Tag Archives: travel

A love letter to Sevilla

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I’m writing a love letter to Sevilla. The city that inspired me from the second I set foot in Spain. The wonderful people who seem to be living with no stress, even when life isn’t always easy. The siestas and the sangrias. The sun. Sevilla made me smile. Made me realize that no matter what happens in my life, the world is absolutely beautiful and magnificent. The world is inspiring, the world is incredible. Spain is incredible. I’m writing a love letter to Sevilla. I remember eating tapas for just a couple euros. I remember waking up and the Cathedral being the first thing I see when walking outside. The people I’ve met along the way. I’m writing a love letter to Sevilla because Sevilla allowed me to be inspired again. Sevilla showed me I would be okay even when everything isn’t okay. And most importantly. Sevilla told me it would always be there.

How to pack for vacation

Packing for vacation has always been one of my favorite/least favorite things to do. I used to OVERPACK all the time. Luckily I never had to pay extra for an overweight suitcase but I would end up packing things I wouldn’t even consider wearing while on holiday.


But after all the traveling I’ve done in the past years I’ve gotten quite good at packing my suitcase and I wanted to give you some tips on how to pack!

PLAN YOUR OUTFITS

This is easily the biggest & best tip I can give you. If you plan your outfits you will most likely only bring clothes you actually need & will wear. I used to throw all the clothing items I thought I would wear into a suitcase and it was one big mess. So planning is very essential.

START PACKING A COUPLE DAYS IN ADVANCE

While you’re planning your outfits you might find out that a shirt you want to wear is still in the laundry or a pair of jeans you want to pack are a little dirty. Those extra days give you the time to make sure you have everything you need & you still have time to run to the store if you need to pick up other things.

TOILETRY BAG

If you stay at a hotel you will be able to use the things offered at the hotel. If you don’t want to do that and you want to bring your own stuff, buy different, smaller shampoo/hair products bottles. Toiletry ALWAYS seems too weight so much, obviously, and I rather not waist any available space. If you carry around full sized products you will need half of your suitcase just for that. Also, lots of these smaller sized products are small enough to pack in your carry-on! When flying from state to state in the US, or when flying from one country to another in Europe, you pay extra for checked luggage. If you’re only traveling for a week or so, a carry-on suitcase should be enough.

USE LITTLE CONTAINERS FOR MAKE UP/SHAMPOO

That way, if you can’t find a small sized bottle of your favorite shampoo, you can still fill up a little container with it and tadaaaa. You can find these containers at your local drugstore. I recently bought a few containers myself and I am very happy I finally got these little things.

MAKE UP BAG

I usually don’t wear too much make up while on vacation, unless I’m going out, but make sure you make a selection of the make up you do own. I have so many eye shadows laying around and although I use all of them, I have to make a decision of what I really want to carry around and what I want to leave at homeI often pack two make up bags. One very small one I can put in my carry-on and one larger one I put in my actual suitcase. My small one usually contains a mascara, powder, a concealer stick and some eye shadow. Why you may ask? If they do end up losing my luggage I have my basic make up products with me so I don’t have to run to a store to try & find the ones I use while I wait for my luggage to arrive.

CARRY-ON BAG

I usually travel with both a carry-on, a purse & a checked suitcase. Unless I’m traveling in Europe. But if I do check luggage as well I make sure that my carry-on contains both my make-up bag, one or two outfits, underwear and an extra pair of shoes. The reason for this is simple, like I mentioned before, if they do end up losing your suitcase, you should be okay, because you have an extra outfit in your carry-on, until you get it back.

JEWELRY

When packing jewelry I also make sure everything I want to bring matches with my outfits so I don’t carry 20 necklaces around. I have a cute little bag I always bring on vacation with my favorite jewelry items.

MEDICINE

I know this might sound a bit silly but I always carry medicine with me. Medicine for headaches, for when you have a stomach ache, … I prefer carrying my own medicine because when traveling to a different country, I either don’t speak the language fluently enough to try & explain what I need (Spain, Germany, Brazil) or I might travel to an area where I might need to drive a little before I find a drug store. I always carry the basic medicine in my purse, so if I have a painful headache while exploring, I can help myself out without needing to go anywhere. I met a few new friends in Sevilla little while ago and they at first though it was funny up until they realized they’d be grateful if I was around when they needed something.

