Hobby #1 : Traveling

by Chris Sanchez


It's been a month since I promised to start posting on a more regular basis. So here is "hobby" number one.

I'm very lucky that I get to travel as a part of my job. This helps itch the need of my travel desires while saving lots of money in the process. When you travel quite a bit you pick up on lots of tips and tricks that make the process easier for yourself and others. I'm here to try and impart some of my knowledge in the hope it'll not only help you while traveling, but selfishly, to help others (like me) as well. 

 

Apps

Let's talk Apps first and foremost. We all have smartphones running our lives these days (I'm actually typing this on my iPhone while enjoying breakfast in Dublin, Ireland) and they are certainly useful traveling tools. Never has navigating a foreign land, be it country city or town, been so easy. 

The very first app you should have is Citymapper. This app is amazing in so many ways. I just wish it was available in all cities but it does cover the major cities quite well so odds are it'll be available where you're going. There are many write ups on this app but just know it'll calculate time and cost wherever you'd like to go whether by taxi, public transit or Uber. 

The next app you should have is by whichever airline you're flying. These can be super useful in allowing you to check in, change reservations, update information or book travel. Once you get status with an airline you can even change seats or request upgrades on the fly. 

The same pretty much goes for the hotel you're staying at as well. Download the app and see what advantages they give you. Hilton allows you the ability to check in and choose your room. SPG you can check in and use your phone as your room key. They are each making improvements and helping to streamline the hotel experience. 

The next couple apps are users' choice. Tripit and Tripcase essentially do the same thing in slightly different user experiences. They will aggregate all your travel into a nice itinerary and remind you when to check in to you flight or hotel. Some of the time this can be repetitive if you also have the apps mentioned above but it is nice to see all of your travel in one place. These pull in your information from emails received and you can also update manually if something isn't there or is incorrect. 

For business travelers who need to track expenses the best is Expensify but it's only useful of your company pays for their services. If your company, like mine, uses something else then you should download Genius Scan. You can take pictures or import your receipts, clean them up, make notes and track them while you travel. This will make your receipts easy to sort through once you complete your trip and need to submit them. 

Needless to say the well known apps that people love and most likely have already but are still handy include Yelp, Google Maps, Uber and Lyft

 

Rewards

What good is all that traveling if you can't get something in return for it? Well there are people who've made their career about this very thing (ThePointsGuy for instance) but I won't go into as much detail since you can spend days reading up on your options. 

I will say, at the very least, sign up for any and every membership that is offered when it comes to hotels, airlines and car rentals. They are free to join and right away you can start acquiring points and even in some cases free wifi, bottled water and other perks. There are multipliers for points once you reach certain levels of membership but you can't get there if you don't sign up. Also, if you're trying to earn points on a particular airline and you fly a partner airline of theirs, make sure to enter your airline membership number in which you want to accumulate points at the time of booking and not for the airline you're actually flying. 

Why care about points? Points get you free flights, free hotel rooms, and free car rentals. (YAY we all love free stuff! Don't we?) This can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars while going on vacation. 

There's certainly more we can delve into around travel but I'll let you digest what's here and cover more at a later time.

 

Happy Travels!


Hobbies and Interests and... Bears!? Oh My!

by Chris Sanchez


I've written previously about a well balanced life and feel it's important. "What hobbies do you have?" Is a common question that you get when talking with people and I used to respond; "I don't really have any." This was wrong but I wasn't putting together that my interests are indeed "hobbies" even if they aren't in the traditional sense like wood working or model building. 

Hobbies are an important aspect to keeping happy, healthy and focused in life (or perhaps distracted). 

Photography, travel, tv shows, movies, video games; The list goes on and everyone has different interests that they prefer. I myself love both relaxing and working with my hands so depending on which mood I'm in will determine what I might do on any given day. I tend to get excited or motivated at certain times where I'm all about working with my hands and that outlet tends to end up having to do something with my car. Other times I'll just want to kick my feet up and enjoy some entertainment whether it's sports on the tv or a movie. 

