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6 Best Travel Resources for Budget Travel

best travel resources for budget travelAmericans spell it traveler, most others in the world spell it traveller, whichever way, here are six best resources for the budget traveler.

When I first started traveling, it felt super overwhelming. I didn’t any idea what the best travel resources were for budget travel. All I knew was that I wanted to do it as inexpensive as possible.

I mean, I wasn’t going to be one those ultra budget backpackers who slept in a tent in some random location. Getting to sleep in a cheap hostel with unpredictable guests and levels of noise? Now that’s my jam! haha.

Jokes aside, I didn’t have much of an idea of the best travel resources I could use as a backpacker on a budget. Whenever I would look around on Facebook groups or through Google searches, I would be inundated with lists detailed dozens or even hundreds of things. Talk about getting overwhelmed.

Slowly but surely, I started to find a small handful of things that have been super helpful not only to me, but many other budget travelers as well.

The resources below have helped me so much in being able to not only save money while traveling but also allowing me to travel to new places. A lot people get into the mindset that travel has to go a certain way. The typical scenario of booking a standard hotel room, using a large and common travel website to book flights, and overall thinking that travel is expensive.

Travel does cost money however you slice it. But it doesn’t have to be expensive. Through a little savviness and being resourceful, you can cut down on the cost tremendously.

Read below on the top travel resources for budget travel.


I used to never understand how people were able to get great flight deals. I thought it involved either obsessively checking flights nine times a day or signing up for a dozen different airline emails and just waiting.

Once I found Skyscanner, getting good deals on flights got a lot easier. Instead of using a big travel search platform like Expedia, I started using Skyscanner for most of my flight searches.

Skyscanner is great because it allows you to not only search for a destination you have in mind, but you can also put “everywhere” in the destination box and it will pull up a list of places (low to high) that you can travel to.

I used this a lot when I was living in Thailand and figuring out cheap places to travel to. Now that I’m back in the states, I use it to see where the cheapest flights to places in South America are.

As with a lot of travel planning, you have to be savvy and not just rely on one site. Skyscanner is great but I always make a point to check out Google Flights and Kayak as well.

Skyscanner, and also Kayak, have “hacker fares” where you fly different legs of a round-trip flight on different airlines. If you’re okay with not always flying direct, then you can get some good savings.


Who would want to stay in a bland hotel room when you could stay in a more spacious and accommodating Airbnb instead? The great thing about Airbnb is the variety of spaces offered, with the prices being comparable or even lower than traditional hotels/motels most of the time.

You can stay spacious rooms, full apartments or houses, Airstreams, trailers, and even tree houses!

I like Airbnb because of the flexibility it has. I used it to book an inexpensive room in Astoria, Queens for $35 a night when I took a trip to New York City a few months back. All the traditional hotel rooms would have cost $100+ a night.

Often times, you’re able to interact with the host and get recommendations on best places to visit and eat at. Always great to get the perspective of a local.

Click here to get a $40 credit towards your first stay! is a site you can use when you are on the search for a traditional hotel, motel, or guesthouse. Sometimes Airbnb doesn’t work out, you can’t find the right spot, or the offerings are sparse in an area. has plenty of offerings, often with low prices and no extra fees.

The interface of is really nice, letting you see all the features a place has (WiFi is probably at the top of priorities, amiright?). A great thing about the site is you can usually book a place without having to put down a deposit.

World Nomads

Travel insurance is essential. It’s weird to think about what would happen if you were to get injured or really ill while traveling, but it’s something you have to plan for. Most health insurance plans don’t cover you while you’re traveling. Even if they do, coverage might not be the best.

I have used and loved World Nomads for my travels. Their coverage is great, reporting claims is simple and they have great customer service.

Make sure to read the terms and fine print on any plans you’re considering to make sure it’s right for you.

Click here to get a quote for travel insurance!


What better way to find out more about a place than to spend it with a local? Couchsurfing is a community of travelers where you can search and find free accommodation across the world.

Although it’s way more than just free accommodation. You can use it to find community events, activities to do, and meet up with people.

Travel Reward Credit Cards

What? Credit cards? Those are evil!! Well, not exactly…

I swore off credit cards for the longest time because I thought getting one would immediately spiral me into horrible high-interest debt.

