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How I Travel to Five Countries Every Year and STILL Put Money in The Bank

2:43:00 PM
I get a LOT of people who ask me how I can afford to travel so much, which is much nicer to hear than the usual: "get away from me, you perve!!!" Much to many a hater's surprise, the reason why I can travel so much has nothing to do with having a trust fund, receiving handouts from my folks, being heavily in debt, or moonlighting as a body double for Cristiano Ronaldo -- which is something I only did for two summers, before my body started to look much better than his.

As of this writing, I've now been to 48 countries. But don't worry, each country was not just another notch on my belt; I'm beltless. Each country was meaningful to me and beautiful, and for one split second, I thought I was going to be with them for the rest of my life. Now I want to help everyone get as many notches on their belt as possible. I've always wanted people to feel good -- like Halle Berry in Monster's Ball. I get more enjoyment introducing something new to someone and seeing their reaction than I do experiencing it for myself.

To all those people who ask how I can afford to travel so much -- out of applicable curiosity and not out of resentful assumptions -- make no mistake, I travel the world, have no debt, and still put money away in the bank.

Here's how I can help Billy-Bob-Thornton you and make you feel good...

1. DON'T BE DEAD SET ON SPECIFIC TRAVEL DATES

A lot of people travel with the idea of "maximizing" their vacation by leaving for a trip on a Friday after work, so that by taking five (or 10) work days off, they can sandwich two weekends around it, thus making it a nine (or 16) day vacation. (Full disclosure: I got an A+ in 2nd Grade Math -- then those sons of b*tches had to go and introduce multiplication and division! Can't wait for Trump to legitimize my "Multiplication Deniers" group!!! "Nobody can say for sure whether mathematics is real.")

While leaving on a Friday and returning on a Sunday grants you a few extra days, you'll also be paying top dollar. I save anywhere from $200 – $600 flying (when I actually PAY for a flight -- more on that later) and returning Monday through Thursday. Also, avoid traveling during the June through August summer months.

2. HOW TO FIND THE CHEAPEST TICKETS/ KEEP YOUR DESTINATION FLEXIBLE

If you already have the mindset that you're going to Paris and you're going to do it during a certain timeframe, you will be paying a premium to do so. When I travel, I know I need some portion of my trip to be on a warm beach. Because the earth is round and revolves around the sun -- I had to Google that -- there's always some country on earth that will be warm. (I had to Google that too.) This gives me plenty of options. To search for your flights, you should be using Google Flights (it's like I'm a paid sponsor for Google), which allows you to explore destinations on a map with loose or specific dates. You just have to put in your starting airport. It's great to see the prices of places by scrolling the map without having to manually type in each location.

Here's a picture for people who can't read good: Enter your starting airport with an empty destination...
Once I've targeted a few warm destinations that are reasonably priced, I go to Kayak.com to save time. There, I don't have to keep manually changing the start and end dates to see which travel dates will be cheaper for me. I can click "3 days before and after" from my chosen dates and I can also click on "include nearby" (airports), which allows me to save time on doing the same search with each nearby airport. Being in the Bay Area, I'm fortunate to also have San Jose (SJC) and Oakland (OAK), who both have international airports that can be cheaper to fly out of than San Francisco (SFO).

By golly, my math skills tell me that 9/12 to 9/21 is going to be the cheapest and longest trip!
Once I've targeted the best date and airport, I'll go to Skyscanner.com and type in the date and location and typically find the same ticket for $20 – $30 less than on Kayak.

3. PAY FOR YOUR FLIGHT WITH CREDIT CARD POINTS/MILES

Remember when I said "when I pay for flights"??? I pay for the majority of my international flights using rewards points from credit cards. Most credit cards will offer you some sort of bonus to open a card and spend a certain amount of money within the first three months -- typically $3k – $5k -- in exchange for 30,000 to 50,000 points/miles. That's the equivalent of $300 to $500 (most of the time more) worth of airline credit. And most of the time, they'll waive the annual credit card fee for the first year, which ranges from $50 to $99. Before that first year is over, consider closing the credit card or downgrading it to a card (in that company's lineup) that does not have an annual fee.

The only way that credit card can burn you is if you don't pay off your bill every single month and they hit you with the 20% interest. DO NOT EVER open a credit card if you can't afford to pay off the balance in full each month. If you can afford it, use that card for every single purchase. I charge everything, which means I've got about 2k to 3k extra points being accumulated each month to my card. Many cards also offer 2-for-1 and 3-for-1 points for purchases during travel, groceries, gas stations, and restaurants -- donkey shows not included.

A few cards that I have always liked are Capital One and Chase Sapphire Preferred. (Let me know if you want to open a Preferred card. I can refer you and get 10k bonus points. Unfortunately, you get nothing out of this, much like my sexual partners.) If you want to find out the best credit cards for reward points, check out The Points Guy travel blog. There's also this false notion that opening and closing credit cards will affect your credit. Check out this TEDx talk from a guy who hasn't paid for a flight in five years -- he can help debunk that myth. He goes in-depth into how these "credit card hacks" work. I know several people -- including myself -- who are doing exactly this to fund the majority of their travels.

4. SUBSIDIZE YOUR TRIP BY RENTING OUT YOUR ROOM OR YOUR HOME

My last two big trips were almost entirely paid for through the rental of my condo. I rented out my place in San Francisco for six nights and netted $1,300, which I parlayed into Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland for two weeks and spent $800 on accommodations (it's cheap as heck out there!). I used the other $500 on miscellaneous expenses.

I use Airbnb to rent out my place, but, recently, they have fallen out of my good graces. After being a host for over four years and hosting hundreds of guests, I've been burned twice by them. Once as a host and the second as a guest. They will not watch out for you. I used to be one of the biggest advocates of Airbnb, but their customer service is horrendous. Anyhow, I'll save that story for another time. Hopefully, their recent $1 billion dollar fundraising round will be poured into a capable customer service team and management that actually knows how to put into place a process. For now, you can also list your home on VRBO, HomeAway, Tripping, and Craigslist for short-term rentals.

In San Francisco, my place can go for $230+ a night. In Cupertino, I can rent one bedroom for $100 a night. Sure, you have to get used to the thought of a stranger using your things, but that's why you get separate sheets, towels, require shoes to be off, and do a thorough cleaning upon return. Plus, I only accept people who are verified, have good reviews, seem nice, clean, and don't look like they'll be knocking da' boots all over my apartment!

5. DON'T OVERPAY FOR HOTELS

I see a lot of people splurge on lush hotel accommodations. I don't hate on anyone traveling their way, but I do worry that they are spending a disproportionate amount of money on these hotels when they should be out exploring the countryside, interacting with locals, eating street food, and being one with nature. If you're only taking one vacation a year, then maybe you should splurge. Since I know I am taking numerous trips throughout the year, I think long term. I'd rather have a two-week trip in a $150 a night hotel room, than I would a one week trip in a $300 a night hotel room.

A great site that I use, Hotels.com (avoid Hotel Tonight -- that app has burned me and does not offer better deals than Hotels.com), has a pretty comprehensive set of filters that allows me to find hotels above three stars, with cumulative customer review ratings, in the area that I want, and at the price I want. I always find a happy balance between luxury and value. I can still get a place on the beach with a pool, minus the 1000 thread-count sheets and doting hotel staff. I don't lose any sleep over it AND I travel longer.

You might also consider getting a private room in a hostel. Hostels are not what you once thought. This room had its own bathroom on the island of São Miguel, Portugal and cost me $50 a night. It's also a great way to meet people from all over the world.

6. WORK A JOB YOU LOVE

Perhaps the most difficult aspect for anyone to be able to travel frequently is to get the time off work. My main advice is to be damn good at what you do. Employers give you a lot more autonomy and leeway if they know you're not easily replaced. The best way to get to that point is to do something you love.

