Traveling Safely During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Travel has been difficult to do since the COVID-19 pandemic shook the United States back in March. Many people had to cancel their trips because locations were no longer taking tourists or because they didn’t feel comfortable traveling during a pandemic, fearing they would catch the virus or bring it home to a loved one. Fast forward to today, and travel has loosened up quite a bit. Although many places are allowing tourists and people are traveling in all sorts of ways, that doesn’t mean it’s one hundred percent safe to do so. Travelling is currently on an “at your own risk” basis, so it’s up to you to understand that you’re at risk by going on a trip and subjecting yourself to environments where you could contract the virus. If you’re really itching for travel, or need to travel for work or family reasons, here are a few tips to help you do so safely.

Go Somewhere Less Crowded

If you’re trying to go on a vacation, a great way to keep yourself safe is by avoiding crowded travel destinations. Many people have chosen to go to beach areas, meaning many of them are packed and leave little room for you to comfortably enjoy yourself. To top it off, many people will choose to not wear their masks even if the area they’re in requires it. A good recommendation to avoid crowds on your next vacation is by going on a camping trip. Bring a small group of people who you feel comfortable being around and set up tents at a campsite or rent a cabin in the woods. You’ll be able to have a fun outdoor experience with friends and family while keeping everyone safe.

Think About Transportation

One of the most important things to think about when you decide to take your trip is how you’re going to get there. Depending on where you’re going you’ll likely have various options, all that have their own upsides and downsides. Flying is likely the most popular choice for travel in general, but it can be a rather high risk. Every airline is handling the pandemic differently, so it’s important you look into how the airline you’re choosing is keeping its customers safe. Train and bus travel have similar risks, especially if the vehicles are crowded. A great way to take a train or bus and protect yourself is by booking a ticket during an off-peak time where it’s less likely to be crowded. Ultimately, your best option will likely be to drive yourself if you have that option. You know where your car has been and where the people driving with you have been, meaning you’re ultimately in more control of the situation and your health.

Pack a COVID-19 Safety Kit

If you’re insisting on traveling, it’s wise to pack yourself a COVID-19 safety kit with all of the essentials to protect you and your loved ones. Your safety kit should have items such as masks, hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wet wipes, and possibly even spare bars of soap. Disposable masks can break if not properly taken care of and non-disposable ones are likely to get gross with more use, so it’s good to have backup masks when you need them as opposed to using the same one your entire trip. Hand sanitizer can be useful for quick moments when you want to clean your hands but don’t have access to a place to wash them, but it’s also wise to bring some soap with you to make sure you can wash your hands when the opportunity arises. Wet wipes can be useful for wiping down surfaces you touch such as tables or doors as well.

This article was originally published on BryanDunst.net

Tips For Travelling From Home

For the last few months, travelling has gone through a lot of changes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been avoiding travel and are even trying to quarantine in their house as much as possible. The travel industry took a small break in the beginning, but with summer time in full swing many have begun travelling again. If you’re someone who doesn’t feel comfortable with travelling yet, there are plenty of ways to experience other places and cultures from the comfort of your own home.

Eat A Meal From Another Country

One of the best ways to experience another culture when you can’t travel is by cooking a meal from that culture. Many cultures have their own unique styles of food and can provide plenty of new and interesting dishes to try. Think of places you’ve traveled to in the past or check out signature dishes from places you’d like to visit. This is a great way to experience something new and that you can make again and again.

Take Virtual Tours

Due to technology and the Internet we can do things we couldn’t do 30 years ago from the comfort of our home. One of those things is taking a virtual tour of a place you want to visit. There plenty of places that offer virtual tours over the internet, such as being able to view national parks on Google Earth. This is a wonderful way to learn about the place you want to visit while getting to see great views on your computer or television.

Play a video game

If you have a video game console or a good computer you can always check out video games. There are plenty of video games that take place in the real world and feature real world locations that can be considered fairly accurate depictions. Check out games like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, which takes place in Ancient Greece and has accurate depictions of buildings such as the Parthenon. You can also play fictional games, as many of them feature interesting and beautiful fictional locations that can transport you to another world.

This article was originally published on BryanDunst.net

Packing Tips for Your Next Overseas Trip

Planning a trip to a new place across the world can be fun and exciting. When planning your next overseas adventure, it’s important to have everything you need. Many people make the mistake of overpacking and it ends up putting a hindrance on their trip. To avoid this, follow these packing tips for your next overseas trip:

Packing Cubes are Best

To make packing your trip easier and more organized, opt for packing cubes. Using color-coded cubes helps you know exactly where all your belongings are as soon as your suitcase is unzipped. Instead of rifling through the suitcase looking for that one item, you can neatly find it in it’s assigned cubes. These packing cubes also easily move your items into the drawers of your hotel dresser for an even more organized trip.

Plan Your Outfits

It’s easy to overdo it on the packing in all the excitement of going somewhere new. To make sure you don’t overpack, plan out what you’ll be wearing on the days of your trips. This way, you can avoid bringing something you won’t end up wearing and make the load a little bit lighter. This can also help you dress according to the activities and itinerary you have planned for your trip.

Choose the Right Footwear

Heading out to a new adventure usually means a lot of exploring and a lot of walking. When packing for your trip, go for comfort over fashion. Choose shoes you’ll be able to wear more than once with each outfit and ones you’ll be comfortable wearing for long periods at a time. Not only does this ensure your trip won’t be ruined by foot pains and aches but bringing only a few select footwear can leave room in your suitcase for more essential items.

