Overnight Economy Flights: How to Survive the Long Haul

Originally published on LeonardRaymundo.org

Flying does not come easy for all travelers, especially for those flying for 10-12 hours or more. Overnight flights can be difficult for even the most experienced economy flyers, and not having an actual bed to sleep in like those in first class doesn’t help. However, there are a number of tips and tricks you can use to make the trip itself much easier, the following being just a few.

Take Advantage of Upgrades

This does not mean immediately upgrade to first or business class. Not only is that often an extremely expensive decision, it would contradict this entire blog. But, if you can pay a little extra for additional legroom or a recliner seat, take advantage of those small opportunities to maximize your comfort and chance to actually sleep on the flight.

These upgrades might also come with priority boarding, allowing you to beat the rush of everyone else joining you on your flight. Knowing how long and taxing immigration lines can be, this perk alone is usually enough to convince economy flyers that the small bump in price is worth it.

Eat Beforehand

Almost everyone has heard the cliche line from standup comedians, “What’s the deal with airline food?” The reason being, airline food is not always that great. It’s even lower quality in economy. To avoid getting on a long flight with an empty stomach, essentially relying on the in-flight meals, eat in an airport restaurant or at home before your flight. This can also help you fall asleep sooner and faster while you’re up in the air.

Do Not Drink Beforehand

Unlike food, drinking liquids right before the flight will only result in you having to stand up and use the restroom more frequently. The same goes for drinking one too many alcoholic beverages mid-flight. While there’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine or two to help you sleep better, pounding several drinks will have adverse effects and can also prevent you from being able to sleep for longer periods of time.

An effective strategy is to hydrate as much as you can the day before your flight. This will prevent feelings of extreme thirst the day after while allowing you to casually sip before your plane departs, also preventing one too many bathroom breaks.

Block Out the Sound

The final piece to the puzzle of falling asleep on an overnighter is making sure that too much noise is not the reason you spend your entire flight awake. Invest in a nice pair of noise cancelling headphones to block out the sounds around you, which are sometimes unavoidable. Smaller children don’t often take kindly to air travel while their parents don’t want the attention. Let everyone be and create your own quiet space with headphones and an eye mask for added effect.

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Budget Travel Hacks For Your Wallet’s Sake

Originally published on LeonardRaymundo.org

There is nothing quite like traveling the world. No classroom, movie, or book can compare to the real-world experience of having one’s own adventure. That being said, many of life’s sweetest travel experiences can come at a cost.

The main decisions surrounding any adventure are usually focused on transportation, accommodation, activities, and dining. In every one of these cases, the choice comes down to convenience versus savings. With savings, there is usually more effort involved and less luxury. However, as an added benefit to choosing the frugal path, you end up with a more authentic experience than the distance that comes with a more comfortable option. With convenience, there is also a slight disconnect.

Transportation

The first journey will be about getting to the destination. After that, many smaller travel decisions will need to be made. For the initial trip, travel experts recommend using one of the many discounted airfare sites such as kayak, and tips and tricks from world travelers like NomadicMattcan help with all other decisions as well. The best advice out there is from people who have done the research for you, so listening to them is literally getting free advice from experts.

Once you are in the destination city, research any local options, such as public transportation. While car services and taxis might be cheaper, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision that could prevent future spontaneous adventures that come from hanging out with locals. There is also the question of safety, which should be taken into account in any decision you make when away from home.

Accommodation

A nice hotel might seem like the perfect option when visiting a faraway land, but the truth is that everything you experience will be a sanitized version of reality. For a really authentic, more inexpensive, total-immersion experience, try the pedestrian route. Room sharing sites such as Airbnb or CouchSurfing offer up residences closer to the local flavor. Hostels are a wonderful way to meet friendly strangers and get tips for the current and next stops along your journey.

Activities

Depending on your purpose for visiting a specific locale, it’s always a good idea to shoot for package deals or off-peak times to visit. Google Maps’ popular times tool is a great resource for checking the busiest times of popular places and tourist attractions, but there are also apps like TripIt that help you plan itineraries in advance, including any necessary paperwork.

Food and Drink

Street vendors may be the ultimate hidden gem when it comes to experiencing the world. Nothing relays the tastes and flavors and history of a specific culture more accurately than the typical street food of the local inhabitants. Research can be done either in advance or on the fly by talking to residents. If you prefer to sit down, you can still take advantage of the priceless resource that is small-talk with locals.

How to Tell a Brand Story on Instagram

Originally published on LeonardDavidRaymundo.com

Marketing and advertising tactics on Instagram range from utilizing the most used hashtags to running actual advertising campaigns to reach a wider audience. But, there’s no denying that simply taking an awesome photo is one of the best ways to boost engagement, and your audience.

