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Getting Ready For Van Life


I've been watching so many van life videos, but this one is the most "REAL" one that spoke to me. I love watching Youtubers that start off with like 200 subscribers and seeing them rise.

After watching this video, I realized God had put everything in place for me to get started on van life. I have watched tiny house and van life for the past 2 months and it just seems to be the right fit for me. I don't have kids that I have to provide for and keep safe, but even that can be done. So how has God set me up for this?

1. Ultimately, accidentally renewing my lease was the beginning of the wrong, but right path. This leads my current landlord to keep me on a 4-month lease only and she doesn't plan to renew it either because I have caused her that whole leasing issue. I respect that and she has the upper hand; beggars can't be choosers. At that point, I knew I had to figure out my next move in 4 months if she doesn't 'renew' my lease. But EFFF THAT! I never put myself in a situation where I have no control and have to "need" someone else's resource, so I'm coming for you VAN LIFE.

2. I quit my pretty good paying job. I just quit. I didn't give a 2 week notice because my employer didn't deserve it. The owner I worked for was...I'll keep it to myself and remain professional.

3. I bummed for about 2 weeks before I found a leasing position. It's not hardcore money I get, but it's what I want to do eventually. This also meant I knew the good spots in the neighborhoods too.

4. I lost one of my fun side and completely remote job because I didn't give 100%. That was completely my fault though. The person I worked with was an amazing person. She has a beautiful and funny soul. She's really doing what she does to help the people she has.

5. Lastly, I landed a job that I actually enjoy doing and working on things I want to use professionally.

After watching that video up there ^, I took a shower and realized that God listens as usual and knew this about me. I currently have 2 jobs that are full-time combined. I'm always on the road, so that's free parking.


Why I'm considering van life:

1. My sister lives about 30 minutes away, but I don't want to commute that far to work. In addition to that, I like my privacy and running my own time. When you're in someone's home, you have to respect their schedule. I can still ship things to her house though :D

2. I hate paying rent. I even hate it more that someone else has the ability to tell me to leave.

3. I need to work out. All I do is lounge anyway. Ya know, back to basics without technology.

Van life would be beneficial to me in these ways:

1. MOM: Give my mom my Camry since I'm not sure when I can get her a "new" car, but my car is pretty decent.

2. PUNCTUAL: Be on time for work, because I'll be waiting to work lol. I feel like I've been late to work was because I lounge too long before actually heading out. I could blame traffic too, but I'll take it all.

3. MINIMALISM: Have less. I have a lot of unnecessary things. After my 2nd move, I realized I needed to get rid of a lot of things. Once I got rid of my dining table, it felt easy to let go. Then I got rid of my huge dresser. Now I just need to sell all of my things before November comes.

4. TRAVEL: I'll always have to find a park or an event to park.

5. WORK OUT: Since I won't have a 'home', I'll constantly need to park somewhere and a place to shower. Anytime fitness has a gym membership for $20/month, which is enough to park for a few hours legally and use the bathroom.

6. MONEY: I'm so surprised this wasn't at the top of my list. I'll be saving $500+ on rent. The gas I have to pay for are things I'm already doing every day. I plan to pay off my credit card with interest, then my student loans over 4%, and by that time my 0% interest balances will have to get paid off. While that's all happening, save for a house/property down payment. I think if you've read this far, then I'll tell you that I plan to buy while I'm doing van life, so I can legally park somewhere anyway while having the option to use it as income after the principal portion is paid.

I've been looking at cars, so I just want to spend about $2-$3k on a car. My brother is also going to join van life too. Josh has insulation experience. I have money to get this done.

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This Is Your Death Movie Review & Comments

The show is about people suicide on live tv for money that will be given to people they care about because they're so stressed out. Josh Duhamel is a tv host and witnessed a death on a show called Marry A Millionaire. The girl that "didn't win" found a gun and shot the millionaire. At first, Josh was traumatized someone was killed in front of him, but he used his response to see there is a need for truth in reality tv. As a result, he creates a show for people to suicide on tv to get donations. Then the show gets super popular and they have to keep up with the ratings, which means 'crazier' things. Then his sister got super concerned and she knew there was only one way for him to see how dangerous the show was getting.

