17 Reasons to Use Your Vacation Time This Year!

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Unlike many Americans, I’ve never had a problem taking vacation days. As a matter of fact, when I was a part of the 9-5 set, I’d use ALL of my sick, personal, and vacation days (and then some) when I needed a break or wanted to take a short excursion because…well, why not?

Despite owning a business and being a freelance writer & author, I don’t believe in working myself until I drop. I mean, there’s a thin line between grinding hard and going “Karōshi” (the Japanese term for “death from overwork”), and I intended to stay on this side of the living.

While most people won’t kill over from putting in extra hours at the office, pulling long shifts can reek havoc on your life, cause relationship drama, and generally suck.

But in case you need more reasons to cash in your vacation time and go on a trip (or just chill), here’s 17 reasons to use your vacation days THIS YEAR!

#1 Working too much can kill you, especially if you work overtime.

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Yes, seriously. Via the Guardian: “The research shows a 60% increase in heart-related illness such as non-fatal heart attacks and angina in those who work for three hours or more longer than a normal seven-hour day.”

#2 You don’t really need a new car.

I know you think you do, and I know they’re pretty, but if you have less than 100k (and maybe even 250k) miles on your hoopty, you need to keep the riding that sucker till the wheels fall off. And even then, they probably won’t. Don’t believe me? Via Forbes: “Today’s cars are built to last as long as 250,000 miles or more with simple routine care,” says ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician and Chicago Tribune auto-service columnist Bob Weber.

#3 Working too many hours can actually make you stupider.

You may think you can pull long hours without consequence, but working too much can actually damage your brain. A 2009 study, found “working hours may have a negative effect on cognitive performance in middle age,” including a decline in reasoning and vocabulary.

#4 Mexican food tastes so much better in Mexico (or in L.A., whichever’s closer).

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#5 You won’t have to yell at your kids to clean their room if you’re in a hotel.

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#6 There are no dishes to wash after dinner (and you don’t even have to cook!).

#7 You can act a fool without caring if anybody judges you (as long as you keep it off Facebook…and Instagram…and Twitter).

#8 You can have a drink (or 3!) with breakfast and not feel like an alcoholic.

#9 Taking a week off will make your boss appreciate you that much more.

#10 You can finally be the one flooding everybody’s Facebook feed with annoyingly awesome photos that make people hate-like them.

#11 You can finally read that book everybody was raving about three years ago.

#12 You’ve already binged-watched Scandal, House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black; your weekends are wide open.

#14 Wait, your passport is about to expire, and you still don’t have any stamps yet?

Seriously? Daaaaamn homie.

#15 You’re young, single, and ready to mingle

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#16 You’re not so young, married, and have a couple of kids; who needs a break more than you?

#17 You’ve only got 2 weeks off, USE THEM!

Got more reasons to use your vacation days? Leave them below! 

5 Books That Let You Travel from the Comfort of Your Couch

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Let’s face it. Traveling can be expensive. No matter how many deals, travel hacks, and coupons you rack up, sometimes you just can’t afford to take the trip that you want.

I should know. I’d love to hop on a plane and head to a number of far-flung destinations, but at the moment, that’s just not possible (unless I go into some serious debt). So in lieu of pulling out my Visa card, I reach for my library card instead.

Books are amazing. They can teach us about a multitude of things—how to make money (so we can travel), getting out of debt (so we can travel), starting a business (so we can travel), being a better lover (so we can have more fun while we travel)—but they can also transport us around the word in an instant. I mean, that’s what I look for in a book. In addition to a compelling story, I almost always choose books that are set in a different location than where I live.

So without further adieu, here are 5 books that will help you travel around the world without leaving your couch.

#1 Passing Love

Passing Love follows Nicole-Marie Handy as she explores the streets of Paris to uncover a family secret. Although she’s always been drawn to all things French since finding a little blue English-French dictionary among her parent’s things, she decides to finally go to France once her relationship with her longtime (married) beau fizzles out. Passing Love takes readers through the alleyways, museums, clubs, and little known sections of the City of Lights (buy it here).

# 2 Americanah

Americanah is a love story that stretches from the collegial streets of Princeton, NJ and trendy lofts of New York, to parlors in London and sprawling estates in Lagos, Nigeria.  The book follows Ifemelu and Obinze as they both struggle to adjust to their new lives in their respective countries. And while they both ultimately achieve success, their paths are completely different, painfully difficult, and extremely enthralling. Americanah will not only make at you look at the immigrant experience differently, but it’ll have you researching flights to Lagos (buy it here).

# 3 She’s Gone

Kweme Dawes’ novel She’s Gone is another love story that is fraught with explorations of class, mental illness, and colorism. It traces the unlikely relationship between Keisha, a Columbia University researcher, and Kofi, the Jamaican front man of a reggae band. The story begins in South Carolina and quickly moves to Jamaica as Kofi and Keisha try to make their unconventional relationship work (buy it here).