I may be very self-deprecating, but I don't believe there's anyone who is better at Public Relations than I am. Part of the reason I'm so good at PR is that I've traveled the world and talked to people from all walks of life. I thoroughly enjoy it. That allows me to fundamentally understand people and relate in a way that allows me to be better than others at what I do.

Have I been fired before? Yes. Many times. I'm opinionated and I'm passionate about what I do. I only regret the times that I didn't voice my concerns or I allowed myself to be bullied. I almost wish that everyone would get fired once in their lives. It's such a character-building experience. I've used those opportunities to travel and I've ALWAYS come back to a better work opportunity, with a clearer mind and focus. Opportunities open up for people who love what they do. And if you're that good, you can be your own boss -- there's nothing holding you back besides your own self-imposed limitations.

7. STOP BUYING UNNECESSARY THINGS!
 
(This last tip is the longest, but most important)

Long before I even take a vacation, my entire life is geared towards saving money for that trip. Here are just a few of the things I do -- and each cost savings is the equivalent of one plane ticket over the course of a year:
  • Cancel Cable. I cut my cable subscription eight years ago ($100/month = $1,200/year), which is more than enough money to pay for an international plane ticket each year — which, once again, I rarely have to purchase, because of my reward points. Another bonus of cutting cable? You stop watching idiots on reality shows and you start living -- and broadening -- your own life. If there was a news app that eliminated anything Kardashian, Kanye, Housewives, and The Bachelor, I'd be all over that.
  • Order Water. Domestically, I almost never order a beverage with my meal (unless it's an alcoholic one at dinner and I'm going out afterwards), which saves me $2/$3 each meal. Calculate that at once a day, seven days a week? Total savings? $910 a year. It adds up! Added bonus? You lose weight!
  • Brew Your Own Coffee. I rarely drink coffee, but I see many of my friends and coworkers do it EVERY, SINGLE day. Even if I did drink it, you can bet I'd brew coffee at home or at the office. Total savings at $4 a day? A whopping $1,460 a year. That's 28+ fancy dinners if you're traveling alone.
  • Shop at Discount Retailers. Why people don't shop at Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Marshall's, or Outlets for the majority of their clothes baffles me. I'm not saying I don't have the occasional full-priced item -- heck, I even have a few $100+ tops (do guys call their clothes that?) -- but almost all of my clothes were bought at a discount, not including my already cheap, infamous white V-necks at a retail price of $24 for a 4-pack. I don't need to wear fancy clothes to feel better about myself or make people like me. They already naturally don't.
  • Cut Your Own Hair. This is not something applicable for everyone, but it's just another example of an expense hack. I learned to cut my own hair as a teenager, when I wasn't happy with how they cut my hair at salons. This now saves me $20 every two weeks/$40 a month/or $480 a year. That could pay for your breakfast and lunch for 24 days on a trip. I'm also granted membership into bad haircut clubs, along with M.C. Hammer.
  • Quit Smoking. I don't smoke, but I'd still like to serve this PSA. It's stupid. It makes you look like a dependent weakling. It's horrendous for your health. You stink. You make other people stink. You look like a moron standing out in the cold by yourself smoking and slowly dying. Besides that, $6 for a pack every couple of days? $20 a week? $80 a month? $960 a year on death? Idiotic. And, if you smoke a pack a day, we're talking about $2,190 a year! 
Please think long term! A few cuts now during inconsequential moments and you can maximize your traveling and make every day count. When I travel, I can go BIG and it doesn't worry me one bit, because I spend all year making small cuts. Because of that, I've seen Machu Picchu, scaled The Great Wall of China, dived The Great Barrier Reef, ran with the Bulls in Pamplona, cheered Team USA at the Olympics, samba danced in Rio at Carnaval, and... quite literally, I could go on. And on. And on. Really, you can do all this too.
________

I've basically laid out a plan above where you can save upwards of $10,000 a year. That's a whole lot of trips! When people say they have to save money to go on a trip, I think to myself, I have never said that. Because it's ALREADY saved. No need to work the streets giving out handies anymore. That was just a high school job.

I truly want to help all of you travel more -- and for less. Travel is a gift that should always be shared. I can't tell you how travel makes you less materialistic, or how it alleviates your insecurities, or how you begin to love more and hate less. It's something you have to experience for yourself.

I am always here to offer you free advice. My reward is in you. (That sounded dirty....)

In this world, that has suddenly become more narrow and selfish, travel is what will keep us all humble and sane. Make yourself feel good and join me. We will experience this world together.


Sincerely,
Kevin L.
The Billy Bob of Travel

Why Snapchat is This Generation’s Twitter, But Worse

6:38:00 AM

Snapchat is doomed. Unless you call Twitter a resounding success story.


Currently, Snapchat is the darling of the tech world -- filing for their IPO Thursday (Snap Inc. is the parent company). To date, they’ve raised over $3 billion at a valuation of over $20 billion -- with nearly $2 billion of the venture capital coming in the last two years. Snapchat has said they want to raise $3 billion in this initial public offering.


Why would a company need to raise $3 billion after having just recently raised $2 billion in the last couple of years? Because they know their value is never going to be higher than it is right now. It’s the equivalent of an intriguing, injury-prone 7’1 NBA prospect who has played just a handful of amazing games in college, then declaring for the NBA draft after a Freshman season that... ended in injury.


The injury in Snapchat’s case would be $515 million in losses in 2016 -- up from $373 million in 2015. Right now, Snapchat has enough speculative growth and glimpses of potential that is intriguing enough for someone to take a flyer on with a number one pick. Snapchat, themselves, has stated in their filing that they “may never achieve or maintain profitability.” Does that sound like a company we know, that also used to be the darling of the tech world?


After more than three years of being a publicly traded company and 10 years of existence, Twitter has still not turned a profit. Only, when they went public, Twitter had sales of $317 million with $79.4 million in losses. Last year, Snapchat had sales of $404 million with $515 million in losses! Twitter’s IPO price of $26 a share valued the company at $14.2 billion. Snapchat is valuing the company at $25 billion.


Snapchat knows that the time to go public is now or risk never. They can still point to a number of “estimates” and successes now. A billion dollars in sales this year. 50% daily active growth in users in the past year. Sell-outs of Spectacles from pop-up booths. But for every plot point, there’s a kink or questions of viability.


Instagram loudly copied much of Snapchat’s most popular features, launching Stories in August of 2016. Only two months later, Instagram reported 100 million daily viewers, which was 2/3 of the daily active user base of Snapchat. And just a few weeks ago, Instagram announced 150 million daily users -- almost the same number as Snapchat -- achieved in less than six months! No one was quite certain whether Instagram’s launch and growth was affecting Snapchat’s momentum until their filing. Statistics in that filing showed Snapchat’s growth slowed 82% after Instagram Stories launched.


Looking at healthier “unicorn” companies that have yet to go public -- and have a much better argument for IPO -- Uber ($8 billion+ in venture capital) and Airbnb ($3 billion) have focused on international growth in a deliberate, drawn out manner, respectively having launched in 2009 and 2008. They are building sustainable companies that aren’t predicated on hype. Snapchat launched just five years ago in 2011. Facebook was profitable for three years before filing for their IPO. Facebook chose to bypass immediate advertising dollars to focus on user experience and growing their audience as much as possible -- something Snapchat does not have the luxury of doing. Snapchat knows they’ve hit a wall with user growth. User growth slowed down considerably in the last two quarters of 2016.


With over half of Snapchat’s audience between the ages of 13 and 24, does anyone think that Snapchat can increase their market share significantly with other age groups? Particularly when Instagram already has a built in audience of 500 million users, with 300 million daily? Of those 500 million users, 28% (or 140 million) are aged 30 – 49. The chances of those users downloading -- if they haven’t already done so already -- and learning a new app that has the same features as an app they already use is unlikely.


