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The not-so-secret travel hacking 'game' that allows you to travel the world for free

The not-so-secret travel hacking 'game' that allows you to travel the world for free
Photo by Serey Kim on Unsplash

The points and miles game is free to learn, complex to play, but totally worth it.

If you have friends who post drool-worthy photos of luxury resorts in beautiful, tropical places and you wonder how on Earth they can afford such amazing vacations, there are four main possibilities: 1) They're rich; 2) They saved up for a long time and splurged; 3) They went into debt to make it happen; 4) They spent far less than you think—perhaps close to nothing—because your friends know how to play the travel hacking game.

If No. 4 intrigues you, buckle up, because I'm about to take you on a mindblowing trip through Travel Hacking Land.

Luxury travel is far more doable than you might think. Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

But before we embark, I want to make something clear: Everything I'm about to share with you is legitimate, legal and honest. I say that upfront because often people's initial response when I describe how travel hacking works is, "That sounds sketchy." They usually respond with 1) This is a scam, or 2) This is unethical. Neither is true. More on that shortly.

Okay, off we go!

Welcome to Travel Hacking Land, where if you learn to play the game well, you get to travel for free.

A few things to keep in mind as we take this tour:

1. Think of travel hacking as a game rather than a "hack." Like any game, the more strategies you master, the better you get at playing.

2. The game is simple in concept, but complex in practice. Don't expect to walk away from this article knowing exactly how to book a free trip to Europe. There's a fairly steep learning curve, but speaking from experience, it's 100% worth the time to learn it.

3. (Almost) anyone can play. If you have a good credit score, you can play this game. (That being said, people with more spending power will be able to play it faster. No way around that really.)

4. Be ready to unlearn some things. Most of us come into the game with major misconceptions about how credit card points and airline miles work.

5. It truly is as mindblowing as it sounds. Yes, the people who play this game really do travel the world regularly—often in luxury—for free or nearly free. No, it's not an exaggeration. (I'm not selling anything here, by the way—I love to travel, I love saving money and I love strategy games, so this hobby just hits all my happy buttons.)

Also, I didn't make any of this up or figure it out on my own. I learned it from Bryce Conway, founder of 10xTravel, a website where anyone can learn all the ins and outs of this game and see how other people are playing it. (10xTravel Insiders is also the largest and most active Facebook group dedicated to this game, with more than 113,000 members, so Conway definitely is the go-to expert in this space.)

As we take our tour through Travel Hacking Land, I'll share what Conway says about how the game works and what anyone who's interested in it needs to know.

The travel hacking game is played with three main pieces: credit card points, hotel points and airline miles.

On a basic level, the goal of the travel hacking game is to optimize credit card points, hotel loyalty points and airline miles and make the most of how those award systems work and interact with each other. You have to understand these pieces of the game to strategize using them.

The first thing to understand is that credit card points are the most powerful pieces in the game. Everything else stems from there.

Each credit card grouping (Chase, American Express, Citibank, Capital One, etc.) has its own points-earning system. You earn points by spending with a credit card (i.e., "earn 1% cash back on purchases") or by signing up for new cards and qualifying for sign-up bonuses ("spend $4000 in the first three months and get 100,000 bonus points"). Most of us most likely have points-earning cards of some sort, because they're so common.

Generally speaking, the cash value of a credit card point is one cent, so 100,000 points would have a cash value of $1,000. If I have 100,000 Chase points, for instance, I can trade those in for $1,000 cash back.

That's exactly what I used to do—get cash back for the points I earned on my Chase cards—and I thought it was pretty awesome. Now I kick myself for it because those points are sooooo much more valuable when used in the points/miles game for travel.

Credit card points become more valuable when they are transferred to travel partners.

Transferring credit card points to airline or hotel partners greatly increases their value.

Photo by Trac Vu on Unsplash

As I said, the game is complex, and there's no way to explain it all in one article. But here's one example of what it means to optimize the points and miles systems.

Recently I wanted to buy a one-way ticket on Southwest airlines. The cash price for the ticket was $88, but I could get the exact same ticket for 4,400 Southwest Rapid Rewards miles.

Southwest is a travel partner with Chase, which means I can transfer my Chase points to Southwest and they count as Rapid Reward miles. 4,400 Chase points would be worth $44 if I got cash back for them, but if I transfer them to Southwest to purchase that $88 ticket, I've just doubled the value of those points.

