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The 30 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2017, if your new year resolution is to Travel
Time to start packing your bags: 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for budget travel. The dollar is enjoying historic highs — meaning your money goes much further in many destinations around the globe — and according to an American Express Global Business Travel report, airfares are expected to fall in 2017.
1. Mazatlan, Mexico
Why: The current exchange rate ($1 = 20.69 Mexican pesos) makes Mexico one of the most affordable destinations.
For the frugal traveler who wants to enjoy more culture than they might in the Riviera Maya, my top pick is Mazatlan. As the shrimp capital of Mexico and a foodie paradise, Mazatlan is teeming with awesome eateries and fresh, interesting dishes. Hotels (including all-inclusive properties) are extremely inexpensive and authentic since most aren't part of the huge chains. El Cid Marina has awesome pools that are perfect for families, great food and huge rooms. (Rates are as low as $100 for a family of four.)
You can also enjoy superb dining at a top-notch restaurant like Casa 46 for less than half what you'd pay in the United States.
Side note: Sinaloa (the state where Mazatlan resides) grows the bulk of produce in Mexico, so Mazatlan produce is unbelievably cheap as a result. You see this reflected in top restaurants all the way down to street markets.
2. South Africa
Why: In South Africa, the exchange rate is in our favor, but so is the fact that it's a developed tourist destination with a solid infrastructure. In spending a month in Cape Town earlier this year and relying on Uber to get me to and from meetings, activities and lunches, I averaged under $20 in transportation per day — a major win.
Hotels are cheaper, too: Take a standard room at Taj Hotels & Resorts in New York, and you are out about $786 a night, whereas in Cape Town, a room at a similar luxury property costs $266. Remember, South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are the opposite: Consider going in low season (our summer) when hotels and safari lodges are even less expensive.
Airbnb and private villa rentals are also reliable and cheap options in the major cities. Travelers should also consider booking domestic airfare in advance for the greatest cost savings, since flights on South African Airways can sell out quickly.
The best value of all is the wine: Travelers can order a glass of one of the best locally produced varietals for less than the cost of a can of soda. For more information on travel in South Africa, watch "Michaela's Map: First Timers' Guide to Southern Africa."
3. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Why: The best way to get a deal in the Caribbean is to travel during the low season (end of April through mid-December) to destinations that have direct and frequent fights from your gateway; plenty of hotel inventory; and economies that aren't euro-based.
Puerto Rico fits the bill, and I'm a big fan of San Juan, which I think is seriously underrated as an easy and affordable getaway, especially for visitors from the East Coast of the U.S. Old San Juan oozes charm, and if you stay within the old city's two-square-mile radius you won't need a car rental to access great restaurants, sightseeing and shopping.
U.S. citizens can save themselves the cost of a passport since it's not required to visit, and since the U.S. dollar is the legal tender, there's no money lost on currency exchange. Hotel Casa Blanca and Villa Herencia are two of my favorite high-style/low-cost boutique hotels.
Why: Europe is on everyone's list of value-added trips this year and for good reason — the exchange rate is more favorable for American travelers than it has been in years. But the destinations I most dream about and long to return to are in South America, a destination that has long given travelers great value for money.
In Chile, I love Santiago for its vibrant food and wine scene — think tucked-away wine bars, delicious tapas and hip hotels in a beautifully chaotic city. For a lesser-known and truly special corner of the world, I love the small lakeside town of Puerto Varas. It is part of the lakes district in Chile and the northern start of Patagonia.
It is easy (and cheap!) to rent a car and explore this area. There is a surprising German heritage, so you'll see signs for "kuchen" (cake). With Puerto Varas as a hub, you can explore great places within a two-hour drive from the city: going to the top of a volcano, exploring waterfalls, finding the best cakes and food.
This area sees very few American visitors and everything is CHEAP. It's one of those places I almost want to keep to myself, but it's so special that I can't.
Why: With the U.S. dollar strong against the euro right now and the economic crisis in Greece keeping prices lower than other parts of Europe, it’s the perfect time to visit the beautiful island of Crete. Crete is a foodie dream come true.
A place where farm-to-table isn’t a new fad, it’s a way of life. The people here often live to be well over 100 years old so they must be doing something right! With truly stunning natural beauty (like Balos beach) and locals that welcome tourists with open arms, you are bound to have the trip of a lifetime and save a few dollars at the same time.
Why: For many, Morocco is the ultimate dream trip, and yet cost tends to keep most from visiting. But what you might not know is that it's one of the most affordable African countries, particularly when comparing flight costs. R
eaching Marrakech from cities such as Lisbon, Madrid and Paris may only set you back $40 to $100 roundtrip with many budget airlines. And this past Black Friday, flights from New York were a mere $400 roundtrip.
Food is by far my main reason for visiting as often as I do, and typical meals can range from $2.50 to $15 for two, which includes appetizers, entree and unlimited mint tea. For vegetarians and vegans, the country is especially great, as veggies are cheaper than meat and fresh fruit smoothies are barely $1.