WEIGH YOUR SUITCASE AT HOME

You can buy a little luggage scale and that way you are 100% certain you didn’t overpack and you won’t have to pay extra fees when arriving at the airport. I know you can do this at the airport but if your luggage weighs too much you have to awkwardly unpack and put some things in your purse or carry-on (if possible!) before checking in.

LEAVE SOME EXTRA ROOM

When zipping up, make sure you don’t have any issues because let’s be honest here. They’re not always gentle with your luggage at the airport. If you struggled zipping up your suitcase, it might just break while getting tossed & thrown around. This way you obviously also leave some room for souvenirs!

ELECTRONICS & CHARGERS

When traveling outside the country don’t forget to check what plug & socket types there are being used in the country you’re visiting. You can always buy this at the airport but you will guaranteed pay more money there than at home.

CAMERAS/LAPTOPS/TABLETS

Never pack these things in your suitcase, always put this in your carry on. Like mentioned before, they are not really that careful with your suitcase and the things I mentioned are too expensive & valuable. You don’t want to open up your suitcase and notice that your laptop screen is broken.

I hope some of these tips were useful to you! What did I forget, what do you always do when packing? And where are you going to next?

Leaving for Spain today!

I am leaving for Spain today (I’m so excited) so I scheduled a few posts for the upcoming days. I will have tons of new things to blog about after I get back & I can not wait to share my (hopefully very fun & exciting) stories and photos.

I’ll be uploading photos, taken with my iPhone, on my instagram account & will be tweeting whenever I have the chance. Feel free to follow me on both if you want to stay updated while I’m gone. You know, in case you miss my blogs… Juuust kidding.

Ps- I have no idea how in the world I was able to pack for five days, while everything fits in this tiny (hand luggage) suitcase. I think I officially mastered packing.

Been there, done that tag

I love reading about everyone’s travel dreams & plans. It inspires me so much and I instantly want to start planning another vacation. I recently came along a wonderful Dutch blog called All Lovely Things and Mandy, the owner, posted a very fun travel tag. I loved the questions so much so I thought answering them would make a fun blog! Which countries have you been to? I’ve been to, I hope I don’t forget any, the Netherlands, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Vatican City, Italy, Spain, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, North America, South America, Brazil, South Africa, Luxembourg & Monaco. Oh and I’ve traveled to 15 different states in the US as well.


What is your dream destination? Australia. I’ve been dreaming about visiting for the longest time and hopefully I’ll get to go soon.


What is your most ideal vacation? (beach vacation, shopping trip, cultural vacation, etc.) An exploring type of vacation. I can’t stay on the beach all the time, although I love the beach, because that’s too boring for me. I want to explore, see things, eat new food, meet new people.


Which place has been so special you’d love to visit it again? Probably, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). That place just left its mark on me.


Show us your favorite vacation photo This is so hard! Aaahhh I have so many favorite vacation photos. But I think this is my favorite one, or one of my favorite photos. The timing was perfect. The sun was setting. This was taken on top of the Rockefeller Center with a view of Downtown NY & the Empire State Building.


Have you traveled for work before to a fun destination? If yes, where? I wish.. Hopefully & maybe in the future. That’d be an absolute dream. Combining both traveling & working. That way I never have to work a day again.


Who are you usually traveling with? Usually all alone, but I (most of the time) travel to places where I have friends so I travel by myself but I meet up & stay with my friends when I get to my destination.


Who would you loved to go on vacation with? (this can be everybody: a family member, a friend or a famous person) Someone, this may be someone I know or not, who loves to explore & do things that aren’t always touristy. Someone who’s not afraid to try new foods and to just have a generally good & exciting time.


Who or what would you bring with you to a deserted island? Food.. Because I really can’t see myself catching fish and cook it. Sunglasses because I’m practically blind in the sun and a blanket for colder evenings.


Have you traveled in your own country before? If yes, where? Traveling? Not really, but I enjoy exploring cities nearby. Like Bruges, Ghent & Antwerp! The photo below was taken in Ghent on a cold, but lovely Fall day.