Luckily, that hasn’t happened, haha. I set up a financial foundation for myself before even touching credit cards. This involved getting on a budget and developing a debt payoff plan for my student loans.

Once that groundwork was laid, I went into the world of credit card sign-up bonuses. You see, there are lots of credit cards out there that offer sign up bonuses in the form of airline miles, travel credits, hotel credits, and more by spending a certain amount within the first few months of opening your account.

It’s usually something like “spend $3,000 within the first three months” or “$2,000 in the first three months” etc.

I’m not a credit cards expert. You’ll want to follow The Points Guy for that. Credit card rewards can help get rack up airline miles and travel credits to use for travel based on the typical monthly spending you’re already doing.

Get on it if you can!

What resources do you use for budget travel? Anything you’ve found to be super helpful?

So, What’s the Catch?

how to set actionable goalsThere comes a point when you just have to look at how things are and work with what you’ve got.

Money is like this in a way. People have lots of opinions on how best to navigate personal finances.

Which is the best way to set actionable goals? Do you do the debt snowball or debt avalanche? Should you have an emergency fund or not? Are side hustles all that important? What about privilege?

One of the top things people say whenever there is an impressive debt payoff story, rags to riches tale, or financial breakthrough is “So…what’s the catch?”

Those Debt Payoff Stories

Everyone loves a good debt payoff story. The sensational ones where a person paid off a big amount of debt in a small amount of time.

I don’t think I have one of those, depending on who you ask. I graduated university with $21,000 in student loans. I paid off those student loans in 18 months, at the age of 22, partly while living abroad in Thailand.

I’ve been congratulated on doing such a thing. Critical comments have been about how that “wasn’t even a lot of debt” or “there must be a catch”.

Indeed there is a catch to my debt payoff story. The “catch” is that I worked overtime at my blue collar job, worked seven days a week while in Thailand, set actionable goals, and upon being sick of looking at my debt, paid off the remaining amount with a large part of my emergency fund.

No matter how a person paid off debt there is always some critical comments. If the person makes a high salary then people complain that it was easy for them because of it. If a person side hustled their way to debt payoff, then people complain about the person having to do side hustles to pay off debt.

A former co-worker once said to me “Well, I’d like to see a debt payoff story where the person worked a regular job and  didn’t make a high salary or do side hustles to pay off their debt!”

While I understand their sentiment, I’m not sure they will ever see one those due to this thing called math. You have to grow the gap between your expenses and income in order to pay off your debt. That’s what it boils down to.

Yes, it can be annoying when a lot of personal finance news stories focus on middle-class couples with good paying jobs who suddenly had a ~~magical epiphany~~ and decided to stop wasting money.

Although, when you break it down, paying off a lot of debt or making significant financial progress comes down to it.

Income – expenses = the gap (focus on growing it)

Do The Actual Work

Sometimes people put too much focus on one area while neglecting the others. This is really true when it comes to talking about (touchy?) subjects like privilege.

Privilege is a real thing. Some people have a leg up on others when it comes to situations and opportunities. Not everyone is able to live at home in order to save money on rent. Different socioeconomic backgrounds have advantages. The list goes on.

However, when you choose to solely focus on that one area, you start to miss out on other opportunities that could come from when you put in the work.

For the longest time, I was angry with the fact that other people had their parents pay for cars for them and pay for part of their college. Meanwhile, I had to work as a dishwasher, work lots of hours, and save up for months to buy my first car at age 17. I had to pay for my college education on my own through the use of loans and working. I didn’t even have a laptop for the longest time. Instead, I had had to go to the public library to use one.

Things didn’t start improving until I sat down, acknowledged my situation, and made a plan for growth from there.

You can choose to sit idle and focus on your limitations or you can make a plan based on what you have.

Put What You Learn Into Practice

I’m part of a few blog and business groups on Facebook. There was one massive online business group I was a member of. In the group, I would constantly see people posting critical responses of other business owners.

The post would catch on, attract hundreds of comments from people agreeing, and then a few days later the same type of post would pop up and the cycle would repeat itself. While criticism of things can be good at times, when you’re constantly doing it, it can give you a false feeling of having actually done something.