Souvenir shopping can get a bit intense when you realize leather goods such as wallets, handbags and weekenders run from $5 to $60. (A shopaholics dream!) When it comes to accommodations there's something to fit everyone's budget, my favorite being Riad Yasmine (only $80-$160 per night).
For those looking for Moroccan luxury while still on a budget, my go-to is Riad Kheirredine, which will have you living like a queen without breaking the bank and even provides a cell phone during your stay to ensure guest safety.
Why: Modern conveniences and history collide in Belize. It's a perfect place to take a budget romantic vacation. Many of the four-star hotels offer extras, like bicycle rentals, included in their low rates, as well as Belize's excellent local wines.
Some affordable resorts to check out are George Hardie's Las Vegas Hotel in Corozal (Northern Belize) and the oceanside Royal Caribbean Resort in San Pedro along Ambergris Caye. Both can be booked for under $100 per night.
Meals are also crazy cheap, but delicious. Two can eat at an upscale restaurant for less than $30, and much less at an everyday venue.
Why: Affordable upscale accommodations, cheap and remarkably healthy food and beautiful sights make Vietnam a standout among budget-friendly South Asian destinations.
Eat your way through historic Hanoi, kayak in the emerald waters of Halong Bay or relax in ancient Hoi An and the nearby beaches. There are clean, safe accommodations to fit everyone's wallet. In Hanoi, my favorite is the Tirant Hotel, near the old town, where you can bag a room for less than $70 a night.
Don't miss the Hanoi street food tour: For just $20 per person, a guide will lead you on foot or by scooter through backstreets, markets and footpaths.
You will eat like the locals and learn the names and ingredients in the dishes so you can order them again. And be sure to take the time to sip a bowl of steaming "pho" noodle soup in restaurants, push carts and food stalls, where a street meal and a beer can cost the same as a caramel macchiato at Starbucks.
9. Costa Rica
Why: Costa Rica is the one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and to be able to see this on a shoestring is an incredible opportunity.
There's a ton of national parks to explore, for instance, that only cost a few dollars to enter. Once there, you can then enjoy free self-guided walks that won't cost you a cent, but will deliver some great encounters with amazing wildlife like tapirs, monkeys, sloths and macaws.
Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks are two of the best. Public transport is also super cheap in Costa Rica, with buses generally less than $10, even for an eight-hour ride. This makes traveling between destinations in this compact country very affordable and means you can see a lot in a short amount of time.
In addition, budget accommodation in Costa Rica — even at some of the best surf beaches — can be as little as $6 per person. And a "plato tipico" (local dish) can be enjoyed anywhere for as little as $2-3.
Why: Portugal is a pocket of affordable travel in contrast to the rest of Western Europe, especially if you get off the highways and take the back roads (where you can also avoid tolls).
A bottle of delicious port and a plate of the day with a glass of wine can be found for around €5 each. Nowhere else in the world can its "California Highway 1 meets Tuscany" landscapes be enjoyed on such a budget, especially now that the dollar is strong against the euro.
Why: Although Ecuador is not quite as inexpensive as Peru to the south, it’s an easy and affordable destination to travel to, especially if you stay a bit off the beaten path. It’s a short cheap flight from Florida with budget airlines like jetBlue and TAME, and accommodation is pretty cheap.
Shop at your local market and you can get a week’s worth of groceries for $10. And Ecuador has lots of variety; from surf beach towns like Montanita, to the volcanic Banos with famed hot springs at the gateway to the Amazon basin, to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cuenca in the high Andes, there’s a lot to see. The bus systems are good and domestic flights cheap and plentiful. F
ind a free accommodation option like house-sitting or volunteering, and your trip can be even cheaper.
Why: Barcelona is ranked right up there with cities like Paris and London as one of the most popular European cities, but it is by far the most affordable. This is thanks to low-cost tapas restaurants, endless free attractions and affordable things to do.
Have a meal of tapas and wine at El Xampanyet for around €10-15. Soak up the rays on the beach at Barceloneta. Get lost in the La Boqueria Market.
And take the tram up to Tibidabo (only €5) for sweeping panoramic views of the city; it's also where you can experience a vintage amusement park and a gorgeous cathedral.
13. Where: Guatemala
Why: Often bypassed in favor of nearby Costa Rica, Guatemala is unique unto itself in Central America. And because it's a bit more "off the path" in the region, it's also easy on the budget and a nice place to splurge.
The villas and hotels rimming Lake Atitlán have all the beauty you could want for a small fraction of the price you'd pay in Europe or elsewhere. From the lake, you can then delve into the country's unique culture by visiting the indigenous markets and villages in the Guatemalan highlands.
Lush Atitlan is a gorgeous, affordable place to stay in San Marcos La Laguna, the prettiest and most culturally interesting of Lake Atitlan's villages.
