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Category: Life Hacks

5 Hacks to Take The Scenic Route More Often

When a lot of people take a road trip, they want to get there as fast possible with stops only for gas, food, and sleep. Then, there are those that want to make sure that their road trip turns into a full-on journey that’s filled with sights, sounds, and plenty of great memories. Those that haven’t done it before should try making their trip a bit more scenic, but might not be sure how to do it.

For everyone that’s trying to make their road trip better and take the scenic route more often, there are a few hacks that you should know about. These little tips will make sure that you get the trip that most people can only dream about, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Take The Road Less Traveled

If you would like to experience more breathtaking scenery on your trips, try taking the less traveled route, or even planning out your own specific route. Of course, it’s great to take the popular route and see all the touristy areas have to offer. 

Some things are worth jumping on the bandwagon for. Though, if you want to experience something new and unseen by the general public you should definitely stray from the path, safely of course. 

Go To Tourist Destinations

Although you could go where most travelers don’t, there’s a reason must-see destinations are so popular. There’s nothing wrong with flocking to the coolest places. If you want a low-key experience, try going to these destinations during the time of year that isn’t bombarded by tourists. 

Usually, states, cities, and countries advertise specific landmarks to visit or scenic trips they encourage people to take. You can plan your trip around the must-see destinations and travel the scenic route while you make your way through them. 

Travel a Certain Time of Year

Traveling is a fantastic way to see and take in all the world has to offer. Make it an even better experience by traveling at different periods throughout the year. Even if you travel to the same place, the changing seasons and atmosphere will make you feel like you’re taking an entirely new trip. 

Much like how leaf peepers love traveling to the New England area, or Midwest area to see the changing color of the leaves and gorgeous autumn scenery, visiting a place during a particularly beautiful time of year makes all the difference. So plan your trips around the time of year you’ll get the most stunning scenery if you can. 

Take Different Methods of Travel

One tip that you may have overlooked is taking different modes of transportation to get a different view of scenic areas. Traveling by train, bus, car, plane, boat, bicycle, or even walking will all give you differing views of the most scenic places. 

Traveling by air will give you an amazing, often unseen view of beautiful places you’ve probably only seen on ground level. Ground travel will give you a much more personal and up-close look, as well as the ability to pause, explore, and take in the views. 

Take the Long Way Home

Oftentimes when traveling we have a sense of urgency to get to our destination as quickly and efficiently as possible. Taking the time to slow down and take the route that’s seen as “out of the way” is a great way to make a scenic drive out of the most mundane driving tasks. 

Sure it takes some time, but that’s okay and not everything has to be rushed. If you’re able to take the time to leave for a trip early or take the time to travel the backroads on your way home, it’ll give you time to unwind and enjoy taking in sights you don’t often get the chance to see when you take the fastest, hurried route. 

Struggling With Medical Bills? Here’s 5 Things You Can Do

Mounting medical bills can drain the bank accounts of everyday people and place enormous pressure on those still in recovery. It’s no secret that health care costs increase annually at a rate that exceeds the ability of working community members to cover them. If you are among the many who required a medical procedure that created seemingly insurmountable debt, you are not alone. The good news is that others have been down this road and resolved the burden of medical debt. These are 5 strategies that may help you as well.

1: Check the Medical Bills for Accuracy

A myth exists that hospitals and other medical facilities are highly organized and always professionally run. In terms of treatment and care, that usually holds true. But when it comes to the billing department, not so much.

A study indicates that upwards of 80 percent of all medical bills contain one or more errors. Needless to say, the billing errors generally result in inflated costs and may include treatment that never occurred. One of the most common instances of over-billing involves duplicate charges for medication, scans, and procedures. Your indebtedness could decline dramatically by checking medical statements thoroughly and questioning items.

2: Leverage Legally Required Reductions

Owing money to a health care provider is very different from other forms of debt. For instance, the Affordable Care Act requires non-profits to offer low-income people financial assistance and services reductions. Not-for-profit organizations usually post their policies for clients to review. If you check the right boxes, contact the outfit and request a reduction.

3: Negotiate a Reasonable Payment Schedule or Reduction

A 2021 study discovered that 93 percent of people who negotiated with health care providers saw the cost lowered or wiped out. Creditors are also keenly aware that people sinking in debt could file for bankruptcy. When that happens, the court could erase that debt completely and the party owed money gets zero.

That’s why experienced professionals overseeing a billing department are generally amenable to structuring a realistic payment plan. This entails you making affordable and consistent monthly installments over a set period.

