The Phantom Card The most important credit card you'll never have

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, girls and girls, girls and older men, older men and boys, boys and boys, welcome to the phantom guide. This is for credit card that doesn’t exist. Because it doesn’t exist, it can never be destroyed, stolen, mutilated, coveted, or prized away from you on some kind of filthy subway system, or lifted, or jacked, or thieved, or any other such malice that could cause it to no longer be in your possession. Thus it will be the most important card you ever (don’t) own. It will be immortal in that it will exist forever, or at least as long as the expiration date. Formless and beautiful.

If you read yesterday’s blog entry, you’ll remember that yesterday I found out some slimy thieves in Florida (though actually they’re probably not in Florida) tried to use my debit card, which means now my debit card is blocked, which means I have to use my backup card, from Homestreet Bank on Bainbridge Island, which is actually not a half-bad backup card at that. This is the first time I’ve traveled with two debit cards. I’ve always traveled with a debit card and a credit card. And actually I’m sort of traveling with a credit card, though not the actual physical card. I’m traveling with the phantom card.

Imagine the following happens to you: You’re walking along the street in Paris, smoking a cigarette and thinking about what charming jazz club you’ll frequent that night, when a man steps out of the shadows and hits you over the head with an oven mitt full of quarters, takes your wallet, and then runs off back into the shadows. You wake, confused, and smoke a cigarette to calm down. You have 20 euros back at the hotel you put in your backpack because you didn’t deem it necessary to be walking around with so much cash. But other than that you now have no plastic. Your debit and credit card were in that wallet. You have no back up.

Or do you (not)?

You then remember you’re a cunning weasel, almost as cunning as the brute that just kissed the side of your head with an article of clothing filled with monies, and that everything should (and quite possibly could) be OK. In fact, in today’s electronic, peer2peer economy, you might not even a difference.

You call Charles Schwab and they agree to send you a replacement card on the double (see: triple). In the meantime you figure you can do the following: Because you have all the information from your phantom card — number, expiration date, security code — squirreled away on a sheet of paper or maybe just in your brain (the actual code is in a safe location far way), you can still make Airbnb reservations and thus have a place to stay. You can also take Ubers because your phantom card information is already in the Uber app. You can even eat, because with all the food delivery services you can just order food via an app and have it delivered right to your Airbnb door, while you stand out front talking to the Uber driver. Everything is peer2peer. We’re all sharing. We’re all in this together. In the year 2050 you’ll get in your car to drive your kids to school and someone will hop in the back seat and say, “Mets Stadium, please,” and even though you’ll have no idea what he’s talking about, you’ll think, Ahhh, I must be an Uber driver now. Or something. Peer2peer everything. Individuality is dead. You will then drive to your nearest bakery, take a picture of an almond croissant to show everyone what you ate, upload it to Instagram, and throw it in the garbage.

The point is that to be a successful traveler in today’s dog sniff dog world you must have a card in your repertoire that’s not actually in your repertoire; in other words, a card whose number and expiration date and security code you have so that you can use it to buy things online and on your phone in the case of an emergency or even non-emergencies.

I recommend the Chase Freedom card, because it has no interest for the first 15 months, which means you can rack up all the debt your little heart desires — your “phantom debt” — until, one day, it becomes all too real, at which point you’ll experience phantom sadness, phantom anxiety, and possibly even phantom trouble with the law, or at least a collections agency. But why dwell on something that may never happen? Didn’t Montaigne say, “I lived many a great tragedy in my life, most of which never happened?” Yes, of course he did. In other words: out of sight, out of mind. Just like your new card.

Spring Break Svalbard! Or, the longest flight in the world

How much would it cost to fly between the furthest south airport in the world and the furthest north? How long would it take?

This was what I was thinking about as I lay in bed last night, in only my boxers, attempting to escape the Guadalajara heat.

But of course I couldn’t just let this question fester.

So I got to work.

ushuaia to svalbard

Too long to fit on Google Flights’ maps.

Our adventure starts on May 19th of this year in the wonderful South American city of Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Ushuaia is known, amongst other things, as the furthest south city in the world. Technically, Puerto Williams, Chile might be further south, but technically Puerto Williams might not be a city.

From Ushuaia we get on a $170 flight to Buenos Aires, where we stay a few days, dance a little tango, drink a little (we get mildly drunk) wine, and have dinner at 11pm, because that’s apparently the earliest it’s sociably acceptable to eat dinner in Buenos Aires on a weekend.