Do you prefer an amusement park or a zoo? Amusement park hands down. I’m kind of against zoos. I understand why zoos exist but half of the time the animals are in very poor condition and I love animals too much to see them behind bars & windows.


Would you rather go on a ski holiday or a summer vacation? Summer vacation because I LOVE THE SUN and the heat so much. I really am not a winter person and although I went skiing once and I loved it, I’d rather be somewhere where I don’t have to wear seven coats & twelve pairs of socks in order to survive.


What is your favorite vacation memory?  I have so many ahhh. Visiting the redeemer in Rio was one of them. Randomly & unexpectedly seeing Gotye in NYC. Celebrating my 18th birthday in Los Angeles, overlooking the skyline. Oh and every time I get to visit a Disney park. The photo below is one of the foggy skyline of Los Angeles after hiking up to the Griffith Observatory!

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What is your least favorite vacation memory?  I have two. The first one was the most recent one. I was volunteering in South Africa with wild cats back in March of 2014. I got a massive sunburn the first day and I ended up having a really bad reaction/allergy/I still don’t know what it was to the heat, the sun and the sunburn so one day it got so bad I had to stay inside. And that was the last thing I wanted to do, stay inside while I could have been spending my time with lions.

The other one was when I was attempting to fly back from Rio to NYC and my flight got cancelled. They announced the cancellation about 30 minutes before our flight was supposed to take off. I ended up having to wait at the airport for a good FIVE HOURS in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT before they were able to put me on another flight the next day. It was miserable, I was forced to take a taxi, in Portuguese (I don’t speak Portuguese), at 3am, back to my friend’s house.


 Where are you going to this year?  Right now I only have one mini vacation planned, a couple days getaway to Sevilla, Spain. I’m applying for several jobs so I hope I get to start working soon. If I end up not finding a job just yet I’m sure I’ll end up traveling a bit more.


Where would you never go on vacation?  I really want to see as much as possible from this world but besides seeing the Taj Mahal I don’t really want to visit India. Maybe one day I’ll change my mind about this.


I hope you enjoyed reading some of these questions & feel free to also blog about this travel tag! I want to read your answers too!

How to plan a road trip!

Last May, my friend Casey & I drove down the Californian coast. I’ve posted separate blogs about that trip back then but today I would love to give you a few tips on how to plan a road trip!

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Planning is very crucial if you only have a week or two, like we did. Because you don’t want to lose time looking up things when on the road! If you have more time it’s less crucial, but always convenient.

These are the most important things you should keep in mind:

  • where do you want to stop
  • how long does it take to get from point a to point b
  • where are you staying
  • what do you want to do at each stop

Renting a (or using your own) car is always the easiest way to get around. This is more expensive because you will need to find a place each night to stay and of course car + gas prices. But it gives you a lot more freedom. If you want to backpack you have to make sure there is public transportation to take you from point a to b. Backpacking in Europe is a whole lot easier than the US. We ended up renting a car from Sunny Cars. Extra car renting tip: rent a car with a full tank of gas and able to return it with no gas left. That way you don’t have to look around for a gas station upon return! (We got lucky and got a way nicer car than we expected since we originally booked a small, “cheap” car)

We decided we had about 12 days to road trip from San Francisco to San Diego (and back to LA to fly out of there). As soon as you have the beginning and end of your trip you can start planning for real. We changed plans so often, realizing we couldn’t do everything we wanted to so prepare to change plans. We ended up dropping our car off in San Diego and took a train back to LA (union station). From there we took a bus to the airport. That ended up being cheaper instead of paying for two more days.

We made a list of the places we definitely wanted to stop at, wrote down how long it would take from that place to the next one and where to stay that night. Major cities are usually more expensive so some days we would drive a little further to lower the hotel/hostel prices. If you can’t find any affordable place, try and check out airbnb! I mentioned this place a few times before but definitely well worth it.

I created a very organized word document writing down (1) the city, (2) activities we could do, (3) prices of hotel/activities, (4) how long we would have to drive. This list helped us a ton while on the road. You still have tons of freedom, (always try to book hotels with free cancellation), but while you only have 12 days you don’t lose time trying to figure out where to go next!

Bring a little notebook with you to write down important things (phone numbers, streets you want to/need to remember, hotel addresses) just in case your phone battery dies.