Interestingly enough, time of year also plays into account. Sports are year round and I enjoy watching or going to live sporting events but the type of sport may determine how I'm enjoying it. Winter is when I can hit the mountains and do some snowboarding while the other seasons I don't have a personal sport of choice. 

Im going to explore the various hobbies and interests I have in upcoming posts. I tend to use this as an outlet to express myself but if I happen to help inform or inspire others with what I write, all the better.


Stop and Breathe for Inspiration at 30k Feet.

by Chris Sanchez


Yes it has been 10 months since my last post. I'm fully aware but in my defense... ok it's the same boring excuses I've always used. I lead a (seemingly) busy life but I recently got inspiration to post again so here I am.

Ok now that we're all good I will continue. I've always been intrigued by "self help-esque" and betterment books, articles, etc. I have a strong drive to keep pushing forward. Whether that's in my career, in relationships, or just in myself. This is what leads me to read and be interested in this genre of information. Some of the recent books include: Play It Away10% Happier and The Charisma Myth. The underlying principles for most of these are very similar in nature however I think it's the persistence in the messaging that really drives home the initiatives for me.

The most recent article that sparked my interest to really write this article was "33 Ways To Be An Insanely Productive, Happy Balanced Person." I feel like I'm similar to most online readers as I'm attracted to "Lists" of most types, except I typically avoid the BuzzFeed lists because let's be honest, they aren't THAT great. Anyways, the items within the article itself are pretty solid but they aren't really what encouraged me to write once again in almost a year.

What did was the final line of the article; "Keep balance, keep working and stay happy!" I read this and at that very instant I thought, I am truly happy. I know I'm typically not a "sour puss" to those who know me because I always try to keep a positive demeanor but it's always a long road to happiness. Of course it's not a state to be forever in but that's really to goal, at least for me it is. I want to be as happy a person as I can for as many hours, minutes, seconds in a row that I can be. At this moment and for the time being I'm truly happy. I may be shoved in a tight airplane seat, 30k feet above the Colorado/Utah boarder heading home to the Bay but it's not stopping me from being happy. I love my job. It may get on my nerves and I may have issues with certain aspects but overall it's a fantastic job. My coworkers, many of whom I can call friends, are amazing, hardworking people. The work isn't rocket science but it takes a certain skill to perform at a high level and succeed at it. I've gotten into a great groove in being happy with who I am and comfortable in my own skin. I'd say the personal development piece has always been in motion since I can remember but it's a long road and will continue to be a challenge for self improvement and self love. I'm just happy I can acknowledge that I'm in a cohesive place in life. Living on my own for the last 15 months has really taught me to enjoy the time I get to spend with myself. It has also shown me where someone else can present themselves and make you happy in a different kind of way. Unfortunately things simply don't fall into place magically on their own. It does take work on your part to take the reigns and "get shit done" as an old Bluekai saying goes. Now it seems like I'm rambling a bit. My apologies. Moving on.

I just want more people to be happy. Stop, breathe and feel the sun on your face. Taking just a minute to be thankful in the moment does wonders for your attitude and outlook. Things won't be perfect all the time but it's important to do your part in being happy. Now I will go back to my never ending self improvement. And of course remember... Keep balance, keep working and stay happy!

 

 

 

 


Sporadic Life

by Chris Sanchez


My posts seem to be further apart these days. Life is busy but then again when is it not. I can't always use that excuse for my neglect here as well as the rest of my life. I think about people with "real" problems or even kids. Now they truly don't have time to themselves. I live on my own. No roommates to bother me when I get home. No one in the shower or using the kitchen. I should have all the time in the world. But after work all I want to do is shut off my brain, melt into my couch and laugh to comedians making with the funny on At Midnight. This isn't always possible though because I have some inner drive that kicks me in the ass and gets me to the gym 3-4 times a week. Lately I've been going 5 days a week and that's no easy task. It takes time and dedication but if I can make it work with the gym I need to dedicate that effort to other facets of my life.