14. Bonaire & Curaçao
Why: In the deep Southern Caribbean, Bonaire and Curaçao are always out there on the edge of everyone's Caribbean consciousness. Both are known for scuba diving, but also for other water sports, hiking and amazing secluded beaches.
Vacation villas that let you live like a local are plentiful and affordable on both islands, but chain hotels like the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino are an option on Curaçao (great if you're using points).
Bonaire gets its very first chain hotel at the end of 2016 when a Marriott Courtyard opens.
15. Las Vegas
Why: If you can avoid the slots, there are lots of free things to do in Vegas: The Flamingo's flamingo habitat, the fountains and conservatory at the Bellagio and the outdoor movies at the Container Park are just a few.
You can also find many places for cheap eats if you are willing to get off The Strip to do so. Check out the nearby Crown and Anchor, which serves up delicious British favorites, and Ninja Teriyaki Sushi 2 Go for fresh-made amazing sushi rolls in a no-frills setting.
Why: Sadly, the average income in Cambodia is about $950 per year. What does this mean for international travelers? Your international airfare might be expensive, but once you are in Cambodia, you can live well. Tuks tuks (a combo bike/taxi) and food cost just pennies. Even international hotel chains and luxury river boats down the Mekong are more affordable than other Asian destinations.
Before visiting, I suggest doing your homework to support luxury companies like the Shinta Mani Resort, whose foundation plays a large role in its community, building water wells, schools and farms and providing the best healthcare in the country to its employees. Culturally conscious companies like Aqua Expeditions sustainably introduce their guests to the communities along the Mekong River, including the floating markets and the farmers in the rice fields; the company can even arrange a conversation with a local Buddhist monk to discuss the significance of his journey from childhood to monkhood.
Why: If you're looking into an exotic long-haul trip, Bali offers a ton of high quality experiences for a great value. You can easily stay in a private villa overlooking stunning rice paddies with a private pool for around $50 per night. (Airbnb is a great way to go).
However, if you want to splurge a bit but not go overboard, a stay at a high-end luxury resort will still cost you less than a stay at a luxury resort, for example, in Maui. Not to mention, spa and transportation costs are quite low relative to other exotic locales, as well as the amazing and healthy food options that end up being a fraction of the cost elsewhere in the world.
Why: The weakened euro has made any trip to Europe more affordable, but this is especially true in Greece. The struggling economy craves tourist dollars and makes it known with affordable pricing on everything from hotels to food.
In Athens, you can book a three- or four-star hotel for well under $100, like 360 Degrees, a nice and modern hotel with a huge breakfast buffet included and an awesome location directly on Monastiraki Square.
Throughout the countryside, prices may be even better. Best of all, you can sit down to an amazing Greek meal with drinks (Mythos or Ouzo?), appetizers (Saganaki, anyone?) and entrees of your choosing for less than half what you'd pay in the States. Heck, you can pick up Souvlaki or a gyro for $1-$2. Souvenirs are insanely cheap, too.
Why: This forgotten corner of Europe is a wonderfully off-the-beaten-track budget destination in an otherwise very touristy and expensive continent.
With fantastic beaches along its coastline, including the fishing port of Saranda, Albania gives visitors the chance to enjoy the Mediterranean waters for a fraction of the usual price. Accommodation starts from as little as $5 per person and fishing trips or boat rides to the nearby islands are similarly well priced.
There's also some fascinating historical sites across Albania that are either free to enter or cost only $2-$5. From the moutainous medieval town of Gjirokastër to the Roman ruins at Butrint, this is a diverse and very different side of Europe, which is definitely worth visiting before the crowds do.
20. San Luis Potosí, México
Picture a perfect class III white water rafting experience through a limestone canyon of turquoise waters, a visit to a living garden of eden, complete with art sculptures, hidden pools, butterflies and waterfalls, a hike to the largest known cave shaft in the world, which you can rappel into, and a series of waterfalls for cliff jumping.
Top this all off with a plate of homemade tacos and a local beer for $2, and you've got yourself a piece of adventure paradise on a budget.
Still very much under the radar to anyone outside of Mexico, San Luis Potosí could be compared to Costa Rica in terms of adventure and Cambodia in terms of affordability. Since Election Day, the dollar has been especially strong in Mexico, offering an even better excuse to travel south of the border.
21. Quebec City, Canada
Why: Take advantage of the weak Canadian dollar and travel north for a 25% discount on prices.
Enjoy a slice of Old Europe without the jet lag or the cost of a transatlantic flight. Indulge in some of the best French food outside France — steak-frites, oysters and pastries at a bargain price. Stroll and shop in the narrow cobblestone streets of the picturesque Old Town and enjoy night parades and ice canoe races during the colorful Winter Festival in January and February.
22. Buenos Aires
Why: One of the world's most intoxicating cities, Buenos Aires has only grown in popularity, but it's still relatively cheap compared to European and Asian capital cities. There are many green parks, French-inspired architecture, late-night dancing, custom leather shops and fantastic food.
