travelling in time and space

A store with live fish for sale

A store with live fish for sale. Vicinity of Natchitoches, Louisiana, July 1940. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

As much as I enjoy travel I’ve always longed for the possibility of living in the ancient times from old photographs.

I felt to be more a part of that older reality from the beginnings or mid 20th century than a member of the society we live in now, with its brilliant innovations as well as extensive bureaucracy.

I’ve always wanted to travel in time and experience first hand  the freedoms our grandparents enjoyed. My nostalgic feelings covered any miseries and limitations of that life back then like a clean tablecloth.

More and more, however, I see today in the world I live in and the places I visit is how much freedom and beauty is still left at our disposal.

What does the trick for me is my imagination that seems to have gone to sleep soon after I became and adult. It’s waking up covered in dust and faded a bit but still colourful and agile.

enticing third world city suburbs

Suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa

Suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa

I used to be unable to explain my fascination with such dirty and poverty stricken places. People who live in ghettos like the one above by no means can boast comfortable lives.

Most modern western world city suburbs are made of housing estates with identical or very similar buildings evenly spaced and painted in matching colours.

Third world suburbs have the atmosphere of uniqueness about them. You almost feel the mixture of happiness and bitterness that these places are made of.

I quite like the idea of living in a house built with my own hands from whatever is available for free and then being able to change, adjust and improve it. It’s like being a child all your life.

Consumerism and Wealth Cumulation

I’ve been controlling our spendings quite closely for the past few months. You may say about 6 months ago I went through my financial awakening. At the moment I have a much better understanding of what my assets are and how much wealth I’ve accumulated. The fact my finances are under control makes me feel much better and inspires me to do many things I didn’t think of doing before. I am much more motivated to think creatively more often and take pleasure in finding solutions that avoid spending money at all or at least save me a fair amount.

The reason I looking closely at my finances was because me and my girlfriend were getting more and more into debt and had no plan of paying it all back. A few simple steps helped us pay back around £2000 credit card balance within 4 months. I’m proud of this even more because this happened towards the end of the year and beginning of 2010 so Christmas time when we had to buy gifts and pay for my travel expenses.

When I read financial advice blogs most give the same advice to pay back your debts, save for emergency fund, control your spending and take advantage of compound interest. These come in varying orders but in general they are mostly the same. What very few of them mention is what is the purpose of this tactics and as some of them suggest that you may become wealthy at some point they fail to mention what you do with this accumulated wealth and all the assets.

I guess some of these people are trying to save enough for retirement. Which is probably a very good idea knowing that your health may be failing you by that time and you may no longer be able to work. But is this it?

This guy managed to become financially independent at the age of 30. This is so cool and I can’t help to think it must feel great not to be forced to go to work every day. Which is a quite an achievement.

But I can’t help to think “what if”. I keep asking myself what am I going to do once I’ve accumulated enough assets to be able to quit my job.

– What if my assets lose they’re value suddenly?

– What if I’m unable to enjoy the value of my assets for whatever reason?

– What if aliens invade the earth?

These questions make me feel the whole idea of wealth accumulation is flawed. I mean it’s OK as long as everything is fine. But if something goes wrong globally you’re as fucked as everybody else. You may say this applies equally to those who have accumulated lots of assets and those who haven’t so what’s the problem? Well, the problem for me is I’d rather enjoy living my short life before something bad happens either to myself or to all of us. I know I’m a fatalist :D.

Let’s think about the world’s economy for a while and how it functions. The global village is growing in strength. Despite the credit crunch we still seem to be doing quite well thanks to the global interconnections. If one place is short of corn it can be easily delivered via plane. So places where nothing is produced may be abundant within the next few years. They will be full of people whose only skills are related to administration of goods and funds while the production is taken care of in other less developed locations. If for any reason transportation of goods becomes impossible these people will be in big trouble – you can’t feed on money!