Now we need to get to Europe. So, we board a non-stop (!) flight from Buenos Aires to London, operated by Norwegian Air UK, on May 22nd, for just $574.

buenos aires to london norwegian

We’re getting close.

Fortunately, we only have one night in London. I say fortunately because London is expensive, and probably rainy. The very next day after arriving from Buenos Aires we get on this gorgeous, sleek flight from Heathrow to Svalbard with a sumptuous layover in Oslo, i.e, nine hours, i.e. long enough to walk to the gas station and get a hot dog, before heading to the Spring Break capital of Norway: Svalbard.

london to svalbard SAS

At 78 degrees north, Svalbard is one of the furthest north inhabited places in the world, and definitely one of the most accessible. It boasts the furthest north commercially accessible airport in the world, no work visa requirements for American citizens (as per the Treaty of Spitsbergen), and for having a law in which you must take a rifle along when leaving the city limits in case of polar bears. How many other cities do you know what have this rule? Exactly. Grab your bikini.

The total price for this jaunt, between the furthest south airport in the world and the furthest north, using the route I found last night, would be just over $900. If you bought the tickets all at once together it would cost over $2,000.

So again, grab your bikini, because: Spring break Svalbard!

 

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Brazil Visa Now Way Easier to Get The River of January awaits

brazil

As if you needed another reason to go.

The Brazilian government has recently said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Hey, remember how our visa used to be super annoying (you had to get it before leaving the country) and also super expensive? Well, we decided that was lame, so now instead of charging $200 we’re only gonna charge $40. Oh, and also: You can get it online. What do you guys think?”

To which any of us in our right minds responded: Shit yes, how many sick days can I take this year?

Having to get the visa beforehand and also the price are the two things that’ve prevented me from going to Brazil all these years. I did go for one night during the 2016 Olympics, when the visa requirement was briefly waived. I crossed the border from Uruguay to a place called Jaguarao, where I stayed a few nights illegally, waiting for the veritable free-for-all the would be the lifting of the visa requirement. Actually, this didn’t happen (the free-for-all). In fact, the border control guys looked confused at first, but then the guy in charge reminded them that it was open season for foot-loose and fancy free Americans, and they stamped my passport and let me through.

(The best part of my time in Brazil was by far the bus ride to a city called Pelotas where I met two Mormon missionaries who sort of tried to convert me, to which I said, “Let the conversion begin.” But then, if I remember correctly, we couldn’t go into the center where they lived/worked because there had to be a man present and there was no one around. So I ended up getting the next bus out of there.

The second best part of the trip was seeing massive capybara alongside the road on the bus back to Uruguay the very next day).

“Why have you not tried feijoada yet?”

Why would you want to go to Brazil? Sorry to answer a question with a question, but: Have you tried feijoada? Have you listened to spoken Brazilian Portuguese? Have you seen the white-sand beaches with warm and only in some places (massively) polluted water? Have you seen pictures of Fernando de Noronha, the island paradise I, with the statue of Christ the Redeemer as my witness, will one day visit?

If you’re ready to take advantage of this thrice in a lifetime opportunity, the first step is to visit this website from Brazil Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You DO NOT need to go through an agency to get the visa. You DO NOT need help getting it. You can do it all through this website via the online form. The visa fee is $40, plus $4.24 in processing fees, for a total of $44.24. It’s good for 90 days.

The newfound ease in getting the Brazil visa might represent a general trend in ease of travel for US passport holders in South America. Argentina lifted their (once $160) reciprocity fee in March of 2016, as has Chile, though it still exists for Bolivia ($160), and Paraguay ($160).

The change from $200 to $44 is not insignificant, but the ease is even more attractive. Now, there’s no reason for anyone of us not to have a brief but terrifying encounter with a pitviper in the next few months. Or at the very least stroll the beaches of Copacabana and consume a heaping plate of feijoada.

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How to Get From Mexico to Chile for Cheap

near villa rica, chile

What’s the cheapest way to get from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Chile? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately.

A quick search on Google Flights tells I could fly from Guadalajara, Mexico to Valdivia, Chile (because I don’t want to go to Santiago, I want to go south) for a casual $839 dollars. But I don’t have $839. I’m not an oil magnate. I’m not a sheik. And besides, I bet I could do it cheaper….

Dear God.