I absolutely loved every minute of our road trip and hopefully will be able to leave for another road trip in the future! Have you ever done a road trip? Where have you been and did you like it?

xoxo -N

General travel tips

I’ve traveled quite a lot in the past 7/8 years and I want to share some more travel tips with you! You can check out some specific accommodation & flight tips underneath the Travel Tips tab.

✈ The first question you have to ask yourself even before you start booking a trip, whether it’s far away or not, do I have the amount of money I’ll need set aside? Sounds like a dumb question, but really there aren’t any dumb questions, but it’s something I’ve noticed not everyone always does. Write down what you think you might need for each day (think about food & activities) so you don’t encounter surprises when you’re at your destination. Always save your credit- & debit card receipts, that way you can keep track of what you’ve spend if you’re not carrying cash around.

✈ Don’t convert money at airports or even at the destination you’re going, you will ALWAYS lose money that way and it’s so much cheaper to already convert money back home, at your local bank or at a bank in the country you’re visiting (you will usually pay around $5 fees)

✈ Check public transportation options, when you’re in bigger cities for at least a week it’s always a good idea to buy a week train/bus/metro card, checking these options are useful to see whether you might need to rent a car (think about the LA area, there aren’t that many public transportation options)

✈ If you can’t find a hotel/hostel suitable for your budget, check airbnb, it’s a website where people rent rooms/houses, often very cool & nice looking and most of the time so much cheaper!

✈ Check when there are public holidays at your destination. If you want to go when it’s less busy it’s always nice knowing when it’s busy. Or it’s always fun knowing when there are special events organized! It’s always useful to do this especially when you’re booking a city trip. How much would it suck if you book a trip to Madrid to shop and you get there and all the stores are closed?

✈ ALWAYS have an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag (that if you travel with checked luggage), thankfully airlines have never lost my luggage before but if it does happen you have extra clothes for at least another day or two before you do receive your luggage

✈ The biggest general travel tip I can give to you is, sorry travel agencies, book your trip yourself. From your hotel to your flight. I often check travel deals and see whether there are any good deals available but if I try to book the hotel offered in the deal myself it’s often cheaper. It’s a lot easier to book an entire ‘deal’ but saving money is always nice. I’m actually especially talking about those travel deal websites who say that you’re saving 30% or more. I can guarantee you that they’re lying most of the time. And if you’re not sure, google the hotel/flight yourself and compare the prices!

✈ Traveling alone is fun too. You are free to do whatever you want to and nowadays there are tons of people traveling alone. Try staying at a (youth) hostel and you will meet new people, often from all parts of the world, who also travel alone and are down to hang out with new friends.

✈ Compare, compare and compare. Don’t book a hotel or flight straight away. Compare prices at different websites. Sometimes it’s cheaper to book a room at booking, but sometimes a hotel offers a special deal if you book straight through their website. You will spend more time planning, but it’s worth it

I hope some of these tips are useful to you, please let me know if you have any tips yourself and I’d love to future them in a new travel tips blog!

xoxo -N

Road trip time!

My friend Casey & I are planning a road trip.. Life is so exciting.

Booking & Mapping

I fly to San Francisco the 7th of May where I’ll be meeting up with my friend from Washington D.C. the 9th to start our road trip through California. We will be driving along the coast and stop in places like Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Los Angeles, Newport Beach and more. I tried putting our road trip in google maps as you can see in the picture below.

We booked most of our hostel/hotels already, still one place to book (Monterey!) and we might cancel certain places in between if we end up finding a better deal. We booked most of the places on booking.com (yay for free cancellation).

We’re renting a car so we don’t have to pay attention to train times and it gives us a lot more freedom. Busses & trains might be cheaper but we’re in California, public transportation isn’t the same as it is in New York. If you use trains you might have to end up taking a lot taxis.

Planning

We started planning this road trip months and months ago, I’d suggest that if you want to plan a road trip, whether it’s for a week or a month, you start planning a lot in advance. Deciding where to go to when you start is fun, but it means you’ll lose a lot of time trying to figure it all out. (I guess you can do that when you have months). We changed our trip several times due to inconveniences or places that ended up being too far away. I can honestly say I’ve spend hours into changing stuff.