We live in an incredibly visual world today where consumers want to be shown what a given product looks like rather than having to read about it (our attention spans are not what they once were). Because of this, Instagram has become one of the most popular platforms for both business and leisure today, with the number of users topping 800 million this past year. Companies would be wise to take advantage of this plethora of potential customers.

Successful advertising campaigns are those that tell stories and engage with the consumer. Remember that your brand story should be about the customer, not the brand or product. Try to evoke an emotional response. Say you are trying to boost sales for a car, for example. Posting high-quality, beautiful pictures of the car from its most flattering angles, as well as one with a driver that looks to be happy are requirements of course, but what’s the deeper story associated with your brand? If you’re a brand like Harley Davidson for example, you don’t just want pictures of your motorcycle, but what a typical day for a rider might look like on his or her day off.

Take a look at what Subway has done as another example. Their #SubYAY campaign was aimed at millennials and Gen-Z audiences by promoting their new stands that would be present at summer music festivals; events that have become wildly popular among these generations in recent years. They posted pictures of younger audience members at these events wearing Subway gear, but kept the focus on sharing their experience as a festival goer.

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Their “Green Rooms” popped up at Bonnaroo, Firefly, and Governors Ball just to name a few, where they advertised photos of their target demographic, effectively showing how Subway sandwiches fit into the lives of young adults. The food giants almost immediately boosted their number of Instagram followers and amount of engagement by posting engaging photos in addition to Instagram Stories.

Never forget the basics. Instagram is a photo-sharing social media profile, meaning that the quality and content of your photos is absolutely vital. A clothing store would obviously want to post images of certain articles of clothing for sale, but should also keep in mind how these photos are shot. A good contrast of colors, lighting, and positioning can make an average photo look like a professional’s work.

Broaden your horizons. Though Instagram is a visual platform, some users will respond better to different types of ads than others. Because of that, try and encapsulate a few strategies in one post. Don’t shy away from video content or posting to your Instagram Story for added engagement, know how to take a beautiful picture, and get creative with your captions. Once you master the basics and know your targeted audience, you’ll be one step closer to creating an Insta-empire.

How Technology is Forcing Writers to Adapt

Originally published on Medium here!

I started out my writing career by writing those how-to, knowledge base type articles that you might find when you’re looking up how fix that pesky internet connection. It worked for where I was at the time, but ultimately that line of work left me bored and restless.

I started to move to where most writers aspire to and dipped my toes into the creative, storytelling field- writing short stories/novel, then moving to ad copywriting, UX writing, and eventually transitioning to UX design.

Often times I wonder if other writers go through the same process, or if it’s just me(turns out, it’s not just me). Was I cursed with a never-ending, bottomless pit of unsatisfied work fulfillment, or am I simply a product of the broader writers dilemma of always searching for lofty ideals of perfection?

I’m starting to realize that it’s neither.


Writers must go through what the rest of the world has already known, which is that to stay relevant and make a living, we need to adapt. Our skill is as high in demand as ever, but unless we’re working on the next Harry Potter series, our focus needs to remain focused, yet as fluid as possible.

And for a lot of us that means we need to be able to write copy to meet business demands, and often times, extending ourselves beyond writing itself. Fields like UX writing…

The Craft of UX Writing

Speaking of, UX writing is a relatively new term that’s being picked up by a lot of new tech companies to describe the words use to guide users through their journey map. In the olden days, we used to just throw a bunch of salesy type words like “buy today” and “act now” while supplies last (spoiler alert: supplies always last).

But those days are gone, and now companies are looking for UX writers to turn prospects into customers.

It’s almost like they’re realizing that UX copy is much more complex and nuanced that simply writing “click here” on their website. Duh.

As the UX Collective points out in their state of UX:

“The cross-pollination between UX and copy tends to grow in 2018, as the term ‘UX writing’ starts to be used to describe not only a technique, but also job titles within design companies.”

(If you’re a writer that’s new to the field, I highly, highly recommend learning how the masters write UX copy over at UX Hub)


Writing Disciplines Aside from UX Writing

Aside from UX writing there’s a multitude of high paying, well respected jobs that seek writing talents to address their needs.

For example, in my hometown of Seattle, Copywriters can still make a decent wage in Seattle and I consider it to be an industry full of challenge, fun, and sometimes booze-at least in the agency world.

Content writers can also make a decent sum, provided that you’re comfortable with SEO focused work like blog writing.

Content strategists can make quite a lot for a writing profession, but require a set of organization and strategic implementation of content than the more individualized content writing roles require.

As for me, I’m just happy to be here. I look at my work and:

  1. Feel lucky that I’m even making money writing for a living.
  2. Feel well-versed in a myriad of writing disciplines, rather than looking at it like I’m constantly changing my mind (who knows, Mad Men could come back and copywriting could be the hot thing again).

Study your craft with diligence, but be on the lookout for awesome new opportunities to keep the writing profession relevant.