Double the value is pretty good, right? But that's just scratching the surface. As another example, with 100,000 Chase points, I could get $1,000 cash back or I could transfer those points to Hyatt and get four nights at the Grand Hyatt resort in Kauai—which, on the dates I just looked up in August, would cost $900/night cash. So for $1,000 worth of points, I could get a $3,600 stay at a luxury resort. Almost quadrupled their value.

But keep in mind, I'm not actually even paying that $1,000 out of pocket. These are points I earned for free, just by signing up for and using my credit card (on things I'm spending money on anyway) to earn points.

When people say they're traveling for free, this is what they mean.

If you want to play the points/miles travel hacking game, you can learn how for free.

I had a vague understanding of airline miles and credit card points before taking Conway's 10xTravel course. I'd used frequent flyer miles before and my husband and I have used credit cards for everything (paying them off every month—that's vitally important) to earn points for cash.

I don't even remember now what made me click on the course, but I'm so glad I did. There are multiple travel hacking websites and courses out there, but I appreciated the way Conway laid the whole thing out and that he was totally upfront about how he makes his money with a free course. (Basically, he asks that course participants use his credit card referral links if/when they start getting into the game, which is beyond fair for the amount of knowledge the course provides.)

Conway started puzzling out the game himself when he was in college, when there were only a handful of online forums and Reddit discussions about how to optimize points and miles. His friends would see him traveling all the time and ask him how he was doing it, so he'd explain it. Eventually, he got tired of having to go through the whole game with new people over and over again at parties, so he wrote it all down in an email that he could just forward to whoever asked.

Finally, a friend told him he should turn it into an ebook. That ebook eventually morphed into the course and the 10xTravel website and a full-fledged win-win business. We win by getting free knowledge about how to game points and miles to travel for practically nothing. He wins by earning credit card affiliate income each time people use his referral links to start playing.

The biggest travel hacking hurdle to get over is our misconceptions about credit cards.

Credit card points can be incredibly valuable for travel.

Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

One big key strategy in this game is regularly signing up for new credit cards to take advantage of sign-up bonuses, as that's the quickest way to accumulate a lot of points. But most people think that's nuts.

"When I tell people that I generally open 10 or more credit cards a year, almost every single person … their eyes get bigger and they kind of freak out," says Conway. "And the next question is always, doesn't that destroy your credit score?"

No, it doesn't.

"It's very straightforward how that works, but of course, people have a bad association of credit cards with debt and bad credit," he says. "So you have to kind of get past that."

But won't credit card companies get wind of people doing this and shut it down? Conway says nope.

"They know that this exists. In some ways, they kind of encourage it because most people aren't able to make points work or are not willing to put in the effort to make points work in a way that is really advantageous to them," he says. "So it's kinda like the banks are making a bet like, 'Hey, we have this cool point system. You probably won't figure it out. It's profitable for us anyway.'"

"Credit card companies make a lot of money when people use their product, both on interest charges and fees—kind of the negative side of credit cards—but also just on swipe transaction fees," says Conway. "People forget that credit card companies make a large portion of their money on people who don't even ever pay interest or have credit card debt."

Credit cards are profitable for banks, so they incentivize people opening them. And banks compete to get you to open their cards, so all we're doing here is making the most of that competition and the incentives that come with it. No one is getting swindled. You have to spend on the cards to earn the points—even the sign-up bonuses—so banks are still making their money.

The key is to use your credit card for every transaction possible, pay off the balance each month before any interest posts and keep getting new cards for the sign-up bonuses.

Here are some examples of people who have learned how to play the travel hacking game and won big.

The places travel hackers go for free or nearly free is mind-boggling.

Photo by Ittemaldiviano 🇲🇻 on Unsplash

One of the things you start seeing after you take the 10xTravel course and join the group on Facebook is people sharing the amazing trips they've taken for free or close to free. Some of those stories get posted on the 10xTravel site, too.

For example, one couple took a two-week, five-country, $17,000 trip to Europe for just over $1,500 out of pocket. Another family detailed how they saved $14,000 in travel costs on trips to Puerto Rico, Europe, Costa Rica and Canada—not to mention getting a ton of free travel domestically—over a two-year period.