We now do have a very organized itinerary which I’ll be printing out, the old fashioned way, and I’m sure it’ll be extra helpful along the way.

xo naomi

Visitors from all around the world!

I was checking my stats the other day and it’s pretty cool to see that people from a lot of different places visit this blog! I’ve been having a lot of fun writing blogs and I enjoy re-reading them every now and then. My mom now knows what I’m doing when I travel and even the rest of my family stays up to date.

Thank you for your visits! And please feel free to give me some advice on how to make things (even more) interesting!

xo naomi

Photo update from Bloemfontein, South Africa

Time flies when you’re having fun right? I got home yesterday after an extremely long travel day! Been catching up with my mom & sister and I found the time to upload some photos. It’s so hard to make a selection and I haven’t received all the photos yet, but I wanted to share some of my favorite ones with you already! Click on the photo below and I hope you like ’em!

xo naomi

I want to go to New York but it’s too expensive!

New York City is indeed an expensive place to visit, especially if you want to do things, visit places and stay somewhere safe and clean. I’m lucky enough to have several friends living in New York now, but the first time I came to New York I had to figure it out myself too. I would love to share you some of my tips and tricks on how to go to New York and not be completely broke.

“Flights to New York are so expensive” 

It all depends on where you live obviously, but booking a flight is usually the first step. My go-to website to search for flights is Kayak. It’s easy and you get to compare different companies & schedules. That way you’ll know what flight is your best option.

If it’s possible, try to fly during the week, preferably between Tuesday & Thursday, flights are often cheaper on those days. I’ve seen it happen several times that flights can be a €100,- more expensive if I want to leave on a Saturday, instead of a Thursday or even a Friday. Be flexible when it comes to your dates!

Flying during the Summer is always more expensive, sadly, there’s not that much you can do about it. Booking your flight a few months ahead of time always helps but it remains more expensive than let’s say flying to NYC in October.

Extra tip: pay attention to the American holidays! It might just be a regular day/week in France, it might be a holiday in the US, which might make it more expensive to travel to and from the States.

“I can’t find an affordable, yet clean hotel”

I understand your pain, NY is ridiculously expensive when it comes to hotels. I always use Booking to look for hotels. It’s easy to compare hotels that way. Sadly, hotels are still expensive but Booking usually has pretty great “Smart Deals” or “Secret Deals”. Subscribe to their website and you get e-mails with GREAT deals.

If I can suggest one thing.. Wait to book your hotel till a few days before you leave! Hotels want to get rid of their rooms, even if that means people will have to pay less for a room. I’ve seen hotel rooms with discounts of 50%, a few days before I had to book a room.

Or, book months and months in advance. That way you’ll find a bunch of early deals.

Is Booking legit? Absolutely. I have never had any problems. I also love their free cancellation policy on most rooms, that way I can still cancel if necessary a day or two before I was planning on staying there.

Extra tip: try to be adventurous and stay in Brooklyn/New Jersey. Hotels are often (a bit) cheaper if you don’t stay in Manhattan or nearby Times Square, Central Park, Bryant Park (you get what I’m trying to say). Brooklyn is still only a 15/20 minute train ride away and so is New Jersey. It also gives you the chance to explore even more things.

“Okay, I’ve booked a flight & a hotel, do I need to rent a car too?”

No! Absolutely not, if you plan on staying in NYC, don’t rent a car. The subway is really easy to figure out and it’s extremely convenient. You can always take a yellow taxi if you’re not too fond of subways. If you plan on staying in NYC for a week or so, you can buy an unlimited card at the subway for 7 days (or longer) and you save a lot of money that way.

“How can I get the best prices for shows I want to go to or museums I want to visit?”

Book in advance! I know this limits your freedom a little bit, but if there’s something you really want to do, google it (weeks) before you leave and see if they have any discounts for booking in advance. Also, if you’re staying at a hotel you can always ask them for special deals and more information.

New York City is expensive, but if you spend (a lot of) time planning everything it’ll be way more affordable! If you need more general information on how to book flights and hotels, click here & here!

I hope I helped you out a little bit, if you have any more questions, feel free to ask them and I’ll try to answer them in the best way possible.

xo naomi