Perhaps the most glaring similarity Snapchat has to Twitter is through your own personal experience. Most people stopped using Twitter, because, frankly, our friends are just not that interesting or clever enough to consistently go back to the app to see what they’re doing or how they’re phrasing it. Twitter has become a medium for comedians, celebrities, politicians, and other influencers -- people we are curious about and are clever enough to be entertaining. Snapchat will eventually be a platform for influencers who can be creative and entertaining in their story posts. As it is right now, the influx of gimmicks and filters (how many times can you watch different friends post a selfie video featuring themselves with dog ears, nose, and tongue, while doing little else?) feels a bit like Myspace. Towards the end for Myspace, the dazzle and pizzazz of flashy customizable wallpapers and songs became outdated. Similarly, Myspace also sold out early for as much advertising revenue as possible in lieu of growth.


One telling sign on the future health of Snapchat will fall on the actions of the founders, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, who each own a whopping 22.4% of the company. Will they pull a move like that of Mark Pincus, the Zynga founder, who sold a large amount of shares (16.5% of his total) four months after their IPO at the first sign of trouble for the company? Or will they show confidence in their company, selling a small percentage, similar to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, who they spurned with their rejection of a $3 billion dollar acquisition offer?

Snapchat says it will use the money raised from an IPO for “general corporate purposes”, which is alarming that after having raised $2 billion in the last two years, they have no clear direction for the capital to significantly grow revenue or product. With all of Snapchat’s statistics speculative and unproven, I’d imagine the founders, and early investors, would be wise to cash out early before everyone starts to disappear.

Why You're An Idiot If You're Not Planning to Travel NOW: How Millennials Are Becoming the Greatest Travel Generation Ever

4:41:00 PM

Tom Brokaw famously defined the generation that grew up during The Great Depression, fought in World War II, and went on to build the infrastructure of modern America as "The Greatest Generation."

Ehhhh, they were okay. Apparently, Tom Brokaw has never heard of the Millennials!

Cue Morgan Freeman to deliver the introductory voiceover for my generation:

"From the generation that brought you the selfie stick, the Kardashians, and apple pie-flavored vodka.... we bring you: the Millennials."

Possible future taglines for Millennials include, "the greatest drinking generation", "the affluenza generation", or "the gluten-free generation." I could go on and on, but the moniker I think we could be best known for is, "The Greatest Travel Generation."

We are in a GOLDEN AGE of travel. Traveling has never been cheaper, faster, and easier. I should know -- traveling is my lone win in life. Since I have no kids, wife, or friends, I do it often and with reckless zeal that belies my age and the disapproving parents awaiting me at every turn.

Sorry Ma, Pa, I gotta do me. And I do me goooood. (Did that "goooood" come out as creepy on the page as it did as I was saying it in my head?)

Anyhooooo, while traveling, I always interact with tourists from around the world -- sometimes even sober!!! -- and I've noticed many things that make me proud of the state of travel and adamant that you should be doing it NOW. Even if you have kids!

The U.S. Dollar is The Strongest Its Ever Been

For the last few years, the dollar is crushing it compared to other countries. Our exchange rate makes it so that we're actually MAKING money just by converting it to another currency! (That may not be accurate, as economics classes were always somehow scheduled very early in the morning. Kind of redonkulous to expect anyone to be functional at 11am!) But, hey, check out this line chart -- hurray for pictures!!! -- showing the strength of the U.S. Dollar over the last 10 years.


Like Jay Z said, can I get a what what?!? (I was on the early side of the Millennial bracket, but that doesn't mean I don't know the lingo of today. Am I right, jive turkey!?!)

Competition From Low Cost Airlines Has Driven Flight Costs Down

With the influx -- and rise -- of budget airlines around the world, including RyanAir, JetStar, WOW, Norwegian Air, Virgin Airlines, Southwest, VietJet, Volaris, and many others, the competition for your flight dollars has driven prices to the lowest its ever been. Something about supply and demand, I think -- once again, I was sleeping during economics classes. But I do know that if you put ten different brands of vodka next to each other on the store shelves, a few of them will be battling it out for the lowest priced. That's where THIS guy comes in! Swooping in and grabbing all of the lowest cost vodkas, complete with grippable handles and made of plastic, so you know it's good, and good for the environment! 

Where were we again?!? Oh, yes. I have flown to London for $700 roundtrip. To Colombia for $400. To Vietnam for $700. The prices are so good, I don't even use my miles most of the time (opting to save them for an actual expensive flight). It used to be that any international flight to another continent was going to set you back at least a G (that's Millennial lingo for $1,000), but not anymore! Not NOW!

The Sharing Economy Is Turning the Travel Support Industry On Its Heels

Heard of Airbnb, Uber, Viator, or Tinder? (What?!?! Tinder is the sharing of vaginas and penises...) All of those tech companies, amongst many others, have made it easier and cheaper to secure lodging, transportation, and tours while traveling. Not only are they making travel more intimate, they're also saving you from greedy, impersonal hotels and scammy, shady taxi drivers. Often times, by using these mediums, we're looking at savings of 25 to 50% off of traditional costs.

We Have More Resources Than Ever To Find Information on Everything

Not just for stalking your ex-girlfriend anymore... You want to find the cheapest flight? Have you tried Kayak? Google Flights? SkyScanner? You want to figure out what's the best or cheapest way to get from Kyiv, Ukraine to Vilnius, Lithuania? Well, there's a small, indie company called Google that allows you to type that exact question into a box and little elves type back an answer for you! God bless those little elves. You can then find out how much it costs by bus, train, car rental, or flight, and whether you might need a Visa going through Belarus (you do). You can also find out the time it takes to get to Vilnius by each transportation method and figure out whether that money saved is worth your time.

Call me crazy, but I think Google is going to make it. Like Burt and Lonnie, or Mia and Woody, or Britney and Justin, or Kim and Kris Humphries... I've got an eye for these things.

YOLO and FOMO

On top of being "the affluenza generation", we could also be "the acronym generation." YOLO, which stands for "You Only Live Once" and FOMO, which stands for "Fear Of Missing Out", are our rallying cries.

It kind of makes William Wallace's, "they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom..."-speech sound downright silly. We rock this wording game where you put words together to form complete sentences!

Here's an example of how we use our rallying cry:

Millennial #1: "Yo, bro, you want to do some coke?"

Millennial #2: "No, fool. Didn't you watch Narcos? People are dying to bring that drug into your hands."

Millennial #1: "Yooooooo, chill out. YOLO!"

Millennial #2: "Okay, let me hit that. How many grams did you get?"

End scene.

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is what drives many in our generation to do things. No one wants to have been at home when a MewTwo Pokemon is suddenly discovered and all your friends get it but you! Don't miss out on the wonders of the world and be content with a Mexico and Hawaii trip in your lifetime. There are donkey shows to be had!

Finally... You Become A Better Person When Traveling

Having now traveled to 46 countries, you would figure that I am near sainthood. I am. Traveling has taught me so much about myself. I definitely am not saying I'm better than the next person -- as I had to start from so far behind (near Hell) -- but I'm now nearing a somewhat respectable human being (somewhere between a Charles Manson and Kanye West).  I have learned to respect other cultures. I have learned to value experiences over material things. I have learned to be comfortable in my appearance (even without hair gel!!!). I have learned that our environment needs to be protected. I have learned to live off less. I have learned that what makes us all so different is what makes this world so great.

Above all, I have learned that traveling leads you to love more and hate less. And that is all I hope to impart upon you. Love.

Sincerely,
KL
SVB

P.S. Sorry, Gen Z, that this wasn't written in emojis. Or Snapchat filters where I'm licking at the camera with my new dog tongue. Or with a rainbow pouring out of my mouth.