So I do another search, this time using Google Flight’s wonderful map view, and see I could get from Guadalajara to Lima, Peru, for $154 dollars on April 11th. This is a much better price, since flying from North America to anywhere south of the equator is notoriously expensive. $154 dollars is a steal.

Hooray.

But Lima isn’t exactly Chile. In fact, if you wanted to take a bus from Lima to Chile, you’re looking at about an 18-hour bus ride. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a bus for 18 hours before. I have. Several times. And let me tell you…..it’s actually kind of fun (see: awful).

And even if you took a bus from Lima to Chile you’d only be in northern Chile, and still another 24-hour, $70 hell ride from Santiago (and another 10-hour bus ride from Valdivia, or, where it starts to get green). Luckily, that’s where Sky Airline comes in.

So many hours of desert travel saved by a mere $113.

Sky Airline is wonderful, mostly because they refuse to have an “s” in their name. It’s not “Sky Airlines.” It’s unapologetically “airline.”

Anyway, now we’ve made it to Santiago. We’re in Chile!!! But we want to get further south. We want to get where the landscape starts reminding us of Washington State. Where they’re blackberries and sea lions and salmon. Again, Sky Airline is critical:

After one night in SCL, we hop on this beauty of a flight from Santiago to Valdivia. Valdivia is one of the most beautiful cities in Chile. It’s a university town. It’s on a river. There’s a market everyday next to the river and sea lions and fresh cherries and pretty much everything else you could want in life. And from Valdivia it’s a relatively short bus ride to Puerto Montt, the northern tip of Patagonia, and the fairytale that Patagonia promises.

If you’ve ever wondered how I spend my time, this post might give you a good idea. I love solving conundrums like these, and even better, following through and carrying them out. But whether or not this trip will happen remains to be seen. I’ve still got a little soul searching to do here in Guadalajara first.

5 Travel Websites I Sometimes Read

travel websites

“Philosophy calls for simple living, not for doing penance, and the simple way of life need not be a crude one.”
― Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

I don’t really read travel websites. Which is a little unreasonable, because I want everyone to read mine. When I do look at travel sites, they’re usually centered around things I want: Like cheap or free flights. The problem with travel blogs is every time I look at them I experience waves of professional (amateur) jealousy. How does this person have so much traffic? How is this person doing so well? Why isn’t my blog doing so well?

1) Nomadic Matt

I mostly look at this site as a template for how to make mine. This guy is huge. He’s achieved what some might call the holy grail of travel blogging, i.e. earning enough from his blog that he’s able to go wherever he wants, whenever he wants, and document it. There’s a common theme in the most successful travel blogs: The people all have their name in the URL somewhere. Was changing from Whereswetzler.com to Ordinarynomad.com a massive mistake???

2) The Points Guy

Just look at this sample article I found on the home page. Look at this luxury. This opulence. God, how I want to fly first class like that. This guy has a whole apartment on a plane to himself. Why is it that if you were confined to a compartment like this on a the ground it would instantly be devoid of meaning, but at 35,000 feet it’s somehow the coolest thing in the world? Some mysteries are better left untouched.

3) One Mile at a Time

This is my favorite points website, A) because I think the content is great, and B) because the guy’s from Seattle. I do find it a little dubious he calls himself “Lucky.” What kind of adult calls himself Lucky? Is he a ranch hand? A craps dealer?

I had an interaction with this guy a few years back when I sent him an email asking if I could review Aerolineas Argentinas’ first class for his site. He explained that he wasn’t looking for guest bloggers at the moment, and was kind and professional in his email. Which made me even more of a fan.

4) Roads & Kingdoms

The main reason I check this site out from time to time is I’ve had work featured on it (see: buried). I’ve tried to submit a few feature articles, but they’ve always rejected me saying the pieces are too “personal narrative.” I try to explain that the only person I care about is myself, and thus am only capable of writing about myself, but to no avail.

5) Vice Travel

Very little beats Vice in terms of edgy, unique content. I don’t go to Vice specifically seeking travel content, but when I see something travel-related from them I often check it out. The Vice North Korea documentary is still one of my favorite travel documentaries. Someday I’d like to have something published for this site. I’ve submitted several pieces, but never gotten a response. Sest la vee.

Honorable mention: Scott’s Cheap Flights

I don’t have a subscription to this site, but friends often send me deals. And there have been crazy deals. The last one I saw was for a $300 round trip flights from the US to New Zealand. I have no idea how that’s even possible.

