Since companies like Google or the Austin- and Portland-based start-ups of the world have become famous for their fun and liberal company culture, it seems that more and more companies are trying to jump on the fun train. Millennials continue to rank work/life balance and a positive company culture just as or more important than traditional perks like health insurance and PTO. The quality of work life has become a driving factor in choosing to work with a company. According to a new study by Fidelity, "On average, millennials would be willing to give up $7,600 in salary every year to work at a job that provided a better environment for them." All kinds of corporate team building activities have been growing increasingly popular, with some seeming more like a Michael Scott idea than a real one.

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Last week, a few members of my team and I decided to try our own hand at team building outside of the office and chose to go to a local New York City Escape Room called Exodus. Here's the premise of an Escape Room. You start with a team of 2-10 players and agree to being locked in a small room where you must work together to find a key that unlocks the door to get out in less than hour. If you don't make it out in 60 minutes, you lose.

Over the past decade, the interest in Escape Rooms has been steadily growing across the country. Not only do you get to test your analytical skills and puzzle solving capabilities, but your sense of patience and level-headedness under pressure are brought to light as well. Escape Rooms are a fun way to challenge yourself with a small group of friends, coworkers, or even strangers if you team up with other patrons. My coworkers and I formed an average sized team of five and had never done much more outside of the office than the occasional work Happy Hour, so we were excited and a bit nervous.

We had three rooms to choose from: Exodus is recommended for first timers, Hound of Baskerville is the next level up and Masquerade Manor is for the most experienced players. We went for Exodus since only one of us had ever tried an Escape Room before. The Exodus room had an Indiana Jones vibe and was set in a museum with Egyptian artifacts. The premise of the story is that we're in the New York History Museum and the ghost of the evil Pharaoh Ramses II has possessed the art curator and is devising the end of the world. We were given a brief introduction to the facility and a short list of rules, then the timer began and we were left alone to "escape the room."

Exodus Escape the Room

The experience that followed wasn't claustrophobic or stressful like I had anticipated, but instead taught me a valuable lesson about teamwork. We were working with each other and found ourselves repeating "leave no stone unturned" (seriously, we were fully embracing it). Every member of the team was contributing in different ways and it was entertaining to see how each of us worked under pressure. Because we were a team of coworkers, the sense of camaraderie was high and the trash talking kept to a minimum.

We made it out in a boastful 37 minutes and were surprised by the sense of accomplishment we all felt afterward. Getting to see where everyone's skills lie was fascinating and revealed that everyone on a team adds value. One person was looking more abstract, another person was looking more at details that most of us didn't notice, while someone else was re-reading all of the clues. The game revealed how different perspectives brought to the table can help solve a problem more efficiently. It was fun to see how we reacted to different puzzles and mind games especially with the pressure of the timer thrown in the mix. We didn't even have to ask for a clue! We felt a sense of accomplishment when we successfully "escaped the room," and we all agreed we'd do it again. The game was more fun and challenging than we had expected, and we were proud of ourselves for working together to make solve the mystery.

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.