In my opinion the world economy is in a highly deregulated state at the moment. We rely on so many factors to sustain our lives at the moment such as energy and food supplies it is fairly easy to imagine the whole population can be controlled by suppliers of products we rely on to live.

To me financial independence is an illusion. You are only financially free while living in a society that can only survive as long as the economy keeps growing. Once it starts to decline the results will be fatal.

The answer to this for me is self sustainability i.e. a state in which you can rely solely on your own skills to survive. Unfortunately, I’m very far from that at the moment. Being stable financially is still an important goal for me. But let’s not forget money isn’t everything and remember to live our lives while living within our means.

Ryanair Press Release Analysis

Yesterday, I accidentally opened the Ryanair page and found they were offering £2 one way tickets for journeys in November through to March. The tickets went really quick and by the time I got home there weren’t any left for the routes I was interested in.

I started to dig around to see how come I missed this great offer. Even though I’m subscribed to Ryanair’s newsletter I got no heads-up for it. I checked on their Press Release page but there was nothing on it either.

So it’s not just me. 66 million Ryanair passengers, some of whom are surely subscribed to the newsletter and others who check their PR website regularly didn’t know of the sell-out. Why?

The only reasonable explanation I can offer is that it’s one of Ryanair’s marketing tactics. News spread quicker by word of mouth then via any press releases, newsletters or any other marketing campaigns. Moreover, it’s reaaaaaaaally cheap.

I continued to wonder how this may work. Surely, Michael O’leary isn’t going to make it easy for us to figure out when he’s planning the next sale.

I went through all Ryanair’s special offers press releases and put their dates on a Google Calendar.

So I went ahead and analysed the press release calendar pattern quickly. Here’s what I found:

Ryanair Press Release Analysis

Ryanair Press Release Analysis

Almost 60% of all Ryanair special offer announcements were made on a Monday or Tuesday, with just over 20% made on a Thursday. They have never made any announcements on a Saturday, Wednesdays and Sundays being the least popular days when nearly 10% of their announcements were made.

The period analysed was between February 2007 and November 2009 as their announcements don’t go any further than the beginning of 2007.

Very interesting is the immense growth of press release popularity in the second half of this year when almost 60% of all special offer announcements were made – 34 out of 58.

The press release pattern seams very erratic. Some of the offers were prompted by bad publicity, e.g. ‘Ryanair gives away 1.1m FREE seats BBCPanorama lies’ (O’leary beautifully manipulated the whole Panorama crew who did publish his interview on their website).

Right, so what are we gonna do with the findings? There are a few tips we could bear in mind:

– don’t wait for the newsletter to announce any big sales

– they’ll come unexpectedly on Monday or Tuesday

– if not check on a Thursday

– you’re safe to go for a pint on a Friday because there will be no announcements on a Saturday

– Sundays should be quiet too, with only a handful of less important announcements made

Finally, judging from the popularity of the offers yesterday if there will be a sale tickets will go within a few hours. So be prepared to buy when the time comes.

I’d love to be able to provide any alternative analyses of this type but unfortunately weren’t able to find any. Looks like Ryanair’s not very popular with academics.

Anyway, hope this helps a little bit. Keep your eyes open and let me know if you spot any trends. And any big sales of course!

10 Easy Steps to Prepare for the Trip of Your Life

Fear is the only thing that stops us from what we want to do. You may call it conscience, pride, love, responsibility but underneath all of this is our fear of moving on to something that we have never done before. Fear of travel like any phobia may be cured. Here’s a few things that may inspire you.

I. Ask, and it shall be given you

World’s not as bad as it seems. Most societies function on the basis of trust and respect. People do help one another most of the time. It is true you may encounter something not exactly nice abroad but the same may happen at home. I moved several times in my life and after moving to the new place I was always surprised by how nice people were in this new place. After a couple of years it turns out they’re just normal. Just like in the previous place. The truth is, though, positive attitude is contagious and if you’re acting naturally people you meet will reciprocate it. If you need something remember to try and ask for it. You may not get it the first time around and you will not get it all the time, but people will help you most of the time

II. Have a plan

I’m planning on leaving my job in two years. Me and my girlfriend are saving aggressively to put away enough to travel for at least one year. After that we’ll find jobs again and decide if we wan’t to travel again or stay in our cosy dwelling.