TWIST/SPOILER ALERT: His sister goes on the show at the turning point of the movie! AHHHA! The suicide is super secure and one has to go around the building to get there. When he realized it was his sister, he wanted her to stop. He yelled and cried. When he finally got to her, he yelled everyone to call 9-1-1, but no one did and it hit him that the people who had suicide didn't have the moment his sister had of someone reaching out to them. That was the unfair part for everyone else on the show. While the whole plot was about him creating the show, the side plot was a hard-working father who got fired from his job and had to pay a house mortgage. He constantly ignored the show and despised the show, but was convinced when the grand 'prize' was 1 million dollars.

He went after the sister and his family flashed before his eyes, so he stopped. He said he didn't want the money anymore and rather be with his family. The end.

I would highly recommend this movie for everyone to watch. I want people to know they're really and literally worth more than a million dollars. Life gets better. People care about you even if you think they don't. It made me realize that I don't need to go on game shows, although I do love that Chain spelling game. Ultimately, money doesn't solve anything. Your time is precious. Don't work all the time. Life is short, have a morning to yourself; have a moment to yourself. Talk to God and see the moments God is trying to communicate with you too.

This movie had moments that reminded me of my family, especially my mom. My mom works hard and is super selfless. The family in there had some of their necessities cut, which reminded me of when it happened to my own family.

It's just really sad that someone or our self sometimes think ending a life is the solution, but it's not. I don't want to be stuck with a mortgage and feel like I have to work night and days to pay for it; mortgage slavery? Recently, I've been watching van life and tiny house and I'm obsessed. I dislike the idea of a landlord. I even dislike more of the idea that someone has an upper hand and the ability to tell me I can't live somewhere. I've never experienced that in my life because of my mom's hard work to provide a home for us.

Renting for the past 2.5 years made me realize how important a home is and how that is the greatest love someone can give you. Maybe you don't have Nike shoes or brand name clothes, but a home can never be replaced. Family can never be replaced. There is no amount of money in the world that can replace people you love. "No silver or no gold could dress me up so good," Boom Clap-Charli XCX.

The other point I want to talk about is reality show in general. I don't watch The Bachelor or Bachelorette at all. I just don't get it. Here we are in 'real life' shaming cheating or 'talking' to other people. Yet, so many of us, mainly females, watch this show. Like, why would I watch a show about a guy who kisses 20+ women to find out he wants to marry them. On top of that, literally spends a day with a different girl, but then we have a problem with players in real life? And ultimately, HE has the power to dismiss whoever. What's worse is that this is all justified because he's a 'bachelor' on a reality show, so it's ok? Only in America where you can do dumb things and get away with it because of a camera rolling. smh.

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Thailand Travel Tips

Head over to my IG if you came here for the photos: https://www.instagram.com/gonewithcua/
Ticket cost: $627.06 on my no interest til Sept 2017 card
Travel Dates: Tuesday, June 13-Monday, June 26, 2017; monsoon season 2 weeks, any more is too much. “Best season” to travel is December-January. It rained everyday around 4pm, but we didn't mind
Getting to Airport: Took a coach bus from Madison to ORD for $31 each way, $55 if buy online roundtrip. This saved everyone’s labor, time, and cost. This is only worth the money if it's just one person traveling. But if you are traveling in a group, definitely drive together and get dropped off.
Airlines: United - ANA and then HK-United, roundtrip from ORD
Time purchased ticket before departure: May 17th, about 1 month, which was a Wednesday, however prices were very close when Bao bought her ticket 1.5 weeks before departure.
-I just googled the airports “ORD - BKK”
--in Thailand: VietJet, Air Asian, and ThaiSmile
Cities visit: Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Krabi

Quick shout out: Lots of love, thanks, and credits to my friends: Chong Her for ultimately planning the trip and Bao making other plans and verifying things to do. This was truly a stress free trip at a last minute. I am known as a planner and researcher, but I did barely any of that on this trip and I have my friends to be extremely grateful and thankful for. I literally bought my ticket and went. Alright, lets get to the topics

MUST APPS/TIPS:

-Watch over tipping; we were “super generous” in our tipping. Although it’s ¼ of tipping in the US, the proportions were considered high. For example, our meal would be 300 THB and we’d tip 100 THB, which is ~$3 USD, and the average in the US is $5+. I just did it because it took less out of me to earn what they earned. But if you’re on a budget, you can just tip accordingly.