Taxis are relatively cheap (around $5-8 a ride), but you should also walk for miles in all of the distinct neighborhoods, like Palermo (try Salon Canning, a super casual milonga, or dance hall, after midnight). Must-try cheap eat in Buenos Aires: anything dulce de leche. It is everywhere — inside crepes, drizzled over grilled bananas and in gelato.
Tip: Bring a ton of American cash and you'll get better deals in many places. For example, I bought my custom leather jacket at a shop called Uru Recoleta (close to the famous Recoleta Cemetery) and was able to buy it for much less than using my credit card because I brought American dollars.
On Sundays, the place to be is the San Telmo market for browsing leather, antiques, watches, jewelry and more.
Why: While Haiti still remains under the radar as a travel destination, many people have been flocking to the vibrant country, and I can see why: The island provides all the stunning Caribbean characteristics without the high costs. Outside of holiday seasons and the later part of the summer, flights from New York range from $300 to $500, and even cheaper when flying from cities in Florida.
The real gem is how cheap the hotels are, with many starting at $50 to $150 per night including airport transfers. Even the newest Marriott Port-au-Prince will only set you back $130 to under $200 a night for larger rooms.
One of my favorites is Wahoo Bay Beach, which has epic mountain and ocean views from its stunning pool and rooms. You can take small boat tours around the area for a couple of dollars per person. Lobster, conch and crab can be caught right from the water and prepared for you without costing more than $10.
24. Santa Catalina Island, California
Why: Santa Catalina Island is one of my new favorite places. It is way more than a weekend SoCal jaunt. Hotels are quaint and average under the $200 per night mark. The Avalon Hotel is a charming choice. It’s right in the center of town, making it an easy walk to almost any activity. There is plenty to do, like kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, ziplining, hiking or just beach sitting.
The Catalina Island Museum is a must-visit stop to get the full story of the island's fascinating history, including its Hollywood connection. Food and shopping choices are extensive.
And you don’t need a rental car. Getting to the island is easy: Catalina Express Ferry whisks you to there from three different ports, Long Beach, Dana Point and San Pedro. I prefer Long Beach because flights there are often lower priced than neighboring LAX.
Why: With 17,000 islands, you are bound to find the ideal paradise to suit your travel and budget in Indonesia.
There are stunning untouched beaches that offer world-class snorkelling and scuba diving in Raja Ampat, fascinating Unesco World Heritage Sites dating back to the 9th century in Yogyakarta and — everywhere you turn — the friendliest locals. In Raja Ampat, we found a homestay that included breakfast, lunch and dinner — plus it was right on the beach for around $29 USD per person per night. For more, see Food Fun Travel's "Bali Food Guide."
Why: The entire Balkans region is an excellent option for budget travel, and if you haven't been before, I recommend starting with Bulgaria.
From wine country to snowy peaks to the Black Sea coast, it's an adventure playground that every budget can afford. In Bulgaria's wine country you can get a full winery tour with multiple tastings plus bread and cheese for about $5 (check out Villa Melnik winery), take a hike through Bulgaria's famous sandstone pyramids and then sleep in a beautiful authentic style hotel like Zlaten Rozhen with breakfast included for about $30.
27. Cusco, Peru
Why: Most people who pass through Cusco are en route to the very popular Machu Picchu, but you should make sure to spend a few days, maybe even a few weeks in this colorful city. Not only is the city absolutely stunning and oozing with culture, most accommodations range from $20 to $100 a night. Peruvian textiles are extremely affordable and the vibrant colors are stunning.
Eating out in Cusco can be extremely cheap, if you know where to eat. Restaurants are quite affordable compared to most American and European restaurants, but street food here is the real winner. I'm personally addicted to ceviche and can't find it cheaper than $15 for a small portion in the states, but in Cusco's San Pedro Market you can find ceviche plus Peruvian fried rice for only $3.
On my last trip, I had steak and ceviche nearly every day and never spent more than $15 for two including a drink and soup.
Why: Meagen Collins: This ancient European country is starting to grab the attention of travelers from all over the world. Georgia has so much to offer — beautiful scenery, unique culture and tradition everywhere you look, and the food will leave you drooling for more.
Add to that the fact this country lays claim to being the birthplace of wine (winemaking here goes back 8,000 years) and you have the ultimate new travel destination.
In Georgia, you can get a full meal plus copious amounts of wine for two people in a higher end restaurant, with live entertainment and still spend less than $30 — total. But get there fast: Word is getting around about this little gem and it won’t be tourist-free for long.
Why: This country is one of Africa's best budget travel destinations, with some extremely affordable accommodation situated along white sand beaches and next to an azure ocean. (Check out Villa Sands or Terraço das Quitandas.)
There's great scuba diving, too, and you can easily feel like a millionaire here for nothing! For more ideas, see Big World Small Pocket's "17 Incredible Budget Travel Destinations Still On My List (That Should Be On Yours Too!)."
