Popular Posts

10 Budgeting Travel Rules I live by

I wanted to write about a few budget travel tips I have accumulated over the years. I love traveling, but obviously I'm a student and I have to watch my money. I don't have an endless budget, but I have always prioritized travel as an important way to develop and learn about other cultures. Budget travel has gotten me to see most of Europe over the last couple of years and you can do that too.

As a student your financial situation can be precarious. Most students have study debts and have to be careful with their finances. I'm the same as any other student, keeping a side job just to get everything paid for. Any savings I have left, I put towards traveling, but I am careful about what I want to spent it on. I'm not going to splurge on an expensive flight to the other side of the world and instead would rather keep some savings and pick out a shorter distance flight to a country in Europe.

1. One of the most important things to budget on in my opinion is accommodation. I don't need a fancy hotel. I'm just as fine bunking with other travelers in a dorm room. I spent two weeks last summer inter railing through Europe with a friend and we stayed anywhere from dorm rooms to camp sides and did that for about 15 euros a night. A place to sleep is just a place to sleep.

2. Getting the basics of a trip well organized, can save you a lot of money. Booking flights at the right time, bunking with other people, using other cheap transport modes and just a simple thing as doing research can save you a lot of money. I know Ryanair for example always has some cheap deals flying from Eindhoven. I always make sure I'll check their website first. If you want to go really cheap you can also use companies such as Bla Bla Car or take the bus.

3. Another tip would be not to go out for dinner every single night. I love food shopping in another country and I love finding a place for a picnic. It can be just as much fun to eat your dinner under the night sky or during a sunset. During the day it's also a good idea to pack your own snacks, that way you can save a lot of money, instead of splurging on cake and/or lunch every single day.

4. If you do decide to go out for dinner, I'd suggest looking for restaurants in the quieter areas of the city. It's often cheaper, more local and better than the restaurants you can find in touristic spots or on main squares.

5. I always make sure I bring my own travel guide and source the internet for must sees. It can be tempting to try anything and everything and feel like you have to visit the expensive touristic sights. If you do your research, it might be that you can find a cheap alternative and you might realise the sight wasn't even worth it. I also often keep in mind that when the outside of a building is beautiful, it isn't necessarily true that the inside will be just as beautiful. I always ask myself if I really want to pay to visit the inside or if I'm just as fine with admiring it from afar.

6. Remember why you travel. It's important to know what drives your travel. What are your must sees and what makes you happy? For me that thing is to get lost and get to know the true culture of a certain city of place. I love just wandering around with my little guide and I get proper giddy when I discover a hidden square or beautiful street. That's what I travel for and it doesn't even cost me any money to do that. For others it might be something different, but it's great to keep that in mind as it can be something to focus on and make your experience in the city or other side unique.

7. Free walking tours are a great invention to get to know a city in a unique and cheap way.

8. Don't forego any of your must do's, because you will regret it and don't feel like you have to visit something, just because everyone else is doing it.

9. The cheapest way to discover a city is on foot. Take your time. Why rush undergrounds when you're here to discover new things?

10. One last tip is to never go for the cheapest option, always go for the cheaper option. You don't want to end up ill from bad food you've eaten and you don't want to regret not doing something because you wanted to save money. Go for something that is cheaper and think carefully about what you do, but never go for the worst and cheapest option, because I find that it won't make your trip enjoyable. There are some things you don't want to compromise. You're on holiday after all and you're allowed to live a little.

I hope you enjoyed this post and you will keep these things in mind. Do you have any tips you have that I can use in the future too?

Stop and Pause

When your world moves too fast and you lose yourself in the chaos, introduce yourself to each colour of the sunset. Reacquiant yourself with the world around your feet. Thank the air that surrounds you with every breath you take. Find yourself in the appreciation of life.

- Christy Ann Martine

I'm going on an undefined blogging hiatus. It might just be a couple of days or weeks, it might be a month or more. I'm sorry to any frequent readers who have been following my blog. I lost my inspiration and mindset to blog over the last few weeks and I feel like a couple of weeks to refocus and refresh would do me good. Uni life has been mental and if there's is one thing I've realized over the past few weeks, is that it's impossible for me to create anything when I'm feeling stressed. I have so many things on my mind that I can't focus and with course work completely packed over the next month, I don't think I will have that much time. There is no space besides course work and classes at the moment, no free time to do what I want. I even spent my weekend working.  