P.P.S. Stay tuned for next week's post, where I comprehensively break down how I travel to more than five countries a year and still am able to put money in the bank. Hint: I don't have to give handjobs anymore!

Unplanned Travel: Why It's the Last True Adventure in the World

1:50:00 PM

In another lifetime, I believe I would’ve been a government-funded explorer. The likes never-before-seen, casting a towering shadow over Marco Polo, Magellan, and Christopher Columbus. An explorer who at first mosquito bite would quickly retire to my cabin, demanding yet-to-be-invented insect repellant featuring Deet, Citronella candles, and further exploration of only areas with no mosquito-breeding pools of water. Oh, and A/C would be needed on my elephants as we traverse areas where I don’t want to get dirty or sweaty. But I would invent the selfie -- oh, yes -- spending hours drawing a picture of myself with elephants. Then spend the whole day going around to my crew asking them to like it -- verbally.

I would be a legend. 

Sponsored by countries with low expectations. 

It would be quite similar to the women who choose to date me. 


As I move forward with my motherly-disapproving-lifestyle, I find myself constantly in search of new and unique experiences. The playing of things around my butthole has proven to be an unfulfilling endeavor. Well, filling in some ways… Who knew The Crying Game could be so real?!? 

The unknown revelations that come from unique experiences is my addiction. In the States, it’s one of the reasons I love going to concerts. It’s a show that you’re not exactly sure how it will unfold. It’s one of the reasons I love working in Marketing, because you can always come up with unique, creative campaigns with many unknown variables. It’s thrilling. 

Although, I am finding unique experiences hard to come by in the U.S. these days. It’s one of the many reasons I want to have a baby. And if that works out like my butthole experiment, I’ll quickly put that baby up for adoption. I also desperately would like to get married, but I’ve realized that I need a woman who is equally as curious as myself — so that we can explore the world together. For now, what I’ve found, the last true adventure we can embark upon is that of unplanned travel. 


I never understood the desire to plan every part of one’s itinerary on a vacation when we come from such a highly organized, schedule-oriented society. Wouldn’t part of the reason for a vacation be to get away from that mentality? With an overwhelming amount of societal constraints, it’s liberating to shed one of the most universally repressing: expectation. 

Have you ever known the feeling of excitement standing in a train station, mixed with wonder and trepidation, after making a choice to take the next train out of Berlin — no matter the destination? Have you ever heard about a cluster of islands that were still relatively undeveloped in Cambodia and decided right then to take a full day of buses and boats to have a look for yourself? Have you ever frolicked in the sea in Croatia after discovering a beach while turning down roads unknown on a scooter? 


I cannot begin to fully describe the feeling of discovery, awe, and unfiltered innocence when beholding something for the first time. You lose yourself for a moment, along with all notions of what you thought you knew about the world. I often think of Meg Ryan in City of Angels riding down that hill on a bicycle with her arms spread out, as if flying, her head back and eyes closed, soaking in the sunshine and crisp air against her skin and embracing it all. In that moment. That’s the feeling. Too bad she had to plow herself into a big rig right after that! Who closes their eyes for 20 seconds while riding down a hill?!? WHO DOES THAT!?!? Poor Nic Cage gave up forever for you! 

You don’t always need a Lonely Planet to tell you what to see and how to experience it. You can discover things on your own. There will never be a guide to tell you how to do the unexpected — to try exotic foods, make unscheduled stops, push your own comfort zones. The decision to unplan must come from you. 


Surely, there’s nothing wrong with planning everything out, but if you’re ready for one of the last true adventures we can have — outside of base jumping and riding bicycles with your eyes closed — you must try, at least once, an unplanned trip. 

Book your arrival and departure city and make it all up in-between. The adventure of getting from one place to another is transcendent and liberating. The shedding of preconceived notions and expectations puts you one step closer to an innocence and purity you most likely haven't felt since you were a kid. If you open yourself up to the possibilities of the adventure that lay ahead, the world will not let you down––filling your soul with priceless experiences. 

And, if that idea doesn’t appeal to you, there’s always your butthole. 

Sincerely,
Kevin L. 

P.S. Never stop dreaming...


My Second Silicon Valley Series B: Life and Work at Tubi TV

12:21:00 AM
It's now been three months since I said I would write more.

Fail.

I've been working more than I ever have at any point in my life, but now taking steps to balance things out. I was at about 60% work, 30% sleep, and 10% alcohol. I'd like to up that alcohol number to a more respectable 50%, which is more along the lines of my lifetime average. But still far short of the 70% I hit during my free agent year of 2012. (Hey! It was a contract year! Now I'm like C.C. Sabathia.)

There's a line in Chris Rock's insightful song, "No Sex in the Champagne Room", that goes "If a homeless person has a funny sign, he hasn't been homeless that long – a real homeless person is too hungry to be funny."

I think about that line all the time as I walk through the Tenderloin on my way home -- maybe because there's so many homeless people, but also because of my desire to write and my inability to muster up the creative energy that's needed. It's hard to be funny, when you're so busy and tired all the time.

And I like to be funny. Make no mistake, I'm funny like a clown. I'm here to amuse you.

This is now the second internet startup I've worked for that has gone on to raise a Series B (a financing round) -- which is no easy task. I'd like to think that means I pick winners, but looking at the women I've dated, the food in my refrigerator, the holes in my underwear, and the teams I picked for flag football when I was 12, we know that's not true. The first startup I worked for, MerchantCircle, went on to be acquired. When I joined the company, there were eight employees. We ended up growing to over 40 in the course of three and a half years.

When I joined Tubi TV earlier this year, there were 15 employees. There are now 45... after EIGHT months! There really is a potential and excitement level that is unrivaled in Silicon Valley. Anything is possible! You see different management styles, different perspectives, and infrastructure being developed right in front of your eyes. Some things you agree with and some you don't, but you always have a voice to be heard.

Like with all my pursuits, I look forward to engaging new challenges. I've done so many things at Tubi TV that I've never done before and I'm very proud and thankful. The stimulation that comes with learning something new was able to temporarily quell my perpetual wanderlust. Besides learning about a completely new industry (the streaming video-on-demand and OTT space), I was able to test television commercials, market on several different connected device platforms, write product specs, manage integrated teams, learn SQL and Tableau (on second thought, I can't say this was a highlight!), and continue to make use of my creative skills to build brand awareness, garner media attention, and create backlinks. Some of what I enjoyed the most:
  • My billboard and transit shelter projects that became one of the top-trenders on Reddit and got Tubi TV mentioned in news sites that we'd never been mentioned in before, from local media (NBC Bay Area) to pop culture sites (A.V. Club), that led to me being interviewed by one of the top marketing sites (The Drum)!
  • My unorthodox (although, I guess everything I do is a bit unorthodox) survey to use a current-trending topic to garner press that would normally never have any reason to write about Tubi TV. In this case, it was a survey about how aroused men and women were while watching movies like 50 Shades of Grey, Gone Girl, and Basic Instinct (which was a title we had -- sly, no?), And if not for BroBible picking up the story, it might've been a complete failure! (Thanks, BroBible!)
  • My press announcement of Tubi TV's Series B investment, which was the most complicated announcement I've ever done, that included working in conjunction with MGM and Lionsgate's teams. While a major challenge dealing with two major studios, I got to work with some of the best people in the business and even got to spend some time with visionaries like Jim Packer, the President of Lionsgate's TV and Digital Distribution, and Sandy Grushow, the former Chairman of Fox Entertainment, who joined the Tubi TV Board of Directors. The multi-tiered press approach required several different angles and pitches to different media, but garnered us attention with Tech (TechCrunch), Entertainment (Variety -- with another interview of yours truly!), Consumer (Hollywood Reporter), Advertising (MediaPost), and Streaming (Cord Cutters News) media, amongst others.
  • My "New on Tubi TV" monthly lists that got Tubi TV featured on sites that normally only report on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu news (CNET – December and January). Notice the reporter's comments in the article? "There's a new major player in the streaming world called Tubi TV." And in January, "A site you might not have heard of is building itself quite a library to compete with Netflix." Booyeah! (Major shoutout to Brian Tong, CNET Reporter, who made the intro, and who I've known since we both started on our journalism careers many, MANY years ago. See! Networking DOES work!) 
  • And, of course, my niche campaigns that led to partnerships (and lasting relationships) with niche media and news sites (Dread Central) -- HorrorFest, anyone? -- and film critics (Star Wars). 