30. Dallas, Texas
Why: Dallas is often overlooked, but packed with fun, food and great places to stay at prices far below the national average. (The city was voted the most affordable destination in the U.S. last year by Priceline and continues to remain a great value.) Downtown buzzes with excitement and culture, and the nearby Design District is exploding with eclectic shopping for home décor.
The high-rise Omni Dallas has rooms with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the city starting at just under $200, putting you in the center of the action. With a rental car, you can fully explore everything the city has to offer. Look at fringe cities like Grapevine and Plano for the charm of small towns of yesteryear with main street shops and eateries.
The Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine is convenient to DFW airport and offers full-out luxury at rates around the $200 mark.
Meet Inna Bugeja, An amazing artist who uses glass as the object to project her imagination and convert it into something really amazing & breath-taking.
We recently caught up with Inna for a discussion where she discusses her life, her inspiration, her motivation, her love for glass painting and much more.
Nojoto Team: Hi Inna, describe yourself. Imagine writing a story on Nojoto.
Inna: I was born in Ukraine in 1979 and developed an early interest in art. Art has always been a part of my life.
Since I was 7, I went to different type of schools – arts, music (playing guitar), singing, dancing, and drawing. And I realized at age 10 that most of all, what I like is to draw.
I have been studying painting in an art school of Ukraine since last 5 years.
In school, I studied different techniques of drawing and have tested many materials that can be used for painting. Few which I tested are: canvas, ceramic, wood, iron and glass. And of course my love and my favorite is glass.
Nojoto Team: From where did you get the inspiration for drawing? What motivated you? — Any person or a situation in particular?
Inna: After my marriage in Malta and the birth of my child, I didn't had enough time to do my art. I have a
wonderful family, the best husband, a lovely baby. I had a happy family life, until I realized that I did not
seem to have enough of something inside of me.
All I had was good, but I felt as if my soul was empty. I realized that I need to grow creatively – and need to
listen beautiful music, should start reading interesting books, and meet creative people.
Years later, when my daughter grew up - I felt that I need to pick up my art on glass.
Nojoto Team: How did your parents, friends, school, hometown influence your passion for your art?
Inna: My husband always support me and encourage me my artwork. Sometimes when I start painting on glass, I just can't stop. I can paint for 16 hours without a break. It looks like I am in another dimension. He understands that my art is really important for me, so he helps me and motivates me to improve.
Nojoto Team: How do you take out time to follow your passion?
Inna: Night is my time. I can focus & paint at night because it is all quiet, and everyone in my family is also asleep, so that’s the time when I am in creative mood and follow my passion of painting on glass.
Nojoto Team: Why did you picked up Glass Painting only and not anything else?
Inna: I understood that glass is the material on which I want to paint, because Glass as a material can be worked in so many ways. Its ability to transmit and reflect light adds another layer of intrigue and meaning to the art. There is no other material with gives so many options to the artist.
I am using 3 different types of paints - transparent, opaque and pearl colours which are makes light effects.
Nojoto Team: What is the most fulfilling thing when you share your artwork with others?
Inna: I really appreciate when other talented people comment on my art. I love to hear both good and bad comments, and that's how I can learn and improve next time.
Nojoto Team: How do you go about creating your art — starting from thinking about it — to imagining about it — to actually doing it? Describe the creative process, which you take generally?
Inna: I love Night, Full Moon, Magic... I turn on relaxing music. In that moment I am in a Creative Mood and I ready to create my art.
Nojoto Team: What types of art you have experimented with?
Inna: Long time ago I tried to paint on a canvas. But the glass painting and painting on canvas are a different feelings. Glass painting is very slow work and it is exactly for me because I like when it takes time, so that I can indulge in to it.
Nojoto Team: What is your most favorite style of art?
Inna: My favorite is to mix the colors between each other.
Transparent with opaque, transparent with pearl or opaque with pearl.
With all these actions I can make different light effects such as - shadow, drop of water, 3D effect etc.
Nojoto Team: Are you an extrovert or an introvert?
Inna: I cannot exactly say if I am an extrovert or an introvert. When I am in my creative mood and I painting - I am an introvert. It is one side of me.
And another half is extrovert - I like meet new people. I love my Life which is full all different colours. We create our Life that is why most of my art are full of bright colours.
Nojoto Team: What is the most interesting comment/feedback you have got about your art and from whom?
Inna: One time I showed my painting called "Through the Rain" to an Art Teacher and asked for her advice.
She said it is incredible - how I got the effect of a wet road, glowing windows and the painted flowers with the effect of 3d and then she asked me to show some more of my techniques of the glass painting.
Nojoto Team: If you could do one thing for the World, what would it be?
Inna: I would like to paint the world in bright colors.
Nojoto Team: What is “your” favorite work till now?
Inna: My Favorite work till now Glass Painting called "Life and Soul". This painting means a lot to me. This is my soul, my spirit, my creative mood...
Nojoto Team: — If given 1 million dollars, what you want to do?
Inna: We all have an inner world that is quite distinct from the outer world. It is the world we meet when we have an emotional reaction, an idea, or close our eyes and live in our fantasies, imagination or dreams.
