10 Things Single Moms Should Look For in a New Job

As the school year comes to an end, I highly encourage you to take time to start thinking about where you are right now and what you want to work on this summer. One thing I recommend is for you to evaluate your employer. This is the perfect time for you to start job searching if you’re on the hunt. You can use the summer to do interviews and research since your schedule will be a little less strenuous. I often hear moms complain about their current employer but I always wonder if they have done their initial research before accepting a job offer. I understand that sometimes you have to do what you have to do but other times, you have options. I have switched jobs three times in the last year (one wasn’t optional due to the company downsizing) and have learned a lot as I am still in the beginning of my career. Today, I want to share 10 things you should consider when looking for your next job (in no particular order).

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  1. Flexibility. This is major for me and I am sure it is for you. I can work in a typical 9-5 environment with the ability to come in and go as long as I am getting my work done. If your child has a lot of doctor’s appointments or school events, you may want a company that is okay with you taking off to handle your mom duties. Do they offer laptops? Telecommuting is huge today. Ask if there are opportunities to work from at home, if not everyday, maybe once or twice a week. I’ve been fortunate to be able to make up my time if I didn’t want to use PTO or come in later on days we have appointments. Also, having the option to come in on Saturdays has helped. If you are a salaried employee, none of this may matter to you. I am still entry level at this point.

  2. Company culture. What is the environment like? Do the departments function as teams or individual employees? Are there casual Fridays? Do you have to wear business attire or is it business casual? Do the employees believe in the company and its values? I bet you are wondering: how will I figure this out? I’ll tell you. Ask around. Randomly message people on LinkedIn to get their opinion. You may not get a response from everyone but at least one or two can help. Read reviews on Glassdoor and other job sites. Look around at the environment when you interview. How do the desks look? You do not want to go work in a toxic environment. It can make you tired before you even start.

  3. Location. This will determine your commute and how far you are from your home and your child’s school. If your commute is 30 minutes to an hour, you may not be able to show up when you want and be active because your lunch break is only 30 minutes or an hour.

  4. Financial status. Is the company cash heavy or drowning in debt? I learned this a couple of years ago. You do not want to join a company, only to learn that the company is in financial distress especially as the sole provider for your child. Most large companies will have financial information available on their website. However, if you are considering joining a small company or startup, you can ask various questions in the interview. For example: How many employees do you have/forsee hiring next year? How long have the top three employees been with the company? How does the company receive funding? When was the last round received? Do you anticipate needing another round of funding? Is the company growing or shrinking? You may get some stares but it is worth the discussion.

  5. Professional growth opportunities. Does the company have a budget for professional memberships? Do they allow you to attend conferences? Most companies have tuition reimbursement and I’m glad to say that the company I work for recently implemented direct bill, where they pay for courses up front for full-time employees. They also have an education department that provides trainings and courses for the employees to strengthen their skills. Ask yourself what will you learn new. How does the companies invest in their employees?

  6. Salary. A lot of people switch jobs for the increase in pay. Sometimes it is not worth it, especially if you have more pros than cons at your current job. The least you should accept is a $10K increase unless it’s a lateral move for a very good reason i.e. increased exposure, exposure to different areas of the industries, more opportunities for growth, distance from home.. You don’t want to go running to another job if they are only giving you two more dollars for way more work. You get where I am going with this. Personal satisfaction is more important plus you can always negotiate other things. You want to be able to provide but you also want to be able to maintain your sanity and grow in the process.

  7. Benefits package. What is the cost of medical, dental, vision, etc? Are the benefits effective immediately upon hire? What does the PTO policy look like? Can you choose how you use it versus it being allocated as sick, personal, and vacation time. Does the company offer childcare memberships, onsite childcare, employee wellness, financial planning, or anything you are interested in? My current employer offers for Care.com memberships, financial planning, and employee wellness programs to mention a few. You can workout anytime at any of the locations employee gyms or you can attend fitness classes for free.

  8. Prospective Manager or Director. Make sure you take time to interview them. A lot of times your leader has a big impact on your experience at work. Most of the times, the person scheduling your interview will give you their name. Google them, look them up on LinkedIn, and be ready to ask them questions in the interview to see if they align with your values.