I have accomplished much at Tubi TV in a short amount of time and am excited that Tubi TV is well on its way to becoming a household name. So, while I haven't been able to entertain you lately here on Silicon Valley Bachelor, I have been advertently entertaining you through journalists and their channels. I'm like Lionel Ritchie now. Never making direct contact. A creeper lurking in the shadows. Ready to pop up with a "hello" when you're walking silently and humming along to Justin Bieber.

I have missed you. Hello.

Even C.C. Sabathia can still have his moments between cheeseburgers. I'm back!

Sincerely,
Kevin L.
The Clown

Why Helping Others Feels Great

3:15:00 PM
"I read your blog."

I find that to be a tremendous honor whenever I encounter someone who tells me that. Even though I have not written in months, that doesn't seem to be an issue. Very few seem to notice. I'd like to think that means my past posts are timeless and that there are plenty to peruse and laugh at until the early morning hours.

Since I've lived in San Francisco – five months – I've run into countless people that I haven't seen in years, many of whom have told me, "I read your blog..." Granted, they never say they read my blog and like it. In fact, if given the opportunity to be more forthcoming, the sentence would probably be completed like, "I read your blog... with a great amount of disdain and contempt for you as a human being. Your mother must be ashamed. And may God have mercy on your soul."

But I like to cut people off at "blog..." and start gushing, "YOU READ MY BLOG!?!? THAT'S GREAT!!! AREN'T I THE FUNNIEST?!? AND HANDSOMEST??? THANK YOU!!!"

Then I like to skip off down the street with my cotton candy in hand.

Ignorance is bliss! And I'm a really good skipper. Like, if there were an Olympic Skipping event, I would represent the United States. Unfortunately, six years old seems to be the cut off age of social skipping acceptability. That's BULLSH*T!

But I'll continue that fight for another time. In actuality, your comments give me the inspiration to write more. Everyone wants a little bit of social love and proof -- I'm no different. I have exposed a lot of my vulnerabilities, my dreams, my hopes, my angst, and my heartbreak through my writings, in hopes that it will help others out -- even if it is just through a few laughs. There's still a lot of me you all will never know, but the rewards I've received have been truly priceless. Even after five months of blog silence, people will still write me and open themselves up to a complete stranger. They will tell me their pain, either asking for advice or just needing someone to talk to.

After a few messages, I often hear something along the lines of, "I can't believe I'm telling you all this. I don't even know you, but I feel I can open myself up to you."

This is the greatest compliment you can ever give me as a writer.

(A large stack of cash and a handjob would also be nice, but that has yet to happen.)

As with all I do in life, I will always put myself out there. I lead with my heart. (Brains come last in everything I do. And sometimes not at all! Surprising, huh?)

Like the Jesus-looking guy at Kinko's said to Jerry Maguire, "That's how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there."

While I may never be "great," I believe YOU always can be. Kevin, the writer, the helper, the healer, is back -- HAHAHA -- with wishes that you'll always strive for greatness.

Thank you for confiding in me. I look forward to writing more in the days to come.

Cheers!
Kevin L.

The Best International Customs and Practices That We Don't Do in the U.S.

2:14:00 PM

In NBC's now-canceled sitcom, Heroes (yes, I'm a nerd), Sylar had the ability of absorbing other people's super powers. I sometimes feel like Sylar; only, rather than absorb abilities like regeneration, reading minds, flying, or stopping time, I absorb people's cultures – their energies, their lives, experiences, and what makes them who they are. Sometimes, I even start adopting their accents and broken English, before I notice and start thinking to myself, "what the hell am I doing?!?! I sound like a moron!" (Which everyone already thinks to begin with.)

I live for exploring new countries – partially for the sights, but more so to learn about its people and how they live, laugh, eat, and love. I'm addicted. I can't get enough.

When I travel to other countries, I spend very little time in museums, at monuments, and fancy restaurants – instead opting to interact with the locals, sharing a beer, spending time in their homes, eating at places where all can enjoy. I like to challenge what I know, which challenges my comfort zone. I love it.

Here are just some of the things I love... and am confused as to why we don't do them here:

1. Kisses on the Cheek – I LOVE kissing complete strangers on the cheek. Sometimes I put a little tongue on that cheek as well. It really freaks them out and reminds them to move away from me as soon as possible. And that's just the guys! For women, my cheek kisses linger just a little too long for comfort. I like to close my eyes and moan a bit, as if I've just taken a bite of crème brulée. This, too, quickly tells the women to avoid me at all costs. For the people who live in those countries, I'd imagine it's an excellent ice-breaker, leads to warmer interactions, and a greater comfort level.

2. Siestas – Originally created to get workers out of the hot afternoon sun, it's now a tradition amongst many Spanish-speaking nations, as well as in Italy and Greece. A siesta is a break in the early afternoon (typically 2 to 5pm), used for a nap or an extended lunch with a heavy emphasis on relaxation. In countries that practice, you can forget about shopping or eating during those times. I love it simply for the fact that it slows down the pace of life and you see people enjoying each other's company during hours that – in the U.S. – you typically see people running each other over with a cell phone in hand. For me, it's great because right when the siesta is starting, I'm just waking up and can participate in daytime drinking.

3. Taking Shoes Off At the Door – This is maybe the most logical thing done in Asian and Eastern European countries that makes no sense as to why we don't do it here in the States. Why would you walk on people's spit, gum, dog poop, dirt, grease, and every other filthy thing imaginable and then bring that into your house? Have you ever sat on your floor? Walked on your floor barefoot? Laid down on your floor? Had sex on your floor? Would you do that on the sidewalk!?!? How could you relax with your shoes on anyway!?!? (These aren't Al Bundy's God Shoes, for pete's sake!) So keep your floors clean, starting with taking your shoes off at the door!

4. Pouring Other People's Drinks – I love playing the part of the host, so I always make sure people's cups are filled at my house. In Japan, it's actually a custom that you don't pour your own drinks. Therefore, everyone gets sh*t-faced. I love the generous nature of it all, but also the symbolism of taking care of those around us. It's good practice to always be considerate and aware of other's needs in friendship, work, and relationships.

5. Respecting Elders – I think the United States is the only place I've witnessed where the elderly are sent off to live in homes. Think about that. These are your parents. Your grandparents. Do we live in a society that has taught us to be that selfish?!? In other countries, the elderly are revered and respected -- you bow, make sure they eat first/last, and are taken care of. That's the way it should be.

6. Roundabouts – When I drove through my first roundabout in Europe, I was pretty scared. I envisioned that scene when Chevy Chase drove round and round all day long until nightfall because he couldn't get to the outside lane to exit. Fortunately that didn't happen -- it only took me three hours. Roundabouts are so much more efficient and reduce traffic. There's a common misconception about ethnic people being bad drivers. Let's clarify that. It's only some of the ethnic people who came here to the U.S. Because if you've ever been to any Asian, Latin, or Eastern European country, those people can drive with an entire family of six on a scooter, around the ledge of a narrow cliff in a full-size bus, or weaving in and out of traffic on a one-lane road while you're screaming in the back seat wishing you had told your mother – one last time – that you loved her. Stop your stupid, clichéd, blanket statement stereotypes.