I applied for two jobs at this company and got turned down for both of them. Apparently spending half your waking hours hunched over your computer muttering to yourself and looking at Google Flights doesn’t cut it. Oh well.

How to Drive More Traffic to Your Travel Blog

The title of this blog post is a bit of a misnomer, because I don’t actually know how to drive more traffic to your travel blog. That’s why I’m writing this post, to hopefully get your help driving traffic to my travel blog, and also expound on the ways I’ve tried to do it in the past (without much success).

Here are some methods I’ve tried:

1) Facebook

Facebook is the easiest way to drive traffic to your blog, especially if you have a lot of “friends.” Note that I don’t have a lot of “friends” on Facebook, because I eliminated my account from 2009 to 2015 and thus my “friend” count, compared to a lot of my “friends,” is stunted. The good thing about Facebook is that you don’t have to feel bad about self-promotion. All Facebook is is self-promotion. People say Facebook is about community, about sharing stuff, but really all it is is each one of us throwing our proverbial pebbles in the proverbial pond, trying to get people to notice us. It’s wretched; I use it everyday.

2) Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter

Again, if you have a lot of “followers” or a lot of “contacts” or “friends,” these can be great methods. I personally don’t have a huge “presence” on any of these “sites.” But they’re good for the occasional grass roots marketing campaign, the occasional publicity.

3) Reddit

Spamming Reddit from time to time is a great way to generate short-term traffic spikes. My biggest ever traffic day on Where’s Wetzler came when I spammed a Seattle subreddit and got something like 500 views. Which is a bit annoying, because 500 views is not a lot. I got a message from the coordinator of that group saying that my post was in violation of their group rules. God, how I wanted to send her some kind of diatribe saying what a loser she was for caring about something like that, for devoting even a shred of her neuron power to such a meaningless issue. But then again that would’ve basically been like calling myself a loser.

4) Facebook Ads??????

The question marks are because I’m pretty sure this might be a decent way to generate traffic — and apparently not that expensive — but I’ve never tried it and thus don’t know. At some point I’ll have to ask myself why I’m so hellbent on generating traffic, though I already know the answer. To make money. To feel good about myself. To feel validated. Imagine if I ran a travel blog that got 10,000 unique views a day. First of all, that would generate a lot of revenue on Google AdSense and Patreon and PayPal, and also it would just make me feel good. It would make me feel like I was something. Would this feeling be entirely empty and probably just cause more blackness in my life? Obviously. Is this kind of validation the thing that every ancient sage said to strictly avoid seeking? Obviously. But I need to know for myself. And thus for now I will continue to seek it.

Friends, if you know any other ways to slam traffic into this blog like an out of control semi on a steep mountain road careening toward a barrier, let me know. You can email me. You can write something in the comments. You could even say, “Hey, Mark, I know how to do stuff in the header of your blog, like scripts and stuff like that, SEO stuff, and if you give me your login info I’ll do it for you.”

Until then, I’ll keep doing what I’ve always been doing, letting my fingers flit away, and posting passive aggressive messages on Facebook. If it’s not working, you’re not trying hard enough.

 

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10 Nomad Essentials

nomad tools

For the longest time I never had a head lamp. I’d use my phone. Whenever I borrowed people’s headlamps I thought, Wow, this is a revelation. Everywhere I look there’s light. But then I saw them wearing the head lamps and I thought, Man this is a revelation. They look so stupid. Plus, I can just use the flashlight on my phone. So I never bought one.

Some of the other things on this list took me a long time to figure out, for example, the Charles Schwab debit card. For years I used Bank of America, and each time I took out money in a foreign country paid a) $5 for each transaction PLUS (!) the fee the local bank charged, and b) 3% on the amount withdrawn. You don’t have to be a master of linear equations to realize this adds up.

This is a list that’s been 14 years in the making. It’s the top 10 nomad essentials, 10 items every nomad must have.

1) Laptop

The value of my laptop has become more apparent lately. It’s where I earn the bulk of my money, whether it be rating Instagram ads for Appen, writing blogs, or teaching English classes online. Which means I should probably buy a case for it, since right now my case consists of wrapping it in a merino wool long-sleeve shirt. But here’s what I figure: A thief sees it and thinks it’s just a tattered shirt, and not actually a MacBook Pro and also the most valuable thing I own.

The cunning.