-BYOTP: Bring your own toilet paper; you will pay between 2+ THB to use bathrooms too. Sometimes, there won’t be any TP or hasn’t been restocked.

===Apps

-Use UBER. So you don’t feel obligated to tip. Please consider using my referral. You wanna get this app on your phone before you go because you'll have to verify with a code sent by text. FREE Uber ride (up to $10). To claim your free gift, sign up using this link: https://www.uber.com/invite/chouak5ue

-Yes, GoogleMaps works there.

-Trip Advisor if there is one. We got a lot of our information on there

-Your airline app; mine was United and the app offered free movies to watch on your device once the plane is in motion. Not just that, if you have an account, it will store your flight info. Sometimes, the transfer gates won’t show up as you arrive to an airport, so having the app will give you instant access once it’s updated.

-Please make sure you have all these apps installed. Most of the registration will need your working cell phone # to confirm. So if you’re already oversea and don’t have international coverage, you will not get that code to confirm to use the app.

Money/Currency Exchange: According to Google, the rate is $1 USD = 33.97 baht, so you want to get as close as possible. I took $677 USD and eventually exchanged it all at 3 different times just to check out the rates. $400 at 33.43 in Bangkok at a bank, then $200 at 33.77 in Chiang Mai near the street market, and 33.88 off a booth on the street vendors.

However, I believe the best exchange rate may be with your ATM debit card, but then again, those foreign fees might just end up making it the same. ATM withdrawal is at least safer, assuming you’re not making a daily withdrawal. How do you know for sure? I don’t know, I just read that it was. I didn’t do this myself personally.
Transportation:

Skytrain: Basically a subway, but not underground, hence the ‘sky.’ We took the Skytrain most of the time in Bangkok because we didn’t find out UBER was compatible until we went to Chiang Rai. It was about 57 THB/person each way so the 3 of us would’ve been 171 THB, which was a fair price when the supply is high on UBER. I would’ve paid that price for safety and convenience. It was about 30+ mins per trip using the subway. Once we got off the subway, we walked to our destination or took a taxi or tuk-tuk. Again, using UBER will help you avoid getting ripped off.

Taxi: Sometimes the taxi will run a meter and with you not knowing your way, it might take a longer route.

Tuk-Tuk: You should be able to set a price wtuk-tukstuks regardless of the distance.

Uber: This was mainly used in Chiangmai because our hotel wasn’t where there was a lot of traffic. Thank goodness the receptionist told us about it or we would’ve walked half a block out everyday to catch a taxi and get overcharged. If you’ve used an UBER before, it works the same. The only difference is that you’ll be charged the currency of the country, which means foreign fees to your payment method if it has any. If you’ve never used it, it’s really simple. The app will ask where you want to go, show you the cost, and then accept it or wait later or walk to a busier area for the price to decrease. Not just that, the price you pay on uber is the price for the 1-4 people together.

I would recommend getting a prepaid international card ahead of time if you’re thinking about doing this. Not only is it good for traveling, but also reservations that require a credit card.

Personal Driver: We paid 1000 THB/person for a personal car + driver to the Elephant Sanctuary 2.5 hours from Chiagmai. You can go with a group for less, but we wanted the royal treatment :D. JK, we just didn’t want to be on a long car ride with other smells.

Car Rental: We didn’t do this because Thailand drives on the left side. But if you’re up for an adventure, you can totally rent your own car. But I feel like it’ll end up being the same, just labor on your end.