7. Long-Term Planning – You don't have the money? You don't spend it in other countries! Here in the States, you have all these idiots who mortgage their future for an expensive car, designer clothes, or new electronics. It's one thing to borrow against your future for advanced education or to start a business, but for unnecessary items that you saw Jay-Z wearing?!? My man, E-40, once rapped, "Don't buy an $85k car, before you buy a house!" -- maybe the most practical life lesson a rapper has ever spit out. Short-sightedness isn't just complacent in our buying culture, but also in our reduction culture! Global Warming is NOT a Democratic or Republican issue, but it has turned into that, since what one party champions, the other must refute. Here, we must wait for something bad to be practically upon us before we enact any sort of change -- like there's anything wrong with conserving, recycling, and saving today!

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That's not to say that we, Americans, don't have some great things to teach the rest of the world. McDonald's anyone?!? Am I right?!!? The Big Mac is an American icon! How about the fact we politely greet everyone with a "hi," "how are you doing?," or a head nod -- even when we don't know a person -- while a large part of the rest of the world practices something called, "resting bitch face." We like to spread good cheer here in the states! Also, perhaps nothing speaks to our character the most than when it comes to helping out those in need -- in particular, natural disasters. No matter what tragedy -- tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, disease -- Americans will be on the front line helping with the relief effort. Don't get me wrong, I love my country!

Still, learn about other cultures. REALLY learn. Next time you're in another country, put down that Lonely Planet and see the country through your own eyes and experiences. Go to a supermarket and see what food options the locals have. Walk around and listen to the people around you, their conversations, and their mannerisms. Make friends with people who aren't from English-speaking countries. Dance like no one's watching. Take your shoes off at a local park with a bottle of wine, some cheese, and read a book. Relax. Breathe it in. You'll be glad you did.

Sincerely,
Kevin L.

These Friends of Mine are Killing It at Life

2:26:00 PM
Every once in awhile I like to highlight my friends who are doing amazing things -- because I support all my friends and am not a hater. (Also, if they hit it rich, I'd like to be able to use their boats, summer homes, and eat their leftovers after waiting patiently by the kitchen door like a stray dog. Then I will return to the pool house, where I somehow never leave, like I'm Kato Kaelin.)

While there's no ESPN Anchor friends, like last time... this list is still impressive.

Mo Nabhani


Most of the time I travel because I feel like it. But sometimes, I see pictures from Mo on my Facebook newsfeed and he's in some new country, and then it becomes a competition. I immediately book a ticket out of the country so as not to be outdone by Mo and his buddies. Since I can't win at anything else in life, I figure traveling to the most countries will be that lone win for me. (Although, the other day, this girl on Tinder said she had been to 86 countries. WTF! I immediately stopped talking to her because I didn't want to go back to being a loser with zero wins in life!!!) Mo and his buddy started a company called Wanderlust Tomorrow that sets you up with affordable adventures that you only dreamt were possible. Check out their Facebook page here or their website.

Kenzi Wang


Kenzi has been on a roll lately with his company being accepted at 500 Startups and then Y Combinator, the most prestigious incubator of them all. That's like going to Michael Mina for dinner at 6pm and then having an encore dinner at French Laundry at 9pm. Last time I saw him, he had the look of a successful man, whereas I had the look of a weathered migrant rice farmer. Kenzi's company, Traction, is a marketplace for brands and companies to find the most effective digital marketers to run their marketing campaigns. Check it out here.

Melissa Low


Melissa and I used to run the Santa Monica steps together, before I would beg of her to leave me as my jello-y legs could no longer move. While Melissa continues to run upwards with her career, I remain stretching at the bottom, afraid of injuries and sweating. (This is what we call a metaphor... I think. I wasn't a very good English student.) Melissa has the job that we all envy, because most of us would pay to do it. While she would never admit it, since she's far too humble, Melissa has had a very large role in expanding the presence of boxing in China. Fights that started with Pacquiao in Macau, she was integral in bringing in celebrities from around the world, placing stars like G-Dragon next to Paris Hilton. Zou Shiming, China's Gold Medal winner in boxing in two Olympics, has been huge in raising the profile of boxing in his home country. Like Jerry Maguire's hand showing up in the pictures of his athletes, somewhere lurking nearby Zou is Melissa's hand. (That doesn't sound weird or creepy at all!) Check out this commercial Melissa placed Zou in for Beats By Dre.

De'Niel Phipps


De'Niel is that one black friend that I have that allows me to make borderline inappropriate remarks. Like, "I can't be racist, because I have black friends." (Then I pull up a picture of him, just to show people.) I actually only make inappropriate remarks to him to keep up with his inappropriate Asian remarks. We laugh and laugh and laugh. And then we look around uncomfortably, hoping no one has heard what we just said and quickly change the topic to the latest weather conditions. De'Niel is an Emmy award-winning director and cinematographer who is working on a documentary about his hometown, Saginaw, Michigan, and the athletes that have come out of this small community of 50,000. It's amazing the number of professional athletes (many of whom De'Niel has already interviewed) who hail from the region: Magic Johnson, Serena Williams, Draymond Green, Jason Richardson, Lamar Woodley and many more. Check out his website here.

And, finally, so that everyone will forgive me for whatever transgressions I have made (Knibb High Football rules!)...

Mothers and Fathers


What an incredibly awesome feeling it must be to bring a life into the world. And what an incredibly difficult process it must be to raise a fine, upstanding human being. It's an ever-challenging and never-ending job. Just look at me and my sibling; one turned out successful, married, with kids, while the other demands meatloaf from his poor mother at all hours of the day. Even though many of my friends say that I probably already have numerous children, I don't feel it counts as I have not contributed anything towards their child-rearing. Of course, if they show a proficiency towards athletics or academics, I will immediately ask to be a part of their lives... and stay there! (Not like Will Smith's asshole dad on Fresh Prince!) I plan to read zero books on raising a child, since 90% of my friends have kids. I'll just post important questions on Facebook to get a consensus, like, "I left my newborn baby in the bathtub, should I... A) Watch a movie? B) Make a Chipotle run? Or C) Take a nap?"

Well, there you have it! Don't be one of those haters who lurk in the background of Facebook, hating on people for being successful in life, or really happy, or ridiculously good-looking. Spread love, my friends! Take risks in life and remember to give back... (starting with housesitting duties for me at your vacation villa in the Mediterranean).

Sincerely,
Kevin L.

The 8 Different Types of Crazy Travelers You Encounter

3:24:00 PM

I think it's somewhat easy to ascertain that I'm addicted to traveling. Having hit up most of the world's most popular tourist destinations, I've now moved on to places that are off the grid – in search of new experiences to shock my senses – where people may confuse me for some rich, successful, charming socialite, rather than a poor, bumbling neanderthal.

My addiction carries over to everything I do.

At the end of Schindler's List, Oskar Schindler is nearly in tears as he looks upon the hundreds of Jews he's saved and realized that he could've saved even more by selling his valuable personal items, or having never bought them in the first place. When it comes to traveling, I'm like Oskar Schindler, only I'm not saving persecuted Jews from death, I'm crying over each dollar that could've been spent on a trip where I could've posted a shirtless selfie.

(Having re-read the above paragraph, I'm quite certain Hell would usher me to the front of the line ahead of Bill Cosby. If it helps, I do donate to charitable causes.)

Anyhow, every dollar that I make and spend I think about in terms of what else I could be doing with that money. In the economic world, we call this "opportunity cost." (BAM. Take that to everyone who thought I didn't pay attention in school! I not only spent countless hours looking at the clock, but I also occasionally listened. Just call me Mr. Microeconomics.)