It’s kind of like when you read a self-help or motivational book. You go through it, highlight a bunch of motivational quotes in it, and talk about it on social media. While that’s great to do, it’s even more important to put what you learned into practice.

Related: The Problem With Motivational Quotes

Don’t just read some book on entrepreneurship and share quotes from it on social media. Use what you learned from the book. Test things out, see how it works. You’ll learn a lot more when you’re in the process of doing rather than reading self-help book after self-help book over and over.

The Cautionary Tale of the Underpants Gnomes

Gotta go to work, work, work, work! We won’t stop ‘til we have underpants!

-The Underpants Gnomes (South Park)

You don’t want to look back several months or years from now and realize all you’ve been doing is collecting underpants.

What the heck am I talking about, you ask?

It’s a concept I learned about in the book Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb. In the show South Park, there is an episode where a group of gnomes sneak into people’s houses and steal their underpants and take them to a large underground cave each night.

The gnomes are stealing the underpants so they can have a mass collection to use when they build a highly successful business. When a gnome is asked why he is collecting underpants, his response is, “Collecting underpants is just phase 1!

When someone follows up with, “So what is phase 2?” The gnomes are confused and just say, “Phase 3 is profit! Phase 1 is collecting underpants!”.

They know what Phase one is (collecting underpants) and phase three (highly successful business) but they don’t know the critical phase two.

This happens when you read some amazing self-help book, watch an inspiring TEDx talk, or hear of somebody doing something amazing.

Don’t get stalled in the phase one stage of watching or reading something inspiring and then go, “Well, it’s easy for them!”.

Bottom Line

This post isn’t some call to “hu$tle harder” or “grind more”. It’s a call to acknowledge the situation and limitations you have and moving forward set some actionable goals. 

It may take longer or be harder for you to reach your goals compared to others, but small or slow progress is better than nothing.

What’s the catch? It’s figuring out your phase two and making a plan from there.

How have you been able to get past your limitations and setbacks? What is your phase two?

India Photo Journal

India photo journal I’ve wanted to go to India for several years. The country’s culture, the large population, the heartbreaking amount of people who live on less than $1 a day. It all interested me.

India is a country about 1/3 the size of the U.S.A. yet it has a population of 1.324 billion people, making it the second most populous country behind China’s 1.379 billion.

Planning a trip to India was always a bit of an undertaking. I never really knew how long to go for. The country packs so much into’s its size. Many travelers say even three months isn’t enough time to see all that there is.

I guess that’s kind of figurative. I spent a year living in Thailand and while there is a lot to see in Thailand, I would still say a 10-14 day trip is fine. Maybe India is different. Many people would agree.

It was always fascinating to hear people talk about their trips to India. Whenever I met backpackers who had done 2 week to one month or longer trips, they would always describe it in the same awe: it’s like no place you’ve traveled before.

I can agree with them. India is a fascinating, but chaotic and hectic place. There’s a lot of beauty and culture in the country but some crimes, particularly the 2012 Delhi case, have scared off tourists from visiting the country.

While India is a wonderful place to travel, it would be ill-advised to not mention the chaotic and aggressive nature it can have at times. I encountered the most aggressive touts while walking down the city streets.

With some safety practices, it starts to feel better. I used a GPS tracking cab app called OLA to have a good cab experience. Every rickshaw was double-checked before getting in. And I read up on the common scams tourists fall to when visiting. Coupled with this knowledge, the experience, while still hectic, was a lot better.

For female India travel tips, Global Gallivanting and Hippie in Heels are good resources.

Originally I wanted to travel and backpack India on my own. The idea of tours and only having a set amount of time for each place and attraction don’t interest me. Eventually, through finding a flexible option, I did choose a group tour.

Traveling with a group was better than I thought. I picked the Northern India Explorer tour with Geckos Adventures. The trip hit the most popular tourist itinerary known as The Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra Jaipur) while also including additional stops in the holy city of Varanasi as well as the town of Bundi.

The tour group had seven Australian women and then me, the only guy and only American, haha. After doing so much solo travel, it was really nice to get to see and experience a place with others.

I got to experiment with a new wide angle lens I got for my Sony a5100. During the editing of the photos, my head was down and watching new YouTube tutorials to learn Adobe Lightroom some more. Hope you like the pictures! They’re a small fraction of all the ones I took!