Lodging: Chong made all of the reservations ahead of time. She booked 2 AirBnb for 3 days each and 4 days at the Krabi resort (how does that add up to 14 nights? idk). We were dropped off at this wrong location, but it was next to a fancy-ish hotel, so we stayed there for one night. It was reserved through hotels.com for $48 USD, and valued at $100+ if booked directly with them. Here's a summary of where we stayed: (1) Supailai City Home, Bangkok (2) TF Hotel, Chiangmai (2250 THB or $65 total for 3 nights) (2a) Duangtawan Hotel, Chiangmai ($48 USD/night) - booked through hotels.com, so the charge is in USD and not THB, which means no foreign fee for you. We booked it literally 2 hours before checking in and ditched the creepy TF Hotel, lol. (3) Aonang Cliff Beach Resort ($48 USD/night) - where the Infinity pool is. We had the 'Romantic View' which included an outdoor tub we didn't use :(. But it was a good location to scout the street vendors and walk to the beach. Here's top 10 Hotels in Krabi: Ao Nang Phu Pi Maan Resort & Spa looks really pretty https://www.tripadvisor.com/SmartDeals-g297927-Krabi_Town_Krabi_Province-Hotel-Deals.html
Other Airlines: We flew out to other cities from Bangkok by plane too. They were pretty cheap, about $30 one way way. One thing to be prepared is the luggage fees. Some of them have a general guideline of 1 carry on + personal item. The max weigh for a carry on is 7kg ~ 15 lbs. Vietjet charged 500 THB and AirAsia charged 900 THB. I think Thai smile didn't charge at all; at least for us. I personally didn't get hit with any fees because my carry on was under 7kg
Wifi: Chong and Bao purchased a wifi pocket at the airport for a 2000 baht deposit and was 3200 baht ~ $95 USD/$32 per person for 2 weeks worth. That's more than my phone bill, but it was crucial for all of us to have wi-fi at all times. Bao and I needed that to Face time our boo-thangs. And we literally Googled everything, so we needed good internet at all times. The wifi pocket was always charged whenever we were 'home' and it lasted all day until 8-9pm, which we were already back home by that time.

Packing essentials: I packed a pair of tennis shoe because we planned to climb a mountain, but it was 1500 THB at the end of the entire trip that we just didn’t want to spend. Other than that, I wore my Nike sandals the whole entire trip.
  • Lots of shorts. I packed 3 pairs of shorts, which I should’ve packed more.
  • light weight tops
  • Underwear for each day if you don’t plan to do laundry (some hotels have a washer + dryer that you can pay to use)
  • headphones - sometimes the planes do provide them, but you’re better off having a set at all times
  • One good hat for shade
  • One good pair of sunglasses
  • 1 or 2 swimsuits
  • Garbage bag for dirty clothes
  • Extra duffel bag for souvenirs!
**USE A CARRY ON: It depends on how long you're going of course and what you plan to buy. I know that on the way back, United Airlines allows 2 FREE CHECKED BAG. What does that mean? You can stuff a duffel or buy a suitcase with souvenirs on the way back and it'll fly directly to your final airport. If you plan to fly other airlines, be conscious that you may have to pay for those bag fees too.

I waited until the final days to start buying souvenirs because I didn't want to haul it during the trip. In addition to that, think about the hotels or places without and elevator. You will have to carry that!

On the way back, I checked in my 2 bags. Although I was hands free at my one stop in Hong Kong, it wasn't so convenient when I landed in Chicago. If you don't mind waiting for bag when you arrive, do the check in bags. If you just wanna be gone right away when you land, just keep your carry on with you.
Questions throughout my social media:

How much should I bring? I brought $650 and that was enough for me. I got some little gifts for family at home. Feel free to bring more; the more you have, the more you’ll spend. Keep in mind, the street vendor food are $1-$2 per plate, which is enough for a meal. If you want to go to fancier restaurants or buy expensive items, you will need the dough ($$)

Where's a good mall? The only mall I went to was Siam Center in Bangkok. It was just a mall with modern clothes. If you're looking for elephant pants or traditional Thai clothes, you'll need to go to the markets.

Where are the street markets? We went to 3: Khao San Road in Bangkok, Chiang Mai Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai, and Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok. Chatuchak Weekend Market is the best one with a variety of vendors and the lowest prices of them all too. It's only open on weekends.

What were the main things we did?  Elephant Sanctuary for about 1700 THB ~ $50 USD/person, Grand Palace 500 THB ~ $15/person.

Where did my money go? Lots of it on food. The 1 hour long massages ranged 200 THB to 800 THB. Don’t pay more than 300 THB, please. If you have the money for it, do them daily. You will regret you didn’t pamper your massage enough.

I will update this post as I go and people ask questions. I’m in the process of making a video with all these comments, but maybe I’ll do it once I get more questions. Thanks for reading.

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