Archive for December 2019

Cheapest Countries for an American Backpacker to Travel in 2020


Do you wish to travel the world someday? Don’t know which country to start with?

Unlike Europeans, Americans do not traditionally backpack all over the world. Usually, an American would travel within their own country or visit South American nations; but rarely Europe or Asia. The reason being, the airfare for traveling over the Atlantic is too high. However, there are some countries, even in Europe and Asia, where the expenses are so less, you won’t feel even a small dent on your wallet.


Here Are the 6 Cheapest Countries for an American Backpacker to Travel in 2020

1) Mexico 

Mexico is not only close by from the United States, but it is also one of those countries where an American is not harassed or heckled for money. Visit Mexico if you are interested in exploring the ancient Mayan culture. Even today, the ancient architecture is perfectly preserved by the locals. However, the food here is a bit pricey than other South American countries.?

2) Thailand 

Want to stay in a country where a wholesome meal for one costs less than $2? If yes, then Thailand is the best place for you. Domestic beer in Bangkok will cost you just $ 2.65. Transportation is even quite cheaper. While in Thailand, you can expect to see lush jungles, mountains, amazing beaches and friendly people everywhere. Thailand comes first for most first-time backpackers wanting to experience Asia.

3) Nepal

Interested in temples and monuments? Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal with backpackers flooding in from all around the world. From November to February, each year, this city is filled with travelers wanting to experience Nepalese culture. You can also go hiking or just admire the mesmerizing beauty of the countryside areas. Food expenses are quite similar to that of Thailand but accommodation is way cheaper.

4) Cuba

Cuba is another Latin American country in the list of cheap countries to travel for an American. A wholesome meal for one in a city like Havana will cost you a mere $5. While traveling from one city to another city can be done within a dollar. It’s literally free of cost.?

5) Spain

When it comes to backpacking in Europe, Spain comes first to my mind. From spicy and delicious food to Flamenco music, Spain has a lot to offer. You don’t have to worry about travel expenses in Spain. As a tourist, you can have a great time soaking some sunshine on the beaches itself. Since it is a developed nation, expenses like food or commute is a bit more than that of Asian or South American countries.?

6) Dominican Republic

The last one on the list Dominican Republic is a paradise for surfers and beach lovers. Like Americans, people here too love baseball. A huge number of players in the American Baseball League come from this country. So, expect to bump into some baseball player here. Expense-wise, this country is quite similar to Cuba. Food and commute are very cheap.


I hope the above post helps you understand the real value of travel in Europe and Asia. Barring airfare, there is not really much to worry about. So, next time you make travel plans, do not forget to add one of the above-mentioned countries to your list.

6 Hobbies That’ll Make You Better at Travel


I get it. Traveling is not something you can learn from a book or a video course. It is an experience and you cannot simulate the same adventure with technology or something else. However, some hobbies make you more energetic and diligent in general. This post is all about hobbies that make you better at travel.


Here Are the 6 Hobbies That’ll Make You Better at Travel

1) Photography

Very few backpackers prefer to travel without a good camera. These days, action cameras and drones are likewise trending within the backpacker community. To get better at travel, one needs to learn how to capture stunning images. You can only do so with practice. This is why I recommend a traveler to invest in a camera–if you haven’t already– and learn how to take well-defined pictures.

2) Blogging

Blogging is another hobby that can make you better at travel. The whole idea with travel blogging is to share your experience as a traveler with those who wished they were as lucky as you. Moreover, with advertising and affiliate marketing, you can also earn some decent passive income.

3) Vlogging

Just like blogging, uploading videos on social media sites like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook can make you better at travel. To begin your vlogging journey, all you need is a good wide-angle camera and a gorilla pod. An action camera can also be used as a secondary camera for creating b-rolls. You can learn a lot by following VegaBrothers on YouTube.

4) Going out Solo 

Most travelers are quite comfortable in their own skin. Particularly, the ones who backpack solo. But if you have been traveling with a partner or a travel group, you might want to learn how to travel solo as well.?

The best way to get comfortable with yourself or by being alone in a foreign land is by going out solo in your city. Go out to bars, cafes, events, parties, travel meetups, etc solo to get rid of the fear of being alone.

5) Frugal Living

Frugal living is kind of a lifestyle but you can also practice it as a hobby. Instead of becoming obsessed with your personal finances (which can actually be good if done only for a few days or weeks), you can get the finances handled in any one area of your life.?

For instance, if you haven’t paid off the credit card debt, make a plan to do so in the next 6-8 months. Frugality also helps you travel the world with very less or no money at all.