#4 Ghana Must Go

Ghana Must Go begins with the death of Kweku, the patriarch of a sprawling, high-achieving, dysfunctional clan, and follows as his brood struggles to deal with his death, and their own rifts. Much like her mentor Toni Morrison’s work, newcomer Taiye Selasi’s novel moves through time and space to transport readers from Accra to Lagos to London to New York and back (buy it here).

#5 Another Country

In my eyes, James Baldwin can do no wrong. Like, at all. In Another Country Baldwin delivers a complicated novel that expertly deals with racism, sex, drugs, art and interracial coupling in the 1970s. Primarily set in Greenwich Village, Another Country follows its characters through the streets of Harlem, jazz joints in Manhattan, and the villas of France (buy it here).

Bonus: Turn It Loose

After she gets fired from her job at the L.A. Weekly, Jaylah Baldwin has to decide whether she’ll try to get a new, lower paying writing gig or if she’ll do something crazy and buy a ticket to London. She chooses the latter and gets way more than she bargained for. Ok, so this one qualifies as “shameless self promotion,” but my first novella Turn It Loose transports readers from Los Angeles to the neighborhoods, pubs, and dance halls of London (buy it here).

Do you read to travel from your couch? Share your favorite books in the comments section below! 

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from Amazon if you make a purchase using the provided book links.

7 Travelers of Color Who Will Inspire You to Hit the Road

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Buzzfeed recently released an article profiling 11 people who have ditched their ho hum lives to travel the world. And while their stories are all awesome (like Ying Tey who was inspired to hit the road after her mother died), their list looks decidedly…pale.

Not one Black or Latino nomad made the list, which struck many of my Facebook friends (several of whom are avid travelers) as strange. I mean, how hard would it have been to profile the Nomadness crew, which boasts over 6,000 multicultural travelers? Or, you know, Google?

But because I’m pretty used to NOT waiting for the world to recognize the accomplishments of those who look like me I decided to put together my own list.

So here are 7 travels of color who will inspire you to hit the road:

Oneika Raymond – Oneika the Traveler

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I’m not sure where Oneika HASN’T been (seriously), but the list HAS to be terribly short. Her blog, Oneika the Traveler, is FULL of travel stories and tips on how to see the world. I had the pleasure of meeting Oneika when I visited London and she was one of the nicest, most welcoming people I’ve ever met—and it shows in her writing. She’s been profiled in the Huffington Post and National Geographic and has filed stories for American Airlines’ Black Atlas and other outlets. If you’re thinking about taking a trip mosey on over to her blog to see if she’s been there first.

Evita Turquoise Robinson – Nomadness Travel Tribe

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Nearly 3 years ago Evita Robinson decided to create the Nomadness Travel Tribe, a Facebook group of wily voyagers from all over the globe, and united them together for one cause: To see the world. Since organizing the tribe, Evita has led trips to Panama, India, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Bali, and across the US in the hopes of inspiring other young people of color to get a passport and see the world. What are you waiting for?

Greg Gross – I’m Black & I Travel

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Need help planning for a trip? Want to know when’s the best time to buy your plane ticket or what to expect from the TSA? Greg Gross has you covered! His site, I’m Black and I Travel keeps would-be adventurers up to date on EVERYTHING they need to know before they head out.

Heather Greenwood Davis – Globe Trotting Mama

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Think having a family means you can’t travel the world? Psh! Heather Greenwood and her family decided to pull their two kids out of school for a year, sell their things, and embark on a trip of a lifetime. National Geographic named them as Travelers of the Year (2013), and the Davis family certainly deserves it. In their year as nomads, they visited 29 countries and documented it all on the awesome blog, Globe Trotting Mama.

Carol Cain – Girl Gone Travel

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Carol is another mother who proves that traveling with a family is not only possible, it can also be pretty easy (and fun!). Carol started blogging in 2008 under the moniker, NYCity Mama, but soon realized that her love of travel was calling her to explore (and write about) more than just the 5 boroughs. Carol and her family—three sons + her hubby—regularly head out on weekend jaunts, summer road trips, and international excursions, and she documents all of their awesome adventures on her site, Girl Gone Travel. 

Bayyina Black – The Planet Blaster

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Need more than pictures to get you interested in seeing the world? Bayyina has you covered. Through her blog and YouTube channel, Bayyina offers tips, tricks, and hacks for those itching to put some stamps in their passport. Be get ready: Bayyina is a fireball, full of spunk and heart. After watching her vids you’ll want to book a trip now. Like, RIGHT NOW!

Nneka – Afros y Paella

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Ok, so technically this isn’t a travel blog per se; Nneka isn’t hopping on a plane every weekend to check out a hot new destination. But as the tagline of her blog Afros y Paella explains, it’s “an African woman’s Spanish journey through food, culture and spirit.” Nneka is currently teaching English in Spain, but what makes her blog so dope is her writing—brilliant, honest, and lush. If she doesn’t make you want to jump on a plane and visit Spain ASAP, I’m not sure what will. In the meantime, get you a big ol’ bowl of Afros y Paella.

Do you love to travel? Who is your favorite travel blogger of color?