Author: Hiroyuki Kuwana

5 ways to save over 30% on your budget while traveling

You’re online looking for your next escapade for a quick vacation. While searching or places to go, you have a budget in mind, but by the time you get to the homepage, you feel a stab in the heart. No, it’s not your ex coming out of the computer. It’s even worse— the price you checked online yesterday is 20% more expensive today. You curse yourself for not buying it then but acquiesce to a higher power.

This can continue on and on until you’re on your vacation and you resort to forgetting everything about the budget. But for your next trip, with these little tips you can work your way up to ensure that some of your cash can be trimmed from the total budget.

1) Buy tickets Incognito and with VPN

One quick and easy trick is to clear out your cookie and look. But a better way is to log in in Incognito Mode or Private mode and buy your flights that way. This can change the cost of the flights dramatically, enough that one of my friend’s jaw dropped because of this simple little trick.

One website I enjoy using is Kiwi. It’s my go-to when researching travels and we’ve recommended it to many people. I once bought a ticket on Iberian Air for $180 one way from New York City to Madrid Spain. To put that in perspective, the Acela train (Amtrak’s high-speed rail) has tickets from Boston to New York City that cost around the same price.

A point to note about traveling for cheap is to read the fine print.

  1. Read the weight limit to make sure it’s realistic
  2. Check if and how much they charge to check bags (if you’re planning to check bags)
  3. Enquire if food will be served and if it’s free
  4. Double check if they require you to print out your boarding pass ahead of time
  5. Check which documents are required to be presented.

Budget airlines make a lot of money by charging passengers when their baggage is overweight, to check bags, to order food on the plane or to print out your boarding pass at the airport, so make sure you know what you’re getting for the price! This will ensure that you have a stress free flight the next time you travel.

If you e-mail us at info@kezari.com, we can give you a 20 euro discount code for Kiwi! Just write “Kiwi discount” in the subject line.

2) Hit your friend’s friends network (or couch-surf) 

This is where things get interesting. You could travel around and stay at hostels costing an average of 15 euros a night (around $17) or hotels costing even more… but what if you could save most or all of that money by staying at other people’s houses? One network you can check out is by going to Facebook’s search function and typing in “friends of friends who live in X”. You could even post on facebook asking if anyone has a friend from that country you could be introduced to.

If all else fails, try Couchsurfing. Sometimes, you have crazy encounters with other people and other times you might get the best place in the world, but what it comes down to is finding someone you feel comfortable with. That may come in the form of talking to them beforehand, knowing the host is the same gender as you, or even having the same interests. It can be a fun way to explore as the Couchsurfing community is interesting and brings some quirky characters from all walks of life that are fun to be around.

3) Eat-in

Funnily enough, most people think that if you don’t have a kitchen, you shouldn’t be able to cook. If your cooking skills are a bit rusty, you should check out some simple recipes that are easy to cook on Youtube or check out one of our future blog posts about it. If Couchsurfing, you can always ask to borrow your host’s kitchen and make food for both of you, and it’s one of those skills that gets better with time. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a newfound talent in cooking this trip?

4) Bring a water bottle

In the US, you might be used to getting water for free when you go to restaurants, but in other countries, they usually charge you a bit of money. Even worse, airports charge you ridiculous fees and it’s so easy to get dehydrated on the plane. I recommend bringing an empty water bottle to the airport to stay hydrated. Plus, you need more water the higher elevation you are in, so it’s definitely recommended to fuel up on water whenever you can. I usually like to bring a sturdy 40 oz hydro flask. We cover more items to travel with here.

5) Don’t use cash, but rather your credit card

The exchange rate of a credit card is usually 1-2% higher in most places. When you withdraw from exchanges, they take a higher exchange rate fee that you may not even notice. This can be around 3-4%, or if you use those terrible Euronet ATMs probably 6%. This advice may not work in some countries like India or Vietnam where cash is still pretty much king, but overall this will make ensure any charge towards you can be fought through credit card insurance. Plus, you won’t have to deal with any permanent scam or frauds.

Also, if you want to store your credit cards or cash in a safe location, check out our Kezari pants with huge pockets enclosed with a discrete zipper so you’re not constantly panicking about your card being stolen or lost abroad.