III. Tell your friends

This one’s really cunning. Some people think you shouldn’t tell your friends about your plans because they’ll find millions of ways to stop you. I believe people in general do have a tendency see your plans in black colours. This may be depressing sometimes but at least you’ll get ideas on how to prepare. Just don’t give up because of any generic advice like ‘it’s impossible’ or ‘nobody else do it’ these can be dismissed with simple ‘it’s possible because there are people who did it’. Look for valid positive and negative points. Enjoy the positives and work out ways to overcome any negatives.

IV. Go for shorter trips first

Take a couple of months or even a few weeks off at work. Plan your budget, your route and style of travel. Think of where you’re going to sleep, wash and eat. If you’re planning to spend most of the nights in a tent, make sure you have the right gear, i.e. appropriate sleeping bag and tent. Do everything that you want to do for the trip of your life. Then go back home and check how to make your travel more efficient, more fun, safer, cheaper and more convenient. You’ll be surprised to know how many other people had done that kind of thing before.

V. Learn to save

The more you save during your trips the longer your trip will last. Frugal lifestyle can be learned. Unless your parents are millionaires and want to share their fortune with you, you’ll need to know how to make use of every single penny in your pocket. Start at home, think of ways you can save. Aim at saving aggressively as this is precisely what you’ll need to do. Try to estimate how much you’d be saving a month and how quickly you’ll save enough to start your trip. Then go to the financial planning section on Stumble Upon and look for further ideas on how to save. You’ll be surprised at how inspiring this is. There are some unbelievable ideas on how to save.

VI. Practice DIY

Do-it-yourself skills are helpful no matter if you want to travel or not. They teach creativity and self efficiency. Being able to do something with your own hands gives you a boos of positive energy. You can use your DIY skills to save money for your trip e.g. fix furniture, leaks, electric appliances thus saving on repairs and maintenance costs; also you can prolong the life of your home appliances and won’t have to spend money on buying new ones. You can use these skills as a source of additional income.

VII. Sell stuff you don’t need

Sell everything you no longer use, pay back your credit cards and then destroy them. You’ll unclutter your house, get some more money for your trip and make other people happy.

VIII. Avoid buying

You have to buy food and pay your bills which you can hardly avoid. But buying all the expensive travel gear is just a waste of money. Unless you’re going to a specific region in the world where particular type of gear is required to survive, you’ll not need any of the fancy stuff advertised on Amazon. Most of the ‘professional’ travel stuff is overpriced and simply unnecessary. When backpacking, you’ll learn there’s reallyfew things that you really need:

1. intelligence – is your best friend. It’ll help you make important decisions and react to unexpected circumstances. It’ll help you make do with what you’ve got.

2. knife – traditionally, indispensable traveller’s tool. If you can’t carry a knife through airport security checks, buy a cheap one after arrival. You’ll not need anything fancy. A knife is a knife unless you’re a Rambo.

3. tent and sleeping bags – these items can add to your feeling of freedom and save you quite a lot of money. Check out urban camping on Stumble Upon to get an idea on how to use your tent in the urban jungle. Besides, camp-sites are usually much cheaper in cities and have a shower. It’s important to shower when you travel!

4. money money’s always handy. Play cards or pool to win even more! Alternatively, use it to buy food.

IX. Get second, third or fourth job

The closer you get to your departure the easier it will be to work hard. Save as much money as you can. Plus, getting additional jobs will teach you new skills you can use during your trips or to get a job after you come back.

X. Be positive

If travelling is really what you wan’t to do think of the 9 billion people there are in the world. Almost everybody love to travel. Most of these people will help you live your dream.