2) Unblocked Cell Phone w/ good camera

Since since I now work on my phone (Instagram job), it has also become essential. Although it was also essential before, because it was my only means of taking photos and/or videos. The reason I say “unlocked” is because you want to be able to use it in different countries. Another option is some kind of international data plan. Or do like my friend Gilbert does: He uses Project Fi from Google. It works in 135 countries and data costs the same as it does at home. You have free access to over a million Wi-Fi hotspots. I don’t know why I haven’t done this myself, actually. I think it’s because I wish I were a luddite and hate my phone and want it to fall in the toilet.

3) Front Loader Backpack

Unless you’re German or Swiss or living in the bronze age, the days of the top loader backpack are over. The top loader backpack (where you load things through the top as opposed to a front loader which, when horizontal, opens much like a duffle bag), is one of the worst travel decisions you can make. In fact, if you’re going to travel the world with a top loader backpack, you might as well stay at home. Like I said, people with top loader backpacks nowadays are almost invariably German, and almost invariably sunburnt/confused. You see them stroll into some coastal town in Costa Rica where they’ll proceed to instantly pay too much for everything, drink 50 beers, lose their wallets and the next day complain how shitty the town is.

From a cursory glance at Amazon I found this beauty from Gregory Mountain Products. It’s got a 40 liter capacity, which is key: It’s not too big. You don’t want too big. Too big makes you look like a tourist. Too big makes you look German. Too big makes you look like someone it would be good to rob.

4) Head Lamp

Like I said, it took me awhile to realize the beauty and practicality of a head lamp. Mostly, they’re good for reading. I like to read before I go to sleep, and if you’re camping or in a hostel there’s a good chance you won’t have light by which to read. I need my Knausgaard before I go to sleep. I need my Bolaño. I use this one from Black Diamond. It’s cheap, sturdy, and works great.

5) Charles Schwab Debit Card

This is number five, but if the numbers in this post meant anything, it would be number one. This is the single best item any modern-day nomad can have. It’s saved me much money, but more importantly, contributed to much peace of mind. No more having to find a bank that partners with your bank to avoid fees. No more having to worry about how much your fees are eating into your trip budget. No more need to worry about anything (at least when it comes to getting $$$). Not only does this card not have foreign transaction fees or charge ATM fees, THEY WILL REFUND YOU any ATM fee you’re ever charged, anywhere in the world. The importance of this cannot be overstated, but it can be stated. Which is what I’m doing here.

If you want more info on setting up an account check out this girl’s article.

If you decide to open an account email me (whereswetzler@gmail.com) I can email you a referral link so you can get a free $100. There’s no money in it for me but I want you to prosper, faithful readers, like you’ve helped me prosper.

6) No Foreign Transaction Fees Credit Card

Right now, for the first time in a long time, I don’t have a credit card. This is because I’m trying to get a handle on my spending. But usually I have credit cards to get miles, and a feature I look for is no foreign transaction fees. I would mention a few but this article from Nerd Wallet covers it well.

Again, whether it’s 1% or 3%, that’s money thrown down the proverbial garbage disposal.

7) Card Backups

Carry one card in your wallet, and the other card someplace that doesn’t leave the house with you. This is way if you (God forbid) lose one or even more God forbid) get mugged, you’ll have a backup.

8) Extra Passport Pages

A true nomad will at some point need more pages in her passport because the rest of them will be filled with cool visas from Vietnam and Laos and the Kingdom of Bhutan. As of January 1, 2016, you can no longer add pages to your existing passport. You have to get a new one. Which is a bummer.

Here’s an “entertaining” video from the US Passport Service that explains how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhynPKimDVM&feature=youtu.be.

9) Book

Every nomad needs a good book. A book talks to you when no one else will. A book doesn’t judge. And books are informative. Even guide books. Though obviously if you want the BEST books, click here.

10) Notebook

Finally, when you’re traveling, you need a notebook to record your thoughts, make to do lists, keep track of things, and take notes. Pictures are a good way to record memories but journal entries, or even just disjointed phrases, are better. Looking at a picture can remind you of how you feel now, but only a journal entry can remind you of how you felt then.

I don’t prefer Moleskin.

I prefer classic composition notebooks, like the kind you can buy at an drugstore. (Or if you’re rich buy one of these “Decomposition notebooks,” which have awesome designs on the cover and are much better for the environment.

Can you think of any other nomad essentials? I’m sure I missed something and if I did let me know in the comments or send me a heartfelt, handwritten letter.

 

Special thanks to Stefan Peter-Contesse for his contribution to this blog.