Side note: I’ve seen a rising trend where people who “lifestyle” travel beg while traveling to less fortunate countries. If you see this trend, please don’t do anything to promote it or even become part of it. This lifestyle of a wandering nomad going to poorer places to beg for money isn’t what traveling is about. Traveling is for understanding different perspectives and cultures, gaining new experiences and whatever else you want it to be. This practice is also rude, but that’s for another post.

Any other tips you have in mind? Share in the comments below!

3 Reasons to Love Tencel-Lyocell (Sustainable Fabric)

Studies show that polyester releases 1174 milligrams of microplastics per wash. Cotton uses 20,000L of water per kilogram of fabric, equivalent to one pair of jeans. With this problem in mind, we set out to find an environmental fashion solution and researched alternatives in the textile industry.

After some research and testing, we decided to use Tencel for our pants. You might be wondering, what is Tencel-Lyocell? If you’ve never heard of it, it might sound like a type of medicine for muscles, but that can’t be farther from the truth. Tencel, or Tencel-Lyocell, is a fiber spun from the wood pulp of birch and eucalyptus. Here are our main reasons why we chose Tencel-Lyocell.

Silk-like material

If you visit us or go to any store that sells Tencel, you will notice the feel and wear of the material resemble silk. It drapes beautifully with any kind of clothing you choose to wear. Lyocell also has controllable fibrillation in the pants, which helps maintain the smoothness of the fiber. In other words, it looks like the bottom left:

I’m guessing some of you who are reading this article feel itchy even when you wear plain cotton and wonder how some people could even find wool comfortable. Maybe you’ve looked at different materials to wear (since sometimes I get itchy wearing anything!) and haven’t found a suitable solution yet. In the photo, you can see one of the biggest benefits of Tencel – how cotton looks jagged compared to the fine spaghetti-like fiber of Tencel.

Sustainable production

Lyocell is produced from (FSC-/-PEFC) certified forests and usually from sustainable birch of eucalyptus trees. They reuse 99.8% of the water and chemicals used during the fiber-making process, lessening the amount of waste into our environment and creating an award-winning enclosed loop for production. If you are sensitive to different chemicals, the material is also bleach-free during this entire process.

Durable

We tested the material by washing and putting it into a dryer multiple times. The fabric shrinks only 3% after the first wash and stays the same afterward. You can also travel with it anywhere as it is wrinkle resistant due to the microfibers. It is durable for travels as it is also moisture resistant, making sure that after your long travels you won’t feel gross and sweaty. Right now, we’re conducting tests to see how durable it is, and so far have not been able to break the pants yet.

Verdict/Cons

I feel it necessary to also talk about Tencel’s disadvantages. If you are a price conscious then Tencel does carry a premium to it due to its manufacturing method, costing around $3-4 per square meter, which is quadruple the cost of cotton. Furthermore, there were also some controversies on how the forests were harvested and if they source it from other locations that are also not environmentally sourced. Some of these cons can be argued as unnecessary as the clothes are durable and an investment in your wardrobe rather than a fast fashion trend (a topic which I hope to cover some other time). The environmentally sourced issue is tricky but we are keeping our eyes and ears open for more news.

Anything else you might now about Tencel-Lyocell or any other eco-fabrics? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

Being Present in 3 Simple Steps [Lifestyle Hacks]

We live in an age of constant distractions where it now takes effort to be present.

I’m currently sitting in a cafe as I write this post. Out of all the people who are sitting, 90% of people are on their phones and only 2 people are reading something physical. I wonder what percentage of people are present. I know some people are reading on their tablet, but the biggest questions for me is this— where did the real-life conversations go? How can we become present and focus on what is immediately around us? How can we remember to take care of our mind and body?

Recently, Madison (Madi) and I have been trying out ten-minute meditations every morning. The scientific benefits of meditation have been studied and there are a fair amount of papers correlating meditation with better mental health, but I think everyone starts because they want to be much more present in the activities they do and focus on enjoying their life. Here are a couple things that I have tried that have helped me with my presence throughout my day:

1.) Meditate

It can be running and listening to the same song over and over, or reading a text out loud or singing a chant or a traditional form that I practice by sitting and observing my own body.

In any shape or form, it’s one where the mind loses all of its distraction and focuses on the surroundings and the sensations around you. If you meditate for around 10 minutes a day (Personally, I’d love to do an hour meditation once a week, too, if possible) it clears up what is important to your life and helps you become present. Although the beginning may be hard as your mind wanders all over the place, once the feeling of meditation catches on, then there is nothing from stopping you from doing well afterward.