  9. Size of the company. There are pros and cons to both, depending on where you are in your career at that moment. With bigger companies, you are more likely to benefit from professional growth and have more resources. With smaller ones, you have to wear multiple hats and your resources are often limited.

  10. Long term goals. Do you find purpose in the new role? Does it align with where want to be in five years? What do you need to learn to be most qualified for the job that you want in five years? Can you learn it there?

The goal is for you to make sure you can be at a company where you grow under amazing leadership. Making sure the company is a good fit for you matters! If you don’t have a five-year plan, develop one and work backwards. Don’t forget that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.

I want to hear from you. What are some things that you look in a new job? Did you find these things helpful? Have you tried any before?

28 Lessons I’ve Learned in 28 Years

Happy birthday to me!! I cannot believe I have made it to chapter 28 in the book of life. This morning I immediately went back through my journal to see where I was last year and surprisingly, there hasn’t been much change over the past year in areas where I wanted to mainly focus: finance and physical health. *sigh* This year has to be be the year that I prioritize both! Anyways… I wanted to share 28 lessons I have learned in 28 years with you:

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  1. Devotion/prayer/quiet time is essential first thing in the morning. This has helped and continues to help set the tone for my day.

  2. Be kind to people. You never know their story or why they act a certain way, even if they are mean or rude to you. Having this platform has taught me a lot about the background of people, how it impacts their life, and why they act a certain way.

  3. It is okay to ask for help when I don’t want to. For a long time I’ve struggled with asking for help, especially from people who I don’t feel that I have contributed anything to BUT when I need help, I have to ask for it. Sometimes you’re can be just ONE ASK AWAY from getting what you need to get to the next level.

  4. I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my decisions, whether it’s parents, grandparents, and/or other relatives. Recently, I caught myself about to do this and reminded myself that it wasn’t necessary. Half the time, they won’t understand anyways.

  5. It is okay to separate myself from negative people (even family) or anyone that makes me feel less than, as if I am a hindrance, or as if I am constantly being judged.

  6. Wealth is not all about money. As a kid, I was taught to basically get a degree that is supposed to land me a great job that I will retire from. I got the degree and I have been constantly chasing a dollar, not really knowing what building wealth entails. I’m learning to show up, operate in excellence, and provide value wherever I am. I’ve been told that if I do this, the money will come in addition to investing and having multiple streams of income.

  7. Budgeting and actually sticking to a budget is important so that you can know where your money is going. Zero-based budgeting helps to designate every single dollar. It is a struggle but I know that it can be done.

  8. Saving for the kid’s future matters. I know that I do not want my daughter to be in the place that I was when I HAD to start working at 15 then figure out ways to generate income in college to stay afloat.

  9. Health should be a priority. I’ve been slacking big time and in the process I’ve gained over 20 pounds and I’m like HOWWW?? By not paying close attention to what I’m eating and when I’m eating... Moreover, it is important to make sure that I have my regular check-ups for myself i.e. OBGYN, optometrist, and dentist. How can you take your kid to her regular appointments and not go yourself? I am doing better this year.

  10. Water is an essential. There are so many benefits but keeping your body hydrated, skin looking flawless, and helping your food digest is major.

  11. A skin care routine is necessary. I’ve finally got my five-minute morning routine down and I’m working on being consistent with the night care routine. It’s a struggle. (If you need help, check out the podcast episode on skin care. So many people reached out to thank me for this topic.) I recently had a mini-facial and the lady told me that I have nice skin but the key to getting it and keeping it flawless is going to be staying consistent with a day and night skin routine and drinking my water.

  12. Learn to ask for what you want PERIOD. People are not mindreaders, therefore it is important to communicate. I don’t know why it is so difficult for me to ask for simple things i.e. for a work laptop because I’m hourly and my employer typically only provides them to salaried employees. I know what you’re thinking.. That’s an easy ask… but guess what? It wasn’t for me. After asking my director and explaining why I needed one, his response was I don’t see why you can’t get one if you are doing x, y, z. That just confirms the saying, “If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.” This applies to everything.. negotiating, opportunities, you get where I’m going with this.