Use Sample-Sized Toiletries 

Many people make the mistake of bringing their entire bathroom of beauty products with them. This is not only a mistake because of how much room it takes up, but airports only allow a certain amount of liquids. To avoid this, but sample-sized versions of your favorite toiletries. This helps you pack light and chances are you won’t even use all of it even given their small size. When you’re home, you can simply add what’s leftover to your regular-sized products.

Eating Healthy During A Pandemic

The past few months have been a little crazy as we try to get the pandemic known as COVID-19 under control. Many people went into quarantine to some degree, only leaving the house for work or to go buy essential items such as groceries, and while things have loosened up around the country, there are still many people who are struggling as we try to get back to some sort of normalcy. One of the most difficult things about living through a pandemic, whether you’re quarantining and working from home or not, is eating healthy. It can be hard to stick to healthy eating habits when you’re stuck at home or can’t see your friends and family, so here are a few healthy eating tips.

Hydrate

One of the most important aspects of healthy eating is making sure you stay hydrated. Everyone needs to drink water, and the amount you need everyday usually varies based on factors such as age, weight, sex and the amount of physical activity you partake in among a few other things. A lot of foods we eat give us some of that water we need but it’s never enough. If you have access to safe tap water, that’s one of the best ways to stay hydrated. If not, look into buying a filter system for your faucet, or buy a pitcher that has a filter built in. You’ll be hydrated in no time!

Portion Sizes

One of the hardest parts about cooking from home is controlling your portion sizes. You want to make sure you’re getting enough food and not overeating, and the correct portion size typically varies from food to food. It’s understandable if you make a whole bunch of food because you don’t want something to go bad or for other reasons, but remember that you don’t need to eat it all in one sitting. Make your food, figure out the correct portion size, and then save the rest for another day if you can.

Fruits and Veggies

Some of the most important foods you should be eating are your fruits and vegetables. They give us vitamins, minerals and fiber, all important things our body needs in order to avoid illness and stay healthy. You should be trying to eat at least 5 portions of fruits and veggies every day, and they can be frozen, fresh, canned, dried or juiced. It’s also best to have a variety of fruits and veggies and not the same thing all day long, that way you’re making sure you get everything you need.

This article was originally published on BryanDunst.com

Should I Carry a Mortgage in Retirement?

If you’re like most retirees or retirees-to-be, being debt free is a prerequisite to your retirement application. Here are four reasons to reconsider this once foregone conclusion.

  1. Mortgage qualification – post financial crisis era legislation has all but done away with mortgage qualification without W-2 or salary income. Reverse mortgages are excluded from this generality, but we’ll discuss those in a different post.
  2. Liquidity access – dovetailed with mortgage qualification is access to liquidity. In this case we are talking about the liquidity tied up in the equity of your home. A sound financial plan never includes “spending the house” but adding this liquidity to your retirement nest egg sure can lend some peace of mind
  3. Net mortgage cost – even with the tax plan passed in 2017, most individuals still expect to claim a deduction for mortgage interest, effectively reducing the net carrying cost of a mortgage. As of the date this article is written, 30 year mortgage rates are in the 4.0-4.5% range. This equates to a net cost of 3.0-4.0% depending on your effective tax rate. This cost of capital is at or near historically low levels.
  4. Return on equity – after decades of falling rates, we may be in for a period of rising interest rates. Those who can lock into a long-term fixed rate may be able to a higher return with fixed income investments in the future. Even a 1% higher return over your net mortgage cost on a mortgage spanning the length of your retirement can return greenbacks to your ledger and not the banks’!

While individuals are not permitted to utilize cash out home financing to deliberately make capital market investment purposes, there are no stipulations requiring you to pay cash for your retirement home.

For your retirement’s sake, consider carrying some debt in retirement and allowing it to work for you. As always, be sure to consult with your tax advisor and financial professional for insight into how this strategy might work for your specific situation.

Family Owned Small Business Succession Planning

Small businesses make up 99.7% of all U.S. employer firms according to the Small Business Administration. Greater than 80% of all enterprise in the U.S. is family-owned. Of the Fortune 500, 35% is family-controlled.

When surveyed, the vast majority of all small business owners believe they will transfer control and ownership of their business within their family (siblings, children, or extended family) when the time comes. According to the Harvard Business Review, there is a 70% failure rate when transitioning to the second generation. Successful second generation businesses are statistically worse off – as the failure rate rises to 88% when transitioning from the second to third generation.

The odds of success are compounded against you as time progresses – which makes firms like S.C. Johnson Wax that much more impressive as they are currently in their fifth successful generation.

Here are three best practices thriving successful multi-generational businesses are employing:

1. “Experience before Entitlement” – the majority of successful next-generation business transitions push children to get outside experience before coming home to roost in the family business. Real-world experience and accountability to a non-family boss are difficult, if not impossible, to fabricate inside the business

2. “Bloodline Blind Beneficiaries” – Many small businesses have multiple members of the next generation coming up through the ranks. Siblings and cousins frequently vie for the same position. Often, the controlling member will select and promote according to their direct bloodline, ignoring more qualified or better suited indirect family members. Successful family businesses instead hire outside coaches, mentors and consultants for a qualified unbiased opinion.

3. “Growth Game” – family-owned businesses often employ family members first and generate revenue second. As families and their subsequent workforce grows, this can create a cash flow dilemma of epic proportions. Having family members step into defined roles and adhering to a system of accountability is vital to success.