come to the United States to keep their children safe and give them a chance in life, leaving behind everything and everyone they’ve ever known or loved. The Syrians who are seeking refuge are doing the same. They want to live. They have warrior hearts and they need shelter from the terrorism in their own country.

You know, not every Mexican is in the cartel and not every Syrian is a part of ISIS most of these people who are so desperate to cross our borders into the United States just want the chance to survive. How can we deny them that?

Hearts are broken, faith shaken and fear has taken hold of us all but we cannot let that happen because if we do, we condemn those who need us most and we let the terrorist win. We cannot live our lives hiding from the what ifs because in the end, danger can always find a way. We win by retaining our humanity in the face of this crisis. We win by reaching out to those who need us the most and giving them a helping hand, not kicking them in the teeth and sending them home. Remember, over half of these refugees are children.

Pray for Paris. Pray for Beirut. Pray for the Syrians. Pray for humanity. Pray for the whole world. Be safe. Do whatever you need to do to gain your bearings and then open your heart and remember who the true enemy is…ISIS not the Muslim people in general.

I know you’re afraid. We are all afraid but please don’t let this change your humanity.

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