  13. Networking is so important. You never know who is watching you that has the power to bless you. At my most recent conference, I met up with one of the presenters and I had no clue she was an executive director at her company. After talking with her, she offered her business card and told me to email her and she would send me some material to help with my role as well as helping with the certification exam that I am intending to sit for. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet moms on social media and later meet them in-person, which leads to having mom friends that are able to babysit, share advice, have play dates, etc.

  14. Therapy is officially a tool in my toolbox. For so long I didn’t consider it because of growing up with my mom’s mental illness and people calling her crazy. I wish I would’ve started way back when I first became a mom… It’s been so good for me! I feel like I am going to talk to an auntie every other week. It has been one of the best investments ever!

  15. Face-to-face adult interaction is essential without the kid. I just learned this one from my therapist. I thought I was doing good to have adult interaction with the kid. I always bring her everywhere.. from meetings to networking happy hour mixers. My therapist suggested budgeting for at least once a month to get out without the kid. She said I looked overwhelmed when I talked about it and that she could see it in my eyes. She said I know you don’t want to pay the sitter but your sanity is important. I felt like I have been pretty sane but every now and then I will raise my voice or become irritated simply because my daughter is following me around our apartment or constantly saying mommy ever minute… I almost broke down mama during that session. I never realized how much a therapist could tell about you from the way you look to the way you speak.

  16. Sacrifices are sometimes required for growth. As I proceed into this next chapter, I know that finances are a major focus and one of the things I’m doing is downsizing. I’m moving into an even smaller one-bedroom apartment (with a study) from my two-bedroom luxury apartment. Yes. I am giving up the nice black appliances and granite countertops to save and be able to supplement my employer’s contribution for graduate school tuition payments. I feel like student loans are a trap and I did not want to go that route again. I’m still paying on the ones I had in undergraduate school. *sigh*

  17. Investing in yourself is a major key for growth. That includes therapy, coaching, paying for a certification, purchasing a self-help book, attending a course… You name it! Make sure you do your research though. We are living in a digital age right now and so many people are scamming people to make a dollar.

  18. There are some nuances to school ratings. For a while I struggled with the thought of sending my daughter to public school. Then I thought it about… I am either staying in a neighborhood where I can’t really walk to sacrifice and afford private school or I’m staying in a decent area and private school doesn’t fit the budget. I ended up choosing the latter and choosing a school that had a 9/10 rating. While I haven’t been disappointed in the school completely, it hasn’t completely met my expectations. I have learned that the teachers ultimately determine your child’s learning experience even though the school plays a part. So now, I do not worry about the ratings as much but I’ve learned to ask people in the community that have kids that attend or have attended that school when choosing the next area we would live in.

  19. I am my child’s first teacher. She is a reflection of me so it’s very important that I model the behavior that I want to see. This one is a tough one. Back in the day, we were told to “do as I say and not as I do.” I now believe that is unfair. We are supposed to set the examples and be their role models.

  20. Being active in your child’s education is important. Teachers are more likely to respect you and let you know what’s going on with your child when you show up and let them know that you mean business, especially being a black single mom in a predominantly white school. Since I am moving closer to my job this year, I am going to do a better job of showing up at the school. It’s difficult when you have a long commute to show up and go back to work or to take off a whole day off.

  21. There are psychological effects of taking a momcation. I took my first solo trip last year to Colombia and loved it. Momcations allow you have breaks from everyone and everything. It’s different from a group trip because you have the flexibility to go where you want and do what you want. It forces you out of your comfort zone when you desire company to speak to strangers.

  22. I won’t be for everyone and that is totally okay. I’ve learned that I absolutely cannot impact everyone and that my focus needs to be on those that want to hear what I have to say and are striving for greatness just like me.

  23. Social media is powerful. I’ve already talked about how you can network via social media but have you realized how many opportunities are being given through social media alone? It’s mind-blowing! I got my first blog and podcast sponsorships because of social media.

  24. I have the ability to impact. Creating this platform has shown me that God can use me to speak life into other people. So many people have reached out to say that they have created their blog, started a business, paid off their debt, purchased a home, designated family nights for the kids, and so much more. This feeds my soul. I am truly grateful for this opportunity to be able to impact moms, single women, and men (yes there are a few of them that follow the platform) around the world.