6) Working Out

Wished you could cover more counties the last time you went to Europe or Asia? Tiredness and fatigue are things that most Instagram travel photographers do not talk about. They are more interested in getting you excited about the good side or the pros of traveling. You can travel for a longer duration and also more frequently by working out and training your body during the offseason.


Travel doesn’t have to be arduous. It’s one of those things that most people do it as a leisure. There are some great places in and around the United States and you don’t need any special skills to visit those. But things change when you are in some Asian or African nations. This is why you should always be prepared to face whatever comes your way. 

Year End Financial Planning

income tax

As the end of the year draws near, it is a good time to make plans to wrap up your finances and look ahead to the next year. There are several things that you should do before the end of the year, and here are six of them.

Getting Tax Losses Back

income tax

If you sold a stock earlier this year for more than what you paid for it, then you will need to pay capital gains taxes on the profits. The good news is that you can use a loss from another stock to offset your gain. This will ultimately decrease the capital gains taxes you owe. For example, if you gained $3,000 from the sale of one stock but lost $3,000 elsewhere, then you do not owe any taxes on that gain.

You can use up to $3,000 from any losses to offset your income. If you earn $100,000, and you lose $3,000 from your stocks, then your total taxable income would be $97,000. If you lost more than you gained, then you can move these losses to the next year. It is important to know that you cannot claim a loss on the stock if you sell it and then purchase it again within 30 days.

Contributions to Charity 

A cash gift is one of the least advantageous ways to give to charity when it comes to tax benefits. If you want to give a stock, this is a good time to do it. However, if you cannot decide on the right charity, then you can give a stock to a donor advised fund (DAF). This allows you to get the tax deduction this year and wait until next year to decide who will receive the funds from your DAF. This can also help you organize your gifts into one location.

Contributions to 529

You can always contribute to a 529 savings account for college. This account has a few tax benefits because it allows for both growth and distributions that are free of taxes. For example, you can use the account to pay for books, tuition, and other fees without having to pay taxes on the money. 

One newer tax change allows you to take distributions from the account for private high schools and elementary schools, as well. This allows you to distribute up to $10,000 each year. You may want to consider contributing to a child?s, grandchild?s, niece?s, or nephew?s account at the end of the year.?

While you can contribute to this account at any time, there is not a tax deduction if you contribute. You should keep in mind that there are limits to what you can contribute, so it would be wise to start saving as early as possible for college tuition and other expenses.


It is usually best to plan to spend the money from your flexible savings account by the end of the year. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, you can sometimes carry over funds or have a grace period, depending on what type of FSA account that you have. It is a good idea for you to check with your employer about the specifics of your plan. 

If you cannot carry over your contributions to the next year, then you will want to plan on having your dental or other doctor visits before the end of the year. If you have prescriptions, you can consider getting these before the end of the year, as well. More expensive prescriptions, including glasses, are also considered to be eligible under FSA.

On the other hand, a health savings account (HSA) can carry over to the next year. The deadline to contribute to this account is April 15. This means you still have time to contribute to this account and count this contribution toward your taxes this year. If you are over the age of 55, then you can contribute an extra $1,000 to this account.

Retirement Plans

If you have a 401(k) at your workplace, then you can still contribute to it. If you are over the age of 50, then you can contribute an additional $6,000 per year. If you have not contributed to it recently, then the deadline is April 15. This means that you can still contribute to it and receive some reductions on your taxes this year.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

If you are over the age of 70, then you will be required to take a minimum amount of money out of your retirement account every year. This can include IRAs, SEP-IRAs, and your 401(k)s if you are not currently employed.

If you do not take out a required minimum distribution, then you will face a large penalty. This can be steep at half of the amount you were required to take out. For example, if you were required to take out $3,000 and you did not, then you will still need to take out this amount, as well as pay $1,500. If you have inherited IRAs from family members, you may need to take out some money from those, as well.

Retirement Planning

Everybody should eventually have a retirement plan in place. Approaching retirement without knowing if you will run out of money is very dangerous. There are so many good tools online these days that many people don?t even need a financial planner. For do-it-yourself types, the best retirement planning application is WealthTrace.

This retirement planning tool allows consumers to build a full, detailed retirement plan and see how various what-if scenarios will impact their overall retirement. For those who do not want to create their own plan, it is a very good idea to find a qualified financial planner to help you figure out if you are on the right track.

Closing Thoughts 

If you follow these steps at the end of the year, then you will be able to successfully wrap up things with your finances. This can help you maximize your deductions from taxes while reducing the likelihood of any losses.