Some people in the Facebook group have shared trips where they've gotten redemption values of 10 or 20 cents per credit card point or more (essentially turning what would be $1,000 cashback into $10,000 or $20,000 in travel value). Those are exceptionally amazing, but it's not unusual at all to see 3x, 4x or 5x point values being redeemed by travelers in the group.

Often the only cash people have to shell out on their trips is for food and a modicum of taxes on flights, which don't get covered by points. At all-inclusive resorts, food is covered, so all they pay for are any extra activities.

And we're not talking cheap places or terrible traveling conditions. You know those over-the-water bungalows you see in the Maldives? I've seen people fly first-class there and stay in those places, all on points and miles. It's bonkers what people can do if they play this game well.

Why don't more people play the travel hacking game if it's really so great?

Again, the game is simple in concept but complex in practice. There's a lot to learn and a lot to unlearn at first, and how the various points and miles systems intertwine and interact can make your brain hurt until it all starts to click. But a lot of what stops people from even starting to learn is simply not believing that it is what it is.

"I think it doesn't really make sense to most rational minds," Conway admits. "Because things don't just kind of come for free in life. There's always gonna be some sort of catch down the road. So when you can show them how easy it is to book a meaningful amount of travel—and good travel—using simple tactics with points and miles, it seems too unbelievable."

This is especially true with business or first-class airline travel. The redemption values for points on those seats can be simply astounding.

"People assume that I'm gonna do a bunch of work just to be able to get a three-stop red-eye flight to Vegas—is that even worth it? And that's just not the case," says Conway. "My wife and I have flown first-class all over the world and can do so pretty much whenever and wherever we want, thanks to this."

The only thing better than hanging out in paradise is hanging out in paradise for free.

Photo by Serey Kim on Unsplash

Travel hacking (a term Conway bristles at because it makes the whole thing sound sketchy) is a long game—and more chess than checkers for sure—but for those who wish they could afford to travel more, it's definitely a game worth learning how to play.

Thanks for coming along on the tour of Travel Hacking Land! And hey, if you see your friends sunning themselves in Fiji or exploring Machu Picchu or galavanting around Europe, don't assume they have gobs of excess wealth. They may have just learned to game the points and miles systems in a way that lets them travel for ridiculously little money.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Family

I told a kid a riddle my dad told me when I was 7. His answer proves how far we've come.

This classic riddle takes on new meaning as our world changes for the better.




When I was 7, my dad told me a riddle.

"A man and his son are driving in their car when they are hit by a tractor-trailer.

Photo via iStock.

(We were driving at the time, so of course this was the riddle he decided to tell.)

The father dies instantly.

The son is badly injured. Paramedics rush him to the hospital.

Photo via iStock.

As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, I answered:


"The doctor is his mom!"

Photo via iStock.

My dad first heard the riddle when he was a child in the '60s.

Back then, most women didn't work outside of the home.

Few of those who did had college degrees, much less professional degrees.

Female doctors were few and far between.

Back then, it was a hard riddle. A very hard riddle.

By 1993, when I first heard it, the notion that women could be highly skilled, highly trained professionals wasn't so absurd.

To me, it was normal.

I knew women who were lawyers. Bankers. Politicians. My own doctor was a woman.

To be sure, women still faced challenges and discrimination in the workplace. And even 20 years later, they still do.

But at its core, the riddle is about how a family can work. And that had changed. Long-overdue progress had rendered the big, sexist assumption that underpinned the whole thing moot.

A very hard riddle was suddenly not a riddle at all.

I never forgot it.

Now, I'm 30 — almost as old as my dad was he first told me that riddle.

My dad at 30 (left) and me at 30. Photos by Eric March/Upworthy and Mary March, used with permission.

I don't have kids, but I mentor a child through a volunteer program.

Once a week, we get together and hang out for an hour. We play ping pong, do science experiments, and write songs. Neither of us like to go outside.

It's a good match.

One day, we decided to try to stump each other with riddles.

He rattled off about five or six.

I could only remember one: The one about the man, his son, and the surgeon.

Photo via iStock.

I thought it would be silly to tell it.

I was sure that, if it was easy in 1993, it would be even easier in 2014. Kind of ridiculous, even.

But a part of me was curious.

It had been 21 years — almost as long as it had been between when my dad first heard the riddle and when he shared it with me.