  25. You can be present, but not present. Taking time to actually enjoy my daughter without trying to do other things has been challenging but I have done so much better. Do you realize that your child can live with you but you don’t ever spend quality time with them or give them your undivided attention?? I am still working on this one but making a conscious effort to put my phone and/or computer down has been helpful.

  26. Writing things down has so many benefits. You can dump your brain and free up some of your memory capacity. It’s helpful for reflection, especially journaling when you want to go back and see where you were last week, last month, or even last year. Remember, our memory can only hold so much. Writing down goals help bring focus and clarity.

  27. Stop the comparison. I’ve been doing a whole lot better with this. It’s so easy to do this on social media. If I find myself trying to play the comparison game with another mom, I either unfollow or hide her from my timeline. It’s not worth it. Everyone’s situation is different and I have to remember that social media is a highlight reel and most people don’t share what’s really happening behind the scenes.

  28. Continue to make myself a priority. This is probably the most important lesson and I now know that this is bigger than carving out time before the kid gets up in the morning or after she goes to sleep. It’s more about getting to know myself more, doing things that I like to do, and making time for adult-only face-to-face interaction. I don’t think I’ve taken much time to actually “live life” enough. If my cup is empty, how will I pour into my daughter and other people?

    What advice do you have for someone in their late 20s that you wish someone would’ve given you?? Drop it below.

Why I Decided to Find a Therapist as a Single Mom

Why I Decided to Find a Therapist as a Single Mom

I don’t know why it has taken me this long but I’ve finally made the decision and scheduled my very first session. Eeek. I announced that I found a therapist on my InstaStory and so many of you wanted me to document my journey, so here we are. At this point, I feel like an open book. I wanted to share my main reasons for seeking therapy as a single mom, so here we go.

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How to Get Involved in Your Child's Education as a Single Mom

How to Get Involved in Your Child's Education as a Single Mom

So many of us are working moms and do not feel like we have the time to get involved and some of us think that involvement only happens at school. I want to share some ways in which you are able to get involved in your child’s education. Please note: This may require some sacrifice. Your child should not only learn in the classroom, but also outside of the classroom. Learning starts at home. You are your child’s first teacher. How can you teach your child to value their education if you don’t?

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Single Mom Travels Solo in Colombia

Oh my gosh!! I finally went on my very first INTERNATIONAL SOLO TRIP. This is something I’ve always wanted to do but I just never put forth the effort. Just so you know, I have traveled around the US quite a bit alone but I have never ventured outside of the country. Typically, I plan a girls’ trip each year but this time my friends could not go for various reasons. I decided to still move forward with planning a trip, leaving my laptop and daughter behind. When you travel with a group, you have to be mindful that things are much cheaper because you can split the cost. However, I did not let this deter me as I needed the break. I simply decided that I would travel for as less as possible.

If you have never traveled solo before, start with a weekend trip in the US. I encourage everyone to try it at least once! It forces you out of your comfort done especially if you are not a social person.

Colombia Solo Travel

How I chose my destination

I used Skyscanner.com and searched for the cheapest destinations in November leaving from MSY, since it is the closest airport to my grandma’s house, where my daughter would be staying. I wanted to go somewhere warm that had a beach so Mexico and Colombia were at the top of the list for cheap international destinations. I never pay over $500 for an international flight. Just FYI. I went to Tulum, Mexico last year so I decided I would give Colombia a shot. I chose Cartagena since people spent most of their time there and Medellin since it was high on the list of cities to visit in Colombia. I started to compare flights for the dates I wanted with various travel sites such as Kayak, Google Flights, and TravelZoo to name a few.

Click here to listen to the podcast episode about traveling on a budget

What airlines I used for the flights

Spirit Airlines is typically my go-to because of the bare fare. For a while, I wouldn’t give them a shot because of the reputation but I gave them a shot in February of this year and been flying with them every since. The flight was $373 leaving from MSY and arriving in CTG. However, there was an overnight layover in FLL on Saturday, which required me to stay there and a four hour layover on the way back. I had no issues with the flights and they all arrived on time, if not earlier. I only traveled with a personal item so I did not have to pay for a carry-on and I also checked-in online each time so I did not pay for my boarding pass or have issues with any other fees.