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How to Teach Online So You Can Travel the World

I’m buzzing right now because I just gave probably the best class I’ve ever given online. Her name was Maria. She’s an astrophysicist and lives in Spain.  When we were discussing the idea of doing classes online I asked her what she might want to talk about and she said, “Astrophysics?” and I thought she was joking. But it turns out she’s actually an astrophysicist, and thus spent part of our lesson today lecturing me on the properties of a neutron star and defining things like compact matter and explaining what a “high mass x-ray binary system” was.

It made me realize that teaching online, if you’re living in a place like Mexico (Note: If you work for the company Appen and you’re reading this I don’t live in Mexico, I live somewhere outside New York City [hence my IP address] and enjoy hiking in the Adirondacks and going into the city for coffee with friends), is definitely the way to go. I’ve always shied away from online classes because I thought they were awful. But the REASON I thought they were awful is because all the classes I’d taught online had either been through A) Open English, a company started by a Venezuelan guy that’s MASSIVE in Latin America but boasts, at least when I taught for them, one of the worst interfaces in the history of the internet, and B) On Skype using my cellphone. In retrospect, I don’t know how/why I ever taught on my cellphone. It was a joke. I would literally write things down on a piece of paper and flip the camera so my students could see what I’d written. In my defense I was (sort of) living in Germany at the time and was very confused. I was trying to answer the question of: What does it mean to be an adult? What does it mean to be self-sufficient? And actually I answered the question quite succinctly and quite easily. Being an adult means buying things like spinach and bell peppers that you don’t really like but you’re know they’re good for you so you buy them anyway. That’s it. Like I said, it’s easy.

So what are your options for teaching English, or just teaching in general, online?

They are myriad, and I shall explain them to you in great (medium) detail:

1. Private Skype classes

Private Skype classes are good because you get 100% of the plunder, but bad because there’s no kind of virtual classroom where you can easily show images or draw or things like that. It’s not a huge problem, because you can still use the chat box to accomplish most of these functions. That’s why the class this morning was (at least in my opinion) so dynamite. The chat box revolutionized things for me. Imagine being able to say one thing, and either type that same thing at the same time, or type something completely different. (You say: “You’re doing a great job, keep it up!” You type: “Your English is terrible. This is hopeless.”)

Also, if you do Skype classes, you (usually) have to find your own students. Where can you do this? Spain has a great website called Tus clases particulares, France has Le bon coin, and if you do a little light research you can usually find a sort of classifieds option for each country. Which is probably something I should do for Mexico, like, two weeks ago.

2. Online Tutoring via a legit company

I’m currently contracted with Varsity Tutors in the US. I’ve done zero jobs for them. They pay $15/hour, but a lot of the classes are for 1 hour and 1 minutes, which means you only teach an hour but get paid for an hour and a half. Twenty two dollars and fifty cents for an hour’s work??? This is unfathomable to me right now. I cannot fathom it. I will not fathom it.

Another similar site is Tutor.com. The good thing about these sites is that there are tons of subjects to teach. On Varsity Tutors I’m set up to teach French 1,2, all levels of Spanish, and some levels of English. I tried to qualify for geography but failed the quiz, which caused me to have a flashback to the 8th grade Geography Bee when I got out on the first question because I confused latitude and longitude and then possibly soiled myself. Hopefully Varsity Tutors gets their shit figured out and starts sending me jobs soon.

[Update: Almost as soon as I posted this post Varsity Tutors sent me an email with a referral link. For each tutor I refer, I get $80 (if they get approved for ACT, Algebra 1, Calculus 1, SAT, or Statistics) and the tutor gets $80, too. For any other subject, we each get $40. THAT MEANS YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO TEACH. All you have to do is get contracted and approved and we both get $$$$$$. Here’s the link: https://www.varsitytutors.com/tutoring-jobs?r=2A2Px8]

3. Teach the Chinese

There are a lot, a lot, a lot of rich Chinese people who will pay gross sums of money to have their sucklings inculcated with the fineries of the English tongue. I’m currently going through the hiring process with VIPKid (“Part-time Teaching, Full-time fun”), a company based out of Beijing who boasts Kobe Bryant as an investor. The thing I HATE about these companies is that, since you’re teaching English to children, they want you to act like a clown. They want you to have a “fun background” behind you, like pictures on your walls, and smile a lot. Anyone who’s hung out with me for four seconds knows I despise smiling. So this is a struggle for me. But they pay well, up to $22 or so an hour, so it might be worth throwing self-respect to the wind.