4: Use Borrowing Resources Wisely

It’s not uncommon for people recovering from surgery or debilitating ailments to feel enormous pressure over their health care debt. Collection letters, emails, and phone calls increase stress levels. Don’t be surprised if debt collectors offer to put the tab on a credit card and make the calls stop. Paying with a credit card does not necessarily resolve the financial problem. In fact, given the high-interest rates of many credit cards, using plastic could exacerbate the problem.

Homeowners are uniquely positioned to leverage the equity they’ve accumulated to secure a low-interest loan. Home equity loans are considered secured and lenders offer among the lowest interest rates possible. However, a second mortgage involves carrying two monthly payments and puts your home at risk if you default.

5: Consider Accepting a Helping Hand

A wide range of charitable resources are available to people in need. Consider running an online search for non-profits in your area dedicated to supporting ailing community members. And a great many people have garnered financial support by simply posting a GoFundMe page that speaks to your condition and expense. Good people you may not know are there to help. And if pride stands in the way, keep in mind those who give generously feel good about making a difference, and recognise that anyone could find themselves in the situation you’re currently in.

5 Ways to Have a Memorable City Break

It’s all the rage in travel. A city break means you take a holiday and explore one large city like New York or Boston. Like all things travel, though, there are ways to make it even better. So what can you do to make your next city break memorable? 

1. Keep It Centralized

Your lodging should be as central as possible. You may be tempted by inexpensive hotels and rentals on the outskirts of town, especially if you are on a tight budget. Take into consideration how long it will take you to get to the places you want to see. Also, how will you get there, and how much will that cost? 

Finding a central location might not only be more time efficient, but it could also save you money. Look for something central to what you want to see and, if necessary, near public transportation. 

2. Plan Ahead and Book In Advance

If you want to get the most from your city break, don’t just wing it. Plan and know what sites and events you want to see. If there are specific restaurants or shows on your itinerary, book reservations and buy tickets before you leave. That way, you won’t be disappointed and might even be able to go to the front of the line if people are waiting. 

3. Don’t Think Like a Tourist

If you want to make your trip memorable, look for the hidden treasures in the city. Every city has them, but often people visiting get so caught up being tourists they miss them. If you’ve been to the town before or want something different, do some homework while planning your holiday. Look for the must-see places that are off the beaten path. 

4. Take Plenty of Walking Tours

If your goal is to get to know the city, this is the way to do it. You’ll find walking tours in historic neighborhoods that will introduce you to the customs and history of the area. Most walking tours are short enough that you can go back and explore the things that they went by too quickly on the tour. It’s a great way to find the things that interest you if you are unsure. 

5. Pick a Theme

Maybe this trip you’ll focus on food. Use your city break to explore the local cuisine in the various neighborhoods. Look for markets, craft beer distilleries, and wineries in the area. What is the specialty of the city? If you are exploring Kansas City, you might decide to try the best BBQ places in town. If you are headed to Philly, those cheesesteaks are waiting for you. 

It doesn’t have to be food, though. You might focus on museums, art galleries, or amusement parks. Just pick a singular or a few related themes to make the trip memorable. 

Taking a city break can save you travel time and give you a chance to fall in love with one of the world’s great places.. 

 

Self-Sufficient in the City: 5 Tips to get you started

City life might be convenient on one hand, but if you are looking to adopt a more self-sufficient lifestyle it might put up a few barriers. It doesn’t have to be that way though. With a little creativity and a lot of determination, you can find ways to be more self-reliant even when you live in the heart of a major city like Manhattan or Seattle.

Here’s where you start.

Grow a Garden

There’s no denying that fruits and veggies fresh from the garden beat produce from the grocery store. The good news is, you don’t need a huge plot of land and a big garden to grow your own food. Urban gardening is becoming increasingly popular and you can do it in a space as small as an apartment balcony. Whether you choose to grow a container garden, square foot garden, or a tower garden – or grow edibles n your window boxes, you can definitely enjoy food fresh from your very own mini garden.

Delve into Food Preservation

Of course, when you are getting fresh food from your garden you will probably want to find ways to preserve your produce so you can enjoy it all year long. Freezing and canning are time-tested food preservation methods that go back hundreds of years. But did you know that you can also preserve meats and sauces as well? Purchase meat from local farmers and preserve that along with your garden fare and you will not only live a more sustainable lifestyle, you’ll save a ton of money to boot.

Choose Composting

Cooking all of those fresh fruits and vegetables that you grow in your garden can generate a lot of waste. Add to that egg shells and other parts of your food that you discard and you have a great foundation for composting, breaking down that waste into soil that is nutrient rich and great for your garden. You don’t need a huge composting bin for this either. Get a small rotating bin and toss your waste in there. They don’t take up much room and can usually fit easily on your balcony or patio if you live in an apartment.

Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies and Toiletries

This has become extremely popular over the last few years as people become more aware of the chemicals and toxins that are in most of the cleaning products and toiletries that line store shelves. You don’t need any fancy ingredients for most products; they can usually be found at your local grocery store or health food market. The beauty of this is that you can select your own ingredients and even the scents you love. There are tons of recipes on the internet so starting up is a breeze.

Mind Your Space

Many people think that being self-sufficient means living on a huge chunk of land way out in the boonies. That isn’t necessarily true though. You really don’t need a bunch of space if you can manage the smaller space that you are in. When you live in the city, space tends to be limited, but if you mind your space and utilize it wisely, you can create an urban self-reliant lifestyle right where you are.

A little creativity can go a long way when you are embarking on a self-sufficient lifestyle adventure. Do your research, make your plans, then make it happen. You can live the self-reliant lifestyle that you want and you don’t need 50 acres to do it.

How to Make Food Safe Disinfectants

Kitchens are gross. “Not mine,” you think. Of course. You clean your kitchen and keep it spotless. 

 

Unfortunately, your kitchen is gross too. Even when it looks pristine, it’s crawling with microbes, and many of them are dangerous. Unless you’re using a good disinfectant, you aren’t getting rid of those microbes.

 

And, for someone who is into self-sufficiency or homesteading, powerful disinfectants aren’t always easy to come by. Fortunately, you can make your own disinfectants that are safe for the kitchen and won’t hurt you if you use them on cooking tools or preparation surfaces.

 

Now, both of these disinfectants do require ingredients that are hard to make from scratch, but you can get them in bulk and still maintain your self-sufficiency.

 

Mix Bleach and Water

 

This is one of the easiest things you can do, and when you do it right, it’s a very safe, very effective disinfectant. All you need is regular bleach from the store and tap water (and something to hold your mixture).

 

It all comes down to getting the ratio right. You want to use one teaspoon of bleach for every quart of water. You can scale that up or down as long as you keep the ratio right—just like adjusting the size of a batch of cookies.

 

With this ratio, you have enough bleach to kill germs, but it’s not enough to hurt you (probably still don’t drink it). You can use this to sanitize dishes, utensils, and cooking surfaces, but there are a few things to keep in mind. In fact, many restaurants use this exact mixture to sanitize everything.

 

First, this mixture only stays potent for about a week, and that’s only if you store it in a sealed bottle. Also, you should store it in a dark place.

 

Second, this is a disinfectant. You don’t use it to scrub the dishes or surfaces. Do all of the scrubbing first. Then, when things appear clean, you apply the bleach mixture, and it kills any lingering microbes.

 

Just Use Vinegar

 

If the last one seems too tricky, or if you don’t have access to bleach, you can use vinegar instead – although you should never mix the two. Specifically, white distilled vinegar can disinfect surfaces. You need a five-percent vinegar mixture, and, fortunately, that’s the standard percentage sold at stores.

 

You don’t have to mix anything with the vinegar; it’s a disinfectant all its own. But, it’s not quite as potent as the bleach mixture. The bleach mixture can kill germs in about a minute. Vinegar will need to stay in contact with the surface for around 10 minutes to really be effective.

 

If you can add heat, that’s a lot better. Above 130℉, white vinegar becomes more potent. It kills more germs and does it a lot faster.

 

That covers it. These are two disinfectants that are perfectly safe to use in a kitchen, and you can make them at home. If you’re looking to make your own bleach or vinegar from scratch, that’s a lot more complicated and a lot riskier. So, take advantage of modern conveniences, and you can keep your kitchen perfectly clean.

 

7 Tips To Raise Your Profile On Facebook

Facebook can be a powerful way to build your personal brand or promote your business. But to be effective, your profile needs to be seen by lots of people, and it needs to draw in new followers. Whether you’re using this social media site for work or play, the tactics to get more attention are the same. Use these tips to raise your profile. 

 

1. Post consistently but not too much. 

 

To raise your Facebook profile, you need to increase engagement. This requires you to post regularly, but not too much. Facebook posts are like basic economics. You need to get the balance right between supply and demand. 

 

Ideally, you need to provide just enough information to entice and engage your followers. But you also need to ensure that you don’t dilute demand by over posting. 

 

2. Post when people are online. 

 

No one wants to engage with a dead thread. To get people to engage with your posts, you need to post when they’re online. As a general rule of thumb, people tend to engage with social media the most during school or work hours — that’s Monday through Friday from 9 am to 3 pm.