Hope you enjoy this India photo journal! You can check out my photo journal of Malaysia from last year as well.

india travel in your 20s bundi
Gazing while in Bundi
jama masjid delhi
Jama Masjid in Delhi
humayun tomb travel
Peek-a-boo of Humanyun Tomb
bundi india travel
Bundi living
bundi travel india
Daily life in Bundi
amber fort in jaipur
Amber Fort in Jaipur
The MVP: Taj Mahal!
varanasi travel
Varanasi Sunset boat trip
india travel in your 20s
Something you see a lot: cows roaming freely around the streets
varanasi travel
man in Varanasi
varanasi travel
family photo in Varanasi
varanasi travel, india travel
Boat ride on the Ganges River in Varanasi
Rooftop outlooks in Delhi
Spices of Jaipur, India travel, Jaipur
Spices of Jaipur
india travel in your 20s sikh temple
With the meal preparers at the Sikh Temple
india travel in your 20s delhi
Walking around in Delhi
india travel in your 20s jama masjid
A mom and her kids at the Jama Masjid in Delhi


Why You Should Speak Up About Your Money Struggles

speak up about your money strugglesLong before I started this blog, I was an avid reader of personal finance blogs. It had started back when I was in university  looking for a way to read about other people’s thoughts on money.

Up until that point, the only time I ever had money conversations was when it was centered on being broke and feeling super stressed about it. When I clicked through to the world of personal finance, new conversations opened up.

There were discussions about financial health, savings strategies, debt, career, and making extra income. It opened up my mind to learn more about navigating my financial life and ways to improve it.

Talking about money in day to day life was hard. Reading blogs and hearing people’s stories made it easier. I revised my budget. I went through different savings strategies after reading several posts. I tried out new tools and my financial life started to improve. It was at a glacier’s pace, but slow and steady progress nonetheless.

Eventually, it led to me creating my own personal finance blog. I was ready to set out on the mission of demystifying personal finance and blogging about paying off my student loan debt.

In a way, it was cathartic. I got to write about my inner motivations, my hatred towards my debt, and finding my way towards financial confidence.

Writing each post was fun, but I did start to get a nagging feeling. Whenever I was going through a period of struggling with money, I would shy away from talking about it. In place of any updates on my own money journey, I would usually just not write, as evident by a blogging hiatus and sometimes in-frequent content.

It’s hard to write about money when you’re broke or struggling

It’s hard because you feel like you’re constantly behind. You’re not putting thousands towards investments like the early retirement crowd. Debt still plagues you. You don’t have some high-paying job that allows you to take the ultra-common advice of “cut expenses and spend less”.

People like to ask the question “what’s next?” a lot. In some ways, growth is seen as trying and doing new things. The routine isn’t very fun.

When you’re just staying afloat with debt behind you and a low savings rate, there isn’t much to say.

Restlessness and stress are common among a lot of millennials. We constantly see others going on vacations and living it up. We have money struggles because we’re making low wages and stuck with $37,000 of student loan debt on our backs. Living like a real, bonafide adult (like our parents were able to do in their time) isn’t possible.

Massive saving rates, fully stocked emergency funds, and having the ability to travel don’t feel applicable to us. For most, we’re just trying to get through the day.

Experiencing money struggles is stressful and awkward, but it’s something you shouldn’t  hide away. Here’s why you should speak up about your money struggles.

Growth Comes From Discomfort

Discomfort can be a terrible thing. It keeps you anxious. You’re always in an “on” mode and never able to rest. Fear lingers as your back aches from carrying your burdens.

Your burdens could be a number of things. Maybe it’s a heaping pile of debt. You could be underemployment and hate it. Whatever it is, come to terms with it.

Don’t bury your head in the sand. Yeah, you may not be maxing out your retirement accounts or jaunting around the world, but when you get clear on your situation, you can start to make progress.

The path of personal growth is rarely a linear and comfortable route.

If you don’t speak up and say something, then nothing will change. Words are powerful. They allow you to get brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses.

From there, you can start to make a plan to move forward. Maybe it’s throwing an extra $30 a month at your debt, doing a few Craigslist gigs for extra money, or reading up on ways to better yourself and your finances.

You’re reading this blog right now, so I know you’re committed to learning about how to get out of your money struggles.