When I see someone with an iPad, I think about how I'd rather put that $500 towards a plane ticket to Central America. When I see someone wearing a pair of $200 jeans, I think about how that would be a week's worth of expenses in a foreign country. When I see a stoplight, I run right through it, to save the wear and tear on my brakes, so that I can avoid buying new ones. When I decide between two-ply and single-ply toilet paper, I always choose single-ply even though I love Mexican food.

To all my travels and my fellow travelers, no matter what type you are, I pay you tribute:

1. THE WEEKEND WARRIOR

Yes, this is a traveler as well. Their escapism takes place in their homes. Not everyone is fortunate to be able to get away for a weekend or an extended trip – either financially, occupationally, or familial(y) – and that's what makes these guys and gals so much fun to be around. Going to a barbecue and/or sporting event at their house is like going to an amusement park for your midsection and a viewing of SkyMall's best products all in one place. Barbecue grill made from stainless steel 24 karat gold with built-in air-conditioning? Got it. Zombie figurine crawling out of the garden? Of course. Best alcohol collection in the neighborhood? Beer pong table? Cornhole? Bacon-wrapped everything? Two-ply toilet paper? 1000 thread count Egyptian combed cotton sateen sheets? You bet.

2. THE WEEKEND GONER

Living in Northern California – truly one of the world's best and most underrated areas – plenty of people depart every weekend for a few days in Napa/Sonoma (the precedent and standard-bearer in wine-tasting escapism), or Lake Tahoe (snowboarding/skiing in winter and watersports/outdoor recreation in summer), Las Vegas (a one hour flight), Santa Cruz (for beaches), or Yosemite National Park (for Mother Nature's masterpieces). These people may not always be able to go overseas for vacation, but they're gone every weekend exploring their surrounding areas and loving every moment of it.

3. THE ROADTRIPPER

Back when I was young, my Dad was fanatical about road trips all across the United States. While I hated it as a kid, because I had to sit in a car all day long (mind you this is before Nintendo's Gameboy had been invented and WAY before TV/DVD players were a standard in every family vehicle), I now feel fortunate to have been able to see so much of the countryside. So many cars I saw (while playing the ABC game) and McDonald's visited (this is also WAAAY before artificial flavors, sugars, pesticides, organic, and gluten had been "invented") as we drove from Texas to Florida, Texas to New York, Texas to Chicago, Texas to California... I carried on the tradition in college, back when people in the same age bracket could also conceivably throw away responsibility for a few days. Now, it's relegated to my solo vacations, where I am the most irresponsible person on earth.

4. THE ONCE-A-YEAR  

I've often spoken out against the arcane, and archaic, vacation policies afforded Americans. While the rest of the developed world is given up to five weeks vacation (25+ days: France, U.K., Brazil), or four weeks (20 days: Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden... heck, even Afghanistan, no joke), the United States is not required to give ANY! Most employers still end up offering vacation time, but, on average, it only amounts to 10 days. And with using a vacation day here and there for a wedding, a birthday, or a weekend trip, that vacation time – by the time you use it – ends up being more like five days for you to plan a week-long getaway. Americans end up settling with going to Mexico, Hawaii, or the Bahamas, EVERY year, because traveling any further would take up two entire days of travel just getting to and from the destination. But... those five days, that person will be the happiest and drunkest (and most sunburnt) person on the beach!

5. THE CRUISE SHIPPER/TOUR ADDICT

Many people like the comfort of a set itinerary, a tour where the destinations, hotels, and even food may be laid out to them under a set cost. My father, for instance, loves the mindless-ness of it all. He doesn't have to think about one thing, other than enjoying the sights and sounds before him. (Unless I'm with him, then he is thinking about what a complete failure and disappointment I am to him. Each new tourist site becomes a reminder of how mankind has evolved, except for his only son. Great Wall of China?!? A symbol of the accomplishments of man and the lack of accomplishments of his son. The Forbidden City?!? A reminder of all the dynasties and family-building as the generations continued through children and how his only son is still not married and without kids.) Whoops. Did this paragraph devolve into my relationship with my dad, Ike Turner? Anyhow, the Tour Addict only needs to worry about their cocktail-in-hand, tan, what shot glass to buy at each port, and getting their hair braided.

6. THE TOPICAL HIGHLIGHTER

This person has graduated from the local beach destinations and has maybe accrued more vacation over the years as his/her wealth and occupational position has grown. On top of an annual beach locale, they're now going to a new destination each year. They start out with the major ones that have been around since the beginning of the invention of international tourism, like London, Paris, Rome, Greece, Spain, Germany, before moving on to a second-tier of up-and-comers, that Clark Griswold would never have thought of, like Thailand, Rio De Janeiro, Australia, Croatia, China, Costa Rica. With each new destination, more foreign to them than the last, the Topical Highlighter becomes more addicted to exploring new destinations and spends much of the year thinking and planning out their next trip.

7. THE INDIANA JONES

This traveler has done all the highlights and no longer finds solace in places that have a Lonely Planet book dedicated to them. He/she needs to forge their own path in a country, spending time with the people, learning the culture, and discovering gems down streets and trails forgotten. The Indiana Jones makes new friends in every country and somehow ends up living in that complete stranger's home a few days afterwards. He/she walks, bikes, takes public transportation, rents scooters and cars... without a map. The less information the Indi knows about a destination, the less preconceived notions, which allows the formulation of his/her own ideas. The Jones can be a loner, spending hours by himself, yet being the most sociable person when around people. I, myself, relate closest to this traveler, along with my personal kinship towards Count Chocula. In the end, the Indiana Jones still needs to periodically return to a rooted existence as he's missed and revered by thousands... probably even millions of people.

8. THE PERPETUAL NOMAD

This traveler is the envy of all their friends, having the guts to take all of society's expectations, capitalistic brainwashing, and familial pressures, and challenge them by living their life in foreign countries. Whether they bounce from country to country every few months, or live for a few years in each destination, they are showing that not everyone has to choose a life where they graduate college, get a job, get married, have kids, and pay off their mortgage for the next 30 years – in that order. That's not to say they'll never do it, but they will do it within their own timeframe and have an amazing time in-between! This person's daily pictures might consist of a picture with a tiger, having a beer in the Rain Forest, lounging in a hammock on a desolate beach, or volunteering in a third world country with underprivileged kids. This person may or may not have it figured out, but they sure as heck don't care what you think. And they'd be the last to judge you on your decisions.

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When it's all said and done, there is no wrong way to do a vacation. We all find our releases in different ways. A person doing yoga every day may find a spiritual connection with the world around them. When we read a book and allow our minds to drift off into a new world, completely unaware of our surroundings... When two people share each other's bodies and love one another... all these feelings can be euphoric – a release from physical and mental constraints and worries.

Might it be that's what it's all about?

There's a scene in Training Day where a doped up Ethan Hawke says he's got the streets figured out: "You gotta control your smiles and cries, because that's all you have and nobody can take that away from you."

Amen.

KL

The Best Free Dating Apps and Websites: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need

3:02:00 PM
If only I had better photoshop skills, I would be riding a unicorn naked in my profile pics as well.

For anyone who's spent even two minutes on a dating website or app, you know there are three things synonymous to every female's profile:

A. Loves to travel
B. Is a foodie
C. Is not here for a hookup

Without a doubt, we are living in a golden age of travel ease, inventive cooking, and quick hookups. It would almost seem more relevant for someone to post: "I am a homebody, I prefer bland, redundant meals, and want to go to the bone zone 24/7 with whomever messages me." Now THAT would be a revelation! I, for one, suggest that people stop saying A, B, C, and just move on to things that mean something.

Recently, I had a recruiter reach out to me about a position to be the Chief Content Officer of a new dating app. At first, I was rather excited, because I wanted to expand upon the number of people who referred to me as "chief"; from one -- the gas station attendant -- to possibly three or four. To be clear, I am certainly not looking for any work, as my sister has dubbed me "an international man of leisure," and I like to live up to that billing. But I was intrigued by a dating app, since that's right up my alley. Heck, I get B+ just for showing up, right, right?