Maybe it wouldn't be so easy.

Maybe I was missing something obvious, making my own flawed assumptions about how a family could work.

Maybe the world had changed in ways that would be second nature to a 13-year-old but not to me.

So I began:

"A man and his son are driving in their car, when they are hit by a tractor-trailer. The father dies instantly. The son is badly injured and is rushed to the hospital by paramedics. As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look at the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, he answered: "it's his other dad"

Photo via iStock.

Times change. Progress isn't perfect. But no matter what shape a family takes, at the end of the day, #LoveWins.


This article was written by Eric March and originally appeared on 06.21.16

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Celia Robbins/X (used with permission)

Celia Robbins regretted not buying a puffin sweater in Iceland three years ago.

We all know that social media has its pitfalls. In fact, the U.S. surgeon general even wants to put a warning label on social media apps to alert us to the health danger it poses, especially to young people.

However, social media has also connected people around the world in a way that humanity has never seen before. That can be both good and bad, but when it's good, it can delight and inspire people around the globe.

That's where an Icelandic puffin sweater comes in.


Celia Robbins shared a post on X explaining that her 14-year-old daughter had asked her if she ever has any regrets.

"While I know she was asking this question on a philosophical level, my mind immediately went to this puffin sweater I saw in Iceland," she wrote. "It's been 3 years since I saw it in a shop there, & I still regret not buying it."

Three years may seem like a long time to be pining for a sweater, but non-buyer's remorse is a real thing, especially when you can't just hop online and order something. Robbins really loves puffins, but the sweater was too expensive for her buy at the time, and when she went back to Iceland in 2022, she couldn't find it again.

Fortunately—but unexpectedly—a random stranger who lives 4,000 miles away had the exact opposite regret about exactly the same sweater.

David Wiskus, who is the CEO of Nebula and lives in New York, shared that his regret was that he bought that puffin sweater for his wife two years ago on a trip to Iceland.

"She has worn it zero times," he wrote. "I'm in NYC. Cover shipping and it's yours."

Robbins was incredulous, but Wiskus was serious. "I would never joke about a puffin sweater," he wrote.

The people of X became invested in the puffin sweater exchange. What are the chances, after all?

But sure enough, 10 days after Robbins posted the photo of the sweater she wished she'd bought, it arrived at her home in Berlin, Germany. Wiskus even covered the shipping and expedited it, despite Robbins offering to pay for it.

And wouldn't you know, it fits her perfectly.

Robbins told TODAY.com she almost started crying when she received the package.

“I don’t know how else to explain it, but it’s like a tiny little moment where the universe cared about me," she said. “I’m living in a new country. We’ve only been in Berlin for like 11 months, and sometimes life is really hard. I don’t speak German. I thankfully have a job where I get to speak English, but this was just the universe being like, ‘Hey, I care about you and what you want.’”

Wiskus told TODAY.com that he was on a work trip to Amsterdam when he happened to come across Robbins' tweet and immediately recognized the sweater. It still had the tags on it in his wife's closet.

“I was sincere. I would happily get rid of that sweater,” he said. “I didn’t realize so many people on the internet would be that excited about it.”

“I can’t stress enough, I really thought this was just, like, doing a funny bit with a random stranger on (X) and it’s just turned into this other thing," he added. "But the sincerity of it is what I find so charming.”

How does his wife feel about him giving away her sweater? She's okay with it, he said, but she did tell him, “you’re going to have to take me to Iceland so I can get another sweater.”

People have loved the story on Upworthy's Instagram page, celebrating the internet being utilized for something so wholesome and magical:

"This is ABSOLUTELY what the internet is for. Nothing more. Nothing less."

"This is what I had hoped the internet and social media would partly be, connecting people around the world in really zany but loving ways. Keeping hope alive."

"Stories like these keep me coming back to the internet 😍👏🐧"

"This is the best damn use of the internet—more like this story!"

Who knew it a puffin sweater would bring people together to gush over the positive side of social media.

Family

Single dad receives letter from late wife and immediately gets a DNA test

"She wrote a letter for me before she died, but I couldn’t bring myself to read it until now."

A devastated man sitting by the ocean.

Ten months after a man’s wife passed away, he finally got the courage to read a letter she left him, which contained a devastating admission. The 4-year-old son they had together may not be his.

