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Joy

Writer lives in vacation rentals and Airbnbs because it's cheaper than rent or a mortgage

She stayed 31 days in a 'ski town' AirBnB for $1200. That's $600 cheaper than her mortgage.

michelle joy, digital nomad, travel hacks

A woman looks out into a beautiful canyon.

Can you imagine living life as a digital nomad? You have a job, but your office changes month to month. You spend a few weeks at a ski resort and then a month on the beach. In between, you make a stop in Europe to visit the Christmas markets. It sounds like a millionaire's fantasy, right?

Not according to Michelle Joy, 35, a travel writer based in Houston, Texas. She recently explained to Business Insider how she cracked the code on how to stay in vacation rentals and Airbnbs long-term while making it cost less than the $1,800 a month she was spending on a mortgage payment, taxes and utilities.

Joy is the founder of Harbors and Heavens, a blog that documents her travels, inspires “others to see more of the world,” and shares tips and tricks on how to do so affordably.


“When I started researching places to stay, I quickly decided it would be much cheaper to slow travel and take advantage of long-stay discounts at vacation rentals—so much cheaper, actually, that it made me question whether I ever wanted to pay rent or a mortgage again,” Joy wrote in Business Insider.

Her math also works for the average renter in Houston, where the average property will set you back $1,795 a month. Further, living at other people’s properties means you don’t have to pay for costly home repairs, new furniture or gas and electric bills.

Joy’s trick is finding places in the offseason with plenty of available units that can be rented at a lower rate. She may miss out on some seasonal activities but is still on a permanent vacation.

“When I'm searching for a long-term stay at a bargain, I look for popular and seasonal vacation destinations with a large concentration of short-term rentals, like Daytona Beach, Florida, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,” she wrote for Business Insider. “Towns with a lot of individually owned condos typically have plenty of rentals on sites like Airbnb, the platform I typically book on.”

“To get a good deal, I make my reservations for the offseason and book for at least a month at a time,” Joy continued. “Many rentals give weekly discounts, but the nightly rate bottoms out once you hit the monthly rental rate, typically at the 28- or 30-day mark.”

For example, Joy recently stayed at a vacation rental in Snowshoe, West Virginia, between the summer and ski seasons. Her 31-day stay cost her around $1200—that’s $600 cheaper than her mortgage, taxes and utilities.

She also recently stayed in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for 35 nights and paid just $1,360.

Joy’s new life as a digital nomad started when things began to open up in the waning days of the COVID pandemic, and she felt the itch to “revenge” travel. Since then, she’s paid off her home in Texas and has no plans to return to living her old lifestyle anytime soon. She looks forward to living in vacation rentals in affordable international tourist destinations such as Thailand, Indonesia, Croatia and Portugal.

“Being nomadic and hopping from rental to rental may not suit everyone, but my lifestyle and schedule are flexible, so it allows me to combine housing and travel costs into one expense and experience living in different places,” she wrote.

But she hopes her travels inspire others to leave their comfort zones and see the world. “It's time to make your dreams happen,” she wrote on Instagram. “Don't put it off until or wait for someone else to do it for you. You are capable of creating a life you love on your own.”

Planet

Easy (and free!) ways to save the ocean

The ocean is the heart of our planet. It needs our help to be healthy.

Ocean Wise

Volunteers at a local shoreline cleanup

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The ocean covers over 71% of the Earth’s surface and serves as our planet’s heart. Ocean currents circulate vital heat, moisture, and nutrients around the globe to influence and regulate our climate, similar to the human circulatory system. Cool, right?

Our ocean systems provide us with everything from fresh oxygen to fresh food. We need it to survive and thrive—and when the ocean struggles to function healthfully, the whole world is affected.

Pollution, overfishing, and climate change are the three biggest challenges preventing the ocean from doing its job, and it needs our help now more than ever. Humans created the problem; now humans are responsible for solving it.

#BeOceanWise is a global rallying cry to do what you can for the ocean, because we need the ocean and the ocean needs us. If you’re wondering how—or if—you can make a difference, the answer is a resounding YES. There are a myriad of ways you can help, even if you don’t live near a body of water. For example, you can focus on reducing the amount of plastic you purchase for yourself or your family.

Another easy way to help clean up our oceans is to be aware of what’s known as the “dirty dozen.” Every year, scientists release an updated list of the most-found litter scattered along shorelines. The biggest culprit? Single-use beverage and food items such as foam cups, straws, bottle caps, and cigarette butts. If you can’t cut single-use plastic out of your life completely, we understand. Just make sure to correctly recycle plastic when you are finished using it. A staggering 3 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans annually. Imagine the difference we could make if everyone recycled!

The 2022 "Dirty Dozen" ListOcean Wise

If you live near a shoreline, help clean it up! Organize or join an effort to take action and make a positive impact in your community alongside your friends, family, or colleagues. You can also tag @oceanwise on social if you spot a beach that needs some love. The location will be added to Ocean Wise’s system so you can submit data on the litter found during future Shoreline Cleanups. This data helps Ocean Wise work with businesses and governments to stop plastic pollution at its source. In Canada, Ocean Wise data helped inform a federal ban on unnecessary single-use plastics. Small but important actions like these greatly help reduce the litter that ends up in our ocean.

Ocean Wise, a conservation organization on a mission to restore and protect our oceans, is focused on empowering and educating everyone from individuals to governments on how to protect our waters. They are making conservation happen through five big initiatives: monitoring and protecting whales, fighting climate change and restoring biodiversity, innovating for a plastic-free ocean, protecting and restoring fish stocks, and finally, educating and empowering youth. The non-profit believes that in order to rebuild a resilient and vibrant ocean within the next ten years, everyone needs to take action.

Become an Ocean Wise ally and share your knowledge with others. The more people who know how badly the ocean needs our help, the better! Now is a great time to commit to being a part of something bigger and get our oceans healthy again.

@davidcsmalley/TikTok

But can she start it?

David C. Smalley, a comedian and podcaster, regularly gives us some generational humor by exposing his 19-year-old daughter Talissa to relics of the past. You know, things like CDs, phonebooks, remote controllers…feeling old yet?

Recently, Smalley challenged Talissa with navigating a standard U-Haul storage truck. She had to 1) unlock the door 2) roll down a window and 3) start the engine.

For those of us who grew up before the 90s, this might sound like the easiest challenge ever. But apparently, for Gen Z, it’s like being asked to maneuver a horse and buggy.
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All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

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A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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A-ha performing live for MTV Unplugged Summer Solstice

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A-ha's "Take On Me" is one of them. Despite its consummately-80s sound, the song with the famous sketch animated video is still enjoyable (if not a little earwormy—good luck once it gets stuck in your head).

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Some people talk about changing the world. These young people are actually doing it.

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The United Nations created 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 to help us focus our efforts on vital areas of concern, including poverty, gender equality, education, food security, health, climate and more. And every year since then, changemakers have arisen to meet those goals in various ways. Some of these changemakers are already leaders on the world stage, from heads of state to global celebrities. But others are grassroots activists doing incredible work on the ground to move us toward meeting our SDG targets by the 2030 deadline.

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Up until recently, Caleb had been in the "never had a pet" camp, then one day he found a tiny little kitten. He knew when he saw how little and helpless she was that he just had to rescue the sweet baby.

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