Rich person stops thinking about his inner world. That person thinking just about money. So I afraid to have a lot of money because I afraid to lose myself. What can I do with 1 million dollars is to give to person who is more competent in this matter.
Nojoto Team: What do you love about Nojoto? And why do you like it?
Inna: Why I love "Nojoto"? Because "Nojoto" loves me ;)
I feel that I am on it since the beginning and now it feel looks like a big family who cares about each other and I feel like I'm part of this friendly, positive, caring family.
There are a lot of talented people from whom I can learn something new and interesting. We are so far from each other, but through "Nojoto" we get a little closer.
It's interesting to know the world, another world without leaving home just by using Interest Based Social Network called "Nojoto".
Nojoto Team: What is your message for other people who are young and have a passion for a particular interest?
Inna: Never give up! If you have a dream then follow it. Setting goals is important for reaching your dreams. Successful people set goals and reach them step by step.
Team Nojoto: “Inna joined Nojoto’s family in very early days when we just started. She has the most amazing profile on Nojoto. She used “Collection feature” of Nojoto, in the way we thought not many people might understand.
She has 6 beautiful collections in Traditional Arts – where each collection has a different life of its own – and has a different dimension. Words are not enough, to understand – you will have to check out her profile on Nojoto.
1. Glass Painting by IB
2. Stained Glass Effect Painting
3. Step by Step Glass Painting
4. Bench – On Glass Details
5. Glass – Clock in details
6. Colorful spring
Because we now that she has amazing taste in Music, we would love to see that side of Inna too and wish to see her Music Collection on Nojoto.
Moreover, after seeing video of her art gallery on Nojoto, someday I really want to visit her Gallery and see her amazing artworks.
We wish Inna’s artwork inspires millions of people to follow their passion, their interest.”
Five Golden Principles
Wherever you live, there you are living in your home. The significance is not in living in your home, but if you live in God's kingdom then there is much significance and greatness. This home (kingdom) you have called your own. But this home was from the very beginning belonging to God only. Even right now it is God's and later on also it will remain God's. If you die, then surely this house will not go with you. It belongs to God only. Therefore from today onwards, accept that I live in God's home. Really speaking you are living in God's home. When you come to Haridwar the you say - Oh ! this is gateway to God's home. When you come to Vrindavan you say that this is the place where God engaged in His divine loving pastimes. When you go to Ayodhya then you say we have come to God's palace. Accept it as God's kingdom or God's home, then this very house that you live in will become Vrindavan. At all times let that thought prevail, that I am living in God's home, and we are his very dear ones that belong to him. From today onwards accept this. All of you, do not consider your home as belonging to you. Oh' It is God's home! We have considered it our home in the middle somewhere. Before it was God's, and later on it will be God's then in the middle how can it become ours? Simply for no reason you have put a stamp on it. There is a point that you must pay close attention to - whatever work you do, accept it as God's work and then do it. Whether it is washing your clothes, taking a bath. This body is also God's, therefore to serve God you are doing it's work. Eating and drinking is also God's work. Office work and business is also God's work. The Master of this entire world is God, therefore the master of all the bodies is also God.Therefore work related to this body and to this world can be whose work? It is God's work only! What a wonderful thing this is! We live in God's kingdom and we are doing His work - these are two points. Now the third point is - All the things that are in the house, they too belong to God only. If the house belongs to God and you belong to God then can the things belong to someone else? Mothers and sisters should want that they should take those things that belong to God and cook with them. In the mind must be the thought that Oh! it is for offering food to God that I am cooking this meal. Now offer the foods prepared to God and thereafter however many people that are in the house, understand them to be God's people and offer them food.Understand them to be God's loving people, they are God's very loving and sweet children. I am feeding them. I am serving God. Just like if you love someone's child, then his mother will be very pleased, won't she? similarly, if you serve God's children, then God will be pleased. What a wonderful point this is! Cooked God's food, offered it to God and fed God's children with the prepared foods. When you eat yourself, then too think of it as God's "prasad" (partaking in the food offered and blessed by God). How very wonderful! "Tumhi nibedit bhojan karahin | Prabhu prasad pat bhooshan gharhin || (Manas 2/128/1) As discussed earlier, make everything an offering to the Lord; not just food. If you wear jewellery, offer it to God "Thakurji". Wear only those clothes that belong to Thakurji. Let all things be taken in as if it is "prasad" (offering to the Lord), then all things will get purified. Have you seen this or not, that when food is offered to Thakurji's as "prasad" and is later distributed to all, then every person will bring forth their hand to receive the "prasad". Even if the smallest portion is given, then too he will be happy. Whether he is a millionaire or a billionaire, he too will bring his hand forward, and if you give him