These are all the opportunities I can think of right now. I’m sure there are more. I know there more. Which is why if you know of more, or know of any awesome ways to make money online, preferable cold, unbending US dollars, let me know in the comments.

I leave you with a quote from Good Will Hunting:

“Good day gentlemen and until that day comes, keep your ear to the grindstone.” – Chuckie, Good Will Hunting

 

Special thanks to Sam Kidder for supporting this this “bljaag.”

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Yeah, but How Does a Commoner like Me Fly Business Class?

emirates business class

Note: I receive no kickbacks or have any kind of affiliation with the credit card(s) touted in this article. This is purely to help you get radass flights for (almost) free.

I realized something this morning. I can’t remember what it was, but I know I realized something. I was walking along Calle Libertad, and I thought, “That’s it! That’s the secret to life!” I think it might’ve been something about eating more tamales. I’ve found some delectable ones by the neo-gothic church sometimes referred to as El Expiatorio. I get at least one everyday now. They have corn tamales, acelga (I think this might either be seaweed or cheese), rojos, verdes, pollo, and a few others. They cost 17 pesos.

Ah, I remember what I realized now. That this blog needs to be more useful. That I need to talk about myself less. So that’s why today’s post is about how you can fly business class for free within the next few months.

Some of you might remember this dynamite post from two weeks ago about the pleasures of business class. Bu some of you might have also wondered, “Yeah, but how do I fly business class? I don’t have the cash for that.”

But you don’t need cash. You need MILES. Lots of them. Fortunately, when you sign up for new credit cards, airline companies rain miles upon your person.

For example, the kind folks at Delta just emailed me this promotion the other day about 50,000 bonus miles when I sign up for their Amex card. Will I do this? Probably not right now. Because honestly with the way things are going I don’t know if I could spend the $1,000USD in the first three months that’s required to get the bonus miles. But you people, I know you people have good jobs, and live in economies where this kind of spending is not only regular, but required. If you live in the United States of America and don’t live in a hut in southeast Utah with 16 wives and a pet raccoon named Jake, it’s easy to spend $1,000 in three months. It would be hard not to.

So, you spend the $1,000 in the first three months, and then what happens? Well, once you pay off those miles — and this is critical, because they will not send you your miles until you’ve not only spent $1,000 on your C-card but also paid it off with money from your savings or checking account — they send you the miles. They SAY it takes up to six weeks or so for this to happen. But in my experience it’s usually within a week, two at the most.

Also, for this Delta card, and for a lot of cards offering promotions, there’s no annual fee for the first year. Which means you get your miles, you fly your free business class flight, and then you cancel the card. Please don’t think that this canceling of your card will destroy your credit score. It won’t. Doing it ten times a month might, but as long as you always pay your cards off, your credit score will be fine. I’ve churned many a credit card, and my score is still somewhere in the 700’s.

Once you’ve got your miles, you go to the Delta.com website and look for flights. You have 50,000 miles to burn, and you want to go somewhere exotic. How about Bogota, Colombia? You have a girlfriend who went there and she said it was, like, totally awesome. And oh my God, it’s not dangerous at all. She, like, never felt unsafe. And there’s such cute cafes and bakeries.

Well that’s wonderful. I think that’s wonderful. You SHOULD go to Bogota. And you should fly business class. Unfortunately, you’re only going to be able to fly business class one way. Because flying business class to Bogota costs 40,000 miles + around $40 cash. But come on, who wants to fly roundtrip when they go to Bogota, anyway? I mean, when you fly to Hawaii, do you fly roundtrip? No, you fly one way, stay for 20 years, forget your “mainland name,” and start eating pineapple all day and saying the word “Brah.” Same thing with Bogota. You don’t fly roundtrip. You fly one way, get a job teaching English, start taking bachata lessons, and stay forever. And using miles encourages this, because you won’t have enough to get back.

Once you’ve booked your flight, get prepared for the business class experience. DO NOT wait in the main line going through security. That’s for the plebs. Go through the priority line. DO NOT wait in line getting on the plane. Also for the plebs. Get in the priority line. And once you get on the plane kick back and relax, put your feet up and rest your weary head. Because, men: 50 of you going to Bogota today. And 25 of ya ain’t comin’ back!

 

A special thanks to Lauren Colton for supporting this “blagh.”