2.) Deep Breaths

This is a practice that helps when your mind gets distracted throughout the day. Sometimes I set alarms on my phone to go off during random parts of the day to remind me to take some deep breaths. The best thing when starting off is counting to 10 in your head as you inhale, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and then exhaling for 10 seconds. Repeat this 4 times per practice and try doing it 3 times a day. Even when you feel stressed, it will help to do this to cool your head, bring you from your emotional state to a rational present state before making any decisions. This helps with keeping your emotions at bay when making important decisions and not letting fear or anxiety creep up as you think.

3.) Listen

Listening doesn’t mean hearing what other people have to say. Anyone with functioning ears can hear— on the other hand, few people can listen. During conversations, don’t think to anticipate what other people are going to say, but remain present and try to understand what they are saying instead. There’s a reason you can understand more from a conversation through intonation than you can through a script. Pretty soon I’ll make another blog post on the in depths of listening, but the main thing to consider when practicing listening is to understand the underlying message that the other person is trying to convey. If you can answer yes to Do I have a lot of questions about what they just stated? then there is a high possibility that you are practicing active listening.

My hope is that this will help with decluttering your mind and grounding you into the present, which is the essence of a true minimalist living. There is no instant gratification, but the effects will outlast anything if you practice these every single day. If you have any other tips you would like to share, feel free to share in the comments below!

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5 Tips To Minimize Phone Usage [Lifestyle Hacks]

The other day I was grabbing lunch with a group of friends and everyone started to check their phone. I looked to my left and right… their notifications seemed endless, like a CVS receipt. Trying my best to find out what was so special, I took out my phone for a quick peek, which I hadn’t checked in several hours, and was relieved to find zero notifications on my phone.

Still, it made me wonder how I could minimize the time spent on my phone and use it as a tool to help me rather than a distraction. Here are the strategies I used to eliminate wasted time on my phone, minimize the stress of being overwhelmed, and become a phone minimalist.

#1 Delete unused apps

It’s easier said than done, but imagine it this way: what are the 20% of apps that you use 80% of the time? These are the apps that you want to keep, and the rest can be evaluated on a one-on-one basis. As an example, I have had Shazam for a long time on my phone, imagining that one moment where I wouldn’t know the song and would use it to figure out the song’s name. Yet in total, I probably use it once a year on a good year. So the app moved from the screen and into the trash.

#2 Delete Facebook or other social media

You probably have Facebook on your phone. But social media can be one of the root causes of unhappiness, as this study on Facebook confirms. That being said, it’s up to you to decide what to keep and what to compromise on. If you tend to use Facebook to message people and still want to minimize phone usage, it might be best to just keep apps like WhatsApp and Messenger on your phone while deleting all the other apps that are only “feeds”.

#3 Unsubscribe from marketing emails (you don’t like)

I had to add the “you don’t like” since, after all, if you do like the clothing at Kezari we hope you subscribe to our email list. What we are talking about is for products that you never use or are the “feel good” products that keep your mail app looking like this:

Please, please make sure your phone doesn’t have notifications that get long like Snake.

To prevent such an easy mistake, make sure that you unsubscribe to all the emails or newsletters by scrolling to the bottom of the mail preferences to minimize the number of unread emails. If that doesn’t work, email people at the organization to take you off. No more rummaging, no more extra noise. Done.

#4 Turn on only important notifications

Have your phone set up so that the only notifications that show up on your locked screen are the ones you want to see. My rule of thumb is if it isn’t a message from friends or close family, it’s not important enough to be on the front screen of my personal phone. Make sure to go to settings and then to notifications to minimize viewing the apps you don’t need.

#5 Download Moment (or apps equivalent)

I know, I know. Almost everything at the beginning said to delete and unsubscribe, and then I hit you with a download app tip. But hear me out. This has been one of my go-to apps when I want to check how much I use my phone during the day. Most people think they use their phone far less than reality, which leads us to believe we are pretty good with our balance. But with those 5-minute breaks that you take inadvertently once in a while, it adds up to 50% to 75% of your phone usage. This is speaking from personal experience, and it sure came as a surprise to me.

These are the five tips I have. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or tips for others to share!

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Want more minimalist content? Check out: Minimalist packing guide – women’s edition