Everyone Has Their Ups And Downs

I’m sure there’s someone you look up to a lot. There are people in real life who seem to have it all together. Someone on social media looks like they’re living it up and doing great.

While it looks like people have it together, everyone has their money struggles they’re going through.

Back when I started reading blogs, there was this one blogger who I loved. Their site was full of great blog posts, they traveled several places, got to work with well-known brands, and posted income reports. They even ditched their full-time job for a life of solopreneurship.

It truly looked like they were doing great.

As time went on, changes happened. This person struggled with their business, trying to find the right business model, and dealing with fluctuating income from month to month.

Then one day I read a post by the blogger where they had made the decision to quit solopreneurship and go back to working a 9 to 5 job.

Everyone has their struggles, no matter what the surface level looks like. People can have more empathy than you may think.

Connecting with others who are going through similar money struggles, either presently or in the past, can be helpful. Plus, a little accountability can be good.

When You Speak Up, You Can Make More

Speaking up and asking around can yield results and opportunities you may not have even expected. It could be doing compiling your work accomplishments and using it to ask for a raise, negotiate your salary for a job offer, or seeking out cheaper alternatives for expenses.

Let people know the ways you’re looking to improve.

How have you gotten through money struggles?

Travel, Survival Jobs, and Life in Transition

constant in life australia backpacker travel

At the start of this year, I found myself sitting at my desk in a humid filled room. It was the morning time and the school forbade us from turning on the air conditioning until 8:30 a.m.

I had been living in Thailand for nearly a year at that point. My pay was small but paired with the low cost of living, it evened out.

Eager to finish paying off the rest of my student loans, I picked up a part-time job tutoring and started to work seven days a week. With expenses being low, I was able to put a good portion of my income towards debt every month.

When I did get free time, I traveled to new places. I went all over Thailand, seeing new islands and exploring places like the edge of the world. Malaysia and Myanmar followed suit, getting to explore new temples and cuisine.

The only problem was things didn’t feel stable. I was in a transitionary period of my life. There was the shaky thought of if I moved a little too much, things would be pulled out from under me and I wouldn’t have anything.

I knew I didn’t want to teach English forever and ever, but I didn’t really know what was next. Neither did anyone else I worked with at the school. Every one of us, ages ranging from 21 (me at the time) to 34. Most of us didn’t know what we wanted to do. Not just with our careers but our lifestyles.

Finding a Constant In Daily Life

Eager for something of a constant to hold onto, I continued to write and work on my blog. I had started just before leaving the states and wanted to use it to document my financial path and adventures.

The blog (this blog) became the thing I held onto whenever things changed. I held onto this site when I wasn’t sure where I was going to live next or what job was going to come.

A desire formed to want to work on it more. I bought one of those big fold up white tables from the supermarket for 1,278 baht ($38 USD) and used it as my workstation in my little apartment. Then I quit my part-time tutoring gig. Signing up at a co-working place, I started to commute into Bangkok on the weekends when I was off from my full-time job.

My teaching job had started to become something of a confusion. I liked the teaching but disliked everything else: the school system, co-workers, and questionable teaching standards. Every morning, I sat for half an hour in the humid, no air conditioning teaching lounge and contemplated what I wanted to do.

I loved to travel but yearned for the routine. I wanted to go around the globe yet stay in the states full time. Everything clashed against one another and it was confusing.

The First FinCon Went By in a Blur

This confusion carried over into the states when I visited back in September 2016 to attend my very first FinCon. People would ask me what my blog was about and I would look at them with the vague expressed of “uhhh…personal finance?” I didn’t know what my main focus was.

The whole conference went by in a blur. I went back to Thailand not sure what to make of it and not convinced I would go back again.

Things changed again a few months later while in Thailand. I ended my contract with my full-time teaching job without another job lined up. My mind had been in Australia for a while and I had applied and gotten a 12-month working holiday visa the month prior.

Moving to Australia With No Plan

In April, with a body filled to the brim with nerves, I hopped on a plane and took the 21-hour journey to Sydney, Australia. I arrived in the early hours of the morning, with a backpack, one duffel bag, and no job or anything lined up other than a three-night stay at a hostel.