a small piece of the "prasad", he will be happy. Is this person hungry for sweets? If some millionaire or a billionaire asks for "prasad" and if you tell him let us go to the market and I will buy it for you from the market, then he will not be happy. He will say, am I starved of sweets or what? I want "prasad". Now tell me the importance of "prasad"? It is Thakurji's (God's) "prasad" (offering to the Lord). Everything in the house belongs to the Lord. If you follow this, then I would like to share with you a very great point. Have mercy and simply do it, then it is very great thing and very beneficial. Place "tulsidal" (the sacred basil leaf) on all the money - wealth that you have at home. On all the jewellery, clothes on everything place "tulsidal." Even for the house, offer it. On all animals, place tulsidal. On all children, place "tulsidal" Now whose children are they? They are Thakurji's (God's) children.It is like magic. If you are able to do, then I will share, but do it from the heart, then it will be magical. Son is rebellious and does not listen. With a true heart, lift off the proprietary interest (sense of mine-ness) you have in him and say that he is not mine at all. He is only Thakurji's (God's). The son will become totally alright. Just as when food it offered to God it become sanctified and many great people revere it. Similarly, with a true heart, completely wipe off your proprietary interest and only consider him as belonging to Thakurji (God) then he will be purified. He will become sacred. Try it and see for yourself. The challenge is to completely lift off your proprietary interest. Just like another person's child, similar is this child. if he dies then too no affect on you. He is not our child, if he dies the it is Thakurji's, whereas Thakurji's never dies. If he dies here, then there he is born. He is never apart from Thakurji. By doing so, the son will be purified. It is the truth. Sense of mine-ness (mamta) itself is impurity. Sense of “mine-ness” (proprietary interest) is impurity. It is due to mine that there is impurity. If you give donation - charity, then have no relation with it. “Daatavyamiti yadaanam deeyatenupakaarine” (Gita 17/20) “Anupakaareene” does not mean that the other person does not do anything helpful. IT is an understanding that previously the person did nothing beneficial, and there is no expectation that he will oblige in the future. Give donation to such a one, with whom you have no self-interest. Give to such people. Do not keep a selfish relation with family members. Both will lead to the same, as in the end only one will remain. Serve where there is no sense of mine or where you serve there get rid of the feeling of mine. It will be the same thing. We are God’s. We live in His kingdom. We do His work. We receive his Prasad. And with his offering, we serve his children. I too am receiving his “Prasad”. This is true “Pamchaamrt” (Five Golden Principles). From today onwards, grab hold of these points. “Sarvabhaaven maam bhajati” and in all sentiments and feelings worship only the Lord, therefore have the sentiments that this body belongs to “Thakurji” (My Lord). I am doing my Lord’s work. Then you will be able to do a favor for the Lord that Maharaj! (Great One) I am doing your work. A Brahmin used to keep saying - daily I feed one Brahmin. He used to eat himself and have the sentiments that daily he is feeding a Brahmin. It is such a great thing! Similarly, the entire family and various families all belong to Thakurji (God). I am taking care of Thakurji’s family. Even Thakurji says that he is taking care of the family Brother! God will be touched that yes! It is true! He is taking care of my family. When there is no sense of mine-ness, when there is no attachment, then God says that He is taking care of my family.In all sentiments, let God’s work alone be done. This will turn into pure devotion “avyabhichaari bhakti” We want to take nothing, we have no sense of mine-ness. There is neither selfishness nor proprietary interest. Whether home members listen to you or not, whether they serve you or not, we have to serve Thakurji’s family. We have to serve him, Brother! If family members do not work, then we should be happy, it is a good thing! If they work and do everything according to our preference, then understand that our good deeds are getting exhausted. Therefore if they do nothing and further give us trouble and sorrow, then it is a good thing. Even if mother-in-law causes suffering, if daughter-in-law gives sorrow, if sister-in-law or any one give pain and sorrow then be happy, thinking we are greatly benefited. We have to serve, and if they give pain then we will be doubly benefited. On one hand there will be benefit of serving “seva” and if they give pain and sorrow then your sins will be reduced. When will suffering remain, tell me? Even on getting suffering, there will be joy. There will be no place remaining for sorrow and suffering. All roadways will be blocked, then that itself is “sarvavit”. Have you understood this well? If you are becoming happy and unhappy with this world, then you have not understood this well. We are living in ever bliss. We have not the least bit of unhappiness. God supports, protects and takes care of everyone. He takes care of all, then such a devotee of God does not experience any sorrow at all. They remain ever blissful, they remain so joyful that with their association you feel delighted and intoxicated. By remembering Thakurji (God), bondages break off. Simply by reciting the divine Name, by remembering the Lord, by listening to His divine plays (stories) sins are destroyed, He is that pure. “Pavitraanaam pavitram yo mangalaanaam cha mangalam" In essence what is the point? It is a small thing. “I am only God’s” not anyone elses. For serving I belong to the world, but for our own purpose, I