Click here to read about my first experience with Spirit

In Colombia, I used Latham & Avianca airlines. Both of these airlines were fine as well. If you don’t speak Spanish, you will have a hard time knowing what the announcements are but it will be fine. Avianca even have tv’s on their plane.

Where I stayed

In Fort Lauderdale, I reserved a private room on AirBnB. It was my very first time reserving a private room so I was kind of afraid but it worked out. The host was very accommodating. The latest check-in was at 11PM and he was kind enough to allow me to check-in at 11:30PM. I stayed in a three-bedroom house and two of the rooms were on AirBnB and we had to share the guest bathroom.

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For my first two nights in Cartagena, I stayed at the Oz Hotel. My stay there was fine for two nights. It was a four-star hotel but I think they should pay more attention to the maintenance there. If you are just looking for a place to lay your head and you know you won’t be there long, this is great for less than $100 a night. The shower was hot and the bed was nice. That was all that mattered to me. The receptionist did not speak much English so beware of that.

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For my two nights in Medellin, I stayed at a cute little studio apartment. The check-in time was 3PM and they would not allow me to check in early. Ugh. However, they did allow me to drop off my luggage. They also had a 24-hour security guard so that was great but he couldn’t speak any English and he’s the one that does check-in. This AirBnB had all of the essentials: water, an iron (thank God!), towels, an extra blanket, and soap. The only issue I had was that after a period of time, the shower’s water would get cool and later would go back to hot. It was annoying but I just learned that I needed to stop trying to take extra long showers there and I was fine.

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For my last night in Cartagena, I stayed at the Conrad. I loved my room! It is a five-star hotel so I was definitely expecting a great experience when I got there even thought I find a deal at $105 per night. Talk about a STEAL! I arrived before check-in and they allowed me to check-in early. However, I had to settle for two queen beds instead of the king sized bed I requested. The view was amazing. The hotel had a beach club that you can go to that’s included and you can get there via a golf cart. I relaxed there for the rest of the day. Beware. The hotel is far (30 mins or so) from the Walled City and they charge $55,000COP (around $17.50 USD) for their taxi to take you there. I didn’t realize this when I booked it so I decided that I would just hang out there once I got there.

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What I did and how much I paid for each activity

It’s easier to share my itinerary. So here it is:

11/17 :

Park at Park N Fly New Orleans for seven days - $90.98

Arrive in Fort Lauderdale via Spirit Airlines: $373.91 roundtrip

Uber to the AirBnb: $16.39

Private room cost: $48.71

11/18:

Uber to the Airport: $13.39

Breakfast - $6.64

Taxi to hotel - $4.25 (Only because I met another solo traveler)

Arrive at hotel - $125.07 for two nights

Eat dinner at Jeno’s Pizza - $9.87 (Don’t judge me - I was tired of walking and finding everything in Spanish. Hahaha)

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Stop at the supermarket for some snacks - $2

11/19:

Taxi to the Walled City - $2.47

Breakfast at Epocoa - $15 (I had an omelet and ORGANIC mimosas :) - they had a special that was 3 mimosas for the price of 2)

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Free Tour - $6 tip

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Arepa on the street/Water - $2

Arepa - $2

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Drinks - $3

Castle - $6

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Water - $1

Taxi to hotel - $3

Taxi back to the Walled City - $1.50

Margarita at a Bar - $6

Their mangoes are green and they sprinkle salt & Pepper on top

Their mangoes are green and they sprinkle salt & Pepper on top

Dinner - $10

Taxi - $1.50 (split)

11/20:

Taxi to airport - $6

Breakfast - $1.50

Travel to Medellin w/Latham Airlines - $53.42

Arrive at AirBnB for two nights - $108.06

Taxi to AirBnB - $15.50 (split with another solo traveler - reg. $23)