Dating sucks and it's expensive. I feel even with online dating I could go on 100 dates, spend way too much money and not find the girl for me. Options these days are seemingly unlimited and completely limiting at the same time. I was listening to an NPR segment regarding the world of dating and how when you run the numbers for your preferences in an ideal match you get down to nearly zero potential matches. It's tough for me to imagine "settling" for the rest of my life just to not spend it alone. It doesn't seem fair to me or her. But that seems to be how society has operated for thousands of years before the internet and endless options were around. I don't know if I'll be able to find the ideal match for me using the internet and dating apps but I'll make sure to kick that personal drive into overtime to make sure I don't settle.


The Jailbroken World of an iPhone User

by Chris Sanchez


The iOS 7 launch is all the rage today and rightfully so. Millions of people will update their iPhones and this is clearly the future direction for Apples mobile OS. But there's another world that a minority of us are a part of and the newest iOS won't be truly exciting until it's jailbroken by our genius hacker community. I am sad to lose my jailbroken capabilities in order to upgrade to the new iPhone 5s but I'll surely be counting the days until I'm back in my comfort zone with a clean, untethered jailbreak. Apple made some good strides and I think the newest generation software is definitely an upgrade in the right direction but jailbreaking offers so many more advantages.

Key things to note before detailing my favorite and most used "hacks" if you will. Jailbreaking (once it's made available to the public by guys much brighter and more capable than myself) is easy to complete. These days you can simply plug in your iPhone, back it up, then hit a single button. The rest is taken care of from there. Once the phone reboots several times and is ready to go you have this new app store installed called Cydia. Cydia is the gateway to a whole new world (and a MUCH better iPhone experience if you ask me).

Now onto my favorite upgrades. The longest existing and very useful paid app is "MiWi". This allows tethering without paying the useless/pocket gouging monthly charge by your carrier. It's a one time payment of $20 instead of the $20+ per month you get tacked onto your phone bill just to utilize your existing data with other devices. Secondly I utilize "Androidlock XT" for an alternative to using a passcode. It's faster than typing a pin but will get replaced for me with Apples new fingerprint reader, which is getting great reviews on its responsiveness. Next is something Apple needs to incorporate if they really do care about true iPhone security. It's called "iGotYa" and it prevents your power button from turning off your phone when it is in a locked state. This is a huge issue for stolen phones as smart criminals who "happen to come by an iPhone" simply turn it off without ever needing your passcode and can easily sell it from there by just proving it turns on. By not allowing them to shut off the phone it's much more easily tracked and recoverable. I seriously want to know Apples apparent lack of initiative on this. Even better however, iGotYa also allows you to take a picture on the front facing camera when someone tries to turn it off. It then subsequently emails you the picture as well as the phones current location, further improving your chances of finding your phone. This will be one of the features that I'll greatly miss until iOS 7 is jailbroken. One caveat I will note is that your phone can still be hard reset (power button + home button) but this would have to be continuously cycled and doesn't seem like a reasonable solution for someone trying to conceal a stolen phone. Another useful one is called "Activator." This allows you to change any function on your phone to perform any action. It's super useful as I have "triple click home button closes all running apps." I also used it to double click lock button to turn on flashlight. There are literally thousands of combinations and custom actions that you can create and use with this. "Infinifolders" allows unlimited numbers of apps in a single folder instead of being limited to just 12. "Opener" automatically opens Google Maps instead of the dreadful and sometimes dangerous Apple Maps. In the same vain as the last one, "BrowserChooser" allows you to set your default browser to Google Chrome which I greatly prefer over safari, but we'll see how the updated safari on iOS 7 performs. "NCSettings" put a lot of the quick access settings into your notification bar. This is a welcome update that apple is now including as a new feature called "Control Center" but it's honestly 3 years behind the game. 

These are the main hacks that I use and will be miss, while I upgrade to the iPhone 5s and wait.