8 Ways to Get Cheap Ryanair Flights

Some travellers hate Ryanair for it’s user unfriendly policies, poor customer support and millions of other things. I travel often and it’s not usual for me to fly 5 times a year. That’s at least 10 flights each year. I’ve learned to travel as cheap as possible with Ryanair. Although they do have cheapest fares on all of their European routes, they often charge for

Ryanair

If you love it like I do, here’s 10 ways to enjoy your trips even more.

Our cheapest fares are available, on www.ryanair.com, for passengers who travel at off peak times (after 12.00 Monday to 12.00 Thursday and after 12.00 on a Saturday). Our lowest fares generally require an advance purchase of 14 days; however this can vary up to 28 days. Passengers can search for our lowest fares by checking the flexible search option box when selecting your departure and destination airport.

1. Don’t pay for baggage

I can’t  stress enough how important it is for me to travel light. One bag is all I need. Travelling with Ryanair you’ll need to pay for any item of luggage apart from your hand luggage. I’ve referenced One Bag a lot of times on this blog. It may not work the first time but eventually you’ll become a one-bag master. It takes a little thought, planning and patience. But it pays well. Both me and my girlfriend have travelled light for the past year. It gives you freedom, lets you enjoy your holiday even more and it’s cheaper.

If you buy 5 round trip tickets a year,  you’ll save £300 as opposed to anyone usually travelling with one item of checked bag and a staggering £1000 in comparison to those usually taking 2 suitcases. £300 means at least one more round trip for me and my girlfriend. Alternatively, you can spend this money on high quality lightweight clothes that will keep you warm and will dry quickly.

2. Don’t pay for insurance

If you travel often get an annual travel insurance that will cost about 15 pounds. Again, you’ll save about £45 on 5 round trips and can chose the cover that suits you best.

3. Don’t pay for priority boarding

Don't pay for priority boarding

Don't pay for priority boarding

 

 

 

Theoretically, all passengers could buy priority boarding and would all be standing in the same queue. It’s 8 pounds per return trip = 4 pints!

4. Don’t pay for anything on board

Raffle tickets, coke and smoke-free cigarettes are all great fun and help fund the cheap tickets. Thank you guys 🙂

 

Don't buy anything on board

Don't buy anything on board

 

 

5. Don’t pay credit card charges

Ryanair charges ridiculous amounts for all credit and debit cards apart from Visa Electron. Here’s more on how to obtain one.

6. Keep an eye out on offers

Ryanair’s special offers website is useful sometimes but I prefer Skyscanner.net. You’ll have to buy directly via Ryanair’s website anyway. But their search engine really gives you the best overview of the cheap flight offers. If you’re really determined you can experiment with various destinations and connecting flights combinations. Don’t forget to check out the guide to Sleeping in Airports. Sleeping in an airport may not sound like an great idea but it can help take prices of your tickets really low.

Remember to check other airlines for better access to cities. Ryanair’s strategy is to minimize costs by flying to unpopular remote airports.

7. Booking techniques

Booking in advance is usually the best way of ensuring you’ll get your tickets at a reasonable price. Prices may go up nearer to the departure but they also may go down. Ryanair’s sell outs are usually 2 weeks prior to the departure which ideal for last minute fans.

Also tickets tend to be least expensive in November, January and June. Yes, June is the beginning of the holiday season, this is when days are longest and weather is reasonably good. For some regions like the Mediterranean, Spain and France it’ll probably be too hot anyway for those used to the weather on the Isles.

8. Check your destination

Before paying for your £10 return check how easy and cheap it’ll be to reach your final destination. Ryanair prefers low budget small and remote airports that charge little and are unpopular with other airlines. Some of their flights arrive late at night when there is no other transport available. And a 50 mile ride in a cab is expensive everywhere in the world. Always sum up the cost of your flight and airport transport before you buy any tickets. It may be cheaper to pay more for air travel.