The fact is that I don't want to pressure myself in writing on here at the moment, especially when it's stressing me out. My course is my number one priority. For now that deserves my focus and after this period is over, I will hopefully be able to tackle this blog again. It might be that there will be an odd post, but it might also not be. I hope I will come back feeling refreshed with new ideas.

All the best wishes and see you soon.

PS. There will still be another post scheduled for Wednesday, but after that it's going to be a radio silence from this side.

My Happy List #4

I miss the beach.

This week has gone by in a blurred rush of work and sunshine. Before I know it, it's 7pm and another Sunday and I realise that I still have to write about my week. It has been a really busy. Course work is really starting to pick up once more. The course I'm doing right now is supposed to be one of the toughest of my entire college career and it's really something I have to focus on right now despite also wanting to work on this blog. Apart from being busy it has also been a week full of sunshine. I've loved long sunny evenings out on terraces with friends and having the windows wide open while I work. Sadly that has all ended this weekend and we're back to it being colder than at Christmas last year. Hopefully this spell won't last long and we're back to the nice weather soon.

I have a list of things that made me especially happy this week:

1. Coming home to the puppy on Friday after a week away and her going crazy with happiness at seeing me. I guess we both missed each other.

2. That same puppy being absolutely adorable. She's learned to fetch a ball just today.

3. Eurovision full of cheesy songs and political comments, watched on the sofa with my family and a tub of ice cream. Dream life right there.

4. The amazing weather we had up until Friday. I spent a few lovely evenings out in the beer garden.

5. Max Verstappen winning the Spain GP on his debut for Red Bull this afternoon. I still can't believe it. I have been following every race since he started in the formula 1 and it's great to see a fellow dutchman doing so well. I'm a nationalist at heart really, so this is great. The whole family was cheering him on and now I can't stop watching replays. I'm just so happy for him, many great races to come.

6. This might be a little weird, but I love commuting back home by train every Friday. I had a bit of time this friday and decided to go a different route home.

7. Strawberries, Melon, Apples. Basically all the fruit.

8. The amazing comments people are leaving on here. I have realized that I don't care about the numbers my blog is attracting, but it's so nice to read lovely comments. It's definitely made me realize that I should comment on other people's blog more often too. It's definitely the most amazing feeling to get a super nice comment from someone.

9. Finding that sweet window seat spot where I can catch the last rays of sunshine of the day.

10. Getting my camera back, finally.

11. Lastly, this amazing vlog from the Michalaks. They outdo themselves week in week out. This one has to be one of my favourites. It has definitely encouraged me to do something spontaneous and creative.

Here's to another week gone by. How has your week been?

A walk through the Alfama Quarter in Lisbon

After our morning at the Botanical Gardens we made our way across the city to the Alfama Quarter and the castle at the top. I did some research before we went and apparently this was a must visit. It's the oldest district in Lisbon and one of the only areas that survived the Great Earthquake of 1755. There are still cracks visible on buildings now and again. We wandered down the little alleys and steep staircases and wandered upon hidden square after hidden square, each more beautiful than the next.

This has to have been one of my favourite places we visit during the time we were there. It's very easy to imagine yourself living there. Washing hangs from the houses everywhere and old man watch on from their doorways. Now and again you come across another tourist, but it's not nearly as disneyfied as other places (Venice immediately crosses my mind). People really live here. It feels like you get a slice of what it's like to live in Lisbon. I loved that.

If there is one piece of advice I would give you when you visit this area is to just get lost. We wandered upon the most beautiful little squares or small alleys on accident that you wouldn't be able to find when following the map. We did get lost and wandered in the totally wrong direction. It took us on a bit of a detour. In Alfama that isn't a bad thing though.