Nothing was waiting for me and the next few months were blurry and confusing. I had left Thailand in March and didn’t get my first official job in Australia until June. Unemployed for three months, it wasn’t fun.

Well, for the most part, it wasn’t fun. I don’t think anyone would love the idea of living and sleeping in a 10 x 14 room with five other people. As a backpacker, you just make it work.

During the two months of hostel living, I met an assortment of people. A law student from France, a guy from Spain who liked to learn American slang, and even an Instagram famous woman! Maybe one day she’ll start promoting Fit Tea on the ‘gram? Who knows!

It was fun getting to meet a diverse group of people. All of them spoke about their love of travel and getting out to see the world. None of them liked the idea of sitting in an office for 8-10 hours a day.

It reminded me of my reason for moving abroad. I hadn’t done it as a way to “ditch the cubicle” considering that I didn’t even work in a cubicle or office. I had done it because I had always wanted to travel more long term.

Despite the varying reasons for being abroad, we all did what we had to do to afford the dream of travel. We worked our survival jobs, showing up every day and saving up as much as we could so the possibility of traveling for a few months afterward would be possible. We huddled together in the small hostel room, on our bunk beds, and recounted the day’s events.

I haven’t been tons of places but have been to several and noticed a common trend to all the travelers I talked with. Throughout it all, the late night drinks, the hours-long conversations about life, a realization came about. 

We Were All Just as Lost as the People Back Home

On Instagram and Facebook, our curated lives looked appealing. Shots of airplane wings and coconuts on the beach. The day to day showed a different story. Feelings of restlessness and anxious about the future. We were hopping from survival job to survival job in order to keep our ambitions afloat.

Thinking long-term was hard, it required exposing yourself and being uncomfortable. That’s the feeling I had when had attended FinCon16. A restless feeling of being uncomfortable.

Drifting and living in the moment was the focus for so many of us traveling. Of all the people, a big thing I noticed was a lack of some sort of constant in their day to day lives. They didn’t have anything to hold onto whenever any change or uncertainty happened. 

One day, while sitting in a street-side restaurant in Thailand, I was stressed about finishing the school year without another job lined up. I didn’t know what to do and the thought of it was eating away at me.

“Well at least you have your blog and your writing,” a friend/co-worker of mine said. “I have nothing” she added.

That has stuck with me for two reasons. The first reason being that she thought she had nothing to go back to (which I later found out was a fear of not getting a job back in the states).  The second reason being I had never really known how much an impact my blog had on me until recently. For the longest time, I treated it as a hobby that I was just really gung-ho about. Now, it’s possible that it was more than that.

My blog has been the constant in my life over the past 1.5 years of moving around. It’s what has gotten me out of bed in the morning. It fills my thoughts when I go to bed.

I don’t dream and think about sitting at a computer alone, typing words into a screen. I think about sharing stories and information. Hearing what others are doing and making.

My work contract in Australia ended right before I came to FinCon17. It was a blow to the stomach. If it had happened a year ago, I would have been completely lost, which is what I felt when I attended FinCon16.

However, I didn’t lose all sense of myself once I walked out for the last time from that job. For the last few months, I had been working on other things and slowly building up a sense of myself.

A Better FinCon Experience

When I attended FinCon17, as a newly minted unemployed person, I felt recharged. I had my blog and I had been freelance writing for several months at that point.

At the present moment, I’m sitting in Texas. My freelance writing side hustle is growing from all the contacts I got while at the FinCon freelancers marketplace. I’m focusing more on my blog.

I’m still not sure if I’ll make this a full-time gig, but I’m exploring my options and applying for jobs all over. I may go back to Australia and do another work holiday stint. Not totally sure.

All I know for sure is without these two things, my blog and my side hustle, I would feel a lot more uncomfortable and restless.

Simply getting started, on my blog and my side hustle, and learning to be okay with the uncomfort that came with it, has allowed me to build a constant in my life as I go through these transitions. A life in progress, as you could call it.

I could have just not started it all. I could have stayed for years and years in my safe, but dull, teaching job in Thailand. Many others have.  Although at the end of the day, I knew it was the right choice to leave. It’s what allowed me to experience Australia. And leaving Australia is what allowed me to experience the ultimately great and far less uncomfortable FinCon17.

Let’s see what’s next to come.

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” – Abraham Maslow

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