StepBet App Review: Get Paid to Walk


One of the world’s most successful investors and business tycoon Warren Buffett once said: “When you combine ignorance and leverage, you get some pretty interesting results.” I don’t know exactly how “ignorance” would help you achieve your goals but I am pretty sure having “leverage” can. Sometimes life puts us in situations where we are forced to use our “misfortune” or “negative circumstance” as leverage. Whereas in certain situations you have to intentionally keep some leverage.?


About the creator of StepBet

StepBet is an app that pays you to achieve your fitness goals. The app works on the concept of “leverage” discussed in the previous section. This app is created by a gaming/health/technology company called WayBetter. WayBetter is East Coast New York-based company founded by Jamie Rosen in 2011.

How does the StepBet App work?

Before we move further with installation and the inner workings of this app, I would like to inform you that StepBet–as the name suggests–is a betting app. You can lose money if you fail to achieve the set goal. But the good news is, you have total control over goal setting.?

To get started, install the app on your phone from the relevant online marketplace. Once you tap-open the app for the very first time, it will ask you to choose a device (from the list) to help them track your steps. You can choose anything from Fitbit, Garmin, or Apple Watch.

Next, it will give you a weekly step goal which you need to achieve every week for the next six weeks. Once you join the game, every step you take will be counted. Also, they reward you based on the pot system. You will get back the money you invested plus some extra cash (from losers pockets).

What I like about StepBet App

I like the entire concept of the StepBet App. In today’s world, where everyone is chasing comfort, it is extremely difficult to sacrifice the things that may be momentarily fun and exciting (like watching TV for hours, consuming fast food, gossiping with friends, etc) but harmful in the long run. StepBet forces you to break those habits and instil the ones that make you healthy.

What I don’t like about StepBet App

I don’t see any major downsides to this app but one thing that bugs me that I am required to connect my activity tracker with the app within 24 hours of the week ending. Failing to do so will result in an automatic disqualification. In short, I will lose all my money and will have to start the whole process again (by adding more money). I wish the developers of this app made some improvements in the process of synchronization of the app with an activity tracker.  

My recommendation

I recommend StepBet app anyone who is struggling to lose weight. If despite trying everything–joining a gym, dieting, taking nutritional supplements–you are not able to stay fit, you might need to take a different less-traveled route.


StepBet is free of cost app for your smartphone. There is no pro version of this app. Click here to download StepBet for your phone.

A Productive Rant About Most Common Workplace Issues


When it comes to workplace issues, most people are concerned about things like their salary, workload, commute to and from work, etc. But several other factors determine whether the workplace is healthy or not. Working for too long in a toxic workplace can have greater ramifications than you think. This post is a productive rant on most common workplace issues.

The Most Common Workplace Issues Faced by Contemporary White-Collar Workers

1) Lengthy and insignificant meetings

The main purpose of a meeting at a workplace is to inform and discuss key issues about the organization. There can be several reasons for higher-level executives to conduct a meeting. The problem arises when meetings are stretched beyond the set period. Having a time limit of 30 minutes would do wonders for those who consider meetings to be an ineffective way to pass on the information.

2) Sexual harassment

An online survey done in 2018 revealed that 80 percent of women in the US have been sexually harassed in a workplace at some point in their careers. This shows how common this issue is. Several other social media surveys and polls have reported similar results.?

3) Difficult co-workers

Indeed, we cannot expect to get along with every person we work with. There are going to be some who we like more than others and vice versa. But I am talking about the ones who cross all boundaries by making rude comments, being sarcastic in an unfunny/insulting way or being too critical with their judgments about others.?

4) Bullying 

Bullying is common in workplaces where opportunities are sparse. The ones in power will go to any length to keep others beneath them. Also, there are cases where a co-worker would belittle you just for the sake of it. This is a classic case of a bully creating another bully. Here, there is a likelihood that there are other bullies in your workplace too.

5) Discrimination

Generally, discrimination at work is caused by differences in gender, sexuality, race, and religion. The people who discriminate belong to the mainstream section of the society and the victim comes from a minority class. Also, there are some cases where co-workers discriminate based on whether they like or dislike the victim.

What Are Some Quick and Easy Tips to Deal with the Above-Mentioned Workplace Issues?

1) Most often, an employee can’t fix major workplace issues. In this case, after some introspection, it is better to look for another job.

2) Remember that when two or more people work together, there is bound to be some conflict. Unless your co-workers prefer to avoid conflict at all costs, you will find yourself arguing about this and that, once in a while.?

3) Always seek help from the people in management. It is the management department’s job to resolve interpersonal conflicts between employees.

4) If the situation gets too tough, ask one of the older co-workers to mentor you. You can offer them a reference for their next job.

5) Lastly, remember that someone being hostile towards you does not make the entire workplace a difficult one to work in. You will have to raise the issue with the management. But make sure your tone is cordial and relaxed.