We stopped at a little cafe for a spot of lunch and a nice warming cup of tea. We had wondered all morning and the beginning of the afternoon. We were so ready to sit down for a bit and just people watch. I had one of the tastiest quiches I've ever had. If I remember correctly it was simply cheese, ham, tomato and mushrooms. Simple is often best.

After a bit of a chilled down we made our way further up to the castle. You wouldn't think it would be difficult to find, but it honestly took us ages. When you're in the neighborhood, the castle is only sporadically visible and hard to find. We ended up going in the completely wrong direction, but eventually arrived to this beautiful view.

The wind was strong and it was quite cold up there, but the views were completely worth it. The castle itself isn't big and honestly not necessarily worth a visit. There aren't any particular beautiful rooms or anything as it wasn't a castle people actually lived in and every space looks pretty much the same. The views definitely make up for it though. And the peacocks too. They honestly make the weirdest sound, a bit like a fake cat sound.

Both the district below and the castle are worth a visit. If I were to return to Lisbon at some point, I'd definitely pay another visit to the neighborhood, though if you aren't up for paying for the castle, you might as well skip it and won't miss that much. Miradouros in the neighborhood might be just as stunning.

My Happy List #3

Third week in a row. Yes!

A week of firsts this has been. It has been the first week that we were able to spent with our puppy, the first 'heat wave' of the year, our first family barbecue of the year and the first trip in the car with the roof open to get ice cream. I'm so happy to be able to wear summer dresses and sandals again. I always love that first week of warm weather that always happens at one point  in May/June. This excitement for summer, before the heat starts to bore you. I love it. I'm now sitting in my makeshift sunbathing spot by the window.

:: I like to wish my mum the best Mother's Day she could possibly have. She's the best and I love her so so so much. Half the time, I don't think I even deserve her. Though I guess we all say that about our mums. One day a year is not nearly enough. I should show my gratitude for her more often. I already gave her my present a few weeks ago when we went to see Birdy in concert together. I love those mum/daughter trips. They will never grow old.

:: I'm writing this now, while still riding on a high from the exciting climax to football this year. In the Netherlands Ajax were bound to be champions on goal difference this afternoon, but they dropped  two points in the last game of the season and now somehow PSV ended up being champions. Life is good, when the football is good and honestly this year it's been outstanding. Especially since Leicester are now also champions in Engeland too. I love it when underdogs win. I'm also very sorry if this football talk is too much for you. I completely understand if you hate it, but I honestly can't help but love it. It makes me giddy when my team(s) win.

:: The pup has been very cheeky this week (and adorable). She's a right little terror, but I can't get mad at her. She's just too cute. This week she's learned that my dad's slippers are extremely interesting and  that she likes feet, cords, shoe laces, hair to pull on. She's also learned to climb the stairs and crawl through the stair gate we put up. She's also apparently afraid of people sneezing. Too adorable, I can't help it.

:: Yesterday my grandparents came over for an impromptu barbecue. The first one of the year. It was absolutely lovely. It's seems like we're rolling into summer already and for now I'm enjoying the heck out if it. Bring on more balmy summer nights, yesterday was a teaser.

:: Other things I particularly liked this week: reading my book whenever I can, buckets of strawberries, strawberry and lemon cake, afternoon's lazing in the sun, trips to get ice cream, driving with the roof off.

:: I've also fallen in love with a new blog again this week: Alexa Moyer

I'm now going to enjoy these last rays of sunshine and then I'm eating strawberry cake and the latest episode of Masterchef Australia. If you have any posts like these let me know in the comments, I love to read them.

Lisbon: An Evening Walk & Jardim Botânico

It's something my best friend and I do every year: take a trip somewhere together. Two weeks ago it was time to go to Lisbon. The years previous we have been to both Paris and London, but this year we thought it a good idea to visit a city neither of us had been to before. A combination of cheap flights, warm weather and beautiful architecture made the decision to go to Lisbon rather easy.

We met up at Eindhoven airport around noon on a Monday and started of with a Starbucks coffee while waiting for our flight. I revel in being at airports and flying in planes. I love the excitement and anticipation. Daphne, however is afraid of flying, which always makes me temper my excitement a bit and often means I spent the bigger part of the time, trying to calm her down.. We arrived early in the evening and after a quick trip undergrounds into the city we reached our place of residence for the next few nights.