am no one elses. I only belong to God, simply accept yourself as being God’s, then this house belongs to God, this kingdom belongs to God, this family belongs to God, the wealth and possessions belong to God, the work is God’s, the food is God’s everything will become God’s. This is the absolutely Truth.I am sharing based on my very experience. The child that the mother has accepted as her own, when he climbs into the mother’s lap then the mother is pleased and joyful. If he climbs from the back onto her shoulder, then too she laughs and if he intentionally pretends to cry ‘Um-Um-Um” the Maa smiles that look he is pretending with me. What is that action performed by a child that the mother does not like? The child is mine. Similarly being God’s if we do all work, then all our actions will become worship and adoration of God. What to speak of worship and adoration, it makes God pleased, happy. Whatever work you do, God continues to remain happy. He is my child. My child is playing. What delight! The point is only one, to become God’s. This is the truth. If I ask you that have you taken birth in this household knowingly? If you are living, then are you intentionally living? If knowingly you are living, then who would be dead? No one would die. If you are living in a healthy body, is it knowingly so? If you were knowingly living like this, then do not ever fall sick. Whatever strength and intelligence you have, has it been knowingly acquired? Then why get old? Don’t become dependent. But you are becoming dependent. Therefore this pride is your own, nothing else. Your are simply filled with pride. Therefore I am Thakurji’s (God’s). I am dependent on God. Whatever strength Thakurji (God) gives, that alone I do. How much work did Hanumanji do? When Ramji went to Lanka, he created a bridge and then crossed the bridge. But Hanumanji simply flew over to the other side. Whose strength does he have? The strength that Hanumanji has comes from Thakurji (the Lord). “Baar baar raghubeer sambhaari.” “prabisi nagar keeje sab kaaja. Hrdey raakhee kosalpur raja.” It comes in Valmiki Ramayan that Hanumanji roared that even if thousand Ravans come they cannot spoil anything of mine, I am servant of the Lord (Thakurji).The world is suffering due to pride. Therefore have mercy and leave the pride, offer it to God, that I am God’s. All our strength has to be applied in doing God’s work. “Tvadeeya vastu Govind tubhyameva samarpaye”, “Sarvabhaaven bhajati maam” - with all sentiments they worship and adore God. Divine Name recitation is adoration, chanting holy name is adoration, reciting various scriptures is worship and adoration, to listen, to share, is all worship. By “Sarvabhaavena bhajati”, getting up, sitting, eating, drinking, sleeping, waking up, all work is God’s work that we are doing. What an elevated thing this is. We have taken refuge in the Lord and we will do only His work. The work is not ours at all. This is not our house, therefore it is no our work. All work is Lord’s work. I have heard from saints, he who cannot regard anything as his own, neither the mind, nor the intellect, nor the body, nor the life breath, nor the senses, nor the house, nor the wealth. When all things belong to Thakurji (Lord), then wherever they live there is nothing but joy! Everything is given to the Lord. Therefore they remain ever blissful. We have heard one thing about a Saint. Saints are very unique. When they go to the market and see the various different sweet dishes that are displayed, fruits that are kept and stores that are well decorated. Wherever they see some great things, there they stand-by and in their mind say, Lord (Thakurji), please partake in this offering. Please take these sweets as an offering. Simply standing they blissfully offer it to the Lord. Similarly, you too offering everything to Thakurji, please accept this offering, then it all becomes an offering. You tell me, what is the difficulty in doing this? Then you too do this. Who is preventing you from doing so? Wherever you see anything wonderful, offering it to the Lord (Thakurji). Everything belongs to Thakurji. What should we do? We will simply rejoice. Now we have no work remaining. Now it is only Lord’s work, Lord’s Name, Lord’s contemplation, listening to Lord’s divine stories. What work is remaining for you to do? You are doing the Lord’s work. Lord is the master of all the work in this universe. By offering everything that belongs to the master at his lotus feet, how much do you have to exert, tell me? You tell me that this is mine, but for how many days? How many years will you continue to say that it is mine? As such it will eventually remain the Lord’s. Therefore while living, turn it over to Him from the heart, then it will be joyful! What an easy and what a deep well grounded point this is! Saints have said - “Ram naam ki sampada do anter tak dhoon | Yaa to gupatee baat hai kaho bataave koon" Who will tell such a great point? And how easy it is! What a high class point this is ! What a worriless, fearless, blissful point this is ! neither worry, nor fear, nor dejection, nor desire to live, nor desire to die. We have no desire whatsoever. May our desire be blended (one) with the Lord. Now however the Lord does, however he keeps us -
“Jaahi vidhi raakhe Ram, taahi vidhi rahiye |SitaRaam, SitaRaam, SitaRaam kahiye"
We have no demand, nor any wish. By this our troubles will be wiped out, and God will become pleased with us. By considering it as ours, there will be worries. It is my room. Certain things are lying there. Clothes are drying there. Someone will take them, then there will be worries. Now when it is all offered (turned over) to God, then what ecstacy ! If it goes away it is the Lord’s, if it remains it is the Lord’s ! Narayana! Narayana! Narayana!
From book in Hindi "Jeevan Upyogi Pravachan" by Swami Ramsukhdasji