Weekly Digest: August 26, 2016

Ahlan (hi in Egyptian Arabic)! Here is your weekly dose of my best tips for how to travel the world while your grow your career and make a difference.

Travel the world

Alternative route flight hacking is the easiest and most reliable flight hack I use on almost every big trip. It has saved me thousands of dollars on international flights and has allowed me visit dozens of new cities. If you have time flexibility, do not simply search for flight options between two cities. Look at all the cheapest flights departing from your city and all the cheapest flights arriving to your destination. This week, I needed to book a flight from Reykjavik to Cairo. The flight was expensive, but there were cheap flights to places like London, Dublin, Copenhagen, and Stockholm. I then searched all European flights to Cairo and found great deals from Stockholm – which overlapped and was a city I wanted to visit. I booked both flights separately. I could have flown out the same day if I wanted, but I included a few extra days to explore Sweden. This lets me see a new country and save nearly $200 at the same time. Once you get comfortable with this tactic, you can combine even more cities. I recently flew from Cairo > New Orleans, and was able to work in short visits to Athens, Bucharest, Oslo, and New York City for less than any result that Kayak or Skyscanner gave me when searching for flights from Cairo to New Orleans. Of course, you have to optimize for time and comfort and I would not recommend four layovers if you did not have the time or desire to explore those cities! This usually does not work for cities with many direct flights (e.g., Chicago to New York City), remember to be pragmatic about the cost and benefit (e.g., do not add a long layover to save $5), and make sure you have enough time to catch the next flight (the second airlines may not be obligated to rebook you). If you would like more details, I provided step-by-step instructions with screenshots on this this Quora post.

Grow your career

Life is a Picture, But You Live in a Pixel by Tim Urban is a short and illustrated blog post that is core to my career and life philosophy. Through the entertaining story of Jack’s relationship with a series of Todays, Tim explains how our life looks, to an outsider far away, like a complete picture of an epic story – leading us to assume that the key to happiness lies in the broad components of the image. Each uneventful Today is simply an unsatisfactory temporary relationship on your way to that desired Tomorrow where it will all be different. However, we instead spend each moment of our actual reality in one small, potentially unremarkable “Today pixel” of that image. The error in brushing off a mundane Wednesday and focusing only on the big picture is that the mundane Wednesday is the experience of actual life. Please read this article at whatever stage of life you are in and make sure to enjoy the journey – not just thinking it will be different once you get that promotion, become your own boss, have a different manager, sell your company, or retire. Use your gifts to do what you enjoy and are good at, do it with people you like, and be grateful every day. Enjoy the pixels, my friends, it’s all we have.

Make a difference

If you own long-term appreciated stocks in the U.S., donating the stock instead of cash helps the charity and has significant tax benefits to you. If you sell the stock in order to donate cash, you have to pay capital gains taxes and as a result, have less to give and write-off from your taxes as a charitable donation. However, if you simply donate the stock to the charity and they sell it, they do not have to pay taxes because of their 501c3 status. This not only puts more money in their pocket instead of the IRS, but it also allows you to have a higher tax deduction since you can write off the entire appreciated amount from your taxable income as a charitable donation. The charity gets more money and you get a double tax break. If you invest and donate to charity, this is a no brainer. Please note that you should not do this if it is a short-term investment (held for less than a year) or if the stock has lost value.

Fun updates:

Thanks for reading and have an awesome weekend!


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