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5 Jobs and One Bonus Job You Can ACTUALLY Do While Traveling

One thing that annoys me about travel sites that talk about jobs you can do remotely or while traveling is the feeling I get that the people who wrote the article have never actually done any of these jobs. For example, they always include “freelance writer,” as if it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. “Oh, you just, like, write an article about the coolest cafes in Mexico City and people will pay you hundreds of dollars to put it on their site.”

Sure.

So that’s why I’ve made this list, five jobs that are feasible because I’VE ACTUALLY DONE THEM. They might not pay a lot. In fact, that’s probably their defining feature. But remote jobs rarely pay a lot. They compensate for their subpar pay with the fact that they’re remote, and you can do them from your phone while sitting in the bathroom waiting for the hot water to heat up (i.e. this morning).

 

1) Search Engine Evaluator

This is the holy grail (ceramic cup) of internet jobs. Or at least it used to be. When I first did this it paid $15.00, they paid weekly, and things were great. In the US this might not be a lot, but if you’re in Mexico or Nicaragua or the Ukraine it’s a veritable fortune. And it’s not difficult work; you’re given a search term like “Best restaurants in Chicago” and you have to decide what ads are good for it.

I did this for two different companies, ZeroChaos and Leapforce, and over the years saw a steady decline in employer quality. Nowadays they still pay hourly but the wage is less and each task has a time THEY THINK it should take you to complete it. This is the only time you’re allowed to report. If they think it should take you seven minutes but it takes you 10, you’re only allowed to put seven minutes on your time sheet. Which is crooked.

Bottom line: If you’re living a country where the cost of living is low this is still a great option. To find out more google “ads rater jobs.” Look for companies like Leapforce, Appen, Butler Hill, and ZeroChaos.

 

2) Social Media Evaluator

This is my current job that I’m working remotely even though I’m not supposed to be. I expect to get fired within the next couple weeks. The job consists of rating Instagram ads. It pays $13.00 an hour. Since I’m not supposed to do it from outside the US, I’m using a program called Tunnel Bear to tunnel into a server from the US (Side note: If you need a VPN and don’t know shit about technology, Tunnel Bear is a great option. Whenever I connect it shows a little bear digging a hole in the ground in Mexico and surfacing somewhere in the US). So while I’m actually in a dingy room somewhere in Jalisco, they THINK I’m somewhere in New York. My cunning knows no bounds.

Bottom line: Don’t fire me, Appen!

 

3) Captioner for Rev.com

I have a love hate relationship with this job that leans heavily toward hate. This job has some pluses, i.e. you can do it from anywhere and there’s no one breathing down your neck or your ear or wherever people sometimes breathe, and the work is fairly easy, just adding captions to videos using the company’s well-designed software.

But man, if you calculate the hourly wage, you’ll want to cry.

Bottom line: If you can type 16,000 words a minute and have ears like a wombat (sometimes the audio is hard to understand) this may be the job for you. For everyone else it’s something to do from time to time but make an extra buck or two for cafe/beer money.

 

4) Hostel Worker

Here’s how you do it: Show up at a hostel, say: “Can I work for room and board or just room or just board or just a place in a closet where I can curl up and not get mugged?”

They say, “Yes.”

Why do they say yes? Because they don’t have to pay you. And they get someone who speaks English.

Bottom line: Hostels are good places to meet people and also observe packs of traveling Israelis.

 

5) Freelance writer

“Hey, bro, what do you do for a living?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Cool! What kind of stuff do you do?”

“Oh, you know, mostly freelance.”

Um, actually I don’t know. Because until you’re really, really established, you’re not a freelance writer.  I’ve gotten paid for a few articles, but I would never call myself a freelance writer. It’s hard to get good money for articles. It can be done, but your prose needs to be dashing, and you need to be tenacious and well-connected. One day, Mark. One day.

Bottom line: There is no bottom line.

Bonus 6) Travel blogger

It might seems like it’s all mai thais on the beach and glamour, but it’s not. It’s also a lot of being away from your family and the ones you love, and sometimes getting bedbugs. But if you have a deep-seated need to know what’s out there, to know what life is like in Japan and New Zealand and South Dakota, and you also want to share your impressions of those places with the world, then go for it.

Bottom line: It’s a tough row to hoe, but deep down you were born to farm.

 

Know of any other jobs that can be done remotely? Let me know in the comments, because I need a new job. Like, now.

A special thanks to Jennifer Gregerson for her contribution to this blog.

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