But the time frame can vary based on your friend group or your industry. Learn when the people you want to target are online, and kick off the conversation then. 

 

3. Keep the conversation going. 

 

Don’t just post and leave. Engage with the people who comment on your posts. Find ways to keep the conversation going. Also, make sure that your profile is public.

If it’s private, only you and your followers will be able to see the conversation. In contrast, public posts will often appear on the pages of friends of friends. This can help you build exposure and expand your network. 

 

4. Include visuals with words. 

 

Don’t limit your Facebook posts to words. Play with different visual elements such as photographs and videos. Visual posts tend to get a lot more engagement than posts that are just written. 

 

5. Learn from other Facebook users. 

 

When you’re trying to create anything, you can learn a lot from other people. Look at Facebook posts that get a lot of engagement and reposts. What makes them stand out? Are they edgy? Humorous? Informative? Figure out what they’re doing right and embrace those tactics when you create your Facebook posts. 

 

6. Post polls or ask questions.

 

To get people to engage, ask them directly by posting a poll or a survey. Or ask them to share their favorite recipe, book, life hack, or whatever is topical on your page. People love to share their thoughts and ideas, but they’re more likely to share when they’re invited to do so.  As indicated above, this tactic works best when your profile is public. 

 

7. Put your name on memes. 

 

Reposts are a common way to get more attention to your Facebook profile. But you need to ensure that you get credited for the original post. If you create a meme or make a video, make sure that it has your business or personal name on it. Then, anyone who enjoys the post can follow it back to its source — you. 

 

Most importantly, have fun. People want to engage with people and brands who fill their lives with delight. The more you enjoy posting, the better you will get at it. 

 

5 Fundamentals Of Disaster Prep

From a 500-year flood to devastating tornadoes to a pandemic, disasters can take many forms. And in these instances, a little prep can be the difference between comfortably waiting it out or worrying about where your next meal will come from.

When it comes to prep, realize you’re not planning for the end of the world. In most disasters, having 1-2 weeks of emergency supplies is more than enough. Just make sure you have these 5 fundamentals covered.

1. Shelter

Your home will most likely be your shelter during a disaster. It’s where you store supplies and plan to stay until it’s safe to leave.

Here, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for living without electricity or running water. You’ll want to have items like charcoal, candles, flashlights, batteries, walkies, and some kind of generator. 

2. Safety & Hygiene

Safety is anything that allows you to keep your family safe. Whatever that means to you, you’ll want to take those steps.

Having good locks on your doors is a start. During a disaster, even desperate people won’t usually go into a locked home. This is for their own safety and because they don’t want to hurt anyone.

You’ll want windows you can open if it’s hot, and lots of blankets to keep people warm if it’s cold. 

Safety also includes hygiene to reduce the risk of spreading disease. Here, you’ll want to have items like toilet paper, sanitizing wipes, and water-disinfecting tablets.

3. Water

Experts recommend one gallon of water per person per day in your home. If that sounds like a lot, realize you may need this for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Start by stocking up for 72 hours, which will cover most disasters. Then increase to a 1- to 2-week supply if you have the space. Remember to buy any supplies such as water slowly so that you don’t strain your budget or deprive other local people of these goods.

If you have pets, make sure you have food and water for them too!

4. Food

At the very least, you’ll want to have 3 days of non-perishable food in your home. Canned and dried foods work best here. Sardines, crackers, canned vegetables and soups, nuts, and dried fruit are great for this.

But only buy food you’ll actually eat. You’re going to eat this food eventually, either because it’s about to go bad or you have a disaster.

If it’s part of your emergency stores, make sure you have a way to cook it. Eating uncooked, dried beans will make you sick. Anything canned should be okay cold since the canning process cooks it.

Cycle through your stores periodically to reduce spoilage. Then replenish it.

5. First Aid

During a disaster you may not be able to fill your prescription or see a doctor. So as you continue to prep for a disaster, build out your first aid kit with items to disinfect, tourniquet, bandage, and stitch up. Always try to stay at least 2 weeks ahead of running out of a life-saving prescription like insulin, inhaler, or heart medicine. 

Consider taking an online first aid class and practicing these skills at home. Now, you’re ready to face most disasters comfortably, safely, and with peace of mind.

A final tip, which could be the most important, is to say hi to your neighbours and volunteer once a week at a local charity. Actually knowing, and looking out for, the people around you is the best way to have people you can count on in a tough situation. If the worst does happen, having a community of reliable people who trust you nearby will be the most important commodity of all.