I won't name the company, because, frankly, I don't like to kiss and tell. (But if you ask me with one alcoholic beverage in my system, IT'S ON!) Sadly, I don't think the app will be successful, no matter what their focus groups tell them. After playing around with the app for a few hours, I felt like Tom Hanks in Big when he's playing around with the transformer "building" and raises his hand to the execs and goes, "I don't get it." I'm about all the focus group you need when it comes to dating and apps, because I'm dumb enough, with a ridiculously low attention span, to see if I can understand an app, and just smart enough to not walk into oncoming traffic. I'm what you call, "low-risk, low-reward." You can have that engraved on my tombstone.

Besides not believing in the product, the backgrounds of all the execs on the team? Married. Wait. What?!? I don't get it. If you have a dating app, I'd hope that someone on the team is a living and breathing embodiment of your number one user.

With that said, I shall give you my definitive review of all the free dating apps and websites I've used. (To give you a preview, Zoosk is the worst of them all!) I will also use some hard-to-understand 5-something rating scale. (*My reviews are based on Silicon Valley usage, where we have the highest concentration of males to females in the U.S. and laws of typical dating are completely disregarded.)

TINDER – The darling of the web. She of questionable founder origins and even more questionable founder morals. Tinder is so quick and easy – swiping right if you like a person, and swiping left if you don't – that I hardly ever message people on it anymore. I just want to see who I match with "nearby." I'm addicted to swiping. Even those I match with -- when both people have swiped right to each other -- 90% percent I have buyer's remorse, and the 10% I message, 8% never message me back.

It's just too convoluted of a system, with FAR too many men in Silicon Valley bombarding women with redundant and creepy messages. You know those clubs you go to where there's SOOO many guys that all the girls are dancing in a circle with each other, acting like lesbians, in a desperate attempt to fend off the swarm of three-deep douchebags waiting to get their freak on? That's like Tinder.

2 of 5 Valyrian Steel Swords because I treat this app more like a game than an actual means to dating. (I chose Valyrian Steel in lieu of stars, because it's the best and I am a nerd. Valar Morghulis!)

COFFEE MEETS BAGEL – Formerly only for gluten-free-eating, skinny jean-wearing elitist iPhone users, CMB has now branched out to include the lower-class citizens on Android. Too bad Android users will laugh this one back to iOS as they walk to the trailer park with their Otter Pop popsicles. (disclosure: former lifelong Android user, now two weeks into my test iOS phase.) The founders should've taken Mark Cuban's hypothetical "$30 Million." This app -- get this -- gives you ONE match a day. If you both like each other, you have a window of 8 days to message each other.

No offense, but do you know how many unattractive people there are in Silicon Valley? Okay, that sounds majorly superficial, but let's not be a hypocrite here. Initially, looks matter somewhat. I have been on CMB for over two weeks and have been matched with only one person over 5 (out of a Bo Derek 10). If you want to test your luck out on some other girls, you have 10 new options a day, but no guarantees. To even "take" or "like" one of those 10 girls, you have to use beans, which you must buy. Everyone is basically moving at this "one-a-day" snail's pace. You could be waiting all year! With the environment we live in, patience is thin and plenty of other apps means that people are probably not falling over themselves to pay for a crapshoot in the form of beans. But kudos to the team for trying to monetize so early. If only there were value first....

2 of 5 Mini-Bagel Pizza Bites because they do some nice things with trying to get people to promote the product for them to get more beans!

HINGE – This is the app I tell all my friends about. In fact, it may even sound like a paid endorsement. (It's not. Although I welcome all forms of attempted bribery. It can't be unethical if you just accept it, right? Jack in the Box sends me free vouchers all the time and it hasn't swayed me one bit. I still go to Jack -- or Tastytown, as I like to call it -- on my own volition to eat their delicious, mouth-watering Spicy Sriracha Burger. Now here for a limited time!) Hinge, gives you matches through 2nd and 3rd degree Facebook connections, which means there's much less chance that someone's going to ask you to go to bone zone (that's my new favorite adult term for 'sex') within the first few messages. Unlike CMB, you get multiple matches a day. It used to be just 10 matches at noon, but now it's sporadic to keep you coming back for more.

The reason why I like this app the best is simple: RESULTS. I have had the most meaningful conversations and the most actual dates through this app. Heck, some of the girls were actually attractive! And not all of them went to the bathroom only to never return or had a phone call interrupt our date after 10 minutes with an "emergency." I'd say that's a win-win for everyone!

5 of 5 Eddard Stark Heads (he was a good man) for not over-doing it with options and not under-doing it in an attempt to get us to pay. Freeeeeeedom! (William Wallace. I think he lost his head too. He was also a good man.)

PLENTY OF FISH – I really like POF. It's the original "old-school" free dating website, that now has an app. You can see and read anyone's profile, message them, see who's viewed you, see who's mutually "liked" you, but it also has reasonable paid elements. You can see who wants to meet you, upload more images, see if someone's read your message, and show up more prominently when women are browsing profiles.

I feel like women are looking for more real relationships on this site and are more receptive to messages than OKCupid (which I'll get into next). The site is not an example of design or UI excellence, because they keep their staff to a minimum. But they do a good, honest job, without trying to extort the user at every turn. It's almost impossible to close the site when they keep giving you options of new girls when clicking "back" from any page. Nice move, POF.

4 of 5 Finding Nemos because I like the blue-collar background of this company and the general word-of-mouth advertising they've relied on. It's all about dating results.

OKCUPID – Nobody does data better than OkCupid. What was once my most boringest class in college -- statistics -- has now become the caterpillar that turned into a butterfly. (I don't even know if that makes sense, I've been up so long...) I'm like the Karate Kid, forced to paint fences and wax cars, only to realize all those meaningless motions actually meant something. OkCupid asks users to answers relevant dating/personality questions (the more, the better) to try and form the best percentage matches between users. Not only do they give you your compatibility percentage between each person, but also the percentage chances you may be an "enemy"!

Just like POF, you can browse and message for free, but if you want to show up more prominently, see who already likes you, or search by attractiveness (they have gameified ratings to come up with the most "attractive"), you have to pay a monthly fee. While I feel women are more serious about a relationship on POF, the folks over at OkCupid are doing an amazing job. The site is innovative and continues to stay fresh, adding "web 2.0"-type games and swiping.

4 of 5 Arrows because I love data and admire the founders for their easy-to-understand and presentable nature of their nerdiness.

ZOOSK – Don't even try it. It's a spam machine. It tries to disguise itself as a free dating website/app, but it's really a pay-for-everything, horrible matches, but I'll email you when someone breathes on your page, "dating" site. Born in the middle of the website era and the app craze, it does neither well. If anything, it is a relentless advertising vehicle, so you're sure to have heard of it through a sponsored listing or advertisement on the side of your Facebook newsfeed. Advertisements can only trick so many idiots onto a site. After that, you'll need natural, organic word-of-mouth from satisfied customers to sustain growth. (See every blockbuster motion picture.)

1 of 5 Spam Burgers because I dislike sites that act as the web version of a creepy used-car salesman, who tries to fast-talk you into making a decision you'll later regret.

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Well, there you have it -- the definitive guide on using technology as the cheapest ice-breaker on the planet! Spend money trying to find the love of your life!??! As if! (What a hoot that Cher was...) Maybe I should make one pop-culture reference in this post that isn't from the 80s or 90s. Hmmmm... I don't know. I can't think of any. Buuuuuut, I'll be back!

Until then, from one prominent Chief to a commoner, may you find the woman or man of your dreams – that rare breed of person who loves food, traveling, and sex with someone they've gotten to know. Good luck with that!

Sincerely,
Kevin L.
 
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