The Lost Inn Lisbon is a great, affordable alternative to your standard hotel. I'd recommend it in a heart beat. The beds were clean and comfortable with crisp sheets, breakfast was included and the location perfect. I honestly had nothing to complain about. Lately, whenever I travel somewhere, it is usually a hostel. They are just way more fun than hotels are. I still have to try my first AirBnB though, so maybe I'd be a complete convert after that. I don't know why but I'm still a bit cautious with AirBnB. I have heard such amazing things, but somehow hostels and hotels feel like a safer/easier option.

We had a small balcony attached to our room with a beautiful view of the neighboring houses.

The weird thing about hostels is that from the outside they somehow always looks non existent, but then when you ring a doorbell, all of a sudden a whole hostel blooms up behind the door with a dozen or so rooms and a cosy living room and kitchen.

After a quick tour of the hostel and a change of outfit, we decided to head out on a short evening walk. Our main purpose was to find some food. However, we didn't quite make it to a restaurant. Instead we wandered around for a bit. Taking in the city at first sight and trying to familiarize it. We somehow ended up in Baixa and stumbled upon right upon the main square by the river: Praça do Comércio. Lisbon was so lovely that night, even if it was drizzling now and again. It felt like we were far away from home, in an exotic country, full of amazing smells and beautiful tiles everywhere.  Eventually we realized that we should eat something. Grabbing a sandwich, we ate it on the steps of the statue of King Joseph I, overlooking the river. And it was perfect.

When the rain grew a little bit more heavy and we were cold to the bone (we stupidly went out without our coats), we decided to head back to the hostel for a cup of tea and a good night's sleep.

The next morning a visit to the botanical gardens was on the planning. We woke up relatively early, ready to start a day full of wandering and discovering. Before we could reach the gardens, we had to walk a few steep streets. In the process we came across our first elevator and Miradouro and immediately had a beautiful view of the entire city. We also came across our first tiled houses. Those tiled fronts really made this city into something special and unique. I kind of developed a bit of a crush. Definitely a city I'm going to return too in the future.

Mornings are most definitely my favourite time of the day. I love how the lighting is still soft and people are either smiling or slightly sleepy. It's the start of a new day and new opportunities. It's amazing how a city trip can give a sense of what it will be like in everyday life. It's so much more authentic than your typical tourist beach resort.

Elevator de Glória, the first of many. Not your typical mode of transport.

There are four other elevators connecting the lower part of Lisbon with the high city. Everywhere miradouros are situated. Each view as unique as the next. I think this one was one of my favorites, because of the views you have of the castle and the whole city below. After this we made our way to the Botanical gardens.

The Botanical Gardens were stunning. Situated in the middle of an unassuming street, we almost walked beyond it. The front entrance was so sobering, we wondered if it was worth paying 2 euros for a view. I'm so glad we did though. I think it was one of the best times we could have visited. A lot of trees were already blooming and everything around us was green.

Those palm trees were majestic. I've never seen such a tall tree in my life, though to be honest, I've not been anywhere tropical yet. It was such a quiet oasis. We felt very far away from the cold Dutch countryside and the busy city that stretched out beyond the walls around this garden.

This is where I would like to meet my future lover. It seems like the perfect bench to meet someone. I love all the different shades of green.

After wandering around the gardens for a good hour, we made a last stop at the butterfly green house. I didn't spot too many, sadly, but it did make me want to visit more butterfly gardens. And botanical gardens at that.

As far as Botanical Gardens go, this was a stunner. It definitely made me realise that I don't visit them nearly enough. Next up my list are the Hortus Botanicus and New Botanical Gardens in Utrecht, Kew Gardens in London and Keukenhof in Amsterdam, though I might be too late for that one, as I wait for my camera to be fixed. Definitely on the list though, I can't resist a tulip festival.

Part 1 of my city trip to Lisbon, more to follow next week. Also, sorry it took so long, I always forget how long these kinds of posts take. This one took me over a week.
© My Return Ticket. Design by MangoBlogs.