Taxi to Pergamino - $2.50

Pergamino coffee/cookie - $2

Lunch/Drink at Hooter’s - $16.66 (Don’t judge. Both my phone and battery pack were dying - I needed somewhere to charge it and I spotted an outlet from passing by)

Uber to the AirBnb - $2.20

Uber to dinner - $3.03

Dinner/Drink at Gato’s - $19

Cab - $2.50

11/21:

Uber to Parque el Poblado - $3

Guatape Tour (a small breakfast and lunch was included) - $26.03

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Fee to climb El Pinol - $6

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Coffee/Cookie - $3

Dinner at OCI.MDE - $17.78

Uber to AirBnB - $3.50

11/22:

Uber to Airport - $25

Breakfast at Burger King - $2.16

Travel back to Cartagena w/Avianca Airlines - $75.22

Stay at the Conrad - $105.07

Lunch/Drinks at the Beach Club - $30

11/23:

Taxi to Walled City - $17.21

Photoshoot via AirBnb Experiences: $55.03 (Yes! AirBnB has experiences)

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Choco Museum - FREE entry

Souvenir shopping - $90 ($25 was spent at the Choco Museum on Cocoa Butter and Chocolate - The rest was spent on coffee, magnets, a shot glass, and tees)

Lunch at the airport - $7

Dinner at the airport - $12.97

Recap of the costs

Flight to/from CTG (Cartagena): $373.91

Flight to/from MDE (Medellin): $128.64

Accommodations: $386.91

Approximate total trip cost including all flights, accommodations, activities, and spending: $1436.55 excluding gas from driving to and from Houston

Final thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed this trip but I believe I should’ve just done one city (Cartagena) because of the time lost during the flights. I’m glad I didn’t let the travel advisory or other’s bad experiences to influence my decision. I met other solo travelers at the airports and on the tours and I didn’t feel that my safety was being compromised at any time! It’s just like being aware of your surroundings when you are anywhere else! Google Translate, Google Maps, and Waze saved me. Very few people speak English and I had to know where I was going. I had lots of time for self-care (sitting in silence, reading, and reflecting). I’m sad I did not get to go to Rosario Islands, Playa Blanca, or any of the beautiful beaches I read about. I simply ran out of time. Sigh. Wi-fi is not available everywhere so I ended up getting an International Pay-as-you Go Plan through AT&T, my cellphone carrier, at $10 per day that included unlimited calling, texting, and use of your data plan. It was definitely worth it for those places that did not have wi-fi. A lot of solo travelers did not worry about their phones but they could also speak some Spanish. I was struggling with basic Spanish. I heard that there was also an option to purchase a SIM card and get a plan there. As for photos, I asked the other solo travelers I met or the tour guides.

The taxi drivers will try and rip you off because there is no meter in Cartagena so be aware of that. Also, ask the cost of the ride before you hop in. I had a slight issue with a taxi driver because of this. In Medellin, the taxis are metered and it’s easier to use Uber there. However, they say Uber is illegal so it’s best that you sit in the front seat if you decide to use it. Also, Uber charges a few cents for their foreign transaction fee and you have to deal with surges in price. There’s also an app that useful in Medellin called EasyTaxi. I used it as well. Wi-Fi is at most places in Medellin. It seems to resemble the US more than Cartagena.

If you are wondering how I afford a trip as such, each year I typically take $1000 out of my income tax and put it in a savings account (I call it my travel fund) and I figure out how much more I need and save that per check. So in this case, I needed $436.55. Saving $50 a check or $100 a month allowed me to save up the rest. Just save how much you can until you have enough to book your flight (especially if you find a good deal because prices can fluctuate hourly), your hotel, and activities.

Click here to listen to the podcast about saving for travel

Right now, Chase Bank is giving you up to $350 to open a new savings or checking account!!

Click here to open your account and get some free coins

You know you could use them for the holidays or to put towards your solo trip!

I hope this helps you with your solo trip planning! Let me know below if you are thinking about taking a solo trip, or if you have done one let me know where you have been and where you want to go! Also, be on the lookout for the podcast where I will actually talk about my experience more in depth.

Click here to sign up and get $40 off your AirBnb over $75 or $15 off an experience that’s $50 or more

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