“My ‘darling’ wife passed away 10 months ago,” the man wrote on Reddit’s Off My Chest forum. “She wrote a letter for me before she died, but I couldn’t bring myself to read it until now. She told me how sorry she was that she didn’t have the guts to tell me this to my face when she was alive.”

In the letter, the wife revealed that there was a “good chance” that the son he thought was his wasn’t his biological child. A few weeks before their wedding day, the wife got drunk at her bachelorette party and had a one-night stand with another man. Soon after that night, she became pregnant but was unsure who the father was.



The man was torn whether or not to have the paternity test done. The child had only one parent in this world, and he would have to take care of him regardless. He also thought it was cowardly that his former wife would wait until she was no longer around to share the truth with him.

dads, dna test, paternity test

A father and son playing with a train.

via Pavel Danilyuk/Pexels

“So she thought she’d rather drop this bomb on my life when I could no longer confront her about it,” the man wrote. “Now that my son would only have one parent looking out for him, and she’d have no idea how I would even react. Maybe I should not have got the paternity test done. Maybe it might be better to live in ignorance. But I just had to know.”

The man took the paternity test and learned he wasn’t the child’s biological father.

“I’m devastated. This doesn’t change how I feel about my son,” he wrote. “He’s my whole world and he’s innocent. But boy, does it hurt. There’s so much going on in my head right now. I haven’t stopped crying. Thank god my son is at my parents' place for the day. I’d hate for him to see me like this.”

Facing a pain nearly too much for him to bear, the only outlet he had at the moment was reaching out to Reddit to find some solace. “I just needed to let this all out. Don’t have it in me to tell anyone in my life about this right now,” he wrote.

The commenters send him hundreds of messages of support to get him through the shock of first learning the truth about his family.

dna test, paterneity test, sad dad

A depressed man sit on the couch.

via Alena Darmel/Pexels

The most popular message was straightforward and honest. "All your feelings are valid, a lot of people will react with some kind of toxic positivity to things like these. Your feelings are valid. Each and everyone," femunndsmarka wrote.

Another commenter added that someday, his son will appreciate how he stepped up and did what was right in a very trying circumstance. “He is going to find out the truth one day. Imagine how much more he will love you knowing you didn’t leave him, even though he wasn’t yours,” ImNotGoodatThis6969.

Another commenter provided valuable insight from the son’s perspective.

"As an adopted child, I just want to thank you on behalf of your son. I deeply believe it changes nothing, family is not about blood, its about who you love, want to have by your side, and care for the most. Sending hugs, strength and gratitude," Mariuuq wrote.

The father at the heart of this story is understandably devastated because his life was upended almost overnight. But the hope in the story is that his trials also taught him a powerful truth—his love for his son goes much deeper than blood.


This article originally appeared on 9.28.23




TikTokker Mackenzie Waddell shares a heartfelt story about her daughter.

A mother on TikTok shared a heartfelt moment when her 9-year-old daughter opened up about her self-image concerns, wondering about her appearance as she grows up. The story was a wonderful example of a mother delicately dealing with an issue that far too many young women face. It was also a difficult moment because the conversation brought up the mother's body issues as well.

The conversation happened while the two were clothes shopping at Target. “My 9-year-old’s saying she's fat, and this is because she has to wear adult sizes versus kids 'cause she's really tall, just like me,” Mackenzie Waddell told her 222,000 followers.


“She kept calling herself ‘fat’ and that she had too big of a butt and that the other kids her age don't have to wear adult clothes,” Waddell continued. “I reminded her that I, too, had to wear adult clothes when I was her age 'cause I was really tall just like she is.”

@missmommymack

Im so devastated that she feels that way about herself. 💔

The discussion led to a question that was hard for the mother to hear.

“... she asked me if she was gonna look like me when she grew up. And I asked her, ‘Do you mean big like me? When you grow up?’ And she said, ‘Yes. I'm not trying to be mean mom, but I want to look like Aunt Sarah, not you,’” she recalled.

Her daughter’s remarks hit her right in the heart, but she responded with perfect composure. "I kept a brave face and said, 'As long as you are happy and healthy, and you love yourself, that's all that matters. No matter what size you are,” Waddell said.

The mother was sure not to take it personally, but it still cut close to the bone. “And was I hurt? Yeah, I was. But she didn't mean to hurt me. It just really sucked. Yeah,” she concluded.

The post went viral, receiving over 1.7 million views and over 2,000 comments. The most popular commenter thought that Waddell should tell her daughter to avoid commenting on people’s weight.

"You should tell her she hurt your feelings. She needs to know. You did a great job supporting her in how she feels. She has to learn that skill also," Char8201 wrote.

However, many women responded with nothing but love for how Waddell handled such a challenging situation. "You responded beautifully, momma. She’s still learning and these are the moments where we provide that guidance, even when it hurts," Mavv13 wrote. "Oh mama. Thank god she feels comfortable to talk to you openly," tirrelltribe added.

After the tremendous response to her video, Waddell responded with another post, educating people about how one’s weight doesn’t necessarily mean they eat unhealthy. “A lot of people like to assume that plus-size people don’t know how to eat healthy or are unhealthy. When, in fact, we’re not,” Waddle said.

She added that her daughter lives a healthy lifestyle but avoids having conversations about weight with her because “That’s what traumatized me.”

@missmommymack

Replying to @user3838812846970 she will always be perfect, no matter what.

This article originally appeared on 9.28.23

@jfisher62/TikTok

"I had to unlearn it because it never was okay."


There is certainly no shortage of stories from women highlighting the glaring disparity between society’s expected responsibilities of husbands vs. wives. Some are a bit more lighthearted, poking fun at the absurdity. Others reflect utter frustration and had-it-up-to-here-edness with partners not doing their share of the work.

However, self-proclaimed “Clueless Husband” J Fisher’s honest, thoughtful retrospection on the subject shows that it’s not just female partners noticing that things need to change.

In a now-viral TikTok video, Fisher describes how he used to consider himself the “main character” of his relationship.


What exactly did that look like? Early on in his marriage, it looked something like this:

“Say we'd be going on a trip. My partner at that point in time would be doing the laundry, vacuuming the house, making sure the dishes were done. I would think, I would literally think like, ‘Well, yeah, we don't have to do that. That's you wanting to do that. It's not what I want to do,’” he explained in the clip.
@jfisher62 What NOT to do as a husband #fyp #husbandsoftiktok #wivesoftiktok #fairplay #parenting #feminism #dismantlethepatriarchy #relationship #marriage #support #partnering ♬ original sound - J Fisher

Fisher later shared how his wife would then get everything ready for said trip, while he would simply pack for himself. This continued even after they had kids. It became worse, actually.

“My partner would do all the work to get all of them ready to make sure they were bathed, snacks packed, and I would get myself ready.”

Looking back, Fisher can plainly see how this behavior was “not okay.” But how did he think this was acceptable in the first place? After some reflection, he realized that it was simply the standard being modeled to him from an early age.

“I saw my own father do this quite a bit where he would take care of his own needs. So, I know I didn't learn it from nowhere," he said. "But I also had to unlearn it because it never was okay. I thought that my role was to do all these things outside of the home and that the home was women's domain. I saw that modeled and even taught as the way it should be, but, oh my gosh, is that not partnership? And that sucks.”

After coming to this revelation, Fisher’s opinion is that if you approve of this division of labor, that you “shouldn’t be in a relationship.”

Hard to argue with that.

Hoping that he can further illustrate a better partnering mindset in a way that “may help it click for some guys,” Fisher has all kinds of insightful TikToks focused on taking accountability and expanding emotional intelligence. In them, he often names therapy, setting boundaries, finding community and accessing personal joy (rather than relying on a partner to fulfill all emotional needs) as major tools for creating a more equal relationship.

@jfisher62 Good intention ≠ Truly loving 💔😔 “I’m Sorry” doesn’t begin to do it justice. #fyp #foryoupage #marriage #longtermrelationship #partner #husbandsoftiktok #wivesoftiktok #accountability #healingjourney #grief#stagesofgrief #dabda #acceptance ♬ original sound - J Fisher

And perhaps the best part—there doesn’t seem to be so much shame around the subject. Fisher acknowledges his own goodwill while still admitting to displaying less-than-healthy behavior. It’s hard not to feel like if maybe this kind of honest, yet compassionate reexamination of gender stereotypes were more commonplace, we’d all collectively be a lot farther ahead.


This article originally appeared on 5.4.23